Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Forever’s Paranormal Blog Tour And Giveaway

I’m delighted to be a part of Forever’s Paranormal Blog Tour featuring authors Kendra Leigh Castle and Kristen Callihan.


Kendra Leigh Castle is the paranormal romance author of: CALL OF THE HIGHLAND MOON (Sourcebooks, May/2008), DARK HIGHLAND FIRE (Sourcebooks, October/2008), WILD HIGHLAND MAGIC (Sourcebooks, May/2009), and in 2011 she made her Forever debut with DARK AWAKENING. Her current release is MIDNIGHT RECKONING.

Forever Romance introduces debut author Kristen Callihan and the upcoming release of her dark, atmospheric paranormal romance, FIRELIGHT.

Thanks to both ladies and the good folks at Grand Central Publishing, I have 3 sets of books (one MIDNIGHT RECKONING and one FIRELIGHT) to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for the guidelines. 
Kendra and Kristen have answered a few questions about their writing.

Mason - What kind of research did you do for the book?
KendraKendra - Fortunately, there wasn’t much research to do for MIDNIGHT RECKONING. I had to do a fair amount for the first book, DARK AWAKENING, because I was building the world, so it was nice to have it already established this time around…I could just jump in! That’s the lovely thing about writing fictional creatures. I get to invent a lot of details. 

Kristen - All sorts. Some mundane (yet fascinating to me), such as researching Victorian London and its culture, finding maps of The British Museum, to many hours looking up types of carriages, Victorian slang, andKristen Callihan proper forms of address for peers. And then there were some subjects that had me wondering what an outsider would think if they happened to see my Google searches. Those would be lovely topics such as: what is the best type of knife to slice open a human throat, how to stitch up a knife wound, 19th using century medicine, demons, immortality curses, and pyrokinetics. Erm, those were also a bit more fun to write.  

Mason - What was the best/worst thing about writing?
Kendra - The best and worst things about writing this book were the same as they are for all of my books. Worst thing: By the time I was finished, I had been through a lot of late nights and several bouts of writer’s block, and I was exhausted. I spent a week fairly zombie-fied before I felt normal again. Best thing: Holding the completed story in my hands, thumbing through the pages, and falling in love with the characters I’d created all over again. 

Kristen - The absolute best thing about writing is getting sucked into a world of your own creation. When you’re really writing, it’s a natural high, much akin to that giddy, heady feeling of falling in love. It’s what brings me back every time. The worst for me is revisions. This is when everything feels like it’s falling apart, the plot makes no sense, your editor and/or agent is telling you all the things that don’t work, and the characters are sitting there staring at you as if to say, “hurry up and figure it all out, will you?” But getting it right during revisions has its own sort of thrill, so it really isn’t too terrible. 
Mason - How would you encourage someone who’s never read your genre to give it a try?
Kendra - I usually just tell people that the stories I write, at their heart, are fairy tales for grown-ups. If they’ve ever loved a fairy tale, then it would be well worth it for them to try a paranormal romance.
Kristen - An excellent question! :) There is a persistent stereotype that romance is fluffy, sappy, thinly-veiled porn for women. When you combine that with paranormal, you get a lot of eye rolling. Some people like to label it as lowbrow entertainment. Of course, like most notions that spring from ignorance, the solution is to try out something before condemning it. Romance isn’t what most people think it is. Romance writers are penning stories with depth, wonderful character development, and kick-ass plots.

FirelightCover My other standard reaction to anyone who says that they do not want to read a paranormal or a romance is to point out that they probably already have. Many classic literature involves paranormal themes and love stories. Even Shakespeare uses all sorts of ghosts, witches, and sprits in his works. And why not? Love, adventure, and the mysteries of the unknown are highly attractive themes. After all, to paraphrase Shakespeare, there are more things in heaven and earth that are dreamt of in our philosophy. 

Kendra and Kristen, thank you both for guest blogging. I enjoyed learning more about your writing and especially your take on encouraging others to read your genre.

A bit of background on Kendra. She now lives in Maryland with her husband, their three children, two high-maintenance Pekingese, and one enormous Siberian cat.

For more information on her and her writing, visit her website at http://kendraleighcastle.com/

Meanwhile, Kristen is a child of the 80's, which means she's worn neon skirts, black-lace gloves, and combat boots (although never all at once) and can quote John Hughes movies with the best of them. A life-long daydreamer, she finally realized that the characters in her head needed a proper home and thus hit the keyboard. She believes that falling in love is one of the headiest experiences a person can have, so naturally she writes romance. 

Her love of superheroes, action movies, and history led her to write historical paranormals. She lives in the Washington D.C. area and, when not writing, looks after two children, one husband, and a dog-the fish can fend for themselves. For more on Kristen and her writing, visit her website at http://www.kristencallihan.com/

Here’s a description of MIDNIGHT RECKONING: In the world that lives by moonlight, vampires aren't the only creatures who create dynasties. The second paranormal romance in the Kendra Leigh Castle's Dark Dynasties series takes readers into a wild world where werewolves--and passion--reign, to share a story of forbidden love.
Wild and passionate by nature, Lyra Black is not just any werewolf. She's the future leader of the powerful pack of the Thorn-if she can stay alive long enough to inherit the title. One of the Cait Sith bloodline of vampire cat-shifters, Jaden Harrison has no interest in the wars plaguing the world of night. But when he rescues Lyra from a violent attack, they're both captured by an insatiable desire that threatens to overwhelm them and bind them together for eternity . . . just as ancient enemies prepare to strike. And when they do, the Thorn and the Cait Sith-and Lyra and Jaden's love-may never recover from the deadly blow . . . 

Here’s a description of FIRELIGHT: Miranda Ellis is a woman tormented. Plagued since birth by a strange and powerful gift, she has spent her entire life struggling to control her exceptional abilities. Yet one innocent but irreversible mistake has left her family's fortune decimated and forced her to wed London's most nefarious nobleman. 
Lord Benjamin Archer is no ordinary man. Doomed to hide his disfigured face behind masks, Archer knows it's selfish to take Miranda as his bride. Yet he can't help being drawn to the flame-haired beauty whose touch sparks a passion he hasn't felt in a lifetime. When Archer is accused of a series of gruesome murders, he gives in to the beastly nature he has fought so hard to hide from the world. But the curse that haunts him cannot be denied. Now, to save his soul, Miranda will enter a world of dark magic and darker intrigue. For only she can see the man hiding behind the mask. 

Now the giveaway guidelines. To enter this giveaway, send me an e-mail (mcbookshelf@gmail.com). Your subject line should read, “Win Paranormal Romance.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only and no post office box addresses can be accepted. In addition, please be advised winners are subject to the one copy per household rule, which means that if you win the same title in two or more contests, you will receive only one copy of the title (or one set in the case of grouped giveaways) in the mail. (Winners here have always be great about letting me know if they have already won the book somewhere else so another winner can be selected. However, this announcement is something that has to be passed along from the publisher). And, just so you know, I don’t share the mailing information or use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance at one of the 3 sets of from the Paranormal Romance Tour (MIDNIGHT RECKONING (ISBN: 978160941838) and FIRELIGHT (ISBN: 9781455508594) will be 8 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday, Feb. 14.

Do you look to see what genre a book is first or read the synopsis? Thanks so much for stopping by.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Author Brad Taylor Discusses Declassifying His Writing

It’s always a pleasure to welcome bestselling author Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Brad Taylor back here to talk about his latest book and his writing.

Unlike most writers, when Brad (a Conroe native) writes in his novels about a particular weapon or the logistics of a military operation, he has to vet it for classified information. Brad’s experience comes from 21 years in combat zones around the world in the infantry, Special Forces, and 8 years as a commander in the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta, commonly known as the Delta Force. He was part of operations to take down Al Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks and, after retiring in 2010, continues as a classified security consultant. 
His debut novel ONE ROUGH MAN was an instant New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller and was welcomed with rave reviews from critics, proving to the world that he is the complete package: a writer who understands how to tell a thrilling story and has more than enough on-the-ground experience to back it up. His second novel, ALL NECESSARY FORCE, is an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride that echoes with real-world scenarios. 

Brad was gracious and answers some questions about his writing for me.

Mason - You walk a fine line writing your book, keeping the story realistic without giving away classified government information. How challenging is that?

Brad - Very challenging. One thing I never want to do in my writing is harm our national security by divulging classified tactics, techniques or procedures, but I also want the manuscript to be as cutting-edge as possible. It’s a dichotomy that caused some serious rewrites on various scenes, such as when the Fort AP Hill ammunition supply point is attacked by terrorists. I did the research on that site, wrote the scene, and then realized I’d just written a blueprint on how to attack it that had a very good chance of succeeding. 

9780525952626HBecause of my knowledge of tactics, and my ability to conduct some seriously close-in research due to my military affiliation, I had crossed the line. I had to go back and throw in some red herrings. I know I’ll get dinged on that by someone with the same knowledge as me, saying, “That would never work,” but that’s the point.  

Mason - Are all the weapons and equipment mentioned in your book real, make-believe or a combination of both?

Brad - On the weapons side, they’re all very real. If it has a bullet coming out of it, it’s something currently being used by Special Operations forces. The equipment, on the other hand, is more of a combination. I have a lot of cutting-edge widgets in ALL NECESSARY FORCE, and all are either real-world, non-classified pieces of kit, or something I created, using what I knew would work given the specific circumstances. As I said above, I don’t want to—and will not—write about any classified kit that I’ve actually used.  

Luckily, I don’t have to expose classified technology to circle the square of my plot. I have a healthy appreciation of what technology can and can’t do, and simply work with that. Even so, there are only so many ways to skin the cat, and I’m constantly worried that I’ll give away a secret without meaning to. 

One widget I created in ALL NECESSARY FORCE was something I had never seen, but I knew was technologically feasible. Sure enough, a few months after I put it on the page I was doing some work for an agency, and the guy I was with pulled out my widget. It had become real, and I was now treading on classified technology without even meaning to. I had him walk me through how it worked, and was satisfied that mine was different enough that I didn’t need to pull it. I won’t say which piece of kit it is, but it’s still in ALL NECESSARY FORCE.

Mason - Why use the Vietnam War as the beginning of ALL NECESSARY FORCE?

Brad - While I was in college, preparing to go into the Army, I read everything I could find on an organization called MACV-SOG, a top-secret Special Forces unit in the Vietnam War. It’s not hyperbole to say my path in the Army was decided in a large part by what I had read about the men and missions of SOG. Many of those members went on to form the special mission unit I served in. 

After I joined Special Forces, I was a pallbearer at my grandmother’s funeral, and found out I had a cousin who was Special Forces and was killed in action in Cambodia in 1970. I never knew him—I was five when he was killed—and didn’t even know any of my family had served in Special Forces until that day. I did some research and found that not only was he in Special Forces, he had volunteered for suicidal missions with MACV-SOG, the very organization that had set me on my path.

ALL NECESSARY FORCE is dedicated to him, and the men of MACV-SOG. They are some of the bravest soldiers this country has ever produced, and I set out to pay a tribute to them, working the plot forward from Vietnam. I tried very hard to get the nuances right, including equipment, locations and terminology that was used during that conflict, doing more research for that prologue than I had for anything else and intertwining real-world history with the fiction on the page.

For instance, Congressman Ellis himself is a name I attributed to a real-world rumor that circulated within MACV-SOG during Vietnam—namely that there was a mole inside headquarters compromising missions—and Chris Hale’s actions in the prologue are based on a real-world SOG combat mission where a Special Forces soldier was posthumously presented the Medal of Honor. I hope I succeeded in getting it right.

Mason - Looking at the finished book now, is there anything else you wish you had included but didn't think of at then?  

Brad - Not really. In truth, I wish I had the ability to keep things out of a manuscript for future use, in effect keep something in reserve for upcoming writing. Typically, I end up throwing in everything that comes to mind, and completing a novel is such a long process that I rarely have any regrets about leaving something out. 

Truthfully, I wouldn’t add anything, but I might change a few things based on the current events ongoing with the Arab spring. Keeping the book timely is always a problem because the real world marches on after the manuscript is sent to press. Luckily, ALL NECESSARY FORCE is holding up well. There might be a tweak or two, but for the most part, current events have only enhanced the plot – especially in Egypt – rather than detract from it.

Mason - What message, if any, would you like readers to take away from reading your book?

Brad - First and foremost, I want them to look at the clock and say, “Dammit, it’s midnight! I need to get some sleep.” Then keep reading. If that happens, I’ve succeeded. Other than enjoying the book, I wanted to show a distinct moral component for the work that men like Pike Logan execute. Too often the characters of such novels or movies run around killing or torturing people without a shred of remorse, when that’s not really the case. 

A lot of time, effort, and thought go into counter-terrorist activities in the real world, and the men and woman who execute them operate within a moral framework. They make decisions with life or death repercussions, and live with those decisions. They aren’t robots. I wanted to show that through the interactions between Pike—an operator experienced with combat—and Jennifer—a relative newcomer to what combat actually entails.

Mason - What can fans expect next from you?  

Brad - I took a step back with the third book, leaving behind the global nature of al Qaida and other Islamic groups, focusing instead on terrorist organizations with finite political goals. Too often we, as Americans, lump all “terrorists” together, when in fact, they have very different goals and capabilities. Like the quote says, one man’s terrorist is definitely another man’s freedom fighter. 

book coverI chose to write about Hezbollah, Hamas, and the intractable Palestinian Diaspora problem vis-à-vis Israel. Probably not very smart, considering what’s going on with the Arab Spring (yes, I’ve already had to do a ton of re-writes based on events in Syria), but it is interesting. I’ve also brought back Lucas Kane. I’ve gotten a ton of emails from folks who read ONE ROUGH MAN and couldn’t wait to see what happens to him in my “next book,” but he’s not in ALL NECESSARY FORCE. 

