Friday, November 29, 2013

The November Cephalopod Coffeehouse Blog Hop!

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It's the last Friday of the month - time for The Cephalopod Coffeehouse blog hop! Each month, participating blogs post reviews of the best book they've read during that month. Readers can hop between the blogs and find a host of interesting books to add to their TBR piles, and visit some fun blogs in the process.

As today is the day after Thanksgiving, I'm not sure how many people will be hopping around the blogosphere looking for book reviews - but then again, there are some great Black Friday sales going on at Amazon and Barnes and Noble... so if you're taking a break from your cyber-shopping, maybe this will give you some new ideas and inspiration!

Book Review: ETERNAL MERCURY by Elaine Pinter

Published 2013

About the Book (from Goodreads):

Can true love survive the boundaries of death?

Eighteen-year-old Chelsee Taylor has been in love with her boyfriend, Max, since they started kindergarten together. She has no idea that high school graduation will be the last perfect day of her life. After a deadly car accident, Chelsee refuses to accept Max's death because she can still feel his presence. No one believes her and she is completely alone. Until Blake Andersen shows up. It's not just that he believes her . . . or even just that he's so understanding . . . . But why is Max's presence so strong when she's with Blake?

Eternal Mercury is two books in one. Book 1, Chelsee's Story, is bittersweet and moving, while Book 2, Blake's Story, is gritty and inspirational.

My Take:

*I won a copy of this book in an online giveaway.*

This is a YA romance with a unique twist to it, and just a dash of paranormal. I’ve read several contemporary YA books lately that begin with kind of dark premises. Like teens dying from cancer, as in THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green, and A TAYLOR-MADE LIFE, by Kary Rader. This is the first YA book I’ve read that deals with car accidents, death, and what survives after death. I’ve never read a YA that deals in detail with hospitals and organ transplants that isn’t totally dystopian.

The Reviewer running the contest loved the book, so despite a slow start I kept going. And I’m glad that I did. So if you decide to pick up a copy, don’t give up after the first chapter or two. It gets way better. Tears and ripping at your heartstrings and smiling-through-the-tears-at-the-end better.

The book is broken into two parts, Part One being from Chelsee’s POV and Part Two being from Blake’s POV. There’s no head-hopping; you need to read all of her perspective and then basically start the story over from his perspective, which is totally interesting as their stories don’t even intersect much until the middle of each section – which sounds like it makes no sense, but it does. Trust me.

Chelsee’s story starts with her high school graduation and her sweet perfect life and true love with her long-time boyfriend, Max, who is also (dare I say?) perfect. He’s an athlete and all-around great guy, a track star headed to University on scholarship. Sounds a little boring to me, but I don’t read a lot of contemporary YA romance. I stick with mostly books that have paranormal twists. (Which this one does, a little bit, but in a grounded sort of way.)

A deadly car accident erases all of the perfect from Chelsee’s life, including taking Max, and leaves her feeling like an empty shell. But lying in her hospital bed, she can still feel Max’s presence. And it gets strongest when she meets Blake. Their romance progresses through the first part and ties up so nicely at the end that you can really stop there and be satisfied, but then there’s the second part and it’s almost like a whole second book that twines together with what you already know from reading the first part, which was such a cool concept that I have to applaud the author.

In Blake’s section of the book, the writing is even stronger than the first, but he starts as such an unredeeming character that I probably would’ve punted the book if I hadn’t read the first part. I really loved the second section, and the character’s attitude and arc.

If you’re looking for a tear-jerker for catharsis during the hectic holidays, I would totally recommend this book. It’s an engaging and sweet love story, a fairly fast read, and has some good messages and thought provoking parts without being preachy. All in all, a satisfying read.

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This is a blog hop! Don't forget to visit some of the other great blogs participating in today's coffeehouse!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cover Reveal! CLOAKED IN DANGER by Jeannie Ruesch

Jeannie Ruesch designed the cover of my YA novel, SON OF A MERMAID... and now she's got her name on a different cover reveal - Very Awesome! She debuted on Sunday, but I wanted to share here and spread the love a little - it's almost as gorgeous as the one she created for me! Big Congrats, Jeannie! Can't wait for your book to come out!!!
Available January 27, 2014

“Cloaked in Danger has all the elements readers crave— larger-than-life characters, a vivid and believable setting, heart-pounding romance and just the right amount of mystery. Don’t miss it! It kept me reading deep into the night.”
— New York Times Bestselling Author Brenda Novak

“In ‘Cloaked in Danger’ Jeannie Ruesch has crafted a taut, emotional thrill-ride through the streets of Regency London. Archaeological adventure and drawing room intrigue are combined in a story that will keep you reading late into the night. Jeannie Ruesch is an author to watch.”
RITA Award Nominated Author Elizabeth Essex

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About the Book:
Aria Whitney has little in common with the delicate ladies of London society. Her famous father made his fortune hunting archaeological treasures, and her rustic upbringing has left her ill-prepared for a life of parties and frippery. But when Gideon Whitney goes missing in Egypt, Aria must embrace the unknown—armed with only the short list of highborn men who’d backed her father’s venture, she poses as a woman looking for a husband. She doesn’t intend to find one.
Adam Willoughby, Earl of Merewood, finds London’s strangest new debutante fascinating, but when he  catches her investigating his family’s secrets, he threatens to ruin her reputation. He doesn’t intend to enjoy it so much.
When their lustful indiscretion is discovered, Adam finds that he regrets nothing. But now, as her father’s enemy draws near, Adam must convince his betrothed that she can trust him with her own secrets…before it’s too late.

Pre-Order Now : Amazon  | Barnes & Noble

Monday, November 25, 2013

Chatting with … T. Gephart , author of A TWIST OF FATE

Today I’m excited to be part of the TWISTED VIEWS blog tour, sponsored by Forever Me Romance tours. We’re chatting with author T. Gephart about writing, books, and life “down under” as she celebrates the release of her newest installment to her "Twisted" series, TWISTED VIEWS.

The book comes out on December 10th, but the first book in the series, A TWIST OF FATE, is available now and FREE through the end of the year. Let's take a closer look at that cover...
Aren't these awesome covers? Is it too early to have a martini? And HEY! There's supposed to be a Rafflecopter Giveaway with this tour - go to the Forever Me Romance Facebook page for details and enter to win!

And now let's chat with the author...

1. Hi there! Welome to my blog! Tell us a bit about yourself, and what kind of books you like to read and write.

I’m 38 and I live in Melbourne with my husband and 3 Kids (well two human children and 1 furry child.) My life has been fairly unconventional and I am lucky to have had a wide range of experiences and situations that have coloured my history. Traveling since I was 18, I not only saw some amazing cities but also met some extraordinary people. My employment history is “interesting” to say the least but I have no regrets.

Writing for me wasn’t a conscious choice; I never set out to be an author. When I sat down to write my first book, it was only about telling a good story, something that drew you in and made you feel like you were living it. So it’s a happy turn of events that I find myself here, among some amazing and talented company, in the wonderful world of Indie publishing.

I mainly read fiction but will read anything that piques my interest. I love the Contemporary Romance genre and this is the area where I find myself most comfortable. I also love books with consistent pacing and punchy dialogue. I try to execute this in my own writing. I also wanted my characters to be multifaceted and believable, it is the biggest compliment when a reader tells me that they feel like they “know” the characters in my books.

2. What's your favorite part of being an author?

My favourite part is getting lost in the story. I love connecting with my characters, so much so, that sometimes I forget they aren’t real people. I laugh, I cry, I getting frustrated and upset when I write. It’s a journey and I love being on the road as it twists and turns. I love the freedom of putting ideas on the page and watching them flourish into a book. To have people read my musings and enjoy them is beyond AMAZING!

3. What's your approach to writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?

I’m a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl and this is reflected in my writing. I always know where I’m heading but the road to the destination is the variable. I will happily delete 5,000 words if it doesn’t work or if I read it and it bores me. Ultimately if I don’t like it, then it goes - plain and simple.

I find this approach more organic than sitting there strategically working through the plot. For me, I seem to work better on “the fly” so that’s how I write.

4. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

Tough one! It would be a tie between being able to fly or being super strong. It’s so hard to choose! Unless you are Batman cause then you have a gadget for anything oh and one hell of a badass car.

5. Tell us about your new release!

My newest release is actually a companion for my first book A TWIST OF FATE. When I was originally writing “Twist” there was more I wanted to say but couldn’t because I made the book from only one point of view. I had little side stories in my head that I thought could actually add to the original story but didn’t have the vehicle for them until now. It was fun getting into some of the other character’s “heads” and writing from their POV, I hope it gives the reader more insight into the story and makes them feel more connected to the characters. It’s a collection of “snippets” -some comical, some informative and others emotional. I’m really glad to have had the opportunity to share what was rolling around in my head when I wrote the first book and give the reader a glimpse into my writing process.

6. Okay, you’re casting the movie version of your novel – who would you choose for the main characters? (We’re talking dream cast!)

Tough question. I only really had muses for “Alex” and “Matt” and the other characters weren’t really modeled on anyone. I know it sounds like a cop out but I’d rather hear who the readers envisage and who they would cast. I love that with any story you can create that perfect image for the character in your head. I think it’s hard to find it embodied in a real person. I’m open to suggestions though so if you know someone you think would be suitable for a role be sure to Facebook me and let me know!

