I'm thrilled to be participating in Romance Junkies online Halloween Party. I'm offering a prize package containing a signed copy of "Fire at Midnight," a number of limited edition promotional items for both "Fire at Midnight" and my upcoming release, "Stolen Promise," PLUS a $25 gift card for Barnes and Noble.
But...the fun doesn't stop there. RJ is offering up a cornucopia of prizes, and the opportunity to participate in the online event is presented in an inventive, fun way. Just go out to the Romance Junkies website and take a walking tour through the haunted house. Click on the graphic hints and you'll find information about each contest being offered. (Hint: once inside the house, click on the lady standing beside the candelabra at the top of the stairs if you're interested in entering the contest to win my prize package).
Author Chris Tusa contacted me with a request that I read and review his debut novel, “Dirty Little Angels” because one of my favorite books is “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden,” by Joanne Greenburg, which features a sixteen-year-old girl in the grip of madness. Mr. Tusa said he thought I’d like his novel because it also depicted a disturbed girl’s mental illness.
With this frame of reference, I sat down to read “Dirty Little Angels,” only to discover that these two books bore no similarities. While Ms. Greenburg’s work is a lush, heart-wrenching tale of a girl’s journey back to sanity with the aid of a compassionate therapist, Mr. Tusa’s novel is a snapshot of teenager Hailey Trosclair’s life, depicted in unsettling detail at a wallowing pace that forces the reader to dwell upon each added layer of misery as the story unfolds.
Skilled characterization on the part of the author keeps his point of view character from becoming a cliché. Hailey’s world contains the requisite “white trash” elements: poverty, drugs, sex, alienation, an unemployed father who drinks too much and squanders his days at the local pool hall, a mother whose choice of husband caused her to be disowned by her wealthy family, and a brother who thinks nothing of allowing his younger sister entry into his circle of psychopaths and thugs. Hailey is simply a lost soul battered about by –and indifferent to—the world she inhabits.
This isn’t a novel where the lines between good and evil are cleanly divided. The world depicted in “Dirty Little Angels” is a morass of hopelessness and ambivalent morality, evinced by the disintegrating family structure surrounding Hailey and the encroaching horrors of poverty and despair. An interesting thing that leapt out at me in the narrative was how cars were used as an extension of the characters. For example, Hailey’s uncle Errol owns their home, and he wants to evict the family from the property because the mortgage payments are in arrears. Errol drives a shiny yellow Hummer, compared to the old orange Nova with the rusty bumper her father drives. Hailey’s mother’s Saturn is repossessed during the first 10 pages of the book. A particularly nasty character named Moses drives a “ratty green Omni with bald whitewalls and a broken taillight.” When Hailey becomes infatuated with a man named Chase, the subtext of what cars reveal about the characters in this book did not bode well for their relationship. Chase drove “a fully restored black 1968 Firebird with silver mag rims. He had a silver fish emblem on his rear fender, like the one you see on all the Christians’ cars, except this fish had legs.” Hailey’s girlfriend Meridian is often seen on or near the dented hood of a black Buick, and Meridian turns out to have a heart just as black as the paint job on the car. Hailey’s brother Cyrus drives a Hyundai, but for the most part his vehicle is not given a personality, just as Cyrus himself is never fully revealed to the reader.
This novel would not have worked for me if the characters had not surpassed the typical stereotypes. Hailey evokes compassion in the reader while falling short of becoming likeable, yet behavior such as her kindness toward the dying cancer patient Mr. Guidry redeems her. The scene between Hailey and her mother at the fancy dress shop in the French Quarter hints at the type of bond that might have existed between mother and daughter under different circumstances, making the scene particularly poignant.
Hailey is far from innocent; she participates in scenes of shocking violence, and even when the violence is eventually directed inward, her actions seem to be more of a knee-jerk reaction to events in her life, rather than a manifestation of mental illness. The author’s oft-repeated symptom of Hailey’s mental breakdown, described as “the roaches had been crawling around inside my head,” was weak and unnecessary when the actions of the character clearly revealed a coming apart of her psyche.
While I would not compare this novel to classics such as “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” or “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Mr. Tusa has proven himself capable of writing gritty, gripping prose that focuses a bright light on aspects of modern society that many would prefer remain hidden.
I tend to give away copies of my debut novel "Fire at Midnight" whenever a promotional opportunity presents itself.
I previously offered a giveaway of one copy of the book through Goodreads.com, and I was stunned when nearly 700 people entered the drawing. (No ego gratification here, I think it simply means: bad economy + free stuff = good thing). The winner was recently selected (by Goodreads) and I have mailed a print copy plus some other promotional goodies to the winner.
With my expectation of 50 entries or so having been significantly exceeded, I am offering another giveaway drawing of "Fire at Midnight" through GoodReads. This time, two copies will be given away, and the winner will be selected on October 31, 2009.
On August 4, heavy rains caused flooding in Louisville, Kentucky and the surrounding areas. The Louisville Free Public Library’s main branch was hit hard and the damages are estimated at $5 million. (per the Courier Journal on 8/6/09)
Author Shiloh Walker is organizing a book drive in an effort to help.
How you can help: Everybody:
Donations of new books, all genres.
Information about monetary donations can be found at WFPL.
Authors & Publishers:
Donations of both signed and unsigned books. All genres, from children’s books to romance to non-fiction, etc, etc.
Signed books can be used in fundraiser purposes. Unsigned books can be used to help replenish the books that were lost due to the flood.
Shiloh has spoken with somebody with the library and at this time, they have no place to store books. However, she is close and will keep the books at her house until they are able to take them.
For those wishing to donate books, there are two ways you can send them. Shiloh can either receive them at her post box address or a friend will receive them at her home.
If you wish to mail them via the USPS, send to:
Shiloh Walker PO Box 976 Jeffersonville, IN 47131
For those wishing to use Fedex or UPS, send to:
LFPL Book Drive C/O Jennifer Kennedy 20813 State Rd # 62 Marysville, IN 47141
Feel free to repost this information in its entirety.
Note: This is a re-post of a blog I originally published last year. I joined the re-read challenge issued by a group of bloggers and am posting my review of Judith James' Broken Wing.
I’ve always been a fan of the tortured hero. Not only from the perspective of a reader witnessing the redemption of the hero as he battles to triumph over his personal demons, but also as a writer interested in the study of craft. For generations, writers have used their skill at portraying the soul in torment to create heart-wrenching stories with unforgettable characters.
“Broken Wing,” the debut novel by author Judith James, contains one such memorable tortured hero in the form of Gabriel St. Croix, a young man who was grown up in the tawdry environment of a Parisian brothel. Gabriel has learned to insulate himself completely from the world around him in order to protect his soul from the endless parade of strangers who want only his body. Beneath Gabriel’s harsh, cynical, often uncivil exterior beats the heart of a good man who cannot bear to see a child abused in the manner Gabriel has been abused. Gabriel takes it upon himself to protect the young boy Jaime from predators who would debase and ruin the child. In doing so, Gabriel sets in motion a chain of events that will eventually lead to his own salvation when Jaime’s widowed sister Sarah comes to liberate her brother.
“Broken Wing” is an engrossing love story with themes of redemption and the power of love at its core. While some readers might find the subject matter unsettling, the author has navigated Gabriel’s dark world with sensitivity and compassion. From the moment Gabriel and Sarah first set eyes on each other, the spark of attraction between them is palpable. Even when Gabriel is consistently rude and deliberately shocking, Sarah remains undaunted and increasingly curious about this unfriendly stranger who suffered untold hardships and new humiliations in order to spare her brother the same fate Gabriel has experienced.
There are no false notes in this story; the relationship between Gabriel and Sarah unfolds at a believable pace, with scenes of revelation and tenderness that are heart-breaking yet thoroughly engaging as Sarah slowly reveals the sensitive, tender man beneath Gabriel’s gruff, wounded exterior. Sarah’s initial feelings of gratitude over Gabriel’s rescue of her brother yield to deeper emotions as Sarah realizes that Gabriel’s exterior is an artifice built out of self-loathing. It is Sarah who is able to make Gabriel see himself as she sees him; convincing Gabriel that he is greater than the sum of degrading experiences forced upon him during his short life. In the end, Gabriel is redeemed through Sarah’s love, earning “Broken Wing” a permanent place on my keeper shelf.
The unthinkable has happened. Fellow author and friend Delilah Marvelle, author of the delightful MISTRESS OF PLEASURE and the upcoming second release in the School of Gallantry series, LORD OF PLEASURE has been told by her publisher that the sales numbers for her debut novel aren't sufficient to warrant continuing the series.
I'm frankly confused by this because her debut novel sold out its entire first print run (I should be so lucky!!)
Delilah and many others are banding together to try to keep this intriguing series alive. I'm doing my small part by blogging about it (and buying the second book, of course) and I hope you'll click on the link below for more information and will join me in supporting this talented writer. For the price of a Starbucks you can own a terrific historical romance novel!
The fun thing about being the person holding the contest is that I can decide to award more than one prize if I feel like it. I like doing that because it's a way to show my appreciation for your interest in winning my debut novel, and also because I often have trouble deciding on a winner.
Since it's my Mom's birthday today, I have given her the honor of selecting the winner of the signed copy of "Fire at Midnight." The winner is nfmgirl.
I've selected a few other winners, too. Unfortunately, I can't send a book to every winner, but the following folks will receive some cool promotional goodies if you'll kindly send me an e-mail containing your snail mail address so I know where to mail your prize:
1-Winner of Grand Prize (signed copy of "Fire at Midnight"): nfmgirl. 2-Runners-up (promo goodies prize): Danielle, Mari, Harringtonhoundheaven
Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org by June 30th to claim your prize!
Author Brenda Novak holds an annual online auction to benefit diabetes research. All types of auction items are available to bid on, including books, critiques, lunches, artwork, jewelry, gift cards, and once-in-a-lifetime vacation getaways.
The auction items are provided through donations made by authors, editors, agents and others.
The auction just began today and will run through the end of the month. The goal this year is to raise $300,000 for Diabetes research.
You can view the listing of items available for bidding by visiting the online auction site by clicking here.
As you may know, my debut novel, “Fire at Midnight” was released in March. As a result, I’ve been given the opportunity to participate in the auction by donating an autographed copy of my book. I decided to make my donation more attractive by offering a prize package consisting of the following:
1) An autographed copy of “Fire at Midnight” 2) A tote featuring the storm-swept lighthouse design from the cover of the book, artwork by artist Adam Mock 3) A microwave and dishwasher safe mug with the artwork from the book cover 4) Hot Chocolate and Popcorn
My auction item can be found under the heading Gift Baskets and Collections. It is auction Item # 1379137 (you can use the advanced search feature to search by auction item number).
I hope everyone will consider looking at the online auction items to see if there’s something being offered that you find appealing and would like to bid on. It doesn’t matter to me whether you bid on my item or not, but I’d love to see as much money as possible raised to find a cure for this terrible disease.
While Hollywood has not beckoned and isn't likely to, the current issue of Medallion Press Insider includes a new feature called, "Casting Call," in which we amuse ourselves by casting actors in the roles of characters from MP releases. My debut novel received the "casting call" treatment this month, and it was so much fun, I'd like to share it with you.
From Medallion Press Insider:
Have you ever read a book and imagined which actors you would cast as the characters? Well now it’s time to test your skills as a casting director!
Each month in this section our authors and our staff will cast actors as the main characters in Medallion Press novels. Compare your casting to ours and see how closely we match up!
This month’s CASTING CALL: Fire at Midnight by Lisa Marie Wilkinson
Plot It is 1703, and Rachael Penrose is confined to Bedlam Insane Asylum in London after discovering her uncle Victor plans to kill her brother in order to inherit the family fortune. Victor leads a gang of criminals and uses French privateer/smuggler Sébastien Falconer as the scapegoat for his crimes. When Victor spreads the lie that Rachael informed the authorities of Falconer's smuggling activities, Falconer vows revenge on the girl.
A dangerously ill Rachael finally escapes from Bedlam, only to find shelter in Sébastien's carriage, and ends up in his care. It is a twist of fate that will alter both their lives forever. Believing she is in danger from Sébastien, Rachael meets up with his estranged twin brother, Jacques, a customs officer intent on bringing his brother, the famous privateer, to justice. But the real criminal is still at large, and she and her brother are still in danger. Will she discover the truth and save both their lives . . . and her heart?
Main Characters as described by the author: Rachael Penrose - Petite, blue-eyed blonde. I’ve always thought of her as looking like Alice in Wonderland, but without the pinafore.
Sebastien/Jacques Falconer – Six feet tall with shoulder length black hair, green eyes, mustache.
LISA MARIE WILKINSON CASTS: Rosamund Pike
MEDALLION EDITORIAL STAFF:
Helen A Rosburg, Executive Editor Casts -
Christy Phillippe, Editorial Director Casts -
Emily Steele, Editor Casts -
Jessica Vicich, Editorial Coordinator Casts -
If you've read "Fire at Midnight," who would you cast as Rachael and Sebastien? Please leave a comment! I'm going to offer a prize for the winning combination!!
Winner to be announced on my Mom's birthday, June 3rd. (I've been told "Fire at Midnight" is currently in a number of TBR piles, so this date will give more folks a chance to win a prize!!)
A blog entry came to my attention this week because it contained the intriguing title: “Lisa Marie Wilkinson is proud of herself.” My first thought was, “They must be referring to the actress Lisa Marie Wilkinson. I wonder what she's done and why she's proud?” I clicked on the link and went to the Harriet Klausner Appreciation Society blog (I will refer to it as the “HKAS” going forward) only to discover that the post referred to me. In a rather snide, head-shaking, "isn't she pathetic?" way.
I will confess to being a bit over zealous in the promotion department because my debut novel was just released and I feel I need to do more in the way of promo because I don’t have one of the big NY houses behind me (although not to be construed as a complaint against Medallion Press because they have been absolutely wonderful to me). But, the bad economy is hitting all aspects of retail, and book sales have not escaped the impact. So, when good reviews and accolades started to come in, I’ve tried to mention them at every opportunity.
The HKAS blog picked up a post I’d made on the Romantic Times message boards announcing a blog guest spot I was doing and the associated prize package the blog owner was offering. I’ve been a regular member of the RT boards for a long time (long before I had a book published), so I’m very comfortable with posting there, and the people who frequent the boards are tolerant of my promotion activities and have been wonderfully supportive. My goal in writing the post was to attract as much interest in both the blog contest and my debut book as possible, so I posted the following:
"My debut historical romance novel "Fire at Midnight" was released by Medallion Press on March 1. To celebrate, I will be the guest blogger on TJ Bennett's blog on Wednesday, March 11. Please come visit me at http://www.tjbsopinion.blogspot.com tomorrow as I share the "story behind the story" of "Fire at Midnight." Enter a comment and be eligible to win a wonderful prize basket! TJ will be giving away a basket of autographed books, and the basket will include a $20 gift certificate for Amazon.com. She’ll also give away a signed copy of her critically acclaimed historical romance, THE LEGACY, and a signed copy of my debut novel, "Fire at Midnight."
"Fire at Midnight" was a finalist or winner of more than 40 writing contests in its unpublished form, including the Maryland Writers Association Novel Contest and a Bronze Award from the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest. The novel was recently awarded a 5 star review by Amazon reviewer Harriet Klausner, a 4 star rating by Romantic Times Book Reviews Magazine, and a 5 Blue Ribbon Rating from Romance Junkies."
Okay, yes, I managed to fit in all I could about awards my book had received because I’m trying to figure out how to make my book stand out. That’s what you do when you promote. At least, that’s what I thought promotion was intended to do. What I didn’t realize was that my post probably made me sound like a preening, obnoxious, egocentric pain-in-the butt. Now, people who know me personally will assure you I’m not (just ask my Mom!), but when I saw the HKAS blog, I realized how people might view it, and after my initial dismayed sputter of surprise, my feelings have ebbed into a blend of embarrassment tempered with amusement.
The HKAS blog exists for and is maintained by a group of people who have had ongoing issues with the quality/quantity of reviews by Harriet Klausner. Pity the poor fool (me) who happened to note that my book had received a 5-star review from HK because it made me a prime target for this group, and hence the “Lisa Marie Wilkinson is Proud of Herself” heckling.
The following are comments made by members of the HKAS blog group in response to the post (this is not a public blog in the sense that anyone can post a comment. Only “members” are allowed to post):
Posted by Malleus: "Shall we laugh or shall we cry ? :-) Well. Congratulations of course, but this review from Harriet Klausner... these Klausner reviews aren't what they used to be anymore!"
Posted by Deborah Hern: "That's sad. Especially since the romance reading community has a pretty strong online presence, and are thus likely to know that HK is a huge fraud. Using her as a 'see how great my book is' isn't likely to impress them."
I sensed condescension in the comments, but I wasn’t too disturbed because they didn’t seem to object to the RT rating or the Romance Junkies rating (perhaps because they have no qualms where these reviewers are concerned). I can’t help but wonder if the Deborah Hern who posted on HKAS is the same Deborah Hern who writes reviews for The Romance Readers Connection, a website that, ironically, also reviewed “Fire at Midnight” and gave it an “above average” rating of 4/5 stars. Oh, I shouldn’t forget to mention the “one of the best books published in Chicago” accolade from Publish Chicago. In for a penny, in for a pound, since I’m so darned proud of myself, LOL.
I guess this post on my own blog is just an attempt to let off some steam, since the HKAS blog is locked down and I cannot post a comment there. Thank you for indulging me, and (I hope) laughing along with me.
Fire at Midnight has been featured in Publish Chicago's monthly list of the best books published in Chicago. They are planning to publish a review of the book soon, so I'll keep you posted (pardon the pun!).
Also...I'm planning a new contest with a cool prize, so please check out my website for an update.
I have the honor of being the featured author for the Medallion Press Author Spotlight for March. The interview was fun and the questions were not what I'd expected. I mean, how should one reply when an interviewer asks if you're crazy?
On Wednesday, March 11, I will be the guest on TJ Bennett's blog. I'll be revealing the "story behind the story" about my debut novel, "Fire at Midnight," so please drop by to visit TJ's blog. If you enter a comment, you'll be entered to win a gift basket that will be well worth taking the time to visit!