My interview over at The Art and Craft of Writing Creatively is HERE

Purchase my book Images of America: Detroit Lakes HERE

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Promo: On the Bright Side by S.R. Johannes

On the Bright Side is a hilarious road to guardian angeldom paved with so much drama and due-paying that it makes middle school look painless.

As if the devil’s food cake at her wake and the white fat pants she’s stuck wearing for eternity weren’t bad enough, fourteen year-old Gabby is quick to discover that Cirrus, the main rung of Heaven, is a far cry from the Pearly Gates. Here, Skyphones and InnerNets are all the rage. Until Gabby finds out she has to protect Angela, her school nemesis, in order to move up through the training levels of heaven. Problem is, Angela is now hitting on Gabby's should-have-been boyfriend. (awkward!)

Instead of protecting Angela, Gabby pranks her (like tripping is a sin?) at the hopes of cooling off the new couple. At first, they seem harmless until the school dance sabotage gets completely out of control. Then, her Celestial Sky Agent, who happens to have anger management issues of his own, puts Gabby on probation, threatening her eternal future.

Determined to right her wrongs, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to Earth for just one day. Without knowing, she kicks off a series of events and learns what can happen when you hate someone to death.

Praises for On The Bright Side

"S.R. Johannes delivers a cute paranormal thrill ride for middle graders! Even in death there is a BRIGHT SIDE!" - Addison Moore, author of the bestselling Celestra series and soon to be TV show

Clever and charming, ON THE BRIGHT SIDE is the story of a reluctant guardian angel, her still-breathing crush, and the frenemy she’s assigned to protect. A great read! -Suzanne Young, author of A Need So Beautiful, A Want So Wicket (6/12), and The Program (2013)

“ON THE BRIGHT SIDE is both hilarious and heart-warming – a tale that’ll have you hoping that there really *are* spunky and determined angels like Gabby who’ve got our backs.” - Kristin O’Donnell Tubb, author of Selling Hope & The 13th Sign (2013) (Feiwel & Friends)

"With a smart, snappy heroine and a heart-warming crush, ON THE BRIGHT SIDE is a page-turning new take on guardian angels that left me begging for a sequel!" - Gretchen McNeil, author of Possess and Ten (9/12) (Balzar + Bray)


S.R. Johannes is the author of Untraceable (a teen wilderness thriller) and On The Bright Side ( a tween paranormal).
She started out writing for her local school paper, winning a state Nutrition essay contest for “Be a Smart Cookie”, and singing in a local Jazz band. Somewhere along the way, she earned an MBA in Marketing and embarked on an 18-year marketing career in Corporate America working as a marketing and communications consultant.
In 2000, S.R. traded in her expensive suits, way-too high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing. She started her own marketing & communications business,, and continues creating materials for a variety of large profit and nonprofit clients, including Spanx, Goody Hair Products, Chick Filet, Delta, CARE, and the Boys & Girls Club of America.
S.R.’s dream is to publish children’s books and magically imprint the imaginations of kids. In addition to juggling nap schedules while attending client meetings, Shelli focuses on her writing. She is a frequent marketing speaker at SCBWI conferences across the U.S and runs a popular marketing blog, Market My Words ( where she provides marketing advice for authors in the hopes of helping them better market their words.
In her spare time (yeah right!) and if the kids allow (yeah right!), Shelli obsesses over movies, reads children’s books (over and over), wishes she could squeeze in Bikram Yoga sessions, and dreams of sleeping in on the weekends.
She currently lives in Atlanta with her dog, British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess that someday will change the world.
 If you would like to get periodic author news on my upcoming special edition in Jan or on the release of my future books, please register your email address here. I do not expect to send more than one email a month.
Contact information
Social Media
 Blog  /  Twitter  /  Facebook


Monday, January 30, 2012

Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1) 
By Suzanne Collins
Published: Scholastic Press
Publisher: July 3, 2010
Format: Nook
Source: Personal
Challenge Met: 2012 TBR Pile

When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.

Well what can I say about The Hunger Games that hasn't been said already. This book has been on my TBR pile for awhile now and thanks to Adam @ Roof Beam Reader I finally put it on my list to get read this year (plus the movie is coming out and I didn't want to see that before I read the book).

Almost everyone knows what the plot is to The Hunger Games. It is set in a dystopian world that for fun (like the Romans and the Collosseum) like to pit children from different Districts against each other in a battle to the death. Now each District has certain advantages depending on what their District is noted for. Katniss and Peeta are from District 12, one of the poorest of the Districts. Katniss orignally is not drawn but instead her sister, Prim, is. Katniss knows that Prim would not stand a chance if she goes, so Katniss volunteers to go.

Right away, Katniss and Peeta's sponsors know that they have to be very creative so they play the forlorn lovers angle. Katniss, whose best friend Gale (love triangle alert) is watching back home is forced to go along (or is she?). Katniss and Peeta really compliment each other. Peeta has the strength and Katniss has the brains.

I did enjoy Collin's dystopian world. There is a lot that I know is going to happen in the next two books that I look forward to reading. A caution to all YA readers is that some parts are quite violent but what would you expect when you are fighting to the death. Great read and I think it will be a hit when the movie comes out. Collin's writing is quite visual and I could see some of these scenes play out on the big screen.



Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review: Thread of Death by Jennifer Estep

Thread of Death (Elemental Assassin, e-novella)
by Jennifer Estep
Publish Date: Jan 31, 2012
Publisher: Pocket Books
Format: e-ARC
Source: Author

**I try to make my reviews spoiler free but in some cases it is not possible. My review below does contain spoilers if you have not read Spider's Revenge.**

I couldn't believe the bitch was dead. 

Mab is dead and Estep gives a glimpse into what happens when the assassin pays her respects to the Fire elemental. It is anything less than a blow out. Between every crime boss circling the cemetery to her own sworn enemies sitting graveside, you know things are not going to go smoothly. 

What I loved about Estep's novella is that you get a glimpse into what direction the next installment of the Elemental Assassin series, By a Thread, is going to go. Gin, aka the Spider, still has enemies gunning for her. Philip Kincaid, who we discover has a past with Owen, and Jonah McAllister, who is without a job now that his boss is dead. We see both Philip's and Jonah's point of view. Loved this brief teaser and it has me licking my lips to open By a Thread!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Guest Post+Facebook Competition: An Ode to Bloggers by Terri Giuliano Long

An Ode to Bloggers 

Last May, a month or so after I began marketing my novel, In Leah’s Wake, a former agent told me that I would never sell 500 books. A rookie, I had no idea what to expect. When I published the novel, I’d dreamed of selling a 3,000 – 5,000 books, hoping healthy sales numbers would attract the attention of an agent or traditional publishing house for my next novel.

The agent had left New York, but she’d been in the business for a long time, and her words stung. I hung up the phone, heartbroken, depressed. Had I not been in the midst of my first blog tour, I might have pulled my novel off the market that day.

Determined to see the tour through, I soldiered on. On the tour, I met wonderful, caring people, book bloggers, whose kindness buoyed and sustained me.

Over the next few months, In Leah’s Wake appeared on hundreds of blogs. Bloggers opened their hearts and spread the word about this quiet literary novel. In August, In Leah’s Wake hit the Barnes & Noble and Amazon charts. Now, seven months after my talk with that agent, the book has been in the Amazon top 200 for over five months, and we’ve sold just shy of 80,000 copies.

Book bloggers rock! I don’t know how to say it any better. Book bloggers are the fairy godmothers and godfathers of the literary world. They invest their talent, their energy, and their time into reviewing and promoting books – and keeping dreams alive.

Even today, traditional media refuse to recognize or review indie books. In this very real sense, book bloggers are the heart and soul of the indie revolution. Their vision, their energy, and their determination have enabled this amazing populist movement to take hold.

Today, we have the great good fortune of hearing the funny, poignant, intelligent voices of new authors from around the world - voices that, just a few years ago, might have been silenced by the gatekeepers of the old guard. These voices reach into hearts and minds, forging connections, uniting us in a community of readers and writers, searching for and finding, through words, the better part of ourselves. Because, truly, at heart, this is what reading and writing is all about.

Here’s to you, book bloggers! You are and always will be my heroes!

Terri Giuliano Long is the bestselling author of the award-winning novel In Leah’s Wake. Her life outside of books is devoted to her family. In her free time, she enjoys walking, traveling, and listening to music. True to her Italian-American heritage, she’s an enthusiastic cook. In an alternate reality, she might be an international food writer. She lives with her family on the East Coast and teaches at Boston College. In Leah’s Wake is her debut novel.

Website  /  Blog  /  Twitter  /  Facebook

This week, Terri and Inspired Quill Press (paperback edition), launch a newly edited edition of In Leah’s Wake. The newly edited novel features a new chapter and several new scenes, adding new connections and insights, and tightens the book, cutting 60 pages – all while maintaining the integrity of the original edition.

For more information, please visit her website: or any of these retailer sales. (Your local library or bookstore can also order the book through major distribution channels.)

Terri Giuliano Long
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback, Kindle
ISBN: 1456310542
Publisher: CreateSpace/Inspired Quill Press

***Newly edited by Sara-Jayne Slack, Inspired Quill Press***

The Tylers have a perfect life—beautiful home, established careers, two sweet and talented daughters. Their eldest daughter, Leah, an exceptional soccer player, is on track for a prestigious scholarship. Their youngest, Justine—more responsible than seems possible for her 12 years—just wants her sister’s approval. With Leah nearing the end of high school and Justine a seemingly “together” kid, the parents are set to enjoy a peaceful life…until everything goes wrong. Can this family survive in Leah’s wake?

Margot Livesey, award-winning author of Banishing Verona, calls In Leah's Wake "a beautifully written and absorbing novel."

When happens when love just isn't enough?

Recipient of the CTRR Award for excellence
2011 Book Bundlz Book Pick
Book Bundlz 2011 Favorites, First Place

Praise for In Leah’s Wake

"Sometimes scary, sometimes sad, and always tender." Susan Straight, National Book Award finalist, author Take One Candle Light A Room

"In Leah's Wake is a beautifully written and absorbing novel." Margot Livesey, Award-winning author of Banishing Verona

“Pulled me right along as I continued to make comparisons to my own life.” Jennifer Donovan, 5 Minutes for Books, Top 50 Book Blog

“An incredibly strong debut, this book is fantastic on many fronts.” Naomi Blackburn, Founder Sisterhood of the Traveling Book

The Facebook competition will run from January 23rd January to January 27th on Terri’s Facebook page, under ‘Photo Contest.’ There are two $50 Amazon gift certificates available: one for the best photograph and one for the best caption. Entrants can take a photograph of themselves with their paperback copy of In Leah’s Wake or showing the book on their ereader or laptop, or perhaps get family members and/or pets involved! For the really creative, why not recreate a scene from the book?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Review: Switched by Amanda Hocking

Switched (Trylle, Bk 1)
by Amanda Hocking
Publish Date: Jan 3, 2011
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher via LibraryThing

A couple of things made that day stand out more than any other: it was my sixth birthday, and my mother was wielding a knife.

Having been nearly killed on her sixth birthday, Wendy is set up for a lifetime of wondering what kind of monster is she. After her mother is sent to an asylum, Wendy's life goes on as normal as possible with her protective brother, Matt, and her aunt, Maggie. Bouncing from school to school is what is normal for her. Wendy does not know why she has such a hard time making friends. When a mysterious boy, Finn, approaches her and tells her that in fact, she really is a monster, Wendy is shocked. Thinking back on everything she should have known she was different.

Wendy is Trylle, aka a troll, and a very important one. She is the princess and next in line to rule. Now in Hocking's world, trolls are not ugly beings that live under a bridge. Hocking's trolls are closely related to humans but with abilites, intelligence and beauty the surpass any human. Finn is a tracker and is tasked with bringing her back to her real mother, Elora, Queen of Trylle. Within the Trylle community, located in my very own Minnesota, we discover a magical world of many magical beings. Wendy discovers the boy that she replaced in the human world and instantly feels for her mother who wasn't crazy after all.

Now Wendy must learn what is expected of her and also how to stay alive. There is a warring faction, the Vittra, that wants Wendy for their own and won't stop at nothing to get her. Keeping Wendy safe becomes Finn's mission but his feelings for her start to get in the way and in Trylle, their love cannot be. Lots of secrets are revealed and many more must be uncovered for Wendy to truely come into her own.

Lots of interesting characters and a refreshing storyline makes this first installment an enthralling read. Loved it all and Amanda Hocking has a knack for keeping the reader turning the pages.



Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review+Giveaway: Silent Kills by C.E. Lawrence

Silent Kills
by C.E. Lawrence
Published: December 1, 2011
Publisher: Pinnacle
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback

Candy Nugent wandered into the cavernous room and look around.

Lawrence throws us headlong into a lot of complex relationships and one really deranged serial killer. Lee Campbell is NYPD's only full-time profiler and he has been asked to help on a case being dubbed the "Van Cortlandt Vampire." The serial killer drugs his victims and then drains them completely of blood. Campbell knows that the killings will only escalate. After interviewing the brother of one of the victims, Francois, Campbell instantly feels a bond and wants to help him. Campbell too has been through tragedy with the fall out of the disappearance of his sister which to this day has not been solved. Knowing that Francois will want to do whatever he can, Campbell decides to keep a close eye on him.

One thing that they know they have to do is immerse themselves in the steampunk world that this killer seems to gravitate towards. With the help of Campbell's girlfriend, Kathy, he starts to create a profile of the killer and what the significance is of the draining of blood.

Psychologically this page turner will leave you breathless. The added vulnerability of Campbell and his inner struggles day in and day out will have you fully vested in him and all the supporting characters. Each one has their own flaw but what makes them even more interesting is that the flaw they have do not hinder them for very long. Another aspect that adds to the story is that Lawrence sets her story one year after 9/11. These wounds are still fresh and every character in some way was impacted by the event. The switching view points gives the reader a look into each character and when Lawrence writes from the killer's perspective you literally see inside a mad man.

Great read for anyone that loves a good thriller.


Kensington is giving one winner a copy of Silent Kills by C.E. Lawrence. All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below! US Only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review+Giveaway: Helpless by Daniel Palmer

by Daniel Palmer
Publish Date: January 31, 2012
Publisher: Kensington
Format: ARC
Source: Author

Love can make you do surprising things.

Tom Hawkins lives a relatively normal life. Former Navy SEAL and now soccer coach to his daughter's high school team, his only worries have been his tumultuous relationship with his ex-wife, Kelly, and his daughter, Jill. After Kelly is discovered dead, Tom is prime suspect number one. Now Tom's life is heading downhill fast. A mysterious blog post accuses him of sleeping with one of his students and now the FBI is in town and he is a suspect in a child pornography ring. The only hope that Tom has is getting people to believe that he couldn't possible have anything to do with this. To do this he just might have to reveal what his big secret is and what really ended his marriage. Lucky for him one FBI agent, Rainy, believes in him.

Palmer will have your head spinning again! The intricate storyline leaves you guessing how and why and when all is revealed you are just amazed. You really get to thinking about how technology impacts lives today. How one blog post or sext can ruin someone's life. Completely believable in all aspects. The reader is also fully invested in Jill and Tom's relationship and you hope that they will finally patch up their trust issues.

This is the second novel that Palmer has written and he did not let me down. If you love a good mystery/thriller you will love Helpless. If you haven't read Delirious yet, Palmer's first novel, than I highly suggest you grab that one too!




Kensington is offering one winner a copy of Helpless. US only. Just fill out the the Rafflecopter form below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Interview+Giveaway: Aaron Lazar

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi, Kelsey, thanks so much for having me here today. Here’s a little bit about me: First and foremost, I’m a husband, father, and grandfather. My family is everything to me and I adore them. Although my day job is engineering, I’m a writer by passion. I’ve spent the last ten years writing like mad, creating three mystery series that are based in the country. Nature is a big part of all of the series, as well as big families, animals, and lots of good food. I do have some pretty nasty villains who haunt my characters and who must be ultimately dealt with, but I believe in happy endings for the most part, and try to always end on an upbeat note. You can read about my sixteen books here: 

Can you tell us about your book For the Birds
Absolutely. ;o) I had started writing FOR THE BIRDS just before I was laid off from Kodak in April of 2009. I had been craving the Adirondacks – big time – and I wanted to set a new series up there in the glorious majesty of the six million acre state park. Because I was laid off, I suddenly had TIME (which I’d never had before, it seemed) and my wife and I found a very inexpensive rustic cabin to stay at so I could write and try to recover from the shock of losing my job of 28 years. It ended up that the layoff was one of the best things to happen to me – it enabled me to visit and write about Tall Pines (the place we stayed), plus I wrote two other books in the same time frame. A year later, I also got the best “day job” of my life, a great engineering job in a small German company. It’s Heaven!

Here’s a synopsis of the first of three books in this series, For the Birds: 

No one could accuse Marcella Hollister's family of being normal. Her gorgeous Native American husband, Quinn, has a compulsive cleaning problem – which works for her, since she gets a pass on housework. Her mother, who insists on being called Thelma, loves picking on Quinn. And then there's Ruby. Sometimes Marcella isn't sure who Quinn loves more, his wife or his prized parakeet.

While mourning the death of her stepfather, Marcella and family head for the Adirondack National Bird Show for a much-needed vacation. But when Thelma falls into a hotel pool with Ruby dragging twinkling lights behind her, plans change. Electricity zaps through the water, creating a bizarre psychic link between woman and bird.

When Thelma is kidnapped from her hospital bed, the FBI shows up asking questions about Thelma’s inheritance, which may be linked to the largest unsolved robbery in U.S. history.

Through mountains, rivers, and across the rugged Adirondack Park landscape, a brutal scenario evolves, where the good guys aren’t what they seem, and only Ruby’s newly acquired “Thelma-vision” gives hope for survival. 

What was your favorite part of the writing process of For the Birds?
I adored being in the gorgeous Adirondack Mountains, sitting beside the Sacandaga River and imagining the wild escapades of my characters. I fell in love with that river – its soft murmur, its calming presence, its age-old wisdom… and the rustic cabin we stayed at (called Tall Pines) was just the PERFECT place to set a mystery. So, Marcella and Quinn Hollister stayed at Tall Pines like we did – they took the same hikes, the same swims in the river… it was so cool. 

Where did the idea of For the Birds come from? 
Although this sounds really lame, Kelsey, it honestly came to me in a dream. Ruby – Quinn and Marcella Hollister’s pet ring-necked parrot who is featured as one of the important elements of For the Birds – sat on my shoulder in my dream, nuzzling my neck. She was soft, and her feathers were a ruby-tangerine color. I dreamed we were taking her to a bird show in the Adirondacks, a place called “The Aviary”, which featured a three-story glass enclosure where birds could fly and meet ‘n greet! LOL. It was so powerful, so real, that I had to write about it. I didn’t intend to have a third mystery series (I already had LeGarde Mysteries [10 books] and Moore Mysteries [3 books], so I didn’t NEED another series to write.) But it just happened, and now I’m on the third book in the Tall Pines Mysteries, called Sanctuary. 

Who was the hardest character to write?
They all came pretty easily to me this time around. They just wrote themselves, and I sat back for the ride! 

What is the most interesting comment you have received so far concerning For the Birds?
I was happy to see that almost every reviewer so far has said, “I didn’t see THAT coming!” (re. the surprise ending). Glad I made it believable enough that they loved it, yet not obvious enough that they guessed the truth! 

What has been the best advice you have ever been given? 
It came from my father, Kelsey. He always said, “Moderation in everything, Aaron. Moderation in everything.” Heh. Too bad I could never listen to it! (with sixteen books and hopefully many more dozens to come, I don’t see to be doing any of this in moderation!) 

If you could ask yourself any interview question, what would you ask, and how would you answer it?
Question: How did you write this book from a woman’s POV? 
Answer: By living with my wife, three daughters, and mother-in-law for the past decades. ;o) and watching lots of Lifetime TV with my wife! I usually let her pick whatever she wants to watch, because I’m usually writing, anyway. Ha. I tried so hard to think like I thought a woman would think, to look at Quinn as a woman would (that was hard sometimes!), and not to flinch when I “channeled” Marcella, talking about makeup and pit stains and desire for a man. 

When you aren’t writing, what do you like to do? 
Aside from hanging out with my wife, daughters, and grandchildren, I love to garden. I do it obsessively, with fruit, veggies, and flowers. Also, I’m an avid photographer, hiker, the household chef, and I adore piano and French Impressionist art. Lately I’ve become obsessed with Indian cultures, which is why my current book features a beautiful, mute, Seneca girl. 

What is coming up next for you?
Audio books! I have five audio books coming out in the next few weeks, including one for For the Birds. You can listen to them here!

Also, I have seven books coming out in the next six months. Here are the dates and titles: 

DOUBLE FORTÉ (coming, FEB 2012, author’s preferred edition, 2012, eBook and print) 
UPSTAGED (coming, JUNE, 2012 author’s preferred edition, 2012, eBook and print)

FOR KEEPS (coming, MAY 2012)


Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. The author of LeGarde Mysteries, Moore Mysteries, and Tall Pines Mysteries enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at and watch for his upcoming Twilight Times Books releases, ESSENTIALLY YOURS (2012), TERROR COMES KNOCKING (2011), FOR KEEPS (2012), DON’T LET THE WIND CATCH YOU (2012), and the author’s preferred editions of DOUBLE FORTÉ and UPSTAGED (2012).

Aaron is offering one lucky winner a pdf copy of FOR THE BIRDS! International giveaway and all you have to do is fill out the rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review: The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau

The Crown
by Nancy Bilyeau
Publish Date: January 10, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: e-ARC
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

When a burning is announced, the taverns of Smithfield order extra barrels of ale, but when the person to be executed is a woman and one of noble birth, the ale comes by the cartload.

Sister Joanna Stafford thought she was only going to go be by her cousin's side as she was being executed. She never imagined she would become embroiled in a cat and mouse chase to find the Athelstan crown that is reported to be hidden in her abbey. Having chosen to live the religious life, she never wanted to be part of the deceitful world of the Tudor court. Having no choice but to do what Bishop Gardiner tasks her to do, Joanna heads back to Dartford with her fellow friars to began her search. Each are given a secret task that they must do but in order to free her father, Joanna must discover what the friars are also hiding.

Joanna's character is unique in that even though she wants to lead the religious life, she also wants to know the truth and knows that not all things can be the work of the Lord. She is very intelligent and able to piece all the clues together. The back story of King Athelstan and history of the crown adds to an unique aspect to the Tudor thriller.

A few things that for me didn't work was the forced romance that was scattered throughout. I felt it didn't really add anything unless Bilyeau would have expanded a bit more. The ending also left me wondering what the future holds for Joanna and her sister just kind of ended.

But besides that, I enjoyed Bilyeau's writing. She made you feel that you were riding on that cart, heading towards Smithfield and feeling that trepidation knowing that you will see your cousin execution. The descriptions were vivid and you can tell that there was a lot of research put into this book. Great for anyone that loves Tudor era historical fiction.