Wednesday, 25 May 2016

New Releases by Brenda Novak and Linda Grimes and a Cover Reveal from Carol Riggs

New books!

Okay, I know my ROW80 goal of late has been to read all the books we own already. And I was doing really well. But how can anyone keep up when so many intriguing new books by already-loved authors are always coming out?

I put in a book order yesterday for the first time in many weeks -- there's a new Joanna Bourne, a new Neil Gaiman, a new Claire Legrand, and a new Simon Tolkien coming out! Not to mention I'll soon have to order the new JK Rowling, the new Louise Penny, and even a new Beatrix Potter! 100 years on -- isn't that amazing?

That's not the only reason I've been getting books -- I might be travelling to Kenya soon for work! I thought I should read a few Kenyan authors before I did so.

And there are two new releases and a cover reveal this week!

Discovering You by Brenda Novak
"There was a bloody man walking down the middle of the road."
What a great first line!

"Can she ever trust another 'bad boy'? India Sommers once had the perfect family -- until an ex-boyfriend broke in and shot her husband. Not only did that cost her the man she loved, a respected heart surgeon and the father of her child, she feels responsible. Charlie died because of the people she hung out with before she had the strength to change her life.
Just after moving to Whiskey Creek with her little girl, Cassia, to start over, she's learned that her ex-boyfriend's trial ended in a hung jury. He's getting out of jail; he could try to find her again. And that's not all that scares her. She's extremely attracted to her next-door neighbor, but Rod Amos is the handsome 'bad boy' type that's given her so much trouble in the past. If she got involved with him, her in-laws would sue for custody of Cassia.
India has to keep her distance from Rod—but the more she gets to know him, the more difficult that becomes."

I got to read an ARC of Discovering You, and am so glad I did. Been waiting to talk about this story! It feels like I've read all the Whiskey Creek novels, but actually, I haven't somehow I missed reading Dylan and Cheyenne's story and I haven't gone back to them yet. All that to say, this was my first story about the Amos brothers, and I'm glad I got to discover them through Rod. He's just the sort of tough-childhood survivor-instinct character that's interesting to read about. India too had to live through and learn a lot from her past life, and now has to fight her in-laws for custody of the best part of that old life -- I love the way Novak's story mixes the interpersonal stakes with the greater problems that need to be resolved; Rod and India not only have to fight for their happiness, they have to learn to trust in each other on the way.

Not to include a spoiler, but there's a teaser for another Amos brother, Mack, and his story with Natasha. I hope for their sake they can stay together, but I'm already intrigued to find out all about the struggles they'll undoubtedly have to go through first.

Brenda Novak's hosting a newsletter launch party!

"If you have already preordered Discovering You, or you plan to purchase it this week, you can RSVP HERE for the party (no proof of purchase necessary; to make it easy, we'll just use the honor system). Entering your name and email address puts you on a special Discovering You launch party list, which means you'll get another newsletter a week from today filled with some of my favorite recipes, a FREE story for everyone and a list of all the randomly selected winners from the launch party list (including directions for claiming the prizes). ... I have over 100 prizes -- including Barnes and Noble gift cards, Amazon gift cards, Apple gift cards, Whiskey Creek loot, autographed books, jewelry, Laurel Birch bags and other great stuff"

Read the first chapter here!

All Fixed Up by Linda Grimes

Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire, has a lot of experience filling in for her clients -- as them. A rare genetic quirk gives her the ability to absorb human energy and project it back out in a flawless imitation. She's hard at work, posing as a well-known and celebrated astronaut, about to make a stunning announcement on behalf of the space program... when the photographer documenting the job sees right through her aura. Worse, it soon becomes apparent that he not only knows Ciel’s not who she's supposed to be, but means her harm.
When Ciel's elderly Aunt Helen—also an aura adaptor—is murdered in Central Park, and the same photographer shows up at the funeral, Ciel starts to feel even more exposed. Then more adaptors are killed in the same way, and she becomes terrified her friends and family are being systematically exterminated ... and it's starting to look like she's the ultimate target. She turns to Billy Doyle, her best-friend-turned-boyfriend, for help, but when an unexpected crisis causes him to take off without a word, she's left to rely on her not-so-former crush, CIA agent Mark Fielding.
Staying alive, keeping control of her romantic life, and unraveling the mystery of why adaptors are being pursued becomes a harder balancing act than ever in this new Ciel Halligan adventure from Linda Grimes.

