Friday, July 30, 2010

Queen in Exile by Donna Hatch - Book Review

I love stories that swept me up into a different world and make me want to stay there. That’s exactly what Donna Hatch’s book, Queen in Exile, did for me.

Here’s the backliner of the book:

Rumors of war hang over Princess Jeniah’s peaceful country of Arden, a land that shuns both magic and warfare. Following a lifelong dream, Jeniah forms a telepathic bond with a revered creature called a chayim, who is prophesied to save her kingdom. But when a Darborian knight comes upon Jeniah with her chayim, he sees only a vicious monster about to devour a maiden, and he slays the beast.


Devastated by the loss of her chayim, and fearing that her own magic is evil, Jeniah doubts her destiny. When an enemy invades Arden City, they slaughter the people, storm the castle, and execute the entire royal family except the princess. Rescued by the knight who slew her chayim, Jeniah is now heir to the throne of Arden and the only hope for freeing her people from tyranny.


On the run and hunted by enemy soldiers, Jeniah must place her life and the fate of her kingdom in the hands of this trained killer. Torn between embracing her destiny as queen of Arden, and her love for a mere knight, she must ultimately rely on her magic to save herself and her people from death and tyranny.

See what I mean. This is a wonderful fantasy tale of romance, forbidden love, and love conquers all that is balanced nicely in the fight for a kingdom and a woman who would be queen.

The hero, Kai Darkwood, is a true knight in shining armor to Jeniah. He’s a tough warrior and protector when he needs to be, but kind and gentle when the moment calls for it. He, too, is struggling with a scarred past, but his desire to do his duty and help the woman he knows he shouldn’t love, but does, makes for a great character.

Jeniah is a pampered princess whose world suddenly changes in one horrible night. She’s a smart heroine who doesn’t shy away from doing what needs to be done to survive. The reader watches her grow as the mantel of queen is suddenly thrown upon her shoulders. She meets the challenge with her head held high all the while falling for her knight whom she knows she can never marry.

Was there anything that bothered me about this book? A couple of times I had a hard time visualizing some of the wonderful critters that populated this story, but it was probably just me and it certainly didn’t keep me from reading on and learning more about this fantasy world Hatch created.

This book is one you can curl up on the couch with and forget all your troubles as you read this entrancing story.

(Walnut Springs published this novel. I received a free copy to review, but that in no way influenced my opinion of the book.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why Do Certain Stories Attract You?

Why do we read certain stories?
Why do certain characters stay with us for years?
And why are these stories our favorites?

Think about the stories that attract you. There’s a reason you like them. There’s a reason certain stories stay with you for years.

I remember reading Lassie Come Home when I was a young girl. I’ll never forget how Lassie fought her way to return home to the boy who loved her so much. I also remember reading The Wizard of Oz and discovering all the delightful scenes left out of the movie. I felt the courage Dorothy had to make her journey to Oz and how determined she was to return home. But mostly I enjoyed the reunion she had with her loved ones at the end of the book.

It wasn’t until a few years ago as I was rededicating myself to my writing that I realized why I liked the stories that I do or why the characters stuck with me.

 I was reading Donald Maass’ book, Writing the Breakout Novel, and he said, “They [the characters] say the things we wished we had said. They do things we dream about doing. They grow and change in ways we wish that we could. They feel feelings authentically and without turning away.”

Wow! For me that was profound because he nailed it. Maass made me realize I really liked characters who spoke to my heart and that was why I was attracted to certain stories. I changed the focus of my writing and tried to write characters and stories that made me look deep within myself. This gave me purpose in my writing.

Does your writing have purpose?

Does purpose have anything to do with the premise of a book?

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Stone Traveler is Home!

Last week I only had one blog posting. There were very good reasons for that:
  • The Stone Traveler is being released in August
  • I wanted everyone to see my “First Sightings Contest”
  • And, did I mention, The Stone Traveler is being released in August?
As you can tell I’m excited and nervous at the same time. I’m excited to have a book coming out. There’s nothing like seeing your work in book form. And I’m nervous because…well as many authors know months go into the planning of a new book’s release. In June I was busily working on promotion for The Stone Traveler, and then news came that the printer was having trouble with the ink and that would probably bump the release to November…but that was iffy. So I stepped back feeling very disappointed and yes, a little bruised.

Then the happy news came that the book would be released in August. So last week I was back in the promotional saddle again trying to do everything I could to get the word out. That’s why I wanted to do the “First Sightings Contest.” For all the wonderful and exciting details of the contest click here.

Thursday my daughter and son went with me to pick up my new baby. I only live about 45 minutes away from my publisher and with all the trouble Stone Traveler has had coming into this world I wanted to hold him with my own hands.


Well, my baby is home. Take a look. Isn’t he beautiful? Pretty soon he’ll be all grown up and on book-store shelves. I hope if you see him you’ll make him feel welcomed and give him some encouragement that he can make it in this world. It’s tough out there with so many other books on the shelf. Please take a picture of him and send it to me. Just remember his getting here has been a long, long journey and many times I didn’t think he’d make it at all. So cheer him up with words of encourage, and give him a good home where he can feel loved again.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

FIRST SIGHTINGS CONTEST!!!


I have super-exciting,

extraordinarily-fantabulous news!!!

THE STONE TRAVELER

will be released in AUGUST!!!

You may have seen the new date in my sidebar, but I had to make

certain you knew because I'm having a contest.

I'm going into a new frontier with this one but because the release

date for this book has been extremely hard to nail down I had

to do something.

SO, I'm having a

FIRST SIGHTINGS CONTEST!

Here's the deal:

For the first five people who

1) Find THE STONE TRAVELER in a book store,

2) Take a picture of YOU standing by the book on the store shelf,

3) email the picture to me,

I will have a prize for you!!!

The first person to send me a picture can pick from:

pretty faux turquiose earrings,

a jaguar pen,

or one of three of the

cutest toy jaguars. 



Of course, as I receive pictures the choice will go down,

but it's all good. I mean look at these prizes.

And I'll post your picture on my blog.

Another thing that you could do to help
spread the word is
post about sighting
 The Stone Traveler
on Facebook and Twitter.
:)

Come celebrate with me and be the first to find

The Stone Traveler

in a store near you!!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Book Review - The Golden Spiral by Lisa Mangum

For most romantic stories the hero and heroine are thrown together throughout the book. Publishers like it that way. Readers like it that way. But then every once in a while a book comes along and breaks the rules. And so it is with The Golden Spiral by Lisa Mangum. The reader and heroine don’t actually see the hero until page 230. I know you have questions, but hang on.

The Golden Spiral is the sequel to Mangum’s bestselling novel, The Hourglass Door, which Forward Review awarded Book of the Year for Young Adult for 2009. Sadly, I haven’t read The Hourglass Door, but that didn’t stop me from reading The Golden Spiral

You might ask, did I miss out not reading the first book and starting with the second? Yes, because I didn’t see the relationship develop between Dante, the hero, and Abby, the heroine.

But in starting with the sequel, was the story confusing? No. Mangum did a wonderful job of feeding needed information into the sequel so the reader could pick this novel up and feel as though they weren’t missing crucial information.

So then, were there large info dumps in the novel bringing the reader up to speed? No. Mangum combined the information needed tucked within the action.

All right, but how can a YA, time-traveling romance not have the hero show up until page 230 and keep the romance tension going? Ohhhh, let me tell you, this is the genius in Mangum’s writing. Through Abby’s thoughts and her ability to reach through time the reader hears the hero, feels the love between Dante and Abby, and is on pins and needles until they are finally together again.

Here’s the flap-liner of the book:

The bank is eroding. The barriers are thinning. And time is running out.

The hourglass door has closed behind Dante, sending him back in time to hunt down Zo, Tony, and V. Although giving him up was the hardest test she ever faced, Abby knows that Dante is the only one who can stop the others from destroying time itself. But almost immediately, things start to change, and Abby’s worst fears are realized when Zo begins targeting her past specifically.

With each change that ripples into her present, Abby’s life continues to spiral out of control. Her relationships with Jason, Natalie, and even her family are threatened to the breaking point. Zo’s power is greater than Abby ever imagined. Will her love for Dante be enough to turn the tide?

In many ways I’m glad I started the series with the sequel, for I was able to see the characters in the after-light of the previous novel. It felt kind of like stepping into a room and everyone stops talking and you know they were talking about you, but you don’t dare let on what you suspect. As I read this novel the question “why” constantly dogged me and just as I thought “why” would never be answered it was.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Golden Spiral. And you know what? Since I have a while before the third book in this series is released, I think I’ll read The Hourglass Door. ;)

(Shadow Mountain published this book. I was given a free copy to review, but I reviewed it because I liked it.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Where Do You Write?


Where do you write?

At a desk?

On the couch?

In an office?

In the family room?

In the car?

On a train?

On a plane?

Wait a minute. This is beginning to feel like a Dr. Seuss story.
And that's not where I'm going at all.

Dwight Swain, a bestselling author I quote quite often, said,
"What you really need [to write in] is a windowless, bookless, distractionless gray room."

His point was you should totally concentrate on your story with NO distractions whatsoever.

Now before you dismiss this notion, many years ago when my house was full of kids and I had nowhere to write, I put my small desk and computer in my bedroom's walkin closet. (Yeah, I was a closet writer.) BUT I wrote a lot of good stories in there. None sold, but I was able to concentrate. So there is a lot of truth to what he said.
And if you're having trouble concentrating you might try that.

However, I left closet writing for my office long ago and I must say, I rather like having a window to gaze out of. Is it distracting? I don't believe so. Plus, I really like my office filled with light.

I guess the most important thing is to find 
a place where you can write,
a place where your imagination can soar,
and where your story can unfold.

Different writers find different places where they are most productive.

Where do you write?

And why do you feel you're most productive there?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sad News

Early Saturday morning we received a phone call from a dear friend my husband and I have known since we were teenagers. He called to tell us his wife (one of my closest friends when I was growing up) had died.

 I was shocked.
They live in a different state than we do, so we haven't kept in touch as much as we'd like, but last fall when I was in Idaho doing some book signings we were able to go to dinner with them. We talked as though we were young kids again, remembering the good times we'd had. She was so excited about my books being published, which was very touching.

Needless to say, we left as soon as we could to go to Idaho and attend her viewing and funeral. One of the songs sang at her service was Scatter Sunshine. Not the usual funeral song, but it was so very fitting for my friend. She was a ray of sunshine to everyone. 

Linda, this beautiful flower that makes me think of sunshine, is for you!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Youtube Interview with Stephanie Meyer

I usually have a book review or author interview for you on Fridays.
But I haven't finished reading the book I planned to review for you today.

Last week was my wedding anniversary and my husband took me away for a couple of days.
We had a wonderful time, however I wasn't able to read like I'm use to. 
So what am I going to post for you today?
I hope it's something you'll like.

While doing all that celebrating last week, I saw a lot of movies.
One that I think many of you may have seen was Eclipse.
This was my favorite movie of the Twilight series.
So I thought it would be fun for you to see this youtube interview with Stephenie Meyers.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Writing Goals/Quotas

Last week we talked about setting time aside or rather scheduling time to write. I received some wonderful feedback and most of you know what works best for you.
But I wanted to add something more.

In my writers group every one used to make weekly goals. This worked for quite a while, but pretty soon people started slacking off. The penalty was paying a quarter to the kitty. That kitty became pretty big. Something was missing in keeping our goals.

Commitment.

And making attainable goals.


If you make your goal too high you’re defeating the purpose of the goal.
Make goals that you can keep.
BUT don’t make them so little that they don’t push you.

I have a friend who has a book due in August. She knows she has to write four polished pages a day from now on to meet her deadline. If she pushes and writes more her work won’t be polished. If she doesn’t do four pages she won’t make her deadline and she risks disappointing her publisher. She’s set a quota that works for her, that she feels comfortable with, and one that’s productive.

Goals and quotas are personal.
Some people write faster, some slower,
some write the rough then go back and polish, some polish as they write.
It’s all good.
Deep down you know what you need to do to get the job done.

Set a goal/quota, pace yourself, and write.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Blog Awards

I’ve been given some wonderful blog awards and just haven’t had the time to give them away until today.

Two wonderful bloggers gave me the Versatility Blogger Award: RaShelle and Sharon



I received the Butterfly Award from Stina



And I received One Lovely Blog Award from Suzie.



Now when you receive an award, you need to share the love and these are the rules:
Rules:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who think you are fantastic for whatever reason! (In no particular order...)
4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

Seven things about me…
1. If I open a bag of Black Forest Gummy Cherries I eat the entire bag.
2. My favorite breakfast food is French Toast for breakfast, but I only eat it maybe four times a year because I’m perpetually trying to eat healthy.
3. I average 6 miles on the cycle machine every time I go to the gym (3 days a weeks).
4. I’ve herded cattle with my sister, Mustang Jo.
5. No matter how hard I try I can’t get up on water skies.
6. I love snow. There’s something about the first snowfall of the year that’s magical.
7. And since we just celebrated the 4th of July,  I love to sit on my deck with my family and watch the fireworks in the valley.

I’m passing a choice of one award (which ever one they want) to the following wonderful bloggers:

Stina
Suzie
Rebecca
Ali
Abby
Jana
Cheri
Char
Carolyn
Christine
Cricket
Heather
Jemi
Krista
Rachel

Have a great Monday!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Book Review - Rebound by Heather Justesen

Have you ever had a down day where you felt as though nothing had gone right? After reading about the day Lily Drake had when she found out her husband had been arrested by the FBI, I’ll never complain again.

Here’s the back liner of the book.

Lily's life is perfect--a perfect lie.


With a successful husband, a gorgeous home, and a growing family, Lily Drake has it all. But when the FBI shows up, she realizes her husband is not the man she thought he was.


Meanwhile, Lily’s friend Curtis is about to be drafted by the NBA, but he suddenly feels pulled to find his birth family, and no one is prepared for what he’ll discover. With so many obstacles in their way, Lily and Curtis must learn to rely on each other if they’re ever going to find peace and learn to love again.

Talk about a story that tugs at your heart, Rebound certainly does just that. I felt so sorry for Lily as she found out the man she loved and had children with was not at all the person she thought he was. I tried to put myself in her shoes. As stated in the back liner, Lily was seven months pregnant and had a two-year-old little boy when her world came crashing down. How does a person survive that? I don't know. But it gets worse. Lily loses her home, her good credit, and has to start almost completely over. However, she is a strong woman who loves her little kids and is fortunate to have good friends and family to support her through her trials.

As for her dirt-bag husband, John, he was rotten to the core. Anyone who could lie like he did deserves to be locked up. But his cold heartiness grows worse as he shows no love for his wife and little kids, and is only concerned with himself. Villains are supposed to be black-hearted, yet I found myself hopeful that he’d have one redeeming quality. And I guess he did when he finally agreed to Lily’s terms for their divorce, though that’s a stretch.

Curtis, the hero of this story, fits the bill of a strong romantic lead. He’s there for Lily helping her with her babies, fixing her car when it breaks down, and being a good friend at a times when she really needs one. But Curtis has his own challenges. His mother abandoned him and his siblings when they were very young.As the story unfolds, Curtis is trying to come to terms with his feelings for his biological family.

Rebound is a story about starting over, resetting the clock and coming out on the other side...happy.

Learn more about Heather Justesen by visiting her website or blog.

(Cedar Fort published this book. I received a free copy, and only posted this review because I enjoyed the book.)

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