31 December 2011

A New Beginning


2011 was a complex year. It had its share of good and bad, of showing some people's true colors and the kindness of others.
It's the year I introduced Novel Prevue, my little baby to design book trailers. Through book trailer designing, I met some wonderful authors; creative, supportive, understanding, and all-round good-hearted lot. For that I'm grateful and I send them my best wishes for more writing, sales, and happiness.
I also made new friends through my current publishers, published a couple of books, and planted the intellectual seeds for few more.
The year had a bit of a shocker with my mother's sudden illness in December. You hear about what the lack of vitamins could do to your health, but Man, Oh, Man! Were we in for a rude awakening when Mom was hospitalized because of it!!!
She's out now and okay, thank God for that.
I don't know what 2012 will bring me, but here's wishing all of us a prosperous, healthy and happy year.

Happy new year, y'all!

29 December 2011

Book Review: Whispering Bones by Rita Vetere

Whispering Bones Whispering Bones by Rita Vetere

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I liked reading this book; the hard core horror that pulls no punches, on the contrary, the author used her powers and resources to their full extent. Whispering Bones showcases what a grudge can do to a soul, even an innocent one, and how insidious entities could utilize that to their advantage. Rita Vetere had her dates, facts, and chilling moments in check.I would definitely look her up in the dark fiction section of any bookshop, online or otherwise.


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27 December 2011

Guest Blog: How Cleanse Fire came to be by Anastasia V. Pergakis

Please welcome author Anastasia V. Pergakis who has agreed to share with us how her debut novel, Cleanse Fire, came to be.
Welcome, Anastasia. The floor is yours.
****
Thank you Su for having me on your blog to talk about my debut novel, Cleanse Fire.
Complete the mission, no matter what…
Captain Derac Vidor has served Kinir for nearly twenty years. It’s his life, his blood, his soul. And then his Commander betrays everything Derac holds dear. Now he has to focus on his own life and his team instead of saving the citizens of Kinir.
Treason is only the beginning…
Fueled by rage, the team chases the source to their Commander’s betrayal – a powerful wizard bent on revenge. The wizard seeks to destroy the Kinir Elite, in both mind and body. No place is safe, even among their allies.
The past holds the key…
Derac’s tragic past may be the key to saving the team. But can he face the gruesome nightmare in time?
~ * ~ * ~
Su asked me to tell you how the story, how Cleanse Fire came to be. I've talked about this before, but it's one of my favorite stories to tell. My intention with this book is to honor soldiers and the sacrifice they make serving their country.

I'm sure you're wondering what a fantasy author - or a fantasy book - has to do with honoring soldiers. Simply put, I'm a proud Army Brat. My Dad served 20 years, 1982 - 2002, in the U.S. Army, retiring with the rank of Sergeant First Class. He was as a Drill Sergeant for a few years, training fellow infantrymen where he earned the nickname "The Hurricane." His service took him around the world to places like Korea, Panama, Egypt, Israel, Germany, and more. I asked him once what he felt like serving and he told me "privileged."

"Who shall we send for us?" … "Here I am. Send me." -- Airborne quote

Now, the thing about my Dad, as you can see in the picture here, he looks very serious - and almost scary really. But the thing is, he would get down on the floor with me and my sister when we were little girls, and play Barbies with us! I'm definitely a Daddy's girl and I wanted to honor him with my writing.

Even though I'm a fantasy writer, I had the idea a few years ago to write a story about his career and his life. He was great and answered all the questions I had, even though I'm sure some of them were hard to answer. I began writing the story and got about a page into it when I realized there was no way I could do it. I didn't think I could capture the feelings, the emotions, he felt during that time in an accurate way. I would hate to write a story to honor him - and all soldiers - but only end up ruining it completely.

So, I put the story down for a few years. When NaNoWriMo came around in 2009, the story resurfaced in my brain again and the urge to write a story to honor soldiers was still strong. But this time, the story came to me in a different way - as a fantasy novel.

The story as it exists now, is completely fictional. The characters in the book are soldiers, granted they're elves, but soldiers just the same. And they are dedicated to their country, just as soldiers in our world are dedicated to theirs.

I want to honor my Dad - and all soldiers. Because of that, I'm donating a portion of the royalties from Cleanse Fire, and the books to follow in the series, to the Wounded Warrior Project. This organization helps wounded soldiers and their families heal after they return home. You can learn more about them and read stories from soldiers they helped at their website, www.WoundedWarriorProject.org. It is an American organization, but it is my hope that my book honors soldiers across the sea as well. The Wounded Warrior Project is merely the beginning!

This is just my way of saying thank you to the sacrifice and dedication our armed forces give for our freedoms. I was lucky that my Dad was not killed during his service (and he still lives to this day). But there are so many that come home severely wounded, or not at all. I want my book, even though it its fantasy, to tell soldiers that their sacrifice means something, that we know how important it is, and that we are eternally grateful.

"The true soldier fights not because he hates what's in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." -- G. K. Chesterton
 
~ * ~ * ~
 Purchase Cleanse Fire
Join the Kinir Brigade by signing up for our newsletter! Get exclusive deals, access to special giveaways, and inside information about the series! Join the Kinir Brigade now and receive the first five chapters in your email! And don't forget to visit our Facebook Page and Website too!

Giveaway
 I’m giving away an e-copy of Cleanse Fire! Leave a comment on this post to enter into the random drawing. I'll draw the names at the end of my tour, January 31, 2012. If you want more chances to win a copy, visit our website to follow our tour! The more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win!

All commenters will also be added to the drawing for a chance to win a signed hard cover. Drawing for the hardcover will be on January 31, 2012, the end of my tour.

You can also get more chances to win by tweeting or posting on facebook! Just leave a link to the tweet or post in a comment below!

**All Winners will be announced on the Kinir Elite Website on February 1st**
 ~ * ~ * ~
 AUTHOR BIO

Anastasia knew she always wanted to write. She began at a young age, writing those little stories about the apple tree in the yard. Though her love of stories stayed with her through her poetry stage in high school, she didn’t begin writing novels until she was almost an adult. That’s where she found her true passion.
Her characters visit her dreams – and sometimes during the day – to share their stories with her. Anastasia is merely the writer, but the characters are really the storytellers.
Anastasia lives in Columbus, Georgia with her husband and son. A stay at home Mom, she loves spending time with her son during the day, then writing furiously at night.

16 December 2011

Book Review: Liberation Road by Sean A. Lusher

Liberation RoadLiberation Road by Sean A. Lusher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Jared was on his way from Missouri to Hartford, a small town at the edge of Colorado to meet—for the first time—Lara, his online girlfriend. That's when Liberation Road happens "to" him.

Nothing I say will prepare you for the story without giving it away. Liberation Road mystified me until the very end. The author made me live what Jared was going through without letting it drag. The story unfolded properly and sequentially as Jared braved several challenges to survive.

The ending carried a deeper meaning than meets the eye, at least to me. Jared is a believable character; his actions, thinking, and feelings felt real.

I can't recommend this book enough. It had me guessing while reading it and then thinking about it after I finished it. Books like Liberation Road stay long with a reader.



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13 December 2011

Book Review: For Love Is New by Jean Hart Stewart

For Love Is NewFor Love Is New by Jean Hart Stewart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


For Love is New crosses many boundaries. The author doesn't hold back with details and events that make the events sound and feel real, even if it's a bit on the rough side. This romance isn't soft and fluffy all the time, it shines a light on the dark side of human nature.
The characters were vivid, their emotions real, and Lord Christian Cherne is manly man you'd love to know.
Espionage, suspense, romance, and honor clash against each other in a whirlwind of emotions that left me flipping pages, eager to know what happens next.



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11 December 2011

Guest Blog: Christmas Memories by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Author Kathryn Meyer Griffith is sharing with us some heartwarming memories, Christmas memories. 
You're on, Kathryn.
Christmas Memories
By author Kathryn Meyer Griffith

My real childhood Christmas memories, in fact most of my holiday memories, essentially began in my ninth year. Oh, I have memories, scattered and muted, of earlier times but none as crystalized as those after that year. That’s because months earlier on a sultry hot August day around my ninth birthday I almost died; the whole experience changed my young life forever from that time on.
 It was early August 1959 – a terribly hot and long summer pre-air-conditioning – and I lived with my six siblings, mother and father, in a rambling run-down house near St. Louis. We didn’t have much money or material possessions, wore hand-me-downs and sometimes we didn’t have lunch money or even a working telephone. Our utilities were often cut off for lack of payment, things would disappear from the house and into the pawn shop and a car would one day be ours and the next not. But we had each other and…love.
My maternal grandmother, Mary Fehrt (joy bringer and storyteller of her generation) was always there for us when it came to providing the things we desperately needed; care packages of food and cash. As much as they could give because they weren’t rich either, but frugal; both worked long grueling hours at a dry cleaner. They’d gone through the Great Depression and could stretch a dollar. I always thought it ironic they’d responsibly had just one child, my mother, Delores, but she gave them seven grandchildren. I thought of my family as a modern day Walton’s. Heck, we even had a writer John Boy (me…though I was an artist and a singer with my brother Jim before I became one) and a musician, Jason (my brother Jim), a loving mother and father and a generous grandmother and grandfather. We were poor but happy. A good hearted family.
Anyway, that August I got sick. My side hurt and I lay moaning on the couch for three days while my mother and father agonized if I should be taken to the ER. Money we didn’t have. In the end, my mother won out and they took me. I had a bad case of appendicitis and the doctors, as they rushed me into the operating room, told my parents if they’d waited another hour the appendix would have burst and I might have died. Died.
Thank God, I didn’t.  Afterwards I languished in a hot hospital room (I can still smell the antiseptic, bloodied bandages and feel the pain of the stitches to this day). Ech.
My ninth birthday was two days after I returned home and my family, relieved I was alive, showered me with gifts. A brownie camera. Art supplies. Homemade cake and ice cream. Everyone was there. I, for once, was the center of attention and loved it. I look back now and realize that was the beginning of wanting to be different, to stand out, make a difference in the world, to shine, and shortly after that I began drawing pictures and singing with my brother on the rusted backyard swing set.
The holidays that year were different for me and my family as well. Thanksgiving was full of grateful laughter, a huge roasted turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes and marshmallows (my favorite) and lots of my father’s special treats, nuts and tangerines.  I was acutely aware of everything. I was looking at the world through new eyes and was excited at the life I’d been given back. Happy. Thankful for my loving family.
Christmas was a child’s sweet fantasy. Christmas Eve, as the snowflakes, the temperature and the night’s amethyst twilight fell, my brothers, sisters, mother, father and I piled into my Dad’s big Buick and drove through the woods and neighborhoods of twinkling lit up houses to our grandmother and grandfather’s house. We usually stayed home on Christmas Eve and opened our presents the next morning when our grandparents arrived. Not that year. Dad and mom announced it was special and we were going to grandma’s house. Opening our presents there that night. Yippee! What child didn’t want presents early. Sooner the better.
It was snowing heavily by the time we drove into their driveway and I can still see what I saw as a child as I walked wide-eyed into grandma’s house (my grandmother loved the holidays and had twinkling Christmas lights, the big fat old-fashioned bulbs, strung along the front of their house and there were decorated Christmas trees in every room). My grandmother had outdone herself and there wasn’t corner of her home that wasn’t full of Christmas.
We traipsed downstairs and into a Christmas wonderland. Grandpa had gone out and cut a huge pine tree that stood at the end of their 50’s remodeled basement in all its glory. On its fragrant limbs hung hundreds of cherished family heirloom ornaments and beneath it were piles of brightly wrapped presents, more than I’d ever seen in my life, and a miniature Christmas village with a tiny train that chugged noisily around a little metal track, blowing its whistle.  The whole glittering sight took my breath away.
They made us kids sit on the floor and handed out our presents one by one. Grandma and grandpa had gone overboard, as always, and I remember sitting there unwrapping present after present and crying because I’d gotten so many of the things I’d wanted. A large drawing tablet. Colored pencils. Pastels. A watercolor set. A sparkly (some of you remember those don’t you?) paint-by-number of winter sunsets. A new blouse. A big bag of my favorite nuts, cashews. All for me. I was in seventh heaven. The other kids did pretty well, too. By today’s standards, nothing much, but small trucks, cars, new clothes and dolls meant a lot to us.
I gave my grandmother and grandfather a set of porcelain fishes; my mother an inexpensive necklace and father some gloves. My brothers, sisters and I had gone out on a cold night days earlier to the local five and dime and picked out what we could afford, not much, but it was given from the heart. After the gifts we sat down at the long table full of grandma’s delicious food and ate, laughed, and made memories as the snow continued to drift outside the windows. Later, stuffed, content and exhausted mom and dad loaded us all into the Buick and slowly drove us home on the slick streets. Magic. I’ll never forget that night and the joy of my large family. The love. It’d sustain us through the hard and bad times to come and to this day gives me a smile and a catch in my throat whenever my thoughts touch it.  Merry Christmas everyone!
****

Kathryn Meyer Griffith has been writing for nearly forty years and has published 14 novels and 7 short stories since 1984 with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press in the horror, romantic paranormal, suspense and murder mystery genres. Learn more about her at www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith or www.authorsden.com/kathrynmeyergriffith or www.bebo.com/kathrynmeyerG and http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=1019954486       
Her published novels & short stories:
Evil Stalks the Night (Leisure 1984; Damnation Books 2012)
The Heart of the Rose (Leisure 1985; Eternal Press Author’s Revised Edition 2010)
Blood Forge (Leisure 1989; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out Februry 2012)
Vampire Blood (Zebra 1991; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out July 2011)
The Last Vampire (Zebra 1992; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2010)
Witches (Zebra 1993; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2011)
The Nameless One (short story 1993 Zebra Anthology Dark Seductions;
  Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2011)
The Calling (Zebra 1994; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out October 2011)
Scraps of Paper (Avalon Books Murder Mystery 2003)
All Things Slip Away (Avalon Books Murder Mystery 2006)
Egyptian Heart (The Wild Rose Press, 2007; Author’s Revised Edition 2011)
Winter's Journey (The Wild Rose Press 2008; Author’s Revised Edition 2011)
The Ice Bridge (The Wild Rose Press 2008; Author’s Revised Edition 2011)
Don't Look Back, Agnes short story (2008; ghostly short story Eternal Press Jan. 2012)
In This House (ghostly short story 2008; Eternal Press January 2012)
BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons (Damnation Books June 2010)
The Woman in Crimson (Damnation Books 2010)
The Complete Guide to Writing Paranormal Novels: Volume 1 2011 (I wrote the foreword)

Book Review: Shock III: 13 Electrifying Tales by Richard Matheson

Shock III: 13 Electrifying TalesShock III: 13 Electrifying Tales by Richard Matheson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Unlike Shock I, I couldn't wait for Shock III to finish. I still loved reading a Richard Matheson piece, but it felt forced, as though the stories weren't coming as smoothly as the first book. I wasn't shocked either, somehow I lost the connection with these stories and it left me feeling bad. I love my short stories.

I'm going to read more of Richard Matheson's work, this is nothing but a minor setback.



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08 December 2011

Guest Blog: On Fighting the Internal Censor (without Also Fighting the Internal Editor)

Author Gary W. Olson is here today to discuss the struggles that sometimes shape and influence the way he writes.
Read on to find out more. On to you, Gary.
****
On Fighting the Internal Censor (without Also Fighting the Internal Editor)
 As a writer, one of my most constant challenges has been to push past the objections of my Internal Censor.  The Internal Censor, of course, being that part of myself that challenges things I write by saying 'what will your mother/your father/your co-workers/your parole officer/etc think of this?  You'd better take it out!'  It's something I haven't always been successful with in my years of writing, though I think I managed to do a good job of putting it on the ropes during the writing of my novel, Brutal Light.
Of course, I'm hardly the only writer who struggles with an Internal Censor, and it's hardly only writers who have to struggle with this creature.  To varying degrees, I think we all have to cope with some form of Internal Censor in our daily expressions, both online and in the 'real world.'  Writers, though, have an added burden, in that in order to tell the stories we have inside us fully and honestly, we may have to go through territory we ordinarily would not in public.  Flinch from doing so, and we tell a story we know has had its wings clipped--and if we know it, odds are our readers will, too.  Steam on ahead, and we risk disapproving looks and words from those whose judgments we value--or, at least, we imagine we do.
One thing I always have to remember to do is to give these people some credit.  My mother reads some horror fiction and a lot of crime and mystery fiction.  Other family members read crime, horror, science fiction, and fantasy--often books with content as dark as what's going in mine.  I remind myself that each one is more than the roles that define our relationship.  This quiets my internal censor some, but not fully.
That's when I bring on my surprise ally, the Internal Editor.  Despite what you might think, it's role is not the same as that of the Censor.  It might demand that some lines (or an entire scene) be cut--not because its contents are objectionable, but because they do not serve the story.  It might demand that some words be removed, not because they're 'dirty,' but because they set a different tone for the scene than I wanted.  Writing something violent, or erotic, or disturbing is fine, if that's what I'm striving for, but if it's not, or if it feels like something that brings the story to a screeching halt for x number of paragraphs or pages while it plays out, then the Editor has the go-ahead to cut it.
Once I've made all the cuts for the right reasons (the Internal Editor's), I tend to feel better about overruling the Internal Censor's objections.  The Editor left those bits in there for good, story-related reasons; the Censor should have no compelling arguments against those reasons.  The content stands, and I have (hopefully) created a story that is both honest and fully-told without being gratuitous.  As a writer, I don't think I can hope to do more than that.
 Blurb
 All Kagami Takeda wants is to be left alone, so that no one else can be destroyed by the madness she keeps at bay.  Her connection to the Radiance--a merciless and godlike sea of light--has driven her family insane and given her lover strange abilities and terrible visions.  But the occult forces that covet her access to the Radiance are relentless in their pursuit.  Worse, the Radiance itself has created an enemy who can kill her--a fate that would unleash its ravenous power on a defenseless city...
Rhea Cole is also on the run, after murdering her husband with a power she never knew she had--a power given her by a strange girl with a single touch.  Pursued by a grim man unable to dream and a dead soul with a taste for human flesh, she must contend with those who would use her to open the way to the Radiance, and fight a battle that stretches from the streets of Detroit to a forest of terrifying rogue memories.
 Excerpt
 Gordon screamed, and Kagami fell into the current of sound.  The sharp edge of the scream faded into nothing, and the nothing became the ghost of a boy.
No...there were two boys--light-skinned, brown-haired, and lost in their own shared world. There had been parents, Kagami sensed, but they had gone early, and those who tried to fill in were inadequate at keeping the boys from running wild. They stole money and cars, first through force, then through a variety of cons. The older one burned through money and women, and the younger--
One girl in the blur of stolen memories drew Kagami's attention.  She had black hair and pale skin, and there was fear in her eyes as Kelly pulled her onto him. Gordon watched, frozen.  Horror boiled in his sunken eyes, but something else burned beneath, and she could taste it for a single moment.
Then the light came, and the girl vanished.
Her name is Olivia Harbaugh.
Kagami repeated the name into the wave of consuming light, though she didn't know why. She was there and gone, a teenage girl who came to a sick end at the hands of two sick young men, and all she had was her name, her taste and her fear.
When the light receded, Kagami was in Kelly's body. His hands were on the steering wheel of a pickup truck. Outside was absolute night, pierced only by headlights. A featureless dirt road rolled beneath. Anonymous fields and trees were on either side of the road. There were no mailboxes or signs.
Though Kelly's body was flesh and blood, he felt as hollow as he had as a mane. He had told her, near the start of their time together, that he once had flesh, but she found it hard to credit.  He was like no soul she had ever touched, no soul she thought possible.
The servant I served. My corruption. My immane.

Buy links for "Brutal Light":
Print ISBN (for ordering paperback via bookstore): 978-1-61572-539-7
Digital ISBN: 978-1-61572-538-0
 
Author Bio:

Gary W. Olson grew up in Michigan and, despite the weather, stuck around.  In 1991 he graduated from Central Michigan University and went to work as a software engineer.  He loves to read and write stories that transgress the boundaries of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, while examining ideas of identity and its loss in the many forms it can have.
Away from working and writing, Gary enjoys spending time with his wife, their cats, and their mostly reputable family and friends.  His website is at http://www.garywolson.com, and features his blog, A Taste of Strange (http://www.garywolson.com/blog), as well as links to everyplace else he is on the Internet, such as Twitter (http://twitter.com/gwox) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/gary.w.olson.author).

04 December 2011

Book Review: Take One at Bedtime by Jenny Twist

Take One at BedtimeTake One at Bedtime by Jenny Twist

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The book comes with a warning, to "Not to exceed the stated dose" which is one story at a time, bedtime that is. I must admit I overdosed on this book, in a good way.

Jenny Twist has a clear and smooth writing style that even though I guessed the ending a couple of times, it still hit me hard when I reached it. All of the stories resonated within me, stayed in the back of my mind through the day. I couldn't wait to go back for more. Imagine my shock when I discovered I reached the end!

My favorite is "Jess's Girl," a sweet and innocent little something that reminded me that love can take many forms.

If you're in the mood for a feel-good read that combines several genres, even the darker ones, then Take One at Bedtime is the book to pick.

I will definitely read other books by Jenny Twist, she has a unique voice that's easy on the heart and ears.


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30 November 2011

Book Review: Getting the Words Right by Theodore A. Rees Cheney

Getting the Words RightGetting the Words Right by Theodore A. Rees Cheney

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Getting the Words Right is the perfect example of how we take things for granted, like breathing.

Reading this book was like a reminder of the basics of communication: Using the best and clearest methods/tools to get the point across.

This is definitely a keeper, one I plan to refer to frequently. The only issue I had was that for some points there are many examples (too many) and none for others.


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21 November 2011

Book Review: Ladies' Night by Jack Ketchum

Ladies' NightLadies' Night by Jack Ketchum

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I'm lost for words.

Ladies' Night had a hype about it. What with the author's introduction of the book's history and how it shrank in size to its current number of pages, and how it was buried and reworked to death.

The gore didn't bother me, the "disgusting" scenes were graphic but I've seen similar things in horror movies.

Yet it didn't sit well with me.

It wasn't the lack of the source of that chemical spillage that turned women into monsters either. I've watched or read pieces of fiction that did that (not explaining the "why it happened"). Even though it isn't nice not to have or be able to guess at answers, I can deal with that.

Finally, I understood what I missed. It was a sense of direction. I couldn't see where this book was going, what lesson, if any, to be learned. But most of all, I was left with a vast void the book's beginning created and its ending failed to fill.

It was like being hungry and someone offers you to eat "air". There was nothing in me at the end, no emotion, no regret, no anger, no disappointment, no joy.

The 2 stars are for the author's creativity at coming up with tight spots and managing to get his characters out of them. They are also for the imaginative gruesome deaths.

Could it be that because this book was shortened and was worked on by several people that something fell through the cracks?

I guess that "something" is what I missed in this book.


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I'm at the Log Line Blog


Author Lynn Crain came up a neat idea, I really admire her creativity. She started up a blog called The Log Line Blog. Everyday, she features a book along with its cover, buy links, and of course, log line.
This is an ingenious approach to share a log line with others, the line that could draw potential readers.
Today, Seeker is featured.

Come on over, check out the company my book is keeping :-)

18 November 2011

Book Review: Apartment 14F by Christian Saunders

Apartment 14F: An Oriental Ghost StoryApartment 14F: An Oriental Ghost Story by Christian Saunders

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Apartment 14F started off nice and sweet with a description of Jerry's new life in China and the country's economy, culture, and even political changes over time. With great timing, the author introduced the ghost at varying and startling intervals that got me eager to understand the driving force behind this haunting.

Throw in the mix a fortune teller, a mysterious disappearance, and the main character's stubbornness to walk away from any trouble (he has to face them, he couldn't just leave without a resolution) and you have a world weaved so tightly, you will believe everything in it.

There were a couple of scenes that reminded me of The Ring and Grudge, but frankly, they worked so well to support the story to the surprising end.

I think isolation is an important factor in this book-actually in any good ghost story-and I could feel Jerry's loneliness a mile away.


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17 November 2011

Book Review: Shock 1 by Richard Matheson

Shock 1Shock 1 by Richard Matheson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Shock I, includes 13 tales of thrill and terror with a promise of bad things to come. The title (shock) and the number (13) have a lot to do with it, but mainly, Richard Matheson's writing style brought me over.
The stories are combination science fiction and horror with a touch of offbeat to each one of them. The word paranoia kept flashing in my head as I read this book. Except for one story of actual paranoia, the rest are of the creative type that make a great dark fiction base.
These stories were written in the 50's and some have even become (with some adaptation) part of Masters of Horror and The Twilight Zone if I'm not mistaken.
Here's a bit about each story.
1. Children of Noah: A good reason why speeding is bad, especially if through a small town in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. My favorite of the bunch.
2. Lemmings: Short but invokes thinking. I liked it to some extinct, but considering its shortness, I can't dislike it either. It did its job and finished quick :-)
3. The Splendid Source: what's the source of all dirty jokes? I wasn't impressed with this story, perhaps because it didn't thrill nor terrify me. This one felt out of place in this collection.
4. Long Distance Call: Paranoia in its element. Who's to say if the crippled old lady isn't paranoid about those phone calls? My money is on her being as sane as me.
5. Mantage: It's something we all wish for; the fast forward of the stale periods in our lives. But what happens if the whole lifespan is skipped through? Where would you be living if that were the case?
6. One for the Books: A janitor wakes up one day speaking fluent French, after that knowledge just pours in. This science fiction nugget has been adapted for television (not sure when or how, but I know I've seen it.) The janitor has a bad feeling about all that knowledge, and he's right to be worried.
7. The Holiday Man: This story had potential. It was about a man who poses as someone who works in marketing while his job involved something else altogether. Even though I liked it, I felt it lacked something. Not sure what.
8. Dance of The Dead: Was adapted for a Masters of Horror episode. Sorry to say it, but the adaptation worked better for me…maybe because the twist at the end of the dance made the story more personal. However, that episode wouldn't exist without this story.
9. Legion of Plotters: Ultimate paranoia trip. Picture this; every annoying incident that ever happened in your life, wasn't a coincidence…it was planned.
10. The Edge: A cute little story with a doppelganger concept. I can't recall a specific episode, but this one was adapted for the Twilight Zone.
11. The Creeping Terror: What would happen if Los Angeles took over the country (and eventually maybe the world as well)? I couldn't feel anything toward this story, I just wanted it to end. The idea was great, the delivery was too stiff, too scientific in its approach.
12. Death Ship: Three spacemen find their dead bodies on an alien planet. The question isn't how they got there, the question is: How will each one of them react to that discovery?
13. The Distributor: People live in a peaceful neighborhood where they should have been suspicious of each other, but aren't…until Theodore arrives. My only complain in this story is that it moved too fast with lots of names to remember. If you're reading it, keep track of the names to make sense of the action, because Theodore is creative.

By large, Shock 1 is a Richard Matheson classic, one that shouldn't be missed. For one thing, reading them in 2011 brings a sense of déjà vu by thinking back on how the 'then' future has evolved and by remembering the stories' adaptations.
In few years, I might read the book again, this is how strongly it hit me. Prefect buildup of settings, emotions, and way of thinking; each character sounds and feels real. End of the day, that's what a good piece of fiction is all about.

View all my reviews

16 November 2011

Guest blogging - How Sweet is Sweet Romance?

Today I'm a guest at my sister's blog (MunatyCooking) to discuss my understanding of sweet romance. I'm also sharing a yummy basboosah recipe


Here's an image of the finished product :-)

Please stop by and share and leave a comment to show your sweetness :-)

13 November 2011

Intricate Entanglement reviewed by Fictional Candy

Please check out Fictional Candy's opinion of Intricate Entanglement here:


Here's a tidbit:
"...It is definitely a fun and imaginative read!  I kept questioning myself if things were as they seem, and each turn of the page brought another surprise."

11 November 2011

Fancy a chance to win?




Seeker's trailer is being featured today on The Long and the Short of it
Answer my question for an extra entry into this week's contest.
Good luck!

10 November 2011

Guest blog: The Writing of THE ICE BRIDGE

Author Kathryn Meyer Griffith is sharing how the writing of The Ice Bridge started. Please join us and find out how sometimes authors' minds and imagination conspire to produce the worlds they create.
On to you, Kathryn. 
 The Writing of THE ICE BRIDGE
Eight years ago my husband, Russell, and I were celebrating our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary and decided to return to quaint Mackinac Island in Michigan. We’d been there a few years before, but just for a quick afternoon stopover on our way home from visiting family in Wisconsin. We’d loved the Island for the few hours we’d been on it and promised ourselves we’d go there again someday. So when we began to plan for our anniversary vacation we traveled back for a longer stay of six days. I’d made reservations months ahead at the Iroquois Hotel on the water’s edge of Lake Huron and when the time came, after packing up everything we’d need, we jumped in the car and took off.
The Island doesn’t allow cars, only bicycles, horses and snowmobiles (in the winter) so we left our vehicle in a Mackinaw City parking lot on the mainland and boarded the ferry that would take us across the water to the Island, our luggage and two bicycles in tow. It was much cheaper to bring our own bikes instead of rent them there.
It was late August and the Island was beautiful. Crowded with colorful, fragrant flowers, clomping horses, whizzing bicycles and, of course, lots of tourists. Fudgies as they were called because they came, purchased and devoured so much of the little town’s fudge.  
The Iroquois Hotel was lovely with its bright pastel colors and friendly service; a fancy in-house restaurant and our room with its wall of windows facing the lake. A lake that to me was as large as an ocean…because it went on forever.
Our six days there were heaven. We rode our bikes, peddling around the horses, carriages, and equine taxis, around the eight-mile in circumference island and enjoyed the sights. The friendly people. The breathtaking views of water, boats and woods. The fudge. We sped along West Bluff Road to the ritzy Grand Hotel (made famous in the 1980 romantic time travel movie Somewhere in Time with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve), ate the scrumptious and lavish tourists’ brunch there and afterwards, so full we could barely ride our bicycles, we gawked at the magnificent Victorian mansions with their elaborate gardens lining Lake Shore Drive.
We visited Fort Mackinac and listened amusedly to people talk about the ghost soldier some had reported seeing when twilight began to fall. My husband, a photography buff, even slipped out of our hotel room in the middle of one foggy night to get artsy pictures with our new digital camera of the fort, hoping to catch the ghost. He captured no ghost, but plenty of stunning photographs.
One night we even sat, spellbound, as a Lake Huron thunderstorm pounded wildly at our wall of windows. It was as if we were gazing at a tumultuous ocean.
Then one day someone, in a cubbyhole of a local hamburger joint over our lunch, said something about the ice bridge, as the islanders called it. During the dead of winter, when the straits froze over, it was a narrow path that stretched about four miles across the ice that separated Mackinac Island from the St. Ignace mainland. The locals would drive in old Christmas trees along the path to show the way, to show it was now safe. To them the ice bridge meant freedom to come and go for up to two months a year without paying ferryboat or airplane fees. To me it sparked an idea for my next book…what if someone crossed the ice bridge one wintry night and fell through the ice? And disappeared…maybe even died?
I started asking questions of the locals: Had someone ever fallen through the ice and perished? Turns out over the years, that yes, some people actually had. Fallen in. When the ice wasn’t firm enough. Or when they’d gone off the solid marked path. Or in a snowstorm. Some on snowmobiles. Some were saved, dragged out, and some had not been. Hmmm.
That’s all it took for the book to begin forming in my head. The rest of the trip I looked at the Island with different eyes. A writer’s eyes. Writer’s ears. I filed away the memories and the home-grown stories recounted to me. Though most of my earlier books were romantic horror, I’d written a couple of straight contemporary murder mysteries, Scraps of Paper and All Things Slip Away, a few years before and Avalon Books had published them. I’d quite enjoyed writing them.
So I thought I’d write another one with Mackinac Island and its real and fictional ghost tales as the background. I’d show the beauty of the island, changing of the seasons, what it was like in summer, fall and winter (tons of snow and ice), and describe the historical landmarks. I’d spotlight the quirky close-knit inhabitants and have the protagonist gather their imaginary spirit stories to put into the ghost book she was writing. I’d make the Island nearly a main character itself with its enigmas, water, snow, ice and fog.
The novel would be about a woman, Charlotte, jilted in love, coming back to heal and visit her poignant childhood playground, and her lonely Aunt Bess. She’d meet an Island cop, Matt, and together they’d not only fall in love but would embark on a great dangerous adventure together. There’d be a spunky old lady, Hannah, living next door and the four would be great friends. Until the old lady disappears on a winter’s night while crossing the ice bridge and the mystery would begin. Had Hannah been murdered by someone….how exactly…by whom…and why? The remainder of the book would be the unraveling of that mystery as the central characters try to keep from being killed themselves by the devious murderer behind Hannah’s death. I’d embed the Island’s so-called ghost tales throughout the book to spice up the story even more. So it’d be a romantic ghostly murder mystery. Ah, ha. I couldn’t wait to begin.
When my husband and I returned home, refreshed and happy, I started it right away, with the memories of lovely Mackinac still fresh in my mind. Gosh, how I’d loved that Island. A tiny piece of old-fashioned paradise. The book came easily to me. And so The Ice Bridge was born. Now with a stunning new cover by Dawne Dominique and edited by my publisher, Kim Richards Gilchrist, it’s out in the world for everyone to read and, I hope, enjoy.
Written this day of November 7, 2011 by the author Kathryn Meyer Griffith


BLURB 
Charlotte returns to her Aunt Bess and Mackinac Island, a quaint retreat that welcomes summer tourists and allows no cars (just horses and  bicycles) to renew herself and write about the island’s ghosts. She’s come to help Bess with her heartache,
an ended love with Shaun, and to renew a  friendship with neighbor Hannah.
In winter Mackinac closes down and everyone looks forward to the ice bridge that freezes across the Straits of Mackinac.
Until Hannah disappears into the icy waters crossing it.
Everyone says it’s an accident. But Charlotte and her admirer cop friend, Mac, don’t think so. Something isn’t right. Hannah was too smart to go off the safe path.
So it’s murder…but why…how…by whom?
In the end, it’s Mac – and perhaps Hannah’s ghost?– that saves Charlotte and Bess’s lives when the killer decides they’re too close to the truth and tries to kill them, too.


EXCERPT
By the time they crossed the ice bridge Charlotte had to struggle with the wind to stay on her machine. She was sick they hadn’t found Hannah, and she was frightened, tired and freezing. Her body had lost all sensation. She thought she had fingers in her gloves, but she wasn’t sure.
The ice bridge was eerier returning than when they’d come, if that was possible. An early night had descended, though the snow illuminated their surroundings enough so they could see. It almost made their headlights unnecessary. The ice was lit up as if there were lights glowing beneath it. Strange noises, sounding like distant moans and cries for help, rushed by her head.
She remembered what Hannah had said about the ice bridge ghosts. In her state of mind, she could imagine misty shapes flitting around the ice behind and around them, trying to tell them something. Did they know where Hannah was? If she looked quick enough she thought she saw them with their hollow ghost eyes in their transparent ghost bodies. It seemed they were closing in on her and Mac.
Hannah believed the ice bridge ghosts appeared when someone was about to die—or had died.
She panicked as her snowmobile sped over the ice, the wind behind shoving her along, faster and faster, as if it was trying to escape something. She was practically on top of Mac as a wave of vertigo hit her. She slowed down before she rammed him.
Her machine went into a skid and barely avoided hitting one of the evergreens. She took a couple of deep breaths to push the dizziness away. Out of the corner of her eyes, she thought she saw something standing on the ice to her right, lost in the particles of drifting snow. It looked like a shadow of a woman with her arms outstretched. Then it was gone. Yet for the split heartbeat it was there, it had scared the heck out of her. It had looked like Hannah. Impossible.
Charlotte wanted to get back to her aunt’s house where it was warm and safe—where there were no spectral shapes to taunt her. She’d never been out in a pre-blizzard before. She was beginning to understand what Mac had meant when he’d said that a whiteout could be disorienting. She wondered if it could also make a person see things that weren’t there.
She kept her attention on Mac’s silhouette when she wasn’t looking for a lost snowmobile and its rider. She didn’t want to see anything else. About three-fourths of the way to the other side, with land and trees in front of them, her eye caught unevenness in the snow a little ways off the secure path. Something in the air behind her, or was it in her head, whispered to stop. Look.
After honking the horn and blinking her lights three times, she swerved closer, but not too close, to the rough patch. She cut the engine and dug out a flashlight from the saddlebag to examine the irregularities. In the glow, she saw there were spikes in the blanket of snow covering the ice.
Had something gone through the ice there?
She was on her knees, with her face in her hands, when Mac joined her with another flashlight. He gently brought her to her feet and guided her to her snowmobile. He walked back to the rough patch. He examined it, getting as near as he dared. He directed his flashlight at the mound. Charlotte could tell by the way his shoulders slumped that he’d found something he hadn’t wanted to find.
He returned to her. The wind had died down to a whisper after the roar.
“Something’s gone through the ice in days past. It’s been broken and refrozen.”
“Hannah?” she breathed.
“Could be. It’s too early to know. Sometimes something goes through and crawls out, wet, scared and cold—but alive. It happens. Maybe a deer or a bear. There are bears on the mainland; did you know that? Every once in a while they wander onto the ice. Anyway, the unevenness doesn’t necessarily mean something is down there...doesn’t mean it’s Hannah, either.”
Mac put his arm around Charlotte’s shoulders. “Let’s go before the storm gets any worse and we get lost, too. When it passes I’ll get men out here to see if there’s anything down there. Come on.”
He drove beside her to shore, both of them staying so tight to the evergreens they clipped a few. She wanted to reach the woods, the solid ground of the island. She wanted to get off the ice bridge and leave what she feared she’d seen on the ice—the ghosts—behind them.

About the author

Kathryn Meyer Griffith has been writing for nearly forty years and has published 14 novels and 7 short stories since 1984 with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press in the horror, romantic paranormal, suspense and murder mystery genres. Learn more about her at www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith or www.authorsden.com/kathrynmeyergriffith or www.bebo.com/kathrynmeyerG and http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=1019954486       
Her published novels & short stories:
Evil Stalks the Night (Leisure 1984; Damnation Books 2012)
The Heart of the Rose (Leisure 1985; Eternal Press Author’s Revised Edition 2010)
Blood Forge (Leisure 1989; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out Februry 2012)
Vampire Blood (Zebra 1991; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out July 2011)
The Last Vampire (Zebra 1992; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2010)
Witches (Zebra 1993; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2011)
The Nameless One (short story 1993 Zebra Anthology Dark Seductions;
  Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2011)
The Calling (Zebra 1994; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out October 2011)
Scraps of Paper (Avalon Books Murder Mystery 2003)
All Things Slip Away (Avalon Books Murder Mystery 2006)
Egyptian Heart (The Wild Rose Press, 2007; Author’s Revised Edition 2011)
Winter's Journey (The Wild Rose Press 2008; Author’s Revised Edition 2011)
The Ice Bridge (The Wild Rose Press 2008; Author’s Revised Edition 2011)
Don't Look Back, Agnes short story (2008; ghostly short story Eternal Press Jan. 2012)
In This House (ghostly short story 2008; Eternal Press January 2012)
BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons (Damnation Books June 2010)
The Woman in Crimson (Damnation Books 2010)
The Complete Guide to Writing Paranormal Novels: Volume 1 2011 (I wrote the foreword)

08 November 2011

Book Review: Hell House by Richard Matheson

Hell HouseHell House by Richard Matheson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Hell House has a signature atmosphere that sucks me in as soon as I pick it up to continue reading. It took me back to a time when cell phones weren't a norm, where a book was the only means for passing time (no mp3 player nor Ipad, nor an e-reader.) I loved the book. It was to the point yet with enough vivid imagery to keep the reader glued to it because he/she is with the characters in the book... in Hell House.

If you're planning to read this book, just remember; every word counts. You'll get my meaning by the end of the book :-)



View all my reviews

29 October 2011

3 in 1- Guest blog + Giveaway + Contest

Author Kandie Delley is visiting with us today to share the importance of the Internet and how we can use it to our advantage. Not only authors, her suggestions cover other lines of business as well.


On to you, Kandie!

 

 Make the Net Work for You!
The internet has created several viable means to make a profit for nearly anyone.  It doesn't matter how unique your gifts, products, or interests are, there is bound to be someone in the world who will use, buy, or share your contribution with the world (if you’re getting the word out –Marketing). Put those people—consumers, readers, customers, etc—on the internet and they are more accessible than ever before. 
I learned to utilize information gained from hobbies, past creative pursuits, and newly developed skills towards my writing career. You really have to think outside the box. One of the best  experiences that helped me on my path to publishing was my actor's journey.
As an actor, I learned about having my own space on the “information super-highway.” By displaying demo reels, headshots, and resumes, this self-promotion increased my marketability and expanded my networking circle. I even acquired a film agent for representation! 
On the whole, using my experiences in film, music production, and freelance writing has provided me with imaginative ways to market my books and run a business. The main lesson I learned is, the world is your oyster. An idea or concept will take time, determination and, great promotional and marketing skills, but eventually, you will find your pearl.
Overall, technology is FABU—online videos, social media, podcasts, interactive forums, movies, and in some cases 3D! However, it can be TABOO if you’re not decisive. You’ll need to:
·       Maximize your time and resources using the least amount of manual labor.
·       Plan ahead by pre-scheduling blog posts and newsletters.
·       Strategize the marketing and promotions of your product by building your network & deciding who complements your style, product, and beliefs.
·       Recognize that you are a business from product development, admin and operations to customer service and public relations. 
Know your product and think about the five keywords that describe it. Use those key words in marketing and follow the tips I’ve given in my previous blogs (see Spooktacular Web Tour) to combine all that information to manage your digital brand! 
Happy Halloween! 

About Tempestuous Tales:
 
An urban legend becomes a nightmare when three women face tragic consequences:  an unexplainable vanishing, a sadistic marriage, and a visit from beyond the grave, after an ancient talisman grants their wishes. Tempestuous Tales  adds a modern twist to three classic short stories: The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs, Night Drive by Will F. Jenkins and Bluebeard’s Bride by Sarah Holland, based on the works of Charles Perrault.


Paperback coming November 2011. Download a free Tempestuous Tales mobile phone or desktop wallpaper here.
Tempestuous Tales is available on:
·  SMASHWORDS 

GIVEAWAY
Su has chosen a free MP3 music download of the song Breathe. You can listen to a sample here.
You can download Breathe here.
CONTEST
Leave a comment with your email address on this blog and be entered into a drawing to win free graphic design services worth $50 courtesy @KanDel_Media on twitter. For samples click here.
I will announce all winners on Nov. 1st on my blog.
Thanks again Su, for allowing me to visit your blog and have a blessed holiday season.

AUTHOR BIO
Kandie Delley 
Mystical lands, adventurous, kick-butt divas, and super-hot romances are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to author Kandie Delley's imagination. With the release of her paranormal suspense short story compilation, Tempestuous Tales, she is definitely capturing readers' attention. Her stories feature strong, witty, and successful women, their adventures and the men who love them. Kandie lives in North Texas and takes care of two rambunctious dogs, Isys and Ramsey. She works as a commercial accountant for a Dallas-based media company during the day. For more information visit:  http://www.kandiedelley.com