Monday, August 31, 2015

The Top Five: Best Writing-Related Articles from August 24-28

5. "7 Reasons I Didn't Review Your Book" on The Book Wheel Blog (Allison Hiltz)

Link: http://bit.ly/1Uf4QrR

Book reviewers are really busy people. You might be amazed at how many requests we get for book reviews. While most of us accept many requests, we don't accept all off them, and this post will give you insight into why that may be, from time constraints to content conflicts.

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4. "Word Count: How Many Words In a Novel?" on The Write Practice (Joe Bunting)

Link: http://bit.ly/1Jq3jEV

Writers have different writing processes. Some write by the seat of their pants, doing no planning beforehand. Some write a basic outline and then let the story go wherever it wants to. Others outline everything in such detail that the outline is almost enough to be the novel itself. Here's another alternative, courtesy of The Write Practice, an excellent writing resource for writers of all kinds. What if you planned your novel or project according to its target word count? Do you know what that is for your genre? Find out here!

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3. "I Smell Your Rookie Movies, New Writers" on terribleminds (Chuck Wendig)

Link: http://bit.ly/1U6Mg56

I can never give Wendig enough kudos for the incredible work he does, not only in his own writing but also in maintaining a blog that is jam-packed with spectacular resources and tremendous wisdom for writers of all kinds. In this post, he addresses some of his pet peeves among new writers, including everything from punctuation errors (comma goes inside the quotation mark) to character differentiation. Don't be offended by his liberal use of profanity and obscure metaphors. His guidance is absolutely worth it!

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2. "Want to Be a Writer? It's Time to Act Like a Writer" on The Writer's Dig at Writer's Digest (Noelle Sterne, guest blogger)

Link: http://bit.ly/1N2Vxqw

It's easy to talk about being a writer, or wanting to be a writer, or thinking about writing a book. Talk is cheap, though. What can you do to take action and actually make yourself a writer? (Hint: It starts with writing. Always. Every day.) This insightful post will make you rethink your devotion to writing, and whether you're as committed to it as you should be.

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1. "The Process Monkey Asks: What Is Your Writing Process?" on terribleminds (Chuck Wendig)

Link: http://bit.ly/1JfijW1

Some weeks, an expert figure in the industry is so prolific with top writing tips that I have to cite them both (or all) in this roundup post. Wendig has outdone himself this week. Check out this post, an explanation of his everyday writing process, and then join in the comments at the conclusion. What is your writing process? Does it work for you? If not, what can you change to make your writing process as beneficial and productive as it can be?

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What do you love about your writing process? What isn't ideal about it? What can you do to act more like the writer you want to be? And, for that matter, what kind of writer do you want to be? How will you know (tangibly) when you've achieved that place? How many of the "rookie moves" in Wendig's post (see #3 above) are you guilty of?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Viewpoint: Static vs Dynamic Characters and Twilight

Confession: I'm really, really behind the times when it comes to some trends.

Like, for instance, the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer.

I haven't actually read the books. (There's a disclaimer for you.) It's possible, therefore, that everything in this post will be rendered not applicable because I only have the movies to critique, so just be prepared for that.

That said, I first saw the movies in a two-day marathon earlier this month. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. Some people absolutely adore the Twilight saga, the books, the movies, the characters, the town of Forks, and everything affiliated. Some people can't stand any of the above, for a number of reasons.

Here's what I discovered ...

Characters in Fiction

Fictional characters can be classified in many different and equally valid ways.

You might have the protagonist, the antagonist, the mentor, and the foil. Or the hero, the love interest, the sidekick, and the villain.

You might classify characters according to genre requirements: human beings, paranormal characters, supernatural characters, fairy tale creatures, or aliens.

You might decide to sort the characters according to personality type in your novel or short story. Perhaps there's a choleric and a sanguine, not getting along. Or an ISTP and an ENFP (see the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) trapped in an elevator or on a boat or on an island or in a penthouse suite.

One of the most important ways, however, to categorize your characters gives you two options. Your character can be dynamic or static.

Dynamic Characters

Dynamic characters are those who change, grow, and evolve throughout a story, novel, or series. These characters tend to be the protagonists, the main characters, the ones we want to read about because things happen to them and they change as a result.

Think Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens' A Christmas Carol. In the beginning of the story, Scrooge is a greedy, clutching, irascible, unreasonable, demanding, impatient, unkind old miser. Frankly, by the end of the novel, if he were still all of that, we'd probably have slammed the book closed long since.

But in the end of the story, because of what he's shown in his interactions with the ghosts of his past, present, and future, he's a changed man: generous, thoughtful, loving, contented. And the result is a wholly satisfying story.

Or what about Elizabeth Swann (no relation to Bella in the Twilight series) in the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy movies? She starts out as a well-to-do, relatively well-behaved, sheltered, courteous, conscientious young lady of society in the first movie, and by the third movie, she's been transformed by all her experiences into the King of the Brethren Court by the Pirate Lords, a swashbuckling buccaneer in her own right.

That's a dynamic character.

Static Characters

Static characters, on the other hand, are just the opposite: those who don't change, grow, or evolve as the story progresses. Their characteristics at the beginning of the story are basically the same characteristics they possess at the end.

Often, supporting (secondary) characters are static: the ones with whom the protagonist interacts on his or her dynamic journey, but who don't necessarily change, themselves. That isn't always the case, though. An excellent example of a static character is the protagonist Sherlock Holmes, whose mental prowess, wit, ingenuity, habits, and interests remain essentially unchanged throughout all of his adventures.

Static characters are less interesting to read about. If we wanted to read about people who stay the same, stuck in the same routines and patterns, doing the same things, and never maturing or evolving or learning, we wouldn't read fiction. We couldn't even read most nonfiction.

The best stories are about things that happen to characters and who the characters become as a result.

Which brings me back around to Twilight.

Bella Swan, Protagonist

I have to call Bella Swan the protagonist in the Twilight saga. She's the character around whom everything else centers, the one everyone is usually fighting to protect and/or rescue, the one with whom others (Edward and Jacob) fall in love, the catalyst of many of the plot points that take place throughout the novels.

But here's my contention. I suggest that she's not a dynamic character. She's a static character.

Which is probably precisely why I was so bored throughout my self-imposed movie marathon.

Consider. Bella never seems to evolve emotionally or psychologically. She doesn't get stronger or more capable. She starts out as kind of a colorless, dull, listless high school student with no friends, no hobbies, and no interests ... and she ends the series the same way (except that she's less colorless, thanks to having been turned into a vampire).

Things happen to Bella. She doesn't make things happen. She doesn't work to change things. She has no life goal or motivation or agenda apart from sleeping with and marrying Edward and being changed into a vampire ... all of which leave her wholly dependent on someone else's participation (Edward's, mostly) to make happen.

She doesn't invite change. She doesn't really learn or mature as the series goes on. Even having been transformed into a vampire in the last, she's still the one everyone works to protect, and she still has no interests of her own.

The words that come to mind to describe her are flat, two-dimensional, and, to put not to fine a point on it, boring.

Who wants to cheer for a character who is completely uninteresting and never gets any more interesting as time passes?

Give me a protagonist, a heroine, with panache, with drive, with something for which to live. I'd even rather have a character who starts out moral and ethical and then devolves into something hideously evil at the end --- still a dynamic process! --- than a lukewarm one who stays the same.

How about you?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Book Review: "Meatless All Day" (Dina Cheney)

Many people today are on a diet of one kind or another. Atkins, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, low-fat ... 

In fact, if you're not on a diet of some kind, you might be the anomaly.

Here's a question for you. What do you know about eating meatless meals? Aside from the health benefits offered by a vegetarian or meatless diet, going meatless for one or more meals a week might even save you money.

Where to find out more information? Check out Meatless All Day by Dina Cheney.




This beautifully rendered and illustrated (with color photographs so realistic you'll want to reach right into the picture and pluck out the produce or finished product to taste yourself!) cookbook is also a comprehensive guide on eating more meatless meals.

In addition to mouthwatering recipes for every meal from breakfast to dinner (supper) and in between, you'll find expert wisdom, tips, recommendations, and resources, as well as encouraging and easy-to-follow directives on cooking basics like how to scramble eggs, what roasting actually means, and how to play with meat-like flavors and textures in your otherwise meatless offerings.

And let me be the first to reassure you that going meatless for a meal or two, or more, each week doesn't mean starvation. Far from it, in fact. For breakfast, pick from egg dishes packed with vegetables, sweet or savory pancakes, scones, and more. For lunch, think salads with delicious combinations of unexpected ingredients, while dinner could be anything from pasta to meatless meatloaf (yes, it's possible!).

If you'd like to try your hand at the meatless diet, whether full-time or just once or twice a week, pick up a copy of Meatless All Day for user-friendly recipes and an author whose voice of experience will set you immediately at ease.


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Author: Dina Cheney
Title: Meatless All Day: Recipes for Inspired Vegetarian Meals
ISBN: 978-1-62113-776-4
Purchase here: http://amzn.to/1fj9fH3

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Book Review: "Fine Cooking Thanksgiving Cookbook" (Editors of Fine Cooking)

Maybe you look forward to Thanksgiving with dread. Perhaps you'd rather suffer dental surgery than take to the kitchen to prepare an extensive, complicated holiday meal. Maybe you do everything possible to ingratiate yourself with family or friends so you can be the guest and not the host or hostess ... not responsible for all those time-consuming preparations.

Or maybe you love the holidays and start counting down to Thanksgiving and Christmas with the Christmas-in-July sales events. You're the one who opens the doors of your home and your kitchen to a dozen or more guests with whom you're thrilled to share the flavorful, hard-won fruits of your labors. You spend all year collecting new recipes to use and squirreling away appropriate decorations to whip out the moment Halloween is over.

Good news: I have a Thanksgiving cookbook (though recipes can apply to any time of the year and any holiday) that addresses both of you.




The editors of Fine Cooking present the Fine Cooking Thanksgiving Cookbook, your one-stop save for new recipe ideas, step-by-step how-to instructions, innumerable tips, and wisdom for what to do if something should go wrong.

Consider it the only cookbook you'll ever need for all the Thanksgiving basics, from how big a turkey you'll need to what to do with the giblets (yes, you'll learn what those are, too, if you're unfamiliar). Thanksgiving will never be so simple.

Follow the carefully crafted directions, so detailed and approachable and so chock full of things to remember and watch for that even a beginning cook will be able to tackle any of the recipes, to create any of the included recipes (and there are dozens from which to choose). You'll be making much more than just the turkey: there are chapters of appetizers, salads and soups, vegetables, pies and tarts, and desserts, all seasonally appropriate and beautifully illustrated with sleek colorful photographs that beg to be eaten right off the page.

One of the most helpful parts of the entire book, in fact, is all of the basic techniques you'll use to create the perfect Thanksgiving dinner, and which you can continue to use in many more meal-making endeavors to come. How do you make pan gravy? How do you tell if the turkey is done without drying out the white meat? What do you do if you have extra stuffing that won't fit inside the bird? What's the quickest way to thaw a frozen turkey before baking? All of these questions, and more, will be answered for you.

The best part about the cookbook is that you'll never feel lectured or "talked down to." The tone is friendly and conversational, just as though you were cooking alongside an expert friend who knows how to handle every aspect of the holiday dinner at hand, and you'll feel at ease immediately.

If you're looking for an all-inclusive guide to that iconic holiday meal, the editors of Fine Cooking have your number. Get yourself a copy, stat!


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Author: Editors of Fine Cooking
Title: Fine Cooking Thanksgiving Cookbook
ISBN: 978-1-60085-827-7
Purchase here: http://amzn.to/1hwlIJ4

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Book Review: "Blood and Metal" (Nina Croft)

Fergal Cain is half human and half cyborg after a stint at the hands of a scientist whom he now has to find, before he (Fergal) succumbs to the poison running through his veins. His six months to acclimate to the treatment Stefan gave him before disappearing is almost up, and if he doesn't find Stefan first, he'll be dead ... exactly the thing he's been fighting against his entire life.

Now, he's been taken prisoner by the only people who might be able to help him find Stefan. And those same people are on a mission to destroy the one place where Fergal's intel has told him Stefan may be.

Daisy was once a genetically modified human, part plant. These days, she's a newborn vampire, and fighting a constant, sometimes losing, battle against her newly acquired blood lust. She and her colleagues-slash-friends, a motley collection of other vampires and equally bizarre, partly human creatures, are dead-set on destroying the villains who killed their friends.

Picking up Fergal along the way wasn't really part of the plan, but now that he's around, Daisy has trouble concentrating on doing her job. They were once lovers, after all, and he's still just as appetizing --- in more than one way, now --- as he used to be. But he has secrets of his own, and with their ultimate desires at odds, will they manage to reconcile?



Entangled Publishing's Select Otherworld imprint presents the newly released romance novel Blood and Metal by Nina Croft.

Where to begin? I'll start by saying that my expectations of a story that incorporates elements of science fiction, space travel, the paranormal, adventure, and romance weren't particularly high to begin with, since I had no idea what to expect.

I'm delighted to report, however, that my expectations were exceeded by an astronomically high percentage I'm not sure I could fully quantify for you. Croft's work is surprisingly seamless, organically rendered, and strikingly believable within the "otherworld" she's so cleverly devised on the page. Compelling, carefully crafted, and shockingly unique (because there's no other word for the one-of-a-kind genre amalgamation), Blood and Metal will entertain readers of many different romantic sub-genres.

Ultimately, of course, the work is a romance at its core, between the unlikeliest of characters. Fergal is half human, half computer, for heaven's sake, and Daisy is a plant human turned vampire. Their interactions are equal parts smoking hot, biting, satiric, witty, sweet, and tender, promising a fascinating read apart from the fantastical world in which their story is set.

Who else but an expert author could dream up a relationship in which the hero does everything he can to cheat death and the heroine already has ... and the two are polar opposites, quite literally, from one another? Croft makes a tremendous promise to any readers who pick up and scan the back cover copy of Blood and Metal, that she'll be able to assimilate all these seemingly disparate components into a working whole.

And with all the aplomb of the talented, experienced author that she is, she keeps her part of the bargain with flying colors. All that's left is for you, the readers, to devour and enjoy.

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Author: Nina Croft
Title: Blood and Metal
Publisher: Entangled Publishing (Select Otherworld)
ISBN: 978-1-62266-122-0
Purchase here: http://amzn.to/1PgpC3s

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Book Review: "Fairly Certain" (Deborah Ann Davis)

Petir Capota is a computer geek, rooming with two childhood friends off the campus of the University of Connecticut, where they attend, and facing the usual concerns of a young college student: money, homework, classes, money, hobbies, part-time work, and money.

Everything about his life, in fact, is perfectly normal ... until he falls out of a tree while on a solo geocaching mission, hits his head, and wakes up surrounded by a band of British-sounding outlaws wielding staffs and archery equipment. The group is led by a young woman named Maid Rianne, whose talent with bow and arrows appears to be legendary.

Before long, due to an injury in his leg, Petir finds himself spirited away into the wilds of a forest inhabited by a whole host of outlaws, all in rebellion against Prince John, who fights to win the throne from the absent King Richard. He learns how the forest people live, how to defend himself, and more, and finds himself increasingly attracted to Maid Rianne, despite her flustered rebuffs.

Some kind of dream. How hard, exactly, did he hit his head? And how long does he have in the dream world to win Maid Rianne's hand before he wakes up back in reality?



Author Deborah Ann Davis presents the first novel in her "Love of Fairs" series, Fairly Certain, which manages to simultaneously span the divide between two different genres: Young Adult (YA) and New Adult (NA).

Part coming-of-age, part romance, part time-travel adventure, Davis's story is a modern-day rendering of the story of Robin Hood, the outlaw from Sherwood Forest. Davis's outlaw is the beautiful young woman and talented archer, Maid Rianne, whose band of merry men turns out to be a motley collection of teenagers. Many of the other characters from the traditional Robin Hood tales are similarly accounted for, though often in different guises than might be expected.

With protagonists Petir and Maid Rianne in their late teens, respectively, the story does, indeed, straddle the line between YA fiction and NA fiction, a result of Davis's admirable skill in its writing. It turns out that teen rebellion and learning opportunities are just as applicable in Sherwood Forest as they are in contemporary Connecticut.

Rarely do I read a novel in any genre that makes me laugh out loud by myself. (Try it sometime, in fact, in a public place: take a book along and, at random, break out into laughter, with nothing in evidence to have brought on such hilarity other than the book you're reading. I dare you. Reactions will be priceless.) Fairly Certain, though, is written with such droll, unexpected, witty, tongue-in-cheek humor that I couldn't help but delight in the funny dialogue and entertaining inner monologues throughout.

For a tremendously amusing, lighthearted, and well-written story, I encourage you very highly to seek out a copy of Davis's work. You'll be kept guessing all the way through!

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Author: Deborah Ann Davis
Title: Fairly Certain
Series: Love of Fairs Series (#1)
ISBN: 978-1-94200-901-6
Purchase here: http://amzn.to/1NbQvYF


Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the author in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Top Five: Best Writing-Related Articles from August 17-21

5. "Using Beta Readers to Help You Write Your Best Novel" on Live Write Thrive (C.S. Lakin)

Link: http://bit.ly/1HSmqFw

Writing industry terminology stays pretty consistent from one recommendation and piece of advice to the next, but beta readers aren't always the most commonly employed tools in the writer's toolbox. This post contends, though, that perhaps, they should be. Find out why!



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4. "New Story Ideas Distracting You From Your Book? Find Out What You Should Do" on Helping Writers Become Authors (K.M. Weiland)

Link: http://bit.ly/1JbG5Bf

You're in the middle of writing your novel ... and something catches your attention, makes you start thinking about a whole other set of characters or plot line. Now you have an ongoing project and a story idea, or two, or three, or more. What should you do? Abandon the current project in favor of the one that is currently weighing on your mind? If not, how do you remember the idea you had so that when your current project is done, you can get back to it and still find that inspiration spark? This excellent article has the answers.



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3. "How to Jump-Start a Stuck Project" on Michael Hyatt

Link: http://bit.ly/1I3K3Lx

Ever been unable to make headway on a project you know needs to get done? The story idea has been percolating long enough; you just have to put words on a page. Or you're contracted to produce content for a website or blog, and you just can't quite get started. If that's you, you're not the only one in that position. Read this article from an industry expert to find out how to combat that slump.



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2. "Seven Top Tips That Writing Tutors Will Never Tell You" on Writers' Village (John Yeoman)

Link: http://bit.ly/1E9xm6V

If you knew you could spend twenty minutes learning everything that writing coaches and tutors know but rarely share, you'd jump at the chance without hesitation. Well, here's your chance, because this post is packed with insight and insider secrets on subjects from managing expectations to examining your motivation to writing your novel ... out of order?



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1. "Broken, Not Bitter. An Author's Life with Repetitive Strain Injuries" on The Creative Penn (Joanna Penn)

Link: http://bit.ly/1U1Vbzo

I knew I couldn't be the only one whose devotion to writing as both profession and passion has resulted in my accruing a number of physical ailments associated with strain, repetitive motion, and a lifestyle far more sedentary than is ideal. Good news: I'm not the only one. Here's a brutally honest, eye-opening post from a writer equally afflicted, with her recommendations for how to compensate for your limitations. Anyone else with us?



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There's the lineup for last week, with more fiction resources than I've cited for a while. Time to change things up a little!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Networking: #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter

The hashtag #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter has been active on Twitter for the last couple of weeks, as writers, agents, editors, bloggers, freelancers, poets, and others in the industry chime in with their contributions.

Here are mine.

10. Writing isn't a real job.

9. Did you go to school for that?

8. Are you done [writing whatever you're working on] yet?

7. Writing isn't that hard. I could do it, if I had time.

6. Will you read my _______________ (short story, poem, novella, novel, nonfiction book, screenplay) and tell me what you think?

5. I had a great idea for a story, but I don't have time to write it. If I give you the idea, will you write the story and credit me?

4. Why would you decide to make a career out of your high school English class?

3. Are you published yet?

2. Since you're home all day anyway, would you mind ______________ (picking up my mail, watering my flowers, walking my dog, etc.) ...?

1. Have I read anything you've written?

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Can anybody else relate? What things drive you nuts to hear about your writing? What witty comebacks have you devised to help you survive such interactions?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Book Review: "Kaleidoscope of Hopes" (Devika Fernando)

Those who say hope keeps someone moving forward haven't lived in Nadia's shoes. She's out the family fortune, courtesy of her prodigal younger brother, and living paycheck to paycheck in a cramped apartment building, working a dead-end job at an advertising agency that is going downhill at a rapid clip.

Hope seems overrated, especially when Nadia has an unexpected run-in with the new family from the building next door, and then discovers, to her chagrin, that the cold, almost surly father figure is also her new employer, and bent on streamlining the company such that her job might become expendable.

When his little daughter attaches herself to Nadia, the girl's father makes Nadia a business proposition to act as a nanny. Little do either of them realize, though, that constant close proximity changes things, and that hope has a funny way of niggling back to life again.



Romance author Devika Fernando presents her contemporary romance Kaleidoscope of Hopes, a "Second Chance Workplace Romance" novel.

The work is beautifully written, in something of an older style that hearkens back to the age of Anne Shirley of Green Gables, or Emily Starr of New Moon. The style, with its careful diction, proves charming on the page, just right for the sweet contemporary romance taking place.

And a sweet romance, it is. You won't find heated erotic content here --- at least, not of the literal variety. Plenty about the character interactions is erotic, to be sure, but in a more subtle, less in-your-face way than is offered by many modern romance authors. The restraint and delicacy are truly refreshing and border on tenderness, making the physical attraction do double-duty very organically with an added emotional intimacy.

Nadia is the focal character of the work, and her devotion to her simple lifestyle, her dedication to her work, and her passion for her heritage make her a wonderfully complex heroine, someone really worth believing in and cheering for, especially in the face of so many challenges, heartbreaks, and difficulties.

But who among us cannot point to past devastation as catalyst for our current strengths?

It was absolutely a pleasure to read and review this work, and I can't recommend Fernando and her other titles highly enough.

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Author: Devika Fernando
Title: Kaleidoscope of Hopes
ASIN: B00P0BL7K6
Purchase here: http://amzn.to/1JlaQtQ

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the author in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cover Blitz: "Delicious Complication" (Sabrina Sol)

It's my pleasure to be a part of the cover reveal for Delicious Complication, the second book in romance author Sabrina Sol's "Delicious Desires" series. (Read my review of the first, excellent book in the series, Delicious Temptation, here.)

Here's what you get out of this deal today:

> See the hot flash-inducing cover below,
> Read the back cover copy,
> Enjoy an exclusive excerpt from the novel,
> Pre-order Delicious Temptation, AND
> Enter a raffle for a giveaway!

Sounds like a spectacular deal to me. (Thanks to Sabrina for her excellent writing and for providing all these marvelous goodies!)


So, without further ado, please scroll on for all your exclusives!



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Author: Sabrina Sol

Title: Delicious Complication


Tagline: Temptation is a dish best served hot ...

Series: Delicious Desires (#2)

Back Cover Blurb:
Event planner Daisy Robles can't remember a time when celebrity restaurateur --- and celebrated playboy --- Brandon Montoya didn't make her nuts. His infuriating arrogance, his hotness ... his undeniable sexual energy. One night and a whole lot of expensive tequila later, Daisy's self-control is AWOL. And Brandon's making her crazy in all the right ways.

When their tequila-fueled make-out session hits the tabloids, Brandon is furious. At least until he realizes his "relationship" with Daisy is his chance to get his ill mother to Los Angeles for treatment. All he has to do is convince Daisy to be his pretend fiancee for two weeks. ... 

The deal? No sex and no falling in love. But all it takes is a little heat to find themselves in a deliciously compromising position ...


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Excerpt:

Brandon laughed even harder. So hard that she could see tears in his eyes. As much as she liked seeing his mood lift, she hated to be the source of his amusement. Familiar pricks of annoyance stabbed at the back of her neck. "I don't see what's so funny."

"It's just ... you try to act like you're this tough, independent woman, and it turns out you're not so tough after all. It's ... satisfying."

Her irritation shot up to threat level orange. "Whatever. You're not perfect either."

"I never said I was."

Daisy slapped a hand on the bar. "Are you kidding me? Your whole life is about projecting perfection. Your hair, this suit, your car ... the women you date. I'd be careful if I were you, Brandon. If you date any more Barbies, the tabloids are going to start calling you Ken. And we all know what poor Ken was missing."

She lowered her eyes to his crotch and Brandon followed them. Then his head snapped back up and his laser stare went straight to her lips. "Trust me. The Barbies have no complaints. But if you don't believe me, I'm happy to prove it to you, since I know you've been wondering."

Invisible flames rushed up her face, burning her with both embarrassment and lust. She knew it had been a bad idea to drink with Brandon. She'd become too loose, too comfortable. And --- before they started talking about his mom --- she had started to become a little turned on. Damn alcohol.

Still, there was no way in hell she would ever admit he'd come close to the truth. He'd make fun of her again. Or worse, he'd sleep with her and then in the morning do whatever he could to make the situation go awry.

Daisy had been tossed aside by enough people in her life. She wasn't about to add a celebrity restaurant owner to the list. "Sorry, buddy. But there's not enough tequila in this world."

She watched his jaw muscle tense and knew she'd hit a nerve. Then his expression relaxed. "Suit yourself," he said with a shrug before finally downing his shot. "Anyway, we both know you're not my type. I like my women a little less bossy."

Angry, mortified, and tipsy, Daisy jumped off the stool and bent to pick up her shoes. She tried to think of one last snarky comeback to toss at him before storming out of the bar. But when she stood back up, she couldn't even form the words. It wasn't her temper that left her speechless --- it was the sight, just beyond Brandon's shoulder, of her ex and that bruja Ginger snuggling in a corner booth.

Brandon noticed her still standing there and waved his hand. "Hello? I thought you were leaving?"

Daisy dropped her shoes and quickly slid her stool out of the way so she could reach to pull his hand down. That's when Luis caught her eye and waved. "Great. Just great," she muttered. "Now he knows I'm here."

"Who knows?" Brandon moved as if to turn his head to see who Daisy was staring at.

"No. Don't look."

But it was too late. Brandon looked and then Luis awkwardly waved at him, too. He whispered something in Ginger's ear and she nodded. Daisy watched as her ex called the waitress over. Her stomach sank. They were going to come over for a chat. She knew it. It had been awful enough to have to fake a smile every time she ran into them during the reception. But now, with a few tequila shots in her, Daisy doubted she could playact one more time. She was fired up from the last rumble with Brandon, in more ways than one. There was no telling what she'd do if that witch waved her gaudy ring in front of her again. It would be bad for her to make a scene, or worse, get thrown out for making a scene. How could she hope to plan another wedding at the hotel if the owners had a restraining order against her?

She needed a buffer. Something or someone to make sure that she didn't make a complete ass of herself.

That's when the most ridiculous idea propped into Daisy's head. So ridiculous she had to cover her mouth to stifle the giggle threatening to erupt. The man was dealing with the news that his mom had cancer. He'd probably never go for it. But as she watched Luis pay his tab, her ridiculous idea started sounding better and better.

"Kiss me," she blurted to Brandon as Luis and Ginger stood up from their table.

Brandon choked on the drink he'd just taken. "Excuse me?"

"Look, I hate being that girl but, screw it, I am. So kiss me."

"You just said there wasn't enough tequila in the world."

"Yeah, well. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Kiss my lips. Now."

"Desperate? Forget it. You're crazy if you think I'm going to kiss you after you just insulted me."

"Oh my God. Would you do something useful with that tongue of yours for once and kiss ---"

Brandon pulled her toward him and kissed her --- hard --- and his mouth swallowed up the rest of her sentence. At first, she was too shocked to kiss him back. Her eyes had been focused on Luis and Ginger walking toward them. But as Brandon's warm tongue pressed forward, seeking entry, she no longer saw anything or anyone. She opened to him and he released a low groan that weakened her knees. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and he pulled her further into his chest. Her heart thumped madly as the rest of her body hummed with desire.

Holy hell. She wanted Brandon. Bad.

The sound of someone clearing his throat jerked her back into consciousness and she pulled her tongue out of Brandon's mouth. Their eyes met briefly and the desire reflected in his gaze sent another blast of heat through her. She turned away so as not to melt into his arms one more time, and faced an uncomfortable-looking Luis and an open-mouthed Ginger.

"Oh, hey guys. Are you heading home now?" She tried to sound nonchalant despite the fact that Brandon had pulled her backward until she stood between his legs and hooked one of his arms around her waist.

"Yeah. We decided to have one last nightcap," Luis said. He smiled at her but his eyes fell on Brandon.

The two couples stood there in silence for a few seconds before Luis reached out his hand to Brandon. "I don't think we've met. I'm Luis Arroyo and this is my fiancee Ginger Soto."

Brandon uncurled his arm from Daisy and shook Luis's hand. "Good to meet you. I'm Brandon Montoya, Daisy's boyfriend."


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Enter the raffle here! 

Pre-order here: http://amzn.to/1K35fHk

About the Author:
Sabrina Sol is the chica who loves love. She writes steamy romance stories featuring smart and sexy Latinas in search of their Happily Ever Afters. She lives in Southern California with her husband, three kids, two Beagles and one Bulldog, and is part of a larger, extended Mexican family whose members are NOT the source of inspiration for her characters. Or so she tells them.




Connect with Sabrina:

Author Website: www.sabrinasol.com

Author Twitter: @theromancechica

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheRomanceChica

Author Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6591301.Sabrina_Sol

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Book Review: "Tamed By the Outlaw" (Michelle Sharp)

Jessie Jameson is known as the outlaw in the romance industry, renowned for writing smoking love stories filled with fan-yourself-they're-so-hot love scenes. Her real-world inspiration is none other than publishing executive Grayson Reynolds, who oversees the company where her books are published ... and who walked out on her a year ago after a one night stand together. 

Finally in charge of the family publishing company, Grayson has one thing foremost on his agenda: selling the romance division to a competitor. He's determined to publish serious, literary fiction, and outlaw author "Jessie James," with her too-desirable beauty and fantasy-land romances, doesn't fit anymore.

Her contract, though, presents a problem, and as he tries to ingratiate himself with Jessie, despite his anger with her for having walked out on him a year ago after their spectacular one-night stand, he realizes that the outlaw, too, will be a problem. She's not going to let him have the last word in this showdown.



Entangled Publishing's Lovestruck imprint presents the contemporary romance and a "What Happens in Vegas Story," Tamed by the Outlaw, by Michelle Sharp.

The bottom line in this novel is the sexual tension and subsequent fulfillment: refreshing, pleasantly bothersome, compelling, scintillating, with the kind of monumental buildup that both promises and demands a tremendous climax (pun intended). Sharp delivers and even exceeds expectations throughout.

The other part of what makes this novel so entertaining is the characters. Jessie and Grayson are, of course, proverbial opposites: Jessie once went skydiving, while Grayson, the businessman, wouldn't be caught dead doing something so outrageous. Their banter is more than half the fun, both furthering the story and revealing the snarky and sarcastic sides of their respective characters at once.

Equally intriguing is Lila Kent, Jessie's literary agent, who may be part pit bull for all her ferocity and Bronx-born attitude. It's uncommon to find such a well-developed secondary character as both a major part of the plot and a highly entertaining one, to boot, but Lila is just as well-rounded and likable as the dual protagonists.

What happens in Vegas ... rarely stays in Vegas. Perhaps that's never more true than in Tamed By the Outlaw. After all, there's not a city on earth that can contain the kind of passion Grayson and Jessie share, whether they know it or not!

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Author: Michelle Sharp
Title: Tamed By the Outlaw
Publisher: Entangled Publishing (Lovestruck)
ISBN: 978-1-63375-378-5
Purchase here: http://amzn.to/1Nc1ocW

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Book Review: "Driving Her Crazy" (Kira Archer)

Cherice Debusshere has exactly one last chance to get something right, in her well-to-do family's eyes. She's long been the black sheep, and she's about to become a sacrificial lamb if she doesn't make her flight to New York in time for her sister's wedding. Then, when her flight is unexpectedly grounded because of inclement weather, she faces the hideous and horrifying prospect of driving all the way to her destination from North Carolina.

She. Hates. Driving.

Nathaniel "Oz" Oserkowski is a down-to-earth, perpetually optimistic, regular blue-collar guy, working three different jobs from newspaper delivery to auto mechanics to help provide for his family. He's on his way to New York for a job interview, basically his last chance to do what he's always wanted to do with his life, when his plane, too, is grounded. He snatches up the last rental car and is faced with the spoiled, rich-looking debutante as his unwilling passenger.

It's a long way from North Carolina to New York. Surely they can keep from killing one another --- or ripping each other's clothes off --- for the duration of the drive together. Right?



Entangled Publishing's Lovestruck imprint presents the newly released contemporary romance Driving Her Crazy, a "Crazy Love Story" by Kira Archer.

It's said that close proximity is half the battle in consummating a relationship (sexual or otherwise). After all, consistent exposure to another person, day after day, or hour after hour, and especially under stressful circumstances with emotions already running high, is really the perfect incubator for romantic, sexual, and emotional tension.

With Cherice and Oz trapped in a car for the drive to New York, you'll certainly be obliged to agree. At first, the sparks flying between them are well-placed insults and similarly barbed comments. To him, she's the spoiled rotten rich girl who never had to work a day in her life and wouldn't know what to do if she had to hold down a job. To her, he's a disrespectful, irreverent jerk determined to drive her crazy.

Hence the title of the novel.

Later, in true romance form, the verbal sparring is joined (not replaced, which maintains the interest and tension all the better) by a more than healthy dose of sexual attraction, which increases with every heated exchange between the characters until the final, scintillating conclusion.

While I enjoy sexual tension in a romance just as much as the next reader, I'm a sucker for three-dimensional characters who command a fierce repartee. The one-liners exchanged in Driving Her Crazy will leave you holding a hand over your mouth in delighted shock, or holding your sides with aching laughter, or both ... the best kind of romance novel.

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Author: Kira Archer
Title: Driving Her Crazy
Publisher: Entangled Publishing (Lovestruck)
ISBN: 978-1-63375-376-1
Purchase here: http://amzn.to/1NzE9Xq

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Top Five: Best Writing-Related Articles from August 10-14

5. "5 Ways a Side Hustle Can Advance Your Career" on Levo.com (Elana Gross)

Link: http://bit.ly/1P6imaP

Are there reasons to look for a part-time job or a few extra hours on a freelance basis beyond needing more income? According to this thought-provoking post, the answer is yes, with cited rationals from increased creativity to an even broader network than you might normally engage. Why else would a side hustle be good for you, professionally?

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4. "The State of Freelance Writing: Data on Pay, Bylines, & Quality Content [Infographic]" on Hubspot Blogs (Lindsay Kolowich)

Link: http://bit.ly/1J14CPz

How much do you know about freelancing as a career? What's the average take-home pay for a freelancer? How many freelancers work more than one job? What are the statistics to note about freelancers and Google Authorship? How many freelancers have a blog, and how often do they post? Check out this insightful infographic for all of that information and more, and see how you compare.

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3. "How to Monetize Your Blog and Why Most Fail?" on Blog Tips 'n' Tricks (Chandeep J)

Link: http://bit.ly/1fiBeXo

What does it take to bring in an income with your blog? What methods are the easiest and most useful for accruing an appreciable income? And why are there so few successful monetized blogs? Find out all these answers, and more, in this post, packed with helpful tips and guidance.

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2. "How Much Should Freelance Writers Charge - 6 Tips" on Nikki Woods Media

Link: http://bit.ly/1hgn2jq

Ask around among your freelancing colleagues and friends, and you'll hear dozens of different numbers and methods for what and how to charge for freelancing services. All of those answers, though, may not provide enough direction for you to make your own decisions. This article is a detailed survey of steps you can take, starting immediately, to figure out what to charge your cilents.

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1. "5 Steps to Starting a New Freelance Writing Business" on Horkey Handbook (Gina Horkey)

Link: http://bit.ly/1PtmguL

Finally, an expert weighs in on what precise steps you can take to start a freelance business in the writing industry. Here, you'll find insightful wisdom, links to other excellent resources, and the kind of kindred-spirit encouragement that so many in the freelancing professions seem to naturally exude. 

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BONUS: "Stop Looking at Your Fucking Phone" on terribleminds.com (Chuck Wendig)

Link: http://bit.ly/1fiBWnj

Once more, Chuck Wendig outdoes himself with a post that is half irreverent tirade (true to form) and half hardcore treatise on the dangers of letting our phones, or any other technology, run our lives. How many hours spent staring at a phone could be better spent writing, imagining, creating, or otherwise furthering your career and work? (And check out my further thoughts on Wendig's post here.)

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Freelancing is a more up-and-coming topic of conversation all the time. What about freelancing do you enjoy? If you don't freelance, have you ever considered it? What about freelancing is a challenge? What resources can you share that you've found particularly helpful?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Networking: Digital Quicksand

WARNING: Post contains occasional graphic language via quoted material that not suitable for children or those offended thereby.

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Digital quicksand
.

Isn't that a fantastic visual?

Unfortunately, it's not mine. It belongs to Chuck Wendig, brilliant blogger and author extraordinaire, from a post that he published this week on his terribleminds blog. That post got me thinking, and I have to admit that I wasn't very happy with the thoughts pouring through my mind.


I can't think of a more effective way to say exactly that.

Let's unpack the sentiment a bit, here.

# # #

I'll start with a poll. How many of you own a smart phone of some kind?

Be honest. I'm not lining up to shoot anybody over the responses. I've got one, myself.

Okay, now, how many of you also have access to a computer, either laptop or desktop? How about an iPad or other tablet? An e-reader? A television? An mp3 player?

Me too.

If you were to take a guess as to how many hours a day you spend on all of those devices combined, what would you say?

An hour? Less?

Two hours? More than that? Three? Four? Six? Eight? Twelve?

It's okay, don't be shy. So far this week, I've logged thirty-five hours on my computer, e-reader, and smart phone alone, and I suspect that estimate is conservative. (To find out where you rate, check out the RescueTime app, which you can sync to all of your devices so it tracks all of your usage.)

What am I really doing, though, when I'm online? Six or seven hours a day, on average, spent staring at a screen ... many, many of them a smart phone screen ... and what have I accomplished?

# # #

Phones, in particular, are time-sucking devices. That phrase from Wendig's post, digital quicksand, is so applicable in this instance that someone should have thought of it before.

Until May this year, I had a flip phone, also known as a stupid phone among some of my acquaintances. The only things it did were send and receive texts, and send and receive calls. Since I broke the camera option mere weeks after its purchase, it was useless for anything else. It lasted for several years, though, probably well past its intended prime.

And while I owned it, I was astronomically more productive and focused.

In fact, in the last three months since my stupid phone finally succumbed and I got my smart phone, I seem to have no time and no ability to concentrate ... unless I'm mindlessly staring at the phone screen, swiping right or left to open or delete messages, or pinning to my myriad boards, or playing Words with Friends or Sudoku.

I know. Pathetic.

"I'll just check this one text message" turns into "I have to reply to that text message right now, and this one, and that one ... oh, and that one, and that one ..." which turns into "I haven't checked Pinterest in forty-eight minutes, I've probably missed dozens of fascinating pins that I could share with my sister or my mother or my colleague or my writer friends" (see how the justification begins?) which turns into "Wow, I'm bored, it only takes me an average of seven minutes to win an easy Sudoku, I'll just click over and do that while I'm waiting ..."

And all the while, the creative muse in the back of my head (where there aren't any blue-lit screens or flashing graphics or pretty pictures or numbers to slot into neat little rows and columns) is screaming, "WHILE YOU'RE WAITING FOR WHAT?"

And she's right.

I have no idea.

# # #

Maybe it's a case of self-doubt. I don't trust my abilities, so I self-destruct instead of working to create.

Maybe it's fear. There's plenty to be afraid of, after all. Fear that I have nothing to write today. That the words won't come, no matter how hard I try (or not). Fear that my imagination has taken a day-trip or a long weekend or a sabbatical and won't be back for the foreseeable future. Fear that no one will read my work. Fear that if people read my work, no one will like it.

Maybe it's anxiety. I have so much else to be worried about ... how can I take time out to work ... writing isn't actually WORK, after all, I'm just pulling random lies out of my head and putting them down on paper and calling it fiction ... and there's a billion other things I could be doing instead ...

Who knows?

Whatever it is, it's holding me back. And I bet it's holding you back.

And it's time to stop.

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If you're a writer, write like your life depends on it. Maybe it does. Who are you to say otherwise?

If your phone is holding you back ... or acting like a distraction from whatever deeper issue is actually holding you back ... then set it aside. Leave it alone. It'll be fine. I promise. I'll do the same thing. Maybe we can get our lonely phones together for a play date sometime while you and I actually. Get. Something. Done.

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What holds you back from what you know you should be doing? Can you name it? Put a face to it? Quantify it so you can stuff it back in its box and bury it or burn it or whatever you need to do?

What is it you know you need to be doing instead? I don't care what other people say you should be doing. What do YOU say you should be doing? Are you doing it? Why not?