Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What's that reflection in the coffee machine?

Our Texas son might be moving to Colorado soon, and our Utah son might move to Portland. In between, we'll offer help choosing apartments, assessing the beauty of views, and searching for furniture. We may even travel to see them too, put bookshelves together and books onto shelves, or offer food and drink. But for now most of our help is offered by internet and telephone, our conversations sprinkled with such strange questions as "Do you think that's a bathroom cabinet behind the next-picture arrow?" and "Is that a reflection of the living room in the side of the washing machine?" Would I even believe this dialog if I read it in a book?

Anyway, long dialogs are my reason for being so late with these book reviews, and much coffee has been consumed. So choose your novel, and choose your brew!

The End of the Line, By Jim Power, looks at society moving rather than people, in a sweet interracial romance that perhaps offers a chance at ending that line between separate and equal. A son's loyalty to his mother and a daughter's to her father are challenged as love grows between them, for all that Latesha tries to pretend Peter's just a very helpful friend. With a great sense for people and place, nicely humorous dialogue, and a touch of Shakespeare (the play must go on), this is a fun, fast and maybe even thought-provoking romance, best enjoyed with a balanced full-flavored three-star coffee.

Dream Student, and Dream Doctor, by J. J. DiBenedetto, are books one and two of an intriguing mystery series. The novels follow the life of an 80s pre-med student who suddenly finds herself hearing her neighbors' dreams, which is fine if the neighbor happens to be falling in love with her, but less so if they're dreaming of walking naked across the stage at graduation. Still worse are the dreams of a predator, but how can you tell ask the police for help catching him with only dreams to guide you? In Dream Doctor, the protagonist marries and enters medical school. with co-ed dorms and too much alcohol flowing, these stories are set against a very real 80s and 90s backdrop, but the characters are warm-hearted, honest, and kind. They suffer the consequences of their mistakes with grace. And I'm eager to read more. Enjoy this series with some bright-lively, easy-drinking two star coffee.

A fun magical book for small children is Magical Toys, by Uncle Amos, a nicely told tale of a boy who would rather play than put his toys away. Bright simple illustrations attract the eye, and there's even a narrated video bonus for kids to enjoy on their computer. A couple of the pictures don't match the text too well, but they're all bright and interesting, and the lesson's well taught. Enjoy with a mild crisp one-star coffee, then tell your kids to tidy up.

And finally, here's something completely different. How Did We Become Angry, by Paula Rose Michelson offers intelligent spiritual Biblically-based help to women whose low self-esteem leaves them forever angry and waiting for the other shoe to drop. Read it slowly, do the exercises, look up the references, and drink some mild crisp coffee to refresh you.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Reservation Mystery, with Respect

Today I'm delighted to welcome author Gary Eddings to my blog. He's the authorof Hollow Point, a  mystery suspense for age 13 and up, where everyone on and off the Reservation might be suspect, and a dangerous drug is could claim more innocent victims while a killer goes free. Gary Eddings is one of four mystery authors touring the net with Juniper Grove this week, so don't forget to read the rest of this post and learn about more books, as well as entering a wonderful giveaway!

Having long been hooked on Tony Hillerman's mysteries, and more recently on Montana and Dakota by Gwen Florio, I knew exactly what I wanted to ask Mr. Eddings:

How do tribal issues influence the way you write?

And here's his answer. Thank you so much Gary!

Having had some Native American friends during my life, it occurred to  me that the whole issue of Native American culture in our country was lacking. The indigenous folks of course already knew this for years.  I want to write about contemporary Native cultural action with others. There are plenty of historical works out there, so this seemed to be a natural fit. 

Being the astute high school know-it-all who had a Nez Perce friend whose Great Grandfather just happened to be Chief Lawyer of Chief Joseph’s band, I began to ask some questions that were not well thought out. As a matter of fact, this guy’s friendship with me began as a fist fight at a home football game and it grew from there. Visions of this circulated in my head when I saw him become miffed at the interrogation. I received some answers, although some where a little hard to hear through his gritted teeth.

That is when I started to learn a bit about cultural sensitivity. Over the years I have acquired several Native friends and acquaintances from all walks of life and have since figured out through a great deal of trial and error that there is no one thing that can define an individual Native’s traits any more than a Non-Native’s. Respect seems to be a common thread for most people I have met, though.

I think that part of my challenge as a fiction writer is to maintain as much of that respect as possible in the stories, yet not avoid some of the attributions that cause problems sometimes greater than the world around them.  For instance, in Hollow Point I highlight the problem of drug usage by the teens without disparaging the work the Tribe does in caring for the addicted. Sometimes it is a fine line, even though it is fiction.

Thank you for allowing me to be your guest!

Thank you Gary. And your post certainly makes me want to read your book.

Title:  Hollow Point
Author:  Gary R. Eddings
Published:  January 2014
Publisher:  Champagne Book Group
Word Count:  60,000
Genre:  Suspense, Thriller
Recommended Age:  13+

About Hollow Point

There is no such thing as an ordinary traffic stop, something Tribal Officer Pat Colson is reminded of when pulling over a dusty old Buick. Before he knows it, shots are flying and he is huddled behind his police cruiser for cover.
In the ensuring investigation, a sizable amount of methamphetamine is discovered in the suspects’ vehicle. Uncut and very potent, the question is where does it come from— the Reservation or elsewhere?
With everyone on the Reservation becoming a suspect, and little information to go on, Colson must act fast to stop the dangerous drug from killing more innocent victims and stop a murderer in his tracks.

About the Author:
I retired as a fire department EMS Division Chief for Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue in 2005. I have been writing seriously since mid-2009, and this is my second novel with Champagne Book Group. I am also a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. I am the father of four and the grandfather of three; a two year old grandson and newly-minted twin girls.

And now for some information about the other three books...

Title:   Compass North
Author:  Stephanie Joyce Cole
Published:  December 2013
Publisher:  Champagne Book Group
Word Count:  81,000
Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Romance, Mystery/Thriller
Content Warning:  Minor Violence
Recommended Age:  16+

About Compass North:

 Meredith slips into a new identity and a new life in a small town in Alaska, she discovers it’s not that easy to leave behind the baggage from her past.
Set in the spectacular natural landscape of Southcentral Alaska,
COMPASS NORTH tracks an unexpected journey of personal reinvention.
Reeling from the sudden breakup of her disastrous marriage, Meredith barely escapes a freak accident in Alaska and is presumed dead. She stumbles into a new identity and a new life in a quirky small town. As new friendships grow, Meredith has to learn to trust in herself again.
When a romance with a local fisherman unexpectedly blossoms, Meredith’s secret jeopardizes her hopes for future happiness. And someone is searching for her, someone who will threaten Meredith’s dream of a reinvented life.

About the Author:
Stephanie Joyce Cole lived for many decades in Alaska before she recently relocated to Seattle, WA, where she lives with her husband and a predatory but lovable Manx cat. She has an MFA in Creative Writing, Fiction from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Her goal is to write books that are both thought-provoking and entertaining, and that will carry readers into an adventure in small-town Alaska.

Title:  Mortal Coil
Author:  Julie Eberhart Painter
Published:  May 2009
Publisher:  Champagne Book Group
Word Count:  79,000
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Recommended Age:  14+
About Moral Coil
When two residents in Ellen Lange’s nursing home die, Special Investigator Bill Watts is called to the scene. With the murders linked to others, known as the Ponytail Crimes, it’s only a matter of time before the killer strikes again.
Bill is a Southerner; Ellen was raised in the Midwest. Despite her efforts to remain aloof, Ellen finds herself falling in love with more than the South…

About the Author:
Julie Eberhart Painter raised in Bucks Count, Pennsylvania, boyhood home of James A Michener, is the author of Mortal Coil, Tangled Web, and the 2011 Book of the Year, Kill Fee, and sequel, Medium Rare from www.champagnebooks.com. Daughters of the Sea, e-book and print. Julie’s first paranormal romance, and Morning After Midnight are available from MuseItUp Publishing.

Title: A Burning Truth
Series:  A Cady Delafield Mystery # 2
Author:  Joyce Proell
Published:  February 2014
Publisher:  Champagne Book Group
Word Count:  85,000
Genre:  Historical Romantic Suspense
Content Warning:  Sexual tension, light violence
Recommended Age:  17+

About a Burning Truth

In 1881, the air in Chicago is rife with worker discontent, yet business titan Doyle Flanagan is hopeful for the future. He looks forward to a lifetime of peaceful bliss with Cady Delafield and leaving the wretched past behind. But his life is once again thrown into disarray when his office is vandalized and the night watchman viciously murdered. Clues lead to a powerful organized labor movement. Targeted in the press as anti-labor and with a big rally staged next door to his offices, Doyle must uncover the culprits before his wedding plans and his livelihood go up in smoke.
Plagued by memories of four brutal deaths, school director Cady Delafield is determined to drive the recent tragedies from her mind and enjoy being courted. Although his commanding personality threatens to overshadow her, Doyle Flanagan is the most dynamic man she’s ever met. When another tragedy unfolds placing him at the center, she takes action—action that could shatter her future dreams.

About the Author:
Joyce grew up in Minnesota and attended college and grad school in Chicago. After working in mental health as a clinical social worker, she retired to write full-time. Her first book, Eliza, was published in 2012. A Burning Truth is the second in the Cady Delafield series. When she isn’t writing historical suspense or romance, she loves to travel, winter in Florida, swim, read and walks almost every day. She loves chocolate almost as much as crossword puzzles. She and her husband make their home in rural Minnesota in her very own little house on the prairie.

Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • Five mystery eBooks from Champagne Book Group. Books will be selected at random from publisher.
  • $20 gift card to either Amazon or B&N, courtesy of Joyce Proell
Giveaway is International.

Rafflecopter giveaway

Find out more. Follow the other tour posts at...

Link to the event page:  http://junipergrovebooksolutions.com/multiple-author-mystery-tour/

Monday, April 14, 2014

Obsidian Towers and Groves and Giveaways

Fantasy4-Banner photo Fantasy-Banner-2.jpg

 There's a four-author fantasy tour going on over at Juniper Grove,with a great giveaway (see end of this post), and some wonderful excerpts being offered online, plus some fascinating guest posts from the authors. I'm delighted to welcome L. T. Getty, author of the middle grade fantasy Tower of Obsidian to my blog today, and, since her novel is recommended for age 13+, I had to ask...

  • There is an age recommendation of 13+ for your book. Which comes first, the story, the book, the audience or the age recommendation, and how does it affect your writing process?
 Over to you L. T., and thank you for visiting my blog.

For me, the first draft is about telling myself the story. Sometimes I have a very clear picture of whereFantasy4-Author Getty photo LT-Getty-Pic.jpg I want the story to be go, what I want the conflict to be, and even who the characters are - but often times, it changes as I start to delve into the story and learn who the characters really are. Tower of Obsidian would be a very different story if I'd gone with very different lead characters.
This is why I can't be a true plotter - don't get me wrong, I've written series and I have notes to keep me on track, but the notes are guidelines, and it's not uncommon for me to divert from a sequence I've already written because I've learned to trust my creative process. Usually when I start to develop a decent feeling for the book, I'll write a very rough synopsis of where I expect to go - this allows me to skip around and write scenes that I feel strongly about so that I can start bridging the sequences together. When I seem to have a strong narrative, I think about sending it off to my beta reader.
All this being said, I have delved into YA and middle grade, and I have to say, they're both very fun genres to write in. When I'm anticipating to write for a younger audience, my general rule is not to talk down to them. The audience can handle difficult subject matter, but it's also not a good idea to thrust too much too soon at the audience.  I find that a good rule, is not to write something adult me wouldn't enjoy on some level. 

That makes sense, and I love reading middle grade and YA novels, especially when they don't talk down to the reader. Thank you so much L. T. And here's a great excerpt to whet your readers' appetites...

Excerpt from Tower of Obsidian by L.T. Getty:

You know how the tale is supposed to go. The maiden is seized, captured by some foul villain. The hero gives chase, defeats the villain, and rescues her. The maid and hero wed and live happily ever after. But suppose it doesn’t go like that. No doubt there have been countless stories of maidens taken by villains. Some are rescued, others are killed, and however tragic their stories, they are ended.

What if one of these maidens lingered in darkness, with puzzles unsolved, her dragons unslain?

She was stolen, like so many before her and many who came after. Was she a goddess, a nymph, or a common girl of great beauty? It matters little. He seized her and forced her into a dark tower, which even the gods could not destroy. Oh how they tried, sending their sons to battle him. All failed.

The wicked sorcerer enticed her, tried to trick and confuse her, but she would never submit. In rage, or perhaps when it seemed the tide was turning, and perhaps her true love finally came, the sorcerer, rather than lose her, cursed her. He locked her in a prison, and she and the tower became one.

At last, the sorcerer was destroyed, but not sent forth to the land of the dead, or chance his evil would survive the grave. Undying, he remained a fragmented wraith, a wicked creature, the villain in countless stories. Perhaps, that was why his defeat did not undo her curse, for she remained a prisoner in the dark spire.

Her would-be hero, defeated at the end, died of a broken heart. The lands around the tower grew dark, as if the world itself knew the tale was too sad. Surely, she was worth rescuing? Surely, there was another who could save her?

Imagine then, if you were she: your beauty, your curse, and your true love stolen from you. Imagine your father playing one suitor off another. All the while, the other women despise you. Imagine being changed—much like how a god would turn a nymph into a cow, a goddess into the body of a mortal. Confined to a prison, and even if it were the finest castle in all the lands, heaven, earth, or the underworld, still a cage. All the while, you wait for a rescue which never comes. The spell will not allow you to die nor to grow old. You are stagnant in a world where stories of old become legends, and legends forgotten—dismissed as childish fancy.

No, child, surely you do not wish to know that story. Maidens must be rescued, the good endure, and evil smote. Even though you know what is true or fair is not so in your life, you expect nothing else in your story. It is how the story is supposed to go. You will accept nothing but a proper ending. Content yourself then with stories of long hair and spinning wheels.

Thank you L. T. Getty.

And now for some information about all four fantasy novels on this tour...

Fantasy4-Tower of Obsidian photo Tower-of-Obsidian.jpg
Title:   Tower of Obsidian
Author:  L. T. Getty
Published:  February 2013
Publisher:  Champagne Book Group
Word Count:  115,000
Genre:  Epic Fantasy
Content Warning:  Minor Violence
Recommended Age:  13+
When Kale mac Tadhg is betrayed by his Lord’s men, he is sent on an impossible quest: slay a witch in a tower, and end a people’s curse. Both Kale’s best friend and brother-in-arms Aaron Smithson and former betrothed Aoife of Westgate set out to rescue him, but their journey takes them into the uncharted waters and Northwestern Nordic colonies, to a land cursed and all but forgotten. They begin to realize that there is some truth to old legends. Kale’s rescue comes at a price—for by the time Aaron and Aoife know where to search, like so many before him, Kale is bound to the ancient tower’s fate.
Fantasy4-Author Getty photo LT-Getty-Pic.jpg
About the Author:
L.T. Getty started writing her first novel in junior high, and hasn’t really stopped since. She’s studied kendo, is an open water scuba diver, and has recently taken up archery, and hopes to learn to do it horseback some day. When she’s not writing, she works as a paramedic. When she is writing, it tends to be rather cheeky.

Fantasy4-Finding Eve photo Finding-Eve.jpgTitle:  Finding Eve
Author:  Rita Bay
Published:  September 2013
Publisher:   Champagne Book Group
Word Count:  13,500
Genre: Shape-shifter Paranormal
Content Warning:  Adult content
Recommended Age:  18+
About the book:
Nicholas Lyons, chief physician to the Lyons clan of shape-shifters, has mourned the death of his promised lifemate until a rogue shapeshifter reports having seen her at an exotic animal sale. Accompanied by Marie Lyons who is no stranger to the dark side, her new lifemate Anthony, and the imperious Lady Bat, he embarks on a frantic search for Eve through the dangerous world of exotic animal trafficking.
Eve, whose first memories are of recovering from an injury at an isolated animal refuge, has lived through a succession of owners in a world filled with cages and cruelty. When Eve meets Marie at the exotic animal sale, she begins to have flashes of a different life – a life in which she was something other than feline. Her last sale, however, has landed her as prey to exotic animal hunters and the clock is ticking.
Fantasy4-author Rita Bay photo Rita-Bay.jpgAbout the Author:
Rita’s journey began on the Gulf Coast. Over the years, she lived and/or traveled in the eastern US and Western Europe. While juggling family and work, she participated in archaeological digs, earned a black belt in Shotokan karate, prospected for gold and crystals, camped across Europe, and volunteered with the American Red Cross Disaster and Education Services. Rita has worked as a registered nurse, educator and school system administrator. She lives with her family on the Gulf Coast, except when she’s in Atlanta, at least for now.
Rita is published in multiple genres with several publishers including paranormal and erotic novellas (Champagne Book Group – Champagne Books and Carnal Passions), historical novels (Siren BookStrand), and contemporary F/M and M/M novellas (Secret Cravings). She posts random bits of historical trivia about western history and culture on Rita Bay’s Blog at ritabay.com.
Fantasy4-The Pact photo The-Pact.jpgTitle:  The Pact
Author:  Graeme Brown
Published:  May 2013
Publisher:  Champagne Book Group
Word Count:   17,000
Genre:  Dark Epic Fantasy
Recommended Age:  12+
About the book:
Enter the world of Will Lesterall, a boy who’s grown up in the safety of his father’s castle.
Tales of the outside world ruled by warring kings and creatures of nightmare have never seemed a threat, yet on the night celebrating two hundred years of the sacred Pact that has kept Fort Lesterall safe, intrigues ripen, and in the course of a few hours Will is confronted with a choice greater than he can comprehend.
Join an unlikely hero as destiny pulls him into the middle of an ancient conflict between fallen gods and ambitious women, one that demands blood, both holy and wicked, and the power of an ancient fire bound in steel. As swords clash below a watching wood, hope and betrayal war as fiercely as fear and valor.
Whether he lives or dies, Will Lesterall will never be the same.
Fantasy4-Author Brown photo Graeme-Brown.jpgAbout the Author:
Graeme Brown has been enchanted by the epic fantasy genre since he was a child, and consequently he started creating his own world with its stories at the age of thirteen. Influenced by writers like J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, and George R. R. Martin, he has finally brought the first of those stories to life with his debut title, a short story called The Pact—48 pages that will whisk you away to a dark, medieval fantasy world with gritty realism. When he’s not writing, he can be found exploring number theory problems or writing computer programs, training for a marathon, or unwinding in a yoga hot room. He has also explored other facets of art, both as a hobby and a profession, including vector graphics, pen and ink, classical piano, and web design. He just finished writing the first of many sequels to The Pact, A Thousand Roads.

Fantasy4-Queens Pawn photo The-Queens-Pawn.jpgTitle:  The Queen’s Pawn
Author:   R. J. Hore
Published: April 2013
Publisher:  Champagne Book Group
Word Count: 91,000
Genre:  Medieval Fantasy
Recommended Age:  13+
About the book:
Young Harow just wanted to stay on the farm for the rest of his life, but his mother insisted he go to school in the City to study to be a priest. Now the City is in flames and he is racing across unfamiliar countryside trying to get the mysterious and sensuous Queen Reginee and her extremely annoying and very spoiled daughter Desiree-Rose to safety.
Of course there is a rebel army on their heels, black wizardry afoot, and sundry and dangerous creatures and villains, monstrous and common, seductive and evil, lurking along the way. If this were not enough for the youth to worry about, the Queen’s amorous chambermaid and bodyguard Mathilde, a smallish giantess, just wants to get him alone.
Fantasy4-Author Hore photo Ronald-Hore.jpg
About the Author:
Ron can be found sailing on Lake Winnipeg when not writing novels or critiquing for an on-line magazine He won first prize for a Canadian Authors Association short story contest for a ghostly love story, but his preference is for longer works including a recent trio of medieval-style fantasies and the Housetrap Chronicles fantasy detective series through www.burstbooks.ca . Supervised by his understanding wife and a large demanding cat, most of his writing efforts continue toward fantasy, with occasional lapses into science fiction and horror.
Find out more at these other great tour stops (and don't miss the giveaway below)

Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:

  • GRAND PRIZE:  One winner will receive 5 surprise fantasy eBooks from Champagne Book Group.

Giveaway is International.