I Got My T-Shirt!!!!!

Remember my post last week about receiving the book review of A Heart Not Easily Broken by The Masquerade Crew? If not, read the post: I Got Reviewed by the Masquerade Crew and Survived!!! So imagine my surprise when I logged on to Twitter this morning and found this tweet:  

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And if that wasn’t enough to make me smile through sleepy eyes, this tweet followed:

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And what a great post it is! Check it out!

The Leap of Faith of Book Reviews

So, if your looking for a honest review (and I’m not saying that we never receive any from readers because believe me, I have, both good and bad!), be sure to check them out! Their review policy is listed on their site so read it carefully and know what your signing up for! Like I said in my previous blog, I’m glad I did and will happily do it again! 

Happy Reading! 

 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog! 

MJ

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Book Reviews: The Good, the Bad, and the WTH???

Attractive Woman with Her Books

Book reviews. Every author wants them. Every author fears them. They can be the shining star used to promote your work, or the one thing holding readers back from deciding to one-click and add to their growing collection. Over the last week, both of my books have received reviews: a 3, a 4 and a 5 Star review, and each has seen the dreaded 1 and 2 Star reviews. Each reviewer has had something different to say and it made me think…

What good can a review do for the author? How can you read through the lines? And when do you ignore them?

The first rule to any book review is: everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Easier said than done sometimes, right?

The fact of the matter is, no matter how well your book is written, no matter how clean you edits are, or how many people sing your books praises, somebody out there is going to hate it.

What’s that old saying, “You can’t please everybody?” No truer words have been spoken.

Above all things you must remember readers have different taste, like different types of storytelling, or crave a certain type of drama, fantasy, or escape from reality. If your book doesn’t hit the mark for them, chances are they will not like it. A good example of this is the romance genre. There are many ‘heat’ levels out there. Everything from Hard core BDSM, to the tame ‘bedroom door shuts in your face’, and where I fall, somewhere in between…not erotica, but definitely erotic. (I recently had a reader tell me my scenes made her blush, lol, and they are in no way close to what makes me blush!)

The flip side to this is if your book is intentionally written to draw on a readers emotions – depending on their personality type – they may dislike your characters because they cannot or do not sympathize with your characters decisions. They get so upset they are personally offended or pissed off and no longer read the full story.  They base their opinions on the characters actions and what they feel should have happened, thus the bad review.

As an author, what can you take from this?

For starters, learn to read between the lines. Once the emotional sting is gone and the tears have dried, or you stop using the ‘f’ word, whichever comes first, try to decipher what the reader is trying to say. Did they dislike the character, the plot, or the writing? Was the character unrealistic or did the decisions they make just piss them off? As the author, only you know what motivates your characters and what emotions you want to draw from the reader. So the questions you must ask yourself are:

  • Did I do too much or too little?
  • Was enough back ground information given?
  • Was the scene or reason behind the decisions made explained clearly?
  • Were questions/goals asked, defined, and reached?
  • Were there enough unanswered questions to keep the reader interested without boring them?
  • How well thought out was the plot?
  • Are there gaps in the story that leave the plot line open?
  • Was a resolution found and satisfying?
  • What about the pacing? Too fast, too slow, or just plain boring? (you’ll know the answer to this if a majority of your reviews say the same thing)
  • What can I take from this review to make my next project better?

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Some characters are meant to piss people off, but you want your main characters to pull the reader in, keep their attention and have them rooting for them to reach their goal. One of the most important things to remember, no matter what genre you write, pleasing the masses (lovers of your genre) is the key, not the people who don’t or won’t agree.  In other words, if you write Sci-Fi Erotica, don’t expect a Historical Romance lover to go crazy about your book. That’s not to say readers won’t cross over to different genres, but some are more comfortable with what they know.
  • If your book is getting an influx of negative reviews, pay attention to the market your promoting to. If book lovers of your genre continue to say the same thing, you may need to step back, re-evaluate your style of writing, learn more about storyline structure, and find honest beta readers or a writing group to help you find out what went wrong. Revamp, rewrite, try again!
  • Like TV shows and movies, there are various book genres that have a different style of pacing. Some readers want the satisfaction of a full ride that has them hanging on from the beginning to the end with no breaks. (Think roller coaster ride, 0-60 in 2 seconds). They want if fast, hard, and with a sudden stop. Other readers like the slow walk on the beach, long conversations, the romance, staring off at the sunset, and a satisfactory ending. And then there’s the in-between reader who likes the road trip. They want to leave the house doing the city speed limit, but when they hit the highway, they cruise with the traffic, enjoying the twists and turns and the fast pace. They like to visit the rest stop and stretch their legs before merging with the flow of traffic again. A well written story has the mixed pace of fast, slow, and cruise control to keep the ride interesting.

What does all of this mean?

As writers, we know what our comfort zone is when it comes to telling our stories. We know what our intentions are and what we want our character to see, think, and feel. We view our work as our babies and it’s often hard to put down the laptop and share it with the world. Will we ever be able to win over the masses? No, because there are too many genres which means readers what different things. If your book doesn’t deliver for them, chances are it’s not your story, but your style of writing or vice versa. Either way, don’t let a bad review get you down. See it as a learning tool. If you can find room for improvement, make it! If it’s more of a personal issue for the reviewer, ignore it and move on! In the end, YOU, the writer, know how much time, effort, and work you put in to make your ideas hit paper. Don’t let the negative stop you! As a good friend and fellow author says, ‘you have to put on your big girl panties and get over it!’ – Carmen DeSousa

Interview with Raine Delight!

Today I welcome  author Raine Delight. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to her via Facebook and the fact that she writes for two different types of Romance  is very interesting!  Grab that cup of coffee and take a moment to meet her!

Red Hot Magic Cover

Welcome, Raine!


What inspired you to write?

Actually it was reading one too many books that had too stupid to live heroines and heroes who made me want to scream. An author friend dared me to write something better and after a few tries I got my first book, Sticky Magic, as well as my first series set up.

What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

I write Paranormal Contemporary, either M/F or M/M, depending on the how my characters want to go. I love paranormal, contemporary stories and felt right at home with them.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I work from home so I have a bit of a flexible schedule. I normally write during the day when kids are at school and sometimes after they are in bed depending on if the story really gets its grip in me.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I like having green tea and skittles nearby if I need a break and I need music for background noise. Sometimes the music even makes it into the story. J

Are you a pantser or plotter?

I am a pantser all the way. I tried an outline once…my muse laughed his fool head off and proceeded to take the story in a completely other direction. Let’s just say outlines and myself are not good bedfellows. J

Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share and example?

It all depends…sometimes I draw from experiences in a bakery I used to work at like I did in my latest story, Moonlight Masquerade found in the On Valentine’s Day Anthology or other jobs but otherwise it is all make believe.

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Write every day or whenever you can. Read whatever genre you want to read. Talk to other authors, let yourself learn as you write your books and eventually things do stick in your head when you write. J

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

RD: I am published through Secret Cravings. I have six books there right now and plan to send in three more to them this year and I also am involved in two anthologies a bunch of us got together and self-published. Both anthologies I am in, Hot Summer Fun & On Valentine’s Day were both best sellers at All Romance Ebookstore and on Amazon Kindle. I also have another story I am getting ready to self-publish called Second Chance at Love on my own.

What are your current projects?

I am promoting my story Moonlight Masquerade, now out in the On Valentine’s Day Anthology then I am getting into my next Devon Falls story, Mistletoe & Magic (Paranormal M/M) and I am eager to get to my space pirates finished and sent out for submission.

Author/Reader Loop    Email     Secret Cravings Publishing    Haunting Magic book Trailer

Red Hot Magic Book Trailer    A Summer Night Fling Book Trailer    Sticky Magic book trailer

Facebook      Website     Raine’s Blog

Valentine Anthology Cover

Mysterious roses keep popping up on Skylar Everclear’s doorstep. No idea what is going, a little disturbed by this secret admirer, he tries to forget it all since he just got rid of the latest line of loser boyfriends and just wants to do his job at the local bakery. But when he meets his new neighbor, Marc Douglas, he finds himself drawn to the quiet young man even as he tries to not let his libido take over. But on Valentine’s Day, a mysterious rose again pops up with a note to meet his admirer that night. Will Skylar take a chance that this time, love is right there waiting for him?

Excerpt:

Skylar opened his door and groaned. Another damn rose was lying on his doormat. It ticked him off that he had no idea who was doing this but every freaking night this week he either came home to a rose on his porch or opened the door to it. It was enough to feel creeped out now. He looked around, seeing no one, shut the door with a soft click and leaned against the door in despair. It has been three months since he threw out his lover, Saul, after catching him fucking some other guy after one of the numerous block parties the neighborhood held in the summer and autumn months and frankly he didn’t know what to do anymore. All he did was work, sleep and work some more. He always seemed to pick those guys who are bound to break his heart.

“I must have ‘Loser’ tattooed on my forehead the last few years.” Skylar muttered to himself.  “Why can’t I find a nice guy for once? One who won’t lie, cheat or steal and break my heart by telling me I wasn’t good enough for them.” Sighing, Skylar grabbed his backpack, keys and cell phone as he hurried to get ready for work. As a baker in the local bakery, his day started earlier than many others. With Valentine’s around the corner, he was working longer than normal hours. He was in the bakery at 4 am and not coming home till almost five at night. It made for long hellish days but he enjoyed what he did. Plus he enjoyed seeing the people enjoy his desserts and hey, the paycheck after days like this made a nice chunk of change in his bank account. His mind on what items he needed to get done for the next few days, he opened then shut his door, locked it and made sure to pick up the rose before he stepped all over it, crushing the fragile blooms. As he turned and walked to his car, he wondered who his mysterious admirer was.

Skylar’s day got off to a good start at work as he hummed a long with a local radio station playing 80’s rock bands while he rolled out dough for cookies, breads and made delicate fruit pastries. He was finally able to take a quick break around noon when the front sales person, Marlene, poked her head in the doorway saying they needed more pastry hearts. Seemed everyone was buying those desserts for their significant other, or ordering the smaller ones for class or office parties. He sighed as the fleeting dream of getting off his feet for ten minutes went on by as he got to work making more goodies. By the time five o’clock hit, Skylar was exhausted but pleased. They sold out of many of the Valentine themed items and the specialty breads were also almost gone. He made a note on the dry-erase board what needed to be replaced tomorrow and clocked out, waving to the front sales people as he went through the door to the parking lot.

Shivering as he hurried to his car, Skylar fumbled with his keys before unlocking the door and sliding into the seat. Turning the heat up on high, he waited a bit before putting his car in drive to go home. All he wanted to do was grab a shower, order a pizza and veg in front of the television. He was so exhausted it wasn’t funny. Watching couples come into the bakery or men buying items for their partners/girlfriends was a downer to be sure. He never liked Valentine’s Day to begin with. He felt it was a holiday that Hallmark cards liked so they could guilt people into buying cheesy cards and florist could raise the prices of roses so high it was mind boggling. He never had a nice Valentine’s Day where a lover surprised him with dinner or gave him something romantic or funny or sweet. He was always alone on Valentine’s day and he tried to make sure he didn’t have to deal with people who were so sugary sweet they made his teeth ache. Finally feeling the car heat up, he drove off determined to not think of hearts, flowers and all the things associated to Valentine’s Day. It was for couples, people in love and not for him.

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Book Review: When Noonday Ends by Carmen DeSousa

When Noonday Ends coverFor all of you Carmen DeSousa fans who have read Land of the Noonday Sun, you’ve already meet and fallen in love with one of the supporting characters, Tom Turner, the best friend of Chad Wilkinson. As you know, Tom was not left in a happy place.  Per fan request , Carmen wrote another novel, just for him, and the fans!

In Land of the Noonday Sun, readers we meet several secondary characters that leave you guessing as to ‘whodunit’.  The writing is so masterful that it’s hard to decide who’s the real bad guy. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, some plot twist pops up sending you in another direction, or the character you thought was the bad guy ends up being saving the day. In this case, that was Tom (okay, that was a mini spoiler, but believe me, there’s enough unmentioned characters to keep you guessing!). Saving the day left him with a broken heart and alone. Not to mention a memory that will haunt him for the rest of his life.

Which brings us to When Noonday Ends, the second book in the Nantahala Series.

Tom Turner is an attorney just out of law school and in the process of getting his feet wet. He doesn’t have a long list of winning major cases under his belt, and quite frankly, would rather be doing something else than be an attorney. But as most of us have done in our lives, we follow the dreams our parents set before us and  look longingly at the job or dream that would make us happy. For Tom, it’s getting back to nature and doing the one thing he did as a college student in the summer: be a white water rafting guide at his best friend, Chad’s business, or better yet, hike the Appalachian Trail. Anything to get away from the memory that haunts him.

Who knew the opportunity to escape his life and find love with come with representing a beautiful woman who’s charged with attempted murder?

Weird, huh?

Once again, Carmen has written a story filled with colorful characters mixed with a beautiful back drop marred only by murder, mystery, longing, desperate decisions, and family secrets. If you love suspense, romance, and happy endings a character has to work for, pick up a copy today. You’ll be glad you did!

My rating: *****

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense

Heat Level: ***(Just enough to get the heart racing and stir your imagination!)

Violence: PG

*** SPOILER ALERT!!! If you haven’t read Land of the Noonday Sun, you may want to stop here, buy it, then come back. You have been warned! *insert evil laugh here… 🙂 ***

Prologue

Sitting at the rear of the courtroom, Tom Turner’s mind wandered. One person after another approached the judge, claiming their innocence. He hated doing this, but the law firm where he worked required all new attorneys to accept hardship cases. To get your feet wet, they’d said.

Like his father before him, he’d chosen a career as an attorney. And for once in his life, his parents were actually proud of him.

Still, most attorneys spent their days off golfing. He couldn’t stand golf, but he’d give anything to be kayaking right now. Often he thought of changing careers, as his best friend Chad had done. He had thrown away four years of medical school to manage an outdoor store he’d inherited from his parents. Tom had always thought that it had been a stupid decision, but now he wondered. His best friend was married to a beautiful woman, had a son, and could kayak every day if he wanted.

What Tom really wanted was to take a few months off from life and hike the Appalachian Trail. After the year he’d had, he needed some time away from life—all life. But then, his parents would be disappointed, and he’d miss his niece, Samantha. His sister had been one of the wildest women he’d ever known. But since she’d had Sam, she’d finally settled down and was trying to be a good mother. Being a single mother wasn’t easy, and Michelle needed him. If only to give her at least one night a week to unwind.

Tom threw his head back and closed his eyes. Just the smell of the courthouse was grating on him today. The oil they’d used on the old wooden floors was giving him a migraine.

“No contest, Your Honor.” A soft country voice roused him from his brooding.

Tom forced his eyes to focus on the woman standing in front of the judge. It couldn’t be. The smooth blond hair, that beautiful country voice. Brandy? He shook his head to clear it. Brandy was dead; he’d shot her more than a year ago.

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Yep, you read that right, he killed someone!!! To find out what happened, read Land of the Noonday Sun. If you’d rather get straight to Tom,  buy When Noonday Ends.  But I tell you, both stories go hand in hand. Happy reading!!!

Now available in print and eBook formats:

 

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Amazon UK

3 Books

***For more information about When Noonday Ends, Land of the Noonday Sun, and other books bestselling books by Carmen DeSousa, visit her blog!***

New Release by Carmen DeSousa!

While Carmen does not write “Christian” books, she does share her characters’ Christian beliefs. Her characters are real people who come with real flaws; no perfect people allowed.

 She characterizes her stories as modern-day fairytales, as they are overflowing with romance, mystery, suspense, and of course, tragedy. After all, what would a fairytale be without a tragic event setting the stage? All of her novels are sensual, but not erotic, gripping but not graphic and will hopefully make you cry, laugh, love, and hope.

Her first two novels, She Belongs to Me and Land of the Noonday Sun, have reached bestseller status right alongside Nicholas Sparks, J.D. Robb, and other great authors. Her third novel, Entangled Dreams, is now available.

All of her novels are standalones; however, she does link each of her stories with a little surprise. If you read out of order, you’ll never notice. But if you read in order, it’s fun.

Carmen loves talking about all things books, so please connect with her via one of the links below.

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Book Review: Unsuitable Men by Nia Forrester

unsuitable

Tracy knows that Brendan is perfect for her. But only for now.

She has a list there’s no escaping that he doesn’t meet the most important requirements on it. Still, there’s nothing wrong with hanging out with him-or whatever it is they call what they’re doing- especially if it helps maintain her well-ordered life and curb some of her more self-destructive habits. At least until she meets a man more suitable for a serious, long-term attachment.

But soon, as secrets and lies from her past are exposed, Tracy begins to question whether she can ever be the kind of woman Brendan deserves.

And making matters worse, she’s beginning to wish more than anything that she could.

Visit Nia’s website to read chapter one and learn more about her books.

Oh where to begin?

As a Romance writer, I’ve found that I prefer Women’s Fiction more than the Chick Lit side of things (I write Women’s Fiction as well). The reason is because I  prefer to go deep into a characters mindset and discover what motivates them to do the things they do. Why did they make that mistake? Why react this way when they should have reacted another? What past experiences have scared them to the point that the results factor heavily in the decisions they make today?

Unsuitable Men tackles these things.

The story follows Tracy, who  learns a friend whom she’s lot touch with, Brendan, is in a relationship which could turn serious. Knowing his thoughts about relationships, she  is eaten up with curiosity to know who this new woman is. When they last saw each other, she knew what her ideal man would be like, and Brendan isn’t it. He, on the other hand, has no interest in being caught up with a woman for the rest of his life.  And as all relationships go when two people  are attracted to one another like magnets, it’s impossible to avoid the connection…until one day it ends.

Tracy and Brendan have a bit of back story  in a previous novel based on their mutual friends, Riley and Shawn. (Commitment, which is on my TBR list!). After stealing her way back into Brendan’s life, she finds herself right back where she was before: wanting a serious relationship but knowing he is not the on for her…even if they have fun together, a lot. After spending more time together, more than either of them planned, she can’t help but realize Brendan could be the one except he’s attached to the music industry…a business she has no intention of getting involved in, especially after watching what her best friend, Riley, endured when she dated a rapper, turned husband, Shawn. Even though Brandon is no longer Shawn’s manager, he is still tied to that lifestyle. Despite her willingness to work around that, one thing still holds her back: the realization that as much as she expects to find the perfect man, she knows  her questionable past will leave him looking at her in disgust.

Brendan has his own issues to face. The decision to get into a relationship is a big deal for him. If he’s going to do it, he wants to do it right. A good girl, who’s supportive, and perfect is exactly what he needs. The woman he was seeing casually before Tracy popped back up in his life was just right. Tracy is the complete opposite. Yet, no matter how hard he tries, avoiding her willingly isn’t something he wants to do. Moving forward for more isn’t on his to-do list either.  When Tracy drops a bomb in his lap about her past, he thinks he’ll be able to chalk it up to the past and move on. But questions plague him, forcing him to second guess her actions, leaving him frustrated with even knowing her. Not to mention he finds himself strung out in a way he never wanted to be about a woman.

Where will they go from here?

What I liked the most about this story is that while both Tracy and Brendan had well-paying jobs and access to the  best things in life, they didn’t live their lives hanging out spending unbelievable sums of money just because. They dig into their roots, spent time at home, lounged in sweat pants, watched marathons of their favorite TV shows, cooked dinner, and are just real. When it’s time to step out they do, but never hide the fact they would rather be doing the simple things instead.

I also liked the fact Nia explored how past scars can lead to bad decisions that stay with us for years. The only way to over come those scars is to pull them out of the closet, seek help, and face them head on. By the end of the novel, not only have the characters evolved into newer people, they know that in order for their relationship to continue to progress, they must work for it. The ending is realistic and not sugar-coated in unicorns and rainbows. Sometimes happily ever after doesn’t have to end with a ring.

My Rating: 5 Stars-for creativity, heartfelt story telling, and delving into a world of flashy exteriors while keeping it real. I am anxiously looking forward to reading more of her work!

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction, African-American  Romance

Heat Level: Hot! (Great bedroom scenes!)

Violence: None

 

 

 

Book Review: Entangled Dreams by Carmen DeSousa

First of all, I love the title….it makes me think of the twists and turns a story can take. One minute your happy, the next your sad. Confusion and mistrust, fear and anger are the images that come to my mind when I think of an entangled dream. Not to mention, the shattered image on the cover says it all.

For Alexandra, life used to be a fairy tale..full of the hopes and promises of youth. But sadly, events beyond her control quickly kill the dream, forcing her into a reality where she finds herself trapped in a relationship that is going nowhere, working hard to pay her bills, and unsure of what she should do next.

Until she meets Cameron. Polar opposites, neither of them are able to ignore the instant attraction. When exactly does a ‘good boy’ cross the line? What is it about Alexandra that draws him to her even while his mind is telling him to stay away?

A chance meeting, motorcycle ride, and a icy mixed with alcohol lead to an unexpected encounter that leaves them both wanting more. For Alexandra, it’s realizing her worth; for Cameron, a second chance at finding love.

What could possibly happen to entangle their new found dream?

Gotta read it to find out!

I am a big fan of Carmen’s books, not only because she is a friend, but because she has a masterful way of weaving a tale of suspense and mystery in the guise of romance! You’ll forget what type of story you’re reading until she reminds you with a scene that makes you go, “WHAT???”

If you haven’t read any of Carmen’s books, you don’t know what you’re missing! Mystery, Romance, Suspense, and so much more!

My Rating: *****
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Heat Level: Just the right amount of heat to send your imagination soaring!
Violence: PG13
Language: PG13

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