A Work In Progress Blog Tour

*NOTE: My apologies!  I was supposed to post this blog tour post for Brad Cotton’s novel A Work In Progress yesterday, but I’ve been having some serious internet issues lately, and it didn’t happen.  I was also hoping to have finished the novel to write my own review of it some time this weekend, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen either.  I WILL review it.  It’s just taking me longer than expected.

For the moment, please take the time to read about this novel and its author, and check out the links! Thanks!

— Amanda

A Unique Lit Fiction Novel with Moving Dialogue!

A Work in Progress is a new literary fiction novel by author Brad Cotton. The book has received great reviews and is on sale from July 23rd to August 3rd! Download your copy here.

In addition, Brad is doing a big giveaway, including a $100 gift certificate to Amazon and signed copies of his book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tweet, like, follow, share, blog and grab a copy of his book to enter.

Get your copy of A Work in Progress today! On sale on Amazon only.

About A Work in Progress

Writer Danny Bayle’s life is in shambles. His true love has left him and his grandfather — the last and most important influence in his life — has just passed away. Danny has spent the last few months languishing, unable to write a single word, but at the urging of a friend ventures out into the world in an attempt to jumpstart a new life, befriending in the process an interesting assortment of characters including an author, a musician, an artist, and an elderly retired nurse. Garnering the attention of more than one woman, Danny sees his new friends unwittingly begin to shape what could just be the story of his life. But will he ever let go of the girl that got away?

About the author


Born and raised in Toronto, Brad Cotton has been writing professionally for over a decade. An average guitarist, a subpar painter, and a horrible juggler of anything larger than a tangerine, he is currently married to a woman, but does not have a cat, a drum set or any children. A Work in Progress is his first novel.

Learn more about the author and his work at: http://www.bradcotton.com/

Blog Tour: Nuncio and the Gypsy Girl

Hello all, I have crawled out of the grave I buried myself in because I promised months ago to do a review of this graphic novel, Nuncio and the Gypsy Girl, for its blog tour.  I thought for sure I would have a lull in my schedule by now, but alas, that has not been the case.  So this is going to a guerilla-blog.  A blog-and-run.  A ninja-post-in-the-night-and-vanish.

You get the picture…

Anyway, on to the review.

Title: Nuncio and the Gypsy Girl

Author: Kristin Alexandre

Illustrator: Tim Loepp

Genre: Historical Fiction/Graphic Novel

Where I Got It: ARC in exchange for honest review

Score: 3 out of 5

Summary:

Intense, passionate, and thrilling Nuncio is a romantic thriller series for anyone wanting a good read (or even perhaps a good television series). Come on this journey filled with drama and mystery. Nuncio is a romantic thriller based on the intense and passionate relationship between Ezra, a composer and the insightful and lustful gypsy girl Neci. This graphic novel series is narrated by the magical African Grey Parrot, Nuncio and takes place at the turn of the Century.

Neci, the young and willful gypsy, is willing to risk everything to fulfill her need to be with Ezra, the object of her affection. She feels a calling to protect Ezra from his love, Marlene, a beautiful pianist. We hear her mental wanderings and feel her pain as she struggles to make a place for herself in his world. She feels no connection to girls her own age and Ezra struggles to resist her allure. This drama and romantic thriller is based on real people and real events that take place between 1912-1960. Ezra interacts with Orville Wright, Charles Kettering and Elbert Hubbard, celebrities from the day.

What I am reviewing is the first volume of the series, in which we are introduced to Neci, Ezra, the many animals, including a dog, a snake, and Nuncio the parrot.  Neci is a gypsy girl with a group outside Dayton, Ohio, who has befriended the composer Ezra.  They’re friendship is sweet, and Ezra feels great affection for Neci, but Neci wants more and Ezra is afraid she is too young.  Instead, he ends his visit with the gypsies to return to Dayton, entertaining the great inventors of the day and also meeting Marlene, a quick-moving, manipulative, and Neci’s rival.  I won’t say anything more about the plot, except to say that the volume ends on the Lusitania.  Yeah, that Lusitania.

What I Liked:

I enjoyed the historical aspects of the story.  Using people like Orville Wright and Charles Kettering as characters was interesting and fun.  I also like the illustration for the most part.  They take some getting used to: they are very sketchy, almost unfinished-looking, and it’s difficult in the beginning to keep track of the characters because the faces start to look alike.  But the understated nature of the illustrations is often attractive as well, and by the end of the volume, I was really started to enjoy the art.

