Friday, September 28, 2012

Blogger Spotlight: Azure Dwarf Horde of SciFi & Fantasy

Today I am very pleased to bring you William Bentrim of Azure Dwarf Horde of SciFi & Fantasy for today's Blogger Spotlight.  William has had a front row seat during the evolution of Seventh Star Press, having posted about us and reviewed titles since our earliest days.  Without question, he has one of our more favorite blog titles too!  It is always a pleasure to visit the Dwarf Horde!  William is also an author of children's books and has many other pursuits, so settle in and be introduced to a very interesting and jovial fellow! :)

Blogger Spotlight #5: Azure Dwarf Horde of SciFi & Fantasy

1. Tell us a little about yourself, and your background

My life has been entertainingly eclectic. Growing up in a Western Pennsylvania steel town crafted a robust work ethic. I spent 10 years in education as a teacher and guidance counselor. I was the only room Dad for my boys’ elementary school classes for 9 consecutive years. After leaving education I owned and operated a deli for 10 years where I started a computer business by selling software games next to the baloney and cigarettes. Twenty-five years later I sold the business to another computer firm that wanted the 78 computer networks I had under contract. Currently I am checking things off my bucket list such as writing books for kids. My best decision in life was marrying my bride of 45 years. That led to deciding to have kids, raising those kids and reaping the benefits of grandkids.

2. What kinds of books do you like to read for pleasure? Any favorites?

My earliest recollections of science fiction was The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron and The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek by Evelyn S. Lampma. Those started me on a path that has permeated my life. I feel SciFi and Fantasy embody the best aspects of literature. For the most part the genre promotes hope and nobility. The heroes are flawed but pure in heart; the villains deserve to be defeated. Heinlein, McCaffrey and Lackey have provided me with out of body experiences. I am hooked on reading; first choice is always scifi or fantasy and then thrillers from folks like Connelly, Silva or Deutermann. I normally am reading three to five books simultaneously. I just gave away 850 books and am now down to about 1200 in my TBR pile.

3. When did you start your blog, and what motivated you to do it?

January 5, 2010 was my first post on Dwarf. I started Money Saving Tech Tips and Philosophic Musings in October of 2007 primarily to keep the tech side of my brain stimulated. Pick of the Literate began in January of 2008 and until I started Dwarf I reviewed all genres there. Now I do general literature on Pick and SciFi/Fantasy on Dwarf. My motivation was simple, I was retired, I had time to do things I really wanted to do and I always wanted to write. Writing reviews were easy as I was already reading the books.

4. How did you come up with the name for your site? Is there a story behind it?

A blue dwarf is one of the rarer stars and of course dwarves are a mainstay in fantasy so my title of Azure Dwarf tries to combine my two genre loves.

5. What kinds of genres do you cover on your site?

Any type of fiction that is primarily speculative goes on Dwarf. Vampires, zombies, space operas, quests, urban fantasy, cyber-punk are covered by the Dwarf. Normal kind of stuff such as murder and mayhem goes on Pick of the Literate.

6. What kinds of regular features do you have on your site?

I periodically grab the header off of another site and promote it when I find a cool one. My reviews are based on the FIFO principle unless I can’t wait with something like a new Weber or Modesitt. I like to promote new authors and do blog tours for places like Seventh Star Press. I’ve got a thing for Seventh Star because they seem to truly respect the independent author and blogger. They seek out new talent and promote it. I like offering give-aways since I personally wig out when I get a free book.

7. What is the hardest thing about being a blogger?

I hesitate to play the astrology card but as a Libra, I want universal happiness. I hate writing reviews on books I really didn’t like. I often can see why someone else would like them and I try and point that out. Sometimes I find I can’t write a review and I evoke my personal Flower the skunk rule of if I can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

8. What are your favorite things about being a blogger?

Blogging gives me one more excuse to curl up with a book. I get giddy when I have four or five books show up in my mailbox. I love to read and I hope to encourage others to read by giving them a hint of the quality that a book might offer.

9. If you could give a piece of advice or two to authors looking to work with a blog site, what would you say?

 Most bloggers understand the cost of sending out a hard copy. I still prefer a hard copy but I will certainly accept a Kindle version for review. I personally only send out pdf copies of my own picture books for review. A personal request reaps the most benefit when requesting reviews. Flattery works too, one guy told me that he was told I was the go to guy for military fiction and that was why he was contacting me. Turns out he wrote a great book and I have his third one in my TBR pile. So it was a win-win for both of us.

10. Any last thoughts or things you might want to say to readers who are finding out about your blog for the first time?

I am diligent about NO spoilers. Sometimes that makes it really hard to write a review. In fact, in my head I am not writing reviews, I am writing recommendations. I am not an editor or lit professor and my credentials for writing recommendations are based on 60 years of reading not on style or structure. I recommend on how a book hits me. If I find a book that engages my emotions I can’t put it down. I get engaged when I think the protagonist is a major idiot and wonder how the author can possibly keep him from self destruction. I get engaged when descriptive camaraderie or sacrifice is so noble it brings me to tears. I have worked diligently to teach my kids and now my grandkids that reading is the ticket to your heart. Love dogs, read Racing in the Rain, My Life as a Dog by Garth Stein, want your daughter to have no boundaries in her ambitions read Elizabeth Moon’s The Deed Of Paksenarrion or Heris Serrano or Weber’s Honor Harrington. Want to reach to the stars, read Heinlein or Pournelle or Drake. If you can read these authors and not be touched your heart is unreachable.

Are you ready to become part of the Dwarf Horde?  Be sure to connect with William at the following links:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Miking the Frog (Literary Underworld Blog Tour Guest Post)

Editor's Note: Today we are proud to host a guest post by author Angelia Sparrow (which is also being posted at author Stephen Zimmer's blog).  This post is part of the Literary Underworld Blog Tour Week, to raise awareness of a great site supporting quality small press and self-published authors.  The Literary Underworld runs booth spaces at conventions selling and displaying the titles they carry, in addition to an online store.  Enjoy the blog post and then visit The Literary Underworld, who we are proud to support and participate with.

Miking the Frog

The story is told that in the early days of the Muppets, Jim Henson was being interviewed and had taken Kermit with him. As the cameras rolled, the crew realized they couldn't hear Henson at all. They called for a commercial and checked the situation. The sound man had attached the microphone to the Frog.

Interviewing authors is a little like miking the frog. Most of us don't have a lot to say, about ourselves at any rate. We'd rather tell you about all our imaginary friends, about the weird places we vacation and  what our next book is about. If you get two or more of us in a room, there is likely to be comparison shopping of publishers.

I had one of those imaginary friend moments. I'd taken a writer friend to see JOHN CARTER. I had waited for this movie since I was 10 years old. I'd read all 11 books, owned some of the very short-lived comic book and all the usual fannish things. In fairness, I had already seen it and was eager to share something I loved so very much. My friend immediately translated this into terms of her imaginary friends and talked for an hour and a half about them, instead of sharing the movie experience we had just seen. You ask this friend about herself and she won't have much to say.

The trick is getting the imaginary friends to work for you, instead of hurting your material friends' feelings. Most of the time, this is accomplishable. Sometimes the friends go to Aruba, without so much as a picture post-card, and sometimes they stop talking altogether. But we soldier on.

So what do you do, when¡ยชas frequently happens in this day of constant social networking-- someone has miked the frog and started asking the writer questions?

We tapdance as fast as we can, trying to make ourselves as interesting as possible. We share memes and cat pictures and quiz results. We do photo-dumps of everyone else's cat pictures. We interview our characters. We irritate everyone with our politics or religion. We keep to-do lists. We post recipes and excerpts.

But our readers expect good stuff from our blogs, from our facebook, from our twitter. They want more than State of the Sooky (that's Succubus for the uninitiated): Angel wrote 2000 words, edited a chapter, failed her workout and cleaning, fed the family frozen pizza again and went to bed. They want more than endless twitter reposts, even the funny ones: I love how bottles of baby powder say "mild," as if "extra spicy was an option.--Della Buckland

They want more than endless self-promotion. Fifteen days until my book comes out, here's the cover! Fourteen and a half days, here's a picture that looks like the main character. Fourteen days, here's an excerpt. The book came out, who wants to win a copy?  You get the idea. 

There are endless websites with ideas and creative writing prompts to fill your blog with interesting posts. This is what google is for.

On the other hand, I never have to worry about that with my friends at the Literary Underworld. Most of them have blogs that are interesting and far more entertaining than my endless failure at my daily task roster. So I put them on my blog roll and read them, instead of working out.

Yep, you miked the frog.

If you want to let the interesting folks speak, you can find them at Vampiric sex workers, half-angel steampunk lesbian demon hunters, gay Christmas werewolves, dragons and inventors. Dwarves and Nephilim, and Zombies, oh my.

And just for reading, there is a 15% coupon for use at checkout: LUBLOGTOUR

Angelia Sparrow is the author of  9 novels and over 60 short stories. Her tenth book, HARD REBOOT releases Sept 30, the 11th, SPELLBOUND DESIRE is coming Oct 26. Her work can be found at and of course at

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Blogger Spotlight: I Smell Sheep

I am very excited to bring you a great site with a really awesome name in today's spotlight.  I met Sharon from I Smell Sheep while out on the convention circuit, at ConCarolinas in Charlotte, NC.  Since then I've gotten to experience a whole lot more about this fun-loving bunch known as the Flock, and I even have my own Baaart puppet from participating in a video on I Smell Sheep during my own blog tour.  For this installment of Blogger Spotlight, both Sharon and Katie were kind enough to be interviewed. Read, enjoy, and becoming part of the Flock! :)
-Stephen Z

Blogger Spotlight #4: I Smell Sheep

1. Tell us a little about yourself, and your background.

Sharon: I’ve lived my whole life in NC, everywhere from the beach to the mountains. I got a BS in Biology from UNC (GO HEELS!) and a Masters in Microbiology from NCSU. While in grad school I met Don playing foosball. I used to play foosball a lot, competitively. I had a killer push shot. I have a second degree Black Belt in Taekwondo. Been married 20 years and we have two girls, Lauren (16) and Holly (11) and currently live in a small town between Winston-Salem and Greensboro. I made the girls promise to put me in a nice retirement home in the NC Mountains. I love the mountains in an unnatural way.

My husband was born with a defective heart valve which after a long series of unfortunate events ended in him getting a heart transplant in 2003. He has never had rejection or issues with the medication. It hasn’t affected his lifestyle at all. We were lucky, and because a 22 year old man made the choice to be an organ donor my children have their father.

I love action movies (the more stuff blowing up the better), SyFy original movies, watermelon, dark chocolate, eating in the shower, Italian food, reading, talking, most music, Fall, Winter, peanut butter, Pepsi, moon pies, lemon desserts.

I don’t like vegetables, jazz, summer, spicy food, intolerance, getting old (ya’ll it really sucks! ), 

2. What kinds of books do you like to read for pleasure? Any favorites?

Sharon: If I had to pick one type it would be dark urban fantasy. I love horror, romance, urban fantasy and mystery. Get all those in one book…Boo-Ya! I also love m/m romance. I think the romance has more of an emotional impact than traditional romances. I Smell Sheep doesn’t review m/m so I guest review at Rarely Dusty Books and Love Romance Passion for those.

And I can’t forget graphic novels. I adore them! I tend toward more horror graphic novels, but I like any that are well done. The fact that art and a few words can tell a complete story with just as much impact as a novel is amazing.

Favorite novels: my head explodes just trying to think of the list! I’ve read so many great books. I prefer series.

Favorite graphic novels: Criminal Macabre, Dark Swan,

Katie: I love PNR and some UF with romance elements. I will branch out and try other genres but they have to reach out to me in some way. There’s no way I could pick a few favs! Too many!

Let’s not forget Marvel comics!

3. When did you start your blog, and what motivated you to do it?

Sharon: I came to I Smell Sheep around its one year anniversary. I started writing reviews on Goodreads and got lots of compliments on my reviews so I submitted a review to Love Romance Passion and became a guest reviewer. Then Katie approached me about joining the Flock! I write reviews that I like to read, relatively short and to the point. I don’t want the blurb regurgitated to me. I want to know why it worked or didn’t for the reviewer and I like a sense of humor.

Katie: I started the blog, which is now a website, in April of 2010. What started as a place for me to write about my opinions on books and movies has now grown into this massive group of fellow readers around the globe. We now have several writers with us, plus guest reviewers, and our amazing editor! All ages are welcome and I love hearing the comments from our readers!

4. What are some of the more unique aspects about your site, in your view?

Sharon: we are a multi-media site. We will cover anything that pertains to the paranormal genre and we have fun doing it. We manage to act professional when needed and still have a sense of humor. We are eclectic. You never really know what we are going to post day to day. I like the fact that we usually only do one post per day. That gives the book/author center stage for that whole day. I think we have some of the best interviews out there. People are more likely to give a book a chance if they can connect to the author so we try to bring out the funny in them.

Katie: I agree with everything Sharon said. The whole point of our website is to give the reader a fun experience but at the same time getting all the important information out there.

5. How did you come up with the name for your site? Is there a story behind it?

Sharon: I will let Katie take this one
Katie: It’s top secret. *evil laugh*
Sharon: it took a year before she even told me!

6. What's the story behind Baaart? Tell us a little about your loveable mascot.

Sharon: We had a contest for his name a while back. His full name is: Dr. Baron Baxter von Baaathalmew III

Katie: Baaart came along as a fun edition to go along with the name. Little did we know he would take on a life of his own! That sheep has been all over the world! From California to Ireland, he’s seen it all.

7. You also attend a lot of conventions. Do you have some favorites?

Sharon: I’ve been to some local NC ones and Dragon Con was my first BIG one. DragonCon was to big and chaotic to really enjoy. I liked Con Carolina. I plan on hitting Author’s After Dark next year and I will be a guest blogger at Mysticon 2013 in Roanoke, VA. There is a slight chance I will be meeting Katie at the first annual Olde City New Blood UF convention in FL

Katie: That would be a toss-up between WonderCon (San Francisco, CA) and PhoenixComiCon (Arizona). Both were amazing! I’ll be heading back to those for 2013 and possibly San Diego ComiCon.

8. What are some of the strengths of conventions for a blogger?

Sharon: net working with publishers and authors. One big perk of reviewing is getting to read your favorite books for free (sometimes before they come out) and helping an author spread the word about their book. Publishers will put you on their ARC lists. One of the best things is meeting the people I have only talked with via email. Conventions are also a great place to advertise our website. You would be surprised how many people don’t realize there are sites out there where they can get info on their favorite authors and books and even win stuff.

Katie: Yes, being able to interview and author or actor in person is a big plus of going to the conventions. Seeking out new publishers and getting our name out to a broader audience is the main goal for these events.

9. What kinds of genres do you cover on your site?

Sharon: anything paranormal…speculative fiction is the new word I think we will cover horror, romance, mystery, fantasy, urban fantasy, sci-fi…

Katie: Young Adult as well!

10. What kinds of regular features do you have on your site?

Sharon: Nothing to regular, wanna keep people guessing we do mainly reviews and interviews. Kindle Krack Attack is a post where we list lots of freebies and good deals, but if you are a member of our facebook group or Pinterest you will see most of those links there. Swagday is usually on the 10th of every month and people can enter to win books and swag. The Alpha Male Diner is a new guest post authors can do. They turn their hero into a recipe; it is quite popular with readers and authors.

11. What is the hardest thing about being a blogger?

Sharon: Time commitment. Katie and I are pretty much the only ones who do posts and reviews. Kalpar edits all our reviews (thank goodness!). We have a few guest reviewers, but Katie and I do 95% of the stuff. It can take me two hours or more to get an interview formatted and ready to go. We are looking to add more reviewers so…give us a shout if you might be interested.

Katie: Finding the time to get it done. People don’t realize how many books we read a week. One a slow week I will read 2 and 4 in a busy week. I’ve got friends who don’t read that many in a year! Doing the juggle of family, work and website is the main thing.

12. What are your favorite things about being a blogger?

Sharon: Getting people to discover new authors. I could never write a book and I am in awe of those that can. I would love to, but I just don’t have what it takes. So the next best thing is to help authors. Knowing I had a part in helping them get even one new reader makes me feel like part of the process.

Katie: Getting to say whatever the heck you want about something you read or watched. Having the freedom to let your opinion be judged by the world and being brave enough to hear the response.  Next to that would be all the wonderful people we get to meet from so many different walks of life.

13. If you could give a piece of advice or two to authors looking to work with a blog site, what would you say?

Sharon: Read their policies if they have any. Make sure they cater to your audience. If you contact us, be flexible. If we like what you offer but can’t manage a review, we might be able to arrange a guest post, spotlight or something.

Katie: And buy ad space if you can! We do this [running the site] for free so any help we can get through advertising goes a long way in keeping the site going!

14. Any last thoughts or things you might want to say to readers who are finding out about your blog for the first time?

Sharon: Drop in and see what we have to offer. We have a very interactive fb group and there are always moon pies and Kool Aid on the table. Of course you will need to bring a weapon of your choice because sometimes the dungeon door opens.

Katie: Plain and simple. We are fun. If you want to join in we would love to have you!

Be sure to become part of the Flock, and connect with I Smell Sheep at the following:

I Smell Sheep Website
Facebook Group

Monday, September 17, 2012

Haunting Obsession FREE on Amazon Kindle Today Through Wednesday!

Monday through Wednesday, September 17-19, Haunting Obsession will be absolutely free on Amazon Kindle!

We invite you to try R.J. Sullivan's new novella out, which also contains cover art and illustrations from the award-winning artist Bonnie Wasson.

Spread the word!  Tweet, post, and pass the link along, as nothing beats free!

To download your copy, use this direct link:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Blogger Spotlight: The Cabin Goddess

Here we go!  Our third installment features that force of nature from the far northwest, Kriss Morton of the Cabin Goddess.  Alaska is the only state big enough to host her presence!  As they say in Clash of the Titans, it is time to "Release the Kraken!"  Introducing the one ... the only... Cabin Goddess herself!

Blogger Spotlight #3: The Cabin Goddess

Tell us a little about yourself, and your background.

I grew up in Gig Harbor WA on a bay called Wollochet Bay. The house was built on what was once the Women’s Camp of the NW Wollochet Indian tribe discovered by Peter Puget. This is really significant because chunks of our property were actually excavated when I was growing up by University of Puget Sound and U of W Archeology students. The women apparently were burying their pets. YES AN INDIAN PET CEMETERY I KID YOU NOT! But this did not jive with what historians and anthropologists had, so from what I can remember at the time (I was 8) it was something they were doing without the knowledge or blessing of the men. 
I spent hours swimming, swinging, fishing, and digging up the clam shells that made up our bulk head the women had buried after cooking and eating them. The men lived across the bay on Picnic Point. 

I graduated in 1985 and at the time I was both photography editor of the Newspaper and Co-Editor of the Yearbook. I managed to sneak in the most infamous double page color spread never to be caught or mentioned by faculty or parents. SERIOUSLY no flack, NOTHING came of this, how they did not notice it I HAVE no clue. So the infamy of myself and other editor only lives in the eyes of students.

I have seen Van Halen live in 1985 chugging Jack Daniels on stage, got to boogie backstage with the Rollings Stones, hung out and partied with Alice and Chains back in the party in the woods of Port Orchard  and was good “friends” with Dave Krusen. Not to mention seeing AC/DC more time than I can shake a stick at. Quiet Riot, Cyndi Lauper, the FIRST concert Madonna ever put on in Seattle WA. Oh and Prince and the Revolution. THAT was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! AND I got pictures to boot! (snuck that camera in!)

My life as a teenager was far from boring. In fact, I have lead a charmed and amusing life. Picture me if you will as a debutante! I had to go, it was expected of my father to present his daughter in the Tacoma Cotillion as the most kick ass attorney in town, how could his daughter not be presented. I finally gave in as long as they all wore red bow ties and comburbuns instead of black and I got to pick my dates. My mom said yes as long as they were college students. *waggling eyebrows* I had two of my best friends and I was wicked and bad. The tallest most amazing friend and room mate I ever had, and one of the most interesting gay man to boot and the most wonderful smart ingenious friend who was more wild than the other one and about as fresh and fancy and so incredibly and obviously gay.. and black. AND YES it was the 80’s, it was SOCIETY, and there are asshats in this “CLIQUE” they knew why I was asking and we made sure we had our shimmy and sashay synced.

Seriously though, I am conundrum to even myself. I have a lot of hidden talents and skills and it tends to make my life a bit crazy at times. I studied Medieval Literature, Film, New Media Journalism and Photography at the University. I have been a reader and lover of books for as long as I can remember. My parents used to bribe me with all the books I could read by having me read classics, if they only knew how much I loved those too. Growing up I struggled with a lot of things and therefore I tended to lose myself in the fantasy and world of the book.

Currently I live in  Interior Alaska. I ended up here as a military wife and now I am here because I am trapped by it's beauty and its borders. I have a love hate relationship for the Interior. I also life in a one room, two story (so one room stacked on top of the other attached with stairs) log cabin which is water free, as in outhouse, no running water and I am forced to shower at the laundromat. (click HERE to see a gallery of the cabin)

Some folks call it the great Alaskan Dream, I call them in need of Thorazine but I make it work and even love it at times. Occasionaly I make snow angels at -40 in a bikini just to say I did it (see photographic proof. This is mine at Chena Hot Springs!)

Since graduating, I write my blog, my books, my poetry. I am working on a cookbook and doing all the photography for it as well as writing tales about each piece or each chapter. I also am working on a Post-Apocalyptic alternative fiction urban-ish fantasy-ish dystopian … thing. One of these years I will finish them. I average about 10K in words a day through out them all which is why you all see me here all the time. 

I also am a photographer with the crappiest online gallery mainly because I had no internet at the time and people found me word of mouth. You can see just a TINY TINY sliver and most of the good work is not even up. Twisted Sistah Photography and a smattering of early ManBeast & Me for a photography class (these are all scanned images). The rest? Well heck stock me on the blog or Facebook and Instagram for iPhoneography.

I am disorganized, in dire need of minions but basically I trudge on through and make it work day to day, as long as I have bacon, Ice Tea and Netflix in the background with bad movies playing.

Oh I love bacon, chocolate and take bribes in either.

What kinds of books do you like to read for pleasure?  Any favorites?

I love post-apocalyptic dystopians. I am not a lover of YA but these days with authors writing YA’s for women my age, I end up reading a lot. I love a good cozy myster (Rose Pressey, Juliet Blackwell and Charlene Harris’ Lily Bard Series for example. I also love good Urban Fantasy. I love Kevin Hearne (his dog loves bacon), Simon R. Green’s Nightside series and of course Jim Butcher with Harry Dresden! That is one series I own all in hardback. I love Harry, he is my hero. Anything Zombie! I have decided like zombie movies, 1 out of 10 is worth the read and the rest is wading through the entrails to fid the hidden perfectly tasty brain! Though these days a lot of great zombie books are coming out! The Risen series is my newest find and actually found it from a friends short story review and found up I read all of her October Daye series under her other pen name!

I re-read Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Umberto Eco, Roger Zelazny just to name a few (and I have been known to read my French Leis when bored).

But I read a lot of things for my own pleasure.

When did you start your blog, and what motivated you to do it?

I started my blog as an experiment. I had another that was used while I was in class working on my BA in New Media. We had no Internet up her in the hills so I had to walk down a ways till my 3G picked up and I would blog via my iPhone. It was a way to share my writing and photography and pontifications about Alaska Living. I originally called it Cabin Bitch, it fit. I was snarky and wanted. My first BLOG blog was officially on Livejournal and it is 13 years old, yes it is still there and no you maynot have the link. However I have been writing HTML code and have owned my owned my own domain name for Twisted Sistah for 15 years. I got my first non-Apple machine, a 200 Intel 2 in January of 1997 and that was all she wrote.

I did not work on much building an audience, I did it for fun and to be honest until I found the book blogging world I only cared about it because I wanted to be a foodie. I joined twitter on 4 November 2008, again it was because of New Media studies.  Facebook account has been active for .. heck since they opened, and before that MySpace and before that Yahoo and before that, shall I go on? I have been part of the online world for more than two decades in BBS, mIRC chats, and inter college webs. So yes, I know how to network. Plus being a former military wife, I knew what needed to be done and just did it. I stay engaged as best I can and so far I am just growing daily and daily at an alarmingly scary and exciting level.

Now my site is focused on my book reviewing, but I was dreaming of being a foodie blog . I love to cook, I am a very good cook in the sense that I can whip out a pretty good dinner on the fly without a recipe, the chemistry and all excites me. To comprise I decided to start writing recipes with my reviews and though I do not do it for EVERY book I do try and share one as often as I can depending on the book an the engagement of the author.

How did you come up with the name for your site?  Is there a story behind it?

I am a goddess! I live in a Cabin and when I started out it was called Cabin Bitch, which ended up being a wee bit harsh for the Book Blogging world (see above I kind of overshot this question). HOWEVER Cabin Bitch was because I wanted to be this bitchy off the wall cabin hippie who was living in the woods.. wait I already am.. anyway a way for me to be myself, cook, craft, photograph and share things with everyone. I was inspired by Cooking for Assholes frankly because that is how I feel at times when someone asks me how I did that. Heck I can make it taste good with three packes of ketchup, a packet of sugar and some soy sauce! Seriously it is not hard. A little bit of creativity, a bit of experimentation and thinking outside the box. I love when folks say, “ohhh I cannot afford to cook like you do!” HAH we are broke most of the time. If you follow me on instagram or my photos on facebook you will see a theme of the week or month. Usually because we got a deal on the ingredient and it means, Kriss must be creative! ANYWAY that is why I wanted to be Cabin Bitch. Being Cabin Goddess was a given, just as was Twisted Sistah!

What kinds of genres do you cover on your site?

Quick note, one of the things about reading and reviewing indie which is a pain in the ass, in my opinion, is labeling it with a genre. Many of the books have been turned down by Trade publishing because they do not fit into one specific genre. If I read a book that says mystery, I expect a mystery for me, not just for the characters. If I read Urban Fantasy than I expect that not a horror. However with Indie it is a crap shoot at times. So I try to stay “loosey goosey!”

On that note... I do not do non-fiction and I do not review erotica but I will try everything once fiction wise, except straight up romance. Oh and.. well SCREW that, I hate that crap! I have nightmares about that horrific purple prose crap! Hey no haters! My parents paid baby sitters an extra five bucks to read to us at night. This one baby sitter would read her piece of crap books and hum through the dirty parts. I literally had nightmares, because sometimes she would forget. THINK ABOUT IT, I was young enough to be babysat. This honestly developed some serious problems later in life, but this is a fun interview. Suffice it to say I have what is called Harlequin PTSD. OK THOSE reasons and the simple fact it is shit and those writers push that crap out a dozen a week. It has its place, as does soap operas, and I never watched those either!

I said I would never read or review Young Adult either, or at least review it. However the quality of YA coming out and the simple fact that most YA is written for adults these days means I end up readig them. When I find a YA that is TRULY YA (Emlyn Chand, Jackie Gamber for example) I sing their praises to the heavens.  YA has become a world that has been Twilight-ized and it disgusts me. I want to read Harry Potter books if it says YA, which means both my kids and I can enjoy it (see Jackie Gamber). More than 80% of the YA labeled books are written with the middle age soccer mom in mind, not young adults. I certainly would not let my kids read them!

As for the rest? I cover horror, zombie, fantasy and mystery for the most part. Though I love LOVE a good procedural novel and am very inclinded to be bribed with mucho bacon for a good urban fantasy detective novel! 

What kinds of regular features do you have on your site?

Fourth-Wall Friday is my latest and I LOVE IT! I feature authors who feature their author persona’s each Friday by breaking through their world build’s fourth-wall and stepping into their stories and books looking glass. It is a chance for the authors to be creative and show off their writing that is not an excerpt or in a guest post. It is meant to entertain not only them while writing us but us and also introduce their flavor to the readers! (food always finds a way in).

Review and a Recipe was an original concept of mine that has since then morphed into a requested type of review. Basically I create a recipe to go with your book or use one of yours!  I cook, photograph and name it appropriately (GENERATION - Body Farm Pudding Shots for GENERATION,   East Meets West Ice Cream (Blackberry Ginger) for CHANGES or Dixie Diva’s Southern Sweet Tea for example

I try to feature at least one recipe that I created without any books a month. Last month it was my THE AIRPLANE CRASH SANDWICH – Charred Flesh on Toast

I feature a Sunday Short, which will be morphing into Weekly Shorts. The idea is pretty simple; a short story, an anthology of short stories, a novella, or a quick weekend read that is also short on your wallet ($2.99 and under) It is all about exposing those great short stories that seem to be left at the curb and forgotten about. I also try to spot light using Teaser Tuesdays whatever I am reviewing that week! It is is a weekly meme where you share two “teaser” sentences from your current read to try to entice others to want to seek it out. I participate in Musing Mondays which is a weekly event where a question is asked relating to books or reading. book/reading-related question.

I am also part of a Blog Talk Radio show with The Indie Exchange. I am a co-host and you can find me there on Friday's about 80% of the time with Coral Russell. It is pretty much a blast, we interview authors, discuss what we are reading and she usually is cooking dinner and drinking her drink of the week. Rather festive!

What is the hardest thing about being a blogger?

Time management and organization. I have no time for a life outside of doing this. Not because I cannot but because I have a hard time balancing. Being a perfetionist and feeling like I fall short with this most of the time I end up having nothing extra to give. Seriously. I want to have a day where I only work 10 hours. I want a day to read the books I buy for pleasure or re-read. I have a hard time balancing fun with work and yes this is a job albeit an awesome one!

What are your favorite things about being a blogger?

Meeting people and creating wonderful beautiful blog posts that make my authors and friends happy. I blog because I love to do it, simple as that. Plus it also keeps me writing actively.

If you could give a piece of advice or two to authors looking to work with a blog site, what would you say?

Read and peruse their blog, read their review policy and take a chance. Be personable, do not send a form letter and approach them as if you want to actually get to know them. Making them happy and smiling and engaging them on a personal level is what I want. Oh and bribes, bacon and chocolate like I said! 

Any last thoughts or things you might want to say to readers who are finding out about your blog for the first time? 

Start clicking. It is a mess right now, I try my best to keep it organized but I am coming up on 500 posts at the moment and I know I need things updated and organized better. Oh wait, HAVE FUN, my top menu drops down with TONS of great links to everything I think is interesting. Including all my food, recipes, photography, poems and series! Most of all? I would love to hear from you! If you like it, let me know. You never know, I may hit you up to review your book! Or we may end up great friends. I am a pretty awesome friend and person to hang out with, albiet a bit emotional and crazy, but those are good qualities at times!

Hold onto your shoes, you will end up losing one, your hat and your shirt will be inside out by the end but you will have a smile on your face! 

Be sure to visit the Cabin Goddess and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Big Announcement: Exciting Kickstarter Project for Book Involving Major Authors

Seventh Star Press is proud to announce a new Kickstarter project to support the release of the Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Bram Stoker Award-winning editor Michael Knost.

Here is the link to the Kickstarter Page where you can view a new short film from Allotrope Media that relates to this project and see the various levels of participation if you would like to help us make this book a reality.

Here is a brief description of the book and collaborators involved:

The Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy is a collection of essays and interviews with some of most influential names in the industry; each article covering a specific element of the craft of writing science fiction and fantasy. The collaborators in this wonderful anthology include:

Neil Gaiman – “Where Do You Get Your Ideas?”

Orson Scott Card – “On Rhetoric and Style.”

Lou Anders – “Nebulous Matters, or Speculations on Subgenre.”

Lucy Snyder – “Ursula K. LeGuin Talks About A Lifetime in the Craft.”

James Gunn – “Beginnings.”

George Zebrowski – “Middles.”

Jay Lake – “Endings.”

Nayad Monroe – “Tim Powers Talks About Writing Supernatural Awe and More.”

Pam Sargent – “Talking Too Much, or Not Enough: Dialogue in Science Fiction and Fantasy.”

G. Cameron Fuller -- “How Alien the Alien: A Primer on Viewpoint.”

Nancy Kress – “The Green-Skinned Zorn Laughed With Grief: Character and Emotion in Science Fiction and Fantasy.”

Harry Turtledove – “Alternate History: the How-To of What Might Have Been.”

Jude-Marie Green – “Larry Niven Talks About the Collaborative Process.”

Joe Haldeman – “Hemingway Talks About Writing.”

Nisi Shawl – “Unbending Gender.”

Alan Dean Foster – “Reverse Engineering: Writing Novelizations.”

Alethea Kontis – “Kevin J. Anderson Talks About Spin-off Novels and Prequels.”

Elizabeth Bear -- “Tactics of Worldbuilding.”

Jackie Gamber-"Ann Vandermeer Talks About Weird Fiction"

Michael Knost – Short fiction editors Ellen Datlow, Stanley Schmidt, Gordon Van Gelder, James Patrick Kelly, Mike Resnick, and John Joseph Adams discuss what they are looking for when reading submissions.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bonnie Wasson Wins in Dragon*Con Art Show for SSP Cover Art!

We would like to congratulate SSP artist Bonnie Wasson on winning the Artist Choice Award for Best Warrior in the Dragon*Con Art Show for her cover art of an SSP title, D.A. Adams' The Brotherhood of Dwarves!

Bonnie created all of the cover art and illustrations seen in the SSP editions of D.A. Adams' Brotherhood of Dwarves Series, in addition to the new paranormal thriller, Haunting Obsession, from R.J. Sullivan.

Congratulations Bonnie!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Blogger Spotlight: Ali's Bookshelf

Blogger Spotlight: Ali's Bookshelf

In our second installment of our Blogger Spotlight, we will be visiting with Ali's Bookshelf, a wonderful blog run by Ali Justice.  We have worked with Ali for quite a while, and she is definitely hard at work. In addition to Ali's Bookshelf, she also has Ali Talks Live, a podcast about books and authors, and Jitterbug PR, which performs services for authors like blog tours, public relations, and beta reading.  So let's not wait any longer! It's time to meet Ali herself!

Blogger Spotlight #2: Ali's Bookshelf

Ali's Bookshelf

1.Tell us a little about yourself, and your background
I’m a mother of two wonderful kids who I love and adore more than anything.  My oldest is Samantha and she is defiantly my mini me, she even helps with my blog for a post called Mini Me Corner.  Then I have my little man Braxton who is my sweetheart.  He started school this year and I’m totally missing having him around me all the time.  But, he is one of those kids that has to know how everything works.

I live in Kentucky so, as you can tell by my picture, I am a total country girl. I grew up on a farm with all the usual animals and love the outdoors.  I would rather run around with no shoes on and be outside most of the time.  Other than that, I am a book lover and a blogger, a friend to many, a sister to three brothers (I have no idea how I put up with three of them) and I’m a PR agent for several authors.  I now own two companies, one being My PR Company called Jitterbug PR and the other is called Creatively Elegant Wedding and Events.  I am also a certified Wedding and Event Planner. I am what my friends call a Jack of all trades, more like a Jill of all trades though.

2. What kinds of books do you like to read for pleasure? Any favorites?
I read a lot of YA, Sci-fi, and Fantasy books.  My favorites would have to be anything wrote by Raymond E. Feist or C.S. Lewis.

3. When did you start your blog, and what motivated you to do it?
I started my blog mid-August of 2011.  I was doing another blog and started to do some book reviews on it, but that blog got kind of boring for me, so I wanted to try my hand at just book reviewing and now I love it!

4. How did you come up with the name for your site? Is there a story behind it?
Well my blog is Ali’s Bookshelf and I came up with that name mainly because I wanted to show off all the books on my bookshelf’s.  Ali, well that is my name from everyone I know personally so it just fit.

5. What kinds of genres do you cover on your site?
I cover a lot of different things, mainly YA, Fantasy, Sci-fi, and Chick- lit.

6. What kinds of regular features do you have on your site?
So as for my regular features on Ali’s Bookshelf, other than author interviews, guest posts, and cover reveals, I also have Another Add to my bookshelf and Sittin on the Shelf.  Both of these are to showcase books I’m either about to read or just got and want to add to my TBR list soon.  Then I have Ali Talks Live, which most of you know is my live talk show where I interview authors every week.  I have a lot of different weekly and daily features.

7. What is the hardest thing about being a blogger?
Hardest thing about being a blogger is saying no to some amazing books.  I can’t accept every single book that comes my way, there is no way. I get on average about 500 review requests a week.  So I have to pick and choose.  I wish I could say yes to all of them, but I do have a life and family outside of blogging and reviewing!

8. What are your favorite things about being a blogger?
My favorite things about being a blogger is simple…The Books! Books are one of my favorite things and to get to read and tell everyone I know about them is a dream of mine.  Sharing my passion of books with all my readers and listeners is so much fun.  I also really love my show Ali Talks Live.  It’s so much fun just chatting with authors about all kinds of stuff.

9. If you could give a piece of advice or two to authors looking to work with a blog site, what would you say?
The first piece of advice I would give is to make sure you know the blog you are seeking out for review.  Know their review policy; know the type of books they review, make sure you know what they ask of you when requesting a review as well.  Make sure you include everything they need like links and bio when requesting the review.  It’s very important to think of this as a job request not a favor as well.

The reason I say know the blogger and their blog is simple, every single blogger is different, and we have our own style of doing things.  I know my one huge pet peeve is when someone sends me a request, that I don’t want the review copy in the first email before I agree to read it.  Other reviewers are fine with that.

Also know that each review is the opinion of the reviewer, I don’t promise pretty reviews and I don’t give out 5 puppies lightly.  I do post DNF posts (Did Not Finish) some bloggers don’t. If you are sending me your book to be reviewed, then please know that you are doing so at your own risk.  You are asking me for my own opinion and I will give it to you.

10. Any last thoughts or things you might want to say to readers who are finding out about your blog for the first time?
I love being a blogger and Ali’s Bookshelf is something I put my heart and soul into.  Most bloggers I know spend as much time working on their blog then they do at a normal job.  I know I spend at least 45 hours a week on mine or more even.  Please know we do this for the love of books and authors.  We aren’t here to say mean things; we are here to review the books we are given like we are asked.

As for readers of my blog, I hope you enjoy my blog as much as I do.  My biggest hope for the readers of my blog is that they find a great book to read, maybe even a book that will become their favorite.

Thanks for having me on the blog, I am very excited to be here!

Be sure to visit Ali's Bookshelf and connect on Facebook and Twitter!

Ali's Bookshelf: