Saturday, March 31, 2012

Winner of I Am Ocilla

Well hey, all! Sorry about the absence of a post yesterday...preggo-brain took over and I completely forgot. *ahem* Anyway, I drew names out of a hat today, and the winner of Diane M. Graham's novel I Am Ocilla is...

ELIZABETH DRESDOW!

Congrats to Elizabeth! I will get your email to Diane, so be on the lookout for your new e-book! :)
Thanks to everyone else who entered in the contest and made the second Magical Ink book giveaway a success. :D

Monday, March 26, 2012

Heart of Ice by Lis Wiehl and April Henry


STORYLINE:

Elizabeth Avery could easily be the girl next door. But what she has planned will make your blood run cold.

At first glance, the crimes appear random. Arson. Theft. Fraud. Murder. But these are more than random crimes. They're moves in an increasingly deadly game. And the one element they have in common: a woman who is gorgeous, clever . . . and lethal.

Elizabeth Avery has a winsome smile and flawless figure, but underneath is a heart of ice. She's a master manipulator, convincing strangers to do the unthinkable. And she orchestrates it all without getting too close. Until now.

When Elizabeth ruthlessly disposes of an inquisitive young reporter, her crime catches the attention of Federal Prosecutor Allison Pierce, FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedges, and crime reporter Cassidy Shaw. They know they're dealing with a cold-blooded murderer who could strike at any time. What they don't know is that they're already on a first-name basis with the killer.

And one of them may be next on her list.

MY THOUGHTS:

I got this book without realizing it was the third in a series. And it certainly felt that way. Generally, there's nothing wrong with that, but the first part of the book is about the characters' personal problems. I'm OK with that in small doses and if I already know the characters--neither of which was the case here.

The villainess was scary. The plot was pretty good and moved at a quick pace, pulling me along toward the finish. But I just wasn't a interested as I could have been.

I'd give this book two stars.

********

I received this book for free in exchange for a review from Booksneeze

Friday, March 23, 2012

What I'm Up To

There's nothing like waking up and having to urgently make a bathroom trip. The nice thing is, it makes me get up at a good time and stay up (because once I'm out of my nice warm blankets, I know it only takes a few seconds for them to get cold again.)

Other than that, my pregnancy is going fine. A month ago I had my first ultrasound and Justin & I got to hear our little baby's heartbeat! So amazing! I started out without morning sickness, but about halfway through February I started getting sick more often. I'm lots better now, and I even have enough energy to get up and finish some writing and work around the house. I'm also starting to get a bit of a baby bump, though to be honest it just looks like I ate waaaaay too much. ;) And yes, at some point when the bump is more pronounced, I will post a picture.

In writing news...not much. February was a bust for me, I got almost nothing done except blogging at NAF. So far in March, I've been scrambling to play catch up. I'll have a short story, "Space Wings", coming out this month in Digital Dragon Magazine, and another short story, "Gears, Grease, and A Little Bit of Magic" (steampunk!) coming out in Residential Aliens in April. And that was my first real sale as an author...I got paid! Whohoo! :)

I had another short story requested by my friend Pauline, who is putting together an anthology, so I sent her one that I just finished, "The Fiddler". I have some more edits to do on "Malfunction". And, of course, I need to get back into editing Dreamwalkers, writing Forged Steel, and rewriting Half Blood.

And it's finally getting warmer! Though Justin says it's supposed the temperatures are supposed to drop down again and there's a possibility we will get more snow. Boo. :(

What have you been up to?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Back On Murder by J. Mark Bertrand


STORYLINE:

Det. Roland March is a homicide cop on his way out. But when he's the only one at a crime scene to find evidence of a missing female victim, he's given one last chance to prove himself. Before he can crack the case, he's transferred to a new one that has grabbed the spotlight--the disappearance of a famous Houston evangelist's teen daughter.

With the help of a youth pastor with a guilty conscience who navigates the world of church and faith, March is determined to find the missing girls while proving he's still one of Houston's best detectives.

MY THOUGHTS:

Bertrand has the art of telling a detective story down to a fine art. The first-person present tense, while taking a little to get used to, made me feel like I was following March around on his case.

His characters are finely drawn, each with idiosyncrasies and details that make them feel like real people. Actions are described so precisely that it's easy to picture exactly what's happening. For example:

His top lip clamps down over the bottom, forcing the tuft of hair on his chin to pop out like porcupine quills.

The case is a mind-bender with crazy twists and turns. And, oddly enough for a detective story, there are philosophical bits in there as March ponders his life, his relationships, his work, God...pretty much everything. It fits. It's one of the things I love about the book--March's wonderings often prompt me to think about the same thing, delving deeper into myself and my faith. These are deep question, so much deeper than I normally find in Christian novels.

A few things you might want to think about: for what this book could be, it's surprisingly clean. Still, the nature of March's job is dark. There's descriptions of dead bodies. They discover one of the victims was raped. There are suggestions of sensuality, though everything is tastefully left off-screen. March goes a bar though he doesn't drink. There are mentions of drugs.

This is a prime example of a book that is gritty and true-to-life without dragging in objectionable material.

If you're looking for a great detective story, really, put down the remote. You can't find this on Law & Order or CSI. Back On Murder is where it's at.

Rating: five out of five stars

Friday, March 16, 2012

Character Hijack: Diane M. Graham



I’d like to thank Heather for giving me a venue to conduct today’s interview. My place has grown a little loud with all the kids, dogs, cats, books and Krakens. That said, let’s get to it. Today I’ve decided to ask some characters of I Am Ocilla a few questions. Kind of an “on the couch” session. A word of warning, this could get ugly. I was rather cruel in my treatment of some.

We start off with a character based on my youngest son. Please extend a warm welcome to Tanner the red wolf…formerly known as Tan-Fur.

Welcome, Tanner. Please, make yourself comfortable. I’d like to jump right in, if that is okay? The waiting area is full and we ran out of cheesecake 15 minutes ago.

Tanner- That would be Nicolai. There wasn’t any cabbage in that cheesecake, was there?

Diane- Oh, no, I know it doesn’t sit well in his tummy. And to be honest, I cheated and used no-bake instant because real cheesecake is expensive to make. It wasn’t even the Jell-o brand. I went trailer park and made Great Value, but there is no need to tell on me.

Tanner- Your secret is safe with me. I am very good at keeping secrets. It’s hard when you see someone you love struggling to know the truth and you are honor-bound to stay silent.

Diane- I’m sorry about that, Tanner. I knew you would keep those secrets or else I wouldn’t have given them to you. If it makes you feel better, Ocilla knew your loyalty to the Son insisted you do nothing less.

Tanner- Thank you.

Diane- For what?

Tanner- Making me belong to the Son.

Diane- You are special, Tanner. Of course you belong to the Son. We all do if we choose to. Some of us just don’t see it yet. Can you tell me the one thing you disliked over all the things you went through in I Am Ocilla?

Tanner- Flying. It was mean of you to make me. Red wolves should never, ever fly. It just isn’t right.

Diane- I’m afraid of heights also, Tanner, but sometimes we must face our fears and defeat them to move forward. And I hate to break it to you, but your future holds more flying. But we won’t talk about that for months still.

Tanner- What do you mean my future holds more flying?

Diane- Now, Tanner, you know as well as I do that revealing someone’s future can alter their choices. What if your choices are important? What if me telling you the future will cause ripples and then a catastrophe? You wouldn’t want that, would you?

Tanner- No.

Diane- Aww, Tanner, you know the Son has you through it all. Cheer up, my friend. There is a hidden piece of cheesecake out back. Shh! I saved it just for you. As you are going, can you send Nicolai in?

Tanner- Thank you. I’ll send him right in. Glad he’s next or he would follow me to the cheesecake.

Nicolai the panda is a larger-than-life character based on my second son. He sure is a lot of fun to write.

Diane- Welcome, Nicolai. Make yourself comfortable. Can I get you some bamboo to snack on? We just laid bamboo flooring at my house and brought you the scraps we had left.

Nicolai- Well…I am a little stuffed. Maybe just one piece.

Diane- There you go. Have as much or as little as you like. So, tell me, Nicolai, have you ever been kissed?

Nicolai- What? Why would you ask that?

Diane- Well, I was just curious if you had a special panda you fancy? I know the answer but many of our friends don’t.

Nicolai- < Nicolai becomes translucent> Maybe, but that really isn’t important. Ocilla is important.

Diane-Yes, she is, but you and I both know you are just as important. Maybe not the same way she is, but the things of your life have purpose.

Nicolai- Well…there may be a panda I think about from time to time, but that doesn’t mean anything.

Diane- Sure it doesn’t. We will move on and save un-named female for another day. What would you say was the one think in I Am Ocilla that you disliked?

Nicolai- Ogre pellets. Those aren’t what they sound like, though. They are made of cabbage. It’s the only thing the Ogres could grow a lot of. Now…the affects were as bad as they sound. I don’t have to say why, do I?

Diane- Oh, no. People are welcome to read to find out. Sorry about that, but some things are just needed.

Nicolai- Oh, you needed that to make our story work?

Diane- Laughter is just as important as tears or a strong plot. Otherwise, people may not want to read more.

Nicolai- That’s true. You won’t be embarrassing me like that again, will you?

Diane- I’ll try, but you are a lot of fun and no one can see your skin blushing. I can’t even see you now, Nicolai.

Nicolai- Do you mind if I go reappear somewhere else?

Diane- Okay, but can you send Alexander in?

Nicolai- Thanks for the bamboo. I’ll return your wheel barrel later.

Diane- Welcome, Alexander. Step forward three strides and there is an armchair to your right.

Alexander- Thank you. I really thought my sight would return when Ocilla defeated Abaddon, but I guess some things are too far gone to return.

Diane- Oh, Alexander, you know that is a fact, but there is a reason.

Alexander- There is? What reason could there be for me to remain blind? I’m not complaining…just curious.

Diane- Well, I hear there is a need for a history teacher in Delphi. They are having a hard time finding anyone able since the last five hundred years have been dedicated to survival alone. There wasn’t a lot of time to record or preserve and a lot of history was lost.

Alexander- Oh, I had no idea.

Diane- I hear Quinn is sending a flock of Krakens up the river soon. Maybe you can ask to join them?

Alexander- But what about being the potions master at the palace?

Diane- Amber is doing well enough. I think that position may be relocating also. Now, can you tell me the one thing in I am Ocilla you disliked the most?

Alexander- I really didn’t like seeing my princess battered and beaten so much. Was that level of violence really necessary?

Diane- I think it was. I didn’t like it either, but you have to admit, the Son made a path for her.

Alexander- He always does. I take it you are not quite done with us, then?

Diane- The future is funny, Alexander. Never know what it might hold.

Thank you for sharing your blog with me and a few of my friends, Heather.

******************

Thanks for taking the time to share some of your characters with us, Diane!

And guys, Diane is offering an e-book version of I Am Ocilla in a giveaway!! So here's the scoop:
The giveaway is going to last two weeks, from today to Friday the 30th. To enter, leave a comment with your email. Please spread the word by posting on your Facebook, Twitter, blog, what have you. In two weeks I'll announce the winner on this blog and get Diane their email so she can send you the e-book.
Remember, you don't have to have an e-reader. You can download e-books on your computers too!

Monday, March 12, 2012

I Am Ocilla by Diane M. Graham


STORYLINE: Open your heart and mind to the simplicity and complexity of a name.

I know only my name. Beyond that is confusion, a void where fantasy and reality swirl together. Fairies, Giants, Elves, Dwarves, ancient Keepers, and...Dragons? A dark soul threatens the Five Kingdoms, but I am powerless to stand against him, overwhelmed by phantom memories, broken and lost.

Somehow, I must live. I must find my purpose. There are friends to love and battles to fight.

I know my name. Perhaps that is enough.

I am Ocilla.

This is my story.

MY THOUGHTS:

I find that I'm getting harder and harder to please in my reading habits. I pick up a book, only to toss it aside a few minutes later, not really engrossed in the story.

I Am Ocilla never gave me the chance to put it aside. I picked it up and the prologue, though written in omniscient point of view, grabbed my attention immediately. Once the book enters into Ocilla's first person point of view, I knew I wouldn't be able to put it down. This was a book that demanded, at least for the first reading, to be read in one sitting.

I loved the dreamy, lyrical prose. The characters were so much fun, especially the animal Keepers. (I should have kept track of how many times I wanted to reach through the pages and hug one of them!) The villain is seriously creepy. To say why would give too much away, but trust me. The guy creeps me out.

Probably what made me love this book the most was how much it made me think. I doubt any other fantasy made me ponder my faith as much as I Am Ocilla. As the story progresses, it becomes evident it's about Ocilla's spiritual journey to discover who she is in Christ, and it prompted me to wonder the same thing. It made for a beautifully deep reading experience.

The cons I have are few. Even though I loved the way the book was written, it felt in just a very, very small number of places, a little distant. Mostly when it switched out of Ocilla's pov. My other con is that there are mentions of characters without clothes (not sensually) and two cuss words.

But I still love this book. Guys will find it interesting, I'm sure, but I'd say this definitely one to give to teenage girls at about 15-16.

Rating: Five out of five stars

Next week, one of Diane's characters is hijacking my blog. We'll see what they have in store for us! :)

Places I Am Ocilla is available:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Splashdown Books

Smashwords

Friday, March 9, 2012

Another Tag Post

The Rules Are:
1. You must post the rules.
2. Post eleven fun facts about yourself on the blog post.
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you've tagged.
4. Tag eleven bloggers, however, you can break the rules and tag fewer people if you want. Make sure you hyperlink their names/blogs.
5. Let them know you've tagged them!
6. Have fun!

My eleven fun facts:

1. My ribcage is huge for a person my size. I blame it on swimming, playing flute, and singing in choir.

2. I love Peanuts comics. Snoopy just rocks.

3. While we're on comics, I also love B.C, The Wizard of Id, and Garfield.

4. People say I look my like my dad rather than my mom, brother, or sister. In fact, when I introduce Hannah as my sister, some people don't believe me at first.

5. I'm really not that interesting of a person, so I'm having a hard time thinking of these things.

6. I went through a stage when I refused to wear a dress or skirt of any kind. Now, especially in the summer, dresses and skirts make up the majority of my wardrobe. Yes, I have a very summer oriented wardrobe.

7. Owing to the above fact, I really should live somewhere like Florida instead of the U.P.

8. My dad used to teasingly call me a hippie.

9. I prefer group projects to writing alone.

10. Because of the above fact, sometimes I wish writers could all have workdays where they went to an office and worked in little cubicles next to each other. Although I don't think we would get much done, since there would be constant prank-pulling, smart-mouthing, and goofing off. Sounds like the perfect work environment to me! J

11. I like the snow, but I wish the winters here were shorter.

The eleven question I had to answer:

1) If you were a jar, what would you be filled with? Random things…buttons, scraps of paper and fabric, yarn bits, plastic Lego piece…whatever they were, each thing would tell a story.

2) What is your favorite version of your favorite fairy tale? (My definition of fairy tale is not only Grimm.) My favorite fairy tale is Beauty and the Beast. I really like both the Disney version and Beauty by Robin McKinley, but both leave something to be desired. So I guess just the original version.

3) What song are you most likely to burst into when you're alone? When I Die Young by the Band Perry, because I love it and it challenges my vocal range. Or whatever Anberlin, Skillet, Red, or Fireflight song is stuck in my head, because even though I can't imitate those singers well at all, it's fun to try.

4) How do you react when people photograph you? I ignore it. I used to hate it, but my husband thinks its funny to constantly take pictures o me, so I've learned to ignore it.

5) If you could change either your name or an aspect of your appearance, what would you do? (Include the changed name/aspect.) I'm pretty satisfied with how I am now—the only thing I'd change is make my face a little thinner, perhaps, so it doesn't look like I have chipmunk cheeks when I smile.

6) What do you think is the best death scene in a children's movie? Aslan's death scene in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Makes me cry every single time. Other than that…do they have death scenes in kids' movies?

7) A hawt vampire is stalking you! How do you react? Quick! Where's my garlic and wooden stakes?!?

8) Dr. Seuss or Jim Henson? Dr. Seuss. Sorry, the Muppets just drive me bonkers.

9) Finish this sentence: If I ran Disneyland... I'd close the park for a private party with just my family and friends.

10) What is your favorite book to read aloud? The Chronicles of Narnia. Because its fun doing all the accents. J

11) Who is your favorite villain? Professor Moriarty in BBC's new Sherlock. The guy gives me the creeps!

The eleven questions the people I tagged have to answer:

1) Can you count how many pens you have?

2) When you sit down to the computer in the morning (or whenever you finally make it) how are you usually dressed?

3) Why do sticky notes never stick to where you want them to stick?

4) What's your preferred drink while reading/writing?

5) What is your normal, everyday outfit?

6) Glasses, contacts, or neither?

7) Introvert or extrovert?

8) Who is your favorite secondary character?

9) Book shopping or clothes shopping?

10) Physical store or online?

11) Look around the computer area…what do you see?

The People I tagged:

Diane M Graham

Kat Heckenbach

Andrea Graham

Heather Tull

Clare

Gregory J Downs

Laura Elizabeth

Michelle Audrey Black

OK, that's all I can think of for now. Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, March 2, 2012

I Guess I'm a Versatile Blogger


I've gotten tagged twice in one week. Twice! :) Which is a good thing, actually, since I had no idea what I was going to post for the next couple of Fridays.

Here's the scoop:

1. In a post on your blog, nominate 15 fellow bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
2. In the same post, add the Versatile Blogger Award.
3. In the same post, thank the blogger who nominated you in a post with a link back to their blog.

4. In the same post, share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself.
5. In the same post, include this set of rules.
6. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.

Well, Kat Heckenbach tagged me on this post. So, thanks, Kat! :)

The Utterly Random Pieces of Useless Information:

1. My mom apologizes to Justin on a regular basis for my wardrobe. Not that it's bad...but everyone in my family thinks that it's just...different. And colorful. I prefer eclectic. ;)

2. Before I met Justin, I didn't try new things. My idea of an adrenaline rush was riding a rollercoaster that only looped twice.

3. I honestly enjoy the snow...until February. Then it's time for spring. And sun.

4. I love jetskiing. It is one of the best things you can do in the water, right next to tubing and kayaking (which really doesn't fit with the other two.)

5. I played the flute for 6 years and piano for 8.

6. The walls of my office are covered in story notes for Half Blood, Forged Steel, and A Bargain with an Elf. Not to mention the many fantasy pictures. :)

7. I'm really glad these are done, because I was running out of things to say!

OK, now for the nominations. I don't think I can quite make it to 15, but we'll see.

Lostariel, because she tagged me in another post.

Mary, just because.

LoriAnn, just because again.

Clare, because she hasn't posted in forever! :)

LinkDiane, because I like to bug her. (And because Kat tagged her, but she hasn't posted yet.) ;)

OK, I'm done. :) Happy posting everyone!

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