Happy New Year!

Hey, y’all! Hope your holiday season has been fantabulous! Still can’t believe today is the 28th of December. In a few days we’ll be ringing in the New Year! Remember, if you are planning on bidding 2017 farewell with a bang, do so safely.

I’d like to apologize for being a bit incognito. One of my 2018 goals are to be more active on all my social media mediums. In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been up to.

For starters, my family (extended included) has been plagued with serious issues. My mom spent almost six months in the hospital, I lost my grandmother, my husband lost a dear aunt, my moms younger sister fractured a vertebra and in the process, was diagnosed with cancer in her lumbar area. You might recall how I have my own health issues, and yes, I’m still dealing with these. Its been exhausting, but, like the saying goes, “one day at a time.” What truly has helped is having a husband and children who are patient, understanding, supportive, and extremely loving. Plus, two best friends that simply do not allow me to weather these storms on my own. Yes, I’m looking at you Tara & Jennie.

Also, my husband and I had planned on updating our floors. This project for obvious reasons kept getting pushed back. Well, November came, and it was time. Except, the project has been non-ending. *pulls hair* We had to address some plumbing, subfloor, and electrical issues. Talk about stressful. But, the end is near. Yay!

Oh, and, my in-laws finally retired! I’m extremely excited for them. They are off to a place of warmer weather, enjoying some much-needed R&R.

Before I update you on my writing, allow me to discuss vulnerabilities.

These past few months have been extremely difficult, as I attempted to trek through life and all it was throwing at me. I was in vulnerable state, easily hurt, and mentally causing myself more stress. I have this tendency to put up a wall, and deal with life on my own. I’ve always found this to be “easier” and somewhat “safer.” I’ll share snippets of what’s going on, but, its usually much more. I’m a protector, and my instinct is to protect those around me. In some twisted way, I’d convinced myself that by not being open with what I was going through, I was protecting others from, me.

I know, twisted. Right?
My two BFF’s had an intervention with me. I’ll admit, I was resistant at first. But, I allowed myself to be vulnerable. (See what I did here?) Instead of vulnerability being in the driver seat, I grabbed that sucker by the horns and said, “Listen, we’ve got to work together. So, instead of causing me more anxieties than I need, let’s work together.”
I put down my guard and opened up; patiently waited, and thank goodness not for long. They embraced me, and scolded me, and embraced and cried with me, again and again. By allowing myself to be vulnerable, I allowed two people whom I love and trust to help me, as best as they could. Let me tell you, it’s made a world of difference. It makes dealing with the issues, easier.

As a writer, and a writer with chronic health issues, I’m often isolated from the world around me. I interact with my family daily, but, it’s important to have people outside of my compound to talk to. Sure, I have quite a few friends within the writing community with whom I interact with via social media. And these are great interactions, but, it doesn’t and should never replace face to face interactions. I need this, and we all need it.

So, one of my goals of 2018 is to spend more quality time with people in my community. With friends and family.

Oh! And before I forget. About my writing? Well, you’ll just have to check back in after the New Year to read all about it!

Happy New Year! Be safe, be happy, be purposeful, and be healthy! Be kind to one another, and spread the joy!

Review: Origin

Hey! Hope y’all are doing well. I’ve been reading like a mad person. So many great books by fabulous Indie Authors. Don’t ever be afraid to check out Indie Authors. There are so many that are worth their weight in gold.

I’ve also managed to squeeze in a read from my all-time favorite author of our times, Dan Brown. Many of you probably recognize him from The Da Vinci Code. What fascinates me most about his writing is the paradoxical interplay between science and religion.

According to his website, “Brown’s latest novel, Origin, explores two of the fundamental questions of humankind: Where do we come from? Where are we going?”

Here is the book description:


Bilbao, Spain

Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to attend a major announcement – the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire, and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough…one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.

As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.

Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself…and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discover…and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.


A couple of things you should know about my review process, I don’t like giving away spoilers. I’ll tell you if and why I liked or disliked a book, whether or not I recommend this, and my overall impression of the story and the writing. 

