Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Renovating the RITA


If you’re a member of the Romance Writers of America, you’ve probably heard about the controversy surrounding the RITA Award. The lack of representation of minorities and LGBTQ authors and stories has been a problem for years. Now it seems that RWA’s leadership is making the move to institute some much-needed changes in the judging procedures, and “other issues in the contest.” They are currently looking for input from their membership.

Here’s what I think: If we’re going to do a proper remodel, then we need to gut the kitchen to the studs. Yes, inclusiveness of marginalized groups is without a doubt our top priority. I’m one hundred percent behind that mission, and have stated so to the board.

But there’s another issue I’d love to see resolved, and that is the lumping of Sci-fi Romance, Fantasy Romance, etc. under the Paranormal category umbrella.

SFR is not Paranormal. Fantasy Romance is not Paranormal. These genres have different readerships, and very little cross over. A reader who digs werewolves and vampires isn’t very likely to pick up a book about aliens in space…unless those aliens happen to be werewolf or vampire aliens.

So why is SFR and Fantasy still being tossed into an arena where there’s next to no traction for them? And shouldn’t PNR books be judged against other PNR, especially in their own category?

Recently, another SFR author and I got our heads together and drafted a letter to the RWA. We decided to make a template available to other PNR, SFR, Fantasy, UF, etc. authors who are members of RWA and in favor of this change. You are welcome to copy and paste this letter in whole or in part, make any changes to reflect your own thoughts and ideas on how to proceed, and send it to the RWA board as soon as possible.

Now is the time speak up on any issues you’d like to see changed with the RITA Awards. We hope by posting this letter, you are inspired to also speak out, because the board is listening now.

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Dear RWA,

I whole-heartedly support changes within the RWA RITA Awards that will level the playing field for authors and characters of color and LGBTQ+ authors and characters. In addition to that, since RWA is looking at a revamp of the entire awards program, I suggest an additional change to make the competition fairer for ALL authors.

In my humble opinion, RWA has an overall challenge with diversity. For many years, as a science fiction romance author, I've felt I was an outlier within the organization. From my perspective, RWA seems to view its membership in three groups--those who write Contemporary Romance, those who write Historical Romance, and those who write "Everything Else." In discussions with my peers, the consensus is that we "EE" authors would also like to receive more equal representation within the organization.

Please consider the structure of the RITA Awards Paranormal category. While Contemporary has three distinct categories based on length, and Historical Romance has two, the Paranormal category is a “conglomerate” of many different subgenres. This category forces paranormal romance, fantasy romance, and science fiction romance (et al) authors to compete against each other in a category that covers a very broad spectrum, with very little cross-over readership between them.

Splitting this enormous generic category into smaller, more subgenre-friendly categories will encourage a greater number of authors to submit knowing their books will be judged against similar works. This would help level the playing field for “EE” authors of diverse romance subgenres. 

I'm aware this situation has been broached with RWA by many members over several years, and the answer from RWA has always been that there aren't enough entries to support a divided category. Please reconsider this in comparison to the number of entries received for other small categories, such as Religious/Spiritual Elements and Young Adult. To my knowledge, the conglomerate Paranormal category has always received substantially more entries.

Since the overall structure of the RITA is being examined, I propose breaking the Paranormal category into three distinct subcategories:

·        Fantasy Romance (e.g. sorcerers, wizards, faeries, elves, fantasy world building, etc.) 
·        Paranormal Romance (e.g. vampires, werewolves, witches, ghosts, angels, demons, mermaids, shapeshifters, etc.) 
·        Science Fiction Romance (e.g. aliens, space opera, steampunk, futuristic, time travel, dystopian elements, etc.)

And then, if there aren't enough entries to justify one of these as an individual category, combine it with the most appropriate alternate division.

Thank you for your careful attention and consideration of this matter, which affects a large number of "EE" authors within your membership.

Sincerely,



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USA Today Bestselling Author, Lea Kirk, loves to transport her readers to other worlds with her sci-fi romances. When she’s not busy writing about the blue and green aliens of her Prophecy series, she’s hanging out with her hubby, five kids (the nerd herd), and spoiled Dobie mix puppy.

She is currently working on two short stories and the fourth book in her series.






Monday, April 29, 2019

Candlelit Magic by @WendiZwaduk #witches #magic #pnr #romance #mf #paranormalromance

It's time for some magic. Come check out Candlelit Magic. There are witches, kitties and a date for a wedding.


