Tuesday, April 30, 2013

#BookChat SEDITION by Tom Abrahams #political #thriller

I was warned. And yet, I probably didn’t appreciate the sage advice: “Expect people to hate your book.”

That piece of wisdom was from another indie author who’s had a lot of success.  And he loved SEDITION.  He got it.  He understood that it’s as much a commentary on freedom and love of country as it is a fictional, violent plot drawn from present day political reality.

He told me that people on the left would think I drew the right-of-center conspirators as sympathetic.  And those on the right would find me to be a liberal-minded journalist painting everyone on that side of the aisle as potentially wacko extremists.

Being a television journalist by profession, I expect blowback from my work.  If both sides of a given story hate it, I’ve done my job.  If both sides love it, I’m good.  It’s when one side is happy and the other isn’t that I’ve tilted the scale and my integrity gets questioned.

With SEDITION, there have been those from the far right and far left who LOVE the book.  They see it for it is and how I intend it to be a commentary on the system as a whole.

Then there are those, of whom I was warned, who think I’m an agent of the other side…bent on preaching to a misguided choir.

It’s true that the bad guys are politically conservative.  But so are the good guys.   And more liberal-minded characters also share in the white/black hat duties.

I wrote this because I love politics.  I’ve covered it at every level for the last twenty years.  And it never gets dull.

And yet somehow, I was surprised at just how personally people take a fictional story.  I was stunned at how they transpose their ideology (and mine) into a novel that, while based in reality, is a farce.

I guess that’s good.  I’m writing something that ignites passion.  And whether people love the book or hate it, they’re reading it!  They’re talking about it.  They’re giving SEDITION five stars and they’re awarding it only one.  Either way, I see it as a good thing.

Which is why, even though I’ve been warned, I’m writing another political thriller. It’ll be available the end of 2013.  And I hope you love it.  Or hate it.

The cover of the book, expertly designed by graphic artist Jason Farmand, tells you the plot without saying anything.   Clearly, from the tea bag and the stained American flag, this book deals with present day political reality in a fictional way. 

SEDITION is regularly $3.99.  It'll be free on Amazon from 4/30/2013 to 5/2/13.  And then it'll be .99 on 5/3/13 and 5/4/13 before going back to its regular price on the 5th.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Book Cover Collages with CollageIt Pro #author

Friday, I wrote about how easy it is to use CollageIt Pro [see in-depth review]. What I didn't know is how addictive the software is. Drag and drop any set of photos, select a template and background and start hitting the knobs.

Since I'm an author, here are a few collages I made of my babies [three published and one preborn].

Pearl Mountain has authorized me to run a Giveaway for 12 Windows licenses and 8 Mac licenses for my lucky readers. This is the full version with no ads and watermarks ($19.90 values). So enter today (drawing held on May 6) and in the meantime, check out the CollageIt How-To Video.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Reflections of a Childhood in Los Angeles #poetry

Yesterday, I reviewed Patricia Neely-Dorsey's fascinating book: Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia where she illustrates in poetry what it was like to grow up in the Old South. I was so inspired by her poetry, I penned down a few lines from my life.

Growing up in Los Angeles, in the heat of the 1960's and 70's, my experiences were much different than Patricia's. I'm not much of a poet, but here's my Reflections of A Childhood in Los Angeles.

Watts is Burning
Neighbors mill in the street.
The sky is tinted red;
The rioters march south,
straight down Avalon Boulevard.
Will the barricades stop them?
My parents have no guns.
I rest assured in my neighbors.
They have shotguns and hunting rifles.
"Shoot them all, they won't get past."
I'm comforted by their guns.
The night sky glows red.
We hear sirens and shouts,
but in the morning it's all calm.

Screaming in the Smog
Skies so brown we choke
Don't breathe deep,
your lungs will burn.
Hot blacktop skins many knees
Broken beer bottles on the street.
An underpass lurks on our way home from school.
Dark, dangerous, smelly like pee
We kids go in groups.
We run through and scream
To scare away child molesters.
We'd blow out their eardrums
with our piercing shrieks.
Bravely, we emerge on the other side.
Our lungs in pain, but we survived.

No Postcards Here
Graffiti sprawls on cement brick walls.
Barb wire rolls across highway signs.
Don't wear bandanas, neither red nor blue
And don't get caught out after dark.
Friends are jumped in fights in the alley.
Drive-by shootings scatter bullets in our schoolyard.
A man hangs himself on the pole climb bars.
And other kids stay home on Crips and Blood day.
We hug the buildings, ready to drop
at the pop pop pop of gang warfare.
There's no track running for P.E. that day
Stay in the gym to play sit down volleyball
and crab walk soccer
while police circle the school.

School Zones
Bungalows are lowrider territory.
Smoking weed and sharpening knives.
Jocks rule the central quad.
The talk of the day, who got shot
and who got beat, and who got robbed on the bus that day.
If you're a nerd, it's to the library you go.
During recess, lunch, and after school.
Or hang at the counselor's office and file paperwork.
You won't get beat up helping Ms. Hart.
Guys in f*-trucks cruise the streets
Duck into the liquor store to miss their hoots.
Come out with pop sticks and candy bars.
Palm trees wave high in the sky,
An airplane flies trailing smoke.
But down below, Pilots rule.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

#BookReviews - Recent Reviews of Michal's Window #historical #romance

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00021]
In ancient Israel, where women are property, Princess Michal loves her father's worst enemy, the future King David. She sacrifices everything to save his life, but will her heart survive war and separation?

A novel of betrayal, forbidden love, and redemption, Michal's Window is an imaginative retelling of King David's story through the eyes of the woman who loved him first.

"Ms. Ayala doesn’t pull any punches when Bathsheba steps into the picture, as I have seen in other books attempting to tell this story.  She deals with the betrayal in a way that somehow manages to be both appropriate and exciting at the same time.  Very few writers are able to pull that off, so I was definitely impressed."

Positive Choices - Apr 19, 2013
"Through use of historical landscapes and dialogues she spins a credible and somewhat steamy story that makes you think this could have really happened"

A Mother's Design - Apr 19, 2013
"in the end, love was all that mattered. "

RJ and Jessie Blog - Apr 17, 2013
"A LOT happens. It's all very detailed and fast paced, which is great. It was almost like watching a movie instead of reading a book. I read this book quite quickly because I couldn't put it down. The characters were engaging and interesting. I would love for this to become a movie or TV series. Michal is so easy to like. You just end up wanting to follow her every move just to see what she does next."

A Lucky Ladybug - Apr 16, 2013
"I enjoy getting to know the characters in the stories I read and I am a fan of all these characters.  Even when they are making horrible choices and it's so obvious what they need to do, but then it wouldn't be a story now would it?"

Mom's Thumb Reviews - Apr 10, 2013
"I had no idea when I started this book, that it would be difficult to stop reading it until I had finished.  I was captivated from the beginning.  The author has a way of making the reading exciting, up-to-date, yet able to draw you in to the time period this took place."

My Devotional Thoughts - Apr 6, 2013
"This book is one that I can whole-heartedly recommend to anyone who loves the Bible, history, and even romances.  There is no preaching in the book, and the story is extremely readable."

Savory Savings - Apr 1, 2013
"It was fascinating to imagine along with Ms. Ayala how these people would have acted and what they would say in certain circumstances, given the time. I loved getting a “behind the scenes” glance at King David and his many wives.  It was interesting to see how these women were not simply the “follow because I am told to by a man” types, but more often presented that way, while at the same time, used their sexuality to try to gain the upper hand.  Michal was a strong, stubborn woman who struggled with knowing what she should be doing and what she wanted to do.   I loved watching her grow and learn to trust herself, no matter the consequence."

Mom's Thumb Reviews - Mar 28, 2013
"As I started reading this, it was totally different than what I really expected.  The second night that I had this downloaded on my Kindle Fire, I stayed up until 3am reading because I had to get through the story.  My emotions were excited, happy, torn, broken, uplifted, angered, sorrowful, fearful, joyful, and given peace.  This is one of the most amazingly written book that I've read.  I could literally see myself as Michal."

My "not so" Simple Life - Mar 27, 2013
"Rachelle Ayala does an outstanding job intertwining Biblical fact and fiction. She portrays King David and his wife Michal in a very personal and sometimes vulnerable way. I had a hard time putting the book down, I wanted to find out what would happen next! "

A Bit of Everything - Mar 20, 2013
"Rachelle Ayala mixed fact and fiction together and wrote a very well story that will suck you into 1000 B.C. where you experience their emotions and even live in the story that it becomes so vivid!
Michal sacrificed everything to save King David as she had fallen in love with him dearly.
There is romance, war and heartache in this one book alone.
You certainly need to read and you'll devour this as you read it."

