Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gathering Leaves' Favorites of 2011

This is it, folks!  The LAST day of the year 2011.  When I began this year, I had no idea what was in store for me.  Little did I know, I had some BIG changes headed my way, and I was about to get busier than I have ever been before!  For once, I wasn't having another baby or moving or anything like that...  I was about to dive head first into something I love tremendously - the literary world.  

It all began when I read The Gargoyle Prophecy by Christopher C. Payne.  Chris is the president of JournalStone Publishing, and when he read my review, he asked if I'd be interested in proofreading and reviewing another JournalStone novel, Any Witch Way by Annastaysia Savage.  From there my involvement with JournalStone grew and grew - I became a regular proofreader/reviewer and was even asked over the summer to co-host the Blog Talk Radio show, JournalJabber.  

It quickly became evident that I am far too observant and soft-spoken to be a true radio personality, but I do love the radio show and make most of my contributions by running the chat room and making sure all our information is available during the show and afterward on our new website.  Ownership of the radio show is now transferred to Amy and we are no longer affiliated with JournalStone.  There will be a few small changes, but expect 2012 to be full of tons of crazy JournalJabber fun!

After I had amassed quite a few book reviews (and many that did not fit the genres JournalStone was interested in) and joined a fantastic group on Goodreads (Creative Reviews), I decided to start up my own review blog (which you are now reading!) as a way to keep my work organized and available for others.  Soon, the review requests were rolling in, and today, I have almost TWO-HUNDRED books in queue for review!!  I will never be able to empty my to-review list (because I am constantly adding to it), but it is still exciting to me when I open a new book for the first time -- what adventure awaits me next?

It's taking me even longer to get those reviews churned out now because, in addition to proofreading for JournalStone, I decided to offer my proofreading/editing services independently.  I have had a fairly steady flow of work coming in.  I've worked with several authors, including Barbara G. Tarn and T.R. Graves, and I proofread for Amy at The Eyes for Editing.  This is the BEST work for me!  I get to stay home with my family, which is perfect (although, they might say they are a little neglected these days, and my poor house is a disaster area most of the time), and I get to do what I and write!

Speaking of writing, I have enjoyed writing for most of my life.  I remember as a young girl typing up stories on an old word processor/DOS computer my aunt gave me.  My first character was Miranda, and she was a huge horse lover.  My school years found me mostly writing literary research papers and then experimental psychology research reports, full of boring definitions and statistics.  But this year, I began flexing my writing muscles again and managed to turn out a couple pretty great stories, if I say so myself.  I submitted one to JournalStone's short story contest, and although it didn't win anything (it didn't match up with what they were looking for in the anthology), I got some FANTASTIC feedback from Chris.  Then, I had the honor of publishing a separate story in the Creative Reviews Christmas anthology, Christmas Lites, alongside some amazing authors and friends.  If you haven't already bought your copy of Christmas Lites, please do so now!  All proceeds are being donated to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

I am slowly working on expanding on my JS short story and will either begin releasing everything in a series of novelettes or complete a full-length novel.  This is also taking me some time because, with three small children and an up-an-coming editing business, I barely have time to breathe, much less write anything of value!  But, that's okay!  I have plenty of time, and I want to do everything right so I give the public the best quality story as possible...  :-)

I think that's enough rambling!  I wanted to end the year with a little list of some of my favorites of 2011.  Don't be discouraged if your work didn't make it to my list.  I couldn't very well include EVERY single thing or it wouldn't be much of a favorites list...haha...  Basically every story/book I read this year was fantastic, and all the authors I had the honor of working with were simply amazing.  I cannot tell you how blessed I have been this year through the new experiences I have enjoyed and all the new friends I have made.  

Without further ado, here are some of my faves of the year:

Favorite Children’s Books:
Leon Chameleon P.I. series by Janet Hurst-Nicholson
     A brilliant little chameleon solving the crimes of the forest?  Yes, please!  This series has become one of my son's (and my!) favorite children's series ever!  Everyone buy bunches of Jan's books so she can get the next in the series published right away!
See my review of The Case of the Missing Canary Eggs HERE.
See my review of The Case of the Kidnapped Mouse HERE.

The Moon Coin by Richard Due
     This book absolutely blew me away!  It ranks right up there with Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia for me!  I cannot wait for book two to hit the shelves this year.
See my review HERE.
See Richard's guest post HERE.

The Sword of Darrow by Alex & Hal Malchow
     A fantastic fantasy written by a father-son team.  My son was an early-reader, and we absolutely adored this novel!  What makes it even better:  Alex struggles with learning differences and helped his dad write this book when he couldn't even read!
See my review HERE.
See Alex & Hal's interview HERE.

Any Witch Way by Annastaysia Savage
     I mentioned this above as one of my first endeavors with JournalStone publishing.  I had mentioned to Chris that I didn't really read horror (and if you know JournalStone, you know horror is the heart of their operation :-)) he sent along this children's/young adult fantasy for me to work on.  It is amazing, so fun, and full of many great life lessons every young girl (and boy) would benefit from.
See my review HERE.
See Anna's interview HERE.

Kiwi in Cat City by Vickie Johnstone
     I adopted Vickie during Adopt an Indie month and was thrilled to find another series of remarkable children's books.  I haven't had time to dive into the other books, but they are sitting in my favorites on my Kindle just waiting for me!  Kiwi will be a special guest on my blog in the next week or so, so be on the lookout for that!
See my review HERE.
See Vickie's interview HERE.

Noah Zarc:  Mammoth Trouble by Robert D. Pease  
     As you can imagine, Robert made lots of reference to the story of Noah's Ark, but everything is in a futuristic, science-fiction setting.  Above all, Noah is in a wheelchair, but is able to easily overcome and accomplish some amazing things!
See my review HERE.

Graphic Novels/Comics/Sci-Fi:
Aron Warner’s Pariah Series
     A world where the genetically enhanced (nerds) are hunted down.  A geeky main character that absolutely steals my heart.  A fantastic piece of work, both graphically and literally.
See my review HERE.

Die Laughing by Louis K. Lowy
     This was a bit of a deviation from my typical read.  Cheesy sci-fi films and stand-up comedians.  Louis gave me a reason to love the 50s and helped me broaden my reading horizons!
See my review HERE.
See Louis' interview HERE.

That Which Should Not Be by Brett J. Talley
     Remember what I said about not really reading horror?  Well, JournalStone slowly snuck it in on me, and this novel is the one that made me love horror again!  Brett, one of my favorite fellow Alabamians, wrote an AMAZING Lovecraft inspired novel.  There's no turning back now...
See my review HERE.
See a review of some of Brett's short stories HERE.
See Brett's interview HERE.

Jokers Club by Gregory Bastianelli
     This book involved kids and truly creeped me out.  Like, gave me bad dreams creeped out.  But, it was worth every lost minute of peaceful sleep.  Another JournalStone gem!
See my review HERE.

     Warriors was on my to-review list, and it was another indie novel that truly surprised me.  Fantastic characters, original ideas, and a fresh perspective...  Love it!
See my review HERE.

     After receiving my review of Warriors of the Cross and finding her way to my website, the author discovered by editing services and inquired about my availability for a tight deadline.  I was happy to oblige and feel unequivically honored to have been able to work with her on such an amazing novel!  Good editing is essential to the success of a book, but having a brilliant author to lay the initial foundation is absolutely priceless!
TR Graves will be my special guest tomorrow, New Year's Day, and I will be posting my official review of Guardians of the Cross.  Expect the next novel of the series, Enemies of the Cross to be on my favorites list of 2012!

Imperial Hostage by Phil Cantrill
     Ancient Greece meets Atlantis - this novel was PERFECT for me!  And Phil is a terrific guy!  I've adopted him as a 2nd dad, and I would love the opportunity to visit him in gorgeous Australia and have a good chat with him about all the great adventures he has been on!
See my review HERE.
See Phil's interview HERE.

Morgen by Stephen M. DeBock
     Steve is another amazing guy and another dadish adoptee of mine.  He is so hilarious and has such a full life to talk about!  While I loved his novel, The Pentacle Pendant, I found the creepiness and the quick turns in the plot of Morgen to be even more to my liking.
See my review HERE.

The Traiteur’s Ring by Jeffrey Wilson
     Jeff is one of the most fun guests I have enjoyed on Gathering Leaves.  The infamous "splat" will forever live on! :-)  I am full of anticipation for Jeff's son's first book which will be published this summer!!  Be on the lookout for Mr. Conner as soon as Jeff can get my ARC sent to me.
See my review HERE.
See Jeff's interview HERE.

The Demon of Renaissance Drive by Elizabeth Reuter
     So maybe life as a succubus isn't all that great...  But it sure as heck is entertaining!
See my review HERE.

End of Mae by Angela Yuriko-Smith
     Angela, a primarily nonfiction writer, wrote this to prove a naysayer wrong and ended up with a prime piece of fiction.  I'm waiting for the next Mae book, any day now! :-)
See my review HERE.

Young Adult:
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
     I think this is my absolute favorite young adult novel of the year.  I love the dystopian genre and the trials and experiences this young girl faces in her dark world.  I cannot wait for book two!
See my review HERE.

A Singular Gift by Sue Santore
     Sue is another of my Adopt an Indie adoptees.  One of my favorite things about her novel is how she writes such an amazing narrative without any teen angst or questionable themes.  Beautiful!
See my review HERE.
See Sue's interview HERE.

Before by Cambria Hebert
     You've all seen a lot of Cambria around here lately, and for good reason.  I got to read Masquerade before Before, but if you want a great teaser before you dive into the novel, check out this short story first!
See my review HERE.
See Cambria's interview HERE.

Masquerade by Cambria Hebert
     Heven and Hell are about to collide and Cambria has written up some amazing characters with some deep, dark secrets!  I don't see how this novel can be anything but a success!
See my review HERE.
See Cambria's Christmas guest post HERE.

Four Small Stones by Gary Taaffe
     This is another one that surprised me.  I thought it was a children's book until I read it, and then I was glad I read ahead of my son, because it really is for more mature young people (teens to adults, I'd say).  But, it is great!  The second is sitting on my favorites list on my Kindle right beside Kiwi waiting patiently for me.
See my review HERE.

     The younger side of JournalStone came out in this brilliant little novel by another fun guy!  I'm proofing Greg's next novel, Cemetary Club, right now, and I can already tell it is different but just as awesome as Ghosts!
See my review HERE.
See Greg's interview HERE.

Misc/Crossover (as in hard to categorizeJ):
Flidderbugs by Jonathan Gould
     This one is a crossover because it is fun enough for children while being full of metaphors and entertainment for adults.  Dive into this short read to learn just how many points are on a flidderleaf...
See my review HERE.

The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas
    This is SUCH a beautifully written novel.  Anyone who loves good literary fiction with a bit of a mysterious feel will love this one.
See my review HERE.

The Reluctant by CS Splitter
     Splitter is another great guy that I have become friends with this year.  He likes for you to think he is tough, but I think deep down, he's really a softie at heart.  We all love him!  And his books are tons of fun and adventure, all about the life of a 'real' man.
See my review HERE.
See Splitter's guest post HERE.

The Willing by CS Splitter
     I got to be a Beta reader for Splitter's second novel, although it took me forever to get my notes back to him!  My husband has enjoyed reading his work with me and giving Splitter a man's opinion of things.  The verdict is:  These are great books for the girls AND the guys!
See my review HERE.

Death on Deadline by Diane Majeske
     Late night sessions at the paper turn into an in-depth murder investigation.  Diane's writing reminds me of Charlaine Harris (in a great way) -- her main character is so quirky and funny!  Don't miss this one!
See my review HERE.
See Diane's guest post HERE.
See Diane's interview HERE.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II
     I know all my fellow Potter fans are distraught that the series is really over :-(.  But, this was one of the most amazing Potter films ever!  My favorite is still Prisoner of Azkaban, but this one might come in 2nd!
See my review HERE.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
     See my review HERE.

Sherlock Holmes:  A Game of Shadows
     See my review HERE.

     Bright, colorful and tons of tail feather-shakin' music!  One of the best children's films of the year!
See my review HERE.

     See my review HERE.

There you have favorite books and movies of the year!  I want to thank each and every one of you for being part of the Gathering Leaves Family Tree!!!  I wouldn't be where I am today without you all...

May God bless 2012 with prosperity, good health, great friends, laughter, and tons and tons of great books!

<3 I love you all!! <3


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Interview with Rocky Wood & Joel Kirkpatrick - 90 Minutes to Live

To help promote their latest Warped Words anthology, Christopher Payne of JournalStone Publishing asked if I'd be willing to conduct an interview with the dedicatee of the anthology, Rocky Wood, and the judge/compiler, Joel Kirkpatrick.  Of course, I wasn't about to pass up such a tremendous opportunity!

A couple days ago I posted a review of 90 Minutes to Live.  You can check that out HERE.

The interview went live on this morning, and now I am sharing it with my lovely followers as well :-).  Please be sure to stick around after the interview to read more about ALS and how you can help Rocky and other victims of this horrible disease.

Interview with Rocky:
GL:  I have to say I am a little star struck!  I don’t think I’ve ever interviewed anyone with their own Wiki J.  So, here’s what I’ve learned about you this week:
  • ·       You live in Melbourne and probably have (my favorite) an Australian accent.
  • ·         You are the president of the Horror Writers Association.
  • ·         You have won the Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Non-fiction, among other awards.
  • ·         You are THE Stephen King expert (my husband loves you already).
  • ·         You have been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Is there anything else you’d like to add to all that?

Rocky:  Well, actually I have not won the Bram Stoker Award – I have been nominated twice, for Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished and for Stephen King: The Non-Fiction.

I am originally a Kiwi (New Zealander) and have dual citizenship. My accent has morphed to largely Australian after 30 years, but I have also lived in Belgium and England and travelled extensively, so the accent is a bit confused to the ear of some! I admit to being a leading expert on the work of Stephen King (guilty, as charged).

Cassie:  New Zealand is even better.  I want to live there!!

GL:  What was your reaction when you were told that JournalStone would be dedicating 90 Minutes to Live to you? 

RW:  I was honored of course. I have a lot of respect for JournalStone, which has published tremendous work in its short history. Genre fiction always needs dedicated new publishing outlets, and horror has a great tradition of them – to me JS is adding to that tradition. And by honoring me, JournalStone also draws attention to a disease not many know about – ALS (Motor Neurone Disease, or ALS here in Australia), sometimes known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. This is an awful disease, 100% fatal, that medical science has made very little progress in combating over the last 70 odd years. The more people know about it, the more likely it is they might donate to medical research on ALS, or to one of the community groups that support sufferers and their families. The disease is a great burden on all, as it slowly removes one’s ability to speak, walk and finally to move at all (except eye movement). Obviously, we who suffer bear a high burden, but I wonder if that is not a lesser burden than that carried by our caregivers – family, friends and professionals who have to give up some of their lives to care for us and who have to watch their loved ones suffer.

Cassie:  My heart truly goes out to you and your family and friends.  I cannot imagine the range of emotions that you all must deal with every day.  I commend you for being such a strong voice for the ALS community, and I pray that one day there WILL be a cure! 

GL:  Do you have a favorite story from the anthology?

RW:  Not really a favorite. What I like about the anthology is that it straddles a wide variety of strong new fiction, showcasing some exciting talent.

GL:  What have you been working on most recently?  Anything new we have to look forward to?

RW:  Two things – one is a King project that I can’t talk about yet as it hasn’t been announced. The second is a graphic novel – my second such book, titled ‘Witch Hunts - A Graphic History of the Burning Times’. I co-authored this with Bram Stoker Award winner Lisa Morton and it’s illustrated by the rapidly up and coming author/illustrator Greg Chapman (an Aussie). It was very interesting conducting the research and understanding what drove the witch-persecution craze of the Middle Ages – greed, lust, misogyny, politics, religious schism; and to see the full circle the Christian church went through – from not believing in witches about 1150 through to not believing in them again by about 1650! In the meantime, thousands of women, and men, were tortured horribly and died ghastly deaths. We document the whole crazy episode and call out some of the men who were most responsible. McFarland (who also published my first graphic novel, Horrors!, will release the book about April.

Cassie:  I’m keeping an eye out for that King project.  It’ll make a great gift for my husband!

GL:  Do you enjoy gummy bears?

RW:  Not me!

Cassie:  I’m not a huge fan, either, but don’t tell Joel! J

Interview with Joel:
GL:  Who decided on the theme for this year’s anthology?

Joel:  That was a committee choice. We created a list of a few dozen ideas, and finally moved them all aside for 90 minutes to live, and a lock of hair. At first, there were quite a few questions whether we desired both themes or just one of them. The authors must have liked both, because nearly every entry had them woven into the narrative.

GL:  How did the decision to dedicate 90 Minutes to Live to Rocky come about?

JK:  That is a question for Chris, as I learned the good news when the dedication was made.

Chris says:  I wanted the anthology to be about a cause.  I will start doing that each year with our annual anthology and Rocky Wood is somebody I respect.  I wanted to do something for him so I decided to make this year's anthology about him.  He is an incredible man.
I just decided to do it.  :)

GL:  How many stories were submitted?

JK:  Close to sixty. We required a certain minimum number of words, and there were a few too short to include in the judging. I still read every one of them though. 

GL: Which genre received the most entries?

JK:  That was surprisingly even. Horror had the most, by just a very few. To my pleasure, we had a very strong showing in YA submissions and Fantasy as well.

GL:  How were the winning stories chosen?

JK:  That was less work than it might seem, even for a single judge with sixty entries to read. I had a perfect foundation from our 2011 Horror Competition, which awarded Brett J. Talley with his well-earned prize. We developed scoring sheets and tracking tools for that contest, and I just repeated the process. I could easily read several entries each day in the judging phase, as they were nearly all under 10,000 words.

I first began to read and score by the guidelines. That separated the top tier from the rest. I then began to look at them in terms of how the used the themes, and whether the story had any special qualities I really enjoyed as a reader. I was quickly in dire straits; they were all so very good.

Cassie:  I think I’d really enjoy judging short stories.  I think it would be easier to score and compare them.

GL:  Do you have a favorite?

JK:  Yes, I certainly do. It would not be fair to name it. Did it actually turn out to be the contest winner? No—because it really was too short to meet our minimum word count. It is a sublime little story though. A fairer question might be: did any of them surprise me? There was at least one in each category, which really turned me on my head as a reader. I found a couple of them shocking, too. We were thrilled to have that happen. But, readers will soon learn when they open the book; there are a gazillion ways to frighten people. Half of those will be shocking and in-your-face, and the other half will creep under your skin and give you nightmares a couple of days later…. You will find several in 90 Minutes to Live that are terrifying from any angle.

GL:  What’s next on the agenda for JournalStone?

JK:  We’ve barely put the ink to the pages of 90 Minutes to Live and are already in motion with our next Horror Novel Competition. 2012 will award another $2000 Grand Prize, and Brett J. Talley is on the panel to judge the entries. If you have been watching the catalog of published titles as it grew this year, you will have noticed a wide range of authors and themes are represented. We constantly seek and request submissions in Horror and Sci-Fi, our foundations, but are thrilled to receive so many good works in YA and Fantasy. We promise to publish the next outstanding book that we discover…

Cassie:  I can’t wait to read some of the horror competition entries! 

GL:  J When you eat a gummy bear, do you start with the head or the tail?  Which color is your favorite? J

JK:  Brilliant question! I’ve heard there are different flavors in the little buggers and I don’t believe it. No sane person eats a gummy bear; they eat gummy bears. Six to ten in a mouthful and perhaps a Mountain Dew chaser… Never stop until the bag is empty, then go get another bag. J

Cassie:  I think my teeth don’t like Gummy Bears, but I do enjoy a good, cold Mountain Dew!

Thanks guys!  This was so much fun and an incredible honor…

Rocky Wood is the author of an acclaimed series of books about the works of Stephen King, including the Bram Stoker Award nominated 'Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished', 'Stephen King: The Non-Fiction', and 'Stephen King: A Literary Companion'. He also writes graphic novels, including 'Horrors! Great Stories of Fear and Their Creators' and the upcoming 'Witch Hunts!' A publisher writer since the 1970s, he lives in Melbourne, Australia.

You can find Rocky and his work at:

Joel Kirkpatrick lives with his lovely wife and their two boys in Southwestern Colorado. He has authored four novels and is currently working to complete his fifth book. Not content with any one genre, he is attempting his first Alternative History, with very real characters. The research is driving him mad.

You can find Joel and his work at:

About ALS (Lou Gherig's Disease)
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually lead to their death. When the motor neurons  die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

If you would like to contribute to the advancement of ALS research you may help Rocky specifically by buying copies of 90 Minutes to Live and/or purchase items from his personal Stephen King collection  
and/or purchase copies of Rage Against the Night/(compiled by Shane Jiraiya Cummings).

You can also learn more about ALS and donate to the general cause through the ALS Association.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Sherlock Holmes:  A Game of Shadows
Directed by:  Guy Ritchie
Starring:  Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomie Rapace, Jared Harris
Released in theaters December 16, 2011

My Rating:  ★★★★★

In this second installment of the beloved Sherlock Holmes series, Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) is up against his long-time nemesis, Dr. James Moriarty (Jared Harris).  Before the world finds itself in war, the major players are lining up for big profits, and Dr. Moriarty is looking for his perfect spot.  Slowly, Holmes and Dr. Watson (Jude Law) piece the puzzle together and work with the gypsy Sim (Noomie Rapace) to take Moriarty down. 

Very often, moviegoers find that the sequel to a brilliant film isn’t quite as spectacular as its predecessor.  I am thrilled to say the second installment of the Sherlock Holmes movies does not fall into that category.  I might even say A Game of Shadows is even better than the first film! 

Robert Downey Jr. is a perfect Sherlock.  I love that they have made him much more humorous and a little on the risqué side with Dr. Watson, his ever-faithful, level-headed sidekick keeping him in check, for the most part.  I was surprised at how dark and menacing Harris was in the role of Moriarty.  And, I hate to say it, but I was actually glad to see one of the original actors disposed of early in the film.  I won’t say anything else and spoil it for you. 

This film is full of brilliant (and trademark Holmes) cinematography, action and adventure, but it certainly does not lack in humor either.  I literally laughed aloud several times during this movie, and I can’t wait for it to be released on blu-ray so we can enjoy it again and again.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

90 Minutes to Live

90 Minutes to Live
Compiled by Joel Kirkpatrick
ISBN:  9781936564330
Published December 2011 by JournalStone Publishing
Available Format: Paperback

My Rating:  ★★★★★

90 Minutes to Live is the 2011 edition of JournalStone’s annual short story anthology.  This year, the competing authors were given two themes that must be included in the stories:  a timed demise and a lock of hair.  From horror and science fiction to paranormal, fantasy and young adult, readers will find thirteen stunning tales sure to entertain.  You’re certain to find a favorite while you answer the question:  who will survive?

JournalStone has managed to find another group of extremely talented authors for this year’s anthology!  I’m sure they had to turn away a few as well.  I say, why not make several anthologies?!?  Alas, there is only one, and it is an amazing compilation, as always.  The majority of stories fall under the horror and sci-fi categories, but there are some notable fantasy, paranormal, and young adult submissions as well.  Some stories will completely creep you out while others leave you guessing; some will make you cry and some will give you a case of the giggles.  Either way, there is definitely something for everyone to love.

Grab yourself a copy of this fantastic anthology and finish out 2011 in a great way!

COMING SOON:  An interview with Joel Kirkpatrick and the anthology's dedicatee, Rocky Wood, HWA President and Stephen King expert...  Stay tuned!!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays/etc., etc., etc.....

It has been an incredible year, and I want to thank each and every one of you for all your encouragement and support!  My life is crazy hectic now, but I love every minute of it because I love what I do!!!  

I want to wish you all the best holiday ever, and I hope you wrap up the year with lots of warmth, good health, love, and all sorts of blessings!

You guys are the BEST!!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Heven & Hell Blog Tour - Cambria is here!!!

In just two very short days the little ones will be waking up to find someone very special has all know who I'm talking about...  And today, someone very special has dropped by (No, it's not Santa...)...  Cambria is here again!  Woohoo!!  

Cambria Hebert is traveling all over the virtual world promoting the release of her debut novel Masquerade (maybe you've heard me mention it a time or two...) during the Heven & Hell Blog Tour.  And today she is gracing us with her glorious presence.

Cambria was here a few weeks ago when "Before" (the prequel to Masquerade) and "Whiteout" (a kick-ass Christmas story) were released, and we had ourselves a fun little Q&A session.  You can go back and check that out HERE.

You can also find my review of her fantabulous novel HERE.

Today, Cambria is sharing a little mischievous holiday spirit with us all and telling us about another one of her many talents.  I hope you all enjoy!

The year I was forced to be Sneaky
By:  Cambria Hebert

Hey peeps!

So glad to be here today at Gathering Leaves – thanks so much to my JournalJabber bud and also BETA reader for Masquerade for having me by today!

So what are we going to be talking about today? In honor of Christmas, which is right around the corner, I want to share a Christmas mission with you. That’s right a mission. You see, I have this talent (ahem – yes one of many, he he he) a talent of being able to look at a Christmas gift addressed to me and knowing exactly what it is. No I am not making this up. It’s true. Ask my husband. He never sneaks anything by me. It’s actually pretty uncanny. It doesn’t matter if he wraps it in something oddly shaped – I know what it is. Every. Single. Time.

I’ve been able to do this since I was a kid. At first, I just started doing it in my head to see if I could. Years went by and I was always right. Then I told my husband and he never believed me. So one year I pointed out every gift he got me and told him exactly what it was. He believes me now.

But there was one year that I got a gift that I had NO idea what it was. To say that it drove me insane is an understatement. You see, it was wrapped all nice and pretty underneath my Mommom’s tree (that’s what I call my grandmother) and it would blatantly stare me in the face – challenging me! I had to take measures into my own hands.

I was a only a teenager at this time (under 15) and so I had to be sneaky because I was never left alone at my mommom’s. But the tree was downstairs and I went down there all the time alone. It was a square gift of medium size – there was nothing out of ordinary about it – in fact it was very ordinary. First, I started out by picking up and shaking it. It made no sound. It wasn’t in a box  (like clothes). It wasn’t a toy. I hadn’t asked for anything that could be that shape or size. I shook it, I rubbed it, I scratched at it, I squished it – heck I even smelled it.

Nothing. Nada. Zip.

I would sit and watch TV and all the while that naughty gift would stare me in the face! Finally I said “Enough!”

I snuck upstairs to the kitchen and got a knife. (No, I did not stab my present) A butter knife. I went stealthily downstairs and grabbed the gift. Note: I had to be extra quiet so I didn’t get caught snooping. I silently slid the knife beneath the tape on the end that held the wrapping paper down. It popped up and I unwrapped the end and looked in.

Voila! I had it!

It was a blanket.


It was a very nice blanket.

So satisfaction was mine. That gift was no match for me and my knife.

Silently I wrapped that end back up and luckily the tape stuck back down and it looked as if I never touched it all.

When I opened it Christmas Day I acted surprised.

Now that I think about it. This might be the reason for my “ability”…all other gifts know if they don’t reveal themselves they will find me coming after them with a knife.

Muh ha ha ha ha!!

Merry Christmas everyone!

(And yes this is a true story – I couldn’t make this up if I tried)

Oh wow!  That is funny :-)...

Thanks so much for stopping by again, Cambria!  We love having you, so be sure to come back anytime! :-)

Now, here's all the deets for Mrs. Hebert:


Smashwords (FREE for a limited time)
B&N (FREE for a limited time)


Christmas Lites:

Where to find Cambria:

Cambria is also generously offering up an ecopy of Masquerade to one very lucky follower! Please use the form below to enter.  Good Luck!