Now let’s dive in!

Dan Brown once again, without question, has created a masterpiece, forcing us to consider creationism vs. science.

Robert Langdon, the symbology professor, takes us on a new journey of good vs. evil, on a global scale, where the outcome can be detrimental to humanity. Why not? The ingredients have proven to be a success in the past and do not disappoint in this, what has become his signature theme in writing.

The characters are utterly believable, from the captivating Ambra Vidal, the somewhat mad genius Edmond Kirsch, and of course location, location, location! Bilbao, Spain. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. A trek you can only appreciate as you excitedly page through to find out what is next!

Like many other Brown fans, I too found myself trying to figure out who were the bad guys. Ha! Just keep reading. *insert Dory voice*

Final verdict? Buy it! Read it! Yes, I highly recommend this to YA and above.


Don’t forget to follow me on social media!

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Review: Colors of Immortality

Hola, everyone! Sorry about my hiatus. It’s been crazy around here. But, I’ll save that for another blog entry.

I’m excited to announce my inaugural book review blog posts! Yay!

For my first “official” blog book review, I bring to you, Colors of Immortality by J.M. Muller

Colors of Immortality Award

Here is the author’s description:

Sixteen-year-old Daniel Thatcher has accepted some hard truths. He knows his parents are junkies, his ex-girlfriend’s a cheater, and he’s one write-up away from losing his job. But what he’s unwilling to accept is that his friend, Tony, skipped town for no reason. So when Daniel finds a map Tony left behind, he follows it to a remote section of the Cascade Mountains. 

It’s a land filled with haunting shadows and crowded trees – an area untouched by man. Or so Daniel thinks. Not long after arriving in the woods, Daniel discovers inhabitants living in the heart of the forest. Despite their peculiar behavior, the reclusive residents possess an allure that goes far beyond their beauty. But beneath their lovely exterior rests a sinister secret, one that’s both lethal and tragic. 

It seems the dead don’t always stay buried. Now Daniel’s forced to accept the hardest truth of all: monsters do exist, and if they have it their way, he’ll soon become one of them.

A couple of things you should know about my review process, I don’t like giving away spoilers. I’ll tell you if and why I liked or disliked a book, whether or not I recommend this, and my overall impression of the story and the writing. 

With that, let’s dive in!

J.M. Muller has created a fascinating tale, that moves through the genre (YA Paranormal) quite well. The characters, especially the protagonist are believable, along with the Velores and The Legend at the end. Actually, this book leaves you needing more. I rarely find this in most writings these days. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of reads out there leave fantastic cliffhangers, but Colors of Immortality leaves you CRAVING for the rest. Seriously, you’ll devour this read.

The author has come as close to an original creation if I’ve ever read one. A unique world of fantasy blended into the world as we know it creates a single unfamiliar experience that does not disappoint.

I highly recommend this book to YA and above. It indeed does not read like most YA novels, it reads much better. This is book one in a series, and I have it on good authority that book two should be out soon.

Don’t forget to follow the author on social media and the author Amazon page. Especially don’t forget to leave your awesome reviews!

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I’m Having A Major Meltdown

I’m Having A Major Meltdown – Hear Me Out

First off, I apologize to my local Domino’s delivery guy. I guess finding my address wasn’t so easy for him. I broke down in angry tears explaining how I was sick and couldn’t cook at the moment. Which is why I needed to order the pizza in the first place. Poor lad couldn’t get away from my front door quick enough. I then proceeded to explain in my review how it wasn’t the driver’s fault that I was having a bad day. Thankfully, that was a one-liner, as I winced through very blurred vision. Oh, but I will shamelessly admit I did take to Twitter on my phone, as I impatiently waited. Yep! I did. You see. My seizures came back. And today was my husband’s first day back to work. We both agreed pizza was easy to order. But of course, I failed.

I’m so frazzled! I’m so sorry!

His first instructions; just take a deep breath and everything will be OK. Easier said than done.

I’m such a mess, and if this sounds jumbled, it’s because it is. My brain is all screwed up.

How’s my writing going? It’s not. It was, but It’s at a halt for the moment. I was hoping to gain some perspective from the cover artist since I’m a very visual person. But, the cover artist seems to be on an island of his own somewhere in outer space at the moment. I’ve been waiting for something grandiose, but still nothing but emptiness. I guess its that light travel or maybe it got sucked up in a warm hole. LOL! Anyway…

I’ll catch up when I’m feeling better and nicer. In the meantime, take care y’all.


My Book Challenge

Hello! How’ve Y’all been? Well, it’s continued to be rather rainy up here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. But, I’ve heard the sun is soon forthcoming. *insert happy dance*

So, every year I challenge myself to read a few more books than the previous year. I’m usually a bit further along from where I am today. However, these past two weeks I’ve made some progress.

Before I get into my reading challenge, allow me to share these two beauties. I’ve been looking forward to these.


Courtesan by Diane Haegar is an absolute labor of love. I came across this book a few times, and each time I was pressed to grab a copy, but never did. So, imagine my surprise when I learned the beautiful cover which I can never forget belonged to a social media “friend?!” Once I connected the dots, I knew I had to grab a copy. It’s fate. It’s meant to be.

Duty to the Crown by Aimie K. Runyan appeared in an online book club I’m in. I will admit, I’m a sucker for a great cover. And both of these books have great covers that draw me in. They both are also historical fiction which is a genre I enjoyed but hadn’t been reading much of, as of late.

If you follow me on Goodreads, HERE, you’ll see my book reviews. I apologize I don’t have a ton of them up. My account got hacked earlier this year. I was able to get it back, but all of my 500+ read books were gone. Hence my effort to step up my game when it comes to reading.

The following image contains my reads of the past two weeks. That’s my kindle at the top of the stack, which contains more of what I read. If you follow me on Instagram @itsrosecastro or Twitter @RoseCastro, I typically share what I’m currently reading.

Yes, my two books are in the mix. Why? Because in all honesty, I had not read these in paperback form. I figured it was time, so there you have it.


Reading isn’t just a hobby for someone like me. I know I’m not alone when I say this, reading offers so much more. It’s not just an escape in the moment, but adventures the author takes you on in which you can visualize and feel so much more.

I don’t usually plow through this many books on a consistent basis. But, I needed a break from writing because A) my teenager is busy getting ready to graduate, and if you follow my blogs, you’ll know, that he usually helps me. B) I got new glasses, and I’m having a tough time adjusting to these. So, they are rendering me useless in the writing department. C) I needed to step up my game in the reading department. I’ve noticed when I don’t read as often my creative juices become stagnant. No one wants stagnant writing. I’m a believer in reading while you write. I think it’s important. It helps us grow as writers. But that’s just my opinion. And you know what they say about those? *wink*

My original goal for the year was more than 25-books. No particular length. I’m at 12 so far, and it’s not quite the middle of the year. I think I’ll exceed my challenge, so long as my health and eyesight permit.

What are your reading goals?

There is no right or wrong answer. I have a lot of family and friends *cough my husband cough* who claim not to enjoy reading. Personally, I think it’s because they haven’t found a book that can pull them in. You have to be willing to invest your time. Many books start off a little slower. So, if you only make it to the fourth chapter, you might not have gone far enough to get hooked in. Trust me, most of us prolific readers are the same.

Just remember, pick a book in a genre that interests you. It doesn’t have to be a literary classic. Heck, I started out with comic books, and I still enjoy these very much, thank you. Don’t allow others to influence your likes and dislikes. In other words, don’t be intimidated if what you have to offer is, “I really enjoyed XYZ by LMNOP.” Others might want to get into the nitty gritty, but you don’t have to. I love ‘The Odyssey’ and ‘The Iliad’ by Homer. Most of my close acquaintances don’t, and that’s OK.

Create a reading area that is free of distraction, with comfortable seating, and grab a book of your choice. It can be 30 pages or 300. The point is to read.

