Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Want to Read "Dancing and Doughnuts" Before Anyone Else?

The time has come!  I've got a release date for Dancing and Doughnuts: AUGUST 31!!!  Which, you'll no doubt realize, is one month from today.

And that means I'm going to need ARC readers.  Like my book Cloaked, this is a novella, around 200 pages.  It's Christian fiction, aimed mostly at YA readers, but enjoyable for adults too.  Like Cloaked, it is a non-magical retelling of a fairy tale set in the Old West.  This time, I'm retelling "The Twelve Dancing Princesses."  What do doughnuts have to do with it?  You'll have to read the book to find out.

Advance readers MUST be able to do the following:

  • Read a PDF or MOBI file
  • Finish reading the book and review it by September 3
  • Review the book at TWO or more of the following places:
    1. Your book review blog
    2. Goodreads
    3. Instagram
    4. Facebook

I will get you your e-copy of the book no later than Monday, August 20 (I'm still finalizing it).  That would give you two weeks to read it and write your review.

If you meet those qualifications, send me an email at rachelkovaciny at gmail dot com with "ARC Request" in the subject line.  Include links to your blog and public accounts at the other websites so I can check them out and see if you'd be a good fit for my book.  I can't give away unlimited numbers of free copies, so it'll be first come, first served.

NOTE:  Your blog does not have to be exclusively about books!  Just a blog where you do post book reviews.

Amazon no longer allows authors to "trade" copies of their book for reviews, so I cannot require you to leave a comment there.  However, obviously I would appreciate reviews there too, once it's for sale, because those are what help convince other people to give my books a try.  Reviews on sites like Amazon and the Barnes & Noble website are what indie authors survive on, really.

Monday, July 30, 2018

#WIPjoy in July -- Which Character Week

The final week of the #WIPjoy prompts was the most fun for me.  It was all about contrasting characters, and Dancing and Doughnuts has a much bigger cast than Cloaked and "The Man on the Buckskin Horse," so I was able to use different characters for all of them!

Day 24: Which character is the warmest?  Coldest?

This one features a mother and one of her many daughters.

Day 25: Which character is the most religious?  The least?

I suppose technically the minister might be the most religious guy in town, but I never gave him a name or any page time, so I went with a couple of other secondary characters who, while they never outright discuss religion in the book, definitely give this impression through their actions.

Day 26:  Which character is the most confident?  The least?

Half of this one was a gimme.  My protagonist is possibly too confident, to be honest.  The other half was tougher, but in the end, I went with a character who is quiet and stays in the background a lot because she likes it that way.

Day 28:  Which of your characters is the most chill?  Least chill?

I love this one because they tie together in fun ways -- one so worried and tightly wound because of what's happening in the story, and the other so laid-back and unperturbed by everything.  I love More Trouble, I really do -- he and his best friend just swaggered into my story right when I was starting to write the first draft, and I kept finding more and more things for them to do just because I enjoyed hanging out with them.  I had to cut them back a little, in the end, I'm afraid.

Well, I'm all done with the #WIPjoy in July challenge.  I hope you've had as much fun getting these little sneak peeks into Dancing and Doughnuts as I've had sharing them!  I really can't wait until you can just read the whole book for yourselves.  Soon!  In fact... this week, I'll be announcing the release date AND calling for ARC-reading volunteers, so stay tuned for that :-)

Saturday, July 28, 2018

"Mission: Impossible: Fallout" (2018) -- Initial Thoughts

Okay, so that was an incredibly stressful movie.  Eventually.  Not at first!  At first, it was quite fun.  Fun and bouncy and lots of little "haha, got you!" moments where they trick people with their masks and their tech and so on.  

Spoilage marked!

(SPOILER) All the scenes in the trailer, where it looks like Henry Cavill's throwing Tom Cruise thru walls and stuff?  Totally not.  Henry and Tom are working together to fight other people.  But then it all twists, and Henry's actually the bad guy, but he's convinced the CIA that Tom's the bad guy, and everybody's after him except Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames (END SPOILER), and it's all kinds of cat-and-mouse chases, which were fun, except there were a LOT of chase scenes.  

Oh, but there was one chase scene that busted me up because it HAS to be a nod to The Man from UNCLE (2015) -- Tom Cruise and Henry Cavill in a truck that they drive full-speed through an increasingly narrow alley until it gets stuck.  And since Tom was originally cast to play Napoleon Solo, but then Henry ended up stepping into the role because of M:I Rogue Nation going over its shooting schedule or whatever, and so it was really fun while Henry and Tom were working together (but never getting along) because of UNCLE thoughts.

And they wound Tom Cruise up and let him start running, and I think he ran for like 10 minutes.  Just ran and ran and ran and ran and ran.  Because he's Tom Cruise.  It's what he does.

Anyway, the ending was horribly tense, with him hanging off this helicopter and I have nightmares like that where I'm hanging off something and I lose my grip, and that's what happens to him, so I had to remind myself it was just a movie, he was going to be fine.  And if I have to do that, then it's too tense, because I have to purposely remove myself from the movie, and that's just annoying.  Then he and Henry were fighting at the edge of this cliff, and you know they're going to go over the cliff, and I was like, "JUST FALL ALREADY AND GET IT OVER WITH!" and then they did, and I was like, "It's just a movie, it's just a movie, nobody actually fell over that cliff," because that's my real-life fear, watching people fall off cliffs.

And so yeah, it was really tense and maybe I'll watch it again on DVD, but maybe not because I think that jumping jacks and bike rides are safer ways to get in my cardio workout than jacking up on that much adrenaline and terror.

(SPOILER) Also, they killed Alec Baldwin and I'm ANGRY.  (END SPOILER)

But Rebecca Ferguson was gorgeous and tough and I loved her.  

And Simon Pegg was funny, and Ving Rhames was loveable, and so that made me happy.

And I sat next to this lovely lady who was probably in her 70s, and she just got the biggest kick out of this movie.  It was like sitting next to my dad -- she totally reacted to stuff the way he does.  She was having the time of her life, and I should've like asked her to be my friend or something because she must be a barrel of fun to hang out with.  When it was done, she was all, "Whoooeee, that was a wild ride!" and I wanted to hug her, hee.

So, those are my initial thoughts.  Which were originally my email to DKoren when I got home from the movie, and I said all I had to say about the movie in that email, so I figured, why write it up twice?  And just shared it with you, with spoilaged marked :-)

Is this movie family friendly?  Contains the F-word and some other bad language.  LOTS of non-gory violence of the punching and stabbing and shooting sort.  One scene that involves strangulation and is hard to watch.  No innuendo or smutty scenes.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

#WIPjoy in July -- Character Takeover Week

Well... it's Thursday, and I'm finally getting a chance to post the WIPjoy pics from last week, so that tells you how this week has gone!  Our church's VBS (that I talked about in my last post) has been going fantastically well, but I'm reeeeeally tired when I get home.  Today, I'm managing to do some laundry and blogging, though, so yay!

Anyway, last week was "Character Takeover Week" and I let my characters answer the questions ;-)  

Day 16: Your main character talks about their childhood summers

My MC, Jedediah Jones, grew up on a farm in Minnesota with three older brothers.  His summers were busy and hot :-)

Day 17: Your antagonist shares their bedtime rituals

So... Dancing and Doughnuts actually has multiple antagonists.  But for this prompt, I chose Mayor Gatz to answer the question because he really does have a bedtime routine/ritual.

Day 18: A line from a minor character

John Kittredge is a local rancher who I did not originally have in the story.  He swaggered into my brain one day, worked himself into a scene, and wound up being fairly important to the whole plot.  Plus, he's really handsome.  And has a good sense of humor.  Can you tell I love him?

Day 19: Your main character shares something they're ashamed of

Jedediah Jones probably has a lot of dark stuff in his past, thanks to being in the Union Cavalry during the American Civil War.  But he doesn't like to dwell on the past, so his confession here stays on the lighter side.

This week... I've dropped out of the challenge because of the aforementioned tiredness and busyness.  But I'll try to do a few more posts over the weekend and into next week!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Vacation and VBS Crafts, or Why I've Been AWOL

So... it's summer, and everyone's busy, so maybe you haven't even noticed that I haven't been posting much, or that I've almost entirely dropped off the blogosphere map since mid-May, but both of those have totally happened.  For good reasons, honest.  Let me explain.

No, that takes too long.  Let me sum up.  (Thank you, Inigo.)

First, I went on a three-week-long family vacation.  It was wonderful.  We went to a wedding, we went camping in the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota (my kids' first time camping, and they loved it!), and we saw all of Cowboy's siblings and their spouses and kids, plus his mom and a bunch of other relatives.  Good, good times.  Here are a few photos.




When we got home, we were home for one full week, then took off for a long weekend to attend my dad's retirement & farewell party.  Very emotional weekend saying goodbyes to the people who have been my "church family" since I was 12.

And ever since we got home from that, I've been preparing crafts for our church's Vacation Bible School (VBS).  This is my first time being in charge of VBS crafts, and when I looked through the options offered by the place we ordered our VBS program materials from, all their crafts were really junky.  I remember doing amazing VBS crafts when I was a kid, making things that were so cool, I still have some today.  So I decided to come up with my own crafts to go with the theme and lessons this year.  Which was a lot of extra work, but I think it's going to be worth it.  I ended up with a couple crafts that are kind of standard, though I tried to find ways to make even those unique and cool.

And today, I finished prepping the last of the crafts.  Here are most of them:

The ones that took the longest to get ready for the kids to work on have been the prayer journals.  Each one has a different combination of outside and inside papers, which I had to glue onto the cover boards.

My sister-in-law designed the interior for me -- the first part of the book will have prayers printed out that kids can learn, interspersed with illustrated Bible verses about prayer for them to color.  The second part of the book has lots of prompts with spaces for kids to fill in people and things to pray about.  I can't wait for the kids to make this craft!  They'll be sewing the pages into the book and personalizing them.

I also really love this craft.  Our VBS has a shipwreck theme, so the older kids are going to be using stamps to create treasure maps!  For this one, I aged paper that I'd cut to the right size so that when it's rolled up, it will fit inside these adorable plastic bottles. 

(That day, the preschoolers will be making "I Spy" bottles filled with "lost" things from some of Jesus' parables, like sheep, a coin, and a boy, plus a heart and a cross.  But I don't have one of those made up to take photos of cuz I don't have any extra bottles.)

This is another craft for the older kids -- a tin-punch lantern with a battery-operated pillar candle inside.  They'll be punching the words "Jesus is the light" and a cross into the tin, then using paper fasteners to hold the ends together to form the tube shape.  I ended up making my own pattern for this one.

The preschoolers won't be doing the tin-punch, they'll be decorating these windchimes instead.  I bought the chimes and the dove-shaped wooden cut-outs, but I had to drill the holes in the doves and string all the chimes for them.  I'd originally planned for the kids to string the chimes, but when my 6-year-old couldn't manage that, I knew preschoolers wouldn't be able to.  So I found some awesome stick-on gems for them to use to decorate these instead.

Here's another craft where my original plan didn't work out.  And in this case, the improvisation turned out way cooler!  I originally got "suncatcher paint pens" for painting these cross-shaped suncatchers, but the pens were really gloppy and hard to use, and the paint took days to dry!  Plus, it wasn't washable.  So then I had the bright idea of using glitter glue instead, and that was SO MUCH BETTER.  I love that these crosses have stands too, so they're not just another thing to hang in your window.  You can put them on a kid's dresser, the family display table, a mantelpiece, whatever.  And the glitter glue makes them so pretty and translucent!  And glittery.  Plus, it's totally washable.  I'm using it for suncatchers from now on.

This is my least-favorite craft because... they're just bracelets.  Pretty ordinary.  But they DO involve glow-in-the-dark beads!  The older kids are making the one on the left -- the glow-in-the-dark beads spell S. O. S.  And the preschoolers will make the ones on the right that have the words "Jesus helps me" interspersed with glow-in-the-dark beads.  So those are fairly fun.  Worth wearing for a few days, anyway.

After VBS is over, I'll finally have more time and energy to return to writing and reading blogs and hanging out with all my favorite bloggy people again.  Until then... hope you're having a happy summer!

Monday, July 16, 2018

#WIPjoy in July -- Food Week

Week two of the July #WIPjoy challenge is over!  So it's time for my second recap of what I posted on my Facebook author page in response to some of the prompts.  Like last week, I only managed to do some of the days -- I'm just too busy this month to be on Facebook every single day, and some of the prompts just didn't work for my book or its characters.  

Anyway, week two focused on food, which was a lot of fun because... my book obviously involves food in some important ways, as the title Dancing and Doughnuts probably hints.

Day 9:  Main character's favorite food

My main character is a drifting Civil War veteran named Jedediah Jones who's looking for work.

Day 10: A food your main character can't eat -- and why

This was such a fun prompt!  This actually gets mentioned throughout my book.

Day 11:  A line about food

This was hard to choose because I describe doughnuts in several different places.  But this is one of my favorites.

Day 14: What would your main character feed to unexpected dinner guests?

This one was tougher!  Jedediah Jones doesn't have a home, so he couldn't really whip up a meal for them.  But I figured out an answer anyway :-)

That's it for this week's recap!  Tune in next week to see more -- it's "character takeover week" this time, so a lot of the answers will be from the perspective of different characters!

Again, if you're participating in #WIPjoy this month too, leave me a link so I can check out your prompt answers!

Monday, July 09, 2018

#WIPjoy in July -- Intro Week

Thanks to author Abby Jones encouraging me to join up with the #WIPjoy challenge, I've been sharing some random stuff about Dancing and Doughnuts on my Facebook author page.  And I've had so much fun with it, I decided to share them here too, with a little weekly recap of sorts through the month of July.  I meant to post this over the weekend, but got busy, so here we are on Monday instead :-)

Day 3:  Introduce your main character with a line from your book, a song, and a visual.

Here's the line and the visual:

And here's a song that fits well with his personality:

(Please ignore the fact that this YouTuber spelled Bobby Darin's name wrong.)

Day 4:  A line to hook readers.

I chose this one from very early in the story:

Day 5:  Three side characters you love

I hereby give you three of the "twelve dancing princesses" from my book, along with a line about each from their introductory scenes.  Pictured are the kinds of dancing shoes women wore in the late 1860s, which is when Dancing and Doughnuts takes place.

I'm not doing every single prompt because... sometimes I run out of time, sometimes I forget, and sometimes they don't appeal to me.  But here's the official list for July, in case you're curious about what's coming up next.  I'll do another recap post next weekend, or thereabouts :-)

Oh, and if you're participating in #WIPjoy either on Facebook or Instagram, leave me a link in the comments so I can check out your posts too!

Saturday, July 07, 2018

"Ant-Man and the Wasp" (2018) -- Initial Thoughts

This paragraph is only here so that, if you haven't seen the movie yet, and this pops up in your GFC feed, it doesn't give away lots of spoilers.  I promised DKoren I would not say any words she could see or hear about this movie until she's had a chance to see it, so this is just a paragraph of filler that's keeping all spoilers out of her sight AND YOURS... just in case.  I think this paragraph is long enough now, so I'll stop. 

I totally dug Ant-Man and the Wasp.  It was extreme amounts of fun!  The first Ant-Man (2015) is just a jolly heist adventure, and this one one hundred percent kept up that vibe of "Normal People Can Be Heroes Too, Even If They're Not Very Good At It."  That's one of the things I love most about Ant-Man -- he's a normal dude.  He's not a god, he's not a genius-billionaire-playboy-philanthropist, he's not a brilliant scientist, he never got bitten by anything radioactive, he's not a king, nobody did science experiments on him -- he's like Falcon, you know?  I LOVE Falcon too because he's just a normal guy doing the right thing any way he can.  Including wearing a super-powered suit designed by someone else.  (I should love War Machine too, by the same logic, but I liked Terence Howard in the role better than Don Cheadle and I just... haven't gravitated toward him.)

ANYWAY!  The movie was awesome!  And by the end of it, I was like, "Yes!  I forgive Marvel!  I am a full-fledged MCU fan again, there is hope for the future, everything will be okay.  My summer is all bright and happy again, and I'm going to go have a really great day cleaning up my house and busting out a bunch of chores."

This is the spot where you stop reading if you haven't watched the movie.  Okay?  For reals.  After this picture, there are possible SPOILERS.

Because then I watched the stinger.  And now I have gone from being angry and frustrated with the MCU, thanks to Avengers: Infinity War: Part One (2018) to being disgusted with the MCU filmmakers.  Again with the emotional manipulation!  I was happy, I was cheerful, and then you just killed all the joy I'd filled up on, and now... I'm bitter and annoyed. 

I talked in my post on IW about how I need a solid dose of happiness in my superhero movies.  It's why I shy away from the DC movies -- they're dark and morose and have a very pessimistic vibe to them.  In fact, I haven't seen The Dark Knight Rises yet because The Dark Knight was too disturbing.  It's just a thing with me, I guess -- if I want to be sad, I'll watch a tragedy like Hamlet.  I don't watch superhero movies when I want to be sad.  I watch them for a jolt of actiony happiness.  I'll try explaining this more fully sometime, but I think it ties in to how I don't like dark and broody Robin Hoods either.  I need cheerful Robin Hoods.  I need superheroes where the world gets better by the end of the film, not worse.

So yeah, this is kind of a rant.  Because I was ready to leave the theater pumped up and ready to go fix our broken bathroom faucet and do all kinds of great stuff, and now I'm feeling bitter and depressed, and you know what?  I JUST GOT OVER THE FUNK THAT INFINITY WAR PUT ME INTO!  I'M SICK OF THE FUNK.

Monday, July 02, 2018

"How to Train Your Dragon" (2010)

It took me eight years to finally see this, but now I've seen it three times in a little over a week.  Because I LOVE IT!!!  Everyone has been telling me to that I would, and so I finally borrowed it from a friend and watched it.  And then watched it again with my kids.  And then took my kids to see it on the big screen today because it was playing as part of a local theater's summer kids movie series thing.  And then bought our own copy on DVD.  Because yeah, my kids love it too.

They think it's weird, though, that I cry during it.  And I cry quite a bit, in four main spots.  Like, have-to-blow-my-nose kind of crying, not just tearing up a little.  Because wow, parents and kids not understanding each other, and then learning to understand each other?  That always hits me.  And people proving themselves when everyone has told them they're useless or bad at something or whatever?  HUGE sweet spot for me.  And people befriending beasts?  Love that.  And someone sacrificing themselves to save others?  Can never get enough of that.  And happy endings?  Always my favorite.  So yeah... I cry a lot during this movie.

But I also laugh a lot too, cuz the Vikings are all pretty hilarious, and Hiccup's a great wry narrator.  Also, Hiccup?  Is basically my son, only a teenager instead of a ten-year-old.  Brainy, weedy, a little awkward, but so brave and loveable and kind.

This isn't really a review, just me gushing about how awesome this movie is.  This is totally going to end up on my "favorite new-to-me movies of 2018" list.  I can't wait to see the sequel.  And I saw the trailer for #3 in the theater last weekend and I cried over it too because... feels!  All the feels!