Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday Feature: Starr Gardinier and THE OTHER SIDE

Today I'm turning my blog over to Starr Smith to feature her latest release,  
THE OTHER SIDE: Melinda's Story.

I never post book trailers, but this is seriously the best one I've seen in a long, long time. Take a minute to check it out, and let me know what you think!

Meanwhile, my new book and I are over visiting Louise Lyndon's blog for her Friday Book Blitz. Come say hi if you've got half a minute!

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

About the Book:
Melinda's family is dead, killed for information that is hidden deep within her mind. Her father tries to warn her from the 'Other Side' that she is in danger from the killers who want what only she can give them. Committed to Skyview Haven, she must determine if the 'Other Side' truly exists or if it is a trick of her heart and mind. With time running out Melinda must determine who she can trust. Is it the ghosts of her family, a boy who may not be who he appears to be, or the doctor who is determined to cure her? Can she figure out the truth before it is too late?
And here's the awesome-ly cool book trailer! Trailers aren't really my thing, but Starr's trailer is so well done it needs to be featured! Let me know what you think!

Are you ready to purchase this book yet? A mysterious and creepy read for October!
Here are the links:

About the Author:
 A paralegal by day, she’s an author by night. Apart from being an award winning author for her short story “Cut,” Starr has appeared in a blaze and made her mark on the literary world with her Ivanovich series and now her Other Side series.
Having studied and obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Literature/Creative Writing, she has found her unique style and is known for her works' distinctive voice, making every character stand out.
She’s the founder and owner of Editing by Starr. She’s also the former executive editor for Suspense Magazine. She has been interviewed in the newspaper and on the radio with relation to her fiction work. She has been a co-host on Suspense Radio.
Starr is a member of International Thriller Writers (ITW) and of Sisters in Crime, Los Angeles Chapter and nationally. She has won three Best Speaker awards as well as Best Evaluator at the Voice Ambassadors chapter of Toastmasters. She has always been active in events. As co-chair and main coordinator for the West Coast Author Premiere, she arranged weekend-long events to help authors from all over network, learn and share their work with the public. Starr has also been instrumental in compiling authors and planning a local author event at Barnes and Noble in Ventura, California along with the store’s event manager.
Please see more on her editing service at, read more about her at, and/or visit her blog at


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Writing Wednesday: Writing Reviews, Some Do's and Do Not's

Okay, so I've already admitted that I'm reading an awful lot lately. And I'm trying to write reviews for all the good books I've finished - but I've also promised reviews to fellow authors and am having trouble finding the words. 

I once wrote a column for Cape Women Online magazine about how easy it can be to write reviews. I think I need to revisit my own words because I'm getting tongue tied in my prose and praise. It's not that I haven't liked the books. I just can't seem to get the proper words onto the page to convey my feelings. So I'm going to go back and read that article, and while I'm at it I'm going to repost it to share here with you all....

The Write Way: To Review or Not to Review, 
Is That Even a Question?
By Katie O’Sullivan, first printed in CapeWomenOnline magazine Fall 2013

Ah, Fall. The college students are gone and yellow school buses replace sightseers in clogging Cape roadways. Back to School time. Time for backpacks and chalkboards, reading assignments and book reports.

Writing book reviews is a little like when you wrote book reports back in school. Either you choose a book to read or one is assigned to you. You read the book, and then write a brief synopsis and what you liked and didn’t like about the book. Simple, right?

Not so much.

For many people, the idea of writing a book review is a Daunting Task for professionals only, something akin to running a marathon. Or dusting. Other people think writing a review is EXACTLY like writing a book report, and have no qualms about adding spoilers that give away key plot points and basically ruin the story for whoever reads the review. One Blogger friend compared spoilers in reviews to movie trailers that give away all the best scenes.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

If you read my blog, you know that I wrote a few times over the summer about the importance of reviews. Reviews on not only help other readers decide to spend their money on a certain book but also help Amazon choose which books to recommend to their online buying audience. The more reviews a book has, the more likely Amazon will be to recommend it to other readers.

Goodreads is another great resource for readers to find reviews by other readers and determine whether a specific book is a good fit for their own reading tastes. Both of these sites are open to the public and have the advantage of letting the reader write whatever they want and grant as many – or as few – stars as they wish.

Plus, writing reviews can be fun – especially if you enjoyed the book!

So what makes a good review, and how do you write one? Well, there’s no one “right” way to write a review, but there are some general guidelines, as well as a few “Don’t Do It” tips that I’d like to share.

What a Review Should Include: “The 5 Ws”

Reviews don’t have to be long or complicated, but they should give the reader a few basics as to who and what the book is about, and what’s different or unique about this author’s take on the subject. My latest book, for instance, is about mermaids… but the main character is Shea MacNamara, a boy (a twist for a mermaid story!) who discovers not only that he’s got mermaid blood running through his veins, but that there’s all kind of palace intrigue going on just off the coast of Cape Cod. He discovers that his roots – and his destiny – lie far below the surface of the Atlantic.

  • Who are the main characters? Tell us their names and something relevant or memorable about each – as they are introduced at the beginning of the book, not who they are at the end.
  • Where and When does the book take place? Is it a Regency romance novel, or science fiction set on Planet Xenon in the late 40th century? A cowboy mystery in West Texas at the turn of this century? Give us a few sentences to set the scene.
  • What is the main conflict? Usually the back-of-book blurb summarizes the plot, and it might be acceptable to use the author’s phrasing for the conflict if you agree with it – but don’t just regurgitate. Tell us in your own words.
  • Why? Why did you like (or not like) the book?  Why do we care about these characters and what happens to them? Why should we spend our money – and our time – reading this book instead of another?


* DON’T just repeat the back-of-book blurb and then say, “I liked it.” Boring! We can read the blurb for ourselves. WHY did you like it? WHAT made it interesting? Tell us!

* DON’T make the review solely a critique of the author’s writing style. Yes, style is important and warrants notice, but a review should be about the story and characters too. And, as an addendum to that…

* DON’T make the review a critique of the author as a person. Have you met the author and loved her? Hated him? Have you written a similar book that you think is much better? None of that is relevant to the review of this particular book.

* DON’T give away key plot points. If one of the key characters dies in a battle scene and the hero has to bring her back to life, DON’T tell us about it! Let us get to that scene in our own sweet time. If it’s a romance, we expect the Happily Ever After, but DON’T tell us which guy the heroine chooses – that ruins all the suspense! And as for mysteries – just DON’T. Giving away whodunit is a big no no.

* DON’T be boring. If the review sounds ho hum, how will it compel others to read the book? Again, focus on WHY you liked the story, the characters, the conflict, the writing…

Think of it this way: You’re having coffee with a friend and tell her you just read a great book. She says, “Tell me about it.” What would you say to explain WHY you loved the book?

Once you’ve answered the basic questions, you’re well on your way to writing a great review. Remember, what makes a review “great” is not the heaping of praise on the author, but helping other readers decide if they’ll enjoy the book.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Monday Book Review: Winter Kisses

Winter Kisses (3AM Kisses, Book 2)
By Addison Moore
Published November 2013

About the Book:
Laney Sawyer used to believe in love and all of the trappings that happily ever after could provide until Ryder Capwell crushed her heart.

When Laney is auctioned off as a prize at the drama department fundraiser the last person she expects to trade cold hard cash for her company is Ryder. Ryder Capwell is in love with Laney Sawyer. One year ago she walked out of his life and took the light of his world right along with her.

Ryder would do anything to have another chance with Laney, including purchasing her for the evening courtesy of Whitney Briggs University, and he does just that. One thing leads to whiskey, which leads to a one-night stand. She thinks it’s revenge sex—he thinks its make up sex.

Things can only go wrong from here...
My Take:

I will admit right upfront that I never read the first novella in this series, and purchased this one when it was a free offering from Book Bub, not realizing it was the second in a series. I don't usually like to jump in midstream, but with this NA college series it didn't seem to matter too much.

Laney and Ryder have a complicated history, more complicated by the fact that her best friend is his sister. And then Ryder "purchases" Laney at a charity auction. She's his for the night, after breaking up and not speaking for an entire year. One thing leads to another, and in vino veritas, as they say, although in this case it involved backstage whiskey. The couple sizzle through several  scenes and hot makeup sex before confronting the root of the problem, his family. Can they survive as a couple if his mom hates her?

I've read a lot of NA at this point, but this was more raw and sexy than I've read. (Maybe the cover should have been a clue, but in my defense the thumbnail was pretty small on my iPad.) The chapters alternate POVs between the two main characters, and both of them hold nothing back in their narration. Graphic descriptions sizzle off the page, just short of erotica. It's not my usual cup of tea, but as a quick hot read it held my interest. If you don't like your romance too graphic, skip this book. (Otherwise grab a copy as a guilty, well-written pleasure.)

Grab your copy on AMAZON

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Feature: SWEET CHRISTMAS KISSES 2 ~ available for pre-order

Too early for Christmas stories? Never!
Welcome in the holiday season with 19 heartwarming and wholesome novellas from New York Times, USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors. 

Sweet Christmas Kisses 2 takes you from the Smoky Mountains to Florida’s sun-drenched beaches, from the Italian Alps to Paris, France, and even to a quirky little town in Arizona. The Sweet Christmas Kisses 2 bundle features all-new, stand-alone stories that are sure to make you laugh, sometimes bring tears to your eyes, but always put you in the Christmas spirit. Foreword by New York Times bestselling author, RaeAnne Thayne. 

 On sale September 29, but available NOW for pre-order for ONLY 99 CENTS!

Christmas Papa by Mona Risk, New York Times, USA Today, National bestselling and Award-winning author. With twin toddlers to care for, she can’t forget her past until a playboy’s kisses challenge her to believe in herself. 

Gingerbread Kisses by Beate Boeker, USA Today and National bestselling author. A cookie specialist finds sweet romance in the snowy Alps of Italy. 

Boycotting Christmas by Melinda Curtis, USA Today, National bestselling and Award-winning author. A bachelor seeks Christmas magic from a woman who’s boycotting Christmas. 

A Christmas to Remember by Denise Devine, USA Today, National bestselling and Award-winning author. Stranded together in a blizzard, Katie and Ryan discover the true meaning of Christmas. 

An Angel for Christmas by Raine English, USA Today, National bestselling and Award-winning author. A down-on-her-luck single mom finds love at Christmas. 

The Cowboy’s Christmas Bride by Aileen Fish, USA Today and National bestselling author. A snowstorm and a cow in distress bring a rancher and a veterinary student together for the holidays. 

Lucky Break Christmas: Second Honeymoon by Patricia Forsythe, USA Today, National bestselling and Award-winning author. Christmas is the perfect time to try and make a failed honeymoon go right. 

Beach Walk by Grace Greene, USA Today, National bestselling and Award-winning author. An oceanfront cottage—Kelli lives there; Dylan wants to. Will Christmas give them a do-over at finding happiness? 

An Irish Christmas Blessing by Roxanne Rustand, USA Today, National bestselling and Award-winning author. Eve goes to Ireland to run a quaint village bookshop and meets a stranger who just might steal her heart. 

Christmas Wedding by Magdalena Scott, USA Today and National bestselling author. Second chance love, and a designer dress, in a Christmas card setting. 

Finding You at Christmas by Kristin Wallace, USA Today, National bestselling and Award-winning author. She’s going to find her destiny this Christmas. 

Christmas Laurel by Christine Bush. Can a female army veteran find healing and love with the magic of Christmas? 

Country Christmas by Lois Greiman, Award-winning author. Heartbreak turns to happiness in the healing splendor of the Black Hills of South Dakota. 

The Christmas Crusade by Shanna Hatfield, National bestselling author. Two old flames reunite with a little holiday magic. 

The Christmas Charm by Susan R. Hughes, National bestselling author. Can childhood friendship blossom into love? 

Evergreen Romance by Julie Jarnagin. A couple reunites while working together at a Christmas tree lot. 

My Christmas Cupcake by Shaleen Kapil. A last minute Christmas Eve errand to the bakery cooks up romance. 

A Christmas Spark by Ciara Knight, National bestselling author. An abandoned cabin becomes a healing home for the holidays. 

Sweet Blizzard by Milou Koenings. He saves her life, she could make or break his; will the gift of love come in time for Christmas? 
* * * * *
My review coming soon! And yeah, I realize it's not even Halloween yet, but who can resist a good Christmas romance?