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Reflections on the #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

August 25, 2012

Photo Challenge Day 25: Fresh

I worked really hard on getting some writing done on my book today (I think I finished the chapter). So I decided to get a FRESH baked pizza and soda from Sam's for dinner.

Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim

Pure Entertainment: The Mine

The Mine by John A. Heldt
Published February 2012
Read August 2012
Goodreads, Amazon

When I accepted this book for review, I wasn't sure how it would turn out. I thought it could be really bad or it would be fun and entertaining, though perhaps a bit cheesy (in the Back to the Future kind of way, not in a bad way). I like stories that have the character time travel to past times, but it is hard to find ones that are well done. I was pulling out books for my niece and I came across Time at the Top which has a young girl traveling back to the early 1900s, I think. I read it as a child. I remember having trouble getting into the story, but then really enjoying it. Apparently, time traveling stories have always piqued my interest.

The Mine is part of my ebook backlog that I vowed to make a dent in this summer. And I have to say it was a pretty good book to end the summer with. The beginning was rocky for me (maybe that is a trend for time traveling stories?), but at about the 20% mark it was like a switch was thrown and it was a great story that I didn't want to put down. I constantly wanted to know what was going on with Joel and Tom, Ginny and the girls.

There are a few references to Back to the Future and Marty McFly, but it was not a remake of the movies. It was its own story. Whereas Marty had Doc to aid him in traversing the time traveling pit falls, Joel is on his own. And probably a bit more like what it would be like if you or I was suddenly transported through time. Thankfully, he is a history buff and has a good memory of dates and sports history. Also unlike in Back to the Future, we don't really get to see any impact of Joel being transported to 1940 in the future. Partly, I think it is because we don't know much about the present day lives of the characters. I was also left with a few other questions at the end, but I can't share them lest I spoil the ending for you. I wholly expect you to pick up a copy of The Mine. I give it high marks for pure entertainment.

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August 24, 2012

Photo Challenge Day 24: Path

Here is part of the PATH I talk on my way from the building to the parking lot each day.

Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim

Friday Fun with Pavarti K. Tyler

It's again Friday. Yay! I've been sick this week so super glad it is almost the weekend. Today, Pavarti K. Tyler, author of Shadow on the Wall, Two Moons of Sera, and Consumed by Love, will introduce you to the fun of science fiction. Pavarti s an artist, wife, mother and number cruncher. She lives in the Washington DC area with her husband, two daughters and two terrible dogs. When not busy working as the Director of Marketing at Novel Publicity she spends her time penning her next novel.

Aliens Rock
Green skin and purple skies, the possibilities of alien worlds and cultures is never ending. You can have wild hair, extra rows of teeth, webbed toes, or even non- humanoid creatures beyond the average person’s imagination. Add in a little politics, an intergalactic war including aliens and maybe some religion and you have the makings of a sci-fi best seller.

What is it about aliens that makes us all go “Ohhhh cool”? I think it’s equal parts the unknown possibilities presented as reality and the opportunity for something really different. A lot of the best alien stories and movies are all kinds of gross. Take Steven King’s Dreamcatcher or Ridley Scott’s Alien Series, talk about icky! I mean you’ve got creatures popping out of all kinds of places they really shouldn’t! But we love that right? I mean, incubating nasty gremlins from outer space is the fodder of the best alien books. 

Cover of "Battlefield Earth"
Cover of Battlefield Earth
For me, if you take anything having to do with a creepy crawly from outer space and pair it up with some kind of romance I’m in. Which is why what I’m about to tell you is going to come as a surprise. Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard is the best alien book ever. 

Now I don't mean the atrocity that John Travolta participated (Battlefield Earth Movie). I mean the old school Sci-Fi book that Hubbard wrote back in the day. I mean the book that deals with Earth in the year 3,000 where aliens are mining for their most precious metal - gold (who saw Cowboys and Aliens - I wonder where they got THAT idea!) I mean the saga that spans cultures, religions, the real and unreal worlds of Earth and Psychlo. I mean the saga of Jonnie Goodboy Tyler. 

I bought my copy of Battlefield Earth at a hospital fund- raiser for $0.25 because I thought it was funny. It sat on my shelf for a year before, much to my husband's mocking, I finally picked it up. This is the only book other than Twilight (shut up) that I stayed up over night just to finish one more chapter until it was done. Don't believe me? Galaxy Press has agreed to give away 3 paperback copies of Battlefield Earth to help me convert you. Not to Scientology, but to the purest of Science Fiction.

a Rafflecopter giveaway   

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August 23, 2012

Photo Challenge Day 23: Pair

This has been my favorite PAIR of shoes this summer. My sister gave them to me.

Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim

Tips on Thursday: Giveaways

Free place to sleep
Free place to sleep (Photo credit: Brad Stabler)
Everyone loves getting free stuff and bloggers love to host giveaways because of the traffic it can bring to the blog. However, many bloggers do not follow the laws governing giveaways and could catch some unwanted attention - the attention of the Attorney General's Office. With just a few rules & guidelines you can make your next giveaway kosher.

If you use Rafflecopter to collect entries then it is pretty easy to come in compliance. By adding a mandatory entry of agreeing to Terms & Conditions, you can notify participants of the rules governing your giveaway as well as providing a "no purchase necessary" entry. Here are statements to include in your terms & conditions:

  1. The dates and time the contest opens and closes. Even if you are using Rafflecopter that shows how much time remains to enter, you must include it in the T&C.
  2. Include "No Purchase Necessary" and "Void Where Prohibited" - Contests must have a "free" entry and it can be argued that time is a cost and therefore any actions to enter (following you on twitter, leaving a comment, etc.) might be considered a "purchase". Some states (i.e. New York and Florida) have more stringent laws governing contests for both the host and the entrant such as being bonded or registered with the state.
  3. State the value of the prize. Most of our giveaways are small in value, but if a prize is worth $600 or more IRS paperwork must be filed. If you are doing a really BIG giveaway and the combined total of all prizes being offered is valued at $5,000 or more you must be bonded.
  4. How are prizes award, winners contacted, length of time to respond, and what will happen to unclaimed prizes. It would be a good idea to include a statement about the odds of winning (typically based on the number of entrants, but with people assigning point values to different entry options the statement may need to be altered a bit). 24 - 48 hours may be considered too short of time for the winner to have to respond. Sweepstakes ran by major companies and organizations typically give 30 days. Choosing a new winner is the best option for unclaimed prizes, but you can also choose to offer a new contest.
  5. You may also consider limiting entries to people 18 or older (or age of majority in the entrants location). Anyone under 18 would need parents' permission to enter.
  6. To comply with with anti-spam and privacy laws, state that contact information will be used only to contact the winner and that the information will not be sold or shared. You can offer an entry for signing up for your newsletter. For more information on newsletters and anti-spam and privacy laws, see this article.

Coral of Alchemy of Scrawl has a good example to follow for T&C:

By clicking 'enter' I agree to these terms and conditions:
  • I am at least 18 years old or older.
  • I understand my information will not be shared with anyone and I will only be contacted if I am a winner.
  • I understand my entry may be verified and if the entry cannot be verified it may be removed.
  • Void where prohibited.
  • Physical copies can only be shipped to US/CAN. eBooks and/or Gift Cards can be emailed internationally unless prohibited by that country.
  • No purchase necessary to win.

You can get more information on what you need to do to make your next giveaway legal with this article.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this information should not be considered legal advice. If you have questions or concerns it would be best to contact a lawyer to address your specific situations.

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August 22, 2012

Photo Challenge Day 22: Home

When I moved out of my parents' house into my own, people thought it was odd that I did not refer to it as HOME. It didn't feel like home. No one was there but me. With the addition of 2 dogs and 2 cats, I do now call it home. However, in my head it isn't really home, except on when my niece and nephew visit then it feels like home.

Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim

Gary Kassay: Where does it all come from? (guest post)

Today, Gary Kassay, author of Murder in Silence, stops by Girl Who Reads. Gary is a retired law enforcement officer who currently resides in Casper, Wyoming. Have you ever wondered how an author gets an idea for a story? This questions intrigues Gary and he shares how he came up with the story for Murder in Silence.

Where does it all come from?

I would like to thank Girl Who Reads for inviting me to write down a few thoughts. Sapphire Star Publishing released the first of the Duke Becker Series, Murder in Silence this past July and Girl Who Reads will be reviewing it shortly.

Today I would like to ask you to think about a subject that intrigues me a great deal. How do authors write about, well, what they write about? To be more succinct, does an author that writes about romance need to have had steamy affairs, been swept off their feet by a male or female god or goddess, be a beautiful sexy woman or man for that matter? What about the action adventure writer? Must that person have had a life filled with narrow escapes, running from criminal gangs, discovering treasure maps and saving a beautiful heroine…at least once a week to write their novel? Does the horror author live in a haunted house, see ghosts everywhere, been the target of a voodoo king or witch?
Then we come to those who write in my genre, murder mysteries. Being a retired Police Officer from New York City definitely helped me in creating a realistic setting and of course many stories, some closer to the truth than you might imagine. But as an officer of the law, I was sworn to uphold it, to protect and serve, to run in the opposite direction of everyone else at times of an emergency. My thoughts were never criminal in nature and as far from homicidal as possible.

So I ask you, how is it that I can write about cruel and unusual murders. How do I get into the mind of a killer and realistically portray his or her every thought and diabolical action? Is there a killer buried deep within my soul and writing a form of exorcising that particular demon? Does the written word release the evil thoughts within so as to keep me from actually carrying them out? Is it what we all simply call…imagination?

Imagination is something that is solely attributed to humans, or at least that is what we believe. But what is imagination really? Is it a compilation of past events, mixed and tossed about in our subconscious mind until finally, one day, one moment in time, we have a thought, what we think of as a new idea? Or is it truly a new thought, possibly something that no one on this planet has ever thought before.

To tell you the truth, I don’t know. I know that for me it isn’t a demon waiting deep inside of me. I have served the law for too many years and have seen what evil looks like. And yet at times I wonder where the plots, the characters and the things that they do come from. Perhaps it is a mixture of all of these things and then again, maybe it is simply…none of them. As a writer my job is to entertain you, make you ponder things, scare you a little and possibly take you to a new world that you can revisit at any time by simply reading and rereading a favorite story. I sincerely hope that this short writing and of course, my novels if you should choose to read them, will do just that.

Find Murder in Silence at Goodreads, IndieBound, and Amazon.
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August 21, 2012

Photo Challenge Day 21: Cool

I'm sick and when I have a head cold this waterless vaporizor is the COOLest thing.

Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim

A Fun Listen: The Lightning Thief

audio book, Narrated by Jesse Bernstein
Published June 2005 by Listening Library
ISBN13: 9780307245304
Listened August 2012

This is another one of those stories that I some how missed out on when it first came out. I watched the movie last year when I found it at the library and thought that I wanted to try the series. I had hoped that my niece and nephew would read it as well so we could talk about it, but they never showed much interest. My niece said she tried it, but didn't like it. She is, however, loving Rick Riordan's other series The Kane Chronicles.

Like many books that I want to read for myself, I just couldn't find the time to squeeze them it (there are a number of books in this series). Last week when I was checking my status for Mockingjay, it hit me that I should check the digital library for an audio copy. They had it and the waiting list was short. 

While I don't really care much for Greek mythology, I really enjoyed The Lightning Thief. The mythology stuff was kind of in the background (like magic is in the background of Harry Potter). And when a story is needed Percy is able to provide it in a way that doesn't feel like everyone but the reader knows the answer (and as I've stated before I prefer fantasy when I'm not the only outsider).

Jessie Bernstein does a wonderful job at the narration and capturing the different voices. 

The Lightning Thief was a fun, easy listen and I'm looking forward to listening to the rest of the series (I've already reserved The Sea of Monster). 

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August 20, 2012

Phota Challenge Day 20: Today

Though I don't do it everyday, when I feel overwhelmed, frustrated, want to remember something exciting, or just feel the need to unload what ever is in my head I have a personal journal (not everything in life needs to be shared with the whole world on the internet). TODAY, I wrote about my writing project because I found out today that Kennesaw State University is having a Publishing Institute this fall and there will be agent meetings.

Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim

Reading Update & Book News


The giveaway of The Destiny of Shaitan by Laxmi Hariharan is going on this week. Just go to last Friday's Friday Fun post and enter the rafflecopter at the bottom of the page.

This coming Friday, join me on The Indie Exchange Book Bloggers show as we chat with Katie Robison, author of Downburst (see my review).

I participated in The Indie Exchange's Read-a-long this weekend. We read Scribbling by Jonathan Gould. The book won't be out until this fall, but you can read my review here.

There are still a few spots on the Millicent Marie Tour with Karen Pokras Toz. If you review middle grade books, you will want to be on this tour - we have a lot of fun planned including a few live events. Sign up here. (this tour is paid for by the author)


For Stella Richards, life in the charming town of Virginia Beach is not as magical as one would think. Sun, fun, and sand only guarantee one thing: unwanted visitors. Stella learned long ago to never befriend anyone visiting the beach. They're here; then they're gone, drifting in and out as the tide ebbs and flows. She vowed to never connect with anyone vacationing in Virgina Beach - until spring break. Stefan changed everything.

Stefan Sterling lives life never knowing where he will end up next. Bouncing from one Military base to another has hampered his ability to connect to those around him. That's what happens when your father is in the military. Raised in a world of discipline, control, and strangers, Stefan never expected to find anyone he'd want to be close to - let alone love.

A family curse verses a loving abnormality promises to keep Stella and Stefan on their toes. Was it an accident or could it be destiny? Will they be able to survive their families? And, is there ever a time when you can fully let go of the person who awoke your soul?

A story of love, sacrifice, and growing up before it's time. From
Read my review. Get Mocked by Destiny at Goodreads and Amazon.

An explanation on how to use StumbleUpon to drive traffic to your online content. From
Read my review. Find StumbleUpon Exposed at Goodreads and B&N.


In 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can't use, money he can't spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of Whirlaway, swing dancing, and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever. THE MINE follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come. From
Find The Mine at Goodreads and Amazon.

In Attached, Levine and Heller reveal how an understanding of adult attachment-the most advanced relationship science in existence today-can help us find and sustain love. Pioneered by psychologist John Bowlby in the 1950s, the field of attachment posits that each of us behaves in relationships in one of three distinct ways:

Anxious people are often preoccupied with their relationships and tend to worry about their partner's ability to love them back Avoidant people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness. Secure people feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving.

In this book Levine and Heller guide readers in determining what attachment style they and their mate (or potential mate) follow, offering a road map for building stronger, more fulfilling connections with the people they love. From
 Find Attached at Goodreads, IndieBound, and Amazon.


Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school . . . again. No matter how hard he tries, he can't seem to stay out of trouble. But can he really be expected to stand by and watch while a bully picks on his scrawny best friend? Or not defend himself against his pre-algebra teacher when she turns into a monster and tries to kill him? Of course, no one believes Percy about the monster incident; he's not even sure he believes himself.

Until the Minotaur chases him to summer camp.

Suddenly, mythical creatures seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. The gods of Mount Olympus, he's coming to realize, are very much alive in the twenty-first century. And worse, he's angered a few of them: Zeus's master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy has just ten days to find and return Zeus's stolen property, and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. On a daring road trip from their summer camp in New York to the gates of the Underworld in Los Angeles, Percy and his friends–one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena–will face a host of enemies determined to stop them. To succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of failure and betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves. From
Find The Lightning Thief at Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon.

This Week:

Tuesday: Review of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Wednesday: Guest post by Gary Kassay
Tips on Thursday: Giveaway Rules
Friday Fun with Pavarti Devi
Saturday: Review of The Mine by John A. Heldt

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August 19, 2012

Sunday Shorts: Scribbling

Scribbling by Jonathan Gould
Published October 2012

This weekend I participated in The Indie Exchange's Weekend Read-a-long. For our book this month Jonathan Gould was kind enough to provide advance copies of his upcoming short story Scribbling. We meet up with Neville, who we met in Doodling, and he is feeling out of step with the world. In an effort to make the world more accommodating, he reshapes it. Oddness ensues.

I like Scribbling a bit more than Doodling. I felt there was a bit more social commentary that I could relate to. I find it interesting that in both stories Neville finds a "purpose" in helping a woman.

You do not need to read Doodling to enjoy Scribbling. In truth, there was no reference to anything that happened in Doodling. At one point Neville makes a comment and it is as if Doodling had never happened. So they are stand along stories that feature Neville.

If you like humorous stories, put Scribbling on your wish list.

Buy Scribbling at Amazon

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Photo Challenge Day 19: Hole

My niece is planning to turn my socks that have a HOLE in them into catnip filled cat toys this Christmas.

Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim