16 February 2019

3 Things on a Saturday Night (Surrender to Passion Takeover!)


We made it folks - it's Saturday night! I'm excited to bring you the second author of the book Surrender to Passion - Victoria Spencer. Welcome, Victoria! Make sure you check out last week's suggestions too and also be sure to purchase a copy of this incredible book here. 

Take it away, Victoria!

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Suggested book: Under Winter Lights by Bree M. Lewandowski

I’m a sucker for dance movies and books, and this one is so fantastic! The author is a dancer herself, which really shows. Chicago ballerina Martina is thrilled when she’s chosen for the role of Clara in the Nutcracker, only to find out her Nutcracker is the mysterious Russian Maraav. Between their chemistry and Martina’s struggle with her overbearing director, this winter romance is a magical read.

Suggested Tabletop Game: Cockroach Poker

Nope, this isn’t some debaucherous game where you gamble dead bugs and your last shred of dignity in a seedy black market bar. I mean, I guess it could be, you do you.

Cockroach Poker is a fun, family-friendly bluffing game with some great, simple rules and even better art. It centers around trying to have as few cards as possible and every time you get caught in a lie, you have to keep the card. Great for when you’re too tired for Catan or Pandemic, or when the average age is a bit lower.

Suggested YouTube Channel: Binging with Babish

Other than the usual lo-fi channels I listen to when formatting or editing (and mentioned in my short “Making Peace”) I love Binging with Babish. He’s got a pretty big following, and each episode he takes a meal or dish from a scene in film and recreates it--both accurately and often with his own twist if it turns out monstrous.

I tried his strudel (inspired by that incredibly uncomfortable scene in Inglorious Bastards) just the other night and it turned out fantastic!


About Victoria

Victoria is a romance and erotic romance author from southern New England. She focuses on diverse and complex protagonists who want adventure as much as love. She travels around the eastern U. S. in her tiny house looking for her own adventures.

Her short, “Making Peace,” is featured in the Surrender to Passion anthology, and takes place within the same world as her debut novella, Changing History.

3 Elements of Imagination in Writing "Finding Myself in Borneo" - by Neill McKee

Today I'm proud to be hosting Neill McKee on my blog! He's going to be sharing three elements of imagination in his writing of the book "Finding Myself in Borneo." Be sure to check out what the book is all about by visiting this post here.

---- Post by Neill McKee ---

1. Childhood imagination comes true: In the beginning of my travel memoir, I explain how, as a child, I imagined escaping from my chemically polluted home town in Ontario, Canada. I saw mysterious shapes on a distant hill beyond the chemical factory and I imagined them to be rhinos, elephants and other wild beasts of a more verdant and inviting land. I called the place "Africa," but little did I know then that they were a foreshadowing of my future years on the Island of Borneo. As a young adult, I became more and more interested in Asia, rather than Africa, when I studied Zen Buddhism. Somehow, I wanted to get to Asia. Near the end of my last semester in 1968, I saw a poster on my university campus about teaching overseas, had an interview the next week, and almost like magic, I found myself as a high school teacher in Sabah, Malaysia (North Borneo) a few months later.

2. Borneo magic: The people of the small town I lived in, Kota Belud, were from three main cultures with many different religions and languages: native Kadazans (animists and Christians) who arrived in Borneo from mainland Asia, thousands of years ago; Bajau (Muslims), former "sea gypsies" who migrated from the Southern Philippines and Indonesia in the last hundred years or so; and overseas Chinese (mainly Buddhists and ancestor worshippers) who spoke about seven different Chinese languages or dialects. Fortunately, the lingua franca was Malay—a relatively easy language to learn—and, at the time, the school's medium of instruction remained English. This confluence of so many cultures and oral traditions led to me learning about many myths and magical tales, some of which I have interwoven in the stories of my book. I included accounts of ghosts, spirits, creation myths, and magic spells, including some sexual in nature, a pugai in Malay, used by the community to explain a person's sudden change in behavior or fortune. I detail such a magic sexual spell that was believed to be the cause of the death of our Australian school principal, who had converted to Islam and taken a second native wife, probably without telling the one he left in his home country.

