Friday, November 28, 2014

BLACK FRIDAY #Kindle #Sale! ALL Crescent Moon Press EBooks 99 cents! and #Giveaway

It's HERE! The Black Friday sale you've been waiting for - even if you didn't know it until JUST NOW!

Several of the authors (myself included) have joined together to offer some great Rafflecopter prizes in conjunction with the sale! Don't leave before entering to win some awesome prizes!

All ebooks from Crescent Moon Press will be ON SALE for 99 CENTS today through the end of December! Just think of the gift giving opportunities! With so many books to choose from, there's something to please everyone - and tons of paranormal YA to please the most finicky of teens! Fill an ereader for someone with tons of books at bargain prices!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving to One and All!

Giving Thanks for all my blessings, large and small, 
even turkeys built of Lego and shlepping kids to the mall.
It's the little things that make each day worth while
Especially when you help your family smile.

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

(....and stay tuned for a special BLACK FRIDAY SALES ANNOUNCEMENT from one of my publishers! But don't think about shopping today - think about giving thanks!)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Writing Wednesday: The Different Levels of Young Adult Novels

"Young Adult" is a huge category.

I don't claim to be any kind of expert on categorizing books or pigeon-holing them into genres, but I read extensively through the range of Young Adult and New Adult. And believe me, they are not all created equal. I'm not talking quality (although that also varies) but more the target audience the books aim for.

What defines whether a book is "young YA" or "YA" or "upper YA" or "New Adult" (the latest genre to break out from the umbrella of YA)? Several things, really, but it boils down to 3 main areas the writer needs to think about when crafting the book.

1. Age of characters: Main Characters have to be teenagers to be YA. There shouldn't be any adult first person POVs or chapters written from adult character points of view. That said, "teenager" encompasses  seven potential years, and many middle grade books have 13-year-olds. New Adult generally starts college-age and up, so over 18 through twenties.

2. Problems to be faced by MCs: Contemporary YAs deal with teen issues - school, parents, relationships, finding yourself, drugs, drinking... and paranormal YA deal with those same issues with an added paranormal bonus. Like my mermaid series - my MC is grappling with the death of a parent, figuring out who he is, dealing with a first girlfriend.... and finding out he's got mermaid blood.

In New Adult, the characters deal with all these problems and more - college, first jobs and lots of sex. And if they're paranormal you add grappling with their paranormal attributes on top of college, first jobs and lots of sex.

Actually, sex or lack thereof helps define which age range (lower, middle, upper YA or NA) a book appeals to. Most 13 and 14-year-olds really don't want to read about "sex" but they do want to read about kissing and dating and emotions. Lots of young YA readers are tweens (9-12) and definitely aren't ready to read full-on sex scenes. But they're ready to dip a toe into strong emotions between a boy and a girl (or a boy and a boy, or a girl and a girl, or a girl and a vampire... you get my drift.)

The other thing to remember is teens tend to read up. A 10-year-old would rather read about 15- year-old characters, and a 17-year-old would rather read about college-age MCs. If a book has 17-year-old MCs who act like high school freshman, the reader feels cheated somehow. Their expectations haven't been met.

3. Age appropriate problem solving: One of the hallmarks of YA/NA has always been that older character don't step in to solve the problems. The teen MCs must face and solve their dilemmas - in age appropriate ways. Because the author establishes Katniss as a skilled hunter from the very beginning of the book, it's appropriate for her to have the abilities she needs to win the Hunger Games. But it would be rare that a high school-aged MC would be able to, say, step in and run a multi-national corporation and be successful.

When I review a YA book, I'm unconsciously looking at these elements and slotting the story into a category. That's not to say older or younger readers won't appreciate the novel, but the majority of readers will be from the appropriate target audience. Some books have true cross-over appeal - take Harry Potter for example. Every age range can read those books, enjoy them, and take something away from them. "Good for ages 10 and up," I would say. Hunger Games also has wide appeal to YA lovers, but less so if you aren't enamored of the dystopian aspect to the genre. "Good for ages 14 and up." I often compare my own mermaid series to Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson when I'm talking to readers, in that the MC is a boy and it's action/adventure for ages 9 and up, and my books appeal to adult readers in a way Percy Jackson doesn't, in that Riordan is wonderfully adept at tapping into the vein of dumb/silly/slapstick humor that appeals to tweens/teens but not as much to adults. (I would never say that to Mr. Riordan's face as I think he's an author god. I love Percy Jackson. Just not as much as my daughter does.)

Do you read or write YA?
What appeals to you about the genre?
What do you think are the key elements to the genre and its subsets?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Book Review: THE FALL OF FIVE, by Pittacus Lore #YA

The Fall of Five (the Lorien Legacies series), by Pittacus Lore
Published August 2013 by Harper Teen

About the Book (from Goodreads):
The Garde are finally reunited, but do they have what it takes to win the war against the Mogadorians?

John Smith—Number Four—thought that things would change once the Garde found each other. They would stop running. They would fight the Mogadorians. And they would win.

But he was wrong. After facing off with the Mogadorian ruler and almost being annihilated, the Garde know they are drastically unprepared and hopelessly outgunned. Now they’re hiding out in Nine’s Chicago penthouse, trying to figure out their next move.

The six of them are powerful, but they’re not strong enough yet to take on an entire army—even with the return of an old ally. To defeat their enemy, the Garde must master their Legacies and learn to work together as a team. More importantly, they’ll have to discover the truth about the Elders and their plan for the Loric survivors.

And when the Garde receive a sign from Number Five—a crop circle in the shape of a Loric symbol—they know they are so close to being reunited. But could it be a trap? Time is running out, and the only thing they know for certain is that they have to get to Five before it’s too late.

The Garde may have lost battles, but they will not lose this war.

Lorien will rise again.

My Take:

I'm a fan of this series, although I have to admit thinking none of the subsequent books live up to the promise of the first. That first book in the series is such a wonderful blend of action, adventure, aliens and teen angst that it hooked me on these characters and their struggles.

In the books that follow, the author has relied more on the action and adrenaline to further the story lines and much less on authentic emotions. Even aliens have emotions; that's part of the draw of the first book - how alike the human and Lorien races are. And how teenage emotions can cloud even the bravest hearts.

Spoiler alert: if you aren't up to date on the series but plan to read them, skip the rest of this review, or at least down to the last paragraph!

For example, in the last book, John is finally reunited with Sarah at the end, and are together throughout this book, but we don't see any emotion or interplay between them that goes beyond the mission. The author almost gives us a glimpse a few times, but backs away from emotion in favor of upping the action instead. John should also have to deal with his attraction to Six (and their kiss), which is also glossed over in a most unsatisfactory way by both John and Six. And Sam, who is head over heels for Six, but can't seem to tell her. Nine almost gets a growth arc but it never fully realizes, nor does he learn to speak without expletives or treat other people with respect. Too bad. Sam has chapters in his own POV, which seem shallow and whiny, given his character and situation. He already had his growth arc, yet now he reverts to insecure.

Don't get me wrong, the action is great. The situations and dialogue keep you turning pages at an alarming rate, but the emotional depth is missing. I felt that in the last book as well, which is how I was able to wait for this installment to come out in paperback. And I can't decide if I will even buy the next book or not. I may wait and borrow it from the library.

If you're a fan of the I Am Number Four series, of course this is a must read. If you haven't read any of them, try book one. And maybe stop there. You decide.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Review: SAY NOTHING OF WHAT YOU SEE by Christy Effinger, #TWRP

Say Nothing of What You See, by Christy Effinger
Published 2014 by The Wild Rose Press

About the Book:
When her aunt steps off a grain elevator into the emptiness of a prairie evening, Mira Piper loses her one protector. Chloe, her flighty mother, impulsively drags her daughter to Bramblewood, an isolated spiritualist retreat in northern Michigan, run by the enigmatic Dr. Virgil Simon.

Chloe plans to train as a medium but it's Mira who discovers she can communicate with the dead. When her mother abandons her, Mira discovers a darker aspect to Bramblewood: the seemingly kind doctor has a sinister side and a strange control over his students.

Then one winter's day Troy Farrington arrives, to fulfill his mother's dying wish and deliver her letter to the doctor. But calamity strikes and he finds himself a captive, tended by a sympathetic Mira. Haunted by her dead aunt and desperate to escape Bramblewood, Mira makes a devil's deal with Dr. Simon. But fulfillment comes with a steep cost...betrayal.

Christy Effinger's debut novel is a dark psychological thriller with a definite noir feel. The story starts slowly, in fits and starts of reflections and backstory, but once it gets rolling it sweeps you along on a psychological roller coaster through dark emotions and human frailty.

Seventeen-year-old Mira Piper just wants to finish high school, leave for college, and never look back. Her neglectful mother with the string of abusive boyfriends are anchors dragging her down, her Aunt Charlotte the only thing keeping Mira afloat.

When her aunt commits suicide right before her eyes, Mira feels abandoned, damaged, unloved, and unloveable. She barely protests when her mother upends their lives to seek the enigmatic Dr. Simon, a creepy and controlling spiritualist who trains mediums in a remote rural setting.

Once in Dr. Simon's clutches, it becomes clear he has an iron  hold over his disciples and the townspeople, and a strange fixation with Mira. The way the author describes Dr. Simon and his predatory attention to the young girl send shivers down your spine, triggering all kinds of warnings that Mira is too emotionally damaged to see. When her mother leaves the mansion, and leaves her behind, Mira feels she has no choice but to stay and do what the doctor tells her.

When the doctor crosses a line by hurting and imprisoning a young man, Mira's conscience begins to dig itself out of the hole where it was hiding. She's never been strong enough to stand up for herself, but can she defy him when someone else's life is on the line?

Parts of this book seem to fit with the New Adult genre, but others seem too slow, with flowing dark descriptions of inner turmoil.  Too contemporary to be truly noir, with not enough sexual tension to be firmly categorized as a romantic suspense, I had trouble fitting this book neatly into a genre. The writing is solid and the first person POV firmly draws you into Mira's emotional damage. I think it could have used a stricter hand in editing, as Mira rambles and repeats herself, but if you like slow-building,  psychological thrillers, give this book a try.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Writing Wednesday: Chatting with debut author, Christy Effinger #TWRP

Today I'm happy to have Christy Effinger as my guest. Her first book was just published this summer by The Wild Rose Press, a New Adult paranormal thriller. I'll post my review of Christy's book on Friday, but right now please welcome Christy.

Hi, Christy! Give a brief bio and tell us what kind of books you like to read and write.

I live near Indianapolis with my husband and baby daughter. My poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in various print and online publications. I enjoy reading all kinds of books, from literary classics to commercial fiction. My paranormal new adult novel Say Nothing of What You See was published by The Wild Rose Press in August 2014. 

What's your favorite part of being an author?

I love the duality of writing. It’s a process of creation, but also a process of discovery. Writing has taught me to be more observant of the world and human behavior. I’m still honing this skill. My goal is to be a person who notices everything. 

Why New Adult?

I wrote Say Nothing in my twenties, so it seemed natural to focus on a young protagonist who was struggling to find herself against a backdrop of darkness and deception.

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

Someone asked this in another interview and I said flying. Now I’m going to give a different answer. I’d like to be able to live without sleep. Just imagine what I could accomplish if I wrote all night while everyone else slept. Talk about no distractions!

LOL, I've never heard of that as a superpower, but I would have to agree it would be pretty cool! Tell us about your latest release!

When her aunt steps off a grain elevator into the emptiness of a prairie evening, Mira Piper loses her one protector. Chloe, her flighty mother, impulsively drags her daughter to Bramblewood, an isolated spiritualist retreat in northern Michigan, run by the enigmatic Dr. Virgil Simon.

Chloe plans to train as a medium but it's Mira who discovers she can communicate with the dead. When her mother abandons her, Mira discovers a darker aspect to Bramblewood: the seemingly kind doctor has a sinister side and a strange control over his students.

Then one winter's day Troy Farrington arrives, to fulfill his mother's dying wish and deliver her letter to the doctor. But calamity strikes and he finds himself a captive, tended by a sympathetic Mira. Haunted by her dead aunt and desperate to escape Bramblewood, Mira makes a devil's deal with Dr. Simon. But fulfillment comes with a steep cost...betrayal.

Okay, you’re casting the movie version of your novel. Help us see how you visualize your characters - We’re talking dream cast!

I think Saoirse Ronan would make a great Mira. For Troy, maybe someone like Liam Hemsworth. And for Dr. Simon, I have no idea. I’m going to leave that up to the readers!   

I love Liam Hemsworth! He'd be a great Troy! Maybe someone like Alan Rickman for the enigmatic doctor...
Where can readers find your book and where can they find you online?

