Sunday, December 30, 2012

#AuthorInterview Annamaria Bazzi writer of paranormal fantasy

Today, I'm happy to introduce Annamaria Bazzi, a fellow CritiqueCircle.com author who I've had the pleasure of receiving critiques from. Annamaria has just published her first short story, A Simple Matter of Justice.

Describe your childhood. What were some of your favorite activities? Games?
My childhood was an adventure that began when my father kidnapped us and took his three children, my brother, sister and me, to Italy. I met strangers that soon became my loved family, you know, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and many cousins. I had two sides to my personality, the creative kid that made up fantasy games to play with cousins, and the tomboy who could outrun any of my brother’s friends, he’s two years older than me.
It was in Italy that the passion for writing sprouted, but because I was an excellent runner, one my father and PE teacher recognized, I was kept after school to train in the high jump and sprint. I’ve never been a long distance runner. Unfortunately, for my career in sports, my mother was able to get her hand on her children and without a passport or permission from my father, kidnapped us back to the United States. Once back, my mother forced me into the mold of a young woman through ballet and piano lessons. It wasn’t until high school that I found a teacher, Mrs. Allen, who recognized my talent for telling stories and creating characters.
  
Goodness, what  drama you endured as a child. At least you got to grow up in two different cultures. Did you dream of being a writer or something else?
I started writing in secret at the age of eight, writing little stories I hid in my drawer. They were for my eyes only. It wasn’t until high school that I started to write for others to read, and it all began because of one teacher who recognized some hidden talent I had a hard time seeing. After that, though, I took creative writing all through college. Real life caught up with me, and I found myself with a real job, a husband, a house, and soon followed the four jewels of my life—Amanda, Amelia, Alessa, and Ariana. I started writing again when I finally had a chance to quit my job and stay home to raise my treasure.

That's wonderful. I know you grew up in several cultures and are multi-lingual. Has that helped your writing adventure?
My adventure through life never really stopped… the greatest adventure and challenge has been my marriage. I’m a hard fast Roman Catholic, but married a Lebanese Moslem I met at Wayne State University. Not counting religion, the cultural differences alone are enough to send anyone into a never-ending whirlwind. Believe me, it’s pretty dizzying. The challenge of raising children, especially girls, can be a dividing monster. We managed, and next July will be our twenty-eight wedding anniversary.

Congratulations! You've certainly lived a multi-cultural adventure. I bet it gives you a lot to write about. Any advice for upcoming authors?
If your dream is to be an accomplished author, you need to put your name out there, in the form of a blog, way before you intend to publish. Dedicate your blog to promoting other authors, their fans will come to your blog. With time, they will recognize your name and when you publish, they will try your book.

It is very important to have an editor comb through your work, quality is most important. Also, a professional book cover is a must. Most of all, don’t ever give up on your dream. Take classes to improve your craft, and surround yourself with supportive people.

Great advice, Annamaria. You've helped me with my stories by pointing out inconsistencies. You're quite a skeptic. Tell us about your first story.

The first work I’ve published is a very long, paranormal short story, A Simple Matter of Justice, to give readers a taste of my writing style and storytelling abilities. I’m preparing the way for my urban fantasy, Trapped in a Nightmare, that should be coming out sometime in March. I enjoyed writing this unusual story, and hope others will also enjoy reading it.

The blurb:

Brutally murdered, Samantha discovers her life doesn’t end with her death. While in spirit form, she speaks with a wolf, which offers her a chance to bring her killer to trial…but there are strings attached. Even so, she accepts his proposal, and together they hunt the city. However, when the man responsible can’t be located, she worries the wolf’s proposal might be more than a simple matter of justice.


A Simple Matter of Justice is sold at






Although born in the United States, Annamaria Bazzi spent a great deal of her childhood in Sicily, Italy, in a town called Sciacca. Italian was the language spoken at home. Therefore, she had no problems when she found herself growing up in a strange country.
Upon returning to the states, she promised herself she would speak without an accent.
She attended Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Computers with a minor in Spanish.
Annamaria spent twenty years programming systems for large corporations, creating innovative solution, and addressing customer problems. During those years, she raised four daughters and one husband. Annamaria lives in Richmond Virginia with her small family where she now dedicates a good part of her day writing.

You can visit Annamaria at:
@AMBazzi twitter

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Count Your Blessings - A Merry Christmas to All


This is the time of year for family, friends and loved ones. It is also a time of giving and remembering those who have passed on. But most of all, Christmas is a time to count your many blessings, because no matter how bad the economy is, or how sad world affairs are, each and every one of us has been given the gift of life. And as a gift to you, all my books are FREE for the holidays. [Click here]

Here are my blessings:
1. My mother turned 80 this year and is in great health. We spent her birthday hiking at Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma.
2. I'm still married to my wonderful husband despite the fact I'm not a great housekeeper or cook.
3. My eldest son is a senior in college. He took a trip this summer by himself to China and made it back with all organs intact.
4. My daughter survived her first winter in Michigan, first year of college, and first year of marriage and won the Provost scholarship for top freshman.
5. My youngest son is in sixth grade and still wants me to play video games with him even though I am a complete spaz.
6. I self-published three books this year. Michal's Window in February, Your Daily Bible Verse in July, and Broken Build in September.
7. My pastor, Devon Ortiz, is leading and invigorating our church to grand new possibilities.
8. I was honored to be included by Melissa Foster as one of her World Literary Cafe volunteers.
9. I have met and made hundreds of new friends through writing my books and blogging.
10. I have the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Saviour.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Acts 16:31 Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.

