Friday, July 10, 2009

Knight of Desire Blog Tour, review and giveaway!

As a young heiress, Lady Catherine has little choice but to accept her king's choice of husband. But the night before her wedding, Catherine sneaks into the stables for one last taste of freedom and runs into William. William is a young knight in the service of the Earl of Northumberland. He accompanies her on this late night ride and they leave each other with memories that each return to over the years.

Lady Catherine betrays her husband to protect her king. On the day of her husband's death, her relief at her escape disappears as she learns that his lands and castle are forfeit to William FitzAlan and that she must choose to marry FitzAlan or be taken to the Tower. Not surprisingly, Lady Catherine chooses marriage.

William FitzAlan had wondered what sort of wife would betray her husband to the king and whether he could trust her enough to marry. William recognizes Catherine immediately and marries her despite his misgivings.

As political unrest and war invade their castle, Catherine and William slowly learn to trust and love each other.

I admit that I have a weakness for historical romances. Just reading about the book, I suspected that Knight of Desire would be a fun and satisfying read. Indeed, it has the elements of the best historical romances: interesting romantic leads, action filled plot during tumultuous times, and snappy dialogue.

I particularly enjoy romances with (a) the leading men who have had difficult lives but because of a strong sense of honor they remain brave and true and (b) although they're cynical or wary of love, they can't help but become besotted with the plucky heroines. Though I'd suspected that Knight of Desire would fulfill these expectations, I enjoyed the plot twists and the witty banter even more than I'd expected. This would qualify as a guilty pleasure - and a book that I'll reread several times until Margaret Mallory's next book comes out.

About the Author, courtesy of Hatchette Books Group:
Margaret Mallory recently surprised her friends and family by abandoning her legal career-and her steady job-to write tales of romance and adventure. At long last, she can satisfy her passion for justice by punishing the bad and rewarding the worthy-in the pages of her novels, of course. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband and their two college-age children. Knight of Desire is her first book so she would dearly love to hear from readers. You can contact her or learn more through via Margaret Mallory's website at

Participating Blog Tour Sites: - June 29 giveaway. - June 29 giveaway - June 29 review and giveaway. - June 29 to July 10 review and giveaway - June 30 review and giveaway. - July 1 review and giveaway. - July 1 - July 2 - July 2 giveaway - July 3 - July 4 review and giveaway - July 4 review and giveaway - July 5 review; July 19 giveaway. - July 5 - July 6 review and giveaway. - July 7 review and giveaway. - July 8 review and giveaway. - July 8 review and giveaway. - July 9 review and giveaway. - July 10 review. - July 10 review and giveaway - review and giveaway. - review.


To enter please post a question for Margaret below.

1. Please include your email address, so that I can contact you if you win.
2. For an extra entry, sign up to be a follower. If you're already a follower, let me know and you'll get the extra entry as well.
3. For another extra entry, subscribe via googlereader or blogger or by email and let me know that you do.
4. For another entry, blog about this giveaway and send me the link.
5. Leave a separate comment for each entry or you'll only be entered once.

The contest is limited to US and Canada only. No P.O. boxes. The contest ends at midnight of Friday, July 24, 2009.

We have 5 copies of Knight of Desire by Margaret Mallory, courtesy of Anna of Hatchette Books. Thank you so much, Anna and Hatchette Books for your generosity!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

ThrillerFest Update

This is my first ThrillerFest. I delayed posting yesterday because it's taken me some time to process the experience.

ITW holds CraftFest during the first two days of ThrillerFest. I headed over to the Grand Hyatt early to make sure that I didn't miss anything. After the long lines at the BEA, I thought that it would be nearly impossible to find a seat in any of the talks. But ThrillerFest is a whole different animal.

I can't help admire writers. I spent so many years in law school and in large law firms slowly learning the skills through the different corporate transactions. I have worked at being practical and circumspect since I first entered law school in 1996. I done due diligence on mountains of documents, reading for detail, consistency, and constantly alert to potential liabilities and benefits to my various clients. Most people that I'd met for the last thirteen or so years were lawyers and their clients. It seemed that our interactions, even the nonbillable ones, were measured against the time that I could spend billing.