Share what you are reading on my Facebook Page, HERE, and below in the comments section. I would love to hear from you. Kudos for photos of your reads!


Steampunk – Sorry, Victorian Steampunk

Do you know what steampunk is? You do? Great! You don’t? No worries, I didn’t really know what it was neither. Well, at least until an author friend wrote a steampunk novel.

First, here is the technical description of steampunk.




noun steam·punk \ˈstēm-ˌpəŋk\

Definition of steampunk

  1. :  science fiction dealing with 19th-century societies dominated by historical or imagined steam-powered technology

Did You Know?

I think Victorian fantasies are going to be the next big thing, as long as we can come up with a fitting collective term for [Tim] Powers, [James] Blaylock and myself. So wrote the science-fiction author K. W. Jeter, credited with coining the term steampunk in 1987 to describe a wave of fantasy novels set in Victorian times and celebrating the technology of the era, much of which was powered by steam. In both name and subject, steampunk is an antithesis to cyberpunk, a genre often noted for featuring computerized, futuristic, or unearthly settings. The popularity of steampunk has since carried over to motion pictures, fashion, and even things like restaurant décor.

Origin and Etymology of steampunk

1steam + cyberpunk

First Known Use: 1987


You’d be surprised, you might have actually watched a steampunk inspired movie without realizing it. Below are a few titles.


The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Sean Connery, Peta Wilson, Shane West) 

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Rachel McAdams, Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law)

Stardust (Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Claire Danes)

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Kirk Douglas, Peter Loree, Paul Lukas)

Treasure Planet (animated film)

Van Helsing (Kate Beckinsale, Hugh Jackman, Josie Maran)

Sleepy Hollow (Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Christopher Walken)

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law)

Steamboy (animated film)

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (Meryl Streep, Jim Carrey, Jude Law)

The Golden Compass (Nicole Kidman, Eva Green, Ian McKellen)

Robots (animated film)

The Rocketeer (Jennifer Connelly, Timothy Dalton, Alan Arkin)

These are just a few films with elements of steampunk. There are far more including TV shows, but, I think you catch my drift.

Steampunk has been around for three decades now and has also evolved into post-apocalyptic, alchemy, western, cyberpunk and perhaps others I have yet to discover. In addition to the fan following, there are also those who’ve adapted steampunk as a cosplay lifestyle. And I love it! But, you won’t catch me dawning any steampunk threads. I’m just not brave enough. Besides, it can become too expensive, because, ya know, I’d want everything to come as close to perfect. Ha!

I became grossly emerged along my author friends side, as she wrote The Dragon Lady. She researched Victorian steampunk, specifically, for almost a year. You see, you can’t just throw in steampunky stuff like goggles, an airship, compasses, or what have you’s and call it steampunk. There is much more to this, and while I love the genre, you won’t catch me writing it. It was stressful just listening to her. But, I tried to be as helpful as I could, if even just to be a sounding board.

Victorian steampunk requires that you write in a particular dialogue to stay true to the period, along with being OK with crossing lines in terms of describing inventions and clothing that is of the era while incorporating mechanism enhancements to items that may have already existed. In other words, not an easy feat. And, I’m glad some writers can get sucked into the subgenre and do this justice. Because the last thing we need as readers are more books that do the subgenre injustice.

Grab your copy today! Click Here

Give a new genre a chance. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised, as I have. I used to be one of those readers who’d only stick to traditionally published, best-selling authors. I’d seldom venture towards anything unknown. Boy, do I wish I would have taken a chance on Indie and Self-Published authors much sooner. Seriously, I missed out on a lot. Don’t make my same mistake. Yes, you’ll come across some cringe-worthy self-published books, but, that’s what reviews are for. Be kind, but be honest in your reviews. Let all authors know how you enjoyed their work, good or bad, we need to know. That’s the only way we grow.

Book Marketing

Where to start? Diving right in, I suppose.

First, allow me to share some exciting news. Elemental Linx got to hang out in the No. 4 spot in a category which Rick Riordan (You know? Percy Jackson!) dominates. I know the Amazon rankings change quite often, especially for those of us Self-Published authors, but, I savored the moment while it lasted.

Top Four

Now onto marketing. I’d love to say Elemental Linx made it there on its own. But, that isn’t true. Between a fellow author friend, my husband, and my eldest son, we spent a lot of time reviewing my marketing options. (I need the additional help because, as you all know, I can’t see very well. The added eyes are a must.) I’ve been very fortunate to have found a very small group of fellow writers who are willing to help an amateur out with marketing ideas. However, truth be told, nothing about book marketing is cheap. Some authors swear by certain book promo sites, while others steer free and clear of these. I wish I could sit here and tell you which ones work best, but I can’t. Because I have relatively no good results from the various sites I’ve tried to promote Elemental Linx on. The ROI (return on investment) has been ZILCH!

At one point, I’d almost given up. Here I was with a new release, and with the exception of a few sales early on it seemed the momentum had fizzled away. What’s a gal to do?

Thankfully, I was desperate enough to use my lifelines, ALL OF THEM! 50/50, Phone A Friend, and Ask The Audience. I also dug deep into researching online, but everything I read came up with older information. As with technology, book marketing is ever changing. What once would launch a Self-Published author into success two years ago, no longer holds true today. And those who are currently sitting on success, however, little or much, guard their trade secrets like no other. Understandably so.

Then there’s the promo site, the Holy Grail of promo sites, BookBub. Oh to get a BookBub is almost like winning the lottery for Self-Published authors First, allow me to say, depending on the genre it can cost a pretty penny, but, it is one of the only known promo sites where you at minimum make your money back, for the most part, as there are exceptions, but these are rare. Getting approved for a BookBub promo is the key as it is not easy. I’ve heard of authors submitting and being rejected over 60 times! Say what? Yep, you heard me right. So why continue trying? Because it’s also the promo that has landed authors on bestseller lists like that of USA Today. The BookBub gatekeepers have done an excellent job in making their site beneficial to all. In other words, they’ve created a win-win scenario.

Have I tried to get a BookBub promo? Yes, yes I did. My promo request was rejected. I’m not going to lie, it did hurt. But, I expected it. I submitted for a BookBub within the first week that Elemental Linx released. Although they have accepted new releases, these are typically from proven authors with BookBub followings. I think I might have had three Amazon reviews for my book, and BookBub likes to see a few more so they can get a better view of how readers have responded to the book.

Remember, this is why writing reviews to books you’ve read are so important! We need your awesome reviews!

So then what? Well, like I mentioned before, I was desperate. I was reading the comments to a post within a writers group on Facebook. One of the writers made a comment that I’m not sure most caught onto, or if they did they didn’t pursue it. But I did. I asked the person if I may private message them to which they said “yes.” Before I knew it, I was asked how serious I was in dedicating time every day to marketing. Seemed like a fairly easy question, but, I had to think about it. Like I said, I require help, so I needed to make sure I could give it a go with the proper help. Once I established this I agreed to give it a try.

Marketing Is Not Easy. Period.  

I was invited into a special test group for book marketing. The information available to each member is astonishing, but for someone like me, it is overwhelming. I’m not a numbers person, and there are a lot of numbers involved. I also have a hard time wrapping my brain around complex information, partly because of my chronic illnesses, and partly because I guess I’m just not that smart. Thankfully my support, in other words, my husband, is great at numbers! He’s been patient in explaining why the spreadsheet works the way it does when capturing data. I understand 3/4 of what he’s saying and forget it as soon as he’s said it. Retention is just not there. But, we keep at it as often as we can. Eventually, via repetition, I might learn something.

What I have learned is that unless you have a huge budget that allows you to hire industry experts, this book marketing is a daily task. So far, what’s been working for me is understanding my books categories and how to push through these via keywords. It’s not easy, it takes time to build, and yes, a little money as well.

Only time will tell if my new approach to marketing is sustainable. In the meantime, we’ve got to continue thinking out of the box.