Monthly Archives: December 2021

Fun Read: My Review of Girl Wears Those Shoes.

41s4c7CaCZL._SX346_BO1,204,203,200_

Book Blurb:

Aspiring young Chinese immigrant Gigi O survives by working as a stripper, but she strives for true success in the U.S. real-estate industry. Navigating this highly competitive business is tough, especially when her only support comes from the deeply flawed man she loves and her old cohorts from the strip club. Issues of betrayal and trust, loyalty and commitment complicate her goals even as one lesbian friend adds new dimensions to her understanding of love versus desire. Then the market crashes and financial turmoil threatens to rob Gigi O of all she has achieved. Can she find new ways to chase her dreams—and still manage to keep her clothes on? Or might she find a better reason to take them off? Girl Wears Those Shoes is a tale of love and power, the story of one woman who wants to make the world her own—if only she can figure out how.

My Review:

Rating: ★★★★★

Girl Wears Those Shoes tells the story of Gigi O, a young Chinese American woman at a crossroads in her life. She’s barely getting the bills paid while dancing in a strip club. Sure, Gigi may be a popular girl at the club, but she wants more out of life than her current circumstances can afford. Like most humans, she craves love and success and stability. When Gigi enters the world of real estate, her prospects begin to brighten.

Author Jenny Wang has crafted a story that reads like a memoir, even though it is fiction. Her characters offer a variety of personalities and subplots. Romance and lost love share the same spaces in this story set in Houston, Texas. This is Jenny Wang’s first story. It will be interesting to see where she takes these characters, should she choose to write a sequel. A fun read indeed.

About the Author:

Rp2z7B8S_400x400After two decades in the real-estate industry, Jenny Wang has established her brand, “Jenny Wang Houston,” with JWang Properties, a boutique agency with a personal touch, and JWang Media, a custom-video production team for promotion and marketing. An active community booster, Jenny is the past president of the Women’s Council of Realtors, Houston Network. An Ambassador of the Houston Ballet, she holds a lifetime membership in the University of Houston Alumni Association. Author of her debut novel, Girl Wears Those Shoes, Jenny Wang is proud to live her principles even as she pursues her own unique vision.

Where to Buy:

amazon-logo

download

Last Words of the Famous

Everybody dies at the end. Even the stars—unless you believe in reincarnation, then there’s a potential chance for a sequel. It’s just the way life in this world is set up. In the famous words of Jim Morrison, “No one here gets out alive.” Famous words, sure enough. But those were not his last.

gettyimages-55653323-copyWhat exactly were Morrison’s last uttered words? Well, if his girlfriend Pamela Courson is to be believed, Jim’s final words were, allegedly, “Are you there, Pam? Pam, are you there?” She found him dead in the bathtub a short while later.

Final words, as heard by those who claim to have been there at the end, can be humorous or sad or startling or even eye-opening. They may give comfort to loved ones left behind or pause for thought to fans who never knew the deceased as anything other than a star.

Here is a selection of last words uttered by famous people as they slipped the surly bonds of earth.

gettyimages-515986080James Dean, actor, two-time Oscar nominee, as he drove a silver Porsche Spyder on his way to a race in Salinas, California: “That guy’s gotta stop . . . He’ll see us.” Unfortunately, the guy in question, a 23-year-old student named Donald Turnupseed, did not see the car in time and turned directly into its path. According to Dean’s passenger, mechanic Rolf Wutherich, Dean survived for about twenty minutes following the wreck, screaming in agony.

Legendary actress Joan Crawford left this world an angry and bitter soul. As Crawford’s life drew to its conclusion, her housekeeper began to pray aloud for the woman’s soul. Before breathing her last, Crawford is reported to have snapped, “Dammit . . . Don’t you dare ask God to help me.”

Actor, comedian, and musician Dudley Moore’s final words seem to suggest an experience of sorts. As companion Rena Fruchter held his hand, Moore allegedly said aloud, “I can hear the music all around me.”

Hollywood legend John Wayne spent his last days drifting in and out of consciousness. His daughter, Aissa Wayne, tending a bedside vigil, held his hand and asked if he knew who she was. The Duke responded, saying, “Of course I know who you are. You’re my girl. I love you.”

In the humorous category, author Oscar Wilde, lying on his deathbed in a fleabag hotel in Paris, is reported to have uttered, “This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do.”

