Sweet Dreams

Today’s the day!! It’s “Cover Reveal Day” for Sweet Dreams, the final book in The Illusion Trilogy. To celebrate, here is an exclusive interview with the author, Nadette Rae Rodgers.


Q: How many hours a day do you write?

A: I don’t write every day because I am a college student. But I actually find writing very relaxing, so once I am caught up on my studies, I write anywhere from one hour to five! I do a lot of my writing on breaks, in which case, I write all day.


Q: Do you base your characters off people you know?

A: Definitely not! I’ve had people come back from my past thinking that sitting next to me in a chem class in high school meant I wrote them as the dreamy guy in my book LOL. Of course, there are some personality traits of my family and good friends that I blended into all of the characters. But it’s not like I could tell you one character is based on one person that I know.


Q: How do you select the names of your characters?

A: So, for books one and two, all of the names were pretty much just names I have always loved. As I continued writing, I felt that the names suited the characters I was creating.

For the final book, however, there are a few very key characters who come into play. For the new characters, their names have very important meanings to them, which I explain toward the end of the third book.


Q: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

A: I do a lot of my research as I write, rather than all at the beginning. I research dreams and the sleep cycle and scientific facts about things like that. I like to make sure that even when dream sequences are strange and different, that they also are realistic to how a typical dream would be.


Q: Which is your favorite book that you have written?

A: Oh, man! That is a really tough question! I think I will always have a very special place in my heart for Illusion, because it truly was the book that started me on this whole journey! I am so thankful for that book and where it has lead me. I do, however, really feel that I have come into my own as an author and that I really found my voice. The third book is such a deep and real story. It was so bittersweet writing the ending of this trilogy that has been in my mind for YEARS! The third book felt like everything I wanted to share wrapping up for the ending. I am really, really happy with it.


Q: How did you figure out that you wanted to be an author?

A: To be honest, I just LOVED reading! I read all the time! I always thought authors were the coolest people ever. Anytime people ask that question of “what famous person would you like to have dinner with?”, I always pick an author because I think it would be so cool to have a conversation with them about writing. I always wanted to be an author! I just never dreamed I’d be an author at 20!


Q: What tips do you have for aspiring authors?

A: Honestly, talking with aspiring authors is one of my favorite things! I love talking with them and encouraging them to pursue their dreams. I tell aspiring authors to read other authors in the genre they want to write in so they can get a feel for what’s out there. I also suggest that they start a blog to get their voice out there and see how that goes.

My main tip for aspiring authors though is: Go for it! Write that book you’ve been thinking of (or publish it if you’re already done!). Follow your dreams and share your story with others. There’s a reason you have that story inside of you, so you should share it with people. “Someday, you’ll be someone’s favorite author!” You don’t need to wait to follow your dreams. Do something today (one small step) to follow your dreams, even if it’s just buying a notebook to start writing.


Thanks so much for your time, Nadette. It has been a pleasure working with you!

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Strength

*credit goes to my coach, Big Show, for most of the ideas in this poem


Strength


My chest rises.

My chest falls.


I ignore the distractions around me.

My concentration will not be broken.


I inhale strength.

I exhale weakness.


Only I can determine how I do.


My attitude can move mountains.

Or the mountains can topple me.


My chest rises.

My chest falls.


There is only one person in control of me.

Only I can dictate my next move.


I inhale strength.

I exhale weakness.


I can choose to adapt to change.

Or I can flounder in my downfall.


My chest rises.

My chest falls.


I embrace the challenge.

I do not accept defeat.


I inhale strength.

I exhale weakness.


I am a swimmer; I am strong.

A Sense of Excellency

Music can be described as an instrumental sound that produces beauty, harmony, and expression of emotion. I have been playing the violin for as long as I can remember. It has helped me to build my confidence in front of crowds, to have a sense of excellency, and to express myself in a way that words simply cannot.

It is my eighth grade year, my orchestra teacher, Mrs. Wells, leaves for maternity leave after winter break. All of us miss her terribly, so I come up with a brilliant idea to welcome her back in March. We played in All-County in October, and Mrs. Wells loves one of the songs, “Forever Joyful.” I tell my idea to my friend, Jolesiah, and she agrees that we need to initiate the plan.

First, we explain to our class what we want to do, so we can hear their opinions. Even if they do not like the idea, we plan on going through with it anyway. Then, we hunt down the principal to give us the “okay” and to help us with preparations.

Jolesiah and I call the seventh and eighth grade orchestra students to a classroom for a meeting. We tell them all of the important details. I can tell some of them are not taking this too seriously. If things are to go perfectly, I need everyone on the same page.

Waking up on the right side of my bed, I am ecstatic that this day has finally arrived. I pull on my black orchestra shirt and jeans. I make sure to arrive at school with plenty of time to spare. It is a Monday morning, but I will not use that as an excuse to be glum. Of course half of the people show up, forgetting everything we had discussed at the meeting. I had sent out several reminders the last couple of days. I grow frustrated as more and more people show up without an orchestra shirt on. Now, we will not look as organized as we ought be. It is a struggle to make sure everyone sneaks into the guitar room to unpack and tune.

Before morning meeting, all of us scramble onto the stage in the cafeteria, and the curtains open after the announcements are made. The principal, Mr. Smith, delivers a succinct introduction, then counts us off and attempts to conduct “Forever Joyful.” It probably does not sound quite as joyful as we intend, but close enough. Mrs. Wells is grateful for our gesture, and she gives us all hugs.

This same school year, I began taking lessons with the high school orchestra teacher, Mrs. Perry, and we start working on a song called “Gavotte from Mignon.” It has a catchy tune that becomes stuck in the heads of everyone that listens to it. I practice the song over and over until my fingers grow sore. I decide to perform it in front of Southwood to build my confidence for an upcoming audition.

Wearing a cream colored shirt with a flannel, jeans, and white converse, I saunter to the front of the cafeteria. Nerves begin taking control, and I can feel the beads of sweat forming on my palms. My eyes scan across the people seated and then glance at the camera only a few feet away from me. After taking one final breath, I lift my violin, tuck her under my chin, and began to play. It is not a surprise that I make a few mistakes, but they are hardly noticeable. An invisible force turns the corners of my mouth upward as the final note echoes throughout the room. Applause immediately breaks out. People are cheering and standing up to support me. The nerves creep away, but are quickly replaced with ebullience. Throughout the day, teachers, students, and friends continue congratulating me and praising my performance.

A week, maybe two, has gone by since I played my solo in front of Southwood. My friend, Ashley White, and I decide to perform a duet in front of the school. The previous year, we had tried to play “Quintus” for Solo and Ensemble, but we were unable to sufficiently practice it together, since she is a grade below me.

I am wearing a navy blue shirt tucked into my favorite white skirt, tights, and flats. Ashley is sporting a navy blue dress with her dolphin necklace. My hands instinctively reach up to the pendant I always wear around my neck for good luck, a mood necklace with a silver mermaid inside. Dark blue is the visible color, as usual. I am supposed to feel at peace, but I cannot help but feel that my necklace is mistaken.

This time, we are performing on the cafeteria stage. Since Ashley is a bass player, I set the music up on both of our stands, so she does not have five million things to carry. We walk to the front as the curtains move out of our way. My breathing quickens, so I take deep breaths to calm myself down.

I inhale quickly and make the motion to begin. As our bows begin moving across the strings, jubilant music escapes from the soundholes. Everything is going accordingly until, Ashley suddenly stops playing. I peer over at her and see a muddled expression across her face. I feel a punch to my stomach as I realize my distressing mistake: the song is two pages, but the thought to unfold her music earlier had slipped my mind. We look over to Mrs. Wells for a clue of what to do next.

“Start at the top of the second page,” our teacher whispers. At first, I worry that I misheard her. I do not want us to start at two conflicting spots in the song. I nod simply and cue the beat like I had before. To our luck, we are back on track. We finish the song, taking a bow to acknowledge the audience’s applause. Like the last time I performed, people continue to congratulate us and tell us how amazing we sound. We even receive a few compliments on our color coordinating outfits.

It is the last concert of the year. The last concert of middle school. The last concert Mrs. Wells will conduct as a Southwood teacher. I am wearing my light red orchestra shirt, ugly khakis, and blue converse. Am I happy about the attire? No, not terribly. It is my last concert of middle school and we are not even professionally dressed.

A few weeks prior, our eighth grade class decided to play “Memory” from Cats as a way to reflect on our memories in Orchestra. While we play the song, a slideshow is projected behind us. We had sent in pictures of us as babies, kids, and teenagers to show the memories of our life.

It is now Christmas of my freshman year of high school. I have been taking private lessons with Miss Whitehouse for approximately two months. During that time period, I have practiced a song called “Fantasia The Boy Paganini.” It is quite difficult, requiring me to play in various positions throughout the song. I absolutely detest shifting. My hands are always so sweaty; it makes sliding my hand around ten times harder. Nonetheless, I had chosen this song over “Hungarian Dance,” to play in the upcoming recital.

It is the evening of my big Winter Recital, but I definitely do not feel prepared. Instead, I am nauseous, unable to eat without feeling like I am going to regurgitate. I even cry a few times, but I try not to admit to myself that the reason is because I am so nervous. I love the song, I am just horrendous at playing it. No matter how much I practiced, the sound would not come naturally.

Having gone twenty-two hours without food and feeling extremely apprehensive, I watch the other people play their cute, popular Christmas songs, and begin to wonder why I was not able to choose a holiday song. I rock back and forth in my seat, not wanting my turn to come. When my name is called, I shuffle to the front of the gallery in the Arts Center.

As I announce my name and the song I am playing, my voice is barely audible. It is a surprise I have not tripped in the wedges I have chosen to wear with my black dress. Trying not to meet the eyes staring at me, I look to the pianist. He nods at me and I cue him to begin. Right from the start, I can feel that it is going to be one of the longest five minutes of my life.

Once the song is over, I take a sloppy bow, awkwardly smile for the camera, and scramble back to my chair. As the recital comes to a close, random people approach me to compliment me. Inside I feel as though they are all lying to make me feel better about myself. I smile and thank them, trying to maintain a gregarious demeanor.

Not everyone strives for excellence, but then again, not everyone is me. Playing the violin has pushed me more than I could have ever imagined. If I had known how hard it would be when I started nine years ago, I probably would have begged to quit. On my journey, I have wanted to give up multiple times, but my drive for success would not allow it. My courage has grown as I have performed in front of divergent audiences, and I push myself and others to receive superior in any group or solo competition. If music has taught me two things, it is to have a sense of excellency and to push others to have the same.

“The Last Wish of Sasha Cade” Review

I had the most amazing opportunity to read this book before it was published. I wish I could give it more than five stars, it deserves a galaxy!

This is a story filled with secrets, adventures, romance, memories, and more.

Raquel’s best friend, Sasha, has died of cancer. However, as her last wish, Sasha has left a scavenger hunt for her to complete. When Raquel follows the first set of instructions, she meets a mysterious boy, Elijah, at Sasha’s grave. Together, they go on the adventure of a lifetime to fulfill the last wish of Sasha Cade.

I loved every minute spent reading this book, and I recommend it 10/10 when it releases on October 2, 2018. Although there are a lot of heart shattering moments, this story will have you so drawn in, you’ll never want to put it down. I’ve never cried over a book as much as this one. It will bring tears of both heartbreak and joy to your eyes. This is definitely one of my favorite books, and I hope you have the chance to read it— you will not regret it!

Zarox Review

I had an amazing opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Zarox is a story about a young boy, Parker, and his friends. They find themselves in a world unlike their own, with new creatures and powers. In order to save the world, they most find pages from The Book of Zarox, learn to use their newly found powers, and battle villains.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this novel. There were some parts that confused me, or were not explained thoroughly, but I was able to get the gist of it. It also took me a little while to get into the story.

In all honesty, the main characters were my least favorite part of the story. They were pretty static, and much too forgiving and kind for my taste. However, I loved the bond and friendship they shared.

I wish there had been more internal/external conflict. It also kind of frustrated me that the characters were able to pick things up and figure things out extremely easily.

With all of this being said, I am a huge fan of fantasy novels, and I constantly wanted to know what was going to happen next. The battles excited me, and I enjoyed reading about the villains. The author plans on making this a series, and I look forward to reading more about the character’s adventures.

A Frosty Day

As my eyelids flutter open, I roll over in my bed to check the time. It reads 9:31 A.M. I internally groan as I let my head drop back onto my pillow. It is the first day of the new semester with new classes, and I was going to miss it. Did my father not wake me up because I had been unwell earlier this week? Did he not want me to go to school even though I was feeling better? I suddenly remember that the forecast had called for snow late last night. I slide out of bed and peak outside. My face suddenly brightens as I see the small flurries falling from the sky. I unlock my phone, double checking that school is canceled. Sure enough, schools are not open. Rather than crawl back into my warm bed, I decide to eat breakfast and begin my day.

Snow is a gift to the people who live in the south, especially since it usually means no school. I am not particularly fond of cold weather, but I make an exception for snow. It usually snows once a year, maybe twice if we are lucky. It is always exciting to see the beauty of nature after a fresh snowfall, and it is something that I will always look forward to.