When I finished reading "Dream Girl", I didn't hesitate to purchase "Dream Frequency"...although I've been procrastinating on my TBR list.
Thankfully, this "sequel" did not disappoint. I also like to point out that there aren't many series that are set up as a duology, but the way to plot unfolds feels appropriate. In the first book, we learn about two key characters, Christine and Gabriel. It focused on learning about the dreamworld and how their two lives intertwine. It had a satisfactory ending, but left a trail for "Dream Frequency", which is more about the U.S. agency behind manipulating these "frequencies".
Christine must choose: lead her normal life as she transitions to college OR follow Leo as a recruit ... in hopes of re-uniting with Gabriel (especially after a cryptic message of a mother asking Christine to save her son). The focus of this plot really twists into one of its own. We learn about this agency, what it's supposed to be...and what it shouldn't.
Why is there a secret agency that utilize's people's dreams? What for? This novel peels back another shocking layer that almost takes on a sci-fi feel. (almost)
Throughout the novel, Christine tries to reach Gabriel as she discovers secrets, like what happened to Gabriel's mother. and his father's legacy. Meanwhile, Gabriel completes training with a smart-as-a-whip leader, Zemma. He feels eyes on him at the agency, treated and judged as the son of one of the most powerful agents in history. However, when "special ops" tries to claim Gabriel, things turn sour, fast.
Characters: Aside from a few additional key players, most characters have been well established from book one. Gabriel experienced the most growth in my opinion: he came off as a little emo/intense in book one, but grows into a strong, capable young man by the end of "Dream Frequency". Christine's relationship with both Gabriel and Leo develop simultaneously, which triggers one of my favorite themes: love. BUT not a romantic love alone. (See next paragraph)
This novel establishes that love can take any form for any person- removing your cliche romance tropes. I've really appreciated this aspect of Lomas' writing. The other aspect I appreciate about this novel is the twist that lead to unexpected ends. This novel did not have a predictable ending. (In my opinion.)
Other things to note, "Dream Frequency" is significantly lengthier than it's previous counterpart. This is not a criticism, although this is worth noting. This duology is a marathon, not a mental-chewing gum sprint. You must be committed to these characters and their dreams (literally and figuratively), and if you are, you'll be well awarded. The set up is similar to "Dream Girl": Chapters interchanging between Christine and Gabriel, and are short.
To conclude, I am impressed by the author. What I've read so far is an indicator of genuine talent and is someone I will be following for future publications.
I recommend this book, well, if you read "Dream Girl" (obviously), but I recommend the duology in general for its clever plot twists and promise of deep character development. While the concepts of dream manipulation is not new, Lomas' descriptions are unique in their own right and worth a read.
Christine would never have considered herself new recruit material for a secret U.S. agency. Until recently, she's just been an ordinary girl graduating from high school and wondering if a friendship with Gabriel, a mysterious coworker, would grow into something romantic. When Christine's fascination with Gabriel leads to her discovery of dreamworlds, she learns that she's anything but ordinary. In this thrilling conclusion to Dream Girl, Christine and Gabriel must choose their allegiances and face corruption, conspiracy, and the complexities of love in order to save themselves and everyone who matters to them - or die trying.
Title: "The Truthseeker"
Author: Eric Stockwell
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars
Chilling, mystifying- with a blend of the macabre and snarky humor. Yes, all of that can be in one novel.
"Although you're safe here, your time is limited; you'll either meet your destiny, or greet your final death."
Fair warning, this book is not for the boring, traditional novel seeking person who nit-picks anything beyond the accepted "norm" of writing.
It's written in second person. The formatting contains bolded, italicized, and capitalized font with intention. Along with the dark themes, there is dark humor. So, if you're a stickler for the BORING, get out of here.
Oh, still reading? Great because this is an extremely rare gem of a find!
This story is about "you" in an alternate plane, and it opens with a lot of unknowns: about what happened to yourself, where you are, and who you are now. The beginning starts with a bang when a 'goddess' sees something within you...and tries to kill you.
A mysterious creature saves you, a Truthseeker, and beseeches you to seek out his sister, Noir, Empress of Nightmares. To do so, you are faced with various "glass": portals or interceptor glass. Your character travels to many places through mirror portals, meeting a few key allies including a talking bucket named Timur (who isn't always a bucket during the entire novel, just to be clear) and a traveling minstrel, Melody.
[Editorial: Timur is my favorite character, hands down.]
