Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness Blogfest

As a part of the Wayman Publishing "Random Acts of Kindness" blogfest, I wanted to share a quick story. 


Three years ago I decided to go back to school and work on becoming a registered dental hygienist. After a year of prereqs I got accepted to the program. That's when the real worked started. The program was harder than I ever expected and consumed nearly all my time. My poor family put up with endless amounts of homework and late nights while I tried to power through my classes. 

Along with my family's amazing support, a sweet lady in my church took it upon herself to find a way to help me and my family and make getting through school a little easier. What Charlotte decided to do made such an impact on me that I will never forget her kindness. Charlotte brought us dinner once a month for two entire semesters. I was so blown away by her thoughtfulness. Every meal was homemade and delicious, but what really made them special was that she did it with so much kindness. It was one night we didn't have to worry about cooking when my husband and I were both getting home late. It took away so much stress and made spending a little more time with my family possible. I am so grateful for Charlotte and the kind person she is!

Stop by and check out the other wonderful stories!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Review: Mann of War

Robert Mann thought he had left his days of carrying weapons behind him, but when his life long friend presents a plan to dole out justice to those who truly deserve it yet keep skirting the law John finds himself contemplating death in its various forms on a regular basis. The questions becomes, though, what is John willing to give up in order to make evil men pay? 

What struck me about this book right away was the complexity. The characters themselves are well developed and carefully crafted. The main characters had backgrounds that helped create rounded characters, and they progressed throughout the novel with subtly I don't always see. I found myself interested in their lives from the very beginning. Even the cast of bad characters, even though each only made a brief appearance were memorable in one way or another. 

The plot itself was also fairly complex in the depth of planning and development it entailed. It was obvious that Brantingham researched many aspects of this book. He managed to created complete scenes and believable situations. Robert's travels take him all over the world, making brief stops in places like London and Canada, and in each area the scenes drew me in. I was particularly intrigued by the stop in Canada when Robert begins to contemplate the neighbors of the criminal he is tracking and how the man's presence and then absence would impact them. 

Throughout Robert's quest to rid the world of horrible people who have escaped the law, a romance attempts to side track him, and does a fairly good job of it at times. On Robert's second mission he meets Charlie, a waitress working her way through college. Charlie somehow draws Robert out of his solitary life. She affects him in a way no other woman has, but she believes he is someone else. Their relationship begins based completely on lies, and Robert soon finds that keeping up the lies is not as easy as he expected. When he realizes he doesn't want to lie to her, and that hurting her is really the only option, he has no idea what to do. I enjoyed the relationship between Robert and Charlie. It was really key to seeing the changes in Robert as he goes about his missions. There wasn't a lot of sexual tension, but that was fine because the relationship was not the main focus of this book. It was more about Robert looking at his life and really beginning to understand what he wants and where he wants his future to take him. 

My only real complaint about about the book was that Robert handled the killing so well. Even though he was in the military, being in a wartime situation is much different than killing civilians. Robert even mentions this, but I thought he lack of internal struggle over the majority of his actions was a little unexpected. The men he was killing were bad men, so it wasn't so much a sense of guilt I was looking for, but more the effect it had on Robert personally. There are subtle changes as he jumps to thoughts of murder for everyday annoyances before reigning himself in. I just expect more turmoil about the actual act, but other readers may find Robert's reactions to be exactly what they should be. 

Overall, this was a very enjoyable book. I am looking forward to watching these characters throughout the series and seeing the path Robert takes throughout his story. 

Mann of War is available now from Amazon

Connect with John online at his blog, Amazon, and Goodreads

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Interview: John Brantingham

Today, John Brantingham is here telling us more about his new book, Mann of War

1.   What was your inspiration for this book?

 I’ve always liked crime fiction. I spent much childhood reading Elmore Leonard or watching terrible but wonderful movies like Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry. I don’t know why, but it never occurred to me that I could write that kind of fiction if I wanted to. I built a career writing poetry and literary fiction -- which I also love.

 I was halfway through a Dick Francis novel when I told my wife that being a crime writer would be about the best possible possibility in a universe of possibles, and she talked me into writing one.

 Of course, that’s the inspiration for the job, not really the book. The book came out of a few things. I’ve always been fascinated by evil. I don’t think that there are a lot of people who think of themselves as evil even when they are committing it. I wanted to get a likeable character, committing evil, but completely blind to the fact that he’s not good. 

 So he’s going around seeking vengeance on those people who have gotten away with crimes. Because the people who he is killing are terrible human beings, he can’t see that he’s become a serial killer, and I hope for now that the audience doesn’t see it so clearly either. It’s the first novel in a series that’s going to lead inevitably to him coming face to face with what he is.

2.   Would you classify your writing as plot driven or character driven?

 Definitely character driven. I like plot driven stories, but I love to explore people and their motivations in my stories. It’s so much fun.

3.   Can you tell us a little about your main character?

Robert Mann is a history professor and former Army Ranger. He finds out that one of his best friends -- a police officer -- has been killed and that the person who killed him made a deal to avoid jail time. So he goes on a quest for his own revenge with the help of his other friend Dean Cooley, an FBI agent. When they kill the man, Cooley tells Mann that there are many more people out there that need to be dealt with, who have gotten away with the same kind of thing, so Mann goes out on a series of mission with information given to him by Cooley.

 He’s based a little on my friend Mick, a former Navy Seal, who teaches college now, but Mick would never do this. He’s also based on me, and the questions I ask myself about what it would take for me to become a really dark person. Nothing is darker than revenge after all. It is premeditated and calculated.

 4.   Which of your supporting characters was the most challenging to write?

The bad guys were all terrible people, and I had a hard time getting into their heads. I had to get into the minds of con-men, rapists, killers, drug dealers, and treasonists. Talk about dark. I’m a pacifist by nature, but I found that by the end, I was buying into Mann’s philosophies to some extent.

 I can’t watch movies like The Sting any longer -- movies that celebrate con-men. Getting into their heads, I realized what kind of a craven mindset a person would have to have to do something like that. There are no loveable con-men as far as I’m concerned. It made me sick to do the research I had to do to get into them.  What I learned about them was that it’s not about the money they’re getting. They could make that more easily working anywhere. It’s that feeling that they’ve destroyed another human being that motivates them.

 5.   Without giving away too much, tell us a little about the main conflict in this book.

 The biggest conflict is that Mann has never killed anyone before, and he kind of bumbles through his murders. It would be easy just to shoot all his victims, but he wants to do each murder differently so the police will never catch on to what he’s doing. By the end, he realizes that he’s really not the right person for covert operations.

6.   Why did you choose this genre?

 I love the genre, love working in it. I love the mental challenge that it takes to at once identify with a character and dislike him. One of my favorite shows ever was The Shield, which followed a corrupt police officer. He commits a murder in the first episode -- he kills a police officer investigating him. In the second episode, you find yourself buying into his logic and justifications and at that moment, you realize how close to evil you are yourself and how seductive it can be. 

7.   What do you hope readers take away from this book?

 Murder is easy. Good is difficult. That’s the basis of the entire series.

8.   Who are your favorite authors?

I write in lots of genres and have many literary heroes: Dick Francis, Lawrence Block, Rex Stout, Graham Greene, Sue Grafton, Elmore Leonard, Julian Barnes, John Steinbeck, so many in fiction. These are just the start. I love all of the old crime and mystery writers too.

 9.   Do you have any interesting rituals or habits when you write?

I have to write in the morning, and I have to block out everything else, all my worries. I teach, so there are a lot of them, but for those two hours, that’s all I do. It becomes more like eight hours in the summer.

 I don’t suppose that’s all that different than anyone else’s rituals, but someone like me who’s a born worrier, that’s a hard thing to do. Also, generally drink tea by the gallon while I do it.

 10.   Can you tell us about any future projects?

 Yeah, I have a lot of poetry projects going a couple of collections that should be out next year. If you’d like to check out my latest poetry collection, East of Los Angeles it’s on amazon. I also am writing a sequel to Mann of War, Mann of Action. Finally, I’m writing a novel about a regular guy who just snaps and starts committing crimes for the thrill.

Mann of War is available now from Amazon

Connect with John online at his blogAmazon, and Goodreads

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New Book: Mann of War

This week John Brantingham is here to talk about his new book, Mann of War

"Robert Mann is sick of hearing about criminals who get away with murder. He’s sick of rapists, drug dealers, and con men. He’s sick of the human trash – people who know how to use the system against itself. He’s sick of sitting idly by and doing nothing. So Robert Mann is going to fight back. The problem -- there’s a difference between wanting to kill someone and actually doing it." 

