Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Grave Winner Tour

Today I'm proud to be a part of the 'The Grave Winner Tour', hosted by Dark World Books. To view other stops on this tour and to join in on a giveaway (US only), just click on the banner.

The Grave Winner
Leigh Baxton is terrified her mom will come back from the dead — just like the prom queen did.
While the town goes beehive over the news, Leigh bikes to the local cemetery and buries some of her mom’s things in her grave to keep her there. When the hot and mysterious caretaker warns her not to give gifts to the dead, Leigh cranks up her punk music and keeps digging.
She should have listened.
Two dead sorceresses evicted the prom queen from her grave to bury someone who offered certain gifts. Bury them alive, that is, then resurrect them to create a trio of undead powerful enough to free the darkest sorceress ever from her prison inside the earth.
With help from the caretaker and the dead prom queen, Leigh must find out what’s so special about the gifts she gave, and why the sorceresses are stalking her and her little sister. If she doesn’t, she’ll either lose another loved one or have to give the ultimate gift to the dead – herself.
Amazon (Kindle) – Amazon (Paperback) – Barnes & Noble
Add The Grave Winner to your Goodreads list!
My Review
The Grave Winner is an unusual, fast-paced paranormal with lots of twists and turns that will keep the reader guessing until the end. Leigh is terrified her mother will come back from the dead, just like the prom queen did. To help her mother stay buried, Leigh buries some items at her mother's gravesite  even against the warnings of the mysterious caretaker who wants Leigh to stay far away from the cemetery, especially at night. Leigh finds out that burying the items was definitely a bad idea when she is told that two dead sorceresses plan to bury someone who offered certain gifts to the dead in the newly evicted prom queen's grave. When the dead sorceresses turn their sights on Leigh, and worse her sister, what will Leigh do to protect her family when her sister's and her lives are at stake?

The first thing that drew me to this book was the cover. I absolutely loved the creepy and goth-like aspects and I was not disappointed with the story. Leigh was a strong and independent character who had a few insecurities, especially since she had just lost her mother and now she's trying to fill in for her mother's role for her younger sister. Leigh is just a feisty character full of sarcasm, someone I can definitely relate to and made the story interesting to read through her eyes. 

What's not to love about the story? Dead cheerleader coming back from the dead, dead sorceresses and a hunky cemetery caretaker. The story had plenty of twists and turns as Leigh tries to discover what was so important about the gifts she buried before the sorceresses claim her or her sister, and with just a touch of romance - not too overpowering that it took away from the creepy and thrilling aspects of the story - it made the story a real page turner. I look forward to seeing what happens in the next in the series. I recommend this book to anyone who loves creepy paranormals such as Anna Dressed in Blood. 

About the Author

Lindsey R. Louks 

Lindsey R. Loucks works as a school librarian in rural Kansas. When she’s not discussing books with anyone who will listen, she’s dreaming up her own stories. Eventually her brain gives out, and she’ll play hide and seek with her cat, put herself in a chocolate induced coma, or watch scary movies alone in the dark to reenergize. She’s been with her significant other for almost two decades.
Website/Blog – Twitter – Facebook

Author interview with Lindsey R. Louks
  1. Where did you come up with the inspiration behind the book?
    Well, I was finishing up my first novel, a YA science fiction story, and the title The Grave Winner just popped into my head. It stuck inside there because I had no idea why anyone would win a grave. Why would anyone want to win a grave? Then my main character Leigh made the leap into my head (it gets really crowded in there) and explained to me what it all meant
  2. What inspired you to write your first book?
    My first book was that YA science fiction story I referred to earlier, and believe me when I say it was not good. But I had to write it. It came from a vivid dream I had about being chased while dressed as another person. Couple that with all these birthdays I keep having and the idea for Pause was born.
  3. What books/authors have influenced your writing?
    Stephen King and Shirley Jackson are the big influences. I used to inhale anything by them. They know how to weave some nail-chomping stories.
  4. What was your favourite scene to write?
    Probably any scene where Leigh interacts with her best friend, Jo, or her maybe love interest, Callum. Leigh plays off people so well with her spunky sense of humor and no-nonsense attitude. 
  5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
    The hardest part was probably that I was so mean to Leigh. It made me feel so guilty because I love her to death. But if I didn’t throw all those hurdles at her, it probably would be a very boring book.
  6. How do you overcome writer's block?
    I read a book, exercise, pet my cat, write something else, or watch a movie. Mostly I just have to be patient with myself and know that writer’s block eventually ends 
  7. What are your current projects?
    My romantic horror novella, Salt in the Cupboard, comes out August 12th from Entangled Publishing. I’m also working on the sequels to The Grave Winner and planning to write a ghost story that takes place in space. 
  8. What book are you reading now?
    I’m reading Hunters by Stefanie Pristavu.
  9. If you could have dinner with any fictional character who would it be and why?
    Harry Potter. I’d like to know how he’s enjoying his position as Auror and if there is anything I can do to help him, even though I’m only a muggle. 
  10. Do you have any advice for other writers?
    Keep writing, keep reading, and never give up.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

WiP Wednesday

Okay, I admit I've been slacking off a bit this week... not really, it's just been super hectic with school and other personal stuff I've been dealing with, that I haven't had that much time to devote to writing. I do realise that I need to kick my butt into gear though so I can keep my deadline and finish my first draft of the sequel to Shadow Embraced by the end of the month.

I have had a lot of my other ideas pushing to be heard though and I'm anxious to get started reworking with some of those ideas. The only problem I'm facing is that I have so many different projects and so many different ideas that I really need to decide which project is going to take priority when I get to that 'next' project. I've got my horror, my Japanese mystery, my superhero or my paranormal romance... mmm, so many different ones to choose from. I think I'll probably just put all options in a hat and let it be by luck of the draw (or whatever takes my fancy at the end of the month).

So, that's my week. My question is, how do you decide what project to work on next if you have several ideas brewing?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Best and Worst Movie Remake Blogfest

To celebrate Friday I thought it would be a great time to let loose so today I'm participating in the Best and Worst Movie Blogfest which is hosted by Alex J. CavanaughStephen TrempFather Dragon Al, and Livia Peterson.

Everyone knows sometimes Hollywood can run out of ideas turn to some classic movies and re-tune and re-vamp them to bring to a modern audience. Some of these movies can be absolutely brilliant (due to a new director's perspective or new technology that wasn't available in the original's day) but some, well actually a lot, can be dismal failures. Here are some of my best and worst remakes:

The Best:

Star Trek

I chose Star Trek for the best remake because I could not (and still can't) stand the original Star Trek. I actually could not stand a lot of sci-fi before a friend dragged me along to the midnight screening of Star Wars... see Wars, not Trek.

I didn't think I'd like the new Star Trek movie but I risked giving it a go just because Zachary Quinton was in it and I was not sorry. I actually enjoyed it. It's a movie that I can actually watch repeatedly and I'm looking forward to seeing Star Trek into darkness.

The Worst:

The Ring

Anyone that knows me knows that there are two things I absolutely love: 1. anything from Japan and 2. anything that is horror, but the one thing I can't stand is for American directors to take those two things (Japanese horror movies) and ruin a perfectly wonderful story. The Ring is one of those movies. I have to admit I first saw the American version of the Ring before watching the Japanese version (I've even read the novel version... now that is definitely different) and even then I knew I hated it. Now having seen Ring 1, 2, Birthday and Sadako (all Japanese), I really love Sadako (that's the Japanese name for Samara) and I just pray that America will leave this series alone and not crucify it any more with any other remakes.

If you don't believe me that Japan knows how to do horror movies right, just check out what they do for promotion.

What is your best or worst remake?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

WiP Wednesday

School holidays are definitely over and that means I'm struggling to find the time to write - again, but I've made a commitment that I'm going to write so many words a week and I'm going to stick to that.

I'm still working on the sequel to Shadow Embraced and I'm already seeing big holes in the plot that I'll have to come back to in the revisions (especially for characters that have chosen to not even make an appearance in the first half of the story). I have officially hit the halfway point and things are starting to unravel nicely.

So, that's my progress this week. What's your WiP been like?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review: Croak

Croak by Gina Damico

Synopsis (From Goodreads): Fed up with her wild behavior, sixteen-year-old Lex's parents ship her off to upstate New York to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping that a few months of dirty farm work will whip her back into shape.

But Uncle Mort's true occupation is much dirtier than shoveling manure. He's a Grim Reaper. And he's going to teach Lex the family business.

She quickly assimilates into the peculiar world of Croak, a town populated by reapers who deliver souls from this life to the next. But Lex can't stop her desire for justice - or is it vengeance? - whenever she encounters a murder victim, craving to stop the attackers before they can strike again.

Will she ditch Croak and go rogue with her reaper skills?

I have to admit Croak has been sitting on my bookshelf for way too long and I'm not sorry that I finally brought myself to pick it up. Lex is the perfect character to follow through this twisted story of grim reapers with her snarky attitude and her disregard for authority. After her parents take drastic actions to try and change Lex's wild and delinquent behaviour by sending her to work on the farm with her Uncle Mort, Lex finally finds a place where she feels she belongs. First, her uncle isn't a farmer, he's a Grim Reaper and Lex is about to join him in the family business, finally putting her violent rages to some use. She quickly makes Croak a home, finding friends and a purpose in her life, the two things she was missing at home, but every time she comes to a violent death she just wants to make the person responsible pay. Will she break the one most important rule Croak has and bring justice to the victim or can she just let the killers get away?

I love macabre stories and the idea of a town full of Grim Reapers instantly drew my attention towards Damico's Croak, and I wasn't disappointed. The world of Croak has been delved into in great detail that she has set up a whole society of Grim Reapers which made it fascinating to read about and then there are there characters. Each character has their own backstory, and for characters who deal with death on a day-to-day basis it added a lot of personality and flaws which I loved. Lex, the main character, is rude, snarky and is likely to hit someone in the face just for speaking to her (yes, she does that several times), but it is this attitude and Damico's humorous writing style that still made Lex a likeable and funny character. Then there's the hot and goofy housemate, Driggs, who's not afraid to hit a girl

With plenty of page-turning twists and dark humour, it made it a fun read. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who loves grim reapers and dark fantasy.

Source: Audible
2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge: #5 of 21
2013 Audio Book Challenge: #4 of 25

Friday, May 10, 2013

Shadow Embraced Tour Announcement

The fantastic ladies over at Dark World Books have been very busy helping me organise an epic blog tour for Shadow Embraced, together with a super secret international giveaway (which I'm saying isn't going to disappoint). The tour is officially going to take place between the 15th July and the 30th August, and if you would like to take part you can go to the Shadow Embraced sign-up page to register your details. This tour isn't just for reviews, there's also the opportunity to post author and character interviews, offer a guest post or just post an excerpt of Shadow Embraced if you want.

Come join the fun and thanks for all your support!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Blood Rush Pre-Release Tour

Today I'm proud to be a part of the 'Blood Rush Pre-Release Tour', hosted by Dark World Books. To view other stops on this tour and to join in on a special international giveaway, just click on the banner.

Blood Rush
(Demimonde #2)
Sophie doesn’t believe in happily ever after. These days, she’d settle for alive after sunrise.
Advice columnist and newly-appointed oracle to the demivampire, Sophie Galen has more issues than a Cosmo collection: a new mentor with a mean streak, a werewolf stalker she can’t shake, and a relationship with her ex’s family that redefines the term complicated. And then there’s her ex himself, who is more interested in playing leader of the vampire pack than in his own salvation.
Becoming a better oracle is tough enough, but when Sophie encounters a deadly enemy – one she never dreamed of facing – it will take everything she’s ever learned in order to survive.
Add Blood Rush to your Goodreads list!
My Review
I have to admit that I just jumped into this book without reading the first book in the series, Bleeding Hearts and apart from being a little bit lost at the start with some of the creatures and the world, it soon became irrelevant as I was swept up in a phenomenal paranormal story full of twists and turns which definitely puts a new spin on vampires.

Sophie is far from over the loss of her soul mate, Marek. Then Marek's younger brother, Rodrian needs her help and in return he can offer her a place to live as long as she agrees to help his daughter, Shiloh who hasn't changed into a full Demivampire yet. Between taking in a homeless Were and learning how to harness her Sophia powers to the full extent, Sophie still has to try to escape from the vampires who are still hunting her and try to help Marek from becoming a full vampire, but how far will she go to save the one she loves?

Krafton's writing style sucked me in from page one and Sophie had a vulnerable yet strong personality that made the story interesting to follow and made me want to know what was going to come next. Toby was a loveable werewolf. He had such a sad backstory and the way he was always trying to stick up for Sophie made him my favourite character by far. Blood Rush was definitely a thrilling page-turner and I look forward to seeing where the next one leads, and actually going back and reading book one.

About the Author

Ash Krafton

Ash Krafton writes from the heart…of the Pennsylvania coal region, that is. She is the author of the Books of the Demimonde (Pink Narcissus Press). BLEEDING HEARTS (Demimonde #1) is a six-time RWA finalist and was voted “Reviewer Top Pick” by Ash continues the story of Sophie and her Demivampires in her latest release BLOOD RUSH (Demimonde #2). She’s hard at work (when she isn’t watching Doctor Who) writing the third book, WOLF’S BANE. Fans of paranormal love stories can also look forward to STRANGER AT THE HELL GATE, which is forthcoming with the renown romance ebook publisher The Wild Rose Press. Ash Krafton’s poetry and short fiction has appeared in several journals, including Niteblade, Bete Noire, Abandoned Towers, and Silver Blade. She’s a member of Pennwriters, RWA, and Maryland Writers Association. She lurks near her blog and contributes to the QueryTracker blog. Ash lives with her family and their German Shepherd dog deep in the Pennsylvania wilds, awaiting the day the TARDIS appears in the driveway (the dog most likely keeps the Doctor away. What a beast.) Until then, she writes.
Website – Blog – Twitter – Facebook – Goodreads
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Broken Flight Tour

Today I'm proud to be a part of the 'Broken Flight Tour', hosted by Dark World Books. To view other stops on this tour and to join in on a special international giveaway, just click on the banner.

Broken Flight
(Angels of Punishment #1)
Anna James never planned on dying at age nineteen or ending up somewhere other than heaven. Five years later, her heart is still on Earth with her soulmate Grey, while the rest of her struggles to survive in Beyond. Not quite heaven and a lot like hell, Beyond is a proving ground where only the strongest souls are allowed to move on. With no way out, Anna keeps her head down and plays by the rules… Until she learns Grey is about to die.
Grey Wilson would give anything to go back and stop the accident that ripped Anna from his arms. But when Anna appears on Earth again, he quickly realizes things can never be as they were. Death and Beyond have changed her; brought out the dark side and dimmed her inner light. Before they can even revel in this semblance of a miracle, Grey and Anna find themselves in the middle of an angelic civil war where sabotage and danger lurk around every corner.
Anna’s dark side is exactly what Azrael – the leader of the Angels of Punishment – craves. When Azrael lays out his demands, Anna will have to make the biggest decision of her life.
Amazon – Barnes & Noble
My Review
Elle J Rossi's Broken Flight is a dark and seductive thriller with plenty of twists and turns that will keep the pages turning until the end. I have definitely read my share of fallen angel novels, but the angels in Rossi's first novel in the Angels of Punishment series has a new view on angels and their afterlife. 

Anna and Grey are fantastic for the leading characters of this novel, both are relatable and will do anything to protect the other. Anna is a character who has a lot of emotional conflicts. She knows she's not allowed to be with Grey, but she can't help but want him and that is what keeps getting her into trouble and she won't let a little bit of torture or torment get in her way from being with the one she loves, even though some of the decisions Anna made had me shaking my head and wondering why she made that choice.

Rossi has created her own gritty version of heaven and hell and this made the story come alive. Throw in the twists and the turns with the dark angels, a steamy romance and a quest that could possibly start a war, it makes for a thrilling read. I look forward to seeing where the next book in the Angels of Punishment series leads.

About the Author

Elle J Rossi

Elle J Rossi grew up in rural Indiana surrounded by great people, a huge family and more animals than she could count. But the sites and sounds of the world beckoned, so she left her small town to escape into a creative world full of music. As a full time singer she was able to lose herself in a thousand different songs in a hundred different places. After meeting the love of her life and settling down, she yearned to find a new and fulfilling creative outlet. Overly fond of the happily ever after, she wondered what it would be like to have her own characters lead her down dark and twisted paths. The very first word on the very first page sealed her fate. She’d found a new love. She’d found her escape. Now along with weaving haunting tales about the journey to love, she’s creating cover art for authors around the world and loving every second of it. For fun, she cranks country music to take her back to her roots, and sings karaoke anytime she gets a chance. Her husband, two children, and a cat that rules the roost keep her company along the way and guarantee she doesn’t get lost in the enchanted forest. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

Website – Blog – Twitter – Facebook

Author interview with Elle J Rossi
  1. Where did you come up with the inspiration behind the book?
    Well, sadly this book was inspired by the death of someone very close to me. This was probably the darkest time in my life, a time where question after question caused many sleepless nights. It was difficult to write, but, ultimately, something I needed to do. I now have a better understanding and appreciation of life and hope. Of course, this makes it sound like this book is depressing. It isn’t! I promise!
  2. What inspired you to write your first book?
    Now this is an easy one. It was coffee and books. My love for the two melded together in my first attempt at writing, which was a contemporary romance. Said first attempt is still unfinished and will most likely remain so. I realized paranormal romance and urban fantasy is where my heart is.
  3. What books/authors have influenced your writing?
    I read all genres and love to be catapulted into different places and times. I’d say Heather Graham, Nalini Singh, JR Ward, Gena Showalter and Kresley Cole have been my greatest influences. I devour their books faster than cheesecake.
  4. What was your favourite scene to write?
    In Broken Flight, my favorite scene to write was probably the airplane scene. I’m NOT a fan of flying. It’s all about control, and up there, I have zero control. I put myself in Anna’s place and went along for the terrifying ride. Having Grey beside me helped tremendously. 
  5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
    It was very difficult to not hold back. I was really worried about offending people with this book. Heaven and Hell and everything in between can be very touchy subjects. But to stay true to the story, to Anna and Grey’s journey, I had to completely let go. I’m really glad I did.
  6. How do you overcome writer's block?
    I observe. One of my favorite things to do is to pack up my gear, park my butt at a coffee shop and watch people. I create stories about their lives and this fuels the creative fire.  
  7. What are your current projects?
    I’m currently working on two books. THE CASTER, which is the third and final book in THE BRENNAN COVEN trilogy, and a full-length urban fantasy that follows up a short I wrote in the A CELTIC TAPESTRY anthology. I’m really excited to see what Josie Hawk is up to. 
  8. What book are you reading now?
    I’m reading the complete works of Edgar Allan Poe. He’s amazing.
  9. If you could have dinner with any fictional character who would it be and why?
    I think I’d like to have dinner with Riley from Elle Jasper’s Dark Ink Chronicles. She’s badass and would be a ton of fun to hang out with. 
  10. Do you have any advice for other writers?
    Yes. Write what you love. Don’t follow the trends. Instead, be the one to start them.

Keeping backstory a mystery

Over the weekend I became obsessed with the TV series Arrow (seriously, I watched the entire season over the weekend), and the one thing I loved about the show, besides plenty of eye candy in Oliver Queen himself, was the way they unfolded the backstory. Instead of unloading the entire five years worth of backstory about what happened to Oliver while stranded on a deserted island onto the viewer, the screenwriters only let out little bits and pieces as needed.

Watching this show got me thinking about how to dish out the backstory in my stories. I, for one, don't like being given all the information outright as I like some mystery to still remain or the story I'm reading becomes boring. Too much information too soon can bore the reader and make them lose interest in the story, but then there's the other spectrum (which I am often guilty of, especially in my first drafts).

I have been told by critique partners that I don't give enough of my backstory because I don't like to give away some elements that I want to be kept a mystery. Yeah, which can be a mistake and confuse the hell out of the reader (especially when my main character says "at least I didn't kill him" out of the blue without any other mention of this guy she 'didn't kill'... I'm working on that).

Getting the balance between too much backstory and not enough is a tricky business, but when it all comes together it helps to make the story interesting and capture the readers interest.

So what about you? Do you struggle with when and how much backstory to put into your story? For readers, do you like reading a lot of backstory or do you like finding out little snippets here and there?
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