Everyday Life - Mar 19, 2013
"I was a little concerned at first because I admit I'm not well verse in my biblical history as I once was but it never interfered with my enjoyment. Once I picked this book up I couldn't put it down. The journey I took reading this book was powerful, emotional, and beautiful."

Friday, April 19, 2013

#AuthorInterview Lauren Klever, author of The Secret Watchers Series #YA #adventure

Lauren Klever is the author of The Secret Watchers series, a young adult action/ adventure tale featuring Owen Ryer and White Eagle, his mentor.  Hold on to your seat as you join Owen when his life takes a spin to the darker side of life where he is pursued relentlessly by dark watchers.  Do they want to kill Owen or turn him to their side of evil and chaos… as if school wasn’t hard enough.

Q? Tell us a little bit about you.                                                    
Lauren:  I dream of writing full time but until that day arrives… I’m a pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade substitute teacher.  My favorite grades are anything above first!  If not that, then I’m doing administrative work for a small company where they think I’m their computer guru which if you know me – should cause a huge belly laugh!  I’m more techy than my seventy-plus year old boss, but guru… not even a little bit.  I’m also mom to two, step-mom to four, step-grandma to one and a lover of black labs (we have one and a half – I bet you wanna know how that works!).  We also have two cats but we don’t have much to do with each other.  I do miss my little black cat who used to help me write – now HE, had a personality.  The two lady cats who live with me think I’m their servant and nothing more.

Q? Your Secret Watchers series is gaining in popularity.  Tell us about it so far and what we might expect from Book 3 that is due out soon.
Lauren:  Book 3 will be out soon.  You can almost… hold your breath.  How does this summer grab you?  It’s going through final edits and books 4 and 5 are in my computer, on paper and in my head.  The series begins with our protagonist in eighth grade, wishing his boring life away.  One day he stumbles across a watch that unlocks a gift he never realized he had.  Suddenly people are trying to kill him and he can see darkly evil things that have or will happen.  In books 1 and 2 he is mastering his new abilities and evading the darkness that relentlessly pursues him.  Readers get to watch Owen grow as he moves through high school and becomes a force to be reckoned with.  Right now my fan base is mostly local.  They have been pretty excited about my tale because they recognize the places my characters visit.  I was thrilled to learn this week of a book group in the UK that has chosen to read my first book, Visions.

Q?  As an indie author, how do you reach out to fans?
Lauren:  I celebrate every achievement with my fans and thank them for it.  My website has had over 600,000 visits AND seriously, I have to say… what an honor!  If I could hug all my fans I would.  I feel truly blessed!  Each stage of this project has brought its own joys.  I feel excitement every time something new happens and I hope I never lose that.  My family, friends and fans have been very supportive and I truly appreciate every beta-reader (prerelease reader), tweet, favorite, like, comment and review.  These folks have gifted me with their time, so you bet I tell them over and over again how wonderful they are!  People who feel appreciated come back for more.  I feel that people have been incredibly gracious.  I’ve had students and adults shyly ask me to sign a book or even run up and hug me at the grocery store.  I am touched each and every time by their positive energy and passion for this project.  They make me want to keep writing!  Now if I could convert those 600,000 plus hits on my website into book sales – that would be something!

Q?  How does that translate into what other authors can do? 
Lauren:  I have written several blogs about this because I find it fascinating and in the beginning I knew nothing.  I have many little bits of advice to share and I have shamelessly pirated every one of them and twisted them to meet my needs.  I have chosen to be on Social Media every single day.  I try really hard to answer all my fans within 48 hours.  I also work hard to educate myself.  I follow several folks who are social media experts and I watch my Twitter and Facebook feeds for tips, tricks and ideas several times a week.

I believe that you widen your fan base by reaching out.  Talk to people and make them feel invited.  Post great content so that folks want to follow you.  Add pictures when it’s appropriate because they are a big draw.  Weekends and evenings are a good time to post content because that’s when many people have time to check their email, and social media of choice.

Q?  Along the same lines, what advice do you have for writers about the writing process and their development?
Lauren:  I think this is different for everyone.  I am only an expert on me.  As a kid I always hated writing at school.  Then one day I was introduced to a free write.  Suddenly I found that if I could write what I wanted to it was actually fun.  Now I love to write.  I use it as an escape.  I also believe that part of what builds a good writer is being an avid reader, so never stop reading.  When you get stuck – take a break, visit with your buddies, go for walk or look at some good imagery.  I love to listen to music when I write – I find it very motivational.  I’ve even been known to loop one song over and over as I write a particular scene.

