Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Book Review: Devon Monk's Allie Beckstrom Series

I could probably break this series up, book by book but it seemed a better idea to write one rave review than several. While I have my favorite installments in the Allie Beckstrom series, I truly enjoyed each book individually.

Starting out with Magic to the Bone, Allie Beckstrom is a smartass woman in a tough career in a world where magic exists and wielders pay a price for every spell they cast (there are proxies but let's not get into that yet). Allie is a Hound for hire with complex relationships and a tendency to talk to herself (like most of us, often the most intelligent conversation of the day). In Allie's world, Portland (Oregon) is a major magic hub that keeps her busy hunting down illegal spell-casters and more until the blowback sets her on a path she never saw coming.

Zayvion Jones is the "Zen" love interest with his own secrets, Nola is her best friend who is completely oblivious to magic, and then there's her estranged father whose death sets Allie on a collision course with the most powerful magic users in the world.

Laced with humor and complicated relationships, the Allie Beckstrom series is an easy, enjoyable read - I could finish a book in a few hours if uninterrupted. Here's the order, one through nine, for those who are ready to start the journey I just completed!

#1 Magic to the Bone
#2 Magic in the Blood
#3 Magic in the Shadows
#4 Magic on the Storm
#5 Magic at the Gate
#6 Magic on the Hunt
#7 Magic on the Line
#8 Magic Without Mercy
#9 Magic for a Price

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Xpresso Book Tour

Welcome to the Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, and Dystopian Reader Appreciation Giveaway!

Thank you for checking in!! For this giveaway, EVERYONE who enters will win 23 EXCLUSIVE ebooks by the sponsoring authors (to be delivered at the conclusion of the giveaway), and 1 GRAND PRIZE winner will also receive a $1000 Amazon Gift Card! The Winner will be announced on February 1st at our Facebook Event. The winner will also receive an email directly.

There will ALSO be other prizes and giveaways happening at that event between now and our Grand Prize announcement! Be sure to mark yourself as attending so you don’t miss the amazing opportunities to win more prizes and snag more freebies!


Here are a couple of sneak peeks!

ETERNAL NIGHT, by Jade Kerrion
Ashra’s hand trailed across Jaden’s muscled torso. He made it easy for her to be gentle. His body trembled as if he longed for her. His mouth was hungry for her kiss. He arched up against her, as if craving more. His need was like a living creature, wild and aching for her touch.

Eyes closed, Ashra shivered. Only one other person had desired her as much.

And he was dead.

She forced her way through the memories of pale bodies tangled upon cool silk sheets. When her soul-sucking power leeched out, it found no opposition. Images of the human’s life rewound in a blaze of vivid sights, sounds, and sensations.

Ashra looked up at Tera, her smile little more than a barely perceptible curve of her lips. “He fancies himself the protector of the child of prophecy. Was she among those taken tonight?”

Tera nodded.

Ashra chuckled, the sound without humor. “It’s a pity her genetic heritage wasn’t sufficiently superior to prevent her from being culled.”

“There’s more. Go deep.”

She pushed past the blackness at the start of his memories, expecting deeper darkness. Instead, the colors shifted into shades of ochre and gray. Memories, older than his body, resided in his soul; memories of an Earth long since lost to them—a planet surrounded and nourished by water; images of tall buildings glistening beneath a benevolent sun, and of thriving cities filled with the bustle of humans; memories of quiet and intimate conversations beneath a silver moon, the same silver moon that now graced Malum Turris with its light, though a thousand years older and viewed only from beneath the protection of the dome.

She saw herself as he must have seen her, a much-younger icrathari, still hopeful for the future, never realizing that the Earth they had all known and loved was irretrievably lost. Had she ever looked that vulnerable? Had her smile ever been so beautiful, so filled with love as she looked upon—

“Rohkeus?” Oh, blessed Creator, was that stricken whisper her voice?

Ashra pulled back and stared at the human. Her mouth dropped open. Her heart pounded in her chest, its beat erratic. It couldn’t be. It simply couldn’t be—

She looked up at Tera. The other icrathari nodded.

Rohkeus’s soul reborn…in a human.

Ashra threw her head back and laughed, a despairing sound. Her prince, her love, reduced to a human? Her slender fingers coiled into fists. Her golden eyes glittering, she pushed away from him, though her body trembled from the loss of his warmth. No, the human was not Rohkeus; he could never be Rohkeus.

Steeling herself against the gasp of pain that escaped from his lips as the anesthetizing effect of her kiss faded, Ashra rose to her feet with sinuous grace. “He is not one of us. Not anymore.” Nothing had been more devastating than losing Rohkeus to a human assassin. To see his soul reborn in that contemptible and weak race was an insult to the person Rohkeus had been.

“Should we turn him into a vampire?” Tera asked.

“Kill him. Set Rohkeus’s soul free.”

A Cross to Bear: A Gabriella Cross Paranormal Romance Book 1
All around her, the sounds of baying wolves echoed in the night. Trees slapped her face as she ran, and she tripped more than once. She was crying now and mumbling to herself, terrified. She dared not look back, knowing that the wolves were pursuing her. She came out of the woods into a clearing leading to a tall hill. The howls came from all directions. Shadows flew through the woods in her peripheral vision, and Gabby cried out. She fell again, skinning her knee badly on a jagged rock. In her terrified state, she felt no pain, but continued as fast as she could and ran up the hill.

A snarl came from directly behind her, and she instinctively turned and cried out. A wolf was bearing down on her fast. She turned and raised a hand as the beast leapt at her with gleaming claws leading the way.

“NO!” Gabby cried.

To her amazement, the wolf changed form in mid-flight and turned into a naked man. He landed at her feet on all fours and snarled at her.

“Get away from me!” she screamed.

The naked man backed away from her warily, glancing down at his human hands with a look of confusion and shock. More wolves were coming out of the woods. They stopped when they saw the one who had turned into a human in the light of the full moon.

Gabby wasted no time considering her luck and ran as fast as she could up the hill.

“Gabriella Cross, stop!” Michael’s voice rose up over the howls.

Gabby could hardly see through her tears. She didn’t dare look back, knowing that she would find death closing in on her. She reached the top of the hill and ran across the flat expanse of rocky earth.

“Gabriella!” came the voice again.

The wolves were gaining on her.

She darted between two pines blocking her way, receiving many scrapes on her face and arms. Half blinded by tears and slapping branches, she stumbled out from between the trees and suddenly came to a steep cliff. She tried to stop, but her momentum was too great. With a terrified cry she fell forward over the cliff.

She frantically thrashed her arms as she fell to her death. Above, on the ledge, a mournful wolf cried out. The ground was coming up fast to crush her, and Gabby closed her eyes, not wanting to see her death.

Then. Suddenly. Gabriella was weightless.

Strong arms held her firmly. She opened her eyes to find a winged beast staring back at her.

Gabby passed out.


Friday, November 11, 2016

The Benefits of NaNoWriMo

If you know a writer you probably have heard about November and NaNoWriMo. You may have noticed some frazzled people pecking away at laptops or scribbling in notebooks, circles under their eyes and hair a bit mussed, maybe even a crazed look in their eye. This, friends, is the sign of a NaNo participant.

November is National Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to complete a 50,000 word novel in a month. But, it's also much more than that. It's about establishing a habit, about challenging yourself to pursue your passion. Not everybody can do it. And that's okay.

I've personally participated in NaNo since 2010. I completed the challenge every year but one (2015). It was one of the toughest challenges I've ever undertaken but after several years of competing and almost a dozen completed manuscripts under my belt (I've published eight of them), I was able to leave my jobs and take up life as a freelance writer.

Since May 2016, I have written more than a dozen novels and novellas that have been purchased and published by clients. Most of them have been well over 50,000 words. I've always been a writer, always felt the need to expel my feelings on paper (or the equivalent). NaNo showed me what I really had inside and what I had to do to live the life I want to live.

If you've followed my blogs, any of them, you know that my kids are unbelievably supportive. They even ask me if I've done my writing for the day and chastise me if I haven't. The thing is, I write every day and NaNo has taught me the importance of that more than anything I've read or anyone I've talked to. Everybody under the sun can tell me to write every day, to make writing a habit, but until I experienced the benefits of writing every single day - whether I was up to it or not - became clearest during NaNo.

Take today for instance, I'm nursing a hell of a sinus infection but I still am writing. In fact, I was silly enough to sign on for a 10,000 word day with a few friends of mine. While my body is screaming "stupid, stupid, STUPID," my brain is saying "thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!" Maybe I don't hit 10,000 words today, maybe I do. Either way, I moved closer to my goal of a completed novel and maintaining the practice, or rather the habit, of writing.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

New Year, New Direction

Friends, I've done a lot of soul-searching over the past year. As somebody who tends more toward the "free-spirit" camp, I've always been rather fluid in every aspect of my life. I'm learning that as a single parent in a world that thrives on multi-tasking and double-booking your time, it's not so easy to drift along where the wind takes you. Though it pains me to do so, I'm calling on skills I buried long ago. I'm dusting off my organizational skills - long reserved for things like research papers and real-world jobs - to apply them to my current endeavors.

What would possibly so incredible as to cause ME to fundamentally alter my world view?

Quite simply? My kiddos. I want to be present in their lives. I want to be here to help them through and be that involved parent and cheerleader. No, not a helicopter parent - yuck. I do want to be present. I want to make them meals AND teach them how to cook. I want to be a part of their educations because they both need me to be involved for very different reasons. I want them to be active in their communities and at their ages (10 and 11) that means being available to transport them outside normal school hours.

So, I'm embarking on a new, lofty endeavor that has required a major shift in mindset and time use. I'm going to devote my time to blogging, social media, and freelance writing. I've been freelance writing and offering my services as a social media consult for the past six months or so but I'm looking to expand and build on that foundation. To that end, this here blog that you all so kindly follow, will continue to focus on the finer points of one of my passions - books.

I'm looking to appeal to readers, to discuss a variety of books that I read (or fail to read) and create and open dialogue about what we as readers seek out in books. What draws you in? What keeps you coming back for more? Most importantly, what book should I be reading next??

But that's not all, I'm not JUST a reader. I write. I write A LOT. And I love to help other authors who are just getting started or those who are stalled out and looking for a jump start. Maybe you come along and let me interview you. Maybe you have some questions about where to go next. Or, maybe you have some incredible advice for other authors. Whatever you, as an author, have to offer, I want to hear it!

Sound like something you're into? Let me know - booksbyviolet@gmail.com. I'm booking for early 2017!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Life Balance - when winning a battle means you've lost the war...

With all of our tech tools life should be easier, right? Apps to organize, virtual calendars that allow you to sync with your coworkers, family, and friends, even hands free calling for your car and wifi in almost every public place - we should be the most organized, least stressed people in the world.

But we aren't.

I was giddy when I finally got my workspace in order. After three weeks of dedicated purging, organizing, and reassembling, my house looked amazing. I had to be organized after all, I had a business to start, kids to parent, sports to coach, a job to maintain, a house to maintain, bills to pay - and that's when I realized that my organized house did little to organize my life.

I'd walk you through a typical day but does it matter? Many of you probably have similar situations. Too much to do, too little time. And nothing works with anything else because that would be silly.

Why would Maddox's school musical - that he has to attend - NOT be on the one night of the week that Autumn has softball practice? Because that would be crazy.

It's the same for most parents, methinks. But for us single parents, it's an extra special challenge. We can't splice ourselves and our former other half may not be able - or willing - to be there. Then one parent is left to be two parents. But what happens when you can't be in two places at once?

I keep hearing "kids are resilient." You would not believe how many times I've heard that. People trying to make me feel better about not being able to do everything. I appreciate that said people care enough about me to want to make me feel better, but it doesn't. I still see the disappointment in my kids' faces when I can't do something, when I have to choose to go with one instead of the other. I give them reasons but they don't see the time I spend agonizing over the decision before I even tell them.

But I try to be everywhere, I try to make it work. I've switched jobs and continue to work toward financial stability WITH flexible times so I can be Mom and still support us. I feel like I'm not doing a very good job of either. This is where I realized that I've won the battle of organization - seriously, you should see our "family command center" and my work area is insanely organized if you ignore my smattering of toys and trinkets from the kids - but I'm still losing the war as my life balance is woefully out of whack.

I rarely take time for myself - because I can't afford to in any way, shape, or form. I look at my life and see that I always come last. Kids first, then work and by the time that's all done I've got nothing left. All the while I worry about making ends meet so I find a way to write just one more article because that $5-$15 will help. I have to write a lot of words to make enough to support my family and that takes time. But, I can write at 2am when it's quiet, homework is done, practices are complete, musicals have been attended, laundry and dishes are done and the only thing I missing out on is sleep. Who cares if I'm not sleeping? Exercise? How can I justify walking for half an hour when that means another $30 or so in articles or blog posts? If I have to choose, I choose the money because that's what you do when you're in debt and trying to pay for a place you really can't afford (so your kids can stay in a school system that really works for them) and their activities and supplies and clothes (so they don't feel the impact of how poor you really are). Meanwhile my life is passing by at a startling pace as I approach my 38th birthday and realize that I'm almost 40.  I keep promising myself that I'll take time for me, that I'll get to the point where I can do something simple like curl up in a chair and read for as long as I like with no regrets.

I'm just not there yet.

In the meantime, I'll load up the coffee pot (brew set to extra strength) with Deathwish Coffee, don my ill-fitting mom clothes, and trudge through this battlefield. Maybe if I can win one more battle it will turn the tide of the war.

Who's with me?

Friday, February 5, 2016

In search of:

Hey authors! Anybody looking for a little extra promo? I'm looking for authors to interview for this here little blog of mine. Know somebody awesome who fits the bill? Somebody who needs a little more face time??

Contact me at booksbyviolet@gmail.com for interview questions!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

New book review feature!

In sticking with one of my New Years resolutions, I've been working to be more consistent with my blogs. Part of that is a new venture with my daughter on our family blog - Kharmic Chaos - where we review books as we read them. We are always looking for new books to read so send them our way at kharmicchaos@gmail.com! Stop by and check us out!!

Oh, and who wants to join me for this year's book challenge on Goodreads? My goal is 200 books this year, what's yours??