Guest Post

Top Ten Tips for Going from Zero to Hero by Geoff Herbach

Today we have at Reviewing Shelf, Geoff Herbach, author of I’m With Stupid. I’m With Stupid is the third in the Felton Reinstein trilogy- Stupid Fast, Nothing Special, and I’m With Stupid.

Top Ten Tips for going from Zero to Hero

1. Exercise!

2. Eat the foods you love only half the time! The other half, eat lettuce.

3. Read everything, constantly. Not just what you really want to read, but things that stretch you, make you think, see things from different perspectives. Your brain will get big and beautiful and the world will open up like a daffodil on the first seventy-degree day.

4. Go to things: plays, movies, parks, museums, great buildings, friends’ houses, bowling alleys, basketball games, after-midnight rock clubs, barbecues of neighbors you don’t know that well.

5. Remember: this screen you’re looking at isn’t living.

6. Wear good shoes. What a difference.

7. If something peaks your interest, chase the mother. If you like a writer, research that writer and that writer’s influences and then read that writer’s influences and then research the writer who influenced your writer and so on and so on and so on. Complexity, richness, world without end…

8. When someone in the mall or in a car or in the hall at school does something dumb or mean, don’t get angry because dumb and mean is part of the world in which we live. Just say, “Oh well.” Then, go about your business as if it doesn’t matter, because you shouldn’t waste energy on the one billion petty cases dumb and mean.

9. Stand up if dumbness and meanness go beyond petty. If someone is being harmed, stand up. If someone is being degraded, stand up. If someone is harming you, stand up. Spend your energy fighting the right fight.

10. Be kind.

Wow! Love those tips, Geoff. They are so precious and yet some are funny at the same time. 

ImageSummaryFelton Reinstein has never been good with stress. Which is why he’s seriously freaking out. Announcing his college choice on national TV?

It’s a heart attack waiting to happen. Deciding on a major for the next four years of his life? Ridiculous! He barely even knows who he is anymore without football. And so…he embarks on The Epic Quest to Be Meaningful.

Which leads to:

1. Mentoring a freshman called Pig Boy.

2. The entire state of Wisconsin hating him.
3. His track coach suspending him.
4. The funniest viral video the world has ever seen.
5. A whole new appreciation for his family, his friends and what
what’s really important in life.

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

About the Author

I am the author of the YA title, Stupid Fast (June 2011 from Sourcebooks Fire). I also wrote The Miracle Letters of T.  Rimberg, a Novel from Three Rivers Press. When I’m not writing books, I’m writing for Radio Happy Hour or developing ridiculous musical bits.When I’m not writing, I’m teaching writing at Minnesota State, Mankato, which means I write a lot of comments about writing on student writing.

Writing a lot of writing and reading about writing and writing on reading.

Guest Post

Guest Post: Basketball and Game of Zeus by Aimee Laine

Silent Echoes is a “Games of Zeus” novel but it’s not a traditional mythological conundrum. No, as the author, I’ve taken quite the liberties in creating a situation Zeus could have used to mess with us puny humans.

So, to have a little fun as Silent Echoes releases this month, my host here at Reviewing Shelf has challenged me to create a Game of Zeus out of Basketball!

How could Zeus use Basketball upon two unsuspecting humans? How could he manipulate a seemingly innocuous game into a maniacal, devious relationship conflict? Oh, let me count the ways … or rather, let me show you.


downloadFrom Wikipedia: Basketball is a team sport, the objective being to shoot a ball through a basket horizontally positioned to score points while following a set of rules. Usually, two teams of five players play on a marked rectangular court with a basket at each width end. Basketball is one of the world’s most popular and widely viewed sports.

Before we get to the ultimate Basketball Romance … let me tell you a little about Silent Echoes.

15789207Games of Zeus #2
by Aimee Laine
Release Date: March 11, 2013

For years, Ian Sands has enjoyed his life as a bachelor, taking advantage of singlehood and exploring his own definition of passion—whoever she may be. Blonde. Brunette. Tall. Short. Hot. Not. Five months ago, all that changed.

Ian’s been celibate, frustrated and desperately seeking answers to why one woman, who doesn’t play by girls’ rules, haunts his every waking moment.

As a renovations specialist, Taylor Marsh lives, works and breathes construction—a profession her southern belle of a mother would rather Taylor not touch. The same goes for Ian; Mama Marsh would never approve of him.

Like Ian, though, each time he and Taylor draw near, something compels her to get closer.

Something else tells her to run away.


As much as their histories suggest they shouldn’t be together, neither Taylor nor Ian can deny the pull, and the two succumb, indulging in a relationship that brings pleasure to body, mind and soul.

Doing so, though, also ushers in a series of events both should have foreseen as well as one final outcome neither expected.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Barnes & NobleGoodreads | J. Taylor | Website

And now …

Basketball … how can a team sport where people have to throw a big giant orange ball into a net turn itself into a game of Zeus? Well, let’sdownload (1)

think about this game for a second. To win, it’s not a matter of beating someone to the buzzer … oh! Yes it is. It’s also a matter of gathering/getting enough points before the other team AND before time is up.

Right there, we have conflict – two of them in fact. The great thing about any game is that there is at least one person going after a goal and a second doing exactly the opposite but for the same goal.

Add in the element of time and tada! We have a conflict.

How will she ‘win’ if by winning, he won’t? Isn’t love and marriage supposed to be win-win (at least in those key early years?) Ok … all the years, but we all know it’s not at times. In any case, how can two people win the same game when in basketball, a tie is not allowed. Some how, some way, only one person is going to win.


It can’t happen.

These two teams, the He and the She are going to constantly be playing the game with the singular goal of winning. The most baskets. The most points. The most opportunity to win right up until that buzzer goes off.

What if it adds time? What if, as Zeus might do, as one player gets close to winning, Zeus adds time? And gives the other player an opportunity to earn more points so that he or she might be able to take over? You see Zeus isn’t going to make this a simple game of back and forth. No, he’s going to change the rules always keeping the players able to nearly win … almost win … be only ‘points’ from winning but not getting the prize – that romantic relationship.

The question is how will they get around it? That might end up in a book!

And there you have it. What do you think? Is Basketball a possible Game of Zeus?

Wow! Now that’s a thought-provoking post, Aimee. I will never be able to look at Basketball as just a game now. I will always be thinking of how Zeus can manipulate it upto his liking.

 About the Author

Aimee is a romantic at heart and a southern transplant with a bit of the accent (but not a whole bunch). She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and with him, she’s produced three native North Carolinians, two of whom share the same DNA.

With an MBA and a degree in Applied Mathematics, there’s absolutely no reason she should be writing romance novels. Then again, she shouldn’t need a calculator to add two numbers, either … but she does.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Giveaway, Guest Post

Ten Favorite Mystery Authors by Helen Smith & Giveaway(INT)

Ten Favorite Mystery Authors by Helen Smith

Enid Blyton

The first mysteries I read as a child were in a series known as The Five Find-Outers and a Dog. These were a group of British children who got involved in mysteries in the school holidays. They were led by a domineering and resourceful boy called Frederick Algernon Trotter, known as Fatty, who liked to dress up in wigs and theatrical make-up to outwit local criminals and the local village policeman.

