Friday, July 20, 2012

Lovely Awards & Fred the Bubbleblaster!

I was awarded with two blog awards recentely.  First, from the fabulous S. L. Hennessy and the other by stupendous Celia Robert.  These blogger babes are kick-a** writers AND some of the coolest peeps in the blogoshere.  Boy, do I feel pretty darn lucky.  Thanks guys!  If you haven't had a chance to visit these uber talented writer friends of mine, please do!  

The 7x7 award is all about refeaturing/linking previous post I've written in the seven categories below. This is such a killer award. Thanks, S. L. Hennessy! And now for the lists!

Most Beautiful Piece: I couldn't find a beautiful piece, but I chose to feature my flash fiction posts about Hallucinating Housewives posts.

Most Helpful Piece: Monday's post/Bloggers Charging for Reviews

Most Popular Piece - Review of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Most Controversial Piece: Is this bad, but I don't think I have one, but give me time!

Most Surprisingly Successful Piece: The Nether's Son

Most Underrated Piece: I'd say my most underrated posts have been my Creepy Classics posts. To be honest, I've sort of slacked off with my posting, which is so pathetic. I know. I'm sorry, damn it!

Most Pride-Worthy Piece: I'm stealing some of S.L. Hennessy's thunder here and agreeing that without a doubt my most pride-worthy posts were the A-Z Challenge posts. To blog almost everyday was an incredible challenge for me and I was damn proud not to miss one of them!

Fabulous Blog Ribbon!  

Before I forget...thanks again Celia!. I'm gonna keep this award simple and focus on the things I like/love and dislike!

5 Things I love
- My family
- Fred
- The fact that I'm a writer and get to make up cool sh**!
- To Read
- Hang at the beach with my kids

5 Thinks I dislike
- Editing
- Querying
- Stress
- Small-minded people
- Depressing people

And here are my list of fellow bloggers that I'd like pass the awards to! Congrats my friends!
Lexa Cain
Lynn Proctor
Christine Rains
James Anderson

Fridays with Fred
Fred likes to play with bubbles with my kids.  I took this shot of him going ballistic popping all the flying suds.  Go, Fred.  You sure know how to party!  

Be sure and stop by and visit Schatze over at Mary’s BookHounds too.
Have a great weekend.

Mina B.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

For the Love of Books: Bloggers Charging for Reviews

I saw this post from author Michele Gorman called, Should bloggers charge for reviews?  I'm not sure if you saw this, but I'd say it's a must read if you're an author.  I'm curious how many authors are having the same issue as Michele.
As a writer, blogger and book lover, I get a ton of requests to review books on my blog.  I do my best to support those who ask, but sometimes I just can't.  If I don't have the time, I usually offer an author interview or even a guest post so at minimum an author can get their book solid web exposure.  That said, when I do read and review books, I don't charge nor have I ever considered doing so.

In Michele's post, she mentioned a book blogging site wanted to charge $95 for a review, which I found astounding.  Sounds crazy, huh?  I found an interesting article from CNET at Self-publishing a book: 25 things you need to know - In #21 it discusses a couple of options self pub authors have with buying reviews. Maybe it's worth it, maybe it's not, but it got me wondering what you all thought.

- For bloggers/readers:
I have to ask, Do you charge for reviews? If so, what's a fair price? Or is it wrong to charge?  I'm interested in true insight from bloggers who do charge.  I know how time consuming reading and reviewing can be so this question is strictly for educational purposes.

- For authors:
Have you faced this challenge?  How have you handled it when book blogging sites wanted to charge?  At what point would you consider paying for a review?  Is it even worth it? Only if Oprah herself reviewed the book, huh?  LOL!

Ah, writing, reading and's all for the love of books, right?

Mina B.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday the 13th & Fred

It seems like we've have an exorbitant amount of Friday the 13th's this year, huh?  Do you think so?  I was wondering about that and thought perhaps I'd Google it, but then quickly scratched that idea.  I don't have that kinda time. Could it mean the end of days like the Mayan Calendar?  Not sure.

Anyway, the I found this image and decided that this pretty much sums up how I presently feel about Friday the 13th.

Friday with Fred

Last week, Fred took a day off for his Bday.  He partied hard during his break and now he's settled back into a routine.  For his birthday, he received this chicken below as a gift.  Fred has a thing for rubber chickens that annoyingly squawk.
Get the chicken, Fred!
Remember to stop by and visit Schatze over at Mary’s BookHounds too.

Have a great weekend.

Mina B.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Book Review: Wynne Channing's What Kills Me

As promised, I'm reviewing award-winning national newspaper reporter and young adult novelist, Wynne Channing debut novel, What Kills Me. What I liked best about this book was its uniqueness for a YA vamp lit tale.  
Written in first person from Axelia's (Zee) perspective, our young female hero, is a 17-year-old who has ventured to Italy to study abroad. She's just like any young female, filled with life and energy; ready to experience all it has to offer.  Her naiveté is not her best asset, especially in a foreign country.  One night she sneaks out from her Italian ward's home to meet a mysterious boy.  With the promise of love on the line, the last thing Zee suspects is her midnight rendezvous would result in her untimely death.  Yes, a clandestine meeting with a vampire can do that to a human girl, but not the way you think.  As Zee's running for her life, she ends up falling into a well filled with sacred blood that turns her into an immortal.  Since climbing out of the well, Zee learns she's thprophesied girl who's destined to extinct the vampire race.  And with a future like that, you can bet every vamp in the country is out for blood...Zee's especially. 

What Kills Me is a fast-paced, thriller that follows Zee as she runs and fights to save her new eternal life! The story delves into vampire royalty, young love, destiny and ancient gods. This book was indeed a page turner. And at the very end, I honestly didn't know how Zee was going to get out of her deadly predicament. Don’t you just love it when books are like that?

I found Zee genuinely likable and a true to form teenager. Despite all odds stacked against her, she was strong, resilient and somehow managed to persevere. Her love interest, Lucas, was intriguing as well so if you're one of those readers that needs your YA sauced with romance, I think this one delivers.

I'm not sure where this young adult vampire series is headed, but I have no doubt with Channing at the helm, it will be one of those series you’ll want to continue to devour. For me, What Kills me was easily a 4. Vamp lovers should snag an e-copy while you can. At just under three bucks, this fanged tale is a total steal. Get your copy here or if you want, check out the first free chapters here.

Stop back by on Friday as I reveal the Summer Reads Giveaway Hop's 5 winners of What Kills Me!

Happy Reading!

Mina B.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Author Interview: Hal Goodman, author of The Logic of Demon Series!

Today, I'm with author friend and writer, Hal Goodman.  Hal launched his debut novel nearly two years ago called, Logic of Demons and I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing it too.  If you didn't get a chance to see my review, check it out here.  Fast forward to today, Hal has continued with his fantasy series and recently launched Book 2 called Breaking The Devil's Heart.
Please welcome Hal Goodman, author of The Logic of Demon Series!

Mina: Welcome, Hal! Can you tell us a bit about Book 1 in The Logic of Demons? Where did you find your inspiration?

Hal:  In Logic of Demons, I really didn’t know what I was doing, but I was still fortunate enough to receive a plethora of wonderful reviews (yours being one of them). The inspiration for the first book came from my memories of working as a U.S. history teacher at LAUSD and a stock broker for various brokerage firms and banks. Logic of Demons was my first foray into writing and a way for me to express my philosophy on life and human nature. The story is written in the third person and is in many ways completely different from my newest novel, Breaking the Devil’s Heart. The primary correlation between the two books is theme based; both stories revolve around how human beings will justify almost anything if it fits within a specific paradigm of thinking. The second book of the “series” is written in the first person, from the perspective of a deceased former CIA agent named Stewart Willoughby; a man completely different from Devin in the first novel. The motivation for Breaking the Devil’s Heart comes from the belief that I can actually create a philosophical story people will enjoy and find thought provoking.

Mina:  Thought provoking for sure, especially the ending--which I still remember. And that doesn't happen with every novel.

Since Breaking the Devil’s Heart is Book 2 in the series, can you tell us a bit about it and whether or not it picks up from The Logic of Demons?

Hal: Breaking the Devil’s Heart is a completely stand alone book. The main reason I decided to develop a “series” is because the elements of the afterlife in both novels are congruent, as is the overall theme I tried to convey within both stories. Hell is still a corporation with evil bureaucratic protocols, Heaven is still in the throes of civil war with fundamentalists, and human beings are still easily influenced by emotional, cultural and religious constructs. One thing I tried to do, which is something you and other wonderful reviewers and readers had turned me on to, is try to make the protagonist more courageous and street wise. So, Stewart in this novel isn’t only a bolder, stronger character, he’s a far more intelligent and proactive man than Devin. He’ll go overboard at times (torturing demons, etc.) but at least there’s some method to the madness with this main character. He also believes in the power of love, which in an odd way allows him to achieve many things in the novel.

Mina: What type of music did you listen to (if any) for inspiration?

Hal: Well, interestingly enough, music doesn’t inspire me, it just relaxes me and eases my mind. However, I started getting into death metal and other harder metal genres (heavy metal) after writing Breaking the Devil’s Heart. I find that death metal and black metal actually combat depression and negative thoughts quite well. Why? Because when you listen to an Amon Amarth or Satyricon song, for example, you’re initial reaction – if you aren’t used to the music – is one of fear and shock. Then that emotion quickly turns to confidence and then into enjoyment of the power that fuels the music. But, if you check my iPod, I’ll also have Dionne Warwick and Richard Hawley, so that tells you all you need to know about my musical tastes. My primary inspiration to write is to illustrate the madness behind the logic that promotes evil and the reasons people refrain from ending wicked behavior on planet Earth. I have nothing against vampires falling in love with each other – I like that stuff also – but my goal is to write philosophical novels that if possible, mirror one-one hundredth of the power and lessons found in George Orwell’s or Franz Kafka’s writing.


Mina:  Awesome!  Very cool.

What type of genre is this book? Adult or YA Fantasy? Give a snapshot to our readers of not only the genre, age range and also if you like “X” author or “X” novel, then you’ll love the Logic of Demon series.

Hal:  This is a great question, because the answer can be viewed both as a challenge and an opportunity. But, I think the fact that Breaking the Devil’s Heart really doesn’t have a genre is a tremendous blessing. The story is a nice blend of several genres, from paranormal romance to fantasy and speculative fiction, but doesn’t really have a home. This is a great thing for me since the book can be appreciated by enthusiasts of many genres without them thinking the story is trying to be something it’s not. The overall plot is unique; something that isn’t out there today. It takes religious mythology and spins it around and around in a washing machine of a story, weaving political and social issues with historical events and crazy characters. Throughout the story, the characters deal not only with the shortcomings of others, but also their own fears, insecurities, and faults. One thing I tried to do with both novels -and I think I succeeded with this one even more than the first - is not to be preachy in any way. The scenes speak for themselves. I tried to put my own biases on the back burner, although of course they are there if you look hard enough.

Mina: Would you call this stand alone novel or do you suggest reading Book 1?

Absolutely, Breaking the Devil’s Heart is a completely stand alone book. I think you mentioned in your review of the first one that you wanted to strangle Devin, the main character at times (as did several reviewers and readers). Well with Stewart, I think you’ll have a better connection with this type of main character. He’s far more cognizant of his decisions, although he can go overboard at times because of his appetite to destroy Satan and her company.

Mina:  LOL. Did I say that? *clears throat* Okay, now for a random question. What’s your favorite food or recipe?

Hal:  I love Korean barbeque, Indian food, and I’m now getting into Ethiopian food. But, I’ve always had a thing for Italian, Japanese, and Chinese food. My ever growing waistline is a testament to these loves.

Mina:  Oh, boy!  That does look good!

Okay next question. Do you have any lessons learned about publishing?

Hal:  I have learned so much, mainly that if you have glowing reviews from as many review sites as possible, people will notice you. Even with my last novel, a book I wrote without knowing a thing about the literary industry, I had agents in NYC and London, big ones, looking at me for the sole reason that my reviews caught their attention. They all basically told me (in agent speak) that they loved the concept and will have no trouble introducing the series to a big publisher once I get the sales up. So, I’m focusing on my ebook sales big time this go around. The novel is just unique enough and thought provoking, I believe, to garner some widespread attention. So once I get my bevy of reviews, I’ll start on a whole list of cool marketing strategies to bring attention to my wacky story. I’m working to get a great deal of reviews this time, even more than the first one. When you come out with a novel from a small publisher, bigger agents want to know if they can make money from what you’ve created. In a nutshell, you’re selling your creation, or artwork, and its potential for greater revenue in the future. I think what I’ve come up with is something people haven’t seen before and will enjoy, and thus a concept that has legs, so to speak. So I think it’s just a matter of time before something cool happens. Right now, the train is slowly moving, but when it starts going at full speed, of course the big guys and gals will want to get on board for the profit potential.

Mina:  Wow that's some great insight.  Can you tell us what to expect with the series? Are you writing any other novels?

Hal:  I have the next novel in my head, but there are several big literary agents eyeing me. So, I’m going to wait and see what happens.

Mina:  That's wonderful news, Hal.  Keep us posted on your success! Get your copy of Breaking the Devil’s Heart below:
B&N Nook
Via iPad/iTunes

You can find Hal at FaceBook, his website and on Goodreads for the Breaking the Devil’s Heart.

Mina B.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer Reads Giveaway Hop

Hey, minions! Fresh off the Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop, I'm participating in another hop; the Summer Reads Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and co-hosted by one of my favorite book blogs...Rex Robot Reviews. Woot! Go Julia! Seriously, minions...RR is one the bomb! If you haven't had a chance to check out or follow her blog, please do!

That said, there are over 200 blogs participating so it should be intense with literally hundreds of free book sh** up for grabs. The giveaway runs from July 6th to July 11th (end of day) so you'll have plenty of time to enter. (I'm #69!)  Anyway, this past week, my FREE Sh** Fairy worked tirelessly to find a killer giveaway for you guys. And boy did she pull through!

Award-winning national newspaper reporter and young adult novelist, Wynne Channing recently launched her debut novel, What Kills Me. Check out the synopsis below:

An ancient prophecy warns of a girl destined to cause the extinction of the vampire race. So when 17-year-old Axelia falls into a sacred well filled with blood and emerges a vampire, the immortal empire believes she is this legendary destroyer. Hunted by soldiers and mercenaries, Axelia and her reluctant ally, the vampire bladesmith Lucas, must battle to survive. How will she convince the empire that she is just an innocent teenager-turned bloodsucker and not a creature of destruction? And if she cannot, can a vampire who is afraid of bugs summon the courage to fight a nation of immortals?
What's so cool about this book is it is the complete package. The cover rocks and so does the novel. For an excerpt read the first FOUR chapters via Channing's website here. Stay tuned as I review What Kills Me in the coming days.

And to keep things interesting Wynne has graciously offered five copies of her ebook for this giveaway!  That's five winners, minions!  I know. I know. Charge up your e-readers, book addicts.  I think you'll need it for this one. Okay, let's review the giveaway, shall we? Five (5) lucky winners can win an e-copy of Wynne Channing's debut YA urban fantasy novel, What Kills Me. Want to know how to enter? See below and tell your friends!

To enter
MUST be a GFC follower of my blog & MUST fill the form.

Extra entries
+1 Like Wynne on Facebook
+1 Follow Wynne on Twitter
+1 Retweet this Twitter (limit 1 retweet)
+1 Add What Kills Me to your GoodReads Shelf

Again, the giveaway starts at 12:01 AM EST on Friday July 6th and runs through July 11th midnight. Contest is open to International participants.  Want to see who else is participating? Click here and hop on by.  (Note:  The winner for the Freedom Hop will be announced over the weekend. Be sure and stop by.)

Congrats to the following winnners for the Summer Reads Giveaway Hop!

- Natalie C.
- Kristia M. 
- Giedre S.
- DeeDee B/G.
- StacyT

Note: The winner will be notified via email and will have no more than 72 hours to respond before another winner is drawn. The contest winner was selected by the reputable

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Fridays with Fred
Since this Fred's birthday week, he get's this week off. Lucky dog!
Remember to stop by and visit Schatze over at Mary’s BookHounds too.

Have a great weekend.

Mina B.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Insecure Writers Support Group, Great Expectations

Today I'm posting for the Insecure Writers Support Group that I belong to.  This past month I made good progress on my novel, but sadly it wasn't enough. Managing expectations--even great ones--is something I'm feeling particularly insecure about these days. 
I met my goal by about half way, mainly due to work, my summer schedule with my kids and also those pesky plotting issues I discussed during last month's IWSG.  I know. I know. It feels a bit like I'm giving excuses, which is exactly how I feel. Truth is, I did make progress, not as much as I expected...but still progress. And that led me to my question about expectations. Was my expectation of 50,000 words last month reasonable? I thought it was, but then life happened.  I realize that's not really an excuse, but reality just the same. I think it's important to set goals, but at what point do our expectations surpass what's realistic. Do you find yourself doing that? Setting goals that aren't necessarily attainable?  I think we all do that from time to time, stretching ourselves in the process? I guess it wouldn't be so bad if I didn't feel so bad about it when certain ones aren't met.  This month I'll continue pushing towards finishing the novel. I do my best to finish and begin editing too. That may be a stretch, but I still intend to try.

Anyway, what about you? Did you participate in any goal-setting last month with writing? How do you keep your expectations with your writing career in check?

Mina B.