You are now entering the world of my thoughts.

This blog is my diary of works in progress. The only way a writer can improve upon her skill is to practice, practice and practice some more. Here, in this place of quiet peace, I pen to paper my thoughts and creativity. Welcome to my world.

Copyright © 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 SN Taylor, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Muslims and Romance: An Interview with Papatia Feauxzar

Today's interview is with author Papatia Feauxzar. Papatia is the author of many books in the genre of romance and the founder of Djarabi Kitabs Publishing .

As Salaamu Alaikum and thank you for joining us sister Papatia.


Can tell us a little bit about yourself?
1- Papatia Feauxzar is my pen name. I wish to remain anonymous and to any sister who knows who I am, please keep it to yourself. Everything about me always has a French stamp on it because French is my first language. Writing is a hobby as I have a day job. I consider myself well-rounded with flaws. And it's very hard to get under my skin. I do have a breaking point though but I am always in a good mood even when below the layers, it's chaos.
What was the inspiration behind your book, Between Sisters, Svp?
The inspiration behind the book comes from many sources. First, it comes from the daily Muslim lives of many women I came across, myself included. As Muslims, our activities don't differ much from non-Muslims if you take out the required salat we observe daily. At the end of the day, we are all humans and we face daily struggles like any other human being. We have jobs, we worry about finances, we have marital problems, we go out to movies, we read sometimes in the goal of gaining more knowledge, we use social media, we talk like our peers, we eat, we love and the list goes on. Secondly, I also wanted to have an edge because I didn't want my work to be another boring love story with no kick (no drama, etc). And since intimacy is an untapped market in Muslim authored fiction, taboo in the ummah, and that I am comfortable around that area, I went for it. Finally, I was also tired of reading stories where the characters are always rich. They come and sweep a good virgin off her feet. Why can't it be about normal people who have 9 to 5pm jobs or 6pm to late hours or even broke? That's more realistic in my opinion, and it can still be dreamy.
Can you highlight for us some of your achievements and challenges while working on Between Sisters, Svp?
It was challenging writing the love scenes while avoiding spilling the beans on the main character's bedroom secrets or avoiding coming off vapid. It was also challenging to get over the hurdles of self publishing with the editing and reediting process. There is also the wary vibe you get from some sisters not quite sure how to categorize or accept a different kind of writing. From my debut in July 2011, I have definitely learned a lot about writing professionally. And everyday, I learn something new steering me in the right direction Alhamdullilah and getting me close to becoming great and bestseller author :) .
Describe your writing style in ten words.
My style is heavily related on Islam and pop culture.
Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Spiritual, Loyal, Crazy, Fun, and Loving.
Thank you so much sister Papatia for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your book and publishing experience with us.
Thank you for having me. May Allah reward you for taking a leap of faith in me and my work and not caring if you would be tag 'guilty by association.' ;)
If you would like to learn more about Papatia Feauxzar and her books, please visit at

Monday, December 29, 2014

Picture Prompts: Curiosity


It was a cave like no other she had ever seen before. The entrance was barely big enough to fit her head through. Could her cubs be safe in this cave? Curiosity filled her as she sniffed at the entrance. Her cubs bounced playfully at her side. It was such a strange phenomenon, this cave in the middle of the open ice. They wanted to go inside but of course mama bear had to check it out before they could go inside into the inviting looking cave that only they could fit in, such raucous they could cause and their mother would not be able to nip at them to behave, but of course they were not going to say that out loud. There was a strange light coming from inside, as well as, she sniffed the air, seal? Could there really be a seal in there. But the seal smelled, different, inviting, but different. The cubs whimpered and whined, pawing at her belly. They were tired from their trek across the ice and they wanted to go inside and rest and eat, seal? They were hungry. Mama nipped at their heels and growled softly for them to quiet down as she ease onto the ground and inched her face closer and closer to the tiny cave opening. Her nose barely entered when her eyes widened and she grunted in shock. Four pairs of wide-eyed creature covered in seal, wolf and ….. bear hide ……. stared back at her. “Run,” she growled to her baby cubs.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The 3 B's of Storytelling: An interview with Donna Martin.....


Today I would like to introduce Donna Martin, author of The Story Catcher. In this interview, Donna will share with us her debut picture book, what it takes to be good storytelling and her 3 "B"s of becoming a stronger story teller. Welcome Donna!!!


Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Well, I stay pretty busy. By day I am a Fourth Degree Black Belt Certified Taekwondo Instructor who helps run a martial arts training facility. Once I get home around 9:30 each night I go into Ninja Writer mode and work on my writing until around midnight before I crawl into my bed for a few hours of much needed sleep. I can also say I’ve been writing for 45 years but only professionally for the past 5 years.

What is your story about?

My debut picture book, THE STORY CATCHER, is about a little girl named Addie who comes from a family of readers or ‘story catchers’ as they like to call themselves. Addie tries to catch her first story but the wiggly words keep playing tricks on her. She tries different ways to make them sit still but it takes a little faith to help Addie become her family’s next STORY CATCHER!

What do you think makes a good story?

Something that makes an emotional connection with its intended audience. When i read a story that makes me laugh, cry, or just feel like I can relate to the main character, then I know I have a good book in my hands.

Your book teaches children the importance of faith and how to catch a story, what is the first story you ever caught? Was it hard to catch? How did you catch it?