Candlelit Magic by Wendi Zwaduk 

Part of the Wanton Witches Collection
Total-E-Bound Publishing
Contemporary, Paranormal, M/F, Anal Sex
Novella

Even love witches get the blues.

Havan’s magical potions bring couples together and give them the happily ever after of their dreams. Too bad her spells don’t work for her. In Erie View, the townspeople see nothing more than a witch. All she wants is to find that special man to embrace her quirks and love her. Will she be able to accept the blessings of the Goddesses or lose faith in herself?

Neil doesn’t believe in magic. It’s trickery for television and movies. No one creates a spell for people to fall in love. Hell, he doesn’t even believe in love. After a string of crappy dates and dead-end romances, he’s through with relationships. But a chance meeting at the grocery store changes his mind. Havan’s nothing like he expects—but is the blue haired witch enough to make him give romance another shot?

Available here:


Universal Link:           https://books2read.com/u/mg2RYD

EXCERPT:

“I wanted to thank you in person for the candle. It’s very pretty.” He snapped his lips shut. Damn it. He sounded stupid. “I don’t know what I’ll use it for, but they make the house smell nice.” Shit.
She stared at him, but didn’t say anything.
“I suck at small talk.” And apparently trying to sound smooth in front of beautiful women. “What”—Neil picked up a tiny bottle filled with amber liquid—“exactly do you do here? And what is this?”
“I’m a witch.”
Matter-of-fact, no inflection in her voice. Factual and blunt. What would it take to make her smile? Blush? Call out his name when he pumped into her pussy? Oh shit, he needed to get his thoughts away from sex.
He paused a moment to make sure that he’d heard her right. “A witch?”
“Yes, and I make the potions the people in town rave about. I’m not Madame Scarlett and neither is Cian. I thought everyone in town knew, but hey, you might not have. She’s just the name I picked out when my Aunt Siobhan turned the store over to me. Cian likes red, so her hair is red and she lets everyone think she’s Madame.” Havan folded her hands on the glass display case. “I heard you say you wanted something for your sister. I remember her, vaguely. Her then boyfriend came in looking for a love potion. I gave him one and it seems to have worked.”
“Kasen?” The guy had used a love potion? He knew the general story, but to hear Melissa talk, it was love at first sight. The spell or potion or whatever came a lot later.
“Sounds right.” Havan shrugged. “They got what they wanted.”
Well, what do you know? Neil pointed to the bottle with the amber stuff inside. “This? Is this what they used?” He needed to keep her talking.
“Yes.” She wore two rings per hand, each ring set with a huge stone—one in red and one in black. “This one will get you a date and this one will get you forever.” She tapped the top of a black bottle. “Cian claims we have potions for revenge and greed, but they don’t work.”
“Why not?” He picked up one of the black bottles. “If I cast a spell for a negative reason, then that negativity will come back to me threefold. It sucks.” She tucked a lock of darker blue hair behind her ear. A selection of hoop earrings dangled from her ear, starting at the top and following down to her earlobe. “I learnt my lesson a long time ago. Don’t cast what you can’t handle.” For the first time since he’d seen her, she smiled and laughed. “You will totally regret it.”
“I hear you.” Neil gripped the bottle. The more she talked, the more he wanted to listen to her. His cock pushed against his pants and he mashed the bulge into the front of the display case to ease his ache. “My sister already fell in love, so she doesn’t need this. Think it’ll help me?”
Havan sighed. “It will, but you have to accept whoever is chosen. What you want might not be what you get, but she will be the one your heart truly desires.”
Her words stopped him cold. She wasn’t a thing like he expected and she sure as shit wasn’t his type and yet he couldn’t help but want to see her. “I’ll take it and whatever it was your friend went upstairs to find.”
“Oh. Okay.” Havan wrote up the bill on a receipt pad. “Give her a moment.”
“I will.” Neil clutched the bottle tighter. A witch. No wonder the people around town talked ill of Madame Scarlett’s. No one knew what the hell they were dealing with. But Havan didn’t strike him as a witch. No green skin or huge warts. Maybe he’d been watching too much television. The bracelets on her wrist jangled as she wrote.
“I know my sister was being forward, but I’ve got a question.” He wanted to see her again. Had to. “Would you accompany me to my sister’s wedding?”
“What?” Her eyes widened again, displaying the ring of dark blue surrounding her pupils. The lighter blue flecks sparkled. Would she look at him that way during sex? He hoped so. Hoped she’d give him a chance, too.
“Well, you brought them together.” Stupid, stupid. He took one of the business cards and flipped it over, then wrote his phone number and the date of the wedding. “My name is Neil and I know this is a shitty way to ask you out, but I really am drawn to you.” He slid the card to her. “No strings, but if you’d like to go with me, I’d love to see you.”
@Copyright Wendi Zwaduk 2013

