Saturday, August 31, 2013

0 Doctor Who Rewatch Season 1, episodes 4 and 5

We're re-watching Doctor Who this fall to prepare for the big anniversary special. I know that Doctor Who has been around for 50 years, but for time sake we're going to start with series 1 of 2005. If you've not watched it, but have wanted to. Here's your chance. We're watching via Netflix, so join us if you can. This week we're watching episodes 4 and 5.

Season 1, episode 4, Part 1
Title: Aliens of London
Original Air Date: April 16, 2005
Directed by: Keith Boak
Written by: Russell T. Davies

Summary: The Doctor and Rose return to London in what they think is only twelve hours after they left, but it turns out to be twelve months instead. Jackie freaks out when Rose walks through the door. Her mom has no idea of where she's been. Mickey's been questioned numerous times about her disappearance. In the middle of all the freak out, aliens land in London. They do the cliche hit Big Ben bit and land in the Thames.
So the Doctor goes to investigate. Rose is afraid he's just going to take off without saying goodbye. While investigating the Doctor and Rose meet Harriet Jones mp for Flydale North. Mrs. Jones is delightful! I love her character. She's driven and not about to let aliens take over London. While all this is going down someone spray paints 'Bad Wolf' on the side of the Tardis. Once again this phrase makes an appearance. Another thing that makes an appearance is flagellant aliens. They have infiltrated the English government by taking over the bodies of high officials.  In appearance they don't look that threatening.  but they are. They actually look a lot like giant baby-faced caterpillars. Anyway they're out to destroy the Earth and sell it for spare parts to the highest bidders. So these aliens are chasing Harriet and Rose all over the place. They get locked in the situation room and prepare for the worst. In the meantime Rose's mom is having another freak out. She wants the Doctor to promise he can keep her safe. What the Doctor does is dangerous and if past events can be of any indication, he can't promise anything. You can tell he cares a lot about Rose though. 

Life lesson: Don't trust baby-faced aliens.

Title: World War Three
Season 1, Episode 5, Part 2
Original Air Date: April 23, 2005

Directed by: Keith Boak
Written by: Russell T. Davies

Summary: This is the second part to "Aliens of London." Basically the Doctor, Rose, and Harriet Jones are in a standoff with the aliens, which we learn are the Slitheen. There are more of them than thought and they're gathering for the final phase of their plan. One of the Slitheen is going after Rose's mom. We learn that they can be defeated with vinegar. However that doesn't help the trio that's trapped in the situation room. The Slitheen get access to the UN's codes to activate nuclear missiles. They plan to use the weapons against other nations to cause World War III, but wait just a second, Mickey comes to the rescue. He reroutes the missiles to save the day. Give that guy his man card back! However the missiles are headed straight toward Rose. Jackie is devastated and so is the Doctor. However Rose and Harriett are bold and brave and want to do what they can to save humanity. After it is all said and done, the Doctor and Rose are safe. The Doctor offers Mickey a chance to travel with him and Rose. Mickey declines stating reasons that he doesn't think he could handle it. Which is probably for the best. Rose shows up with a backpack and asks Mickey to come along too. The Doctor covers up for Mickey by stating he doesn't want Mickey to come with them. Bittersweet episode, but there are a lot of great lines in this episode mostly spoken by the Slitheen. My favorite is: "Victory should be naked." 

Life lesson: Even the most unlikely character can surprise you. Don't count anybody out.

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Friday, August 30, 2013

1 Audio Book Review: Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander

Title: Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander
Author: Phil Robertson
Read by: Al Robertson with an intro by Phil Robertson
Published by: Simon and Schuster Audio
Published: May 7, 2013
Length: 5 hours
ISBN: 978-1-4423-6610-7
Genre: Memoir
Source: Publisher

Goodreads Summary:
An NFL-bound quarterback, Phil made his mark on Louisiana Tech University in the 1960s by playing football and completing his college career with a master’s degree in English. But Phil’s eyes were not always on the books or the ball; they were usually looking to the sky.

Phil grew up with the dream of living the simple life off the land like his forebears, but he soon found himself on a path to self-destruction—leasing a bar, drinking too much, fighting, and wasting his talents. He almost lost it all until he gave his life to God. And then everything changed.

Phil’s incredible story tells how he followed a calling from God and soon after invented a duck call that would begin an incredible journey to the life he had always dreamed of for himself and his family. With great love for his country, his family, and his maker, Phil has finally found the ingredients to the “good life” he always wanted.

My thoughts on the audio:
The story is narrated by Phil’s oldest son Al (who is back in the family business and makes his debut on Duck Dynasty this season). It is great that he does it because he sounds like a younger Phil. It is really like Phil is telling his own story. Since Al lived most of this, I think it means something to him. Would Al be a reader I would listen to on other audio books? I don’t know, but for this one I think there was no other choice.

My thoughts on the story:
I have become a pretty big fan of Duck Dynasty, so when the chance to learn more about the family patriarch came along, I jumped at the chance.  The book was well written in an easy to read story-telling fashion. This is the story of Phil Robertson, founder of Duck Commander, husband, father, and outdoorsman. It was funny, sad and heart-warming. There are really no punches pulled in Phil’s story. He tells of his many mistakes, life before he found his faith, the time Ms. Kaye and the kids left him. It’s all there. He tells these stories of his life to help those that may be going down the same road. He wants to bring them back to a good path. We can’t all invent a better duck call and go on to huge success but we can all live by the values Phil preaches, “Faith, family and ducks . . . in that order.”

My rating:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

0 Review: A Journey Through Tudor England

Title: A Journey Through Tudor England
Author: Suzannah Lipscomb
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Published: June 15, 2013
Paperback ARC, 326 pages
ISBN: 978-1-60598-460-5
Genre: Nonfiction
Source: Publisher

Goodreads Summary:
For the armchair traveler or for those looking to take a trip back to the colorful time of Henry VIII and Thomas Moore, A Journey Through Tudor England takes you to the palaces, castles, theatres and abbeys to uncover the stories behind this famed era. Suzannah Lipscomb visits over fifty Tudor places, from the famous palace at Hampton Court, where dangerous court intrigue was rife, to less well-known houses such as Anne Boleyn's childhood home at Hever Castle, or Tutbury Castle, where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned.In the corridors of power and the courtyards of country houses, we meet the passionate but tragic Katheryn Parr, Henry VIII's last wife; Lady Jane Grey, the nine-day queen; and come to understand how Sir Walter Raleigh planned his trip to the New World. Through the places that defined them, this lively and engaging book reveals the rich history of the Tudors and paints a vivid and captivating picture of what it would have been like to live in Tudor England.

My thoughts:
As a huge fan of history, and in particular the Tudor dynasty. This book was a perfect fit for me. A Journey Through Tudor England takes you on a tour through historical sites and their stories. This book is broken up into sections based on their geographical location. Some buildings are still standing, while others are in ruin. I enjoyed reading this book cover to cover. Many of the stories surrounding the Tudor's I'm familiar with while others are new. The Tudors were anything but boring. If I have a complaint about this book, it's that I'm not able to be in England to experience this journey first hand. This would be the perfect book to take on tour with you. However if you're not traveling abroad anytime soon, there is always the wonder of the internet. It's not the same as seeing portraits and locations in person, but it's the second best thing. I would have loved, though, if this book did include some of the paintings or architectural drawings as a visual guide. Apart from the interesting stories and facts, Lipscomb also includes a 'further reading' section and an 'opening times and how to get there' section in the back of the book. I love this simply because everything you need to know is right at your fingertips. If you're a fan of history and would love to learn more about the Tudors and their crazy lives. This is definitely a book to read. The chapters are small and to the point and a very easy read. 
My rating:

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

0 Review: Torn by Logan Belle

Title: Torn (Miss Chatterley #3)
Author: Logan Belle
Publisher: Pocket Star
Published: May 27, 2013
Ebook, Arc
ISBN13: 9781476731308
Genre: Contempoaray Fiction
Source: Edielweiss

Goodreads Summary:
Torn between love and sex. By the time Connie decides, it could be too late.

Surprised by Cliff’s sudden attention, Connie is caught between the life she always wanted and the passion she never knew she needed. Luckily, Connie’s wild, older sister Hillary comes to town to talk some sense into her—don’t throw away your future for a passing fling. But can Connie forgo the ecstasy of Mellors’s touch for a future with Cliff? Will Cliff be too distracted with the IPO to realize what’s at stake? 

My thoughts:
As Torn is the third installment to Logan Belle's twist on Lady Chatterley's Lover it might contain some spoilers if you've not read the first two books in this series.
This book picks up exactly where the previous book left off. Cliff has just proposed and Connie turns him down. Connie is wracked with guild over her affair with Mellors. Her sister moves in, and with a plan, she tries to keep Connie from making a huge mistake by leaving Cliff. However Connie has other forces moving against her. 
The third installment really heats up as Connie must figure out what she must do. She knows what she's doing with Mellors is wrong, but she can't help herself. The more she tries to stay away, the more she is drawn to him. She also loves Cliff. He's been a great boyfriend until his company started to take off. He loves Connie, but he too is torn between work and love. Torn is a great title for this book. It inhabits exactly what's going on emotionally with a lot of the characters. It shows how easy it is to get lost in what is right and what feels right. 
This is a great series thus far. I can't wait to see how it ends! 
My rating:

Other books in this series:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

0 New Harry Potter Covers . . . What do you think?

0 Shawna Romkey's Advice For Writers

One thing I’m asked now that I have my first book coming out is for advice for writers. Even before my book came out, writers asked me for advice because I also run which is a Kobo eBook promotion site. I’m no expert and am new in this whole published author thing, but here are some things I’d suggest.

1. Write. I’ve talked with several people who want to get published, and remember being like this myself in the past, and theysimply don’t write. Writing improves with practice, so like everything if you want to get good at it, you have to write. No excuses. No fear. Just write, and even if it’s no good, it’s practice. Make the time and do it.

2. Find other writers. I’ve mentioned my writers group on my blog before and believe they were instrumental in my getting published. We talked writing problems and successes. We brainstorm. We encourage and support each other. We have writers retreats. We talk about the industry. Writing is a solo process, but having a group who understands thetrials and tribulations, having people who can share your buy links and add you to their TBR list on Goodreads and give early reviews of your books is critical to success in the industry.

3. Read and study writing craft. But not too much. I remember when I was pregnant, people told me to read some of the books on it and listen to some of the advice people give you, but not a lot because it will scare you to death. If you get too much into craft, you’ll second-guess every word you write. Is it showing or telling? Is it goal, motivation and conflict? Did I start my book in the right place, etc.… But it is good to learn about writing, especially if you have areas you’re weak in, just don’t obsess about it.

4. Write about things you care about. Speak of the Devil is about a very personal experience of mine. I love the characters. If you don’t love your story, why would a stranger on the other side of the world? If they don’t make you laugh or cry, why would they affect someone else? You have to put your heart into it, and if you do, the reader will feel that.

5. Read. I’m not a huge reader because I read very slowly. I have to soak it in. And I don’t advise reading work that is too similar to what you’re writing, otherwise you may “borrow” some of it whether intentional or not. But read. See how other stories are laid out. See if they used gmc. See how they showed a scene rather than told it. Learn from the good and the bad.

6. Keep at it. There’s a graphic going around that says “a professional writer is just an amateur that didn’t give up.” Don’t give up. It just takes one yes to change you from amateur to pro. Just one! J Good luck!

About the book: What happens when falling in love and falling from grace collide?
After dying in a car accident with her two best friends, Lily miraculously awakens to grief and guilt. She escapes to her dad’s to come to terms with the event and meets some people at her new school who seem all too eager to help her heal. Sliding deeper into sorrow and trying to fight her feelings for two of them, she finds out who…what they really are and that they are falling too.

Can she find the strength to move on from the past, reconcile her feelings for Luc, find a way to stop a divine war with fallen angels, and still pass the eleventh grade?

About the author: Shawna grew up around farms in the heart of Missouri but went to the University of Kansas, was raised in the US but now lives on the ocean in Nova Scotia with her husband, two sons, two dogs and one overgrown puppy from hell. She’s a non-conformist who follows her heart.

She has her BA in creative writing from the University of Kansas where one of her plays was chosen by her creative writing professor to be produced locally, and two of her short stories were published in a university creative arts handbook. She earned her MA in English from Central Missouri State University where she wrote a novel as her thesis.

She’s taught English at the university and secondary levels for close to twenty years and can’t quite fathom how all of her students have grown up, yet she’s managed to stay the same. She’s a huge geek and fan of Xena, Buffy and all kick ass women, and loves to write stories that have strong female characters. 

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  | Pinterest  |  Goodreads |Amazon

Monday, August 26, 2013

10 Covet August Releases: Enter to win a $50 Visa GC and $25 Amazon GC

Covets have all the sexiness, emotion, and happily ever after that readers have come to expect and love from Entangled. They are firmly grounded in the contemporary world, but each novel brings in supernatural twists, breaking the contemporary and paranormal rules, alike. To find out more about their titles, chat with authors, participate in special events, and to find out what books you’ll be coveting next, visit the Entangled website, follow them on Twitter, and LIKE their Facebook page.

Today I'm happy to be featuring Covet's August releases!!

The Awakening: Liam by Abby Niles
The Awakening #2

Shifter, Liam Doyle knows Hell. At least he believed he did. The night he feels his mate die, he learns how very wrong he was. Nothing he’d struggled with since Ava’s rejection compares to the emptiness that fills his soul by her death. Lost in his grief, he’s taken by surprise and drugged. When he wakes, everything changes. Nothing is what it seems, and someone is dead set on making him pay.

When Ava Michaels is taken captive, she’s thrust into a dark and terrifying world along with the man she was forced to leave behind. While being near Liam again is heartbreaking, the motive behind her kidnapping is gradually revealed. The more she learns, the more she worries Liam isn’t the man she believed him to be. He has enemies willing to do anything to extract their revenge. Can their love survive a crazy man’s vengeance?

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Kobo * Itunes * Goodreads

The Demon's Desire by Kendra Leigh Castle
Hearts of the Fallen #2

He’s as dark and dangerous as the storms he once commanded…and she can’t get him out of her heart.

