It’s here! It’s HERE! Kristen Strassel’s SILENT NIGHT is here!

 

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I’m excited to celebrate the release of SILENT NIGHT by Kristen Strassel! This books sounds amazing and if I could marry a cover, I think I’d marry this one. 😉

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Title: Silent Night

Author: Kristen Strassel

Age: NA

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Cover Designer: Nathalia Suellen

Scheduled to release: November 18, 2014

AMAZON

 

Blurb:

This Christmas isn’t about celebration for eighteen-year-old Kyndra, it’s about survival. Grieving the loss of her grandmother and struggling with the indifference of her family, Kyndra now splits her time between her dead-end mall job, her junkie ex-boyfriend’s bed, and the streets. Longing to be close to her grandmother one more time, she wanders into Christmas Eve mass and prays she’ll find the place she belongs. Home.

Aidan isn’t ready to let go of the past either, even though he’s had nearly three hundred years to do it. He chronicles the search for the reincarnation of his beloved wife as the vampire romance author Allison Duprois. Aidan knows the wife he mourns is out there, but fears writing their story is as close as he will get to her.

At Christmas Eve mass, he finally finds her. Alone, with no place to go.

Aidan brings Kyndra into his home, and gives her the safety, comfort and love she longs for. Though he gives her second chances she never thought she’d have, Kyndra still can’t get over Aidan’s mysterious past. Not to mention that he claims that he’s a vampire. Life alone on the streets is dangerous enough without handing her trust and love to the wrong person. Can Aidan break through the walls around Kyndra’s hardened heart to convince her that she belongs with him, forever?

*This is a companion novel to the Night Moves Series.

EXCERPT

“I need to borrow your pajamas again.”

“Follow me.” Aidan waved his hand towards the hallway. I didn’t know if he heard me or not. I wouldn’t ask again. The shadows swallowed him before he clicked the light at the end of the hallway. “I hope it’s alright. I cleaned it up, and I’m limited on short notice. With my lifestyle, I can only go to all night stores.”

He led me into an oddly shaped room, with floor to ceiling dark wood bookshelves loaded with even more books. How could one person even hope to read so many books in one lifetime? In a nook, under more shelves, was a freshly made bed with a fluffy white spread and aqua throw pillows. A pair of pink and black pajamas were folded at the foot of the bed, on top of a silver throw.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. “Did you do this for me?”

Aidan’s smile was so wide it hardly fit on his face. “I did.”

I sunk down on the bed, head in my hands. “It’s too much.”

I felt his hands on my wrists, cool from just coming in from the car. Electricity flowed from his skin to mine, sending waves beneath the surface. Was this the first time he actually touched me? “I just want you to have a place you know you can come to. No questions asked.”

Hot tears slipped down my cheeks. Why was he doing this? Why did this man I’d met two days before today care about me more than my own mother? She didn’t even call me this week. I tried to bury that hurt deep, but it bounced out when I least expected it. Being with Aidan, the pain faded, and I couldn’t remember why I wanted to fight to get away from him anymore.

“I can’t pay for this,” I whispered, my voice still breaking.

“Let me do things for you.” He pressed his forehead against mine, not moving my hands away from my face. His skin felt so refreshing against my anxiety flushed skin.

Lowering my hands, I had to force myself to meet his eyes. “Thank you.”

“My home is your home. Really. I did food shopping, too.”

“So, when you found me tonight,” I worked up the nerve to ask, “was that an accident?”

“Nothing in this world is an accident, Kyndra.” He stopped at the door, then closed it quietly behind him, leaving me to stare at it after he left me alone in this haven created just for me.

I was afraid to touch anything. Aidan left me in a snow globe and I didn’t want to break the glass. I curled up in a ball, clutching one of the pillows at the head of the bed. My head pounded, but my body so desperately wanted to let go of all the tension that had built up since I gave the keys to Memere’s apartment back.

I wanted to stay. Here.

Sitting up, I ran my finger along the edge of the piping on the pajamas. They were classic button down pjs with pinstripes, but adorned with little black stars and star buttons. The flannel felt like a hug as I pulled them on. As soon as my brain wound down to the same level as my tired body, I would be ready to sleep forever.

A book would help me relax. Ignoring the e-reader in my bag, I went straight for the wall of books. I noticed some repeats from the living room, namely the Allison Duprois books. I pulled out the hardcover version of A Piece of My Heart.

I hadn’t read these books since junior high. Memere had been a little concerned they were too mature for me, but she didn’t want to discourage me from reading. I couldn’t remember the order the series went in, so I skimmed the opening pages for the information.

First Printing, 1990.

My eyes couldn’t leave those words. That was not only six years before I was born, but twenty four years ago.

Aidan didn’t look much more than thirty. Thirty-five at most. He would have barely been a teenager at most in 1990. Tearing my eyes away from the book, I looked at the closed door. My heart pounded so hard it threatened to jump out of the neckline of my new pajamas.

This didn’t add up.

Maybe he just looked really good for his age. It was possible, with plastic surgery and manscaping and gross things like that. But Aidan didn’t seem like someone who’d be vain enough to go through all of that. This was someone who hid behind a secret identity. So maybe he would be vain enough to alter his face. Maybe I was just wrong about how old he was, but that didn’t make me feel any better. If he was old enough to be my father, that was gross on a whole other level.

I couldn’t lie to myself, I was falling for this guy. Or who I thought this guy was.

Putting the book down, I went back to the book shelf, checking the original publishing dates for all of the Allison Duprois books. So many early nineties. An anthology had a publishing date of 1988. This wasn’t a mistake.

Whatever the answer was, Aidan had lied to me about something.

 

GIVEAWAY:

Christmas stocking filled with book themed goodies + signed print copy of Silent Night

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/NGE1MDEyNTkzNmEzMjcwYWY1N2NlODA1YWVlMmE3OjQ0NA==/

About the Author

Kristen

Kristen shares a birthday with Steven Tyler and Diana Ross. She spends each day striving to be half as fabulous as they are. She’s worn many hats, none as flattering as her cowboy hat: banker, retail manager, fledgling web designer, world’s worst cocktail waitress, panty slinger, now makeup artist and author. She loves sunshine, live music, the middle of nowhere, and finding new things to put in her house.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

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The Indie/Traditional Debate. Can’t We All Just Get Along?

You’re not the cool kid.

If you’re an indie author, I think you’ve figured out by now that we’re the underdogs, the gnats in traditional publishing’s ear, and the ones the traditionally published kids don’t want to sit with in the cafeteria.

I came in to the publishing game with rose colored glasses, a positive attitude, and a love for the supportive writing community I’d found. More than one year later the rose colored glasses are off, and I’m well aware that members of the “community” I loved so very much are often sneering at us behind our backs.

I don’t mean to say all traditional authors minimize the accomplishments of indie authors. There are many who genuinely cheer us on, showcase our books, congratulate us when we have success, and happily share the road with us.

But the judgment of indie authors is everywhere, and it’s getting harder to ignore.

I remember once seeing a tweet from an agent that said something like: Just sent a request and found out the author recently self-published. If only they’d been more patient.

People favorited this tweet and responded with euphemisms about patience, and persistence, when what they really meant was, “You idiot, you self-published when you should have waited for the right agent!”

My first thought when I saw that tweet was, “What if the author is happy with their decision?”

After I self-published The Darkness of Light I got requests from two agents. I had some discussions with these agents, exploring my options, but at no point during those interactions was I kicking myself for not waiting. When I made the decision to be an indie author, I did it wholeheartedly and without looking back. By then I’d already discovered the power I had over my career, the advantage I had over traditional publishing (mainly time and control), and the freedom to do exactly what I wanted.

There are bullies and if you speak up, they’ll target you.

If any of you follow me on twitter, you might recall the event I refer to as “Twittergate”, the day twitter FREAKED out on me. This was the day I realized our writing community was full of piranhas, and trust me—I got chewed up! During a twitter contest I’d observed some things that, I felt, came across as arrogant. I was reacting to the way some authors were criticizing entries with such detail the entrants were sure to know it was their entry being discussed. My reaction came from a place of empathy, not weakness. I wasn’t suggesting they sugarcoat things for authors in their (private) feedback. I wasn’t under the impression that this business is easy. What bothered me was the attitude with which these authors judged their peers.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” –Abraham Lincoln.

I tweeted my opinion and within one minute my timeline blew up! I couldn’t keep up with the tweets coming at me. Some agreed with me (I got a lot of supportive DMs because people were afraid of the backlash), some respectfully disagreed with me, and many others were downright nasty. I even got a DM from a very well known tweeter who had some particularly offensive things to say to me. She’s lucky I have enough restraint not to out her. Maybe I should have, but I’d rather let her dig her own grave.

Anyway, during the flurry of tweets aimed at me that day, it became clear that the general assumption was that I was a bitter author who’d been rejected by the traditional world and was now taking shots at traditional authors whenever I could.

I have a pretty thick skin. I can take rejection, bad reviews, and harsh critiques. What really got to me that day, and what really made me sad, was the realization that I was an outsider. It didn’t matter that I had a book published and was part of the same community. With The Darkness of Light I worked hard to make sure my book went through the same filters and received the same care as a traditionally published book. But that day, when twitter lost its mind on me, none of that mattered. Because I was an indie author, I wasn’t an author, and my opinion—my voice—was insignificant.

If books are fishes, and Amazon is the ocean, we’re all swimming in it together.

It sometimes seems the traditionally published world is unhappy they have to share space with lowly self-publishers. It must be frustrating to see your book—your edited, beautifully covered, extensively marketed baby— sitting next to something your neighbor’s cousin wrote on a Thursday and uploaded to Amazon on a Friday.

It must drive you insane that all the self-published dino porn books, or books that got rejected so many times the author had no other choice but to self-publish, are sitting in the same waters as your perfect novel. After all, self-published authors are destroying literature, right?

NOT.

There were crappy books long before indie authors stepped onto the scene, and if we all disappeared tomorrow, there would still be crappy books published every single day.

