Friday, December 30, 2011

❤publisher: Nicole Langan Interview and Giveaway!

❤ I'm excited to host a new type of interview! Typically I interview authors, but today, for the first time, I want to introduce to you guys, Nicole Langan, owner of the independent publishing company, Tribute Books. The company will be undergoing a few changes this upcoming new year, so I thought I'd end 2011 by interviewing her at !Miraculous! :) There's a giveaway for the winner's choice of a print or ebook title from Tribute, so stick around! Please help me welcome Nicole to the blog.

❤ Hello Nicole! Tell us a bit about Tribute Books's newest endeavors.

In 2012, Tribute Books will transition into being an ebook publisher for young adult titles.

Manuscripts that have already been professionally edited will receive greater consideration. Our preference is to work with authors who have already been published through a royalty-paying press and who know the ins and outs of book promotion. An established social media platform is a must, and we will not consider writers who do not have a well-followed blog, Facebook page, or Twitter account.

Our preference is for damn good writing, the particular topic is secondary in importance. However, books written with a series in mind or those that delve into the paranormal will have a slight edge.

Interested authors can submit their manuscripts via email to info@tribute-books.com. There will be no charge for the authors we select to work with, and they will receive 50% of the net profits of their ebook sales in quarterly royalty payments. We're looking for Microsoft Word documents with a maximum of 350 pages of text with no photos, charts, illustrations, graphs, etc.


❤ How did these innovations come about?

Our main reason is the explosion in popularity of e-readers such as the Kindle, Nook and iPad. Over the course of 2011, we've watched our ebook sales outpace our print sales by 2 to 1. The under $5 price point of most of our titles and the ease of purchase and delivery are surely contributing factors.

On a business level, the young adult genre sells especially if it is well-written and has a paranormal romance theme. On a marketing level, the devotion of the young adult fan base is unparalleled. On a personal level, I thoroughly enjoy a good young adult novel and review many on my blog at http://tributebooksreviews.blogspot.com.


❤ How is Tribute different from other independent publishers?

I'm a believer in doing what you love and working with like-minded people, when it's at all possible. I'm most excited about working with authors who enjoy promoting their book on a daily basis. Ones who know the ins and outs of the time and effort it takes to make a book a success because I'm ready and willing to work with them every step of the way.

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

In my opinion, social networking is the bread and butter of any author's promotional efforts. Without it, it's like trying to paddle upstream without a canoe. Readers want to connect with the person who wrote the book. They crave interaction with an author. Nothing beats getting a writer to comment on a blogger's book review post or getting a personalized thank you tweet from your favorite author. The days of authors being isolated from their fans is over. They're now able to build an online following and receive instant feedback for their work. They have the opportunity to take part in creating their own literary community.


❤ What is the best way your audience/readers can help out during this change?

My hope is that we are able to recruit some talented writers of well-written, well-crafted stories in order to develop an eager fan base for the titles we publish. We want readers to be excited about the ebooks we produce. Young adult authors have the most devoted fan followings out there, and we'd like to introduce that audience to a whole new host of talent.

❤ Where can Tribute Books be found on the web?

We try to keep an active online presence with our website, Facebook, Twitter, and blog. We'd love to have anyone who loves young adult literature to join us for the ride.

❤ Thanks so much for your time at ¡Miraculous!, Nicole. This interview definitely gave me some perspective on the ebook industry and independent publishing as a whole. It was fun too!

Giveaway!
Nicole has been lovely in offering one lucky reader ANY book of choice from Tribute's bookstore! While the majority of them are ebooks (including their first Young Adult novel, The Priest and the Peaches), you non-comformist print junkies (aka people like me *wink*) still get an awesome selection out of their print titles too:
These six books are all available in ebook format too of course!
To enter this fabulous giveaway, leave a question or comment for Nicole. Yup, that's it! :)

Giveaway runs through January 13th, 2012 at 11.59 pm (your time). International readers may enter for their choice of ebook, but to enter the print book giveaway, you must have a US mailing address under the prize provider's request.
Please include your email address in your comment! If I don't know who to contact once you are chosen as the winner, your prize will be forfeited.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

have yourself a merry little christmas ❤

I can't believe another Christmas has gone by.
Apologies have no place during this season, but I really do need to say sorry to all my lovers for not posting as often as I should.
To those who have stuck with me through the earnest blogging months: from the bottom of my heart, thank you. You guys are one of the biggest reasons my blogs exist.
To those who have gotten bored with my weeks of absence: fuck you.
Actually, in all this spirit, happy holidays. 
2012, here we come.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: Demi and the Dolphins: A Lesson in Ecology by Alyssa K. Harrell

