Brownie Fix by Ellen Cardona ~ A review

~♥~♥~♥~ An Interesting Read~ ♥~♥~♥~

~*~*~*~ The Blurb ~*~*~*~

Chocolate. Love. Sex. Really, what else could a woman want in life? For Persey, the heroine of Brownie Fix, her days are fun-filled until what is normally one of life’s most fulfilling experiences, the birth of her son, leads her straight into a dark state of postpartum depression. Wandering in her own postpartum hell, Persey meets people that are absurd, like the swinging neighbors who want a little more than a cup of sugar and a group of mothers who become whipped up in worship to a climactic furor. On top of the madness, she keeps seeing a yellow-toothed old man who acts like he wants to breastfeed from her. Or is it her imagination? Add the voices in her head that become louder and louder, and it’s little wonder that Persey reaches for brownie mix to soothe her insanity. Buckling under the pressure and lack of sleep from motherhood, Persey experiences the five stages of grief that lead her to uncover a buried secret, and gradually she begins to heal with the help of her family, friends, and, of course, brownies.

~*~*~*~ The Review ~*~*~*~

It happens all the time, I’ll see a preview for a movie and think, “That’s going to be so funny. I can’t wait to see it.” Once I get to the theater, I discover that the funniest parts are in the trailer. Though the movie is enjoyable and has merits all its own, it isn’t the comedy I was led to believe. Such is my experience with Brownie Fix.

I consider myself to have a very well developed sense of humor. But the ‘dark humor’ that is promised in this book was lost on me. When I read the blurb, I thought I was in for a funny little romp, a struggle for sanity in a most humorous manner. But I guess to say that any struggle for sanity can be funny is a joke in itself.

Midway through the novel, I had to wipe the lighthearted (though a strange) cover from my mind and concentrate on what was truly on the page—a women desperately swimming in a swirling pool of hormones, denial, and depression.

Another setback is the crazy people who keep turning up in Persey’s life. I find it hard to believe that anyone could encounter that many fruit loops in such a short period of time. Add to this the presence of the old man who says horribly inappropriate things to her and most probably doesn’t exist, I have to wonder if she encounters the swinging neighbors and the thrashing holy rollers at all. Maybe they are just part of her brain trying to save her before it’s too late.

Yet once I changed my thought process about the book and I stopped trying to find the humor where there was none, I enjoyed the book. Persey is likeable and believable even if most of the people she encounters aren’t. Her husband is a good man, a fine dad, and genuinely loves her. Her mother is a little eccentric, but still someone you’d expect to meet. And her mother in law? Well, she is the mother in law, after all.

As much as I wanted the comedy I thought I was about to read, there is a good, solid story trapped beneath the layers of Persey’s weird, psycho world. All in all, I enjoyed Brownie Fix. I only wish that I didn’t feel as if I had been misled from the start.

~*~*~*~ About Ellen ~*~*~*~

Ellen Cardona wrote Brownie Fix to help deal with the postpartum depression she experienced after one of her pregnancies. Through her writing, she found that postpartum depression was real but conquerable, especially when one has the help of some dark chocolate and even darker humor.
When Ellen is not writing, she teaches literature to college freshmen and attempts to help them understand the writing process, though they think she’s crazy because of her love for literature and writing.
Ellen graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a PhD in Humanities with a specialization in Literature. Even though she has published several academic works on Ezra Pound, she could not ignore her true passion as a fiction writer.
Ellen lives in Richardson, Texas and continues to learn daily from her husband and two children. In good times and bad, she still enjoys her brownies.
~*~*~*~ Connect with Ellen ~*~*~*~
Website (AND TO DOWNLOAD THE FIRST CHAPTER FREE!): http://www.ellencardona.com 
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EllenCardona
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/ellencardona <http://twitter.com/#%21/ellencardona>  <http://twitter.com/#%21/ellencardona>
Blog: http://ellencardona.com/blog/

Email: ellen (at)ellencardona(dot)com
 
~*~*~*~ Buy the Book ~*~*~*~Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005IC38EU/ref=as_li_tf_til?tag=ellencardonac-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=B005IC38EU&adid=1AR1GXZZAECEWZJEMZMT&&ref-refURL=http%3A%2F%2Fellencardona.com%2F

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/brownie-fix-ellen-cardona/1105068099?ean=2940013043732&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-plecO0ACyhE-_-2%3a2940013043732&Paperback at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Brownie-Fix-Ellen-Cardona/dp/1466221518/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1341330305&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=ellen+cardona

~*~*~*~ Ellen’s Tour ~*~*~*~
CLP Blog Tours
A big special “thanks” to Ellen for allowing me to be a part of her tour. And thanks to everyone who stopped by. Leave a comment on Ellen’s tour page (link above) to be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Brownie Fix before July 30 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five bonus entries. Whoop! Be sure to take advantage of this! 
Lots of <3–Amie

Memoirs of a Mom on the Edge by Elizabeth Loan ~ A Review

♥♥♥♥♥ ADD THIS ONE TO YOUR TRB ( Very Soon) LIST ♥♥♥♥♥

Memoirs Of A Mom On The Edge - Part One - Martinis & Menopause

Ever wondered how men develop temporary blindness when there are dirty dishes in the sink or children covered in goo? Ever questioned the legitimacy of stretch marks and saggy breasts as “badges of motherhood?” Ever cursed cottage cheese for its bland taste and resemblance to the cellulite hiding on the back of your thighs (how does consuming a food that looks like cellulite banish it?)? “Memoirs of a Mom on the Edge,” scrutinizes the conventional wisdom of ‘everything female’. Using her own life as a springboard, Loan takes on all the taboo topics, leaving no stone unturned. Welcome to the wonderful world of womanhood, Elizabeth Loan style. Buckle up, ladies. It’s going to be one helluva ride.

~*~*~*~*~ Amie’s Review ~*~*~*~*~

What can I say about a book with 39 pages? Well, for starters it was a *fun* read. Quick? Well, duh…but it’s jam packed with humor, family memories, and the never-say-never stories that always come back to bite us in the butt. What started out to be rants, er, posts on her blog, Elizabeth turned her everyday thoughts and memories into an enjoyable piece of writing that I didn’t want to end.

My favorite part is “Giving an Asperger’s  Kid the Rorschach Ink Blot Test” It goes like this–

Doctor: Look at these pictures and tell me what you see.

Son: I see blobs of ink.

Doctor: Yes, you are correct,  but what do the blobs look like?

Son: They look like blobs of ink.

Doctor: But, what do you see *inside* the blobs of ink?”

Son: I see more blobs of spilled ink.

Doctor: OKay, I think we’re done here.

Maybe it’s having a kid close to “the spectrum”, or maybe it’s my own diet woes, the cottage cheese on my thighs and the complaints I hear about generic foods, but I believe there’s something in Memoirs for everyone. And hallelujah, there’s a Part 2! :)

~*~*~*~*~ About Elizabeth ~*~*~*~*~

Elizabeth (E.B.) Loan was born and raised in the western suburbs, just outside great city of Chicago.
Currently, she resides in her garden cottage with her husband, children, and numerous animals that require constant care.
A mother of five, E.B. writes until the wee hours of the morning and travels with her husband, kids & three rescued German Shepherds.
~*~*~*~*~ Buy Memoirs of a Mom on he Edge &/or Confessions of a PTA Mafia Mom ~*~*~*~*~
~*~*~*~*~ Connect with Elizabeth ~*~*~*~*~
~*~*~*~*~ Thanks for coming by! ~*~*~*~*~

Dark is the Sky by Jessica Chambers ~ A Review

♥♥♥♥♥ YOU GOTTA READ THIS BOOK! ♥♥♥♥♥

I’ve mentioned before how lucky I am, and it just keeps coming. Last year I got to read Voices on the Waves by Jessica Chambers. And this year Jessica sent me her second book, Dark is the Sky. The books are very different and yet they are a lot the same (in a good way).  Like Voices, Dark is the Sky is about people, a slice of life with a story to tell. It’s about the dynamics and logistics that occur when people get together. But unlike Voices, the people in Dark is the Sky are family. And Dark is the Sky is a bit…well, dark.

The Cameron family has come together for the weekend. Sounds pretty normal, right? Except the Camerons haven’t all been under the same roof in twelve years. Not since the weekend at Joel’s farm when their brother, Scott died. But his girlfriend wants everyone together, because she has suspicions that Scott was murdered.

Now, you should know by now, that I don’t read and tell. So if you want to know the ending, you’ll have to read it for yourself. What I *will* tell you is Dark is the Sky is a unique a story of a family in denial, twins who don’t speak to each other, first cousins who have fallen in love, and extra martial affairs that could rip the family (even more) apart.

Even better, Dark is the Sky is told in a unique way, skipping from present to past as the days of the weekend coincide. This style kept me turning pages and continually guessing if Scott’s death really was an accident. And if it wasn’t who the murderer could be.

Dark is the Sky is a page turning, slice of life story about a family discovering hidden secrets and praying that their revelations won’t tear all of their carefully constructed lives apart.

Oh, and it’s definitely ‘must read’!

But you don’t have to just take my word for it. Here’s an excerpt of Dark is the Sky by Jessica Chambers.

~*~*~*~*~ EXCERPT ~*~*~*~*~

“So,” Tim said, filling the painful silence, “how’s business with the vegetables?”

From his stiff-backed position on the sofa, Joel stared coldly at his twin and sister-in-law seated on either side of the drawing-room fire. “Evidently not as prosperous as yours. Olivia and I had to forego buying Lottie a Porsche this year.”

Carla let out a tinkling laugh. The sound stabbed through Joel’s aching head and he cringed.

Tim’s expression flickered at his curtness, but he smiled. “And I’m sure Lottie is much better off for not being spoilt like mine have been. You’re doing all right, though, aren’t you?”

“I’m earning a living, if that’s what you mean. A good, honest living.”

If Tim noticed the slight behind the words, he didn’t show it. “I’m glad.”

“You are?”

“Course I am. You can’t think I’d want you to fail.”

Joel said nothing, knowing the skepticism was plain to read in his eyes, and Tim bowed his head. Silence smothered the room, broken only by the crackle of the fire. Joel’s resentment burned as fiercely as the logs in the grate. How could Liv do this to him? She knew how he felt about Tim and Carla, even if he had never been able to confide in her the reason behind his hostility. Yet, she’d forced him into entertaining them for a whole bloody weekend, when all he wanted to do was fight to save his marriage. If this was her way of paying him back, she couldn’t have dreamt up a more effective punishment.

“Think I’ll go and get ready for dinner,” Carla said, and set her empty wine glass on the mantelpiece. “Okay if I have a shower, Joel?”

He didn’t look at her. “You know where the bathroom is.”

“Joel, your hospitality overwhelms me. With manners like that, you should open this place as a hotel.”

Once Carla had gone, the men sat in mute awkwardness, staring into their whiskey and sodas.

“What’s wrong?” Tim said at length. “Besides your problem with me, I mean.”

Joel raised his eyebrows. “What makes you think there’s anything else?”

“Come off it. We may not be close anymore, but you’re still my twin. I can see when something’s bothering you, and I wish you’d tell me what it is.”

Joel looked away, chest tight. He and Tim were once inseparable, all the closer for being best mates as well as identical twins. They shared everything, celebrating one another’s triumphs and picking each other up when they fell. What a relief it would be to cry on his brother’s shoulder, admit the mess he’d made of his marriage, and let Tim calm his fears as he used to. But that was out of the question. Joel’s fingers clenched around his tumbler. Tim had forfeited the trust between them and there was no getting it back.

“It’s nothing,” Joel said, voice hard. If Tim thought he would forget his betrayal, let alone forgive him, he had better think again.

~*~*~*~*~ About Jessica~*~*~*~*~

Jessica Chambers has a passion for writing contemporary novels packed with emotion, complex relationships and often a touch of mystery. She is the author of two published works, her debut, Voices on the Waves, reaching the finals of the 2011 RomCon Readers’ Crown Award. Currently, she is straying into the unknown and attempting her first young adult novel.

Visually impaired from birth, Jessica currently lives with her family and Staffordshire bull terrier in the English town ofWindsor. In addition to devouring fiction of all genres, she is a huge dog lover, staunch supporter of Liverpool FC, and admits to being addicted to TV quiz shows.

~*~*~*~*~ Buy Dark is the Sky ~*~*~*~*~

Paperback:

http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Sky-Jessica-Chambers/dp/0984721509/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1323000484&sr=1-1

Kindle:

http://www.amazon.com/Dark-is-the-Sky-ebook/dp/B006EQV9N6/

Nook:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dark-is-the-sky-jessica-chambers/1107757155?ean=2940013544604&itm=1&usri=dark+is+the+sky

 ~*~*~*~*~ Thanks for coming by! ~*~*~*~*~

Finding Felicity by Monica Marlow ~ A review

♥♥♥♥♥It’s a Great Book♥♥♥♥♥

When Madeline O’Connor learns that her estranged sister is gravely ill, she leaves behind her life in Manhattan to be at her sister’s side in Italy. There, she discovers an ancient Benedictine monastery that accommodates travelers, and she decides to stay there, among the monks. Everything in her life turns upside down when she falls for Brother Anthony Lamberti, a soft-spoken Italian completely different from the men she knows in New York. Together Madeline and Anthony find love for the first time, and learn that life and love always find a way. When her sister dies, a new life for Madeline begins. A new life that she would never have imagined and yet is perfect for her in every way.

 ~*~*~*~ The Review ~*~*~*~ 

Well, I just finished Finding Felicity by Monica Marlow. What did I think of the book? Is it possible to love a book as much as you hate it? I think so, because that’s just how I feel about Finding Felicity. What did I love about it? It’s set mostly in Italy in the beautiful monastery of St Valentines. The heroine, Maddie, has come to Italy to reconcile with her sister who has cancer. Her sister who had an affair with Maddie’s husband. While visiting the monastery where her nephew Johnathan is learning to become a monk, Maddie meets, Anthony, a handsome and unusual monk. (Incidentally, Johnathan is the product of the affair between Maddie’s sister and her husband. Not a spoiler, but shows just what well-rounded, true to life characters Monica has created. )

I also while in Italy, Madeline meets up with Tyler, a business associate from New York. While they reconnect, Madeline falls in love with the monastery…and Anthony. But love with a monk is a tricky endeavor. And as Madeline’s sister’s disease progresses, Madeline has to make a choice between two important aspects in her life–her business, her life in New York, and the love of Tyler or Anthony and Italy.

And this is where the hate comes in. I hate heart wrenching choices, I  hate crying my eyes out, and I hate reading a book that I love knowing it’s not going to  end well. I’m a romance writer, I want a happy ending. And though Finding Felicity has one, it’s still heart breaking all the same.

Kudos to Monica for evoking such emotion. I finished the book with a renewed love of Italy and all things Italian. The wonderment of fabulous characters and a desire to re-read The Thornbirds.

So as much as I hated it, I loved it. I have to say it’s well worth the read.

