Tag Archives: book releases

Edge of Truth


Edge of Truth is a dystopian tale by author Natasha Hanova. Trapped in a world where she can never achieve more than the society has ‘approved’ for her, Rena Moon is a typical teenager. She rebels against everything from the Overlord to the Synbots to her father and aunt. Rena wants more and determines she can get more. The slight wrinkle to things is her ‘secret’. She’s an Other, one of those gifted with a hidden ability.

Like most girls she’s got a bestie, Blaze, and a crush, Nevan, and she has a lot on her plate. There’s the Solstice Celebration, avoiding her problematic little brothers, and her constant search for a way out of ‘Hollowdump’ as she calls her hometown. On one search into Westrock, she stumbles upon a treasure. That might be an understatement since Rena’s ‘Other’ trait is the ability to sense earthquakes. In this case, the quake unearths the cave of riches.

The fortuitous find represents freedom from the oppressive Overlord Andrick and the way of life she’s fought against. A reluctant Blaze agrees to help her market the treasures. Unfortunately, they don’t make it home before curfew and seek refuge from the Synbots at Nevan’s home much to Rena’s horror. Embarrassing moments pile up for her there, and she’s still got to face her father the next day. Rena’s grounding forces Blaze to go to market without her and attempt to sell the goods. This is Blaze’s strength and she does well. Both girls gear up for the Solstice Celebration now that they have outfits fit for who they really are, not who society has made them.

The first sign of a problem is when Rena shows up, but Blaze doesn’t. When it becomes apparent someone has kidnapped Blaze, Nevan joins Rena in the search for her bestie. Balancing her growing attraction to Nevan with her worry for Blaze and her guilt that her desire to leave Hollowdump is what caused her friend to go missing, Rena follows the path of clues. She knows her ‘directions challenged’ best friend is completely unable to lead her kidnapper to the cave and fears what he’ll do when he realizes it. What results is a suspense filled ride across uncharted territory during the ‘burn’, a dangerous sun without the protection of the ozone layer. Problem with her ability is she also causes quakes. She has to worry about and control her emotions as they search. This would be totally easier without Nevan by her side.

Rena is an independent minded female character, which is a huge plus in YA. Blaze is also a strong character although quite different from Rena. Nevan is the quintessential guy crush who can send a girl over the edge causing her to almost forget everything, even her missing bestie, by simply touching her hand. Power is at the heart of the book. In a dystopian society, it often is. However, independence and hope and loyalty win the day in Edge of Truth. The book is an edge of your seat roller coaster ride through a mine field, at the same time it maintains a sweet tale about friendship and first love. It’s a YA must read.

I received an ARC of Edge of Truth for the purpose of this review.



Filed under Writing

Let’s Get Organized

Let's Get Organized!

Let’s Get Organized!

Social media is an imperative for writers but managing a balance between that and writing and life leads to stress. For writers, writing time must come first, otherwise it negates the purpose of building a platform. It’s that delicate balance that led my critique group to brainstorm topics for our group blog for the entire year. It probably makes me a nerd to say that I found it fun to select themes that transitioned seamlessly one into another. We also wanted to do this for our individual blogs as well.

In an effort to find a balance between writing and the real world and share it with other writers, we started the Let’s Get Organized blog hop.

The rules are simple:

  1. Create a 4-6 week editorial calendar (here’s a cool template). If you post more than once a week, feel free to cut this time-frame in half. Unless, you’re up for the challenge.
  2. Publish the schedule to your blog. As with exercising, people tend to stick to goals when they’re held accountable.
  3. Tag three bloggers to join in the fun, then contact them to let them know about it. (This step is optional)
  • Thursday, February 28 – Interview with Christine Denise Smith-Jarmola
  • Wednesday, March 6Insecure Writer’s Support Group Post
  • Friday, March 8The Next Big Thing Blog Hop
  • Monday, March 18 – Ninja Captain Alex’s Top 10 Movie Countdown Blogfest (scroll to the bottom of this post to join the fun)
  • Thursday, March 21 – eARC Review: Edge of Truth by Natasha Hanova
  • Thursday, March 28 – Friends Don’t Let Friends Write Under the Influence

Many of the authors I follow already organize, so it’s difficult to figure out who to tag. So, anyone who has not done this before and wants to create an editorial calendar for their blog, consider yourself tagged.

If you decide to participate, please leave a comment below. I’d love to know what you’re up to.

Do you struggle with finding a balance between writing and the real world? How do you manage your social media and have time to write?

1 Comment

Filed under Writing

Introducing Jennifer McMurrain

Quail Crossings

Quail Crossings

I first met Jennifer at the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. (OWFI) conference in Oklahoma City. High energy and excitement, she was a boon to my veteran (code for older person) spirit. Her writing is reminiscent of another time and place providing the reader with a journey through time. I asked Jennifer a few questions to help you get to know her and her work.

How would you describe Quail Crossings to someone who has not read your work?

Quail Crossings is a story of an unlikely family coming together during the harsh reality of the Great Depression. Dovie Grant has just lost her husband and only child in a car accident, leaving her alone with her father on their farm, Quail Crossings. Since he’s getting older, he needs some help on the farm and hires an 18-year-old boy who’s caring for his three siblings. This does not make Dovie happy. She’s trying to deal with her grief and doesn’t want these children running around. It doesn’t help that there’s a 14-year-old girl who doesn’t want to be there either, so she gets into all kinds of trouble trying to get her brother fired. During Black Sunday, the worst dust storm this country has ever known, they must come together to find one of their own or risk losing her forever.

How would you describe your writing style?

I would describe my writing style as laid back and character driven. I never sit down expecting to write the next great American novel. I’m never going to string eloquent words together to impress you with my vocabulary and use of meter. I just want to tell you a great story, one that makes you love my characters and keep turning the pages, because you have to know what’s gonna happen next. I want you to laugh with them, cry with them and rejoice with them.

What are you reading now?

Right now I am reading Beauty Queens by Libba Bray which is making me snort laugh and A Matter of Trust by Sherrilyn Polf, who is an excellent author and a good friend of mine.

Who designs your covers?

The fantastic Linda Boulanger from TreasureLine Publishing designed the cover for Quail Crossings. But I am fortunate to have a talented sister, Brandy Walker, from Sister Sparrow Graphic Designs who will be doing my future covers. She’s already designed for three of my short stories, Thesis Revised, Emma’s Walk, and Footprints in the Snow, which you can get for free on www.smashwords.com. Brandy is so talented, I would recommend her even if she weren’t my sister. Her work speaks for itself.

Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you. Be creative. Tell us about your first job, the inspiration for your writing, any fun details that would enliven your page.

Good to Know Fact #1 – Every novel has a “muse” song. My stories don’t fully come alive until I find a song that sums it up for me. The minute I hear that song the book becomes a movie preview in my head, which tells me the tone and voice needed to make it a successful piece of work. Every night before I write, I close my eyes and listen to that song. I cannot begin until I know what the muse song is.

 Good to Know Fact #2 – I am a trained snake/alligator wrangler. I’m no Crocodile Hunter, but with the correct tools I can remove a venomous snake and/or alligator from your house. This is not something I do often because as clumsy as I am, I’m pretty sure I’d end up on YouTube getting my hand bit off or taking a snake bite to the nose.

Good to Know Fact #3 – I am fascinated by cryptozoology, the study of and search for animals and especially legendary animals (example, Big Foot) usually in order to evaluate the possibility of their existence. Had I known such a thing existed in college I would’ve majored in it. Instead, I’m about 12 hours short of a Wildlife Biology degree, opting for a Bachelors in Applied Arts and Science in order to finish quickly before a move. As much as I love cryptozoology, I’m pretty sure I’d wet my pants and run screaming from the forest if I ever ran into a creature such as Big Foot.

Advice for other writers?

Get your butt in the chair. It’s as simple as that. You want to write, then you HAVE to write. You can’t talk about it, read about it, think about it… you have to do it. Even if you think it stinks, keep writing. Writing is like every other profession, the more you do, the better you’ll become.

What is your next novel project?

My next novel is a paranormal romance entitled, Winter Song. It actually won 1st place at the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc. contest in 2011 in contemporary romance. Should be out in the spring (fingers crossed).

One common piece of advice for writer’s is write what you know. Writers are all over the map on it. Where do you stand on this one?

As much as I agree you have to have some knowledge of what you’re writing, you can always research and learn it. I guess what I’m trying to say is you don’t have to have lived it to know it, if that makes sense. I didn’t grow up during the Great Depression. I have never known what it’s like to feel poor or hungry. But I wrote about it after interviewing people who did and hopefully, I did their experiences justice.

That being said, when it comes to emotion, if you’ve lived through that particular emotion, for example, grief, it’s a lot easier to write it. I think it makes for a stronger response from your reader.

So a little of both, I guess. But never let lack of “experience” stop you from getting in the chair and writing. If I only wrote what I “know” they wouldn’t be very interesting books.


Filed under Writing


Congrats to my critique partner, Natasha Hanova, on the publication of one of her short stories in the anthology, Undead Tales 2. Here’s to many more publishing credits to come!


Filed under Writing

One Stop Shopping

Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you I defy the female stereotype. I HATE shopping. I’ll schedule doctor and dental visits to avoid shopping trips. Because of this I have made an art of efficiency with shopping just so I have to do it less.

Research can be a little like shopping. It can take over your writing time and before you know it you’ve lost hours to the internet. This site might help with that. It’s a one stop shopping trip for writer’s. This blogger has put together blogs on just about every topic you could possibly want. So, check it out. Maybe the time you save will allow you a little shopping  trip of your own. If you’re so inclined, that is. 🙂


Filed under Writing

“You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

The Writer’s Hole, “You’ve come a long way, Baby” Blogfest is today. Click over and help Christine celebrate by showing everyone how much you’ve progressed as a writer. As an educator I’m all about assessing growth in my students but as a writer I just cruise along assuming the growth is happening as an organic part of the process. I guess this is one way to find out.

From my 2007 version of On the Run, my YA novel:

Mayo’s eyes met Toad’s and both boys watched the door as the scratching of the locks continued. He moved in front of Toad without really thinking about it, just watching the door as it swung wide.

Expecting Emerson or one of his henchmen, Mayo was surprised to see an angry looking guy about their age. Behind him stood a much shorter dude, probably 5’10”, with sandy blonde hair and chiseled looks. Something about him was familiar but he wasn’t sure why.

The big guy stayed close to the door shooting them dirty looks while the smaller guy cut through the plastic cuffs on Mayo’s hands and ankles then moved over to Toad.

“Look, we have a really small window of opportunity here. I know you have questions but we need to hold them until we’re safely out of here. Got it?”

Wow. I actually cringed at parts of that. From this year:

Mayo’s eyes met Toad’s. The scratching on the door locks begun seconds ago paused and then began again. Mayo stepped in front of Toad without really thinking about it. He watched as the door swung wide.

Expecting Emerson or one of his henchmen, he was surprised to see an angry looking guy about their age. Behind him stood a much shorter dude, probably 5’10”, with sandy blonde hair and chiseled looks. Something about him was familiar, but Mayo wasn’t sure what.

The big guy stayed close to the door shooting them “looks” while the smaller guy took point. “We have a small window of opportunity. Hold your questions until we’re safely out of here. Got it?” He kept his voice low.

The changes here were so small and yet, they made a big difference in the pace and tone. This is why I love revision. It is a lot like when you move from using the rough sandpaper when working with a piece of wood to using the fine. It’s all in the fine details.

You try it now. How much or in what ways have you improved your writing over the years? If you decide to participate this Blogfest, please leave something in the comments below so I can click over to your blog.

1 Comment

Filed under Writing

To Outline or Not to Outline, Is that a Question?

Writers talk about it incessantly. Outlining. “Do you outline?” One of the most frequent questions asked of writers, I imagine. Probably among nonfiction folks, the percentage of positive responses to this is high. However, in fiction this becomes murky. Newbie writers probably find that for every fiction writer who outlines there is one who doesn’t. In MFA programs, writers are also divided down lines of those who do and those who don’t. So, what’s with this outlining question?

Much of it has to do with the brain. Some people think in a linear fashion so an outline is imperative for them. They see the story in a chronological pattern from beginning to end. Other people are more random/chaotic and for this thinker, outlines are a curse.

Anyone who knows me, will tell you I’ve always been a random/chaotic. I’ve tried every six step program out there, but I’ve just learned to accept my brain and deal with it. And frankly, it works for me. I tried in my early days of writing to write from an outline. All my years in school had trained me well. I outlined my first novel from beginning to end. I thought with everything laid out for me that nothing could go wrong. I started diligently to work. I made it to the end of the first chapter. I pulled out the outline, changed it to reflect what my recalcitrant characters were doing, without my permission I might add. This went on for half the book before I realized that I can’t do it. Once my characters were fully evolved they took over. The main character was suddenly a minor character. A police detective had totally taken over her story. A character who wasn’t supposed to die, did. The list goes on and on. In the end, I spent so much time going back and revising the outline, I was not getting the novel finished.

Yes, I know I should have left the outline alone, but that’s another of my six step failures; if I have an outline, it has to match. I know. I need help. That first novel is in a file drawer along with the pain filled outline. I refuse to look at either even though I still like the characters.

In grad school, I met a lot of talented writers. Some of them used outlines. Some of them didn’t. And in the end, it didn’t make any difference in whose writing was better. It is all a matter of preference for the writer. It’s not really a question. It’s a bit like asking a left-handed person why they write with their left hand. A linear thinker will write in a linear mode and for most of them that will mean outlining. A random/chaotic will throw words on the page with the carefree abandon of a water balloon fight. All that matters is getting to that end point. How you get there won’t matter to your reader. When they’re soaking in that mystery or paranormal or whatever it is that you’ve written – and that’s keeping them up nights reading – I guarantee you they won’t be thinking, “I wonder if she wrote from an outline?”

What’s your preference? Do you prefer to write from an outline or do you let your characters go and hope you can keep up?

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing