Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Safe for Your Pretty Face! #Beauty #Review of 7 @beautycounterhq products

Look at this gorgeous face!
So recently I received some free samples from my friend Mick to try out a few of the Beauty Counter products I'd been eyeing lately. I mean, who wouldn't want to buy beauty products from this woman!

Apart from her good looks, Mick has a really big heart, which has led her to be a sort of "ambassador"'/consultant for this company called Beauty Counter, which is all about making products that are safe to use. So, here are my thoughts of the 7 products I've tried. "BC" is the company's product description.

Routine Clean Cream

BC: This creamy daily cleanser washes away makeup and other impurities while soothing and conditioning skin naturally. The secret? Organic coconut oil simultaneously removes buildup while moisturizing and softening skin. Witch hazel adds a toning effect while aloe hydrates—so skin feels fresh and smooth, never overly dry. Infused with botanical extracts like geranium, lavender and antioxidant-rich green tea to help promote healthy-looking skin. A light citrus scent (from a blend of essential oils) is sure to refresh any routine. Full product description here.

Kory: A lightweight and smooth cleaner, I enjoyed the way it felt going on. It washes off completely with no residue and my skin didn’t feel too dry after. The scent was mild and pleasant. I can definitely see this as a good everyday cleaner.

Gentle Exfoliating Cream

Our Gentle Exfoliator Polishing Cream sweeps away dead cells and impurities to uncover fresh, glowing skin. Non-abrasive jojoba beads provide gentle exfoliation while organic coconut oil conditions and soothes skin. Hydrating aloe nourishes even the most sensitive skin types, while a mix of botanical extracts—like geranium, lavender and green tea—support skin's health. Meadowfoam seed oil delivers essential fatty acids and vitamin E (essentials for a radiant-looking complexion). Lightly scented with citrus essential oils. Full product description here.

Kory: This cleaner lives up to its name of “gentle”. It does not scrub at your face like many exfoliators and that is what led me into trouble. I’m used to serious exfoliators that take off the first layer of skin cells, and so I rubbed a bit too hard with this one, trying to mash the little jojoba beads into my skin. But that was user-error, and no fault of the product! If you’re looking for a lightweight cleaner to help scrub off that dull layer of dead skin, this is worth your consideration.

Countertime Cleansing Balm

BC: 100% OF WOMEN SHOWED A SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN SKIN HYDRATION AFTER 8 HOURS, WITH AN AVERAGE INCREASE OF 25%.* Nourishing Cleansing Balm melts into your skin, while removing makeup, moisturizing as it cleanses. It can double as an overnight face masque for extra hydration. This comes with one cleansing cloth. Raspberry Seed Oil and Cranberry Seed Oil hydrate and revitalize the skin, while Vitamin C brightens skin tone. Full product description here.

Kory: Balm is a good word to describe the texture of the product. It reminds me of the pomade I used to put in my hair when I cared about trying to make my curls more manageable. But this is much more pleasant/less sticky. It did leave my skin feel moisturized, which I liked. It also seems to be one of the more versatile of the Beauty Counter products. So if you don’t have a lot of money, you could consider getting this to double as your face wash/day/night cream. I’ll be buying this one myself.

Vibrant Eye Perfector

Countertime Vibrant Eye Perfector bathes the delicate eye area in hydration while minimizing the appearance of fine lines. Ascophyllum Nodosum and Asparagopsis Armata Marine Extracts target dark circles while Spilanthes Acmella Flower Extract promotes firmer-looking skin. Full product description here.

Kory: I had some mixed results with this one. If I used enough that my eyes felt hydrated and lovely, my eyes usually burned and turned red. If I used less, my eyes didn’t feel hydrated. Granted I think this is just me—as I have sensitive eyes that water over everything. But the product does seem to do what it says it will do, but it may simply be a matter of using the exact amount.

Lustro Face Oil 2- Jasmine

BC: A luxurious blend of seven radiance-boosting oils—including organic argan nut, organic grapeseed, organic marula, meadowfoam seed, rosehip, rose otto and sea buckthorn—deeply nourishes skin with antioxidants and vitamins. This concentrated, yet lightweight elixir is easily absorbed, sinking into skin for lasting moisture (and making it the perfect primer for makeup). Jasmine oil provides a sweet floral scent—plus it promotes the appearance of increased elasticity, and is excellent for dry or mature skin. Full product description here.

Kory: I love putting oil on my face. Feel things feel better than pulling some oil on my face. For a long time I was making my own oils using a combination of avocado, argan, rose hip, and peppermint. It was amazing. This product reminded me a lot of that. And the jasmine scent was pleasant. But if you if aren’t into jasmine or flowers, this isn’t the oil for you, as the smell is definitely noticeable.

Countertime Uplifting Day Cream

90% OF WOMEN REPORTED SKIN WAS SOFTER AND MORE SUPPLE AFTER 8 WEEKS OF USE.* Uplifting Day Cream promotes firmer-looking skin, reduces redness, and boosts skin’s defenses against environmental stress. Spilanthes Acmella Flower Extract reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, Ginger Root Extract combats redness and irritation, and Vitamin C brightens the skin for a firmer look. Full product description here.

Kory: I really liked this one. It felt really cool and refreshing going on and my skin stayed moisturized for a long time. As someone who is usually drawn to oils over creams, I was still pretty impressed by this product. And it smells nice too.

Countertime Night Cream


Restorative Night Cream promotes beautiful, healthy-looking skin by locking in moisture as you sleep. Skin looks and feels smoother, firmer, and more hydrated. Spilanthes Acmella Flower Extract reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while Marine Extracts and Safflower Oleosomes work together to provide immediate and time-released hydration. Full product description here.

Kory: Very similar to the day cream but a little thicker—as can be expected. Cool, refreshing and definitely left me feeling hydrated. For someone who is looking for that overnight soak and a pleasant, clean scent, this is for you! 

Monday, March 30, 2015

#Mondayblogs: #Toronto pictures, Love for Margaret Atwood, & #Books

I went to Toronto on Thursday. See?

aerial view from the CN tower restaurant, 360

no idea what this building is

Watching the MSU basketball game at a sports bar

Atwood titles at bookshop

Eliot's Bookshop. I'm in the red coat

CN tower by day

CN tower at dusk.

and while I was here, I craved Margaret Atwood, as usual. I searched for her books, so that I could keep up my record of "Visit Toronto; buy a Margaret Atwood book". Though this time I had it in my head to get a book of her poems. Alas, I didn't find a book of her poems at the stores I visited, but I did get a copy of Good Bones and Simple Murders, which I'm excited to read. To fill the gap in the poetry, I shall leave this gem here for you and I to share:

Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing

By Margaret Atwood
The world is full of women
who'd tell me I should be ashamed of myself
if they had the chance. Quit dancing.
Get some self-respect
and a day job.
Right. And minimum wage,
and varicose veins, just standing
in one place for eight hours
behind a glass counter
bundled up to the neck, instead of
naked as a meat sandwich.
Selling gloves, or something.
Instead of what I do sell.
You have to have talent
to peddle a thing so nebulous
and without material form.
Exploited, they'd say. Yes, any way
you cut it, but I've a choice
of how, and I'll take the money.

