For influencer opportunities and to be considered as the next cause, please email Chelsea at email@example.com
If you can’t buy anything at this time, please still share this with all your friends.
For influencer opportunities and to be considered as the next cause, please email Chelsea at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you can’t buy anything at this time, please still share this with all your friends.
Today, I sit down and ask a few quick questions of poet and author Mercy Jane Ballesteros, she is the author of recently reviewed “Love In Between” which you can check out more about here.
How did you realize your love of writing?
Mercy: I started writing at the age of seven and from then on it has been my passion as well as a part of my life.
I noticed that you are only 21 years young. As someone who published her first two novels myself while still in high school, what motivates you to be so young and ambitious? Did you notice that people criticized you for being young and published?
What inspires the writings in Love In Between?
Mercy: Most of the short stories are about my experiences since I got sick at thirteen and through writing I can pour out my emotions best. I am a homeschooled student since 2010 and I seldom go out so whenever I meet someone I will write poems about them or may it be songs as long as I am inspired it [and] it comes naturally.
I noticed even your short stories read like poetry because they are so eloquent in word choice and syntax. What do you love writing more: poetry or prose?
Mercy: Poetry. I love writing it better than prose.
What inspired “The Last Days of My Life” piece within Love In Between?
I fell into depression and got sick at thirteen. I wrote that as if I was going to die due to the agony I felt but “The Last Days of My Life” also narrates how I accepted my illness and I know that I am loved, and I am satisfied of what was given to me.
You are currently studying Marketing in college. What are your goals with your degree once you complete it?
Mercy: I am on my 4th year and will graduate on 2019. I am a stock market and foreign exchange trader, so I will continue to trade and seek investors for my future company. I will also focus on my writing career and continue improving my writing style.
Would you say being from the Philippines finds its way into the heart of your work?
Mercy: Yes. My country is my pride.
If you could chat with one person living or dead, who would it be and why?
Mercy: My Dear Lord Jesus Christ. He gave me life and loved me unconditionally. He is my guide, my light. He never left my side. I love My Lord.
Do you have any other books out or projects forthcoming? How can readers connect with you best?
I am currently writing another novel and an autobiography. Through the books I’ve written, I wanted to inspire the readers by stories that would captivate their hearts. With every word perceived, the reader and I, somehow, we have and through those pages, met.
Any advice for a young amateur or someone who has an idea but isn’t sure it will survive the cutthroat market?
Every successful person will advise every dreamer to never give up, never give in and never let go. I may not be successful yet, but If I were to ready someone I would utter the same words as I believe that success begins with a fellow’s will.
I am putting together a testimonial video and would love to feature YOU if you’ve been positively affected by this community.
Whether we’ve worked together directly because you are an author or musician, or you are just an avid reader of my posts here, and supporter of this community, please send me:
Email either option to email@example.com and you could see yourself in my video or your kind words.
Deadline for this testimonial is March 16, 2018.
Prior to crying a bucket of tears watching the post-game Superbowl themed episode of #ThisIsUs finally sharing the story of how Jack died, there were many ads during the game that pulled at our heart strings, spoke a profound truth, or just plain tickled our funny bone so without further ado, here is how they stacked up in my opinion.
My favorite ad featured an Olympic athlete and a classic rock anthem and it was beyond epic. It got me stoked for the Winter Olympics coming this week to NBC.
I am referring to this ad right here:
My second favorite ad of the entire line-up was an ad where the speaker was given credit right in the beginning, the ad showcased the spirit of American people being best known for greatness, and true greatness is found in humbling oneself to the mindset of serving.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ‘s actual audio was used in the ad where he was directly quoting the book of Matthew and the words of Jesus. I’m referring to Dodge Truck’s Built To Serve ad.
The next commercial that had me laughing and intrigued was for my favorite beer brand. It showed people during the Medieval Times immersed in a battle and the Bud Knight appears and invites them to a party by saying, “Hey, if you survive, you should come by.”
The following ad was so outside of the box it really made me think and laugh all at the same time. It featured David Harbour from Stranger Things and made the viewer re-think all the other ads showed during the game.
