Psyched for Romance

Sports Romance & Romantic Suspense With a Psychological Twist

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Best of 2012 Giveaway

Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer blog is at it again hosting another awesome giveaway...

The Best of 2012 Giveaway, featuring our favorite reads of 2012.


Because I write both YA and adult books, I've chosen my favorite from each genre.

Favorite YA Book: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry


Any book that makes me cry is A-OK with me, and this book elicited so many tears!

Here's my REVIEW of Pushing the Limits.


Favorite Adult Book: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn


The twists in this thriller are jaw-dropping. I love how Gillian Flynn manipulates the reader.

Here's my REVIEW of Gone Girl.


To enter, simply complete the Rafflecopter form. Hop over to all participating blogs!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Giveaways are Best!

A little bit of this and a little bit of that in this post.

First of all, would you like to win a Kindle loaded with Omnific Publishing romance novels? Then enter my publisher's awesome giveaway!

Secondly, I'm giving away a signed copy of my YA swimming romance Streamline at Ensconced in YA. Christina interviews me and links to her 4 star review of Streamline.

Part One of my interview is HERE.
Part Two of my interview is HERE

Finally, it's time to finish the meme The Next Best Thing where I answer questions about my current work-in-progress: On Best Behavior.

I'd hoped to finish by now, but you know how that goes. I guess I haven't been on my best behavior when it comes to conquering writing distractions. ;-) I am pleased to have written 93K words though, and I'm still hoping to finish in 2012.

Here are the last two questions for The Next Best Thing:

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

That's easy. My muse is actor Wentworth Miller, who I envision as the series' hero Grant Madsen.


*swoons* Grant Madsen has a sexy singing voice, is kind-hearted, and is tall and lean like Wentworth.

I even have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to his beauty HERE

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Hmm, how can I entice new readers to the series? Did I mention that handcuffs make a reappearance? Hee hee. This time Grant battles the Russian mafia and Sophie fights to make a psychology career for herself post-prison. On Best Behavior features psychotherapy with Grant's teenage nephew Ben.

I love to torture my characters but I also believe in happy endings!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cover Reveal: Free Souls by Susan Kaye Quinn!

Free Souls by Susan Kaye Quinn
(Book Three of the Mindjack Trilogy) Now Available!
When your mind is a weapon, freedom comes at a price.
Four months have passed since Kira left home to join Julian’s Jacker Freedom Alliance, but the hole in her heart still whistles empty where her boyfriend Raf used to be. She fills it with weapons training, JFA patrols, and an obsessive hunt for FBI agent Kestrel, ignoring Julian’s worries about her safety and repeated attempts to recruit her for his revolutionary chat-casts. When anti-jacker politician Vellus surrounds Jackertown with the National Guard, Kira discovers there’s more to Julian’s concerns than she knew, but she’s forced to take on a mission that neither want and that might be her last: assassinating Senator Vellus before he can snuff out Julian’s revolution and the jackers she’s come to love.
All Mindjack stories available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and iTunes (Note Free Souls is not yet available on iTunes)
Early Praise for Free Souls
“Quinn paints a picture of a not-too-distant America where politicians inflame the hatred of one section of the populace for another—all for their own gain—and you worry that her world is not so far off from our own.”
Dianne Salerni, author of We Hear the Dead, The Caged Graves, and the forthcoming The Eighth Day
"Free Souls starts with a bang and doesn't let up. Like a mash-up of all your favorite science-fiction adventures from Star Wars to The Legend of Korra, it blends nonstop action, nail-biting escapes, and great romance. I absolutely loved it! A great series conclusion—a must-read."
Leigh Talbert Moore, author of Rouge and The Truth About Faking
“Susan did it again. Free Souls was WOW! I expected Kira to step up to her role as heroine but not like this. Surprises kept coming until the very end which tied up more loose ends than I knew existed. Warning: Don't start reading until you have time to finish. I didn't want to put Free Souls down for a second. It's that kind of book.”
Sher A. Hart, Goodreads Review
Interview Susan's over at Amy Saunder's blog today (12.14.12), answering questions about how she came up with the mages' abilities, what kind of mage she would be, and all about her future works. Digital Box Set Since Free Souls is out, there is now a Digital Box Set of the Mindjack Trilogy for those of you who want the whole series!
Available on AmazonBarnes&Noble
Mindjack Origins Collection Want more Julian? Wondering how Sasha's ability really works? Looking for EXCLUSIVE DELETED SCENES from Free Souls? This collection of novellas, scenes, and other goodies is for those craving a bit more of the characters and drama of the Mindjack series.
Includes: Mindjack Novellas Mind Games (Raf's story) The Handler (Julian's story) The Scribe (Sasha's story) TWO EXCLUSIVE DELETED SCENES from Free Souls (published nowhere else!) PLUS Mindjack flash fiction, an (imaginary) conversation between Raf and Julian, and other goodies for readers who want just a little bit more of Kira, Julian, Raf, and the Mindjack crew.
Available on AmazonBarnes&Noble
ENTER TO WIN one of FIVE ecopies of the Mindjack Origins Collection
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Political Suicide: Review and Giveaway

Political Suicide is a medical/political thriller by Michael Palmer that launches Tuesday 12-11-12. I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy, and it looks like I have more Michael Palmer novels to catch up on!

As a psychologist, I have treated physicians and other professionals who are recovering from addictions, so I found this novel intriguing from the start.


Political SuicidePolitical Suicide by Michael Palmer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wonderful Suspense!

What would you do if a friend gets accused of murder, but you don't think he did it?

When the hero of the military/political thriller Political Suicide faces that exact dilemma, he proves that he is not one to back down from a challenge. Dr. Lou Welcome has battled through many challenges in his life -- the biggest being the daily struggle to stay clean and sober. He helps other physicians through drug rehab and re-entry into medical practice.

Gary McHugh is one such physician who calls Lou after falling off the wagon. Unfortunately, Gary's alcohol blackout may or may not have included killing a U.S. senator.

When Lou seeks justice for his friend, it's tough to see clearly through the miasma covering an elite Special Forces unit called Mantis Company. There just might be a deadly conspiracy with this military unit, waiting to be uncovered. And when Lou tries to find the truth, he becomes the target.

The suspense in this novel is top-notch. One scene involving a frothing-at-the-mouth guard dog had me quite on edge, nervous for Lou. I like the realism of Lou's character. He's tough, caring, and clever, yet he's definitely not perfect. Lou makes a major mistake at one point, enraging Gary's attorney Sarah. Will he redeem himself?

There's also a cast of well-drawn supporting characters, including Lou's daughter Emily, his AA sponsor and trainer Cap, and his cat Diversity. Lou and attorney Sarah team up and track down Edith, who's already suffered the consequences of the deadly conspiracy. Edith is feisty and competent.

Unfortunately I didn't feel very emotionally connected to Lou. He's a good guy, but there just seemed to be something missing. The romance that sparks up between Lou and Sarah didn't feel compelling to me, but this is more of a thriller than a romance (and I typically read romance novels).

I enjoyed the twist at the end that I didn't see coming.

St. Martin's Press provided an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews


***St. Martin's Press is GIVING AWAY a signed print copy of Political Suicide to a lucky winner!

To enter, simply leave a comment with your email address. If you like, you can answer this question:

Do you believe alcohol/drug addiction is a biological illness?


And did you know that my publisher Omnific is giving away THREE kindles loaded with our books? Enter HERE.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Insecurity and Impatience

I came across a great TED talk by social worker Brene Brown on the power of vulnerability. Courage is showing others who we are with our whole heart. The only way to connect with others is by showing them our vulnerabilities.

Since the above talk is 20 minutes and I know we're all busy hopping blogs for the Insecure Writers Support Group, here is a 5 minute presentation by Dr. Brown about the joys of imperfection.



Power of vulnerability?

Joys of imperfection?

Wha?

I'm here today to share with you some of my vulnerabilities, including insecurity and impatience. That's what happens in support groups, right? ;-)

In an earlier IWSG post I mentioned that my book sales had improved once my publisher lowered my ebook prices to $2.99. Unfortunately sales have slowed since then. Like, real slooow. Has anyone else noticed sales dipping?

While it's incredible to witness some books killing it (especially Wallbanger by Alice Clayton--released from my small publisher Omnific)--I feel insecure to compare that wild success to my little author hobby.

What are your insecurities?


I'm also mired in IMPATIENCE. Can you believe how long it takes to write a novel? I've been working on my WIP for a year and I'm still not done. I hoped to finish by now, when the ten weeks of The Next Best Thing ended. (Oh, that's another imperfection--I'm terribly behind with this meme.)

The good news is that I'm at 89,000 words. I will finish On Best Behavior!

What makes you impatient?



GIVEAWAYS!!!

Omnific Publishing hosts a Holiday Without Rules Kindles Full of Books Giveaway. My publisher will give away THREE Kindles, people! Loaded with our books. Enter HERE. And join us for the Author Author Blog Bounce too.

Are you stressed out from stringing Christmas lights and knocking back too much Egg Nog? Visit Kate Evangelista's blog where I provide tips for "Maintaining Sanity for the Holidays". I'm also giving away my YA swimming romance Streamline.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Volunteering with Teens: Guest Post

Thanks to Sara from Nanny Pro for her guest post on volunteering with teens who have mental illness. Take it away, Sara! 

 Volunteering and Teens with Mental Illness 

When you consider volunteering, most people think of the local soup kitchen or the animal shelter. These are the more common ways to give back in your community—feeding the hungry or assisting helpless animals. But those seeking more of a challenge should try volunteering with teens, particularly teens with mental illness. Mental illness is a growing problem for today’s teens and there are many different organizations around the world to help them through this time. 

Everyone knows that teens can be a tough group. Babies and children are innocent, fun, and sweet...the elderly are wise, calm, and full of wonderful stories...but teens needing the most help are the ones that don’t want it or don’t think they need it. You remember your teenage years--you and your friends were wanna-be rebels who thought you knew everything

There are several organizations across the United States that help teens, but few help youth with emotional and mental problems. Mental illness has always carried a negative social stigma, partly because it’s not a physical problem that you can see. 

Teens with mental illness are those that pose possible harm to themselves or to others. Teens with mental illnesses like bipolar or major depressive disorders may exhibit frightening behaviors like suicidal and homicidal threats or attempts, self-harm, stealing, and drug use. 

Throw a life raft to these teens! 

You can help these teens by volunteering your time at special centers dedicated to aiding them in their journeys. Teens need a positive adult to look up to, so join them for an activity like:

 • Baking and cooking 
 • Arts and crafts 
 • Career fairs 
 • Talking and advising 
 • Writing exercises 
 • Physical activity like tossing a ball 

Working with troubled teens isn’t for everyone. It’s only for those looking to make a difference in a teen's life by acting in a mature, friendly, and positive manner. Subject matters may come up that can be very uncomfortable and one needs to be able to figure out how to respond and handle these kind of conversations. 

For more information on where and how you can help out teens with issues, check with your local teen programs and/or visit the National Alliance of Mental Illness

Author Bio 
Sara is an active nanny as well as an active freelance writer. She is a frequent contributor to Nanny Pro

Thank you, Sara! As a psychologist, I agree that teen mental illness is on the rise. Students arrive to college with more psychopathology and prescription psychotropic medication than ever before. While volunteering with this age group might be a challenge, it can also be so fun! So get your inner snark on and join in this vibrant, clever group.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

No Justice by Darcia Helle: Review and Interview

Meeting author Darcia Helle is one reason I enjoy being an author. She is so kind and supportive! And I'm pleased to have her on the blog for an interview about her suspense novel No Justice. But first here's my review:

No JusticeNo Justice by Darcia Helle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Leaving Las Vegas Meets Dexter

In No Justice, Darcia Helle creates a gritty world reminiscent of the movie Leaving Las Vegas. Instead of alcoholic Nicholas Cage turning to prostitute Elizabeth Shue for solace, this time it’s hit man Michael Sykora falling for prostitute Nicki. Similar to the TV show Dexter, Michael kills bad men — like the one who murdered his wife.

From the first line…

Let him laugh. One more hour and he’d be dead.

…it’s clear a dark ride awaits. Somehow Darcia manages to show Michael’s integrity despite his sinister side vocation as hit man.

Although Michael first met Nicki when she serviced him as a prostitute, both developed genuine feelings for each other. He felt guilty for his attraction to her due to his allegiance to his dead wife, so he cut off all ties with her. But when Nicki later calls him, scared and on the run from her friend’s thuggish boyfriend, Michael can’t help but jump into the fray to help her. And when Michael goes in, he goes all in, encountering true danger from creepy Anthony Lott and his gang.

Michael’s day job is computer programming, and his office assistant Ruby is one of my favorite characters.

Ruby tapped on the side door, then, without waiting for Michael’s response, pushed it open and stepped inside. She said, “You’ve been locked up in here brooding all morning.”
Michael clicked out of the window he’d had open on his computer screen. He said, “I’m not brooding.”
“You prefer I call it pouting?”
Frowning, Michael looked up. Ruby had taken her non-nonsense stance, with both feet planted firmly about a foot apart and her hands spread out over her fleshy hips. “I do not pout,” he said.
“Really now? You look in the mirror yet today?”
“You come in here solely for the pleasure of giving me a hard time?”
“Course not,” Ruby replied. “It just comes so easy, sometimes I can’t help myself.”
“Lucky me.”


Other well-drawn supporting characters include Michael’s two friends: Ruby’s son Isaac, a police officer, and Sean, a fellow hit man who Michael originally hired to take out his wife’s killer. I love the complexity of both of these characters. Lawman Isaac just might know about Michael’s secret penchant for murder but keeps it quiet. Sean is a ruthless killer who demonstrates admirable loyalty toward Michael.

I look forward to reading Michael’s future exploits in
Beyond Salvation -- it appears Nicki will still be hanging around, worming her way into his cold, shattered heart. It’s wonderful to hear Darcia is writing book three in the series!

View all my reviews

And now welcome to Darcia Helle for an interview:


1. I loved hearing the story behind No Justice. Please tell us more about how you turned jury duty into a novel!

First, I want to say that a typical murder trial is nothing at all like the televised O.J. Simpson trial. Money buys an entirely different type of justice.

I took two very important lessons away from my experience: 1. The murder victim has no rights or protection during a trial, while the accused has all the rights and protection. 2. Jurors have to dig beneath the crap being flung to find the truth. Sadly, that surface crap is what most jurors base their opinions on.

I don’t remember now what prompted the conversation with my husband, but we were discussing my experience during that trial and the justice system in general. He’s ex-military and has a strong sense of protection toward those he loves. When I asked him what he’d do if I’d been murdered, he gave me a detailed and colorful reply. During that conversation, Michael Sykora was born.

In some ways, my husband and I are yin and yang. I’m a peacenik. I try to see the best in everyone, and I think, under the right circumstances, most people are capable of redemption. My husband, on the other hand, is all about an eye for an eye. Despite our different approach, we agree that our justice system is broken. The phrase that gave birth to this series is something my husband believes: There is no justice, only revenge.

** Readers interested in the piece I wrote about what inspired this book can find it on my Things of Interest page: http://www.quietfurybooks.com/thingsofinterest.html **

2. My review compared this novel to Leaving Las Vegas and Dexter. Have you seen either? Do movies or TV shows inspire your writing?

I haven’t seen either Dexter or Leaving Las Vegas. I fail miserably at TV and movie trivia.
The Dexter comparison makes me chuckle. Several years ago, before I decided to self-publish, I sent the requisite query and synopsis for No Justice off to an agent. He rejected my query because he felt the concept was too similar to Dexter. I’d never even heard of the show or the novel, and had to Google it. I really need to rent the series on DVD one of these days!

I don’t watch many movies, so that’s not an area of inspiration for me. I do get occasional ideas and inspiration from programs like Criminal Minds and Perception. I’m fascinated by the psychology behind criminal behavior. Few people are simply evil. I want to see the shades of gray; the good within the bad. The legalities of the pursuit and arrest don’t interest me nearly as much as the emotional, psychological and sociological aspects of criminal behavior.

3. One of my favorite characters is Ruby, Michael's assistant. What went into her character development?

I’d love to take credit for hours of character building and outlines, but the truth is I honestly don’t know. Like so many of my characters, she just appeared fully formed. Before I write, and during the process of the first draft, I spend a lot of time twisting ideas around in my mind. I knew Michael needed a small but strong support system. He needed a quasi family to give him stability and keep him from crossing all the way into the dark side. Beyond that, I had no real concept of her; not even a name. As I was writing, when I got to that first scene with her, she stepped into my mind as clearly as if she’d stepped into the room with me.

4. How sympathetic are you to Michael?

I’m extremely sympathetic to his character, which intrigues me. As I said before, I’m a peacenik. I don’t believe in the death penalty, so it’s odd that I can relate to and sympathize with someone who murders people.

When I decided to write this book, I knew my biggest hurdle would be in creating a killer that people would like. As his character took shape, I realized I really liked him and that gave me hope readers would as well. While he is, in essence, a murderer, he is also a man with morals and standards. He doesn’t kill for pleasure. And he only kills the worst of the worst, such as pedophiles and repeat rapists. The victims of these crimes are, in his eyes, failed by our justice system. He’s out to balance the scales and make the world a little safer for the good guys.

5. I hear you're finishing book three of this series. What are your plans?

Book three has been too long in the making! I kept getting sidetracked with other projects. I’ve also been struggling with a lot of health complications this year, so this one has taken me longer to write than any other. I hope to have it complete and published in early spring of 2013.

I don’t have any specific plans for this series beyond completing the one I’m working on. I do have lots of stray ideas for future stories. With this book, Sean, a minor character in the first two, has a much bigger role. I see future books branching off with his character as a lead. Something happens within book three that gives me lots of room to expand on Sean’s life. I’d also like to bring Isaac, another minor character, in for a bigger role in a future story.

The main thing for me with this series is to keep it new and fresh. As a reader, I get bored when a series just rehashes similar plots with the same characters for 10 or 12 books. As a writer, I get bored when the characters have established themselves and have nothing new to say to me. In order to keep myself and my readers involved and coming back for more, I need to explore the supporting cast. I want to see how their actions might affect Michael, and how he reacts to the change around him.

Thank you Darcia! Can't wait to read Beyond Salvation.

And now please join us for the Omnific Publishing Author Blog Bounce!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving 2012!

To all my American friends, I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving. I'm at the airport on my way to Chicago *points to skyline above* to spend the holiday with my oldest sister, brother in law, nephews, and parents.

To all my international friends, happy Thursday!

Here are a couple of recipes I want to share.

I made "Wild Rice with Shitake Mushrooms and Miso Dressing" for a potluck at work, and got some rave reviews from the vegetarians on staff:

Recipe HERE


And today I plan to make these hilarious chocolate turkeys, perhaps as place settings for the Thanksgiving dinner table.


Hee hee.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gender Differences in Mental Health

Today I have a guest post from Ken Myers. Take it away, Ken!


Different Mental Health Concerns in Men and Women

Aside from the obvious physical characteristics, men and women differ greatly. Their thought processes, preferences, and struggles can vary wildly. Yet there are also individual differences within each gender. Here are some gender differences in mental health:

1. Alcohol and Other Drugs - Men are more prone to substance abuse, according to researchers. Our culture socializes men to avoid emotional expression, and sometimes they turn to alcohol and other drugs to suppress emotion.

2. Depression - Women are more prone to bouts with depression. Whereas men tend to deal with stress through externalizing problems (substance abuse, aggression, “acting out” behaviors), women tend to deal with stress by internalizing problems (low self-worth, depression, anxiety).

3. Eating Disorders – Women comprise about 90% of the eating disorder population. However, numbers of men with eating disorders are growing, particularly with Binge Eating Disorder. The proposed diagnosis of Muscle Dysmorphia is also more common in men.

4. Psychiatric Medications - According to a study completed in 2000, women are more likely to use psychiatric medications compared to men. This finding could be linked to men having difficulty asking for help.

When dealing with a mental illness, taking into consideration the person’s gender can prevent a misdiagnosis and can facilitate individualized treatment. Men and women tend to deal with stress differently, and we have lots to learn about how gender affects mental health. What we do know is that men and women have trouble understanding each other!

Author Byline:
Ken Myers the editor in chief is a frequent contributor of http://www.gonannies.com/ Ken helps acquiring knowledge on the duties & responsibilities of nannies to society. You can reach him at kmyers.ceo@gmail.com.

And now it's time for Omnific Publishing's Blog Bounce. Join us here!

 

Monday, November 12, 2012

YALL Fest Fun

What fun it was to attend a young adult book festival in Charleston, South Carolina on Saturday: The YALL Fest 2012!

Omnific Publishing sponsored an exhibitor table and provided tons of YA books to give away to our readers. Lovely author Trisha Wolfe signed copies of her steampunk-futuristic-sci-fi Destiny's Fire, and I signed copies of my swimming-romance-military-murder-mystery Streamline.

Here I am wearing a fake Navy hat, posing with Trisha Wolfe. Yes, I am twice her size. ;-)
We also had the pleasure of introducing readers to our pub sisters' creations:

Embrace by Cherie Colyber
Life, Liberty & Pursuit by Susan Kaye Quinn
Ember and Shades of Atlantis by Carol Oates
Breaking Point by Jessica Bowen

(Too bad Iridescent by Carol Oates and Reaping Me Softly by Kate Evangelista were too hot off the presses to make it to this festival.)

Here are readers holding their signed copies of Streamline!

Kristen and Sharanna

Marie works at a library on a Naval Base

Morgan and Briana--aren't they cute?

And here's cool YA book blogger Briana from The Book Pixie

Happy reading to all who attended! I definitely encourage you to attend next year's YALL Fest if you can make it. It's a great place to interact with enthusiastic readers.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Men & Women of the Military Giveaway Hop

Thanks to Vanessa from The Jeep Diva for hosting the Men & Women of the Military Hop.

Photobucket I LOVE men in the military! I have to confess I've written stories about men in the US Navy simply because they look so damn hot in uniform. *blushes*

Shallow, right? Okay, it's also true that I really admire their sacrifice in keeping us safe. I'm also fascinated by the complete obedience required to serve in the military.

All three of my romantic suspense novels feature a military influence.

The hero of With Good Behavior and Bad Behavior is Grant Madsen, former Navy lieutenant. Unfortunately his Mafia family interfered with him serving his country for very long, but he still calls everyone "Ma'am" and "Sir" hee hee.

Leo Scott--the hero of Young Adult swimming romance Streamline--seems like the perfect midshipman for the Naval Academy. But perfection is hard to achieve.

I'm giving away ebooks featuring these hot men in uniform! To enter, complete the Rafflecopter form.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And make sure to hop over to enter all these awesome giveaways! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Insecure Writers Support Group: Politics

I HOPE the Presidential election has been decided by the time this post goes live. The last thing we need in America is more hanging chads!

Today I want to talk about political beliefs and the extent to which you share them.

I live in Ohio, the state that COULD DECIDE THE ELECTION dun dun dun. I'd much rather frolic on the beach than listen to the endless political commercials.


But I am passionate about politics. I have strong opinions about who I want to win this election. Yet I stifle myself from sharing my political views in both careers as a psychologist and author (psycho author). Why?

1. Therapy is about the client, not the therapist. My political views don't really matter. The only times I self-disclose are when those disclosures could benefit the client, and my opinion about politics probably isn't central to our therapy goals. So I listen, nod with understanding, and sometimes *grr* inside.

2. Marketing my books is not about me spouting political beliefs, mostly because I don't want to alienate half of my readership or author buddies. I believe our personal philosophies shine through in our work, but I don't want to be too overt about it. Frankly, I've hidden quite a few Facebook friends who post their political agenda non-stop.

Thank goodness my swimming buddy Eric and I vent about politics all the time, or I'd explode!

Authors: How passionate are YOU about politics? To what extent do you share your views? Why?

And now to continue with "The Next Best Thing". Author Darcia Helle challenged me to answer questions about my work in progress On Best Behavior (The Conduct Series #3).

* How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I started writing On Best Behavior about a year ago and I'm still not done (though at 84,000 words I'm getting closer to the finish!) However, in the past year I completed a HUGE edit on my YA novel Streamline, which launched in March, 2012. I also tend to edit as I go, extending the first draft time-frame.

* What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The genre is romantic suspense. I've received reader comments about how unique this series is, so it's hard to compare it to other stories. Maybe the Black Ops, Inc. series by Cindy Gerard? But her heroes are more alpha than Grant Madsen. I don't know many books featuring a psychologist heroine either. If you do, please tell me.

To those of you doing NaNo, best of luck to you! And to the rest of us, keep trucking.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review: Pushing the Limits

With the Goodreads Choice Awards opening, I want to share my review for the book I voted as best Young Adult Fiction--truly one of the best reads of this year for me: Pushing the Limits.

Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, #1)Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Heartbreaking Tale of Healing and Young Love

I love YA issue contemporaries, and this story is the best I've read. Thank you to all my GR friends who recommended this story. Yes, Rena...Mrs. Collins rocks!

Echo Emerson used to be the popular girl at her Midwestern high school. Sure, her controlling father and mentally ill mother had divorced, and her older brother had died fighting in Afghanistan, but she was managing okay. Until the night her mother stopped taking her medication for Bipolar Disorder. Echo emerged from that night covered in scars, with absolutely no memory for what happened. She went from popular to freak -- withdrawn and scared.

Luckily for Echo, the school hires a new clinical social worker -- Mrs. Collins -- who meets with selected troubled students for therapy. (Echo doesn't feel so lucky to meet with Mrs. Collins, but she doesn't have much choice).

Another student Mrs. Collins targets is Noah Hutchins, the hot, dark boy in cheap clothes and a leather jacket. His backstory slays me. Noah's parents died in a house fire, forcing him and his much younger brothers into foster care. And foster care hasn't been pretty for Noah. The system labeled him as dangerous after he hit one abusive foster father, and now he has limited visits with his brothers. Every time Noah interacts with his adorable bros, I bawled. Jacob is eight and little Tyler's only four.

The door opened and I automatically stood with the gifts still in my hands. Jacob flew through the door and rammed his body into mine. His head reached my stomach now. I tossed the presents on the table, lowered myself to Jacob's level and wrapped my arms around him. My heart dropped. Man, he'd grown.

The scheming Mrs. Collins knows Echo wants a job and Noah isn't working up to his potential in school, so she hires Echo to tutor Noah in Calculus and other subjects. They gradually disclose their pain to each other, starting with Noah:

"It doesn't get better," I said. "The pain. The wounds scab over and you don't always feel like a knife is slashing through you. But when you least expect it, the pain flashes to remind you you'll never be the same."

Later Noah asks Echo:

"Think Mrs. Collins put the two most depressed people together on purpose?" I flashed a smile to keep the honesty of the statement from corroding the remainder of my heart.
Echo's hand retreated. "Wow, I thought I was the only person at this school faking every moment."


When they compare their scars, they reveal their immense insecurity, starting with Echo:

"It's not the same. You're strong. You helped people. I...I trusted the wrong person and I go all pathetic and don't remember a thing. Anyhow, you're a guy. Scars on guys are, like, sexy. Scars on girls...that's just...ugly." And there, I said it -- out loud.
His hold on my hand tightened and his eyes darkened into thunderclouds. "F that. There is no shame in trusting your mother. She f'ed up. Not you. As as for that pathetic bullshit -- f that too. You are not pathetic. You had the guts to return to school and continue to live your life like nothing happened. Me? I lost it all and flushed anything left of me down the damn toilet. Now that's pathetic."


Beautiful! If only Noah could give himself the same compassion. But these two do grow emotionally in the story, and I thought the ending was both happy AND realistic -- my favorite.

This story truly moved me and I want to recommend it to everyone I know. I can't believe this is a debut novel! I can't freaking wait to read the continuation of Echo and Noah's journeys.

View all my reviews

And now bounce with Omnific Publishing! Instructions HERE.

 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Get your spook on with this giveaway hosted by I Am A Reader Not a Writer blog and The Diary of a Bookworm blog.


I'm giving away a $10 gift card to an online bookstore. Get out there and buy some creepy reads this Halloween.

Might I suggest two books written by my pub sisters?

* Eve of Samhain by Lisa Sanchez...my review HERE

* Grave Refrain by Sarah Glover...a love/ghost story

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And did you know there are over 400 participating blogs? Visit as many as you can and improve your chances of winning!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Alpha Male Blog Hop

Thank you to Carrie Ann for hosting the Alpha Male Blog Hop!
Roar! This guy's all "I get hot and powerful when I read books."

Alpha males are wonderful -- I've enjoyed reading their exploits in romantic suspense novels by Pamela Clare and Cindy Gerard.

But my ideal hero has a mix of Alpha AND Beta. He's wounded, physically and/or emotionally, and therefore has a lot of depth. He's intelligent and respectful of women. He's clean-shaven, tall, and lean. And I don't mind him in handcuffs (wait...the Hot in Handcuffs Giveaway just ended!) My ideal hero is not a bad boy, but a man who gets in trouble due to standing up for others.

When I was dating more, I sought a man who was athletic and could talk about his feelings.

And I wonder why I'm still single! *snorts*

Anyway, Carrie Ann offers some amazing GRAND PRIZES if you comment and leave your email address on the comment:

1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet
2nd Grand Prize: A $130 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
3rd Grand Prize: The following Swag Pack!


Wow! Thanks, Carrie Ann. Hop to all the blogs and enter 200+ times!

And I'm sweetening the pot by giving away two ebooks of my novels which feature sexy alpha/beta heroes: With Good Behavior (romantic suspense) and Streamline (YA swimming romance).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Look! The Next Best Thing!

Author Darcia Helle sure is creating a lot of work for me on the blog. ;-) First she tagged me for The Next Best Thing Blog Challenge. Then she tagged me AGAIN for the U Got the Look Blog Challenge.

Both challenges involve my work-in-progress On Best Behavior (The Conduct Series #3).

Author Gail Baugniet started The Next Best Thing HERE. The rules are:

Answer 10 questions about my current WIP (Work-In-Progress)

What is the working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I decided to follow Gail by posting my answer to one question a week, with the hope of finishing the manuscript in ten weeks.

Sadly the past two weeks have been epic FAIL for me and I've forgotten to post my answers among all the giveaways I've been hosting. (And another giveaway starts tomorrow--stay tuned).  So, I'm answering three questions today to catch up.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Actor Wentworth Miller is my absolute celebrity crush--he's an easy pick to play Grant Madsen. I can't remember this actress's name but I can totally see her as Sophie Taylor.

Thanks to Julie from A Tale of Many Reviews for framing these photos!

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Planning a wedding is never easy, especially when the Russian Mafia want you dead.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Neither--it will be published (I hope!) by Omnific Publishing, a small publisher I lurve.

And now onto U Got the Look!

The Look is a writing prompt, a game, another tagging event. This is how U Got “The Look” works: you take your current manuscript, search for the word “look”, and post the surrounding paragraphs. Lastly, you tag 5 blogging authors who you think will be a good choice for the game.

(I use the word "look" approximately 20,000 times in each manuscript so this should be no problem.)


Sophie looked into his worried blue eyes and reached for his hand. “Grant, I have absolutely no qualms about marrying you. I’d do it today if we could.”
“Then let’s just go to the courthouse right now.”
She grimaced. “You know I’d love that, but my dad would kill me. No, we’ll do it this summer, like we planned. We’ll do the big church wedding.” She turned back to the door.
He tugged at her hand, drawing her to face him again. “Sophie, talk to me.”
“It’s just…” She sighed. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen Pastor Tom, and…do you know anyone whose marriage is actually happy, Grant? We love each other, but who’s to say we won’t turn out like our parents?”
He flinched. “There’s no way we could be as bad as my parents.”
“But they were in love once too, right? Your dad even sang to your mom at their wedding.”
“I guess you could say they were in love once, before my father showed his true colors.” His eyes darkened. “But Sophie, we’re different from them. I’m not an alcoholic, for one thing.”
Her lips curled into a faint smile. Their psychologist Hunter’s insistence that Grant was not his father had finally gotten through to him. “You’re not a child abuser either.”
“Though Ben sure tempts me sometimes.”
Sophie’s grin widened. Grant joking about the trials of helping to parent his nephew, instead of freezing up at the mere mention of child abuse, definitely indicated his progress in counseling.
 
And now I tag 5 author friends to get the "look". No worries if you've already participated.


And finally, please join us on the Omnific Publishing Author, Author Blog Bounce! Instructions are HERE.


 


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