~*~*~*~ Author Bio~*~*~*~

Monica Marlowe was born in Toronto and later moved to Los Angeles. While in LA, Monica studied the craft of novel writing and participated in the Noel Hynd Workshop. She holds a Master of Arts Degree in Spiritual Psychology. Now, Monica makes her home in North Carolina and divides her time between the East and West Coasts. Monica is currently writing a memoir, The Gift Horse, about acquiring her first horse and finding herself on a most unexpected path. Monica writes stories about heroes and heroines who follow their heart, wherever the path may lead, knowing that the heart has reasons of its own.

~*~*~*~ Connect With Monica ~*~*~*~

http://www.monicamarlowe.blogspot.com/p/links.html

www.monicamarlowe.blogspot.com
www.facebook.com/monicamarlowe

www.twitter.com/authormonica

~*~*~*~ Catch Monica on Tour ~*~*~*~

http://www.clpblogtours.com/2012/03/finding-felicity-by-monica-marlowe.html

A BIG thanks to Monica for sharing Finding Felicity with me. And another whopping thanks to all of you for stopping by.

Lots of <3–Amie

Interview With A Jewish Vampire by Erica Manfred ~ A Review & More

The last thing zaftig middle-aged journalist, Rhoda Ginsburg, expected when she signed up for JDate was to fall in love with  a vampire.  But when she meets drop-dead gorgeous Sheldon, a Hasidic vampire, she falls hard. She rationalizes that he may not be alive, but at least he’s Jewish.She learns that back in the nineteenth century Sheldon was a rabbi who was turned into a vampire by Count Dracula, an anti-Semite who got his kicks from turning Orthodox Jews into vampires because then they’d have to drink blood, which isn’t kosher.Soon after she meets Sheldon, she discovers her beloved mother, Fanny, is terminally ill, so she comes up with the crackpot idea of getting Sheldon to turn Fanny and her friends, known as “the goils,” into vampires.  Once she becomes a vampire, Fanny tires of her boring life in Century Village, Florida, and, seeking thrills, she goes clubbing and disappears into the nightlife of South Beach in Miami.  When Fanny and her goil posse  “go rogue” and start preying on the young, Rhoda and Sheldon must track them down to keep them from killing again.

Interview with a Jewish Vampire turns vampire lore on its head, proving that not all vampires are young and beautiful and it IS possible to be undead and kosher.

~*~*~*~ The Review ~*~*~*~

I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not a big fan of vampires. I have not read, nor do I plan on reading Twilight, I have never seen an episode of Buffy, and I’ve only seen one episode of True Blood. Well, I watched part of an episode, but it was so…ick. And well, I didn’t watch the rest of it. So I was surprised when I agreed to read Interview With a Jewish Vampire by Erica Manfred, but there was something about the blurb that lured me in. Maybe it was  her snarky sense of humor, or the irony of a Jewish vampire (I mean, how are you going to ward them off? Not with a cross.).

Whatever it was, I caved, put my ick factor away for the day, and dove right in. Erica has a fabulous sense of humor which pulled me in from the beginning and I must admit, there is something charming about a man who likes his women a little chubby–even if that man is a vampire. (Oh, the bygone era of Rubuen). But the heart of a great book lies in the reader’s ability to idenitfy with the characters. And Erica has this down to an art. There is so much in this book for reader’s to connect with. Even if you’re not Jewish or over-weight, most of us have regrets in our lives, like Rhoda, our heroine who is over 40 and childless. And I would chance to say that most of us would do danged near anything to keep our loved ones with us always. And Sheldon, our Jewish rabbi vamp? Well, he’s pretty great.  Even with his little quirks–like insomnia, a golem who doubles as a guilt-flinging Jewish mother, and well, the fact that he’s a vampire–he still comes out on top. And he’s more than perfect for Rhoda.

But I think what I liked best was the simple fact that the  book doesn’t take itself so seriously. Certainly not like other vamp works (okay, I admit to reading Salem’s Lot, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Interview with a Vampire, but that’s all you’re getting out of me.) Despite some of the issues Rhoda faces–her mother’s mortality topping that list– it was still a FUN read. There’s no ick factor, no spurting blood, no damned for eternity. And I loved it!

So take it from this not-digging-the-undead-craze reader, this is one vampire book you don’t want to miss!

~*~*~*~ Excerpt from Interview With a Jewish Vampire ~*~*~*~ 

No, I wasn’t interested in the story of his life. I was interested in getting to know him in a more biblical sense. I figured he was just another narcissistic celebrity wannabe. As a writer I was constantly getting hit on–not by attractive men–but by people who thought their lives were so fascinating they would make surefire bestseller material. All they thought they needed was a writer to tell their story which, of course, I would be thrilled to do on spec because they didn’t have any money. None of them realized that writers are not charitable institutions.

“You will want to write my story,” he said urgently, “You’ve never heard anything like it before. It will make you rich and famous.”

“Sure, sure. So what’s so special about your story?” I asked wearily, disappointed that he was only interested in my writing skills, not my body.

~*~*~*~  The Interview ~*~*~*~

Where did the story idea come from/how did it come about?  I’ve been a vampire fan since reading Anne Rice’s Interview With a Vampire in the 1980s.   I started wondering what a Jewish vampire would be like and thought meeting one on Jdate was funny. Since I’m a journalist I imagined myself meeting a Jewish vampire and interviewing him.   The book originally started as a humor piece and morphed into a novel.

One thing you want the reader to walk away with after reading this book.  Yes, that I’m hysterically funny and they should feel compelled to tell everyone they know to buy my book.

Why did you choose your genre?  I have no idea what my genre is.   I wish I knew.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?  Yes, getting started.  That’s the part I hate.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?   Take workshops and get a lot of feedback.  Pay attention to what experienced writers tell you and don’t assume you know it all right off the bat.  Join a critique group.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?   Yes, I do suffer from it–a lot.  I tell myself to write it any old way and worry about fixing it up later.  That’s why God invented computers.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?  A computer and a refrigerator full of snacks so you have someplace to visit when you need to stretch your legs.   A dog or cat helps too.


~*~*~*~ Author Bio~*~*~*~

Erica Manfred is a freelance journalist, humorous essayist, and author.   Her most recent book is the novel,  Interview with a Jewish Vampire.  She’s also authored two non-fiction self-help books, including most recently He’s History You’re Not; Surviving Divorce After Forty.     Her articles and essays have appeared in Cosmopolitan, The New York Times Magazine, Ms., New Age Journal, Village Voice, Woman’s Day, SELF, Ladies Home Journal, and many other publications.  Erica lives in Woodstock, New York with her Chihuahua, Shadow, and her daughter, Freda. Brought up by Jewish parents who spoke Yiddish but avoided religion, she got her Jewish education at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation which welcomes Jews from all backgrounds, from atheist to Orthodox, to vampire.    Her website is www.ericamanfred.com, or visit www.jewishvampire.com

~*~*~*~ Praise for Erica Manfred ~*~*~*~

Erica Manfred’s wry humor is the perfect match for the sexy-vampire genre in this novel about the emotional intricacies of dating a hot Jewish guy who is a card-carrying member of the undead. Delicious!” –Nancy Peske, coauthor of the bestselling Cinematherapy series

“Bloodaholics! Only Erica could think of this. Clever, clever, clever.”- –Avigayil Lansmann, contributor to The Meta Arts Magazine.

With wild irreverent humor this book turns upside down and sideways all the vampire clichés and stock images. Jewish vampires keeping kosher, old lady vampires on the prowl. Above all, it’s fun! –Rachel Pollack, author of World Fantasy Award winner Godmother Night

~*~*~*~ Erica on Tour ~*~*~*~

http://www.clpblogtours.com/2012/03/interview-with-jewish-vampire-by-erica.html

Many thanks to Erica for sharing her hi-larious story with us. And many more to you for stopping by today! 

Lots of <3–Amie

The Devil Has Dimples by Pepper Phillips ~ A Review &More

♥♥♥♥♥ YOU HAVE SO GOT TO READ THIS BOOK! ♥♥♥♥♥

Adopted!

In the Deep South, one of the first questions asked when meeting someone new in a small town is, “Who’s your daddy?” The answer defines you as a person. Not knowing is disheartening.

Sara McLaughlin never knew she was adopted and is stunned to realize that if she wants to find out the questions burning in her brain as to the ‘why’ she was given up at birth, and who her father might be, she has to live in her birth mother’s apartment for the next six weeks.

Grant St. Romain, attorney, is supposed to be helping, but the hunky dimpled devil is making her mind think of other things.

Can she find the truth? Or will she break her heart trying to find out the answers in Boggy Bayou, where many secrets are hidden?

~*~*~*~ The Review ~*~*~*~

Imagine getting a letter from an attorney telling you that he’s settling your mother’s estate, but the name of the deceased is not your mother.  That’s exactly what happens to Sara McLaughlin.  Like any rational human being, she goes to investigate, but as with most small towns, rationality is checked at the city limits sign.  It’s a good thing for Sara that the attorney is so darn good looking. And it’s a good thing for Grant (the attorney) that he has great dimples.

As the terms of Maudie’s will are revealed, Sara must stay in Boggy Bayou and run her antique shop in order to inherit the estate. Or she can walk away and everything will be sold and the moneys donated to charity. Sara decides to stay and what follows is a hilarious,  sexy tale about two people who were meant to be together, but never knew it until now.

This zany story is laugh-out loud funny, squirm in your seat sexy, and so much fun to read. No, I’m not going to tell you who Sara’s daddy is. That would spoil all the fun. I will tell you that I would love to taste one of Sara’s lemon cookies and visit Maudie’s antique shop. Boggy Bayou, despite its secrets and quirks, is my sort of town!

~*~*~*~ & More (aka, A Guest Post) ~*~*~*~

Self-Publishing…Why I Love It and Why I Hate It

Love it because:

I can write the story I want to tell without trying to fit it in a certain sized box.

I can write in different genres.

I can see how many copies I sell in a day.

I’m not limited to a certain amount of books in a year.

I can set my own deadlines.

I can choose my own editors.

I can select a cover that depicts my book the way I want it to, and can also change that cover if it isn’t working.

I can control the inside design either by myself or hire someone to do it.

I can make it ‘free’ if I want.

I can make a soft cover book if I choose.

I have all the rights, just in case Hollywood comes knocking or a TV series.

I can make corrections easily.

The book will always be available for sale.

I can promote it out the wahzoo for as long as I want.

NYT’s is now listing self-published authors on the Best-Seller’s List.

Agents and Publishers are now contacting authors for representation.

Hate it because:

All the promotion depends on me.  Oh wait, most publishers want the author to do their own promotion as well.

Needless to say, I LOVE self-publishing!

~*~*~*~ Author Bio ~*~*~*~

Pepper Phillips wrote her first play in the seventh grade. But before that she read every book in her age group at the small local library. An only child, she entertained herself in the worlds she created in her mind. She’s still pretty mindless in some respects, but her writing world is where she is the happiest. She ventured into self-publishing in 2011.

~*~*~*~ Connect with Pepper ~*~*~*~


Pepper Phillips Website

Amazon - Smashwords - Nook

Twitter:  Pepper_Phillips

Facebook
**Everyone who leaves a comment on Pepper’s Tour Page will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card! If you purchase your copy of The Devil Has Dimples before June 11 and send your receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, you will get five bonus entries!**

http://www.clpblogtours.com/2012/03/devil-has-dimples-by-pepper-phillips.html

~*~*~*~ Pepper On Tour ~*~*~*~

Thanks for stopping by (again), Pepper! And thanks to the readers as well!

Lots of <3–Amie!

Vivid ~ by Andrea Murray a Review & More

~♥♥♥♥♥ LOVED it! ♥♥♥♥♥~ 
When Vivian Cartwright was five years old, she witnessed her mother’s death.Now, sixteen-year-old Vivian only wants a normal life—hard to accomplish when you possess the power to control energy. Her entire life she has feared her power and its connection to her mother’s murder. She has kept her ability a secret from everyone except her guardian, Charlotte, who has hidden Vivian from the man responsible for her mother’s murder.Her secret is safe until Vivian subconsciously defends herself at school using her power. After this first use of her gift in many years, Vivian’s power seems to take on a mind of its own, increasing in strength and demanding to be used. This increase in power also brings dreams of her mother’s death and the mysterious man connected with it. When she is assigned to tutor the would-be boyfriend of Trista Parmer (a.k.a. the biggest diva in school), Vivian cannot deny the electrifying connection that she feels for the boy, Easton Garrett. In her desire to get Easton away from Vivian, Trista doubles her efforts to humiliate Vivian, forcing Vivian to use her supernatural gift over and over. With each use, Vivian fears she is losing control and discovers her powers are growing—maybe too much—bringing her unknowingly closer to the man who murdered her mother.
~*~*~*~ THE REVIEW ~*~*~*~
Sixteen year old Vivian  Cartwright has always known she was a little different than her classmates. Aside from living with her aunt–her only known relative–Vivian can make things happen. She’s worked her entire life to control this talent, afraid that she will lose control and really hurt somebody. But when her high school nemesis pushes her too far, Vivian ends up burning another student’s arm. This incident lands her trouble, and she has to tutor the star baseball player in order to keep herself from getting suspended.
This also gives Vivian the one thing every high school girl wants–a hot boyfriend. But the budding relationship is plagued from the start with troubles over her powers. Oh, she and Easton are fine, but she and her best friend, Abby, have a falling out. But the real problem comes when Vivian’s use of her special powers brings the one man to her that she never wanted to meet–the man responsible for her mother’s death.
One thing is certain when you read Vivid by Andrea Murray, you won’t be bored. Vivian is so real and true, her voice is that of a million teenage girls. She is far from perfect–special talents aside. She’s trying to make it, fly under the radar, and just get through high school. (sound familiar?)This realism made me love her all the more. She’s good natured and unassuming, thankful for what she has, even though she knows it’s not a lot. She’s strong and uncertain, but loyal to a fault. She’s the perfect YA heroine.
Andrea does a wonderful job creating the characters, their motivations are logical and believable.  You’ll find yourself cheering for Viv long before the real trouble starts.
Another thing I loved about this book? The ending is open, which means a second installment. Whoop! Can’t wait to read more–to find out what happens to Viv, to Easton, and Abby.
~*~*~*~ THE INTERVIEW ~*~*~*~

Where did the story idea come from/how did it come about?

The idea for the novel came from a dream.  I know it sounds completely corny, but I dreamed about my protagonist, Vivian.  Last school year, I had a group of 8th grade students who were avid readers.  The class make up was almost entirely female, and I had been reading one science fiction/paranormal romance and realistic romance after another to recommend to these girls since those were the genres they preferred.

My own children were two and four at the time, and my husband and I were struggling to get them to sleep in their own beds at night.  We would put them to bed each night and would lie in bed with them until they went to sleep (big parenting mistake, by the way).  I would lie there, fighting to stay awake and failing miserably.  In that between time when I wasn’t asleep but wasn’t truly awake either, I would see her story.  The first scene I dreamed was the scene with Easton at the lake when he sees her take the lightning into her body.

One thing you want the reader to walk away with after reading this book.

I want the readers to see a strong, independent teenage girl. In so many paranormal romances, the female character, while typically the narrator, is not the supernaturally powerful character.  She waits for her brooding, Byronic hero, who happens to be a vampire, werewolf, angel, demon–take your pick–to rescue her from some terrifying situation that is usually the result of her bad boy syndrome!  I didn’t want that for Vivian.  I want readers to see that she takes care of herself (and anyone else when she needs to).

Why did you choose your genre?

Is there any other?  Just kidding!  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal.  I usually have to force myself to read any other genre, but I do like historical romance and some realistic, too.  To be honest, I wish I enjoyed realistic fiction more.  It seems like everyone is writing paranormal romance, but alas, it is my first love.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?

Writing, no.  Publishing, yes.  Storytelling is something I’ve always done.  The writing is just a natural extension of the storytelling.  But publishing is a whole other beast!  I find it discouraging and tedious to send query letters and browse literary agency sites.  In fact, I think it sucks the joy out of the writing. You pour the proverbial blood, sweat, and tears into a work only to be told how ‘it’s just not what we’re looking for’ or ‘I just couldn’t connect to your story’.  That is why I decided to e-publish.  Life is too short to wait six months to hear back from agents who are overworked and overwhelmed by their slush piles.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Interesting that you ask this because just last month I had to speak at Career Day in the junior high school where I teach.  The counselor asked me to speak not as a fifteen-year veteran of teaching but as an author.  I felt like a total phony!  What do I know about writing?  I’ve written one novel that I e-published!  When I said this very thing to my nephew, he said, “Have people bought your book and told you they enjoyed it?” When I answered that they have, his reply was, “Then you’re an author.”

So, when I spoke to this group of eager faces, I tried to remember that, and the one thing I stressed was DON’T GIVE UP!  If an agent rejects you, if you can’t get your format just right for some site you’re trying to upload to, or if your computer crashes right before you publish (and yes, that did happen), don’t stop.  Sounds like a cheap inspirational poster, but it is 100 percent true. Believe in yourself, even when you want to give up.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

I like to call it a ‘detour’ :) Blocks imply you can’t get around.  Detours just require time and creativity.  Sometimes, you get a sign, and the detour is easy to find.  Sometimes, you have to build a new road.  But build it you must.

I actually use the same technique I use when I’m creating a new lesson for my students.  Begin with the end.  What result do I want?  Where do I want to be when I’m finished?  Then, I walk backward.  Make an skeletal outline, and fill it as you go.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

Grammar and mechanics are essential–and I’m not just saying that for job security!  Yes, writers stretch or modify grammar and mechanics for the sake of creativity and style sometimes, but I really wonder if some of them know the rules at all.

I also think computer skills are important, especially if he or she is planning on e-publishing.  A basic knowledge isn’t enough.  The ‘Help’ function is your friend!

~*~*~* Author Bio ~*~*~*~

Andrea Murray has been teaching English for longer than most of her students have been alive.  She has taught everything from junior high language arts to concurrent credit freshman composition. She lives in a very small town in Arkansas with her precocious daughter, energetic son, and racecar-driving husband.  When she isn’t writing or reading novels for her students, she’s probably watching reality television or cheesy science fiction movies.  In addition to Vivid, Andrea has also written Vicious, the sequel to her first novel.

~*~*~*~ Buy the Book ~*~*~*~

http://www.amazon.com/Vivid-The-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B006M5L7EK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335996082&sr=8-1

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/vivid-andrea-murray/1108019987?ean=2940013881563

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/144332

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5418176.Andrea_Murray/blog?format=rss

~*~*~*~ The Giveaway ~*~*~*~

Everyone who leaves a comment on Andrea’s Chicklit Plus Page will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card! If you purchase your copy of Vivid before May 28 and send your receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, you will get five bonus entries!

http://www.clpblogtours.com/2012/03/vivid-by-andrea-murray.html

~*~*~*~ Follow Andrea on her Blog Tour ~*~*~*~

CLP Blog Tours

In Leah’s Wake by Terri Giuliano Long ~ A review & More

♥♥♥♥♥ AMAZING Read ♥♥♥♥♥ 

In Leah’s Wake ~ A Story of Love, Loss, Connection, and Grace
The Tylers have a perfect life—beautiful home, established careers, two sweet and talented daughters. Their eldest, Leah, an exceptional soccer player, is on track for a prestigious scholarship. Their youngest, Justine—more responsible than seems possible for her 12 years—just wants her sister’s approval. With Leah nearing the end of high school and Justine a seemingly “together” kid, the parents are set to enjoy a peaceful life…until Leah meets Todd, a high school dropout and former roadie for a rock band.
As Leah’s parents fight to save their daughter from a world of drugs, sex, wild parties, their divided approach drives their daughter out of their home and a wedge into their marriage. Meanwhile, 12-year-old Justine observes her sister’s rebellion from the shadows of their fragmented family – leaving her to question whether anyone loves her and if God even knows she exists.
Can this family survive in Leah’s wake? 
~*~*~*~ The Review ~*~*~*~
 I usually like to start off a review with a summary, but every time I tried to narrow down what In Leah’s Wake is about, I found myself telling the entire story. Yes, In Leah’s Wake is that powerful. Let’s just say it’s a story of a family in trouble–BIG trouble. To everyone on the outside, the Tylers appear to have the perfect life, but as Leah rebels, the tapestry of their carefully woven existence starts to unravel.
As a parent to a pre-teen, I cringed when Leah snuck out, each time she tried a new drug, when she purposefully burned herself with a cigarette. The Tyler’s are every parent’s nightmare, the one thing we strive to save our children from.
In addition to superbly showcased family problems, Terri’s unique voice and writing style only add to the surreal, yet all too real world that the Tyler’s find themselves facing.  I found myself drawn in, reading for hours without even realizing the time had passed so quickly.
To say it’s an easy read would do  In Leah’s Wake nothing but a disservice. It is a hard read, hard to think about the once beautiful, athletic, has-the-world-by-the-tail Leah Tyler sinking lower and lower into the dark world of drugs, dragging her family, her parents’ marriage, and her loving sister down with her.
But there is hope for Leah and the Tylers. Hope in the form of God and the powerful love they share. But if you want to know if the redemption came in time, you’ll have to read the story for yourself. But trust me on this, you’ll be glad you did.
~*~*~* & More ~*~*~*~
I am happy to say that in addition to allowing me to read and review In Leah’s Wake, Terri Giuliano Long also agreed to write up a post for my blog today. I know. right? How cool is that. So without further delay, here’s Terri’s views on

Coping with Disappointment and Rejection

 As writers, we pour our heart and soul into our work. While the specific details of our stories or novels may not be consistent with real life – our protagonist may not even share our philosophies – the thoughts, emotions and underlying belief system are ours.  No wonder it’s so hard to separate ourselves, our psyche, from our work!

Yet, for the sake of our writing – never mind our sanity – it’s important that we do.

Conflating self and work shifts the emotional emphasis from work as a product of labor to work as an expression of our personal identity. Acceptance or rejection, criticism or acclaim – these subjective, often idiosyncratic, judgments become an assessment of us. Great when the feedback is positive, not so great when it’s not.

Because it’s so difficult to separate from our work, every rejection – however subjective – feels personal, like an assault on our being.  After a painful rejection, a failed or unfulfilled contract, a negative book review, it can be hard to bounce back.

Despondent after failing to find a publisher for his novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole committed suicide. The novel, published posthumously, won the Pulitzer Prize. Most of us don’t go to that length after a rejection (nor win the Pulitzer), but I’ve seen writers succumb to depression. I’ve struggled myself.

Negative reviews felt personal, like a rejection of me, a statement of my ability and potential. I’d forget all the terrific reviews, the encouraging messages I’ve received from readers who loved my book, the agents and editors who’ve referred to me as talented. Instead, I’d revisit every rejection.The book is too slow, too depressing, too boring. The characters are unlikeable, they behave badly.  I’m embarrassed to admit this, because it’s so pathetic – bad reviews made me feel like a loser. Or they used to.

Yes, used to. Out of necessity, I’ve learned to separate myself from the work. I won’t lie: bad reviews sting. Now, instead of allowing reviews to attack my self-worth, as I used to, I give myself an hour to wallow, and then I brush myself off and move on.

Here are three simple strategies to help you do the same:

Remind yourself that preferences and tastes differ.

Remember: rejection is often subjective. The agent or editor may simply prefer a style or genre that differs from yours. The same applies to reviewers.  As readers, we have specific preferences. Although I’ll give almost any book a try, I’m not a big fan of paranormal fiction. To enjoy a paranormal read, I have to fall in love with the characters and be drawn deeply into the world. These are elements of all great fiction, yes, but if I were reading a police procedural, a genre I love, I might be more forgiving. As readers, we understand preference and taste; as writers, we forget.

Next time you fret over a rejection, remember John Kennedy Toole, whose widely rejected book won the Pulitzer Prize. To let go of a bad review, read the reviews of books you love and take heart in the fact that they, too, have received some negative reviews. Beloved, by Toni Morrison, the 1988 Pulitzer Prize winner, considered a must-read by many people, has over 4000 one-star ratings on Goodreads. Does this make it any less great? Of course not. Those low ratings simply reflect reader taste.

Focus on the positive.

 We may never know why an agent turned us down, an editor rejected our work, or a reader disliked our book. To continue writing, to keep heart in a field that is at times hostile toward writers, it’s crucial to recognize that we, as individuals, are separate from our work. Rather than internalizing negative energy, focus on your positive moments. Remind yourself of compliments you’ve received, editors who’ve accepted your work, or reviewers who’ve praised your book. If you think it might help, create a success list. Keep your list handy; pull it out whenever you’re down and need a lift.

Keep hope alive with new projects.

Finally, as a wise friend advised me: always keep more than one iron in the fire. The minute you put a manuscript in the mail, or publish your book – while you’re still full of energy – begin a new one. A new project provides distance and perspective. Rejection will always hurt. When you’re immersed in a new project, older work feels less immediate, and any rejection less painful. Work-in-progress gives you hope.

These three simple strategies, if you do face disappointment, will help you move on!

~*~*~*~ Even More – The Interview ~*~*~*~

Thank you so very much for hosting me, Amie. It’s an honor to be here. Thank you, readers, for the gift of your time!

Thank you, Terri! The pleasure’s all mine. Now down to business. (Amie rubs her hands together. She LOVES this part.)

 Where did the story idea come from/how did it come about? 

 Years ago, I wrote a series of feature articles about families with drug- and alcohol-addicted teens. The moms talked candidly about their children, their struggles. Their heartbreaking stories stayed with me.

When I began writing In Leah’s Wake my own daughters were teens. Most families experience conflict during their children’s teenage years. As kids grow up and begin to make their own way in the world, it’s natural for them to rebel. We’re no different from most families, although any conflicts we experienced were tame – not remotely resembling the problems and difficult challenges the Tylers face in the book.

As a parent, I knew how it felt to be scared, concerned for my children’s future. I now recognize this as the primary force driving this story. My work with families, my personal experiences and core beliefs – all these things played on my conscious and subconscious mind, and ultimately emerged as this book.

One thing you want the reader to walk away with after reading this book. 

 The epigraph from The Grand Inquisitor says it best: “everyone is really responsible to all men for all men and for everything.” Although the Tyler family is far from perfect, they’re decent people, and they love one another deeply. Had the community rallied around and supported rather than ostracizing them, perhaps Leah would not have gotten as lost. Most teens just want to feel accepted and loved – not for what they accomplish or contribute, but for who they are. I’d be thrilled if my novel inspired readers to suspend judgment, to look less harshly at troubled teens and their families. I feel that we owe it to our teens, our communities, and ourselves to support and encourage all kids, not just those who conform. As Hillary Clinton famously said, it takes a village to raise a child. We must all do our part to be supportive members of the village.

Why did you choose your genre? 

In Leah’s Wake is contemporary or literary fiction. My novel-in-progress, Nowhere to Run, is a psychological thriller with a historical twist. While the genres may differ, my stories always tie back to the family. Families fascinate me. The dynamics are interesting and, in many ways, strange—so often, we hurt the people we love most, perhaps because we know that no matter what happens, even if the relationship severs, we’ll always maintain a familial connection. Even if we strive to be different, we are a product of our family. For better or worse, our family shapes us, teaches us how to love and what it means to be part of a community. I own an anthology called We Are the Stories We Tell. If, in essence, we are our family, it makes sense that we – readers – would be drawn to and connect with their stories.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing? 

I’m a perfectionist. I tend to write, revise, tinker, tinker, revise. I find it hard to let go. This is a bad habit and one I’m trying to break. I’m also easily distracted. If I stop writing to do anything else – take a call, tweet, answer e-mail, do research – I fall into a rabbit hole and I can lose hours, if not the entire day.

With children living on both coasts, my husband and I frequently travel cross-country. On a long flight, you’re trapped; most people disappear into their own world – watch TV, read, work on their laptop or iPad – in a sense, though surrounded by people, you’re alone. With my headphones on, I relax and my mind opens up – I’ve come up with a lot of good ideas, and written quite a few first drafts on planes.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?  

Believe in yourself. To deal with rejection, boot your computer day after day, when it seems as if no one cares about you or your work, as if the stars are misaligned, you have to believe in yourself.

Writing is a lonely profession. Most of the time, we’re sitting at our desk, alone with our work. That loneliness can wear on you, and cause you to question yourself.  A community of caring writer friends, supporting and encouraging you, can pick you up when your confidence wanes.

Hold onto your dreams. You can make them happen. Don’t ever, ever give up on yourself!

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?  

I’m only ever truly blocked—I can’t string words together at all—when I’m anxious, if I’m worried about someone I care about. When I first sit down at my computer, I sometimes feel blocked, the editors on my shoulders heckling: You think you’re a writer? Seriously? Hahaha. Idiot. To get the voices out of my head, I dig in. The writing may be choppy, but eventually, as I give myself over to the work, I gain fluidity.

When the demons are too loud to ignore, I read. Reading, like meditation or yoga, sends me to my happy place. In my experience – 16 years as a writing teacher, working with professional and emerging writers – a block is almost always caused by self-doubt. The trick is to find a way to settle your mind, calm yourself, and get rid of those nasty internal editors. For me, reading relieves anxiety, opens my mind. For others, walking, meditating, or listening to music helps.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers? 

Reading, hands down, is the most important tool we have at our disposal. Studies show that reading is the most effective way to learn grammar. We learn best through osmosis. Reading, we internalize the various aspects of style and voice. We learn to use language and, as writers, we discover new ideas for integrating craft techniques into our work. To solve problems in my own writing, I always turn to a book. If I’m not sure how to tie a past and present story together, for instance, I’ll read or reread a passage or a book, analyze the technique the writer used, and incorporate it or, more often, adjust it to suit my own purposes. If I were not an avid reader, I cannot imagine ever having become a writer.

~*~*~*~ Praise for In Leah’s Wake and Terri Long ~*~*~*~

Tracy Riva, Midwest Reviews, calls In Leah’s Wake “an astounding story of a family in transition.”
When happens when love just isn’t enough?
Reviewer-Nominated for Global eBook Award, 2012
Recipient of the CTRR Award for excellence
2011 Book Bundlz Book Pick
Book Bundlz 2011 Favorites, First Place

~*~*~*~ Author Bio ~*~*~*~

Terri Giuliano Long is a frequent blog guest. A contributing writer for IndieReader, she’s written for news and feature articles for numerous publications, including IndieReader, the Boston Globe and the Huffington Post. She lives with her family on the East Coast and teaches at Boston College. In Leah’s Wake is her debut novelFor more information, please visit her website: www.tglong.com

~*~*~*~ Connect with Terri ~*~*~*~

Website: www.tglong.com
Blog: http://terriglong.com/blog/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tglongwrites
Twitter: @tglong

http://www.clpblogtours.com/2012/04/in-leahs-wake-by-terri-giuliano-long.html

CLP Blog Tours

~*~*~*~ Thanks Again ~*~*~*~

to Terri for stopping by, for allowing me the opportunity to read In Leah ‘s Wake, and allowing me to drill her with questions.

And many thanks to all of you for stopping by as well!

Lots of <3–Amie

Amber Eyes by Jolyn Palliata ~ A Review

♥♥♥♥♥ IT’S A KEEPER!  ♥♥♥♥♥

After an accident, one she shouldn’t have walked away from, Lexi’s life finally begins. She meets Dez, a new student with the most beautiful eyes she’s ever seen. And since gazing into them, Lexi has had vivid waking dreams that pull her back through time, and into the warm embrace of a mysterious stranger—a stranger who becomes all too familiar. When offering an explanation for her detailed visions, Dez changes her world forever with two simple words: Soul mates. For the first time in her life, Lexi feels safe and complete. But lingering in the shadows is the embodiment of evil, coveting the light within her. He’s a threat to Lexi’s very existence, and to a love that has transcended time.

~*~*~*~*~ The Review ~*~*~*~*~

High school student, Lexi Young’s life changes after a terrible automobile accident kills her best friend. An accident that she shouldn’t have survived. The survivor’s guilt pushes Lexi even further into her protective case, until the dream she has of her deceased friend. Ryan tells her that it’s time to move on, to start to live again. Then she meets Dez. He is the perfect guy for her, the one guy who actually holds her interest. But she starts to question his perfection when she has night dreams and day dreams about different times. As she starts trying to piece together the hows and whys of the mysterious dreams, she realizes that perhaps Dez isn’t all that he seems and maybe he’s hiding something from her–something really important. Something that holds the key to her mind’s wanderings.

Jolyn does a great job prolonging the suspense and raising the questions that makes the reader keep turning pages. If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you know that I hate spoilers. So this is all you’re going to get from me. Amber Eyes is a book worth reading. An enjoyable journey into a love that all of us wish we had—and maybe we do, we just don’t know it yet. Amber Eyes is filled with fabulous descriptions and plenty of well-placed clues to lead the readers down the path toward discovery. When you get to the end,, you’ll be sad that there’s no more. Yet…. Can’t wait until Book Two, Crimson Eyes! Amber Eyes is a definite keeper.

~*~*~*~*~ Author Bio ~*~*~*~*~

 Jolyn’s writing career began in 2009 when she looked across the sea of cubicles at work, and thought, “I was meant for something more than this.” That thought was immediately followed by, “I wonder if I can write a novel.” Four novels and one novella later, that question has been answered. She started with Amber Eyes (Entwined Souls Trilogy – Book One), a young adult paranormal romance. They always say, with the first book, you write about what you know. And she certainly did! Drawing off her teenage years in Oshkosh, WI, Jolyn incorporated her high school and favorite haunts. She even pulled out her favorite music from back then to help recapture the teenager within.

Jolyn has absolutely no qualifications whatsoever to be a writer, other than a knack and a passion. The knack she worked hard for through betas, critique partners, writer sites, editors, etc, but the passion she’s had since she was in middle school.

Being married, and mother to one very precocious six-year-old, doesn’t leave her with a whole heckofalot of time to write – not to mention working full-time – but that is where lack of sleep comes in very handy. Jolyn has a gift of functioning on minimal sleep when totally absorbed by a writing project…although she crashes like dead weight when it’s fully completed/edited (usually 2-3 months later).

Her current listing of published books includes:

·      Amber Eyes (Entwined Souls Trilogy – Book One) – young adult paranormal romance

·      Connected (Twists of Fate #1) – paranormal romance

·      A Modern Love Story – contemporary / romantic suspense

Random information and quirks about Jolyn (because everyone has them):

·      She likes to listen to loud music. Period. But especially when she has a headache (helps to drown it out).

·      When she’s overtired, she gets slaphappy. (Heaven help those around her.)

·      She titles a book before she writes it, because she’s anal enough to where that would bother her.

·      She can’t walk into a Barnes and Noble without buying a book. Even if she has a pile of unread books at home (which she does), it just doesn’t feel right to leave empty-handed.

~*~*~*~*~ Links to Jolyn’s world ~*~*~*~*~

Website

Amazon (full store listing)

Twitter

Facebook

FB – Entwined Souls Trilogy

FB – Twists of Fate series

Goodreads

Thanks for stopping by readers. This is a giveaway post so be sure to leave a comment. One lucky visitor will win an ecopy of Amber Eyes. 

Lots of <3–Amie

Your Eight O’Clock is Dead by Kat Jorgensen ~ A review & more

♥♥♥♥♥ You Gotta Read This Book ♥♥♥♥♥

Becca Reynolds is having a bad day. Her grandfather’s lecture (#405: Eat a Healthy Diet or Die Not Trying) makes her late for her job at Daley and Palmer, the psychiatrists’ office where she works as the office manager–her title, not theirs. Then her sausage and egg breakfast biscuit creates an oil slick that takes out half her desk, along with that day’s patient files. But she knows the day has taken a really bad turn when she discovers the firm’s eight o’clock patient dead with Dr. Dick Daley’s letter opener opening the patient instead of the mail.With the fledgling firm in danger of an early demise, Becca appoints herself the unofficial investigator since the police seem to be looking in all the wrong places and doing a half-assed job of solving the crime. She begins a journey to find the killer, keep the practice afloat and with it, her job. In the course of her interfere–er, investigation–she finds a virtual cast of characters who could have done it, including the fancy side piece of the murder victim, his wife, his business partner, and even his psychiatrist.The case takes Becca from the sordid depths of the Russian mob, to the upscale West End of Richmond, Virginia (known locally as River City), and even to her own backyard. In the course of the story she finds herself in hot water, hot danger, and with dreams of hot men.


~*~*~*~ The Review ~*~*~*~

I once had an agent tell me that murder wasn’t funny. Well, maybe not in and of itself, but I thought my book was stinkin’ hilarious. And so is Your Eight O’Clock is Dead by Kat Jorgensen. Becca is a hot mess. Her life has taken a turn for the inconvenient, newly divorced, on double secret probation at work,  and living with her grandfather. Things couldn’t get much worse. But they do as the eight appointment at the psychiatrist office where she works is found dead in the waiting room. Murdered. Becca can’t seem to let it go and let the police do their job. Soon she  finds herself in a crazy web of mob, murder, and the general mayhem that is her life.

I laughed out loud as Becca gathered clues, located suspects, and went on a manhunt–in more ways than one. Kat Jorgensen has a funny, upbeat voice that is both pleasing and easy to read. I loved Becca and her grandfather, and even his cantankerous cat.  As the warmer months approach, Your Eight O’Clock is Dead is a must read. Light-hearted and fun, it’s the perfect summer read–with a little murder thrown in for good measure.

~*~*~*~ About the Author ~*~*~*~

A notorious daydreamer, Kat knew it was only a matter of time before she became a writer. She learned to read by age four and had her first library card before her fifth birthday. To this day, she can lose herself for hours among the books at her local library or neighborhood bookstore. Ebooks and online ordering have made it really easy for her to keep her To Be Read pile from ever going down. A native of Richmond, Virginia, Kat is married with children and has a cranky tuxedo cat named Ben.

www.katjorgensen.com

~*~*~*~ Buy the Book! ~*~*~*~

Amazon
Barnes & Noble 
Smashwords

~*~*~*~ But Wait! There’s More ~*~*~*~

I got to sit down (cyber-ly speaking) and ask Kat a few questions about her writing. Here’s what she had to say:

Amie: Tell, us Kat, why did you choose your genre?

Kat: Humorous mystery is my chosen genre.

I wrote suspense for years.  Scary suspense.  After going through some real life scary issues, I decided to leave scary behind – both in real life and on the page.  Well, sometimes we don’t have a choice in life, but I do have a choice in my writing.

Mysteries have always intrigued me, and I’m a long-time mystery reader.  And while I still enjoy killing off characters, I’m much happier these days doing it with a comedic twist.

I have to say, I’ve had the best time with The River City Mystery Series, and I hope it comes across to the reader.

Amie: I can totally relate to that life is scary enough.  With Your Eight O’Clock is Dead the reader is definitely in for a smart, funny read. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your current career?

Kat: The three dreams I had as a child were writer, star and princess.  The last two didn’t work out (I can’t act, and I’ve never met a prince), so the logical choice was writing.

After spending a good chunk of my working life in corporate America and in the mental health field, I decided I needed to honor my writing abilities.  In 2001 I began writing novels with a serious goal of publication.

But the desire to write has always been a part of me.  It was just a matter of finding my way back to it.

Amie: Honor your writing–That’s a great way to put it. I hope you don’t mind if I borrow that. What do you do for fun?

Kat: I knit.  I’m a passionate knitter.  It relaxes me and brings me joy and peace.  It’s also a time when I let my busy mind take a break.  But I know on some level it’s still working.  Some of my best plotting happens while I’m knitting.  Reading and movies are also ways that I relax.

I’m trying to love exercise.  But so far it hasn’t happened.

Amie: I wish I could knit. I keep saying I’m going to learn to crochet, but so far it hasn’t happened. How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?

Kat: I used to work for psychologists and psychiatrists.  They were always referring to their patients by the hour of the appointment instead of the name for privacy purposes.  When I started writing the first book in the series, Your Eight O’Clock was the first thing that came to my mind.  And then it was all about what was that eight o’clock patient doing.  In my book, the client is dead.  So the title became Your Eight O’Clock is Dead.

I’m using the word Your as the start to every book in the series.  The next book is called Your Time is Up, something else I heard the doctors say.

I tend to go for simple whenever possible.

Amie: The Rule of KISS is always best and an art I have yet to master. Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work?

Kat: Not really.  My own imagination is very active.  However, I haven’t ruled out “ripped from the headlines” for future plots.  I have a file that I keep of interesting tidbits I overhear or things I read in the newspaper.  You never know when something will be the basis for a scene or even a springboard for a book.

Amie: Whew! Good to know I’m not the only one with a file box like that. How much of your work is real? How much is fantasy?

Kat: I make up all of the events and the characters.  My friends have been trying to guess who is who in the series, but the characters are all fictitious – well, except for Higgins the cat.  He is Ben, my unlovable tuxedo cat.

The granddad character is based on my dad.  My dear husband wanted to know which of the hunks in the story was him.  Ah, that would be a no.  He’s a hunk in his own right, but he’s not Ryder or Max.  They are totally made up from my active imagination.

Becca is based on me taken to the extreme.  Younger, thinner and with really great hair.  I’m also not as ditzy as she is, but things do happen to me that don’t happen to other people.  I have a file on those things, too.  And yes, most of them will show up in future books.

So far the situations are all fantasy.  The settings are real for the most part.  I live in Richmond, Virginia, where series is set and a lot of the places I have Becca visit are real places that I see every day.

Amie: I think there’s a little bit of Becca in all of us. And if there’s not, please don’t tell me. I’m Becca to the max! Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?

Kat: For me the challenging part is to not let real life intrude on my writing time.  The actual writing process isn’t difficult for me.

It might take me a little bit each time I sit down to get into the story.  But once I’m back in the plot, I’m totally immersed in the story and I lose all track of time and place.  I’m right there in the story with the characters.

Amie: Yep. It’s the writer’s life for me. What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Kat: Take writing classes and attend seminars and conferences.  Network with other writers.  Find either a critique group or a brainstorming group that you truly feel safe and comfortable with and share your ideas and your work with other writers.  Try for a level or two beyond where you are in your process.  If you work with people on your level, they will not help you progress as fast as you need.  In my opinion, you need to work with people at least two levels ahead of where you are.  You always need to challenge yourself and your abilities.  This is what professional athletes do.  Find a mentor.  Listen and learn.  And above all – write.

Join local and national writing groups.  Knowledge and information are power.

Amie: Great advice. Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?

Kat: This is hard.  I have so many favorites and different writers have influenced me at different times.  I’d have to say Margaret Mitchell and her Gone with the Wind was one of the early books that captured my attention.  I loved her characters and that book is still very vivid in my memory.  Scarlett and Melanie are great character studies, as are Ashley and Rhett.  Add in the supporting cast and it is a story peopled with interesting characters.

Janet Evanovich is another favorite author of mine.  Her early Stephanie Plum books still cause me to laugh out loud.

I’ve also enjoyed Agatha Christie’s books.  She was so good with plotting.  Her two detectives, Poirot and Miss Marple, were true to who they were and Christie did an amazing job with both the plot and the characters.

Amie: Great mentors, every one. What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

Kat: You need a dedicated writing space that is yours and yours alone.  You need a computer, of course.  Some writers like a computer for their writing without an internet connection.  I haven’t found that to be a problem for me.  I try to have a set time to write, and I don’t allow anything to distract me when I’m working.

I also have notebooks where I jot down information as it comes to me.  I am never without paper and pen.  You never know when an idea will come to you.

Speaking of pens, you need some fast pens.  I love a good fast pen.  One that writes effortlessly and glides across the page. My favorite is a gel pen.

Reference books.  I have a ton of reference books.  Books on writing, books on my particular interests.  Anything to stir my imagination.

I think if you have a passion in life besides writing, you should try to find a way to integrate it into your writing – even if it’s just in tiny bits of information sprinkled here and there.

The really great thing about writing is that there is no one right way to do it.  The choice is yours on what to write, how to write it and what tools to use.

Amie: Perfect advice for any writer. Thanks for coming by today and sharing your secrets and Your Eight O’Clock is Dead. Best of luck to you, Kat.

Wanna know more? Follow Kat’s blog tour.

  ~*~*~*~ Kat’s Blog Tour ~*~*~*~

http://www.clpblogtours.com/2011/12/your-eight-oclock-is-dead-by-kat.html

Thanks for coming by! Lots of <3–Amie