The book tour continues! Yesterday, I was “in” Romania at Mythical Books and today I’m at Book Bliss and happy to be here! One more day left on the tour. Join in to win books!
The book tour continues! Yesterday, I was “in” Romania at Mythical Books and today I’m at Book Bliss and happy to be here! One more day left on the tour. Join in to win books!
There's this old rundown junk yard looking place just off the bike trail. There are quite a few odds and ends lying around there, including some fancy old cars. For some reason, when I see the place, it makes me think of the Djinn. Perhaps I imagine there is an old bottle with a big strapping genie inside, waiting for a rub.
… they “live”. I am the Dr. Frankenstein of a slew of magical characters. I created them; nurtured them; guided them. They’re out there. I haven’t paid much attention to them this summer. Life gets in the way. When my husband had a heart attack last week, they were asked to take a seat and wait. (Actually, I didn’t give them a thought… but they knew). So, they sit in the wings living the magical lives I created for them. Not to overstate it…but they may owe me some rent. The point is that our imaginations create very real things. Whether they move forward or step back is up to us. For now, I think they’re content to wait. I hope you are, too.
Buy my books. That’s really what any author wants.
The Smardy Pants book blog is offering three free copies of To Have and To Hold, the first book in the 101 Nights series from Boroughs Publishing Group. Smardy Pants is a really fun blog that describes itself as “Obsessed with Rock Stars, Bad Boys, and all Things Paranormal.” Lots of freebies and great reading suggestions. Check it out and enter to win a giveaway of my book….explore love, lust, and lies in the New Jersey suburbs as genie Amani Zarin settles into domestic life with her new scientist husband. Something’s going to explode! [click on the pic to enter giveaway]
You know that feeling you get when a big box wrapped in shiny paper with a perfectly curled ribbon is placed in front of you…. I got that feeling when I heard that The Genie Smolders was being reviewed in Library Journal. For those of you who don’t know, Library Journal is a trade publication for librarians with a circulation of 100,000. The so what — besides the fact that the Journal was founded in 1875 by the same guy who invented the Dewey Decimal System — is that most librarians read this journal. These are the people who make the decisions about the books that go into the library. Okay, so people borrow books from libraries, not buy them. But the librarians have to buy some copies to make them available. And, you know what, who cares who buys what…it is just so cool.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had a nearly reverential respect for all librarians. They know things. They have access to nearly limitless stores of knowledge and they access it on a regular basis. Cool. Anyway, here’s what a librarian thought of my book…. (I’m all aflutter as I unwrap that package….)
Zuzulo, Kellyann. The Genie Smolders. Boroughs Pub. (Zubis Chronicles, Bk. 2). Jul. 2013. 208p. ebk. ISBN 9781938876158. $3.99. ETHNOCULTURAL, PARANORMAL ROMANCE
This second installment in the “Zubis Chronicles” (after The Genie Ignites) continues the story of the forbidden love between Zubis, a jinni or genie, and Bethany O’Brien, a human woman who is the reincarnation of a priestess from the time of Solomon. Zubis has loved Bethany for 3,000 years, and Bethany has recently given birth to Zubis’s daughter, Fia. Malevolent forces have conspired to keep them apart by kidnapping Fia in order to force Zubis to help the evil jinni Iblis—also known as “Shaitan” or Satan—to conquer the world. A varied cast of human and jinni plotters take advantage of Zubis’s further vulnerability: he is in thrall to an Arabian family because he owes them the third of three wishes.
Verdict Unexpected angelic help and the power of sexual healing add layers of interest, while well-crafted romantic interludes and the use of Arabic phrases and locales lend authenticity and depth. The complex plot and multiple characters would make reading the first book in the series essential for most readers.—Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos Lib., CA.
If you’ve lost your library card, you can download The Genie Smolders today…
Zubis the genie is on a press tour in the desert to promote the release of The Genie Smolders, coming July 1. Today, he was interviewed for Supernatural Snark.
Our reporter caught up to Zubis via satellite in the desert, in a section known as the Empty Quarter or Rub-al-Khali, an area notorious for genie activity. It is the legendary portal to the world of Jinnistan. He appears quite comfortable sitting on a folding canvas chair in a steel-gray linen tunic, open at the neck, and pair of loose, white, gauzy trousers. [In this reporter’s objective opinion, he is devastatingly handsome.]
Reporter: Is it hot there at the edge of the Rub-al-Khali in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Zubis?
Zubis: [eyebrow goes up] Just Zubis, please. Yes, it can be quite hot. Especially when the lovely Bethany O’Brien stands close.
R: What are you doing in the desert, Zubis?
Z: [appears solemn, though those curlicue glyphs, barely covered by a fall of dense black hair along his brow, have begun to glow.] I await the arrival of Bethany. Only she can liberate me from my 3,000 years of bondage. I was condemned in the time of Solomon and have waited 3,000 years for her to return…. [a glint returns to his golden eyes.]
R: Eh…return? How old is she exactly?
Z: Well, in this incarnation, she is a delectable 32 years old. But her heart first belonged to me when she roamed the earth as the Asima Uruk in the time of Solomon.
R: So what happened to her?
Z: [The rugged lines across his brow deepen with concern.] She died. I was cursed and could not save her.
R: Wow. That’s sad. Now what?
Z: She will come. I will remind her of what we once had and she will be mine again. [He brings his fingers to his lips and his gaze is distant for a moment.]
R: Sounds pretty straightforward. What’s the hold-up?
Ouch! Was that an electrical shock that you just shot at me?!
Z: Hold-up? [He rises to his feet. He is quite large.] …………….READ THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW HERE.
I think it’s important on Father’s Day to not only get a really clever gift that your Dad will appreciate–and probably return if he’s anything like my Dad–but that you take a few minutes to recall all the ways your Dad made you who you are.
I don’t know who gave him the nickname, whether it was one of the funny, tough cops he worked with, one of his seven brothers and sisters, or himself. He was really good with a turn of phrase. But his name was Thomas Joseph McDonnell, so you see where Tommy Mac came from. Born and raised in Philadelphia, for most of his adult life he worked as a police office for the Pennsylvania Railroad. By the time the railroads began to collapse and then merged into Conrail (Consolidated Rail Corporation) in the ’70s, he was still a cop but now he was a lieutenant. Said he never wanted to be a captain because it would have meant leaving the union and being subject to whatever hours administration put to him; hours that would take him away from his family. As it was, for most of my childhood, I remember him working his regular shift while we were at school and then taking on the graveyard shift while we slept. But he still joined us six kids and my Mom for dinner every night and helped us with our homework. He made each one of us feel special. I remember he used to do this thing where we’d all be sitting at the dinner table. We’d needle him about who he liked best. “Okay,” he’d say. “Close your eyes. I’m going to tap my favorite on the head. But you can’t say anything.” We closed our eyes. Held our breath. Got a tap on the head. What a bunch of smug faces when we opened our eyes, each thinking that we were his favorite. In a way, each of us was.
It was during one of those pre-dawn railroad beats that he was chasing thieves down the tracks. They’d broken into a boxcar and were hauling off stereos and some other equipment that obviously didn’t belong to them. At 6’3″, he was fast. Never drew his gun on a suspect, though he carried one. Every year, he was deemed a sharpshooter at the range. But he told me once that he didn’t actually want to hurt anyone. Anyway, he saw he could catch two of the guys if he clambered over the coupling between freight cars. So he did. Right at that moment, one of the cars began to move and pinned him between hookups. Providentially, the car eased back for a better hook and he pulled himself out. Three ribs broken. He came home from work early, but went back on duty the next day.
He didn’t like to take sick time. In fact, I don’t ever remember him calling out sick. He liked to save all his days so that he could take us on vacations. Sometimes, he rented a cabin up in the Poconos, but mostly he took us to the Jersey shore. His sister Helen owned a house in North Wildwood and I think his happiest times were backfloating in the ocean (he could backfloat for an hour; riding the currents until he was just a speck in the distance) or sitting out in the yard by the bay watching us kids catch crabs off the dock. He would sing Otis Redding’s “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” and then announce to no one in particular, “Oh, I’m a happy man.”
He was happy and that made us happy. He was married to the love of his life. Bridget Ann Kelly from Ireland. His pixie, he called her. Met at the A.O.H. club. The Ancient Order of Hibernians. They were well matched. He was calm and steadfast. She was passionate and headstrong and loving. They both had great humor. She said he made her laugh every day. Often, we’d hear them talking late at night in their bedroom of the three-bedroom, one-bath rowhome where we lived in Philly. And then she would laugh at something he’d said. A robust, full-hearted, throaty laugh that made us laugh.
I only saw him cry twice. The first time was when my 22-year-old sister Christina, his youngest daughter of four girls, drowned in the ocean at the Jersey Shore. The second time was when his “bride”–that’s what he still called her after 40 years together–died at the age of 60 of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Then he dried his tears and got about the business of burying them.
He taught me that life is what you make it, so make it good. I remember once complaining about something in my life that seemed unfair or upsetting or whatever. I was a young adult with a full-time job, college education, my own apartment, and a car. He said, “Don’t you see, Kellyann. You’ve got the world by the ass. Enjoy it.”
When I said wanted to be a writer, he just smiled. “Why don’t you get an engineering degree. You can always write.” But I had the bug. I got a journalism degree instead and I think he liked that. He was a writer, as his father was. He was a cop, his father was a fire chief, but they both had poems and short stories published in magazines. We talked about literature. He would recite entire poems by Wordsworth, Keats, and anonymous authors. He had a beautiful singing voice. We mostly heard it when he was in the shower.
He was erudite, spiritual, honest, funny, so intelligent, perceptive, and wise. We would talk for hours about the spiritual journey we take in life. I’m not sure where he got his very Zen-like outlook. He was an Irish Catholic boy who went to West Catholic and did two years at St. Joseph’s College. But he had ideas that I would later learn reached into the teachings of the ancient philosophers. He was widely read. Gave The Painted Bird to me to read when I was thirteen. I think it was his way of showing me what humanity was capable of, and what it is capable of overcoming. His way of outfitting me for the world. I’d never been exposed to literature like that. It changed my world. We talked about Shakespeare, the Bible, magic, science, politics. He taught me to backfloat in the ocean. He taught me that anything is possible.
He taught me that, above all things, to thine own self be true. That’s from Shakespeare. But also from Tommy Mac.
He broke his leg in 2009 and when they operated on him at Holy Redeemer Hospital, they slipped in a couple of superbugs by accident. Bacteria that would steal his mobility, burn through his leg, and ultimately kill him just two years later. Despite having lived decades with ankylosing spondilitis that curved his spine and constricted his chest, and rheumatoid arthritis, he never complained. Not until those last months of searing agony from the infection in his leg. Every once in a while, he’d shift to get more comfortable, wince, and say, “Those dirty bastards.” But then he’d looked at us, and he’d smile.
I was alone with him when the last breath left his body. It was surreal. It was just like it’s ever been described anywhere: a person expelling his last breath. Like a sigh. It broke my heart. But I don’t let it weigh me down. There was another quote from Shakespeare that he liked to refer to: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” I’ll see him again.
In the meantime…. Dearly loved. Sorely missed. Never forgotten. Happy Father’s Day, Tommy Mac. Thanks for making me who I am.
Authors need reviews. Am I right? You want a potential reader to know what other readers think about your book. More and more statistics in this insta-pubbed crowded world tell us that “word of mouth” is still the best way to promote your book. [Read Jane Friedman's blog on "Using Word-of-Mouth (Not Media Attention) to Sell Books."] And here’s a piece from NPR about using word-of-mouth. Essentially, the publisher gives out lots of free copies and hopes people like it enough to spread the word.
And how do you get that word of mouth? Simple. You get people talking about your book. Not so simple. Well, reviews are one way to do that. Even non-professional reader reviews posted on Amazon send Amazon analytics into overdrive. Get a certain number of reviews within a certain number of days from the book’s release (I think it’s something like 30 reviews in three days) and your book may rise to the top of a recommended page. Supposedly, you don’t even need good reviews for that to happen. But another source I read indicated that the reviews really need to be three stars or above. (I could get the source attribution for you, but I’m on deadline with another book…just go with it.) The inclination might be to rustle up a couple of dozen relatives and ask them to quickly post a two-liner on Amazon (20-word minimum) saying:
“I loved this book. You should get this book today! You won’t be sorry. I don’t even know what genre this is but I loved it anyway because my second cousin told me I do. Five Stars!!”
Those types of write-ups may populate your Amazon page, but they’re really not going to do anything for your sales. And you know it. You probably gave your relatives copies of the book and that’s as far as it’s going to go. So, ultimately, you’re not helping your sales and you may detract from the credibility of your buy page. Bottom line, get legitimate reviews. It’ll take some time to identify the reviewers who might like your book. Much like word-of-mouth, this takes another old-fashioned effort….good ol’ legwork. Check out other books on Amazon that might be similar to yours; read the reviews and see who the reviewers are. Email addresses aren’t always included, but you will get a snapshot of many blogs that review your genre. Contact the blog, send a copy of your book, and hope for the best.
Which is what brings me to the point of this blog. The best doesn’t have to be five stars. I just received a three-star review from The Vampire Book Club that I really appreciated. It was clear, pointed, and right on about the major elements of the book. She shared what she liked about the book and the strong aspects of it. Basically, she had nothing bad to say other than it wasn’t the type of book she normally reads. The Genie Ignites was more of a thriller or romantic suspense…which is what I intended it to be. So, I’m very pleased with the review. And she leaves the reader with this pithy summation:
“The author knows how to pull a switcheroo that left me wanting to read the next book, just to see what happens.”
That’s a sales pitch right there for the second book in the series, The Genie Smolders…which releases next month from Boroughs Publishing Group.
101 Nights is my new series, called Romantisodes, from Boroughs Publishing Group.The first book is To Have and To Hold and begins the story of Amani Zarin, an ambassador from Jinnistan, and Jason Masters, the physicist who can help her save her homeland. She doesn’t trust humans, but she’ll have to trust him….or at least tolerate him. Their first meeting is on their wedding day. Irritation soon turns to intrigue.
Here’s an excerpt from that first auspicious encounter:
The conference room echoed with a collective exhalation of relief. Westcott fixed Amani with an arctic glare, tugging at the pressed lapels of his charcoal Gucci suit; then he considered the man beside her with a gaze that was both smug and sympathetic, as though to say, Better you than me. Closing her eyes, Amani steeled herself. She had avoided looking at the man at her side, Jason Masters, her new husband, had avoided looking at him all through the ceremony and before. Now she glanced at him sidelong.
Despite her barb at Westcott and the people who worked with him, Dr. Jason Masters was by no means little. Amani was taller than most human men, yet he was taller than she by a forehead. That irked her. Neither was he bad-looking. For a human. Okay, he was hot. She had come across the term in her cultural research of the human world and liked it. Hot. Forged from fire, her people reveled in flame. This word suggested the comfort of Jinnistan’s scorched mountains, the joy of riding Sinbad into the Bitu Valley so rife with fissures to the center of the earth that the air crackled with fire.
Her new husband’s jaw flexed, and cocking her head Amani assessed him further. The poor guy was agitated. But, who wouldn’t be? It was his wedding day and he was meeting his bride for the first time. Oh, and by the way, she was a genie. And in a bad mood.
His full lips formed a straight line—an attempt to appear stoic or munificent? No. Neither. He appeared raw and somewhat bewildered but resigned to his task. A good scientist with a difficult hypothesis. A hypothesis that was even now standing in front of him.
He turned, and the expression on his face was both wary and…surprisingly playful. “Do I get a kiss?”
His voice was smooth and deep. For an irritating moment he seemed pleased with what he saw, with Amani, then Amani’s gaze whipped back to the Covalink CEO, the main architect of this spectacle, who’d scoffed and turned away. Sudden anger at Westcott’s demeanor, her situation, and humans in general got the better of her. In one graceful flip of her hand, Amani flung back the curtain of hair from her shoulder and flourished three fingers at Westcott’s retreating back, preparing to singe his suit just enough to make her feel better.
“Whoa, there!” Her husband’s grip on her wrist was faster than she would have given him credit for, and Amani was startled to find herself staring into eyes the color of the Topaz Caves on the far side of Jinnistan. A lock of brown hair had fallen across her husband’s broad brow, and he twitched his head as though to shrug it away. The strands clung together as though damp. “Not a good idea.”
“Is any of this a good idea?” she snarled at him, consciously ignoring the tiny coterie of Covalink executives and Jinnistan ambassadors who were now beginning to mingle. With a twist of her arm, she dislodged his grasp. If not for the flower-laden pedestal at her hip, she would have moved entirely away from him.
She barely saw his lips move, but his voice was low and rueful. “Too late now.”
Their faces were close enough for a kiss, she realized. Her husband stared back, not blinking, his black eyelashes as thick as the fringe on a hand-tied carpet. The way they shadowed his amber eyes reminded Amani of a soft feather caressing her naked back, and the thought sent a shiver down her spine. Even more potent, for the second their gazes locked she felt challenged and equal at the same time. Her shiver radiated outward, wrapping around her waist and making her suddenly all too aware of his closeness. Something inside her trembled.
He quirked his lips. “Now, how about that kiss?”
Smirking like a child, she leaned into him. “Fine.” She knew her duty. Kissing a human would be no more momentous than stepping on an ant—for her. For him? Well, he would be the ant. The contact would provide a nice electrical shock on those soft, full lips. “Pucker up, pretty boy.”
Her husband settled a tentative hand on her waist and lowered his chin. Those impossibly thick lashes drooped further, and a flutter whisked through Amani’s stomach. Almost of its own accord, her head tilted toward him. Like they were lovers. Like she wanted to be kissed by him. Like she had no control over the desire flushing through—
Alarm spiked through Amani at her body’s betrayal. Needing to be back in control, she squeezed her eyes against her heightened awareness of his broad hand on her hipbone, and when his grip tightened, warm and oddly comforting, she had to resist the urge to wriggle against his palm. Instead, she purposefully stiffened and grasped his forearm as though to immobilize him. The fine woven fabric of his navy suit jacket was smooth and cool to her fingers, and beneath its softness the long cords of his flexor muscles tensed like steel cables. A vein throbbed at the side of his neck just above the starched collar of a sky blue button-down shirt. He hadn’t worn a tie, which she always found to be a strange constrictive garment that merely highlighted human ineptitude, as if they needed to be leashed into place. One point for Dr. Masters.
They moved as though in slow motion, and for an instant Amani’s eyebrows knitted. She could see that his skin was dark, the complexion of someone who labored in the sun and not the soft intellectual she’d expected. He was physically strong, too. She could feel it in the sudden set of his body. And he was alert. She could tell that he was frequently outdoors.
Parting her lips, she eased her head into the space at his shoulder. There, swirling her head in a small arc, she inhaled through her nose.
Her husband lurched back, eyes wide. “Did…did you just sniff me?”
She nodded, considering. “Interesting. You don’t smell like gravel. Most humans smell like gravel. Or dirt.” She felt her lip curl at the thought. “But not you.” There was something fascinating in the air between them. Specifically, something that emanated off him like an aura.
“I beg your pardon.” Pulling back, he shot a glance at her uncle, and from the corner of her eye Amani caught Azon’s exasperated headshake. The other witnesses seemed to realize there would be no romantic clutch to seal the deal and clustered around the tray of drinks, muttering and grinning with self-congratulations. A wheeled cart laden with canapés and shrimp cocktail pushed into the room and was immediately surrounded.
Amani returned her attention to Jason. She’d expected to be accosted by his scent, not enveloped. Lifting a finger to her lips, she closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them, she wagged a finger at him. There was an honest note of amazement in her voice as she said, “You smell like thyme and wood chips.”
He ignored the comment and tugged her closer. The satin cowl of her midnight blue sheath dress brushed the pearl buttons of his shirt, and the rhythm of his heart seemed to suddenly permeate the slinky fabric of her dress. She imagined that the pounding of her own synced to his. But that was impossible.
Jason glanced down at their connection, at the mutual rising and falling of their chests. The wrinkle of a question returned to his brow, and with a jolt of amazement Amani understood that he had felt what she did.
Her new husband’s words were hushed, but his eyes glinted with a strange gratification. “Is that you or me? I can’t tell.”
Stretching her neck away in a vain attempt at detachment she said, “I’m nothing like you.”
To read the entire story, download it today for your ereader.
What Would You Wish For