Sunday, 27 April 2014

An Interview with Terri Rochenski

On Monday Moments I've a great interview with an author friend, Terri Rochenski, who popped in last week to give us some information about her latest novel - Love's Sorrow.
There was no time to get to know her last week but today's the day!

Hello and welcome again, Terri. How long have you been a published writer?

My first official publication came in the form of a flash fiction piece titled Infinite Snare in the April 2011 edition of Lark’s Fiction Magazine. Three others soon followed, and my first short story publication was Sacrificial Oath in J. Taylor Publishing’s Make Believe anthology which released in December of 2012.

Eye of the Soul (Pool of Souls #1), my first novel, released with JTP in October of 2013. Book #2, Secret of the Souls, releases in October of this year.

And finally, the first in my Means of Mercy series, Love’s Sorrow, released this month. There’s a tentative scheduled release of book two, Love’s Revenge, in November of this year.

Please tell me about your latest release.

Love’s Sorrow is the story of an orphaned, poor young woman who is hired by a cousin by marriage to look after her sons. While there, she is introduced into London’s society where she doesn’t truly care to be or believes she should be. Of course, there is a male character who changes her mind, but finding love proves to be a tougher experience than she expected.

What is the genre/ subgenre of your latest book?

Historical romance set in mid-19th century England and America.

Who is the hero of the story?

Anne Tearle is Love’s Sorrow’s main character, and as I stated above she is a poor orphaned young woman. Raised by an abusive aunt, the offer of employment brings freedom in a way she never dreamed of.

What does your heroine think when she first meets the hero?

She is stricken with how handsome and refined he is. While visions of him haunt her dreams, she knows such a man isn’t for her.

Which time period is your favourite to research in?

I’m a lover of early 19th to late 19th century. 

Great answers, Terri! Thank you. I love all historical periods, too, and I've started a family saga beginning around 1845- though it doesn't have my writing time priority right now since that's going to my novels in the Celtic Romano era.

To finish with- Some fast and furious for you, Terri:

What's your favourite time of year?
Spring and fall are tie for favorites in my mind.

Favourite colour?

Favourite cuisine?
I love all food—except raw tomatoes & onions. Cook them and I’m good to go!

Wow! I thought we were going to be clones there but it just so happens I love raw tomatoes and onions and eat everything and anything! Thanks for answering! 

Terri started writing stories in the 8th grade, when a little gnome whispered in her brain. Gundi’s Great Adventure never hit the best seller list, but it started a long love affair with storytelling.
Today she enjoys an escape to Middle Earth during the rare ‘me’ moments her three young children allow. When not playing toys, picking them back up, or kissing boo-boos, she can be found sprawled on the couch with a book or pencil in hand, and toothpicks propping her eyelids open.

Terri’s Links:

Roane Publishing  Sweet, Historical Romance
Hired as a nanny for her cousin’s children, Anne Tearle finds security and a loving family. The children are a dream, but London society is a world of its own, one where a displaced farm girl has no business being. But, wealthy rake, Gavin MacKay, helps her to see associating with the upper class might not be as horrid as she first assumed.

Like all things worthwhile, love comes at a price, and the cost soon bestows more anguish than joy. Lost, but not undone, Anne must find the courage to begin life anew, or succumb to sorrow's unrelenting waves of grief.

Createspace (Best Option)
Link for Love’s Sorrow on Goodreads:
Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win some wonderful goodies from Terri's tour. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terri - Best wishes on your tour!

Pecha Kucha & English Language Teaching: Changing The Classroom by Thomas Jerome Baker

I found this book a mixture of manual and enthusiastic explanation for the use of Pecha Kutcha in classrooms of many sorts- the multiple video references extremely important to emphasise that all important visual element which aids learning, and teaching. As an ex-primary teacher of 11-12 year olds, I can easily see how useful it might be for using as part of the spoken language element of the English curriculum. Power Point Presentations by my pupils were used to demonstrate their IT skills in conjunction with the Spoken Language requirements, though to a more restricted time. Speaking for 6 + minutes is a daunting prospect for such a young age, indeed for some people of any age, but what I liked about the Pecha Kucha was the emphasis on the spoken element rather than the text on the slide which tends to accompany a ‘script’. The tight time frame to work to, whether it be the 20 x 20 Pecha Kutcha, or a revised timescale is very constructive for focusing on what is being imparted. I totally applaud the author’s emphasis on pupils’ practising and practising and doing some more of that. Whether for EFL uses, or with pupils using their first language, there’s a lot of sense in what Pecha Kutcha aims to achieve. I particularly liked the helpful strategies and achievement targets which could be used as stated or adapted to suit the classroom environment. This book is a very useful tool for using in spoken language classes.

I had no hesitation in giving it 5 stars.

Seumas Gallacher makes it sound so easy!

I recently read this great little book which makes plunging into the world of self publishing not seem such a daunting prospect. If, and when, I venture forth with any of my work I know I'll be able to get even more guidance from my new friend, Seumas Gallacher. This is what I felt after reading his latest book which is designed to help the 'newbie' make those first steps. 

Even though I haven’t yet gone down the self publishing route, I still need as many tips as possible for marketing my ‘small publisher’ published books. I found this a great little guide especially with regard to some of the social media sites, like Twitter, which I don't use properly. 

I don’t use TweetDeck either but will now have a go and see if I can make better inroads into doing my own 'non-spamming' marketing. (I fail to see how that can be achieved without spreading the word as I do already but look forward to enlightenment) With a little guidance from Seumas I might also manage to use Goodreads and LinkedIn better than I currently do. I'm 'on' all of these sites but interaction is limited to the amount of time I have which is generally zilch! I think Seumas' tips might help me focus a little better, though.

I don’t have a business background so the general business plan techniques look very useful. I want to succeed with my writing, and have been serious about it since shortly before my first novel was published, but I did not regard it as a 'business'. Seumas' guide makes it quite clear that success requires that attitude and appropriate strategies to be used- whether or not heaps of money transpires as a result. I want my books to be read by more of the reading public so my business profile needs to be sharpened.

This is a little book I’m sure I’ll be popping back to in the future, since it's set down succinctly and  is very well written and edited.

Thank you, Seumas- all for the price of a coffee in my local cafe! 


Thursday, 24 April 2014

Presenting The Golden Key Chronicles by AJ Nuest

I'm absolutely delighted to share more from A J Nuest with you today! She's sent on this fabulous post, so no more is need from me except to send my very best wishes for great sales. You'll love her series of the Golden Key Chronicles! 

Over to AJ...

Please join me in celebrating this special occasion, the release of my time travel fantasy romance collection... I present...

For the first time ever...
are NOW AVAILABLE as one continuous read!
The Story of Helios and Selene:  The Mythology Behind The Golden Key Chronicles
The key would unlock his future and the safety of his kingdom, but he never imagined the sorceress would unlock his heart…
When antiques restorer, Rowena Lindstrom, purchases an armoire containing a hidden key and a “magic” mirror, she believes the handsome warrior prince waiting on the other side is some sort of elaborate joke. Yet she cannot deny their connection seems bound by more than just the key and, as her love for Prince Caedmon grows, she agrees to join him in his realm. Prophecy intervenes in a way neither of them could have expected. Lost and alone in the Austiere Kingdom, Rowena struggles to find her place, and though she fights the heated advances of the dangerous Prince Caedmon, the attraction between them brings challenges much deeper than her troubled heart can recall.
After two torturous years held captive in the dungeons of Seviere’s Keep, Prince Caedmon returns home with more than just lash marks lacing his back. He now retains the secret behind the key, and is the only one who understands its grim connection to his beloved Rowena. Yet their enemies to the north are merely one of many obstacles determined to see them fail and, to escape the clutches of the evil Wizard Gaelleod, Rowena and Caedmon flee to the future—the one place Caedmon’s worst fears are confirmed. Though Rowena’s memories have returned, everything he loves stands to be ripped from his grasp.
Join Caedmon and Rowena as they embark on an epic journey bound by fate, and struggle to unravel the significance behind an age-old prophecy in The Golden Key Chronicles.
What reviewers are saying about The Golden Key Chronicles...
The imagery is so vivid it felt like I was sitting in front of a screen streaming real-time video. I love how the author cleverly crafted some straight up satirical irony within the plot. What Rowena says and what is meant, and what Prince Caedmon does and what is expected is a work of brilliance. 5 Stars from Writer's Kaboodle
I LOVED IT! Oh My Goodness I was hooked from beginning to end and didn't want to put it down until I finished it and was teary eyed at the end. It's SO good. 5 Stars from Cloey Book Reviews
It is clear that, far from being your simple fairy tale, the Golden Key Chronicles will be as much of an emotional roller-coaster as a tale of enthralling enchantment. AJ Nuest’s stories have the ability to sweep readers into a magical kingdom, even without the aid of an enchanted mirror. 5 Stars from Love Reading Romance

Proving once again that less can be more, AJ Nuest’s Candra’s Freedom is an intensely romantic, intensely emotional trip into the fantasy of love and romance. Rowena and Caedmon will burrow into your heart... 5 Stars from Tome Tender Book Blog

Caedmon's Curse left me out of breath in many ways. The fight scenes are vividly and flawlessly written and the same goes for every other moment in the book. Book #3 is my favorite out of AJ's Golden Key Chronicles so far! With only one book left, she has me on pins and needles waiting for the last installment. 5 Stars from Broken Bird Media

LOVED the ending: I really thought I knew what was coming, but Miss Nuest nailed it with her well-placed sequence of events and clues. It was the perfect place to leave off - or leave us hanging I should say - for Book 4. :D 5 Stars from Friday Night Romance

An epic, fantasy, adventure and romance, with a dash of comedy, rolled into one fabulous book. The characters are wonderful. Rowena is a strong, feisty, fearless female and I love her slightly feminist thinking. Caedmon is the perfect complement to her and they just fit. The romance, the love, and the ecstasy that makes up Rowena and Caedmon’s relationship is toe-curling steamy, and beautifully written. 5 Stars from Follow the Yellow Book Road
Just when I think AJ Nuest can’t raise her bar any higher, she up and writes Braedric’s Bane, the final book in Rowena and Caedmon’s tale. Love, lust, romance, life-threatening danger and a good dose of light-hearted humor from the amazing characters that color her world of larger than life fantasy.  5 Stars from Tome Tender Book Blog


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Walls for the Wind

Last week Alethea Williams visited my main blog, and as promised here's another chance to learn a little about her latest novel.

....and as a special bonus you'll find two more excerpts that she's sharing with us today. 

Can an angel survive Hell on Wheels? When Kit Calhoun leaves New York City with a train car full of foundlings from the Immigrant Children’s Home, she has no clue she might end up as adoptive mother to four of them in rip-roaring Cheyenne, Wyoming. Kit has spent her life in the Children’s Home and now she rides the Orphan Trains, distributing homeless children to the young nation’s farmers as fast as the rails are laid.
The first time handsome Patrick Kelley spies Kit in Julesburg, Colorado Territory, he wants her. But circumstances, and a spectral-looking demented gambler as well as Kit’s certainty no one in his right mind would want her cobbled-together family, conspire to keep them apart. As Patrick and Kit and her brood ride Hell on Wheels into their destiny, they’re all forced to leave behind everything they knew and forge new lives in the raw American West.

Buy links:

About Alethea:

Western history has been the great interest of my adult life. I've lived in Wyoming, Colorado, and Oregon. Although an amateur historian, I am happiest researching different times and places in the historical West. And while staying true to history, I try not to let the facts overwhelm my stories. Story always comes first in my novels, and plot arises from the relationships between my characters. I'm always open to reader response to my writing.
Twitter: @ActuallyAlethea
The Romance Reviews author page:

A little for you to read...

“Frau Goff, you must listen,” she said softly. “Your son was arrested by the constable. Helmut will not be coming home. Reverend Howe is trying to convince the magistrate to release the boy into our custody, rather than have him spend ten days in the public Juvenile Asylum under the influence of the older, hardened hooligans incarcerated there. It was Helmut, Frau Goff, who told us where to find you.”
At the news, the woman’s hand flew to her mouth. Her eyes distant now even though they never left Kit’s face, she moaned, rocking the little girl back and forth. “Ah, Gott in heaven, what shall we do now?” she pleaded under her breath.
“You need to go to the hospital, Frau Goff,” Kit urged, even though she knew the charity wards were full to bursting with sick and dying immigrants. Reverend Howe, however, was prepared to use all his considerable influence to convince the Baldwin sisters to take just these three more into their already overburdened care.
“I cannot go to hospital.” The woman covered her mouth, throat rasping as she coughed up more blood. Twin spots of fever-induced color suffused her sallow cheeks. “Then Hannah would have no one.”
The woman’s hands lovingly kneaded the little girl. Kit waited, fingertips resting on the woman’s arm. Puffs of vapor escaped the child’s rosebud mouth, freezing as her warm breath hit the cold air. Hannah’s eyelids drooped as she lay quietly now in her mother’s arms, and she blinked sleepily.
“It makes no difference if I agree, yah? All you have to do is wait. When I die,” the sick woman said in a dull rasp, “my children will truly be left all alone.”
Kit swallowed the reply that wanted to spill from her lips, words of false hope and promise that the woman would recover. Perhaps, with time, good food, rest and a change of climate, there might have been a chance. But as it was, destitute and starving and already ravaged by her illness, there was in truth little the medical profession could do for Helga Goff.
“Will you sign?” Kit asked in German, fingers tightening on the woman’s skeletal arm. Educated at the asylum in languages, as well as painting and piano, at least some of her training stood her in good stead this day. “Will you give us the opportunity to shepherd your children toward a better life?”
The widow Goff studied Kit with burning eyes. “You will keep Helmut and Hannah together?” she pleaded, also in her native tongue. “Brother and sister always. You will not separate them? Make your solemn pledge to me now, before Almighty God.”
“I assure you the asylum will educate them and find them a home.”
“No! To you! To you alone will I give up my children. Promise me they will be together. Always.” Her voice fading, the woman’s last word ended on a sigh. Her small strength in defense of her children spent, her head drooped toward her chest.
Kit craned her neck, looking frantically over her shoulder to Reverend Howe for guidance. He held out his hands, palms up. “You have chosen to do this work, Katherine.”
Finding no help from the bear of a man in the massive greatcoat, Kit turned her gaze back toward the woman and child. Looking down on the little girl’s soft, golden curls, she said, “Very well, Frau Goff. I promise you that Helmut and Hannah will remain together.”
The sick woman raised her head. For an instant she searched Kit’s face. Then apparently reading truth there, she reached unsteadily for the pen that Reverend Howe had already dipped in ink. Her lips moved as she struggled to read aloud in English:
This document certifies that I am the mother and sole legal guardian of Helmut Goff, age eight, and Hannah Goff, age two. I hereby willingly agree for the Immigrant Children’s Asylum to provide them a home until they are of age. I further promise never to interfere in any arrangements made on their behalf.
Once more she raised fever-bright eyes to Kit’s, as if seeking a way out of signing away her children. But both of them knew it was too late. There was no rescue in this world for Frau Helga Goff. Shoulders rounded in defeat, she lowered her eyes to the release form and signed in a spidery European hand.

Toward Hell on Wheels, somewhere near Brule, Nebraska, early spring 1867

The sun rose, bringing another day to the vast Western plains. The gambler stood fingering his new silk vest in the faint warmth of the rising sun. Ever since he was a small boy, he’d received much of his sensory information through touch. The feel of the new vest’s cool smoothness pleased him. It soothed for a time the constant jittery feeling that dwelled in his head somewhere behind his eyeballs. His new prize was fine. Very fine. It was even more pleasing to him that he’d wiped out everyone at the card table down to their undergarments in such a short time. He was good at what he did, the cards. It was the only thing he’d ever been good at. He had the touch.
Sometimes, not often, his thoughts drifted back in time. He wouldn’t have made any kind of farmer, that was for sure. His real father had been a farmer back in Iowa. A good one, too, come from a long line of farmers and knew what he was doing. And still it hadn’t made any difference in the end. He’d still lost it all. Lost it, ironically, on a bad turn of the cards while he was deep in his cups. Old Dad had a problem with the drink: couldn’t stop once he started. So he’d squandered it all: the land, the equipment, the livestock. The gambler remembered the bleak, hopeless look on his mother’s face as the last steer was led away, her life and her children’s, everything they knew and depended on, brought to abrupt ruin.
And yet his father hadn’t been a bad man. Not in the way some of the men his mother brought home later, after her husband deserted them, had been bad. Bad for young boys, at least, who hadn’t the strength to fight them off in the dark of night after the woman had stopped her drunken shrieking and moaning, and collapsed in a sodden heap. For one who absorbed fully, seeming with his whole body, the feather lightest of touches, those long-ago hours of endured pain at the hands of men his mother insisted he call father had been horrifying and excruciating.
He was relieved to finally be on the move again. He’d spent the winter in St. Louis after the railroad company shut down operations for the winter at North Platte. The Nebraska town newly sprouted from the prairie grasses possessed an ice house, a wash house, a blacksmith shop, stock pens and a slaughterhouse. All the comforts a town built to service the Union Pacific could need. What North Platte didn’t have was liquor. North Platte was a dry town, the single dry town with a temperance house in existence out on the plains.
Since the gambler’s business depended on the rotgut whiskey that greased the wheels of his commerce, he had quickly decided to head for Denver and then parts southward and eastward for the cold months, instead of staying in North Platte. He’d followed the Missouri from Omaha to Kansas City, where he fortuitously met up with his brother, whom he hadn’t seen in a while. They’d made their way thence to St. Louis, almost scouring clean the purses of that town’s overwintering trappers and emigrants before spring found the two making their way back upriver to open their mobile tent-based business, following the railroad. He got itchy to get on the road again as soon as the weather gave hints of warming. And St. Louis hadn’t been sorry to see them go either, the Brothers Grim, as some witty French tavern keeper had dubbed them.
The gambler felt her before he heard her, some overdeveloped sense warning him of her presence in the door flap of the small tent behind him even before he smelled the pungent perfume that failed to completely cover the musk of the night’s copulation emanating from her.
“What are you staring at?” she asked.
He turned unfeeling eyes on her, watched her shiver slightly when he did although she tried hard always not to show fear of him. They were business partners, of a sort. Had once been more, although any bud of sentiment had always been tended on her part and not his. He was numb toward women. Toward almost all people, if the truth were known. He just had very little capacity for emotion; it had been beaten out of him in darkness until only black emptiness was left.
Wordlessly she handed him some gold pieces, his cut of her business dealings for the night. He liked the feel of those, too, their round contours lying cool in his palm. She knew that, and let the coins fall one at a time from her hand to his, teasingly, as if she might dare think to withhold one or two. She started to smile, lips curving a little.
He slapped her suddenly. Hard.
She licked blood from the corner of her mouth, head tilted and eyeing him with only the mildest of reproaches. After all this time, she knew better than to say anything out loud.
“I’m not in the mood for your games,” he said. She was commonly called Maud the Bawd, but any humor in the rhyme had long since worn off for both of them and he never used it, seldom called her anything.
“Go away,” he added so quietly she almost couldn’t make out the words.
But she obeyed, instantly, with a swish of long skirts whose hem was caked stiff with mud and other unmentionable grime. The gambler continued to stand alone with his thoughts, watching the sun rise and trying to tamp down the jitteriness that had resumed with the whore’s interruption. Tonight had been just a little diversion in a temporary tent on the side of the road that continued to build westward, toward the next Hell on Wheels. Soon they would be able to set up like royalty and begin their work of stripping the railroad workers’ pockets all over again. He looked forward to erecting the Big Tent, with its mirrors and paintings of reclining naked women that drew the gawking yokels night after night like gnats to sweat. The whore was already recruiting new doves from Chicago for her flesh business. Soon they’d both get back to what they knew best: making money.
Slowly he secreted away his cut of her earnings in the pocket of his shiny new vest. No one else approached him, and in truth few who knew him dared. Only the faintest trace of woman’s scent indicated anyone else had stood near him.

Walls for The Wind sounds excellent Alethea- Best wishes for your launch and thank you for featuring with me today. 


Monday, 21 April 2014

Love's Sorrow by Terri Rochenski

Happy Book Birthday to Love's Sorrow!
Today marks the kick-off of Love's Sorrow blog tour AND part one of ...
 a sneak peak at the entire first chapter!
Follow along during the tour for parts two through ten, and be sure to check out the rafflecopter below for some Love's Sorrow goodies!
Love's Sorrow
Means of Mercy #1
Historical Romance
Release Date: April 21, 2014
Publisher: Roane Publishing
Hired as a nanny for her cousin’s children, Anne Tearle finds security and a loving family. The children are a dream, but London society is a world of its own, one where a displaced farm girl has no business being. But, wealthy rake, Gavin MacKay, helps her to see associating with the upper class might not be as horrid as she first assumed.
Like all things worthwhile, love comes at a price, and the cost soon bestows more anguish than joy. Lost, but not undone, Anne must find the courage to begin life anew, or succumb to sorrow's unrelenting waves of grief.

Purchase Links:  
Createspace (Best Option)


Chapter 1 / Excerpt 1
With a loud grind and clanking, the train came to rest at King’s Cross Station. The engine car let out a hiss like the sigh that escaped my lips every night when I laid on my pallet after a long day’s work.
Pressing my face to the window, I stared in amazement at the mass of moving people. When boarding the train in Birmingham, excitement kept me from giving the well-to-do folks more than a mere glance, but I sat captivated as my fellow passengers disembarked around me.
Lavish bonnets and bright-coloured dresses of silky material made me ashamed of the threadbare gingham frock and tattered straw hat I wore.
Aunt Martha and Mary always tried to keep up with the latest fashions by ripping and sewing old dresses—garments beyond repair became an extra flounce or two, and the nicer threads unwoven and made into lace collars or cuffs. I hadn’t ever been allowed time for such frivolous activities, so I made myself content with proper skirt length and suitable patches for worn elbows.
Content, until I gazed upon the ladies of London in all their finery. Aunt Martha would say those folks sinned by squandering their money in such a way.
For about the tenth time, I imagined my aunt’s kitchen minus its scullery maid and target for hurled objects. I choked back a giggle for what must have been the fifth time that morning. My days of being a slave were over, for I had been offered employment.
Fingers trembling, I stood and wrapped my thin shawl tight around my shoulders, clutched my bundle closer, and walked the train’s narrow aisle. I stepped onto the platform and peered around the sea of faces for Joanna Telford.
I had never met my cousin from London. Until a few weeks earlier, I wasn’t even aware I had family beyond Uncle Edward and Aunt Martha. Mrs. Telford wrote to tell me she and her husband were in need of a nanny and governess for their two young sons, and being the merciful guardian he was, Uncle Edward decided to send me away from his wife.
Without her knowing.
Another smile lifted my lips, and I shifted on my feet, moving my tied bundle from one hand to the other. I grimaced as a whiff of body odour rose. Aunt Martha allowed me to bathe once a week, which would have been on the morrow, but asking to do so early certainly would have aroused suspicion. Sneaking away from her house before sunrise as I did would never have occurred with success.
No one spared the poor farm girl a second glance, and insides buzzing like a honey bee, I stood unmoving, a white-knuckled grip on my worldly possessions.
Minutes moved passed slower than a lazy stream and the surrounding crowd began to disperse. I waited. Despair crept closer with every passing heartbeat.
A stooped man in black livery made eye contact with me, and a pleasant smile lit his face as he started my way.
“Miss Tearle?” His voice rasped like a rusty barn door hinge.
“Yes. I am Anne Tearle.” I was grateful to my aunt for one thing. My accent matched almost perfectly with those buzzing around me. Aunt Martha's hatred of the Black Country we lived in and the cane across the back of my legs every time I slipped into the bouncing regional lilt had eradicated all but the barest traces of it.
The elderly gentleman removed his hat, tucked it under one arm, and dipped his head. "Welcome to London, missy.” His smile widened and the skin around his watery blue eyes crinkled. “I’m the Telfords’ coachman, Emanuel. The missus has sent me to collect you.” 
About Terri Rochenski
Terri started writing stories in the 8th grade, when a little gnome whispered in her brain. Gundi’s Great Adventure never hit the best seller list, but it started a long love affair with storytelling.
Today she enjoys an escape to Middle Earth during the rare ‘me’ moments her three young children allow. When not playing toys, picking them back up, or kissing boo-boos, she can be found sprawled on the couch with a book or pencil in hand, and toothpicks propping her eyelids open.
Tour Schedule
Book Blitz and Tour-wide Giveaway
Signed paperback copy of Love's Sorrow, 
$10 Amazon gift card, & swag package.
Ends 5/16/2014
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code.  No purchase necessary, but you must be 18 or older to enter. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter, and announced on the widget. Winner well be notified by emailed and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Roane Publishing's marketing department.

Monday, 14 April 2014

A thoroughly enjoyable simple romance.

Irish Inheritance by Paula Martin

There’s just the right balance of everything in this tale of love found as a result of a mysterious inheritance. It’s not all plain sailing, though, for Jenna and Guy, since there are a few stepping stones that are just a tad slippery. For those interested in ancestry they’ll find the plot an easy one but the setting in Irish countryside is a dramatic background. Well written, the story flows from page to page with just a few questions left for the reader to surmise over how their futures will unfold after the end of the tale. If you’re looking for a sweet romance that ticks all the boxes you’ll not be disappointed in this one.

Monday, 7 April 2014

The Rabbit and the Raven

I've invited Melissa Eskue Ousley today, the author of Young Adult fantasy The Solas Beir trilogy. Melissa's Book 1 of the series was featured on my blog a while ago, so I took the opportunity to interview her this time during her tour to publicise  The Rabbit and the Raven, Book 2 of her series. 

After the interview look out for Melissa's GIVEAWAY (X5 signed copies and a $25 B & N Gift Certificate), her fantastic book trailer video, and an excerpt from the book. My review will follow, since I read it recently for this visit.

Welcome Melissa! 

Take yourself back 20 years and tell us if you had any aspirations to become an author at that time.

Twenty years ago I was in college, and my major was English. I loved reading literature, and I loved writing, but I’m not sure I considered a career as a writer at that time. I also loved psychology and was thinking ahead to grad school and a degree in counseling.

What were you mainly doing as a daily occupation at that time?

In addition to being a student, I worked in a science museum. It was a lot of fun to go behind the scenes and see how exhibits and planetarium shows were made. The summer before college, I worked for the highway department in Arizona. I was the only woman on the maintenance crew. The roads were so hot that by the end of summer, the treads had melted off my work boots. One of my jobs was shovelling roadkill off the highway. I learned to appreciate gallows humor and to not take things too seriously.

They were definitely memorable jobs. And today? How do you mainly spend an average day?

Writing is my full time job now. Marketing is also part of the job, but I try to spend at least two-thirds of my time writing.

You know, when most authors are asked that question they forget to tag on the amount of time that marketing our books takes and the tendency isn't to list it as an occupation, but you're spot on, Melissa, since it is part of our job. Now jump forward 20 years from today. What do you think you’d like to be doing then?

I’d love to still be writing. When I’m writing, there’s a certain point where I get so far into the story that I become the reader—I am telling the story to myself as I discover new and surprising things about my characters. I get lost in that world and everything else fades away. It is nothing short of magic. That is why I write.

I've so far only read the Solas Beir second book, and it really is immersing fantasy. What’s your preferred genre for reading material?

These days I read a lot of young adult novels, which I love. I’m also a fan of fantasy and horror.

What genre/ sub-genre do you feel comfortable writing in?

Thus far, I’ve only written young adult novels, but I feel very comfortable with that. Young adult books are often optimistic and full of hope, even when the protagonists are faced with difficult and sometimes heart-breaking decisions. Perhaps in the future I’ll try a different genre.

What do you think will be the main reading materials within the next decade? Books, some form of portable tablets?

I’m sure that portable devices will continue to be popular, since society is becoming more cosmopolitan. I’ve moved across the country before, and boxes of books get heavy. Even so, I still like holding a book, and I still like the smell of old books. I’m a book addict.

Yes, I can totally understand that. The book collection in my house goes back to the 1960s and we find it almost impossible to throw out books. In recent years there’s been a movement towards popular cult-type stories- sometimes driven by what’s been popular on TV and the cinema, like Vampire, shifter, time-shift sub-genres. What do you see as being the ideal focus to capture the imagination in 5 years time?

Frankenstein was written in 1818 and Dracula was written in 1897, and yet, these tales continue to capture our imaginations, inspiring new versions of the stories. I think as long as a story is timeless and compelling, it will continue to inspire new readers.

I echo that, Melissa. I try to give a timelessness to my work, too, even though it's mostly historical, the difference being in author's voice, I think. Can you give us an idea of what your writing schedules might be like during the remainder of 2014 and on to 2015?

I just finished writing The Sower Comes, the third book in The Solas Beir Trilogy. It’s in my editor’s hands right now, and my publisher will likely release it spring 2015. I have several ideas for new books, and have already started writing my fourth book. Finishing it will be my focus over the next few months. I can’t say much about it yet, but it is a young adult novel set in Astoria, Oregon. And it has monsters.
I can definitely say I found the end of The Rabbit and the Raven a cliffhanger! It made me want to read the next book very soon. 

Now for some Fast and furious fun:

Ice cream or chocolate cake? Tough decision. I love chocolate cake with buttercream frosting, but then again, chocolate chip ice cream is a favorite. Can I have both? 

Home made lemonade or rum cocktails? I’m not much of a drinker, so lemonade it is.

Cycling tour of France or a beach holiday in the Caribbean? I love to snorkel and scuba dive, so a holiday in the Caribbean sounds wonderful. 

A date with a politician or a date with Gerard Butler? I’m afraid I have a weakness for a Scottish accent, never mind Gerard Butler’s other alluring traits. Although...I’d really have to fight the urge to yell, “This is SPARTA!!” I’m guessing that would be a deal breaker for a second date. (I was brought up approximately 10 miles from where he was raised so I'm thinking he just might find that very amusing, Melissa!) 

Children or pets? Wait—there’s a difference? My ten-year-old twin boys are like non-furry pets, and my dog thinks she’s an exceptionally hairy human. Maybe I’ve been doing this wrong.

Great answers, thank you,
You can find Melissa at:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads  
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In Melissa's rafflecopter ***** GIVEAWAY ***** you can win a $25 B &N gift card or a chance for one of 5 signed copies of The Rabbit and the Raven. You can enter HERE

And now for Melissa's excerpt from The Rabbit and The Raven: 

Out of the shadows of the labyrinth, a massive beast emerged. He was bigger than Calder had been, but while Calder had been a hairless, muscled brute, this feline creature was lean, muscled in a way that was beautiful and terrible at the same time. He had the look of a sophisticated and efficient killer—covered in thick, shiny fur with black-on-black stripes. He approached Abby with a menacing deliberateness, bearing long, primeval fangs.
“Hello, Rabbit,” the creature said as he circled her slowly. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
Abby could feel the beast’s hot breath on her skin. Don’t show fear, she thought, planting her feet in a fighting stance and drawing herself up to look taller, brawnier. Look him straight in the eye. If you’re going to die, at least have a little dignity about it. She stared into his eyes and spoke his name: “Tierney.”
The creature stared back, eyeing Abby’s clenched jaw and defensive stance, and then he smiled apologetically. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” Tierney said. “I forget this face can be, shall we say, rather off-putting. Allow me to present a more pleasing visage.” His form changed, melting away like smoke, leaving black ashes lingering in the air. In the creature’s place stood a handsome young man with dark eyes—nothing like the beast he had just been.
Don’t be fooled by the illusion, Abby told herself. He’s the same monster he was before—it’s just a mask. She stood her ground, infusing her voice with authority. “On the contrary. You know that face is off-putting. That’s why you wore it.”
To her surprise, Tierney started laughing—not a mean, condescending laugh, but one of genuine, unguarded amusement. It wasn’t quite the response Abby had expected.
“Well, now,” he chuckled, “you are a surprisingly perceptive one. Do you know why I’m here?”
“I assume it’s to get to the Solas Beir by killing me,” Abby said.
“Oh, come now, Rabbit, I’m hurt. I have absolutely no such plans. None at all,” Tierney replied.
“I have trouble believing that—your reputation precedes you,” she said.
“Well, dear Rabbit, a reputation is really quite subjective, don’t you think? And you must concede that your sources may be a bit biased when it comes to me.” He began circling her again, looking her up and down. “Actually, I’m here because I heard a very interesting story about you. And I must say, I think there’s more to you than I was originally led to believe. I heard that an ordinary human girl rescued the Lightbearer by killing a Blood Shadow—and not just any Blood Shadow, mind you, but one of the strongest among us. And I wondered to myself, an ordinary human girl? How can that be?”
Abby noticed that Tierney used the term “Lightbearer” rather than David’s formal title of Solas Beir. She didn’t think it was an accident. In fact, she was certain that Tynan Tierney never said or did anything that wasn’t calculated. “What is it you want, exactly?” she demanded, putting her hands on her hips.
“Only to see if the story was true. I can see now that you’ve been underestimated. Clearly, you are no ordinary human girl. You are turning out to be much more interesting than I thought you would be, pretty little c’aislingaer,” he said.
Abby glared at him. “Thanks, but you can’t fool me into falling for flattery.”
Suddenly Tierney stepped close to Abby, his arms pulling her to him, his breath on her neck as he whispered in her ear. “No, indeed I cannot. For I have met many a fool, and you are not one.”
He was so warm, and his touch made her skin tingle, much to her chagrin. She fought to show no response, reminding herself to keep her guard up.
He continued, his lips almost grazing her skin as he talked. “What I want, Abigail, is to show you the truth—to help you see my side of the story so you can decide for yourself if my so-called reputation is deserved.” He pulled away suddenly, his head cocked to one side as if he had heard something.
Abby heard nothing.
Tierney turned back, his dark eyes on her. “Your boyfriend is coming. Better not let him catch you fraternizing with the enemy. Until we meet again, little Rabbit.” Taking her hand, he held it to his lips, kissing it with a disarming tenderness. Then he was gone—not in some magic puff of smoke, but simply not there anymore.
Abby heard the crack of a twig breaking as someone approached. Rather than feeling a sense of relief, she felt oddly guilty, like she had been caught in the act of doing something wrong. She had just survived what should have been a lethal encounter with a monster, but instead of being frightened of Tierney, she found herself attracted to him. And that terrified her.

Here's what I thought of The Rabbit and the Raven:
This was an action packed adventure with a full cast of likeable, and some not so well liked, characters. The settings are well described as the forces of light battle against the darker forces. It’s very difficult to find a totally fresh fantasy setting for readers of the genre without there seeming to be traces of other stories but Ms Ousley does a very good job in imaginatively portraying  the protagonists’ journey in  Cai Terenmare, the ‘other world’ of Solas Beir. The language flows easily since the main characters are mostly well grounded in contemporary dialect-even if some of them are not exactly human. The shape shifting aspects of the some of the ‘baddie’ characters made for an added need for me as the reader to keep up with who is who in the story.  
Things happen quickly in both Abby and David’s worlds and I like it that there is no unnecessary description to slow down the pace, yet the places and creatures are mostly imaginatively described. I enjoyed the slow build of the bonding between Jon and Marisol and I’m sure there’s more to come in Book 3 since the story is not yet ended. The relationship between Abby and David is a bit rocky at times in book 2, as Ms Ousley intends, but I wasn’t convinced about the role of Tynan Tierney as the seducer of Abby. It seemed he wasn’t quite trying hard enough, though he has the power to do bend her to his will. Tierney’s treatment of Lucia didn’t sway me either.
However, it may again be that book 3 will reveal Tierney’s intentions more clearly, since the fate of Abby is not quite known yet.
I’ll be looking out for book 3 of the series! 

NB. This review will be posted on Amazon and Goodreads very soon.  

Thank you for visiting, Melissa. My very best wishes to you for a successful tour and for great sales of your Solas Beir books.