Friday, August 30, 2013

Guest Blogger: A.J. Llewellyn is here



Italian Weddings and Funerals , Monks' Rooms and Working for Saucepans
by A.J. Llewellyn


            I want to thank my wonderful friend, Mary Calmes for letting me invade her blog today to talk about my new book,  Italian Weddings and Funerals, coming to Silver Publishing this weekend.
            Yes, it's a re-release. Originally published a few years ago, once the rights reverted to me I put it with Silver and eagerly anticipated a wonderful cover by the divine and amazing Reese Dante. She didn't disappoint me and I am thrilled with the new, edited version of my vampire story.
            It's the first book in a new series called Italian Stallions. Italian Weddings and Funerals is a catering company owned by Luca Dell'Oro, a several hundred-year-old Italian vampire. Even though he doesn't require food, he loves it, and though he doesn't have love, he loves that, too.
            Luca throws the best weddings and funerals in the business.
            He has a quirky staff, including Zaria, a zany woman who supplements her income as a hooker. But she's an unusual hooker. She doesn't actually sleep with her clients. They have a breast fetish and um, they're often broke, so she accepts payments in the form of cookware!
            I based her on a woman I once worked with…
            A lot of passion went into this story since I am a serious foodie. I was also glad to be able to use a bit of my obsession with monks' rooms in this tale. I happened to be visiting the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (don't  you just love that name?) up in Talmadge, Mendocino, CA, and was so taken by this majestic place, that I was determined to fit it into one of my stories.
            I talked to a monk there who told me that originally a hospital built in 1889, it fast became a refuge for Catholic priests traveling up and down California's coast and for visiting Buddhist monks in later years. By the time those who reached the hospital made it, they were exhausted and sometimes badly injured. For those unfamiliar with the state's history, the priests were easy targets for the bad guys who assumed they carried gold.
            He told me that the priests were given refuge in houses along the way where the residents allowed them to stay long enough to recover from injuries, or the sheer energy it took to travel by horse all that way.
            Priest holes or priest hides, and monk cells, or monk rooms, exist all over the world. Some of the fanciest, most historic homes in England have them.
            Here is a link to the most famous. The illustrations of some of these show the hiding places to be so tiny it's amazing a grown man could fit inside them:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Booyah! Books - The Dog Days of Summer Edition

Hi again, everyone, and welcome to another installment of Booyah! Books. August was a busy month at The Novel Approach: we added Lana to our review staff, have had some great guests and giveaways, and have read some really outstanding books. This month's selections were not easy to make, especially since we limited ourselves to just one pick apiece, but we're confident we're giving you our best! 

So now, on to our selections!

Bruce’s Top Pick:


It’s not often that I am surprised by romance novel and this was a very pleasant surprise, indeed. When Prince of Silk of Thorns came across for review, I have to admit I was a bit underwhelmed by the cover- Cherries on a rope? What does that have to do with a Prince? The story being a mixture of historical fantasy was not my usual genre either. I have to admit that I reluctantly dove into the story and after about 10 pages couldn’t put the darn thing down!

This book is GREAT and is something that will stay with me for a very long time. Yes the language can be a bit flowery but beyond that, this book is wonderful. I look forward to reading much more from this author. Never judge a book by its cover!

You can buy Prince of Silk and Thorns HERE

Tina’s Top Pick:


A lot of novels tackle difficult subjects. Some are brave enough to take on one or two. In The Cost of Loving, Wade Kelly is ballsy enough to battle beaucoup painful topics and leave you smiling after all the crying is finished. Any writer who can pack homophobia, self-injuring, drug addiction, depression, dysfunctional parenting, “religion” (the quotes are mine, not hers), guilt and grief (I am probably forgetting some) into one emotionally moving yet satisfying-on-a-gut-level novel has huge cajones and the keyboard to back it up with. Vigorously, firmly recommended.

