Monday, November 30, 2015

Book Review: Heir to Edenbrooke

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson is one of my all-time favorite books. You know, one of the ones you go to on your keeper shelf when you need the rainy day comfort of characters you love. Well, Ms. Donaldson has put out a companion novella to Edenbrooke called Heir to Edenbrooke and it's from Philip's perspective. Yeah, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it!

Philip is such a great hero it was fun to see some of the events we are familiar with from Edenbrooke from his perspective. For example, when he runs away from his responsibilities made so much more sense when we experience what was going on in his life with him.  Or when he ends up at an inn and meets Marianne was just as fun to read from his point of view as it was to read from hers in Edenbrooke. I truly enjoyed it.

Philip is one of my all time favorite characters and this novella only cements that. Seeing Marianne through his eyes brought an entirely new dimension to the story and made me want to read Edenbrooke. Again. My only complaint is that it was only 53 pages. I hope that Ms. Donaldson would consider doing the entire book in Philip's perspective or giving us more. I know I'd be first in line to buy it!

Here's the back copy:

Philip Wyndham has never envied his older brother for being the heir to Edenbrooke. He would much rather carve out his own destiny than live under the constraints of that position. But when his older brother dies unexpectedly, Philip's life is turned upside down as duty requires him to give up the life he planned. Philip takes on his new role as the most sought-after bachelor in London with alternating reluctance, boredom, and resentment. But all that changes the night fate leads him to an inn, where he meets the incomparable Marianne Daventry.

You can buy your copy here for $3.99 (Price set by publisher).

Friday, November 27, 2015

Freebie Friday!

Today's Freebie Friday sounds like a cute YA romance from E.M. Tippetts called Someone Else's Fairytale. Just what I needed for a relaxing Thanksgiving holiday weekend!

Here's the back copy: (which was a little lacking, but the premise sounds good and the reviews were solid so I'm going to give it a try!)

Jason Vanderholt, Hollywood's hottest actor, falls head over heels for everygirl, Chloe Winters, who hasn't gotten around to watching most of his movies. She becomes the woman every other woman in America is dying to be, but it just isn't her fairytale.

Download your free Kindle copy here

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! 

I hope your day is filled with friends, family, and laughter and of course, a ton of good food.  I know I'll be taking time today to count my blessings, and among them are the readers of this blog. I have been so privileged to become real life friends with some of you and enjoy reading all of your comments.

Thank you so much for another wonderful year. Here's to many more to come!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

$50 Book Blast Giveaway!

I am part of the book blast for Wasted Time by Mya O'Malley. I haven't read any of her books, but this one looked interesting! You can also scroll all the way down to enter to win $50 and who doesn't want that little bit of extra Christmas cash?

Wasted time mya

Wasted Time by Mya O'Malley 

Do you believe that some souls are destined to be together, even through hardship and deceit? After 9-11, Declan’s heart is torn between wanting to stay with Morgan and needing to fight for his beloved country. Knowing that the future may be uncertain, he kisses his fiancée goodbye and focuses on his mission until that dark day from which he will never fully recover.

Injured in Afghanistan, Declan has lost more than part of his leg; he’s lost part of himself, now plagued in grief and guilt. How could he possibly ask Morgan to take care of him for the rest of his life, being nothing but a burden to her? Which would be more heartbreaking, feigning his own death or bringing her unhappiness every day? If only he could eradicate her from his mind and be at peace with his decision.

Morgan prays day and night for Declan’s safe return, but when his letters stop coming, Morgan knows in her heart that she has lost him forever. Morgan has a hard time believing in fate and destiny after her fiancé is taken from her. With Declan gone, Morgan’s hope for true love is destroyed, but eventually she finds comfort in the arms of another, even though Morgan’s new love knows that her heart belongs to Declan. Will Morgan eventually be able to move on, or will Declan haunt her dreams forever?

add to goodreads

Mya Omalley

Author Mya O'Malley 

Mya O'Malley was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, daughter and three step-daughters. The family also consists of a boxer, Destiny and a ragdoll cat named Colby. Mya earned an undergraduate degree in special education and a graduate degree in reading and literacy. She works as a special education teacher and enjoys making a difference in the lives of her students. Mya's passion is writing; she has been creating stories and poetry since she was a child. Mya spends her free time reading just about anything she can get her hands on. She is a romantic at heart and loves to create stories with unforgettable characters. Mya likes to travel; she has visited several Caribbean Islands, Mexico and Costa Rica. Mya is currently working on her eighth novel.


$50 Blast Giveaway 

 Enter to win an Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 12/16/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Where Castle Doesn't Get To Be Mad

So last night's fall finale of Castle was hugely disappointing for me on the Caskett front. We start the episode with a murder victim in the water and she's traced back to a cruise line. Oh and she had heroin in her stomach. Beckett and Castle go onto the ship to try to find the crime scene and are under a time crunch when the captain sets sail. They talk to fellow dancers (Castle pretends to be a rich guy who knows how to dance) and Beckett talks to some old ladies and is able to find the murder victim's video camera that has footage on it of heroin being stashed in a barrel. Beckett finds and chases the guy down that packed it and they trace him back to a cartel that has connections to the silly new obsession of Vulcan and the CIA mole. Laura the murder victim was only mixed up in it because she was an environmentalist documenting the trash being thrown off of ships and saw the heroin being loaded. She was caught and killed for that, but luckily her murderer is apprehended pretty quickly and also provides a "lead" on the Vulcan Simmons thing. Supposedly.

Vikram also finds a new office for their little clandestine operation. It's in a strip club that's been closed down. Ugh. He also tells Kate that he just sent her that text to ruin her anniversary dinner with Castle. He's becoming such a jerk with not a lot of purpose other than exposition and blocking Caskett. Double ugh. Hayley almost breaks through their firewalls to hack in for Castle and find out what that text from their anniversary meant and who sent it to Beckett. By this time Beckett realizes he's onto her and they block him at the last second, but it's also a sign that they need to talk. Which Castle wants to do. He corners her at the precinct and is so hurt and stunned that she shut him out. Again. He calls her out and it was awesome.  For just a second I see fear in Kate's eyes that she might lose this great guy that has stood by her for so long. But then she comes to his house, says sorry, and all is forgiven without her having to do more than crook her finger. Sigh.

Don't get me wrong, I'm so glad Castle knows about Kate's secret and her silly new obsession and he called her on it. That part was great. The problem was the follow up, when she finally says, okay I'm going to let you in and I'm sorry I didn't think of it before, Castle pretty much just shrugs and says okay.  All is well.

Um, seriously? He doesn't even get to be a little bit more upset than that? She shut him out, stomped on his heart, and that's it? He deserved more. Why doesn't she ever have to work for the relationship and be accountable for her actions in the marriage?

Yet, this is why it has seemed so disingenuous and unrealistic from the beginning of this bizarre separation of Caskett. None of it makes any sense and as good as Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic are, I wish the writers would have trusted them to have it out. Let them dig deep into what a big obstacle in their marriage looks like and how they deal with it in a way that's true to the characters and what they've been through. Don't make it something akin to leaving the toilet seat up with shrugs and sorry and all is well. There are so many ways this could have been a forward impetus to their relationship and how they deal with things like this as a married couple, but instead it just seemed like a plot point with no real value.

So, to sum up, the case was okay. The boys were hardly on. Other than that, I'm hoping for better when the show returns in February.

*crosses fingers*

Monday, November 23, 2015

Book Review: The Lost King & Simply Anna

I'm so excited to tell you about two amazing books today.

The first is The Lost King by H.B. Moore. It's the second book in her Omar Zagouri thrillers and it is fantastic. The book starts out with the murder of an Egyptologist and the murderer gets away with a complete version of the Book of the Dead---and this Book of the Dead has the potential to completely restructure what the world believes about the foundation of Christianity. Omar Zagouri is thrown into the mix while he is trying to locate his missing girlfriend Mia Golding and instead ends up trying to bring down an organization who want the fame and riches that this stolen find will bring---and change the world forever, but not for the good.

Woven inside Omar's story is the story of Hatshepsut the female Pharoah and her struggle to rise to that position. It is a love story woven with political intrigue made all the more interesting when it's coupled with the modern-day Omar story and what the archaeologists know about her.

The Lost King is an intricately drawn story with realistic characters both from ancient Egypt and our world today. Omar's story is fast-paced and full of suspense, while Hatshepsut has a slower pace, but just as many reasons to keep turning pages long into the night. I particularly liked the details that made the setting come alive in both the ancient world and modern-day. I thought the balance of old and new was expertly done and couldn't wait to find out what happened to both Omar and Hatshepsut. Combining stories like this is such an original concept for me and I really enjoy how the author effortlessly leads her readers on a thrill ride from one end of Egypt's history to the other. I am already looking forward to the next book in the series!

This is definitely a series I would highly recommend. You can pre-order your copy of The Lost King here for $5.49. This is one that should be on the top of your Christmas list!

Here is the back copy:

Undercover agent Omar Zagouri has been ordered to Giza. A prominent Egyptologist was murdered, and a priceless artifact—the only complete version of the Book of the Dead—is missing. Omar is still reeling from the recent disappearance of his girlfriend, Mia Golding, but he puts his quest to find her on hold to track down the lost piece of history.

Omar’s mission is not just to locate the sacred book; he must also rescue the two archaeologists kidnapped and forced to translate its hieroglyphics under threat of death. Their kidnapper is determined to discover the text’s rumored explosive revelation: that Moses did not receive the Ten Commandments from God but instead copied them from the Egyptians. Though Omar’s need to find Mia grows more urgent, he must focus on finding the enemy who will stop at nothing to ignite a controversy that will change history, and the world, forever.

The second book is Simply Anna by Jennifer Moore.  If you've read Ms. Moore's book Becoming Lady Lockwood, you will be able to catch a glimpse of a few of the characters from that book, which is a treat. But Simply Anna is about Anna Wheeler, the nanny to Lady Lockwood's children. They are on a ship to Jamaica, but when her youngest charge leaves a toy up on the deck during a storm, Anna dares to retrieve it and is washed overboard.

In Jamaica, Lord Philip Hamilton has come to get away from London and his fickle fiancee who has thrown him over for his brother. He finds things are very different in Jamaica, though.  The servants are helpful, but not overly anxious about his welfare, and his overseer doesn't seem to have any problem beating the slaves for no reason. (I thought the author did a great job handling the delicate subject matter of slavery during this time period.)  Thankfully, Lord Philip fires the cruel overseer and puts someone else in his place, but that decision will come back to haunt him.

While Lord Philip is trying to learn the ropes of having a plantation, he comes upon a young woman washed up on the shore. She is nearly dead, but they bring her back to health only to find she has no memory of who she is. He offers to let her stay on as his guest until she can remember, but because of his decision to fire the overseer, things get dangerous.

I loved the main characters in this story and how realistic they were. The author did a great job of fleshing out their back stories and why they reacted as they did in certain situations. The best part, though, is what a wonderful job the author does with the secondary characters. I loved the house staff and it was refreshing to see things from a freed man's perspective and what he'd already been through to get to that point. There was a lot of mystery and intrigue that rounded out the burgeoning romance of our hero and heroine and that kept the book moving along at a steady pace. I really enjoy this author's writing and will look for more from her.

You can buy your copy here for $10.49

Here's the back copy:

Suffering from a cruel heartbreak, Lord Philip Hamilton has been driven to seek refuge from the painful memories haunting London, and his father’s Jamaican sugar cane plantation provides just the escape he needs. Philip finds solace in his hard work and takes comfort in the fact that his distance from society ensures that his heart will be protected from future entanglements. Protected, that is, until the unexpected appearance of a mysterious woman with no memory of her past. The only clue to her identity is a necklace inscribed with a name: Anna.

In a matter of weeks, this gentle, intelligent, and impossibly beautiful stranger turns Philip’s world upside down. But as the bond between the pair grows, the threat of Philip losing his heart once more is only the beginning of the dangers that await. Island renegades and a ruthless band of pirates clash in a swashbuckling battle, and it soon becomes clear that these villains may be the key to unlocking Anna’s past . . .

Friday, November 20, 2015

Freebie Friday

Today's Freebie Friday is a best-selling regency romance by G.G. Vandagriff, Lord Grenville's Choice.  I know what I'll be reading this weekend!

Here's the back copy:

Alexander Lambeth, 5th Earl of Grenville, only had eyes for the fair Lady Elizabeth during his first London Season. Unfortunately, Elizabeth’s father brokered her marriage to another. Fancying himself broken-hearted, Alex consented to a loveless union with Lady Felicity, daughter of wealthy Lord Morecombe.

Five years into his marriage, his first love is widowed, and Alex’s wife seems to believe he will waste no time making Lady Elizabeth his mistress. As Felicity chooses to live apart from him, a surprisingly difficult choice is thrust upon Alex. Whom does he truly desire—the ethereal Elizabeth or the maddening Felicity?

You can download your free Kindle copy here 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Meridian Magazine Published My Review!

I was so thrilled to be asked to review Jennie Hansen's new book, By the River. She is a great suspense novelist and I've loved many of her books over the years. It's been a while since she's had anything new, so I was really looking forward to this one.

There are so many thrills and chills and I was kept guessing who the killer was until the very end. There's a really nice romance in the book as well, but if you want to read all my thoughts about the book, you can see my review in Meridian Magazine! Yay! Just click here!

Then, come back and buy your copy here

Here's the back copy:

It was supposed to be a relaxing early-morning run,but the path along the river trail quickly turns into the scene of a nightmare for recent college graduate Kira Paxton. An unintended exploration of a secluded riverbank leads to a gruesome discovery that sets her on a collision course with danger: it is the body of a young woman. In shock, all Kira can manage to do is scream . . .

From the moment Ford Kettering hears cries for help along the trail, he is drawn irrevocably into a mystery in which he plays a shocking role. Ford, a local high school teacher, had a recent classroom clash with the victim-now, he's a person of interest. As Ford and Kira bond over their shared ordeal, they work together to prove Ford's innocence and soon, their attraction is undeniable. But it seems that Kira's nightmare is far from over. What begins as a series of close calls and acts of vandalism soon escalates, putting Kira's own life in jeopardy. It appears that Kira saw something that day along the trail, something that has made her a target. With Ford's help, she is determined to track down the killer before she becomes the next victim.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Band James---I Love These Guys!

My son and his friend made a video to his friend's original song Lemonade and I loved it so much I wanted to share it with you today! It's silly and fun and just the thing to put you in a good mood.

You can check out The Band James on Youtube for a few more of their awesome songs.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Castle Review: The Last Seduction

It was Castle and Beckett's first anniversary and well, it wasn't a great one. *sigh* But, the boys definitely stole the show tonight and made it worth watching.

We start out with a darkened apartment and a guy realizing that a knife is missing out of his knife block. He goes toward a closed door with a baseball bat and throws open the door, but the killer is behind him and he gets stabbed. A lot. (Lesson learned: turn on some lights! Don't turn your back on open doorways when you're trying to find a killer in your apartment!)

Cut to Ryan and Espo in counseling and it's not going well. The therapist says they need a buffer and when Castle shows up to the murder scene to ask them to distract Beckett so he can prepare an anniversary surprise, they take him on as their buffer. Which also means he goes to the murder scene with them and helps to solve the murder. (And once again makes the "time out" with Beckett nonsensical.) But, anyway, they get a hit on some fingerprints at the crime scene and bring the guy in. He tells them that he was friends with the murder victim, Scott, and they ran a scam to get women. One would get aggressive, the other would "save" the lady.  He was Scott's wingman. Vikram finds out that Scott was getting $5000 each time he seduced someone and they find blackmail photos at Scott's secret apartment. One of the photos shows a tattoo on a woman's lower back and the team thinks they can find her. (They also have sketches of the possible women from Scott's wingman.) At a spa. Hailey and Beckett go into the steam room with four of the prime suspects and the women recognize Beckett so they won't show their tattoos, but a woman gets scared and runs away so a chase ensues. Of course she's the woman in the blackmail picture and is caught and questioned. She tells them she was with Scott, but she didn't kill him and in fact, he was apologetic to her and seemed to be having a crisis of conscience. Her alibi is confirmed and the team is back to square one.

They do find a common connection, though, in that the same divorce lawyer, Lindsey Trent, seems to be the one setting up Scott's liaisons. The boys ask Castle to go in undercover to get a look at the lawyer log so they can see what Scott's last job was, which he reluctantly does, while they watch live stream.  Beckett catches them, though, and takes it to her office to watch. The divorce lawyer asks Castle if there's any hope for his marriage and he hesitates (I would, too!) and Beckett seems oddly surprised. (What did she expect? She's shutting him out with no explanation and no reason. But I digress. ) The lawyer does catch Castle before he can look at her lawyer log and he's escorted out by security, only Alexis gets in the office and takes pics of the lawyer log. They get a name and bring in a billionaire playboy for questioning. His lawyer, Lindsey, saves him, and he's let go. (But he's so slimy!) The team is going to investigate him further, though, because it's obvious he's hiding something.

Castle has been trying to set up a dinner for his first anniversary with Beckett. He has a surprise for her in her office that is adorable (confetti and everything) and she agrees to go out with him on a time out from their time out. He's so earnest and I hate that he's trying so hard and she's not really that sad about it from all appearances.  Before they can go out, though, the boys start fighting again and they separate to go and help them---Beckett to Espo and Castle to Ryan. Their sacrifice doesn't seem to do much good, though, since they both ask for new partners. Sad!

In a weird twist, the team finds out that Scott was hired to seduce the billionaire's mom to destroy her reputation because he wanted to take over the company and outsource its employees and the mom wanted to keep it in the country and employ people who were like family. Ryan and Espo go to Lindsey's office to bring her in for questioning, but she pulls a gun. Just as she's about to shoot Espo, Ryan lunges and takes the bullet for him. His notepad saves his life, though, but not before Espo is terrified that Ryan has been seriously wounded. It's a really good scene and definitely the highlight of the show. They catch Lindsey and then hug out their issues. *sniff* So so sweet.

Beckett goes over to Castle's house and they're intimate. It feels shallow, though, since it doesn't solve anything and Beckett is pretty much just leaving right after. She does get a text from Vikram saying he's found something and to contact him ASAP and Castle reads it. It makes Castle wonder, but when he asks Beckett if everything is okay, she says yep and leaves it at that. Secrets are never good and their relationship falls further and further down this really bizarre rabbit hole. 

So, lots of mixed feelings on this episode.  Ryan and Espo made me laugh and played the emotions so well through the entire episode of therapy, anger, and then concern and love. If I'm going to end on a positive note, I'll end with that!

Did you watch? What did you think?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Book Review: The Mariposa Hotel

The Mariposa Hotel is the third installment of the Tangerine Street Romance series and it is probably my favorite one.  

This novel revolves around the Mariposa Hotel and the first story is The Ghost of 913.  Mari is such a strong character and she's been through some difficult things in life already.  She's specifically asked by her boss to take care of Room 913 and when she goes in, it doesn't look like anyone's really stayed there. When she looks closer, however, she sees that the pillows are arranged differently, or the lamp is skewed, just little things like that. It becomes a little game between her and Grant, the U.S. Marshal who is actually staying there. Things get complicated, though, when Grant and Mari get closer and his job gets in the way. A sweet story of misunderstandings on the road to love.

The second one was Butterfly Kisses.  Ridley is a world-renowned surfing photographer, but he pinch-hits as a hotel concierge for his friend who is the Mariposa hotel manager in a bind. During his concierge time, he meets up with the beautiful woman he'd seen car-dancing on the way to the Mariposa Hotel. She's a bundle of contradictions, (a do-gooder plastic surgeon. Those are hard to find!) and he wants to get to know her better, but misunderstandings abound when he doesn't tell her he's not exactly a concierge. It was a cute story with an underlying spread good in the world theme that I really enjoyed.

The last one was Dreams Come True.  For a short story this one had a lot of depth. Reagan is the events coordinator at the hotel and she is dreading having a famous film producer come and stay, but he's sponsoring a big event so she's put up with his obnoxious personal assistant. When she meets Kevin, she has no idea who he is and is stunned to find out he's the guy she was dreading having to deal with. So many misunderstandings that ultimately lead to a fun and sweet love story.

I thought all the stories had very relatable characters, a great setting, and a fun theme. There were sigh-worthy kisses and just enough romance to leave you with a smile.

You can download your Kindle copy here for $4.99

Here's the back copy:  

The Mariposa Hotel: A Tangerine Street Romance
(a novel in three parts)

Welcome to Tangerine Street

Tangerine Street is a must-see tourist stop with a colorful mix of one-of-a-kind boutiques, unique restaurants, eclectic museums, quaint bookstores, and exclusive bed-and-breakfasts. The Mariposa Hotel, a new resort, has revitalized Seashell Beach, bringing new life to the sleepy beach town. In the charming gardens of the hotel sits a three-hundred-year-old wishing well transported from Mexico. One toss of the coin, a sincere wish, and lives are changed forever…

Other books in the Tangerine Street Romance series:
The Fortune Café
The Boardwalk Antiques Shop

Friday, November 13, 2015

Nearly Free Friday

I just noticed that A.L. Sowards has several books that are currently reduced in price to only $1.99! That is a huge deal for this amazing historical fiction writer.  Espionage was one I really loved and highly recommend it to anyone who loves a well told story.

Here's the back copy:

France, 1944: Nobody expects Peter Eddy to survive his first commando mission—to retrieve a code book stolen by the Nazis—so when he does come back alive, his success is rewarded with an even more daunting assignment. Partnered with the French Resistence leader Jacques Olivier, Eddy must identify which of three Allied contacts in Calais is a double agent and use the traitor to help implement a strategic Allied diversion that might win the war. Eddy and Olivier secretly cross the English Channel to confront their suspects one at a time, but what appears to be a clean assignment soon turns disastrous, and a shocking betrayal leaves Eddy in the grip of the Gestapo. With the courageous aid of Olivier and his sister, Genevieve, Eddy evades his captors with a dangerous escape plan. But as the Allied invasion approaches, treachery in the least likely places leads to fresh graves in the bloodied European soil—and only the power of loyalty and love can transform tragic endings into new beginnings.

You can download your copy herefor only $1.99!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Using An Author Tagline

I gave a marketing presentation this evening and one of the things I talked about was how having an author tagline can be part of the foundation of your marketing plan. An author tagline is the free publicity that keeps on giving and I believe that. It's also a great starting point if you're just starting to build your marketing plan.

What is an author tagline you ask? An author tagline is three to seven words that describe your writing.  For example, my author tagline is Action-packed suspense with a touch of romance. Jordan McCollum's is Love, Lies, Secrets, and Spies. A tagline is just something short and catchy that leaves a memorable impression of what you write.

How do you come up with one? Brainstorm some words that you would want a reader to think of when they stumble over your books. Are they sassy? Funny? Fantasy with a twist?  What's unique about your love stories? Are they edgy historicals? Is there a running theme throughout your work? Once you have a pretty good brainstorm cloud of description words, pick the ones that jump out at you, the ones that will leave an impression on your writing and create the tagline that best describes your writing.

Once you have come up with your author tagline, you can pair it with an image (if you look at the header of my blog, author webpage, Twitter and Facebook cover pics, you'll see my tagline with my cover image. I also use it on my tote bags, t-shirts, and all my book swag) and voila! By combining a tagline with your image, you are creating a great foundation for name recognition and an author brand.

It is important to use your newly created tagline wherever you can and definitely on all your social media sites. Be consistent with it so that when readers hear it/see it they'll remember you. Make yourself memorable by focusing your readers in on what kind of experience they'll get when they pick up one of your books.  Like knowing that whenever someone picks up a Julie Coulter Bellon book, they're going to get a lot of action and a little romance, you know?

Having an author tagline is another way to connect with your audience---which, as we all know, is the heart of true marketing. So get brainstorming the amazing tagline that best describes your work and if you come up with something amazing, I hope you'll tell us about it in the comments!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Writer Goal Wednesday

photo credit: plnaugle via photopin cc 

Well, my word count has been slow and steady because I'm editing. I'm cheering on all my NanoWriMo friends, though, who are doing amazing work!

One thing I wanted to remind you all of, however, is that I will be giving a marketing presentation at the Provo Library tomorrow night at 7 PM in the Young Special Events room.(#201) I'll be talking about how authors can build a marketing plan and how to make it work. (There will also be three other authors there talking about the changing landscape of publishing and what it takes to create a stellar book.)

I'd love to see you if you're in the area!

Back to writing!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Castle Returns! Yay! Sort of

Well, we finally got a new episode of Castle! Only Kate wasn't in it at all. And Slaughter was back. (You might remember him from a previous episode where he was a rogue cop and nearly got Castle killed a few times.)

We start off with Martha coming into Castle's office to give him some unsolicited advice (and she's writing a book about that and using Castle's agent! Haha. That sounded fun, actually.)  Before they get too far, Detective Slaughter comes by. Alexis runs into the office telling her father it's DEFCon One with Slaughter there, but Castle takes the case anyway, even though he knows it's not a good idea after last time. (Slaughter lures him with a promise of a mob hit story idea.)

So here's the thing: Slaughter wants Castle to help him figure out a case. Booth Tower, a high tech security building has been broken into and a microchip stolen. Castle is all in and they go to visit Slaughter's informant, only he's dead and the rest of the team is there investigating that murder. Slaughter deliberately keeps information from Ryan and Espo and takes Castle to the guy's girlfriend. Of course the dead guy told her that he was coming into some money and that he had a big meeting that night. That never ends well.

Ryan calls Castle to let him know that Slaughter's fingerprints were found on the murder weapon. Slaughter denies killing the guy and Castle believes him and covers for him with the guys. (I was a little surprised that Castle so easily lied to Ryan and Espo, actually, but hey, whatevs with any relationship courtesy this season I guess.) Hayley helps them and finds out that the dead guy was a mentor to a genius kid named Louis. They track down the mentoring program director who doesn't know where Louis is, but Hayley tracks down the kid's ISP. Castle and Slaughter go to the apartment and the kid is being beat up, but takes off when they get the guy off him.  The boys show up to arrest Slaughter, but Castle steals their car and their prisoner right out from under them. Ouch.

Ryan and Espo have also found out that Slaughter was kicked out of the gang unit for allegedly taking money from a dealer and is in danger of losing his pension, so he could have been in on this microchip heist. Once again, Slaughter denies it to Castle and Castle believes him. (They do have some really cute scenes together with Castle trying to get Slaughter to be nice and less violent when questioning a suspect and when Slaughter says they're like Butch and Sundance, Castle is all, um, you know they die in the end, right? LOL They have a great partner chem overall and it was funny when Slaughter called him Sherlock. Okay, it was funny the first ten times at least.)

They go to Slaughter's ex-wife's house (she's out of the country) and Castle gets out of Slaughter that his ex-wife is a famous opera singer and they met in college because they were both musical theatre majors. (I had a hard time visualizing Slaughter in musical theater, haha. Jazz hands!) Slaughter cooks him some food, the genius kid tracks them down and tells them he's in trouble. They go to the warehouse where he's hiding and get ambushed by a lot of angry men with guns.

Castle does a West Side story move and breaks into song complete with snapping and jazz hands to distract the gunmen while him and Slaughter gear up to attack and beat everyone up. (Um, yeah. I don't know what to say about that. It was odd and more than a bit over the top, but we went with it.) Ryan and Espo and the team show up right after Castle and Slaughter have already taken care of it. (That gang was pretty wimpy, really. Maybe they were an apprentice gang or something. Whatever they were, they failed at the gang thing.)

Back to the case.  The gang people and Louis all have alibis, so could Slaughter have really done it? Nope. The kid remembers a door being wedged open during the robbery and when they came down it was shut. Someone piggy-backed off them! But who else knew what was going down? Yep, it was the mentoring program director. He used to be Mr. Booth's accountant and got fired for making advances on his boss's wife. He was getting revenge and stealing millions while Louis stole the microchip.

Slaughter ends by offering to be a mentor to Louis in a really cute scene. But then they had to go and ruin in by having Slaughter give Castle advice about his marriage.  "I lost my wife because I wasn't man enough to put her needs before mine." Yeah, I hated that. We've seen Castle put Beckett's needs before his own over and over and over. I don't see much of that from Beckett. It's not fun to see how how much he's moping over a woman that doesn't even seem to give him much thought lately. Sigh.

I still really hate what they've done to Caskett and keep hoping it's going to get better, but the previews for next week show someone saying the "D" word. (Divorce).  I'm still trying to find the silver lining in this season and the new showrunners seem determined to kill it. I hope they don't even step down that "D" road. Or look in that road's direction.

Did you watch? What did you think?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Movie Review: The Miracle Maker

The Miracle Maker immediately pulls you into the lives of the residents of the small town of Woodhaven and shows how deeply they are struggling.  People can hardly make their rent to Mr. Booth, the man who owns all the property in the town and is a bit of a scrooge.  (And the actor who played Mr. Booth did a great job of portraying just the right amount of condescension and a splash of intimidation with only facial expressions!) But Mr. Booth isn't living a life of sunshine and roses. He has a daughter who was tragically scarred in a buggy accident and he doesn't allow her to leave the house to protect her from anyone's thoughtless cruelty.  The thing is, though, the young man who was with her in the accident still loves her and wants to be with her, but Mr. Booth forbids him to ever see her.  It pulls on your heartstrings!  The Booth family employs a young girl trying to raise her brother and is having a rough time of it since the boy stopped talking after the death of their parents.  

So many people in the town need a miracle!

Then one morning a telegraph is sent that the Miracle Maker is coming to town and everyone can hardly wait because they all feel like they could really use a Miracle Maker's services.  But when the Miracle Maker arrives, well, he isn't who they expected at all.

We watched this movie as a family and I have to say we will definitely watch it again.  I thought the characters were easy to relate to and care about and the love story was really sweet. There is one little girl who stole the show for me wishing for snow on Christmas Eve. The casting was excellent and I recognized one of the older girls in this show as the main girl in Once I Was A Beehive. Besides the story and casting, the musical score was beautiful and the cinematography really added another dimension to an already layered story.  Really well done.

The message of The Miracle Maker wasn't overly preachy at all, but it was uplifting and left me with a smile at the end.  Then to top it off, when the credits rolled I was really happy to see the name John Lyde. We used to live in the same neighborhood as the Lyde family and I am thrilled to see his success. 

The Miracle Maker will definitely go on our family's December Countdown of Must See Christmas Movies list and I would recommend it to anyone who loves feel good movies you can watch as a family. Grab your popcorn and see it!

Here's the synopsis and the trailer.

It all starts with one little seed of love."The Miracle Maker is coming!" Everyone in the tiny hamlet is excited when they hear the news that the renowned man of wonders is coming to their village. But the humble traveler who appears isn't what anyone expected. They were looking forward to someone magnificent who would change their lives. But it seems this man can barely take care of himself, let alone fulfill the dreams of others. However, miracles can come in all shapes and sizes-and sometimes from unexpected places.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Friday Freebie

Today's Friday Freebie is a Dystopian Fantasy Romance by Elana Johnson called Elemental Rush.

Here is the back copy:

The first installment in the Elemental series, a futuristic romance series for young adults and new adults from acclaimed young adult author Elana Johnson, ELEMENTAL RUSH is a novella that begins it all...

Eighteen-year-old Adam Gillman has trained for twelve years to earn a coveted spot on the Supreme Elemental’s elite sentry squad. His brother, Felix, is the commander, but Adam is still thrilled when his official assignment to serve Alexander Pederson comes.

He moves into nicer quarters and can stop getting up at four a.m. to complete his mandated work out time. He still rises early though, because he needs the solitude of early morning to practice his airmaking Element—something that Adam has kept secret from everyone, even Felix, because he can’t be both an Airmaker and a sentry.

When Alex assigns him to kill a group of rogue Elementals, he balks at completing his mission for the first time. See, his only friend is Isaiah Hawking, and he’s the Earthmover on the accused Council. When faced with the prospect of killing him, Adam finds he can’t do it.

He’s well trained in assassination, but he thought he’d be murdering bad guys—not innocents.

When Alex buries the Elemental Academy—and kills over one thousand Elementals—in a fit of rage, Adam’s loyalty cracks. When he discovers that Alex is really a woman, and his brother’s lover, he defects. He hops from city to city, from Elemental school to Elemental school, always escaping only minutes before Felix can embed a knife in his heart or a tsunami can make a classroom his watery grave.

He tries to fight back, but he’s just one Airmaster with exceptional tracking skills. He does his best to warn those in danger, but as the last Elemental school goes up in flames, he knows he needs to get some real firepower on his side.

ELEMENTAL RUSH is a prequel novella to the full-length futuristic fantasy romance novel, ELEMENTAL HUNGER. Also look for the final installment, ELEMENTAL RELEASE.

You can download your free Kindle copy here

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Wonder of The Season

When I got up this morning I was grumbling a bit because it was cold. I am not a huge fan of cold weather and of being cold.  When I looked outside it was dreary and gray, sort of like my mood.

I got in the car to take my son to preschool and the radio station was playing Christmas music. All I could think of was, Are you serious? It's barely November.

My mood did not improve.

When I picked up my little boy from preschool a few snowflakes were making their way from the sky, floating to the ground, hitting my feet that were still clad in sandals. (I know, I know, I just haven't put them away yet and I was in a hurry!) 

But as I stood there and watched my little boy turn his face to the sky with the biggest smile on his face to try and catch a snowflake, I couldn't help but smile with him. "Mommy! This is the best day ever! It's snowing."

We raced to the car and when we got home he went immediately to our movies and got out Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The old one with Burl Ives in it.  "We have to watch it now because it's snowing," he told me. He grabbed his favorite fuzzy blanket and stood by the couch, waiting for me.

How could I resist that?

So I spent the afternoon watching an old Christmas movie with my boy, snuggling under the blanket and drinking hot chocolate with him after the movie was over.  

All because it was cold and snowing.

But it was different now.  There was no grumbling. No more bad mood for me. Everything is different because of the joy on his face.  And this is a day I will hold close in my heart and a memory of my little boy I will cherish forever. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Provo Publishing Panel--A Must Attend Event!

For anyone who is interested there will be four award winning authors presenting at a Publishing Panel at the Provo Library on November 12 at 7 PM in the Young Special Events room.

I will be presenting on how to market your book! I'll be giving away all my tips and tricks for being successful at marketing without feeling like a salesman and how to build a marketing plan that's right for you.  Marketing can be overwhelming, but once you know what you're doing and you have a plan, it's really fun!

Other presenters will be discussing how to create a book (indie publish) and how to polish your book and what options you have for your book baby!

If you're in the Provo area, this is a presentation you won't want to miss.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

First Chapter of The Captive

Since Castle is still on repeats, I'm excited to share with you the first chapter to my new novel, The Captive, that will be coming out this month! I can't wait for you all to read more about Jake. (He was introduced in my novel, Ring Around the Rosie.)

Chapter One
The Captive
by Julie Coulter Bellon
Copyright 2015
All Rights Reserved

Special Agent Jake Williams had plans for today. Plans that included going to Texas to track down a terrorist.  But instead, he’d been pulled off a plane and was now cooling his heels at the U.N., waiting to be taken to Admiral Moore.
He couldn’t be more annoyed. 
He rolled his neck, wishing the security personnel would hurry up. The two men were clustered behind a monitor, clicking through screens and giving him that we’ll-say-whether-you-get-through-or-not look every now and then.  Jake stood there, trying to smile at them instead of grimace, swallowing words he’d probably regret later if he said them out loud.  He worked for Homeland Security Investigations for crying out loud. Why was this taking so long?
With one last polite smile at the two slowest-security-people-in-history, he pulled his phone out. There was a chance he might be able to save what was left of the day if he could get through this meeting with Admiral Moore in record time and back on track with his case. If only he could have refused the meeting in the first place. But there were few people in this world that could say no to Admiral Moore.  Trying to distract himself, he tapped on his messages and waited for them to download.
Still nothing.
Why hadn’t anyone emailed him an update? Did Tyler have anything? Had they lost their lead on Nazer?  His finger hovered over the phone icon. He’d already called Tyler twice on the way here and been told to wait for an update.  He probably wouldn’t appreciate a third call.  As tempting as it was, Jake moved his finger away from the call icon and clicked off his phone instead. He blew out a frustrated breath. He shouldn’t be waiting for updates, he should be the one in the field giving them. 
He put his phone back in his pocket. Maybe no news was good news. Tyler Coughlin was the go-to guy on his Homeland Security Counter-Intelligence team and he could track a bee in a blizzard.  But even with all Tyler’s skills, Nazer al-Raimi had slipped away every time they’d gotten close and that stung. Today was supposed to have been the day to put that all in the past, the big reward for spending the last six months tracking this guy and his operations in the U.S. He needed Tyler to give him good news. 
“Here’s your pass. You’re cleared.” The security guard closest to him handed him a card to clip on his jacket like he was bestowing an Academy Award on Jake or something.
Finally.  He took it and put it on. “Thanks.”
The other security guy waved as Jake passed by.  “Sorry for the wait. You know how it is.”
Jake nodded and gave him a real smile, sorry he’d been frustrated with them before. They were only doing their jobs. If anyone should understand the importance of checking and double-checking when it came to security, it was Jake.  And he’d learned that lesson the hard way, too.
He swiped a hand over his face, eyeing the couch in the first lobby he passed. He’d been up nearly thirty-six hours straight and he was starting to feel it.  The thought of meeting up with Admiral Moore gave him a little shot of adrenaline, though. He’d served under him when he’d been with the SEALs and he was the toughest commanding officer Jake had ever been privileged to work with. After another glance down at his tie, he hoped his suit still looked pressed.  Admiral Moore’s opinion mattered and it was one more reason he couldn’t have refused this meeting.
 He walked down the beige-carpeted floors of the Secretariat building, door after door of conference rooms on either side of him.  His job at Homeland required him to be inside a lot of the time, but he always had options of going into the field and that was what he loved.  It was what he’d loved about the SEALs, too.  But today he just wanted to find the right room, get it done, and get out.  He resisted the urge to take his phone out again. He needed to be out there, squeezing every source he had about why Nazer was in the U.S., and hopefully capturing him before he got across the border.
Unfortunately, all the doors looked the same.  Several people milled around an information desk of some kind.  Jake waded through them to the very young and very serious man behind it.  “Jake Williams. I have an appointment and I can’t seem to find this room.” He showed him the paper he’d been handed the moment he’d gotten off the plane this morning.
The guy behind the desk looked at it, then back at his computer.  “You’re almost there.  Go down the hall and around the corner.”
“Thank you.” Jake nodded to the security guard posted at the corner of a door. Was he guarding someone inside the room?  Or was that his normal post, just standing there watching the information desk? If it were Jake, he’d hope for the first option.
He walked down the short hall, slowing his steps.  He couldn’t appear too eager to get this over with, but at the same time it couldn’t look like he was dawdling.  He needed his best professional walking pace. Maybe put his hands in his pockets for a casual, yet focused, appearance.  Not that he’d learned that with the SEALs.  He’d learned that during his transition from the SEAL teams to the Human Intelligence division. They’d taught him the finer points of presentation and how people perceive others and that training had come in handy in so many areas of his life, especially in Homeland Security.
He took in the hall that led to a larger lobby on the end of it, the walls covered in art.  The one closest to him was a desert scene and the color scheme blended in with the beige carpet and beige wall.  All the beige reminded Jake of his last SEAL assignment overseas. He never thought he’d get the sand out of his hair and clothes after that one, or the scratchy feel of it off his skin. 
The painting three paces to the right, though, was a large fractured snowflake.  It looked so out of place with all the beige, its blue, white, and silver color scheme jumping out at him.  That was how he felt today. Like a fractured snowflake that didn’t belong in the sea of beige.
Continuing down to the lobby, his step slowed when he saw who was sitting on the couch waiting for him. Ryan Smythe. His gut tightened. Last time they’d been coworkers hadn’t gone well and Ryan had transferred to Jake’s old Human Intelligence Division in the CIA.  Their friendship from serving together as SEALs had been severed as cleanly as their working relationship, and he hadn’t seen him since.  This was going to be awkward.
“Hey, Ryan,” Jake said as he drew closer.  He stood over him and folded his arms, knowing Ryan would stand.  Ryan always preferred the eye-to-eye approach.
Ryan stood, but surprised Jake by holding out his hand.  “Jake.”
They shook hands and Jake could feel tension radiating from him, but that didn’t necessarily have anything to do with Jake. It could have to do with the reasons why they were both being called to this meeting. 
“What’s going on?” Jake sat down on the couch next to where Ryan had been sitting. Maybe if he didn’t mention what’d happened between them, they could go back to how it was before.  Or, at least a version of it.
“I’m here for the meeting with Admiral Moore.” Ryan sat next to Jake, but didn’t meet his eyes. That didn’t bode well.
“I haven’t seen the Admiral in a few years. What about you?” Was Ryan working on something with the Admiral? Why would the CIA be involved in this?
He glanced over at Jake.  “Yeah, I’ve seen him.”  He ran his hands through his blond hair. “It’s not like anyone has a choice about that. When he wants to see you, you show up.  I think you’re the only person who might’ve had a chance to turn him down. You were always his favorite. Our whole team thought so.”
Jake smiled at that, the tension draining away.  “No way. Admiral Moore doesn’t have favorites. And I always got extra PT and grunt work while you were getting your beauty sleep.”
“That’s how I knew you were his favorite.” Ryan sat back and settled into the couch like he wasn’t planning on getting up again.
Jake’s phone buzzed and he took it out of his pocket.  Tyler.  “Sorry. I need to take this.”
He walked a few paces down the hall.  “Tell me good news, Ty.”
“I have good news and bad news.” Tyler’s voice sounded far away and Jake knew the phone was between Ty’s shoulder and chin.  He was probably coordinating all his resources while talking on the phone. His fingers rarely left his keyboard when they were on a case.
“Just tell me we found him.” Jake lowered his voice, in case Ryan was eavesdropping. Knowing the CIA, though, they were probably being briefed simultaneously with Jake. Their agencies had been better about communication in recent years, but in this moment, Jake wanted to be the first to know.
“We got his port of entry,” Tyler said. “Our guy in the Gulf cartel got it firsthand that they were paid a pretty penny to bring Nazer in through the Laredo crossing. That’s the good news.”
Laredo. The word sank through Jake’s consciousness. He’d suspected that all along, but it was pretty gutsy to go through there.  It wasn’t the easiest way for sneaking into the country, but when did Nazer do anything the easy way?  “What’s the bad news?” 
Everything in the background on Tyler’s end quieted. That’s how Jake knew that whatever Tyler was going to say was important.  It was a quirk he had, but it always alerted Jake to listen closely to whatever Tyler was saying.  “That’s also how Nazer got out. We were about an hour too late.”  
Jake closed his eyes and gripped the phone.  So he’d possibly had a chance to take him into custody if he’d made it to Texas today. It was a slim one, but it was there.  “Can you confirm that?”
“Confirmed. He was spotted getting on a private plane just outside of Tamaulipas, Mexico an hour ago.”
A ball of discouragement lodged in Jake’s chest. He’d gotten away. Again.  “Ty, how are we supposed to fight these guys when our borders have more holes than the beginner targets at the shooting range?” He leaned against the wall in front of the fractured snowflake painting. “Did the informant hear what the end game was for being in the U.S. at least?”
“No, he didn’t have anything else, but I have everyone on the ground listening for even a whisper of Nazer or what’s going on. We’ll figure this out.” The keyboard clacking in the background resumed. He sounded sure, but Jake wasn’t as optimistic. They’d been close too many times now. Nazer al-Raimi was always one step ahead no matter what Jake tried to do.  He sighed.  “Thanks, Ty. I’ll let you know when I’m on my way back to the office.”
He hung up and two other men came around the corner, headed right for him. Neither of them paid any attention to Jake, so he turned and went back to Ryan, giving him a tight smile as he sat back down.  Ryan didn’t ask what the phone call had been about and Jake was glad. He didn’t want any affirmations from Ryan that the CIA already knew what Jake had been told. That would add insult to injury at this point.
The other men nodded a greeting to Ryan and Jake as they approached, but didn’t miss a beat in their conversation about the waffle they’d gotten from a food truck.  Jake’s stomach rumbled. There was one waffle truck in particular he loved to go to whenever he was in New York and he hadn’t eaten yet today.  Yeah, he was jealous of these guys.  He watched them fold themselves into small uncomfortable chairs across from the conference room doors.  He was glad they weren’t right next to him. They probably still smelled like waffles and that would be asking too much of any hungry man. 
He watched them smile and laugh together, but even with their casual air, they had a military bearing.  They were obviously part of this meeting somehow, but acted like they were here to shoot the breeze.
“Hey, Ryan,” Jake nudged him in the side, his voice low.  “You think those guys are Army?”
Ryan looked at them, then back at Jake.  “Nah.  They look too happy to be in the Army.  Probably Air Force or something. Those guys are always happy with their heads in the clouds.”
Jake gave an amused chuckle at the dig, but he wasn’t looking at the other men anymore.  A woman was coming down the hall, her professional pace a little faster than Jake’s.  She was dressed in business casual with a white blouse and black dress pants.  Her jet-black hair was swept back from her face, accentuating her long neck and bronze skin, but when she looked at them, her eyes were mesmerizing as she measured each man she was approaching. Even from this distance Jake couldn’t look away.  A quick glance to the corner showed him that the other two men watched as well. She had captivated them all.
Ryan nodded toward her.  “She’s gorgeous, but from the looks of it an unhappy diplomat. How could you not smile with a cushy U.N. job?”
Jake didn’t answer. The woman had stopped in front of the other two men and he was shamelessly trying to hear what they were saying to her.  They stood and shook her hand, greeting her just softly enough that Jake couldn’t hear what she’d said.
At that moment, Admiral Moore opened the conference room door.  He was thinner than Ryan remembered, a little gray at the temple, but still a commanding presence.  Ryan and Jake straightened immediately. “Sir.”
“This way, gentlemen.”  Admiral Moore’s tone was abrupt and brooked no argument. He barely spared a glance at the other three people waiting near them, but gave a curt nod.  “We’ll be with the rest of you shortly.”
Jake’s eyes slid back to the woman, her mouth tightening in annoyance at the Admiral’s words. She wants in. That much was easy to see.  Did she know what was going on? Or was she looking for answers like him? 

Whichever it was, hopefully they both got what they came for today. He squared his shoulders and cracked the knuckles on his right hand.  Let’s do this.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Winner of the Book Lover's Bounty Gift Pack!

Aaaaaand today we are announcing the winner of the Book Lover's Bounty Gift Pack that included:

                    One extra large Julie Coulter Bellon tote bag filled to the brim with:
three awesome print books,
one super soft new blanket to cuddle up with
and gourmet hot chocolate for those cool autumn nights.
($85 value)

and the lucky winner is:

*drum roll*

Angela Daffern!!

Congratulations! I will be contacting you so I can get your prize right out to you!
Thank you to everyone who entered!

(And if you want to enter the current drawing for $200 in Christmas Cash that is going on right now click here)