Friday, February 21, 2014

Book Review - Only for You by Tista Ray

Today, I'm posting a review of Tista Ray's second novel called Only for You. Tista is an award-winning young adult romance novelist.

A copy of this book was given to me for a review.

Here are my thoughts on the book:

This book is a young adult romance written from the male point of view which was refreshing and very personal. It’s a story of young and troubled love – real, vulnerable and very beautiful.

I’m amazed at Tista’s ability to get the reader inside the character’s head and heart to the point where you feel so deeply for someone who is flawed, confused and broken. Many romances seem to come from the perspective of the writer, no matter how much they make us feel. In this book, you really become the character. You become confused, na├»ve, desperate, passionate. She allows her characters to falter and fall even to the point of total destruction. Then suddenly they rise above, strong and new. You think they’ve messed up for good and that there is no hope yet you cannot help but continue to read.

I loved the way she steeped the book in their weaknesses – like you knew Edward was too possessive at one stage, yet you understood why he was like that and then he changes. I love the way he changes and grows throughout the story. Each character has a transformation, subtle yet real.

Tista has a unique writing style that feels just like the characters she writes about.

The only part I struggled with was the song at the end. Personally, I think the book would have been complete without it. I understand why it was written, and there was some beauty in it, but at times, it was hard to read.

This is a story with a difference – with a brutal honesty and tender love that reaches the depths of your soul.
All in all, an excellent young adult romance.

You can purchase the Kindle version of  "Only for You" here: Amazon and the paperback version here: Amazon.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Guest Author Interview Tara Andrews

Today, I have fellow Decadent Publishing author, Tara Andrews, talking about her debut novel, Long Overdue. Her book is a 1Night Stand story. They are fascinating love stories unique to Decadent Publishing.

In addition to her obsessive need to write, Tara Andrews spends her day managing the business office for a community hospital. She lives in upstate New York with her wonderful, supportive husband and two children – who make everything worthwhile. If all that doesn’t keep her busy enough, she’s also a part time student. Tara’s a procrastinator (advanced-level) who likes to spend every spare moment reading – even those moments that shouldn’t be spared.

Tara, reading is so hard to break away from. I understand. You sound like an extremely busy person who needs that breakaway time.

What a stunning cover!
Long Overdue

Jill Malone has been looking for love for all the wrong reasons. A reality check has her signing up for a no-strings attached night to simply forget about forever after. The last thing she expected was to know her blind date.

Blake Anders doesn’t need help finding a date, but he’s tempted by 1Night Stand’s reputation of arranging exactly what a person needs. And he needs more. Though doubtful, he agrees to one night and hopes to discover his perfect match. He didn’t count on Madame Eve reaching deep into his past to give him a night with the woman he never forgot.

Fearing another broken heart, Jill works to keep herself from becoming attached, but Blake goes all in to convince her that he wants their long-overdue love to be more than a one-night stand…

“I think there’s been some sort of mistake,” she managed.
“But, we’re here. And I don’t think it’s a mistake.”
Of course, he’d be polite, while wondering what happened to the size zero, with extra-large breasts, he ordered. “I don’t know.” She shook her head and swore disappointment flashed across his face. “I’ll be honest; I am not comfortable.”
“And let me be honest. I’m looking forward to an evening with you.” Ooooh, smooth. Then again, she didn’t expect less, given his tabloid reputation. Still, her legs felt a little less stable.
She faced him. What really went on in his head? “You don’t find it strange that you know me?”
His killer smile set off butterflies in her belly and a warning bell in her mind. “No. In fact, it makes sense.”
“Why is that?”
“Because I used to wonder about you. A lot.”
Jill forgot to breathe. Forgot almost everything. Did he say…?
“Didn’t you ever wonder about me?”
Jill exhaled. “I’m taking the Fifth.” His smile grew. She shook her head, recognizing dangerous territory. “I’m still not sure.” Not sure she’d measured up. Not sure she’d survive with her heart intact.
“Stay for a drink.”
She wavered at his low-voiced offer. Dammit, he’d become even more handsome than she remembered.

You can buy her book here: Decadent Publishing and Amazon

Author Interview

What is the best thing for you about being a writer?

Long before I attempted writing anything, I was a perpetual daydreamer.  I’d think up these wild stories – you know, everything from saving the world to meeting my favorite celebrities.  So, in a way, I’ve always been a storyteller in one way or another.  Being a writer is a dream-come-true for me because I found a way to put life into my stories.

What is the hardest thing for you about being a writer?

For me, the hardest thing about being a writer is – believe it or not – being a writer.  LOL.  I’m only half-kidding.  For starters, I find I’m always trying to stay focused on finishing one story, while another’s left to simmer.  And unfortunately I also have a full time job that keeps me from writing to my heart’s content.  So I find it hard when I have to stop writing when I’m on a roll.

What genre/s do you write and what genre is your latest release?

My debut that was just released, Long Overdue, is a contemporary short story.  But I also enjoy writing paranormal as well.

What essential things have you learned about writing in the last year?

The editing process of Long Overdue was a real eye-opener.  All writers have heard the terms “passive phrasing” and “show, don’t tell”, but this experience really pushed me to do better and I learned a tremendous amount in the process.  And, truthfully, I had an awesome editor that I owe that to.

Who is your favourite heroine from your books and why?

Well, since I only have one published book so far, I will have to say Jill Malone!  What I like about Jill is that she’s down to earth, someone I can picture having a drink with after work.  She doesn’t let her fears stop her either.  From meeting her friend in the city at the beginning, to following through on her date, she keeps moving forward.

What type of hero do you like? Super alpha, wounded or somewhere in between? Or even something totally different? You could give an example from a movie or well-known book.

Oh, man, a tough one!  I can say, I do like heroes who are self-assured.  Does that make them an alpha… maybe.  Right now, a bunch of Regency Lords are popping into my mind, and Iron Man.  J

Tell us about your journey in writing this book.

When I started writing Long Overdue I was also taking classes online to pursue a degree.  So it was slow going!!  I thought I’d never finish.  When I finally did I sent it off to be read by an author friend, who was kind enough to send me feedback – that I didn’t open for weeks because I was too nervous to read her comments.  But as always, the anticipation is worse than the reality. 

When I finally sent it in to Decadent Publishing, I felt like that was an achievement regardless if it got accepted or not.  Though, I’m so glad they did accept it!  And ever since, each step of the way so far, I’ve learned something new, the journey is still in progress.

Tell us three quirky or interesting things about yourself.

I like to say I was born in California, raised in Virginia, and grew up in New York.  My Dad was in the Navy and we travelled around quite a bit.
While living in Virginia, between my parents’ New York accent and, well, everyone else, I’ve heard every pronunciation of my name; Ta-ra (the way I say it now), Tah-ra, or Tee-ra, and occasionally something that sounded like Terror.  Seriously, there was a time I hated to even say my own name.
I like a wide range of music.  My husband laughs because Metallica will be on one second, and then the next shuffled song is Let It Go from Frozen. Country, classical, Motown, 80s Pop – I have a little bit of everything. LOL.

What rituals do you use to help you focus or get the words down on the page e.g. music or a snack?

I actually use an egg timer to help me get focused.  I tend to procrastinate – I’ve practically made it an art form.  To get myself started, I set the timer to twenty minutes and write.  When it goes off I take a five minute break and then set it for another twenty.  By this time, I don’t really need to set it for a third time because I’m back on track.

What book would you like to work on next?

I’m working on another 1Night Stand right now and so far it’s a lot of fun to write!

Thank you, Tara.

You can find Tara here: Website, Facebook, Twitter.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Searching for Diamonds, Finding Love

The Astraea Press authors were given the challenge to write a short story between 3K to 5K words that incorporates love and diamonds. Using their varied talents and creativity, fifteen Astraea Press authors were up for the task. These stories have formed the Valentine's Day Anthology.

The authors of the anthology have organised a blog hop called a scavenger hunt and there are prizes to win. Book bundles to be exact - see the bottom of this blog post for a comprehensive list of the book bundles offered as prizes. There may be additional surprises along the way too.

You have to guess the key word in my blog post and then you must type in that key word on the Facebook page and you could win ebooks galore. The key word is basically what my blog post is about. Here's the link to enter your winning keyword: Put in your answer here

Follow the blog hop to find more opportunities to enter. Click here for a link to the other blogs you can visit in the Scavenger Hunt blog hop. The more entries - the more chance of winning.

It's close to Valentine's Day or you could even be reading the blog on Valentine's Day. All over the world people celebrate those they love on this day. Cards, flowers, gifts, and messages are sent to billions of people. Often people send a favourite song or dedicate it to the one they love.

Music is a powerful force, as powerful, in my opinion, as a story. A story touches our hearts, entertains us or even makes us scared. Music can do the same thing. It can take you into another world - a dream world and an escape from the harsh realities of life. There's nothing like playing your favourite songs when you're feeling tired, down, or even happy - something to sing or dance to.

Some couples have a couples' song. It's the song that represents their relationship. The song I share with my husband and which he often tells me is playing on the radio is the Shania Twain song "You're the One." It speaks so much about our relationship, especially in the beginning, and of how we feel now. There's nothing more romantic than sending your loved one a song that echoes what you feel about them. Another one that my hubby sent to me recently is "All of Me" by John Legend. What an awesome romantic message!  Here are some of the words for you in case you haven't taken note of them:

'Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I'll give my all to you
You're my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I'm winning
'Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you

I'm also giving away a $5 Amazon card to a lucky commenter on this blog. It's certainly the time for happiness and love!

You can purchase the anthology here: Astraea Press, Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble

Book Bundle lists if you're interested to see:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Anthology Release Day - Love and Diamonds

The Astraea Press Anthology, Love and Diamonds, has come out today and my story, The Engagement Ring, is inside. I'm buzzing with so much excitement. Maybe because my story is next to other stories by awesome, talented authors. My little story!

There are 15 stories altogether and they are varied and seem to have such different yet compelling hooks. I can't wait to get this book onto my Kindle / PC pronto to read the others.

Here are a few clues to what's inside. I can't cover them all but here are a few teasers to get you salivating:

1. There's a story about a poker game. Ooh, I love watching the mounting tension in a poker game. It's even more tense when feelings are simmering beneath the surface between players.

2. There's a story set in Africa. Being an African chick, I love reading books set in my home continent. It's about diamonds. All the stories are about diamonds. And love of course. But I think you may have figured that out already by the title.

3. There's a story about a writer being distracted by a guy who could end up being her story. Sounds fascinating.

4. I love the title of this one: Operation Rhombus. It's about a Math project and love.

5. Another is about an ex coming back, while engaged to someone else! to charm the heroine.

6. There's another one about a flood, another about school coaches finding romance and another about ....

They're all wonderful but I don't want to give it all away before you read it. Hope you do.

The little story I wrote has a special place in my heart. It's about a woman who gave her boyfriend back the ring after he proposed because she wasn't sure. This was inspired by my own story. I, blush, blush, did the same thing! He broke it up with her though. My boyfriend and now husband didn't. I decided to explore what would happen if Kevin hadn't stuck it out with me when I handed him the ring back. That exploration brought about "The Engagement Ring."

Here are links to buy the book: Astraea PressAmazon

Monday, February 3, 2014

Author Interview and New Release with Joanne Troppello

Joanne is a fellow Astraea Press author and has a new release out called Mr. Shipley's Governess. This book has been published by Mustard Seed Marketing.


Sophie Baird is looking for a way to escape the painful reality of her parents' deaths. Unable to live in their home any longer, she takes a job as a live-in tutor to Anastasia Shipley to remove herself from her painful memories and the feeling that God has abandoned her. Anastasia has an illness that has prevented her from ever attending school and makes her father, Sebastian, over protective. When Sophie first meets Sebastian, she cannot deny the intense attraction she feels toward him. When an unexpected romance begins between them, she starts to rebuild her relationship with God, with the help of a certain little girl.

Joanne has answered some of my questions so here's the interview:

What is the best thing for you about being a writer?
To see my book published and out there for readers to enjoy. The best thing is when I’ve heard from a reader who truly enjoyed my book and was touched by the story.

What is the hardest thing for you about being a writer?
The hardest thing is letting go of my book once it’s completed and has gone through the editing process. I hope that it’s the best that I can do and am always thinking maybe I could’ve written it even better. Maybe I’m too much of a perfectionist and don’t know when to let go.

What genre/s do you write and what genre is your latest release?
I have three books published. One is a fictional biography, based on events that occurred during my childhood. The second one is a romantic suspense novel and my new release is an inspirational romance novel.

What essential things have you learned about writing in the last year?
That even if I’ve stopped writing for a while due to busyness at work or life pressures, once I come back to writing, I feel at home. It’s what I want to do and need to do.
Who is your favourite heroine from your books and why?
That would be Gwen from Bella Lucia. She is dealing with infertility issues and learning to trust God through her pain. She fought through with determination and found hope in her future. This was a very personal story for me to write.

Tell us three quirky or interesting things about yourself.
1) I tend to over-analyze many things.
2) My sister and I used to do puppet shows for the kid’s ministry at our church and many of our “performances” were impromptu. We liked to think of ourselves as the “wing it” girls.
3) I’m very persistent, like a dog with a bone, and have been known to stay up through the night into the early hours of the morning to write and work on edits. One time when I was on a deadline, I worked on edits from Sunday night straight through to Monday morning at 7 am. Then I went to bed and crashed and was confused about what day it was for the rest of the week. 

What rituals do you use to help you focus or get the words down on the page e.g. music or a snack?
Music inspires me when I’m writing. I like to listen to instrumental music on Pandora from Jim Brickman or Kenny G…anything inspirational like that.

What book would you like to work on next?

I’m working on a romantic suspense novel next but I’ve always wanted to try my hand at writing historical romance and also fantasy. Hopefully one of these days, I’ll take up those challenges.

You can buy Mr. Shipley's Governess here: Amazon

You can find Joanne here:  Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads

Here's an excerpt from the book:

Sebastian’s head bobbed forward as he started nodding off to sleep in the corner of the drawing room. A noise in the hall startled him. Squinting and rubbing his eyes, he heard Sophie enter the room and slide open the drapes on the French doors. She kept the lights off and as he became more alert, he understood why. The glow of the moonlight shone into the room. It was a breathtaking site, even for him. Remaining hidden, he wanted to determine what restlessness brought her downstairs at midnight. She shut the door to the room and then sat at the piano. Her fingers moved skillfully over the keys. Her melancholy song filled the room and it seemed to match the mood of the pale moonlight and surreal feel of the room. Sebastian felt guilty for intruding on Sophie’s intense performance, yet her private agony intrigued him.

His heart constricted for a moment with memories of his wife, Katherine, and the sweet melodies she used to play. She had hardly ever played any melancholy songs. Sebastian listened to Sophie and the sad strains of music engulfed the room. He sensed her pain, as if she put her whole broken heart into the song. Leaning his head back, he closed his eyes and relaxed his body. As Sophie continued playing he started to drift off to sleep again. His arm slid down the side of the divan, knocking a book off the table to the right. The noise brought him out of his light sleep and obviously startled Sophie. She stopped playing.

“Who’s there?”

He stood up. “Don’t worry. It’s me, Sebastian.”

“Mr. Shipley?”

Sebastian heard the mixture of anxiety and surprise in her voice. He figured she feared his reaction to her intrusion on Katherine’s piano. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“How long were you in here?”

“Since before you came in.”
“Why didn’t you make yourself known?”

Sebastian hesitated answering. She made a good point. It was rude of him not to make his presence known to her. For selfish reasons, he’d remained quiet. “I don’t know. I guess I wanted to stay and hear you play.”

“I know we’ve already talked about this, but are you sure you’re not angry with me for playing the piano?”

“No. I’ve missed hearing the music.” He made his way across the room toward the piano. “Though, if I can be honest, your songs are very melancholic. Do you ever play happy songs?”

She tilted her head back. “I do. I’ve been teaching Anastasia happier songs. I…”

Sebastian touched her arm and grinned. “Lighten up, Sophie. I’m teasing.”

“Understood.” She quickly moved her arm away. He wished she wasn’t so skittish around him. “Maybe we should go to bed now.” As soon as the words escaped, Sophie’s eyes opened wide and her hand covered her mouth. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean, you know, I meant separately. Okay, insert foot in mouth.” Obviously embarrassed, she started walking away.

“Actually sounds like a good idea.” Trying to keep a straight face, he watched her spin around with a stunned expression. He held her gaze a moment longer than necessary than burst into laughter. “I’m kidding and only trying to make you feel better.”

“Oh. I honestly didn’t mean anything by that comment.”

“It’s fine.”

She bid him good night and hurried out of the room. Sebastian watched her flee in a flurry of silken robe and nightgown and couldn’t keep himself from smiling. His mind flitted back to Sophie’s reaction to his touch. The split second contact even affected him. With a sigh, he turned back to the piano and ran his hands gently over the keys, glad to see the beautiful instrument in use again. Standing there for a few moments, he finally decided he should make his way upstairs to his room for some much needed sleep—although, after their midnight encounter, he didn’t think he’d fall asleep anytime soon.