Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Book Cover Reveal ~ THE BANISHED ONE by Deborah Palumbo

I have a special Halloween treat for you all today, no tricks! Deborah Palumbo is here revealing the cover for her upcoming NewRelease - THE BANISHED ONE (which will be available in December 2012).  This series has it all--mystery, romance, HOT vampires! Take a look at her spooky new cover and read the blurb. Also, don't wait until December to get into this series! Click on the links below and buy book one and two to prepare for the release of THE BANISHED ONE!

The Banished One, a serial killer vampire also named Lucius, is still wreaking havoc on the sleepy town in Tower City, and since he's supernatural he can't be captured by normal police procedure

A frustrated Lieutenant Welby (a new character in the series) refuses to believe that the elusive Lucius, the one responsible for those dead bodies in his town, is a vampire; that defies logic. There's got to be another explanation for those fang marks in the victims' throats.

Welby remains a staunch disbeliever in vampires until the coroner, Doc McMahon, causes him to change his mind!

Doc shows Welby his ancestral journal from the 1700's regarding Quentin Castle, the father of all vampires.

Welby is whisked back in time as he reads those yellowed pages filled with encounters of beautiful women being lured to their mortal doom and transformed into vampires by the handsome and charming Quentin.

But what causes Welby to finally be convinced, is a series of preternatural events and the coroner's scientific evidence!

Welby then follows the old town rumors about vampires right to Quentin and his gothic castle to enlist Quentin's supernatural aid in capturing Lucius.

Will Quentin, the only one who can stop Lucius' vampire tirades, help the Lieutenant or make him one of The Undeparted?

Will Quentin battle Lucius and send Lucius to the bowels of hell for eternity, finally ensuring that Cassandra is safe from her old beau? Will the old coal mining town be safe at last?

Don't forget to check out book one and two in this series, while we are waiting for THE BANISHED ONE's release date scheduled for December! Click on the links below. Also, Deborah will be here on November 16th for an interview with yours truly. Come back to find out all about this series with her sexy vampires and also more about her writing life and her other books. 

Happy Halloween, my friends! 
P.S. Don't forget my new policy and read the samples before you buy! Everyone's tastes are different. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

#NewRelease Affinity by Mary E. Merrell #YA Urban Fantasy

TITLE:       Affinity - Bird in a Gilded Cage
AUTHOR:  Mary E. Merrell
GENRE:    YA Urban Fantasy
RELEASE DATE:  October 24, 2012

Amazon product link

The crows followed Talon around everywhere. When he graduated from high school, Talon moved to Sacramento to work with his uncle, and the birds followed. He recognized the same straggly-tailed old crow that had followed him around since junior high. 

Iris Yorita lived in his old neighborhood in Modesto. Snakes were drawn to her as the big, black birds were drawn to him. She called their ability an AFFINITY. Claimed it was a gift from God, and they should use it to help people. Talon thought she was out of her mind. How could a bunch of mangy crows or slimy snakes help anyone?

When a thief targeted the people in his uncle's neighborhood, all fingers pointed at the new kid, Talon. He decided it was time to put this strange ability to the test. Find out who was robbing their neighbors and clear his name. As Talon worked on communicating with his crows the thievery heated up. Something more sinister than mere robbery was going on, and it would take Talon, Iris, and their new found friends, to discover what really was going on in this up-scale neighborhood.

Mary E. Merrell lives in the Central Valley of California with her husband, two dogs and four cats. She has two grown sons, Everette Merrell and Richard Mickelson who is married to a  great girl, Brooke. Mary has worked at various jobs, selling furniture, a meat company and a manufacturing company. It wasn’t until she started selling real estate that her Real Estate Paranormal Mystery Series came to life in that old, vacant home. She enjoys reading all types of genres and writes Paranormal Mysteries and YA Urban Fantasies. When she’s not writing, she’s working on her decorative planter business LivingCreations with her husband, gardening and playing soccer. Please visit her website to see what she’s working on next., or contact her through Facebook and Twitter. 

Happy reading, everyone! Have a terrific week!
P.S. Don't forget my new policy and read the samples before you buy!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Interview Spotlight on Michele Shriver WomensLit author

I am so excited to have women’s lit author, Michele Shriver, here today for an interview. Welcome, Michele! So, I have to admit, until I started doing critiques at Critique Circle, I had never before read any women’s lit books. Boy, I’ve been missing out on some great stuff! After Ten is an awesome book, which I’ve already reviewed here, but let’s talk about your new release, Sixth South

Thanks for having me here, Chantel. I appreciate the opportunity.

Tell us a little bit about Kelsey and how she came to merit a book of her own.

Well, since you’ve read After Ten, you know that Kelsey started out as a supporting character in that book and then she became one of the main characters in Sixth South. The short reason for that is that she’s fun to write and she makes my job easy, but of course there’s more to it.

When I sat down to write After Ten, I decided that one of the main characters would be a lesbian. That’s something you don’t see that often in mainstream women’s fiction, but I like to push boundaries a little, and I liked the idea of a character (Sarah) who struggled with her sexual identity for years and basically lived a lie while she was in college, and then goes back for the ten year class reunion very happy and successful but still keeping this big secret.

I knew that if Sarah was going to be able to not only accept, but embrace, her true self, she would need to have a strong and confident partner by her side. Kelsey was specifically created for Sarah with that purpose. She’s a little older, she has more relationship experience, and she’s someone who never really struggled with her sexuality or felt any shame. She just is who she is and is proud of it.

For all of her outward confidence, though, Kelsey has a vulnerable side. She just doesn’t show it to many people and she didn’t show it to me for a long time. When she finally did, I realized her true potential and that’s when I decided I had to write a book in which she was a POV character so I could fully explore it.

It’s been a real joy to write Sarah and Kelsey’s relationship from its early beginnings, with Kelsey as the stronger one, seeing Sarah come into her own and then ultimately, in Sixth South, being the one who has to keep it together to help Kelsey through a rough time. 

Honestly, one of my favorite things about this book is Sarah and Kelsey’s relationship. They are so funny together. Really fun to read. However, the other women all captured my heart as well. Tell us a little bit about Joni, Olivia, and Megan.

The four main characters are all colleagues on the same sixth grade faculty, and each has a story of their own. Joni is Kelsey’s best friend, but the friendship becomes very strained when she discovers a secret her husband has been keeping from her and she ultimately has to make a choice between her marriage and her friendship with Kelsey.

Olivia is an older lady, recently widowed, and her life changes when her daughter decides it’s time for her to try online dating. All of the characters in my first book were roughly the same age, so in this book, I wanted to explore some different generations. Olivia is a lot older than me, and it was a challenge sometimes to try to capture a realistic voice for her, but I had a lot of fun with her story.

In keeping with the different generations, Megan is a young, first-year teacher, fresh out of college. She comes into the job with a lot of idealism and enthusiasm and quickly finds herself embroiled in a controversy that dampens that enthusiasm.

They are all great! One of the things I loved about this book is it's diversity.  Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I didn’t write the book with any particular message in mind. I wrote it just to tell a story, and I hope it’s an engaging and entertaining story. While I don’t think it really has a message, there is a theme that I think runs throughout the book, though, and that is trust. 

When did you start writing? What made you want to be a writer?

My earliest memory of writing, and perhaps wanting to be a writer, dates back to sixth grade. I had a teacher who gave us a class assignment to write the first chapter of a book. I did, and had a lot of fun with it, but I had one complaint. I didn’t want to stop! I wanted to write the whole book, and I told her that. She said “Go right ahead.” I never did finish that book, but since that time I always loved getting a school assignment to write a story. She was a very influential person in my life, and it’s not a coincidence that this book focuses on a group of sixth grade teachers.

I got away from writing for too many years when I was in college and then law school. Well, I was writing, but it was all nonfiction stuff for school or work. About nine years ago I got into fiction writing, starting with a soap opera style role play game on the internet. That gave me a chance to write dramatic stories with original characters, and reawakened my love for writing.

I also dabbled in fan fiction for a while, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. It gave me a chance to improve my writing and storytelling ability.

A few years ago, I signed up for NaNoWriMo on a whim and wrote After Ten and I guess the rest is history.

Funny how some people can have so much influence in our lives, isn't it?  I think that's terrific.  Are there any other genres you like writing in?

I’ve written nonfiction articles for law reviews, one short story in the fantasy genre, and one screenplay, but no- women’s fiction is what I enjoy the most and I don’t really see myself seriously branching out into other genres. I’m more focused on trying to build my brand and make a name for myself writing women’s fiction.

I totally understand what you are saying there. What do you love about writing? What do you hate?

I love creating characters and crafting stories that I hope make people smile, laugh, perhaps occasionally cry, and hopefully touch their heart or at least leave some impression on them. That’s my goal.

I hate not having as much time to spend on writing as I would like, but I’m sure that’s a common complaint. As far as the process itself, the most frustrating thing for me is when I know what’s coming next, I can see the next scene or chapter vividly in my head, but for some reason struggle with getting that mental picture into words.

I hate that the chatty little buggers don't let me sleep sometimes. My characters always like to tell me the good stuff when I'm trying to go to bed! Guess that's better than them not talking at all. 

Where do you get your story ideas?

It may sound strange, but most of the time I get my story ideas from my characters. My books tend to start with me creating a few characters- I’ll give them a name, an age, an occupation, think a little bit about what type of person they are and what their life is like. For example, with this book, I decided I was writing about a group of teachers. Then I just started writing and let them create the story. I’ve never been one to do a lot of advance planning. I like to let my characters surprise me.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

I do occasionally, but fortunately not very often. The bigger problem for me is what I already mentioned-knowing what comes next but struggling to get it on to paper. Usually it means that the scene isn’t quite ready. I’ve learned that I can’t force my writing. If a scene or chapter isn’t ready to be written, no amount of staring at a blank page is going to make it ready. I have to let it come to me.

Usually I just go do other things and wait until it does. One thing I’ve noticed is that being outside can help clear my head and get ideas flowing, and that I sometimes do my best thinking when I’m out on a bike ride. So, weather permitting, I’ll just get on my bike and head for the trails.

Oh! Bike riding sounds so much better than what I do to stop writer's work. I'm trying your method instead! To heck with a clean house!

What book(s) / author(s) have influenced your life and writing? Why?

I’m a big fan of Jodi Picoult and Kristin Hannah. Jodi Picoult is one of the best I’ve read at telling a story with multiple points of view and writing about controversial topics. Her books stay with me a long time because she poses some difficult questions that can really make a reader think. I’m in awe of her grasp of the subjects she writes about and how much research it must take.

Kristin Hannah explores some difficult themes, too, but she writes them with so much heart. She creates memorable characters and really makes a reader care about them. Her books are about the characters’ journey. Also, I’m a sucker for a happy ending, and I like that her books usually end with things working out, even if there’s been some heart wrenching and difficult stuff along the way.

I've never read either of those authors, but they sound interesting. I'm a sucker for happy endings too

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I’m a big sports fan, so if there’s a football or hockey game on TV, I’m probably watching it. If not, then I’m at the gym doing a Zumba fitness class. I also love to read. I think to be a good writer, one has to be a good reader as well, and there’s not much better than relaxing with a good book.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on my third novel right now, and this one is very close to me because it was inspired in part by the work I do in juvenile law. It’s a story rooted in the child welfare system, told from the points of view of the different people involved. It features a drug-addicted young mother fighting to turn her life around and regain custody of her child, a jaded social worker with inner demons of her own, an attorney who thinks she can save the world and a judge who might be too close to the case.

I can never wait for more stories from you. You need to write faster! J

I was born in Iowa and raised in Texas and now live in Iowa again. I am proud to consider both states to be home, and therefore poke fun at both of them, but it's always meant in the nicest way possible. I am a practicing attorney with a focus on juvenile law and have also worked as an educator, and some of my experiences have found their way into my writing. My dream is to someday pay the bills as a writer and be able to spend winters in the Dallas area going to Dallas Stars hockey games. In my free time, when I’m not writing, I am probably at a Zumba class, riding my bike, watching a football, hockey or soccer game on TV, or enjoying a glass of wine while I lose myself in a good book written by someone else.

Want to connect with Michele further and keep up with what she's doing? 

Want to buy Sixth South?
Amazon Product Page for Sixth South
Barnes & Noble Product Page for Sixth South

Want to buy Michele's first book, After Ten?
Amazon Product Page for After Ten
Barnes & Noble Product Page for After Ten

Happy reading, everyone! I know you'll enjoy Michele's books as much as I do!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Are Indie Authors Ruining the Publishing Industry?

I have a little rant today...well, okay, it might end up being a big one. 

In the last week, Amazon has gone on another witch-hunt to get rid of so-called 'fake' reviews. I've been relieved in that, so far, all of my reviews have remained intact as well as the reviews I've given to other books. I do know a few authors who have had reviews removed. The stupid thing is, the ones removed are from people that weren't even known to the authors. This means that, in fact, the reviews most likely getting removed are the true reviews. The only thing that makes sense to me is that a small group of people (including some publishers and traditionally published authors, as well as readers) are speaking out against Indie authors and putting pressure on Amazon to "do something about this problem!" So, is Amazon just arbitrarily deleting reviews? It seems that way. At the same time, I'm not sure what else they can do about it. I actually understand their position. 

The thing is, there are a lot of terrible Indie books out there. I'm not trying to be mean. I'm really not. But if you are a follower of my blog, you know I agonized over my decision to self-publish particularly because there are so many people out there publishing books who shouldn't be. My very first experience with an Indie book was something so horrible, I swore I would never buy one again. 

Once I met some Indie authors who actually are writing just as traditional authors, using editors, cover artists, beta readers, whatever they can to improve their product and make it fabulous, they slowly changed my mind. With proper editing, I think even a bad book could become a good one. Hiring an editor is the answer to every Indie author's problem. That and critique groups. I can't believe how terrific some of these people are at what they do. Truly talented folks!

I've been wrapped up in my own little world now, associating with people who are doing things the right way--people putting out top-quality books even though they are the dreaded "Indies." I started to get really upset by Amazon deleting reviews, picking on Indies, it would seem (although I've recently heard of traditionally published authors losing reviews too--I just think the people complaining about reviews are spurred on by Indie's and dishonest people paying for reviews **cough** John Locke **cough cough**). However, I've recently been reminded of why I once vowed never to buy another Indie book. 

I've fallen into being a book reviewer quite by accident. I never intended to become one. Really, I like such an eclectic mishmash of book genres, that I just figured it would be fun to put up reviews for the books I'm reading that I really like. I love writing, but reading has always been a passion for me. I wanted anyone who found me to be able to learn a little more about me by what I'm reading. Maybe get them to tell me more about them by what they are reading. I never really expected authors to start sending me their books and asking for reviews. 

In the beginning, I thought it was sort of neat. I get free books to read, and I can share the message with my readers about new books out. I've moved on to author interviews too, all more of a chance to let my readers connect with new authors. The problem is, I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, so I've told people, 'if your book isn't at least a 3-star for me, I won't post a review.' My books I love feature was truly just supposed to be books I love. 

Here's my problem--I've received a few books in the past few weeks, some even with a so-called 'publisher' of the small-press variety. They are, in a word, horrible. Either I can't make heads or tails of the story line, or there is just a bunch of talking heads sitting around chatting and I can't focus on anything as my eyes glaze over, or the dialogue is so stiff and the writing so passive, it's obvious to me the person didn't even bother to submit to a critique group and get basic help, let alone attending writing classes or hire a quality editor. Heck - even just ask some English major at a college to go over it. Anything! 

I made it through around 15% of the first book, though I set it aside several times and proclaimed I wasn't going to finish it. Then, I'd get to feeling bad. I looked at the book on Amazon. It has glowing reviews. Am I just too jaded by my "critique" mentality from helping my partners at Was I being too hard on other authors? I tried so many times to read that book, making it through a few pages at a time before I finally couldn't handle it. If it is just me, I guess that's the way it rolls, but I would never read that book for pleasure.

So, I moved on to the next book. The person I got this book from is super sweet, and we've talked quite a bit. As a person, this author is great. The story line of the book might even be fabulous--but I will never know. The problem? Talking heads the entire way. Number one rule in every class I ever took says don't have talking heads (where your characters are just talking back and forth with nothing else going on). This book is the worst case I have ever seen. Pages and pages of just dialogue. No modifiers even to tell who is speaking through PAGES. What happens if I lose track of whose speaking? Do I go back to the beginning of the chapter where there was a so-and-so said, five pages back, and then count lines to figure it out? Sorry, but I'm not willing to do that. 

An editor could have fixed these issues, should have fixed them. What scares me is that these books were both supposedly put out with a publisher. Is it a fake publisher that is actually just the author's business name? I'm not sure. When I chose to self-publish, I put my own name as the publisher, but I know some authors create a publishing company to try to lend legitimacy to their work. I figure, my work speaks for itself. I'm willing to embrace the fact that I self-published. You may be asking, am I so cocky I think everyone will love my book? Of course not. I'm not writing for the masses, but for a target audience.  And even within that audience, some people won't like what I've done. We all have different tastes.  But do I think my book is high-quality with good sentence structure, great plot elements, and a basic comprehension of proper grammar? Yes, I do. And even though I had a few problems with these things in the beginning, that's what my critique group and editor were there to help me with. 

To make my long rant even longer, here's my new policy. I just received two unsolicited manuscripts this week. The authors didn't even bother to ask me first if I wanted them. I deleted them, because I've had enough right at this moment with reading Indie material, though I'm sure I will get back to it eventually. If you want me to review your work, ask me first if I'd like to, send me the MS when I ask for it, and know this...if I take the time to load your book to my Kindle, and it is horrible, I am going to say so. If you want a review from me, it will not only be posted if it fits my "books I love" slot. I will give an honest opinion. 

As far as whether Indie's are ruining the industry, cheating readers with fake reviews, yadda, yadda, yadda - I still think the answer to that is no. Even if you don't have an ereader - you can download the sample on Amazon itself to see if the author has a clue about what they are doing in the department of writing. I don't buy any books anymore without reading the sample first. It's just a good practice to get into. If I can't make it through the sample, I'm not going to enjoy the book, so I'll save my money. This can't guarantee that a technically proficient writer will be able to tell a story that will satisfy me overall, but even traditionally published authors can't always fulfill that with their books. At least if I read the sample, I'll know they took the time to write the story in a manner that the writing itself won't present a problem. 

Amazon may continue deleting reviews.  I don't really think this will help the problem. Sample reading is the answer. At least for me. What are your views on this issue?

Thanks for reading everyone, and letting me rant. That's been building up! Whew! Have a great week.


Monday, October 22, 2012

BookReview ~ HUNTERS by Stephanie J. Pristavu

Book:    Hunters
Author:  Stephanie J. Pristavu
Genre:  Paranormal/vampire/romantic elements
My rating:  3-4 stars - this one was tough to judge

Okay, I've been very on the fence about this review. I actually finished this book over a week ago, and I've been trying to decide how I felt about it overall. In truth, most of the book is very good. I love the story line, vampires being vampires who are actually scary dudes that are bad news. I mean, don't get me wrong, you all know some of my favorite books are Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series and I'm a pretty much in love with Eric Northman, but this was a nice change. Vlad is a bad dude who wants to kill humans, not love them. 

I even liked the hunters, Rachel and Daniel. I liked the idea of a hunter - a human who was only partially changed to a vampire but saved by another hunter's blood giving them antibodies basically against the vampire poison. This gives hunters a lot of human qualities still (the ability to love, stay in sunlight--though it is a bit painful for them so they prefer the night--a beating heart and the need for food). Also, they get a bunch of neat vampire abilities (super strength, speed, fast healing). A hunter's main objective in life is to kill vampires. Pretty neat idea and something I hadn't seen before. 

The parts I didn't like were actually the romance bits, which is weird for me. In the beginning, it was cute and funny and hot, the attraction between Rachel and Daniel. However, about 20% into the book, things got weird. Daniel would want Rachel and then push her away for no apparent reason. Rachel would be sad, mad, whatever. Then it all happened again. As a romance reader, I expect some of this stuff to happen, the characters fight, they have insecurities, whatever, but there is always a reason - something that triggers the change in the relationship. That wasn't the case here. There was never any explanation, just him pulling her close and pushing her away again and again. Nothing would happen to make him change his mind, he just did. The only explanation given was 'he must be bipolar.' I wouldn't have even minded that, but this  went on for about 15% of the book with nothing else happening. I honestly started skim reading and decided I wasn't going to finish the book. 

I put the book away for a few days, but wanted to give it another try because I did like the premise of this book so much, and had enjoyed the parts before the problem started. We finally got on to dealing with vampires, and it was a lot better. I really enjoyed the plot and I love the style of writing. Very clean and easy to read. Several parts that were funny. It was honestly only the romance part that turned me off. If I had skipped the romance parts, this would have been a definite 4 star for me.  FYI - Daniel's odd behavior is eventually explained, but having the same thing over and over again was very frustrating, especially with no explanation at the time. 

I would still recommend this book. The fight scenes are really good and the overall story is too. If you want bad vampires and also a little history of the true vampire, Vlad the Impaler, this story provides all of that. I think a lot of the problems I had about the romance was worked out throughout this story, and I do look forward to the next installment. 

Happy reading everyone!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Spotlight on David Lawlor and Tan - Irish Historical Fiction

Today, I have the privilege of having a guest here. David Lawlor is author of the book, Tan - A story of exile, betrayal, and revenge. I have to admit, I haven't done a lot of reading in the historical fiction genre, so I was excited that David came to tell us a little bit about his work and the Black and Tans and War of Independence of Ireland. The blog is yours, David.

The sin that dare not speak its name’… that’s how homosexuality was once famously described across the water. It’s a phrase that could just as easily lend itself to a dark secret held by many Irish families today…perhaps one held by your own family or that of your friends or colleagues. I refer to the stain of having in your family history a relative who served in the Black and Tans. It may be over 90 years since the War of Independence but the potency of those three words ‘Black and Tan’ was brought home only last month when trainer manufacturer Nike had the temerity to issue some new stock under that name. The outcry was swift and vocal. ‘An outrage’, trumpeted some quarters. ‘How could the company dare to sully the memory of the victims by being so crass as to name a sneaker after such brutal thugs?’ asked others. The offending sneakers were quickly withdrawn and an apology issued.

It is a strange quirk of our history that after so much has changed in this country that we still feel a frisson of disgust at the mere mention of those three words. The Tans were sent here as Temporary Constables to crush Collins’ burgeoning revolution and when they couldn’t do that the Auxiliaries (far worse by most accounts) were brought in to finish the job. But it is the Tans whose name resonates; they are still reviled for their brutish behaviour, from rampaging drunkenness to cold-blooded murder, their name is infamous. And yet a sizeable portion of them were of our own…Irishmen, who for economic reasons or otherwise, chose to don the mangled uniform of army khaki and RIC blue in order to terrorise their fellow citizens. Those Irish Tans have been ignored by our historians, yet their presence still resonates. I have two colleagues whose grandfathers served as Black and Tans, though they were a little sheepish when they told me so; another colleague’s granddad actually shot a Tan in the head. Three colleagues touched by the same ghostly historic hangover – and that’s just in one newsroom. How many more families have Tan stories to relate?

I have a keen interest in history and the Tans struck a chord with me. I wondered who they really were, and wanted to write about them. However, to go down that road is, even now, a difficult path to take for their relatives. So, I wrote a novel instead, where the central character is a Black and Tan serving in his old home town of Balbriggan.

Why Balbriggan? Because it was put to the torch by them in 1920, as was Tuam. These outrages are largely lost to history, the one many of us have a vague recollection of is Cork, which was also set ablaze by their drunken horde. My book deals with a young man falsely accused of a crime and who forced to flee his home town and enlist in the British Army just in time for the Great War. Five years later he’s demobbed and soon destitute. Desperate for money he joins up in the new force of Temporary Constables being set up for a quick tour of duty across the sea. The money is good, it will put him back on his feet and he can start afresh once he is again released form the Army’s clutches. It was a choice offered to all those who signed up and many of them had weighed the same financial dilemma as my character, Liam. It might explain why many put pen to paper but it doesn’t answer the reason for their brutality.

Five years in trenches might, though, suffering daily bombardment in appalling conditions as their friends died all around them on futile assaults, being slaughtered in their thousands for the same piece of shell-torn earth their comrades had already given their lives for. That kind of thing must do something to the soul…call it shell shock or post-traumatic stress; it must manifest itself somehow – in battle it might be called uncommon valour, in the streets of Dublin or Balbriggan or Cork it might be called something else.

I’m no historian, but I do like a good story, and whether you like it or not the Tans give one. Booker winner Sebastian Barry recognised that and wrote On Canaan’s Side to explore the same issue. My own efforts may not reach the lofty heights of Mr Barry, but in my own way I’m trying to answer that question – the one brushed beneath the carpet by many of our families….why did they do it and why must their ancestors still bear the shame? We write our own histories mostly, but sometimes events are left to moulder in the dark and dank corners of our hidden past…a past too painful to explore. It’s time we shone a light on those corners and discovered what lies festering there.

Tan is available for download:

You can visit David's blog at
Or connect with him on Twitter @LawlorDavid

Thanks so much for being here today, David, and telling us more about your writing. Best of luck with Tan!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Writer's Block? Where did I go wrong?

I told you all about my new work in progress, Crime & Passion, a few weeks ago. After all my bragging on how much fun I'm having writing this book, how easy the words are flowing from my brain to my fingertips, suddenly that all dried up. I struggled to write two chapters the weekend of the 6th. Even though they felt wrong, I soldiered through, hoping somehow it would start to feel right on its own. 

No dice.  I spent an entire week not writing anything.  I tried all my usual tricks: staring at a blank page, doing housework without any music, listening to classical music while thinking of absolutely nothing (this one doesn't always work for me because I actually like classical music, so it can make my muse happy), long showers, lying in bed trying to think about my characters before falling asleep, counting to ten in my head over and over again - come on Muse, get bored enough to talk to me! Nadda, nothing, zip, zilch. 

I've attempted to write Crime & Passion in a different manner than I wrote Always & Forever.  With A&F, I didn't find critique partners until late in the game. So, when I came across a problem in A&F, I would exchange emails with one of my fabulous crit buddies, they would help hammer out the details, and I would change the manuscript then and there, racing to make changes in the remainder of the MS before my critique partners read any of the chapters that followed the problem.  This method worked well for me, but it meant a lot of editing, not to mention all the other edits I did once working with my editor. 

Several of my friends suggested a different approach for C&P. The method that works for many of them is to write the entire first draft without making any changes. Then, they go through their MS using suggestions from their crit partners to pound their story into shape. They suggested I try this. Since several of the classes I've taken suggest when you need a plot change you simply write a note in the area that needs fixed and then continue writing as though the problem is fixed, I agreed this was likely a good idea.

I'm trying. Lord how I'm trying to follow this advice, even though I itch to go fix problems as my partners find them (I have to admit a few times I've made notes, but then gone back and fixed the problem instead of letting the note stay). So, here I sit with my muse sticking her fingers in her ears and making raspberry sounds every time I try to write. I forced my way through one more chapter. Totally wrong! What happened to my joyful, effortless, loving the heck out of what I'm doing novel writing?

I'd finally had it. At my wit's end, I took a deep breath and tried to remember which part in the MS had last felt effortless. Then, I went back four extra chapters. I took all the critiques I had received and put on my thinking cap. Line by line, I went through each chapter, fixing mistakes my partners noticed, rewording things I didn't like. I might not have been able to write, but I slipped into editing easy-peasy. Five chapters down and no major errors, everything felt good. 

Then, suddenly, two little lines. 

My muse whispered, "I thought you had a different plan for him. What is that doing there?"

"Really? This little throwaway dialogue is what pissed you off?" I ask. "It's a little bit of nothing that doesn't even matter."

I swear to you she laughed. 

I took that line out, reworking it into what she wanted to see. BAM! She poured out what will happen in the rest of the book faster then I could keep up. I'm not worried though. I fixed her problem and I know she'll keep talking to me now. The ideas will all still be there when I'm ready for them.

The bad news? The three chapters I forced myself to write have had to be totally revamped. In fact, the last one was totally deleted. So, even though pushing through all the way on your first draft might be a good choice in most cases, if you find yourself stuck, perhaps you put a little nothing line in there that actually throws off your entire novel.

No matter how much I try to tell myself I'm the one in control, my muse is in the driver's seat and she is very, very picky!

Happy writing, my friends! I hope you are having a fabulous week!


Monday, October 15, 2012

#NewRelease ~ Sixth South by Michele Shriver #WomensLit

TITLE:        Sixth South
AUTHOR:  Michele Shriver
GENRE:     Women's Lit/Fiction
October 6, 2012

When the things she holds closest are suddenly threatened, Kelsey needs her best friend more than ever. But can Joni be there for her, or will the discovery of a shocking secret force her to choose between their friendship and her marriage? After fleeing an abusive past, Megan looks forward to a new future, but suddenly finds herself at risk of being a victim again. Their recently widowed friend and colleague, Olivia, wants to help them through the tough times with a freshly baked dessert, but when a surprise gift prompts her try online dating, she finds herself embarking on an adventure she never expected.

A story about friendship, relationships, trust, betrayal, letting go of the past and facing the future, this will be a year like no other for the women of Sixth South.

Amazon Product Page
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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Interview #Spotlight on Paranormal Romance Author Christina McKnight

Today, we are very fortunate to have the highly talented author, Christina McKnight, with us.  First, check out the cover and description of her book.

When Lucessa Sarcona awakes from a recurring dream, she has no idea her life is about to be turned upside down. A stranger, familiar to her dreams, shows up in the flesh, and Lucessa knows she’s either crazy or experiencing something not of this world.

A war ensues between three demigod brothers. One, trained to rule Erebos, is violently replaced. One forced to return to his homeland and lead the dream-gods of the Oneiroi. And one is charged with the impossible task of protecting Lucessa. How is she linked to the Oneiroi? Why do two brothers seek to keep her hidden and protected? And how does another plan to use her against the two demigods who love her?

Will Lucessa’s dream man have the courage to claim her as his own or will he bow to the command of another, forsaking the one he loves?

Only in Her Dreams is a modern spin on a Greek legend--the new direction of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, moving from angels, demons, vampires, and witches and toward the realm of demigods.

Thank you so much, Christina, for agreeing to be here.  You must be very excited about releasing Only In Her Dreams, The Oneiroi Book 1
Thanks for having me, Chantel. I’m a bit over excited about the release of my 1st novel.

Well, I have to admit, I'm a bit overexcited about it too. It's a great book! Tell us a little bit more about the Oneiroi. Who or what are they?
Great question! The Oneiroi are the Greek demigods of dreams. While actual mythological legends state they are winged, bat-like creatures who take to the sky at night, my interpretation is a bit different.  My Oneiroi are hot men with iridescent blue eyes who visit our dreams.

Hot men with blue eyes? Yummy! My favorite! :-)

Who is your favorite character from the story and why? Anyone you’ve got the hots for?
This answer will go along with the next question. For some reason I really enjoyed writing from the POV of my bad boy, Darius. He is a troubled soul with many layers of hurt that are developed during the course of book one. Now, I must admit I’ve always had a ‘thing’ for bad boys. I watch Vampire Diaries and my favorite character is Damien Salvatore. I’ve been drawn to him from the first episode. I can’t say how my fetish with bad boys has affected my personal life, LOL.

We'll skip right past the personal life issues ;-) I'm definitely team Maxim, but Darius does have his own brand of charm.  

Is this a part of a series or a standalone book?
When I originally wrote my novel it was a standalone book. It wasn’t until my 3rd revision that I thought, ‘There is more to this story then I’m able to tell in just one book.’ As you’ve probably guessed, Only In Her Nightmares, The Oneiroi Book 2 will feature my bad boy, Darius. I’m excited to have 80k words to explore him and his unique story. Only In His Visions, The Oneiroi Book 3 will feature Alexander, Darius’ right hand man.

Where does the inspiration for you stories come from?
Only in Her Dreams actually came to me in a dream. Ironic, I know. Several times I dreamt of a man watching me. He never approached, moved, or spoke, but stayed silently in the background. I starting thinking: Who is this guy? What does he want?

A fellow writer -and self-proclaimed dream expert- said the man may be someone I’ve come into contact with recently. My next question: What if this mystery man from my dream showed up in real life?

Only In Her Dreams, The Oneiroi Book 1 took off from there.

What advice do you have for other aspiring writers?
Ask questions! Seek out other writers and learn as much as you can from their experiences. I have a wonderful support group of writers, some indie and a few traditional. Something I’ve learned is that writers are more than happy to share what they’ve learned. And if they don’t know the answer, they will point you to another writer who does. In addition, as a writer you must be willing to help others as well. Share what you learn with other new writers.

That's terrific advice, and I've found that to be true as well. Authors are always willing to help out. Do you have another book in the works?
OMG! I do…

A few months ago I read Wallflower by Catherine Gayle and she wrote a scene that involved a duel. The heroine wanted to take the place of her beta male counterpart. She was scared to lose him. Talk about true love!

I started thinking...what if a young girl of the ton was responsible for the death of a man because of a duel she egged on? The next logical question was...what if BOTH men died? Then I took it one step further...what if the men were brothers? Shunned No More, The Forsaken Lady Series (Book 1) progressed from there.

I have a heroine that the reader should despise during the prologue but hopefully I can redeem her by the end of the book.

Oh, and of course I’m working on Only In Her Nightmares, The Oneiroi Book 2, but you’ll have to wait a bit longer for deets on this project.

I'm glad you have so much planned, 'cause I'm going to need more books from you! Thank you so much for being here today, Christina!  I wish you the best luck in your writing career. 
Thank you for having me!

Want to connect with Christina? Her are her links:

Here's the link for Amazon again so you can buy this great book

Read on for an excerpt from bad-boy Darius' point of view!

Chapter 8 
Darius preferred to let his brothers believe his powers had indeed been stripped, gone with his banishment. That’s where his deal with the Dark One came in handy. He’d had a link to the girl for years now, bringing a dark presence to her dreams-her nightmares.
Closing his eyes he concentrated on the dark side. A thrill coursed through his body every time he traveled to this forbidden land. He would lead these people, his type of people.
His eyes opened and he stood in front of a rusted, black iron gate. It parted to allow him entrance.
He proceeded down the fog-ridden path toward the castle in the distance. It was an imposing structure covered by black tinted ivy. Everything in this place held a black tint; the streets, the building, and most of all—the people. Soon-to-be, his people.
As he approached the massive fortress, the doors glided open of their own accord. The interior was as dark and fog laden as the exterior, dim candles shown upon the rug laden floor he moved across.
“The Dark One will see you in the billiards room.”
Darius stiffened and stopped his progress, turning toward the voice behind him.
No one in sight. What the fuck?
He straightened his shoulders and continued through the foyer and down the hall leading to the billiards room. Again, doors parted and he entered.
The Dark One lounged against the far wall, cue stick in hand. He studied the freshly racked pool table. “You’re in time for a game. Grab a cue, Darius.”
“Yes, My Lord.” Darius retrieved a cue stick from the wall and turned toward the table. The Dark One leaned across it, aiming for the racked balls.
“I hear you have good news for me,” he said as his stick connected with the white ball. On impact, the colored and striped balls rolled toward the corner pockets.
Darius watched in awe. Every ball found its home in a hole, ending the game before it start. What the fuck?! he thought to himself, for the second time in less than ten minutes.
“Yes. My informant gave us accurate information about where the girl lives,” Darius said.
“Have you confirmed this for yourself?” The man stood straight and returned his stick to the rack on the wall. He faced Darius across the table, hands on his hips. The man was intimidating, the thing that nightmares were made of.
“Of course.” I’m not an idiot.
“Well…what?” Darius asked. Standing around a pool table, in such a casual setting should be relaxing, but he was on edge.
“Why isn’t Erebos mine yet?”
Good question. How to answer that without getting his ass set on fire, he wondered. “I’m working on it.”
“Work faster. I’m in need of a new home, this one’s going to shit.” The Dark One stared at Darius, no hint of a joke on his face.
“I don’t plan to drag this out longer than necessary.”

Happy reading everyone! Have a great weekend!


Friday, October 12, 2012

Author #Interview with Cinta Garcia de la Rosa

The Funny Adventures of Little Nani (Volume 1)
Cinta García de la Rosa

First off, I want to thank you for being here today, Cinta! I understand you recently published a children’s book, The Funny Adventures of Little Nani. Want to tell us about it? What age range is it appropriate for?

Well, thanks for hosting me in your blog, Chantel. It is a pleasure. Yes, I just published my first book and it is a children’s book. It is a collection of short stories featuring Little Nani, who is a little girl who wants to be a witch and creates all kind of funny and absurd situations due to her misuse of her magic wand. Every story tells a different adventure, and Little Nani will meet different characters along the way. About the age range, I didn’t write the stories thinking of a specific age range. I think my book can be equally enjoyed by little children, teens, and adults.

Sounds like a lot of fun! Honestly, I don’t really know all that much about how one goes about writing a children’s book. Can you believe you are the first children’s book author I’ve met? That’s exciting! Tell us about the process of writing for children. I can only imagine it’s much different from writing for adults or teens.

You made me smile. The fact is that I am not an author of children’s books. My Little Nani took shape in my head by mere chance and I decided to write her stories. Writing for children is a bit more difficult, because you have to be extra careful with the language and tone you use. Besides, you cannot use references that wouldn’t be recognizable for children. You have to tell a story that is both attractive to them and educative enough for them to understand the moral of the story.

What inspired you to tell this story?

Little Nani is pretty much a reflection of myself. I always have these funny chats and conversations with my friends, and I wanted to write stories that reflected that. I wrote the first one just for fun, to post it in my blog. People liked it so much that they started asking me for a second story. When I realized  I had enough stories in my head as to write a whole book. So my readers inspired me to write the book.

Do you do your own illustrations, or did you hire someone else?

I hired an illustrator, since I am useless at drawing. My illustrator, Almudena Romero, is fantastic and I love her illustrations, which are magical and remind me of the magical worlds created by Beatrix Potter. She is a great artist, and all of you can check her work in her website

All I can draw are stick figures! Glad you were able to find a good illustrator to help bring your vision to life!

Does your story contain a message that you’d like to spread to children?

It is a collection of ten stories, and each story contains a message. With my stories I try to teach children to be responsible about others’ belongings, to care about the environment, to learn when to apologise, the value of friendship, and other values that I consider are important for children to know.

Sounds like these are really good teaching stories. 

Deciding to self publish was a very tough decision for me. How did you decide to self publish? Was it a hard choice?

No, from the very beginning I knew that I wanted to self-publish. Then I got contacted by an agency that offered me a contract for publishing my book. After some months, I discovered these people were a fraud, so I went back to my original plan of self-publishing. It is the best one can do: you are in control of everything and you choose everything you need for your book to look as good as possible.

Any advice for other authors out there?

Well, I always say I am not the right person to advise people, but I can share what I can learnt from my own experience. What I recommend to every writer is to write daily.

Daily means daily. Don’t try to look for excuses like “I don’t know what to write about” or “I don’t have any good idea just now”. Just write. Even if it is a silly paragraph, or a nonsense sentence. It is important to create that habit of writing every day. Also, never give up. If you really believe that your stories can interest other people, just write them and share them with the world. Chase your dreams because we just have one life to live.

That's very good advice!  You can't write a book if you don't WRITE! 

Thank you so much for visiting with us. I know most of my readers usually come to my site looking for books I recommend for them to read, but if you have young kids, check out Cinta’s book.

I want to thank you, Chantel, for letting me visit you here.


Cinta García de la Rosa is a Spanish teacher who always dreamt of being a writer. So she writes, every day, compulsively. Always active, she is also an avid reader, a blogger and a book reviewer. Her first writings were in Spanish, but, since she got her BA in English Studies, she decided to start writing in English. Now, she feels more comfortable writing in English than in her mother tongue. She has just published her first book “The Funny Adventures of Little Nani”, a collection of stories for children, with illustrations and other surprises. She is also working in other projects: a collection of short stories, the Groovy Cool Adventures Project, and a novelette based on the British Regency period. Apart from writing and reading, she enjoys meeting new people, dancing, and traveling.

What to know more about Cinta? Connect with her at one of these places below: 
Twitter:  Austenite78 

Wondering where to buy The Funny Adventures of Little Nani (Volume 1)?

Happy reading everyone!