Friday, October 19, 2018

It’s a Wonderful Night by Jaimie Admans: Review & Discussion About Mental Health


It's a Wonderful Night by Jaimie Admans
Published: October 5th, 2018
Publisher: HQ Digital
Genre: Romantic Comedy/Chick Lit
Acquired this book: Bought
Rating: 5 stars
Warning: This review might contain mild spoilers
GoodReads || Buy now: Amazon Canada || Amazon US

One night will change their lives forever… 
Georgia Bailey is closing up her little charity shop in Oakbarrow when she gets a mysterious late night call from a stranger, threatening to jump off the town’s bridge.

Something about the man’s voice is faintly familiar but all she can do is stay on the line and after talking for hours, losing sense of time passing, coax him back from the edge.
The next morning, Georgia walks to work, buys a festive latte from Leo (who she’s had a crush on for months!) at the local coffee shop, and is shocked when she suddenly recognizes the voice from last night…


A heartwarming festive love story that reminds us that even in the darkest of times, hope is always just around the corner!



Jaimie Admans’ books are always a joy to read. They’re fun and funny and always have a magical quality and something about them that makes them feel different from anything else I’ve read.

It’s a Wonderful Night had that magical quality I’ve come to love in Jaimie’s books, but the thing that really set it apart was something completely unexpected: the fact it dealt with mental illness. Honestly, take a moment to let that sink in: a romantic comedy that deals with mental illness. I love romcoms and have read many of them, most of which are light, fluffy, feel-good stories. An escape from reality. When you think of those things, you don’t associate them with mental health issues, right? But that’s one of the things that sets It’s a Wonderful Night apart and makes it a must read. Jaimie Admans struck the perfect balance between fun and funny romcom and serious, true-to-life, relatable issues.

As someone who has battled with depression since her teens, I’m always on the look-out for books that depict mental illness in not only a realistic way, but a sensitive and thoughtful way, and Jaimie did that. Having that not only in a romantic comedy, but one centred about the holidays, was brilliant. It’s important to talk about mental health all the time, but I think it’s especially important around the holidays because they can be difficult for many people.


“We shouldn’t be acting like mental health is something to be ashamed of. It affects everyone. No one is immune. Everyone is fighting a battle that we know nothing about.”

While some people see the holidays as the most wonderful time of the year and revel in the festivities, for others it can be absolutely miserable. For many people, the happiness of the holidays and getting together with friends and relatives can be exhausting. They feel they have to pretend to be happy because that’s what people expect. Or they see everyone else’s successes - jobs, travel, relationships, children, wealth - and it only shines a light on their shortcomings and failures. Many people also have complicated relationships with their families for a variety of reasons, and since the holidays are generally a time for family gatherings, it can bring on a lot of anxiety and stir up old resentments. Then there are the people who are either alone for the holidays, or feel alone...and the ones who have lost loved ones and the holidays are a reminder of what they’ve lost. Then there are the expectations that come with the season - financially, emotionally, timewise. There are so many reasons the holidays can be a difficult, painful time, and a lot of people bottle it up, put on a smile and a good show of holiday spirit, and meanwhile they’re spending money they don’t have, exhausting themselves with draining interactions, and feeling worse by the day.

This book shone a spotlight on those complicated Christmas + depression emotions. It didn’t make light of it and it didn’t sensationalize it. It didn’t make it seem like there was a magic cure for depression or that simply ‘getting in the holiday spirit’ would fix anything. Georgia reminded Leo that no matter how bad things get, they can get better and there are things - and people - worth sticking around for. She reminded him about the good things in life and that he matters. He’s important. Life is worth living. It was a beautiful, heartfelt message that rang so true for me and really spoke to me on a deep level.


“Sometimes the people who smile the widest are the ones who are suffering the most.”

The book wasn’t solely about Leo’s struggles with depression, though. It was also a story about friendship, community, and pursuing your dreams. It was sweet and heartwarming and hopeful. And romantic! I’ve found a new book boyfriend and his name is Leo. He was a perfect example of someone hiding behind a mask - always smiling, kind and generous, but hurting inside. He would do anything for anyone, and put himself last until Georgia came along and showed him how valued he was. I absolutely adored Leo and Georgia, and all the other Oakbarrow residents. These characters leapt off the pages and felt so real. I didn’t want this book to end, and it’s been a long time since I’ve felt that while reading a book. I could picture it all so clearly...which made me realize this would make a wonderful movie. Get on it, Hallmark!

If you’re looking for a sweet, funny, heartwarming read this holiday season - or any time of the year - I hope you’ll pick up a copy of It’s a Wonderful Night. It’s not only a beautiful festive read, it’s also a reminder that even in the worst of times, there’s still hope, and you’re not alone.




Are the holidays a fun time for you or do you find them stressful and emotional? Or maybe, like me, you feel a combination of both? Do you have any favourite books that deal with mental health issues?

 
 



Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Guest Post: 10 Email Marketing Do’s and Don’ts

It seems nearly everyone has a mailing list these days. Whether you’re a fellow author or blogger like me, a small business owner, or someone trying to sell a product or service, email marketing is a sure-fire way to get results. But you can’t just create a newsletter, send out an email, and hope for the best. There are proven methods that will help you not only gain subscribers, but keep them interested in your email campaigns. Campaign Monitor has put together this handy infographic that outlines important Do’s and Don’ts for email marketing.

10 Email Marketing Do's and Don'ts Infographic Campaign Monitor


No matter who your audience is - whether you’re trying to grow your readership and fan base like I am, or you’re selling a new course, product, or service - these do’s and don’ts are key elements in having a successful email marketing campaign.


What do you think? Aren't these great tips? Do you have any do's or don'ts you would add? Do you use email marketing?


Monday, October 1, 2018

ARCtober 2018

Happy October!

October is my favourite month of the year. Cooler weather, leaves changing colour, cozy sweaters and blankets, apple- and pumpkin-flavoured everything, Halloween! There's just so much to love about this month.

Something else to get excited about: ARCtober!


ARCtober is hosted by Kimberly at KimberlyFaye Reads, Brittany & Elizabeth's Book Boutique, Samantha at The Book Disciple, and Nancy at Tales of the Ravenous Reader. The goal is to read as many ARCs as you can from October 1st - 31st.

What I'm planning to read:
London, Can You Wait? by Jacquelyn Middleton
Until the Last Star Fades by Jacquelyn Middleton
It's a Wonderful Night by Jaimie Admans
Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft Anthology

I have other ARCs, so I'm sure I'll expand my list, but this seems reasonable to start. If you want to see what I'm reading and how I'm doing with the challenge, the best way will be to follow on me on bookstagram because I'll be posting there and using the hashtag #ARCtober2018.

If you happen to like contemporary romance and want to add to your list of ARCs for the month, I'll have ARCs of ONLY YOU ready in another week or so! You can find the synopsis and read the first chapter here.




Friday, September 28, 2018

ONLY YOU Cover Reveal + First Chapter



It's cover reveal day for my new book! ONLY YOU is a sweet and sexy contemporary romance with an emphasis on self-discovery and friendship. It also features a hot Scottish love interest, which was a lot of fun to write! This book is a standalone, but the main character Ivy was first introduced in my 2017 Christmas novella, MISTLETOE KISS.



Ivy's new boss is sexy, Scottish…and comes with an expiration date. When Ivy reluctantly takes a new part-time job, it’s a means to an end. Doing this favor for her pain-in-the-neck roommate means Ivy can have her apartment to herself again much sooner. The last thing she expects is Hugh—the hot Scot who just happens to be her new boss—asking her out on a date. And then another. And another. Something about Hugh makes Ivy want to let her guard down and open up, which would be perfect if he wasn't returning to Scotland in a matter of weeks. But maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe Ivy can learn to live in the moment and have a little fun, even if it means setting herself up for heartache later. ONLY YOU is a standalone contemporary romance about taking chances, unexpected friendships, and holding on to the things—and people—that matter most.


*****

Add ONLY YOU to your TBR on GoodReads

Want an ARC of ONLY YOU? Sign up here

Are you a bookstagrammer and/or a blogger? I'm having a Bookstagram Tour (sign up here) and a Blog Tour (sign up here) during release week, and I'd love for you to participate in one or both!



One perk of your best friend also being your boss: she sees when you’re stressed to the max and tells you to cut out of work a few hours early.

I hardly know what to do with myself as I push through the doors of the high-rise building where Quest Marketing Solutions is housed. Should I go shopping? Get my nails done? Head to the bookstore, aka heaven on earth? As tempting as browsing books is, the only truly appealing thing is a nice warm bath in an empty apartment. And if I want to do that, my window of opportunity is small.

Alone time has become a novelty in the last few months since I reluctantly took in a roommate. Celia is one of those
cousins whos not an actual relative; her parents are good friends with the aunt and uncle who raised me after my parents died, and our families spent a lot of time together. Between the six-year age difference and Celia’s general snarkiness, we never connected. That didn’t stop me from agreeing to perform my family duty when my aunt informed me Celia was moving back to town after dropping out of college, and then not-so-subtly suggested I offer to rent her the spare room in my apartment. Fan Chen is not someone you say no to, even when she’s living halfway across the world in China and I’m here in Canada.

I try to live my life with no regrets, but saying ‘yes’ to Aunt Fan that day and extending an invitation to Celia has caused nothing but regrets. Big ones. Endless ones. In the last four months, Celia has had three different jobs, all of which she’s been fired from for various reasons, including being surly with customers and failing to perform the tasks required of her. When we’re at home, she’s constantly bitching about something, plus she eats my food even though she has her own. Some days I feel like I’m one snide remark away from wringing her neck.

Alone time is definitely the way to go right now. For my sanity and for everyone else’s personal safety.

When I reach my car, I toss my purse in the passenger seat and blast the heater. It’s only early November, but there’s a nip in the air that makes me think Mother Nature forgot it’s still technically autumn.

Something shiny catches my eye, and I bend to pick up a gum wrapper from the floor. Celia seems to think my car is a garbage receptacle. Our schedules don’t often mesh, thank god, so she grudgingly takes the bus most of the time. Whenever I do give her a ride anywhere, she inevitably leaves a mess for me to clean up—coffee cups, gum and granola bar wrappers, and the memorable time she left a chocolate bar on the backseat in August and it melted into a sticky brown puddle all over the seat. I discovered it after setting my reusable cloth grocery bags on top of it. The chocolate never did come out, and I refuse to carry around a bag that looks like it has a poop stain on it.

On the ten minute drive home, I make a plan. Celia should be home around seven, so I need to maximize every blessed moment of my alone time. First, I’m going to have a bath. I’ve been showering since the first week Celia moved in and informed me, lip curled in disgust, that having a bath was like stewing in your own filth. I've been hoarding the luxury strawberry-champagne bath bomb my best friend Bridget gave me ages ago, waiting for a Celia-free moment to finally use it. Next, I’ll pour myself a glass of wine—because I’ve never been above day drinking—and then I'll soak in the tub until I’m all pruny and fruity smelling. After that, I’ll squeeze in a bit of TV if I have time.

I pull into the parking lot of my apartment building and hurry up to the third floor, smiling to myself the whole way. My smile fades as I reach my door and hear the TV inside. I unlock the door and shove it open. There, on the couch, is Celia, wrapped in a fluffy blue housecoat—my housecoat, if I’m not mistaken—with the TV playing some crime show, and her bare feet elevated on the coffee table.

My dreams of a nice relaxing afternoon pop like the soap bubbles I won’t be seeing any time soon. Holding back a groan, I close the door with more force than intended, causing Celia to jump and whip around.

“Jeeze, you scared me!” She clutches her chest dramatically.

“Why are you home so early?” I ask, dumping my purse unceremoniously on the floor. The excitement of getting out of work early and envisioning a few hours alone has drained from my body, leaving me feeling wilted.

A flash of guilt passes over Celia's features before she turns back to the TV. “Oh, you know, they let me leave early today. Why are you home so early?”

Ignoring her question, I say, “They fired you, didn’t they?”

Her shoulders slump. Without looking at me, she reaches for the remote to mute the TV. “They started playing Christmas music today, Ivy.”

I wait for her to elaborate and when she doesn’t, I say, “Okay…and?”

Celia huffs out an annoyed breath. “It’s practically the beginning of November! They were playing the same songs over and over. This woman in my line mentioned how she’d heard whatever song was on twice already since being in the store. So I said it was way too early for them be playing Christmas songs. As she was nodding along, all agreeable, I might have mentioned something about how Christmas isn’t a real holiday anyway because Christians stole Yule from the Pagans and turned it into a Christian holiday, and most modern-day Christmas traditions are actually Pagan ones in disguise.” She says all this quickly until her last few words are running together and she’s out of breath.

Celia.” I groan, letting my head fall back against the front door. “You didn’t.”

“The woman seemed to think it was funny!” Her voice pitches higher with each word. “She was nodding and laughing, and then I guess the bitch went and reported me to the manager afterward.”

I let the ‘bitch’ comment slide; I’m a big believer in choosing your battles, and I have more important things to consider right now. “Didn’t we talk about how you can’t say things like that to people? I warned you and the store warned you when they saw your previous employment record. They were willing to give you a chance and you blew it two weeks in! Nobody’s going to want to hire you now, you know that right?”

Despite still sitting with her back to me, I imagine she’s doing one of her patented eye rolls right now. “Well, whatever. Maybe I’ll just be a lady of leisure.”

“And live off what? How are you going to pay rent and bills without a job? And buy food?” I stop myself just short of saying ‘And save up enough money to get a place of your own?’ This arrangement of ours is supposed to be temporary. Celia’s parents thought I’d be a good influence on the wayward twenty-three-year-old and could help her get her life together. They refused to let her move back home, and she couldn’t afford to live on her own, which is why she’s currently residing in my spare room and casting a pall over my entire life.

“I’ve got a bit of money saved for bills and stuff. And besides, you can afford this place without my share of the rent. You’ve been living here on your own for years.”

My blood pressure spikes. I can feel the blood surging through my veins. My vision blurs, and for a moment I wonder if it’s possible for a person’s head to actually explode. “No,” I say through clenched teeth. “Absolutely not. I’m not going to be some kind of sugar mama while you laze around all day. Not happening. You moved to town to work and save money so you could either go back to school or find a job you can stick with so you can get your own place, and that’s what you’re going to do.”

A bead of sweat rolls down my temple, and only now do I realize I’m still wearing my coat, scarf, and boots. I shuck them all and snatch my purse from the floor. “I’m going to take a bath,” I announce, striding as fast as my short legs will carry me toward the bathroom.

“Ivy,” Celia calls.

“I don’t want to hear it, Celia! I don’t know how dirty you think I must be, but a bath is not ‘stewing in your own filth’ if you bathe regularly like I do.” I slam the bathroom door and sit on the toilet lid, dropping my head into my hands. “Deep breaths,” I murmur to myself, massaging my temples and sucking in air like my life depends on it.

Shoving my hands into my hair, I start pulling the pins from my updo. Celia and I look enough alike it’s easy to believe we could be related. We have the same shade of almost-black hair, although mine has a bit of wave to it while hers is stick-straight. We also have similar brown eyes and were blessed with a clear complexion. But where Celia is easily identified as Chinese-Canadian, my mother’s Caucasian genes dominated my dad’s Asian roots. I’ve been referred to as ‘exotic’ and asked what country I come from more times than I can count.

I open the cabinet under the sink and pull out the toiletry bag where I keep my more expensive things, like my special occasion makeup, scented oils, and a few other things. Things like my bath bomb, which is now missing from where it was nestled between my glittery eye shadow and my manicure set. As I’m reaching for the medicine cabinet to see if it somehow ended up in there, my gaze catches the reflection of the bathtub in the mirror over the sink. The curtain is askew, and the tub has a pink ring around it. Pink, like the very expensive, have-been-saving-it-forever bath bomb that’s no longer where it should be.

Celia!”



(c) Marie Landry 2018
 

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

How to Find Your Kindle Email Address and Add a Safe Sender to Your List

I’ve nearly reached the point of the publishing process where I’m ready to send out ARCs of my upcoming contemporary romance ONLY YOU. I’ll be doing Kindle-exclusive ARCs, and it made me realize not everyone would know how to find their own Kindle email address or how to add a sender to their safe list. These are two good things to know because many authors like to send books directly to Kindle these days, whether they’re ARCs/review copies or giveaway prizes. You don’t have to have a Kindle to read a Kindle book. You can download the app for free on any smartphone or tablet. (Side note, if you’re in the market for a Kindle, I have a Paperwhite and I love it.)

  After you’ve signed into your Amazon account, hover your mouse over where it says Your Account at the top right corner of the Amazon page. When the drop-down menu appears, click on Manage Your Content and Devices. In the line of tabs near the top, click Device. Your Kindle email address should be near the top. It will end in kindle.com Alternately, click on Preferences and scroll down to Personal Document Settings. You’ll also find your Kindle email address here. There might be several; I have three - one for my actual Kindle Paperwhite, one for the Kindle app on my phone, and one for the Kindle app on my tablet. Each one has a distinct email address, but stick with your main Kindle address. Now, if you want to add a sender to your safe list, stay on that page and scroll down to where it says Approved Personal Document E-mail List. Click on Add a new approved email address and add the email you’ll be receiving a book from. For good measure, I’d also advise simply adding gmail.com and hotmail.com to the list; I did that after I entered a sender’s email once and still didn’t receive the ARC, then it came through. That’s it! I hope you found this helpful! If you did, I'd be grateful if you'd share on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook!



Saturday, September 15, 2018

ONLY YOU Cover Reveal Sign-Ups

My last post here on the blog was talking about finishing the first draft of my tenth novel. Things have moved quickly since then. I don’t normally go straight into revisions after finishing a first draft; I think it’s important to give yourself distance from the story, let it breathe, and approach it with fresh eyes. This time was different for me, though. It took several months to write this book, and since I never edit as I go, when I started the revision process the entire first half of the book hadn’t been touched in months. Since my writing and publishing schedules have been so out of whack the last couple of years, I wanted to get this book edited and ready to publish as quickly as possible so I could get back into a routine and start writing my next project sooner than later. As of now, I’ve done two rounds of revisions, my alpha reader has read it (and loved it, eep!), and it’s been sent to my amazing team of beta readers. Now while I wait to hear back from them, I’m going forward with the marketing plan I’ve been concocting for ages, and working on a few other projects. It’s all really exciting and kind of overwhelming, but after the last couple of years I’ve had, it’s wonderful to be getting back into a routine. The first step in my marketing plan is the cover reveal. The cover is already designed, and I’m thrilled with it. I’m planning a fairly small-scale cover reveal because I want to put more money, time, and energy into a blog and bookstagram tour for release week. If you’d like to help with the cover reveal, I’d be incredibly grateful. There are lots of options - Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, blog. You can find all the information on the sign-up form. There will be 2 $5 gift card prizes for participants...along with my everlasting gratitude, of course!


Want to know more about ONLY YOU? Here’s the synopsis:
  Ivy's new boss is sexy, Scottish…and comes with an expiration date. When Ivy reluctantly takes a job at Santa’s Village, it’s a means to an end. Doing this favor for her pain-in-the-neck roommate means she can have her apartment to herself again much sooner. The last thing she expects is Hugh—the hot Scot who just happens to be her new boss—asking her out on a date. And then another. And another. Something about Hugh makes Ivy want to let her guard down and open up, which would be perfect if he wasn't returning to Scotland in a matter of weeks. But maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe she can live in the moment and have a little fun, even if it means setting herself up for heartache later. ONLY YOU is a standalone contemporary romance about taking chances, unexpected friendships, and holding on to the things—and people—that matter most. 

Add ONLY YOU to your GoodReads TBR 

~*~*~*~*~

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