Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Spooky Reads

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with No comments
Happy Halloween. In honor of the eerie holiday I offer you some spooky reads.
While I have been know to scare people,
Me as The Real Butcher in AHS Roanoke.

I myself am not much of a spooky reader.

I went afield to my LARA and Soul Mate Facebook groups and asked for suggestions. Christiana Miiller, Aurora Peridot and Allison Morse sent me suggestions. Here they are, I've linked the titles to Goodreads.

But first: S.C Mitchell's book There's No Such Thing As Werewolves is currently free on Amazon. I've read his book, Blame it on the Blarmlings and enjoyed it, So I picked up my free copy.

The list sent me gave me a few books that I as a non-scary reader wanted to read.

Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie The thought that Jen Crusie wrote a spooky book which I apparently forgot about sent me haring off to the library for a copy. I had a wonderful time reading it last week. Just my degree of scary. I highly recommend.

Summer of Fear by Lois Duncan (YA)

Ghosts by Noel Hynd

Bag of Bones by Stephen King (There is no way I'm ever reading, or watching Stephen King. The only thing we have in common is that we were both scared to death by Bambi as children.)

14 by Peter Clines This sounds interesting. If anyone has read it, please comment on how scary it is.

 Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead by Christiana Miller
I've read this one. It's funny and spooky. Just the right amount of spookiness for me. I don't mind ghosts and magic. But I don't want to be up all night imagining terrifying things.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Read that book in high school and loved it. The film versions are both good, but the one with Julie Harris is the best. (Allison Morse) 
Hailed as the perfect work of unnerving terror. Not going to read it ever. (Susan)

Interview With A Vampire by Anne Rice

For Paranormal Erotic Romance with Vampires, Laurel K. Hamilton

Haunted Ground by Erin Hart Ireland. Archaeology.Mystery. A perfectly preserved head of a young woman with long red hair. I marked it to read.

Night of the Living Deed by E.J. Copperman I marked this one to read on Goodreads.

We're Off To Find The Witch's House by Richard Krieb (children's book. I want to read this to my grandson.)

The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox 
(Christiana says, not specifically Halloween, but a fun paranormal)

Murder in the Neighborhood by Janis Lane (a Halloween mystery,)

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (children's book) I remember blogging in a first lines post about this book. It's pretty amazing.

Every Witch Way But Wicked (edited by Barbra Annino -Christiana  said, "it's a charity Halloween anthology that I'm in, that benefits Kids Need to Read)
I like short stories and I like the charity and it is 2.99. I bought it,

The New Vampire's Handbook: A Guide for the Recently Turned Creature of the
Night by Joe Garden

Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore

Hell House by Richard Matheson

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
I read Practical Magic several ears ago. Not scary and very good.

 Phantoms by Dean Koontz.
Last, but it ought to be first. From the woman who won the Who Can Write the Scariest Novel contest that Lord Byron thought up in 1816 - Mary Wollstoncraft Shelley

If you want to add your favorite horror read in comments, please do. Happy Haunting.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Researching the past. 1939

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with No comments
I found a 1939 nickel when I was cleaning change out of my purse. Once I stopped wondering what it was worth in today’s market. (Somewhere between fifty cents and five dollars, according tCointrackers)

I started wondering what it would buy in 1939. I love research. I may want to set a story in 1939. Or it may inform my writing in other ways, i.e., a grandmother’s remembrance. I plunged joyfully into Google. The results were not quite what I expected.

The average house cost $6,980   
Equivalent today: $109953
The average car cost $700

Equivalent today: $11,027

The average wage was $1,253

Equivalent today: $19,738

That’s roughly 24.00 a week On other websites I saw average wage of $1,850 – roughly 35.00 a week. I suspect the truth was somewhere in between these figures.

In 1939 you could buy a Hershey bar for a nickel, Or a cup of coffee. Or a loaf of bread. You could cook off with a Popsicle.

Children learned to read with the Dick and Jane Books, first published in 1931

Ludwig Bemelman’s Madeline was published in 1939 as were the 16th Nancy Drew Book. The Clue of the Tapping Heels and The Hardy Boys number 18, The Twisted Claw. The fourth Little House Book, By the Shores of Silver Lake, made its appearance.

The17th Newbery award went to Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright.
The second Caldecott went in 1939: Mei Li by Thomas Handforth (Doubleday)

The average hardbound book cost 2.75

On June 19th, 1939 Robert De Graff introduced Pocket Books to the American public, changing the face of reading. The first paperback books were 25 cents a copy. (That link will take you to an interesting article,.)
Magazines cost ten cents.

 So did Comic Books


The First Superman comic came out in 1939

In 2010 a rare copy of Detective Comics No. 27 from 1939 went for $1,075,500  Don't you wish your grandparents had saved them?

 You could go to the movies for 23 cents

  • Gone with the Wind
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Stagecoach
  • Of Mice and Men
  • Wuthering Heights
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The 12th Annual Oscars read like a who's who in film history.
    The rest of the world was at war, but in America, we were still on the sidelines.

    England already had TV, but broadcasting closed in 1939 because of the war. TV broadcasting didn’t resume until 1946
    I would have like to have seen Elektro, the robot who could smoke a cigarette and say the Lords Prayer in 300 languages.

    The most popular attraction was The World of Tomorrow and The Futurama exhibit designed by Norman Bel Geddes showing what the world would look like in the far off 1960's.
    I found a food price advert:

    You could buy a Phonograph for twenty-five dollars. But I couldn't find the price of a record. I found that Frank Sinatra quit his twenty-five dollar an hour job and moved on to sing with Harry James band for the princely sum of seventy-five dollars a week.  But I couldn't find out how much a record cost. If any of you know, please tell me.
    Research on the internet is fun and can be a greater time sink than Facebook. I am so glad there are still libraries. I think I included links to the information in this post. Some are video links. Who knows? You might want to write a book set in that period. I am writing a book with a heroine who time travels from 1824 to 1940 Britain. Lord Byron's Daughter. Lots more research coming up.
    For those of you in the know. How did 1824 ballgowns fasten? I was unable to find it on Google. A book to the person who gives me an answer. Right now I'm going with cloth covered buttons.
    Do you like to go to the past via Google?

    Tuesday, October 17, 2017

    Meet Ana Morgan and her Debut Novel, Stormy Hawkins

    Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 2 comments
    Meet debut novelist, Ana Morgan. Stormy Hawkins, book one in her Prairie Hearts series,  came out September 27th. I looked up Ana on Amazon and this is what her author page says:
    When she was small, Ana Morgan’s life goal was to know something about everything. She has waitressed, driven a school bus, milked cows, run craft service on an indie film set, hiked through European castles, wired a house, married a Marine, and studied the stars. She can change a flat tire but prefers it when handsome strangers remove their jackets and spin the lug nuts for her.

    What a great bio/blurb. Ana, please tell us a little more about yourself:
    My dad was stationed overseas, so I attended elementary school in Frankfurt, Germany.
    Then it was back to the States for middle school. When he was sent to Eritrea, I went to live with my grandparents in New Jersey for high school. So, when my husband suggested staying put on a small farm in northern Minnesota, it sounded good to me—even though I didn’t know anything about milking cows or baling hay. Yeah, I moved a lot as a child and I used to dream about living on a farm. Or in any one place for more than two years. But farming sounded really cool to me. I never let reality intrude on my dreaming.

    I love firsts, so tell me about the moment when a publisher told you they wanted to publish your book.
    I was stunned. I’d worked on the manuscript for ten years, parked it in a file on my laptop, and only entered the Pages of the Heart contest to support the online chapter. I had zero expectations that my entry would win full requests from two publishers, and then a contract offer from SoulMate Publishing. I forwarded the offer to my critique partners and asked if they thought it was genuine. That's my kind of happy ending, one that begins a new chapter in a life. Congratulations!
    If it isn’t too nosy. How about the first time you kissed your true love?
    We were parked in his light blue VW Beetle in an avocado grove. He was 6’5”, and there wasn’t much room to get comfortable. When I opened my eyes, the windshield was steamed over.

    Other than your own, who are your favorite (heroes/heroines/writers) in your genre?
    My idol author is Bertrice Small. Her historicals are sizzling adventures.

     What is the most exciting moment, so far, in your writing career?
    Seeing the cover for the first time. The artist captured Stormy and Blade perfectly. It is an amazing feeling, seeing the characters that live in your mind and on paper come to life as a picture. I love the cover.

    What is your favorite pastime, other than writing? 
    Gardening with my grand-kids. They live a mile away, at the other end of our farm. I've almost got the youngest over his fear of earthworms.  Lol!

     How do you motivate yourself when inspiration takes a vacation?
    I set a deadline that puts my fingers on my keyboard.

    Any advice for new writers just starting out?
    Join a critique group. You’ll learn lots by reading others’ chapters AND by reading the feedback on those chapters (as well as the feedback on your subs.) Couldn't agree more. I would be lost without my critique group.

    Tell us about Stormy Hawkins.
    On a normal day, Stormy Hawkins would never hire a handsome, down-on-his-luck cowboy. She’s learned the hard way that she’s happier working alone. But, she needs help. The ruthless banker who holds the mortgage on her ailing father’s ranch just demanded payment in full—or her hand in marriage.

    Betrayed by his greedy ex-fiancĂ©e and humiliated in front of his high-society family, Blade Masters has spent five long years remaking himself into a cowboy. Now, if he closes just one more land deal, he’ll have enough savings to buy a spread of his own, where he can live alone and bury the shards of his shattered heart. The Hawkins ranch looks like a perfect target until he witnesses bruises on Stormy Hawkins’ neck and vows to protect the feisty redhead—whether she likes it or not.

    Stormy estimated it was nearly midnight when they arrived home. Silvery moonlight lent a fairytale aura to the ranch yard as Blade guided his mare to the corral gate and dismounted.
    She put her hands on his shoulders and let them slide down his chest as he helped her down. She’d stolen countless glances at his sun-bronzed back when he worked on the fence, and had tried to imagine how his muscles would ripple under her hands.
    He set her lightly on the ground and made no move to release her. Instead, he caressed her back and sides like a blind man reading a braille love poem.
    She looked up, trying to read the thoughts hidden behind his dusky eyes. Surely, he’d kiss her now. That’s what lovers did in the novelettes she’d read. She closed her eyes and waited.
    When she opened them, he was staring at her, the muscles of his jaw working.
    Uncertainty jabbed her. The suffocating shroud of her self-doubt threatened to crash back into place. Her fists closed defensively.
    She was debating whether to hit him and run when the only possible explanation exploded like fireworks in her head.
    Great teaser and blurb. Here's the buy link so you can click over to Amazon and read more. 
      Buy link for Stormy Hawkins:    http://amzn.to/2wXgykQ 

    What’s your current WIP? 
    I’m writing the sequel to Stormy Hawkins. “Mary Masters 
    loves a man her wealthy family fears. When he disappears, she refuses to accept his best friend’s pronouncement that he’s dead, and goes undercover, dealing cards on riverboats and searching dangerous docks the along Missouri River. Is his best friend correct? Is her fiancĂ© truly dead?”

    And finally, where can we find you?
    Website :  www.anamorgan.net

    Ana, thank you for being here. Dearest readers, if you like historical westerns this sounds like a good one. Here's the buy link so you can click over to Amazon and read more. 
      Buy link for Stormy Hawkins:    http://amzn.to/2wXgykQ 
    Happy Reading. 
    If any of you are going to the InD'Scribe Conference this weekend in Burbank, I'd love to meet up with you.

    Tuesday, October 10, 2017

    Meet Sofie Darling and Three Lessons in Seduction

    Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with No comments
    Sofie Darling's debut novel is a Regency Romance called  Three Lessons in Seduction  which won one award and finaled in three contests before publication. I was beyond impressed at her achievement. I always look up new authors who guest on my blog. I read the first few pages of Three Lessons in Seduction  and bought it. I am looking forward to the read.
    Sofie, please tell us a little about yourself.
    After some worldwide adventuring with my husband in my early twenties, we decided to settle down in Austin, Texas and raise a family. As the boys grew up, though, I realized I wanted to write the sort of books I loved. So, in my thirties, I went back to university and finished my English degree with the intention of becoming a historical romance writer. When I was pregnant with my first son, I fell in love with the genre, tearing through every Kathleen Woodiwiss and Mary Jo Putney novel I could get my hands on. Now, six years after graduating, my dream is coming true!
    Sofie, I see Three Lessons in Seduction won one award and finaled in three others before publication.  What was your road to a publishing contract?
    At the time I was entering contests, I was also querying agents, but with little success. I made it pretty far down the road with a few agents, but ultimately they passed.
    The process of querying agents and either getting rejected or ignored led me toward a bold decision: I researched every single romance publisher who accepted direct submissions from authors and submitted to all of them. Out of the twelve publishers I queried, I received five requests for more material. Within five months, I had a signed contract with Soul Mate Publishing. Wow!
    I love firsts, so tell me about the moment a publisher told you they wanted to publish your book.
    The submission process for the publisher I decided to sign with was a query letter and the first few chapters. A few publishers had expressed interest and “were reading” when I received an email from the Soul Mate editor I’d submitted to. It wasn’t more than three sentences along the lines of, “Have you signed with anyone? If not, can you send me the first 100 pages?” Elated, I did. Just a few days later, she asked for the full, and then a few days after that she offered a contract. Her passion for the book was the deciding factor for me. Mine, too, when I signed with them.
    If it isn’t too nosy, how about the first time you kissed your true love.
    This sounds terrible, but I have no memory of it! For shame! However, we do have a cute Meet Cute story. We were new neighbors and had caught a few glimpses of each other, but hadn’t yet met. Well, it was near dinner time, and I’d just finished showering when my roommate asked me to open a jar of spaghetti sauce that she just couldn’t get open. We tried everything, and nothing worked! So she sent me next door with the jar of spaghetti, towel still wrapped around my head, to ask one of our strapping neighbors (there were three of them living in that condo!) to pry the stubborn lid open. My future husband opened the door, I explained the problem, he twisted the lid loose on the first try, and the rest is history! Love it!
    Other than your own, who are your favorite (heroes, heroines, writers) in your genre?
    Hands down, my favorite historical romance writer is Judith Ivory. Not only is her writing exquisite and lush, but her characters come alive on the page with all their complexity and faults. No one writes chemistry like her.
    What is the most exciting moment, so far, in your writing career?
    The day I learned Three Lessons in Seduction won the Writers’ League of Texas’ Manuscript Contest (Romance Category). It was the moment I felt validated as writer and confident enough to pursue a career in romance. That's great!
    What is your favorite pastime, other than writing?
    I’ve been a distance runner for about ten years now. I’m not sure I think of it as a “favorite” pastime, but it is something I feel compelled to do, if that makes any sense. Distance running is actually very similar to novel writing.
    How do you motivate yourself when inspiration takes a vacation?
    I read, mostly in different genres.
    Any advice for writers just starting out?
    I highly recommend forming relationships with other writers, both in online and in person, for the necessary critique and the encouragement to keep going during the high’s and low’s. Also, enter contests! They’re a great way to receive critique and to gauge whether or not your work is ready to submit to agents and publishers. I agree 100%

    Tell us about Three Lessons in Seduction.
    Three Lessons in Seduction is my debut historical romance and the first book of my Shadows and Silk series.
    Paris, September 1824

    When Mariana catches the eye of the man at the center of an assassination plot, Nick puts aside their painful past and enlists her to obtain information by any means necessary, even if it means seducing the enemy agent.

    Even if the thought makes his blood boil.

    Only by keeping his distance from Mariana these last ten years was he able to pretend indifference to her. With every moment spent with her, he feels his tightly held control slipping . . .

    Can she trust the spy who broke her heart?

    Mariana spent the last decade forgetting Nick. Now she has the chance to best him at his own game, an opportunity she can’t resist, even as her view of him begins to shift. Increasingly, she wants nothing more than to seduce her own husband . . . 

    It’s only a matter of time before mad passion ignites, a passion never convincingly extinguished. A passion that insists on surrendering to the yearning of the flesh and, quite possibly, of the heart.

         “Unbutton your dress?” Nick repeated. It wasn’t possible he’d heard those words in that order.
         “Have you spent a single minute of your life bound within layers of corset, shift, and tightly buttoned dress? Has this ever been required for one of your spy missions?
         He couldn’t miss the scorn in her voice. “Never.”
         “Then you’ll have to trust me when I suggest that it’s a bloody fantastic idea for you to unbutton me. You’ve done it before, in case you’ve forgotten.”
         “I haven’t,” he said, his voice incapable of more than a low, gravelly rumble.
         She blinked, and a moment passed.
         Reason bade Nick exit the room and abandon the entire proposition. Under no circumstance should he close the distance between them and place his hands on Mariana’s body. Paper thin layers of chartreuse silk and muslin between his fingers and her skin wouldn’t be enough.
         A few quick steps could carry him to her.
         A few quick steps could undo him.
    Friends, I went on Amazon and read the first couple of chapters. I urge you to do the same. 
    What’s your current WIP?
    Book two of the Shadows and Silk series, Tempted by the Viscount, scheduled for a June 2018 release, is already in the hands of my editor at Soul Mate. Currently, I’m working on book three of the series, as yet untitled.
    And finally, where can we find you?
    You can find me on my website, social media, and on my newsletter. Here are the links:

     Thank you for being here, Sofie. I wish you all luck and many awards.
    And to my readers I send you wishes for a fabulous week and a lot of Happy Reading.

    Tuesday, October 3, 2017

    Time and Forever is September 2017 Book of the Month

    Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 7 comments
    Time and Forever is September 2017 Book of the Month at TBRpile.
     I am thrilled. If you haven't read it, I am giving away a copy to a commenter who leaves an email address. Next week I have author Sophie Darling on my blog/ Happy reading and a happy week to all of you.

    Title: Time and Forever

    Author: Susan James 

    Length: Novella 

    Genres: Time Travel, Romantic Comedy
    TBR Reviewer: Amy
    Rating: 5 Stars - A Must Read!
    Heat: 4/5 - Smoking Hot! 
    When Lorena finds The Castle, which specializes in Virtual Reality adventures to any time era, she and her friend jump at the chance to play. When they walk through the open door to 1969's London, it's apparent they've walked into more than just a game...

    This is such an amazing story. The best time-travel story I’ve ever read! Time traveling back to 1969 under the pretense of a virtual reality experience provides these two women in their sixties another chance at love. Sherry returns at a time to take a chance she didn't take with Jeremy on the tube. They shared one kiss together and that has been her biggest regret.

    Lorena, goes back with Sherry to London, however she returns home. While home she decides to spend time with her deceased husband Dave in California. They both take chances that, they didn't the first time around and really enjoy life to the fullest. What they didn't realize is that this virtual reality game is no game at all. I can't explain the twist because it'll give too much of the plot away but it is fabulous! I thought the idea and story is fresh, new and exciting. Both Sherry and Lorena have amazing stories. I must say I am shocked at how everything turns out. I’m glad that they are able to step back in time and go after what is important to them!

    The author does an amazing job writing this story with such an interesting take on time-travel and virtual reality, making this a five star read!