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1. The Lure of the New Manuscript: Overcoming Shiny New Idea Syndrome Plus a Giveaway

It's been nine months since Compulsion came out, and the paperback releases TODAY. It's available everywhere, and psst, Amazon has it on sale for $5.25. If you haven't read it yet, and if you like books with romance, family, coming of age, mystery/suspense, folklore, history, atmosphere, a bit of magic, and the supernatural--or have someone you think might enjoy it--I'd be very grateful if you'd consider buying today. Getting those purchases in a short period makes a big difference!

It's a strange feeling having worked on three books set in the same world for so long. I'm finishing up the revision on Illusion, the final book, and I'm asking myself what next? I owe my agent an adult/NA book, and I have a YA book I need to turn in for my contract option. I actually have two possible manuscripts that are partially finished and in need of revision. Either one would work.

So what did I just do? I sent my agent a synopsis for a shiny new (and completely different) YA project. One based on tons of action and built-in conflict. I'm excited about writing it. I woke up at four o'clock Friday morning and wrote the opening couple of pages, and they flowed like words haven't flowed in a long time for me. 

The business of publishing is very different than you envision as a pre-published author. Deadlines, public appearances, unexpected interviews, work on covers, blog tours, the business side of things . . .  All this takes more time than you envision. You're also inevitably working simultaneously on at least two books, revising, editing, or proofreading one while you draft another. 

I succumbed to shiny new manuscript syndrome only once before I was published, abandoning a revision in progress to write Compulsion, because I felt it was more timely and marketable. It turned out that was a smart decision. Sometimes you have to trust you gut.

But how do you know if you are making a wise decision or if you are simply avoiding going back to--or continuing--a project because you've reached the hard part or hit a stretch of writer's block? 

Here are five questions to ask yourself.

Read more »

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2. TURNING PAGES: MECHANICA, by Betsy Cornwell

Every fairytale is putty in the hands of a writer, being reshaped and stretched to his or her own desires. This imaginative Cinderella retelling has elements of steampunk, yet has some subtleties that most steampunk doesn't have. There's an... Read the rest of this post

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3. New Sketchbook Cover

It's always fun to paint the lettering on a new sketchbook cover. This one's called "Entrance Ramp" after the first painting in the book. I drew the guidelines with a white Supracolor Watercolor Pencil and a ballpoint pen.

I'm using One-Shot lettering paint (chrome yellow) on a Pentalic watercolor journal.
----
Previously: Your sketchbook covers
Titles on sketchbook covers

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4. Thank You and a bit of an Apology

I have said before that the highest number of views CBO has received were via our friends in China. However, I have some news and an explanation.

My last ever posting on the UK comics industry exceeded views of any other single CBO posting since the site started on Blogger!

Yesterday I was going to post some items but spent the day responding privately, were needed, or simply deleting huge numbers of comments mainly "Well said!"/"Sense at last!" and "spot on!" so I have to write THANK YOU for all those comments but I hope you understand the deletions -CBO was hardly useable- it was all appreciated.  And to the former pro comic artists/writers now doing shelf-stacking and other jobs while trying to get work outside the UK -sorry my emails were brief but my eyes were killing me by 1800 hrs.

And for my pro comic friends who emailed privately: yes, I guess we all know just who the delusional one is on this subject.

Yes, I am also aware that the UK "comics mafia" (they must get erections (unless they are, as I suspect, suffering from erectile dysfunction) from being labelled that!) has restarted its campaign against me. I don't care.  Read that posting.

Dougie has pointed out that the long Wikipedia entry he did for me re. my UK comics work of 40 years and the entry on my Small Press work from the 1970s on, have all been deleted over the weekend as I have "made no significant contribution to" comics/small press.  I did warn him.  The thing is I know WHO is behind that and other problems since 1987.  A person who got a bad review in Zine Zone (I was not the reviewer) and he has stated this over and over.  And that is sad.

One thing I need to note, though, and this has NEVER been a secret and it has been discussed over the years on CBO.  "He apparently has a form of schizophrenia" is not correct and shows why a lot of us campaign to change attitudes toward mental health issues -a lot of people in comics suffer from depression and I've helped a few of them.  I have had, since I was 11 years old, manic depression. Bi-polar.  Whatever you want to call it.  That is NOTHING to do with schizophrenia.

I think this all shows that what I wrote was spot on. There are no counter arguments to that posting,     hence the personal attacks.

So THANK YOU again to all commenters but, please, this subject is now over.

Life is too short to get worked up over it or the delusional sewage eaters!

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5. OPERATION OVERLORD – Der Sturm auf die Normandie beginnt

I'm sure this is the Casterman series in German.  According to Comics.de

OperationOverlord

Mit „Operation Overlord“ beginnt Panini die Publikation einer Serie, die sich mit dem Tag beschäftigt, der die Wende im Zweiten Weltkrieg brachte: die alliierte Invasion in der Normandie.


Der erste Band, „Kampf um Sainte-Mére-Église“, beginnt vor dem schicksalshaften Tag, um 23.45 Uhr des 5. Juni 1944, als Fallschirmjäger hinter den feindlichen Linien abgesetzt werden.

Fur unser Deutscher freunde kannst du mehr lesen hier:

http://www.comic.de/2015/08/operation-overlord-der-sturm-auf-die-normandie-beginnt/ 

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6. Introducing Hannah Fergesen!

Hi, JJ here! I’m so excited to be introducing our newest contributor, Hannah Fergesen! Hannah is a former lit agency and small press intern and current literary assistant. And now, without further ado, the interview!

What made you interested in publishing as a career?
I have always loved books. I love writing them, I loved dissecting them, I loved researching how they’re made and how they work. Books like Harry Potter, Sabriel by Garth Nix, and The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay informed my own writing and my curiosity about books from a young age, and continue to do so. I’ve always been interested in how books speak to people, how prose can enhance or take away from plot and characters, how genre can inform how we view the world from a young age.

But for some reason I always thought of Publishing as this far-away place I could never go. I never actually thought I would find a way into that world.

How did you get your start in publishing?
My degree is in writing and directing for film and TV, and I was so sure I was going to head to LA to fight for an opportunity to write for TV. When my boyfriend got a call from a New York production company, everything changed. Suddenly, publishing didn’t seem so far away. I started scoping out agents on twitter, and when some of them starting tweeting about remote internships, I sent out some resumes and managed to snag a remote internship with a great agent. It was a start, and I was a go for New York.

Once I got here, with the help of said agent I managed to impress Adam Silvera enough to recommend me for a job at Books of Wonder, a fantastic children’s bookstore in the city. An internship at Soho Press followed that, and finally I ended up as a full-time literary assistant.

What is the most surprising thing about publishing that you’ve learned thus far?
The publishing world is very small. Much, much smaller than I ever thought possible. This is partially because so much of the industry is in Manhattan – the offices of the Big Five publishers are all just a train-ride away from one another. Literary agencies have a bit more flexibility when it comes to location, especially thanks to social media. But the industry was built on the creation of close relationships, and that still holds true today.

What are 3 of your favorite books from this past year and why?
Marie Rutkoski’s WINNER’S CURSE series. It’s beautifully written, incredibly well researched, with smoldering characters who are intelligent and terribly flawed. These are considered fantasy because they take place in a world Marie created – but there is no magic. They feel very much like a time in our own history. This is, in a way, true, because these books are based on historical empires. Also, there is angsty romance galore.

Jandy Nelson’s I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN. Beautifully written (are you sensing a pattern here?) contemporary YA told from two perspectives: a brother and sister who are both artists, at two separate times in their young adult lives. It’s an incredible portrayal of art, first love, grief, and the bond family.

V.E. Schwab’s A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC. This is not considered YA though it features protagonists who are still quite young, and since Victoria also writes YA it seemed to fit. This book is dark and scary with fantastic characters and a crazy plot that made complete sense thanks to skilled storytelling.

I also have to shout out to Adam Silvera’s MORE HAPPY THAN NOT. When I read it, I had just moved to New York and it was not yet the beautiful hardcover it is now. But I loved that it proved YA can be serious, affecting, important, daring.

If you weren’t in publishing, where would you be?
I’d be elbowing my way into writing for TV, auditioning for roles in film and/or television, or just generally trying my hand at that industry. It is, after all, what I studied. But I am a storyteller first and foremost, no matter what format I’m working in. My heart will be spinning stories until I’m being spoon-fed mushy peas and dancing with my creaky walker in assisted living. Hopefully, there’ll be other old storytellers dancing with me.

Hannah

Hannah Fergesen is formerly a lit agency and small press intern. Currently a literary assistant, writer, geek, and coffee-binger. The rest of the time: Tardis-dress-wearer and worshiper at the altar of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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7. Blog Tour: Ruthless, Michelle St. James

It’s release day for Ruthless by Michelle St. James. We’re so excited for this sexy mafia romance! Michelle is sharing an excerpt and a fantastic giveaway so be sure to check out all the festivities! 

(My Review will be up soon! So come back! Make sure you read to bottom, awesome giveaway!!!-Laura)

About Ruthless:

front_6ix9i_RGB_300dpiTwo years out of college, Angelica Bondesan spends her time working as a barista, keeping in touch with her prodigal brother, and trying to figure out how to bridge the gap with her father, a wealthy real estate developer.

But all of that changes the night she’s kidnapped. Thrown into a windowless room, Angelica is positive there’s been some kind of mistake —until she meets Nico Vitale.

Gorgeous and frightening, Nico became the boss of New York City’s Vitale crime family after the execution style murder of his parents two years earlier. Since then he’s turned the old-school mob into a sleek, modern army of ruthless men who understand that physical violence —while always an option —isn’t the only way to get what you want.

Now Angel is forced to face the truth;

Her father is not the man she believed him to be.

Nico Vitale is dangerous, possibly lethal.

She is falling in love with Nico Vitale.



Blurbs

"From page one you're hooked and sucked into this corrupt thrilling world. A masterful romance of deep dark suspense, complicated emotions, and exciting action." - New York Times bestseller, M.J. Rose

Amazon

Barnes and Noble


Exclusive Excerpt

Ruthless_FBAd_short_quote
Nico Vitale was kneeling in one of the pews at St. Monica’s, praying for his mother and father. They’d been gone two years, but the pain of losing them still lingered. He had only been twenty-eight when they’d been killed, and he’d expected to have them for many more years, to give them the daughter-in-law and grandchildren they had wanted.

Their future had been stolen. From all of them.

He forced down the fury that had become all too familiar. Anger was good. Productive. It’s what drove him to seek justice, to right the wrong perpetrated against his family, against the honor code that had survived decades under the rule of some of history’s most violent men.

But this wasn’t the place for anger. This was the place for peace. Repentance. He took a deep breath and tired to calm himself.

His mother had always gone to St. Patrick’s, but Nico made a point of moving around the city, sitting in any church with an open door. He liked the anonymity of it. Liked knowing that no one would know him or remember his parents.

His faith was only a shadow of the belief that had sustained them. Nico didn’t believe in the edicts of the Church. It had been organized by man to benefit man. He worshipped his own god, and his god didn’t turn the other cheek. He might forgive, but that forgiveness didn’t preclude a punishment justly earned. Still, he liked to sit in silence and remember, to send love to his parents, wherever they were, and to stand on the side of any god who believed in vengeance.

He was reciting the Lord’s Prayer when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He instinctively shook off the hand. When he turned to see who had interrupted him, he was even less pleased.

“What is it, Dante?”He forced his voice even as he took in the leather jacket and jeans worn by the man in front of him. A dress code was part of Nico’s organizational reboot, but keeping cool was a point of pride, part of his mission to remake his father’s business for the twenty-first century. And having a reputation for being calm only made him more formidable when the situation called for his wrath.

Dante shifted in his seat, his face flushed, eyes feverish with excitement. “We got her,”he said. “We got the girl.”

Nico looked around before tipping his head at the church’s massive double doors. “Not here.”

Dante stood, hurrying down the aisle. Nico followed slowly, letting the peace of the church wash over him as he made his way out the door.

He took his time following Dante down the steps of the church. When they reached the sidewalk, they stepped back to stand near an adjacent building.

“Any trouble?”Nico asked.

Dante shook his head. “She didn’t see it coming.”

Nico didn’t like the note of excitement in Dante’s voice. Nico’s father had ingrained old-fashioned chivalry in his bones, and Nico never sanctioned hurting women. These kinds of things were a necessary part of doing business, not something he enjoyed.

“You didn’t hurt her.”It wasn’t a question.

Dante sighed, and Nico caught a hint of annoyance in the other man’s face before he could hide it. “We did it just like you said. Knocked her out, put her in the van, took her to the basement. She’s fine.”

Nico nodded. “Good. Make sure she’s comfortable.”

“Comfortable?”Dante’s laugh was bitter. “Why do we care if that bitch is comfortable?”

Nico clamped a hand on Dante’s shoulder and squeezed until he flinched. “We don’t call women bitches in this organization. Ever. Understand?”

Dante nodded, his eyes lit with the fire of indignation.

“Good.”Nico released his grip. “Now go make the pick-up.”

“Will do.”Dante rolled his shoulders, like doing so would free him of Nico’s grip when they both knew only death or dishonor would do that. “Want a ride back to the office?”

“No.”He didn’t owe Dante an explanation.

Dante nodded and headed for the car double parked at the curb. Nico watched him get in and drive away. He waited for the car to disappear into traffic before he started walking.

Dante was a problem. Nico understood it, but he was still trying to settle on a strategy for dealing with it. He knew Dante resented him. That Dante believed his father, Gabriel Santoro, should have been Underboss to Nico’s father before his death. If that had been the case, Dante’s father would be Boss now, and Dante himself would be the crown prince of the New York territory.

Instead, a year before his death Nico’s father had inexplicably turned to Nico, pleading with him to step in as Underboss. Only twenty-seven at the time, Nico wasn’t ready to take on the mantel of responsibility held by his father. He didn’t even believe in the mob. Not the way it was then; stealing and killing and raping in the name of money. In the name of power.

But his father had been unsettled. Even Nico, as young and wrapped up in himself as he’d been at the time, could see that. And his father -- his family -- meant everything to him. So he’d gotten his act together and joined the business, learning it from the inside out. He was just beginning to feel like he had a handle on the basic operations when his parents were murdered, execution style, outside the restaurant where they’d met over three decades ago. They had been celebrating their thirty-second anniversary.

Nico had spent the two years since remaking his father’s legacy. Raneiro Donati, head of the Syndicate that acted as governing body to criminal organizations all over the world, had stepped in as a mentor and father figure, guiding Nico through the early stages of grief and the rage that threatened to undo him. Gradually, Nico had found a focus for his fury, and he’d poured every ounce of his energy into targeting that focus and reimagining his father’s legacy.

Some of Nico’s soldiers embraced the change. Others, like Dante, clung to the old ways. Nico understood, but the reorganization wasn’t optional. They would comply or they would be gone.

Nico didn’t like taking the girl. A decade ago, something like that would be off the table, a blatant breaking of rules that had been in place since before the Syndicate formally existed. But nothing could be rebuilt without first dismantling the rotting foundation of what had come before.

And unfortunately, the girl was part of that foundation.

He checked for traffic on 2nd Avenue and crossed just before a taxi barreled through the intersection. He felt liberated by his time at the church. Lighter on his feet. Maybe he would call one of the women who acted as a physical companion when he felt the urge.

After all, he wasn’t a saint.



Michelle St. James Bio:


Michelle Zink
Michelle St. James aka Michelle Zink is the author of seven published books and six novellas. Her first series, Prophecy of the Sisters (YA), was one of Booklist's Top Ten Debut novels. Her work has also been an Indie Next selection and has appeared on prestigious lists such as the Lonestar List, New York Public Library's Stuff for the Teen Age, and Chicago Public Library's Best of the Best. Her character, Alice, won the Teen Read Awards for Best Villain against Harry Potter's Lord Voldemort.



Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram | Website



Enter Michelle’s Giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


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8. “Deflategate” and the “Father of Football”

The Wells Report besmirched the reputation of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, concluding that the NFL 'golden boy' was likely aware that he was playing with under-inflated footballs in the 2015 AFL conference game against the Indianapolis Colts. If the report is to be believed, even Brady has stooped to less-than-savory methods to win a game of football. There are a range of opinions about Brady’s innocence, offered by nearly every sports commentator and former football player.

The post “Deflategate” and the “Father of Football” appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. Ideas

Hi,I would like to come up with a unique idea for a novel which no other author has used. I want to be the first to write the story and create something

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10. Books I Am Adding to the Classroom Library Part 2 : New Books in Favorite Series

Yesterday, I shared some new series I discovered this summer that I think will be a good match for 3rd graders.  Today, I wanted to share some books other series books I'll be adding to the classroom library--new titles in series that I know 3rd graders love.


I Am Lucille Ball by Brad Meltzer




Owl Diaries: Eva Sees a Ghost by Rebecca Elliott


I Will Take a Nap by Mo Willems




The Three Little Pugs by Noah Jones






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11. We FINALLY Got Deedy's Attention! (It's about time.)

Deedy (that's Dorothea Jensen to you) has been neglecting us Izzy Elves shamefully for the last few months.  She has been so involved with her Other Kind of Writing (A Buss from Lafayette, which is historical fiction for kids, whatever THAT is) that she has pretty much ignored us completely!

We pointed out to her that she has not helped us post anything on our Elfblog for almost TWO MONTHS!!

She apologized for all this and said she would do better.  We'll see.

Anyway, we read through our blog posts and realized that we have not quite posted all of the Izzy Elves in Underbits iPx. (You might recall that these are sketches by Shayne Hood for a new project she and Deedy - and Dee Dee, actually - are doing.)

So here is another Elf in Underbits:  DIZZY!





As some of you know, Dizzy specializes in toys that surprise. Recently, however, he has SUPER-specialized in electronic toys.  (He's become very savvy in this type of thing.)

Those of you who have read his story, Dizzy, the Stowaway Elf, know that because of this skill he solved a big problem for Santa, which probably helped S.C. forgive him for stowing away on his sleigh on Christmas Eve. (Although Dizzy himself admits that a boy named Stuart figured out how to make the Virtual Reins work.)


In any case, we are happy that Deedy has finally seen fit to help us out on our blog.









Thanks for checking in!


Much love,


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12. Colorful Animal Illustrations by Shanti Sparrow

Shanti_Sparrow_Marley Lola-and-Frank Shanti_Sparrow_owl Shanti_Sparrow_cat Shanti_sparrow_Coy

Shanti Sparrow Website >>

Shanti Sparrow Shop >>

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13. The EVERBLAZE paperback release giveaway!

They're here! They're here!

THE SHINY EVERBLAZE PAPERBACKS ARE HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And I know a lot of you already bought the shiny hardcovers. (if you did--THANK YOU SO MUCH! *tacklehugs*)

But I still get crazy excited when my books finally release in paperback, because they're so much more affordable, and I know for so many families (including mine, when I was a kid) that makes a HUGE difference. I've heard from so many readers who've been waiting for the paperback before they can read (it's why I try to be so vigilant about spoilers) so I'm super excited they'll finally be able to.

Plus, even if you DO own a hardcover--there's something extra special in the paperbacks you might be excited to see:


Why yes, yes that IS the first chapter of NEVERSEEN!!!! 


So I think this calls for a giveaway. After all, the hardcover readers shouldn't be the only ones who get some fun extra goodies.  So here's how this works:

If you pre-ordered the paperback version of EVERBLAZE any time before August 4, 2015--OR if you purchase a paperback copy between now and August 11, 2015--fill out the form at the bottom of this post by 11:59pm pacific time on August 11, 2015, and I will send you these:


(in case you can't tell, that's a signed bookplate and a character art print postcard--which has all four covers on the back)

In addition to that, five random winners will also get one of these exclusive Black Swan mirrors:



If you buy more than one copy of the paperback, you can definitely get more than one set of swag. Just make sure you fill out the form separately for each copy, so I know how many to send you. 

And please note, this giveaway is only available for people who buy the paperback during the designated time period. (If you've bought the hardcover or ebook, I've already done giveaways for those--sorry if you missed them!) Also: no proof of purchase is required. I like to keep my contests on the honor system, so if you say you bought it, I trust you. But remember: every time you lie, Iggy has to miss a meal, and do you really want an angry imp coming after you????

International entries also totally count. I will mail swag anywhere you live. But this is only for a very limited time, so don't miss your chance.  And don't forget to fill out the form* (you must fill out the form in order to get your swag).

And... I think that pretty much covers everything. But if I missed something, ask in the comments. Otherwise here's the form you need to fill out: (and if you can't access the form for some reason, you can find it HERE). 

Ready?

....

Go!

*You must be 13 or older in order to fill out this form. If you're not, please have your parent or guardian fill it out for you.

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14. Hollywood is Developing Pez Dispensers, The Animated Feature

The Pez feature will "touch the hearts of many," claim its producers.

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15. My tweets

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16. The Beatles, the Watts Riots, and America in transition, August 1965

Fifty years ago during their North American tour, The Beatles played to the largest audience in their career against the backdrop of a nation shattering along economic, ethnic, and political lines. Although on the surface the events of August 1965 would seem unconnected, they nevertheless illustrate how the world was changing and how music reflected that chaotic cultural evolution.

The post The Beatles, the Watts Riots, and America in transition, August 1965 appeared first on OUPblog.

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17. Outer archipelago


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18. Guest Post: A Lady’s Guide to Skirting Scandal by Kelly Bowen

Kelly Bowen dropped by this morning with a top 5 in celebration of the release of A Lady’s Guide to Skirting Scandal. 

Lady Viola’s Top 5 list of things to NOT DO while at sea by Kelly Bowen

This would have been her list at the beginning of the voyage.  By the end, however, it will be quite different!  Actually, I suspect she wouldn’t have a list at all..

1)do not fall in love with a surgeon

2)do not find yourself in dreadfully dull conversation with your chaperones anymore than required

3)do not hate your brother for banishing you to a place called New York

4)do not dwell on the fact that the duke you tried to catch had to extract you from a hedge after you tipped over a terrace at a ball

5)do not abandon hope that one day you will be a duchess

   5a) to ensure #5, do not fall in love with a surgeon

About Kelly Bowen

Kelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology.  But it was Kelly’s infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance.  When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields. Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process.  Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.

http://www.kellybowen.net/

https://twitter.com/kellybowen09

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kelly-Bowen/636626389706813


About A LADY’S GUIDE TO SKIRTING SCANDAL

Lady Viola Hextall is bored – of the sea, her chaperones, and the woeful lack of available dukes on the ocean voyage from London to New York. Scrambling for any diversion short of jumping overboard, Viola strikes up a conversation with the ship’s rough-hewn, blue-eyed surgeon – and discovers an immediate cure for what ails her…
To Nathaniel Shaw, Viola has the bearing of a lady and the spirit of an adventurer – an unlikely combination that he finds utterly irresistible. So he’s hoping to convince Viola to leave the stifling ballrooms of London high society behind because there is a big, wide world just waiting for them to explore – together.

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/a-lady-s-guide-to-skirting-scandal

http://www.amazon.com/Ladys-Guide-Skirting-Scandal-short-ebook/dp/B011J4H45Y

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-ladys-guide-to-skirting-scandal-kelly-bowen/1122292235?ean=9781455592630

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25873107-a-lady-s-guide-to-skirting-scandal

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/ladys-guide-to-skirting-scandal/id1018886759?mt=11

EXCERPT:

“To make a good duchess. No matter what you think, Mr. Shaw, I will be a duchess one day. I deserve to be a duchess one day.”

Nate made a disparaging noise. “And is this how you’ve decided to measure your value – your worth in life, Lady Viola? By whether or not you become a duchess?”

“What else is there?” She put her hands on her hips.

Nate felt his own rush of resentment, along with another pang of scathing disappointment. “This is exactly why I am leaving England,” he said.

“What? Why?” Viola looked puzzled.

“This antiquated viewpoint that some of us are better than others based not on merit or intelligence or courage, but based only on an accident of birth.”

“But—”

“Do you know how they select officers for the army, Lady Viola?”

“I’m not sure if—”

“They are selected based on their titles and their purchase of a commission.”

“Well, of course—”

“Do you know what happens when officers are given command of men not because they are qualified in the art of war, but because their names were preceded by a title?”

She was looking up at him now, startled, no doubt, by the bitterness that even he could hear in his words.

“Surgeons like me deal with the casualties resulting from inexperience and incompetence.” He leaned forward. “And it is such a shameful waste.”

“Why are you telling me this?” she demanded a little defensively.

“What happens if the duke you choose is a simpleton?” he asked her. “Or perhaps he is given to sloth, or drink, or another vice that might make him cruel. To you or to others around him. Will you disregard this to attain the title that marriage to such a man will give you?”

Viola blinked at him.

“I would have thought that a woman such as you would want a husband who would admire her. Respect her. Maybe even love her.”

“I do,” she said, a little uncertain now.

“But yet those things do not count if they don’t come with a title?”

“You can’t have everything, Mr. Shaw.”

“So that is what you would choose? Title over happiness? Title over love?” He was provoking her deliberately.

She was twisting the ribbons of her bonnet in her fingers now. “You must choose what is more important, don’t you agree, Mr. Shaw? And in my world, it isn’t a choice.”

“Then I suggest you consider leaving your world behind.”

“One cannot simply leave a titled position, Mr. Shaw.”

Perhaps it was the powerlessness Nate had felt on the battlefield, his inability to challenge or change such thinking. Perhaps it was the catch of hesitation he heard in her answer. Either way, an edgy recklessness gripped him, and he found himself closing the distance between them, catching her chin in his fingers and tipping her head up to meet his gaze.

“And what would happen, Lady Viola, if you found a man who did not have a title, but a man who would worship the ground upon which you walked?” he asked, his voice barely a whisper. “A man who would trade his life for yours without a second’s thought. A man who would give anything he owned just for the opportunity to kiss you? Would you turn away from such a man and live the rest of your life wondering how things might have been if you had chosen happiness and love?”

“I don’t know.” Her breath was coming in shallow gasps, and her color was high.

He had proven his point, he knew. He had made her uncomfortable and had dared her to think. He should step away from her now and leave her to consider his words, if she was wont to do so. But he couldn’t.

Aside from the recklessness that had clouded his judgment, there was a woman he had glimpsed within her, one who sat cross-legged and spoke of frogs and muck. A woman who he feared he might like very much, should she ever be allowed to be completely free of the woman who spoke of dukes and parties.

His hand slid from her chin to the back of her neck, his fingers caressing the silk of her hair. She was watching him now, her beautiful blue eyes wide. But not afraid. As if she was challenging him to do his worst.

So he kissed her.

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19. Liz’s Summer Reading Pick

Ready or Not, Dawdle Duckling

by Toni Buzzeo and illustrated by Margaret Spengler

            Four ducklings, Mama, and a perfect summer day playing Hide-And-Seek-what could be more perfect for a summer read! Toni Buzzeo has captured the exuberant spirit of the sheer joy of play for its own sake in this summer read for your youngest where bright blues, oranges and yellows bring beach days winningly alive. Duckling cavort forming sand castles and cementing a series of new friendships that provide perfect “hide behinds” in this duckling game of Hide-And-Seek with Mama. A turtle, frog and fish join in the fun providing camouflage as Mama quacks, “Ready or not, here I come.” The repetitive cadence of the story is sure to appeal to young readers and the pictures of the banana yellow ducks with bands of blue, red, green and orange ribbon surrounding their hats are adorable atop these orange-billed cuties. Dawdle is the duck determined to elude Mama. Will Dawdle be the duck that gets to say with unrestrained glee,

“Ollie, Ollie, in free!”

Dawdle Duckling calls.

“You didn’t find me!

           Ready Or Not, Dawdle Duckling is waiting to be discovered by you and your child as the perfect intro to the game of Hide-And-Seek and the need for friendship and cooperation.

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20. Spotlight and Giveaway: The Great Estate by Sherri Browning

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Sherri Browning’s The Great Estate.  I love the cover!

Title: The Great Estate

Author: Sherri Browning

Series: Thornbrook Park, #3

Pubdate: August 4th, 2015

ISBN: 9781402286858

Pulled apart by past mistakes. Driven by a passion neither could deny.

Sophia Thorne was young and inexperienced when she married the dashing Earl of Averford…and through dark and troubled times, their relationship nearly came to an end. Now she’s determined to transform herself into the fiery, ardent lover she always wanted to be, giving them a second chance at love… before they’re lost to each other forever.

It took nearly losing Sophia for Gabriel to realize he had allowed his love for his great estate to distract him from his beautiful wife. But that time is over. Despite all the obstacles standing in their way, Gabriel vows to teach Sophia what it is to truly love…and to be loved by a husband devoted heart and soul to her every desire.

Sherri Browning writes historical and contemporary romance fiction, sometimes with a paranormal twist. She is the author of critically acclaimed classic mash-ups Jane Slayre and Grave Expectations. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Sherri has lived in western Massachusetts and Greater Detroit Michigan, but is now settled with her family in Simsbury, Connecticut. Find her online at www.sherribrowningerwin.com.

An Excerpt:

Agatha closed the distance between them, switching on lights as she approached. Even before Sophia’s eyes could adjust to the light, she had a clear image of Agatha in her fire-orange and aubergine ensemble. Her aunt settled on the sofa beside Sophia.

“I’ve had a letter from your mother.”

It wasn’t unusual for the sisters to be in communication, but something in her aunt’s tone told Sophia that unexpected information was to follow. She straightened up a bit. “Yes? And how is everyone at Delaney Square?”

“They’re all well. Even your father.” Agatha didn’t hide her disappointment with that bit of news. She’d never gotten on with Sophia’s father. Sophia had done her best to keep them apart at Alice’s wedding to avoid any unpleasantness. “It seems that she wrote with news that concerns you. She always was such a gossip, you know.”

Sophia waved her hand dismissively. “I know. Her intricate web of tittering busybodies could rival the king’s own network of spies.”

Brow furrowed, Agatha placed a hand on Sophia’s knee. “Gabriel’s back.”

Sophia looked left and right. Agatha considered herself in communication with the spirit world and liked to read fortunes, but she probably didn’t mean her comment in the literal sense. Sophia assumed she meant that Gabriel’s essence was in the air, or some such nonsense. “Where?”

“In London, dear.”

“At Averford House?” Sophia tried to contain her surprise. She hated London. Their house in town stood empty most of the time, unless Gabriel went to London to tend to parliamentary affairs. “In London? Now?”

Agatha nodded. “Lady Levesque told your mother that he has been there this past month. A fortnight at least. I’m not certain exactly when he arrived.”

“But he’s there. And he didn’t see fit to inform me that he’d returned to England?” Her heart dropped like a lead ball to the pit of her stomach. She rose and began to pace, no longer bothering to hide her distress at the news. “Not a word to me. Not a word to Mr. Kenner? Or do you think he knows? Kenner knows. And who else? Have they been instructed not to tell me? Or do they pity me too much to say a word?”

Agatha stood and came to her side. “Don’t become agitated. I don’t think anyone knows. Of course, the people in London know. Or so it seems. He has been carrying on as usual.”

“As usual?” Sophia cocked a brow. Only now did it occur to her to ask what her husband did in London when she did not go with him. “Carrying on?”

Dread cold as ice snaked up her spine.

Agatha shrugged. “Attending dinners. Musicales. Perhaps the theater? He’s a respected man, an earl. There are always invitations and the responsibility for a man to attend such things.”

“Of course.” Sophia gripped the back of a Chippendale chair. “Responsibilities. He must have come back for a vote. Parliament. How long could he stay away, after all? A man in his position.”

Buy Links:

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Indiebound: http://bit.ly/1gmvOeQ

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21. Penelope Perfect - a bookwrap










Unwrapping some perfect quotes...













Unwrapping today today's book...








Authored by Shannon Anderson and illustrated by Katie Kath

Ages 5-9





Unwrapping some illustrations for you to peek at...




























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22. Review and Giveaway: The Veil by Chloe Neill

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I wanted to read The Veil because it’s the first in a new series, and it’s written by Chloe Neill.  I haven’t had the pleasure of reading her yet, because the thought of jumping into her longer series is daunting, but then this came along.  I loved the dystopian New Orleans setting, and was curious to learn how the war with supernatural beings from beyond the Veil had changed life for the city’s inhabitants.  While I found the initial pacing slow due to all of the set up, the story did pick up and deliver a solid read.

Claire runs a shop in New Orleans, helping to provide the remaining inhabitants with both essential and luxury (things like butter) items.  Since the war with the paranormal inhabitants beyond the Veil seven years ago, life can be challenging in the city.  Electricity is unreliable, once common goods are almost impossible to get, and there’s a fear that the magic that ripped the city apart could cause further havoc.  To ensure that it doesn’t, anything remotely considered magical has been banned by the government, and punishment for breaking the law can be brutal.  Getting thrown into the Devil’s Isle, a walled off section of the city where anyone suspected of magic, as well as the stranded fae from beyond the Veil, is the usual punishment, and life there is very bleak.

Claire has a terrible secret.  She’s a Sensitive.  She has powers because her body absorbs the magic leaking from beyond the Veil.  She’s terrified of being found out and getting locked away in Devil’s Isle, so she goes to extreme lengths to keep her secret a secret.  When a woman is attacked by a wraith in front of her, though, Claire has to act.  Using her powers, she saves the woman, and then frets about the authorities coming to take her away.  To monitor illegal magic use, the entire city is wired with recording devices and alarms to alert the citizens to rogue paranormals. 

Luckily for Claire, Liam gets to her first.  He’s a bounty hunter, and he tracks down wraiths – Sensitives who have been consumed by magic, and now mindlessly prey on humans.  He’s gruff and tough, but he wants to give Claire a fighting chance, so he offers to show her how to use her powers and how to keep them concealed.  Claire also wants to help Liam track down the wraiths she encountered, because there was something off about them.  It seemed to her that they were communicating with each other, which means that they are getting smarter, something that is frightening to contemplate.

As they work together, they uncover a plot to reopen the Veil.  Now they are racing against time to prevent another war from breaking out between the humans and the fae.  To make their task even more daunting, they discover that there are humans trying to open the Veil, which will bring nothing but disaster to what’s left of New Orleans.

As I mentioned previously, the pacing until about the 50% point was a struggle for me.  It also felt like there was too much telling and not enough showing at first, but after the groundwork was established, that wasn’t a problem anymore.  I enjoyed the bleak city Claire lives in, where life is tough, but people have learned to get along despite that.  Claire’s friendships gives her a sturdy support system, and she and her circle of friends have learned to take the good with the bad.  When things are bad, well, things will get better sooner or later.  And when they’re good, what better excuse to get together to enjoy a good meal and bask in the glow of not being alone.

While The Veil wasn’t a total win for me, I am looking forward to seeing what happens next.  Now that all of the set up is done, I think the pacing will improve, and I’m curious to see where Liam and Claire’s relationship is going.

Grade:  B-

Review copy purchased provided by publisher

A brand new series from New York Times bestselling author Chloe Neill.

Seven years ago, the Veil that separates humanity from what lies beyond was torn apart, and New Orleans was engulfed in a supernatural war. Now, those with paranormal powers have been confined in a walled community that humans call the District. Those who live there call it Devil’s Isle.

Claire Connolly is a good girl with a dangerous secret: she’s a Sensitive, a human endowed with magic that seeped through the Veil. Claire knows that revealing her skills would mean being confined to Devil’s Isle. Unfortunately, hiding her power has left her untrained and unfocused.

Liam Quinn knows from experience that magic makes monsters of the weak, and he has no time for a Sensitive with no control of her own strength. But when he sees Claire using her powers to save a human under attack—in full view of the French Quarter—Liam decides to bring her to Devil’s Isle and the teacher she needs, even though getting her out of his way isn’t the same as keeping her out of his head.

As more and more Sensitives fall prey to their magic, and unleash their hunger on the city, Claire and Liam must work together to save New Orleans, or else the city will burn…

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23. Query Critique: Cozy Mystery

I agree that the material in this email can be posted and critiqued on the Bookends Literary Agency blog. I give permission for it to be archived for the life of the blog.

Dear Query Queen,

Wildlife carer Madison Starr is in trouble. She’s back in Australia after her father’s death with one goal: to sell the family home and leave forever. But thanks to her big mouth her plan is in tatters. When Jaylee Olsen, the local realtor, offers to buy the perfectly situated property herself.  Madison lets an old grudge speak for her and refuses to sell to her childhood nemesis. Their confrontation is watched by most of the small town. Hours later Madison is horrified to find Jaylee dead on her doorstep.

I did not like the word "carer" this is super picky and a little ridiculous (no query is judged on one word), but I had to read it twice since I thought you misspelled career. Caretaker?
My only suggestion is maybe to tighten this a bit.  

Branded the number one suspect Madison is forced to surrender her passport, killing any chance of heading back to her carefully constructed life in America. She has no option but to hunt down the killer and clear her name. Her best friend from high school, along with her old teen crush, now a forensic expert, reluctantly help her delve into Jaylee’s life.

Collecting a kleptomaniac dog, assorted puppies and an orphaned ring-tailed possum along the way, Madison and her friends discover she’s not the only one who considered Jaylee their nemesis.

DEAD IS FUR-EVER is a 72,000 word, third-person cozy set in Australia. I hope to feature Madison Starr in a continuing series (The Pet Shop Mysteries - featuring a mix of Aussie wildlife and rescued domestic animals, each with their own quirky personality) and am currently working on a sequel.

I’m an environmental scientist and have lectured in wildlife caring as well as being a carer myself. I am a member and active participant of Romance Writers of Australia and Sisters in Crime Australia. This series has interest and a request from an editor of Penguin Australia but is not yet submitted.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Regards
[Redacted]

Honestly. I think this is a really solid query. My only concern is that your hook, which is vital to cozy mysteries, is buried at the end and doesn't appear in the blurb at all. 

In cozy mysteries, the hook is what initially sells the book. What makes your book stand out from every other book on the market? What will the publisher put on the cover? A gorgeous home with books out front? A lighthouse? A knitting shop? etc. 

For the cozy market I think this would be stronger if the reason she needed to return to Australia had to do more with the hook. Perhaps she's selling her father's shop of some sort. 

I love that it's set in Australia, but it might make it a more difficult sell, especially if your hook is more or less anywhere. What about a hook that's more unique to Australia? 

Lastly, on a beyond-the-query note, I think you should consider a hook that stands out a little more. A pet shop has been done. Is there something that hasn't been done yet? 

This is great overall.

--jhf

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24. Children's Book Review - The Veterans' Clubhouse by Kristen Zajac


Author: Kristen Zajac
Illustrator: Jennifer Thomas Houdeshell
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
Published: June 2015
Pages: 26

Veterans are often the forgotten people of the war on US soil of homelessness. Through the tightknit family of siblings, Patrick and Hailey, their parents and grandfather, G-man, they unexpectedly meet a homeless Vietnam Veteran, Charlie after church services. Inspired by their love of community and helping others, Patrick and Hailey devise a plan to help veterans throughout their community with a fundraiser, featuring the musical talents of Patrick, his father and G-man along with the artistic drawings of Hailey. What results, will astound even the biggest skeptic.

With love and determination a heartwarming story unfolds wonderfully through the skilled story-telling talents of author, Kristen Zajac. Bringing forth the power of prayer and coming together as one for the better good the reader will feel empowered to organize an event to enrich their community.

Illustrator, Jennifer Thomas Houdeshell outstanding talents of creating illustrations that are true to life, makes the reader feel like they can leap right into the scene.

<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]-->
Through the combination of the talents of both author and illustrator they have created and brought to life a one of a kind children’s book to inspire community service. Well done!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with

A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2015 Purple Dragonfly Book Award Historical Fiction 1st Place, Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2015 Purple Dragonfly Book Award Honorable Mention Picture Books 6+, New England Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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25. Celebrating 50 years of the Voting Rights Act

On 6 August 2015, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) will be turning 50 years old. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson approved this groundbreaking legislation to eliminate discriminatory barriers to voting. The Civil Rights Movement played a notable role in pushing the VRA to become law. In honor of the law's birthday, Oxford University Press has put together a quiz to test how much you know about its background, including a major factor in its success, Section 5.

The post Celebrating 50 years of the Voting Rights Act appeared first on OUPblog.

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