Family members at the bedside of Apple founder Steve Jobs say his dying words were, “Oh, wow. Oh, wow. Oh, wow.” Simple words, really, for such a momentous occasion.

Frank Sinatra passed away after saying, “I’m losing it.”

American rhythm and blues singer Johnny Ace, while playing with a pistol, utter these final words: “I’ll show you that it won’t shoot.”

Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, passed away at the age of 71 while working in his garden. He turned to his wife and said, “You are wonderful,” then clutched his chest and died.

MV5BMzEyNjQzOTQ5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNzY5MjI2._V1_UX178_CR0,0,178,264_AL_Michael Landon, the beloved star of such classic television shows like Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie, passed away in 1991 after a much-publicized battle with cancer. As the end drew near, Landon’s family gathered around the actor’s bed. His son said it was time to move on. Landon said, “You’re right. It’s time. I love you all.”

Percy Grainger, the Australian composer, with his dying breath, told his wife Ella, “You’re the only one I like.”

Ernest Hemingway, before committing suicide with his favorite shotgun, told his wife Mary, “Goodnight, my kitten.” Hemingway took his life in the front foyer of his home in Ketchum, Idaho.

Basketball great “Pistol” Pete Maravich collapsed and died during a pickup game. Moments before his death, Maravich proclaimed, “I feel great.”

Singer/guitarist Bo Diddley died while listening to the song “Walk Around Heaven.” His last word was a simple “Wow.”

Sir Winston Churchill announced, “I’m bored with it all,” before drawing his last breath.

Emily Dickinson, at her moment of death, told those in the room with her, “I must go in, for the fog is rising.”

Author Truman Capote, as he lay dying of liver disease, phlebitis, and multiple drug intoxication, repeated, “Mama— Mama— Mama.”

James Brown, the hardest working man in show business, as his life dwindled down to mere seconds, said, “I’m going away tonight.”

Perhaps the most thought-provoking final word comes from the surgeon Joseph Henry Green. Upon checking his own pulse as he lay upon his death bed, simply said, “Stopped.”

Whether we’re famous or anonymous, we can’t know what our last words in this world might be. That moment may come along while we’re busy preparing for tomorrow. The Bible tells us to never let the sun go down on your anger. Wise words, those. As for my own last words? Whatever they may be, I just hope they convey a message of love, of gratitude, of forgiveness.

Kindness Versus the Truth: Which One Wins?

Just a little observation.

Angry woman screaming on the phone

Kindness versus the truth: Which one wins? It’s a simple enough question—though it may take a heated debate to smooth away all the various rough edges. Some will say you cannot have one without the other. I disagree.

The truth is often brutal in its honesty. If an individual on the receiving end isn’t prepared to hear the unvarnished facts, they will, no doubt, view the messenger as unkind—maybe even evil. This is a prevailing symptom of an all-too-common disease plaguing the world today. And just what is this new plague? It’s the idea that we can no longer offer opinions without some individual on social media becoming offended, hurt, or angered, as if by merely stating an opinion, you have personally attacked another by virtue of their having stumbled upon your tweet or blog or Facebook post.

Okay. Let me explain. On a recent Friday night, I came across a Tweet from an author asking a credible question:

Do you ever feel like the characters are writing the story for you?

Simple enough. And it’s a legitimate inquiry. Many authors tweeted their response. Most of them said, yes, they often feel their characters are writing their stories.

I weighed in with my own opinion. I tweeted:

I am the author, the creator. My characters do not exist without me. They do not have the ability to act independent of me. If they write for me, I am not the author. Those who claim the characters write for them are either short-changing themselves or they aren’t real writers.

Two angry men with crumpled paper

Again, this is simply my opinion in answering the question posed. Well, my opinion earned scorn and derision from a pair of writers who took my words as an attack on them personally. Offended, they were. How dare I “crap” all over another writer’s “process!” Well, no. Claiming your characters are the ones writing your story isn’t a “process.” I do understand the mindset. I get where these people are coming from. You get lost in the creative elements and it feels as if the story is unfolding on its own.

But it isn’t. You, as the writer, are constructing every character, every line of dialogue, building every scene. You did all the leg work in plotting and planning. We all do—regardless of whether we outline our story or write it by the seat of our pants. Even those so-called pantsers usually have some idea where the story will go before they set pen to paper—or tap those keys. When I hear somebody claim the characters are doing the writing, I get the feeling this person might be making it all up as they go along—not a clue as to where it’s going or how they’ll get there.

This brings me back to the title question: Kindness versus truth: Which one wins? You can express kindness in telling an athlete they lack the skills to play organized football, but it’s still going to hurt. You’ve just crushed a dream.

American-Idol-Simon-Cowell-Mary-Roach

Over the last two decades, I have watched many seasons of the television show American Idol. The program has been a springboard for some incredibly gifted singers and musicians. We’ve become familiar with their songs, their voices, their names. However, for every Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood, there are dozens of individuals who did not make it beyond the audition stage. I recall many alleged singers who were just plain awful. You can find some of those bad auditions on YouTube, should you need a reference point.

Anyway, when the judges dismissed these performers, telling them that they didn’t have what it takes to move on to the next round, many of the rejected contestants responded by hurling angry insults at those who have built successful careers in the music business.

“How dare you say I can’t sing! My mother says I’m as good as Lady Gaga.”

As writers, most of us have cultivated thick skins. We need it in this line of creativity. Our work is ultimately sent out into the world to be read, judged, criticized, and dissected. For all the positive reviews our work may garner, there will be those who view it in a negative light.

They didn’t connect with your protagonist.

They couldn’t follow the plot.

They just didn’t believe the dialogue rang true.

It happens to the best of us.

Now, to my point in this observation. If you’re a writer, don’t take the little things so personally. If a bad review comes your way, read it, search for those criticisms you might use, then move on. Don’t linger. Don’t replay the negative remarks over and over inside your head. The same goes for opinions—especially those shared in a tweet. They really shouldn’t matter to the writer. Opinions are often little more than the observations of others. If you believe your characters are writing your story, then so be it. Who am I to say otherwise? Just write, create, have fun, and the opinions of others be damned.

And work on that thick skin.

If you offer your work to the world, you’re going to need it.

 

Girl Wears Those Shoes Available for Pre-Order!

41s4c7CaCZL._SX346_BO1,204,203,200_Aspiring young Chinese immigrant Gigi O survives by working as a stripper, but she strives for true success in the U.S. real-estate industry. Navigating this highly competitive business is tough, especially when her only support comes from the deeply flawed man she loves and her old cohorts from the strip club. Issues of betrayal and trust, loyalty and commitment complicate her goals even as one lesbian friend adds new dimensions to her understanding of love versus desire. Then the market crashes and financial turmoil threatens to rob Gigi O of all she has achieved. Can she find new ways to chase her dreams-and still manage to keep her clothes on? Or might she find a better reason to take them off? Girl Wears Those Shoes is a tale of love and power, the story of one woman who wants to make the world her own-if only she can figure out how.

About the Author:

Rp2z7B8S_400x400After two decades in the real-estate industry, Jenny Wang has established her brand, “Jenny Wang Houston,” with JWang Properties, a boutique agency with a personal touch, and JWang Media, a custom-video production team for promotion and marketing. An active community booster, Jenny is the past president of the Women’s Council of Realtors, Houston Network. An Ambassador of the Houston Ballet, she holds a lifetime membership in the University of Houston Alumni Association. Author of her debut novel, Girl Wears Those Shoes, Jenny Wang is proud to live her principles even as she pursues her own unique vision.

FGQ9kDRXoAQX1S1 copy

FGQ8yVbWYAQtuv0 copy

FGQ8yWEXwA0Bg-C copy

 

 

 

 

 

FGQ8yUuXoAAI-fX copy

 

 

Where to Buy:

amazon-logo

download

Listen to Jenny’s Interview:

VOI 071 Dec 08 2021 - JWangClick on Placard to Listen!

My #Review of No Such Luck by @StaciTroilo

41S6chhBx2L

Book Blurb:

Piper Seidel has one thing going for her—a red carnation given to her by Tommy Burnett in the tenth grade. It might have dried over the years, but it’s still her good luck charm. Losing it sets her life in a downward spiral, forcing her to return to her hometown where she comes face to face with her high school crush.

The years have been kind to Tommy, who looks better than ever. Unfortunately, Piper is at her worst, continually embarrassing herself whenever he’s around. The only plus? Her long-time friend, Jack Rhodes, still lives in town. Since she last saw him, his legs have grown longer, his biceps thicker, and his shoulders broader. He was always the brother she never had, but now she can’t help noticing him in an unsisterly way. Jack is every bit as caring as he’s ever been—until her bad luck drives him away, maybe forever.

Piper needs a new good luck charm, and fast, before she loses her final chance at happiness.

My Review:

Rating: ★★★★★

Piper Seidel needs a break in life. After her petulance get her fired from another job, she loses a trusted good luck charm. Convinced life will be an uphill battle from that point on, Piper packs up the car and heads for her childhood home in snowy Pennsylvania.

Here, she reconnects with her father and stepmother, runs into her high school boyfriend, and discovers new feelings for another boy (now grown man) who’d once been her best friend.

The story unfolds with an air of a light romance. There’s a sweetness here that lures the reader into the tale. Troilo’s well-formed characters are believable and likeable. Her dialogue carries a realism that sometimes has readers feeling as if we’re eavesdropping on the conversations of others.

No Such Luck is a romance. And being a novella, it is also a quick read. If you’re into good, solid storytelling, this one is for you.

About the Author:

dfhh42a1hdhus29a37to9i89g2._SX450_

Staci Troilo grew up in Western Pennsylvania writing stories and poetry in her free time, so it was no surprise that she studied writing in college. After receiving creative and professional writing degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, she went on to get her Master’s Degree in Professional Writing, and she worked in corporate communications until she had her children. When they had grown, she went on to become a writing professor, and now she is a freelance writer and editor.

Staci is a multi-genre author. Her fiction is character-driven, and despite their protests, she loves to put them in all kinds of compromising or dangerous situations.

You can find out more about her on her website stacitroilo.com.

Where to Buy:

amazon-logo

 #NewRelease – Mountain Laurel Christmas #Christmas #ShortStory @JanSikes3

I am honored to host award-winning author Jan Sikes on the Indie Spot today. Jan is a gifted writer and a wonderful storyteller.

Holiday Mountain Laurel 1

For a young aspiring musician, getting noticed in Nashville is equivalent to us as authors, trying to get readers to find our books.

Andy Roberts arrived in Nashville a starry-eyed teenager. He put his name on the waitlist at the famed Tootsies Orchid Lounge. I wanted to make this the Bluebird Cafe, but since it didn’t open until 1984, and my story is set in the seventies, that didn’t work.

Nevertheless, he finally got his chance.

BookBrushImage12

Here’s the excerpt:

I have my name on the waitlist for months before a spot ever opens up. It was the biggest chance I’d get.  I showed up every night, hopeful. After all, it was common knowledge that’s where record executives went to discover new talent.

Nervous as a cat in a room full of rockers, when I finally get my fifteen minutes on the microphone, I sing and play my heart out. I never wanted anything as badly as I did that night. Just one person. That’s all it would take.

Corinna South approached me as I wiped down my guitar. My God, she was strikingly gorgeous. Pure confidence radiated from her as she flashed a thousand-watt smile.

“You’re damned good, kid,” she said. “Did you write those songs?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“How about you come to work for me? I’ll show you the ropes.”

I’d stuttered some stupid reply while her attention turned me various shades of red. Holy Hell! Corinna South was talking to me.

***

We often hear of artists who were discovered by playing open-mic nights at the Bluebird Cafe. Garth Brooks is one example. It’s a tough business. Have you ever personally known anyone who tried to break into the music business and either succeeded or failed?

Mountain Laurel Christmas Blurb:

Orphaned, his family torn apart by tragedy, Cole Knight has come a long way from a ramshackle miner’s cabin on the side of the Cumberland Mountain.

Daring to follow an impossible dream, he’s made it big in the music business. Now, he’s a country music sensation with a huge house, fancy cars, plenty of willing women, money, and adoring fans. He should be on top of the world. Instead, he’s drowning in a swirling pool of self-contempt and relentless guilt.

It’s easier to lose himself in a bottle than face the hard truth…he hasn’t delivered on a promise he made to his father.

It’s almost Christmas, and the sting of failure drives him back to that tiny cabin in the mountains. But has he waited too late to put the shattered pieces back together—to find himself and restore a lost family?

Mountain Laurel Coffee

GIVEAWAY!

PURCHASE LINK:

https://www.amazon.com/Mountain-Laurel-Christmas-Jan-Sikes-ebook/dp/B09KJYMVT9/

Jan_Sikes_Bio3 (1)

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

WEBSITE

BLOG

BOOKBUB

TWITTER

FACEBOOK

PINTEREST

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

YOUTUBE CHANNEL