Readers' Favorite

January 31, 2014

Character Interview and Sneak Peek at INCANTATION

Excerpt of Incantation, coming out Spring 2014, featuring Karen:

At five fifteen, Christina walked in to Barney’s, the blinds closed to keep out the glaring setting sun. She stopped just a few feet in to let her eyes adjust and see where her small crowd would be sitting. In a few seconds she heard her name and arms waving at the end of the bar.

“Christina! Here!”

Nancy had managed to get eight of their girlfriends together for a good-bye.

“So tell us about this new job! Nancy said there was a guy?” Glenda asked.

Karen made it but was fashionably late. She was redhead, petite and could get any man she wanted. At forty-four she’d been married twice and was working on a third. Out of all of her husbands, number three was the best catch: wealthy, good looking, doted on Karen and all her whims. Christina had known Karen from college, briefly being roommates for part of a semester. Karen spent the better part of her dating time stealing everyone else’s boyfriends. When Christina moved to Dallas, Karen saw her byline in D Magazine and contacted her.

Take 2
Bolton's debut novel
They had always gotten along well but since reconnecting in Dallas, Christina had noticed there was something off in their relationship. When Christina had invited Karen to meet up, Karen only came when she had news to share. If nothing special was going on with her, she would find an excuse not to meet. Christina had been surprised she showed up to happy hour since this evening was clearly about her and no one would be particularly interested in anything happening with Karen.

Christina enjoyed her cranberry vodka drink as she told her friends about her new job and Tristen. The gals were all gathered at a table and some were on their second drink by the time Karen arrived. Christina had been in the middle of her story about the night she saw blood for the first time on Tristen when Karen walked up.

Buy Take 2 at Amazon

“Hi everyone, sorry I’m late. Ted wanted to give me a present ‘just cuz’ before I left. See?!” She announced as she waved her right hand for everyone to see. A large pink diamond jutted out of a cocktail setting on her right ring finger.

As if it had been planned, the women all commented, ‘Oh’ at the same time and then Nancy quickly added, “Christina, finish the story!” All eyes were back on Christina.

The night continued on with Karen trying to cut in to each tale Christina told. By the end of the evening, a couple of the women finally gave in and let Karen tell them about her new jewelry and her wonderful husband, all the while feigning attention. She was finally glad to have someone’s attention and held them captive as long as she could.

Christina drank her last cranberry vodka for the night and listened to her friends congratulate her on her new beginnings. She felt like it was happening to someone else. Nothing like this had ever happened to her. It felt so surreal.

Meeting Karen

Karen, this excerpt doesn’t show you in a favorable light. Is this really how you are?

Oh, of course not. I’m a nice person and care about my friends but, let’s face it, my ring is beautiful. Don’t you think? (she waves her hand at me, flaunting the rather large pink diamond)

Aren’t you happy for Christina and her new life?

Oh yes, I am. If it’s really true. You see, I think its a bit exaggerated. I plan to drop by and check it all out. It’s going to be a surprise. (she winks at me mischievously)

Oh, well, I’m sure Christina and Tristen will be glad to see you. 

I know he’ll be glad to see me. Look at all this (she points to her figure), who wouldn’t be?

So, Karen, this is your third marriage?

Yes, the other two just couldn’t keep up with me. I need certain things to keep up this look (she smiles and bats her eyelashes). It’s not free, you know.

Karen, will we see more of you after your surprise visit to Vegas?

Oh, you never know. I may pop by Christina’s’ll have to read and see.

About the Author:

Take 2 is Linda Bolton’s first novel is available on Amazon. Her second book, Incantation, is to be released spring 2014. When she’s not writing, Linda is a GiGi, playing with her new granddaughter Z, and working full-time.

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Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate;  a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above link. The views, opinions, and beliefs of contributing writers are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads.

January 30, 2014

Pitch Perfect

Nothing is more important to your marketing efforts than your pitch. It is definitely worth spending a bit of time on perfecting your pitch before you start making contact with media professionals, including bloggers. If your requests have not received the response you were hoping for then head back to the drawing board.

I've been reading This Is How You Pitch by Ed Zitron (buy at Amazon). I'm a third of the way through it and I keep thinking "authors need to read this". I've been highlighting the heck out of this book. Recently, I highlighted a statement about the need for your pitch to make a personal connection with your audience. This may sound familiar since I said basically the same thing in my post about press releases.

You will give your pitch to everyone you speak to about your book: readers you hope will buy it, fans you want to spread the word about it, bookstores you want to sell it, event coordinators you want to host you, media professionals you want to interview you and write stories about it, and bloggers you want to review it. In some instances you will only have a couple of minutes and in other situations you may be able to do a full blown presentation. Your pitch needs to be easily tailored to fit the situation and polished to be ready at a moment's notice.

Let's look at a couple of examples that do NOT work... (paraphrased from emails I have received)

"My book is now available on Amazon. I hope you will review. LINK"

"I wrote a steamy romance you will love. I can send you a Kindle copy if you'll leave a review on Amazon."

In both of these examples, there is no personal connection. Often these types of "requests" are BCC to many people which is really bad form. How can you make a personal connection if you are mass mailing? If you want to do mass mailings of your pitches, work on building your email list and use a program like MailChimp so that you are not spamming your contacts. You can target your emails by breaking your subscriber list into potential readers, fans, and bloggers/reviewers.

Second, there is little information provided for me to decide if I would even want to read the book. When I worked with the publishing house I had authors provide three summaries of different lengths. While I know book summaries are not an author's favorite task, they are an important component of your pitch. Whittling your summary to just a few sentences will prepare you for when you only have a minute or two to hook your audience. Even this short summary may be different when speaking to different audiences. For example, if you write romantic suspense, you may want to showcase the romance side when pitching to chick-lit and romance readers and lean more towards the suspense when trying to reach that group of readers.

For pitches for interviews, guest posts, and news stories, you need to make the story important to that reporter and their audience. For traditional media a person self-publishing a novel is NOT news and if that's all you've got - you are wasting that reporter's or editor's time. Good news for you, many bloggers will still be interested in interviews and guest posts. If you want them to write a news piece on you though, you need to provide them with some news. Again, I recommend reading my post on press releases.

Third, these pitches have no desire for a continuing relationship. Every contact you make is an opportunity to expand your network. And you never know when someone in your network will turn out to be a truly valuable connection. The example pitches above in some ways treat me as just another reader. They have no regard for my publication, the name I've built, or the further connections an appearance on my blog could afford them. Just a note, if you are just interested in retail reviews then do not bother contacting reviewers who write for publications, including blogs. While bloggers love to help authors, their first priority is to their blog and there are plenty of authors who respect bloggers' talent and influence enough to only care if the review appears on the blog.

I really hope none of my readers have written pitches like the two I used as examples. They are pretty extreme. But there are plenty of middle of the road pitches that make the same mistakes. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. But you want a pitch that works more than 50% of the time. So what do you need to do?

Research! You need to know the person and/or publication you are pitching to. Read some of their posts. Read any submission guidelines or policies they have posted. Check them out on social media - you may even want to start cultivating your relationship by interacting with them there. By interacting, I don't mean talking about your book. Respond to their postings as if you are just a regular person and not an author hoping to get their attention. If possible, help them out even if you will not directly benefit from it.

Cultivating relationships can take time, and you need acceptances now. So while building relationships, build your reputation. In many ways these go hand in hand, but a good reputation can get you in the door quicker. You need to be professional in all your contacts - this includes your postings to social media. For those who you are pitching, be mindful of their deadlines and commitments. Provide a full press kit or at least a "quick media sheet" with your pitch. Note, it should not be a substitute for your pitch. Be a person of your word. If you set a date for an interview or guest post, honor it by getting your material in on time. I've had a number of authors who will schedule an appearance and then never send anything or the day before their post is to appear tell me they didn't have time. Take all aspects of your writing career seriously.

This post has turned into a bit of a rant. So let's end this on a positive note:

Perfecting your pitch takes practice. Just as each revision to your novel yielded better results so will your pitch.

Be comfortable talking about your book. Understanding how your novel fits the genre and target audience will make it easier to tailor your pitch. It will also help you identify opportunities as they arise.

Be prepared. You should be able to quickly provide cover image, author photo, bio, book summary. If you are pitching a guest post, interview, or news story, make sure you have time to meet deadlines which can be short.

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the blogger behind Girl Who Reads and author of the how-to manual Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made through the links above.

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January 29, 2014

Top 10 Books of January

Can you believe it is almost the end of January? Usually the longest month of the year, and though the weather has been frightful, it has gone more quickly than I would care for. In case you missed some of the more popular books this month, here are the Top 10 January Books according to Goodreads.

Number 10
Cruel Beauty
Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

Buy Cruel Beauty at Amazon

Number 9
Growing up the way I did, you’d think I’d be more screwed up than what I actually am.
Soon as I turned sixteen, I left that bump in the road I called home and took my chances on the street.
Best decision I ever made.
Now, at the age of twenty six, I’m educated, employed and damn good at my job.
My friends have become my family. Like me, they know what it’s like to grow up unloved.
But the saying is true.
The world makes way for those who know where they are going.
That’s me.
I know where I’m going and I’ll get there eventually. On my own terms and at my own pace.
But then there’s him.
I feel his eyes on me. I see him hiding in plain sight. He watches me.
He makes me feel.
It’s unconventional.
But it’s real.
I’m sure you’re wondering how a person falls in love with their stalker.
So am I.
This isn’t a story.
This is my life.

Buy Raw at Amazon

Number 8
Sometimes the wrong choice can be just right . . .

Fun and fearless, Cora Lewis knows how to keep her tattooed "bad boy" friends at the Marked in line. But beneath all that flash and sass is a broken heart. Cora won't let herself get burned again. She's waiting to fall in love with the perfect man—a baggage-free, drama-free guy ready for commitment. Then she meets Rome Archer.

Rome Archer is as far from perfect as a man can be. He's stubborn, rigid, and bossy. And he's returned from his final tour of duty more than a little broken. Rome's used to filling many roles: big brother, doting son, supersoldier—but none of those fit anymore. Now he's just a man trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life while keeping the dark demons of war and loss at bay. He would have been glad to suffer through it alone, until Cora comes sweeping into his life and becomes a blinding flash of color in a sea of gray.Perfect may not be in the cards, but perfectly imperfect could just last forever . . .

Buy Rome at Amazon

Number 7
One simple lesson in seduction between two friends can turn into so much more… 

Despite her outgoing demeanor, Olivia is painfully insecure around the opposite sex—usually, she can’t get up the nerve to approach guys she’s interested in. But moving to Edinburgh has given her a new start, and, after she develops a crush on a sexy postgrad, she decides it’s time to push past her fears and go after what she wants.

Nate Sawyer is a gorgeous player who never commits, but to his close friends, he’s as loyal as they come. So when Olivia turns to him with her relationship woes, he offers to instruct her in the art of flirting and to help her become more sexually confident.

The friendly education in seduction soon grows into an intense and hot romance. But then Nate’s past and commitment issues rear their ugly heads, and Olivia is left broken-hearted. When Nate realizes he’s made the biggest mistake of his life, he will have to work harder than he ever has before to entice his best friend into falling back in love with him—or he may lose her forever…

Buy Before Jamaica Lane at Amazon

Number 6
Up From the Grave
There’s always one more grave to dig.

Lately, life has been unnaturally calm for vampires Cat Crawfield and her husband Bones. They should have known better than to relax their guard, because a shocking revelation sends them back into action to stop an all-out war…

A rogue CIA agent is involved in horrifying secret activities that threaten to raise tensions between humans and the undead to dangerous heights. Now Cat and Bones are in a race against time to save their friends from a fate worse than death…because the more secrets they unravel, the deadlier the consequences. And if they fail, their lives—and those of everyone they hold dear— will be hovering on the edge of the grave.

Buy Up From the Grave at Amazon

Number 5
Into the Still Blue
The earth-shattering conclusion to Veronica Rossi's "masterpiece" Under the Never Sky trilogy and sequel to the New York Times bestselling Through the Ever Night (

Their love and their leadership have been tested. Now it's time for Perry and Aria to unite the Dwellers and the Outsiders in one last desperate attempt to bring balance to their world.

The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe-haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do-and they are just as determined to stay together.

Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. And when Roar returns to camp, he is so furious with Perry that he won't even look at him, and Perry begins to feel like they have already lost.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble a team to mount an impossible rescue mission-because Cinder isn't just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival, he's also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

In this final book in her stunning Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi raises the stakes to their absolute limit and brings her epic love story to an unforgettable close.

Buy Into the Still Blue at Amazon

Number 4
Lost Lake
Suley, Georgia, is home to Lost Lake Cottages and not much else. Which is why it's the perfect place for newly-widowed Kate and her eccentric eight-year-old daughter Devin to heal. Kate spent one memorable childhood summer at Lost Lake, had her first almost-kiss at Lost Lake, and met a boy named Wes at Lost Lake. It was a place for dreaming. But Kate doesn't believe in dreams anymore, and her Aunt Eby, Lost Lake's owner, wants to sell the place and move on. Lost Lake's magic is gone. As Kate discovers that time has a way of standing still at Lost Lake can she bring the cottages—and her heart—back to life? Because sometimes the things you love have a funny way of turning up again. And sometimes you never even know they were lost . . . until they are found.

Buy Lost Lake at Amazon

Number 3
The Destiny of Violet and Luke
Luke Price's life has always been about order, control, and acting tough on the outside. For Luke, meaningless relationships are a distraction-a way to tune out the twisted memories of his childhood. He desperately wishes he could forget his past, but it haunts him no matter what he does.

Violet Hayes has had a rough life. When she was young, she was left with no family and the memory of her parents' unsolved murders. She grew up in foster homes, living with irresponsible parents, drugs, and neglect, and trying to fight the painful memories of the night her parents were taken from her. But it's hard to forget when she never got closure-and she can't stop dreaming about what happened that tragic night. To make it through life, she keeps her distance from everyone and never allows herself to feel anything.

Then Violet meets Luke. The two clash instantly, yet they can't seem to stay away from each other. Although they fight it, they both start to open up and feel things they've never felt before. They discover just how similar they are. But they also discover something else: The past always catches up with you . . .

Buy The Destiny of Violet & Luke at Amazon

Number 2
The Invention of Wings
Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world.

Hetty "Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty-five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.
As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.
This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

Buy The Invention of Wings at Amazon

Number 1
Hollow City
The extraordinary journey that began in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London the peculiar capital of the world. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner. Like its predecessor, this second novel in the Peculiar Children series blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reacting experience.

Buy Hollow City at Amazon

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate;  a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above link. Covers and descriptions from

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January 28, 2014

Review: Flesh and Bone by Jefferson Bass

When I saw Flesh and Bone by Jefferson Bass as the Friday Freebie, it was a no brainer to grab it. I've been a long time fan of the television show Bones. I love science; throw in a murder mystery and I've got the perfect read. What I wasn't expecting was how emotional the story line would be.

Have you heard of the body farm at University of Tennessee? (It was featured on an episode of Bones). If not, it is basically a laboratory where they study decomposition of human bodies. Way cool to think about, but definitely disgusting to see. Just a little background if you are as unfamiliar with the Body Farm series and the author Jefferson Bass as I was.

Buy Flesh and Bone at Amazon

Jefferson Bass is not one author, but two. Dr. Bill Bass is a forensic anthropologist and the founder of UT's body farm. Jon Jefferson is a journalist and filmmaker. I don't usually give a lot of detail about the authors in my reviews, but I thought it was important since it speaks to the detail and writing style.

Flesh and Bone reads as if it was ripped from the headlines. It is told in the well laid out manner of an unfolding murder investigation. The attention to well placed details add a richness to the story that makes you forget you are reading fiction. And the details are not of the procedural nature, but gives the reader a full immersion experience involving all the senses.

I should probably forewarn readers that the first chapter does give gory details of the body farm. In college, I was able to dissect a cat and then go straight to lunch, so I was fine reading this during my lunch hour. But since I know my lunch mates in college were not impressed with my comparison of the cat's fascia along the abdominal wall to the beef macaroni we were eating. If you tend to have a bit of a weak stomach you may not want to start this book at lunch time.

Flesh and Bone is actually book two in the Body Farm series. I haven't read book one, but I did not feel like I was missing anything. I actually forgot there was a book before this one until I was saw it on Goodreads listed as book two.

I became very attached to the main character Dr. Bill Brockton. In Flesh and Bone, he isn't the expert witness for the high profile murder, but the accused. It was actually pretty scary how things can be interpreted when one fully believes the accused is guilty. I know everyone looks for the easy answers for their job and as long as all the boxes are checked, then why look for any other possible answers? It made for quite the intense read. I will definitely be looking for more books in this series from Jefferson Bass.

Book info
Available formats: ebook (448 pages), audio, and print
Published: October 2009 by HarperCollins
ISBN13: 9780061827440
Source: purchased
Read: December 2013

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate;  a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above link. Free book was provided by the source.

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January 27, 2014

Meet Annabelle Blume

What made you decide to be an author? 
It wasn’t an epiphany type of thing. One thing lead to another and lead to another and I realized I wanted to make a career of it. When I look back, I can see all of the times I ignored the signs throughout my life, but I still believe it all happened the way it was supposed to.

What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least?
I love telling stories. Love it. I see every book I write as a way to plant seeds in people’s minds. I have the same goal with my advice column as The Bombshell Mommy

What is the best advice you’ve received about this journey?
The best advice I have received was from Best Selling YA author E. Van Lowe. He told me, “Write your story, even if you think the market is dead, because no one is going to tell it like you.”

Old Flame
What do you wish you’d known before you began?
I wish I’d given myself more credit. I did all the research on how to write a query letter, a synopsis, took classes on self-editing, I knew the rate of rejections and how slim my chances were. What I forgot to do was believe in myself and my story. I was completely caught off guard when I got requests for fulls and then offers. I had only prepared for rejections.

What do you do when you aren’t writing?
I have three kids, a husband, and three dogs (plus two fish and two hermit crabs). So, I’m doing any and all things pertaining to them.

Buy Old Flame at Amazon

If you could only eat three foods what would they be and why?
Fettuccine Alfredo, Caesar Salad, and Chocolate. Why? Because they are DELICIOUS.

What would you like to do other than writing if talent/skill didn’t matter?
Oh wow, this is always the hardest question for me. I really wanted to be a geneticist when I was in highs school. Even though the field still interests me, I’m very anti-GMO and I suspect there would have been few options for me in the field with Monsanto’s power these days.

Where is your favorite vacation spot and why?
Hawaii is paradise. It’s not a joke. It’s not an exaggeration. It is paradise. I haven’t been there in 15 years, but I’d probably move there if I could.

How do you see your career in five years?
You know, I’m not so great at the 5 year plan thing. I just hope to still be making a living doing what I love.

What are you currently working on?
At this very moment, I’m working on some freelance articles, but when those are turned in, I will be starting Book 2 in the Hearts Aflame Files.

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Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate;  a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above link. The views, opinions, and beliefs of contributing writers are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads. 

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