Monday, January 31, 2011

My Review: The Rogue Shop by Michael Knudsen

I think I have a crush on Chris Kerry. Okay, so he’s the fictional main character of Michael Knudsen’s novel, The Rogue Shop—but, my goodness, I think he’s adorable.

Tall, dark, and Texan, with an unassuming air and curious enough about life to befriend a lonely old lady who practically lives in the basement of the tuxedo shop where he works. Even getting along with Travis, who is so consumed by what he views as his physical shortcomings he has trouble seeing he can make real friends. Oh, yes, Chris is definitely a keeper.

Mike has done a great job in The Rogue Shop introducing us to characters who are warm, rich and vibrant—and mildly irritating—sort of like relatives we don’t visit often enough. He tells the story of Chris, who comes from Texas to Utah to get his college education—and nothing else—but ends up getting an entirely different education in addition to his academic studies.

Oh, dear, I’m starting to sound a bit like Travis.

I’m not going to lie. I really, enjoyed this book. It’s clever, humorous, and entertaining. And even a little heartwarming. It’s great fun to read a book and have my kids ask me “what’s so funny?” every time I laugh out loud.

Remember, this is the last leg of our blog hopping contest, for which the prize on my blog is a $15 Amazon gift card. Check out Maggie Fechner's BLOG, Mike's BLOG and Dan Harrington's BLOG for their posts. And, for a review of the rules for my contest, click HERE.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What You've Been Waiting For!

My poor blog tour has had it's share of glitches. But, I'm moving forward the best I can. Since January is pretty much done, I'm going to start new with February. Here, to tempt you of course, is the grand prize:

You're looking at a copy of MATCHED by Ally Condie, THE SCORCH TRIALS (autographed) and the audio version of the 2nd 13TH REALITY book--both by James Dashner, THE AMARANTH ENCHANTMENT and SECONDHAND CHARM, by Julie Berry (both autographed), and two fun and pretty hardbound journals from Barnes and Noble.

If that's not enough, each Saturday in February--the 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th--I will draw a name from everyone who has posted on my reviews that week, and the winner will receive a free, signed copy of THE PEASANT QUEEN. (In case you forgot, it looks like this lol)

All the reviews posted in January will count in the drawing for Feb 5th, so make sure to get clicking and comment on those reviews!

I'm going to make this super easy for everyone. I will post each review on the sidebar of my blog in the Tour section. If you'll notice, there are already a few in there. And, I will click each review and tally up comments for the drawings.

Where do you come in, you may ask?

All you need to do is comment on each review my blogging friends post about my book. Each comment is an entry in the drawing, and all entries will count in the grand prize drawing I'll do March 1st. You'll get a bonus entry if you also start following that reviewer's blog. It's that simple.

So, get clicking!

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Interview: Dan Harrington, author of Who's At the Door


Dan Harrington is a freelance writer in Maine whose work has appeared in LDS Church News, The Kennebec Journal and Village Soup. "Who's at the Door?" is his first book.

Cheri: I read in your author bio that you once tried to interview a talking Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Now that you’re a little older, who is the person you’d want to interview the most?

Dan: Gosh, that's a tough one! There are so many possibilities. I've always been a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger, so probably him.

Cheri: I’ve lived in AZ, OK, and UT, and visited a few other states, including NY. But that’s about the extent of my travels. Augusta, Maine is a place on a map to me. What is it like to live in Maine?

Dan: Get ready to be surrounded by trees, trees, and more trees. Mainers think trees make the best neighbors.
Maine is very spread out and our cities are small compared to most places. Our largest city, Portland, has a population of roughly 65,000, so it's about a third the size of Salt Lake City.
We have a beautiful landscape and rugged coastline. One thing that's unique about Maine is that there are no billboards anywhere in the state—they're actually illegal. There's a strong sense of keeping the land as pristine as possible.

Cheri: Your Spock reference in the first chapter made me giggle a little. Are you a sci-fi fan?

Dan: Absolutely. I've always loved Sci-Fi and Fantasy.

Cheri: I particularly appreciated your “Note from the Author” at the beginning of the book. It’s true that being a church investigator can be solitary, particularly if you receive little support from your family. Did your family support your investigation into the LDS Church?

Dan: They were actually indifferent to it. They thought the LDS Church was fine but showed no great interest in my studies.
They did enjoy watching some of the LDS videos I got from the missionaries such as the Restoration video and the Testaments DVD, so they thought the LDS Church could make cool movies, but they saw them as good, inspiring tales, nothing more.
I wound up watching “The Work and the Glory” one weekend, and my mother thought it was great.

Cheri: Before meeting the Elders, did you ever consider that a twenty-year-old man could be so centered, humble or straight-forward? What were you like at twenty?

Dan: No because most of the 20 year olds I know are either very cocky and unemployed (strange how those two go together) or lost and still feeling life out.
I definitely fit into the latter category. I was a real dreamer filled with ideals but also very shy. One reason I connected with the missionaries is because they tend to be idealistic.There's something very energetic about that age whether you're meeting LDS elders or even volunteers in the Peace Corp.

Thanks, Dan. I really enjoyed getting to know you.

Remember, readers, you're going to want to check out Dan's BLOG, Mike's BLOG, and Maggie's BLOG for our newest installments this week. And if you need a refresher on my contest rules, click HERE.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sorry I'm Late...

I did not post as usual Tuesday, and it's not because I posted Monday. :)

Actually, I felt so miserable Tuesday I couldn't summon the energy. Then our internet went down. And, well, maybe now we're back on track.

I'd planned to launch this fantabulous blog tour this month, but I'm seriously dragging. And I think I want to spread out the goodies, gifts and contests just a little bit.

So, I'm extending my blog tour by a couple of weeks, to end around Valentine's Day. It's a good place to end a contest about a romantic fantasy novel, right? And it will be a great (somewhat belated) Valentine's gift to my first prize winner.

Next Tuesday, I promise, I will post the blog tour info and the prize info, including pictures. This is in addition to the contest I'm running with my fellow Cedar Fort authors Dan Harrington, Michael Knudsen and Maggie Fechner. You're definitely going to want to stay tuned. :)

And don't forget to check out my side bar for the reviews so far. Alison Palmer reviewed for me first. I love the look of her blog so much!

I'll run that third contest this coming March. :)

Thanks for following!

Monday, January 17, 2011

My Review: Growing Up Gracie by Maggie Fechner

I think it's safe to say I love the cover for this book. It's kind of a throw-back of simpler times, where life feels less complicated.

And I can say the same about the book. Maggie tells the story of Gracie, starting as a young child and going all the way through her marriage. Gracie is a regular girl--not too shy, not too outgoing, not too pretty, not too plain--but really that's mostly how she describes herself. The one in the family who gets the least attention.

Gracie and her two best friends, Liza and Chelsea, aren't immune to troubles. But they face them all in different ways. Liza is wholesome and humble--the ideal best friend. Chelsea is the explorer of the group--she has to experience the fire before she'll believe the pain. They provide a balance for Gracie as she faces the uncertainty of her life through the death of a sibling, her first crush, finding her testimony, dating, and more.

I enjoyed the story. Growing Up Gracie is the kind of story you can relate to--Gracie is the kind of character we care about. She's strong without knowing it. She's brave without realizing it. And she grows into herself a little at a time, just like we all do. The book starts out with a little teaser of the boy Gracie eventually loves, and each time she met a new one I asked myself, "Is it him?" That was pretty fun, really. :)

I'm not going to give away all of the secrets of Growing Up Gracie. But, if you want to find out for yourself, you can find a copy HERE.

And you're definitely going to want to check out Maggie's BLOG. We're introducing ourselves as new authors. Also, check out Dan Harrington's BLOG and Michael Knudsen's BLOG. I'll review their books over the next couple of weeks.

My prize? A $15 Amazon gift card.
How do you enter to win? Leave a comment on this post--or when I talk about Dan's book next Monday, or Michael's book the Monday after that--telling me you've visited Maggie's, Dan's, and Michael's blogs--and tell me one memorable thing from each blog.
If you follow their blogs, you'll get an extra entry in my drawing. Bonus!
I'll even give you an extra entry if you repost my review, or post the link to my review on Facebook or Twitter. But you have to tell me what you've done.

