Tuesday, May 31, 2011

EXCERPT: Driven by Shellie Neumeier

From a comfortable height above the trees, Sebastian circled the abandoned paper mill, drinking in the atmosphere of dereliction and decay surrounding the property. This place has more character than most of the humans I know. Half broken windows winked like the evil eyes of wayward souls, while snow drifts gathered in the corners. The wind toyed with the snow, whipping trails that could chill his feet and ankles. If he had feet and ankles, that is.

Slipping through a second-story window, Sebastian watched a rat scurry across the dusty floor in a dash for the shadows. Like an angry cloud—black as asphalt, thick as cigar smoke—Sebastian floated after the rodent, watching with mild interest as it raced for another shadow and nearly collided with an old tom cat whose eyes glowed bright with hunger. The tom sprang, but Sebastian turned away. He didn’t have time for these cat and mouse games today, no matter how much he enjoyed them. He had bigger game to consider, and as he moved over the room, he thought about the girl he’d come to destroy.

Sebastian peered through the panel of small rectangular windows overlooking the town of Brookfield, fifty in all, though most were broken, and he yawned as he watched the town stretch with morning life. Humans filtered in and out of the corner diner, scampered about in their shiny cars, and huddled against the wind in mindless oblivion. Sebastian’s mouth curled into a sneer.

The chill of something sinister invaded his airy form. Turning, he watched his master rise above him like the heavy black curtain of a Broadway stage. Sebastian shuddered; if he had skin, it would have crawled. The master’s eyes glowed yellow—the only indication that he was not merely a cloud of coal dust, but something far more dangerous.

“Your host is ripe, Sebastian,” the master said. The voice sounded sweet, like a lover’s call, and Sebastian had to concentrate in order to keep his focus on the task at hand. With a shiver, either from fear incited by the master’s voice or in anticipation of human possession—he knew not which, nor did he care—Sebastian billowed out to his largest, most impressive form.

“Your timing is superlative, as usual, sir.”

As if Sebastian had not spoken, the master went on. “The human dabbled in spirit calling and witchcraft and is quite receptive to our temptations. This should be an easy possession for you, even if the human is a teen.”

Sebastian deflated a little, his voice falling into a whine. “But, sir, I despise working among teenagers. They. . .”


FOR MORE INFORMATION: http://shellieneumeier.com/

Monday, May 23, 2011

EXCERPT: When Darkness Tries To Hide By Stacy Padula

Chapter 1

Andy Rosetti woke up Thursday morning with his heart pounding. It was 5:33 a.m., and he did not have to get up for another hour. He glanced around his bedroom anxiously, wondering what had interrupted his sleep. Everything seemed at peace in his room, yet his heart was still pounding against his chest. Suddenly the sound of heavy raindrops hitting his window caught his attention. Instantly his bedroom became illuminated with bluish-white light. Within two seconds, crackling thunder erupted. Andy’s heart began to pound more heavily. He took a deep breath and placed his head in his hands.

Andy had hated thunderstorms his entire life. The thought of his house getting struck by lightning terrorized him during every storm. He knew the storm was right above his house as lightning and thunder began erupting simultaneously. Burying his head beneath his pillow, Andy attempted to fall back to sleep. Three crashes of thunder later, he knew it was a lost cause.

Andy’s cell phone began vibrating on his nightstand. He grabbed a hold of it, fearing the worst. Who would call him at 5:36 a.m.? He glanced at the caller ID and smiled. Lisa Ankerman.

“I figured the storm was keeping you awake,” she greeted Andy as he answered the phone. “I thought you might like a distraction.”

“You’re good,” Andy laughed, feeling his heartbeat slow down at the sound of his best friend’s voice. “Woke you up too, huh?”

“Yeah, we’re going to have horrific weather today,” Lisa replied. “My game’s probably going to be cancelled.”

“Jeff and I planned on watching you and Chantal cheer,” Andy said, throwing the covers over his head. “If the game’s cancelled, we should all hang out at my house or something.”

“I made plans with Leslie for after the game,” Lisa replied. “We’ll keep our plans even if the game is cancelled.”

“You sound like you’re up to no good,” Andy sang, knowing Lisa all too well. Lisa laughed, “You can tag along if you’d like.”

“Nah, not today,” Andy replied quickly. “Chantal would kill me, and I can’t make a habit of traveling that road. Once this week was enough.”

“You’re such a goody-goody,” Lisa sighed, “but I love you for it.”

“I’m Class President. I have huge responsibilities,” Andy stated sarcastically. “Seriously, what would you guys do without me?”

“Oh yeah, I’m sure we’d fall apart,” Lisa laughed. “All right, I’m going to hop in the shower before we lose the power. I’ll see you at your locker, all right?”

“Sure thing,” Andy replied. “Thanks for calling, Lis.”

“Only cause I love you that much,” Lisa said. “Bye, Andy.”

“Bye,” Andy sang, flipping shut his cell phone. Lisa had been Andy’s best friend since childhood. She knew him better than anyone else did. Andy smiled, grateful to have such a caring best friend. He glanced at his alarm clock, deciding it was time to start his day.


Since September, Chris Dunkin had made a habit of praying each morning before school. He found the days he skipped prayer to be arduous. School, which used to be a giant social playground for Chris, had become a war zone.

Something amazing had happened to Chris, but no one wanted to hear about it. It seemed as if his classmates liked him better as a burnout than a competent jock. Chris never had trouble getting people’s attention before. He had always been the center of everything worth paying attention to. No one had ever questioned his leading. Everyone had always followed him with ease, but now they were abrasive.

Whenever Chris had found out about a new drug circulating, a new bridge to jump off, or a new pit to party at, everyone had extolled him. Now that he had found something greater than all of the above, no one would listen to him. In the past month, kids at school had begun throwing strange glances in his direction. He knew it was the result of Jason’s rumors.

Chris’s childhood best friend, Jason Davids, was a punk. Quick witted, articulate, and as charismatic as anyone could be, Jason was a harbinger of destruction. He could make people laugh like no one else, and everyone loved him for it. His words were as slick as black ice. He was usually high during five of the eight periods in a day, yet he pulled off As in every class. To top it off he dated one of the Kagelli twins, whom everyone wanted to get with. Jason knew how to work the system.

Chris and Jason had been best friends for ten years. Chris had never expected Jason to turn on him with such force. What grieved Chris’s heart was not the harm done to his reputation, his tainted image, or the strange way people were treating him. He couldn’t have cared less about what people thought of him. What grieved his heart was that he knew where Jason was headed. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” When Chris had read that in Proverbs, he knew God was ministering to him about Jason.

Getting on his knees at the end of his bed, Chris prayed, “Father, help. Despite what Jay is doing to me, I still love him like a brother. I want him to come to know You. He needs You. He needs to see that he is in darkness and that everything he is living for is futile. Please open his eyes. Please, whatever it takes, bring him to the end of himself.”

For More Information: http://stacypadula.com.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Amazon.com Reviews – A How To Guide for Authors

Recently, I highlighted a book on this blog sent to me by the author. When I checked the book on Amazon.com I noticed there were no reviews. Usually, this would mean the book may not be very good. However, I noticed the book was published by a company I am familiar with and one I'm sure wouldn't put their name on a book that wouldn't sell.

Why were there no reviews?

Granted, it was a new book, only out for about two months. But many authors have reviews ready, some before the book is officially launched. I suspect this particular publisher relies more on sales through their own website and isn't as interested in Amazon.com. However, let's face it, Amazon is where many buyers turn for books. As authors, we need to use Amazon to help sell books as much as possible.

The notes below are from my own experience. However, I have read Brent Sampson's book, Sell Your Book on Amazon, and you may want to check it for more information.

A higher number of reviews implies a higher number of sales. A potential buyer would think books with more reviews are more popular and therefore, must be good. Karen Kingsbury's Leaving, published by Zondervan less than two months ago has 355 reviews.

Amazon reviews are rated with 1-5 stars, with 5 being the best. A potential buyer would think If all reviews are fours or fives, they are probably written by friends of the author and therefore not as reliable as books with some lower-rated reviews. Of the 355 reviews, Kingsbury's Leaving has 302 five stars, 31 four stars, 13 three stars, 5 two stars, and 4 one stars. That's a good mix. Remember, ratings are very subjective. Some readers save their five star ratings for Pulitzer Prize winning books, while others will give a one star to a book just because the author changed her genre since the last book.

At the end of each review is this question: Was this review helpful to you? followed by a Yes button and a No button. When checked, the results are tallied and presented at the beginning of each review in the form of x of y people found the following review helpful: As you might think, even these x and y numbers may affect book sales. What this implies to the potential buyer is that x + y people are interested enough in the book that they have read and commented on the review. Authors should periodically click the Yes and No buttons of reviews for their books to increase the numbers.

How do you get reviews?

To get reviews on Amazon, start with your friends. They're going to buy books anyway, or perhaps you've given them a complimentary copy because they helped you with the book by being an early reader. If your friends are not familiar with writing or posting reviews, teach them.

Next, find bloggers who write reviews for free copies of books. There are many of them, myself included. Most of us stay busy and will not take on more than we can handle, so you may need to look around to find the right person at the time you need the review. Also, these reviewers tend to specialize in what they review. Recent laws have made it necessary for reviewers who receive free books to say so. However, I don't feel this takes away from the review since they are not obligated to give a good review.

Writing book reviews helps publicize your book.

If you haven't already done so, you may want to review books you have read to get a feel for how it works and to get your name out there on the Internet more. If you bought the book through Amazon.com, be sure to go to the edition you purchased before submitting your review. Why? Because Amazon will say your review is based on a verified purchase and that will add credibility. I recently reviewed Already Home by Susan Mallery and forgot to switch to the Kindle edition before posting my review, so, even though I had paid for the book, the review doesn't include the verified purchase message. I wish Amazon would change to where they would check all editions automatically.

Another benefit of writing reviews for Amazon is that you can post the same review elsewhere. I use Goodreads and Shelfari. This gives you more hits on your name when someone Google's you. That, in turn, leads to more book sales.

Have you had experience with book reviews? If so, let me hear from you.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

EXCERPT: Rainn On My Parade by LoRee Peery

Get a grip, woman, and act your age.

The sirens drew close. She soon heard activity below, but she kept her eyes clamped shut.

“Hold on, Ms. Carson. Don’t be scared,” a disembodied voice that didn’t belong to her future son-in-law spoke from below. “Just hold on.”

“I assure you, I’m too scared to let go.” Geneva’s voice quivered. But she couldn’t help smiling at her predicament.

The extension ladder whirred softly and creaked as it reached for the top branches of the tree.

She squeezed her eyes tighter.

“I’m right behind you now.”

“Thank you, Lord.”

“Not God, just me.”

The firefighter chuckled.

Her eyes popped open when she felt him close behind. Thankful for the cropped-pajama bottoms she wore instead of a nightgown, Geneva frowned at the unexpected shiver as she attempted to place the voice.

“Whenever you’re ready, just let go.”

“Thought you told me to hold on.”

“Well, I’m here to catch you now.”

She caught the humor in his voice. And hated it.

“Oh, good grief. I’m too heavy for anybody to catch me.” She lowered her eyes to half mast.

“Spunky, most likely,” came from under his breath.

She doubted he meant for her to hear.

Is that professional behavior? Well, that’s pretty nervy of the guy. But then again, I am caught in a tree. She snickered, wondering if she was hysterical. She tried for a deep breath but it turned into a gulp around her sternum. “Are you sure I can let go?”

“Geneva, trust me.” That popped her eyes wide open.

The confident urging voice and the use of her first name drew enough courage to peer downward.

Rainn Harris.

And he was way too close for comfort.

Eric would never live this down at the firehouse. His future mother-in-law rescued from a tree, by his buddy.

She remembered her first look at him. Rainn was a few years older than Eric, but they became fast friends when they met at University. Geneva may have heard Rainn’s name a time or two before Eric started working on Moselle’s loft, but she hadn’t any reason to pay attention. Since then, she’d seen him with Eric many times.

Rainn probably knew more about her than she did him.

Before she could fathom any further thought, Geneva let go and found herself wrapped in the strongest arms and pressed against the strongest chest imaginable.
I’d climb the tree again if this firefighter would come for me.

For More Information:

Redeeming grace with a sense of place
Moselle's Insurance and Rainn on My Parade

Monday, May 16, 2011

EXCERPT: Kaydie by Penny Zeller

Since the death of her abusive husband, Kaydie Kraemer’s life has been easier, but she’s wary of men and builds a wall of protection around her, staying with her sister McKenzie as she awaits the birth of her baby. Haunted by her painful marriage, Kaydie is determined never to fall in love again, and it will take the grace of God to change her mind—the same grace that works in the heart of ranch hand Jonah Dickenson, a confirmed bachelor who has unhealed wounds of his own to overcome.

Jonah opened the door and stepped inside the house, and that’s when he saw her. Sleeping peacefully with a miniature baby quilt-in-progress spread across her lap was Kaydie Kraemer, McKenzie’s younger sister. Her head rested against the back of the fancy blue chair McKenzie had ordered from Boston; her long, wavy blonde hair cascaded over her right shoulder; and her petite, stocking-clad feet were propped on the bottom rung of a nearby chair. Her slender arms were folded across her belly, and her rosy lips were parted slightly as she breathed with a soft, feminine snore. Jonah stopped for a moment to take in the sight, struck by the beauty before him.

Jonah knew something of Kaydie’s past and of her marriage to a cruel husband named Darius. He knew she’d suffered at his hands, and that he had died in a bank robbery gone awry. From what McKenzie had told him, Kaydie’s married life had been anything but peaceful. However, reclined in the chair—which looked completely out of place in the otherwise rustic, sparsely decorated living room—she had an aura of peace about her that tugged at the deep recesses of Jonah’s heart.

He glanced at the fireplace and saw that the fire had gone out, save for the small glow of an ember hidden in one of the black logs. Kaydie must have been sleeping for some time. Was she cold? Should he cover her up with a blanket? Jonah gulped at the unexpected concern he felt, and he debated whether to go back outside and return later so as not to continue violating Kaydie’s privacy. Where was everyone else? His mind returned to the noises he’d heard in the barn. No doubt Zach and McKenzie were out there with Davey. McKenzie took as much delight in swinging from the rope in the barn and falling into the hay pile as Davey did.

As quietly as he could, Jonah walked over to the table and set down the box of goods. He then turned and tiptoed toward Kaydie, pausing for a moment to pick up the large crocheted blanket from the wooden chair next to the fireplace.

When he reached Kaydie’s chair, he carefully lifted the small baby quilt she had been working on and replaced it with the larger, much warmer, crocheted blanket. He spread it gently over her shoulders, hoping not to disturb her, and made sure it covered her completely. Next, he would stoke the fire, he thought as he smoothed out the blanket. He knew next to nothing about pregnant women but figured it was important to keep them warm.

The blanket nearly covered Kaydie’s legs when she opened her eyes and gasped. “What are you doing?” she exclaimed.

Jonah stood up straight and held up his arms defensively. “Kaydie! Uh, you were sleeping, and I…uh—”

“Get away from me, please,” she said, her voice trembling.

“I…uh, all right.” Jonah took a step back from her and watched as she leaned back as far as the chair would allow and pulled the blanket tightly around her. “Kaydie…” he began, intending to explain himself.

“I don’t know what you were doing, but please leave,” she said.

“I walked in and saw you sleeping. The fire had almost burned out, so I thought I’d cover you with a warmer blanket. I—I didn’t want you to be cold.”

“I wasn’t cold,” Kaydie insisted.

“That’s good,” said Jonah. “I was going to get the fire going again, too.”

“Do you make a habit of sneaking up on people, Mr. Dickenson?” Kaydie demanded…

Excerpt from pages 27, 28, & 29 of Kaydie by Penny Zeller, © 2011, with permission of the publisher, Whitaker House (www.whitakerhouse.com). 

Website link  www.pennyzeller.com
blog link  www.pennyzeller.wordpress.com
book trailer link

Saturday, May 14, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Nick of Time by Tim Downs

The books I like best make me laugh, cry, gasp, and stay awake at night thinking about the characters. Nick of Time caused me to chuckle. Two or three times.

Nick Polchak, a forensic entomologist, who apparently is more comfortable around dead people than live ones, surprises his few friends by announcing he is getting married to Alena Savard. Alena, a dog trainer who lives alone in a double-wide mobile home in the Virginia woods, has fewer friends than Nick does, if you don't count her pack of dogs.

Nick is a member of the Vidocq Society, a group of forensic specialists who meet in Philadelphia monthly to investigate cold cases. He is enticed to attend a meeting just a week before the wedding. Alena is not too happy about Nick leaving her with all the wedding preparations. But he feels he must go. He gets her a cell phone and, since there is no cell service where she lives, they agree for her to go into Endor each night so he can call her.

At the meeting, Nick learns the friend and fellow member of the Society who had asked him to come to the meeting had been killed. His death is apparently related to a cold case he was working on. While investigating the murder, Nick ends up in jail and is not able to call Alena. When Nick doesn't call for several days, Alena wonders if he is in trouble or is getting cold feet about their marriage. Either way, she decides to find him, taking three dogs with her. One for protection, one for tracking, and one to find a dead body.

For the rest of the book, Nick searches for the killer while Alena searches for Nick. Both stories are interesting. She proves to be as good an investigator as he is and she would have found him quickly if she had not been misdirected by people she trusted.

Does Nick find the killer? Does Alena find Nick? Do they get married? You'll have to read the book to find out.

Nick of Time is well structured and well written. There are places where I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened next. Unfortunately, there weren't enough such places.

My main criticism of the book is that the characters never came alive for me. Nick and Alena were alike as advertised on the back of the book. But there could have been some differences. Even the supporting characters sounded a lot like Nick to me.

Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” After reading the book, I donated it to a church library.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Where Love Once Lived Reviews Keep Coming

Another review of Where Love Once Lived was posted on Amazon.com and several other sites last week. This one had some insights into the book that made me feel great. I know some of you have mentioned some of these aspects of the books, but no one has written about it the way Jan Marie from Indiana has. Here is what she said:

Most of the books that I read, and there are many (just ask my long-suffering husband), by male authors are books about mystery and suspense, filled with breath-taking action and adventure. Therefore, when I heard about this book, written by a male author, and learned it was not the usual fare but was, instead, a love story, I wondered how a love story might be presented by a male author. I was very interested to see if it would be very different from a love story written from a female perspective. Mr. Frost has written a truly touching, heartfelt, and romantic story. He has done an excellent job of portraying the love from the viewpoint of the male figure. In Brian, Mr. Frost has molded a character who portrays the attributes that Christ demands of a husband in Ephesians 5:25-33 (KJV) when He says, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church..."

This is not a story about the love of a young person who is discovering love for the first time. It is about a love that is seasoned, a love that endures the test of time and still burns just as brightly, if not more so, as it did in its youth. For anyone who has ever doubted the power of love, I recommend that you read this moving story of two people who made mistakes and consequently lost that first love and their subsequent journey to recover it. In a very realistic and heartfelt manner, we see how how each of the lovers dealt with those mistakes. One drew closer to God while the other turned away. Through it all, God remained constant and steadfast, never-changing, never failing. This is truly a story that demonstrates the truth of the scripture in 1 Corinthians 13:4 (KJV) that says, "Charity suffereth long, and is kind..." Since Cruden's Bible Concordance tells us that the word charity is also translated to mean love, then we could substitute the word love in this scripture to read that "Love suffereth long, and is kind..." Indeed, the love that Brian and Karen share and the love that Christ displays to them most definitely fit this description.

But, will love be enough to overcome all of the past mistakes? Will love endure when the secrets that both Karen and Brian have hidden from each other are revealed? Will it be enough to surmount all of the obstacles that stand in the way? Can love break down the barricades of hurt and bitterness that have been allowed to fester and flourish? Is it strong enough to bring about healing and forgiveness? For the answers to these and many other questions, you will have to read the book. I am pleased to recommend this debut novel by Sid Frost and eagerly anticipate reading his future writings.

I received a copy of this book from the author for review purposes. I was not obligated to provide a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

Here is the Amazon.com link to the review: http://www.amazon.com/review/R3SDODD9VGMZD6/. I hope you will all click on and then click Yes to answer the question, Was this review helpful to you?

Also, please visit Jan's blog, spashesofjoy and comment to let her know what you think about the review.