But here’s the thing— indie doesn’t mean crappy. Many of us take a lot of pride in our work. We nurture our books the same way a publishing house would. Sure, we often price our books lower, but that doesn’t mean our work is less valuable. It simply means there are no publishers or agents taking a cut of our work, giving us the ability to price our books competitively.

Let’s face it, while we all want to see our books in bookstores, Amazon is the largest online bookseller in the world. If bookstores are the streams, Amazon is the ocean, and guess what—we’re all swimming in it.

I recently saw an agented (but yet to be published) author call a fellow author’s decision to self-publish “puzzling.” I’ll bet that when the agented author’s book comes out in 2018, there will be even more successful indie authors, and even more hybrid authors swimming in the same ocean with him.

Don’t let them make you feel inferior.

“It matters not what you are thought to be, but what you are.” – Publilius Syrus

As I said earlier, there are many traditional authors who support indie authors and believe in their achievements. As indie authors we are marketing experts, have a network of editors, cover artists, formatters, and bloggers willing to help us create a product we can be proud of. It’s a lot of work to be an indie author, and our traditionally published friends know and respect our efforts.

There will always be the naysayers; the ones who tell you you’re not good enough because you didn’t take the same path that they did. It’s frustrating, and oftentimes, it hurts. But when you come across one of these cynics, don’t take their judgments to heart. Just because they say you’ve settled by becoming indie, doesn’t make it true. If you have readers, your book sells, and you feel good about the career path you’ve chosen, take the high road, because there are plenty of people willing to take the low road.

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Being an author IS a job. And it’s the BEST job.

I’m tired of being told (usually in thinly veiled statements) that being an author isn’t a job. Any writer that writes on a full-time or regular part-time basis will shout from the rooftops–IT IS!

One time, not too long ago, I was feeling overwhelmed with the projects I had on the go. I had more than one manuscript in the works, I had lots of editing to do (both for myself and someone else), and I was still trying to navigate the world of author marketing for my published novel. I must have been complaining. I usually don’t mean to. I know I’m incredibly lucky to have the ability to commit my time to fulfilling my dreams. But sometimes, I just need to vent.

So there I was, bitching about all the things I had to do and the little time I had to do them in, and someone reminds me that I don’t have a 9-5, so. . .

Queue ominous music…

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I’m well aware that I don’t have a 9-5. Trust me. I know it.

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So, since I don’t have a 9-5, what do I do? Let’s take today for example. I’ve been up since six am. I threw my hair in a bun, grabbed a coffee, and sat down at my computer. I didn’t have to put on make-up. I didn’t have to drive to work. And I didn’t have to punch a clock. I don’t have a boss standing over my shoulder (since I’m the boss), and I can take a break whenever I want. It’s a pretty sweet deal, really. I’m in the comfort of my own home, working away. But I’m still working! I’m what you’d call–self-employed. 😉

My first order of business for the day was to tackle some editing. I opened one of my manuscripts (one of four that need my immediate attention), and started going through my editor’s notes. It went smoothly for a while. I got through a few chapters until the other “things” started knocking on my brain–have you checked your email? Have you made a post on your FB page so your readers don’t forget about you? Have you tweeted recently?…they say all authors should tweet, you know? Have you tracked your sales over the weekend? Have you blogged? You haven’t blogged enough, that’s part of your job as an author…

So I made another cup of coffee, set aside the editing for a bit and started on the other “things”.

I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds a heck of a lot of work. But I like it. I don’t for one second think, I wish I was anywhere but here. And I rarely ever get a case of the Mondays.

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But here’s the thing–If I don’t do all the things I’m supposed to do, my career suffers. If I don’t write, I’m not producing a product. If I don’t spend time marketing, no one is going to buy my product. If I don’t network, I won’t have a readership or any connection with my peers.

The definition of a job is:

1- A paid position of regular employment.

2- A task or piece of work, especially one that is paid.

And guess what? Every month I get a paycheck. That’s right. On the same day, every single month, I get a direct deposit into my bank from the royalties of my book sales.
I think that sounds like a job.
But there’s one more, very important, part of this job I haven’t mentioned, and that is TIME. I don’t have a 9-5. When I’m done working for the day, my work is still staring me in the face and pinging on my phone. Again, I’m not complaining. I love what I do. But there is no 9-5 here. Last week, while trying to catch up on “things”, I worked on my laptop from 7 in the morning until 10 at night. Sure, I took breaks here and there, but by the time I was done, I was nearly blind and my back was killing me. 15 hours I worked that day. If I’d been working at an office, or anywhere else, people would say, “You work so hard.” But because I’m a writer, and I get to do exactly what I’ve always wanted to do, I’m not working.
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Now, I’m relieved to say that most people I know don’t consider my job a mere hobby or a self-indulgent diversion from the conventional standards of earning money. Most people I know say, “I don’t know how you do it. It’s amazing,” which, to me, is a compliment, and validation that I’ve done the right thing by choosing to be a writer.
I feel empathy for those who have to go to a job they hate day in and day out. Not everyone has the means to do exactly what they want. But right now, at this point in my life, I do, and I don’t think what I do for a living should be underestimated in any way. I HAVE a job. What I do is WORK. And for that work, I get PAID.
So when someone suggests that you don’t work because you’re a writer, ignore them, you’ve got too much work to do–even if it doesn’t always look like work. 😉

 

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Release Day Happy Dance & Review for Running Away by Julie Hutchings

 

Happy Book Birthday to Julie Hutchings and RUNNING AWAY!