A great many people insinuated that I let him go in ONE ROUGH MAN simply to set up ALL NECESSARY FORCE, but in reality, I simply wrote his escape because I thought it was poetic justice for Standish. I never meant for that to be some sort of “hook.” I now realize that I made a mistake in letting him go. What he did to Pike’s family required a revisit. Everyone wanted him to get a little Taskforce justice, so I brought him back. Book three ended up revolving around him, like Darth Vader from Star Wars, and make no mistake, he gets some justice.  

Brad, thanks for guest blogging. It’s intriguing to hear about your background and how it’s hard keeping things out of your writing.

Brad will be appearing at 2 books signings in North Carolina this week. If you’re in either of these areas, be sure to drop by the signing.
* Friday, Feb. 3, 7 P.M.
Fayetteville Barnes & Noble
121 Glensford Rd, Fayetteville, NC
* Saturday, Feb. 4, 1 P.M.
Costco (Signing Only)
2838 Wake Forest Rd, Raleigh, NC

Now a little background on Brad. He was born on Okinawa, Japan, but grew up on 40-acres in rural Texas. Graduating from the University of Texas, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Infantry. Brad served for more than 21 years, retiring as a Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel.  

His final assignment was as the Assistant Professor of Military Science at The Citadel in Charleston, SC.  He holds a Master’s of Science in Defense Analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School, with a concentration in Irregular Warfare. When not writing, he serves as a security consultant on asymmetric threats for various agencies. He lives in Charleston, SC with his wife and two daughters. 

For more on Brad and his writing, visit his website at www.bradtaylorbooks.com.

Do you enjoy books that deal with war or the theft of war? Does it make reading more enjoyable if you know the technology used is real or at least partially real? Thanks so much for stopping by today.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Salon: Romance Comes In Many Flavors

coffee-romanceSunday Salon - Gather around my friends, refill your cups and let’s talk books!

When it comes to placing books in genres, I’m amazed at how many sub-genres there are and just how many ways a book can be listed.

Romance is one of those genres that can cover a vast array of sub-listing. I have only 3 examples of that today and they fall into paranormal, western and historical sub-categories of romance. May we always find a little romance in everything we do.


A Demon Does It Better CoverDoctor Lili Carter is a witch healer extraordinaire with a cat familiar named Cleo. After more than a century, Lili returns to San Francisco and has taken a job at Crying Souls Hospital and Asylum, well-known to the supernatural world.

As of late, however, there is something peculiar and wicked happening at Crying Souls. Patients are disappearing and being the curious witch she is, Lili wants to know why.

In a short time, Lili finds herself undeniably attracted to perhaps the most mysterious patient of all — a demented but seriously sexy demon named Jared. What’s behind the gorgeous chameleon demon’s late-night escapades? Before long, Lili and Jared are investigating each other—and creating a whole new kind of magic. But what other dangers are around the corner for both Lili and Jared? Who has the strongest magic?

Author Linda Wisdom has a way of creating a world filled with witches and demons that seems normal and ordinary. Her characters are realistic despite their unique abilities. While her characters may be zany and a bit ‘different,’ they are filled with love, caring, loyalty and friendship (except for the evil ones, of course).

The storyline flows smoothly and quickly. Wisdom combines steamy, sexy characters with humor, adds in a dose of danger and intrigue, stirs in a few surprises and a measure of history for a spellbinding story you can’t put down.

Author Linda Wisdom’s website is www.LindaWisdom.com

A Demon Does It Better by Linda Wisdom, A Demon Series, Sourcebooks Casablanca, @2012, ISBN: 978-1402236723, Paperback, 352 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

DYLAN by C.H. Admirand

dylannewcoverEarn some extra cash and helping out the club owner, Dylan Garahan is working as a dancer at the Lucky Star club. When he’s asked to lasso a brunette as a birthday surprise, he’s the one gets surprised. This time even his formidable strength can’t tame this filly. 

She’s wily and beautiful… and she soon becomes his new boss. Dylan’s had his heart broken before, but even an honest cowpoke has to wrestle with temptation. 

Ronnie DelVecchio had recently purchased the Guilty Pleasure store and was attempting to make a go of it when vandals struck not once but twice. Now her store needs some major repairs and a Garahan brother is suppose to be the carpenter.

While she might be fresh off the bus from New Jersey, Ronnie is a hard-edged businesswoman and has had her fill of men she can’t trust. Should she consider getting off her high horse for that big handsome rancher with a Texas drawl?

You know from the moment these two meet that it’s going to be a bumpy road to the end filled with humor and enough twists and turns to make you want to ring both of their necks while loving it all the way. Author C.H. Admirand has created characters that you feel you’ve known all your life and ones you want to get to know more.

DYLAN is the second installment in the Secret Life of Cowboys series, but is a stand alone read. There are references to the prior book (TYLER), but not so that new readers are lost. If you’re looking for a sexy cowboy to swept you off your feet as you read of ranch life, you’ve come to the right book. Looking forward to seeing what the youngest Garahan brother (JESSE) gets into next.

Author C.H. Admirand’s website is www.chadmirand.com

Dylan by C.H. Admirand, The Secret Life of Cowboys Series, Sourcebooks Casablanca, @2012, ISBN: 978-1402258077, Paperback, 384 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
IRISH LADY by Jeanette Baker

Irish Lady CoverBorn in the slums of Belfast, Meghann McCarthy thought she had left that life far behind. Now a successful and brilliant barriester, Meghann is a woman who has made all her childhood dreams come true - becoming a rich and living in London’s classiest district. 

Yet Meghann can never quite banish Ireland from her heart, or forget Michael Devlin, the boy from the slums she once loved with a passion that nearly tore her apart. Now Michael needs her help.

Because she has never forgotten, Meghann agrees to defend Michael — a notorious Irish nationalist — when he becomes involved in a vicious court case. She’ll risk everything to save him and she’s not the first of her family to do for a man she loves. As Meghann delves further into Michael’s case, further into the history that binds them so irrevocably, she slips into the unfolding drama of centuries before…of another woman’s desperate fight to free her rebel husband from the clutches of Queen Elizabeth.

But even as she jeopardizes her hard-won success, she at last finds the true power and spirit of the Irish heritage she has too long denied…and the courage to face her love for Michael Devlin. 

This is a tale of love and turmoil weaving with the past and present. Author Jeanette Baker places the reader in the setting with her vivid descriptions and wonderful dialect. The love and loyalty will tug at your heartstrings.

Baker beautifully transitions between the present and past making the story flow smoothly as you are caught up in the adventure. The story will captivate you and not let go until the end.

Author Jeanette Baker’s website is www.jeanettebaker.com.

Irish Lady by Jeanette Baker, Sourcebooks Casablanca, @2012, ISBN: 978-1402255922, Paperback, 336 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Do you enjoy a little romance in what you read? Do you like finding other genres – history, paranormal, western, etc. – in with your romance stories? Thanks for stopping by and have a safe and wonderful Sunday.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday Shuffle Of Reviews

The weathermen in my area of the world are calling for a sunny, but cool and windy day - perfect for relaxing with a good book. But then, to me any day is a good day to read.

I’d like to share a variety of reviews with y’all. As usual, I’m featuring various genres. Hope you find something that sparks your interest.

A FEELING IN MY BONES by Gervase Shorter

Jake and Sally met at college and fell in lovFeeling_Covere. The Forresters had a happy life of sorts living in England. Sally worked as a book editor and Jake served as a ‘consultant’ working out problems between companies.

Jake takes a job from a recluse billionaire named Kroger. While abroad on an assignment, Jake disappears. Sally’s not sure where he is, possible Africa. A month later Jake surfaces in a mental clinic in Miami, FL. He’s suffered a nervous breakdown.

Events from there drastically change the couple’s lives forever. Kroger has died and just before he did, changed his will leaving everything to Jake and Sally. While they should be enjoying the good life, Jake has changed. He is no longer the warm and loving man Sally married. The more she checks, the more she discovers she should have left things alone.

This is an intriguing thriller that starts with Sally knowing too much. The reader is then drawn in to find out what it is she knows and why it’s so terrifying and life-threatening.

Author Gervase Shorter has a way of painting beautiful settings with his words. While there are several side stories, they serve to give more depth to the characters and their actions.

There are twists and turns throughout to keep you guessing until the end. This is a fast-pace read that will be hard to put down once you begin.

Author Gervase Shorter’s website is www.gervaseshorter.com

A Feeling In My Bones by Gervase Shorter, Amazon, @2011, ASIN: B005UNJDFA, Kindle, 414 KB, 252 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - This eBook was sent to me by the author in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
D.C. DEAD by Stuart Woods

9781611760439For his latest mystery, author Stuart Woods brings the main characters from three of his series* together for a search for a killer.

CIA Agent Holly Barker contacts Stone Barrington and NYPD Detective Dino Bacchetti on behalf of President Will Lee. A sensitive case needs their discretion and expertise.

Lee will soon be leaving the White House and he and his wife, the CIA Director, want to know for sure if a former member of their cabinet killed his wife and then himself. The investigation leads Stone and Dino through the exclusive world of Washington politics, power and privilege. They soon learn they are treading on the scandalous side where secrets are great motivation for murder.

Meanwhile, a secondary un-related story is going on in the background involving the CIA and Holly.

It was interesting having all these main characters together in one story. The plot, while not action-packed, was intriguing as the layers were peeled away. There was some foul language, but not over used.

As always, Tony Roberts did a wonderful job narrating the story. I can’t image Stone or Dino without hearing Roberts’ interruption. His style and mannerisms add depth to the characters and brings the story to life.

No matter what Stone and Dino are up to, you know murder, mystery, intrigue, and a good stiff drink will be involved. If you’re a Barrington fan, this is another one to add to your collection.

This is a stand alone book even though it involves characters from other stories. *Stone and Dino are from the Stone Barrington series, Holly from the Holly Barker series, and Will from the Will Lee series.

Looking forward to these characters’ next adventure either as a group or individual series.

Author Stuart Woods’ website is www.stuartwoods.com

D.C. Dead by Stuart Woods, A Stone Barrington Novel, Read by Tony Roberts, Penguin Audio, @2011, ISBN: 978-1611760439, Unabridged, 6 Disc, Listening Time 7 Hours, 30 Minutes 

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
THE COUGAR’S PREY by Larry D. Sweazy

CougarsPreyIt’s early 1875 and Texas Ranger Josiah Wolfe has gone undercover to investigate cattle thefts and raids that have ranchers upset in Corpus Christie.

Even though he was cleared of any wrong doing concerning the death of a fellow Ranger, the town isn’t willing to be as forgiving of Wolfe. So Captain Leaunder McNelly sends Wolfe to Corpus Christie possessing as hide trader Zeb Teter.

The more Wolfe investigates, the more he finds all may not be as it seems. The reasons for his assignment may run deeper than he suspects.

Author Larry D. Sweazy does a wonderful job placing the reader in the territory as he vividly describes the area. He masterfully blends historical events and people with his own characters for a plausible chain of events.

THE COUGAR’S PREY is an intriguing tale of western lore, murder, mystery and deception. It’s a fast-pace read that will lasso readers in and hold them till the end.

Author Larry D. Sweazy’s website is www.larrydsweazy.com

The Cougar’s Prey by Larry D. Sweazy, A Josiah Wolfe Texas Ranger Novel, Berkley, @ 2011, ISBN: 978-0425243947, Paperback, 304 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by BreakThrough Promotions (http://www.breakthroughpromotions.net/) in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Have you read any of these books? Do you enjoy mixing your reading up a bit? Thanks so much for stopping by.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Author Larissa Hinton: Writing Advice And Why She Writes

meI’m always delighted when I can introduce a ‘new-to-me’ author to ya’ll and today I’m welcoming poet and author Larissa Hinton to talk about her writing.

Larissa is the author of IWISHACANA/ACANAWISHI. Here’s a brief synopsis of it: Where rules are meant to be broken - Anissa is constantly on the run from the police and can't seem to stay out of trouble. Secrets are meant to be kept - Until Anissa hides Florence in her bedroom and her mother finds out. There's only one thing left to do: Send her to Juvenile Cop Camp to erase all of her crimes on her record. And everything is not what it seems - There's only one problem: Anissa is innocent. Welcome to Iwishacana. 

She is also the author of EVERBLOSSOM: A SHORT STORY AND POETRY ANTHOLOGY. Here’s a brief description: An anthology that will quench your thirst for more than the ordinary. EVERBLOSSOM is a journey through poems and short stories that may seem ordinary on the surface but dig a little deeper and the world not only shifts . . . It changes. 

The author who brought you IWISHACANA/ACANAWISHI, now brings you a dash of everything from dark fantasy to the paranormal to romance. So prepare yourself to delve into the three stages of the flower from bud to blossom then back to seed; you'll go through them all with a whole new perspective on what it all truly means. 

Larissa has graciously answered some questions for me about her work. 
Mason - Have you always wanted to write or was there an event that lead you to writing?

Larissa - There was an event that led me to writing full time. I've always tinkered around with writing, but I never considered seriously writing until the Nickelodeon movie, Clock Stoppers came out. I thought the movie was going to be horrible, so I decided that I would write a novel that would be better than the movie. Needless to say, my book wasn't as good as the move but I didn't care. I love writing and nothing else mattered. Thus my obsession with writing begun.
Mason - What advice have you received writing that you pass on to other inspiring writers?

coveriwishaLarissa - The number one advice I receive constantly throughout my entire career as a writer is to never give up. I really cannot stress this enough to writers.

It seems like defeat is fate for writers. Traditional publishers and agents are dishing out rejection slips as if it's the new hottest trends. Self-publishing seems like giving up on your dreams altogether.

But reconsidering your options, doing research on your plans in publishing and joining a support writing group makes all the difference. Throughout your writing career, just remember to never give up. Never give up and believe in your talent, and from there you'll know where to go.

Mason - Of all the authors (past and present) you enjoy reading, has any one (or more) been an influence in your writing?

Larissa - Meg Cabot has had a direct impact on the way I format my YA paranormal fantasy, ANGEL DIARIES. I had NO idea how I wanted to format a diary format and so I looked to her book for the format.

Meg Cabot and Stephanie Meyer has had the biggest impact on how I write. The way that Stephanie Meyer wrote pure poetry into her works inspired me. I'm a poet first then a novelist later, so seeing how much poetry influenced her writing inspired me. Stephanie Meyer convinced me to break out of the fantasy realm a bit and try something new. I went from writing light fantasy (IWISHACANA/ACANAWISHI) to dark fantasy/paranormal fantasy (ANGEL DIARIES) and I loved writing it. It just seemed to fit me like a glove, so I really can't thank her enough for helping me decide to switch genres. And since I've switched genres, now I want to try all kinds of new genres like science fiction and horror.

Another couple of authors that had a big impact on me were Madeline Baker and Johanna Lindsay. They helped me write historical romance. Romance novels were the first books I really loved writing, so I wrote at least five of those in a row, then I switched back to YA after a while. But I cannot thank those authors enough for showing me how to write historical romance novels.
Mason - What is an average writing day like for you? Do you write longhand and on the computer, have a favorite place to write, a favorite time to write?

Everblossom-Larissa HintonLarissa - An average day for me is to wake up edit ANGEL DIARIES for an hour, then type up the handwritten book V for like 30 minutes or until the next gap. Then for the next 30 minutes or so, I read a book out of TBR pile (To Be Reviewed pile that has accumulated to a ridiculously high level thanks to the Free Book fairy) for my blog (A Three Way Tie).
Then I check my email to see if any book reviewer has responded to my request to read IWISHACANA/ACANAWISHI and EVERBLOSSOM: A SHORT STORY AND POETRY ANTHOLOGY. Additionally, I check for other stuff like cover artist (to see if he gets my email about the changes to the cover), my blog tour coordinator (to check up on the details and what additional information she needs), and of course, to see if Smashwords sold any of my books. Which practically never happens, lol. But I still keep the hope alive!

Anyway, then for the rest of the day, I usually send more book review requests, network about my blog on various social sites, and read Kindleboards to keep my inspiration up. Sometimes I like to continue building on my erotica anthology, EVERBLOSSOM 2, and maybe edit IWISHACANA/ACANAWISHI 2. It just depends on my mood. 

But yeah, that's my busy schedule. You would be surprised at how long this all takes me and how much time gets sucked up by promotion and networking and by . . . Okay, yes the Kindleboards. I admit it. Smile

Mason - Do you just jump right into a story or do you plan and outline?

Larissa - I absolutely plan and organize my thoughts before jumping in with novels. However, with short stories, I'm more willing to jump in and see what happens since it's a short story and I can always fix the problems rather quickly and easily.

Novels, on the other hand, are definitely more difficult to locate the problem and fix it therefore, planning is essential to when I write a novel. Sometimes it takes me years to come up with enough information, planning, and research to start a novel. I know for ANGEL DIARIES 2 (which I work on and off since I don't want to rush it) it took me about five years to get enough information and research to start the novel. Hopefully, though I'll start spitting more books out quicker. 

Mason - What is the worst advice you’ve ever received concerning writing?

Larissa - Hmm, this is a tough one. Oh yes, I remember one that really had me scratching my head. And editor suggested that my book, ANGEL DIARIES, was purely a young adult romance novel and suggested that I took out all of the paranormal elements and stick with the romance line part of the story which blew my mind. 

I was really shocked. The best part? They responded to my query letter like six months later. So yeah, by that time I got a publishing contract from another small publisher anyway. It just floors me how one editor thought I was writing in the wrong genre. Talk about a shocker.

Mason - What is next on the agenda for you?

Larissa - What's next for me is to network and to let everyone know about my two books, IWISHACANA/ACANAWISHI (YA fantasy novel) and EVERBLOSSOM: A SHORT STORY AND POETRY ANTHOLOGY.

Thanks for the wonderful interview!
Larissa, thanks for guest blogging. It’s fun finding out more background on an author and their writing routine. Sounds like that one editor was off a bit there. Best of luck with your writing.

Now for a little background on Larissa. She is a grad student at Hampton University that hopes by next year to be a full time secondary English teacher. She explains that in the morning she'll be a teacher but at night she’ll become an author. 

Larissa went to say, “Most of the fiction I write really comes from a life of reading of what I love to read. Some of it, comes from a dark place which I never knew existed until college. Ah, gotta love college. Always discovering new sides of yourself. If you want to know more about me and my sarcasm, you can just check out my blog (A Three Way Tie) and click on FAQ's. Thanks for reading my super short bio! Smile
EVERBLOSSOM: A SHORT STORY AND POETRY ANTHOLOGY can be purchased at Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.

Do you enjoy learning what an author’s writing routine is like? If you’re a writer, does your writing routine change daily or never? Thanks so much for stopping by today. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

If I could live my life the way I drive my car … Author Pesi Dinnerstein

DinnersteinPesi_webAnyone who has ever stopped by here knows I long to be organized. When I read about author Pesi Dinnerstein’s WOW! Women On Writing Blog Tour, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

You see, Pesi’s latest release is A CLUTTERED LIFE: SEARCHING FOR GOD, SERENITY, AND MY MISSING KEYS. Here’s a brief description of it: Insightful, unsettling, and wildly funny, A CLUTTERED LIFE: SEARCHING FOR GOD, SERENITY, AND MY MISSING KEYS (Seal Press) is the story of Pesi Dinnerstein’s quest to create a simple and orderly life—only to discover that simplicity is not so simple and what constitutes clutter is not always perfectly clear.  

When a chance encounter with an old acquaintance reveals the extent to which disorder has crept into every corner of her existence, Pesi determines to free herself, once and for all, of the excess baggage she carries with her. Along the way—with the help of devoted friends, a twelve-step recovery program, and a bit of Kabbalistic wisdom—her battle with chaos is transformed into an unexpected journey of self-discovery and spiritual awakening.

Thanks to Pesi and Robyn from WOW, I have a print copy of Pesi’s book to give away to a lucky visitor who comments on today’s post by 8 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, Feb. 2. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only. Be sure to leave your e-mail address in your comment, if it’s not included in your profile.

Pesi joins us today to talk about “If I could live my life the way I drive my car…’

AClutteredLife_webIf I could only live my life the way I drive my car . . . wild and playful, as if I’m behind the wheel of a red convertible instead of a grey minivan . . . rolling with the curves . . . singing aloud through open windows . . . . free and joyful and ready for whatever the road may bring . . . .

But, most of the time, my cluttered existence doesn’t feel anything like that. The way I scramble through my life and the way I sail down the highway unfortunately have very little in common.

The other day, I had a back-to-back schedule of appointments and errands, with only one free hour in between. I decided to use that hour for a quick cup of tea with my mother—not an ideal visit, but better than nothing. It’s only a three-mile trip and generally takes no more than seven minutes, door to door.

This morning, however, I had the misfortune of getting stuck in a line of cars behind the Lolly Trolley. This vehicle—which we’re not permitted to pass—lumbers along at about 15 miles per hour through our retirement village, stopping every block or two to drop off and pick up local residents. At this time of year—with all the tourists and grandchildren visiting—the ride can be excruciatingly slow.  

By the time the trolley drove from the entrance to my mother’s condo, it must have stopped 12 times and raised my blood pressure 40 points. My visit with her was now reduced to about three minutes, and the rest of my day was rapidly backing up as well.

WOWblogExcellenceFeeling as if my overextended life was closing in on all sides, I was beginning to explode with frustration. Why me . . . why now . . . why can’t things ever go smoothly?! Then, in a sobering thought, it suddenly occurred to me that instead of living the way I drive, I had now begun to drive the way I live. This was definitely not the change I had hoped for.

Eager for a little distraction, I looked around and noticed the bumper sticker on the car in front of me. In bright red letters on a yellow background, it said, “Slow down—Make an ordinary moment extraordinary.”   

Hardly an original thought—but, this time, it had new meaning for me.  

I finally understood that I don’t live my life the way I drive my car because I live it 24 ordinary hours a day, seven days a week—not just on an occasional jaunt down I-95 with the windows open and the radio blasting. And, no matter what the bumper stickers say, it’s not an easy shift.  

But, then, I thought to myself, what if I stopped for just a few minutes a day and tried to connect with that special feeling of freedom and open space that I experience on an empty highway? Maybe—one ordinary moment at a time—my life might finally begin to break free and move in that direction . . . even with the Lolly Trolley still sitting there blocking my way. 

Pesi, thanks so much for guest blogging. I can so relate to your comment ‘why can’t things ever go smoothly?’ I have that thought often. It is hard for us to stop and enjoy those moments.

Now let me share some background on Pesi with you. Pesi (a.k.a. Paulette Plonchak) has written selections for the best-selling series Small Miracles, by Yitta Halberstam and Judith Leventhal, and has contributed to several textbooks and an anthology of short stories.

She recently retired as a full-time faculty member of the City University of New York, where she taught language skills for close to 30 years. She has been an aspiring author and self-acknowledged clutterer for many years, and has spent the better part of her life trying to get organized and out from under. Despite heroic efforts, she has not yet succeeded; but she continues to push onward, and hopes that her journey will inspire others to keep trying as well.

For more on Pesi and her writing, visit www.aclutteredlife.com or www.sealpress.com. Pesi’s Twitter tag for this tour is #ClutteredLife.

Are you an organized person? If so, how did you and do you manage it? Thanks so much for dropping by today. Remember to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of A CLUTTERED LIFE: SEARCHING FOR GOD, SERENITY, AND MY MISSING KEYS.