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Archive for March, 2012


I don’t intentionally read books to drool over hot muscular men. It’s just what happens to me sometimes. I’m enjoying the story, loving the plotline, and then out of nowhere a gorgeous guy steps on the scene, capturing my heart. I have plenty of book boyfriends, but we’re all busy with things to do, so I’ll just give you my top five drool-worthy hotties!

1- CURRAN, The Beast Lord of Atlanta
(Ilona Andrews- Magic Series)
This blond hair and grey eyed Were-lion is funny and dangerous all at the same time. If you would like to date this guy, I would tread carefully because his girlfriend Kate knows her way around a sword.
Any Curran POV that Ilona Andrews puts out I devour within seconds!

2- JERICHO BARRONS , The Sociopath we love to hate!

(Karen Marie Moning- Fever Series)
Most of the series you have no idea what species Barrons belongs to, so I’m not going to say it, just in case some sad person out there has not had the pleasure to meet my sexy sociopath. Let’s just say he is an exotic looking guy with dark hair. There’s a pretty sizzling POV sex scene that Karen Moning recently published this month. Check it out!

3- RICHARD, The Wolf King
(Laurel K Hamilton- Anita Blake Series)
This tall, dark, and handsome Boy Scout is an unwilling member in Anita Blake’s harem. Many see him as a whiner, but I love his desire to stand up for what he believes in.

4- BONES
(Jeaniene Frost- Night Huntress Series)
This Vampire is a devoted and loyal lover who loves to bite interesting parts of the body. I think that’s what really sticks out to me the most about him.

5- KISTEN
(Kim Harrison- Hollows Series)
I just love my Vampires! Many people are probably saying, “Kisten? Who?” This hottie is in the earlier part of the series. To avoid giving away any spoilers I won’t say anymore, but after a certain book in the series I must admit I sent some horrible emails to Mrs. Harrison. I was so upset.
(In fact… I don’t know if I am quite over the trauma…. Or if Mrs. Harrison has stopped that restraining order.  )

Honorable Mentions

MeShack and Zulu, OF COURSE!!
(Kenya Wright- Habitat Series)

MeShack
A half Black and Iranian Were-cheetah that purrs when he is. . . happy. He’s also the lead singer to Mahogany Groove and considered a playboy around the Santeria habitat.

Zulu, The Heart Ripper
He organized Mixbreeds For Equality. He’s called The Heart Ripper because when he discovers a drug dealer is selling to kids in his neighborhood. . . he rips their hearts out of their chest.

Fire Baptized
By Kenya Wright

Since the 1970’s humans have forced supernaturals to live in caged cities. Silver brands embedded in their foreheads identify them by species: a full moon for Vampires, a crescent moon for Shifters, a pair of wings for Fairies, and the list goes on, for each supernatural species has been tagged and categorized by humans.

Lanore Vesta is marked with a silver X, the brand of Mixbreeds, second-class citizens shunned by society. She stays to herself, revealing her ability to create fire only during emergencies. All she wants to do is graduate college and stop having to steal to survive. But when she stumbles upon a murder in progress, she catches the attention of a supernatural killer. Now all she wants is to stop finding dead bodies in her apartment.

Enlisting help from her Were-cheetah ex-boyfriend Meshach and a new mysterious friend named Zulu, she is steered through the habitat’s raunchy nightlife. But their presence sometimes proves to be more burden than help, as they fight for her attention.

While the corpses pile up, and the scent of blood fills the air, Lanore is left wondering: will she find the psycho or die trying?

Kindle
Paperback
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/a28T5HzpGJ4

About the Author:

Kenya Wright always knew she would be famous since the ripe old age of six when she sung the Michael Jackson thriller song in her bathroom mirror. She has tried her hand at many things from enlisting in the Navy for six years as a Persian-Farsi linguist to being a nude model at an art university.

However, writing has been the only constant love in her life.

So here we are Kenya is publishing her first book, Fire Baptized, the urban fantasy novel she always wanted to read. This novel is the first book in a series.

Will she succeed? Of course.

For she has been coined The Urban Fantasy Queen, the Super Iconic Writer of this Age, The Lyrical Genius of Our Generation. Granted, these are all terms coined by her, within the private walls of her bathroom as she still sings the Michael Jackson thriller song.

Kenya Wright currently resides in Miami with her three amazing, overactive children, a supportive, gorgeous husband, and three cool black cats that refuse to stop sleeping on Kenya’s head at night.

http://kenyawright.com

https://twitter.com/#!/Firebaptizedd

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I want to thank THE DARK PHANTOM for having me as a guest blogger today. I’m excited to tell you about my book, THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT, book 2 in my Fate with a Helping Hand series.

Today I’m going to talk about setting. When I started writing THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT, I knew I wanted to set the story in a place that had meaning to me. Growing up near Westport, MA, I always visited Horseneck Beach during the summer. Cape Code is beautiful. But there are just as many beautiful places to visit along the Massachusetts coastline. Westport was a perfect seaside town for romance!

In THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT, Cara is struggling with change. Her biological clock is ticking. Her parents are moving from her childhood home to go live thousands of miles away in Florida. And she’s not feeling complete in her relationship with her current boyfriend, who her mother just happens to hate! While she loves her career, she’s at a crossroad that many women and men face in their lives. Add a mother who is so ready to become a grandmother, a free-spirited grandmother who goes skinny dipping on a public beach, a sexy old friend who just happened to scribble a marriage proposal on the back of a birthday card, the charm of a seaside home, and an inept boyfriend who “just doesn’t get it” and you have a recipe for laughter and romance.

While writing THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT, I went home to Westport in my mind many times and reminisced about walking the beach, picking up shells, camping on the beach and walking along the jetty with my boyfriend who is now my husband of 21 years. As I remembered my good times there, I could almost feel the sand between my toes, the smell of the ocean and the sound of the waves.

In THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT, Cara reminisces about long ago times as well as she navigates her way through her crossroad until she finally realizes what she really wants. Is there a setting from your past that you revisit in your mind from time to time? Tell me about it. I will be giving away a copy of THE KNIGHT AND MAGGIE’S BABY to one commenter today. So don’t be shy. Leave a comment for a chance to win!

BIO:

Lisa Mondello is the bestselling author of 13 published books. Her first published book, the award winning ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU, was recently reissued as an ebook and has had over 350,000 downloads worldwide. In addition to publishing her Fate with a Helping Hand series, which includes THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT and THE KNIGHT AND MAGGIE’S BABY, she is releasing her popular Texas Hearts Romance series as ebooks, which include Her Heart for the Asking, His Heart for the Trusting and The More I See. She currently writes for Harlequin Books and is collaborating with a film producer/screenwriter on a screenplay.

She loves to hear from readers. You can email her at LisaMondello@aol.com, find her on her blog talking about writing, movies and music at http://www.lisamondello.blogspot.com or chat on Twitter at @LisaMondello.

BLURB for THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT

They were destined to fall in love. But sometimes fate has other plans… Cara Carvalho and Devin Michaels became best friends one distant summer. No two people were more in sync about what they wanted their lives to be. But fate and their own inner need for success forced them to separate. But sometimes love needs a helping hand… Now both are approaching that magic age of 35 and are seeking more from their lives. When Cara’s mom finds a glib promise on the back of Cara’s 17th birthday card, she decides to take matters into her own hands and bring Devin and Cara together again. With a little help and “creative” planning, can they have a second chance at happiness?

LINK to Excerpt of THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT: http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/2216604-the-marriage-contract-blog-tour-read-an-excerpt

Buy links:

AMAZON

Barnes and Noble

KOBO

iTunes


Smashwords

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Blueprint is the story of one soul’s journey in planning her last incarnation on earth and what happens when friends take over.

The novel opens with Arielle and Raphael in Heaven as they discuss Arielle’s upcoming and last incarnation. Raphael, who’s been her soul mate for thousands of years, offers to help her plan it and she accepts. He suggests that they get their 12 special friends in Heaven involved. To accomplish this, they decide to invite them all for dinner. At dinner, the friends take turns making suggestions for Arielle’s final life: a healer, a transexual, a homeless person, an orphan, a psychiatrist, a child prodigy, among others. Together, they weigh the pros and cons of each scenario while Raphael answers many of their questions about religion and spirituality. Finally, Arielle makes her decision and presents her ‘blueprint’ to the council of elders.

Blueprint is a short light read that explores various aspects of reincarnation, numerology and astrology, among other esoteric subjects. The story is rather linear because the aim of the author is to present these ideas rather than offer a fictional story for fiction’s sake. The chapters are short and simple and the writing is mostly dialogue. An unusual, interesting read for those interested in the topics mentioned.  

To learn more about this book, visit the author’s website

 

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Bill Swears calls himself a service brat. He was born in Great Falls, Montana. He’s lived in England, Iran, Germany, and nine states. Bill flew military helicopters for twenty-two years, seven in the Army and fifteen in the Coast Guard. He sold his first short story while he was a Coast Guard rescue helicopter pilot, and immediately began writing a book. He finished that manuscript ten years later, after retiring from active duty.

On November 15, 2003, Bill broke his back while ditching a homebuilt experimental airplane 100 NM out to sea from Maui, Hawaii. He retired from the USCG in 2004, after spinal fusion surgery and rehabilitation. He says that there is an upside to that, because he shows up on Google searches: http://starbulletin.com/2003/11/18/news/index4.html. Although he does show up on Google searches, Dark Phantom suggests that there are better ways to do that and Bill agrees. 

Bill met his wife Teri in high school in 1978. They married in 1982, but didn’t get around to having children for seventeen more years. They have two kids, thirteen year old Alexa and eight year old Michael, and will celebrate their thirtieth wedding anniversary in July. Bill claims that they lost track of time.

The Swears family lives in a beat-up old log home on a ridge line in Peter’s Creek, Alaska with a brace of rare breed Eurasier dogs and a pair of cats. Bill earned his MA in English and graduated on Groundhog Day 2010, the year he turned fifty. He works as a technical writer and editor for a little known federal bureau. He has a spanking new webresidence and blog at www.BillSwears.com, and blogs at http://wswears.livejournal.com/.

About the book, Zook Country:

Metamorphic plague has swept the globe over the last five years. Victims become rabid non-sentient zooks, immensely strong and so fast that a normal person can’t see them move. A third of humanity has died, but people are fighting back, balanced on the razor’s edge between survival and apocalypse. Jake Chestnut and Gary Landon, both ex-army, are partners in Seraglio, an independent Kent, Washington based zook hunting firm. Both lost their families to plague and are part of the less than one percent of humanity with the innate ability, ESP, reflexes, and willingness to shoot where the zook will be next that are necessary to combat feral zooks. Zook-hunters are charged with hunting down and killing plague victims. These battle scarred men and women have been on the front line with no reprieve for five years, and the survivors have developed an esprit de corps similar to that of a WWI Aerosquadron.

Killing zooks for a living is tough, but the alternative is worse; eight months after infection, zooks metamorphose into non-corporeal ghasten, who live in collectives, herd zooks, kill with energy discharges, and create rifts in the fabric of reality that have swallowed cities. While working a contract to clear a first of its kind community/safe enclave for the elite, somebody tries to kill Jake, Gary, and their crew. With Gary badly injured, Jake must untangle a web of conspiracy to complete Seraglio’s contract and seek vengeance. What he discovers may lead to civil war.

 

 

Interview:

From Coast Guard rescue helicopter pilot to apocalyptic science-fiction adventure writer. How did that come about?

I was reading science fiction in grade school. A lot of it. I read through all of the science fiction in the city library nearest my house when I was eleven, and in every school library from the time I left fourth grade until I graduated from high school. I couldn’t be forced to study my school-work, but that science fiction stuff my mother so disapproved of? I never really stopped. Before I joined the military I wrote a couple of science fiction short stories – really bad stories, but with a core of humor that my friends (and other people I was able to intimidate into reading my stuff) noticed. So I guess the question is more, “How did a budding young writer end up flying Coast Guard helicopters?” Now that was a long road. I knew I wanted to write, I knew I wanted to be a pilot, and I knew I wanted to be the world’s first independent cargo dirigible captain. But I really wasn’t ready to write in my early twenties, and I banged my head against that, until one day Teri pointed at one of the then popular commercials that said “The Army; the only service that will take you straight from high school to flight school.”

She still claims that she was joking, but nine months later, with an impressive battery of tests behind me, I was swearing into the Army for rotary-wing flight school. I thought initially that I’d like to follow in Dad’s footsteps,  join the Air Force and become a jet pilot, but after I’d flown helicopters for a few years I realized that I was just having too much fun to give up the rotary-wing lifestyle. Flying seems like a young man’s career, and I stayed with that for my first career, moving to the Coast Guard when I realized that saving lives fit me better than taking them (training to take them. I’ve never been in combat). So, it seems like I’m breaking into a whole new gig, writing fiction, but really, I’m taking time to do something I’ve always loved. And now, I have a bunch of sea stories that I can weave into my writing!

What was your inspiration for Zook Country and how did you come up with the concept of ‘Zook’.

Believe it or not, I started writing about Jake and Gary while I was talking about using voice in dialogue at rec.arts.sf.composition. I threw out a snippet that was very close to the opening you can read today. I liked the characters and started to write, not knowing where they’d go. I got about two chapters in before I began to feel the shape of the novel to come. That’s when I wrote a rough story-arc that I followed for the rest of the draft.

As I originally wrote it, the story was mostly contemporary dark fantasy, with zooks being part of an attack on the human race by evil dragons. A good dragon had found his way to earth as well, and became a major character in my earlier draft. I was picked up by an agent almost immediately, but he convinced me to take out the fey/magical aspects and give it a more down to earth explanation. I miss Thomas the dragon even today, but the novel that came out was much tighter and easily visualized. The agent? He left the publishing industry entirely, though we’re still friends.

I remember when I first started to develop the zooks that I was thinking about vampires, and that I wanted to write a guy version of urban fantasy. At the time I was thinking that I wanted a new monster because I didn’t want to be stuck in somebody else’s pigeonhole, but that I also wanted to borrow from known monster archetypes so that readers wouldn’t be completely alienated. It seemed like burning up in contact with silver and being able to heal almost instantly would be recognizable as monster traits. Becoming non-sentient and apelike came from my prejudices about what happens to rabies victims in the later stages of the disease. After that, I just let the story flow and Ghasten came along as if that’s what is supposed to happen to hyperspeed feral apes.

I came up with the name zook as an integral part of the world I was imagining (and beginning to dream about). At first I didn’t know where the name came from – I finally posted a longer section with RASFC and asked my friends there to comment about zooks, especially the name, which worried me a little. Ric Locke (Temporary Duty: available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble) said that it was clearly a mashup of Zombie and Gook, and that made complete sense to me. Soldiers find ways to dehumanize their enemies so that they can get on with the business of killing them. I don’t really think of zooks as being zombies, but the parallels are obvious, so maybe my hind-brain was already making the connection.

I understand you first self-published the novel before it was picked up by Twilight Times Books. I love success stories like that. Can you share with my readers how that happened?

I’m proud of my writing, but promotionally, I’m a real neophyte. After five full years in one publisher’s recommended pile (I checked in with her every few months and was always reassured that it was in her pile, and that she’d eventually get around to looking at it), while gaining and losing two agents from a rather famous F&SF centric literary agency, I gave up on waiting for the industry to get around to looking at me. I spent some months prepping the book for self-publication, setting up ISBNs, buying cover art, getting a copy/line edit from somebody I trusted, and running the whole book through several members of my writers group. Then I put it up on Amazon Kindle and nothing much happened. Apparently Amazon is releasing so many e-books that their market is glutted with new titles (or, just maybe, I’ve been lost in a sea of voices shouting “Buy me! Buy me!” and if I can get the right attention, some few people will want to face a new monster in their darker nights). While I thought about whether to expand my markets to other e-book providers or join Kindle Select, I sent promotional messages to each of my Facebook friends, and everybody I ever traded e-mail with, asking for reviews. Stephanie Osborne suggested that I friend Lida Quillen and offer the book to Twilight Times Books.

Sending individual messages to each of your Facebook friends is terribly labor intensive, but it netted me a few promises of reviews, and the name of a promising publisher. Here was this small but growing press with authors that I recognized, and here I was, starting to get a really good notion of just how time intensive and pricey it was to promote myself, so the idea really had a shiny glow. I queried Lida, she read the book and liked it, and then suddenly I was barreling down a road I thought was closed to me.

The road has been bumpy, but I went from 2007 to 2012 with the book in a big publishing house but no action at all, then was picked up and published in 11 days. I couldn’t decide whether ecstasy or head-desk was the correct response. I settled on muted excitement with a sense that the other boot would soon drop.

I understand Zook Country wasn’t the original title

I originally wrote the book under the title Seraglio, because Jake and Gary named their company that, and because it has an uncomfortable resonance with something the bad-guys have done. Nobody at all liked that title, so I was casting around for a better one when my German publisher told me that he’d publish the book only if I renamed it Zookland. I like Zookland quite a lot, but thought that here in the US it came too close to the names Zombieland and Zoolander. In fact, for the longest time, if I Googled Zookland I got the Ben Stiller movie.