Enter the release day contest here!

Cover reveal for Bottled by Carol Riggs!

At seventeen, Adeelah Naji is transformed into a genie and imprisoned in a bottle. For a thousand years, she fulfills the wishes of greedy masters -- building their palaces, lining their pockets with gold, and granting them every earthly pleasure. All that sustains her is the hope of finding Karim, the boy she fell in love with as a human. When at last she finds a note from her beloved, she confirms he has access to the elixir of life and that he still searches for her.
But someone else also hunts her. Faruq -- the man who plots to use her powers to murder and seize the life forces of others -- is just one step behind her. With the help of a kind master named Nathan, Adeelah continues to search for Karim while trying to evade Faruq. To complicate matters, she begins to experience growing fatigue and pain after conjuring, and finds herself struggling against an undeniable attraction to Nathan.
As Faruq closes in, Adeelah must decide just how much she'll risk to protect Nathan and be with Karim forever. How much power does she really have to change her future, and what is she willing to sacrifice for an eternity of love? If she makes the wrong choice, the deaths of many will be on her hands.

Bottled is a YA fantasy novel. It will release July 7, 2016, from Clean Reads.

Advanced Praise for Bottled: "Bottled has everything you could want in a story: humor, suspense, action, and romance. The twists kept me glued to the pages." -- Elizabeth Langston, author of I Wish and Whisper Falls

Carol Riggs is an author of YA fiction who lives in the beautiful green state of Oregon, USA. Her debut novel, The Body Institute, released September 2015 from Entangled Teen, exploring body image and identity. Her sci-fi YA, Safe Zone, will release from Entangled Teen in October 2016. She enjoys reading, drawing and painting, writing conferences, walking with her husband, and enjoying music and dance of all kinds. You will usually find her in her writing cave, surrounded by her dragon collection and the characters in her head.
Connect with Carol: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Blog
Add this book to your Goodreads reading list: BOTTLED

And that is why the To Be Read pile never lessens...

What's in your reading pile this week?

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

How Has Your Writing Changed Over the Years? Part II and Richard Thompson

How has your writing changed over the years?

I stumbled across this older blog post, and I'm going to repost part of it here:

Deniz, Age 5: A story about a cow, which went something like this: "Where was All? He did not know where All was. Aldo could not find All the cow. He searched and searched. He went up with a jet and All was with the moon."

Deniz, Age 10: The Kitchen Mystery

Deniz, Age 15: Trying too hard to be an adult, I started a story about two handcuffed convicts and a sheriff travelling through the California desert. Never mind the two long romances I had, featuring scenes like the one where the hero and heroine have a food fight... at the supermarket...

Deniz, Age 20: Depressing stories about girls going out at night and failed relationships. I had a lovely one-page story called Eyes of the Sky but can't for the life of me find an electronic copy at the moment. This was the tail end of the thesaurus era, where I'd write a line like "the red sun sank into the dark blue sea" and then translate it into: "The crimson orb was lowered beneath the indigo billows" (blogged about here).

Deniz, Age 25: A lot of 'tell' and barely enough 'show' in my half-finished novel An Arnavutkoy Spring. Not to mention that I did no research whatsoever; for a story set in Istanbul in the 1910s I had hairdos from the 60s, clothing from the 50s and language from the 80s. I even threw in a reference to The Beatles! Come to think of it, perhaps I meant it to be set in the 60s after all. Only what does this line mean: "He eyed her easily, but without malice"?

Deniz, Age 30: A snip from Out of the Water, featuring Rosa, a Spanish girl and her lover, an Ottoman man, who's ill with consumption. On one of his better days, they've taken a walk above the neighbourhood of Galata, in Constantinople, 1493.

Deniz, Age 35+: Various samples under the Shared Writing Snips tab.

I hope I've improved, anyway. As part of ROW80 this round I'm trying something I've rarely done before, writing from a villain's point of view.

More music, after last week's three songs:

Amanda Palmer has a new song out, a cover of Richard Thompson's 1952 Vincent Black Lightning:

This reminded me of another Richard Thompson cover I like, REM's version of Wall of Death:

Are there topics that you used to write about but have since let be? 
Points of view that you're trying for the first time?
How has your writing changed over the years?

And which cover songs do you really like? 

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Geneva Salon du Livre and Writing A Villain

Book fair!

Not a sale, but a fair and, although they had lots of booths with books for sale, I'm happy to report that I successfully resisted picking up anything new!

I was at the Geneva Salon du Livre mainly to watch an interview and attend a signing session with Swiss author Joel Dicker, whose books I highly recommend.

His first, Les derniers jours de nos pères (The Last Days of Our Fathers) is about secret service agents in World War II, and the last two are a kind of family saga, murder mystery, and coming of age story all in one, set along the Eastern seaboard of the United States: La vérité sur l'Affaire Harry Quebert (The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair) and Le livre des Baltimore (The Book of the Baltimores).

I took a couple of blurry photos
(as an aside, we just got our first DSLR camera, and I'm looking forward to some sharper and brighter images from now on!):

I didn't quite set it as my ROW80 goal but I'm still plugging away at maybe participating in this month's writer's exercise on the forum: writing a sympathetic villain. The limit is 750 words; I have three times as many! I can keep what I've written for the eventual novel, but need to do some editing to bring the scene into its best light for the exercise...

Three new Whisky Trench Riders songs for your listening pleasure this week:

Four different songs (different bands) coming next week!

Have you ever empathised with a villain? What made their motives understandable?

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Contest Winner! Olympic Cup for the United Nations, plus Alphabet Soup: AtoZ Reflections, IWSG Day, and ROW80

First post-A to Z post!

The rush of posting every day is over. I did my Saturday posts in advance, and one day managed to do five posts in advance, which gave me spare room to catch up on all the lovely comments I'd received, and actually visit a few new-to-me bloggers, too.

Now's the time to post our Reflections on the 2016 Challenge.

For those who haven't done it, I definitely recommend a theme. It helps keep you focused, and it's easy to stray from the theme if you need to; easier than trying to come up with ideas at random in the middle of all that hectic blogging. Something conducive to lots of photos is definitely a plus. Even if you can't write them all in advance (and doing so does take away from the challenge and the thrill a bit), formatting them is helpful. I was able to do this this time around; I set up each post as a draft, and entered my daily drop cap, and added a few lines of what I meant to share that day, and as many of the links and photos as I could. Then, on the day of, it was easier to focus on the actual text, without all the time spent collating photos and references.

This sort of thing is helpful for insecure writers on Insecure Writer's Support Group Day, too!

That is, even for those of us who are pantsters, it helps to have a few kernels to play with. Especially during NaNoWriMo, for instance, when I try to end each writing session with a question or a comment for the next day (even something as simple as "why doesn't he just kiss her?" or "how is she going to keep this a secret from him?"). That way, when I come back to the story, even if I feel inspiration-less, there's a problem to be solved, and I can start working right away.

By contrast, what I'm doing now is about the worst thing that can be done -- not writing at all. Inspiration or muses or not, what the writing muscle needs is constant use. The fact that I'm thinking of new stories is not enough. I ought to write! Even if it's 10 minutes a day (and 10 minutes are so easy to find), even if it's only 100 words (100 words is nothing!) each morning. My trouble is that because I should be editing already-written stories, I feel badly for starting a new story. But that's silly. Better to write than do nothing at all!

I did get a sponsor post written for ROW80, though! And I'm going to try (but I'm not committing to it for fear of failure) to write something for the May writer's exercise on the Forum, set this month by author Barbara Rogan:

"Here's a challenge to stretch your writing muscles. Create a character who does something very wrong. You don't have to show the awful deed unless you want; it's enough to allude to it. Use POV and any other techniques you can muster to induce readers to sympathize with (even if they don't approve of) the evil-doer. This is a bit complicated, so I'm going to allow 750 words for this exercise—but extra credit to anyone who can carry it off in less. On your marks, get set...go!"

But back to the A to Z. Having been both a mere participant and a minion for those tireless organizers, I'm struggling to come up with suggestions to improve the challenge -- I think it works very well, and seems to run almost seamlessly!

