Friday, September 28, 2012

WINNER of The Stranger She Married

Congratulations, Bonnie Harris! Rafflecopter chose you to win The Stranger She Married by Donna Hatch.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this giveaway!

Monday, September 24, 2012

GIVEAWAY of The Stranger She Married

Hooray, a GIVEAWAY! Enter here today to win a signed copy of The Stranger She Married by Donna Hatch, one of my favorite authors that I was lucky enough to interview on my blog last week.

When her parents and only brother die within weeks of each other, Alicia and her younger sister are left in the hands of an uncle who has brought them all to financial and social ruin. Desperate to save her family from debtor's prison, Alicia vows to marry the first wealthy man to propose. She meets the dashing Lord Amesbury, and her heart whispers that this is the man she is destined to love, but his tainted past may forever stand in their way. Her choices in potential husbands narrow to either a scarred cripple with the heart of a poet, or a handsome rake with a deadly secret.

Cole Amesbury is tormented by his own ghosts, and believes he is beyond redemption, yet he cannot deny his attraction for the girl whose genuine goodness touches the heart he'd thought long dead. He fears the scars in his soul cut so deeply that he may never be able to offer Alicia a love that is true.

When yet another bizarre mishap threatens her life, Alicia suspects the seemingly unrelated accidents that have plagued her loved ones are actually a killer's attempt to exterminate every member of her family. Despite the threat looming over her, learning to love the stranger she married may pose the gr
eatest danger to her heart.
(from Goodreads)

The Stranger She Married is the first book of Donna's Regency series, so there is more to come! Thank you, Donna, for the signed copy!

There are several easy ways to enter, and you can earn multiple entries which will only help your odds. Like Donna's Facebook page, follow Donna on twitter, leave a comment, and other options are listed on Rafflecopter below. This giveaway ENDS FRIDAY at MIDNIGHT (Eastern Time), so be sure to enter before then! Thank you for entering, and good luck!

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Donna's Blog (click here)
Donna's Amazon Page (click here)
The Stranger She Married by Donna Hatch
Queen in Exile by Donna Hatch
The Guise of a Gentleman by Donna Hatch
Constant Hearts, Inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion by Donna Hatch

Friday, September 21, 2012

Author Interview with Donna Hatch

Welcome, Donna Hatch, author of gripping romance novels including The Guise of a Gentleman, The Stranger She Married, and Queen in Exile. Her books have won several awards, and they are among my favorites!

First, some fun stuff about Donna:

Donna, what is one of your most embarrassing moments?
Realizing a guy in one of my classes I'd been talking to all semester was, indeed, a girl. Yeah, lots of replayed conversations wondering how many times I'd stuck my foot in my mouth when I thought she was a he.

Oh. My. Goodness! That is embarrassing. I definitely want to hear more about that one later! What are you most passionate about, other than writing?

Favorite Quote
“For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.” -Judy Garland

Any reoccurring nightmares? Humor us.
I'm terrified of spiders, and have frequent dreams of spiders--usually humongous spiders--crawling toward me or on me.

You and Ronald Weasley (add ME to the list, too!). Five favorite movies. Go.
Somewhere in Time, Sense and Sensibility (actually all of the Jane Austens), Tangled, While You Were Sleeping, Enchanted

I love it! We have similar tastes in shows. List five of your favorite novels (I know, rude to ask for only five since I’m sure there are many!) 
You're right--totally hard question, but here are some that really stick out in my mind:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
This is All I Ask by Lynn Kurland
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena
A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist

There are some on that list I’ll have to add to my to-read pile. Donna, what hidden talent do you possess besides writing?
I don't know how talented I am, but I love to sing, dance, and play the harp.

Donna’s Books:

Tell us about your all-time favorite character (of your own creation).
Jared from The Guise of a Gentleman was so fun to write. I did absolutely no characterization on him, he was such a wild card, and so fully developed, that it felt like I ran around after him and madly typed everything he did. I even dreamed about him. Vividly.

I just downloaded The Guise of a Gentleman on my Kindle, so this makes me extra excited to read about Jared! How did you come up with the premise for Queen in Exile?
That was a 20-year project that started when I was in high school and evolved significantly. I honestly have no idea where the original story was born but when I heard the song; All I Ask of You from Phantom of the Opera, I thought that could have been their theme song.

Wow! I love Queen in Exile, so that was a fun tidbit for me to learn. Character, setting or plot: which one is most important to you and why?
My books are very character-driven, but setting and plot are so crucial that I have a hard time separating them because they are all interwoven. The setting dictates much of who the characters are, and the plot is basically what they do and why they do it which can create fairly complicated plots with some adventure or intrigue.

Well said! Last of all, what project are you working on now, Donna?
I'm doing final edits on a novella and revisions on a full-length novel which is book 3 of my Regency series. I hope to have good news about that soon.

I hope so too. I, for one, will be looking forward to everything Donna Hatch in the future. Thank you for interviewing on my blog, Donna!

Thanks so much for having me.

Donna and several other great authors (Sarah M. Eden, Heidi Ashworth, Annette Lyon, Joyce DiPastena and Heather B. Moore) have teamed up to publish A Timeless Winter Anthology, a collection of romantic short stories that will be available this fall (just in time for Christmas!). Here is the cover (isn't it a beauty?):

You can find out more about Donna on her website, her blog, or her Facebook pageI love comments! AND be sure to check back Monday morning to enter a GIVEAWAY of one of Donna's novels!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review of POSSESSION by Elana Johnson

Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even thinkabout kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play. (from Goodreads)


Possession is a novel that stayed in my head long after I turned the last page. Probably because ElanaJohnson depicts such unique, memorable characters. I can't get Violet out of my head, and let's not even start about Jag. Mmm, Jag. One word spirngs to mind when thinking about Jag: nice. Which you'd have to read the novel to understand, because Jag is actually bad!

You see, in the world of Possession the population is controlled by Thinkers. People are literally brain washed into behaving perfectly. Anyone who doesn't comply is "bad," and Jag is one of them. The only problem? Violet simply can't resist him (and neither could I!).

The beginning of this novel sucked me in, particularly the budding relationship between Violet and Jag which was both romantic and humorous. Great characters. Excellent dialogue. And Elana has an especially entertaining voice. The premise behind Possession is captivating and the unique dystopian world intriguing. Although I couldn’t understand some of Violet’s reactions, I fell in love with main characters Violet and Jag. Overall, Possession took me on an exciting journey that I really enjoyed. And, for the record, I loved the final chapter. It made me ache to read more!!! I will definitely be reading the sequel!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Author Interview with Jennifer Jabaley

A few weeks ago I picked up Crush Control by Jennifer Jabaley and died of laughter! This young adult romantic comedy about hypnosis gone crazy is a fun read, and I'm excited to have Jennifer on my blog today. First, a little bit about Crush Control:

When Willow Grey was nine, her mom dropped the bomb of ultimate betrayal: they would be moving from their small town in Georgia to glitzy Las Vegas. Willow was devastated to have to leave her best friend, Max, behind. So she decided to take control of the situation: she told Max to relax, to let his eyelids droop and then she said: "Max Montgomery, for as long as we live, you and I will be best friends..."
Now, at seventeen, Willow and her mom move back to their hometown and Willow is determined to pick up where she and Max left off. But even though he's still her best friend, his heart now belongs to someone else—and Willow realizes that what she feels for him is so much more than just friendship. For the second time in her life, Willow finds herself using hypnosis to get what she wants. But what starts off as a harmless experiment soon spirals into chaos and Willow is forced to wonder: Is the heart really something you can control—with mind control?

Welcome, Jennifer! I'm curious. Have you been hypnotized before? What was it like? If not, are you ever tempted to be hypnotized?
No. I did attend a hypnosis show in Las Vegas while researching for the book but I was not hypnotized myself. I learned that people who like to remain in control are not easily hypnotized.  I'm pretty type A and I don't think I'd really relinquish my control - especially not on a stage!! Now if it was for a medical reason - like to help fight a habit or something - I might be amenable to try.

A trip to Vegas for research. Not bad! I'm a pretty remain-in-control type person myself, so I've always wondered if I could be hypnotized. Jennifer, you have a knack for writing humor (I was laughing out loud!). What advice/tips do you have on writing humor?
Oh, well, thank you! I do not think I'm witty at all but I like to create situational humor - which in my opinion is much easier to do. I have great respect for naturally humorous people! I, on the other hand, have to assemble circumstances that everyone can relate to, like embarrassment or humiliation.  I think the biggest tip for writing comedy would be to read comedy or watch it. See what works, what you connect with and what comes across as trying too hard.  

If you had mad hypnotist skills like Willow and could hypnotize anyone, who would you hypnotize and what would you have them do?

Oh, my kids and my husband, lol! They would suddenly love to do the laundry and clean the bathrooms.... :)

Wise choice! Any reoccurring nightmares? Humor us. 

Ok, I'm going to go with this one because no one has ever asked me this before and I have a very true story. When I was in about third grade I had a recurring nightmare (I'm talking this went on for months - close to a year) where the Incredible Hulk smashed through the sliding glass doors in our house and kidnapped me.  He'd haul me over his shoulder, drag me into the woods in our backyard and then I'd wake up.  Oh, it was terrible.  When The Avengers movie came out and my kids got Hulk masks it kind of made me shudder.

Hilarious! Why are people always chasing us in our dreams (the Hulk, no less)? Character, setting or plot: which one is most important to you and why?
For me, it's all about characters.  I've given a lecture at writing seminars about characterization and it's my absolute favorite topic. Because I think if you relate and identify with a character, really, almost any plot or setting will work. Conversely, if the reader does not identify with the character, it has to be a really, really intriguing plot to make it work.

Agreed! And I'd love to hear your lecture someday. On that note, do you have any advice to give aspiring authors?
Find an idea or story that you love.  You will have to love it as much one year after you start working on it as you do the day you think of it.  Sometimes more.  A novel takes many years to go from creation to publication (if that's your goal) and you have to be willing to invest a lot of blood sweat and tears into it. And learn that people's opinions of your work are not their thoughts about you as a person or your worth. Nowadays with the internet, there are so many avenues for authors to read crushing reviews or negative thoughts about their novels.  It can be crippling if you let it. You really have to remember that fiction is subjective and not everyone is going to like what you write. Write what YOU love and be proud of it.

I've invested tears and sweat for sure but no blood yet, so I'll keep going! Great answers, Jennifer. Thank you for interviewing on my blog!

I LOVE COMMENTS!  If YOU could hypnotize anyone, who would it be and what would you have them do (within reason!)  ;)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Giveaway of "The Secret Journal of Brett Colton"

There are four easy ways to enter! See below!

 Kay Lynn Mangum is a published author of popular LDS novels (and, trust me, they're great!).

Kathy Colton can’t stand her brother, Brett. Her family talks as if he were perfect! All Kathy knows for sure is that Brett is dead. He died of leukemia when he was sixteen and she was only two. But when Kathy turns sixteen, she discovers her brother’s hidden journal – a journal written especially for her - and learns about the brother she never knew. At the same time, Kathy is mortified by an assignment to tutor the popular high school quarterback Jason West, a football jock who, even worse, is a Mormon. 

The book giveaway will start on Thursday, September 6th and end on Tuesday the 11th. Be sure to enter before midnight on Tuesday! See Rafflecopter below for four easy ways to enter the giveaway (1) LIKE Kay Lynn Mangum on Facebook, 2) Tweet about this giveaway, 3) Follow this blog, and/or 4) LIKE The Secret Journal of Brett Colton on Facebook. Sign in on Rafflecopter below. Also, I love comments; please, make sure I have a way to contact you should you win. Thanks for entering!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thank you, Kay Lynn Mangum, for the signed copy of The Secret Journal of Brett Colton!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Interview with Author Kay Lynn Mangum

Today I am super excited to have Kay Lynn Mangum, author of The Secret Journal of Brett Colton, for an interview! I recently read her YA contemporary novel When the Bough Breaks and loved it. Amazing characters, well-written, and touching. I can't wait to read The Secret Journal of Brett Colton, and how cool is this...I get to interview the author beforehand?!

Welcome, Kay Lynn, and thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions. Just for fun...

Five of your favorite movies. Go.
Star Wars (Who doesn’t love this movie??)
Gone With the Wind (Always brings back great memories of watching this with my mom – it’s her favorite of all time!)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (I watch this whenever I feel down – it always makes me laugh!)
Mrs. Miniver / The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (I couldn’t pick between two of my favorite black and whites!)
Rebel Without a Cause (Truly the first “real” teen movie ever made.  And still one of the best.) 

Agreed! Those are all great ones. My husband and I still pop in the old Star Wars every now and then (and we've probably watched them a million times!). Next, please list five of your favorite novels (I know, rude to ask for only five since I’m sure there are many!)

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman
Alexander Lloyd’s The Book of Three series (I can’t pick just one from this series!)
The Blue Sword and Sunshine by Robin McKinley (I couldn’t pick just one of her books!)
Anything by Lois Duncan 
Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson (I couldn’t leave this off – it’s such a wonderful novel!)

What hidden talent do you possess besides writing? Don’t be shy!
I love photography, and am usually the one called on to take pictures at any and every family event.  After taking one beginner class just for fun, I was hooked, and had to invest in a camera that would allow me to take great shots.  I’ve taken so many pictures over the past few years I had to get an external hard drive just for storing pictures alone! 

Why did you begin writing?
I learned to read before I started kindergarten and loved the magic books created for me, giving me a door into other places and times.  I began thinking up my own stories, and acting them out with my stuffed animals and dolls as plays until I learned to write and could put them down on paper.  It was just something I did for fun.  I loved creative writing assignments in elementary school and figured my teachers were telling everyone their stories were great, so I didn’t pay too much attention to any teacher who told me I wrote good stories.  
By sixth grade, my teacher told my parents to encourage me because she knew I’d be published someday. That’s when I started to take this “hobby” -- just something I did for fun to entertain myself -- much more seriously!  It was a strange thing for me, being told something I did for fun could become an actual career if I worked hard enough at it, but I took my teacher’s comments seriously and spent my junior high and high school years taking writing classes and entering short story contests.  After I placed in a few of them, it seemed a natural progression to move from short story writing into novel writing.  All of the novels I’ve written so far – both my published and unpublished books – are based on my short stories.  It’s been great to have so much ready material to draw from for writing novels!

Wow, was that sixth-grade teacher spot on. I hope she knows what an impact she had. How awesome! Do you have any writing quirks?
I have to have complete and utter silence in order to get any good writing done.  No noise, no music -- I even turn off my phone so there’s no chance of that going off and distracting me.

Ah, peace and quiet (I've almost forgotten what that sounds like!). :) Character, setting or plot: which one is most important to you and why?

If you don’t have three-dimensional characters the reader is drawn to and cares about – especially your main character – it’s going to be hard for a reader to care about your plot.  It doesn’t matter how great your plot is, or how clever the twists and turns are, if you haven’t created characters your reader cares about and wants to see “win.”  I’ve learned this the hard way.  Be sure to not get so involved in the plot that you forget to develop your characters.   

I agree! And, might I plug in, your characters really jumped off the page at me, so you know what you're talking about! Do you write with an outline or just see where the story goes?

I don’t write the first word of a novel until I’ve outlined the entire thing.  That doesn’t mean that I’m going to stick completely to my outline, but for me, having an outline to use as a road map helps me to get from the beginning to the end of the story without finding dangling plot threads at the novel’s end.  And, an outline helps me to avoid lengthy re-writes due to forgetting that something I’d established at the beginning of the book was forgotten about along the way.  This doesn’t work for all writers, but it’s the only way I can write a book!

Have you written a book you love that you have not published?
I’ve written two since I wrote my third published novel – one of which I’ve reworked and rewritten a good five times now since 2009.  I’m trying to break into the national market through gaining agent representation, and although I’m still sending out agent query letters on both books, in the meantime, I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity I’ve had to attend writing conferences and make connections with other writers, agents, and editors.  I love writing too much to stop, so hopefully I will find that perfect agent for me who will connect with my books and love them as much as I do! 

What project are you working on now?
At the moment, I’ve been having a lot of fun writing a YA novel that takes place in the 1950’s based on experiences my parents had while they were in high school.  It’s completely outlined, and I’m now writing the chapters.  I’m hoping to have this one completed before Thanksgiving.

I, for one, can't wait to read it. Sounds like an intriguing setting/time for a novel. Last of all, Kay Lynn, do you have any advice to give aspiring authors?
Believe in yourself.  Believe your work is great and worth your time to create, yet at the same time, know it can be improved and be prepared for criticism.
Surround yourself with friends who believe in you and your dreams, and will encourage and support you.
Don’t be afraid to let other people read your work.  Having others read and comment on your work can really keep you motivated, and it makes it less frightening to submit your work to contests, writing conferences, agents, and publishers.  Good writing friends who can edit and critique your writing is better than gold.
Most importantly, don’t give up.  If you love writing and feel strongly about being a writer, never stop trying!

Thank you once again, Kay Lynn!

ALSO... a giveaway of The Secret Journal of Brett Colton will be posted this Thursday, September 6th. Hooray! So be sure to check back then and enter!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Summer Reads (Part Two)

Farewell summer (sigh). Actually, I'm stoked for crisp autumn air, sweaters and warm hot chocolate with a book in hand. That said, here are the last two book reviews from books I read this summer in addition to my previous Summer Reads post.

Prada and Prejudice
I loved the premise behind Prada and Prejudice, the fun twist on time-travel with Prada heels. The blurb was all I needed to read to be sucked in! Callie's travel through time was a fun and creative journey. The first half of the novel was a bit slow for me, though, with some repetitive monologue. I wasn't drawn to the main character like I'd hoped either. But, mmm, the first kiss? LOVED. And Alex was quite swoon worthy. I loved Callie's transformation in the end, the change that her experiences in a prior century brought out in her. Overall, a fun book with a satisfying ending!

When the Bough Breaks

My interest in When the Bough Breaks was piqued after discovering from the blurb that this story deals with a young girl after her father's death. Since my own YA romance has this in common, I bought the book, and I wasn't disappointed. 

When the Bough Breaks is a character-driven story that makes for a gripping read. I cried and laughed (maybe I shouldn't have found Ryan so funny, but the whole pancake syrup/Christmas music analogy? Hilarious!). Kay LynnMangum does an excellent job of weaving heartfelt feelings into the story that really come across on the page. Although I wish Rachel would have shown a little more gumption at times with her alcoholic brother, Ryan, I seriously loved each of the characters and empathized with them. Great snippets of dialogue, memorable characters, and a satisfying ending make this story of family, death and love a great read for fans of clean YA novels!

Just a heads up. I'm super excited for my post tomorrow morning: an interview with Kay Lynn Mangum! And, who knows, you might even get a chance to win this or another of her books in an upcoming giveaway. wink wink (Be sure to check back later this week!)

My September "to-read":