Writing Process Blog Tour

Hi guys!  Today I'm participating the Writing Process Blog Tour tag.  I was tagged by the lovely Kristin Hurd of The Musings of Me.  She is the author of One of a Kind (Kindle & Paperback) and Better Off Friends (Kindle).  She's currently working on her third book entitled Another Relationship.

Without further ado, let's jump right in and get this tag started.

What Am I Working On?

As previously talked about on here, I'm working on a contemporary romance with a hint of suspense called Forever Branded.  It's the first book in my three part Forever series.  In Forever Branded, you'll get to meet Karissa McKinley, my main character.  She's been through a lot in life.  She hasn't always made the best decisions and each experience leaves her little bit more 'branded' or scarred than the last, especially in her dating life.

As a result, she's uncertain of herself and her ability to make good decisions.  And because she doesn't fully trust herself, she doesn't trust others either. Also, she's been keeping a big secret and it gets revealed.  You'll have to stop back by to find out more about the other characters in this book.  

How Does My Work Differ From Others Of Its Genre?

Honestly, I think the thing that sets all writers apart to certain degree is how we tell our stories.  You can get 5 writers in one room give them a topic or plot and I promise you that while similar each story will be told 5 different ways.  So, I definitely feel like I have my own unique voice.

Why Do I Write What I Do?

I've co-authored a motherhood survival guide, This Is How We Do It: A Survival Guide for Busy Moms.  The reason I decided to be a part of that project was because I think that a lot of books out here about motherhood are written by medical professionals who are trying to be politically correct.  They give you a more sweetened version of motherhood.  Whereas, I feel like in our book we share the not so sweet sides of being mom as well as how we survived those moments.

I talked about my battle with postpartum depression and what I did to overcome it.  For me sharing that came easy because I know there are so many others out there who struggle with PPD as well.  And I just wanted to help someone.

As far as fiction, I decided to make my first novel a romance because I'm a hopeless romantic.  I'm a lover of love and being in love.  I've been in love a few times, had the bad break-ups, and the even better make-ups.  And I think that some elements of those experiences will come through, especially in this book.

However, I don't want to box myself in as just being a romance writer.  I am toying with the idea of a YA adventure series, but for now romance is a great place to start and get my feet wet.

How Does Your Writing Process Work?

When I get the idea for a book, I like to jot the idea down a notebook.  From there the main characters start to form.  I don't necessarily plot out my books because I like this process to feel as organic as possible.  In writing Forever Branded, there are times when I want to go one way, but the characters want to go another way.  So, I try to let the characters tell their own stories as much as possible.

I also, don't write chapters in chronological order.  I tried it and it just takes way too long for me.  I've found that writing the ideas out as they come to me is works best.  And then I go back insert it into the proper chain of events within the novel.

So there you have it, an inside look at how I do what I do as a writer.  You can find me on Facebook and Twitter.  Also, I'm working on coordinating posts for my book cover reveal.  If interested, you can sign up here or using the form below:

Until next time,

The Chinese Spymaster + Interview With Author Hock Tjoa

"It has been said that thought makes one wise. In hand to hand combat, however, thinking kills."
You can tell from the opening line that The Chinese Spymaster is not going to disappoint.  From the very beginning Tjoa grabs readers attention and draws them with an implied promise of action and suspense.  When the Chinese Intelligence Agency finds out that the Pashtuns are trying to secure nuclear device from the North Koreans and five other nuclear arms dealers, Spymaster Wang is on the case to find out why.  
After years of having their villages terrorized by the Pakistani Army and Intelligence units,  the Pashtuns are ready to fight for their political freedom in an uprising (Pashtun Spring) that had been brewing for a while now.  What does this have to do with China?  Well, the Spymaster's concern is that with six nuclear devices at their disposable the Pashtun could not only use those devices to intimidate their current government into giving them their political independence and diminishing the Durand Line but also set their sights on invading other surrounding territories as well.  There is also the fear that other villages will who seek independence and to govern their own citizens will rise up as well and there will be all out war  in the quest for freedom, nationhood and land.
On top of trying to figure out how to prevent the Pashtuns from getting the nuclear device, Spymaster Wang and his team (agents Hu and Tang) must navigate the own the troubles within the different Chinese government agencies.  Some feel that the Pashtuns' efforts to gain independence through securing nuclear devices is none of China's business while others side with Wang and know that a domino affect is sure to happen if they just stand by and watch.  
Then Wang has to deal with knowledge of old friends turned foes like Comrade Commissar Jiang trying to have him 'accidentally' murdered!  There's also the fact that his friends feel like it's beyond time for Wang to settle down and find a wife.  Wang is in his early fifties and they feel it's about time he's found someone to enjoy the rest of life with.  But will he?
In my opinion Tjoa has done a great job of crafting an amazing storyline and creating characters who are complex but believable.  I like that Tjoa didn't overkill on the amount of action or fight scenes in the novel.  They are strategically placed and written so that a picture is painted in the reader's mind.  I love that we don't just get to the professional side of Spymaster Wang, but Tjoa takes us into his personal life a bit with General Chen and his wife trying to kind of urge him to find love.  
I feel that in so, I was able to connect and understand Spymaster Wang's character a little bit more.  In addition, I appreciate the fact that he put just as much effort into developing secondary characters like the Shopkeeper, the Soldier and Ail as he did with main characters.  I could also tell that Tjoa did his research when it came to the difference political agencies and groups, government structure and procedures as well as the geography of different locations used in the book.  
I couldn't put this book down and recommend it to anyone who enjoys tales of espionage and political drama.  You can check out Tjoa's novel yourself by purchasing a copy on Amazon and Smashwords.  You can also click here to enter for a chance to win a copy of The Chinese Spymaster.  Be sure to check out my interview with Tjoa below and find out what his inspiration behind writing The Chinese Spymaster was.

Interview With Author Hock Tjoa

What inspired you write The Chinese Spymaster?
I had seen a spy movie and thought it would be interesting and challenging to write a spy novel--so many things I have not done or written: fight scenes, bureaucratic in-fighting, interrogations,etc.
all centered on an organization and a spymaster in China.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Many years ago I thought about a novel but unfortunately it was not until six year ago that I did something about it and wrote "The Battle of Chibi." 

Are any of the characters inspired by real life people?
No. But I hope they appear realistic as people living today.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Be sure you enjoy what you are doing and be sure you have something worth saying.

What other project/books do you have in the works?
When I was in college, I was assigned to read what was billed as the beginning of Western Drama (it was a Greek play) and my reaction was "what is so great about this?" Now I am trying again, but also taking the parts that are known to be "true" and re-imagining the drama.
I have posted some early drafts on authonomy.com as "Agamemnon Must Die."

Author Bio

Hock G. Tjoa was born to Chinese parents and studied history at Brandeis and Harvard. He taught European history and Asian political thought at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur and has published George Henry Lewes, a Victorian Mind, "The social and political ideas of Tan Cheng Lock" and various articles in the Newsletter of the China History Forum. He is married and lives with his family in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California. He published in 2010 "The Battle of Chibi (Selections from The Romance of the Three Kingdoms)" that he had translated, and in 2011, "Heaven is High and the Emperor Far Away, A Play" that he translated and adapted from Lao She's Teahouse. Both are part of his project to make more widely known traditional Chinese values.

If you're interested in finding out more about Hock Tjoa, you can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and check out his blog here.  You can also find him on GoodReads and Amazon.  And if you're interested in winning your own copy of her latest book, The Banovic Siblings, be sure to enter the giveaway below: 

Disclosure:  I received a of copy of The Chinese Spymaster to faciliate this review.  All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Until next time,

BOOK BLAST: Captivated by Stacy-Deanne

Today, I am honored to be hosting a book blast for Captivated by Stacy-Deanne.  It is the second book of her in Bruised series and was released on March 1st.  


When she first lays eyes on Mya Riley’s slashed up body, Baltimore Detective Lisa Swanson is certain that the Sandman, a ruthless serial killer from her past has reemerged. Lisa dives headfirst into the case with her partner Dee, and lovesick Winston Lewis, a detective who grows more captivated with Lisa by the day. 
The Sandman wreaks bloodthirsty havoc throughout the city, and this time he is determined to make Lisa his victim. Armed with intense hatred for the Sandman and a stifling fear of who might end up dead next, Lisa struggles to solve the case by the book. But when the Sandman switches up his plan and goes after her lover Jake…Lisa ignores all the rules.

Excerpt from Captivated:

“There’s a song stuck in my head.” He hummed it. “I was listening to it earlier but can’t think of the name.” He swayed Lisa while he hummed. “It’s been a while since we danced.” He twirled them around in circles.
            Lisa laughed. “Whoa! You’re putting all the moves on me.”
“You always like it when I do this.” He lifted the front of his wheelchair off the floor and came back down. “You like that, huh?”
“Whoa!” She laughed. “You’re right. It’s been a while since we went dancing.” She put her hand in his as he swerved them across the kitchen. “So we can go dancing then.” She lifted her head from his shoulder. “We could both use a break, don’t you think?” She played with a button on his shirt. “We can go to the Rush.”
            He rolled his eyes. “How come we always go to the wheelchair nightclubs?”
            “I thought it was your favorite place. I just want you to be comfortable.”
            “I want us to go dancing for real.” He laid his arm on the armrest. “I used to love dancing.” He got teary-eyed. “I miss that the most.”
She kissed his hand.
            “I wanna take you dancing like a real man would.”
            “You are a real man.” She got off him. “And we can dance the regular way right here.”
            He got a paper towel off the table and dabbed his eyes. “What are you talking about?”
            She went across to the living room and turned on the stereo in the entertainment system.
“Okay, let’s find something good.” She stopped on her favorite station that played old-school slow jams. The sultry beginning of Aaliyah’s “Rock the Boat” began. “Uh-huh.” Lisa bobbed her head. “That’s what I’m talking about.” She shimmied back into the kitchen.
            “I love this song.” Jake tossed the paper towel on the table.
            Lisa stood in front of him and held out her hands. “May I have this dance?”
            “What?” he whispered.
            She bent down. “You said you wanted to dance the real way. Let’s dance the real way.”
            “You know my legs are too weak.”
            She took his hands. “Then lean on me.”
            He took a deep breath and slowly rose from the chair. “Oh.”
            “It’s okay.” She put her arms around him. “I got you.”
He stood straight and put his weight on Lisa. “I’m six three and two hundred pounds.” He leaned on her. “I’m gonna crush you.”
“I’m stronger than you think.” She laid her head on his chest. “Just take it slow and relax.”
            He stumbled a bit then picked up his feet in perfect rhythm.
“Wow.” Lisa held him tighter. “You’re a smooth dancer, Jake.”
            His lips brushed her cheek. “This feels amazing.” He swayed. “Just like the old days.”
            “See?” She moved her hand up his back. “Now you’re leading.” She lifted her head. “How does it feel?”
            “I…” His voice cracked. “I haven’t danced since two thousand eight.”
            “Well, you’re dancing now.” She kissed him. “And you’re doing it beautifully.”

Genre: Interracial Romantic Suspense

Release Date: March 1, 2014

Publisher: Sugar and Spice Press

Dream Cast

Nia Long as Lisa

Ryan Philippe as Jake

Christian Bale as Winston

(Will be on retailers shortly after release)

Disturbed (Book 3) Coming April 12, 2014!

Stacy-Deanne Bio:

Stacy-Deanne (Dee-Anne) is a published novelist of interracial romantic suspense and mystery novels. She started writing professionally in 1997 when she was nineteen years old. Stacy grew up loving the suspense genre. Her idols are Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred Hitchcock. Her love for Psycho and many of his movies fueled her fire for suspense.  She was born, raised, and resides in Houston, Texas.

Twitter: @stacydeanne

So Obsessed Saturday

Happy Saturday!  My obsession this week is Goodreads.com's giveaway section.  Being an author and writer, it's a given that I love books.  And I may or may not have had a book buying problem at one point and time in my life.  Thankfully, I have cut back significantly.  

However, my love of reading new books and discovering new authors still remains.  So, imagine my joy when I was exploring Goodreads.com over Christmas break and saw that they have pages after pages of giveaways!  I was thrilled.  After all what did I have to lose by taking a few minutes to enter a few giveaways?  

I have to say that I am really glad that I stumbled across it because since December, I feel like I've been on a little winning streak.  In January, I won 3 books and last month I won another 2.  One book was even sent all the way from England!  I love reading works by British authors.  Their voice and tone are just so different, not to mention the culture and some of the vocabulary.

I've had a blast enjoying new the latest reads from new authors like Gina Maxwell and Grace Marshall.  There are also giveaways for children's books as well.  It just takes a little searching through what's listed.  And there's no crazy entry options.  You just click on the 'Enter Giveaway' button, then verify your shipping address on the next page.  It's as easy as two steps.

And that works very well for me.  I get to enter for a chance to the books I want, and in minutes I'm done.  So, if you're a recovering book shopaholic like me, give the giveaway section on Goodreads.com a try!

Until next time,