Thursday, July 20, 2017

New Book Spotlight: Addicted to Love by Jennifer Wilck

Dan Rothberg struggled after an accident killed his wife and he nearly lost custody of his daughter. He can no longer allow himself to get attached to anything or anyone. Until he meets Hannah.

Hannah Cohen is a young executive with a meddlesome grandmother and a troubled brother. She’d like nothing better than to find her own Mr. Right, after too many Mr. Wrongs. A sexy older man with a teenage daughter was never in her plans.

As they navigate their relationship through adolescent attitudes and grandmotherly interference, they realize age is just a number and love can be right in front of them. But when the terrible truth of Dan’s former struggles is exposed, Hannah must decide if she can get past his deception and allow love to conquer all.


Excerpt
“What are we looking at?” She whispered out of the side of her mouth, pursing her lips together and giving him an insane urge to kiss them.

“What?”

“I assumed since we’re standing here you must be looking at something, and I wanted to join in the fun. Or did you not realize we weren’t moving?”

Her nostrils flared and she bit her lip, and Dan realized she was trying not to laugh. Now he really wanted to kiss her, to capture her mouth with his, to make her his own. Before he could act on it, his stomach growled.

“Was that yours or mine?” She looked over at him, eyebrow raised.

His lips twitched. His breath hitched. He couldn’t keep his amusement to himself any longer. It bubbled in his chest and he let it out as he shook his head.

“Okay, while I am older than you, I’m not old enough to be senile. Yet. So yes, I did know we weren’t moving. But thanks for that. And yes, my stomach growled, because I’m hungry. Except I think I need to put eating on hold for a moment, because what I need, more than anything else right now, what I’ve needed all night long in fact, is to kiss you.”

Author Bio
Jennifer started telling herself stories as a little girl when she couldn’t fall asleep at night. Her favorite stories to write are those with smart, sassy, independent heroines; handsome, strong and slightly vulnerable heroes; and her stories always end with happily ever after. In the real world, she’s the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men she knows. When she’s not writing, she loves to laugh with family and friends, is a pro at finding whatever her kids lost in plain sight, and spends way too much time closing doors that should never have been left open. She believes humor is the only way to get through the day and doesn’t share her chocolate. She writes contemporary romance, some of which are mainstream and some of which involve Jewish characters. All are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Buy Links
Amazon  
Kobo 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Audiobooks Part 3: The 15 Minute Check

Once you select a narrator and have an accepted offer, the real work begins. The author sends the narrator the complete book manuscript, otherwise known as the script. I used the final Word version of the ebook minus the front and back matter. If you wish to make certain edits, do them before hitting Send.

The first file you receive from the narrator is the 15 minute check. When will you get it? Well that depends. The deadline is something you and the narrator agreed upon in the offer. Make sure to give the narrator enough time to put together a stellar read. I decided on one week and my narrator had no problem with that. The phrase 15 minute check is actually a misnomer as the narrator begins at the first page of the book and stops at a logical point roughly fifteen minutes later. For many books, mine included, this is the first chapter. Mine took a little over sixteen minutes.

Make sure you and the narrator are on track with pacing and flow. If you think the reading is too fast or slow, or didn’t quite capture the mood of a scene, say so now. Is any part confusing? If you have a dialog between two or more characters can you tell which one is speaking. Is the tone correct? Did a character who's supposed to be lightly teasing sound snarky and sarcastic instead? A few missed words in the script is no biggie. Simply note them down and the narrator can make corrections in the audio file. You’re not Steven Spielberg, so don’t pick apart each sentence. Remember, an audiobook is a collaborative process between two professionals. You want the narrator to bring his or her interpretation to your words. That’s why you hired a pro. But if a scene doesn’t work for you, state the reason clearly. Telling a narrator, “I need you to make this, you know, like better, you know, cause it’s like, you know, not right.” isn’t helpful. 

Next up in Part 4: Building the Book


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Audiobooks Part 2: Egad! I Have a Narrator.

Egad, I Have a Narrator. Now What?

I posted the audition to ACX. The first response came that evening and then one or two a day; some were okay, some were, let’s just say, not so okay. I even got a message from a woman who wanted to submit an audition, but had to finish another audiobook and wouldn’t be available for a few weeks. That cheered me. If she already worked on an audiobook, she couldn’t be awful. She wanted to know when the audition closed. Hmm. Hadn’t thought about that. I figured this would be a long process, so I said July 15. I looked for a way on ACX to post the audition date. Couldn’t find one. Stupid ACX.

Narrations continued to arrive. None of them grabbed me, but I was too unsure to hit the delete button. As I listened to more, the okay ones started to sound the same as if the narrators practiced together; the same tones, the same inflection, the same reading. I began to worry. Maybe the okay auditions were really great, but I couldn’t feel it because I wanted the impossible. When I write, the characters speak in my head as clearly as if they were real people. (Sometime clearer, but let’s not get into my mental health issues.) How can I expect anyone to capture what’s inside me?

Then I discovered a wonderful truth. I can’t, but the right narrator doesn’t need my voice. She has one of her own and can add something different, but equally good, to a book.  Less than a week after posting the audition I found Cass, a professional voice actor in California. Her reading was so far above the others, I had no doubt she was the one.

Next came the hard part. I had to reject the other narrators. Writers get plenty of rejections. If I printed out all the ones I received over the years I’d be able to wallpaper every room in my house with enough left over to whip up stylish curtains for the windows. It hurts a little less with a polite rejection because you can delude yourself someone actually read the submission. The worst is the black hole. You slave over a proposal or submission, email it, and then…nothing. The agent or publisher is too busy sipping their lattes to send a canned rejection. They don’t even bother to assign it to the unpaid intern. He’s busy polishing their shoes and wondering if it’s too late to apply for that salesclerk job at Old Navy. I’m sure actors get as many rejections as writers, so I determined all who submitted an audition would get an easy let-down with a kind, but encouraging email from me.

But first, the offer. If Cass didn’t accept, I was back to square one. I sent a message through ACX and told her how much I enjoyed the audition and an offer was coming. I also mentioned terms were negotiable, since I didn’t want a rejection over a minor issue. She was thrilled. I sent it through the ACX site; flat fee, but was fine with split royalties if she wanted to go that route. I also listed the deadline for the first fifteen minutes (the first chapter check), and then the final deadline.  She accepted immediately, no changes necessary. Whoo-hoo! I went back to the list of auditions to start the polite rejections.

Curse you, ACX!

As soon as an offer is accepted the site deletes the contact information for other auditioners. Nothing warned me ahead of time. My stomach hurt thinking about those poor people waiting in the black hole. Will ACX notify them I chose another? Will they do it kindly?

Note to narrators who auditioned for Rimrider:  Please don’t hate me. I intended to send a heartfelt message of thanks. Don’t let my rejection discourage you. Just because your narration style didn’t suit me, doesn’t mean it won’t suit another.

Fortunately, ACX only deleted those who actually auditioned, so I was still able to send a message to the nice woman who wanted to know the deadline. I explained that I expected to keep auditions opened to the 15th, but found a narrator right away. I wished her luck in future endeavors. She sent me a thank-you note.

Lessons Learned
  • The narrator doesn’t need to copy the author's idea of a character’s voice. A talented narrator will bring her own skill and interpretation and an author may even like her interpretation better. Shut up, voices in my head.


  • ACX needs work. Amazon owns the world. Can’t they spend a few extra bucks to hire some techs to get the bugs out of the system and make the site easier to use?


  • Offer a narrator both flat fee and split royalty for payment, but be prepared to pay. Voice actors like to eat, too, and I believe most want money up front. If I only offered split royalty, I’d still be waiting for a narrator.  




Next up in Part 3: The 15 minute Narration Check.


Friday, June 30, 2017

New Book Spotlight and Rafflecopter Giveaway: Quest of a Warrior by Mary Morgan

You met them in the Order of the Dragon Knights. Now, journey to the realm of the Fae and witness their legends!

Fenian Warrior, Conn MacRoich has traveled the earth for thousands of years, guarding the realm between mortal and Fae. His deeds are legendary. Yet, one mistake will force him on a journey to fix a broken time-line. However, on Conn’s quest, he must face a human female who will eventually bring this ancient warrior to his knees. 

When Ivy O’Callaghan inherits her uncle’s estate, she never imagines there will be more secrets to unravel, including the one she hides from the world. With the help of a mysterious stranger, she learns to trust and step out of the shadows. However, nothing prepares Ivy when she learns Conn's true identity. 

As the loom of fate weaves a thread around the lovers from two different worlds, will the sacrifices they make lead them to love? Or will their secrets destroy and separate them forever?

ORDER OF THE DRAGON KNIGHTS

Dare to journey with the Dragon Knights of Scotland!

They were an ancient order descended from the great Tuatha De Danann, a tribe from the Goddess Danu. Half human and half fae, each blessed with mystical powers. They were also given holy relics and guardianship over the dragons.

With the dawn of Christianity, the dragons were systematically hunted down and slain leaving only one. The Dragon Knights took her from Ireland to a land across the sea, settling in the Great Glen near Urquhart. The clan was known as the MacKay clan, descendants from the MacAoidh.

Yet, there were those who deemed the Order had too much power, and they tried to possess it for themselves. They were evil and twisted, and their plan succeeded one fateful night.

The Clan Mackay is no longer.

The Dragon Knights scattered across the land.

Yet out of the darkness, they will each fight for redemption.

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Morgan/e/B00KPE3NWI/

Excerpt:  
“Intoxication can unleash the beast within a Fae.” ~Chronicles of the Fae
Conn fought the bolt of desire spearing a path throughout his body. Her touch spoke volumes—an invitation to taste. Never had he longed to kiss a human like this wee lass. His heart beat loudly, and he found himself unable to move. She was a Goddess of the moonlight. It danced off her face and hair, and he trembled before her. Ivy’s fingers traced down his cheek and across his lips. He was helpless to contain the growl that escaped from his mouth.

The rush of passion overtook him, and Conn slammed the door on his mind. Grasping Ivy around the waist, he hoisted her up on top of the bridge. Her lips parted on a sigh, and he lowered his mouth to feast on something he dared not take. The first brush of her soft lips against his own ignited a hunger he could no longer contain. Taking her moan deep into him, Conn glorified in the sensation of her mouth—one filled with a honeyed sweetness.

The Fae warrior became just a man for the first time. Something primal burst within him. Emotions he had never felt left him dizzy, spiraling to a physical plane. He craved them all. His lips seared a course down her neck, to her throat, and then recaptured the velvet warmth of her mouth.


Click on the link and enter to win a signed copy of Quest of a Warrior
RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY

Buy Links:

Author Bio:
Award-winning Scottish paranormal romance author, Mary Morgan, resides in Northern California, with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return.
 
Mary's passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. She spent far too much time daydreaming and was told quite often to remove her head from the clouds. It wasn't until the closure of Borders Books where Mary worked that she found her true calling--writing romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories.
Author Links:




Thursday, June 29, 2017

Book Review: How Music Works by David Byrne

David Byrne is the front man of The Talking Heads, but son of a gun, he’s also a heck of a writer. How Music Works isn’t a typical celebrity biography. Byrne examines his own career in the broader context of the history of music; where it came from, how it’s created, and the evolution over time responding to the changes in society. His insights are fascinating.

Byrne notes music isn’t produced in a vacuum. Instead, musicians create works to fit the available venue. The first music was African drumbeats made to be performed in the open. As people moved indoors and venues changed so did the music and the audience interaction. He takes readers through advancements in music, noting the differences and continued evolution. Concerts have a completely different sound in a small theater than an outside arena and music had to adapt. With smaller groups, the interaction is up close and personal, the audience can distinguish individuals and their talents, but with growth comes complexity. You can’t pick the contribution of one clarinet from a whole orchestra.

Much of the book is dedicated to technological innovations starting with early wax cylinders up to present day music created not with instruments, but computers. Devices make it easier to acquire music, but music, once meant to be shared, is now often a solitary activity. The use of electronics to format a perfect performance created a strange juxtaposition. A recording was originally the simulation of a live performance. Now performances are considered the simulation of a recording.


This isn’t a book for someone only interested in the entertainment aspect of the music business, although Byrne goes into a lot of detail about his own career with The Talking Heads. Rather, it’s a detailed and thoughtful study for readers with a serious interest in all aspects of music; from history, business and finances, to deeper questions of where music comes from and why does it matter so much to us.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Summer Solstice: Greetings Earth Mothers and Fathers. There's still time to light your fire wheel.

Blogging today at Paranormal Romantics. Here's the post.

Greetings Earth Mothers and Fathers. There's still time to light your fire wheel.

The movement of the sun during the course of the year held particular fascination for the ancients. Rites of renewal often involved the different solstices. Named from the Latin words for sol (sun) and sistere (to cease), the solstices occurred during times when  the sun appeared to magically stop one progression and begin another. The summer solstice in the northern hemisphere is on June 20.  On that day the sun reaches the highest point in the sky, signaling the start of the hottest days of year, followed by more rapid crop growth, and an eventual harvest to fend off starvation. Not without proper mystical intervention, of course.

Pagan beliefs
The summer solstice held the most importance to pagan or nature worshipping religions, and they spanned the globe.  Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Vikings, Native Americans, and Druids among many others had celebrations linked to the longest day of the year. They often encompassed wild abandonment and fertility rituals (rather like spring break today). Ancient Greeks marked the solstice with a festival of Cronus consisting of feasts, games, and the strange tradition of having slaves served by their owners for a day. In ancient Rome, the festival marked the only time married women could enter the temples of the vestal virgins to make offerings to Vesta, the goddess of hearth and home. In Chinese mythology, the summer solstice was a time to celebrate yin (femininity) and earth. As the Catholic Church attempted to lure pagans to its beliefs, it adopted June 24 as the festival of the nativity of St. John the Baptist, appealing to ancient beliefs and encompassing the theme of birth.

Summer solstice festivals in Great Britain's pagan times often involved fire. Flames, smoke, and ashes were believed to have purification powers to drive away evil spirits and protect homes, families, livestock, and crops. Hence the continued use of burning palms on Ash Wednesday. Rituals also involved singeing horses or cattle with embers or driving them through the smoke to invoke magical protection. One of the more bizarre practices is still done for tourists.  Locals roll a giant flaming wheel down a hillside and (hopefully) into a lake and not the neighbor’s barn. The wheel is stuffed with straw or hay. Pagans believed if it rolled all the way to the bottom and into the water the harvest would be good. If it didn’t make it or skewed off the path, the harvest would be bad, and probably make the neighbor with the burning barn come after you with a pitchfork.

Changes in Sunlight and Psychology
Psychological reasons may also explain why the summer solstice holds such importance. A lack of sunlight has long been associated with increased depression. Scientific American reported on a study of tweets done in 2011. Researchers looked at random tweets and analyzed them for emotional content as a function of the time of day, the day of the week, and the amount of actual daylight (i.e., the season). They found the amount of daylight was not as important as the relative change in that daylight. Meaning that when the change was positive (days grow longer), people expressed more positive views. When the change was negative (days grow shorter), attitudes soured.

Myths Associated with the Summer Solstice

  • The seasons change because of the Earth's distance from the sun
The Earth rotates around the sun in a fairly regular orbit and the closest point is during the winter. Seasons change because of the Earth’s tilt on its axis. In the summer, the Earth tilts toward the sun bringing more warmth to the surface, while in the winter, it's tilts away.


  • Summer solstice is the overall hottest day of the year
The solstice brings the most light, but not the most heat.


  • On the summer solstice an egg will balance upright on a table.
Actually, you can do this anytime. Shake a raw egg until the yolk breaks inside the shell. Place the egg back in the carton. Once the yolk settles to the bottom of the shell it will stand upright because more weight is at the bottom. Now, invite family and friends into the room, recite mystical mumbo jumbo about the summer solstice, and place the egg upright on the table. Try not to laugh at their stupefied expressions.











Monday, June 26, 2017

Book Spotlight: Angels Fly by Donna Simonetta

Angels Fly
by Donna Simonetta

Angels Fly is on sale for 99 cents from June 23-July 7

Two years after her husband’s death, Kelly believes her romantic life is done. Until she reconnects with her girlhood crush on social media, and as fate would have it, he lives across the street.

James is over the whole true-love thing. His grasping ex-wife tore that belief out of him, when she left him for a rich, old man. Then he finds out his first love moved to San Diego too, and their attraction burns as hot as ever.

What they don’t know is that Fate didn’t bring them together – the Guardian Angel Corps did, led by two unlikely Cupids – Kelly’s late husband and Zane, a rough and tumble, 19th century cowboy. When a Fallen Angel decides to tear Kelly and James apart, cherubs and harps aren’t going to cut it, and Zane’s unique skills might be just what they need to get a second chance at their first love.

Excerpt
James held Kelly’s hand as he walked her to her apartment building from his car. While they were still in shadows, before they reached the bright light of the entrance, James stopped and turned to face Kelly. He cupped her face in one of his big, rough hands and rested the other lightly on her waist. He traced her cheekbone with a feather light touch of his thumb, and Kelly couldn’t help but turn her face into his hand like a kitten. She did manage to stop herself before she purred, and was pretty darned proud of that achievement.

She felt his hand at her waist tighten, and he dropped his forehead down to rest against hers. When he spoke his voice was low and gruff with emotion.

“Tell me to leave right now, Kel, or all my good intentions to go slow this time are flying out the window, and I’m going to ask you to invite me up to your condo.”

Kelly’s voice was quiet. “I’m not ready for that yet.”

He left his forehead resting against hers, but rubbed his head slowly back and forth. “I know. I should just go, but I can’t bring myself to leave.”

Kelly swallowed, and extended an olive branch, since she wasn’t ready to call it a night yet either. “I think I’m ready for a kiss, though.”

He lifted his head away from hers, and the happiness and blatant hope in his voice made her smile. “Yeah? Really?”

“Yeah,” she replied and stood on the tips of her canvas deck shoes to bring her mouth closer to his.

James bent his head and pressed his lips gently to hers. Her heart pounded and her blood heated in her veins. It had been such a long time since a man had kissed her—and this was James Flynn. Her first love. She snaked her arms up around his neck and pressed her body closer to his.

Buy Links
Amazon:

Barnes & Noble:

Amazon UK:

The Wild Rose Press:


Author Bio
My career has been a winding road. I worked in the business world for years, got my MLS and worked in a school library, and am now living my dream as an author. I love to read and write contemporary and fantasy romance. I live in Maryland, with my husband, who is my real-life romance hero. We both enjoy traveling to visit our far-flung family and friends, and spending time on the beach with an umbrella drink and a good book.