Sometimes we forget about the people who answer the call. The nameless faces that are the real heroes. Yes, I’m referring to the first responders of all tragedies and difficulties we as humans face, not to mention the recent terror attacks and mass shootings we’ve faced within our country.
The last but certainly not least ad that had me hooked from the start to finish was the partnership ad of Doritos vs. Mountain Dew playing up their new products with appearances by Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman while having them lip sync to big names in hip-hop music is Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliot.
Of course, we can’t talk about the Superbowl without discussing the half-time show starring Justin Timberlake. Although, I thought it was a great show, it was way too short of a half-time show and I blame NBC for that because they wanted to fit in the post-game episode of This Is Us.
#PepsiHalftime Justin’s set was legendary. He brought sexy back, turned the field into a disco ball, and saluted Prince. There is no one anywhere that can stop this feeling.
— Chelsea DeVries🦋 (@ChelseaDeVries) February 5, 2018
Today, we are two years old. Wow, how fast time flies!
Some people are unaware of the origins of this site and how it came to be so I figured it was appropriate to share the birth story of The Smart Cookie.
Not being able to find a job once out of college was part of it.
Not being able to find a job that was my dream job and also accepted all of my idiosyncrasies was also part of it.
The Smart Cookie Philes was born on MLK day 2016 because like the GREAT changemaker, I too had a dream, and it wasn’t one dimensional or going to be abc-123 easy to achieve.
So I decided that the right opportunity doesn’t wait for no man, so I created the opportunity for me and many others.
To the untrained eye, this looks like a simple book blog and that was the original intention behind it.
Yet, I am a vivacious reader who also loves everything that music does for it’s listener. How it soothes the soul, makes you feel less alone, and connects people.
I realized then that books and music both connect people in similar ways even though they are entirely different mediums, they both start from the same origin: out of the heart and mind of a creative soul who wants to affect change some how some way in a wave, in a ripple, in a surge of hope.
Yet, I also wanted this to be a site where all people not just writers and musicians could feel welcome because society really provides a heavy load with it’s labels and pressures if you don’t exactly mirror every other person that has gone before you.
So this is a community for the rejects, for the weirdos, for the over-caffeinated writer who grew up too shy to do anything but vivaciously read and learn all the lyrics to their favorite songs and yet, had trouble finding solace and acceptance among those in their peer group.
This is a community for those who decide to dare to be different and are unafraid and unashamed to walk a path not yet walked so that by chance, they can lead the way for others who come after who feel the same way.
This is a community for those who become a part of it to ESPRESSO THEMSELVES however that looks no matter what because we only get one life and we should live it in the most genuine and authentic way we know.
Here at The Smart Cookie Philes we are all smart, strong, and enough. After all, when it comes to cookies, flavors and variety always makes for a more delicious experience overall.
THANK YOU for your continued support of my dream and the beautiful works of others.
Here’s to more years being exactly who you were meant to be and expressing yourself authentically.
So much love,
Creator of The Smart Cookie Philes
Never miss a crumb of the action by subscribing to my email newsletter That’s The Way The Cookie Crumbles.
There were too many earworms in 2017 that I decided to narrow down my musical fangirling to an album only list of the Top Ten. The great thing about music is that it’s subjective so your favorite may not be here. If I missed one, comment below. Maybe I’ll make a playlist for 2018.
10. Ryan Follese by Ryan Follese
The lead singer of Hot Chelle Rae goes solo and heads back to his country roots with his first pop country solo album. Croon along to One Thing Right or jam out to Roots, either way you’ll fall in love with Ryan’s singer-songwriting talent and musicality.
To read the full review, feel free to float your boat.
9. Alessia Cara’s Know It All
This Canadian pop rocker will have you realizing your beautiful and not alone at that party you didn’t want to go to but are now stuck at.
8. Tomorrow We Live by KB
Tampa native and Reach Records rapper KB just released a new album October 20 but to here the one that had my haters looking at me sideways and believing we will win, check out the rapper’s second album.
I won’t play anymore games, I’mma just do it.
7. Identity by Colton Dixon
How do you identify? Well with one listen of Colton Dixon’s third studio album I was renewed in my faith as a believer in Jesus Christ and realized why each of us is marked with his fingerprint because he designed us with a unique call and purpose. To find out more about the brand new life and how love came down, check out Colton’s newest album.
6. All is Vanity by Christina Grimmie
Her final musical project is her debut album. Post-humanous and with her signature supernatural vocal range, Grimmie shares song that showcase her r&b musicality and lyrics that showcase her huge heart and that she was okay with having standards.
For full review and to read my memorial post, join Team Grimmie
5. Lifer by Mercy Me
Christian rock supergroup is back with a project even i couldn’t imagine. Every song on it is repeat-worthy and will have you happy dancing even if your answer doesn’t come right away.
4. ’91 by Jamie Grace
Jamie Grace is back with her first independent release but third studio album that represents the Christian music from the nineties she grew up on.
To join Team ’91, feel free to get your dance on.
3. All Things Work Together by Lecrae
With his first major label release, Lecrae will inspire and sow hope as he will make all who listen to this album see that he’s no stranger to hip hop music but instead aims to reach higher.
2. Tell Me You Love Me by Demi Lovato
Six albums later and Demi Lovato is no longer apologizing for who she is. Instead, you’ll catch the singer-songwriter in raw and real vulnerability that will make you fall in love with her artistry.
Some of you may not know this but Rachel Platten was the first major artist to support The Smart Cookie Philes directly and her sophomore album proves she’s not done making waves or putting up a fight, she’s just not going to apologize because she’s not perfect for you.
Happy Holidays and I hope 2018 is the year you start #ESPRESSOYOURSELF
New this year, I read 58 books according to Goodreads so I wanted to share some of my absolute faves in a gift guide fit for the smart cookie in your life.
Know someone who loves to read? Wrap one of these or all of these and place it under the Christmas tree to look smart this Christmas.
Without further ado, I will work my way up from 10,
They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…
Calida Jokobi doesn’t see it that way. Surviving an abusive relationship with a sadistic, manipulative man changed her. She has spent the last two years carefully constructing her new persona with two goals in mind: to keep the remaining pieces of her heart safe and her deepest secrets buried. One man puts it all at risk.
Malcolm has been a part of Calida’s life for as long as she can remember. A friend. Her first teenage crush. Now he’s asking for something she swore she’d never give again: her heart.
Calida must decide if she should risk the fragile façade she’s created and give Malcolm the chance he’s asking for.
They say love can heal all wounds…
Malcolm Frankel wants to prove to Calida it’s true. She survived a hell most people couldn’t fathom. He’s been by her side fulfilling whatever role she needs him to play. All except the one he wants most. It took nearly losing her to make Malcolm realize he couldn’t keep denying his feelings.
He knows no one goes through an ordeal like that and comes out unscathed, but the closer they get, the more he learns just how deep Calida’s wounds go.
She’s the only woman he’s ever loved, and Malcolm is ready to put his own heart at risk for a chance at mending hers.
To read my review and for purchase links, visit here.
9. B.S. Incorporated by Jennifer Rock and Michael Voss
If you just finished re-binging The Office on Netflix and need something to fill the gaping whole that remains because they decided not to bring it back for a re-boot, read this equally funny novel about a company that could rival Dunder Mifflin for sure.
For my review and for some share-worthy quotes, please visit my Meryl Streep room.
8. Magician’s Workshop I & II by Christopher Hansen and J. R. Fehr
Chronicles of Narnia meets Harry Potter in this allegorical novel about children that live in a society where their color decides whether they will train with the town’s magician’s in the exclusive workshop.
For my full review of both novels and some pinterest-savvy quotes, visit my wardrobe.
7. The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti
This book was one I randomly decided to read on a whim but was glad I made such a rash decision because as an acquaintance solves the mystery of what happened to recently disappeared Lizzie Lovett, town popular girl, you will learn some life lessons that will share more truth than lies.
For my full video review, please visit the mysterious campground.
6. The Door Keeper by Steen Jones
Fantasy isn’t really my genre but that’s why I was as surprised as you are that I completed reading this book in one day!
For full review and the gist of the magic that awaits behind that door over there, here’s the key.
