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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

I received a handsome hardback copy of Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier (translated by Anthea Bell) from the German Book Office in New York City.  It's always a very happy occasion to get a book in the mail.

Gwen Shepherd has never felt special compared to her cousin Charlotte, who is being specially groomed and inducted into a secret society that will help her manage her time travel gene. But it turns out that the gene landed on Gwen, who is completely unprepared, never having paid much attention in history class. Now Gwen is caught in the middle of esoteric lore and a feud she had no idea was taking place. She can't figure it all out during the course of this book, so stay tuned for the next installments.

Gwen's naivete is refreshing, but I find it bizarre that she isn't more interested in history (her friend has to Google everything for her), because not only is she a time traveler, but she can also see and speak with ghosts. In this book at least, her attitude seems to open up only when presented with the interesting fashions, so she seems almost as superficial as her travel partner thinks she is.

The most frustrating thing about the plot, which made it seem slow for me, was the lack of communication between Gwen and the adults in her life, inside the secret society and out. She seems to feel she isn't important to them, even when she realizes that they've been wasting their attention on Charlotte all this time. I was shouting at her through the page when she couldn't find a moment to tell her mother that she was in imminent danger of disappearing. Come on, girl! This is more important than any other concern your mother might have! Then, the adults and her similar-aged travel companion (and love interest) who are members of the secret society, continue to be secretive. It's supposed to add to the mystery, but all the hush-hush made me feel that there actually wasn't a lot happening.

There are a few very exciting scenes and I especially enjoyed scenes in which Gwen speaks with ghosts. This books is really well translated, transmitting a childlike relish to the story that's a thrill to read. I think I would like Ruby Red even better if it hadn't stopped where it did, but continued with whatever adventures and mysteries are to come in the next books, Sapphire Blue and Emerald Green. This first book wasn't very long, and will be much more satisfying when the reader can enjoy the entire trilogy all at once.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Winners Have Been Notified

The winners of the blog hop have been contacted, and some have already received their prizes! Enjoy!

Congratulations to the winners and thanks so much to everyone who dropped by to enter. I appreciate all my readers and followers.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Readers!! Last Chance for Great Prizes!!

To be entered to win your choice of an astonishing panoply of e-books, go to this post and enjoy. This is the last day -- winners are drawn tomorrow. Good luck!

Note: I'm really looking for FANS on Goodreads. Friends are nice, too, but it's FANS I lack.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

SSS: Will Young Gonzalo See Reason?

A pageant of Los Siete Infantes in Castrillo de la Reina, Spain.
In such a situation as I've been posting these several weeks, nobody's in the right. But Gonzalo isn't quite ready to admit any wrongdoing (following from last week):

* * *

 “Gonzalico, you’re half dead and there must be a hundred of them!” his oldest brother Diego tried to reason with him.
Crouching close to his ear, Fernando González, told his youngest brother, “Don’t you think it’s unpardonable to have caused such a scene at our uncle’s wedding?” 
But even as he was unable to keep his own feet under him, Gonzalo shook his head and tried to wield a sword. Doña Sancha threw her hands up in despair. The clattering soldiers crushing in upon them, she looked to her husband. With a nod toward her, don Gonzalo Gustioz took his youngest son into his arms and kept him from falling, from grasping at weapons, or even from speaking.

* * * 

UPDATE: Yes, father and son have the same name. "-ico" is a diminutive for the younger one. All the brothers have the last name "González" because it's a patronymic. The elder (don) Gonzalo's father was Gustio, hence his patronymic "Gustioz." I'll put together a family chart and post it next week for anyone who's interested to come and see!

Thanks so much for the encouragement last week! This week I'm not sure about (what's new?), so as always, I appreciate comments.

Check out the new excerpt page for this WIP in the upper left!

I'll be taking a break from SSS in September to celebrate my anniversary and to devote more time to writing and my editing job. We'll see how long I can stay away. Please look for me in October!

And the other wonderful sixes are here.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

It's Getting Closer: World Rhino Day for Sweet Saturday Sample

World Rhino Day is September 22. Show your support by spreading the word: Rhino Horn is Not Medicine.

Here's another sweet excerpt from my story, "Not Extinct Yet." It shows some of the horrors of poaching, but nothing's on-screen, so the whole story merits a PG at worst. It will be published someday! Two important things for this snippet: 1. Winifred and Jenna are both white rhinoceroses, while Suzanne is human. 2. The classification of rhinos actually has nothing to do with color.

All babies love their mamas.

* * *

Winifred cleared her throat again. “Well, I’ve heard that your sound man is starting to get bored with us. I wondered if it would help your research to know that black rhinos wouldn’t be so fierce if you announced your presence verbally before you got too close.”
Suzanne’s jaw dropped. “We’ve been trying to figure out what to do about them!” Suzanne made a mental note to ask a rhinoceros the next time she needed to figure out something about a rhinoceros.
The sound guy poked his head out of the Jeep. “I’ve got a megaphone right here. We’re tracking a black rhino about ten miles away.”
“I’ll help!” exclaimed Jenna. She ran alongside the Jeep as they rumbled across the countryside, slowing and stopping as soon as Suzanne could see the black rhino through binoculars.
She hopped out and looked at Jenna. “I’m not sure what to say,” she admitted.
“Hold that in front of my mouth,” said Jenna. She took a deep breath and shouted into the megaphone. “Hey! Black rhino! We’re a white rhinoceros and a few humans. We don’t want to hurt you! We want to talk to you!”

* * *

And don't forget, my collection Threads Woven is available for Kindle and Nook. Nice stuff, so little money!

Check out the other sweet samples here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Blog "Schedule"

The most requested new subjects for posts when I did my reader survey last month were "things I like," and "history."

Good thing I like history!

So, for this new year of blogging, I plan to keep to the following schedule except in cases of special events:

Mondays will feature something I like or love. When I have new book reviews, they'll appear on Mondays.

Wednesdays will be "history," broadly interpreted. If anyone has suggestions for Wednesday history topics, lob them this way! When I have new author interviews, they'll also go up on Wednesdays.

Fridays will be open. This is meant to be the time for any news about my writing and/or publishing. If I don't post anything on a Friday, it doesn't mean I'm not thinking of you.

Saturdays will feature the sweet excerpts for Sweet Saturday Samples, unless I can't find anything sweet enough. I really support them! Way to go, gals!

Sunday is the territory of Six Sentence Sunday, which has hooked me like a fish. I'm going to see if I can skip it in September to devote more time to the actual writing process. Wish me luck!

Oh, yes, they have catwalk fashion shows for flamenco style, oh yes.
So, even though it's Wednesday, I'd like to catch up with Monday by saying that I love polka dots. Especially red ones. Hence the new look for the blog.

I first enjoyed the polka dot glamour of the trajes de gitana in Andalusia, and then, when they finally came back in style in American fashion, I bought every piece of clothing I saw that had them. Not always to my own benefit. But the polka dots were the higher cause. The Spanish call them "lunares," or "moon-shapes," so that may explain why I'm loony for them.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

SSS: The Wedding Really Blows Up

You thought the wedding was in trouble before? Don't look now, but the cavalry's here!

Some of you were dissatisfied with where the snippet cut off last week. I'm keeping very strictly to six sentences. Lambra's been looking around her, and now we see why:

* * *

"Justa, what can I use for a weapon?" she said, but Ruy Blásquez, holding his nose with both hands, mustered the strength to call into the crowd.

"My warriors! Will you abide this affront to your lord? To arms, to arms!"

The onlookers made way as all the knights under Ruy Blásquez's fealty came from their posts on the riverbank, pulling out their shields and unsheathing their swords. Gonzalo, nearly swooning, tipped and landed in the supportive arms of his brothers, but his arms reached around him in search of a weapon.

* * *

Thanks so much for stopping by. I truly appreciate your comments, encouragement, constructive criticism, whatever you'd like to offer.

Enjoy the other sets of six here!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sweet Saturday Sample in Anticipation of World Rhino Day

A white rhinoceros enjoys the grooming skills of an avian friend.
Call me crazy, but I think rhinoceroses are the sweetest animals!

This excerpt is from my short story "Not Extinct Yet," which is still looking for a home. Any takers?

In this story, it has been Discovered that most animals can speak human languages. See another six sentences from it here. The main character, Suzanne, has been talking with the rhinos on the preserves in South Africa and has to convince her husband to leave New York and come with her.

* * *

After these initial successes, Suzanne managed to be transferred from her post in the Twin Towers to a local branch of her company in Pretoria. Derek had hesitantly left his assistant professorship in human linguistics at CUNY in order to stay with her. It had not been a simple conversation in the kitchenette.
“I have to say, I never pictured myself in South Africa,” Derek said.
Suzanne had. Her childhood bedroom’s walls had filled up with Johannesburg and Cape Town tourism posters as soon as the interest in rhinoceroses had dropped into her head.
Derek continued, “Haven’t I been providing for us?”
“Of course!” Suzanne had sat in on some of his linguistics classes, pre-Discovery, when they were often nothing more than one-on-one tutoring sessions. After the Discovery, Derek had tripled his income by teaching three times the classes to what seemed like hundreds of times the number of students. When Suzanne tried to sit in now, it was standing room only. The financial boost had given Suzanne exactly the freedom she needed to travel and, eventually, make first contact with her favorite creatures. “But maybe it’s my turn to provide for us now.”
“Did you know this was going to happen when you got this job as a rhino expert?”
“Now, that’s not fair. Nobody knew the Discovery was going to happen, and I’ve loved rhinos for much longer than five years. Just remember the couch I had when we met.”
Derek grunted, picturing the grey monstrosity, complete with face, horns, and tail, dominating her living room. “We’ve come so far.”
Suzanne opened the kitchen window and looked into the Manhattan street below. “See that dog? I bet he could tell you how much the world has changed.”
“He’s too far down there to talk with us,” said Derek.
“Yes!” cried Suzanne. “But six years ago, that wouldn’t have been the only thing keeping him quiet! Don’t you see? The zoologists’ time has come. This is my wildest, most ludicrous dream come true. Come and live it with me, darling.”

* * *

The other sweet excerpts are here! Enjoy!

World Rhinoceros Day is September 22, 2011!


I can't say I have ever truly enjoyed summer weather, especially when it can be described as "sultry." This year is the worst summer weather I've ever lived through. I mean, it's scary to step outside, folks! Killer heat, wildfires, bacteria-filled dust storms, random lightning strikes!

I'm pretty passionate about good air conditioning.

I'm also passionate about reading, writing, running my publishing company Açedrex ( and providing a blog that satisfies my readers.

Today is my blogoversary! One year ago I timidly began this adventure.

To celebrate, 1. I'm changing the entire look of the blog. Keep your eye out for the changes some time today. They may evolve according to reader input.

2. The suggestions from the reader survey last month will be implemented in the coming weeks: more information to follow.

3. I'm also participating in this huge hop! Look around at my excerpt pages, see if there are posts you like, and then, if you'd like to win prizes --

Comment on the new look. Do you like it? Do you have suggestions for a different look?

You can receive an additional entries into the sweepstakes by following this blog, liking my Facebook author page, liking Açedrex Publishing on Facebook, and/or becoming a fan on Goodreads. I'll try to keep track of what you do, but the easiest thing would be for you to tell me in the comments whether you completed any of the extra entries.

PRIZES: Choose anything from Açedrex's list in English. The English list includes all my purchasable work (Tree/House, Sail To Italy and Sail From Italy, Threads Woven, Dusk Before Dawn), translations of two Spanish classics, and the novelized memoirs of Marie Danielle Frankson. More options will be explained to the winners directly.
PREMIOS: Escoger lo que quieras de los títulos en español de Açedrex Publishing. La lista de títulos en español presenta una rica variedad de libros digitales de la más alta calidad de autores clásicos -- ¡las novelas que siempre has querido leer!

There will be three winners. First prize will choose three books, second prize will choose two books, and third prize will choose one book.
Habrá tres ganadores. El gran premio es el derecho de escoger tres libros gratis, otro ganador escogerá dos, y otro ganará un libro gratis, a escoger.

Please visit the other blogs in the hop, starting here! Many more wonderful excerpts and prizes!

Rules for the hop as a whole:

1) HAVE FUN!!!


3) THIS TOUR STARTS: Monday, August 22, Midnight (Arizona Time)

THIS TOUR ENDS: Monday, August 29, at Midnight (Arizona Time)

Winners will be drawn and posted August 30th! ***




***Authors have full discretion to choose an alternate winner in the event any winner fails to claim their prize(s) within 72 hours of their name being posted or after notification of win, whichever comes first. Anyone who participates in this blog hop tour is subject to these rules***

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday: What a Disaster of a Wedding

We're starting again right where we left off in my WIP The Seven Noble Knights of Lara, in the middle of Gonzalo's sassy speech after he's been severely wounded by his uncle, the groom at this ill-fated wedding:

* * *

Swiveling once again, tottering precariously, he continued, "But Uncle, for the sake of your love for me, I beg you not to hit me again, because you couldn't suffer the consequences."

Ruy Blásquez raised his lance once again, over doña Sancha's protests, but this time Gonzalo was able to dodge the blow so that it hit his shoulder and did not cut him, but broke in two. Taking advantage of Ruy Blásquez's surprise, Gonzalo seized the goshawk from his brother Suero's arm and, screaming with the bird at the slicing of its talons into his arm, forced it into his uncle's face. The bird struck out with its beak in indignation. Sancha cried, "Stop!" but before Suero intervened to coax the agitated hawk back onto his protected hand, Ruy Blásquez's nose had begun to bleed copiously.

At the sight of her husband's blood, doña Lambra began to look around her.

* * *

Thank you for coming by and for commenting! I appreciate what you have to say very much, as these snippets have a lot more editing to go through. The other amazing snippets are to be found here.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Third Sweet Saturday

The thirteenth of any month is the sweetest for me, since I met my husband on a February thirteenth and we married on September 13, 2009. Whenever the thirteenth rolls around, it's some kind of anniversary for us!

How to come up with a snippet that's as sweet as that? Not easy, but here's the loving couple from the anchor story of my collection, Threads Woven. (All but one of the stories are G to PG, and even the nastier one is light and humorous!)

* * *

Miriam stopped running the water. “I’m sorry, George. You know I’m the jealous type.”
George rose from the counter and held Miriam close, where he could smell her hair and kiss her neck. “I really can’t blame you, with that foxy husband you’ve got!”
Miriam sighed. “He’s so understanding, too, I know he won’t mind Leila staying here.”
George escorted Miriam to the living room couch and adopted the same serious tone as Miriam. “What are your plans for Leila? How long will she stay?”
“Well, she’s nineteen, so it’s probably kind of late to adopt her...”
“Adopt her!”
“But I thought we could take her in unofficially until she’s ready to make her own way in the world.”
George looked for traces of sanity in Miriam’s face. He grasped her hands in her lap. “Dear, does this have anything to do with your not having seen Elizabeth for a few months? You do know, don’t you, that eventually even a mother’s work is finished?”

* * *

Threads Woven is available for hardly any money at all through this ad link. Also in Nook! Enjoy the new, reader-approved cover!

Please see all the sweet excerpts here. I 100% guarantee that I will visit the sites and leave comments for those who comment here once I send my sweeting back into the wide world of work.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Birthday Facts About Jessica K

Fact 1: Today is my birthday!

2: I am the product of a scheduled C-section, since I refused to come out of breech position. A lot of that stubbornness and choosing to be different at any cost has accompanied me during my time on earth.

3: My husband, whose voice is so deep and resonant that the first thing anyone says to him is usually, "You should be on the radio!" sings me the birthday song for many days on either end of the actual day, with lyrics adjusted to fit ("...Happy two days before your birthday, happy birthday to you!").

4: It's good that I appreciate little things like item 3, since we won't be able to afford anything more elaborate this year.

5: I've never been in a desert environment for my birthday before. Even the summer I spent in Andalucía, by the time my birthday rolled around I was in green, rainy Galicia (Northwest Spain) listening to bagpipes, utterly blissed out.

6: Summer birthdays were hard when I was growing up because you didn't see your friends to invite them to your party, so if there was a party, it was a pretty quiet affair.

7: I think my favorite birthday ever was my 25th, because I was in England for the year with a bunch of other people who loved the Middle Ages enough to get a degree in their study. I invited everyone I knew to a good Spanish restaurant and had a very fine time. My beau even brought out a surprise chocolate cake that wasn't as dry as all the other British chocolate cake I'd tasted. :)

8: That isn't to knock my more recent birthdays, when my true love has done everything in his power to make me happy. But he does that every day of the year, so who's keeping track on one silly day?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cover Contest Winner!

Thanks so much to everyone who voted.

It was so close! The winner is "Vanity," by a nose. The new version of the book will be available by tomorrow.

And one lucky winner gets free copy!

For everyone's information, the artist of the "Quilt" cover is Erin McGuire. She makes a living creating gorgeous artwork and covers for all kinds of books. Check her out!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

More Blood and Guts for Six Sentence Sunday

I got major clamors to keep posting six sentences at a time from this sequence following the death of Álvar Sánchez, so here we are, continuing from last week (when Gonzalo the younger was smacked in the face with a sharp lance tip by his own uncle!).

* * * 

At the sight of her son's blood, Sancha lunged toward the wound with a handkerchief grabbed unconsciously from the serving girl Luz's hands. But Gonzalo pushed her away, staining her sleeves with garish red-brown smears. He got back to his feet, wobbling, refusing his brothers' and mother's help with great bravado.

"For God's sake, Uncle," he said almost merrily, "as your nephew, I never deserved such a blow from you." He turned to his brothers. "I beg you not to sue my uncle over my death if I die here."

* * *

Next week: the sassy end of the speech and more blood spilled. Thanks for tuning in and leaving comments. I appreciate constructive criticism for this key scene so very much!

Please visit the other great excerpts here.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Second Sweet Saturday

Sweet Saturday Samples is the best idea I've seen in a long time and I thank the organizer very much. I'm doing something very not sweet on Sundays, so I appreciate the chance to balance my karma on the webs.

This sweet snippet is from "Club Love," one of the stories making their published debut in Threads Woven and Other Stories for Women (see here for cover voting and contest, ends Monday!). The entire book is PG-13, with only one story ("Justine") dropping a well-earned f-bomb and containing a comedy murder. All the other stories are safe G to PG content. Enjoy!

* * *
         “Club Ai,” the sign said. The letters were much more modest than the other tacky billboards in that part of town. Even though it almost looked tasteful, Meredith was bewildered.
“Another club? That’s all I need to make me happy?”
“Try it, you’ll like it,” said Verity, and this time she was telling the truth.
The cover was fifty dollars, which made Meredith hesitate. Verity was so self-assured that she paid for them both, and Meredith’s curiosity became uncontrollable.
“What is this place!” she gasped when they walked into a large ballroom with red wallpaper and lights all along the ceiling. In the center of the room was a huge chandelier of sparkling crystals, and in the corners were tasteful statues of Greek gods and goddesses. Most strange, however, was the row of fifty men standing at attention, waiting for something.
They bowed and smiled widely, and most of them said, “Good evening, madam,” or “You’re looking lovely tonight,” or something similar. They all wore suits or tuxedoes in various colors as though this were the most important night of their lives.
Verity squealed with excitement and grabbed the man on the front end of the line by the arm. “Have fun!” she said to Meredith, and her man gently led her by the arm to a table isolated from the other couples already there. Meredith did not see her again that night.
         Meredith looked up and down the long row of undeniably attractive men, nervously. She felt odd. She felt like she was taking advantage. She felt like those men who came to her for someone to talk at. She shuddered, and suddenly one of the men in particular caught her eye.

* * *
I can't read the samples on Saturday itself because that day is sacred spend-time-with-the-hubby day, but I promise to catch up when he goes back to work! Thanks for dropping by here! 
Also in Nook

Monday, August 1, 2011

Alternate Covers for Threads Woven

I've just released a short story collection with this cover. The cover wasn't easy to arrive at, but as I mentioned, it was my husband's favorite of the designs I could get rights to. I thought the picture of the women doing something entirely inexplicable communicated both the power of the women in my stories and the sometimes strange things that happen in them.

But after looking at bizarre pictures of women for several hours, I was also enamored of this one. What do you think? Too far?

Then there's this, using "Vanity" by Auguste Toulmouche. I like the idea of women appreciating themselves, but again, it might go too far.

I fell in love with this picture for its beauty as well as its appropriate content. In "Threads Woven," Leila uses an old quilt both to warm herself and to reach out to Miriam. The black-haired beauty looks a lot like the way I pictured Leila! So lovely. So off limits because I can't seem to contact the artist. Sigh. I can keep trying if you like this one best.

Which one's your favorite? I'll change the cover according to which one gets the most votes! If you leave your email address, I'll enter you in a drawing for a free copy of the book with the cover of your choice! Wooohooo! Drawing takes place on Monday.

Don't forget to get your free sample and inexpensive entire book through this ad. :)