Review Excerpts

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Forging Ahead Into the New Year

Happy New Year! Okay, I'm a couple weeks behind. I'll be honest - while I do love the holiday season and it's one of my favorite times of the year, part of me is really glad to be settling back into our usual routine. I was a creature of habit even before having kids, and now I have two little people who benefit from having structure. So even though it was great being around friends and family, celebrating and doing other fun stuff, I'm not terribly disappointed that it's all over.

With that return to normalcy comes a new burst of writing energy! I've noticed this for a couple years now. Something about the new year gives me the push I need and I get a lot done in the early months. I wish I could bottle up whatever it is and whip it out in, say, August, but I'll take what I can get. Who knows, maybe the darker, colder months just lend themselves to better writing when there's little else to do.

I'm moving right along on Seductive Suspect. The chapters are getting longer; I plan to finish one this week, and then I only have two more, plus an epilogue. I'm on track for my estimated word count, and I have very firm plans for the final chapters/epilogue. When I started this book, I had a pretty comprehensive outline for a change, but there were still some blanks that needed filling in, and I struggled there a few times. For where I am right now and one point near the climax, there's a couple minor little details I need to work out, but I think/hope it'll be smooth sailing until the end.

I'm all about realistic deadlines. Knowing real life can get in the way, I *think* I can be done with this and ready to submit by the end of February. I have a few weeks of wiggle room, but I NEED to be done by mid-March. Why, you ask? Some major life event? An exotic vacation? Vanishing in a glamorous poof of mystery?

Nope. Mass Effect: Andromeda comes out then. I pre-ordered it a while ago, and since I'll only be able to play in the evenings once I have it, I anticipate it's going to take me a loooooooooong time to get through it. As they say in the games before the final quests, I'd better wrap up any unfinished business before then, since I'll be disappearing off the face of the earth for a while. ;)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Happy Holidays!

I got to check a lot of things off my to-do list today, so I figured I might as well add blogging. Like many other people at this time of year, I've been chugging along non-stop lately. Being sick all last week (as in, barely able to get out of bed) and then some unexpected car trouble set me back a bit, but I'm back on schedule and just about ready for this Christmas weekend. (Somehow I wound up with an expected houseful of people on Christmas Eve. I'll start cooking and cleaning tomorrow.)

I'll be honest, this year it was kind of tough to get into the holiday spirit. Aside from the illness and being crazy busy, I was just kind of bummed out for a while. The current political climate worries me, and it's difficult not to become anxious about the future. While my immediate family doesn't have any major complaints about anything, other people close to me were going through some tough stuff, and it was hard to sit by and not really do anything useful. And though we didn't have any super serious issues going on in the House of Landen, it was hard to muster up the energy to do things like wrap the Christmas presents.

I did my best to try to combat these blah feelings. I made some charitable donations, was generous with my planned gifts, and opened my house to people who otherwise wouldn't have a place to go for the holidays. I'm not going to say any of that was a magic cure, because it wasn't. But it helped a little, and those little bits eventually add up.

It should come as no great shock that writing has taken a backseat to other stuff for a while. I haven't touched my WIP in around two weeks (I think; hopefully not too much longer), but I know I'll always get back to it. I don't know if I'm firmly on the "2016 was the worst year ever!" bandwagon, but no matter what, I think most people go into the new year with the optimism that it'll be better than the last.

So here's to a fantastic 2017, and lots of future good things...and good writing! See you next year!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Promo - Dressing Lily, by Siobhan Shannon

The weather's finally getting colder here, so for a change of pace, let's heat things up with a lesbian romance! I'm hosting Siobhan Shannon today, who's super excited to be promoting her new book. Let's take a look!

If life is a game, Olivia Lyons wishes someone would let her in on the rules. From picking the wrong sweetheart to telling the wrong secrets, she just can’t seem to win. But then she falls in love, and her world seems brighter. However, when her romance is discovered, her father sends Olivia to live with her mother in New Orleans.

Broken hearted, Olivia starts her life over, working for Claude DeCloux, who owns a jazz club. There, she meets the infamous Lily LaRue, Queen of Burlesque and learns more about herself and the world she lives in than she believes possible. Lilly, however, is very possessive, tangling Olivia in a web of exhibition and money that seems impossible to escape. Can she break free and find her way back to the only woman who’s ever truly owned her heart?

I didn’t set out to deliberately ruin my life. I don’t guess anyone does, and then when the walls come crashing down, it’s just so . . . surprising. One day you wake up and nothing looks the same anymore and the next, people are asking you why you’re destroying their lives. I don’t know. I woke up on one of those desperately close mornings in July when the air feels like a blanket and nothing was the same any more. I didn’t even like my coffee the same way anymore. It might have been meeting Daisy Bledsoe. Or it could have been a virus, God only knows. All I can tell you is that on that morning, everything changed.

She wasn’t the prettiest girl I ever saw. She was tall and weathered and snaggle-toothed, but when she smiled her face lit up and you couldn’t resist smiling too. She certainly wasn’t the smartest girl I ever met, either. There were times I wanted to pull my hair out over the things she did. But on that July morning, she mesmerized me, and before I knew it I was making decisions that snowballed into a freight train that could have ruined my life. Strange but true, I think I’d do it all over again.

I must have been about twenty when Pa sent me to Tom Harmon’s place to see if he had a fuel pump for our old tractor. I had never been out to Harmon’s before and missed my turn. I came down a road that just kept getting narrower until I had no choice but to go forward. I found myself on a grass track that petered out among dead machines and rusting farm implements in front of her house. I finally found a place where I could turn around, but that was when I met Daisy.

It was hot and I had the windows down. I came round a bend and a big black dog decided I didn’t belong there. He jumped up at the window of Pa’s truck raising hell. All I could do is hit the brakes and lean away.

“Max!” I heard a voice like a sack of gravel shout, “Come heah.” Max shut up and left the side of my truck, making me happy. One look at her, and I knew I was lost.

“Can I help you?”

“I believe you already have.”

Buy Links:

All Romance               Amazon                       B&N                Kobo              
Bookstrand                 Google Play                iTunes             Smashwords

About the Author:
Siobhan Shannon lives in Texas with her husband and a very well behaved dog. She writes, makes lace, dances, sings and plays fiddle every chance she gets. She loves everything about having grown-up children and hopes to live at the seashore one day. She frequently misses appointments because she is writing and fails to heed the time. She has written Dressing Lily and two speculative fiction novels. You can contact her at

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Evil Or Not?

I had the idea for this blog post bouncing around for a while, and then Tuesday happened. I'm not going to spend time on politics here for various reasons, but let's just say that I have been very tired this week, and a lot of my computer time was spent zoning out to mindless stuff. Despite my best efforts, I just wasn't in the mood to get a lot of writing done, but I'm hoping to fix that. And as I think about it, this post I planned may have some relevance to current events (but again, I'm not going to delve too deeply into them here).

So I've been plugging away, slowly but surely, on Seductive Suspect and its varied cast of characters. One of them, Dylan, is...well, he's kind of an asshole. He alternates between arguing with the others and keeping to himself, makes inappropriate comments, and is just mostly unpleasant to be around in general. If we're being honest here, I based him on what we in the gaming world refer to as the "dudebro gamer". In some ways, writing him (and others' reactions to him) is fun; in others, it's been a challenge. While he's not a "nice" person, does that necessarily make him bad, or evil?

In that sense, villains are easy. The ultimate villain (as he doesn't appear that way initially) of the Disintegration universe, Dr. Zedek, was fun to write, as he had few redeeming qualities and was supposed to be the bad guy. By the end of his arc, I loved to hate him, and I hoped readers felt the same way. But what of the characters who don't fill the role of the antagonist? How bad is too bad?

Now I have a silly confession to make. When I play Mass Effect and Dragon Age, I make the decisions I think are best during my first run, and then when I replay, try to make different ones. Even when I'm playing a different sort of character, sometimes I really struggle with what I personally feel to be the less moral choice.* Part of me wants to see all the possible outcomes, but there's another part of me that just can't do certain things. Heck, sometimes I even feel bad picking certain dialogue options that don't have much of an effect on anything else. And then there are decisions/plot points that I think are completely terrible and I could NEVER bring myself to make a certain choice...and then I poke around the fandom and find people who think it's the right thing to do and can't imagine playing otherwise.** Gray morality, yo. Or, different people think differently.

So back to Dylan in this current book. Is he a horrible, irredeemable person? No, probably not, in that he's not plotting world destruction or anything like that. I still wouldn't want to hang out with him for too long, though. It's taking effort to find the balance of how far to go with him, developing his character without making him too over the top. Because realistically, some people are just jerks.

*In Mass Effect, even when playing a Paragon, I always let the Council die and shoot Udina myself. Those assholes had it coming.
 **In Dragon Age 2, I am horrified by the idea of giving Isabela to the Arishok at the end of Act 2. But there are a ton of people out there who feel the same way about her as I do about the Council and Udina. Fascinating.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Attack of the 14 Nights of Halloween Hop (and Giveaway!)

October is a busy time for blog hops! This time we're all talking about our favorite spooky movies and books in preparation for Halloween on the 31st. I'm glad that's the topic, and I will neither confirm nor deny already having eaten a bunch of Halloween candy....

ANYWAY! I'm not really a big fan of "scary" movies, per se, but as regular readers have learned from my recent posts and my current WIP, I do love mysteries and suspense/thrillers. If I have to pick a favorite creepy movie, I'll go with The Silence of the Lambs. I hate violence and gore on screen, so I appreciate that all of the suspense and nail-biting and general feelings of unease are all psychological. Combined with the expert acting and plotting, there's a reason why it frequently makes lists of the best movies of all time.

In addition to the fabulous prize package giveaway for this hop, I'm giving away two e-copies of Elysium. True story - many, many (many?) years ago, when I first had the idea to write a romance about a grieving widow encountering her dead husband, it was originally going to be a ghost story. Obviously the circumstances of the plot changed a lot by the time I finally wrote the story, but there's a fun bit of trivia for you! Tell me in the comments, if you could spend the day with the ghost/spirit/whatever of any one person, who would it be?

Two years have passed since April Patterson’s husband was shot and killed in the line of duty, and she’s trapped in a haze of grief and uncertainty. Having grown frustrated by all other efforts to engage her in activities where she could meet new people, her cousin pays for a date via 1Night Stand. Not thrilled with the idea, April nevertheless contacts Madame Eve and requests the impossible: a date with her deceased husband.

Brilliant software engineer Drew Monroe created his company, Elysium, to help give closure to those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, through the use of virtual reality. Though passionate about his work, being constantly surrounded by heartache and death has taken a toll on his mental health. When he accepts the case of a young widow referred to him by Madame Eve, her tragic tale depresses him further, but he commits himself to programming April the romantic date she desires.

April arrives at Elysium and prepares to enter Drew’s virtual realm. Will she find the solace she seeks within? Or will she discover she doesn’t need a fantasy world to discover happiness again? 

Follow the directions below for the games and giveaways! Good luck, and happy reading!

It's that time of year again. The days are getting shorter, the air is getting cooler and the nights are getting spookier. Yes, it's time for tricks and treats, goblins and ghouls, chills and thrills and huge amounts of sugary sweets. But at the Laughing Vixen Lounge blog it's also time for the 5th annual Attack of the 14 Nights of Halloween Giveaway. Join Laughing Vixen Lounge and our bewitching co-hosts The Kids Did It, The Mommy Island, Herding Cats and Burning Soup, The Hopping Bloggers, Mama Smith's Reviews and Women and Their Pretties for a spooktacular Halloween event.

Enter to win a $250 Prize Pack filled with goodies from 10 wickedly fabulous shops. All shops are offering Gift Cards or your choice of item(s) so there will be something for everyone. Many of the shops have items perfect for any book lover along with lots of unique, handcrafted and custom designs to choose from.

Visit the Laughing Vixen Lounge blog daily during the giveaway for the Halloween Movie Marathon. Test your movie knowledge with the Guess the Movie Game. Then try to solve the Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt, if you dare! Each event will get you daily entries in the giveaway plus a special giveaway for the Scavenger Hunt. Find full details for these events HERE.

 You can start by entering the Rafflecopter widget below. To experience all the games, movies, shop features, giveaway info and all around awesome fun make sure to stop by the Laughing Vixen Lounge blog HERE

The giveaway runs October 18th - November 1st and is open worldwide to anyone 18+. 1 winner will win the Prize Pack and 1 winner will win the Scavenger Hunt Prize Pack. Laughing Vixen Lounge is responsible for all giveaway details. Click HERE for full details.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Fall into Romance Giveaway Hop

After a hot and humid summer (that stretched well into September and even a bit of October), I'm thrilled to finally surround myself with sweaters and soup and other fall things that don't necessarily begin with S. And at the risk of sounding like a stereotype, I do enjoy pumpkin spice. To celebrate, I'm participating in the "Fall into Romance" blog hop - be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of this post and visit all the other stops!

I first became interested in the romance genre when someone gave me a copy of Obsidian Butterfly, from Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series, for my 16th birthday. (We will not talk about how long ago that was.) Truthfully, out of the whole series, it's probably the lightest on the romance, but I liked it enough that I picked up the next book. *That* one was a bit steamier, and I was hooked and went back to the beginning.

It's hard to say how much Anita & Co. influenced my writing, as I didn't start writing my own stories until many years later. Also, the paranormal genre isn't really my thing. I have nothing against vampires and werewolves and the like, I've just never felt compelled to write about them myself. On the flip side, though, we all know how much I adore a strong heroine, so maybe Anita's creeping in a bit there.

On the topic of my own writing (excellent segue, no?), for my stop on this hop, I'm giving away two copies of Second Skin, my first 1Night Stand book. Anna and Brendan's date takes place in the summer, but they dream of meeting again in the fall, getting cozy in front of a fireplace and admiring the changing leaves in upstate New York. Read on for the blurb, and follow the Rafflecopter instructions to increase your chances of winning! I can't wait to hear about your favorite parts of fall. Good luck and happy reading!

Anna’s career as a high-level CIA operative is put on involuntary hiatus. When a trusted colleague passes along the information for the 1Night Stand service, Anna decides to take the plunge against her better judgment and seek some intimate company. But her CIA instincts can’t be ignored, and when she contacts Madame Eve, she uses an alias.

Brendan owns a lucrative manufacturing company, but he’s yet to achieve the goal of finding a woman with whom he can share his successes and joys. But beneath his polished, capable exterior hides the painfully shy teenager he’s never been able to escape. When his own efforts in the dating scene fall short, he turns to 1Night Stand.

It would be so easy to fall in love with Brendan, and Anna’s protective mask slides away, piece-by-piece, revealing more of herself than she should dare. Before she can slip away with the sunrise, Brendan shows their encounter in a new light. Will Anna take a chance on their future, or will she choose to return to her undercover, but lonely life?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 9, 2016

As Seen on TV (or Movies, I Suppose)

Whoopsies, a month went by without a post. I fell into another black hole of work at the day job, and only managed to climb back out about a week or so ago. Also, due to part of that, I managed to wind up on the local news. Again. At least this time I had a feeling it would happen and remembered to slap on some lip gloss before leaving the house. Anyhoo, that's all done with (for now), and I finally have time to write! Yay!

In the past, I've written about dream/fantasy casts, or if real-life people have influenced my description of characters, and so on. It's that time again, for Seductive Suspect. This is not a comprehensive list by any means, since the character list in this book is on the long side, but let's have some fun!

Veronica - I keep coming back to Sophia Bush to play our plucky heroine, but disclaimer: I haven't seen her act in very much. Honestly, I'd be hard pressed to name something I've seen her in besides the Law & Order: SVU crossovers with her Chicago show. That said, she's a pretty darn close match in terms of physical description, and any interviews and such I've read of hers suggest it wouldn't be a stretch to capture Veronica's personality, either.

Adam - Ooooh, I've been struggling a little with my male lead. Ashton Kutcher keeps popping up, but I'm not 100% convinced. I think he might be a hair too much on the, uh, goofy side? But then again, he's taken on more serious projects recently, and I think he also has the necessary charm. Josh Hartnett is a close runner-up here.

Victor - Here's where my influence is a bit obvious, if not obscure. Back in the day, there was an episode of Frasier where Frasier decided to hire a butler, who was played by Victor Garber. For whatever reason, that was in my head when creating my own butler character. That, plus the Alias connection for Reasons, makes this one easy. Next!

Laura - This time my subconscious thoughts took a little longer to resurface. Initially I'd been thinking of a young Christina Hendricks for the "sexy librarian" character. Not that Ms. Hendricks is ancient now, but you know. I was well into writing the book before I realized I'd probably been thinking of Laura Prepon the whole time. Oops. Hey, that five years makes a difference!

Isabel - Isabel is one of the more complex characters in the book, and as such, it's been a challenge thinking of someone who could accurately portray her many facets. For now, I think I'm going with Anna Kendrick, who usually plays cheerier characters, but she might have some fun with Isabel's darker side. Also, the physical description is spot on here, though unintentionally so, I swear.

Paul - For our good-natured guy who likes to have a good time, I'm going with Chris Pratt here. Preferably when he's on the blonder side. Paul has his more serious moments, too, but I don't think anything that would be outside the realm of ability.

Brittany - For fun, I'm picking Kate Upton, though her list of acting credentials is on the short side. For my fellow Clue fans, Brittany is basically a dumber version of Yvette. Yup.

I still have one more major-ish character and a few more minor ones to solidify in my head, but I need to get back to writing!