Monday, December 31, 2012

Goddess Fish: "Fateful Waters" by J.M. Anton Guest Post/Giveaway (Ends 1/11) U.S.

J.M. Anton


            Follow Melinda Potter and Alexandra Parker, across the country, as the friends travel from their home on the shores of Lake Erie to the drought-stricken state of Texas. After graduation from The Ohio State University, Melinda has a date with an online Romeo. Lexie, who is supposed exert a moderating influence on her impulsive friend, winds up in a hospital where she wakes to everyone calling her Mrs. Ross.  She doesn’t have a clue how she got there, or who Mr. Ross is.

The SUV skidded in the slime now covering the previously dry, dusty road. Lexie retrieved her phone from an inside pocket of her navy colored, leather, handbag. Disgusted, she laid it on the center console. Smart or not, the directional phone apps had not shed any light on her dilemma. She was really beginning to feel lousy, so she twisted of the cap on the antibiotic that she had just picked up at the drugstore. The prescription label said it was to be taken with food, but she was desperate to head of a recurrence of what sure felt like the flu, so she downed the pill with the remainder of a bottle of water she’d placed in the cup holder. Lexie picked up the small communication device, located Melinda’s name, and she poked the small screen much harder than required to connect to her friend. She wanted to scream! Why me Lord? Melinda didn’t have a clue how to direct her. While her friend checked with David, she slipped into her navy jacket. As the rain increased the heat of earlier began to cool, and she was experiencing a chill. Lexie switched from the air conditioner to the heater.

She was sitting in the middle of a dirt road, in an increasing rain, and the surface was quickly becoming a quagmire. She hoped that Melinda, was writing down directions, and that was why she was taking so much time.

Roommates since their freshman year at Ohio State, Alexandra Parker and Melinda Potter had become close friends. After nearly five years, their friendship had grown to the point they each knew the other’s personality quirks. Lexie knew Melinda well enough to be skeptical about the accuracy of the written directions that her friend had left for her when she went on ahead with David. Commonsense had dictated that she enter his ranch address in the GPS, just in case.

Guest Post by the author
Hello everyone,

I would like to take a moment to thank Ruth for this opportunity to share a little about myself with all of you.

A Day In the life of J. M. Anton:

Okay it’s 8 AM and the horses are fed. A quick breakfast, then load the dishwasher, so my husband doesn’t have to do it again. Post breakfast, I check my e-mails. That takes a good chunk out of my morning, as I now have three e-mail accounts.

10 AM Help my hubby turn out the horses before I return the e-mails that weren’t deleted as junk mail. I don’t know about the rest of you, but junk e-mail, junk snail mail, and telemarketing phone calls can put a real dent in my day. Consequently, I ignore all of the above when I sit down to work on a writing project.

This is where things get a bit off schedule, and I never know which hat I will be wearing on a given day, or indeed for that particular part of the day. It’s a matter of inspiration. Outside events can trigger the creative juices. For example one of the horses does something that would be a great inclusion for the current Backyard Horse Tale that I may be working on. On those occasions I put on my horse persona to narrate from the horses point of view. No I don’t put on a horsey hat with fuzzy ears, but I transition into Jackie Anton, the author of the family-friendly chapter book series.

My stomach is growling at me, and my husband is wondering what is for lunch. He usually doesn’t bother me unless it’s past 2PM. I do lose track of time when I am involved in a story.

Back at the computer, I read over the last few pages to regain my thought process. I can’t quite get it, so I leave it behind and go ride my horse for a couple of hours. It’s time to think about dinner once my equine pal is cooled out and in his stall.

We go out to dinner several times a week. This is where character analysis comes in. Describe your fellow diners: not just their physical appearance but facial and body language. Where are they going, and where have they just come from? I don’t ask them; this is a mental exercise that helps me when developing realistic fictional characters. Interesting characters are all around us-- at the grocery store, the post office, friends, and family. I am always looking for what makes some folks interesting and others boring. Some just fade into their surrounding. Is it a choice, or have they just always been that way?

The house is quiet now and I have been pecking away at the keyboard for hours, and it’s 2AM. I’m getting a little foggy, but my characters aren’t ready to quit any time soon. When they get like that you have to just let them work it out, even if you lose some sleep. My adult book characters are not as polite as those in my horse tales, and they are much more demanding. There are some that I really don’t like much, but they always make the story more interesting.

I just finished the text for the book trailer of “Fateful Waters,” and have a few pages penned on the sequel “Firestorm of the Heart.”

The book that is the subject of this tour was a NaNoWriMo winning entry last November 2011. I have entered the November writing challenge again this year. The object is to write a fifty thousand-word novel from November first thru November 30th. It is a little harder this year with promotion of already published books. The competition is one of many sponsored by the Office of Letters and Light. This organization does a fantastic job of sponsoring writing projects at schools to encourage young readers and writers.

Stop by my blog: check out the Holiday Scavenger Hunt. More information about me, my books, contests, and new release dates can be found on my author website.

Jackie. Anton is the author of Backyard Horse Tales: Sox 2nd Edition recepient of the prestigious Mom’s Choice Award. She makes her home in Northeastern Ohio.
Mother of two adult Children and a Grandmother she and her husband of forty-one years live on a small farm in Medina Township. As author of the family friendly series Backyard Horse Tales (readers age 8-adult) her adult novels are written under the pen name J.M. Anton.

               An avid horseperson she and her husband continue to ride daily. She loves a good mystery as well as working out the day-to-day struggles and complexities of human relationships. Find out more about the author on her blog “Writing for readers in a .com world.


New author web site:

Book Web site: 10% Discount Code 1DepCart0 at checkout.

“Backyard Horse Tales” web site: 10% off code 1DepCart0

Be sure to follow the entire tour here.  J.M. will be awarding a $25 gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. 

Charisma Media: "Don't Panic" by Lindsay Paige Book Review


Samantha Branson is having severe anxiety attacks. Her heart beats unusually fast, her breath quickens and her hands sweat. Every detail screams in her head that she is the center of unwanted attention. Everyone can hear her thoughts, her heart and her breathing. The silence of the classroom is so loud that focus is impossible.

After an attack lands her in the wrong bathroom, Sam meets Eli who offers to provide help. Faced with the return of her possessive ex-boyfriend and the blossoming of a new romance, Sam must find the strength inside herself to face her anxieties head on.

Don't PanicDon't Panic by Lindsay Paige
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a perfect young adult book that tackles real issues with a nice love story on the side.  The profanity is very minimal, and there are no sex scenes.  The characters are quite relatable, and I think that young people would understand this story in ways that I cannot.  The story is not complex, and it was good to see the teens getting the help they needed.

For me, this book was just average, but that is only because I am not a teen, and I don't know anything about panic attacks.  It makes me want to look up information, and I hope that the author has some helps on her site to direct teens to places for help if they experience panic attacks.  I wish she would have had a section in the book at the end that could direct teens to the help they need.  Any of my criticisms shouldn't bother young adult enthusiasts.  For me, young adult books are hit and miss.  Typical young adult books--this book is one of them--don't often resonate with me, but it does not mean that I don't see the great importance of this book.

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.

View all my reviews

Buy the book here.

About the Author
Lindsay Paige is a young adult romance author from North Carolina. Most of what Lindsay writes are her daydreams in lavish details. (Please excuse that fact when you read one of her future works about a girl who sleeps around.;)) When not writing, she is working to complete her first year of college. 

Lindsay loves to read, listen to music, watch and play tennis, along with watching her favorite hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Lindsay is a big fan of Sidney Crosby (87) and buys Penguins merchandise whenever she can. 

Lindsay loves to be around her family and best friends. One summer after viewing a video of Nicholas Sparks' house, Lindsay's mother made the comment that she should write a bestselling novel since she "reads so much", that way they could have a beautiful house as well. Lindsay took her comment to heart. She began working on Sweetness. A year later, the novel was complete. 

Many of the aspects of the characters in Sweetness were inspired by Lindsay's own struggles, such as a recovering alcoholic father and the anxiety Emily suffers because of her past.

Lindsay has published Sweetness, I'm Yours, Whatever It Takes, and Don't Panic. She is currently working on book four in the series, a work titled Rejection, and a few other minor works.

Check here out here.

Wedding Invitations: An Expression of Your Style

Wedding invitations are often the first thing that your prospective guests will see concerning your nuptial celebrations.  Wedding invitation ideas are practically as numerous as personalities and people on this planet.  If you have an idea, there is an invitation that will match it.  Check out Weddingstar, and you will be certain to find the invitation that will match your style, personality, and wedding theme.

Wedding invitation designs should be a chance for you as a couple to express who you truly are.  Consider the season during which your wedding will be held.  Or maybe you are hailed as a romantic couple, and this invitation will be a perfect time for you to share that great romance with your friends and family members. Think about where you wedding will take place--a church, a temple, a beach, or somewhere else.  You can even do something as simple as picking out meaningful colors.  Once you begin brainstorming ideas, you may just come up with the perfect ideas for your invitations.

Once you have selected a design, you will need to choose your wording. This can be a deal breaker for you if it is not researched appropriately.  Make sure that you know what protocol is concerning the reception, dress code, and even who will be paying for the wedding.  Wedding etiquette is still an important part of invitations because you may turn people off to your wedding if not followed correctly.

One other consideration concerns the RSVP cards that are traditionally sent with invitations.  It is truly up to you whether you send these or not, but they are effective planning tools, especially if you are having a reception where food is being served.  You may choose to make your RSVP cards simple by just having your guests respond with their information and how many will be in attendance.  However, if you wish to have access to more detailed information, you may add a place for the ages of the guests attending, choice of meals, and maybe even allergy information.  It is up to you how detailed you are, but depending on your event, you may find it beneficial to add this sort of information to these all-important cards.

My Reading Challenges: My 2012 and 2013 Goals

Over the past couple years, I have joined challenges--basically reading challenges.  I was good when I started, and by about March, I no longer updated anything.  Pretty pathetic, I know.  This year is going to be a little bit different.  First of all, the only thing I did well in 2012 (as far as book challenges) had to do with the amount of books I read.  But that was an easy one.  Originally, I joined the Just For Fun Challenge, and I failed.  I had too many books to review.  I did read historical fiction, e-books, and more, but I just couldn't keep up.  This year, I am limiting my challenges--to a degree.  I plan to update monthly.  But let me at least share this:

Congrats! You have completed your goal of reading 50 books for the I'm Challenging Myself to ___ Books in 2012! challenge!

This makes me feel really good!  Some of those books belonged to my daughter, and others were random books I added, but at least I know I read a lot of books!

As far as book challenges this year, I am participating in several challenges.  Here is what I am doing.
First of all, I plan to read 300 books in 2013.  I know that is a bit of a stretch, but I think I can do it.  

I am giving ths challenge a try again this year.  I am going to list the books I plan to read for this challenge.  Click on the book for information about the book on goodreads.

Understand that these book choices can change without notice.  
I joined this challenge, too.  It is a year-long challenge where I will be reading a book from a new genre, author, etc.  Easy to do with all the books I review!

reading romances reading challenge 2013

I'm going to jump in here, too.  I read a lot of romances, and I'll see what I can do.  Right now, I'm going to commit to read one romance book per month and try to keep it going with the theme. January's is a marriage of convenience.  We'll see if I happen to find one!

One more challenge.  The A-Z Reading Challenge.  I don't know if I can do it, but I will do my best.  We'll see what happens!

So there you go.  I plan to update at the end of each month.  Here's hoping I do it!

Another Blogger Opportunity: William Ultrasonic Humidifier Giveaway Sign Up


ARV $229.99

This Blogger Giveaway Event is FREE for the first link with announcement post. 
 Additional links are $2
Link Options (FB cannot be a paid 2nd link):
Twitter, Pinterest, RSS, Facebook (link not like button)
Daily Picket Fence Votes or Daily Klout are $3
If you choose to not post the announcement the cost is $5 
HOST Pages are available for $10

When: 1/14-1/28

Who: Open to US residents in the continental 48 states
**Bloggers worldwide can join in the participation as long as you have at least 50% US readership
Sign-ups close 1/12
**The blogger with the most referrals will receive the additional links at no cost
Click HERE to sign up and for more html info.

M.O.O.N. has now added several perks/discounts for frequent participation in our events but you must be a member of our Facebook group to be eligible.  Please visit the M.O.O.N. group if you are a blogger and would like more information regarding these perks and other group events.

Please say My Devotional Thoughts referred you if you do sign up.  And don't forget to come back and enter!

Dial Foaming Hand Wash Review

I am so excited to get to tell you about Dial Foaming Hand Wash!  I realize the holidays are practically past, and Dial sent me two of the foaming hand wash containers you see above.  We got the Santa and Snowman one that you see above.  I am already a big fan of foaming hand soap, and we have been using these since about the middle of November.

Let me report that both of these are still being used even as we speak!  Foaming hand wash by Dial seems to last forever, and there is nothing more fun than seeing these beautiful holiday soap dispensers.  I will be sorry to see these go.  But the nice thing is that even when New Year's comes, these can still be out for a little while.  I am certainly sold on these, and I may just have to keep using the foaming hand wash for a while.  We all love them!

For more information, be sure to also check them out on facebook.

I was sent a free product in exchange for my honest review.  I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.

A Happy Green Life Natural Laundry Wash Review

In this day and age, going "green" is all the rage.  But with so many companies and products out there, how do you know what to choose?  Which products work well and are worth the price?  Well, I can tell you about one company with whom I recently got to work.  Let me introduce you to A Happy Green Life.  They are a company that began just this year, and they are committed to making green life living easy in this modern world.  Most of us busy moms just aren't able to research companies and products for effective green living.  At least with this company, you can rest assured that their products are green and simple.

I got to try out A Happy Green Life All Natural Laundry Wash.  The first thing my mom and I noticed was the wonderful scent.  They have an enormous amount of scents from which to choose, and I am going to admit that I don't remember the exact scent.  I want to say I chose Autumn, but whatever the scent is, it is magnificent!  It is pleasing, fresh, and clean.  The scent does not linger on the clothes--which I actually like.  The clothes smell clean, and they are clean.  You can see how much we have used!  I had to remember to get a picture before this was all gone.  My mom does a lot of the laundry when I am working, and this was one of the laundry detergents she really liked.  We have hard water, and this detergent still worked really well to get our clothes clean and smelling fresh.

This company is currently planning to develop even more green products, so be sure to check them out.  I am generally ambivalent about green laundry detergents, but this is really a nice product that works well.

Be sure to follow them on facebook and twitter for all the latest news and deals.

I received this product through Outburst Media in exchange for my honest review.

Vinyl Disorder Review

I was blessed to get the chance to review some fantastic vinyl stickers from Vinyl Disorder.  There is nothing better than getting the chance to decorate your home with easy-to-use vinyl stickers.  They go on easily, and they just add that extra little touch to your decor.

I am a music person, so when I saw the chance to review these treble clef vinyl stickers, I jumped at the chance.  I got to pick the color (I probably would have chosen a different color so they would stand out better, but I have to say I do love silver), and a nice set of these came.  I actually tore one of the stickers, but it was very easy to cover up.  I was pleased with the look even though it was a little challenging to get these off the paper at times.  Again, that's not the company's fault.  I just am not used to using vinyl stickers/decals in decoration.  The nicest thing is that they stick up there on my walls quite well, and I can always remove them later with no problem. 

Vinyl Disorder has every kind of vinyl decal you can imagine!  You can buy them for your walls, your family, and so much more.  Be sure to check out their family vinyl decal car window kits here.  What a way to celebrate your wonderful family.

Be sure to follow them on facebook and twitter, too!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Happy New Year Giveaway Hop (Ends 1/7) WW

Happy New Year 2013 
Giveaway Hop

Hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Babs Book Bistro

January 1st - 7th 2013

My giveaway is simple.  I am giving away any book you would like up to $15 to kick off your New Year's reading schedule!  All you need to do is enter the rafflecopter below by 9 P.M. Pacific time on January 7, and then be sure to hop on to the other blogs for even more opportunities to win books!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This Day in History December 31, 2009

I am afraid I don't remember this, but maybe you do.  On this date in 2009, we experienced a partial lunar eclipse and a blue moon at the same time.  A blue moon is the second full moon that happens within a month.  The partial lunar eclipse could only be seen from Asia, Africa, Australia, and Europe.  I guess maybe that's why I don't remember.  Anyway, it was certainly something that just doesn't seem to happen very often.  For more information:

"Anna and the French Kiss" by Stephanie Perkins Book Review

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming,beautiful, Étienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend. 

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

Anna and the French KissAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Let me begin by saying that this is almost as close to the perfect romance as you can get.  I absolutely loved the book, and it was one of those books I did not want to put down.  I was completely enchanted by the story line, the romance, and the delicious humor.  I would never call this cheesy nor sappy, but if it is, it is the kind I love!

Anna was a wonderful character, but it gets no better than Etienne St. Clair!  Having had an English friend in the past, I was intrigued to see how much St. Clair was like this friend of mine.  I loved the British mannerisms, terminology, and more.  And yes, I know that St. Clair was not truly British, but in so many ways he was!  I was enchanted by the humor.  So often the books that I read miss the element of humor, but this book had me laughing out loud at many times, but there were times that the tears threatened to come as well.  Stephanie Perkins is a master at writing emotion--period.

There was only one thing I didn't like.  Profanity in the book did not show up until much later into the book, and although the profanity was not prolific, I did not feel it was necessary.  Thankfully there were no bedroom scenes.  Yes, there were some sexual terms that were dropped here and there, but I was not overly offended.  I am glad that Anna was a virgin--always appreciate this in books!

I would love to read a sequel to this book, and maybe one day, Stephanie will do that for us.  I doubt I am alone in wishing to see the saga of Anna and St. Clair continue.  This was a nice romance, and at the end I actually experienced chills it was so good!  If you have not read this book, and you like romances of any kind, this is the book for you!

View all my reviews

Well, hello! I'm Stephanie Perkins, and I write novels for teens (and for adults who aren't afraid to admit that teen books are awesome). I was born in South Carolina, raised in Arizona, attended universities in San Francisco and Atlanta, and now I live in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina.

My best friend is my husband Jarrod. Our house is almost a hundred years old, and every room is painted a different color of the rainbow. We share it with a cat named Mr. Tumnus.

I've always worked with books—first as a bookseller, then as a librarian, and now as a novelist. On weekdays, you'll find me at my desk, typing away, downing cups of coffee and tea. On the weekend, you'll find me at the movies, waiting for the actors to kiss. I believe all novels and films should have more kissing.

Follow Stephanie:

Write Now Literary VBT: "The Blood Done Signed My Name" by M. Ann Ricks Book Tour

Are the sins of the father and mother visited upon their sons and daughters?
Undoubtedly damaged, Honey Lamb, like many, is a descendant of an unfortunate legacy of molestation, addiction, murder and bad decisions. For as long as she could remember, she believed the unhappiness she experienced was somehow bequeathed to her. The blood that surged through her veins seemed to be tainted and she often wondered about the DNA she possessed. Experiencing more than her share of misery at the hands of her mother, an alcoholic; the source of all her woes, Honey believed she’d overcome her seemingly checkered path all by herself when she met and married, Mason; a man she loves beyond her own understanding. Unfortunately, unsettling memories emerge to crack the veneer of her seemingly happy existence. Feeling unable to escape what she believed to be her destiny, Honey makes a decision that may have ruined her life. Not realizing God places people in our lives for His purpose, she reluctantly embarks upon a journey that will open her heart to a divine inheritance. Will she accept what God has already given to her or will she shun the invitation of salvation and allow her familial carnal legacy to continue to the next generation? Will she come to understand that Jesus’ blood redeemed us from a self-defeating existence because He became the sinful inheritance for us while at the same time eradicating it forever, giving us a spiritual blood transfusion that would change us all?

About the Author
M. Ann Ricks, (Melissa Ann), is a Christian Fiction novelist residing in Bear, Delaware with her excellent husband and two awesome sons. She is a graduate of Rider University and formerly a national accounts insurance executive.
Using Jesus Christ as her example, as He shared many parables, she creates stories with fictional characters that contend with real life issues and inserts the Word of God to communicate the genuine and unfailing love of God while making it abundantly clear that Jesus is the ONLY answer. M. Ann is determined to tell the world how wonderfully awesome Jesus Christ is and can be in our lives if we just allow Him to be. She is honored to be used by God to spread His message with the stories she creates with the leading of the Holy Spirit, knowing that He will provide her with stories and the words that will lift up the name of Jesus as He promised that if He is lifted up, He will draw all men to Him.
M. Ann is also what one may consider a motivational/inspirational speaker but she prefers the term, “Godspirational” as one may only be truly inspired, transformed and receive true revelation when hearing the uncompromised word of God. M. Ann also continues to utilize her group insurance knowledge as a Benefits and Network Consultant. Lastly, M. Ann is a Group Fitness instructor as she is determined to keep her natural “temple” fit and ready for the Master’s use!
M. Ann is the author of Awesome Wonder: The Gift of Remembrance ,The Son. the much acclaimed, third novel, THE BLOOD DONE SIGNED MY NAME.

Northern Italy, 1918
He hadn’t washed in weeks. The countryside was crawling with “Kraut” and all he could do was think about the full lips that said his name with uninhibited desire. She made him feel invincible and he needed to believe he was. He would have done anything to have and to keep her.
Those eyes…
She moved over him like a cunning feline. Under her spell, he promised he would keep her brother Tanner quiet about everything. He had no idea how he was going to silence the man who had become his friend, but he wasn’t going to let anyone ruin their plans. As he walked back to camp after visiting a makeshift latrine, his thoughts took him back to their night together. Intoxicated by cheap wine, he’d agreed to the pact. She was beautiful, strong, and most of all, determined. He wanted to believe that they would have a good life once this useless war was over.
After settling into the muddy trench, he saw something almost imperceptibly move. Italy could have been a beautiful place if it wasn’t for this God forsaken war, he thought, rubbing his eyes. He was unbelievably fatigued; so much so that foliage seemed to be moving by itself. He closed
his eyes and opened them again to focus. Was there someone or something out there? He couldn’t wait until he was back in the U. S. of A. More importantly, he couldn’t wait to be with her. He could still smell her. She was a vision… a sweet temptress.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Novel Publicity: "Cephrael's Hand by Melissa McPhail Book Tour/Giveaway (Ends 1/4) WW

Cephrael Tour BadgeAs part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Cephrael's Hand eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $450 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book. All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win! To win the prizes:
  1. Purchase your copy of Cephrael's Hand for just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event
About Cephrael's Hand: Two brothers find themselves on opposite sides of a great battle, neither knowing the other is alive... A traitor works in exile while preparing for the disaster only he knows is coming... A race of beings from beyond the fringe of the universe begin unmaking the world from within... And all across the land, magic is dying. Cephrael's Hand is the first novel in the award-winning series A Pattern of Shadow and Light. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. About the author: Melissa McPhail is a classically trained pianist, violinist and composer, a Vinyasa yoga instructor, and an avid Fantasy reader. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, their twin daughters and two very large cats. Visit Melissa on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads. Please enjoy this interview with Melissa McPhail, author of the spellbinding epic fantasy, Cephrael's Hand. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $450 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

  1. Your debut novel, Cephrael’s Hand was the winner of The Written Arts Award for both the best fiction and the best Sci-Fi/Fantasy categories--congratulations! So tell us, what was the inspiration behind this story, and can you tell us a little bit about it? I started the first version of Cephrael’s Hand when I was going through a difficult time in my life. I needed the cathartic joy that I’d always found in writing. I didn’t set out to write a novel—just to write. That first draft had no planning, no world-building, no design. It was pure creative inspiration. And it was awful! But the characters… I had brought them into being, and they insisted that they had a story to tell. It took my growing as a writer—and over a million words tossed into the trash—to finally tell their story properly. Cephrael’s Hand is the result of a philosopher’s approach to fantasy. It’s the story of one man’s steadfast determination to save the realm he swore to protect, and his willingness to do anything it takes to accomplish that end—even to betray those he loves. It’s the story of the unlikely pieces (men and women) who unknowingly fall beneath his shadow, and of the players who follow him. Ultimately, it’s a story of salvation. I see fantasy as a metaphor for life in this world. We all face tests of our honor. We’re all working to accomplish our goals and flourish and prosper. Few of us set out to do evil. Yet evil is done. Goals are abandoned. Integrity is compromised. We totter precariously on thin wires as we move through the labyrinth of life. I strive with my series to illuminate those wire-thin paths, that we might find solid ground beneath them.

  2. Without giving away too much, can you reveal what’s in store for the readers when they crack open Cephrael’s Hand? If you listen to my critics—too many characters! But this is an epic fantasy dealing with a conflict that spans multiple kingdoms. It takes a team to save the world. ;) Hopefully you’ll meet interesting characters and a world you can easily find your own place within. You’ll discover pirates, princes, star-crossed lovers and philosopher-soldiers. You’ll see many characters who are not as they appear, and a few who are exactly as they seem. You’ll find adventure on a perilous road with prince Ean val Lorian, and farcical escapades with Trell of the Tides and the pirate Carian vran Lea. You’ll often wonder who is good and who is evil—because most villains in real life are cloaked in shades of gray.

  3. Can you tell us more about some of the key concepts that inspired the world of Cephrael's Hand? The story is crafted out of many of the philosophies I've studied. As I was planning Cephrael's Hand, I had been reading about game philosophy. Game philosophy speaks on the importance of games in our lives and takes a look at their composition (barriers, purposes and freedoms) and their anatomy (pieces, players, maker of games). It's a compelling concept with abundant applications, and I became immediately interested in exploring the ideas more via the story of Cephrael's Hand. Balance is another concept that threads throughout the story. Exploration of this idea comes out of my study and practice of yoga. If ever a concept permeates our lives, the pursuit of balance is one. Whether seeking to balance work and parenthood, our social commitments and our private lives, or even just the juggle of that list of a thousand things we'll never get to, every one of us is seeking balance in some fashion. Placing this concept within the framework of a fantasy story embellishes it with a magical lure.

  4. The Cephreal's Hand constellation plays an important role in the book. Is there a real life constellation that plays a similarly important role in your life? I can't say that a particular constellation is important to me personally, though I've studied Astrology for many years. But I'm drawn to the idea, both scientifically and philosophically, that we are all connected somehow with each other and the broader universe. String Theory and General Relativity play to this idea from the perspective of science. Certainly, if we are connected to the stars in some esoteric way, then the actions of the stars can impact us. Astrology believes this, and the graphing of natal charts proves an underlying truth in this ancient, mystical and often misunderstood science. Philosophies far and wide declare that we've descended or separated from a universal oneness and teach karmic values with the intent of helping us return or re-ascend to that harmonious state. The concept of Balance in Cephrael's Hand stems from this idea of universal connectivity.

  5. Ever since a linguist named Tolkien came along, language has been a very important aspect of the epic fantasy genre. What inspired the various languages in Cephrael's Hand? The desert languages are based on Farsi or Arabic, depending on the tribe. Farsi is one of the oldest languages still in use today, and its traditions lent themselves well to the Kandori culture, which is one of Alorin's oldest races. Likewise Arabic, being originally a language of the nomadic tribes, seemed the correct base from which to draw the language of the Akkad. Even older than both of these languages in my novel is Old Alaeic, which is the original language of theangiel, the Maker's blessed children, and of the two original races: the zanthyrs and the drachwyr. Old Alaeic draws primarily from Gaelic root words. I chose Gaelic because the language maintains some of the earliest roots of our Indo-European linguistic heritage. Its spellings and pronunciations are almost universally reminiscent of mythological beings from ancient times and are often associated, especially in the fantasy genre, with elves, Druids or other mystical races.

  6. Which other authors have served as influences and inspiration for your own work? I love lyrical writing, so my bookshelves host an eclectic mix (albeit heavily weighted with fantasy and science fiction). Those who first come to mind from the fantasy genre are Anne Rice, Patrick Rothfuss and Jacqueline Carey, all of whom carry on a great and fabulous romance with the English language, much to the ecstasy of millions. Being able to string words like pearls into a story that reads at times like poetry in motion seems the greatest pinnacle of storytelling skill.

  7. It's been said that one of the most time-consuming processes of writing epic fantasy is world building. Without giving too much away, what are a few of your favorite world aspects and what inspired them? As I wrote in a recent guest post, world-building and the magic system developed for the world are intimately connected. We can't really describe a fantasy world without talking about the magic that rules it, because so much of what we understand about the world derives from our understanding of how the physical laws of the world work. In creating my world of Alorin, I established five "strands" of the lifeforce known as elae. These strands are a way of describing and codifying the lifeforce which is the source of energy in the world, but they are only one way of describing it. While most of the viewpoints I am writing from agree with describing the lifeforce in terms of "strands," there are other races in Alorin who have codified it differently, darkly, or with less purity for lack of philosophical simplicity. I love exploring different viewpoints and imagining how each would describe a universal energy. I love examining the cultures that seek to describe this energy and how their ideals might alter their understanding of it. For example, the Adept race believes that Adepts are born with the ability to work one of the five strands, but only one. Yet some of the "Wildling" races are known to be able to innately work more than one strand. The Fhorgs race works blood sacrifice to fuel their magic. Would their magic work without such sacrifice? The Adepts believe that it would. Yet within the Adept philosophy, a working of magic requires faith both in the existence of power and in one's ability to manipulate it. If the Fhorgs don't believe themselves able to wield the lifeforce without letting blood, it follows that magic would become unavailable to them simply because of their lack of belief. Moreover, because the Fhorgs don't limit their ideas of their magical ability to a five strand approach, it's possible they might achieve more through the wielding of it--or not. These are existential questions for these two races, questions which set them at odds with each other. Questions from which derive conflicts and persecutions, intrigues and betrayals. Such explorations fuel both world-building and magic-system building, because their delineation establishes how the world works, how the people of the world interact with the energy that fuels it, how they interact with each other, and how they use the energy itself to work arcane acts.  

8. You grew up in a house full of musicians, but your creativity emerged in the form of writing. Have you always felt called to write? I always thought I would end up with a career in music like the rest of my family. I grew up harboring such an appreciation of these accomplished, classical musicians all around me, it seemed a natural course to follow in their footsteps. Instead, I stumbled into writing the way one sometimes bumps into providence, colliding with it accidentally. I happened to take a creative writing class in high school. My creative writing instructor believed the best way to teach writing was to send her students out to actually write. So I did—hundreds of pages over the next few years. Writing became both an outlet for my creativity and the escape reading had always provided. I know I share that love affair with many authors.

  9. At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writer’s block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing? Usually I turn to music—either composing it or listening to it. If I can find a great new song, sometimes that will help inspire me out of the hole. When a scene just isn’t working, I’ve learned to go back to where I was last doing well in the story and scrap everything that came after. It’s an agonizing process, but often necessary.

  10. The Dagger of Adendigaeth, Book 2 in your series, has just been published. How has your vision expanded from book 1 to book 2, and what kind of creative growth have you experienced in your process this second time around? We grow as writers with every novel—at least I believe that's the goal. Many of the things I gained in writing The Dagger of Adendigaeth are intangible, ineffable understandings of myself and my creative process. I think of those times of being fabulously, fantastically stuck and the final moment of inspiration that launched me out of that depressing well. I think of the plot twists that came to me completely without warning, and the absolute magic that is the creative process. The thing I loved most about writing this book was being able to explore so many viewpoints—especially the viewpoints of those characters who might be viewed as antagonists. But I don't and never have seen them that way. It's my greatest purpose in writing this series to be able to show the motivations and ideals that mold and shape each character. The more we can understand each other, the closer to a peaceful coexistence we will find, whether in the microcosm of our lives or the broader political and religious zones.

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Goddess Fish: "Keeper by Surprise" by Laurie Larsen Book Review/Guest Post/Giveaway (Ends 2/4) U.S./Canada

Keeper by Surprise
by Laurie Larsen



Life changes forever for Keith Hanson when his parents’ will declares him guardian over his three younger siblings. His new responsibilities are challenging, but he’s even less prepared to fall in love with Lisa Carle, a social worker with a devastating secret.


And later in that same scene where she discovers who he is:

“Hi, is there something I could do for you?”

Boy, was that a loaded question. To Lisa’s dismay, the mere sound of his voice caused a double-shot of female hormones to take a dive into her groin. It was deep and gravely, but polite. A touch innocent. She’d love to let his voice lap over her like ocean waves for hours at a time. She cleared her throat and attempted, probably failing miserably, a cool nonchalance. “Oh, don’t let me interrupt you. I’m here on business.” She commenced her determined trek to the front door.

He took a few steps toward her, then stopped. “I’m sorry? Who is it exactly that you’re looking for?”

She looked at him over her shoulder. He was gazing intently at her, his head cocked slightly to one side. “Uh,” she started, forgetting her name for a moment under the intense stare of those gorgeous … green! … eyes. Who would’ve figured him for green eyes?

He tore his gaze away from her and started looking around. He backed up a few steps to a piece of white fabric lying nearby in the lawn. He picked it up and Lisa saw it was a shirt. He slipped it on effortlessly, while she mourned the sudden and quite unexpected loss of her view of that spectacular chest.

He approached her then and continued his curious inspection of her. Lisa cleared her throat. God, she had to pull it together here. She was working, and she needed to continue to function, even in the presence of this hunk. “I’m here to see Keith. Keith Hanson.”

To her surprise, he smiled, his face lighting for a moment, like a lamp would brighten a dark room. “I’m Keith Hanson.”

Guest post by the author

I’d like to thank Ruth for hosting me today on my blog tour for my latest book, Keeper by Surprise!  Ruth has asked me to blog about A Day in the Life of the Author.

When we think of the writers of great fiction novels, we imagine their lifestyles to be like we see in the movies:  Kathleen Turner played romance writer Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone, living the exciting and romantic life of her fictional heroines.  Or how about poor Jack Torrance?  He was a famous novelist… in The Shining, played by Jack Nicholson.  Granted, he went crazy and became a homicidal maniac, but he got to take his family to a beautiful vacation resort to write his next novel!  Isn’t that what a day in the life an author is like?

Unfortunately, it’s not like that in real life.  Or, should I say, it’s not like that for the vast majority of non-millionaire authors!  And other than the few mega-super-star authors (I’m sure you can think of a few) who live a luxurious life solely on the income of their ample royalties, most of us have day jobs.  In my bio I say I have a “strenuous” day job.  That’s a nice way of saying that my job is difficult and challenging, taxes my brain for about ten hours a day, leaving me emotionally and physically wiped out.   And yet, I’ve managed to write nine books in the last fifteen years.  (Yes, I’ve been writing for fifteen years -- OMG, why do I feel so OOOOLD all of a sudden?) 

It’s important for an author with a day job to do everything she can to keep the writing regular.  When you’ve got a book in progress, it’s momentum that’s going to get you to THE END.  With great momentum, I wrote one of my books in six months.  On the other end of the spectrum, the book that I’m currently working on, I started over two years ago.  I’d highly recommend the former! 

I meet with a writers group once a month and we set goals to keep ourselves on track.  For my November goal, I wanted to kick start this book that had felt stalled for too long.  So I set a challenging goal of 30 pages in one month.  That would get me going again!  However, a wonderful thing happened.  I found myself with a free weekend, and I furthered challenged myself to write those 30 pages in ONE WEEKEND.  I wrote about 8 pages on Friday night.  I wrote 12 on Saturday.  Bleary-eyed, I came back and wrote the remaining 10 on Sunday.  Mission accomplished!  It felt so good!  I was so inspired I decided to take a week off work over the Thanksgiving holiday and I wrote 50 more pages.  I’m happy to report that I’m now within two chapters of THE END.  It’s an inspirational romance entitled Roadtrip to Redemption which I hope to be Book 1 of a 4-book series.

Before I close, I want to see if I can pique your interest in my new book, Keeper by Surprise, with a very clever reader review that was posted on Amazon:

Can you imagine being called home from college to learn your parents have been killed in a car accident and named you caregiver of your three siblings? That's what happens to Keith Hanson. But it's just the beginning of this warm, witty, and surprisingly real contemporary romance by Laurie Larsen. As Keith struggles to become a parent overnight, I came along with him, worrying for him and wondering if he'd be able to rise to the occasion. Of course he does, and the romance that blossoms along his journey is both surprising and refreshing. This is a great book to get lost in.

I hope you’ll give it a try!  Available in paperback, as well as all ebook formats!

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
For a story that begins as a nice, little college romance, it sure covers a vast amount of serious topics.  Laurie Larsen is an excellent author who has developed some very believable characters who go through some harsh circumstances.  They grow and learn as a result, and they all end up growing in ways they never dreamed possible.

I did grow tired of the profanity, but thankfully the bedroom scene was not too detailed.  I was even impressed that some of the characters were committed to remaining virgins.  I also liked seeing the change that occurred in Dana and the twins.  And Keith was finally willing to accept the responsibility he was given.  I would have preferred a less cheesy ending.  Don't get me wrong--the book ended as it should have.  But during the last twenty pages or so, cheesiness made it appearance.  Some of the book seemed a little bit too unrealistic, but I guess true romantics would love these pages.

I liked the fact that the author was able to introduce some elements into the book that were not entirely predictable.  I can't imagine ever having to deal with something like Keith did, but it's good to see that adversity can build character, sometimes even when you don't want it to.  I am pleased that the author emphasized the conscience and making sure one always does what is right.  While I do not share all the morals that these characters do--I go much further to the right than they do--it was still nice to see characters that truly had principles.  Oh, and the unprincipled characters got what was coming to them.

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.

Laurie Larsen is the EPIC Award-winning author of Preacher Man, Best Spiritual Romance of 2010. To date, she has published seven books in the romance and women’s fiction genres, including one Young Adult romance.  Keeper by Surprise is her latest release.  She lives in the Midwest with a strenuous day job, a husband of more than two decades, two amazing sons and Gracie the Wonder Dog. To keep up with Laurie and her books, visit her at , on Twitter or Facebook.


Author co-op:


Laurie will be awarding promo items to random commenters at every stop, and the choice of a basic Nook or Kindle to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour (US/CANADA ONLY).  Be sure to follow the entire blog tour for even more chances to win!

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