Sunday, 19 September 2010

My new blog: In the Spotlight

I have some news:

I just started a new blog, called In the Spotlight
I'll be doing post features on movies, TV shows, new DVD's and books.
My first post is a short rundown on my favourite episodes of the show Supernatural.

If any writers out there want a book spotlight, feel free to leave a comment and we'll talk about doing a feature.  Book spotlights will need a cover photo, a book blurb, author photo and bio.

Anyway, I hope you like the new blog and check it out. 

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

A blog award has been bestowed, twice!

I've been awarded again. The One Lovely Blog award has been bestowed upon me, this time by Jude Roust from Mad about Romance and by Renee Miller of the blog Dangling on the Edge of (In)Sanity.

This is how the award works:

Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.

Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.

Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

I have choosen fifteen blogs I discovered over on Goodreads.com.  They range from blogs about YA, sci-fi, erotic romance, book blogs and a few things in-between.

I pass along this award to:
  1. the writer's notebook
  2. Noctural Musings
  3. Thoughts on YA books for the not-so-young adult
  4. Blkosiner's Book Blog
  5. Letters from Sandra
  6. YA Addict
  7. Love Stories
  8. Just Bookin' Around
  9. Jacquelyn Wheeler's Blog
  10. Maeve Greyson
  11. Keta's Keep
  12. The Bridge Chronicles
  13. Bitsy Bling's Book Review
  14. Anna's Obsession
  15. Emma Michaels
 

Monday, 13 September 2010

Vampire Kisses: An Interview with author Elizabeth J. Kolodziej

 Today, author Elizabeth J. Kolodziej is stopping by as part of her virtual book tour to talk about her book, Vampyre Kisses, and about writing.  And be sure to check out the link at the bottom of the page for her Contest Giveaway.

An Interview with author Elizabeth J. Kolodziej:


1. Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

Well, my name is Elizabeth J. Kolodziej (pronounced Ko-La-G). I am a newly self published author. My book is entitled Vampyre Kisses and it is a paranormal YA romance. So the reviews keep telling me. It is a book filled with awesome Greek Mythology along with vampiric folklore. I think it is a great mix. The best thing to me is my character, Faith, who finds out she is a witch. Mostly because there don’t seem to be too many books with witches and vampires anymore.


2. How long have you been writing? Did you always desire to make it your line of work?

I have been writing short stories, research papers, reviews, and everything else since I have been a little tot. I did not always want this to be my line of work though. When I was little I dreamed of being an actress on Broadway, but writing just took over my life.


3. Can you tell us about your latest book.

Of course! Take a look at the synopsis:

Vampyre Kisses is an enthralling story about a young woman named Faith, who was content with her life, but deep down craved more excitement. Then a mysterious man named Trent enters her life and everything changes. Surprising to Faith, Trent is a green-eyed vampire from Ireland. She is even more surprised to find out that she is a witch, and the last of her kind.

Faith finds out that she is destined to restore her witch line and becomes more powerful as she gains confidence and knowledge, but danger lurks everywhere. Especially when unknown assailants steal the most important gems from the vampire master and werewolf royalty.
Now surrounded by a world full of mystifying vampires and werewolves, can Faith gain enough power to help her friends and rescue the stolen gems?


4. Why did you decide to write in the fantasy genre? What is the hardest part of writing fantasy fiction?

My mother grew me up on fantasy. Witches and magic being my favorite. It was just always a big part of my life and fantasy is what I knew best. So it was natural for me to write about it. The hardest part of writing fantasy is offering something new to readers. Sometimes I would get the feeling that my book had nothing new to offer readers. But in reality it is very different from what is going around right now. Mostly due to the extensive mythology and folklore that is offered in the book.


5. Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas originate? Do you have a certain writing routine?

I write when I feel that itch to do it. When I try to write when I do not feel like it not much comes out. Normally I can get a couple thousand words out when I am writing at night.
My ideas come from everything around me, but mostly my huge imagination. I watch movies and say what if it was like that but with this twist and then it ends up being something completely different and I love it. Just everything around me gives me ideas. From music to movies to books to the people who are in my life.
My writing routine is basically trying to write at least 500 words a day, which is sometimes difficult for me cause I work a 40 hour work week as an office manager. But I try to make due with what free time I do have.


6. What is your greatest challenge as a writer?

My greatest challenge would have to be getting over writer’s block. When it hits me it hits me hard. I use to have one friend in particular that I could turn to but that has changed. So now I just bug all of my friends and whine to them about it.


7. How do you research your books?

I read … A LOT! I mean I have so many books that it is starting to take up most of my bedroom. I just read and pick and chose what I like and then find another book that talks more about what I chose. I also do a lot of research on the Internet and talk to writer friends and readers about what they think might work.


8. What advice would you give beginning writers?

Do not give up on your idea. If you think its good write it all out and finish the book. You are going to be criticized, sometimes harshly, but you just got to keep on doing what you believe is right.


9. Who has inspired you as an author?

Lots of people, music, books, and things, everything around me inspires me. I am always looking to people in my life to give me ideas or hints of an idea. I never shy away from the unknown and I think that is what helps my imagination the most.


10. What’s next for you?

I am working on the sequel to the first book. I am not sure what I am going to called it yet though. Having a little bit of trouble with that. But it will have more to do with the werewolves and their history. Lots of great werewolf folklore will be added, which as been a lot of fun for me to research so far.

I have really enjoyed this interview. Thank you so much for having me!

You can find Elizabeth on FacebookTwitter and at the Vampyre Kisses website


Where to buy the book:


Publisher’s Website: http://bit.ly/9aYtXo
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/dpJsLC
Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/byci6O
Kindle: http://amzn.to/bMzSKN
Amazon.ca: http://www.amazon.ca/Vampyre-Kisses-Elizabeth-J-Kolodziej/dp/1609116054

Website: http://www.vampyrekisses.com/

Giveaway Contest: http://www.vampyrekisses.com/?page_id=511

Saturday, 11 September 2010

A Mystery with Heart: A Review of Healey's Cave

My Book Review of Healey's Cave by Aaron Paul Lazar:

Healey’s Cave by Aaron Paul Lazar is a wonderful, mellow mystery, gently wrapped in a mist of paranormal phenomenon. This is not your typical whodunit with detectives, amateur or professional; it is more of an absorbing unravelling of secrets, heartbreak and murder.
“It had been this way for fifty years. Fifty years of longing for the truth, of missing his little brother.”
Healey’s Cave centers on Sam Moore, his family, friends and the unsolved childhood disappearance of his brother Billy. When a grisly discovery reopens Billy’s case and links it to a serial killer, long kept secrets and fresh danger start spilling into Sam’s life. If that wasn’t bad enough, the unearthing of a strange green marble is pulling Sam back into the past to his and Billy’s childhood. Is Sam time-travelling, going crazy or is Billy’s spirit trying to tell him the awful truth? That a killer might be closer than he thinks.
“He fingered the warm glass and removed it from his pocket. It glowed softly. An eerie, green circle of light surrounded him. He felt protected as he approached the form sitting on the outcropping of rocks near the back wall.”
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, from its engaging plot, to the realistic setting and characterization. Even the haunting paranormal aspects of the book meld seamlessly and add an extra depth to the story; the supernatural side of the plotline is not overplayed. The reader may wonder at the how of the strange happenings caused by a small green marble, but there is never a feeling of being cheated. The author is very skilled at convincing you of the urgency and the need of these inexplicable events. The rest of the book satisfies as well, with the mystery elements pulling just enough twists and turns (plus one or two red herrings) to keep you guessing. There are ample suspects, a demented killer, motives, tragedies, and a bittersweet conclusion to gratify the average mystery lover.

However, the best part of the novel is contained in the rich depiction of the characters and their interaction. These characters are three-dimensional, well portrayed people, be they strong and family oriented, flawed with secrets or the puzzling dark villain. And they live in a world just as fully realised; you can almost smell the fragrant flowers on a wafting country breeze as you read the words.

Healey’s Cave is a superb book that anyone should take pleasure in reading.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Mysteries and Green Marbles: An Interview with Aaron Paul Lazar

Today's feature is a real treat. 
Mystery author, Aaron Paul Lazar, has kindly made a stop here at my blog on his virtual book tour to talk about his new paranormal mystery, Healey's Cave, writing and other tasty tidbits.    So please welcome Aaron Paul Lazar...


An Interview with Aaron Paul Lazar:

1. Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

Hello, Anita. It’s great to be here. Here are a few facts about me:
  • I’m first and foremost a husband, father, and grandfather. I love nature, kids, animals, classical, blues, folks, and sixties rock music, French Impressionist art, gardening, cooking, and photography. Oh, and I guess we ought to throw in reading and writing into the mix!
  • I’ve lived in the beautiful Genesee Valley region in western NY, near the Finger Lakes. Many of my books are set right here, in the lush fields, woods, gorges, and gardens.
  • I’m a lot like my two main characters, Sam Moore (MooreMysteries.com) and Gus LeGarde (LeGardeMysteries.com). My characters are similar to my father, who was a classical music professor, pianist, massive gardener, and a great chef. Therefore, we’re all kind of a bizarre and interesting amalgam. ;o)
  • I believe that readers can enjoy a thrilling ride with a tale told in a relatively wholesome way, versus gratuitous gore and meaningless sex. Although some people like that. LOL. Not that I don’t have a few juicy scenes between Gus and his new wife – after all Gus goes through, I figure he deserves some loving!
  • I’ve written ten LeGarde Mysteries, three Moore Mysteries, and am also currently writing book two from my Tall Pines Mysteries series. (not yet submitted to publishers).
  • I love to connect with my readers and am always accessible at: aaron.lazar@yahoo.com
Here are the books that are under contract for publishing, for the first two series. The rest are in the queue or waiting to be submitted until the time is right.

  
LEGARDE MYSTERIES:
DOUBLE FORTE' (2004)
UPSTAGED (2005)
TREMOLO: CRY OF THE LOON (2007)
MAZURKA (2009)
FIRESONG (2010)

MOORE MYSTERIES: 
HEALEY'S CAVE (2010) 
ONE POTATO, BLUE POTATO (2011) 
FOR KEEPS (2012)


And here are a few awards, plus my website addresses: 
Preditors&Editors Top 10 Finalist * Yolanda Renee's Top Ten Books 2008 * MYSHELF Top Ten Reads 2008 * Writers' Digest Top 101 Website Award 2009 & 2010


http://www.mooremysteries.com/
http://www.murderby4.blogspot.com/
http://www.aaronlazar.blogspot.com/
http://www.aplazar.gather.com/

And here are a few credentials:

My columns and articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine, Absolute Write, Mystery Fiction, and Great Mystery and Suspense magazine. I’m also co-owner on a Writer’s Digest Best 101 Websites blog, www.murderby4.blogspot.com. I’m well versed in self-promotion, and have an extensive marketing plan that includes frequent appearances at book clubs and library events, and promotion on my award-winning websites and blogs. In addition, I exclusively sign and sell books at Heron Hill Winery overlooking Keuka Lake, in Hammondsport, NY.


2. When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

Hmmm. Good question. That part of my life sort of “evolved” over time. I always loved to write, from high school on. And I was an avid mystery reader since elementary school. Somewhere in my twenties, I knew I’d write a mystery series “some day”. I figured it would be when my children were grown and I retired.
Boy, was I wrong. When eight people in my life died within five years, I needed the solace writing brought. Being able to “control” a parallel universe was immensely therapeutic!


3. Can you tell us about your latest book, Healy's Cave.

I’d love to tell you about Healey’s Cave. First of all, here’s a synopsis:

Sam Moore's little brother vanished fifty years ago. No body. No answers. What Sam has is a boatload of guilt, since he failed to accompany Billy on his final, fateful bike ride. 
While digging in his garden, Sam discovers a green marble with a startling secret—it whisks him back to his childhood, connecting him to Billy. Thrust back and forth through time, Sam struggles to unlock the secret of his brother’s fate.

When the FBI investigates remains found nearby, Sam learns of a serial killer with a grisly fifty-year record. Sam’s certain it’s Billy’s killer. But what’s worse, his grandson fits the profile of the murdered boys. Will the killer return to Sam’s town to claim his final kill? Can Sam untangle the truth in time to save him?
And here’s where Healey’s Cave came from:

I blame the book on my wife.

I was minding my own business, wrapping up the fifth novel in the LeGarde Mystery series, when she turned to me and said, “You need to write a book from the killer’s point of view.”
I laughed out loud. I’d always written in first person, from a man whose character was diametrically opposed to villains. He was a good man, a man I admired and wanted to share with the world. Sure, he had his faults, but how could I switch from that kind of mindset to the inner thoughts of a killer?
Dale reads Stephen King and James Patterson. She loves psychological thrillers and even a little horror. Not like me with my relatively wholesome mysteries that skirt around the gruesome details of murder.
I put aside the thought until shortly thereafter, while rototilling my garden, I unearthed a green marble, a cat’s eye. I held it in my hand and wondered about the little boy or girl who lost it. I imagined how neat it would be to be able to hold the marble tight in my hand and have it whisk me back in time to the boy’s life. I’d be able to see what he saw, walk beside him, and maybe witness some horrible crime. And what if the villain was still alive today? What if he was my next-door neighbor?
That was all it took to dislodge me from the LeGarde Mysteries for a few months. With my wife’s urging, I gave into the desire to create a new world. I didn’t expect it to turn into another series. But it did. 
This is book one in the green marble series, otherwise known as Moore Mysteries. And yes, I blame my wife for the whole thing.


4. Why did you decide to combine the mystery genre and the paranormal genre for your new book series?

You know, Anita, I never even thought about the fact that my new series was going to be considered a paranormal mystery. I just thought it was a mystery, like all my other books. Then, when certain critique partners started reading along with me, one of them in particular (Lesia Valentine), chastised me for not telling her I had written a paranormal mystery, as she had done. 
I laughed out loud – I never really thought of the time-travel aspect of this book as paranormal. Then I thought a little harder. I did have Billy contacting Sam from “beyond” and what the heck would that be, except paranormal! ;o) But the whole mystery nature of the book was so strong that it couldn’t be labeled as simply a paranormal. Thus the label, paranormal mystery.


5. Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas originate? Do you have a certain writing routine?

I love talking about this part of writing, Anita.

My ideas come from everywhere. From family, movies, books, the news, and traumas my friends experience. Whenever I hear a new bit of odd news, or read a story that seems too weird to be true, or hear about unusual pain or horrors that people are going through in the “real” world, it sparks ideas within me. I often analyze my own fears, and turn those into themes.
How awful would it be to be stuck in an asylum, particularly fifty years ago? (Healey’s Cave).
How frightening to lose track of a toddler grandson, especially when you know there’s a villain who has it in for you? (Double Forte’)
How horrifying to run into neo-Nazis during your Parisian honeymoon and spend the rest of the summer either being chased or imprisoned by them? How would I react to being lost in the pitch black, hundreds of feet underground? Or have my car pushed and shoved into an alpine lake, while I drove it? (Mazurka)
Or lose my little brother, and never know what happened to him? (Healey’s Cave)
Or be chained to a wall in a flooding underground salt mine? (Firesong)
Or, or, or…. You get the point.

Life itself inspires me, and as soon as a new idea comes to mind, the “what ifs” start flowing.


6. What is your greatest challenge as a writer?

My greatest challenge is saying “no” to requests for help or reviews. Don’t get me wrong – I take quite a few fledgling writers under my wing. I’ve spent lots of time giving them advice, helping with their manuscripts, nudging them in the proper directions for publishing or promotion. I’ve written hundreds of articles about writing, etc. with tons of advice freely given.  
But I can’t do it all. And it pains me when I have to turn down a request for a review. Just to set the story straight, I only review mysteries (with a few exceptions), and it’s after I’ve fallen in love with the first chapter or a sample of the writing. I only do this about six times per year. It all takes away from my own writing time, naturally.
Finding a balance isn’t hard, it’s just hard for me to say “Sorry, I can’t take that on right now.”


7. How do you research your books?

Lots of what I write just comes out of my own personal experience. When I do need to research, (for example, to remember the street names in Paris, or to learn about the Catacombs underground, etc.) I use the Internet. It’s so easy. I am constantly looking up facts, names, places, photos of stuff from the fifties and sixties. I remember a lot, but I need memory joggers, too.  Four of my books involve either life in the sixties (Tremolo: cry of the loon), or flashbacks to that general era. (Healey’s Cave, One Potato, Blue Potato, For Keeps.)


8. What advice would you give beginning writers?

  •  Read, read, read. Read in the genre you plan to write. And read some more. 
  •  Write every day. Even if it’s for fifteen minutes. After that, join online or real life writing groups and try to earn critique partners.  
  •  Share with others, help them with their writing, and learn from those who are willing to help. 
  •  Plan to give back when you “get there”, and remember how wonderful it was to have an established writer help you when you were a fledgling writer.
I have many detailed articles on nitty gritty writing advice up on Gather.com at http://www.aplazar.gather.com/. You’ll have to page through the years of articles to find all of them, but I promise there are great little pearls of writing wisdom there that I’ve learned from my own mentors. ;o) And if you have a question, feel free to ask. I don’t know all the answers, but I know where to go to check it out.


9. Who are your influences? What writers inspire you?

I adore the following writers: John D. MacDonald (his Travis McGee series), Dean Koontz (his Odd Thomas series is my favorite), Dick Francis, Clive Cussler, Laurie R. King (her Mary Russell series), Peter Mayle, James Patterson, Rex Stout, and many, many more.


10. What’s the next project for you?

I’m currently working on my fifteenth book, a paranormal mystery set in the Adirondack mountains, featuring Marcella and Tony Hollister, a couple who actually live on Honeoye Lake and run an antique shop there. When Marcella’s agoraphobic friend, Callie, receives a package from her long missing brother, Sky, the contents set in place a series of murders, threats, and mysteries that culminate in a heart-pounding finale in the forests of the Adirondack Mountains. One of the themes woven into the story involves essential oils, and how miraculous their properties are. I’ve recently become enamored with Young Living Essential Oils and am excited about the “new” one I’ve discovered in this story.
After this is done, I plan to collaborate with a friend on a book he’s already started regarding tips on how to find a job in this economy. He was one of my advisors when I was in “job search” mode, and I admire him greatly. It’ll be interesting to help with a non-fiction work, my very first.

Anita, thank you for having me here today. It’s been fun!

Aaron Paul Lazar


Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. The author of LeGarde Mysteries and Moore Mysteries enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his websites at http://www.legardemysteries.com/ and http://www.mooremysteries.com/ and watch for his upcoming release, HEALEY’S CAVE, coming August 28th, 2010.

You can find Healey's Cave at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.
All of Aaron Paul Lazar's books are available through his websites. 

Monday, 6 September 2010

Into the Land of Cyber-punk: A Book Review of "Under the Amoral Bridge"

My Review of Under the Amoral Bridge by Gary A. Ballard:

Cyber-punk, near-future sci-fi, urban-sci-fi, any one of those terms could describe Under the Amoral Bridge by Gary A. Ballard. It could also be described as a good yarn featuring an ambiguous, yet relatable, main character.
“‘I know a guy,’ were the only important words Artemis Bridge uttered these days. All of his conversations with those words were a carefully choreographed dance routine, each step planned out in advance with only rare deviations from his expectations.”
The plot centers around Artemis Bridge, a slightly shady go-between who can get you what you want, be it illegal or immoral. It is business as usual until one of his deals goes sour and he finds himself with killers on his tail and in possession of information he doesn’t want.
“A trashcan slammed into his forehead loudly, sending the gun and its owner flying. Bridge rolled over and sucked in precious, stinking air, his face caked with alley mud. At first, the sounds of scuffle barely penetrated the veil of pain, but his head finally cleared enough to comprehend the scene.”
The book is a fairly standard cyber-punk sci-fi novel, but it does have a nice touch of nihilistic cynicism set in a scruffy, corrupt future. The characters are well-rounded, with the focal character neither heroic nor completely indifferent; he is just a guy trying to get himself out of a bad situation in one piece. Also, the author does do a splendid job of painting his future world, a gritty, dark place full of people turned jaded, corrupt or apathetic. The book isn’t perfect, though; the review copy had a few formatting mistakes and typos, if nothing major or overly distracting, but the novel itself was worth ignoring a few errors.

Under the Amoral Bridge started life on the blogs as serial fiction, but it translates well to book form and it is a satisfying, entertaining read.


Under the Amoral Bridge is the first in a series of books entitled The Bridge Chronicles.  For more information on The Bridge Chronicles check out the official blog:  http://amoralbridge.blogspot.com/

Under the Amoral Bridge is available in print through Amazon.com and Amazon.ca as well as an ebook on Kindle and Smashwords.



Note: I received a free copy of this book for review.