Jewel of Solana Blog Tour! January 19-27th, 2016

For Jewel of Solana‘s release on 1/22/16, come join me on the BLOG TOUR! Stop by and read the posts and enter contests!

perf5.000x8.000.indd

1/19 – Sunshine Reads Blog: https://sunshinereadsfl.wordpress.com/

1/20 – Reading Keeps Me Sane blog: http://readingkeepmesane.blogspot.com/

1/21 – Shey’s Book Cave: https://www.facebook.com/sheysbookcave/timeline

1/22 – Y&R Blog – Behind the Cover: http://www.yandrpr.com/#!blog/c3s

1/23 – Venture Galleries – http://venturegalleries.com/

1/24 – My Life One Story At A Time: http://mylifeonestoryatatime.com/

1/25 – Nice Ladies, Naughty Books: http://niceladiesnaughtybooks.com/

1/26 – My Girlfriends Couch: http://mygirlfriendscouchfb.blogspot.com/

1/27 – Slick Reads: http://www.guiltypleasuresbookreviews.com/

2015: A Look Back (Happy New Year!)

2015ReflectionWow. Just wow.

Writing-wise, 2015 was a pretty stellar year. I sold the sequel in the Royals of Solana trilogy, went to my first RT Convention and met some incredible authors/friends, attended six book signings, finished half of the 3rd novel in Royals of Solana trilogy, wrote a new short story in its entirety (with ideas for 2 more in the series), and plotted a brand new Young Adult novel. For extra kicks, I finished the first 3 chapters of it, and invested in my public relations and marketing brand with a kick-a** PR company (Y&R PR).

2016 is lined up to be just as big, if not bigger! I’m so excited, and I can’t wait to NewYear Clockstart on those lofty goals!

In the personal side of my life, intense highs balanced some vicious lows.

First and foremost, my husband and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary! I’m so blessed to have this man as my companion in life. He took me to the Bahamas, where we spent four incredible days scuba diving! Several wreck dives, huge schools of fish, even a shark sighting! Water is a major place of peace for me, and allowed me to recharge with the one I love. Boy did we both need it! (And a huge thank you to my parents, who watched our two angels, despite everyone getting sick while we were gone!)

We also moved into a new house, an seven-year-long savings effort that we finally achieved!

Our seven-year-old started first grade in a new school, and those changes don’t mesh well for someone with Autism Spectrum disorder. Adjusting and acclimating to new surroundings, teachers, and friends was a tremendous challenge for him, and many days were extremely rough. Combine with major hassles with health insurance, including a still ongoing legal fight, my stress was at an all time high in 2015.

Despite all these, there are still so many things for which I am thankful. Our youngest had his cranial helmet removed and learned to walk (actually, went straight to running!) He started part-time daycare and made new friends. A billion more things with my hubby, family, and friends, and all their tremendous support that I cannot thank enough!

2016 is going to have some significant challenges as well. Goes with the territory, but I’m well prepared.

2016 Goals:Remember WhereYouve Been

Continue “Go With the Flow

New mantra: “When you start doubting yourself, remember how far you’ve
come.”

No more soda 🙂 (already 2 days into that one!)

I wish everyone a peaceful and happy New Year. Here’s to a phenomenal 2016!NewYearChampagne

Holiday Gift Guide for the Writers You Know

Writers tend to be like black sheep. Everyone knows a writer: in the family, a GiftBulbsfriend, a quirky coworker…we’re everywhere. With the holidays around the corner, here’s a simple guide of various gifts that writers would greatly appreciate, including a few items to avoid. 🙂

~Reviews! – Top of the list, are reviews on their novels on whatever medium you use. Amazon, GoodReads, B&N Nook. If you loved a novel, write a review and let others know! Can’t tell you how much this one is appreciated, more than any other ‘gift!’

~Printer paper – Reams of it. Because most writers go through them like water. Or wine. Or chocolate.

~Ink – See paper.

~Coffee, or Starbucks gift cards – Most writers could probably use this best in anCoffeeInject IV, but unless you’re a doctor and can write a prescription for the needles, best stick with the gift cards or beans.

~Pens – Something cool, unique, different.

~Coffee mugs – Just like pens. Be unique (and something that is dishwasher safe!)

~Books – Duh! Bonus points for knowing their favorite genre. But s safe bet would be a gift card to their favorite bookstore.

~Comfy Clothes – Bonus points for writing related shirts/sweaters, such as “I’m WriterShirtthe PsycHOTic Writer Everyone Warned You About,” or “Grammar Snob,” or “Don’t Piss Me Off, Or I’ll Kill You In My Novel.”

~Subscription to Writer’s Digest or Writer’s Journal – precious jewels in the mailbox, that many budget-conscious writers are forced to consider luxuries.

~Massage or Spa Day gift card – This forces us out of the house to relax our writing muscles.

Don’t Bother With These:

X Thesaurus – Every writer already has one, and every good writer knows not to use it.

X Digital Voice Recorder – Every phone has something already on it that works. My phone came with 3 different apps.

X Journals – Unless specifically requested, stay away from these! Every writer has a billion of these shoved somewhere in drawers. Plus, it’s a cliché. Writers are supposed to hate clichés.

Hopefully, this list gives you some ideas and starts you off in the right direction. Have a fantastic holiday! And Merry Christmas!

*This post originally appeared on Smart Girls Read Romance blog on 12/10/15.

Favorite Fall Treat – Buckeyes!

I used to live in Ohio in elementary school, and my mother would always make Buckeyes around Halloween (chocolate covered peanut butter rolls). I’d help roll the dough/batter into little balls and dunk them in the chocolate. My favorite October/November treat! Almost better than Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, but with extra love.

Here’s the recipe (enjoy!):Buckeyes

Ingredients (makes 30 buckeyes):

1 1/2 cups peanut butter (I use Jiff), 1 cup softened butter, 6 cups confectioner’s sugar, 4 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I like milk chocolate), 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, wax paper roll, 30 toothpicks (minimum)

Prep: 15 minutes, Bake: 5min, Ready in 50min

In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and sugar. The dough will look dry. Roll into 1in balls and place on wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Press a toothpick into the middle of each ball (to be used later for dipping), and chill in the freezer until firm (about 30min). Melt chocolate chips in double boiler or in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir chocolate frequently until smooth (do not leave unattended). Dip cold peanut butter balls in chocolate holding onto the toothpick. Leave a small portion of the peanut butter showing at the top to make them look like buckeyes. Put back on the cookie sheet and refrigerate until serving.

September 11th Memorial- 14 Years Later, I Still Remember

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 6.32.37 PM“Though the road has bends and turns, and my spirit suffers,

Humans fail, systems fail, shadows fall.

But the ruts run deep, cut by the blood of faces above,

And voices now silent…

But the message loud is heard: “Homeland, homeland.

Renew your youth, restore your soul!”

Homeland, the country that I love, hold out your arms to me.

I strive for you, and give to you the best I hope to be.Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 6.29.32 PM

May your wisdom be your armour, your compassion be your sword;

May your strength be forged with mercy, your courage lives restore.

Homeland, the country that I love, forever reign supreme;

And when time stands still, my homeland, may heaven hold your dream.”

– Z. Randall Stroope, Homeland

On 9/11, I was in my first semester of college. I was a member of the Women’s Choir at ASU. Right before Thanksgiving break, our concert included this song, in memory of the terrorist attack that day, and all the lives lost. Someone presented a slideshow over our heads as we sang these words. A slideshow of the memories of that day. The audience was crying through the whole song. I didn’t make it through the second chorus without plenty of tears. Every time I hear this song, even today, I tear up.

I will always remember. After everything, I still give to you everything I hope to be.

God Bless America

Prince of Solana 5-Star Review from InD’Tale Magazine

InD'Tale Magazine

InD’Tale Magazine

Totally on cloud nine right now!

InD’Tale Magazine, a reputable and well known review magazine for romance novels, gave PRINCE OF SOLANA a 5-star review!

 

Commence Happy-Dance!

WhoseLineDanceNow

Check out the actual review here

Not only did it receive such a glorious review, they also gave it the coveted Crowned Heart Award for Excellence!

I cannot thank them enough! I’m so humbled and thrilled!

What are you waiting for? Pick up your copy of PRINCE OF SOLANA today!

Kindle click here

Paperback click here

Nook click here

Be sure to check out InD’Tale’s website for other reviews from awesome novels!

YouLoveMeTheMask

Playlist for Prince of Solana – Enjoy!

I finally got around to finishing the playlist for Prince of Solana.

perf5.000x8.000.indd

These are a list of songs that I either listened to while writing the scene, or captures the tone I tried to convey.

I hope you enjoy!!

Spotify playlist link here, or individual songs listed below.

Chapter 1 –  On The Long Way Down by Robert Delong

Chapter 2 – Vide Cor Meum by Patrick Cassidy

Chapter 3 – RedHands by REVO (Walk Off the Earth)

Chapter 4 – Who You Love by Katy Perry & John Mayer

Chapter 6 – Howl by Florence & The Machine

Chapter 7 – My Fault by Imagine Dragons

Chapter 8 – Sweet Disposition by Temper Trap

Chapter 13 – I’m Sending You Away (Oblivion Soundtrack)

Chapter 16 – One Last Night by Vaults

Chapter 19 –Undimmed by Time, Unbound by Death (Oblivion Soundtrack)

Chapter 20 –Demons by Imagine Dragons

Chapter 21 –Insatiable by Darren Hayes

Chapter 22 –When A Heart Breaks by Ben Rector

Chapter 24 – Fearful Odds (Oblivion Soundtrack)

Chapter 25 –New Mexico by Edward Shearmur

Chapter 26 –Iridescent by Linkin Park

Chapter 27 –Raven Rock (Oblivion Soundtrack)

Chapter 28 – Cut by Plumb

Chapter 30 – Sail by AwolNation

Chapter 31 –Secret by Ocean Lab

Chapter 32 –Waking Up (Oblivion Soundtrack)

Chapter 33 – You Can’t Save Her (Oblivion Soundtrack)

Chapter 34 –Heart of Courage by Two Steps From Hell

Chapter 35 – Warriors by Imagine Dragons

Chapter 37 –Gravity by Sara Bareilles

Chapter 38 – Kissing by Bliss

The Best Villains Make Me Cry

*This post originally appeared on the Smart Girls Read Romance Blog on June 10th, 2015.*

Everyone knows the iconic villains, the anti-heroes everyone knows (listed randomly, in no order of preference):

Jack Nicholson’s Joker, Darth Vader, the Wicked Witch of the West, Lord Voldemort, Freddy Kruger, Hannibal Lecter, Jack Torrance from The Shining.

I’ve always been intrigued by the villains that were especially creepy and twisted because of a horrible backstory or other circumstance, where you can understand why they’ve become villains. The kind of characters where you almost root for them to win, or at the very least feel sad when they lose (or die). The ones that stick with you, and you can’t forget them even if you wanted to. That’s what I’m truly excited for whenever I pick up a book or sit down to a movie. The right villain.

One of the best examples of this is Loki from Thor/Avengers, played by Tom Hiddleston.

Loki The character is extremely complex, conflicted, and above all: twisted. He has such a sad backstory, his mind has been jaded over time and he’s viciously gifted. Each time he has ‘died,’ it literally pulls on my heart to see him perish. I cry every time he suffers.

Another example is Mr. Silva from James Bond Skyfall, played by Javier SilvaBardem.

The man was so emotionally and physically tortured, I could understand why he’d become so evil. To be honest, I think anyone under his circumstances could have easily turned to ‘the dark side’ like him. He was so creepy, and elegant terrifying until he removed his facial implant. Then there was nothing elegant about him. At the very end, you could see the torture bubble to the surface and play out on his face and in his actions with M (Judy Dench). His performance has stuck with me ever since the first time I saw it.

A final example is King Commodus from Gladiator, played by Joaquin Phoenix.

CommodusAll he wanted was his father’s approval, acceptance, and love. And boy, does he fail on so many levels. That failure morphs into a homicidal jealousy towards Maximus (Russell Crow), patricide, and a sickening attraction to his sister. Not to mention power-hungry, and a thirst for blood. By the end of the story, he’s made it so easy to hate this villain, and so easy for me to watch it over and over again. He’s just that evil.

There are so many other villains that fit this description. That have stayed with me over the years. But I want to hear from you.

Who are some of your favorite villains, and why?

New Awesome Book: ROGUE’S CALL by CA Szarek

For those of you who are interested in Fantasy Romance, a new one hit the shelves this week that you absolutely MUST read!Rogue'sCall

Book 3 in the King’s Riders Series

ROGUE’S CALL

She’s on the run, but doesn’t know it…

Raised in the security of the king’s castle, Lady Elissa Durroc remembers nothing of the death of her family or how she survived it. As an elemental mage with control over all four elements, her powers are rare. And coveted by dark magic. None darker than the mage who killed her parents.

When the king learns the mage knows Elissa is alive, he orders her to Greenwald under the guise of choosing a husband. Her protection falls to Sir Alasdair Kearney, a knight whose prowess on the battlefield is rivaled only by his appetite for women.

Alasdair’s not sure what to make of being a glorified nursemaid, despite Elissa’s beauty and intriguing magic. The rogue has rules. Rules that don’t involve being tempted by his noble charge.

Elissa is drawn to the knight, even though he’s not on her list of suitors. Can she guard her heart and her magic? And when the dark mage comes after her, will it be too late to matter?

I promise, you do not have to read these books in order, to understand everything. CA Szarek writes each of them as a standalone, and they are all fabulous!

Chrissy-140SMCA Szarek is a brilliant romance author, a bestselling, award-winning one! She writes romantic suspense and epic fantasy romance. If it’s a good story, she’ll write it, no matter what genre it seems to fit. She’s a hopeless romantic at heart, and always will be: Risking it all for Happily Ever After!

She’s originally from Ohio, but moved to Texas as soon as she could. She’s happily married and has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. When not writing, she works with kids.

King's Riders

If you care to follow CA Szarek on Facebook or Twitter, or find more of her fantastic books, (including her steamy and riveting romantic suspense series Crossing Forces) check them out here:

www.facebook.com/caszarek

https://twitter.com/caszarek (@caszarek)

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5815085.C_A_Szarek

Website: www.caszarek.com

Blog: http://caszarekwriter.blogspot.com/

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/C.A.-Szarek/e/B00BJY74BY/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1