Monday, September 26, 2011

Gothicked Giveaway Two and Guest Blogger Sarah Ballance!

I am so thrilled to have a fellow Astraea Press author, Sarah Ballance, here today! Her novella, Hawthorne, has been getting tons of buzz, and it's a gothic romance. How cool is that? Just comment about why you like gothic romance or that you'd like to win below by Sept. 30th at 12 p.m. So, without further ado, here's Sarah...

Support Disaster Relief with HAWTHORNE
Sarah Ballance

Hi, Lisa! Thanks so much for this opportunity to get out the word about HAWTHORNE. It's been called everything from a paranormal romance to Southern gothic, but the bottom line is it's only $1, and 100% of those proceeds will be forwarded directly from the publisher to benefit Japan earthquake relief. I hope you will all join me in supporting the tens of thousands of people who are still suffering from the disaster which occurred on March 11, 2011. Unfortunately, the story has faded from the news, but some horrible truths remain. An August 11 update from Red Cross Japan reveals the following sober statistics:
  • As of July 14, 35,643 persons disaster refugees remain in evacuation centers and other temporary housing within the three worst affected prefectures (Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate). 4,757 people are still missing.
  • An astounding 142,109 survivors have applied for unemployment benefits as of July 29 in the three most affected prefectures alone.
  • 51,000 families still live in pre-fabricated houses, most having lost their homes and everything in them. Thousands others remain in shelters.
My Personal Challenge
I'd never written a short story before, so this was scary territory for me. I struggled a bit with coming up with a plot that was enough to keep readers' interest without being too much for novella territory. It was actually my husband who came up with the idea to make it a ghost story, and I think those were the most brilliant words to ever leave his mouth. (Well, second to asking me to marry him, LOL.) With his suggestion, the last scene of HAWTHORNE hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. I wrote that scene first, and I was so excited to get to the end to tie things together that the rest of the words just flew.
And wow, what a response! If you'd like to see what readers are saying, take a look at HAWTHORNE's GoodReads page: I'm likely a new-to-you author (because I'm new in general, LOL) but for a $1 donation to earthquake relief, I hope some of you are willing to give me a chance. If you do, and you enjoy the story, please tell a friend! (And if you hate it, you can always recommended HAWTHORNE to your frenemies, LOL).
**GIVEAWAY** It's my honor to give away a PDF copy of HAWTHORNE to an interested reader, but before I do so I'd like for everyone to know the winning copy will be paid for so the charity will receive the full donation. Thanks so much for having me here, and I hope you'll consider lending your support to this wonderful cause.
About the author: Sarah lives a charmed life as the mother of six incredible homeschooled children, all of whom are completely adorable when they're asleep. Her husband of many years (long, long years, he calls them) is the kind of guy who could teach those heroes from the books a thing or two about romance, not that he'd readily admit it. Completely supportive of her love for writing fiction, he's generously offered to help with any necessary research for "the good parts." She's never had to ask twice.
HAWTHORNE | Sarah Ballance | mystery, romance | BUY LINK | BLOG
After a terrifying encounter with the unexplained, it took ten years and the news of her grandmother’s passing for Emma Grace Hawthorne to return to her childhood home.   She sought peace in saying a proper goodbye, but what she found was an old love, a sordid family history, and a wrong only she could right.
Living in the shadow of Hawthorne Manor, Noah Garrett never forgot about Emma Grace.  In a house full of secrets, his search for missing documents revealed a truth that could cost him everything.  What he found gave Emma the freedom to walk away from the mansion, her heart free and clear, but at what price to Noah?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Let the Halloween Gothicked Blog Contests/Giveaways Begin!

The first giveaway starts tomorrow, 9/23, and these giveaways will run through 10/31 in celebration of autumn and Halloween. It's a Gothic and Gothicked time of year! Our first giveaway will be for a copy of Tammie Gibbs' gothic romance novel, Island of Secrets. It's been a bestseller in Romance>Gothic and Time Travel on Amazon US and UK for some time. It's an e-book, and I'll send it to you if you win!

Here's the rules, you can either follow the Gothicked Blog Facebook page (if you haven't already) OR you can comment here about why you like gothic romance/Southern Gothic and/or time travel genres by 8am, 9/26. That's it! Once you do, you'll be entered in a random number drawing, and one winner will be announced on 9/26. We'll have lots more contests, so stay tuned!

**I wanted to put a link here to Tammie's book but my Amazon widget isn't working. I'll try to do it later.

Island of Secrets by Tammie Clarke Gibbs 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Phyllis A. Whitney: The Quicksilver Pool

Hmm. This novel is compared on the cover blurb to Rebecca. I'm sure the editors thought that would make it a big seller in 1955, and maybe it was. But it's certainly no Rebecca. It's also not one of the early Whitney works that I've enjoyed, like Sea Jade.

The Quicksilver Pool reads more like a vague historical romance. The Gothic elements are missing, and by the time I got to page 59, I was already done. I read on a few more pages and gave up. The heroine and hero start out on a ferry, and secondary characters early on muddle up the narrative.

If you love novels set during or right after the Civil War, you might enjoy this one. I was hoping to, but I wouldn't call it a gothic romance at all.

Have you read it? What do you think? :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cornelia Tree: Child of the Night

I found this novel, Child of the Night, published in 1983, in a thrift store. I liked the author's name and picked it up. After searching to see if it's a pen name, I'm not sure. I found a bio about the author living in NYC and another couple books under her name, but no other gothic romances.

This one is a doozy, really unlike any I've read. Let's see if I can break it down.

Plot 2/5: Where to begin? Well, the heroine, Nora Harcourt, goes to Stonecroft, a school on the Hudson for disturbed children. The novel is set around 1900 from what I can tell since Panama and Teddy Roosevelt play a role in it. The interesting thing is that Nora is obviously dealing with autistic children and maybe children with some form of retardation. The novel has pages and pages of ramblings about Panama from one of the male love interests (Jean Jacques Fleury) and pages of ramblings about psychology. I like psychology-- a lot-- and this would have been good, but the pages and pages of backstory were way too much. The novel jumped through all kinds of points of view as well, using minor characters' voices. I was often flipping through trying to remember who the speakers were (some were servants, some workers at Stonecroft and so on and even the backstory of a love affair Norah's deceased mother had goes on for pages).

Then, the villain. Wow! He's a coke using madman who worked in Panama, but it was better than my assumption early in the novel that he was a pedophile. The way he was introduced, watching a child, it wasn't a far leap.

Atmosphere/spooky elements 2/5: The novel is low on these, too. The cover is lovely, but there's not much going on. A woman has disappeared, and there's a mystery surrounding it, but there is little menace or Gothic feel to it. Someone dies in an interesting way, so I give the author points for that. :)

Literary elements 3/5: The novel had potential. It is chock full of history and abnormal psychology, but in the end, it is all too much and impedes the flow of the story.

Romantic elements 3/5: I like the hero of the novel, but he and the heroine had very little real interaction for much of the book. I felt that I knew his and her motivations, though, and that was nice.

Rating: 2.5 stars

If you want something totally different, pick it up. Otherwise, skip it.
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