Friday, September 30, 2011

Feature: Author Interview with Marliss Melton, author of The Protector

I can't believe it is already Friday!  I'd like to say that I'm glad it's the weekend, but working at home and being a stay-at-home-mom means I pretty much work 24/7, so I don't get much of a "weekend" most of the time. ;-) 

Today's guest author is Marliss Melton who wrote The Protector and a whole slew of other great books.  She's a mom of five, a military wife, a teacher, a writer, and who knows what else?!?!?  So, she definitely understands what it is like to never have enough time in the day!!

In case you missed it, you can find my review of The Protector HERE.  

Now, let's stop chatting (okay, so I'll shut up) and get to know more about Ms. Melton...

Author Interview
Marliss Melton

GL:  Everyone has to give us an introduction first ;-).

Marliss:  Greetings! My name is Marliss Melton. If given only three words to describe myself, they would be eclectic, creative, and blessed. I was so lucky to have grown up in a large family that lived all over the world…museums in Paris, trekking through the rainforest in Thailand, climbing a volcano in Ecuador. These terrific memories help me to create rich, realistic settings for my book. I knew that writing was my destiny, but I became a teacher first, teaching high school Spanish and Linguistics at the College of William and Mary, my alma mater. I’ve raised five children and juggled a lot of projects over the years. In the next decade, I look forward to more “me-time,” traveling and reading in order to refill the well of creativity inside of me.  

GL:  And, tell us all about your book…

MM:  The Protector is the prequel to my upcoming Taskforce Series. Featuring a former Navy SEAL, it brings readers of my Navy SEAL series over to my Taskforce Series, where the heroes won’t be Navy SEALs, but they will display the same kind of professionalism, daring-do, and devotion to our country’s security.

Here’s a short summary:  Former Navy SEAL Ike Calhoun grapples with personal demons in his remote, mountain hideaway. Being tasked to protect the Commander's daughter from terrorists not only disrupts Ike’s solitude, it pulls him back into the war he just wants to forget. Eryn McClellan isn’t any ordinary woman, however. Charmed by her genuineness and healed by her faith in him, Ike soon finds himself waging a one-man war in her defense while striving to be worthy of her love.

GL:  What was your inspiration for this book?  Where did the characters come from?

MM:  I got the idea for this book while watching the movie Taken, starring Liam Neesen. It got me thinking about the lengths a father will go to in order to protect his only daughter. The father in my book is General Stanley McClellan, head of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. When his daughter, who teaches ESL in Washington D.C., is nearly abducted by two Afghani strangers, the General suspects that  terrorist are avenging him. The FBI jumps in to help keep Eryn safe, but it looks like they are using her as bait. Stanley does the only thing a father can in his position: He assigns Eryn a protector he KNOWS can keep her safe, former Navy SEAL Ike Calhoun.   

GL:  What other books have your written?  Do they all follow the same genre?

MM:  My first published novels were medieval historical romances, written under the penname Marliss Moon. Though they won me some awards, my reading audience was limited. I felt called to write something that appealed to a wider audience, something I knew a lot about and that was romance and the military. My first husband (deceased) was an Army officer. My current husband served 20 years in the Navy, giving me lots of fodder for my Navy SEALs series. Many members of my large family serve the government in some capacity, which is one reason why I’ve chosen to write about an inter-agency Counterterrorism Taskforce.

GL:  When did your writing career begin?

MM:  I wrote my first romance when I was thirteen. All through high school, college, and into my twenties I wrote for pleasure, with the eventual goal of getting published. By my 30’s, I had gotten really serious with query letters and submissions. My first sale finally took place in 2002 when Berkley bought Danger’s Promise, a medieval romance and a RITA finalist for Best First Book.

GL:  I’m going to have to check this out.  I love historical fiction… 

GL:  What made you make the change to self-publishing? 

MM:  Despite my excellent sales record, my publisher, Grand Central, told me, “No more Navy SEAL books.” They wanted me to come up with something different. But I had the story of The Protector in my head, and it wasn’t different enough for them. I tried to find another publisher, but with Kindle putting a huge dent in the trade paperback industry, no other publisher bought my proposal.  (This was before SEAL Team 6 took out Osama Bin Laden, making them hugely popular again). Meanwhile, my readers were clamoring loudly for another Marliss Melton book. I couldn’t let them down, so I took the plunge, and self-published.

GL:  Well, I, for one, am glad you did!!! J

GL:  Which do you prefer, traditional publishing or self-publishing?  Why?

MM:  It’s really hard to make that call. I love the fact that I am finally making the money I deserve. Throughout my 7 years with a New York publisher, I never earned more than a pittance. It was so little money that my job was hard to justify to my family, especially when I held a master’s degree and could have made three times as much by going back to teaching. With self-publishing, I sell fewer books, because The Protector is not in most chain bookstores, but I just made in one month what I used to make in a year with my old publisher. Shocking, isn’t it? I have to say I miss the prestige associated with being a NY-published author. You don’t get the same respect when you are self-published, regardless of how much money you make. But I don’t miss giving up all the rights to my book and not having any say over the title or the book cover. All of those decisions still rest with me, and I can still sell The Protector to a publisher if I want to.

GL:  How do you know so much about the military and the FBI?

MM:  My father was a foreign services officer and a former Air Force JAG officer. His strong character inspired my fascination with a man in uniform. When I was the wife of an Army Captain, I learned the ranks for the Army and how to hobnob with the other officer’s wives. When I married into the Navy, I had to learn a whole new set of ranks, and I endured endless months of waiting while my husband went to sea, followed by delirious happiness upon his homecoming. I’m lucky enough to live near the East Coast Navy SEALs. I have befriended some of the widows of SEALs who died in Operation Redwing. As for my knowledge of the FBI, I knew nothing before I made contact with a retired Special Agent in Charge. Contacts are key. It pays to know people, which is why I’m always quick to forge connections. Someone out there has the answer to my questions!

GL:  Who is your protector?

MM:  Hmmm. That would have to be my husband of 12 years, Alan. He’s always been the kind of guy to walk on the street-side of the sidewalk, in case some car swerves out of control. Alan went through a lot with me this past year when I had to get my right hip replaced (shallow hip-sockets; who knew, right?) When my new hip popped out of joint ten days after surgery, you should have seen Alan’s agony at not being able to help me. My hip is all better now, and I’m getting back into regular exercise. Alan wants to get a bicycle built for two. That way, if we take a tumble, he can do some kind of wild flip through the air to cushion my fall. Yep, he’s my protector.

GL:  Ouch!!!  Glad you’re on the mend and have such a great guy to watch out for you!!

GL:  What do you enjoy in your “me-time”? 

MM:  My what? I’m not sure what that is, exactly, though now that four of my five kids have left the nest, I’m starting to remember. It involves something called reading—I love that stuff. Then there’s singing. I take every Wednesday night to myself to go to choir practice. (Yep, I could’ve been an opera singer but practicing is tedious). I love to exercise at the Navy bases, where I get in free. Not only does it feel good but the view is nice, too. What else? Languages. I love anything to do with language. I speak Spanish, a little French, Turkish, and Thai. I’d love to learn them all better and to travel the world again.

GL:  I don’t know what me-time is either, but I hear it is really nice…

GL:  You are mom-of-many J.  Do you have any advice for writing moms?

MM:  My advice for writing moms is to build a room on the opposite end of the house where your kids can go crazy and leave you alone. Carve out time for yourself. Carry a laptop or a notebook and write/edit wherever you go. Invest in earplugs. (If you can’t hear them, they’re not really there.) Find another desperate mother and trade off kids! It is extremely difficult to write and raise young ones simultaneously, but I am proof that it can be done.

GL:  Yes…by the time I can afford that padded, soundproof playroom with an external lock, my kids will be too old to use it…haha!

GL:  What do you like to read?  Who are your favorite authors?

MM:  I tend not to read romance any more, though I want to, but there’s that time issue, still. Because my time is still limited, I read nonfictional autobiographies, written by Navy SEALs (The Heart and the Fist by Eric Greitens) or other military heroes (Until Tuesday by Ricardo Montalvan). I read for purposes of research and inspiration. When I do indulge in fiction, I do so to increase my knowledge of how the military or government agencies operate and the kind of people who serve. As for fiction, Vince Flynn novels were popular with me last year. Right now I’m reading Jeffrey Wilson’s The Trateur’s Ring, which you reviewed two weeks ago. It’s about a Navy SEAL with magical healing powers, so of course I love it!

GL:  Jeff is great!  I’m so glad he “introduced” us…

GL:  What is your favorite romantic movie?

MM:  I just loved the movie Love, Actually, also with Liam Neesen (Him again, but who doesn’t love Liam Neesen? He always plays a kick-ass hero with a sensitive side.)  I tend to get into the action flicks more than romantic comedies (probably why I write romantic suspense), so Robin Hood with Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchette was right up my alley.

GL:  Chocolate or Caramel?

MM:  I want to say “Both!” but an honest answer would have to be “Neither, thank you.” I tend to monitor my calorie intake very closely, and so I’m going to save those calories for the wine…

GL:  White or Red Wine?

MM:  Red, red, red , and more red! Give me a spicy, bold Shiraz or Cabernet and I’m in heaven.

GL:  Favorite Season?

MM:  Autumn. I love the vibrant reds and golds and oragnes. I love the bite of cooler air. Autumn invigorates me, possibly from all my years of teaching and the excitement of starting a new school year. These days, it’s just the excitement of sending my kids off to school so I can finally write again.

GL:  Autumn is my favorite too!  I wish we could just skip summer and winter and have spring and autumn all year!!

GL:  Favorite Holiday?

MM:  Christmas, definitely. I love to sing…every carol I can think of. I love decking the Christmas tree with holiday music in the background. I love buying people gifts, wrapping presents, and singing “Silent Night,” at midnight with a candle in my hands. I love the sacredness of Christmas and the message of hope that it brings.

GL:  Toddlers or Teenagers?

MM:  This one is tough, what with the memory of four teenagers still so fresh on my traumatized brain but…I’ll have to say teens. After all, I did teach high school for a reason. I enjoy kids when they are almost-adults, excited about life, chafing to get out there and fulfill their destinies. Their enthusiasm is contagious. That’s not to say that they don’t lie straight to your face at that age and do all kinds of things you really don’t want to know about, but they’re fresh. Invigorating. I enjoy their ability to articulate thoughts about the purpose of life and their role in the world. You can’t do that so much with toddlers.

GL:  You make it sound so nice.  I’m still not sure I’m looking forward to those years ;-)… 

Marliss, thank you so much for stopping by and chatting with us today!  I am definitely going to be checking out more of your novels, and I look forward to all you have in store for us in the future...  

Help Abby "KickStart" her beautiful novel!!!

I recently had the opportunity to read and review a beautiful novel, Letters in Cardboard Boxes by Abby Slovin.  Not only is Abby releasing her novel in a unique and interesting way, one chapter online each week, she is also funding print publication through Kickstarter.

Anyone pledging $15 will receive a paperback; add another $5 and get it signed.  You can even get a personal tour of New York for the right price :-)!!!  

This is a great way to be a part of the creative process AND help a talented author out!

If you are interested, you can find out more about Abby's project and make your pledges HERE.

  1. What is Kickstarter?

    Kickstarter is a new way to fund creative projects.
    We believe that:
    • A good idea, communicated well, can spread fast and wide.
    • A large group of people can be a tremendous source of money and encouragement.
    Kickstarter is powered by a unique all-or-nothing funding method where projects must be fully-funded or no money changes hands.
  2. Who can fund their project on Kickstarter?

    Kickstarter is focused on creative projects. We're a great way for artists, filmmakers, musicians, designers, writers, illustrators, explorers, curators, performers, and others to bring their projects, events, and dreams to life.
    The word “project” is just as important as “creative” in defining what works on Kickstarter. A project is something finite with a clear beginning and end. Someone can be held accountable to the framework of a project — a project was either completed or it wasn’t — and there are definable expectations that everyone can agree to. This is imperative for every Kickstarter project.
    We know there are a lot of great projects that fall outside of our scope, but Kickstarter is not a place for soliciting donations to causes, charity projects, or general business expenses.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Feature: The Protector by Marliss Melton

This week's extra special guest is Ms. Marliss Melton, author of the military romantic suspense novel, The Protector...and a whole bunch of other great novels!  Jeff Wilson (The Traiteur's Ring) introduced us (wasn't that sweet?).  

Tomorrow, September 29th, Marliss will be dropping by for an interview, so be sure to stop by and learn all there is to know about this fantastic lady!

Today you get to hear my thoughts on The Protector...

By:  Marliss Melton
ISBN:  9781460951811
Published June 24, 2011
Available Format:  Paperback, ebook

My Rating:  ★★★★☆

Eryn McClellan is an ESL teacher in D.C., just living her normal, somewhat boring life.  Things are turned upside down when a group of terrorists target her in order to avenge her father’s actions in Afghanistan.  With the FBI using Eryn as bait, her father sends in his own man to protect her, former Navy SEAL Issac Calhoun.  Ike was certain he’d left the days of war behind him now that he had carved out his own little niche in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  When the gorgeous daughter of his mentor is suddenly thrown into his life, he does his best to resist her charms.  In the end, he finds himself waging a one-man war in Eryn’s defense while he discovers the strength to overcome his past and open his heart to love once again. 

I’ll admit, when Ms. Melton’s work was recommended to me as “straight up military romance,” I went into this thinking about G.I. Fabio and camouflage nighties.  Now that I’m on the other side I must say I am impressed.  The romance side of the story did not detract from the overall plot.  Melton wove every aspect of the tale together with much grace and taste.  There is so much more to this novel than passionate panting and ripping…well…BDUs.

This book made me angry, it made me laugh, it made me cry, and most of all it made me smile!  I love the chemistry between the two main characters.  It wasn’t too over-the-top, like you’d expect out of a lot of romance novels, and it definitely wasn’t forced either.  They were believable and endearing—exactly how any writer wants their characters to feel. 

There were a few typos in the book but nothing too distracting overall.  I read that Marliss chose to self-publish this story due to some discrepancies with the publisher of her other novels.  I think she did a fantastic job, and I am glad she decided not to give up on her SEAL novels!

After reading this I’m left with two thougths:  I MUST to go back and read her other books!  AND  I really want my own cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains! J

Don't forget to come by tomorrow to check out Marliss' interview!!!

Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse 11)

Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse 11)
By:  Charlaine Harris
ISBN:  9780575096523
Published May 28, 2011 by Gollancz, Victor Limited
Available Format:  Hardcover, Paperback, ebook, Audiobook

My Rating:  ★★★★☆

When Merlotte’s bar is firebombed, suspicion is immediately directed at the anti-shifter movement in the area.  But, Sookie is pretty sure the bomber was a shifter, so she and Sam work together to discover the true culprit.  In the vamp world, Eric and Pam are plotting to kill Victor, the regent of the area who has been causing them all a great deal of trouble.  Toss in a little magic and some fairy business and you’re completely wrapped up in Sookie’s crazy world again. 

I felt Sookie was a little flat this time.  She’s always been so funny and witty, and this time she just felt so stiff and boring.  Eric, my favorite vamp, was a little disappointing too.  The chemistry between the two was horrible.  Sookie and Bill, for the brief time they got to interact, made SO much more sense this time!  I was shocked, because I longed for Sookie and Eric to be together all through the beginning of the series.

I think the whole bit about the Fae was not hashed out very well and really didn’t add anything to the overall story.  I believe Harris should have just focused on Victor and Sandra Pelt and worked on bringing the much loved character out better in Sookie and Eric.   

That being said, I’m still a big Southern Vampire fan, and I found lots to love in this book.  It was nice to see a softer side to Pam, and my heart broke for her with what she was having to go through.  I am intrigued about Eric’s current predicament, so I expect the next book to be focused on that…and maybe Sookie will end up with someone else…maybe some new character that isn’t a vampire!

This definitely wasn’t my favorite Sookie Stackhouse book, and I do think Harris is running out of steam with the series.  I hate to say it, but it might be time for Sookie to ride off into the sunset (or moonset?) with…someone…

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

JournalJabber Recap (September 27, 2011)

Hey guys!  Just as a reminder, I am a co-host/chat room queen on the Blog Talk Radio show, JournalJabber, sponsored by JournalStone.  We usually blow through so much information on the show, and I felt maybe the listeners might like a place to go to check out some of the info like book titles, websites, etc.

So, this is my first ever JournalJabber recap :-).  Tonight's show was all about YA/Children's books, and Brett Talley co-hosted with us!  It was tons of fun, as always.  We are so thrilled to have some testosterone on air with us...and I don't think we've scared him away, yet... :-)

Listen to internet radio with 
JournalJabber on Blog Talk Radio

The books we discussed:

Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb
By:  M.J.A. Ware
ISBN:  2940013006850
Published September 5, 2011

When life gives you lemons, kill zombies -- turns out lemon juice neutralizes the undead.
After a failed attempt at running away, best friends Nathan and Misty return home expecting to face angry parents. Instead, they discover the military has destroyed the bridges out of their rural town and everyone's fled—except a small horde of the living dead. The stress of flesh-eating zombies may be more than their already strained relationship can handle.

Even with the help of the town geek and lemonade-powered Super-Soakers, there's not enough time to squeeze their way out of this sticky mess. Unless the trio eradicates the zombie infestation, while avoiding the deadly zombie snot, the military will blow the town, and them, to pulp.

Their only shot is something with a lot more punch. Something like the Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb. But even if their friendship survives, there's another problem: Someone has to lure the undead into the trap.

Includes two free short stories.

Print length is approximately 204 pages (40,000 words).

May not be suitable for kids under 9.(less)

The Lightning Thief
By:  Rick Riordan
Illustrated by:  John Rocco
ISBN:  9780786838653
Published April 1, 2006 by Miramax

After getting expelled from yet another school for yet another clash with mythological monsters only he can see, twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is taken to Camp Half-Blood, where he finally learns the truth about his unique abilities: He is a demigod, half human, half immortal. Even more stunning: His father is the Greek god Poseidon, ruler of the sea, making Percy one of the most powerful demigods alive. There's little time to process this news. All too soon, a cryptic prophecy from the Oracle sends Percy on his first quest, a mission to the Underworld to prevent a war among the gods of Olympus.

Leon Chameleon P.I. and the Case of the Kidnapped Mouse
By:  Janet Hurst-Nicholson
Illustrated by:  Barbara McGuire
ISBN:  9781875011117
Published 1995 by Gecko Books

When Mr Woodland Mouse mysteriously disappears, Constable Mole is quick to enlist the help of Leon Chameleon, Private Investigator, whose expertise enabled the Pigeon Valley Police to solve the case of the missing canary eggs.

After organising a search, Leon realises that there is only one creature in the valley who can spring the captured mouse from his prison. But just when he thinks Mr Woodland Mouse is safely on his way home, the plan goes horribly wrong...

The Mystic Phyles:  Beasts
By:  Stephanie Brockway
Illustrated by: Ralph Masiello
ISBN:  9781570917189
Published July 1, 2011 by Charlesbridge Publishing

Abigail Thaddeus lives with her grandparents in an old, spooky, ramshackle mansion. Pop is super strict, and loveable Ninny is a tad, well, eccentric. While her life is certainly unusual, Abigail finds it just plain boring. That is, until she receives an anonymous letter that sends her on a quest to research mythical creatures. With her best friend Charley's help, Abigail learns more about beasts familiar (e.g. the unicorn) and unfamiliar (e.g. the bonnacon) and is shocked to discover that they may be more real than she had thought. When a threatening letter from the mysterious Board of Mystical Management arrives, Abigail has to decide whether to pursue knowledge at all costs or chose a safer path. Abigail's adventure is told through her journal entries, sketches, and beast research pages, using a scrapbook style.