I do give value.
Like preachers, I sell vision,
like perfume ads, desire
or its facsimile. Like jokes
or war, it's all in the timing.
I sell men back their worse suspicions:
that everything's for sale,
and piecemeal. They gaze at me and see
a chain-saw murder just before it happens,
when thigh, ass, inkblot, crevice, tit, and nipple
are still connected.
Such hatred leaps in them,
my beery worshippers! That, or a bleary
hopeless love. Seeing the rows of heads
and upturned eyes, imploring
but ready to snap at my ankles,
I understand floods and earthquakes, and the urge
to step on ants. I keep the beat,
and dance for them because
they can't. The music smells like foxes,
crisp as heated metal
searing the nostrils
or humid as August, hazy and languorous
as a looted city the day after,
when all the rape's been done
already, and the killing,
and the survivors wander around
looking for garbage
to eat, and there's only a bleak exhaustion.
Speaking of which, it's the smiling
tires me out the most.
This, and the pretence
that I can't hear them.
And I can't, because I'm after all
a foreigner to them.
The speech here is all warty gutturals,
obvious as a slab of ham,
but I come from the province of the gods
where meanings are lilting and oblique.
I don't let on to everyone,
but lean close, and I'll whisper:
My mother was raped by a holy swan.
You believe that? You can take me out to dinner.
That's what we tell all the husbands.
There sure are a lot of dangerous birds around.

Not that anyone here
but you would understand.
The rest of them would like to watch me
and feel nothing. Reduce me to components
as in a clock factory or abattoir.
Crush out the mystery.
Wall me up alive
in my own body.
They'd like to see through me,
but nothing is more opaque
than absolute transparency.
Look--my feet don't hit the marble!
Like breath or a balloon, I'm rising,
I hover six inches in the air
in my blazing swan-egg of light.
You think I'm not a goddess?
Try me.
This is a torch song.
Touch me and you'll burn

Have a great week everyone! 

Friday, March 27, 2015

#FreebieFriday: Dying for a Living is Free #amreading #freebooks

As I promised about a year ago, when Book 3 comes out, I will make Book 1 free--and I have!  With 135 reviews (90 5-stars) I've received plenty of positive feedback, and I hope you love it too.

The Synopsis
On the morning before her 67th death, it is business as usual for Jesse Sullivan: meet with the mortician, counsel soon-to-be-dead clients, and have coffee while reading the latest regeneration theory. Jesse dies for a living, literally. As a Necronite, she is one of the population’s rare 2% who can serve as a death replacement agent, dying so others don’t have to. Although each death is different, the result is the same: a life is saved, and Jesse resurrects days later with sore muscles, new scars, and another hole in her memory. 

But when Jesse is murdered and becomes the sole suspect in a federal investigation, more than her freedom and sanity are at stake. She must catch the killer herself—or die trying.

The Praise

"Kory Shrum's writing is smart, imaginative, and insanely addictive! I have begun to think of her books as my Kory Krack. I beg of you to pick them up. You will NOT regret it!" -Darynda Jones, NY Times Bestselling Author of the Charley Davidson Series 
"Sexy, Snarky, and supernaturally fantastic! This one has it all!" - Angela Roquet, acclaimed author of the Lana Harvey, Reapers Inc. series

"When you thought you read everything there was to read about zombies and undead, here comes a series so original that will make you question common moral and the ethic of dying for a living. Twists and turns, and surprising endings, Jesse Sullivan stories mark a brand new era in the urban fantasy genre."   -Monica La Porta, author of The Ginecean Chronicles and The Immortals series

"This book is filled with a cast of interesting characters ... and a fat pug named Winston - all helping to solve the mystery around {Jesse Sullivan's} attack--and you have a fast-paced story, and a great start to the series!" -LG O'Conner, author of the The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles

 "Jesse makes a living by dying in other people's place because she's a Necronite and comes back to life. The whole Necronite condition was both interesting and creepy. The author did a great job of explaining it and making it real for the reader." -Urban Fantasy Investigations

Available Now On
Amazon Kindle
Barnes and Noble Nook
Apple iBooks

....and more!

Also, you audiobook fans, I believe once you "buy" it on Kindle, you can get the matchbook price of just $1.99 for the audiobook. And Hollie Jackson did an amazing job! Just saying! ;)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

#Bookbloggers: This One is For You

As a fellow blogger, I know just how much work blogging can be! But I feel like there is often not enough love and appreciation for that hard work. Authors often ask you to host them and help promote their work, but rarely GIVE you anything for doing it.

I hope to remedy that, if only a little. Here is what I want to do:

To celebrate the release of my third book, Dying for Her, I want to have a giveaway for just book bloggers. Any book blogger who hosts me is eligible to win the $50 Amazon Giftcard top prize as well as many secondary prizes (free signed paperbacks, audiobooks, swag and more). Your odds should be good, this pool will be much smaller than the normal giveaways! :)

If you want to play, here is the deal:

I'm currently recruiting bloggers for April 7-May 1. You can sign up for any day you choose. And on that day we can do whatever you like: games, interviews, character interviews, etc. (you know your blog best). I'll provide the content you ask for and you'll post it. We can even have a giveaway just for your readers (signed paperbacks, audiobooks, swag, whatever you think they'll love).

That's it!

In exchange, your name goes into the rafflecopter pot for the book-bloggers-only giftcard and other fun prizes. But furthermore, you're going to get a public thank you/shout out to my 30K followers on Twitter, FB and blog AND you can have free copies of books 1-3 in my series in any eformat you need (I have epub, mobi and PDF on hand).

How does that sound?

If you're interested, please email me at kory.m.shrum@gmail.com and we can schedule days/content.

If you'd like to know more about me and the series before committing, you can check out book 1 first (free on kindle, nook, iBooks and Kobo )

Or if you're interested, you can learn more about the newest release that we'll be promoting here.

All the love,


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

#NewRelease: Dying for Her: Jesse Sullivan Book 3 Available for Preorder Now #amreading #Amazon

 "Kory Shrum's writing is smart, imaginative, and insanely addictive! 
You will NOT regret reading it!" 
-Darynda Jones, 
NY Times Bestselling Author of the Charley Davidson Series

As he counts down the days until he dies, veteran detective James T. Brinkley struggles to keep his imminent death a secret, from one of the only people who can save him – Jesse Sullivan, a replacement agent with the rare ability to die—then resurrect. But every replacement is dangerous, leaving Jesse more vulnerable each time. And it’s his job to protect her. He will do whatever he can to fulfill this duty. He will not let her sacrifice herself, even if that means facing his death alone. Yet they are outmatched by the sadist who hunts them. Still, he searches his dark past for clues and a way to save his future. But Brinkley has exhausted his options and buried his closest friends. If he cannot be saved, his only wish is to prepare Jesse for the danger ahead. But how much of the truth can she handle? Weeks is all Agent Brinkley has left.

Get your copy on here.

Monday, March 23, 2015

#Mondayblogs: How to #GetPublished #amwriting #writingtips

Publication. Ah, just the sound of it is exciting. How many of us have wanted to say the words “I am published_______”? Most of the people reading this, I dare say. And while I’ve already talked extensively on how to get an agent and how to self-publish, I’ve not yet said anything about how to publish your poems or short fiction in smaller journals and magazines. Thanks to my student A. (identity protected!) for the inspiration for this post:

How to Publish Your Poems or Short Fiction
1)      Identify where you would like to be published.
There are many places where one can send their poems or short fiction. You may already have a few that you read and admire. Submit to them. For example, I am quite fond of Diagram and Harper’s. If however, you’ve no idea who to submit your work to, try out this list, or this list for possible places. You may also want to use a submission manager like Duotrope. For $5 a month, you tell them what you are looking for and they make you a fancy list.

Regardless of which route you decide to take, step 1 is basically “make a list” of possible places you’ll submit to.

2)     Get sample copies of the publication.
Many people skip this step of course. They just send whatever they have EVERYWHERE. That is OK too. I can’t think of any writer/poet who hasn’t done it. However, it will certainly improve your chances of publication if you have a sense of what a journal/magazine likes. Most places are happy to send you back issues at a reduced cost. So consider this route before you submit your own work.

Step 2 is basically research your list.

3)     Select your best work that you think will best match this publication.
Once you have an idea of where you want to send your work, decide WHAT you want to send. Again, as mentioned in #2, every journal has its style. If you are reading a copy and think “Oh hey this reminds me of my______ poem/story. Then send them that.

Think of it as matchmaking.

4)     Prepare your submission.
Now that you know what you want to send and where you want to send it to, prepare for take off.
a.       Write a cover letter. All submissions should be accompanied by a cover letter. As the name suggests, it is an introduction to your submission. Make sure it is addressed to a specific person. No Dear Poetry Editor:…. Do your research. After you’ve addressed your letter, state your genre, what your submitting and any writing/publication experience you may have. The internet LOVES to tell you how to do things, so I am sure you can find resources on how to write cover letters if you feel you need more of a step-by-step guide. Oh look: tips, tips, and more tips.
b.      Double-check the specifics. Be sure you read the guidelines. Every magazine/journal has them. On their websites there will likely be a Submit/Submissions page full of instructions on how to send in your work. Read this page carefully. They will tell you exactly what they want and how they want it. OBEY. Failing to do so usually amounts to automatic rejection.
c.       Go paperless if possible. So many journals and magazines offer online submissions these days. If they do, take advantage of it! Otherwise, envelopes and stamps (don’t forget the SASE!), paper and ink really adds up. So if you can get away with submitting electronically, I suggest you do so.
5)     Send it in!

OK! You’re ready to do this! You’ve prepared your materials, double-checked all the addresses and are ready to send it in! Do it! Please note that a lot of literary journals are run by universities/schools and have wait times 1-2 months long. Furthermore, many don’t read submissions during the summer. So make sure you’re sending the work out at the right time. Furthermore, don’t be discouraged by rejection. For every publication I received, I had dozens of rejections. Just keep writing and sending out your best stuff. 

You’ll get there. :)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy First Day of #Spring ! #poetry #equinox

Considered a sign of Spring, snowdrops are cute white flowers that let us know the long winter is behind us. And while I think the Michigan winter will drag on a bit longer, here is both a pretty picture of the flower as well as a poem to commemorate the first day of Spring. 

Snowdrops by Louise Gluck

Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know
what despair is; then
winter should have meaning for you.

I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn't expect
to waken again, to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light
of earliest spring--

afraid, yes, but among you again
crying yes risk joy

in the raw wind of the new world. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

#Mondayblogs: What Do You Really Believe? #empower

The human mind is very programmable. In fact, especially as children, we are so programmable that we sponge up all that we are taught. But what if we were taught incorrectly? What if the media, our parents, family, friends, or the world—led us astray?

It can be very difficult to override and then rewrite one’s programming. I’m in my 30s and I can tell you that I am still struggling with this. For example, overcompensation and reactivity abounds when trying to overwrite one’s programming.

As a child I was programmed that I was not smart—or worse, that I was too smart—it was done so by an individual who thought that by undermining my intelligence, it would be easier to manipulate and control me.

Now, as I rewrite my programming, I can rather vehemently declare or pronounce my intelligence to others. The insecurity often comes across as arrogance to others and as I see their reaction, I’m working to modify my own behavior—but what I’m trying to say is that even overcoming one’s programming has its challenges—on top of the reprogramming.

So should I give up? Say “well, this is just how I am!”—No. I think every change requires and adjustment period. Until then, forgive me while I seem like an arrogant, self-involved prick.  
But I think the important first step is to take a good stock of oneself. Make a clear list of what you were taught, versus what you actually believe.

So, that is where I've started. I've made a common list of ideas that were imparted upon me as important (ORIGINAL PROGRAMMING: It is important to be beautiful and wealthy and powerful

—and if you are none of these things you are worthless) and I've written what I actually believe of each idea—now that I've taken the time to consider my own beliefs and examine them separately from what I was taught.

What is:
What I Was Taught
What I Believe


Having a lot of money

Recognition for your talents


Doing as you please, and not going to jail for it

To not be ruled by my reactivity; the ability to spend my days doing what I love rather than what is expected of me


Money/wealth, connections, the ability to control and use others

A solid center, non-reactivity. Complete control of oneself


Your ability to manipulate others

Does not exist


The ability to physically or mentally “beat” someone else; having more power than them

The ability to remain good and kind and centered even when it is most difficult

The Meaning of Life

To win and
die with the most toys

To grow
To use my unique gifts


Being financially secure

To use my talent and make the world better


To have a sense of security (usually in one’s wealth or power)

To have complete faith in myself and that the universe conspires in my favor


To be the smartest
 one in the room

Being smarter than my problems; obstacles


Physical attractiveness;
Physical perfection

Creation; that which stirs my heart


Having everything
I’ve ever wanted

Appreciating what I have


Having an abundance
of money and financial security

Recognizing all the abundance in my life; Being grateful
for all that I have

What you are given if you are pretty or smart or wealthy
What you deserve
no matter what


Something that is earned not given

Something that is owed to everyone and everything; including oneself.



Priceless; Cannot be bought;

I won’t give lengthy explanations of each of my beliefs. I won’t, for example, explain why I believe power through money is a fallacy (since money can be taken from you) or why power through violence is also a fallacy (see Ghandi; see Rosa Parks).

In fact, what I believe isn’t important.

I’m just interested to know if anyone else has experienced this. What are your experiences with reprogramming? What methods have you used to bring peace to yourself and your own mind?

Friday, March 13, 2015

When Villains Love The Hero #Sherlock #amwriting

This evening I finally got the chance to finish off Sherlock season 2. I LOVE IT. But it also got me thinking about why I love it so much. I could write about how wonderful the relationship between John Watson and Holmes is--but we often hear the praises sung of the hero/heroine and his/her trusted best mate.

I want to briefly praise another relationship: the intense emotional connection between the villain and the hero.

Moriarty: You know when he was on his deathbed—Bach—he heard his son at the piano playing one of his pieces. The boy stopped before he got to the end.
Sherlock: And the dying man jumped out of bed, ran straight to the piano and finished it.
: Couldn't cope with an unfinished melody.
Sherlock: Neither can you, it's why you've come.
Moriarty: But be honest. You're just a tiny bit pleased.
Sherlock: What, with the verdict?
Moriarty: With me. Back on the streets. Every fairy tale needs a good old fashioned villain.

...and Moriarty is absolutely right. How could a hero be so heroic if not for the force opposing her. Moriarty goes on to explain how much this ongoing conflict means to him and his work as a criminal mastermind:

MoriartyWell. Here we are at last. You and me, Sherlock. And our problem. The Final Problem. "Staying Alive". So boring, isn't it? It's just... staying. All my life I've been searching for distractions. And you were the best distraction and now I don't even have you. Because I've beaten you. And you know what? In the end it easy. It was easy. Now I've got to go back to playing with the ordinary people.

Except that idea of going back to the ordinary, back to a life of being unchallenged, drives Moriarty to kill himself (or so I think). And one can definitely argue that Sherlock too is defined by his relationship with Moriarty.

So what makes the best villain-hero relationship? IMHO, I think there are a few things:

1) An equality in ability and power between the hero-villain (Sherlock and Moriarty are matched in wit)
2) A need or sense of identity associated for their counterpart  (They each define themselves by the other)
3) A love-hate relationship that stems from their appreciation of the other's talent, ability, and an aggravation at the challenge to overcome it. I would wager they feel most alive when fighting the other.
4) A sense of conflict stemming from the fact that they want to defeat their counterpart, proving their own superiority, but also knowing that once they do so, they will no longer have a challenge--and the fear that they will have nothing left.

So what are your favorite hero/villain pairings? And what makes that relationship unparalleled?