Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Book Spotlight: Mommy Blogger by Carla Caruso

Carla Caruso has worked as a newspaper and magazine journalist, government PR and fashion stylist. Mommy Blogger was inspired by applying to write for a parenting website at the start of her freelancing career, pretending she was a mom – when she really wasn’t. Her clueless article ideas, needless to stay, didn’t make the cut – though, the experience at least gave her the premise for a fiction plot! Carla is a member of Romance Writers of Australia.

Here is a quick blurb for Carla Caruso's new book, Mommy Blogger:

          Stella lands a fab job as a mommy blogger. The catch is she’s never had children. Plunged into a world of insanity every mother faces, she must learn to cope as her lies build upon one another. A sexy ex comes into the picture, forcing her to choose between him or the job and a handsome ‘keeper’ of a coworker. It can’t last forever.
Here is a short excerpt of the book:

          Cleo continues, “Most of our team work freelance from home or part-time in the office. You met Angelique in admin before. There’s also Bethany in accounts, who makes girly accessories for the site under her own label, and Topaz, who helps with packaging and postage. Oh, and Noah, of course, our webmaster—”
A deep male voice, behind me, cuts in. “My ears are burning.”
I swing around and my heart gets a jumpstart. The guy in question is not your garden-variety, weedy IT type. More like a young John Corbett, with mid-length, wavy, brown hair, sea-green eyes and a tall, well-built figure, clad in a fitted, charcoal tee and faded jeans.
Noah extends a hand toward me. I feel the warmth of his hand enclosing mine, before I remember mine’s Oompa Loompa colored. He smells of manliness and soap. Mommy blogging suddenly got a whole lot more interesting.
“Hey,” he drawls.
“Hi, I’m...Stella.” Yup, just forgot my name.
Noah’s gaze lingers on mine. “You're our new girl then?”
He nods slowly, as though sizing me up. “You’ll fit right in.”
“Oh, thanks,” I manage, but my mind screams: What’s that mean? That he could see me donning maternity jeans or possibly that I look like a MILF? Or worse, a GILF? (A Grandmother I’d Like To...)
“Look forward to seeing you at the next meeting,” Noah says, dropping my hand. Darn. “Meeting?” I ask mildly as Noah strides away.
There were meetings? I had imagined being a faceless blogger, squirreling away in tracky-dacks in my home office, laughing to myself, while re-runs of Sex and the City played in the background.

Looks like both a humorous and sexy read!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Guest Post: Only Scandal Will Do by Jenna Jaxon

Today's guest is Jenna Jaxon, author of Only Scandal Will Do. Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary romance who has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager. A romantic herself, Jenna has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise. She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own writing.
Jenna lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets. When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director. She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.
She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate, because once she starts she just can’t stop.

                                                    Website / Facebook

Take it away, Jenna!

                                               Do You Believe In Magic?
There is magic in the book world. At least, I consider it magic.
My recently released romance novel, Only Scandal Will Do, has gone through the extremely tough process of writing, editing, cover designing, publishing and promoting - necessary steps to a fantastic product that will reach the targeted audience. Hard work? Extremely. Fun? Not always, though very rewarding. And as part of that reward, I’ve been blessed with a bit of the magic that I’ve dreamed about since I began seeking publication.
Only Scandal Will Do has its own book trailer.
Some people may not think that’s a big deal, but being in theatre as well as a romance writer, I understand how valuable it is for audiences to be able to see the vision you have of your book. The book trailer is that very opportunity. Yes, in our writing we are admonished to “show, not tell,” which we do with varying levels of success. But nothing can take the place of the visual experience of a story unfolding before you with colorful images and stirring musical accompaniment. We live in a world that bombards us with television, movies, video games, and music videos. And while the written word is still one of our favorite forms of entertainment, we still thrill to see books we love come to life on the big screen.
And while that is not going to happen on a big scale for most of us authors, we can experience that magic on a small scale--with a book trailer.
I had the great good fortune to win the lottery--not for mega millions, but for a book trailer. The fantastically talented Danielle Fine Tweeted one day that the next two people to Tweet her back would receive a free book trailer. Guess who was one of those lucky people?
Thus began an arduous, but so wonderfully rewarding, experience of creating a bit of movie magic--starring my very own hero and heroine from Only Scandal Will Do. I’d seen some of Danielle’s previous trailers and so I knew mine would be something truly special and magical. We talked, via email, and I gave her some ideas about what I was looking for, filled out her questionnaire, and got to work squeezing my 93K novel down into 56 words and 13 images—one was repeated as a theme several times and one (the final image) was the novel’s cover.
The magic is that those few words and images captured the novel’s plot, mood, and intensity perfectly. The soundtrack, music by Kevin McLeod titled “Five Armies” is also absolutely ideal for the trailer. To sing Danielle’s praises once more, the only suggestion I had for her was that the music should have the same sound as the soundtrack to Pirates of the Caribbean. That was apparently enough feedback for her to find the perfect score. And her timing of images to music is flawless. I may be biased, but to me it’s mesmerizing.
As a promotional tool (which is its ultimate purpose), the trailer has been effective. It hasn’t had as many views on YouTube as I’d like (I think a million views would be nice LOL), but I’ve heard from people who have watched the trailer and said, “That made me want to buy the book.”
And that is probably the best magic of all.
Here’s the link to my trailer for Only Scandal Will Do. Take a look and experience the magic!


