Thursday, September 26, 2013

Guest Post: Gaelen VanDenbergh

Join Gaelen VanDenbergh, author of the contemporary women's fiction novel, Running Against Traffic, as she tours the blogosphere September 2 - Septembe 27, 2013 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!


Paige Scott spent her childhood shuffled between relatives who ignored her, and her adult life hiding in her crumbling marriage to wealthy David Davenport. When David suddenly thrusts her into a remote, impoverished world, Paige is forced to face the betrayals of her past - not to mention the colorful townies of her present. Unexpected friendships and her discovery of running propel her on a jagged and comical journey toward learning how to truly live.

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Pump Up Your Book and Gaelen VanDenbergh are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card!

$100 Amazon Gift Card
Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $100 Amazon Gift Certificate
  • This giveaway begins September 2 and ends September 27, 2013.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, September 30, 2013.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


How to Make Your Characters Believable

Your characters are crucial to a good story. Yes, there must be a plot. Things have to happen to these people. But in my opinion, if the characters are not believable, the most riveting story will fall flat.

You have to know your characters. What do they like to eat? If they had a day entirely to themselves, alone, what would they choose to do? Do they have secret dreams or desires that no one knows about? How do they react in various situations? If you think about a close friend of yours, think of all that you know of that person's idiosyncrasies. Carefully consider your characters in the same way.

Consider personal history. Where did they grow up? What was their family situation? Do they have brothers and sisters? Were they nurtured or neglected or something in-between? What turning points occurred in their life? What were their relationships like with partners over the years?

If I find myself struggling with the process of getting to know one of my characters, and this has happened many times, I pretend we are meeting for a drink, and I ask them questions. As the conversation in my head progresses, I begin to sort out who this person is and what made them who they are, what brought them to this point in their lives, what they are going through in the present. I can be very nosy.

Once your characters become real to you, your writing will portray them honestly, and they will therefore be believable to your readers.

Finally, pay attention to the details. For me, once I have truly gotten to know a character the way I would know a close friend, I can hear them talk, I see their body language, and I often think I know how they would react in certain situations. Though, as I write, they sometimes surprise me, and then we have to go back to the bar to discuss it. Why did they do that? What made them say that? Don't let them try to change the subject. This may be their story but it's your book. Find out what's really going on.

If this seems like a lot of work, consider your friendships in real life. Did they just come about, or did you spend time getting to know these people? It wasn't really work, was it? Well, with some people it's work. But with people you have created, it should fascinate and engross you. For me, it's the absolute best part of the writing process.


I am a writer, runner, reader, compulsive list-maker, mother and zookeeper (it feels like it, anyway). I grew up in Philadelphia, moved around a bit – Maine, Boston, NYC, back to Philly – and I have lived here for the past twelve years. I live with my husband and daughter, a fat cat, several fish, and a one-eyed dog.
Monday, September 23, 2013

Banned Book Week

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Book Blast: The Sotweed Smuggler


The Sotweed Smuggler, the 2010 historical fiction winner of the Houston Writer’s Guild, tells a story of suspense. Will Sherewell, the son of a prosperous merchant marine captain, learns when his father’s will is read, that he has inherited his ship. Living with his pious mother, he has little knowledge of sailing and anticipates a majestic vessel. Instead, he finds The Emperor’s Dictum aka The King’s Dick, notorious for smuggling sotweed and whiskey between Devonshire and Scotland.

Will yearns to be like his father and sails the Dick, enduring ridicule, fierce storms, pirate attacks, and curses of legendary fairies and ghosts, while finding companionship with his runaway brother and discovering the woman he wishes to marry. In spite of his father’s spying, treachery, murder, and Scottish border intrigue, Will learns he served Scotland with honor defeating the outlaw MacGregor Clan. With the new knowledge, he believes his father is their captive.

He receives a Scottish certificate with a handwritten notation “dead.” Did he at last find the truth? Will must choose to accept the veracity of the document, or launch a futile one-man attack on a MacGregor stronghold. Reluctantly accepting his father’s death, he sails home to his new wife at Mothercombe Bay.

Purchase your copy:

Barbara Andrews, a graduate of the University of Nebraska has extensive experience in adult education administration, sales management, and technical writing. She has previously published the book, Dear Mama, Love Sarah, and maintains an active interest in American history--particularly the lives of those who came and lived in America during the colonial period. She and her husband live in Richmond, Texas.

Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash!
Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins September 9 - September 20.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Saturday September 21, 2013.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Review: Trouble in the Tarot by Kari Lee Townsend

Trouble in the Tarot (A Fortune Teller Mystery #3)
by Kari Lee Townsend
Release Date: March 5th 2013
2013 Berkley Prime Crime
Softcover Edition; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-425-25197-3
Genre: Fiction / Cozy Mystery
Source: From author

3.5 / 5 Stars

Lately Sunny has been experiencing a period of big opportunity: her business in Divinity, New York, is thriving, and Detective Mitch Stone has finally agreed to take Sunny on a date. But thanks to her clairvoyant abilities, Sunny knows better than anyone that life deals out bad cards along with the good.

When Sunny agrees to read tarot cards at the annual Summer Solstice Carnival, she meets her Granny Gert‘s “arch nemesis” Fiona Atwater, and is overcome by a vision of Fiona in a violent argument. Sunny knows trouble is brewing when Granny and Fiona start having squabbles all over town. But the fighting comes to a head when a local baker gets run over by a big white Cadillac—and Granny and Fiona are found at the crime scene.

Sunny knows she should step aside and let Mitch handle the investigating, but she’s not about to ignore her visions and leave her granny’s life in fate’s hands...

My Thoughts
Trouble in the Tarot is the third novel in the A Fortune Teller Mystery Series which features Sunshine 'Sunny' Meadows and her adorable cat, Morty.  And although I felt this was the best book of the series in terms of character development, and of course, trying to find out more about my favourite character, Morty the cat, when it came to mystery and murder, I actually felt this one was more confusing and convoluted and didn't quite match up to the previous two novels.

What I really liked: Naturally, Morty the cat is a huge mystery, and every time he appears, he just adds to the mystery of what and more particularly, what he is.  I have a feeling the author is going to play with that particular thing for as long as she can just to keep her readers frustrated and longing to know, and so we can keep guessing.  What fun!!!  Sunny keeps growing on me with each book as well, and I like how her character is developing and evolving especially as I wasn't overly fond of her in the first book.  Some people seem to be trouble magnets, and Sunny just happens to be one of them.  I do have to admit that the Monster Truck scene was a bit over the top though, even for Sunny.  I enjoyed the pace of the novel and although the arguments between Granny Gert and Fiona drove me nuts in the beginning, when it finally settled down, I found myself enjoying their two characters very much, although the solutions to their problems seemed quite simplistic.

What I'm not sure about:  I did enjoy the plot, and thought there were quite a few suspects thrown in the reader's lap, with lots of twists and turns.  With everything that was going on however, I wonder if maybe the plot was too convoluted and I didn't really feel like Sunny herself was invested in this mystery / murder.  I did bother me when Sunny kept getting mad at Mitch for withholding information from her; he is a police officer and the fact that she keeps expecting him to reveal information relating to a police investigation just because they're romantically involved drives me crazy.  Where does this sense of entitlement come from?  If they ever get married, he would still be obliged to withhold information, it's his job, and he could, and should, get fired for it.  Sunny didn't really use her paranormal abilities in this case, and when she did, she used them for things she could have figured out on her own.  I just felt like there was something missing when it came to the mystery aspect in this one that wasn't there in the first two.

Trouble in the Tarot was an interesting and fun read, and I did enjoy it very much, but more for the romantic aspect of the novel, rather than for the mystery aspect of it.  I thought the plot was too convoluted and didn't quite wrap things up or explain things well enough, but I did enjoy the character developments and the intertwining relationships in this community.  The plot does move along nicely however, and the author's writing style is captivating and engaging; you can't help getting caught up in Sunny's world.  I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series, and hopefully discovering more about Morty the cat.