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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Spotlight Saturday: Guest Post and Giveaway with Stephen Tremp, author of Opening

Hi, everyone!

Welcome to another edition of Spotlight Saturday at Darlene's Book Nook, where we feature authors and their books!

We will be joined today by Stephen Tremp.

About Stephen:
Stephen Tremp lives with his wife and two daughters in Mission Viejo, CA. He has a B.A. in information systems and an MBA degree in global management. Stephen has a background in information systems, management, and finance and draws from this varied and complex experiential knowledge to write one-of-a-kind thrillers.

His novels are enhanced by current events at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and other scientific research facilities around the world. These potential advances have the ability to change the way we perceive our universe and our place in it!


Welcome to Darlene's Book Nook, Stephen!

Stephen has written a guest post, so I will now turn the floor over to him!

30 Second Elevator Pitch

Hi everyone, and thanks for stopping by. My name is Stephen Tremp and I’m the author of Opening: The Adventures of Chase Manhattan.

Here is a fun little exercise I learned from one of my Yahoo! Writer's Groups. You can do this in your spare time (what's that?). And we’re doing a book giveaway too, a free download of my book, Opening!

Okay, here we go. Make a keyword list. Then make a book synopsis using lots of those keywords. In fact, for fun, use them all! But no more than three sentences. Yes, that's right. Your book in three sentences. It may be the worst synopsis/blurb you've ever written, but don’t let that stop you. See if you can make us understand what the heck your book is about in three sentences.

First, begin by making a list of key words in your book or that describe your book. Here is my list:

* Battle
* Betrayal
* Biochemistry
* Breakthrough
* Chase Manhattan
* Death
* Desperate race
* Destroy
* Discovery
* Einstein-Rosen Bridges
* Fast-paced
* Global science-based oligarchy
* Greed
* Killers
* M.I.T. graduate students
* Mayhem
* Multi-faceted
* Murder
* Nanotechnology
* Power-play struggle
* Physics
* Science
* Spiritual contemplation
* Stolen
* Suspense
* Technology
* Threatens
* Thriller
* Unconditional love
* Wormholes

Now put them together in three sentences the best you can. Here's my blurb I made from my list of key words:

A scientific breakthrough in Einstein-Rosen Bridges, or wormholes, is stolen by a group of misguided M.I.T. graduate students who wish to usher in a global science-based oligarchy leading the way with breakthroughs in physics, biochemistry, and nanotechnology. As the death toll mounts, Chase Manhattan and a multi-faceted cast of characters must battle this skilled team of killers on both coasts in a desperate race to control or destroy a discovery which threatens life as we know it. Greed, betrayal, murder, mayhem, spiritual contemplation, and unconditional love define the power-play struggle in this fast-paced suspense thriller of technology gone too far.

Feel free to leave your three sentence blurb (no matter how good or bad it sounds) or other exercises you use in the comments. Thanks Darlene for hosting me and it's great meeting you all! Have a great weekend!

If you think this post is worthy of Twitter or Facebook, please select the appropriate icon below. Thanks!

Thanks so much for joining us today, Stephen!

One lucky winner will win a digital copy of Stephen's book, Opening, which is the second book in the Breakthrough Series. If the winner is from the United States, you will have the option of paperback or digital copy.

 “A scientific breakthrough of such magnitude it could radically alter the future of humanity—for better or worse—is in the wrong hands.”

The Premise: The Breakthrough Series poses a basic question: is mankind ready for a scientific breakthrough that can change altogether our perception of our world and our place in it. The conflict is simple: will this discovery be used to benefit and advance the world in ways only previously imagined, or will greed and incompetence be used to manipulate the masses and benefit a select few.

Amplifying the problem, a scientific Pandora’s box is knocked over and the contents spilled across the floor. Events escalate, similar to Mickey Mouse, who oversteps his limits in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Disney’s Fantasia. Yes, there is the element of the paranormal woven into the plot.
Buy Links: Amazon | Smashwords

To enter the giveaway, you must complete the Rafflecopter entry form below.

This giveaway is open worldwide. If the winner is from the United States, you will have the option of a paperback or digital copy. The contest will close at 12:01 AM EST on July 7, 2012.

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Guest Post and Giveaway with Stephen Zimmer, author of Spirit of Fire

Hi, everyone!

I am pleased to participate in Stephen Zimmer's Spirit of Fire Blog Tour hosted by Seventh Star Press.

About Stephen:

Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker, whose literary works include the epic urban fantasy series The Rising Dawn Saga, as well as the epic medieval fantasy Fires in Eden Series.

The Exodus Gate, Book One of the Rising Dawn Saga, was Stephen's debut novel.  It was released in the spring of 2009, with The Storm Guardians following in 2010, and The Seventh Throne in August of 2011.

Crown of Vengeance, Book One of the Fires in Eden Series, was released in the fall of 2009, with Book Two, Dream of Legends, following in December of 2010.  Crown of Vengeance received a 2010 Pluto Award for Best Novel in Small Press.

Stephen’s short fiction includes the Harvey and Solomon steampunk stories included in the Dreams of Steam and Dreams of Steam II: Bolts and Brass anthologies from Kerlak Publishing.

As a filmmaker, Stephen's film credits include the supernatural thriller feature Shadows Light, the horror short film The Sirens, and the recent Swordbearer, a medieval fantasy short film based upon the H. David Blalock novel Ascendant.


Welcome back to Darlene's Book Nook, Stephen!

Stephen has written a guest post, so I will now turn the floor over to him.

Epic Fantasy is Far More Than Just World-Building:
A Few Thoughts on Character Development
by Stephen Zimmer

Good character development is what makes a story come alive, and great character development makes a story thrive.  We can all cite many examples from novels we enjoy, where a well-rounded character, with a range of strengths and flaws, has grabbed our affinity and interest. 

When it comes to epic fantasy, or any type of epic-scale story, it is not uncommon for people to immediately start talking about world-building or plot.  It is true that epic fantasy is fertile ground for rich world building and layered plots, but that is not enough for a good story.  You can have the most interesting world in all of literature, but if it is not populated with compelling characters then you are not going to interest the reader.

A stereotypical, or two-dimensional character tends to be completely predictable, while there is a dynamic aspect to a well-rounded one.  I have always found it interesting that readers and writers, and this is just my own observation, put a heavier weight on flaws when it comes to assessing whether a character is well-developed or not.  While nearly all characters are going to have flaws, short of depicting the Divine, I believe strengths are just as important in terms of attributes that lead to a good character arc. 

My own writing, when it comes to my two epic-scale series, The Rising Dawn Saga and the Fires in Eden Series, involve ensemble casts.  As a writer, this presents a particular kind of challenge, as I must develop a range of compelling characters instead of being able to focus all my attention on a handful.   The characters in the ensemble have to have some distinct differences from each other and they cannot be mirror images.  Also, because they are not going to have the center stage a majority of the time, it is important that they come alive quickly for the reader. 

For good character development, some kind of individual growth should be reflected over the course of the story.  It doesn’t have to be in a positive direction, as a character certainly can take a turn for the worse, but the character should not be static in such a way that they are exactly the same at the end as they are at the beginning.  They should have learned and experienced new things that have had an impact on them one way or another. 

I am not just speaking of a younger character coming of age (which makes for a good character arc, which is why it is used so often by writers), but also of characters who would be considered fully “matured” at the outset.  I personally believe that taking a character that is largely set in their ways at the outset of a story, and making that character dynamic, can be a really enjoyable exploration for an author.  It is the kind of journey that goes deeper into what it means to be who we are; as works in progress rather than static monoliths.      

The good thing about a story such as mine in the Fires in Eden series is that the plot becomes a good ally in terms of driving character development.  In Crown of Vengeance, the first novel of the series, we meet eleven individuals, ranging from the owner of a Chinese restaurant, Lee, to Derek, an Iraq war veteran, to a college student named Erika.  They find themselves shrouded in a thick mist one night, which parts to reveal that they are in another entire world, which the reader learns is named Ave.  The eleven otherworlders find themselves in two lands that are on the brink of being invaded by forces carrying out the will of an enigmatic figure called the Unifier.

As you can see, the plot aspects of this situation are rich ground for cultivating growth and change in characters.  With all of their different personalities, strengths, and flaws, they are cast into another world suddenly, and forced to come to grips with that unavoidable reality in one way or another.  There is no time for calm reflection either, as they are right in the pathway of a major war. 

As the series evolves, based on the strengths and flaws of the characters, you do see the ways in which they choose to handle the situation and react to things, whether for better or worse.  There is a process of adaptation, as well as temptation, and a testing of the self.  All of this equates to dynamic character arcs that, while they will move faster for some of the characters than others, will be very clear to the reader by the end of the series. 

The plot can be very helpful for the character development of the inhabitants of Ave as well.  In my series are a race of beings called Trogens, who are tall and strong with dog-like faces.


They have an honor code that is being tested by their involvement in the ongoing war on behalf of the Unifier, who has promised to help them in an ages-old struggle against an Elven power that has oppressed Trogen lands relentlessly and even enslaved a population of them. 

Dragol is introduced in Crown of Vengeance, and at first he might seem to be one of the non-human minion types that are encountered more often than not in fantasy, like the orcs in Lord of the Rings, who do not stray from the course they are depicted on when you first meet them.  Yet as the story grows, and circumstances change and Dragol becomes isolated, the beginnings of what I envision to be a very rich character arc get underway.   His strengths, rather than his flaws, in my opinion, help drive the changes in him that really bloom at the time of events depicted in Spirit of Fire.

Even the Unifier Himself reflects a dynamic arc, and shows different facets as the story progresses.  Spirit of Fire contains some significant steps for that arc, especially in a particular, very important scene that is as powerful visually as it is revealing in regards to the Unifier.

A large-scale series can certainly be rich in character development, just as much as it can thrive in terms of world-building or plotting.  In my view, the epic fantasy writer should make use of their thoroughly-developed world and layered plots, as those aspects of their work can be major assets in supporting and facilitating strong, engaging character arcs that contribute to bringing the reader a very enjoyable literary experience.    

Thanks so much for joining us today, Stephen!

One lucky winner will win a paperback copy of the third book in Stephen's Fires in Eden series, Spirit of Fire.

Deep Within Everyone, There is a Spirit of Fire...

A maelstrom of war engulfs lands resisting the designs of the Unifier to bring about a new order, of a kind that has never existed within Ave. Battered by a massive invasion force from Gallea, the tribal people of the Five Realms and their Midragardan allies are being driven eastward, towards the sea, while the Saxan lines are wearing down ever thinner on the Plains of Athelney.

Time is running out quickly, as an ancient creature of legend soars through the skies with a brave young Saxan. They carry the desperate hopes of two realms sorely beset by a voracious enemy.
Diabolic entities conduct a great hunt, as a malignant darkness deepens across all of Ave. Exiles from another world must gain refuge, or find themselves ensnared by the long reach of the Unifier. The very nature of creation itself stands in the balance.

It is a time when the honor and fortitude of many are put to the test, and terrible prices are paid for resisting great evils. It is also a time of awakening for many, old and young alike, some of whom may yet discover the spirit of fire that lies within.

The third installment in the Fires in Eden series, Spirit of Fire, is richly imagined epic fantasy with a diverse ensemble of characters that offers a new world to explore for readers who enjoy large-scale tales along the likes of George R.R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, Steven Erikson, and J.R.R. Tolkien.

To enter the giveaway, please fill out the Rafflecopter entry form below. 

This giveaway is open to Canada/US only until 12:01 AM EST on July 6, 2012.
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Tour Participants

May 29  Fantasy Book Review

May 30  Ginger Nuts of Horror  

May 31  Mom Cat's Gateway Book Blog  

June 1   Splash of Our Worlds   

June 2   Soliloquy  

June 3   Ritesh Kala's Book Review   

 June 4   Jess Resides Here   

June 5   Reading Away the Days  

June 6   Vilutheril Reviews 

 June 7   A Daydreamer's Thoughts   

 June 8   Red Headed Book Worm   

June 9   Lisa's World of Books   

June 10  Kentucky Geek Girl  

 June 11  Goatfairy Review Blog  

 June 12  Book and Movie Dimension Blog   

June 13  Full Moon Bites   

 June 14  Stuck in Books   

June 15  The Independent Review  

 June 15  Alchemy of Scrawl    

 June 16  Watch Play Read    

 June 17  A Book Vacation   

 June 18  Eva's Sanctuary   

June 19  That Book Place Blog  

June 20  Edi's Book Lighthouse    

 June 21  SpecMusicMuse  

June 22  Once Upon a Time   

June 23  Azure Dwarf Horde of Sci-Fi & Fantasy   

June 24  Bad Girls, Good Guys, and Two-Fisted Action

June 25  Eden Road Blog      

June 25  Ali's Bookshelf (live podcast)  

 June 26  Workaday Reads  

 June 27  Bookishly Me  

June 28  Earth's Book Nook   

June 29  Darlene's Book Nook   

June 30  The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia  

 July 1     Evie Bookish  

July 2     Urban Fantasy Reviews   

 July 3     The Cabin Goddess  

July 4     TheSci-Fi Guys Book Review   

 July 5     The Speculative Salon   

 July 6     Ali's Bookshelf   

July 7     Bunny's Review   

July 8     Bee's Knees Reviews   

July 9     In the Dark of Night with James Tuck   

 July 10   Eden Road Radio  (live podcast)   

 July 11   A Few Words   

July 12    Bab's Book Bistro   

July 13   Alchemy of Scrawl  (live podcast)  

 July 14    Babs Book Bistro (live podcast)   

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Guest Post and Giveaway with Susan Leigh Noble, author of Summoned

Hi, everyone!

I am pleased to participate in Susan Leigh Noble's Summoned Virtual Book Tour hosted by Goddess Fish.

About Susan:

Susan Leigh Noble has always loved dragons and magic so it is no wonder that she became an author of fantasy novels. As a cat lover, she also threw a telepathic cat into the mix for her The Elemental Series. The first two books, Summoned and Quietus, have already been released in e-book format. She is currently working on the third and final chapter of the trilogy.
When she isn’t writing, Susan is an active volunteer in her neighborhood and at her children’s schools. She lives with her husband, two children and three cats in Texas.

She loves to hear from readers.


Welcome to Darlene's Book Nook, Susan! 

Susan has written a guest post, so I will now turn the floor over to her.

Finding Time To Write

I love being a writer. I love putting words down on the page, creating characters and scenes and almost everything connected to writing. But the one thing that I find the hardest is finding the time to write. There are tales of other writers such as JK Rowling that wrote in the evenings while their kids were sleeping. I don’t know how they had the energy for that! By the time the kids are in bed, I am exhausted. My creative juices are running low.

Sometimes I pop awake before the alarm goes off in the morning and rather than go back to sleep and be groggy when I am forced to wake up, I choose to get up and write. In those few minutes (okay, sometime it is more like an hour) I can get so much more done. I am refreshed. The house is quiet. I can write uninterrupted. Well, as uninterrupted as one can with a cat who thinks the best place to stand is in front of the monitor.  
However, those uninterrupted morning writing sessions are not enough.  I try to write while the kids are in school but since my daughter only goes half days three days a week that just leaves about seven hours a week to sit at the computer when you take out the driving time. But then add in errands and appointments that you want to do child-free and that number diminishes rapidly.  

With two children under the age of 7 and a full schedule of taking them to activities, parties and events plus volunteering at their schools and in my neighborhood homeowners association (yes, my husband has told me that I have a problem saying no to people), I find it hard to work in the precious uninterrupted time to write. That means I have had to find ways to write with the constant activity, distractions and interruptions. (Even as I write this, my son is trying to tell me about a video game he is playing.)  

I now carry with me a small notebook that fits into my purse. So when I have a few minutes waiting in the pickup line at my daughter’s school or am waiting for my son to get out of karate, I can work. I sometimes just jot down questions I need to address or possible future scenes. Or if I have enough time and inspiration has hit, I hand-write out the entire scene.  

I wrote my first novel, Summoned, before I had kids. I remember having the blissful, free time to concentrate on my writing. Now that I am working on the third book in the trilogy, I have resolved myself that it will take longer. I may not have those uninterrupted blocks of writing times that I did before, but I know piece by piece, stolen moments here and there, and many early mornings, I will get this book completed too.        

Thanks so much for joining us today, Susan!

Susan will award a $15 Amazon Gift Card to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour and a $10 Amazon Gift Card to the host with the most comments (excluding Susan's and the host's). 
Follow the tour and comment! The more you comment, the better your chances of winning! The tour schedule can be found at the bottom of this post.

Lina wants an ordinary life in the Grasslands of Zena. But she isn’t ordinary at all. At the age of four, she discovered she could start fires with a mere thought - an ability believed to have died out long ago. Cautioned by her telepathic cat, Tosh, she keeps this Elemental power a secret in fear of how the outside world would react. There is something else different about Lina - she feels a strange force compelling her to go north.

Before she can decide whether to give into this mysterious urge, she is kidnapped by gypsies and wakes in a foreign land. The desire to travel north is as strong as ever. When a strange raging fire prevents her return home, Lina realizes she must find out once and for all what or who is summoning her.

On her journey, she befriends an odd assortment of allies including the son of a High Council member, a thief, a former guardsman and a large sarcastic black dragon. Together they battle mystical creatures and unnatural forces, although such magic had ceased to exist over 800 years ago. During each battle, Lina must use her innate Elemental power as she becomes more certain that someone is using magic against her. When she discovers the shocking truth, it will change her life in ways she could never imagine.

Book Excerpt

The cold surrounded her, chilling her bones. She woke slowly, rubbing the sand from her eyes. Only a thin sliver of light from the narrow window barely illuminated the small room. Lina sat up, her boots scraping across the stone floor. Where was she? She glanced around; her fingers reaching out to brush the damp stonewall. She wrinkled her nose at the musty odor. A scratching sound came from the far corner of the small room. She thought of rats and quickly pulled her feet back onto the narrow cot.

As her eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, she saw the door on the other side of the cell. She pushed the thoughts of rats out of her mind and stood up. The room spun. She grasped the wall. Her body felt weird as if it was not fully hers. She vaguely remembered a man knocking her to the ground and the sweet smell of the cloth over her face. She had a faint memory of being thrown on the back of a horse and being forced to drink something with a strange aftertaste.

She leaned against the wall until the room stopped moving and then hesitantly, Lina shuffled toward the door, her arms outstretched until she felt the cold metal door. She pushed and pulled at the handle but the door did not budge.

 “Tosh?” she called. Her voice echoed in the stone cell. She pounded on the door. “Val? Anyone?” She pounded on the door again but no sounds came from the other side. “Tosh? Tosh where are you?”

There was no answer. She glanced around the tiny room. It was bare save the cot. She edged away from the dark corner where she had heard the scratching. The lone window was too high for her to reach, and even if she could, it was barely a slit. Her only exit was the door. But even as she turned to consider it, she knew that her Elemental powers couldn’t help her. Maybe if the door had been wood, then she could burn her way out, but not metal. She would incinerate herself before the door would begin to melt. The walls were made of thick stone. There was nothing she could do. Wearily, she climbed back onto the cot. Cold and hungry, she curled into a ball. She wondered where her friends were and if they had survived the battle.

Canada Day Blog Hop

Hi, everyone!

Welcome to Stop #14 of the Canada Day Blog Hop!

This blog hop is co-hosted by Aislynn (Stick - Read - Cook), Chrystal (Snowdrop Dreams of Books), and Carmel (Rabid Reads).

In honor of Canada's birthday we are having a Canada Day Blog Hop extravaganza!
Each blog will host their own giveaway - Canada themed of course!
Giveaways will run from June 28th to July 1st.
All giveaways are open to Canadian Residents!

Details of my giveaway:

 One lucky winner will win a book of their choice from one of the Canadian authors featured below.

NOTE: You are NOT limited to choosing the books below. These are simply my recommendations. You are free to choose any book (price not to exceed CAD$15) written by any of the Canadian authors featured below!

You can click on the titles below to read the book descriptions at Goodreads:

  • This giveaway is open worldwide as long as The Book Depository ships to your country free of charge!
  • You may enter only once!
  • You must be 16 years of age or older.
  • You must be a follower of Darlene's Book Nook on GFC (see widget on the left-hand side).
  • The giveaway will end on Monday, July 2nd at 12:01 AM, Eastern Standard Time.
  • Rafflecopter will choose the winner using
  • The winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to claim the prize.
  • If a prize is not claimed within 48 hours, a new winner will be selected through Rafflecopter. 

To enter this giveaway, fill in the Rafflecopter entry form below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And don't forget to keep hopping for more chances to win:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Winners of Bite Me by Mike Faricy

Hi, everyone!

The lucky winners of Bite Me by Mike Faricy are:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Congratulations to Miranda W., Lisa A., and Dana C.! I have sent each of you an email, and you have 48 hours to claim your prize.

If any prize is not claimed within 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to enter!

There is still time to enter these giveaways (just click on the badges below):

Canada/US - ends June 28th

International - 2 copies! - ends June 29th

International - ends June 30th

$100 Visa Card Giveaway!
Canada/US - ends August 24th

Winner of The Mamacita Murders by Debra Mares

Hi, everyone!

The lucky winner of The Mamacita Murders by Debra Mares is:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Congratulations to Sherry S.! I have sent you an email, and you have 48 hours to claim your prize.

If any prize is not claimed within 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to enter!

There is still time to enter these giveaways (just click on the badges below):

Canada/US - ends June 28th

International - 2 copies! - ends June 29th

International - ends June 30th

$100 Visa Card Giveaway!
Canada/US - ends August 24th

Winner of the Clear Your Shelf Giveaway

Hi, everyone!

The lucky winner of the Clear Your Shelf Giveaway is:

Congratulations to Erma H.! You have won an Advance Reader Copy of Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward!

 Erma H., I have sent you an email, and you have 48 hours to claim your prize.

If any prize is not claimed within 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to enter!

There is still time to enter these giveaways (just click on the badges below):

Canada/US - ends June 28th

International - 2 copies! - ends June 29th

International - ends June 30th

$100 Visa Card Giveaway!
Canada/US - ends August 24th
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