Thursday, December 12, 2013

April Bostic - The Howling Heart - Review and Giveaway



About the Book

Paige Donovan is an ambitious college graduate who aspires to reach the top of the corporate ladder. She’s climbing fast when given the promotion of a lifetime at a prestigious fashion magazine in New York City. Her bright future comes to an unexpected halt after news of her father’s death. She inherits his old cabin in the Colorado Rockies, and just when she thinks her luck couldn’t get any worse, she has a car accident in the mountains and awakens in the small, remote community of Black River.



Soon, she’s engulfed in the mystical world of Varulv---wolves descended from 13th century Scandinavia and blessed by Norse gods with the ability to appear human. Paige is desperate to return home, but never expects to fall for her rescuer, Riley Gray, a charming young werewolf from England who offers her an alternate future with his pack.

Now, she must choose between the career she’s always wanted and the love she’s always dreamed.


Video Book Trailer



My Review

Whoo-wee! Now this a fairy tale where mature women need only apply. April Bostic brings the heat and then some in this paranormal romance filled with erotic scenes and forbidden love between species. Can a human girl fall in love with a wolf? Paige Donovan does. She overcomes her qualms about what might be involved if she allows her half-human lover to claim her. She'll become a part of his pack, a group of inbred mythological wolves who live in the wilderness cut off from modern society and exhibit no inhibitions when it comes to getting naked. Paige quickly realizes that she's in for a lot more than she bargained for, but her love for Riley Gray, ultimately trumps her better judgment.

Throughout the beginning of the novel, Paige flips back and forth when it comes to making a decision. Should she stay or should she go? Her rational mind is telling her to pack it up and head back to Manhattan and live a normal life. But she can't control the impulses of the flesh when she's around Riley. He bears his body to her, as well as his heart. In fact, he can't seem to stay away from her bed, tempting her with what they could become. Ultimately, he lowers her defenses until she can no longer resist his advances. At first, she thinks she's indulging in nothing more than a casual fling, and that she'll be able to walk away from Riley when the time comes. But by enjoying his body, she gets more than physical with him - she lowers the barriers surrounding her heart, making her question what she really wants.

In the second half of the book, the action intensifies as another member of the pack tries to seize Paige from Riley. A bloody battle ensues where there can only be one victor. Riley puts his life on the line in order to save Paige from succumbing to a fate neither of them saw coming. Additional forces come between the couple as Paige's mom intervenes and catastrophic injuries befall both sides. It's only through the intervention of the Norse gods that their course is righted and the possibility of their having a future together is reestablished. The conclusion ultimately straddles both sides of the line as Paige and Riley find a way to balance fantasy with reality. It's a blend sure to satisfy both romance lovers and paranormal fans alike.

***

The Howling Heart can be purchased at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, Books a Million

Prices/Formats: $6.95 ebook, $17.62 paperback
Pages: 234
Publisher: Eternal Press
Release: August 8, 2013
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

April Bostic is a New Jersey-based, Adult Romance author who enjoys unleashing her creativity and letting her imagination run wild. Her love of romance books inspired her to become not just a reader, but also a writer. In December 2008, she self-published her first novel, a contemporary romance with a supernatural twist entitled "A Rose to the Fallen".



Her first short story, "Right Here, Right Now", released in January 2012, is an erotic romance with a dash of S&M. The following year, she released two more short stories: a romantic urban fantasy inspired by the Greek myth of Eros and Psyche entitled "Eros, My Love", and a sexy romantic comedy entitled "Love Addiction".



After five years, she released her second novel, "The Howling Heart" in August 2013, a paranormal romance that delves into the mystical world of werewolves and Norse gods. To end her busiest year in publishing, April will release her fourth short story in December 2013, an 18th century paranormal romance entitled "A Dark Scandal".

Links to connect with April:
Web Site
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Scott A. Lerner - Ruler of Demons - Advance Review and Giveaway



About the Book

Only eleven shopping days till Christmas. And less than a week to save the world.

Three nuns—in Chicago, Paris, and Jerusalem—have been killed in a religious ritual. The choice of victims and the macabre details of their deaths indicate that someone is following a recipe provided on an ancient text—a recipe to unleash the forces of hell on earth. The final sacrifice must occur on the Winter Solstice.

Samuel Roberts, a small-town attorney in Urbana, Illinois, knows a bit about the supernatural, having triumphed at least once over the forces of evil. Thanks to a friend who is aware of Sam’s little known previous efforts on behalf of mankind, Sam is hired by a big Chicago law firm to take on a sensitive case. His mission? Nothing less than halting the impending apocalypse.

Sam and his good buddy Bob travel first to Jerusalem then Paris in a desperate race to save mankind.


Link to read an excerpt.

My Review

THE DA VINCI CODE with a holiday twist is the perfect gift to give the mystery lover this holiday season. Scott A. Lerner continues his Sam Roberts' series of paranormal whodunits with this Christmastime caper. The hunt is on as he tries to track down a ritualistic killer who's been conducting a string of gruesome murders across the globe. Nuns are being slaughtered on sacred ground in an attempt to bring about the apocalypse on the winter solstice. The individual responsible allegedly obtained a top secret manuscript from the Vatican on how to perform unspeakable acts of evil in order to force the second coming of the Messiah. There's just one problem - it might actually be a how-to manual for summoning the devil. This recipe for human sacrifice is all about taking the holy and making it profane.

Lerner keeps the pace brisk and the action non-stop as Sam and his sidekick, Bob, travel the world from Chicago to Jerusalem to Paris in the hope of thwarting the sadistic plot after a severed tongue ends up in Sam's kitchen. Realizing the extent of the danger they're in, Sam begins to question the people they're working for - a hotshot yet highly secretive attorney, an influential cardinal and an ex-Marine who's now an ordained priest. They're doling out a great deal money for Sam to conduct his investigation, but are they really setting him up to take the fall?

The changes in location help place the novel in the religious and historical framework that Lerner constructs. An archeological site in Israel grounds the story in antiquity. A French farmhouse built on the remnants of a Catholic church adds a spiritual element. The rooftop of a Chicago skyscraper brings things back to the modern threat that evil poses complete with an elaborately constructed altar. All of these settings combine with a protagonist who is more of a suburban atheist than anything else. Sam's belief in logic and living in the now directly opposes the nature of the crimes he's trying to solve, giving the book an added sense of tension as the reader is forced to look at things from the outside in.

Christmas may be threatened, and even though Sam Roberts might believe more in Santa Claus than in God, he's going to do everything in his power to keep the forces of evil at bay - or at least for another sixty-six years until they can be summoned again. If the end of the world won't stop Americans from indulging in the holiday season, nothing will. So let the sleuthing festivities commence and check the suspense aficionado off your list by purchasing this gem of a thriller. RULER OF DEMONS might not be bursting with peace on earth and yuletide cheer, but for the murder mystery fan who gravitates toward the macabre, it makes the perfect stocking stuffer.

***

Ruler of Demons can be purchased at:
Amazon

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Pages: 202
Publisher: Camel Press
Release: December 15, 2013
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Author and attorney Scott A. Lerner resides in Champaign, Illinois. He obtained his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and went on to obtain his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. He is currently a sole practitioner in Champaign, Illinois. The majority of his law practice focuses on the fields of criminal law and family law. Mr. Lerner lives with his wife, their two children, and their cat Fern. Lerner collects unusual antiques and enjoys gardening, traveling, reading fiction, and going to the movies. His first novel, Cocaine Zombies, won a bronze medal in the mystery/cozy/noir category of the 2013 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Awards.

Links to connect with Scott:
Web Site
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cheryl Malandrinos - Little Shepherd - Guest Post and Giveaway



Guest Post

THE BLESSINGS OF FRIENDS

If I started counting down the list of what I am thankful for, we would be here a very long time. God has blessed me richly. So, I’m going to focus on the blessing of friends.

In the years I’ve been involved in the publishing industry—both as a writer and a book promoter—I’ve been so blessed to have the support of friends from around the world. There are the fellow writers who critique my work. Where would I be without their gentle direction? Most likely, still unpublished. How about my mentors, who encourage and inspire me? On some of the darkest days of my career, when a rejection truly got me down or things weren’t going as planned, their desire to see me succeed pushed me beyond the sadness and got me writing again. And who can forget those publishers who have taken a chance on a late starter who didn’t even plan to write for children in the first place? I wouldn’t even be writing this post right now if it weren’t for them.

In the years I’ve been promoting books online, I’ve met hundreds of authors, publicists, and bloggers. I’m blessed that my fellow writers have confidence in my abilities to promote their work. There are so many companies out there now. It’s touching to know someone chose me. Virtual book tours have been going strong for years. Every time a publicist agrees to work with me, I’m grateful to have a chance to represent their clients. And I couldn’t do any of this without the help of bloggers who simply love talking about books. As someone who runs seven blogs and contributes to dozens of others, I know how much work it is. What a blessing every time one of these men or women says, “I would love to participate in this tour.” Some of these people have become my closest friends, even though we’ve never met.

No matter how you’ve helped me along over the years, I hope you know how appreciated you are and how much I am touched by your support and friendship. May God bless you now and always.

Happy Thanksgiving!


About the Book


Obed is in the hills outside Bethlehem when the angels appear to announce the Savior's birth. Can he trust that the miracle of the first Christmas will keep his flock safe while he visits the newborn King?


Prices/Formats: $9.95 paperback
Pages: 16
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Release Date: August 21, 2010
Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, Guardian Angel Publishing


Excerpt

Off in the distance, a wolf howled. Obed moved closer to his flock, scanning the hills for any sign of a pack that might race in and steal his sheep. His family depended upon the sheep for food and their wool for clothing. No sheep would be lost under his watch.

He shivered inside his cloak. While the days were getting warmer, the nights still chilled him. He walked over to the large fire blazing inside the pit. He rubbed his hands together and held them up to the fire to warm them.

Above him, the sky twinkled with millions of stars. Obed couldn’t remember a night so clear.

Suddenly, a bright light filled the sky.

Obed trembled. “Father, what is happening?”


Video Book Trailer:



About the Author

Cheryl Malandrinos is a children’s author and freelance editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, released by Guardian Angel Publishing, and A Christmas Kindness, released by 4RV Publishing, under her pen name, C.C. Gevry. A digital version of A Christmas Kindness will be released in 2013.

Since 2007, Cheryl has been an online book publicist specializing in virtual book tours. She is a member of the SCBWI, a book reviewer, and blogger.

Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two children. She also has a son who is married.


Links to Connect with Author:
Web Site (Cheryl Malandrinos)
Web Site (C.C. Gevry)

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Joyce Zeller - Maddie's Choice - Review and Giveaway



About the Book

Romance writer Maddie Taylor is fed up with New York City. She is getting nowhere with her latest manuscript and does not believe true love exists outside of her imagination. When a friend, Jonah Spartman, dies and wills her half of his Arkansas cattle ranch, she sees the chance for a new beginning. Jonah has also left behind two orphaned great-grandsons desperate for affection and an accounting book in the red.

The other half of the failing ranch belongs to Gideon Spartman, Jonah’s grandson, who believes all capacity for love was torn from him during his tour of duty in Afghanistan. Rugged and sexy, Gideon is the enthralling physical manifestation of the hero in Maddie’s current manuscript. He is far from happy to be sharing an inheritance that is rightfully his. As she senses the need behind Gideon’s rough and unwelcoming exterior, Maddie acknowledges her own yearning for love and family.

Jonah’s will requires Maddie to stay on the ranch for three months. When that time is up, will she return to her comfortable but emotionally barren existence or embrace the challenges of her new life, which include cattle rustlers and drug dealers? Maddie’s choice proves to be far from simple.


My Review

The sexual tension in this book is off the charts, and I love that it's written by a feisty grandma who just so happens to be one hell of a romance novelist. Kudos to Joyce Zeller in penning a story that gets the pulse racing and the heart pounding. Maddie and Gideon are a couple you won't soon forget. The electricity between them will have sparks shooting out of your e-reader.

Maddie's the isolated writer, depressed and alone in the teeming metropolis of New York City. Gideon's the rugged, chiseled cowboy just home from the war in Afghanistan. They're both dealing with mental health issues to varying degrees. Maddie needs some fresh air in the great outdoors, not to mention some companionship. While Gideon needs a shoulder to cry on and someone to unburden the guilt he's been carrying after the atrocities he witnessed in combat. They're two battered souls looking for safe harbor from the dark clouds hovering above them.

For a girl who's never even been to Wal-Mart, Maddie is hoping to impress with her bright red boots and her take no prisoners attitude. But she's bowled over when she has a 'time stands still' kind of moment, worthy of any romance novel, when she first lays eyes on Gideon. He feels it too, but instead of flirting, he resorts to sparring with her. He's afraid of experiencing any kind of emotion, and he tries ever so hard to keep her out of his heart.

But to no avail. Maddie's already daydreaming about what it would be like to spend the rest of her life with him. In her mind, she can't help comparing him to every other man she encounters. Gideon craves her affection, even though he tries to deny himself. He's been bottled up for so long, it's like he's a ticking time bomb ready to go off. They have an awkward first attempt at expressing their love, getting lost in their utter neediness. The second time around, they're both ready for it. Gideon overcomes his fear of hurting her and Maddie experiences a new awakening. Zeller sums it up best by saying, "She'd written this scene in a dozen books. Finally she got to experience it."

Maddie and Gideon come from two completely different worlds, but together they just work. For once, Maddie doesn't feel like she's in a temporary situation. It feels permanent. She can set up roots with this man after breaching his defenses. He's no longer lost in his world of death. She saved him from that. And he brought her out of her fantasies and back into the real world by interweaving her life with his. Now they're determined to take care of each other, and there's nothing more romantic than that.

***

Maddie's Choice can be purchased at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $14.95 paperback
Pages: 274
Publisher: Camel Press
Release: September 1, 2013
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Joyce Zeller has written articles for a magazine and a cooking column for a chain of suburban newspapers north of Chicago. She has written five books and published two, The Hidden History of Eureka Springs, and Accidental Alien, a work of science fiction, both available on Amazon. Her short story, “Love is a Seed,” is featured in Embrace: A Romance Collection, (2012 Goldmine Press). Joyce has served in the United States Army. As a professional perfumer (School of Perfumery, London, England) and an aroma-therapist, she made custom fragrances in her store. Her creation, Mountain Air, was declared the Arkansas Sesquicentennial Fragrance in 1965. Her latest achievement was getting elected as Alderman to the Eureka Springs City Council. Maddie’s Choice is a romance with her favorite theme, that being human is a lonely business, but for everyone there is somebody to love. It’s a matter of finding them. There will always be kids and animals in her books, and always, humor, “because life without humor is unthinkable.”

Links to connect with Joyce:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog
Blog Tour Site



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Monday, October 21, 2013

Beverly Stowe McClure - A Pirate, A Blockade Runner, and A Cat - Guest Post



Guest Post

ORGANIZED CHAOS

When I was teaching, I was very organized. My lesson plans were made in advance. Worksheets and tests for the students were run off on the copy machine ahead of time. I recorded grades daily or whenever needed. At home I set aside certain days to clean the house, wash the clothes, iron, shop at the supermarket, and run my boys from ball games to friends’ houses and other places their busy schedule demanded. Yup, I was an organized lady, until I started writing.

When I made the big decision to write stories and articles, the word “organized” disappeared from my vocabulary. “Chaos” replaced it. With my schoolwork and housework, I stayed busy from sunup to sunset. Finding time to write was a challenge. I hear many of you nodding “yes.” Chores and left-over things to do danced in my head at bedtime, keeping me awake instead of getting my beauty sleep. As I grew older, I needed sleep more and more, and I especially longed for the beauty part. I couldn’t go on moving like a Zombie for long. Something had to give. I needed to organize my writing. What? Wouldn’t organizing my house be easier? Actually, a cluttered house doesn’t bother me too much. A cluttered story does. So I had to figure a way to change from my haphazard method of writing and stop wasting my time. I read articles on getting organized and time management, especially for writers. I looked at what other authors were doing, copying down the ideas that I liked. Now, to organize my stories and characters, I do these things.

One: I interview my characters. The normal stuff like name, age, school, family, likes, dislikes, pets, sports, music, favorites, etc. When I ask the characters questions, what they don’t say sometimes is more informative than what they do say. As the story progresses and I learn more about the characters, I add to the interviews.

Two: Since I usually work on more than one manuscript at a time, I like to use index cards for pertinent information in each chapter of each story. The book title, chapter, page numbers, and word count go at the top of the card. Then I add the setting, like school, Kate’s room, beach, etc. I also list the characters in that chapter. And very important for me because my memory lasts about as long as an ice cream cone in my hands, I write two or three sentences about what happens in this particular scene. I tape the cards to poster board so I don’t misplace them. With the cards and interviews, I can quickly look up eye/hair color, determine whether these characters have met before, the character’s goal in a scene, and anything else my brain has hidden away in a secret corner.

There are many different ways to sweep chaos out of your writing room and invite organization to come in. I’m still working on mine. Now I have a sort of “organized chaos.” How do you stay organized?


About the Book


Thirteen-year-old Erik Burks’ life is falling apart. When he discovers a lace bra in the glove compartment of his dad’s car, his mom leaves his father and drags Erik from being king of the hill in Texas to the bottom of the pits in South Carolina. No Dad, no baseball, no friends, just Starry Knight (a girl who reads minds) and her equally weird brother, Stormy, the twins that live down the block.

Just when Erik thinks life can’t get any worse, while hanging out at the beach one evening, he and the twins notice lights radiating from the lighthouse. The only problem is the lighthouse was deactivated years ago. Stranger still, a ship materializes in the moonlit harbor. Curious, the twins and a reluctant Erik investigate and discover the ghost of a blockade runner, a phantom cat, and a pirate who prowls Charleston Harbor, all searching for rest.

A former nonbeliever in the existence of ghosts, Erik cannot deny the proof before him. And he has a revelation: The ghosts may be the answer to his desire to return home. Erik soon makes a deal with the ghosts. He’ll help them find what they’re looking for so their spirits can rest in peace. In return, the ghosts will scare Erik’s mother so she’ll be on the next flight back to Texas. Star thinks his plan stinks, but Erik wants his life back, even at the cost of his mother’s sanity.


Prices/Formats: $5.50 ebook
Pages: 240
Genre: MG/Tween Paranormal
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing
Release Date: January 4, 2013
Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, MuseItUp Publishing


Excerpt

“Have you seen the lights?” Star asked.

On the day we met she told me to call her Star or Starry. Either way she was from outer space. I glanced over my shoulder at the football field length of tall grass separating the beach from the nearest houses.

“You mean those?” I pointed at the hazy glow around a street lamp. “What’s the big deal?”


 “Not those. Over there.” Star tipped her head in the direction of the water. “Look.”


 “I’m looking. I’m looking.” Why was she so excited? All I saw was a faint beam of light floating across the inlet. “So? It’s a reflection of the moon.”

Star shook her head. “No moon tonight.”

She was right. Yet stars (the heavenly kind, not the girl) glittered between the layers of gathering clouds. “Okay, it’s only the starlight.”

“The light comes from the lighthouse,” Star said.

“You can see it blink on and off,” Storm added.

Morris Island Lighthouse stood several hundred yards into the water. According to Mom, who was big on history, the water was land during the Civil War. Over the years the sea had eroded the shore and water now surrounded the lighthouse. I couldn’t deny the yellow glow flowing from the top of the building. I couldn’t explain it either.

“Impossible. Mom said the lighthouse has been out of commission for years. The lantern was removed. Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse across Charleston Harbor replaced it.”

“Then tell us what it is, Erik,” Star said. “You see it. Storm and I see it. This isn’t the first time, either. On cloudy, rainy nights the light flashes on.”

“It’s not raining,” I said.

“It is raining.”

Star had barely said the words when a gust of wind whipped across the beach. Sand spiraled like a Texas dust devil. Something wet slapped me on the nose. Several somethings wet—raindrops. The space girl predicted the weather. So what? Dark clouds usually brought rain. “Yeah, it’s raining.” Under my breath I mumbled, “And I’m getting wet.”

In a lame attempt to pep me up about my new home, Mom had promised many adventures waited for me in Charleston. Adventures? Yeah. If you called ocean waves slurping against the shore and neighbors with two grains of sand each for brains adventures, I was up to my wet nose in adventures.

The twins stared into the gloomy night, watching the light fading into a dim sliver.

The rain seeped into my T-shirt, gluing it to my skin. Lightning raced across the sky. I shivered. I’d had enough. I shook Stormy’s shoulder. He kept his eyes focused across the inlet. Star didn’t budge. They could drown if they wanted. I was outta there. I jumped to my feet, turned, and took one step, before Star snagged my ankle.

“Wait. Where are you going?”

“Home, before I turn into a duck with webbed feet,” I yelled above the whistling wind and growling thunder.

She freed my ankle and stood. Raindrops plastered her carrot-red hair against her face. “Besides the light, we’ve seen a ship, Erik. It always comes during bad weather.”

Stormy sprang up. “We think someone in the lighthouse is warning the ships.”

“Who? How? They can’t.”



About the Author

Beverly Stowe McClure, a former teacher, is now enjoying a second career: writing. She never planned to be a writer, but in the classroom she and her students did such fun activities in art and science that she decided to write about some of them. Luckily, a few magazines liked what she sent them, and her articles have appeared in Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, Ladybug, Focus on the Family Clubhouse, Jr., and others. Nine of her stories have been published as books, the latest one a MG/Tween eBook: A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat. She also has two stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies.

Beverly enjoys discovering her ancestors in her genealogy research. She plays the piano. (Thank you, Mom, for making encouraging me to practice.) She takes long walks where she snaps pictures of wildlife and clouds, and of course she reads, usually two books at a time. She teaches a women’s Sunday school class. Watching baseball (Go Rangers) is another of her favorite activities. Retirement is fun.


Links to Connect with Author:
Web Site
Blog

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Joe Sergi - Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures - Author Interview



Interview

1. How did you come up with the title? 
As this is the second book in a trilogy, I wanted to come up with names that reflected that the books were related. The original titles for the books were Sky Girl: Rebirth, The Adventures of Sky Girl, and Sky Girl: the Return. Then, one day I mentioned my book to a friend, who thought it was odd that I was writing a series of novels about a stewardess. Apparently, sky girl was slang for a female flight attendant. At the same time, I was re-watching the Indiana Jones trilogy for the umpteenth time and noticed that my DVDs had been re-named “Indiana Jones and the” before the original movie names Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom. (It was always Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.) At this time, JK Rowling was also doing the same thing with her Harry Potter books. So, in order to communicate the comic book aspect of the character and book across to the reader, I started each book with “Sky Girl and the Superheroic.” After realizing that Sky Girl and the Superheroic Rebirth sounded unpleasant and messy, I changed it to Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy, which fit more with the theme of the book. The second book became Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures, and the third became Sky Girl and the Superheroic Return. The title ties all three books together and also clues the reader in to the comic book aspects of the character and story as being in the superhero genre. 


2. Is there a message in your memoir that you want readers to grasp? 
Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures is a fun story that I hope entertains. At a deeper level, it is about taking responsibility and growing up. I hope DeDe will serve as a role model. She is independent and strong and knows what she wants. But, she is also responsible and knows what she has to do. How she handles that, tells a lot about her character.