I was lucky. I was the youngest of four kids in my family and my sister closest to me in age helped to teach me to read. I could read books on my own by the time I was around 4 or 5 and one of the first books I remember reading on my own was a children’s version of the dictionary. I’m not kidding! My mother was an HUGE fan of the written word and when she found out I had checked out a dictionary, she not only made sure I read every page, but she also gave me a verbal test on it when I was finished reading it and I passed!

Who was your favorite story catcher growing up? Who is your favorite story catcher now?

One ‘master’ writer I devoured while growing up (and still enjoy reading today) is Mercer Mayer.  The incredible balance between his art and the written word calls to the kid in me and if I ever grow up, I want to be more like him! Besides Mr. Mayer, it’s not so much an individual I admire as the beauty of a well written story. My all-time favorite story, bar none, is THE GIVING TREE by Shel Silverstein, but I’m not a huge fan of his other work. I enjoy the work of people I’m honored to call my friends and colleagues like Susanna Leonard Hill, Tara Lazar, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Corey Rosen Schwartz, and many, many more.

Can you share with us a few of your tips for being an excellent story catcher?

I can list three “B”s to help newbie writers become stronger storytellers:

Believe…in yourself, in your skill as a storyteller, and in your own stories.
Be open…open to constructive criticism  so you can grow as a writer, open to the world around you so you may never run short of story ideas, and open to opportunities…large and small…which might come your way in your writing career.
Be determined…never let the doubters shake the faith you have in yourself. Do whatever it takes to succeed, but most of all stay true to YOU and keep on writing every day!


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop



Welcome to the annual Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am Not A Writer and Bookhounds.

Here on Of Thoughts and Words, we are giving away a ten dollar Amazon gift card.

Please fill out the rafflecopter below and then click on this link to visit over 100 + blogs for some more fun finds. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 19, 2014

G.A.S. Not your every day science reading!! and giveaway.

Welcome an all new kind of fun and educational reading for boys AND girls! Did I mention fun?? The G.A.S. series.

The GALACTIC ACADEMY OF SCIENCE is Tumblehome Learning’s keynote series.

GAS is designed to stimulate general interest in science & engineering and to encourage student participation in inquiry based STEM competitions through engagement in a fun and exciting adventure, mystery, CSI mission or other storyline embedded with both scientific content knowledge and methods. [STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering & Math].
Each book of the series follows a model, with different subject matter and storylines, and some different characters along the way.   All GAS books feature a group of middle school children (usually a boy & girl pair) from diverse backgrounds, facing an impending science fair project or other school or personal challenge.   Suddenly, the kids are faced with a perfidious present-day crime that needs historical knowledge of science or engineering to solve it.  Under the guidance of a Dude or Dudette from the Future (pictured above, Quarkum Phonon and Selectra Volt), the kids use a special device to travel through time and visit pivotal scientists of the past, gain key knowledge, solve the crime, ace the science/engineering/math competition, and become inducted into the GALACTIC ACADEMY OF SCIENCE, or GAS.


Check out these four books in the series........


Clinton and Mae take on a new G.A.S. mission–a journey across three continents and 4000 years to learn about concussion and the brain in order to nail a bribe-taker who loss Clinton and his team a game.

Benson, Anita, Ella and Shomari head back to the past to learn more about coding in the hopes of saving their science fair from the Evil Dr. G and his minions who are bent on destroying it.

When a stranger from the future tells Clinton’s timid summer camp tentmate to deliver a zombie or else, Clinton knows he has to help. Together, seventh graders Clinton and Mae take Sam on a Galactic Academy of Science mission to find out the truth about zombies

Benson and Anita think Dr. Brummagem’s feathered dinosaur fossil is a fake, but can they prove it? 

Thanks to the publisher of this wonderful series, you have a chance to win one of these books. :D
Fill out the rafflecopter below and enter to win.



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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Blog Tour and Review: Danse Macabre by Cristelle Comby




Every police detective should have a Neve & Egan as sidekicks!


Book Blurb: 

Private investigators Alexandra Neve and Ashford Egan are hired to succeed where the police have failed, to safely return home a missing ballerina. With no lead to pursue and no idea who could be behind the young woman’s kidnapping, they soon find themselves at a loss as to what to do.

To make matters worse, the heart of England seems to be caught in the middle of a little Ice Age. With snow endlessly falling and Tube lines either too cramped up to use or out of service, it is a pain to do any legwork in the huge metropolis.

Oh, and because trouble never comes alone, there may also be a serial killer on the loose in the streets of East London...



My Review:

What does a singer, dancer, and pianist have in common? Death. A gruesome death that seems to baffle the New Scotland Yard police force. 

Once again, Neve and Egan are back in action with what appears to be a not-a-runaway investigation. When the police give Mrs. Doughton the brush off, she hires Alexandra and Ashford to find her missing daughter, an up and coming ballet dancer and ballet teacher. It's winter time and their mystery soon turns in to something even more sinister when they find the poor girl recently murdered in a very gruesome manner. Her body is staged as if she were dancing and her eyes are sewed open. Just when things can't get any worse, Ash's apartment is ransacked, a threatening note left behind and another kidnapping is announced. The race is really on to find the killer before he gets to stage another Danse Macabre.

I love how Comby really pulls the reader into the story at the beginning and keeps you there. She has fleshed out more of the main characters, especially my favorite character in the book, Ash. He never ceases to amaze me. This is one page turner that any one who loves a good mystery will not want to put down. I must say, if you have trouble sleeping at night after reading something scary/gory (my standards of gory that is) then proceed with caution and read this in the day time :D


About the author: 
Cristelle Comby was born and raised in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, in Greater Geneva, where she still resides. Thanks to her insatiable thirst for American and British action films and television dramas, her English is fluent. She attributes to her origins her ever-peaceful nature and her undying love for chocolate. She has a passion for art, which also includes an interest in drawing and acting.