Q?  What are the top 3 tools you would recommend every writer takes a peek at right now?
Lauren:  Do you have a website?  Are you on Twitter? AND are you on Facebook?  Pinterest and LinkedIn are growing in popularity too. (Whoops, that’s five) Get friendly with social media and your fans.  Be yourself or make someone up, but be outgoing and courteous even if you don’t think you are.  Fake it till you make it, if you’re a grouchy old curmudgeon; otherwise be yourself.  Humor is good too but I believe that the key is to be warm, friendly and welcoming.  If you are, then people want to be around you.  Be positive; not only does negativity suck but people don’t want to hear it.  (That’s what the news is for.)

Q?  What is the most frustrating thing you have had to deal with as a writer?
Lauren:  Lack of time!  Some days I get cranky because I just don’t have time to write.  During those times I remind myself that people, especially family, have to come first.  If people don’t come first, then who are we writing for?  We would have no audience.

Q?  What is the most exciting part about being an author?
Lauren:  Really?  You’re going to make me pick?  Wow…  How about my top 10?  The day my first beta reader shared with me how much they loved my book, the day I finished each book, the day I finished editing each book, my first book signing, my first sales report from BookBaby, the first fan that called me because they didn’t think it was their kind of book and they loved it anyway, and the day I was offered my first contact.

Q? What’s on your reading list right now and is there an author or a book that has influenced or inspired you above all in your life?
Lauren:  Top 10?
1.  City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, #3) by Cassandra Clare (I’m currently reading City of Bones)
2.  The rest of the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz (I’m on #5 Scorpia)
3.  Anything by Rick Riordan.  I love his Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and he is one of my influences for great young adult heroes.
4.  The Harry Potter series.  I have read it about four times but I keep going back.  J.K. Rowling’s series was another big influence.
5.  Cleo Coyle’s A Brew to a Kill (Coffeehouse Mystery, #11)
6.  Janet Evanovich’s Notorious Nineteen (Yep, I’ve read them all.)
7.  The Help by Kathryn Stockett
8.  Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth
9. Young adult stories that move right along and have some good action in them or a cozy mysery.
10.  I’m also looking forward to D.C. and Michael McGannon’s third book in their series.  I read the first book and was invited to be a beta reader for book two.  The trouble with being a beta reader means that it’s a long wait for the next book!

Q? If you had parting thoughts for us, readers and/or writers, what would they be? 
Lauren:  Go about your life as if you have nothing to lose.  Share what you are passionate about and don’t take your critics too seriously.  Any advice you get, take a few days to just let it sit.  The good bits will float to the top and then you can throw out the rest.  There is always some truth in what people share, just don’t let negative opinions overly influence you or bring you down.  It takes tremendous courage to write a book and share it with the world (never forget that!).  It also takes courage to promote and blog about your books.  If a writer’s life is what you want, then go for it because if you do what you love, then you’ll love what you do!  I believe in you!

Where To Visit Lauren Klever and The Secret Watchers

Thursday, April 18, 2013

#NewRelease HAVE NO SHAME by Melissa Foster #coming-of-age #civilrights

When civil rights and forbidden love collide

"This book will resonate with readers who enjoyed Kathryn Stockett's, THE HELP, Julie Kibler's, CALLING ME HOME, John Grisham's, A TIME TO KILL, Sue Monk Kidd's, THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES, and Kathleen Grissom's, THE KITCHEN HOUSE."

Buy it Now on Amazon
Buy it Now on B&N 

"Within moments of starting to read, you will be transported back to the Arkansas of 1967 - hot, dusty, utterly rural and edgy. Poor white farmers dependent upon cheap black labor who, due to their superior numbers, are constantly suppressed, living on the wrong side of town, ghettoised and terrified. You will remember scenes from `In the Heat of the Night' and `Easy Rider'; you will remember that, less than fifty years ago, if you were black, you could be beaten for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And if you died at the hands of a white youth, justice would almost certainly be denied you." Author Roderick Craig Low


Alison Tillman has called Forrest Town, Arkansas home for the past eighteen years. Her mother's Blue Bonnet meetings, her father toiling night and day on the family farm, and the division of life between the whites and the blacks are all Alison knows. The winter of 1967, just a few months before marrying her high school sweetheart, Alison finds the body of a black man floating in the river, and she begins to view her existence with new perspective. The oppression and hate of the south, the ugliness she once was able to avert her eyes from, now demands her attention.

