the story behind the story

As an avid reader of fantasy novels „Creatures of Fire“ is my first attempt at writing a fantasy novel myself. Reading fantasy lets me escape into different worlds, explore foreign characters and talents that are not common in our world, which is why I love this genre so much.

Ever since the idea formed in my head, I wanted to create a world of my own, so I began researching mysterious beings from fairy tales and myths. It didn’t take me long to discover fire demons and to be fascinated by them.

According to myth, fire demons come into our world to avenge murder. Focussed on their mission they are impartial, with a deep seated sense of honor and duty. While researching these creatures, Alexander, one of the main characters of  “Creatures of Fire”, entered my thoughts. He began to tell his story: How he came into this world with the sole purpose of avenging murders. How he began to discover his love of ancient artifacts and art. How he led a life withdrawn from humans but also in the midst of their presence. Not much later Sariel joined him, telling how her parents were killed in an accident, how loneliness and sadness engulfed her ever since the tragedy.

But then she met Alexander.

What set out as a love interest developed into something different. Something far more dangerous and mysterious. Fate threw them into situations where they were forced to fight for their believes.

As happens so often, Alexander and Sariel told the story, not me. While writing the book I didn’t know what would happen next and how they would overcome the obstacles that were in their paths. And then they led me into the ancient, fascinating world of the demons – Dschinnanya. A place where nothing stays the same, where changes are the only constant and where no one can be trusted.

Writing this story was an adventure in itself and an experience I wouldn’t want to miss. Currently I am working on part 2 of the series, which promises to lead me and the reader further into the world of the demons and will feature more of the characters readers have come to love.


Creatures of Fire starts out good.  By the end of the first chapter, the character you've been watching is a prisoner and you, as the reader, have all these questions and desperately seek answers.  This is always my first question when reviewing a book.  Did the author suck me in in the first chapter and she definitely did.

I thought the idea that an Ifrit, a demon, would have whatever appearance most appealed to the viewer was an interesting idea.  Talk about tempted by the devil!

Sometimes I couldn't believe how naive and stupid the main character was.  In fact, looking back on my notes, I find comments about how dumb she is, how dense she is, what's wrong with her?  She is so thick headed about certain things.  She just won't listen or trust anyone except those she shouldn't trust.  In fact, that seems to be a thing throughout the entire book.  She doesn't trust people who clearly have her own best interest at heart and trusts people even when everyone else tells her not to.

The dialog was a bit stiff in the book, which I presume might have something to do with her German background.  And she really seemed to love the word stilted.  I guess six times isn't a whole lot, but it seems like a lot because it tended to be grouped together.

I didn't like her roommate in Paris.  Though perfectly realistic, I wanted the main character to run as far away from her as possible.  I mean, jeez, who finds out her friend was in a coma then waves it off like it was no more than a scrape?  But her take on love was fairly hilarious and made up for it a bit. 

There was some wonderful imagery in the story, like when she is in darkness and covered in blue flames.  Gorgeous.  I loved the world of the demons (I'm not even going to try to name the place).  I loved how it was constantly changing.  That would be awesome!  Get to travel to new and exotic places without actually traveling.  Brilliant!

There were parts that had me smiling and laughing and oh so giddy that things were working out as I'd hoped.

The ending seemed a bit abrupt.  Though the plot certainly ended, I felt like it was missing something.  Maybe I was just hoping for a little more romance in the story.  There was a bit of romance hinted at between two of the characters that never seemed to get off the ground.

All in all, a good read.  I liked Alexander (even though I just realized I never mentioned him at all, really).  Though he's an ifrit, he makes a great hero (and, ironically, a victim as well).  He's someone you want to save.  He makes for great motivation for the main character (and for the reader).  He'll have you reading to the end. 


She is a half demon, oblivious to her true nature.

He is a demon set out to avenge murder.

Together they are hunted by the one person she thought she could trust.

Separate they may be able to save each others lives.

“Creatures of Fire” a tale about power, ambition, responsibility and trust.

Amazon US | Amazon UK |

about the author

J.B. Brooklin is a German author. Having lived abroad for several years in the US (Oregon, California, Florida, New Jersey), Spain and the Seychelles the writer recently returned to her home country and started writing mystery and fantasy novels.

When she is not writing, her husband, twins and her cat are keeping her busy.

Twitter: @JB_Brooklin




Thank you so much for hosting me today on your blog. I'm so excited to be here.

CHASING SAM approaches the society of werewolves in Vegas Mates in a more human way than some shifter books at first. Emphasis is not placed so much on whether or not a particular wolf is an alpha or beta...but on their status in the werewolf society as a whole. There are wolves with noble bloodlines and wolves that are considered common. My twist on werewolf lore is that the noble blooded wolves have tried to separate themselves from their wolf, breaking the pack mentality and living quite separated from each other. They rule as government over the non-noble packs. As the series progresses you will see more of the differences and struggles in the mentalities of the noble vs. non-noble wolf packs and their interactions with other shifter breeds. The non-noble wolf packs will function in a more traditional way with the alphas, betas, and so on, yet they will still answer to the nobles in power. Think along the lines of an medieval feudal system. 

CHASING SAM is just the beginning of an adventure! I hope you will join me.


The worst thing about this book was it ended before I wanted it to.  It was just too short.  I wanted to spend more than a few hours with Chase and Sam!
I really liked Sam and Chase and absolutely despised her mom and her other suitors (Hah! Suitors.  As if.).  God, I wanted to wallop her one something fierce!

The author was very good about playing to the reader's emotions and my moods swung like a manic-depressive without her meds.  I found myself laughing and then quickly wanting to hit someone, yearning for them to get together and practically yelling for them to run as fast as their legs could carry them.

What can I say?  I liked it.  Now, when's the next book coming out?!?  I need my next fix. 


Samantha Demakis doesn’t want a mate right now. Her birth-rite and family obligations to her status as the first daughter of a noble family beg to differ. In fact, even her wolf seems to be against her. When a chance encounter reveals the man who might just be a perfect fit, will she run? Or will she fight?

Chase Michaels has been alone for seventy-five years. He’s fought in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and Afghanistan in the US Army. Somewhat resigned to never finding his true mate, he is shocked when his wolf reacts so strongly to a woman he runs into in the airport. Unprepared for the politics and snobbery of the noble families, Chase finds himself fighting in a different type of war —a war for the heart of a woman he knows should be his.

A lot of things are chasing Sam, but who or what will catch her in the end?

Amazon | Smashwords

About the Author

Krystal Shannan is a born, raised, and current TEXAN. She is married to a wonderful man who supports her dream of writing and allows her to spend many evening and weekend hours glued to her laptop. During the day she moonlights as an elementary music teacher. In addition to a doting husband, a young daughter is also part of the picture and keeps her hopping! An ornery little Welsh Corgi completes the household.

Krystal has been writing stories since she could hold a pencil. She has always dreamed of writing romance and sharing the "movies in her head" with the world. If she's not writing, she's reading -historical, paranormal, action, adventure -anything she can get her hands on that ends with a Happily Ever After!

If you are interested in receiving emails when new new books are released, please sign up for her distribution list by visiting and clicking the "contact" tab.    

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Gladie Burger is the heroine of the Matchmaker Series. I recently asked her to tell me about a typical day in her life. This is what she told me…

Yes, I have to admit my days were a lot more boring before I moved to Cannes, CA to work in my grandma’s matchmaking business. It used to be I would get up, brush my teeth, get dressed, go to work, come home, watch TV, and go to sleep.

Of course, I moved around a lot and switched jobs like some people switch toilet paper rolls, but otherwise, it was a pretty boring life. And safe.

Since I moved in with my grandma a few months ago, I have had men chase me, murderers chase me, and once a dog chased me—but that was because I was carrying Grandma’s order of ribs, and who doesn’t like ribs?

When I’m not stumbling on to dead bodies, here’s a pretty typical day for me:

7:00 AM: I wake up if my alarm clock is working, but I got it on sale at a thrift shop, and the wire is a little frayed and sometimes it turns off in the middle of the night if I turn too much in bed and jiggle the wire. So, if it doesn’t go off, I wake up around 9:00 when my grandma comes in and tells me that contrary to popular belief, love blossoms in the morning, not the night, and I better get cracking if I’m going to be in the love business.

7:15 AM: (if I didn’t jiggle the wire): I take a shower and wash my hair with this fabulous coconut-smelling shampoo my friend Lucy gave me during her travels for work. She’s in marketing, whatever that is.

7:30 AM: I always put on mascara, no matter what, and usually I wear workout clothes, even though I haven’t worked out since I moved to Cannes. (Note to self: start yoga. Everybody does yoga but me.) I try to tame my hair with gel/mousse/serum, but it mostly does what it wants.

7:45 AM: Eat breakfast with Grandma. Usually bagels are involved. “Dolly,” she’s said. “Bagels are indispensable. Like toothpaste. And eyeliner. And control top pantyhose.”

8:15: Follow Grandma around and help her with whatever singles class she’s hosting.

11:00: Give up on class, wonder if I’ll ever be a successful matchmaker, go to pick up lunch for Grandma from one of her favorite fast food places and stop at Tea Time for a much needed latte.

11:15: My credit card gets declined, and I scrounge coins from the bottom of my purse to buy a latte. Ruth calls me a “reprobate.” As soon as I get a dictionary, I will be upset she called me that.

12:00: Pick up ribs/fried chicken/tacos for Grandma but am stopped by hunky police chief Spencer Bolton. “What are you up to, Pinkie?” he asks me and then tries to look down my blouse. “You are five years old,” I tell him. He leaves to fight crime.

12:15: My car won’t start. I call AAA and eat the ribs while I wait. Sexy yumminess Arthur Holden jogs by and sees me. “Hi,” he says and sticks his head through my car window. I have bbq sauce on my face but nothing to clean it off with. He doesn’t care. He kisses me, and my eyes roll back in my head. He jogs away, and I realize I’ve forgotten to tell him my car won’t start, but I’m feeling no pain. My uterus is humming love songs.

1:30: AAA doesn’t show up, and I decide to walk home. On the way I stumble on a dead body. I scream. I pass out.

1:40: I wake up. The dead guy is still there. He has a bullet wound to his head. I think: Why me? Why am I a magnet for death? I call Spencer.

1:42: Spencer arrives. “Are you kidding me?” he asks me, as if I drag in dead bodies from neighboring towns just to piss him off.

1:45: Spencer warns me not to get involved with the murder case.

1:46: I get involved with the murder case.

1:50: Spencer gets a police officer to drive me home.

2:00: I arrive home with no food, but somehow Grandma knows and has ordered in food, herself. We sit in the kitchen with the food, and my friends Lucy and Bridget come over and talk about the murder. They ask me if I know who the murderer is. I don’t.

3:00: Grandma takes a nap. Someone comes over and tries to kill me.

4:00: The gardener saves me with his pruning shears. Now there’s two dead bodies.

4:10: Spencer arrives and reads me the riot act. Holden comes over and rubs my back and asks if I’m okay. I realize the murderer wasn’t working alone, but I don’t tell anybody.

5:26: I solve the crime. I know who killed who and why and how (wouldn’t you like to know?). Spencer yells at me for getting involved and looks dreamily into my eyes, making me hyperventilate. Holden takes me out to dinner, pushing Spencer out of the way.