Danse Macabre is her third new-adult novel, and she’s hard at work on the next titles in the Neve & Egan series.


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Cristelle Comby's Web Site: http://cristelle-comby.com/
Cristelle Comby's Twitter: https://twitter.com/Cristelle
Cristelle Comby's Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/CristelleComby
 Cristelle Comby's Instagram: http://instagram.com/cristellec
 Cristelle Comby's Newsletter: http://cristelle-comby.com/?page_id=34
 Danse Macabre Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23377890-danse-macabre Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tribute-Books-Blog-Tours/242431245775186
Danse Macabre blog tour site: http://dansemacabreblogtour.blogspot.com/

Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Review: Mr. Monk Is Open For Business by Hy Conrad


Title: Mr. Monk Is Open For Business

Author: Hy Conrad

Book Blurb: 

After failing to win back his girlfriend Ellen in Summit, New Jersey, Monk returns to San Francisco where he is surprised to find another relationship has taken a new turn. Natalie decided to make things official by setting up an office for Monk and Teeger, Consulting Detectives. With Monk’s typical response to change of any kind, they have more than a few wrinkles to iron out of their new routine. But when Lieutenant Amy Devlin comes to them for help, it’s time to stop bickering and get to work.

A disgruntled employee of a small import business, Wyatt Noone came into work one day and started shooting, killing three coworkers and leaving one female hostage severely wounded. Spotting Wyatt through the office windows, the police surrounded the building, but he still managed to disappear—leaving Lieutenant Devlin with a messy and baffling mystery on her hands.

Visiting the bed-ridden survivor, Sarabeth Winslow, Monk finds her to be helpful, cooperative and—now that he’s on the rebound from Ellen—quite charming as well.  But as he and Natalie try to track down Sarabeth’s assailant, they discover that Wyatt has left barely a trace of his past behind, almost as if he managed to disappear from existence all together…

My Review:

So I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads. It is not my normal rating for my beloved Monk series. It is not that I did not like it, I did, but it just was not the same. Monk was not the same. I missed many of his compulsive quirks that I found entertaining in the books Goldberg wrote. He still has a few in this story but his behavior, attitude and desire to have a love life is not characteristic to the Monk I know. But like I said, it was still a good read. I wont write off one of my favorite detective series for now, I will read a couple more authored by Hy Conrad to see if I can handle this new Monk. But on a side note, I love seeing more of Natalie's character in the story. :)

Monk and Teeger open their own agency and takes on a big case the very first day they open their doors. A lawyer's client, Henry Pickler is in jail on suspicion of killing a man in his field but Pickler is not talking, not even to his lawyer. Another case they take on at the same time is a case that Amy Devlin has brought to them. A man named Wyatt Noone kills his coworkers leaving one badly shot but manages to escape under the noses of the police force, including Amy Devlin. With her reputation and career on the line she gets help from none other than Monk and Teeger. Monk is on the rebound after his girlfriend dumped him for getting her brother arrested. Now, he is in love with Sarabeth, the lone survivor of the shooting spree. As Monk and Teeger investigates, a lot of things don't add up and with Monk's attention else where, Teeger has to a lot of leg work. But she manages to get Monk's head back in the game before it is too late and they catch the real killers in both cases.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Wheels of Change winner!!!!


Mary Preston!!!!

Congratulation Mary. You will be hearing from us shortly. Thank you and we hope you enjoy Wheels of Change. Be sure to stop by and let us know how you like the book :)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

And the Winner Is..........Debut Author Giveaway Hop....


The winner of the Debut Author Giveaway Hop is.......

Sara K

Congratulations Sara!!!!!! 

Thank you everyone for participating in the hop. Check back from time to time to enter more giveaways.


Disclaimer. The winner has 72 hours to claim your prize via email (which has already been sent to you). If we do not hear from you, another winner will be chosen.







Blog Tour & Book Review: Meow If It's Murder by T.C. LoTempio



Book Blurb:
Nora Charles doesn’t believe in fate, even if she is a crime reporter who shares a name with a character from The Thin Man. In fact, she’s moving back to Cruz, California, to have a quieter life. But after finding an online magazine eager for material, and a stray cat named Nick with a talent for detection, Nora’s not just reporting crimes again. She’s uncovering them…

Back in her hometown, Nora reconnects with old friends and makes some new ones, like Nick, the charming feline who seems determined to be her cat. But not everything about Cruz is friendly. Writing for a local online magazine, Nora investigates the curious death of socialite Lola Grainger. Though it was deemed an accident, Nora suspects foul play. And it seems that her cat does too.

Apparently, Nick used to belong to a P.I. who disappeared while investigating Lola Grainger’s death. The coincidence is spooky, but not as spooky as the clues Nick spells out for her with Scrabble letters—clues that lead her down an increasingly dangerous path. Whether fate put her on this case or not, solving it will take all of Nora’s wits, and maybe a few of Nick’s nine lives.


My Review:

This is definitely an easy book to cozy up with. My favorite character? Nick of course! That is, Nick the kitty. :) Who doesn't love a kitty with attitude, that can play word games, kick butt to save his lady master and solve a crime(s) to boot?

Nora Charles is a crime investigative reporter (she thinks she is a sandwich maker/sandwich shop owner) but investigating crime is in her blood. Once a mystery tickles her fancy not even her close friend or the hunk of a detective she meets can persuade to stop investigating the suspicious death of Lola Grainger, a close and good customer of her late mother's. She meets a feline who makes it's self at home in her shop. She settles on the name Nick after a favorite movie character. The cat has unusual talents that assist Nora in finding out the truth about the mystery behind the suspicious death of Lola as well as Nick's missing owner.

I enjoyed this story a lot, even though there were a few mistakes that caught my eye, but despite that, the story was packed with action and lots of interesting twists that kept me glued to my screen. If you like crime mysteries without the gore and horror, this is the book to read. There is a hint of romance, nothing that would make me gag but enough to make it fun.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Wheels of Change Book giveaway

Wheels of Change


Racial intolerance, social change, and sweeping progress make 1908 Washington, D.C., a turbulent place to grow up in for 12-year-old Emily Soper.


For Emily, life in Papa’s carriage barn is magic, and she's more at home hearing the symphony of the blacksmith’s hammer than trying to conform to the proper expectations of young ladies. When Papa’s livelihood is threatened by racist neighbors and horsepower of a different sort, Emily faces changes she'd never imagined. Finding courage and resolve she didn't know she had, Emily strives to save Papa’s business, even if it means going all the way to the White House.


Age Range: 8 - 13 years
Grade Level: 2 - 8
Hardcover: 180 pages
Publisher: Creston Books (September 23, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 193954713X
ISBN-13: 978-1939547132
Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 7.8 inches

Notable Reviews
"Changes fomenting both locally and nationally during the final year of Theodore Roosevelt's presidency are seen through the eyes of feisty, bighearted Emily Soper, daughter of a carriage maker in Washington, D.C. Twelve-year-old Emily loves helping her father in his barn; she even dreams, in futility, of becoming a blacksmith like her father's beloved employee, Henry. She and her best friend, Charlie, ponder such things as gender roles, women's suffrage and 'horseless carriages.' She dutifully tries to become a lady even while working on a secret that uses her 'masculine" skills.' As the year progresses, Henry falls ill, and Emily and her family are subjected to the uncertainties of changing times as well as some nasty treatment from white supremacists. Resemblances to To Kill a Mockingbird are strong, especially during a tea party hosted by Emily's mother. A nice touch: Throughout much of the book, Papa teaches Emily—and vicariously, readers—new vocabulary words. The strength of the text lies in Jacobson's ability to evoke a different era and to endear readers to the protagonist. The prose is straightforward and well-researched, heavily peppered with historical references and containing enough action to keep readers' attention. Readers will empathize with Emily as she goes through her own changes, and they will applaud her heroism in more than one chapter." (author's note, photographs, recipes, bibliography, websites) (Historical fiction. 8-11)






Winter Candle
by Jeron Frame

When each family at the diverse Juniper Court apartment complex needs something to light up the dark of winter, the stumpy, lumpy candle provides a glow brighter than the fanciest taper, revealing the true spirit of each holiday it illuminates.

Age Range: 4 - 11 years
Grade Level: Preschool - 6
Hardcover: 28 pages
Publisher: Creston Books (November 11, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1939547105
ISBN-13: 978-1939547101
Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 8 x 10.2 inches


Notable Reviews:

"Light symbolizes hope, and festivals incorporating light and candles are found in many cultures, especially during winter.Ashford uses a single candle to weave a story of intergenerational and multicultural friendship. On Thanksgiving, Nana Clover realizes that she doesn't have a candle for her table and asks the super for one. Later, another family doesn't have a special braided havdalah candle to mark the Jewish Sabbath's end and borrows the half-used candle from Nana Clover. A few days later, the Ericksons find that one of the candles on their Saint Lucia crown is broken. They ask the Danzigers, and the same little candle continues its trip. The African-American family in 5A celebrating Kwanzaa needs the candle next, because the baby has eaten one of the seven candles for the kinara. Finally, a winter storm causes a power outage, and Nasreen and Faruq, who have just moved in, are concerned that their father won't find the building. Their mom suggests borrowing a candle from their neighbors, and the stubby piece of wax lights their father's way. Soon, all the neighbors join in to welcome the new family. The richly textured paintings highlight the glow of the small candle; the family portraits, too, glow with warmth. An author's note provides a brief overv iew of each celebration. The story's acknowledged tidiness facilitates its reassuring theme of neighborly sharing and assistance and makes it easily adaptable to a wide variety of settings. (Picture book. 5-8)"


--Kirkus Reviews



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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Debut Author Giveaway Away Hop 2014 Dec 4 - 11th



I am happy to be participant of the Debut Author Giveaway Hop! I love reading debut novels and learning about new authors with new voices. A big THANK YOU to Bookhounds and I Am A Reader for hosting this blog hop.

For this hop, I would like to feature debut author Hend Hegazi and her novel, Normal Calm. As always, this is a blog hop, so hop along and visit the other participants. You never know what fun and new treasures are to be found! :) 



Book Description: 

Amina is an Arab American woman attending one of the best universities in the US. During the spring of her junior year, Amina is raped by one of her friends, making her essentially unmarriageable in the eyes of her parents and, possibly, the entire Arab community. When her mother experiences a nervous breakdown, Amina fears that she is to blame for her mother's condition. Eventually she falls in love with Sherif, but his reaction to her rape proves him to be unworthy. Deciding to forgo love, Amina focuses on her career. When her best friend introduces her to Mazin, however, she sees in him only good qualities. He is successful, kind, generous...but she feels no love for him. When Mazin asks for her hand in marriage, Amina struggles with the idea of settling for a man she does not love. Knowing that he, too, may abandon her when he learns of her rape is another burden she continues to bear.

About the Author:

Hend Hegazi was born and raised in Attleboro, Massachusetts. She graduated from Smith College in 2000, majoring in biology and minoring in religion. In 2002 she moved to Egypt to be with her husband. Hend is a stay at home mother of four and finds that writing helps in the struggle to keep her sanity. Her book was published by FB Publishing, January 7, 2014     




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Monday, December 1, 2014

Book Blast & Giveaway!! Meow If It's Murder by T. C. LoTempio

Meow if its murderMeow If It's Murder 
by L.C. LoTempio 

Nora Charles doesn’t believe in fate, even if she is a crime reporter who shares a name with a character from The Thin Man. In fact, she’s moving back to Cruz, California, to have a quieter life. But after finding an online magazine eager for material, and a stray cat named Nick with a talent for detection, Nora’s not just reporting crimes again. She’s uncovering them… Back in her hometown, Nora reconnects with old friends and makes some new ones, like Nick, the charming feline who seems determined to be her cat. But not everything about Cruz is friendly. Writing for a local online magazine, Nora investigates the curious death of socialite Lola Grainger. Though it was deemed an accident, Nora suspects foul play. And it seems that her cat does too. Apparently, Nick used to belong to a P.I. who disappeared while investigating Lola Grainger’s death. The coincidence is spooky, but not as spooky as the clues Nick spells out for her with Scrabble letters—clues that lead her down an increasingly dangerous path. Whether fate put her on this case or not, solving it will take all of Nora’s wits, and maybe a few of Nick’s nine lives.

ToniAuthor Toni LoTempio

While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic. She lists among her favorite mystery/suspense writers Erle Stanley Gardner, Mary Higgins Clark and James Patterson, as well as EJ Copperman, Steve Hockensmith, Victoria Laurie, Ali Brandon, Rita Mae Brown, Miranda James and Sofie Kelly to name only a few! Toni is also passionate about her love for animals, as demonstrated with her four cats: Trixie, Princess, Maxx and, of course, ROCCO, who not only provided the inspiration for the character of Nick the cat in the Nick and Nora mystery series, but who also writes his own blog and does charity work for Nathan Fillion’s charity, Kids Need to Read! Toni’s also devoted to miniseries like The Thorn Birds, Dancing with the Stars, reruns of Murder She Wrote and Castle (of course!). She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – the first volume, MEOW IF ITS MURDER, debuts Dec. 2, 2014. She, Rocco and company make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York.



Meow if its murder    

Excerpt

My friend cut me an eyeroll, a sure indication she thought I was full of, as the French would say, merde. “The only other thing she saw was that this mission had to do with something that was switched.” I wrinkled my nose. “Something switched? Like what? That’s not much of a clue.” Chantal shrugged. “What can I say? Sometimes the images come over a bit…clouded, shall we say? We have to interpret them the best we can.” She hunkered over the pile of cards before her and flipped over the one closest to her. “Well, well,” she murmured. “On a much better note, it looks like there is love in your future, chérie.” I let out a squeal and gave her arm a playful punch. “So now you’re reading my cards? Please don’t. I do so hate when you do that.” “That is because you do not open yourself up to the universe.” “I wouldn’t say that. I’m very open. Just not to portents and omens.” She shook her curls. “You are practical to a fault. Just once I’d like to see you let yourself go – believe in the unbelievable. The world is a wonderous place, if you only open yourself up to all the possibilities.” I hesitated, and then shrugged. “Oh, what the hell. Hit me.” She plucked a second card from the pile. “The King of Swords crosses your card,” she said. “That means a dark handsome stranger will shortly enter your life and sweep you off your feet.” I rolled my eyes. “You can tell that from one card?” “Not just from the card – the vibe. And this is a strong vibe, very strong indeed.” Uh-huh. I’d heard all this before from my friend, in many ways, shapes and forms, and a handsome stranger, dark or otherwise, had yet to make an appearance in my life. “Well, when he shows up you’ll be the first to know. I’m not holding my breath.” Chantal glanced at the clock on the wall and jumped up. “Oh zut – I am late for my shift at the flower shop. Remy will kill me.” She swept her tarot cards into their velvet pouch, tucked them inside her tote, and ambled toward the front door. Her French accent slipped a bit as she said, “Try not to work too hard, willya? You’ve been looking a little peaked lately.” She opened the front door and stopped still. “Well, well,” she murmured, accent back in full force as she shot a swift glance over one shoulder. “Come quickly, chérie. This will teach you to have more faith in my predictions. There is a dark, handsome stranger out here who wants to see you.” “You’re kidding.” I moved forward and looked over Chantal’s shoulder. The street outside was deserted. I cocked a brow at my friend. “There’s no one here.” Her tongue clucked against the roof of her mouth. “You are not looking in the right place.” Chantal pointed down. I followed her finger and beheld her dark, handsome stranger. A stocky, black-and-white cat.  



$50 Blast Giveaway Enter to win an Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 12/22/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by readinglight.com. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.     a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Blast & Giveaway: Cranberry Bluff by Deborah Garner

Cranberry Bluff Cranberry Bluff by Deborah Garner Molly Elliott's quiet life in Tallahassee, Florida, is disrupted when routine errands land her in the wrong place at the wrong time: the middle of a bank robbery. Accused and cleared of the crime, she flees both media attention and mysterious, threatening notes, to move across the country to Cranberry Cove, where she has inherited her Aunt Maggie's bed and breakfast on the Northern California coast. Her new beginning is peaceful - that is, until five guests show up at the inn for a weekend, each with a hidden agenda. Mix together one blushing honeymoon couple, one flamboyant boutique owner, a deadpan traveling salesman, and a charmingly handsome novelist, and there’s more than scones cooking at Cranberry Cottage Bed and Breakfast. As true motives become apparent, will Molly's past come back to haunt her or will she finally be able to leave it behind?



 

  Author Deborah Garner Deborah Garner is an accomplished travel writer with a passion for back roads and secret hideaways. Born and raised in California, she studied in France before returning to the U.S. to attend UCLA. After stints in graduate school and teaching, she attempted to clone herself for decades by founding and running a dance and performing arts center, designing and manufacturing clothing and accessories, and tackling both spreadsheets and display racks for corporate retail management. Her passions include photography, hiking and animal rescue. She speaks five languages, some substantially better than others. She now divides her time between California and Wyoming, dragging one human and two canines along whenever possible.






book blast button
    Book Blast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 12/23/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Author Interview: Robyn Abdusamad

Today I have the honor of introducing you all to author Robyn Abdusamad and her new book You Are Beautiful. The coming of this book, along with many others being published that tackle the issue of racism and racial bias and promote diversity, is quite timely. Children need a safe place to discuss these issues and picture books are the perfect medium to help children understand and navigate this tough topic. Without further ado......Robyn Abdusamad.



Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your book?

Well, I am from North Carolina but my family recently relocated to Texas, the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  I am a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University with a Bachelor in Communications/ Public Relations and a Masters in Public Administration from National University.  I have over 10 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. I’ve also worked in the secondary school system in North Carolina. Right now, I am a stay at home mom.   In my spare time I enjoy volunteering in my community, traveling, shopping, and connecting with family and friends.

My new book, "You Are Beautiful" is about two sisters who have their first encounter with a racial bias and are saddened by what they hear.  It is a heartfelt and inspirational lesson that provides both children and parents with a solution to embracing diversity with knowledge and kindness.

What was your favorite children’s book growing up?

I recall several of my favorite children’s book growing up, but the ones that stand out were ‘Bambi Gets Lost’, ‘Mooch the Messy’ and ‘Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret’.

What author inspires you the most and why?

Wow, I have so many but if I have to select one it would be Iyanla Vanzant.  I am inspired by her well-grounded and passionate approach to life.  I also like her ability to connect and engage with her audience-- it is through her books or lectures.  Her straight to the point approach is a breath of fresh air.

What are your earliest memories of writing?

My earliest memory of writing is in middle school.  During the summer, my mother would always have my brother and I writing reports on various topics. Most of the time if we traveled we were required to write mini reports about our experiences.  Also, I didn’t grow up in the era of email, texting and instant messaging so I was always writing letters to my relatives and friends.  Back then we had pen pals too and my mother encouraged us to write.  She saved a book I wrote in middle school titled “Summer Love”.  As an adult, I read it and found it to be quite cheesy, but she liked it.

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?

Both. My mother encouraged me to write because she realized that writing was a natural extension of reading comprehension. And because writing (hand writing and not typing) was a thing of my generation is was second nature to write both for pleasure and for communication purposes. During the summer, writing was a fun activity we did and when I turned 14 I started journaling; I still journal to this day. So, writing has always been a part of my life.

 
What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?

When I am not writing or promoting my book, I am spending time with my husband and children or connecting with friends and family.


What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?

The message I would like for children to take away from YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL is that despite the outside differences, people are similar on the inside.  After reading my book, every child should understand that their skin color is unique and beautiful.  As for adults, I would like for them embrace having conversations with their children about race and other forms of bias they might encounter away from home.  I am sure the conversation will be uncomfortable for some, but I would like for my book to be a catalyst for that conversation.

How can your book be used in the classroom?

Educators may use my book in their classroom as an introduction to teaching diversity and multiculturalism to their students.  Also, I have activities on my website that they can print and use for their class at www.robynabdusamad.com.

You Are Beautiful will release November 28, 2014

Thank you for your time, Robyn and best of luck with your new book release.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Location! Location! Location!

This year, I decided to do something a little different. Instead of hiding away in my room, I decided to make my NaNo writing space a little more spacious.

I have commandeered the dining table for my writing pleasure for the month of November. I have access to the kitchen and my never-ending stash of tea, a big window that lets me have a wonderful view of our backyard and trees, also, the table, is a tall one. It allows me to still type standing when I get tired of sitting in the somewhat comfy chairs. The black file holder doubles as my snack box and a place to post my "do not disturb" sign! :D  You don't see it but I have headphones that allow me to block out noise and the random family member who poke about in the nearby kitchen. And the lighting is perfect! So far, it has been great for high daily word counts!

Location is everything! So, where is your writing space this month? What does it look like?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

How Do You Start Your Story?

At the beginning, end, middle, with the title, the pitch, the hook?

There is the whole divide of planning and plotting your story or simply writing from the seat of your pants. One thing I have noticed with my own writing, I don't plot or plan my story out. I try to but it turns out into a synopsis then goes into storytelling. Sometimes it starts at the beginning, the middle or with a simple title.

This year's story, Picture Perfect, (working title only) started in a crazed smathering of me trying to figure out my story. I had an idea but the idea was not really fully coherent but it was moving around quickly in my head so I just wrote it all down until about 3000+ words later, the story began to form more fluidly. Page five on my word doc begins chapter one. But this is NaNoWriMo. The first draft is expected to be trashy until we go back through it and wash, rinse and repeat a gazillion times.

So, how do you start your story? 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Are you ready for #NaNoWriMo 2014?



Tips for a Happy NaNoWriMo

Whether joining for the first time or making this year your annual trip down writer's lane, here are some of my tested and proven tips to get you through this hectic month of word collecting.

1) Clear your schedules. If you are like me, writing 1,667 words a day is slow but steady work. Other than work, my time will be spent either on my laptop or writing in a notebook, I wont have time to socialize, read books, cook, clean, blog, facebook or twitter (unless it is #NaNoWriMo related).

2) Create a comfortable work space. Yes, I used 'work' because NaNoWriMo will work you like a job! I like soft music, large table, cup of tea and preferably a window to write.

3) IF you just HAVE to get on the internet, visit NaNoWriMo.org. Create an account and join your fellow NaNo-ers for tips, support, motivation, encouragement and accountability throughout the month.

4) Write. Write. Write. Do not worry about perfection. Forget you have a delete button. This challenge is about getting your story down on paper, not craft. You can edit it later.

5) Got writer's block. Get up and stretch. Change writing space for a bit. Take a walk. Exercise. Visit Nanowrimo.org and get inspired by your fellow NaNo-ers.

6) Participate in Write-ins. Writing can be a lonely profession but it does not always have to be so solitary. Whether online or in person, join group writing activities. Write-ins are really fun. Check out this link to find one near you.

7) Snacks. Gotta have them! My faves are tea (you should see my tea stash :D ) fruit, nuts, and dark chocolate (almonds, peanuts, cashews or macadamias).

8) But the most important of all.......HAVE FUN!!!!!!! 50,000 words or not, just getting however many words you muster up on paper (or screen) alone is an achievement in itself!

You got this!

Happy Writing!!


Friday, October 31, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014


As I sit here waiting for the hours to tick away to begin NaNoWriMo, I wonder how I will fit this challenge along with PiBoIdMo (another fun writing challenge for picture book  writers), work (why does teacher-parent conferences HAVE to be in November?)and then of course Thanksgiving, with all the cooking and entertaining family (my dad and step-mom insist on coming here for Thanksgiving to check out my new living space.) Can someone please add a few extra hours in the day, pleeeeaaase! It only has to be for the month of November!

So how WILL I fit everything in this month? Plot and Planning, of course.

First off, EVERYONE in the house knows I'm participating in the challenges and have accepted the responsibility of grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning for the month of November.

Second, I have sketched a writing schedule for myself (in stone but it is flexible if I find some time outside of it to write) so do NOT bother me (unless the house is on fire) during that/those times.

Third, I have secured a spot on our brand new dining table as my place of writing. NO ONE is allowed to be in my spot during writing time.

Fourth, absolutely NO distractions. If I don't answer you, do NOT come looking for me to see if I heard you. Most like not because I will be wearing head phones to block out noise and distractions.

Fifth, if everyone abides by the rules, I will write them into my novel as good guys/gals. If not, well, you all know where I am going with this :D

In #NaNoWrimo, the object is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. If I write 1,667 words a day, that will get me to the winners line. But My goal is to write at least 2,000-2,500 words a day, that way, on Thanksgiving day I wont have to ignore my dad. I also hope to write outside my normal genre which is children's fiction and science fiction.

So what are your writing goals for the month of November?


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Guest Post: The Editing Process by Richard H. Hardy


 
The Editing Process
by Richard H. Hardy
Author of The Infinity Program

It’s interesting that a four letter word like ‘edit’ has so many different meanings.  I’ve heard that Eskimos have a dozen or so different words for ‘snow’.  I think it should be the same for the word ‘edit’.
When I was a young writer banging away on a typewriter, I thought of editing as the last stage in the process.  I thought it was just about correcting spelling and grammar.  Later I realized that editing was also about style and began editing for clarity, concision and flow.  When I reached this stage, the first draft then became little more than a warm-up—the real work began only upon its completion.

As I learned more about writing, I started to include structural changes as part of the editing process.  Like a tall building, a story’s structure must have a solid foundation.  In particular, I began to focus on the opening scene.

Starting points are not always obvious.  For example, if I wrote a story about a bank robbery, where would I begin?  Would it start with the thieves planning the heist?  Would it start as they entered the bank?  Would it start when a gun was stuck in someone’s face?  Would it start during their getaway?  The possibilities seemed endless to me.  My head used to spin!  Finally, I realized that imagination could create problems as well as solve them—it could present far too many options.  I learned then that logic and analysis also have a place in storytelling.  I began to break my story down to the bare essentials, the themes and ideas that engendered it.  Only then would I select a beginning that best suited my theme.  
When Camel Press accepted The Infinity Program for publication I thought I knew something about editing.  But my editors at Camel Press taught me a lot.  Their first copy edit caught numerous examples of inconsistencies.  A character I described as strong in one scene, suddenly became weak and wimpy in a subsequent scene.  And sometimes the physical description of my characters and their back stories were too sketchy.
The copy edit of The Infinity Program also required the addition of entirely new material.  The copy editor requested two new chapters and I discovered opportunities to pull the reader into the very heart of the story.
The final Edit of The Infinity Program was the line edit.  I had always thought I was a concise writer.  I was astonished when my superb editor showed me that I was not.  She stripped away dead phrases that weren’t really needed and replaced weak words with stronger ones.  She improved the cadences, creating a much better flow.   It was a humbling experience but an invaluable lesson.
The editing process is enormously important.   If you can’t find a skilled editor to read your work, my advice would be to find all the books you can about the editing process.  In a way, I think, writing is like a three stage rocket at Cape Kennedy.  The first stage, the creativity and the imagination, gives you the lift-off.  The second stage, your own editing skills, gets you into orbit, and the third stage, the editor, gets you to your destination.  



The Infinity Program Summary


Jon Graeme and Harry Sale are unlikely friends. Harry is a world-class programmer, but his abrasive personality alienates co-workers. In contrast, Jon is a handsome and easy-going technical writer, the low man on the IT totem pole.

Sharing a love of nature, the men set out together, planning to go their separate ways--Jon on a hike and Harry, fly fishing. Three days later, Jon arrives at the rendezvous point, but his friend is nowhere in sight. When Jon finds Harry unconscious on the floor of a cave, Harry claims to have been lying there the entire time. But he is neither cold nor hungry. What Jon doesn't know is that Harry fell into an underground cavern, where he came into contact with an alien quantum computer.

Back at work, Harry jettisons his regular tasks and concentrates exclusively on inventing new operating language to access the alien system. In the process he crashes his office's Super Computer and is fired. Jon convinces the company to give Harry a second chance, arguing that the system he has invented will make them millions.

Jon has no idea what havoc Harry is about to unleash.

Richard H. Hardy's Bio:

Richard H. Hardy was born in Glasgow, Scotland, during a week of relentless bombing raids just before the close of World War II. The day he was born an incendiary bomb fell on the church across the street from where he lived, so he is fond of saying that he entered the world with a big adrenaline rush.

His family later moved to England and then on to America.

After college Richard bounced through a series of temporary jobs as he traveled around the country, wanting nothing more than to write fiction. A job driving a library van allowed him free time to write several short stories and work on a novel.

He and his wife moved to New Hampshire, where he took an entry level job at a software company. He was soon promoted to the technical writing department and ended up producing over 500,000 words of online documentation. After a few years he was promoted to the programming department and ended up as the Senior EDI Programmer, creating EDI maps and writing UNIX scripts and troubleshooting on AIX systems throughout the U.S. and Canada.

After he retired, he started writing fiction again. The Infinity Program is his first published novel. 

Formats/Prices: $5.95 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance
Pages: 250
Release: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603819336

Amazon buy link
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1603819339?tag=tributebooks-20

Barnes and Noble buy link
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-infinity-program-richard-h-hardy/1118958489?ean=9781603819336

Smashwords buy link
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/422304

iBooks buy link
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-infinity-program/id849045494?mt=11&uo=4

Kobo buy link
http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-infinity-program

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Teaser Tuesday (14) Mr. Monk on the Couch by Lee Goldberg

I'm starting back up my Teaser Tuesdays (again! I know!) This week, I am reading Mr. Monk on the Couch by Lee Goldberg. I love the MONK show and Mr. Goldberg does an excellent job of capturing Monk's very essence on the page. 


It was shortly after eight the next morning when my phone rang. As soon as I heard it, I knew for certain that it was Captain Stottlemeyer and that someone was dead. I was right.

Sunrise in San Francisco almost always casts light on a corpse.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Book Review: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold


Book Blurb:
Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new young adult series of adventure mystery stories by Iain Reading

This first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations. 
 
After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales, Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty's adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada. As the plot continues to unfold, this spirited story will have readers anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada's Yukon.
 
Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves. 

There are currently four books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series available for sale on Amazon:





 
About Iain Reading

Iain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations. He has published 4 books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series. For more information, go to http://www.kittyhawkworld.com/


Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7276101.Iain_Reading

 My Review:
A surprisingly fun but a bit tedious read. Kitty Hawk is an adventurous young lady whole is spending her summer in Alaska observing whale social behavior that she believes will be valuable to researchers and students alike. Just as her summer is coming to an end, she stumbles upon a mystery and an even greater adventure she thought would come out of her summer study.

What I liked:
I liked the character, Kitty Hawk, because she was intelligent, ambitious, brave, strong-willed and filled with curiosity. Kitty certainly knew how to get herself into trouble and how to get out of it, her and her "little voice" inside her head. The story is filled with historical facts and information about the Gold Rush era which makes it a fascinating read. I love she was a girl all about science and nature, she didn't get all love-struck and turn her summer into Edward-ville. I wish Walter the whale made a few more appearances throughout the book :) But I loved the various twists in the story :D

What I didn't like:

It was a tedious read. It took a long time to get to the actual 'adventure' and 'mystery' described in the book blurb. I feel like much of her summer adventure could have been summed up into a chapter or two (certainly did NOT need a chapter zero) at most before delving into the crust of the story which was about her getting herself kidnapped, forced to trek up a mountain, then have her plan hijacked to retake stolen property all the while getting educated about the history of the Yukon gold rush and other historical facts and legends. I was a little concerned about how quickly she became an endeared friend to the guys who kidnapped her and forced her into helping them.
 
But in all, I give Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold 3 stars because I really did like it.

Member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators