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The Thief Taker- A Goodreads Review

The Thief Taker (The Thief Taker #1)The Thief Taker by C.S. Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the middle of London, during the plague, Charlie Tuesday investigates a ritual murder, only to be framed as both a witch and a killer. He escapes, but then he is forced to find the real slayer to clear his name, and well, live. Of course, the killing is part of a web of mysteries and conspiracies and everything is more intense because of the sickness and the chaos it causes. Oh, yeah, there is also this key that Charlie wears around his neck. It is his only clue to a mother who abandoned him and it is somehow connected to the witchcraft and the strange doings in the city.
There’s also a romance of sorts. For me, it didn’t quite work. I wasn’t fond of the woman he fell for. Yet, I kept reading because I was rooting for Charlie and I had to see how all the mysteries came together.
If you like historical whodunnits, this is a read for you.

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Interview with Laura Zats

Thanks to Unsplash Maria-38582

For many authors querying is hard. If you’re shy like me, talking to an agent or an editor seems almost impossible. Your palms get sweaty. Your brain turns to mush and your tongue forgets how to form words. To make pitching or simple conversation easier, it’s good to remember agents and editors are people. One way to do that is to learn a little about them and what they’re looking for before trying to sell our stories.

Laura Zats and Jennifer Rupp

At a recent Wisconsin Romance Writer meeting, I had the good fortune to meet Laura Zats from Red Sofa Literary. I threw a lot of questions at her, which she graciously answered in hopes of helping me and other writers.

MJC: What has been the highlight of your career?
​LZ: Every time I sign an author or sell a book, it’s just as awesome as the first time. I can’t choose! It’s great having someone agree to put their career in your hands, or having an editor confirm you do actually have good taste in books.

MJC: What’s your advice to an aspiring author?
LZ: Wait until you’re ready. Use your resources to learn as much as you can about writing and the business, and don’t go into it unprepared!​

MJC: What is on your manuscript wish list?
​ LZ: Specific requests are tagged on twitter as #MSWL, but my biggest requests are feminist and diverse books.​

MJC: What do you like best about being an agent?
​ LZ: Honestly, I like everything except for saying no to people–the reading, the editing, the contracts!​

MJC: What percentage of new clients you sign in are debut authors?
LZ: Probably 80-90%​

MJC: What are the qualities of your ideal client?
LZ: That they’re a team player–they thrive on feedback (both good and bad) and want to be as helpful and as knowledgeable as possible​.

MJC: What are your top three favorite books?
LZ: Oh, I definitely can’t answer that! I have no idea!​

MJC: What are you currently reading?
​ LZ: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas​

MJC: If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
​ LZ: When I was a kid, I would have said flight, but I’d like to stop time so I can get all my work done and perhaps a few naps as well. ​

MJC: How many submissions do you typically receive in a week?
​ LZ: Anywhere between 100-200 queries.​

MJC: What questions do you wish authors would ask before considering a match with an agent?
​ LZ: There’s no one specific question, but I’d love it if authors asked agents about their long-term career traject​ories. It’s important that authors sign with someone they think will take them where they want to go!

MJC: What is most common plotting error you see in submissions?
​ LZ: Most of the errors I see don’t quite make it to the plot, but for fulls I stop reading, the most common reason is that it lags in the middle–the pressure of the climax needs to feed the book all the way through!​

 MJC: What trends are you seeing over and over again in your slush pile?
​ LZ: Angels, demons, shifters, vampires, superheroes, empaths, bucket lists.​

MJC: Do you evaluate submissions with the Mako Mori test? Why or Why not?
​ LZ: I actually have the Bechdel and Mako Mori tests as requirements on my submissions list!​

MJC: Do you consider yourself a hands-on, editorial type of agent?
 LZ: Definitely! I love getting in there and discovering plot holes and brainstorming with my authors.​

Laura Zats

Favorites Flash Round:
Martial arts move:
​Roundhouse kick​
Weapon:
​sword​
Beverage:
​ Beer​
Book boyfriend:
​ ​I plead the fifth. Don’t want to make the other boyfriends sad.
Animal:
​ pit bull​
Comedy:
​Archer​
Comeback line:
​That’s what she said​
Ice cream:
​balsamic strawberry​
Movie:
​The Princess Bride​
MJC: Mine, too.
Video Game:
​Old school Sonic​
TV show:
​Buffy​
Drink:
​also beer​
Shoes:
​Fluevog knee-high boots​


MJC: They look awesome.
Sports team:
​ ​Twins
Guilty pleasure:
​Mac n cheese​

Passages-A Goodread Review

PassagesPassages by Laurel Wanrow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My favorite thing about Passages is the world building, which is complex and deeply thought out. It’s a world a reader could immerse herself in. There is so much depth and so many possibilities that I’m guessing Laurel could write many, many tales about the world.
Yet, like all good science fiction, the cool-strange becomes comprehensible as the characters experience the world. This story starts out with Quinn on the run with his grandmother. He’s lost his memory, so as he discovers cross jumping and goad as well as love, we as readers get to learn along with him. Quinn’s returning memories give clues to a conspiracy, a psychic force that suspends aging and an army of cyborg agents. In between there’s a love story. Two strong, but vulnerable people work out their differences and succeed in finding acceptance in each other.

If you like worlds that are as fascinating as Faberge eggs, this is a story you’re sure to enjoy.

The Haunting of Sam Cabot- A Goodreads Review

The Haunting of Sam CabotThe Haunting of Sam Cabot by Mark Edward Hall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Haunting of Sam Cabot: A Novel
This is a cautionary tale. When you’re a less-than-stable main character and you’re driving through the country and you see a huge, but lovely fixer-upper in the middle of nowhere that is for sale, don’t stop. When there’s a creepy old caretaker who gives you a tour and everything from the overgrown lawn to the monster of a heating system gives you the heebie-jeebies, don’t offer to buy the place. Don’t move in. Nightmares, anxiety, murders, and ghostly visitations are sure to follow.
However, if you’re a reader and you like the shivers that run up the back of her neck as you turn the page, this is worth your time.
I’d like to tell you more, but I’ve been warned to never tell what’s in the well. Yes, there is a bad-smelling, boarded-up well that, sure enough, the main character opens. It’s almost certain, any number of innocent geeks are going to get dragged in, chewed up and spit out, but I’m not telling.
Then the story gets even more scary. It reads like a Stephen King or Peter Straub thriller. My one complaint might be that the ending wasn’t the payoff I’d hoped for. Yet, for the twists and chills in the middle I recommend this read.

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Forgotten God: Remembering Our Crucial Need for the Holy Spirit -A Goodreads Review

Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy SpiritForgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan

Forgotten God: Remembering Our Crucial Need for the Holy Spirit
Francis Chan challenges readers to evaluate their relationship with God and to consider what it means to trust him. It’s thought-provoking, deeply moving and more than a little convicting. Francis backs up his points with scripture, so readers can test his words. My takeaway is God is with us and he wants to help, especially in those impossible and yet daily situations—expect trouble and know that it’s natural and we’re not alone in it.
If you want to turn your Christianity into an adventure, this is the read for you.

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The Sick House- A Goodreads Review

The Sick House (The Ulrich Files #1)The Sick House by Ambrose Ibsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Sick House
This is an old fashioned haunted house tale with secrets, murders, spirits and underground tunnels. The main character, Harlan Ulrich, an aging private investigator, cares more about coffee beans than people, yet I liked him. He is flawed and quirky and just plain interesting. Needing to pay his rent, he accepts a missing person job. He’s to locate kindly Dr. Siegfried Klein, who disappeared after making a house call in the ghost town of Moonville. Well, neither the doctor nor the ghost town are quite what they seem and Ulrich is determined to get to the bottom of the mysteries despite how over-the-top spooky everything is. Ulrich was probably as scared as I would be the first time he peeked into the old place. Birds were crashing into the windows; the rain was rattling the roof and Ulrich was all alone with only the glow of his cellphone to light his path. Then something grabbed him. As a reader, my heart stopped, but you know, I kept reading. I’m going to look for the next book in the series.

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The Star-Touched Queen-A Goodreads Review

The Star-Touched Queen (The Star-Touched Queen, #1)The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Star-Touched Queen
This story starts with a princess born under an unhappy horoscope. It’s a beautiful written fairytale with lush prose and vivid images about star-crossed lovers. The story drew me in. I was right with Princess Mayavati as she tried to figure out her new circumstances and right beside her when she journeyed to find her lost love and managed to find herself. If you like fantasies with fantastic world building that are laced with sweet romance and dreamlike events, you’d probably enjoy this tale. I did.

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Providence: Hannah’s Journey- A Goodreads Review

Have you ever wanted to find out more about a biblical character? Ever wonder what happened after they were mentioned in scripture? For instance–what are some of the details of Ruth and Boaz’s marriage? What ever happened to Rahab? Or who was the slave girl that led Naaman, the Aramean army commander, who was also a leper, to Elisha the prophet? Barbara M. Britton’s Providence: Hannah’s Journey fills in the details

Surprisingly, Hannah’s life is exciting. She hooks up with a handsome hero from Judah named Gilead and the two of them get into all kinds of hot water.

I really liked that although the tale was fiction, the characters acted the way I believe a Jewish person with integrity would have in one of the stories from scripture. Although they were tempted, they took the high road. They were characters I could cheer for.

If you’re looking for a piece of feel-good fiction, a story that uplifts your spirit, give this story a shot.

Zombies and Audiobooks by Jill James

Hi, Mia and I connected over our love for all things zombie. We decided to swap blogs for the day. I’m here and she is over at mine. I write what is referred to as zompoc romance. They are romance novels set in the zombie apocalypse. I fell in love with the zombie books by Carrie Ryan, Dana Fredsti, Rhiannon Frater, Mira Grant, and Bonnie Dee and decided to write one of my own. It was so exciting to find out women could write zombie books! When I started Love in the Time of Zombies the Walking Dead television show wasn’t even on yet.

I’ve just started putting the Time of Zombies series into audio book format so Mia asked if I would talk about that:

I have most of my contemporary romances already in audio book, but I’m just starting with the zombie books. Some things were the same no matter the genre and some things worked out differently.

  • You need a narrator. I know that some authors narrate their own books. Trust me when I say that you DO NOT want to listen to my voice for six hours. It could turn you into a zombie. If I ever write a writing how-to book I may narrate it myself…maybe.
  • Love your narrator. If, like me, you are using the same narrator for the whole series, you must love listening to the man or woman talk for hours and hours. I used a female for my Lake Willowbee series books but I put the call out for male or female for the zombie books so I had more choices to choose from. Maxwell Zener won me over from the first sentence. And yes, I love him! Just don’t tell my husband. 😊
  • Use ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) You don’t have to use ACX but if you are just starting out it seems the simplest way to go. They send your audio books to Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. You claim your books, pick details (more below), audition narrators, let ACX deal with contracts and details.
  • Choose how you make money. I won’t go into all the details here because the FAQ at ACX.com are excellent, but basically, you choose Royalty Share or Payment Upfront. RS is no money from you but you share the royalties earned. This is great if you are a little lean in the pocket staring out, for starving zombie authors. Upfront means you get all the royalties without sharing, but you have to pay the narrator PFH (Per Finished Hour) and the good ones are expensive. For my contemporary romance novellas, I paid $100 an hour.
  • Plan for the future. Even if you aren’t earning big bucks today. When you decide on how to earn the money at ACX ask yourself what am I willing to share? If you hit the NYT bestseller list with your book and start selling boatloads of books, eBooks, and audio books, are you willing to share the windfall with your narrator? If you aren’t, you may want to do the Upfront Payment. I’ve done both methods for different books and both have pros and cons.
  • Last note: if I could start over I would wait until I had a series at least 3 books in before I went into audio book. Just like in eBooks and paperbacks, readers like having a series to read or listen to, one book after another.

 

Book 1 Love in the Time of Zombies is available in eBook, print, and audio.

Book 2 The Zombie Hunter’s Wife is available in eBook, print, and in audio production.

Book 3 A Time to Kill Zombies is available in eBook, print, and in audio production.

Book 4 Zombies in the Grass is a work in process and due out Summer 2017

 

Rogue Vantage is a short story set in the Time of Zombies world. Download for FREE at http://dl.bookfunnel.com/32njghjbkr

 

You can reach me at:

jill@jilljameswrites.com

www.twitter.com/jill_james

www.facebook.com/Jill.James.author

www.jilljameswrites.com

 

 

 

 

The Eaton-A Goodreads Review

Wow, what could be better than an old-fashioned Monster-in-the-House story? I bought this when it was a daily deal on Audible and once I started listening, I couldn’t stop.

Sam Spicer, his soon-to-be fiancée and a group of interesting friends are partying in his newly purchased railroad depot. He wants to make it into a bar. Anyway, they find a secret staircase that leads to an elevator that leads to an amazing underground hotel. Once they take the elevator down, they’re trapped, and, of course, they aren’t alone. The former guests’ corpses and whatever killed them is there, too.

I loved the all research into the turn-of-the-century technology as well as the reason for all the death–the thing stalking Sam and company. It was unique. I don’t want to give details because that might spoil future readers’ fun.

Also, another high point for me was the narrator.  He made all the characters come to life.

I’m going to look for other stories by John K. Addis.