Dru has spent two thousand years fighting to keep the people of Terra Noctem safe. In all that time, she's only opened her heart to one man, with disastrous results. But when her city takes in a group of renegade Fallen, she finds herself drawn to the brooding and tormented Meresin, despite the fact that he seems to be the least redeemable of them all. When his instability hits a breaking point, Meresin’s only chance at survival is a perilous journey into a place from which few ever return. What he never expected was that confronting his demons would mean risking not only his future, but Dru's as well...and that one stubborn vampire might give him back not just hope…but his heart.

About Abby:

Ever since Abby Niles picked up her first Sweet Valley High book in sixth grade and fell in love with Elizabeth and Todd, she’s been hooked on romance. By the time she reached high school, she was devouring meatier romances with pirates, cowboys and knights. She never imagined that those years of reading would one day lead to her becoming a published author.

In her late twenties, after having twins and becoming a stay-at-home mom, she started doodling stories to keep her sanity. Next thing she knew, she was actually submitting to publishing houses. And was immediately rejected. That didn’t stop her though. She found herself some kickass critique partners, honed her craft, and continued submitting.

And eventually sold a short story, then a novella, then a novel, and now a series.

Today, she juggles work, home life, and writing. It’s not always easy, but hey, who said life was easy?

In her downtime, which isn’t often, you can find her playing ‘Just Dance’ with her kids or trying to catch up on her never-ending to-be-read list. She also loves Zumba, and refuses to admit she looks more like Animal doing his Muppet flail than a sensual Latin dancer.

Find Abby online:

About Kendra:

Kendra Leigh Castle was born and raised in the far and frozen reaches of Northern New York, where there was plenty of time to cultivate her love of reading thanks to the six-month-long winters. Sneaking off with selections from her mother’s vast collection of romance novels came naturally and fairly early, and a lifelong love of the Happily Ever After was born. After graduating from SUNY Oswego (where it also snowed a lot) with a teaching degree, Kendra ran off with a handsome young Navy fighter pilot and has somehow accumulated three children, three dogs, and one enormous cat during their many moves.

While stationed in a remote corner of the Nevada desert, Kendra penned her first romance, and a career often spent working in fuzzy slippers and pajamas was born. Her work has garnered both critical praise and award nominations, but the best part has been connecting with readers who share her love of dark romance (not to mention heroes with sharp, pointed teeth). Kendra currently lives in Maryland, and can usually be found curled up with her laptop and yet another cup of coffee working on her next book. She loves to hear from her readers, and can be contacted via email or her Facebook page.

Find Kendra online:

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

2 Doctor Who Rewatch, Season 1, Episodes 2 and 3

We're re-watching Doctor Who this fall to prepare for the big anniversary special. I know that Doctor Who has been around for 50 years, but for time sake we're going to start with series 1 of 2005. If you've not watched it, but have wanted to. Here's your chance. We're watching via Netflix, so join us if you can. This is week we're discussing Season 1, episodes 2 and 3.

Season 1, episode 2 
Title: The End of the World
Original Air Date: April 2, 2005
Directed by: Euros Lyn
Written by: Russel T. Davies

Episode Summary: The Doctor takes Rose to view the end of Earth.  Literally. The planet is going to be destroyed. It's not as catastrophic as it sound, though. It's way, way, way into the future. The date is 5.5/apple/26. Yeah, I don't know what that means either. Earth has been emptied and it has been for some time. Somewhere between now and way into the future, Earthlings have found a way to live elsewhere. To boldly go where no man has gone before. So it's not as bad as it sounds, and Rose has a front row seat. However I loved the music choices they played for this: "Toxic" by Brittney Spears and "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell   And of course nothing is ever quid pro quo with the Doctor, so trouble ensues and he has to save the day. 
There are a lot of aliens who have gathered to watch the implosion. Here are some of the more notable ones:
This is the steward of platform one, the satellite where the group of aliens are waiting to watch the end of the Earth. I think this is what smurfs evolve into in the future.

"Moisturize me." The Lady Cassandra. She's the last 'pure' Earthling. And a cautionary tale if I ever saw one. Ladies and gents take note of what happens when you get way too much plastic surgery. 

This is Jabe. A tree-like alien. In the beginning she exchanges gifts with the Doctor. She gives him a sapling of her ancestors and he gives her the breath of his lungs. And she's like, 'how intimate' and they proceed to flirt with each other. Jabe then asks the Doctor is Rose is his concubine or prostitute. Which I guess is not only common but also insulting. 

The Face of Boe. We don't really know who this is, only that he's important. He's also accompanied by more Smurfs.

This is a really good episode. We get to see the Doctor's dark side a little bit. Also it brings up themes such as death, regret, and endings. 

Season 1, Episode 3
Title: The Unquiet Dead
Original Air Date: April 9, 2005
Directed by Euors Lyn
Written by: Mark Gratiss

Episode Summary: After the last trip, the Doctor decides to take Rose back to the past to 1860, but instead they turn up in 1869. Where they happen upon Charles Freaking Dickens. Charles is giving a performance of A Christmas Carol when he notices a weird occurrence in the audience. Of course, the Doctor and Rose show up at that exact moment. Instead of being scared, they're exhilarated by it. Rose follows two suspicious character who we know as the undertaker and his
maid. "The stiffs are getting restless again" is never something you want to hear when dealing with corpses. Rose is abducted by the undertaker and Charles and the Doctor give chase. To make a long story short, the doctor, Rose, Dickens, the undertaker, and his maid hold a seance in which they find that aliens, the Gelth, are trying to break free. The maid, Gwyneth, is clairvoyant. She calls them her angels, but we learn they are anything  but angels. We learn some great life lessons in this episode, such as don't trust ghost-like creatures. EVER. And Charles
Dickens is a bit of a coward who loves flattery, but it would still be cool to meet him. And most importantly, there are a lot of people walking around on Christmas in 1860's. Also and most importantly, I think, is the phrase "Bad Wolf". The maid uses it when she 'reads' Rose. It's very mysterious, don't you think? 

Friday, August 23, 2013

0 Audio Book Review: Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen

Title: Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen (The Man Who Loved Jane Austen, #2)
Author: Sally Smith O'Rourke
Narrated By Kendra Hoffman
Publisher: Victorian Essence Press
Published: September 22, 2012
Kindle Edition, 261 pages
Audio Length: 8h 54min

Source: Ebook- Bought; Audio-Author

Goodreads Summary:
Was Mr. Darcy real? Is time travel really possible? For pragmatic Manhattan artist Eliza Knight the answer to both questions is absolutely, Yes! And Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley Farms, Virginia is the reason why!

His tale of love and romance in Regency England leaves Eliza in no doubt that Fitz Darcy is the embodiment of Jane Austen’s legendary hero. And she’s falling in love with him. But can the man who loved the inimitable Jane Austen ever love average, ordinary Eliza Knight?

Eliza’s doubts grow, perhaps out of proportion, when things start to happen in the quiet hamlet of Chawton, England; events that could change everything. Will the beloved author become the wedge that divides Fitz and Eliza or the tie that binds them?

My thoughts on the audio:
Please forgive me, Kendra Hoffman, but I did not like your accents. I'm not a fan of accents unless they can be done really well. In this book Hoffman did a New Yorker accent, a southern accent, and an English accent. I completely understand and appreciate that Hoffman tried to give the characters their own 'voice' by differentiating between their geographical regions. It just fell short to me. At times the voices were irritating. I did like it when Hoffman read in her own voice. I think she has a very pleasant and easy to listen to voice, but the accents need work. 

My thoughts on the book:
When I first started to read this book, I had no idea it was a sequel. I guess the allure of a time-travel book involving Jane Austen was enough for me. It was halfway through the first chapter when I realized my mistake. I was a little confused as to what was going on. So if you haven't read the first book, I suggest that you do before you start this one. I continued reading and after the first few chapters I begin to understand the story better. 
The famous Fitzwilliam Darcy is real! Though he doesn't live in England. He lives in the United States. But if he's real then how is it that Jane Austen could write a story about him? That's where the story begins. You see there is this portal that can transport Fitz into Jane Austen's time. And that's exactly how the two met. Jane falls in love with Fitz but knows it will never work out. Fitz goes back to his own time and meets Eliza. Eliza is a New Yorker who recently purchased Jane Austen's vanity and found letters in it addressed to Fitz. This find leads to the two meeting and sparks fly between the two. Eliza finds out that she has some competition  But how do you compete against Jane Austen?  To make matters more complicated, Jane Austen's groom decides he wants to work for Mr. Darcy and goes through the portal. However in doing so, he could change history, including Jane's.
This is an enjoyable read. It's a twist on Jane Austen inspired novels that I haven't come across before. I do wish I would have read the first book, The Man Who Loved Jane Austen first because I feel like I came into the middle of the story, which I guess I did. I did like the characters both old and new. Fitz is very much like Austen's Fitzwillian and Eliza and Elizabeth are similar as well. The story line is cute and an enjoyable read. Great for the Austen lovers.
My Rating:

Thursday, August 22, 2013

0 Seeking Philbert Woodbead Giveaway

Miss Celine Fairweather’s life was bobbing along like a boat on a tranquil stream when all of a sudden a summons from her beloved sister Penelope Radclyff, the Duchess of Blackthorne, changed it all.

Celine hurtles off to the London to help the duchess run the Blackthorne Mansion and to discover the whereabouts of her lost love Philbert Woodbead. 

Sensible Celine manages to keep things deathly dull and under control for a whole week until she enlists the help of the handsome Lord Elmer—a mischievous rogue, an ex-pirate, and an incorrigible flirt who is wanted dead by all of England’s husbands with attractive wives.

They scurry from one giddy escapade to another seeking Philbert in musty inns and dusty streets, and through it all Celine tries to keep her bonnet straight, her gloves spotless and her heart in tune with her head.

Life has suddenly turned exciting, and love has well and truly bitten her rosy buttocks. Now the only question is … who has done the biting?

Anya Wylde is giving away one .mobi e-copy of Seeking Philbert Woodbead to one of my lucky readers. You must be at least 13 years old to enter. Good luck! 
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0 Q&A with Timothy Burns plus a giveaway!

Q: I see that you write science fiction. For you, what is the hardest part about writing in that particular genre? (new worlds, new concepts, futuristic ideas?)

A: For me, the hardest part of writing sci-fi is making it believable. I mean, some stories are so out there that I find it hard to believe that what they describe could ever come about no matter how much technology and understanding improve. In my works I try to extrapolate from current tech to make something that could possibly be seen in some future. Sure, there are artistic leaps I make, but for a story to be entertaining to me it has to have some plausibility.

Q: What is your favorite pastime when you're not writing?

A: I have several hobbies. I am a tinkerer, so anything laying around that isn't working right gets the once-over (and sometimes even gets fixed!). I also like wood carving and have made several small sculptures; I read a lot, both science-fiction and hard science. One of my favorite books is Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time". And, in the interest of honesty, I must also admit to spending too much time playing computer role-playing games.

Q: Is writing something you consider to be a great passion or is it just a hobby?

A: I have been an avid reader practically all my life, so I've always admired authors. And in line with my philosophy of making the world a better place for everyone, I've found that writing stories that others enjoy reading is a way of doing that which I can do reasonably well.

Q: In your opinion, what is the best way to promote your work?

A: Get it plugged by Oprah. Other than that, I'm open to suggestions.

Q:Are you an independent author or are you traditionally published?

A: I've racked up a long list of rejections from traditional publishers yet I am determined to spread my stories around, so I have embraced the role of indie.

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

A: Yes, I do. "If at first you don't succeed, suck something else." No, wait, the rest of that is "try, try again." Countless authors have been rejected by publishers both large and small, but if you have a passion for writing you will find a way. And if your first few, or few dozen, books don't sell well, keep looking forward to the day when you make it big time and all your earlier works do start selling.

Q How do you feel about your family and close friends reading your work?

A: I sometimes include certain topics which not everyone close to me agrees with, yet I encourage everyone to read my work with an open mind.

Q: How do you overcome writer's block?

A: In my heart I know that there is no problem that cannot be overcome eventually, so if I find myself stuck I try to approach the problem from a different angle, so to speak. And if all else fails, I do something totally unrelated to writing for a while and let my subconscious mull things over.

Q Do you get easily attached to your characters?

A: Yes, I certainly do. When I'm writing I think of my characters as real people whose story I am telling, not creating. I've laughed and cried with them, gotten excited for them and worried about them.

Q: Do you base your characters on people you know?

A: Not directly. I do, however, combine traits that I've observed in several different people. Although as an author I always have the option of "threatening" to include someone that annoys me as a red-shirt in my next novel.

Q: What inspired you to write your first book?

A: It was as a challenge to myself. I wanted to see how well I could combine two totally unrelated story lines into a coherent whole. If you want to see how that turned out, read my first book, "Outside of Space".

Q: At what age did you finally say to yourself, "This is it. I want to be a writer."

A: I was 24, which was about 18 years ago. I had read so many books by then, some of which I just couldn't believe actually got published, and I knew that I could produce better books than some of those. Those early manuscripts got lost along the way, yet they were invaluable experience for when I eventually chose to write seriously.

Q: If you had to put the main protagonist of your book against Lord Voldemort, who would win? (Feel free to be super creative and have fun with this question!)

A: Jared Miller, the talented psionic lead character in "Ghosts of the Void", would have no problem making Lord V. into a little kitten. Jared's two main abilities are psychokinesis, which is moving things with his mind, and psychosuggestion, meaning he can make anyone do what he wants while thinking it was their own idea to do it. Between these talents and Jared's keen analytical problem-solving skills, Voldemort wouldn't stand a chance.

Q: How long does it typically take for you to finish writing a book?

A: Since I still have to work for a living, I would say it takes me about a year to take a book from idea to publication. I suppose I could shorten that time a bit, but I have this strange addiction to food. It seems like I can't live without it and no-one is just giving the stuff away.

Q: On the Writer's Craft, Storytelling, and the Editorial Process:
What do you think of plot twists? Are they invariably hokey, or can good writers pull them off well? Do you think too many stories use twists as a crutch? Can a story with no twists hold your interest? Do you ever try to “surprise” your readers without going all M. Night Shyamalan on them?

A: If they are done right they are quite useful in holding the reader's interest. Of course, there are all too many writers who get carried away and use every plot twist known to man in their work, but I think that when used sparingly and at the right time they are invaluable and can turn a plodding storyline into something special.

Q: What do you think is the purpose of Science Fiction? Fantasy? Horror?

A: As a science-fiction writer, I feel that this genre is the one best suited to portraying a vision of either hopefulness or warning concerning our advancement (or lack thereof) as a species. Fantasy, I feel, is more a way of connecting with our dreams, and horror, nightmares.

Q: Now that touchscreens and space vessels are becoming things of science fact, what makes Science Fiction unique?

A: There is always room for speculation concerning future technologies and how they will affect the human heart and mind. Science-fiction stories have often given us a glimpse of what life might be like at some future time, and it is this that I feel that is its most valuable aspect, that of giving us a rehearsal for what might come.

Q: What's your main goal when putting the finishing polish on a story? Maximizing entertainment value? Raising thought-provoking questions? Other?
Do you find it difficult to write in an age of infinite distractions? How do you keep your focus on a story during the writing process?

A: I write mainly to entertain the reader, while at the same time providing food for thought. I believe that these two elements are necessary in any sci-fi story, and I try to make sure that I provide both in my novels.

On Your Stories:
Q: To what degree do your stories reflect your reality?

A: In most cases, not very much. In addition to writing so I can bring enjoyment to others, I also do it as a means of escape from my own life. When I am working on a book I can immerse myself in the lives and challenges of my characters, and in this sense I do imagine how I might respond in similar circumstances.

Q: How much impact does your childhood have on your writing?

A: Quite a bit, actually. I've been an avid reader since my earliest years, and I suppose I always knew that I would eventually start writing my own stories, so all along I made mental notes on what I liked or didn't care for in the writings of others so that when I did create my own books I would be better prepared to give others the distilled essence of what I myself enjoyed.

Q: How do you research your novels?

A: Google is every researcher's friend, of course. I always fact-check any current technologies or theories I include in my work. In addition, I am always reading articles about new work in science and technology, both for inspiration and to stay informed about the state of the art.

Q: Why are the names of the characters in your novels important?

A: I like to give my characters names that reflect their culture, whether it be human or alien. At the same time, I am not fond of extremely long or complicated names, since I feel that making the reader struggle over possible pronuncuation takes away from their enjoyment.

Q: Why are the titles of your novels important?

A: Although we are repeatedly warned not to judge a book by its cover, the fact is that this does happen. I feel that a title should give the reader some clue as to what the book is about.

Q: Who do you think of when you think of your readers? Are you telling your story to them, to yourself, or to something or someone else?

A: I tend to put myself in the place of the reader. If I think I enjoy reading a particular passage, then I can hope that others will also.

Q: How much of your own life do you put into your book?

A: It varies. If I am writing about someone whose ethics or skills line up with mine, I'll use my own instincts as a model for them. As far as including personal life events, I will only rarely project them onto my characters.

Life, Hypothetical, and Other Stuff:
Q: You believe that information should be free. Does that include fiction, why, and to what extent?

A: While I do think that information should be free, I don't hold that creative works, and the sweat and tears that went into them, should be. In an ideal world, artists would not have to struggle for food and shelter, but in our current society we have no choice but to demand compensation for our time.

Q: What is the most important lack in your life?

A: Without a doubt it is the lack of self-control. My impulsiveness has cost me my marriage as well as caused all sorts of other problems.

Q: Have you ever been in trouble with the police?

A: See the previous question.

Q: What are books for?

A: There are multiple answers to this one. Some books are pure entertainment while others encourage thought and reflection. Yet other types of books are invaluable for storing and passing on the accumulated knowledge and wisdom of others.

On Being a Writer:
Q: Do you ever wish that you had an entirely uncreative job, like data entry or working in a factory?

A: Been there, done that. No, I vastly prefer to be doing something creative, whether it be wood carving, writing or fixing some broken or non-working device in a creative manner.

Q: What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

A: Sane is boring. I think any good fiction writer has to be a little bit off of normal.

Q: While writing, do you take drugs, smoke marijuana or drink alcohol to beef up your creative imagination?

A: While I don't want to come across as condoning irresponsible drug use, I have found that toking up helps me to think creatively.

Q: How do you react to a bad review of one of your books?

A: I take it as a sign that I need to work on improving my skills as a writer. Of course, there is no pleasing everyone, so I never let a bad review get me down.

Q: Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

A: I would have to rate lack of physical exercise a pretty bad one. When I get into writing I tend to sit for long periods of time when I should be up and moving around.

Q: What is the hardest lesson you've learned about indie, small press, or self publishing?

A: That no book sells itself. In fact, the real work begins only after the book is written and published. Successful marketing of a book is not an easy task.
Q: What is your name and where do you call home?
A: I am Tim Burns, and while I am from Alabama I now live in northern Mississippi.

Q: What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or less words, what would you say?
A: "Ghosts of the Void" short summary: When the solar system passes through a cloud of dark matter all sorts of problems arise and the fate of two worlds hinges on a small group of friends.

Q: Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
A: My current WIP is unrelated to either of my two previous works, but I left "Ghosts of the Void" open for a sequal which I may write in the near future.

Q: What or who inspired you to start writing? And how long have you been writing?
A: Being an avid reader all my life has left me with a burning desire to create novels of my own which incorporate the best aspects of those classic sci-fi works. I wrote a couple of books when I was in my 20s but it took another decade and a half for me to get serious about publishing anything.

Q: Do you gift books to readers for book reviews?
A: I do if they will accept ebooks. Unfortunately, the cost of mailing paperbacks is beyond my nonexistant budget.

Q: How did you come up with the cover? Who designed the cover of your book?
A: I am very fortunate that my mother, Jean McMunn, is a professional graphic artist. While I came up with the original ideas for my covers, she took them and made them great.

Q: Which is your favourite cover of all the books you have written?
A: I would have to say the latest release of my first novel, "Outside of Space". My mother did an excellent job on its cover.

Q: Did you listen to any particular songs whilst writing your books?
A: No, I find it distracting when I am concentrating on writing. However, when it comes to editing and follow-up work, I enjoy listening to blues-inspired, guitar-driven classic rock. Led Zeppelin is my all-time favorite.

Q: Would you have different book covers for different countries?
A: No, I don't think so, unless my books were to be translated into a language other than English. In that case, yes, I would release a new cover with the title in that language.

Q: How did you come up with the title for your book?
A: Once I begin writing a book I let my subconscious mull over several possibilities until I find a title that I like.

Q: Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hardcovers or audiobooks?
A: I am still a hold-the-paperback-in-my-hand kind of person, but with the popularity of e-readers and the ability to sell ebooks much cheaper than print I feel that this format will only gain traction in the market.

Q: Are you a self-published / Indie author?
A: I most certainly am. I do not like to support big business in any form.

Q: Have you ever read a book more than once? And if so what was it?
A: I must have read Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land" at least a dozen times. He was a pure genius.

Q: What is your opinion of novellas?
A: I prefer a more in-depth story than that which can be told in the shorter formats.

Q: What is your favourite book genre at the moment?
A: I have always loved science-fiction over any other genre and I don't expect that to ever change.

Q: Do you have any hobbies that aren’t related to reading & writing?
A: I like working with my hands, whether it be making small wood carvings or fixing something that is broken. I also spend too much time playing computer role-playing games, I have to admit.

Q: What else have you written?
A: My premier novel was "Outside of Space", which is a hybrid sci-fi/fantasy. By this I mean that the story begins with a science-fiction, space-based story that intermingles with what seems like a pure fantasy storyline. Eventually it becomes clear how these are related, but I don't want to give any spoilers here.
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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

0 Anyone But You Cover Reveal and Giveaway

Authors Kim Askew and Amy Helmes are excited to offer a sneak peak at the third book in their “Twisted Lit” series of Shakespeare-inspired YA novels. This time around, they’ve put their unique spin on Romeo & Juliet. Published by Merit Press, Anyone But You will be released in January, and is currently available for pre-order at, Barnes & Noble and Powell’s.

Anyone But You: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet
by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes
(Book #3 in the Twisted Lit series)

Two Italian restaurants, both alike in dignity, in Chicago’s Little Italy where we lay our scene... After her family’s struggling eatery, Cap’s, falls prey to another of the Monte clan’s vicious and destructive pranks, sixteen-year-old Gigi Caputo finds herself courting danger during a clandestine encounter with Roman Monte, the very boy whose relatives have brought her family such grief. When the daughter and son of these two warring factions fall for each other, their quest to mend this bitter family feud turns out to be a recipe for disaster. Their story is irrevocably linked to the summer of 1933, when two twelve-year-olds, Benny and Nick, hop the turnstile at the Chicago World’s Fair. While enjoying some of the fair’s legendary amusements, Nick has a “love at first sight” encounter with Stella, a young girl who unintentionally causes a lasting rift between the two boyhood pals. Deftly winding its way through past and present day, this modern take on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet has much to do with hate — but more with love.

To kick off this event, I have a copy of Exposure to giveaway to a lucky reader. Check out the details below:

Double, double, toil and trouble. Sometimes, the quest for high school royalty can be deadly! In this emotionally-charged twist on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a self-conscious shutterbug named Skye Kingston navigates a treacherous school year in Alaska fraught with unspoken secrets and tragic twists of fate. Along the way she encounters three strangely prophetic BFFs; one social-climbing, sociopathic cheerleader; and a heart-stopping hottie named Craig McKenzie: the man who would be Prom King. Can Skye save the boy she loves — and herself — before they get caught in the crosshairs?

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