Agatha Christie

The first grown-up mysteries I read were by Agatha Christie. I preferred Miss Marple to Poirot as a character and I also enjoyed some of her stand-alone books. The stories are always extremely well-plotted. I love watching the feature-length adaptations of her books on TV.

Ngaio Marsh

Ngaio Marsh was a New Zealand writer who wrote about a detective in the British police force called Inspector Allingham. I discovered her after reading Agatha Christie—both writers wrote during the Golden Age of detective fiction.

Dorothy L Sayers

Dorothy L Sayers is another writer from the Golden Age of detective fiction. Her main character is amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey, who later teams up with detective novelist Harriet Vane. Dorothy L Sayers’ work is notable for its humor and fine prose.

Arthur Conan Doyle

Like Agatha Christie’s books, the Sherlock Holmes stories are so popular that they are still being adapted for film and TV. I loved reading the stories when I was younger. Like everyone, I have a favorite screen version of Sherlock Holmes. Mine is Jeremy Brett who played the detective in a British TV series.

Wilkie Collins

Two mystery novels by Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White and The Moonstone, are available free for ereaders as they’re out of copyright. It’s definitely worth looking them out if you haven’t come across them. They’re involving, entertaining stories. In The Moonstone, events are told from several points of view, and the story unfolds with humor and intrigue.

M C Beaton

M C Beaton is a prolific author of the Agatha Raisin and Hamish MacBeth series as well as historical romances. I loved the slightly surreal TV adaptation of the Hamish MacBeth novels that was made by the BBC and aired in the 1990s. I’d like to watch it again. If you haven’t seen it and you get the chance to watch it, do check it out.

Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith is another prolific writer of mysteries and romance. His female detective, Precious Ramotswe, is probably his most famous character. She runs a private detective agency in Botswana. These novels have also been filmed for television. The settings and the characters are as important as the mystery element of the books and TV episodes—the charm is in the story-telling as much as in the puzzle set out in the mystery.

Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris is probably best-known for the Sookie Stackhouse stories that have been successfully adapted for television. She has also written a couple of mystery series featuring strong, interesting female characters—and plenty of humor. In the Aurora Teagarden series, a group of people who are interested in real crime stories meet regularly… and get mixed up in real murders. In the Shakespeare series, Lily Bard is a young woman who works as a cleaning lady. She finds herself solving crimes when people are murdered in the town of Shakespeare where she is hiding from a dark past.

Patricia Highsmith

Patricia Highsmith wrote psychological thrillers and is well-known for the standalone books that were adapted into films—for example Strangers on a Train—as for her series about Tom Ripley, a murderer who kills his rich friend and goes on to kill again. Her books and short stories are intelligent and beautifully-written.

I have picked up a few more authors to read. What about you?

Tour Schedule

Three Sisters and Showstoppers by Helen Smith

Three Sisters and Showstoppers are two novella-length stories in the Emily Castles mystery series. The first full-length novel, Invitation to Die, will be published by Thomas & Mercer in October 2013.

The Emily Castles mystery series is set in present-day London. It features twenty-six-year-old Londoner Emily Castles and her neighbor, eccentric philosophy professor Dr. Muriel Crowther. In Three Sisters, Emily goes to a party in a big house at the end of her street. She’s sure she witnesses a murder, but no one will believe her. She teams up with Dr. Muriel to investigate.

In Showstoppers, Emily helps out at a local stage school run by her neighbor, Victoria. Soon she’s mixed up in a blackmail plot and two deaths. Emily and Dr. Muriel team up to prevent further a massacre live on stage during the end of term show.

Praise for the Emily Castles Mystery Series

Fast-paced, funny, and mysterious… Helen Smith is a master story-teller.

~Socrates Book Reviews

It grips you from the very beginning.

~Babs Books Bistro

Bright, colorful and full of surprises.

~Amazon Vine Reviewer

Fast-paced and unusual, I highly recommend this one.

~Eva’s Sanctuary

Praise for Helen Smith

Smith is gin-and-tonic funny.

~The Booklist


Author Helen Smith

Helen Smith is a novelist and playwright who lives in London. She’s the author of bestselling cult novels Alison Wonderland, Being Light and The Miracle Inspector as well as the Emily Castles Mystery Series.

Amazon * Facebook *  Twitter * Blog

Tour Giveaway

10 winners will each receive a Kindle Ebook copy of Showstoppers & Three Sisiters

Ends 2/28/13

Enter here.

Giveaway, Guest Post

Guest Post & Giveaway: Infernal Eighteen by Don A. Martinez

Let’s welcome Don A. Martinez, the author of The Advance Guard, Dinétah Dragon and The Insurgent’s Journal who’s now presenting book 4 in the series, Infernal Eighteen. Today he’s here conversing with 4 of his characters which had me chuckling away. Hope you find some good laughs too. Thank you Don for being here.

Buy the books – The Advance Guard | Dinétah Dragon | The Insurgent’s Journal | Infernal Eighteen | Add at Goodreads

Preventing BellaSwanitis: Avoiding Mary Sue At All Costs

By Don A. Martinez, Cyrus Salem, Kitty Salem, Michika Salem, and William White Bear

Don A. Martinez: Hello, and welcome to Day 3 of the Infernal Eighteen Blog Tour 2013. First off, before we begin our presentation, I’d like to express my thanks to Pragya for hosting us here at Reviewing Shelf. Also, please allow me to introduce my companions here on the panel, all from the Hidden-In-Plain-Sight Ranch, whose Tumblr feed shows off their thoughts on a regular basis. Left to right around our table, we have Cyrus Salem …

Cyrus Salem: Greetings to you all.

DAM: … his wife Kitty …

Kitty Salem: Hey guys, how’s it going?

DAM: … their daughter Michika …

Michika Salem: What’s up?

DAM: … and finally their friend William White Bear.

William White Bear: It’s a pleasure, sir.

DAM: Okay, now that we’ve introduced ourselves and each other, let’s get to the topic of discussion today, and that’s the problem with characters who act as proxies for their authors. While it’s all right for a character to be based on real people, or even the author him or herself, there’s never anything good that comes from making that character into a dreaded “Mary Sue.”

KS: Who’s Mary Sue? Does your wife know about her?

DAM: What? No, it’s not like that. It’s a character type. Mary Sues have a tendency to be falsely humble, but are admired by everyone they meet, have incredible amounts of power particularly in fantasy fiction, and wind up having the entire universe revolve around their little lives.

CS: I’ve read a lot of books in my time, and I’d have to say the ones I liked the least had characters like the one you’re describing. They’re self-centered, and the writing comes across as at best arrogant, but at worst unbelievable.

MS: But what do you write? I mean after all, right now you’re sitting here having a conversation with four of your own characters. That’s gotta be weird, right?

DAM: To a certain extent, but I’m used to having a dialogue with all of you, since I hear your voices all the time in my mind.

KS: That sounds like a personal problem.

