Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Face Time by S.J. Pajonas: A Book That CANNOT Be Missed

Never have I been so happy to write about someone else's incredible work. Sometimes I sign up for these things on a whim, figuring, "Yeah, sure, I'll help out." This was one of the most rewarding whims I've ever had. So, without further ado, let me tell you about Face Time (Love in the Digital Age #1) by S.J. Pajonas.

Book Blitz:
Face Time (Love in the Digital Age #1)
by SJ Pajonas



Today is my stop during the book blitz for Face Time (Love in the Digital Age #1) by SJ Pajonas. This book blitz is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. This blitz takes place on 25, 28 and 30 April, you can view the whole blitz schedule here: http://lolasblogtours.net/book-blitz-face-time-by-sj-pajonas/













Face Time (Love in the Digital Age #1)
By SJ Pajonas
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age category: Adult
Release Date: April 25, 2014

Blurb:
After the best first date ever, Lee thought Laura was funny, intelligent, and impulsive; a whirlwind of bright laughter and happiness. Laura loved Lee's sweet smile and the way he expertly filled in every awkward pause. He held her hand and then pulled her in for the most perfect kiss she’s had in years. What could possibly be wrong? Just the 7000 miles that separates them the next day.


Even though Lee has gone home to Seoul, Laura can't stop thinking about him. What starts as an innocent text thanking him for their dinner date becomes something much more: someone either of them can't live without. But Laura's got a live-in mother going through a midlife crisis, and Lee's stressful traveling schedule means they'll be apart for some time. Life, family, and a complicated past also get in the way, and they're both going to need actual face time to figure it out.

Does that sound enticing enough? Want more? I bet you do! So, here is an excerpt. You know, just a taste to wet the whistle but leave you wanting more...

I guess I’m sick of New York because I haven’t been away from here in five years. Most people need a break from the city. Mary, my boss, keeps pushing me to take a vacation, but I always wave her off. Shit, I would love to leave — am dying to leave — but I have been saving every spare penny so I can move out someday soon. My mother moved in saying, “Oh honey, it’s only for a few months, and then I’ll buy my own place.” That was over three years ago. When six months passed and she was on her second boyfriend and hadn’t looked at any real estate in the city, I knew she was never going to leave.
Taking out my iPhone, I aim the camera at the sun setting on my street. If I tilt it around, I can catch a sun glare off the tops of the cars and another couple walking towards me holding hands. Click. I attach the photo to a text to Lee and hit send before picking up my bag and heading inside.
The door creaking open to my apartment is the only noise I hear when my phone buzzes in my purse.

Lee Park
I love your street. Looks like a beautiful day.

Laura Merchant
It is. Let me get my iPad set up in the kitchen and we can talk.

Lee Park
Ok. Call me when you’re ready.

I grab my iPad out of my bag and stand it up in the kitchen, but then remember what I’m about to do. Third date. I run back down the hall to the bathroom, stumbling over my shoes in the hallway, and quickly touch up my makeup and wash my hands. I should try to look good for Lee, right?
He lives in Seoul.
Fuck, he lives in Seoul.
I pause and examine myself in the mirror. Why do I fall for the unavailable ones? He seems to like me too, but with seven thousand miles between us, we can’t be physical. What if this goes somewhere, we finally get together, and the sex is horrible? But the kiss was great. The kiss was legendary, the best I’ve ever had, and I’ve kissed at least thirty boys. The sex will be good, right? What am I thinking? I’m skipping way ahead. Screw it. If the sex is bad, I’ll figure out what to do about it later.
In the kitchen, I initiate the call, and wait until Lee’s face pops up on my screen. He was handsome in a suit, heart-stopping in a sweater, but, full-on gorgeous in a t-shirt. His arms and chest stretch the tight black shirt over every curve of muscle, and I have to close my eyes and turn my head away. I may be so turned on that I’m nauseous.
“Hi,” he says, and I turn my face back to the iPad. “Are you okay?”
“Yes, fine. It’s nothing.” Nothing at all. Just that you’re so hot and so far away. It kills me that I can’t touch you. “I’m hungry. Just got home from Connecticut.”
He nods and sits down in his chair at the table where he took the last call. I don’t think he’s done anything with his unruly hair since he woke up, but bedhead suits him.
“Well, eat and tell me about your day.”

And here is a glimpse of the crazy talented author:

S. J. Pajonas loves all things Asian and has been in love with Japan and the East for as long as she can remember. Writing about Asia and Japan came naturally after studying the culture and language for over fifteen years. She studied film and screenwriting first and eventually segued into fiction once she was no longer working a full-time job.

Face Time is the first novel in the Love in the Digital Age series, and Pajonas's first foray into Korean culture and families. Along with Removed and Released in the Nogiku Series, she continues to take the cultures of Asia and weave them into stories that appeal to people from around the world. Her writing is described as unique and unpredictable. Expect the unexpected.

Stephanie lives with her husband and two children just outside of New York City. She loves reading, writing, film, J- and K-dramas, knitting, and astrology. Her favorite author is Haruki Murakami and favorite book is The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.

Learn more at www.spajonas.com


REVIEW:

This book should come with a disclaimer--WARNING: EXCELLENT BOOK AHEAD. YOU WILL NOT SLEEP UNTIL YOU FINISH READING. This story grabbed me right in and I could not put it down. It is modern and romantic and different. The writing was so captivating. I was immediately drawn into both Laura and Lee's worlds, rooting for the to succeed despite the odds. There is no predictability; no cliched love story here. It is real life. How we put others' need before our own. How family does not live up to expectations. How ancient culture can affect our modern world. Ms. Pajonas' writing is a breath of fresh air, unique and flavored with the spices of the Far East. It may be different than what is out there, but that is what sets it far ahead of other contemporary romances. I very rarely give books five-star ratings, and almost never to romances. However, this book deserves all five-stars. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series, and all the ones thereafter. Bravo, Ms. Pajonas. Bravo.



Sunday, April 27, 2014

Green for Genevieve

An unassuming green binder sat quietly on the shelf in the room where she died, sixteen years ago today. That was one of the things that my grandmother left behind. A binder full of her handwritten essays, the product of a creative-writing class that she took six years before cancer took her. My father hastily typed it up, had it bound and distributed it to family members. It contains stories of her childhood and marriage. There are genealogy lists and random thoughts. There is the floor plan for the house she grew up in, and the story of her first date with my grandfather. It is odds and ends of her life and it is my inspiration.

I was just becoming a person when my grandmother passed away. I dream of her often and wake up sad that she is again gone. As an adult, a mother, I so wish I could talk to her. She raised eleven children, and I just wish I could ask her how on earth she did it.

I'm sure she was a very flawed individual, as we all are. I know she yelled too much (as I do). She smoked cigarettes (the long thin brown ones) which resulted in her lung cancer and death (I stopped smoking when she died). But I'd like to think that I am like her. She was smart (graduating from high school at 15, simply because she caught on quickly). She was resourceful and had a great sense of humor. She sewed and read and apparently wrote for fun. She wanted to be a dancer, like Ginger Rogers. She had an eclectic fashion sense and style that completely and totally worked for her, with a love of fabulous shoes. Her favorite color was green, just as mine is. Her eyes were green, just as mine are.

Whenever I take out my sewing machine, I wonder if she is proud of me. When I explain to both my children why we have narrow feet with even narrower heels that make shoe shopping difficult, I know she feels my pain (afterall, I did inherit those terribly narrow heels from her). When I buy a pair of shoes with an ankle strap, I know she would approve. When I say something funny, I know it is because I got her sense of humor. When I wear yet another green outfit, I hope she would like it. When I wear her green bracelet to my book signing, I feel like she is there with me.

I'd like to think that she would have loved to read my books. That she would be proud of what I have accomplished, in my career, with writing and as a parent. Although not terribly demonstrative, I know she would be right here, supporting me, as she did with everything I did.

Grandma, today I'm wearing green and thinking about you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Now It's Time to Beg...

So, you know that dream you have where you're out in public naked and you're totally embarrassed? I keep having that. Except I'm fully clothed.


My mortification comes from the fact that, in my dream, I'm at my first ever author event and only seven people show up.

Seven.

Out of all the people I know in this world, only seven are at my book event, and three of them are library staff. Yep, this is my recurring dream right now.

Thank goodness for melatonin, or I would be getting no sleep at all this week.

My first ever author event is tomorrow. As in 26 hours from now. (Eeek, pause for momentary freak out).


I will be doing a reading, discussion and book signing at the Waterford Public Library. Yes, it is a small library. No, it is not Barnes & Noble. I'm totally okay with that. Actually, I'm more than okay. I'm really happy that my first ever author event is in Waterford. I grew up going to the Waterford Public Library on a weekly basis (back when it was in the Town Hall). I can still see it in my head, the marble floors in the foyer. The children's side, the adult side. And the books (not to mention the puppets in the back which my mother never ever let me check out). I read book after book in that library. I did the summer reading programs there. Mrs. Ronissi (sorry if I spelled that wrong) was the librarian my whole childhood. I grew to love reading in that library. It is only fitting that I start my career as a writer there. Never did I even begin to imagine that my books would be on the shelf in that library.

I am IN the library. How cool is that?


So, this is where I get all desperate and beg. Please come out and see me. Listen to me read from my book. Participate in the discussion. If you feel so inclined, purchase one (or both) of my books and let me sign it for you. Be a body in the room so that there are more than seven people there. 



WHEN:  Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 6:30 pm

                117 3rd Street, Waterford, NY

Another book for the TBR pile...

Today, I'm excited to participate in the cover reveal for fellow author Heather McCoubrey. Without further ado, here is the beautiful cover for her second novel, Back to December.

Back to December


Here's what you need to know about the Book Back to December:

Thanks to an abusive mother and an absent father, Anna Blackhurst has only known the love of two people: her Gram and her best friend, Niki.

When Anna meets Cooper Reed in a smoky club, she’s immediately drawn to his good looks but isn’t prepared to open herself up to a relationship. As time passes, Anna finds herself falling in love with Cooper and she begins to rethink her future. Maybe, despite her childhood, she can have a happy-ever-after.

But when her mother is in a terrible accident, she again sinks her claws into Anna and Anna’s world is thrown upside down. Despite Cooper’s unwavering support, Anna walks away only to regret it immediately. In order to heal, not only herself, but her broken relationship, Anna must stand up for herself and accept that the only way she's going to be happy is if she grabs ahold of it herself. 


You should know that you will have to wait until June 20, 2014 to purchase this book, but it will be worth the wait!


And here's what you need to know about the Author:

Heather McCoubrey is a native of Maine but having moved all over the U.S. as a child, she doesn’t sound like one. She’s been writing since middle school when a teacher taught her she could create her own stories instead of just reading them. That year she had some of her first poems published in the school magazine and from there she graduated to writing a full-length novel in high school (which has been collecting dust on her shelf ever since!). She is the self-published author of To Love Twice, her debut novel. Her second novel, Back to December, is scheduled to be released in June 2014 and the novel that’s been collecting dust on the shelf, Emily’s Choice, is scheduled to be released in October 2014. Heather resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, two children, Rex the chihuahua and Fatty the goldfish. When she’s not being super-mom and wife, she ekes out time to write, watch football, practice her British accent and dream of living on an island where it’s eighty degrees year-round.


You can find Heather McCoubrey on:
Her blog, Romantic Escapes: http://heathermccoubrey.com

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Giving Away My Children's Childhood

Pardon me while I wipe the tears away. I'm cleaning out. And it is such hard work. Not because of the physical difficulty, but the emotional. I'm giving away my children's childhood.

I'm not, I know. I'm giving away their toys. Those objects that occupied my kids for hours on end and brought them endless joy. It makes me sad to part with these brightly colored, loud, light-up monstrosities. As it was, Elmo Live! was still yelling at me to sing and dance. But as I packed Elmo away (face down because I'm kind of cruel), this is what I'm really thinking about:


Also, my son HATED any of those toys that sang and danced. Until this Christmas, he was terrified of them and this Elmo is the one that helped him over his fear.

I packed up my diaper bags and Baby Bjorn. The diaper bag/backpack that I took when we went to Hawaii when my son was not even two.

Hardest for me is the Fisher Price Little People. The farm set has been kicking around our house for nine years. My daughter spent hours upon hours in her room with them all set up.



I'm certainly happy to be freeing up space in closets, the playroom and the basement. We're going to start the process of finishing our basement and the first step is cleaning it out. This will certainly help. Then, the playroom will get moved to the basement/family room and I will get an official office. It is all good and this hard work needs to be done first. I know it. I just can't figure out why I have such an emotional attachment to stuff.

My kids want for nothing (unless you ask them and I'm sure they could list all the things that they don't have). They have and have had more toys than they even know what to do with. They will not miss most of what I'm giving away. And we're donating to a good cause. It is all for large non-profit garage sale that is held every year to benefit people living with Multiple Sclerosis. Hopefully, this helps the cause.

I know that giving away these toys does not change the quality of my children's childhood, other than to teach them how to be charitable. It won't change the good times. Keeping the toys will not make them little again.



I know that there are people out there who can just give things away. I talked to a woman recently who was looking to give away her wedding dress. She said she gives away everything and hates that she has to keep some mementos for her kids. I envy that ability. I haven't even give away the supplies I used to make the favors for my wedding.

So, I keep cleaning and piling stuff up. My donation pile is impressive. Somehow there is not as much room as I thought there'd be, but it is a start. I am happy to have the stuff out, but I still feel guilty. My kids are growing up too fast, even without me giving it away.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I'm Getting a Makeover!

Well, not me but my blog and my image. (I actually sort of already gave myself a makeover by chopping all my hair off.)

One of the things that I've learned is about branding. As an author, I had never thought much about branding, but it is hugely important. It is one of the reasons why Good Intentions got its own makeover when it did. Now, all my books will have a uniform look and my name will always look the same on each book.

A friend of mine came up with the brilliant idea to create me a logo. She is working on it and it will play a large roll in all of my stuff from this point on. I hope you all like it because it will be all over my media pages.

Part of branding includes a cohesion and consistency so that you will see the logo or brand and immediately think of my product--think the Nike swoosh.

I've also worked on coming up with a slogan to describe what it is I write about. I get kind of giddy thinking about how it is all coming together.

So, be patient. We're under construction here. I hope you all like the big reveal!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Art Imitating Life ... Unfortunately

You know how you mull an idea over in your head, but are unsure how to act? And then you get some great cosmic sign, and you know what the answer is.

That happened to me today in the form of Peaches Geldof. Daughter of singer Bob Geldof, she was found dead, at the too young age of 25. Her mother died of a drug overdose in 2000.

This news in no way affects my life, even in the slightest. Except for what I am voluntarily immersing myself in on a daily basis. That is, novel number three. Without giving too much away, the storyline involves the aftermath on a family, particularly the main character, when her twin sister succumbs to her mental illness and addictions and commits suicide.

The idea for the story was largely inspired by an acquaintance of mine who disappeared last February. Her body was found several months later. While I did not know Anna well, people that I care about loved her dearly, and have felt tremendous loss.

One day, while discussing my new main character, I drove by a bus stop and saw a girl that reminded me of Anna, and the story idea was born. This is the novel that I have been hard at work on since November.

Mental illness and drug abuse are issues that hit very close to home for me. They have shaped a very large part of the periphery of my life, which, in turns, affects my world. I also understand the stigma attached to both. The care system for those with mental illness is woefully, pitifully terrible in this country. In many instances, people with mental illness turn to drugs as a form of self-medicating, as there is very poor recognition and treatment of the disease process, particularly in the early stages. Often, people with mental illness are forced to wait months for appointments unless they are a danger to themselves or others. The drug use and abuse compounds and exacerbates the mental illness, which then can cause the individual to seek out more and more drugs. It is a vicious, terrible cycle that often does not end well. To really understand what is going on with mental health care in this country, read the novel Crazy by Pete Earley.

Earlier today, I was made aware that my 29 year-old cousin has been missing since October. She was last seen getting into a car outside her drug treatment facility. Her father is devastated and only wants answers about how his daughter could disappear off the face of the earth without a trace. Most people wonder what would drive a beautiful young girl to this. Sometimes the answers are clear. Sometimes they are due to an internal struggle that is not blatantly obvious. Some people would look at the flyer and only see that she was in treatment for drugs. They would only see the mug shot that is on the flier. I look, and I see the beautiful blue eyes of the toddler I used to know.



I am devastated for my cousin that he has not seen his daughter in months. To me, this limbo is the worst. Not knowing if she is alive. Not knowing what happened to her. It breaks my heart for him and for her sister.

I cannot believe that I have spent months working on a story that is playing out within my own family. I can't believe that I know two people in less than a year with a similar tale. I can't believe how common this truly is.

So, please, take a moment to go to the Facebook link. Amanda King is not just another name, another face, another lost cause. She is a daughter and a sister and a niece and a friend. She has been missing for six months. Please help bring her home.

Because, this is how she will always look to me...


Friday, April 4, 2014

What I'm reading...

So, I may have mentioned a time or two (or twenty) that I've gotten hooked up with a great group of writers that have really helped me find my way as I hopefully and eventually transition my career to full time writer. One of the coolest things about being a writer is that you have to read. I started writing because of my love of reading, and now it's part of the job. The group of writers that I have found are mostly female (there may be a man or two in the group, but I'm not sure and I don't want to be exclusionary). We write chick lit and women's fiction. I try to write chick lit, but it becomes more serious and turns into women's fiction. Sometimes, chick lit is looked down upon by the more literary types. Chick lit are the books that make you feel good, are about strong women, have a dash of spice and a pinch (or three) of humor. They are the romantic-comedies of the book world. And while reading heavier stuff is good once in a while, right now I need to read to escape and I want to feel good after I've read the book. To me, having that dumb happy smile after reading is where I want to be right now.

But this has its drawbacks as well. My to-be-read (TBR) pile is growing perilously large. There will never be enough time to read all that I want to. But, for any of you out there who are looking for some reading suggestions, I'm going to help you out. I going to give you some book suggestions for what to read (after you've finished GOOD INTENTIONS and HOLD HER DOWN, of course). I'm providing the Amazon links if you click on the author's name, so you can go right to their pages. Most of the women in my group are either published with small publishers or are independent authors, like myself. We're  working our way from the ground on up, so your support really means so much. And as I've said before, if you like what you read, please leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads and Barnes & Noble (you can leave the same review on all three sites). And tell your girlfriends. Trust me, they will thank you.

Start with this book:

CONNECTIVITY by Aven Ellis

  • I read this book in one sitting. It is the perfect romantic-comedy with witty banter and the perfect amount of tension.


WAITING FOR PRINCE HARRY by Aven Ellis

  • This is my current read. I've been waiting for this book to come out ever since I read Aven's first book, CONNECTIVITY. But I warn you, you will not want to put this one down. I made the mistake of picking it up at about 1 am this morning when I woke up for a bit. Yeah, gonna need extra coffee this morning.


THIRTY-TWO GOING ON SPINSTER by Becky Monson

  • This is a delightful book that you want to get read because I hear rumors that a sequel is in the works.


TO LOVE TWICE by Heather McCoubrey

  • Bust out the tissues but know that your faith in mankind will be restored.
BLAME IT ON THE FAME by Tracie Banister
  • Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes after the Oscar nominations are announced? Wonder no more.

Tracie is also the author of IN NEED OF THERAPY, which is still on my TBR list. It sounds like a great read and I can't wait to get to it.

DOWN ON LOVE by Jayne Denker
  • As I blogged here, Jayne's second Marsden book, PICTURE THIS is now available for pre-order and will be released in July. While it can be read as a stand-alone, you really do want to read the first book in the series before. And then, if you have time, read her other works, UNSCRIPTED and BY DESIGN.


DANGLED CARAT by Hilary Grossman
  • This brings commitment-phobe to a whole new level.


I've also really enjoyed the works by some authors from across the pond (isn't the internet great in shrinking the world?). Especially if you like English books (like Bridget Jones or the Shopaholic books), try these two out:


Also waiting patiently to be read are:
Is that enough to boggle your mind already? I'm sure there are more that I can add to the list. But it should be enough to get you all through the weekend.

Happy reading!