Thursday, November 29, 2012

Books That Heal the Soul #reading #amreading

Donated books at Sayreville distribution center

 
Last month Dr. Debra Holland, writer and psychotherapist, contacted one of our Pocono Lehigh Romance Writers asking for donations of books. She was heading to New Jersey to stay with a friend and do volunteer crisis counseling at a shelter in Rutgers for victims of Hurricane Sandy. She said she knew from experience people at these shelters are bored and would love to read books. If we had children’s or teen books that would be great too. She also said we could sign them (if we were donating our own author copies) and add an inspirational note or card.

So we collected a pile of books and PLRW member Marianne shipped them off to Debra’s friend and they were brought to the Sayreville, New Jersey distribution center that FEMA and the Red Cross had set up. The photo above is a picture of some of the boxes we sent. These books were also shipped out to other centers.

Books can’t take away the pain from losing a home after a disaster like Hurricane Sandy. Many of these people lost EVERYTHING. Their homes, all their belongings and a lifetime of memories completely gone in one night. Sitting in a shelter with nothing to do but worry and think about their losses must be very difficult. We can only imagine. At least a book can provide distraction, mild entertainment and a little hope. The characters in books have courage and find strength to overcome insurmountable odds, maybe they can too.

One story Debra mentions on her blog really struck home with me and brought tears to my eyes. (Especially since I’m a Jersey girl) One man she counseled was having a difficult time and agreed to speak with Debra. He and his 17 year-old son left with only the clothes on their backs. They’d been wearing the same clothes for four days.

They talked for a few minutes and she provided words of encouragement, validated his pain. Then the man spoke out surprised, “You've only been talking to me for 10 minutes, and you understand what I'm going through!"

He told Debra when the storm started he took $100 of his own money and bought candles, then went room to room at the hotel where they were staying and handed them out. His son couldn’t understand why when these people didn’t care about his father. But his dad did it because it made him feel good. The boy’s mother had abandoned him at age six, so it’s difficult for him to believe people care. The man thanked Debra and was grateful that she cared.

Debra told them about the free books at the center and the man said he thought that was a good idea. His son likes to read science fiction. She told the man to make sure he told his son that the books were donated by people who care. Our group donated a number of different genres too. I donated a couple sci fi books. It would be nice to think this man’s son is reading one of those books and one day will have a bookshelf in his own room to place it in.


Check out Debra’s blog for her experience during her stay. It’s very heartwarming.


Friday, November 23, 2012

For The Love of Series Books #amreading



Are you a lover of series novels or is your life so crazy that you can’t commit to a 3-book, 4, 5 or more book series? The other problem with series is that there are so MANY awesome books out there it’s hard to choose. That’s me. My TBR pile is ginormous and there are so many fabulous authors and books and genres I like to read. It’s difficult to squeeze in all those books.

Many authors do write series because they have a bigger story to tell and because readers love series. Most are stand-alone books so if a readers pops into the middle of the series, they won’t be lost. They can still enjoy the book even if they don’t read the entire series. And at the same time, those devoted readers who have read each book in order won’t get bored with long repeated sections of previous book’s backstory. It does take a talent to write a good series. A good stand-alone book series is not like some TV shows like LOST, where, if you haven’t started watching from the first episode, forget it. Wait until it comes out in DVD and watch the whole season. Otherwise, you’ll never catch up.
 


Damned and Defiant  is the third book of my Demon’s in Exile series and even if you haven’t read the first two books, it is a stand-alone story. You don’t need the first two books to enjoy this read. This reviewer agrees: Reviews by Molly
 

My Review:
Kathy Kulig is a highly talented author and I am pleased I had the chance to review this book. It was filled with amazingly created paranormal elements, characters that grab your heart, and a plot line that will grip you til the end. I wasn’t sure how I would do with reading this book, being the 3rd in the series, but it’s quite easy to follow.

Dante’s character is hot! A demon and sexy…oh yea, baby! I loved his character. He was torn between loving a mortal woman and doing his duty as an immortal demon by returning to his dimension. He’s fallen in love with his home, his horses and his surroundings, but his Demoness has told him he has to return to Anartia soon. He only gets to take two things from his current life on Earth with him and he chooses his horses. But, it’s not where his heart his. His defiant heart is somewhere where it really shouldn’t belong.

Haley was left in the desert months ago, where she doesn’t remember what happened. All she knows is she’s in love (and in lust!) with Dante. She has no idea he’s a demon….at least at first. When she quickly falls deeper for him, she finds out he’s leaving. Can she convince him to let her change…..or give up his immortality for a life with her?

Watching these two together was sizzling hot! Their attraction is beyond breathtaking! The passion between was scorching. You’ll really need a nice tall glass of iced water when you read this novel. Watching the feelings flow through Dante was awesome. I could feel his conflicting emotions as if they were my own. And Haley…well, she was one stubborn Sha Warrior, as she’s known to the Drones.

With this 4 Book worthy novel, you’ll be taken on the ride of your life, hoping these two finally come to their senses and grab what’s right in front of them. Ms. Kulig’s writing style sucks you into the heart of the story, and by the end of the book, you’re instantly ready for more! I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next for the Drones…..as much as I hated secondary characters Valdon and Natesa, I really would love to see them again in another book! Great job, Ms. Kulig….you’ve gained a new fan!

 
A Few Super Series:






So here are just a “few” series favorites I’ve read recently. Either at least one or more or all in that series I’ve read or am reading. You'll see I like a variety from erotic romance to romantic suspense to thrillers, Sci fi and more. What series have you read recently or are reading? Please feel free to PIMP your own work with links.

Joyce Lamb – True series
Larissa Ione – Demonica
Nalini Singh – Psy-Changlelings
Virginia Kantra – Children of the Sea
Maria V. Snyder - Study Series
Lora Leigh – Feline Breeds, Elite Ops
Lee Childs – Jack Reacher
Maya Banks - Sweet
Barry Eisler – John Rain
Autumn Jordon - C.U.F.F.
Alyssa Day – Warriors of Poseidon
Caridad Pineiro – Sin Hunters, The Calling
Susan Sizemore – Prime
Sherrilyn Kennyon – Dark Hunters
JR Ward – Black Dagger Brotherhood
Janet Evanovich – Stephanie Plum
Dan Brown – Robert Langdon
J.K. Rowlings – Harry Potter
EL James – 50 Shades
Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games
Bob Mayer – Area 51
Orson Scott Card – Ender’s Game
Barry Eisler – John Rain
Cindy Spencer Pape - The Gaslight Chronicles
Christine d'Abo - Long Shots, Eternal Bonds
1-800-DOM-Help (Ellora’s Cave multi-authors)
Cougar Challenge (EC multi-authors)
Cris Anson –Dance
Cerise Deland, Desire Holt – Nemesis
Regina Carlysle – High Plains Shifters
Amber Skyze - Freedom Fantasies
Ann Jacobs –Lawyers in Love
Stephanie Julian – Lucani Lovers
Lynn LaFleur – Men with Tools
Joey W. Hill – Nature of Desire
Laurann Dohner – New Species
Buckin’ Bull Rider – Cassandra Carr
And many, many more….


Here’s your chance to share your favorites and authors to pimp your own series with LINKs.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Frankfurt Book Fair - Top 10 Buzz Words




The Frankfurt Book Fair is the largest event of its kind where publishers, authors, film, games, information and communication technology, distributers and multimedia companies meet every October in Frankfurt, Germany. Publisher Raelene Gorlinsky with Editor Rebecca Hill from Ellora's Cave Publishing attended this year.

Here's the impressive breakdown:

7,384 exhibitors form 106 countries. 3200 events with 280,194 visitors. How do they organize such an enormous event? How wonderful to see the bottom line from all these countries: No matter the language or culture, people love books.

Ellora's Cave had a nice mention in an interesting article in Publishing Perspective about the book fair and the industry news. The article mentioned that although nine countries reported a decline in sales, the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon has caused a sharp increase in erotica sales. The UK saw a 192% growth in erotica sales and also a 384% rise in romance sales.

The most promising markets right now are India and Brazil.

For erotica, the primary markets are North America, Western Europe and Japan. Japan prefers erotic suspense, not so much paranormal like shapeshifters and vampires.


Raelene Gorlinsky at the EC booth. See Something Wicked This Way Comes in the Background??


I found this on the Publishing Perspective and I thought was interesting. "Top 10 Buzz Words at the Frankfurt Book Fair" by Edward Nawotka. Here are my thoughts.


1. Discovery - Discovery means a lot of things to authors. Name recognition, having readers, reviewers, editors and/or agents find you and your books. Mr. Nawotka felt bookstores are still the best place for readers to find your books. But many authors are eBook first or eBook only authors so those books won't be in the store. They will be in the online store.
 
2. Digital First - Ebooks are here to stay and growing.
 
3. Metadata - a buzz word all around, that and SEO (search engine optimization). They agreed that good metadata drives sales.
 
4. Erotica - Mr. Nawotka said, "Erotica is not porn." No kidding. Thanks to E. L. James countries who hadn't been interested in erotica before were looking into foreign rights at this conference. Yay!
 
5. Pricing - Elasticity, or adjusting pricing to get books selling then raising the price to get profits is good business sense.
 
6. BIC - Brazil, India and China. These were the hot markets people at the conference were talking about.
 
7. Analytics - Stats aren't enough. Some of Amazon competitors were considering sharing their secret consumer stats to help publishers. Hmmm. distributors and publishers HELPING eachother. What a concept.
 
8. GAMA - Acronym for Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon. Need I say more?
 
9. Story - Publishers and agents continue to say this and they are right: It's all about the story.
 
10. Haka -  It's a new Frankfurt dance craze. Sounds like fun.







Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dark, Edgy, Spicey Suzanne Rock




I love inviting authors to the Passion Sense blog, reading about their books and their writing life. Today we have Suzanne Rock (check out her website. Click HERE) She's a New Englander which is one of my favorite places. I have family in Vermont and Massachusetts. And visit the Cape (Cape Cod) often.

  A lifetime New Englander, Suzanne married her college sweetheart and has been with him for over twenty years. Every summer she drags her husband and two daughters to Maine on a quest for the perfect lobster dinner. Every fall she can be found down in Foxboro, Massachusetts cheering on her favorite football team. In between those trips, she’s a chauffeur, a maid, a chef, an event planner, a hairdresser, a wardrobe stylist, a tutor and a sometimes masseuse. To keep her sanity, she often drinks copious amounts of coffee and stares at the blank screen of her laptop, dreaming of great adventures. Sometimes she even writes them down for others to enjoy.

Interview with Suzanne Rock:

- What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t ever give up. This business can be very hard and get your down at times. Don’t let it get to you. Instead, surround yourself with supportive friends and family who will get you through the good and bad times. Above all – keep writing!

- If you could write another genre other than romance what would you write?

- Are you seat of the pants writer or plotter?

When I first started writing, I was a “seat of your pants” type of girl. I had the opening scene in my head, but not much else. It never worked for me. The story always seemed to wander around and lack a certain cohesiveness. Now I’m a plotter. Once I have an idea, I write a chapter by chapter outline and then follow it. This seems to work much better for me. It also works better for my editors who often require a synopsis with my first chapters.

- Do you write full time or work outside of the home?

I do a variety of job from the home. In addition to writing erotic romance under Suzanne Rock, I also am the social media coordinator for Pink Petal Books and I teach beginning writing classes online (http://suzannerock.com/?page_id=64). Next year, I hope to launch a mainstream romance pen name who will write contemporary romance and romantic suspense. I’m not 100% sure of the name yet, but it will be linked with the Suzanne Rock name.

- A lot of people think that genre hopping isn’t a good idea. What do you think?

It depends. It all comes down to branding and strengthening your brand. While I recognize the need for some writers to write outside their chosen genre to stay fresh, as a reader, I want to know what I’m getting. When you buy a Christine Feehan, you know you will get a great paranormal romance. Tielle St. Claire also writes paranormal romance, but she writes erotic. Their books are very different and I have different expectations of each. I expect to find BDSM in a Cherise Sinclair novel and suspense from Allison Brennon. When I’m looking to read a certain type of book, I look for a certain type of author. If your writing is all over the place, then I’ll be less likely to pick up your book because I have no idea if I’m getting a romantic comedy or a paranormal thriller.

Having said that, I don’t think a writer should stay in one genre indefinitely, because the chance for burnout is great. If you feel the need to write in other genres, then manage different pen names to keep the branding separate. Don’t spread yourself too thin, however. The more pen names you have, the harder it is to build an audience under any one name because your time is so divided.

- Are you an outgoing person?

Absolutely not! I’m hopelessly introverted. I think most writers are.

- Do you have any favorite movies?

I love old movies like Casablanca and the God Father. My book, Spyder’s Web, is sort of film noir. The hero, James, is a compilation of James Dean and Humphrey Bogart, two of my favorite old Hollywood actors.

-Do you write a novel straight through? Or revise as you go? Plan a whole series in advance? Or does the series evolve?

I have to do what is called “fast draft,” otherwise I’ll never finish a story. I’ll take my time plotting, then write as fast as I can until I reach “the end.” The manuscript normally needs 2-3 editing passes before it’s ready for the world to see.

Sometimes I plot out a series, as in the Immortal Hungers Series, but most of the time, the series just evolves.

- What’s next?

Right now, I’m planning on finishing up some series that I have started. I’m currently writing the sixth and final installment of the Ecstasy Spa series. Then I’ll switch and write the next two books in the Small Town Seduction series sequels to A Little Bit Reckless). Then I’ll work on finishing the Warlock Mating Chronicles. Hopefully I’ll have all of these series complete by the end of January.
 

Amazon     B&N

- Do your books have a particular theme or premise?

All of my books are about characters who struggle between doing what is expected of them, and doing what they feel in their heart is right. They don’t quite fit the mold society has placed on them and long to be their true selves. My books hopefully inspire people to stay true to themselves and follow their hearts.

-For fun. What is your favorite kind of chocolate or chocolate dessert? (I love chocolate covered cherries)

I love chocolate covered espresso beans. I once ate a whole bag. I was up all night, lol.
 
Blurb for Pressure Point:

When Blake and Drew ask Elsie to have some fun with them at the Ecstasy Spa holiday party, she seizes the opportunity to forget about the pressures of her job and personal life. She has always had a crush on both men and knows that they are dating, so she expects nothing more than the one-night stand they offer her. Blake and Drew have other plans however. Together the men fulfill her every torrid dream, bringing her to heights she never thought possible. They want to make their fling more permanent, but doing so could cost them all their jobs. Should Elsie risk her livelihood for a chance to make her dreams come true?
 
Excerpt

Are you two dating? I mean, I know it’s none of my business, but I’m curious. I guess you must be dating. Why else would you be kissing in the men’s locker room, where there are no clients?” Elsie asked.

Blake shrugged and moved closer, effectively trapping her in the back of the coatroom. “I don’t know. You tell me.”

Elsie shifted her gaze from one man to the other. “Not that the two of you dating bothers me. Not at all. Whatever you two do outside of the spa isn’t any concern of mine.”

Drew brushed a stray hair from her face and caught her gaze. “We work together to please clients, Elsie. Nothing more.”

Elsie tried hard not to lean into his touch. Drew was solid, dependable. She had always felt like he’d provide the perfect foundation to any relationship.

“The truth is that we love women.” Blake brushed his fingers along her waist. His touch was different than Drew’s. It felt gentler, more apprehensive.

“We love how soft they feel.” Drew slid his fingers down the side of her cheek, creating a path of fire along her skin.

“How curvy they are.” Blake stepped closer and slipped his hand around the small of her back. Elsie felt like a captured animal. Her heart beat faster, and her breath quickened. Heat blossomed in her core and quickly spread through her entire body.

Elsie glanced from one man to the other. “I thought you two were in a committed relationship. At least, that was what Jenna said earlier. How could you be in a committed relationship and still have sex with women?”

Blake slid his fingers up her back and toyed with the end of her zipper. “Good question. Perhaps a committed relationship means different things to different people.”

Drew ran his thumb across her lower lip, drawing her gaze toward him. “Does it really matter what our relationship is like? All that matters is that we love women.”

“We love sharing women.” Blake tightened his grip around her waist and moved her until she stood in front of him. Elsie widened her eyes as he pressed his swollen cock into her ass.

“The thing is, we want you, Elsie,” Drew said.

“We’ve wanted you ever since we first laid eyes on you.” Blake eased his hands down around her hips and held her steady as he pressed his hard cock deeper into her ass.

“We wanted to tell you,” Drew said. “We were waiting for when the time was right.” He shifted his gaze down to her lips and leaned forward. “I guess that time is now.”

“But Celeste—”

“Elsie.” Drew flicked his gaze up to meet hers. “Forget about Jenna, Celeste and any rumors that may be circulating about us. That is all hearsay. This is real…”
 
Visit Suzanne:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hurricane Sandy: The Worst and Best Sides

Casino Pier Seaside, NJ. Rollercoaster in background now in ocean

No power, fuel shortages, limited transportation, lack of shelter and heat has made life almost impossible to bear. My heart and prayers goes out to the victims and their families of Hurricane Sandy and wishes for a quick recovery and rebuilding to those affected by the devastation. It’s little comfort to say material things can be replaced, lives not, when you’ve lost absolutely everything.


Last night dh and I sat in our favorite local bar/restaurant having dinner and watched the relief concert telethon at NBC studios Rockefeller Center with numerous artists: Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Christina Aguilera, Jimmy Fallon, Sting, Steven Tyler and others singing familiar songs while a banner ran with information where people could call or text in to donate toward the relief. www.redcross.org or 1-800-733-2767 (1-800-RED-CROSS) Spread the word on Twitter by #SandyHelp.

To donate for Hurricane Sandy disaster relief click Here:


Others involved in the telethon included Matt Lauer, Jimmy Fallon, Whoopi Goldberg, Kevin Bacon, Tina Fey and Danny DeVito.

We stared at the TV, watching the horrific devastation with tears in our eyes and texted in our donations. In Pennsylvania, we were fortunate. Many are still without power. I can look down the street from the restaurant and see houses that are dark, a traffic light out, trees down. I know of friends who had damage to homes and smashed cars. Kids still aren’t back to school, but this is nothing compared to what has happened in NJ and NY.

Watching the pictures of the Jersey Shore was especially heart breaking because I grew up in New Jersey (Northwest) and spent many summers visiting Seaside Park, Asbury Park, Point Pleasant, Cape May and Wildwood.

As a kid, we camped at Ocean View Campgrounds. We started out in a tent then moved up to a pop-up trailer. At the time, I didn’t know we camped mainly because we couldn’t afford to stay in a hotel. Camping was fun, and I always got a thrill walking over the sand dunes each summer to see the ocean. We’d build drip sand castles from wet sand, body surfed until our fingers were wrinkled, our hair stiff with salt water and our lips turned blue. Our parents made us sit in the sun to warm up until our lips were back to normal color before we could go swimming again. We’d eat half our peanut butter sandwiches and feed the other half to seagulls.
 
When we got older we rode bicycles on the boardwalk before 10 AM. In my memories, I can still smell the salt air breeze and creosote wood of the boardwalk. At night, we compared our treasure of seashells, played cards, chased lightning bugs, roasted marshmallows and visited the amusement rides on the boardwalk. I loved riding the scary ones with my dad. Like the big rollercoaster you might’ve seen partly submerged in the ocean after the storm.  Electronic games? iPods? Computers? They weren’t invented yet.

As a teenager, I’d get up at 5 AM and drive down to the shore with friends to beat the weekend traffic. We’d get to Seaside before the boardwalk and vendor booths opened. We’d sleep on the beach. Slowly, we’d hear the metal shutters slide open on the individual booths, and the click-click of the game wheels, smell the onions and peppers cooking. A huge slice of pizza and frozen custard on a cone was the treat of the day. And is still my favorite. I held hands with a boyfriend on the scary rides, who later became my husband and later again my ex-husband. Still good memories.

The Jersey Shore will never be the same, but it will be rebuilt. Jersey folk are tough and good-hearted people.

The Best and Worst of Mankind Emerges in Disasters

 

I’ve heard from friends in NJ how tempers are flaring. People can’t get gas, and some are stealing gas from cars. Without gas people can’t get to work. Relief efforts don’t seem fast enough. Swat teams have to step in to keep things from getting out of control. But after living through Hurricane Andrew in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1992, I know the best of mankind also emerges. I’ve been hearing of random acts of kindness:

Here in PA, a grocery store offered to replace food items up to a dollar amount if you lost food. A local hairdresser offered free shampoo and blow drying for those without hot water. Barnes and Noble in Bethlehem set up extra power strips in their cafĂ© so people could come in and charge phones, computers, etc. While a few neighbors helped us with a tree that had fallen in our yard, a utility vehicle stopped and the guy asked if we were doing okay. I’m sure he'd been working some long hours. Power cords were stretched across my street where neighbors with power were sharing with those without. Our neighbor was plugged into our outside outlet.

I’ve read where people were giving away pizza in NYC, a doctor was giving free medical care, a Tweet from @TheDutchNYC offered free soup and salad, someone with a jetski was rescuing people in Fairfield, NJ, people with power offered charging stations, not to mentions the endless hours rescue workers, police, firemen and utility crews and many other workers were putting in insane hours to help.

There’s a Hurricane Sandy Acts of Kindness Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/HurricaneSandyActsOfKindness?ref=stream&filter=3

Please share any random acts of kindness that you heard about.

At the Friday night telethon concert, Jon Stewart ended with the words, "Jersey strong, man. Keep your heart in it.''