Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Guest Post: Xandra James

Today's guest is Xandra James, author of Reluctant Revenge and Shadow Justice. Xandra James has always wanted to write romance books. Even when she was sneaking peaks at the hot bits, too young to fully appreciate them, she dreamt of writing her own.
Now, older and wiser, she's got the opportunity to project her slightly dark and wacky, British sense of humor onto others, whilst still writing the hot bits - bonus!
When not writing, Xandra is thinking of excuses as to why she shouldn't be doing the housework, looking after a husband and cats that refuse to pick up after themselves and climbing the mountain in her house that's affectionately called her tbr pile.
She currently holds the crown for Queen Procrastinator – something she's very proud of – so you can usually find her online, somewhere, when she really should be writing.

Welcome Xandra!

Thanks so much for having me on your blog! I love finding new places to visit ;) Today I'm talking about that perfect romance hero…

Writing romance books is, I admit, a dream come true. I've been reading them since before I could truly appreciate all the scenes within *cough*. They became such a big thing for me that I wondered whether I would actually one day meet my own alpha hero or be let down terribly by the idiots that I'd come into contact with so far. Had I ruined myself in looking for true love? Yeah, I was a corny kid at times, way too sensible for my own good ;)
But who of you out there imagined themselves finding a man in real life exactly like you fell in love with in the book? I bet there's loads of you out there. I know I did. Even now, many years after marrying, I let myself imagine falling in love with the man I'd just read about (Okay, don't tell hubby… he already thinks I'm a little strange! Lol). But what really makes a perfect hero?
For me they'd have to be fantastic looking – probably dark hair, gorgeous eyes and a killer smile. He needs to be passionate, intelligent, protective, strong and capable. But most important to me? A sense of humour. I'm one of those people who love to laugh and will try and smile at whatever life throws at me. Of course, it doesn't always work, but it certainly helps.
As it turns out I did find my perfect man, despite the rose tinted glasses I had on when I was younger whilst reading loads of romance books! He isn't perfect; he definitely has his share of flaws. But he's as sexy as hell, got beautiful eyes and makes me die with his sense of humour! ;D
He is my perfect hero. As sickening as that sounds, LOL. And I'll use a lot of his traits when I'm writing about those hot alpha males. Well, they say write what you know, right? For instance, in Reluctant Revenge, Nash is one sexy guy. Although physically based on Hugh Jackman (okay, I may be a little bit obsessed) his sexiness, for me, comes out in his sense of humour. His passion and vulnerability are all there for you to see but that sparkle in his eye makes my toes curl ;)
So now you've listened to me talk about what I like, tell me what you find sexy in man.
I always wanted intelligence in my man, and I also wanted one with the same religious beliefs as myself. I found all that and more in husband!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Guest Post: 10 Powerful Tips for Training Unstoppable Children by Patti Gibble

Today's guest is Patti Gibble, author of 10 Powerful Tips for Training Unstoppable Children. Her topic of choice is "How to Get a Good Man." Patti Gibble has a Master of Education degree and Bachelor of Arts in Education. She is a trained ministry worker who has directed Children’s worship and Kids’ church programs at a mega church. Patti grew up in Orlando, Florida where she worked at Disney World. She now writes books and spends time with the Holy Spirit in Tucson, Arizona.Here is a synopsis of her new book:
          10 Powerful Tips for Training Unstoppable Children is a must have book for parents, teachers, grandparents and anybody who is involved in training children. Unstoppable children are children who will not be stopped by the enemy, but by the power of God will push through and obtain the victorious life. Use these ten powerful tips to help give children the opportunity to live the life God has planned for them. Powerful tips like love, honor, and salvation are so essential for kids to succeed in this world. Buy this book today – for yourself, your children and other people that you love. You will not regret it!
Book Trailer

Connect with the author:

                                                         How to Get a Good Man

I have been married for 25 years to a good man and he takes care of me! This man works while I stay home, take care of my daughter, volunteer at the local church and write my books. I am very happy with my man and I highly recommend that you get a good man of your own.
When I was younger, inexperienced and looking for a man, I took some advice from some ladies who were older and wiser than I. This advice saved my life! The first piece of advice I got was to marry a man who was a Christian. To do this I needed to find a man who truly was Christian in word and deed. He needed to be a man who followed the principles written in the Bible. I needed a man who would be committed to a long term relationship with one woman, a man who believed in the institution of marriage, and one who would be loyal and faithful to one woman at all costs. The second piece of advice I got was to marry a man that was younger than I. The woman giving the advice said that women live longer than men, so I should marry a man who was younger than I and then he would maybe not die early. The last piece of advice I listened to was to marry a man who was not necessarily a charming, good-looking guy with no substance behind his looks. I was told that good looking guys may be appealing but the appeal wears off and then you are stuck with a fool who can’t get a job anywhere and he would end up at local gas station pumping gas for the rest of his life. So I went looking for a man who met all three of these requirements.
To insure that I married a Christian man I was set on entering a relationship with only Christian men. I would date a man once, find out if he met my standards and then dump any guy who did not meet the criteria after only one date. I was radical about my standards. I did not spend time looking for a younger guy because this was not the top on my list but when I found out that a guy was younger I was happy to date him. Finally, I always had in the back of my mind that good looking guys may not make the best husbands unless there was something behind all the muscles and charm. I had to dig deep on this one to find out whether the guy was serious about his life and future or just all full of hot air.
I found everything I wanted in the man I married. He is a Christian. He is loyal, faithful and has high standards. He is 4 plus years younger than I; he is smart, has a good job and funny. He is my big teddy bear! And I like it that way.

©2012 by Patti Gibble

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review: Hurry Less Worry Less for Moms by Judy Christie

Book Details:
Hurry Less Worry Less for Moms
By Judy Christie
Genre: Christian Living
Published 2011, Abingdon Press
Paperback, 155 pages
ISBN: 9780687659159

          Author Judy Christie contends that, while the perfect mom doesn't exist, there are successes in the lives of many mothers who have learned to rely upon God and to get back up when they stumble. Within this book readers will recognize many of those kinds of achievements within their own families and find new inspiration and encouragement for moving forward with greater faith, joy, and love.
This is a short book with only 10 chapters and each chapter reads like a devotional. The chapters each begin with an "Encouraging Word," an "Everyday Step" and "A Mom's Thoughts," and ends with "Mom's Quiet Corner," which contains a summary of the chapter in the form of a "Busy Mom's Tip," "A Mom's Special Scripture," "Mom to Mom," and a "Prayer for the Journey." Peppered throughout each chapter are related verses and useful advice from the author and other anonymous mothers. Each chapter also encourages journaling with appropriate questions, plus the book ends with a Discussion Guide that is meant to be used in a group setting among other moms.
I enjoyed reading this book slowly, savoring the words and advice from so many other moms. With three daughters of my own, all under the age of five, I can use all of the tips on less hurry and worry I can get. I may even pass this book on to other moms who need the same kind of encouragement that I got from reading this lovely book.

The Cover: The photo on the cover gives me a feeling of peace and relaxation, which is exactly the focus of the book.

First Line: "As a young working mother, a college friend found herself with an important meeting on her schedule -- and no babysitter."
This is a scenario that many mothers can relate to, and is a great way to begin the book.

Favorite Quote: "Know that God's arms are wrapped around you in the same way that you comfort your own child."

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher for review purposes.*

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Guest Post: Windswept by Cynthia Racette

Today's guest is Cynthia Racette, author of Windswept. Cynthia has been writing all her life, as a newspaper reporter, editor and novelist. She even asked for (and received) a play typewriter for Christmas when she was about ten.
To be near her children and granddaughters, she and her newly retired hubby, moved to the Buffalo, NY area. Through her daughter, who is also a writer, she got hooked up with RWA (Romance Writers of America) and good things started to happen.
She is now writing more novels, taking lots of trips and relaxing by the pool on gorgeous summer days in Western, NY.

Here is a blurb of the novel:
          Windswept is a romantic novel of redemption and family values and fighting for what is important. Sailing Windswept has always been a family affair and many of Caroline and David Hartford’s fondest memories have taken place on Chesapeake Bay sailing in all kinds of conditions and exploring the bay.
When husband David is unfaithful and commits the ultimate betrayal by bringing his mistress aboard Windswept, Caroline’s world is shattered. He leaves her and she is forced to rely solely on herself for the first time in her life. She has to be a single parent to her daughter, Lily, and to decide if she can forgive David for tearing her family apart.
As David and Caroline work to put their marriage back together, events and other people conspire against them, over and over. Their relationship begins to heal, but the couple is caught in a horrific storm and waterspout on the bay, heading straight for Windswept. They want a chance to love again but Mother Nature might have other ideas.
Today, Cynthia wants to talk about continuance of books in print. Take it away, Cynthia!

                                           What Will Happen to the Print Book?
An article in msn this morning has immediate ramifications for us as authors. The question is, what will happen to the print book now that e-books have begun taking over the market? Will it disappear altogether? Will publishers try to struggle on, only to find that maintaining presses for the few copies of print books needed will be too costly, causing it to fold, like Kodak and its ilk?
It's impossible to predict the way everything will react to future markets, but we have some recent past examples to show us how things just might come down. The literary market has actually been slow to respond to the digital age. Music and business correspondence succumbed to the megabyte long ago. There are aspects of print books, though, which may enable it to continue on for some time in specialized forms.
There are, after all, certain features of the printed book which make it more inviting to the casual reader and definitely valuable to the connoisseur. Elements of books that appeal to readers, like illustrations, book covers, typesetting, and other qualities specific to a given print edition are called 'paratexts,' as expounded by Gérard Genette. Bibliophiles argue over whether they are parts of the texts or merely add-ons to enhance it.
The major proponents of keeping some printed books do so for the artistic or theoretic value of the book because some aspects simply cannot be translated to pixels. The authors or proponents of these books claim that the paratextual elements of their books are as significant as the texts themselves. An e-book format would not do justice to such a book. Some first editions of this type are almost artistic treasures as much as they are texts.
There are a number of fine arts presses, both new and of long standing that cater to this kind of book and it is likely that they will continue to appeal to the nostalgic consumer who finds value, both monetarily and personal, in exquisitely presented print books.
As for mass produced paperbacks, they will probably go where they've always gone—household bookshelves, boxes in cellars, garage sale specials and the all-American county dump. Because, as stated in the beginning, regular publishers will not be able to afford to keep printing books when the demand becomes too low. The transition will take time, however. If you have some beloved favorite books on your shelves that you want to keep you'd best not let your spouse bring them out to the garage sale year after next because who knows if you'll be able to replace that beloved copy of Jane Eyre by then.
Some references to the MSN article by Michael Agresta
While I think that Cynthia has some good points in this article, I think there is much more to this topic than just comparing the print format to the way of Kodak. Books and the printed word have been around for the length of recorded history - much longer than even the existence of the printing press. I am talking about scrolls, stone tablets, you name it.  Despite the prevalence of technology in the digital age, much of the globe can not afford the technology to access e-books. The printed word is hard to make disappear once it is in existence, and it can outlast lifetimes of owners. With e-books, the data is temporary and easily out-dates itself with each technological "update". Plus, books are not simply about how they look - people cherish books for their knowledge - in an unchangeable, solid form - as well as for their kinship, familiarity, and yes, even for their smell. The traditional family Bible is a perfect example of this.
Thank you for your words on such a volatile topic, Cynthia, and good luck with your new book!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Guest Post and Giveaway: A Skinwalker's Legacy by Shae Wynters

Today's guest is Shae Wynters, author of A Skinwalker's Legacy. Shae Wynters is the pen name of an award winning, best-selling author who has been writing for more than twenty years and has been professionally published for eleven years. A bonafide vampire, fantasy, sensual romance and speculative fiction lover, Shae sometimes meshes all these elements together for a rip roaring story to entertain her spectrum of readers. Shae will be giving away 10 e-copies of her book, so be sure to enter in the rafflecopter form below!

Here is a blurb of her new book:
          Lexia Torrance is a young woman with the gift of second sight. Her ability allows the Phoenix Police Department to solve crimes based on the gift of touch. Her latest case leads her to the body of a local man left with the killers' calling card—an emblem burned on the victim's chest in the shape of a sun. She soon finds herself facing five men looking for the necklace with the same emblem…and they are determined to find her as well...
Galen Cortes knows the immense ability deep inside Lexia as well as her destiny to take the throne as Skinwalker Chieftess to the southwest tribe. As a guard of the tribe, Galen has sworn to protect Lexia and teach her the truth about her powers. Despite what his heart feels, he knows a guard isn’t supposed to get too close to a betrothed Chieftess. But his fiery passion may soon override his rational thought.
With a murderous Lycan tribe on their tail and only a few hours to spare once Lexia learns her birthright, Galen will only have a day to teach her what those before her learned in a lifetime. Before their time is over, passion will erupt between the guard and his ruler, a fateful battle will dawn between two tribes and a new Chieftess will arise within the nocturnal hours…
Shae is here to talk about the legend of the skinwalker. Take it away, Shae!

                                                   The Legacy and the Legend
The Skinwalker legend of the Navajo has always fascinated me. From the fascinating stories themselves to the beautiful culture and colors of the tribe itself, the setting was ripe for creating a fun suspenseful and sexy tale of forbidden love, unsolved crimes and an inherited title.
I've always loved fantasy fiction and when paranormal romance and urban fantasy romance came about, I was ecstatic to dive in and tell my own stories. Second to these was my love of romantic suspense. I must admit, I'm a huge fan of the Lifetime suspense movies that come out in marathon form on the weekends and in blocks on the movie channel. I also love reading sexy suspense stories, namely Suzanne Brockmann's Tall Dark and Deadly series and the Troubleshooters and any Genesis Press suspense books I could get my hands on. Mixing the suspense aspects with paranormal/fantasy genre made this a super fun book to write.
The story revolves around Lexia Torrance, a young woman who fights with her ability to see crimes after they happen along with her changing body as her Skinwalker genes take over. One day she 'sees' a crime that changes her life: a group of men commit a murder while searching for her. Her life is thrown into chaos when the men find her. Thankfully she has a guardian who has been watching her over the years. Her guardian is Galen Cortes, a half fae half Skinwalker guard of the Southwest tribe. Galen takes Lexia to a safe location where he helps her hone her skills. He also tells her of the dangerous, murderous prince who betrothed to her and is eager to use her in usurping the tribe. Time is running out for Lexia to hone her Skinwalker skills while both are falling in love with each other.
I loved writing A Skinwalker's Legacy. I had a chance to create my own world with it's own rules and I had a chance to throw in a few twists and turns that hopefully caught some readers off guard. I hope readers enjoy the tale and look forward to more possible works in the world of A Skinwalker's Legacy!

Lexia Torrance didn’t know when the soft classical music streaming from her television disappeared into the silence of her mind. Her conscious thought transitioned into the hushed, wistful nature of her dream state. She was like a cinematographer, now standing back and watching herself buried under the covers.
She was somewhere else.
The shadows creeping around the rooms told her it was nighttime. A warm glow of red, yellow and orange flickered from around the corner. She felt herself floating toward that room and as she turned the corner, she saw a tall figure.
The tall man wore a red flannel coat and blue jeans. His long, dark hair fell down his back. He was large, a mixture of both muscle and body fat beneath his bronze skin. He turned around with a gasp and his expression quickly turned to anger. A strong handsome face stared back at her. The prominent bone structure told her of his Navajo ancestry. Perhaps he was from the same local tribe as her grandmother. He wore a colorful beaded necklace that reminded her of the one with the same design that her father had given her.
She couldn’t turn to see who he was looking at, but she felt them. Thick tension, bitter and black as ink filled the air like a dark shadow. Something felt familiar about their presence but she couldn’t quite figure it out. She watched the man before her stand to attention. His face, a shade of golden brown with strong cheekbones and a lined jaw was tense. His dark brown eyes focused ahead with a veil of hardness that was a visible defense.
“Where is it?” the man asked, gritting his teeth.
The man before her shook his head. “You have no right to be here. Leave now and I won’t tell the council what you came for or what you’re doing.”
“You know who you’re speaking to, Micah?”
“A deranged power hungry prince, that’s whom. I won’t help you on your sick quest for power. Not over the tribe or her.”
Laughter filled the air, making her shiver from the ominous edge. “You have some moxie. I see why they gave it to you. But now it’s time to give up the necklace before I really get pissed.”
The man folded his arms and stood tall. “No one but the next Chieftess is to have possession of it. I’ve seen the way you look at it at the ceremonies. Like a power hungry lion waiting to catch its prey. Something is wrong with you and I’ll see that the Chieftess knows about it before she makes a mistake.”
The man named Micah made an attempt to move but was stopped by two other men in dark suits.
“Now, now Micah. You can’t stop what is already in motion. Either you’re a part of it or you’re a victim. I’ve given you one chance for the former. Now here is your second. I want the trinket I came for and since you’re so enamored with being the good warrior, I want the girl as well. Where is she? I know she lives in town.”
“She isn’t ready yet. She needs training.”
“You know the fate of the one who stands between a Skinwalker and his mate?”
“You mean a predator and his prey.”
That eerie laughter pierced the air again. “Whichever you choose. The end result will still be the same.”
Micah’s gaze darted from each man. Lexia wished she could keep up the count of how many were in the room. Even more, she wished she could turn to see the man speaking. Something told her she had to know and remember.
“I suppose you know where she is then?”
The man’s face grew blank before he shook his head. “You won’t find her.”
The scene flashed and two men held Micah down on the ground. His shirt was open, baring his thick chest, while a smoking hand clutching an unseen item branded a mark on his heart. His screams echoed throughout her dreams. She had to wake up. Why couldn’t she wake up?
She moved back to get a look at the man’s torturer. But as he moved into her line of vision, a loud ringing filled her ears.
Lexia’s eyes shot open into the darkness of the bedroom. The wireless phone blared to life on the table next to her bed. She looked outside the window where the night still claimed the city of Phoenix. The clear sky gave a view of a half-moon amidst the tall trees aligning her backyard. It took her a moment to realize that whoever was calling this late wouldn’t give up until she answered.
She pushed herself off the bed with a sigh and yanked the phone off the cradle.
“Yeah? Torrance here,” she said. Her voice was still heavy with sleep, and her mind still hummed with the loud, ear-piercing scream. Heat crept in her face as if she felt the man’s skin burning away before her eyes. It felt so real. But it wasn’t…was it?
“Sorry to wake you, kid,” the familiar voice of her boss, Rudy, echoed over the receiver. “I tried your office first but when you weren’t there, I figured you already crashed for the night. I would’ve let you sleep this one out but we’re going to need your expertise. Dead body here looks like a ritual killing by a cult or gang. I’m running some tests to see if it fits any initiation MO’s and we should have the results by morning. The vic’s place looks like a robbery but there aren’t any prints or signs that anyone was here besides the victim. No forced entry and only one room looks like a hurricane flew through it. Obviously they were looking for something and had an idea where it was.”
Lexia wiped her eyes. “You think they knew each other?”
“It’s possible but only speculation at this point.”
“Sounds like you guys ran tests already.” Lexia tried to focus on what little information she could deduce from Rudy’s description despite her mind replaying pieces of the dream.
“What little we could but it would sure help if you could feel the place out for us. Tell us what they were looking for and when they hit. Things like that. I estimate it happened an hour ago so they couldn’t have gotten too far.”
“All right,” Lexia leaned over to look at the digital clock on her nightstand. The red numbers blurred but she blinked a few times to clear her vision. Twelve forty-five. “I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
She waited until Rudy finished giving her the vic’s address before she bid goodbye and hung up. Her mind was still on cloud nine as she tossed the covers off the bed and swung her feet onto the carpet.
The room had somehow grown warmer since she fell asleep as if a fire was burning nearby. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in Allegretto played from the digital music channel on the television. The light from the set illuminated her entire bedroom, cascading everything in a flicker of light against the darkness.
What just happened?
That was the first time she dreamed something so real. Normally when she fell into one of those dream states so quickly, it was when she was getting a feeling at a crime scene.
Lexia pulled her hairband out and shook her silky strands free around her shoulders. As she combed her fingers through her hair, she tried to coax herself back to the present. This was no time to have her head in the clouds over some crazy dream. She needed all her senses working tonight if she was going to be of any help to Rudy and his team.
Clearing her mind, Lexia immediately replaced any traces of the dream with the preparation for her investigation. First, she had to find something comfortable to wear. She had a feeling this was going to be a long night.
* * * *
Lexia pushed past the crowd of police officers on the dimly lit porch and stepped into the bright living room. She made sure to keep her ID card handy after she flashed it to the cops at the front of the house. Onlookers and neighbors had already gathered outside. Despite the amount of robberies in the city, it was always a circus whenever a crime took place. Unfortunately, this was another that ended with a person losing their life.
Once the cops recognized her, she ducked under the yellow tape lining that stretched across the front yard and headed straight for the busy home. It was a nice one-story modern, Spanish-style house situated on the outskirts of Paradise Valley and Phoenix. Pretty nifty place not too far away from her own home. For that, she was thankful for the short drive on half a night’s sleep.
“Welcome to the party, Lex.” Detective Rudolpho “Rudy” Marra smiled widely as he spotted her. He ran a meaty hand over the smooth bare patch in the middle of his thinning gray head of hair. His smile was warm, accentuating a large round face, rosy cheeks and a dark neatly combed mustache. He often joked about his round frame, attributing it to his love of donuts, sweets and his wife’s Italian home cooking.
Lex had to give it to him there. His wife’s cooking was worth risking a heart attack. “What do we have here that couldn’t wait until morning?” she asked, gazing at her surroundings.
“Vic’s name is Micah Cozel. Forty-eight year old single male. American Indian descent. Lived a quiet life and kept mostly to himself.”
Lexia barely heard the rest of Rudy’s list after he mentioned the name. Yes, it was a long shot that it was the same Micah from her dream, no matter how close the description sounded, but a coincidence…she didn’t think so.
It took her a moment to realize Rudy was looking right at her.
“Ahh,” she cleared her throat. “Where’d he work?”
Rudy shrugged. “Volunteered at the local reservation and worked as an engineer.”
“Does it say which one?”
Rudy pulled out a notepad from his pocket and checked it before shaking his head. “Doesn’t mention which one but there’s a settlement outside of Avondale. Apparently, he goes there for volunteer work but nothing beyond that. Anyway, from what we could gather on short notice, he hadn’t been to work in the past day or so.”
Lexia exhaled. “Okay. I’ll do my best to see if I can dig up anything. Where’s the body?”
Rudy turned his head toward the back of the home. “Down the hall. Just follow the party. Everything is still as is. Just be careful to—”
“I know, I know. Watch where I step.”
He grinned, puffing out his already swollen cheeks. “Sorry to wake you so early, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like this.”
Lexia’s stomach turned. Once again, her overactive mind imagined the worst before her eyes had a chance to confirm the situation. She nodded slowly and told herself to suck it up before heading in. “I’ll take a look.”
She stepped forward, ready to enter the bright spacious family room when a loud voice broke through the hall.
“Marra, what are you doing letting a civvie in here? This is a confidential investigation,” a deep voice boomed behind her.
Lexia looked over her shoulder and met the bright blue gaze of a middle-aged man with thin, dark hair with silver at his temples. His eyes narrowed as he surveyed her from head to toe before he continued his tirade.
“She doesn’t look like an officer so I think you better talk fast.”
“Easy, Jerry,” Rudy turned to her, rolling his eyes. “He’s new. I’ll explain to him and you go on in ahead.”
“She—what the…”
Jerry continued to stutter as Rudy eased him back into the hall.
Lexia shook her head. The same thing happened with the last partner Rudy had to bring up-to-date. Right about now she suspected he’d be explaining how she could sense things. She was often called out of her office to sniff things out, so to speak, and assist the local police on criminal investigations. She wasn’t psychic or anything but her intuition and keen senses helped the police figure out the how’s and why’s of cases.
Their voices disappeared the moment she saw the body and his placement in front of a fireplace. It couldn’t be. Right away, she recognized the dead man, Micah, lying amidst the rubble of books, furniture and debris. His long dark hair was splayed across the wood floor. With charred ashes in the fireplace behind him, she could tell it had been in use recently. She walked closer, careful not to step on any bit of the debris lining the floor.
The female cop crouching over him peered up at her with a thin, neatly manicured, raised eyebrow.
“It’s okay,” Lexia said, holding her hands up. “I’m Lexia Torrance, special assistant to Detective Rudy Marra. I’m just taking a survey of things to see if anything pops up that can give you guys a start.”
“Well, have fun,” the cop responded, rising to her feet with a sigh. She snapped her latex gloves off. “Looks as if his body burned from the inside out. His skin is almost completely scorched. There’s a strange intricate design on his chest there. Never seen anything like it before. I suspect it’s something to do with the occult. Maybe an underground cult in town doing some kind of weird initiation for its members.” She shrugged. “In any event, we probably won’t find anything conclusive until the M.E. can take a look at him. See if you can find anything to give us a lead, huh?”
Before Lex could answer, the woman turned toward the hallway. “All right gentlemen, let’s give the psychic some room to do her work.”
Lexia suppressed a cringe. She forced a smile toward the female cop who patted her on the shoulder before taking her leave. She was not a psychic. She couldn’t see the future, only the past and the scenes came in waves of emotion. If anything, she would be an empath but even that couldn’t describe the intuition she had come to rely on. That and the heavy burden of extensive emotion that came with her ability. If she didn’t keep it under wraps the physical results would be disastrous.
She pushed that alternative thought out of her mind and leaned down. Sure enough, he was the man from her dream. Looking up, she deduced this was the place she’d dreamed about. Did she dream it the very moment it happened? It couldn’t be. Her ability only worked when she touched the scene. Never before had it happened just like that. Things were getting weirder than usual.
Lexia moved closer to the body and kneeled beside him. His bronze skin, indeed charred, revealing the bones and muscles and dried blood beneath. She took a few breaths to calm down and focus as she opened her senses to receive anything left behind from his encounter with the perps. What was once a strong spirit with a name, an identity and a life, was now an empty void with only memories left of what happened in the late hours. She held her open palm out over his chest and closed her eyes, allowing the past few hours to wash over her.
Nighttime. Four broad-shouldered men in dark suits stood in the room around Micah, their faces still drenched in shadow. A fifth man reached into the fireplace, his hand hovering over the blazing fire.
Where is she?”
“Be careful what you wish for. If she learns of your true nature, you will not have a prayer in ruling the tribe.”
“The Torrance girl is in this city. You didn’t think we were that stupid not to find her, did you?”
The Torrance girl? Lexia felt the images slipping away as fear sluiced through her veins. There had to be at least a dozen Torrances in the neighborhood. They couldn’t be after her, could they?
“Focus, Lex,” she softly whispered to herself. “There are more important things at hand right now.” Closing her eyes, she tried to push her cognitive mind aside and let her emotions release her powers. All she saw was black emptiness…until it appeared again.
The man balled his fist at his side and puffed out his chest. “You won’t find her! She’ll be kept safe, I promise you that.”
Lexia shuddered as the scenery quickly changed in her mind.
The four men held the victim down as he screamed and writhed to free his body from their grasp.
“Where is the necklace?” one of them demanded.
The man smiled then spat in his questioner’s face. The fifth man balled his fists and launched a series of hard blows across Micah’s face.
“Answer the nice guy, Micah.”
Micah spit blood into his abuser’s face. “You’d have to kill me first.”
“That can be arranged.” Another kick in the gut stole Micah’s breath. The unseen man punched him across the face again. Again. And again.
“Come on, Micah. Where’s this heroism getting you?”
Micah fell over in the men’s grasps, his tired weight ready to give into gravity.
“Tell ‘em where she is and where you’re hiding the necklace.”
Micah smiled, a row of white tainted with spots of deep, thick red blood. “You’ll never know. My honor and loyalty is to my Skinwalker Chieftess only. Nothing will break me. Soon she’ll know the truth and then finish you for breaking the code.”
“Lay him down,” the unseen man said through gritted teeth. The shuffle of bodies moving echoed against the walls. Micah’s body slammed down with a grunt before he struggled to escape their grasp.
The man in the suit cocked his head to the side and shrugged, curling his lips into a smile. “This is such a shame, Micah. You know the only thing I hate more than a person who sticks his nose where it doesn’t belong, is an insubordinate who believes he’s higher than his station allows. May your passing take with you pain and suffering into life after death because your Skinwalker Chieftess cannot help you now.” He raised his hand then slammed it on Micah’s chest, causing him to shake violently as smoke rose from his burning body.
Lexia opened her eyes and looked down. The scene happened exactly as in her dream only this time she had seen it all. Still she couldn’t see the other four men amidst the dark shadows. It was as if the darkness surrounded them, purposefully blocking her view.
Her heart raced, pumping wildly at the images echoed in her memory. Were they looking for her?
If not, what did all that mean? And why were they after this man? What was this Skinwalker Chieftess? A shapeshifter legend?
Lexia looked up around the bedroom, feeling another presence in the air. Something called to her, wanted her here, seemed intent on making her stay put. A cool wind caressed her arms, raising the hairs on her skin.
She peered down again at the man’s face. His half-buttoned shirt revealed a scar on his chest. This had to be the emblem the man was clutching in his hand. She couldn’t see it but something told her it was the very same.
Lexia looked over her shoulder, thankful to see the female police officer nearby. “Hey, do you have any spare gloves?”
“Thanks.” Lexia flashed the woman a smile as she took the gloves offered to her and slipped them on. She waited until the room was empty before continuing. Who was this man and why did he feel so familiar to her?
She gently pulled back the plaid shirt to bare his chest fully. It was just as the cop told her. Among the dark, thin patch of hair was a clear indentation of the necklace burned on him like a brand. She nearly froze as she made out the mark—flames emitting from a round face with eyes in the shape of howling wolves. The image from her dream! But how? What was the connection here?
With a sigh, she stood, feeling like her senses had overloaded. Her mind raced to find questions. Another flash invaded her mind. The necklace, a beautiful gold embroidered rope tied to the sun-like mark. Deep in the midst of the wolves were eyes made of red jewels. Was that what they were after?
Then she felt it.
The necklace is still here.
Perhaps that was why this was the only room in shambles. They must have known. Lexia slowly surveyed the room, feeling the invisible energy guide her. A white bookcase sat on the opposite end lined with various old hardbacks thrown about. The unknown behind those walls drew her near. Raising her hand, she willed the books to move. She narrowed her eyes and imagined them falling off the shelf to the floor to reveal what she needed to see.
But nothing happened.
Lexia chuckled. Looking around, she hoped no one saw her failing mishap. Who did she think she was? Some kind of telekinetic warrior? She had the ability to see things, but the idea of moving things with her will sounded absurd even to her.
She turned at the sound of oncoming footsteps in the hall.
Rudy poked his head through the door as she gingerly stepped toward the hall.
“Definite signs of foul play on his body,” she said, placing her hands on her hips. “He was attacked, beaten and branded like an animal.”
“Did you see the perps?”
“Unfortunately, no. Too many shadows hid their profiles. I just noticed they were all dressed in suits.”
“How many?”
“I counted five.”
Rudy cursed softly. “Any sign of what caused the mark?”
Lexia shook her head. “Not a clue. I did notice—”
A loud thump caught her attention. They exchanged glances and from the widening of Rudy’s eyes, she could tell he’d heard it too. She carefully turned around and headed back in the room.
There in one of the corners, books lay on the ground. The empty space they left made way for a large opening within the wall. Lexia immediately spotted the shiny gold sun talisman attached to a long braided chain. The same design branded on the dead man’s chest.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Guest Post: Rock Killer by S. Evan Townsend

Today's guest is S. Evan Townsend, author of Rock Killer. S. Evan Townsend is a writer living in central Washington State. After spending four years in the U.S. Army in the Military Intelligence branch, he returned to civilian life and college to earn a B.S. in Forest Resources from the University of Washington. In his spare time he enjoys reading, driving (sometimes on a racetrack), meeting people, and talking with friends. He is in a 12-step program for Starbucks addiction. Evan lives with his wife and two sons, aged 17 and 20, and has a 22-year old son attending the University of Washington in biology. He enjoys science fiction, fantasy, history, politics, cars, and travel.
Here is a blurb of the science fiction novel:

          Space Resources, Inc. (SRI) mines asteroids for the riches a populated Earth needs without degrading the planet. Yet there are those opposed to progress in whatever its form such as the Gaia Alliance, a front group for eco-terrorists. During a violent attack on the Moon, the terrorists steal an exploration ship, arm it, and rename it the Rock Killer.
Charlene "Charlie" Jones of SRI security is trying to infiltrate the Gaia Alliance's cabal to find evidence linking them to the murder of her fiancé. But a run-in with the law threatens to reveal her identity to the dangerous men of the Alliance.
Simultaneously, SRI Director Alexander Chun is traveling to the asteroid belt to bring a kilometer-long nickel-iron rock back to Earth orbit to mine for its valuable metals. Following him and his multi-national team is the Rock Killer. Without armaments, millions of miles from help, Chun must stop those who threaten him and the lives of his crew.
Take it away, Evan!

         Writing Women Full Disclosure: I'm a middle-aged white male. But in my new novel Rock Killer, one of the main characters is a young African-American woman named Charlene "Charlie" Jones. How can I have the hubris to try to get into the head of this woman? Well, unlike Marvin Udall in the move As Good as it Gets, it's not that "I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability." But I do approach women characters as being human. They aren't aliens, after all. At least I don't think they are.
It's sort of like horoscopes. They're complete B.S. I saw a television program once (I think it was the "Scientific American" program on PBS) where they went into a college classroom and got everyone's astrological sign. They might even have gone so far as to ask birthdate and time. Then they came back the next day and gave each student their personalized horoscope. After letting the students read it, they asked how many thought the horoscope described them very well. Most of the hands went up. Then they said, "Pass your horoscope to the person in front of you." And they discovered that every "horoscope" they passed out was exactly the same. Why? Because certain constants are true for every human being on this planet. And if they were raised and lived in a similar culture, those there are even more constants. So when writing any character, I have to keep those constants in mind. Even women.
But then there's infinite variety among humans depending on both nature and nurture. I've known woman who can field-strip an M16 and think hunting is a great pastime. I've known men who are devastated if their hand lotion smells wrong. I've known woman who are chemical engineers and men who are stay-at-home dads. There are broad similarities between people and there's infinite variety between people. Handling that is part of the challenge of being a writer.
And the funny thing about Charlie Jones is, she started as a man and a white man at that. Admittedly, she didn't spend long as a man. Since I sort of wrote the novel from the inside out (the first passage I wrote is the beginning of Chapter Eleven) when I wanted a character to work with the FBI, I originally made him a white man named Charlie Jones. But suddenly, he walked into the room and I decided to make him a woman. And then I decided to make her African-American when I realized she was going to be a major character and I started writing her background. Do I think there will be some differences between the thoughts, attitudes, and motivations of a white male and an African-American woman? Of course. But there will also be similarities. Sure, I had to re-write some scenes when Charlie turned out to be a woman. And it was difficult to get into her head until I wrote her complete history of growing up in St. Louis and how her grandmother influenced her. Then came the other problem with writing women: I fell just a wee bit in love with her.
Thank you for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
1. Grab your current read.
2. Open to a random page.
3. Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!).
5. Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:
          I reached for an apron as I recalled finding Glenn's coat last spring smelling like Ivy. They'd been out on more than a few dates. Normally I'd be worried if a human tried to keep up with Ivy -- she was a living vampire who'd been warped by her previous master into not being able to love without physically hurting her partner -- but Ivy was learning new patterns and Glenn was not your average guy.
Glenn was ex-military, not overly large but powerful, having the grace of a slow jazz song, the sure momentum of an ocean wave, and the need to raise a person to the best of her abilities. He was nothing if not steady, and Ivy needed steady. I though it telling that the first time they'd met, he'd asked me why I risked living with her, calling her unreliable, dangerous, and a psychopath, none of which I had been able to deny at that point. But she was also loyal, strong, determined, and a damn good person trying to overcome her past. - pg. 53, A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison
What are you reading this week?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Guest Post: Highland Shlfter by Catherine Bybee

Today's guest is Catherine Bybee, author of Highland Shifter. New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author Catherine Bybee has been addicted to romance since her teens. After spending a decade of her life working as an RN in urban emergency rooms, Catherine is now dedicated to writing happily-ever-afters for the world to love. Catherine is married and raising two sons in Southern California. She loves hearing from her readers so feel free to visit her at:

Here is a blurb of her new book:

          Helen Adams has a knack for finding lost objects, but the Simon McAllister she finds isn’t what she expected. The missing California teen is now a grown man—a kilted, sword wielding, Highland warrior.
A mysterious Druid book and Helen’s sixth sense send her to Scotland in search of a missing boy. After being attacked by strange men dressed in medieval garb, a handsome, desirable hero answering to the boy’s name rescues her. No one is more surprised than she to find herself in sixteenth century Scotland. Unable to deny the reality of time travel, Helen discovers smoldering passion with a man destined to leave her.
Simon has lived his Druid life in two very different worlds, two vastly different times, and when Helen practically lands in his lap, he knows his life is about to change forever. There are enemies in California lying in wait for her, and an army in Scotland closing in on his family. Simon is the only person who can protect her. But when she learns his most guarded secret, will she still want him? Can Helen love a Highland Shifter?
Today, Catherine wants to talk about mothers. How wonderful!

         Celebrating Mom by Catherine Bybee
Because I’m a writer of romance, I find that the majority of my readers are women. I know not all of them are, but it’s safe to say most are. Because it is the day after Mother’s Day I thought it would be fun to do a post about what people do for their mothers and how it differs over the ages.
Young children will often make their mother’s gifts at school…crafts of some sort (My favorite is the plaster hand stamp). As they grow older they may make breakfast for their moms…or buy a card if someone ‘drives’ them to the store to do it. Flowers start to arrive when a child grows into a young adult…and then after they’re out of the house they might make a point of taking their mothers out for lunch or dinner.
So what do moms really want for Mother’s Day?
I can only speak for myself. I will cherish all the ‘trinkets’ my children have given me -- handmade cups and plaster thingamagigs. They are a special testament of childhood and I don’t know one mom who doesn’t appreciate these things. If I’m given a homemade card, chances are I’ll put it in a box and keep it forever. A flower picked from a garden and given because “I thought of you, Mom” is pressed into the pages of a special book.
It’s the little things that we do for our Mothers that matter.

So, dear reader, what did you do for your mom this Mother’s Day, and if you’re a mom, what did your children do for you?

My oldest daughter is in preschool now, so I got taken on a Mother's Picnic, plus she gave me a real flower that she planted herself in a flowerpot that she painted! I can't stop looking at it!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Book Details:
By Suzanne Collins
Genre: Young Adult
Published Sept. 2011, Scholastic Inc.
Paperback, 390 pages
ISBN: 9780439023542

          My name is Katniss Everdeen. Why am I not dead? I should be dead.
Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.
It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plains--except Katniss.
The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay--no matter what the personal cost.
This novel deeply impacted me. I had to let the review sit for awhile before I could coalesce my thoughts on it because I kept replaying the many aspects of the series over and over in my head, wondering if the series could really have ended any differently. I suppose if some of the key characters had made different decisions, there would have been some difference, but keeping everything else the same, Katniss really could not have responded differently. I felt that this book was much more realistic regarding the behavior of a 17-year-old in her circumstances than many other books I have read of the Young Adult genre.
I felt that the second and third books revolved largely around what it would take to break Katniss. The reader can guess the answer quite easily, but Katniss is haunted by not being certain of this answer. She is only a young adult after all, not even experiencing all of the atrocities that the Capital visited on the other Hunger Games victors before her. She is naive in many ways, though her inner strength and determination to survive are great personal motivators.
There is maybe one part of the book that I really wish would have happened differently, and that is what happens to Finnick, especially given his reunion with Annie. I could not understand how it was so necessary to the continuance of the main plot, and I felt sad for Annie.
I don't want to give away the ending for Katniss's personal story, but in the grand scheme of things, even this was necessary for Katniss's personal survival, as well as the betterment of the remaining districts of Panem. While that statement is appropriately confusing, the way I described the ending to my husband, who still needs to read the second and third books, is the ending was bittersweet - heavy on the bitter and light on the sweet.

The Cover: This cover has the same simplicity as the previous two covers, as well as gives me an idea of what the mockingjay actually looks like.

First Line: "I stare down at my shoes, watching as a fine layer of ash settles on the worn leather."
The sadness of this first sentence permeates the entire novel and places me back in District 12 very quickly.

Favorite Quote: “Some walks you have to take alone.”

Read For: Young Adult Challenge, Dystopia Challenge, Finishing the Series Challenge

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Book Battle: The Great Linking Weekend Giveaway

For the last two years I have participated as a judge in The Shady Glade's book battles, and this year's battle will be the battle of Retold Fairy Tales, so I will definitely be a judge once again. I love retold fairy tales! The Shady Glade is still looking for book nominations - I have already submitted my two titles (Beastly and Abandon) - as well as volunteers to be judges for the book battle.
ALSO, The Shady Glade is holding a Linking Giveaway to bring attention to the book battle and encourage participation by offering two winners a book of their choice by linking into the contest, as well as nominating a book and/ or signing up as a judge. Who doesn't love free books??

And PLEASE, if you enter through me, be sure to use my name (Jacob's Beloved's Books) as your referral!

Important Links:

To nominate a title:

To volunteer to judge:

To enter giveaway:

Goodreads group:

More about the battle:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Guest Post: Paradigm Shift by Misa Buckley

Today's guest is Misa Buckley, author of Paradigm Shift, her second published story. Here is a quick blurb of her new novel:

          Observatory tour guide Megan Shaw has always had stars in her eyes, so when she all but runs down the otherworldly Raul, she barely blinks. It doesn't hurt that Raul is hot - whether in his human form or his natural one - and that there's an immediate mutual attraction.
But Raul is on the run from his alien overlords and soon Megan finds herself fighting against a foothold situation with nothing more than a couple of cattle prods and Muse for soundtrack.
However Earth is not the only planet at risk and with his species desperate to escape generations of oppression, can she really trust Raul? Or will his loyalties shift as easily as his physical appearance?

How to Save the World

What would you do if you uncovered an alien plot to take over the world? Hide in a bunker? Call the MIB? Or would you stand up and take them on yourself?
Megan Shaw, the main character of PARADIGM SHIFT, does the latter. As a huge fan of science fiction shows, she jumps at the chance to star in her own, but quickly realises that real life doesn’t always imitate art and there are no second takes.
Still, she refuses to back down and, along with her alien visitor Raul, sets out to save the world using whatever comes to hand. So what if that happens to be cattle prods and a generator? If it works, it works. Right?
Her journey is fraught with danger and adventure, her choice of conveyance is an old MG Midget, and her soundtrack is Muse and 30 Seconds to Mars. Her sidekicks are a shape-shifting alien and a student named after a Paranoid Android. Her life is never going to be the same, but some things are necessary if you’re going to be Earth’s newest saviour.
Megan’s up for the task. What about you?

Bio: Misa grew up fascinated by space and its possibilities. She wrote her first novel in 2007 for NaNoWriMo, and while she didn’t finish it she was bitten by the writing bug. PARADIGM SHIFT is her second published story, with her first, IRONHAVEN, published in 2011 by Decadent Publishing.
Now contracted with the Champagne Book Group, she has a Steampunk Paranormal out July 2012 and an “Urban Sci Fi” out March 2013. She also works at Champagne as a cover artist.
When she’s not writing (which is rarely), she can be found herding her children, chasing after her husband, or watching her favourite shows on TV. She can be found on Twitter as MisaBuckey and the quickest way of getting her attention is to mention Cliff Simon.

Thank you for stopping by, Misa. Your new book sounds great!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review: Candyfreak by Steve Almond

Book Details:
By Steve Almond
Genre: Biography
Published 2004, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Hardback, 266 pages
ISBN: 1565124219

          A self-professed candyfreak, Steve Almond set out in search of a much-loved candy from his childhood and found himself on a tour of the small candy companies that are persevering in a marketplace where big corporations dominate.
From the Twin Bing to the Idaho Spud, the Valomilk to the Abba-Zaba, and discontinued bars such as the Caravelle, Marathon, and Choco-Lite, Almond uncovers a trove of singular candy bars made by unsung heroes working in old-fashioned factories to produce something they love. And in true candyfreak fashion, Almond lusciously describes the rich tastes that he has loved since childhood and continues to crave today. Steve Almond has written a comic but ultimately bittersweet story of how he grew up on candy-and how, for better and worse, the candy industry has grown up, too.
Candyfreak is the delicious story of one man's lifelong obsession with candy and his quest to discover its origins in America.
I found this book fascinating from start to finish. While I have not eaten candy every single day of my life, it is not for a lack of trying. I am a true chocoholic, but I have my preferences and personal methods of taste-testing, just as Steve Almond does. He goes into great detail as to his personal candy-sampling habits, and his life-long history with candy all the while traveling the country and exploring some of the many small and struggling candy-making companies. It is easily any kid's dream to be able to walk into and eat so many of these delicious creations with the blessing of the company owners, but it was Steve Almond's genius that propelled him to turn it into a book almost good enough to eat.
While the descriptions of the variety of concoctions was delectable enough to keep me enthralled, Almond's tours through the different kinds of factories were both educating and enlightening. Some companies went through great trouble to get every detail exactly right, while others used out-dated methods and equipment, depending on the whim of the people operating it. Some owners cared passionately about their products, while others were ready to give in to the big candy companies and sell out. Still others found a comfortable compromise in sharing their beloved factory with other companies for the sake of continued production.
In an economy that can not truly afford the luxury of a non-essential product like candy, Steve Almond shows how such confections still provide the creature comforts that the struggling masses look for to fill the void.

The Cover: The cover is perfect for what the book is about, with a candy bar bearing an old-fashioned wrapper. I love it, and it makes me want to take a bite.

First Line: "The author has eaten a piece of candy every single day of his entire life."
What a way to introduce the author to the reader, and since the book is autobiographical in nature, this one sentence gives a pretty clear idea of the focus of the book.

Favorite Quote: "If you ever want to know what America really looks like -- and I direct this chiefly toward the residents of the coastal cities who tend to write about America most frequently -- I would suggest you abandon the airports. The only people in airports are rich people. Take a bus from Sioux City to Kansas City, via Omaha and Maryville. Here is where America lives, more often than not overweight, beset by children, fast-food fed, television-dulled, strongly perfumed, running low on options and telling their stories to whomever will listen, hatching schemes, self-dramatizing, preaching doomed sermons, dreaming of being other people in other lives."

Read For: Alex Awards Challenge, Just for Fun Challenge

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Guest Post: A Complicated Life in a Small Town by Tammy Maas

Today's guest is Tammy Maas, author of the book A Complicated Life in a Small Town.

          When I completed the manuscript for A Complicated Life in a Small Town I sent parts of it off to 8 publishers at 10:00pm on a Saturday night. I was excited but knew that the odds of getting a reply anytime soon were slim. Most publishers send an automated reply stating they will get back to you in 3-6 months and if you don’t hear back from them then too bad so sad for you.
Within thirty minutes I had a reply from Rainstorm Press, a real live person sent the message and it wasn’t an automated reply. He wanted to see my full manuscript. This was the stuff dreams were made of. Within seven days I had a contract and the rest is history. My novella was published in late February and is available on Amazon.

Book Description
The road to hell really is paved with good intentions. Bitter that she was robbed of her childhood, at age eighteen, Lydia Lawson severed all communication ties with her alcoholic parents. Her father commits suicide one year after she leaves home. Twenty-three years later she receives word that her mother is dead and that she has inherited more than just the family home. Lily, a twenty-one-year-old, morbidly obese half-sister with Prader-Willi Syndrome, is found in the basement, too big to move out of the home. Lydia sets out on a life-changing journey trying to help Lily, trying to find Lily s father and trying to find herself. In the interim, she falls in love with Tommy Porter who remains with her right up to the climatic, mind-blowing reveal at the end.

Tommy Porter was chief of police in the small town of Monticello, Iowa. He had been on the force for over twenty years and had seen a lot of things, but today he had a real head-scratcher. At 8:15 a.m. there was a 9-1-1 call from the home of Frannie Lawson on RR #5. The voice on the other end was claiming to be Frannie’s daughter, and she said her mother was sick. Tommy knew Frannie’s only daughter, Lydia, had left home years ago and completely cut off communication with her parents. Her father died less than a year after she left, and Lydia didn’t even bother to come home for his funeral. Why was she back in town all of a sudden? What was wrong with Frannie? This didn’t make sense to Tommy, but with sirens blaring he raced to the Lawson home.
It was a three-mile drive, mostly gravel that Tommy remembered quite well. He dated Lydia in high school. As he navigated the windy, dusty, road he remembered what a free spirit she was and wondered how her life turned out. He still had the prom picture in his wallet. She wore a short, navy blue, strapless dress covered with sequins. Her curly strawberry-blonde hair was pinned up on top of her head. Her eyes were like sparkling emeralds, and they danced and shined when she spoke to him, her face so full of expression. His heart still skipped a beat when he thought about her.
Tommy could now see the house through the trees just up the road. It was an old brick two-story house, covered with vines a mile or so off the road. The yard was immaculate, heavy blossoms overflowing the flowerbeds and onto the sides of the brick path leading to the house. A small, red, weathered wooden barn was just feet from the house. The grass looked like it had just been mowed. There weren’t any cars in the driveway. The wooden porch swing was gently swinging in the cool summer breeze.
Tommy arrived first on the scene and slid on the gravel as he entered the drive. He ran along the brick path and jumped over the three steps leading up the porch. After swinging open the screen door, he tried the front door but couldn’t get in; it was locked. He yelled out Frannie’s name and pounded with both fists on the huge wooden door, but no one answered. He tried to look in the windows but the curtains were closed. He couldn’t see anything.
He ran around to the back door as the ambulance pulled into the driveway. He pounded with both fists on the backdoor and still didn’t get a response so he opened the screen door and hit the glass in the window of the back door with the butt of his gun. The glass shattered and fell onto the black and white checkered tile floor below. Tommy reached in and unlocked the door, being careful not to cut himself on the jagged glass. He jogged through the kitchen and living room to the front door where the paramedics were waiting, turned the deadbolt and opened the door.
They were too late; it appeared that Frannie had died in her sleep. One of the paramedics pointed to a monitor on Frannie’s nightstand and asked if there was a baby in the house. Tommy picked it up; it had video and sound. He could hear faint sobbing but wasn’t sure of what he was seeing.
He yelled out, “Lydia…Lydia, is that you? Where are you?”
He checked the other rooms on the first level and then ran up the narrow staircase and swept the upstairs but found nothing. He opened the basement door and was overcome by an unpleasant stench. He put his hand over his mouth and made his way down the steps.
“Lydia, where are you?”
“I’m not Lydia,” he heard the sobbing voice say. “I am Lily May. Happiness, sweetness and tears of the Virgin Mary, I am the sister of Jesus.”
Tommy went around the corner and couldn’t believe what he was seeing. There was a morbidly obese woman lying on a king sized mattress covered with a rainbow sheet. A noose like rope was hanging above her. The room was painted light purple, and there were teen posters hanging on the wall. The smell of feces and urine was so horrific he couldn’t take one more step forward. His eyes were beginning to burn. “Where’s Mama? I need Mama.” she cried.

Thank you for stopping by, Tammy!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Interview: Tide of Lies by Sarah Ballance

I will be interviewing my second guest for today, Sarah Ballance, author of Tide of Lies. Here is a quick blurb of her new book:

A devastating secret. A shocking betrayal. A deadly obsession.
Haunted by three unsolved murders, Detective Holden Whitlow is stunned when his cold case takes a heated turn. Julia Cohen, his ex-lover, is back in town, and in the face of a brutal attack she’s ready to run. No matter how tightly she holds her secrets, for Holden, turning away from the woman he’s spent a decade trying to forget isn’t any more an option than walking away from his job . . . even when it threatens to cost Julia her life.
Julia is still reeling from a past she can’t bear to face. When she becomes the target of a killer, fate throws her back into Holden’s arms, but she’s yet to recover from a truth that has stripped her of everything—and everyone—she loves. Will she tell him the secret that will destroy him, or will her lie destroy them both?

Thank you for coming, Sarah. How did you come up with the idea for Tide of Lies?

I participated in the Noble Romance Authors Blog Tour last fall, for which I needed to come up with a story, 10k words, incorporating the Timeless Desire theme. I'm a huge fan of romantic suspense and wanted to write that genre, but I couldn't fit my story in 10k words. So I came up with the idea of finishing that story in a longer book, which is what became TIDE OF LIES. Although it's a spinoff of the original story, FAMILIAR LIGHT, this one stands alone with two new main characters and a plot written just for them.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.

A devastating secret, shocking betrayals, and a long-buried resentment culminate in a thrilling life-and-death showdown in TIDE OF LIES … need I say more?

Who is your favorite character from Tide of Lies, and why?

Holden, the book's hero. I normally have the most affection for the leading man, probably because they always get their best qualities from my husband. In Holden's case, he's a genuine guy who admits his mistakes and fights hard for the woman he loves. He gets knocked down in this story—hard—but he risks it all for . . . well, that's a spoiler. Let's just say he gets back up. ;c)

What motivated you to start writing?

A friend of mine suggested I write a novel. I immediately said I couldn't and that was the end of it … only it started to bug me I'd said I couldn't do something. So I wrote a book, and I submitted it to exactly one publisher just to say I followed through, LOL. Imagine my surprise when the contract arrived, and a few months later my debut DOWN IN FLAMES hit the shelves.

Who are your favorite authors of all time?

I used to read a ton when I was a kid, but when I started having babies I didn't read anything but parenting magazines for years. I credit Carolyn Keene (or, rather, the ghost writers) for developing my love of mystery through the Nancy Drew Case Files I read as a teen. Years later, the Harlequin Intrigue line cemented my love of romantic suspense. I honestly don't think I'd have stuck with writing if not for discovering that particular genre, which I absolutely adore.

What is one book everyone should read?

This is a hard question for me because the exact answer depends on my audience, LOL. But one of the few I've read more than once is ISAAC'S STORM by Erik Larson. It's a narrative nonfiction account of the 1900 Galveston hurricane, which still counts as the deadliest in U.S. history. It's a profound story—if fiction, no one would believe it.

If you could go anywhere in the universe where would that be?

I'd love to drag my husband to Europe—I've toured Spain, and now I'd like to see Italy or Ireland—but he won't fly and I'm afraid of breaking some obscure law and ending up in a foreign jail, lol. So I'll keep it simple and say I'd like to be in the Florida Keys, in a cabin cruiser anchored within swimming distance of a great bar with fabulous food and live music, LOL. (We already have the boat, so I guess it's just a matter of filling it up with fuel and taking a few days off to get there.)

And just for fun, what is your favorite word?

Please, please, please no one tell my kids I said this, LOL, but it's "mom." My husband and I have six kids and homeschool them, and they drive me about half crazy most of the time, but I wouldn't trade them for anything in this world. My life wouldn't be the same if not for the constant demands of "Mooooooooom!" and the variations thereof, which include "Mudder" (that would be my 4-year-old son saying "Mother") and "Hey, Mom" (the 8-year-old boy, who has largely replaced that with "Hey Mom . . . sorry, it's a force of habit" because I kept telling him I wasn't "Hey, Mom.") There are three girls and three boys, ages 13, 11, 8, 6, 4, and the little one turns two this month. ;c)

Wow, five kids - that would certainly keep life interesting, and my hands are full with just my three girls. Thank you so much for coming!

Guest Post and Giveaway: ReVamped by Ada Adams

The first of today's guests is Ada Adams, author of ReVamped. Here a bit about the author:
"Many people sing in the shower. I, on the other hand, write scenes in my head and act them out."
At age five, Ada read her first chapter book - Pippi Longstocking. Ever since that moment, she developed an intense passion for the stories and characters found within the pages of literature.
In her career as an actress and a writer, Ada currently spends most of her days immersed in imaginary worlds. Much like the characters she enjoys playing and writing about, Ada is a martial artist with a Black Belt in Shotokan Karate. She is also a big proponent of lifelong learning, and has attained Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (it aids in creating characters with unique quirks!) as well as a Master's of Science in Education.
Ada strives to bring a fresh voice and perspective to fiction. She has been writing creatively for many years. "ReVamped" is her debut novel.
She lives in Toronto, Canada, and enjoys adventurous nature hikes with her adorable puppies Cara and Oreo.
Here is the blurb of her new novel:
          Nineteen-year-old vampire Dawn has led a sheltered life within the confines of her father’s presidential headquarters. Upon being sent on a mission to revamp four goofy misfits into guardians of a peaceful little town of Angel Creek, Dawn believes that all her dreams have finally come true. What starts off as a simple task, turns into something unexpected, changing Dawn’s life forever and leading the action-loving, thrill-seeking vampire teen on a path of mystery, danger and intrigue.

When a human girl is kidnapped by a group of rogue vamps, Dawn discovers that there is more going on in Angel Creek than meets the eye. And it all connects to Ethan, the cute newcomer who seems too perfect to be true, Sebastian, the mysterious vampire with a turbulent past, and even Dawn herself. Dawn must not only succeed in revamping the troubled recruits, but must also prevent the vampire race from being overtaken by a malevolent villain who has a strange and obsessive fascination with her. As threat escalates, romance blooms, and ghosts from her past begin to surface, Dawn is sure of only one thing: her life will never be the same.
Ada is here to talk about the origins of her novel, ReVamped. Take it away, Ada!
          The story of how ReVamped came to be is a “backwards” one compared to the birth of many other novels. Most of the time, books are first written, and only then are some optioned for shows and films. ReVamped, on the other hand, was born as a script for an action-comedy TV/Web series. During the pre-production stage, I came to the realization that, due to the direction in which I wanted the story to go, ReVamped The Show could not be rushed until I was certain that it would receive the highest production value possible. The script sat on my computer for a while as my schedule quickly filled up with other projects. However, the story and its characters would not leave me alone. I was often up until the early hours of the morning, my head bursting with new ideas and exciting plot development. One day, I finally gave in and sat down at my computer to write it all out. This time, in book form!
Various alterations to both the characters and the plot had to be made while translating ReVamped The Show into ReVamped The Novel. Here are the Top Ten Things that were completely changed from the first draft of the pilot script to the last draft of the novel. In my opinion, all were positive changes! :)

Top Ten Changes from ReVamped (The Show) to ReVamped (The Novel)
10. Dawn’s name was Gabrielle. Sebastian was Alexander. Surprisingly, Ethan and all of the secondary characters—Brooke, Sophie, Hunter, and Seth—retained their first names.

9. Dawn, uhh, I mean Gabrielle from the show was different from the Dawn you meet in the novel. While both girls were extremely strong physically, Gabrielle had a much tougher personality. She was one no-nonsense, smart, strong, and sarcastic vampire chick! While writing the novel, I had to infuse the character with some vulnerability, as she was coming off a little too tough and much too perfect. I wanted to the character to have some flaws. It’s not fun to read and write about a perfect character that is able to take everything that comes their way with ease. Dawn from the book also has some trouble talking to guys and expressing her feelings, as she has been sheltered all her life by her father. Gabrielle definitely didn’t have this problem.

8. Alastair (Dawn’s father in the book) was still the US Vampire President, but Dawn/Gabrielle wasn’t his daughter. She was his second-in-command; a sort of adopted daughter.

7. Angel Creek used to be called Burk’s Falls (which is the name of a small town in Ontario we were originally looking to shoot the pilot in). Thankfully, I made the decision to completely fictionalize the town in the novel, which gave Angel Creek a life of its own.

6. There was a lot more focus on comedy and parody in the script. While the novel is still very humorous and has some satirical moment, it is definitely not a parody. There is a greater focus on the more serious events and subject matter that occur in the story.

5. The premise of The Born and The Made didn’t exist in the script. In fact, Gabrielle was a two-hundred-year-old vampire (with no memory of her past).

4. Ethan was a bad guy. Like, really, really bad. But, it was set up that he was going to fall for Gabrielle (I feel very odd calling “Dawn” that), and perhaps change his ways. There was a lot of focus placed on this storyline.

3. Dawn and Sebastian (or rather, Gabrielle and Alexander) had a different story than they have in the book. I can’t share too much about it without alluding to Dawn and Sebastian’s connection in the novel, but I have a scene from episode six of ReVamped The Show that takes place in 1845, which I may share one day.

2. Aurora didn’t exist. Therefore, a large part of the plot of ReVamped The Novel didn’t exist in the show.

1. The vampires didn’t drink Blood Cola. I know, no Blood Cola? That’s a tragedy!

The giveaway is a Kindle copy of ReVamped by Ada Adams. To win, simply leave a comment telling me how you follow and follower name, along with the email address I can reach you by. You must follow me at least one way: GFC, Twitter, or RSS Feeds. The giveaway is open to all and ends May 11th.

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