DAM: Well, not exactly, not when I can generate characters to go with those voices. In fact, all of you embody some aspect of my personality, in one form or another. All of you in my cast of characters do, as a matter of fact.

WWB: How do you avoid making any of us a Mary Sue, then?

DAM: It’s because I limit the characterization of each of you to one aspect of my personality. For instance, you, William, you’re the side of me that’s a hopeless, helpless romantic.

WWB: But wait, so you mean your romantic side wants to eat people from time to time?

DAM: Not exactly, no, but look at how you relate to your girlfriend, Alanna Sharpe. Haven’t you noticed, you fling yourself full-steam into that relationship, am I right?

WWB: Well of course I do. I love her, why wouldn’t I?

DAM: Exactly. That’s one of the defining parts of your character. And you, Michika …

MS: Yeah? What about me?

DAM: … you’re part of me that refuses to grow up.


DAM: Stick with me here, Michika. You have this unbridled energy, the kind that only comes from youth and inexperience. When you get out into the field, sometimes that comes back to bite you in the butt, but you thankfully have your friends around you. Plus, there’s the whole thing with Prince Fahaian …

MS: Now wait just a damn minute, what are you trying to tell me?

DAM: That’s the definition of “schoolgirl crush.” Even though you want to be Peter Pan and never grow up, you have these feelings that you can’t … or don’t … understand for the prince, and it causes you conflict.

MS: (grumbles)

KS: I think somebody’s had her personality hit right on the head.

DAM: Which brings me to you, Kitty. When I write you, you’re the part of me that houses my unrealized natural need for violence.

KS: Ex-cuuuse me?

DAM: Haven’t you wondered at all why you know how to operate damn near ever gun ever made? It’s because you’re expressing every violent impulse I feel that I don’t express due to my pacifistic nature.

KS: Really? Because some of the stuff you write me doing is pushing it quite a bit.

DAM: Absolutely. After all, you’re my combat monster.


DAM: Plus, Michika takes after you.


CS: (chuckles)

DAM: Which brings us to the Salem patriarch. You, Cyrus, are the part of me where my maturity and wisdom resides, but has trouble articulating that wisdom.

CS: Please, elaborate.

DAM: Your character is one that has gained much wisdom over centuries of existence. When the chips are down, though, sometimes you have trouble expressing what you need others to know. There’s the Se Ri Pak incident, for instance.

CS: I think I was pretty clear when I was talking about soul possession.

KS: Cyrus, you told us if you were possessed we were supposed to kill you.

DAM: Exactly. There’s a better way you could have told the team about it, but instead you wound up freaking them out. Wisdom with articulation trouble, right there.

CS: Okay, maybe I was a little too blunt …

KS: A “little” too blunt?!

DAM: We’ve kind of gone off the rails here from our original subject, but really all of this discussion ties into it. To avoid Mary Sue characters, authors need to spread themselves around to all of their characters.

WWB: What happens if it doesn’t happen?

DAM: That’s a good question, William. What you wind up with is characters like Bella Swan … I apologize, but this is the truth … characters who are the prettiest, the most popular, the most powerful, can save the day singlehandedly, and are admired by everyone. They also express an artificial sense of humility, by claiming to be completely “oblivious” to their qualities unless it’s explicitly stated to them by other characters. To me, that feels like the worst kind of masturbatory ego-stroking on the part of the author.

KS: Then what the hell do you call this whole conversation? Isn’t this basically talking to yourself?

DAM: Yes, that’s technically true, but I’m not trying to make myself look like the greatest person in the world with it.

MS: I love your tie, by the way …

DAM: Well, before things get too far out of hand, let me just let all of you reading know that Infernal Eighteen, the fourth Phantom Squadron novel, has its worldwide release on February 15th in both print and electronic formats, and you can find out more information by going to the official Phantom Squadron website or to the Hidden-In-Plain-Sight Tumblr page. Once again, thank you all for joining me in this round-table discussion.

CS: Which reminds me, I should take this back to Avalon … (levitates table and carries it out of the room with magic)

About the Author

The son of two 20-year Navy vets, Don A. Martinez spent much of his formative years around the Pacific Rim before settling in the continental U.S., first in Michigan and New York before eventually landing in Texas.

He has been writing all of his life, getting his start in elementary school as a two-time Young Authors selection in Oak Harbor, Washington.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing and a Master of Arts degree in English from Buffalo State College (SUNY-College at Buffalo), where he wrote his thesis on application of mythic storytelling techniques to the modern media.

Currently, he lives with his wife, daughter, and four cats in Texas, where he is a college English instructor.

Find the author – Goodreads | Website | Amazon Author Page | Twitter

Giveaway (INT)
Win 2 ecopies of Infernal Eighteen
Ends 3/15/2013
book tours, Giveaway, Guest Post

Character Interview & Giveaway (INT): Rough Harbor by Andrea Stein

Character Interview – Caitlyn Montgomery – Heroine of Rough Harbor

Name: Caitlyn Amanda Montgomery

Occupation: Account Manager, financial analyst, investor and poker player – the guys never see that one coming.

Blonde or Brunette – A natural brunette, thank you very much…

Who Taught You to play poker – my grandfather – he taught pretty much all the important things in life. I am not so sure he would have approved of me fleecing the Men’s Rugby team, but hey, a girl’s got get
her start somewhere.

Most Romantic Place – I used to think it was sunset at the Eiffel tower but I have new appreciation for newly remodeled kitchens.

Favorite Place – Sailor’s Rock, right at the edge of Queensbay Harbor… it’s my thinking spot.

Treasured Possession – the 1980 Mercedes roadster my grandfather left me. Shiny, candy apple red, beige leather interior and totally impractical. But there’s nothing like driving along the Shore Road on a summer’s night with the top down, blasting the radio.

Favorite TV Show – Used to be Downton Abbey, but the English accents are give me bad memories, considering my own recent brush with the English aristocracy. Guess I’ll have to stick with Vampire Diaries. Part of me still wishes I could get a do over in high school.

Favorite Movie – Working Girl, you know with Sigourney Weaver as the bad boss and Melanie Griffiths as the average girl with a head for business and a bod for sin…I guess I kinda like to think of myself that way too…

Favorite Book – Pride and Prejudice – what girl doesn’t want to find their Mr. Dary

Bathing Suit, Prom Dress or Business Suit – I’m definitely more of a business suit type of girl, but you should see what I wear underneath it.

Chocolate or Pizza – A pepperoni slice from Queensbay Pizzeria followed by a molten lava cake from the Hideaway…you can’t ever have too much chocolate.

Beer, Wine or Coffee – Wine and coffee…

Favorite Way to Exercise – I’ll run…but only because it’s good for me.

Something Funny We Don’t Know About You – – – I can lipsync all the words to The Sign by Ace of Base…Where’s the karaoke machine?


After a bitter break up and professional set back in London, twenty seven year old Caitlyn has returned to Queensbay to work for Maxwell Randall, an old family friend, at his financial management firm. So far, bit by bit, Caitlyn’s been rebuilding all she lost after Michael St. John broke her heart …and tried to ruin her professional reputation.