Of course, we never stay completely on topic.  Harry Potter, Goosebumps, Fear Street, Christopher Pike, Twilight, and even Vampire Diaries and True Blood (which is NOT YA!) got a bit of air time.  And in case you are wondering, those are my kids screaming in the background!!!  Sigh...

Lovecraft Trivia Contest:

Gearing up for the Halloween season, we also opened up a new contest.  Brett got a lot of his inspiration for his fabulous novel (That Which Should Not Be) from the legendary H.P. Lovecraft...  So, Brett is offering up a signed copy of his novel and JournalStone is tossing in a gift card for a the lucky listener who can answer the following questions:

What is written on Lovecraft's tombstone?
In the HP Lovecraft Historical Society's newly released film, The Whisperer in the Darkness, from what planet do the "living fungi" originate?
Complete this quote, "'The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is __________."

If anyone takes a picture completing this contest -- looking up the answers, reading a Lovecraft story, watching the movie, visiting Lovecraft's tombstone, etc. :-) -- you will earn extra entries!

Email your responses to Amy - to enter! Winners will be announced October 11th...

Next week, our guest will be Regina Wamba, a photographer and graphic designer who has created some GORGEOUS book art, including Cambria's beautiful Masquerade cover!  Be sure to tune in and join in all the fun!  Every Tuesday at 9PM EST...

Our Links:


Four Small Stones (Urban Hunters 1)

Four Small Stones (Urban Hunters 1)
By:  Gary Taaffe
ISBN:  9780987176004
Published August 3, 2011 by Bunya Publishing
Available Format: ebook

My Rating: ★★★★★

Billy is a thirteen-year-old Aboriginal boy from the bush.  The spirit of his mother has chosen him to travel where the whites live.  His clan is facing extinction, and it is up to young Billy to find some girls and a future for them.  Billy really doesn’t want to go, but he has more imminent problems to deal with.  Billy’s brothers are constantly pulling pranks on each other, and this time Billy is their target.  He cooks up a plan to get back at them big time.  His plan involves a rotten Roo, some stimulating biscuits, a blanket of bat poop, and a trip to the crystal cave. 

I originally thought, with a thirteen-year-old protagonist and low word count, this would be good to read with my son.  We did start it together, but I read ahead and decided it was a bit more mature than he is ready for at the moment.  We did have an interesting conversation about the Aborigines and Australian animals and culture.  It is more toward the end of the story that the plot takes a little turn and the language gets a bit harsh.  If he were in his early teens, I would have been more comfortable with him finishing the story.

For me, though, it was truly enjoyable!   The young brothers have such a fun rapport, even though they are trying to one up each other all the time.  They certainly can pull some disgusting pranks, and Billy’s was elaborate and hilarious! 

All throughout the story, I marveled at how authentic everything felt.  Heartwarming and fun!  I can’t wait to check out the next in the series…


By: Barbara G. Tarn
ISBN:  2940011221903
Published March 5, 2011
Available Format:  ebook

My Rating: ★★★★☆

When a woodcutter’s wife comes upon a mysterious winged Sila in the forest, she does everything she can to help him, but he needs another magical creature to be fully healed.  The woodcutter remembers the witch and brings her back to their home.  Together she and the Sila search for the source of the dark magic that struck him and his partner down.

This short story has something that I absolutely love—black-winged creatures!  Yum!  I love how she starts with the woodcutter’s wife who tries to help the creature in conventional ways only to learn they are surrounded by this powerful, mysterious magic. 

Since I am easing my way into all of Barb’s work by way of these short stories/novellas, I am getting glimpses of all these fantastical creatures, and I cannot wait to dive into her full-length pieces!  She is obviously a wonderful storyteller.  What an amazing and magical world she has created for these remarkable creatures to reside!  

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Asking and Other Stories

The Asking and Other Stories
By: Charles G. Timm
ASIN:  B0058PJ080
Published April 13, 2011
Available Format:  ebook

My Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis from Goodreads:  Seven short stories, intensely concerned with young people at the heart of change, struggling to do the right things in moments of surprising revelation, when life alters, often in unrecognizable ways, and it falls to the young to win back love, rescue friends, stand against the crowd, be the voices in the chaos, in lives as meaningful as those of any adult.

This is a beautifully written collection of short stories.  Each story shows the reader a progressively older protagonist making important decisions and changes  through each stage.  These vignettes all about growing up are definitely worth checking out!  

Diary of a Dead Muse

Diary of a Dead Muse
By:  Benjamin Goshko
Published August 5, 2011
Available Format:  ebook

My Rating:  ★★★★☆

The main character of this short story is a writer struggling to find a place for his favorite character, his muse.  She’s become so much a part of his life, he is devastated when his real-life wife becomes jealous and gives him a frightening ultimatum.   

I loved the straightforward, normal-life-of-a-writer point of view in this one.  I like how the writer has this relationship with his character that sometimes blurs the lines of reality and make-believe, but it doesn’t make him seem super creepy or anything (well, at least not to me!).  Just like any other writer, his creative world bleeds over into his real life in very real ways.

I think every writer goes through something like this at some point.  Writing isn’t just a job, it is simply part of life for a writer.  It is just there, always.  For his wife to ask him to choose between her and his muse is like asking a surgeon to cut off his hand.  Absolutely nothing could ever be the same again. 

This is a great, quick little read.  Check it out and get in the mind of a writer for a while…

Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble

Noah Zarc:  Mammoth Trouble
By:  D. Robert Pease
ISBN:  9780615524993
Published August 13, 2011 by Walking Stick Books
Available Format:  Paperback, ebook

My Rating: ★★★★★

Noah Zarc is a twelve-year-old boy living in the future.  He and his family command a ship that retrieves animals from the past in preparation for re-inhabiting a post-apocalyptic earth.  Noah, although he is a paraplegic, is a fantastic spaceship pilot and time-traveler.  He thinks his life just can’t get much better…until his dad is trapped in the Ice Age and his mom is kidnapped and taken to thirty-first century Mars.  Noah quickly learns things aren’t as they seem, and he has to find the strength within to pull through it all.  The fate of the future world is in his hands.

This book is amazing!  It is slightly above my kids’ reading level, but it was still tons of fun for me.  I love how it takes the story of Noah’s Ark and interprets it in the future.  It also teaches a lesson about how we are abusing the earth’s resources and basically killing our own planet every day. 

Since Noah is paraplegic and primarily in a “wheelchair,” there is also the message of not letting disabilities hold you back.  His physical condition is certainly not dwelt upon.  We know he uses the chair and a special suit that helps him walk when needed, but he carries on just like any other child—well, any other child in the future.  The focus is on his talents, his incredible wit and ability to pilot spacecraft better than anyone else in his family.  Sure, it is bothersome at times to depend on other things to help him move around, and he sometimes uses his chair as an excuse to not help his brother and sister (with little success), but not once does he let his condition define who he really is.

Some of the time travel stuff was pretty much beyond my comprehension, but it isn’t written in a way that you need to understand what they’re saying.  Actually, most of the characters don’t understand it either, so it just brings the reader into the story even deeper. 

It was loads of fun to travel into the past to the end of the Ice Age and learn that cavemen weren’t as dumb as we think.  And then, in the same breath, we get to go to the future and see what life on Mars might be like.  All through the story, you never know where or when you’ll find yourself!  What a splendid adventure!

Feature: Guest Post by Mary Ting, author of Crossroads

I'm super excited to have Mary Ting here today!!! My to-read/review list was (is) so long, I had to put off reading her new YA novel, Crossroads...but I just couldn't take it any longer, so a couple weeks ago I finally had to dig in. I loved it just as much as I thought I would!

You can see my review of Crossroads HERE.

So, I'm gonna shut up so y'all can get to the good stuff...Crossroads, behind the scenes...

Guest Post by Mary Ting, author of Crossroads

I started writing Crossroads after my grandmother passed away about 3 years ago.  When these characters came to life in my mind, along with the character Gamma, inspired by my grandmother, it was a way for me to heal.  I decided to start from a dream I had in high school, chapter one.  Chapter two is also based on my dream as well.  I didn’t think I would have much to write about, but when I made Claudia to be more like me, it was easy.  Her first car, her first job, her first experience at camping and her grandmother having a stroke was all part of me.  Too bad Michael wasn’t real…lol!!!

Many people like Davin, which I’m really happy about because his character was inspired by my friend who passed away.  He was very likable and was a best friend to all his friends.  Patty is my friend from church.  She is exactly how I described her, social butterfly who knows everything about her friends and fashion.  I named Claudia after a student I once had many years ago.  I can still picture her face, just like an angel.  When I was much younger, I had a crush on a boy name Michael, but his character is based off my husband, protective, romantic, and silly at times.  No… he doesn’t have wings…lol!!!

Though I was busy with work, being a wife, a mother, and PTA president, I would always find time to write, even if that meant typing while I was cooking or brushing my teeth.    Crossroads was written for a fast, fun reading with likable characters.  Many have emailed me to let me know how Crossroads has helped them escaped from their everyday stress.  Also, how they’ve connected to this book because of chapter one, having a loved one passed away. I took on a journey not knowing how rewarding it would be for me. I’ve met so many wonderful people from all over the world through Facebook, Goodreads and blog sites.  I’ve made everlasting friendship where friendship knows no boundaries.  And I have to thank my grandmother who continues to watch over me from Heaven.

Beautiful Cover!!!

Mary Ting resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry.  

You may contact the author for comments/feedback at 

Learn more about Crossroads and read an excerpt:

Buy the book:

Thank you so much, Mary...  It is truly an honor to have you stop by!  

Everyone must grab a copy of this fantastic novel!  You will not be disappointed...

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Pentacle Pendant

The Pentacle Pendant
By: Stephen M. DeBock
ISBN: 9781936564279
Expected Publication: October 14, 2011
Available Format: Hardcover, Paperback, ebook

My Rating: ★★★★☆

In the throes of passion, Claire doesn’t take her lover seriously when he confesses he is a werewolf and asks if he can change her. When she awakes, it isn’t such a joke to her any longer. Claire manages to somehow adjust to her new life. Soon, however, her lover is led astray by another woman who wants his gift as well as his loyalty. When she realizes his heart belongs to Claire, she vows to destroy both their lives forever. Now, Claire is pursued by agents who wish to protect her and the evil that wishes to end her life. Who will succeed, and will Claire’s humanity survive the heartbreak and loss she must endure along the way?

Don’t let the synopsis fool you. This isn’t really a romance novel. There are werewolves and vampires and big, burly military guys…okay, so that doesn’t help much does it? Well, how about a kick ass protagonist who is after the next righteous kill and a nasty vampire that mutilates her boyfriend?

I love the way Claire’s character was introduced as cruel and vicious. It makes the reader want to hate her initially. Then, we get to go back and hear her story and see how she got to that point and what is driving her to be so vicious. We see her in a whole new light and can’t help but have sympathy.

I’ll probably get labeled a prude again, but all the sex in the first half or so started to get on my nerves a bit. I get what the author was putting across, but at some point, I really wanted more content and less bedroom. I was also a teensy bit put off by the art teacher’s intro to the story. At first, if felt like he was interrupting the plot…but as things continued to develop, it was easy to see exactly what a very pivotal purpose his character served. And, in a way, the interruption fit perfectly with his character (i.e. irritatingly persistent). ;-)

Overall, this is a great take on the darker side of werewolves and especially vampires. It’s nice to step away from the young adult interpretations of these creatures now and then. This story evoked so many reactions and emotions while being satisfyingly entertaining. What more could you ask for?!? Another great read from the folks at JournalStone!