Links to buy book:

The Wild Rose Press:


Author Links:

Thanks for visiting today, Christy! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday Book Review: The Cowboy's E-Mail Order Bride, by Cora Seton

The Cowboy's E-Mail Order Bride, by Cora Seton
Published 2013 by One Acre Publishing

About the Book (from Goodreads):

Ethan Cruz should be mending fences on his Montana ranch, but instead he’s driving to the Chance Creek, Montana, airport – to pick up the bride he didn’t know he had. This latest salvo in his ongoing practical joke battle with his best friend, Rob Matheson, has gone too far, and Ethan plans to send his “bride” right back home, then get busy plotting his revenge. One look at Autumn Leeds changes his mind, however. Perhaps he needs a bride, after all. A breathtakingly beautiful city bride.

Autumn Leeds needs a story – fast – or she’s going to lose her lucrative contract with CityPretty Magazine, so when she sees the crazy video plea for a modern mail-order bride for a cowboy, it sounds like the story of the century. Making a video of her own, she casts herself as the perfect mail-order bride for a rancher, but when she finally reaches Montana, she’s surprised to find Ethan’s the perfect cowboy husband-to-be. Against her better judgment, her plan to keep her handsome groom at arm’s length disintegrates into a night of passion spent in his arms.

Ethan knows he can’t keep playing this game – he has to come clean with Autumn and tell her the truth; about the practical joke and about the state of his ranch. He’s about to lose it all because of the debts his mother racked up before his parents’ deaths. Now his sister, Claire, wants to sell the ranch and collect what little money they can. He’ll be out of a home and a job, and in no shape to support the bride he desperately wants to marry, after all.

Autumn’s in bigger trouble than ever. Not only has she fallen in love with the subject of her expose – she might be carrying his child. If she doesn’t write this article and secure her contract for another year, she’ll lose everything – her career, her apartment, and more importantly, her family’s approval. The only alternative is to stay and marry Ethan. But how can she trust a man she’s just met when she knows too well that men always let you down?

Can a love based on lies last?

My Take:

I have to admit I picked up this book because the title made me laugh. Well, and cringe a little as I hate when the word "email" is hyphenated. I'd never read a cowboy romance before this summer, but Devon McKay's Cowboy on the Run hooked me on the cowboy hero idea. bHowever, just like every vampire isn't as sexy as Eric Northman, not every cowboy romance has a swoon worthy hero. Luckily, Cora Seton delivers.

This is the first book in Seton's Cowboys of Chance Creek series. Her cowboys live on ranches in rural Montana, herding cattle, raising horses, drinking beer, and playing jokes on each other like friends who've known each other forever often do.  We meet this particular group of guys while they are waiting at the airport for the latest practical joke to play out.

One of Ethan Cruz's buddies posted a video on You Tube looking for a bride for Ethan. They filmed Ethan's drunken rant one night, edited and posted, then sorted through the applicants, all without telling Ethan. He's understandably pissed, and not sure what he's going to say when the unsuspecting woman gets off the plane.

Autumn Leeds has secrets of her own. A writer for a snarky NYC women's magazine, she answered the ad in order to write a sardonic article and secure her job at the magazine. She doesn't expect to actually fall in love with a cowboy, of all people, and barely expects to last the trial month she agreed to. And yet...

Sparks fly between them when Ethan and Autumn first meet. Watching them try to keep their secrets and try not to fall for each other is both hilarious and heartbreaking and makes for a fast, fun read.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Feature: Excerpt from Hebby Roman's New Release, MIDNIGHT PROMISE

Today I'm visiting with Angela Hayes on her blog, participating in her Thankful Author Roundup. You can come visit me there...

...and meanwhile, I have a little treat to make you thankful you stopped by! Hebby Roman visited my blog last month to talk about the Mexican tradition of Los Dias de Muertos, a holiday she researched for her latest romance, Midnight Promise. Today I've got an excerpt from that novel to share - enjoy!

Excerpt from Midnight Promise, by Hebby Roman

Ruíz's eyes appeared sleepy. His gaze lingered on her, open and unguarded for the first time since he'd returned home. And the admiration in his golden-brown eyes was unmistakable. Like a silent caress, his gaze slid over her. And her body responded immediately with a shuddering awareness and a hot rush of blood, making her dizzy.
"I believe a toast is in order." He poured a fresh glass of wine. "Won't you join me?"
Julia considered his offer and then shook her head.
He shrugged one broad shoulder and sauntered around the table. He stopped a mere breath from her. His own distinctive masculine scent mingled indiscriminately with the earthy aromas of the wines.
Ruíz propped one hip on the table. "If you won't take the credit for your plan, Julia, then I must toast someone. Me gustan los vinos. They are excellent. Paco is a genius." He lifted his glass again. "To Paco, the master vintner."
She scooted backward on the bench by the table, but he caught her arm and gave it a gentle squeeze. She faltered, enthralled by his touch. Tentatively, he rubbed his calloused thumb up and down the soft inner flesh of her arm.
The candlelight glowed softly behind him, and Julia was bewitched by his touch. Trailing tendrils of fire scorched her skin where his fingertips brushed her. Gooseflesh rose on her arms and her breasts swelled, hot and heavy.
He abruptly withdrew his hand, and she almost cried out. Almost. Instead, she took a shaky breath and prayed that he wouldn't notice how she was trembling.
He poured himself another glass of wine and raised it to his lips. He lowered the glass, but her gaze was riveted upon his lips, stained crimson from the wine.
He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, but his gaze never left her. And what she found in his eyes jolted her to the very core of her being. His brown sugar-colored eyes were dark with lust and something else, too. A look of longing. Their gazes locked in silent understanding. An understanding as old as time itself.
He finished the glass in one swallow and set it upon the table. "No more for me, I'm afraid. If I keep going, I'll drink up all the profits in one night." He quirked one eyebrow at her.
This was the Ruíz she knew, always in control. Sometimes, though, she despised his cold and aloof demeanor. A glimpse of the warm and more relaxed Ruíz had been welcome tonight, even if his usual guard had been eroded by Paco's wine.
He reached out and touched one of the braids of her hair. Gently, he tugged on the braid. "I used to tease you unmercifully when we were children, Julia. Do you remember? Pulling on your braids."
"Sí, I remember."
He grinned but didn't remove his hand. Instead, he gently threaded his fingers through her hair, working to release the interwoven strands and combing his fingers through them. She trembled again and her nipples pebbled into hard points.
What was he doing? What did it mean? And did she have the fortitude to push him away?
But when she tried to pull away, she couldn't move or speak. What he was doing to her hair was unspeakably intimate. And when he freed the coils of her hair, it was as if her body and heart soared free, too. Her hair fell about her face, unfettered, like a thick curtain. The strands caressed her shoulders and bare arms. A blind craving rose within her, turning her insides to masa and causing simmering heat to build between her thighs.
Melting slowly, from the inside out, she leaned into his arms.
He buried his hands in her hair and pulled her closer. Rational thought fled as she savored his hands stroking through her unbound hair. His touch was soft and tender, just as she'd always known it would be.
            "Your hair. How I've longed to … Julia. You are beautiful. So very, very beautiful."
            And then his mouth captured hers.
            She'd envisioned this--their first kiss. Ruíz's lips on her mouth, and his strong, muscular body pressed against her. She dug her fingers into the coiled strength of his shoulders. The hard planes of his chest crushed her breasts. The powerful sinew of his thighs molded themselves to her legs, making a mockery of the flimsy protection of her skirts.
            And the hard evidence of his desire swelled against her abdomen.
            His mouth moved over hers, tasting her fully. His lips were soft but firm. He grazed the corners of her mouth and tested the seam of her lips with his tongue. She opened to him, and he insinuated the hot tip of his tongue between her lips. Her body dissolved into his, her bones liquefying.
            With their mouths open and hungry, they devoured each other; their tongues intertwined.
            Tiny shivers of pleasure chased up and down her spine, and she clung to him, her body perfectly fitted to his. More than that, her body craved his. From the pit of her stomach the pleasure-pain wove itself through her heated blood, setting her female passage on fire--filling her with an achy, craving that had been long denied.
            His mouth feasted upon hers, and she responded with an equally fierce passion. The passion she'd felt for him since time began. The passion she'd freely bequeathed him. Ruíz was hers. She was his. Secretly, she had promised herself to him, long ago.                      
 ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
 Buy the Book on Amazon ~

About the Author: