One More Day to enter!

Just a reminder to readers out there! If you haven't entered the Before Dawn Breaks Name Contest, you got one more day to enter. I'm gearing up the goodies now to send to the winner. Woo hoo!

In other news, I'm starting to get back on track after having some internet issues last week.

Today I attended the Athena Writer's club in SL to see author LA Banks speak at Story Mountain Lodge. It was awesome (and I loved her av!). I learned a lot about her writing process, how she became prolific and how she became such a success. One of the things about Ms Banks that really inspires me is how she does so well across a multitude of genres. In this biz, I'm always hearing about how hard it is to find a reader base if you don't stick to just one genre. I love to write different kinds of stories and some of these stories in habit different worlds, times and moods which crosses genres at times. As a multigenre reader, I love to read based on my mood and my interests at the time which can swing from straight romance to paranormal romance to sci-fi and suspense/thrillers. My books are literally starting to overtake my home with the amount I've been collecting *laughs*. Hopefully I can provide the same comfort for my readers out there. :-)

Book sales decline, but e-book sales rise



Promwad's E-book cover concept design


The Southern Review reports:

Book sales decline as consumers cut spending in contracting economy

Net sales of books in April fell 3.5 percent to $472.7 million, based on data from 79 publishers as reported to the Association of American Publishers. For the year to date, net sales of books were $2.183 billion, unchanged from the same period last year.

Not all sales were down. Among those that increased were:

bulletE-book sales rose 19.9 percent to $3.4 million.
bulletUniversity press hardcover sales rose 12.1 percent to $5.6 million.
bulletAdult mass market sales rose 4.7 percent to $53.2 million.
bulletAdult trade paperback sales rose 4.5 percent to $118.3 million.
bulletAudiobook sales rose 1.7 percent to $12.6 million.

Among declining categories:

bulletHigher Ed sales declined 30.5 percent to $8 million.
bulletReligious books decreased 21.5 percent to $34.2 million.
bulletChildren's/YA hardcover sales dropped 19.9 percent to $39 million.
bulletUniversity press paperbacks dropped two percent to $2.7 million).
bulletAdult hardcover sales were down 4.6 percent to $110 million.
bulletChildren's/YA paperback sales dropped 3.1 percent to $39.3 million.

Not surprising considering the massive price of hardcovers which is a good chunk of gas money. E-books were gaining momentum even before Tor and HQN got on the map and now with the e-readers, iphone and blackberries, it's even easier to acquire and read the downloaded books. Now if we can only get rid of DRM and find a singular format to read across devices, we'll really see a rise in E-books!

Zoe: A classic love story


From the moment I saw the cover for Zoe by T.A. Ford, I was entranced. The rich pastel textures reminded me of sweet confections reminiscent of beautiful previous century tapestries. The fact that a beautiful girl with smooth coffee skin instead of the usual porcelain complexion graced the cover made me sit up and take notice along with the laced title.

I don't usually read historical romances, mainly because the heroines were of the run of the mill same variety without much difference between them. Thus I couldn't find much interest. I did read historical fiction, like the Feast of July & Legends of the Fall, and many movies that took placed in the previous century that were adapted from books still grace my shelves to this day.

However Zoe has helped introduced me to a new love in a genre I hope to find more of in the coming days: IR Historical Romance.

And yet it's so much more than that.

From the moment we're introduced to Zoe, her sister Marianne and her stepmother Madame we enter a world of rare privilege and high society. Where women's futures are defined by the men they marry. Marianne is set to ride this path as she is to meet with the Count Julien La Roque de Toulouse as they enter his home. But once the Count sees Zoe, he is entranced by her and sets to make her his.

Most of the synopsis is in the back of the book so I won't recount it. I'll share my thoughts on the book instead.

In a word, this book is magnificent. A richly described novel that takes you into the depths of the character's turmoils, loves, frustrations and fights as they interact in early 19th century Toulouse, France. Author T.A. Ford takes you on a journey of the self discovery of her title character as she leaves childhood behind and enters womanhood. There were so many beautiful descriptions and wonderful quotes. One in particular stands out:

She reached down and pulled up the covers. She
understood now that being a woman was not losing her virginity.

Being a woman meant understanding her heart.

Zoe is definitely a strong independent female character forced to grow up wiser than her years due to the inhumanity she grew up around as a child and that she was reminded of by her stepmother everyday. Even through all the atrocities she faces and as she fears the loss of her family and her loves heart, you can't help but love her and keep cheering her on as she struggles to survive a cruel world.

Count LaRoque is a complex romance hero that defies mere terms like that of alpha and beta. He lives and breathes right off the pages as he goes from cold hearted womanizer to lovelorn hero within the pages. Once his past is revealed, it all becomes clear.

Author T.A. Ford said this book is part factual and part fantasy and I can see where some liberties may have been taken. But overall the book feels like it could have taken place in a very real time not too long ago. The descriptions of the scenery as well the character's dresses and actions made it seem like a period movie played out in my head as I read. I wished all the more that my dreams for directing had already come to light as this would definitely be a story I would be more than eager to adapt for the visual medium of storytelling (with the author's consent and guidance of course ;-) ).

I can't say enough about Zoe and I can't remember when a book last had me cheering out loud one minute, crying the next, and yelling in surprise the next minute after that. I started reading the book late last night with only the idea of reading one chapter and ended up reading until the sun started rising outside my window. Tonight I finished the second half of the book and haven't remember plowing through a good book in that short amount of time since I was thirteen reading Jurassic Park in three days.

This book has definitely made it to my keeper shelf and I can't wait to reread it again later. The book may seem rather costly but do not let that sway you. It is an amazing, entertain and beautiful read that you should definitely check out.

Zoe has earned it's way as number 1 on my best reads of 2008 list and I can't wait to see what else T.A. Ford has in store for her readers. I hope IR Historical Romances start popping up like Zoe, because if they do, I'll definitely be eating them up like hot cakes!

A highly recommended read.

New Release! Before Dawn Breaks

It's July 1st and you know what that means!

Before Dawn Breaks is now available from Freya's Bower!



Alexandra Lyons is a cold, seductive assassin, skilled in the art of killing. Camilla Angelson is a bubbly writer enjoying the quiet life as a recent graduate from college. Both women are the same person. Unfortunately, her former employer, the secret government bureau that hired her, knows this all too well.

Josh Mayer is a former secret service agent looking to pick up the pieces of his life after a messy divorce from a cheating wife and a job of putting his life on the line. Doubling as a restaurateur and an "unofficial" undercover agent, the beautiful female target he is protecting may be the same one he is willing to risk his life and, most of all, his heart to save.

Soon, Josh must put his life on the line to evade an unknown killer that ties them all the way to a money-laundering scheme involving the newest presidential candidate to the White House. Meanwhile, Alexandra's heart is warmed with Josh at her side as she slowly remembers the dark past she left behind.

Rating: Sweet

Book Length: Novel

Price: $5.75

Genre: Romantic Suspense/Contemporary

Available @ Freya's Bower

July Spotlight on Author T.A. Ford



I'm always excited to hear about new authors and this month we have a special treat for you with an especially hot author and a very cool book just in time for summer reading.

Meet T.A. Ford.

A wonderful author who should be an inspiration to all aspiring storytellers wanting to share their work through publication. As she shared her own story, I couldn't help being amazed at her determination to push the naysayers aside and continue to bring her story to publication on her own terms despite the standard industry roadblocks standing in her way. Now her debut novel is a favorite among readers and is still being shared through word of mouth (not to mention, it skipped a few books to the top of my TBR pile hehe). Ms. T, my hats off to you! :-)

Born in the beautiful city of Miami, Florida Ms. Ford began writing at the early age of eight. The oldest of two children with a schoolteacher for a mother, she was taught the power of words and of the countless adventures that could be found between the pages of a book.

An avid reader of romantic fiction and lover of television soap operas, Ms. Ford adapted the online persona of ‘The Diva’, and began blogging in 2005. Constantly frustrated by the inadequate portrayal of women of color in daytime TV, she created an online community known as Divasnluv, where new and published writers shared their stories. As ‘The Diva’ she wrote fanfiction and promoted fantastic tales off of characters either ignored or poorly written for on her favorite shows. Within a year her blogging and popularity grew, and so did the demand for her work.

Ms. Ford has written over 40 Chick Lit stories centered on multi-cultural romance. Now, she enters the world of publishing with the release of her first novel, Zoé. This historical romance captures Ms. Ford’s ability to transform an unlikely heroine into every woman’s inspiration.

Ms. Ford is currently working on two projects: a contemporary romance and a murder mystery, both to be released in 2008. Plans are also underway to transform her most popular online work, an eight-segment series about the unlikely romance between an African American fashion designer and an Irish-Italian Mafia kingpin, into print in 2009.

T.A. Ford lives in southern Georgia and is the proud aunt of three. She is employed as a Product Development Manager for an online technology company, and enjoys the arts, writing, and blogging. To stay up to date with her book signings and future release dates, please click here.

I had a virtual sit down with T.A. and offered her some questions for insight on her work, her writing process and also what she has in store for future projects.

Q: When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
Fortunately, it was decided for me. I just didn’t realize it until 4 years ago. My mother a retired school teacher and avid reader and poet gave me the foundation. Our shared love of words and my overactive imagination sealed the deal. Now writing is my life and I thank god for it!

Q: How would you describe the genre in which you do most of your writing?
The publishing industry calls it ‘multi-cultural fiction’. Readers of my work call it Interracial Romance. I believe it to be nothing more than romantic fiction, featuring women of color and a rainbow of choices of men that love them. Funny you can pick up a Harlequin romance with a white woman and Italian man and not get the same labeling. Go figure.

Q: Do you write everyday? How much time do you spend on your writing?
Yes! I write every single day. Mostly between the hours of 3 and 6 in the morning or 6 and 9 in the evening. I actually write a lot of stories for free and run and fan fiction archive. I don’t write for fame or fortune, I write because it’s who I am. I couldn’t stop if I wanted too.

Q: What sets the book apart from the other things you have written?
Zoé is so drastically different from my non-published work, and that’s why I chose it first. First it’s a historical interracial romance set in France. Something rarely promoted from the perspective of a black woman. The experiences of Zoé are so far removed from my own, that she is truly the most original character I’ve ever written.

The story is part fantasy part factual. To tell a love story during that time period was the most rewarding and challenging endeavor I’ve ever undertaken. Remarkably enough the differences between my hero and heroine are not what endears them to you, it’s the ways they are so much the same. I love he idea of love, especially in the forbidden – and that’s what Zoé is: the forbidden. .

Q: What will your next book be about?
Surprisingly nothing like my first!. It’s called Masquerade and yes it is interracial. The heroine is a southern black girl from the bible belt South, trying to strike it big in the Big City – New York. The hero is a jaded Irish American business man ten years her senior. The story is unique in the cast of characters from Latin to Caribbean the lives they lead in New York and they ways they collide is quite a dramatic ride.

Zoé


Beautiful Zoé Bouchard, born into a life of privilege, knows little of the world outside of her small village of Narbonne, France. The product of une petite liaison between her father and his African mistress, Zoé wants only one thing: to maintain the love and adoration showered upon her by her father, adoration that is shared by her half-sister also. However, Zoé’s stepmother, jealous of those affections, has long resented having to raise a mulatto alongside her own daughter, Marianne, in French society.

Marianne at sixteen, the younger by two years, has reached the age to marry, and must be wed first. Thus the girls are ushered from their village and presented to the mysterious, philandering Comte Julien La Roque de Toulouse. Though Zoé fears life under her stepmother’s tyranny without Marianne, she embarks, supportively, on what she believes to be a new beginning in their lives.

The Count immediately takes a shine to the tawny brown demoiselle who stands in her fair sister’s shadow. Discovering her love for poetry and preying upon her naïveté, he lures Zoé to his chamber with the promise of friendship and the exchange of poems. Soon Zoé is seduced by a surprising glimpse of the man behind the title. She finds herself deep in a passionate liaison, one that is well beyond her youthful understanding.

Desperate to cover her foolish lapse in judgment, Zoé races against time to keep the affair a secret. But when the truth is discovered by her cruel stepmother, Zoé’s hopes of rescue by her father cannot be realized, and she is forced into a bitter bargain. She must secure her sister’s betrothal by offering herself to the Count as a consolation prize.

Zoé’s attempts to return the attentions of the Count to her sister Marianne are thwarted by a visiting American slave owner, who also discovers the illicit affair. And worse, his interference brings about the sudden death of her father, who suffers a heart attack over his daughter’s betrayal.

Despite everything, Zoé believes in the Count’s feelings for her and begs him to legitimize their union. But fear, prejudice and cowardice prevent him from doing so. The day her beloved father is buried, she is sold to the American slave trader and forced into a life of certain misfortune. Her only salvation is to trust the one person who has created the labyrinth of betrayal and tragedy that had become her fate.

Learn more about T.A. Ford and her debut novel Zoe by visiting these links. Zoe is available from Amazon.com.

Author's official site: http//thedivaspen.com

Read an excerpt of Zoé
(Download Acrobat Reader here if you need it)

Watch a book video of Zoé made by a fan:





Direct Link