The move to have a Sky Girl, as opposed to a Sky Boy, was a deliberate decision. This is true for two main reasons (other than the obvious reason that I think female characters are fun to write.) First, I wanted to explore how superheroines react to conflict differently than their male counterparts and show how those different reactions turn comic book conventions on their head. A great example of this appears in the current book (Sky Girl the Superheroic Adventures) when Sky Girl meets Penny Pound, another heroine. The typical comic book convention is that the two characters would fight first over a misunderstanding and then team up to take on the real villain. As you will read, Sky Girl's resolution to that conflict is unique and therefore less clichéd. Another example of the distinction between how girls and boys resolve conflict plays out in the third book, which is coming out next year. In one scene, a villain wants to prove he's the best by challenging Sky Girl to a fight. Sky Girl responds, "Let me get this straight, you're not going to hurt anyone or steal anything? You just want to fight to prove you’re better than me?" Bad guy nods. Sky Girl says, "Okay, you win. I’ve got better things to do today." Then, she flies off, leaving a dumbstruck villain alone in the street. Faced with the same situation, a Sky Boy would probably take the challenge, fight, lose, and eventually emerge victorious in the inevitable rematch (probably with a new costume and chromium cover). The books explore these conflicts in a comedic way, because of course, Sky Girl’s best friend Jason (a diehard comics aficionado) finds her responses quite frustrating.


The second reason I chose to write about a female superhero is much more personal to me – the birth of my daughter. As a proud geek daddy, I wanted to share my hobby with my daughter and looked for characters to inspire her. Sadly, I found very few. With a couple of exceptions, most of the female characters from early comics were merely eye candy fawning with unrequited love over the male protagonist or were relegated to the role of guest star (or even hostage) in their own books. Even the few that started as everywoman characters rapidly developed into über pin-up babes in the 1990s and 2000s. In keeping with this trend, I tend to get a lot of Sky Girl sketches from fans and professional comic book artists that are far too suggestive for a16-year-old heroine. I try to address this phenomenon in subtle ways -- like having DeDe dress down Jason when he makes a sexist joke – or with Sky Girl’s refusal to put a symbol on her chest or wear skimpy clothing. Thankfully, things have gotten a lot better for the modern female comics character, but the industry still has a long way to go. Female characters should have the same chance to grow, develop, and overcome adversity, just as male characters do.


My hope is that Sky Girl represents a strong female role model who always tries to do the right thing. She isn't perfect. She makes mistakes. But, she learns from her mistakes and, most importantly, she never gives up. In Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures, Sky Girl has to deal with some heavy emotional things like the death of her father, the fact that her mother is moving on with another man, and the ever-changing relationships around her. But, just because she allows herself to be emotionally open and vulnerable, that doesn't mean she is weak. Dealing with adversity makes her that much stronger when she triumphs over it. 



3. How much of the book is realistic? 
The Sky Girl story takes place in a small New Jersey suburban town named Colonia. And while some of the names of the locations in the books are fictitious, the places in the Sky Girl books are real. Like DeDe, I grew up on Hartland Court in Colonia. And while some of the names have been changed, you would certainly recognize the location if you see them. For example, DeDe’s school is based on my alma mater, Bishop George Ahr High School. Of course, when I attended Bishop Ahr, we didn't have evil chimps or giant robots. But I haven't been there in years, so that may have changed.

Colonia, New Jersey, still continues to be the primary setting in Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures. However, given that this book is a series of interrelated adventures, as opposed to an origin story, I was able to include a lot more locations outside of Colonia. A number of locations in New Jersey are featured in the book, including: an attempted robbery of the First Bank of Colonia; a secret portal located at The Edison Memorial Tower and Museum in Menlo Park; and a hunt for the Jersey Devil in Jenny Jump State Park. I should also mention that there are cameos and references to many of the unique NJ places from my youth, like Merrill and Roosevelt Parks, the Menlo Park Mall, and the Krauzers convenience store where I used to buy my comics, as well as some imagined places, like the Colonia Memorial Cemetery.

When the first book came out, I was pleased that The Home News Tribune and USA Today touted that Sky Girl was Central New Jersey's first Superheroine. I’m not sure how accurate that statement is, but she is certainly Colonia’s first superheroine. If only I could get her on the Wikipedia site for the town.
 



4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book? 
In the Sky Girl books, the main character, DeDe, is an only child who lives with her widowed mother, Dianne. But, this wasn’t always the case. In the first outline of the story, DeDe’s mother had remarried and had another child, who would have been around 8 years old (the character’s name was Andy, based on my middle name.) I planned for Andy to be DeDe’s pesky little brother, who would serve as mostly comic relief (especially after he learns DeDe’s secret and tries to blackmail her). DeDe’s stepfather, James Peck (Jimmy Stewart+Gregory Peck), was going to be perfect in every way. This would have infuriated DeDe since he had essentially replaced her father. At some point very early on, it became apparent that these extra characters only complicated the plot and didn’t add anything to the main story. I also found that DeDe’s dislike for her step-father for such a long period of time diminished her likeability. So, they were cut from the novel. I believe the books are much better after this change. But, sometimes I miss having Andy and James Peck in the book. 


5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
As funny as it sounds, the hardest part of the book was keeping track of spelling. Sky Girl takes place in a multitude of dimensions. There are aliens, villains, and magicians in the book, each of whom have a unique speech pattern. Not to mention that the story contains numerous fictional scientific and magic devices. While it was certainly fun making up these devices (the Forget-Z-Not, a memory eraser created by the villainous Professor Z, is one of my favorites), I had to keep a separate dictionary to keep track of them. I soon realized why Bruce Wayne just puts the word Bat in front of his equipment; it makes it much simpler and easier to keep track of.

An additional challenge was Jason’s dialogue. Jason uses perfect English and doesn’t use contractions. This is deliberate. As a result, Jason’s dialogue is some of the hardest to write in the book because of the conscious effort it takes to not use contractions. I have to read it out loud and stress every consonant. 



6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? 
I don’t know if this qualifies as “writing” but I learned a lot about picking the right publisher. The decision to choose a publisher can be very difficult. With the first book, I had the choice between the subsidiary of a large publishing house and small press start up. The large press wanted me to sign away all rights, including the ability to write my own sequels. So, I went with the start-up. It was a decision I would come to regret. Not only was I responsible for most of the up-front costs and for promoting the books, but the start-up did not make royalty payments on sales before going out of business. Worse than that, the company did not offer any discounts to bookstores or bulk purchasers, which limited sales. It was a very expensive lesson that could have been avoided with some upfront research.

I think that I made the right choice with the second book. I went with Martin Sisters Publishing. Martin Sisters Publishing is very focused on supporting their authors. There is even a community of published authors that share ideas on marketing and promotion. And while small presses are more limited in their mainstream brick and mortar distribution outlets, the internet has made the small press model more viable. Sky Girl is available at all online booksellers and can be ordered in brick and mortar shops and chains. Given the fact that the first book sold primarily at comic conventions and book festivals, a small press author discount, which in my experience is much bigger than the ones offered by large and midsize publishers, is essential. Finally, with the small presses, authors have more control over their intellectual property and the marketing of the material, which suits me fine. 



7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? 
There really wasn’t a light bulb moment. I have always been a story teller (much to my parents’, and teachers’, chagrin). I always smile when people ask me how long I’ve been writing. I think the real answer is forever. Some of my earliest memories including laying in the back seat of my parents’ car during long road trips creating comic books based on my favorite Saturday morning cartoons or writing the screenplay for a Star Wars inspired opus, complete with the marriage of Luke and Leah (I had even cast the movie with neighborhood kids when we finally realized that none of us owned a movie camera.) In high school, I often annoyed teachers by taking the most mundane assignment and giving a unique twist. (For a career fair assignment on employment advancement, I outlined the steps that could be employed by the President to manipulate the Constitution to create a monarchy.) In college, I was once accused of plagiarism because “a business major could not possibly be this creative.” In law school, I wrote articles and edited scholarly journals and magazines. Currently, I work as a senior litigation counsel for a government agency. As a litigator, you could say I have been a professional non-fiction writer for decades (and quite frankly earn much more per word than I will probably ever make writing fiction.)

As for my career as an author, my first real fiction publication was in an issue of Trail of Indiscretion Magazine that came out in 2009. I met the publishers at the Baltimore ComicCon and was so impressed with their magazine that I wrote the first draft of Death Imitates Art on the train on the way home. Death Imitates Art is about an author, who is promoting his novel about a Cult at a science fiction convention. He meets a group of warriors who thinks that the cult is real and madness ensues. I submitted it and, although they liked the concept, a lot of rewriting was necessary. I learned a lot through that story—especially what not to do. That same year, I became a semi-finalist in the Who Wants to Create a Superheroine contest sponsored by the Shadowline Imprint of Image Comics. That experience taught me that comics have their own language. Afterwards, I enrolled in all of Andy Schmidt’s Comics Experience classes to help learn all facts of the craft.

Since then, I have learned a lot about writing and comics. I have written articles, novels, short stories, and comic books in the horror, sci-fi, and young adult genres. My first novel, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy, was selected Best of 2010 by the New PODler Review. In addition to appearing in a few comics anthologies (Indie Horror Magazine, Aliens Among Us, and Don’t be Afraid), this year I released the sequel to Sky Girl (Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures) through Martin Sisters Publishing and edited a comic anthology, Great Zombies in History through McFarland Press. I also write a regular column on the history of comics and censorship for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF.org).

When I don’t write about zombies, aliens, and superheroes, I work as a Senior Litigation Counsel in an unnamed government agency and am also a member of the adjunct faculty at George Mason University School of Law where I taught Unincorporated Entities. 



8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? 
This is a really hard question. There are so many great authors. Ray Bradbury is certainly at the top. JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books are masterpieces that I can read over and over again. Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire series is better than some of the Star Wars movies. Frank Miller, Chris Claremont, and Roger Stern changed my life with their comic book writing. Brian Michael Bendis and Robert Kirkman changed it again when they came on the comics scene. So I have to punt on this one and not give my favorite author. Instead, I will give my favorite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. (I don’t think Harper Lee counts as my favorite author since I’ve only read the one book.)

Not only is To Kill a Mockingbird a compelling story with amazing prose and symbolism. But, there are a lot of lessons to be learned from Atticus Finch. Although Superman is my favorite hero, Atticus is a pretty close second. In fact, I have been told that when I was very young, my mother was reading me the scene in the book that takes place at the court house right after Atticus defends the rights of Tom Robinson. All the townspeople stand up as Atticus walks by (“Stand up Scout, your father is passing.”). Apparently, I interrupted the narrative and announced with determination, “I’m going to become a lawyer.” And I did. 

 



9. Tell us your latest news. 
In addition, to the Sky Girl book, this year I edited a comic anthology called Great Zombies in History through McFarland Press. I also write regular articles on the history of comics and censorship for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF.org).





Great Zombies in History is a new graphic novel anthology released from McFarland Press. I met a talented group of writers through Andy Schmidt’s Comics Experience writing classes and we decided to form an independent comic imprint called Elevator Pitch Press to showcase our work. We have released several anthologies that have ranged from horror (Don’t Be Afraid) to grind house (Girls with Guns) to science fiction (Aliens Among Us). Great Zombies in History is an anthology of historically accurate stories, but written to include zombies. For example, I wrote The Zombie War of 1812, which features the real reason that Washington, DC was burned during the war. Rob Anderson, writer of the best-selling Big Dog, Inc. book, Rex: Zombie Killer and who acted as editor on the original project, did a story about how zombies helped King Leonidas and his army of 300 Spartans hold their own against immeasurable odds. 





I should also mention that I write regular articles for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF.org) on the history of censorship in comics. It takes a lot of work to do those columns, but I believe the CBLDF is an important organization and am glad to help them in their mission to protect comic creators against censorship. I recently did articles on the rise and fall of romance comics, a before and after analysis of the comics code on reprinted books, and detailed histories of Sheena, Superman, and Wonder Woman. People with an interest in discovering the history of comics or censorship should check them out.





Next up for me, is my first non-fiction book, Comic Book Law, Cautionary Tales for the Comic Creator, from McFarland Press. It’s not a secret that I am an attorney and I find that when I appear at shows, I am often asked about the legal side of the business. People are always asking about the latest case or the history of a certain character. My upcoming book came up as a result of some my guest appearances on Comic Geek Speak and articles I’ve written for Ape Entertainment’s now defunct Comics Now! Magazine. Basically, Comic Law features the stories behind the cases. For example, most people know that DC Comics was sued over Superman by his original creators, but they probably don’t realize that the case was a roller coaster ride that took almost 70 years to resolve. In addition, the book provides guidance, but not legal advice, to comics creators who want to understand the basics behind concepts like copyright, trademark, contracts, and censorship and how they relate to the comics industry. And while Comic Book Law is certainly not meant to be a “how to” book, there are a lot of good and bad examples of what creators can do to protect themselves. In addition, these behind the scenes stories should also be entertaining to non-creator comic book fans as a peek behind the curtain of the industry they love. For example, the book discusses the original inspiration for Josie and the Pussycats, explains why Captain Marvel became Shazam, and discusses how the Comics Book Code nearly killed the industry and resurrected the superhero.



10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just to say “thank you.” Readers are awesomely dedicated to books. I mean sure, as a writer, I have to be dedicated to creating the story and provide entertainment. But at the end of the day, I write for me—because I have a story to tell. I would write if no one ever read it. (For evidence of this, you should look at the sales figures for some of my earlier work). Readers on the other hand, have no such compulsion. They spend their valuable time and money on someone else’s work. There are a lot of great books out there by some amazing authors (living and dead). As a result, these people don’t need to take a chance on me (or any other unknown), but they do. I really appreciate that. And nothing is more rewarding than someone coming up to me at a show and telling me that they really loved my book, or that it is their daughter’s favorite book, or that they made (or had someone make them) a Sky Girl costume for Halloween or a ComicCon. If you want to know a secret, book festivals and comic conventions aren’t that lucrative for me (I rarely ever make my table cost). But, writing is pretty solitary, so the chance to meet people is priceless.

To these people, I say “Thank you!”

I will also have copies and be signing the book at some upcoming show appearances, some of which include: Baltimore ComicCon (September 7-8); The Collingswood Book Festival (October 5), New York ComicCon (October 10-13), and the Festival of the Book (October 19). These shows are great fun and a wonderful place to connect with readers. I’ve even had a few old and young cosplayers come up to my booth to show me their Sky Girl costumes, which was extremely flattering.


About the Book

Being a teenage girl is hard enough, but for DeDe Christopher, it is proving impossible. In addition to cliques, books, and boys, she has to worry about capes, apes, and aliens. Last year, DeDe discovered that she possessed fantastic abilities that were strangely similar to those of a comic book character named SkyBoy.

With the help of her best friend Jason, a self-professed comic geek, DeDe accepted her legacy and became Sky Girl. Now, DeDe must learn what it means to be a heroine as Sky Girl faces the all too real enemies and allies of SkyBoy, including the clever Quizmaster, the beautiful Penny Pound, the enigmatic Jersey Devil, and the magical MissTick.

DeDe must also face personal challenges as she discovers the secrets of her late father and his connection to Skyboy--secrets that will affect Sky Girl’s destiny.

Prices/Formats: $6.99 ebook, $15.95 paperback
Pages: 272
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Martin Sisters Publishing
Release Date: May 31, 2013
Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble



About the Author

Joe Sergi lives outside of Washington, DC with his wife and daughter. Joe is an attorney and a Haller Award winning author who has written articles, novels, short stories, and comic books in the horror, scifi, and young adult genres. Joe is the creator of the Sky Girl series of novels and the editor of Great Zombies in History. His first novel, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy was selected Best of 2010 by the New PODler Review. Joe is a life-long comic fan who regularly writes on the history of comics and censorship for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. When not writing, Joe works as a Senior Litigation Counsel in an unnamed US government agency and is a member of the adjunct faculty at George Mason University School of Law.


Links to Connect with Author:
Author Web Site
Book Web Site

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tim & Debbie Bishop - Two Are Better - Author Interview



Interview

1. How did you come up with the title? 
We were in the shower one morning discussing the title of the book. Debbie suggested: Two Are Better Than One since we had studied the book of Ecclesiastes together before we were married. We loved the verses in chapter 4 starting with that very phrase. Tim didn’t need any convincing, as that title reflected our cross-country bike trip quite well. After all, we never would have done that trip alone! So, the preliminary title became Two Are Better Than One. When a friend reviewed an early manuscript, he suggested that we shorten the title to Two are Better. We think it works well with a longer subtitle. 


2. Is there a message in your memoir that you want readers to grasp? 
Don’t give up on your dreams. It is never too late. And there is always hope. When you rest in the hollow of God’s hand, and you allow Him to shape your dreams, you can rest assured that He is faithful to accomplish them in you. 



3. How much of the book is realistic? 
Since we designed our book as a testimony to God’s goodness in our lives, and to convey some spiritual truths that we had learned along the way, sharing authentically was important. Had we left out or altered relevant and material facts, we ran the risk of either minimizing or misrepresenting what God had done in our lives. Friends who reviewed the book were impressed with the honesty and transparency in Two Are Better. We believe an effective memoir requires this. 



4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book? 
Yes. We would have had Debbie narrate more of the story. She was working full time at a demanding job and did not have the time to write during the school year, when Tim was doing most of the writing. We also made a strategic decision to trade an even more detailed narrative for the beautiful photography that we chose to weave into the story. The visuals are such an important aspect of bicycle touring and add a unique feature to a paperback that comes with high production quality. Most early readers really enjoyed this aspect. 


5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The writing was not as difficult as some design considerations. Early on, we grappled with two challenges: how to share each of our perspectives; and whether to reproduce the book in color and, if so, how to lay out the photography. The latter challenge was an economic one because producing a full-color book is costly. Conventional industry wisdom for a book like ours would suggest it be printed in black and white. But that didn’t feel right given how important the visuals were to this bicycle tour and to this story. Having a color interior also helped with the first issue. We used different text colors for each narrator. 



6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? 
Tim felt that he improved both as a writer and as a grammarian while working with professional editors throughout the book writing process. Debbie has taught writing in an elementary school for years, but found writing for an adult audience to be a challenging adjustment. The marketing process has come with a significant learning curve. We’ve embraced industry advice that says, “Books don’t sell themselves, people do!” 



7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? 
Tim won a race-car set as a youngster when he wrote an award-winning letter to Santa Claus! He also won a timed essay contest amongst college freshmen. Debbie won some early writing contests in elementary school. Journaling has been a lifelong passion for her. In his twenties, Tim wrote his own personal treatise on his spiritual beliefs. Writing was a necessary ingredient to documenting his findings.



8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? 
Tim likes Dan Miller’s books since they helped walk him through a life-changing time. Dan’s books are practical, yet gently provocative. Miller is a creative thinker who uses logic, case studies, and conventional wisdom to motivate his readers toward positive change. Debbie likes a variety of authors because she reads so many different genres. She likes deeply descriptive authors who immerse you into their books’ scenes. Each author possesses unique, incomparable gifts. 



9. Tell us your latest news. 
Debbie retired from her position as a Literacy Specialist in the public schools in June 2013. She hopes to do more reading and writing while pursuing other opportunities in the near future. Tim has been doing some consulting work as well as advancing the Open Road Press business, including our blog and book marketing.



10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Life is short. Make the most of every moment—plan adventures, pursue dreams, and cherish your spouse. Sharing life doubles your investment.



About the Book


From an engagement to a cross-country trip in just ten weeks? And with no experience in bicycle touring—or marriage? While Tim left behind a 26-year corporate career and familiar surroundings, Debbie was about to enter a “classroom” she hadn’t seen in her 24 years of teaching.  Was it a grand getaway or a big mistake?


Prices/Formats: $7.99 ebook, $19.95 paperback
Pages: 208
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Open Road Press
Release Date: May 15, 2013
Buy Links: Amazon, Open Road Press

Excerpt


Just 15 minutes into the day, we arrived at Rogers Pass and the Continental Divide.  When I saw the sign, I was shocked.  You’re kidding! I thought.  Where are the Rockies? We had seen so few snow-covered mountains.  Climbing through the Rockies had been much easier than expected and, other than Lolo Pass, did not seem like climbing at all.  Rogers Pass only stands 5,600 feet above sea level.

Unbeknownst to us, we had been ascending and fast approaching the beginning of the downhill ride east.  Another friendly tailwind had shrouded the climb.  But we weren’t about to get cocky.  After all, there were 3,000 miles to go.

Arriving at this landmark would not have surprised most bicycle tourists, but it did surprise us.  We had done so little pre-trip planning and were so busy with other aspects of the trip that we hadn’t reviewed the map in detail, except when making immediate decisions about when and where to turn.  But sure enough, there it was on the map: the Continental Divide!

The phantom climb up Rogers Pass seemed insignificant, but the descent was a treat.  The eastern side of the pass was steeper with some switchbacks.  My fearless wife, who sees no use for brakes when descending, flew around the curves and down the mountain.  After all, why use brakes and spoil the fun after you worked so hard to get up the hill?  Wasn’t this the reward? Of course, she does have a good point!



About the Authors

Debbie Bishop has taught for over twenty-five years, for the past ten years as a literacy specialist in Framingham, Massachusetts. She has a passion for reading and seeing that young people do it well. She also has high interest in recovery issues and encouraging others with her own triumphs over struggles earlier in her life. Debbie also serves as a Hope Coach for TheHopeLine.

Originally from Maine, Tim Bishop has over thirty years of experience in business, first as a CPA, then for many years in various roles in the corporate world. In addition to consulting for small businesses, Tim serves as a Hope Coach for TheHopeLine, a nonprofit organization that seeks to reach, rescue, and restore hurting teens and young adults.


Links to Connect with Authors:
Web Site


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

John A. Karr - Ghostly Summons - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Lars Kelsen doesn’t believe in psychic phenomenon. To him, visions of murder victims are a form of mental illness. Once they begin, options are limited; he can try to ignore them or deal with them by exposing a killer. Only the latter provides any semblance of peace. Temporarily, anyway. Five years into his new life as a programmer, Kelsen—ex-crime beat reporter with a penance he can never fully satisfy—sees a victim.

In person. Upright. Staring.

Typical of such past "Visits" as he calls them, he doesn’t welcome this one. The nude form of a beautiful millionairess in his cubicle means murder has come to the vacation haven known as North Carolina’s Outer Banks. It means he’ll have to go places he'd rather avoid. See things he'll wish he hadn’t. Do things that don't come naturally, like in-your-face confrontation and bending the law. Actually, breaking the law ... but with good intent. It also means dealing with one very attractive county coroner, who pushes his buttons in a not entirely unwelcome way.

So begins Kelsen's return to investigative reporting—complete with attempts on his life, fights, deception, and all the technological tricks, such as GPS and computer hacking, at his disposal. And maybe even finding a new love interest.


My Review

Lars Kelsen can see dead people, but author John A. Karr bumps things up a notch by making his main character a fully grown adult, already battered and bruised by the travails of life. Lars starts seeing these visions after his young son is murdered and now these lost souls are turning to him for justice. Lars used to be a crime reporter, but he gave it up to seek solace among the Outer Banks. He thought he could run from his ghostly encounters, but he's wrong. He gets reeled back into journalism when Jeanette Broughton starts summoning him from beyond the grave.

Jeanette is the one gracing the book cover. It's only fitting since she was an actress and knew how to capture an audience's attention. She beckons the reader into Karr's pages and doesn't let go until the very end. The way her body is found is definitely unique, a fresh approach when it comes to the mystery genre. The military is practicing a fighter jet run. The pilot drops a bomb in a wildlife sanctuary and Jeanette's corpse resurfaces out of a marshy swamp ... on camera. First chapters don't get better than that when it comes to hooking a reader from the get go. It's crazy. It's improbable. But it works.

And Lars is the perfect counterpoint to the woman he's trying to avenge. They're both disillusioned when it comes to marriage. Jeanette cheated on her husband with younger men. Lars hit the singles scene hard after his divorce. They're both a little vain when it comes to their appearance. Jeanette was of Native American descent but chose to dye her hair blonde. Lars enjoys the compliments he receives from the ladies and makes sure to keep in shape by jogging with his dog. They're both thrill seekers seeking danger. Jeanette liked to race speedboats and ride ATVs. Lars jumps off a bridge trying to get away from someone trying to shoot him on a motorcycle. If things had turned out differently, they would have made the perfect pair.

Karr is adept at in-depth characterization even down to the supporting cast. The players are three-dimensional. They're not flat or cookie-cutter. The back story of the pilot, Darius Williams, is compelling and the description of where he lives really paints a clear picture of what he's all about. Even the playful back and forth banter with Lily, his next door neighbor is fully fleshed out. She only has a few lines of dialogue but from them the reader can discern she's a Latina who's fed up with her husband. She likes to flirt with Lars, but probably wouldn't go any farther with him because she respects his dog too much. Then there's Ethan Crull, the surfer slash lifeguard slash stereo installer. He's a wise guy punk whose hostile exchanges with Lars really jump off the page. He doesn't care about anyone except himself and Karr does a great job in illustrating that.

Overall, Lars Kelsen is multi-faceted. He's a thug, a heartthrob, an action hero, a ghost whisperer. He's a sleuth readers will enjoy getting to know if Karr decides to make the character into a series. There are a lot of areas still left to explore when it comes to the demons Lars is facing over his son's death. Although, Lars doesn't enjoy his ghostly visitors, Karr's readers sure do. Hopefully, there will be more of them.

***

Ghostly Summons can be purchased at:
Kindle, Nook, Kobo

Prices/Formats: $3.99 ebook, $17.99 paperback
Pages: 326
Publisher: Dark Continents Publishing
Release: March 14, 2013
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

John A. Karr believes fiction writing each day helps keep the demons at bay. Ghostly Summons is his first full-length novel for Dark Continents Publishing. DCP has also published his Weird West novella, Ujahwek. He is the author of a handful of other novels: Death Clause, Hippocrates Shattered (scheduled for reprint by World Castle Publications as Shattered), Rhone, and Van Gogh, Encore. His short stories have appeared on webzines Allegory, The Absent Willow Review, and Danse Macabre. More works are in progress and in the marketing queue.

Karr is an ardent believer in the quote by Carl Van Doren (1885-1950), U.S. man of letters: Yes, it's hard to write, but it's harder not to.

Links to connect with John:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog
Blog Tour Site



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Monday, July 29, 2013

Anne Elisabeth Stengl - Dragonwitch - Excerpt and Giveaway

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Dragonwitch

A New Tale Is Added to this Christy Award-Winning Fantasy Saga!

Submissive to her father's will, Lady Leta of Aiven travels far to meet a prospective husband she neither knows nor loves--Lord Alistair, future king of the North Country. But within the walls of Gaheris Castle, all is not right. Vicious night terrors plague Lord Alistair to the brink of insanity. Whispers rise from the family crypt. The reclusive castle Chronicler, Leta's tutor and friend, possesses a secret so dangerous it could cost his life and topple the North Country into civil war. And far away in a hidden kingdom, a fire burns atop the Temple of the Sacred Flame. Acolytes and priestesses serve their goddess to the limits of their lives and deaths. No one is safe while the Dragonwitch searches for the sword that slew her twice...and for the one person who can wield it.
 

Excerpt:

The Twelve came to the doors of Omeztli Tower and their voices carried from the ground to our high perch above.

"Cren Cru commands. Send us your firstborn."

I clutched Tlanextu's arm in terror. I could not bear to lose him! He took my hand and held me gently.
Then we saw a powerful form rising up from Itonatiu Tower. It was Citlalu, our father. He flew across the city, his wings like a griffin's, like a roc's, blocking the sunlight from view they were so vast! He landed before us, and I shivered with fear and love at the sight of him, for he was King. A true King.

Not like the foolish little kings we see nowadays wearing crowns, waving swords and scepters, ruling by feeble kinship-rights. He was King of Etalpalli, bound to the realm by his own blood, by the beat of his heart. He was strong as the nation itself, stronger, I thought. The pinions of his wings were like daggers, like swords, and he shouted down to the Twelve below:

"Be gone, back to your master! You will take none of mine into that Mound, not while I have life yet coursing through my veins!"

His voice shook the foundations of Etalpalli. I thought the Twelve would run, would scream with terror, would flee the storm of his gaze.

They did not. They merely turned and retraced their path to the Mound and the concentric circles of bronze.

But the next day, they returned. Once more they called up to the heights of Omeztli: "Cren Cru commands. Send us your firstborn."

Once more, my father denied them.


 
Author Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a passel of cats, and one long-suffering dog. When she's not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and studies piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of HEARTLESS, VEILED ROSE, MOONBLOOD, STARFLOWER and DRAGONWITCH. HEARTLESS and VEILED ROSE have each been honored with a Christy Award.


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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ernest Dempsey - The Dream Rider - Author Interview


Author Interview 

1. How did you come up with the title?
The story came as a result of a series of dreams and in the story, the main character travels through space and time via his dreams, so it just made sense. Plus it sounds cool.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yep. Believe in yourself. Let go of fears. Expand your mind and your character to become something better, something awesome.

3. How much of the book is realistic?
20% Although, if it turns out that the theories about dream travel are actually correct, more like 70%. Based on current knowledge, though, 20.

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
No. I like how it turned out. Some people wanted a longer book. Most of myfeedback the readers was that they thought it was a great length, just under 300 pages. Many of them said they read it in a few days and that the flow was perfect. I'm pretty light on developing my characters in one book so that allows for a lot of good action and plot to move along quickly.

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Deciding on the main plot. I wrote half of the book three times before I decided which plot line I liked the best. So, I ended up trashing about 80,000 words.

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
That I enjoy writing from the first person. It makes the whole experience a much more detailed affair, I think.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I've just always had stories running around in my head.

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Steve Berry. His story flow, the details of each setting, the characters, the action, the way he weaves a puzzle with ancient history. All of it is just so amazing.

9. Tell us your latest news.
I'm working on the third book of my first trilogy which will tail into an ongoing series with those characters. When I'm done with that I will be writing the follow up to The Dream Rider.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just that I sincerely appreciate each one of them. My readers are so kind hearted and full of great things. They really are awesome people. I get emails from many of them, some who are going through tough trials in life. I just hope that I can take their minds off of their difficulties and make them smile or think about something else for a while. Maybe even help them work through their issues. I want to tell them thank you for reading my books and enjoying my stories. Most of all, I want to thank them for pushing me on to keep writing. I do it for the ones who say, "hurry up and write the next one." That is the best compliment an author can get.


About the Book

Finn McClaren is an average college student until he wakes up on an alien world on the other side of the galaxy. He is forced to face some of his greatest fears and fight through a series of gladiator games in an effort to overthrow an evil emperor and free the people of the entire planet.

Prices/Formats: $0.99 ebook (limited time price)
Pages: 273
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Enclave Publishing
Release Date: June 14, 2013
Buy Links: Amazon



About the Author

Ernest Dempsey is a Science Fiction and Action/Adventure author from Chattanooga, Tennessee. He has a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and a Masters in School Counseling.

Dempsey has been writing since he was in high school but only sought publication three years ago with his first action adventure thriller The Secret of the Stones. That genre is one he is a huge fan of and loves the works of Dan Brown, Steve Berry, Clive Cussler, and James Rollins along with some of the classics such as Alexandre Dumas and Edgar Poe.

As a high school counselor, he constantly saw young people reading the same old tired stories about vampires and werewolves and decided young people, and people in general, needed to have something different to read. The Dream Rider was born out of a series of nightmares Dempsey had over the period of a month in 2006. Now those stories come to life on the pages of his innovative Science Fiction novel for the world to enjoy.


Links to Connect with Ernest:
Blog
Facebook
Twitter







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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Kindle Fire Giveaway - Summer 2013

Kindle Summer

This is a joint AUTHOR and BLOGGER GIVEAWAY EVENT! 
Bloggers and Authors have joined together and each chipped in a little money towards a Kindle Fire HD 7".

Kindle Fire HD 7" Giveaway

The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HD (US Only)
  Or $199 Amazon.com Gift Card (International)
  Or $199 in Paypal Cash (International)
 

Sponsoring Bloggers and Authors

  1. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
  2. Feed Your Reader
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  4. Jessabella Reads
  5. The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Somthing Year Old Girl
  6. Books Unhinged by StacyHgg
  7. S.A. Larsen - Writer's Ally
  8. Author Inger Iverson
  9. The Geeky Gamers
  10. annakyss
  11. Everyday Word Magic
  12. Candance's Book Blog
  13. Page Flipperz
  14. SMI Book Club
  15. Laurie Here
  16. Feed Your Fiction Addiction
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  18. The Book Bellas
  19. Please Don't Remove MarGreat's Glasses
  20. Author Jennifer Laurens
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  24. Author Heather Bixler
  25. Literary Meanderings
  26. Suspense Author Kim Cresswell
  27. Mother Daughter & Son Book Review
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  30. Author Camelia Miron Skiba
  31. Author Lena Sledge
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  33. Author Dianne Venetta
  34. Curling Up with A Good Book
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  40. Turning Pages
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  43. My Devotional Thoughts
  44. Author Talia Jager
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  46. Sher A Hart: Written Art
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  48. Word to Dreams
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  50. Tasty Book Tours
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Giveaway Details
1 winner will receive their choice of a Kindle Fire 7" HD (US Only), $199 Amazon Gift Card or $199 in Paypal Cash (International). There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire. Sponsor a future Kindle Fire Giveaway by signing up HERE. Ends 8/15/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the participating authors and bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

R.J. Larson - King - Excerpts and Giveaway

 

King 
by R.J. Larson

Fantasy Meets the Old Testament in a Novel That Will Reach Readers of All Ages.

Against his wishes and desires, Akabe of Siphra has been chosen by his people to be King. But what does a warrior know of ruling during peacetime? Guided by the Infinite, Akabe seeks to rebuild the Temple in the city of Munra to give the sacred books of Parne a home. But dangerous factions are forming in the background. To gain the land he needs, Akabe must forsake the yearnings of his heart and instead align himself through marriage to the Thaenfall family. Meanwhile, Kien Lantec and Ela Roeh are drawn still closer together...while becoming pawns in a quest to gain power over the region. As questions of love and faith become tangled with lies and murderous plots, each must seek the Infinite to guide them through an ever more tangled web of intrigue and danger.  



Excerpts

1. [Akabe, Siphra's king, meets Ela of Parne.]  

Her prophet’s staff in one hand, Ela stood with her two formidable chaperones just beyond the fringe of her makeshift canopied study area. Akabe eyed the prophet’s staff. The branch, Ela called it. An ordinary-seeming piece of vinewood. But he’d seen that branch glow like fiery-white metal, illuminating Ela’s dark hair and eyes with the Infinite’s power.
Healing her of fatal wounds.

Now the image of a model Siphran, Ela bowed. When she looked up at Akabe, her big brown eyes shone, serene. She appeared, for all of Munra, to be nothing more—or less—than a lovely young lady in a flowing tunic and embroidered mantle. Yet Akabe knew better than to be lulled by her delicate appearance. Strengthened by the Infinite’s Spirit, this girl felled kingdoms.

Never, for as long as he lived, did he wish to become a target of this prophet’s warnings.


2. [Akabe, Siphra's king, meets Ela of Parne.] 

Aware of his watching courtiers, Akabe acknowledged Ela with a nod and a polite smile. “Prophet. I have a new student for you.” Master Croleut nudged little Barth of Siymont forward. Scuffing his boots over the pavings, the boy halted before Akabe with an unenthusiastic sigh.

Akabe struggled to sound serious. “Barth, remember what I said.”

“Yes, Majesty.” Barth looked up at Ela. His eyes widened and, ever Siymont’s courtly son, he fluttered his lashes. “I have a loose tooth!”

“Do you?” Ela seemed thrilled. “Well, if it falls out during lessons, we must be careful to save it. Now, Barth, these are my chaperones, Tamri Het and Matron Prill. And they’re very strict with me, so I must behave. You’ll help me, won’t you? Do you have a writing tablet? No? You may borrow mine….”

Watching her, Akabe wished he could join the class.


3. [Prophet, Ela of Parne, at a feast with Akabe, Siphra's king.] 

A hired servant brought cups, then filled them with juice from a metal pitcher beaded with moisture. They all waited until the king lifted his cup. Following his lead, they drank.

Ela couldn't help draining her juice, despite its tartness. Let Tamri and Prill frown at her appalling manners—she was thirsty. Finished, she looked for the servant, but he’d vanished.
Beside her, little Barth grumbled, “Mine tastes sour.”

Akabe grimaced at the pitcher left in their midst. “True. The aftertaste is bitter.”

Aware of an unpleasant icy burning around her lips and down her throat, Ela flung aside her cup. “Majesty…!”

She wrenched Barth’s half-empty cup from his small hands. He already looked sick.

Matron Prill threw down her own cup and said the word Ela feared to voice.

“Poison!”


4. [Akabe speaking to his Royal Council.]  

“I’m well aware of that fact, my lord. My knife-wound from last year and this morning’s blisters have made the dangers of kingship abundantly clear. What are you failing to say?”

Faine hesitated, his delicacy at odds with his blunt face. “You need an heir. We’ve agreed you must marry.”

“But have I agreed?” Akabe studied his council members' faces. To a man, they nodded, death-serious.

“Yes, sir, you must.” Faine harrumphed, adding with an awkward cough, “Duty.”

“Ah.” Duty. Perfect reason to marry. Nothing could be less inspiring to a prospective wife, Akabe was sure. “Do you believe there’s a young lady somewhere in Siphra who is brave enough to live in this marble inconvenience of a palace—with a man who is clearly marked for assassination?” While they blinked at his acidity, Akabe continued, “Should we also warn her that she’d be sentenced to a life of cold food, perpetual gossip, and endless ceremonies? Surrounded—forgive me, my lords—by packs of staring royal courtiers who’d follow her to the privy to discuss business?”

His council members shifted guilty glances here and there. Faine attempted a joke. “Majesty, you make life in the royal court sound so uncomfortable.”

“It is.”


5 [Ela, Prophet of Parne, talking with her father, Dan Roeh.]

Dan Roeh glanced at Ela’s basket and the branch, then sighed. “It’s been a long day. We didn’t need the king’s men here questioning us half the afternoon—they set us behind schedule. But, at least you didn’t cause another revolution.”

“I didn’t cause Siphra’s revolution!” Well, not entirely. She gave Father a fierce look.

He grinned. “If you say so, Prophet.” As they descended the steps, Dan asked, “Have you reconsidered? About marriage?”

“No.” Marriage. Again! Ela kept her tone mild, despite her growing frustration. “Father, why does everyone insist I must marry? It would be disastrous!”

“I’m not convinced it would be disastrous,” Dan countered. “But your husband needs enough strength and status of his own to endure everything you’ll bring to the marriage.”

Ela’s stomach clenched. “You talk as if you’re considering marrying me off! Father…!”

“I could,” Dan said, unnervingly quiet. “And I believe I should.




Author R. J. Larson

R. J. Larson is the author of numerous devotionals featured in publications such as Women's Devotional Bible and Seasons of a Woman's Heart. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with her husband and their two sons. Prophet marks her debut in the fantasy genre.


Giveaway Details
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 7/23/13

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