I also liked the idea of Neci, the gypsy girl.  She has a passionate, in-touch-with-the-earth kind of outlook on life that I appreciate and I love that she has a snake for a pet.  But she is underdeveloped – it’s not really clear why exactly she is in love with Ezra, and she has very few other personality traits other than the fact that she is desperately in love with him and painfully jealous of Marlene.  Which leads me to…

What I Didn’t Like:

First of all, all the characters were a little underdeveloped.  Obviously, this is the first volume, so there is still room for plenty of development.  But you have to be very careful with these kinds of things to get the reader hooked on the first volume, get them to care about the characters quickly, or you run the risk of the reader deciding not to buy anymore.  After all, a graphic novel series is a big investment in both time and money, and readers want to know the investment is going to worth right from the get-go.  But, back to the characters, both Neci and Ezra had some interest, but definitely could have been stronger faster.  Though, actually, Ezra has a little more personality than even Neci does, if you ask me.  Where Neci seems to be defined only be her love for Ezra, Ezra has several things going for him: he is affectionate with Neci, but also seems to be in love with Marlene, he’s passionate about his music, loves animals, and is inspired by all the inventors he associated with.

As for Marlene: she was a cypher for me.  She is introduced, and its obvious that she’s Neci’s rival and that she moves quickly in her relationship with Ezra.  But when Neci learns about Marlene, Neci freaks out and rants about how Ezra can’t see how horrible Marlene is, etc etc etc.  Now, jealousy is one thing, but there seemed no reason to me to assume that Marlene was some kind of evil conniving bitch – she just happened to catch Ezra’s interest.  Yet both Neci, and the narrative, seemed to want me to think Marlene was up to no good.  And when Marlene finally does do something that is “up to no good,” I think the narrative wants me to see it coming – but honestly, I didn’t think anything in her character before that really foreshadowing anything half so horrible.

Lastly, I had a problem with the dialogue.  It was often very stilted and awkward.  There was a lot of unnatural info-dump with characters saying things to each other that they obviously should and do know, and which is being said merely for the reader’s sake.  Things like: “I love that fox TwoBucks. What a devoted creature, and who would have guessed that he would play so well with Theda, my Dog,” when it’s obvious that all the characters know who “TwoBucks” and “Theda” are.  This is a problem not only at the very beginning of the story, when readers understandably need some intro.  The dialogue is awkward throughout.

As you can see, the things I didn’t like slightly outweigh the things I did like.  However, the first volume ended on a cliffhanger, and I do see some potential, so I will probably give the second volume a try.  I’m hoping some improvements will be made, and I’m curious enough to see what happens next, so we’ll see how it goes.

In other words, it’s not high on my list of recommendations, but it might be worth a shot if you like historical fiction and graphic novels, and are willing to overlook some problems in order to give a new writer and new story a fair chance.

For those who are interested, you can also check out this book trailer for Nuncio and the Gypsy Girl.

Also, the book is only being released today (April 16th) and I will provide links for purchasing as they are released.

Emily Casey’s The Fairy Tale Trap Blog Tour

Emily Casey’s The Fairy Tale Trap Blog Tour!

Hello, folks, Emily Casey invited me to be one of the hosts for her blog tour, promoting her YA fantasy novel The Fairy Tale Trap, and I agreed to do a review for the occasion.  So, without further ado:

Title: The Fairy Tale Trap (Ivy Thorn #1)

Author: Emily Casey

Release Date: December 2011

Genre: YA Fantasy

Where I Got It: received ebook copy from author in exchange for honest review

Score: 4 out 5

(also, don’t you just LOVE the cover?)

I’ve said this before (and I’ve even mentioned it on my page about my book reviews), but I’ll say it again: I LOVE stories that re-imagine fairy tales.  I loved it when Robin McKinley did it in Beauty, Rose Daughter, and Deerskin.  I loved it when Anne Sexton did it in her poetry collection Transformations.  I love it in the tv show Once Upon a  Time.  I loved it in Kait Nolan’s YA fantasy novel, Red.  So when Emily Casey approached me with a synopsis of her book, asking for hosts for her blog tour and for reviews, I jumped on the chance.

The Fairy Tale Trap, book 1 in the Ivy Thorn series, introduces us to the main character, Ivy, a “military brat” who has just moved again with her mother, while waiting for her father to return from overseas.  Ivy has a strange phobia: she is scared of mirrors, she has even been taken to doctors because she believes she sees things moving in the mirror sometimes.  “It’s just stress,” her doctors tell her.  Then, while unpacking, Ivy happens to look into a mirror, and someone else smiles back at her.

Suddenly, she is pulled through the movie and into a forest, into a world of magic and fairy tales.  Pushed along by an obnoxious pixie who seems to know a lot more than he’s letting on, and trapped in a forest spelled to keep people inside, Ivy finds herself stuck right in the middle of the story of Beauty and the Beast.  The Beast, strangely kind at first, turns deadly due to a mistake on Ivy’s part.  Beauty, as beautiful as can be, seems a little to vapid to help herself.  And somehow, Ivy has to figure out how to fix the mess she’s made, and find her way home.

