Saturday, December 29, 2018

Visualizing Characters Through Description and Dialogue


I'm off for vacation, but while I'm gone, try this exercise to imrpove your writing! Have fun!

When we watch a film, the characters are foisted upon us. The actors are the physical manifestations of the characters, and their accents, hair, faces, and clothes are no longer subject to our imagination. When the actor matches the ideal of the character, the audience is by and large content. But when the character does not match the actor, then the audience is disappointed.

With books, the reader forms his or her own image, and if the author's description doesn't match, the reader will be disappointed. In order to avoid this, most authors describe their characters as soon as they are introduced, allowing the reader to form an image. Authors, while they are writing their stories, have very clear images of their characters, and their description is an important part of making the character come alive to the reader. If the reader cannot imagine what the character looks or sounds like, they can have difficulty identifying with the character. Identifying with a character is vital – without that connection, a reader can feel detached from the story.

Since everyone has a different way of imagining things, readers' views of characters can vary greatly. An author can give a clear picture of a character's sex, height, eye colour, hair and skin, build, and clothing. However, when describing a character, the author has to walk a narrow line between giving too little and too much information.

Different genres of books deal with physical descriptions in vastly different ways. It's almost a given that a book focusing on romance will describe a character all throughout the book. It's a manifestation of falling in love. When we fall in love, we think, dream, fantasize about our love interest extensively. Therefore, romance readers will readily identify with endless descriptions of the physique and emotions of the characters. But readers need to project their ideals upon the character. Too much description can leave some readers feeling frustrated, especially as the book progresses. Describing the characters over and over leaves very little to the readers' imagination. The same with clothes – unless the character is defined by the clothing or the clothing is important to the story, it's best to be sparse with detail at risk of sounding like a fashion magazine (admittedly, some readers like this).

In science fiction or horror stories, the characters are lavishly described to the reader once at the beginning of the book in order to set the tone of the story.
In murder mysteries, it's important to visualize the detective and often the victim as well, so that the reader can identify with one or the other.

In children's books, characters tend to be simply but well-described, along with their traits of character. Pippi Longstocking comes to mind, her description never varies: Pippi is red-haired, freckled, unconventional and superhumanly strong – able to lift her horse one-handed. She is playful and unpredictable. With that, the author has given the reader all he or she needs to know to imagine the character.

Most of all, description should be like a slightly blurred photo that uses the reader's mind to add the details to bring it into focus.

Accent too plays a part – unless the dialogue is written in the vernacular the reader will hear his or her own voice, with only slight variations. For English readers, for example, Americans will hear American accents, British the British accent, and so on. And even if an American reader is reading a book set in London, the American reader will not superimpose a British accent over the dialogue unless prompted by spelling.

Ow, so lover-ly sittin' absa-bloomin'-lootly still,’ Eliza Doolittle croons. The movie 'My Fair Lady' shows us how she looks and sounds – but in the book, only creative spelling can show us 'ow, er, how, she sounds.

Too much creative spelling can lose a reader. Interest is held just as long as it's possible to read a story and follow it without having to stop and try to figure out what the author meant. Dialogue written in the vernacular has to be near perfect – it's better for a beginning writer to try to portray a subject's accent in small doses. However, a character can be completely identified by speech patterns. If I write; ‘Use the accent sparingly, you must’, a certain Yoda springs to mind!

Punctuation is another thing an author can use to show what a character is feeling. Exclamation marks, dashes, italics, cut off sentences, etc., are all part of the manifestation of a character's personality. Punctuation in a dialogue can show a reader what a character is feeling better than just telling the reader what the character feels. Use exclamation points as sparingly as possible – too many, and the reader feels yelled at!

Here is an exercise for you; write a short (2 or 3 lines at the most) paragraph introducing and describing the same character for different genres: romance, science fiction, YA (or children's book), mystery. You can even add a line of dialogue if it helps describe the character as well.
Have fun!


















Saturday, December 22, 2018

Unhappy Holidays - The Christmas Pageant Part II

I longed to resemble the Virgin Mary. I loved her blue robes, her narrow hands, her smooth face devoid of expression. Not a line, not a wrinkle marred that perfect brow. She was the original botox beauty.
The girl chosen to portray the Virgin Mary was a lovely girl with long, dark brown hair and perfect manners. She was also head of the class, her father was a doctor, and I used to copy all her papers when I was in first grade, so she stayed as far away from me as possible. It wasn’t as if I couldn’t count all the fish in the bowl and circle the number ‘4’ – it was just that I’d daydream so much that the teacher would call time before I’d even started. So I’d peer at this girl’s paper and quick copy all the numbers, knowing she had carefully counted and gotten everything just perfect. Since I had the conviction that these worksheets were just a way to keep us quiet while the teacher read her Reader’s Digest in peace, I had no qualms…until I got caught. When I got caught, the teacher made me admit what I’d done in front of the class, then apologise to the girl whose paper I’d copied, which convinced her I was most likely a serial killer in training. It didn’t help that she’d been in her father’s office the day my mother had brought me in with an ear-ache. The doctor took one look at my ear and reached for his syringue. “A shot of antibiotics will clear that right up”, he said. I was off the table and out of the window like a shot, dashing across the porch, leaping down the steps, and sprinting across the lawn, screaming that he’d have to catch me first.
So, the first day of rehersal, the Virgin Mary took one look at me, dressed in my sheep costume, and visibly paled. “She can’t sit behind me,” she said to the Sister. The Sister, who knew me, nodded and put me on the other side of the stage, nearest the donkey and the Shepherd with a crook (Hit her if she moves an inch), next to the far wall, and under the spotlight (it wasn’t shining on me, but I looked up, and there it was – the spotlight that represented the The Star of Bethlehem). That first day of rehersal, everyone was handed their lines (except the animals. We had no lines to speak. According to the Catholic church, animals don’t even have souls, so believe me when I say that we sheep, ass, and cow were the lowest of the low on the pageant ladder.) We were expected to sit quietly, nodding our heads was the most we were permitted to do – and not a sound should we make. I was a sheep. It wasn’t that bad – a little hot, a little itchy, but bearable. The cow rested his head on his hands and dozed, and the donkey, hidden behind his paper-mache mask, was unscrutable. But before he’d put on his mask, I’d seen he’d sported a bruise on his face. I sidled up to him and poked him with my foot. “What happened?” I whispered. He swung his head sideways and shrugged. “When my dad heard I was to be the ass for the pageant, he got mad.”
I knew his father. They were our closest neighbors. The five kids lived in an old house just down the dirt road from us. They had chickens in the backyard, and an old washer-wringer. The children helped their mother cook and clean. The father worked all day, and came home, and when he came home, he terrified his family. Sometimes I’d be over there playing when the car drove up. When that happened, the board game was shoved under the couch, the kids all leapt up and ran to their rooms, and I hied out the back door, across their back garden, and headed home before he saw me. The mother regularly sported a black eye or split lip. The kids were often limping or holding sore arms. That family was a reminder that, no matter how bad things were – they could always be worse.
The pageant was to take place during regular Sunday service, and if everything went well, for midnight mass. The priest was giving us a test – and of course, I failed. It was my fault. The Star of Bethlehem, like I said before, was a spotlight. I was sitting next to the wall it hung upon. The wire ran down the wall, and the plug was within reach. Just as the shepherd started talking about the star, I reached over and unplugged it. Then I looked up and gave my best “Baaaaaa”. Inspired, I added, “Baaaaad sheep.”
Someone tittered in the congregation. The priest glared at me. The shepherd nearest me pushed me aside and plugged in the light. Plugging it in and out must have strained the bulb, because it popped – with a huge “Bang” and a shower of sparks.
The donkey, cow, and sheep exited stage left, while the shepherds, angels, and three kings ran to the right. Joseph and the Virgin Mary ducked under the pulpit, and a huge spark landed in the manger, where a doll, dressed in swaddling clothes, lay in the straw. The straw caught fire.
And that was the end of the Christmas pageant. That was the end of my career as a sheep. That was the end, actually, of my trips on the bus to the church on Wednesdays, as the priest told me there wasn’t any use of me confessing anymore. And anyhow, two months later, we moved (again- I was always moving) and I never saw that school, bus, or church again.
But be of good cheer. Years later – years and years later, my 3 yr old son had an earache. We were visiting freinds, and they sent us to the nearest clinic. At the clinic, the doctor who took care of my son looked at me and frowned. Then he started to smile. “Remember me?” he asked. “I was the ass in the Christmas pageant.”

Friday, December 21, 2018

Unhappy Holidays part I - The Christmas Pageant

Christmas is a mixed bag with me - it was the best of times, and it was the worst of times. We Catholics anticipate Christmas all the year. While Easter is a downer (the King is dead, long live the King...) Christmas is all about a babe in a manger, shepherds guarding their sheep, three kings bearing gifts, a poor man, a donkey, and the Virgin Mary. As a little kid, I had fantasies about being the Virgin Mary. She was so kind and accepting, so solemn and calm. In none of the statues or paintings or drawings of her, does she have any expression except tranquility. (Lightyears away from my character - but there you go - we all want what we can't have.) I imagined myself as Mary during the Christmas pageant - after all, our church had a Christmas pageant, right? Not at first - they didn't even sing at first; this was the hard, Puritan, New England Catholic church, built of invincible gray granite, no fancy trim, not even any singing or choir. But that year, a new priest declared it "the year of the pageant" and it included all the kids in Sunday school, even me, even though I'd been kicked out. But I had dispensation because as a Catholic child, I - along with a handful of other Catholic children going to the local public school - was bussed to the church on Wednesday afternoons (missing study hour) to confess and save my mortal soul. So I was excited. For the first time ever, I would try out for the part of the Virgin Mary.

On the day of the try outs, it became obvious the the words 'try outs' were misleading. We arrived, stood in line, and the priest and his accolytes moved down the line pointing. To the boys it went:  "King, angel, shepherd, king, Joseph, shepherd, king, cow, donkey."  To the girls it was: "Angel, angel, angel, Mary, angel, angel, sheep, sheep, sheep." 

I felt sorry for the cow and donkey - then I was declared a sheep. I wasn't even an angel. I would have nothing but 'baaaa' to say and wear a white fluffly sweater, a knit hat with ears, and sit quietly in the background imitating a sheep. The animals were taken to a small room for our costume fitting (the cow was a brown coat, a hat vaguely reminiscent of a Viking helmet, and a cowbell. The donkey was a gray blanket and a paper mâché head with huge doney ears made out of cardboard. The sheep were, as I said, white fluffy sweaters and knit caps with little ears. It soon became obvious that the animal kingdom included the trouble-makers. The new priest must have been informed by the sisters which of us were best left in the background. But this cowed us - including the cow. We were oddly silent as we sat on our folding chairs, our costumes on our laps. Each of us had secretly been hoping for the starring role - Mary, Joseph or a king, or even better, an angel (who wouldn't want a pair of wings and a supercilious expression to wear?)

We spent the remaining half hour plotting ways to increase our visibility with the crowd - the donkey considered ways of moving its ears (and maybe taking a shit - I won't lie - we were the Sunday school dropouts) and the cow and sheep all just sat and sulked. And then one of the nuns poked her head in the door and said the bus was here, to leave our costumes on our chairs, and to remember that we had to come to each rehersal, because if one of the main characters or angels (God forbid) got sick, we would have the honor of replacing them.  Is it un-Christian to wish the angels catch the flu?

(Stay tuned for part II - Unhappy Holidays)

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Dragon's Shadow by Allison Morse


Dragon's Shadow
by Allison Morse


















GENRE: Teen Fantasy
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BLURB:  Royal twins ripped apart at birth become reluctant champions of good and evil.

Kylie, a teenage science geek, has no faith in people. Instead, she relies on what she trusts the most, the facts––what she can see, touch, and hear but never feel. With enough pain to deal with in her own world, she is thrust into another––a kingdom at war whose strange inhabitants fear one thing the most––the return of the dragon.  All of this is illogical to Kylie, but even more so, when she discovers she belongs there. 

Her brother, Prince Jarlon, journeys to kill the dragon who has laid waste to his kingdom.  His only hope for destroying the beast is help from his sister, whom he has never met. Will their paths cross before the beast’s malevolence infects Kylie and turns her into his creature or will Jarlon have to destroy her, too?


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EXCERPT: A deafening screech sounded. Jarlon’s limbs vibrated from the piercing cry of a teledicthus. The dragon’s minions.

The twenty-foot-high shelves rumbled, and books rained down. Screams came from outside the library door. “Jarlon you must escape,” the king commanded. “Go into the forest and find the Lady of the Eyes. I need you safe. Go.”

The library doors flew open. A teledicthus, flapping large leather wings and screeching its horrible wail, flew into the room. The monster’s red face featured a mouth that was more like a barracuda than that of a bird. Its lower jaw was longer than the top, and both were lined with a double row of razor-sharp teeth. The creature’s large, black eyes darted about, then settled directly on the prince.

The master of arms pushed Jarlon toward the doorway, but the giant bird swooped closer. The soldier lifted his sword.

Too late.

The teledicthus swiped. Blood sprayed from the soldier’s shoulder, and he fell. The bird screamed in triumph and flew upward, preparing to attack again.

Jarlon leapt to the soldier’s aid. Using a sleeve of his waistcoat, he made a tourniquet by tying it around the man’s arm to stop the bleeding.

The Sword of Legends in his hand, the king yelled to Jarlon to run and hide.

Jarlon looked up and saw the glistening teeth of the giant bird come closer. Blood covered the bottom double row. The beast then closed its mouth, and the blood vanished. The creature dove toward him.

REVIEW: 

Dragon’s Shadow is a YA fantasy novel, with two distinct plotlines. In this novel, brother and sister are separated at birth by a curse. One sibling (Kylie) ends up in the human realm while the other sibling (Jarlon) is a prince in the magical realm of Kingdom Hamadrind.
Kylie's story starts when she arrives home on a temporary leave from the asylum that her stepfather sent her to after her mother's death. She is doing her best to fit into the mold that her school and stepfather are trying to force her into.

Jarlon was raised by his uncle, the King after his father was murdered and mother disappeared. He's determined to be a great warrior and a good ruler, but then he learns of the curse that separated him from his sister - and learns that if she cannot fight against a certain dragon, she will be the downfall of his kingdom. Thanks to a magic amulent, left to her by her mother, Kylie winds up in the magical realm with her brother where they both wind up fighting the dragon.

This book had a lot of characters and a lot of plot lines. Teens ages 15 and up who like fantasy novels will enjoy this story.



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AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Allison Morse is the author of three very different novels: Fallen Star, a Hollywood Gothic Mystery, The Sweetheart Deal, a Rom/Com and Dragon’s Shadow, a Teen Fantasy & Adventure, all published by The Wild Rose Press. She lives with her wonderful husband in a house in the hills filled with books.


Buy Links:
Social Media Links:

Between November 30-December 13th, Dragon's Shadow e-book $4.99 price will be on sale for $0.99!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION:

Allison Morse will be awarding a $15 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

GUN KISS by Khaled Talib


GUN KISS by Khaled Talib

Hello Khaled, and welcome to my blog! Can you tell me a little about yourself, and how you became an author?

I was born and raised in Singapore. I began my career as a magazine journalist before switching to the field of public relations. My job has taken me around the world, and I once lived in Cairo, Egypt where I worked for several publications. I have since authored three novels and presently rewriting my fourth.

What is your book about?

Gun Kiss is a fun and breezy read about a man wearing many hats who rescues a Hollywood movie star from an obsessed drug lord only to find himself in trouble. The drug lord launches a campaign of revenge against him and the actress. The novel is primary set in southern California with some scenes in Mexico.

Tell us about your hero and your heroine! Are they based on someone in real life?

The hero is a fictional character I created. He is a former Delta-Force commando who toured Iraq. He now runs a taco restaurant in Sunset Boulevard while moonlighting as a relic hunter for Homeland security and the FBI. In the past he dabbled in screenwriting but got nowhere in his career. So, certain life choices had to be made because things didn’t go as planned in his life.

The heroine was inspired by a real-life movie star. I was watching an old movie one night with a famous actress. Something about her made me want to create my own character. Coincidentally, I had  submitted my first novel to a movie agent at Creative Artists Agency after pitching it. Although the book was rejected, the idea about including the business side of an actress’s life came into the picture. I was a big fan of Entourage, the series produced by Mark Wahlberg, so I had some idea how I wanted the story to be. I had also read articles about Sean Penn and El Chapo, so I thought of including the drug theme.

What are your favorite times for writing? Morning? Evening?

I don’t have a specific time, but I normally write in the morning till lunch time. These days, I tend to get sleepy in the afternoon, so I don’t push it. I used to continue writing at night, but not anymore because I need to rest my eyes. The weather is hot and humid here, so it makes you feel malaise.

Who are your favorite authors? Did they influence your writing, and if so, how?

Too many authors to list down, but yes, many have influenced my writing. Some reviewers have described Gun Kiss as a novel fan of Clive Cussler would enjoy.

Did you have a favorite book as a child? Did it influence your choice to become an author?

My all-time favorite book as a child was The Mystery of The Green Ghost from the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigator series. It didn’t inspire me to be an author, but it certainly encouraged by imagination and formulative years. The book that encouraged me to be an author was written by a sixteen-year-old French girl whose name and book title I can’t remember. I was around eleven at that time and I found her book in a box at home. It had been translated into English. I didn’t read the book but seeing her photo on the back cover made me feel that writing a book is important.

Thank you! Now  - learn more about Khaled's book: 

Gun Kiss
by Khaled Talib
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
GENRE:   Thriller
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
BLURB:

The United States media is abuzz with news of the mysterious disappearance of Hollywood movie star, Goldie St. Helen.

Ex-Delta Force Blake Deco receives a tip from a Mexican friend that a drug lord, obsessed with the beautiful actress, is holding her captive in Tijuana.

With the help of a reluctant army friend, Blake mounts a daring rescue.

What he doesn’t expect is to have feelings for Goldie—or that a killer is hunting them.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Excerpt:

They continued through an arch that separated the living room and what was once a kitchen. The general pointed at a trapdoor’s opened hatch with stairs leading down. “We go inside,” he pointed below.

“After you, comrade.” Blake gestured him with the gun. “Do you guys still call each other that?”

No response.

They descended into a glowing stalagmite cave and walked past a grotto toward a metal bridge running above a narrow canyon. The temperature felt warmer here.

They reached a storage area with doors on both sides. Blake took a moment to study the few soldiers guarding the area.

“Tell them to drop their weapons and go join the rest upstairs,” Blake said.

Popov gave the order.

When the soldiers had walked past them, the Russian military leader led Blake to a steel door with a fingerprint lock system. He frowned at Blake.

“Do the Open Sesame thing,” Blake said.

Popov pressed his right thumb against the authentication device. The door slid open into a brightly lit chamber and shut after they’d entered.

The temperature-controlled environment had perforated steel walls, a concrete floor, and embedded ceiling lights. The center of the room displayed a series of pedestal casings with various treasures: a red Fabergé egg, a diamond ring, a dagger, and a gold pocket watch. The Deringer rested on a small, purple velvet pillow inside one of the glass cases.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Khaled Talib is a former journalist with local and international exposure. He has authored three thrillers since 2014.
The author's works have been praised by NY Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, NY Times bestselling author Ruth Harris, USA Today bestselling author Jon Land, NY Times bestselling author Keith Thomson, K.J. Howe, and Jon McGoran.
His debut thriller, Smokescreen, was listed as one of the six "boundary-breaking indies" in 2016 by the IndieReader. His second novel, Incognito, won the Silver Award for the AuthorsDB Book Cover Contest 2017. Gun Kiss is his third novel.
Khaled, who is also a member of the International Thriller Writers, resides in Singapore.

Authors website : http://www.khaledtalibthriller.com 
Twitter account: https://twitter.com/KhaledTalib
Author Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/khaled.talib/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/khaledtalibbooks/
Author Amazon page:  https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B00DYPSB72?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6940359.Khaled_Talib
Gun Kiss (YouTube) Book Trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6uhYvbY7KQ

GUN KISS Buy links:
The book will be on sale for only $0.99.
Author website direct: http://khaledtalibthriller.com/books/
Amazon Kindle
https://www.amazon.com/Gun-Kiss-Khaled-Talib-ebook/dp/B07CVGKQY6
Smashwords
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/823918
Kobo
https://www.amazon.com/Gun-Kiss-Khaled-Talib-ebook/dp/B07CVGKQY6
B&N
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/gun-kiss-khaled-talib/1127553149?ean=2940155243199
Ibooks/Apple
https://itunes.apple.com/nz/book/gun-kiss/id1380716623?mt=11

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION:


Khaled Talib will be awarding a Amazon Fire 7 8GB tablet to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. The prize is limited to U.S. and Canada only.

Monday, December 17, 2018

A Contest!

WIN lots of free books!
Enter - it's free!

Guess who’s participating in this promo?!? Me!! Enter to win 20 Women’s, Historical & General Fiction  books,  including  books  from  authors like Patricia  Sands, Roxanne  Snopek,  and  more -just for following me and other great Women’s, Historical & General Fictionauthors on BookBub. This giveaway ends soon, so make sure you hurry! ✨Good luck! ✨GO HERE TO ENTER 
/


Thursday, December 13, 2018

Little Old Doggie

Auguste is now 13! For his birthday, he got his teeth cleaned. (It was a good idea - he had lots of plaque and now his breath is Much nicer!) He's considered an old dog - although he doesn't consider himself old, he considers himself 'entitled'!
This is what happened: One day we woke up and found him curled up asleep on the couch. Our dogs are not allowed on the furniture. They have cozy pillow beds in almost every room- they have their "own" beds. But one day, Auguste decided he was old enough to deserve a place on our couch - and he hasn't given up his spot since. No amount of scolding, of picking him up and setting him on the floor, of pushing him off - works. He turns around and jumps back up, and giving us a "Make my day" look, lies down. If I try to sit down, he pushes me away withi his head or feet (depending on which side I've chosen) to make room for him. He's got short legs, but he's a dachshund - he'd over a meter long (including his tail), and takes up a lot of space! I usually end up watching TV from a chair.

Auguste has the usual complaints of the elderly. He's getting deaf, and his eyesight is failing, so he sometimes bumps into walls. When this happens, if we laugh, he turns away from us and sulks. His pride is injured. (But as he's getting very deaf, he doesn't hear us laughing if we do it quietly). His deafness can be selective though - when I rattle the box with his milkbones in it, he comes running.

His prostate is enlarged! His hips have arthritis! Poor old chap. His prostate is giving him trouble. He is mortified when he tries to lift his leg and he falls over. He used to be so limber - now he has to brace himself (he likes to lean against trees, a wall, a car...) to lift his leg. He refuses to squat. No, he's a Male dog, and he will lift that leg to prove it. Even if he wobbles. His arthritis means he hates the rain and cold now - it makes him achy - so when it's raining, I practically have to drag him outside. Then he dashes to a bush, leans against it, carefully lifts his leg.... and then he runs back inside as fast as he can (this is usually when he runs into the wall.)




The other day I took him to the vet to get an ultrasound, and as he lay on his back, the vet moving the sond over and over his newly shaved belly, the vet remarked, "Auguste is such a good dog - he's the nicest dachshund I know."  We love him too - and hope that we can celebrate many more birthdays for the nicest dachshund ever.

Monday, December 10, 2018

A Choice of Secrets A Dark Glass Novel Book 4 by Barb Hendee



A Choice of Secrets
A Dark Glass Novel Book 4
by Barb Hendee
Genre: Historical Fantasy

Ever since raiders from the north began attacking villages, Lady Nicole Montagna has known that defending her people would come at a cost. The betrothal of her sister Chloe to a neighboring lord seems the perfect solution, forging a powerful alliance. But shortly before the wedding, Nicole is shocked to discover that her sister is with child—and not by her husband-to-be. Now she must make a choice. She has just hours to decide . . .


~ Should she tell her soldier brother—who will take swift, ruthless action to ensure the family’s safety?


~ Should she hold her tongue, let her sister deceive her husband into believing the child is his—and then hope Chloe can get away with the lie?

~ Should she tell her family, hoping they will know the right thing to do?

With the help of a magic mirror, Nicole lives out each path, fighting to protect herself and those she loves with the weapons she has: wits, herbs, and fortitude. But no matter her cleverness, neither she nor her family can escape unscathed—for there are repercussions she could never have foreseen, involving her own heart . . .

A CHOICE OF SECRETS

New York Times bestselling author Barb Hendee spins a tale of intrigue, integrity, and the bonds of love and loyalty as one young woman finds her place in a turbulent world . . .




EXCERPT


Chapter 1

At the age of seventeen, I had no real understanding of the danger of secrets…of keeping them, of sharing them, of telling the wrong personfor the right reasons.

But I was soon to learn the depths of my own ignorance.

One afternoon, in mid-summer, I was in the vast kitchen of my familyhome, with six other women, rolling dough for both peach and strawberrytarts. One of our housemaids, Jenny, stuck her head in the back door.“Lady Nicole,” she said to me. “Lord Erik and Lord Christophe havearrived. They’re in the hunting hall.”

This news made me smile. “Does Lady Chloe know? Or my motherand father?”

“Not yet. I’ll go and find them.”

“Thank you.”

Not bothering to even take off my apron or shake the flour from myhair, I hurried out the door and into the open-air center of what was knownas White Deer Lodge. All around me, ten large log buildings had beenconstructed in a circle. Small paths connected each building to the next.Two of the constructions functioned as our family’s residence. Othershoused guests or servants or our guards. One was designated for storage.The largest construction was called the gathering hall for communalevents. On the outside of this circle, a village thrived, with dwellings,shops, stables, and a smithy.

A stone wall surrounded the village, and heavy forests surrounded threesides of the wall, but not far beyond the west side, the ocean stretcheddown the coast of the nation of Samourè. This lodge was my home and my father, Gideon Montagna, was lord of these lands.

In that moment, though, I gave little thought to my home or my father,and instead, I continued in my quick pace to the smallest of the logbuildings—known as the hunting hall. I’d never cared much for this hall,as it was decorated with spears, longbows, and the heads of animals. Butnonetheless, once inside the front door, I looked toward the unlit greathearth with a flood of happiness rising inside me.



MY REVIEW


I loved the other books in this serties (see my blog post and review here) so I jumped at the chance to read "A Choice of Secrets". 
Nicola is a charming character - her older sister, Chloe, is bethrothed to Erik, a nobleman who has sworn to protect her family's lands in exchange for a mariage contract. Erik is a complex character - at first I didn't like him much because he seemed too interested in simply getting an heir for his domain. But when the story unfolded, things changed. In this story, the three choices didn't affect Nicola as much as they affected those around her. All choices had their good and bad points, and I was interested to see which choice Nicola made (I would have made the same!) 
All in all, a superb addition to this wonderful series!


Barb Hendee is the New York Times bestselling author of The Mist-Torn Witches series. She is the co-author (with husband J.C.) of the Noble Dead Saga. She holds a master’s degree in composition/rhetoric from the University of Idaho and currently teaches writing for Umpqua Community College. She and J.C. live in a quirky two-level townhouse just south of Portland, Oregon.




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The Skeleton Makes a Friend A Family Skeleton Mystery #5 by Leigh Perry


The Skeleton Makes a Friend
A Family Skeleton Mystery #5
by Leigh Perry
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pub Date: 11/6/18

Georgia Thackery is feeling pretty good about her summer job teaching at prestigious Overfeld College, and she’s renting a rustic cabin right by a lake for herself, her daughter, Madison, and her best friend, Sid the Skeleton. Together again, the trio are enjoying the quiet when a teenager named Jen shows up looking for her friend. Georgia doesn’t recognize the name, but she learns that the person Jen was looking for is actually Sid.
Sid reveals that he and Jen are part of a regular online gaming group that formed locally, and one of their members has gone missing. Sid admits that he might have bragged about his investigative prowess, enough so that Jen wants him to find their missing player. Given that Sid doesn’t have many friends offline—none, really, unless you count the Thackery family—Georgia agrees to help him search. They manage to discreetly enlist Jen, who lives in town, and follow the clues to… a dead buddy.
Now they’ve got a killer on their hands. Probing the life of Sid’s friend, they realize a lot is wrong both on campus and in the seemingly quaint town, and someone doesn’t want them looking deeper.



Though Leigh Perry was born in Pensacola, FL and raised in Charlotte, NC, she has been living north of Boston, MA for 26 years or so. She shares the house with her husband, two daughters, two guinea pigs, and a ludicrous selection of books. While the population of people and guinea pigs stays constant, the number of books is on an ever-rising curve. Under the name Toni L.P. Kelner, she’s published eleven novels and twenty-something short stories, as well as co-edited six urban fantasy anthologies with New York Times bestseller Charlaine Harris.


Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Amazon * Goodreads




I had a lot of fun reading about Sid, the skeleton. I admit, I had no idea what the character would be like - but he's a real skeleton! I loved the description, and the way the author brings him to  "life". He's a skeleton, but he's not scary - he's witty, and quite a bit of help with solving mysteries. He also has a rather sad, sweet side to him - his only friends are the Thackery family, so he spends a lot of time online (a geek skelecton - how cool!).  Georgia Thackery is a single mom with a teenage daughter. This is their summer vacation, but she's thrilled to get a great summer job in a sleepy town, and rent a cabin right by a lake. Cool, right? Except the sleepy town isn't as sleepy as it appears, and Sid gets mixed up in a murder when one of his online gaming partners turns up dead.  There were some interesting red herrings, and a few nods to current events. A very imaginative cozy mystery. 



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Friday, December 7, 2018

RITE TO REIGN - A bewitching boxed set collection of the best PARANORMAL ROMANCE and URBAN FANTASY


Rite to Reign
Boxed Set
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance


Something wicked this way comes…
Willful witches, supernatural sorcerers, cruel queens, and powerful priestesses fall out of favor and rise to rule in this highly sought-after collection of spellbinding stories!

More than 20 award-winning and bestselling authors have come together to curate this bewitching boxed set collection of the best PARANORMAL ROMANCE and URBAN FANTASY books in the genre, each brimming with stories of royal magic.

Journey through worlds of danger and mayhem, where witches and warlocks battle for influence and wizards fight for unrestricted power.

But reader beware: the highly addictive stores in RITE TO REIGN will put you under their spell. One click to secure your limited edition copy today!


Featuring Stories from :


USA Today bestselling author Heather Marie Adkins
Teresa Roman
JJ King writing with Candace Osmond
USA Today bestselling author SJ Davis writing with P. Mattern
Scott Hungerford
USA Today bestselling author Shawna Romkey
USA Today bestselling author Ash Krafton
USA Today bestselling author Christine Ashworth
Anna Santos
Melissa Winters
Colleen S. Myers
Andie M. Long
Alex H. Singh
Sabrina Ramoth
L.C. Ireland
Louisa Bacio
Grace White
Helen Scott
Carma Haley Shoemaker
Kyndra Hatch
Mirren Hogen & Stephanie Barr
E.B. Black
Ella Middaugh
Kat Parrish
Tanya Dawson


**Only .99 cents!!**





EXCERPT:
From Easterly by Shawna Romkey
Really, Stazia. I could get you a dress. Your hair is lifeless. Lay off the conditioner. Black tank top? Black tutu? Black and white striped tights and red shoes? Seriously? You can make those a different color, you know? Come to the mansion, and I can make you look presentable. Pink would look good on you. Maybe a pixie cut?” Glinda said. 
Stazia shuddered. Pink. 
You shouldn’t go, Stazia,” Ezmerelda said. “This is your duty, too, you know. With Mother gone…” 
Stazia knew it was true. The Witches of Oz should be working together to fix the realm. She cared about Spot, she cared about the innocent people of Oz, and she wanted to help them. But so much had been said lately about how wicked she and her sister, Ezmerelda were. So many lies. 
The people of Oz hate everything we do, so why bother?” Stazia said. 
They don’t hate me,” Glinda said with a sugary smile. 
They hate Ezmerelda and me,” Stazia countered. “I can barely go into the villages anymore. There’s so much vitriol.” 
They’re just jealous of your powers,” Glinda said. “Your magic.” She eyed Stazia up and down, her gaze resting on the ruby shoes. 
They can have it. I don’t need it. I don’t do anything of significance with it. I pop here and there. That’s about it. If they hate me so much because of it—” 
Don’t be so foolish!” Ezmerelda said. “Your magic is your strength. Don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed of it.” 
I mean it, Ezmerelda. I hate it. I can go without it. It doesn’t help me in the least. I’d much rather have no magic and just live a quiet life in a cottage in the woods. Find a place far away with no magic at all,” Stazia said, wafting over to the window and gazing outside. 
She touched her fingers in opposite corners of the crystal plane and pulled them in closer together. The scenery outside got smaller, and her range of vision stretched farther out. She did it again, zooming out until very little of Oz was recognizable, and she felt like she was looking down from the stars at an entire unknown world. She pointed to a place on the outer edge. 
There! I wonder if they have magic. I wonder if they’ve heard about the ‘Wicked Witch of the East.’” 
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What a great idea! Short stories, novellas, and novel length books all about women who were meant to rule (their kingdom, their family, or their coven!) The stories are varied - I read about a mermaid princess who falls in love with a werewolf prince, and also about a normal human gal who also falls for a werewolf (happenchance, really - there are tons of other heros in the collection!) The stories were engaging, the characters intriguing - and I thought the tales were highly imaginative! Grab the whole series, you won't be disappointed! 


Photo Shoot by Jo A. Hiestand

Photo Shoot by  Jo A. Hiestand ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ BLURB: Michael McLaren returns home from working a cold case in Cumbria to lea...