Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A season for giving, loving, and sharing...

I'm not sure where the year is going, or how it's getting there, but rumor has it Thanksgiving's almost upon us with Christmas following after.

A time of giving and thanks...
A time to remember those in need perhaps...

And a new book, coming soon, offers the chance to do both. It's called Christmas Lites III, and it contains stories from twenty-one authors who've given their time and their writing to aid victims of domestic crime:

Addison Moore
A.F. Stewart
Amy Eye
Angela Yuriko Smith
Ben Warden
Cassie McCown
Elizabeth Evans
J.A. Clement
JG Faherty
Jonathan Tidball
M.L. Sherwood
Monica La Porta
Ottilie Weber
Patrick Freivald
Phil Cantrill
Robert Gray
Ron C. Neito
S. Patrick Pothier
Tricia Kristufek
Vered Ehsani
*Brandon Eye bonus story

Editor/compiler: Amy Eye of The Eyes for Editing
Cover Design Kyra Smith

Link to the charity: www.ncadv.org

What a gorgeous coer! And what a wonderful list of authors. It's slated for release on December 3rd, so look out for more information around the internet, and enjoy!

Christmas Lites III Blurb:
The Christmas season is upon us yet again. Yes, my friends, it is a time of giving, loving, and sharing. Within these pages is a way you can help many people desperately in need of love, support, and goodness: the victims of domestic crime. By purchasing this anthology, you are sending every last dime made off this book to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The NCADV is an amazing charity that saves these people and lets them know there is still hope, still goodness, and still a reason to carry on.
Twenty-one authors have joined in this year, giving their time and their stories to these people – and to you. We all hope you enjoy our holiday tales captured in bite-size pieces. Whether you read this on the bus, before bed, or snuggled by the fire, please, do read – and share.


 For Thanksgiving reading, a book  of 30 illustrated stories from the Bible and the Holy Land gives readers 30 reasons to be thankful. Thanks to Createspace's new distribution deal, it's now available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Thanksgiving-From-Eden-Eternity-words/dp/1478264748/
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/thanksgiving-from-eden-to-eternity-in-100-words-a-day-sheila-deeth/1112663791?ean=9781478264743

For Advent, my book of 31 illustrated stories, perfect to go with that Advent calendar (chocolate or otherwise), is likewise enjoying Createspace's distribution deal. Find a review at http://jaynechaseloseke.com/2013/11/20/christmas-by-sheila-deeth/ and find the book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble at:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Genesis-Revelation-100-words/dp/1478149132/
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/christmas-genesis-to-revelation-in-100-words-a-day-sheila-deeth/1112663681?ean=9781478149132

And for Christmas, you can follow the Bethlehem's Baby blog tour at http://sheiladeeth.blogspot.com/p/bethlehems-baby-tour.html or find today's post at http://charlene-raddon.blogspot.com/

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Reading a very big book, and reviewing smaller ones

Our book group picked a very big book for November--Seven Pillars of Wisdom, by T. E. Lawrence! I'd often thought of reading it, but fitting so many close-typed pages into my schedule, not to mention such a wealth of detail, seemed impossible. Still, the book group had made its decision, and the meeting was coming soon.

Yay for book groups; with a little encouragement from spouse and friends, and the deadline of delicious food and friendly conversation looming, it was truly amazing how many words could seep into my brain. Of course, the book has pictures too, and they help. And there's always the movie, or memories of the movie, to keep things together.

All the same, I've decided I'll have to say no to at least some book review requests, or I'll never find time enough to write. But here are the books I've read recently, including those world-famous pillars, with coffee recommendations because if I don't drink more coffee I'll fall asleep over words written or read.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom, by T. E. Lawrence, is titled for the Bible verse, or perhaps for the book on seven centers of civilization that Lawrence was going to write. It's simultaneously wise and oddly naive. It tells of the math, biology and psychology of war. And it recreates a world not so long gone--a wise reminder that our world too is only recently here, and ever changing. Drink several bold dark intense cups of five-star coffee as you read, or browse, or skim--whichever, it's worthwhile.

Fateful Night book 1, What she knew, by K. R. Hughes and T. L. Burns, tackles a more recent historical question, the death of Marilyn Munroe. Built on a series of what ifs, it recreates characters very convincingly, giving a sense of watching the movie as you read. Enjoy with bold, dark cup of five-star coffee and look out for books 2 and 3 to complete the tale.

A Very Private Grave, by Donna Fletcher Crow, is set around the present day, but anchored in ancient history, making it an intriguing mix of mystery, suspense, contemporary drama and historical novel. Plus there's that gentle touch of faith, so vital to the characters in the tale, and so naturally woven into its machinations. A priest is dead. A priest is accused. And a young woman, training for priesthood, finds herself on the run with him, seeking clues to what a dear friend might have been hiding. Enjoy this elegant complex tale with a rich cup of elegant complex 4-star coffee.

And now for one set very firmly in the present day, Veil of Civility, by Ian Graham, is a fast-moving political thriller with plenty of action taking place across the world. An ex-IRA terrorist, living in America, becomes a target after a terrorist assassination on American soil, but who is behind the multiple betrayals? The politics may not be convincing, but the plot's exciting and well-told. Enjoy this one with a bold, dark, intense 5-star coffee.

Equally anchored in the present-day world is The Condor Song, by Darryl Nyznyk, a tense mix of courtroom drama, environmental thriller, and family drama, set in California where an aging mogul wants to buy land and build in an area of natural beauty and, possibly, great ecological significance. I really enjoyed the complex characters and their interactions--and the glimpse of condors! Enjoy it yourself with some well-balance, full-flavored 3-star coffee.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Secrets, Lies and Magic

I read Cassie Scot, ParaNormal Detective a while ago (click on the link for my review) so I was delighted to be offered the chance to read the second in Christine Amsden's Cassie Scott series. Secrets and Lies was released in October of this year, and takes Cassie a whole leap further in her mixed-up world, as she rationalizes magic and investigates murder with equal aplomb, while trying to deny the leanings of her heart.

Imagine a female Harry Dresden, living in small-town American rather than down-town Chicago, with some serious romantic problems and magical weaknesses, then you’ll have the feel of this fun novel and series. Family ties, self-fulfilling prophecies, mysterious magic, and that fine line between love and control all play their part in this tale, and the whole is a fascinating mystery where the characters hide as many secrets and lies as the plot, and the magic is filled with surprises.

Read on to find out more about the book and the author, and enjoy!

Cassie Scot, still stinging from her parents’ betrayal, wants out of the magical world. But it isn’t letting her go. Her family is falling apart and despite everything, it looks like she may be the only one who can save them.
To complicate matters, Cassie owes Evan her life, making it difficult for her to deny him anything he really wants. And he wants her. Sparks fly when they team up to find two girls missing from summer camp, but long-buried secrets may ruin their hopes for happiness. Book 2 in the Cassie Scot Mystery series.

Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.
At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.
In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work.
Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children.

·         Website http://christineamsden.com/wordpress/


Monday, November 18, 2013

Books for Kids for Christmas

I wonder when Christmas shoppers start looking for books. I rather suspect ebooks might be the perfect last-minute gift, since they don't require any time outdoors or waiting for deliveries. But I'm still not sure about ebooks for kids... or am I?

A friend had been hoping my Bethlehem's Baby might come out in print so she could share it with her grandson at Christmas. But her grandson loves the computer--he plays games on it, reads on it, draws on it, keeps in touch on it... And now she's wondering if it might not suit him better to read the ebook. He could demonstrate his computer skills, enlarging pictures and text, while she reads the words. Or they could read together. It's his medium, so maybe presenting the story in his medium is part of the gift.

Of course, if that's true, I might have to wait until Christmas to see my book become a best-seller. As my husband says, I might have to wait until Christmas of which year?

Anyway, here are some children's books and ebooks for your Christmas lists, with coffee recommendations--though I do also recommend you keep hot coffee away from inquiring fingers--and computers!

I think I'll start with A Christmas Star’s Wish, by Jay James Gordy, a delightful picture book where a lonely uninspiring star becomes the most perfect star in a young girl's world, and the Christmas message reminds us of deeper meanings on the final page. Enjoy a smooth well-balanced 3-star coffee with this.

Next is an illustrated children's chapbook novel, Max and the Lowrider Car, by Tonton Jim. In a small-town American world of animals, these dogs and wolves live in Hounds Glenn, pigs in Pig City, and so on. The puns are fast and fun and the story's delightfully child oriented with good honest characters and an enjoyable plot (involving a "chopped and cherry" lowrider car). Enjoy this bright tale with some 2-star lively easy-drinking coffee and enjoy sharing the book and illustrations with the kids.

Jack David, or Ann Marie, the Noisiest Kid in the Class, by Lindy Brown, are two really clever "Tell and Show" books, telling the identical stories of a noisy boy or girl. As an adult, it's interesting to see how differently the characters might be portrayed in reading aloud. But a child will be more delighted to find these are illustrated books awaiting an illustrator. Nicely designed text and bright colored borders just wait for the child to start drawing, and a bonus section at the end explains colors and artistry, just to inspire parents and children further. Great fun, a neat story, and wonderful extras, this is one to accompany a well-balanced, full-flavored 3-star coffee.

I.M. Frightful Story of the Water Witch, by Dvora Swickle, is probably more appropriate to Halloween than to Christmas, but it's a neat fun tale, nicely illustrated with easy questions for the smallest listeners, and nice lessons in listening for those old enough to learn. The scares are no bigger than a dowsing rod and a child's imagination. Enjoy with a lively, easy-drinking 2-star coffee.

Those Gingernuts cats are back in Henry the Parrot and the Gingernuts, by Peter Brighouse, a fun tale of cats on safari in England, with a parrot and plenty of puns. Enjoy with a well-balanced smooth 3-star cup of coffee---and get the print version for the pictures! Plus there's the Ginger Nuts Alphabet, for smaller children, with plenty of cat-attitude and one word (plus one great picture) per page.

The Day Abraham Lincoln saved Three Kittens, by Suzanne Evans, is a nice short historical tale about a boy, some cats, and Abraham Lincoln. There's some good historical detail in there and enough paws for adult thought as well as a child's entertainment. Enjoy with a well-balanced full-flavored 3-star coffee.

Goodbye Mr. Zig, by Susie  Epps, is a pleasant photograph book of a cat's life, simply told from kittenhood to the time when a new friend takes its place. A nice memorial to the family pet, and sweet reading with some lovely photographs, this is a short ebook to enjoy with a mild, light 1-star coffee.

And finally, for serious lovers of cats and computer art, Funky Cat’s Eyes, by Deborah Carney offers a wealth of psychedelic cat's-eye images to amuse and bemuse the observer. Browse them while enjoying a cup of mild crisp 1-star coffee.

Now to move on to reviewing those more grown-up tales...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

To cherish or be cherished

Today I get to welcome author Lakshmi Menon to my blog with her new novel, Cherished. I love novels that take me to different places, especially when I know the author has the experience to bring those places to life. And I love questions of identity. As Jyothi searches for her father in Cherished, I imagine a young woman seeking her future in the past, and her present in heritage, and I'm intrigued. 

Of course, as an immigrant t the US, I wonder how my own children will cherish their English heritage. And as a writer of children's Bible fiction, I wonder how real my depiction of a distant world can be. The world of Bethlehem's Baby is lost to history, though there's plenty of research available to help me imagine it. And the world of India? I'm glad there are authors to help me see the world through different eyes, and broaden my horizons. And I cherish the experiences their books invite me to share.

About the Author:
Born and brought up in Kerala, Lakshmi Menon, after her primary education, moved to Karnataka where she did her graduation(BA)  and courses in Journalism and Creative Writing.  Even while working  with a prestigious medical institution, she continued her passion of writing on her free time. Her short stories, articles, children’s stories and travel articles have appeared in magazines, newspapers, anthologies and on the internet.  She has authored a novel “The Second Choice” and few children’s books. In Malayalam too, she has written a serial novel  and a few short stories. Travelled widely and settled in Bangalore, Lakshmi is  the Founder and Editor of the popular eMagazine Induswomanwriting.com, which  showcases the work of both the amateur and published writers.

Connect with the Author:

About the Book:

Grishma, accompanied by her father and four month old baby, boards the train to Delhi to join her husband Praveen. She decides to give him an unexpected visit. Little does she know that her journey will end in havoc to her life. 19 years later, Grishma's daughter Jyothi, longing for her father's love and support, determines to search for him, despite her mother's strong protests. Will Praveen accept her as his daughter?

This is the story of Jyothi's pursuit of parental love, which she considers as her legitimate right.

Buy Links:

Excerpt from Cherished:

As soon as the bell rang Jyothi became nervous.  All this time it seemed an eternity before she could meet her father in person, but now when the time has really arrived she was not sure about her feelings.  Was she afraid of meeting the unseen father for the first time? Was she eager to meet him now? Was she angry with him for leaving her alone with her mother, all these years?  Unknowingly, her eyes brimmed with tears.
She walked with Vidya and Meena to the gate. She could hear her heart beating fast. She spotted a new handsome face behind the gate, a few feet away, standing alone from the crowd - a tall figure, with a smile, holding a Reader’s Digest in hand, and looking at her.
"My baby!” he whispered, at the moment their eyes locked. All her fears vanished. Like a magnet Jyothi ran to him and said, 'Papa' and clung to his extended arms as though she was a little girl who was running away to a safer place to hide. For a moment, she forgot about the surroundings, and tears rolled down her cheeks.  After a minute or two, she recomposed and released herself from his embrace.  Her father wiped away her tears as her friends still watched the emotional scene and wiped their tears of joy.  She never thought she could run to him with absolutely no hesitation.  The other girls of the College also wondered at this unusual happening in front of the College gate.
 Jyothi had hundreds of questions to ask her father, which she had been preparing for a long time to ask him. However, now it seemed there was no need for words to communicate with him at least for a while, standing with the man whom she couldn't call Dad all these years, and whom she secretly loved and  worshipped.  
As though as a second thought, she smiled at her friends whom she had left ignored for a while in the presence of her long lost father. "Papa, meet my friends Vidya and Meena. They’re my best mates, who had always assured me that I'd be able to meet you one day,” she proudly turned to her father.
"Hello children," he gazed at them with a smile.
"We're glad that Jyothi has got her father now,' said Meena.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Not stopping

I've already read and reviewed Untraceable,   Unspeakable, and Uncontrollable, so you can tell I'm enjoying this teen series which blend romance, action adventure, respect for the earth, and neat survival skills. Click the links for my reviews on Goodreads, or read on to learn how the series continues with Unstoppable. I'm delighted to be part of the author's blog tour today, revealing the cover to Nature of Grace #3 (the others were #1, #1.5--a short story--and #2). Maybe I'll even read and review Unstoppable one day.

Unstoppable Unstoppable by S.R. Johannes

 After everything that has happened, Grace goes to the Everglades to live with her grandmother, Birdee. Even though she is now home-schooled by her bird-obsessed grandmother, the move gives Grace time to relax. She learns to scuba dive and starts boating with old man Rex, Birdee's casual friend/boyfriend.

One day while out in the marshes of the Everglades, Grace rescues an abused Florida panther, currently on the endangered list. The more she dives into the animal’s horrific condition, the more she ventures into the underground world of the roadside zoos that run rampant in Florida with a total disregard for the law. Eventually, she stumbles upon one large roadside zoo filled with a variety of endangered and illegal animals.

Before she can gather evidence and report her findings to the authorities, she is kidnapped by the ruthless owner and dragged deep into the Everglades for a hunting challenge. Only this time, Grace is the prey.

During a sick game of cat and mouse, Grace is offered one chance at survival. With a one-hour head start and very little supplies, time and skill are now all that stands between the hunter and the hunted.      

sr johannesAuthor S.R. Johannes

 S.R. Johannes is the award-winning author of the Amazon bestselling thriller series, The Nature of Grace. Johannes is currently repped by Lara Perkins at ABLA. For foreign rights on the Nature of Grace series, contact Jennifer Custer at AM Heath (London).

S.R. Johannes is the YA advisor of ALLi and a winner of the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Awards (Young Adult category) as well as a Silver medalist (2nd place) in the IPPY awards for YA Fiction. She was also nominated for 2012 Georgia Author of the Year (Young Adult category), a Finalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Young Adult of 2012, and a YA Finalist in the US Book News Best Book of 2012.

After earning an MBA and working in corporate America doing marketing for over 15 years, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her dog, English-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes- someday- will change the world.

An English accent and a prince with imagination. Sounds good to me...

Plus, there's a Book Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 12/5/13 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 authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Art and Sound of Voice

Today I'm welcoming Peter Adler, author of Wyndano's Cloak, to my blog with a post on narrative voice. If you're not sure what that means--or even if you are sure--you're in for a treat. So, over to you Peter, and thank you for visiting my blog:


Voice, by Peter Adler

I’ve noticed something interesting on my eighty-minute commute to work: it’s not the plot or characters that hold my attention in the audio books I listen to; it’s the narrative voice. For those unfamiliar with the term, voice is that unique tang you hear-feel in the narration. It’s that intangible magic in the words, that thing that catches your ear, makes you smile, laugh, or cry. It’s the style of the writer, but it’s so much more than that. There are probably as many definitions of voice as there are writers. Here’s my take: voice-magic happens when the attitude of the story’s character, currently on stage, comes through in the narration.

The novel that knocked this home for me was The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, by Barry Lyga. What amazed me about the book was that the main character, who narrated the novel in first person, broke away from the story to comment on what was going on. Though these diversions didn’t move the plot forward one inch, his quips were so amusing, so entertaining, so dripping in attitude, that I was riveted.

The narrator doesn’t have to be one of the characters talking to us in first person. In my novel, Wyndano’s Cloak, I use a third-person narrator. With a few exceptions, the point of view in the story sticks with one or the other of the book’s heroines, Jen and Bit. I set myself the goal that if a reader turned randomly anywhere in the book, they could tell by the voice of the narrator if they were in Bit’s or Jen’s section. I’m not talking about dialogue here. I’m talking about the unique way a character experiences and responds to themselves and their world, how they feel, what they think. In other words, their attitude.

For example, Bit is a sensitive artist. When she enters the Royal Stable of Aerdem, the narrative voice sounds like this:

“A wall running nearly the length of the building divided the interior. This side was home to carriages, buckboards, mud and hunting wagons, phaetons, and buggies. They seemed to be sleeping, and Bit passed each with hushed reverence, admiring the workmanship—lacquered wood, wicker armrests, polished lanterns, peacock-blue wheel spokes. She lingered when she reached the barouche. Raindrops from last night’s storm still jeweled the black surface, catching sunlight from the open back door. Sadness wrapped her heart. She had ridden to the masked ball in the barouche.”
Let’s contrast that with Jen. She’s fourteen, a natural athlete, and fiercely protective of her family, who she fears are in danger, a fear that is not groundless. The narrative voice for her sections needed to be lean, tough, and determined.
“That was when she heard the whispering. Alert, she backed away from the tree and studied it at a crouch. The air was still. The grass motionless. But the leaves stirred and fluttered. Words floated down. At first they were indistinct, as if someone called through a distant snowstorm. One word emerged clearly, and an icy finger traced down her spine.
“She heard her name.
“She backed away until she squatted on some rocks that extended into the pool. Every muscle—sun-hammered and wind-hardened like metal in a forge—was poised to spring. Phrases whispered down. The only sense she could make was that something was coming. Something dangerous.
“She thought of her family. Fear tightened around her heart. She was a hair’s-breadth away from running to them. Her feet stayed rooted to the spot. Maybe she’d hear more.”
Notice that none of this is written as interior monologue, but we’re inside Jen’s skin. We know what she’s thinking and feeling. If she walked through the Royal Stable, she wouldn’t admire the workmanship of the carriage maker with reverence, like Bit did, she’d be scanning the shadows for spies or assassins!
How does one achieve voice? You have to know your characters better than yourself. You have to know how they respond to everything, their thoughts, feelings, needs, values, and attitudes. Let these things come out in the tone of your narrative when your character is on stage. Let that voice through. You’ll bring new depths to your writing, and readers will stayed glued to your every word, dying to get their hands on your next book.
Wyndano’s Cloak Synopsis:
Jen has settled into a peaceful life when a terrifying event awakens old fears—of being homeless and alone, of a danger horrible enough to destroy her family and shatter her world forever.

She is certain that Naryfel, a shadowy figure from her past, has returned and is concentrating the full force of her hate on Jen's family. But how will she strike? A knife in the dark? An attack from her legions? Or with the dark arts and twisted creatures she commands with sinister cunning.

Wyndano's Cloak may be Jen's only hope. If she’s got what it takes to use it . . . 

About the Author:
A. R. Silverberry has won a dozen awards, including Gold Medal Winner in the 2011 Benjamin Franklin Awards for Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction; Gold Medal Winner in the 2010 Readers Favorite Awards for Preteen Fiction; and Silver Medal Winner 2011 in the Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book, Children’s/Young Adult. He lives in California, where the majestic coastline, trees, and mountains inspire his writing. Wyndano's Cloak is his first novel. Follow him at the links below!
A. R. Silverberry’s Website