7:00: I choke on a chicken bone at dinner and go home early. Grandma has hot cocoa waiting for me, and she tells me I have “the gift”. Spencer unexpectedly shows up, grabs a root beer, and sits down at the table with us. He gives me the rundown of the aftermath of the murder case.

10:15: I kick Spencer out, even though he offers to make me levitate if only I would let him into my bed. I think about this offer.

10:28: I go to bed. Good night! Sweet dreams!

An affair to dismember

Certain to appeal to fans of Janet Evanovich, Jennifer Crusie, and Katie MacAlister, Elise Sax’s hilarious series debut introduces matchmaker-in-training Gladie Burger, who stumbles into a dangerous quagmire of murder and red-hot romance.

Three months has been Gladie Burger’s limit when it comes to staying in one place. That’s why Gladie is more than a little skeptical when her eccentric Grandma Zelda recruits her to the family’s matchmaking business in the quaint small town of Cannes, California. What’s more, Gladie is also highly unqualified, having a terrible track record with romance. Still, Zelda is convinced that her granddaughter has “the gift.” But when the going gets tough, Gladie wonders if this gift has a return policy.

When Zelda’s neighbor drops dead in his kitchen, Gladie is swept into his bizarre family’s drama. Despite warnings from the (distractingly gorgeous) chief of police to steer clear of his investigation, Gladie is out to prove that her neighbor’s death was murder. It’s not too long before she’s in way over her head—with the hunky police chief, a dysfunctional family full of possible killers, and yet another mysterious and handsome man, whose attentions she’s unable to ignore. Gladie is clearly being pursued—either by true love or by a murderer. Who will catch her first?

Amazon | BN | Wal-Mart | BooksAMillion

Praise for An Affair to Dismember

“Elise Sax’s new Matchmaker series is off to a rousing start! . . . Sax gives the comic mystery genre a new spin. . . . A fun read sure to entertain.”--RT Book Reviews

“Fans of laugh-out-loud romantic suspense will enjoy this new author as she joins the ranks of Janet Evanovich, Katie MacAllister, and Jennifer Crusie.”--Booklist

“Elise Sax will win your heart.”--New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis

“In the tradition of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, Elise Sax’s new novel is a funny, sexy ride.”--Valerie Frankel, author of Four of a Kind

“What a fun book! It will leave readers begging for more.”—Kim Gruenenfelder, author of There’s Cake in My Future

about the author


Elise Sax worked as a journalist for fifteen years, mostly in Paris, France. She took a detour from journalism and became a private investigator before trying her hand at writing fiction. She lives in Southern California with her two sons. An Affair to Dismember, the first in the Matchmaker mystery series, is her first novel.

Some of us who have chosen to write fiction come from a variety of places. And by “a variety of places,” I’m not referring to a physical location; I’m referring to our writing experiences.

There are some of us who have enjoyed writing since we were children, and each year, by writing something in school, it improved. For some of us, it continued until we graduated college and began working. Some of us entered the work force taking jobs, which required us to write, whether it was procedures, handbooks/manuals, or news stories. But all of these are non-fiction, and each one has a set of “rules” that need to be followed to write something well enough to be acceptable.

As for myself, while my regular job did not require me to write, for eleven years I wrote articles [commentaries/viewpoints] of what was happening in my community and my feelings about it. When I started to write these items, my writing skills were not honed. I didn’t have my ideas organized in a tight manner, although my writing had been informative. By the time I’d written my last item, I’d become quite adept at it.

When I started to write fiction, I somehow drifted to writing a contemporary romance story with a paranormal element running through the storyline, but after almost 9 years I still hadn’t completed it. That is, until someone suggested I should write for a much younger audience, which is what I did, cumulating in my first YA Paranormal/Time Travel/First Kiss romance novel entitled I Kissed a Ghost.

Anyway, making the transition from non-fiction to fiction, I’ve had to learn a new set of rules on how to write. Most of these involved dialogue, showing not telling, where before I just told. I now had to learn about the use of tags. I had to learn not to be overly descriptive of something, but allow my reader to create the image for themselves in their minds. In the beginning I found it hard to break my old writing habits. Now I’m finding myself with these habits essentially gone. The biggest issue I still have and am trying to get a good handle on, is POV [Point of View]. Regardless of what’s happening or being said it has to be in one character’s perspective, and you can’t flip-flop between two characters within a scene. There needs to be a transition from one character to another.

All these things have helped me mold myself into the author I’m today. I’ve also learned there are additional rules within a genre, depending on the sub-genre you’ve decided to write in. These rules apply to the dialogue spoken, which needs to be true to the time period you’re writing in, as well as how your characters are dressed, and their titles, if any, as is the case with the regencies sub-genre of romance novels.

So as you can see, writing is not merely a string of words you put together. There are rules that need to be followed if you’re to be well received by your readers.  

If you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you.

I’m a retired NYC civil servant who has been married for 19 years with no children. We have two cats, a senior Maine Coon with diabetes, and a 10 year old calico. For my second romance novel I’ve returned to writing the Contemporary romance I wrote about in my post.

I Kissed a Ghost is available on Amazon.
The Kindle version should become available around April 24, 2013.

If anyone would like to read several UNEDITED SNIPPETS from the book you can find under the category of “GHOSTLY WHISPERS” on any my blog sites: |  

You can also find me on:

Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Tumblr | Wordpress Blog


The bear of back cover copy
otherwise known as the book blurb…

I hate writing copy for query letters and back flaps.  Most writers do.  It requires us to boil the story we’ve spent the last who knows how long sweating out onto the page into a few short snappy sentences created to get you, the reader, to raise an eyebrow and open the front cover. 

