October 29, 2009

Chatting with Stacey Voss

Today I am happy to welcome Stacey Voss, author of the new book Thunder and Blood to Psychotic State .  She has kindly agreed to answer some questions for us.

Stacey, thank you for taking the time to chat with me and my readers. Let’s talk about your new book, Thunder and Blood. I found the idea of an alternate reality happening at the same time as our reality fascinating. Where did you get the idea?

Good question! I suppose I’m a bit of a science fiction fan, so this falls into that realm. I used to really like that old TV show, Quantum Leap, so I guess I kind of drew off of that idea.

I know you are a huge supporter of National Novel Writing Month. For someone unfamiliar with the program, what can you tell us about it?

Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it started out in 1999 as an American phenomenon and has now grown to ensnare writers from around the world. The premise is to write 50,000 words in 30 days without stopping to edit. Basically, with the quantity of words you need to write, it forces you to just keep going. With over 100,000 participants last year there is a tremendous support network out there. There are “write-ins” in almost every city where groups of Nanos get together and drink coffee (or their beverage of choice) and push out their daily word count.

Did you write Thunder and Blood during NaNoWriMo?

I wrote Thunder and Blood during Naowrimo 2007. It was an amazing experience and my success in writing 50,000 words in 30 days (with a 14 day honeymoon in the middle) has inspired me to up my personal word count to 75,000 this year. As November 1st approaches, however, I’m starting to wonder if I’m a crazy.

Who was the easiest character to write about in Thunder and Blood and why?

Sarah was the easiest character for me to write about because she is very much who I was when I was around 24. Some of her history and experiences are different, but I felt a lot of the same self-doubts that she does and I hope that her future experiences bring her to become more like present-time me.

Thunder and Blood’s sequel Thunder and Ice is due out November 1st. Can you give us any hints as to what to expect for Sarah, Christine and Hillard?

Thunder and Ice isn’t due out until May 2010. I’m going to start writing it on November 1st (the 75,0000 words). I don’t know everything that’s going to happen for Sarah, Christine and Hillard, but I do know that Sarah is going to have to deal with the Vampire Council and Christine is going to have a hard time adjusting to her new leadership role in the Donner community.

When you envisioned the idea for Thunder and Blood did you have sequels and/or prequels in mind? Or did the prequel(s) idea come about after you created the fictional aspect of DaVinci?

When I first thought of Thunder and Blood, I didn’t really have any other books in mind. When I was really getting into the writing of it, however, I had to do a lot of historical research in order to flush out the history of the vampires. When DaVinci showed up I knew that a prequel covering his conversion into a vampire would be necessary, and a second prequel covering the evolution of the very first vampire would be necessary as well.

Have you always been writing?

I’ve been writing short stories and poetry since before I can remember. The first tangible evidence I have of my writing is in a little book that I wrote when I was five, called My All-Time Book. It consists of two nursery-rhyme type poems and a short story about a kitten called Blackie who got lost in the woods. My dad had a photocopier for his business, so he made some copies of it.

Are there any favorite authors that you enjoy reading or that inspire you?

I like reading a variety of genres. My favourite authors are Anne Rice, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell, Orsen Scott Card, Robert Jordan, R.A. Salvatore, and many more. I never remember them all. I have quite the book collection.

Can you take us through a day in the life of Stacey Voss?

Well, that’s pretty boring! I get up with my husband and daughter and send them off to work and school respectively, then I may possibly take a short nap. :D I spend a lot of time on twitter and on the Internet doing book marketing things. Sometimes I even find the time to write. I make dinner for the family and try to spend time with them in the evening.

I used to work, but had some health issues and have to stay home now. My life is pretty boring and the days seem to speed by. Before I stopped working I had no time at all for my book and I think that added a lot to my stress levels. I had achieved my dream of having my book published, but had no time to tell anyone about it or enjoy it.

If you could offer one piece of advice to an unpublished writer, what would it be?

Get your story out and then edit, edit, edit and edit. No one wants to read something full of sentence fragments and bad grammar. Give it out to a few trusted friends and family and have them edit it. After that, send it to a professional for more editing. Your story is more than just a story. The story hides behind the words and if the words are a mess, the story gets lost in it.

If you could use only one word to describe or sell Thunder and Blood to a reader, what would it be? Why?

To describe – different – because I think it really is different from a lot of the vampire/fantasy fiction that’s out there today.

To sell – vampires – because let’s face it, vampires are hot right now.

Lastly, if Thunder and Blood was made into a movie, who would you pick to play Hillard and why?

My husband was quite disappointed that I didn’t choose him as the answer to this question, but he’s not an actor. ;) If I could choose any actor in the world to play Hillard, it would be Jensen Ackles. If you want to know why, just google him. :D Now I want someone to make a movie so I can meet him.

Thank you, Stacey, for taking the time to chat with  us today!  I wish you the best of success with Thunder and Blood as well as writing its sequel Thunder and Ice next month!

Stacey Voss Bio:  Stacey Voss was born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. In late 2005, she and her daughter moved to Wuppertal, Germany to live with her fiancé, Heiko Voss, whom she married in July 2007. She wrote Thunder and Blood during the November 2007 National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) event, with a two week hiatus during which she honeymooned with her husband in the Canary Islands. The story takes place in her hometown of Thunder Bay, reflecting Stacey's yearning to feel close to her roots once again. Realizing that four trips back to Canada in three years was an indication of more than simple homesickness, Stacey, her husband, and daughter moved back to Thunder Bay at the beginning of 2009.

She is really enjoying being back in Thunder Bay, despite moving back in the middle of the cold winter months, and has been drinking copious amounts of Tim Horton's coffee while she has been preparing her book for print. Her hobbies include reading, writing, camping and fishing and she considers herself to be quite a computer geek.

Stacey has two Diplomas in International Business, certification in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology with a Minor Degree in English Literature. While in Germany, she taught Corporate English to a wide variety of students and discovered a real love for teaching. She is currently teaching Business and Computers part-time at Everest College in Thunder Bay.

Stacey has already begun the next novel in the Thunder and Blood series, entitled Thunder and Ice, and wants to assure her readers that many of the questions left unanswered in the first novel are answered in the second. After writing Thunder and Ice, Stacey plans to write two prequels in the series, one covering the transformation of DaVinci into a vampire and the other expanding on the origin of the first vampire.

Stacey will be checking in with Psychotic State throughout the day so please feel free to leave any comments and questions for Stacey to reply to. 

October 28, 2009

Review of "Thunder and Blood" by Stacey Voss

Synopsis: When Sarah Ingram and her sister Christine left Thunder Bay on a chilly November afternoon, they thought that they were going on a weekend getaway, leaving their problems behind. What they didn't realize was that they would end up in a world that was, in many ways, very different from their own, but at the same time eerily familiar. Separated almost at once, the two women found themselves struggling to come to terms with the reality of their situation. How did this world become so different from the one they knew? What secrets were their new 'friends' hiding from them? Was it possible that there could be more to the vampire stories from their own world than simple myth?

I was attracted to this book mainly for two reasons - - the vampire plot and the fabulous cover.   To find that the story was original, addictive and fun was an added bonus. 

First time author Stacey Voss has woven together a mesmerizing story with the gothic and moody atmosphere perfect for Halloween. While the beginning of the synopsis sounds like a generic horror film (couple leaves for a weekend getaway only to encounter an evil they didn’t know existed), Thunder and Blood is anything but.

I liked heroine Sarah immediately. She is like any of us - - mentally and emotionally tired, desperately needing a getaway after a life-changing event. She has recently split from her husband and although she loves Christine, she has always felt inadequate compared to her younger sister’s beauty and sparkling personality.

Christine was likable as well - - an occurrence that doesn’t always happen with a seemingly secondary character who has been stressed to have been blessed with good looks and confidence.

Both sisters seemed real and neither one put herself in the kind of inexplicable and foolish situation that in the past I have found some characters put in and which causes me to want to bang my head repeatedly into a wall.

I was happy that Sarah turned out to have a backbone and even happier the plot unwound in ways that were wholly unexpected.

And let me just say about the plot - - I loved it. Vampire stories are relatively a dime a dozen right now and Stacey Voss has managed to put a new spin on a much-used plot device. I loved the idea of an alternate reality - - or even a time travel portal, depending on what theory you choose to believe.  I loved the descriptions of the castle in Donner, I loved the characters of Hillard and Adelaide and I even loved the evilness of Lord Radick . . . well, to a degree!

Truthfully, the book did start a bit slow with the backstory of the trip and with flashbacks to Sarah’s situation. I didn’t feel as involved in Sarah’s flashbacks but it was possibly because I am impatient and I wanted to get back to the “good” stuff with Donner, vampires and Hillard.   The ending, however, made even the few slow parts well worth the wait.  I felt the ending, like the story as a whole, was unpredictable and it not only left me gasping but anxious to continue the sisters' story.

If you like vampire stories, if you’re a fan of the paranormal, then Thunder and Blood is for you. If you don’t care for either genre, you probably won’t be as excited as I am.

I recommend it for all you paranormal/vampire/gothic fans . . . but be prepared to be frustrated at having to wait for the next book!

To purchase Thunder and Blood, visitor author Stacey Voss' website here, or Amazon

Author Stacey Voss will be here tomorrow, sharing with us her story behind Thunder and Blood, her thoughts about November National Writing Month and what actor she thinks would make a great Hillard.  Stacey will be checking in with the blog throughout the day so feel free to pose any questions you'd like her to answer. 

October 27, 2009

Chatting with Jane Odiwe

I am delighted to welcome Jane Odiwe, author of the very soon to be published Willoughby's Return to Psychotic State. She has graciously agreed to answer some questions for my readers.

Jane, thank you for taking the time to chat with me and my readers.

Lori, thank you for giving me this opportunity to have a chat about my book and tell you and your readers all about it.

Let’s talk about your new book, Willoughby’s Return. Did the idea for it stem from a particular character in Sense and Sensibility?

I really wanted to explore the lives of several of the characters from Sense and Sensibility. At the end of Jane Austen’s book I had no worries that Elinor and Edward Ferrars would be happy. I was a little more concerned about her sister Marianne and Colonel Brandon, not because I couldn’t believe that they loved one another, but that there seemed there might be other obstacles and difficulties that might make their married life together more challenging. Marianne and the Colonel have both loved and lost in the past and although they have both moved on, their past lives and loves are inextricably linked in a way to the present that is unavoidable. This set me thinking about what might happen after Sense and Sensibility especially if Marianne’s old flame, Mr Willoughby, returned to the district to claim his inheritance, a large estate near her mother. What would happen if they met again? How would Marianne feel if he were to return to live with his wife in the house that she once thought was to be her own? Has Marianne been able to bury all thoughts of that doomed love affair and, how would she cope with her husband’s frequent visits looking after the needs of the daughter of his first attachment?

Marianne’s youngest sister Margaret is just at the age for falling in love and I wanted to weave her story into the mix as she finds out, like her sister before her, that the course of true love does not always run smoothly.

Do you find it more challenging to take a character or characters that an author as esteemed and beloved as Jane Austen has created and pick up their stories and/or give them new stories versus creating a character from scratch?

It is challenging, especially when the characters are so beloved and everyone has their own ideas and interpretation of them. I enjoy taking Jane Austen’s characters and carrying on their stories very much, but it is also fun to add in a few of my own. Creating new characters and stories is just as testing, but I try to imagine the sort of people that Jane would have had some fun with. I’ve read Jane Austen’s books so many times over the years that to me her characters are like old friends. As my family will tell you, they pop up daily in conversation, and favourite characters are always being quoted. I enjoy the fact that I can enter the world that Jane created and continue the books that I love so much.

How was writing Willoughby’s Return different from writing Lydia Bennet’s Story?

Lydia Bennet’s Story was my first novel, and it is a very light-hearted look at the naughty, youngest Bennet sister. I wanted to take a character that I thought would provide me with comic inspiration and see if I could make people like her better. It took me a long time to write it, but I learnt so much.

With Willoughby’s Return, the experience of having written one book gave me the confidence to try something more challenging. I wanted to write a more dramatic story which still explored the themes of Sense and Sensibility where both Marianne and Margaret struggle to find the balance between reason and passion, but without losing the humour that is such a vital part of Jane’s books. I am always learning something new about writing and this has been a very rewarding experience.

How much research goes into writing books like Willoughby’s Return and Lydia Bennet’s Story?

So much, too much! I really enjoy the research. Not only do I have to read Jane Austen’s books until I know them and her characters backwards, but the time period they are set in means that every detail must be accurate. Because I am writing in the period roughly between 1796-1803, that presents problems in itself. My readers may not know anything about this time and so I ‘paint’ in the details of dress and setting as much as I can. I love writing descriptions of the clothes and interiors – give me a ball, a skating party, the Gravel Walk in Bath or the treacherous Cobb of Lyme Regis and I’m in heaven!

I do visit the places I write about to get a feel of the time. I am so lucky that in England, towns like London, Bath and Brighton have so much architecture of the time still standing.

In Willoughby’s Return I had a lot of fun deciding where Marianne’s London Townhouse might be. I chose a house in Manchester Square after wandering round with a map from 1803, and whenever I go past, I imagine her inside with Colonel Brandon, perhaps getting ready to go out for an evening party. Unfortunately, not all places have remained. I loved finding the research for Gunter’s Teashop, but Berkeley Square has changed a lot. The type of café to be found in the existing plot is set behind modern plate glass – more than a little disappointing!

When you wrote and illustrated Effusions of Fancy did you think that would be the jumping off point for your writing career?

I had no idea of writing a full-length novel then – the paintings were the inspiration for the book, the letters were simple accompaniments. I’d always enjoyed writing and had started a children’s book, but I didn’t think that Jane Austen or writing would completely take over my life.

Let’s talk about your love of all things Austen. When did it start and how?

I think it was the old black ad white Pride and Prejudice film that I first saw on television that set me off. My Mum bought me the book – she always loved it – my first names are Jane and Elizabeth!

What’s your personal favorite of Austen’s works?

This is hard, but I would say Persuasion is my all time favourite.

Can you tell us what you’re working on now?

I’ve just finished Mr Darcy’s Secret, which Sourcebooks will be publishing next year. I wanted to write a Pride and Prejudice sequel with the main characters, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy. I haven’t felt until now that the time was right, but I have enjoyed writing this book so much with all its plot twists and turns. Georgiana’s story runs through this one also, as I was determined that she should find happiness after her experiences with that scoundrel, Mr Wickham. It was a delight to write about the other characters that Jane created so deftly – Jane, Charles and Caroline Bingley, Mr and Mrs Bennet, Mr and Mrs Collins, and Lady Catherine de Burgh help the story along and provide many comic opportunities.

I’ve started another book, but it’s too early to talk about just yet.

Can you take us through a day in the life of Jane Odiwe?

I get up early and make sure anyone who needs to leave the house has left at the right time, hopefully with some breakfast before they go. Then I’m off upstairs to my little room where I write all morning. This is usually my most productive time. I always stop for lunch – I love to make home-made soup, and enjoy a bowl with any members of the family who might be at home. I like to catch up in the afternoon with blogs and the internet before I get down to some writing again. Then it’s time to cook the supper and then spend the evening with my family. There’s always lots of coming and going in my house, which I love, so I’m never quite sure who will be there in the evening, but it’s precious time for a chat.

I might watch some television in the evening, or go out to catch some music somewhere, but I love to curl up at night with a good book in bed before I go to sleep!

If you could offer one piece of advice to an unpublished author, what would it be?

Just keep going, believe in yourself, keep trying to improve, and don’t give up!

If you could use only one word to describe or sell Willoughby’s Return to a reader, what would it be? Why?

Passion – Love and passion drive this story, sometimes in a destructive way, but always because the characters believe their passion is right and true.

Last, but certainly not least, who, in your opinion, is the best Mr. Darcy - - Laurence Olivier, David Rintoul, Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen or Elliot Cowan and why?

I think every actor brought something to the character, I enjoyed them all, but if I had to choose it would be Colin Firth because of the magical chemistry he shared with Jennifer Ehle in their roles as Elizabeth and Darcy.

Thank you, Jane, for a fun and informative interview!  We wish you the best of success with Willoughby's Return.

To purchase Willoughby's Return, available November 1, you may visit Jane Odiwe's website, Sourcebooks' website, AmazonBarnes & Noble or your local bookseller. 

Jane Odiwe's website:  http://www.austeneffusions.com/
Jane Odiwe's blog:  http://www.janeaustensequels.blogspot.com/

I have been fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of Willoughby's Return.  Please stay close as a review will be forthcoming!

The Winners of "The Lovely Bones" and "Run For Your Life"

The lucky winners of The Lovely Bones are:

twifanheather and AmyLynn!

and . . .

The lucky winners of Run For Your Life are:

Stacie and Mrs. Duff!

Congratulations to twifanheather, AmyLynn, Stacie and Mrs. Duff!  I will be emailing you for your mailing addresses. 

Thanks to everyone who visited my blog and entered the giveaways. Please stick around for future reviews and giveaways.

Thanks again to Valerie Russo and Hachette Book Group for making both of these giveaways possible.

October 25, 2009

Review of "Over the Holidays" by Sandra Harper


The best holiday traditions are meant to be broken.

It's only December 1, and Vanessa Clayton has been dreading Christmas since she spotted tinseled trees at her local mall in September. Thankfully, she and her husband, JT, can't afford to drag their twin boys across the country to New England for the annual celebration at her stuffy sister-in-law Patience's home. Not that Vanessa has prepared a proper Christmas for her family in years, and she has less time than ever since she agreed to consult on the script of a local play. Her older sister, Thea, is no help -- she'd rather make art and flirt with surfers than babysit her nine-year-old nephews. Then Patience drops a holiday stress bomb: Her family will come to California instead.

In between "baking" cinnamon rolls for the school potluck and overbearing Patience testing her patience, Vanessa can't stop thinking about the difficult but charming playwright at work. Meanwhile, Patience's teenage daughter, Libby, obsesses over a college boy she has met by the pool, and Thea searches desperately for the meaning of Christmas -- for her latest installation, of course. As their holiday plans go comically awry, these four women discover the true spirit of the season is hidden in every festive surprise.

I am a Christmas fanatic and the thought of merging chick lit with a Christmas setting was an appealing one. I found Over the Holidays to be a fun read, as light and fluffy as cotton candy with a peppermint twist. I could relate to the main character, Vanessa, insofar as her desire to give her family a traditional, old-fashioned Christmas but running into the reality of job stress, energetic children, a husband unable to help and the very best of intentions going awry.

If you read author Sandra Harper’s guest post last week, you will recognize that all three holiday archetypes Ms. Harper discussed are present in Over the Holidays - - the Norman Rockwell-esque traditionalist and perfectionist Patience, the Hannah of Good Intentions Vanessa and the Rebel Without a Claus Thea. Patience cannot imagine a Christmas without cold temperatures, snow, a beautifully decorated house that would make Martha Stewart weep and homemade cooking from scratch. Vanessa wishes she could be like Patience, while at the same time resenting Patience’s perfection at all things domestic. Thea believes Christmas has turned into more of a showcase of greed and time of depression than a true celebration and wishes to set an example. Add in Vanessa’s husband JT, who gets an out of town job during the holidays, Patience’s husband Richard, who doesn’t want to rock the boat but finds playing golf in January appealing, Vanessa and JT’s twin 9 year old sons who have more energy than they know what to do with, Patience and Richard’s seventeen year old daughter, Libby, who is desperate to escape from the confines of their Wenham, Massachusetts home and Neil, a moody playwright who resents Vanessa’s help with his play but comes to need her.

As much as I could generally relate to Vanessa, I also had some issues with her. At times, she was downright abrasive and rude to Patience. While I could understand the frustration of having a “perfect” sister-in-law, I began to sympathize with Patience and get irritated with Vanessa. There was also a time or two during the story that I wished Vanessa wouldn’t give in to her children as much and be a little more of a disciplinarian.

I also had to remind myself during the book that Thea was her older sister and not younger sister because I continued feeling that Thea was represented more as a younger sister.

However, these are relatively minor gripes when taking the book as a whole. I felt drawn into the story from the first page and the characters were well fleshed out. Whatever your thoughts on the holiday season - - love it, dread it, tolerate it or are indifferent to it - - you can find something to relate to here. Not each individual storyline resolved itself as I thought it might, which left me guessing to a degree and provided me with a pleasant surprise instead of a shrug and sigh.

If you enjoy chick lit, if you have strong feelings about the holidays or just want some light, entertaining reading, you simply can’t go wrong with Over the Holidays.

Over the Holidays is currently for sale at all major booksellers, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  Author Sandra Harper's website can be found here

October 24, 2009

"A Circle of Souls" Wins National Best Books of 2009 Award!

Many, many congratulations to Preetham Grandhi upon his debut novel A Circle of Souls, winning The National Best Book Award in general fiction. 

Information on the awards and winners can be found here.

If you haven't read A Circle of Souls yet, I highly recommend it.  My review of the book can be found here.

Dr. Grandhi's website can be found here, and a website for Circle of Souls is here

Congratulations, Dr. Grandhi on a success well earned and best wishes continued writing success!  

October 23, 2009

Guest Post: Author Sandra Harper

Today I am pleased to welcome Sandra Harper, author of Over the Holidays, to Psychotic State!

by Sandra Harper

I have spent a great deal of time immersed in the holidays. This is not to say I'm busy sending cards, crafting gifts or staging an amazing New Year's party...I've just THOUGHT about all these things.

Yet, there is something I've discovered in my completely unscientific research (consisting mainly of gabbing with friends and neighbors) about the holidays. I have identified three distinct female archetypes that immerge between December 1st and January 2nd and I'd like to submit these findings to the noted experts in HOLIDAY CULTURE AND BEHAVIOR 101.

First up is the Traditionalist. The Traditionalist has a spectacular holiday-themed home with seasonal plates and linens, a twenty-foot fir tree, handmade popcorn balls, and intriguing holiday collectibles - like chestnut-roasting pans, mechanical elves and nineteenth-century sleighs. How to further identify the Traditionalist? This year's Christopher Radko ornament arrived at her doorstep last August. Inside the Traditionalist's home is the scent of cinnamon and cloves and the faintest sound of what? A choir of angels? Or is that Andrea Bocelli? Although the Traditionalist tends to inspire equal parts envy and admiration, it must be said that this woman is fantastically organized. In fact, she could rule the world.

Secondly, we have Hannah of the Good Intentions.  Hannah firmly believes this will be the year she will kick butt in the celebration department. She will complete her shopping WAY before December 22nd, she'll bake and decorate her cookies with icing and sprinkles from one of those professional cookie kits, she'll tinsel up the house (and clean it too) and, most importantly, she will finally get what she really wants from the holidays: deep feelings of peace, joy and good will towards all.

Unfortunately, by December 22nd, Hannah wakes from a daze and wonders, "What happened to all those holiday plans?" Then she remembers a sick kid, a shortage of funds, the broken toilet, extra hours at work, a canned food drive, and oh, yes: her department's decision to cut bonuses this year.

By Christmas morning, the cinnamon rolls she intended to bake (with the dough that had to rise and fall and rest or something) have to be scrapped in favor of breakfast cereal. Then Hannah will dash to the nearby market where the clever grocer has stacked pies (and rolls) right next to the check-out stand in a shameful attempt to capitalize on Hannah's woeful predicament.

Finally, there's Rebel without a Claus. Rebel confidently informs you that she doesn't even bother with Christmas anymore - really, it's too commercial, why line the pockets of Big Retail? the whole shebang has lost its meaning, she dropped out long ago.

Rebel is probably the most daring, certainly the most courageous woman on the block. But you have to wonder: where does she stash the guilt and the pressure of NOT doing anything? And more to the point: could YOU get away with this?

So dear noted experts (i.e. Women of the World), I humbly submit these findings and I leave you with one last thought: which Holiday Archetype are you?

Sandra Harper is the author of the play, Magpie's Tea Room, which enjoyed a successful run in Los Angeles at The Ventura Court Theatre. She has written a cooking column, "The California Cook" for the newspaper, Skirt. A script reader for Pathe Studios and Springcreek Productions, she also wrote and produced fashion and rock videos for Elvis Costello, Chaka Khan and Vidal Sassoon, among others. Ms. Harper recieved her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Southern California and has completed a children's book, The Witches Club.  Her most recent book, Over the Holidays, was released earlier this month.

Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday, always has been, and in my dreams I am The Traditionalist.  I would love to have a house decorated so beautifully and artfully that Martha Stewart would take a hit out on me.  I love the idea of a stunning tree, perfectly adorned with ornaments and lights, of having the best looking house (decorations-wise) in the neighborhood, of the house smelling like cinnamon for the entire month of December and for Christmas music to be playing 24/7.  (True story - - back in my days working at The Mother Ship, I was quite possibly the only person there that wasn't ready to strangle every artist who ever put out a Christmas album after listening to piped-in Christmas music for weeks). 
In reality, though, I am more of a Hannah of the Good Intentions.  I want to do all these things.  I plan to do all these things.  But real life interferes.  My job takes up too much of my time.  The dog eats the cinnamon roll container (along with all the rolls) and throws up under the tree.  The cat thinks the ornaments on the bottom limbs of the tree are for his fun and enjoyment - - and are made to be broken.  My son tells me the day before his big pre-holiday break project is due - - a project that will involve posterboard, construction paper, a hot glue gun and third degree burns to my fingers.  So by the time all this comes to pass, I am too exhausted to make ornaments, cook, decorate and be merry.
So which Holiday Archetype are you?  Please let me know in the comments.
Many thanks to Sandra Harper for stopping by and sharing her witty insights with us.

Over the Holidays is available now for purchase at major booksellers.  I will have my review of this fun (and timely!) book posted over the weekend, so please stick around!

October 21, 2009


In honor of Halloween and the fact that I'm a very curious sort, please check out the polls that I will be adding to the right sidebars. 

Currently, I want to know who you think is the reigning master of horror writing.  Not just necessarily in sales but who can write the stories that force you to check the locks on the doors and windows and make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.  I'm talking chills!! 

I've put forth 9 names but if you have a suggestion of your own, feel free to drop me a comment and let me know who and why. 

October 20, 2009

The Winners of "Supreme Courtship"!

The lucky winners of Supreme Courtship are:

Sheila Deeth and Bingo!

Congratulations to Sheila and Bingo! I will be emailing you for your mailing addresses.

Thanks to everyone who visited my blog and entered the giveaway. Please stick around for future reviews and giveaways.

Thanks again to Valerie Russo and Hachette Book Group for making this giveaway possible.

October 16, 2009

Just in Time for Halloween . . .

Bloody Bookaholic has the ultimate giveaway for fans of all things fang.  Whether you're into vampires or werewolves (or both!), she has you covered.  She is giving away two books, Vampires by Joules Taylor and Werewolves by Jon Izzard.  They are both described as handbooks for the myths, legends and stories about vamps and wolves so if they sound like something you'd like to add to your library, go here and enter the giveaway. 

Be sure to mention my name if you do choose to enter so that I can get an extra entry! 

Good luck!

October 15, 2009

Review of "Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict" by Laurie Viera Rigler

Synopsis: Laurie Viera Rigler's debut novel, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, was a hit with fans and critics, and a BookSense and Los Angeles Times bestseller. While Confessions took twenty-first-century free spirit Courtney Stone into the social confines of Jane Austen's era, Rude Awakenings tells the parallel story of Jane Mansfield, a gentleman's daughter from Regency England who inexplicably awakens in Courtney's overly wired and morally confused L.A. life.

For Jane, the modern world is not wholly disagreeable. Her apartment may be smaller than a dressing closet, but it is fitted up with lights that burn without candles, machines that wash bodies and clothes, and a glossy rectangle in which tiny people perform scenes from her favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. Granted, if she wants to travel she may have to drive a formidable metal carriage, but she may do so without a chaperone. And oh, what places she goes! Public assemblies that pulsate with pounding music. Unbound hair and unrestricted clothing. The freedom to say what she wants when she wants-even to men without a proper introduction.

Jane relishes the privacy, independence, even the power to earn her own money. But how is she to fathom her employer's incomprehensible dictates about "syncing a BlackBerry" and "rolling a call"? How can she navigate a world in which entire publications are devoted to brides but flirting and kissing and even the sexual act itself raise no matrimonial expectations? Even more bewildering are the memories that are not her own. And the friend named Wes, who is as attractive and confusing to Jane as the man who broke her heart back home. It's enough to make her wonder if she would be better off in her own time, where at least the rules are clear-that is, if returning is even an option.

Sequels or prequels can be a tricky thing. When the first book is well received, readers have an expectation that the next book will be just as good, perhaps even better. An author venturing into such territory takes a great risk. Laurie Viera Rigler took an even bigger risk as her primary demographic is Jane Austen fans. As one myself, we can be a demanding, unforgiving bunch with very high expectations. After all, any author willing to take characters (and beloved ones, at that) that Ms. Austen created herself, or make Ms. Austen directly or indirectly the subject of their book must be prepared to be compared to Ms. Austen in some fashion.

I adored Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. I will say that I am a somewhat obsessive freak over time travel - - the idea, stories about it - - and you have read my profile, you know that I have a fascination with Jane Austen fan fic and sequels. Confessions (and Rude Awakenings) fit both molds for me. Ms. Viera Rigler made a wonderfully relatable heroine - - Courtney - - and her details of Regency life were a delight to read.

I was thrilled to hear of a follow up novel and Ms. Viera Rigler does not disappoint. Rude Awakenings is a fun romp of a read - - joining Jane Mansfield, who manages to find herself in Courtney’s body, while Courtney s ostensibly in hers. The problem - - and fascination - - being that Jane is from 1813 England and is now in present-day Los Angeles. Her shock, awe and fear over our daily necessities like cars, televisions, phones and electricity is humorous and humbling. Of particular joy to me was Jane’s thrill over finding out not only the author’s name of her favorite book (Pride & Prejudice) but that she had written five more completed novels during her lifetime. Not only did Jane have to navigate a thoroughly modern world she had no experience with but also had to pick up Courtney’s life with her friends, co-workers, a job, problems with her mother and a recently broken engagement.

Rude Awakenings was a worthy follow-up to Confessions, answering questions posed and left unanswered in the first book. Readers should be pleased not only with Jane’s dilemma but also with a bit of further information given about Courtney as well as more character development for Jane herself.

This book was so good, such a fun read, that I raced through it in about two and a half days (and weekdays, while working). I would recommend it for all Jane Austen fans, fans of the Regency era or other historical fiction and especially anyone who has read Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict.

Author Laurie Viera Rigler's website:  http://www.janeausstenaddict.com/

I reviewed this book from a library copy. 

Update on the Hennis/Eastburn Murder Trial

In life, you can always count on death and taxes . . . and the sometimes painfully slow wheels of the judicial system. 

Back in April, I wrote a post with then-recent updates on the Tim Hennis case.  For that post go here

It now looks like the court martial has once again been postponed, this time until February 22, 2010, per the Fayetteville Observer.  The postponement, once again, of the trial certainly doesn't say guilt or innocence to me but the facts I outlined in my original post still have me wondering what went on with the case from the beginning. 

If you haven't read Scott Whisnant's excellent book on the case Innocent Victims(at least the case from the murders to and including Tim Hennis' second trial in 1989, in which he was acquitted of the same murders he was convicted of in 1986 and sentenced to death for), I encourage you to find a copy.  It's very well written and the case is quite a puzzler. 

I do wonder if Mr. Whisnant plans to update his book once the case does finally continue forward. 

I will continue to run updates on this case as I hear of them. 

To order Innocent Victims from Amazon (who is stating they are currently out of stock) go here.   To order from Barnes & Noble (also stating they are currently out of stock) go here.   Both sites also advertise used copies. 

EDITED TO ADD:  Thanks to a link from an anonymous poster, it looks like a pretrial hearing has been scheduled for December 16, 2009 after the judge denied Hennis' request that DNA samples be taken from items found in the Eastburn home at the time of the murders.   Hennis' lawyers claim he is innocent and DNA testing of the items in question may reveal the DNA of the actual killer or killers.  Prosecutors objected, stating they have DNA from a vaginal swab taken from Kathryn Eastburn's body - - but concede they have no other physical evidence from the three rooms where the murders took place. 

October 14, 2009

Hitting the Shelves Next Week

(this is the lovely bookstore at Wake Forest University)

Save up your dollars because the following titles hit the stores next Tuesday (October 20):

SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (Morrow, $29.99, 9780060889579/0060889578) is the sequel to Freakonomics, with more absurd questions and answers.

What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown, $27.99, 9780316075848/0316075841) is a collection of Gladwell's writing for the New Yorker.

The Scarpetta Factor by Patricia Cornwell (Putnam, $27.95, 9780399156397/0399156399) is the 17th mystery starring Dr. Kay Scarpetta.

Blood Game by Iris Johansen (St. Martin's, $27.99, 9780312368128/0312368127) is the 14th forensics thriller starring Eve Duncan.

To Try Men's Souls: A Novel of George Washington and the Fight for American Freedom by Newt Gingrich, William R. Forstchen and Albert S. Hanser (Thomas Dunne Books, $26.99, 9780312591069/0312591063) explores one of the iconic moments of the Revolutionary War--Washington's crossing of the Delaware.

Drinking with George: A Barstool Professional's Guide to Beer by George Wendt (Simon Spotlight, $24.99, 9781439149584/1439149585) is a personal history of inebriated antics and beer trivia.

The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk (Knopf Doubleday, $28.95, 9780307266767/0307266761) is a new novel by the Nobel Prize winning author of Snow and My Name is Red.

Look at the Birdie:  Unpublished Short Fiction by Kurt Vonnegut (Random House, $27.00, 9780385343718/038534371X) is a collection of fourteen previously unpublished short stories from one of America's best known and respected writers.

The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman (Simon & Schuster, $24.99, 9781439158845/1439158843) is a tale of female bonding that occurs annually, each December with batches of cookies. 

I Am the New Black by Tracy Morgan (Random House, $25.00, 9780385527774/0385527772) is Tracy Morgan's story of his rise from "ghetto wiseass" to superstar comedian. 

Shades of Blue by Karen Kingsbury (Zondervan, $21.99, 9780310266945/0310266947) is the bestselling author's tale of the emotional and spiritual effects of abortion.

With thanks to Shelf Awareness for portions of the list of new releases.

October 13, 2009

Authors on the Tube - Updated!

NOTE:  Please check my left sidebar, where I will keep updated weekly appearances!

Televised author appearances this week include:

Tuesday, October 13

The Today Show: Carrie Fisher, author of Wishful Drinking (Simon & Schuster, $13.99, 9781439153710/143915371X); Mireille Guiliano, author of Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense & Sensibility (Atria, $24.99, 9781416589198/1416589198).

Fox & Friends:  Vince Flynn, author of Pursuit of Honor (Atria, $27.99, 9781416595168/1416595163).

Live with Regis and Kelly: Ivanka Trump, author of The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life (Touchstone, $24.99, 9781439140017/1439140014). She will also appear this morning on Good Morning America and tonight on Nightline. Tomorrow she will be on Fox News's Hannity and EXTRA.

The Diane Rehm Show: Steve Roberts, author of From Every End of This Earth: 13 Families and the New Lives They Made in America (Harper, $25.99, 9780061245619/0061245615).

NPR's On Point: George Taber, author of In Search of Bacchus: Wanderings in the Wonderful World of Wine Tourism (Scribner, $30, 9781416562436/1416562435).

Fox News's Hannity: Jerome Corsi, author of America for Sale (Threshold Editions, $27, 9781439154779/1439154775).

Tavis Smiley: James Ellroy, author of Blood's a Rover (Knopf, $28.95, 9780679403937/0679403930).

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, author with Jeffrey Zaslow of Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters (Harper, $25.99, 9780061924682/0061924687).

The Colbert Report: Sylvia A. Earle, author of The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean's Are One (Random House, $26, 9781426205415/1426205414).

Wednesday, October 14

MSNBC's Morning Joe: Richard Belzer, author of I Am Not a Psychic! (Simon & Schuster, $24, 9781416570899/1416570896); Jim Cramer, author of Jim Cramer's Getting Back to Even (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781439158012/1439158010).

The Tyra Banks Show: Abby Sher, author of Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn't Stop Praying (Scribner, $25, 9781416589457/1416589457).

The View: Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, whose latest installment is Dog Days (Amulet/Abrams, $13.95, 9780810983915/0810983915).

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America (Holt, $23, 9780805087499/0805087494).

The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien: Serena Williams, author of On the Line (Grand Central, $26.99, 9780446553667/0446553662). She is also on Tavis Smiley tomorrow.

Thursday, October 15

The Early Show: Katie Lee, author of The Comfort Table: Recipes for Everyday Occasions (Simon Spotlight, $26, 9781439126745/1439126747).

Oprah: Mackenzie Phillips, author of High on Arrival (Simon Spotlight, $25.99, 9781439153857/143915385X).

The Today Show: Jimmy Carter will promote If I Had a Hammer: Building Homes and Hope with Habitat for Humanity by David Rubel (Candlewick, $19.99, 9780763647018/0763647012), for which he wrote the foreword.

Fresh Air: Ruth Reichl, author of Gourmet Today: More than 1000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40, 9780618610181/0618610189).

MSNBC's Hardball: Jim Cramer, author of Jim Cramer's Getting Back to Even (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781439158012/1439158010).

KCRW's Bookworm: Carlos Ruiz Zafon, author of The Angel's Game (Doubleday $26.95, 9780385528702/0385528701). As the show put it: "The Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafón has attracted an international audience with his series of metaphysical thrillers. Here, he expresses his love of 'low' genre writing, his distrust of the overtly literary writing of some of his countrymen, and his desire to create a novel that can't be put down. In other words, his characters and his readers enter a pact with literature's oldest devils: plot and artifice."

NPR's Marketplace: Carmen M. Reinhart, author of This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly (Princeton University Press, $35, 9780691142166/0691142165).

Dateline: Dean Radin, author of Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality (Paraview Pocket Books, $14, 9781416516774/1416516778).

Do you plan on catching any of these interviews?  If so, which one(s)?  If you do happen to see any of them, please leave a comment with your opinion.

With thanks to Shelf Awareness for the list.

Teaser Tuesdays: October 13, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly book meme, hosted by mizb 17 at Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along. Just do the following:

* Grab your current read

* Open to a random page

* Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page

* Be careful not to include spoilers! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away; you don't want to ruin it for other readers)

*Share the title and author so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser for today is . . . . .

"Though I imagine that if I am here, taking Courtney's place, then does it not follow that Courtney must be there, taking mine?  What a notion!  However, the only possibility is that she was taking my place rather than is taking my place, for indeed if I am now almost two hundred years after the time I let behind, then anyone alive in 1813 has long since ceased to be."

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler, page 73.

Please leave me a comment with your teasers if you don't have a blog, or leave me your link if you've posted. Happy reading!