When a secretive friendship with a young black man takes an unexpected romantic turn, Alison is forced to choose between her predetermined future, and the dangerous path that her heart yearns for.


"A gripping and poignant novel dealing with a subject once taboo in American society." Hagerstown Magazine

"Have No Shame is a powerful testimony to love and the progressive, logical evolution of social consciousness, with an outcome that readers will find engrossing, unexpected, and ultimately eye-opening." Midwest Book Review

"A historical novel of love and its triumph, told with a unique and compelling voice." Bestselling Author Kathleen Shoop 

"Have No Shame is a delightful eye opener and a rather poignant book that everyone everywhere should put on their must-read list." Readers' Favorite

"A dynamic and heartwarming tale of young love, giving testament to those who struggled so we can live in an integrated society." Author Rachelle Ayala

"[HAVE NO SHAME] Perfectly catches the South at the dawning of the Civil Rights Movement. Melissa Foster takes us on an adventure that twists and turns unpredictably to a tense climax that renders this novel a true page-turner. This is undoubtedly the best novel I have read in a long time."  Roderick Craig Low, Author of 'Promises of Love and Good Behaviour'

"This book is not just a story; it's an experience." Author G.E. Johnson

Buy HAVE NO SHAME on Amazon

Melissa Foster

Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of four International bestselling novels. Her books have been recommended by USA Today's book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, the World Literary Café. When she's not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success. Melissa is also a community builder for the Alliance for Independent Authors. She has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine. 
Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.

Visit Melissa on The Women's NestFostering Success, or World Lit Cafe. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.

Megan's Way
2011 Beach Book Award Winner (Spirituality)
2011 Readers Favorite Awards, Winner (Fiction/Drama), Finalist (Women's Fiction)
2010 Next Generation Indie Book Award, Finalist (Spirituality)
2011 New England Book Festival, Honorable Mention (Spirituality)

Chasing Amanda
2011 Readers Favorite Awards, Winner (Paranormal), Finalist, (Women's Fiction, Mystery)
2011 Dan Poynter's Global eBook Awards, Winner, (Paranormal)
Top 10 Books of 2011, Pixel of Ink
Amazon Top 100 75+ Days running
Indie Reader's Bestselling List That Counts (8 weeks)
Top Books of 2011, The Write Agenda

Come Back To Me
2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Finalist, 
2012 Readers Favorite Awards, Finalist 
2012 Kindle Book Review Best Indie Books Award, Finalist
2011 Dan Poynter's Global Ebook Awards, Finalist 
Top 5 Must Read Books of 2011, IndieReader
Top Ten Books of 2011, 
Tea Time With Marce
IndieReader Best Reviewed Books of 2011, Huffington Post

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Melissa_Foster
The Women’s Nest, women’s social network: http://www.TheWomensNest.com
World Literary Café: http://www.worldliterarycafe.com
Fostering Success: htto://www.fostering-success.com
Facebook Melissa Foster: http://www.facebook.com/MelissaFosterAuthor (Fanpage)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

b00k r3vi3ws: #BookReview :: Broken Build by Rachelle Ayala

b00k r3vi3ws: #BookReview :: Broken Build by Rachelle Ayala:

Review by Debdatta Sahay - check out her blog at http://b00kr3vi3ws.blogspot.com

Jen Jones is a computer whiz with a demanding job in the Silicon Valley, perfect body and a hell lot of secrets. To start with, she is in love with her current Boss, Dave. She is being blackmailed and has been part of kidnapping plan and has lied to the police while withholding evidence. Whew! That’s quite a list! But Jen feels that she had just made a few bad choices in her life. Dave on the other hand is obsessed about finding his little girl who had been kidnapped from his home a few years back. He blames his late wife’s family for it but he never gives up hope of finding the child. Little does he know that the person that he blames for it all is… Oh no! I am not saying anymore – you have to read the book to find out.

Jen Jones is a character that I had a love/hate relationship with throughout the book. There’s just something about her that makes me feel for her when I should actually not like her at all for the choices that she had made. Dave on the other hand came across as a strong and steadfast character to me. I really liked him. Their relationship is just like what I feel for Jen – Love/Hate and BIG trust issues. But one cannot deny the chemistry between them. 

The plot is the USP of this book. The twists and turns that it offers are simply remarkable. As a mystery/thriller fan I am used to playing the detective game myself as the plot progresses. And Ms. Ayala almost had me there – and that’s saying something! With every twist I was forced to reevaluate and suspect a different character and by the three quarter of the book I had suspected each character atleast once. 

The plot and the characters are brought together and woven in the author’s own style of storytelling, where the language and narrative style compliments the other aspects of writing. I think that while writing Jen’s character, Rachelle Ayala must have drawn from her own experience in the IT industry and it lent the air of authenticity to Jen. From romance with Biblical aspects to it to romance with a liberal amount on mystery with it, Rachelle Ayala has more than proved herself with variations in her writing. She is certainly an author to watch out for. Overall, ‘Broken Build’ was an incredible experience and I would recommend it to all romance, mystery and thriller lovers.

Broken Build is on sale for 99c at Amazon.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Vera Custodio Cooks: Pancit Bihon

My latest character, Vera Custodio, loves to cook. Here's a simple and delicious dish to whip up when you're short of time.

½ lb large shrimp, shelled and cleaned
1 lb thin sliced steak, cut into thin strips, dusted with cornstarch
3 scallions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 slices ginger, minced
Shredded romaine lettuce, 2 cups
Assorted vegetables (Chinese snow peas, straw mushrooms, chopped orange bell pepper, chopped summer squash, whatever you have handy)
8 oz package Pancit Bihon (thin dried rice sticks)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp lime juice or calamansi
1 tsp Tabasco sauce (or more to taste)
1 Tbsp banana ketchup
Pepper to taste
Cooking oil
Water or chicken broth

1.      Heat oil in a wok. Stir fry beef until tender. Add shrimp, scallions, garlic and ginger mixture. Cook until shrimp just turns color.
2.      Stir in vegetables and sauce ingredients. Sprinkle pepper to taste.
3.      Boil water or chicken broth while cooking above.
4.      Immerse rice sticks for a few minutes, pull out and fold into the wok with the meat and vegetable mix. Let most of the liquid be absorbed by the rice sticks and serve.
5.      Garnish with lemon slices, cilantro

variation: substitute shredded pork loin for the beef and 1 tsp bagoong in place of Tabasco sauce.

Knowing Vera is a romantic drama involving family secrets and disability. While embarking on a journey to prove her father innocent of murder, Vera Custodio discovers the truth about herself.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Researching Hidden Under Her Heart - A Day At the Beach

I spent Election Day, 2012 away from TV, social media and the Internet. It was a beautiful, sunny day in Northern California, and I decided to fill in more research on the setting of my latest novel, Hidden Under Her Heart. Besides, my sister was visiting from the East Coast, so it was a perfect excuse to get away from my computer and go on an outing.
 Hidden Under Her Heart is a poignant love story between a young nurse, Maryanne Torres, and a professional triathlete, Lucas Knight. While some of the setting is indoors, inside of a hospital or at a club, a lot of scenes take place outdoors. And nowhere in the world are there more beautiful outdoor scenes than the Northern California coastline.
 Pescadero State Beach is a beautiful and relatively remote location a mere forty minutes from populated Palo Alto. We took the winding La Honda Road starting just outside of Woodside, California. It is hard to believe that Silicon Valley is only a few miles away. Oak trees soon gave way to towering redwoods that spire to the skyline.
It was a bright and sunny day, but as we navigated the hairpin turns we lost sight of the sunlight. Dark brown tree trunks, dark green leaves, and dark shadows transported us into an ancient forest. Very narrow shoulders made biking extremely treacherous, and we only passed one brave soul pedaling furiously up the hill.
 The road continued through incredibly gorgeous vistas to La Honda, California. After passing the fire station, we came across an old fashioned shopping center and stopped off to take a picture of a payphone nestled on a community bulletin board with actual pieces of paper and tear-off stubs. Yes, this was how people advertised garage sales and rental units before Craigslist.

 Rather than continuing on Hwy 84 toward San Gregorio State Beach, we took a sharp left turn toward Pescadero Creek Road. It twisted and turned through Sam McDonald State Park, giving us more beautiful forest views and exciting turns. This was a thrill for me because my family gets car sick and I cannot usually take this route. Fortunately my sister was game for it and only opened the windows to let the fresh, mossy and piney scent in.

Conifers gave way to oak trees as we descended toward the ocean. Soon enough, we were met by a few eucalyptus trees and other alien species, particularly the large stands of invasive pampas grass on the hillsides. Pescadero is an actual farming community. On the one side were rusted old equipment and broken barns, while the facing side held well cultivated crops and storage structures.

Pescadero Creek Road ends at Pescadero State Beach. Words fail me to tell how gorgeous it was. I found every scene of Hidden Under Her Heart that takes place on the beach. There were the footsteps in the sand, the foamy line as water met the sand, the tidepools where disaster almost struck, and even a rock wall with tiny caves and a bench to sit and view the sunset.


 The setting was both beautiful and romantic. I could easily imagine Lucas and Maryanne kissing into the sunset and letting their final goodbye balloons float into the brilliant blue sky among the lulling churn of the waves. Even the cute pink outhouses with their two “scent stacks” completed the detailed picture. And yes, I did visit it and confirmed that it was clean, stocked with toilet paper but did not have any plumbing.



Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cover Reveal: White Swans: The New Girl in Town by Annamaria Bazzi #YA #fantasy

Read all about it! The Unveiling of book cover IIhttp://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=annascorn02-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B00APCB9N0
Book cover unveiling of  White Swans: The New Girl in Town
Author : annamaria bazzi
Genre : YA Fantasy
Release Date : April 12, 2013
Cover Designer : Jennifer Donohoe

All it takes is a wish upon a star, and Jillian finds herself in a Regency world she only read about in romance novels. She wakes in an exciting world of adventure and challenges but didn’t expect the new life she received. A maid? OMG!
An ambitious girl, she schemes to rise above her station and become a lady with a title and wealth. She’ll go to any lengths to achieve her goals—even risking the anger of her captors, the hazy eyes always gazing down upon the ancient world. Will her attempts to climb the social ladder get her into trouble?
I’m a published author, at last, but it is important to me to be a good author. if you read the story, please let me know your thoughts by leaving a review.
A pre-review by Voracious Reader, Judy Shafer, gives book two a 5 star. Here is her review

About the Author :
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:
Twitter : @AMBazzi

Please visit Annamaria's Amazon Author's PageSmashwords Author's Page or Barnes & Noble Author's Page for a list of her books!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Coming Soon! FLY AWAY by Jennifer Donohoe #YA #Fantasy

Robin Sullivan is given a magical book where she can experience a better life in a new world called Tearmann. She can finally escape the terrible reality of life with an abusive, alcoholic father, her
mother's schizophrenia, and her best friend's Leukemia. Robin must choose between deserting her real life or living in a world promising a better one. Events come into play forcing Robin to make a decision.

Will she be able to save those she loves and still save herself?

“What gives a mother the right to leave her only daughter with an someone like Roy and her last words are only, ‘fly away?' I mean what the heck does that mean? Tell me the answer to that.”

“I don't have an answer for you, Robin. I'm sorry.”

What a way to spend my eighteenth birthday.

Robin took a deep breath and looked at the school counselor. The stale office air parched her throat. She turned to the window. The wind-blown rain trailed its way down the glass. I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to answer you. Find someone else to shrink.

“Robin, you know this is part of your probation. You have to meet with me once a week.” Mr. Collins took off his glasses, placed them down, and rubbed his face with his hand. “If you talk, the session will go faster.” He brushed away his salt and pepper hair from his eyes.

Robin drummed her fingers on the desk in front of her. Her gaze fell to a photo of a woman and two blond boys. Probably his wife and kids. Must be nice to live in a perfect family.

“Mr. Collins, do we have to do this today? It’s my birthday. I mean, I’m sure you can find someone else to talk to.” Robin slumped black in the plush leather chair and twiddled her scarf between her fingers.

“I know you don’t want me to call your probation officer and tell him you refused counseling today. It won’t go well for you. Aren’t you working on a stayed commitment, right now?”

“So.” Robin shrugged and clasped her hands in her lap. She hated to be reminded of the obvious. A year in the Department of Youth Services hung over her head, a dreary black cloud of  painful memories.

“You may not care now, but when you’re in that place, you will.” He leaned back in his chair. “You decide what you want to do. I have all day.”

Ugh! I hate you. Why do you always make me remember these things when I want to forget them? There should be a law against this.

“Mr. Collins, could you please repeat your question? I don’t remember what it was.” Robin shook her head and rolled her eyes.

He smiled. “I see you came back to your senses. How are you dealing with the long separation from your mother?”

“I don’t, Mr. Collins. It makes me angry. It hurts. I want my mom back.” Robin turned her attention to the rain outside, hoping to hold back the tears. If I don’t look at him, I’ll be okay. Just count. One. Two. Three. Four. Crap! I can’t do this. I hate everyone! I hate you. I just want my life back. This is how I feel. This is what I want to say. Can’t you just read my mind? Why torture me? Why make me say it? I wish my mom was here.

Robin remembered her eighth birthday. Her mother had decorated the house with green and black balloons and ribbons. The cake in the oven filled the home with the aroma of vanilla. Just the two of them living their life for the moment. Robin and her mother glided back and forth on the porch swing, singing. Her mother’s long blonde hair outlined her pale face and green eyes. Mom always said Roy used to be a good man, but was ruined by all the secrets and truths life dealt.

“Robin . . . Robin. Where did you go just now?”

His words pulled her out of her memory. “Home. I need to go home. Can I?”  She leaned forward and placed her hands under her chin in supplication. “Please.”

“You had a flashback, didn’t you?” Mr. Collins shook his head and ran his fingers through his hair.

Robin shuddered at his action. Just like Roy.

“No, I didn’t.” She slouched into the chair. “Can’t you just see me tomorrow? I promise I’ll cooperate.”

“How long have you been having the flashbacks?”

Give me a break. “I don’t know. Maybe a month. So, what of it?” She peered up at the clock. Fifteen minutes had passed.

“How has your overall mood been?”

“Really, you’re asking me that question now? Effed up. How’s that?”

“Are you taking your medication like you should?” Mr. Collins picked up a pencil and tapped the eraser to his mouth.

“Yes. Anything else?”

“What about hallucinations, delusions, suicidal or homicidal ideations?”

“No. No. Maybe. And yes.” She pressed her foot against the front of the desk.

“Robin, how many times do I have to tell you? I have to report this stuff to your P.O. Why do you persistently cause friction on purpose?”

“Tell Mr. Hanks. I don’t care. What’s he going to do? I haven’t killed Roy, yet. There’s nothing he can do about a girl dreaming.”

“No, but this fixation you have is starting to control you. I’m worried about you.”

“Don’t. No one else does. I’ll go on, like I always have.” Robin forced a smile. “Can I ask you a question now?”

“Sure.” He dropped the pencil on the desk and leaned forward.

“How much longer do I have left before it happens to me?”

“Robin, we’ve discussed this on several occasions. Your mother has schizophrenia. That doesn't mean you'll have it too.”

“You can't guarantee that. My mother’s crazy. Everyone thinks her daughter is too.”

“No one thinks that. You had it a little rough and made some poor choices in your life.”

“Had it a little rough? Poor choices? Boy, you sure can dish out the lingo.” Robin laughed. “So what happens to me? I’m eighteen today. Isn’t this when I should be losing it?”

“Just because your mother has the disorder, doesn’t mean you will.”

“You can't guarantee that.”

“No one can.” He sighed.

“The story of my life.”

“It could be worse.”

“I doubt that.” Robin stood and straightened out her shirt. “See you later.”

“Be careful tonight.”

“What’s there to be careful about? I’ve got Johnny Law up my butt when I’m not here, and you up it when I am.”

“Happy Birthday.”

“Yeah, whatever.” Robin snatched the door open and rushed through the secretary’s office to the hallway of the school. Empty. Seventh period. I’ll just wait for the bell to ring. I don’t feel like going to class.

She found the door leading to the student’s parking lot and sat on a canopied bench, out of the rain. Her eyes scanned the nearby woods. A flicker of movement in the trees caught her attention. A person. I wonder if old man Hanson’s horses got loose again. Maybe he needs help. She grabbed the raincoat out of her book bag and shrugged it on. The soft drizzle felt cool against her face while she approached the road. After a car passed, she ran across the street and stood at the edge of the trees. She leaned against the first trunk and narrowed her eyes. I don’t see anything. I wonder where he went.

Forcing one foot in front of the other, she crept into the forest, further from the road. The fresh smell of pine and wet earth filled her nose. Her heart fluttered in her chest. Maybe it was just your imagination. Why are you out here in the middle of the woods in the rain? Alone. Dumb decision. This is how those stupid girls in horror movies get their heads chopped off. Before she could turn, a large arm wrapped around her throat and thrust her around. A man in a hooded cloak stared at her with black eyes.   

Please Visit Jennifer at:
Website: http://jenniferdonohoe.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jenniferdonohoeauthor
Twitter: @donohoejennifer
Author of: The Legend of the Travelers: Willow's Journey
Now available at Amazon: http://amzn.to/YprjVV (Paperback)
http://amzn.to/YNMuQK (Ebook)
Now available at Barnes-n-Nobles:  http://bit.ly/SNurs8

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