Release Date: August 29th, 2011
Publisher: iUniverse (self-published)
Page Count: 98
Source: Complimentary copy provided by Bohlsen PR in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)

Captain Demi is young, smart, and beautiful, but she is also stubborn and selfish. She comes from four generations of tuna fishermen. She is the youngest captain and the only female to have taken over the family business.

New laws governing tuna fishing with nets is making business difficult for her. Her family has been net fishing for generations, why should things have to change now? Demi doesn't care if net fishing drowns dolphins; they are not how she makes her living.

Demi and her crew are anxious to finish their run and head home. They need a big catch and the quickest way to do that is with the illegal nets. Convinced it is okay to do as long as no one is around to catch her, Demi prepares to drop the nets on a school of tuna. She knows some dolphin will get caught as well and drown, but all she cares about is making money.

Demi is unaware that one of her crew is also a spy for the police, and he is watching her every move in order to catch her in the act of using illegal nets. An accident occurs that puts Demi's life in peril. What happens next is magical, and becomes life changing for her.
What Stephanie Thinks: My first impression of this book was that it was going to be lame. I'm not gonna lie. The cover is obviously hand-drawn, resembling a ten-year-old's masterpiece, and the blurb makes Demi seem like the idealistic girl ("young, smart, and beautiful"!) in an idealistic problem (harming dolphins, oh no!!!!). While the drawings are pretty giggle-worthy (at best....) and the summary rather weak, I was completely wrong about Demi and the Dolphins. It teaches young kids a valuable lesson in a fantasy story involving child-approved characters and situations. How do I know they're child-approved? Well, because they were written by a child itself!

The fact that Alyssa wrote this at age 10 impresses me greatly. Obviously, this has been grammatically revised, but just the ideas spanning from the pages, as well as the intent to teach society a lesson about ecology, are sophisticated. This presented maturity is what maintains any bit of poise in this middle grade novel; it's what makes it enjoyable.

As for what wasn't so enjoyable, well... take a look:

Actually, this picture is sort of enjoyable LOL.

Here's a clear winner:
I hate when I can't tell if a girl's hair is made out of tuna or not, and when her arms look like a man's -_-

All right, I'll put my crap together. I don't mean to mimic. Because aside from the often-absurd illustrations, Demi and the Dolphins is actually a well-rendered message directed towards a thoughtless society that is so self-serving as to allow its own needs come before Earth's. I think middle grade learners will find this one effective; I also trust parents and teachers will appreciate the "kid style" of it as well.

Stephanie Loves: "When the police first approached [Mikey] earlier in the year to help with the sting operation, he thought they were talking about operating on a stingray!"

Radical Rating: 8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

every time the rules change, you don't know how they change you

OK I'm actually in a really aggressive mood right now. My emotions lie somewhere in between exasperated and irritated as fuck, so bear with me. If this is interesting enough for you, keep reading, but don't judge. If it's too long for you, go fuck yourself.

I didn't move to Korean expecting to be romantically involved with anyone because I knew guys here would be different. I'm the type of girl who goes for the All-American boy (whether it be the sweet boy next door, to the badass dickface I hate falling for), and I knew in advance that type would be hard to find here. Korean boys, even the ones at this "international" school (where I'd say about 90% of the alumni are ethnically Korean), are definitely not like American guys in any which way. Not only the way they dress (cardigans, skinny jeans, loafers, anyone? Oh and don't get me started with the ear piercings), but also in personality (they are SUCH babies). But before I rant too much, I do want to put it out there that what I didn't expect was for them to actually be interested in me. Of course, I was open-minded (I've never dated an Asian guy but it's not like it's because I don't like them. That would be incredibly hypocritical/racist/absurd) to the notion of getting involved, but I didn't know it'd be this hard.

See, here in Korea, boys play hard to get. They do it consciously, and they do it to mess around with girls' heads on purpose. They act interested, then they fall off like leeches. One moment they're trying to convince you to go out with them, the next, they're hurt that you would even consider rejecting them and stop talking to you all together. I'm sorry... do guys have periods on this side of the world? Seriously. What. The. Fuck.

These are the kind of games GIRLS are supposed to play, not guys! Not in American standards anyway. Maybe my expectation of boys has become so high after growing up in the States (not that they were all that great even there), but isn't it common knowledge that boys do the chasing? Relationships are never easy, but now that I, for the first time, find myself constantly staring at my phone for a text message reply or staying on Skype til one in the morning in hopes that he'll come online so I can see his face that late in the night, I know why people come up with really depressing quotes and love songs and all that gooey shit.

I wasn't a bombshell in the States or anything, but guys definitely always came up to me when they were interested... and they stayed if the attraction was genuine. In some way, I even think I'm more "popular" at this school -- not in the conceited sense, but in that I'm well-known as not only the new girl in town, but also as the Twinkie as they maliciously call it. I know it's a derogatory term, but having never been referred to it before I moved to Korea, I'm not really going to let it get to me. It just means I'm Asian in physique but Western in ethics (yellow on the outside, white on the inside!) -- and it was definitely coined by some conformist Asian motherfucker who didn't fit into society after immigrating to the US. I don't want to sound condescending, but people are telling me that the more Korean kids are jealous of what I have -- the ability to speak fluently and live comfortably in a country everyone wants to speak fluently and live comfortably in -- so I'm not going to let their name-calling bother me. I'm sure if American kids were as blunt, egotistical, and publicly critical as they are, they would give them a whole lot of more shit than they could ever give to a 외국인 (Korean for "foreigner" as I'm called!) here. So I'll bite my tongue for now.

What I don't think I can hold in for too long, though, is the fact that my Twinkieness may be the reason guys are being so fickle around me. It's obvious they're interested (again, she said so humbly, but requests for phone numbers, comments/likes on all my Facebook pictures/statuses, and just plain being asked out, lol, gives me that impression. I'm not just fooling myself this time) but don't know how to keep a conversation alive. And they think that they can't keep my attention either. But the irony is that I am SO easy to please! I'm also very hard to anger, but more than a few times, boys here have pissed me off. I'm normally the chill one in the relationship (maybe not as chill as the guy... but he's always had to take part of the responsibility because I'd refuse to take it :p) but that's slowly changing. Huh. Maybe this gender reversal thing will give me a new perspective on relationships, which could potentially be a good thing. But for now, I hate it. I just want guys to approach me first again.

I'm compiling a bunch of random cheesy quotes because that's what I've been doing instead of studying for finals right now. Not all of it reflects my current mood, but it's definitely the kind of shit I find myself writing when I'm upset.

My love's labor:

Maybe one day you'll actually care about me.

When you love someone, you give them the unadulterated power to hurt you.

Truth is, I don't love you anymore. But it takes more than even you to destroy a girl like me.

I've accepted the fact that we can't be, but I've also accepted that you're going to be that one person I carry with me for the rest of my life, the one whose presence and thought is always going to make my heart jump a little and my stomach tie up in knots no matter how happy I am otherwise, and no matter how long its been.

We're all wandering straight along a crooked road.

Yeah, well, my heart wants to hurt you back, but I, for one, am not so self-serving as to let it.

Maybe if I wasn't so good at pretending to be happy, I might learn to actually be happy.


And these are a few I found and fell in love with:

Same old story that everybody knows: it's one heart holding on, one heart letting go.
-- Garth Brooks song

Just because her eyes don't tear doesn't mean her heart doesn't cry. And just because she comes off strong, doesn't mean there's nothing wrong.
-- Unknown

Separate's always better when there's feelings involved.
-- OutKast song

To be with a man who hasn't tried every line, who hasn't broken up with a woman every which way you can break up with them, is kind of nice.
-- Uma Thurman

Trust is a fragile thing. Once earned, it affords us tremendous freedom. But once trust is lost, it can be impossible to recover. Of course the truth is, we never know who we can trust. Those we're closest to can betray us, and total strangers can come to our rescue. In the end, most people decide to trust only themselves. It really is the simplest way to keep from getting burned.
-- Desperate Housewives
I would rather be hit than ignored. I know how bad that sounds. I needed to tell you. 
-- PostSecret revelation

Sunday, December 11, 2011

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: G Is for Games edited by Alison Tyler

G Is for Games (Erotic Alphabet #7)
Alison Tyler et al.

Release Date: July 28th, 2007
Publisher: Cleis
Page Count: 137
Source: Complimentary copy provided by Naked Reader Book Club in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)
Feeling lucky?

Games of skill and games of chance are rife with sexual possibilities. The clever feint that lets your opponent think he's got the upper hand, the thrill of risking everything on a sudden, bold gambit, the visceral charge of raking in a pile of chips, and then, of course, there's something to be said for cheating...

From party games to devilish gambles, here are stories to get you in the mood to play.
There's a particular excitement in taking a gamble, a certain thrill in knowing that your every move will influence the unknown outcome of a game. Tyler's anthology in the Erotic Alphabet series maybe be petite and pocket-sized, but it definitely packs a powerful punch into its pages so small.

There's nothing unsophisticated about each of these short stories. They're shameless, yes, but they're also polished and provocative. The quality of the writing is wonderful, which I really appreciate (because typo-less erotica so hard to come across!), but that's what I've gotten used to with most Cleis Press and Alison Tyler books. The authors themselves are prolific; some of my favorite are included, including Cheyenne Blue and Rachel Kramer Bussel.

The stories each are different, in that they feature different thrilling situations or different seductive games. It's never just a round of strip poker or Spin the Bottle in G Is for Games; it's everything from Twister (think about it... just THINK about it!) to mind games to sports (both spectator and athletic) to oh yeah, a very complicated, yet very delicious round of Seven Minutes in Heaven ;) You won't get bored with the variety in this collection of naughty mishaps... mishaps that end up being sinfully, sinfully good.

I have to say this is a new favorite on my erotica shelf because of how tempting it is in its simplest form. There's nothing over-the-top about this book, nothing unnecessary, so it's elegant in the most extraordinary way. I could get used to this kind of thing, the poshness and the cream. I definitely am going to look into the other letters in this hot alphabet.


Stephanie Loves: "Now she lifted her powder-blue skirt, eased it over the tops of her thigh-highs, and wondered just whose game this was. His gaze flickered to her legs. Locked there. His hand tightened around his wineglass. Heady stuff to keep a man's eyes on you like that. To keep his eyes there—the top man at the top agency in the country. Her breathing quickened. She liked the rush of this. She liked these wicked rules."

Radical Rating: 9 hearts: Loved it! This book has a spot on my favorites shelf. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Monday, November 28, 2011

♥♥♥♥♥♥: Alison Wonderland by Helen Smith

Release Date: August 16th, 2011
Publisher: AmazonEncore
Page Count: 189
Source: Complimentary ARC provided by Little Bird Publicity in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)

"I need some information. Can you help me get it?"

"OK." I'm opening my post but I have a pen and pad ready.

"I need some statistics about which part of the country babies are abandoned most often, what time of year, and where to find them—outside hospitals or police stations or under hedges or in phone boxes."

"Oh, OK. Yes, of course." I move the phone receiver into my left hand and hold it against my left ear so that I can make some notes. Mad cow, I write.


After Alison Temple discovers that her husband is cheating on her, she does what any jilted woman would do: She spray-paints a nasty message for him on her wedding dress and takes a job with the detective firm that found him out. Being a researcher at the all-female Fitzgerald's Bureau of Investigation in London is certainly a change of pace from her previous life, especially considering the characters Alison meets in the line of duty. There's her boss, the estimable Mrs. Fitzgerald; Taron, Alison's eccentric best friend, who claims her mother is a witch; Jeff, her love-struck, poetry-writing neighbor; and—last but not least!—her psychic postman. Together, their idiosyncrasies and their demands on Alison threaten to drive her mad... if she didn't need and love them all so much. Clever, quirky, and infused with just a hint of magic, Alison Wonderland is a literary novel about a memorable heroine coping with the everyday complexities of modern life.
What Stephanie Thinks: I will say that Helen Smith, like all British literary novelists do, has a certain restless charm in her writing. For once though, I didn't totally fall in love with the story behind it.

Alison Wonderland's premise doesn't even sound terribly exciting; from the blurb, I hardly gain an understanding of what exactly, the plot and main point of the book are. After reading it, I still haven't gained a sense of them. Such a shame, because it's a completely readable novel. The prose is paradoxically both smooth in tone and choppy in structure. It sounds weird, but it fits well. Alison's insights are attentive, and her friends lively and distinguished. But the storyline is so erratic: random crimes occur and fantastical creatures appear, which I cannot relate to the book at all—and it overall makes for a confusing and tiresome read.

To sum this book up, I would say it's a bit of Sherlock Holmes meets Bridget Jones (obviously with a dash of Lewis Carroll as well!)... except a little less hilarious and a lot less sexy. However, in my opinion, the cleverness and conscience Smith discloses through her writing parallel with those of Doyle and Fielding, so it isn't all that bad of a read.


Stephanie Loves: "I stare out at the sea, trying to make out the horizon. I cannot see where the sea ends and the sky begins. The stars are very bright, a shower of electric lights. When I look back at the sea I can see the stars reflected in the water. I didn't notice them before; I only saw the blackness. I can't see where the sky ends and the sea begins."

Radical Rating: 6 hearts: Satisfying for a first read, but I'm not going back. ♥♥♥♥♥♥

Saturday, November 26, 2011

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins

Release Date: November 1st, 2011
Publisher: HQN (Harlequin)
Page Count: 378
Source: Complimentary copy provided by Little Bird Publicity in exchange for an honest an unbiased review (thank you!!!)

She's having serious prom-night déjà vu...

Posey Osterhagen can't complain. She owns a successful architectural salvaging company, she's surrounded by her lovable, if off-center, family and she has a boyfriend—sort of. Still, something's missing. Something tall, brooding and criminally good-looking... something like Liam Murphy.

When Posey was sixteen, the bad boy of Bellsford, New Hampshire, broke her heart. But now he's back, sending Posey's traitorous schoolgirl heart into overdrive once again. She should be giving him a wide berth, but it seems fate has other ideas...
What Stephanie Thinks: The heartbreak of high school romances—the imes in our lives we all consider HUGE deals when we're actually involved in them, but actually look back upon ten years later and laugh at—is wistfully and emotionally conveyed through Higgins's latest. She's back with everything we love about her: the nostalgia, the sentiment, the kickass heroines, and sexyass heros of her usual novels, but this time around, she incorporates the importance of parents—whether birth parents or not—and the timelessness of childhood in Until There Was You.

Posey is a well-developed, likable character; her clumsiness and quick wit are sure to grow on readers because even as a prime dork, she is so relatable. Even though I hated her at times . . . . . . (I mean, the girl can EAT but doesn't ever gain weight!), she is probably my favorite character in the whole book. Actually, scratch that. If possible, I like Liam even better. He's one of those male protagonists (that, I am getting used to in Higgins's books) I can't help but fall in love with. He's a bad-boy gone sexy single dad. Le swoon.

Higgins blends together a perfect concoction of romance, humor, and childhood longing in Until There Was You. From the glory days of childhood sweethearts to the "high school was probably the worst era of my life" reminder, this contemporary romance that flits upon Posey's socially traumatic high school experiences, connecting them to her present dilemma, will charm and engage you. While it isn't one of those lingering, addicting reads, it's definitely a fun contemporary with a heartfelt twist, and is one you enjoy through every page.

Stephanie Loves: "He glanced in her basket. Tapioca pudding, at least four pints of Ben & Jerry's, whipped cream, a block of Cabot's cheddar, a Pepperidge Farm coconut cake, two frozen pizzas with cheese-stuffed crust, and a carton of Egg Beaters. 'Watching our cholesterol?'
Her eyes narrowed. 'The Egg Beaters are for my dog.'"

Radical Rating: 8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Saturday, October 15, 2011

♥♥♥♥♥♥: 7 Scorpions: Rebellion by Mike Saxton

Rebellion (7 Scorpions #1)
Mike Saxton

Release Date: May 13th, 2010
Page Count: 443
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author, via Strategic Marketing Groupin exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you both!)

The world was turned upside down by the swift and brutal attack of a dictator known only as Zodiac. Planting flash bombs in every major city across the world, he detonated them simultaneously, sending the survivors into chaos and anarchy.

In the wake of the destruction, Zodiac unleashed the dreaded Seekers, a group with the ability to radiate an aura of intense fear, which would complete the enslavement and extermination of humanity.

A former vigilante, turned government super soldier experiment, emerges from his self-imposed exile to challenge the new status quo. Can Vincent Black, with his makeshift team of unlikely allies, overcome the demons of his past to help preserve the future of humanity?
What Stephanie Thinks: Saxton has a completely original and well-planned story going on in his first installment of the 7 Scorpions series. The characters are engaging, amiable, and while not 100% realistic, do together, create the perfect cast of "action film" stars we love to read about.

In a time of the world's despair, one man, one villain, attempts to take over and recreate society, and the protagonist, super-human Vincent Black—an example of what results when the government messes with things it shouldn't mess with—seems to be the only key in stopping him. A myriad of futuristic technologies, fantastical creatures, and gruesome, nearly video-gamesque violence is captured between the pages of this dystopian novel.

While I think the story itself is a keeper, I can't say the same thing about the writing style. It doesn't flow properly, and it's very mediocre and repetitive. It's something I would expect from someone who is not a writer by trade, but still has the perseverance to carry on such an imaginative narrative. While not overly lush (I consider it the exact opposite, actually—it's quite acute), Saxton's technique still unnecessarily detailed; for example, characters' clothing choices are always elaborated upon, there is always a dialogue tag, the same punchlines are used over and over again, et cetera.

There are definitely some moments I winced while reading just because of the awkward or overrated wording, but if you're in for an adventurous, action-packed read, definitely consider Rebellion to keep you intrigued.


Stephanie Loves: "Lexi gave Josh a little poke in the ribs. 'C'mon Josh, where's your sense of adventure?
'I left it in my other pants,' he replied sarcastically.
"
 — see what I mean by unnecessary?? This line would have been grand, had "he replied sarcastically" been left out. We KNOW the phrase was a sardonic attempt at humor. We don't need a narration to elaborate upon it.

Radical Rating: 6 hearts: Satisfying for a first read, but I'm not going back. ♥♥♥♥♥♥

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Marie Treanor Cover Lovin'!

As part of the fabulous tour group, Bewitching Book Tours, I'll be hosting Marie Treanor's newest paranormal release, Blood Eternal, as well as a couple of her previous titles, at the blog today.

Blood Eternal is the third installment in the Awakened by Blood series, a passionate and intense vampire romance thrill. Originally, I had planned on reviewing this one for today's post, but because of a little mix-up, I don't have my review copy yet! Yikesies. So I promise I'll have the review as soon as I read the book. But for now, enjoy Marie's gorgeous book covers :)

Blood on Silk, the first book in the series. This cover is HOT -- my favorite out of all her covers, to be honest. The dress is sinfully red and totally provocative, and the background and font are just spooky enough to be thrillingly... paranormal.

Blood Sin, book numero dos. While the dresses are pretty much the same in the above two covers, I don't like this one as much. I just think the girl's position is awkward, and looking at the cover doesn't really give me the chills the first one does.

Last but not least, today's main course!!! I present you the cover of Blood Eternal, which came out just yesterday (hot off the press!). I love it. The two cover models have this perfect, almost taboo, chemistry that steams up the pages.
A bit about the author: Marie Treanor lives in Scotland with her eccentric husband and three much-too-smart children. Having grown bored with city life, she resides these days in a picturesque village by the sea where she is lucky enough to enjoy herself avoiding housework and writing sensual stories of paranormal romance and fantasy.

You can find out more about Marie and her books at her website or on Facebook.

Monday, September 26, 2011

❤author: UL Harper Interview and Giveaway!

❤ Today, as part of a Pump Up Your Book virtual blog tour, I will be hosting sci-fi author, UL Harper with an interview and giveaway. Welcome to ¡Miraculous!, UL! Will you please share a short bio with us?

U.L. Harper is an after-school program Site Director in Long Beach, California. Over one hundred students attend his program.

He previously worked as a corporate manager, and a journalist for a now defunct news agency in Los Alamitos, California. Newspapers are part of his writing background but he also dabbled in poetry. His poetry is published in The Body Politic chapbooks.

He is the author of In Blackness, The Flesh Statue, and the short story called Guidelines for Rejects.


❤ Tell us about your newest release, In Blackness.

As children, Lenny and Saline’s parents brought them to Southern California to escape the nightmares. But after their parents die in a horrible car accident, their adoption by longtime family friend, Busek, proves nightmarish in its own right. Busek is abusive to his son, Dustin, and does very little to hold the young family together. The trio of kids become friends and grow up as a family. Outwardly, they are unruffled by life’s events, yet as teens the emotional aftermath of Saline and Lenny’s parents’ deaths lingers and eventually catapults Lenny and Saline on individual journeys back to their old hometown.

Saline journeys with a small church group which has regular excursions to her old hometown in Lowery, Washington. She discovers the group is protecting a powerful secret that will change her life.

Lenny, on the other hand, becomes stranded in King City. There, he meets someone who unexpectedly and unknowingly guides him to a place in Washington where something might be waiting for him. Impulsively, he makes his way there and discovers that the simple world he has been living in is vastly different from what he could have ever imagined.

Meanwhile, Dustin remains in Southern California and meets a group of youth who stumble upon the city's plan to replace the local library with a jail. In the process of this discovery they learn of one of the largest secrets society has ever kept, a secret waiting for them underground, in blackness.

❤ What inspired you to write it and then how did you get published? Tell us your call story.

First off, this book has been in the works for a while. Inspired to write it is not how I look at it. It was a work ethic. It had to be done. These characters had to be written. I’m sure there was a succinct inspiration at some point but that has long left. It wound up being duty to myself and the characters involved. They had a story and I had a word processor, so everything worked out. That fact that it can be purchased is only a miracle. And that’s it.

❤ How much of your actual life would you say gets written into your fictional stories?

I add in all of my real life. In fact, there is barely any fiction. Aliens appear in this story, so obviously that didn’t happen in my real life, but the places the characters visit, the people they meet, the food they eat, what the characters smell and think and even become, is pulled directly out of the real world. I often get frustrated by stories that start off by saying it was based on a true story. Well, what story isn’t?

True point! What are your biggest motivations for writing?

I need to write. Once the story is there, I have to get it done. I still use writing to expel emotions so it’s a meditation tool as well. How’s that for motivation? I’m cranky if I don’t write.

❤ How would you describe your writing style and tone?

My style is to-the-point but oddly vague. I like to let the reader to connect the dots, if I can. I like to say exactly what is happening, but only show emotion. I can’t stand talking about emotions. It bores me to tears reading about why someone is crying. If they’re crying for a reason, then I’ll know what that reason is. I tend to write the same way.

 Give aspiring writers a piece of advice you wish you had known before getting published.

Oh, here’s a piece of advice: your originality is in your tone and in your characters. Your story will not be new or original, most likely, no matter the twist or how many vampires you add to it. Stories usually come down to the same social issues or political schemes or relationship conflicts. But we can meet a new character still, I think. We can still appreciate a solid vibe, and oh yeah, style counts.

❤ What's something about you that might surprise your readers?

I actually have a sense of humor: why did the punk rocker cross the road? Give up? Because the chicken was nailed to his chest.

❤ 
What's the most interesting comment you've received about your books so far?


Someone said I write how I talk. Everything is fine and then it’s all loud and crazy and out of control.

❤ What's next for you?

Sequels, of course, and in between, I’ll have something called The Miracles of Arthur Lowe, a story about a man who can clearly perform miracles but with rare and interesting motives.

Books to look forward to! Where can you be found on the web?

At my website: ULHarper.com.


❤ Thank you for being here today, UL! It was a pleasure getting to know you and your writing better :)

Giveaway!
 Thanks to UL's tour publicist, Pump Up Your Book, one lucky reader will win their very own copy of In Blackness. To enter the giveaway, tell me:

How do you find new or lesser-known authors? Are you a big fan of any indies in particular? If so, name them! I love supporting indie authors and want some recommendations.

Giveaway runs through October 10th, 2011 at 11.59 pm (your time). International readers may enter for a Smashwords DOWNLOAD of this book, but if you want to enter for a print copy, you must be a US or Canada resident.
Please include your email address in your comment! If I don't know who to contact once you are chosen as the winner, your prize will be forfeited.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated :)
Good luck!