The Printed Fox: February 2013

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hump Day Hook 2/27: Devil's Bitch

Happy Hump Day! It is once again time for the Hump Day Hook, where writers get together and share little hooks of a work-in-progress, a new release, or anything of theirs they want to hook you into knowing more about!

If you're interested in being a Hooker yourself, head on over to the Hump Day Hook Blog and add yourself to the list!

For this week's hook, for a change of pace I'm featuring Devil's Bitch, which will be my next release. Norelia, Imperial Heir and internationally infamous shrew, is talking with Reoth while about to face here biggest challenge yet, and quite possibly her death.


"In Narran, we are soldiers all our lives. Of course I understand."

"I'm so sorry, Reoth." She shrugged. "I just didn't know how to be anything else. And then Father's note, and Baruk..."

"It's all right. Baruk's your best friend. He was there for you." He sidled his horse closer, wanting to touch her.

"He was safe." Now she was fiddling with the tooling on her saddle. He didn't think he'd ever seen her so unguarded before, even when she was screaming and writhing on his bed as he-- No! Focus. He shifted in his saddle, which had become a bit uncomfortable all of a sudden.

"He would never make me look at anything I didn't want to, and it almost cost me my empire."

"No. I was arrogant, and I hated the Empire. Your father." He swallowed. "Hated you--"

She gave a bitter laugh. "'Devil's Bitch.' It's what they call me, isn't it?"

"--but I don't anymore."

She shrugged. "It's all right. I am a bitch."


Thanks for visiting! If you enjoyed that and want more hooks, please visit the other members of the Hump Day Hook group and show them some love! Head on over to the Facebook group if you'd like to join us, or check out the blog. Happy Humping!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Review: Better Off Without Him

Better Off Without HimBetter Off Without Him by Dee Ernst

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can't remember the last time I've said, "I effing love this character!" at the 25% mark of a book. I knew at that point I was going to love this book.

Mona is classic, and even though in the beginning it seems she's getting shafted, her husband leaving is the best thing to happen to her. Naturally.

I think what made this book so great for me were the characters. Patricia was awesome. Every woman needs a friend like her. Mona's assistant Anthony was the one that made me literally laugh out loud at times, and I loved all of his names for people. I tend to do that, too, so it cracked me up. Aunt Lily was a gem!

The writing was pretty solid. There was only the occasional typo, omitted article, or punctuation mistake. The story was predictable, and there were entire conversations the characters had which told you exactly what was going to happen and in what order, but it was still extremely satisfying from beginning to end. Mona's romances ran the gamut from FWB to the HEA (though only she was surprised during the "surprise reveal"), but at no point did she seem stupid, or silly. Just oblivious, but that was her entire problem from the beginning, so I can see it continuing to get her up to her eyeballs in hijinks until she learned how to pay a bit more attention.

Pick this book up for a light, fun read while on vacation, or after the kids go to bed. It's definitely worth it.

And now I totally want to try a vodka martini.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Of Hallowed Fiends and Darkest Fortune Excerpt

Happy Hump Day! It is once again time for the Hump Day Hook, where writers get together and share little hooks of a work-in-progress, a new release, or anything of theirs they want to hook you into knowing more about!

If you're interested in being a Hooker yourself, head on over to the Hump Day Hook Blog and add yourself to the list!

For this week's hook, I've chosen Of Hallowed Fiends and Darkest Fortune, my novelette prequel to my WIP Duchess of War now available at Naughty Nights Press. Anya is having a private moment with her husband-to-be, the dark and powerful Duke of Eodel.


"Hurry," he whispered, "before it melts."

She saw the dark smears on his fingertips, and a small trail of thick liquid was beginning its slow path down his thumb. Without knowing why, the sight made her blush again. This time, when her lips closed around his finger, he lingered in her mouth.

Only very slowly did he draw out his finger, then pushed it back between her lips once more. He kept his finger in her mouth until the chocolate had melted, giving small sighs every time she swallowed more.

"Marriage does not have to be so droll," he told her, cupping her face. She trembled at his touch. He smiled. "And the dram of distilled occa weed in your chocolate will assure you come to the altar placid as a lamb in spring."


If you've been enjoying my hooks from my WIP Duchess of War, check out the novelette's prequel Of Hallowed Fiends to find out how Anya ended up in her predicament in the first place!

Thanks for visiting! If you enjoyed that and want more hooks, please visit the other members of the Hump Day Hook group and show them some love! Head on over to the Facebook group if you'd like to join us, check out the blog. Happy Humping!

Monday, February 18, 2013

For Writers, By Writers | Writing Basics

Writing is hard work. Rewarding, yes. Creative, yes. Liberating and expressive, definitely.

Easy? Um, no.

The bitch of it is, there are tons of books, magazines, online articles, lists, workshops, programs, videos, and everything else people can think of that try to teach people how to write. But not everyone can write.

There. I said it.

The real reason not everyone can write is that not everyone has the ability to write well. Nobody has it, but everyone can learn it. There's a science to writing. Nobody's born knowing how to write. Those with the inner fire, that drive, that incessant need, go out and learn how to write to the best of their ability. They have the voracious need to learn more, always more.

Do you have that kind of hunger to write?

Now, don't get me wrong. Will everyone be able to learn how to write like Chaucer, or Jane Austen? Hell no. Maybe their writing will be more like J. D. Salinger and have more swear words than The Catcher in the Rye. Maybe it'll read more like Charlie Gordon's journal entries in Flowers for Algernon, which would be wonderful because, despite his butchery of the written word in the beginning and end, Charlie's prose was genuine, flowing, and heart-wrenching.

Should you aim to write like them? Well, yes and no. I'll get to that later.

The above picture speaks of resistance. What separates the writer hopefuls from published authors is more than just planting your butt in a chair and plunking away at the keyboard until a finished MS is born. Any hack can scratch out a finished MS.


Yeah, yeah, plenty of people love NaNoWriMo and say that just finishing a MS is a huge achievement. For me, getting out of bed every morning is a huge achievement, but nobody gives me a medal for it. Why not? Because the real work comes after that MS is done, and that is what separates writer hopefuls from published authors.

And what's the real work?

Know your tools. Know them, and use them. A lot.

Know your writing tools.
Just like the first simple tools that separated our progenitors from the rest of primitive life (cue 2001: A Space Odyssey music) our writing tools are what separate the serious writer from the hobbyists with delusions of grandeur.

Now, I'm really not trying to alienate anyone. But have you noticed that there is just something different from the serious writer versus the writer hopeful who talks a great talk but somehow can't get that first MS accepted? Or, God forbid, the wannabe who talks about getting published but hasn't even submitted?

So...why the resistance?

The first writing tool that should be in your toolbox is Being.

Yes. Being. It's as much a fundamental characteristic as anything else about you. It's what makes you, you. This is the absolute, unwavering, fundamental knowledge that you are a writer. Before you use any other adjective on yourself, "I am a writer," should be it.

I am a writer.

Not, "Well, I write some on the weekends," or "Yeah, here's some of my poetry/a short story/some ideas for a book I have." Not any other tepid statement that holds back from that solid claim. It might feel presumptuous. So what? Even if you have nothing published yet, take it! Who cares about feeling embarrassed if someone points out that you're not published, so it's just a hobby at this point?

Fuck that shit, and take it! Own it.

Did you know the San Francisco Examiner told Kipling that he didn't know how to use the English language? C. S. Lewis was rejected over 800 times before he sold anything. One publisher told Nabokov that Lolita was "overwhelmingly nauseating, even to an enlightened Freudian." Ouch. Dune, one of the most stunning examples of science fiction in history, was rejected 20 times. And 17 publishers passed on Cabot's The Princess Diaries.

No one would argue that those were writers, yet at some point...they weren't.

So in this new series I'll have for you every third Monday of the month, For Writers By Writers, we start with Writing Basics. The first item is Know your tools. And your first tool is Being. Know what you are.

And what are you?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Review: Be Still, My Love

Be Still, My LoveBe Still, My Love by Deborah J. Hughes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm surprised at how much I actually enjoyed this book. It took me a little while to get interested in the beginning, and I thought this was going to be another unremarkable book to add to my Kindle regrets, but just the opposite happened. It grew on me.

I loved finding out more about Tess and her ability. I loved her worldview and how she approached her own life as well as the afterlife. She applied those same rules and philosophies to her own troubles, unlike so many heroines in fiction these days who believe double-standards can reasonably apply to them. Tess was definitely one of the rare, intelligent ones.

There was always something interesting going on at the resort, new twists and small signs that let me figure out the mystery along with Tess and the others, which I appreciated. The plot and mystery itself were well-planned and I appreciated the foreshadowing. The Sixth Sense-like twist on the end with the groundskeeper was a nice touch. I kept wondering what was up with him, and what he was hiding.

I had hoped to find out more about the connection between Abigail and the characters in Tess' own story. I can assume it is the same story, only played out with different names, but she writes in it several times...and then nothing more is ever mentioned about it. Also, the character Modesta was a little insulting. She states towards the beginning she was born in America, yet speaks with the type of broken English common with Mexican immigrants. If she were native-born, wouldn't she be fluent? My parents were first-generation Mexican-Americans, as well as most of my cousins, and their English is perfect. The misrepresentation of a Mexican woman, born in America, yet unable to speak basic English fluently is just a tad on the ignorant side. If she were an immigrant in America only a few years, she would have been a perfect character.

Yet, on the whole, I'm surprised how much I enjoyed this book.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Duchess of War Excerpt

Happy Hump Day! It is once again time for the Hump Day Hook, where writers get together and share little hooks of a work-in-progress, a new release, or anything of theirs they want to hook you into knowing more about!

If you're interested in being a Hooker yourself, head on over to the Hump Day Hook Blog and add yourself to the list!

For this week's hook, I'm once again featuring my WIP, Duchess of War. Anya is getting to know her new maids, who also had served the former Duchess of Eodel.


Amélie shook her head. "That's the strange thing about it. The late Duchess was an excellent swimmer, and she visited the seaside in Tynes all the time." Her voice grew bitter. "The Duke and Lord Tynes are practically brothers."

"Hush, Amie. Tynes couldn't have done anything." Margaud shifted on the bed, not wanting to jostle Anya.

Amélie jumped up from her place on the floor and folded her arms as she glared out the window. "Well, someone did."

"I don't understand." Anya's voice caught in her throat. She swallowed hard and realized she did understand and just didn't want to.

Amélie looked over her shoulder at Anya, pain and loss etched in her face even after all these years later. "We think she was murdered."


Thanks for visiting! If you enjoyed that and want more hooks, please visit the other members of the Hump Day Hook group and show them some love! Head on over to the Facebook group if you'd like to join us, check out the blog, or use the Linky list below. Happy Humping!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Review: Call Me, Maybe: Sexual Caresses at an Airport

Call Me, Maybe: Sexual Caresses at an AirportCall Me, Maybe: Sexual Caresses at an Airport by Liz Adams

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Call Me, Maybe: Sexual Caresses at an Airport is a fabulous read. To use a quaint cliche, it's short but sweet. Definitely a fun bit to have when you just want to kick up your feet and relax with something clever and lighthearted.

I loved reading from Jonathan's point of view. He's curious, honest, creative, and still idealistic enough to chase his dreams, whether it's his writing or a love connection in another country. His thought process throughout the entire thing made sense, and even as the new twists came up (like Aliza challenging him, realizing they were both finding their sexual limits) he was honest about all of it while still maintaining the integrity of his experiment AND even as he knew that what was happening between them went much deeper than his theory.

And he made me laugh! Liz's writing got me genuinely enthusiastic at times, both the creativity and technical aspects, which I admit doesn't happen often. I loved this story because the writing was solid, the formatting and editing was great (which means there was nothing to distract me from the story), the characters were genuine, and the characters were mature and true to their natures. And Liz really did her research on what it's like to be a Psych student on a mission! Definitely impressive. It might say "sexual caresses at an airport," but it's about so much more! Definitely worth picking up.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Review: The Wolf in the Neighborhood

The Wolf in the NeighborhoodThe Wolf in the Neighborhood by Phoenix Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Phoenix Johnson's "The Wolf in the Neighborhood" was well-executed and charming. I loved her take on the wolf, Derek. It wasn't your typical "guy gets bit, guy grows fur, guy starts chasing the mailman and lifting his leg along the fence line" werewolf story. How Derek became the wolf was sad, but had a nice spin on it.

I also particularly loved Krissy and Derek's "love at first sight" and how they handled it. Both were comfortable with themselves, caught up in the thrill of their new relationship, but without all of the typical angst and romanticizing. As a couple and as individuals, they were still very realistic about the whole thing, which I appreciated. It ended on a bit of a cliffhanger with a new element introduced right on the last page (darn it all!) so I'll definitely be looking forward to the next installment.

The only complaint I had was during the big rescue scene, the character playing the hero did a little too much explaining with a little too much detail. In the heat of the moment in the eagerness to escape, I'm not sure everyone would be happy hanging around listening to a long, detailed story (even with as enjoyable as I found that particular character). That could have come in much shorter snippets without as much detail and I would've been just fine. However, it wasn't enough to lower my rating.

Definitely worth picking up!

View all my reviews

Go get your copy now over at!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Duchess of War Excerpt

Happy Hump Day, and that means it's time for another Hump Day Hook!

This little snippet is from my current work-in-progress Duchess of War, the full-length sequel to Of Hallowed Fiends and Darkest Fortune from Naughty Nights Press. Last time on Hump Day Hook we saw Anya on the horrible "morning after," afraid to get out of bed for fear she'd wake her new husband. Now she's been tended to, given painkillers, and left to rest by herself in her new rooms as Duchess.


Anya shut her eyes, counted to ten, and opened them again. The same bed curtains hung overhead, cracked just a little to let a smidge of light in. 


She shut her eyes and counted to one hundred, wishing the entire time she would finally wake up and be home. It never worked. In her dank cell, she had counted to ten thousand and still it had not worked.


This little piece always makes me so sad when I read it! I hope you enjoyed the Hump Day Hook at The Printed Fox! For more hooks, go to the HDH Blog, join the group on Facebook or sign up in the Linky list below! Happy Humping!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Review: Ascent

Ascent (The Party Series, #1)Ascent by Amy Kinzer

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Had this been given to a good editor as a manuscript, it might have been considerably better. There were a ton of typos and grammatical errors that an editor would have corrected, and that seriously detracted from the reading. The characters all read the same, even using the exact same descriptions (sometimes the exact same phrases!) to describe certain things. There was no depth to them at all. In fact, if I didn't read the character's name whose POV marks each chapter, I was never able to tell whose head I was in until they started whining about their particular trauma.

The entire thing was so repetitive I just started skimming at about the 35% mark. So many of those chapters could have been cut completely because they added nothing to the story except more of the same whining and reinforcing --yet again-- why they joined the Party.

This book had an over-inflated sense of its own specialness as a story. It is not worth spreading out over multiple books. If Ascent had been tightened into four well-written, cohesive chapters with good pacing, it would have been a fantastic lead-in for the real story. Instead, it was boring and juvenile.

I won't be reading the sequel.

View all my reviews

The above review is what I submitted to Goodreads. I think I'll start posting my book reviews as another part of this blog. Sometimes it's good to see what's out there. Sometimes I regret even looking.

As a writer, one of the reasons I'm supposed to be reading new material is to see what's out there, what's trending, and use what's available to help improve my own writing. What really pisses me off is that most of what's out there now is absolute drivel and does nothing but threaten to give me an overinflated sense of my own talent.

Great. Now I'll have to read Loretta Chase or Herman Melville to remind me of my place.

It reminds me a lot of those poor people on American Idol who absolutely suck, but none of their family or friends had the decency to tell them they sucked before they could humiliate themselves on national television. That's what so many of these new (mainly self-pubbed via Amazon) authors remind me of, and it irritates me. No evidence of an editor in sight, no real grasp of the English language, and storytelling which faceplants across broken glass and rusty scrap metal.

If you're going to write, at the very least have a firm grasp of the rules of the language in which you are writing. And if you don't, then why the hell are you writing? Seriously? Okay, not everyone can sound like Chaucer. At least have basic grammar, spelling, and punctuation under your belt. The rest, trust to an experienced editor who knows the language better than you do and has a proven track record. Join a critique group with a reputation for possessing actual critical thinking skills. Put on your big author panties and don't get so butt-hurt when people don't gush over your crappy structure and logistic nightmares.

Writing like I found in Ascent pisses me off because it has now become an example of acceptable standards when, instead, the author either didn't care about the work needed to produce a good book with quality writing, or didn't want to do it. Either way, she does not deserve to have this book out. It's an example of another wannabe rushing towards the dream without earning it.

The rest of us work our asses off, and it shows.