Praise for Mann of War

“…His characters are beautifully rendered, real and true, at once vulnerable and courageous. Wise and insightful, Brantingham's work brilliantly captures the light and darkness in us all.” --James Brown 

“John Brantingham is one of the brightest stars emerging from a generation of authors…His capacious human sympathies, which do not exclude a keen sense of humor, elevate and deepen his work to layers beyond the merely entertaining. Prepare to be both educated and enthralled.” –Gerald Locklin 

“…the book that the illegitimate son of Robert Parker and James Ellroy might have had in a parallel universe. Brantingham’s clipped, tough-guy prose is possessed of a hard-boiled rhythm that approaches a kind of poetry, and his first-class dialogue, which is at turns witty, cruel, and wise, immediately places Brantingham onto the short list of great contemporary crime writers.” —Paul Kareem Tayyar, Author of “In the Footsteps of the Silver King” and “Postmark Atlantis”

Mann of War is available now from Amazon

Meet John Brantingham

John Brantingham is the author of books such as East of Los Angeles, Mann of War, Let Us All Pray Now to Our Own Strange Gods, Study Abroad, and others. His poetry has been featured on Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac and in hundreds of magazines in the US and the UK. He has been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes and won Pearl Magazine's Fiction contest. He lives in Southern California with his wife, Annie, and their dog, Archie.

Connect with John online at his blog, Amazon, and Goodreads

Friday, May 17, 2013

Review: Robin in the Hood

Robin has had her entire life pulled out from under her. Not only is her father looking at jail time for embezzlement, but he's also just had a heart attack and all their money is gone. The loss of her step mother is more relief than anything, but Robin is about to learn the truth about her father's past as well as her own when she falls in with a group of misfits hiding out in the wilds. 

While I was not a fan of the title of this book because it was a bit cliche for my tastes, I did enjoy the twist on the classic story. Switching from a male Robin, to a teenage female version was a fun way to change up this well known folk story. Robin starts out as a pampered teen wasting away at boarding school while her father barely seems aware of her existence. That all changes when her fathers suffers a heart attack and becomes suspected of embezzlement. When their assets are frozen and Robin is faced with foster care she makes the only choice she can ... run. 

Robin was a fun character to read. She is a bit erratic and high strung, but she is a teenage girl, so it fit pretty well. I enjoyed watching her try to adjust to life in a trailer park where all the residents seem to be skirting the law for one reason or another. She is forced to learn to trust and rely on others while actually helping someone other than herself. Despite Robin's prissiness, she wasn't overdramatic like I feared she might be. Her transformation from debutante to bank robber was well done. 

Creek was another good character. At first he appears to be a bad boy, and while that is undoubtedly attractive to Robin, she quickly learns that there is much more to Creek than she originally expected. Creek doesn't go through as much development as Robin because he has already been living this life, but he does change in regards to his willingness to open up and include Robin in his life. There relationship overall takes its time developing but there are certainly moments that are more intense as they explore their desires. Having said that, the romance was clean and I would be comfortable recommending it to my nieces. 

There is some language, however. For the most part it wasn't terribly heavy, but at times I did find it unnecessary. The F word is used several times and it seemed very out of character for Robin and I think it would have been better without it. Aside from that, this was a fun read that I think would be a good addition to many YA bookshelves. 

Robin in the Hood is available now from AmazonB&NKobo, and Goodreads.

Connect with Diane Reed at www.banditsranch.com or message her on facebook or twitter (@DianeJReed).

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Interview: Diane Reed

Today I'm talking with Diane Reed about her new book "Robin in the Hood." 

1.         What was your inspiration for this book? I grew up in an exceptionally affluent area (although my family was middle class). And in high school, as I got to know some of the rich girls, I noticed that many of them were “emotional orphans”. Their parents were too ambitious & self-absorbed to pay attention to them!  So even though they had everything money could buy, they didn’t have genuine love.  I wanted to write a book that did justice to the problems girls like this face, since everyone thinks they have it all. I also worked with juvenile delinquents when I got out of college, and many of the young men I dealt with were committing crimes to provide for their families. So again, I wanted to write a book where boys like that are seen in a different light. Sometimes people do bad things in the name of love, and I thought it would be interesting to see what happens when a formerly rich girl and criminal poor boy get together to rob banks and to try to create a better situation for the ones they love.

2.         Would you classify your writing as plot driven or character driven?  Oh, definitely character driven! The inner lives of my characters—their hopes and dreams and loves—matter very deeply to me. Above all, I’m fascinated by how people connect with each other and what they are prepared to do for love. But with that said, I think pacing is vitally important in novels, so I always try to write a great, page-turning story where the events that are happening keep people mesmerized (and hopefully awake at night reading!).

3.         Can you tell us a little about your main character? Robin McArthur is a very lonely rich girl whose family loses all their money—so she has to make a decision whether to ditch them and make a run for it or choose LOVE and try to save them.

4.         Which of your supporting characters was the most challenging to write? Brandi was hard to write because she’s a sexy trailer park vixen with a big heart of gold and a LOT more depth to her than most people would imagine at first glance. She comes across as cartoonish initially, but that’s only her act so that people won’t be aware of how much she’s really hurting. I wanted her to be funny but also multi-dimensional.

5.         Without giving away too much, tell us a little about the main conflict in this book. By far, the main conflict of the book is whether Robin can learn to trust people and open her heart! She’s been disappointed and hurt by her family so much in the past. But she has to make a choice—either to live the rest of her life as a closed-off person, or reach out to others and be the change she wants to see in the world. Luckily, she chooses the latter. But for her, it involves robbing banks to support her family and friends…

6.         Why did you choose this genre? Oh, I love the YA genre so much because the choices teens make at this age, while they are still in their formative years, will affect the rest of their lives! It’s a fascinating period of learning and growth.

7.         What do you hope readers take away from this book? That love works miracles. I really believe that—even for people who do bad things in the name of love. Eventually they’ll find their way. I sincerely believe the Universe blesses people who try to love.

8.         Who are your favorite authors? I love everything! I recently read Colleen Hoover’s Hopeless, which I really enjoyed, but I also love literary award-winners like Marilynne Robinson (who wrote Gilead).

9.         Do you have any interesting rituals or habits when you write? You bet. I light candles and look at dreamy & beautiful images on my collage board and wear special magical potions and the whole bit. I guess I’m woo-woo that way (a lot like my gypsy character Granny Tinker : )

10.       Can you tell us about any future projects? Yes—I’m writing the sequel to Robin in the Hood where Robin & Creek go to Italy so Robin can find her long-lost mother. I’m also finishing up a fairy tale book for boys.

Robin in the Hood is available now from AmazonB&NKobo, and Goodreads.

Connect with Diane Reed at www.banditsranch.com or message her on facebook or twitter (@DianeJReed).

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop

With summer right around the corner, it's the perfect time to pull up a lawn chair and settle in with a good romance to kickstart those summer romance fantasies every teen is dreaming of! 

As a part of the 

Love in Bloom 

Giveaway Hop 

I'm giving away an ebook copy of my novel, Escaping Fate, the story of Arrabella, a young moan plagued by frightening dreams of a raven-haired girl being led to her death. The resemblance of dream girl to Arrabella is something she fears is not coincidence. desperate for help, Arra turns to her new friend, Tanner, the handsome and sweet boy she met soon after moving to the small town she now calls home. Her hope for romance is tempered by the escalating dreams and her fear that she may be the next victim of the strange dream guardians. 

Enter today for your chance to win and ebook copy of 

Escaping Fate!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

New Book: Robin in the Hood

This week I am welcoming Diane Reed to the blog to talk about her new book, Robin in the Hood

"“Is it any wonder I became a bank robber?” said Robin. But she never dreamed she’d fall in love…
15-year-old Robin McArthur thinks she has it all figured out when it comes to bilking her wealthy dad for guilt money as a substitute for his genuine affection. Until one day he suffers a stroke, and she learns the brutal truth.
They’re broke.
And everyone from bankers to bookies has come to his hospital room to collect.
His only saving grace is what he reveals to Robin in between drools: He truly does love her, in spite of all his mistakes.
Panicked and desperate, Robin figures she has two choices. Either surrender to the pestering caseworker and live in a skanky foster home, or take a chance and sneak her dad out of the hospital to make a run for it. Little does she know that stealing a car and hitting the road means that before the day is through, she will rob her first bank.
Now an outlaw, Robin finds a backwoods trailer park to hide her dad from authorities. There, she encounters Creek, a local bad boy who also commits crimes to provide for their motley neighbors. Realizing she could use Creek’s help, Robin proposes an ingenious plan—they should team up to rob banks together. But when their partnership leads to a magical romance that turns Robin’s world upside down, she soon begins to discover that people are more precious than pocketbooks, and real love means opening your heart to the kinds of treasures money can’t buy…" 

Robin in the Hood is available now from Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and Goodreads.

Meet Diane J Reed

I write novels that are infused with enchantment, where characters dare to break through boundaries and believe in true love. I have a soft spot for artisans & outlaws of the heart, those of us who burn brightly to live each day as a gift—because it is! I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to visit me at www.banditsranch.com or message me on facebook or twitter (@DianeJReed) to share the whispers of your spirit.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Feature: The Chaosifier (Mike Evers)

Today I have a special guest on the blog today, but I will let him introduce himself because he does a much better job! This is the most entertaining interview I've done and I think everyone should stop by his fabulous blog and check it out!


Thank you for this opportunity, please allow me to introduce myself.  I am known to most as The Mountain Lord and I reside in the Karkonose Mountains in central Europe. I do not get out much these days, so my old friend Mike Evers has asked me along to talk about his book - The Chaosifier.  Actually, I am not sure why he has not turned up. My guess is that he is either busy changing his son's nappies, or he is lazing about somewhere, dreaming up silly ideas for books.
I think the idea for an edible bookshelf is a splendid one. However, if I had one installed in my citadel, it would not last two minutes with all those greedy little gnomes running around.  Anyway, thank you for having me, DelSheree.

1.       What was the inspiration for The Chaosifier?

Mike once told me that he originally got the idea from an MA thesis he was doing many moons ago on the topic of prediction in social sciences. I can sense your eyelids getting heavy already! Anyway, the idea is based on the idea that our lives are shaped by decisions and events that occur to us all the time - so-called 'Bifurcation Points'. The paths of fate, so to speak. So what if there is a force which helps good things happen to us at these precise moments?  Thus Mike decided to use Luck Goblins (Bifurs) in the story to bring people luck just when they need it (and causing them to sneeze). Then, he needed a baddy - a dark, chaotic force. - an ├╝ber antagonist. That is where I come in. I am very good at it too I will have you know!

2.       Would you classify his writing as plot driven or character driven?

I would say both. Perhaps there is more of a leaning towards characters. No, it could be plot. No, definitely characters, I would say. Then again... Gah!

I am SO indecisive sometimes.

3.       Can you tell us a little about your main character?

People are always on about those goody-two-shoes Bifurs, with their close-knit little military units, hiding away in woodlands and graveyards.  It is so very boring doing good things all the time, like helping  people find stuff they have lost, or letting them win some money when they have bills to pay.

It is about time there was more said about me. Ahem.  I am more than a thousand years old, though even I cannot be sure precisely. I am married to a lovely lady called Rubena, who has an odd fixation with turnips. It is a curse, you see.  Actually, I could talk about myself for hours. But some clever soul has written about me on Wikipedia. You can find it here. 

4.       Which of your supporting characters was the most challenging to write?

I cannot speak with conviction for the 'other side', but I imagine Mike had a difficult time writing about Bosko.  He is a brave, selfless and reckless sort of Bifur. He has quite a complicated back story involving a family feud in Poland.

5.       Without giving away too much, tell us a little about the main conflict in this book.

That is easy. It's good luck versus chaos, of course.

6.       Why did you choose this genre?

I did not choose it. It chose me. When you are a legendary figure like me,  it is only a matter of time before someone writes about you. I believe it is called Urban Fantasy nowadays.  It's not very urban where I live I must say. My citadel is on top of a mountain called Hrom Hora (Thunder Mountain). It is an excellent place to wreak havoc from. You will have to come and see for yourself.

7.       What do you hope readers take away from this book?

It should at least make you think about some of the absurdities of life. How things can get out of hand if you allow them to. But most of all it should encourage you to do good things. Not like I did in the story.

8.       Who are your favorite authors?

I doubt you will of heard of him, but my favourite writer is a gnome intellectual called Rornl of Quamdo. He has written a wonderful book called 'The Gnome Paradox'.  I did have a copy floating around in my study, but I think one of my servants is using it as a door stop.

9.       Do you have any interesting rituals or habits when you write?

Well, I do not know about writing, but I do have the terrible habit of rubbing my nose when I am doing weather experiments.  It becomes a particular problem when I am casting lightning, as I have on quite a few occasions lost my eyebrows.

10.   Can you tell us about any future projects?

It is no secret that my gnome technicians are currently working on a new chaos machine for me. The last one was a bit, erm, chaotic.  What I will do with it is anyone's guess. Perhaps it will never be finished. Oh, and I plan to finally count all of Ruby's turnips once and for all. I have been saying that for centuries, mind you.

Please come and visit me at my home. You can find me here:


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Review: Sarah Darlin'

Sarah's ambitions don't stop at being a singer at the Jenny Lind during the early days of San Francisco. Her dreams are to become a famous singer and be the star of polite society. She knows it will be a struggle given her humble beginnings, but this young woman is determined to rise above until the appearance of a certain gentleman, Richard, brings up her past and the secrets buried there. 

I'll be honest and say that it took me a little while to get into this book at first. In the first few chapters the characters seemed a little stereotypical. Sarah is a poor young woman with dreams of becoming a star, and she is also determined to be independent and free despite her adoptive father, whose strict rules which are intended to keep her safe. I had the same problem with Richard at first. He is a bit pompous and arrogant, but shows signs that he is a decent person underneath. His main ambition is to buy back his family home lost to creditors. Some of the side characters initially came off the same way. I was afraid this would continue throughout the whole book, but I found this was not the case. 

Throughout the story the characters deepen considerably. Sarah is forced to reevaluate her dreams and desires many times as different circumstances come up. She goes from the charming and plucky young lady in the first few chapters to a very introspective and careful woman by the end who makes her decisions based on the effect they will have on those she loves. Richard becomes a well developed character as well. His arrogance and unbending plans for the future are forced to adjust as he faces hardship and tough decisions between reclaiming what he lost and starting over. I enjoyed seeing these characters grow and develop during the book. Hickman did a good job of taking characters who initially seemed predictable and developing them into more complex characters readers could relate to and enjoy. 

The romance between Sarah and Richard was planned out very well. I enjoyed the back and forth interplay between them and the way it was woven into the rest of the plot. There are both situational and emotional elements that cause their relationship to be tried many times. Just when readers think everything has worked out, new secrets are revealed, or some problem arises that complicates everything. The romance along with the mystery of who Sarah really is and how her true identity will impact her life created a well rounded plot that will keep readers entertained. 

Sarah Darlin' is available now from Amazon

Connect with Shirley online on Amazon and Facebook

Friday, May 10, 2013

Interview: Shirley Skufca Hickman

Today I'm talking with Shirley Skufca Hickman about her new book, Sarah Darlin'

1. What was your inspiration for this book? 

I love to read romance novels and thought it would be fun to write one that took place during the Gold Rush in San Francisco.

2. Would you classify your writing as plot driven or character driven? 
Character driven, but they have to be doing something so plot is very important too.  I start with two main characters, give them a history and create conflicts for them to overcome on their way to a happy ending. They take over from there.

3. Can you tell us a little about your main character?

Sarah O’Malley sings at the Jenny Lind Theater in San Francisco.  Because there are so few women there, she is besieged by men, none of whom interest her until she meets dashing Richard Moresby. Patrick and Katie, the Irish couple who raised her, insist she have nothing to do with this English aristocrat. Torn between her loyalty to Patrick and Katie and her growing attraction to Richard, she must make a choice.  Before Sarah and Richard can be together, they must face prejudice, a murder trial, a lynching party, a fire, and a terrible secret from Sarah’s past.

4. Which of your supporting characters was the most challenging to write?
I wanted to show how sailors were often robbed by their landladies, so I invented Sean. He appears in the street covered by only a blanket and asks the O’Malleys for help. Since he is a fellow Irishman, they bring him home and give him clothes. I had no intention of keeping him in the story, but he wouldn’t go away. He falls in love with Sarah and causes all sorts of trouble. 

5. Without giving away too much, tell us a little about the main conflict in this book. 

The major conflict is between Sarah’s loyalty to the O’Malleys and her love for Richard.

6. Why did you choose this genre? 

I love to read romance novels because they have a happy ending.

7. What do you hope readers take away from this book? 

That family loyalty and love bring happiness.

8. Who are your favorite authors?
Shakespeare,  Dickens,  Jane Austen

9. Do you have any interesting rituals or habits when you write?

On the wall in my writing room is a framed cartoon of a skeleton sitting in front of a computer with this caption: This is absolutely, positively the last rewrite.  I glance at it often to remind me not to be discouraged by the many rewrites I have to do.

10. Can you tell us about any future projects? 

I’ve had several requests from readers to continue the story of Sarah and Richard. I hadn’t planned to write a sequel, but I am seriously considering it now.

Sarah Darlin' is available now from Amazon

Connect with Shirley online on Amazon and Facebook

Thursday, May 9, 2013

New Book: Sarah Darlin'

This week I am welcoming Shirley Skufca Hickman to the blog to talk about her new book, Sarah Darlin'. 

"The early days in San Francisco are brought to life in Sarah Darlin’ as young Sarah O'Malley makes her living on stage and confronts danger on nearly a daily basis—including the dashing Richard Moresby who isn’t what he seems." 

Praise for Sarah Darlin'
"Shirley Hickman hits the target in Sarah Darlin', blending romance and intrigue in this charming story of a music house singer and an English lord. Set during the 1850s California gold rush, displaced English gentleman Richard Moresby and Irish miss Sarah O'Malley are beset by more than one set of complications, and find the road to love a wild adventure." --C.K.Crigger, Author of the China Bohannan series

Sarah Darlin' is available now from Amazon

Meet Shirley Skufca Hickman:

Shirley Skufca Hickman was brought up in a Colorado coal mining town and wrote about those early years in her first book. She graduated with a B.A. from Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado and later earned two Master of Arts Degrees. Hickman founded the Porterville Writer’s Workshop, and has published poetry and prize-winning short stories. She makes her home in Central California. 

Connect with Shirley online on Amazon and Facebook

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Cover Reveal: Working It Out (Rachael Anderson)

Author Rachael Renee Anderson

Rachael Anderson is the author of four books: Divinely Designed, Luck of the Draw, Minor Adjustments, and The Reluctant Bachelorette. She's the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can't sing, doesn't dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.

Working It Out
A chance encounter . . . 
Grace Warren's life is safe and predictable—exactly the way she likes it. But when she gets roped into going to an auction to help out a friend, everything changes. She meets Seth Tuttle—a guy who unexpectedly kisses her then disappears, leaving her flustered and upset. If she never sees him again, it will be too soon.

A chance for love . . .  
Weeks later, when Seth limps into Grace's rehab clinic post surgery, she immediately recognizes him. Unfortunately, he's every bit as frustrating and annoying as she remembered. Yet there's something about him that makes her second-guess her carefully placed boundaries even though he's everything she's sure she doesn't want in a man. But maybe Seth is exactly what Grace has needed all along—assuming she's willing to risk safe and predictable for a chance at love.

Giveaway Details
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Ends 5/31/13

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Monday, May 6, 2013

Review: The Blogger's Survival Guide

Today I am reviewing Lexie Lanes and Becky Mcneer's new book, The Blogger's Survival Guide

I don't usually review nonfiction, but some of you may know Lexie Lane from Voiceboks, a fabulous site for boggers and parents. I am excited to share her new book with my readers and fellow bloggers. So here we go ...

"Being fairly new to blogging, I was excited to get a chance to read this book and learn more about what I should be doing with my blog and how I can help increase my traffic. What I really loved about this book it that it was organized so well. 

All the sections were divided up into logical chapters that made it really easy to find what you were looking for. It also made it simple to jump right to the chapter you need to focus on. More experienced bloggers can skip the getting started steps that help you learn more about what blogging platform to use and how to get it set up. These first few chapters, however, will be critical for brand new bloggers. The authors really lay everything out in basic terms and help compare and contrast and help bloggers decide which one will work best for them. There is no push to go with one platform over another, just the facts about each one. 

Once the blog is set up, the authors go step by step teaching bloggers about how choose topics, when to post for maximum exposure, how to increase traffic, and even how to monetize a blog. I learned so much from this book and I can't wait to start implementing the techniques and suggestions from the authors to start growing my blogs. I highly recommend this to new bloggers as well as experienced bloggers. It's something you will want to keep on hand and refer to often!" 

The Blogger's Survival Guide is available from is Amazon

Friday, May 3, 2013

Review: A Ton of Gold

Once a promising young student, Crystal Moore is now struggling to leave her past behind and build a successful career. The problem is, not only her past in coming back to haunt her, but myths of decades past are stirring up trouble as well. In the midst of big projects at work, Crystal finds herself in the middle of a hunt for gold, complete with bullets and dangerous criminals. 

The first chapter is set back in the time, but the rest of the story is set in modern day. The first chapter serves a very important purpose. It sets up the mystery of the gold, the gold that throws Crystal's entire life into total chaos. The aspect of the gold was a great part of this book. I enjoyed the story behind the interest in the gold and the way it was researched. I also enjoyed the characters trying to figure out what was going on, the villains, and the action the search for the people behind the attacks on Crystal and her grandmother created. I stayed interested in the plot the whole time. 

Crystal works in information retrieval, and her work plays a huge role in the development of this story. Callan blends the technical side of this story with the fast paced adventure seamlessly. The pacing was well done throughout the whole book. There was a good balance of action and reflection. The fast paced scenes kept me interested and I was able to follow the action easily. The moments spent with Crystal as she contemplates her past and her future was equally interesting. I felt connected with her as a character and wanted to see her face her past and the current events making life a mess. 

All of the characters, even the side characters, were quite enjoyable. Callan took the time to develop an intricate story for each one. Crystal struggles with events in her past, and those events have changed who she is. Coming back from her problems is a major struggle for her and it affects her choices throughout the book. Mark, Crystals boss, was also a great character. He was a good addition to both the action scenes and the mystery. I was hoping for a little more of a romantic side to this book, because I'm a sucker for a good romance. There was potential for something more to develop, but Callan held off on making it a focus. I would have preferred the relationship had played a bigger part, but other readers may prefer to not have the action and mystery clouded. Overall, this was a very enjoyable book and I look forward to reading more from James Callan. 

Connect with James online at his websiteblog, a book site

A Ton of Gold is available now from Amazon and Oak Tree Press.

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Interview: James Callan

Let's get to know a little more about James Callan and his new book, A Ton of Gold.

1. What was you inspiration for this book? 
Two things came together as this developed. I had long wanted to use a character who was involved in Informational Retrieval, partly because I did research in this field when working on a Ph.D. in mathematics.  Then, one day I read an old folk tale.  I began to wonder how a folk tale could affect lives today.  The two ideas percolated in my head for some months until A Ton of Gold evolved.

2. Would you classify your writing as plot driven of character driven? 
I would have to go with character driven.  While I feel the plot is important, I want a central character that the reader will care about.  If I can’t make the reader feel something about the character I have failed.

3. Can you tell us a little about your main character?
In A Ton of Gold, the main character is Crystal Moore.  Crystal is a young, brilliant computer researcher who two years ago was abused  psychologically.  She does excellent work, but mere mention of the man’s name completely destroys her confidence, her self-esteem.  As she struggles with this, another more devastating problem arises.  

4. Which of your supporting characters was the most challenging to write?
Crystal’s 76 year-old grandmother and Crystal’s street-wise housemate were so much fun that I can’t classify them as a challenge. But Mark O’Malley, a former bull rider, was more difficult.  Mark is Crystal’s boss and owner of the research company. He has his own problems with venture capitalists. At the same time, he would like to help Crystal. But the more time Crystal spends on her problems, the further behind her project falls, just as the venture capitalists come to visit. So Mark is torn between his feelings for Crystal and her problems and his need to keep the company afloat.

5. Without giving away too much, tell us a little about the main conflict in this book. 
Unknown people attack Crystal’s only living relative, the grandmother who raised her. Crystal has no idea who these people are or why they would be trying to kill a 76 year-old woman who lives in the middle of a forest. And while the grandmother believes someone is trying to kill her, she won’t hide.  

6. Why did you choose this genre? 
I have always loved to read mystery and suspense novels. So it made sense to me that I would write those.  I’ve had several non-fiction books published, but mystery/suspense is where my heart is.

7. What do you hope readers take away from this book? 
I hope they will see that we cannot let someone else determine how we view ourselves.  Our self-worth, self-esteem, must come from within ourselves.

8. Who are your favorite authors?
I enjoy David Baldacci for his intriguing plots.  I appreciate Dick Francis for the smoothness of his sentences and paragraphs.  I like Jory Sherman for his ability to paint pictures with words.

9. Do you have any interesting rituals or habits when you write?
Not really.  Perhaps you should ask my wife that question.  I write mostly at night after all of the activities of the day are finished.  I don’t want something to interrupt me once I get going. I write as fast as I can and polish after I’ve finished the book.  Social media, blogs, etc. can be done earlier in the day, where interruptions are not as disruptive.

10. Can you tell us about any future projects? 
I have a sequel to A Ton of Gold written. A little more polishing and it will be ready to submit to a publisher.  I have a sequel to Cleansed by Fire nearing the finish line. 

Connect with James online at his websiteblog, a book site

A Ton of Gold is available now from Amazon and Oak Tree Press.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Book Blast: The Newstead Project

The Newstead Project

the giant.
Joel Cranston shouldn’t exist. He just doesn’t know that yet. He’s lived a pretty normal life for the last sixteen years. If you consider being almost seven feet tall and good at about every sport you’ve ever played normal. Normal ends the day Newstead shows up with an invitation to come to their school.
the school.
Newstead is a private high school in Central Vermont by the Green Mountains. It’s a great place to hide a few hundred people who shouldn’t exist while you train them to become tomorrow’s rulers, tomorrow’s dictators, tomorrow’s gods.
the unexpected.
Rachel Newell thinks she’s just passing through. She never stays any place more than four months and with Newstead so close to Weston, she has even more reason to make this her shortest stop ever. The last thing she expects is to have a reason to stay.
Together Rachel and Joel uncover the truth behind what is
the newstead project.

Amazon * Amazon Kindle

Book Trailer

Author Melanie Schulz

I live in Upstate New York with my husband and three children, where I’ve pretty much been planted my entire life. Which is fine, because it’s beautiful here. My only complaint is that most people assume that New York means NYC, which it doesn’t. There. I’ve done my part in exposing the truth. Truth. The truth is I’m not a writer; storyteller maybe, but not a writer. It wasn’t something I spent years dreaming of, or even what I went to school for. I’m a nurse. I love being a nurse. So why write? I don’t know. I do know when it started, though. September 3, 2010. I know this because I nature journal, and on that day Joel made it into my notes. I guess that’s fitting. Someone like him needed to be birthed out in the woods. If you were to meet me, and I hope someday you do, you would not connect me with this story. I’m a wife, a mother, a nurse. The person who wrote this should’ve been a guy, first off, secondly he should be some militaristic strategist; that’s who you’d expect to see if you were to come to a book signing, not me. But I’m there, in every line. So if I don’t have the good fortune to meet you in person, I hope to see you in THE NEWSTEAD PROJECT.

Website * Blog * Facebook

newstead tour

Book Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 5/19/13
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
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