Tuesday, October 21, 2014

THE SECRETS OF CASANOVA by Greg Michaels (Guest Post)

Why Casanova?
by Greg Michaels
I’d had my fill of the walking dead. Couldn’t stomach another twelfth century zombie. Was bored to tears with vampire heroes.
“But,” you scold, “you chose an incorrigible, womanizing charlatan to be the protagonist of your historical mystery?”
“Yikes,” I reply, “I did.”
But please, please, allow me to digress . . .
Not to get too personal about whole generations of folks, but for those of us who survived the wild and crazy ‘70’s and ‘80’s—well, I’ll talk about just me—by the turn of the 21st century I was in need of a bit of redemption. If nothing else, it was imperative for me to discover what I really felt about life, religion, salvation, the metaphysical, afterlife, etc. You know—the pesky subjects.
“Too much uncertainty in my spirit,” I thought. “Writing could be potent therapy. So maybe a glossy coffee-table book? Something hip like that.”
Now what’s that quote?  “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” A teacher, an historical figure, appeared just as I was primed for a spiritual lesson or two. That is, a guy’s biography practically jumped from the bookstore shelf into my sweaty palms. And I bet you know whose biography it was.
Casanova lived from 1725-1798, during a period that was later called The Age of Reason. From your high school history class, you’ll effortlessly recall The Age of Reason as a time of scientific thought, skepticism, and intellectual interchange that challenged the established order, especially government and religion.
Religion! Wasn’t that one of the subjects that was troubling me?
“This ain’t gonna be no coffee table book,” I finally decided. No, Casanova leaped from each biographical page. He was far more exciting than his reputation, larger than life, grander (!) than a coffee-table book.
Ah, here was a decadent cad upon whom I could hang my literary hat. Here was an antihero who could lurch from decadence to redemption in three-hundred pages. And, by the way, did I mention that some called him genius?
But wait, unbelievably there was more that could fit my literary needs:  as a young man, Casanova began his training in the priesthood—until he was expelled from the seminary for degenerate behavior. Later, after particularly frustrating life experiences, he twice considered checking into a monastery. I began to suspect that beneath his debauched behavior there was some spiritual underpinning to the man, a kernel of decency.
And then there were Casanova’s words in the preface of his autobiography: “I am not only a monotheist but a Christian whose faith is strengthened by philosophy, which has never injured anything.” And his deathbed words:  “Almighty God, and you witnesses of my death, I have lived as a philosopher and die as a Christian.”
Casanova’s biographer didn’t buy a word of it. But maybe it was up to me to decide?  
Oh also, along the way, I discovered that Casanova rubbed shoulders with kings, queens, philosophers, popes, pimps, prostitutes, and adventurers. This libertine knew life from the gutter to the church tower. Fantastic!
Casanova’s character—or lack of it—excited me. The way he lived his life electrified me. Could I—in a novel—bottle some of his exuberant spirit, his intellectual prowess, his damning deficiencies? As my protagonist, what questions might Casanova ask? What could he find? What would be the dramatic result? Casanova himself says “I did not stop to discover if what was leading me on was vice or virtue.” What a vast literary license those words offered!
And why not put a smart, brave woman at his side? For moral balance.
Whole-heartedly I chose Casanova as my main man. With my pen I sent him on an epic journey throughout Europe in a search for his heart, mind, and soul.
Now dear reader, if you’re in need of a little “therapy” for past transgressions—even if all your peccadilloes took place pretty recently—may I humbly suggest The Secrets of Casanova? My novel will not present “answers” but be assured, there are plenty of those pesky, soul-searching questions.
Plus mystery, romance, peril, and passion!
Thanks for reading.
Publication Date: October 21, 2013
Booktrope Editions
Formats: eBook Paperback; 334p
Genre: Historical Fiction
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About the book
2014 Nancy Pearl Award Winner for Fiction.
Loosely based on the life of Jacques Casanova, The Secrets of Casanova is a rich, lush novel of love, sex, family, ambition, intrigue, and adventure. Set in Paris of 1755, Casanova’s luck is fading and his past is shoving up against his present with potentially disastrous consequences. What price must he pay to uncover a treasure of inestimable value? What hearts must he break along the way? Casanova’s will and destiny collide again and again in this riveting historical fiction that brings to light a man of great passion and not a few secrets.
Praise for The Secrets of Casanova
“A Shakespearean actor with a flair for the dramatic and a superb ear for dialogue, Michaels’s debut novel puts a brilliantly original spin on an historical figure whose very name is a cliché. This Casanova must wrestle not only with falling hopelessly and passionately in love, but embarking on a mysterious quest that is as much a spiritual awakening as a swashbuckling adventure. The Secrets of Casanova is so erotic and so sensitively written, I found it difficult to believe its author was a man.” -Robin Maxwell, national best-selling author of The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn
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About the Author
After receiving his B.A. in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin, a chance experience thrust Greg into a career as a professional actor and fight director. To date he’s acted in over fifty theater productions, more than forty television shows, and choreographed dozens of swordfights for stage and screen. In THE SECRETS OF CASANOVA, Greg again proves his skill at telling a theatrical story. He lives with his wife, two sons, and Andy the hamster.
For more information please visit Greg Michaels’s website.   Like The Secrets of Casanova Facebook Page. Follow Greg Michaels on Twitter.
The Secrets of Casanova Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, October 13
Review at Bookish
Tuesday, October 14
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, October 15
Thursday, October 16
Review & Interview at Carpe Librum
Friday, October 17
Monday, October 20
Review at A Book Geek
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, October 21
Spotlight & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, October 22
Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf
Thursday, October 23
Friday, October 24
Review at Book Nerd

