Friday, January 27, 2012

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: Lust on the Rocks by Dianne Venetta

Today we're welcoming author and avid gardener, Dianne Venetta to the blog on her tour with Goddess Fish Promotions for the romantic women's fiction novel, "Lust on the Rocks".

Dianne is giving away a $25 Barnes and Noble GC to one randomly drawn commenter. So comment today AND follow her tour (if you click on the banner over there on the left, it'll take you to a list of her tour stops) -- the more you read and comment, the better your odds of winning. You could be introduced to a great new author AND win a GC!

Time to ask Dianne some burning questions ...

If I'm not mistaken, I see you’re self-published. What are some of the pros and cons of doing so?

The pros are easy. When you realize your story may be a tough sell for agents because you mix genres, or venture outside traditional publishing guidelines, then self-publishing gives you the option to get your book out to readers. Ultimately it’s they who decide the winners and losers, not the major publishing houses.

On a personal note, it’s very rewarding for me to connect with readers who not only enjoy my stories and characters, but look forward to the next (a request I'm delighted to fulfill!) It’s truly one of those dream jobs for me.

The cons deal with workload. As an indie author I’m writer, publisher, book cover designer in addition to acting as the entire marketing and promotion department, PR spokesperson—the list goes on! I’m it. And as you can imagine, this takes time. But so long as I’m willing to commit the long hours, I’m good to go. I simply slap my "sales gal" positive attitude cap over my author cap, grab an energy bar and remind myself I’m on a marathon run. This path isn’t for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. *G*

Where did the idea for “Lust on the Rocks” come from?

Ideas for stories come to me and then the characters introduce themselves, sort of like channeling (in-SANE!). Once I get a handle on the theme, I begin to outline the story. I’m definitely a plotter, not a “pantster.”

However, as I write the story, things do change. Characters and motivation deepen while details and descriptions filter in to fill out the novel and give it substance. Lust on the Rocks is the result of my observations regarding my fellow career women.

It always floored me that women could be equal in every way as men—except how they conducted their sexual lives. I mean, a man is sexually active and he’s called a stud. A woman entertains a few partners and she’s called a slut. It’s ridiculous!

So I created Samantha Rawlings; my fun-loving, sex-having legal-ace heroine who lives by her own set of rules and thinks everyone should do the same.

Do you have a background in law? If not, what kind of research was required for this book?

I don’t have a background in law, but I do read a lot of legal thrillers! Just kidding. Romance is WAY more fulfilling to me than any legal thriller I know. My secret to legal research is the internet, and a close personal friend who’s earned her status as a legal eagle. She helps check my facts and give me the inside scoop when it comes to my courtroom scenes (thank you, Janet!).

Do you have any interesting writing habits or quirks?

I don’t think so. Unless you call keeping a full glass of water on my desk at all times to maintain brain cell hydration quirky. Or working with two open computer screens at all times—talk about multi-tasking! Then there’s the Spanish mood music I play in order to work myself into the right frame of mind for sex scenes…not to mention a great cue for my husband when he walks in the front door! Eh, it’s a living.

Give us some insight into normal day writing.

Each morning I begin my day as a referee/glorified taxi driver between my two children I affectionately refer to as Thing One and Thing Two (you wouldn’t believe the havoc they can wreak on a household!). Once I drop the them at school I return to my office and begin whacking away at the computer.

But it’s tough working at home. My husband shares the office with me and can be quite distracting. Between mood music talk and listening to the trials and tribulations of his day, it’s not my most productive writing time. Thank goodness I don't have any windows in my office! I'm already prone to over-imagination syndrome. Could you imagine if I had something other than my computer screen to gaze upon? To wistfully wonder and fantasize about…?

Sheesh. I'd never get anything done. But as it is, I do get things done. Surprisingly quite a bit. At night I tweet and facebook with my friends and fans and plan details for the following day which includes dinner—a real dent-maker in a gal’s schedule. Best to plan the menu ahead of time, otherwise the family gets a bit cranky. Wah. Don’t they understand I’m conducting a career over here?

Anything new coming up from you? Any WIPs or things getting ready for release?

The third in this series is set for release summer of 2012 and features an ambitious, competitive young woman trying to find her way in life. She knows what she wants (she thinks) and she’s hell bent on getting it (just not sure how!). As you can see, she’s somewhat of a bundle of indecision and insecurity, but aren’t many of us women when we’re young? Shoot, I didn’t know what I wanted to do for real until I was thirty!

Okay, that’s a lie. I changed course several times, just for fun. But there’s a particularly delightful hero waiting to help my girl wade through the murk of uncertainty and emerge strong and sure with a clear vision of not only what she wants from life, but what she needs. He has a surprising addition, as well.

After that, I have a straight WF planned, but it’s still in the framing stages so you’ll have to stay-tuned for details!

Anything you'd like to ask our readers?

How do you feel about my combining genres? Does romantic women’s fiction work for you or do you prefer romance and women’s fiction remain separate entities?

One case away from partnership, Samantha Rawlings is forced to share her high-profile case with a sexy younger man, whose eyes are on a different prize. In the best interests of her client, Sam opens the door to his strategy. Turns out, a little too far...

Victor Marin has ulterior motives. The defendant in her case holds the key to his revenge, and his last chance for justice. But as he chases old demons, he uncovers a powerful woman with no inhibitions, one he wants to possess for himself. But decidedly single, Sam wants no part.

Until Vic walks away.

Dianne lives in Central Florida with her husband, two children and part-time Yellow Lab--Cody-body! When not whacking away at her keyboard crafting her next novel you'll find her in their organic garden chasing grasshoppers and plucking hornworms all while drawing wild analogies between kids and plants and men. Definitely men.

A girl's gotta have fun, right?

When she's not knee-deep in dirt or romance, Dianne contributes garden advice for various websites and volunteers in her kids' school garden (a crazy existence to be sure). But at the end of the day, if she can inspire someone to stop and smell the roses--or rosemary!—kiss their child and spouse good-night, be kind to a neighbor and Mother Earth, then she's done all right. - the last being my garden blog

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman by JB Lynn

Today we're welcoming author J. B. Lynn to the blog on her tour with Goddess Fish Promotions for the romantic suspense available now from Avon Impulse, "Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman".

J. B. is giving away a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter. So comment today AND follow her tour (if you click on the banner over there on the left, it'll take you to a list of her tour stops) -- the more you read and comment, the better your odds of winning. You could be introduced to a great new author AND win a GC!

Okay J. B., time to grill you!

My first questions has to be: A talking lizard? Why? And what made you add this to your story (which doesn't sound like it's at all paranormal).

Maggie Lee has suffered a head injury when she first meets Godzilla, the talking lizard. She worries that she’s fallen victim to the insanity of her institutionalized mother. Godzilla being able to speak to her is indicative of how crazy her life is becoming as she contemplates becoming a hitwoman.

Godzilla is the character who questions her choices, nudges her along when she needs it, and is her closest confidant…despite the fact he can be a royal pain in the butt.

I decided to make the character a lizard because A: he’s domesticated…I really couldn’t see Maggie striking up a conversation with a groundhog…and B: he’s small enough for Maggie to take with her on her adventures. It could be challenging to sneak a cat or dog into certain places, but a lizard is pocket-sized.

Plotter or pantser?

I’m a plantser. I never start a book without knowing how it’s going to end and I always plot out the biggest and most important scenes ahead of time. However, I don’t outline every single scene in a twelve page single-spaced document the way some writers do. I like to enjoy a sense of discovery and spontaneity as I write. My process is very much like a road trip. I’ve got a map and know where I’m heading. I’ve got certain stops I MUST make (like stopping to see the world’s largest ball of string) but I’m open to exploring things that catch my eye (like a fun restaurant or snapping a photo of a brilliant sunset).

Some athletes have superstitions they follow -- like not shaving during the playoffs, or lucky socks. Do you have any interesting writing quirks?

I’m not terribly superstitious, but I’ve definitely got my quirks. I doubt they’re interesting, lol. I’ve got certain coffee mugs I prefer over others. If I’m writing on paper (yes, I still do that!) I prefer to use purple ink. I listen to the same song on an endless loop all day long and I pace incessantly when I’m stuck.

What's a typical day for you?

After the dogs have been taken care of and the first cup of coffee has been imbibed, I jump online to check out my blogs and . Then I check and answer email, visit Twitter, Facebook, etc., and read some of my favorite blogs.

After that I drink more coffee and start to worry. I’m a big worrier. I worry that what I wrote the day before is garbage. I worry that I won’t be able to write that day. And I worry I won’t be able to finish my book.

Then I write…and delete much of what I’ve written…then I write again….and delete….you get the idea. Most days I don’t end up with anything worth keeping until late afternoon or early evening. It’s not an efficient process, but it’s mine.

Do you tend to read in the same genre in which you write? Why or why not?

I’m one of those people who’s been a compulsive reader for most of her life, so I’ve got a pretty wide-ranging reading palate. I read in the genre I write because I’m a huge fan of it. (Why else would I write it???) None of my critique partners write in the same genre, which is great because they constantly surprise me. I also read quite a bit in other genres because I’m constantly in search of the “next great read”. So if anyone has any recommendations...

Maggie Lee is not your average hitwoman. For one thing, she’s never killed anyone. For another, after hitting her head in the car accident that killed her sister, her best friend is now a talking lizard--a picky eater obsessed with Wheel of Fortune.

Maggie, who can barely take care of herself, is desperate to help her injured and orphaned niece get the best medical care possible, so she accepts a mobster’s big cash offer to kill his son-in-law.

Paired with Patrick Mulligan, a charming murder mentor (who happens to moonlight as a police detective), Maggie stumbles down her new career path, contending with self-doubt, three meddling aunts, a semi-psychic friend predicting her doom, and a day job she hates. Oh, and let’s not forget about Paul Kowalski, the sexy beat cop who could throw her ass in jail if he finds out what she’s up to.

Most little girls dream of puppies, ponies and Prince Charming, but I grew up to write about murder, mayhem, and the killer next door.

I love stories. I love reading them and I love writing them.

Ever since I picked up my first crayon, I've been spinning tales in one form or another. I've published articles in magazines and on websites, short stories in print and online, and even optioned a screenplay.

Although fascinated by the dark and twisted, I'm also a sucker for tales of love conquering all. These dual interests show up in my stories as creepy, dangerous villains, and the heroines and heroes who must defeat them.

I write with a parrot peering over my shoulder and a dog curled up at my feet. When not writing, I spend the bulk of my time reading, cooking, training for half marathons (I walk more than I run, so don't go being all impressed) and playing Scrabble with my husband. (He tends to win more often than I do...I think he cheats!)

An admitted coffeeholic, I don't really care if the cup is half empty or half full...I just want to know whether it's regular or decaf!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: Stories to Enjoy by Tom Mach

Today we're welcoming author Tom Mach to the blog on his tour with Goddess Fish Promotions for the short story anthology, "Stories to Enjoy".

Tom is giving away a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter. So comment today AND follow his tour (if you click on the banner over there on the left, it'll take you to a list of his tour stops) -- the more you read and comment, the better your odds of winning. You could be introduced to a great new author AND win a GC!

Okay Tom, the blog is yours!

Ten Things Most People Don’t Know About Me
by Tom Mach

This is a topic that’s going to reveal more about me than maybe I even knew myself. Since I tend to live vicariously through my “good” (or not horribly evil) characters, I should probably begin there, discussing how the many characters in my 16 short stories in my book Stories to Enjoy told me a lot about myself.

In “Burning Faith,” Benito Lucchetti (a landscape worker for the Franciscans) feels obligated to buy a map from a greedy-eyed Bedouin who claims it will lead him to a sacred relic in Israel. With considerable doubt in mind, he makes the dig, not expecting to find anything. One thing people don’t know about me is that I sometimes am easily persuaded and will buy something just to get the person off my back.

In “The Lead Bird,” I, like Robin, worked in market research and had trepidations when I had to conduct a focus group with doctors. (My focus group came out exceptionally well, in case you are wondering.)

“The Crossword Puzzle Murders” came about when I realized I was a crossword puzzle fanatic. When I get the daily paper I ignore the news, run through the comics, and then settle in for the challenge of doing the puzzle. With the help of my wife, I almost always finish it.

“Real Characters” was based on a play I wrote by the same name. Most people don’t realize that I wrote a play that was actually produced for stage (unfortunately, not “Real Characters” but “Brain Trust”) and they also don’t know I was a lead actor in two community theater performances in an Ohio town.

People also probably don’t know that I tutored young children in writing and reading (which I still do) and I get a great deal of enjoyment in seeing them develop into better writers and readers. This prompted me to write a story called “Priscilla’s New Word”—which, by the way, won first place in a contest sponsored by the Kansas Author’s Club.

I also revealed a part of me in “Frozen History,” a story about a young man named Dante Lamprey facing imminent death due to a missile strike from Iran. Dante’s taking this rather calmly, figuring that there is nothing he can do about the situation anyway. I’ve become like Dante in my later years, not getting all wired up about what doomsayers predicted for the world. If it’s out of my control, I’m just wasting time worrying about it.

Another aspect of me that people don’t know about was shown my story “When Kansas Women Were Not Free.” This had to do with a woman named Jessica in 1867 who is shocked by the treatment Kansas hotel clerk showed toward former slaves as well as toward women. I am a strong advocate of equal rights and would have been both a suffragist as well as an abolitionist had I lived back in that era.

Most people don’t know I published my first short story in a magazine called Stamp World many years ago. I reprinted this story as “Stamp Prisoner” and it involves a psychic trying to escape from the law by hiding in a stamp.

“Doll House” came about because of my fascination for engineers who create mechanical things. Most people have no idea that before I became a writer I was a chemical engineer.

One last thing people don’t know is that I used to meet often with a fellow writer and have a cup of chai tea with him at a nearby café. Then one day I discovered that he had pancreatic cancer and died only a few weeks later. He was the inspiration for my short story entitled “Breakfast, Over Easy,” where my protagonist learns one day that his friend fails to meet with him in a diner—and he learns that his friend is dying of cancer. There’s more to that story, but I’d like you to read it so you can learn the dilemma he now faces.

This unique collection of 16 short stories written by prize-winner Tom Mach includes stories such as "Real Characters," which is about a writer who gets his wish--that his characters come alive.... "Breakfast, Over Easy" makes you wonder about loyalty in the face of temptation.... "When Kansas Women Were Not Free" takes you to a time when women were less free than former males slaves.... "Son" make you think differently about compassion. One novelist describes STORIES TO ENJOY as "memorable and intriguing, with O. Henry twists that are sure to surprise and entertain."

Tom Mach wrote two successful historical novels, Sissy! and All Parts Together, both of which have won rave reviews and were listed among the 150 best Kansas books in 2011.Sissy! won the J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award while All Parts Together was a viable entrant for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Award. He also wrote a collection of short stories entitled Stories To Enjoy which received positive reviews. Tom’s other novels include: An Innocent Murdered, Advent, and Homer the Roamer.

His poetry collection, The Uni Verse, won the Nelson Poetry Book Award. In addition to several awards for his poetry, Writer’s Digest awarded him ninth place in a field of 3,000 entrants.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Virtual Book Tour, Review and Giveaway: With This Kiss by Victoria Lynne

This review is done in conjunction with the author's virtual tour with Coffee Beans and Love Scenes promotions. The author is giving away an eBook copy of "With This Kiss" to one lucky commenter here today, so leave a comment! Also, click the banner above to follow her tour and find more chances to win.

(A full length historical romance, self-published)

Beauty and the beast: they were the scandal of the ton. All eyes feasted on the beautiful flame-haired gambler in London’s most infamous club. But Julia Prentisse was interested only in the rake-turned-recluse whom they now called “The Beast.” She lured him out of the crowded club to a deserted warehouse, where she made her scandalous offer: If he married her and protected her from her uncle, she would help him capture the arsonist who had ruined his life.

An act of heroism had left Morgan St. James burned, scarred for life, but Julia’s bold gaze lit other fires he had long suppressed. And now this glorious stranger was his bride. But when he tried to claim his husbandly rights, she demanded three months grace—three months to know a stranger’s mind, to touch a stranger’s soul, to go where no woman had ever gone before. Into his heart…

Morgan St. James, fire-scarred former rake and tortured hero is given an offer he can't refuse: marriage to a beautiful, intelligent woman. With his past and his scars, he never believed he'd be in this situation.

But Julia is desperate. Her uncle is trying to marry her off to undesirable men. She has no dowry (publically) and her family has a shady past, so no good, desirable man would want her. She's done some research on Morgan St. James, and believes him to be an honorable man. More, she has an ace in the hole: clues to the identity of the arsonist who started the fire that burned Morgan and killed many of his much-loved servants.

With the marriage agreement starts a well-written, fun, tension-filled novel. Julia isn't ready to jump into the marriage bed, and Morgan wants an heir, but agrees to wait three months. This sets the stage for romance and loads of sexual tension.

I love how matter-of-fact Julia is about ... well, everything. She's honest (sometimes brutally so), caring and impassioned. She has things she believes in (she's quite a suffragette!) and does whatever it takes to support those things.

Morgan spends a good deal of the book a bit mystified by his bride. She's nothing like the women he's known, and he's not entirely certain how to handle her. Of course, she doesn't want to be "handled" and he learns quickly that she won't accept being forbidden to do anything, and soon becomes more intriuged by Julia than mystified. It was fun to watch such an alpha hero trying to keep up with the heroine for a change. He didn't rule the roost, no matter how hard he tried.

I admit I'm not a huge reader of historical romances, and require them to be both well-written and to include a bit more than simply romance in order to enjoy them. With This Kiss meets those requirements. This book grabbed my attention from the prologue and held on tight. It had the occasional bumps in the road, as most books do, but it never took me long to get right back on track. The search for the arsonist, the development of their relationship, their banter and, of course, the heat between them kept me quite riveted.

With This Kiss is a book that will satisfy any romance lover with its interesting plot, proficient writing and sigh-worthy ending. I'm glad I read it.

I give it 4 flowers.

About the author: Victoria Lynne is the author of five historical romance novels. She’s received two RITA Award nominations, and has consistently earned Romantic Times’ “Top Pick” award. Called “A Fabulous Storyteller!” by Rendezvous Magazine, her work consistently draws rave reviews and continues to attract new readers. Her books have been translated into German, Italian, and Spanish, and are currently available online through Kindle and Nook.

Ms. Lynne lives in Vermont with her husband and two children. When she’s not plotting her next novel, she loves to get away from her keyboard to ski and hike.

Visit Victoria on Facebook at:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Virtual Tour and Giveaway: On the Rim of Love by Marie Astor

Today we're welcoming author Marie Astor to the blog on her tour with Goddess Fish Promotions for the contemporary romance, "On the Rim of Love".

Marie is awarding two prizes to randomly drawn commenters during her tour: a sterling silver plum quartz necklace and earring set, and a sterling silver aventurine necklace that were custom designed for the tour. So comment today AND follow her tour (if you click on the banner over there on the left, it'll take you to a list of her tour stops) -- the more you read and comment, the better your odds of winning. You could be introduced to a great new author AND win a prize!

Check them out:

Okay Marie, take it away!

Hi, thank you very much for inviting me to It’s Raining Books. My name is Marie Astor and I am the author of contemporary romance novels, On the Rim of Love and Lucky Charm, and a short story collection, A Chance Encounter and Other Stories.

I see you're self-published. What are some of the pros and cons of doing so?

Traditional publishing has the advantage of mainstream marketing and a vast array of support resources for authors. However, self-publishing gives the author greater creative freedom – it’s wonderful to know that I am in control of my books and the ideas that I want to write about. With the recent success of many self-published authors, I thought that self-publishing on Kindle would be a wonderful opportunity to introduce my books to readers.

Where did the idea for "On the Rim of Love" come from?

I am always thinking of novel plots involving love stories. Two years ago I went to British Columbia for the first time and was smitten by the beauty of the region – I immediately started thinking that it would be the perfect setting for a love story. Slowly, the outline of On the Rim of Love started to materialize in my mind... I put the idea on hold for some time, and two years later, On the Rim of Love was written.

Do you have any interesting writing habits or quirks?

I do my best writing really late at night – does that count?

Of course it does! Give us some insight into a normal day (or should I say 'night'?) writing.

I try to write every day. Sometimes life gets in the way, but I strive to devote at least two hours to writing / editing (depending on the stage of the manuscript I’m working on) every day.

Do you have anything new that you're working on? If so, please tell us about it.

I am currently reviewing the final draft of my next contemporary romance – it is a love story about letting go of one’s inhibitions, finding true love and learning to tango. Stop by my website,, if you would like to sign up to the distribution list to receive updates on future book releases and events.

How about a blurb and excerpt?

Maggie Robin has been dating the irresistibly good-looking, successful Jeffrey Preston for two years. But when Jeffrey proposes marriage a week after Maggie’s college graduation, she is no longer sure if she wants to marry a workaholic TV producer.

Her doubts culminate when during a ski trip to British Columbia, Maggie meets Taylor Denton, a handsome, free-spirited big mountain skier who is the complete opposite of Jeffrey. It does not take Maggie long to realize that she has fallen in love with Taylor and she decides to break off her engagement with Jeffrey. But just when she thinks she has found the love of her life, an ill-fated misunderstanding tears Maggie and Taylor apart.

A week later, Maggie is told that Taylor has died in a tragic ski accident; yet, her heart refuses to believe in Taylor’s death. When Maggie returns to Taylor’s native town, she learns that Taylor is indeed alive, but has been seriously injured. Resolved to bring her lover back to life Maggie stands by Taylor’s side, convincing him to embrace life again.

“Taylor, look. Isn’t he beautiful?” Maggie pointed at the regal bird that was circling in vast, sweeping loops, oblivious to their presence.

Taylor looked up. “He does look magnificent.”

“Doesn’t he look free, as though nothing could ever touch him?” Maggie murmured wistfully.

“You think that eagle doesn’t have anything to worry about?” Taylor looked at her with his piercing green eyes. “He’s probably circling there like that because he is searching for food.”

As if in testament to Taylor’s words, the eagle surged downward in a swift, sharp dive and soared back up several moments later, clasping his catch in his claws, beating his wings hastily as he made his way into the sky.

“I guess you’re right,” Maggie conceded, her voice ringing with disappointment. “It’s just that for a moment he seemed so free up there.”

“I know what you mean, but birds are anything but free,” said Taylor, “try hunting for food all the time, not knowing when you are going to eat next, being cold, watching out for predators. Humans, on the other hand, are free.” Taylor paused, looking at Maggie intently. “We can do anything we want – the sky is the limit and there’s no one here to stop us.”

“You really believe that?” asked Maggie.

“Of course I believe it. Don’t you?”

“I’d like to,” said Maggie quietly, and then, meeting Taylor’s gaze, added more assertively, “After today anything seems possible.”

More about Marie:

Marie Astor is a die-hard romantic who wholeheartedly believes in true love, which is why she writes in the contemporary romance genre. Marie is the author of contemporary romance novels, On the Rim of Love, Lucky Charm, and a short story collection, A Chance Encounter and Other Stories. In addition to being a writer, Marie is an avid hiker, an excellent swimmer, a good skier, and a capable badminton player. Stop by Marie’s website: to sign up for book releases and events.

Marie can also be found on Facebook:
and Twitter: @marieastor.

Books by Marie Astor:

On the Rim of Love – a contemporary romance about unexpected love.

Lucky Charm – a humorous contemporary romance about love, luck and friendship.

A Chance Encounter and Other Stories – a short story collection about love and everyday life.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday

Coming January 24th from Avon Impulse

Maggie Lee is not your average hitwoman. For one thing, she’s never killed anyone. For another, after hitting her head in the car accident that killed her sister, her best friend is now a talking lizard--a picky eater obsessed with Wheel of Fortune.

Maggie, who can barely take care of herself, is desperate to help her injured and orphaned niece get the best medical care possible, so she accepts a mobster’s big cash offer to kill his son-in-law.

Paired with Patrick Mulligan, a charming murder mentor (who happens to moonlight as a police detective), Maggie stumbles down her new career path, contending with self-doubt, three meddling aunts, a semi-psychic friend predicting her doom, and a day job she hates. Oh, and let’s not forget about Paul Kowalski, the sexy beat cop who could throw her ass in jail if he finds out what she’s up to.

This book appeals to me on nearly every level:

Suspense? Check!
Romance? Check!
Warped sense of humor? Check!

Thankfully, it comes out VERY soon, and I can nab it for my nook. I. Can't. Wait.

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: YA Books for those People Who Don't Read YA

Today's "Top Ten" Topic is: Top Ten Books I'd Recommend To Someone Who Doesn't Read X

If you've never read Young Adult, they aren't just for kids any more. If you like mystery, paranormal, romance, adventure, etc. you can find a YA book to suit your desires. Some you might want to try are listed below:

1. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare: Check out this series. This book is the first in the author's Infernal Devices series. She also has an excellent series, The Mortal Instruments, an urban fantasy set in present day London; Infernal Devices revisits the same world, but 150 years earlier.

2. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins: A futuristic set of novel with the ultimate in reality games. The first is good...the last book in the trilogy is the best. This is one series that kept getting better.

3. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs: unique in that the story in sprinkled with some really odd photographs. Not sure, but this reads like it might be the first in a series. I hope so.

4. The Giver by Lois Lowry: What happens in a perfect world where everyone is happy? Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth.

5. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness: When historian Diana Bishop opens a bewitched alchemical manuscript in Oxford’s Bodleian Library it represents an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordinary life. Though descended from a long line of witches, she is determined to remain untouched by her family’s legacy. She banishes the manuscript to the stacks, but Diana finds it impossible to hold the world of magic at bay any longer. This wasn't catalogued as YA in my library, but it's on some YA lists so I thought I would include it here.

6. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen: Historical romance that has been described as "Jane Austen meets Gossip Girls". Another excellent YA series.

7. Graveminder by Melissa Marr: A town makes a contract to stay safe...and the responsibility rests on the shoulder of one young woman.

8. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley: Although technically not a YA book, the protagonist is 11-year-old Flavia de Luce. Excellent mystery series!

9. Magnolia League by Katie Crouch: a YA paranormal that doesn't depend on vampires, zombies, or other creatures of the night. hen her free-spirited mother dies in an accident, 16-year-old Alex Lee must leave her life on a Californian commune to live with her wealthy grandmother in Savannah, Georgia. While her mother had kept her in the dark about her past, Alex is the rightful, if unwilling, future leader of the Magnolia League, a debutante society. In The Magnolia League, she soon learns that not everything is as it appears to be among the Magnolias, as they made a pact with a legendary hoodoo family. The Magnolias might enjoy the benefits of beauty, youth, and power, but at what hidden cost? So looking forward to the rest of the books in this series.

Yep... I know that's only 9.... if you know another YA book I should read... tell me about it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Musing Mondays: Devices?

This week’s musing asks…

What devices –if any– do you read books on? Do you find it enjoyable, or still somewhat bothersome? Or: If you only read the print books, why haven’t you chosen to read on any devices?

We all three of us own Nooks -- and love them. Speaking for myself, I find that it's easier on my eyes to read on the Nook, and for whatever reason (and I've confirmed this with several other Nook/Kindle owners) I actually read faster on it.

The only type of book I still prefer in print is non-fiction/reference books. Those types of books I like to highlight and bookmark and make notes in.

But for fiction of all kinds, I prefer reading on my Nook (or on my Android phone, which works quite well, too!).

For all you folks who swear you'll never change: I never thought I would either. Nothing beats the feel of a book in my hands, the smell of paper or the sound of the pages turning, right?

Wrong. Larger books make my hands ache after too long. I can't stash them in my purse for waiting at doctor's appointments. There are so many benefits to an eBook reader, not to mention instant gratification when I want a book (and I can even borrow eBooks from my library!). Nevermind the fact that having an eBook reader has opening my eyes the the millions of short stories and novellas out there that are eBook format only.

I still read print, but I prefer eBooks. Our library loans four different types of eBook readers. You should check to see if yours does, too. Try before you buy!

Happy reading.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Virtual Tour Review and Giveaway: Blood Veins by Brian Young

(A full length, science fiction novel published by Rogue Phoenix Press)

This review is done in conjunction with the author's virtual tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. Brian is giving away a $25 Amazon GC to one lucky commenter during his tour, so comment today AND follow his tour (if you click on the tour banner above, it'll take you to a list of his tour stops) -- the more you read and comment, the better your odds of winning. You could be introduced to a great new author AND win a GC!

A black wave has passed over the thriving kingdom of Larista. Mysterious invaders calling themselves the Dolus have swept over the land laying waste to everything in their paths and leaving ghost towns in their wake. No one knows where they came from and no one knows what their purpose is. Tasting nothing but defeat after defeat the light of hope is fading in the kingdom; but the guerrilla forces resisting the Dolus invasion have received new information. This news has provided a small glimmer that could possibly spark into something more. Captain Maximus Rex leads a daring rescue mission deep in the Laristan forests to save the lone surviving member of the royal family.

Once freed Prince Alexander Novelle along with his friends and comrades face a perilous journey deep behind enemy lines. Their destination is Castle Varanasi. The once proud Laristan capital, gateway to heaven and salvation, lies in ruins under Dolus occupation. Mysterious assassins, underworld savages and renegade Dolus survivors stand between them the answers they seek. What they find there will shatter their perceptions and lead to unknown perils none of them are ready to face.

Prince Alexander, the last member of the royal family, is with his guerrilla force attempting to find out who the attacking forces are, and how to stop them. He and his group head back towards the castle with the intent to recapture it.

So many things happens on the way back that it keeps you on the edge of your seat. Just about the time you think you know what is going on, it changes. There were times I felt as though I knew how a particular scene was going to end, and I was always wrong. As the story progressed, it was so tense and exciting with all the additional characters appearing or not showing themselves, I had little time for the tension to ease. Even when I was able to relax a little, I was really waiting for something else to happen, and it usually did.

Several times while reading this story, I actually had to put it down so I could catch my breath. It was really suspenseful and I could never figure out how it would end.

This author has a way of making his characters come to life so that you can really get to know them and begin to understand their reasons for doing what they are doing. He even made the bad guys real and helped you understand them also. Sometimes I wanted to stop reading because I had things to do, or because I wanted to prolong the story, but I also wanted to know what was really going on and how it would end.

Then, more than halfway through the story, I found out something very significant about this strange world and just what it really was. It made the story even more exciting. This book has the feel of a movie with vivid descriptions, exciting plot and a cast of interesting characters that I truly cared about. I can't wait for the next book in the series!

I give this book a 4 flower rating.

FTC Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author and Goddess Fish Promotions in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: Claws and Effect by Amanda Arista

Today we're welcoming author Amanda Arista to the blog on her tour with Goddess Fish Promotions for the paranormal romance available from Avon Impulse, "Claws and Effect", book two in her Diaries of an Urban Panther series.

Amanda is giving away a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter. So comment today AND follow her tour (if you click on the banner over there on the left, it'll take you to a list of her tour stops) -- the more you read and comment, the better your odds of winning. You could be introduced to a great new author AND win a GC!

Okay Amanda, take it away!

Give us an elevator pitch for your book Claws and Effect.

After taking down the Primo of the city, Violet thought life was going to get better. After four assassination attempts, she’s thinking not so much. The old Pride wants her dead. Her boyfriend wants a traditional relationship. A pack of lost mongrels want a leader. And a new panther comes prowling into town new to the shift needs a teacher. So how does a girl manage a real job, a relationship with a non-shifter and a Legacy that burns like hellfire within her?

Where did the idea for your book come from, and did you originally envisage more than one book in a series? Do you intend to write more Violet Jordan stories?

The original Idea for the first book came from a simple question: what would you do if you (a normal person) were trapped in the back alley with a monster? Violet’s initial reaction was what I would have done: thrown my shoe and run like hell. I knew that Violet’s story wasn’t over after the first book. She’d come into her power, but she’d done some damage in the process, to herself, to the city, to her new boyfriend. Hence the second book. What happen in the aftermath of her triumph? Even after this book, I don’t think all of Violet’s questions are answered, so yes, I can see even more Diaries in the future.

Describe the sights, sounds and scents we might experience if we were to visit Violet when she’s with other shifters during a normal day.

Violet practically lives at her coffee shop, so there is always the ambient smell of coffee around. She tends to sit in a front window, curled up in the sunlight with her magical borders at half mast, half way down to show off and halfway up just in case she needs to hide. When another shifter comes around, it’s like a brush of fur or feathers up her neck. Her awareness rises and she’s got them on her radar. If one of her pack members joins her, they greet her with a brush of energy which to Violet smells different, feels different for each person. Her best friend Jessa feels like cool raindrops and smells like roses. Her mentor Iris feels like cashmere and smells like dust. Her pack members smell like new born puppies and chewed rawhide.

How do you go about developing your characters? Do you normally start with a character or the plot?

I always start with character. For me, the character drives the plot. Without a well-formed character, how are you are the writer supposed to know what obstacles to put in their way? How are you going to know what they can survive or what would test them the most? The plot just can’t be hard to survive, it has to be hard for the character to survive.

Violet Jordan was pretty welled formed when I met her. I knew her family background, her schooling, what her vice was and what her soft spot was. She was damaged and hilarious, but it wasn’t until I really started to test her that her fierceness came out and I knew who she was. That’s when I knew what she could handle, how she would handle it, and what would be her ultimate betrayal.

Is there any part of the writing process that you find particularly challenging and why?

Editing is always challenging. I tend to write the novel really fast and then go back and word-smith it all. However, I change and change and change and get taken in all different directions and sometimes I get a little confused as to which version of the story I’m actually going with. I had to reread the first book before I went into the second book because I’d changed so much from the original story, but in the end, I’m always glad that I worked hard to get her in the best shape that I could.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Neil Gaiman is my favorite author. I love his world building. American Gods blew me away. He just takes one normal thing and then takes it a million steps in a direction and goes for it. His characters are empathetic even though sometimes its Lucifer himself. I LOVE HIM and if I ever get the chance to meet him I will be so tongue tied that I won’t be able to say it.

What would YOU like to ask our readers?

What would you do in a dark alley if you were faced with a monster?

Thanks for having me at here. Feel free to comment or leave a question. I’ll be checking in all day. And if you do comment, you’ll be entered in a chance to win a $25 gift certificate.

Dear Diary,

Once I took down Haverty, the Primo of the city, I thought life was going to get better. After four assassination attempts, I’m thinking not so much. Haverty's pack needs a new leader and I've just about run out of reasons why I'm not right for the job. Besides, having loyal followers would definitely help me fight off whoever's out for my blood. Especially since my boyfriend is always busy playing White Hat to every wanderer except me. It's nice that he thinks I'm tough enough to handle my own business, but a little extra back up would be nice. So now I just need to figure out how to mentor new shifters, run a pack, keep my "real" job, and have some sort of personal life. I guess it's all in a day's work for this horror movie writer-turned-shapeshifting panther.

Amanda was born in Illinois, raised in Corpus Christi, lives in Dallas but her heart lies in London. Good thing she loves to travel! The summer of second grade, she read every book in the young adult section of the library, so she started making up her own stories and hasn’t stopped.

She has a husband who fights crime, one dog who thinks he’s a real boy, and another who might be a fruit bat in disguise. When not writing, Amanda often dreams of co-opening an evil bakery and sell despicable desserts. Her particularly favorites are larvaceous lemon bars and sinful cinnamon streusel.

She spends her weekends writing at coffee shops, practicing for the day that caffeine intake becomes an Olympic sport, and plotting character demises with fellow writers Wolvarez, Killer Cupcake and Keith (names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent).
Facebook- Amanda Arista, Author
Twitter: @pantherista

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: Stripped by Tori St. Claire

Today we're welcoming author Tori St. Claire to the blog on her tour with Goddess Fish Promotions for the erotic romantic suspense novel available from Berkely Heat, "Stripped".

Tori is giving away a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter. So comment today AND follow her tour (if you click on the banner above, it'll take you to a list of her tour stops) -- the more you read and comment, the better your odds of winning. You could be introduced to a great new author AND win a GC!

First off, what's "Stripped" about?

Body of secrets…

As a member of the CIA’s elite, Black Opals, Natalya Trubachev must live a lie, working undercover as the lover of Dmitri, a Russian mob boss. His business is trafficking vulnerable Las Vegas strippers overseas for twisted sex games. Natalya’s business is to blow the ring wide open and bring down Dmitri and his American contacts. But the stakes are raised when she learns that the next target is her own sister Kate, a dancer in the famed club Fantasia. Only now does Natalya realize how personal her mission has become, and how far she’s willing to go to complete it.

Body of lies…

The manager of Fantasia is Brandon Moretti, an undercover detective who keeps a close eye on his girls, and an even closer one on his sinfully sensual hire. For Natalya, working the club could be the break she’s been waiting for. But for Moretti, Natalya is a possible link to a killer. Only he never counted on her being so lethally seductive or so dangerous to get close to. As every forbidden pleasure between them is stripped away, his own secrets threaten their security, but it’s Natalya’s that could destroy them both.

Oh, WOW!! Sounds really amazing. I'm sure you'll share an excerpt later, right? Now, time to find out more about YOU.

What are the challenges of small press, standard print, and two pen names?

I think it goes without saying that meeting deadlines is probably the most challenging aspect. But in many ways, my situation has been blessed, and while the diversity may seem challenging on the surface, it really isn’t quite so demanding.

First, this last year, I’ve been in the lucky situation that all of the books contracted with both my standard print houses (Berkley and Tor) under both pen names (Claire Ashgrove and Tori St. Claire), were all written, except one, at the signing of the contract.

Secondly, I’m extremely prolific, and I write quickly. So in one sense, the diversity is mandatory for me. I have a wonderful arrangement with my agent to accommodate this, and she understands that for me to keep enthusiastic about projects, I need to write different genres. Otherwise, if I’m locked in at one thing, it will quickly become stagnant for me.

Third, I didn’t choose a secondary pen name to “hide” behind. I chose it in the interest of clarity for my readers. I didn’t want someone who wasn’t a fan of erotic romance to pick up a book by Claire Ashgrove and be shocked. So Tori St. Claire came about to keep that distinction present. Because I openly tie myself to both names, that’s made promotions far easier. For instance – I have one Twitter account. If my readers want to know me, I’m in one spot. I do have two different blogs, two different websites, but again that’s more content related, and on each you’ll find obvious links to my alter-ego. It’s a little more work that way, but not terribly, given my background in web design and maintenance.

It’s far more difficult to keep the cat out of my lap or off my keyboard when I’m at the computer, than it is to keep up with all my to-dos!

Where did Stripped idea come from?

The very core, very basic idea came from the Ke$ha song, Take it Off. It gave me a visual of a scene (that didn’t make it into the final creation) that set the stage (pun not intended) for a plot around a strip club. I can’t begin to put into words where all the intricacies came from. Russia is a fascination and has been for many, many years. It was somewhat natural to incorporate it in my writing. Female spy? That’s a product of my fascination with 007, which began as early as I can remember while watching Bond with my father. Only, I prefer my characters far darker than 007, and I made a few adjustments there to incorporate that edginess. In all truth, the story just flowed, and layers built on layers without a lot of pre-planning.

What kind of research was required?

Not too terribly much. The vast majority was done on human trafficking and creating the plausibility that would have America as a source country, as opposed to a destination country. I also had to do some digging into which Russian mafia outfit I wanted to use, and that led to a lot of reading about different organizations, what they had done, people involved, as well as their scope of influence. I did do some research on guns. I did a smidgeon of research on Dubai. And I had a heck of a time window-shopping online to determine what kind of car Brandon Moretti was going to drive.

Interesting writing habits or quirks?

Mmm… sadly… other than a coffee IV, no. As I mentioned above, I do have to fight the cat. I don’t mind that he likes my lap, and he’s 17, so I try to cater to him whenever possible. But I can’t sit still that long, and changing position in the chair is near impossible when he’s curled up for the long haul. Usually I throw him a sweatshirt and put him on the table, and that seems to pacify us both.

I like snacks nearby. Junk food. Particularly chocolate. If I don’t at least have chocolate in the fridge to get up and munch on, it’s a very sorry day in relation to production.

I used to be able to write in almost any environment. Now I find I prefer silence. So usually I write when the kids are abed, the critters have all finished their last potty-break outside, and everyone is in snooze mode, except me, the persistent night owl. I sprawl out with the laptop on my dining room table from around 10pm until 2am – on the weekends frequently 4 am.

I also frequently talk to myself while I’m typing.

What’s coming up?

I have a lot of things coming up in 2012.

As Tori St. Claire, the second book in the Black Opals series, LIE TO ME, will release this year. I’m working on some other projects there too and have a couple proposals on my editor’s desk. Fingers crossed!

As Claire Ashgrove, I released the first book in The Curse of the Templars, IMMORTAL HOPE, at the same time STRIPPED released for Tori. The second book in that dark paranormal romance series will also release in 2012.

Further, I had a moment of insanity at the end of August last year, and decided I would start a series of paranormal short stories as Claire Ashgrove – Inherited Damnation. Eight total. Book 4 is slated for early Feb and the remaining 4 follow the Pagan holidays throughout the year.

I’m also working on some independent projects with a couple fellow authors. And I have been tinkering with a fantasy story that is completely unrelated to any other project or genre I’ve written in before. If luck is in my favor, I’ll get to finish that in 2012.

Last but not least, Claire also has a proposal in for what is, at the core of its being, a sci-fi theme. That’s all I’m going to say there.

Anything you'd like to ask our readers?

I’m curious – do you find yourself following the author if he/she writes under different pen names, or do you primarily find yourself following the work/series/genre that you first fell in love with?

Oooh.... good question! I can't wait to see how it's answered. Thanks for letting me pick your brain a bit. Now ... about that excerpt...

Sitting forward, Brandon folded his hands on the stack of papers atop his desk. “You worked with Kate. That was when? Ten years ago? Have you danced since then?”

“Fifteen, and no. But I’m quite capable.” Only because Dmitri made her dance for him. She supposed she could consider that a benefit. If he hadn’t insisted on private pole dances, her body would have forgotten how.

The reproachful arch of a dark eyebrow hinted at doubt. “What makes you certain you can compete with the girls who’ve been doing this for years?” His gaze dropped to her breasts, then slid slowly back up to lock with hers. “Beyond the obvious.”

Natalya’s body flushed with heat. She crossed the opposite leg over her opposite knee, unsettled by the blatant appreciation in those tawny eyes. How many times had Dmitri looked at her with the same suggestion in his gaze?

How long had it been since she’d liked being stripped bare with a mere glance?

The sudden tingling of her skin disturbed her. Moretti could very well be one of Dmitri’s faithful—he had more than one cop on the take. While Dmitri understood her job required a bit of . . . feminine finesse . . . he’d only grant her so much leeway. If she gave him a reason to suspect her allegiance, he’d slice her throat before she could see the knife glint. And the way her body was warming beneath Brandon’s heated stare spelled trouble.

Determined to ignore his blatantly sexual gaze, she focused on the small white scar across Moretti’s chin and dredged up every reason she could think of to convince him into giving her the job. “I danced well. Was the crowd favorite for a while. I held the job all through college, and two years in, the girls were coming to me for dance suggestions, costuming, on-the-spot fixes for breakdowns. Advice on how to handle the more exuberant customers.” She took a breath and began counting items off her fingers. “I hired. I fired. I kept the drugs out of the dressing rooms. I trained the girls on the pole—Kate said you needed someone strong with the pole. My core body strength—”

“You’re hired.”

Natalya snapped her mouth shut. Slowly, she blinked. “What?”

“You’re hired.” Moretti stood, stretching out his muscular thighs that even his loose denim jeans couldn’t disguise. He shoved his left hand into his hip pocket. Against her will, Natalya’s gaze dropped to his crotch. Her breath caught at the tightening of his fly, the hard ridge that evidenced arousal.

When she yanked her gaze back to Brandon’s, his eyes flashed dark gold, telling her he knew exactly where she’d been looking. His voice, however, belied his awareness. “We open in three hours. I’ll need you here early to help get the girls settled in.”

“The girls?”

He fished a set of keys out of the top right desk drawer and held his fist over her hand. “These are to the dressing rooms. I have a copy, you have a copy. No one else. Kate’s our star. She goes on at ten, and every two hours after. Jill follows. Beyond that, you’ll have to talk to the girls.”

Natalya moved her hand beneath his, palm up, waiting for the keys. “And me?”

“I need a housemom more than I need a dancer.” His fingers brushed the base of her wrist.

Ignoring the chill that raced to her shoulder, she blinked again. “A housemom?” He had to be kidding! She needed to be onstage. Scoping out the crowd. Looking for Discovery, as he was bound to be looking for potential targets.

Brandon lifted his hand a fraction. “A housemom.”

Or the job wasn’t hers. The hard line of his chiseled jaw voiced what he didn’t say.

Hell, not if she had anything to say about it. She was here to crack a case, and she couldn’t do that locked away in the back of the house.

About Tori:

Tori St. Claire grew up writing. Hobby quickly turned into passion, and when she discovered the world of romance as a teen, poems and short stories gave way to full length novels with sexy heroes and heroines waiting to be swept off their feet. She wrote her first romance novel at seventeen.

While that manuscript gathered dust-bunnies beneath the bed, she went on to establish herself as a contemporary, historical, and paranormal author under the pen name, Claire Ashgrove. Her writing, however, skirted a fine line between hot and steamy, and motivated by authors she admired, she pushed her boundaries and made the leap into erotica, using the darker side of human nature and on-the-edge suspense to drive grittier, sexier, stories.

Her erotic romantic suspense novels are searingly sensual experiences that unite passion with true emotion, and the all-consuming tie that binds -- love.

Tori can be found at:
Twitter: @claireashgrove

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books We Are Excited To Read in 2012

In no particular order:

1. "The Last Boyfriend" by Nora Roberts.

It's book two in her "Inn of Boonsboro" trilogy, coming out May 1st. I'm a Nora fan, so this is an automatic add.

2. "Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins

I know, I know ... I'm late to the party on this one. I don't typically enjoy dark, dystopian stories, but I've had more than one good friend recommend this one -- and they've said my daughter would like it, too. So it's on my reading list for this year.

3. "Under the Moon" by Natalie J. Damschroder

I'm a big fan of the author's romantic suspense books, so am hoping this translates into fantasy/urban fantasy in this Entangled Press novel. The publisher has a great reputation, so I'm looking forward to this one.

4. "11/22/63: A Novel" by Stephen King

Time travel has always intrigued me, and Stephen King is a master writer -- so combine them together, and you have a book I'm dying to read.

5. The First Time

This a YA anthology I've had on my Nook for a few months. I really, really need to find the time to read it because -- seriously: In THE FIRST TIME, 25 young adult authors contribute 25 stories all about firsts: first loves, first kisses, first zombie slayings, and more.

How can you resist something that includes "first zombie slayings"?

6. Plague Town: An Ashley Parker Novel (Ashley Parker Novel 1)

This is *sort of* a cheat. I actually read this book when it was published before and LOVED it. I was never a big zombie fan, but this book made a believer of me. It had everything: suspense, horror, action, romance. And I can NOT wait until it's released again.

7. Celebrity In Death

I mentioned I was a Nora fan, right? Well that goes for her alter-ego, J. D. Robb as well.

8. The Son of Neptune [The Heroes of Olympus Book 2]

Okay, technically, my daughter is waiting for this... but she talks about how the first book ended on a cliffhanger and she can NOT wait for this next book, so it needed to be added. :-)

9. Animal Attraction (Berkley Sensation)

10. Animal Magnetism (Berkley Sensation)

I love, Love, LOVE Jill Shalvis. How did she have another series published and I missed it?

What are some books YOU can't wait to read this year? Help me add to my TBR list...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: The Secret Heiress by Terri Reed

Today we're welcoming author Terri Reed to the blog on her tour with Goddess Fish Promotions for the contemporary inspirational romantic suspense novel, "The Secret Heiress".

Terri is giving away a $10 Visa GC to one randomly drawn commenter. So comment today AND follow her tour (if you click on the banner above, it'll take you to a list of her tour stops) -- the more you read and comment, the better your odds of winning. You could be introduced to a great new author AND win a GC!

Also, here's our review of "The Secret Heiress".

What's "The Secret Heiress" about?

A Shocking Revelation

Finding out she is heir to a fortune shocks Caroline Tully to her core. And to “qualify” for the inheritance, she just has to visit her newfound grandfather’s Mississippi home from Christmas to New Year’s. Adopted as a baby, Caroline knows nothing about her mother’s family...and doesn’t realize they can’t be trusted. When attempts are made on her life, there’s only one man who can protect her. Donovan Cavanaugh—a man who made her lonely heart want to love again. Posing as her fiancé, Don promises to find the would-be killer. But will his protection-and his love-be enough to keep her safe?

Protection Specialists: Guarding the innocent.

I asked Terri how she balanced the "inspirational" in the romance & suspense without preaching. How much is too much? How much is not enough? Here's what she had to say.

Thank you for having me today. This is a great question and I’ll answer as best I can.

The writing guidelines for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line states this about the inspirational aspect:
An element of faith must be present in the books, and should be well-integrated into the plot. The conflict between the main characters should be an emotional one, arising naturally from the story. The progression of the story must incorporate the faith journey of each protagonist, whether struggling to accept faith or simply being active in their church community. The suspense/mystery element can tie in to the faith element whether by aiding in solving the mystery, or strengthening hero/heroine in times of trial. By the end of the story, hero and heroine must be both believers and members of a church community.

In developing the characters and the plot this is the process I go through:

* Each character starts the story with a romantic need(to fall in love with the right person),an internal need (relating to the world at large) a faith need (even if character is a person of faith-their faith is not perfect) and a external/plot need (the story goal).

* Each character has a motivation (the why) for each of these needs. The romance, internal and faith motivations usually stem from something in the characters past. The plot motivation stems from something recent that has catapulted the characters into the story.

* Each character has conflicts/obstacles (both internal and external) as to why they can’t have these needs met.

* Each character has a coping device to sustain them against the conflict in order to simulate their need.

* Each character must sacrifice this coping device in order to achieve their real need in each of these areas.

* The result will be the characters fall in love, they’ve progressed in their faith journey and the external/plot conflict has been resolved.

Layering in the faith element is like building suspense in the story. In a suspense story, the writer doesn’t dump all the suspense/clues/mystery in one fell swoop, its spread out over the course of the story, upping the tension and danger until the final moment when the hero/heroine realizes the truth/captures the bad guy/saves the day.

In the same way the faith element is woven into the story by doling out small nuggets throughout the story, leading each character to the truth of their faith conflict so they can realize what they must sacrifice (coping device) in order to meet their need, which in turn allows them to be open to love and to move closer to God in their faith journey.

I hope this makes sense. Again, thank you for having me here to day.

At an early age Terri Reed discovered the wonderful world of fiction and declared she would one day write a book. Now she is fulfilling that dream and enjoys writing for Steeple Hill. She is an active member of both Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. She resides in the Pacific Northwest with her college-sweetheart husband, two wonderful children and an array of critters. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, gardening and playing with her dogs.

Review: The Secret Heiress by Terri Reed

(A full length, contemporary inspirational suspense novel published by Love Inspired)

Finding out she is heir to a fortune shocks Caroline Tully to her core. And to “qualify” for the inheritance, she just has to visit her newfound grandfather’s Mississippi home from Christmas to New Year’s.

Adopted as a baby, Caroline knows nothing about her mother’s family...and doesn’t realize they can’t be trusted. When attempts are made on her life, there’s only one man who can protect her. Donovan Cavanaugh—a man who made her lonely heart want to love again. Posing as her fiancé, Don promises to find the would-be killer. But will his protection-and his love-be enough to keep her safe?

I started reading this book with the expectation that it would be just like many other inspirational romance books I've read. Was I ever wrong! After the first couple of pages, I couldn’t put the book down. The suspense kept building and I waited to be able to get a clue as to who was causing the problems for our heroine.

I read a lot of mysteries, and even so, I couldn’t predict the next move, or even get a clue as to what would happen next. It nearly made my heart stop. There were so many twists and turns in the plot and they were all very necessary for the story, and Ms. Reed's skillful plotting kept me guessing the entire time.

When I finally began to discover who was behind everything, and who was causing the problems, the urgency of the story still wasn’t over. When I finished the last page of the mystery, I gave a sigh of relief and waited for my heart to stop pounding.

If you're looking for a clever, heart-stopping suspense with a sweet romance lovingly woven throughout, with a Christian theme that doesn't beat you over the head, then I highly recommend "The Secret Heiress". It has everything a romantic suspense lover could ask for.

I give it 5 out of 5.

FTC Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author and Goddess Fish Promotions in exchange for my honest opinion.