Thank you so much for coming, Jenna! The trailer is great!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Dream-Walker War by Tory Michaels

Today's guest is Tory Michaels, author of two books in the Dream-Walker War series, Blood Rage and Blood Mage Rising. Originally from the Sacramento Valley, Tory packed up and moved all the way to Southwest Florida in 2004 with her husband (a Florida native) under the premise that ‘hurricanes almost never hit that part of the state.’ That year, 4 blasted the area. 4 more came the following year, and her husband blames her for bringing the hurricanes. She now resides in Jacksonville and is relieved that, thus far, no more hurricanes have followed her around.
She began writing in kindergarten when a turnip wished to be human and, other than a hiatus shortly after getting married, has never stopped. Her love of vampires began somewhere in junior high, and combining the two loves didn’t take long. She loves music, considers herself a ‘book slut’ whose reading habits would break her family financially if given free reign, and is (usually) delighted to be a mommy of twin Shrimpettes and a Shrimp.

Take it away, Tory!

                                                        Unreality in the Real World
First, let me say thank you for having me on your blog today. I liked your topic suggestions so much (why vampires or how did I pick my setting), that I’m going to combine them!
My Dream-Walker War (two books out with one almost done and the fourth/final one in the planning stages) takes place primarily in South/Southwest Florida (Tampa and Fort Myers). You might think that’s an odd place to put a bunch of vampires, but…not really, if you think about it. If you put them in somewhere like Washington State, you’ve got those super long days during the summer. Sure, you get nice long nights in the winter, but it’s still a pain. In Florida, and other more globally central locations, there’s far less of a seasonal shift as to length of day. So, to my mind, it’s logical that they’d cluster in Florida despite the frequency of rainy days.
Now, as to why I write about vampires. I’ve been fascinated by the supernatural my entire life. I remember loving the show Dracula: the Series when I was 16 (short-lived sit-com, believe it or not), and the Ben Cross incarnation of Dark Shadows (cut after a single season, which cutting I firmly blame on the first invasion of Iraq). But I look at the undead and see more than the broody/sulky vamps (a la the Angels and Edwards of the world) or evil, soul-less creatures (Angelus and innumerable other purely evil critters). I don’t get why they must lose their souls upon conversion to vampirism (yes, I know the mythology behind vampires). So, I decided to write about vampires who really aren’t that much different than humans. They’re who they were in life, just with really long life-spans and a liquid diet.
My fascination with vampires comes from the ageless/immortal factor. Being immortal seems like a pretty good deal, doesn’t it? Can you imagine the things people would see if they could live longer than our puny 60-100 years? Heck, just a century ago, we were toddling along in the first cars, no internet and movies weren’t even that huge yet. And now, here we are with instantaneous access to movies at home, easy communication from almost anywhere in the world, and we can go from New York to Japan in under a day (assuming you get the good connecting flights). What new and wonderful things are going to change in the next hundred years? Or how about a thousand?
The main male characters (I hesitate to call both of them “heroes” given one is a sociopath) of my books are 1200 and 1000 years old, respectively. One came from Viking society, the other from Celtic. Imagine the changes they’ve seen? Heck, even my heroines aren’t that young (one’s 200, the other 250). I don’t see why a 1000+ y/o vampire would prefer a fresh, young human over a woman who’s been around for a couple hundred years. Granted, Anthony and Dara (Blood Rage) met while Dara was still human, but they didn’t make a real go of things until she was close to her two-century mark. I just like the freedom you’d get after seeing and doing so much. So that’s why vampires.
Thanks for having me here and hope I haven’t bored you. Have a great week!

That is an interesting twist on the classic vampire tales, and thank you for coming, Tory! Now for the giveaway! To enter, just use the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review: Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Book Details:
By Ann Aguirre
Genre: Young Adult
Published April 2011, Feiwel & Friends
Hardback, 259 pages
ISBN: 9780312650087

          In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups–Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember.
As a Huntress, her purpose is clear—to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning.
Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn’t like following orders. At first Deuce thinks he’s crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don’t always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she’s never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace.
As Deuce’s perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy… but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she’s ever known.
This book is less dystopia and more post-apocalypse, with zombies thrown in - though they are never given that name. Though the plot focused solely on Deuce's life inside and outside the enclave, I was much more curious about the details of the world that Deuce lived in. The answers to these questions were sadly few and far between. It quickly became apparent that it was not in Deuce's nature to be inquisitive, and I was often distracted from Deuce's single-mindedness to be a Huntress. Deuce's two closest friends come from the other two groups, but little is told about these groups or the members that populated them. I was especially curious about Deuce's Breeder friend, who fathered a baby boy, but he is unfortunately removed from the plot before much development could occur.
Many loose threads are pushed aside to make way for the character of Fade, and Deuce's relationship with him. I saw much potential in Fade's character because of the potential of his backstory, but the possibilities of what he could accomplish in the enclave are wasted. In the end, despite the title of the book, the plot seems to be more about what happens Topside than saving or reforming the enclave. Plus, I know little more about the Freaks (zombies) than I did when I started the book. While the book brimmed with potential, much of the characters' potential was unrealized, and the book ended with too many loose ends and unanswered questions. While I typically love YA literature, I think this book was too juvenile for me.

The Cover: The cover is both mysterious and creepy, especially with that hand coming out of the corner, which hints at the rabid creatures hidden within the pages of the book. While creepy is not always my thing, this works.

First Line: "I was born during the second holocaust."
What a shocking way to open a book - and immediately I have all kinds of questions regarding this second holocaust.

Favorite Quote: "Instead I'm here, where day by day, I don't know if I'll have food to eat or a place to sleep, if I'll wake up with something trying to kill me. It's hard. And it will get harder, the farther we get from known territory. We have no idea what's out there. None. And either you're ready to start over... or you're not. No more of this. If I didn't let go of what I've lost, I'd go crazy. I suggest you do the same."

Read For: Young Adult Reading Challenge, Read Your Own Name Reading Challenge, Dystopia Reading Challenge

Monday, September 17, 2012

Review: The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay

Book Details:
The Virgin Cure
By Ami McKay
Genre: Fiction
Published 2011, Random House
Paperback, 354 pages
ISBN: 9780676979572

          Following in the footsteps of The Birth House, her powerful debut novel, The Virgin Cure secures Ami McKay's place as one of our most beguiling storytellers. (Not that it has to… that is pretty much taken care of!)
"I am Moth, a girl from the lowest part of Chrystie Street, born to a slum-house mystic and the man who broke her heart." So begins The Virgin Cure, a novel set in the tenements of lower Manhattan in the year 1871. As a young child, Moth's father smiled, tipped his hat and walked away from his wife and daughter forever, and Moth has never stopped imagining that one day they may be reunited – despite knowing in her heart what he chose over them. Her hard mother is barely making a living with her fortune-telling, sometimes for well-heeled clients, yet Moth is all too aware of how she really pays the rent.
Life would be so much better, Moth knows, if fortune had gone the other way - if only she'd had the luxury of a good family and some station in life. The young Moth spends her days wandering the streets of her own and better neighbourhoods, imagining what days are like for the wealthy women whose grand yet forbidding gardens she slips through when no one's looking. Yet every night Moth must return to the disease- and grief-ridden tenements she calls home.
The summer Moth turns twelve, her mother puts a halt to her explorations by selling her boots to a local vendor, convinced that Moth was planning to run away. Wanting to make the most of her every asset, she also sells Moth to a wealthy woman as a servant, with no intention of ever seeing her again.
These betrayals lead Moth to the wild, murky world of the Bowery, filled with house-thieves, pickpockets, beggars, sideshow freaks and prostitutes, but also a locale frequented by New York's social elite. Their patronage supports the shadowy undersphere, where businesses can flourish if they truly understand the importance of wealth and social standing - and of keeping secrets. In that world Moth meets Miss Everett, the owner of a brothel simply known as an "infant school." There Moth finds the orderly solace she has always wanted, and begins to imagine herself embarking upon a new path.
Yet salvation does not come without its price: Miss Everett caters to gentlemen who pay dearly for companions who are "willing and clean," and the most desirable of them all are young virgins like Moth. That's not the worst of the situation, though. In a time and place where mysterious illnesses ravage those who haven't been cautious, no matter their social station, diseased men yearn for a "virgin cure" - thinking that deflowering a "fresh maid" can heal the incurable and tainted.
Through the friendship of Dr. Sadie, a female physician who works to help young women like her, Moth learns to question and observe the world around her. Moth's new friends are falling prey to fates both expected and forced upon them, yet she knows the law will not protect her, and that polite society ignores her. Still she dreams of answering to no one but herself. There's a high price for such independence, though, and no one knows that better than a girl from Chrystie Street.
I loved Ami McKay's first book, The Birth House, so I was eager to read this one without even knowing the synopsis. This book did not really live up to the quality of the first book, but I did still enjoy it. While the title conveys the idea that the focus of the book is this social problem of the myth of the "virgin cure", in reality the book was really about the life of the main character, Moth. The virgin cure only plays a part in two small events, and serves better as a footnote to Moth's life.
Moth is quite an interesting girl from the start, having the maturity of a much older person as she deals with her mother's methods of making money along with her drinking habits, even as she finds her own ways of survival. Despite being of such a young age, she is aware of the struggles of the people around her and knows enough to recognize what a better life would look like for herself - even beyond the trappings of wealth. While sold by her own mother for the price of a sack of coins, Moth still longs to impress her and return to her. From there, she encounters one horror after another, many hidden behind a veneer of wealth and privilege. Her desires propel her to take on a different name in an effort to change her very identity into the kind of person she longs to be.
Dr. Sadie's intervention into Moth's life provides a nice contrast to what Moth lived with day-to-day. As McKay's original protagonist, she provided another appealing way of life other than one of wealth and privilege. Her journal entries in the book also showed how Moth appeared to others. Despite the struggles that Dr. Sadie endured as a female physician, I liked the part she played in Moth's life and the things she showed Moth.
As for the format of the book, I found it a bit strange sometimes. The pages often held side notes that had little to do with the plot, and were better at serving as distractions, plus chapters often began with poems or quotes that were vague at best and required some intelligent deciphering to figure out how they contributed to the book. The journal entries of Dr. Sadie that peppered the book held the most valuable writing, as it fit in with the timeline of the plot. I think the book would have fared better with less distractions, more plotting, and a better title.

The Cover: I liked the cover for the picture of the main character, as well as the moths that littered the cover, but I did not care for the title. I did not feel that the title adequately conveyed the main plot.

First Line: "I am Moth, a girl from the lowest part of Chrystie Street, born to a slum-house mystic and the man who broke her heart."
This is a very succinct opening line, as it does a good job of summing up the main character.

Favorite Quote: "I don't want to belong to anyone."

Read For: Just For Fun Challenge

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Guest Post: Senator, Mine and Druid, Mine by Kerry Adrienne

Today's guest post is Kerry Adrienne, author of the books Senator, Mine; Druid, Mine; and Pharoah, Mine. Kerry holds a BA in English: Writing and Editing with a minor in Classical Studies from NC State University. She has extensive freelance editing experience, and teaches various fiction writing classes at a local college. She is an Associate Editor with Entangled Publishing. In addition to editing, Kerry writes science fiction, romantic fantasy, and paranormal romance.

Kerry is here today to talk about inspiration. Take it away, Kerry!

          Where does inspiration come from? Have you ever wondered? Jonah Lehrer (neuroscientist who wrote the book Imagine) says, “…these moments emanate from a certain part of the brain. Creativity corresponds to a steady rhythm of alpha waves emanating from the brain’s right hemisphere. And that is stimulated by relaxation.” Relaxation? I can do that (well, sort of). I definitely get my best ideas right before I fall asleep, or in the shower, or driving my little convertible. If I *try* to have an idea, my brain just shuts down.
Don’t you wonder where all the idea-getters are getting their inspiration? Are they more relaxed than the rest of us? Do they take ten showers a day? I mean, come on, whoever invented the Snuggie is a genius (not really).
And does this method of relaxing so that Alpha waves predominate also work for scientists? Architects? Should the best companies have spas on-site so that the employees can go relax and have million-dollar ideas?
It’s definitely important to think and plan—even when not relaxed—but I am thinking a hammock on a nice beach somewhere would be a great place to be inspired. I wonder if I could write it off on my taxes?
How about you? How do you get inspired?

I've never really self-examined where I get inspiration from - possibly dreams, or things I've seen while web-surfing, or even just waiting for the images to come while daydreaming, not having much time for the latter. I find the ideas often come faster when I am under pressure!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Guest Post: Go With the Flo by Lillian Grant

Today's guest is Lillian Grant, author of Go With the Flo. Here is a blurb about her new book:
          Nineties girl Florence Spring joined Avon to find her Edward Scissorhands but instead needs to rescue his porno alter ego.
When Florence notices her eccentric ex-boyfriend, Eddie, isn't putting on his usual show in the front window on Friday night she decides to investigate. She asks her best friend, Nelson Tyler, to help but he seems more interested in seducing Florence than in finding her personal flasher. Florence has no idea when she embarks on the adventure she will accidentally shoot an undercover policeman, or that her actions will lead to Nelson's kidnapping. Now with two men missing she has no choice but to continue and thwart the plans of a psychotic soon to be divorcee. She needs to rescue Nelson because life without him is unbearable, especially since she's discovered his long sensitive fingers are far more erotic than scissorhands.
Take it away, Lillian!

                                                       Bad Boys and Motorbikes
I don’t know about you but I love to read books with bad boys that ride motorbikes. There is something sexy about a man with something hard throbbing between his thighs. Maybe it’s the idea of taming the beast within or, as one of my heroines says, riding on the back of a motorbike is the closest thing to sex you can get with your clothes on. I grew up on the back of a bike. From the time I could wrap my little arms around the waist of my uncle I rode pillion. My helmet was bigger than I was and back in the day the thought that a child might not belong on the back of a bike hadn’t really been considered. So, I know the reality of riding a bike is a long way from the fantasy and yet I have written more than one book with a bike riding bad boy hero.
In my latest story, Go With the Flo, my heroine is the sort of girl to jump into any situation without considering the consequences. Fortunately for her bad boy Nelson is her best friend and is ready to ride to her rescue. He may not say much and she may have no idea how he really feels about her, despite the kiss they shared under the mistletoe at her grandmothers Christmas in July party, but when she decides to play amateur detective Nelson is the one person she knows she can rely on. When her quest to find her missing ex-boyfriend and personal flasher leads to Nelson being snatched it is Florence who has to ride the bike and rescue the man who she finally realizes is so much more than a friend. So, does that mean as well as a bad boy hero I have a bad girl heroine? I am sure Nelson hopes so.

While motorbikes will never be my thing, I do understand the appeal of bad boys. Thank you for stopping by, Lillian!
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