Thursday, March 29, 2012

Murder, Mystery, Prizes and More - Meet Author Harlow Coban

Today I'm excited to saying that I'm hosting author, Harlow Coban on tour with her new book Life in Death.

As part of the tour, Harlow has offered participants a chance to win any number of prizes.  They include, but are not limited to:
Amazon Gift Cards
Book Lover Note Cards
Kindle Cover
Book Tote
Hunger Games Trilogy

So comment frequently today for a both a better chance to win, and more importantly, to get to know the author and learn more about her book.  Let's see if we can get a conversation going!   I know I'm intrigued just by the title.  Life in Death - kind of gets you thinking doesn't it?

Anyway, enough babble from me.  Let's begin with the leading question - who is Harlow Coban?

Author, Harlow Coban was born in Kansas City, MO but grew up in Denver, CO.  She relocated to North Carolina five years ago with her husband, two dogs, and 16-year-old twins.

She shares a birthday with the notorious Napoleon Bonaparte.  In keeping with his legacy, she is currently working on taking over the world.  Harlow's positive attitude and fresh take on life are her tools and conquest is certain.

She spends her free time writing, dancing, traveling and defending mailboxes from her 16-year-old twins' driving.

Her debut novel, LIFE IN DEATH (February 2012), is a murder mystery which pulls from real-life situations from her own family history.  She felt compelled to share her story with the world while offering a thrilling, entertaining, and amusing escape for readers.

In keeping with her commitment to improving the lives of children, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of her book will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club in her home state of North Carolina.

And now I'm turning it over to Harlow who kicks off with the sentence I posed for her to finish:  Life hasn't been quite the same since....   The hitch is that the story must be about a trip.  But that trip can be anything from a journey around the world to a jaunt to the corner store. 

Welcome Harlow! 

Life hasn't been quite the same since...Myrtle Beach

It was the Thursday before a weekend trip to Myrtle Beach.  On a whim, I decided to get my hair done.  My stylist was out of town, so I used a new stylist.

I had my shoulder length hair cut into a chin length bob.  Upon seeing my reflection in the mirror, I had one thought:  "Fred Flintstone wants his head back."  I had no idea short hair could make your face look fat.

Next, I asked her to give me blonde highlights.  Bad idea!  I was speechless when she showed me her handiwork.  The highlights were more like globs of color--canary yellow to be exact.  My hair was ruined and I prayed for death.  

I stopped at a store on the way home and picked up a hat.  Tufts of yellow hair peeked out from underneath the brim.  I simply could not hide my hideous hair.

My husband--a man of few words--had some for me:  "Oh my god.  What happened?"  I cried all night.  

The next morning, we drove to Myrtle Beach.  I'd temporarily forgotten about my hair until I caught sight of myself in the hotel lobby mirror.  I was horrified all over again.  I needed a wig.  Why hadn't I thought of that sooner?

We trolled Myrtle Beach for wig stores and finally found one.  You could only try on three wigs per visit.  I know, right?  I selected the best of the three wigs I'd tried on and wore it out of the store.  I felt better immediately.
We spent the remainder of the trip lounging on the beach and sightseeing.  Somehow, my wig managed to stay in place as I rode a zip line.

I will never, ever, ever use a different stylist.

Bad hair days are no joke.

Blurb for Life In Death:

When a girl that social worker Kari Marchant places in foster care is brutally murdered, she's compelled to learn why.  Her quest for the truth pits her against friends and coworkers.  As Karl works to solve the horrific plot, more people die.  She's been targeted for death and she doesn't even know it.  How far should she go to learn the truth--even if it threatens her life?

When homicide detective Rance Nicolet meets Kari, his attraction to her is powerful--and the feeling is mutual.  But things between them go terribly wrong when Kari's old lover is found murdered with a letter from her in his pocket.  The evidence against Kari is damning.  Rance's personal and professional lives collide.  Does he blindly believe the woman he's falling in love with or follow the evidence no matter where it leads?  

Excerpt from Life In Death:

"Frost.  Call on line one."  The voice boomed overhead and interrupted Scott Frost mid-climb.  He jumped off his truck, pushed up the sleeves on his dingy green work shirt and walked to the phone mounted on the wall, his face a scowl of irritation.

He grabbed the receiver.  "Hello."

"They found Patience," his wife, Andrea, whispered.

Mammoth garbage trucks rumbled and shook the walls as they rolled out into the street for the day's work, their giant bellies hungry for trash.  Scott strained to hear his wife over the noise.

"I told you never to call me here."

"Do you know what they did to her?"  Her voice rose an octave.

"Hold it together."  He clenched his fist and resisted the impulse to smash it through the wall.  "She's the one who ran off."

"She didn't deserve that.  Nobody deserves that."

The phone slipped a bit in his sweaty hand.  Tolerance had never been one of Scott's virtues, and what little he did have waned with each whiny word his wife uttered.  "It'll all be over soon, you know that."

"They won't let us out."

He gnashed his teeth together until the noise in his head drowned out the roar of garbage trucks.  The pumping of his heart escalated and Scott imagined he could feel his blood pressure rising.

"Damn it, Andrea, take a valium.  These people are dangerous.  They'll kill us if we flake out."

Harlow loves to connect with her readers and can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads
and her website -

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Books, Books, Books - I Stumbled On An Author

Stumbled?  Not exactly but I'm excited to say that I'm hosting an author on tour.  Harlow Coban will be stopping by with her new book, a murder mystery,  Life in Death.  It all happens Thursday, March 29.  It's a great chance to chat with the author and find out more about the book.  I even heard a rumour that there might be a prize or even prizes associated with her tour. 

New books - a chance to explore another world.

Pop by Thursday for a chance to meet Harlow.  I know I'm looking forward to it.  
Hope to see you here!


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Out of No Where - Tagged Twice

Seems like the issue of luck keeps popping up - the last blog and St. Paddy's Day, the goose, and the latest - being tagged, twice.  Let's deal with the first tagged, really more a splat than a tag, nor was it as pleasant as the second.  Out of no where a Canada Goose deposited what appeared to be a bucket load of something special on our truck windshield.  But wait after it's all been scrubbed off I remember the woman from Moose Jaw who was quoted on the radio saying that she knew it would be a good day "a bird pooped on her head."  Okay, sounds rather insane to me but it had me thinking - is being targeted by a bird on its way to the bird biffy really good luck?

Apparently it is.   No really, take a look at wiki answers if you don't believe me. So I waited for my good luck.

and waited..

and waited.....

Still waiting....

And then out of the blue I was tagged.  No more goose poop, just a friendly writer and fellow blogger stopping by with a comment and an invite.  I was tagged for the Lucky 7 Meme to share page 77, line 7, 7 sentences of my latest story.  And in exchange I will tag seven others.  And as there's no rating on my blog so there is a bleep for one expletive I'll leave out for now.  Kind of makes it like watching a movie on TV where the bleeping can be quite annoying.  And I never understood why we can watch someone die in a blood bath but we can't hear a watered-down curse.  However, that said here it is, my excerpt:

"The social media is just beginning to heat up." Manuel's voice seemed to drop and he folded his arms.

"Just beginning is it?"  It's more than that Vargas," Bruce snarled.  He pushed off from the wall and faced the smaller man.  "I don't have time to play games.  You were behind the destruction at some of the agave plantations."

"It was premature, I admit."  Manuel shrugged.

"Premature?  It was "bleeping" stupid, that's what it was."

So head on over and check out Daily Drama of an Aspiring Writer - there's more of the tag scoop there and a book excerpt and lots more.  so here's the seven writers I've tagged.  Whether they post an excerpt or not their blogs are fantastic places to visit:
The rules - post page 77, line 7, 7 sentences of your latest story and then tag 7 other writers to do the same.

1) Adam Heine
2) Marcia Colette
3) Jon Paul
4) Lisa McManus Lange
5) Clueless Eve
6) Charles Tulsipher
7) Donna McBroom-Theriot

Meantime, hopefully there's good luck to come.  We'll see.  What I do know is that on March 29th I'll be hosting Harlow Coban and her new book Life in Death.  Stop on by for a preview  of what I'm sure will be a good read. 

And for all those of you tagged or not, that might be curious who you write like, there's a site where you can plug in a bit of your writing to find out.  Check it out at Where Sky Meets Ground.  It's good for a chuckle anyway - my excerpt says I write like Jack London.  Hmmm - in my dreams, maybe.  What famous writer can you claim?


Monday, March 19, 2012

A Dram or Two of Irish Luck

So St. Patrick's Day is over and apparently all chances of luck for the weekend with it.  Not that Saturday wasn't a good day.  But I've always considered St. Patrick's Day one of good luck and to justify my position - that morning I found a penny gleaming on the kitchen floor.  I know, I know but I cling to what bits of superstitious attempts at luck I can get.  Or maybe I can extrapolate my luck into the upcoming week.  Maybe if I lay my luck requirements out on the table that will change things up.

So here it goes.  I'm hoping it's good news for the story that currently out to publishers.  I'm hoping, as a back up of course, that I get a writer's grant this year.  So far I've been accepted two times, it's my favourite rejection by the way.  No you heard right, I was accepted both times, and then rejected - kind of.  Here's how it goes.  The letter arrives with a beginning like this:  "dear applicant we have accepted your project for funding, unfortunately by the time we came to your name available funds were exhausted."  The first time I puzzled over how they could accept and reject me in the same letter and the second time I only laughed.  This time, I'm just hoping. 

So while blatant good luck, you know that smeary blob of "Oh my God" didn't make an immediate appearance, there's been some good things these last few days.  So here it goes - my last go around on revisions on a recent book are done and sent off.  Two batches of Income Tax are mailed - I can only say Hallelujia because if the government wanted one more form completed I might just land on the steps of the Parliament Buildings and treat them rather like the Wailing Wall.  I remember a segment of Sixty Minutes with Andy Rooney as he went on a tirade about the unnecessary complication of income tax forms, how he didn't begrudge the state their fair share but he begrudged the complexity of the whole thing and then they panned to stacks of legislation that towered around him.  Now that was the United States but I fear it's only a symptom of modern day western governments.  Canadian Income Tax has towers of its own legislation and hours of frustration for any do-it-yourself filer.  But it's done, two sets, and that alone is celebration! 

And the weather is good!  Yes, on the prairies it's all about the weather.    But the snow is pretty much gone which is amazing for this time of year and 8c with gale force winds, wind aside, is considered exceedingly balmy for this time of year.  That's got to be a bit of luck - wouldn't you say?

Did the luck of the Irish visit you this weekend? 


Monday, March 12, 2012

The Snowman's Dead - Almost...

We're at the breakthrough point - it's still winter but spring is prodding at the snow.  It's all happening earlier and quicker than other years.  And that's okay too.

Some days it's mud and slush and other days its ice and snow.  Depends on the weather or maybe just Mother Nature's mood.  It's definitely a messy and quirky time of year.  Who knows, we may still get a bout of full-fledged winter.  Meantime, in my back easement there's a drain covered with clay and ice - courtesy of a contractor who finished a job last fall and left a pile of clay behind.

Clogged drain with spring run-off just beginning to threaten, not a good thing.  So I took the shovel out and hammered away.  The result?  Two full blown blisters and a third threatening and some arm muscles that keep reminding me that they exist.  The drain?  Still plugged.  I thought about going out there today but you know, it was cold enough that the water wasn't running, and therefore that was my excuse.

So instead I worked on finishing up that story that had some clogs in its own drain.  Turned out that was much easier on my blisters and much more successful than the frozen-clay escapade from yesterday.  Taking a break yesterday and doing some physical labour actually got the creative side flowing again.  Now, if a few days is enough to cure those blisters - I'll head out tomorrow and set out to work on that drain, or as I like to now call it - my creative workout program. 

And on the horizon, I'm hosting an author on tour later in the month - with her latest, a murder mystery.  More details later.  In the meantime, here's a pic of my Ring of Desire in Petra.  Was I there?  No.  But a friend trotted that book half way across the globe to end up with this shot. 


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Do It Froggy Style

Do it Froggy Style.    It's a line that catches your attention, at least it caught mine.  And I am now a customer.  Of what you ask or maybe that was why?  It's actually the catch phrase of an ale, "Dead Frog".  Yes, the catchy titles and taglines just don't go away.  I know, it's a strange beer for a "creature lover" to want to buy.  But it's the sweetest little nut brown.  There you go my plug for the beer manufacturer.

Dead Frog - a unique title for a pretty compelling little ale.  Like the beer's unique approach to advertising, there's any number of ways of approaching a writing career.  Hah!  And you thought this was going to be about promotion.  Maybe it should have been - but I veered.

Anyway - yes the topic, writing careers.  Immersed as I am in the world of romance and women's fiction I don't often get to see the "other half".  Just last weekend I discovered that other world at the Saskatchewan Writers Guild Workshop, or as they call it, "Talking Fresh".

It was a whole collection of writers that stretched from novels in many genres, to poets and screenwriters and....  And while the gist of the day was adapting fiction to the screen, what I mostly heard in the talks that were given was writers' journeys.  There was one author whose writing seemed to span from poetry to novels and had managed an amazing book tour that stretched through North America and overseas.  That seemed oddly surreal in a world where an author is unlikely to even get a virtual tour hosted by the publisher - and fascinating because of that. And while they were all amazing, it was the screenwriter who topped the day.  And truthfully, I was going to leave before that talk began because really, I don't want to be a screenwriter when "I grow up".  I was sure glad I stayed.  Like the Dead Frog beer, there was unexpected value in that talk.  A vibrant, rollicking talk through the ins and outs of the business of film and television adaptation.  Not only that but I discovered a new author - new to me.  Ian Hamilton's first book is being adapted to film and whether a movie is eventually made or not  - I'm for sure going to read the book.  Sounds like he's created a kick-ass heroine.  But that aside, the screenwriter herself, Karen Walton was a fascinating person to listen to.  And in the end, I was surprised to have one thing in common - we both write in our pajamas - at least I do, occasionally.  Of course that might just be an occupational hazard.  After all, what else do you wear in the early or waning hours of the day?

Snow cleared from street.
But what I loved best about the whole day was the vignettes I came away with, a bevy of new characters.  And yes, the scenarios were all assumptions on my part, destined to become fictional characters with no taste for reality.   Maybe the woman dressed in worn pastel sweats with the hair spiraled in all directions isn't a bad dresser but has lost her executive position and has nothing else to wear - her life is spiraling like her hair and all that is left is her author's dream.  Maybe the woman with the well-coiffed hair and the knowing smile in my direction assumed I knew who she was because she really was somebody - famous, maybe.  Is it a love of information or of lust that has riveted the thin man, mid-audience, to what the speaker is saying - I know he hasn't moved and his mouth is open and his face has rather a mesmerized look like a hooked fish.  But you see where I'm going with this - it was a day for learning and for people watching.  Probably that was the best part of the day, the people watching bit, the assumptions I made and the characters that came out of something real and became fiction before I'd even gotten out the door.

So in the end I came out with some surprising writing tips and inspired enough to get at it as soon as possible.  New faces - new ideas, always inspiring no matter what your passion.

And you - what gets you over the bumps and gets you going?