Archive for the ‘Stuff to Read’ Category


March Mayhem continues! Don’t forget to head over to Joanne Renaud’s blog to sign up to win a bunch of cool freebies: books, art, and more–just click the banner!

The awesome Katherine Tomlinson interviewed me about all kinds of stuff and whatnot over at her blog, Kattomic Energy. Here’s a snip that will probably get grammar nerds worldwide up in arms:

AP or Chicago Manual of Style?

AP ALL THE WAY. And yes, I deplore the Oxford comma (but I’ll still use it if it’s truly, absolutely and entirely necessary)!

Head over to the link to get the full scoop, and check out the rest of Katherine’s blog while you’re there.

And seriously, guys. The Oxford comma? It’s useful sometimes, sure, but how often is it actually necessary?



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sleepyhollowHello, lovely and faithful reader(s)! My handsome and talented husband, Mr Scott J Laurange, has a new short story out in the Legends of Sleepy Hollow anthology, available now on Amazon.

Here’s the description:

The Headless Horseman is not alone. The village of Sleepy Hollow has long been home to ghosts, ghouls, and supernatural tales which defy description. Legends of Sleepy Hollow presents eleven original tales of terror and mystery from that enchanted village made famous by Washington Irving nearly 200 years ago.

Mr Laurange hails from that region (indeed, his hometown has a pretty strong claim to being the Sleepy Hollow), and has infused his story, “The Devil’s Spindle,” with all the creepy atmosphere one could wish from a tale set in the misty hills of upstate New York. (I’m a High Plains gal myself, and I just can’t get behind the idea of all those trees. *shudder*) So go have a look-see!

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Captain Zeal by Joanne Renaud

Captain Zeal looks so stern because he wants you to download his book!

Merry Christmas, to all you lovely people out there–however few or many!  What is your favorite part of the holiday?  For me–well, I have a lot of favorite parts.  I love the traditional Christmas hymns, like “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming,” and I’ve even gotten a little bit fond of “In the Bleak Midwinter.”  I love Midnight Mass, the scent of the incense and the beautiful vestments of the priest, the orderly dance at the altar.  I love the stockings hung by the chimney with care–and this year I even made sure that everyone’s generic storebought stocking was properly labelled, so that Saint Nicholas will not get confused about whose is whose.  And of course, I love giving presents!  (I love wrapping them too, in my ham-handed way.)

In that spirit, I give to you, my reader(s) a gift!  If you haven’t already got your copy of The Voyage to Ruin, you can visit its Smashwords page right now, and from today until Epiphany, January 6, use the coupon code LS48K at checkout to get it for free.

Here’s wishing you a very merry Christmas indeed!


P.S. And while we’re on the subject of free books, the A Question of Time giveaway is still open.  So until midnight 12/28 (that is, the midnight that 12/28 begins, not the next day), go and comment on the original post if you’d like to win a copy of one of my favorite time travel romance stories!

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Today, I’d like to introduce to you, my reader(s?), one of my favorite stories, a go-to comfort read when I’m feeling down and need an injection of happiness: Joanne Renaud’s time-travel romance novella, A Question of Time, available from Champagne Books. (Full disclosure: Joanne is a friend of mine, and I had the honor of reading the pre-published version of this story. I just re-read it, and that’s why I’m finally doing an honest-to-goodness review.)

AQOT_coverThe story follows Celia Cavalotti, a science fiction author in 2010 New York City, who is still struggling with the grief occasioned by the sudden death of her favorite English teacher, Alan Forrest, back in 1989. Mr Forrest, even before his death, had a huge impact on Celia’s life: encouraging her in her writing endeavors, giving her books to read, and helping her cope with her parents’ messy divorce. She has even taken his last name for her nom de plume, and publishes under the name C.L. Forrest. One day, fighting writer’s block and sorrow, she decides to take a trip back to her hometown in Maryland. Her car skids on the wet road–and she finds herself standing outside the White Plains library, in 1989. Here she meets Mr Forrest again, and as an adult she can see how handsome he is. However, she soon comes to realize that this is not only 1989, it is the very day before his fatal car crash. How Celia chooses to act, and the outcome of her choices, makes up the rest of the action of the story.

Now, I am not a huge reader of romances in general, or at least modern romances, which seem to me flat, dull and uninteresting, and usually badly written to boot. (I don’t have a problem with romantic themes in the stories I enjoy; Thor is one of my all-time favorite movies, and it has a strong romantic element. After all, romance, love, is an important part of life, and it would be dumb to leave that out of our stories.) However, I think Joanne has achieved something marvelous with A Question of Time, keeping a strong element of romance while making the story about more than merely “will these two crazy kids make it work?” The story’s theme is stated in the tagline, a quotation from Dan Simmons’s Hyperion: love [is] as hardwired into the structure of the universe as gravity and matter. Love, in this story, is stronger than grief, and love undoes the sorrows of the past, even unto the rewriting of history.

It’s also a lot of fun. Celia and Alan are excellent, well-drawn, appealing characters with great romantic and intellectual chemistry; their conversations about science fiction and their favorite books are just as enjoyable as their flirtation. (And if you were at all into SF in the 80’s, the author names they drop will be instantly familiar.) Even the minor characters, like Celia’s parents, or her 1989 classmates, are painted with subtlety and enough detail to make them come alive. (I particularly enjoyed Kevin, the kid with the nautical obsession. Just can’t put my finger on what made him so appealing to me!)

AQOT_joanne-artThe 80’s period detail is always spot-on–you don’t really think about the 1980’s as being the distant past or all that different from today (or at least I don’t), but it was thirty years ago. Joanne has an eye for the little details that make that time come alive again, from Alan’s enormous glasses and feathered hair, the blue eye shadow at the drugstore and the totally hip fashions of Alan’s trendiest students, even to the types of cars in the parking lot. This vivid attention to detail makes the setting come alive; I felt like I was standing outside the White Plains library with Celia, and I could practically smell the baking asphalt.

The story moves along at a good clip, effortlessly pulling one along through an interesting and engaging plot. It is one of those “I’ll just read a few more pages” books, unputdownable until you get to the end. It doesn’t hurt that the characters are so appealing (really, is there anything more important in a story than appealing characters?); they are like real people, and people whose company and conversation I enjoy.

And then there’s the ending. I think my reader(s?) will probably agree that a book can be almost perfect, but if the ending isn’t right, the whole frail illusion collapses into moonbeams and motes of dust. Fear not, however, for A Question of Time‘s ending is perfect. This is a spoiler-free review, so I will only tell you that Celia makes the right and necessary choice for Alan, for herself, and for that Love which underpins the fabric of reality, and because of her courage, she becomes not merely an ordinary woman but a hero. Pretty epic for a romance, huh?

So basically (and you might have already gathered this from the rest of the review) I love everything about this book. The characters are wonderful, the development of their romantic relationship (and their friendship!) is well drawn and believable, and the story, though not action-packed, has enough going on to always be interesting. The writing is good and often funny, and all of these elements would have been enough to form an enjoyable entertainment. But the additional theme of love–not only the sparkly-feelings romantic love of most romance novels, but the deeper, grander, more marvelous Love that truly is hardwired into the structure of the universe–elevates this story above its genre into something beautiful and true and deeply satisfying to the soul.


If A Question of Time sounds pretty good to you, stay tuned! I’ll be hosting a giveaway here in the next couple of days: author Joanne Renaud will be giving one lucky winner a free e-copy of her story (in the format of your choice), and a $10 Amazon gift card.  Can’t wait?  A Question of Time is available at Champagne Books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords,  Kobo, and All Romance Ebooks. Stephanie Draven, award-winning author of DARK SINS & DESERT SANDS, calls it “a clever love letter to the 1980s brimming with fun cultural references that warmed my geek girl heart.

You can also find A Question of Time on Goodreads.

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Hi-ho, everybody!  Just a quick reminder, or announcement, that my short story “The Blue Dress” is available for free on smashwords in the format of your choice.  This story first appeared in Dark Valentine Magazine, a fabulously cool but short-lived e-zine, in 2010.  Here’s a sample:

bluedress-coverBeside the fireplace of a secure little cabin, deep in the mountains, two people huddled together, wrapped in blankets of fur and wool. Outside, the storms of winter howled, blizzard winds gnawing at the rafters, gnashing their icy teeth in fury and frustration, for the tiny house was so well-constructed that not even a single snowflake could find its way inside. A happy chance had led the pair to this shelter just as the first of the autumn storms struck, and though it was certainly a cozy place for a young couple to spend a day or two, it was perhaps a bit confined for an extended honeymoon.

No sounds broke the silence but the low fire’s crackle and the hissing of wind and snow outside. The lovers crept closer together, taking comfort from the warmth of each other’s embrace.

“We’ll need more firewood soon,” said the young man at length. “And the food’s almost gone as well.”

“Oh, Charles,” said the young woman, gazing up into his face, “what should we do? We can’t go outside in this.”

He tightened his arms around her. “We may not have a choice.” The words did nothing to ease the worry from her face, and he said, “Don’t fret, sweetheart. We won’t take any unnecessary risks.”

She snuggled in close against him, her cheek against his breast. “Let’s not talk about such things right now,” she said. “Let’s not think about them until we have to.”

He knew, of course, that failing to think about their many problems would fail to solve them too–but he also knew that his darling was cold and weary and frightened, and if he could alleviate at least one of those sufferings, it was his duty (and his pleasure) as a husband to do so.

“Very well, love,” he said, stroking her dark hair, “we’ll not think about them until we have to.”

Let us leave them now to enjoy their private moment together; such things should not be spied upon, not even by such inquisitive folk as you and I. Perhaps, while they take comfort in each other’s arms and forget for a while the deadly storm that ravens just beyond their cabin walls, you would be interested to learn how two such innocents as these found themselves cold and hungry and alone in the middle of a mountain winter?

It’s kind of a romance, with some spooky elements, bargain basement Hawthorne maybe.  Head over to smashwords to get the rest!

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