What I Liked:

So, like I said, I love stories that re-imagine fairy tales.  And this story is no exception.  I love the premise.  Emily Casey did her homework, researching many different variations on the Beauty and the Beast tale, drawing details from different versions to make the story and the world intricate and strange.  The amount of work she put into it is obvious and will be very appreciated by people like who me who are similarly obsessed with fairy tales and folklore.  I also loved the way the story is twisted because of Ivy’s involvement, as a plot that should be simple according to what we know about the tale becomes a bigger and bigger mess.

The main character, Ivy Thorn, is wonderful.  I really enjoyed this character.  She’s believable and easy to relate to.  I myself am a “military brat,” so I could appreciate that characterization.  I also liked the way Ivy’s love of running and track background contributed to her ability to survive in this fairy tale world without being eaten – literally.  And her intense fear of mirrors makes for a unique character trait that adds interest to an otherwise “normal” (though intelligent, and somewhat sarcastic), teenage girl.  The fact that we even get some explanation of WHY she’s afraid of mirrors makes it even better (but I won’t say anymore on that, you’ll just have to read and find out).

There are only a small handful of other characters: Beast, Beauty, the obnoxious pixie, and couple other very minor characters.  The pixie is a strange character with some very strange motives.  It was a smart choice on Casey’s part to reveal only little bits of his agenda, and I’ll definitely be reading the next book in the series, if only to better understand what the hell he’s up to and why.  The other characters, however, lead me into…

What I Didn’t Like:

I really wish the other characters, namely Beast and Beauty, had been developed a bit more.  Beauty got some development and characterization, essentially to save the character from becoming the flat cliché vapid princess type.  She does have a few chances to show some facets to her character, but I would have preferred more in-depth characterization.  The same definitely goes for the Beast.  We get a little characterization through a few journal entries that Ivy finds and reads, but these journal entries don’t really work well – the Beast character lacks a distinct voice, and the journal entries give us a little to go on about his personality except for self-pity.  I really wanted to feel something for that character, and I didn’t.

A lot of this, I think, comes down to the writing style.  It’s not bad.  It’s competent, let’s say.  But there is definitely room for development and maturity.  While there are some spots of wonderful description, and I enjoy the voice of the main character, the overall writing is perhaps overly-simplistic.  It doesn’t go deep enough – into the setting, into the characters, or into the complexities and implications of the situation.

Because Casey is so determined to stay truthful to the fairy tale, she misses the opportunity to go past the simplistic construction of the tale (because let’s face it, for all that we love them, most fairy tale plots are very simple), and delve deeper into how real people, with complex personalities, and real problems might respond in these situations.  For one example: in the fairy tale, we don’t really bother to question WHY Beauty would fall in love with the Beast, but in this novel, I would expect some kind of character development to explain the switch and attraction beyond the answer we get, which is: because that’s how the story goes.

This book was rather short, and could easily have been lengthened by at least another half, still keeping the plot and prose tight while also giving us more depth.

Over-all, I definitely enjoyed it.  It was a fun, light, quick read that I finished in only a three sittings, in between coursework and lesson plans.  I really like the premise and the main character, and I feel pretty confident that I will read the second book when it comes out.  So, if you’re looking for something fun and like fairy tales, I can definitely recommend The Fairy Tale Trap.

You can find it here, at Goodreads or on Amazon.

Please check out yesterday’s blog tour stop at Death By Chocolate.

Then check out Friday’s blog tour stop at E.J.’s Library.

And, for more information about the author and her books, go to Emily Casey’s blog.

After-Christmas Update

After-Christmas Update:

1)     A couple weeks ago, I wrote a review of Terri G. Long’s novel In Leah’s Wake as part of a blog tour run by Novel Publicity.  For that review, I won best blog entry, and received a $100 Amazon gift card as a prize!  It was very very cool, and I am very grateful to the folks at Novel Publicity for choosing me.

2)     This week I participated in another blog tour run by Novel Publicity, this time for Farsighted, a YA fantasy novel by Emlyn Chand (who also happens to be the very awesome president of Novel Publicity).  If you haven’t seen those posts yet, please check out this author interview from Monday, and my review of Farsighted from Wednesday.  On both posts you can find information about entering to win prizes.  Today (Friday) is the last day to participate, so don’t wait!

3)     I had a wonderful Christmas.  Christmas Eve at one aunt and uncle’s house.  Christmas at my house with my mother and brother (I made Coq Au Vin for Christmas dinner, and it turned out pretty damn good, if I do say so myself.  And we went to the movies to see Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows).  And Boxing Day (the day after Christmas), also at my house, with my grandmother and another aunt and uncle, for which my mother and I made ham with all the usual side dishes.

4)     I received a $250 Amazon gift card from my father and stepmother for Christmas, and I am going to have a BLAST spending it all (especially in conjunction with the $100 I already received from the blog tour prize). ^__^

5)     I also received a record player, which I’d been begging my mother for.  I’ve been playing the records I already have almost to death, and it’s definitely time to add to my little collection.  Thankfully, I just learned of a decent-sized records store not too far from where I live, so my brother and I are planning a trip to spend more money. ^__^

6)     For next week, I should be back to my usual blogging schedule: Science/Fantasy Monday, Bookworm Wednesday, and Free-For-All Friday.  I’ll have another book review for you on Wednesday, as I have just finished reading Beka Cooper: Mastiff by Tamora Pierce.  I was thinking about doing a review of the new Sherlock Holmes movie too, but I’m not sure how many people care.  I guess we’ll see…

7)     I should be making more minor (and possibly not-so-minor, depending on how things go) changes around the blog in the next couple weeks.

Okay, that’s all from me for now.  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and/or Holiday of your choice (^_^), and I wish you all a Happy New Year!  I’ll see you all in 2012!

And You Thought Your High School Years Sucked: A Review of Farsighted by Emlyn Chand

First off, my apologies for the lateness of this post — I’ve been sick the last couple days and I’ve been rushing to both write and post my review.

Second, if you missed the beginning of the Farsighted blog tour, please check out Monday’s post for an interview with author Emlyn Chand (who is also the president of PR firm Novel Publicity), and also check out all the information about the various events and prizes for this week’s blog tour.

And now, here’s my review of Farsighted:

Title: Farsighted

Author: Emlyn Chand

Genre: YA Fantasy

Where I Got It: A free ebook copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

Score: 5 out of 5

In Farsighted, the first of a series about main character Alex Kosmitoras, Alex’s sophomore year of high school might just kill him.  His parents are scraping to make ends meet.  His hard-working mother is loving but very overprotective, his unemployed father is distant and acting strange.  The high school bully is hell-bent on making Alex’s life miserable.  And to top it all off, Alex is blind. But that’s all par for the course, and his life is about to get a whole hell of a lot more complicated.

Just as Alex is making friends with the two new girls: Simmi, who is kind and smells like an Almond Joy bar, and Shapri, who is smart, blunt, and no-nonsense, he begins to “see” things — or rather, hear, feel, and smell things.  Things that seem to happen, and then happen again.  Things he can’t distinguish from reality.  Things, he soon learns, that mean he has developed the ability to “see” the future.  Stumbling through the school year, shouting at people who aren’t really there, and generally making a fool of himself, he attempts to ignore his new gifts.  Until he discovers that his new friend Simmi may be in danger, and only his powers can save her.  Now, with help from the psychic who just moved in next door to his mother’s shop, and his new friends who may have special gifts of their own, Alex must work hard to change Simmi’s future, and his own.

Yeah, and you thought YOUR high school years were difficult.

What I Liked:

Let’s start with the characters.

Alex is a well-written, believable blind teenage boy written by a not-blind married woman — not an easy thing to pull off.  Alex is a very typical teenage boy, in fact.  Alex loves his mother but is constantly embarrassed by her over-the-top affection and little-boy nicknames.  He desperately wants his father to love him, and fears that he will never be enough for his father.  His crush on Simmi leads him to do some cute and some stupid things in a very believable fashion, so that all we can do as readers is nod in understanding and say: “ah, hormones…”  And even when he does something REALLY stupid, it is still in character, understandable as something a teenage boy might do when he doesn’t quite understand how stupid his conclusions are — of course, when he does this stupid thing (I won’t spoil it for you), I just wanted to smack him in the back of the head and tell him to stop being an idiot.   Through all of this however, Alex remains smart and resourceful, doing the best he can to salvage a difficult situation in admirable fashion.  He is relatable, sympathetic, and likable.

The other characters are well-written as well.  Simmi and Shapri are both kind, smart teenager girls, but they are very much their own characters, with distinct and interesting character traits.  While Simmi is sweet and more on the quiet side, Shapri is out-spoken and blunt.  Admittedly, I sometimes thought Simmi was a little too good to be true, but sometimes you really do find that special girl is just so sweet and so patient, that you almost can’t believe it.  Of the two girls, I definitely prefer Shapri though.  You’ve probably noticed by now I have a thing for female characters who are strong and out-spoken (probably because I’m not particularly out-spoken myself).  It is amusing to watch how both girls turn Alex’s world upside down, and keep him in his toes.  That’s what teenage girls are for, isn’t it?

Of the parents, we don’t get as good a feel for the mother as we do for the father.  The mother is given some well-rounded characterization — she is strong and loving and patient, but prone on a few occasions to give in to depression and despair.  But she is not as dynamic a character as the father, who plays an important role in Alex’s life by virtue of Alex’s perception that he is distant from Alex’s life (does that make sense?).  And with the father acting strange throughout the novel, I had a lot of fun trying to guess what he was really up to.  I won’t spoil that for you either, but I will announce triumphantly that I guessed right.

As for the plot itself: it works much like a mystery (though it is also, obviously, a fantasy).  We the readers, like the characters, are fed bits and pieces, clues that we are trying to fit together just as Alex is trying to fit them together to understand how and why Simmi is in danger.  There is a shadowy bad guy and a wide variety of scenarios involved in Alex’s visions, but it remains unclear throughout the novel what is really going to happen, and why.  Now, I love mysteries.  And I love trying to figure out what the ending is going to be.  So I loved this method of feeding us little bits of information a little at a time.  I had a few guesses going into the final chapters.  And I’ll tell you what: I never saw the ending coming.  Part of me is annoyed with myself for missing the clues.  But the larger part of me is just impressed that the author managed to surprise me.  In all modesty, it doesn’t happen that often anymore.

What I Didn’t Like:

What didn’t I like?  Actually… honestly, I can’t think of anything.  Except maybe that I have to wait for the next installment.  There are some series that I prefer to wait to read until all the books (or at least several of them) have already been released.  I HATE to wait.  And I’m definitely not looking forward to this wait.

Other than that… um… Nope, can’t think of anything.  This book was just plain FUN.  The characters are relatable, resourceful, dynamic, and likable. The plot keeps you on your toes to the end.  The clues keep you actively involved.  And the ending, while decently satisfying, definitely leaves you wanting more.  What more can you ask for, really?

In other words: go read Farsighted.  NOW.

Remember, you can get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  And right now it’s only 99cents.

You can also currently vote for Farsighted in the Alternative Read Best Book Cover of the Year award: just click here.

Also:

To Win the Prizes

  1. Purchase your copy of Farsighted for just 99 cents on Amazon or Barnes & Noble
  2. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes
  3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!
  4. BONUS: If you leave a comment on this blog post, you have another chance at $100!
  5. DOUBLE BONUS: If I receive more comments than any other blogger, *I* win $100.

…And I can win too!

Over 100 bloggers are participating in this gigantic event, and there are plenty of prizes for us too. The blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card as well. So when you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to say that I referred you, so I can get a point in the poll.

The Farsighted Social Media Whirlwind Tour

Good morning, everyone! For those of you who celebrate, I hope you had an absolutely wonderful Christmas.  For those who don’t, I hope you had an absolutely wonderful weekend! ^_^  As some of you may remember (once the Christmas dinner coma wears off…), I have spent the last two weeks participating in blog tours for Novel Publicity.  First for In Leah’s Wake by Terri Giuliano Long, and second for Scorpio Rising by Monique Domovitch.  Now it is time for the last Novel Publicity run blog tour.  This is one is extra-special because the book, Farsighted, happens to be written by the president of Novel Publicity herself, the impressive Emlyn Chand.

For today, we have an interview with Emlyn Chand herself.  On Wednesday, check back in my for review of Farsighted (which was fantastic, just to give you a small preview).  And now, without further ado:

Announcing the Farsighted Social Media Whirlwind Tour!

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Farsighted eBook edition is just 99 cents this week.

What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including lots of Amazon gift cards (up to $100 in amount) and 5 autographed copies of the book. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 30th, so you don’t miss out.

To Win the Prizes

  1. Purchase your copy of Farsighted for just 99 cents on Amazon or Barnes & Noble
  2. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes
  3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!
  4. BONUS: If you leave a comment on this blog post, you have another chance at $100!
  5. DOUBLE BONUS: If I receive more comments than any other blogger, *I* win $100.

…And I can win too!

Over 100 bloggers are participating in this gigantic event, and there are plenty of prizes for us too. The blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card as well. So when you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to say that I referred you, so I can get a point in the poll.

The Featured Events include:

Monday, a guest blog on Novel Publicity! Emlyn kicks off the tour on the Novel Publicity Free Advice blog by discussing her brightly burning passion for books in a guest post entitled “My journey through the pages and toward a life-long love of reading.” One commenter will win an autographed copy of Farsighted. Don’t forget to enter for the other contest prizes while you’re over there!

Tuesday, Twitter sharing contest! A tweet is tiny, only 140 characters. But on Tuesday, it could win you $50. Send the following tweet across the twittersphere, and you just may win a $50 Amazon gift card. An autographed copy of Farsighted is also up for grabs. The winners will be announced Wednesday morning. Here’s the tweet: Looking for a fun read to round out your holiday break? The paranormal YA hit Farsighted is just 99 cents! http://ow.ly/81Dt1 #whirlwind

Wednesday, Google+ sharing contest! Yup, there’s yet another awesome opportunity to win a $50 Amazon gift card, and this time it just takes a single click! Visit Google+ and share Emlyn Chand’s most recent post (you’ll see the Stay Farsighted book cover included with it). On Thursday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. An autographed copy of Farsighted is also up for grabs. Two chances to win with just one click! How about that?

Thursday, Facebook sharing contest! Stop by Novel Publicity’s Facebook page and share their latest post (you’ll see the Farsighted book cover included with it). It’s ridiculously easy to win! On Friday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. An autographed copy of Farsighted is also up for grabs.

Friday, special contest on the author’s site! Are you ready for some more fun? Take a picture of yourself with your copy of Farsighted either in paperback or on an eReading device, then post it to Emlyn Chand’s Facebook page or email a copy to author@emlynchand.com. You just way win one of three Amazon gift cards! A $100 prize will go to the photo with the most interesting setting (so put your holiday travel time to work for you). Another $50 will go the funniest photo, and one more prize of $50 will go the scariest photo—this is a paranormal YA book after all. An autographed copy of Farsighted will go to one randomly selected entrant. For more details about this contest, please visit www.emlynchand.com.

Remember, it’s all about the books!

About Farsighted: Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t. When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider. Farsighted is the winner of the 2011 Dragonfly eBook Awards. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the Author: Emlyn Chand has always loved to hear and tell stories, having emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). When she’s not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm, Novel Publicity. Emlyn loves to connect with readers and is available throughout the social media interweb. Visit her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Let’s get to know the author a little better through this rousing Q&A…

Q: What was it like writing from the viewpoint of a blind, teenage boy? Were there any parts of Alex’s personality/life you found hard to come up with?

A: You know, it wasn’t as hard to write blind as I initially thought it would be. It didn’t take long to begin “seeing” Alex’s world the way he does. I wrote the entire story without knowing what anyone or anything looked like (except for Alex himself). When it came time to shoot the book trailer, the directors were asking me questions about the scenes and which props they should bring, and I really, really didn’t know what to tell them!

As I got to know Alex better and better, it became easier to tune into his way of seeing things. I read books about coping with blindness in a school setting and spent a great deal of time pondering how I might behave if I couldn’t see. In the story, Alex has always been blind; he’s always known the world to be a certain way. Not everyone understands that, and they have trouble talking about it with him. I gave Alex a tendency to overcompensate. He knows who he is and what he’s capable of, and he wants the world to know it too, so sometimes he overdoes things a bit.

Q: Your cast of characters has international flavor? What’s behind that choice?

A: I don’t see why my characters all need to belong to the same culture or ethnicity. What fun is that? Culture shapes our characters in a big way, so by diversifying my cast, I was able to hit on more types of personalities and situations. Grandon is based on my hometown; it’s small and kind of boring. I couldn’t wait to escape and move on to bigger and better things. My home town was mostly Caucasian, but somehow I ended up with a very diverse set of friends even though they made up less than 1% of the student body. Fast forward a few years, and I end up marrying a man from India. He’s from New Delhi, like Simmi. I’ve always been fascinated by other cultures; I even decided to pursue my Master’s in Sociology for this very reason. I credit two early life influences for this attraction: 1) My adoration of A.C. Slater in Saved by the Bell, 2) Disney’s Aladdin being the best movie ever.

Q: What was the inspiration for Farsighted?

A: Everything started with a single image—my face in these tacky oversized sunglasses reflecting out at me from the car’s side mirror. I was daydreaming while my husband drove us across Michigan for my sister’s wedding. Something about my image really struck me in an almost horrific way. I felt the glasses made me look blind but found it so weird that there was still a clear image within them; it seemed so contradictory. At the time, my book club was reading The Odyssey, which features the blind Theban prophet, Tieresias. I started thinking about what it would be like to have non-visual visions of the future and began forming a modern Tieresias in my mind. Lo and behold, Alex Kosmitoras was born. I didn’t want him to be alone in his psychic subculture, so I found other characters with other powers to keep him company. Thank God for my poor fashion sense. 🙂

Q: What would you like readers to take away from Farsighted? Is there a different message for adults than for teens?

A: First and foremost, I hope that readers will enjoy themselves. My primary goal is to tell an interesting story that people will find entertaining and be glad they read. Secondly, I’d like to infuse contemporary Young Adult fiction with a bit more diversity and teach readers about the beauty of other cultures and other ways of life. I also hope that Farsighted is a book that leads to introspection—what would I do if put in Alex’s place? Did Alex ever have a choice or was this path his destiny? What would it be like to see the world the way he sees the world?

I like to think of anything I write as being kind of like a Disney movie, in that the primary audience will be children, but there are extra tidbits for the adults too. Farsighted has been infused with a great deal of research about runes, classic mythology, and Eastern spirituality, but you don’t need to understand any of that to be entertained by the story.

Q. There have been articles written this year about YA being too dark for teens. What are your thoughts on this?

A: I definitely agree. I want to get back to the core of the YA genre, and I attempted to do that with Farsighted. I also think that paranormal has gotten a bit too out there. One thing I hear from readers quite a bit is that the paranormal seems normal in Farsighted. They don’t question the existence of the powers, and it doesn’t seem out there like some other books of the genre do. That was important to me. I wanted my story to be run by the characters, not the fantastic elements. This is a story about Alex, not about a blind psychic.

Q: What motivated you to structure the book around the runes?

A: Remember how I said my Master’s degree is in Sociology? It’s actually Quantitative Sociology. I’m a numbers person as well as a word person. I love things to be organized just so. If you set a stack of papers in front of me; I’m going to fuss with them until they are lined up in a perfect stack. It’s just the way I am. Shaping each chapter around a rune gave the story order, which made me feel happy and comfortable. Whenever I got stuck and didn’t know what should happen next, I was able to learn more about that chapter’s rune and get the inspiration I needed to continue. The runes themselves tell a story, one that is successfully completed. I felt that boded well for Farsighted.

Q: What is your writing process like?

A: I begin with a seed of an idea and work out from there. With Farsighted, I started with Alex and created the rest of the story and characters to fit around him. Using the runes as a structural framework for this novel created an outline for me too. I’m a numbers person as well as a word person. I love things to be organized just so. If you set a stack of papers in front of me; I’m going to fuss with them until they are lined up in a perfect stack. It’s just the way I am. Shaping each chapter around a rune gave the story order, which made me feel happy and comfortable. Whenever I got stuck and didn’t know what should happen next, I was able to learn more about that chapter’s rune and get the inspiration I needed to continue. The runes themselves tell a story, one that is successfully completed. I felt that boded well for Farsighted.

Q: What do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?

A: I LOVE YA—I read it, write it, love it! My favorite author is JK Rowling. The more I read, the more I realize how brilliant she is as an author. If you remove the dialogue tags from Harry Potter, you still know which character is speaking, and Rowling managed to create an intricate beautiful world without allowing her character development to suffer, which is tremendously rare. I consider her literary God. Suzanne Collins, and JD Salinger are classic faves.

My all-time favorite book is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, definitely. The novel has so many layers and entertains on so many levels. Also the characters in that novel seem more real than those from any other I’ve ever read. It’s just beautiful—that’s the only word for it.

Q: If you had to be stuck on an island for a year with three literary characters, who would they be?

A: First up, we’d obviously take Robinson Crusoe. He knows what he’s doing, and he can be the provider. I’ll also take Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games—if we get in any kind of danger, she’d be a great protector. Lastly, I’d take Ron Weasley. Ron and I can live the good life, while the other two make sure we all stay safe and well-fed. I know I would never get bored with Ron around—he’s just 24/7 entertainment.

Q: You’ve taken a risk by going with an unconventional ending. Without spoiling the story for your readers, can you tell us why you made this choice? Are you glad you did this? Do you feel it’s been successful? Why or why not?

A: Yeah, I ended with a cliffhanger, which goes against traditional publishing wisdom. But you know what? I. AM. INDIE! Being indie means taking risks and breaking the mold and, boy, am I excited to do it. The ending is kind of polarizing, people either love it or wish there was more there. The joining thread is almost everyone mentions looking forward to the next book in the series. Farsighted demands a companion, and people see that. I think it was a good decision since this is the first in the series and since I enjoy toeing the line of convention. It’s fun to shake things up.

“A Natural Extension of Falling Love”: Guest Post with Monique Domovitch

Ladies and Gentlemen, as promised, please enjoy this guest post from Monique Domovitch, author of Scorpio Rising.

About the Author: Monique Domovitch began writing at the age of fifty-five. Two years later, she has two self-published novels—her Scorpio Series—and a three-book deal with Penguin, for books she has written under the name of Carol Ann Martin. Never seen without her laptop, Monique and her husband travel the world and divide the rest of their time between their homes in British Columbia and California. Monique loves to hear from readers! Visit her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Please enjoy this guest post from the author

Deciding to become a writer was a natural extension of falling in love

People often ask me what attracted me to the life of a writer, and I have to say it was a natural extension of falling in love…with books, which I have been for as long as I can remember.

I remember my mother taking me to the public library when I was as young as four years old. That was when she introduced me to Madeline, the little schoolgirl. As teenager, I discovered Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames, and then Harlequin books. And then I really fell in love for the first time. I was in England where my friends introduced me to a book by Wilbur Smith.
I think I hadn’t read ten pages of his book–can’t remember the title anymore–when I knew this was it. I could spend the rest of my life in bed with this writer’s books.

Over the next few years, Wilbur Smith’s books made me discover Africa, where I met animals I’d never heard of, and villains the likes of which I hope to never meet. I was swept into his stories of love and passion and greed; stories from which I never wanted to walk away. I devoured book after book of his, until, of course, the inevitable happened. I caught up with every last one of his books and was facing a long void until his next book hit the stands. And I, fickle reader that I am, had an affair with a few other authors, and then it happened again. I read Dominic Dunne. And wham. I was in love again.

With Dominic Dunne’s books, I spent time with the truly rich and the truly manipulative. How can anyone forget books like The Two Mrs. Grenvilles, or An Inconvenient Woman, or A Season in Purgatory? Once I discovered them, I was hooked. Forgive me Dominic, for I betrayed you too when I discovered my next big love, Nelson De Mille.

De Mille is a master of sharp, snappy talk, and he makes all those words come out of the mouth of a sexy good cop with a bad attitude–John Corey. Now here’s the funny part. I don’t really know what John Corey looks like, except that he has scars on his chest from some bullet wounds. I also know that John Corey is almost as fickle when it comes to love as I am when it comes to favorite authors. He seems to fall in love with a different woman in almost every one of his adventures. That is, until he met and married Kate. But who knows, so far she’s only been around for a couple of novels. For all I know she’ll be dropped off, maybe even killed in the next book, and then sexy John will be available again and I can go on dreaming.

Now here’s something you might not know about me. I’m married, and—get this—my husband doesn’t mind my little dalliances with all these authors…as long as I don’t meet them in person that is.

And why am I blabbing about all these loves of mine? Because, every time I start a new project, I hope with all my heart, that I infuse my novel with enough passion and ambition and greed that when you,

dear reader, read my work, you will fall—perhaps just a little bit—in love with my characters. And I promise to love you right back, even knowing that I will never be able to write fast enough to keep your from someday leaving me for some other writer.

C’est la vie!

Monique

Remember:

By purchasing Scorpio Rising at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including 2 Kindle Fires, Amazon gift cards up to $100 in amount, 5 autographed copies of the book, and 5 autographed copies of its recently released sequel, The Sting of The Scorpio. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 23rd, so you don’t miss out.

To Win the Prizes:

  1. Purchase your copy of Scorpio Rising for just 99 cents on Amazon or Barnes & Noble
  2. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes
  3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!
  4. BONUS: If you leave a comment on this blog post, you have another chance at $100!

…And I can win too!

Over 100 bloggers are participating in this gigantic event, and there are plenty of prizes for us too. The blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card as well. So when you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to say that I referred you, so I can get a point in the poll.

The Featured Events include:

Wednesday, Google+ sharing contest! Yup, there’s yet another awesome opportunity to win a $50 Amazon gift card, and this time it just takes a single click! Visit Google+ and share Emlyn Chand’s most recent post (you’ll see the Scorpio Rising book cover included with it). On Thursday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. Autographed copies of Scorpio Rising and its sequel, The Sting of The Scorpio, are also up for grabs. Three chances to win! How about that?

Thursday, Facebook sharing contest! Stop by Novel Publicity’s Facebook page and share their latest post (you’ll see the Scorpio Rising book cover included with it). It’s ridiculously easy to win! On Friday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. Autographed copies of Scorpio Rising and its sequel, The Sting of The Scorpio, are also up for grabs.

Friday, special contest on the author’s site! Win a Kindle Fire! Two are up for grabs! Visit Monique’s website to leave a comment on any of her posts and sign-up for her author newsletter. One person will win for each method, so be sure to do both.

Remember, it’s all about the books!

About Scorpio Rising: Set in New York and Paris amid the glamorous and competitive worlds of art and real estate, Scorpio Rising takes the reader from the late 1940s to the 1960s through the tumultuous lives of its heroes. Alex Ivanov is the son of a Russian immigrant and part-time prostitute. He yearns to escape his sordid life and achieve fame and fortune. His dreams of becoming a world-class builder are met with countless obstacles, yet he perseveres in the hope of someday receiving the recognition he craves. Half a world away, Brigitte Dartois is an abused teenager who runs into the arms of a benefactor with an agenda all his own. When she finds out that her boss has an ulterior motive, she flees again, determined to earn her living through her art. This career brings her fame, but also the unwanted attention of her early abuser. Monique Domovitch’s debut novel, Scorpio Rising, is a compelling tale filled with finely etched characters and a superb understanding of the power of ambition. Scorpio Rising promises to resonate with all who once had a dream. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About The Sting of The Scorpio: In Scorpio Rising, Monique Domovitch presented a compelling tale filled with colorful characters and the manipulation of power, ambition, and greed. Now she gives us its spellbinding sequel, The Sting of the Scorpio, where Alexander Ivanov returns to New York with his new bride, Brigitte. The real estate industry is ripe with opportunity. Blessed with irresistible charm, ambition, and the single-minded obsession to succeed, Alex plots and manipulates his way to almost mystical success. Everything he touches turns to gold, but it’s never enough. When a hostile takeover bid leaves him struggling to save his beloved company, he suspects those closest to him of plotting his downfall. Brigitte, the beautiful redhead who abandoned her country and her career to become his wife, feels alone. In return, Alex has betrayed her time and again, each indiscretion cutting deeper into her soul. Brigitte’s son, David yearns to be an artist, but Alex’s plans leave no room for such frivolous goals. He grooms a reluctant David to become the heir apparent until a devastating tragedy attracts the attention of another young man. The Sting of the Scorpio is a rich tale of a man at the mercy of his own greed and a woman bound by her need for love. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.