Thomm Quackenbush: WIP interview

Thomm Quackenbush is a fantasy author living in the Hudson Valley of New York. He has written three books in the Nights Dream series – We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods – with another to follow early next year, as well as many stories. He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted, and was once unwittingly a teenage gigolo before getting sacked for non-performance. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings.  

Thomm, thank you for being here. Before we talk about your WIP, why dont you tell us a few things about yourself. Is your present as multi-faceted as your past?

My day job is teaching adjudicated minors English. Given that gangs seem to recruit from outside special education classrooms, this can be challenging on several fronts. I’ve taught two young men who went on to become murderers, but I am fairly confident I also just taught my first student there who will get his MBA.

When not writing, I do a fair bit of research for my books and promotional events. For Artificial Gods, I attended meetings and sky-watches with a group of UFO contactees, though I saw only planes. I have recently fallen in with a group that is researching the possibility of a nest of sasquatches in my town (which is, genuinely coincidentally, the setting for two of my published books and my soon-to-be-published one). This is fairly exciting since I have no idea how I will end up weaving this into a future book, but I almost have to. The Bigfoot researchers are genuinely nice people, whatever others may think of their theses. I also just returned from a stint on the artist alley at Otakon, the largest anime convention on the East Coast. I did not have spectacular sales, but I spoke to a lot of people and made a couple of connections.

Last month, I married my partner of three years, Amber Haqu. We immediately embarked on a honeymoon in California, then to Otakon (she is an artist), and then a vacation with my family, which was about three solid weeks where we did not see our own apartment for more than eleven hours at a stretch, usually while asleep. All this relaxation took its toll. I am thrilled to get back to writing and eating food less than 50% fry oil.

Exercise in lean writing: give us a synopsis of your current WIP in under 200 words.

My next book is Flies to Wanton Boys, explaining why the mythic aspects of the world (called daemons in my series) are so few and threatened with extinction unless Gideon, a reformed murdering body thief who only inhabit small animals at the moment, can convince Shane Valentine that she must have a hand in stopping the Purging from obliterating what remains of the supernatural. Unfortunately for him and for the daemons,  Shane despises him for having tried to make her one of his flesh puppets and otherwise tearing her from mundane reality, so she is somewhat of a hard sell on playing messiah to a collection of nightmares and fantasies.

Intriguing! Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

I don’t know that I am happy, necessarily. I have a half dozen books in different forms, but I think this is the current pace that befits them. If I could spend all day writing, I still don’t think I could work as quickly as my fans (or publisher) would prefer. I work at the pace that allows me to be functional and that will have to suffice for now, unless I can get a sentient operating system that will compile my notes and make sure I am not abusing the continuity.

Plotter, pantser or both?

I keep my plots loose to give my characters room to grow and tell the stories they need.  I tried to be more rigid with Artificial Gods, but found that my protagonist Jasmine refused to submit to certain plot points.  This ended up being a crucial aspect of her character and made her story much deeper than I initially intended.  When I went to revise for my revelation, I found that it was well foreshadows already. Tricky characters.

I do start with an outline and tend to know how the book has to end, but I find surprises in how the characters get there. Clive, a decidedly minor character in We Shadows and Danse Macabre (so much so that he was not formally named in the former and did not appear beyond a name and a few severed, latex feet in the latter), has turned out to be one of my favorite actors in Flies to Wanton Boys, since he points out flaws in supernatural logic while riding the line between funny and pesty. I didn’t intend for him to take on this role, since he only previously existed as proof one of my characters had other friends, but he seized it with apparently characteristic gusto.

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

Wanting to fix it before I have reached “the end.” I spent years getting each scene “perfect” in We Shadows, only to cut 60,000 words of that supposedly perfect draft to get it publishable. I’ve also heard that the scenes I did not labor over are seen as better, so who am I to argue? When I am starting a new draft, I just write and hope I can clarify any tangles of plot during revisions. Until one finishes a book, it’s hard to say what it will actually end up being about anyway.

Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself?

I tend to always have something I should be writing, so I can flit between pieces when one well goes dry (which is likely why I have so many books plotted and half-written while procrastinating my main project). Occasionally, I need to sit and read a whole book straight through to rejuvenate my mind. Either the book will be marvelous and I will be jealous enough to have a fire lighted under me (and the sloth burned out of me) or the book will be dreck and I will want to write to spite those authors.

Reading is always win-win. Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

For the most part, I can’t be too comfortable if I am to be productive. For instance, I am answering this particular question on a hard plastic chair in a Laundromat while a man attempts to fix one of the machines with much banging (I assume he is trying to fix it. At this point, he could also be trying to get out a decade worth of frustration or he might be engaging in a vigorous bout of performance art). In my prior apartment, I wrote on the floor of a small closet on a 9” Asus Eee because it balanced sensory deprivation with discomfort. Now, I write in a corner of my bedroom on a plastic desk or outside my apartment before breakfast. When I moved into this apartment, the agreement was that Amber and I would share the studio space, but it quickly became evident that I would never be able to dig out working space among her cardboard and paint. (She talks about a future apartment, where there is an office for me that she can decorate. Our friends realize she is just trying to talk herself into two studios, since I would want only walls full of butcher paper for outlines/timelines and a strong wi-fi connection. Any furniture or extraneous decoration would simply become something I would play with instead of writing.)

Balancing sensory deprivation with discomfort to write. You just gave me the pitch of this interview. But, hey, Elphie looks comfie! Maybe not after sitting on him for hours though, right? Now your workspace picture is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace board on Pinterest. Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

I use WriteMonkey to get a distraction-free draft out of me, since it doesn’t even tell me if I have misspelled something. I have also set it to make a clicking sound as I type, so I have come to associate that sound with productivity and type faster.

I think Dropbox or something of that ilk is essential for any writer and its backup has saved me more than once. The editor for Danse Macabre pointed out that a few chapters were corrupted to gibberish symbols, but I was able to find a copy among the archives that had a nearly complete version of those sections, saving me from tearing out my hair.

Though it may not strictly fall under the umbrella of this question, I am an annual participant of National Novel Writing Month, during which I bang out the first draft of a new book. It helps me to make connections and foreshadowing between books, since I am always two or three books ahead of what are on shelves, and it is so much easier to work with fifty thousand words of imperfect prose than a few pages of unwritten ideas.

I am also a huge fan of pen and paper. I know this makes me a Luddite, but I get my best and least distracted drafts when I am just handwriting. It helps that Amber got me a carbon fiber pen for one of our anniversaries, so I feel obligated to make great use of it.

Let’s bring back the “a pen to a writer” gift! How do you intend to celebrate writing The End on your draft?

By immediately starting work on the next one, which is already fifty thousand words thanks to NaNoWriMo. As I see it, I’ve got miles to go before I sleep, to borrow Frost’s phrase. Plus, I have honestly had enough celebrating recently to last me until next year.

Good luck with that! Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?

For my novels, I am grateful that Double Dragon Publishing handles everything from editing to cover design to distribution. I have beta readers, but it is hard to convince people who are not getting a paycheck that you would like their revisions within the next three months. My wife is currently my best reader and it could be because I can gently pester her over dinner.

I have started posting stories to the Kindle, which has been a fine experiment so far. I intend to make those works that are currently Amazon exclusive more widely available to make room for the next crop. For that, I lean on my artist wife for cover design and farm my editing out to a few interested parties.

Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites youd like to share?

I am still experimenting with my approach. I will say that doing conventions and panels greatly increases the interest of the reading public, though it is far from reliable and tends not to be cheap (I have only earned appearance fees from No Such Convention, which is always a fun time). In general, I recommend connecting with other authors online and see what they are up to. Very few authors these days can survive in seclusion.

If you aren’t on Goodreads, get there immediately. At the very least, it will incentivize you to read, but it also has several methods of connecting to interested readers.

True words! Your blog is http://xenex.org. Do you follow a specific branding pattern with your posts or is it a free writing platform?

It is mostly free writing, though I separate it into entries about my life (which I tend to mine for my books) and essays about writing. I’ve tried other topics, but these are the ones I tend to stick to, since I can offer a more informed opinion.

Is contemporary fantasy the genre you will brand yourself with or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

I have plans at least for a realistic comedy centered around my wedding, though it will lean more heavily on fiction than fact. However, it is hard to contest that my fantasy series sells and Double Dragon Publishing is eager to put out as many books in the series as I can write. Any author who says they are not in it for royalties is welcome to sign them over to me.

Anyone to take Thomm up on his offer? 🙂 Would you like to share with us links where we can find you and your work?

For my novels: http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/eAuthor.php?Name=Thomm%20Quackenbush or http://www.amazon.com/Thomm-Quackenbush/e/B004ZQYE5W/?_encoding=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&linkCode=ur2&tag=xenexorg-20&linkId=FW7MA5L7AG5I4ZEI

 

For me in general: https://www.facebook.com/ThommQuackenbush

http://thommquackenbush.tumblr.com

or 

https://twitter.com/thommq

Thank you, Thomm, and best of luck with your current project!

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More grit than glamour: Adagio by Delancey Stewart

Book & Author details:
Adagio by Delancey Stewart
(The Company #1)
Publication date: May 6th 2014
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Purchase Link: Amazon

 

My Review

Anna Glaser was not graced with an easy childhood, but grace she has. In spades. That is her only weapon to fight the misery of her life; becoming a prima ballerina is her sole focus. The rigor and discipline, the need for perfectionism soothes her troubled soul. So when the cold and calculating artistic director of the company she fought so hard to enter, suggests she should give him something more than her dancing, she hates him, but that being in line with how she knows life, she is willing to succumb.

Enter Cain Gilliam. The lead danseur is instantly smitten by the composed, withdrawn dark beauty. He sees that the director has designs for her outside the dance hall, and he is determined to intercept them. If only he was sure that that was what Anna truly wanted. And then it’s his own demons he has to keep at bay. But the stage’s wings hide danger in their darkness and soon Cain will have to protect more than Anna’s reputation.

I picked this book up from Xpresso Book Tours because of its dance theme. If you expect Center Stage though, you will not find it here. This story is dark. Not only because life-threatening danger lurks backstage but because both the protagonists have a dark side. Anna is not the sweet girl you will effortlessly fall in love with. She keeps barbed wire around her, making sure no one enters her personal space. She fights her feelings for Cain, and she rarely lets the reader peek into her soul. She gave me a hard time too. It was only toward the end that I started getting Anna, and maybe if I was given more of her backstory instead of snippets through dialogue, liking her would have come easier. Cain also lacked sufficient backstory to help me fully understand his sometimes too intense reactions.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading Adagio. Delancey Stewart knows her stuff. The rehearsals and dancing were super realistic, you could even smell the waxed floor and feel the agony in your own muscles. The rest of the characters–Cain’s roommates and Anna’s only girlfriend–were fleshed out and endearing. The writing itself showed spurts of brilliancy; some metaphors blew me away.

Final verdict: a very readable book, expertly handling the theme, which I would have fully enjoyed had I been given deeper insight into the MCs’ psyche.

DancerinRestMotionGiveaway:
Tour-wide giveaway
–5x eBook copies of Adagio – INTL
–A 12×16 piece of framed art called Dancer in Rest and Motion  – US only (shown left)

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Official Synopsis:

The world of professional ballet is built on illusion. The illusion of perfection. The illusion of effortless beauty. The illusion of eternal love.

But backstage, few members of the Union Ballet Company suffer from such illusions.

Anna Glaser has dreamed of nothing but dancing professionally her entire life. And when she’s finally offered a position with Union, she takes it, giving little more than a passing thought to what she might have to give up in exchange. But Sebastian Kaplan, the director who gave her the chance, won’t forget so easily.

When Anna meets Cain, who has been dubbed by the local media as Union’s most eligible bachelor, she realizes that making a deal with the devil might mean that Heaven — in the form of a gorgeous dark-haired man — is forever out of her reach.

Dancers at Union know that something that glitters and shines under the stage lights can still be vicious and evil when the lights go down.

Adagio is the first episode in the series The Company – an engaging drama-filled ride through the darker parts of the ballet and the lives of those who live to dance.

*This book contains explicit content and is suitable for readers over 17

DelanceyAUTHOR BIO

Delancey Stewart writes contemporary romance.

Stewart has lived on both coasts, in big cities and small towns. She’s been a pharmaceutical rep, a personal trainer and a direct sales representative for a French wine importer. But she has always been a writer first.

A military spouse and the mother of two small boys, her current job titles include pirate captain, monster hunter, Lego assembler and story reader. She tackles all these efforts at her current home outside Washington D.C.

Author links:

 

 

Witty and original: Red, White and Screwed by Holly Bush

Red-White-and-Screwed-Holly-Bush

Glenda Nelson is frazzled and hassled. A political strategist who sees her strategy blown to smithereens, a mother of two teens who can drive her up the wall, a daughter of decaying parents and an ex-wife of a serial cheater with a “it’s not what you think” attitude, Glenda has too much on her plate to have extra room for love. And when dazzlingly handsome, Chris Goodrich, singles her out, she has to try really hard to remember what’s it like to act womanly and even harder to open her heart and let him in. Could she still be clinging on the dream of her white knight turned philandering douche seeing the light? And will Chris be patient enough to handle her and her crazy life?

I really enjoyed this story. After reading numerous New Adult romances with fumbling heroes trying to get a grip on life, the harsh reality of a mother past her prime who learns how to reclaim her right to love and personal happiness was refreshing. Holly Bush’s writing is awesome. It reads like chick-lit: vibrant, witty, no-nonsene just like the heroine’s personality. I couln’t help but cast Amy Pohler and Greg Kinnear in the leading roles. Even the political lingo that at some points dominated the scenes instead of bogging me down, added to the authenticity of Glenda’s reality. (I’m Greek, but I have watched Spin City.)

There was one thing that I found over the top though: Chris was just too good to be true. I expected each time Glenda broke down and cried (she cries a lot!) for the other shoe to drop, some drama to ensue, but Chris stoically took everything and offered support and love. I couldn’t really connect his easiness with the fact that he is an artist fighting with disillusionment over his career path. I expected more conflict there.

That said, I recommend Red, White and Screwed for its wittiness and originality. A fun read!

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for $25.00 Amazon or B&N Gift Card!

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Cover

Official Blurb

Political strategist Glenda Nelson is having a meltdown. Her handpicked, very married Congressional candidate was just caught climbing out of the window of the Sleepytown Motel, and her philandering ex-husband seems to have the most to gain from the colossal scandal that follows. As Glenda attempts to salvage the campaign in a hotly contested race, conservative and liberal pundits pounce on the story to further their own agendas.

Glenda’s love life is nonexistent to say the least, that is, until she meets handsome artist Chris Goodrich. Chris’s easy-going, carefree outlook on life couldn’t be more different than the 90-mph crazy train that is Glenda’s, but the more time she spends with him, the more she craves his calming presence, his sexy smile, and his steamy embraces. Is Chris worth taking a chance on?

Between the pressure of full-blown spin control mode, rapidly declining job security, refereeing two teenagers, caring for aging parents, and spending hours on her therapist’s couch trying to get past her ex’s crushing betrayal, Glenda finds love and makes the long trek back to happy.

Buy Links

Amazon

B&N 

Kobo

iTunes

Holly BushAuthor Info

Holly Bush writes historical romance set on the American Prairie, in Victorian England and recently released her first Contemporary Romance. Her books are described as emotional, with heartfelt, sexy romance. She makes her home with her husband in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Connect with Holly at www.hollybushbooks.com and on Twitter @hollybushbooks and on Facebook at Holly Bush.

 

Author Links

http://www.hollybushbooks.com/

https://twitter.com/hollybushbooks

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3378392.Holly_Bush

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Holly-Bush/247399131941435?focus_composer=true&ref_type=bookmark

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My 4 Golden Rules of Writing

An excellent, empowering article on writing by Nicholas C. Rossis, bestselling author of the epic fantasy series “Pearseus”. A must read!

Nicholas C. Rossis

Found on pieroblog-citta.blogspot.com Found on pieroblog-citta.blogspot.com

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now. The main reason is that I keep coming across several writing rules that make little sense to me. Then, I came across a gem of a post by Constance Hale, “When Shakespeare Committed Word Crimes” on TED.

Constance confirmed what I long suspected: when there is tension in a language between what comes naturally and the rules, it’s because someone has tried to shoehorn the language into their idea of conformity.

Does this mean there are no rules? Not at all. It just means that the ones we are taught in workshops and classrooms are not necessarily the ones that matter to actual readers – as opposed to teachers, agents and editors. So, here are my golden rules; the ones no fiction writer should ever break, in my view:

Rule #1: Don’t let your writing get in the way of your story.

View original post 1,587 more words

Leo Valiquette – WIP Interview

leoLeo Valiquette is the author of The Sword and the Skull, an adult epic fantasy that he is currently pitching to agents. Leo was brave enough to submit the first chapter of his novel to a cross-blog critique event this blog participated in. I must admit I was seriously impressed! Next step: an in-depth interview on writing processes, aspirations and how monetizing your writing can improve your physique!

Leo, thank you for being here. Before we talk about your WIP, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself?  

I live in Ottawa, Canada, with my wife and nine-year-old son. I’m going to cite the old writer’s cliché that I have a fairly boring life. When not writing, I am trying to keep up with my reading. I keep a 65-gallon fish tank. I’ve also tried my hand at sword classes and making my own chain mail and leatherwork as research for my writing.

These days, I’m a freelance writer and marketing and public relations consultant. Much of what I do is helping businesses market their products and services, through content marketing. I was a journalist and a newspaper editor; those experiences have definitely helped with the discipline required to just sit down and write, and take constructive feedback. 

Exercise in lean writing: give us a synopsis of your current WIP in under 200 words.

To quote my query letter:

A disgraced soldier and the blind witch he loves find themselves on the run, carrying the fate of their world in a nondescript canvas sack that bishop, warlock, and sorcerer alike would kill to possess.

Since fleeing the Holy Clerisy, Ryn and Josalind have tried to build a quiet life as dealers in religious relics. When the haunted skull of the evil demigod Zang arrives on their doorstep, Josalind is convinced it’s her destiny to prevent Zang’s return.

After Zang’s worshippers capture Josalind and the skull, Ryn has one desperate chance to save her and prevent the demigod’s resurrection. He must steal the Clerisy’s holiest relic, a sentient sword that can enslave its wielder. The sword’s thirst for a final victory over Zang could break Ryn’s mind and cost thousands of innocent lives.

Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

I’m in that Limbo right now between projects. The Sword and the Skull is technically my fifth novel, but it’s the one in which I have made the greatest strides to improve as a writer. So it’s been a learning tool as well as a WIP with the intent to publish. Aside from some shorter stuff, it’s been my principal focus for several years.

And now that I am “done” and querying the MS, I’d have to say I’m not happy with the pace of my work at all. Revising and tweaking is far less daunting than starting from scratch with a blank page. I need to muster the ambition to start the next project. If I can average 1,000 words a day, I’ll be happy.

Plotter, pantser or both?

Half of one, three quarters of the other, I’d say. I need to know in a general sense where I am going in order to start the journey, but not to any great detail.

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

Time. What else? I have the advantage of being self-employed. This gives me the flexibility to juggle personal writing and client work in the course of a normal workday, depending on how busy with client work I am.

When I punched a clock for an employer, my only available writing time was of course evenings and weekends. So, while having that flexibility during the day now may seem like a godsend, it’s also led me to slip out of the habit of writing in the evening before bed. When I’m in my busy seasons for client work and don’t have the time during the day, it takes a lot to keep my writing from sliding off the radar and get back into that nighttime groove.

Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself?

Healthy eating and exercise is the sovereign cure. Seriously. About 16 months ago, I took a fitness challenge with a personal training gym, and I haven’t looked back. My blood pressure and cholesterol are the lowest they’ve ever been. My body fat percentage went from 28 to 16. I’m 44, and in the best shape of my life. I have more energy, more focus. And because of my skills as a writer and content marketer, I am exchanging services with the gym instead of paying for what is a premium service. Never forget – a strong writing skill is a currency all its own, even if you never make the New York Times best seller list.

That’s a new one! A healthier lifestyle to combat writer’s block. Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

Leo's officePicture of my home workspace attached, complete with swords and skulls.

Here is a panoramic of my favorite local coffee shop: http://bit.ly/1pLgB8H

Very cozy! Now your workspace is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace board on Pinterest! Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

Not really. Unless the Lord of the Rings soundtrack counts 🙂

I’m sure it does! How do you celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

I take a break to read a book. I find it hard to focus on reading for pleasure when I’m drafting.

Would you consider self-publishing if the process of acquiring an agent takes too long?

That’s a tough one. I’m only now at the point where I truly believe I’ve learned enough, and gained enough insight into my own writing, to have a marketable product. I know there are many writers out there who are excellent writers and self-published successes. But I know too, there are many people who have succumbed to their own impatience and self-published works that just weren’t ready. I still see reputable agents as the gatekeepers of quality, and as business partners and advocates to shoulder the administrative burden of managing a career.

But it is a highly subjective business, and if the agent route continues to disappoint, I might very well decide to self-publish. If I do, I will make sure to invest in professional editing and original cover design. You need every edge you can get.

Do you have any marketing or professional tips you’d like to share?

I’ve often drawn the comparison between a writer seeking publication and an entrepreneur trying to bring a product to market. You have to treat this as a business. As with any business venture, you must be prepared for failure, and you must see every failure as a learning opportunity.

The sooner you can accept your weaknesses, the quicker you can move past them and be the better for it. You can’t become a better writer without checking your ego at the door and taking to heart the most eagle-eyed and frank criticism you can find. Usually, this means someone who has been through the ringer with agents and publishers.

So after you’ve accomplished all you can with the kind of feedback you get from friends, family and your writing group, it’s time to cultivate a more battle-scarred network of people. Go to conferences. Attend workshops. Socialize online. Even pay for professional editing and MS assessments – BUT research carefully to ensure you are dealing with a reputable individual who will give you good value for your money. There are a lot of snake oil salesmen out there looking to fleece you.

As every successful entrepreneur knows, the key to marketing is to have a compelling product your audience wants. It’s practically impossible to create that in a vacuum, locked away from the rest of the world.

Is epic fantasy the genre you will brand yourself with or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

I’ve got a few different directions I want to go. The Sword and the Skull is the first in a planned series. But I have also written shorter works – 6,000 to 12,000 words – that will be the basis for books in different genres. One is an adult sci-fi dystopian, set in my part of Canada. Another is a contemporary dark fantasy.

Would you like to share with us links where we can find you and your work?

I am on Twitter: @LeoValiquette

You can find the first chapter of The Sword and the Skull at wattpad.com: http://www.wattpad.com/66499562-the-sword-and-the-skull-chapter-one?d=ud

Thank you for sharing your work process and workspace and best of luck securing an agent for The Sword and the Skull!

Vibrant and heartwarming: Adam’s List by Jennifer Ann

Adam’s List by Jennifer Ann is a noteworthy New Adult contemporary romance. The review opportunity was offered to me by Xpresso Book Tours.

Jewels made a drunken mistake in her late teens, and when tragedy struck, she let guilt eat her alive. The vicious depression cycle she rode took her from days on end curled up in bed when she was “down” to crazy frat partying when she was “up”. And then she met Adam.

Sweet, handsome, supporting Adam with the infectuous laugh snuck right into Jewels’ heart and set camp for life. But when she disentangles herself from her messy life to attach to him, he drops the bomb. Two bombs actually: he has a deep, dark secret, and he’s not looking for love; only a friend to follow him to the trip he promised his dying friend.

Can Jewels evict Adam from her heart? Can he resist the funny, cheeky, gorgeous girl who helps him tick items off his list? And when his life-altering secret comes out, will their love survive? Will they, for that matter?

Both Jewels and Adam have way too much on their plate plus overbearing parents. Their getaway is a much needed escape from their lives. But it’s not without disastrous consequences that made me wonder if this book has a HEA. The young couple’s chemistry is off the charts, and their intimate scenes are hot but also so so sweet. In fact sex scenes were not needed to raise the heat level. The kissing moments are so expertly written and with such thoroughness and emotion they could easily suffice.

Adam’s List is as New Adult as they come. Vibrant, fresh, sexy, angsty, heartwarming, it’s got all the ingredients in the right dosage. The drama that’s gradually revealed also helps to raise awareness on an issue I won’t disclose because it would be a major spoiler, and that’s another plus point for Jennifer Ann. I enjoyed the writing. Partly effervescent, partly dark, it kept a rhythm that drew me in. This happened to be the second in a row book that I read where the couple tours New York (the previous book was Truly by Ruthie Knox which I reviewed here) and now I have such a huge appetite to visit a city that apparently is so full of life, it manages to istill its vibrancy into you. Yeah, that’s something I deparately need.

Thumbs up for Jennifer’s Ann, Adam’s List. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Purchase Links

Amazon

B & N

Kobo

Learn more about Jennifer Ann and connect with her here.

Nicholas C. Rossis on Sale: All books now 99c

This is a series not to miss. Seriously. To drive my point home, I’m inserting my review of the bundle:

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the three books in the Pearseus series, and I’m not a big sci-fi/fantasy fan. But these books offer so much! Are you a history buff? Test yourself, deciphering the amazing analogies presented here. Do you appreciate philosophy? Existentialism and a Cartesian outlook are expertly woven into the stories. Are those aspects too profound, and you’re looking for hot action and fleshed-out relatable characters? Stay put. Are you skeptical, thinking that those fantasy tales spread themselves too thin in plots and sub-plots? (I usually am.) The author here has placed each character’s point of view in a separate short chapter, so that you can follow the story and the character’s thoughts clearly, eliminating confusion. Oh, and the writing is excellent!

All in all, I highly recommend this series.

____________________

Nicholas C. Rossis

All of Nicholas C. Rossis books on sale, August 20-27

In case you’ve missed the huge sale banner on my blog (and it’s okay if you have, I, too, filter out banners and such most of the time), here’s the deal:

Between the 20th and 27th, all of my books will be only 99c!

As I’ve kept the book prices on various offers for a while now, this is the last chance (for a few months, anyway) to get the best-selling Pearseus epic fantasy books for less than a cup of coffee.

You can also grab a copy of The Power of Six, which contains seven short sci-fi stories, plus a bonus link to an otherwise unreleased one. Again, eight short stories for less than a cup of joe. So, don’t be shy, give it a try (sorry, I always wanted to say that!).

Any help getting the word out,will be much appreciated! 🙂

Buy Links:

Buy the Pearseus epic fantasy bundle (3…

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Amazon now Allows Pre-orders to Authors

You’re probably already aware of this new possibility, but my friend, Nicholas, gives a detailed “how-to” account of how to set up the pre-order option and what to expect. I can’t wait to finalize the cover of my debut novel, Fate Accompli, so that I can take advantage of the opportunity to raise awareness through this.

Nicholas C. Rossis

kdplogoA month ago, I published Mad Water, the third book in my epic fantasy series Pearseus. I had announced the imminent publication on social media and to my friends. A lot of them asked me if they could pre-order the book.

“I’m afraid Amazon doesn’t support pre-orders,” I had to explain, to my dismay.

Which is why I am so excited to announce that it now does! I came across the good news the other day, and knew I had to share with you.

According to the Amazon website, you can now make your new books available for pre-order in Kindle Stores worldwide. Setting a pre-order allows customers to order your book as early as 90 days before your book’s release date. When you make your book available for pre-order, customers can order the book anytime leading up to the release date you set and it will be delivered to…

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(Review) Truly by Ruthie Knox

Truly-Ruthie-Knox

Truly

New York Series #1

By: Ruthie Knox

Releasing August 5th, 2014

Loveswept

This promo and review tour is brought to you by Tasty Book Tours. Scroll down to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway and read a highly readable excerpt of a “truly” empowering contemporary romance.

RITA finalist and New York Times bestselling author Ruthie Knox kicks off a steamy new series set in the city that never sleeps—alone, at least.

Cover

My Review

May is a Midwestern-girl, taught to behave, be nice and avoid all things that are not for “people like us”. Being quite tall (and feeling enormous) she considers herself more than lucky to be singled out by Dan, an easy-going, uncomplicated NFL quarterback, and she centers her life around him, even moving to New York, a frightening city hardly for “people like us”. But then he goes and does something unexpected, saying all things expected—wrongly—and May lashes out. In a gone-viral way. And then she’s on her own; broke, lost and, most importantly, not knowing who she is and what she wants.

Ben is on the mend. His hot-headedness made him lose everything on both a personal and a professional level, and now he’s got to find a way to stand on his own two feet. Maybe chatting up the tall blond girl with the deer-caught-in-headlights eyes, and appearing civil is just what he needs. Offering her his couch to spend the night and then become her tour guide in an effort to make her see the city he loves through his own eyes is way more than he bargained for. But he does it. And he loves it. It … not her, surely. Because if these two are to be together, they must not only step outside their comfort zone; they must make a record-breaking leap and re-invent themselves while at it. Can love be their launching pad?

Ruthie Knox is my queen. She’ll say she looks nothing like a queen just like the characters she creates are anything but royalty. Normal, everyday men and women, far from stunning and perfect. Ruthie is one of the Wonkomance ladies. All of their characters are faulty either internally or externally. (One of my favorite Ruthie characters is Sean from Flirting with Disaster, who stutters so much he won’t even pronounce Katie’s name.)

But writing-wise she’s the Queen of romance. I haven’t read anyone who’s delved deeper than her in her characters’ psyche. She’s capable of unpicking their long-ingrained threads of beliefs, prejudices, stereotypes thoroughly, slowly, expertly until they emerge cleansed and shed in a whole new glorious light.

All of her books are life lessons, and Truly is one of the most important. Mild-mannered, good-natured May with the faulty self-image is a character that will resonate with most readers. Instilling her love to self-doubting, perennially angry Ben is beyond sweet. Standing up to her life choices is beyond empowering. Ben is a chef, and him feeding May real, messy, calory-clogged food just to see her moan must be one of the most arousing, non-bedroom scenes I’ve ever read. Tasting New York as May experiences it beats seeing it through Carry Bradshaw’s eyes with a solid broomstick—dressed in a tutu (okay, that was an over-the-top Sex and the City analogy, but you get my point).

Have you guessed how much I loved this book? I laughed, cried and everything in between. Ruthie’s writing is a study on how not to write a single romance cliché. Heartwarming, funny, steamy hot, heart-clenching at times, and so gloriously real, this is a must MUST read.

Official Blurb

May Fredericks hates New York. Which is fair enough, since New York seems to hate her back. After relocating to Manhattan from the Midwest to be with her long-distance boyfriend, NFL quarterback Thor Einarsson, May receives the world’s worst marriage proposal, stabs the jerk with a shrimp fork, and storms off alone—only to get mugged. Now she’s got no phone, no cash, and no friends. How’s a nice girl supposed to get back to safe, sensible Wisconsin?

Frankly, Ben Hausman couldn’t care less. Sure, it’s not every day he meets a genuine, down-to-earth woman like May—especially in a dive in the Village—but he’s recovering from an ugly divorce that cost him his restaurant. He wants to be left alone to start over and become a better man. Then again, playing the white knight to May’s sexy damsel in distress would be an excellent place to start—if only he can give her one very good reason to love New York.

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21521738-truly-the-new-york-series

Buy Links

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eBooks.com

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OR,

Amazon:

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Ruthie KnoxAuthor Info

New York Times bestselling author Ruthie Knox writes contemporary romance that’s sexy, witty, and angsty—sometimes all three at once. Her debut novel, Ride with Me, is probably the only existing cross-country bicycling love story. She followed it up with About Last Night, a London-based romance whose hero has the unlikely name of Neville, and then Room at the Inn, a Christmas novella—both of which were finalists for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award.

Her four-book series about the Clark family of Camelot, Ohio, has won accolades for its fresh, funny portrayal of small-town Midwestern life. Ruthie also writes New Adult romance as Robin York. She moonlights as a mother, Tweets incessantly, and bakes a mean focaccia. She’d love to hear from you, so visit her website and drop her a line.

 

Author Links

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TRULY

EXCERPT

(from Chapter One)

The bartender had begun cleaning the counter with a damp rag. He shuffled closer to her, sweep by sweep, and cleared his throat.

Nervous, May lifted her beer and drained it, realizing only with the last warm swallow what she’d done.

“Can I get you another round?” he asked.

This was it, then. Time to go.

But the line was behind her, drawn across the floor, invisible but there, and she didn’t want to leave.

She had to choose. Dan’s apartment or this bar. Before or After.

“Maybe,” she said. “Do you have a wine list?”

“I think we’ve got one somewhere in the back.” His disapproving tone made it clear that no one ever asked for a wine list here. Which, yes—she might not know Manhattan, but she knew bars—this was not the sort of place where you asked for a wine list.

“Can you look for me?”

“Sure.” He put his rag down and walked toward a door marked private. She saw him roll his eyes as he passed the guy.

The guy didn’t look up. He wasn’t interested in the bartender any more than he was interested in her. But his companion wasn’t here yet, and maybe wasn’t coming. He could talk to her for a few minutes, buy her a drink. It wouldn’t kill him.

May hopped off her stool, sucked in her stomach, and approached. “What are you reading?” she asked.

The guy canted the book so she could see the cover, but his hand covered most of the title. All she could read was the word Dying.

“Any good?”

He didn’t look at her. He was a bent, dark head, an ear, a declaratory elbow. When she heard a low voice, it took her a second to understand that it belonged to him. “They’ve got their mother’s corpse in a coffin in the back of this wagon, and they’re taking her into town to bury her. The youngest kid thinks the dead mother is a fish, but he also thinks she can’t breathe, so he bores holes into the coffin and right into her face.”

The bridge of her nose wrinkled. A totally involuntary response.

“One of the two older sons is going insane,” he added. “The other one’s broken leg is starting to rot, and the sister’s knocked up.”

A few beats passed. She tried to think of some kind of segue into normal conversation. The best she could do was “Yeah, but is it any good?”

“It’s super.” He injected the maximum amount of sarcasm into the word.

Sarcasm didn’t scare her. Her sister, Allie, had spent her freshman and sophomore years of high school dripping it all over everyone.

“I’m May.” She extended her hand.

He looked away from the book then, though not at her face. At her hand first. Then down at her shoes, which made him frown. She allowed him some leeway there, because she was wearing dark green leather flats with bows on the toes, and she didn’t like them much, either.

When he lifted his gaze, it got stuck on her breasts for an uncomfortable period of twelve to fifteen years. “Ben,” he told them.

This offense was harder to forgive. Men had been addressing her breasts since she was thirteen. Her breasts had yet to respond to this treatment.

I’m up here.

She didn’t say it aloud, but his head lifted, and he finally looked right at her.

He had sort of sleepy eyelids that went with his broad-planed face, his full mouth—a face that made her think of bear-taming and those male dancers in the tall black boots and flouncy white shirts who crossed their arms and stuck their legs out.

Slavic, that was it.

His eyes were brown, lighter than they should have been in the middle and rimmed with black. Weird eyes.

Weirder still, he didn’t seem embarrassed to have been caught boob-ogling, and he didn’t take her hand. She had to retrieve it from the air in between them and find a place to stow it along the seam of her pants.

“What’s with the jersey?” he asked.

“Hmm?”

“Season doesn’t start until next week.”

Oh. The stupid jersey. Not her breasts.

“Believe me, I know.”

“Plus, Einarsson is a douche.”

Right. That.

Even back home, she sometimes got flack about continuing to wear the old jersey of a quarterback who’d abandoned the Packers for the Jets, only to lead his new team to a Super Bowl victory against the old one. She might as well be sporting a pin that read, I support Benedict Arnold!

Still, douche seemed a little harsh.

Ben sat up straighter, his eyes refocusing on something over her right shoulder. He slid off his bar stool and raised a hand. May turned just as another man came off the last basement step and into the bar. A blond, good-looking man who actually knew how to smile.

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The Mariner’s Gift by Kaylie Newell (Tasty Book Blast)

Brought to you by Tasty Book Tours, Kaylie Newell’s, the Mariner’s Gift, is a summer read guaranteed to please. Zola seems confident and composed on the outside, but seeing her high school crush, Oliver, still gorgeous and sought after, brings all her teen insecurities to the surface. Yet a single kiss blasts sparks brighter than the fireworks lighting up the night sky…

If I’ve sparked your interest, read on to sample the book through an excerpt and…

Enter Below to Win
$10.00 Amazon eGift Card

 

 

Sometimes the best gifts are the ones you least expect.

When LA Times journalist Zola Mitchell decides to head home to San Francisco in December, it’s to write a piece on the legendary Alcatraz prison. It has nothing to do with her high school crush Oliver Tworek, who’s recently moved back to start up a tour boat business to The Rock. At least, that’s what she keeps telling herself.

But when Oliver asks her to dinner, Zola can’t refuse. And when he kisses her under a display of Christmas fireworks from aboard his boat, she can barely remember her own name.

After twenty years, nothing seems to have changed. Oliver’s still popular and gorgeous, and Zola’s still…well, Zola. Behind the successful job, and underneath her shiny, new grown-up exterior, Zola still feels like the skinny girl from junior year English class. Will she ever be able to conquer those insecurities? And more importantly, will she ever get to know the real Oliver—the one who might just have a few secrets of his own?

 

Excerpt

“Zo?”

She smiled, feeling the blood rush to her cheeks. She hadn’t told him she was coming and hoped he wouldn’t be irritated. The thought of surprising him had seemed romantic and fun earlier. Now, with him actually standing there, wearing nothing but a pair of loose-fitting jeans and a sexy white t-shirt that left little to the imagination, she wondered if she should have given him some notice.

“Oliver! Hey.” She took his hand and let him help her over the side of the boat. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything. I know you’re working.”

His skin felt delicious on hers. He held on just a second longer than he needed to before stepping back to take her in.

“Don’t be ridiculous. You know I wanted to see you.”

He looked fantastic. And very much in shape. The old Coast Guard t-shirt fit just right across his chest, and was snug enough that his nipples, hard from the cold night air, could be seen under the fabric.

Zola caught herself looking and shoved the cookies at him, flustered. “Hope you like chocolate chip. They’re kind of a Mitchell tradition.”

“Thank you.”

A string of white lights hung behind him in the window, illuminating him like some kind of angel. But unlike any angel she’d ever imagined before. This angel made her want to discard her undergarments in the bay and tackle him headfirst.

Touching her elbow, he guided her toward the cabin. “You must be cold.”

“I really shouldn’t stay. I just wanted to say hello.”

He grinned. “I think you can probably come inside for five minutes, can’t you? I won’t bite.”

Really? At this point all she could think about was when he’d end up biting and where that might be.

She took the first step down, careful not to twist her ankle in the heels. They were too much for a casual visit, but who was she kidding anyway? She could feel him behind her and something about stepping into the cabin of the boat, which was so secluded and sexy, made her ovaries twitch. She had to bend slightly so as not to bump her head through the doorframe, then straightened to look around.

The small area was bathed in warm, yellow light from a miniature lamp in the corner. A table top tree under one of the circular windows smelled of pine and boasted shining glass balls of green, red, and blue. Dark, cherry wood cabinets rose from floor to ceiling on either side of her. There was a small bed and a tiny kitchen area, and next to that a workspace where a pile of papers was spread out. The boat was beautiful. It rocked seductively on the water, and even that didn’t bother Zola, thanks to the magic of Dramamine.

Something else was working its magic on her too. Maybe it was the temperature inside the cabin, warm and cozy enough that she felt the need to start unbuttoning her jacket. Or maybe it was the way Oliver stood leaning against the doorway looking at her. Like he wanted to be the one to work the buttons loose. His short, blond hair was messy and soft looking. His eyes not holding much back.

Zola laid her jacket on the bunk, trying her best to look composed and confident. When in reality, big, clumsy butterflies were bumping around in her belly. The air between them was charged. She knew he wanted more than just the kiss they’d shared the last time they saw each other. And she did too.

 

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Kaylie Newell lives at the base of the mountains in Southern Oregon with her husband, two little girls, two cats, and a mutt named Pedro who goes everywhere with her. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually watching a Channing Tatum movie or eating frozen waffles, or both.
 
 
 
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