I'm going to admit something here... I was in the middle of drafting one of the final posts, X or Y or Z, and suddenly, I thought of a great theme for next year! Only 365 days to go...

Don't forget to pick up some A to Z Challenge gear!

And now...drumroll...our contest winner!

In the past, to draw winners, I've used babies and cats. This time I went with the simple and efficient Random Number Generator.

And the winner of the 30$ gift card to the online book retailer of her choice is...Hilary!

Congratulations, Hilary, and thanks to everyone for playing along and commenting!

In other awards news, the United Nations was awarded the Olympic Cup last week:
The ceiling sculpture is by Spanish artist Miquel Barceló.
"The sculpture consists of many layers of coloured paints composed of pigments from across the globe, sprayed across the ceiling to create stalactites. The work is groundbreaking both artistically and technically and represents the themes of multiculturalism, mutual tolerance and understanding between cultures."
 The Olympic Flame in two lanterns. It looks so small!

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave an inspiring speech. This year, for the first time, refugee athletes will be participating, under the Olympic Flag. The Secretary-General said, "win or lose, they are champions of the spirit. ... They want a flag that waves for their rights. ... They want hope, not tents. ... Sports give children the basic human right of being children, who at least for a few moments can laugh and play."

He added, "Let us all be on the team of the refugees until there is no need for such a team at all."

Congratulations to those of you who made it through the A to Z.
Whether you participated or not, what suggestions do you have for the challenge?

Books I'm Reading and Finished Books

  • The Making of Outlander by Tara Bennett
  • Testament of Experience by Vera Brittain
  • Zoom sur Plainpalais by Corinne Jaquet
  • beta read! (JB)
  • ***Reading At Intervals***
  • Sophie's Choice by William Styron
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw
  • Burning Sky by Lori Benton
  • 12 Anne and Avonlea books by L. M. Montgomery (skimming/reread (this was free on Kindle!))
  • Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford
  • Istanbul Noir (Akashic Books anthology)
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien manuscripts edited by J. D. Rateliff
  • The Jerusalem Bible
  • ***Finished Books***
  • The Children of Men by P. D. James
  • A Daughter's A Daughter by Mary Westmacott (Agatha Christie)
  • A Girl From Yamhill by Beverly Cleary
  • Sunlight by Margaret Rucker (poem; floating in a cocktail glass)
  • Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
  • Preface to The Hobbit, by Christopher Tolkien
  • Ilk Defa... by Beste Barki (essays)
  • Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers (essay)
  • The Moon and I by Betsy Byars
  • The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson
  • Rogue Warrior by Regan Walker
  • Beauty and the Beast by Villeneuve
  • Black (what was this? I don't remember!)
  • Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani
  • Thomas the Tank Engine by Rev. Awry (26 book collection)
  • beta read (Born to Run by RB)
  • The Little Turtle by Vachel Lindsay (poem; reread)
  • The Kraken by Alfred Lord Tennyson (poem)
  • Android's Dream by John Scalzi
  • The Mysterious Tadpole by Stephen Kellogg (reread)
  • Yashim Cooks Istanbul by Jason Goodwin
  • Miniatures by John Scalzi
  • Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain
  • Kitty-in-Boots by Beatrix Potter (illustrated by Quentin Blake)
  • All or Nothing by Rose Lerner (short story)
  • Merry Christmas, Emily (board book)
  • Extra Yarn by __ and Jan Klassen
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Outlandish Companion II by Diana Gabaldon
  • The Outlandish Companion I, Revised by Diana Gabaldon
  • MacHinery and the Cauliflowers by Alistair MacLean (short story)
  • The Dileas by Alistair MacLean (short story)
  • The Gold Watch by Alistair MacLean (short story)
  • betty, butter, sun by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay by J.K. Rowling
  • The Very Cranky Bear (Scholastic)
  • various haiku by R. Wodaski
  • ongoing rereads of most board books listed last year!
  • see the 2016 list and statistics at
  • see the 2015 list and statistics at
  • see the 2014 list and statistics at
  • see the 2013 list and statistics at
  • see the 2012 list and statistics here
  • see the 2011 statistics on
  • see the 2011 list at
  • see the 2010 list at
  • see the 2009 list at
  • also in 2009 at
  • see the 2008 list at
  • also in 2008 at
  • also in 2008 at