Saturday, March 31, 2012

Feature: Katie's Hellion by Lizzy Ford - Rhyn Trilogy Blog Tour

I'm really excited to be hosting the beautiful Lizzy Ford for her Rhyn Trilogy Blog Tour!  Lizzy just released the third installment of the trilogy, Rhyn's Redemption, so you can go ahead and grab all three and gobble them all up at once!

Today, I'll be sharing my review of book one of the trilogy, Katie's Hellion.  Be on the lookout for reviews of the other novels as soon as I can squeeze them into my crazy schedule!

Tomorrow, April 1st, be sure to come back by and get to know Lizzy better as she hangs out with me for a little Q&A...

Katie’s Hellion (Rhyn Trilogy #1)
By Lizzy Ford
ISBN:  9781463542825
Published May 27, 2011
Available Format: Paperback, ebook

My Rating: ★★★★

I’ve had some pretty insane days, but I think Katie has me beat.  Already running late for work, she is pulled over by a cop happy to fill his quota just with her inconsequential crimes.  Then, suddenly, her world is completely rocked when a five-year-old immortal is dropped into her life, escorted by Death’s right hand man.  She wasn’t supposed to remember her life before, but she does—and that sends up quite a few red flags for the Ancients. 

When fate lands her in prison with one of the Seven brothers, Rhyn, she is forced to accept that life as she knew it is no longer a reality.  Katie finds herself in a twisted relationship with the black sheep of the Ancient family, who claims her as his mate, both in desire and for revenge.  Will he be able to protect her from all those who want to use her to destroy the world? And will Katie ever find a way to trust Rhyn?

Holy bad guys!  I don’t know what it is, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a girl that could honestly say that a guy like Rhyn didn’t at least tickle her curiosity a bit.  Yeah, he can be a real jerk sometimes, but every single one of us thinks if we could just work on him a little, we could chip away all that rough exterior and find that soft heart hiding underneath.  Alas, that’s Katie’s job in this novel.  We can only dream…

I bet you think Rhyn is my favorite character… Well, actually, I’m leaning more toward Gabriel!  Must be the dark, quiet, mysterious qualities he possesses.  That and it seems he knows how to handle the kids as well.  Katie is such a relatable, likable character. She is funny and sarcastic and kind of just rolls with the punches, as crazy or terrible as they may be. She compliments Rhyn very well, and her dynamic with each of the characters is written perfectly (Oh, there’s an angel of death in my living room. I think I’ll throw back a shot and hit the sheets… J). 

This novel is full of great characters and a great, entertaining story line.  There is a lot going on.  There are a lot of new ideas introduced. So, I think there could have been just a little more fleshing out of the different characters and their worlds.  I think that might have helped give it a little more depth and give the reader some time to wrap their minds around everything that is going on. 

But, by the second half of the book, you’re so absorbed in the story (and Rhyn *giggle*), there’s no turning back. This book may not exactly have the happy ending you’re hoping for, but you will definitely want to have book two on hand to begin right away!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Guest Post: 5 Tips for Building an Author Platform by Dana Sitar

TGIF, right?  

Today, Ms. Dana Sitar is stopping by with an info-packed guest post for you all.  In case you missed my review of her newest book, The Hart Compound, you can find that HERE.

5 Tips for Building an Author Platform
by Dana Sitar

Whether traditional or self-publishing, you're going to need readers. You have a number of avenues already available to you for connecting with potential readers and building your platform before you begin your first book. Establishing a following in your niche will help guide you in the development of your work and will eventually be necessary when you are ready to pitch it to editors and agents. 

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Develop a following through writing. Start with your greatest strength.You might not be able to get people to take the chance and buy your book, or convince them to even crack it if you're giving it away for free. So, give them a way to sample your skills first.
-Submit short stories in your genre, or articles on topics in your niche, to magazines, blogs, and websites.
-Write a blog! Create a community, and give readers a way to follow what you're up to.
-Write booklets of short stories or additional info on your expertise, and give them away.

2. Utilize your connections. Know who you know and what they have the power to do for you and your book. Keep track of all of the people you're in contact with in your field, because once you have a book to sell, they can help spread the word to their contacts and give you advice from their experiences. Consider:
-Well-known authors in your genre
-Experts in your field
-Leaders of organizations related to your field or topic
-Bookstore managers
-College professors
-Active public speakers
-Magazine or newspaper editors (online or in print)
-Influential book bloggers

3. Know how to use technology. Don't miss out on opportunities to gain followers because you're unfamiliar with social networking and blogging. The first thing any potential reader will do when they hear about you or your book is google you. A few things I note when I check out authors online:
-Email address -- Use Gmail or your custom domain, not Yahoo!, AOL, hotmail, or the default from your internet service provider. Use your real name if you can.
-Website/Blog -- Ensure that I can find out exactly what you do, what you've done, and how to contact you.  Create blog content that offers a value to your readers that they'll want to return for.
-Social networks -- Have at least a public Facebook profile or an author page AND a Twitter account. Use your real name as your handle if you can.

