Friday, September 30, 2011

Moonlight Rising by Vincent Zandri - Review

Well if this isn't a book that knocks your socks off...I don't know what is! Moonlight Rising by Vincent Zandri is an edge-of-your-seat thriller alright, and one that made me envious that I hadn't read the first two books!


Book Details:
Genre:Adult Suspense, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: StoneGate Ink
Publication Date: August 13, 2011


Book Summary:

“Life sucks. Then you die. Or, if you’re Dick Moonlight, first you die and then you live.”


Dick Moonlight is dead.


Really dead this time, now that three President Obama-masked thugs dressed all in black and communicating only with hand-held voice synthesizers pressed up against their voice boxes have beat the life right out of him inside a dark, downtown Albany alley. What are the thugs after? A box. Size, weight, description unknown. They also want him to stay away from his newest and only client: a handicapped nuclear engineer of dubious Russian heritage by the same of Peter Czech.


But then, now that they’ve killed him, Moonlight’s problems seem to be over. In fact, as he undergoes an out of body experience, his soul floating above his train-wreck of a corpse inside the Albany Medical Center I.C.U., he feels pretty damned good. Great in fact. To make death all the more sweeter, his one true love, Lola, is standing by his bedside. With her long dark hair draping her chiseled face and big round Jackie O sunglasses hiding tear-filled eyes, she appears every bit the grieving sig other. Nothing could make the dead-and-gone Moonlight prouder.

But then something happens. Something bad. A man enters into the I.C.U. Some young guy. He takes hold of Lola’s hand, and pulls her into him. Together, the two share a loving embrace over Moonlight’s dead body. Now, what seemed like a peaceful death is anything but. Moonlight wants back inside his body so he can face-off Some Young Guy and find out if his true love has in fact been cheating on him. At the same time, he wants to find out the true identity of those thugs who killed him so he can exact his revenge. No doubt about it, Moonlight needs to live if he’s going to uncover some pretty painful answers and take care of business.


Like a little kid dropping down a playground slide, Moonlight slides right back inside his bruised and broken body. Opening his eyes the white light blinds him. He feels the pain of his wounds and the pain of his breaking heart.

Life sucks, then you die.


But Moonlight rises.


My Thoughts:


Like I mentioned before, this is a great book. I think Zandri has such a unique writing style, and he puts on quite a show with this novel. I was a little worried about not having read the first two books but quickly overcame that because this novel was so engrossing. But it does make me want to go back and read those too!

There were so many twists and turns and so many unexpected things that happened that as a reader I constantly wondered what was around the "next page." There are lots of secrets and and lots of things to figure out in this one which makes it all the better. The author does a great job of giving enough of the back story that readers can easily keep up with what is going on.


Zandri really lets humor come through in this novel as well, and throughout the book I found myself chuckling to myself - and that doesn't happen often!


Giving this one 5 stars, pick it up ASAP!


Next blog tour stop: Tribute Books Reviews & Giveaways

Author Website

Purchase at Amazon

Purchase at Barnes & Noble


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shouty Good Habits & Food & Fitness - Review

"I have this great vision of who I could be! As I look in the mirror, that's not what I see!"
-Shouty

As part of a blog tour for Pump Up Your Books Virtual Book Tours I am reviewing two books: Shouty Food & Fitness and Shouty Good Habits.

Both of these books target juveniles 8 and up in an attempt to teach responsibilities for one's health and lifestyle. Each book follows Shouty as he makes mistakes in his diet and life in general and as he corrects them and goes on to do the right thing.

My Thoughts:

I think these books definitely serve a purpose in a world where these issues need to be addressed with our kids. As a middle-school teacher, I see kids more and more picking up bad habits and paying for it later as an adult. The goal of the books is clear, show students that making good choices regarding their health and lives will pay off and in the long run help you be a happier, more successful, and more fulfilled person.

I like that they are short, if the intended audience is kids it needs to be quick and to the point. Since Shouty is an adult, I wonder if his experiences will really connect with the target audience as much as they would if Shouty was someone their age. Either way, these books make their point and it is effective.

I would think that these would be great additions to school libraries, public libraries, and home book collections.


Author Guest Post - Lynda M. Martin

As part of the blog tour for Lynda M. Martin's This Bird Flew Away, she agreed to do a guest post for me that I am very excited to share. She has a great voice in and outside of her book and I think you'll agree that she is passionate about what she writes.

I asked Lynda to write about how an author's "real life career" influences their books. Since she herself has worked in a job (child protection services) that is closely tied to her novel, I wanted her to explain how that tied into her novel.

What a great question! I would not call my experience in child protection a career, but rather a passion. My career (that which paid the bills) was in business administration, not considered the ripest fruit for fiction, but not impossible either. Child protection work came from my heart. The idea of “professional” outreach workers is a new one and back in the 70’s, most of us were volunteers – though between the social service agencies and various police programs, we did receive wonderful training, which, admittedly, helped only so far as you had a personal avocation for the work. Either you had the knack for connecting to these kids, or you didn’t; the gift couldn’t be installed.

However, the question wasn’t about the work itself, but how it affected my novel.


There’s a wise old adage about writing, one it serves any writer well to remember: Write what you know.

I know a lot about children, the abuses they endure and their strength and ability to go on being children, in spite of the hell around them, both from my work with them and my own experiences growing up. So I wrote what I knew.


Would you write a medical mystery thriller if you had no first-hand experience in medicine? Or a legal drama without knowledge of the law? You could;
but would it come across as real? Granted it’s been done, usually through research and the involvement of those with first hand knowledge of the field. Rarely does such work hold the same sense of “true to life” as that written by those actually involved. Would Grisham’s novels be so gritty, so compelling, and so believable if he were not a lawyer?

I ran into this conundrum when writing the sequel to This Bird Flew Away: Fly High; Fly Blind (working title) based on a true murder trial of an immigrant woman who killed her abusing husband. The research alone occupied most of a year, and I owe a lot to a certain attorney who specializes in the defense of such cases, and even more to his paralegal. (Though my husband was a little disconce
rted when he found the material sent to me.)

At least, I’d had many experiences being in court – as a witness, in case you were wondering – and understood legal procedures. And I know a few prosecutors very well. That helped. But even though I’ve had several attorney’s read the manuscript and received their blessings on the legal content, I don’t feel the same sense of conviction and belief in the story as I did with the first. It was hard to write.
Luckily, the story’s essence is the continuation of the relationship between Bria and Jack, (who now find themselves in oppositions to each other) so as long as there are no “howlers” in the legalities, I am content.

It is this need to write with complete involvement and understanding that makes us lean on our own experiences -- or should. Our fiction needs to be well-ancho
red to reality as we know it or our stories simply will not work. Otherwise we are like Alec Baldwin in that commercial where he sits in the pilot seat of a jet and announces, “Don’t worry. I’ve played a pilot before.” Not the same thing!

Of course our careers, our life-experiences influence our writing. How could it be
otherwise? We must write what we know if we are to be at all believable. Nor does our choice in life make a difference. If what we know is business administration, then we set our story in that background. (I can see it now, an accountant, Jane, at odds with the lead of the external audit team, Bob. Will Bob find out about the padded income statement? Will Jane be successful in hiding the discrepancy? Will they find true love?) Or if you’ve been a homemaker all your life, write about that. No matter wh
at it is we know, we can be assured that millions of others share the knowledge and will relate.

But if we get all high-and-mighty, believing reality too dull to write about and try to be what we are not, our stories will not work. There’s a need for honesty in our writing that can never be manufactured.


Thank you for allowing me to wax prolific on such an interesting
subject.

Lynda M Martin


Author Spotlight: Lynda M. Martin

I recently posted a review of This Bird Flew Away by Lynda M. Martin and had the pleasure of being able to ask her a few questions as part of her blog tour going on this month. This is an interview you don't want to miss!

1. Describe what it’s like to be an author in three words.
Exciting, satisfying, naked

2. What is your favorite genre of literature?
I don’t have a favorite genre and read widely: all types of fiction (except stock romances and sci-fi fantasy,) and non-fiction, with a strong interest in history.

What I do look for is quality in writing and an avoidance of the predictable. I hate that, when you know from the first page how things are going to turn out. A book that can whisk me out of my life and into a private world people with believable and engaging characters is what I look for, something satisfying, surprising, and thought-provoking.

3. At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. Well, not true. I do remember the excitement I felt just before starting school and knowing I was going to learn to read. The refrain from childhood that best describes my life was “get your nose out of that book and do as you’re told!” I was totally indiscriminate in my reading; if it was in print and I got my hands on it, I read it. I’d slip books out of my parents’ room and devour them, most of them unsuitable for a child. I remember sharing the juicier passages from James Bond with my best friend, Debbie, and we were only in grade four at the time.

No sooner was reading under my belt than I started writing. I wrote and “self-published” (gathered together my hand-printed pages along with my own illustrations, made a cover and sewed it up with colorful yarn) as early as grade two.

My passion for story-telling and writing and the subsequent neglect of other school work and home chores led to much trouble. But no matter what edicts my parents lay down, I wouldn’t (couldn’t) quit, though I did become far more secretive.

I have to say the ability to write has served me well in life, even in the business world, though business almost killed my writing. After years of publishing such exciting works as “Internal Controls in the Payables Cycle,” going back to active, creative writing was difficult at first. I owe a lot to my editor, Kathryn Lynn Davis, for helping me rediscover my voice, and the mechanics that had grown so rusty.

4. What would you consider to be the best book you have ever read?
Different works appeal at different points in life, don’t they? That which seemed outstanding at age 21 is likely to be very different from what appeals at almost 60. My tastes are so eclectic, I can’t put my finger on any one title and say “this is the best book ever.”

I often allude to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird as one of the best written novels, technically speaking, but do I consider it the best book I’ve ever read? I can’t. I love Margaret Atwood, for example and enjoy many of her books, the early Maeve Binchy (Circle of Friends for one), the classics such as Jane Austen and company, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, James Michener, Phillipa Gregory, Agatha Christie, Defoe, loads of one-book-wonders from authors soon forgotten, so many my mind has gone blank and is unable to recall them all.

Sorry – all these words to say I can’t answer this question.

5. Describe the process of getting a book self-published.
I did not self-publish though I am considering it for the future.

6. What message, thoughts, or ideas do you want readers to take away from The Bird Flew Away?
I’d like readers to leave the story with a new understanding of childhood trauma and abuse, that it is not the “ruination of a young life,” that survivors are not emotionally crippled for life, unlike popular portrayal in the media. Considering that experts in the field estimate worldwide figures as 7 out of 10 girls and 4 out of 10 boys will experience sexual abuse before the age of sixteen, it is time we take a realistic look at this widespread problem. It also means that a large percentage of my readers will have firsthand knowledge of the subject. Perhaps if you are among that majority, and you did not receive the help you deserved, Bria’s story, which really is a road-map of the healing process embedded in a fast-paced read will bring comfort.

I also explore the meaning of love, real love not romance: the love that binds a family (and the idea that family is not restricted to the traditional) and the strength we draw from it, the love between a mother (mother-figure) and her troubled daughter, the love that can grow between a principled young man and the damaged girl he tries to help, how we are all caught up in a web of love and would not survive without it and finally, there are times the greatest expression of our love is to deny it and set our loved one free.

Above all, this story is a celebration of the human spirit and the strength within us that allows us to move on. In all the children it has been my privilege to meet, I have always been in awe of their ability to survive, to re-invent themselves on an almost daily basis and go on being children no matter what hell rages around them. I have tried to bring this spirit, their easy laughter and optimism to life in these pages.

7. Any sneak peeks at what is upcoming from you?
The sequel to This Bird Flew Away, currently under the working title Fly High; Fly Blind is currently complete in draft form and in the hands of selected readers for their input before further revision and then edit. I’ve taken the requests of my readers of the first book into account, and continue the tale of Bria and Jack, Mary and Annie, Tara and some new characters, set against an exciting legal drama. I haven’t yet decided how and when this book will be published, but it will.

Lately, I’ve found a brand new novel working its way into my mind, something completely different. I’m still laying out the skeleton, so all I can tell you it will be a reflection of my latest work, caring for seniors so they can stay in their own homes, providing them with assistance, cooking for them, shopping for them and above all meeting their need for companionship. Getting to know these people has been inspiration enough for a number of novels.

8. What is it that you like to do when you’re not reading/writing?
I like to make things: sewing, artwork (though I’m not very good,) jewelry making and cooking (and I am very good at that.) I putter in my garden, go to the beach, play with my dogs (two mastiffs,) and just hang out with my husband, Jim.




This Bird Flew Away by Lynda M. Martin - Review

I am fortunate to be participating in the This Bird Flew Away blog tour and boy is this a book
This Bird Flew Away is a phenomenal story about the tragic like of a young girl who is caught up in a world that she never would have chosen for herself.

About the Author:

A Canadian living in Florida, author, novelist, writer, editor and coach, now retired from the business world and a secondary career in child protection. Lynda's new novel This Bird Flew Away will be released January 27, 2011. She writes articles and publishes as lmmartin on hubpages, blogs at Sincerely Yours, Lynda and works with new writers as an editor and mentor."

Book Summary:

What is real love? The whole world wants to know. They should ask Bria Jean, because she has it all figured out. Opinionated, stubborn and full of woe, Bria would tell you real love is having one person you can always count on through thick and thin. For her, that's Jack. And it doesn't matter to her that she's nine and he's twenty-three-not one bit.

When, at the age of twelve, Bria disappears, he and his Aunt Mary search for her, and when she surfaces, injured, abused and traumatized, Jack fights to become her guardian with no idea of the trials ahead of him. By then, Bria is thirteen going on thirty, full of her own ideas on how her life should run and with some very fixed notions about who is in charge.

My Thoughts:

I really did enjoy this book...it is heavy reading for sure, but as a middle school teacher I can really relate to Bria because I see students like her more often than I wish were the case.

The author really has a great writing style, one that envelopes the reader from the first chapter and kept my attention throughout. The words flow so easily on the paper, and the writing almost seems effortless.

I really did think this storyline was interesting - I found myself rooting for Bria the entire way, and really struggling with her on her path to maturity despite her circumstances. I loved how the author portrayed Bria as such an advocate for herself...something younger people struggle with. This character would give anyone strength.

I really loved Jack's character as well, and thought he was unique in that he was just as tangled in his relationship with Bria despite his best intentions. He was a solid figure in Bria's life and one she could count on and that was exactly what she needed.

This is definitely a book for mature readers, some of the content is heavy but it is well-worth the read. It not only took me on a journey it also made me think about the world at large and feel compassion for the hurt that sometimes takes place.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Once Upon a Groom by Karen Rose Smith - Review

I am very excited to be picking up a genre that I haven't been able to read in a while and it really has been too long! Romance novels are such quick and easy reads and welcome among some of the heavy reading I have been doing lately.

About the Author:

Karen Rose Smith was born in Pennsylvania in the Susquehanna Valley. In college, she began writing poetry and also met her husband to be. They both started married life as teachers, but when their son was born, Karen decided to try her hand at a home decorating business. She returned to teaching for a while but changes in her life led her to writing romance fiction. Now she writes full time. Her first romance was published in 1992; her 74th novel will be published in 2011 with Harlequin Special Edition. A winner of New Jersey’s Golden Leaf Award in Short Contemporary Romance, Colorado Romance Writers Award Of Excellence for short contemporary, as well as the Phoenix Desert Rose Chapter’s Golden Quill for Traditional Romance, she has also been honored with Cataromance.com’s award for Best Special Edition. Her romances have made both the USA TODAY list and the Waldenbooks Bestseller list for Series Romance.

Married to her college sweetheart, believing in the power of love and commitment, she envisions herself writing relationship novels for a long time to come!

Readers can visit Karen for info and excerpts at: www.karenrosesmith.com.

Book Summary:

"WILL YOU MARRY ME?"
Those were the words Jenny Farber had always longed to hear Zack Decker say. But marrying him would have meant leaving the only home she'd ever really known. So instead of following her high school sweetheart to L.A., she stayed on at his family's ranch, training the horses she adored. Zack never knew about the secret she carried…or how much she still loved him. Until a near-tragedy brought him home again….

Fifteen years ago, Jenny broke Zack's heart. Seeing her again rekindles all the sweet passion they once shared. But Zack came home to Miners Bluff only to deal with a family crisis—then he's pulling up stakes again. So why is Jenny making him dream of settling down in the one place he'd vowed to leave forever?

My Thoughts:

Let me tell you, there is NOTHING like a Harlequin Romance novel...and those who have read them know EXACTLY what I am talking about. I need one every now and then to break up the heavy reading I find myself doing more and more of!

Once Upon a Groom is a cute take on lovers being reunited many years after they were torn apart by their desires for different lives. It is a charming story and I found myself rooting for them to get back together throughout the entire novel.. While somewhat predictable of an ending, this did not detract from the story and I was still surprised at some points along the way.

I LOVED both of the main characters and it became easy to identify with them and their trials and tribulations. I liked how Zach was able to get Jenny out of her comfort zone and head to California and she was able to show him how much family and roots means. They both came around, which was the entire point!

The author really does a great job with this one, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it has jump-started a renewed interest for me in romance novels.



inSyte by Greg Kiser - Review

inSyte is a really great novel about man's reliance on technology and what happens when that takes the place of human interaction. This is a fast-paced novel that really does grab a reader's attention!

Book Summary:

inSyte is a paranormal-thriller - equal parts Chrichton, Clancy and King. It’s Tampa Bay and the year is 2020. Ex-Navy SEAL Mitch Double Downing discovers how to tap into the internet with his mind. His new inSyte provides transparent access to the sum of all human knowledge recorded since hieroglyphics. More than mere information – Mitch can see into men’s hearts and be all places at all times (easy in an ‘always on’ surveillance society with fourth generation tweets). Sort of like God. But inSyte has ideas of its own as the software exposes a politician’s “divine” plan that will unwittingly slaughter millions of people. Is killing the man the only way to prevent Armageddon? The politician’s daughter would probably disagree. And she happens to be the love of Mitch’s life. Losing Kate would be too much collateral damage. At the center of the conflict is a wolf-like killer who will stop at nothing to murder the ex-Navy SEAL. And Mitch must come to grips with inSyte’s dark side – a dominating addiction that soon controls his thoughts and places him on a steep slide to self destruction.

My Thoughts:

At first glance this book seemed like a stretch for me. I have just recently gotten into the paranormal genre and so this was another opportunity for me to branch out into a genre that I don't have a lot of experience with. The cover caught my attention immediately, I thought it was a great choice for this book.

I absolutely fell right in with the main character, Mitch. I think he really is a strong main character and is easy to visualize. The other characters in the novel follow suit, and this really is a strong point of the book. It is not difficult for readers to follow and identify with all of the characters, they are well-developed.

My favorite part of this book is the idea that technology keeps growing until it takes over and while at first there is no apparent downside, it becomes clear and evident by the end of the book that it isn't as great as Mitch first believed. There is a serious underlying message here for the human race...sometimes advancements cannot take the place of basic human interaction no matter how appealing it may seem.

My favorite, and least-favorite character of the book is Cheslov...I really enjoyed learning how the author chose his name, and boy was he a compelling character. Anyone who uses a school of sharks off the coast of Florida to dispose of his corpses is going to draw some attention.

I highly recommend this bold thriller...I think it is the perfect combination of on-the-edge-of-your-seat fiction with a serious side regarding our technological future. Kudos to the author, this is a great book!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

inSyte Blog Tour - Author Spotlight: Greg Kiser

As part of Nurture Virtual Book Tourz, I am pleased to be featuring an amazing writer and an amazing book here on the blog. Greg Kiser, author of inSyte, was nice enough to let me interview him for my part of the tour. I think you will find this to be a great starting point before reading his book, which is amazing!

I am so excited to share this author with you!

1. Are the names of the characters in your novels important? How and why?

Absolutely the names are important. Are the names to your children important? I named my female lead Kate. That’s sort of a popular name for leading l
adies in movies and books and there’s a reason. Kate is a strong name, wholesome, all-American (and Irish, of course). Clean, has that long ‘a’ sound. Crisp, clear. Beautiful.

As opposed to, say, Bobbie. Bobbie happens to be one of my favorite names for a girl. I had an aunt named Bobbie and she was my favorite aunt when I was a kid. She was young and pretty and infinitely cool. But she also happened to be born in the country. I had no problem with that growing up, but I probably wouldn’t give my main character that name. Unless, of course, I wanted her to be a country girl. See?

My main antagonist, Cheslov – for that, I just needed a Russian name. I wanted to avoid the obvious names you see all the times – like Borlov or Boris or Vlad or Vasily. So I Googled and Googled and finally ran across Cheslov. As soon as I saw that name, I thought it was perfect.

For my protagonist – Mitch – I wanted a simple, single syllable, manly name.

Woody had to be sort of goofy. Molly had to be care free. Paxton had to be a little geekly. The Mayor is really just the Mayor. His name didn’t matter as much.

2. Why do you write for children instead of adults or vice-versa?

I write for adults because I want to also be entertained by what’s going on. I want to create a scene and I’m not sure how it’s going to play out, how the good guy is going to escape. Then I try to think the way I would think in a similar situation. That includes panic, frustration, exhaustion, and how that all comes out, how your feelings express themselves when you feel that way. It’s a process I go through that wouldn’t lend itself as well to children’s stories.

3. Who would play you in a film of your life?

I’m not sure I’ve lead a life that’s interesting enough for someone to play or be entertained by. I can tell you I’ve done some crazy things that might be entertaining. Some pretty stupid things when I was younger and thought I was invincible.

It would be the action that would be entertaining, it would be the great things I’ve done for other people. I can think of a few, but not enough, I’m afraid. Maybe a few times in my life where, if you had the right set up, the right director, just the right lighting and had some very handsome playing me, with the proper brooding disposition… ;).

I’ve known people in my life who were saints put on this world who probably viewed people like me through puzzled lenses. Those are the ones who deserve to have movies made about their lives. Not me, I’m afraid.

4. What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

Confidence is key. Just know that if you get in front of the keyboard at the right time of day for you, then you’ll write. Think about your characters, where the story is going to go. You don’t have to have it all planned out. It doesn’t have to be the next Da Vinci Code in terms of plot development. It just has to flow, to take on a life of it’s own.

Don’t start off thinking about how the hell you’re going to write a 300 page novel. Just start off and let the journey occur. Think about it and make your characters come alive and write their thoughts and lives and then let the interactions occur and you’ll be amazed and surprised and hopefully delighted by the results.

5. What do you find to be the biggest challenge when writing?

Creating the initial draft is the hardest. The initial overall idea of what your book is going to be about. Who are the characters, what’s the high concept, where will the conflict come from.

Once you get past that and start writing, then the rest is easy.

And once you get that initial draft completed – then it’s fun. Truly. From that point forward, you only need to polish. Just pick you’re your gem every few days and polish for a few minutes. Here someone say something funny at the mall, consider a tree limb in a park and how you might describe it, smell a familiar smell and let your mind run – all of these ‘experiences’ … feel them and bring them back into your novel as you polish and make it shine and breathe life into it. That’s the best part. Oh, it’s so hard to get that gem established at first. But once you do, it’s your gem. And it may never sell, it may never make millions of dollars – but it’s your gem and you can publish it and you can get it in print and you can show your friends and one day your children and one day, many years from now, you’ll read that work as a different person, as an old person. You’ll wonder who wrote that? You’ll be amazed all over again.

6. Do you enjoy giving interviews?

Not really. I enjoy having conversations with real people who are really interested in what I have to say. Hey, who wouldn’t?

I should say like minded people. I would love nothing more than sitting in a bar, having drinks with folks and talking about writing and publishing and novels all night long.

But interviews? Not as much fun.

7. How much impact does your childhood have on your writing?

I think your life has more impact from teenager on. I left home at 17, joined the Navy. The experiences I’ve had since leaving the Navy have influenced my novel much more than any childhood experience.

8. What inspired you to write your first book?

I listened to Rudy Giuliani speak a year after 9/11. This was in August of 2002, just under a year since 9/11. Rudy spoke to a crowd of about 5,000 folks. He described the events of that day and it was very emotional, everyone loved the guy, he was held in such admiration.

He told the crowd that every great leader will possess spirituality. And when you have millions of people that you’re serving, there’s a natural temptation to believe that God put you there, there must be a divine intervention. Then the tendency is to think that any gut feeling you have, gut decision, must be God’s decision.

So Rudy talked about how you have to avoid falling into that trap, you have to remain objective and realize you’re only human and they are your decisions.

I found that fascinating because I had never heard a politician talk like that.

I think there are a number of politicians in the US and abroad, recently and not, where pragmatism was nowhere to be found. I wanted to explore that in a novel. Come on, there’s all kinds of room for conflict.

As for publishing, I self published on Amazon. The only way to go these days ;). Really pretty simple. Of course, the average book that self publishes on Amazon sells 100 copies to, you guessed it, friends and business associates and the like. So the trick is – how do you market the book further, drive sales.

At the end of the day, it’s all about word of mouth. So you have to get your book out there and it has to be good and then you need for word of mouth to help.

So – be sure it’s ready for prime time before you decide to self publish. I waited 3 years after my 1st draft because I wanted my novel to be as good as it could possibly be. Along the way I had some serious people read it and provide candid feedback. Enough good feedback to know I was onto something, enough bad feedback to keep me busy writing and rewriting and (yes) deleting!

9. Do you have a specific writing style?

Real. Direct. I spent many, many hours searching and deleting ‘had’. I rewrote to put as much as I could into present tense. I read through sentences and deleted words that were unnecessary. I read all the dialogue aloud to ensure I had contractions and cuss words but not too much of either because I wanted it to be real.

10. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I had a close friend in high school who influenced my reading. We both read a lot of sci-fi back then. Isaac Asimov was huge. Some Robert Heinlein. Stranger in a Strange Land – who could forget that?

Then somebody turned me onto Stephen King. He had a new novel out called The Stand. Wow – that book rocked my world. I was in my late teens and a friend of my mothers handed me the book and said it was interesting. I remember thinking – this book is about 800 pages and some woman in her forties thinks it’s interesting. I don’t think so.

But I started reading it because I had nothing else to do one night. No TV, no ipods, no internet. This was the dark ages of the late 70’s. Well, we had TV but not in my room.

I finished the novel in maybe 3 days.

So Stephen King has been very influential to my writing. And Thomas Harris. I think Cheslov is a cross between Randall Flag in The Stand and Hannibal.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Once We Were Kings by Ian Alexander - REVIEW

This book has been dubbed an "epic fantasy" and wow, this book was definitely EPIC! I cannot believe how much I enjoyed this read, and being not much of a fantasty fan it exceeded ALL of my expectations! Pick this book up, you won't be disappointed.


Book Summary:


Two kingdoms, five centuries, one destiny.

In a world where the Sojourners, a nearly extinct race with preternatural abilities struggle to preserve their faith and heritage, destiny thrusts two youths from opposing nations into the heart of a centuries-old conflict.

Render, an orphan from the outskirts of the culturally enlightened Kingdom of Valdshire Tor, escapes slavery and seeks the truth about his true identity only to discover a web of conspiracies. This quest leads to the revelation of his uncanny ability to wield the destructive forces of nature.

Ahndien, sole survivor of a heinous raid on her peaceful village in the Eastern Kingdom of Tian Kuo, embarks on a journey to find her father, now a captive of Torian troops. What she uncovers surpasses anything she can imagine as she masters the ability to manipulate fire.

Guided by shape-shifting spirits, Render and Ahndien’s fates collide when first they meet as mortal enemies. However, to save their people from annihilation, they must unite both kingdoms against a terrifying enemy that threatens to destroy both realms.

But how can a young slave and a peasant bring sworn enemies of half a millennium together?

ONCE WE WERE KINGS: The first book in a saga of destiny and redemption, in a world of dying hope

My Thoughts:

As I mentioned above, this book in one word: EPIC! I am so taken with it, I absolutely could NOT put it down.

Right from the first page, the author does two amazing things...he grads the reader's attention AND he allows you to form a STRONG connection with one of the main characters, Render.

There are so many valuable lessons that the characters learn and so many different topics that are addressed in this novel. There is quite literally, something for everyone. I cannot imagine a reader who wouldn't find something in this book that they identify with! And what made this novel even more amazing was how the characters developed along the way and how they dealt with each situation they found themselves in. I think this might have been the strongest positive about the book.

Another storng point of this novel was the writing - Alexander's writing style flows nicely and is almost poetic. The language parallels the time period beautifully and perfectly accompanies the characters and how a reader would imagine them to be if they were here in real life. This is another driving force behind why this book is such a great read, and it makes it that much more impossible to put down

I am highly recommending this book to anyone and everyone, it is a great read and I look forward to more from Ian Alexander in the future!


Happy Reading!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Author Guest Post - Once We Were Kings by Ian Alexander

I am so excited to be participating in a blog tour hosted by Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Publicity featuring Ian Alexander's book Once We Were Kings. My review will be up on the blog tomorrow, but I am eager to share a great guest post from Ian Alexander himself! Enjoy...

THE EVER CHANGING LIFE OF A WRITER

By: Ian Alexander
Author of the bestselling epic-fantasy novel ONCE WE WERE KINGS

Just when you think you’ve learned the ropes and mastered your system, things change. Isn’t that just the frustration of life? You can lament the fact that things keep changing and throw your hands up in defeat. Or you can embrace it and use the changes to your advantage.

As a writer, some things will never change. Writing involves creating characters for stories that challenge them and cause dramatic changes which reveal their true nature. So you always have to come up with the basic elements: character, setting, conflict.

However, one of the things that keep changing is the business of publishing.

There was once a time when in order to get your book published you had to print out all 400+ pages, find the name and mailing address of an editor, type and print out your query letter, your synopsis, your SASE (if you don’t know what that is, then you’re either a very young writer, or not a writer at all) and pack them all into a box or large enough envelope and drag it down to your local post office.

I remember a year when I submitted about 23 short stories to Pocket Books one year. I sent them all via priority mail, but at $3.75 each, it really added up. And this is not to mention that it took about 30 minutes just to print everything and pack it up. If you were sending a novel to say 10 editors, then the printing time for each manuscript would be about 10 times as long PER copy.

As you can see, it could easily take an entire day to submit your manuscripts to several editors the old fashioned way. Nothing wrong with this, some editors still insist on this method.
But then things started to change.

Writers began daring to think outside the proverbial box and break the “rules” and “guidelines” of submission with the hope that their books were good enough to cause the editors to overlook the fact that the submission guidelines were overlooked (e.g. send hardcopy only, no unagented submissions, etc.) They started sending their query packages via email. GASP! Yes, email.
Soon, many editors began to see that this was not only a “green” method, but a more efficient one as well. I used to send paper submissions and got very little response. Not even rejection letters. But as soon as I started sending email queries, I began to get replies within days. Some of them were form rejections, others were requests for full manuscripts, and still others were very encouraging rejections which praised my work, but stated their publishing line was not a good fit based on the genres they publish.

Eventually, I gave up paper queries altogether. It became an economic impossibility to sustain, and it took way too much time. Most of all, it yielded the least results.

Writing as my evil twin, Joshua Graham, I sent email queries for my book DARKROOM and it was eventually acquired by Simon & Schuster/Howard Books and will be published in May 2011.
This is just one of the many ways the publishing industry has changed. It may not be the most dramatic change, but it has made my life a lot easier. And it works.

===============================================================

IAN ALEXANDER is Joshua Graham’s “good” twin and the author of ONCE WE WERE KINGS, an Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble bestselling epic fantasy. As Joshua Graham, he’s written BEYOND JUSTICE, which won the 2011 International Book Awards and has been a top bestselling legal thriller on Amazon and #1 bestseller in three Barnes & Noble ebook categories.
ONCE WE WERE KINGS is the first book in the Sojourners Series. The hardcover edition is slated for release Fall 2011.

Joshua Graham’s next Suspense Thriller DARKROOM will be released May 2012 by Simon & Schuster/Howard Books.

For updates and entertaining interaction, please visit at the following social network sites:
Visit the official Ian Alexander website at www.ianalex.com
Twitter: @IanAlex77
On Facebook: http://on.fb.me/IanAlex

ONCE WE WERE KINGS $3.99
For nook: http://bit.ly/jeio82
For Kindle: http://amzn.to/iAWsMm
For Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/km9icp
For iBooks: http://bit.ly/k7F5ML
For every reader: Smashwords: http://bit.ly/lUlOM8

Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ghellow Road by T.H. Waters - REVIEW

Book Summary:

Ghellow Road is a literary diary of a young girl's journey through the tangled labyrinth that is her life. Theresa's story begins in a large midwestern city where she is born to loving parents in 1965. For a brief moment in time, her life is full, as is her heart, and the world is hers to receive without consequence. As time passes and Theresa grows, supernatural forces begin to shape her existence, no matter how carefully her father colors the empty spaces of her world. After a series of tragic events, Theresa and her family seek refuge in a small Minnesota town nestled near the shores of Rainy Lake. She creates a new life for herself there, sharing adventures with friends and riding the ups and downs of adolescence. Yet through it all, her mother remains forever lost in the prison of her own mind and forever lost to Theresa. The young girl feels as though she is leading a double life, one that no one else could possibly understand. She begins to peer at the world as if looking through a thick, black veil, never certain which pieces are illusion and which are not. Through the kindness and support of the townspeople, She eventually summons the strength to survive. This is a story of tragedy and triumph. This is the story of my life.

My Thoughts:

Wow, what a book! I am truly sorry to have had to put this one down. What a truly compelling story, from beginning to end.

The author, I infer, is telling the story of her childhood and it is one filled with sadness, loneliness, and hardship - but she eventually rises above it all. This is a story that you fall into from the very beginning in their small modest house in what ended up being the most normal part of Theresa's childhood. You end with her entering the world after ten years of uncertainty and instability.

I cannot even imagine how it must have felt to feel so unwanted and to be juggled about with no inclination where you might end up next, and in the most formative years of a person's life.

The author has a really great writing style and even though the book jumped around in time, it was easy to follow and doesn't leave gaps for readers. I simply couldn't put it down and it kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what would become of someone who was given so many opportunities to be a failure...and didn't.

The characters were all painted perfectly and you really gain a clear picture of how this family became so disjointed.

I heartily recommend this book, you will not be disappointed.






Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Perfectly Crazy by Mitzi Penzes - REVIEW

I recently reviewed Perfectly Crazy by Mitzi Penzes for a book tour :)





Book Summary (Goodreads):

Sexy, stylish and successful, Nell always prided herself on her common sense. So why is she suddenly crazy for David, her married best friend of twenty years? With a single kiss, Nell s perfect Californian life turns upside down. All the safety of her well-adjusted marriage to a respected plastic surgeon and her growing fashion business pale in comparison to the passion experienced in that kiss. Can she go on as before, or will she make the biggest change of her life? Will she face disaster and tragedy, or perhaps adventure and a second chance? Or possibly both? Find out from this fast paced book where the sceneries are changing as fast as the movies. Life is full of surprises and challenges that anyone would call perfectly crazy yet they may become reality one day. Or will they?

My Thoughts:


The book summary is right, this is a quick and fast-paced read that one can finish uninterrupted in a day or less.

It is refreshing to see a story about a second chance at love, even after devastating loss. I really felt for Nell and Jack's children because what they were going through must have been awful and they really didn't have a lot of support from everyone in their life.

There are a lot of hard issues tackled in this book, death, suicide, extra-marital issues, infertility, and a host of others. The author did a great job packing so much into such a quick read.

This would be a great one to throw in your beach bag to go on vacation with!


Monday, September 5, 2011

Hurricane Irene - The Aftermath

Well, I am here writing this post so you can infer that I made it through the hurricane....but barely! We just got our power restored after nine LONG, HOT days without and boy that is something I will always remember to NOT take for granted!

I am so excited to get back to blogging, reviewing, and catching up on the world I have missed out on for the last week and a half...but wanted to share with you all what it has been like here.

Hurricane Irene was NOT predicted to be awful for us, just some 40-50 mph winds and rain. Saturday night, all you-know-what broke loose and we realized that this was far stronger than the predictions. About midway through the storm, my husband looked at me and said, "did you hear that tree?" Our our window (of course it was dark, so this picture was taken the next day), we saw this:

This used to be a huge triple-oak tree that stood beautifully in our front yard (that is the neighbor's house behind the tree) and it is just so sad that we lost it. What is even sadder is that we discovered through all of this that a tree has to hit a dwelling on your property to be covered under insurance. It didn't, so tree removal fell to us, and it ain't cheap.

As we dug out from under our own tree, we started to get out and saw images like these:

This was taken as we were driving to my dad's house...this was nothing, we drove over and under so many downed power lines it almost seemed unreal.


Nine days without power can start doing something negative to your mental state...I never realized how indebted I truly am to Benjamin Franklin and all the others who have helped to make this truly life-altering invention a possibility. I will never ever take it for granted again, because to be without means a complete change in the way you live. And with two kids, that was like adding fuel to the fire!

I am blessed to be sitting here writing this right now, and am so excited to be getting back to all things bookish - and school starts this week too, so here's to new beginnings :)