Monday, February 3, 2014

Life's A Cappella - Review Tour

I want to tell you how great my life was. How I lived without regrets. With constant laughter. Without any tears. I want to tell you how I lived each moment to the fullest. How each breath I took was fresh and full of life. With eagerness. Without any fear.
I want to tell you all of that, but then my story would be masked with lies and not worth telling.
My life didn’t start until I left my past. And I left everything. My mother, my friends, my name.
My new name, the name everyone knows me by is Erin Lewis.

Four years after finding the courage to leave her hometown in Alabama, Erin is finally happy with where her life has led her. Not only is she secure in her environment, but the relationships she has formed center her, making her forget how damaged she once was. Before she can fully settle into her new life, her past crashes into her present, unraveling a set of events that destroy the very foundation she has built her new life on.

*****MY Five Star Review! *****
This is an amazing story of one woman's strength and drive to be better than her beginnings. Erin's story is of accepting things you can't change, dealing with life's journey and making the best of it. Even when Erin is at her lowest she finds the inner strength to pull up her big-girl panties and forge on. I loved the realism of the journey and the authors lack of sugar-coating issues that needed to be addressed. A love story within a journey of acceptance and strength and lots of love. 

Erin "was born into a family in which the word family in and of itself was laughable." But she picked her new name and made a new life in Miami. She put herself through school and had her circle of girls known as "The Cunt Hut"...seriously!! With her best friend Camilla aka Cam, they had fun and could laugh and rely on one another like sisters, to call them on their shit and laugh at their antics. From Cam loosing her car, yes, her whole vehicle in a parking Erin getting so animated with recalling something, Cam would accuse her of her "Cuban is showing. Hands and tongue flapping so fast..." They share an amazing friendship anyone would envy. 

Trent was "bananas" for Erin, literally, as he "offered us a banana." In a most sweet and kind gesture he worked his way into Erin's life and though his actions wound up helping her heal what was broken. He was in a band....OH YES!!.. a band....not full time but he played the most rockin' instrument...ok, not really...well kind-of....hahahaha, nope you have to read that part ;) But his honest and openness to life and his feelings made you want to *swoon* over him. 

Nate and Shayna are a part of Erin's past that come into the story and ambush you and your heart. You can't (i dont care who you are) you can't help but love both of them. Both independantly and together. It changes everything and makes this story into so much more, more heartache, more love, more joy and more healing. 

This is a must read, I can't say enough about this book without giving away every delicious detail. I laughed till If almost PMP. I cried ugly tears and hiccups. But most of all I loved the warmth and love this story told. I hope when you pick up this book you enjoy it as much as I did. :)

Meet Yessi Smith

I’m a Hispanic living in South Florida with my redneck husband from Texas and our “half breed” son, who is actually the reason I started writing again after years of celibacy. My son loves stories, but not the kind you can read in an existing book. No, he’d rather make up a story, complete with our own illustrations. So, thank you, Son, for igniting a flame I had let go out.

I also live with two dogs: a neurotic Border Collie we call Nitro and a midget Rottweiler named Nisa.
I have always found my sanctuary at the beach and in music and writing. I wish I could write rhymes so I could become a famous rapper, but rhyming is completely lost on me.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a Master’s in Human Resource Management. I have held several jobs, from picking up dog crap to upper management positions. And now I am hoping to leave the business world behind so I can live full time in a world that does not exist until I place my fingers on.

Author Interview with Yessi Smith!!

What inspires your writing?
Anything. I live a lot in my head and I love making up stories for strangers that pique my interest: who they are, what they’re doing, and, because I have a flair for the dramatics, what they’re hiding or running from. Within minutes I’ve constructed they’re whole life story, sometimes with a HEA.

In Life’s A Cappella, music is a common theme. What artists have impacted your life the most?
Definitely Pink and Eminem. My mind is always on the go and rarely ever rests. Pink and Eminem are my go-to artists when I want to escape from my brain for a little while.

What character in Life’s A Cappella do you like the most and what traits do you find you share with this character?
Cam is my favorite. She’s the type of person that wakes up every morning and lives it to the fullest. She’s a people person, doesn’t care what others think of her, and is loyal. She’s funny and a bit unpredictable and actually made me laugh a couple times. 
The one thing Cam and I have in common is our optimism. Life takes brutal twists and turns, but the most important thing life has taught me is not to let the bad things beat you down. Stand tall, proud of your scars and the lessons you’ve learned.

Have you always aspired to be an Author?
Always. From the moment I learned how to write, you couldn’t find me without those black and white composition books. I’d draw out comics (I’m horrible at drawing and my grandma still has those books to prove it), write screenplays I’d want my family to act out, interview strangers, and write stories nonstop.

In writing Life’s A Cappella, did the characters take over the storyline, creating their own paths, or did you create an outline in advance, and stick with it?
They  took over ME! Every moment, they were demanding I listen to them so my husband bought me a little black notebook for me to write in that I keep with me at all times. It is full of the different paths my characters wanted to take. I’d let them guide me, but there are several chapters I wasn’t happy with and deleted entirely. Cam was my biggest surprise, but once she told me what her fate was, I couldn’t back out, no matter how much I fought with her.
It’s weird for me to call them characters in my book because they took over my life so completely. I dreamt about them and spoke to my family and friends about them as if they were real breathing people. I know them intimately and it’s been hard to let them go.
I’ve started an outline for my next novel to help me get in a new person’s frame of mind, but I find its hard to stick with the outline. Life is unscripted, without an outline or directions on where we should go. I like to write not knowing where I’m going. I like the unknown, even when it leads you down paths you would rather not have traveled.   

 Do you have another career?
I do. I am Human Resources and Crewing Manager for a company that owns 7 vessels that transport fuel throughout the Bahamian islands. So in other words, my job mainly comprises of me bossing around 60+ men.

Describe your support system during your journey.
My husband, Derrick, would be my biggest supporter and motivator. He has read every word I have written since I was in college and published my first article in a dog magazine. After some success and a lot of failure, I stopped writing altogether. Derrick always encouraged me to keep trying, but even though I published a few things, the rejections devastated me. I put everything into what I write and each rejection felt like a personal attack on me. A few years ago, he started pushing me again, but this time towards publishing independently. After reading a few indie authors, I realized that I had never let go of my dream, so here I am trying again, but this time the success isn’t as important as the journey itself. My husband is proud of me and, more importantly, I’m proud of myself.
My family has had to put up with me shoving my stories down their throat since I was young and my mom especially has always encouraged me to go after my dreams. Although I can’t find them, my grandma says she still has every composition book I’ve ever written in and is demanding the first autographed copy of Life’s A Cappella even though she can’t speak English.
My friends are amazing and have helped me immensely as beta readers and/or as motivators. As far as friends go, my greatest supporters have been  Madelyn, Tashaune, Pia and Lissette. In fact, while I was doing this interview, Pia sent me a message telling me how proud she is of me and how she’s been telling me I should write since grade school.

Did you experience any challenges along your journey?
Just a few (note sarcasm). While trying to juggle the demands of my 6 year old son, a full time job and writing was difficult, my biggest obstacle was myself. I have doubted myself, been led the wrong way and deleted chapters, gotten discouraged and stopped writing a few days at a time.
And then after it was done, promoting the book was far more difficult than I imagined. I didn’t follow book blogs and hadn’t befriended other indie authors so my connections were nonexistent. The day Ty posted on Facebook about being an author’s Personal Assistant and handling the promotions side of the business, I swear I heard angels singing.

Are you a beach bum?
Absolutely. There’s nothing better than spending the day on the beach with a cooler full of drinks and croquettas.  

What is your favorite beach?
The beaches in The Bahamas are amazing! Crystal clear water where you can see down to the sea floor from aboveground.

Name your TOP 10 favorite artists and songs:
Only 10? This is hard!
1. Bob Marley is my all time favorite artist so he’s number 1 with One Love.
The rest are in no particular order:
2.  Slaughterhouse – Goodbye
3. Sublime – Garden Grove
4. Metallica – So What
5. Pink – F*ing Perfect
6. Skylar Grey – Final Warning
7.  Steve Miller Band – The Joker
8. George Strait – I Cross My Heart (that’s my wedding song)
9.  The Cranberries – Zombie
10. Eminem – Without Me or When I’m gone – I can’t decide!

Name your TOP TEN favorite Authors and Books:
In no particular order:
1.  Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend – Matthew Dicks
2. The Fault in our Stars – John Green
3. The Passage Series – Justin Cronin
4. Expired Regrets – Megan Smith
5. Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom
6. The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks
7. The Way Series – HJ Bellus
8. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
9. Hunger Games trilogy – Suzanne Collins
10. Happenstance – MJ Abraham

Top 5 Vacation Destinations (add more, if you’d like) (it can be a wish list also)
1. I haven’t been in roughly 10 years but when I was younger my parents would take my sister and I to Harbour Island, which has pink sands, horseback riding, and excellent spots to scuba or snorkel.
2.  Colorado was the first family vacation my husband and I took with our son. The whole state is beautiful and the people we met were so friendly.  Our son loved it so much over there, he tells us pretty often he wants to move over there. He may or may not want to move there because I told him Smurfs only live in the Colorado mountains so he’d be more eager to hike.
3. We just recently went to the Grand Canyon and there’s no way to describe the perfection of that place so I won’t even try.
4. Wish list: Anywhere in Europe, but primarily Ireland. For whatever reason I’ve always been intrigued with the place. I actually remember being about 10 years old and begging my mom to buy me a book about Ireland. I must have gone through that book a hundred times and still couldn’t get enough.
5. Wish list: San Juan Islands in Seattle. The islands look amazing and there are a lot of opportunities to see orca whales in their natural habitat.
6. Wish list: Africa, mainly for the animals but also because of the diversity in the land and culture.

Dream Car?
Jeep Wrangler or a convertible. I just want my car topless!

Are you a pessimist, optimist, or opportunist?
Definitely an optimist. According to my husband it’s one of my most annoying characteristics.

Other than writing, what are your other favorite hobbies?
I love to read, go to the beach, hang out with my husband and son, drink wine with friends, listen to music.

Do you have issues with cereal to milk ratio? I do!
I actually like my cereal dry, without any milk. Is that weird?

List 5 adjectives that describe you:
Impulsive, short, fun, talkative, hungry (I really am always hungry!)

Name 5 pet peeves:
1. When people chew with your mouth open or smack while eating.
2.  Miami drivers
3. Pity parties – don’t get me wrong, I’ve thrown myself several pity parties but then I annoy myself and force myself to stop
4. When people have a higher than thou opinion of themselves and see everyone else below themselves.
5. Sharing my chocolate. I tell my son I’m eating medicine disguised as chocolate so I don’t have to share.

Top 10 favorite meals/desserts
1. Maggie Moo’s chocolate ice cream – sometimes with Oreos.
2. Bistec Milanesa with white rice – it’s like chicken fried steak topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese
3. Panera Bread’s cream of chicken and wild rice soup. If anyone has a good recipe for this please, please, please let me know!
4. Anything my husband BBQs
5. Does fried mozzarella count as a meal? It should!
6. My mom’s meatloaf
7. Spaghetti squash with chicken marsala, just to prove I do know how to cook and eat healthy
8. Oreos! I can seriously eat an entire box in one sitting.
9. My grandma’s mac n cheese
10. My brother-in-law’s brisket

What is your favorite quote?
It’s actually the quote in the front of my book… “Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all.  Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved but have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours...” -Ayn Rand

Excerpts from Life’s A Cappella


Reviews of Life’s A Cappella

Connect with Yessi Smith

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Our A Cappella (A Cappella 1.5) Cover Reveal

Releasing February 7, 2014

Five months after their wedding, Trent struggles with the strain of juggling work and family life as Erin furthers her education, getting a Master's degree in Nursing. All Trent wants is one weekend alone with his wife to reconnect but Erin's focus is adamantly elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Nate, Erin's oldest friend and brother, has formed an undeniable bond with Tonya that he is reluctant to pursue because of his own inner demons.

Will love be enough?

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