4. Narrow your focus. Not everyone will like your book, but some people will like it a lot. Figure out who your ideal reader is, then figure out how to reach them. Answer these questions:
-WHO are they (demographically)?
-WHAT are their interests?
-WHY do they want to read your book?
-WHERE do they look for new books?
-HOW can you build a presence in those places?

5. Create a plan and set goals. How many books do you want to sell? By when do you want to reach that goal? Make a calendar that includes the steps needed to meet those goals on time, and create lists of people and resources that you can use along the way. I have lists for marketing my books that include:
-Websites with links to my book
-Coupon codes and giveaway links
-Important writing and publicity contacts
-Book bloggers, agents, and writers to follow
-Communities of authors online
-Internet memes and Twitter trends to be involved in

What tips can you add for building a platform, or growing your existing platform?

Author Bio

Dana Sitar is a freelance journalist and author of the ongoing memoir series This Artists’ Life. Her latest release, The Hart Compound, follows the writer to her journalistic roots as Senior Campaign Writer to a Mayoral campaign headed by two Madison, Wisconsin comedians. Dana shares writing tips and anecdotes at her blog by.dana.sitar. She is @danasitar on Twitter.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Feature: The Hart Compound by Dana Sitar

Is it just me or does it seem like this week has just crawled by so far?  I'm sure it has nothing to do with it being spring break and having my oldest home all day. :-)  Nah, he's not so bad.  All three together, though.......

Anyway, today's feature is The Hart Compound by Dana Sitar.  Dana will be by tomorrow, March 30th, with a guest post for you all.  Today, I'm giving ya my review. :-)

The Hart Compound (This Artist's Life, Vol Two)
by Dana Sitar
Expected Publication: April 1, 2012
Available Format: ebook

My Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis:  When aspiring writer Dana Sitar joins comedians Nick Hart and Stefan Davis in their Mayoral campaign in Madison, Wisconsin, she is set on a path of professional and personal self-discovery. Her news articles and personal short stories introduce a unique cache of artists through the eye of an emerging Gonzo journalist.

This sequel to Welcome to the Shit Show sees the writer finding her voice, both artistically and emotionally. She leaves her broken life behind her and discovers an unlikely home in the depths of Madison, Wisconsin's comedy scene. In the comedians, Dana finds inspiration for life as an artist, a wealth of stories to write, a part of herself she didn't know she was hiding, and even a new lover.

When I began this compilation, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into.  I quickly realized that this was raw, witty, real life stuff.  Dana easily pulled me into the waves of her world—the pain and awkwardness of her divorce, her immersion in the Madison comedy scene, her exploration into new relationships.  One minute I was biting my nails; the next I was giggling to myself. 

I did get a little ‘off track’ when things moved into the mayoral race and all that political stuff.  Please don’t misunderstand, everything is written very well; it’s just not really my thing. Her style and humor are definitely still there. I think we probably have the same feelings about the screwed up agenda of the media! J I’m just the kind of person that is more interested in the individual’s life rather than bigger social issues (it’s a psychology thing).  I’m glad the book started out more personal or it might have been harder for me to get into it.

Overall, this was a good read.  It certainly isn’t for everyone, but I know there is definitely an audience out there that will LOVE it.  If you like down-to-earth, real life writing with plenty of entertainment woven in, absolutely pick up a copy and try it out for yourself!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Feature: Just Nonsense by Melynda Fleury

Hey folks!  I have a special guest post today.  A friend (Jenn from The Blog Starts Here) emailed me earlier in the month and asked if I'd help spread the word about this book.  The author has lost her eyesight to diabetes, which is only one thing on a list of struggles. Yet, she plows right through it all with the best weapon--humor!  

EC Stilson wrote up this guest post promoting Melynda's book (a compilation of her blogs)...  I wanted to have a review for you, but I have just been so busy lately, I haven't had time to read it just yet.

Please get yourself a copy (or ten) of her book and help support her and her family!

Just Nonsense
by Melynda Fleury
Guest Post by EC Stilson

Melynda from Crazy World lost her eyesight.  We're very good friends and her loss broke my heart. If you don't know what I'm talking about, please go here:

She's gone legally blind in BOTH eyes, had surgery after surgery, gotten depressed, the list goes on.  To top things off, a few weeks ago, Melynda lost her house. Then, Meaghan (her daughter) almost died from a cyst that attached itself to an artery and leaked! Now this. Melynda is obviously sad about losing her driver's license and independence. She WILL conquer this and diabetes, though; she's a survivor.
Her strength and resolve astound me. I'll never forget when someone tried breaking into my house. Melynda stayed up all night guarding my house from across the street.  She couldn't see, but still said she'd 'watch' AND listen. I laughed thinking she was joking, but come to find out, she was serious. That woman stayed in her driveway ready to fight Lucifer if she had to.  

I asked her about it later. "Why did you stay up? I know you couldn't see."
"So what if I couldn't see them! THEY could see me. I can't imagine someone trying to break in when someone else seems to be sitting there watching."  

That's just Mel, classy and brilliant all the time.  Any time I was sick, she'd make me food. I swear I'd sneeze and she'd make me a lasagna. Sneezing led to a good time!   
The point is, she's really been there for me--and she's epic--but right now it's my turn to be there for her!
Months ago I begged her to find her favorite blog posts she wrote last year. We put a book together, planned on editing it. I created a cover and formatted it. 

Here's what we came up with:


It was getting closer, but her eyesight went downhill fast after that and she never got to really "SEE" her book.  Instead of her book getting published, Melynda forgot about it and thought it another dream just shattered. . . .
So, why am I here, telling you this sad story?  Because it has a happy ending!
Melynda's first book has been released!!!  And just between the internet and me . . .  I think she's pretty thrilled with the surprise.  Joshua (fromVive le Nerd), Fishducky (the goddess of awesomeness) and I edited Melynda's book. We've surprised her with it, but the excitement doesn't stop there. You can buy her work on Amazon, for kindle, and on Smashwords!    
Thanks to all of your support and generosity, Melynda's book, Just Nonsense made it to the 5th best selling book for family humor on Amazon last weekend! She made some money to buy supplies she needs.  But more than that, her book is spreading like wild fire--so many people love it.
Isn't it amazing how helping someone can bring so much joy, so much peace?!  We started this hoping to cheer her up and now she's a best seller. 
The battle isn't over and she's still trying to learn how to live life without her sight, but she's getting there and I'm so proud to call her my friend.  Please check out Just Nonsense.  She can still use all the support she can get.  I hope you'll love her book as much as I do.
If you'd like to add this to your to-read list, please go here:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Hunger Games (movie)

Hello y'all!  I'm going to do this review a little different... A bit less formal than usual...  I'm super busy (and super tired) and I really want to get this done on opening weekend, so here ya go!

My Rating:


Hubby and I had a "day date" to see The Hunger Games and have lunch together to kinda kick off my birthday weekend (which, actually, I don't have big plans for... hahaha!).  We went to the nicest theater in our area, which offers balcony seating for ages 21 and over (and they make the BEST Lemon Drops! :-)).  So, in addition to having nice leather seats and delicious refreshments, it was basically squealy teenager free.  There might have been a few school-skippers below decks, but they were quiet.  LOL

Speaking of squealy teenagers, The Hunger Games, while obviously popular, doesn't necessarily strike me as one of "those" movies. The overall theme is extremely serious, and yes, there are lots of nice-looking young people involved.  But, hey, they're covered in mud and grime, with oozing wounds. We're not talking sparkly vampires here (which I happen to like as well :-)). This is a tough situation for these kids to deal with and potentially very thought-provoking, if viewers want to pay that much attention.  I actually think some good lessons could be learned through the struggle for life, both in the starving districts and in the arena.

Another aspect that impressed me was how well the writers of the film were able to stick to Collins' original manuscript.  There are a couple notable differences: the origin of the mockingjay pin and the expansion on the influences and politics of the Capitol.  In the book, we mostly get things from Katniss's point of view, through her eyes and thoughts.  So, we don't know that much about what is going on behind the scenes in the Capitol.  The film really expands on their role and how they directly affect the inner workings of the Games.  We get to see some of the true character of the Gamemakers and especially President Snow.  I loved the way the ending involved those two. :-)

The mockingjay pin discrepancy mostly has to do with introducing more characters and another storyline, which most films just don't have the time for.  There was one other part of the story that went along those lines, but I won't discuss it so I don't spoiler anything for anyone who hasn't read the book.

I think casting was pretty spot on.  Of course, I wish we had more time in the District so we could get to know them better, particularly Gale.  I haven't had time to read past the first book, but I'm guessing we get a lot more of that later on.

There aren't any crazy special effects.  I mean, they have to come up with some interesting technical things for the Gamemakers and the workings of the Capitol, but the cinematography was pretty simple (good, but not flashy) and the focus is really on the characters themselves, which is great for this film.

Overall, I think one of the best book-to-film adaptations I've seen.  I'm already an HG fan, so of course the story is great.  Read the book--if you like the book, you will like the movie :-)...

Have a GREAT weekend!