Anyway, Zook Country as a term is reminiscent (to me!) of Injun Country, which I hoped would have meaning to some part of the US crowd. 

The novel was also published in Germany. Is it still available there and was it published there in German?

Yes it is, yes it was. Zookland was translated to German by my friend Dirk Van Den Boom, and is available in hardback or trade paperback at http://www.atlantis-verlag.de/, or in trade paper or kindle from Amazon.com here in the U.S. – for anybody who speaks German. Really, anybody who speaks German should buy both books and compare them. Yeah, that’s the ticket. 😉

Tell us a bit about your writing process. Are you a morning bird or a night owl? How long does it usually take you to finish a book?

I’m a morning bird by ingrained habit, but a night owl by inclination. Before joining the military, Teri and I thought nothing about watching the sunrise before going to bed. Now, I’m awake between 4:30 and 5:00 am whether I like it or not, and whether I’ve been asleep for three hours or seven. I’m probably most productive in the mornings, and on my days off from work, which is why it was so useful to be able to take this interview at such an early hour here in Alaska.

I’m not an outliner exactly.  I usually start with a group of characters and a situation, then write a few chapters and decide who and what I like.  Then I write what I call a chapterboard, which is sort of like an outline.  I write a brief description of what I think will happen in each of twelve chapters.  That description is sometimes a sentence, and sometimes two or three paragraphs about what I have in mind.  The length of the description and the length of the chapters have absolutely no relationship, as far as I can tell.  In one chapterboard from another book, “Tanos and Carolyn get married” was the description of three long chapters that involved an assassination plot and a vastly overcomplex royal wedding.  The twelve chapters I write my chapterboard around have never come out in fact.  Zook Country had a twelve chapter board, and came out to 33 chapters and an epilogue. Sometimes my characters disapprove of a planned action and go off to raise their own Cain.  I do, generally, get to nudge them back toward my preferred ending.

I don’t know that I have a “usually” when it comes to finishing books. My first book took almost a year to write.  Zook Country took less than three months in its original form.  Now I have a high demand day job, so things are taking longer.

What is your favorite scene in the book?

Chapter 17, when Jake smells apples and tastes mocha. Anything more would be a spoiler, IMO.

Seriously though, having “favorite” scenes in a book that shivers between dark and light is difficult.  I like the moment toward the end when Donna ends up out of bullets with her men dead or dying around her, defending herself with nothing but a stiff silver wire and mad martial arts skills. Donna is way cool and a far better character than I ever deserved to dream up – and like some of the best characters, she wasn’t intended to be there.  She created her own space in my head and broke out onto the page without the least regard for my feelings.

At the other extreme, there is a scene when Jake and Gary take down a two year old zook that hurts every time I read it, and that cost me a lot of sleep when I first wrote it.  In a way, I guess you could call that a favorite.

What did you find most challenging while working on Zook Country?

During the first draft? Getting to sleep at night. Zook Country came off my fingers almost as quickly as I could type. I woke up ready to write and had itchy keyboarding fingers all day. Of course I had to do other things, like eat, and chase people down in the street to get them to read snippets, so that wasn’t mindlessly easy. But then, I found a couple good first readers, and they kept hounding me for more chapters, so I could focus more on getting the next thing written.

I thought that writing the book would be the hardest part. When I got a call a few weeks later from an agent, I thought my authoring world was made. But when that agent friend asked me to reimagine the book without fey elements? That moment comes in a close second on the challenge scale. I felt so challenged that I wanted to fly to New York and have a loud chest to chest discussion with this fellow I’d never met. Then he arranged for his boss to visit me in Anchorage during BoucherCon 2007, to tell me that I had no idea what I was doing with dragons. I didn’t really believe the agency’s advice until I’d finished and smoothed the sans magic version, and even then I was pretty mad. I was really “challenged” when the agent I’d started with up and left the industry just as I was turning in Zook Opus mark deux. More challenged yet when the boss that hadn’t liked my dragon also turned out not to like my monsters, metamorphic plague, or anything except the characters, which he thought should be in an infantry based space opera out in the Zagravian sector. We dinked around for another two years before realizing that without the first interested agent, the boss was never going to be satisfied with an Earth based adventure.

What’s on the horizon for Bill Swears?

I’ve promised to write Rogue Country, a sequel to Zook Country next. It’s set in the Oregon wine country near the River of the Rogue. I’ve got two other novels in progress. One is a straight up space opera that I’m calling Mutiny on Hellespont, and the other is high fantasy, or maybe swords and sorcery, and an immediate sequel to my first (so far unpublished) book, Split Affinity. The sequel, which is currently at 80K words, will be called Growing Affinity, and is part two of three. I can’t let myself finish it until I’ve fulfilled my promise to Dirk Van Den Boom, who wants to exhaust himself translating the next zook story.

And, my day job. Ouch.  Somebody find me a very wealthy zook enthusiast to pay my bills while I punch out the next book, please!

Author’s facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wswears

Link to excerpt: http://twilighttimesbooks.com/ZookCountry_ch1.html

Link to purchase page: http://twilighttimesbooks.com/ZookCountry_ch1.html. Buy it at the excerpt in any e-format, or link from there to Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007J6DPPA), or Barnes and Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/zook-country-bill-swears/1108892461).


Originally published in Blogcritics Magazine.

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A former journalist, Kellyann’s interest in Middle Eastern myth and legend stems from her stint as a Managing Editor of Publications for the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C. She is a published author of several genie romance novellas. One book, Angels & Genies, was included in a collection for which Charlaine Harris wrote the foreword. Kellyann lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, three children, and a jaunty terrier named Djin-Djin.

Her latest book is The Genie Ignites.

Visit her website at www.kfzuzulo.com.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Boroughs Publishing Group | Official Tour Page

Interview:               

Do you have another job besides writing?

I work as a freelance editor when I’m not writing…or promoting a new book (which can turn into a fulltime job.) You could say I’m a language matchmaker: I enjoy putting wandering commas in their place, reuniting split infinitives and, basically, grooming sentences so they make a beautiful story.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?

The Genie Ignites, like most books I write, started with an outline. I had a general idea of the story in my head; I knew the beginning and the end. Then I work through chapter by chapter with a glimpse of what I want to happen. Of course, once I dive into the story, the characters frequently have ideas of their own of what they want to happen. I’m flexible.

Did your book require a lot of research?

The Genie Ignites required a lot of research. I wanted to be accurate about the Middle Eastern world where genies are an accepted part of lore, both in the past and in today’s world. I’d read a lot about the legends of the jinn, how they started and how they’re perceived today. I also subscribe to some archaeological magazines, which provide great insight into how the ancient world looked and how the people lived when Zubis first fell in love with the priestess Lina. Then I drew that forward into a modern world, which is where my own experience came in.

What was your goal when writing this book?

I wanted to create a story where a reader could imagine genies and humans living side-by-side. Genies are a very real part of the mythology in many parts of the world. They’re thought to be similar to humans but with abilities we can only imagine. There are even rules about the extent of interaction between the two races. What if a genie and a human tried to make their own way together, in spite of the obstacles? That’s what this story is about.

Who is your target audience?

My audience will be anyone who loves a good story that combines romance, suspense and humor. A tale that travels to exotic locations and dips into unique customs and styles. But, especially, fans of paranormal romance will really love this book.

Describe your working environment.

My office has a lot of windows, bud-green walls, and a tabletop fountain. The sound of gurgling water transports me to the midspace between reality and imagination where a writer lives. I have a small Bose stereo to play my iPod, which is loaded with Middle Eastern music, Enya, Loreena McKennitt, and a bunch of jazz. There’s a collection of clay oil lamps from theMiddle Eastdisplayed on my desk. I’m waiting for the day when a mist begins to seethe from one of the spouts. I won’t run from the room…promise.

Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?

I write non-stop, and I mean non-stop, until the book is finished. Up at 5 a.m.for a few hours, take care of the kids and my husband in between, then back to work. When the muse has me by the hand, they are very understanding. Each morning when I check back in with the story, I do a cursory read-through of the previous scene and I’ll make grammatical changes. But the heavy edits wait until that first draft is finished. This is a piece of advice I once got in a writers workshop: Get it out. Then, fix it up.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Find your voice. That is, be who you are as a writer, not who you think you should be. Finding your voice can take years, but it’ll be worth it. 

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

My website is www.kfzuzulo.com with a blog at www.kfzuzulo.com/blog. Readers can also find me on twitter and Facebook at KFZuzulo.

 

 

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When I was in first grade, I had an art teacher who shamed me into crying in front of the entire classroom.

She had given us an easy assignment. Handing out blocks of wood, she asked us to draw faces on them. I loved art, and happily got to work drawing a man’s face. When I’d finished with his features, he looked more alien than man, I thought, so I painted his face bright blue. (I blame my mother: she had been reading to me from her science fiction novel rather than any of those boring children’s books.)

My teacher went down the row of student desks, nodding and smiling as the children held up their wooden faces for praise. And then she got to me, and nearly went into one of those whirling fits of rage I now associate with Roald Dahl characters.

“You painted your face blue?” she shrieked. “You can’t paint a face blue! What kind of face is that?”

“It’s an alien’s face,” I said, tearing up.

I might as well have said “Satan.” The art teacher hauled me over to sit in the corner and made me do another face while the rest of the kids tittered.

Now, this story happens to be true, but if I were writing fiction, I could have chosen to relay from a different perspective. For example, I might have written it from the teacher’s point of view, or from the point of view of the town sheriff, who is called into school after the art teacher is found dead…or after an alien invasion, during which the art teacher and several other people in town are abducted! Then I might have used multiple points of view.

Wrestling with point of view is something that writers do every day in fiction, and it’s one of the most frustrating—and fun—aspects of writing. Sometimes it takes several drafts before you get the point of view that works for a particular story; for instance, if you’re writing about an alien invasion, you might want what’s called an “author omniscient” point of view, which basically means that you’re relaying the story from on high, from multiple points of view or even in multiple time frames. If you want a scarier, tenser read, you might choose a first person point of view, where the narrator doesn’t really know what’s happening, leaving the reader to ride along on her coattails as she figures things out.

In Sleeping Tigers, my first novel, I chose what’s called a “limited third person” point of view—this means that I can only be inside the main character’s head, and nobody else’s. I did this because I wanted to create a tight emotional connection between my protagonist, a young woman named Jordan, and my readers, while still having the freedom to write lush descriptive passages of other characters and the setting (San Francisco and Nepal, in this case).

For my next novel, The Wishing Hill, to be published in spring 2013 by Penguin, I created the story of two women who are bound in ways they don’t suspect, so I decided to alternate points of view between them. That lets the reader discover their complex interconnectedness even before the characters themselves know what’s going on. Now I’m writing a paranormal mystery; for that one, I’m using a first person point of view to ramp up the scare factor.

Take a closer look at the book you’re reading right now and check out the point of view. Think about how the story might have been different if the author had chosen a different one. Did the author make the right choice? What would you have done?

About the author:

Holly Robinson is a journalist and comic whose work appears regularly in national venues such as Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle, Huffington Post, Ladies’ Home Journal, More, Open Salon and Parents. Her first book, The Gerbil Farmer’s Daughter: A Memoir, was published by Harmony Books in May 2009 and was released in paperback in June 2010. It was a Barnes & Noble memoir selection as well as a Target Breakout Book.

Ms. Robinson holds a B.A. in biology from Clark University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She and her husband have five children, two cats, a single gerbil and two very stubborn small dogs. They are currently renovating an antique house north of Boston, and will probably never finish it.

To learn more about Holly Robinson, please visit www.authorhollyrobinson.com

Sleeping Tigers
By Holly Robinson

Jordan O’Malley has everything she ever wanted: a job she loves, a beautiful home, and a dependable boyfriend. When her life unravels after a breast cancer scare, Jordan decides to join her wildest childhood friend in San Francisco and track down her drifter brother, Cam, who harbors secrets of his own.

When Cam suddenly flees the country, Jordan follows, determined to bring him home. Her journey takes her to the farthest reaches of majestic Nepal, where she encounters tests—and truths—about love and family that she never could have imagined.

Funny, heartbreaking, and suspenseful, Sleeping Tigers reminds us all that sometimes it’s better to follow your heart instead of a plan.

Get it for the Kindle and in paperback.

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A multi-published author and former RWA President, Jill Limber’s latest books are Montana Morning, A Heart That Dares and The Right Track. As a child, some of Jill’s tales got her in trouble, but now she gets paid for them. Residing in San Diego with her husband and a trio of dogs and one very ancient cat, Jill’s favorite pastime is to gather friends and family for good food, conversation and plenty of laughter.

You can visit her website at www.JillLimber.com.

About the book:

In the Montana Territory town of Dennison, the law allows a woman to save a man from hanging if she agrees to marry him. Battered and nearly unconscious with a noose around his neck, Katherine Holman decides Wes Merrick is perfect husband material. Under the terms of her father’s will, due to a youthful indiscretion, she must be married to inherit. She expects her ‘husband’ to leave as soon as the deed is in her name. She wasn’t prepared for the fact that the man she has chosen turns out to be an honorable sort who decides to stick around and hold up his end of the bargain.

Interview:

Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?

I grew up in Southern California and I’ve lived in San Diego for many years. I really enjoy the ease of living in such a temperate climate, and there are so many things to do year round. I love it here. As much as I like to travel, home is always best. My husband and I have discovered cruising, and I adore the way you are pampered when traveling on a cruise ship. I think it is the ultimate vacation if you want to relax and enjoy yourself.

Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?

Absolutely. I doubt you will ever find an author who was not an avid reader first. It all goes back to the love of storytelling. As a child I loved any book about historical events or people–one summer I must have read Johnny Tremain a dozen times.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?

I definitely plot first. I don’t make an outline in the conventional sense, it’s more like a long synopsis of the book. I write a rough draft from that, and I try very hard to turn off my internal editor until I go back for rewrites. I find if I fiddle too much with the plot while I’m writing the first draft, it tend to slow the pacing.

Did your book require a lot of research?

This book is set on a private train car that I have ridden for years. I also work as a personal chef, and owned a catering company in the past. I go along and cook for the owners of the train car as we travel cross-country.

What was your goal when writing this book?

Up until the time I wrote The Right Track, I had only written historical romance, and I wanted to try my hand at a contemporary story.

Who is your target audience?

My target is romance readers. This is a romance, pure and simple. Boy meets girl, they fall in love and live happily ever after. I love a happy ending. Life is too full of bad news to skip that!, Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway.

When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?

I get great ideas when I’m in the shower. If you look at al these activities, it makes sense. I think ideas come when your brain is occupied with mundane tasks and free to wander at will.

Describe your working environment.

I have an office at home on the second floor. It is pretty much businesslike, except for the dog beds. My three guys like to keep me company and sleep while I work.

They say authors have immensely fragile egos… How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?

If you have an aversion to criticism, this would be a difficult career path. Most writers hone their craft by having their work critiqued, and most work gets a slew of rejections before it gets published. I think the best thing to do is pay attention to critical remarks and use them as a learning tool. I try to not read my reviews. If there is a good one, one of my writer friends will send me congratulations, and that always cheers me up.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

This question is easy–my best writing advice came from Nora Roberts. Her advice was to put your fanny in the chair and write, because you can always rewrite a page, but you can’t do anything with a blank piece of paper. Better words were never spoken. Muse-wise? Sometimes she doesn’t show up and you have to go out and hunt her down.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

I have a blog on my website, JillLimber.com, and I’m on the Boroughs Publishing website http://www.BoroughsPublishingGroup.com.

Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?

I’m working on a historical romance right now titled The Ungovernable Governess, and hope to be finished soon. I set it in the house my grandfather grew up in in New York, and It’s been wonderful to research Buffalo he knew as a child.

As an author, what is your greatest reward?

To have someone say they enjoyed a book I have written. It is just so satisfying to know you gave someone who bought your book a pleasurable read.

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Magdalena Ball’s latest novel, Black Cow, is the engrossing, poignant story of a family trying to spiritually survive in a world ruled by materialism.

James and Freya Archer live in one of Sydney’s poshest suburbs. Together with their teenaged children, Cameron and Dylan, they live the good life surrounded by luxuries and everything money can buy. James has an executive position in a top firm, drives a Jaguar and wears Gucci silk ties. Freya works in real estate–not that she needs the sporadic commissions, as James’ corporate career allows her to enjoy weekly manicures and beauty salons, tanning sessions and $900 bags. Cameron and Dylan have the latest smartphones and laptops.

Yet, are they happy? Far from it.

The family is trapped in an endless cycle of “consumption without limits” where money and possessions have become dangerous obsessions rather than a means to happiness. The kids have no idea what money is, as if the coins and bills fall automatically from the sky. They waste food, throwing away platefuls and buying more:

“It was a consumption binge: an endless cycle of buy and chuck out.”

The kids, always hooked to their electronic gadgets, don’t even raise their eyes to greet their parents when they come from school, lost in their own virtual realities and always in a bad mood in spite of their ample allowances and all their latest goodies.

Freya is profoundly frustrated by her real estate job and by the fact that she must be a constant actress in order to pimp for houses. James, on the other hand, is constantly tortured by stress. He often complains of shoulder pain, headache, stomach upset. As if that isn’t enough, he drinks way too much alcohol on a daily basis. Freya knows that something is definitely wrong. She also knows she must do something before it’s too late.

The one day James suffers a nervous breakdown: depression, exhaustion, his hands and feet jerking spasmodically. He’s had a close call, but what will it be next time? A stroke? A heart attack?

What James and Freya crave is simplicity, going back to basics. What they crave is change. With this in mind, they decide to leave the city and all their luxuries and try their luck in a remote farmhouse in the peaceful island of Tasmania.

“Life was too short, and before you knew it, after a lifetime of putting off what matters, the family you love have grown and you’ve forgotten who you are…”

But will it work? What is real happiness? Is it a state of mind unrelated to location?

I really enjoyed reading this novel. I have been reading nothing but genre fiction lately, so this was definitely refreshing. Black Cow is the absorbing, moving story of a family trying to stay together in a world full of consumerism, a place devoid of spirituality and deep emotional connections. This is a tale that will make you pause and ponder about the quality of your own life. Ball writes with skilful perception and attention to human emotions and motivations. The characters, especially those of James and Freya, are deftly drawn, real people with fears and tribulations and especially, filled with contradictory feelings about what they think they want and what they need out of life. They’re devoid of idealism. Our society is a force that shapes us all, and Ball shows this through her characters, telling it as it is, with its own ugly realities. Most readers will identify with James and Freya and their predicament. I especially enjoyed Freya’s and James’ inner monologues and their takes on life. Ultimately, Black Cow gives us hope.

Get the book:

Amazon

Book Depository

Bewrite Books

Click here to read an excerpt

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As a national book publicist professional with years of measurable success in book marketing, book promotion and publicity I have developed a  tested, comprehensive plan to launch a book that has spelt success for my range of  author and publisher clients. The following book marketing, book promotion and book publicity tips represent what I have developed as a good, solid, general plan to create “buzz” about a new book and generate sales. Authors and publishers need to adhere to a plan such as this as they seek and develop a strategy to launch a book marketing/book media outreach/book publicity plan for their published works.  To me, no worthwhile, effective and basic PR plan such as this one can be successful without these book marketing and PR tips: 

  • Develop, prepare and write a media-friendly, dedicated two-page press release for the book you are marketing that is colorful, engaging, gets the media’s attention and, most importantly,  tells a story.
  • Virtual Author Tour: a global on line book marketing tour on the Net targeting social bloggers, forums and affiliate programs that will generates interest in your book
  • Presence for the book on Facebook, Twitter, Google and other social media web destinations.
  • Professionally photographed photos of the author for media and web site use.
  • Distribution of the press release to all relevant  book reviewers and feature profile writers print, radio/TV and online medias from Publishers Weekly to The NY Times to USA Today to the Today show to Google News, Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook and others.  Using a good online news release distribution service like prlog.org (www.prlog.org) or PRWEB.COM too is crucial in getting maximum media and reader exposure for the press release.
  • Book store signings and other select and appropriate venues where a book and its author can be introduced to a live audience of 20 to 200 or more.
  • Author speaker events from panel discussion groups at book festivals to local relevent groups that can give support for marketing a book.
  •  National, regional, local and Net radio interviews to sell a book are a must and no book PR campaign can be successful without radio.
  • Television show bookings from local stations to national shows (for example, The View to C-Span Weekend Books to PBS” Book Mark to PBS’ Between the Pages as well as Today, Good Morning America, the Own network and others).
  • Book authors may write articles or papers on any given subject relative to his or her book that can be brokered to the print and digital media (newspapers, magazines, on line pieces).
  • An introduction of a book to a select national book club to seek reviews
  • Book authors should place their book’s web site address within their e-mail signature as another way to publicize their published works.
  • Media training should be conducted with most authors publicizing a book.  This can be done with mock interviews for TV, radio, print and digital medias.
  • “Rave” book reviews should be placed on an author’s web site and used to update the original press release on a regular basis to keep it fresh and appealing.
  • Electronic broadcast (radio, TV) interview clips can also be placed on an author’s web site as another content marketing tool.
  • Dedicated web site for a book: every author needs his own dedicated web site, whether it is a start-up web page or an intricate, sophisticated site.  The website should feature his or her biography, photos for media downloading, an outline of their book titles as well as radio clips, print reviews and video of TV guestings, events that can be listened to and viewed.
  • Authors need to keep their web sites fresh and attractive, updated. Dated content on any book web site is a sure way to keep visitors moving on. Blogs can work very well for an author who wants to expand the awareness of themselves and their published works.  

# # # #

 

Well known, experienced, professional Hollywood book, TV and movie publicist Charlie Barrett formed The Barrett Company in 1991 as a full service publicity and media relations agency to serve books/authors/publishers, television and motion picture industry clients. TheLos Angelesheadquartered publicity firm offers 21st century publicity and media relations services to celebrities, authors, actors, directors, screen writers, filmmakers as well as film and television producers.

Charlie’s author clients have include LA author-screenwriter Carla Malden, author of Afterimage, Kindle’s John Locke/Lethal People, Julie Sinatra/Under my Skin, Warren Adler/War of the Roses, David R. Fett MD and Steve Langford/White Sleeper, Deby Eisenberg/Pictures of the Past, Marty Jurow/See’in Stars: A Show Biz Odyssey, actor George Kennedy/Trust Me, Peter Ford/Glenn Ford: A Life and Dr. Ken Nedd/Power Over Stress as well as many, many others.

Since it’s inception, TBC has served as publicists to such companies and celebrities as CBS, Simon & Schuster, ABC, Globe Pequot Press, Harper Collins publishers, Norton publishers, Paramount studios, Oxford University Press, PBS, Warner Brothers, American Movie Classics cable channel (Mad Men), Bravo, Life Time Television, NYU Press, Ben Bella Books, Fox Television Network, Little Brown publishers, Fox News, CNN, self-published author service firms such as Xlibris, Author House and i-Universe as well as numerous celebrities from Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon to Kevin Costner, Tatum O’Neal, Tim Curry, Martin Landau, Robert Stack, Rod Stewart, Gary Conway, Oprah Winfrey (Oprah’s Big Give television series on ABC) and numerous other stars.

Mr. Barrett started up The Barrett Company publicity firm after serving in top PR positions with the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) for more than ten years, where he was in charge of media relations for Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show and Today, among other well-known NBC shows such as Unsolved Mysteries, Fame and numerous highly-rated NBC specials, including The American Film Institute Awards and The American Movie Awards.

When earlier basing inNew York City, Mr. Barrett served as a book publicist to many major publishers with publicity campaigns for a number of best-selling authors from large trade book publishers from Scribners to Random House.

Mr. Barrett has also held executive media relations posts with 20th Century Fox Film Corporation inNew Yorkand Capitol Records inHollywood,New YorkandLondon, where he helped launch recorded music by The Beatles, The Band and many other music artists including Joe South, Freda Payne, Bobbie Gentry and Glen Campbell.

You can visit his website at www.thebarrettco.com.  Visit them on Twitter at www.twitter.com/thebarrettco.

~ ~ ~ GIVEAWAY ~ ~ ~
Pump Up Your Book and The Barrett Company are teaming up to give you a chance to win a Kindle Fire!
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In the process of writing Ever Shade, I often had to look up a lot of different faery/fairy folklore; names of certain types of faeries, common types, the Seelie and Unseelie courts etc. I had no real knowledge of this kind of stuff at all, and what I found was mind blowing. I did stick to a lot of the traditional lore in Ever Shade and in its sequel Ever Fire, but I did twist a lot of it into my own rendition to build on the mythology as my own. Though some people dislike wavering from the common descriptions and depictions of the fey, I tend to like to use it as a basis to build an original, mind blowing adventure. Just an example of the structure of what the land of Faerie is about.

What are the Unseelie and Seelie Courts?

The Seelie Court faeries were considered the true aristocrats of the Sidhe. Sometimes called the ‘Blessed Ones,’ the Seelie were often depicted as a procession of brilliant light riding on the night air. The Seelie Court, as a group, would often use these excursions to find those in need of help. The Seelie were also prone to a great deal of mischief, especially when bored. However, their pranks rarely caused true harm, for the Seelie were really very fond of humans.

The Unseelie Court or Unblessed Court contains the most malicious, malevolent and evil of the faeries, and a number of monsters of horrible appearance and fearsome abilities as well. They comprise the Slaugh, or The Host, the band of the unsanctified dead who fly above the earth, stealing mortals and take great pleasure in harming humans.

Often called the ‘Unblessed Ones,’ the Unseelie were depicted as a dark cloud riding upon the wind from where their unnerving cackles and howls can be heard. Though not necessarily evil, they were far from kind. These unsavory characters tended towards evil and were often malignant. Some Scottish legends claim that the Unseelie were fallen Seelie, those who could not live up to the strict standards of chivalry of the shining court. They have no method of reproduction, so they enslave mortals whom they think would never be missed and carry them along to become one of them. The Unseelie Court was almost always out to harm, or at least bedevil and trick, humankind.

(Defined by: http://faerie.monstrous.com/seelie_and_unseelie_court.htm )

Interesting right? In Ever Shade I deviate slightly from this definition, I do try to keep to the evil vs. good theme though, critical to the conflicts to the Land of Faerie.

Another Question I get asked quite a bit is Why do I spell Faerie the way I do instead of Fairy?

Well that is an excellent question. I do take influences from the amazing writers Holly Black, J.R.R. Tolkien, Cassandra Clare and Laurell K. Hamilton who use more of the dark faerie folklore in their stories than the fairies we are used to as depicted by Disney. Faeries can be mischievous, devious tricksters that play with humans in any way they can. They are dangerous and do not hesitate to kill a human if they want to.

Also from Wikipedia: The word fairy derives from Middle English faierie (also fayerye, feirie, fairie), a direct borrowing from Old French faerie (Modern French féerie) meaning the land, realm, or characteristic activity.

Now in the Irish Folklore: the trooping faeries are the major and presiding residents of fairyland; but the solitary ones (leprechauns, banshees, etc…) have greater interest in mortal affairs and therefore are generally more familiar to us.

Fairies exist all over the world, but in Ireland they are the ‘sidhe’ (pronounced shee), a name they have retained from the ancient days. (Defined by http://pg4anna.tripod.com/Faeries.htm)

So you see, there are many things you have to know about the land of Faerie to even think about whipping up your own fey story. Not an easy feat but definitely a fun one.

Ever Shade (A Dark Faerie Tale) by Alexia Purdy Excerpts:

#1

He stepped back from her and seemed to shake a bit, as though dusting himself off; the air around him seemed to liquefy. His glamour melted away and the brightness of his skin illuminated the dark hallway.

Shade gasped, her eyes almost popping out of their sockets. He still looked like Jack but his skin glowed with a blue aura; blue fire flickered all over him and electricity crackled along his entire body. Yet he did not burn.

His eyes blinked at her, smiling at her awe.

#2

Dylan speaking to Shade:

“Like a cord between us, it binds me to you, where you go I must then follow. If you go too far, I am compelled to search for you until I find you. If I try to run, I would freeze in my own steps and be made to turn back. I am anything but free. I’m your slave. I intend to see this to its finality and end it.” He snickered then and let her go. “Til death do us part, Shade.”

Visit the author’s website.

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