Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain: Author Interview and Giveaway!

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing author Emily Craven on her new YA book, The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain: Photographer Extraordinaire. Enjoy her insight into her book and the writing process, and then enter to win a copy of her book!

What is this book about?
Aimed at a YA audience who enjoys chick lit, The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain, is a comedy told through Facebook status updates, comments, private messages and notes. The novel also includes an interactive Facebook experience, where readers can interact with the book’s characters!

The tale begins with Madeline Cain embarking on her dream degree when she’s accepted into world famous photographer, Jason I’Anson’s, exclusive college in New York. Like many people of her generation who travel overseas, she turns to Facebook as a medium to pass on news and keep in touch with her family and friends. But her move from the sleepy Australian town of Adelaide to New York City doesn’t exactly turn out as she expected. From her first meeting with her chain-smoking, club-crazy house mate and his superhero Mexican Chameleon, Duncan (who can move from one side of the room to the other in a blink of eye), she knew she was in for an interesting time. Add an umbrella rigged by her brother to yell abuse at surrounding pedestrians when it rains, pizza deliveries to porn sets and being pulled in by the FBI for questioning after an explorative stint into spy photography, and things move from the interesting to the ridiculous.

Madeline tries to find her feet in the big city, but this may be harder for her to achieve than first thought, after she accidentally blackmails a famous model cheating on her boyfriend. How can you accidently blackmail someone you ask? Frankly, Madeline can get herself into any tight spot you can think of. The more important question is, how is she going to get out of the hole she found herself in?

How did you get the idea for this book?
Deciding life wasn’t interesting enough, I challenged myself to write a novel in a month. I started with grand self-delusions; it was going to be FUN! (*cross fingers*) Definitely not insane enough to try writing a fantasy novel in a month (my main genre), I chose to do a comedy based in Facebook in a similar style of my other favourite author, Meg Cabot. I created a Facebook event and threw my plot line to the whims of my insane friends, asking them to give me their best ideas, which included chameleons, umbrellas called Laani, triplets, a transvestite dwarf book club and a group of disturbed university students. November 2010 was the only month I could legitimately claim my hours on Facebook as “research.”

Is this your first book? If not, what else have you written?
Goodness no! I’ve been writing since I was twelve. I’ve never been a writer to stick to one genre (though I always write for YA). I have a fantasy novel, Priori -- The Power Within, that I worked on during a twelve-month mentorship with fantasy author Isobelle Carmody, which I am currently shopping around to publishers and agents; a Gap Year travel novel pulled together to encourage students to live a little before starting “the rest of their life”; another Facebook comedy e-book now available at Amazon and Kobo called Jake’s Page, which plays with formatting and combines a short story and play; and, finally, I’ve written an e-book on the e-book revolution and how authors can market their books and strengthen the reader-writer connection.

When did you start writing? Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
I was originally inspired to write when I was twelve, after I learnt one of my favourite authors, Isobelle Carmody, started writing her first book at 14 (which was later published). I worked on that book all through high school, and last year even got to do a twelve-month writing mentorship with the woman who started me writing in the first place, Isobelle.

There are always two things I recommend every writer do as a matter of course to start building a relationship with readers. One is as simple as creating a Facebook page in your genre and sharing things that would interest both yourself and readers. To get people on board, you can do things like Facebook advertising, electing to spend maybe $3 a day for a week just to get people liking the page and interacting. Make sure you name the page (under page settings) so every time you give someone a bio or post on a blog, people can follow you back to that page. For example, I ran a project during Adelaide Writers’ Week where we designed a physical choose-your-own-adventure. We called the page AdelaideAdventure and still get people liking the page six months later because the URL is scattered across the internet (http://www.facebook.com/AdelaideAdventure). It’s a network I can and will use in the future and one you should be building.

The second thing I (and just about every publisher you talk to these days) recommend is getting your own blog. It’s free and in some ways helps keep you accountable to your audience as you should post regularly to keep connected. I would recommend Blogger over Wordpress as Blogger is owned by Google and tends to get preference in the search rankings. Similarly, a blog is preferable to a website as Google favours sites that constantly add new content, rather than a static website where little is added after it is set up. On your blog I would post a video of yourself welcoming people to the blog as readers like to put a face to the words. I would also recommend you put a feature that allows you to capture names and emails for a newsletter. That way you can start building a list of people who like your work, and who you can contact when your next book is out. In this way people are signing up to hear from you, and as long as you aren’t sending them an email every day, you can stay connected without spamming. I recommend you offer a person an incentive for signing up like a free short story or pdf of instructional blog posts like I offer on my Original Fantasy blog (http://theoriginalfantasy.blogspot.com.au). To create this email capture form you need an autoresponder, which allows you to send everyone on your list the same email (and cuts down the work you need to do to connect!). I use a company called Get Response, which will give you a hundred people on your list for free before you have to start paying to use the service.

Oh, and please, please! Take part in your writing community. Attend conferences, go to festivals, learn and connect with others because you never know when a friend might suddenly be promoted to a position where they can help along your career.

Why did you decide to write a book in this genre?
There is one kickass YA author that really inspired me to write this book and that was Meg Cabot. I love Meg’s work, particularly her earlier stuff like 1-800-WHERE-R-U and the Mediator series. I would go through a book of hers in a couple of hours. They were light reading, but they were fun! I think I lost sight of the “fun” part of writing as I was writing more serious fantasy, and I needed to get out of that rut.

In particular, I really loved her series that was told entirely through email. They really pushed the boundaries of how you can tell a story, and I loved not knowing whether the characters were telling the truth in the emails or whether they were just telling a version of the truth that made them look good. That’s what I tried to do with Madeline Cain, play with the format by telling a story through Facebook and showing how the story changed when Madeline told it publicly to when she private messaged her friends. Also, Meg’s main characters were these strong, unconventional girls who taught me I don’t need to be so uptight; it’s okay to bend social conventions. They helped shape my views on life, and I wanted Madeline to help inspire young girls like Meg inspired me.

Do you plan a sequel or future books?
Currently plotting up the second Madeline Cain novel to finish off her New York year. Let’s see if I can bring myself to write this one in a month, too! I basically want to take Madeline all over the world, so there is a definite extended series starting to gather together in my head. I already have ideas for the third Madeline Cain novel, too. What do people think of the title: The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain: International Wedding Crasher?

Do you have a website? How can we order this book?
Fittingly, the current Madeline Cain website is a Facebook page full of news, awesome videos and, soon, competitions. You can check out the whole interactive component from the story on that page, too, at http://www.facebook.com/GrandAdventuresOfMadelineCain. You can get the book from Amazon or Kobo or if you want to make sure that all the funds go directly to the author, you can email me directly at ebookrevolution (at) yahoo (dot) com.



GIVEAWAY

Two lucky winners will each receive an eBook version (.epub/.mobi/PDF) of The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain: Photographer Extraordinaire, by Emily Craven. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway ends at 11:59 PM EST on Wednesday, February 13, 2013.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Young Adult Giveaway Hop: Enter to Win 3 Paperbacks by Bestselling YA Author Meg Cabot!

Young Adult Giveaway Hop
January 29th - February 4th
Co-hosted by BookLove101

Welcome to the Young Adult Giveaway Hop! If you love reading YA books, you’ve come to the right place! Every blog in this hop will be giving away one or more Young Adult books (or a gift card to purchase one). After you enter my giveaway below, you’ll find a list of the participating blogs below the Rafflecopter.

For my giveaway, I am offering THREE (3) paperbacks by bestselling YA author, Meg Cabot! All three books are from her 1-800-WHERE-R-U series.


About the books:

When Lightning Strikes:
Jess Mastriani was misunderstood by her teachers and had a crush on the local bad boy, but that didn’t mean she was trouble. But trouble found her when she survived a lightning strike and discovered that a newfound talent had been bestowed upon her.

Now, whenever she sees a picture of a missing child, Jess knows exactly where he or she is when she wakes up the next morning. Reuniting lost children with their desperate parents is one thing, but Jess must choose whether to use her power for good … or for evil.

Code Name Cassandra:
Jess Mastriani was dubbed “Lightning Girl” by the press when she developed a psychic ability to find missing children after she was struck by lightning during a huge storm. Now Jess has lost her miraculous powers … or at least she would like the media and the government to think so. All she wants is to be left alone.

But it doesn’t look like Jess is going to get her wish -- especially not while working at a summer camp for musically gifted kids. When the father of a missing girl shows up to beg Jess to find his daughter, Jess can’t say no. Now the Feds are on her tail again, as is one ornery stepdad, who’d like to see Lightning Girl … well, dead.

Sanctuary:
Jess Mastriani knew she wasn’t going to be able to hide her psychic powers from the U.S. government forever. But she never thought that she and Dr. Krantz, the special agent brought in to convince Jess to join his elite team of “specially gifted” crime solvers, would have something in common.

When a local boy’s disappearance is attributed to a backwoods militia group, it turns out that Jess and Dr. Krantz have the same goal. Suddenly, Jess finds herself collaborating with one enemy in order to stop a far worse one. In an atmosphere of hate and fear, Jess and Dr. Krantz must work together to unite a community and save a life … without losing their own.

Note: I purchased these books at my local library’s used bookstore. They are in used but nice condition.

GIVEAWAY

One lucky winner will receive all three books shown above! This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end at 11:59 PM EST on Monday, February 4, 2013. Enter through the easy Rafflecopter form below.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Heart of the Ocean Book Tour: An Exciting Excerpt, Plus a Giveaway for a $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash!

Tour Schedule
Susan Heim on Writing is pleased to be a stop on the Heart of the Ocean Book Tour. Keep reading for an exciting excerpt from this book by Heather B. Moore and then enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash!

Without thinking of what she was doing, Eliza touched his cheek. Jon didn’t move, didn’t pull away, as she ran her fingers along his face then down his neck, stopping at his shoulder. “Jon,” she whispered, “you can’t change the past.”

His bloodshot eyes seemed to burn through hers. He brought his hand to her neck and lightly touched the brutal markings. Eliza bit her lip, suppressing a gasp as his fingers brushed her skin, but she didn’t move away. His touch was both painful and exhilarating at the same time. She closed her eyes, inhaling his nearness.

Then she felt his lips on hers, soft at first, hesitant. She couldn’t say she was surprised that he’d kissed her -- there had always been something tugging them together -- but still, she felt like she was in a dream, that this wasn’t really happening. Couldn’t be happening.

About Heart of the Ocean, by Heather B. Moore

A dark secret ... a grieving ghost ... a handsome stranger ...

What more could Eliza Robinson want?

Except for maybe her life.

In Heather B. Moore’s enthralling 1840’s historical romance, Heart of the Ocean, Eliza Robinson has turned down the very pretentious Mr. Thomas Beesley’s marriage proposal. As a business partner of Eliza’s father, Thomas quickly discredits the family and brings disgrace to the Robinson name.

While her father scrambles to restore his good name in New York City, Eliza flees to the remote Puritan town of Maybrook to stay with her Aunt Maeve. Although relieved to be away from all-things-male and unforgiving gossip columns, odd things start to happen to Eliza, and she is plagued by a ghostly voice. Her aunt’s explanation? That Eliza is being haunted by a woman who died of a broken heart twenty years ago.

After Aunt Maeve is tragically killed, Eliza's life is put in danger as she tries to uncover the mystery of her aunt's death. She encounters Jonathan Porter in Maybrook, whose presence in the town seems suspicious, yet she finds herself drawn to him. When she discovers that Jonathan’s dark secrets may be the link between the dead woman who haunts her and her aunt’s murderer, Eliza realizes that Jonathan is the one man she should never trust.

Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 1/31/13

An Excerpt from BEER MONEY, a Mystery Novel by Dani Amore!

Beer Money
Fred punched some buttons until the close-up of the girl filled the screen.

“Can you rip me a still photo of this frame?” I asked. A plan was forming in my head and the nausea was replaced with hope. There was a chance I could help Gabby. Whether she liked it or not.

“Sure,” Fred said. He punched a couple of buttons while the final shot stayed on screen. In the tape room, I heard a machine start up.

We went back through the rest of the film. Looked for a good shot of the Hairy Man. We found one, where he briefly looked at the camera. Fred made a still photo of that frame, too.

Fred went into the tape room and a few minutes later came back with the photos.

“What are we going to do now?” Fred asked me.

“You’ve got a safe in the office, right?” I asked.

Fred nodded yes.

“You’re going to put the film in there for safe keeping. Don’t tell anyone about this, okay?”

“But the cops--”

“We’ll give it to them soon enough,” I said. “I just want to nose around a little bit first, okay? It’s my job, right?”

Fred shook his head. “We have to give it to them right away, Burr. We’re just going to create more trouble. Isn’t that withholding evidence or something?”

“Soon enough, Fred. In the end, they’ll thank us for helping.” I stood to go.

“Where are you going?” Fred asked.

“I’m going to break into an apartment,” I said.

The author of BEER MONEY is giving away a $100 Amazon gift card. CLICK HERE to enter!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Back to the Future - A Giveaway Hop Across Time: Enter to Win "The Book of Time," by Guillaume Prevost

January 22-28, 2013

Welcome to the Back to the Future Giveaway Hop! Every blog participating in this hop is giving away a book (or books) set in the past or the future. Enter for the chance to win time travel tales, historical fiction, and futuristic novels!

For my giveaway, I am offering a paperback copy of The Book of Time, by Guillaume Prevost.


A statue. A coin. An old book.

They look as dusty as everything else in Faulkner’s Antique Books. But when Sam Faulkner slips the coin into the statue, he’s swept back to Scotland in 800 A.D. -- the age of the Vikings! -- where he must find both the statue and another coin in order to escape. It’s the first journey in an adventure that will take him to World War I, medieval Europe, even ancient Egypt … and a mystery that will end only if Sam can find his father in Time.

Note: I purchased this book at my library’s used bookstore so it is gently used but in very good condition.

GIVEAWAY

One lucky winner will receive a paperback copy of The Book of Time, by Guillaume Prevost. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end at 11:59 PM EST on January 28, 2013. Enter through the easy Rafflecopter form below.

Monday, January 21, 2013

daynight Book Blast: Giveaway for a $75 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash and Apple Earbuds!

daynight, by Megan Thomason

Meet The Second Chance Institute (SCI): Earth’s benevolent non-profit by day, Thera’s totalitarian regime by night. Their motto: Because Everyone Deserves a Second Chance™. Reality: The SCI subjects Second Chancers to strict controls and politically motivated science experiments like Cleaving -- forced lifetime union between two people who have sex.

Meet Kira Donovan. Fiercely loyal, overly optimistic, and ensnared by the promise of a full-ride college scholarship, Kira signs the SCI Recruit contract to escape memories of a tragedy that left her boyfriend and friends dead.

Meet Blake Sundry. Bitter about being raised in Exile and his mother’s death, Blake’s been trained to infiltrate and destroy the SCI. Current barrier to success? His Recruit partner -- Miss Goody Two Shoes Kira Donovan.

Meet Ethan Darcton. Born with a defective heart and resulting inferiority complex, Ethan’s forced to do his SCI elite family’s bidding. Cleave-worthy Kira Donovan catches his eye, but the presiding powers give defect-free Blake Sundry first dibs.

Full of competing agendas, romantic entanglements, humor, twists and turns, daynight is Megan Thomason’s debut young adult dystopian novel and first in the daynight series.

daynight will be FREE from January 21-23, 2013

Purchase

Praise

“Sure to win over YA readers looking for a dangerous, dystopian adventure story.”
~Kirkus Reviews

“Gripping young adult dystopian novel; compelling conflicts; high stakes; powerful narrative; surprises keep coming; strong writing; page-turner; engaging characters. Readers will be hungry for the sequels.”
~BlueInk Review (starred review)

“The writing is impressive and the story is a real page-turner. So many twists and turns… I’m hooked… I can’t wait for the next installment to come out… 4.5 out of 5 stars.”
~Self-Publishing Review

“Delicious humor, intelligence, and sparkling dialogue.”
~Amazon reviewer

“Strangely brilliant and imaginative.”
~Amazon reviewer

“Grips you from the first page and keeps you wanting more.”
~Amazon reviewer

“Plot twists kept me reading till late at night.”
~Amazon reviewer

“Every page a thrilling experience.”
~Amazon reviewer

“Hooked from the first chapter and could not put it down.”
~Amazon reviewer

“It's like a CW fantasy TV show in a book with a really interesting environment.”
~Amazon reviewer

“I’m a little tired of dystopian novels, but daynight has a unique and fresh story line that didn’t have any trouble keeping my interest.”
~Amazon reviewer

Author Megan Thomason

Megan Thomason lives in paradise aka San Diego, CA, with her husband and five children. A former software manager, Megan vastly prefers writing twisted tales to business, product, and marketing plans. When she isn’t typing away on her laptop, she’s reading books on her phone -- over 600 in the last year -- or attending to the needs of her family. Megan’s fluent in sarcasm, could potentially benefit from a 12-step program for road rage, struggles with a Hot Tamales addiction, loves world travel and fast cars, and hates paperwork and being an insomniac. daynight is Megan’s first published novel, but fourth written one.


Tour Schedule

Book Blast Giveaway
$75 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash
Apple Earbuds ($30 Value)
Ends February 3, 2013

Friday, January 18, 2013

Chicken Soup for the Soul: You Pick the Book Giveaway (3 Winners)!

I’ve been fortunate to be an editor with Chicken Soup for the Soul for more than twelve years. I love reading all of the inspirational stories we receive. And the letters we get in response prove that these true-life tales truly have the power to change lives. Many people going through tough times have been given new hope and determination after reading the stories of those who have experienced similar trials. I also love the humorous stories we receive. Sometimes, you just want to read something that makes you crack up and see the lighter side of life.

To celebrate my 12+ years of working with Chicken Soup for the Soul, I’d like to offer the opportunity for you to win one of the books I’ve co-authored over the years. The covers are shown below. Feel free to click on a cover that interests you to find out more about it on the book’s Amazon page.



Chicken Soup for the Soul books make great gifts. They’re also ideal for busy parents because the short stories can be consumed when you have a few moments to spare in your day. If it’s been a while since you’ve read a Chicken Soup for the Soul book, or if you’ve never gotten around to reading one, I hope you’ll pick up a copy today. With more than 200 titles available, you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for you!

GIVEAWAY

Three (3) wonderful readers will win their choice of one Chicken Soup for the Soul book (trade paperback) from the options shown above. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end at 11:59 PM EST on Friday, February 1, 2013. Enter through the easy Rafflecopter form below.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Author Interview and Giveaway: "Royal Flush," by Scott Bartlett (Plus a Free Audiobook!)

What is your book, Royal Flush, about?

It’s about a profoundly stupid man who finds himself king of a vast kingdom. In fact, that's his name -- the King. It’s best not to look too deeply into this.

His royal advisor encourages him to find a wife, so that an heir might be produced. Despite initial reluctance, the King starts to yearn for love. The book is divided into four parts, and in each one he screws up spectacularly with a different woman.

How did you get the idea for this book?

Other than a fraught love life?

The seed of the book came to me in high school, while walking from the school bus to my house -- this was seven years ago or so. It was a scene in which a man demands a woman remove his heart with a scalpel, as she has broken it. She refuses, of course. I decided it would be comedic melodrama, and fun to write.

That became the climax of a short story I titled “The King of Hearts.” The next year, I followed it up with two sequels -- “The King of Diamonds” and “The King of Spades” --and when a local contest deadline rolled around, I decided to turn them all into a novel. And yes, I know four kings don’t make a royal flush. Anyway, I’ve been editing the book ever since.

Is this your first book? If not, what else have you written?

It’s my second of three. The first was a science fiction novel I wrote in high school and never gave a name. In fact, I haven’t done anything with it beyond the first draft -- I may, one day.

The third is about a writer who works in a grocery store, called Taking Stock. I recently completed the fifth draft, and I hope to release it halfway through 2013.

When did you start writing? Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Know that you’ll have to do an inordinate quantity of work, and when you’re finished doing that, another inordinate quantity will await you. And that still might not make you successful. Also know that you won’t be willing to do all the work -- know that plenty of days, just sitting down to do the work will be a struggle. Life and insecurity will get in your way. You have to learn how to keep both at bay.

If you’re anything like me, anyway.

Why did you decide to write a book in this genre?

Because it allowed me to make up my own world and my own nonsensical rules to go with it. That worked out really well, because at the time I knew pretty much zip about the real world.

Do you plan a sequel or future books?

This question is particularly interesting for me to answer. I don’t believe I’ve discussed this publicly before.

I am planning a direct sequel. But Royal Flush is also related to the book I’m working on now (Taking Stock), in that the main character in the latter is writing the former throughout the book. And his writing it has consequences for the plot, of course. I get a real kick out of myself, by the way. I don’t know if that’s coming through or not.

Do you have a website? How can we order this book?

I do! My book’s website is http://www.batshite.com/royalflush.

FREE AUDIOBOOK OFFER!

But that’s not all -- I’ve also recently finished recording Part One of Royal Flush as an audiobook, and I’m giving it away for free to anyone who signs up for my new monthly newsletter, which I’ve elected to call “News in a Letter.” So everyone should sign up!



GIVEAWAY

Author Scott Bartlett has generously offered to give a copy of Royal Flush (your choice of eBook/electronic format) to one lucky winner! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway will end at 11:59 PM EST on Thursday, January 31, 2013.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Book Review: Christmas at Sea Pines Cottage, by Sally Smith O'Rourke


My taste in pets runs more to the feline side, so I wasn’t sure if I’d like a book narrated by a dog, but I must admit that I fell in love with Christmas at Sea Pines Cottage -- and with Meteor the dog! Author Sally Smith O’Rourke has an easy-going writing style that entices you to keep reading straight through from beginning to end. And, indeed, this is a quick read at 148 pages (in my mass-market paperback copy), making it perfect for busy parents and others who just want a great story to pick up for a few stolen moments of bliss.

You’ll fall in love with Meteor’s loyalty and gentleness, as well as his family of humans who occupy Sea Pines Cottage. I found myself laughing at Meteor’s antics, as well as shedding a tear when tough times affected his beloved Robert, Laura, and Nicholas. The end will put a smile on your face and a desire in your heart to read more of Sally Smith O’Rourke’s books!

Visit the author on her blog/website at www.sallysmithorourke.com.



Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate my candid review, but all opinions are 100% my own. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Beer Money Book Blast: Giveaway for a $100 Amazon Gift Card!

Beer Money
Beer Money
In the explosive opening to an exciting new mystery series, private investigator Burr Ashland learns that his best friend, a history professor, has been murdered.

Burr is plunged into an investigation that puts him in the middle of a violent struggle, not just between the present and the past, but between good and evil.

With nonstop action and breakneck twists, BEER MONEY is the next bestseller from Dani Amore, whom Mystery Tribune calls “a sensation among Kindle owners who love fast paced thrillers.”

About Author Dani Amore
Dani Amore is a bestselling crime novelist living in Los Angeles, California. She is the winner of the 2011 Independent Book Award for Crime Fiction. Her books include THE CIRCUIT RIDER (a Kindle serial), The Mary Cooper Mystery Series, THE KILLING LEAGUE, The John Rockne Mystery Series, and TO FIND A MOUNTAIN.

Follow Dani Amore
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Pinterest

Purchase Beer Money on Amazon.

GIVEAWAY

The author is giving away a $100 Amazon Gift Card. Fill out the Rafflecopter form to enter!

No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop: Enter to Win a $100 GlobalGiving Gift Card to Help Those in Need!

If you hate jumping through hoops to enter giveaways, then this contest is for you! For every giveaway in this hop, you will only be asked to leave your name and contact information. No tweets, no follows, no posts, no questions … no hassle! So, let’s get started!


For my giveaway, I am giving YOU the opportunity to do good! One winner will receive a $100 GlobalGiving gift card! This very special gift allows you to support one of more than 1,000 charities in the United States and worldwide. These groups have all been pre-screened by GlobalGiving to ensure that they are providing real-world solutions to help “educate children, feed the hungry, build houses and infrastructure, protect our environment, empower women (and men), rescue animals, support active military and veterans” and more. It’s your choice of which cause you’d love to support!

TO ENTER: Simply leave your name and email address in a comment on this blog post.

***IMPORTANT: When you’re done entering here, please hop over to my other blog, Susan Heim on Parenting, for the chance to win an additional GlobalGiving gift card! Yes, I am giving away TWO $100 GlobalGiving gift cards -- one on each of my blogs.***

This giveaway is open to anyone who can use a GlobalGiving gift card at www.GlobalGiving.org and will end at 11:59 PM EST on January 21, 2013. [U.S. winners will be mailed a physical gift card; international winners will be emailed a code.] Void where prohibited.

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to the winner: sweety white!

Participating blogs:


Disclosure: GlobalGiving has generously donated these gift cards as a thank-you for my participation in a promotional campaign.

Take My Heart Book Tour: Excerpt and Giveaway for a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Tour Schedule

Take My Heart, by Marie Higgins

Mercedes Maxwell’s sister’s last wish was for Mercedes to find evidence against Kat’s husband, William Braxton, and have him hung as a traitor to the crown. Mercedes isn’t na├»ve when it comes to capturing traitors because her own deceased husband had once been an agent for the King when they lived in England.

When she meets William Braxton for the first time, all is not as it seems. Portraying her twin, Mercedes knows this is the only way to get close enough to William to discover his secrets. What she finds along the way are little surprises she hadn’t counted on, especially when she begins to give her heart to a man who may be a spy against the crown.



Excerpt

Thundering hooves of a horse bore down upon them. Mercedes switched her attention to the man on the steed. The small crowd parted, and the man atop the animal dismounted. His horse had whipped up a cloud of dust in the dingy alley and she waved her hand in front of her face to keep from sneezing. The sight of the rider left her speechless and a bit weak at the knees.

His rugged appearance shocked her, his strength evident in his muscled arms and legs. Rather than the fancy clothes of the English gentry, the beige shirt and brown leather vest of a farmer’s attire stretched taut across his wide chest, and the black material of his trousers molded to his legs and fit snugly into his black knee-boots. But this man was no farmer. That much appeared evident by the way he carried himself as he strode toward her, his step too confident, too graceful.

When he neared and she gazed upon his face, her breath caught in her throat. The sun had turned his skin a light brown, and the sureness of his jaw bespoke authority. Chestnut hair tousled by the wind framed his head, and she had a sudden urge to swipe the unruly locks off his forehead.

He was quite handsome, if she dared admit, and he literally made her lungs stop working. Never had that happened to her from just admiring a man. Looking into his fiery hazel eyes, she swallowed hard.

He stopped mere inches away, towering over both Mercedes and the soldier like a dark cloud of doom. She leaned her head back to take in his height.

The handsome man met the soldier’s stare. “Sir, will you kindly remove your hands from my wife?”

Her jaw dropped. Wife?

“Correct me, Mr. Braxton, but was your wife not running from you?” The soldier shook his head. “A few hours ago, I had heard that you reported your wife missing. Now here she is caught running. There must be a reason for that.”

She sucked in her breath. Mr. Braxton? This handsome and very powerful man was William Braxton, her sister’s husband?

The pulse in her temple grew stronger. She couldn’t speak, and she couldn’t think. Telling him about Kat’s death was crucial, yet she didn’t want to do that in front of all of these spectators.

If only her mind would work with her tongue and voice, perhaps she wouldn’t feel like a trapped animal. But more importantly, why did she find her brother-in-law dangerously attractive?

When the man in question settled his eyes on her, his expression softened and a smile touched his mouth. “Yes, my dear. Please inform the captain and all these good people why you were running from me.”

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Praise for Marie Higgins

”I enjoyed this book immensely. Each book of Marie's that I read is better than the last. I recommend this book to young adults and older who enjoy historical mystery, intrigue, fight for freedom, clean romance. This is the book for you.”
~Mary Walling / Goodreads

“Few authors have mastered the art of storytelling like Marie Higgins. In this Colonial-era romance, Marie takes her reader on a wild ride. Every chapter, every scene, every line envelops the reader’s senses and imagination with passionate romance, deep emotional struggles, unexpected twists and turns, and never-ending ups and downs. This was a hard book to put down and earns an unequivocal five stars from me. Thanks, Marie, for writing such great romances!”
~Wanda Luce / Goodreads

“Marie Higgins’s Take My Heart is a stunning colonial romance. With well-developed characters and heart-warming scenes, this book will steal the hearts of romance lovers and historical fiction fans. There are numerous twists, and Higgins keeps you guessing at every turn as to who the real villain is. This book is a must-read for anyone who loves romance, history, or just a good story. FIVE STARS ALL THE WAY!!”
~L.D. Smith / Kindle

“Breathless! From start to finish you will keep wondering, questioning, and hoping. You will root for the underdog, and smile as love conquers all. Great read. You won’t put it down until you’re finished!”
~M. Henning / Kindle

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Author Marie Higgins

Since Marie Higgins was a little girl playing Barbies with her sister, Stacey, she has loved the adventure of making up romantic stories. Marie was only eighteen years old when she wrote her first skit, which won an award for Funniest Skit. A little later in life, after she’d married and had children, Marie wrote church roadshows that were judged as Funniest and Best Written. From there, she branched out to write full-length novels based on her dreams. (Yes, she says, her dreams really are that silly.)

Marie has been married for twenty-six years to a wonderful man. Together, they have three loving daughters and several beautiful grandchildren. Marie works full-time for the state of Utah, where she has lived her entire life. Marie plans to keep writing because the characters in her head won’t shut up. But her husband smiles and pretends this is normal.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Republic Book Blast: Giveaway for a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

Republic

Republic

Ken Murphy is a 45-year-old National Guard Colonel and senior manager at a computer chip manufacturer in quiet Highview, West Virginia. In this future history featuring frightening parallels to our present, the local economy is thrown into a tailspin when the plant is suddenly shut down, even as the nation is thrown into turmoil by a deadly domestic terrorist attack. Murphy, like everyone else in his town, is suddenly thrown out of work, with no way to pay for medical care for his son.

Karen Greenfield, a young captain in Murphy’s National Guard battalion, faces a devastating choice: How does she serve the Constitution she swore to protect when the danger comes from the federal government itself? After witnessing the senseless death of a co-worker, she begins to question the foundations of everything she has ever believed.

The conflict escalates from Charleston, West Virginia to the halls of Congress. Politicians on both sides refuse to back down or compromise, bringing open armed conflict closer and closer to reality.

From the Amazon bestselling author of Just Remember to Breathe, Republic is a surprise bestselling dystopian novel (more than two years on the Amazon Alternate History bestseller list) described by readers as “breathtaking,” “riveting,” and “haunting.”

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About the Author

Charles Sheehan-Miles served in combat with the 24th Infantry Division during the 1991 Gulf War, and was decorated for valor for helping rescue fellow tank crewmen from a burning tank during the Battle at Rumayla. He is a former President and co-founder of the National Gulf War Resource Center and later was executive director of Veterans for Common Sense.

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