I love cover art – it’s what gets me to pick up a book in a store, or scroll down the page to the description in the online venue.  But the kicker, at least for me, is the book description.  If this doesn’t strike my fancy, I don’t press the all important purchase button.  I might press the free sample button – and in the store, I might turn to the first page just because I know there’s an art to writing that jacket copy and it isn’t always a reflection of the writer’s skill.   However, when there is a good blurb to go along with a killer cover, I don’t sample or turn to the first page.

Nope. I go all in and take a chance on the book. 

I’ve found that most times, a well crafted blurb means a well crafted book - especially when the book is under the small press or indie framework.  In this framework, it’s usually the author’s responsibility to submit a blurb – or at least a first cut at it as opposed to the big publishing houses that have hired hands creating the cover copy.  

I don’t think I’m alone in this opinion, so how do you get from a 70,000 word novel to a paragraph or two summary, well it’s time to go back to school and the notion of a book report.  What’s the main theme?  I’m sure you could write a ten thousand word dissertation on your theme but that’s not going to catch a reader’s attention. 

Let’s take a look at the original blurb for my favorite all time book – The Stand:

This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.

And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides -- or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail -- and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.

Now Mr. King could have chosen any number of key characters but he focused on the central theme of good and evil.  He goes a step further by leaving it just hanging out there, tickling our interest without hinting at the battle we know is inevitable when people take sides. 

Read the blurb aloud.  I dare you. 

Now tell me that didn’t give you goosebumps.  Even if you’ve never read The Stand – this is enough to get you to read the first few pages of that mammoth manuscript.

As an editor, if this blurb passed over my desk, I would be compelled to stop and re-read it, relish the unspoken poetry of it and of course, I’d ask for the full manuscript. Not because this is Stephen King, but because he gave me just enough to tickle that spot. That spot that demands attention, demands to be scratched.  Just enough for me to have to know what happens next.

Incredible power and that’s exactly what you should strive for in writing the back cover copy, but don’t stop there, the book has to deliver the promise you make in the blurb, so make sure your prose are just as sharp and satisfying. 

Thanks for swinging into this stop on my blog tour and I hope you'll find my blurb for Night Hawk one that tickles your fancy!

Selling your soul has never been so charming and Mark throws in a little something to sweeten the pot, his girlfriend Naomi.

Sentenced to death at the hands of a demon, Naomi Hawk has a firsthand lesson in despair and betrayal in Mark’s deal for fame with all the trimmings. Deep in the clutches of the underground brotherhood, Naomi's light is coveted for the Master's gain.

When she slips and falls eighty stories from a precarious ledge, Naomi resigns herself to the inevitable impact and death by shattered bones. Before she can escape her demons in eternal slumber, something sinister plucks her from the plummet, stealing her out of the night to sacrifice her forever to the shadows.

Imprisoned in bottomless darkness, Naomi thirsts for justice…and revenge.

Until next time,



Book Review

This was a hard book for me to review.  For the most part, I enjoyed reading it, I think it is worth reading, but I couldn't honestly remember any specific tidbits that really stood out to me after the fact.  That being said, the story was fast paced, action packed, and entertaining.  

I found the use of first person point of view for two different characters at times jarring and, with the duration of some of the chapters in each character's POV, sometimes hard to get into (it takes a little bit to reset to thinking that the "I" character is no longer who you think it is), which might have led to the above mentioned lack of tidbits (for me, I guess it was kind of liking switching between English and Spanish each chapter - I'd have to re-immerse myself each time).  I finished the book quickly, so any issues with editing or style didn't slow me down, which I generally use as a guide of whether the editing was adequate.

Overall, I enjoyed the story, was immersed in the plot and the character's plights for most of the day.  I enjoyed the characters and Michael was pretty complex, if a little frustrating (but the best characters always are).  It was a fun little story to cuddle up on the couch with. 

Book Description:

Selling your soul has never been so charming and Mark throws in a little something to sweeten the pot, his girlfriend Naomi.

Sentenced to death at the hands of a demon, Naomi Hawk has a firsthand lesson in despair and betrayal in Mark’s deal for fame with all the trimmings. Deep in the clutches of the underground brotherhood, Naomi's light is coveted for the Master's gain.

When she slips and falls eighty stories from a precarious ledge, Naomi resigns herself to the inevitable impact and death by shattered bones. Before she can escape her demons in eternal slumber, something sinister plucks her from the plummet, stealing her out of the night to sacrifice her forever to the shadows.

Imprisoned in bottomless darkness, Naomi thirsts for justice…and revenge.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

About the Author:

J.E. Taylor is a writer, a publisher, an editor, a manuscript formatter, a mother, a wife and a business analyst, not necessarily in that order.  She first sat down to seriously write in February of 2007 after her daughter asked:

“Mom, if you could do anything, what would you do?”

From that moment on, she hasn’t looked back and now her writing resume includes a more than a dozen published novels along with several short stories on the virtual shelves including a few within eXcessica anthologies.

In addition to being co-owner of Novel Concept Publishing

(www.novelconceptpublishing), Ms. Taylor also moonlights as a Senior Editor of Allegory (, an online venue for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. She has been known to edit a book or two and also offers her services judging writing contests for various RWA chapters.

She lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children and during the summer months enjoys her weekends on the shore in southern Maine. 

Visit her at


I’ve been asked many times if there is anything that helps or inspires me to write. That answer is easy. Music. I love all types of music and learned in the early stages of my writing that melodies put me in the mood to write.  They also allow me to draw into what a character may be feeling during a particular scene. As I listen to the strums of a guitar or the fingers glide across the ivory keys of a piano, I begin to see, touch, and feel my characters emotions from a deeper, richer viewpoint.

It didn’t take long for me establish a playlist for each of my stories. I found myself listening to the same tunes over and over again while on the treadmill every morning (part of my routine before I start my day off). I got tired of scrolling around on my iPod to the last played Iist, so I decided to create my soundtrack for each scene/chapter so I could access them easily for daily inspiration.

The downside to this is every time I hear a song from my playlist on the radio, I can’t stop thinking about that scene or chapter from one of my stories. On a positive note, a conversation or thought from one of my characters has hit me from time to time when one of these songs popped up on the radio. I can’t complain about that if it makes the scene better. So for now, I’ll keep writing to the beat of the music and looking for that next song to help inspire that breath-taking, burst out in laughter, tear jerking, or adrenaline rushing scene.

Here’s my playlist for Element, Part 1:

Chapter 1:

“We Are Never Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift

“Wide Away” by Katy Perry

Chapter 2:

“Need In Me” by Danny Dove and Steve Smart featuring Amanda Wilson

“Hot Summer Night” by Dave Tavarè

Chapter 3:

“Call Me Maybe” by Here’s My Number

“Every Word” by Ercola featuring Daniella

“What A Feeling” by Alex Gaudino

Chapter 4:

“I’m In” by Keith Urban

“She’s Everything” by Brad Paisley

Chapter 5:

“When Love Takes Over” by David Guetta featuring Kelly Rowland

“Free” by Zac Brown Band

Chapter 6:

“Love You Like A Love Song” by Selena Gomez and The Scene

“Getting’ You Home” by Chris Young

“I Can’t Help Myself” by Bellatrax featuring Sophia May

Chapter 7:

“Where Have You Been” by Rihanna

“Evacuate The Dancefloor” by Cascada

“Nobody Wants To Be Lonely” by Ricky Martin

“Elements of Life” by Tiesto

Chapter 8:

“Restlessness” by Bastien Laval featuring Layla

“Everytime We Touch” by David Guetta & Chris Willis with Steve Angello & Sebastian Ingrosso

Book Review:

I had mixed feelings about this novella.  First, the book is first and foremost a Young Adult Romance and SciFi is a far second.  Most of the story revolves around the budding relationship of Natalie and Ryan.  While I was definitely engaged in their romance and I was enthralled by their plight, I think I was expecting a little more freaky stuff.

That being said, I suspect the next part in the series will have a great deal more freaky stuff.  Sadly, like many of the novellas I've read, especially ones broadcasting they'll part of a series like this one, I felt a lack of closure.

I loved the dream sequences most of all.  But I guess I have a thing for dream sequences because you can stretch the limits of reality even beyond the limits of your story.  I also loved the part where they're dancing and he's singing "Getting you home" by Chris Young (which is a song, by the way, I really like).  All I was thinking was that it was probably not the most apropos song when they intend to wait till marriage.

I was a little frustrated with Natalie and her whole I don't want to get hurt again thing.  I get being hurt and being afraid of getting hurt again.  I don't get taking a single experience and extrapolating it consciously to the entire male population.  This bugged me throughout the story and made me want to yell at her to get over herself.

I really enjoyed the last ¼ of the book and the ending was great.  It took a while for the story to really build.  The author gives you bits and pieces and clues, but unfortunately it has more than one part and you only get the first part with this book.  

Now, onto a few of my pet peeves.  I'm not overly fond of reviewing ARC copies, as this one was.  I'm never certain what will be removed from the finalized printing and what was, in fact, a mistake.  Why doesn't she put up a fuss when he suggests adding a class in May when they had their schedules finalized in April?  And, I don't know about you, but when I hit someone really skinny, I go down.  No muscle and no fat means you contact directly with bone... which is very painful.  Last time I did it, I was on the floor for ten minutes trying to regain the ability to walk.

All in all, if you enjoy a good YA Romance with just a dash of weird, I think you'll enjoy the book.  It's sweet and angsty.  There's danger and suspense and shady dealings.  It really picks up around 3/4 the way through the book.  I found myself really wanting the two to get together and really frustrated as their pasts and presents kept clashing and keeping them apart.  Looking forward to Part II.

About the Author:

CM Doporto lives in the great state of Texas with her husband and son enjoying life with their extensive family along with their Chihuahua, Mexican Redhead Parrot and several fish.

She writes Young Adult and New Adult Sci-Fi/Urban Fantasy stories about ordinary women who do extraordinary things, become a heroine, and find love along the way.



Twitter: @cm_doporto



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Resurrecting Harry, An Ode to New Beginnings

Do you know of someone who lost their spouse at a young-than-expected age?  After a period of mourning, did they go on to find love once again, or were they only lucky in love once?

Or was it maybe more than that? I know someone that even though they married again, considers that first spouse their one-and-only.

These were some of the questions that ran through my mind when I was working on my new release from Crescent Moon Press, Resurrecting Harry.

The side of me that writes romance novels finds the notion of being so connected to a spouse that no one else would ever fill that void endearing. There is something about the idea of fated love – one single soul that is meant to spend and eternity with the other – that makes our heart melt into a big puddle. Isn’t there?

The other side of my brain, the much more rational side, imagines a life pining for a lost love to be lonely. I truly believe we weren’t meant to live our lives alone.

In Resurrecting Harry, I wanted to honor both sides of the proverbial coin. Honoring the love and dedication that Bess had for her cherished husband was just as important to me as giving her that happily-ever-after that is expected in romance.

One of the stipulations of Jaden’s wager with Harry is that Erich cannot tell Bess that its Harry’s soul entrapped within the new body. He must guide her through her mourning process and help her find the way to a new beginning in life. Yet, the homage to Bess’s life-long commitment is still honored.

What do you think about the idea of two souls being destined? Do you believe that we each have only one soul mate? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below? 

With a pop, this faded to white too.

Always trapped. Never escaping. No reward.

The spinning continued, like a phonograph record.

Shivers raked his body. In the distance, he could hear a doctor offering comfort and explaining to a sobbing Bess that hope was lost. 


This story was a breath of fresh air, a refreshing twist on a well known tale.  The book started out drawing the reader in.   The otherworldly scenes with Jaden were really cool.  I liked how the world just sort of shifted without warning.  The author really made the most of the limitless creative space available.

Though I probably shouldn't have, I liked Jaden too.  There was just something about his devil may care attitude and allusiveness that intrigued me and made me smile.  

And I couldn't help but be drawn into Harry (or should I say Erich) and Bess's ups and downs.  To me, this story is an ultimate example of star-crossed lovers.  Harry loves her and, to a certain extent, she feels the pull as well but won't admit it to him or even herself.  The reader is pulled through highs where he does good and she lets him into her life just a little, and lows where she shuts down and shuts him out, breaking his heart.

I spent most of the book, equally hoping that she would see him for who he truly is, but at the same time, I think what I was really hoping for was that she would see him as her true soul mate, which, as Harry or Erich, he most certainly would always be.

Great story, new idea.  All in all.  Worth a read.

About the Author:

Constance Phillips lives in Ohio with her husband, two ready-to-leave-the-nest children, and four canine kids. Her perfect fantasy vacation would involve hunting Dracula across Europe with her daughter, who also digs that kind of stuff. When she's not writing about fairies, shifters, vamps, and guardian angels, she's working side-by-side with her husband in their hardwood flooring business.

Constance is actively involved in her local Romance Writers of America chapter (MVRWA) and the Southeast Michigan chapter of the United States Pony Club. When not writing or enjoying the outdoors, she loves reality television or can be found at a Rick Springfield concert (just look for the pink Converse high tops).

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First, don’t do it, if that’s how you plan on making a living. Sure, we all hear about the fabulous successes of the J.K. Rowlings and John Greshams, but what you don’t hear is how long they struggled to even get published, and that people who make real money writing fiction are about .01% of all the writers out there. That’s 1/10th of ONE PER CENT!

Second, if you’re still intent on being a writer and getting published by a REAL publisher, you’d better have a thick skin and be able to take rejection…after rejection… after rejection! You may NEVER find an agent or publisher for your work. Louis L’Amore, probably America’s most prolific writer of Westerns, was reputedly rejected 350 times before getting his first story published.

So, unless you’re writing for the joy of it…that you really want to get that story down on paper, no matter what…then find some better use for your time.

But if in the face of all that, you still want to write that novel, then here’s some advice.

First, pick up a couple of books on fiction writing. Donald Maass’ “Writing the Breakout Novel,” and Albert Zuckerman’s “Writing the Blockbuster Novel,” are two of a legion of titles available. Zuckerman’s book gives you a complete roadmap, from beginning to end. You can search Amazon or (good, like-new used books, cheaper) or the library. While you’re at it, you should pick up Dave King’s “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers,” which you’ll need later. Read those first, to get you on the right track.

Now, imagine the story you want to write, think of where it’s going and the characters who are going to take it there…and how you want it to end. I write a brief outline, often chapter by chapter, and make up 4 x 6 cards for each major character. Those cards should show each character’s physical appearance (eye color, hair, nose, height, build, distinguishing features, etc.), and who they are (personality), and a list of their various interests. The more complete you make these, the more your characters will take on real-life dimensions. And if while fleshing out your story, you add something to the character, add it to their card. You don’t want a blue-eyed gal to have “emerald” eyes later. Believe me, it happens.

Time to begin writing. Everyone does this differently. Personally, I’ll write the entire story before I do much editing. I don’t worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar while I’m getting my story down. I try to get emotionally involved with my protagonist, and I let him (or her) take over the plot. Each of my four novels changed substantially as I wrote, from my original outline. Even the endings on a couple got changed. In collaboration with my editor at TAG, Dee Burks, I made substantial revisions to much of the end of TRAPPED, although I preserved the very ending. 

The hard work comes when you’ve finished the first draft. My immediate task is correcting mechanical errors: spelling, punctuation, grammar and sentence construction. Then look at the story. Did you create tension? Donald Maass asks, “What’s the worst thing that can happen to your characters?” After coming up with that trauma, he asks, “What can be WORSE than that?” Wow! Even worse! Okay, you finally think of something really bad, and then Maass asks, “What’s even WORSE than that?” If there’s no jeopardy…no anxiety…no one will bother reading it.

Okay, now you’ve built lots of tension. Now read the dialog out loud. Does it sound contrived or natural? Join a critique group where you can read some pages, and listen to other read theirs…and develop a sense of what sounds good. Good dialog requires few tags. Readers should usually know who is talking, but if you need a tag for clarity, keep it mostly to “he said; she said.” And use contractions. People rarely say “I do not” instead of “don’t”…unless it’s used for emphasis.

Then, go back and find “static” words, replacing them with vibrant words. He “scurried” from the room, not “ran.” She “studied” him, not “looked.” The sun “burst” over the horizon, not “rose.” This is how you punch up your prose, and develop you own “voice.”

Finally, review your descriptive areas. It’s important for your readers to have a mental picture of how someone or someplace looks…but don’t over-do it. Some writers spend a half-page describing how a person is dressed. That’s way too much, and takes your readers out of the story. Find the middle ground.

Don’t think one edit or revision will do it, either. I removed a complete side plot from my original version of TRAPPED. It was exciting, but just didn’t add to that story. But it wasn’t a loss. I’m using it in one of my new Al Warner detective novel, so that manuscript starts out already half written.

In the end, writing the first novel will be a huge learning experience. Few authors get their first novel published. While in a sense, I’m bucking that trend, since TRAPPED is my first novel. But I’ve written three others, and TRAPPED is so rewritten from my first draft, it might as well be my 5th…or 6th !

That’s what it takes to succeed. 

About The Author:

George A Bernstein is a youthful seventy-six-year-old, with a B.A. from Northwestern University, now living in south Florida, and the retired president of a publicly-held Chicago company. George's main interest is as a serious novelist. He has attended numerous writers’ conferences and seminars, including that of famous fiction agent, Donald Maass, and he has worked with independent editor, Dave King, all with the goal of improving his craft.

George is also a “World-Class” fly-fisherman, and has held a dozen various IGFA fishing World records. In his life before writing, George ran Outdoor Safaris, a World-wide fishing & hunting tour operator, working with airlines and travel agencies promoting premier sporting trips. He has also published the definitive book on fly-fishing for pike & musky, Toothy Critters Love Flies.

George's first novel, Trapped, is published by TAG Publishers, after being a finalist in their Next Great American Novel contest. Dee Burks and her staff really love the story, and her revision suggestions helped make Trapped the best it can be. Trapped was also a finalist at the 2012 Florida Writers Association RPLA fiction contest in 2012. Trapped has received virtually all 5-Star reviews on Amazon.

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Book Description:

The darkness is still, silent. Jackee Maren’s heart pounds reverberating through her body as fear sears her veins. Someone’s coming. No way out. This time they will kill me. Her breath is short, her chest burns. Must run. Faster. Faster! Her eyes fly open, her heart still racing with blinding fear. Jackee breathes deeply with relief and stares at the ceiling desperately trying to calm herself. The same dream. Something, someone is watching . . . and waiting.

A tragic car accident leaves beautiful, vibrant Jackee Maren completely paralyzed, in “Locked-in Syndrome,” able to move only her eyes. Jackee’s husband, Phil, is devastated and her two young boys left with nothing but a shell for a mother, but still, Jackee senses the foreboding of an evil presence and knows time is short.

Slowly, Jackee learns to communicate with her physical therapist, Kevin, by blinking her eyes. As evidence comes to light that her car accident was no accident, Jackee doggedly strives to expose the person who wants her dead before they get a second chance.

While Jackee struggles to put all the clues together, she’s stunned to discover she has the ability to sense the thoughts of others, but she hides this talent from everyone but her sons, not knowing whom she can trust. By actively exercising her new psychic ability, Jackee finally learns who masterminded the “accident” but feels helpless to stop them from trying to kill her again.

Desperate to survive, she slowly concocts a psychic plan to not only ensure her boys are safe forever, but to exact retribution on her would-be murderer. Jackee vows not to rest until this villain understands what it is to be TRAPPED! But she must hurry. Her psychic manipulations of the players in her “skit” of revenge are sapping her meager reserves, leaving her with only months to live.

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Excerpt from trapped:

Turn signal flashing, she eases into the right lane in front of a large, battered pick-up, with less than a half-mile to the Old Orchard Exit Ramp. Jackee Maren rarely drives so aggressively, but first delayed by her two sons’ late departure from school, and then navigating around a minor fender bender on Dundee road, she is already ten minutes behind, and she’s never late. The Northern Illinois Chapter of the United Way won’t start their planning session without their chairwoman, and Jackee hates the idea of keeping so many busy people waiting.

Peeling onto the ramp, her attention is drawn to her two boys, bickering and shoving in the back seat. Glancing back at the road, a ridge of goose bumps cascades down her spine. They’re hurtled toward a string of glaring taillights… cars unexpectedly stopped by a red light at the first intersection off the expressway.

Jamming a foot on the brakes, she’s stunned when the big Mercedes slews sharply right, smack into the path of the huge pickup truck, which had exited behind her. It slams into the rear fender of the sedan, sending it careening off the road, the seatbelts gouging her shoulder, crushing the breath from her lungs.

“Hang on boys,” she gasps. Oh God! My sons! They can’t die here.

They spin down the embankment like an eccentric top, ricocheting off a bridge column. The wheel torn from her grip, the air filled with the screech of rending metal and the stench of burning rubber, the car rears like a great angry beast, its rear legs hamstrung. Slamming down, it hurtles backward into the culvert, bucking and skipping along the steep embankment.

Despite seatbelts, Jackee is flung around like a rag doll in the jaws of some huge terrier. The air bag erupts in the midst of their tumultuous downward plunge, rushing out at 200 MPH, just as frontal impact slings her forward.

Her face catches the brunt of the blow, skewering lips on her teeth, smashing her nose. A searing bolt of pain fires across her brain, igniting a burst of red heat behind her tearing eyes. A sharp pitch right crushes her left cheek against the window, knocking her momentarily senseless. The sedan teeters, enveloped in a cloud of dust, hunkering precariously on its haunches before crashing down on its wheels, coming to a thunderous, grinding stop.

She awakens to wailing and blubbering from the two small boys in the rear seat.

“Mommy!” The call gasped through ragged breathing.

“Mommy!” Now a frantic screech.

“I’m…I’m here.” We’re alive! Thank God, we’re all still alive.

She sags against the seatbelt, every joint singed with agony, unable to will herself into action.

Help should be coming. She moans.  Gotta hang on… She slips out of consciousness.

The continued bawling and moaning of her sons stir her, drawing her out of the fog of semi-consciousness. One of her eyes is swollen shut, but the other flickers open, glazed with shock.

Where the Hell’s Fire/Rescue. 

Today's guest post is by author Linda Stirling.  Her book Confessions of a Sunday School Psychic, a non-fiction about her life, will be free for ebook downloads on Amazon through March 3rd, so get 'em while they're hot!

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Throughout the realm of paranormal fiction, one finds an element of plot that is consistently present: vampires. You doubt? Just take a look at the category of "paranormal" on Goodreads: fifty of the first fifty listings for paranormal books have fangs attached to their storylines. One book of the fifty takes the smallest of departures and describes her character as "half vampire"--whatever that might be. Maybe a vampire who only sucks blood on odd days of the week or only drains a quart of blood per sitting. 

Where are the break-away-from-the-crowd writers? Those who don't need their characters to hang upside down from the rafters during daylight, those who want to embark on the journey of fresh writing instead of fresh blood?

Here's where some of my puzzlement comes from. I'm someone who lives with the paranormal on a daily basis. Not as a reader, mind you, but as a psychic medium. Never once have I seen a vampire. Demons, yes, dark entities in all their shadowy forms, yes, ghosts aplenty, too, but zilch on the vampires. Real-life paranormal "bad guys" would beat the crap out of a vampire any day, and the "good entities" as I call them, well, I can't see any vampire heroes besting them in the winner's circle of goodness. 

Taking my puzzlement one step further, vampires are not real. Sure, there are probably a few people out there snarling in protest as they flout their filed-down incisors, yet, as a whole, we know vampires are a figment of some rich imaginations. On the other hand, abundant proof exists for many of the areas I'll call true paranormal. Prophecies that came true, for example, or remote viewing--even the government is on board with that one. With less-substantiated areas such as the presence of ghosts or messages from those who have passed, there are plenty of people who will admit to having seen a ghost or gotten a message that couldn't have come from anyone other than their beloved. So here's where I'm coming from with this: paranormal by definition means "beside" or "side by side" that which is normal. That would mean that the vampires had to be, although possibly unseen, standing beside that which is normal. T'aint so. True paranormal entities are doing just that, each and every day.

Now I don't take issue with writers for the poor definition of the category. I'd imagine some publisher came up with that as a genre title. I'd just suggest that writers let old vampires lie. Come up with ripe scariness, something that makes your readers want to question their perceptions and hide under the covers. No more of that over-baked good-vampire nonsense either. Bring in some real-life after-dead who hurry to help your hero or heroine conquer the darkness and shine with joy when they succeed. Time to step outside of your casket-brooding love affair and freshen up those storylines.

Don't even get me started on zombies. 

-Linda Stirling

Mwahaha.  Okay, so my gimpy self couldn't resist.  As one unnaturally obsessed with vampires (I think I had a two year streak where that's all I would read and got upset when I ran out of reading material...), I thought I'd play the devil's advocate, the counter-point to her point.  

First, I couldn't agree more with her point on the definition of "paranormal". I've struggled for years trying to figure out what my work (I'm writing a novel with vampires and werewolves) fits in.  The way I see it, it could fall into fantasy, scifi, or paranormal, though I generally choose paranormal since that is the convention. And I whole-heartedly agree with Linda's point on spreading your wings, breaking convention, and coming up with something new for once.  If my dreams are any example, I am perfectly capable of coming up with some of the strangest things I've ever heard of...

But there is a certain value to using categories like these.  People search for things they are interested in, so having a novel about a well established category like vampires can automatically help you when it comes to Amazon searches and finding new readers.  And it's all about the readers.  There will be readers who check you out simply because it's a new vampire novel.  Plus, as I've read so many times, there are no new stories, only new twists on them.  There are no new ideas out there.  And if there were, I imagine they'd be pretty off the wall.

People read what they can relate to and, however symbolically, people can relate to vampires.  Vampires represent our fear of death, of sexuality, our yearning for the immortal.  Things we all can relate to.

And vampire myths have been around for a long time, long before the book categorizations we now use for them.  In far more superstitious times, creatures reminescent of vampires plagued the common people, likely the result of outcasts or various diseases (porphyria, the "vampire" disease, not being one of them as sensitivity to light in the myths only arose in the last hundred years due to popular fiction).  By Linda's definition, vampires once were paranormal, once were along side the norm.

And, yeah, I really don't get the zombie fixation, though I loved Joss Whedon's zombie video: Whedon On Romney - YouTube...

-Danielle Forrest

P.S. Someone who is half-vampire (aka Dhampir) is generally someone half-human and half-vampire (though I read a story with a chick that was half-werewolf and half-vampire and wasn't that a trip) and generally does not have the same restrictions or needs as vampires.  They only appear in certain lines of fiction that allow them because, really, how else are you supposed to get a Dhampir except with a daddy-vamp and a mommy-human?

About the Author:

Linda Stirling is the author of eight books, though only Confessions of a Reluctant Psychic is about her journeys in the psychic realm. In years past, she was the Executive Editor of one publishing house and co-owned another. As such, she says she saw every type of writing and every level of skill. 

"I like to toss out a challenge. We can't always write something no one has written about before, but what we can do is put some genuine energy into crafting the unexpected, use descriptions that hum, and choose to fall outside the pattern of what's hot right now and carve our own super-book. I really have no bias against vampires, I simply want the books I read in any genre to rise beyond the well-chewed pablum of sameness. I strongly believe in order to be a better writer, one has to read outside one's genre and go beyond one's comfort zone.

"In Confessions of a Sunday School Psychic I put my personal life up for inspection. I think if you don't risk anything, you're not being true to yourself or the reader, whether that's in writing non-fiction or in fiction. The ultimate goal is to have everyone enjoy the book because of how it's crafted, whether they like the genre or not. Can we as writers do that every time? No. But I'd suggest we want to hold that thought as we go about creating new worlds on paper.

"I see a lot of writers trying to cash in on eBooks and quickly churning out books that aren't anything they can take pride in writing. Books live on. Yes, even the bad ones. Make them representative of how you want to present yourself in the world, either as someone who's shoddy or someone who's thoughtful. Writers have incredible power. They can whisk someone away from reality, challenge their thinking, and so much more. If I could embed one thought in each writer's brain, it would be 'you're a creator, and there's magic in that, so use that power to the best of your ability.' "

Linda Stirling lives in Camas, WA. She began writing professionally in the 1970s, and has penned everything from radio commercials to books. She teaches marketing to writers and also works as a book editor. This fall, she  launches her new publishing house, Circle of Light Books.

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