Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tips for writers

Some tips for success as a writer

·        Distractions are all around you.  Eliminate as many as you can while you are writing.
·        Don’t focus on money or “making it big.”  Set your sights on entertaining your audience and success will come. 
·        Take a mental break between novels.  Too much too quickly can stunt your muse.
·        Don’t give in to doubt.  It will only hold you back from your true potential.  Kick doubt to the curb.
·        Put your mental editor on stand by until you finish your rough draft.  Typos are one thing but complete rewrites are a whole other ball game.  Don’t allow editing to sidetrack your writing efforts.
·        You’re personal observations of your work are more than likely muddy.  Let your readers show if you’re doing a good job or not through their reviews.
·        If you are seeking to follow the route to find an agent, publisher or enter a contest, you need to make your novel shine.  Good isn’t enough.  You need to be a diamond among the ashes. 
·        Good stories are read by friends, family and a small smattering of people.  But exceptional stories are read by the multitude.  Write the best quality novel you can.  Publishing for the sake of publishing is worthless for you and your readers.  Don’t tarnish your name just to publish quickly.
·        Only write what pushes your plot forward.  Cut out the excess, tighten your writing, and make every word count. 
·        Don’t give everything away in the beginning.  Ask questions and let your readers guess the answers.  Tell only what is necessary to keep a reader dangling on the end of your rope.
·        Create a killer first line.  Drag a reader into your book and don’t let them go. 
·        Chapter 1 needs to be full of action. Get their pulses racing and don’t let up. 
·        Share what you have learned with others.  There are countless writers like you who are on the same journey.  Give what you know and help when you can.
·        And most of all…stick to what you love.  I’ve heard it said that you should write what you know.  I say write what you love.  If you are passionate about your novel then your readers are more inclined to be too. 

Creating conflict

When you’re browsing the shelves of your local book store or library, what triggers your mind to pick one book from the slew of those on offer?  What single thing draws you in and piques your interest?  One word.  Conflict.

Without the struggles, the fears, doubts and trials that the characters must face, there really isn’t any point in reading.  Conflict is what drives the book forward, giving you that glimpse of hope that there will be a light at the end of sometimes a lengthy tunnel.  It’s human nature to root on the underdog.  It’s as old as time, but never ceases to sell.

Conflict is the element needed to create successful novels.  The idea of “what’s gonna happen next” keeps you turning the page, devouring thousands of words until the very end.  A truly good book will have multiple conflicts, each one building the tension until you want to explode if you don’t discover the answers. 

You need opposition.  Man vs man, animals, environment or even a battle within your character’s mind.  Up the stakes with each page.  Make them beg for more.

Resolution?  Oh yeah, you gotta have a good one.  Make it believable but if you’re writing multiple books don’t give it all away in the first book.  Set a goal for the character and reach it.  Who wins the battle, catches the bad guy or scores the final touchdown?  But with sequels, trilogys and series you want to keep some questions alive.

With each chapter that you write add more pressure.  Make it pleasantly unbearable for your reader.  Have them salivating! Throw in teaser chapters from your sequel if you really want to pump up the anticipation.

Another thing that you need to consider, because it’s probably going to happen whether you plan it or not, is what theme you are presenting.  Do you have a set or religious beliefs, morals or strong opinions that will come through in your book? 

If you want a theme, you need to be conscious of it as you weave your novel.  If it’s unintentional…well let’s just hope it turned out the way you wanted!

So if you’re working on a novel in the hopes of publishing take a look at what you’ve written and make sure you’ve added enough conflict to keep the book flowing.  Avoid dead spots.  Writers dread them and readers hate them.

In an upcoming blog I will go into details of how to create tension.    

Friday, December 30, 2011

Memorable or Forgettable?

As a writer one of the most enjoyable aspects of creating a new novel is giving birth to new characters.  Who are they?  What drives them?  What little oddities will make them endearing?

I’m an avid reader and that’s probably why I love writing so much.  I grew up as an only child and spent countless hours pouring my heart and soul into books.  I wanted to escape, to become someone that I could never dream to become in real life.  But in order for me to desire that I needed a character that I could relate to.

There are several key “ingredients” that are required to make a solid character. 

1. They need to be unique.  If I open a book and read a card board cut out I immediately put it down.  I want a protagonist that isn’t always a blonde hair, blue eyed bombshell.  Give me stubby toes, chipped fingernails, frizzy hair and thick rimmed glasses that sit askew on the bridge of an oily nose.  Think unique gender, body shape, eye color, hair color and length, ethnicity, clothing style, profession and age.

2. There must be specific goals.  Why does she/he get out of bed every morning?  What are they afraid of?  What little neurotic voices hinder their lives?  Who do they want to be when they grow up (physically and mentally)?

