Friday, November 30, 2012

Blogger Spotlight: A Book Vacation

Today, I have the great pleasure of introducing you to a wonderful individual and blog that SSP has had the honor of knowing for quite some time, going back to the time when we reissued Jackie Gamber's Redheart in fact!  Not only does Shana run a popular blog with a lot of great content, but she also shares some fantastic insights in this interview that can be of help to authors and publishers in working with blogs.  We hope you enjoy our latest installment of Blogger Spotlight!  
-Stephen




Blogger Spotlight # 14


1. Tell us a little about yourself, and your background. 

Well, first, thank you so much to Stephen Zimmer and Seventh Star Press for hosting me as a guest on this Blogger Spotlight Feature! This is so cool! THANK YOU!

So, hello! My name is Shana, and I run the book blog, “A Book Vacation.” I’m a voracious reader (367 books in 2011 alone), so nearly all my free time is, therefore, spent reading because, “books [are] the cheapest vacation you can buy,” as Charlaine Harris once said. Oh, how true that is!

I am currently working on a list of review requests, with over 150 books on it, as well as reading books from my shelves at home and at school. While one might think that this would keep me extremely busy, and it does, I still have lots of time for all the demands of my job as a teacher (and there are a lot), as well as having time to socialize, watch movies, etc., though reading is, indeed, my favorite pastime. I have found that I get a little cranky if I don’t have a chance to read for pleasure at some point during the day, but as you can see, I tend to become wrapped up in my books and, once I start, I usually finish them in one sitting, hence, I generally read a book a day.


2. What kinds of books do you like to read for pleasure? Any favorites?

Mostly, I read Young Adult novels. I really love them (I like to think that they keep me young at heart), and since I force my students to read outside of class, all the time, I figure that I’d better have a decent selection for them to choose from. Thus, I’m constantly reading books I think my students might enjoy, spanning many different topics. Aside from all types of YA, I also read mysteries, thrillers, memoirs, classics, and literature and fiction novels on a fairly regular basis, as I want my blog to be for readers of all types, and not just for YA readers.


3. When did you start your blog, and what motivated you to do it?

I started A Book Vacation on January 23, 2011. One of my co-workers kept telling me that I should start reviewing the books that I read, since there were so many, but I kept putting off the idea because I felt like I wouldn’t be any good at it, and that I didn’t really have the time to spend reviewing. Then… we had a huge blizzard, sending my area into a State of Emergency since we’re not equipped to deal with heavy snowfall. We were off from school for a week, if I remember correctly, and a few days into this “gifted” extension of the holidays, I went stir-crazy. No one was allowed on the roads, all businesses were closed, and I didn’t have cable, so… I began toying with Wordpress, finally creating my own blog for reviews.


4. How did you come up with the name for your site? Is there a story behind it?

As Wordpress requires you to choose your blog name prior to setting up the full account, I had to pick fairly quickly, as I’m somewhat impatient. So, I called up a friend and talked to her about whether or not I should, in fact, start a book review blog, and, if so, what it should be called. We discussed it for about 15 minutes before we decided I should go with “A Book Vacation” based on a quote I love, by Charlaine Harris. It was a rash choice, but I’ve never regretted it—it remains the perfect name for me.



5. What kinds of genres do you cover on your site?

Really, I cover all of them. I don’t discriminate against any genre, though some I enjoy more than others. I will say, though, that I really shy away from ALL novels that deal with explicit sexual situations. Those books really aren’t my style.


6. What kinds of regular features do you have on your site?

On the first of every month, I run a “Recently Released Giveaway Goodness Giveaway.” Basically, this giveaway features eight recent releases that I’ve reviewed, and one lucky winner gets to pick one from the list. It’s an international giveaway (as long as The Book Depository delivers to their country), and I really love running it. Giveaways are my favorite, and I tend to run them for no other reason than that I like to give books away!

I also run “The 99 Cent Club” feature every Saturday. Basically, I troll Amazon and Barnes and Noble for eBooks that are 99 cents on BOTH sites, and then I pick 10 eBooks to post about each week. I also usually do an all-call on Twitter, asking authors if they have any books on both sites for 99 cents, and if any authors respond, I am sure to add them to my next 99 Cent Club Feature. I really enjoy it, though I only came up with the idea for it a few months ago, so it’s still relatively new in the blogosphere.


7. What is the hardest thing about being a blogger?

Finding time to write the reviews. My Kindle makes it so I can read anywhere at any time, even in the car (because my Kindle reads aloud), but I can’t always stop wherever I am and write a review, so they tend to get a bit backed up… right now I’ve got close to 20 outlines I’ve got to complete…


8. What are your favorite things about being a blogger?

Creating relationships with authors. I’ve met some phenomenal people since I started blogging nearly two years ago, and I’ve formed some lasting friendships. I’ve also been introduced to the indie publishing world, and I love it. If I hadn’t started blogging, I would know just how vast the book blogging world really is. Seriously, it floored me when I first began. There are many people out there that love books, and there are many people out there who are very talented writers. I’m just glad I get to be a part of it all, and I consider myself very lucky.

My other favorite part is the giveaways. I love making people happy, and I want people to read, so giving away books just makes sense. Hence my creation of the monthly “Recently Released Giveaway Goodness Giveaway.”


9. If you could give a piece of advice or two to authors looking to work with a blog site, what would you say?

Be respectful of the reviewer’s time, and be polite if they decline a review. Though this is a hobby for most book bloggers, we still like to be treated as professionals. I always feel bad declining a review, but sometimes I’m just not interested in the novel itself, and authors seeking reviews can be downright rude when I tell them that. Also, sometimes book reviewers just don’t have the time to add another book to the pile right now. For most book bloggers, reading and reviewing novels is a pleasure, something we do for fun because we love it. Dealing with authors who are haughty and rude really takes the fun out of it. I actually had an author tell me my name, “A Book Vacation,” was a misnomer because I didn’t have time to review her novel until 2014. As far as I can tell, reading should be a vacation, and that’s why I chose that name. I didn’t choose it so that I could be told when and what to read by an author who is, apparently, very rude. Obviously, I will not be reading that novel for review, nor anything else by that particular author.

Also, give us time. Reading is a lengthy process, and we’ve probably got a ton of other things going on in our lives at the same time, so don’t feel bad if we don’t respond to an email right away. I always get to my emails eventually, and to my review requests as well, but it takes a lot of time.


10. Any last thoughts or things you might want to say to readers who are finding out about your blog for the first time?

Welcome! I hope you enjoy my blog and find some great books to read based on my reviews. Comments are always welcome, and please make sure to check the blog often as I’m ALWAYS running GIVEAWAYS!



Connect with Shana and A Book Vacation at the following links!



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Trailer Premiere: The Witch's Dream by Victoria Danann

Today at the SSP Blog we are proud to introduce you to the book trailer for The Witch's Dream, by Victoria Danann.  Special thanks to Holly and FMB Tours for the opportunity to share this with you!
-Stephen











Title: The Witch's Dream
Series: The Order of the Black Swan, Book 2
Author: Victoria Danann
Genre: Paranormal Romance,
Publisher: 7th House
Ebook/Paperback
Pages: 280

Release Date: October 14th, 2012

Purchase:


Book Description:

READING THE SERIES IN ORDER HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  My Familiar Stranger, BOOK ONE.

From New York to Ireland to Edinburgh to Siena to the Texas Hill Country to Napa Valley, a secret society, a witch, a demon, a psychic, a berserker, an ex-vampire, modern day knights, heroes, werewolves, elves and fae come together where emotions intersect. The story maps a trail from rages to epiphanies, but, in the end, proves that true love can find you in the strangest places, when you're least expecting it, even when you're far, far from home.

SYNOPSIS: He was left behind when Elora Laiken made her choice. Now he’s had it with love, but a transplanted witch who happens to be the world’s best tracker hopes she can change his mind.

The Witch’s Dream begins with B Team on temporary assignment to Black Swan headquarters in Edinburgh where they are supposed to fill in for stretched-thin resources and assist with a werewolf issue. They’ve been given permission to stop in Ireland for a few days and help celebrate a handfasting at the palace in Derry.

When they reach Edinburgh, the afterglow of an elftale wedding quickly turns all business. A missing person report turns into a demon abduction. A simple werewolf sanction becomes a diplomatic issue requiring the one thing Elora is no longer willing to give - finesse.

INCLUDES: The first chapter of the third book, The Summoner's Tale.

Erotic content: 18+ A few steamy scenes. No menage. No BDSM.




Saturday, November 24, 2012

Blogger Spotlight: Workaday Reads

Today we will revisit that wonderful land to the north known as Canada, to bring you an interview with Sarah, the creative force behind Workaday Reads.  Sarah has hosted quite a few visits from SSP authors, and all of us have a great appreciation for her excellent site!  We encourage those of you who are not yet familiar with her blog to give it a visit when you are finished reading the interview!
-Stephen  





Blogger Spotlight # 13

Tell us a little about yourself, and your background. 

I'm from Ontario, Canada. I have a 3.5 year old little boy who has yet to eat or sleep well, and yet never stops running. I'm obsessed with nail polish and change my nails once or twice a week. I work full-time during the day doing accounts receivable for a large company, am currently doing a part-time internship with an ebook publishing company, and spend my "spare time" reading, reviewing and posting on my book review blog Workaday Reads.


What kinds of books do you like to read for pleasure? Any favorites? 

I read all genres, however I especially love science fiction. I've read too many great books to be able to list favourites.


When did you start your blog, and what motivated you to do it?

I started my book blog in Feb 2011 because my reviews were beginning to take over my personal blog. 


How did you come up with the name for your site? Is there a story behind it? 

The name of my personal blog was Workaday Ramblings, because I wrote it during the day while I was at work. When I started my book blog, I wanted to keep the Workaday because it was fairly unique, so I simply changed the Ramblings to Reads. 


What kinds of genres do you cover on your site? 

I cover all genres except erotica.


What kinds of regular features do you have on your site?

I have reviews, author guest posts and interviews during the week, and on the weekend I have On My Wishlist, which is a meme I currently host, as well as a Week in Review post where I mention books I read and got.


What is the hardest thing about being a blogger? 

Finding the time to write posts, and lately, finding the time to read books in order to have reviews to post.


What are your favorite things about being a blogger? 

I have discovered and read many awesome books and conversed with authors that I would never have met if I wasn't blogging. The community between book bloggers is very friendly, and is a great way to discuss books with people who know what you're talking about.


If you could give a piece of advice or two to authors looking to work with a blog site, what would you say?

Read review policies. Personalize emails. Remember that there is a person behind the blog, and that a review is only that one person's opinion about the book.


Any last thoughts or things you might want to say to readers who are finding out about your blog for the first time? 

I am hosting two reading challenges next year which have sign-ups open now: the 2013 Ebook Reading Challenge and the 2013 Self-Published Reading Challenge.



Be sure to connect with Sarah and Workaday Reads at the following links:
Blog site: www.workadayreads.com
Twitter: @wrkreads


Thursday, November 22, 2012

SSP's 7 Day Holiday Sale Now Underway! Great Deals!


Holiday Week Sale! From November 23 through November 29, covering Black Friday, Cyber Monday and more, shop at the SSP online store!


All softcovers, t-shirts, and poster art are 15% off! 

Browse softcovers

Browse T-shirts and Poster Art

Buy one, get one free eBook offer! (further information below)

Plus more additional offers:

With EVERY softcover order made through our online store, receive the full set of art cards and bookmark produced for that book (all our softcover titles have associated art card sets and bookmarks), AND a free ePub or Mobi copy of the book!  Visit our softcover page to browse available titles.  We will email you following your order to ask whether you would like your eBook version in ePub or mobi format.

Buy One, Get One Free eBook Offer!  
Buy any SSP title at Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble for your Nook or Kindle, and receive 1 SSP eBook of your choice free from us in ePub or Mobi format!  

To claim your free eBook, just email us a copy of your dated email receipt  for your Kindle or Nook purchase made between November 23 and November 29th, 2012, to sspstore (at) seventhstarpress.com and tell us which title you would like for your free selection, and whether you would like an ePub or mobi version.

Choose from any of our novels or Seventh Star Single releases!  All titles in the SSP catalog are available in eBook editions.

Be sure to send in your receipts immediately as this offer ends on November 30th, 2012.

And there's more!  Some catalog titles carry additional Seventh Star Single eBook bonuses!

Order Steven Shrewsbury's Thrall in softcover, and receive the ePub or Mobi versions of Steven's short stories Insurmountable and Author and Finisher of Our Flesh.

Order Steven Shrewsbury's Overkill in softcover, and receive the ePub or Mobi version of Steven's short story Beginning of the Trail.

Order R.J. Sullivan's Haunting Obsession in softcover and eBook, and receive the ePub or Mobi version of Rj's short story Backstage pass.

Order Michael West's Cinema of Shadows or Spook House in softcover and receive the ePub or Mobi versions of Michael's short stories Goodnight and For the River is Wide and the Gods are Hungry

Order any of Stephen Zimmer's Rising Dawn Saga novels in softcover (The Exodus Gate, The Storm Guardians, and The Seventh Throne) and receive the ePub or Mobi version of his short storyTemples Rising

Order any of Stephen Zimmer's Fires in Eden novels in softcover (Crown of Vengeance, Dream of Legends, and Spirit of Fire) and receive his short stories Lion Heart, Into Glory Ride, and Land of Shadow in ePub or Mobi versions




Creating a Literary Franchise-A Visit With Dianne Lynn Gardner


Today we bring you a special holiday weekend visit from Dianne Lynn Gardner, whose Deception Peak, her debut novel, introduced YA Fantasy readers to the Ian's Realm Series. Dianne is also releasing short stories set in the same world as the Ian's Realm series, so we thought it would be fun to explore Dianne's approach to the development of a literary franchise. We hope you enjoy this special author interview!
-Stephen

For those who have not read Deception Peak, give us a little background on the book and the worlds it is set in. 

The series is titled ‘The Ian's Realm Saga’. The first book, ‘Deception Peak’ is a young adult adventure fantasy about a teenager, Ian Wilson, who follows his father through a portal that magically appears on their computer screen. They travel into a deceptively beautiful Realm, where horses run free, the wind sings prophetic melodies, and their computer avatars come to life.

But when father and son are separated, Ian is abducted by a tribe of dragon worshipers and is forced to find his courage. As he struggles for his freedom and embarks on a perilous search to find his father, Ian meets the true peacekeepers of the Realm. It's then that he learns he has a greater purpose for being there.”

The Realm itself is pristine countryside. Colorful forests, vast prairies, a turquoise blue ocean and a foreboding mountain range that reaches far to the east, hinting at lands beyond. We only see a section of the Realm in the Trilogy (Deception Peak, The Dragon Shield, and Rubies and Robbers) but there is more of the world to explore in the series such as the Island of Taikus where wizards and sorceresses battle for power, Alisubbo, the technologically advanced kingdom of man, and the legends of a people that live north of the fjords.

Ian and his father Alex Wilson stumble into the Realm through their computer. But they aren't the first from our world who have arrived.

Did you originally envision writing a series, or was that something that evolved as you conceived of the story?

It evolved. The first book I wrote wasn't Deception Peak. It was actually The Dragon Shield. But being a new author, I had many professionals look at my story and one editor had so many questions about the world and what Ian was doing there, that I knew I had to write the prequel first, and that's how Deception Peak came to be. When I designed that book, I outlined a three book story arc hence creating the Trilogy.

How many books are planned in the Ian’s Realm Series?

I'm not sure. I have two other novels drafted after the Trilogy (which by the way are already written). It seems like I could go on forever because there are new characters showing themselves constantly, and their stories beg to be told. I keep thinking I need to write the grand finale after Cassandra's Castle, but it might not happen that way. The more book six unravels in my mind, the more I'm seeing another series arc developing.

When did the idea of short stories associated with the worlds of your series happen?

After I wrote Cassandra's Castle and began editing Deception Peak, I realized so much of the magic of the Realm had yet to be explained.--neither had the culture and the religion been illustrated. Those elements are very important influences in the characters and events in the Realm. The Tale of the Four Wizards are four short stories that package the 'why' questions that readers will, and should have. And since I've finished writing those shorts already, I've been able to add some additional gems in The Dragon Shield and Rubies and Robbers that weaves the stories even tighter together.

Are the various short stories stand-alones or are they connected?

You can read them as stand alones. They make nice little 'legends' as they have a folk-lore feel to them. But the stories are about four wizards who leave their homeland together in a little skiff. Fate separates them. So it seems natural that as we follow Silvio, we would question what happens to the others. Each story tells the tale of one of the wizards and the part that he plays in the history of the Realm. I think you'll lose some of the meaning if you don't read the whole series.

Tell us a little about the first short stories and a few ways in which they relate to the novel series?

The Tale of the Four Wizards is subtitled Patriarchs of the Realm. Here is the initial event:

On the island of Taikus the Sorceress Queen Hacatine overthrows the reign of the wizards. She robs its inhabitants of their power, harvesting magic from every source. Her goal? To defeat the Winds of the North and conquer the land of men. With only four more young wizards from which to draw power, Hacatine nears her goal of supremacy.

Silvio, Meneka, Kaempie and Reuben flee in the dark of night to escape the witch queen. When fate leaves the youngest of the wizards, Silvio, alone, and as a decoy, he has to either outrun the queen, or out-smart her.

Without giving you too many spoilers, Silvio ends up gaining much wisdom, though he pays a painful price. He is a crucial character in both The Diary of a Conjurer (book 4), and Cassandra's Castle (book 5). Some of my beta readers tell me he is their favorite character.


What lies ahead on the release schedule for both the series and the short stories?

The Four Wizard short stories will come out one by one as eBooks once a month until February. The Dragon Shield is scheduled to be released mid-February. We're talking about releasing Rubies and Robbers in possibly April. Sometime between the two novels we'll be releasing an anthology of the Tale of the Four Wizards for print. The Diary of a Conjurer and Cassandra's Castle are still waiting release dates.


What are the primary differences or challenges that you find in writing a novel versus a short story?

Actually I didn't think, after having written five novels that I'd be able to write a short story. But now that I have, I found it's really fun! Novels are of course harder and more time consuming. Outlining and character arcing are crucial but they also remind me of putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle. Only you not only get to piece them together, but you get to build the pieces.

Short stories are a step past the outline. Voice is really important in a short story. You character has to have character from the very beginning.

Is there anything you’ve discovered as a result of doing short stories associated with the novels? Have they lead to a broader development of your worlds?

Most definitely. They've helped me to understand the Realm better, and to realize how people's habits and cultures form simply through their beliefs systems. Knowing the origin of their cultures, I can better understand the conflicts and tensions that are rumbling under the surface.


You have created short stories based in your worlds, so what are your thoughts of basing other full series of novels in your worlds?

I know I'll be writing more novels and more short stories about the Realm. A short story can tell a lot about individuals as well as cultures and there are some individuals that have emerged that need their stories told. I think taking these kind of details and elaborating on them really enriches the series. I'm discovering things I didn't know! As far as novels go, we haven't seen the last. There are lands unexplored, and people needing to grow up. And even after five novels, there is still a conflict that has yet to be resolved.


Give us some links where readers can find your work and connect with you.

I want to first introduce everyone to my blog. I do progress reports of both my writing and illustrating. I do research reports with photos I've done a page on the filming of the trailer, how to build a yurt, I've introduced the models I use for the illustrations, and any other colorful thing I can think to put on there. Plus I keep my followers up to date on launch dates, book signings, tours and interviews. So if you want to know what's going on in the Realm, that's the grand central station!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Blogger Spotlight: Bookishly Me

Today we head across the Atlantic, to visit with the creator of Bookishly Me, Kim van Aken!  Bookishly Me  has hosted a number of things related to SSP, and each and every time has been a great experience for the various authors.  I'm very excited about introducing you to one of Holland's top speculative fiction book bloggers, so proceed and enjoy the interview!
-Stephen





Blogger Spotlight #12:


1. Tell us a little about yourself, and your background.

I’m Dutch, 28 years old and live with my two kittycats. I work fulltime, currently still as a Customer Service Employee, but in a week I’ll start a new job as a Department Secretary. Jeej!! Besides reading I also love to do crafts, fixing up old furniture and painting. I’m a pessimist and love everything pink!


2. What kinds of books do you like to read for pleasure? Any favorites?

That all depends on my mood sometimes I am in need of something really dark and scary and at other times I need something to cheer me up. Some authors I really enjoy are Chris Carter, Karen Rose and Jim Butcher.

3. When did you start your blog, and what motivated you to do it?

I started my blog over 2 years ago because I wanted a spot to dump my thoughts about the books I read. I found a few other blogs and thought a blog would be a good spot to do so. A month later I found Goodreads but, well I already had the blog and I stuck with i tand I haven’t regretted it once.

4. How did you come up with the name for your site? Is there a story behind it?

Well I changed my blogname two times the last time was earlier this year. There isn’t a story behind it I just lacked the inspiration for a good name and somehow while using a online dictionary I came up with the name Bookish which lead to the name Bookishly Me and since it wasn’t taken yet I took it.

5. What kinds of genres do you cover on your site?

I cover a lot of genres on my blog. As long as it is fiction and I like to read it, it is welcome on the blog.

6. What kinds of regular features do you have on your site?

Besides the reviews, blogtours, guest posts and interviews (you know the regular stuff) I do not have any regular features I have on my blog.

7. What is the hardest thing about being a blogger?

Saying no is definitely the hardest. I find it incredibly hard to say no to a review request especially when the story appeals to me. I have to draw a line sometimes. And blogging is a lot of work. I did not know that when I started blogging. There are times when I fin dit hard to find the balance between a fulltime job, blogging and life.

8. What are your favorite things about being a blogger?

Meeting new people from all over the world. I met some amazing people since I started blogging.

9. If you could give a piece of advice or two to authors looking to work with a blog site, what would you say?

Always check policies! I do think that is the most important thing. See if they cover your genre, what format they like/want. If it’s not you it is better to look elsewhere.

10. At this time, do you notice any differences in what is being covered on the European-based blogs versus the United States Blogs and elsewhere? If there are some trends unique to Europe, let us know!

When it comes to English blogs there aren’t really any differences I notice. Nowadays we all have access to the same books thanks to ebooks.

11. Any last thoughts or things you might want to say to readers who are finding out about your blog for the first time?

Well I hope you will stop by for a visit! If you have any suggestions, questions or like to talk books please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thanks to Seventh Star Press for having me here today!



Be sure to connect with Kim and Bookishly Me at the following links:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lakebridge: Summer Virtual Book Tour: Review

Book tours are always a wonderful way to discover new writers, and today is definitely a prime opportunity for that as we bring you a tour stop for Natasha Troop, and a review of her book Summer, the second title in the Lakebridge Cycle.  Be sure to read the review, and then look through the other tour dates offering a variety of activities such as guest posts, interviews, and more.
-Stephen






About Lakebridge: Summer:

In the aftermath of a tragic spring day, the people of Stansbury, Vermont, are unable to forget what happened, as they have all the tragedies of their past. After the media exploited their pain, they have become uneasy with the world beyond their town and with any outsiders.

In the aftermath of the media deluge, latecomers straggle into Stansbury looking to pick up the scraps of stories left behind. What they find, however, is that the powerful forces that have guided the destinies of the people of the town for hundreds of years are now at war with one another and in need of pawns.

In the aftermath of Spring, there is Summer.



My review of Lakebridge: Summer

I was highly intrigued to read Lakebridge: Summer when I was told that its genre could be described as "supernatural horror literary fiction."  I love speculative fiction, and especially well-written speculative fiction, so needless to say I looked forward to my foray into the Lakebridge Cycle from author Natasha Troop.

Natasha establishes the tone for the book very quickly.  Early in my reading, I got a good sense that I would be exploring a town like Stephen King's Castle Rock in the sense of that vibe of a small community filled with an array of quirky and interesting characters around whom lots of unexpected things happen.  Natasha puts her own stamp on Stansbury, Vermont and its inhabitants, even including the non-human population, such as a moose and a cat that possesses an exquisite vocabulary (at least for those humans that bother to listen and understand the noble little Mr. Whiskers).

Another mark of a good speculative fiction writer is the ability to establish the ground rules in relation to the things that the reader (most times) must suspend belief about.  Natasha comes through here as well, as I got a solid grounding in the way her supernatural elements worked, the basis for the magic elements involved, and the aforementioned talking animals.

We meet quite a few characters in this tale, from the roving writer that can talk to ghosts, Marcus, to others such as Gil, an eccentric man living under the burden of past tragedies, Jen, a no-nonsense state trooper, Tom, the town sheriff struggling with alcohol after losing his love, Steve, a rather heavy-handed deputy, Sean, another writer who has a penchant for following Marcus around, and many more.  There are times when the flow of the story takes a few diversions with additional exposition regarding the worlds of many of these characters, but not so much that the plot derails.

The supernatural elements are very interesting.  Natasha's afterlife for humans has a little of the melancholy finite tone like that in Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials series, and the dynamic of ghosts flocking to talk to Marcus because he was a living being who could interact with them brought to mind a little of Brian Lumley's wonderful Necroscope novels.  There are powerful supernatural beings that Natasha leaves some ambiguity to, such as the Others and the Travelers.  It all makes for a very nice mix and their presence in Stansbury is explained thoroughly enough.

There is a balance of humor, horror, and quirky characters that makes me think Stansbury could easily take form a as a television series on something like the SyFy channel.  It is the kind of read that offers twists and turns, and appearances can often be deceiving.

This was my first time reading Natasha Troop's work, and I definitely am looking forward to reading much more from her in the future.  Lakebridge Summer: is a literary accomplishment; a highly-enjoyable read crafted with quality writing and a keen understanding of speculative fiction.  I give it 4 stars without hesitation!




About the Author:

Natasha grew up in Southern California and received her Bachelor’s degree from UCLA in Comparative Literature. She also holds Masters Degrees in both Secondary Education and Creative Writing. Natasha currently lives in the Phoenix area with her spouse, son, daughter and menagerie of pets, including a Basset named Moose and a very overprotective collie dog. Aside from writing and teaching high school students to love theatre.



Lakebridge: Summer Tour Dates

11/5 - Lost Inside the Covers - Review
11/6 - Jess Resides Here - Character Interview
11/7 - Broadcast from the Bistro - Live Podcast (7pm EST)
11/8 - Author Interrupted - Interview
11/9 - Bunny’s Review - Excerpt
11/10 - Come Selahway With Me - Guest Post
11/11 - Seventh Star Press Blog - Review
11/12 - WTF Are You Reading - Review
11/13 - Darlene’s Book Nook - Guest Post
11/14 - Book in the Bag - Interview
11/15 - The Cabin Goddess - Review


This virtual tour brought to you by:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from First Rule Publicity from the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




Friday, November 9, 2012

Blogger Spotlight: Beauty in Ruins

Today, we must thank SSP's Michael West a little, as it was a pair of his short stories that initially brought Bob Milne of Beauty in Ruins into regular contact with SSP. Since then, SSP has been honored to have been on Bob's site with several of its authors on tours, Amazon Free Days, reviews and other activities. Beauty in Ruins is a first class site run by a dedicated guy with both a love for speculative fiction and an openness to independent and small press releases. You can't ask for anything more than that! So proceed forward and visit with the main man at Beauty in Ruins, Bob Milne!
-Stephen





Blogger Spotlight #11:

1. Tell us a little about yourself, and your background.

I spend my days in the office spinning corporate fictions (press releases, marketing proposals, and internal communications), and my evenings at home spinning literary fictions (short stories, novels, and book reviews). In between, I am the father of two boys, and husband to one of the most patient and understanding women in the world. I often think that the fact that my family can put up with my eccentricities is just proof that truth really is stranger than fiction!


2. What kinds of books do you like to read for pleasure? Any favorites?

I like imaginative tales of places that could never exist and things that could never happen, so I tend to read a lot of epic fantasy, supernatural horror, and science fiction. Stephen King has long been a favourite of mine, and has the distinction of being the first 'adult' author to warp my mind. Somewhere, in one of the many boxes scattered about our house, that old tattered paperback copy of Pet Sematary is just waiting for one of my boys to give it a read.

As much as he often tries my patience with teasers about projects that seem to take forever to see the light of day, I'm not sure there's a more complete storyteller alive today than Clive Barker. His Books of Blood contain some of the best short stories I've ever read, and Imajica is one of those few books I can read again and again, always finding something new to enjoy.

When I'm in the mood for something different, however, I'll also dabble in a techno-thriller (Tom Clancy), an adventure (Clive Cussler), a good thriller (Preston & Child), or any story with a strong element of archaeology or paleontology. I may not be able to make a living hunting for dinosaurs or lost civilizations, but that doesn't mean I can't dream of what might have been.


3. When did you start your blog, and what motivated you to do it?

I've been blogging at Beauty in Ruins for about a year now, but have been posting book reviews to places like Goodreads and Amazon for several years. As for what motivated me, there were really two elements.

The first was simply a desire to add what I felt was some much-needed variety to the book blogging world. I had a few genre-specific blogs I had been following for quite some time, but most of what was out there seemed to be focused on more mainstream or young adult titles. The authors I rushed out to buy on release day, and the books I stayed up until 2 or 3 in the morning to finish, just didn't seem to get the exposure I felt they deserved. It was really about giving back, thanking them for their work, and hopefully directing a few new readers their way.

The second was, quite honestly, a desire to network with readers, authors, and publishers. Ever since I realized that being the next Indiana Jones was not a viable career option, I have wanted to be a writer. Over the past year I've learned that the opportunities out there today, thanks to publishers like Seventh Star Press, are almost limitless, and that I am certainly not alone in the pursuit of dreams.


4. How did you come up with the name for your site? Is there a story behind it?

Actually, the name Beauty in Ruins came about more from my photography hobby than reading or reviewing. I've always been fascinated by abandoned historical places, especially those that have a story behind them. Somebody once commented that I really knew how to capture beauty in the ruins in photograph, and the sentiment just kind of stuck with me.


5. What kinds of genres do you cover on your site?

Fantasy, horror, and science fiction are definitely the predominant genres on my blog, mostly because that's what I've been reading (of offered to read). I haven't had the chance to work in as many techno-thriller, adventures, or thrillers as I would like, but they're sitting there on the shelf, just waiting for their turn.


6. What kinds of regular features do you have on your site?

The only 2 memes I regularly participate in are Waiting on Wednesday, which is great for sharing anticipated reads, and Feature & Follow Friday, which has been great for networking and getting to know new bloggers. I also take part in the #TuesDecay theme on Google+, but I haven't been as diligent about cross-posting those photos to my blog as I should be.



7. What is the hardest thing about being a blogger?

Saying 'no' to a review request. I hate having to turn down an author, especially when the book looks interesting, but it's far too easy to become overburdened. When getting through that pile of review titles becomes more of a burden than a pleasure, it's time to practice that 'no' and give myself time to do justice to the books I have waiting.


8. What are your favorite things about being a blogger?

Number one would be discovering new books, and number two would be getting to know new authors. There are so many titles that have come my way over the past year that I never would have known existed, much less been compelled to pick up, had it not been for the introductions made through my blog.


9. If you could give a piece of advice or two to authors looking to work with a blog site, what would you say?

First and foremost, I have to say do your homework. Research the blogs you want to work with, find out what they cover (and don't cover), and make sure you're a good fit. I have a pretty detailed Review Policy posted on my site, and I'm still amazed by how many authors submit books that I've explicitly stated do not appeal to me in any fashion.

Second, don't be afraid to follow-up on a request. It's one thing for a reviewer to have a stack of paperbooks staring at them from the shelf, demanding attention, but it's another thing entirely to have a few e-books buried in their e-reader. Don't be impatient, but don't risk letting yourself get lost in the shuffle.


10. Any last thoughts or things you might want to say to readers who are finding out about your blog for the first time?

I may be strange and eccentric, and our tastes may not always match, but I am passionate about what I read. You're not going to get friendly, non-committal, safe reviews from me. If I love a book, then you're going to know it - and hopefully want to read it! Similarly, while I would rather quietly discard a book I didn't enjoy than waste space telling you about it, I'm not shy about reviewing books that I've absolutely loathed or detested. Also, I don't try to make my reviews fit a certain niche, so don't be surprised to see something come up that you didn't expect - odds are, I didn't expect it either!



Be sure to connect with Bob and Beauty in Ruins at the following links!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Dementional Book Tour: Book Review

Today I have the pleasure of introducing and reviewing a wonderful author, Tonya Cannariato.  I invite you to try out the intriguing blend of science fiction and romance that is contained in Dementional.  My thoughts are below.  Be sure to explore the array of guest posts, interviews, and other events that are part of Tonya's tour, as these activities are a great way to learn more about an author and their work.  So without further delay, lets explore the dimensions of Dementional! ;)
-Stephen





About Dementional:

Mark Inman has two loves: particle physics and Sarah. She agrees to become his wife at the same time his experiment to find the Higgs boson goes off the rails.

Journey with Mark while his existence melts and reforms in unpredictable ways as the veils between realities thin. His exploration of the minutiae of quantum physics builds a fascinating tapestry of alternate universes.

His search for survival, and the search for meaning and what is real, drive Mark as he experiences lives he never dreamed possible. His only touchstones: find Sarah and find his way home.




My Review of Dementional:
Dementional is a book whose title embraces it in a perfect way.  The story is truly about dimensions throughout, both in an interior, personal sense, and in a fascinating scientific sense.

I have always found it interesting how the worlds of the metaphysical and the scientific are drawing closer to closer, especially when it comes to areas such as quantum physics and string theory.  There are real scientific foundations for the possibility of multiple planes of existence, as well as the endurance of consciousness in a non-physical state.

Tony Cannariato takes these ideas and fuses them into a story that has well-developed characters, depth, and vision.  It is not often that you find a novel that can work both as a science fiction tale AND a romance, but Dementional walks that line elegantly.

The story is told from a first-person POV, involving a scientist named Mark who is working on a very advanced scientific project involving dark matter. At the same time that he is about to wed the love of his life, Sarah.  Something goes awry, and he finds himself in another body that is a version of himself, in a place where there is another Sarah.

What follows is quite an adventure, one that brings him into other dimensions and causes him to experience an array of perspectives.  Some are similar to the human existence he is used to, and others are quite different.  Readers are in for a real adventure as Tonya brings to life a number of worlds and modes of being.  I do not wish to tell you what you will encounter, as her imagination is extraordinary when it comes to the various incarnations of Mark.

Tonya weaves in some powerful emotion during this sequence with flows of love and loss, in the way that a vivid dream that one wishes to stay in can become painfully ephemeral.  Her prose is solid, and she demonstrates the kind of vocabulary that graces Dementional with a literary edge.

I found the prologue to have a little awkwardness to it, something that might cause some readers to hesitate or balk at first.  Any reader such as this would be well-advised to continue forward, for the book settles into a nice track and keeps moving until the wonderful finale.

Dementional is a highly satisfying read, both entertaining and thought-provoking.  A solid 4 stars!  Tonya Cannariato is an author you would be well-advised to keep an eye on!


About the Author: 

A voracious reader since she was a toddler, and an ordained spiritualist, Tonya Cannariato has now presided over the marriage of her love of reading and her love of writing. She’s lived a nomadic life, following first her parents in their Foreign Service career through Africa, Europe, and Asia, and then her own nose criss-crossing America as she’s gotten old enough to make those choices for herself. She’s currently based in Milwaukee with her three loves: her husband and two Siberian Huskies. She suspects her Huskies of mystical alchemy with their joyous liberation of her muse and other magical beings for her inspiration. She loves to sleep, to watch her interesting dreams, some of which are now finding new life in written form.

Connect with Tonya at:



Dementional TOUR DATES – Nov 1 - Nov 18

11/5 - A Few Words - Guest Post
11/6 - Babs Book Bistro - Excerpt
11/7 - Darlene’s Book Nook - Guest Post
11/8 - Seventh Star Press Blog - Review
11/9 - Fighting Monkey Press - Review
11/9 - The Cabin Goddess - Interveiw and Recipe
11/10 - Night Owl Reads - Character Interview
11/10 - Lauries Thoughts and Reviews - Guest Post
11/11 - From the Bootheel Cotton Patch - Character Post
11/12 - Library Girl Reads - Excerpt
11/13 - Author Interrupted - Guest Post
11/6 - Broadcast from the Bistro - Podcast (7:30pm Eastern)
11/13 - {Dive} Under the Cover - Review
11/14 - Book in the Bag - Interview/Review
11/14 - Reading Away the Days - Guest Post




Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from First Rule Publicity from the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Infinity Children Blog Tour: Book Spotlight and Giveaway!

Today we are pleased to bring you a spotlight for the release of Infinity Children, by Trevor E. Donaldson!  Special thanks to FMB Tours for bringing us yet another excellent author and book to share with all of you! Be sure to enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a paperback or eBook version of Infinity Children!



Title: Infinity Children
Author: Trevor E. Donaldson
Genre: Science fiction, Thriller, Horror,
Publisher: Eternal Press
Ebook/Paperback
Pages: 198

Purchase:


Book Description:

Only time will tell who is master and who is servant. Lesser gods walk the Earth as do their children. The battles fought between their factions and those of mankind could break the world. The only hope of survival lies in a bloodied journal, discovered amidst the ruins of an ancient civilization, far in the Middle East.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 2, 2012

Blogger Spotlight: Darlene's Book Nook


I am very excited to bring you Darlene from Darlene's Book Nook today for the SSP Blogger Spotlight! Darlene has hosted many tour stops, guest posts, new book announcements and other activities from Seventh Star Press for quite some time now, becoming one of our absolute favorite bloggers to work with, and we think everyone should have a chance to learn a little bit more about Darlene! So enjoy this interview, and please visit her great site! 

-Stephen






Blogger Spotlight #10:

Darlene!
1. Tell us a little about yourself, and your background.

I am a busy mom of two daughters, and we are always on the go! When I am not busy with homeschooling and dashing off to swimming/music/art/gymnastics lessons, I am working as an immigration consultant. In my very little free time (usually very late at night), I try to squeeze in some blogging!



2. What kinds of books do you like to read for pleasure? Any favorites?

My current favourite genres are Paranormal Romances and Dystopia! I never considered myself a Harlequin girl until I was persuaded to read my first Paranormal Romance and now I’m hooked! I have always loved mysteries and suspense, as well as horror. I also enjoy Urban Fantasy. I read a lot of historical fiction and classics aloud to my children.

My favourite book that I have read this year is Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, which is translated from Japanese. Many people say that The Hunger Games series is based on this book, but I have not read that series yet so I cannot comment. As opposed to The Hunger Games, Battle Royale is *not* intended for young adults. If you are a fan of survival stories and like fast-paced thrillers and are not put off by graphic violence, I highly recommend it!!

Another favourite that I have read this year is The First Days by Rhiannon Frater. I cannot remember when I was last so scared while reading a book! I cannot wait to read the rest of the series. I highly recommend it to zombie fans!


3. When did you start your blog, and what motivated you to do it?

Accountability! I was always an avid reader until I had children. Life became very busy and reading adult literature fell by the wayside because I was always reading books to the kids. From 2002 to 2010, I read only three adult books! One of my colleagues recommended a book to me (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society) and told me that I simply *had* to read it. The library had over 100 holds on it, but no one had requested the Audio CDs. With my thrice weekly commute to work, I knew I could get at least three hours of listening time in a week so I thought I’d give it a shot. Since then, I have been hooked on audio books and they are a great way for busy moms like me who have little sit-down time to read and the need to multi-task while reading. I raved so much about the audio book that I was given an iPod for my birthday that same month so that it was easier to listen while on the go. That was in November 2010, which is when I started my blog. I thought that blogging would give me the accountability that I needed to ensure that I always made the time to read adult literature. I always have, and still do, enjoy reading books with my children but it is nice to read books that are just for me.

For the first six months of blogging, I had no followers, and no one even knew that I had a blog! I posted my reviews on my blog as a way of keeping track of what I had read and what I liked. I never did it because I thought that people would read them! As I found more online reading challenges and started visiting other blogs, it opened up a whole new world to me (book blogging) that I didn’t know existed! In May 2011, I started to publicize my blog through online communities and participating in weekly memes. I slowly started gaining followers, and I found some wonderful blogging buddies!


4. How did you come up with the name for your site? Is there a story behind it?

I actually did not put a lot of thought into it! As mentioned earlier, I started my blog just for me with no intention for anyone else to ever read it! I wanted a cozy feel, so that is how I came up with “book nook.” Some people have asked if my “nook” is related to the e-reader, Nook, and it is not. I can’t even buy a Nook here in Canada!


5. What kinds of genres do you cover on your site?

I read a little bit of everything, but I am most interested in Paranormal Romances, Mystery/Suspense, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Paranormal, and Romantic Suspense. I also accept Juvenile Fiction, which I will read aloud to my children.


6. What kinds of regular features do you have on your site?

I participate in primarily two weekly features hosted by other bloggers called “Stacking The Shelves” (where we share what we received during the week – including those books bought, won, received as gifts, review copies, or library books) and “Waiting on Wednesday” (where we pick a pre-published book that we are anxiously waiting for). We share the link on the host’s blog, and then we can read the posts from other bloggers. I enjoy seeing what other bloggers are reading, and I am always adding to my never-ending “To Be Read” list! I find that other bloggers often give the best book recommendations, so I am definitely influenced by the comments I read.

Last year, I also started my own weekly feature called “Spotlight Saturday” where I will spotlight an author and their work with a guest post or author interview and a giveaway. Most of the authors that I feature are independent or from a small-press publisher, and I love being able to showcase an author’s work and give some free publicity!

I also participate in blog tours and giveaway hops.

In recognition of my 2nd Year Blogoversary coming up on November 9th and my birthday this month, I am participating in a “30 Day Book Challenge” where I will blog each day and complete the day’s question.


7. What is the hardest thing about being a blogger?

Blogging is a lot of work! Because I initially started it only as a way to give myself accountability, I had no idea what I was getting into once I started to publicize my blog! I try really hard to keep the content fresh by participating in the weekly memes, writing reviews, and joining blog tours and giveaway hops. It is very easy to over-extend myself, and I do worry about blogger burn-out. At times, I need to cut back on the tours to give priority to family matters.


8. What are your favorite things about being a blogger?

I love books, and I love to discover new authors and their work! It is exciting to meet other people who love reading as much as I do, and I love to interact with other bloggers. I am slightly (okay, I mean “seriously”) addicted to reading challenges, which help me to branch out of my comfort zone and read books that I normally wouldn’t pick up.


9. If you could give a piece of advice or two to authors looking to work with a blog site, what would you say?

Most importantly, read the blogger’s review policy. Be aware of what genres they accept for review and in what formats. Not all bloggers accept digital copies. If you are looking for a review, ask for an anticipated timeframe. I also recommend a monumental amount of patience because bloggers can, and do, get overwhelmed with requests and tend to get backlogged! We do not get paid for our reviews, and we are doing this simply for the love of reading. I hope that authors and publishers can remember that if a review is not completed when promised and delays are encountered. We work and we have families, and it is sometimes hard to find the time just to read when we are also trying to keep up with blogging on top of that! It is hard to juggle everything and strike a balance.

Most bloggers would be happy to feature an author during a tour or promo with a guest post/interview and giveaway, so I would encourage authors to not be afraid to ask.


10. Any last thoughts or things you might want to say to readers who are finding out about your blog for the first time? 

I hope that you will stop by for a visit! Stay tuned for lots of giveaways this month as I celebrate both my blogoversary and my birthday! If any authors would like to be featured on my blog, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.

Thanks so much, Stephen, and to Seventh Star Press for featuring me on your blog! It was a lot of fun!!




Be sure to connect with Darlene and Darlene's Book Nook at the following links!





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