Monday, July 30, 2012

Review Day: Sign of the Times

It's Review Day!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *happy dance*

Title: Sign of the Times
Author: Susan Buchanan
Rating: 5 stars

(description from Amazon)
Twelve people. Twelve star signs.

Sagittarius - Holly, a travel writer, visits Tuscany to research her next book. Seeking help when her car breaks down, she gets more than assistance when Dario, a vineyard owner, puts temptation in her path. Disappearing without explanation, he proves elusive. Bruised, Holly tries to put it behind her until a chance encounter brings her feelings to the surface again.

Capricorn – Holly’s fiancĂ©, Tom misses her while she is in Italy and turns to an internet chat room for solace. His construction business is under threat, but could foul play be at work?

Gemini - Holly’s sister, Lucy, a serial man-eater finally meets her match, which puts her long-term relationship and career in jeopardy. Cheating she discovers, can have devastating consequences.

Libra - Holly’s uncle Jack, an eminent prosecutor, juggles a difficult teenage son with his high profile career and finds himself lacking. When his son’s school work starts slipping, he decides he needs to take control, but it’s not long before the balls all come tumbling down and Jack finds his family on the wrong side of the law.

One event binds them all… (end)

Susan Buchanan is a genius!  This novel was not only clever, witty and hilarious, but absolutely amazing!  I couldn't put it down!  The intricate characters and plot keep are absolutely stunning and perfectly executed.  Each of the twelve characters are developed in such a way that the reader knows each one by the end.  Normally I don't feel that a person is a certain *type* because of their *star sign*, but Susan wove the characteristics/beliefs into the story in a way that was very believable.

If you have read, heard of, or even watched the movie version of The Five People You Meet in Heaven, you must read this novel.  Susan shows you how one situation can bring twelve people together, who are only tied together by one single person - Holly.  I absolutely loved the main character, Holly, and many of the other characters.  It was a blast learning each character and trying to figure out how the story would tie together.  Susan - you have a huge success here!  Congrats!

Sign of the Times can be purchased on Amazon hereThis novel is one you should definitely read - everyone will love this novel!  I highly recommend this novel for both men and women above the age of 17 (some sexual/applied sexual content).  Follow Susan Buchanan on Twitter.  Happy Review Day!

Update: Susan just informed me there will be a sequel!!  The release date has not been set yet.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Teresa Morrow: 3 Lessons to Live a Happier Life

Today's guest is Teresa Morrow, author of Life Lessons from the HeartHere are Teresa's three lessons that will help us life a happier life.

3 Lessons To Live a Happier Life

Life can be tricky at times. Life can be amazing at times. When you are challenged with life how do you face it? Do you put your face in the sand and just wait for the uncomfortable part to be over or do you look for a different perspective on the situation?

Here are three things you can do when times get tough in life to become happier and see the inspiration in the moment.

1)Life is a journey, and a part of that journey is going outside the perimeter of the box and seeing if you agree with what is beyond or not.

Many times, we are taught to do/say/be a certain thing even if it doesn't make us happy. We may go along with it because we feel a sense of obligation to do so however, we are miserable. You do have a choice to change that thing you are feel so stuck in and go outside the box. You have the power within you to change your life. You can be in control of what you need to do in order to live your true life purpose. And when you do, you will find your life becomes much happier in ways you may not have even expected.

2)When we are spending energy trying to change someone else’s mind about something, we are taking the energy away from what we have in front of us.

Been there done this? We spend so much time with what other people think, what they are doing, what they should be doing, what they should think, we lose sight of our own happiness. If you are in a situation where you are fighting with someone who thinks differently than you do, it is important to realize you are using up your energy to change their mind. You have to allow the other person time to come to the decision to change their mind on their own. You can not make someone change their mind unless they wish to do so. You will be more productive spending that time concentrating on
what makes you happy instead of sucking up time worrying about changing the other person's mind.

3) When we strive so hard to control everything and/or everyone, we end up most of the time making more of a mess than there is initially.

We need to realize we don't have to know everything, everywhere, with everyone all times. It is almost in breed in us to have our lives under control. Under the stress of having it under control, we tend to create more of a mess than needed because we can't handle it. The good part about life is we are not meant to have it all under control all the time. We are human and it is okay not to have all the answers all the time. We aren't suppose to know what will happen next in every circumstance. Allow yourself to understand you don't have to know and do everything all the time. You aren't supposed to know everything and do everything. Accept and release control and you will be happier.

We tend to put undo pressure on ourselves to be something or someone we aren't even supposed to be in this world. We tend to want everyone to think as we do and when they don't we waste countless hours arguing to ourselves and others about changing that persons' mind. We tend to want to control everything in our lives only to realize we can't.  All these things bring on unnecessary stress and negativity in our life.  When we can allow ourselves to seek things outside the box, release control and not try to change someone's mind to our thinking, we can live much happier and fulfilled lives toward our true purpose.

This post came from topics found in Teresa Morrow's book, Life Lessons from the Heart.  You can purchase the book on Smashwords.

Teresa is also a book blogger,  click here to visit her website.  She is currently working on her first fiction book which is slated for release by the end of 2012.  Happy Guest Day!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Peasants' Giveaway!

Since I haven't had much time lately to hold my own giveaway, I thought I would tell everyone about an amazing giveaway that is going on!  My fellow blogger and Twitter friend, Fel Wetzig and the Peasants from Peasants' Fun Reads, is currently holding a giveaway!

There will be two winners!  The grand prize winner will win two books of their choice off the list, and the runner up and win one book of their choice off the list.

The possible prizes are....
Reference works for writers -
  • Writing Fight Scenes by Rayne Hall (Fel's review)
  • The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
  • Writing Scary Scenes by Rayne Hall (Fel's review)
Fiction -
"I’m starting the giveaway with 80 blog followers, so if I reach 100 blog followers by July 30th, I’ll add a third book to the giveaway for the Grand Prize winner.  I have 70 “likes” on Facebook, and if I reach 100 “likes,” I’ll add a third winner (2nd Runner-up)." - Fel

For more information, CLICK HERETo enter the giveaway, CLICK HERE. annndddd.... May the odds be ever in your favor!  Good Luck and Happy Giveaway Day!
**Please remember...this giveaway is not on my blog.  I do not control it in any way.  This post counts towards my own entry to the giveaway.   If you have any questions, please ask Fel. **

Authors Not-So-Anonymous Week #29

Welcome everyone to the twenty-ninth Authors Not-So-Anonymous weekly meeting!! This weekly series is about authors from Twitter and Facebook!  This week, I would like to introduce Adrian Walker into Authors Not-So-Anonymous!

Adrian Walker is an author by night, and a software developer by day.  He currently lives in Scotland.  "I started writing poetry and short stories when I was very young, then tried twice to write a novel in my twenties, the second time holed up in a shack on a remote beach in New Zealand.  From The Storm is my first completed novel though, which I started around seven years ago.  I took six months off between jobs (I'm a software developer by day) and focussed on it every day.  By the time I had to return to work, I was about 90% finished.  It took the remaining six years to finish the last 10%!"

Adrian's inspiration for writing started with his father and The Grapes of Wrath.  "My dad is an excellent writer and we've always shared a passion for books, so you could say he was my first inspiration.  We argue about words and grammar all the time. Some things stick with you.  I'll always remember how I felt after reading the first few paragraphs of The Grapes of Wrath, the calm and simple prose describing a country changing over a season.   That book, as with a lot of American writing, really inspired me."

His top three favorite novels are:
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe by Douglas Adams 
  • I, Lucifer by Glen Dunca
  • The Once and Future King by T.H. White
Other authors that he likes are -  
  • John Steinbeck
  • Tom Robbins
  • Sebastian Faulks
  • Stephen King
In January of 2012, Adrian released From The Storm.  He hopes to have his second novel out in 2013.

"We don’t know what his name is or where he came from, but he is living in my room."  

In the near future, a young man seeks adventure in the French Alps. Lost, feverish and caught in a freak snowstorm, he finds refuge in a lonely mountain farm where he stumbles upon a young girl’s diary from eighty years before. Claudette tells of farm life disrupted by a blizzard and the arrival of a stranger with a terrible injury. With her father sick, the eight-year-old chronicles her struggle to look after the farm, and its unwanted guest, alone  

In present day London, Joseph Martin has screwed up. Once he was a lethal assassin, the best gun-for-hire. Now, in his autumn years, even he has to admit he is losing it. His failing skills have landed him in trouble with a dangerous client Only the successful completion of an eerily familiar mission can save his skin; a mission which takes him into deepest Asia, where he must face a past he has long tried to forget.  

He’s not the only one on the road in Asia. London city boy Ashley Gritten is travelling. Shedding the challenges of his privileged life in Kensington, he’s off to ‘find himself’ in the drugs, girls and debauchery of the backpacker trail. But something else finds him. Something much, much worse.

Who would have thought that a rich kid and an ageing hit man would have so much in common? And what does all of this have to do with Elmo, a pianist on his death bed in Venice?  

A dark and humorous story of how selves are lost and lives are found.

From The Storm can be purchased on Amazon and Smashwords.  Follow Adrian on Twitter here.  Have an author to nominate?  Send me a message via Twitter, Facebook, or leave a comment with the author(s) name and contact information.  I'd love to add new members!  Happy Reading!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Review Day: Aspen 2-Million Winner Take All

Welcome to the Aspen Blog Tour!  I have a review today of John Morris's novel, Aspen 2 Million Winner Take-All.  To see more information about the tour, click here.

Author: John Morris
Title: Aspen 2 Million Winner Take-All
Rating: 3 stars

The Aspen 2-Million Winner-Take-All (description):
Morgan thought he had it made.  He owned a cozy if dilapidated house in Aspen’s otherwise-fashionable West End, had lots of friends, a great business, threw the best parties in town.

Then his beautiful-but-aloof neighbor Risa sued him for a million bucks-- for killing her dog.  (Seriously.  And he hadn’t even been there.)  She was asking the judge to throw him out of town, too.  (It’s a local tradition.)

For Morgan, the money didn’t matter.  He didn’t have a nickel to his name.  But he couldn’t imagine not living in Aspen.

His only hope: to win a 2-million dollar golf tournament (held on the sly at the local links) and pay Risa off.  Either that or discover her deep, dark secret and blackmail her.  Until his best friend/lawyer suggested Option #3: “Why don’t you just get her to fall in love with you?” (end)
Aspen 2 Million Winner Take-All is about Morgan, a young male who thinks his life is going too good to be true, when all of the sudden the incredibly gorgeous (described as a Playboy and swimsuit model), yet mysterious, miss Risa shows up.  Risa has this tiny little dog (a Bichon Frise named Tyson) who never stops yapping (not barking... definitely yapping).  One night Morgan has a house party, the party gets out of hand and a pot plant (that is dead) is knocked off an outside balcony and lands directly onto little Tyson, sadly squishing him like a pancake.  When Risa finds out, she mourns Tyson's death for days.  When Morgan confronts Risa to apologize, she freaks out and sues Morgan.... for a million dollars.

Morgan has three options, 1) find the money to pay off Risa, 2) disappear 3) make Risa fall in love with her.  When Morgan hears of a golf tournament with a 2 million dollar prize, he enters it.  Will he win? Will he be able to make Risa fall in love with him? Or will he be able to do both?

The characters from John's novel are creative and entertaining.  From the first chapter, the characters had me intrigued.  I wanted to know more about Morgan and Risa, how the two would interact and see how their relationship (or lack their of) may or may not grow.  The best part about this novel was the fact that it was told from a young male's point-of-view.  It made the story more entertaining (I was actually laughing out loud a few times...I think I had my coworkers scared that I was laughing at myself, heh) and really showed how vulnerable every character can be.  I thoroughly enjoyed waiting for the story to develop and see who would win the tournament.
I liked the overall idea of the plot; however, the novel was a little long.  It was comprised of 37 chapters.  By the end of the novel, I found myself wanting to skip ahead and ignore small details or small adventures.  The sub-plots in the novel were important, however not as intriguing as the main plot.  With that said, I still enjoyed reading this novel.  John did an incredible job with the characters, main plot and developing the entire situation thoroughly.  He wrote this novel with his personal experience in mind, and that made it all the more believable and realistic to imagine.  I was truly transported to Aspen during the novel.

About John Morris:
John Morris lives in Aspen, Colorado, with his loving wife and two wonderful children.  Having worked many of the same cowboy / construction / bartender / ski-patrol jobs as his fictional counterpart Morgan, he can vouch for how easy it is for a good-looking guy to get in trouble there.

Follow John and the Aspen blog tour on Facebook and the tour website.  Aspen 2 Million Winner Take-All can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and the iBook store.  Happy Review and Blog Tour Day!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Natalie Wexler: When Is Humor In Writing Too Much?

Welcome to the Mother Daughter Show Blog Tour!!!  Today, I have the author of The Mother Daughter Show, Natalie Wexler, here to discuss humor and satire - when is it too much? as part of the tour.  Included in the post are a short bio of Natalie and a description of her novel.  Have fun!


The Mother Daughter Show (book description):
At Barton Friends a D.C. prep school so elite its parent body includes the President and First Lady - three mothers have thrown themselves into organizing the annual musical revue. Will its Machiavellian intrigue somehow enable them to reconnect with their graduating daughters, who are fast spinning out of control? By turns hilarious and poignant, The Mother Daughter Show will appeal to anyone who's ever had a daughter - and anyone who's ever been one. 

When is it (humor/satire in writing) too much? 
I’m sure different authors—and readers—have different answers to that question. The definition of “good writing” is to some extent subjective. The definition of “good fiction” is even more subjective. And I would guess that the definition of “good satire” is the most subjective of all. 

Just speaking for myself, then, I’m not a big fan of broad satire, especially in novel-length form. It’s hard to sustain for more than small stretches—essays or short stories—and I’m not sure I’m capable of doing it. When I was writing The Mother Daughter Show, a couple of readers advised me to make the characters and situations more exaggerated—they thought it would make the book funnier. But when I’ve read novel-length broad satire, I’ve found it got old pretty fast.

Besides, from the beginning I wanted the book to be more than a satire. I also wanted to say something serious about mother-daughter relationships, albeit in a light-hearted way. And it seemed to me that in order to do that, my characters had to be more than cartoons—they had to be three-dimensional beings that the reader would actually care about, even while she was laughing at them. And if I was going to spend as long a time as a novelist needs to with her fictional creations, I had to care about them as well.

Another way in which satire can go off the rails is when it’s directed at specific individuals rather than at general traits within a specific group. It just so happens I’m working on a historical novel right now in which the main character is based on a real woman named Eliza Anderson who edited a magazine in Baltimore in 1807. Her goal was to raise the cultural level of the city through satire, and to some extent that boiled down to making fun of her fellow citizens. She was attacked for cruelly skewering certain individuals—or at least, that’s what some in Baltimore claimed she was doing. Anderson’s defense was that she meant her satire to be “general,” and that anyone who saw real individuals in her sketches was completely mistaken.

It’s hard to know who to believe at a distance of two hundred years. But one thing that’s inclined me to be sympathetic to Anderson is that I myself have been the subject of attacks similar to those leveled against her. Some people in Washington, D.C., where my novel is set, have claimed that the characters in The Mother Daughter Show are thinly veiled portrayals of real individuals.

To me this accusation is ludicrous, because I know exactly how much I made up—and not just in terms of plot elements. Of course I incorporated some real things I’d observed—all novelists do—but fundamentally my characters are my own inventions. And yes, I was satirizing certain elements of private school culture, but the foibles I targeted (including things like the obsession with admission to prestigious colleges and the lavishing of expensive clothes and accessories on teenage girls who leave them lying around in piles in their bedrooms) are indeed “general,” at least in that milieu. I’ve been very much a part of that culture, and I was satirizing myself as much as anyone else.

And I do think that’s one way to guard against satire being “too much”: try to include yourself in the group you’re satirizing. Of course, you’re the one who’s making the jokes, and there’s no guarantee that others will agree with you. But it’s worth the risk. There are times when satire will cause offense, but there are also times when satire will open people’s eyes to some things that actually deserve to be laughed at, in a way that direct criticism of those things might not.

As Eliza Anderson said in 1807, “It is ridicule alone that corrects mankind. Banish criticism, satire, and raillery, and there will no longer be any salt in society.”

Natalie Wexler is the author of The Mother Daughter Show (Fuze Publishing 2011) and an award-winning historical novel, A More Obedient Wife. She is a journalist and essayist whose work has appeared in the Washington Post Magazine, the American Scholar, the Gettysburg Review, and other publications, and she is a reviewer for the Washington Independent Review of Books. She has also worked as a temporary secretary, a newspaper reporter, a Supreme Court law clerk, a legal historian, and (briefly) an actual lawyer. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband.

What do you think? When is there too much satire/humor in writing OR is there even a such thing as too much satire/humor in writing?  Follow Natalie Wexler and the rest of the Mother Daughter Show blog tour on Natalie's website, Goodreads, blog, Tribute's Facebook, Fuze's Facebook, and Twitter.  Happy Blog Tour Day!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Authors Not-So-Anonymous Week #28

Welcome everyone to the twenty-eigth Authors Not-So-Anonymous weekly meeting!! This weekly series is about authors from Twitter and Facebook!  This week, I would like to introduce Ira Nayman into Authors Not-So-Anonymous!

Ira Nayman has a PhD in Communications (but don't call him Doctor!), is Canadian, wrote film criticisms for Creative Screenwriting, and he won the 2010 Jonathan Swift Satire Writing Award.  He is an author of "comic science fiction in the form of journalism" aka: The Alternate Reality News Service.  A little confused? (I know I was...) "There is an organization called The Alternate Reality News Service that sends reporters into other dimensions and has them write news articles about what they find there. In addition to the straight news articles, the feature has evolved over the years to include two advice columns, obituaries and behind the scenes narratives...a science fiction version of The Onion." (Yeah, I admit it, I had to Google The Onion.)  Watch the YouTube video too - A Book Trailer called "Book" Trailer.  heh.  I bet you will chuckle a bit.


The Alternate Reality News Service is very intriguing and one I'm definitely going to be keeping my eyes on.  "Each book contains 80 separate pieces of writing, which allows me to throw in absurdest humour, political and social satire, cultural parody and whatever else I happen to be thinking about at the moment I am sitting at my computer ready to write.  I like to think my books are rich literary experiences."

Ira began his love affair with humour when he began dedicating his entire life to in his late teens and early twenties.  He began regularly writing in the year 1984.  "Although I have been writing (and promoting) humourous science fiction for about seven or eight years, I do not consider myself primarily a science fiction writer; I consider myself primarily a humour writer.  I have also written humourous horror stories (about vampires) and straight humour in various of the genres sub-genres (ie: sitcoms, satires and surrealism)."

Ira runs a website where his work can be found easily.  This site has a mixture of his work.  "...although I mostly write prose now, I am not necessarily committed to this medium.  Before I started my Web site, Les Pages aux Folles (10 years old in September!), I wrote lots of scripts for film and television (for example: the vampire stories were for an original un-produced TV series).  Visitors to my Web site will find that, in addition to its prose, there are also two new cartoons every week.  This focus on content rather than medium gives me tools that strictly prose authors do not have."  Click here to be taken to Ira's website.
Oh look! Another video!

This is part 1 of 2 (click here to see part 2) in the live radio show that Ira has written based on his novels.  "I have written a six part radio series based on stories out of the first two Alternate Reality News Service books." 

Two of Ira's favorite authors are Thomas Pynchon and Douglas Adams.  He draws humour writing influence from the Marx Brothers and Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  Ira is currently working on several projects "I wrote a novel called Welcome to the Multiverse (Sorry for the Inconvenience).  It is about an investigation by members of the Transdimensional Authority, the organization that monitors and polices traffic between dimensions. Although the TA was mentioned in a couple of Alternate Reality News Service articles (and new Alternate Reality News Service articles are incorporated into it), the novel stands on its own.  I am currently looking for a publisher for it.  I have also written two novelettes which, although they stand alone, will eventually be melded with other work into a second TA novel; I am currently looking for a publisher for them." 

He is also working on, "I have written a series of stories that take place in a universe where matter at all levels of organization has become conscious. They feature a character named Antonio Van der Whall, who is an object psychologist.  To date, four of these stories have been sold.  “A Really Useful Engine” has been published in Even Birds Are Chained To The Sky and Other Tales: The Fine Line Short Story Collection and “Escalation is Academic” has appeared in the anthology UnCONventional.  “If the Mountain Won’t Come to Mohammed” was just released in Here Be Monsters 6.  And, finally, “Thinking is the Worst Way to Travel” has been accepted into Explorers: Beyond the Horizon; it will be published in the next month or two.  Several other stories in the series are currently awaiting editorial decisions at various publications.  Finally, I wrote a short story about everybody in the world waking up and finding that their gender has flipped called “Both Sides. NOW!” That was really fun to write; I hope it is accepted into the anthology for which it was written."  (I think Both Sides, NOW! Sounds hilarious!)

A few words of encouragement from Ira..."I have come to understand that making people laugh is (almost) always a virtuous thing to do. If I can make them think after the laughter has died down, I have achieved all that a writer could have hoped for."

Ira's novels can be found on Amazon here.  Have an author to nominate?  Send me a message via Twitter or leave a comment with the author(s) name and Twitter name or contact information.  I'd love to add new members!  Happy Reading!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bill Wetterman takes over!

Bill Wetterman is taking over today! Sit back, relax, and read all about his amazing new novel Room1515.  Follow the rest of the Room1515 blog tour here.

Love, Betrayal, and a Female Assassin—Room 1515, A New Political Thriller by Bill Wetterman.
Pour two ounces of the most powerful financier in the world. Mix in two ounces of America’s most treacherous female spy. Stir in betrayal and love. You have Room 1515!

Bill Wetterman is a freelance writer and published author. My interest in international politics and world spheres of influence helps me weave stories of intrigue and espionage in international settings. The stories I write not only could happen, but also may be happening right now. Room 1515, my international, political thriller is one.

Room1515 represents the culmination of seven years of serious writing—critique groups, workshops and conference, and award winning contests entries. Having learned the craft, I set out to challenge conventional thinking with plots and themes that are controversial and sometimes dark. Selecting my genre was easy, I’m a thriller fanatic, particularly international-psychological thrillers with political story-lines and aspects of romance and betrayal. Stories of anti-heroines pitted against the flawed love interests in their lives fascinate me. My novels deal with greed, betrayal, lust, and murder, all the things that make life interesting.

A female agent named Peacock goes on a mission to woo and win the heart of the world's most influential power broker. Her job is to learn his secrets and foil his plans. Instead, she falls in love. Room 1515 is a story of world domination, greed, betrayal, and romance.

Ever felt unsure of the financial future and the future of the country? Greed drives decisions, and greed driven decisions are always short-term. Say a shrewd group of power players is manipulating the world economy to accumulate long-term wealth. They could rule the world. Don't fear the 1% against whom crowds protest. Fear the .0001%.  You’ll never hear their names. However, they exist. One man will emerge to lead them.

Room1515 is the first thriller I have ever read that relies on character development at least as much as action / adventure. There are plenty of close calls and lots of blood in the streets, but the most interesting part of the novel is the main character, Peacock...” J.T. Biggs

An Excerpt from the book:               
Room 1515

Donna O’Connor’s shoulder hit the ground. The jolt jarred her back to consciousness. Where was she? Where was her brother? He’d been sitting next to her in the backseat of the car. Her dad was driving, and her mom was cautioning him to slow down.

“Oh my God,” she screamed. “My family’s still trapped down there.”

The smell of burning rubber filled her nostrils. She rolled up on her elbow following the sound of footsteps back down the Virginia mountain slope toward the bend of the highway. Heavy smoke rose up like a curtain blocking the view of the road below. The person who’d helped her out of the wreckage disappeared through the cloud before she could thank him.

The screeching of an oil tanker’s air brakes hurt her ears. A crushing impact blasted a storm of fire into the air. Molten dust and debris billowed toward her. She sucked in a deep breath and sprawled out, pressing herself flat against the ground. Her spine knotted at the base of her skull, as shards of debris fell like hail around her. Something heavy thudded close to her head.
An eerie silence followed.

For a few minutes time seemed to cease. Then her mind snapped back to reality, and she managed the courage to open her eyes. Rubble lay strewn over the hillside. A vehicle’s headlight had embedded itself into the rocky soil within a few feet of her head. She wasn’t dead or floating out of her body. She didn’t see the lights of heaven. Daring to push up with her hands, she inched onto her knees and stood to her feet.

Her lips quivered as she stared down at the road. She choked back bile at the sight. Black towers of fire and smoke billowed into the sky. Nothing moved. Her family, her rescuer, and the people in the other vehicles must all be dead, incinerated in the blast. Tears rolled down her cheeks. She made no attempt to wipe them away.

There wasn’t one visible scratch on her. Where was the God she’d prayed to all her life? Her dad said God worked everything for the good of those who loved Him. But everyone she cared for was gone. She heard a wail, then realized the sound came from her, a shriek that couldn’t numb her pain. (end prologue)

To contact Bill to schedule speaking engagements, Email him at bwetterman(at)cox(dot)net.  For more information about Bill, please visit his website. For more information on Room 1515 watch this video on YouTubeRoom 1515 can be purchased as an eBook or paperback on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Country, Sony, Diesel, Apple, and most online retailers.  Happy Blog Tour Day!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Welcome to the Violet Season Blog Tour!! (Isn't the banner gorgeous? I may have starred at it for ten or more minutes...) I have a very special guest post today from Kathy Leonard Czepiel, author of A Violet Season.  Sit back, relax and go on a journey with Kathy to learn more about her, her life and so much more!  Click here for more information about the blog tour.

On Mothers, Daughters, and Historical Fiction

I grew up with brothers, two younger ones who wrestled and punched and yelled, who kept smelly turtles in a box in the bedroom and tinkered on cars in the back yard. I always thought I wanted a sister, and I never got one. But when I was expecting my own babies, it was boys I expected. I just figured I knew boys, and that’s what I would get. Surprise! Today I am the mother of daughters—one 10, one 13—and that archetypal mother-daughter relationship has, not surprisingly, made its way into my fiction.

People often ask where the idea for my novel, A Violet Season, came from. The story of Ida, a loving mother with a dangerous blind spot, and Alice, her headstrong daughter, is fiction, not based on my relationship with my mother or my daughters. But there is no denying that some emotional truths that come from being a mother and a daughter seeped into the cracks of the story as I wrote it. Parenting—whether we have daughters or sons—is a most humbling experience. We make it up as we go along, and we hope we don’t mess it up too badly. In a sense, Ida’s story taps into that reality. My readers, I hope, will see that the mistakes she makes as a mother are made unwittingly, or perhaps “unthinkingly.” They are just the kinds of mistakes we all make, though their consequences are unusually serious.

Ida and Alice are not only fictional characters, they’re living in a historical fiction. Their expectations—about marriage, work, fulfillment—are different from our own. And yet, once again, there are also some core truths to their situation that mirror our own as women today. Ida and Alice and their contemporaries marry because they must, work extremely hard without control of the money they earn, have no thoughts of “personal goals” or “self-improvement.” In order to make characters from another time resonate with contemporary readers, the writer has to tap into those things that unite us with people of the past, like the universal experiences of parenthood. Another way in which I tried to help my readers understand these two women was by making the details of their daily life central to the story. We don’t spend a full day scrubbing laundry in a tub and another full day ironing it, but we all have household chores and work that sometimes wear us down. It’s not a stretch for most of us to imagine ourselves hauling pots of boiling water and stooping and standing to hang load after load of laundry on a line. The more detailed the descriptions of Ida and Alice’s everyday lives—the laundry, sewing, cleaning, and in their case picking violets and wet nursing babies—the better we can imagine ourselves in their position.

In the end, I think this is what is so appealing about historical fiction. Through it, we visit and learn about a time and place very different from our own, yet a place we can imagine being ourselves because some things never change. Women and men still fall in love, babies still nurse at the breast, mothers still worry about daughters, daughters still strain against their mothers’ grasp, and we all still make the same human mistakes and eventually, hope for forgiveness.

Kathy Leonard Czepiel is the author of A Violet Season, a historical novel set on a Hudson Valley violet farm on the eve of the twentieth century. She is the recipient of a 2012 creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and her short fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals including Cimarron Review, Indiana Review, CALYX, Confrontation, and The Pinch. Czepiel teaches in the First-Year Writing Program at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, where she lives with her husband and their two daughters. Learn more about her here, like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter at @KLCzepiel, follow her on Goodreads, or follow the blog tour here.

Kathy's novel A Violet Season can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Simon & Schuster, and the iBook store.  Happy Blog Tour Day!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Authors Not-So-Anonymous Week #27

Welcome everyone to the twenty-seventh Authors Not-So-Anonymous weekly meeting!! This weekly series is about authors from Twitter and Facebook!  This week, I would like to introduce Stephanie Lennox into Authors Not-So-Anonymous!

Stephanie Lennox lives in London, is the co-owner/creator of Writers Unite, and a young adult author.  She specializes in romance and thrillers - "I feel that an aspect of romance should be a given in any story, in some form or another. It is one of the most basic, relatable human emotions - so even when I'm trying to hook readers with the action and suspense in my novels, there is always an underlying romantic theme."  Stephanie began writing at the very young age of seven.  She studied creative writing at University and has used her skills to help others become successful.

Stephanie is constantly inspired by the underdog situations and people.  "I'm inspired by the people and the things in this world that you wouldn't usually hear about.  The people that society like to ignore because they don't fit a certain mold, or the small things in life that we all experience, but seem too insignificant to talk about.  I think that's what art is all about - seeing the beauty and the meaning in things that others might have missed."  She is a truly inspiring woman when you talk to her.  I always love hearing her perspective on something.

A perfect example of Stephanie's keen eye for something different is in her novel.  "My all time favourite novel is called, "The Raging Quiet" by Sherryl Jordan.  It's about Marnie, a courageous young woman, and Raver, a strange and spirited young man - whose only real crimes are that they are different."  She also loves novels by Haruki Murakami, Paulo Coehlo, and Tom Rob Smith.

Stephanie Lennox has written over 160 stories, poems and plays throughout her lifetime, and studied Creative Writing at Oxford University. Her debut novel, "I Don't Remember You" was long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize in 2011, promoted in publications such as the Guardian newspaper and TimeOut on numerous occasions, and won her a VFifty award for its humanitarian ideals. She also created Creative Writing courses online for the well-known SAE University, but is now working full time at Writers Unite.
"I Don't Remember You" is the story of a sporty, outgoing girl named Becca Jameson, who's life suddenly gets put on hold as she recovers from a horrific car accident. With the help of her brother Harry, her life soon clambers back onto the right track, however, after a while a peculiar girl stumbles back onto the scene, someone that Becca can't recall at all. She finally realises that a huge chunk of her life is missing from her memory, and she becomes obsessed with trying to get the many things back that she has lost.

On the other hand lies a bookish and shy teenager Jasmine Grant, who has been ripped up inside from grief in the months Becca has been away from her. Apart from her father, her cries are ignored- because what seems like a friendly neighbourhood town to most eyes, is actually a homophobic dictatorship run by none other than Becca's mother, a religious figure in the community.

The book concentrates on Jasmine's fear of society and the courage she has to gather to regain everything she's ever wanted, despite her almost crippling shyness.(end)

Her latest work-in-progress is a thriller-memoir with the working title of "Evita", which will be 80,000 words on completion in 2013 - but has already been hailed by an Oxford Professor as: "Unusually good...darn good reading!"

Connect with Stephanie Lennox on Writers-Unite or Twitter.  Have an author to nominate?  Send me a message via Twitter or leave a comment with the author(s) name and contact informaiton.  I'd love to add new members!  Happy Reading!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Indie Week!!

Welcome everyone to Indie Week!!

Indie Week is an event occuring over on my friend Rob's blog, A Life Among The Pages.  Basically from July 8-14 his blog will be dedicated to nothing but Indie authors.  There will be guest posts, giveaways, Indies We Love posts, and so much more.  For a schedule of what is going on, click here.  Spread the word about this event!  There are so many people participating in this event (some you have even seen on Novel d'Tales).  I'm so glad Rob decided to have this entire week event and I know it has been hard work but sooooo much fun for him to put it together, so go over and support his hard work and the Indies!

Seriously?  What are you waiting for?!  There is something for everyone!  Authors, bloggers, reader, book lovers... GO NOW!

Why are you still here?  Get off my blog and go to his (but come back later or I might get lonely).

Happy Indie Week!!!

Charlie: A love story - blog tour and review!

Welcome to the Charlie: A Love Story blog tour!!!!  Today's memoir is one that all animal lovers will absolutely fall in love with, your heart will melt and you will not want to read this memoir without the biggest box of tissues you can buy.  I have a review of Charlie today for you, and even writing the review I was teary-eyed.  **Some spoilers are contained in the review below, read at your own risk!**

Title: Charlie: A Love Story 
Author: Barbara Lampert
Rating: 4 stars (review under the description)
(Because one description isn't enough... here are three!)
Charlie: A Love Story tells of the beautiful love between Charlie, a Golden Retriever, and the author, Barbara Lampert. It takes place in Malibu, California. When Charlie turned eleven years old and started having some health problems, a journal Barbara was keeping about her garden quickly became mostly about Charlie.

Charlie: A Love Story is an intimate look at an incredible connection between a canine and a human. And as a psychotherapist who specializes in relationships, Barbara brings that sensibility and understanding to Charlie’s story as well.

Charlie was Barbara’s loyal confidante and best friend. He was indomitable, had a zest for life and an uncanny emotional intelligence. As Barbara says in her book:

“Charlie’s a big dog, not just physically but in every way. He has a big heart, a big smile, lots of courage, a big appetite, and a great, big, generous spirit. Charlie’s the emotional core of our family, the most solid being I have ever known, and wise beyond his years. Charlie and me. It’s a great love affair, a once-in-a-lifetime connection.”

Charlie: A Love Story is about devotion, joy, loss, and renewal, about never giving up or giving in. But mostly it’s about an extraordinary dog and an extraordinary relationship. (end)

Now on to the review...

Charlie: A Love Story is a beautiful story about a woman and her dog.  They have an extremely close relationship that resembles that of a mother and infant or *sole mates* (husband and wife).  Charlie is always with Barbara, and vice versa, they need each other to have a good day and feel truly happy.  Barbara did a wonderful job with keeping the story moving along.  It is broken down into the days of a journal, which helps break down and show you the *real* time line all of the events occurred on.  Barbara has an emotional writing style that is a breath of fresh air.  She fills her pages with raw emotion, whether it be tears, heart break, joy, happiness, passion, it is very clear that she wrote this memoir to remember her best friend forever.  I highly recommend not reading this at work or in public because you will cry at least once.  I'm not a big crier with books, but I balled for two hours with this one... and that's a good thing!

I'm giving this memoir 4 out of 5 stars because I wish there were more happy stories mixed in with the sad stories.  The overall tone of the memoir was very sad and almost beaten down.  I wanted so much to go through and fill it with even more happy puppy days memories, and funny things Charlie and Barbara did together.  Barbara did try to keep it light hearted and true to the journal by adding in the stories she remembered, and adding in things about gardening and work.  There were pictures of Barbara, Charlie, and the garden and Barbara's other two dogs in the memoir to really drive home the raw emotion.  I especially loved the photographs.  I liked this memoir, it really hit home for me too...

I almost lost my dachshund less than nine months ago to a very rare blood disease.  He's going to have this disease for the rest of his life and it can relapse at any moment (not cancer).  I cried through the book remembering the tragedy of almost loosing my little doxie, especially since he was two weeks shy of his 3rd birthday at the time.

So the morals of this story are...keep your friends close, but your pets closer.  Love your pets even when they are sick.  And always keep a box of tissues handy when reading a sad book about a cute, cuddly, furry friend.

About Barbara:
Barbara Lampert is a Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in relationships. She’s been in private practice in Brentwood, California for over twenty years. She considers her work a calling and loves what she does. She has a doctorate in medical sociology and two master’s degrees – one in psychology and one in sociology.

Barbara has adored dogs her whole life. They’re her passion! She considers them the magic on the planet. Barbara has had dogs most of her life and hopes to have at least one by her side always. She notes that for a lot of people, their dogs are their best friends. She loves helping people know that’s ok – that a soul-satisfying relationship may be found with any being and needs to be treasured.

Besides her love of dogs, Barbara is an avid gardener and finds herself gardening in much of her spare time. She sees her garden as a work of art. She loves being in nature – the miracle of growth, the ever-changing landscape, its beauty.

Today Barbara lives happily in Malibu, California with her husband David (married twenty-eight years!) and their six-year-old Golden Retriever, Harry.  Barbara hopes that Charlie: A Love Story will be a tribute not only to a magnificent dog but to all dogs everywhere.

Follow Barbara on Facebook, her website, and Goodreads.  Follow the rest of the blog tour stops here.  To purchase a copy of Charlie, go to Amazon (paperback), Amazon Kindle, on Barbara's website, Nook, or from B&N (paperback).  Now go hug your pets and tell them you love them all so much you'll never ever forget them!  Happy Blog Tour Day!!