The vast lands you visit are incredibly set up. Some are haunting: with a beach and people staring aimlessly at the horizon. Another place is Hamsterdam, perhaps my favorite place. The quirky settings remind of of "Alice Through the Looking Glass" in some ways, but take it with a grain of salt, as the author has his own powerful way of establishing incredible worlds and creatures.
Your character goes through trials and tribulations, revelations, and hardship. All done in short, well-named chapters. There is a final battle in the end with an incredible twist that will have you question your own reality.
I personally love the characters, the witty banter, and places to discover. There were a few action scenes not to be underestimated, but I feel the author has a way of stringing words together that makes every word, sentence, and chapter engaging.
I recommend this book...to anyone really. Anyone who is open to dark fantasy, but to also the adventurer.
"You've overcome insurmountable odds just to reach me here. This trial is no different. Again, you must overcome."
Since the new year, I've journeyed to the perfect marketing elixir. I've already started this blog, participated in various social media platforms, submitted works in contests, and attended live events. However, book sales remain stagnant, so I decided to take a risk and try a handful of book promotion services, most of which I found on Twitter.
For most authors on Twitter, I'm sure you've seen a plethora of services boasting their social media prowess, promising exposure of your novel. As a new author, I had questions: How effective is it? What is the quality? Will this actually result in sales?
After participating in a handful of promotion sites/services, some free and some paid, I wanted to share my experiences because I firmly believe writers should support one another. Most of us don't know what we're walking into when a marketing opportunity arises.
Below is a chart of book promotion sites/services I utilized. All but the last one were exclusively online promotion. Pay attention to the scoring below.  means little or none  somewhat/okay  and  service was executed OR excellent service.
Disclaimer: I address the specific of service I selected, as some of these sites offer more than one service. Also, I'm sharing factual information regarding my experience only. I scored them on responsiveness (if I needed to reach out), execution (did they do what I paid/opted in for), and quality. I will *not* include subjective comments as each person may have a different experience with the vendors. My scorecard is *not* intended to promote or discourage any service, but rather provide facts of what happened.
I chose these services to diversify my marketing reach. Did they increase my sales? I have yet to see those results; however, if not, I didn't feel they were a waste. Sometimes you have to shout your name, loudly, multiple times for people to remember you. However, there are some lessons.
 Quality: Look at the promotion site and the books they're promoting. I checked out dozens and was shocked. There was one that displayed a book with suggestive misogynistic themes. When I looked at the author more closely, there were more publications explaining what women needed to be "taught". I personally didn't want my title associated with sites that allow such publications. Another promo site displayed what seemed like anything they were given, and didn't vet out quality.
 Look for similarities among sites. Pay close attention to the submission forms. If they look exactly the same, consider the fact they *may* be owned by the same people. You want to spend your time (and maybe money) on as much diverse options as possible. Which leads to my next one...
 Diversify, diversify, diversify! Try an ad. Try shout outs on social media. Try interviews. Just don't put all your eggs in one basket.
 Know that it may not increase sales.
...But it could. It's all in the risk. Weigh the risks and benefits. Look at the free versus paid services.
Take these scores in stride. Remember, the parameters were chosen to be as objective as possible. The end result could vary from person to person.
Choose wisely. Feel free to pick my brain by sending me a message.
“What is it, Master Hisao?” Aoi’s gaze followed the steam toward the indoor courtyard. Rays of sunlight washed over smooth gray stone that dotted the combed sand. Miniature trees with twisted branches swayed in the gentle breeze that funneled through the open roof. Aoi liked those trees. Like him, they were small and unassuming, but they were treasured. He hoped someday he would be just as treasured.
Master Hisao blew on his tea, then took a long, slow sip. “Aoi Uchida. The time has come for you to return home to your family.”
The boy’s stomach dropped as his heart thundered in his chest. Panic seized him. “But why? I’ve only been here for a month. My family sent me here to be a scholar—”
“And you will not be a scholar!” The master slammed his cup onto the table.
Aoi’s chest collapsed as he slumped his shoulders. Tears welled in his eyes.
“Do not act so distraught. You have not learned a thing during this month. Every time I send you off to read, you paint. You draw. You sketch. Cats. And only cats!”
**Read more of The Charcoal Cat and other stories in "Of Legend and Lore: A Collection of FairyTale Retellings"**
"She gasps as a glow surrounds each child. Glancing out the window, she notices that there's a full moon..."