7. Where can readers find your book and where can they find you online?

My books are available in many different formats. You can download them from iBooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Smashwords. I am keeping the first one, A TWIST OF FATE, free until the New Year. I’ve also kept the other two reasonably priced because I don’t think it should cost you a fortune to enjoy the escapism.

I love hearing from readers and you can connect with me:
Twitter- @tinagephart
…or on my webpage

About the Book:

Twisted Views delves deeper into the world of Lexi Reed, the feisty, career driven heroine from A Twist of Fate. This companion novella gives us additional information, backstories and insights of the main players told to us by the characters themselves.

A Twist of Fate pulled us effortlessly into the world of Lexi Reed - the feisty, smart, sexy and career driven PR manager whose world was turned upside down when she met and began representing her favourite rock band, Power Station. This opportunity of a lifetime not only capitulated Lexi into a new and exciting world but onto a hot and steamy path with Alex Stone, the band's lead guitarist. Their passion simmered as they tired to maintain their secret relationship, leaving both Alex and Lexi wanting more than the "no strings, sex only" agreement they had negotiated. Hearts and rules were broken as Lexi learned the hard way, you can't negotiate with emotions, least of all love.

In this companion novella, we get to examine what has happened behind the scenes from different perspectives, told to us by the characters themselves. Through the eyes of Alex and others we get a clearer view of how Lexi's arrival affects not only dynamics of the band but their personal relationships with her and each other. We get to know the main players more intimately as we are given access to interviews and personal accounts, learning not only about them and what makes them tick but how their world has changed since Lexi's arrival.

Cover Reveal! COPPER RAVENS by Jennifer Allis Provost

Have you heard about this series from Spencer Hill Books and Jennifer Allis Provost? I signed up to be part of this tour, and absolutely LO-O-O-OVE this cover! I received both the front and the full as part of the cover reveal, but so love the full, that's the one I'm going to share here... ready? 
Wow, right? Looking forward to reading this one! Here's the rest of the info on the book...
About the Book:
Sara should be happy.
She has what every girl wants: a man who loves her, a beautiful home, and wealth beyond imagining. She rescued her brother from the Peacekeepers, destroyed the Iron Queen, and doesn’t have to go to her boring job any more.
And yet… Sara still doesn’t know if her father is alive or dead. Her mother hides in the garden, brooding about her missing husband. Her sister, the Inheritor of Metal, is scared of her own shadow, and her brother spends his days fighting and gambling. To add to Sara’s misery, the new queen (gold, of course) is more than a bit crazy, she misses her life in the Mundane world, and, worst of all, Micah wants to have children. A lot of them.
As Sara wavers between happiness and homesickness, a conspiracy emerges against the Raven clan, implicating them in a plot to dethrone the Gold Queen. How can Sara prove her family’s innocence, and become the consort Micah needs her to be, without losing herself in the process?   

About the Author:

Jennifer Allis Provost is a native New Englander who lives in a sprawling colonial along with her beautiful and precocious twins, a dog, two birds, three cats, and a wonderful husband who never forgets to buy ice cream. As a child, she read anything and everything she could get her hands on, including a set of encyclopedias, but fantasy was always her favorite. She spends her days drinking vast amounts of coffee, arguing with her computer, and avoiding any and all domestic behavior. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Puppy Tales: A New Home for Zoe

Zoe came to live with us in June, at the start of summer, after her owner passed away suddenly. Her owner was a close friend of my husband, and he didn't want the dog to be further traumatized by a shelter or foster home.

As it turns out, we were only Zoe's foster home.

Already ten years old, little Zoe lived by different rules than our big dogs do. And the big dogs didn't understand why the little one could sleep on the couch but they couldn't. The little one couldn't understand why we didn't put out a box for her to "do her business in" like she'd had in her apartment back in New York. Can you imagine a Saint Bernard using an indoor doggie box?

When she came to us, she was an apartment dog who loved to "visit" the outdoors. Over the summer we visited countless beaches and lakes, took her to Vermont to my sister's farm and swimming hole, and took many long walks around Cape Cod. She got in great physical shape and was able to keep up with the big dogs, but still craved more attention than we were able to provide with our busy lives.
Enter the retired home economics teacher who just recently lost her own beloved dog. She was visiting the local shelter, looking for an older dog to lavish attention on. "Not a puppy, but someone to wag their tail at me all day long," was her requirement. My friend who works at the shelter knew our situation and gave me this woman's name and number. Zoe and I went to visit and the two were almost immediately smitten with each other. I left her at the woman's home in Brewster last Friday, for a "trial sleep over."

Another friend who volunteers at the shelter ran into the woman and Zoe on Saturday and she said they both seemed "smitten" with each other. That was great to hear, for as much as the little dog was difficult at times, I still missed her when she was gone.

This week marked our friend's birthday, as Facebook reminded everyone. He would have been 49. I was the one who received a huge vase of flowers on his birthday - with a card that reads: "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for a match made in heaven!"

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Review: ENHANCED by Courtney Farrell

 ENHANCED, By Courtney Farrell

Published by Crescent Moon Press, August 2013

BLURB (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Michelle is a product of the Institute's eugenics program, where people are bred like livestock. One doctor decides which kids get to grow up, and which disappear. Only Culls walk into the slum outside Institute walls, and they never come back.

Michelle has survived every purge, and she's about to win a luxurious life as a breeder. Then the doctor banishes her brother Seth and her boyfriend Brian, and she risks everything to find them in the cutthroat slum. She's in trouble until handsome Dillon stakes a claim to her. Michelle is mortified, because Norms are practically animals. But the doctor is using the missing boys in a twisted plan and she needs Dillon's help to stop him.

Michelle and her friends must find Seth and Brian, but a plague is spreading, the doctor is after her and Dillon isn't thrilled to help her find her lost boyfriend.

I received an ebook copy of this YA dystopian fiction in exchange for my honest review.

In this dystopian post-War future, people have been divided into distinct camps. There are the “Enhanced,” who are bred through Eugenics programs to be perfect, beautiful, intelligent and strong. They live in walled cities and compete for the ultimate prize – the chance to remain in the city and become members of the Conclave, the ruling body. Those who don’t make the grade are “culled” from the program and kicked out of the gated cities to live with the “Norms” or “Unenhanced.” The “Norms” compete for menial serving jobs within the cities to help support their families in the slums outside the walls. There are also the “Augmented,” who fall somewhere in between and work in security and military capacities, with slight gene modifications but not full enhancements. The last category are the Agri-slaves, who work for the giant agricultural corporation, toiling in the fields amidst the chemical clouds and growing the food that sustains everyone else.

Ms. Farrell paints an intricate portrait of this scientifically based Brave New World, where diseases and weaknesses have been bred out of the Enhanced race over the last few hundred years. One doctor wants to take the program even further, conducting his own secret experiments on Enhanced children and the Norms who work in his labs. The story follows the action that ensues after his twisted experiments go wrong.

We meet Michelle Atherton, the main character of the novel, right in the first chapter, when the doctor visits her classroom to select students for his next experiment. When he chooses her brother as well as the boy she’s crushing on, she gets agitated – and then he takes Michelle along too. The author does a great job of ratcheting up the stakes and the stress from the very beginning.

Sixteen-year-old Michelle wavers on the razor edge between childhood and adulthood, at some points sounding and acting like a child, and at other times being completely ruthless in her assessments of situations. Part of this is the age of the characters, but there are several inconsistencies that popped up and made me scratch my head. For example, Michelle is secretly in love with her brother’s best friend Brian, but later acknowledges that Enhanced don’t form monogamous relationships and happily kisses another boy.

This well-written story kept me interested and reading, and wondering where the author was going next. There were a few times when the storyline made me uncomfortable, and I wondered if maybe it should be NA instead of YA, but in the end I guess it fits YA more. Some of the transitions were hard to follow, and some scenes felt rushed, but the storyline was compelling and made for a quick read. The ending left open a possibility for an interesting sequel, and I’m hoping Ms. Farrell finishes it quickly!

Find ENHANCED on Goodreads here:

Or find it HERE on Amazon.

About the Author:

Courtney Farrell is a biologist who turned her love of books into a career as an author. She has written fifteen nonfiction books for young people, mostly on social and environmental topics. Her first YA novel, Enhanced, was launched by Crescent Moon Press. Farrell lives with her husband and sons on a Colorado ranch where they enjoy a menagerie of horses, dogs, cats, chickens and one awesome green tree from called Froglodyte.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ready or Not... The Holiday Issue of CapeWomenOnline magazine!

The Holiday 2013 Issue of CapeWomenOnline magazine is online and available for reading!

I have two articles this month: my usual column The Write Way, and an environmental article in the magazine's new series about issues facing Cape Cod. My piece is on an invasive species of Asian "seaweed" called Codium, or "Dead Man's fingers." It has nothing to do with the holidays, but was interesting to investigate.

But I'm kinda proud of my Holiday Column, "Patience and the Art of Baking Cookies," where I compare finishing your manuscript to baking Christmas cookies.


I feel like I wrote it so long ago for the early October issue deadline, but it kinda works well - and I've included an old family recipe for German butter cookies. Well, not originally from my family, even though my dad's family is German. When I was a kid, our next door neighbors had their German grandmother living with them, who only spoke German and made the most delicious cookies at Christmas. This was the one recipe my mom sweet-talked out of her and it's a perennial favorite.

There are other great articles in the magazine as well, including more recipes and stories of Holidays past. If you have some time, I highly recommend it to help get you in the Christmas spirit.

Let me know what you think, and if you agree with my Holiday analogy!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Is It Too Early for Christmas?

We had a family gathering to attend yesterday, and the margarita chatter inevitably turned to Christmas lists, and what do the kids want/need from their aunts this year? Okay, the margaritas weren't talking, but those of us aunties drinking said margaritas certainly were...

...and the room was divided between those who think it's a wee bit early to be talking Christmas cheer, and those who've already started decorating and watching seasonal cartoons with the kids. And listening to carols in the car. I mean, it's barely November for goodness sakes! (can you tell which side I'm on??)

While I totally understand that some people feel the need to finish their shopping before Thanksgiving, and Turkey Day is really late this year, I'm not in favor of the rush-to-Christmas that seems to be the norm.

When I went out to get wine Saturday at 5 p.m., the liquor store guys had just finished decorating the entire storefront in lights. Christmas lights. Tons of them. So bright I almost had to leave and go somewhere else. (I sucked it up and bought the wine for dinner anyway, being the hearty soul that I am.)

What do you think? Today is November 18th. There are still 38 days until Christmas. Is it too early, or just about right?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Writer Wednesday: Words of Encouragement

Week 2 of NaNoWriMo is when many authors begin to question themselves. Question their commitment to the insane writing schedule they've devised for themselves, squeezed into a short month with too many days off from school and a holiday or two thrown into the mix.

Why did I sign up for this?

What was I thinking?

On the other hand, if I get a good basis going, does it matter if I "win" NaNo or not? I win either way, because I'm actually writing. Somehow, I'm actually finding time to write.

So here are my Words of  Encouragement, for myself and my fellow NaNo authors who are wavering on the fence of "I can't do this anymore"...

Write. Don't worry about reaching that daily word count the computer program spits out. Don't worry when the graph tells you "At this rate you'll be finished..." and give you a date somewhere in 2014.

Just write. Grab a few stolen moments after you tuck the kids into bed. Set your alarm a little early and get up before the rest of the household. Or schedule a block of time for yourself formally, on the calendar. Whatever works best for you.

Keep writing. Forget the extensive research about that particular flower that you remember seeing on the mountain in Colorado that would be perfect for the story. Put in some parenthesis and Google it later. After November. Don't get bogged down on the Name Search site, trying to find the perfect name for the minor character mentioned in chapter three who was best friends with the MC's little brother. Put in question marks an go back later, after November. Keep the words flowing, and the action moving forward.

Don't get stuck blogging or Facebooking or editing what you've already written. Oh wait, that's what I'm doing now. So do as I say and not as I do, I guess. But when you find yourself on Facebook, be aware that if you have time to scroll down your home page, you really should be writing.

Enjoy the time you are spending writing. Savor it. Be conscious of how much you enjoy getting lost in your story, your words, your world... and wouldn't it be great to do this full-time and actually make a living writing? Isn't that every author's dream? So... Write.

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How about you? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, how are you doing? And how are you staying motivated? Share your favorite tip to keep going, and keep writing!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Book Review: UNWANTED GHOST by Maer Wilson

UNWANTED GHOST: A Thulukan Chronicles Story

By Maer Wilson

Published 2013

About the book: (from GoodReads)

Thulu & La Fi have inherited an old, furnished Victorian. What they weren’t expecting was that the furnishings included a ghost.

Usually the Thulukans are happy to take on supernatural clients for their detective agency. But there’s something about Darla Redding that bothers La Fi - and with good reason. They discover that Darla has a much darker past than hinted at by her “normal” life. She’s definitely not a ghost they want haunting them. So, if they want to be rid of their unwelcome house ghost, Thulu and La Fi need to solve her murder.

“Unwanted Ghost” is the second prequel novelette to Relics in “The Thulukans Chronicles.”


It seems to be a trend recently for authors to put out novelettes or short stories about their characters in between novel releases. I recently reviewed COUNCIL COURTSHIP by Constance Phillips, which was a novelette follow-up to FAIRYPROOF, to keep the readers wanting more until the sequel is released.

This past spring I reviewed Maer Wilson’s debut novel, RELICS, about a supernatural detective agency, which I thoroughly enjoyed. While working on her second novel, Ms. Wilson has penned two short stories set in this same world. UNWANTED GHOST is the second of the novelettes, a prequel of sorts to the main story in RELICS. It’s not really a “prequel” because RELICS starts at the beginning, with La Fi as a small child, before she moves to California and meets her future husband. But this story fills in some of the gaps.

In UNWANTED GHOST, the main characters Thulu and La Fi have just recently graduated from college and set up their new business – a detective agency that specializes in solving problems for the already deceased. One of their clients has left them an old Victorian house in payment, but when the couple go to inspect their new property, they discover a ghost who refuses to leave.

La Fi decides the only way to be rid of the ghost is to help her figure out who killed her, but it’s hard to work a case when your client isn’t telling you the truth.

I enjoyed reading another story set in this world, although I didn’t feel like it furthered my understanding of the Thulukan’s world too much. The main characters acting much the same as they were in RELICS, although since the remodeling of the Victorian is discussed quite a bit in RELICS, it was interesting to get a little of the pre-remodeling history of the home.

I enjoyed this very short story, and look forward to reading Ms. Wilson’s next full-length novel, which I think is supposed to be coming out before the end of the year. Hoping for more information later this week! Stay tuned if you're a fan of the Thulukans!

* 4 out of 5 stars *

About the Author (from Goodreads):

After a successful career being other people, and later teaching others the many tricks of that trade, Maer Wilson has decided to be herself for a while. Turns out she's a writer. She's always loved stories, especially fantasy, mystery and sci fi. Maer was born in the Year of the Dragon and has a dragon-themed room in her home, but sadly no dragons in the back yard. When she's not writing, Maer plays online video games, teaches college and reads. She also co-hosts the literary podcast, “MythBehaving” and writes for two gaming fansites. She lives in the high desert of Southern Nevada with her two dogs, a chihuahua and a poodle. Relics is her first novel and released on May 1, 2013. She released a prequel novelette, "Ghost Memory", in The Thulukan Chronicles. You can visit her website at

Monday, November 11, 2013

Construction Update and NaNoWriMo

Construction update?

Yes, the house is still under construction. And we are still living through it all. It's a first for us, having never done anything remotely like this in the past. I mean, for all the money-pit-style work we did on our first home, I think the only things we brought contractors in for were re-shingling the roof and updating the electric panel from glass fuses to circuit breakers. Oh, and our ginormous septic project there at the end. Almost blocked that out.

We're into our sixth month of project now. Into the fourth month of the temporary kitchen where my dining room table used to be. It should be over soon, or at least move on to the next phase.

But, remember how it all started in May...

At least the outside looks pretty finished now, before winter sets in for real...(grass and everything!)

So... all of this whining is my long excuse as to why I'm behind on my NaNoWriMo word count. And why my blog posts have been sporadic of late. Depending on what's going on, it's hard to think, let alone write. But I'm working on it.

If you're participating in NaNo, and feel like adding another writing buddy to encourage me to keep it up, my username is KatieO and I'm at 13,499 words as of 11/10.

And if you are doing NaNo - keep writing! Stop procrastinating by reading blogs... just write!

...And don't start any house projects!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Writing Wednesday: an Excerpt from DROWNING, by Rachel Firasek

Sometimes one of the most important things you can do as a writer is read. Read books by other people, I mean. Classics, bestsellers, new authors, book candy - you need to read lots of different things, and you also need to read in the genres you want to write in. It helps make you a better writer. (And it's fun.)

It's also good to review other people's work - being able to sit back after finishing a book and figure out why you liked or didn't like it helps you understand your own writing process better. You might not be able to see the plot holes in your current story, but they'll be glaring in that novel you didn't like. Learning to write good POV and sparkling dialogue are important, and reading examples of both good and bad is critical to your own writing journey.

Yesterday I posted my review of DROWNING. Today for your reading pleasure (and just to tease you) I have a special treat - an "official" (author sanctioned) excerpt from the book!

I loved the way the author did the alternating POV thing in this novel, and she's careful to keep them separate. Seth never knows what Alice is thinking or about her past until it's revealed in the story. Alice doesn't understand Seth until he opens up to her.

This is a fairly long excerpt, and told in the POV of Alice. I also enjoyed the crackle of dialogue between the characters, as there aren't a lot of extraneous words or explanations.

See what you think...

 Excerpt from DROWNING, copyright Rachel Firasek

In the hall, arms laden with musical equipment, four large and totally hot guys fill the space—Seth James leading the pack. He stops, drops the cymbal dangling from an index finger, and stares. His too bright gaze travels down my scantily, and very sweaty, clad body and back up. When our eyes meet, he grins. “Come to help?”

“No.” I have no idea what makes me do it, but I snatch his cymbal off the floor and carry it into his apartment. I’m asking for trouble, but can’t seem to stop myself. They follow me inside, jaws still slack. Okay, so I’m cute, but not worthy of jaws dropping. I plop it down on his couch and rush back to the door. Taking on Seth doesn’t scare me, but a crew of hotties is a little much.

His strong fingers wrap around my shoulder before I make it through the walkway. It’s not controlling or holding me back. His hand is simply resting on me. “Hey, thanks. I’m sorry if we…uh…interrupted your day.”

His words sound sincere and slightly slurred, and I can’t find it in my heart to be bitchy to the first guy in a long time that has only shown me kindness. I sigh and pivot to face him. “It’s not me I’m worried about. My sister is asleep.”

He glances at his watch and frowns.

“She’s recovering from an accident. So, if you don’t mind, keep it down in the halls.”
He leans forward. “Will do and I’m sorry.”

When he enters my personal space, my heart speeds up. His eyes stare into mine. I feel this incredible connection, like he knows my pain. Like he can see my guilt.

The distance between us seems to be shrinking, and I’m not sure if it’s me shuffling closer or him.

He snags the zipper on my jacket and runs it up and down. “Is she going to be okay?”

I pluck at a button on his shirt and glance up. “Eventually.”

His friends form a half-moon circle around him and gape at me. I flick a glance at each of them. They all have a very different style of dress, which only raises more questions about the man in front of me. 

“Am I the first girl they’ve ever seen?”

Blondie, with the coal lined eyes, on the left snickers. “In Seth’s apartment? Hell, yes.”

Seth elbows him, but grins.

The tall guy in a kind of hot-nerd ensemble leans over and shakes my hand. “Deacon. Would you like a beer?”

I eye the leering men again. “It looks like you started without me, and I’m not into gang-bangs.” I disengage the overlong hand play with the nerd and back away from the group. “G., I’ll catch you later.”

“Hey, wait. I’ll walk you back over.”

The hotties chuckle, high-five, and rib Seth as we walk toward the hall. He shuts the door to their gazes and catches my hand before I can cross back to my apartment. “Hey, are you going to tell me your name?”

“Nah, this is more fun.”


“I think you’re used to having your way.”

He smiles. “Maybe.” He leans against his door and crosses his arms. His smile slips into a smug grin I’d seen on so many rich boys in this city. He thinks he has me. “I’d like to have my way with you.”

He’s quite the talker when he’s sauced. Good to know. It’s nice to see his thoughts. “That’s the beer talking.” I step close, arch up on tip-toe, and tap a finger to his slightly parted lips. “A few hours ago, you didn’t have much to say. I’m okay with keeping this awkward tension between us. It’s all we’ll ever have.”

He scowls at that and twists the knob back to his apartment. “Whatever.”

Mission accomplished. I’d succeeded in pissing him off. If he stayed mad at me, then we could squash this weird attraction that we obviously both feel.

I grin. “Bye, G.”

His brows dip low, and I shove the door behind me, sagging against it. My breath swooshes out from between my clenched teeth. Damn, he is going to be trouble. I feel it all the way to my pinky toe.

A soft knock against my back drives home the point. I twirl and open the door before he disturbs Molly—or maybe because I’m not ready to share him with her yet. “What?”

He tucks a hand into the waistband of my shorts and hauls me into the hall, pulling my door shut behind me. “Where did you get that?” His gaze lingers on the small bump decorating my forehead.

I reach up and touch the sore knot. “Oh, I fell.”

“How?” He raises his free hand and traces the swelling.

I don’t even feel the careful prodding. No, my concentration is solely focused on the fingers tucked inside my shorts and only inches away from becoming way too familiar with me. “Um…I was doing yoga when you guys came down the hall.”

“And?” He tugs me closer. His thumb rakes a small path below my belly button.

Oh my. “Uh…I fell out of…of…my pose and banged my head on the floor.”

His eyes darken and those beautiful lips part. I want to snake my tongue across the bottom one to find out if it is as soft as it looks.

He winces and lowers his eyes to mine. “So this is my fault?”

I grab onto his wandering hand and pull it free of my shorts. If I didn’t, I’d be asking him for a wall orgasm in less than two minutes and random teasing and fleeing was a no go for me now. “No. It was an accident. Lighten up, G.”

“I don’t want to cause you pain.”

Wow, that feels like a loaded proclamation. “Okay. Well, keep the noise down, and we should be good.”

He drops the hand that had been rubbing away my bruise. Funny, I’d totally forgotten it. “I don’t want to cause you pain. It’s a personal thing.” A deep shudder races over him, and for some reason, I don’t think he is with me anymore.

“You didn’t. I’m fine.” I lift a hand and cup the side of his face, bringing his gaze to mine. It is the gentlest moment I’ve ever had with a man, and we’ve just met. “I’m not sure what this is, but I think I should go inside.”

He glances down the corridor, takes a deep breath, and nods. “Yes, you should.”

“Go play with your friends. Be men or whatever that means, and I’ll go back to my yoga.” I was going to need it after this.

He groans and drops his head back, his hint of an Adam’s Apple bobbing down the column of his neck, begging for my tongue to taste him there. “Did you have to bring that back to mind?”

I grin. “What? Me all hot and sweaty in contorted positions? Do you like that?”

He groans, and one side of his mouth slants up. “I have things to do and don’t need no-named neighbors distracting me.”
 * * *


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

New Release and Book Review: DROWNING by Rachel Firasek

DROWNING, By Rachel Firasek

Published November 2013

(From Goodreads)

*Drowning is a New Adult Contemporary Romance suited for 18+ due to some violence, language, and sexual content*

"I dare you."

Those words would change adrenaline junkie, Alice Harrison's life forever. She's a party girl that doesn't believe in love until she meets a man that only writes about it.

Seth James escaped his overbearing father and moved into one of the James family's vacant condos, hoping to create the music he loves in peace. But the fragile calm he's envisioned shatters when a tiny woman with a world full of energy bounces out of the elevator and nearly takes him out.

With the patience of a saint, Seth seeks the dark that keeps Alice from enjoying life. He challenges her to exorcise the demons in her past in order to discover the true meaning of love. But when the walls fall down, the hidden deceptions will bare the ugly truth about a woman drowning in sorrow and a man who may not know how to be her hero.


I feel lucky that the author provided me with an ARC for my honest review. I'm so glad I got to read it early - except that it kept me up and reading way, way too late into the night...

This book kept me up way too late into the night and early morning hours, unwilling to walk away from the sexual tension and roller coaster plot line. The well-written if mercurial characters kept me on my toes, as each new situation arose to challenge them. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy dark contemporary romances.

Alice Harrison is a 19-year-old thrill-seeking life-of-the-party girl with a dark and secret past. She lives in a condo with her half-sister who is recovering from an accident that Alice blames herself for. When she literally runs into the landlord’s oldest son, she has no idea what to make of him, or her reaction to him.

Twenty two year old Seth James seems like a stereotypical rich boy with an absentee workaholic for a father and a past he’s rebelling against. He’s a musician who’s drawn to dark emotions in others which he uses in his music, but he doesn’t let himself get emotionally involved with anyone. He doesn’t want to be anyone’s hero. Until Alice. Even then, he fights against the honest emotions he feels, trying to keep his thoughts shallow and sex-driven until he is forced to face his emotional fears head on.

When the past Alice is running from rears its ugly head back into her present, both she and Seth have to decide whether to fight for what they’ve found in each other, and the truths they have revealed about themselves in the process.

The author tells the story with first person narration that alternates between the two main characters, with the chapters marked by narrator. It’s easy to tell who’s point of view the chapter is from even without the subtitles, as Seth refers often to his near constant state of arousal, which I found amusing at first, but felt like it was a hallmark of immature thinking that he should have grown out of it much sooner in the story arc.

Although the ages of the characters are firmly in the New Adult range, I’m not sure if I agree with this book being in this category. This is a dark and violent book, even though much of the violence is emotional. The physical violence is alluded to almost from the beginning, although there are very few actual scenes of physical torture (no rape.) Parts of the story reminded me strongly of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, minus the confusing Swedish names and places. Having read that series of books and a few others that included victims of childhood abuse, I wasn’t bothered by Alice’s wild mood shifts or some of her inconsistencies as they seemed in character for what she had been through in her life.

All in all, a dark and completely absorbing story. And I feel compelled to seek out more books by this author really soon. Kudos to Ms. Firasek – you’ve just earned another fan.

About the Author:

Rachel Firasek spends her days daydreaming of stories and her nights putting the ideas to ink. She has spent a dull life following the rules, meeting deadlines, and toeing the line, but in her made up worlds, she can let the wild side loose. Her wonderful husband and three children support her love of the written word and only ask for the occasional American Idol or Swamp People quality hour.

She has a philosophy about love. It must devastate or it isn’t truly worth loving. She hopes that you all find your devastating love and cling to it with all your heart!

Add Drowning to your Goodreads list today!


Friday, November 1, 2013

Good-bye, Halloween! Hello, November!

Packing away the Halloween goodies for another year... although there's still candy left in my pumpkin that needs to be moved somewhere temporarily...or eaten...

I had such fun yesterday on the Trick-or-Treat Blog Hop, reading other people's true life ghost stories and recommendations for scary movies, scary stories, and scary Halloween drink ideas! Hope you were able to hop around, too, and read some of the other blog entries!

I did go actual door-to-door trick-or-treating with my daughter and her friends, to two different neighborhoods: one in Chatham, where the block goes all out and hangs lights in trees and scary music and machine-made fog wafts along the breeze...there's even a traffic cop at the entrance to the neighborhood to help the little ones cross the street.

The other neighborhood was in my town of Harwich, and it was kind of dark and spooky. It went in a circle, too, but without the lights and music. Other bands of kids roamed the streets, but with less small kids and less parental supervision. The people answering their doorbells, however, were just as friendly (or more so in some cases) and the girls all had a great time with both experiences. And came home with tons of treats, which they emptied into piles on my daughter's bedroom floor and traded madly until parents came to take them home.

Speaking of treats, I owe a Treat in my blog hop giveaway. I used the free random generator at and the winner of the necklace is.... Louann Carroll! Congrats Louann! Please contact me with your mailing info and I'll get that necklace into the mail for you.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween!