Saturday, 31 December 2011

a blog year in review

the year that was


It has been an interesting year, blog-wise. 
I took this screenshot at about 9pm, December 31, 2011, (at +8GMT, in case you're reading this somewhere from the USA and wondering whether I'm living in the future) and it astounds me how much this blog has grown from when I first started it in 2009. To be fair, I was primarily blogging at tabulas from 2004 up until the middle of this year when I finally decided to move over permanently to blogspot.
Still, 11K pageviews, approximately 1/3 of which was in December alone is astounding - for me. I guess for some of you out there with like a gazillion page views and thousands of comments, this is no big deal. But I'm mind-boggled, I really am. This never happened during my 8 years at tabulas.
So what changed?

1. A-to-Z blogging challenge
This annual blogging challenge is brought to you by Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out.
I only found out about it at the end of March via Susanna (who's getting married next year, congrats!) and decided that since I didn't have time to do something as massive as Script Frenzy, I would try this out for a change. I managed to write a mini novelette consisting of 26 flash fictions (missed a few days, where I put up filler posts instead) over at tabulas, here. I might possibly (very high chance) do it again in 2012, though I'm not quite sure if I will do it in exactly the same format. We'll see.
It was through this blogfest that I met the lovely Damyanti who has been an awesome blog friend, twitter buddy, and triberr head-chief. Do check out her book A to Z stories of life and death, which was written out of this blogging challenge.

2. Friday Flash
Over at Twitter, I've been following (rather sporadically, sometimes) the #fridayflash hashtag, which is where all these random tweeps link up their flash fiction. This is then compiled by J.M. Strother at the Friday Flash collector (or rather we help him to compile in our own links), and we visit each others blogs, have a nice dose of fiction on a Friday and leave comments. I'm pretty good at the reading part, but pretty bad at the commenting part. Sorry. I resolve to do better next year.

3. Triberr
Jumping back to meeting Damyanti, she invited me into this interesting twitter/blog thing called Triberr sometime in August. This is where you gather a bunch of bloggers with twitter, and you tweet out each others' blogposts as and when they come out. Damyanti did a post about it here (I'm too lazy to do a full write up about it now), but the main drift is this - since she hooked me in to our wonderful Triberr group called the Writer Warriors, I've gotten to know quite a few awesome writers, including one who was from Malaysia (Hi JC!), who are all at different stages of their writing careers. I've also been finding great content via their sites, and getting traffic from the tweets they send out on my behalf too. So a HUGE thank you to all my wonderful triberr mates!

4. Blogfests, book reviews and book tours
a) Rachel Harrie's Writers Platform Building Campaign
I don't recall how I found out about this. It was probably some blog-surfing and/or twitter news that caught my attention, but this was pretty fun. Met quite a few new twitter friends and blog friends, and got some of my flash fiction compiled in a book. Check that out here.
b) Rule of Three (#REN3)
Co-hosted by Damyanti, Stu, Li and JC (are you getting a thread here?) this was a blogfest where we wrote 4 flash fiction in the same little town of Renaissance. That was pretty fun to write, and though I didn't win anything, it was a great read overall and found me new friends as well!
c) Novel Publicity's book tour
I think I found Emlyn Chand through G+. Or maybe it was Goodreads, or both. I'm pretty sure Twitter was way later. Well, however it was, I then stumbled upon Novel Publicity's social media tour, which was what I've been participating in the past three weeks. I'm finding it quite fun. This may continue into the long term. Besides, who would ever say no to FREE BOOKS? =)

So to summarise, what changed?
In two words, mainly twitter, and Damyanti.

the year that will be
This blog will still be pretty much focused on my writings, with my (hopefully) weekly #fridayflash (every Friday, DUH). I also intend to take part in several recurring blogfests, such as A to Z in April, Ren3 in May and the next writers' platform building campaign (probably have to skip the one in Feb - April, but hoping for the August round). After all, I had such a blast this year!
Book reviews will be another constant on this site - all my reviews are crossposted to Goodreads, and sometimes Smashwords (if purchased from there) and Barnes & Noble. I'm still not reviewing on Amazon because they insist that I must be a customer before I can review anything and it's just not worth my effort to buy anything on Amazon. (Also, I have a bugbear with them because they refuse to sell any e-books to AsiaPac.) If you want me to review your book, drop me a note. ;)

One thing I hope to do in 2012 though, is to resume my fireplace series. Once upon a time, when I was part of a youth group called firebrands, I used to write a weekly devotional for my cell group members. It started off as a rather cut and paste thing (oh look, nice verse! Oh look, nice devotional off the internet!), but this slowly evolved into stuff that I actually wrote. Part of the evolving meant that I wrote less often, but on deeper subjects. I graduated from the firebrands, went off to study, came home to work, and somewhere along the way, stopped writing fireplaces. And then I realised something - when I stopped writing, I stopped thinking. Because I mostly process things as I write, or deal with issues I'm struggling with via writing, when I stopped writing these devotionals (or even things that are vaguely spiritual), I found that I tended to stop really thinking about God. I reached a plateau. I stopped growing. So one thing I'm planning to do in 2012 is to keep a daily spiritual journal, and to make it really daily, I bought a diary with one day per page. No half pages for me, even on weekends. And to take you on that journey with me, I plan to resume writing these fireplaces, from that deep dark place in myself that needs to be processed. (You can cheer now, KK, I know you want to).

It's 11pm now, and I'm going to toddle off to celebrate the new year with my family.

Have a great one, where ever you are!

Friday, 30 December 2011

#fridayflash: Crimbo 2 - a crisis of faith

Laney pulled the blankets up to her chin, staring at the ceiling. She nudged her husband.
“What is it?” Jackson said sleepily.
“What if this isn’t real?”
“What’s real?”
“What if Christmas isn’t real and tomorrow we’ll wake up to realise that there was never any baby called Jesus, and all of it is just… crimbo?”
“We’ll have to fall asleep first to wake up.”
“Jay, I’m serious,” she said, sitting up.
“Must we talk about this now?”
She prodded him with a pillow until he sat up.
“Fine, I’m up.”
“What if all of this is just a myth?”
“Great. Then Santa is real.”
“I’m serious, Jackson!”
“Why must you always have a crisis of faith in the middle of the night?” He peered at the bedside clock. “Darn it Laney, it’s two a.m. and I need to be in church by seven!”
“Jay, please,” she said, crying now.
“El, just go to sleep. You’ll wake up tomorrow thinking how stupid you were last night. You always do.” He held her close, her tears dripping down his bare chest.
“I know,” she whispered. “But sometimes it’s just too difficult to believe.”

---

I was trying to write something longer than this, but it seemed to me to be a perfect ending.
Hope I'm not boring you with this whole crimbo thing. It's just a series that is playing out in my head. Just about every year.
I'm trying to move on. Promise.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

#bookreview: Farsighted by Emlyn Chand

I have a pretty irrational fear of growing blind. It has something to do with wearing glasses since I was seven, I suppose. Add to that my really bad habit of reading in bed, especially now with the iPad, when I can switch off the lights and lie on my side and read until I fall asleep. Sometimes I wish I could wake up with magically fixed eyes. It’s not going to happen, so I just have to take care that they don’t get any worse. I’m a pretty independent person and I just can’t imagine life without being able to read, watch movies, drive myself about and all the things we do that we take for granted.

FarsightedFarsighted by Emlyn Chand
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In Emlyn Chand’s Farsighted, sixteen-year-old Alex Kosmitoras has never been able to see. He ‘sees’ the world through the things he hears, touches and smells and to mess things up, he’s beginning hear and smell things that aren’t there. The mysterious new psychic next door tells him he can see the future - but the future he’s seeing is one where his new friend and crush, Simmi, is in terrible danger.

It’s not often that you get a story written in the voice of a blind person, and Chand did a good job of it, though there were some strange instances where Alex knows that Shapri is taking a “soggy bite of something using her school-issued spork” - how would he know what kind of utensil she’s using if he can’t see? Chand also injects some multiculturalism into the story as well - Simmi, short for Simran Kaur Shergill, is from New Delhi, India. I was a little skeptical of the “coconut hair” descriptions though - maybe the oils they use here in Malaysia are nothing like those in India, because they really did not smell of coconut (though apparently they are made from it).

I didn’t bother much with the runes and the prophecies included at the beginning of each chapter. Not quite my thing, and I don’t think it really added much to the story anyway. It was an interesting idea though, if you’re into that kind of stuff.

Overall I enjoyed the story, though I did feel that the ending was rather… sudden. I don’t know why, but it just felt a little rushed and abrupt towards its conclusion.

- I received this book free for review purposes from Novel Publicity as part of the Social Media Whirlwind Tour.

View all my reviews  


Announcing the Farsighted Social Media Whirlwind Tour!
As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Farsighted eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including lots of Amazon gift cards (up to $100 in amount) and 5 autographed copies of the book. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 30th, so you don’t miss out.

To Win the Prizes

  1. Purchase your copy of Farsighted for just 99 cents on Amazon or Barnes & Noble
  2. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes
  3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!
  4. BONUS: If you leave a comment on this blog post, you have another chance at $100!
  5. DOUBLE BONUS: If I receive more comments than any other blogger, *I* win $100. 

...And I can win too!

Over 100 bloggers are participating in this gigantic event, and there are plenty of prizes for us too. The blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card as well. So when you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to say that I referred you, so I can get a point in the poll.  

The Featured Events include:

 Thursday, Facebook sharing contest!
Stop by Novel Publicity’s Facebook page and share their latest post (you’ll see the Farsighted book cover included with it). It’s ridiculously easy to win! On Friday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. An autographed copy of Farsighted is also up for grabs.  

Friday, special contest on the author’s site!
Are you ready for some more fun? Take a picture of yourself with your copy of Farsighted either in paperback or on an eReading device, then post it to Emlyn Chand’s Facebook page or email a copy to author@emlynchand.com. You just way win one of three Amazon gift cards! A $100 prize will go to the photo with the most interesting setting (so put your holiday travel time to work for you). Another $50 will go the funniest photo, and one more prize of $50 will go the scariest photo—this is a paranormal YA book after all. An autographed copy of Farsighted will go to one randomly selected entrant. For more details about this contest, please visit www.emlynchand.com.  

Remember, it’s all about the books!


About Farsighted:
Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t. When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider. Farsighted is the winner of the 2011 Dragonfly eBook Awards. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

 About the Author:
Emlyn Chand has always loved to hear and tell stories, having emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). When she’s not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm, Novel Publicity. Emlyn loves to connect with readers and is available throughout the social media interweb. Visit her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Farsighted - another #whirlwind tour!

Announcing the Farsighted Social Media Whirlwind Tour!

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Farsighted eBook edition is just 99 cents this week.
What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including lots of Amazon gift cards (up to $100 in amount) and 5 autographed copies of the book. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 30th, so you don’t miss out.

To Win the Prizes

  1. Purchase your copy of Farsighted for just 99 cents on Amazon or Barnes & Noble
  2. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes
  3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!
  4. BONUS: If you leave a comment on this blog post, you have another chance at $100!
  5. DOUBLE BONUS: If I receive more comments than any other blogger, *I* win $100.

...And I can win too!

Over 100 bloggers are participating in this gigantic event, and there are plenty of prizes for us too. The blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card as well. So when you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to say that I referred you, so I can get a point in the poll.

The Featured Events include:

Monday, a guest blog on Novel Publicity!
Emlyn kicks off the tour on the Novel Publicity Free Advice blog by discussing her brightly burning passion for books in a guest post entitled “My journey through the pages and toward a life-long love of reading.” One commenter will win an autographed copy of Farsighted. Don’t forget to enter for the other contest prizes while you’re over there!

Tuesday, Twitter sharing contest!
A tweet is tiny, only 140 characters. But on Tuesday, it could win you $50. Send the following tweet across the twittersphere, and you just may win a $50 Amazon gift card. An autographed copy of Farsighted is also up for grabs. The winners will be announced Wednesday morning. Here’s the tweet: Looking for a fun read to round out your holiday break? The paranormal YA hit Farsighted is just 99 cents! http://ow.ly/81Dt1 #whirlwind

Wednesday, Google+ sharing contest!
Yup, there’s yet another awesome opportunity to win a $50 Amazon gift card, and this time it just takes a single click! Visit Google+ and share Emlyn Chand’s most recent post (you’ll see the Stay Farsighted book cover included with it). On Thursday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. An autographed copy of Farsighted is also up for grabs. Two chances to win with just one click! How about that?

Thursday, Facebook sharing contest!
Stop by Novel Publicity’s Facebook page and share their latest post (you’ll see the Farsighted book cover included with it). It’s ridiculously easy to win! On Friday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. An autographed copy of Farsighted is also up for grabs.

Friday, special contest on the author’s site!
Are you ready for some more fun? Take a picture of yourself with your copy of Farsighted either in paperback or on an eReading device, then post it to Emlyn Chand’s Facebook page or email a copy to author@emlynchand.com. You just way win one of three Amazon gift cards! A $100 prize will go to the photo with the most interesting setting (so put your holiday travel time to work for you). Another $50 will go the funniest photo, and one more prize of $50 will go the scariest photo—this is a paranormal YA book after all. An autographed copy of Farsighted will go to one randomly selected entrant. For more details about this contest, please visit www.emlynchand.com.

Remember, it’s all about the books!


About
Farsighted:
Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t. When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider. Farsighted is the winner of the 2011 Dragonfly eBook Awards. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
About the Author:
Emlyn Chand has always loved to hear and tell stories, having emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). When she’s not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm, Novel Publicity. Emlyn loves to connect with readers and is available throughout the social media interweb. Visit her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Now please enjoy this exciting excerpt from Farsighted...


“Did Dad tell you? A new tenant moved into the old pharmacy next door.”
“Really?” I ask, not letting on I already know. If I feign ignorance, Mom’ll divulge all the details. “What is it?”
“It’s a psychic shop,” Her voice crackles with excitement like a fire that’s just beginning to burn. “The All-Seeing Miss Teak. Isn’t that cute? Miss Teak, Mystic. Ha, I wonder if that’s her real name.”
I laugh. “That is funny. Never had a psychic in town before. What’s she like?”
“Oh, she’s very friendly. Why don’t you go over and say ‘hi.’ I’m sure she’d like to meet you.”
“Okay, I think I will.” I’m incredibly intrigued, because first off, it’s a psychic shop—how weird is that?—and second, its presence made Dad super uncomfortable—also very cool. I waste no time heading next door to check out the scene.
As I step cautiously into the new shop, a recording of soft, instrumental music greets me. I can make out chimes and a string instrument I don’t recognize but for some reason reminds me of snake charmers. The smell of incense fills my nostrils, which explains the burning I detected earlier.
“Hello?” I call out into the otherwise quiet room.
Nobody answers. I walk in deeper, sweeping my cane out in front of me in a metronome fashion. This place is new to me, so I need to be especially careful while moving around.
Thump! Despite my precautions, I stub my toe on something hard, big, and made of wood. Just my luck to stub the same toe twice in one day. I reach down to press my fingers into my throbbing foot to alleviate some of the pain. Something teeters before rolling off of the chest and across the floor; the sound it makes indicates a curved path. Suddenly, the object stops. Somebody’s stopped it.
“Hello?” I call again.
“Hello,” a deep, feminine voice responds, placing more emphasis on the first syllable than the second.
“I- I’m sorry I knocked that thing over. I didn’t mean to…” I hope she’s not angry. Probably not a good idea to get on a psychic’s bad side.
“That wasn’t just a thing, it’s a crystal ball,” she says as she walks over, sending my blood pulsing through my veins. I sense her looking at me for a moment before she places the ball back on top of the chest.
“Can it see the future?” I ask, allowing my curiosity to outweigh my uneasiness.
“No.” After a pause lasting several beats, she continues. “But I can see the future sometimes when I look into it.”
“Oh, okay.” I tighten my hand around my cane and turn to leave. It may not be the most polite thing to do, but all of this hocus-pocus stuff is freaking me out more than I would’ve guessed.
The psychic lady speaks again, stopping me cold. “Don’t run away, Alex Kosmitoras.” She must’ve spoken to Mom earlier today. That must be how she knows my name.
“I’m not running away,” I say meekly. “I’m just going back over to Sweet Blossoms.”
“Don’t run away,” she repeats—this time she speaks louder and with more energy. “Don’t run away from your abilities. They are gifts.”
“What?” I ask in confusion. What abilities is she talking about?
“You already know. Watch. Listen. Be open to your gifts.”
I turn to face Miss Teak, but find she’s already gone, returning to wherever she was before I got there.
Is it safe to leave? I trail my fingers across the wooden box I ran into earlier; a thick coat of dust clings to the tips as I pull away. If this shop just opened, why is it already so dirty? I wipe my hands over my shirt to get the gritty substance off. Shivers rock my whole body. Something about this place is wrong, and I’m not sticking around to figure out what. Tapping my cane along the floor, I’m able to find the exit without knocking into anything else.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Crimbo!


Wiktionary describes Crimbo as this:
(UK, slang) Christmas, especially the more secular and commercial aspects

I like Urban Dictionary's entries, though:
  1. Crimbo is a slang word for christmas
  2. A secular version of Christmas, esp. the commercial aspects of the holiday.
  3. The online celebration of the Christmas holiday, partaken by those who do not chose to celebrate Hannukkimbo. --> totally SO KOL ;)
  4. A word used to describe Christmas by people who are ashamed of their non Christian identity but still want to join in with the festive activities.
(Err, there was one that meant criminal, but let's leave that out here)

I wrote an article a while back, titled Merry Consumerism: The Fall of Christmas. Nothing much has changed since then. Carols are still a pain, and in some odd way, I realise that more musician/worship leader friends are sick of carols than the regular Joes and Janes who seem to love singing carols at the top of their lungs ALL THE WAY THROUGH DECEMBER. DURING WORSHIP IN CHURCH. I don't know. Carols have their place, I suppose, and for me it tends to be more of a thing for outreaches, visitations, and so on, rather than for singing in church. Then again, I'm picky in dividing songs that are meant for church/corporate worship, personal worship, performance, etc... so maybe it's just me. Maybe no one else cares. I'm not entirely sure if God does either, actually.

The other thing I hate the most about Christmas is this whole relationship thing. Like sometimes, I feel like I've failed at being woman again this year, by still being single. It's like, look, a whole year has gone by again and I'm still alone at Christmas *cue emo music and #foreveralone face*. To make things worse (okay, not really worse, but well, you know) you know that video thing going around about this guy proposing by meme? Um well, he was my first ever crush. Waaaayyyy back in high school. I feel old. I mean like old, old. Old maid kind of old.

I guess what I'm trying to say, in my roundabout way, is that I don't believe in Christmas. It's basically all Crimbo now, anyway. It's all about gifts and parties and events and as everybody knows, Jesus wasn't really born on Christmas day, and it's all that pagan winter solstice thing *rolls eyes* and if what you really want is a birthday party, go ahead and call it that, alright? Besides, who ever celebrates a person's birthday once they're dead anyway, you guys loco or something?(Yes, I know I'm totally a Grinch.)

Advent, though, is an interesting thought, and I was totally unprepared for it this year, having only realised the start of Advent midweek after the Sunday it actually started. And then I was caught up with Project Dance Penang and the Social Media Whirlwind Tour organised by Novel Publicity (One more tour starting tomorrow and I'm done!) and I couldn't give much more thought to it.
Next year though, I'm going to mark this down on the calendar (note to self: get a yearly calendar and start marking down dates!) and follow through on it. I don't know what form it will be, because there seem to be several different ways to observe Advent depending on what denomination/church you are from, and mine doesn't observe it, I think, but there are times when I think that certain traditions should be tried on for size. They don't fit everyone, surely, but there are times, when it is right, when it is proper to do so - and it really frees you up for God to work in your life, no?

So before I totally destroy your wonderful Christmas celebrations with my grouchy outlook, let me wish you a Merry Crimbo and may your tree be evergreen. (Don't ask me what I mean by that. I don't know.)

Saturday, 24 December 2011

#bookreview: The Sting of the Scorpio by Monique Domovitch




“My husband, a King Midas,” she said with a sigh.
“What are you talking about?” asked Alex sleepily.
“Haven’t you heard of the story of the King who turns everything he touched to gold?” she asked.
“Sounds great.”
“Oh yes,” she continued. “Until one day, he touched his daughter by mistake and she turned into a golden statue…”





Consumed by his passion, Alexander Ivanov throws himself into work, often ignoring his new family. His greed for more and his single-minded obsession for success brings him to high places, but at what cost? Power is everything but what is power without the ones you love? It seems that the more he succeeds, the more he loses.
Brigitte is trying everything she can to keep Alex’s love and attention. She finds herself successively giving up the things that matter to her for the love she has for Alex, only to be betrayed by him over and over again. When she meets Gerald Masson, Alex’s jealousy is aroused - except that Brigitte is still in love with Alex, and Gerald is too honourable to chase another man’s wife.

In this compelling continuation to Scorpio Rising, Monique Domovitch explores the power of ambition, greed and revenge through the tumultuous marriage of Alex and Brigitte Ivanov. Andrew McGregor, Anne Turner and William Brandon take their turns on stage, as well as colourful new characters, such as Natalia Berenson, the ex-movie star and Gerald Masson, the grieving widower, each one with their own ambitions - including revenge against Alex! The Sting of the Scorpio carries a timely message for young graduates seeking to rise in their careers - be careful who you step on to get there.

---

Announcing the Scorpio Rising Social Media Whirlwind Tour!
As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Scorpio Rising eBook edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including 2 Kindle Fires, Amazon gift cards up to $100 in amount, 5 autographed copies of the book, and 5 autographed copies of its recently released sequel, The Sting of The Scorpio. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 23rd, so you don’t miss out.  

To Win the Prizes:

  1. Purchase your copy of Scorpio Rising for just 99 cents on Amazon
  2. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes
  3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!
  4. BONUS: If you leave a comment on this blog post, you have another chance at $100!

...And I can win too!

Over 100 bloggers are participating in this gigantic event, and there are plenty of prizes for us too. The blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card as well. So when you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to say that I referred you, so I can get a point in the poll.  

The Featured Events include:

Friday, special contest on the author’s site! Win a Kindle Fire! Two are up for grabs! Visit Monique’s website to leave a comment on any of her posts and sign-up for her author newsletter. One person will win for each method, so be sure to do both.

Remember, it’s all about the books!

 
About Scorpio Rising:
Set in New York and Paris amid the glamorous and competitive worlds of art and real estate, Scorpio Rising takes the reader from the late 1940s to the 1960s through the tumultuous lives of its heroes. Alex Ivanov is the son of a Russian immigrant and part-time prostitute. He yearns to escape his sordid life and achieve fame and fortune. His dreams of becoming a world-class builder are met with countless obstacles, yet he perseveres in the hope of someday receiving the recognition he craves. Half a world away, Brigitte Dartois is an abused teenager who runs into the arms of a benefactor with an agenda all his own. When she finds out that her boss has an ulterior motive, she flees again, determined to earn her living through her art. This career brings her fame, but also the unwanted attention of her early abuser. Monique Domovitch’s debut novel, Scorpio Rising, is a compelling tale filled with finely etched characters and a superb understanding of the power of ambition. Scorpio Rising promises to resonate with all who once had a dream. Get it on Amazon.
About The Sting of The Scorpio:
In Scorpio Rising, Monique Domovitch presented a compelling tale filled with colorful characters and the manipulation of power, ambition, and greed. Now she gives us its spellbinding sequel, The Sting of the Scorpio, where Alexander Ivanov returns to New York with his new bride, Brigitte. The real estate industry is ripe with opportunity. Blessed with irresistible charm, ambition, and the single-minded obsession to succeed, Alex plots and manipulates his way to almost mystical success. Everything he touches turns to gold, but it’s never enough. When a hostile takeover bid leaves him struggling to save his beloved company, he suspects those closest to him of plotting his downfall. Brigitte, the beautiful redhead who abandoned her country and her career to become his wife, feels alone. In return, Alex has betrayed her time and again, each indiscretion cutting deeper into her soul. Brigitte’s son, David yearns to be an artist, but Alex’s plans leave no room for such frivolous goals. He grooms a reluctant David to become the heir apparent until a devastating tragedy attracts the attention of another young man. The Sting of the Scorpio is a rich tale of a man at the mercy of his own greed and a woman bound by her need for love. Get it on Amazon.  
About the Author:
Monique Domovitch began writing at the age of fifty-five. Two years later, she has two self-published novels—her Scorpio Series—and a three-book deal with Penguin, for books she has written under the name of Carol Ann Martin. Never seen without her laptop, Monique and her husband travel the world and divide the rest of their time between their homes in British Columbia and California. Monique loves to hear from readers! Visit her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

#bookreview: Scorpio Rising by Monique Domovitch

In New York, Alex Ivanov slaves away night and day to fulfil his ambitions of becoming a renowned architect.
In Paris, the beautiful Brigitte Dartois flees from place to place, trying to find a safe harbour where no one will take advantage of her.
Alex finds his meaning in architecture, Brigitte finds her escape in art.
The only thing they have in common is their strong drive and yearning to break free; to be something more than they used to be. Then their ambitions bring them together in an unexpected way.

In Scorpio Rising, Monique Domovitch skillfully paints the lives of Alex and Brigitte on her canvas of words, enticing you into their lives so that you empathise with their struggles and fears and wish fervently for their success. All her characters are vivid and real, even those with minimal page time.

On the downside, the actual meeting between Alex and Brigitte seemed a little rushed (my Kobo says they only meet at 92% of the way through the book), and I would have loved a slightly longer build up in their relationship. Also, I’m a bit of a prude in my reading tastes, so I was slightly put off every once in a while by the casual sexual descriptions scattered throughout, though it was not enough to really detract from the reading experience. I guess I still belong to the era of stolen kisses.

Domovitch ends the book on a bit of a cliff hanger, making you want to read the next book to see what happens.

Next up: The Sting of the Scorpio.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Announcing the Scorpio Rising Social Media Whirlwind Tour!




As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Scorpio Rising eBook edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week.
What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including 2 Kindle Fires, Amazon gift cards up to $100 in amount, 5 autographed copies of the book, and 5 autographed copies of its recently released sequel, The Sting of The Scorpio. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 23rd, so you don’t miss out.

To Win the Prizes:

  1. Purchase your copy of Scorpio Rising for just 99 cents on Amazon 
  2. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes
  3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!
  4. BONUS: If you leave a comment on this blog post, you have another chance at $100!

...And I can win too!

Over 100 bloggers are participating in this gigantic event, and there are plenty of prizes for us too. The blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card as well. So when you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to say that I referred you, so I can get a point in the poll. [My blog name is Deeply Shallow, in case you forgot ;) ]

The Featured Events include:

Monday, Blogaganza on Novel Publicity!
We’re kicking-off on the Novel Publicity Free Advice blog. We’ll ask the writer 5 fun and random questions to get everyone talking. Leave a comment or question in response to the post, and you may win an autographed copy of Scorpio Rising or its sequel, The Sting of The Scorpio. Don’t forget to enter for the other contest prizes while you’re over there!
Tuesday, Twitter sharing contest!
A tweet is tiny, only 140 characters. But on Tuesday, it could win you $50. Send the following tweet across the twittersphere, and you just may win a $50 Amazon gift card. Autographed copies of Scorpio Rising and its sequel, The Sting of The Scorpio, are also up for grabs. The winner will be announced Wednesday morning. Here’s the tweet: Looking for a read that's full of love, drama, and betrayal? Scorpio Rising has been reduced to 99 cents! http://ow.ly/7zA2s #whirlwind
Wednesday, Google+ sharing contest!
Yup, there’s yet another awesome opportunity to win a $50 Amazon gift card, and this time it just takes a single click! Visit Google+ and share Emlyn Chand’s most recent post (you’ll see the Scorpio Rising book cover included with it). On Thursday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. Autographed copies of Scorpio Rising and its sequel, The Sting of The Scorpio, are also up for grabs. Three chances to win! How about that?
Thursday, Facebook sharing contest!
Stop by Novel Publicity’s Facebook page and share their latest post (you’ll see the Scorpio Rising book cover included with it). It’s ridiculously easy to win! On Friday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. Autographed copies of Scorpio Rising and its sequel, The Sting of The Scorpio, are also up for grabs.
Friday, special contest on the author’s site!
Win a Kindle Fire! Two are up for grabs! Visit Monique’s website to leave a comment on any of her posts and sign-up for her author newsletter. One person will win for each method, so be sure to do both.

Remember, it’s all about the books!

 
About Scorpio Rising: Set in New York and Paris amid the glamorous and competitive worlds of art and real estate, Scorpio Rising takes the reader from the late 1940s to the 1960s through the tumultuous lives of its heroes. Alex Ivanov is the son of a Russian immigrant and part-time prostitute. He yearns to escape his sordid life and achieve fame and fortune. His dreams of becoming a world-class builder are met with countless obstacles, yet he perseveres in the hope of someday receiving the recognition he craves. Half a world away, Brigitte Dartois is an abused teenager who runs into the arms of a benefactor with an agenda all his own. When she finds out that her boss has an ulterior motive, she flees again, determined to earn her living through her art. This career brings her fame, but also the unwanted attention of her early abuser. Monique Domovitch’s debut novel, Scorpio Rising, is a compelling tale filled with finely etched characters and a superb understanding of the power of ambition. Scorpio Rising promises to resonate with all who once had a dream. Get it on Amazon.

About The Sting of The Scorpio: In Scorpio Rising, Monique Domovitch presented a compelling tale filled with colorful characters and the manipulation of power, ambition, and greed. Now she gives us its spellbinding sequel, The Sting of the Scorpio, where Alexander Ivanov returns to New York with his new bride, Brigitte. The real estate industry is ripe with opportunity. Blessed with irresistible charm, ambition, and the single-minded obsession to succeed, Alex plots and manipulates his way to almost mystical success. Everything he touches turns to gold, but it’s never enough. When a hostile takeover bid leaves him struggling to save his beloved company, he suspects those closest to him of plotting his downfall. Brigitte, the beautiful redhead who abandoned her country and her career to become his wife, feels alone. In return, Alex has betrayed her time and again, each indiscretion cutting deeper into her soul. Brigitte’s son, David yearns to be an artist, but Alex’s plans leave no room for such frivolous goals. He grooms a reluctant David to become the heir apparent until a devastating tragedy attracts the attention of another young man. The Sting of the Scorpio is a rich tale of a man at the mercy of his own greed and a woman bound by her need for love. Get it on Amazon.

About the Author: Monique Domovitch began writing at the age of fifty-five. Two years later, she has two self-published novels—her Scorpio Series—and a three-book deal with Penguin, for books she has written under the name of Carol Ann Martin. Never seen without her laptop, Monique and her husband travel the world and divide the rest of their time between their homes in British Columbia and California. Monique loves to hear from readers! Visit her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Please enjoy this guest post from the author

Deciding to become a writer was a natural extension of falling in love


People often ask me what attracted me to the life of a writer, and I have to say it was a natural extension of falling in love…with books, which I have been for as long as I can remember.
I remember my mother taking me to the public library when I was as young as four years old. That was when she introduced me to Madeline, the little schoolgirl. As teenager, I discovered Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames, and then Harlequin books. And then I really fell in love for the first time. I was in England where my friends introduced me to a book by Wilbur Smith.

I think I hadn't read ten pages of his book--can't remember the title anymore--when I knew this was it. I could spend the rest of my life in bed with this writer's books.

Over the next few years, Wilbur Smith’s books made me discover Africa, where I met animals I'd never heard of, and villains the likes of which I hope to never meet. I was swept into his stories of love and passion and greed; stories from which I never wanted to walk away. I devoured book after book of his, until, of course, the inevitable happened. I caught up with every last one of his books and was facing a long void until his next book hit the stands. And I, fickle reader that I am, had an affair with a few other authors, and then it happened again. I read Dominic Dunne. And wham. I was in love again.

With Dominic Dunne’s books, I spent time with the truly rich and the truly manipulative. How can anyone forget books like The Two Mrs. Grenvilles, or An Inconvenient Woman, or A Season in Purgatory? Once I discovered them, I was hooked. Forgive me Dominic, for I betrayed you too when I discovered my next big love, Nelson De Mille.

De Mille is a master of sharp, snappy talk, and he makes all those words come out of the mouth of a sexy good cop with a bad attitude--John Corey. Now here's the funny part. I don't really know what John Corey looks like, except that he has scars on his chest from some bullet wounds. I also know that John Corey is almost as fickle when it comes to love as I am when it comes to favorite authors. He seems to fall in love with a different woman in almost every one of his adventures. That is, until he met and married Kate. But who knows, so far she's only been around for a couple of novels. For all I know she'll be dropped off, maybe even killed in the next book, and then sexy John will be available again and I can go on dreaming.

Now here's something you might not know about me. I'm married, and—get this—my husband doesn't mind my little dalliances with all these authors...as long as I don't meet them in person that is.
And why am I blabbing about all these loves of mine? Because, every time I start a new project, I hope with all my heart, that I infuse my novel with enough passion and ambition and greed that when you, dear reader, read my work, you will fall—perhaps just a little bit—in love with my characters. And I promise to love you right back, even knowing that I will never be able to write fast enough to keep your from someday leaving me for some other writer.

C’est la vie!
Monique

Friday, 16 December 2011

Crimbo: Just what I needed

God rest you merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay

Justin looked up from his laptop, yawning. The incessant carols were making his head pound over and above the crick in his neck. He stretched, glancing at the clock on the wall. Another hour, he told himself, closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose. Another hour and I should be done. I hope. Holly had been nagging him about going Christmas shopping all week, and he had finally agreed to go with her this weekend. He groaned. This weekend started in two hours - if only he could finish all this work in time.
“Sir, we’re taking our last orders now. Is there anything else that you need?” the waitress hovered at his elbow.
He eyed the three drained mugs in front of him. “A mocha - no wait, give me an Espresso. Thanks.” He nodded the woman away, concentrating again on his spreadsheets. He barely realised the time ticking away as he worked, downing the steaming brew in gulps. It was past midnight when they finally shooed him out of the store to lock up. He shrugged his backpack on his right shoulder, gripping a file under his left arm as he dug in his pocket to find his car key.

It was just his luck, he grumbled to himself as he lay in bed, that the one night he needed desperately to sleep, his caffeine overdose had to kick into overdrive and leave him wide awake. He pulled the comforter over his head in a bid to keep the street lights out of his eyes, but ended up kicking the thing off the bed when it got too hot and stuffy. Time to get thicker curtains, he made a mental note, if he could afford it. He would not be able to afford it after tomorrow. Holly had a gift list a mile long, and expected him to chip in whether he wanted to or not. He hadn’t even thought about what to get for her yet. He glanced at the clock again, realising he had spent two hours awake in bed. He decided that since he couldn’t sleep, he might as well be productive. Justin turned on his laptop in the darkness of his room.

“Where are you, Justin? You were supposed to pick me up half an hour ago,” Holly whined when her boyfriend finally picked up the phone. There were muffled sounds on the other end of the line. “Don’t tell me you’re still asleep? It’s past noon, for goodness’ sake! What on earth were you doing last night? Partying?”
“Sorry, Hol. I was working,” Justin yawned into the phone. He rubbed his eyes, blinking against the strong sunlight. “I’ll be over in half an hour.”
“Fine. Don’t be late,” she snapped before hanging up.
Justin stared blearily at the laptop that was perched precariously between his lap and a stray pillow, trying to gather his scattered thoughts. Pulling it out of sleep mode, he squinted at the documents he had been working on before he fell asleep and saved it as a new file, just in case. He turned it off, placing it carefully on the floor beside him as he stumbled out of bed and into the shower.

For Jesus Christ our Saviour
Was born on Christmas-day

“I don’t know what’s wrong with you, seriously,” Holly started in on him as soon as she got into the car. “It’s Christmas. It’s supposed to be fun. You’re supposed to take time off, instead of working longer hours at that horrible office of yours. You’re turning into a regular Scrooge.”
“I have deadlines to meet, Holly,” he tried to say patiently.
“Don’t take that tone with me. You agreed to this shopping trip - don’t try to deny it.”
“I don’t deny it, it’s just that -” he bit down on his tongue.
“It’s just what? You can’t just spend the day with me anymore?”
“Hol -”
“I don’t suppose you care that I’ve been waiting for you all morning. I don’t suppose you actually care that all I wanted was an enjoyable day with you and now you’ve ruined it.”
“Don’t cry, please, Holly. We have the rest of the day before us. I’m sorry I overslept. We’ll have a great time, alright?” he reached over, gripping her soft, thin fingers in his. “We’ll have the best Christmas ever, you and I.
She sniffled softly, squeezing his hand in return.

Five hours later, he tried to stifle the huge yawn as it made its way out. Holly glared at him.
“Sorry,” he mumbled as he followed her into the next store, at least a dozen different bags gripped in his hands.
She ignored him, fuming inside. How dare he spoil Christmas with his ratty attitude? Can’t he see what he’s doing to me? It’ll totally serve him right if I don’t get him anything at all. Silently, she picked out a tube of lipstick and a bottle of perfume for her sister and waited as he paid for the bill.
“Do you want to break for dinner?” he asked as they walked out of the store.
She shrugged. “What do you have in mind?”
He wanted to suggest the cheapest food shop outside the mall, fried noodles or burgers for a few dollars each but he sucked in his breath and asked, “What do you fancy?”
She named an upscale restaurant and he almost winced, barely managing to nod in agreement. He mentally toted up the total charges made to his credit card during the day and decided to use his emergency card, just in case. She would never forgive him if he backed out on dinner now, or if his card was rejected during payment. He missed the days when Christmas was a nice family dinner and maybe a few friends going out for a drink; the days when they made their cards - and sometimes gifts - by hand, each personalised item saying volumes about both the giver and the recipient. He missed the manger and the babe, poignant reminders of a life bigger than himself.

“I was thinking, maybe we should go to church for Christmas,” he said as they waited for their food to arrive.
“What on earth for?”
“Because it’s Christmas?”
“I don’t have time for that God crap,” she replied. “I’ll be busy preparing for lunch, remember - you are coming for lunch, aren’t you? I mean, it’s bad enough you’re not even going to have dinner on the eve with me - you had better be there for lunch.”
“I will be there for lunch. I told you, I have dinner with my family on Christmas eve.”
“Like that’s an excuse. Why can’t you invite me over?”
“Holly, please. I -” he stopped as his phone started ringing. “Sorry, it’s my boss,” he said, holding up a hand, begging her to wait. Holly rolled her eyes.
“Your boss again,” she griped loudly. “How many freaking times does he have to call you on the weekend? He’s such a… a Grinch!”
He scowled just a little and got out of his seat, walking to a quiet corner of the restaurant to answer the call. She was drumming her fingers on the table irritably when he came back and slid back into his seat.
“Am I or am I not your girlfriend?” she demanded.
“You are, but -”
“Then why is your stupid boss more important than me?”
“It’s my job. I need -”
“This is ridiculous. I can’t even spend a day with you without your job butting in on us.”
“And what do you suggest I do?” he said, from behind clenched teeth.
“I don’t know, leave it.”
“And where do I get money then?”
“Find another job. There are like millions of jobs out there - get another one.”
“It’s not that easy. Not many other jobs are willing to pay as much as this one does.”
“It’s about the money, is it?”
“No, it’s not. But I’m barely making ends meet with all the bills, all the stuff I pay for you, I -”
“Fine. Let’s call it quits then.”
“Holly -”
“You make me sound like some crazy demanding bitch who just wants your money. If that’s all you think of me, then we might as well break up!”
“Please -”
She grabbed her shopping bags and stalked out of the restaurant. He couldn’t help the whiny voice in his head that said but you are to her retreating back.

To save us all from Satan's pow'r
When we were gone astray

His tiny flat was cold and bare. He flicked the lights on and locked the door behind him. They had talked about putting up a tree, maybe some tinsel and lights. She had joked about mistletoe, saying that maybe for once he would kiss her. He had felt like such a prude when she said that, but it just hadn’t seemed right to him. Sometimes he felt like he belonged to another era. He tossed his keys and wallet on the table, wondering idly if it would be awkward for him to insist that she pay him back for the presents he had charged to his card today. At a loss, he switched on his laptop, drowning the fist around his heart in an endless list of numbers.

Justin smiled wanly at his family’s Christmas Eve dinner, his relatives putting down his lethargy to the long hours he put in at work. He didn’t bother to correct them. His caffeine habit would be hard to explain. He kept to himself, replaying the last few conversations with Holly over and over in his mind. He still couldn’t pinpoint the exact point in the conversation when everything went south. Looking up, he realised that his younger sister was hovering over him, hands on her hips. She grabbed his arm, pulling him after her out into the yard.
“What happened?”
He shrugged.
“You can tell me,” she urged, scanning the lines on his face.
“To what end, Janice?”
“To get it off your chest.”
“We broke up.”
“She dumped you?”
“Well -”
“She did, didn’t she?”
He shrugged again, reflexively.
“Why - and how do you feel?” she changed her question, trying to read him like she used to.
“Alright, actually. I’m finally seeing the inside of my own flat during the day now.”
“Right before Christmas too.”
“What?”
“That’s mean.”
He gave her a look. “Butt out.”
“You shouldn’t let her do this to you.”
“I don’t know why it matters so much to you, Jan.”
“Because it’s mean. It’s unfair. You deserve better.”
He caught her hand. “Which is why I’m not going to pursue this,” he said, the sudden decision lifting a heavy burden off his shoulders.

He looked uneasily around the room, made unfamiliar from the months he had been away. A plastic smile on his face, he steered himself into the quiet corner where the nativity display was housed. Glancing around to make sure that no one was looking, he knelt in front of the manger.
“Hello,” he whispered, feeling a bit of a fool. “I haven’t seen you in a while. I don’t know how you knew, but you gave me exactly what I needed. It hurt, and I sometimes wish it hadn’t happened, but I think it was exactly the right thing at the right time.”
Justin picked up the little baby figurine. “I guess I’m not quite a kid anymore and maybe I haven’t been good enough to warrant any presents from Santa, but hey, I’ve got you.” He kissed the figurine, placing it carefully back in the manger full of straw. He left the church with a spring in his step.

O tidings of comfort and joy
comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

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Project Dance photos are up here, here and here!

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Don't forget to vote for me here (Deeply Shallow), as well as enter yourself to be in the running for great prizes!

---

Another two launch releases - tonight and tomorrow night. See you there ;)

Book review: In Leah's Wake

 "A family. All of us. The beautiful and the ugly. The perfect, the broken."

Leah Tyler is not sure whether the dreams of a soccer scholarship to Harvard are her own, or her father’s. Caught in between wanting to be the good, straight-A, high achieving soccer player she has always been and enjoying the exciting life her boyfriend Todd has shown her, her life - and her family - start to unravel after she resigns from the soccer team in a fit of petulance.
In Leah’s Wake is the story of a sixteen-year-old rebelling against the high expectations that her parents and community has for her; the common story of an almost-adult trying to be her own person. Leah’s mother, Zoe, cannot objectively evaluate her oldest daughter or control her or her husband’s reactions towards Leah’s wild behaviour, despite being a child psychologist who frequently advises other parents.
In Leah’s Wake is also about a very vulnerable twelve-year-old caught in the her sister’s downward spiral and the cross-hairs of her parents’ anger and disappointment. Whilst most stories focus on the rebellious child, Terri pays attention to the one who usually gets left behind in the wake of a family breakdown - Justine, the good, responsible, nerdy kid who stays quietly in the background trying to make things better.
The story starts well, but slows down in the early quarter of the book, only picking up towards the middle when the tensions between the four members of the Tyler family start to play off on each other. I enjoyed the way Terri gave us glimpses into the personalities and the backgrounds of each family member. However, some of the jumps between viewpoints were a little abrupt, causing me to stumble through what would have been a very smooth read.
Other notes:
Several typos made their way into the version I was reading, as well as some font size irregularity - however, nothing terribly major that would detract from the reading experience.


Announcing the In Leah’s Wake Social Media Whirlwind Tour!
As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the In Leah’s Wake eBook edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including Amazon gift cards of up to $500 in amount and 5 autographed copies of the book. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 16th, so you don’t miss out.  

To Win the Prizes

  1. Purchase your copy of In Leah’s Wake for just 99 cents on Amazon or Barnes & Noble
  2. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes
  3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!
  4. BONUS: If you leave a comment on this blog post, you have another chance at $100! 

...And I can win too!

Over 100 bloggers are participating in this gigantic event, and there are plenty of prizes for us too. The blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card as well. So when you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to say that I referred you, so I can get a point in the poll.  

The Featured Events include:

Thursday, Facebook sharing contest!
Stop by Novel Publicity’s Facebook page and share their latest post (you’ll see the In Leah’s Wake book cover included with it). It’s ridiculously easy to win! On Friday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. An autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake is also up for grabs.  
Friday, special contest on the author’s site!
Win a $500 Amazon gift card, simply by leaving a comment on Terri’s most recent blog post. Yup, you read that correctly—$500! How easy is that? An autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake is also up for grabs.

Remember, it’s all about the books!

Terri Giuliano Long 
About In Leah’ Wake:
The Tyler family had the perfect life – until sixteen-year-old Leah decided she didn’t want to be perfect anymore. While her parents fight to save their daughter from destroying her brilliant future, Leah’s younger sister, Justine, must cope with the damage her out-of-control sibling leaves in her wake. What happens when love just isn’t enough? Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  

About the Author:
Terri Giuliano Long grew up in the company of stories both of her own making and as written by others. Books offer her a zest for life’s highs and comfort in its lows. She’s all-too-happy to share this love with others as a novelist and a writing teacher at Boston College. She was grateful and thrilled beyond words when her award-winning debut literary novel, In Leah’s Wake, hit the Barnes and Noble and Amazon bestseller lists in August. She owes a lot of wonderful people – big time! – for any success she’s enjoyed! Visit her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

in which the natzers tries to summarise many things in one post

So Project Dance is over, and for the benefit of Anne, I shall show her how my friend's drama run sheet, which is super cool, compares to MY run sheet, which is super confusing. Runsheet #fail.
Okay, so maybe they're not really comparable.


Well, I'm currently reading In Leah's Wake for the Social Media Whirlwind tour and should get the review up by this Friday. I think I can read that fast. Am enjoying it so far - take a peek at her interview yesterday and I would appreciate it plenty mucho if you would take the time to vote for my blog here. You can click on "click here to enter for the prizes" which may win you something, and then you can click on "click here to vote" which will put me in the running for a prize too. So it's a win-win, yes?
*makes super cute puss-in-boots eyes* - which reminds me I still haven't watched it yet, even though I've been saying for ages that I want to.

Also, check out Josh's interview here - and if you haven't already bought his CD or attended his album launch, this is a reminder that his next release performances are as follows:
Other album release performances:
17 Dec (Sat) 8pm @ Fettes Park Baptist Church (FPBC) (15 Jalan Meranti,11200 Tanjung Bungah, Penang)
18 Dec (Sun) 8pm @ FGA Centre Air Itam (10, Jalan Air Itam, Mukim 16 Air Itam, 11500 Penang)

Monday, 12 December 2011

In Leah's Wake - the Social Media Whirlwind Tour and Artist Interview!


Announcing the In Leah’s Wake Social Media Whirlwind Tour!

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the In Leah’s Wake eBook edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week. As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the In Leah’s Wake eBook edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including Amazon gift cards of up to $500 in amount and 5 autographed copies of the book. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 16th, so you don’t miss out.  

To Win the Prizes


  1. Purchase your copy of In Leah’s Wake for just 99 cents on Amazon or Barnes & Noble
  2. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes
  3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!
  4. BONUS: If you leave a comment on this blog post, you have another chance at $100! 

...And I can win too!

Over 100 bloggers are participating in this gigantic event, and there are plenty of prizes for us too. The blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card as well. So when you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to say that I referred you, so I can get a point in the poll.  

The Featured Events include:

Monday, Radio Interview with Novel Publicity!  
We’re kicking-off on the Novel Publicity Free Advice blog. We interviewed Terri on our radio show Sunday night and have embedded the full podcast and blogged about its highlights. Give it a listen and then leave a comment on the blog post. This is a great chance to get to know more about this inspiring and friendly author. One commenter will win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget to enter for the other contest prizes while you’re over there!  

Tuesday, Twitter sharing contest! 
A tweet is tiny, only 140 characters. But on Tuesday, it could win you $50. Send the following tweet across the twittersphere, and you just may win a $50 Amazon gift card. An autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake is also up for grabs. The winner will be announced Wednesday morning.  
Here’s the tweet
In Leah's Wake has taken the publishing world by storm. Get the book for just 99 cents http://ow.ly/7wp5h #whirlwind

Wednesday, Google+ sharing contest! 
Yup, there’s yet another awesome opportunity to win a $50 Amazon gift card, and this time it just takes a single click! Visit Google+ and share Emlyn Chand’s most recent post (you’ll see the In Leah’s Wake book cover included with it). On Thursday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. An autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake is also up for grabs. Three chances to win! How about that?

Thursday, Facebook sharing contest! 
Stop by Novel Publicity’s Facebook page and share their latest post (you’ll see the In Leah’s Wake book cover included with it). It’s ridiculously easy to win! On Friday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. An autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake is also up for grabs.

Friday, special contest on the author’s site
Win a $500 Amazon gift card, simply by leaving a comment on Terri’s most recent blog post. Yup, you read that correctly—$500! How easy is that? An autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake is also up for grabs.

Remember, it’s all about the books!

Terri Giuliano Long
About In Leah’ Wake:
The Tyler family had the perfect life – until sixteen-year-old Leah decided she didn’t want to be perfect anymore. While her parents fight to save their daughter from destroying her brilliant future, Leah’s younger sister, Justine, must cope with the damage her out-of-control sibling leaves in her wake. What happens when love just isn’t enough? Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the Author:
Terri Giuliano Long grew up in the company of stories both of her own making and as written by others. Books offer her a zest for life’s highs and comfort in its lows. She’s all-too-happy to share this love with others as a novelist and a writing teacher at Boston College. She was grateful and thrilled beyond words when her award-winning debut literary novel, In Leah’s Wake, hit the Barnes and Noble and Amazon bestseller lists in August. She owes a lot of wonderful people – big time! – for any success she’s enjoyed! Visit her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.  

Interview with Terri Giuliano Long

In Leah’s Wake and the Characters Who Make It a Story

Q: Please tell us a bit about your book and what you hope readers take away from reading it. 
In Leah’s Wake tells the story of a family in collapse. Sixteen-year-old Leah, a straight-A student and star soccer player, has led a perfect life. When she meets and dates a sexy older guy, attracted to his independence, she begins to spread her wings. Drinking, ignoring curfew, dabbling in drugs—all this feels like freedom to her. Her terrified parents, afraid they’re losing their daughter, pull the reins tighter. Unfortunately, her parents get it all wrong, pushing when they ought to be pulling, and communication breaks down. Soon there’s no turning back. Twelve-year-old Justine, caught between the parents she loves and the big sister she adores, soon finds herself in the fight of her life, trying desperately to pull her family together.
Parents, wanting the best for their children, often push their kids to be perfect – and push themselves to be perfect parents. It’s tempting to believe that only bad kids from bad families get in trouble. This attitude allows us to distance ourselves – this could never happen to us – and creates unhealthy competition. When families have problems, we judge and ostracize them, only adding to the difficulties they’re already facing. The truth is, when problems arise, the fallout affects the entire community. The epigraph from The Grand Inquisitor says it best: “everyone is really responsible to all men for all men and for everything.” As Hillary Clinton famously said, it takes a village to raise a child. For the sake of our children, we must all do our part to be supportive members of the village.
Although the Tyler family is far from perfect, they love one another. Had the community rallied around and supported them, perhaps Leah would not have gotten as lost. Like adults, most teens just want to feel accepted and loved – not for what they accomplish or contribute, but for who they are. I’d be thrilled if my novel inspired readers to suspend judgment, to look less harshly at troubled teens and their families. I think we owe it to our teens, to our communities, and to ourselves to work harder to support and encourage all kids, not just those who conform.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters? 
LEAH TYLER: Leah is a strong young woman, beautiful, smart, a superstar in the community. As long as she lives up to their expectations, she’s accepted, even celebrated. As soon as she tries to take control of her own life, question the rules, spread her wings, she meets resistance. When she chooses her troublemaker boyfriend over a promising college soccer career, and heads down a path of drugs and self-destruction, she rips her once happy family apart.
JUSTINE TYLER: Justine is twelve, in that awkward stage, not really a child anymore and not quite a teen. Justine is intelligent, faithful, and kind, and she sees the best in people, sometimes to her own detriment. Deeply religious, she sees God as Father and protector – a belief that will be challenged by her family’s turmoil. Her best friend is Dog, the family’s aging pet Labrador. Although only twelve, Justine is left to be the rock as the rest of her family plunges into depression.
ZOE AND WILL TYLER: Zoe and Will are hardworking parents – too hardworking - who love and want the best for their children. Ambitious and strong, Will is willing do whatever it takes to help his children reach their full potential, even if it means alienating them in the process. He can’t sit back, watching his teenage daughter destroy her promising future. Zoe, a child therapist and motivational speaker, is a peacemaker who avoids confrontation, and thus easily falls into depression. Their divided approach to Leah’s rebellion drives a wedge into their marriage. Rather than listen to their daughter, accept that she’s growing up, that her choices may differ from theirs, and guide her down the path that’s right for her, Zoe and Will try to take control. This is a classic problem between parents and teens. The minute we put our foot down, say no, they can’t do this or that, they tend to focus all their energy in that direction. Zoe and Will’s escalating attempts to control their daughter result in her pulling away. This is a difficult cycle to break.
JERRY JOHNSON: Jerry Johnson, the police officer, is the only non-family member with a voice in the novel. Jerry’s work as a police officer brings him into frequent contact with the dissolving Tyler family. Though flawed like all the characters, he takes his responsibility for others to heart. He’s the connecting force in this novel.
TODD CORBETT: Leah’s boyfriend, Todd, a former roadie in a rock band, is a modern day James Dean, a rebel without a cause. He’s been arrested for dealing drugs, so it’s easy to blame him for leading her astray; really, he’s a conduit. He makes her feel comfortable and safe and encourages her blossoming independence. By the time Leah realizes that he wants to control her, too – albeit in a different way – it’s too late. If only she’d realized how deeply her family loves her, she might have avoided the dire consequences she suffers. That’s the central irony in the book – perhaps the irony in many relationships between parents and teens.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination? 
Bob Sullivan, the owner of Sullivan Farms Ice Cream, and Dorothy Klein, the beautiful woman who designs the button bracelets Zoe buys for Leah and herself, are real people. Every other character is completely imaginary. I did borrow gestures, habits, and physical characteristics from real people – the runaway arm belongs to my youngest daughter, KK; my husband is a darker physical stand-in for Will. Of course, borrowing sometimes results in unfortunate assumptions. I’m lucky – my family puts up with my thievery and ignores the conclusions readers draw. Personality, motivation, and behavior of my characters I’m fully responsible for. 

Q: Your book is set in Cortland, MA. Can you tell us why you chose this city?  
Geographically, the town of Cortland is modeled after the town of Harvard, MA. In the fall, we used to go there to pick apples. Harvard is stunningly beautiful – with the rolling hills, the stone walls, the orchards. Sometimes, Dave and I would drive there and just ride around. This family is in tremendous pain; they’re struggling. That these fierce struggles might take place in this bucolic setting felt surprising, and that tension felt important to the book.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story? 
Judging from the stories I hear, the social and political climate in the imaginary town of Cortland reflects that in many middle- and upper-middle class towns across the U.S., and perhaps outside the U.S. I’ve talked with parents who’ve expressed frustrations similar to Zoe and Will’s. Culturally – not always or only by their parents - children feel pressure to live up to impossible expectations. When children step out of line, the parents and families often feel judged. Community plays an important role in setting expectations and shaping and maintaining connections. The expectations, the constant demand to perform, can be overwhelming. In small towns, everyone knows everyone else, by sight if not by name. You can’t hide. If you or a family member is in trouble, everyone knows it. That claustrophobia and the constant feeling of condemnation, being watched, inform the inner lives of these characters and influence their behavior. 
 
Q: Who are your favorite characters in the story?  
My characters are all imperfect - they behave badly and they’re sometimes, perhaps often, enormously irritating - but I love them all, for their strengths as well as their weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Justine is sweet and caring and kind, so she’s easy to love, but I also love Leah. Although Leah drives the parent in me crazy, her heart is in the right place. The same applies to Zoe and Will - they often make terrible choices; despite their failures, they act out of love. In the novel, Jerry Johnson, the police officer, is the only non-family member with a voice. Though flawed like all the characters, he takes his responsibility for others to heart. I’ve always admired Gail Mullen Beaudoin, a police officer in Chelmsford, MA. Gail brings strength, dignity and grace to a very difficult job. I see police officers as the connecting force in communities. Every day they put their lives on the line. To me, they’re our real life heroes. As the connecting force in this novel and for this family, Jerry is my favorite.  

Q: Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your book? 
In a chapter called “Sisters Redux,” Justine, the geeky, goody-two-shoes little sister, asks Leah for a cigarette. It’s almost painful to see her trying so hard to win her big sister’s acceptance and affection. At first, Leah scoffs; then it dawns on her that Justine is actually serious and her conscience takes over. Leah has made difficult choices and been ostracized for them; for Justine, that path would be wrong. In certain arenas, dorks have the advantage, she thinks. As she’s about to say no, it occurs to Leah that Justine has a right to make her own choices. With this insight, for the first time since they were young kids, Leah sees Justine as her equal. Despite her reservations, she gives her sister the cigarette. In a sweet moment, later in the chapter, Leah teaches Justine to dance. This love between the sisters is, to me, heartbreaking and special.

Q: If In Leah’s Wake were to be turned into a movie, who would you love to see play what characters and why? 
Will Tyler – Matt Damon. Mr. Damon exudes fatherly love and protectiveness and he’s also very intense. If his daughter were in trouble, I can picture him going into overdrive, like Will, and doing whatever it takes to pull her back. Zoe Tyler – Sandra Bullock. I see her as loving, driven and ditzy, a less strident version of Leigh Anne Tuohy, the mom she played in The Blind Side. Leah Tyler – For the role of Leah, I’d search for new talent. Caroline Wakefield, as played by Erika Christensen, in the film Traffic, reminded me of Leah, in her all-American beauty and stunning transformation from preppy to drug-addicted prostitute. Ms. Christensen is too old for this role, but she’d be the prototype. Justine Tyler – Abigail Breslin. Like Justine, she’s sweet and dorky and cute. She’s also precocious and strong. Jerry Johnson – Vince Vaughn. He’s not the guy who walks into a room and gets the girl, but he’s centered and responsible, the rock for the others to lean on. Todd Corbett (Leah’s boyfriend) – Jordan Masek. Jordan plays the role of Todd in my trailer. Jordan is actually a sweet guy, in real life. But he knows how to channel his inner bad boy. I can’t imagine a more appropriately cast Todd.

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Okay, so this should have been up much earlier, but I was caught up with Project Dance.
But it's over. Boo. So it's back to normality - as much as my incredible backlog allows.
I think I may backlog Christmas.

At any rate, three book tours will be happening on my blog starting today until the end of December! Stay tuned!
AND if you haven't gotten round to In That Day yet (see earlier post)... GET TO IT.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Artist interview: Josh Yeoh!

Hope, Coffee, And Melody by Barb Ver Sluis

Taking a page off the interwebs, I'm doing an artist interview with Josh Yeoh in line with the launch of his worship album, In That Day, today!

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So, questions, questions, questions!

This album, In That Day, seems to have sprung to us from out of nowhere, along the lines of *khazam! An album appears!* Can you give us the low down on how it came about?
Technically, I've wanted to do a worship album even before my first album. I just never felt it was the right time. And then right after the 168 Hours of Prayer this year, I got the "green light" from the Man Upstairs. Which was ridiculous, because it was also when I was the busiest. But I knew it was Him, and even when He said it'd be done in November (which is ridiculous... I say that a lot, don't I?), I knew that it would be a testimony about His strength being perfected in weakness. So yeah, it's been something that's on my heart for a long time, but it only just kind of came together in the past three months.


How does the recording of In That Day compare to Is Anyone Out There?
I thought about how to describe it because I don't want you to think that one is more or less personal than the other; they are both deeply dear and personal to me. So this is how I think I'll describe the difference. It's like if you had two blogs -- one for random "this is what is going on in my life" type entries that people are welcome to read and they might really be impacted or learn something from it, but the main focus was really just what you were going through. That would be "Is Anyone Out There?". Then the other type of blog where you have a message burning on your heart and you write passionately about it and people who read it are impacted not so much by your personal experiences, but what you are saying as a result of those experiences and what you are learning combined. That's "In That Day". :)

You mentioned in your e-mail update that things were getting a bit crazy towards the end - what kept you going through it all?
Prayer. Seriously. And people stepping up to say, "Hey Josh, don't go crazy, let me help organize your life for you". That and caffeine. Caffe Laffare.

Describe the theme of your whole album in one word. :)
Revelation.

Which was the most difficult song to write? And which was the easiest?
If degrees of difficulty were measured by hours, then "Prepare The Way" would be the most difficult, simply because it started when I was 16. I have a fun story about that, you'll have to ask me next time. :) And the easiest would be "The Bridegroom King", which wrote itself in less than five minutes. I think I edited one word.

Describe yourself in three words.
Friend of Bridegroom. (You didn't say it had to be grammatically correct)

When is the next time you're going to update your blog? Will it be sometime in the next decade? *evil grin*
Have you been on my website? I totally wrote a blog there! It's ominously reminiscent of the blog entry I wrote when I tried to restart my other blog. And the other one. And the other one. But thankfully, this time, I think I have a plan of action.

Who's your favourite songwriter and why?
Oh no. I hate these types of questions. It's so restrictive. Can I pick two? That's already asking a lot! I like Phil Wickham and Brooke Fraser, although they both write pretty differently. But I like them for the same reasons: the way they marry text, tune and theology.

Tell us how and why you started writing songs.
I think the first song I ever wrote was for Teacher's Day when I was 10. I, unfortunately, still remember parts of the song. So I started writing out of necessity? :) I guess that's somewhat true. Why did YOU start writing, Anna Tan? [not answering that, nope!]

Any words of advice to aspiring songwriters out there?
Don't say "God gave me this song" and then refuse to edit. Songwriting is a craft. It's partnering with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and it's good stewardship to learn how to write good songs. I'm constantly learning. I just discovered I really like using internal rhyme. That and... don't stop writing. You never know how a song you wrote over 10 years ago and thought wasn't much good would come back and become the opening song of your second album. :)

Thanks, Anna!

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Alright - so if you're free tonight, drop by at Excel Point Community Church (EPCC) at 7:00pm for his album release performance together with the Saturday Night Live (SNL) service. 
2-2-15, Pekaka Square, Lebuh Pekaka Satu, 11700 Sg. Dua, Penang, Malaysia

Other album release performances:
17 Dec (Sat) 8pm @ Fettes Park Baptist Church (FPBC) (15 Jalan Meranti,11200 Tanjung Bungah, Penang)
18 Dec (Sun) 8pm @ FGA Centre Air Itam (10, Jalan Air Itam, Mukim 16 Air Itam, 11500 Penang)