3. I want quirks.  Give me a nail biter, a knuckle popper, an obsessive compulsive, or a chocoholic.  Make them unique.  Demand that they stand out among the crowd.

4. Flaws.  Oh yeah, I want them to be flawed.  Now let me state first that I’m not evil in my love of flaws.  I want my characters to be happy…someday.  But honestly, what’s entertaining about someone who sees all sunshine and roses throughout the entire book?  BORING!  I want issues with the image in the mirror, sneaking a cig in the bathroom on school grounds, trouble with self esteem, an illness.  Something to make them human and not superman. 

5. Co-characters.  Ok, this is a biggie for me.  Since I write teen fantasy, I need characters that grab your attention but don’t steal the thunder.  I need interesting, but not overbearing.  Cute but not gorgeous.  Loveable but not smitten.  You get my drift. 

6. Most importantly.  You need an enemy.  Someone who can stand toe to toe with your hero and not back down.  The epic battle, no matter how small and insignificant you might consider it to be, needs to be set in stone.  No weak enemies please!  They need to be just as well thought out as the protagonist.  And I want to know WHY they do what they do?  Give me back story but don’t flood me with useless details.      

So, with that being said, I want to give you a simple example of my process.  I will use the main character from my new teen fantasy trilogy, Forbidden.

Name: Roseline Enescue
Ethnicity: Romanian, non human, Immortal
Height: 5’6”
Hair: bronze, curls around her waist
Eye color: aqua, glows from within at times
Age: Appears to be a senior in high school, actually 322 years old
Skin tone: Pale, hauntingly beautiful
Body type: slender, curvy
Relationship status: Married to Vladimir Enescue (Dracula), dating Gabriel Marston (highschool football star/closet artist)
Personality: cautious but fiercely loyal

Goals: wants to live the life that was taken from her, hide who she is to fit in with humans so she can experience what being a teen is really like.  To be free of the vampire stigma and her husband’s abusive hand. 

Fears: being found by her husband, her identity discovered, endangering her new friend’s lives, losing Gabriel

Flaws: rebellious, sheltered, feels unworthy of human love, fears unleashing her bitterness towards her husband

Quirks: able to physically regenerate would wounded with the aid of human blood, is immortal, secretes a hormone that drives male’s wild, increased speed, strength, scent, superior reflexes and vision.

Support: Sadie (spunky best friend who adamantly fights for her right to wear whatever she likes by shifting through several wardrobe fascinations).  William (Sadie’s surfer styled brother who follows Roseline around like a love sick puppy), Gabriel (football star whose hidden desires are best portrayed by his secret art gallery in his attic). Fane (handsome Immortal friend who taught Roseline everything she knows, kept her sane over the passing years and instigated a spicy fling once or twice). Nicolae (broody Romanian foreign exchange student who watches Roseline’s every move with hawk like vision, fiercely protective over Sadie, and is hiding a big secret).

Enemy: Husband Vladimir Enescue who slaughtered her entire family on their wedding night.  Sacrificed Roseline’s younger sister in front of her eyes and used her blood to transform Roseline into an Immortal.  And Lucien Enescue, Vladimir’s brother whose love of sadistic mass murders and debauchery are rivaled by none.

Conflict: Roseline has lived her entire life under the false myth that she and her family are vampires.  After centuries of trying to bring out the monster in Roseline, her husband Vladimir finally turns his attentions to a new mistress which gives Roseline the chance to escape.
Upon fleeing to America, Roseline inserts herself into a Chicago prep school with the hopes of blending in.  But after a series of events, Roseline finds herself stuck in the spotlight.  Friendships are formed, a forbidden romance ensues, and Roseline is forced to make the hardest decision of her life.  Stay in her new life and risk the death of her friends, or return to the man she fears most of all to save those she loves.
Forbidden is filled with ups and downs, tension and release.  A page turner until the very end.  But the conflict doesn’t end there.  It’s only the beginning.

 This is a basic idea of how to create a character.  Think outside the box.  Don’t try to repeat anything you’ve read or watched in a movie.  Let your imagination go and have fun.  I’d love to hear what you come up with!

My non-resolutions

Every year millions of people join together to party, kiss at the stroke of midnight and inevitably make New Years resolutions that will more than likely be broken within the first week or so.  Using that new treadmill as a coat hanger?  Classic. Did that enormous piece of gooey chocolate cake hogtie you and force itself down your throat?  Bye-bye diet.

Why do we do such things year in and year out?  I’m sure in some way that could be used as a sign of insanity.  So what about this year?  Will you endeavor to make yet another resolution?

Several years ago I made the decision not to make personal resolutions…at any time of the year.  New Year’s Eve scrooge is what I am.  But I had to have some reason to get out of bed each day, right?

So I decided to make a list.  If you don’t already know me, this is not something abnormal.  I am a list gal.  Too scatterbrained to live without it!

On my list I write my goals for each year.  *BE REALISTIC*  If you don’t have time to spend 4 hours in the gym every day and enjoy eating less than a sparrow, then don’t tell yourself that you want to lose 150lbs in 2012.  That’s just asking for trouble!

I like to write personal goals, of which usually have to do with being more organized so my family life can run smoother.  Hit the gym a bit more, although the Zumba DVD’s that I got for Christmas are really begging to be opened.  And of course learn something new.  Knitting, baking, gardening, engine overhaul (yeah right!) or taking up a new sport.  Whatever my goal might be, I plan my success.

The same thing goes with my writing.  Although I am terrible about planning my books (goal #1) I am fantastic about planning what I want to accomplish.  Last year, in August, was my first real step into self publishing.  And oh my goodness did I have a lot to learn!  I’m still learning.  It’s a process.

I managed to publish book 1 of the Rising trilogy, and followed up with book 1 of the Arotas trilogy.  Throw in a short Christmas story in December and I’m feeling pretty awesome from my efforts.

Some might look at that and say “wow, that’s amazing.  You can sit back and wait for the money to roll in.”  Hardly!  I didn’t dream of writing ONE book or even three.  This is something I want for the rest of my life.  So if you love my books, get ready for a busy 2012.  If you don’t…yeah I can’t really help you with that one!

My goals for 2012:  (widely pliant due to a finicky muse)

·        Roseline’s Novella- her life between becoming an Immortal and her escape from Romania.
·        Arotas- sequel to Forbidden (rough draft is nearing completion)
·        Collide- new teen thriller (in re-write stage)
·        Relinquish- sequel to Defiance Rising (dependent on my sister-in-laws schedule once she had two little ones running around her house)
·        New book idea- had a dream which turned into a homework assignment for my writers group and it has massive potential.  (brainstorming and loving it!)
·        And of course write the third installment for the Arotas Trilogy.  Don’t ask me anything about it.  I don’t know yet!

So these are some huge goals but I know I’m capable of it.  6 books in 12 months?  Is that doable?  Certainly.  The best part is most of them are all in various stages of being written so I’m already ahead of the game.  And of course I will be entering Forbidden in this years Amazon competition.  Super excited to see how it does.

What are your goals for reaching your dreams in 2012? 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Crossed by Ally Condie

Crossed: Book 2 of the Matched Trilogy

I was shocked when I was browsing the new teen release section of my library a couple days ago when I found Crossed sitting nonchalantly on the shelf.  No way!  I’ve had this book on order for almost a month and now it’s just sitting there?  So not fair.

But was I going to walk out of there without it tucked under me arm. Heck no! 

Total reading time…somewhere around two days, with a whole lot of housework, cooking baking and Christmas present wrapping mingled in.  So I’d say that’s not too bad considering the time of year.

Initial thoughts:  Loved the first half and then I got bored.  I was so excited that Crossed didn’t seem to have that middle book syndrome that bores you with details and not enough action.  I was enthralled from page one.  But somewhere around the middle it just went blah for me.

I get that Ally Condie had to continue the question of who Cassia would choose, Ky or Xander.  But it seemed to me that she made Ky too despondent.  Their interaction became rather annoying to be honest.  After fighting through so much to find each other, wouldn’t you think they’d be MORE thrilled when they meet up?  I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I felt let down.

I did enjoy some new characters that were introduced into the book.  Their unique personalities added a wealth of diversity to the story.  I also enjoyed getting to know more of what Earth might look like outside of the Society.  The “bad lands” as I would call them. 

The ending was decent but I didn’t exactly feel gripped.  When the third book comes out I will read it just so I know how the trilogy will end but I’m not gnawing off my nails waiting for it.  Pity.  I had such high hopes when the book first began. 

Overall rating: 4 stars because it was an enjoyable read.   

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Trylle Series

If you’re an Amanda Hocking fan, like me, you’re waiting anxiously for Amanda’s new Trylle trilogy to arrive in bookstores. 

After reading one of her posts on Facebook earlier today, I flipped over to her link of the newly released book trailer for Switched.  I must say that even though I’ve already read the books the trailer made it even cooler.

Can’t wait for the books to be turned into a movie.  Well done Amanda.  I’m sure you are thrilled with how well loved your books have become.  I can only dream that someday I can experience the same kind of following with my own teen books.

Now I’m trying to decide if I should dare to read Hollowmen, the sequel in Amanda’s chilling post apocalyptic zombie infested world.  I really want to…but I HATE zombies.  They really creep me out!

Blood: Book Review

By: K.J. Wignall

First off…judging by the cover of this book, which I have to admit was rather enticing, I thought this story was going to take on an enticing twist.  Sadly, no.

Blood is K.J. Wignall’s first novel for young adults.  The storyline sounded interesting, the cover was appealing and it sounded like a good book all around.  But in fact it just felt blah to me. 

The story if is of a vampire who awakes from his slumber to torture himself once more for the existence that he never chose for himself, a half-life.  Oddly his target to feed from just happens to be a man who is playing his part in Will’s destiny, drawing back from over 700 years in his past.

There were a small smattering of encounters with spirits that left me confused.  I had to re-read them a couple times to finally understand how they fit into the grand scheme.  The writing style flowed well enough but the storyline fell flat for me.

So much that last night I stopped reading with only 10 pages left in the book…and I honestly didn’t care how the book ended.  Isn’t that sad?  I basically finished the book just because I wanted to be able to give a fair review, just in case it got better.

The ending was anticlimactic bordering pathetically boring.  No flare.  No thrill.  Nothing.  I get that this book is part of a trilogy (I think) but I for one will not be reading it.

For those of you who love Vampire books…who love Vampire romances…this is not a book for you.  The small hint of romance that is given is pretty much crushed by the fact that Eloise tastes like food to Will, and causes him pain when he kisses her.  Not real romantic there!

Overall…3 stars.  And I think that’s being generous. 

If you did enjoy blood the sequel Alchemy will be released in America in Fall 2012.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Shatter Me Book Review

Shatter Me Review

I was recommended that I read Shatter Me and upon reading the book description I rushed straight to my library and put it on hold.  Then waited, rather impatiently I might add, for the book to finally arrive.  I could barely contain my excitement as I rushed home to begin devouring what I was sure would be a “life-changing” tale.


First off, let me preface this by stating that I love dystopian fantasy.  This is my kind of book.  With that being said…I was sorely disappointed with Shatter Me. 

The bits that I disliked:
·        The strike out sentences.  Really?  What was the point in that?
·        The repetitive wording.  Despite the main character’s claim to in fact, “not be insane” the repetition sure made her sound that way.
·        Sentence structure was a bit to get used to.  In places where there should have been punctuations for a pause or continuation of a sentence it was left blank.  My poor mind stuttered over numerous sentences because of that.
·        And lastly…it all felt a bit too X-men to me by the end of the book.  (I love X-Men.)

The bits I did like:
·        I did enjoy the plot line.  Huge potential.  But it certainly didn’t turn out the way I would have liked. 
·        The characters were constructed well enough to draw me in, but unfortunately they didn’t feel unforgettable.  I was really hoping for more.
·        The setting was intriguing.  No spoilers so I can’t go into further detail.

Overall I would rate Shatter Me as a three star.  By the end of the first 30 pages I was so close to giving up on the book completely.  But I stuck with it and accepted the writing style for what is way and did end up enjoying the story.  There will be a sequel at some point…just not sure if I’m going to read it.

BUT…this is simply my opinion, fellow readers and writers.  If you look on Goodreads, Shatter Me has been given a wide variety of reviews.  Read it for yourself and make your own decision.  I would love to hear what you thought.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

The 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel awards are coming!

Starting Jan 23rd you can begin submitting your previously unpublished or self published manuscripts for either general or Young adult categories. 

If you are an aspiring author and are looking for a way to get your book noticed, paid an advance and get a publishing contract then head over to amazon to check out their submission guidelines!

I can’t wait to submit my new teen fantasy, Forbidden, into the contest! 

Goodreads...why you should sign up!

If you are a reader, and especially if you are a writer, you need to be on  It is a fantastic website that offers you the latest reviews by fans, contests to win free books and a great place to meet and greet with your favorite authors. 

I have only been a member for a short while and boy do I wish I’d stumbled across it ages ago.  As an author I have already been able to meet some of the people that have fallen in love with my books, always a pleasure!  And I get to share my thoughts on my favorite books. 

Sign up is free…and no I don’t get paid anything to recommend it!  I just love the service that Goodreads offers to readers and authors alike!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Christmas Messenger

I have just finished putting the final touches on my new Christmas short story, The Christmas Messenger. 

Have you ever wondered what the angels were thinking during the events leading up to Jesus' birth? The Christmas Messenger is a short story that gives you a glimpse of one angel's role in bringing forth the Savior. Experience Gabriel's doubts, his confusion and his joy as he walks step by step with the people whose faith changed the world.
This short story is now available on Smashwords in all ereader formats and will be available on Amazon within 48 hours for only $0.99

If you or someone you love are looking for a new version of the traditional heartwarming Christmas story, then The Christmas Messenger might just be what you are looking for. 

This Christmas I want to share the love that I have for Jesus with as many people as I can.  If you download The Christmas Messenger and enjoy it, please tell your friends and church family's so together we can help pass on the good news of what this season is really all about. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Review: Hollowland

Book Review: Hollowland by Amanda Hocking

Let me preface this by saying that I hate zombie movies.  I tried watching that English zombie movie, 28 days later…or maybe it was weeks…either way, I made it through the initial scene and still to this day have nightmares about it. Needless to say Zombies are not my thing.  But…

Amanda Hocking is brilliant when she promotes the release of new books.  Since Hollowmen was about to be released she gave away a free eBook copy of Hollowland and who can pass down a free book?  Not me apparently!

So there I was.  New book and the thrill of meeting new characters, even though I highly doubted many of them would survive long in a zombie horror book.  I dove in, cringing I might add, with both feet.

Two things I noticed right away. 
1. Amanda Hocking’s books are flowing better now that she has more writing under her belt.  Well done Amanda!
2. It wasn’t nearly gruesome as I’d thought it would be.

That being said I made the enormous mistake of reading a good portion of the middle late at night.  Not even the gentle snores erupting from my husband could calm my nerves.  The lights went out…and that’s when the magic began.

My mind went berserk.  Every creak in the house, howl of the wind as it buffeted against the siding or the obnoxious groan of my dog sent my imagination into hyper drive.  It was a long night!  That’s when you can confidently say that you’ve read a good book.

But did I enjoy Hollowland?  Hard to say really.  Probably best to answer that after I’ve had a good nights sleep!

I did enjoy that for the first time Amanda Hocking created a kick butt kind of heroine.  Remy is bold, confident and ready to survive.  I liked that!

The characters were engaging, wording flowed far better than previous books and only a couple typos! 

Overall I would rate this book as a 4 out of 5 stars because I’m sure if you like zombies this would be a great book.  For me it was entertaining…and I might even take a peek at the sequel.

Note to parents: PLEASE read this book before you let your child get their hands on it.  Judge the content for youself! 

Book Review: Vanish by Sophie Jordan

Book Review: Vanish by Sophie Jordan

The sequel to Sophie Jordan’s Firelight did not disappoint.  The tales of forbidden love have always been a favorite of mine and the Firelight series has been a favorite of mine since the day I stumbled across it a year ago.

The idea of Draki, a dragon/human shape shifter was certainly a nice change from the norm.  Throw into the mix a destiny that  would force Jacinda into the arms of her people’s prince and a mother who will risk at nothing to save her daughter from being used to breed other fire breathing dragons and you get a very interesting turn of events.

Jacinda is forced to leave her people behind and hide out in the desert where her mother hopes her Draki will wither and die.  The hot dry temps nearly succeed until Jacinda meets Will, a Draki hunter and her lifelong enemy.

The forbidden love triangle progresses with thrilling events and skillful prose on the part of Sophie Jordan.  The end of Firelight is a huge cliff hanger and leaves you begging for more.  Enter Vanish.   

After a rare turn of events, Jacinda is forced to leave Will behind, with the doubt that he will even remember her.  Jacinda’s return to her people is filled with trouble as punishment after punishment is handed out.  Her life becomes not only miserable but complicated as her people’s prince, Cassian, reveals his feelings for Jacinda. 

She almost tricks herself into believing she can start over until Will walks right into the heart of her village.  Events race with furious speeds all the way until the end.  Another cliff hanger and more groans at the reality of having to wait for the next book to be released!

Love the writing, love the characters and love Sophie Jordan.  A must read for any teen looking for a good romantic story!

Should you pay for a book review?

This is a question that I have asked myself quite a bit.  Should book bloggers/reviewers charge authors to review their books? 

My honest opinion…no.  But that’s just me.  I write for the same reason I read.  I love doing it!  It’s an escape and I know many of you feel the same way.

On my blog I offer free book reviews to anyone who writes in genres that I enjoy.  The only charge is that you give me a free copy of your ebook.  Not bad eh?  I thought so!

Why am I writing about this?  Because this subject has been broached a couple times recently.  Self published authors fight tooth and nail to get their name and books out there.  It’s rough…especially when sales are slow and editor/book cover costs keep rising.  How are we to earn a living to help support our families when we have to pay for book reviews too?

That is why I offer free book reviews.  Because it’s the right thing to do to help my fellow authors.  I’m always in need of someone willing to give me a fair review just as so many others are.  To charge just seems wrong to me…but that is for each person to decide.  Is it worth $200 dollars to get a single book review that may or may not go in your favor? 

You decide.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I'm a winner!

I did it!  I completed 50,000 words during the month of November.  Well done to all of you who have done the same and to those of you struggling to finish...stop watching tv, reading a book or goofing off on Facebook.  Write! thoughts on this journey for those of you who haven't attempted this feat yet.

  • Trying to work on a sequel which takes a lot of thinking and planning is not a good idea for Nano
  • Editing...yeah I still have to do it as I go!
  • Word counter how I love to hate you!
  • Writing buddies are invaluable
  • The feeling you get when you know you've reached your goal...PRICELESS!
For those of you who have never given Nano a try I highly suggest you do so next year. 

Many people look at the 50,000 word mark and convince themselves they can't do it.  Trust can be done but it takes a lot of effort, time management and a good idea.

My goal for next year's Nano:
  • start a completely new project for Nano
  • stop obsessively updating my word count
  • spend time helping others reach their goals
  • increase word count to 70,000
  • do my "I did it" dance again!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Idea behind Forbidden...

I’ve had the question posed to me about how I came up with the idea for Forbidden.  Honestly, I was sick and tired of reading the typical cliché vampire novel.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Twilight and many of the other vampire books on the book shelves today…but I needed a break.  I read my way through Werewolves, Dragons and angles before I finally decided I wanted to step out of the norm.

The idea of Immortality has always been somewhat of a fascination of mine.  To live forever.  What on earth would you do with yourself?  Surely after a couple hundred years you would have seen and done everything there was to do.  Then what?

So I wanted to take a popular theme and give it a major twist.  I told my husband a couple months ago while we were on a drive that I wanted to do a book on Immortals.  I had no clue where I wanted to go with it but it was an idea that I couldn’t drop.

I knew that I wanted it set it Romania.  I loved the picturesque country side, the quaint buildings and wealth of history.  And since I wanted my Immortal to be rather old I needed her to live in a castle.  I flipped through page after page of stunning castles and stumbled upon one that just felt right.  At the bottom of the picture it had a caption.  Castle Bran.  Dracula’s castle.

Now that’s where the wheels in my head really started grinding.  The legend of Dracula had always fascinated me.  Sorry Twilight fans, but I grew up with vampires that didn’t glitter or choose a mountain lion as a main course.  So I wanted to explore the idea of the sadistic version of vampires that people used to be accustomed to.  But there came in the kicker.  I DIDN”T want to write a vampire novel.

So low and behold the twist came into play.  Immortals that needed human blood to heal when wounded and became addicted to blood like a human on pain killers.  I delved into the idea of changed behaviors, personality shifts that led to the degradation of one Vladimir Enescue, Roseline’s husband and legendary Dracula.  In my book, Forbidden, my characters live the lives that lead to the creation of the Vampire myth. 

Now of course I didn’t want my heroin to be evil.  Far from it.  I wanted to show that even surrounded but such vile filth a person could retain their innocence.  And from there Roseline was born. 

In order for Roseline to endure three centuries of torture at the hands of her husband, Roseline needed to have someone to keep her sane.  To help her heal and teach her how to live a life without debauchery and murder.  She clung to him for her sanity and as such developed deep feelings for him.

But when she sees her chance to escape her tyrannical husband, Roseline leaves everything behind, including her only friend.  She starts over as a high school student in Chicago Illinois with the hopes of being able to live the life that’d been taken from her.  But fate wouldn’t allow her to remain in the shadows.

And I will leave you there.  It’s no fun to spoil the story!

If you would like to read my newly released Teen Fantasy novel, Forbidden, please check out my eBooks. 


Happy Reading!

Goodreads review of Forbidden

Roseline Enescue is just a 17-year-olg girl in Romania in 1689, when her father orders her to marry the wealthy Vladimir Enescue, brother to the equally wealthy and equally sadistic Lucien Enescue. Lured in by their wealth her father can't deny giving Roseline's hand, but he comes to regret it as he, along with all guests at the wedding are killed by the two monsters of brothers. Not even her little sister, Adela, isn't spared by their homicidal rampage and Roseline, having seen everyone she loves murdered in front of her eyes, has no choice but to comply to Vladimir's wishes, but not before she is killed and turned into a vampire like them.

This actually is the opening scene of the book and it is fast and exciting, really urging you to bond with the heroine in her struggle to save her loved ones and herself, alas you already know, just like she does, that there's no chance of that.
Then over 300 years later, Roseline, sees a way out, a chance to escape and she seizes it, knowing that if she fails to get away, she will suffer Vladimir's wrath once again, because she has tried this before, but it has never worked. Still, she gives it her whole and eventually she finds herself in the United States, posing as a 17-year-old girl (because that's the age she looks), going to a somewhat exclusive school, trying to go undetected, never attracting attention to herself. During her time there, though, she is befriended by the eccentric Sadie and her brother William, knowing very well that with her being Immortal, her looks are by default mesmerizing to humans causing them to be attracted to her. Consequently, she doesn't go as undetected as she would like to, but she tries. She is buried in some kind of comforting routine till Gabriel, the school's star student and athlete and most sought-out boyfriend is smitten by her, and an exchange student from Romania, Nicolae, comes to stay with Sadie and William. Nicolae keeps staring at her and it's not long before he reveals to Rose that he knows who she is and what she is, and that he is there to check up on her. Rose doesn't know in what capacity, but she is afraid that Vladimir knows where she is and Gabriel chasing after her all the time doesn't help one bit.

Now, it sounds a little cliche or rather like something that's been described before, but the story finds ways to be original and refreshing. I really liked that the book started the way it did, because it was fast and it immediately drew you in and made your heart beat a little faster. It was told in a smart way in the sense that in the first chapter, you already know why Roseline was running, who and what she was and why it was instrumental that she get away, making you feel like you already knew her and really ready to become invested in the actual story to start in the following chapter. Actually, the majority of the book's most important characters was really introduced in the first chapter, although Sadie, William, Gabriel and Nicolae were introduced later on.

The characters were quite diverse without coming off as caricatures, which was really good. Even Sadie, with her continuously changing wardrobe and make-up going through punk, goth, bad girl and Christian phases didn't come across as fake, while all characters were not good or bad, black or white. There were shades of gray which is the way it seems to me in real life.
It is important that the characters seem real and plausible without being too saccharine or "perfect". Rose isn't perfect either. She has been through a lot, but she is not a little lamb, nor is she a hyena (as a vampire). She is a person with her faults and shortcomings, never, however giving up the attempt to become a better person. Gabriel isn't a jock or a perfect guy either. The characters get mad, yell, lose their patience, laugh, fall in love and act crazy just like they would in real life and that's the best aspect of the book.

The writing is not exactly factual, nor overly decorative. I think it's a nice balance between the two and it makes reading the book quite entertaining. I also liked the fact that even though there is an aspect of insta-love between Rose and Gabriel, it is not pursued in a rushed way and Roseline doesn't trip all over herself in order to avoid or chase the charming human boy. Throughout the chapters it feels like Rose really lives her life in a normal way not changing dramatically just because of Gabriel (although why she run away towards the end I'll never understand). Gabriel is more smitten than she appears to be and faster than her, but he is a teenage boy so hormones and their "bond" can quite explain that.
I have to admit that I didn't see a few twists around the end coming and it was a welcome surprise as for the most part of the book we didn't see or hear from Lucien and Vladimir again, letting us enjoy Rose's new life but also making us wonder what was going to happen.

On the other hand, there were some aspects of book that left me wanting a little.
For the most part we did get to see what Immortals were. They were more than humans. Stronger, faster, prettier and intellectually superior in certain ways as they lived history and did not just read about it.
I quite enjoyed the twist in the lore, where what we consider Vampires are just Immortals that have been addicted to the taste of blood. They don't need the blood to survive, they can live off human food, but they need blood to heal, as blood is a life giver, and if they consume it too much, it becomes like a drug clouding their judgment and affecting them physically and psychologically, turning them blood-thirsty and eventually sadistic monsters (like it happened with Lucien and Vladimir). Blood is like cocaine for vamps, then, but they do have a choice which is a nice difference from the usual lore that Vampires always feel the thirst.
However, I feel like it could have been explained a little more and in greater detail so the whole thing could have been made distinct and invested upon so that in the future books we could see how the whole addiction process happens and how easy it is for a vamp to go to "rehab". XD
I'd love to have seen that in relation to Rose, as I'm sure that Vladimir must have tried to get her addicted.

Another thing is that I felt that Nicolae's presence could have been explored more. In the beginning he comes across as a geeky, nerdy kid who had no sense of how life and people in America were and he recognized Roseline from Romania fearing her, but later on he is a hunter incognito and some of his actions don't sit right. At first it feels like he is afraid of Rose and he is determined not to bother her or come into contact with her, but a chapter later he stares at her intently even menacingly and warns her that he will be there if she decides to hurt anyone. So if he wanted to stay under the radar why come out to Roseline and if he was going to do that anyways, why act scared in the beginning? Maybe he wanted to draw his own conclusions about Rose and if she was evil, but it just felt awkward to me. I liked Nicolae's reactions to Sadie, though, and I think I will enjoy them if they are a couple in the next book. ;)

Then the last one is a stupid thing to notice really, but I couldn't help wondering. Roseline as an Immortal (Vampire) feels happier when it is cold, because her body temperature is higher than that of a human, yet when she touches Gabriel she feels his great body warmth and heat, which doesn't make sense if he is human or even if he is half-vampire. (Unless it was psychological, though it was mentioned a couple times) Then again there is some prophecy and some things left for the next book so I might have to wait for this to make sense!!! And, god, do I want to read the next! :)

To sum up, I think "Forbidden" was an entertaining read filled with excitement, mystery, (why yes) passion and enjoyable characters you felt for, causing it to be one of the books I'd read again, but it would rate even higher if some of the story's (evidently) distinct vampiric lore was explored and introduced more properly and extensively. Its lovable characters and plot make up for some inconsistencies and questions.

Anyone who enjoys books with vampires and romance will definitely enjoy this one.

P.S.: Thanks to the writer for letting me review the book.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Forbidden Book Review

Book Review


Robert Luis Rabello

Title of Book:  Forbidden (The Arotas Trilogy) 
Author:  Amy Miles
Genre:  Young Adult Fiction / Urban Fantasy
E-book, or print book:  E-book
Overview:  Rosaline Enescue escapes from the frightening brutality of her husband in Romania by running away to the United States.  She begins a new life as a high school student, but meets a young man named Gabriel, to whom she finds herself irresistibly attracted.  How can this be?  Where did her self-control go?  How can a mere human so captivate her attention?  The answers trace back to her homeland and the life she left behind. 
Cover / Graphics / Maps :  The cover is simple, evocative and looks professionally laid-out.  The orange rose has significance to the story and is allegorical of the main character.
Interior Formatting:  I read the Kindle version.  There were no glaring format issues.  The font was large enough to be legible, but small enough to permit speed reading without adjustment.
Readability:  Sample paragraphs averaged a readability index of 5.8, which is appropriate for the target audience and most readers of this genre.  I had no difficulty with any of the vocabulary or sentence structures in this novel.
Names:  All of the names were easily pronounced and accessible.  Since the story takes place in a modern context, place names are recognizable.
Hero / Heroine:  Rosaline Enescue is a bit of an enigma.  Given the terrible ordeal described in the prologue to this story, it's reasonable to expect a degree of hardness and an aloof attitude from this character.  In general, people like their protagonists to be strong, and Rosaline certainly projects inner strength and mental toughness.  She's described by other characters as kind and loving, but she acts more like a streetwise and vigorous force to be reckoned with, rather than a sweet, gentle female.  The descriptions that characterized her as the latter grated against the former.
I'd expected Gabriel Marsten to be a dumb jock, mindlessly interested in conquering opponents on the football field and girls in the social arena.  But he evolves as the story progresses, from the inaccurate caricature of an athlete into a decent, intelligent and caring young man.  He becomes the type of boy that a father would be proud to call his son, only to transform further into something ELSE, entirely.  It's both fascinating and disturbing to experience.  Amy Miles has done a terrific job of defying expectations with this character.
Supporting Characters: Sadie and William Hughes are siblings who live next door to Gabriel Marsten.  They maintain an annoyed, teenaged tolerance for one another throughout the book, though the role that William plays in the story is less significant than that of his sister.  Sadie befriends Rosaline, though the two appear to have very little in common.  Nicolae, a mysterious exchange student, transforms from a creepy kid into something very different as the story progresses.  I felt that a little platforming of his capabilities early in the story would have made for a smoother character arc near the end.
Villains:  Rosaline's husband, Vladimir, occupies a menacing role that exists mostly on the periphery of the story, except for the very beginning and the very end.  A lot of the conflict in this book is internal, with Rosaline, herself.  The reader is effectively kept in suspense about the danger of her powers throughout the story.  This is something that Amy Miles has done very well.
In addition, flat characters, like Claire Scofield--Gabriel's girlfriend--and Oliver--Gabriel's jock friend--serve as antagonists and provide the occasional comic relief.  There's a scene involving Claire using Gabriel's leg as an erotic dancing prop that had me laughing.
Plausibility of Storyline:  There's a degree of suspending disbelief that every fantasy story must be given.  That's certainly true of this one, but there were scenes and behaviors, such as Rosaline's frequent disappearances, which did little to advance the plot and probably could have been cut or modified without impacting the overall story.  High school students making travel arrangements and departing the country without parental approval raised my brows too, but this IS a story for young readers, and that audience would likely be unfazed by that detail.
Reviewer's Response:  Amy Miles has written a vampire story that defies convention in many ways.  Though I am not in the target market for this genre, the story retained my interest  throughout, and I actually found myself enjoying the characters, particularly Rosaline and Gabriel, as they evolved.  One of the strengths of the independent author movement is that it permits stories that depart from main stream, commercial themes and plot lines to be heard.  I believe this story is a refreshing example of that  trend.  For young adult  readers, in particular, this is likely to be a very enjoyable story.