I will tally up all of the entries on Feb 4th--that's when my contest ends--and announce the winner Monday, Feb 7th. You'll need to check back here on that day to see if you're my winner.

Good luck, and happy blogging!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Editing Life

Okay, my darlings, sometimes we have to do a little editing of real life.

More details will come shortly, but, in the mean time, I thought I'd share some excellent news. Yesterday, Monday, I noticed one of the people I follow on Twitter had shared a link about me and my book. This LINK, specifically.

This person, @SuccessBooks, has 33,380 followers. So their post on about my book was sent out to over 33k people. That is an amazing blessing. Of course, I said thank you. :) What else would I do?

You just never know what will come of the networking you do to promote yourself, your books, or your projects. This is a great lesson to keep at it--whatever it happens to be.

And, if you happen to be an author with a book to promote, I suggest you follow @SuccessBooks on Twitter. It couldn't hurt. :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Stranger than Fiction

Have you ever experienced something in your life that is so bizarre the people you share it with have a hard time believing it actually happened? This is what I consider to be "stranger than fiction." Why? Because fiction has to make sense.

We're odd, aren't we?

Imagine you're reading a charming, coming-of-age novel about a young girl who is struggling to find herself after her parents' divorce and father's death. When the main character is 15, she and her friends--one of whom is old enough to drive and has a car--decide they're going to have a wild night of fun. They go to a rock concert, then tell all their parents they are staying at one girl's house. But that girl's parents are out of town, and the girls have no intention of going back to her house that night. They are going to stay out all night and have fun, meet people, etc.

They go to a pool hall/bar and play a few games, attracting the attention of several young and older men. One of the younger ones seems so interested, he literally writes his name and number on the MC's arm as her friends are dragging her out. Later, they meet up with these two guys that one of the girls kind of knows, and end up crashing at a stranger's apartment until the wee hours of the morning, when they discover their plan has been found out--and their parents are all worried and waiting for them to come home.

The MC rides back with her friends to the girl's house where they were supposed to be, and during the ride they come up with the story they're going to tell their parents. If it's a simple enough story, and they all tell the same one, they reason the truth won't be found out. I mean, whose parents WOULDN'T kill them for staying the night with some guys, even if nothing really happened?

The MC gets a ride with one of her friends and her parents, who are fuming. All the way to her house, the MC has to sit and listen to the lecture from the parents to both girls about how worried her mom was and how irresponsible and stupid their behavior had been. And how much trouble she was in when she got home.

When she does get home and they drive away, her mom gives her a hug, makes her a sandwich, and lets her take a nap before they go to church that afternoon.

Now imagine the conversation those girls have at the lunch table at school the following Monday. One has been grounded for a month. Another got grounded for two weeks. The driver had her car taken away for two weeks, and was grounded for another two weeks. And our MC? She tells her friends her mom made her a sandwich and let her take a nap.

Stranger than fiction? Would you throw the book across the room and swear that couldn't possibly happen? No parent, acting as both mother and father to their child, would just let them get away with such behavior! That's ridiculous, and SO unrealistic.

Except it really happened. And I'll probably never use it in a book because readers expect more from a novel than we can get away with in real life. :)

What's your "stranger than fiction" story?

Big Things are Coming Your Way

Exciting is January, says Yoda.

You're getting two posts from me this morning, because I have so much to share. I think you'll want to pay close attention to my blog over the next few weeks. I'll be part of two contests in the month of January. The first is my blog tour, with fabulous reviewers and wonderful prizes for those willing to follow the tour.

The second is another type of blog tour and contest that I'm having with three other Cedar Fort authors. I'm going to tell you about their books, and they will tell you what they thought of mine. And, at the end, there will be a prize for one of you intrepid followers.

And then, in February, we're going to have a contest for all you romantics out there. I can do that, since my book is a romance. :)

Stay tuned, and stay close. January is hopping!