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Archive for May, 2012

Free Book Friday! 5-18

Friday, May 18th, 2012


Today’s book is  The Tower at Stony Wood by Patricia A. McKillip

         ISBN 9780441008292



We will choose one winner at random from comments we receive here on the Blog from PBS members.



You have until Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 12 noon EDT,  to leave a comment.

Good Luck to everyone!

Author Interview with Abigail Roux

Thursday, May 17th, 2012











Interview with Abigail Roux by Mary (kilchurn)

Abigail Roux is a gay fiction author with Dreamspinner Press and Riptide Publishing.  She has nine novels and four ebooks available.  Her tenth novel, Armed and Dangerous (Cut & Run, Book 5) will be released tomorrow, May 18th.  She was born and raised in North Carolina. A past volleyball star who specializes in pratfalls and sarcasm, she currently spends her time coaching middle school volleyball and softball and dreading the day when her little girl hits that age. Abigail has a baby girl she calls Boomer, four rescued cats, one dog, a crazyass extended family, and a cast of thousands in her head.


Special thanks to our members, Issa S. (Issa-345), Denise L. (fangrrl) and Kim M. (RomanceLuvr) for their interview questions.


How has it been writing books without Madeline?

It’s been an easier transition than I would have imagined.  I knew I could write a solo book because I had done it before plenty of times, and I’ve found that all the tasks that are difficult with a co-writer – deciding on plot points, naming a character, finding the right time of the day to write – are much easier when it’s just me making the decisions. The biggest difference so far has been the time it takes to produce a fully formed novel; where before it would take nearly a year for us together, I’m now able to finish a project in about 2 months.


You set up playlists for all of your books. How do you come up with the lists?

I like music, and I love the way music can make you feel at certain times of your life. I also like to listen to music when I write because it works as a dampener for my brain, it cuts off all the daily distraction and lets me focus on the story. So at first I would put together playlists for myself to write to, full of songs that either helped with the mood of a story or reminded me of a certain scene or feeling or character. When the book was done and published, I would look at this playlist and think, ‘What do I do with it now?’ We decided that readers might like them too, and I finally realized that it was another way to torture readers who are impatiently waiting for the next releases!


What books are in your “To Be Read” pile?

I always cringe when I admit this to readers, but I have a very small TBR pile. I know the advice to most writers is to be a voracious reader, but let’s be real here. I’m a single mother with a 3-year old who appears to be smarter than I am, so my free time is pretty rare. When I do get a few hours, I’m usually plotting, writing, or trying to watch a ballgame. But when I do find that I can sit and enjoy a book, I go for the summer blockbuster types, anything that combines action with history, knowledge with gunfire, I love it! Steve Berry, James Rollins, Preston and Child. I love Elizabeth Peters and could read her Amelia Peabody series a thousand times over.


What would be the name of your unauthorized biography?

Drugged & Amused. I’ve been injured and hurt so often since I was 14 years old, I feel like I’ve spent my entire life on painkillers or recovering from an injury.


Aside from the Cut and Run series, what other new projects do you have on the horizon?

I’ve got a number of projects that are in various stages of disaster. I’ve got a ghost story that comes out in October. As for stuff that hasn’t been submitted, I have a baseball story that I’m still tweaking, a treasure hunt that needs some more research, a detective story that needs a crime, and a few others that are basically just a scene or an idea in my Cryogenic Suspension folder.


With the upcoming release of Armed and Dangerous, your readers have some questions specific to Ty and Zane.


Ty has always been your character. Do you feel you know Zane well enough to make him your own as well?

I had my doubts when I first started working Armed & Dangerous alone, but it only took a few days for me to get into the character and feel comfortable with him. Readers might detect subtle changes, but they’re supposed to. The characters are growing and changing, and I think I’ve got a handle on them both.


You’ve said there are at least 9 books planned. Has the whole series been mapped out in your head all along or have the characters taken you in some different directions.

The bare bones of the series have been mapped out in my head for a while. With each book subtle things change, both to the plot of that book and to the series, but in the end I’ll get us to the same place. Mostly.


What do you enjoy most about writing this series?

I love these characters. I enjoy everything about it, from the creation of the stories to the fan reactions to the momentary panic when I can’t get my laptop to turn on. But in the end, my favorite thing about it is the characters themselves. I see a lot of myself in Ty and Zane, and I think readers do as well. They’re real and relatable, but still over-the-top action heroes that most people will never be. The dichotomy is what makes them so much fun.


What are the challenges in writing this series?

I don’t think it comes with any unusual challenges. Keeping the characters consistent, making sure the quality of the storytelling and the writing stays high, walking a tightrope between tension and romance, making sure the plots stay relevant and provide an interesting backdrop for the romance aspect of the story. I like to think I do all of the above for everything I write. The massive following Ty and Zane have accumulated can get a little overwhelming at times, and in the past few months I’ve seen a lot of people questioning whether I can handle the series solo. I hope I can answer that question May 18th when Armed & Dangerous releases, but the doubt in people’s minds has weighed on me at times.


Some of Ty and Zane’s fans have written fanfic and some of them have even set them up on tumblr! How do you feel about this? Do you read or follow any of it?

I think it’s kind of awesome! People love the characters, and fanfiction is a way to stay close to a character or story you love. I’m flattered and I hope RPers and fanficcers are having fun.


There has been some criticism about some of the side characters in the Cut and Run series. How do you handle fan criticism?

I try to handle it with grace and understanding (read that as silence), but sometimes I just have to shut the laptop and step away. I’ve seen a lot of criticism about the characters’ actions, especially in Divide & Conquer. The characters do what I tell them. Once I put that character in ink, it’s out of my hands how a reader interprets him or her, and I don’t really mind if readers love or hate a character. The one time it got nasty for me was when I was accused of introducing a character as a lazy plot device. I take pride in the way I weave a story, so when someone with no knowledge of my overall plan tells me that Character A served no purpose, it’s insulting, to say the least.


Without giving anything away, can you give us some generalities of where you are going to take Ty and Zane in this series? We assume there are still relationship issues to work through.

I’m going to take them to Hell and back!  Mwuahahahaha!  No, really. I hope to take them to a place where both men are fulfilled, and that readers will love seeing.


If Ty and Zane each had their own “song”? What would it be?

This is a harder question to answer than I thought it would be. I see songs in two ways: the lyrics speaking a message to you, and then the overall feeling of the song. So since the lyrics change as the stories do, I’ll go with the songs that FEEL like Ty and Zane. Ty: Rockin’ Pneumonia & the Boogie Woogie Flu by Johnny Rivers. It’s a loose, happy song that makes your feet bounce and the world feel like a party, and I think of Ty every time it comes up on my iPod. Zane: Like Red on a Rose by Alan Jackson. It’s smooth and calm with an edge of dark sadness, but it’s still beautiful and sexy.


The covers for the Cut and Run Series were the inspiration for this interview.  I was standing in the elevator at the hospital heading for a mammogram, when a lady in the elevator saw carrying “Fish and Chips.”  She asked me if I was reading a cookbook.  I was extremely thankful for the life preserver on the cover.  That being said, the covers for this series are very non-typical for the genre.  How did you decide on them versus a cover with people on it?

Ever since I first got published, I’ve requested of my publishers that I don’t want naked manchest, and I don’t want faces on my covers. The former is for obvious reasons, and the latter is because I want the readers to form their own picture of the characters, not what me or a cover artist imagine. I don’t like people on my covers. When we were looking for an idea for the Cut & Run title, we came across a lot of different images. When I saw the knife, I fell in love with the idea. Simple. Elegant. Easily turned into a series if we wished to write more. And it was most certainly different from anything else being done at that time, or even still being done. I fought for that style of cover and for that knife. My co-author hated it and nixed it right away. But the cover artist loved it for the same reasons I did, and after months of trying to convince everyone that sometimes less is more when you’re trying to grab attention on a bookshelf, the books got the covers they now have. I still stand by my style of covers, both for this series, and for most of my solo works. I think they’re striking, and I think just because it’s fiction, M/M, or erotica, doesn’t mean it can’t have a beautiful, nude-free cover.


I’ve been wondering about Zane’s family and if we’ll read more about them? Ty’s family has been seen, and given readers insight into Ty’s personality development. But other than the deceased wife and a couple passing comments, we do not have much info on Zane.

When I took over the series, I also took over Zane, his back story, and his development. Readers will get to meet his family and see where he comes from, and yes it will take an entire book to do it!


Is T-Shirt hell giving you a cut for pitching their products? Are you still getting Ty’s T-shirt sayings from there?

I don’t get all of the T-shirts from there, but I have gotten some ideas in the past. I’m an affiliate, and can link to them with their permission. I try to make sure that the shirts Ty wears are real shirts that readers can find and buy, but sometimes I just make them up.


Several readers have commented on Ty’s resemblance to Dean Winchester.  What do you think of that and are you incorporating some of Dean into writing Ty?

After I had my daughter, I spent many nights sitting up with her, holding her as she slept and nursing, and I ran through all the DVD series I owned and had never watched. Supernatural was one of those, and I fell in love with the show. But I remember sitting and watching and thanking my lucky stars that I had formed Ty’s character and already had two of the books published before I ever saw an episode of Supernatural. Dean and Ty were so very similar that it was uncanny. I love Dean Winchester, he’s obviously the type of character that I identify with and admire. But I’m glad that I can say with all honesty that Ty was not modeled on him. Sometimes I do see Jensen Ackles/Dean when I’m writing Ty, it’s the attitude that does it, and there might be some unconscious incorporating. I try to keep Ty his own man, though, and simply admire Dean from my couch.


I just finished reading Caught Running and the setting is one very familiar to me as a graduated from a High School in that county.  How is it you are so knowledgeable of that area?

Honestly, Caught Running was meant to be everyone’s high school. We tried to keep the details to a minimum, to give the town and school a name but nothing that your own memory of your own high school couldn’t overcome. We wanted the reader to identify with the setting as well as the men. I picked the high school because I’m an Atlanta Braves fan, and I knew it was a nice big school where athletes would have been scouted hard (and because the school colors, orange and blue, were my school colors too!)


And now for the silly stuff:

Onion Rings or French Fries? Onion rings. I love onion breath.

Coke or Pepsi? Pepsi, but only insofar as that’s the closest one to Dr Pepper.

M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces? Reese’s Pieces. Not a fan of chocolate at all.

Anchovies or No Anchovies? None, please. I don’t like the way they look at me.

Bugs Bunny or the Flintstones? Bugs Bunny, but only by a hare.

Early Bird or Night Owl? Most definitely a night owl. I like it when the world calms.

Steak or Chicken? Steak.

Red Wine or White Wine? I don’t like to judge my alcohol on color. I like my drinks fruity!

Folgers or Maxwell House ?  Neither. Just the smell of coffee makes me want to yark.

Beach or the Mountains? Beach, usually. But sometimes the mountains call my name.


Ms. Roux has generously offered a copy of her new book Armed and Dangerous to a member who comments on this Blog. A Winner will be chosen at Random. Good Luck!.


Historical Fiction Review – Her Highness, The Traitor

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Her Highness, the Traitor by Susan Higginbotham

Review by Jerelyn (I-F-Letty)


Susan Higginbotham’s Her Highness, the Traitor, is what great historical fiction should always be.  Ms. Higginbotham is not a litigator but she is a lawyer and has a lawyer’s sensibility, and I think that is why she is uniquely qualified to present a case about historical people who have been so maligned or misunderstood, and why she is so good at it.  Her research as always, is impeccable. While I do not always agree with her conclusions I trust that she has been diligent in her fact finding.  Her hypothesis is always thought provoking and very interesting to read.

Now about the book, I had only a pedestrian’s knowledge of the reign of Edward VI, and then Lady Jane Grey’s, tragic nine day reign.  I have read that the parents of Lady Jane had brutally forced her into a marriage with Guildford Dudley, and then forced them to claim the throne as the Queen and her consort.  I heard that Jane was intelligent, but I never realized just how intelligent, nor did I know that she had nearly become a martyr to the Protestant cause (had they had such things.)  Nor did I realize her writings on the reformation where so widely published.

Ms. Higginbotham is just the author to strip away all the salacious nonsense.  Jane’s parents have been portrayed by the “poor Jane” camp as abusive and uncaring.  Guildford Dudley’s parents have been portrayed as murderous, power hungry, opportunists. The question here is: was The Duke of Northumberland following his King’s last wishes to see his Protestant cousin Lady Jane on the throne, opposed to his “illegitimate”, Catholic half sister the Lady Mary on the throne? Ms. Higginbotham thankfully gives a balanced portrayal of these two powerful protestant families. Where they ambitious?  Well yeah! Was that unusual? NO!

My only criticism is a small one.   I had to go back and forth in the beginning to see who was telling the story, but I ironed that out early on, and I thoroughly enjoyed this book. 4 stars

Her Highness, the Traitor will be released on June 1, 2012.


The Places Where We Live – Mobile, Alabama

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Mobile, Alabama – The Azalea City


By Cynthia M. (clariail)


I guess that you could say that I am a Southerner and have the drawl to prove it. At least, according to what I have been told when traveling outside of the South. I was born in Arizona but we moved back to Alabama when I was six months old or so. The only other time when I have lived outside of Bama was when we lived in Conway Arkansas for a couple of years. We did move multiple times in Alabama until my parents settled on Mobile when I was in high school which would have been around 1971. That makes me feel so old! I love living in Mobile and don’t foresee ever moving away even if that means I have to put up with heat, humidity and mosquitoes. I’ll just keep the AC cranked up and the bug spray handy.

City of Mobile is located in Mobile County which is the second most populated county in the state. Mobile has a population of more than a quarter of a million people in the metropolitan area that covers 128 square miles. Even though Mobile offers the amenities and infrastructure of a major metropolitan area, it has retained its sense of community and friendliness. I don’t feel like that I live in a large city. I can get to major shopping areas, downtown, and great restaurants within 10-20 minutes. We are also close to great beaches such as Gulf Shores and Dauphin Island, about a 45 minute drive or so.

Brief History:
Mobile began as the first capital of colonial French Louisiana in 1702. The city gained its name from the Native American Mobilian tribe that the French colonists found in the area of Mobile Bay During its first 100 years, Mobile was a colony for France, then Britain, and lastly Spain. Mobile first became a part of the United States of America in 1810, with the annexation of West Florida under President James Madison. It then left that union in 1861 when Alabama joined the Confederate States of America, which collapsed in 1865.

Absorb Mobile Bay’s unique history as you view artifacts detailing the city’s earliest beginnings to modern day heroes at innovative museums. Explore a mighty battleship (USS Alabama) from stem to stern or relive history aboard a World War II submarine. Enjoy nature at its finest and visit one of our unrivaled gardens. Blooming year round, these gardens are a part of our city everyone must see. Recapture the true spirit of Southern history on the veranda of an antebellum home. Check out the latest scientific discoveries through hands on exhibits or sit back and watch an IMAX movie. Greyhound races run nightly, so grab a bite to eat and cheer on the dogs. Any time of the year, on any day of the week, Mobile Bay is teeming with energy.

For the museum lovers out there, we have several to choose from as well as several art galleries. On the 2nd Friday of each month, there is the Loda Art Walk held in the downtown area where art galleries, institutions, studios and unique shops open their doors and welcome you inside to see beautiful artwork, sample delicous foods and hear the sounds of the LoDa Artwalk.

If you enjoy golf, we have twenty one world class golf courses that you can have your pick to play. My husband has tried several of them and enjoyed each one.

For those who enjoy baseball, we have the Mobile Bay Bears of the Double-A Southern League, a farm team of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

And of course for the Party Goers among you, we have Mardi Gras. Mobile is not only recognized as celebrating the first-known American Mardi Gras celebration in 1703 (yes, even before New Orleans), but also as home to the “America’s Family Mardi Gras” delighting both young and old from around town and across the nation. This magnificent celebration lasts for over two and a half weeks and culminates on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent. For weeks, the streets of downtown Mobile are filled with the sights and sounds of live marching bands, brilliant-colored floats and of course teeming crowds of parade goers. The floats are glowing spectacles manned by masked riders festooned in satin and sequins, and armed with crowd-pleasing “throws” such as beads, moon pies, doubloons and candy.
Each year it expands a little bit more as more of the towns close to Mobile choose to have their own celebrations but they all occur during the couple of weeks that make up the Mardi Gras celebration. There is also the Mobile Carnival Museum where you may learn more about the history of Mardi Gras and see some of the beautiful outfits worn by the previous Kings and Queens that have presided over the celebration.

If you enjoy fresh seafood, we have plenty of places that you can find it both here in Mobile and in the neighboring cities and county. You can either choose from the great restaurants that we have or if you wish to prepare it yourself, there are plenty of shops to buy it fresh.

Mobile’s geographical location on the Gulf of Mexico provides a mild subtropical climate, with hot, humid summers and mild, rainy winters. The record low temperature is −1 °F (−18 °C), set on February 13, 1899, and the record high is 105 °F (41 °C), set on August 29, 2000.

A 2007 study by WeatherBill, Inc. determined that Mobile is the wettest city in the contiguous 48 states, with 66.3 inches (1,680 mm) of average annual rainfall over a 30-year period. Mobile averages 120 days per year with at least 0.01 inches (0.3 mm) of rain. Snow is rare in Mobile, with the last snowfall being on February 12, 2010.

Mobile is occasionally affected by major tropical storms and hurricanes. Hurricane Frederick 1979, Hurricane Opal 1995, Hurricane Ivan 2004, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Public schools in Mobile are operated by the Mobile County Public School System. The Mobile County Public School System has an enrollment of over 65,000 students, employs approximately 8,500 public school employees. The State of Alabama operates the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science on Dauphin Street in Mobile, which boards advanced Alabama high school students. It was founded in 1989 to identify, challenge, and educate future leaders.

Mobile also has a large number of private schools, most of them being parochial in nature.

Major colleges and universities in Mobile that are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools include the University of South Alabama, Spring Hill College, the University of Mobile, Bishop State Community College, and Faulkner University.

I hope that you have enjoyed learning a little about my home town. I have loved sharing it with you and if you ever come this way, drop me a message as I would love to meet you.






From Fort to Port: An Architecural History of Mobile, Alabama by Elizabeth Barrett Gould


Keeping Hearth & Home in Old Alabama compiled and edited by Carol Padgett


Belle’s Letters: Contemporary Fiction by Alabama Women edited by Joe Taylor and Tina M. Jones


Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson


Baseball in Mobile by Joe Cuhaj, Tamra Carraway-Hinckle




Mystery Monday – Whistling In the Dark

Sunday, May 13th, 2012


Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagen

Review by Gail P. (TinkerPirate)


It’s funny how things work out sometimes. Whistling in the Dark is a book I picked up on one of my semi-annual trips to Half Price Books (yes, I do sometimes “cheat” on PBS and actually buy books….but, if none of us ever “cheated”, we would all just be swapping the same old books around and around and around….right?). I’m not really sure why I bought it – other than it was in the clearance section for $2 – because when I got it home, I didn’t end up reading it. It languished on Mt. TBR until I decided I was probably never going to read it and put it on My Bookshelf where it languished for a number of months more. When it was requested this week, I took it down, dusted it off, read the back cover, and decided I’d give it a try before I sent it off to a new home.

Boy, am I ever glad I did! This book really resonated with me. It’s the kind of book that when I finished it (not more than 5 minutes ago), I just sat in the chair and smiled.

Whistling in the Dark is a book about a family going through “a hard patch”. The father died, the mother got remarried to a good-for-very-little-loser, the mother gets sick and spends the majority of the book in the hospital with the children living with stepfather who would much rather look into the bottom of a bottle than the eyes of his step-children, all the while there is a pedophile/murderer on the loose…..and, if the story hadn’t been told through the eyes of 10-year old Sally O’Malley, it could have been a very sad story.

At this point in the Blog, I should tease you with an artfully written description of the book. But, I’m not going to do that. There are already plenty of reviews in the system that tell you what the book is about. What I’d rather do is tell you why the book made me smile.

You see, like Sally, I am the product of the 1950s MidWest. It was a place and time where you knew your neighbors and what they had for dinner because you could smell it cooking through the open windows. It was a place and time where you didn’t lock your doors, you left the keys in the ignition of the car, and, during the summer, children roamed free from after breakfast until after the street lights came on. It was a time and place where the heat and humidity would make you think you couldn’t take another breath or another step until a neighbor kid called you over to play Red Light-Green Light. It was a time without air conditioning, but a place with a pond that was just the right temperature to cool you off.

The time and place Lesley Kagen created reminded me so much of when and where and how I grew up….carefree….surrounded by a neighborhood full of kids – some friends, some not friends, and some just plain evil – and full of parents that considered you just an extended part of the family so, when you showed up at dinner time or at bedtime because little Susie asked to you to come to dinner or spend the night, there was no question and another plate was added to the table or an extra pillow thrown on the bed. Like Sally’s neighborhood, we had a park with a summer activities program where we made lanyards, played games, and traded secrets. My little town had a store that sold real penny candy, a drug store with a soda counter, and a little movie theater. Heck, we even had the kid that would ramble about nekkid.

And, while Sally’s definitions of “grown-up” concepts seem silly to me now, they are completely relatable to the younger me who once asked my mother in front of a whole living room of Pinochle payers what a “social disease” was.

Yup, this book really made me smile…………………………………




What books to NOT order for Mother’s Day gifts

Sunday, May 13th, 2012


While books always make great gifts, remember:

Timing is of the essence



The South Beach Diet by Arthur Agatston, MD

Mother’s Day is not a day to tell Mom she needs to lose weight!


The Lost Art of House Cleaning by Jan M Dougherty

If is isnt clean enough for you, then clean it for her!


It Ain’t Easy Getting Old, Stay Old and Getting Older by AT Emann

She already knows this. ’nuff said.



Be CentsAble: How to Cut Your Household Budget in Half by Chrissy pate and Kristin McKee

She has already spent a small fortune feeding and clothing you, she knows how to budget. And the first chapter may be “Kick your grown children out”



Dare to Repair A Do-it-Herself Guide by Julie Sussman & Stephanie Glakas-Tenet

If it is broke, you probably broke it. Fix it for her!


Family Favorite Recipes

Mother’s Day is not a day for Mom to cook! Take her out to eat. If you can’t afford Dinner, take her to brunch. If you can’t afford brunch, take her for an ice cream cone!


Other items to avoid:

Household appliances, miracle wrinkle creams, orthopedic shoes, walking canes and IOUs.


Happy Mother’s Day to all of our members!

Free Book Friday on Thursday Winners!

Saturday, May 12th, 2012



The Winners of the Free Book Friday on Thursday Contest are


 Ellen K. and Heather H.



Congratulations , your copies of House Rules are on the way!!

Thank you to everyone who left a comment.