Monday, September 24, 2012

Contests & Giveaways in the Writing World - Week of September 24th

Well...yup, you guessed it - it's Monday...again :D

So here's your list of great contests and giveaways that will help the week go by faster and a little happier!

Jennifer Estep has a guest blogger Carrie Lofty talking about the Romance of WWII. Answer a question in the comments (I love the question!) and you will be entered to win a digital copy of His Very Own Girl by Carrie Lofty

Win Kindle Fire and get some free books with Threesome Read Some Freebies from Rob on Writing. Contest ends on Oct. 2nd and the winners will be announced Oct. 3rd!

Check out the review of The Obsidian by Catherine Fisher by Pen to Paper and enter to win a print copy. The giveaway closes October 1st, so you still have time.

The Book of Paul by Richard Long is kicking off a blog tour today and Novel Publicity & Co. is giving away 2 $50 Amazon Gift cards as well as an autographed copy of The Book of Paul. Don't miss it!

This is not a giveaway but loved the concept and wanted to include it in the list:
For Animal Lovers is a collection of heartwarming short stories for kids ages 9-12. 10% of the sale price is donated to the ASPCA! And the digital book only costs $0.99.

Read Chuck Sambuchino's article on Writer Unboxed - 9 Frequently Asked Questions About Query Letters and leave a comment to be entered to win a either the 2013 Guide to Literary Agents or the 2013 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market.

*As always, please contact me for the inclusion of your contests/giveaways into the Monday Contests and Giveaways in the Writing World posts.

Have fun and good luck! 

Also, don't forget to become a follower of this blog to make sure you catch giveaways coming soon!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cover Reveal - OPAL by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I'm so excited to be a part of the Cover Reveal for Opal by  Jennifer L. Armentrout! 
Daemon is so yummy...
Without further adieu, here it is!

No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well... There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different... And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger... and they know it.

Follow this link to an ~~~ EPIC CONTEST ~~~ Announcement. You will want to bookmark this page!

USA TODAY Bestselling author, Jennifer L. Armentrout, lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing, she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell, Loki. Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She also writes adult romance under the name J. Lynn.

Find Jennifer on: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Website | Blog

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Art & History Feature - Europe Travel Diary, Part II

The sports camp by the lake in Poland
After we left Paris (Part I of the travel diary), we made our way to Poland. Hubby has been teaching karate seminars there for many years at the school of one of his close friends. Although I hail originally from Ukraine, I have never been to Poland, which neighbors it. It was actually excited by the fact that we were so "close" to Ukraine and my native city of Kiev, but unfortunately we couldn't make it there on this trip. One day...

The first three days, we spent at a beautiful "sports camp" area by a lake. It was peaceful and picturesque there, and our little chalet (see pics below) smelled of wood.

While there, we visited one of the concentration camps. It's called Sobibor. Unlike many other "extermination camps", this one was leveled by the Nazis after a successful uprising by the prisoners. Today, archaeological excavations are in full swing there. Because there are no buildings around and it looks more like a shady beautiful park, the inconsistency between the sense of peace and calm and what really was going on there in the past is extremely shocking. There's an alleyway among pine trees with stone blocks running on either sides with names of some of those who perished. There's also a memorial mound at the site of the mass graves. Someone has made a cross on the border of it with the gravel stones from the mound, and we added a Star of David to it.

Sobibor Concentration Camp - signs in many languages
Star of David we made at the the mass grave mound

When we left the camp, we stopped in Lublin on our way to Warsaw. Lublin is an old Polish city, going back to the Middle Ages. The "old city" part of Lublin is quaint and beautiful. We had a great time walking the ancient streets and squares, and eating the Polish pierogi with meat, cabbage, potatoes or berries.

*Warning: some of the events I describe here may be difficult to read so reader discretion is advised*

Then came our next stop, which was nothing less of horrific. I can honestly say it was the worst place I have ever visited. And it's called Majdanek concentration camp.

This camp still has most of its buildings intact and walking around there, I felt like evil and pain ware forever imprinted into each stone. It was also extremely creepy to see hundreds of crows gathering in the fields there - apparently a common event during the end of the summer and fall but still, the sight was chilling.
We stood inside the ditches where 30,000 Jews were executed in two days (over 79,000 people were killed there during its work). The ditches that they themselves dug out on orders from their jailers, while not knowing its purpose. We were inside the crematorium where the bodies of executed where burned and where, on occasion, other prisoners were brought to be executed in rooms where bodies were already piled up waiting for their turn in the ovens.

Re-construction of the crematorium
But probably the most outright horrific building was the "welcome" stop, where prisoners were brought to be processed when they arrived in the camp.  They were stripped naked and herded into a long room with shower heads running all along it. Not knowing what was going to come out of these showers, they were forced to stand there until freezing cold and scolding hot water was alternately poured on them. There was also a tub with a certain kind of acid that some were forced to get into for the "special cleansing".

"Shower" room were prisoners were "cleansed" with alternating freezing and scolding hot water
After the "shower", the prisoners' hair was cut and they were separated. Most women, children and elderly were then put into the "gas chambers", while those who could work were taken through to their barracks.
I was trying to hold it together, but after the "shower" room, which I couldn't get through fast enough, and standing in front of the little rooms that were gas chambers (with doors that had a little window in them so the jailers could look through to make sure everyone has succumbed to the gas), I completely broke down and my husband had to take me out of there and insist that we were done and were leaving. The horror of it all wouldn't leave me for days. (I have to say that my husband, having visited Auschwitz and knowing how impressionable about these things I am, wasn't sure I should go to visit a concentration camp. But I always wanted to and, despite how hard it is to be there, would suggest that every single person visits one at least once in their life. If you don't feel anything there, you're not alive!)

A mausoleum in which all the remains of the cremated bodies that were found around the camp are buried
There were also many accounts of the horrors written by the former prisoners that had my heart breaking and my hair standing up while I was reading them. And all I could think about what "why?", "how could this happen?", "how can humans do this to other humans?". And "this can never happen again!"

I'm not sure if any of our family lost people in concentration camps back in Ukraine, though I do know that some were executed in a place in Kiev called Babiy Yar (I will do a post about it one day). But being in the camp brought home the horror that Jewish people went through during the World War.

The rest of our trip was spent in Warsaw, which was 90% destroyed during the World War II and rebuilt. The old part of the city is also beautiful and we had a wonderful time walking around.

Here are some of the pictures from that part of our European trip this year.

The little house "chalet" we stayed in while at the sports camp in Poland
"Old city" part of Lublin
"Old city" part of Warsaw
In the "old city" part of Warsaw
"Old city" part of Warsaw
"Old city" part of Warsaw with thunderstorm clouds in the background

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

Here are the rules:

1. Post 2 sentences from the current book you're reading. You can either

a) open the book and share 2 sentences from anywhere on that page or
b) share your favorite 2-3 sentences from the book (they have to be in a row)

2. List the page #


3. List the name of the book and the author

"She pulled against Daemon but didn't make it far. "I swear to all the stars and suns, I will destroy you.." "What does it mean? Are you watching too many cartoons again?" I was so over this bitch

p. 101 (Kindle edition)

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Share your teasers in the comments or give a link to your blog if you're running a Teaser Tuesday

Monday, September 10, 2012

Contests & Giveaways in the Writing World - Week of September 10th

The air is a bit chillier and crispier today - a sure sign of the fall. It's a gorgeous day here - so Happy Monday! :)

To start off the week in the right (happy) way, here's a selection of contests and giveaways in the writing world going on now:

Entangled Teen blog is giving away books (some of them signed, like Obsidian and Onyx by by Jennifer L. Armentrout) and lots of swag! The giveaway ends October 5th.

BookTrib is giving away a new sexy romance, Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks! Hurry to enter.

Check out this awesome contest and giveaway from Fantasy Book Addict. My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century Blog Tour: Interview & Contest by Rachel Harris! Sounds so fun.

There's five more days left to enter a giveaway to win one of the signed copies of Mirror of Shadows by T. Lynne Tolles

And especially exciting, Tracey Garvis Graves is giving away not one, but two (!) Nook Color Tablets on the 3rd day of her big Giveaway. Head there right now, 12 hours are left to enter!

*As always, please contact me for the inclusion of your contests/giveaways into the Monday Contests and Giveaways in the Writing World posts.

Have fun and good luck! 

Also, don't forget to become a follower of this blog to make sure you catch giveaways coming soon!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Art & History Feature - Europe travel diary - Part I

For the next couple of weeks, instead of focusing on a particular artist or historical place/event, I thought I'd do a bit of a diary from my trip to Europe last month.

My husband was scheduled to teach karate seminars in Poland. He's been doing it for many years but haven't gone in the last few. I've never gone with him, so this year we combined our vacation with the karate event. Since I also always dreamed of going to Paris, we did four days there on the way to Poland.

Now, before I continue, you have to understand something about me - when I was growing up in Russia, I grew up on french classic literature. From Charles Perot's fairy tales read to me by my mom when I was little, to swallowing whole adventures by Alexandre Dumas Sr. (Three Musketeers, Queen Margot, Count de Monte Kristo) and poetic works (prose and poetry) of Victor Hugo when I could read on my own. From the short stories of Guy de Maupassant, which fascinated me with their details of life in Paris of the time (and adult romance, of course) to the then shocking Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. And of course, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the timeless classic that was as interesting to me as a child as it is to me as an adult, touching in its simplicity and full of life and adventure.

So, as you can see, French literature played a huge role in my childhood development. Of course, from reading these books, I got fascinated with the French history itself and I have never stopped being fascinated by it. I also remember reading biographies of Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo and being swept away by how amazing and eternally fascinating they were, and how much I wanted to be like them - a writer. After immersing myself into Hugo's poetry and re-writing it into my notebook, I even tried my own hand in writing poems. Alas, I'm definitely better at writing prose.

I also wanted to study French so I could read some of these works in the original language. Unfortunately, all I could manage, for various reason, was two semester in college plus some self-study. The dream still remains though.

And finally, I got to see Paris this summer! The places that were on my list of "must see!" were the Louvre, Versailles Palace and Gardens, Notre Dame de Paris, Champs-Elysee, Musee Rodin (one of my favorite artists/sculptors), and Basilica Saint Denis, where many of the French royalty is buried, going back to the 400s BC and all the way to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. I saw all of the above, and more. The Pantheon held an amazing surprise for me. I knew that some of the great minds of France were buried there, including Victor Hugo, Voltaire and Jean Jacques Rousseau. What I didn't know was that, right next to Victor Hugo, was the Alexandre Dumas!

In all, it was a wonderful trip and I hope to return there and see even more. I also hope that the next time I go, I can speak better French.
I came back inspired to write more and better - how can you not be inspired by this city of lights and history?

Here are a few pictures from the Paris part of our trip.
At Versailles
In front of Versailles palace with hubby
In front of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette tomb statues at Basilica Saint Denis

In front of Antoine De Saint Exupery memorial at the Pantheon
Mauseleums of Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas at the Pantheon
In front of Psyche and Cupid at the Louvre
Louvre at night
Notre Dame de Paris

Next week, in part II of the diary, our trip to Poland, including visits to two concentration camps.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Writer Wednesdsay Flash Fiction - Reflection

This is more of a small reflection than a flash fiction. Hope you enjoy.


I bent down and picked up a stone. It was a smooth, gray rock with a greenish tint, shaped and molded this way by thousands or millions of waves of the ocean. My feet sank deep into the white soft sand, warmer on top, cooler below the surface.
Looking straight out to the horizon, I let my memories carry me away. This was the beach where I first fell in love, where my youth was so fresh and naive, it almost hurts to think about it. This was where the future looked exciting and full of possibilities, limitless and wonderful.
Later, this sand absorbed some of my first tears of disappointment and regret, of crushed dreams and dimming future. And then, more tears - of happiness as I watched my children play in the pearly azure waters with the same zeal and excitement for life as I once had. And life was then full of wonder and possibilities once more.
This would be my last time coming here. I smoothed the stone with my fingers, feeling its perfection. It will have a special place in my home, among the other stones I picked up here over the years as reminders of joy and sadness that this beach had been a witness to. Goodbye, my beach. Keep witnessing other lives now, other joys and sadness. And one day, my ashes will be mixed with your buttery sand so I could forever remain here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - Angelique series

Today, instead of a real teaser, I'm going to mention the book I'm reading, as I'm reading it in Russian and can't post an actual teaser. This book is one of my favorites in the historical fiction and romance genre. It was written by a french married writer team of Anne and Serge Golon, better known in America as Sergeanne Golon. They wrote the Angelique series from the 1950s through 1970s.

Angelique is a series of novel, in which the heroine, Angelique, a girl from impoverished nobility, goes through various adventures that take her from the arms of true love and riches to the rags of Parisian poor bandits, to the splendor of Versailles and before the eyes of Sun King himself, who wants her for his mistress, and much much more.

The first time I read the books was when I was 13 (even though it's an adult themed series), and they made a big impression on me. I was surprised to pick up the books again now and find that I still loved them.

Various version of Angelique books from different countries:

Unfortunately, most of these books currently are used books but they are available out there.

I would recommend these novels to any fan of a good historical fiction and/or historical romance.

There is also a series of films that were made in 1960s, a joint production of France, Italy and Germany.

1960s series of film based on S. & A. Golon's books

Monday, September 3, 2012

Fall - season of renewed hope and commitment

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."
Albert Camus

(image courtesy of free images of

I love spring, when nature awakens and the air itself is saturated with new hope and growth. I love the summer when I feel full of life and ready for anything. And because yes, I prefer heat to cold.

But there's something so special and beautiful about fall that it makes me pause and take a look around, and at the same time also fills me with a sense of new hope and adventures. It also makes me want to jump back into work and studies with both feet and a renewed optimism - writing, fitness, art and other pursuits.

Even though, like any other sane person (grin) I never loved the idea of going back to school after the summer break, I always did feel a sense of excitement at going back to studying. Maybe what I feel now at the beginning of the fall comes from that.

So, dear readers, let's welcome this beautiful season of colors and fresh air with hope and a renewed commitment to our goals and endeavors.

And, as always, look out for new fresh content on this blog.

"No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace, as I have seen in one autumnal face."
John Donne

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