Friday, November 10, 2017

Alter-ego Review of Cold Sweat by J. S. Marlo




From our alter-egos:


From the desk of ~

DONA PENZA TATTLE, ESQ.

AND

ASSOCIATE WRYE BALDERDASH


Greetings!



Tattle slid open the curtains and looked out the window. "There are a lot of leaves in your yard."

Wrye stared at the computer, considering if éclairs cured writer's block. "I will handle it."

"Mr. Leaf Blower handles the autumn leaves in my yard."

"Don't worry about it." Doesn't look her way. 

"You really should get to it before it is overwhelming."

"Fine. Ok. Whatever." He moved from the office to the kitchen and added two cookies to his éclair plate and started to munch.

"You will get tired of looking at them."

"You're a noodge."

She steals a cookie off his plate. "Yeah, and I'm good at it.

He frowns at her, pockets the remaining cookie. "I have a plan."

"Really."

"Really."

"What?"

"I'll show you." With a mouth full of pastry, he went into action and closed the curtain.

Before she could say another word, Wrye snapped his fingers and the two dashed into a Love of Literature Leap: a review of COLD SWEAT (HEAT & ENDURANCE 1) By  J. S. Marlo 




Tattle and Wrye appear in COLD SWEAT by J. S. Marlo, a romantic suspense.

"Wait!" Wrye held his chest, puffing.

Tattle looked startled. "You ok?"

"It's this book! It is so fast-paced  I have to catch my breath."

Tattle did the double-eyed-tumble skyward.  "Scared me, you did."

"Yes, be afraid, be very afraid, m'Yodaish sleuth," Wrye countered, his face tense with emotion. "Seventeen-year-old Hope Craig was kidnapped while training to make the biathlon Olympic team. Two creepazoids seized her right off a ski slope and stashed her in a remote, winter secure cabin as time trickled away toward her possible ta da da daaaaaaaaaa death.... For the ransom demand is unfeasible"



BUY: www.champagnebooks.com  

Gives Wrye the look, the ya-gotta-get-it-together-dude look. "You can get dramatic, you know, but this time you aren't far off the bull's eye. Hope Craig is resourceful and tenacious but she is also deaf. In some ways that is an advantage, cause the 'nappers have their imbecilic moments and don't expect her to be so clever."

Poised as a wise ole sage, foot on a snow dusted log while stroking his chin, Wyre contributes. "Hope's mother Colonel Amelia Matheson recruits Sheriff Rich Morgan to aid in the investigation. The two have... history."

"Look fire!"

"Where?"

"The book, silly. Colonel Matheson and the Sheriff are flint to tinder. She simply can't forget that he once hurt her. And he simply can't forgive himself either. Yet the sparks continue as they assemble information, process clues and uncover truths long hidden. Meanwhile, they try to come to terms with their embittered past while confronting one unexpected and sinister circumstance after another."

"As always, J. S. Marlo never fails to entertain and rob me of sleep." Wrye points into cyber space, thinking Marlo can see him. "Yeah, I mean you, keeping me up to all hours. I can even stop at a chapter break cause they are all cliffhangers. How can you do that to an old geezer! Huh!" Took a breath, shook his head and continued. "I digress. Seriously, folks, this is one of her best suspense thrillers to date. It's like listening to a drummer who starts out with a steady, enticing beat that grows and intensifies then gets louder and louder, and then becomes wild and frantic. You killed it, lady!"

"Didn't I tell you, dramaaaatic! But, I, too, digress. Another winner for J. S. Marlo, going to read this saga about Quest, Phoenix and Ducky again because I was so caught up, I read like fiend. Now, I want to take my time. Oh, y'all wondering who those characters are? Gotta read the book to find out. Let's just say, they are so well-rounded and dimensional, they must be real. I am looking them up online cause I wanna meet them. Truly and seriously, Marlo is an author of suspense surpassed by none, and this book is one you don't want to miss. Just buckle up for a wild and intoxicating ride!

Tattle and Wrye loop arms as they jump into a revisit review of, UNBALANCED by Courtney Shepard, a paranormal romance.

Tattle clears her throat and begins, “Long, long ago four young girls were abducted by the Master, and henceforth generations of four sisters are pulled back to the current Master of The Order.  The sisters’ powers grow with every generation; thereby The Order’s need for that power intensifies.  They cannot exist without it, and they have a decisive and heinous end plan.”

“This latest generation of sisters had been separated at birth yet they are all still hunted.” Narrowing his eyes, Wrye offers a sinister snarl.  “And they feel it, believe there is something more to their existence and soon those reasons unfold even as the threat of death dodges them.  This is a tale of four powerful women who have the ability to command the element of nature.  Asha, the main heroine of this story, is fire and is as independent and tough as they come as well as quite explosive when her temper is ignited.” Uses both hands to imitate the universal symbol of something exploding.

“Her love interest, Clay,” Tattle sighs the name, “… has his own mysterious depths and from the first you feel he might pose a threat. Still, he has been drawn to her, believes her to be the powerful woman who has haunted his dreams, La Guerrero Reina, the Warrior Queen. He pledges himself to her, but there is something more to this hot-to-the-bone hero, and their romance has the curve twisting velocity of a roller coaster ride as their passion increases and their love strengthens despite an unwavering sense, woven into the underside of the story that smacks of betrayal.”

“The backdrop of the story also shows the persistent struggle of women through the ages in life and in religion. The prevalent magic underpinning the story, along with the slow unveiling of the truth behind The Order, and the reason for the sisters’ power is fully compelling.  Good and evil has its place as well, but neither is pure which makes it all more human and realistic.”

Tattle adds, “The characters are all well-drawn with the sisters being very tough, no-nonsense and determined. The men they are drawn to, with a future promise of possibilities, also exhibit that fighting spirit, and they too share a mysterious aura that keeps the reader wondering at the truth. The sexuality of the book has steam and heat enough to pull you into the romance, yet is delightfully devoid of any crudeness or obscenity, making the various elements of mystery, romance, fantasy, magic and danger all balanced.”

“Courtney Shepard wove a tale that stays with you days past reading it.” Wrye gives his serious and penetrating look.  “The plot was swiftly paced, cleverly written while the dialogue was brisk, addictive and true to life. If there is any complaint it is that it ended too soon.  I want to read more of this universe, uncover the finer depths of The Order, the deeper mystery behind the sisters. These feelings, I believe the author, skillfully and deliberately provoked with the purpose of sequels, one for each of the sisters, Ivy, Mere and Avia, of which I am looking forward to reading. UNBALANCED is a book with a hook! If you enjoy the paranormal with strong female leads, this is certainly the story for you.”

***
We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at writingteamcw@yahoo.com (Write - Blog Dawn - in subject line) and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a free ebook (choose erotic or romantic thriller) and add you to any future mailings.



Angelica Hart and Zi ~ Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane
www.champagnebooks.com - www.carnalpassions.com - angelicahartandzi.com










Tuesday, August 22, 2017

INTERVIEW with the fabulous writer, H K CARLTON!



Please welcome, H K Carlton, an outstanding fellow Canadian author (so sweet to be able to say that of such a warm, wonderful human being) of many outstanding books! Thanks so much for being here! I'm looking forward, with pleasure, to your sharing your thoughts on writing and learning more about you and your work. :-) So, without further adieu...

(1) When did you realize or decide you wanted to be a writer? Or what inspires you to plunk yourself down for hours on end and write, opening a vein in the process?

I’ve always told myself stories while trying to fall asleep at night, from my earliest recollection. That hasn’t changed. I still do it. I do some of my best plotting then. The hard part now, is remembering all the good stuff when I wake up. 😊

I’ve always been a jotter. I’d write down scenes or ideas that came about, but other than assignments for creative writing class in school, I didn’t write entire stories from beginning to end. At the time, I never considered showing anyone else.

It wasn’t until son number two, left for college—he was the first to leave the nest— that I started writing entire manuscripts. Mainly, I was simply trying to keep my mind occupied and not worry twenty-four-seven about my baby out there in the big bad world. But also at that time, I had about three very different stories and a cast of characters that I could not get out of my head. It wasn’t until I actually wrote them down, that I found some peace. And when I was finished, I didn’t think they were half bad. I mustered up the courage to send bits and pieces to my sister—I left out the smutty parts. Lol. [To my knowledge, to this day, she still has not read the racy scenes]. That was a big step all on it’s own. To open myself up like that. But I knew, she would be honest with me. I trusted that if it was bad, she would out and out tell me so and would dissuade me from submitting it and embarrassing myself that way. But she loved it and actually hounded me for the next chapter and the next. It was just the encouragement I needed to polish it up and start sending out queries to potential publishers. And to my surprise, all three of those early stories found homes. My three children have also been extremely supportive and my loudest cheerleaders. I’ve always encouraged them to follow their dreams, now they say, it’s my turn.


(2) What has been your best experience as an author so far?

The best part of this process has been the people I’ve met along the way. Readers, editors, publishers, fellow authors. I’ve met some truly wonderful and talented people on this journey and made some friendships that will last a lifetime even if this writing gig hits the skids. 😄


(3) What sort of challenges have you faced as a writer? How did you overcome them?

I find the promotion part of it tough. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time to market and write and edit and blog and keep up a social media presence etc. It’s hard to get noticed. The advice I’ve been given is to write the next book, and the next and the next. Easier said than done.

Also lately, I’ve been going through a slow period. I have so many ideas and more unfinished manuscripts than I can keep track of but zero ambition to finish them. It’s not writer’s block, the ideas are there, I just don’t want to do the work. I used to want to write more than anything else. I’d get almost angry when real life cut into my creativity. Now it’s the opposite, I’ll do just about anything to avoid getting down to work. It’s like I’ve lost my passion and the early excitement I used to thrive on. Unfortunately, I haven’t overcome it yet. Any advice, tips or tricks, would be welcome, folks.


(4) How do you research and plan your books? Do you find outlining helps or hinders your process?

I pretty much do the research as I go. I look things up as they come up in the storyline.


(5) Tell us a little about your writing nook! What time of day you write? Do you have any rituals for getting into the process?

I write whenever, wherever the mood strikes me. I just need my laptop, my trusty Chihuahua, Ken. He’s my sidekick/co-author. Sometimes, I also have a bowl of dry Honey-nut Cheerios. And yes, we share. 😉





(6) Of all the characters you’ve created or written about, who would you most want to be/or date?

I suppose I’d want to be Holly Cambridge from the Always Cambridge Series. Although being the daughter of mob boss, Bill Cambridge, her life is filled with violence and tragedy. But on the flipside she more than makes up for it, in the man department. Between her rugged and steadfast bodyguard, Randy Phillips, and later FBI Agent Alex Orton, who challengers her at every turn, to drop-dead gorgeous, Victor Mayhue, from the Mayhue crime family, one of the Cambridge families’ biggest rivals, Holly’s love life is turbulent but incredibly passionate.





(7) What’s your best advice to new writers?

Take the good with the bad. Savour the good reviews and praise, and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done, but also take note of the criticism, and learn from it, turn it into a positive and make your writing better. And always remember, you can’t please everybody.


(8) What project are you currently working on? Can you share something about the characters or story?

I’m working on a piece for an anthology call. Though, with my lagging ambition, I’m not holding out much hope for hitting the deadline.


(9) What’s next for you?

I’m hoping—fingers crossed—to get a jump on the holiday season.

I started a couple of Christmas themed stories last year. I’d really like to finish those up and submit them for the season ahead.


Thank you so much for having me on your lovely blog, January!
I’m honoured to be your first guest. Hugs!


Latest Release – Autumn’s Healing – Totally Bound
Paranormal Erotic Romance
Released – May 16, 2017


Blurb:

Rarely do we get to pick our battles… Often, they choose us.

Single mom Mikaylah MacDonough and her only daughter Autumn have been on their own a long time. So, when Autumn goes off to school, it seems only natural for Kaylah to pull up stakes and follow, though with some clear-cut boundaries, of course. She’s determined to give Autumn space to enjoy the whole college experience but remain close enough for emergencies, meals and laundry. But when the closing date of the current house overlaps with taking possession of the ‘new’ house, along with orientation week, Autumn has to go it alone. From that moment on, Kaylah’s dreams of a new beginning turn into a complete and total nightmare.

When former serviceman Jerusalem Aames drives up to the century-old Cleary house, he sees dollar signs for himself and his all-veteran crew. The rundown, old place would finally put his fledgling construction-renovation firm in the black. But the moment he meets the gorgeous homeowner who had been duped into buying the money-pit, his attraction is swift and instantaneous.

However, there’s something very strange going on in the dilapidated house that has nothing to do with rotting timbers or shoddy wiring. Whatever it is, it’s affecting Kaylah’s state of mind, and Salem finds himself in a battle he’s not sure he can win.



* * * *
The Always Cambridge Series


Series Blurb: Always Cambridge 1 - 6, Romantic Suspense

The Always Cambridge Series chronicles the life of Holly Cambridge through her tumultuous childhood, violent teen years, into adulthood, and the consequences that stem from being the daughter of mob boss, Bill Cambridge.


~

Caught up in a bitter blood feud with the rival Mayhue family and unable to bear the violence that claimed her mother, Holly sets out to right her father's wrongs. But instead she embarks on an epic journey of sex, love, loss, tragedy and life-altering choices that not only impact her life but that of her beloved bodyguard, Randy Phillips; unsuspecting Federal Agent, Alex Orton; and surprisingly of all, Victor Mayhue, a member of the reviled Mayhue clan.

Can Holly distance herself and the ones she loves, from the violence and corruption she abhors, or will she discover a truth she's feared all along ... Mob life is forever!


Books In Reading Order
Always Cambridge
Running
Misfortune of Birth
Law& Order : Crime & Chaos
Afterlife
Always Holly


Author Bio:

H K Carlton is a multi-published Canadian author of romance and it’s varied sub-genres.

Blogs
Pick a Genre (Wordpress)


Friday, August 18, 2017

REVIEW: UNTAMED by J. S. Marlo

FROM THE DESK OF
DONA PENZA TATTLE, ESQ.
AND
ASSOCIATE WRYE BALDERDASH

Sharing a review from our buds, Tattle and Wrye:

UNTAMED (Duty Bound #3) by J.S. Marlo

Living in her grandfather’s Newfoundland cabin in the outskirts of nowhere, Hannah Parker defended both herself and her young son by using simple tenacity and persistence. Many would consider being deaf a weakness, Hannah ignored it, not allowing the disability to define her any more than she allowed her damaged reputation to brand her. Still, troubles followed her. Deceit stalked her. A killer lurked in the woods and she anticipated no one will believe that truth. Then again, she oft suspected most who come across her path. After all, she didn't even report the local constable’s sexual harassment, believing they would take his statement over hers.

Having been tossed into the remote Newfoundland detachment, the irresistible, slightly knavish Constable Avery Stone immediately delves into unraveling the truth behind unsolved crimes and the death of a dishonored officer. During his investigation, he came upon Hannah and took an interest in the spunky woman and her young son. Knowing few things were as they appeared, he believed in her more than what appeared in reports or what was rumored by those who only thought they understood.

A tangle of deceit mired with a surplus of danger has Hannah accepting Avery’s help, and both falling for the other with instinctive trust.  Only, Hannah’s past relentlessly shadowed her in ways she doesn’t even comprehend, and death set a trap to keep the truth hidden. Would either her or Avery be able to  unravel the endless knots of deception before Hannah and her son were destroyed?

Wrye paced, shaking off the intensity of the story he just devoured. “Wow! Another well-plotted, nicely paced, and mystery oriented story in the third of the Duty Bound Series. UNTAMED has not lost any of the steam or power of the previous two books. It is a stand-alone yet for those who read the first two, it has a few past references to keep the connection alive. Once again, J.S. Marlo has taken us on a journey filled with twists and complications that leave us guessing. There is just enough romance to make you cheer on not only the individual characters but the couple, hopefully to be a family. Hannah, her son Rory and even the dog Snowflake are endearing. Avery beams hero in every possible way, yet has enough tarnish to make him real. This is the perfect read with an unexpected climax and satisfying end. I’m looking forward to more from J.S. Marlo.”

Tattle sipped ginger-spiced tea and sighed. “The Duty Bound Series as a whole is so absorbing and mesmerizing. Each story is unique, and it is difficult to define a favorite. This latest though has taken intrigue to a new level. Imagine being alone in a far off place with a young son to protect, and then imagine you can’t hear. Following this heroine made every shadow, every new turn, every unexpected danger more intense. As always, the writing was tight, the characters realistic, the plot complex and the villains were nasty even though discovering who was villainous was left to the end. And that wasn’t the only obscure identity in the story.” Tattle ran a finger across her lips as if zipping up and locking. “I can say no more. You have to read to discover the reality. And not just this story, but the whole series. You will be enthralled and entertained.”
***


Angelica Hart and Zi ~ Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane
www.champagnebooks.com - www.carnalpassions.com - angelicahartandzi.com










Thursday, August 17, 2017

Give Your Characters Room to Grow


Give your characters room to grow and you will bring them to life; don’t, and they might as well be made out of cardboard.

As a pantser, I don’t do a lot of in-depth outlining of my characters before I start. I prefer to discover what they are like as I write. I let them reveal themselves to me, although I frequently have to pause and discover the backstory that has caused them to behave or react the way that they do.

The story “The Queen’s Pawn” is a good example of this. When we first meet the queen, she comes across as a bit simple-minded. As the tale progresses, we find out who is really in charge. Her daughter is a loud-mouthed shrew. I had to discover why before I could finish the story. They both show sides not obvious when we first meet them. The harried hero of the tale, the young man, also undergoes personal changes over the course of the three volumes. (Admittedly, seemingly slowly at times.).

Even the villains have to have a reason for why they act the way they do. A good villain should believe that he or she is in the right. Very few memorable villains think they are simply evil. They may be seeking justice for a real or imaginary wrong. Remember, the ordinary folks outnumber the psychopaths. (I hope).

I often let the character’s motives become obvious slowly rather than dump them all on the reader in the first chapter. People can also change. Motives may not be obvious. That is part of the fun of writing. I want to get to know the characters better. They can even change the direction of a story once you get to know them better.

In working on a recent manuscript I had reason to pause and consider that some of my characters were too similar. Without using their names you couldn’t tell them apart. That gave me a reason to dig deeper and discover what those differences were. In the process, I learned more about them, and what made them tick.

Take a look at your characters. Are they well-rounded or flat? The best written have emotions the readers should be able to relate to. Do they have good reasons for what they do? You at least should know those motives even if you only hint at them in your novel. Give them room to breathe and they will come to life. That alone will make for a much better story.

R.J.Hore
www.facebook.com/RonaldJHore

The Dark Lady Trilogy (Volume 1,2,3)
The Queen’s Pawn (Volume 1,2,3)
The Housetrap Chronicles (Volumes 1 to 8)
Alex in Wanderland,
Knight’s Bridge
We’re Not in Kansas

Toltec Dawn Trilogy (Volume 1, 2, 3)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Signs of the Times...


Patty and I just got back from our western odyssey—25 days towing the camper behind our Subaru as we toured Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Parks. Along with the fabulous mountain scenery and wildlife, I became fascinated by some of the signs along the way.

One of the first, and coolest, was for Lost Springs, Wyoming. When we saw this, we had to do a double take. (The pic below is from 2007; when we went through, the population had quadrupled, to 4). But we were both going “Did that just say Population 4??? Gotta be the smallest town in America.”

And yes, my research shows that Lost Springs, WY does indeed have the distinction of being the smallest incorporated town in America. Salute!



There were some road signs in Montana that also caught my interest, mainly because I think the fellow who was in charge of naming the roads must have had a great sense of humor. How can you not chuckle at “Bad Route Road”?



But there was also Whoop Up Road (no pic available for this one, unfortunately), along with Cracker Box Road (again, no pic available—hey, we were doing 70 mph here…). 

These are signs that make you want to know the story behind them.  This one, near Hebron, ND, was definitely one of those:




Why Fort Sauerkraut, in the middle of nowhere, North Dakota? Inquiring minds want to know.

And then there were signs that made us go “OK, yeah… Never heard it put like that, but yeah…”


I’ve known a few people who could live under that sign as well… 

But the point of all this, rambling though it may be, is that these things caught our interest, and made us think, or wonder, or want to know more about them.

As writers, if we’re doing our jobs properly, that’s what we do as well. We leave signposts along the way in our stories, to make people want to know more—to keep reading and find out what it’s all about.  Because if the reader doesn’t care to know more, if all they see is something like this



Then that innate sense of curiosity and desire to know the rest of the story won’t kick in. So leave some interesting signs, like this one:



You won’t regret it, and neither will your readers.



Keith W. Willis is a semi-professional word-wrangler and author of the award-winning fantasy/romance Traitor Knight. He lives in upstate NY with his loving, lovely, and extraordinarily patient wife, who is gracious enough to encourage his writing habit, and even reads (and proofreads) his words despite the fact that she doesn't really like fantasy. That's love. He does not drink coffee, and neither owns nor is owned by any critters of the feline persuasion. His second novel, Desperate Knight, will be published on August 7, 2017 by Champagne Book Group.