3. My imagination ran wild too! I think it was this magic environment that helped with the creation of the North Borneo Frodo Society (NBFS). I lived in the shadow of Sabah’s Mount Kinabalu (the “Lonely Mountain”), the highest mountain in Southeast Asia (13,435 feet or 4,095 meters above sea level) and the only one like it in the whole of Borneo. In late 1968, my American Peace Corps buddy and I experienced an overpowering revelation (with a little hallucinogenic help!). We realized that Kota Belud was most likely J.R.R Tolkien's Rivendell. We developed our main theory: North Borneo is really the Middle-Earth of Tolkien's famous trilogy, Lord of the Rings. We carried on our research for the next two years: developing comparative maps, discovering the remains of Mount Doom, uncovering stories of an “oily man” (Gollum) who slinks in shadows of Kota Belud on moonlit nights, frightening local residents. We employed a Bajau man to forge small NBFS swords, still used by natives who live in the hills near the mountain. Through correspondence, people joined our society from all around the world. We wrote to Tolkien’s publisher and the great author became a patron of the NBFS, one of two he joined, so we later learned in a letter from the Tolkien Society of London. We even made it into his biography! Our efforts created new urban legends and myths which continue to be created and passed on today.

Thank you Neill! Be sure to find out more about the author by visiting his website at www.neillmckeeauthor.com.

13 February 2019

On Books, Writing, and Life - Interview with Author Cameron J. Quinn

In case you missed author Cameron J. Quinn wrote a really cool "3 Suggestions on a Saturday Night" post for us, and now I'm so excited to interview her! Read her Saturday night post here and then come back and check out the interview!

First, tell me about your latest book and what it is about.

My latest release was How to Get Arrested. I pulled the original and rewrote it because I love the series and the characters and the first time I published it, I didn't have the knowledge about craft or the industry that I have now. 

Arrested, is the first book in the Starsboro Chronicles. It introduces the series MC's Zurik D'Vordi and Detective Jennifer Morgan. (Zurik's younger brother Trent plays a bigger role in later.) It starts when Morgan arrested Zurik, believing he killed a group of men. When it turns out the victims weren't exactly human, it's all Morgan can do to put the pieces together without falling apart.

That sounds so exciting! So, why did you decide to write under a pen name?

I'm the only one of my given name and I knew an author who published a book that bombed and the publisher made her change her name for her next book. I didn't want to go through that. I also write non-fiction and decided to use my given name for that. Cameron is my maternal great grandmother's maiden name, J stands for Jones which is my maternal grandmother's maiden name, and Quinn is my paternal grandmother's maiden name so the name is mine. I decided to honor the women in my family by using their names.

I love how you used family names to create your pen name. What are you working on now?

All the things. Haha. I have trouble focusing on one project. My next thing should be rewriting How to Diagnose a Changeling but I've been outlining a paranormal romance about werewolves in Maine that's got me pretty motivated. The working title is Bite Me Once. It's about the first female werewolf to be bitten in (and survive the change) in over 100 years. You can imagine how that would go. She ends up in a pack but she's not sure that's the right place for her. But can she survive on her own?
The character's name is Naomi and shes so much fun to write. The hero of the story, Remmy has also been an interesting one to explore.

Wow, that sounds very cool! What does a typical day of writing look like for you?

On a good day, I get up at 5 am, write until the kids up around 7, get them ready for school, get the baby up and then I'm lucky if I can write again that day. I'm lucky though. My husband works second shift so he takes my daughter a few days a week so I can get out of the house to a local coffee shop so I can really get some work done.

That's nice you start the day with writing with all you have going on! So, how do you come up with your creative storylines? (I'm also very much into the titles of your books, such as "How to Catch a Serial Killer" and "How to Get Kicked Out of School"?)

The Chronicles are a lot of fun. I just look up ghost stories and urban legends and then bring them to Starsboro. I get to see how Zurik and the gang will handle different challenges. The how to's came from the first book. I was chatting with my friend and fellow author VS Holmes about possible titles and talking about how and why Zurik got caught and it seemed like he almost wanted to. So one of us (I'm not sure which) said it would be funny if it was called how to get arrested. And there it was. Then I decided to stick with the 'how to' theme. The second one How to Diagnose a Changeling is because the monster is a changeling and the child that's taken is the son of a doctor.

Ah, I love it! What surrounds you as you write?

I usually have a fur baby or two close by. I usually write in the living room so I don't disturb anyone who's sleeping. And of course if I'm in the coffee shop, I sit by the window, there are always flowers on the table.

You always have such lovely company as you write! So you do your own share of interviews with the Amphibian Press Podcast! Does that experience help you with your own writing?

Sometimes I'll interview someone who will bring up things in writing I hadn't thought about before that helps me with craft. I love finding the authors who are dedicated to improving craft not just pushing books out as fast as they can. There's nothing wrong with that but for me, it's all about improvement and the reader experience.

I can totally relate! One of my favorite questions to ask authors is - what books did you love reading as a kid? Any favorites?

The book that changed the way I looked at books was Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel. It was about a little bat, the runt, who gets lost on his first migration and when he's trying to find his way home he finds a brown bat, Marina, and they end up being hunted by two cannibal bats that were brought up from South America. It sounds kind of terrible for a ten-year-old to read that but I promise it was perfect for me at the time. Haha. It also brought up pieces of history and experimentation on bats I had no idea the government had done until I was talking about the book later (with my husband) and he told me about how they were using bats to carry bombs during WWII. I'll never forget that trilogy of books. Made me love bats. I also read Watership Down, Firebringer and The Sight. over the next few years before getting into paranormal romance. But without Silverwing, I doubt I'd be where I am today. My brother loved reading as a kid and I wanted to. My mom was always reading and writing and I wanted to love it too but I just couldn't get into the stories until one fateful day in the local bookshop, I found the book about the bat.

How cool! Now I have some books that I need to look up now. Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my blog! 


About the Author

Cameron J Quinn is the aaward-winningauthor of The Starsboro Chronicles. Cameron loves writing as both an escape from reality and just a good time. She likes to add humor to tough situations and put her otherwise fantastical characters into real world situations. You can grab a free copy of her book How to Get Kicked Out of School when you sign up for her mailing list. She’s the co-founder of Amphibian Press and runs AmphibianAuthors.com as well as organizing book reviews and a podcast of author interviews.

11 February 2019

Writing Military Sci-Fi As a Means of Self Exploration by Damien Larkin

This post is written by author Damien Larkin. More about the author AND his book after his guest post. 

Military Science Fiction – the first time I heard of this genre when I was younger, I remember trying to reconcile the “military” part with the “science fiction” part. Wasn’t Sci-Fi all about exploring strange new worlds and seeking out alien civilisations and so forth?

The roots of this sub-genre can be traced back to the late nineteenth century with H.G Wells but began to forge its own identity as the entire Sci-Fi genre gained wider acceptance and interest. Galvanised by Robert A. Heinlein’s 1959 “Starship Troopers”, military Sci-Fi rose in popularity during the 1970s. For a generation of soldiers who served in the Vietnam War, it became an outlet to understand and rationalise the horrors of what they had witnessed. Joe Haldeman’s “The Forever War” was written by the author as a counter-argument to Heinlein’s philosophies, while David Drake’s “Hammer’s Slammers” dealt with the horrors of war amongst other themes.

Military Sci-Fi has continued to grow and evolve into the twenty-first century with legions of fans worldwide fascinated by vivid writing, epic battle scenes, strange new technology and plenty of alien enemies to subdue!

I decided to pen Big Red based on my own experiences as a soldier in the Irish Reserve Defence Forces. I rate those years as some of my fondest; I enjoyed the camaraderie, the practical skills, discipline and doing my bit. It was an amazing experience and as a neutral country, the likelihood of us being ever utilised for war was minimal.

My first military fantasy novel dealt with child soldiers fighting a losing war and allowed me to explore some of the themes that would later go into Big Red. I was fascinated with concepts of indoctrination and dehumanising the enemy as an instrument to achieve victory on the battlefield. The story in Big Red allowed me to not only take a look at this but also focus on the point of view of an average soldier: without any say in the mission or operation, yet willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Writing has been an amazing outlet for me to explore not just my past experiences, but as a way to get to know myself better. While drawing loosely on events from my life and that of other people’s, I’m able to create characters with great depth and it’s these characters that I find the most fascinating. As part of my world building process, I try and put my feet in the shoes of every character I create. I want to know their background, their outlook and their reasons for acting the way they do. This technique alone has helped me to understand so many other people’s experiences and empathise with their point of view, even if I don’t agree with it.

One of my goals as a writer isn’t just about understanding myself but understanding as many people as I can in this short life. And for that, I will always be grateful.

About the book, Big Red

Suffering the side effects of Compression travel, soldier Darren Loughlin wakes up screaming from a gunshot wound that isn’t there. Despite a fractured memory, he is forced to recount his year-long tour of duty on Mars to uncover the mysterious fate of Earth’s off-world colonies and the whereabouts of his shattered Battalion.

With time running out, Darren recalls his tour of duty with the Mars Occupation Force in New Berlin colony, their brutal MARSCORP masters, and the vicious war against the hostile alien natives.

But as he exposes the truth, Darren suspects he is at the centre of a plot spanning forty years. He has one last mission to carry out. And his alien enemy may be more human than he is…

About the author, Damien Larkin

Damien Larkin is a full-time stay-at-home father of two loud (but happy) young children and a part-time Planning Analyst. He enjoys turning terrifying nightmares into novels and currently resides in Dublin, Ireland.

Find out more about the author by visiting his website, https://www.damienlarkinbooks.com/.

09 February 2019

3 Suggestions on a Saturday Night (Surrender to Passion Takeover!)



I'm so excited to be partnering up with the authors of Surrender to Passion. First up is Angela Breen who has tonight's three suggestions. Surrender to Passion includes four tales of romance and passion and is a perfect read for the month of February!

Be sure to purchase your copy here!

Now, here's what author Angela Breen has for us on Saturday night!

---- The remainder of this post is by Angela Breen

Saturday Night Movie Suggestion: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. In this book to movie adaptation from Netflix, Lara Jean is a lonely girl with an affinity for romance novels and writing love letters she never intends to send. Chaos ensues when the letters find their way to the mailbox and the five boys she’s written to come looking for answers. What could be worse? Oh right, her neighbor and sister's ex-boyfriend received a letter. AWKWARD!

I don’t want to spoil this amazing movie for you so just go watch it. It’s everything wholesome, adorable, and it’s full of teen angst and just enough first love and social media drama.

Saturday Night Book Suggestion: I’m in a lovey mood so in the spirit of Surrender to Passion and the lovely month of February I recommend The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks. I am not a Sparks fan typically but when my husband was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010, one of the ways we stayed connected was to read the same books. He found this one and wrote me about it so I picked it up the next day. 

This book was everything I needed at the time and the movie does not do it justice. Sparks’ depiction of superstition in the military is right on the money and amusing for us civilians.

In the book, a Marine (Logan) finds a picture of a woman wearing a T-shirt that says Lucky on it. He tries to find the owner of the photo but when he fails he ends up keeping it. He survives an IED explosion and starts to think it’s because of the photo. Upon returning to the US he travels cross country in an effort to find the woman and thank her.

Sparks deals with abusive ex’s, PTSD, survivor’s guilt and more making this book incredibly real and relatable.

Saturday Night Music Suggestion: While writing Soulmate Tango, I listened to 2000’s music but Michelle Branch stood out among the crowd. Her track "Everywhere" is so Lana and Jason I couldn’t get enough while I was writing. However, the entire "All you Wanted" album is amazing and I highly recommend it for when you’re in that new love phase. (or just thinking back to it.)

About Angela Breen

Angela Breen is a contemporary romance author from New Hampshire. She lives with her Marine Veteran husband and three beautiful children.

The family dreams of a life on the open ocean full of adventure. Angela’s earnings from book sales help towards that goal.

Visit her website at angelabreenwrites.wordpress.com

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Again, be sure you catch this amazing book at books2read.com/passion. Thank you Angela for your fun Saturday night suggestions!

06 February 2019

Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah - A Book Spotlight

Looking for a new book for 2019? In today's' book spotlight, I am featuring Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabahi by Neill McKee. Here is a bit about the book:

Finding Myself in Borneo is an honest and buoyant chronicle of a young Canadian man's adventures during 1968-70, while teaching secondary school as a CUSO volunteer in Sabah, Malaysia (North Borneo). Travel with Neill McKee on his unique journey through vibrant Asian cultures as he learns the craft of teaching, the Malay language and local customs, and gains many friends in his small community. He climbs the highest peak in Southeast Asia--Mount Kinabalu, has a love affair, and navigates Borneo's backwaters to make his first of many documentary films.McKee travels by freighter to Indonesia, where he discovers the scars of that country's recent genocide, a contrast to his hilarious motorcycle journeys in Sabah with his American Peace Corps buddy. They make a hallucinogenic discovery--North Borneo is, indeed, J. R. R. Tolkien's famed Middle-Earth of The Lord of the Rings! The enterprising duo establish the North Borneo Frodo Society, an organization Tolkien joins.

McKee's second Sabah sojourn and other return trips offer the reader the opportunity to match the early anecdotes to what in fact happened to the land and people who touched his life, and he theirs.

Paperback: 260 pages
Publisher: Nbfs Creations LLC (January 8, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1732945705
ISBN-13: 978-1732945708


About the Author: 

Neill McKee is a creative nonfiction writer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. McKee, who holds a B.A. Degree from the University of Calgary and a Masters in Communication from Florida State University, lived and worked internationally for 45 years and became an expert in communication for social change. He directed and produced of a number of award-winning documentary films/videos and multi-media initiatives and authored numerous articles and books on development communication. During his international career, McKee worked for Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO), the International Development Ressearch Centre (IDRC), Canada, UNICEF, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore; Academy for Educational Development, Washington, D.C. and FHI 360, Washington, D.C. He worked and lived in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda and Russia for a total of 18 years and traveled to over 80 countries on short-term assignments.

05 February 2019

You Started WHAT After 60? Highpointing Across America - A Book Review

I'm so inspired by people who push the limits of the boundaries set by society (and by themselves). And with Jane T. Bartrand's book You Started WHAT After 60?, she absolutely pushes her own limits with her journey to highpoint across America. 

First, before I review the book, here's a bit about what it's all about:

Itching for a challenge when she turned 60, Jane Bertrand set out to reach the highest point of each state. Her strategic mistake was to start with the easiest ones, leaving the most strenuous for the end of this decade-long quest. She recruited over 50 family members, colleagues, and childhood friends to join her in this quest. Ostensibly a book about hiking and climbing, it captures the deep sense of friendship, further strengthened by bear sightings, lack of signage, lost GPS connectivity, muddy trails, snowfields, icy run-off, and tent loss encountered along the way.

Paperback: 284 pagesPublisher: Walnut Park Press (November 16, 2018)Language: EnglishISBN-10: 1732847703ISBN-13: 978-1732847705


You Started WHAT after 60? Highpointing across America is now available to purchase on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and IndieBound.




What I Thought: 

Needing to get physically active again myself, I was so inspired by Jane's adventures. It made me want to get outdoors and try something a bit outside of my own comfort zone. What I really liked about this book is it let me travel to areas of the United States I haven't been to before. She obviously had so much fun and learned so much. It was an incredible experience to read this book. Seriously, if you are in need of some hiking guidelines or want to start on this journey yourself, this is an excellent starting point. I loved how she recruited family members and friends along the way to take this journey with her and it provided some excellent insights into what this journey was about for this author. 

I think the best takeaway I got from this book is that it is never too late to push yourself and try something new. 

I absolutely recommend this book for adventure seekers and anyone who wants to get pushed outside their comfort zone.

About the Author:

Jane Trowbridge Bertrand is a professor at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. A Maine native, she moved to New Orleans over 40 years ago where she and her husband Bill raised their children, Katy and Jacob. Her recurrent travel to Africa in connection with international family planning work generated many of the frequent flyer miles that made this highpointing pursuit possible.
Find Jane Online:
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1785116.Jane_T_Bertrand?from_search=true

Twitter:  @JaneBertrand8
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/JaneBertrandAuthor/
Website:  https://www.janebertrand.com/
I received this book in exchange for my honest review through WOW! Blog Tours. If you want to read great books like this, send me an email to nicole[at]wow-womenonwriting.com. 
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