But her past comes back to haunt her when Maxwell unexpectedly turns up dead. Not only does Caitlyn find her career in jeopardy but her heart is too, when Noah Randall, Maxwell’s son, and her first love, returns to Queensbay. Once, ten years ago, Caitlyn was sure Noah was the one for her…but the tragedy of her grandfather’s suicide and Noah’s decision to leave town left her bereft…and determined never to trust him again.

Over the past decade, she’s managed to do her best to forget about Noah Randall and the lingering questions surrounding her grandfather’s suicide. But now that’s he back in town – rich and more handsome than ever, and she can’t help wondering what if? What if Noah really was the one?

Noah Randall left home ten years ago to seek his fortune – vowing never to return until he’d made a success of himself – and show Caitlyn Montgomery just what she’d given up. He returns to find that Caitlyn Montgomery has only grown more alluring with time. Noah’s always wanted he couldn’t have…and now he wants Caitlyn again. But she’s determined not to make the same mistake twice.

While Noah and Caitlyn are revisiting old ground – and forging a new relationship, there’s trouble brewing in Queensbay. Old secrets and new lead Caitlyn to believe that perhaps her grandfather didn’t kill himself – and that Maxwell’s death was no accident. But just how far will someone go to keep her – and Noah – from finding out the truth…and will Queesbay prove to have troubled waters after all?

Buy it here – Amazon | Add at Goodreads

Giveaway (INT)

Andrea will be awarding a $50 GC, winner’s choice of Starbucks, Amazon or Walmart, to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. So comment away. Follow the tour.


Noah leaned in closer, his lips hovering above hers, his arms moving around her, pulling her closer to him, so he could feel his body next to hers, feel the swell of her breasts, see every freckle on her nose.

“I have people for that,” he murmured, letting his lips feather across her. Her eyes opened wide, and he knew that she was feeling, that he had gotten to her.

“Noah…” It was more of a moan than a whisper.

“Shh, I know you’re not after my money. Just shut up and let me…”

Kiss you. And he did, their lips touching. Softly at first, so he could taste her, smell her perfume, something spicy, and her shampoo, something fruity. She moved in his arms – not away, but closer – and he took that for an invitation, an invitation that his attentions were wanted.

He deepened his kiss, letting his tongue explore, letting his hands slide from her shoulders down to the V of her neck, skimming lightly over her breasts, feeling the fabric of her bra, then the hard nub of her nipples which sprang to attention under his caress.

She moaned, answering his kiss, her hands running through his hair, pulling him towards her as their embrace deepened, grew more passionate, his hands roaming feeling, possessing her.

Until. “Stop, Noah, stop.” She broke free, her head moving away from him, her hands still twined in his hair. She lowered her eyes and leaned against his shoulders.

“What, what is it?” His voice was husky, raspy, and he could feel desire, the sheer wanting of her flowing through him, all the way through it. She felt it, too, and took a step back.

“Noah, you’re the boss. And we barely know each other. I mean now. I just can’t get involved right now.”


Hi, I’, Andrea Stein an author, mother, wife and blogger and a certified mom-chauffeur. I have been scribbling stories for as long as I can remember, including my first adventure story, inspired by an obsession with Out of Africa (book, movie and biography) about a young girl stranded in Kenya. It was serial fiction handwritten, given to my sister, who couldn’t read my handwriting. That story dies after one installment, but the next year I got a word processor (not a computer, but an ACTUAL WORD PROCESSOR) that showed about twenty lines of text at a time. This was before laptops were widely available and this allowed me to be able to type to my heart’s content in the privacy of my own room. Which I did. I think I spent the time writing stories about my “frenemies” to amuse myself. I also listened to a lot of the Cure and New Wave music. I have since moved on to a happier place.

Even though I read lots of different types of books, I write romance novels with a twist. More like contemporary romance than romantic suspense (I don’t write about serial killers or FBI agents) but I usually like to include a puzzle or mystery for my hero and heroine to solve.

Rough Harbor is my second novel, set in a small New England town. Coming soon is Ivy Cottage, also set in a small New England town on a river.

Other than writing I spend most of my time reading, watching TV, cooking, cleaning, taking care of kids, trying to keep the house clean and folding laundry. I love Twizzlers, chocolate and shows on the WB. For me, reading has always been an escape, a way to escape the ordinary and dive into a world that feels real – but with all of the ‘boring’ parts edited out.

As for the rest of my life, I grew up on Long Island, spent a lot of vacations in small New England towns, went to college in New York City, married by high school sweetheart, worked, had kids, stopped working, and kept on writing. Now I live in rural New Jersey (yes, there is

such a thing), and though I don’t own any horses, I do have a barn, which I share with squirrels.

There’s something successful writers always tell new writers about their secret to success. Just do it…Bum Glue…write 1ooo words a day…write for two hours a day….Keep writing. And they’re right. I got more successful with my writing when I started to do it consistently. I don’t write every day, but I shoot for five days a week. This means that the words and pages pile up — and I have stories to shape, make and mold…and share.

I hope you enjoy my books.

Links – Website | Facebook | Twitter

book tours, Giveaway, Guest Post

Top Ten Tips for Writers by Patrick W. Carr & Giveaway (INT)

Top Ten Tips for Writers

I’m a little leery of offering my top ten tips. I’m a debut author after all, and I usually find myself in need of writing advice rather than dispensing it. At the risk of being repetitious, I’ll put for the ones that have helped me the most.

1. Just finish the book: I really needed this one. For years I would write three chapters, get stuck, and give up. Then I would start a new book and repeat the process. It’s also possible to get caught in the “endless edit.” Look, it’s never going to be perfect. You can always edit later.

2. Join a writers group: Writing well in isolation is really difficult. Join a group or find a critique partner, but do something where you can get feedback on your work. It’s indispensable.

3. Enter a contest: This can be rough because a contest judge has no reason whatsoever to soften the blow. The first contest I entered, I had one judge basically tell me, “Don’t ever quit your day job.” Wow, did that hurt, but after I got through grieving, I went back and looked, really looked, at what they were saying.

4. Be disciplined: Ooh, I hate this. Discipline in any shape is not my thing. The problem is if I don’t enter my story world every day, I start to forget the details and nuances of it that make it real. If a go a week? Forget it, it will take me days just to get back in the groove.

5. Choose craft over marketing: All the publicity in the world won’t sell a bad book. Of course, as soon as I say that, everyone goes, “Well, what about…?” And they’re right. There are some horrendously bad books (the temptation here to mention some of them by name is almost overwhelming) that have sold well. But, by and large, good books sell well and bad books don’t. Write a good one. Learn your craft.

6. Live a big life: Try everything. Never danced before? Take a lesson or three. Don’t know how it feels to get hit with a practice sword? Find out, but stay away from the head. Ouch. Play music, sing songs, go on hikes. As a writer, it’s your responsibility to take these experiences and breath them onto the page. Nothing is ever wasted. I’ve blown out my knees several times playing sports. I wish I hadn’t , but you can bet my intimate familiarity with pain has made it into my writing.

7. Observe: The writer’s biggest tools are his senses. Life is made up of sights, smells, tastes, sounds, and textures. Bring them all to your writing. I’ve spent a bit of time on farms. I know what cow manure smells like. Just how I know makes for a pretty disgusting story, but the experience, the smell, made it to the first line of my first book.

8. Be ruthless: Your skin must grow as thick as buffalo hide. Find your worst critic and use them to make your writing better. Don’t make excuses for a boring passage. If it bores you, it’s bound to bore your reader. I’m blessed. My editor at Bethany House is wonderfully sweet and supportive, but she works my manuscript with a fine-toothed comb.

9. Know the requirements of your genre: Writing a romance? Great, but if you’re a first time writer, don’t even think about submitting a 200k word manuscript. Don’t keep your heroine and hero apart at the end. Writing a fantasy? Awesome, but once you’ve built the rules for your world, don’t break them. The reader will never forgive you.

10. Read: Read the great stories of your genre. If you love fantasy, then make sure you’ve gone through Tolkien with a fine-toothed comb, not only for what he does better than anyone, but where he could have done better. Romance? Great. Take a couple of turns through “Pride and Prejudice.” These are the rods you will be measured against. No, we’ll probably never get there, but it’s our job to try.

Wow! Thank you so much for stopping by, Reviewing Shelf, Mr. Patrick. They are one of the most simple and practical top ten writing list I have ever seen. Love them. Very resourceful.

Blurb: An Epic Medieval Saga Fantasy Readers Will Love

In the backwater village of Callowford, Errol Stone’s search for a drink is interrupted by a church messenger who arrives with urgent missives for the hermit priest in the hills. Desperate for coin, Errol volunteers to deliver them but soon finds himself hunted by deadly assassins. Forced to flee with the priest and a small band of travelers, Errol soon learns he’s joined a quest that could change the fate of his kingdom.

Protected for millennia by the heirs of the first king, the kingdom’s dynasty is near an end and a new king must be selected. As tension and danger mount, Errol must leave behind his drunkenness and grief, learn to fight, and come to know his God in order to survive a journey to discover his destiny.

Buy it here – Amazon | Add on Goodreads

Author Patrick W. Carr

Patrick Carr was born on an Air Force base in West Germany at the height of the cold war. He has been told this was not his fault. As an Air Force brat, he experienced a change in locale every three years until his father retired to Tennessee. Patrick saw more of the world on his own through a varied and somewhat eclectic education and work history. He graduated from Georgia Tech in 1984 and has worked as a draftsman at a nuclear plant, did design work for the Air Force, worked for a printing company, and consulted as an engineer. Patrick’s day gig for the last five years has been teaching high school math in Nashville, TN. He currently makes his home in Nashville with his wonderfully patient wife, Mary, and four sons he thinks are amazing: Patrick, Connor, Daniel, and Ethan. Sometime in the future he would like to be a jazz pianist. Patrick thinks writing about himself in the third person is kind of weird.

Blog Tour Giveaway

$10 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 1/31/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW
Blogoversary, Giveaway, Guest Post

Blogoversary Special: Guest Post & Giveaway#6 (INT)

I had a few more Blogoversary giveaways heading your way but I didn’t find the time to post them. So a couple more are coming up this week.

Today on Reviewing Shelf, we have Sheila Kelly Welch, the author of Waiting to Forget, a book I read and liked this year. Read my review here. Welcome Sheila!

Thanks to Pragya for inviting me to write this guest post for her fabulous blog.

“Good Book!” Says Who?

Do most writers have an audience in mind when they create their stories? I do. My short stories and books are usually
realistic fiction for children and YA readers.

I don’t deliberately write to teach lessons or set good examples, but I do offer hopeful stories. My experience as a teacher and
parent has convinced me that realistic books can give children a view of the world that’s wider than their own, and these books might even help them deal with life’s situations as they encounter them.

However, until recently, I wasn’t sure how young readers were responding to my books. Although I write for kids, most of the reaction to my work comes from adults. It’s strange but true. Children’s authors have two very different audiences: adults who are judging the writing for children, and children who are judging it for themselves.

Reviews by adults of WAITING TO FORGET, my 2011 novel for ages ten to fifteen, have been quite positive. But a few have questioned whether children could handle the shifts in time, back and forth between present and past, in this story. Some adult readers also have been very critical of the birth mother character named Celia.

In WAITING TO FORGET, twelve-year-old T.J. is at the hospital, wondering if his little sister, Angela, unconscious after a fall, is ever going to wake up. While he waits, T.J. remembers the difficult life they led with their birth mother before they were adopted almost a year before. He doesn’t feel as if he belongs with these new parents, and he’s not ready to forget his other life. Gradually, the past catches up to the present, and T.J. realizes he is ready to move forward into the future.

I was expecting negative reactions to the character of Billy, the kids’ mother’s abusive boyfriend. What has surprised me is the antipathy expressed toward Celia, the mother. Many adult readers say they are angry with her and hate her and that she is the poster girl for everything they despise. Not only are they angry with Celia, but they want her punished, or to admit her mistakes and take responsibility for her poor parenting.

A few of these adults have been quite frank in saying they don’t think the book is for kids. They want children protected from a mother such as that — even if she’s just a character in a book. Some adults seem to feel that children’s books should be written with the express purpose of teaching kids how to behave through the correct actions of the characters.

When I wrote this novel, I was thinking about four of our seven children who led traumatic lives before we adopted them. I felt that WAITING TO FORGET was definitely a fictional book that kids would appreciate. So, when a middle school class was using my book in their language arts studies, I was thrilled to be invited to visit them via Skype.

I was astounded at the reactions I received from these twelve-year-olds. All but one of them found the time shifting easy to follow. They asked perceptive questions about the way I developed the characters and plot. They also answered my questions with thoughtful consideration. Although they realized that Celia was an inadequate mother, they expressed empathy for her and even wondered if I was planning to write a prequel about Celia’s childhood.

I found it very gratifying to discover kids who really understood my story on as deep a level as most adults. Fortunately, these young readers have confirmed my belief that kids can be thoughtful and empathetic and that they are capable of profound thinking about what they read.

Receiving feedback from my intended audience has been a great privilege and has inspired me to continue writing stories that I hope will connect with kids. I plan to have a new novel, working title, IN A SOMETIMES PLACE, finished soon.

Thanks again, Pragya!

Thank you so much Ms. Sheila for this wonderful, thought-provoking guest post. It raises so many questions. Truly, every book is ‘to each his own’ and we can’t predict who will and won’t like a book. Thank you for being here today. It was a pleasure having you on Reviewing Shelf.

Giveaway (INT)

Win 5 ecopies of Waiting to Forget (pdf, epub, mobi)

Enter here.

Blurb: T.J. has always looked out for his little sister, Angela. When Momma used to go out and leave them home alone, he’d lock the door so they’d be safe, keep Angela entertained, and get out the cereal and milk for her. When Momma’s boyfriend got angry at them, he’d try to protect Angela. Later, at their foster homes, T.J. was the only one who knew how to coax his little sister out of her bad moods. The only one who understood why she made origami paper cranes and threw them out the window.

But now T.J. is sitting in the waiting room at the hospital, wondering if Angela, unconscious after a fall, will ever wake up. Wondering, too, if he will ever feel at home with his and Angela’s new parents—Marlene, who insists on calling him Timothy, and Dan, who seems to want a different son.

Going back and forth between Now and Then, weaving the uncertain present with the painful past, T.J.’s story unfolds, and with the unfolding comes a new understanding of how to move forward.

Book trailer at:

Find Waiting to Forget – Goodreads Amazon

About Sheila Kelly Welch

I began writing and drawing before I started school. In first grade my black crayon was always worn down from making pictures of horses with long manes and flowing tails. In junior high school, I began to think about a career, and I actually wrote in my diary, “Maybe someday I’ll make my own children’s books, illustrations and all.”

When I went to Temple University in Philadelphia, I majored in fine arts and also received a master’s degree in education. In the next few years, my husband, Eric, and I began to raise our family. We bought and sold a farm in Minnesota, I taught school, and Eric decided to become a librarian.

Then, in 1981, I had open heart surgery. With my artificial valve ticking away, I knew that if “someday” was ever going to arrive, I’d better get busy. My first short story was published in 1983. Since then my short stories, often accompanied by my illustrations, have appeared in a number of magazines including Cricket, Children’s Playmate, Girls’ Life, The Friend, Ladybug, Cicada, and Spider. Several of my short stories have been published in language arts textbooks. I’ve also written and/or illustrated fourteen books for children of various ages.

Now I live in the country near Forreston, Illinois with my husband and a menagerie of pets. We have seven grown-up children and seven grandchildren. I enjoy volunteering at the local animal shelter and visiting nursing homes with my certified therapy dog. Raven and I also participate in the “Paws for Reading” program at the library. Children read aloud to the dogs.

I often do school and library presentations as well as sign my books and present special programs at bookstores. My newest book will be published soon by namelos. WAITING TO FORGET begins and ends in a hospital, but in between, readers will learn about T.J.’s other life, before he was adopted, and why his little sister is lying unconscious in the Emergency Room.

Find Sheila – Website | Goodreads | Facebook

Giveaway, Guest Post

Guest Post & Giveaway (US): The Girl in the Wall

Let’s welcome Daphne Benedis-Grab, the author of The Girl in the Wall, a book I’m dying to read and hope to start reading the review copy soon. She is here today to share some tips to overcome writer’s block with all the aspiring authors out there. Welcome Daphne and over to you now.

The Best Way to Overcome Writer’s Block

Writer’s block sucks, especially when you go to all the trouble to carve out actual writing time, sit down at the computer ready to type and suddenly every shred of story flies out of your head. Every writer has his or her own process and nothing is foolproof for getting your writer juices flowing anew, but here are a few of the things that have worked and not worked for me, broken down into a handy list of do’s and do not’s.

We’ll start by getting the negative out of the way first.


1- Sit staring at the computer screen, berating yourself for coming up blank. This will not help anything and will only serve to make you crabby and possibly depressed. Which makes it that much harder to write.

2- Surf the internet. Yes, that montage of stars acting just like us is engaging but close that window and don’t go back. The internet will suck every last minute of writing time you have, leaving you feeling like you just binged on junk food instead of eating that salad for lunch.

3- Go binge on junk food. That starts a cycle of self loathing none of us need.

4- Start listing all the reasons you should not be a writer, why you will never finish this book, why you suck in general. Nothing good ever comes from this line of thinking.

5- Second guess everything you have done so far in your book. You will need to edit but not now, when you are feeling down on your work. There’s time for constructive rewriting later.

And now for the positive.


1- Reread parts of your book that might inspire you or trigger a fresh idea for a new scene. It’s awesome if you can actually use your own work to break out of the block!

2- Go for a walk and think about what’s going on in your book while away from that screen. Moving your body can do wonders to shake ideas free.

3- Turn on your favorite song and dance while totally putting your story out of your mind. Sometimes some straight up cardio gets your juices flowing the way nothing else can.

4- Consider that perhaps the scene you are working on isn’t something that needs to be in the book- maybe that’s why you are getting stuck here. Or skip it and write something that happens later in the story. You can always come back to this scene later and maybe knowing what’s next will help it come more easily.

5- Call a friend and brainstorm story and scene ideas. Because your friends are there for you, especially the other writers who will totally get your frustration and want to help you out of it. Sometimes just saying your ideas out loud helps you rethink things in new ways.

And when all else fails, eat chocolate- not the junk food kind and not a binge, just a few squares of the best bar you can find at short notice. Chocolate has been known to work many wonders, so why not curing writer’s block? I’d swear it works for me.

Good luck and happy writing!

Wow! Those are some of the basic yet very useful writing tips, Daphne. Thank you so much for giving us various ideas to get rid of that ghastly writer’s block. Thank you for gracing us with your presence on Reviewing Shelf. I am looking forward to reading and loving your book.


Summary: Ariel’s birthday weekend looks to be the event of the season, with a private concert by rock star Hudson Winters on the grounds of her family’s east coast estate, and all of Ariel’s elite prep school friends in attendance. The only person who’s dreading the party is Sera, Ariel’s former best friend, whose father is forcing her to go. Sera has been the school pariah since she betrayed Ariel, and she now avoids Ariel and their former friends. Thrown together, Ariel and Sera can agree on one thing: this could be one very long night.

They have no idea just how right they are.

Only moments after the concert begins and the lights go down, thugs open fire on parents and schoolmates alike, in a plot against Ariel’s father that quickly spins out of control. As the entire party is taken hostage, the girls are forced apart. Ariel escapes into the hidden tunnels in the family mansion, where she and Sera played as children. Only Sera, who forges an unlikely alliance with Hudson Winters, knows where her friend could be. As the industrial terrorist plot unravels and the death toll climbs, Ariel and Sera must recall the sisterhood that once sustained them as they try to save themselves and each other on the longest night of their lives.

Buy it here –  Amazon | The Book Depository | Add at Goodreads

Giveaway(US only)

Last day to enter today!! (21 December)

Win 2 copies of The Girl in the Wall

Enter here.

Author bio:

Daphne Benedis-Grab is the author of two novels for teenagers, Alive and Well in Prague New York (HarperCollins 2008) and The Girl in the Wall (Merit Press, to be released December 18, 2012).  Alive and Well in Prague, New York was praised by Booklist for its “strong, clear voice and heartbreaking vulnerability”and by Kirkus for its “excellent narrative voice and touching emotional connection”.  It was selected as one of Bank Street College’s Best Children’s Books of 2008.  Daphne has also ghostwritten a teen novel for Sourcebooks and reviewed children’s books for Publishers Weekly.  She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

4 stars, Book reviews, Giveaway, Guest Post

World of Shell and Bone by Adriana Ryan: Review, Guest Post & Giveaway (INT)

World of Shell and Bone

By Adriana Ryan


In a world ravaged by a nuclear holocaust, Vika Cannon knows there are no guarantees: no guarantees of safety, no guarantees that your neighbor is not actually a spy for the government, and no guarantees you’ll be allowed to emigrate to a new life in Asia.

New Amana (as the North and South American continents are now called) is dying. Food and water are scarce, and people suffering from radiation-caused mutations—the Nukeheads—are the new class of homeless. To control the conditions, the government operates under a totalitarian regime.

Every resident of New Amana has only one purpose. Females must produce healthy progeny using Husbands the Match Clinic assigns. Unhealthy children are carted away to Asylums to be experimented on, just as Vika’s little sister was, eight years ago. Parents incapable of producing healthy progeny are put to death in gas chambers.

When Vika Cannon is assigned a Husband shortly after her twentieth birthday, she expects him to be complacent and obedient. But Shale Underwood has a secret. He is a member of the Radicals, the terrorist group intent on overthrowing the government. And Shale has information about Vika’s sister, Ceres.

As she learns more about the Rads’s plan, Vika finds herself drawn to Shale in ways she’d never imagined. When freedom calls in the way of a healthy pregnancy, will she betray her government and risk death for Shale and Ceres?

Buy it here – Amazon Kindle | Kobo  | Barnes & Noble | Add at Goodreads

My View: Gah! Just Look at that cover. I’m in love with it. I keep going back to look at it again and again. What do you think of it?

When I started reading this book, I found myself comparing or rather identifying it with Eve (Eve, #1) by Anna Carey and Matched (Matched, #1)  by Ally Condie. But as I progressed with my reading, I found World of Shell and Bone making its own place in the bookish world with an innovative world-building and an entirely different storyline.

The book hooked me right in and I devoured it in less than a day since I couldn’t possibly part with it. The editing is flawless, not a single extra word is written. The speed with which the book moves is thrilling and captivating.

The characters are well-built and as I love myself a strong female character, Vika fit the bill perfectly.

The story is so well-written that I found myself emoting with the character’s situation – smiling, feeling sad and fearing for her.

The plot took turns I didn’t even expect, throwing me off balance. I like that – unpredictability in a book.

Overall, I think Adriana has done a brilliant job with her very first book. It hits the mark for me on all fronts- the plot, characters, pace, editing.

Go grab it right now.

4/5 stars – I really liked it. images (17)

Guest Post

Today let’s welcome Adriana Ryan, author of World of Shell and Bone to Reviewing Shelf. She has graciously agreed to share her writing experience with us.

Welcome Adriana Ryan!

When did you decide to become a writer? Do you have tips for aspiring writers?

I think, if you cut me open, you’d find that my blood is partially ink. Writing runs in my family, and I’ve been doing it since I

was really little. I used to pen these rhyming poems with words like “darling” and “starling”—true story. It makes me cringe now to think about it, but hey, we all have to start somewhere, right? I’m glad I outgrew that phase, though. 🙂

As for an official beginning to my career, I think that happened when I was offered a contract for book one of my urban fantasy, Enlightened, in May 2012. (Enlightened will be out in February 2013.) I’d been considering graduate school in forensic psychology when I got the email from the acquisitions editor telling me she loved my book and would like to speak to me about a contract. I remember reading it and asking my husband to read it to make sure it really said what I thought it said. When I said yes and the contracts had been signed and everything was official, I told my husband I felt like I ought to pursue my writing career. He’s always been really supportive of my need to write, so he was thrilled. I haven’t looked back since.

If you’re an aspiring writer, I’d say run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore (or e-bookstore) and buy Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. She describes the writer’s life in a funny, yet very real, way. Most people imagine writers locked away in a room with a glass of whiskey at one elbow, madly typing away at their keyboards. The truth is a lot less glamorous. There are some serious ups and downs to the writing life—everyone has them. You’ll want to give up about thirty-three times a day. But it’s also so, so worth it.

If you want to write, the first thing you should be doing is writing (I know—crazy, right?). Write a little bit everyday. If you don’t have a book you’re working on yet, just start by writing what you’re comfortable writing. Journals/diaries, short stories, poems, all of those count. Concentrate on getting better, on plucking those words out of the ether and getting them down on paper.

If you can find a critique group in your local area, that’s excellent. If not, look online. There are so many resources, and you can connect with writers all over the world. It’s a humbling and exciting experience. Some of my best friends are writers I’ve met online. But make sure people who read your work are going to be brutally honest, because that’s how you learn. The second thing you should be doing is reading. Read good books—books with excellent prose—and books in genres you hope to write.

It’s not particularly difficult to get started on the writing path if you truly love words and have a burning desire to tell stories. The hardest part, I think, is training yourself to be disciplined enough to write every single day. Most writers write because they’d die if they didn’t (melodramatic as that sounds!). So go forth and conquer that pen!

Wow! I think that’s the most wonderful writing advice I have ever got. It’s so basic and makes so much sense. Ms. Adriana has shown us the first few steps to start a writing career. I hope many of us will benefit from that. I, for one, sure did. I’m going to grab my pen right now. And thank you Ms. Ryan for sharing your writing journey and useful tips with us. It was a pleasure having you here and I loved your book.

About the Author

Adriana Ryan writes in beautiful Charleston, SC. A huge fan of spooky stuff and shoes, she enjoys alternately hitting up the outlet malls and historic graveyards.  World of Shell and Bone is her first book.

Buy World of Shell and Bone at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

Adriana Ryan is a member of the Romance Writer’s Association (RWA).

Visit her at her website, on Twitter, Goodreads or on Facebook.

Giveaway (INT)

1 ecopy of World of Shell and Bone

Enter here


Blogoversary, Giveaway, Guest Post

Blogoversary Special: Guest Post & Giveaway (INT)

images1-2-1I know you have missed these Blogoversary Giveaways’ posts of mine. I have too. There are lots more coming up. I just got a bit busy.

So today on the Giveaway list is another book I read and absolutely loved this year – Cleopatra’s Moon By Vicky Alvear Shecter (read my review here). I fell in love with the cover itself and the book took my breath away. I messaged Vicky on Goodreads immediately after finishing reading, asking her about more of her books, I was desperate to read more of her work, you see.


And today, lo and behold, I have the lovely lady herself whom I begged to tell me how she came about writing Cleopatra’s Moon and wonderful as she is, she not only agreed to it but also graciously offered her book for the giveaway. Don’t you love amazing authors like that?

So over to you, Vicky!

Thanks for inviting me to post on your wonderful blog, Pragya! The idea for my novel, Cleopatra’s Moon, came out of the research I did for a biography on the famous queen of Egypt, Cleopatra VII (Cleopatra Rules! The Amazing Life of the Original Teen Queen) published in 2010.

I was stunned to learn that out of the queen’s four children, only her daughter, Cleopatra VIII Selene, survived to adulthood. Not only that, but she grew up to rule as queen of a North African province!

Why don’t we hear much about this plucky daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, I wondered. What must it have been like to have Cleopatra as your mother? What would it have been like to watch your world crumble around you after your parents lost a war?

I assumed that the princess of Egypt took it for granted that she would follow in her mother’s footsteps as queen of Egypt. So how did she react when that dream was ripped away from her? What must it have been like to have to leave all you’ve ever known and loved against your will? To be forced to live in the home of the man responsible for your parents’ deaths?

A writer friend once said, “Don’t write what you know. Write about what you want to know.”

In having to get into Selene’s skin, I got to “experience” what it was like to be a follower of Isis, to walk the glittering halls of the royal palace of Alexandria, and to fall in love with someone who complicated your political plans.

Historical fiction, I believe, is the closest we’ll get to a “time machine.” I hope that readers enjoy the “trip” back into a fascinating period of ancient Egypt and ancient Rome!

Thank you for being on Reviewing Shelf, Vicky! The pleasure is all mine. I am so happy and relieved that now I know your inspiration behind this book and I love that quote – “Don’t write what you know. Write about what you want to know.” Amazing!

Find it here- AMAZON | Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide | Goodreads

But you also have a chance to win it.

The author, Vicky Alvear Shecter  is very graciously offering a hardback to a US/CAN resident or a Kindle copy to International resident.

Find Vicky- Goodreads | Website | Blog Twitter | Facebook


1 Hardback of Cleopatra’s Moon (US/CAN)


1 Kindle Copy (INT)

Enter here.

Giveaway, Guest Post

Guest Post & Giveaway (INT): Witching Curse of Kin by Ari Harper

Witching Curse of Kin by Ari Harper
Young Adult

16169184Blurb: What would you think if one day you found out you had powers, the kind of powers that you could only dream of. The only problem was, you had to relearn them so you could break the curse that made your uncle immortal. Would you take on that kind of deal so you could watch your favorite man die? Nera certainly doesn’t want to. And to make matters worse she has an incredibly handsome god for a teacher and protector. A problem you think? Nera does. They clash at every turn, both stubborn and very strong willed. The race is on for Bones to get her magic up to scratch before it is too late. The demons are rising and all hell is breaking loose around them. No one sees what is coming and Nera is heartbroken when Bones tells her what she has to do to save them all. But can she go against all she is to carry out his orders?

Buy it here – Amazon | Add at Goodreads

I welcome Ari Harper to Reviewing Shelf today. She is here to talk about her fascinating book. Over to you, Ari.

Character Sketching – WITCHLING – BOOK ONE – CURSE OF KIN

When I started writing Witchling it was because the characters, Nera in particular, wouldn’t leave me alone. She would pop up4572084 in my head during the day for no apparent reason when I was trying to concentrate on something. My sleep would be disturbed with the dream that starts the book with Nera fighting to get out of the burning classroom.

She got so annoying that I had to get it all down. Now this was my first book so it was all new to me. I had no idea how to start writing, let alone how you went about it. It was only because of a conversation over Christmas one year with my daughter-in-law and son-in- law that this book got written at all.

“Just start,” they both said.

Easy for them to say. After rearranging my desk and endless fluffing I finally got into it. What happened next scared the wits out of me.

Nera found her voice and dragged in her Uncle Jasper, the most gentle soul with a voice that would make most women weak at the knees – me included.

Her best friend Brie who was born on the same day but six minutes later as Nera likes to tell everyone, also came into the story very early on dragging Sully with her.

I don’t plan my books at all. I’m a pantser through and through. I find that if I develop a character on paper plotting an outline, it doesn’t work for me.

I didn’t make Nera the often nice with a side order of snotty brat teenager thrown in, it’s just how she is. All of my characters have their own agenda and if I try to change it, wow look out. That book goes downhill and no longer talks to me.

I’m sure you have all read the comments like ‘I didn’t know my characters were going down that path.’ I see it all the time on social media and I can sympathize. I understand what they are going through because I’ve done it too.

I cried in Book Three when they did something I didn’t expect, seriously I did. I couldn’t believe it but now I understand and it makes the story so much better.

So no, I don’t choose my characters. They choose me and write their own story.

Wow, that sounds so wonderful. I wish I had even half of your mind and imagination, Ari. Thank you for being here today.

Find Ari- Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Giveaway (INT)

Ari is very graciously giving away an ecopy of Witchling.

Enter here.

Blogoversary, Giveaway, Guest Post

Blogoversary Special: Guest Post & Giveaway (INT) by Tawdra Kandle

images-2-1So another one of my Blogoversary Special Post which means I read and loved a book this year. But here I’m talking about two books – Breathless and Fearless.I am still to read the third one in The King Series by Tawdra Kandle – Restless.
breathless 3 rs textI am also inviting Tawdra Kandle to Reviewing Shelf. She’s been here once before for an interview and fearless rs w texttoday she’s going to do a guest post on Character Sketching.

Welcome to Reviewing Shelf, Tawdra.


Character Sketching of The King Series’ Characters

Shortly before the publication of my third book RESTLESS, I was planning an on-line party with the Release Day Diva. She 269162_10150213032152312_558562311_7794677_6359989_n-150x145suggested that I create Facebook pages for my main characters, which was simple enough. . .until it was time to choose profile pictures for Tasmyn, Michael, Nell and Rafe.  I scoured the internet for hours, trying to find photos that closely matched the descriptions in The King Series. None of them were immediately just right, and it dawned on me that I really didn’t know–or care–what they looked like.

Some writers create characters fully formed. They can physically see them; sometimes, they’re even inspired by actual people, either celebri ties or their own family, friends or acquaintances.  I’m sure that’s handy when it comes to describing them. But my people don’t come to me that way. When I meet them, it’s more a sense of who they are. I don’t necessarily see their faces, their hair color or their build, unless that goes into some particularly telling aspect of personality. Instead, I know something important about that character. The first thing I knew about Tasmyn was that she was terribly lonely. She had lived a life of isolation, watching–and listening to–the world around her.

15725794Oddly, of all the characters in The King Series, Nell is the most visible. I could tell you immediately that she has long black hair–not exactly curly, but certainly not straight. And she also has pale blue eyes, which are in stark contrast to her hair color.  All of this is part of her family heritage, which of course is a huge influence on Nell’s psyche and being.

But while I may not be able to describe Tas and Michael down to their teeth, I can tell you about any aspect of their history and their pasts. It’s a little strange–but extremely cool–to somehow know the most minute details about people who have never really existed. It’s also indicative of my writing style.  I am always, first and foremost, intrigued by the whys and wherefores of people, places and situations.  What a character is wearing, how she looks, isn’t as important to me as what she’s thinking or what happened earlier in her life that is influencing her current mindset. I want to know why Nell becomes interested in witchcraft and why she is susceptible to the influence of Marica Lacusta.

So you won’t see me posting character pictures often, and I am thrilled that the new covers of FEARLESS, BREATHLESS and RESTLESS don’t depend on a particular girl. Instead they capture the essence of the story. Because, at least in my world, it really is more about what’s on the inside of a person.

What a thought-provoking post! Thank you so much for being at Reviewing Shelf, Tawdra.

Read Fearless,  Breathless and Restless – Books 1, 2 and 3 of The King Series


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Giveaway (INT)

Tawdra is very graciously giving away signed copies of all three books in paperback form for the US/Canada or ebooks of all three internationally.