Monthly Archives: November 2019

Grace VanderWaal is at the Top of Her Game With Letters: Vol. 1

Rating: ★★★★★ Grace VanderWaal is on a roll. The rapidly ascending singer/songwriter opened 2019 with a brooding single called “Stray.” She closes the year out with a brand new six-song EP entitled Letters: Vol. 1. And just what did she accomplish in between? I’m glad you asked. Miss VanderWaal released a soundtrack single for a major motion picture (Wonder Park), opened a handful of gigs for none other than Florence and the Machine, entertained a massive crowd at the Railbird Festival in Kentucky, before taking to the road for a sold out headlining tour of her own. Oh, and did I mention she had to squeeze all that in while keeping her grades up in school? You won’t hear me complain about my schedule ever again.

Listening to the tracks on the new EP, it’s easy to hear the time and effort that has been spent on creating this collection. The songs here are fresh and focused, filled with determination and life. The opening track, “Intro (Gucci Shoes),” is a short, playful piece. The lyrics seem poke fun at the vanity of self-make overs, of trying to be something other than who or what we really are:

I just bought some new Gucci shoes

Wasted my college funds just to look cute

Forty minutes to look like I did it in two

Maybe I am vain, so are you

 

So I got a new wig, got some new clothes

Then made some new friends that I don’t even know

And I got a new wig, got some new clothes

I learned a new dance, got a new nose

This theme runs through other songs as well. “Poser,” the second track in the collection, speaks to alienation and being fake, a poser, a person maybe not comfortable or confident in her (or his) own skin.

“I Don’t Like You” is another take on the age-old notion of being in love with somebody that you just don’t like. You simply cannot live with this person any longer—despite what you may still feel in your heart. This is a catchy number, one that will have fans singing along with VanderWaal for years to come, whenever she breaks it out during her live shows.

“UR So Beautiful” is a gem of delicate beauty; one of those songs that sticks in my head long after I’ve put my iPod away. It’s the vocal that sets the mood and carries with it a gentle vibe threaded throughout the song.

My current favorite of this collection has to be “Waste My Time.” As with the first track, there’s a playfulness embedded within the song. But there’s also a 1970s-esque bounce beneath the foundation of the track, one that will most certainly have them dancing in the clubs. I’ve said this elsewhere, but it deserves repeating: get this young lady a bass player, and her live band will rival the best in the business.

The final song in the collection is a guitar-driven piece called “The City.” Loneliness and frustration portray the lyrics in a melancholy haze. Grace’s vocal is both pleading and dismissive all at once, needing and wanting, but so over that selfish somebody. In this track I hear potential for lots of radio air play—or maybe as the soundtrack to a movie break-up scene.

Letters: Vol. 1 is solid from start to finish; it’s some of Grace VanderWaal’s best material thus far. If I were to utter a single negative, I would say it’s simply too short. But I’ll not lodge that complaint. I choose to be grateful for this wonderful bounty of new music.

 

Welcome to #RRBC’s NOVEMBER “SPOTLIGHT” Author Blog Tour!

Today, it is my great honor to share with you a fantastic author and an amazing human being. Introducing Rave Reviews Book Club’s SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR for November, D. L. Finn! 

Take it away, D. L. . .

Thank you for having me on your blog for day one of the Just Her Poetry Spotlight tour!

Finn Facts:

  1. I won the first place ribbon, at our local fair, of an icicle picture taken near Reno, NV.
  2. I’ve almost drowned in a river, pool, and the ocean, but I still love to swim.

 

Blurb:

Take a journey with D.L. Finn as she blends her love of nature with her deepest emotions. Sit with her on the forest floor observing its tranquil beauty, or stroll along the ocean’s shore admiring the vastness of its horizon. Here in these peaceful moments you’ll be able to experience her thoughts and feelings in the light—and in the darkness. This is a thought-provoking collection of poetry that invites the reader into all the seasons of a soul.

Excerpt from Just Her Poetry: NATURE Spring and Summer

SPRING SUN

I sit outside in the spring sun

Listening to the birds sing

As a bee hums near me searching.

Small patches of snow are slushy

Everything’s waking up from the dormant season

The cats are exploring…the dogs sunbathing.

I relax in the warmth that renews my soul.

It is a day for new beginnings…a new seed

A place to plant buried dreams in the stars

In the fertile magic of a perfect day in spring.

Amazon Purchase Link

D.L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to the Sierra foothills in Nevada City, CA. She immersed herself in reading all types of books, but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, being surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations vary from children’s books, young adult fantasy, and adult paranormal romance to an autobiography with poetry. She continues on her adventures with an open invitation for her readers to join her.

D.L. Finn Links:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

D.L. Finn blog

More Purchase Links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

 

Welcome to Part 2 of “THE MEREST LOSS” Blog Tour! @StevenNeil12 @4WillsPub #RRBC

Q & A THREE

Getting to know Steven Neil, the author of THE MEREST LOSS.

A story of love and political intrigue, set against the backdrop of the English hunting shires and the streets of Victorian London and post-revolutionary Paris.

 

The Learning Process

 

  1. The ability to write is a gift. True or false?

It is a gift that most of us have, to a greater or lesser extent. What is missing is usually application. Having said that, not all writers are created equal and some people do seem to have the ability to write effortlessly. Lucky them.

  1. Some people think that writing cannot be taught. What do you think?

Clearly no one can teach you to be a great writer. You have to have some feeling for language and a story to tell. However, I think the craft of writing, the technical ability to write grammatically, to be able to describe character and to be competent in building the arc of a story, can be taught. It is no certainty, however, that the skills will be learnt.

  1. How did you learn to be a writer?

I studied English Literature and Creative Writing at the Open University. It took me five years to complete my degree. I enjoyed it so much I carried on and took a one year Masters in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes. I also read almost a lifetime of books!

  1. What experiences have been most useful to you in honing you skills?

My formal education and my reading helped me, but I have probably learned most from getting feedback from other authors on my drafts.

  1. Have you read any helpful texts on writing?

Stephen King: On Writing

  1. Which authors do you regard highly for their technical excellence?

Amongst nineteenth century writers I think Anthony Trollope is the master craftsman. Amongst modern writers Kazuo Ishiguro, Hilary Mantel and William Boyd are technically excellent but they are also great storytellers.

  1. Would you recommend creative writing courses?

I would absolutely recommend courses, but I do understand that my courses were taken at a time when tuition fees were much lower than they are now and it is hard to justify the cost of a degree course.

  1. What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

Stick to your guns. Whilst all the advice I have been given along the way has been helpful, one particular development editor thought I should rewrite The Merest Loss from a different point of view. I’m glad I took the conscious decision not to change it.

  1. What do you wish you had known before you started writing?

I have mixed feelings about this. I am proud of my novel The Merest Loss and pleased with the critical feedback. However, if I had understood the true economics of publishing, where even a successful novel brings meagre financial rewards for an author, I might have done something else with the time I invested. Who knows?

  1. What would you recommend to someone setting out as a writer?

Read a lot. Write a lot.

 © Steven Neil

THE MEREST LOSS is available in paperback and eBook in the UK, US, France, Canada and Australia.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Merest-Loss-Steven-Neil-ebook/dp/B077D9SHB5

https://www.amazon.com/Merest-Loss-Steven-Neil-ebook/dp/B077D9SHB5

https://www.amazon.fr/Merest-Loss-English-Steven-Neil-ebook/dp/B077D9SHB5

https://www.amazon.ca/Merest-Loss-Steven-Neil-ebook/dp/B077D9SHB5

https://www.amazon.com.au/Merest-Loss-Steven-Neil-ebook/dp/B077D9SHB5

Follow Steven Neil on https://twitter.com/stevenneil12 for information on how to purchase the paperback through an independent bookseller in the UK.

4Wills Blog Tour

 Book

The Merest Loss by Steven Neil  ISBN: 1788039718

Blurb

‘A story of love and political intrigue, set against the backdrop of the English hunting shires and the streets of Victorian London and post-revolutionary Paris.

When Harriet Howard becomes Louis Napoleon’s mistress and financial backer and appears at his side in Paris in 1848, it is as if she has emerged from nowhere. How did the English daughter of a Norfolk boot-maker meet the future Emperor? Who is the mysterious Nicholas Sly and what is his hold over Harriet?
Can Harriet meet her obligations and return to her former life and the man she left behind? What is her involvement with British Government secret services? Can Harriet’s friend, jockey Tom Olliver, help her son Martin solve his own mystery: the identity of his father?’

Genres

Historical Fiction and Victorian Historical Romance

Bio

Steven has a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics, a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the Open University and an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University. He has been a bookmaker’s clerk, bloodstock agent, racehorse breeder and management consultant amongst other professions in his varied career. He is married and lives in rural Northamptonshire, England. The Merest Loss is his debut novel.

Twitter

@stevenneil12

IAN author page

https://www.independentauthornetwork.com/steven-neil.html

Email

stevenneil1@aol.com

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.  
 
Thanks for supporting this author and his work!