Sunday, October 19, 2014

THE TUDOR VENDETTA by C.W. Gortner: Guest Post & Giveaway

Elizabeth I: An Uncertain Beginning

by C.W. Gortner

In THE TUDOR VENDETTA, the third and final book in my Elizabeth I Spymaster Trilogy (Elizabeth’s Spymaster in the UK), I decided to focus on the first uncertain, tumultuous months leading up to Elizabeth I’s coronation. Although this novel is perhaps the most fictionalized of the three in the series, in that the mystery which Elizabeth’s private spy must uncover remains unsubstantiated by historical evidence, the setting I depict is not.
It’s almost impossible for us to believe now that Elizabeth Tudor faced an uncertain future upon her accession. Her forty-five year reign has been so cemented in our imagination as one of unmitigated triumph that we take it as a given. Her ability to steer past the shoals of religious discord and enmity of Catholic powers both abroad and in her realm, as well as her astonishing lack of compromise when it came to marriage, have made her an icon: the Virgin Queen, Gloriana, who once said she already had a husband, for she was “married to England.”
Nevertheless, the twenty-five year old princess who claimed the throne in November 1558 was, while superbly educated and politically savvy, still untried as a ruler. Indeed, she faced a myriad of issues that might have overwhelmed anyone but her. After her sister Mary I’s disastrous five-year reign—a portion of which is depicted in the second novel of the series, The Tudor Conspiracy— England teetered on the brink of ruin. Mary’s fervent persecution of Protestants had turned the country upside down, exiling or destroying many of the affluent merchants who upheld the Reformed Faith and formed the backbone of economic stability. Her ill-fated marriage to Philip of Spain had turned popular opinion against her, a tragic side-effect of her determination to see England restored to Rome, which annihilated the initial wave of support from her subjects that saw her to the throne. In addition, her economic policies had debased the coinage even further—an ongoing issue that had bedeviled her predecessors, and now fomented severe discontent, with the strife over the enclosure or sale of monastic lands begun under Henry VIII, a long-gnawed bone of contention between nobility and commoners.
Elizabeth thus inherited a legacy of intolerance, brutal reprisal, and financial chaos; she also was considered nearing her middle years, as surprising as this might seem to us, because of overall life expectancy in her era, and of her family, in particular. The need to marry and produce an heir was therefore paramount to her advisors, most particularly William Cecil, who had safeguarded her during the years before her accession. Marriage was deemed not only vital to shoring up her reign, but also to protecting her from foreign aggression, now personified by her cousin, Mary of Scots, the dauphine of France by virtue of her marriage to the French king’s heir. Catholics by and large believed Mary of Scots held the superior right to the English throne, based on the contention that Henry VIII’s marriage to Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn, had been illegal. Many Catholics deemed Elizabeth a bastard usurper, including the pope himself.
Elizabeth’s famous motto of video et taceo ("I see, and say nothing") may have arisen as she began to realize just how tenuous her reign could be. She is renowned for not wanting to “make mirrors into men’s souls”. Perhaps this, above all else, was her most defining characteristic. She did not believe that prying into private matters, religious or otherwise, would serve her in the long run—a rare stance for any ruler, much less an untried one, yet one which, as history would show, served her well.
In THE TUDOR VENDETTA, we meet Elizabeth in the first weeks of her much-vaunted reign—here, she is a woman who has survived more in her youth than many experience in a lifetime, having navigated the seesaw of favor and disfavor, the stigma of illegitimacy, the scandals that marred her adolescence, and even a terrifying imprisonment in the Tower. But she is not yet the Elizabeth who will eventually emerge from the forge of trial-and-error; she is not the white-faced, oversize-gowned sovereign of legend.
She is still a new queen, determined but unproven, treading on thin ice. She dreams of being the savior of her nation, but her path to glory will be arduous—and she may lose everything if she fails to protect one potentially fatal secret.
I hope you enjoy exploring this exciting time in one of history’s most dramatic eras. To learn more about THE TUDOR VENDETTA and my other books, please visit me at www.cwgortner.com

Please join C.W. Gortner as he tours the blogosphere for the release of the third book in his Spymaster Chronicles Series, The Tudor Vendetta, from October 20 – November 28, and enter to win a complete set of the trilogy!

Publication Date: October 21, 2014
St. Martin’s Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Series: Spymaster Chronicles
Genre: Historical Mystery

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Winter, 1558: Elizabeth I has ascended the throne but the first days of her reign are already fraught with turmoil, the kingdom weakened by strife and her ability to rule uncertain.
Summoned from exile abroad at the new queen’s behest, Brendan Prescott arrives in London to face his shattered past. He soon finds himself pitted in deadly rivalry with his life-long foe, Robert Dudley, but when a poison attempt overshadows the queen’s coronation, Elizabeth privately dispatches Brendan on a far more dangerous assignation: to find her favored lady-in-waiting, Lady Parry, who has vanished in Yorkshire.
Upon his arrival at the crumbling sea-side manor that may hold the key to Lady Parry’s disappearance, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he becomes the quarry of an elusive stranger with a vendetta— one that could expose both his own buried identity and a long-hidden revelation that will bring about Elizabeth’s doom.
From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the prisons of the Tower, Brendan must risk everything to unravel a vendetta that strikes at the very core of his world, including his loyalty to his queen.
The Tudor Vendetta is the third book in Gortner’s Elizabeth I Spymaster Trilogy.

Praise for The Tudor Vendetta

“Fast paced and exciting, with a most engaging hero . . . So vivid, you feel are there!” – Diana Gabaldon, bestselling author of the Outlander series
“C.W. Gortner has done it again! Full of breathtaking action, dark twists and unexpected revelations, this is an unputdownable read.” – Michelle Moran, bestselling author of Madame Tussaud
“Suspense, intrigue, betrayal and deadly rivalry: What more can you ask for? A swashbuckling, perilous adventure.” – M.J. Rose, bestselling author of The Reincarnationist

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About the Author

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.
After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.
In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.
C.W. recently completed his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about Lucrezia Borgia; the third novel in his Tudor Spymaster series for St Martin’s Press; and a new novel about the dramatic, glamorous life of Coco Chanel, scheduled for lead title publication by William Morrow, Harper Collins, in the spring of 2015.
Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.
For more information please visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also connect with him on FacebookTwitterGoodreadsPinterest, andYouTube.

The Tudor Vendetta Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 20
Review at The Maiden’s Court
Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, October 21
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, October 22
Review at Back Porchervations
Review at Always With a Books
Thursday, October 23
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Friday, October 24
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Interview at Back Porchervations
Monday, October 27
Review at JulzReads
Review at Queen of All She Reads
Tuesday, October 28
Review at Beth’s Book Reviews
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Wednesday, October 29
Review at Making My Mark
Review at Writing the Renaissance
Guest Post at Bookish
Thursday, October 30
Review & Guest Post at Drey’s Library
Review & Interview at The Copperfield Review & From Meredith Allard
Interview at Writing the Renaissance
Friday, October 31
Review at Book by Book
Monday, November 3
Review at Mari Reads
Review & Gues Post at JM Ledwell Writes
Tuesday, November 4
Review at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, November 5
Review at One Book at a Time
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, November 6
Review at Booktalk & More
Friday, November 7
Review at Build a Bookshelf
Monday, November 10
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Tuesday, November 11
Review at A Book Geek
Review at The Lit Bitch
Wednesday, November 12
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, November 13
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Friday, November 14
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight at Paranormal Book Club
Monday, November 17
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at The Never-Ending Book
Tuesday, November 18
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Guest Post at What is That Book About
Wednesday, November 19
Review at Kate Forsyth’s Blog
Thursday, November 20
Review & Interview at The Tudor Enthusiast
Friday, November 21
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Monday, November 24
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at The True Book Addict
Tuesday, November 25
Review at Historical Tapestry
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection
Wednesday, November 26
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, November 28
Review at Books in the Burbs
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story


To win a complete set of CW Gortner’s Spymaster Chronicles Trilogy please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only.
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on November 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on November 29th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Interview with Saylor Storm, Author of Sue's Seduction (Review plus Giveaway)

Does the fountain of eternal youth really exist? Tales of a spring that supposedly restores the youth of whoever drinks and bathes in it have been recounted for thousands of years. During the 16th century the legend of the miraculous water became particularly prominent: according to some apocryphal literature, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon searched for the longevity fountain during his travels to the Caribbean. The legend remained, well, a legend. Like for the Saint Graal, nothing was ever found to substantiate the myth, but today scientists claim that the anti-aging miracle is possible, in the form of a revolutionary pill.  

In Sue's Seduction, book 1 of the Sue's Journey series, romantic suspense writer Saylor Storm takes an actual scientific premise (the 'youth pill', a powerful blend of complex botanicals and vitamins that could stop and reverse aging) and turns it into something imaginatively bold, positively entertaining, and altogether thought-provoking.

“According to science, the thing that ages us is the shortening of Telomeres [Editor's Note: telomeres are a DNA sequence that appears at the end of each chromosome. When cells divide, the telomeres get shorter and this is what causes the cells to age],” Storm explains. “And hypothetically, if you could reverse that shortening, you could potentially reverse aging. So I took that piece of reality, and exaggerated the possibilities. I had a lot of fun with it.”

Would you defy the laws of nature and use this miraculous supplement? Would you let exterior beauty and youth define you? Are you what you look like on the outside or are you the sum of your experiences, achievements, personal history, and spiritual path?

Middle aged, overweight, depressed, and lonely Susan Kent becomes part of an anti-aging clinical trial and is offered a lease on life. She swiftly transforms into a budding beauty. Her newfound tender age brings opportunities, lovers, and tragedy. Sue's youthful path takes her  on a journey that she never could have imagined and catastrophe brings sobering consequences. Compassionate attorney, Roger Grayson, enters her life and saves the day. In the end does Susan choose youth or the promise of love?

With its bite-sized chapters, accessible prose, and absorbing pace, Sue's Seduction pinned me down to my chair: a modern-day, chick-lit version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Saylor Storm's fascinating narrative provided me with a few hours of uninterrupted reading pleasure, leaving me, in its final pages, on a delicious cliffhanger. No worries, though. The sequel, Sue's Rapture, is now available on Kindle Amazon for $ 0.99. I'm hooked...line and sinker.

***Review copy of Sue's Seduction graciously offered by the publicist in exchange for an unbiased and honest opinion

Interview with Saylor Storm

I am thrilled to have Saylor Storm on the blog with a great 'two-way' interview (Saylor's questions and my answers are at the bottom of this post) and a giveaway you don't want to miss. Saylor loves to interact with her readers, so don't be bashful...stop by and comment away!

Welcome to Mina's Bookshelf, Saylor! It's great to have you on the blog. Your novel, Sue's Seduction, was so easy to breeze through. I read your bio and you are quite the traveler - if we could conduct this interview face-to-face, in a place other than the blogosphere, where would we meet?

Thank you for having me here today, Mina, and thank you for taking the time to read Sue's Seduction. My favorite spot in the world is Fiji. We could meet there for a tete-a-tete, enjoy the magnificent beaches and be served fresh lobster and Australian wine by the friendliest natives in the world and after we could drop in on a local medicine man for a cava ceremony [Editor's Note: Kava is a crop used for medicinal, religious, political, cultural and social purposes throughout the Pacific. These cultures have a great respect for the plant and place a high importance on it. In Fiji, for example, a formal yaqona (kava) ceremony will often accompany important social, political, religious, functions.]

I've never met you. How do I recognize you? The adjectives that better describe you as a woman and an author.

Inspired easily, calm and collected, salubrious and straightforward.

How did you find your call as a writer of 'romantic suspense'? Or should I say 'romance'? Which category does your writing better fit in?

It's not easy to fit into a particular category; I believe that is why there are so many of them these days. I may have started out as a romance writer with some suspense, but feel that as time goes on it will be the other way around; a suspense writer with some romance.

Your Sue's Journey trilogy blends elements of romance, suspense, and science fiction. How did you get hooked on this particular combination of genres? Did any author/book/life experience influence you?

John MacDonald had a big influence on me, growing up I read every one of his novels and I think Travis McGee stuck in subconscious somewhere, hence my character, Arnie Darrow. The science fiction ideas are a fun way of taking something from real life and twisting into something surreal.

How did Sue's character come about? Is she inspired to a real story? What shaped your imagination?

To me, Sue is the typical middle-aged woman who is bitter and has given up on life. She takes no responsibility for her own happiness and blames everyone around her for her misery.  She buries herself in too much bad food and alcohol.

Can you share with us more details about this heroine's arc throughout the trilogy? Book 1, Sue's Seduction, was released last year; book 2, Sue's Rapture, will be next and there are plans for a third one. What made you decide to bring Susan Kent back?

In book 1, Sue's Seduction, middle aged, unhappy and overweight, Susan Kent, becomes part of a reverse aging clinical trial and goes from 55 to a 20-year-old model. In the beginning, her life is perfect, then reality sets in and it all starts to come apart.

Book 2, Sue's Rapture, finds Sue back to her real age and connecting with the love of her life, Roger Grayson. Life is idyllic until Roger becomes gravely ill. Desperate to keep her love alive and well, they experiment with the reverse aging product. Roger's disease dissipates, but Sue sees a new side to Roger that is dark and foreboding.

I had decided to kill Sue off at the end of the second book, but then decided that her character is key to the plot in the last book.

The third book, Sue's Legacy, will play out with Sue's daughter, Karen, having to deal with the aftermath of her mother's involvement with the reverse aging drug. The story unfolds with deception and greed and it is difficult to tell who can trust whom.

What is the most amazing fact you have discovered while researching and writing about beauty, youth, and aging? Did your own views about health, beauty, and science change somewhat as a consequence?

The fact that a reverse aging product is a real possibility in our lifetime; that right around the corner we may all be able to take a little pill that will make us look and feel like a 20-year-old until we die at a ripe old age of 120! I have implemented numerous practices for protecting the length of my telomeres (the endings of our  DNA) such as taking specific supplements, exercising moderately and meditation.

Saylor, you have a professional background in fashion. How do you incorporate your work experience into your writing? Do your past professional and your new venture as an author have anything in common, any trick or lesson that helped you navigate the writing and publishing world?

There are ideas that hold fast and true for any business and writing is a business just like any other. It all comes down to marketing and selling a brand. Every brand needs a recognizable logo for the public to identify with.

Twitter style, 140 characters, who should pick up your Sue's Journey Trilogy and why?

Follow Sue's Journey as she reverses aging 50 to 20, finds Sex, Love & Happiness? http://tinyurl.com/m48jpyb #intrigue #deception #romance

What are you currently reading? Any thing in particular on your nightstand or kindle?

I am reading The Science of Love by John Baines as research for a monthly article that I write about love for a soon to be released magazine called Cover It.  The author divides love into two basic categories: corrupt love and divine love. The book is based on the theories of Hermeticism. Hermes was the god of wisdom I ancient Greek mythology.

Absolutely fascinating! Thank you for gracing my blog with your presence, Saylor.

As I mentioned before, this is a 'two-way' interview: I'll be answering Saylor Storm's questions, but first, a few more details about this intriguing author and a treat for our readers.

About Saylor Storm
Saylor Storm takes something from real life and turns it into something fun, and perhaps a bit twisted. Reality becomes fantasy, or is that imagination turns into real life experience? Her stories include places where she has lived or visited from beaches of Malibu to Islands of Fiji and destinations in between, including the monastery in her novel, Dr. Selfish. Love and passion are at the root of her novels; after all isn't that what life is all about? Storm is a long-time resident of beautiful Lake Tahoe and n active member of the Romance Writer of America.  Saylor is currently working on several new books and loves to hear from her readers! Visit her at www.SaylorStorm.com

Social links

About Sue's Rapture

At long last, seasoned and savvy Susan Kent finds the love of her life, compassionate attorney, Roger Grayson. The two create an idyllic life until Roger receives devastating  news that could change their lives forever. Unwilling to give up on her perfect love, Sue devises a new plan to get their lives back on track. Sue could never have imagined how her perfect plan could have gone so completely out of control. Will Sue be able to repair the damage and will she even want after she sees a darker side to Roger?

Buy links

Sue's Rapture (Sue's Journey, Book 2)
Amazon KINDLE EDITION, ONLY $ 0.99!!!

Sue's Seduction (Sue's Journey, Book 1)
Amazon / Barnes&Noble


An e-copy of Sue's Seduction is up for grabs. Click HERE to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. The contest ends on November 1st.

Interview with Mina's Bookshelf

Saylor, thank you for your questions! Sometimes you don't know what's in your heart until you have to put it in writing. So, this is the woman behind the bookshelf...
How did you begin blogging?
My life-long passion for reading and reviewing books turned into a daily ritual in recent years. When authors and publishers started to reach out to me for feedback on Goodreads and other social media, I decided to give my thoughts an organic structure, a hub authors and readers could easily identify and refer to.
Do you have a special time to blog or how is your day structured?
There's a beautiful YA novel by David Almond whose title perfectly answers the question: "My Name Is Mina And I Love The Night." As a single mother of two young children, blogger, book editor and contributor for an e-magazine, I make the most of any available moment during the day to read, analyze, and research. But it is at night, when the kids are asleep, that I find the perfect conditions to put all the fragments together and write.
What motivates you?
Love of knowledge.
Why do you blog?
To share my knowledge with readers who rely on reviews and word of mouth to choose their next read. Blogging is a conversation I have with myself and with an audience of people who share my passion.  That sense of community is what keeps this blog going.
How do you use facebook?
Daily. I am active user. On both pages, personal and public (http://facebook.com/MinasBookshelf)
What challenges have you set for yourself?
Being the best mentor and guidance for my children.
Are you a brand?
I think I am, in my own little way. I offer a service. I create a value (albeit intangible) that has its own peculiar, unique characteristics.
What do you read, and how do you read it?
My reading taste is quite diversified. I like variety. Historical fiction, mystery, fantasy, chick lit, self-help, psychology, parenting, business...anywhere, anytime.
What are you grateful for?
The list is long. My family and friends above all else.
What are you good at?
Anything I put my heart into.
What would you most like to learn on your own?
A fourth language.
Who inspires you?
Human rights advocates and the people I love.
What have you done to earn money?
I started working when I was 16. I've been a cashier, a sales rep, a private tutor, a translator, a tour guide, a park greeter, a Fellowship Ambassador, a cultural rep, guest relations officer, customer service expert, account executive, export manager, freelance illustrator and writer.
Where is the line between truth and fiction?
Hard to see  a blurry line...fiction is laced with truth and there's not such a thing as one, unalterable truth.
How productive and organized are you?
I am creative and I value quality over quantity. Organized chaos can be very productive.
When have you ever failed at something? What happened as a result?
If you learn from your mistakes, failure is the key to success. I call it 'experience'. I have never failed at anything.
How full is your glass?
What do you want out of life?
Be happy. Be helpful.
What will make you feel successful?
Doing what I love to do at the best of my abilities.
What makes you happy?
My kids, a good book, a cup of tea.