This Christmas, remember the greatest gift you can ever receive is the one God gave. Receive his Son as your personal Saviour and be blessed, my friend.

Monday, December 24, 2012

#BookChat CIRCLE DANCE by Lynne Constantine #womensfiction #greece



Young, smart and beautiful with everything figured out – or so they thought. Born into a prosperous Greek American family, sisters Nicole and Theodora have achieved the perfect balance between the old world rich in Greek tradition and the freedom of life in America. Headstrong and independent, Nicole plunges into life head-first, too often ignoring the risks. Her talent and astute business acumen make her the perfect heir to her father’s empire, but his old-world attitudes prevent him from giving the top spot to a woman. Nicole’s world spins out of control when she falls for a married senator who shares her heritage and her dreams. While struggling to navigate previously uncharted moral waters, she uncovers treachery and corruption that will break both her sister’s and her father’s heart. The decisions she makes will affect the happiness of those closest to her and will define the woman she is to become. The young and conventional Theodora weds and quickly learns that marriage is not the paradise she envisioned. She must soon confront the growing suspicion that her husband is not the man he seems. Forced to endure the constant disdain and disapproval of her patrician mother-in-law, she resigns herself to the fact that she will always be considered an outsider. As she struggles to succeed at her marriage, she seeks the wisdom and council of her beloved Greek grandmother who has been happily married for over half a century. Ultimately she must come to terms with the reality of her own life and take responsibility for the role she has played in deceiving herself. As the dramatic plot unfolds, the two young women must confront deceit and betrayal and their own shortcomings – while they struggle to preserve the values they cherish. Set in Baltimore, Annapolis and the tiny island of Ikaria, Greece, Circle Dance provides a view into the lives of a dynamic family that has successfully achieved the American dream without abandoning the customs and traditions handed down through their Greek heritage. Artfully intertwined plots bring generations together in a dance of rejoicing and mourning, loss and healing that will keep readers enthralled until the last page.

What Circle Dance means to me
            When my sister and I first agreed to collaborate on a story we constructed one similar to what we loved to read at the time – stories about women, their emotional lives, and the choices they make in life.  Our first characters were three sisters – beautiful, blonde, rich, and American.  The story was a struggle and we realized that we were not writing about what we knew or even about what spoke to us – but rather to what was popular and interesting at the time.

            We talked about the fact that there were very few stories about the Greek American experience.  While similar to other ethnic stories – there are unique aspects to being Greek that we felt needed to be shared.  Growing up in a close, tight-knit, community, surrounded by families that had been friends for generations, there was much to be enjoyed about the experience.  Being second generation Greek Americans, our loyalties were very much in the American camp.  There was a sense of rebellion and wrestling against the tight constraints our grandmother, and to a lesser extent our mother, tried to put on us.  The admonition to marry inside the Greek community fell on deaf ears for all three of my siblings as well as myself.  We all married wonderful people who brought their own unique heritage and traditions into the tapestry of our lives.  Circle Dance is a reminder to them as well – to embrace their beginnings and to never forget that we all come from someplace else.  Before writing Circle Dance,  we didn’t give much thought to what our grandparents and their own parents had sacrificed in order to improve their lives in a new country.  Sophia, the wise grandmother, reflects on this fact during a time of crisis in the lives of the Parsenis family:
Sophia was proud of her family in this time of uncertainty and apprehension.  They had drawn together around Nick and Eleni, supporting them with their prayers and their presence.  She was thankful to be alive to see the fruits of the teaching she and Andreas had tried to instill in their children and grandchildren. Sophia’s own mother, Vasiliki, had not been so fortunate.  By the time Sophia and Andreas could afford to make the long voyage back to Greece, Vasiliki was dead. She never saw her daughter’s children.  It was only now that her own children and grandchildren were grown that Sophia fully appreciated just how much her mother had missed.  Perhaps she was too busy as a young woman to give it much thought or perhaps it was too painful to dwell upon in those days when there was nothing she could do to remedy it anyway.  But now she realized the emptiness that she and all the other immigrants left in the souls of parents who knew they would very likely never again set eyes on their offspring, their parenting abruptly terminated and ended forever.  Her mother had never challenged her decision to leave for America and never, she now realized, allowed her to see the sorrow she felt at her departure.  They were brave, these parents who were left behind alone and childless, and they were openhanded in their unstinting generosity to let go.
            Looking back to my childhood I now realize that I took for granted the privilege of knowing first-hand my grandmother- fresh from the Greek soil - her Greek accent and customs intact.  It tied me closely to my roots and cemented forever my connection to Greece and things Greek.  My own children,  only half Greek feel no such connection.  I have to build for them, layer by layer, an understanding of the importance of knowing your heritage and of being tied to something that came before.  Circle Dance is my legacy to them - a view into a world they will never literally enter – but one in which they can vicariously enjoy.  May they taste the home-baked bread my Yiayia so lovingly prepared - the butter melting into its warm folds -sugar sprinkled on top.   It is my hope that in these pages, they will one day discover the wonderful traditions and customs that are rooted in their genetic makeup.  That they might one day desire to return to the country of their origin and appreciate its beauty and splendor.  Whatever their response – of one thing they can be assured – Circle Dance was a true labor of love for my sister and me.  I hope they will pass it along to their children one day and that the legacy will continue.

