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April 7, 2012

Athens Patch: You Are What You Wear


My Athens Patch post this past week featured recently released You Are What You Wear by Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner. Dr. B was kind enough to share her spring cleaning tips for your closet. Click on over the Athens Patch to see how I transformed my closet.

I don't know about you, but I look forward to a new season just so I can change what I'm wearing. For me, spring typically means trading long pants, bulky sweaters, and dark colors for brightly colored shirts, capris, and flirty skirts. However, the mild winter has left me less than thrilled with my clothing options as the lack of season change has left me without a wardrobe change. Read More
Buy: IndieBound, Powell's Books, Amazon
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April 6, 2012

Parasouls: Divine Intervention by Michele Richard (guest post)

Today, I have Michele Richard visiting to give us a little more insight into her new Sci-fi Romance series and in particular the newly released book 1 Parasouls: Divine Intervention. You may remember Michele stopped by last year to share about her debut novel Mocked by Destiny. Michele, it is great to have you here again. Thank you for stopping by.

Hello, everyone!

First: thank you, Donna, for letting me stop by today.

Second: I would like to give my opinion on the personal attacks book bloggers are receiving because they gave an author’s book three stars. I’m newly hearing of this activity. Last night on a live chat with Ali’s Bookshelf a blogger asked for my thoughts on this subject. I answered it honestly.

Writing and reading is very subjective. Not everything I write will be loved by all, and I am okay with that. I’ve been three starred. Did I take it personal? Absolutely not. I believe everyone should be welcome to share their opinions. They shouldn’t be under fire when they post it. As long as the blogger doesn’t attack the author as a person, they do not deserve to personally picked apart by the author. So with that said, blog on book bloggers, and know whether you like or don’t like a book, it is your right to say it. Thank you for allowing me to say my piece on that. I felt it was important to stand up for all those who take the time to read and blog.


And now for the reason of my visit: Parasouls ~ Divine Intervention.

This is my first Science Fiction/Fantasy/Supernatural Romance. I know the genre lines blur on this series. I searched and searched for one that would cover them precisely. It’s not out there. But again, I tend not to write the conventional stories. Yes, it’s heavy in the romance department. Sorry, Donna, I know that’s
not your favorite genre.

A parasoul is an evolutionary step ahead of the humans they co-exist with. In the first book: Divine Intervention, it’s concentrated on the soul linking of two parasouls from opposite sides. This event hasn’t been witnessed in centuries. If it’s okay I’d like to show an excerpt of the linking.

“You will fail if you fight me,” the hunter snarled, stalking closer.
His disarming good looks left me stunned, frozen in place. Staying in the shadows, he hid most of his features, but I could see the silhouette of his high cheekbones, square jawline, dark hair, and even darker eyes. A bolt of lightning flashed in the sky, and an electric charge reverberated off the bricks around me. It was the strangest thing I’d ever seen. In a crackling arch, the bolt flashed above, splitting in two. I felt the impact as one strike was launched into my chest.  Staring in disbelief, I saw that the lightning had hit the hunter, too. In a blink it was gone.

My eyes locked onto his, and for the first time in my life I was mesmerized. Deep in the pit of my stomach, I felt a pulling sensation that demanded I move closer to the hunter. It felt as if a hook was anchored onto my belly button and it was dragging me toward him. My feet shuffled forward by instinct. From the way he glared at me, I knew he felt it, too. That’s when I saw them - scarlet and ginger flames dancing in his palms.

We’d always been told we had a consort who was our complete opposite, though I had never heard of anyone finding theirs. Was it possible the rumors of soul linking were true? Was my fate sealed in one moment by divine intervention?

“Stop whatever you’re doing to me!” he demanded, just as shocked as me.

“It’s not me. I thought it was you!” I gasped, the draw growing in intensity.

Clenching his fist, he extinguished his flames. “Prove it.” He gestured with his hands.

Releasing a heavy breath, I opened my hands to reveal the cerulean sparks igniting on the tips
of my fingers. In a flash they glowed and pirouetted. I looked up to see his guarded expression soften. Transfixed, he stared at the blaze that flowed from my fingertips.

“So what they say is true? We do have polar opposites?”

“It would appear so. Question is: what do we do about it?” he hissed.
Before I could think about what it all meant, I was ambushed from behind. A sharp, stinging
sensation rocked my body, forcing it to collapse. His once-heated expression crumbled just before everything faded to black.

Shane and Angelique’s gifts have been more curses than gifts. They’ve both had to live with being unable to touch another soul without causing the person physical harm. These two know more than anyone else in the story that it’s not easy to fight what your head and your heart want, especially when they don’t agree. Everything to them is so new that they don’t really know the right way to react. Give them time, they’ll get there.

A lot of people have asked questions about their gifts, and I’ve only begun to touch on them in this book. But to answer a part of the questions, their gifts are emotionally charged, fluctuating and surging. So when Shane is in bed and relaxed, he’s running at his lowest temperature, still enough to burn a person with one touch, but not enough to flame his flesh and scorch his sheets. As for his clothes: sorry that answer is in book two.

We’ll also learn more about the warring factions in Parasouls ~ Dividing Lines. Each title was specifically picked to show what the book will be about. So you can already tell the next one covers why they are split between the government and the resistance parasouls. This title will have the most explanations of who they truly are and how they came to be. But that will come later.

Thank you again for letting me visit!

Michele Richard

Thank you, Michele, for sharing and even answering a few of the questions I was left with after reading Parasouls: Divine Intervention.


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April 5, 2012

Tips on Thursday: Formatting

How to Format Web Articles for Clarity & Impact

Writing for different mediums takes different levels of skill and formatting. People don't read white papers the same way they read copy on the web, which is why certain mediums require certain formatting to be effective. Web article copy needs to be thorough yet short, and it needs to be easy to read.

In order to increase your web article's readership, you need to ensure that it is formatted properly. The following are great formatting tips to help give your article clarity and impact.


1. Use lists.

Web articles are more effective when they are in list format. Numbered lists are easy to read, so they help your article's clarity. This is especially true if you are offering step-by-step instructions or a variety of tactics or information (such as this article does). People can easily scan over lists to get their desired information without reading through a ton of paragraphs.

2. Use bullet points.

If your article includes information that impacts your story, such as statistics, use bullet points to highlight this information. People tend to notice bullet points because they stand out from the regular article format. And sometimes, bullets are all that readers will pay attention to. Bullets are also great for information that needs to be highlighted quickly, but doesn't make sense to use with a numbered list.

3. Use headings.

If your article cannot be written in list format, implement the use of headings or subheadings. This will help direct your readers to the information they want, and it serves as a brief summary of the information that is about to come. If someone comes across your article and is in search on one specific piece of information, a heading will help them find it more easily.

Subheadings are also a great tool to use to break up your article. If readers see a ton of paragraphs on a web page, they may be overwhelmed to read the whole article. Subheads create a break in the article, making your readers feel more comfortable to tackle it.

Headings also add clarity to your article. Without headings or subheadings, some articles can bounce from one topic to the other and come across as being very choppy or hard to follow. By placing a heading or subhead in your web article, it will help tie all the paragraphs together.

4. Go bold (or go home!)

Make sure that your numbered lists, bullet pointed items or headings/subheadings are either bold or placed in a larger font than the rest of your article. People will be drawn to the items that stand out, and since most readers may only take the time to scan what your article is about, they will be first attracted to the items in bold or larger print. If this information stands out and piques their interest, they will be more inclined to read the whole article.

When writing articles for the web, it's important to remember that there are formatting tricks that will help the impact and clarity of your content. Implementing these formats will make your content more attractive to your readers, and as long as you continue to produce great content, your easy to read articles will create happy readers.

Mark Weatherford is a high school English teacher and published author who loves to blog in his free time. He is an advocate for grammar checkers and often encourages his students to utilize them to proof their work for grammatical infractions. However, cooking is not among Mark's skills and in order to survive he resorts to quick and easy meals.

April 4, 2012

Romantic sci-fi? Parasouls: Divine Intervention

Parasouls: Divine Intervention by Michele Richard
ebook, ARC
Published April 2012 by Renaissance Romance Publishing
ISBN: 9781475064155
Read April 2012
Available: Goodreads, Amazon

You must remember throughout this review I DO NOT read romance novels. While many of the books I do read have a romantic element, they would rarely be classified fully as romance. The closest I get to a romance novel is the occasional chick lit story. I have this disclaimer because I think the problems that I had with the book has more to do with the genre than the writing.

I read the original draft that Michele was querying. At that time it felt like a sci-fi story that greatly reminded me of the Jessica Alba television show Dark Angel. I was very excited to read it because I love stories about genetic mutation (both artificial and naturally occurring) with government involvement. However, there was very little sci-fi in the storyline. It is almost completely eclipsed by lust filled sex.

I've never read a bodice ripper, but the beginning of this book had me feeling like I was about to partake in my first. And pretty much from the instant the main characters meet the story disappears into a lust filled haze. We're suppose to believe they are star struck lovers, but I never felt any true love. One character even comments that her body wants him, though her mind tells her he's the enemy. There is no mention of what the heart feels. When it is just a bodily reaction to me that's lust and not love.

Speaking of enemies, we never truly see why each side thinks the other are the bad guys. To me just being told they do bad things is not enough. I mean they have been on their designated sides for a long time, yet, when thrown together there is no conflict (except for squabbles over inconsequential things). Angelique apparently doesn't even inquire about her team until chapter 12 when we are finally told there status.

Character development on a whole seemed to be lacking. I didn't understand anyone's motivation for most of their actions. I felt like Angelique when she told Shane they didn't know one another. While we get a few tidbits from their "getting to know you", we don't actually get to be part of the conversation. The book flip flops between Shane's and Angelique's points of view. I often felt lost as to whose head I was in as they did not have distinct voices for me. At first I thought I just didn't like the switching viewpoints, but this weekend I read A Million Suns by Beth Revis and it switches between Amy and Elder and I didn't mind it as both characters are fully developed individuals.

I also didn't feel that the world Michele created was fully developed. There seemed to be inconsistencies. While I could understand that some parasouls can turn their talents on and off, what I didn't understand is if Shane could burn someone just by brushing against them (not actively flaming) then why didn't his clothes catch fire or his bed or anything else he touched?

I know I sound pretty negative about Parasouls, but like I said in the beginning I think it had to do more with it being a romance than with the story itself. When I could look past what I considered "flaws" I would find myself enjoying the story. I think if I was into romance novels then I would have enjoyed the book much more. If you want romance then get this book. If, like me, you want a sci-fi novel, then you might want to pass.


I received a free review copy of Parasouls from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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April 3, 2012

National Poetry Month: The Day The World Ends

To celebrate National Poetry Month, Crown Publishing Group/Random House has offered one lucky U.S. reader a copy of the new book of poems by Ethan Coen. Learn more about The Day the World Ends and then enter below to win your own copy.

The Day the World Ends by Ethan Coen
paperback, 128 pages
Published: April 2012 by Crown Publishing Group
ISBN13: 9780307956309
Available: Goodreads, Amazon, Powell's Books

From one of the most inventive and celebrated filmmakers of the twentieth century, and co-creator of such classics as Fargo, No Country for Old Men, and True Grit, a collection of poems that offers humor and insight into an artist who has always pushed the boundaries of his craft.
Ethan Coen's screenplays have surprised and delighted international audiences with their hilarious vision and bizarrely profound understanding of human nature. This eccentric genius is revealed again in The Day the World Ends, a remarkable range of poems that are as funny, ribald, provocative, raw, and often touching as the brilliant films that have made the Coen brothers cult legends. From Goodreads.com


About the Author:

When not writing plays, poetry, or short stories, ETHAN COEN makes movies with his brother, Joel Coen. After thirteen films, the Coen brothers have one of the most beloved and critically acclaimed bodies of work in the history of cinema.

Giveaway: 

To enter for a chance to win The Day the World Ends by Ethan Coen, please fill out the entry form below. Open to U.S. residents only.

 

April 2, 2012

Video Blog #10: What I'm Reading


Received:

Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden
The shocking story of one of the few people born in a North Korean political prison to have escaped and survived.
North Korea is isolated and hungry, bankrupt and belligerent. It is also armed with nuclear weapons. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people are being held in its political prison camps, which have existed twice as long as Stalin's Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. Very few born and raised in these camps have escaped. But Shin Donghyuk did.
In Escape from Camp 14, acclaimed journalist Blaine Harden tells the story of Shin Dong-hyuk and through the lens of Shin's life unlocks the secrets of the world's most repressive totalitarian state. Shin knew nothing of civilized existence-he saw his mother as a competitor for food, guards raised him to be a snitch, and he witnessed the execution of his own family. Through Harden's harrowing narrative of Shin's life and remarkable escape, he offers an unequaled inside account of one of the world's darkest nations and a riveting tale of endurance, courage, and survival. From Goodreads.com

Hellenic Immortal by Gene Doucette
“Very occasionally, I will pop up in the historical record. Most of the time I’m not at all easy to spot, because most of the time I’m just a guy who does a thing and then disappears again into the background behind someone-or-other who’s busy doing something much more important. But there are a couple of rare occasions when I get a starring role.”

--Adam the Immortal

An oracle has predicted the sojourner’s end, which is a problem for Adam insofar as he has never encountered an oracular prediction that didn’t come true . . . and he is the sojourner. To survive, he’s going to have to figure out what a beautiful ex-government analyst, an eco-terrorist, a rogue FBI agent, and the world’s oldest religious cult all want with him, and fast.

And all he wanted when he came to Vegas was to forget about a girl. And maybe have a drink or two.

“I am probably not the best source when it comes to who invented what. For a long time I thought I invented the wheel.”

--Adam the Immortal

The second book in the Immortal series, Hellenic Immortal follows the continuing adventures of Adam, a sixty-thousand-year-old man with a wry sense of humor, a flair for storytelling, and a knack for staying alive. Hellenic Immortal is a clever blend of history, mythology, sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, mystery and romance. A little something, in other words, for every reader. From Goodreads.com
Reading:

You Are What You Wear by Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner










Parasouls by Michele Richard










A Million Suns by Beth Revis
Godspeed was once fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos. It’s been three months. In that time, Amy has learned to hide who she is. Elder is trying to be the leader he’s always wanted to be. But as the ship gets more and more out of control, only one thing is certain: They have to get off the ship.





In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. It's Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey.




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April 1, 2012

Sunday Shorts: Sex, Life, & Hannah

Sex, Life & Hannah by Dorota Skrzypek
ebook
Published September 2007 by adventures of Hannah - concept publishing
ISBN13: 9780976886938
Read: March 2012
Add to Goodreads shelf
Buy: Amazon or website

I wasn't real sure about reading this novella when I accepted because of sex being in the title. Anyone who has read my blog for a length of time knows how I feel about sex in books. While sex is the topic of conversation most the time for the characters, it is rarely seen (characters talk about their sex life, but you only occasionally get a glimpse into the bedroom.)


Whenever I'm offered a pdf to review, I always open it first on my computer to make sure the file works. I'm so glad that I did. The layout of the book is what really caught my eye. From the cover you can see that it is mocked up like a magazine. The magazine concept continues throughout the novella as you can see in this screen shot.


While I loved the concept, there were a few instances of it interfering with my reading on my Nook. But it definitely earned brownie points for creativity.

Sex, Life, & Hannah is a cute chick lit novella. It felt a little like Bridget Jones's Diary (I've only watched the movie, not read the book). Actually it read more like  a movie in my head than a book. I kept thinking it was like the "confessional" scenes in He's Just Not That Into You. Sex, Life & Hannah was formatted like that. You would get action scenes interspersed with Hannah's internal monologue about her life (or maybe it should be vice versa).


If you are into chick lit, then definitely check out Sex, Life, and Hannah. It is a serial novella and the second volume is also available.



Sunday Shorts is a weekly meme hosted by Cabin Goddess where short stories, novellas, and quick weekend reads are highlighted. There is also a Goodreads group where you can share your favorites even if you don't blog.



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