Friday, November 1, 2013

There is No "I" in Writing

There is no "I" in writing. 

Okay, so maybe there is...technically, but I'm talking about that old adage "There is no "I" in Team." 

Today, I attended my weekly writers group where we struck up the conversation about editing. Sure, we've said it before, but another member and I were discussing how vital it is to have other eyes look at your work. 

I take pride in my editing skills. I'm decent at grammar and can pinpoint some issues with a storyline or character in my own work, but despite any skills I may have or may think I have, I depend on others to make my writing better. 

My process goes something like this:
1. Write rough draft.
2. Begin adding deeper story elements, add chapters where I think there should be.
3. Do point 2 again.
4. Do point 2 a couple more times until it feels finished.
5. Do another pass or two to focus on grammar and wording/phrasing.
6. Give the manuscript to my first round betas. These include: my sister-in-law, Jeanine; my good friend and English teacher, Bri; my librarian friend, Tracy; and a former member of my teen writers group, Danielle, who focus on big picture/content edits.
7. Insert/decide upon all suggested edits.
8. Send it out to round 2 betas, including fellow authors, Penelope King and Celeste Holloway, who help me with phrasing and grammar.
9. When it's finally ready, I send it to Mr. Agent Man and get more edits! 

This doesn't include the newer betas I'm acquiring through my writers group (Rell), nor does it include all the readers who've given me over all feedback or the crew of encouragers and cheerleaders in my family, church and community.

Without these people, my writing is nothing. So I'd like to say a HUGE thank you to all of you.

I must ask, who is your writing team? Is there a bevy of people who encourage you? Do you have people tucked in your back pocket to use for specific jobs?

Lastly, I want you all to remember, there is no "I" in writing...oh, wait...maybe... OH nevermind!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Black Hellebore--Nicole Zoltack

Hello all! Would you please welcome Nicole Zoltack to RBTL today.

 Nicole has a new book coming out October 21, and it sounds awesome! She's here today to tell us all about it. 

Thank you so much for hosting me today, Jessie!

BLACK HELLEBORE is a superhero romance. Nicholas Adams loved Justina Paige more than anything else in the world. When she died, he basically ruined his life. Every year, he returned to her grave and place a black hellebore flower on her grave. A decade later, Justina’s twin, Julianna, finds him at her sister’s grave.

Now the twins may have looked identical – blond hair, blue eyes, slender builds, five foot seven – but the similarities ended there.

Justina was the more adventurous one out of the two, striving to have fun at all costs. She had a tendency to be reckless and never followed the rules. She never knew what she wanted to be when she grew up and thought the world was gray. Or rainbow colored. Justina and Nick constantly got into trouble, and she loved him.

Julianna was more studious. She always followed the rules…until Nick shows back up in Falledge. She grew up wanting to be a reporter and viewed the world in black and white. Justine and Nick were her best friends. Now, she’s trying to get Nick and the straight and narrow. And trying not to fall for someone she’ll always consider her sister’s.

Nicholas never thought he’d be able to move on past Justina’s death. And he definitely didn’t intend to start thinking of Julianna as more than a friend. He’s stuck and doesn’t know what to do.

Are you more like Julianna or Justina?

Book and Author Information for Nicole Zoltack

Author Information:
Twitter @nicolezoltack:

Nicole Zoltack loves to write fantasy/paranormal, romances, horror, historical, for adults and young adults, novels, short stories, and flash pieces. She doesn't want to get boxed in by genre -- she might be claustrophobic! She's also an editor for MuseItUp Publishing and works as a freelance editor.
When she isn't writing about girls wanting to be knights, talking unicorns, and zombies, she spends time with her loving family. She loves to ride horses (pretending they're unicorns, of course!) and going to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, dressed in period garb. Her favorite current TV show is The Walking Dead.
To learn more about Nicole and her work, visit her website at or her blog at
Book Information:

Coming Soon:
Black Hellebore, first in a new superhero romance trilogy - Heroes of Falledge
Release in ebook format: October 21st 2013
Release in print: January 2014
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
ISBN 10: 1-61252-363-3
ISBN 13: 978-1-61252-363-7


Once a year for the past decade, Nicholas Adams returns to Falledge and leaves a black hellebore on his girlfriend's grave. While departing Falledge, he chases after a man sneaking into the laboratory and dies for his trouble. A witch brings him back to life, but Nicholas soon realizes he's not the same man. Turns out, magic combined with a black hellebore in his pocket changed him into a kind of a super man.

His girlfriend's twin, Julianna Paige, is Falledge's deputy, struggling to solve several murders. Nicholas, and his alter ego the Black Hellebore, helps her, even as she helps him move on and even start to love again.

Unfortunately, Nicholas wasn't the only one changed in the laboratory explosion, and now there's a supervillain bent on destroying Falledge, and killing the Black Hellebore. But falling in love might prove more dangerous than any supervillain.

Woman of Honor (Kingdom of Arnhem trilogy, book 1)
Available formats: ebook and paperback
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
ISBN-10: 1-936000-03-2
ISBN 13: 978-1-936000-03-6

Aislinn of Bairbhe dreams of becoming a lady knight to honor the death of her fallen brother. To her mother's horror, King Patrick grants Aislinn's wish and she begins her long years of training.

Despite the mockery of the other pages, and the disdain of Prince Caelan who also trains to be a knight, Aislinn commits herself to her dreams and embarks on a journey of self-discovery and bravery. Through the years, Aislinn and Caelan grow from sparring classmates to good friends. They both know that someday Caelan will marry for the sake of the kingdom, but even that cannot keep them from falling in love. 

The threat of war with the Speicans is a constant threat, and one that grows more frightening as she and Caelan train toward their eventual knighthood. Aislinn has committed herself to serving Arnhem, and has promised herself as King's Champion when Caelan claims the throne. She is willing to give up everything... her childhood, her life, even her heart for Arnhem. No matter the pain it brings.

Purchase links for Woman of Honor:

Knight of Glory (Kingdom of Arnhem trilogy, book 2)
Available formats: ebook and paperback
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
ISBN-10: 1-936000-49-0
ISBN 13: 978-1-936000-49-4

Ranulf, the Speican lord, is dead, and Arnhem is safe, or so the Arnhemians believe.

Sir Geoffrey and his companions have just completed a mission for Queen Aislinn when he receives word of the Speicans attacking Arnhem. Geoffrey and his party, which now includes exile Jenanna, split up and rush to different kingdoms to ask for aid. Even as he fights for his kingdom and his life, Geoffrey finds himself torn between his new friend Jenanna and the mysterious lady Celestia he left behind in Arnhem.

Enlisting help is infinitely more difficult than they anticipated and to make matters worse, rumors abound that the Speicans have enlisted a mage to work unspeakable, forbidden magic. The war between Speica and Arnhem has just begun. Will Geoffrey survive the battle to live another day and discover which woman he truly loves?

Purchase links for Knight of Glory:

Champion of Valor (Kingdom of Arnhem trilogy, book 3)
Available formats: ebook and paperback
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
ISBN-10: 1-61252-035-9
ISBN 13: 978-1-61252-035-3

The war between Specia and Arnhem now reaches the sea after the selkies discover the Mystical Conch Shell of the Sea has been stolen. Selliki the selkie sets out to find it, and Gabrael, the mage she loves. No union between a selkie and a human has ever had a happy ending, but neither can ignore their feelings. Each night, they experience terrible, real dreams that show how doomed their love is. Add the war, and their love is impossible. Only one kingdom will prevail; that is, if the world doesn't end.

Purchase links for Champion of Valor:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Review-- Everbound--Brodi Ashton. Guest blogger: Danielle Raymond.

My good friend Danielle loves to read, and she's incredibly opinionated (I love you, Danielle! :) ), so it's only right that I put her in charge of reviews on RBTL. So, here's one she gave me a while ago. Enjoy.

By Brodi Ashton
358 pages
            Beneath our world lies another. It is the Underworld – but not as we know it. Instead, this is where the immortal live, and where they take their victims – their Forfeits – to feed on them for a hundred years.
            Welcome to the Everneath.
            It is an unforgiving world of madness and brutality – a living world that requires human sacrifice to fuel its existence. These sacrifices generally come in the form of used Forfeits, people who have no loved ones to say goodbye to, who willingly give themselves up to the Tunnels - the Everneath’s energy source. The Tunnels steal a body’s energy until there is none left. Those Forfeits who survive the Feed and return to the surface world only have a few months to make amends and say farewells before the Tunnels come for them.
            This is a world that Nikki Beckett is all too familiar with after being fed on by Cole, an Everliving who now refuses to leave her alone. He believes she is meant to rule as the new Queen of the Everneath, with him as her King.
            But Nikki wants nothing to do with Cole, and nothing to do with the Everneath. All she does want is Jack – the one who helped her survive the Feed by dreaming of her, and the only boy she’s ever loved.
            The whole process is happening again. Only difference is that now Nikki is the one keeping Jack alive by dreaming of him. Because when the Tunnels came, Jack took her place in the Everneath.
            And she’s not sure if she can live with the guilt and the crushing helplessness.
            Determined to get Jack back, Nikki forces Cole’s hand in helping her navigate the Everneath. Together, they go on an impossible mission to save Jack before it’s too late. But Cole has betrayed Nikki before, and she is in more danger than she realizes.
            I have to say, this sequel to Everneath is almost better than its predecessor. The emotions are just as intense in both of them, but it’s the ending of Everbound that really sold me on it. There are twists in this story that I never saw coming. And the cliffhanger Ashton leaves you with is so much worse than the first book. You will have a serious book hangover after this.
            Not only that, but I really appreciated the development of Nikki’s character. Before she seemed kind of flimsy, like a brisk wind might blow her over. In this book, we see her become determined, brave, angry. She is a heroine doing what she must to get back the boy she loves – forget the consequences. Nikki literally goes through Hell and back to rescue Jack. She is a modern day Orpheus – only, a bit more successful.
            And I would have to say that’s because she knows her stuff. Nikki proves her mettle by knowing more about the ways of the Everneath than even the Everliving do. I have to respect a girl who does her research. And there was a lot of research – not only the mythology of Ancient Greece and Egypt, but the writings of Dante as well. Elements of all these things can be seen in the series.
            Honestly, I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. The end of Everbound was awash in darkness, deceit, and promises of sweet revenge.
            And there’s nothing I love more than good old-fashioned revenge.

            4/5 stars

Friday, August 30, 2013

Cover Reveal: Forty Nights-- Stephanie Parent.

Please welcome back Stephanie Parent who's celebrating her cover reveal for Forty Nights. I read one of Stephanie's other books, Defy the Stars. It was awesome, so I'm sure these are too! 

Forty Nights (Neima's Ark #2)
Release Date: September 2013
Cover Designed by: 
Najla Qamber Designs

Summary from Goodreads:
Neima, her family, and her grandfather Noah have found themselves trapped aboard an ark as a great flood destroys all life in the world. As their time aboard the ark lengthens, food begins to run out, wild animals grow restless, and family tensions become as much of a threat as the flood outside. In the second and final installment of Neima’s Ark, the stakes are higher, the conflicts are greater, and Neima finds herself facing a choice as impossible as the destruction all around her.

Forty Nights is a continuation of the story begun in Forty Days, and it’s recommended that you read Forty Days first for the best experience. Forty Nights does, however, contain a character guide to refresh readers’ memories. The Neima’s Ark series is a historical, feminist reimagining of the story of Noah’s Ark rather than a religiously oriented one, and the novels are best suited for readers who are comfortable with new interpretations of biblical stories.

Book One:
(Linked to Goodreads)
Forty Days is currently FREE!  Get your copy!
 photo 111AD205-AA04-4F9E-A0F4-C1264C4E9F30-1855-000001A1E8CEB6D7_zps9b730b94.jpg  photo KoboIcon_zps515cdc1a.jpg  photo smashwordsicon_zps931b0409.jpg

About the Author
Stephanie Parent is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC and attended the Baltimore School for the Arts as a piano major. She moved to Los Angeles because of Francesca Lia Block's WEETZIE BAT books, which might give you some idea of how much books mean to her. She also loves dogs, books about dogs, and sugary coffee drinks both hot and cold.
***Author Links***
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Monday, August 19, 2013

Bringing Characters to Life

I was a first hand witness to something strange today. I literally saw characters come to life. And I'm not using the word literally as hyperbole. Here's the scoop: - I love that we can talk about fictional characters as if they were real and you still think I'm sane.
Recently my author friend, Jay Mims, guest posted on this blog for his book, Five Santas. His main character is a private investigator named Dan Landis. Well, today I got one of those emails that tells me I have a new comment on my blog post. Here's what it said:


My name is Dan Landis , I am a private investigator here in the state of Idaho and have owned an agency for 8 years. I thought it was so cool to see you wrote a book about me. I would love to meet you. Look me up sometime at D.L. Investigating llc. here in Idaho. 
Dan Landis PI.

I thought it was Jay joking with me. Come to find out, there's a real PI in Idaho named Dan Landis. I think Jay Mims has some sort of magic mojo to bring his characters literally to life. I wish I could do that! 

The idea got me thinking. What is it that makes our characters real, so real that teenage girls fall in love with them or so real that readers feel contempt for the antagonist and go around talking about him or her wherever they go? I know I've done it. I've read characters that became so real to me that I treated them like real people. 

1. Dialogue. I think one thing that makes characters real, at least for me, is dialogue. Can I tell a character's personality from the way they speak? Can I identify them by only reading their speech? So when I'm writing, I try to make sure that each person has a particular way of speaking.  

2. Actions. I'm talking the little actions. Those tiny idiocyncrasies that make a person real. Like the way my dad twists his moustache between thumb and forefinger when he's reading. Or how my mom will wipe her hands on a dish towel and carelessly toss the wet rag over her shoulder. These little details, interspersed throughout a book make the characters more realistic.

3. Flaws. Let's face it, nobody's perfect and if our character comes across to the reader as the perfect little kid or the stereotypical whatever, it's fake. The reader will see right through that. So no matter how 'goody two shoes' girl X is, she must have something that will bring out a devilish side of her. Or maybe that mild mannered guy who seems to have everything together is really impulsive and it's that impulsivity that gets him into the conflict. 

So readers, what is it for you? What makes characters so real they jump right off the page? For me, I'm going to start talking to Jay Mims to see what his secret is. After all, I've never had my characters contact me online!

Check out Jay's book. 

The Five Santas
Dan Landis is slumming it as a security guard at a department store. The money’s nice, but he also made sure Abbey has a job in the gift wrapping department. Dan chases a thief into the alleyway, only to discover the body of Santa Claus stuffed behind a dumpster. One body leads to another, and pretty soon Dan’s up to his ears in Yule Tide murder. He’s hired to protect the department store Santa, who appears to be more then meets the eye, but as the bodies keep piling up, Dan begins to smell something rotten in Denmark. Abbey being arrested might have something to do with that.

Open Book Society says “The author, Jay Mims, offers the reader a charming protagonist, whose wittiness defends against the violence surrounding him.”
Author Elizabeth Seckman says, “If you miss Moonlighting with Bruce Willis, you'll want to meet Dan Landis.”
And Jean The Book Nerd says, “Mims has provided us a great holiday/murder mystery story that is surely appreciated.”

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cover Reveal-- Switched-- Cassie Mae

I'm very excited to have Cassie Mae on RBTL for the first time. Cassie and I met in an online group for authors. Let's celebrate with her as she reveals her new cover for SWITCHED, coming out in December of 2013 from Random House FLIRT.


Cassie Mae redefines the New Adult genre with a novel that answers the eternal question: What do you do when you’re head-over-heels for your best friend’s guy?

Ever since high school, Kayla has been crazy for gorgeous football player Talon. But before she could muster the courage to tell him, he became a hot item with her beautiful BFF, Reagan. The only person who knows Kayla’s secret is Wesley, Talon’s best bud—and he’s got it bad for Reagan. Now they’re all in college together, hanging out 24/7. For Kayla, seeing the two lovebirds together is absolutely unbearable. So Kayla and Wesley hatch a plot to drive them apart. But time is ticking and they must act now, before Talon gives Reagan the Christmas gift she’s been waiting for.

Sure enough, the once-happy couple is fighting, Reagan suddenly can’t get enough of Wesley’s goofy sense of humor, and Talon seems to be paying more attention to Kayla than a guy who’s “just a friend” ever should. But something just isn’t right. Then Kayla and Wesley accidentally spend a night together, and discover a hitch they never considered: that switching partners may not lead to a perfect ending after all.

About The Author:

Cassie Mae is a nerd to the core from Utah, who likes to write about other nerds who find love. She’s the author of the Amazon Bestseller REASONS I FELL FOR THE FUNNY FAT FRIEND, and is the debut author for the Random House FLIRT line with her New Adult novels FRIDAY NIGHT ALIBI and SWITCHED. She also has a three book deal with Swoon Romance Publishing, including her book HOW TO DATE A NERD. She spends time with her angel children and perfect husband who fan her and feed her grapes while she clacks away on the keyboard. Then she wakes up from that dream world and manages to get a few words on the computer while the house explodes around her. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with the youth in her community as a volleyball and basketball coach, or searching the house desperately for chocolate.

Purchase Link:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

AT WHAT COST Book trailer

I'm giddy today because I get to share with you something amazing! My friend, Travis of Travis Carlson Productions, created a wonderful, beautiful, heartfelt (there aren't enough adjectives to describe it) book trailer for AT WHAT COST. And now, I get to share it with you.

See, I told you it was fantastic! A huge thank you goes to Travis for his hard work in creating the trailer. If you're an author and want to contact Travis, here's his information:

Please share on your social newtworks.

You can find AT WHAT COST on

Barnes and Noble
and Astraea Press

Monday, July 22, 2013

Deception of Devin Miller-- Kelly Martin

Welcome back, Kelly Martin. She'd like to tell you a little about her new book.

 Today is the release day for mynew book THE DECEPTION OF DEVIN MILLER! I’d love for you to check it out. It’s only 99 cents until Saturday as an early bird special and also as a thank you. On Saturday, it’ll go to its regular price, $2.99. Be sure to tell your friends and neighbors about Devin. Thanks for having me here on release day! Enjoy the excerpt from chapter one.

Who would you trust if you didn’t know anybody, but they all knew you?

Chapter One

I heard the voices but couldn't place them in the darkness.
Your prom dress is in! You'll look fab when your bruises disappear.
Cooper feels really bad, you know? Wake up so he can stop moping.
What were you thinking?
Come on, Sweetie. Open your eyes for me.
You got what you deserved. You get that, right?
I hate being here. Seriously? You couldn't have waited for my side of the story? Of all the people to be stuck with…
I couldn't move, couldn't answer any of them. I tried but everything felt so strange like I was at the bottom of a pool after diving from the board. Voices were muffled and came in and out. I didn't know how long I'd been in the darkness, but I knew I wanted out.
One day, the dark water started swirling around me. Like coming up after a dive, the current roared in my ears. Rising to the surface, I opened my eyes and gasped for air that didn't immediately come.
Everything was blurry. I had no idea where I was. All I knew was there was something shoved down my throat keeping me from breathing, and I fought to jerk it out. How in the world could I breathe better beneath the surface than I could with my head above water?
"Hey, calm down. Stop pulling it," a distorted male voice echoed in my ears. I felt pressure on my arms as if something was holding me down. Terrified that this thing was going to hurt me, I fought harder.
"Stop," the voice ordered more firmly. "Quit! Ugh… I'll go get the doctor."
Nothing made sense after that. People ran in with distorted eyes telling me not to freak out. They didn't look human with their twisted faces and larger than average foreheads. I'd been abducted by aliens?
"We're going to get this out of you, okay?" someone said, a man by the sound of his deep, raspy voice, while standing over me and holding the tube coming from my throat. It was uncomfortable to say the least, and I gagged as it slid out of my mouth. Thankfully once it was gone, I could breathe again. The weight lifted from my chest and my lungs filled with the air I put into them.
As I calmed down a bit, the people began taking more of a normal shape. I noticed they didn't have gigantic heads, and they were, in fact, dressed like medical personnel. I scanned the room and assumed from the dull walls, pain chart hanging across from me, and the wide door to my right that I was in the hospital, which made sense with the all the beeping and tubes.
What I didn't know at the moment was how I got there.
"And she just woke up?" A man with a graying beard and blue scrubs asked the young guy in black standing next to him.
"Yeah, just like that. Scared me to death — relatively speaking of course."
I remembered that voice. I'd heard it in the darkness. Not the scary voice that was too whispered to recognize. The unhappy one.
"Okay, you stay here and sit with her while I call her parents."
"Sit with her? Me? Why? I have other patients to see."
"You go to school with her, right?"
"Well, yeah, but…"
"Then the others can wait." The man in blue smacked the other guy on the back. "Don't look so sad. Maybe you'll even make a friend." I heard laughter in the man's voice as he left the room, leaving me there with this guy I didn't know at all though he told the doctor he knew me.
"Do you need anything? Anything at all," a female nurse, I guess it was a nurse, asked from my right side. I followed the sound of her voice until I saw her face then kept going until I saw a tall pole with a line coming out of it. Presumably my IV.
What in the world was I doing in the hospital?
I shook my head as an answer because my throat felt raw from the miserable tube that had been so rudely shoved down in it. The nurse lady patted me on the shoulder — they liked to pat here — and told the other guy she'd be back in a few minutes and to try to get me talking. What if I didn't want to talk? Did I want to talk? Talking seemed painful, and what in the world would I talk about to a stranger?
She handed me the nurse call button and left. The chaos had died down, and it was just me and the strange guy.
He seemed irritated and a little nervous as he pulled one of the little blue, uncomfortable-looking hospital chairs closer to my bed, but not close enough to touch which I appreciated. I clung to the nurse call button as tightly as I could just in case he started freaking me out.
As he sat there like a lump, I studied him. He seemed familiar and I felt like I should know him from somewhere, but I didn't. He had jet, more than likely unnaturally, black hair, cut short around his ears and longer and floppier on top. It was fixed with some sort of styling gel or maybe it just laid like that on its own. How he styled his hair wasn't exactly important in the scheme of things.
He had big beautiful blue eyes, the kind of blue that were so light you couldn't look away if you tried. The blue popped thanks to a trace amount of black liner around his eyes. It wasn't an ungodly amount: no raccoon eyes by any means. But it was enough make them stand out. I really liked it. It suited him. His nose was on the bigger side and had a rounder appearance, but he definitely wasn't unattractive. On the side of his neck, I saw something that looked like a hickey. Seemed a bit inappropriate to wear a hickey to a hospital.
 By the way his plump lips fell in a straight, stern line I could tell he definitely wasn't happy. I didn't know if it was me personally he wasn't happy with or the situation in general. It couldn't have been me. I didn't know him.
"Welcome back to the land of the living," he said finally with a hint of agitation in his voice. Was he always so bitter? "We were — they were worried about you."
What was I supposed to say to that? Um… "Thanks." My voice came out harsh and not feminine at all. It made me a bit embarrassed that this not so bad-looking guy had to hear me sound like a thirty year smoker, but it wasn't like I could help it. I didn't put the stupid tube down my own throat.
"I guess I should say that you gave everyone quite a scare." He leaned his elbows on his knees and stared at me. It wasn't a happy stare.
"Sorry about that." And I was. I just wished I knew who everyone was or why I scared them.
His eyes squinted, and I felt my face flush. Why was he looking at me like that? He took a l-o-n-g deep breath before speaking again. When he did, he didn't sound as angry. "Are you okay?"

Author Bio: Kelly Martin a southern girl who writes... a lot. She is the author of SAINT SLOAN and Grace Award winning, CROSSING THE DEEP. By day, she is a teacher. By night, she has her hair in a bun and her fingers on a keyboard. She loves God, is addicted to chocolate, and would rather write than sleep. Kelly loves a good mystery and believes in Sherlock Holmes.
You can find her at
She's also on twitter:
And on facebook:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Guest reviewer: Danielle-- The Wrap-Up List by Steve Arntson

The Wrap-Up List
By Steven Arntson
236 pages

Gabriela Rivera is a modern sixteen-year-old girl living in contemporary America. But there are two very different things that separate her world from ours.

The first is that she lives in a country on the brink of war. Many of her fellow classmates have already been called in for the draft.

The second is that, in her reality, there are beings called Deaths – strange, tall, supernatural creatures – who come for members of the population at random for departure to the afterlife, and account for one percent of all fatalities.

            Unfortunately, this is where Gabriela’s story begins.

            Opening her mailbox one day, Gabriela finds a Death Letter addressed to her. These departures are much like having cancer; you are given a small amount of time to get your affairs in order, make peace with loved ones, and write a Wrap-Up List. This list contains things that you would like to see happen in your life before you die. You send it back to your Death, and they use what influence they have over the workings of the universe to make them happen as best they can.

            Departures are also like cancer in respect to the fact that they come like a hard, unexpected slap to the face.

            But there is always a small glimmer of hope for those who are taken before their natural time. Every Death has a Noble Weakness – something that, if guessed correctly and performed, will grant you a Pardon. That Pardon means that you get your life back.

            Gabriela has one week to make sure everything on her Wrap-Up List happens, and to guess the Noble Weakness of her Death, Hercule. Otherwise, there will be no turning back.

            I have to say, this book went pretty fast. I managed to finish the better part of it within a day. Perhaps it was the style in which it was written, because the subject matter certainly wasn’t lighthearted (although there were some very funny moments). At the same time, it wasn’t dark, either.

            At first, I actually thought the odd alternate America where Deaths existed was a rather unattractively created world, and was a bit repulsed by it. After a while, however, it and its almost bureaucratic structure grew on me. The world crafted by Arntson is nothing intricate or over the top, but it gets the job done.

            The characters are nothing to write home about, either. They are neither awful, nor amazing. I did quite appreciate Hercule. He was very real in a way an eight foot tall gray man probably shouldn’t have been. I also liked his sense of humor.

            What made this book for me were the brief, scattered moments of poignant clarity and realization that Gabriela had once she saw her time was coming to a close. They allow her the privilege of looking at the world through eyes that pierce beneath the surface of everything, and take in and appreciate details that most of us would never notice, or simply take for granted.

            While there was some Deep And Meaningful going on, I wasn’t too overly impressed or blown away. The Wrap-Up List is decent light reading, but don’t exert yourself fighting someone for the last copy of it at the book store.

            I give it 3/5 stars.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Jay Mims-- The Softer Approach-- Dan Landis series.

Hey again, everyone. Please welcome for the first time to Read Between the Lines, Jay Mims, author of Five Santas and The Cult of Koo Kway.

If you love detective stories with a quirky detective, be sure to check out the series!

The Softer Approach

Hello Gentle Readers,
I really appreciate Jessie allowing me to stop by the blog and chat for a bit. See, I’m doing this blog hop I’m calling “Christmas in July”. It’s been a lot of fun, and today we’re on the Seventh Day of Mimsey. And I’d like to talk to you about taking the soft approach to murder.
See, I write murder mysteries about a cynical, sarcastic, womanizing private investigator named Dan Landis. And he’s quick with a joke or to light up your smoke. But there’s someplace that he’d rather be. Wait, no that’s “Piano Man”.
My point is, I have a classic hardboiled detective. But, I write cozy mysteries, which are more along the lines of Agatha Christie or Murder, She Wrote.
It’s an unusual take, I realize, to marry the fluffy with the hard, sweet and sour. But, I think what works for this type of storytelling is that you understand why your character is who he is. See, Dan Landis lost his partner Maggie to a mugging gone wrong, and he’s been heartbroken ever since. It’s actually one of the main themes of the story, Dan’s unwillingness to let go of Maggie, and inability to let others in.
And along comes Abbey. She’s a bright ray of sunshine in Dan’s life, and through the course of the first two books becomes Dan’s partner. She puts a soft touch around his harder edges, and I think the readers will enjoy seeing the gradual growth of Dan from hard cynic to sincere guy.
Plus, HK Savage says “Sincere Dan is a panty-dropper.”
So, you’ve got that to look forward to as well.

Here’s the blurb for the books.
The Five Santas
Dan Landis is slumming it as a security guard at a department store. The money’s nice, but he also made sure Abbey has a job in the gift wrapping department. Dan chases a thief into the alleyway, only to discover the body of Santa Claus stuffed behind a dumpster. One body leads to another, and pretty soon Dan’s up to his ears in Yule Tide murder. He’s hired to protect the department store Santa, who appears to be more then meets the eye, but as the bodies keep piling up, Dan begins to smell something rotten in Denmark. Abbey being arrested might have something to do with that.

Open Book Society says “The author, Jay Mims, offers the reader a charming protagonist, whose wittiness defends against the violence surrounding him.”
Author Elizabeth Seckman says, “If you miss Moonlighting with Bruce Willis, you'll want to meet Dan Landis.”
And Jean The Book Nerd says, “Mims has provided us a great holiday/murder mystery story that is surely appreciated.”

Cult of Koo Kway
Dan Landis is back! There’s a body in the kitchen, someone trying to kill him, and a blonde about to be mugged. Picking up where The Five Santas left off, Dan and company are in hot pursuit of a six foot tall cowboy named Tex. But, things get complicated when Mama Landis’ favorite son discovers the body of his best friend in his kitchen. The mysterious Cult of Koo Kway is out to get Dan, and it’s up to everyone’s favorite detective and his new partner Abbey to save the day.
Jean The Book Nerd calls Cult of Koo Kway “An amazing fast-paced mystery book that will have readers on the edge of their seats..”

Author Donna Milward says “The action never seems to stop. How can you go wrong when you start with fuzzy handcuffs?  “
And Author Elizabeth Seckman says, “I love Dan. He's a little bit rotten, but a whole lot adorable.

And stay tuned for the excitement of The Gray Ghost Inn due out October 15th, 2013.
Dan, Abbey and their friend Professor Leroy “Doc” Brown are off to Warrenton, Virginia, where they are going to visit the bed and breakfast The Gray Ghost Inn. But, wherever Dan and Abbey go, trouble isn’t too far behind. There’s a body in the library, a house full of suspects, and only one reluctant detective who can solve the case before the killer strikes again.
Want to read Jay Mims’ books? You’re in luck, because we’re giving away presents this Christmas in July! Enter to win one of five FABULOUS PRIZES!

Jay Mims can sing all the lyrics to “We Didn’t Start The Fire”, and has never learned to play the piano. He lives with a passive-aggressive Dalek named Steve, a lizard named Bob, and is regularly visited by a cat he calls Eartha Kitty. He writes books and is far funnier on Facebook then in real life. He is terrible at Twitter. His next book "The Gray Ghost Inn" is due out October 15, 2013. Feel free to email him here. For a regular dose of Mimsey, check out his blog.
Barnes and Noble:
Twitter: @JayMimsey

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Enchanted-- By Elaine Cantrell

The Enchanted
By Elaine Cantrell

Forced by his father into a marriage he didn’t want, Prince Alan soon finds that his bride isn’t the sweet, submissive creature he expected. Morgane has the heart of a dragon and beauty beyond compare, but she isn’t thrilled about the marriage either. When black treachery threatens the kingdom, Morgane and Alan embark on a perilous journey that has an excellent chance of ending in failure and death for them and all their people.
Morgane advanced on her enemy with deadly purpose.

"No!" Alan roared. "She has a knife."

Morgane tried to retreat, but it was too late. Aili's knife caught her in her thigh. Blood spurted as if from a fountain. Renweard was closer to her than Alan. His sword rose. Aili breathed her last as Morgane swayed and slipped to the floor.

Alan ran across the room and cradled her in his arms. In seconds he was coated with blood. "ʺWe must stop the bleeding!" he cried. "Where are the healers?"

ʺI will find one." Renweard left the room at a run with King Bowdyn right behind him.

Morgane's eyes fluttered open. "Your arms around me. No heaven can compare.ʺ

Alan pressed a kiss to her hair. "I love you, my brave Morgane."

Morgane sighed. "I could not let you face this battle alone.ʺ
Author’s Note:
After spending most of the last ten years writing contemporary romance, I decided it was time for a change. So in the spring of 2012 I wrote my first romantic fantasy, The Enchanted. Several challenges immediately presented themselves. First, I knew that I didn't want the fantasy to overpower the romance which meant I'd have to balance my world building details with the romantic elements.

Challenge two was finding characters who'd fit into my newly created world. I didn't want plastic, stereotypical characters. I wanted real people with warts and human imperfections, people whose lives and problems would draw you in and make you care about them.

My third challenge was to craft a plot that included fantasy elements, yet at the same time allowed my characters to be in charge of their own destiny and in the process grow and change.

I'm pleased with the way it turned out. I enjoyed the experience so much I have another fantasy/sci fi romance in the wings waiting for December and its turn at publication. Given my new love affair with fantasy romance, will I write contemporary romance again? I sure will. I'm working on one right now, and I just love it. It will be my first full length romantic comedy.
Author Links:
The Enchanted is sold at most online retail outlets.

A sweet story, easy read, fairytale/fantasy/romance 5 stars. 
Teresa Cypher on Amazon
A wonderful story that has swept into my heart. I will be remembering this one for a long time and reading it again.
                                                   Tifferz Book Reviews on Goodreads