Ten On Tuesday ~ Grateful

Before we get to the regularly scheduled 10 on Tuesday blog, I want to take a moment to congratulate the winners of my birthday/wedding/blog milestone contest! I used Random.Org to select the winners:

The winner of the yarny prize is L-Squared!

The winner of the booky prize is Kathy B!

Both winners have been emailed. Congrats, and thanks to everyone for helping me celebrate!

Now on to the weekly list…

Today’s 10 on Tuesday prompt is one that’s rather appropriate today. It is “10 Times You Felt Grateful Last Week.” This is more appropriate than usual because last night I attended the memorial service for a friend who succumbed to cancer last week after a couple years of battling the disease. So while it was a sad week, I did also spend more time than usual being intentionally grateful. Apologies, but you may need a tissue for this one. I did. (They’re not all sad, though, and I’ve tried to intersperse the melancholy with the happy.)

10 Times I Felt Grateful Last Week

  1. When I hugged Mr. Wyrm after work the day we found out about our friend. I felt selfish, too, but very grateful that I had him, and that we both have our health. It makes the minor health issues we have been dealing with seem very petty in comparison.
  2. When my cat sat on my lap over the weekend, purring as I knit, and didn’t try to eat the yarn.
  3. When I thought about the memories of good times my friend and I shared. There might not be as many of them as I’d have liked, but they were good ones.
  4. When I got on the scale and saw that I’m down my goal of 15 pounds! Now to keep it off. 🙂
  5. Every time a friend of mine responded to my post on FB ranting about cancer, and when I saw the number of people reaching out to my late friend’s husband. (I was also one of them.) Nothing can make this time easy for him, but hopefully our support can make it easier.
  6. When I remembered that whatever else, my friend is no longer in pain.
  7. When I got to sleep in over the weekend, and woke up only to roll over and snuggle with Mr. Wyrm.
  8. When I sold some things on eBay. (Though I’m not sure if I was more grateful that they sold, or that I was getting them out of the house…)
  9. Every time I spoke with a family member. We found out about my friend’s passing early in the week, so I’d been thinking about untimely death for most of last week.
  10. When I realized that I like my new metallic blue nail polish. (Sometimes a girl’s just gotta wear funky shades of nail polish.)

I hope your experiences last week were less sad than mine, but still. Reminders to be grateful for this thing called life are important. Here’s to a happier time this week.

Contest Time!

Today is Wednesday, and Wednesday is normally for knitting WIPs on this blog. However, today we’re going to do something different.

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Today I want to celebrate my birthday hobbit-style. Or I suppose I could celebrate my wedding hobbit-style, since I have two prizes to give away. (No, I did not get married on my birthday. And no, I’m not telling you the actual dates of either. But we’re celebrating both today on the blog.)

  • For the birthday: this is not a milestone birthday for me, but it is a birthday. And I kinda like birthdays, especially now that so many friends are on Facebook. People come out of nowhere to wish you a happy birthday on FB when it’s your birthday, and it’s nice to touch bases with old friends even for just a moment twice a year.
  • For the wedding: we got married in the Disneyland area (surprise, surprise) and spent our “reception” inside the parks. It was great fun, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. I know we did! If you want more details than that, I’m not really feeling like sharing them here just now, but if you let me know in comments I’ll email you with a link where you can read more about it. I just don’t currently want that information up on the blog. This is also why the pictures in this post are not of us, but of scenery.
  • For the hobbit-style celebration: as you may recall, hobbits give other people presents on their birthdays, instead of receiving presents themselves. Well. It seems there was a blog milestone a short while back, and though I forget what it was, I remember that I had promised a contest.

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So, in order to celebrate ALL THE THINGS, I am holding a giveaway on the blog now. There will be two prize packs up for grabs, since there are two major events. One features knitting, one features reading. You can enter the contest for one or both of these prizes.

Knitting prize includes: a skein of yarn picked by me, along with some other fun goodies.

Reading prize includes: an ebook copy of the story I reviewed last Friday, Seleste deLaney’s GAMING FOR KEEPS, along with some other goodies. (The ebook will be sent electronically, while the rest of the things will be sent by mail. I will be in touch after the winner is selected to determine the best ebook format.)

Sound fun? And how do you enter? There are three ways. Here’s how:

1. Comment on this post specifically stating that you are entering the contest AND which prize(s) you want to be eligible for. Congratulatory comments, while appreciated, are not automatically assumed to be contest entries.

2. Re-Tweet the contest information. Please provide a link to the tweet in the comments on this post so I can go cheer you on.

3. Mention this contest in your blog and post a link to your blog in the comments on this post.

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The winners will be selected by a random number drawing. The same person cannot win both prizes unless there are no other entrants. As with any contest, I reserve the right to modify the rules or end the contest early, blah blah blah. All the legal stuff that you’ve heard before. You know.

The ebook is due to be released on June 10, 2013, so that’s how long this contest will run. ALL ENTRIES MUST BE RECEIVED BY MIDNIGHT PACIFIC TIME ON 6/10/13 IN ORDER TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE CONTEST.

Book Blog Tour: Summer Break Blues

I am fortunate today to have the wonderful Julie Campbell joining me as a part of her blog tour! Please join me in welcoming Julie as we celebrate the release of her new book, Summer Break Blues.

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From Julie:

Thank you all for joining me in celebrating the book release of my second young adult urban fantasy, Summer Break Blues. This is the sequel to Senior Year Bites and picks up a few months after it left off with Meg’s graduation from high school.

Today we’re going to catch up with the guys, Gary, Tad and Gage.

Tell me about yourselves.
Gary: Well, I was born in the New England states. Didn’t go far for college. I became interested in the supernatural when I met Tad. I thought he was a vampire. Of course, I was ten, so…
Tad: Yeah, not a vampire. Sorry, Gary. I obviously grew up close to Gary, though I was born in California and lived there until we moved out here when I was ten, shortly before I met Gary. We both met Gage in college. He’s actually had experience with werewolves before coming out here, so we started our little club to keep an eye out for supernatural weirdness.
Gage: That’s how we met Megan and her friends. I’m from Montana. I hunt and fish and camp and I’m studying wildlife biology. I saw a werewolf when I was out fishing. You’d better believe I’m lucky to be alive. I pretended I hadn’t seen anything and somehow managed to escape with my skin intact.

Favorite foods?
Gary: Steak.
Tad: Pad Thai
Gage: Elk steaks.

Favorite colors?
Gary: Strawberry blonde
Tad: Black
Gage: Green

Ever been in love?
Gary: Steph is amazing.
Tad: I was in love with Wonder Woman. Does that count? Meg is great, but I’m not in love with her.
Gary: Got a girl back home. She’s something special.

What’s it like being friends with Meg?
Gary: She’s a very important part of the Buffy gang. Without her we’d be toast several times over.
Tad: She’s really hot when she fights. Well, when she’s not moving too fast to see.
Gage: I’m just glad she’s on our side. I’d hate to have to kill her.

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About the book:

Meg managed to survive her senior year of high school as a vampire, and now she’s looking forward to a relaxing summer with her friends before trying to tackle college. Unfortunately, some unfinished business from the previous year rears its ugly head and Meg is forced to deal with the Sidhe who are distinctly unhappy that she killed one of their kind last winter. Then Ann’s parents vanish while they are on their annual summer vacation in Maine and it’s up to Meg and the rest of the gang to come to the rescue. Though she is still trying to figure out who, and what she has become, Meg and her friends feel they are up to the challenge. That is until things really start to fall apart.

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Buy Links:

Bono Books
Amazon / Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords
Omnilit

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And we also have a giveaway!!

And now for the good part. Julie and Decadent Publishing are giving away several books on this tour. You could win your choice of any Decadent/Bono Books ebook including Summer Break Blues, or Senior Year Bites. All you have to do for a chance to win is leave an email address and what format you’d like your book in. (PDF, Kindle or Nook). Julie will contact the winner to find out what book you’d like. She needs this info so she can pass it on to my publisher so they can send you your book and to notify you that you won.

Please enter the contest within a week. The contest will run from today until midnight on Sunday, December 9th. Julie will randomly select a winner on Monday, December 10th, and will contact the winner at that point.

The Zombie Billionaire’s Virgin Witch

The Zombie Billionaire’s Virgin Witch is not just a fun story. It is a fun story and so much more. Part “Ratatouille,” part “Top Chef,” and all magic, this is a story of love, loss, and a father’s hope for his daughter’s happiness.

I could describe this — completely accurately — as a romance novel. It is. But it’s got a twist: the hero is a zombie.

Well, he’s at least a part-time zombie. The zombie-fication is a curse, and the heroine is the only one who can break the curse. Sounds like a fairly traditional romance plot, right? Kind-of a “Beauty and the Beast” story. However… it’s written by Joely Sue Burkhart. So it’s got a catch: the curse was laid on the hero by the heroine’s late father, and if she decides she wants to go against one of her father’s actions, the only way she can break the curse will result in a loss of her magical powers.

I really love this book. It’s possibly my favorite thing that Joely has written, and I’ve enjoyed everything of hers that I’ve read. When I go looking for “something wrong” with this story, though, so I can present a balanced review, my only complaint is that it’s not long enough. It seems to be a standard ebook length, and there is no sense of an unfinished story. I just wanted more.

Good thing she’s writing another book in this series…

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In the interest of full disclosure, I received this as a review copy. However, as I stated in my contest post on Monday, I enjoyed the book so much that I am “paying it forward” and holding a contest so I can buy a copy for someone else.

Contest! Contest! Contest! ~ The Zombie Billionaire’s Virgin Witch

I recently finished reading Joely Sue Burkhart’s fun book The Zombie Billionaire’s Virgin Witch. It’s a self-published eBook that I received as a review copy. However, I love Joely’s work enough – and was intrigued by the premise – that I would have bought it anyway. So, instead of buying the copy that *I* read, I’m going to buy a copy for *you* to read.

One of you, anyway, to be selected at random at midnight on Halloween. I thought Halloween was an appropriate day for it… (If there are enough entries, we’ll make that two of you.)

I will announce the winner on November 1st, provided that I’m not too crazy with NaNoWriMo. I will certainly contact the winner ASAP, and certainly by that weekend.

So, how do you enter to win this contest? here are the rules:

  • Comment on this contest post for an entry.
  • Tweet about this contest (and let me know you did!) for an entry.
  • Comment on the book review that I will be posting Thursday for an entry.
  • Blog a link to this contest for an entry. (Make sure to let me know that you did…)

Now, as a bit of a teaser, here’s an interview I did with Joely after I finished reading the book. Again, I will have a real review on Thursday, but here’s a bit of a taste…

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Me: I’m a huge Disney fan, so I inevitably thought of “Ratatouille” when reading this. Did that movie (or others) have any influence on how you wrote the book?

Joely: Yay, absolutely! We (the monsters and I) loved Ratatouille so much I had to name the heroine and the restaurant after Remy the rat. (Me: I thought so… 🙂 ) My favorite part of that movie is when he’s mixing foods together and it’s like a symphony in his mouth. I tried to capture that same magic in Clare’s food.

Me: What part of this story came first? The zombie romance, or the system of magic?

Joely: Zombie romance came first. Angela James said something on Twitter about how hilarious a zombie category romance spoof would be, and I couldn’t resist! The magic system developed to make the zombie aspect more tolerable (less icky!) for the romance.

Me: I’m glad you made the zombie aspect less icky! 🙂 Helga is such a great secondary character. Did you base her off of someone you know?

Joely: I wish! No, Helga is just a kooky fun person who showed up on the page one day without planning or deliberate thought. I wish they all were that easy to work with. 🙂

Me: These dishes sound amazing and they do say to “write what you know.” Is this a case where you’re a gourmet chef at heart?

Joely: Dang, I wish! I do watch a lot of Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen and Food Network — and we do love to eat. But I’m not a gourmet foodie. I do try to make a lot of things at home from scratch, like bread, and I’ve started grinding my own wheat for the health benefits. Okay, maybe I’m a fledgling foodie?

Me: I don’t remember when you started actually working on this one, but I did see that you’re donating your 4th quarter 2012 profits to Rebuild Joplin. Had you started writing before the tornado disaster in Joplin, and did that influence your desire to set the story there?

Joely: I don’t remember exactly when I started this book (I do know that I finished it during NaNoWriMo last year), but it was always going to be set in Joplin. Our favorite restaurant, Mythos, is there, and I knew I was going to model Remy’s after it. Then the tornado hit (my sister lives in Joplin) and I knew I had to do something to help.

Me: And just for fun, let’s do some word games… (explanations allowed, but not required)

* Sweet or savory? Savory. I really don’t do a lot of sweets, but keep me away from anything like homemade bread or hot buttered popcorn!

* Wine or beer? Wine. I’ll drink beer occasionally but I love a glass of merlot.

* Princess or pirate? How about a princess pirate? I’ve promised to dedicate a female pirate book soon to S.J. Collins (set in the Jane Austen Space Opera world).

* Cheese or chocolate (with your wine)? Cheese – or homemade bread!

* eBook or paper? Both, but increasingly eBook. The monsters and I love my Kindle!

* Alpha male or nice guy? Alpha all the way. 🙂 But alphas can be nice guys too. Sometimes.

* Zombies or vampires? 10-15 years ago I would have said vampires hands down, but I’m sick to death of sparkly vampires (I have a teenage daughter who’s dying for Breaking Dawn part 2). Definitely zombies!

Thanks again for playing along, and for writing great stories! I look forward to what you do in this world – it’s got great potential for lots more stories!

Thanks so much for having me, Nicole! I’m so glad you enjoyed this world and I can’t wait to write the red-haired witch’s story (http://joelysueburkhart.com/the-blog/giveaways/make-me-write-the-book-part-1/)!

Joely’s “Save An Ent” Giveaway!

Author, blogger, and ‘net friend of mine Joely Sue Burkhart is giving away an eReader to celebrate her latest book release!

(Details are on her post, here.)

Now, I like her work, so I’m going to help promote her contest. I’ve also pre-ordered the book (due for release in a few days) and will review it once I’ve read it. This is one that I’ve purchased, though I have gotten review copies of other things from Joely in the past.

I also like eReaders. Another reason to promote the contest. I don’t like eReaders to the exclusion of paper books, but I think they both have their place. And MY HOME is that place. Both belong here, and I can’t see a time when that will change.

But the real reason I decided to promote this contest instead of just telling Chris about it and letting her work her magic with her much higher blog readership?

The post title mentions Ents.

I’m such a sucker for fantasy geek humor.

STOLEN – a review

It is April, so Moonlight Gleam’s WOMEN OF THE OTHERWORLD Reading Challenge is on to STOLEN!

Make sure to swing by the hosting site and see what other people are saying about this book… I can almost guarantee you that I am in the minority here.

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I’ve never really cared for STOLEN. It’s (I think) the 4th of the series that I read, even though it’s the 2nd book, and I am super glad that I was hooked on the series before I got to this book. If I’d started with BITTEN I might not have gotten past STOLEN.

I have never before tried to figure out why I don’t like STOLEN, however. And this time around – which is only the second time I’ve ever read it, for all that I’ve read some of the others dozens of times – I tried to focus on that aspect. Tried to convince myself that it was just prejudice because I like Paige the best of the narrators and she’s not presented in a very favorable light in this book.

But that’s not it. However, I figured out what it IS.

I don’t like the bad guy. Yes, I know, that’s the point. But I don’t like the way he’s presented. I don’t like how much screen time he gets compared to the good guys. I don’t like having Elena on her own for nearly the entire time, without the other core characters. My favorite part of the series is how well everyone works together. How they each have their own strengths and weaknesses and how all of it ties into the plot. In STOLEN, there is very little of that (visible). The book is more about how Elena deals with this problem, or that problem. Not a lot of collaboration. Not a lot of communication. (Yes, this working together stuff does happen more at the end than during the middle. But I nearly put the book down several times in the middle because of this, so it fixed my main complaint almost too late.)

Another thing I don’t like about the bad guy is his motivation. A rich guy who wants some excitement. Compared to the other bad guys in the series, I think he’s the weakest. (Series spoilers in the rest of this paragraph… you’ve been warned.) I mean, really. You have Winslow, who wants to play games, deadly though they are. On the other hand, you have Edward and Natasha, who want eternal love. You have Kristof, who wants his daughter. You have a group of humans who want to be paranormal. And you have werewolves who want revenge. If you ask me, no matter how deadly Ty’s games are, they are the most minor motivation on this list.

STOLEN does work as a book in the series, and it sets up some great parts of later books. And it introduces a much larger cast of characters than just the Pack, and in such a way that it seems logical and not to avoid getting bored of werewolves. But I still don’t like it.