Picture of Ikaria:


Readers' Reaction:

Circle Dance has captured the essence of the Greek American experience.  Full of plot twists and turns, it is a page-turner, appealing to Greeks and non-Greeks alike.  Bravo to these two talented authors."

Olympia Dukakis

Circle Dance is one of my favorite books. I rarely read books more than once, but this is one of the few I've read several times. I love reading about the close-knit Parsenis family, and their challenges and triumphs. The writing is wonderful, and I can truly imagine what it would be like to be a Parsenis! For me, it's the perfect leisurely read, ending just the way I want it to! I'm always a little sad when I finish the book and look forward to the next book by these talented authors! I highly recommend this book!  Diane Kuczo


Sisters Lynne and Valerie Constantine must be very close, almost thinking as one. In Circle Dance, they have created a seamless classic which takes you on a dynastic journey from the humble islands of Greece to the American Dream of New England. Their story bridges the culture gap from one European country to one corner of the States, but its appeal is universal... Garry Kay, Author of "Don't Fear the Reaper"


I loved this book. Once I started, I couldn't put it down. I had to know what was going to happen next to Nicole and Theodora, who became like sisters to me. It was so refreshing to read about women who are intelligent, hard-working and family-oriented. I could identify with the characters and their struggles, heartaches and joy. Coming from an Italian-American background, I could also identify with so much of the Greek characterizations - the Greek grandmother in Circle Dance was always giving everyone the "evil eye" - I had to laugh because my own grandmother always talked about the "evil eye." So many of the Greek customs are similar to cultures throughout the mediterranean. I've read so much recently about life in the Middle East and India, particularly, that I loved reading about a culture that was familiar to me. Reading this novel definitely felt like "coming home."  Madeline Monde


Behind The Scenes:

I found the benefits of writing with a co-author (my sister Valerie) far outweighed the drawbacks. During the often lonely and rejection laden path from writing to publication – my sister and I comforted, encouraged and cheered each other on. Rarely did we both feel like giving up at the same time and our collaborative efforts were in large part the driving force behind our perseverance and success in overcoming the daunting odds of traditional publication. When Circle Dance was first released in 2004 we heaved a sigh of relief and felt confident that it would soon climb to the top of the New York Bestseller list. Na├»ve about the publishing world, we had no idea how much we didn’t know. Our small publisher was no match for the large houses and we soon found out that the marketing efforts would fall largely on our shoulders.  Being a new mom of twins, I had barely enough time to shower, let alone market our book. My family had also just moved 200 miles away, making any joint efforts with my sister nearly impossible. At the time, the only way to sell our book was to make personal appearances and visit bookstores and libraries.  We did manage to sell most of our initial print run through talks at women’s groups, book clubs and select bookstores and we garnered some great reviews and press.  However, neither of us was in the position to travel the country promotingCircle Dance and we had no other means to do so as social media marketing had not yet come fully into its own
We ultimately decided to purchase our book rights back and put the book aside for a little while.  This past summer, Valerie and I began to go through the book and edit it one more time. When we originally wrote Circle Dance, we followed an outline rather strictly and assigned chapters to each other. One drawback of writing with a co-author is the tendency to feel constrained by agreed upon plot lines - neither of us felt free to allow the story to change as organically as we might had it been written solo.  This time we discussed areas that didn’t ring true to us, characters that needed strengthening, dialogue that needed re-writing and plot points that needed tweaking. Over the summer we revised and improved Circle Dance and by fall were ready to share it again with the public. It became available in e-book formats and paperback in November.  While we have always loved the characters and the story, we believe that our changes have made Circle Dance into a better book that tells the story in a more fluid and dynamic manner. 
About Lynne:

Lynne wrote her first book, Circle Dance, with her sister Valerie. Circle Dance was a legacy of love fueled by the desire to pass on to their children the traditions and experiences unique to them as second generation Greek Americans.   Lynne was raised in a close-knit family surrounded but extended family and “adopted” family through the Greek community.  Both she and her sister wanted to leave a legacy for their children and future generations of a bygone era. 
Lynne attended Hellenic College where she earned her undergraduate degree in Human Development. She went on to earn her masters degree in Business Administration at Johns Hopkins University.    She has an extensive marketing background and over eighteen years of business experience.  She left the corporate world in 2000 to pursue her writing full time. She has written for magazines and journals but her true passion is fiction.
A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Lynne relocated to the New York area with her husband and children. In addition to her writing, she is active in her church and local community.   She serves on the board of her town’s Women’s League – a philanthropic organization dedicated to helping women and children.  She is passionate about education, reading, health, and wellness.   She enjoys traveling, spending time on the beach and talking walks with her family and their adorable golden retriever. 
Lynne is currently at work on her next book, a thriller.

LINKS

website:  www.lynneconstantine.com - links to buy are all here
Barnes and Noble:  http://bit.ly/ZB7v0f

Saturday, December 22, 2012

#BookChat INTAGLIO by Danika Stone - wildfire relationship set against the backdrop of the modern art scene




Set against the backdrop of the modern art scene, Intaglio: The Snake and the Coins follows Ava Brooks, art student and graffiti artist, as she begins a wildfire relationship with fellow student, sculptor Cole Thomas. Their sudden connection results in a passionate affair which sparks a series of increasingly vivid dreams. In them, Ava finds herself drawn into a memory of another life: one that she and Cole shared. As each dream brings the memory of her past closer, the two of them must unravel the events that once tore them apart, or risk repeating the same mistakes all over again.  (Volume 1 of 2).

From the Author
About a hundred years ago (or so it feels) I was a poor university student sharing a painting studio with my much-more-talented friend: B.  I had a smidgen of artistic talent, a dollop more writerly prowess, and hell of a lot of frustration with the Art world.  I’d paint and I’d rant, and B would smile and nod, honing his craft while I spun out tales to fill the hours.  Somewhere along the way, I suddenly realized that I had a story to tell, and I began to jot it down.

The years of university passed in a blur.  People came in and out of my life, but the urge to write never left me.  Along the way, I had a burning-up-the-page romance of my own.  He was another student: a fantastic artist and the man I’d eventually marry.  Suddenly the story I was imagining pulled into focus: it wouldn’t just be about Art, it would be about love and fate and soulmates too! I hatched out a rough plot and the words began to pour out, chapter after chapter appearing almost by their own, the characters blurring into the artists I knew and loved. 

Everything seemed poised to come together, but then school ramped into high gear.  With graduation came marriage and mortgages, jobs and security, and in the midst of all the busyness of life, I simply got too busy to finish story I was trying to tell.

It wasn’t that I meant to stop… LIFE happened.

Jump forward fifteen years.  My friend B was now a critically acclaimed artist, with gallery representation and a client list the length of my arm.  I was a grad student as well as a freelance artist and writer who taught New Media to make ends meet.  I’d married the man I’d met in art school, and while we had an amazing life, the book I’d once dreamed about still wasn’t written.  What I didn’t know, was that life was about to give me a wakeup call.

I’d always been healthy.  It was somewhat of a badge of honour to come through my yearly checkups with flying colours.  This time, however, the doctor picked up a very faint ‘murmur’ in my heart and sent me for an echocardiogram.  After a battery of tests, I was informed that I had a heart condition.  It was a huge blow to realize that I couldn’t do everything!  The first thing was to reduce stress.  I started cutting back on all the extras I did: those things that ate up my time and took away from the things I really wanted to do.  The diagnosis was a reminder to be a little selfish, to think about what drove me, what got me excited about life, and what made me really, truly happy. 

I started writing again.

Intaglio is the result.  It’s the ‘rest of the story’ that I started (and forgot) so many years before.  It’s a dark romance, wrapped up in a paranormal storyline, reflecting not only my experiences of art school, but the things I learned along the way.  The characters, like B, from my studio days are hidden in it, and the long-ago story I began has evolved into something I’m finally happy with. 

Is it perfect?  No, but life never is.  It does, however, tell a love story in a unique way, gives a snapshot into both the illegal and illegal sides of the Art world, and shares a little of the truth I’ve learned along the way.  In a way, this book is a piece of art, just as much as any painting I struggled to complete, and that makes me happier than anything else.

eader's Reactions
“A fantastic first effort from an author to watch. I enjoyed the book immensely and look forward to her next offering.”  Outlaw Poet, Amazon Reviewer, Top 1000 Reviewer, Amazon

“Intense and emotional… a well written story.”  L.Sims, Top 1000 Reviewer, Amazon

“Danika Stone writes with the same incredible energy with which her characters create… Taut, energetic, and fast-paced.”  M. Parker, Author

I found myself cheering for the characters throughout the course of the books.”  D.R. Loeffler, Editor

“Intaglio is at once a coming of age story and an epic romance… A captivating exploration of what it means to find a soulmate.”  E. Dropkin, Author

Behind the Scenes
While the characters in Intaglio are fictitious, the art they create is based on the work of real artists. Check out the Intaglio: Resources section of www.danikastone.com for links to these artists and their real life artwork!

Biography and Links
Danika Stone is a writer of contemporary fiction with a focus on strong female narratives.  An educator, artist, grad student, and mother of three, her involvement in the Arts and New Media, has spanned a decade and a half.  Danika’s personal experiences and numerous friendships with contemporary artists, are the inspiration behind this story. Her favourite reader and collaborator is her husband of fifteen years, D, who met Danika in a university Art class.

Danika’s series, Intaglio, is available for purchase, both in paperback and Kindle formats from Amazon.   Resources for Intaglio, and previews for her next books, Tathagata and Ctrl Z, can be found on www.danikastone.com  and you can chat with Danika at @danika_stone on twitter.


Friday, December 21, 2012

#BookChat TRUTH by Aleatha Romig


Aleatha Romig talks about her second book Truth.


Truth is the second in the Consequences series.  I must agree with other readers and reviewers, if you haven’t read Consequences, please stop reading this!  You must read Consequences first!  It is currently only $0.99 on Kindle and Nook, so download today!  Once you have experienced the Consequences, you will be ready to learn the Truth!  

The allure of my series is the unpredictability! I love to read twists and turns and I hope I shared many of those with my readers!  Truth is not a standalone book... it takes off where Consequences ends.  And I don’t want to give away any spoilers!

I will let Alexis from Goodreads tell you about the continuing saga of Tony and Claire – she nailed the synopsis!!

Truth begins as Claire is released from prison, after doing an eighteen month stint. Shocked yet grateful she seeks solace in sunny California with an unexpected friend.  Happy days of freedom don't last forever because when Tony gets word of her release....Well....Let's just say he is none too pleased. His unhappiness, however, does not stem from her newly found freedom but from his loss of control. AND that he still wants her, something he never anticipated.

A new game begins with a host of new players. Unbeknownst to him, puppet master Tony is no longer pulling the strings. There is someone more EVIL lurking around to take out both Claire and him. This new puppet master is ten times colder, twenty times more calculated and very much determined to win.

Truth takes off with a BOOM and keeps up the momentum at high rate speed; with a perfectly spun web of events that are mind consuming.  Romig has crafted a well-developed plot, strong characters and jaw dropping story lines. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time as the truth is slowly revealed piece by piece.

I love the reviews that talk about how their previously conceived ideas and opinions are shattered as they learn the truth behind the consequences.  I believe that is why I wrote Truth.  I wanted to know why Tony did what he did.  I mean we have a glimpse, but that wasn’t enough.  I also wanted answers... where any of the emotions in Consequences real?  Was Stockholm syndrome the only reason for Claire’s emotions, or was there more? 

I wrote Consequences as a standalone book.  I left the end open, just in case.  I didn’t know the answers or the Truth until I began to type.  I love having a story unfold behind my eyes and come to life on the page while I am helpless but to follow.  Tony and Claire and other wonderful characters have a life of their own and I am just the one chosen to share it.  Some of the developments in Truth surprised me as much as you!

I also wanted to reinforce my opinion of Claire’s strength.  She is in a terrible position in Consequences... she does what she needs to do to survive.  In Truth she is real! She is free, surrounded by friends and able to stand up for herself.  I love her new found independence and especially her smart mouth! I think Tony also finds it intriguing!!! 

What have the readers thought??
Nia: Goodreads:  Brilliant! Best of the Best! Aleatha Romig does it again! Truth is well written, powerful and full of unexpected twists and turns. Each character is playing their angle and will surprise you. With Truth, the real truth is to trust no one.

Wow, if Consequences was all about actions and consequences, then Truth is all about the truth that paved the way to those actions. In fact, it’s all about separating the lies and deceptions from the truth. Honestly speaking , I'm not going to get into what this book is going to offer story wise because there is no way I can do that without giving away a lot of spoilers . And it’s something I don’t want to do. This journey is for the reader and for the reader alone. The blurb gives a perfect description of what you will be getting yourself into ... okay, maybe not EXACTLY what you'll be getting into, but if you've read the first book then there shouldn't be a question of thinking what you can expect from this book. Aleatha is a mastermind-ish twister of events, scenes and scenario’s! Phew ... that was exhausting!

I loved Claire in this book. Her decisions were a bit shocking at times, but that’s just who she is, or that’s what she's made up of. Somehow, I found her as a person who looks into the soul of a Person, someone who is optimistic in her approach towards life. And judging by that there was no questioning the path she took. But is she right or wrong? She was a victim before, but this time, has she deliberately walked into a trap that could lead her to darkness? Or has she bought about a change that no one expected, a change of heart and mind, a change of Priority. Only time will tell.
Tony ... All I can say is, “Oh my god, was he for realz ?? " He is still manipulative, he is still controlling but... but ... he just stole by heart. Sexy as hell and mighty fine I tell ya. He has a little humorous side to him too. God, how much I loved him here in spite of all the douchery that he was in book 1. I'm not saying that’s forgettable but he's only human so..... Yeah I sound a bit biased here but....

Lisa P. Goodreads:  Coming out of reading Consequences and kind of knowing what an Aleatha Romig book is like, I knew that I was likely going to get something that I was not expecting with Truth. I was right. While Consequences was an amazing and mind blowing read, Truth was utter brilliance! Anthony and Claire’s relationship becomes even more complicated as “truths” are revealed and new characters are added into the equation. There are so many twists and turns in this book that by the end some of your questions will be answered but you will also have a million new ones. Seriously, you couldn’t even blink while reading fearing that you will miss an important clue. I guess that is the fun (or possibly the mind numbing torment) of reading both Consequences and Truth.

The best part of writing Truth was my readers!!!  I had 5 readers... great wonderful women who read five chapters a week and responded to each chapter.  Their comments were wonderful.  They kept me on track, they kept me honest and they definitely influenced the outcome of Truth!!!  I really had to work and write to put out 5 chapters every week.  One month I wrote 66 K words!!!  But, when the story is flowing... I can’t stop!  I loved having their feedback.  They have all told me; they want to ride the ride for Convicted! I can’t imagine doing it without them! 

I hope all my readers of Consequences and Truth are also on board for Convicted!!! I promise more undiscovered Truths and more twists and turns!!! 



Thursday, December 20, 2012

#GuestPost I love Paranormal because... by Stefanie J. Pristavu


Please welcome Stefanie Pristavu, author of Hunters!

         I'm here on Clare's awesome blog to talk to you all about the wonders of writing paranormal. No, I'm not kidding. Paranormal and Urban Fantasy kicks major butt.
       When I started off, I began writing a contemporary YA series (which I still love to death, don't get me wrong), but only after learning more about genres and the craft of writing did I understand that I'd actually slipped a little something unusual in there at all (and also assumed a lot since I believe that's what research mean – hey, don't give me that look, I was ten!)
        On a whim, I jumped to the paranormal genre which I'm still stuck on. And here's where Hunters comes in. For me, it was an awful lot of fun writing it, coming up with superpowers for my characters, names, traits, places and world-building.
        Let's give it in a more organized manner.

            I love paranormal BECAUSE:

1.      Characters can have superpowers

         You can't really do this in contemporary. But where paranormal, fantasy and urban fantasy are concerned, there are little things your characters can't do. Wanna make them fly? Go ahead. Crush through walls? Why not? Blow fire out their nostrils? Well, those are technically dragons, but why no? Bottom line is, as long as you keep things consistent, you can have your heroes and villains do whatever you want.
          I've loved the idea of superpowers all along. So, in Hunters, Rachel and Daniel have super-strength and speed, awesome eyesight with the ability to zoom in on a target, paranormal sensing abilities and also a psychic link that allows them to read each other's thoughts and feelings. Vampires have similar powers, without the mind-reading thing. What ensues is a battle between relatively equal forces. Bring it on!

2.      You make the world!

        Unlike in fantasy, you can't exactly create an entire world. But you have the liberty of shifting the known universe in whichever twisted way you might like. And tweaking is often more fun than actually thinking of a whole new world.
        In Hunters I take my characters to Romania, which is actually where I currently reside, so all the description is pretty much of real places. There are a few places I might be wrong seeing as my memory isn't picture-perfect, but I did my best. I chose to put unreal creatures in real places. But that's just how I roll.

3.      Creatures galore

        Wanna create an unknown force/creature/danger for your characters? Go right ahead. The bigger and the badder, the better.
       Except for the Hunters (a new race I've created) and the obvious vampires, I've inserted wraiths and banshees into the story. Loved making up traits and rules for these creatures. Also, give them some nifty superpowers.

4.      Gender equality

Yeah, this doesn't really have anything to do with the paranormal genre itself, but it's actually something it's lacking. How many times did you read a story about a girl who is the love interest of some paranormal superhero? How about a book in which their equals?
I'm not a feminist, but this formula with the helpless female and male superhero bugs the hell out of me. If done well, it could be awesome. Instead, as far as I've read, it makes the heroine extremely annoying. I've made Rachel and Daniel equal. Okay, he's a little stronger than her, but only because he's older. She has her own perks that save his heroic butt, and, as far as I'm concerned, is just as strong and as important.

5.      What you get out of paranormal

Fun! A whole lot of it too. And that's what I got from writing Hunters and what I hope readers get from reading it. I didn't make it a brilliant peace of show – just a fun ride with hopefully lovable characters you can root for.



Hunters by Stefanie J. Pristavu


Rachel’s life isn’t perfect. Sure, she has super powers, an awesome job and a hunky boyfriend. But her boyfriend has a problem with her vampire-hunting duties, she keeps hitting dead ends in her quest to find the vampire boss, Vlad, and Daniel, her partner and best friend, is getting married. And she has no idea why that bothers her.


In his creepy castle, Vlad is no happier with his situation. He’d paid good money to keep the Hunters off his back, and a pair of them have been raining havoc so close to his home. Sweet revenge is in order.


Vlad sweeps down and solves all of Rachel’s relationship problems in one fell swoop. But not in the way she would have wanted. To make matters worse, the Hunters’ High Council calls her and Daniel for trial and sentences them to death for throwing the vampire hunting rule book out the window.


On the run from the Hunters as well as all vampires, Rachel starts seeing Daniel as much more than a best friend. But the new found comfort shatters when evil voices inside her head sing of destruction and doom, and a creepy Banshee turns their crutch-legend into a prophecy of war. A war she and Daniel must start to save their race from extinction. And Rachel seriously doubts that a head-on battle between the vampires and the Hunters will be their ticket out of the death sentence.

Buy Hunters from Amazon.




  
Born and raised in Romania, the only girl amongst two brothers, Stefanie has spent her childhood playing pretend and inventing characters. Once she actually learned how to spell in English, she started writing the adventures of her alter egos. Hundreds of thousands of words and thirteen years later, after two years of learning the craft of writing, Steph still tests the waters of her imagination, coming up with stories and characters.



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

#BookChat LOVE COMES LATER by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar #womensfiction



Love Comes Later tells the story of Abdulla’s arranged marriage to his cousin Hind. Neither is excited about the prospect—Abdulla because he is still recovering from the untimely death of his former wife and unborn child; Hind because she is a thoroughly modern girl who does not appreciate the prospect of being anyone’s second option. The novel is an exploration between loyalty to one's self, friends, and of course, family/society. Sangita, Hind's roommate in graduate school is the third in this modern day love triangle. 

From the Author: 
In conversations with people in Qatar, expat or Qatari, sooner or later the subject of love inevitably came up. For women, the main issue involved the small pool of people they felt they had to choose from. My surprise and revelation came however, when my male friends expressed similar sentiments. We often think men have all the power in male dominated societies but from these discussions I began to realize how society limits both male and female aspirations with universal social expectations like marriage. The story began to form there: what would make a man unlikely to marry? And why? What would he do in order to keep his freedom? 

Reader's Reactions:

'Rajakumar lifts the veil on multicultural romance' -- Kate Lord Brown, author of The Beauty Chorus

Love Comes Later is about love, choices, culture, bigotry, family, tradition, religion, honesty, forgiveness and friendship, to name just a few. ---Diana Manos

Reviews:
Alchemy's Crawl
Books For Me
JB Culture Shock
Overflowing Bookshelves
Abigail Ann Reading

Behind the Scenes:
This has been the work of three years of writing and seven years of living in a culture that is not my own -- but one that feels familiar all the same.

I know many readers may not know where Qatar is or have the opportunity to experience and observe everything I have which is my gift to them through fiction.

Books by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Write What You Know - Research of Broken Builds - #GuestPost by Rachelle Ayala



From Amy Manemann's Blog.

 There is an old bromide that says, “Write what you know.” I suppose the corollary could be, “Make up what you don’t know.” My latest book, Broken Build, certainly fits both of these concepts. It is a romantic suspense about software engineers in a startup where the build (software code delivery) is always broken. It spices up the pressure cooker, adding a pinch of murder and mayhem with a hearty dose of romance and killer secrets.

So how do I know what I know and what I have to make up? Writing is a lot about research and extrapolating. We take what we know and exaggerate them. Pull out the feelings and amplify. How did you feel when your cat went missing? Now, imagine it is your child. Gulp!

Same with technical subject matter. I suspect that not a lot of writers have actually handled a Glock. Yet I see that gun described in many thriller stories. You’d think there was a Glock shop down at the Wal-Mart where you can hold it, try it out, maybe shoot a few rounds so you can write about it. How about being hit by a stun-gun or teargas? Should we all sign up for the police academy so we can experience it on our own? Or do we take a painful experience, perhaps the day we peeled out our contact lenses shortly after chopping ghost peppers and exaggerate the pain?

A little research is a great thing. But a lot can slow the story down. For example, this book, Continuous Delivery: Reliable Software Releases through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation sounds very interesting to me. I can probably read this book and revel in all of the schemes for ensuring continuous delivery and integration of software. My main character, Jennifer Cruz Jones, would likewise love to brainstorm with me about how she can isolate build faults without interruption. But the average reader may glaze out. Therefore a writer must also hold back on dumping all of the wonderful pieces of research that she discovered into the story.

So to add to the bromides, “A little research goes a long way.” It is necessary for the realism of the story and to provide characterization traits. But at the end of the day, we are writing a storybook and not a textbook.

So “write what you know,” but don’t be afraid to make up what you don’t. And take the risk that someone technical might say, “that’s not the way it’s done.” Because the majority of readers would not have understood the technical detail. For them, “she hacked into the system,” was enough.


Broken Build (Silicon Valley Romantic Suspense) has just enough technical details to challenge the intelligent reader, but not enough to impinge on the main storyline. It is not a one-dimensional book for people who want to be spoonfed a story, but one that keeps the reader guessing and on their toes. The added bonus is that readers will learn about server virtualization and building code in the software industry. But the main theme is about love and forgiveness, a topic any of us can relate to.

Synopsis: When a woman wrongs a man… can a man forgive and love? Jen Jones hides a horrible secret behind her new degree, toned body, and exciting job at Silicon Valley’s hottest startup—until a man linked to her past is killed in a hit-and-run. CEO and founder Dave Jewell is about to land a huge deal. He doesn't need blood on his car, threatening phone calls, and Jen wrapped in broken code and blackmail.

A gang of thugs hunts Jen, and she takes refuge in Dave’s protective arms. Together, they must thwart a killer and rescue an innocent victim from their past. Love blossoms, but a damaging revelation points straight at Jen, threatening to tear them apart forever.


WHAT READERS ARE SAYING

Broken Build is an exciting story full of twists and turns, murder and deception, with a steamy romance.” - Amazon Review

“A smart & fascinating read with vivid writing and a very likeable main character...” - Amazon Review

“I applaud the welcome change from one dimensional predictable books that are just one big yawn.” – Amazon Review

NEW! See Broken Build's Showcase on Ganxy.com

Monday, December 17, 2012

#GuestPost - How to Make a Book Trailer in 7 Steps by Helen J. Beal #pubtip


Have you ever wanted a cool Book Trailer, but were daunted by the technical skills and artistic talent you'd need to make one? Helen J. Beal, multipublished literary fiction author is here to make it easy! Take a look at this video she made for her New Release, Thirty Seconds Before Midnight, a quirky, lovable story told from the eyes of a land tortoise.



Take it away, Helen!

Technology has unarguably opened up a huge opportunity for every writer to place their work into the market – but it’s also introduced a massive amount of competition, with very little quality control. Readers are the gatekeepers now, and writers’ biggest challenge today isn’t writing a book or even the publishing process – it’s the marketing. It’s getting in front of the readers, grabbing their interest first, enticing them to press the download button.

I think the jury’s still out on the marketing value of book trailers – I’ve created one, it cost me around $100 to make and I’ve no way of quantifying how many sales viewings convert to. I’d need to sell around a hundred books for it to pay for itself. Of course, you don’t need to spend much, if any money, at all on book trailers, just like you don’t with editing your work, or creating your cover, but it we’re going to talk about quality control and creating a top-quality product to take to market, you want everything to shine, don’t you?

So how do you make a book trailer? Here it is in 7 easy steps:

STEP ONE: CREATE YOUR STORY:
Hey, you’ve already written the book and probably a synopsis too either as part of your planning process or perhaps for querying agents or entering competitions. Now all you need to do is decide on how that story translates to the screens of a book trailer. Remember not to tell the whole story – you need to find a balance between giving the potential reader a sense of what they story’s about and making them want to find out more.

STEP TWO: FIND YOUR VIDEO FOOTAGE AND VIDEO:
If you want to keep the costs down, use your own or take these yourself, but there’s lots of stock out there in easy to search sites. I’ve purchased media from Shutterstock, Pond5 and iStockPhoto. Photos and clips can be of places, characters, objects, themes within your book but overall should give the viewer strong visual clues to the book’s content. Video’s generally more expensive that pictures – I think a combination of the two works really well.

STEP THREE: CHOOSE YOUR SOUNDTRACK:
Again, the auditory experience of the trailer viewer should somehow reflect what their experience will be reading the book: scary book = scary music for example. I use Jamendo for this bit. They’re big into creative commons and though you’ll need to purchase a license for commercial use for the music you choose for your trailer, I’ve found them very flexible when I’ve explained what I’m trying to do. I’ve seen some trailers with voice-over too. I haven’t tried this yet myself but I worry that it could come across as pretty amateur with out a trained and experienced voiceover artist doing the work.

STEP FOUR: PUT YOUR TRAILER TOGETHER:
I’m a mac user so I get iMovie for free which is awesome for this kind of work. You create your project, drag in your clips and images, lay over the text, adjust the timings and fades and layover the music - easy. And fun. If you have a PC you might want to use something like Windows Movie Maker which does the same job. Personally, and it’s worth noting here that I don’t have a huge attention span, I think you should keep the length of the trailer to around sixty seconds. Three minutes is definitely too long.

STEP FIVE: WORK ON YOUR FINAL CREDITS :
You’ll need to tell the viewer where they can go now to buy your book. I use Artboard to create these graphics (around $25 from the iTunes AppStore) as I use it a lot to create banners and images for my websites but you could use Powerpoint as effectively.

STEP SIX: MAKE IT AVAILABLE:
Once you’re done you can upload straight from iMovie into youtube, Facebook etc

STEP SEVEN: SHARE IT:
Only you can tell people it’s there. If they tell other people that’s awesome and if you’ve created something totally stupendous it might even go viral. Testdrive it with your friends on Facebook, upload it to your Amazon author page, feature it on your own websites, tweet about it, drive traffic to it.

Did you view my video for Thirty Seconds Before Midnight? What did you think? What would you have done differently?

Here are some other book trailers to inspire you – which is your favourite?

-          ‘The Snow Child’ by Eowyn Ivey – okay so this is from one of the big publishers and is probably a little out of most independent publisher’s budget as is an animation. That said, even for an animation it’s quite straightforward. I recently downloaded Animation Desk for my iPad and, inspired by this, will see what can be done!
-          Mrs Darcy and the Aliens by Jonathan Pinnock – very easy to do this one, take some video footage and overlay subtitles and voiceover in French. Warning – to pull this off you need an exceptional sense of humour and good speaking French.
-          The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – this one’s also from big publisher but not to difficult to replicate as it’s mainly photos with a soundtrack / voiceover. Very professionally done though, obvs.
-          Click! An Online Love Story by Lisa Becker – I loved this trailer so much I bought the book and I loved that too. I particularly enjoy the cheery little tune. It’s funny too. Very clever way of telling the story of the story through an email conversation. And a great call to action at the end.

Helen J. Beal Author Bio:


I was born in York in the north of England in 1974. My very excellent mother taught me to read when I was three thereby spawning a voracious bibliophile. My childhood was mostly uneventful, mainly an extended search for caterpillars in hedgerows and a lot of rounders, and then I studied English Literature and Language at London University. I graduated in 1995 and began a career in the commercial side of information technology. This was not an obvious choice for an aspiring writer but I wanted to pay the bills and needed to live a little. It also had the advantage of giving me the opportunity to meet a huge variety of people in a vast amount of places doing a wide range of different jobs over the years and demanded I hone my listening skills.
I found I had a specialist instinct for building businesses and whilst this satisfied some of my creative impulses, my desire to write continued to grow, culminating in a move out of London to Chichester to regain control over my free time and be near the sea. I discovered not long after that it was both possible and financially viable to work a three day week and write for four. Happy days.

Books by Helen J. Beal: