Books I & II of The Lova Chronicles is available now!

The Lova Chronicles kicked off with The Earthen Shroud in August 2013!

Want Your Book to Read Like a Movie?

Check out my book trailer and see how I did it!

Author Book Signing

I've only done this once, but I had the time of my life! You can too; see how.

Food-Inspired Art

Check out my guest post on Notebook Blogairy about how food inspires my writing.

Pages From My Diary

I started a new blog series: awesome, intimate, legendary.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Book to Movie Classics: The Temptations

Everyone who knows me knows I love movies--but my favorite movies always tend to be musicals.  That means heavy on the great acting and heavy on the incredible singing.  So it's no wonder that this month's Book to Movie Classic is The Temptations.  The mini-series, which later was written to DVD film, was produced by Suzanne de Passe, Berry Gordy's right-hand woman in Artist Development, and Otis Williams, the sole surviving original member of the infamous R&B group The Temptations.  The screenplay was based on a memoir he wrote about the group in 1999 and later re-released in 2002 with an additional chapter about the deaths of Eddie Kendricks and Melvin (Blue) Franklin, who were still alive when the book was first penned.

The book manages to be incredibly insightful.  Otis has a way of telling things like they happened without painting anyone in terribly negative or unfavorable light.  There are no real villains or crooks, nor are there any decidely heroic parties.  The tale is spun so impeccably that it's hard to question its validity; Otis clearly has a very vivid memory.  You can almost place yourself in the 1960s on a bus or in a hotel watching these young men become men while developing as chart-topping artists.

There have been some very unflattering depictions of David Ruffin and his domestic and drug abuse.  As a matter of fact, his ex-lover and mother of his only son, Genna Sapia, wrote a book about just that, and her relationship with David.  While her book clearly has some bitterness and hostility toward David and some of his bandmates (and other lovers), Otis' book doesn't do that.  Even when describing his varied relationships (he was married three times), he fails to be more explicit than to say that he cared deeply for one or the other.  His love for each member of the group is evident from start to finish (even those members the movie never mentions or says little about), and never once does he diminish even the slightest bit the talent and asset each was to the legacy of the group.

The movie is truly a sight, and is, again, one of my absolute favorites.  I can't tell you how many times I've watched it or even how well I know the choreography of each song.  Let's just say the music is timeless, and it's truly apparent in this movie.  This clip of "(I Know) I'm Losing You" is one of my absolute favorites because not only does it demonstrate the power and captivation of David's voice, but it shows the precision and showmanship of this incredible group.

Beyond the music, the cast was expected to perform up to standard; anything less and they wouldn't be believable as the Tempts.  Many of the actors cast as the original five do also sing; however, some did not re-record many of the songs in the studio prior to filming because their voices did not sound much like the original singers.  Leon, for example, who plays David Ruffin, could not duplicate such a notorious voice, so his scenes are lip-synched, with the exception of his scene with Otis and Melvin at his apartment as he is singing along to "Aint Too Proud to Beg".

These men create a captivating world riddled with problems from the very beginning.  Members leave the group left and right (again, quite a few are left out of the movie as their parts in the Temptation "movement" were brief and could not be captured in depth on screen), and each is forever aware that no one is indispensible.  No one man would ever be bigger than the group.  And Otis holds to that motto today with the modern day Tempts.  The imagery is fantastic, and, despite its length, the music and depth of character keeps you moving from one scene to the next.

Of course, the way Melvin's death is depicted in the movie is inaccurate, but because his death occurred right before filming of "Temptations" got underway, it was "much too fresh" on their hearts to recreate it accurately.  However, Smokey Robinson's song "I'll Miss You (My Friend)" was actually sung at the real funeral.

 5/5 suns: Both the book and movie are must-have for your collection.  It's not one of my favorites for nothing!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Tracy Kauffman

Today's Soapbox Spotlight is on Tracy Kauffman, an inspirational Christian fiction author.  Pending her novel's release, Tracy is here to share with us her views on writing and share a little about her latest work with us.

Tell us about yourself, Tracy.

I am a new author from North Alabama and love writing for young adults and children.  I am a Christian who is trying to make a difference in the world today.  I hope to inspire others, educate, and edify others in a positive way.

How long have you been writing?

I began writing at an early age.  Books [have always] fascinated me, and I had so much imagination that writing made sense.  I remember when I was in second grade, I won the title of Editor in our school newspaper for a paper I wrote.  Then I joined a journalism class in middle school.  I published my first poem when I was in Cosmetology school called the "Cosmetology Student".  

What first attracted you to your genre?

I love writing fiction fantasy for children and young adults because you can add to the characters where you want them to go.

What inspired you to write your first book, and what was it?

I started writing my first book, Southern  Adventures, when my son got ready to leave home for the Air Force.  It gave me something to keep me busy [instead of thinking of him leaving].

Tell us about your latest work, Gwendolyn's Wish.

It is currently in production and will be released very soon. It's a children's book about a young girl who receives a special friend who can grant wishes. It is a cute story that any child would love. It teaches about good values and gives a child understanding on the real meaning of friendship.

Gwen is a homely young girl with no friends until she meets her neighbor, Zahara. She soon covers Zahara has a secret. Zahara has a parrot that can grant wishes. She tells Gwen about her special friend and instructs her on how to acquire her own special companion. Unsure of the truthfulness of what she was told, Gwen goes home and follows Zahara’s instructions. Soon, she receives her very own parrot, and he can grant wishes too! He tells her to think hard, about what she wants her first wish to be. Even though her wish is a tall order, he grants all of her wish sealing a lifelong friendship.

Does the writing get easier with each new book?

For me it does, because I try to write from my own life experiences.

Can you tell us a little more about your main character?

Gwendolyn is a young girl that lives in the country and does not have many friends until she meets her neighbor and obtains a pet parrot.

How did you develop your plot and characters?

Believe it or not,  I had a dream, and the plot and characters were easy to write because the dream was so vivid and inspiring.

Would or have you considered writing in another genre?

I like to write this genre, but am also working on a historical fiction book.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

My message is that beauty and riches of this world are not everything.  Love and friendship can bring you complete happiness.

What are your current writing projects?

I have several different books I’m working on.  I know I need to focus on one thing at a time, but I have so many different plans for books that it is hard to focus on just one thing.

You can find Tracy at the following links:

Website:  http://tracykauffman.yolasite.com
Blog:  http://tracykauffman.blogspot.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KauffmanTracy
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/#!/TracyKauffmanFictionAuthor
You can purchase Tracy's book(s) at the following links:

http://sbpra.com/TracyKauffman
http://tracykauffman.yolasite.com

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Elodie Parkes

Welcome to another Soapbox Spotlight!  Today, I'm interviewing international author Elodie Parkes.  Elodie lives in the UK, an amazing place to visit I hear, and is talking to us today about her new novel, Millie Reinvented.

Tell us about yourself, Elodie.
I live in Canterbury, United Kingdom. It’s famous for the Cathedral, Chaucer, and there is a UNESCO world heritage site, which includes the ancient ruins of St Augustine's Abbey and St Martin's Church. There is also a ruined castle. It’s a pretty place too, and the coast nearby is great.

I work in an antiques shop and write. I have two dogs that keep me fit with their need for walks.  I write romance, contemporary and erotic with a twist of mystery now and then. I like to make the story unusual in some way, by a quirk in the tale.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing when I was seventeen. I never did anything like submitting to publishers etc. until I was about twenty-five and then queried to no avail.  I started writing again seriously a couple of years ago because had so many stories in my head.

What inspires you to write and why?

People and emotions and the things that happen to people emotionally inspire me.

What first attracted you to this genre?

I like to have love, romance, beautiful things, and happy endings in my writing, and so my genre is perfect for me.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

Oh dear, [the hardest things have] to be marketing, drawing attention to the book, and finding the reader audience.

Did writing this new book teach you anything and what was it?

Millie Reinvented taught me to go with my heart in my writing and stop being so academic.

Good things to learn!  Have you developed a specific writing style?

I write in narrative storytelling mode. I did try first person a couple of times but found it very restrictive so I don’t use it at all now.

What is your greatest strength as a writer?

I think it’s the joy I get from writing, and so I put it back into the work.

Tell us about your latest work Millie Reinvented.

Millie Reinvented is about a young woman who suddenly realizes that her husband has not really been kissing her for a couple of years.  Millie is kissed by a young man who works in the same firm as she does at their Christmas party, and the kiss is so different, and enjoyable it jolts her into the realization that she has been kissing her husband, but he’s just been taking it. It’s not the only thing he’s been taking.  Millie finds herself assessing her relationship with her husband over the next months as the young man who kissed her at the party starts to pursue her.

The things Millie finds out about her husband astonish her.  She falls into a relationship with the young man, August. He is special and begins to love Millie entirely.  As Millie and August’s relationship deepens so do their love scenes.  There are some fun aspects to this erotic romance when Millie meets August’s friendship group from when they were all in university. There’s an instantly likeable group of women in this book, and it was easy to fall in love with August as a writer so I hope as a reader too. I tell his character journey with tenderness because he needs some healing as well as Millie. It’s a love story.

That sounds really interesting!  How did you come up with the title?

The character August gave it to me :-)

Can you tell us a little more about your main character(s)?

Millie needs to be loved. She’s kind, generous, and affectionate. She has a good job and works hard.
August is a darling who helps his friends, and he needs love too, but doesn’t realize it until he meets Millie.

Wow!  This book sounds like a great read!  Thanks for stopping by, Elodie!

Thanks for having me, Ray!

You can find Elodie at the following places:

http://elodieparkes.blogspot.com
http://www.facebook.com/ElodieParkes
https://twitter.com/ElodieParkes
https://plus.google.com/u/0/100127291306930462635/posts

You can purchase Elodie's book at the following places:

http://www.amazon.com/Millie-Reinvented-ebook/dp/B008H5IF7U
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Millie-Reinvented-ebook/dp/B008H5IF7U

Find samples of ‘Millie Reinvented’, and ‘Two of Them’ on the blog http://elodieparkes.blogspot.com.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

RJS Book Review: A Chicki Brown Winner

RJS Book Review

As if my summer wasn't hot enough, I had the exceptional pleasure of reading Chicki Brown's latest novel Aint Nothing Like the Real Thing, e-published on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  I'll admit, I wasn't very interested in the book at first because it was categorized as Christian fiction, and (I'm sorry) but Christian romance can be done a little too prudishly for my taste.  Not so here.  Ms. Brown tells a remarkably realistic story, with all the candor and grace of traditional romance.  Her themes are decidedly Christian, but not to the extent that a lover of romance is overpowered or turned off by its message.

The novel follows Dee and Michael, an interracial couple (as you can see from the cover) happily married with a toddler and, owners, individually, of two companies.  So, why, if they are so happy, does Michael find his way into a daring affair--with a world famous supermodel no less--he meets in his nightclub?  Michael does not fail to make things worse; because Dee feels so betrayed by his infidelity and no longer wants to even see his face, Michael moves out--to the model's home.  Yeah, you heard me right.  That part truly struck a nerve.

What I loved about this story is that even though it's about an interracial couple, the couple's reactions to one another are typical of any man or woman.  While Dee does have her characteristic "black woman" moments telling Michael where to go and how to get off, it is an intimate look at how things in a relationship can go horribly wrong, even when everything looks right.  Dee and Michael eventually concede to see their pastor about their marriage, and yes, this is the more Christian element of the story, but there's nothing the pastor tells or shows them about their relationship that a good friend wouldn't say, making the story just as relatable for those without a Christian faith or background.

Ms. Brown paints a vivid picture of this couple's life, even from the opening club scene, which feels authentic and real from the very first line.  The lovemaking is described passionately without being overtly crude or racy.  I was fascinated and gripped by the surprising twist, which I won't give away here, but enlightened me of the author's incredible storytelling.




4.5/5 suns: This book is a must read, whether or not you believe God can save your soul.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Host a Virtual Book Launch Party

You've written your book, you've edited it, you've even gotten it published.  You've promoted like there's no tomorrow, but you keep feeling like you should do something to celebrate.  Well, yeah!  You should!  This is one of the biggest accomplishments of your life!  Spending money on a fancy hall and champagne, however, seems like a real waste of effort and time.  And let's face it, at the end of the day, it's just a party for your friends and local media--how is any of that going to reach your real readers?

You want to host a virtual book launch party.  It's permanent, being that it's hosted online, and you'll get nationwide party guests.  The process isn't fool proof by a long shot, but if you start planning early, there's no reason you can't pull of a smashingly awesome party--and maybe even sell some books, too!

First, you've got to have a website.  I don't care if it's just a free blog on Blogger or Wordpress.  Preferably, your site has been up for awhile as you promoted and anticipated the launch of your book.  That way, you've already started building a fan base long before the book is set to release.  Typically, you want your launch party to be pretty close to the date of the release; more often than not it's the day of.  When I did mine though, I hosted a Launch Week to cover the whole first five or six days of my debut novel's release.

Two, you want to plan a theme.  To find one, think about the main ideas in your book.  Is it set on a deserted island?  Is it a how-to for finances?  Is it romance?  Sci-fi?  Once you've got some solid main ideas, you can start planning your activities for your party around them.  The Grim, for instance, is about a convicted murderer sentenced to imprisonment in a psych ward.  As an activity on my party page, I put together a psycho thriller movie quiz with movies that had something to do with mental illness or were set in psych hospitals.  Try to stick to one major idea though.  While it's okay to veer off (for example, one of my main characters has a fetish for chocolate chip cookies so I included my own recipe), you don't want to stray too far away from your theme.  It gives the impression you're all over the place, which makes it hard to really relate to your work.

Think interactivelyIn this technological age, you've got to keep your audience's attention.  These days, internet visitors want media they can interact with, and it's up to you as a new age author to provide them with it.  With this in mind, think of activities that engage your audience.  Instead of your typical question and answer with the author, do a video blog about your journey through the writing process.  Post some Facebook quizzes, maybe introduce your audience to your characters.  Use these activities to really set the stage.  Your launch party is going to be anyone's first look at your book; it has to be an incredible presentation.

This is also a good place to advertise your blog tour, interviews, book trailer or any other promotional stuff you've been doing in the months prior to the release, or even in the months that will follow.  (You can see my guest blog on coordinating a virtual blog tour on author Marita Fowler's website.)  Giveaways are always a good idea, too.  Be prepared to offer a copy of your book to a lucky winner.
There have been really great examples of well-executed launch parties all over the internet.  You can Google them and see what ideas others used that you love.  Or, since you're here, you can check out my launch party page.  Be sure to let me know what you think!

Congratulations on your release and good luck!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Rochelle Campbell

Thanks for joining me, and welcome to another installment of Soapbox Spotlight! We're kicking the holiday off with Rochelle Campbell.  She is an avid blogger and reviewer while also the author of three books: two novels and a children's book.  Today, she is talking to us about what she loves about writing.

Tell us about yourself, Rochelle.

I am a writer by nature, a loner by circumstance and forever a child of learning.  I started writing in my early childhood, and when I reached 5th grade, I realized that artfully putting words on a page was my calling.  In the '90s, I wrote only journalistic pieces.  I was a beat reporter for local papers.  I progressed to writing press releases, business proposals and the like.  During those days, in the wee hours of the morning, when Truth always stares us in the face, I dabbled with short stories.  I've written over 30 short stories and have thrown many of them away!  It was only after having children did I seriously attempt my first novel.

You never throw them away!  I have a large tote full of everything I've ever written.  Some of my best stuff if derived from things I thought was "whack" back in the day.  Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

From a young age I enjoyed reading.  No matter what was going on, you could rest assured my head was stuck in a book.  I guess my love of reading (and ultimately writing) originated with my mother reading to me every night.  I vividly recall books where words were replaced by pictures so even when I could not read I could still take part in the storytelling.  Those days were magical and set the tone for me wanting to create magical moments for others.

What inspires you to write and why?

I am inspired by everyday things -- an unusual news report, a random snippet of conversation, a beautiful landscape, or even an old shoe in an odd location.  The everyday inspires me because that's what we, as humans, experience normally.  The ordinary then takes us to the extraordinary…if we let it.

I love that!  What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

The most challenging thing about writing a novel is its sheer length.  My first love is the short story art form.  There, the brevity gives you total and complete control of your piece.  With the novel format, your characters come to life and begin telling you how things should be and they change scenes on you!  This makes the novel a bit contentious.

I have to agree with that.  I got my start in short stories, too, and I still love it.  What kinds of things do you look for in a book cover?

I look for covers that convey the central theme or meaning of the story.

What genre of books do you read, or do you stick with the genre you write in?

I adore sci-fi/fantasy, romance, thrillers, mysteries, political thrillers, medical thrillers -- you name it and I'll read it.  However, I write in the women's fiction/romance/inspirational (New Age) genre.  (Yeah, a mouthful!)  However, this genre is as natural to me as breathing.

Interesting!  What books have most influenced your life?

Cuckoo's Egg - CJ Cherryh
Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert Heinlein
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle
In Death series - J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts)

Funny, most of them are sci-fi/fantasy…

The whole A Wrinkle in Time series was a favorite of mine growing up.  I still own my copy!   Have you ever considered anyone a mentor?

My writing mentors are Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah.  Between the two of them, they birthed the writer within me and they continue to help me develop as a writer to this day.

How do you deal with rejection?

I have every single rejection letter I ever received! (laughing)  Seriously, some of my "No's" were extremely positive and spurred my passion and hope.  In fact, the last rejection letter I received was so positive that it was one of the major factors that encouraged me to strike out and publish my work via Amazon.

Are there any new authors that have sparked your interest, and why?

Yes! Jason Tesar, author of The Awakened series.  Within a matter of days, I had completely finished reading books 1-3 and went in search of the rest.  What I didn't realize is that they weren't written yet!  So, I devoured Tesar's blog.  That's where I first learned how simple it was to publish one's work online.
Besides this, Tesar's clear prose and his vivid characters, who are passionate and unforgettable, drew me in!  And again, his work is sci-fi/fantasy.  He's created an imaginary world that intersects with our own (Earth) making the story very dynamic.

Sounds like an amazing read! What else do you do to unwind and relax?

To relax and unwind?  Read a book, of course! (laughing)  I also love hot yoga.  Between the heat and trying to perfect my yoga poses (asanas), it takes me completely out of my head and re-focuses me.  As writers, we need that desperately -- time away from our own minds.

I agree!  I really enjoy yoga too!  Well, thanks for stopping by, Rochelle.  It's been wonderful!

Thank you for having me, Ray!

The Grim was reviewed on Rochelle's blog here.  You can also find my interview with her here.

You can find Rochelle at the following sites:

Website: http://thenotebookblogairy.com/
Blog: http://notebookblogairy.blogspot.com/
Twitter: @NotebkBlogairy

You can find Rochelle's books at the following sites: