Category Archives: book review

Look! A good book!

I’m a curmudgeon of a reader and I don’t read that much that gives me true delight. It’s because I’m an equal opportunity bitch and I can be as critical of other people’s books as I can of mine–and we’ve seen how critical I can be of myself. But maybe that’s why I keep reading. It’s that slot machine effect that if I just keep pulling that handle, one of these is going to pay off and make me really happy.

Enter Soulless, the first of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate. I’ve been doing a lot of flitting lately, and this one was very nearly a victim of my short attention span. It’s been on my TBR for some time, but I decided to give it a try even though I’ve got several things started right now. I just didn’t want to read any of them.

Well, Soulless didn’t grab me either. While it started out kind of amusing, it was a bit over the top. I’m not a comedy girl. I think of myself as a hardcore drama queen, and I was starting to think that this book was going to be just a bit too light for me, thank you. So I closed it on page 12 and went to bed. And it stayed closed for a few weeks until Kait started reading it.

Not suprisingly, Kait loved it. Kait loves the comedy. She likened it to Amelia Peabody. There’s another one I enjoyed at first but then got meh about because it was too light for me. And this kind of confirmed that this was not a book for me. But then Kait said something else. And it must have been on GoogleTalk since it wasn’t part of this post. Something about having left Alexia intertwined with the naked Earl of Woosley and needing to get back.

Now, friends, I am a simple girl. Some days this is all it takes for me to go back for a second look.

I picked the book back up and, wouldn’t you know, within the next two paragraphs I was completely hooked. Two paragraphs. Had I read far enough to see Alexia and Lord Maccon interact, their delightful chemistry and the promise of how Carriger was going to handle them, I would have been completely taken. I then proceeded to read the book as straight through as life would permit.

If you don’t know what it’s about, you can read that at Amazon. I don’t think I could do any better.

What I can tell you that the blurb doesn’t is that part of the delight of reading this book is that there were moments when I thought I could feel how much Carriger loved writing it. And in that way the Universe seems to have of pushing me around giving me helpful nudges in the right direction, I realized that was just the kind of thing I need right now. I needed to be reminded that, whether it’s light and funny, or dark and angsty, it’s important to remember that we love writing it.

That I love it.

So yes, it is all about me, isn’t it? Sorry for the self-indulgent tangent.

In a summary of tags:

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate #1)

Well-written, funny, strong heroine, excellent world-building, a take on vampires that is not yawn-inducing, steampunk lite, spinster gets her man, and, which perhaps I should have mentioned first, a hot werewolf.

 

 

 

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Thoughts on NOOK Color and Ereader shopping

So it’s Friday, the day when I like to talk about reading. I like reading ebooks. That’s probably an understatement. I’ve had an ereader for a few years now. I have hundreds of ebooks. I’ve finally parted with probably 400-500 of my paperbacks in the last year. (I donated most of them to a women’s prison through a woman who volunteers there.) I am one of those people who will pretty much always choose digital over paper, to the point where I’ll pass on a paper-only book now.

Shopping Considerations

This spring I upgraded from my Sony Reader to the NOOK Color. I had been wanting to do this, and I finally broke down when Barnes and Noble FINALLY opened up their app store. Unfortunately, their app store was pathetic and hugely disappointing, prompting me to root my new NOOK Color to function as an android tablet. Which is pretty freaking awesome.

See, first of all, I get pissy about the being told where to shop. I HATE proprietary formats. I don’t want to be bound to one shopping experience, one inventory, at the mercy of one store’s prices. I know that other places sell Kindle-compatible formats, but I’m very turned off by the fact that Kindle doesn’t read EPUB and when they decided to move forward with their exclusivity, I took them off my consideration list. I knew I wanted a device that would read EPUB.

I loved my Sony Reader, and when the cat knocked it off a table and busted the screen, I got a new (refurb) replacement device  for maybe 1/6th the cost of a new one at that time, with very quick turnaround. Kudos to Sony for that customer service experience. Demerits for the Sony ebookstore which has never been thrilling and, even before the agency pricing model, didn’t have impressive sales and pricing. Tech was getting far ahead of the device I had, and, let’s face it, I’m a serious ebook girl. It was time to start looking around.

One thing that I really looked into were digital comics. And let me tell you, those guys are still a mess. But they’re working on it. So far there’s an been an issue (with the WORLD) of forgetting that there’s life beyond Apple, and I’m not about to buy and iAnything, but there are plenty of Android peeps screaming at them and hopefully they’re going to get their acts together. But anyway, with reading that includes comics and magazines on my agenda, a color device was definitely a draw.

Great Things about the NOOK Color

It is beautiful. I am not one of those people who are bothered by looking at the screen. But then, I don’t always have the brightness turned all the way up and I change the text depending on the my environment. The NOOK Color even has a setting for reading in bed where the text is white against a dark background so there’s less light to keep your partner awake.

Basically what I tell people is that it’s bright and beautiful. Everything is very clear and crisp. I can read in any light and I can make the text as large as I need it. (I’m about to be 40 remember.) And the range of sizes is much about twice what I had on the Sony.

I really enjoy the touch screen and turning pages with swipe or just by tapping the edge of the screen. I like being able to highlight text and make notes, especially when proofreading my own work.

The size works for me. It’s a little tall, but not outside purse-carrying size. I don’t WANT anything bigger than this. It’s also a little heavier than my Sony Reader–it’s bigger and the screen is longer by probably 1.5 inches. I do get tired holding it in the same hand for extended periods. I’ve also had severe carpal tunnel and have lost a lot of muscle, so factor that in. I’ve got it in a third-party leather cover that latches and has pockets. I think the cover is actually made for e-ink NOOK and this one just barely fits. But it’s the size of a planner or trade paperback and easy to tote around, holdable with one hand, and not ungainly to whip out on the checkout line.

With basic NOOK you get Library, Shop, Apps, and Web.

Library and Reading

The library, the reading application on the NOOK Color, is very nice and I’m happy with the way it functions. It also uses real page numbers which I vastly prefer over the Kindle’s percentage/location system. It may take me 2-4 screens of text to read one page (depending on the size I’ve made the text), but it just makes more sense to me, personally.

The NOOK Color has this awesomely impressive kids function: read-aloud books. They’re basically enhanced picture ebooks with an option of having an audio track read on each page. The bummer is that it seems to be hard for kids to get the pages to turn, so you’re having to sit there and turn the pages and you may as well be reading the book yourself. And then some people don’t want a preschooler to touch their pricey ereader. (Not me, mine’s insured.) However, other people are putting out enhanced ebooks as individual apps, so NOOK Color hardly has a corner on this.

Shop

The NOOK book Shop is well integrated with the Library and buying a book or getting a sample is relatively quick and easy. Because the browser is a little slow, I’m not a good thumb-typist, and because I like to shop around, I do tend to do more shopping on the laptop, but the NOOK Color updates with my new purchases or samples right away.

Apps

Maybe the BN App Store has gotten better since I looked at it. When I first got my NOOK in the spring, the selection was pathetic. It was clear that BN would allow no apps that might compete with its own sales. So even though they don’t sell digital comics, no Comixology app, for example. (There were a few graphic novels available as apps. I think of individual book apps as just ebooks in a different format. Not quite the same thing and selection is poor.) And at the rate BN moves on anything, it was just damned depressing to think about having to wait for them to develop these things on their own.

Web

Web browsing is okay. Slow and I’m not good at the virtual keyboard, so putting in addresses and searching is annoying for me. I don’t use it much.

What’s on my rooted NOOK

I don’t actually know how to explain what rooting is and get it right. Basically, after @techsurgeons and my husband defined a few terms for me, I followed a set of instructions, downloaded some stuff, and now the NOOK is half what it was before and half Android tablet. So I have this whole other menu of stuff I can add whatever I want to.

Unfortunately, many apps are only “conventionally” available via the Android Market, and because I have a device that’s not supposed to be able to get this stuff, Android Market often tells me my device is incompatible and won’t let me download stuff. I use the Amazon App Store a lot, and I look other places to find work-arounds.

Reading

Kindle app– If I want to buy something specifically to increase someone’s Kindle rank, I can buy it on Kindle. Or if it’s only available in ebook on Kindle. Or if the price is less on Kindle. And I have to say that I do enjoy just the mischief value of it.

Interweave Knits Magazine– Interweave has had digital back issues for a while now, but when they finally made new issues available by subscription and said it was available for Android, I jumped. Unfortunately I then found that Zinio, the company actually handling the digital version, did not provide their Android app directly and it was one of those Android Market said was incompatible with my device. After I had already bought the subscription and customer service wouldn’t let me have the app to even try it on my device and had no solution for me at this time, I went around them and got it myself. Incompatible my ass. Interweave Knits looks BEAUTIFUL on the NOOK Color, and I can refer to those patterns when I’m actually in the yarn shop now.

Comixology– I finally got the Comixology app. Again it’s one that I had to track down because Android Market hates my device. I haven’t done a lot of reading with it yet, but, again, it looks beautiful.

Organization-

Cozi– I think I’ve mentioned before that I use the Cozi Family Planner to remind me about stuff. It reminds primarily through texts to my phone (my not a smartphone yet), which is good. But having the app in the NOOK allows me to use it as a date book. I can pull it out and add things offline, and then sync later.

SpringpadSpringpad is something I find hand for making notes for myself on the go. I thumb-typed most of the structure of Heroes Under Siege in the car one day when a song particularly inspired me. (No, I wasn’t driving.) I can never find a working pen in those moments, so had it not been for the NOOK in my bag, I probably would have forgotten half of that by the time I got home. Again, the kind of thing you can work offline and sync later, which is great for wi-fi only devices.

Dropbox-I was already a Dropbox user because of Kait. We trade manuscripts and stuff like that through Dropbox often. She uses it heavily for transferring between work and home computers. Taking my cue from her, I’m finding it’s great for transferring things easily from laptop to tablet. It’s also all but essential for installing some apps. (I need to point out, btw, that nearly all the apps I use are free. I never go looking elsewhere for an app to avoid paying for it, and don’t install apps without paying for them if there’s a charge. There’s no reason to, and honestly it’s too much trouble to go hunting something down if I can just pay a few dollars and install right there.)

Fun and Useful Stuff and Things

Chuzzle– Yes, we’ve covered that I’m Pop Cap’s bitch. I try not to put too many games on NOOK, but this is my fav.

Pandora– I think Pandora might have been part of the original NOOK Color setup. But whatever. Who doesn’t love Pandora? Speaker on the device isn’t great, but whatever. I’m not picky. (about that)

Stopwatch and timer– because sometimes that’s damned useful.

Netflix– !!! Is finally here. Another one I had to go hunt down because it’s incompatible, and another one that seems to work just fine.

Final thoughts

Battery life is an issue. I don’t know how well it works as just the basic reader. Running apps drains a battery and the fact that some of them are running when you don’t it can be problematic. A task manager app with a kill function is a must. I rarely have a problem, but when I was reading The Tipping Point like a mad woman over the weekend, I did have to read with it plugged in for a while.

There are some apps it would be cool to have that will never be compatible with the NOOK Color. No camera, no GPS, etc. I often think that, for the way I’m using it, as a date book through which I can also read books from anywhere, magazines, comics, proofreading and annotate my documents, IM my bestie from the McDonald’s playland… for all that stuff a genuine tablet might have been a better choice for me, especially if it meant that the Android Market would play nicer, though there’s certainly no guarantee of that–rooted NOOKs aren’t the only tablets tohave these issues, I believe.

I would have paid less for an e-ink device, but I’ve had one of those. I like this better and I’m getting a ton more use out of it. I paid less for this than an actual tablet. I’m getting a lot of use of out it, but also a lot of hassle.

I’d say that if you’re just going to use it for reading, you should consider your reading needs. Do you like e-ink? Is color a big part of your reading?

If you’re more like me and have the shop-anywhere issue, or the I want one device to rule them all issue, then it’s partly a matter of cost and what you can afford to put into it. The NOOK Color is definitely an less expensive alternative at this time.

But it’s also a matter of tech savvy, confidence, and tolerance for frustration. Rooting the NOOK Color isn’t hard, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s pretty freakin’ intimidating. I’m the kind of person who likes to learn stuff, and the kind who finds it rewarding to make things work that weren’t supposed to. So after the hair-pulling frustration, I get a lot of lasting satisfaction out of having made the world bend to my will. I’ll enjoy Interweave Knits more because Zinio’s customer service wouldn’t help me. (Which is very wrong.) However, if you don’t have that thing that I have, then it might not be worth it.

This is a pretty non-standard ereader device review. If you have any questions about the device, please feel free to ask me. I’m sorry that I’m able to provide info on everything I’ve read or a clear understanding of what I did. But perhaps knowing that understanding it all is not required may be helpful. I can no longer find the exact link(s) I used (I’ve changed computers since then), but I believe that everything you’d need can be found here.

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1000 Sales, Giveaway, Mini Writer Conference, and a Puzzle Piece

Hush Money went over 1000 total sales last night, within 12 weeks of release, and, naturally, I’m very happy about that. I’ve passed my break-even point as far money I’ve put into the book. Next financial goal would be to earn enough to pay for the art and copyright for Heroes ‘Til Curfew.

That’s going a little better, in that I think I’ve figured out why anything I manage to write has been so chock full of suck lately. Now that I know the problem, if I can figure out how to work through it, I should be able to get back to writing like crazy to get this book out by late December/early January.

I was really inspired by our mini conference over the weekend, which some people would call lunch, but whatever. Those of you who follow Kait and Lauralynn will already know that we drove from all directions to a central point to have lunch and spend a few hours talking about writing and indie stuff. Then Lauralynn and I met Zoe, who wasn’t able to make it to the lunch, and spent some time with her, too. I had a lot of fun. More importantly, I have been living so mojo-free since September, that it was a really big deal for me to get inspired by all the writer talk and actually whip out my notebook to jot down some ideas for my WIP when I got home.

The last bit of news I’ve been meaning to come and tell you comes from a lovely email exchange I had with one of my readers who is also an ebook enthusiast, just as I am. Except that, rather than stamp her feet over availability issues like I do, she just has multiple e-reader devices. Possibly this makes her my new hero.

Anyway, I’m not going to clip the email because I neglected to ask her permission, but she told me that she found me in a “Hot New Releases” list on her Kindle. I was on the romance list, on the 41-60 page when she found me, read the excerpt, and bought the book in mid-October. This coincides with the period of crazy sales I had on Amazon at that time.

Thank you, Amazon!

So why did Amazon put me there? Why Amazon does anything could probably be its own In Search Of… style TV series, but my theory here is about reviews. There’s been a rumor going around that 20 is the magic review number that gets Amazon to start recommending your book to others. I don’t know if that’s true. But I looked through my reviews and I can see that I got my 20th review on October 4th, so just after 8 weeks. I had also broken into the top 1000 for the first time by September 28th. Maybe it was a combination of those things that inspired Amazon’s algorithms to choose my book for that list.

I don’t know anything about the list itself, like how long I was on it, how often it updates, etc. I had broken into the top 1000 a two weeks before my reader saw my book on the list, but the sales I had around that time I know I was on it were the days I was firmly in the 600-700 range, when I hit my current best of 623.

Long story short, those reviews really count, and that’s as much of a lesson for readers as it is for writers. If a book made your day, if you want an author you enjoyed to succeed so she can keep writing, an Amazon review is a big deal and something that doesn’t have to take a lot of time.

Writers, make it easy. I should start counting the number of sites and blogs I visit where authors talk about their books and don’t link directly to the book on Amazon, or even mention anywhere one can purchase it. Admittedly, half of these are traditionally published authors who may think facilitating purchases is not their job for some reason. I don’t know. I’m not suggesting pop-up ads (don’t make me hurt you), just don’t make me search. I’ve got a lot on my plate.

[ETA: Now that PubIt! is finally here, a lot of us have been looking to generate more reviews over there for the Nook crowd. If you’d like to copy and paste your Amazon review to the PubIt! listing, I’d be grateful.]

Oh, did I say giveaway? Ok, in honor of the 1000 sales, how about if I send out a signed, paperback copy of Hush Money to someone who leaves a comment between now and October 31st.

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Filed under book review, Heroes 'Til Curfew, Hush Money, Increasing Kindle Rank, self-publishing, Talent Chronicles, tips, what not to do, writing

Interview: Stacey Wallace Benefiel

Today I’ve got an interview with indie author Stacey Wallace Benefiel, creator of the Zellie Wells trilogy. But before we start talking to Stacey about Glimpse, Glimmer, and Glow, I’m going to tell you how I met Stacey.

Having heard a buzz about Glimpse, I took myself over to Smashwords to buy a copy. There, in the spirit of supporting a fellow indie, I decided to try out the little tweet button on the side there that tells the world, “I’m looking at such-and-such by so-and-so on #Smashwords [link].” I’d never done that before.

Well, next thing you know, @Christel42 tells me that she followed my link and thinks this author is a long-lost friend from college. Christel is a friend I had only “met” a few weeks before when @kaitnolan suggested she might be willing to beta read Hush Money for me. And that was why she was following me, to see the link, to Google the friend, to get back in touch…and then we all lived happily ever after.

I was happy too because I got a great read and a cool new friend.

Here’s a great little blurb:

Zellie Wells has a devastating crush on Avery Adams. At her sixteenth birthday party, held in the basement of her dad’s church, she finally finds the courage to talk to him. Turns out, the devastating crush is mutual. As Avery takes her hand and leads her out onto the dance floor, Zellie is overwhelmed by her first vision of his death.

Here’s what I had to say about it:

This was a very enjoyable read. I enjoyed the two different character viewpoints, and seeing their mutual attraction. The author has an authentic teen voice which manages to create a vibe between the main characters that is undeniably sensual, and yet layered with a kind of young and clueless innocence that’s very sweet. The psychic concept on which the story is based felt fresh and had some nice surprises (nice for me, not always for the characters). I look forward to continuing reads in this series.

And now, on to the interview…

Glimpse, Glimmer, and Glow

Part of what I think is awesome about the Zellie Wells trilogy, is that, within the realm of paranormal romance, Zellie has an unusual ability which is portrayed in a way that’s very unique and refreshing. Do you remember what got you started in that direction and how you developed Zellie and her family?

You know, I don’t remember exactly how Zellie’s abilities came about.  It’s been five years since I finished the first draft of Glimpse and it has been through a lot of edits since.  My goal was to write a paranormal that didn’t have vamps, werewolves, faeries…any of that stuff because I’m not good at research (Okay, I’m super lazy) and I didn’t want to piss people off by not getting mythology right.  It had to be completely made up from my own brain.  I started off with something I thought was cool and a little bit controversial for a pastor’s daughter to have-visions of the future.  The rest of the abilities materialized as I wrote.  I tend to get myself in the weeds and then just write myself out of it.

Have these books be long in the making, or was this sudden inspiration?

Glimpse was a long time in the making-I had two kids between the time I wrote it and when I published it!  Glimmer and Glow-I’ve always had an endgame.  I may be crappy at plotting, but I always know how they are going to begin and end.  Compared to Glimpse, Glimmer and Glow have happened in a blip.

When you started with Glimpse, did you know that you had a trilogy on your hands?

Glimpse was originally much shorter and I sort of had a plan to write six short novels-like Gossip Girl sized.  However, when I started submitting it to agents I got slapped on the hand for trying to pitch novellas.  So, Glimpse became twice as long and I figured I could tell the whole story in three 50K-ish books.

Are there any spin-offs planned, more books about the Society?

Because Glimpse started out as more of a Family Saga type novel than strictly YA, I have lots and lots of backstory on Grace, Mike, Becky, Paul, Grandma Rachel, and Aunt Hazel.  At this point I feel like the Grace/Mike story has sort of played out through Zellie and Avery.  I do have some straight up crazy notes for a Rachel/Hazel prequel set in the 60’s that I might do something with.  I would love to do a Ben spin-off, but maybe more episodic novellas.  Ack-I just can’t give too much away on that one! J

Glimpse is out, Glimmer is in the latter stages of editing now, and Glow is on the horizon. Do you have projected release dates for the second two books in the trilogy?

Glimmer will be out in e-book and print November 1, 2010.  I’d like to be done with Glow by April and release it in June 2011.

What are your post-Glow writing plans?

Deep depression? J  I’ve got a bunch of beginnings of things on my hard drive.  A PNR novella series about human sacrifices and their guardian angels- although I’m going to start working more on that in the next couple of weeks.  I started writing a very dark, very adult novel when I was having a hard time getting Glimmer to cooperate.  I’m kind of skeeved that those characters live in my head, but I feel like it could be really good if I could get over myself.  It’s called The Perv and it’s about sex offenders.  Yeah.

I also want to try my hand at writing a YA romance about completely normal kids.  Daring, I know.

Like me, you didn’t set out to be a YA author on purpose. What happened?

Zellie wasn’t always the main character of Glimpse.  The original version paralleled her mom and Mike’s story along with her own.  So, they were all teenagers, but in two different times, obviously.  One publisher I sent it too told me there was too much stuff about adults in it for it to be YA, but that was what she thought it should be.  I Googled just what the hell constituted a YA novel and I mostly agreed.  I cut, OMG, I cut sooooo much.  And voila!  Glimpse became YA.  Since then I’ve realized that half the books I like to read are YA, so I think I’m in good company.

Tell me about your self-publishing experience…

My self-publishing experience has been very positive.  Getting to be involved in every aspect of the work is amazing and I’ve met so many awesome people!  I’m super cheerleadery about it.

You recently wrote a blog post on why you went indie. Are do you fall into one of the indie camps: I’m hoping to be picked up by NY vs. I’m indie forever? Or are you more of a put it out there and you’ll decide what happens if it happens?

When I first published Glimpse it was because I just wanted to do something with it.  I thought it was good and didn’t see the sense in letting it live on my computer.  My plan was to see what happened and then try and sell Glimmer and a newly revamped Glimpse together to NY.  That is not how I feel anymore.  I’ve had a great response to Glimpse and thoroughly enjoyed writing Glimmer.  I don’t want anyone to come along and eff that up.  I’m doing just fine on my own, thank you.  Now, foreign rights, tv or film rights, those are different.  I’ve always thought Glimpse would make a great television show.  They can use the old Everwood sets.

What advice would you give an indie author on the fence?

My first inclination is to say, “Stop being a big fat chicken. The world will not explode if you put something up on Smashwords.”  But, some people are delicate flowers.  To them, I would say, it makes me happy.  Don’t you want to stop getting rejection letters from interns and let the readers decide if they like your work or not?  Adjust the dreams you think you’re supposed to have.  Make your own way, you won’t regret it.

Did you format your own work for Smashwords, Amazon Kindle, and your CreateSpace print release? How was that experience?

I do format my own work.  I’m not a very computery person, but I at the very least can format so that it’s readable.  There were many tantrums the first go around. It will be much easier with Glimmer. I’m particularly proud of the print layout.  I think it looks lovely.

About Stacey

I’m a Midwestern chick.  I was born in Indiana, but grew up in Columbia, Missouri.  I’ve always written and done theatre.  I have degrees in English, Theatre, Culinary Arts, and floral design.  I’m still trying to pass my medical transcription final so I can work from home as an MT. I don’t embarrass easily and will perform a kick ass interpretive dance to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” whether drunk or sober.

Your Twitter moniker is @MomJeans1975. What’s that about?

That is me being a smartass and thinking I’m pretty dang funny.  It just makes me laugh.  I have a collection of “mommy” essays that is tentatively titled, “Bury Me in My Mom Jeans When I Die.”  It’s not professional and people don’t know it’s me half the time, but y’know, live a little peeps.

Vital stats:

Married, how long, how met or any interesting tidbit you’d like to offer, or not

Rob and I have been married for eight years, together for eleven.  We met while working at Tower Records in Marina Del Rey, CA.  He’d published a book of poetry that we sold at the store and I read it and pretty much decided that he’d be the guy I would marry.  We moved in together after dating for three weeks and that’s that.

Kids?

We have two kids.  Our oldest, Gus, will be 4 in November.  Our daughter, Arlo, will be 2 in December.

Pets?

We have two dogs-Ophelia and Chief and two cats-Simon and Willis.  Ophelia, Simon, and Willis have been with me since I was 20.  They are all on the verge of dying any day now and I am in denial.

What’s the worst job you ever had?

When I was in college one of my roommates and I were maids at a Ramada Inn in Eugene, OR.  This was the early ‘90s and The Grateful Dead toured in Eugene.  Cleaning rooms that 12 hippies and all of their assorted dogs and drugs had stayed in was just about the least fun ever.  I’ve also been a cook in an Alzheimer’s facility.

What are your non-writing interests? Any on-going projects? Play any musical instruments? Dance a mean tango or sew a fine seam?

My non-writing interests are community theatre, cooking, and reading.  I am the most terrible seamstress in the world.  I got a D+ on the apron I made in Home Ec.  I can play the piano, clarinet, and oboe.  I’ve always wanted to play the drums, though.  For my 40th birthday I’m considering going to Rock n Roll camp to fulfill that dream.

I hope you enjoyed learning more about Stacey. I did! She’s funny and fun to hang out with, and so are her characters. Buy Glimpse, and go follow Stacey all over the place.

Glimpse is available at Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats and on Smashwords in a variety of ebooks formats.

Stacey can be found at her website, on her blog, on Twitter, and Facebook.

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Filed under author blog, book review, books, Guests, interviews, romance, self-publishing, writing

Click Here for Free Book

I’m just back from a week at Disney. We’re very lucky in that our family has had a house not too far from there since approximately the dawn of time. Unfortunately, said house, being of the dawn of time vintage, is an internet-free zone. So this last minute jaunt has kept me unplugged for the last week. Whew. Glad to be back.

Although I fretted about it, Hush Money has done pretty well in my absence. Whether I’m around or not shouldn’t really make too much difference, I suppose, given that I’m a lousy self-promoter. Up to the minute total sales, for what is not quite 2 weeks yet, is 31 copies.

Now that I’m home, once I get out from under all the little back home, back-to-school details, I really need to buckle down and get some writing done on book two, Heroes ‘Til Curfew.

Meanwhile, I would love more exposure for Hush Money and have free copies of the ebook available for reviewers. If you would like to leave a review at Amazon, and/or review the book on your blog, etc., please feel free to drop me a line or just let me know in a comment to this post.

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Jo Leigh’s Kidnapped!

Kidnapped!When I finally realized my mental health would benefit from picking up a book and getting away for a while instead of trying to do everything, I picked up Kidnapped! by Jo Leigh

It was a really enjoyable read.  One of the things I love about category romance is that when you find an author who knows how to write at category length, the story really moves without extra baggage to slow the pace.  That’s how this book was.  I was never bored.  I picked it off the shelf in the evening and tried to read it, and wouldn’t you know that that’s when my husband, who rarely speaks, decided to be all interactive guy.  See book, cue conversation mode.  After he went to bed, I read for a few hours, didn’t really want to put it down but did, got up this morning and finished it. 

It’s a bodyguard story; gotta love it.  Michael’s been Tate’s driver/bodyguard for about six months when the story begins, and there’s already an unspoken attraction between them.  Tate’s an heiress who’s already had two traumatic kidnapping experiences.  Her father and her own fear keep her in a very controlled and secure lifestyle which she begins to feel is keeping her from actually living.  Her therapist suggests that she try hiring a “fake” kidnapping, so that she can face her fears in a pseudo safe environment.  Michael thinks this is a lousy idea, and then everything goes wrong.

I’m not going to say any more about it, because I like to be surprised when I read.  It was a solidly good book that kept me turning the pages.  Recommended.

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Linda Howard’s White Lies

White Lies CoverI loved this story. I am the biggest sucker for amnesia stories. I’m pretty sure it’s part of being a recovering soap addict (TV soap, though, not book soap).

The FBI comes to Jay Granger and asks her to identify her ex-husband, Steve Crossfield who is in a coma. She hasn’t seen Steve in five years. Their divorce was fairly amicable, with no hard feelings, but no real other feelings either, and she has rarely thought about him since they parted ways. Steve was involved in an explosion and is the sole survivor. Her yes or no can at least narrow down for them who the survivor was. But the man in the ICU bed at Bethesda, under naval guard, has so many injuries that he looks more like a mummy than her ex, and even when the bandages come off, given the extent of the damage and plastic surgery, he still won’t look the same. His fingerprints are burned away and even his voice was damaged.

Confused and upset, Jay identifies the man as Steve. And when her presence seems to have a positive affect on him, the government asks her to stay and aid his recovery. Steve recovers with superhuman speed, pushing himself with an iron will she had never guessed he possessed. He’s not the same happy-go-lucky adventurer she was married to five years ago, but a hardened warrior. And the warrior needs her and depends on her in a way that the casual and aloof wanderer never had.

Once Steve is out of the coma, he can’t remember who he is. A lot of things come back to him, but nothing personal, and nothing about Jay, which he finds most frustrating. She is the one thing he wants to remember, to remember how they messed up the first time so that he can do things right now that they are together again.

There’s some really good mushy stuff in this book, like when Jay is talking to Steve in the coma and we read what he’s thinking. And there’s a cameo by a previous book character.

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Sherri L. King’s Steele

Steele coverWell, I finally gave in and bought an ebook from Ellora’s Cave.  Steele, a novella-length story just under 100 pages, is the first book in Sherri L. King’s Sterling Files series.  We don’t learn too much about Sterling, except that it’s a research company that studies people with “special abilities”, is funded by the government.  Sterling is rivaled by Siren Corp., a company which also studies such people, but with an aim toward designing questionable technologies based on their powers.

Brian Steele, known simply as “Steele” throughout, is first seen as an undefeated 13yo champion, fighting adult competitors in a world of illegal boxing.  He’s an interesting character, and you can see a depth and a lot of possibility to be developed.

Years into the future, having spent may years at Sterling, Steele uses his powers for good.  We see him again when he rescues newly “gifted” Marla Rivers from the clutches of Siren Corp.  Marla has just come out of a year long coma and seems to have some facility with electricity.  Thanks to Steele’s intervention, Marla agrees to be studied by Sterling. 

And there’s not a whole lot more to the story.  It’s an erotic novella, so I guess there’s not a lot of time to develop more about Marla’s powers, the research, nor to present any conflict within the relationship between Marla and Steele.

If you like to just see people dive into a relationship because they’re obviously meant to be together (and there’s nothing wrong with that!) then you’ll probably like this.  I wanted more.  More development of the characters, of the story, of their relationship…  There was a little too much perfection for me, the waif with the core of iron and her gentle giant.  It felt a little too much like wish fulfillment to me.

Still, it engaged me for a while, I’m interested in the concept overall and am sort of curious.  So I might read on in the series eventually.

In other news, it was a bad spending day for me.  I also bought Shiloh Walker’s The Hunters: Declan and Tori from Ellora’s Cave and from Amazon ordered Shannon McKenna’s Edge of Midnight, Brenda Novak’s Dead Right, and Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.  Bad Susan.

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Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale

For those of you to whom it applies, Happy Independence Day!

Flowers from the Storm coverI should be better about posting about books than I am.  Usually I finish one and pick up the next and life happens and pretty soon I feel like I don’t remember it enough to give it a real review.  I think I’m getting to the age where I actually need to take notes on anything over 250 pages.

I read Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm.  Man, people have loved this book.  In the beginning, I thought it was incredible.  It was one of those books that makes me feel like I should never pick up a pen again.  The duke, Jervaulx, meets the spinster Quaker, Maddy, early on.  Nothing momentous, no sparks flying, but you can sense that there could be, maybe.  Not overdone; good job.  Then Jervaulx seems to have what I guess is a stroke that incapacitates him to an extent and lands him in an asylum.  And that’s where the strength of the book is, in Kinsales ability to render for us what life is like inside Jervaulx’s damaged mind.  It’s incredible, really.  Fortunately for Jervaulx, circumstance causes Maddy to visit the asylum.  And you can see where this is going.  This whole part is very well done and it’s not a simple matter of she sees he’s not crazy and gets him out.  His inability to speak and understand, his constant frustration with his circumstances and poor treatment make him prone to violent outbursts, and he vascillates between loving and hating her.  And she has this religious thing going on which causes her to put up with his stuff. 

The rest of the 500+ page story gets a little wearying for me.  Just because I have this thing about overkill when it comes to external conflict.  Her religion, his position, forced marriage, deception, his family after his money, the constant threat of return to the asylum, differences of position, lifestyle, outlook…  It started to seem like she threw every possible obstacle she could think of at them.  I swear if one more thing had come up, I would have screamed.  The first part was sooo good.  So unique and skillfully presented.  Then it became so much like every other Regency and surrounding time period book, down to there had to be a ball– ever wonder how Wellington ever got anything done in his life with all the novelized balls he’s had to attend?

It’s not that it dragged.  I read it right through.  It’s a solid book, and the part that relates to Jervaulx’s affliction pushes it to great.  It’s just that, for me, all the stuff that kept happening took away from the love story and made me weary.  But I’m very glad I read it, and still recommend it.

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