5. Chasing Eveline by Leslie Hauser
A young adult novel equivalent of an earworm it shares the story of how music moves us and keeps us moving.
For full review, feel free to press play.
4. Proof by Ted D. Berner
A science fiction novel based on Genesis 6:4 that exposes all those conspiracy theories you always wanted to know were true or not.
To find out all the secrets, enter at your own risk.
3. Family First by D.D. Bridges
An urban fiction novel following an elite African-American family that takes in a juvenile delinquent who shows the family what it means to be truly misjudged.
For my full video review, court is adjorned.
4. Fairytale by Danielle Steel
I wasn’t a fan of Danielle Steel until I read this book. Now I want to read all her books. She’s the queen of a great plot progression and romantic story line.
To journey to the wine country of Southern California, click here.
Becoming a dad is easy but being a father is harder. See what kind of effect you leave on your children by reading John Finch’s memoir style book.
For full review and to purchase the novel, find encouragement here.
Congrats to all those in my Top Ten list. If you want to see your book in this list in 2018, be sure to contact the Smart Cookie asap at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next year, have a happy holidays and may 2018 be the year you choose to #ESPRESSOYOURSELF
It’s easy to see that my dogs mean everything to me. I have two dogs: Hazel is a rescue that is an Italian Greyhound/Beagle Mix that will five years old on June 26, and Katrina, a purebred Dachshund, that was also a rescue because her caretaker went into assisted living and could no longer care for her. She just turned nine on March 15. We mostly call her Nugget because of her small size.
This video will begin our journey down memory lane with three different ways my dogs make me smile:
This is one of my favorite pictures of Katrina. It was taken during a funny photo shoot we did with the dogs of them wearing Mickey ears. It shows Katrina’s faith in a higher power and her sassy attitude. This picture to me screams, Are you there, God? It’s me, Katrina.
Above, you can see some of my favorites from the funny photo shoot.
I snapped this of my dogs lined up looking out the window. The second Katrina posed for the camera. She’s the least camera shy of the two of them.
I caught this photo after Katrina got a bath, and her smile just totally went with the whole Friday meme thing. And it made my day!
Nutrish by Rachel Ray was having a contest and Hazel not only snapped this picture but she smiled. All I said to her was “Hazel, you want to be famous?”
This was taken while Katrina was watching the Price is Right. She loves that show and hopes to one day see me on there shouting her out and winning big!
I snapped this of Hazel because I loved that she was just sitting like this on the couch and smiling. Even after all she’s been through, she finds a reason to smile every day and it motivates me that I can too.
Here’s Katrina on her recent birthday. I got her a sling so I can carry her around in it because she loves to cuddle and there is nothing like a Nugg Hug.
Katrina loves to be in my Youtube videos to show the world that she’s my #1 fan and always right by side.
Lastly, this is my favorite memory of Katrina and Hazel wearing some Bieber related shirts in support of Justin on his birthday. The picture on the left is cute because you can see Katrina posing with her tale wagging. She thought I was taking a video. And then they both posed to show the back of the shirts.
Preserve your favorite memories of your pets with a digital picture frame from Aura with their new pet collections.
Joining me to chat about the publishing process, her debut novel (Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles is out today from Pen Name Publishing.), and other re-tellings she has in the works, J.M. Sullivan is my second author I’ve gotten to interview:
The Smart Cookie asks: How do you bring your characters to life?
I know a lot of authors that have these incredibly sophisticated methods of character planning and development, but I am not one of them! One trick I do have that I would recommend to any author (which is totally fun too) is completing a personality test (or two) as each character. Answering the questions the way the character would can give some incredible insight to details that you might not otherwise consider. I also find it helps me get into their mindset a lot easier. From there, when I’m writing, I just defer to the character! I let them do the talking, and I just put down the words. 😉
The Smart Cookie asks: Very cool. I’ll take that into consideration as another way to develop my own novel. Did you always want to be a writer?
I’ve always known I loved writing and thought that it would be a dream job, but I never thought it would actually happened. For me, being an author seemed the equivalent of wanting to be an international pop-star; a super cool thought, but not likely. Sometimes it still seems so surreal that my book is coming out and people are excited to read it. It’s a dream come true!
The Smart Cookie asks: Your book is a re-telling of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Why did you choose Alice or did Alice choose you?
Alice definitely chose me. I got the idea for the Wanderland Chronicles kind of out of the blue. My husband and I had been on a zombie movie kick and somehow Alice in Wonderland popped up in the chaos of my brainspace (it’s scary in there!) and I thought of the Red Queen’s iconic line: ‘Off with their heads!’ and I realized that it fit perfectly with zombie lore and that it had fantastic potential. I started writing that night.
The Smart Cookie asks: Haha I definitely saw the zombie influence while reading it. You are also working on a re-telling of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. I’m super excited about this by the way because Peter Pan is my favorite story. Anything you can tease us with about the retelling?
Sure! THE NEVERLAND TRANSMISSIONS (working title) is a SciFi retell of Peter set in outer space, told in a dual POV with Peter & Wendy. It’s with my betas right now, and I have to say, I’m pretty excited with the feedback I’m getting. But no good teaser would be complete without some lines, so I’ll just leave this here…
Wendy cleared her throat, schooling her voice into the formal tone she reserved for her superiors.
“Is there more to the transmission that I need to be aware of, Admiral?”
Toussant nodded. Though her lips pressed together, she seemed pleased with Wendy’s response. Another click of a button and the transmission continued.
“So far, the strangest phenomena of the planet is how it has affected our aging process. The days run longer here; as do the nights. I don’t have an exact calculation, but I would estimate we have been here for ten earth years, yet I look the same as I did the day we left. So does the twelve year old cabin boy. It’s as if not a single day has gone by. It is this phenomena that has inspired the name our crew has assigned the planet. We call it NEVERLAND.”
The Smart Cookie : I’m so excited. Peter Pan is my favorite fairytale.
Also, speaking of Peter Pan, did you ever watch the 2003 version from Universal Pictures starring Jeremy Sumpter?
J.M Sullivan: I have! My love for fairy tales and books definitely doesn’t just stay in the realm of books. And my family is all about movies, so we watch a lot of them! I have to say my favorite Peter Pan movie of all time is (and probably will always be) Hook with Robin Williams, but the 2003 Peter Pan was pretty great!
The Smart Cookie: I’ve never seen the Robin Williams version so I will have to check that out.
. Alice and Dinah’s relationship is very endearing throughout the book. Do you have brothers or sisters and is that what you used to give authenticity to that part of the story?
J.M. Sullivan: I do! I have two younger brothers who I absolutely adore. Growing up, we were super close and we always spent a lot of time together. My mom used to always say my brother Zach and I were twins born three years apart. Though we’ve grown up and we’re all in different places now, I still think of them every day and I just want them both to know how proud I am of them. I would fight a pack of ravenous momerath for them any day, just like Alice does for Dinah.
The Smart Cookie: At what point in your writing career did you think publishing a book was realistic, as opposed to just a dream?
I didn’t think that my work could be published until after I finished writing and sent it to my friend (and writing buddy) to read. Honestly, I was just so pleased that I had finished writing a manuscript that I couldn’t wait to see what she thought. I figured she’d send it back and say it was alright, but when we met for coffee she looked at me with wide eyes and said ‘This is really good. You know, you could get this published.’ Although I thought she was still just being a good writing partner, it was the first time I ever really considered pursuing publication.
The Smart Cookie: After a manuscript is complete, what is the critical first step in the publishing process?
Research! There are SO many different publishing options nowadays, that there are literally thousands of paths to getting published. And, what’s right for you may not be right for someone else. Take the time to sit down and study your options before you decide what you really want. Once you’ve figured that out, go for it! 😀
The Smart Cookie: How much education about publishing does a debut novelist need to get started? What are the basics?
Well, I went into it knowing literally NOTHING. And while my path to publishing was definitely not the smoothest route, I am absolutely proof that even the biggest ‘noob’ can find a good fit if they are willing to put in the work. Again, the options are practically endless these days, but if you’ve got a computer and Google, you can accomplish some great things!
As a side note, if you’re looking into publication and you haven’t already, I would HIGHLY recommend you get a Twitter account! It was an absolutely INTEGRAL part to finding my publisher and one of the BEST.THINGS. I have ever done for my writing career.
Did you have any criteria in mind for agents, editors and publishing houses?
When I decided to find someone to represent Alice, I knew I wanted someone who believed in her as much as I did (and maybe even more on my low-self confidence days). To me, it wasn’t enough to find someone who would just slap a story on some paper and call it good, I wanted to find a team who would work with me to bring Alice to life and who really had a vision to make her great.
The Smart Cookie: This is your debut novel. How did your first publishing experience stack up to your vision of what it would be like?
My publishing experience has surpassed anything I could have ever dreamed. I ended up choosing a small press called Pen Name Publishing and the team there is just amazing. My editor in chief works so hard for everyone and I completely trust that she has my best interests at heart. It isn’t one of the ‘Big 5,’ but for where I am right now, it’s the perfect fit for me.
The Smart Cookie: What has been your greatest publishing lesson? Anything you would do over or skip?
My ‘do-over’ would include two different aspects. First, I would put more confidence in my own work. I think part of my convoluted road happened because I wasn’t sure enough in my work to stand on it’s own and I didn’t know ANYTHING about publishing so I started out backwards. If I had to do it all over, I would go in with more faith in myself, and then spend more time researching and setting my goals BEFORE jumping in.
What were your greatest resources for learning about publishing when you first set out to publish Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles?
This is going to sound crazy, but my number one go to response for this question or any type of writing resource question is Twitter. I can already see some people giving me the side eye as they read this, so let me explain. The writing community on Twitter is simply phenomenal. There are so many other writers out there willing to encourage and help you that it absolutely blew me away. Add in the incredible pitching parties and writing games and events, Twitter is literally a haven for writers. So go, go, go! Login and start networking (and find me @_JM_Sullivan)! You won’t regret it!
Which writers have influenced you?
I think all of my favorite authors have influenced me in some way. Their worlds and words shaped who I am and helped teach me what I know and love about literature. So while it would be really hard for me to pinpoint just one author and one particular way it affected me, I can confidently say all the books I’ve read and the authors who wrote them have impacted me in some way.
Lastly, you host #AuthorConfession on Twitter. Share something with your readers in relation to Alice.
Hmm. Well, I love Easter Eggs in movies so with Alice, I threw in a few of my own! There are several references to some of my favorite tv shows, movies, and books hidden in the pages as well as a secret message. If you look really carefully you can even find a hint towards my next book project! It was so fun working them all in, that it’s a tradition I plan to keep up with all of my future books.
Keep up with all J.M. Sullivan’s works new and forthcoming by bookmarking/following her blog
For a review of Alice please go here.
Before I get to the ways my dogs benefit my health, I would like to introduce and wish my dogs Happy National Pet day.
My dogs are both rescue dogs. Hazel is a four year old beagle/Italian Greyhound mix who came to us during the summer of 2012 after roaming around my neighborhood for weeks during a tropical storm. Katrina came to us in 2013 after her previous owner had to go into assisted living and could no longer take care of her.
As far as I can tell you, my dogs do nothing but make me feel good and especially within my mind. They make me laugh which helps reduce any feelings of anxiety, pain, and depression. Hazel does this by wearing pillows as hats and twerking. Katrina does this by wearing a goofy grin especially if I’m holding a cup of coffee and doing a wiggle I like to call the “tootsie roll.”
They make me feel less isolated and alone especially while home alone working on novels or reading someone else’s for an upcoming review. Anytime I want to watch tv or read, they love to join me just to be a part of what I’m doing. Both dogs love to watch Jane The Virgin with me, and Katrina likes The Price is Right.
They boost my self-esteem. I know they love me just by the way they look at me. And because of their love for me, it gives me confidence to try new things like finally get behind the wheel and drive, lose that weight, or even say hi to a stranger. (Writers tend to be introverts, fyi).
I am so grateful for them as both my dogs and my friends because as long as they are by my side, I know that I cannot fail. And if I do, they will lick my face and tell me to try again. And because I want to be good to them, I do. Yet, I’ve never once regretted letting them into my heart and my home once they wiggled their way in.