But at ThrillerFest, I was surrounded by people who carved out the time to read and to write. People who spent hours reading and analyzing style. Distilling what they'd learned and somehow using these skills, tricks, methods to tell stories that they created. I met writers who were working on their first story or who had just completed their first novel and were preparing for AgentFest - to seek someone to represent them. I enjoyed hearing how they first started writing, how the story came to them, what they did during the time that they weren't writing. When someone asked me what I wrote, I unthinkingly answered "loan agreements."

Then I attended my first day of CraftFest. It began with David Morrell's talk on "The Business of Writing". Though I took notes, my main takeaway - don't give up the day job to become a writer. He'd several NY Times bestsellers and the Rambo movie and 12 or 18 years teaching before he decided to write fulltime. Then, as a fulltime writer he completes a novel a year and spends a quarter of the year in book promotion. Morrell spent some time discussing point of view and the different ways that POV affect the relationship to the reader. Though this was likely something everyone else in the room knew and I may have heard it years ago, it seemed so new to me. I left the room thinking of Nick in Gatsby and trying to imagine a character of my own.

I rushed to Peter Rubie's "Make 'Em Laugh; Make 'Em Cry: Putting Emotional Muscle into Your Fiction". Then Steve Berry's "the 6 C's of Story". Then Lee Child's "Creating a Series Character". Then Lisa Gardner's "Successful Rewriting: Paring Down and Fleshing Out". Then William Bernhardt's "Story Structure: Organizing Your Story for Maximum Impact". Much of this was new to me. My head was so full and I kept trying to think of character traits for my lead character. I missed the CraftFest Cocktail Party and headed back to Brooklyn. I likely missed a chance to meet interesting people but it was much like bar review - the slightest nudge might knock my new knowledge out of my head. I needed to head home and process things. Plus, I'd gotten up at 6 and was beat.

Today was the second day of ThrillerFest and the end of CraftFest. I made it just in time for Andrew Gross's "10 Surefire Ways to Keep Those Pages Turning and Your Readers Begging for More" which was largely about pacing. Andrew Gross spoke convincingly about the need to carefully make a detailed outline before beginning the book. Followed this up with Allison Brennan's "Story is Character" which was at the same time as James Scott Bell's "Essential Tools For Suspenseful Dialogue". Allison Brennan teaches writing classes that absolutely don't permit outlining. She's never used an outline for her NY Times bestsellers. Instead she creates the characters in great detail and somehow their reaction to external events drive the book's direction. Then Steve Martini spoke on "Character Development: Good Heroes and Greater Villians". Martini creates an outline but has at times departed from his outlines, created villians and characters that weren't previously conceived or incorporated in the outlines.

I also attended the CraftFest Luncheon talk by Al Zuckerman, the founder of Writers House, and agent to Ken Follett (as well as to many other writers). He spoke about the importance of humanizing the villians in your story.

During one of the introductions to a CraftFest talk, someone mentioned that they suspected that the attendees likely wanted to rush home and put into practice these things that we've learned. I admit that I wanted to spend time reading and seeing how skilled writers demonstrated exactly what they'd spoken about.

I took many more notes from these talks and will write fuller posts about them another time. I did just want to update everyone on ThrillerFest since registration is still open and we have 2 more days left.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Shimmer blog tour!

Review of Shimmer by Eric Barnes


The book opens at the top of a Midtown skyscraper in NYC at 6 am on Monday in the middle of the weekly senior staff meeting of one of Wall Street's technology darlings, Core Communications. Through the banter, Barnes shows the relationships between and among most of the book's main characters and CEO Robbie Case. Clearly, Robbie is regarded as a genius among geniuses, with vision and incredible technical skills such that even those who have worked with him every day for the past 3 years and have participated in the company's growth hold Robbie apart. Understandably so since Robbie's guidance, savvy and tech skills transformed Core Communications into a company with the size and culture reminiscent of Google - a $20 billion dollar company offering technology unmatched by any other. Core Communications offers a way to maximize server capacity and data processing through its secret "Blue Boxes". The market appears to put no limit to Core Communication's potential growth and revenues. No one understands exactly how the Blue Boxes work and it turns out that neither does Robbie Case. Instead, Robbie has based Core's technology on a lie and through this combination Ponzi scheme and shell game, Robbie has been able to keep up the charade. Robbie barely sleeps as he works feverishly to come up with a way to create the necessary technology that can save his company. To suppress his tension and fear, Robbie increasingly relies on anonymous sex and alcohol. While the employees keep going, waiting for the time that they can cash in on their stock options, Robbie is anxiously waiting for the company's collapse.


Other reviewers have mentioned that Shimmer seems particularly relevant for these times with the headlines of corporate fraud by Bernie Madoff. Though headlines of corporate fraud are not new, Shimmer does strike me as an unusual and interesting read because of the degree of business details incorporated in the story.

I enjoyed reading how Core Communications handled stock options in a company so young and successful that its early employees and nearly all employees are multimillionaires. I don't know anyone that worked at Google or Microsoft in the early days but I imagine that the anticipation, anxiety, and fixation with the time that first employees are allowed to exercise and sell their stock options, this period of "grace" would be all consuming and much like Eric Barnes's description.

I'm not particularly technologically savvy, so I had to pause and write out the explanation behind Core's unique service. I'm not sure whether it's service is viable or not - but that lack of knowledge didn't impact my appreciation and enjoyment of the book.

If you're waiting for a mindcandy technothriller in the Michael Crichton style, this book doesn't have the violence and gore of those books. Instead, enjoy the tension that comes with the unravelling of the financial fraud. Don't be fooled by the lack of violence - Shimmer is an absorbing action thriller.

Publisher: Unbridled Books (June 30, 2009), p288.
Courtesy of Unbridled Books.

Eric Barnes

About the Author, courtesy of Eric Barnes's website:

Eric Barnes is the writer of the novel, Shimmer (Unbridled Books, July 2009). Eric has been writing fiction for many years and published a number of short stories before finding a home for Shimmer at Unbridled.

He is the publisher of The Daily News and The Memphis News, two local publications covering business and politics in Memphis. Eric was once COO (and, before that, Publisher and Managing Editor) of Towery Publishing, a publisher of city guides, books, maps, city sites and business directories for cities around the country. Towery went under in 2003, a sad and endless and unforgettable experience that culminated in the purchase of a few cases of beer for the remaining staff at one final staff meeting at Union and Mclean.

Prior to that, Eric was managing editor of a business magazine in New York City, which was in the midst a transtion from what's known as a "business opportunities" magazine to a legitimate business magazine. Business opportunities magazines run ads for get rich quick schemes and, it seems now, those ads were an influence on the much bigger schemes in Shimmer.

Eric lives in Memphis. Previously he lived in New York, and before that in New London, Connecticut. He grew up in Tacoma, Washington, and Juneau, Alaska. He attended the Columbia University School of Arts, Connecticut College, and Woodrow Wilson High School.

Eric is the father of Reed, Mackenzie, Andrew and Lucy, and husband to Elizabeth, a wonderful person and incredible teacher at Memphis University School.

Shimmer is a dark, sometimes comic novel about Robbie Case, CEO of a high-tech company in New York that is secretly built on a lie. Shimmer follows Robbie’s efforts to undo the financial and technical Ponzi scheme he has constructed, with Robbie struggling to protect the people and friends who work for him and to fight the fear that he might finally need – or want – to let the company collapse. Read a full synopsis or an excerpt on his website.

The Shimmer video can be found

Thanks so much, Libby at Unbridled Books and Eric Barnes for this opportunity!

Countdown to ThrillerFest - it starts tomorrow! Today is the last day to register online. If you're heading to ThrillerFest, I'd love to meet up in person. Just send me a comment or an email at gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com.

Monday, July 6, 2009

One Scream Away Blog Tour, review, and giveaway!


Beth Denison is a young single mother with a growing business in antique dolls. Young, beautiful, and active, she is raising her daughter in a wealthy and safe neighborhood. That she has a small almost imperceptible scar on her face and strong training in self defense are two small clues that Beth is more than she seems. When she receives threatening phone calls from a dangerous man in her past, Beth's life is turned upside down.

Killer Chevy Bankes is just paroled and lives to execute his revenge against antique doll expert Beth Denison. A master of disguise and a methodical killer, Bankes is a dangerous and motivated man. To prepare Beth for what's coming, he carefully prepares messages in the form of staged victims and antique dolls that he mails to her one by one.

Former FBI Special Agent Neil Sheridan is called in to consult when the police find bodies that are eerily similar to the crime scenes left by a serial killer that Sheridan knew well - and had previously killed. The investigation leads Neil Sheridan to Beth and seeing Beth with her young daughter reminds Sheridan of the family he'd lost. Sheridan must establish the mysterious link between Beth and Bankes. Sheridan must learn Beth's secrets to stop the killings from escalating. As Beth and Sheridan learn to work together to stop Bankes, they are surprised by the strength of their mutual trust, affinity and attraction.

One Scream Away reads like a fast paced thriller. It struck me as carefully crafted with strong characters and a complex plot. The three main characters, Chevy Bankes, Beth Donovan and Neil Sheridan are strong flawed characters whose motivations are made clear and coherent. While certain scenes have graphic violence, the book is not disturbing - just sufficiently action packed to be an engrossing read. In this way, the book reminds me of the contemporary action/FBI romances by Julie Garwood.

I would recommend the book to readers of action novels and readers of contemporary romances in equal measure.

Publisher: Forever (June 30, 2009) p 464.
Courtesy of Hatchette Book Group.

About the Author, from the author's website:

bio pic

My writing career began in the closet, where--thankfully--my first several novels remain. As a full-time choral conductor and assistant professor of music education, I didn't consider goign public with my fiction. It was strictly clandestine and only a hobby. Then the needs of small children convinced me to switch to part-time teaching. For the first couple of years as a mostly stay-at-home-mom, it was all I could do to complete the metamorphosis from domestically-challenged career woman to culinary-queen and housework goddess. (Okay...Some transitions are never fully realized.) But later, when the kids got old enough to be in school for six hours a day, the characters in my head found time to come out again. Murderers, cops, victims, lovers. I started writing down everything they did and said, then finally decided to see if anyone but me wanted to read about them.

Now, I lead a double life. Some days are spent in the university classroom or at the rehearsal podium; others spent chasing villains on my laptop.

So what do I do when I'm not creating music teachers or psycho murderers? (Two unrelated populations, I assure you.) With a husband, two children, and way too many furry, feathery, and scaly things, there isn't a lot of time left. It's enough to keep up with the house, the yard, and the family schedule, and hope no one on my laptop gets murdered when I'm not looking.

To learn more, visit Kate Brady's website.

PARTICIPATING BLOGS: - July 6 review and giveaway - July 6 review - July 6 to 17 review and giveaway - July 7 review - July 7 - July 8 review and giveaway - July 9 or 10 review and giveaway - July 10 review and giveaway - July 10 review and giveaway - July 10 giveaway conclusion - July 11 review and giveaway - July 11 review, giveaway, and Q&A - July 11 - July 12 review; giveaway concludes July 17 - July 13 review - July 14 review and giveaway - July 14 review and giveaway - July 15 review and giveaway - July 15 review and giveaway - July 15 review and giveaway - July 15 review and giveaway - July 15 review and giveaway. - July 16 - July 17 giveaway and Q&A - July 17 review and giveaway


To enter, please tell us (a) if you collect anything, and what you collect or (b) if you don't collect anything, what you would collect if you had an unlimited budget and tons of space or (c) an organizing tip. I would love to collect Matisses, Miros and first edition books.

1. Please include your email address, so that I can contact you if you win.
2. For an extra entry, sign up to become a follower and mention this in your comment. If you're a follower, let me know and you'll get the extra entry.
3. For an extra entry, become a subscriber and mention this in your comment. If you're a subscriber, let me know and you'll get the extra entry.
4. For an extra entry, blog about this contest and post the link.
5. Leave a separate comment for each entry or you'll only be entered once.

The contest is limited to U.S. and Canada. No P.O. boxes. The contest ends on midnight of July 24, 2009.

Thank you so much Anna and Hatchette Books Group for this opportunity!

Did you notice that this book sounds like a mix of thriller and romance? Quick reminder & plug: ThrillerFest starts this Wednesday. Online registration ends tomorrow at 6 pm.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Quick book contest

I have to pick out alternate winners. If you'd like any of these books, please email me (at gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com) with your mailing address and indicate which book you'd like:

(1) The Night Gardener by George Pelecanos - claimed by Carrie Anne from Toronto, Ontario
(2) The Richest Man in Town by W. Randall Jones - claimed by lovinfitch from NJ
(3) Law of Connection by Michael Losier - claimed by Belinda from Winnipeg, Manatoba

I'll pick the new winners from the first people to respond.
One book per person. U.S. and Canada only. No P.O. boxes. Thanks!

Thank you - I've emailed the new winners.