You can buy The Cost of Loving HERE

Lynn’s Top Pick:


I usually don’t comment on the sex scenes, but I have to tell you, Deanna Wadsworth can write a sex scene like nobody’s business. I felt the passion between Ryder and Snake. I felt the raw need, the patience Snake had with Ryder really showed me he cared so much. I felt as though I was an intruder reading their love making scene; and yes, I even blushed a bit. And it takes a lot to make me blush.

I loved going back in time and seeing how very different the world was towards gay men. I think the author did a great job in transporting the reader back to that era. The mid-seventies weren’t gay friendly. And a scene in the story brings the fear and the need to hide who they were to the surface.

Overall, this story is heartbreaking with sad circumstances but also of hope, love and finding your forever in the place you least expect it.

A must read for everyone, highly recommended.

You can buy Easy Ryder HERE

Jackie’s Top Pick:


The last few chapters of the book document the life of a man just going through the motions. A man barely existing. To see this vibrant, intelligent man living a half-life is heartbreaking. He has friends, he has family, he has a business, but he is missing his happiness. Thankfully the author gives us a glimmer of hope at the end of the book. Perhaps we could twist an arm or a leg to get another book to see the HEA I know I was hoping for.

I will say to you all, this is not your typical love story. There really is no HEA, but it also isn’t a sad ending. There is hope and at the end of the day, I think that is all any of us can wish for. I know I am being a little vague on the details, but I can’t give it all away now, can I?

In my opinion this is a must read book! If you miss this one, you are missing something special.

You can buy Memorizing You HERE

Lana’s Top Pick:


There is a murder mystery to solve, which is predictable, but the story is mainly about Tony and Jack finding each other, coming together and creating something lasting.

The supporting cast of characters where entertaining and I would not mind reading a story about Michael, a sex surrogate who works with Jack at the clinic.

Overall, the writing was very solid. The dialog between the characters was very natural and believable. It flowed without any awkwardness. The story had lots of humor. Particularly between the two leads, but the supporting characters also had a number of memorable lines. The story had just the right amount of sex and it was hot! From the first moment the two met, you knew when they got together it would be explosive.

You can buy The Trouble with Tony HERE 

Lisa’s Top Pick:


If you love epic fantasy, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. J Tullos Hennig’s writing is nothing less than eloquent, her storytelling nothing less than stellar. This is the sort of book that makes me fall in love with words and language all over again. It’s a story that drew me in from page one and didn’t cut me loose, even when there were no more words left to read.

The book ends in a cliffhanger, one that promises no small amount of pain and heartache to come. This long and winding journey has only just got underway, where it will take me next I can only guess, but one thing I do know for sure is that I will be right there along with Rob, Gamelyn, and Marion every step of the way.

You can buy Greenwode (The Wode #1) HERE

And this wraps up another installment of Booyah! Books. As always, many thanks to Mary for allowing us to invade her space, thanks for taking the time to peruse our picks, and Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

LE Franks on why dialog is key

I am excited to welcome LE Franks to my blog to talk about her book with Sara York, Prodigal Wolf which is available now from MLR Press. Today she is talking about dialog and pacing. 


Good dialog is not dry or boring and if done well it mesmerizes as well as advances the plot. It can be chaotic and messy to meet the needs of the character, or calm and lyrical to frame a moment, creating a pause in the action for reflection.


Dialog is an important element in our book Prodigal Wolf. The action is set over three days, and centers on the main character – Carlo Montefiore, so we don’t have the luxury of writing the entire action in real time.  Instead we have to weave his history and the story of the Montefiore pack throughout the conversations held between the characters.  And even though Carlo is not featured personally in every scene, his absence informs the action as much as his presence does. We get to experience some of the loss and disruption felt by his friends, and the general sense of stasis that has fallen over the pack while awaiting his return--and their natural resentment, once he’s home.



The key moment of dialog is near the end of the first book when Carlo and Angelo are finally face to face, expressing the pain and anger and that each has harbored against the other for years.  This is just the first step in their journey of understanding and reconciliation, and with it, the first step in their story, which takes three books to complete. The success of our dialog will be for others to judge – but I hope we succeeded in putting the right words in their mouths.





Official Blurb:



Carlo has a problem, after years away he’s finally returned to his South Carolina roots – but instead of peace and quiet all he’s found are nosy wolves, romancing twinks, an out of control roommate threatening to expose them all, and a demanding Alpha who just won’t go away.

All his Alpha wants is to show Carlo who he really is, and where he belongs. But Carlo Montefiore is a man fighting his instincts, memories, and responsibilities. His beachside home was supposed to provide sanctuary, but pack politics, unruly roommates, and human neighbors at risk of discovering that shifters exist, are making life anything but peaceful. 

Twinks Kevin & Grady have their own problems. Two college freshmen are no match for a couple of hot wolves who like to play chase. If they don’t stop playing games they’ll miss the biggest thing to happen in their young lives—love.

~*~



An excerpt:



Angelo glanced through the French doors at Giorgio sitting calmly in the office, a cup of coffee balanced on his knee as he chatted with Charles and Daniel. Joshua was making his way over to him through the French doors with two cups in his hands and a friendly smile on his face.

“Nervous?” Joshua handed over a cup before settling his arms on the railing to enjoy the view.

“Nervous? No. Worried, yes.”

“Daniel only told me last night of the final stipulations in Constantine’s will.”

 “Yes, they’ve been sealed pending Carlo’s twenty-fifth birthday.” He sipped the strong brew and looked around for a moment. Joshua had caught the motion out of the corner of his eye and grunted, sticking his hand in his suit jacket pocket only to pull out an assortment of sugar, artificial sweeteners, and packaged creamer. They looked a little travel worn but Angelo picked two packets of raw sugar out of the pile with a small smile.

“It’s Daniel, actually... he’s the one always looking for something sweet and always forgetting to pick it up. It’s an old habit now, all my coat pockets are filled with the stuff. Drives the cleaners batty.” Joshua turned back to the view.

“It must be nice having someone take care of you...” Angelo mused.

“Oh, it is. And it’s even nicer to take care of someone else. Every time I hand him a sugar all he sees is love, and all I feel is love. It’s a great thing when such a tiny gesture can mean the world to both of us in the middle of a frenzied day.”

“I wouldn’t have thought of that.”

“Though I think stealing sweeteners from all over New York and stashing it in my clothes isn’t very taxing overall. I have it pretty easy in the love department.”

“I can see that... but still, Daniel is lucky to have you.”

“Yes he is. Very lucky. But it goes both ways. He gave up a lot to be with me, and if it wasn’t for Con, we’d never be together and I’d probably be dead. And even with all of that, it’s only been a short time that we could be married in the state of New York. So I don’t take even a second I have with Daniel for granted—if it means I’m thrown out of some of the best restaurants for pilfering their supplies... so be it. It makes Daniel laugh.”

Angelo sighed. He was about to ask Joshua more about Constantine when he heard the ruckus downstairs.

Joshua raised one perfectly scaped brow. “Francesca?” “Yes.” Angelo confirmed over his shoulder, “Sounds like our guest has arrived.” Heading back into the office he felt Joshua’s eyes on his back.

Angelo had barely reached his desk to sit, when Francesca strode into the room.

“I hope you’re finally going to do something about that insolent mutt!” Francesca’s voice was pitched higher than ever, forcing the words out through her clenched teeth.

Angelo looked around her for Carlo. Instead, Joey stood frozen in the door blocking Angelo’s view of someone else, his face a study in self-control. How Joey accomplished this with his body was beyond Angelo. When their gazes met, Joey’s blazed in fury. Angelo was actually surprised Francesca was still in one piece. No one was more fiercely loyal to Carlo than the furious man before them. They’d grown up that way, each trying to take the blame for the other, even when the truth was obvious to the least observant among the wolves.

Con had indulged them both, in a way—splitting punishments between them. He’d been asked about it once, and Con had said that you can’t buy loyalty, you have to bleed for it. Joey and Carlo had bled for each other so many times they were almost like one; he envied them their relationship.

In his own way Con had been gifting his son with his first lieutenant. Francesca was the one exception to the ‘obvious’ rule. Her blind spot with regards to Carlo was so pervasive it also blocked her understanding of Joey. She really had no idea how close she was dancing to disaster today.

“Fran—”

“Do you see how he disrespects you in front of your elders?” She seethed, sweeping her arm around the room. “Don’t you understand what message this sends to the rest of our pack? He is inviting rebellion!”

Joey pushed forward, entering the room and stepping into Francesca’s face, their noses almost touching. “Fuck you Francesca!” He spit out, his voice so in control it sent shivers up Angelo’s back. “Carlo has done nothing to any of you. He’s stayed out of all pack business—in fact, he hasn’t even left the island since his return! I didn’t see you throwing him a welcome home parade, you tattletaling bitch!”

Francesca turned bright red and lunged at Joey only to be thrown backwards by a muscular arm. Angelo didn’t recognize the blond wolf pushing between the pair.

“Damn, that’s not cool.” The man shook his shaggy blond hair out of his eyes, frowning at the woman. The thick cords of his muscled neck bunched, power radiated from him. Angelo’s wolf rose, but didn’t come out since he didn’t sense a real threat from this one. His intent smelled pure.

“Watch it! I’m your Beta, wolf!” she hissed.

The man turned to Joey, “Is she?” He turned back to Francesca. “Are you? Is she really, because I have to say she’s not very good at it.” Joey was smirking at the blond’s words, provoking Angelo’s Beta even more.
*** 
I'm very excited to announce that LE And Sara have agreed to giveaway an ebook to one lucky winner commenting on this post from now until Midnight Friday the 30th. The winner will be announced HERE on LE's blog on Monday the 2nd.





 ***

 Web Pages:    lefranks.com   




Twiiter:            LE Franks is @Boxtersushi  




Facebook:        LE Franks Author Page


                         Wolves and Waves Book Series Page



Links to Buy:  MLR Press

                        ARe - allromanceebooks.com

                        Barnes & Noble for Nook


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fall needs to hurry up already

I can barely wait  for fall. Its no big secret that summer is just not my season. Its hot. My kids, (who I love and adore), are home and looking at me and asking me what we're going to do now. Next year there will be day camp of some kind. I hate to see them bored but really, underfoot is not helpful. Did I mention it's hot in summer? I would rather be cold. You can always put something else on but there's only so much you can take off. So hot and sticky with the bright sun. And the bugs? Lots of bugs and even fireflies freak me out. My husband's uncle is a font of information about what is in the back yard at their farm... chiggers, which are apparently bright orange and drill under your skin and make you itch. Charming. Wasps and bees and hybrid bee/wasps and cicadas and horse flies...it's just, whatever. You can have it. I am waiting for autumn.

We went to this apple orchard last year and got our pumpkin. It was awesome. Its cooler. There is a crisp feel to the air, places smell like cinnamon, the sun isn't so bright, and my favorite holiday happens, Thanksgiving. So all in all, I can't wait. Plus I like the colors of fall, the sepia tones, the burnt orange, the maroons. Some people have that condition where without sunlight, they get depressed. I'm the opposite. Too much sunshine and I need a break. My dad lives in Oregon now, we visited him and my step-mom over the summer and it rained and was overcast in June. In June! Oh dear Lord...best place ever! I'm ready to move there now. And yes, for the first time in his life, my dad was Vitamin D deficient but that's what vitamins are for. And they have Powell Bookstore in Portland and Voo Doo Doughnuts, it was fabulous. Loved it! Women were wearing knee-high boots in June. Yes I know, I said "June" a lot but really, it can't be said enough. It was 64 degrees one day. Anyway, I will stop gushing over Portland but I'm ready to go.

So my new shifter story was accepted for publication, yeah! Supposed to be out in December, I will let you know when I have a firmer date. I also have a Christmas novella coming out, so I'm excited about that. GRL is getting closer and I hope to see a lot of you there, I realized how many paperbacks I have to schlep to have signed and it's more than I thought. I have to remember not to turn into a raving fangirl. I hope everyone has an awesome coming week. :)