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Running Away Final Cover

Running Away Blurb:

Eliza Morgan is desperate to escape the horrors of her mortal life and understand why death follows her, leaving only one man, Nicholas French, in its wake. He’s the one she loves, the one she resents, and the one fated to make her legendary among the Shinigami– an ancient order of vampires with a “heroic” duty to kill. He’s also decaying before her eyes, and it’s her fault.

On the ghostlike mountaintop in Japan that the vampires consider home, Eliza will be guided by the all-powerful Master for her transition to Shinigami death god. When Eliza discovers that sacrificing her destiny will save Nicholas, she’s not afraid to defy fate and make it so—even when Nicholas’s salvation kills her slowly with torturous, puzzle-piece visions that beg her to solve them. Both Nicholas and his beloved Master fight her on veering from the path to immortality, but Eliza won’t be talked out of her plan, even if it drives the wedge between Nicholas and her deeper.

Allying with the fiery rebel, Kieran, who does what he wants and encourages her to do the same, and a mysterious deity that only she can see, Eliza must forge her own path through a maze of ancient traditions and rivalries, shameful secrets and dark betrayals to take back the choices denied her and the Shinigami who see her as their savior. To uncover the truth and save her loved ones, Eliza will stop at nothing, including war with fate itself.

 

MY REVIEW

5 STARS!

When I read Running Home, I couldn’t wait to find out what would come of such an explosive ending. When I got my hands on Running Away, I was thrust back into the story immediately, immersed in the darkness that had descended upon Eliza. Hutchings is a gifted storyteller, with the ability to capture raw emotions and bring them to life on the page.

Running Away was so intense I couldn’t stop reading it, and spent the entire day flipping to the next page. I absolutely love love love the complexity of Eliza and Nicholas’s relationship. There is certainly nothing predictable about them, and that’s a great thing. I also love the new characters, especially one which I have a mega crush on. Seriously. 😉

What really impressed me about this book was the ending. I thought I knew what was going to happen. But then Hutchings took a right turn and I was shocked. While the ending is a cliffhanger of sorts, it didn’t leave me feeling cheated. There were decisions made, fates accepted, and the door was left open for a lot more story to tell.

About the Author Julie Hutchings

Me

Julie’s debut novel, Running Home, giving you vampires with a Japanese mythology pants kicking is available through Books of the Dead Press. Julie revels in all things Buffy, has a sick need for exotic reptiles, and drinks more coffee than Juan Valdez and his donkey combined, if that donkey is allowed to drink coffee. Julie’s a black belt with an almost inappropriate love for martial arts. And pizza. And Rob Zombie. Julie lives in Plymouth, MA, constantly awaiting thunderstorms with her wildly supportive husband and two magnificent boys.

Julie on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HutchingsJulie

Julie’s Blog: http://deadlyeverafter.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeadlyEverAfterBlog

Julie on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7104966.Julie_Hutchings

Other books by Julie & Buy Links:

Running Home on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17977192-running-home

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Forging Your Own Path As An Indie-Author.

It’s been quiet over here on my blog lately. If you’ve missed me, I’m sorry. If you haven’t, then I really need to step up my game. 🙂

The reason I’ve been quiet and haven’t had any nuggets of wisdom to impart is because I’ve been a little lost myself lately.

Sometime between writing my sequel and now, I had an epiphany that has me rethinking my strategy as an author, and questioning my goals. When I first wanted to see The Darkness of Light published, I did what many of us do and I queried agents. I read everything I could about publishing, agents, sales, writing…basically anything that would help me mold my book into a marketable, successful piece of fiction.

But when I couldn’t find the right agent and decided to become an indie author, there was a problem forming that I wasn’t able to see until now.

THE GOAL

The goal of most authors is to write books. Have people read those books. And make money from those books.

That was my mission when publishing THE DARKNESS OF LIGHT. I’ve said before that one mistake I made with that book was taking advice about the content, and changing it to fit a certain industry standard. I thought I was doing the right thing, since the advice was coming from someone in the traditional publishing industry. I wanted my book to stand next to any other book you might find on store shelves.

THE PROBLEM

What that advice actually did was water down my novel and cut out things that were important to readers. It became clear once the reviews started coming in that readers wanted the things I was told to cut out. Interesting, isn’t it?

So once I began to write the sequel, THE EMBERS OF LIGHT, I was much more open-minded about content and less likely to cut certain things that may have been cut by a publisher. I still used beta-readers and a content editor, but we were all aware of the issues with the last book and were able to work with less restrictions. We’ll see how that pans out once Embers is released, but I already feel more confident that the story is complete.

In the last year, as I’ve learned to balance book promotion, writing, and growth as an author, I’ve begun to form opinions about publishing as a whole. A lot of the advice I see on Twitter and other social media platforms is geared towards the traditionally published novel. There are so many rules thrown around that it’s hard to keep up: No prologues, keep word count low, avoid characters with dead parents, overly strong heroines, overly weak heroines, no love triangles, no vampires, no werewolves, no cliffhangers, etc… The list really does go on, and on, and on. It’s exhausting trying to keep up with it all, and I feel bad for writers just starting out. They’ll have to learn what works for them and what doesn’t, just like I’ve had to.

THE LIGHT BULB WENT ON

I’ve had many conversations with my indie-author friends about the state of publishing and the comparison between the indie and traditional world. What I’ve realized is that if we want to be indie-authors, we need to STOP comparing ourselves with traditional publishing! I am an indie author by choice. I wanted to control my books and my own career. I’ve said it many times: I have NO regrets about choosing this path. What I do regret is confining myself within the parameters of a branch of industry I don’t belong to.

If my goal is: Write books, have people read my books, and make money from those books, then I’ve been going about things the wrong way. I’ve been killing myself trying to follow a guideline set by the traditional world. Why? Why should indie authors not write about things the traditional world deems overdone, when there are hoards of niche market readers spending buckets of money each day to buy these books? An indie-author writing within traditional guidelines is like a person writing Facebook updates in 140 characters because that’s the rules of Twitter. They’re both social media, but they’re different. The rules are different. And the market for each is different.

Take a minute and look up the vampire category on Amazon. Or look up shifters, historical romance, or anything 50 Shades of Grey-ish. Those books are selling! People are buying them like crazy. And while many publishers have decided to abandon those platforms (leaving money on the table) indie-authors are fulfilling that need and (gasp) selling books!

We all want to be respected within our industry. We would love to receive praise and accolades based on our work. I think that’s why indie-authors constantly walk a fine line between traditional rules and reckless abandon when it comes to our books. We don’t want to be the fools of the publishing world. But, for me, walking that line had become such an obsession it started to hamper by creativity. My days became more about following guidelines than letting my imagination rule.

THE RESULT

I wrote a secret book. After talking to a friend who’s having a lot of success in one of these niche-markets, I decided to create something that those readers might like. At first I’d intended to release it under a pen name. I didn’t want anyone turning up their nose if my book failed or if it fell into the “undesirables” category. Knowing that this book would be anonymous was incredibly freeing. And I had so much fun writing it.

But as I wrote, something strange happened– I began to love the characters. I didn’t expect that. And when I read my chapters, I saw myself in that book, heard my voice, and felt connected to the story.

Yes, this is a serialized niche-market novella. Yes, it’s probably never going to win me any awards or million dollar publishing contracts. But I love it, and had more fun writing this book than any other.

THE LESSON

I’ve abandoned my intention to release this book under my pen name and decided that I will own it as Tammy Farrell! I will own the fact that I wrote it and whether it sinks or swims will have no bearing on my future endeavors. I will always write more books. Some people will love them, and some won’t. But as an indie-author, I can release books quickly, I have control over the content, and I can decide for myself what works and what doesn’t. When this secret book is ready to be released, I promise I’ll let you all know. 😉

I have to be true to myself and STOP creating things limited by rules that don’t even apply to me. Writing is art. And art should never have any limits.

So the point of the story, friends, is that if you want to be an indie author, OWN IT! Embrace it. Bend the rules however you want and don’t let anyone’s opinion create doubt in your mind.

You will find success by forging your own path, and learning from experience. If you write a book about ghost accountants, and you find readers aren’t interested in them, then write something else. You have the power in your hands. That’s the beauty of being an indie-author. The possibilities are truly endless.

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Cover Reveal for Kristen Strassel’s SECONDHAND HEART

Today I have the exclusive…okay, maybe not exclusive, BUT the exciting cover reveal and excerpt for Kristen Strassel’s 5th release, SECONDHAND HEART. 

I ADORE the cover and can’t wait to read this one. Check out the cover and excerpt below and let me know what you think!

 

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Title: Secondhand Heart

Author: Kristen Strassel

Age: NA

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Scheduled to release: October 7, 2014

Cover designer: Designs by Hang Le

Goodreads

Pre-Order Link:

Amazon

Blurb:

Daisy Mangold thought she had her life figured out until a roadside bomb in Afghanistan changed everything. Now a twenty-one-year-old military widow, Daisy moves back home to start over.

Cam Hunter won the reality show The Spotlight, and thought he was on his way to becoming the next big country star. But when whispers of how he won begin to surface, Nashville is less than welcoming. After he loses his record deal, Cam heads back home to open a country bar.

When Daisy meets Cam, she isn’t sure she’s ready to let go of the ghosts from her past. Cam’s ex-wife isn’t ready to move on either, and the tragedy she causes will expose Cam’s secrets and shatter Daisy’s family.

Will Daisy be able to follow her heart into a future with Cam, or will her grief keep her trapped in a past that no longer exists?

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Excerpt:

The lights went down, and the crowd went wild and swarmed the stage. The VIP section was to the right of the stage, and elevated just enough that we could see everything perfectly. A cover band had played up until now, but Cam Hunter was headlining his grand opening celebration.

Ev and Bree cheered when Cam came onstage, so I did too, more to be polite. He was picking up my bar tab tonight, after all. I’d never met Cam in person. I’d only heard Ev rave about him and of course I’d seen him on TV. He was taller than I expected, his broad shoulders straining the fabric of his blue and orange plaid shirt. I know, the shirt sounds hideous, but it actually looked hot on him. Bree’d said it enough tonight, I was thinking like her now. He wore the top few buttons open, showing just a hint of his tan chest. I couldn’t see his eyes under the brim of his white cowboy hat, but his sandy hair curled around the collar of the shirt. He opened the show with his biggest hit, Lonely Heart Saloon, in case you were wondering where he got the name for the bar. I found myself staring at his lips as he sang the words of the song, watching them move in front of the microphone, wondering what those lips would feel like on my skin.

I shook myself back to reality, looking at Ev and Bree singing along, and I was the last thing on their mind. Looking back at the stage, I forced myself to look anywhere but Cam’s mouth. Only being able to see the lower part of his face drove me crazy. What was hiding behind those eyes? Were they laughing, twinkling? Hell, I didn’t even know what color they were, and suddenly, I needed to know.

Look away from his face. Jesus Christ. The faded denim made his thighs look amazing. Who the hell checked out thighs? Well, if you saw these thighs, they were worth checking out. On The Spotlight, Cam had been an overgrown, almost goofy kid, playing a role. Doing what he was told. Now, on this tiny stage just feet away from us in this club, it was obvious he was all man. All smoking hot man.

When Cam said good night and thanked us all for coming, I was surprised how disappointed I felt. I’d been so lost in watching him play, not only his guitar, but teasing the fans in the front row by dipping down low, those delicious thighs spread wide and staying just out of their reach, his fingers brushing their fingertips, I got so lost in my own fantasies that I forgot all about time.

After the show, my skin was all tingly and strange. Cam had awakened something inside of me I hadn’t even known was sleeping. But at the same time, it felt wrong. I shouldn’t be thinking that way about any man, yet. My husband hadn’t been dead a year.

But I wasn’t dead.

This was safe, lusting after some musician who didn’t know I even existed. No harm could come of it. Cam had built his entire career off of people wanting to be him or be with him. It was a fantasy, nothing more.

The crowd had thinned out a bit after the show, but since this was an Ev production, we were closing down the place. Bree babbled about the show, the songs I didn’t know. “Cam’s record company didn’t renew his contract. Can you believe that shit? So maybe he’ll be playing here all the time.”

If life could even be that kind. “It is his bar, so that would make sense. Cheap labor.” I giggled at my own joke. Beer made me hilarious. I thought so anyway.

“I read online that he’s thinking of taking a new direction with his music. Collaborating with some new songwriters and stuff,” Bree continued. “Maybe we’ll get to hear it first.”

Ev had disappeared again, to the mysterious backstage area. She came back out, with a huge grin on her face.

And Cam following her.

Holy shit, she was bringing him over to us. Bree started hyperventilating and squeezing my arm. “Calm down,” I hissed. “You’re going to break a bone. I can’t act cool if my arm is dangling below my elbow.”

“How can you even joke at a time like this? Oh my God, here he is.” Bree let go of my arm, and blood resumed flowing semi normally. I didn’t know what to say to him.

“Oh my God, I love you.” Bree’s teeth could never catch all the thoughts that came rambling out of her brain, even if she wasn’t at least three beers deep.

Cam took it in stride. “I love you, too.” He took her hand in his, and brought it up to his mouth and kissed it. Bree gave an Oscar worthy performance and did not faint.

“And this is my sister, Daisy.” Ev brought his attention to me.

His eyes were blue.

The kind of blue that jumped out against his tan skin, almost perfectly matched with his shirt. Somehow, my hand landed in his, I only knew because the electricity that danced along my skin.

“Evey’s told me all about you.” Nobody called my sister Evey anymore. It surprised me, and I liked it. I missed her being Evey. One side of his mouth went up higher than the other when he smiled, and the skin around his eyes crinkled at the corners. I knew too much time had passed for me to reply, but my brain kept short circuiting every time I tried.

“Not everything.” Ev bumped into him playfully. “You know, Daisy’s been looking for a job—“

“No, I haven’t.” What the hell was she doing?

Her mouth dropped, and she shot me a look as if she couldn’t believe I could be so stupid. “Do you have a job?”

“No.”

“So, as I was saying, my sister could use a job.” Ev rocked back and forth on her heels and batted her eyelashes at Cam. “You still hiring here?”

She totally caught Cam off guard. Great. “I’m sure we could make room for you, Daisy.” His smile made me melt, and almost forget I wanted to kill Ev. I liked the way my name sounded coming out of his mouth. “Why don’t you come in tomorrow for an interview?”

“Okay.” I think I squeaked. Ev, satisfied with mortifying me, moved in closer to Cam and continued chatting with him. He kept looking over at me, probably trying to figure out if I’d make a good bar back or dishwasher.

And he still held my hand.

“I’ve got to go. It was nice talking to you ladies.” He bowed his head and squeezed my hand one last time before he let go. “Daisy, let’s say, one tomorrow?”

I nodded, then watched him walk away and join another group. I know you’re wondering how his ass looked. Amazing.

 

About the Author:

kristenpic 2

 

Kristen shares a birthday with Steven Tyler and Diana Ross. She spends each day striving to be half as fabulous as they are. She’s worn many hats, none as flattering as her cowboy hat: banker, retail manager, fledgling web designer, world’s worst cocktail waitress, panty slinger, now makeup artist and author. She loves sunshine, live music, the middle of nowhere, and finding new things to put in her house.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

 

 

Finding Your Writing Routine.

With all the writing advice out there, how is one to know which advice is the best?

The truth is–there are no set rules to follow. Writing is not only a process of sharpening your skills, it’s about learning what kind of writer you are, what your process looks like, and what routine you need to be the most productive.

If you look back on the post How 12 Different Authors Write a First Draft, you’ll see how different the process is for everyone.

Technique aside, the one question I see asked a lot is: “How do I find the time to write?”

This is a tough one to answer because everyone’s needs are different. We hear often that writers should write every day. I used to believe this myself, but the more writing became a routine, the more I learned that writing every day doesn’t work for me.

By nature, I’m an all or nothing person. I have to force myself to be obsessive about projects, because if I step away for more than a few days, I’ve completely lost interest in working. I tend to write in bursts, and since I don’t have kids, I have a lot of freedom to set my schedule as it suites me. I’m sure this will change some day, but for now my writing routine is fairly simple. I treat writing like a full-time job. I wake up to an alarm, get dressed, and hopefully by 9am I’m sitting at my computer working. Once I get in the writing zone, I will usually work for 5-8 hour stretches of time, sometimes more, 7 days a week.

By the time I get through 8 hours of writing, I’m practically brain-dead and exhausted, so it’s not a pattern I can keep up for long periods. Once I reach a milestone–which is usually a finished draft–I take a break to recharge.

I usually read books the same way I write them–in bursts. So during my writing down-time I spend as much time as I can devouring as many books as I can squeeze in before I have to start working again.

When my novel is finally completed, edited and ready to go, I’ll take a month, even 2 months off to regroup. There might be days when the muse strikes and I’ll write out a quick chapter or start plotting, but I don’t force myself to write. It’s a nice break and it gives me time to develop ideas before I start putting them to paper.

Now, I know everyone doesn’t always have the flexibility to spend 8 hours a day writing. Back when I used to work a full-time job in advertising, I remember using the same pattern of burst writing, only I would do it at night. I would sit with a glass of wine (or four) in my apartment in Toronto and work from about 7-8pm to sometimes 2 in the morning. I love that I have more freedom with my time now, but I definitely miss those late nights of writing where all my best ideas were born (Mara, Corbin and Malcolm were created during those night writing sessions).

Finding the time to write, especially when you have a lot of other things demanding your attention, can be tricky. But you might find it easier to manage if you know what kind of writer you are. Are you a burst writer? Do you like to write one scene a day? Do you go back and read your work, editing as you go?

On twitter there’s a 5am Writers Club. They are the morning writers, and if you don’t have time at night, this is a great way to get an hour or two of writing in before work.

My writer/mom friends usually say the evening works best for them. They also say that the summer months are a toss up for writing. Most seem to wait until the kids are back in school before they really push themselves to get writing done.

The bottom line is, find out what KIND of writer you are, and then tailor a routine to meet your needs. If you’re okay with writing a chapter a week, GREAT! If you have to knock out half a book in a short stretch, FANTASTIC! But don’t give up. Don’t tell yourself that you don’t have the time. There is ALWAYS time to be found for writing, if you want it bad enough. Apparently humans spend up to two years of their lifetimes sitting on a toilet. Imagine two full years of time dedicated it writing *wink wink*.

I think for my next book, I’m going to try and adjust my routine a bit and give myself weekends off. That way I don’t find myself procrastinating on a Sunday because all I want to do is eat candy and have a netflix marathon. I’m learning that time off is important. 🙂

Tell me what your writing routine is. How do you find the time and what kind of writer are you?

 

 

 

Cover Reveal for Valentina Cano’s THE ROSE MASTER!

Hello friends. I’ve got a cover reveal for you today that has me really excited. For my non-writer friends, you may wonder why we do these things? Well, first, it’s a VERY exciting day when an author finally gets to showcase their cover, and usually other writers help spread the word–we’re a very supportive bunch, us writers. Second, it gives the book more exposure. I am not a “book blogger” per se, but I do like to feature books that I think are amazing and books I’m excited to read.

This particular novel was pitched to me as Jane Eyre meets Beauty and the Beast, and if you know me at all, you’ll know that I’ve read Jane Eyre probably 1000 times, and watched every single film adaptation known to man. And Beauty and the Beast…come on, that’s just a given, right?

So needless to say, I am VERY excited for this book and I think the cover is simply gorgeous.

The Rose Master Cover Reveal

The day Anne Tinning turns seventeen, birds fall from the sky. But that’s hardly the most upsetting news. She’s being dismissed from the home she’s served at since she was a child, and shipped off to become the newly hired parlor maid for a place she’s never heard of. And when she sees the run-down, isolated house, she instantly knows why:
There’s something wrong with Rosewood Manor.
Staffed with only three other servants, all gripped by icy silence and inexplicable bruises, and inhabited by a young master who is as cold as the place itself, the house is shrouded in neglect and thick with fear. Her questions are met with hushed whispers, and she soon finds herself alone in the empty halls, left to tidy and clean rooms no one visits.
As the feeling of being watched grows, she begins to realize there is something else in the house with them–some creature that stalks the frozen halls and claws at her door. A creature that seems intent on harming her.
When a fire leaves Anne trapped in the manor with its Master, she finally demands to know why. But as she forces the truth about what haunts the grounds from Lord Grey, she learns secrets she isn’t prepared for. The creature is very real, and she’s the only one who can help him stop it. 
Now, Anne must either risk her life for the young man she’s grown to admire, or abandon her post while she still can.

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21566652-the-rose-master?ac=1

Valentina Cano pic

Valentina Cano is a student of classical singing who spends whatever free time she has either reading or writing. She also watches over a veritable army of pets, including her five, very spoiled, snakes. Her works have appeared in numerous publications and her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Web. She lives in Miami, Florida.
Valentina on Twitter: @valca85

 

 

 

It takes 21 days to form a habit.

Back in my early 20s, when I was starting a career as a life insurance and mutual funds salesperson (I know, sounds boring. It was), I attended many, many, many motivational conferences. While I’m no longer selling insurance, much of the wisdom I gathered at these conferences sticks with me today.

One piece of advice I heard was that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Last year I read a Forbes article insisting that the 21 day rule is a myth. But here’s the thing, I don’t want to be a money mogul. I don’t care to be the CEO of a fortune 500 company. All I want is to get my shit together, and if I manage to stick with something for 21 days, I’m gonna call it a habit.

22 days ago, my HSN impulse buy (an elliptical/bike hybrid) showed up at my door. My husband put it together and the very next day I woke up and decided that was the day I was going to work out. My first day on this thing was hard. I had it on the easiest setting and at 15 minutes in I was ready to collapse. But I kept the 21 day rule in my head. After all, I only had to commit to 21 days, and if I didn’t like it, I could abandon ship, right?

Today was officially day 21 of my workout routine. I woke up this morning and didn’t feel like exercising. But unlike day one, two, or three of this routine, that thought quickly vanished and was replaced by “But you’ll feel so much better. It’s so much easier now. You’ve already put in so much work.”

I got dressed and got on the elliptical. On day one I was doing level 1 for 15-20 minutes. Today, on day 21, I worked out for 40 minutes on level 10. And the best part is, I enjoyed it. It’s not something I dread, it’s not something I avoid doing. 21 days later, this work out routine has become a habit.

The same principle can be applied to your writing. If you have trouble finding the time, or you find you go days without working on your manuscript, try committing to a 21 day plan for 15 minutes a day.

21 days is not a long amount of time in the grand scheme of our lives. It’s not even a full month. If you try something for 21 days and find that it makes you unhappy, then it’s not the length of time you do it, but the action itself that isn’t working for you.

If 21 days isn’t enough time to form a habit, at least it’s enough time to know for certain whether you like something or not.

So give it a try. Commit to your writing for 21 days. Commit to your workout, your walk, your plan to eat better, your plan to read more for 21 days. Hopefully by the end you’ll have a habit that no longer feels like a chore. 🙂

 

Writers Need Writer Friends.

I don’t know where I’d be right now without my writer friends. This time last year I’m not sure I had many, if any at all, and it wasn’t until I made friends who were writers, that I realized the value in having a strong support system while navigating the world of publishing.

I’ve never been good at making friends. I prefer to stay away from crowds, the idea of busy conferences terrifies me, and the intimacy of writers meet-up groups terrifies me even more.

I found my network online through twitter, facebook, and blogging. I’m not sure how it happened, really. I didn’t seek out contacts or other authors to talk to. It kind of just happened naturally, which is how genuine connections are made.

I follow 772 people (mostly writers) on twitter, and of those follows I would say maybe 6-10 of them have become great friends. Many of them I talk to daily, sometimes several times a day. We discuss our challenges with writing and publishing, share ideas, lift each other up when one is feeling down, and support each others work.

It’s an amazing thing to have someone to reach out to when you’re doubting yourself. And it feels nice to have someone reach out to you for help in return.

If you’re out there swimming in social media, trying to make a writing career for yourself, make sure to take a break from book promo once in a while and just talk to people. You never know who you might meet, or how that person may impact your writing life.

I imagine it would be a pretty lonely journey without a shoulder to lean on once in a while.

 

** Don’t forget about The Darkness of Light signed paperback giveaway**

Tweet me “Enter” @TamzWrite to enter (announcing this Friday) & sign up on Goodreads for a chance to win one of two more copies! https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/90108-the-darkness-of-light