Monday, November 28, 2011

Interview With Griffin

A while back I reviewed Griffin Rising, Darby Karchut's debut novel for teens and one of my favorite books of 2011. Today, it is my pleasure to interview the main character, Griffin. Now remember, he is a teen and teens have their own way of looking at life, as I was gently reminded the other day by the young man who carried my groceries to the car. Griffin is also a guardian angel in training. And now, Griffin has a word or two for us.

Thank you for visiting with us today, Griffin.

Uh...thanks, Mrs. McClure.

Your story fascinates me. I believe there are angels among us, and you are proof that it’s true. So what is a Terrae Angeli exactly?

Well, Terrae Angeli are guardians for humans. Like celestial angels in a way, except we are a lot more down to earth. In fact, that’s what Terrae Angeli means in Latin: earth angels. And we are more like humans than angels. We look and act like mortals. We have free will. We can get hurt or even killed on missions. And we like and dislike the same stuff as most people.

There are two kinds of Terrae Angeli: Earth & Fire and Wind & Water. I’m an Earth and Fire angel. That means I can harness the power of earth and fire to help me on rescue missions. My Mentor, Basil, is a Wind and Water angel.

First, you are a Tiro, the lowest rank of Terrae Angeli. What must you do to reach the higher ranks?

You’re right, Mrs. McClure. The Tiro is the lowest level, followed by Mentor, then Guardian, then Sage. A Tiro is an apprentice to a Mentor. Basil once said it’s like a knight and squire type of relationship. When I turn sixteen, I have this trial-by-combat test called the Proelium. Once I pass it, I’m on my way to completing my apprenticeship.
Basil is your second mentor. What happened with your first, Nicopolis?

I don’t like talking about him. Heck, I don’t even like THINKING about him. He used to beat the crap out of me. But then I got re-assigned to Basil. Talk about total opposites!

So how’s it going with Basil?

Awesome! I’ve learned so much from him. He uses our missions to teach me more advanced Element control as well as using my Might. Plus he’s pretty cool, except when he’s doing the whole Mentor thing. Then he’s a pain in the rear. He’s always on me about my manners and being a gentleman. Blah, blah, blah. (Um...don’t tell him I said that, okay?)

But he did rescue me from Nicopolis. And he treats me like I’m worth something. Worth his time and energy. I guess he’s like a dad to me in all the best ways.

Do you have special powers?

Besides controlling earth and fire, I can also use Might. It’s like the Force that the Jedi use. But I’m still not very good at it. It takes a lot of training and practice. But Basil says I’ll get there eventually.

And, of course, I can fly.

Do you ever wish you were human?

Nope! The only thing I want to be is a Terrae Angeli.

I hear you have a cute neighbor. Tell us about Katie.

Katie’s great. Wicked smart and really pretty. She’s become a good friend – I guess you would say we are boyfriend/girlfriend. But she doesn’t know what I am. Sometimes I wonder if it would change how she felt about me.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?

Dogs and small children are the only ones who can recognize us Terrae Angeli. They go nuts around us. Dogs jump all over us and kids keep trying to hug our knees! It’s totally embarrassing. Katie has this enormous Irish wolfhound named Bear that goes berserk when I go over to their house. But I love the big guy, even when he’s being insane.
Thank you, Griffin, for sharing your story. I’m excited that you’ll be in another book to continue your adventures.

Hey, thanks, Mrs. McClure, for having me. This was a lot of fun!

Wow! What a great kid. And guess what? We'll meet Griffin again in April, 2011, when Griffin's Fire is released.

Now for a little about Darby:

All her life, the archetypal hero and his journey have enthralled Darby Karchut. A native of New Mexico, Darby grew up in a family that venerated books and she spent her childhood devouring one fantasy novel after another. Fascinated by mythologies from around the world, she attended the University of New Mexico, graduating with a degree in anthropology. After moving to Colorado, she then earned a Master’s in education and became a social studies teacher.

Drawing from her extensive knowledge of world cultures, she blends ancient myths with modern urban life to write stories that relate to young teens today.

Darby is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Pikes Peak Writers Guild. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado with her husband, where she still teaches at a local junior high school. She enjoys running, biking, and skiing the Rocky Mountains in all types of weather.

Friday, November 25, 2011


TRIANGLES by Ellen Hopkins

Hardback copy courtesy of Atria Books and Good Reads


Life is complicated. Life brings joy. It also brings pain. Marriage is a fragile thread. Sometimes it brings happiness. Sometimes it unravels and leads to unfaithfulness. Families are torn apart, betrayed by those they love as they search for what is missing in their lives.

In author Ellen Hopkins’s first novel for adults, Triangles, we meet three women who are dealing with drastic changes in their lives: Marissa, Holly, and Andrea. To me, Marissa’s story is the most touching. How does a woman deal with a dying child, a gay son, and a husband that’s unfaithful? Then there’s her sister, Andrea, a single mother who finds herself interested in her friend Holly’s husband. Holly, who just wanted to be “safe” is now looking for success other than being a mom. The children and teens involved, each with their own story, add to the tension in the families. Reading this novel sure makes me appreciate the calmness of my life.

Beautiful poetic verse paints a revealing picture of a side of life that brings more feelings of guilt than of satisfaction. In my little world it’s hard to imagine people who actually live like the characters in this story live. I know they do, but I’ve never thought much about it, until now. This book has opened my eyes to what can go terribly wrong in a marriage and how it effects everyone involved. The scenes are intense and leave little to the imagination as the antagonists follow their desires, giving little thought to the consequences that are sure to occur. The characters are well developed and I wanted them to find happiness, although without hurting others. A good novel brings out emotions in the reader, in my opinion. Ms. Hopkins’s story certainly does that for me. I was angry at the characters for doing such dumb things. I cried along with the characters when their hearts were breaking. This novel is definitely for adults because of the graphic scenes. If you like happy endings, you won’t find one here. You will, however, find hope, I think, and come away from the story with a new sense of why people sometimes do the things they do, at least I have. We never know the secrets individuals carry with them, the secrets they keep to themselves. Triangles is a story that will stay with you even after you’ve read the final page.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Reading and Writing

Quote for the week:  Start early and work hard. A writer's apprenticeship usually involves writing a million words (which are then discarded) before he's almost ready to begin. That takes a while.
David Eddings

Watch for forthcoming reviews on Triangle by Ellen Hopkins, Wounds by Barbara Bockman, and Debra K. Dunlap's Fallon O'Reilly and the Ice Queen's Lair, after Thanksgiving most likely.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I was. We celebrated yesterday since it turned out Sunday was a better day for all concerned. We had a lovely time, even though all the family could not be with us. They're scattered from coast to coast. We'll see others at Christmas and some this summer. Anytime, works for me.

This is part of us. More are at the table in the living room.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, dear friends.

Happy reading and writing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

For the Birds Review

What happens when a parakeet named Ruby gets an unexpected mind-meld with Marcella Hollister's quarrelsome mother, Thelma? After Thelma is kidnapped from her hospital bed, Marcella must find her - somewhere in the tall pines of the six-million-acre Adirondack Park. With the help of her Native American husband, Quinn, and bizarre "tips" from Ruby, Marcella butts heads with quirky bird psychic Earl Tiramisu, much to the chagrin of the FBI, who wants her to stay out of the investigation.


By Aaron Paul Lazar



What do you do when your parakeet starts talking like your mother? A white pickup with two shaggy men inside turns up everywhere you go? Your house is broken into while you‘re at a hotel for a bird contest? Your mother is kidnapped? And that’s just the beginning.

Author Aaron Paul Lazar’s novel For the Birds is the first book in the Tall Pines Mystery Series. From the opening paragraph to the final sentence, Mr. Lazar takes the reader on a roller coaster ride with more twists and turns than a country road. It starts out simple enough. Marcella and her husband, Quinn, along with Marcella’s mother, Thelma, are on their way to a bird show with their parakeet, Ruby, who by the way is my favorite character in the story. But who is Earl Tiramisu and why does he ask so many questions about Thelma who almost drowned in the hotel pool and ended up in the hospital. (It’s too complicated to explain. You’ll have to read the story.) Enter FBI agents, secrets revealed, and Marcella and Quinn are soon on a dangerous mission to find the answers to all the questions, as well as where Thelma, who has been kidnapped, is, who kidnapped her, and why. One thing’s for sure, this story will keep you guessing, for nothing is what it seems and the people are not always who you think they are.

Even with the fatalities that occur with some bloodshed, For the Birds is a fun read, especially for mystery lovers that like to solve the mystery before the characters do. The ending to this one may surprise you. It did me. The quirky yet realistic characters and the setting in the Adirondacks make this book an enjoyable read. I can only imagine what the characters will encounter in the next book in the series.


Monday, November 14, 2011

New eBook Publisher

Quote for the week:  Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. William Jam

Today I'd like to introduce you to a new eBook publisher. Nicole Langan may not be new to you. You may know her from her books and from the tours. She has ventured into a new business though and she's here to tell you what she's up to.

From Nicole: Beginning in 2012, Tribute Books will become solely an ebook publisher of young adult titles.

We're looking to work with authors who are savvy with social media - those who blog, tweet and update their Facebook status on a daily basis.

Our preference is for authors who already have a book(s) published through a royalty-paying press. We want to work with those who are familiar with the ins and outs of the publishing process. We seek those who have experience having their work edited and know the effort required for successful book promotion.

There would be NO charge for authors, and those selected would receive 50% of the net retail price in royalties

To begin, we're looking to work with 12 authors in 2012, publishing one per month.

Nicole agreed to an interview with me and kindly answered my questions.

1. Tell us a little about yourself, Nicole.

I'm 32-years-old. I've lived in the Scranton, Pennsylvania area for most of my life. I have a 9-month-old Shih-Tzu puppy named Buster. My favorite TV shows are Dexter and Breaking Bad. I love movies that originate from film festivals. I'm a fan of Italian, Mexican and Chinese food. I've been reading books since I was 4-years-old. I work from home. My daily uniform is centered around blue jeans. I wish summer was a year-long season because I detest the cold. I'm addicted to Diet Coke. I enjoy being outdoors and experiencing nature. I'm your typical Virgo - quiet, creative, detail-oriented.

2. How did you get into the publishing business?

I've spent roughly the last 12 years in the publishing world. I have a B.A. summa cum laude in English and Communications. From 1999-2004, I went from being an intern to an editorial assistant to an associate editor of a regional magazine.

In 2004, I started Tribute Books. Since that time, I've worked with dozens of authors, illustrators, photographers and editors in publishing over 30 books. Some of our books have gone on to win awards such as the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year and the Mom's Choice Award while others were endorsed by PBS and The Thoreau Society. We've published a wide variety of genres from children's picture books to history to sports under both traditional and subsidy contracts.
In 2012, we'll embark on a new transition becoming solely an e-publisher of young adult titles. There will be no charge for the young adult authors we select to work with, and they will receive 50% of the net profits of their ebook sales in quarterly royalty payments.

3. What do you think is the best way for an author to promote her/his work?

I am a big believer in the power of social media. I even conduct monthly blog tours for outside publishers and authors in order to help them increase the online presence of a book. Book bloggers are a powerful force in the book industry. With more and more book stores closing and book review columns being cut from major newspapers, readers are depending on bloggers to help them find the books they want to read. They are turning to the internet as a reference point to fill this information gap.

In my opinion, social networking is the bread and butter of any author's promotional efforts. Without it, it's like trying to paddle upstream without a canoe. Readers want to connect with the person who wrote the book. They crave interaction with an author. Nothing beats getting a writer to comment on a blogger's book review post or getting a personalized thank you tweet from your favorite author. The days of authors being isolated from their fans is over. They're now able to build an online following and receive instant feedback for their work. They have the opportunity to take part in creating their own literary community.
We try to keep an active online presence with our web site (, Facebook (, Twitter ( and blog ( We'd love to have anyone who loves young adult literature to join us for the ride.

4. Are you a reader also? If so, what are your favorite books?

Absolutely! I'd have to say I've been pretty taken with Lauren Oliver's work - Before I Fall and Delirium. Her ability to translate such an intensity of emotion onto the page really impressed me. Even though her books are marketed to a young adult audience, the quality of her writing is strong enough to stand on its own in comparison to any genre.

5. Do you think ebooks will eventually be more popular than print? Why or why not?

I do. Over the course of 2011, we've watched our ebook sales outpace our print sales by 2 to 1 due to the explosion in popularity of e-readers such as the Kindle, Nook and iPad. The under $5 price point of most of our e-titles and the ease of purchase and delivery surely facilitated this rapid change. I can only see this trend increasing in momentum as the price of e-readers continues to lower and more and more people start using this new technology. The industry shift is similar to what occurred in terms of music buying habits when iTunes downloads became more popular that CD purchases. There will always be a market for print books, but I think the majority of book sales will soon be electronic. People want the cheapest, quickest and easiest way to obtain their reading material.
Thanks for agreeing to host me. I really appreciate it.

It's been my pleasure, Nicole. Best of luck in what sounds like an exciting future.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

We Have Winners!

Hi All,

I'm happy to announce that we have winners for the November Blog Hop. Emails have been sent to the winners that were chosen by Congratulations to:


Hardback copy of Forever

Sandra Stiles

Paperback copy of Rebel in Blue Jeans

Your books will be on their way as soon as I hear from you. Thanks to all my fabulous new and older followers. I had fun. Hope you did too. Until the next Hop. Have a nice weekend.

Happy Reading

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November Giveaway Hop

It's here. The November Giveaway Hop. It runs from Nov. 8th- 11th and is hosted by I Am a Reader, not a Writer and Tristi Pinkston, co-host. I will have two winners. The first will receive a copy of Forever by Maggie Stiefvater. I ended up with two copies, one I had bought, the other I won in a contest, so I'm giving away the one I purchased and keeping the signed one. The second winner will receive a copy of my YA novel Rebel in Blue Jeans. Both winners will also get bookmarks.

All you have to do to enter is to follow me and leave a comment with your email address so I can contact you if you're a winner. You earn an extra point for tweeting the post.

Also, visit the other blogs in this hop for some great giveaways. Links are below.

Monday, November 7, 2011

November Blog Hop

Quote of the week:  You are never too old to set another goal ... or to dream a new dream.  C. S. Lewis

A reminder: The November Blog Hop starts Nov. 8 at 12:01 AM. Stop by to see the great giveaways at 200 blogs. It ends at midnight Nov. 11. Winners will be announced Nov. 12. Good luck to each of you. I plan to do a lot of hopping myself, between two book signings I have this week.

Happy reading and writing.

Friday, November 4, 2011

eBook Sale for Book Lovers

We appreciate our readers. 100 critically acclaimed ebooks are on sale from Twilight Times Books. Prices discounted 50% ($1.99 to $3.50) now via the Twilight Times Books web site and also via our ebook distributors later this month. Barnes and Noble Nook, eReader, Fictionwise, Kindle, Kobo, OmniLit, Sony, Amazon, etc. until Jan. 15th. Historical, literary, mystery, SF, YA and more.

So do your Christmas shopping early. Fill those stockings with gifts that will last. (Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines is only $2.99. For the history lover in your family or friends,)

Happy Reading and Writing.