Monday, November 28, 2011

Leaving England & Gratitude Giveaway Winners

Wow, I can’t believe the last 10 days have flown by and it is the end of the Gratitude Giveaway hop. I used this time to take a break from blogging as I scramble to move across the Atlantic with two dogs. Even though I’ve done it before, it is an exhausting process with numerous details to track. Today is the last day for the movers to finish packing up our household goods, and then it is hotel time until we fly out.

Before I get to the winners of the giveaway, I wanted to share my top five things I’ll miss about living in England as I prepare to head to Florida.

What I’ll miss most about England:

1. The countryside. The verdant fields are absolutely breathtaking. I adore long walks in the parks with the dogs along paths that stretch for miles. Even when it’s damp or cool outside, which is most of the time, there’s something so peaceful and rejuvenating about it. Back in the states, if I’m out alone with the dogs, I usually listen to my iPod. However, here, I feel like I’m cheating myself out of the full experience if I dare don headphones. I can walk for hours, actually absorbed in nature.

2. The proximity to the rest of Europe and the ease of traveling. Paris is just three hours away by train on the Eurostar. Less than two hours on a plane will get you to Venice, Italy or Nice, France for the weekend. Although this is something we only indulged in three to four times a year, I think I might miss this most of all. The only reason I didn’t list it first is the expense of taking holidays. Jaunting off to Germany or Spain is fun, but adds up.

3. A perfect sunny day. They are so rare here that their infrequency demands heartfelt appreciation, but when they do occur, my oh my, they are glorious indeed. After living in Florida, I admit I took warm, sunny days for granted. They’re so common they eventually blend together. England renewed my childlike awe and gratitude for the little things, like sunshine.

4. Being immersed in a different culture outside my comfort box. Yes, England is pretty darn close to my comfort box, relatively speaking. Residing in Germany was a far greater adjustment. I can only imagine what it would be like in Africa or Asia. However, as an American, specifically a New Yorker, I’ve grown spoiled and accustomed to a particular way of life. Living in a house with no closets is a “hardship”, not being able to go to the mall at 8pm on a Friday or Saturday because the stores close early is an “inconvenience”, and showing up at a 24hr Asda (think Walmart) to find it closed because 24hr does not mean 7 days a week is “frustrating.” Yet, I’ve enjoyed the differences, big and small, the break from American media and politics, taking the time for a proper English Tea, and putting forth a little effort to appreciate the beauty of a slightly different way of life.

5. Cambridge Arts Picturehouse. A funky movie theater with a cafĂ© in the heart of Cambridge, specializing in independent and artsy films. Unlike the local monster movie chain, Cineworld, at the Picturehouse we could pick our seats when purchasing tickets. No need to show up early for the movie and wait in a line since we already knew exactly where we’d be sitting. They also serve beer and wine, which you can take into the theater with you, and offer discounts on tickets, drinks, and food when you become a member. Of course, there is also the annual film festival that never failed to surprise and entertain.

It’s been an amazing four years in England! I’m really going to miss it.

Now, what most of you have anxiously been waiting for, the results of the Gratitude Giveaway.

Chosen at random, the winner of the $10 Amazon gift card or equal value from The Book Depository:

Teressa Oliver

Winner of the $15 Amazon gift card or equal value from The Book Depository:


I also selected a THIRD WINNER based on comments:

Linda Henderson, you have won a $15 Amazon gift card

Congratulations to the winners! I’ll send you emails later today notifying you that you won.

Thank you to all followers. I hope you’ll join me often and of course stop by for the next giveaway. For those who stop by regularly, please bear with me for another week or so as I bounce around hotels, chase after a solid internet connection, and fly ten hours across an ocean.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gratitude Giveaway Blog Hop

This Gratitude Giveaway is a thank you to the followers of my blog and on Twitter. I am appreciative of your support and hope newcomers will join and continue to return.

Of course this giveaway blog hop would not be possible without I AM A READER and All-Consuming Books. Thanks for hosting.

The rules are super simple this time and no form to fill out:

1. You must be a follower of my blog OR on Twitter to enter. No need to follow me on both to be eligible, but I’d be grateful.

2. Leave a comment letting me know if you are following me on my blog, Twitter, or both, AND tell me something you are grateful for.

3. Please be sure to include your blog follower name and/or twitter handle in the comment for verification.

4. Leave an email address so I can contact you in case you win.

TWO winners will be chosen using I’m giving away a $10 and a $15 Amazon gift card or that value from The Book Depository.

This international giveaway ends 2359 EST (Eastern Standard Time) 27 Nov. A winner will be announced no later than noon EST on 28 Nov.

To see a list of all participating blogs in this hop, click HERE.

Don't forget to let me know what you're grateful for!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Miserere Giveaway and More

I promised a winner of the autographed copy of Miserere by Teresa Frohock, so let’s get right to it.

Chosen using, the winner is:

Daniel Marvello

Congratulations, Daniel! I’ll send you a note on Twitter letting you know that you won.

Thanks again to Teresa for coming on and for the great giveaway.

In the United States, Veterans Day is a time to recognize and honor all who have served in the armed forces, both living and dead. It’s also a great opportunity to thank those who once served in the military or continue to do so. You may not encounter anyone in the service today, but when a member eventually crosses your path, please take 30 seconds to say something simple like “Thank you for your service.” It’s easy, free, doesn’t take much time, but will have a lasting impact that individual will appreciate.

Sometimes the little things mean a great deal.

To all of my brothers and sisters in arms:

Thank you for fighting for our freedom, the preservation of our way of life, and the protection of our country.

Is Veterans Day just another Federal holiday for you where you enjoy a day off from work? Do you send cards to hospitalized veterans or perhaps make a visit to your local veterans hospital?

If it’s something you’ve never considered but would still like to do something nice for those serving the military, please try the Holiday Mail for Heroes program sponsored by the Red Cross. You can send one holiday card or as many as you’d like.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Debut Author: Teresa Frohock

I have never purchased a book solely based on the cover, until I stumbled upon this one:

The killer cover art intrigued me immediately, along with the title since I knew the meaning. I had to know the story about the man kneeling and why the dark-haired woman glared at him with such hatred or mistrust. Not to mention everyone had a sword and their shirt on, which to me was a good sign there’d be more plot than sex.

After I bought it, I read the blurb, then went straight to my Kindle to start reading. And I’m so glad I did. This is going on my list of favorites for the year.

I loved the richly drawn characters, the unique world, and the layers of conflict that kept me turning the pages. I’m ecstatic the talented Teresa Frohock agreed to come on to discuss her complex and compelling debut novel that captivated me from start to finish.

IR: In 50 words or less, how would you describe Miserere?

TF: Miserere is an adult fantasy about Lucian, a man who betrays his lover in order to save his sister. When Lucian finds that his lover Rachael is dying, Lucian overcomes his fear of his sister so that he can find Rachael and destroy the demon he unleashed on her soul.

IR: What inspired you to write this particular book?

TF: A dream, actually. I had this really cool dream where a tall, Slavic man in medieval garb talked to a boy dressed in modern clothing. Beyond the city where they stood was a dark forest and in the forest was a sign nailed to a tree that read: Jesus Saves. Beneath the sign was a fender from an older model car and on the fender was the bumper sticker: Nobody Saves You More Than Winn Dixie.

That juxtaposition of the religious and the secular intrigued me. I love reading and writing fantasy, so I thought about ways to examine those concepts and Miserere slowly evolved out of that initial framework.

IR: How many agents did you query for this book before receiving an offer of representation? And how did you deal with rejection/criticism?

TF: I queried four agents before I signed with Weronika and every rejection, no matter how kindly worded, was like a kick in the gut. I don't believe you ever become inured to it. Of course, I understood that it wasn't me they were rejecting, nor was it my writing. It was just that particular novel. Still, every rejection was a slap. Then the feeling would fade and I would send out the next round of queries. I knew Miserere would be a tough sell because the story could easily be mistaken for Christian fiction even though it is not.

IR: How long was the book on submission with editors before you received an offer? And how did you maintain your sanity while waiting?

TF: Miserere was on submission for about six weeks before it was picked up by Night Shade Books. I maintained my sanity like all writers do, by checking my email every twenty minutes for the first five days. Then I realized nothing productive was coming from that behavior, so I resorted to researching my next novel and writing a synopsis for it.

IR: You created such a unique world or should I say Woerld with a fascinating mythos. Your evocative storytelling and rich descriptions brought the characters and environment to life. What research did you do for this novel?

TF: Oh, man. I read a lot of Eastern Orthodox texts that had been translated to English to acquire the tone I wanted for Lucian's voice. I've always had an interest in religion, but it wasn't until I started working on Miserere that I realized how little I actually knew about Christianity. I had what I call the sound-bite education—that is where all my information came from the snips and bits that I heard online or while I was growing up.

When I started really researching the roots of Christianity and how Christian beliefs were formed, I developed an entirely different appreciation for the religion, especially for women's roles in early Christianity. I wanted to capture those early beliefs from the days before Christianity became mired in wealth and politics and intertwine them with good old fashioned fantasy magic.

I also read about Slavic vampire lore. One excellent source for me was The Darkling: A Treatise on Slavic Vampirism by Jan Louis Perkowski. The Slavic vampire was more of a sexual predator, and I tried to reflect that in Catarina’s character.

In order to learn about exorcisms, I read several sources, but really enjoyed Armando Maggi’s Satan’s Rhetoric: A Study of Renaissance Demonology. I’ll stop there. I could go on for paragraphs. Research is one of my favorite parts of writing.

IR: Although this is not a horror book, some scenes, especially the ones depicting possession were wonderfully eerie. What scene or chapter was the hardest to write?

TF: Believe it or not, anything with the kid. Lindsay was the hardest character for me to write, because I don't remember what it was like to be twelve. I'm more like Rachael in that respect and trying to write someone young and innocent really threw for a loop. My agent, Weronika, was super about pointing out what needed to be fixed with Lindsay and she really helped me ratchet down on that kid.

Oddly enough, the more violent scenes were the easiest for me to write. I really enjoyed writing Lucian’s walk through the Ierusal Barren and the exorcism scene. Those were my favorites.

IR: Did you have any doubts or concerns about the marketability of this novel with the religious/spiritual aspect at the center of the story?

TF: Oh, yeah. I still do as a matter of fact. A lot of people see "Christian" and their brains shut off. They don't give the story a chance, so they don't realize it's not a novel about religion, but about a man. Justin Landon really discussed this frankly in his review of Miserere at his blog Staffer’s Musings and he said it the best: “Miserere while grounded in Christian myths isn't really about religion.”

I didn’t even start out with the Citadel being Christian; it all stemmed from Lucian and the character biography I created for him. Given that he was from Wallachia in the twelfth century, it was almost certain that he would Eastern Orthodox. I could have twisted things around, but it wouldn’t have been Lucian. I just knew in my gut that this character was Christian and if I wrote him any other way, it would be a betrayal to the character and the story I wanted to create.

I had resigned myself to the fact that if the Christian character meant the novel never sold, then so be it. I will write other novels, but there will be only one Lucian and his story was not about religion but about the redemption love can bring. I figured if people were too dense to see that, then I had no business writing.

I’ve been so wonderfully surprised at the reception to Miserere. A couple of reviewers haven’t understood the novel, but an overwhelming majority of reviewers have, and they have given Miserere marvelous reviews.

IR: What can we expect from the sequel without you giving too much away?

TF: We're going to Hell.

No, really. Most of the novel will take place in Hell.

I’m not being evasive, but that’s about all I can say without giving too much away. Dolorosa: A Winter’s Dream will be more about Rachael and her point of view. She hasn’t taken Lucian back; she has only offered him a chance to win her trust again. There are other men who are equally interested in winning the attention of the fiercely intelligent Rachael. Everything is up for grabs and Lucian knows it.

IR: What message/theme do you want readers to grasp?

TF: I think everyone has been taking something a little different from Miserere and I don’t want to ruin that. Romance readers have loved the romance between Lucian and Rachael; young-adult readers are a little confused, because they tend to identify strongly with Lindsay, who has a very small role this novel [Lindsay’s time will come in the third novel, Bellum Dei]; genre fans like the horror and world-building; and people who don’t normally read fantasy have really enjoyed Lucian’s story of redemption.

I wanted to write a novel about redemption. If people take more away, that’s wonderful. My biggest goal was to make readers forget their troubles while they fell into Lucian’s story, anything after that is icing.

IR: Do you use critique partners and/or beta readers?

TF: Absolutely. I need the feedback, especially in the early stages. Once I roll into the climax of the novel, I feel like I have the story under control, but those first chapters are killers for me.

IR: When is your next book coming out? And what are you currently working on?

TF: Currently, I'm writing on spec, which means I am not contracted for another novel with anyone. I'm working on a novel that is tentatively entitled The Garden. Going back to the concerns about Miserere, I didn’t think it would be wise to start a sequel to a novel that people might not like. So I decided to work on a different novel while we were waiting to see what happened with Miserere. I enjoy writing The Garden; it's kind of a perverted Beauty and the Beast story, and it's about acceptance.

IR: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

TF: Write. Write and remain teachable. Those are the only two things I can tell someone. I read anything I can get my eyes on regarding story and plot. I read in and outside my genre, and I’m always willing to try new things.

Most importantly, have fun, because you will never be rich doing this.

IR: Okay, two final, fun questions. If money wasn’t a factor, what would be your dream vacation?

TF: SPAIN! I would live in Spain for a year. Then I would travel all over the world. I’d love to see Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

IR: What is one daring thing you’ve done in your life or something about you that readers would be surprised to learn (if you don’t mind sharing)?

TF: Hmm, must be legal … I was a real hellcat when I was a younger woman, and I loved to drive fast cars. I’m invoking the Fifth on everything else.

Thank you so much for inviting me for this interview, Isis! Your questions were a lot of fun.

Thanks for coming on!

Teresa will GIVEAWAY AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY TO ONE LUCKY COMMENTER. The winner will be announced on Friday.

Raised in a small town, Teresa Frohock learned to escape to other worlds through the fiction collection of her local library. She eventually moved away from Reidsville and lived in Virginia and South Carolina before returning to North Carolina, where she currently resides with her husband and daughter.

Teresa has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying. Miserere: An Autumn Tale is her debut novel.

Teresa can be found most often at her blog and website. Every now and then, she heads over to Tumblr and sends out Dark Thoughts, links to movies and reviews that catch her eye. You can also follow Teresa on Twitter and join her author page on Facebook.

Miserere: An Autumn Tale

Exiled exorcist Lucian Negru deserted his lover in Hell in exchange for saving his sister Catarina's soul, but Catarina doesn't want salvation. She wants Lucian to help her fulfill her dark covenant with the Fallen Angels by using his power to open the Hell Gates. Catarina intends to lead the Fallen’s hordes out of Hell and into the parallel dimension of Woerld, Heaven’s frontline of defense between Earth and Hell.

When Lucian refuses to help his sister, she imprisons and cripples him, but Lucian learns that Rachael, the lover he betrayed and abandoned in Hell, is dying from a demonic possession. Determined to rescue Rachael from the demon he unleashed on her soul, Lucian flees his sister, but Catarina's wrath isn’t so easy to escape. In the end, she will force him once more to choose between losing Rachael or opening the Hell Gates so the Fallen's hordes may overrun Earth, their last obstacle before reaching Heaven's Gates.

Read the FIRST FOUR CHAPTERS of Miserere FREE here

You can also check out the book trailer here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Holiday Fever and Giveaway!

First up today, the winner of Anita Clenney’s giveaway of her second book in her bestselling paranormal romance series:


Congratulations, June! Please contact Anita at to receive your free copy of Embrace the Highland Warrior.

There are so many things that I’m looking forward to this holiday season. Even though November just started, I thought I share a few with you.

5. Clarisonic Blue Plus Deep Pore Cleansing System. It uses oscillation technology to cleanse the skin 6x better to give a healthier, more radiant complexion. It has three speeds, three brush heads, and I think I’m a little too eager to get my hands on it. I’ve heard and read so many amazing things about this product I can’t wait to get one. (Hopefully my hubs is reading this post and will mark this item for upcoming birthday or Christmas item *wink, wink*).

4. Sunshine in Tampa, FL and a snow-free winter. I’ve endured some of England’s worst winters in history! And did I mention I’m not a fan of snow. Bring on the sunshine.

3. There are a ton of new book releases for Nov and Dec, from big publishers, small press, and indie authors. I have a long list, but without a doubt the one book I’m most excited to read is the urban fantasy Shaedes of Gray by Amanda Bonilla coming out in Dec.

2. Last year when I read an article that Angelina Jolie decided to put on a director’s cap and make a movie, I believe I sighed quite loudly. Of course I’d go see her directorial masterpiece just to satisfy my curiosity. Then I saw a preview for it and people let me tell you, I was impressed. Turns out she not only directed it, she also wrote it. Action star and Academy award winner, Angelina Jolie, who I really do enjoy on the big screen, might have what it takes to be a darn good director and screenwriter. Talk about a triple threat. I'll go see In the Land of Blood and Honey on Christmas Eve the day after it opens.

Take a look and give me your opinion.

1. Christmas in a new house with decked out tree, celebrating life with my husband and two canine kiddies.

Here are our furry babies dressed up for Halloween. Bella is wonder dog and Bodhi is a pumpkin. Yes, we are "those kind of people", but the dogs were rewarded with lots of treats and weren't kept in costume long.

What are you looking forward to this holiday season? Thanksgiving with an extra helping of family drama? Great cup of hot cocoa, perhaps spiked? Vacation with loved ones? Reading a gripping book while hiding from loved ones?

Please bear with me as I'll be delayed in responding to comments and visiting other blogs today.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Darkness of Doubt

Have you ever had one of those days where you want to scream or simply cry in a pillow? Well, I’ve had one of those months. I just wanted to beat my head against a wall. Okay, not my head, but someone’s head.

Between the stagnation of my writing career (limbo where I have an agent and now I’m waiting), my urgent need to find a house in Florida since I’m moving this month, and a necessary transition regarding my situation of paying government dues (yes that last one was deliberately vague) I had my pick of what to be frustrated about.

For those of you who don’t know me very well, I’m not the kind of person who wallows. I think it’s a waste of time and energy. However, I do believe in venting, which is healthy. October was a tough month to see the cup as half full.

I even received good news, found out I’m pregnant, but it turned into weeks of endless worry instead of celebration. We tried last year and suffered a miscarriage, which left me a wreck. I know the advice is not to tell anyone you’re expecting until you hit the second trimester. I didn’t tell anyone last year, except for my husband of course, and we simply went through the devastation in silence without support. So, I’m shredding the rules this year!

My point is that sometimes we hit a zone where things aren't going the way we want or expect. That zone might be so dark it overshadows the good stuff around us or makes it difficult to see the light on the other side.

Whenever you hit a rough patch and wonder IF things will turn around, stay focused on one undeniable thing. Nothing ever stays the same. Life is dynamic, fluid, shifting with the tide of the universe.

You are the single greatest catalyst to change your life. Start by changing your perspective. Focus on what you want. Concentrate on the end result of what you hope to will achieve.

In my darkest moments of doubt, I turn on “a light” and visualize reaching whatever destination I’ve chosen. Yes, the journey may be long and riddled with obstacles, but only envision success in the end.

It’s not always easy to find “a light” to help you see through the darkness. For me, music motivates and uplifts every time. I’ll leave you with the one song that helps me snap out of a defeatist mind-set and remember that I am the architect of my own destiny.

This is going to be an amazing month! Anybody else feel that way?

Thanks Alex for starting this once a month Insecure Writers' Support Group.

What do you do to snap out of a funk? Does music help change your mood? If so, do you have a theme song?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Two Giveaways, Two Winners!

Thanks to all who participated in the Spooktacular blog hop! It was great fun.

An even bigger thank you to all who left a comment letting me know the scariest or most disturbing book you’ve ever read. An overwhelming majority listed It by Stephen King as the scariest.

Many of you seemed quite disturbed by The Exorcist. One commenter said she couldn’t even keep the book in her house and threw it away because of how much it creeped her out!

Stephen King’s The Shining was also mentioned several times.

Now for the Spooktacular giveaway. Chosen using the winner is:

Giada M.

Congratulations, Giada! I’ll send you an email to make sure you claim your prize for a $15 Amazon gift card or $15 value from The Book Depository.

Today is also the release of Anita Clenney’s second book in her bestselling paranormal romance series, Embrace the Highland Warrior.

Here's the blurb:

When the powerful demon that left Shay for dead discovers her empty grave, he comes seeking retribution, believing she possesses an ancient book he has sought for centuries. Knowing she can't fight the demon alone, Shay returns to her clan and the Scottish Warrior who betrayed her...the only man she's ever loved, where she discovers that betrayal isn't always what it seems. Sometimes it's far worse.

To celebrate, Anita is graciously GIVING AWAY ONE COPY to a lucky commenter.

Simply leave a comment on this post no later than midnight EST (Eastern Standard Time) Thu. A winner will be announced on Fri.

Best of luck on the release Anita. Wishing you many happy sales!

Be sure to join me for the Gratitude Giveaway later this month. You won't want to miss it.