Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Review: Desired by Nicola Cornick

Review: Desired by Nicola Cornick
Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars

For back cover info visit Nicola Cornick's site

She’s considered one the most scandalous women in society…

Tess Darent is not the most impeccable member of the ton. A widow three times over, and known for her unusual tastes, every man in London seems to desire an opportunity with her behind closed doors. Yet, Tess has secrets that would do far more then ruin her reputation and all is about to be revealed.

Owen Purchase, recently named Viscount Rothbury, is on the hunt for a traitor to the crown and potentially a wife. When clues point him in the direction of Tess, she makes a tempting offer—marriage. Tess may think she’s getting a complacent husband willing to acquiesce to her every wish, but Owen has other ideas. Tess may find that secrets aren’t worth keeping, and what she truly desires is what she least expected.

I loved Owen. He’s intelligent, witty, and absolutely refuses to be run roughshod by anyone. He is literally a savior for Tess, since she has a mountain of baggage trailing behind her. Tess is definitely a multi-layered character, and you get to see two sides to a woman that was probably not a favorite in previous novels. The underlying theme I got from this book was that people use masks to hide their true selves or weaknesses. Owen and Tess come together and strip away those masks from each other. The journey the pair takes is filled with intrigue, emotion and definitely sexual tension; which is something Tess is desperately trying to avoid. A good tense-filled moment is after Tess asks Owen to marry her, he agrees but there’s a question as to whether Tess will commit or back out:

“And I will call on you tomorrow,” Owen finished, with a great deal of satisfaction.

A tiny frown wrinkled her brow. “Call on me?”

“Unless,” Owen said, powerless to prevent the heavy irony that now coloured his voice, “you prefer me simply to send you a note with the wedding date so that you can meet me in church?”

“Oh…” She smiled deliciously, an echo of the superficially charming Tess Darent who was all pretence. “Yes, that would be extremely helpful of you. As this is a marriage of convenience I don’t think we need see each other a great deal before the ceremony.”

She started to walk towards the door. Owen took two strides backwards and reached for the handle just before she did. Her body collided with his. She felt warm, soft and yielding; Owen’s senses clouded with the scent of her and the heat of her skin. Desire flowered through him again as fiercely as it had done the previous night. He caught her wrist.

“I will not be a conformable husband, Lady Darent,” he warned. “You do not issue me with tasks and expect me to obey without question. I am not reversing the wedding vows along with everything else.”

Beneath his fingers he could feel her pulse racing. Her glove was no protection against the insistence of his touch.
And it just gets better. I loved the way these characters interacted with each other. Both have forthright natures that clash consistently, but create the most wonderful romantically charged moments.

This book is the fifth in Cornick’s Scandalous Women of the Ton series, and the second one I’ve read. I can honestly say that Cornick does not disappoint. Another character arc is wrapped up in this story, and for faithful readers of the series you may or may not be happy to know that the villainous Tom returns. Of course, other series characters are present throughout the story, and help create some interesting situations for Owen and Tess. The only thing that threw me off is the last quarter of the book went extremely different from what I envisioned. Although I was happy with the end, I expected a little more leading up to it.

Overall, a good read and fans of Courtney Milan are sure to enjoy this one.

*Original reviewed for The Season online E-zine. Be sure to check out other topic picks for December in the Historical Romance category at The Season site.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Funday Monday November 28th, 2011

It's time for another Funday Monday! I've been absent the last week due to the holiday, some personal business, and a little seclusion for my reading mind.
Now that Thanksgiving is over it's time to turn my mind to the season of giving! Of course with the season there is music, books, activities, decorating and so much more. Don't forget the fondness of the colors red and green to add a sparkle. This Funday Monday is a little bit of mish mash of things so bear with me.

5. Center for Writing Excellence Fiction in Five- You like short stories? Like deadlines? Enjoy straining your creative abilities or challenging yourself? Then this contest may be for you. Fiction in Five is a chance to write a 700-1,000 word short story in 5 days. There is an entry fee of $5 to submit, and multiple entries are allowed. As always I'm not a fan of entry fees but sometimes they serve a purpose. The prizes vary but there are several. Deadline for entry fees and registration is midnight on December 2nd, 2011.

4. Eclat Fiction- something new and bright is available in the world of fiction anthologies. Eclat Fiction is based in the UK and plans on publishing fiction anthologies (10 stories per issue) online and available for free. Submission has no entry and rules can be found by clicking the link. The deadline for submission is December 5th, 2011 and stories must be at 1,000 words or under. You heard that right, flash fiction fans unite! This publication is all about showcasing unknown talent. So if you're looking for an opportunity of getting your work out in the open for the first time since the light bulb was invented then take a chance.

3. Christmas Music- I love Christmas music. Since the early years of my childhood the day after Thanksgiving always meant one thing to me-- time to break out the Christmas CD's. Not many in my family understand my insistence at listening to carols and songs all through the season. I can't tell why I do it. But when I went back to a 9-5 job and the Christmas season hit, I knew I would need my music. Luckily I found this awesome directory online. It lists radio stations across the country that play Christmas music from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas day.

2. Operation Awesome Mystery Agent Contest- Break out the 1 sentence pitches, and hone them until your fingers crack. This Thursday, December 1st, 2011 Operation Awesome blog will be hosting another Mystery Agent Contest. No 250 blurb or query entry here. Just 1 sentence that tells the awesome sauce of your story. Get ready to pitch away. Contest opens at 9am and they go until they get 50 entries. Be ready!

1. The Polar Express- I love the book, love the movie, and love the music. Nothing says Christmas like The Polar Express. Recently I discovered the website while doing research for work (don't ask because it would be a long story). Anyhoo, what I found on the website were games, recipes, crafts and activities that you can complete at home with the children and the family. How much fun is that? To me boatloads. Anything that can turn a couple of magical hours into an entire magical evening! If you're looking for something fun to do on a Friday night this site may spark some ideas.

There you have it. Everything I provided above should keep you busy for the rest of the day. Between hunting for that Christmas radio station, downloading craft activities, and gathering your writing wits to enter a few contests! Ready yourselves for the countdown to the most wonderful day of the year!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Writing Profession Series- The Evil Editor- Urp! Halt!

We interrupt this week's regular programming to bring you an important announcement. Evil Editor, affectionately known to his minions as EE or His Holy Eminence Muttonchop the III, is proposing an end to his infamous blog due to lack of participation.

For those who are not aware Evil Editor has been delighting the blogging masses for 5 years with book chats, query lambasting, writing exercises, cartoon caption submissions, and new openings (which involve a chance to show your creative ability and for author's to laugh at the continuation of their story).

In one of his most recent posts- The Decline of the Blog- EE states how participation has lagged over the last several months. It's most distressing to hear that the first query critiquing blog I ever found is suffering so. I've even had my pitiful query ripped apart by EE, which sent me pummeling my husband and friends for telling me the dang thing sounded good. Support is one thing, but don't lie to me people!

Back to my point- Evil Editor is now proposing moving to a Twitter based function, which has me screaming 'Yes' and 'No' simultaneously. FYI, screaming words simultaneously is difficult and I don't recommend it to anyone unless you are ambidextrous, have consumed at least 1 dozen cookies, or you have multiple personalities. While I like the idea of EE moving into the tweeting platform, if he ends the blog I will spontaneously combust.

That being said I'm posting to issue a plea... more like begging, but you get the point.
Come one, come all and gather your queries, your book openings, your creative flogging thoughts and submit to Evil Editor. Become a minion. Become active again. I know that twitter feed is calling. I know you're working on your latest masterpiece. But come back dang it!

For those who've never been try it, you might find yourself possessed by the beauty of EE's devilish wit, razor sharp tongue, and ridiculously long muttonchops. Not saying that those muttonchops aren't attractive in some demented, diabolical way that makes me want to grab ahold of them and stare deeply into his eyes. Forget I said that.

Bottom line if you're anyone who's anyone that's an oxymoron, or I am. Come to the blog, Evil Editor's blog and submit to the carnage, join in the limb foraging and heart harvesting. Nothing says writing like taking a bite out of a query or hacking up a fake plot.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Blog Joy Saturday- November 12, 2011

Just realized the automaton never posted this like it was supposed to. *Shakes fist at computer screen* Devils, I say. Sorry for the delay... I'm calm now. Moving onward.

Today's blog joy is for the Romance Book blogs. These book blogs either review, giveaway, and/or interview romance authors about their latest releases. Most of the blogs are must subscribe or visit daily as there is always something good going on.

Let's start with the Romance Bandits! I talk about these ladies a lot. Some of my favorite romance writers blog with them including Anna Campbell, who guested on my Writing Profession series. They have a new website, the blogger site is now shutdown. Except the new site is even better, more links, more fun, and just more everything. Check it out here.

Next up The Season. This blog has the best giveaways I've ever seen. Books just fly from this blog on a continuous basis. Plus there is a huge amount of reviews, free reads, publishing info and more. To be honest I currently review for this site and love it! Of course I'm going to tell you all to go and visit. I can promise that you won't regret it if you're a romance lover.

Finally two other review blogs make it to BJS. Both are romance review blogs and awesome of course!

We have the lovely Rita Jett on Not Another Romance Blog . Now the posts are not as hot and heavy this year as in previous ones because the lovely blog creator is busy and toiling away at schooling. Regardless she does tend to get some of the best on dits and I still recommend that you put the site on your radar.

Then there's Romancing Rakes. Ran by the ever naughty and wicked Kati R. You can find her on twitter but her review blog is completely enchanting. By enchanting I mean that Kati is honest and wonderful. She reviews a lot of different books and there's always some good recommendations on her site. I easily get lost for at least an hour whenever I visit.

Now these are my topic picks, but as always I'm open to trying new sites and things. Do you have a favorite review blog for romance, sci-fi, YA, or other genres? Where should I go? Tell me! :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's Friday! - Guest Blogging and jazz


That's what I'm thinking, but the thought is slowly becoming lost as I look at my long to do list for the day. Definitely wish this particular Friday involved more relaxation versus work. Good news is some of my blogging work is already done for me!

My baby afflicted, twitter pal @Saint_Upid (follow him on Twitter) otherwise known as Chad Thomas Johnston has me guest posting on his blog today. I'm basically helping out so he can spend time with his new little one. So check me out over there for today.

I'll be back tomorrow with another book review.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Writing Profession Series- The Content Writer

*big announcer voice*
It's time for another addition of the Writing Profession Series. This week I'm featuring The Content Writer.
You better be applauding.... yes, I'm speaking to you sitting in the Starbucks looking at your Dell Laptop Screen.
Being a content writer is an interesting job. It's also a position getting a lot of attention recently. Including a spot in All You magazine, which lists the position of content writer as a suitable job for those wishing to stay at home with the kids. So for all you mom's out there or those just wanting to bring in a little extra spending money pay attention.

My guest is Michelle Travis with Samuraiko Productions. Michelle is a technical writer by trade, but has experience in the content writing world as well. She's friendly and extremely knowledgeable. For those author's out there looking for book trailers, Michelle creates those too.
As far as content writing here's what she has to say:

Being a Content Writer can be a tricky business, as the 'content' you're expected to produce from one job to another can vary widely. Barring specialized fields, there's no real certifications involved, no specialized training or college courses you can take to become a Content Writer (although classes in journalism, English, technical/business writing, or anything else that hones your actual writing skills are always useful). You'll find yourself writing anything from marketing copy to game dialogue to the latest blog from your local hospital on its blood drive that month. Sometimes you have to produce the content yourself; other times, you're given a bunch of documents (marketing copy, a case study, a series of images, and a topic) and told, "Put this together in one cohesive piece." One boss will want your distinctive voice and writing style, while another will want the entire writing team to sound like the same person.

So how do you get started as a Content Writer? Here are some of the most important things you'll need:

** KNOWLEDGE - If you don't have it, find it and get it. (And if you don't know, ask someone who does.) And this doesn't just mean about your subject matter, either. If you're producing content for a company with multiple audiences, know whom you're writing for and what you are and aren't allowed to say. (Writing a procedure for a developer is very different than writing it for Joe Average who can barely use a computer.) If security clearances or legal compliance is involved, make sure to confer with 'those in the know' about what can and cannot be included.

** FLEXIBILITY - Depending on your employer's needs, you may need to produce anything from a 1-2 paragraph article to a 26-page white paper. Granted, if your real talents lie in a particular type of writing, they may restrict your duties to that, but adaptability improves your hiring chances.

** HTML/XML - With so much writing taking place on the Web, knowing how to write your own code has its advantages. Few things are more irritating than writing a terrific piece that ends up horribly formatted because the coding went wonky. The W3SChools Online Web Tutorials site ( is a terrific resource for this - the more you know, the more easily you can write for web format, and how to make the web designer's life easier.

** STYLE GUIDES - Note the plural there. In twenty years of writing, I've used the Modern Language Association (MLA) Style Manual, the American Psychological Association (APA) guide, the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook, the Chicago Manual of Style, and the Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications. Some employers don't care which format you use as long as it's readable; others hold everyone to the same guidelines. Many guides have a quick-reference online version available for use; however, if you intend to specialize in a field, invest in the actual book and keep it handy.
Most importantly of all, your writing portfolio and resume should always reflect the best of you and your work. Whether you're a Jill-of-all-trades or a specialist, show it. And polish it within an inch of its life - there is nothing so embarrassing as being a writer who finds typos or bad formatting in her portfolio. EVERYTHING must be right. And as always, like the directions say for how to get to Carnegie Hall... practice, practice, practice!
Zowza! Content writing seems to be very similar to technical, from the detailed knowledge a writer must have about the subject to the variety of formats and requests. Obviously it pays to be have experience in multiple fields, not just one, when writing content.

Thank you Michelle for sharing the information. I'm now going to go have a look at my resume and just about every other piece of content I've wrote for typos, and other errors. The whole 'polish it within an inch of its life' is making me wonder how often I've made a mistake. :)

If you're interested in tapping into Michelle's knowledge bank for a project stop by her website. Also you can find Michelle roaming the Twitterverse. Just look for @samuraiko

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Funday Monday - November 7, 2011

Another Funday Monday is here! I'm too chipper, I know, but if it makes you feel any better I'm singing the Mickey Mouse themed "Monday Sucks" song.

Now that I've made you feel rotten with the Monday anthem, let's see if I can cheer you up. Here's my top 4 for Monday. Seeing that we're now in the throes of NaNoWriMo the theme for this week is based on idea generators.

1. Language is a Virus- This site has tons of writing exercises, tips, and idea generators. I got a good case of the giggles when I clicked on their name generator. I tend to laugh at the idea of calling my character Lovie Starbuck Lorene. But to each their own, it could be useful. There are lots of process suggestions and other things to check out. I recommend that you do not visit this site until you have time to waste... simply because I found myself peeking at things for more than an hour.

2. Seventh Sanctum- Generators for just about anything and everything. I'm a geek for comics, superheroes, and fantasy. For those out there wanting to explore their geek-gene this site will let you do it. Character Generators to names of Equipment or Candies-- this particular site has just about everything. It's chock full of creative goodness. *Caution* I have no clue how often generated ideas are repeated so it's likely that others may stumble upon the same things. Still it could spawn some latent ideas in your brain.

3. Mad Libs World- I threw this in just for fun. Simply because I love the wacky combinations that come from a Mad Lib. They're hilarious; especially when you let the kids fill 'em in. This site has several including a Christmas Carol one. If you're stuck coming up with the next scene unwind with a little Mad Lib.

4. One Hundred Bad NaNoWriMo Ideas- Alrighty this is a list that made me laugh. Honestly I wanted to share with everyone else and encourage others to come up with an equally giggle worthy bad idea. I really laughed because this list almost crossed out every idea I had (not really, but close). There are a few moments of  "eh?". But it's all in good fun. So tell me... what's your seriously bad NaNoWriMo Idea??

That wraps my opportunity to cheer you up! Here's to National Novel Writing Month. I hope that everyone's attempt is well worth the struggle... that sounded horrible : > p
Good Luck and good day!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Blog Joy Saturday- Nov. 5, 2011

I'm bringing it back!

Here we go! This weeks blogs are dedicated towards foodies! I've decided that it makes sense to have a theme each week-- kinda like Man Candy Monday. So I'm dedicating this blog joy Saturday to the foodies. These blogs talk about food, share recipes, etc.

First up is Mama's Fixins. Personally I'm a big fan of anything sweet, but I love classic recipes for favs that my grandma makes. From Gingersnaps to the fancy things like scones this blog has some recipes I'm definitely trying out.

Next on list is (a) Musing Foodie. Her recipes are divine, and she's funny to boot. Plus there are contests and all sorts of crazy things to get involved in. I heartily encourage that every chocolate loving person who exists check out this particular recipe. You'll thank me after you eat it, and yes... of course it's fat free. Anything you want to eat is fat free in my book.

Okay, imagine that your strapped for cash. Wait a minute! Who isn't strapped for a little cash? Never mind, bad analogy. Moving onward... this last foodie blog is all for the frugal, people with big families or just those who like to get the most bang for their buck at the grocery store.
Frugal Family Recipes helps you do that. There are recipes for every meal, plus you can share your own via email.

That wraps blog joy Saturday. Let me know if you try any recipes that are good. I'm always on the hunt for new things to eat and inspire me. Next week it's all about Romance.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Review: Christmas in Lucky Harber by Jill Shalvis

Christmas in Lucky Harbor by Jill Shalvis
4 out of 5 stars

For backcover info visit Jill Shalvis' website-- Christmas in Lucky Harbor
Shalvis delivers a double shot of romance right in time for the Holidays.

First up is Simply Irresistible, the first book in the Lucky Harbor Series. When Maddie arrives in Lucky Harbor, unemployed and recovering from a break-up, she’s hoping to make the best of the inn willed to her and her sisters. She doesn’t expect to find herself intimately drawn to Jax, a local contractor that seems to read her mind. Maddie doesn’t know what to think of this handsome man that desires to help her, and her heart’s falling fast.

Followed by The Sweetest Thing— the story of Maddie’s older sister, Tara. She ran away from Lucky Harbor years ago on the heels of the biggest mistake of her life, only to return to help her sister with their inherited inn. Tara’s using the project as a way to move beyond her failed marriage, and focus on finding herself again. Unfortunately, a sexy sailor wants to join her on the soul-searching journey, and ignites a sensual passion Tara hasn’t felt in years. Too bad her ex-husband has shown up wanting to win her back. The competition is on and Tara has one more life changing decision to make.

I was hooked from the first pages, and I can’t wait for the additional books in this series. Shalvis does an amazing job of building a town and characters that you can’t help but love. The focus of these stories is healing and relationships with a ton of sensual tension and action thrown in. Humor plays a big role too. There were multiple instances in both books where the lead females found themselves in awkward positions, and I was laughing aloud.

My favorite of the two books was the first. Maddie and Jax were phenomenal, even the emotional baggage that both characters carried held appeal. I enjoyed the back stories of both characters and how the weakness they had were supported by the opposite strengths. The second story is good in its own right. I had a little trouble getting moved by sub-plots, and felt that both Tara and her hunk of sailor made some odd decisions at times. Also, Tara’s character is also a little harder to love because she kept fighting what she wanted instead of grabbing a hold of it with both hands.

The secondary characters are phenomenal, and without them the stories wouldn’t have been as entertaining. Of course stories based in small towns rarely leave their characters separate from the community, and private knowledge is quickly public. As far as villains go there are a couple, but most of the villainy comes from the personal demons each of the main characters suffer from.

Overall, if you’re looking for a little humor, romance, and a great cast Christmas in Lucky Harbor should be the top of your buy list.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Reading List for October 2011

I really did  a doozy on October. I guess I felt I need to play catchup after having such a lackluster September in the reading department. Not that the books were lackluster, just that I needed to read more. As we head into Nanowrimo month I have a feeling that I will be reading less and writing more. Ideally anyway. With Halloween behind us I'm also looking forward to that wonderful day of days that involves turkey, stuffing, and a dozen other things to add more inches to my waistline.

1. Mistress by Marriage by Maggie Robinson
2. Any Wicked Thing by Margaret Rowe
3. Avenger's Angel by Heather Killough-Walden*
4. Bride for a Night by Rosemary Rogers
5. The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa*
6. Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion by Janet Mullany*
7. The Secret Desires of a Governess by Tiffany Clare
8. Adam by Jacquelyn Frank*
9. Death Magic by Eileen Wilks*
10. Werewolf in the North Woods by Vicki Lewis Thompson*
11. Cemetery Girl by David Bell*
12. A Very Vampy Christmas by Kerrelyn Sparks
13. Jewel in His Crown by Lynne Graham*
14. The Ice Prince by Julie Marton *
15. Christmas in Lucky Harbor by Jill Shalvis
17. Silver Tongued Devil by Jennifer Blake*
18. The Price of Temptation by Lecia Cornwall*

*Review available or upcoming on The Season E-Zine

I will also be posting some of these reviews here on my blog periodically. So, be on the lookout! Bwahahahaha.... my evil laugh.

Traditional Marketing in a Digital World

I'm a marketer at heart. Heck, I've got a fancy piece of printed paper on the wall that says I should know all about the topic. Top that off with 8 years of promotional marketing day job work, and I would say that I'm fully immersed in spreading the word on products and services.
Side note** Let  me be clear that marketing is completely different from sales. I don't work in sales. Sales people will shove a product down your throat until you choke. I market or educate people about a product and then let them make their own decision. I won't spend time convincing them they need the product, the product just sells itself.
Now to the point of my post.
Traditional Marketing can work in the digital world. Everyone has to emerge from their computer reality at some point. I may sit in front of this life sucking, radiation leaching machine 8 hours/7 days a week, but I have to go to the grocery store, the bank, the post office and a myriad of other little chores that require interacting with folk. Reality Bites!

When I'm writing that check for the groceries it's the perfect time to whip out a pen with a book plastered all over it... might spark interest. If not the cashier, then the gal in line behind me with her 3 inch heels and mini, or the co-worker watching me jot down notes on Dr. Pepper stained paper at the Monday morning meeting. I'll get questions, and either I'll say "I don't know" or "Yeah, I read that book. This was a gift I got from the author and it was a great read." Boom! Conversation about your story is taking place and not a single person was on a computer.

Branding is everything and as an author everything should be branded. I've learned this through years of being in the marketing world. If somethings branded at some point you'll get the question. Especially if it's out of the norm and eye popping. Someone will want to know about that significant name you decided to wear, or the catchy slogan adorning your writing utensil. I don't officially have any pens with books on them *hint, hint* But if you send me one I would use it all the time.

Another reason I like the branding route is because as a voracious reader I'm always on the lookout for other readers. Heck, I got my bank teller addicted to new author Laurie London just because I noticed she had a hard cover of a Vampire dairies book. I brought up her interest in the series and then said "You should really check out a couple of authors who write paranormal romance." On we went from there.
She had a book, but imagine someone carrying around a notebook with the front cover a dead match for your book cover. How cool would that be? The conversations would fly.

Marketing in the digital world is typically cheap. A few tweet posts here and there, random lengthy spurt of blah about your latest on Facebook. Followed with the random giveaway. Problem is how many of those talking or participating in those marketing ploys are carrying the rabid monkey tactics into the real world. To get that carry over you need branding, and it needs to be on items of use- especially notebooks and pens. Bookmarks are cheap but notebooks and pens have a longer shelf life. I lose a bookmark once a month. My notebook goes everywhere with me and I always have at least 2 pens in my purse.

Bottom Line: By going outside the box and investing in branded items you will allow fans of your work to generate conversation without having to try. The return may not be huge numbers, but just one person can easily addict 3 more to the purchasing cause. I've been successful in doing that just by talking about stories; with uber insane enthusiasm I might add. What can I say I like books? The branded item will give your fans more confidence to discuss the novel because people will ask them about it, versus said fan having to strike up the conversation.