Posted in The Ponderings of Life, Words Upon Words

The War Within: Published!

I’m so excited to announce that The War Within is officially published as of yesterday!!

There are always a lot of emotions that go into self-publishing: joy, exhaustion, pride, anxiety. Usually there’s a bit of frustration toward the end due to the complications of the formatting process, but this time things went really smoothly, all things considered (except when I was working on the cover, but it’s fine, it’s fine). Just like in the past, I’ve felt all the above mentioned emotions in the past couple weeks.

Now that it’s finally published, I feel some anxiety (will people actually read it? will they like what they read?), but mostly joy. It’s so thrilling and so fulfilling to self-publish a novel. I haven’t felt these feelings in a long time and it’s strange to feel the familiar, yet somehow still different, feelings again. Then as soon as all is said and done (every single time) I come to the conclusion that I must self-publish again–soon! I’ve been looking at the other novels I have finished in my documents and thinking how soon I can get the next one ready for self-publication, because it’s just so fun. But I know each novel takes its own time and I just need to be patient through the editing process. (I still hope to do it again faster than four and a half years, though. 😉 )

Well, back to The War Within. It’s available for purchase on Amazon for $9.99! I’d love it if you’d let me know if you get a copy and what you think after you’ve read it! ❤ Check out the official cover below!

The_War_Within_COVER_COVER 2         received_204106724350855

Posted in The Ponderings of Life, Words Upon Words

The War Within: Proof Ordered!

Good morning, everyone!

Since announcing that I have begun the self-publishing process for The War Within about a week and a half ago, I’m ecstatic to update you on the latest developments! About 10 days ago, my sister, Sandrine, finished painting the absolutely gorgeous cover. It came out even better than I was anticipating! (Keep reading for a cover reveal!) I finished touching up the manuscript a few days ago and let it sit before scanning it again yesterday. After one last look, I uploaded the cover and manuscript on KDP and just like that, I was ready to order the proof!

The proof copy should arrive this Saturday at which time I will flip through it and make sure everything looks the way it’s supposed to. Needless to say, my original release date of Tuesday, March 31st, is tentatively rescheduled to Sunday, April 5th. Regardless, it should be available for purchase on Amazon by this weekend–what a crazy thought!

After I ordered the proof last night, we went on a walk around the neighborhood (something we’ve been trying to do every day since Quarantine began a couple weeks ago), and as we walked, I realized that within a week, my book will be published. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. For the first time in over 4 years, I’m self-publishing again! It’s been a long, arduous process with lots of breaks in between to focus on school, but at last, the day is almost here! I truly think The War Within is probably the best story I’ve ever written and because of this, I cannot wait to share it with everyone and hear their thoughts!

With these types of things, the work is hard, but the reward is great. There’s nothing like holding your own words in your hands…I suppose it’s a glimpse to what holding your newborn baby is like. But maybe that’s stretching it. 😉

Last, but not least, before I finish this post, I want to reveal the amazing cover Sandrine painted for me…

The War Within - Cover Final

Ta-da! Isn’t it beautiful?! ❤

Hopefully the next time I blog, it’ll be the official announcement of The War Within  being available to order on Amazon!!!

Posted in The Ponderings of Life, Words Upon Words

Happy 6th Anniversary, Bridget’s Journey!

Yesterday was Bridget’s Journey’s 6th Anniversary! Wow. It’s so hard to believe it’s been 6 years already since I self-published for the first time with my baby novel. Over the years I’ve had many conversations with friends and family about this novel and the different ways it’s impacted them. Those conversations mean the world to me, but what’s funny about it is that I didn’t write it to impact anyone. I was only 14 when I wrote it, barely 16 when I self-published it. The only thing I had in my mind was to write a story and finish it and print it so I could hold it in my hands. And that’s exactly what I accomplished–and so much more.

Back then, I’d only just started my writing journey. Over the past 6 years, I’m happy to say I’ve changed and grown as a writer. I’ve self-published Everlasting, written three other novels and entered a short story contest in which I got an honorable mention! I’m a much better writer now than when I first wrote Bridget’s Journey, but the simplicity and purity of that story is still special even today. And it will always be my first, no matter how many stories I write from here on out. Self-publishing has changed my life in the best possible way and I hope to be able to do it again soon (stay tuned for details)!

To celebrate Bridget’s Journey’s anniversary, it’s FREE to download on your Kindle or Kindle app TODAY THROUGH SUNDAY! Take advantage of this discount and tell your friends!

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P.S. Please excuse my smudgy mirror, but here’s a picture of 16 year old Valerie SO EXCITED (can you tell?) to be holding a piece of her work in her hands. ❤

Posted in Book Reviews

Fifth Five Books of 2015

Hello, readers!

I recently finished reading book 15 of the 40 I want to read this year. I don’t have much left of summer to catch up, so I might have to adjust my goal back down to 30 again. Only time will tell!

Here are books 21-25 that I read from July to September in 2015. To read about the other books I read in 2015, you can check out books 1-5 here, 6-10 here, 11-15 here and 16-20 here. After this one, there will be only ONE more blog post left before I’ve told you about all the books I read in 2015! Then I will be able to start telling you about what I read in 2016. 🙂

*SPOILER!* I may include some of the book’s plot/content in my reviews for them, so if you haven’t read one or more of these yet and want to read it without spoilers, then you can just skip down. *

21. The Great Railroad Race by Kristiana Gregory – Part of the Dear America series, this book took place during the 1860s when the government hired workers to join both sides of the railroad to make one long railroad running across the United States. This was an educating and entertaining story with a twist I’ve never seen done before. I’m not saying that plot twists don’t usually surprise me, because most of the time they do, but this was a different kind of twist that changed the dynamic of the main character’s relationship with someone else. Overall, a very fun read.

22. * When Christmas Comes Again by Beth Seidel Levine – This book along with Willow Run was one of my favorite books that I read last year, so it really deserves two stars next to it! World War 1 is my favorite time period, so I always love any book I can get my hands on  that takes place during that time in history. This book is also part of the Dear America series and I absolutely loved every minute of it. I cared more for these characters than I had for any character in a Dear America book for a while. It was also different than your typical Dear America novel because the main character was 17 instead of the typical 12-14 age range. Being older myself, it was a nice change. I liked–no, loved!–this book so much, I wrote a review for it on Amazon. You can read it below:

I Will Read This One Again and Again

I am very fascinated with all things World War 1 right now and am hoping to write a novel of my own in this time period someday. Recently, I decided to find all Dear America books on this subject and read them for fun and for inspiration. This book did not disappoint in the least! I learned so many new things about World War 1 and what life was like in New England during the war. I learned about “hello girls” and how they played a major part in the victories on the Western Front. Simone Spencer was a delightful character who grew and learned at the same rate as me. Because I am French-Canadian myself, I loved all the French aspects thrown into this story.
Thank you, Mrs. Levine, for giving us this beautiful peek into the past!

23. A Country of Our Own by Karleen Bradford – This is a Dear Canada I bought for myself while visiting Montreal last summer and was the first brand new book in the series I had bought in Canada instead of getting used on Amazon. It’s about how Canada became an independent country from Great Britain (though still a British Commonwealth) in 1867. It was an interesting and fun read as well, giving a peek into what it was like when Ottawa became the country’s capital instead of the expected Montreal or Quebec City.

24. * Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington – We read this one for school with Mom. It’s an autobiography of Booker T. Washington’s life. When we started, we thought for some reason we were reading about George Washington Carver, the peanut guy, so we kept waiting for Booker T. Washington to talk about peanuts. 😉 Well, let’s just say he never talked about peanuts. But he did talk about slavery. Not only was Booker T. Washington freed after the end of the Civil War, but he went back home after going to college and educated the children from his hometown. He taught black people all over the United States throughout his life that just because they were now freed from slavery, didn’t mean they could right away have all the privileges the white people had. They first needed to educate themselves as they should have been years before in order to reach their full potential and gain respect. A quote from the book that accurately portrays the story’s theme is below:

“It is important and right that all privileges of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercise of those privileges.” -Booker T. Washington

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants an African American’s perspective of what life was like after the Civil War and what his people need to do to mend the warped view white people had of black people in America.

25. Gingersnap by Patricia Reilly Giff – Another of Patricia Reilly Giff’s books that takes place in World War II. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as Lily’s Crossing and Willow Run, so I didn’t write a review for it on Amazon. Though there wasn’t much to the story line, I always enjoy a good historical. There was a little bit of the ghost element, which was okay, but maybe could have played a bigger part in the plot itself. One of my main problems with it was that it ended too fast. I know I have a problem in terms of over describing in my books, but the last two or three chapters, the part of the book we’d been waiting 200 pages for, happened perfectly, but way too fast. I wanted to delve more into her thought process, her emotions as one event happened after the other, but the pacing was so fast, we didn’t have enough time to analyze each situation. So, that was too bad.

 

* Books that I highly recommend have a * next to them

Posted in Book Reviews, For Fellow Writers

Fourth Five Books of 2015

I apologize for not posting in a while. To make up for it, I wrote a really long post! 🙂

Here are books 16-20 that I read in June of 2015. If you missed out on one of or all my first three posts, you can check out books 1-5 here, books 6-10 here and books 11-15 here.

Before I list these next five books, I’ll give you an update on my reading for 2016. So far I have read five books (two were on audio). By the end of this month I need to have read four to make up for only reading two last month. Luckily, I just finished two and am close to finishing one more already. I’m sure I will be caught up by March 1st!

Now, on with the books:

16. Cannons at Dawn by Kristiana Gregory – This book is part of the Dear America series. It centers around the lives of families following their husbands to the battle lines during the Revolutionary War. It is actually a sequel to the Dear America, The Winter of Red Snow. This book was really interesting because it showed me a different side to the Revolutionary War. For one, we don’t normally hear much after the Declaration of Independence (at least, I rarely did) and this one showed the end of the war (or the beginning of the end), which didn’t happen until the early 1780s. After they lost everything, the family decided to follow their father as he went off to become a soldier (normally a few days behind him in case a battle ensued) instead of waiting behind at home. Overall, an enjoyable read.

* 17. Willow Run by Patricia Reilly Giff – This book. Oh my goodness. One of my favorites I read last year. It is a companion to Lily’s Crossing which I mentioned reading in one of my earlier posts. Honestly, I don’t even remember when or where it happened, but all of a sudden, in the middle of reading it, something had changed. It went from being just a book I was reading, to a story that meant everything to me. After crossing that point, I couldn’t put it down! I liked this one even more than Lily’s Crossing, which doesn’t often happen! It did not have very many reviews on Amazon, so I gave it one shortly after finishing the book. I’ll share it here:

Beautiful Story of a Period in History We Won’t Soon Forget

This book is recommended for ages 8-12, and though I understand why, I myself am a teenager and I still thoroughly enjoyed it!
World War II is one of my favorite time periods, it is true, and this piece dedicated to that era gives a wonderful peek into what it was like to live during that time. The writing, as always, was very relate-able and the characters were endearing. I fell in love with Meggie and her family and greatly enjoyed her character development. Though this book is a companion, it works perfectly as a stand-alone as well.
*SPOILER* Although I was severely disappointed that it ended before we could find out what happened to Meggie’s brother Eddie, it just goes to show how much it meant to me to find out! I even went back to Lily’s Crossing to see if his fate had been mentioned there and I had just missed it!
I would recommend this book to anyone of any age. I commend the author, Patricia Reilly Giff, for writing a story that moved me so much. It doesn’t often happen. Thank you, Mrs. Giff, for this book.

18. Kit Saves the Day by Valerie Tripp – This is a continuation of listening to the Kit books in the car. One of my favorite children’s stories growing up! (I talked more about Kit’s books in earlier posts–links are above ^)

* 19. The Keeper by Erin Phillips – I have been looking forward to sharing my thoughts on this one! Erin Phillips is my cousin and fellow writing buddy here in North Carolina. She self-published her first novel, The Keeper, in 2015 and it is available for purchase as paperback or Kindle on CreateSpace and Amazon–check it out! For updates on special promotions for The Keeper and updates on her upcoming sequel, The Varken, check out her blog, One Word More, here.

Here is the review I put up on Amazon for her book:

“The Keeper” takes place in the fantastical world of Eviryia from the perspective of Kayleigh, the Keeper of Ailenor. After decades of trying to find the True King, distraught, Kayleigh locks herself up in Ailenor, giving up on attempting to bring a king back on the throne, thus bringing peace to the kingdom. And so begins Kayleigh’s journey as she renews her determination to save the kingdom and discovers the true meaning of her duty as Keeper of Eviryia.
This book had beautiful descriptions of the places Kayleigh visited outside of Ailenor and the character development was evident. I could hardly put it down, reading chapter after chapter, wanting to know what happens next. The ending was just right, like any good story, while still having a few twists! The endearing characters were relatable and believable, becoming your friends by the time you reached the last page, making you wish it kept going!
I hope Erin Phillips publishes a sequel! However, “The Keeper” is perfect as a stand alone. I am looking forward to reading more of her work!

20. Bridget’s Journey by Valerie Cotnoir – Heehee, yes, I read my own book. It took me a while, but after downloading Bridget’s Journey on Kindle, and after taking a break from looking at this story since I had already read it over and over a million times, I read it again and marked a few things here and there to change for future reference.

As a matter of fact, I updated these changes and published my second edition of Bridget’s Journey very recently! If you’re interested, I have two copies I’m selling for $7.00 each for those living in the Raleigh area. Otherwise, you can buy your paperback or Kindle copy on Amazon or CreateSpace! Or download it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited. Don’t forget to leave a review after you have finished reading!

To finish off, here are some reviews that other people have left for this book on Amazon:

This is a sweet story of a young girl whose world is turned upside down. After Bridget’s father dies, she goes to live in Prince Edward Island with her grandparents whom she has never met.
As Bridget struggles through a major move, and dealing with the pain of being an orphan, she slowly learns to depend on God to help get through life’s trials.
The scene where Bridget meets her grandmother for the first time brought me to tears.
I really enjoyed this book and plan to read it again.

Wonderful story to read with my two daughters. Heart-warming and well written for a first-time author. I hope she writes more soon.
Bridget’s Journey was a beautiful story about dealing with grief and friendship troubles. It captures the charm and beauty of Prince Edward Island, the main setting of the story, and the main characters were felt very real and lovable. Great story to read with kids but is very enjoyable for all ages! If you loved any of the Anne of Green Gables books, you will love this book too! I look forward to seeing what other books the author will come up with!

Only two more posts and I will be finished reviewing the books I read in 2015!

* Books that I highly recommend have a * next to them