Sunday, April 28, 2019

What comes next? from Barbara Edwards

The bet part of writing is when a new idea sparks your next book. Happily, I had this moment this week. After writing the first book in the Deerbourne Series, By Reservation Only, I knew I’d have to write another story.

I don’t have a title but I do have two ghosts who didn’t find happiness in life. So how do I resolve this? Well, that’s what I need to discover. I have a man and woman who haven’t recognized how important their attraction will become.  
So check out the first book.


Excerpt from ‘By Reservation Only”


Since the inn was quiet, she pulled on a long t-shirt and opened the door. Her heart fluttered. She was disappointed Nate wasn’t waiting for her in the dark passage. She blew out a frustrated breath and opened one of the bedroom windows to let the fresh breeze blow in. A whip-poor-will called from the hill.
The comfortable bed beckoned her. Flowery potpourri scented the bedroom air. She lay on top of the handmade quilt and stared at the ceiling. Sleep eluded her. She lost count of the times she turned over, punched the pillow, yawned.
An owl hooted from the nearby woods. The call of the whip-poor-will sounded closer. The curtain flapped and the scent of smoke tainted the air. Her watch claimed it was only twelve thirty, not nearing dawn. She swore and rolled over again.
Someone knocked on Nate’s door and called his name. Emily pulled on her pants and sneakers before she opened her door.
“What’s happening?” Her pulse raced. Smoke, she smelled smoke.




Saturday, April 27, 2019

My State Monsters by L. A. Kelley


My State Monsters

Florida is my state and I’ll be the first to admit it’s weird. If we’re not ducking natural disasters like hurricanes, zika virus, and sinkholes that can swallow a town, were dealing with more than our share of monsters. Despite theories that they prefer dark, shadowy corners, several of them seem to have settled happily in the Sunshine State. 

Myakka Skunk Ape
The Skunk Ape is our version of Bigfoot. It was first spotted by an unnamed Sarasota woman back in the 1960s who sent the county sheriff’s department photographs of what she thought was an orangutan in her back yard. It appeared on three consecutive nights at her house near the Myakka River, eating apples from her back porch. It smelled awful, hence the name. In 2013, another Floridian took a fuzzy 1:55 minute video on his iPhone of the Skunk Ape in the Myakka River State Park.

Although Florida wildlife officials deny the existence of the skunk ape, it’s obviously a government conspiracy, as sightings have been reported over the years, with the beast showing up in the day and at night, in all sorts of environments. It appears to favor swampy areas, usually where the consumption of beer is involved. No way does it look like a guy in a monkey suit.

Much like Bigfoot, the evidence collected over time consists of photos, hair samples, and a few foot casts. The Skunk Ape has four toes unlike Bigfoot, which has five. A website devoted to the creature, The Florida Skunk Ape, receives several reports of sightings each week, and spikes during football season when Florida Gator fans hold tailgate parties.

Butt Spider
The Butt Spider is a crafty arachnoid who lurks under toilet seats and crawls out to bite your butt. Why? No one knows. Again, it’s suspected beer is involved. Fortunately, there are no pictures.

Muck Monster
The Muck Monster inhabits Lake Worth. It’s reported to be shy and earned the name “the elusive muck monster” diving to the bottom of the lake when strangers get within ten feet, leaving only deep ripples in its wake and empty beer cans bobbing to the surface. No way does it look like a bunch of junk, a gator, or a manatee's flipper  in the water, unless you’re sober. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4fNcZ-pMEw

The Devil’s Chair
Cassadaga is a small unincorporated hamlet in Volusia County. Called the Psychic Capital of the World for the large number of psychic and medium inhabitants, it also has the Devil’s Chair. Located in a cemetery, the Devil’s Chair is a wide brick bench. Legend states it was built by the devil and each night at midnight, he kicks back and puts his feet up. (Probably with a cold beer.) Rumor says if you sit on it, he whispers evil ideas and you’re forever haunted by the experience. If you leave a full can of beer on the chair (unopened) and return the next morning, the can will be empty and still unopened.

L. A. Kelley writes scify and fantasy adventures with humor, romance, and a touch of sass. She is proud of her official designation as a state monster.



Thursday, April 25, 2019

Take A Hike! by Nancy Gideon


Another holiday weekend with table groaning under the weight of awesome food. Not that I’m complaining about that 11-lb brown sugar ham I baked (and the month of ham sliders it will provide!) or the decadent designer cupcakes from our local Bake ‘n Cakes and bags of Eastro naughtiness wrapped in foil the cats will be chasing under the furniture for the next two years, because this year we were additionally blessed with fabulous weather – 70-degree loveliness that coaxed us out onto the sidewalk with our senior dog to tour the neighborhood in the long and enjoyable walk that settled the meal and made for a more uplifting (and comfortable) remainder of the day. My Fitbit thought it had been stolen!

At my new job, I put in mega-daily miles running up and down stairs and from front to back of our huge office for copies and scanning. Exhausting but surprisingly also invigorating to get that desk chair butt up and moving multiple times an hour. The benefits of this short hike (or rather frantic sprint most of the time) you might ask, one butt-in-chair writer/office assistant to another? Let me tell you . . .

Here are some ways to squeeze more active moments into a busy day – painlessly (c/o Fitbit blog):
  1. Use the bathroom on the other side of the building or on a different floor.
  2. Park farther away from the door.
  3. Take stairs instead of elevator or escalator (easy in our office since the ancient elevator is a death trap!)
  4. Take a brisk bike in addition/instead of a hike to enjoy that spring weather.
  5. Think of your purse or bags as dumbbells and work those biceps as you walk (your Fitbit will love you for it!).
  6. Walk and talk (think West Wing!). My boss does all her conference calls pacing her office space (and she has great calves, btw!).
  7. Listen to an audio book as you book around the neighborhood! (My first published book, SWEET TEMPEST, a Regency-set historical w/a Lauren Giddings, has been reissued on audio! Just saying . . .).
And here are some of the benefits:
  1. Positive brain changes to reduce stress, prevent early dementia and provide low-impact aerobic exercise!
  2. Improves eyesight (and what computer-screen dependent writer doesn’t need that!?) by relieving eye pressure (and may even fight glaucoma!)
  3. Helps prevent heart diseases or stroke by lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol and improving blood circulation!
  4. Increases lung capacity and oxygen flow (and helps with bodily eliminations – bonus!)
  5. Oh, my pancreas! Walking more effective in combating diabetes than running!
  6. Digest this – 30 minutes of walking could not only lower the risk of colon cancer but improves digestion and constipation.
  7. Toned muscles and strong bones. 10,000 daily steps a day counts as a work out in a gym and is low-impact. No sore muscles and reduces pain in joints and inflammation as well as back relief due to increased blood circulation within the spine.
  8. Calms the mind. Enough said there!
To increase the heart rate even more, I’ve got two deals through the end of the month under two different pen names/genres. Both titles feature walks in nature that didn’t exactly end well – but certainly got the cardio going!!



Having fought to meet his upscale family’s expectations, working class city girl Bethany follows her absent husband into the wilderness where a leaky tent, a surly dog and a dangerous situation prove how far she’ll go to keep him. Just $.99!! 



A myth-buster struggling with the nightmares of her past and a hunter tracking an ancient vampire for the government – She doesn’t believe in monsters, he doesn’t trust in fate. Both are about to face death. Just $.99!!

Run, don’t walk to grab up these deals!

Happy Spring reading. And take a hike!

♚♚♚♚♚
Nancy Gideon on the Web


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Rookie | A New Release from Abigail Owen


Hey Paranormal Romantics!!! I am so excited to share a new book with you. The Rookie is book #2 in my Fire's Edge series featuring dragon shifter enforcers. Check out the excerpt and info below. This book does standalone with its own HEA. But feel free to check out the FREE prequel, The Mate, and book #1, The Boss, as well. :)

THE ROOKIE

FIRE'S EDGE #2
Playing with dragons with only get you burned.
TheRookie-revise
    
To escape exile, Aidan Paytah has had to prove himself worthy. Every second of every damn day. He fought with everything he had to earn his precarious place on the Hurac├ín team of dragon shifter enforcers. He can’t fail or afford distractions, no matter how temptingly sweet. Total loyalty to the clans and dedication to his team is the only way.

Sera Morrison lost her parents and her husband in short order, leaving her a single mother running her family winery alone. Nothing could ever have prepared her for the discovery that she’s a destined dragon mate. But once she finds out, there’s only one man she wants—the one who walks away.

However, the Alliance Council has its own agenda. They want to use her as a political pawn and force a mating that could ultimately kill her to save the High King. Aidan has no choice but to kidnap her, even if it means their close proximity reinforces their own mating bond. And mating with him could end up being a far worse fate for Sera...

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Dead Mail by Francesca Quarto

There's no turning back, not now, not ever.  My training kicked in, as this mantra  pounded through my head, jarring me as badly as the impact of my boots on the hard-packed dirt. I'd already come more than half-way and if the pack of feral dogs, hadn't stopped me, what waited at the end of this road was just another pain in the ass to me.
It didn't start out to be this race against time.  I thought I had plenty of that, when I picked up the heavy duffel bag at three this morning.  It was so dark, I had to use my flashlight to locate the stuffed, canvas bag.  I hated wasting the battery on the search, but I took the opportunity to count how many I had left.  Three.  Only three and my work here would be done!
The building was as quiet as a tomb as the saying goes.  Never was one for using quaint euphemisms.  Thought my command of the language was sufficient to describe something.  But, then again, how do you describe the end of the world?  How can you draw a verbal picture of the demise of civilization?
Yeah, well, that's why I'm doing what I do.  To restore even this small bit of a lost society.  What else can I do in this god-forsaken place. 
The people died in their millions around the globe, some from the all-out insanity of men with itchy fingers, sending nukes sailing off like fallen heroes to Valhalla. The aftermath was probably worse than the explosive concussions the planet took when those speeding crematoriums smacked into Mother Earth.  The poison rains, the permanent winter, a breakdown in all civilized behavior and so on and so on...into plagues, starvation and the loss of hope, in a world suffocating under a radioactive dust cloud.
I woke up from my month-long hibernation, jolted awake when the life-support system shut down. This was to be a test of my ability to sleep in this state, during long journeys to far off planets.  Instead,  I found myself  reborn into the last chapter of this hellish world, fully expecting to find family, friends, colleagues. The bunker-lab was void of all, save me, in my hermetically sealed chamber.
I took the designated elevator to the surface, counting the floors slipping by, until I reached the egress point, one and a half miles later.  When I stepped through the camouflaged exit, I thought it must be midnight.  The world around me looked shattered under the stark glow of my halogen flashlight. The heavy growth ,old forest surrounding the lab, was reduced to charred sticks.  The mountain I was standing on, was devoid of vegetation and I supposed, any life.
I eventually made my way down that dead pile of rock and wandered for months through towns and neighborhoods, empty of any people, living off canned goods I found in cupboards and drinking any bottled water I could scrounge. 
That's when I found the old Post Office in what was once a  thriving city outside of Phoenix.  That's also when I began this, my last career in life, my last profession.  Mail Carrier.
Why not?  It gave me something to do and a purpose in life, what was left of it.  I dedicated my days to studying maps and locating addresses in the surrounding areas.  The pledge of mail carriers, back to the Pony Express Riders, was to overcome all elements and impediments and deliver the mail!  
When I was sufficiently schooled in the layout of the town, I took up my first canvas bag, proud of the US Mail logo emblazoned on the front. It took me a long month to find all the homes and businesses before I emptied that bag. And now, here I am, nearly two years later and there are only three bags to go.  I figure when I finish here, I'll move to the next big town and continue my work as a mailman.  I can't allow this civilized communication lapse. It's the last form of human contact I have, in all this bleak world.  
As a trusted servant of the government, my mail will be delivered and not be consigned to the Dead Mail containers like the people who sent them.
Now to face what lies in wait down this road. From here, they seem to be standing on two legs.  Zoo apes perhaps?



Monday, April 22, 2019

SONG OF THE NILE New Paranormal Romance Release from Veronica Scott


It’s been a while since I was here to talk about ancient Egypt instead of scifi romance! Thanks for having me as your guest once more to share an excerpt from Song of the Nile!

I generally try to write one Egyptian paranormal romance novel per year but 2018 got too and before I knew it we were here in 2019 and I was determined not to lose any more time. (I did release quite a few scifi romances in that time though.)

I’ve been fascinated by ancient Egypt since I was in elementary school and read Mara, Daughter of the Nile, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. At the time it was quite a revelation to me that an author could write a novel set thousands of years ago and make the vanished world so vivid and the people so real. I of course wanted more romance and more magic, which is why I make sure to have the gods directly involved in the plots of my own books.

In 2018 I was able to view the current traveling collection of selected pieces from King Tutankhamun’s tomb and as he lived about 200 years after the time where my novels are set, it was very inspiring. I’ll share some of my photos from the collection here.


The blurb:
Merneith, a harpist of rare talents, blessed by the goddess Hathor, has recently arrived in Thebes and joined Pharaoh’s court, but must hide secrets from her past. As she settles into her new life in the palace, the one man she can’t forget and followed to Thebes is unaccountably absent.

Nikare, a Medjai police officer serving under Pharaoh’s direct orders, is now deep undercover investigating high crimes against Egypt and forbidden to contact Merneith. Masquerading as a priest to deceive the plotters, he watches over her from afar and longs for the day he can approach her openly.
When an unscrupulous noble ensnares Merneith in the web of evil Nikare is pledged to bring down, the two must stand together against earthly and magical forces to save their own lives and protect Egypt.

How much help will the gods provide? Will the pair survive the final showdown between Pharaoh and the conspirators and find the happy future together they desire?

This is a standalone novel but is also a direct sequel to Lady of the Nile, which is where Merneith and Nikare were first encountered as supporting characters. Now they move front and center in the fight to protect Egypt from a new threat. Mild spoilers for Lady of the Nile.


The excerpt: Merneith meets another harpist who’s been assigned to mentor her in her first days at the palace:
“I’m to be your guiding light for your first month with us. I’ll tell you everything and, if I don’t, be sure to ask.” She sat on the bed and tilted her head, pointing at the clothing lying on top of the baskets. “Quite the wardrobe for a girl from a remote village.”

Blushing, Merneith hastily folded the fine linen sheath she’d been examining, admiring the exquisite embroidery at the hem, which was a pattern of lotus flowers and birds, and stuffed it hastily in the basket. Smoothing down the plain dress she was wearing, she said, “It was a gift. I’ll probably won’t need such fancy garb.”

“Yes, you will, I guarantee it. Musicians at the palace—especially those who are young and comely—receive many invitations.” Isetemkheb fluffed the braids on her wig and winked. Her makeup was intricate and bold, and her demeanor made it clear she spoke from experience.

“From who?” Merneith quailed at yet another complication in her new life. Couldn’t she simply play music and be allowed to enjoy using her talents? She sighed.

“Nobles, army officers, priests…any man who enjoys music and those who make it.” Now the woman examined her short fingernails, frowning, and studied a large gold and turquoise scarab ring on the same hand. “They can be most generous as well.”

“I—really—I’m just here to play the harp, learn new songs, earn my room and board.” A wave of vertigo swept over Merneith as she wondered what kind of life she’d fallen into.

“You have a man already? Back home perhaps?” Isetemkheb’s eyes narrowed and her expression sharpened. “A noble sponsor who helped bring you to the queen’s attention?”

Surprised by the questions, Merneith blinked. “No.” Anxious to put a stop to the direction the conversation was taking, she said, “I’m to go to the supply room and get wax for the harp I was assigned. New strings too. If you don’t mind showing me where the room might be.”

The other woman waved a hand. “Plenty of time for the drudgery of routine tasks. You’re going to need fittings for your performance dress as well. Luckily, Pharaoh and the queen don’t stint when it comes to what we wear.” She studied Merneith, as if measuring her for the aforementioned dress. "Is it true the Great Royal Wife herself appointed you to our group?”

“I came highly recommended.” Merneith made her answer short. The series of guesses and inquiries was becoming annoying and too inquisitive.

Isetemkheb’s eyes widened, disrupting the smooth flow of the malachite framing them on her lovely face. “Ooh, tell me more, because how does someone from a rural province even come to the attention of the Great Ones in Thebes?”

“Hathor blessed me. And I can’t discuss it beyond her generosity.” Merneith walked toward the door. “Can we go to the storage rooms now? I need to get my harp serviceable so I can practice properly before the Master calls on me to participate actively in rehearsals.”

As she’d hoped, the other harpist rose from the bed and followed her into the corridor. “Well, welcome to the troupe in any case. I rather like the fact you embody so many mysteries. It’ll be quite interesting to watch your career with us.”

VS Note: and of course Merneith isn’t going to tell her nosy new friend about Nikare, the Medjai police officer she really longs to see again…

Buy Links: Amazon     Apple Books     Nook     Kobo     Google


Author Bio and Links:
USA Today Best Selling Author
 Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.
Seven time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances!
 She read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the official audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”



Thursday, April 18, 2019

Fiction Reviews: What They Are, How to Write Them by Elizabeth Alsobrooks


Unless it’s a book about politics, a book review is not the place to grind your political agenda and convert the world to whatever your current persuasion or social opinion might be. If that’s what you want to write about, you’re not really reviewing a book, you are either attacking a person, the author, a group of people who don’t’ think as you do, or preaching, in which case it’s all about you and still has little to do with the actual book. Readers know what news channel to turn to in order to hear their opinions echoed back at them, and it’s a shame that some reviewers think in a political shaming environment book reviews is just another venue for spreading their own hatred.

What a book review should be is a brief description of the plot in order to gain the reader’s attention, and then the reviewer’s opinion of the story and its elements.  Remember that reviews are an opinion, but one that should be explained. Following is a brief explanation of how a good review is constructed.


Intro


Readers don’t need an opinion of a book that doesn’t interest them, so the first thing you should do is offer a short description without spoilers. Think back of book kind of info, so the reader knows if it’s the sort of book they enjoy reading in general. But keep this even shorter than the blurb. Too many reviews bore readers with long, drawn out explanations of every single character and what amounts to a plot outline. If you tell too much about the story, why do they need to bother reading it themselves? They’re not looking for Cliff Notes, they just want a recommendation.

Pick Up or Forget

Next, let the reader know right away if it’s a thumb’s up or down. You can have a catchy first sentence that uses words that urge the reader to get the book or forget it before you even go into the intro. Use it as your hook. You will explain why later. Amazon demonstrates this by not letting you post a review without posting a catch-their-attention opening line.

Your Opinion

Remember that this is just your opinion, and everyone has one. Be as clear and concise as you can. What worked and/or what didn’t? This includes characters, events (without spoilers, using things like, what such-and-such did seemed out of character, or the middle sagged and you skipped entire pages, etc.).

Ratings

Use ratings, such as stars or scales. Almost all online reviewing opportunities provide you with a rating system. This helps readers immediately understand your overall opinion (so don’t give a glowing review and pair it with a mediocre rating, which only confuses readers). Most readers already know what a five star review is and how it works, but if you use some unique rating system, be sure to explain how it works.


Read Examples

Just like anything else, if you want to learn how it’s done, look at an example. Writers are avid readers for a reason.  Read reviews and see how they are constructed. Examine one you like and deconstruct it by asking yourself questions such as:  How did they begin? How did they let me know if they liked and recommend it or whether I should give it a pass? What examples did they use? Did they explain their opinions without using spoilers? How did they do that? Some of the best reviewers, the most followed bloggers, do this extremely well. Not only do they have followers who like to read what they are reviewing, but those who like their reviewing style and voice. Find your own voice, but include some of the same elements in your own reviews, whether it’s great quotes, humor, or a friendly almost conversational tone. Find what works for you.


Pros and Cons

What was it grandma used to say? “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.” Well, that doesn’t always work when writing a review. However, you really can find something good to say about a book. So even though you are giving your opinion, remember to be kind and review the work, not the writer. Even if you’re a psychologist, it’s not your place to critique the person. You don’t even know them. Remember, even the worst books have some element that is praise worthy, whether it’s a great character, a heartfelt theme, or a smooth narration. Don’t be rude. If you think a book is boring, don’t say that. Explain why it didn’t hold your attention. Be mindful. Many reviewers simply refuse to review books they can’t at least give three stars to, as they aren’t trying to ruin anyone’s livelihood, just recommend good reads. If it’s at least three stars, they can give an overview, their opinions and let readers decide for themselves—which they will ultimately do. Whatever you include, include an explanation. Tell the reader why you thought something was good or bad. They need to understand your point in order to help them decide for themselves. If you recommend a book, don’t forget to include who you would recommend it to. What kind of reader will enjoy the book? That’s part of being thorough.

Edit

Just like any other writer, you have to reread, edit and proofread your writing. Your opinion will carry more weight if your reader perceives you as professional.

So now you know how to thank your favorite authors and aid fellow readers in choosing a good book, or avoiding one they may not enjoy as much as others. Write a review and become the next great blogger, or just share your love of reading with a short, well-constructed critique.