Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Book Review of Black Queen, White City by Sonya Kudei

The people:
Leo Solar is a star daimon, a celestial being with powers so vast that he can literally blow up a sun (but not in a bad way - it's all perfectly safe). This is why when he gets sent to Earth, more specifically, his least favorite part of it (Zagreb, Croatia) with curtailed powers to undertake a dangerous frustrating mission, he is not the happiest star daimon in town. 
Dario is a twenty-something former Zagreb University student whose search for meaning is continuously thwarted by the demands of his eccentric landlady. After he accidentally meets a mysterious stranger in a starry outfit who goes around town battling monsters from the Underworld, Dario's life suddenly takes an interesting turn, and he soon finds himself caught in a flurry of action that includes the celestial realm above, a hidden magic realm below and the erstwhile ordinary Zagreb somewhere in between.

The Black Queen
The legend:
The Black Queen is a semi-mythical 15th century personage who not only continues to captivate the imagination of the residents of Zagreb, but apparently also plots to captivate the city itself - literally - despite being somewhat dead.

The places:
The White City is a quiet picturesque place in Central/Southeast Europe with a thrilling secret history. Some people call it Zagreb.
The Celestial Realm (a.k.a. "outer space") is a place where star daimons with enormous powers and questionable hairstyles perform valiant deeds in order to maintain the balance of the universe while engaging in petty inter-stellar squabbles and meddling with the affairs of Earth.

All of these people, places and fictional constructs come together in an over-caffeinated romp that reaches an action-packed culmination on October 31, colloquially referred to by locals as the Night of the Witches.
Also making an appearance are magic trams, football hooligans, belligerent egg-sellers, jaded small dogs, miniature monks, seductive snake-women and sadistic primary school teachers.

*We were given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

This story started a little slow for me but quickly picked up the pace and threw me into an engrossing adventure. In all honesty, the narrator was my favorite. The witty way this story was told made all the difference for me. I loved how the story was being told and that made me want to keep reading. 

Black Queen, White City is a blend of history and fantasy/magical elements. I liked this combination and was always eager to come upon a backstory section so I could try to learn more about what was going on. Leo was one of my favorite character's and I liked the element of having a character from the Celestial Realm. 

Readers of fantasy, science fiction, and adventure should add Black Queen, White City to their reading list. I am looking forward to more from Sonya Kudei and her funny, charming way of storytelling. 

Amazon   Goodreads 

Born in Zagreb in 1981, Sonya Kudei has been writing fiction since she was about six. Once (or maybe twice) in the mid or late ‘90s, she was awarded first prize in the junior short story competition at the annual Zagreb SciFi convention. Although her memory of the stories has subsequently become a bit vague, she is fairly certain they featured either radioactive aliens or giant killer plants or possibly both.

She studied English Language and Literature (BA) and Cognitive Linguistics (MA) as well as dabbling with classical studies, Germanic languages, philosophy and art history, among other things. She has worked as a graphic/web designer, illustrator, journalist, subtitle translator, editor, teacher, product manager and (very briefly) tourist guide in Venice. In addition, she was a web developer in London for over five years.

Sonya is also a painter, with a penchant for Early Renaissance art, and a keen practitioner of obscure 15th-century painting techniques, some of which involve eggs. Occasionally she draws comics.

Currently based in St Albans, England, she has been living in the UK for over ten years.

Website   Twitter

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Release Day Celebration for Legend of Me by Rebekah L. Purdy with GIVEAWAY!

Welcome to the Release Day Celebration for
Legend of Me by Rebekah L. Purdy
presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!


No one should ever go into the woods alone.
Brielle has grown up listening to tales of a beast that attacks humans, leaving behind only a scattering of bones and limbs. It’s probably the elders’ way of keeping little children in line, but it doesn’t explain her grisly premonitions of blood, claws, and severed heads.
But when Brielle finds a mangled body in the woods, she begins to wonder if the grim stories may actually be true. Soon, Lord Kenrick, Knight of the Crowhurst Order, arrives asking questions about the legendary monster. Brielle’s attraction to him is immediate and undeniable. She volunteers to help him search for clues to the creature’s existence, despite her suspicions about his timing.
As her seventeenth birthday approaches, Brielle’s nightmares worsen and more villagers go missing. If Brielle doesn’t figure out the connection between Kenrick, the beast, and her visions, more people will die. As Brielle falls deeper in love with Kenrick and deeper into the snares of the abominable beast, she’ll become part of a legend so great, no one will ever question its validity again.
Legend of Me by Rebekah L. Purdy
Release Date: July 24, 2018
Publisher: Month9Books

Rebekah was born and raised in Michigan where she spent many late nights armed with a good book and a flashlight. She’s lived in Michigan most of her life other than the few years she spent in the U.S. Army. At which time she got a chance to experience Missouri, Kansas, South Carolina, and California.Rebekah has a business degree from University of Phoenix and currently works full time for the court system. In her free time she writes YA stories, anything from YA Fantasy to YA Contemporary Romance. Rebekah also has a big family (6 kids)—she likes to consider her family as the modern day Brady Bunch complete with crazy road trips and game nights.When not hiding at her computer, Rebekah enjoys reading, singing, soccer, swimming, football, camping, playing video games, traveling, and hanging out with her family and gazillion pets.

Monday, July 23, 2018

What's in a Word? Part 1

Image source


Every sentence, paragraph, scene, and chapter is comprised of them. They are everything to a writer. Using them wisely is the difference between moving your story from your imagination to the reader’s, and creating obstacles that hinder the transaction. We must “omit needless words,” as William Strunk Jr. succinctly states in his seminal writing handbook The Elements of Style. This ensures our meaning isn’t buried in clunky prose. For the sake of clarity and flow, we want our stories to be lean and powerful. This is desirable in all writing, but it’s especially important in a thriller.

As stated in last month's post, This is Thriller, thrillers are meant to keep you on the edge of your seat. One bloated sentence can kill the momentum. Again, the pace doesn’t need to be at nonstop, neckbreaking speed, but the story should continually move forward. Concise sentences contain power in that they are dense with information, and that density allows them to hit harder.

Powerful words hold a charge. The energy comes from the imagery and associations they conjure. Take this for example: “I hurt my knee playing basketball.” OK, no one likes getting hurt. That’s a bummer, right? Now let’s swap out “hurt” and see if we can give it a little more oomph: “I wrecked my knee playing basketball.” Ouch. Damn. OK. What comes to mind with the word wrecked? A crumpled vehicle? Serious impact-damage? Maybe even some fear and anxiety, especially for those who’ve experienced the trauma of an accident? There are better examples out there, but this is the basic idea. Changing one word went from a mere explanation to an array of emotions. This is what we want to achieve, but we must be strategic. We don’t want to charge everything to the point that it becomes the new normal and loses impact. There is an art to it, but this is how to influence your reader’s emotions. I didn’t need to go thumbing through a thesaurus either. I just thought of another word that conveys the fullness of my meaning: what happened + what I’m feeling.

OK, S.A., but now there’s an astronomical amount of pressure to add weight to each word as I go and it’s overwhelming me, gah!

Slow down. Relax. Breathe. It’s alright. Get the story out first, don’t worry about each and every word as you’re writing the first draft. This is just one aspect of the editing process. I would never dream of stifling your creative process. After you’ve fleshed the story out from beginning to end, let it sit a while and gain some distance. That’s when you go back and begin tweaking every word until they convey just what you want them to. Likely you’ll run multiple options for each one before the sentence is just right. Then, you move on to the next. This is revision. No one, and I mean no one, knocks it out of the park on their first draft.

Image source
While there’s power in choosing the right word, it’s equally important to leave the wrong ones out. For this, I’m going to share an exercise that my professor (Stefan Petrucha) gave in both my Writing for a Living and Writing the Graphic Novel classes (a variation of both classes can be taken through Udemy). The page is real estate and space is especially scarce when shared with artwork, as in a comic panel. Redundancies are the death of enrapturing narrative.

Rewrite the passage below (provided by Jennie Ruby at editorialtraining.net) using as few words as possible, without losing the meaning. Comment with your answer. Next month, I’ll share what my best answer was in What's in a Word? Part 2

It starts at 62 words. How low can you go? Go:

You walk up to an ATM machine and enter your PIN number. While you are there, you print out a hard copy of your statement so you can check on the past history of your account. The reason you need a printout is because your total balance seems too high, and you want to make absolutely certain your rent check has cleared.

Image source

Friday, July 20, 2018

Children’s book websites, Oh my!

If you don’t want to spend all day looking for quality books for kids, let me help. Listed below are four online websites focused on children’s books. I checked these out and the ones that looked most helpful are here.

1.Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

“Our Pre-school Library is full of great activities for you to explore. Choose a theme below to start the fun!”

Sounds good so I decided to take a look. On the opening page, I saw a line up of circles with pictures inside of them like the one below:

So I clicked on the link pictured above and found a story called Morris’s Special Day. A female voice tells the story of a boy who is looking for his pet mouse, Morris. It is recited in English but included are the names of all the animals and a few other things like the sun, in Spanish. The story is enjoyable and well crafted. Obviously, it was put together by people well versed in young children’s books.

There are visuals and sounds throughout. For instance, there is the sound of knocking on a door, which means to click on the blinking arrow to turn the page. As the story continues you are led into a barn. It is dark except for the eyes of the characters. Could Morris be in there? The main character then turns on the overhead light. You can see! But, no Morris is around, so you go back outside
where there is a big bear and music and singing,  Eventually you meet more domestic animals, recited in English and Spanish until you reach the end where, of course, he finds Morris.

There are visual links that take you to activities such as learning more animal names in Spanish or you can listen to other storytellers who sing and act out a variety of stories for young children. In addition, you get a reading list for this age group.

Stories such as:
Five Little Babies
I Will Not Take a Bath
Color the Rainbow
Clyde’s Smile
New Fish on the Reef
The Yellow Gorilla

The folks who put this site together, really got it right. And each time I visit them they have new stories and activities for young children.

Example of an activity:

Underneath “I Will Not Take a Bath” is a link called Its Bath Time. Here a youngster is about to take a bath and asks the reader to help pick out items to play or wash with. It all goes in the tub with the child who eventually jumps in.

I like this site! It is excellent for preschoolers and their families. You learn words, colors, categorize objects and much more, and have a good time doing it all the while. STORY sequences are complete, well thought out and appropriate for this age group.

This site gets an A.

The rest of these sites are not for children. They contain lists of books for parents to peruse FOR their children.

2.Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site

Here you can click on the subjects you are interested in for a list of books for students or family members. You click on Curriculum Area to get books that relate to Math, Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, Physical Ed or the Arts. You can click on the Newsletter link to get a list of back issues of Carol Hurst’s newsletters. If you click on Books, you can choose from the alphabetical order of children’s books or choose a grade level.

The Authors link has a list of 22 mostly well-known authors like Dr. Seuss, Katherine Patterson, Maurice Sendak. You find information on each one of them which I found helpful.

Click on “Our Books for hard copy and eBooks by Rebecca Otis or Carol Otis Hurst” to get their very own books.

If you click on Advertise, you will find an offer of Advertising Opportunities for authors. I may have to take them up on this.

Other links:
Common Questions We Get Asked
and a Contact window.

Included on the left side are books they recommend and Free Teachers Guides, a Free newsletter, a Homeschool guide and there are Advertisements on the right. This site is useful to find books on any subject.

3.Database of Award-Winning Children’s Literature

DAWCL means Database of Award-Winning Children's Literature. The purpose of this database is to create a tailored reading list of quality children's literature or to find out if a book has won one of the indexed awards. I expect the user to be a librarian or a teacher intervening for child- reader, however, anyone may make use of it to find the best in children's literature including parents, bookstore personnel, and children and young adults themselves.

If you click on Instructions or Search DAWCL, you get to pick from these with definitions of each one:

age of reader
publication year
historical period
point of view

For example: I picked: 1st person poetic — I didn't know where the books were listed until I
found this:

Instructions: For best results, select 1-3 parameters for searching.
Suggested age which included:
Historical Period:
of Protagonist or Tale:
Gender of Protagonist:
Includes languages  
Publication Year:
Keyword or phrase:  
Point of View
with information about each of these.

There are explanations for everything you would want to know about DAWCL. A useful site for searching for specific kinds of books for children.

4.Kids Reads

Based in New York, this site contains lots of book reviews which can be selected by book title, author, age group, genre.

In the Author section, there is a collection of book reviews with write-ups on each one. Here is an example:

Interview: Shea Fontana, author of DC Super Hero Girls: Date with Disaster!
Feb 8, 2018
It might be a new year, but superhero stories never go out of style. With so many superheroes and adaptations to choose from, it can be tough to find the perfect read for you and your children. One of our favorite middle-grade series is Shea Fontana's DC Super Hero Girls, a graphic novel series set at Super Hero High, where well-known DC heroes, both male and female, not only attend classes, but also deal with all the awkwardness of growing up --- oh, and superpowers. The sixth book in the series, DATE WITH DISASTER, is now in stores, and our reviewer, Katherine Szabo, had the pleasure of interviewing the author, Shea Fontana, and illustrator, Yancey Labat, about their process, the series and, of course, their favorite superheroes. Read on for their answers!

There are many more reviews which I found to be quite helpful in selecting books for kids.

Coming Soon has a list of upcoming books. Here is a sample:

Capsized!: The Forgotten Story of the SS Eastland Disaster by Patricia Sutton
Children's, Children's 10+, Education, History, Nonfiction
Chicago Review Press | 978-1613739433 | Published July 1, 2018
The Eastland disaster took more passenger lives than the Titanic and stands today as the greatest loss of life on the Great Lakes. CAPSIZED! details the events leading up to the fateful day and provides a nail-biting, minute-by-minute account of the ship's capsizing. Frotum the courage of the survivors to the despair of families who lost loved ones, author Patricia Sutton brings to light the stories of ordinary working people enduring the unthinkable.

Series books are in age group categories.
AGES 2-6
Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel 
Duck and Goose by Tad Hills 

You can submit a book for review or write to them in the Connect section.

In the Write to us section I saw this:

Contacting Authors --- How do I send a letter to an author? Do you have an author's email address?

Our of respect for author privacy, The Book Report Network will not release the email or home address of any authors. If you would like to contact an author, we suggest that you start by searching to see if the author has a website. You can do this by going to Google.com to search for information about an author website. If you cannot find contact information on the Internet, they suggest that you 
write the author in care of his or her publisher. That address can be found in the front of the author's book. Publicity departments forward mail to authors. Here is a sample of how to address your letter:

Patrick Carman 
c/o Scholastic Inc. 
557 Broadway
New York, NY 10012

I would like to review books for Kidsreads.com. How can I become a reviewer?

If you are interested in reviewing for Kidsreads.com, here is the link to what you need to know:
I am an author, publisher or publicity agent and I would like my book to be reviewed on Kidsreads.com. What do I do?

To submit a book for review on Kidsreads.com, please send it to:

The Book Report Network
250 West 57th Street
Suite 1228
New York, NY 10107

Although we cannot guarantee a review, we consider every book that comes into our office. Due to the volume of submissions that we receive, we cannot contact authors or publishers on the status of a book for review. Typically books are reviewed within 3 months of publication. We suggest you sign up for our newsletter, which will list the content that we are promoting.

Please note that at this time we do not review eBooks, POD Books, and other self-published titles as we only offer books that are available with wide distribution offline as well as online.
Can you send me or my school free books?

Kidsreads.com receives books from publishers for us to write reviews. We do not have books to send to our readers unless we are running a special contest.

Can you tell me more about the books in my favorite series?

Many readers like to read series books. Kidsreads.com has created a great feature with information about more than 80 series:http://www.kidsreads.com/series
How do I identify this website if I use it for a research paper?

Although Kidsreads.com is not a scholarly journal, it is one of the most respected book sites on the Internet. If your school allows you to use sites from the Web, feel free to cite Kidsreads.com in your bibliography using this format:

(c) Copyright -- The year listed on the feature or review -- Name of Article, Name 
of Website, The Book Report Network, New York, New York. Here is an example:
(c) Copyright 2009, Series Book Feature, Kidsreads.com, The Book Report 
Network, New York, New York.
May I link my website to Kidsreads.com?

Readers telling readers about Kidsreads.com has been the way we have built our website. We would love you to link to us. To make it easier for you to link to our network of websites, click here:
I’d like to request permission to use an interview or a review from Teenreads.com. What should I do? 

You can send your permissions requests to Editorial@bookreporter.com. Please specify the exact content you’d like to reprint, as well as all the pertinent details about your publication.
Who owns The Book Report Network?

The Book Report Network is a privately held corporation located in New York City. The Company was founded in 1996. 

And there is more. This is a great place to visit to get a feel for current and upcoming books for children.

Whew! That is plenty! Only four sites and you get all that information! Good luck with your search for good children’s books! When I found these sites below that just go on and on, I decided to select the four above for review.

Here are many of the sites. Pick and choose what looks good to you. Send me your review of the site if you decide to go look at it. Send to alicot@comcast.net

Children's Book Council http://www.cbcbooks.org/ 
A great resource for parents, librarians, kids, and writers. Lots of news and info, links, resources and more.

Children's Literature Web Guide http://www.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/
This site has it all, lists of award-winning books, teaching ideas for books, and links to author pages.

CyberGuides  http://www.sdcoe.k12.ca.us/score/cyberguide.html
CyberGuides are supplementary, web-delivered units of instruction centered on core works of literature from the San Diego County Office of Education. They are designed for the classroom with one online computer.

Cynthia Leitich Smith's Children's Literature Resources http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com/index1.htm
Includes author interviews as well as links to lists of reading.

Database of Award-winning Children's Literature  http://www.dawcl.com/ 
Create a list of award-winning books to meet your specifications.

The Doucette Index to K-12 Teaching Ideas for Literature http://www.educ.ucalgary.ca/litindex/ 
Searchable index to books and websites with teaching suggestions and ideas.

Fairrosa Cyber Library http://www.dalton.org/libraries/fairrosa/ 
Articles and reviews, author links, discussions and more.

Internet Public Library - Youth Division  http://www.ipl.org/youth/ 
Check out the Reading Zone for links to online stories and info about books and

Kay Vandergrift's Special Interest Page  http://www.scils.rutgers.edu/special/kay/kayhp2.html 
Hosted by Professor Kay Vandergrift at Rutgers University, this site includes sections covering: Materials for Children, Gender, and Culture in Picture Books, Young Adult Literature, History of Children's Literature, Linking Literature with Learning, Feminist Studies, and Professional Writing Resources.

KidsReads http://www.kidsreads.com/
This online book club for kids features book reviews, author profiles, polls, and lots of other resources.

Literary Calendar http://litcal.yasuda-u.ac.jp/LitCalendar.shtml
Interactive calendar with all kinds of great facts about authors and their works.

Multicultural Children's Literature http://www.gallaudet.edu/~ghware/index.html 
Lists of K-3 multicultural books with publisher info and a brief synopsis.

The Reading Corner http://www.carr.org/read/ 
Book reviews for readers in grades 2-8 from Carroll County Public Library in Westminster, Maryland, and Mona Kerby, an assistant professor at Western Maryland College.

World of Reading http://www.worldreading.org/ 
You can search for book reviews by author, title, or subject, check out reviews from kids around the world, find great book sites on the internet, or submit your own book review.

Popular Elementary School Books Shelf

And now for a few websites:



Elementary School Children’s Literature

Jen Robinson ́s Book Page – Encouraging parents to read children ́s literature in a different light to ensure the messages contained in the books are transmitted to their kids.

Young Books –   With over twenty years of experience in children ́s literature, Rebecca Young reviews the latest releases for the young reader.

Teach With Picture Books – Educational picture books for children in grades 3 – 8

Reading Rockets- Dedicated to helping young children with learning difficulties to read.

Playing by the Book – Book reviews of activity books where participation is encouraged.
Reviews the best books to get your child hooked on reading.

Getting Kids Reading – Suggestions to get your kids interested in reading and writing.

Booklights – A guide for parents to encourage children to become readers and writers.

Book Aunt – Giving these books as gifts will encourage your children to read.

Bottom Shelf Books –  Picture and activity books for animal-loving children everywhere.

30 Best Books for Elementary Readers

focuses on each grade ( K - 5th) and lists good books for them to read.


Good Reads

This post was written by Alice Cotton https://alicecotton.com/ 

Cover Reveal for The Sponsored by Caroline T. Patti with GIVEAWAY!

Hello Readers! Welcome to the Cover Reveal for
The Sponsored by Caroline T. Patti
presented by Month9Books!
Celebrate this reveal by entering the giveaway found at the end of the post!

Don’t break the rules…

Max Winter is a janitor at a ritzy boarding school. He’s supposed to keep to himself, mind his business, stay quiet about the things he sees, sweep the floors, and under no circumstances is he to have any contact with the residents. Now, Max will break every last one of those rules when he meets Ace Valentine.

Don’t follow your heart…

Ace Sloane finds out she’s on the wrong side of a war she no longer believes in fighting. Now, she’ll risk everything to get her life back from the people who stole it, including getting too close to exactly the wrong boy.

Don’t get caught…

Grey Winter lost both parents in a fire that should've killed her as well. A “miracle baby,” Grey is sent to live with her Nana who should have told her the truth about who and what she really is. Now she’s at the forefront of a cover-up, all-out manhunt, and the object of one boy’s interest she doesn’t want or need. It’s up to Grey to connect the dots and bring an end to the secrets and lies that have caused so much pain and suffering for so long.
The Sponsored by Caroline T. Patti
Publisher: Month9Books
Publication Date: September 12, 2018

Caroline T Patti is the author of The World Spins Madly On and Too Late To Apologize. When she’s not writing, she’s a school librarian, mother of two, wife, avid reader and Green Bay Packer fan.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Book Review of Burying Leo by Helga Gruendler-Schierloh

Ingrid always loved to sing. Auditioning for a summer job after high school shattered her dreams. She fled Germany for Detroit where she married with the hopes of starting a family. When hope crumbled, she attempts to sing again. Will singing bring the life Ingrid always desired, or will her mutilated soul lose her everything?

*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review*

Burying Leo is an emotional read. We met Ingrid, who is unhappy in her marriage and life. It becomes quite apparent that Ingrid has something dark in her past, something that has kept her running all these years. 

I didn't like Ingrid as much first as I thought she took things too far when it came to wanting a child. As I kept reading through and learned more of Ingrid and her past, my empathy for her grew, and I was able to understand her inner turmoil. 

As Ingrid comes to terms with her past trauma she opens herself back up to singing, something that had always brought joy to her heart. 

This is a beautiful story of healing, overcoming, and finding yourself. I would recommend this book to any adult who enjoys stories with a strong female. 

Helga Gruendler-Schierloh is a bilingual writer with a degree in journalism and graduate credits in linguistics. During her childhood years in southern Germany, a much-loved family friend introduced her to the magical allure of literature. Mesmerized with language in general, Helga spent time in London, England, to enhance her English language skills—before moving to the United States and making her home in Michigan. 

Always a dreamer who spent countless hours roaming the Bavarian countryside, gathering flowers and studying cloud formations, Helga eagerly embraced an imaginary world. Deeply concerned with what makes people tick, she aims at writing “what you know”—even in her fiction stories. Her short stories, essays, articles, and poetry have been published in the USA, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Cover Reveal for The High Court by Chris Ledbetter with GIVEAWAY!

Hello Readers! Welcome to the Cover Reveal for
The High Court by Chris Ledbetter
presented by Month9Books!
Celebrate this reveal by entering the giveaway found at the end of the post!

High atop Mount Olympus, dawn breaks on a new academic term. Normalcy has returned to campus following a harrowing expedition into The Underworld to rescue kidnapped students by Zeus and his fellow Olympians. Now, as they prepare to testify in The High Court, Hyperion will be tried for the attack on Crete and death of Anytos. Kronos will stand trial for the murder of Mount Olympus Prep’s Headmaster Ouranos.

As the trials draw near, Mount Olympus Prep students and faculty are besieged repeatedly by a race of gargantuan stone and earth giants. Under heavy assault, the Olympians are forced to flee to the volcanic island of Limnos to regroup.
Meanwhile, a toxic poison Zeus has carried with him since a prior fight with a dragoness, creeps toward his brain.

In a race against time and beasts, Zeus and his friends must find a way to survive not only the toxin ravaging Zeus’ body, but also the giants who grow stronger after every attack, and somehow make it to the The High Court alive.
The High Court (The Sky Throne #2)
by Chris Ledbetter
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Publisher: Month9Books
Available for Pre-order:

Chris Ledbetter grew up in Durham, NC before moving to Charlottesville, VA in 11th grade. After high school, he attended Hampton University where he promptly “walked-on” to the best drum line in the conference without any prior percussion experience. He carried the bass drum for four years, something his back is not very happy about now.
After a change of heart and major, he enrolled in Old Dominion University and earned his degree in Business Administration. He’s worked in various managerial and marketing capacities throughout his life. He taught high school for six years in Culpeper, VA, and also coached football.
He has walked the streets of Los Angeles and New York City, waded in the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and climbed Diamond Head crater on Hawaii and rang in the New Year in Tokyo, Japan. But he dreams of one day visiting Greece and Italy.
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Let's Talk About Sex

Adobe Stock Image

Let’s Talk About Sex.

I can hear your thoughts. Right now. Dirty, dirty.

And now you’re thinking a question: Why are we talking about sex in a Mystery Monday blog post?

And the answer is simple: Why not?

At the core, a mystery is just like any other story. And at the heart of any good story are interesting characters and the interesting things that motivate them. One of those things is sex.

So, we’re going to talk about it. Keep in mind, that within the confines of the particular subgenre of mystery that I write, sex is completely expected. Noir is gritty and more realistic than other subgenres. Cursing is allowed. Sex is allowed. Violence is definitely allowed.

If you only ever want to write cozy mysteries or police procedurals, avert your eyes, I don’t want to make you blush. For those that remain, let’s talk.

There is a puritanical thread that runs through the undercurrent of American society which tells us that sex is bad; sex is embarrassing; sex should be glossed over in books unless they’re naughty books. This means that, for most novels, it’s left up to the reader’s imagination. 

You know the drill (stop snickering and grow up, will you?), it goes a little something like this:

Step 1: Two characters flirt; they’re attracted to one another. 
Step 2: One of them, usually the woman in a heterosexual encounter, says something overtly sexually provocative. Think about the ending of Angels and Demons when the chick says to the nerdy professor, “Have you ever been with a yoga master?” Oh my. The possibilities for creative positions, am I right? 
Step 3: The music swells, the lights dim, and the rest is left up to your dirty little mind.

And this script has its place, unless you’re writing erotica or romantic suspense, then get busy describing the people getting busy, that’s what we paid for!

But for the rest of us, this creates a quandary. How much sex is reasonable? And how much is just plain prurient? And again, this comes down to what kind of story are you telling.

To figure this out, you first need to decide on your own comfort level with writing a steamy sex scene. Over time, I’ve found that I have no problem at all describing what body part goes where; however, when I tried to describe two people sexting each other and masturbating, I turned such an unnatural shade of red that Firstborn asked me if I’d eaten something spicy.

The next question to discern is whether your characters, in the natural course of their relationship, would get it on. Like really get it on and really like it. 

Assuming the answer to both questions propels you forward, the next thing to figure out is the most important: Does it move the story forward?

Sex for sex’s sake is what erotica is for. And, if that’s your bag, by all means, write some steamy erotica, there’s money to be made in getting people voyeuristically laid. Ask Sidney Sheldon.

But for mysteries, sex serves a completely different purpose:

It’s a distraction.

In last month’s Mystery Monday post, I talked about using sleight of hand to hide clues in plain sight. 

Sex is a convenient device to distract readers from clues that they should be paying attention to and get them to focus on the relationship between two characters instead.

I stumbled upon this literary device almost on accident, if I’m being honest, but boy oh boy does it work.

In my first novel, That Old Devil Sin, the two main characters' attraction to one another is a huge focus of the first thirty or so pages. And in between the snippets of their relationship, major clues are hidden. Right there where you can see them. 

The first big sex scene between them happens to be the meat in a clue sandwich, in fact. But it works because it’s so much more than that. It’s not just a literary device to distract the reader’s mind from important information. It works because it steps the reader through something more critical to understanding the story: These two people are falling for each other. 

Reading about them deepening their relationship in a physically meaningful way is another useful tool for character development. The fact that it also says, “Hey, look over here at two naked people, not at the bits of information your brain is trying to thread together right now!” is just an added benefit.

You see, my main character, Q, doesn’t just invite Ben into her bed. She invites him into her life. She takes him into her sanctuary and shows herself to him. And he does the same.

As the series has progressed and Q and Ben have solidified their relationship, sex is still a big part of who they are as a couple. They have the hots for each other. Like bad. Hiding that from the reader, hides who they are together. By showing their private moments, the reader is also given the information they need to understand who this couple is and what they care about when their clothes are on, too. It also helps to show how Q learns to overcome one of her fatal flaws: her impulse to isolate.

Adobe Stock Image
Let’s be clear, I’m not advising you to throw in a sex scene if it doesn't fit your story. What I am advising is for you to consider it if you are about to state or imply that two characters are about to fuck, make love, screw up against a wall, or otherwise engage in sexual intercourse. 

Would knowing how they do any of those things propel the story forward in a meaningful way? Would it help the reader to understand why they interact with each other the way that they do? And, it allows you to distract the reader by making them blush for a paragraph or two? Then rock on.

And there is another reason why I advocate exploring human sexuality in a mystery. At its core, a mystery usually involves violence. Horrific violence. The murder of another human being. That’s terrible. And yet, we have an entire genre of fiction devoted to it.

Within the confines of that same genre, describing the way two people physically demonstrate love, attraction, or affection shouldn’t be out of bounds. It’s always been a bit of a point of contention for me whenever I read a review of a thriller, a mystery, or a suspense novel that says, “Oh, but the sex was just too descriptive.”

You’re reading or writing a book about MURDER, usually of a woman, but reading or writing about two consenting adults indulging in a pleasurable act is out of bounds? Come on.

Because that’s the truth underneath a good mystery. The reason people do the things they do. Why would they kill another human being? Why would they risk their life to save another human being? And, if we’re being honest, sex is one of the answers to both of those questions, so, as writers, we should never be afraid to explore that in a realistic way if that’s what the story calls for. And if you make your readers blush and get their little thrill on for 100 words? Right on.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

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Friday, July 6, 2018

What Separates Science Fiction from Fantasy?

Go into any bookstore and odds are you will find science fiction and fantasy lumped together. This makes perfect sense as there are many similarities between the two. But what exactly sets them apart? 

The Big Difference

The main distinction to be made is that science fiction lives in the realm of possibility. The story can live in the realm of theoretical science, but it has to be plausible. 

A great example is The Flash. I love watching The Flash because of the science! They take theoretical science and play around with its properties. While many things in the story seem like fantasy (opening portals to other Earths, running as fast as lighting, running into the past, etc) they all are based on a scientific theory. 

The Flash does a great job of keeping the show in the realm of science fiction and not crossing the line into fantasy. 

Set in Reality

Another difference between science fiction and fantasy is that science fiction is set in the reality we live in. This is true even for stories like 1984 or space dramas like Battlestar Galactica. Past or future the story is set in our reality.  

Sci-fi writers often overcome this by setting things far into the future or in another universe. This common tactic gives the author room to move around and have the same freedom as a fantasy story. 

The Many-Worlds Theory also gives sci-fi writers all the playground they need to explore otherworldly themes as far as setting goes. 

Why Does it Matter?

Readers who enjoy sci-fi usually enjoy reading fantasy stories as well. So what's the big deal? 

The big deal is for the author who needs to classify their story. If you are not sure if something is possible in reality but want it in your story, then you need to classify the story under fantasy. 

My advice is to decide this in the beginning. This gives you direction. As you build your plot do research to make sure that what you want to happen is possible, even if it's theoretical. 

Researching scientific theories and ideas is important and which to the average layman can be a little intimidating. If you are like me you will find it fascinating all the same. You don't have to become an expert, but just being aware and putting these theories in your mind can help you build ideas for your story. 

Great sci-fi, to me, lives in the area of theoretical science to where it almost seems like a fantasy, but oddly, amazingly, is not. From spaceships that travel at the speed of light and let people live for hundreds of years to aliens on other planets with glowing plants- I love it all! 

What is your favorite aspect of science fiction? 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Summer Reads Spotlight for The D.B. List by Rebekah L. Purdy!

Hello Readers! Welcome to another Summer Reads promo!
Today we are highlighting
The D.B. List by Rebekah L. Purdy
presented by Swoon Romance!

Grab your copy today!

Seventeen-year-old Ellie Gebhardt has spent the last three years of high school in psychotherapy, trying to fix a very broken her. And her shrink (or therapist as she likes to be called) seems to think that in order to totally heal, she needs to recognize all the good and bad things that have led her to this point. As if a trip down memory lane will suddenly make her better.
She’s given a “homework” assignment to create two lists. One with nothing but happy memories and thoughts on it (otherwise known as the ‘happy rainbow farting unicorns list’). And the other with everything negative that Ellie thinks contributed to “the” day she could no longer cope.
So begins Ellie’s Douche Bag list (or D.B. List for short). And once she gets started, it’s hard to stop remembering all the jerks, the petty crap, the times she’d been bullied or the main focus of the rumor mill.
So when nice guy, Ky Laramie, walks into her life, Ellie instantly puts her shields up. But as she gets to know him and his family, she wonders if she can dare to put herself out there again. Because as everyone knows, once a candle is lit, the wind can always blow it out. And Ellie couldn’t handle it if Ky ends up atop of the D.B. List.
The D.B. List by Rebekah L. Purdy
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Release Date: June 13, 2017

Rebekah was born and raised in Michigan where she spent many late nights armed with a good book and a flashlight. She’s lived in Michigan most of her life other than the few years she spent in the U.S. Army. At which time she got a chance to experience Missouri, Kansas, South Carolina, and California.Rebekah has a business degree from University of Phoenix and currently works full time for the court system. In her free time she writes YA stories, anything from YA Fantasy to YA Contemporary Romance. Rebekah also has a big family (6 kids)—she likes to consider her family as the modern day Brady Bunch complete with crazy road trips and game nights.When not hiding at her computer, Rebekah enjoys reading, singing, soccer, swimming, football, camping, playing video games, traveling, and hanging out with her family and gazillion pets.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

It lives in you... Fantasy that is!

All right, I had a bit of a lion king 2 moment, but I mean hey, that's was a great opening song *opens Spotify to play the song.*

So last month we talked about how fantasy was ultimately a part of our everyday life and how it just evolved into something we no longer see as fantasy, but rather as science or ideas.

Well, this month we are gonna slightly expand on that a little, but more so in the reading community. Now if you couldn't tell, fantasy is my favorite genre because I truly believe it is combined with all the other genres.

If you take this photo, for example, you can see romance in passion. Their clothes might suggest historical fiction, but to me, the picture itself has a fantasy feel. It might have some action, judging from the sword. I have no clue why, but I feel like fantasy can be identified in these dark blue color schemes. I know that isn't fact, it's just a feeling for me. It doesn't stop there, a lot of purples do it as well.

Now look at this photo. This one screams action and adventure as well. It reminds me a bit of Lord of the Rings, which we all know is fantasy with a lot of action and adventure with a sprinkle of romance (even if most of it is a bromance between Gimli and Legolas). This is just yet another example of how fantasy worlds closely resemble our own as well include a mixture of other genres that we love.

Now I'm not saying other genres don't have multiple genres included in them, because that would be a flat-out lie. I just feel like real life is constantly a mix of horror, romance, and adventure. So I think mixing real life with a fantasy aspect makes it so relatable while at the same time makes you feel like you're in a whole new world...

That's two Disney quotes in one post and I think I better leave before I ask to be a part of your world.