Melange Books 2015 Giveaway Extravaganza!

black                                                                                                                                                              Love to read? I know! Me too, so have some fun—visit Melange Books to enter this fantastic giveaway! Check it out, because ebooks, ARC’s, and autographed print books are up for grabs, plus one lucky winner receive a brand new Kindle Fire HD6 AND a $25 Amazon Gift Card to stock it full of books! Sounds awesome, right?

Please check out my books The Twelfth Paladin (supernatural/thriller) and Guardian 2632 (science fiction/adventure). Romance, murder/mystery, and fantasy/adventure themed books are there and accounted for as well. Take your time while scrolling to find the books that are perfect for you!

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kragan

 

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To enter, go HERE: http://melange-books.com/2015NYGiveaway.html
Keep in mind: A LOT of giveaways will load on that link above. Please let the page fully load everything before entering. Click the link, go check your Facebook or Twitter, then check back!

HeartExile

And for the blog comments entries, visit, and then leave a post here! http://www.melange-books.com/blog/new-years-giveaway-extravaganza/

GRAND PRIZE

One (1) Grand Prize Winner will receive a Kindle Fire HD6 and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

Two (2) second place winners will each receive a $20 Amazon Gift Card.

SecondBest

 

 

1CovertExposureHappy New Year!

Thanks for visiting the Noracast.

 

 

ForgettingFallenwood

fence 3Quite a while ago, before my brain was frostbitten, the poem below was published for a holiday issue of Soul Engravings.

Recently, I came across it and had to smile because it reminded me of how this blasted winter storm in Michigan, with its unforgiving icy prisons and below zero temps has affected the attitudes of many people around me.

***

Frozen Decadence

Usually, I can force
all who have desires to hastily drink up
and drown in a spiral of never-ending wants.
I can lick souls to death and catch hope on fire;
it’s almost too easy, but someone has to do it.
Most days, the game of manipulation brings
forth sparkling innocence, which I shred to pieces
with only a glare of sugary lust.
I can blind those who would otherwise give
and I can deafen those who habitually listen.

But, alas…when the autumn air chills
and snowflakes fall upon my misery,from aaron ice2
I seek refuge for a smidgen of time and freeze.
Strange red and green balls of light
drape over my power and weaken me.
Silver and gold tinsel, surely infused with optimism,
strengthens my everyday victims; they do not feel me.
Quite foreign to the likes of me, hope rules without fear.
I am left abandoned in an abyss of frigid solitude
where I fester until ‘tis the season is over.

True, in the poem hope rules, but heavens! Has anyone noticed the winter blues…more like blustery grays, have saturated optimism and replaced it with negativity dipped into chilly dispositions? A friend of mine got her little car stuck in a huge snow drift and since no one stopped to help her, and her cell phone refused to work, she walked about twenty-five frigid minutes back to her home. Even with all of her winter attire, she said it took hours for her body to warm up.

ryan outside2Now, almost the same thing happened to my daughter, although she had the good fortune of a neighbor with an awesome truck to assist. So, yes, not all is lost! I like to think this visit from Jack Frost will not completely destroy hopes and wishes for 2014.

Many stories swirl around in my head most of the time, yet I’ve never introduced “weather” into the storyline as a driving force. Sure, weather conditions are in my stories, and a demonic storm does attack Jake Cottrell in The Twelfth Paladin much to his dismay. This latest bout with Jack, with his mind numbing temps, skin slicing wind, and so much snow cars disappear into drifts has inspired me to use weather much differently. Too cold, too dark, day after day and then maybe into months…what might happen to people not used to it, like me? I hate being cold! I sip on either hot chocolate or hot tea all day and night. Just the warmth of it helps, you know?

If your imagination is held captive by Jack, don’t let him triumph! Consider how the weather might enrich a story or poem you are working on.

• Frosty temps with snow, ice, high winds, loss of electric, and gasoline shortages lead to desperation settling in. How will your characters react? Can they hunt for food? Did they plan for a disaster, or were they caught off-guard?
• It’s so cold your characters no longer feel their limbs. Starving, who will survive? Who stands out as the leader, and who falls well below everyone’s expectations? Are any of the characters willing to sacrifice big time for others?
• Possibly, a character once believed to be mundane, weak, or simply irresponsible is the one who has the smarts to rise to the occasion and think his/her way to beat Jack at his own game. Or, turn this around. The supposed genius of the group proves to be unable to function once fighting for basic needs comes to play.

Have the harsh winter conditions changed your attitude? If so, what prevents your spirit front2from ice overload? Have you considered using the weather as a character in your work? Feel free to share!

Off I go! It’s tea time.
Thanks for visiting the Noracast.

*Also a big thanks to Aaron and Ryan for the lovely pics!

Charlie2Inspiration has bitten you hard! You have a grand idea for a novel…maybe it involves a guy, let’s name him Charlie McAllister. Charlie finds himself waking up in the middle of a desert with no idea where he is, or how he got there, but he’s quick to notice his entire left arm and shoulder are throbbing in pain from a freshly inked tattoo—elaborately applied and looking like a fierce dragon. Some of the scales of the dragon have names written in an ancient language on them.

 

Yikes! Who is this guy? What has he done? Is he the good guy or the bad guy?

If, at this point, you feel a bit stuck, simply run a background check on Charlie to evaluate his potential to be the protagonist or antagonist in your novel. Yes, I do realize a background check is usually used by employers before hiring someone to discover facts about his/her employment references, character, gaps in employment history, identity and address verification, credit history, and probably one of the most important areas of a background check…the criminal history report. Also of interest might be a person’s driving record, litigation record, citizenship, and military history.

Character building can be a tricky thing. If handled as though Charlie is a real person, then the pieces will fall together quite easily. Pretend you are about to hire Charlie for a position in your company, called Prime, which writes computer code…secret code, for the US military. No way would he be hired on the spot.

So, Charlie got a background check that is revealing. Hum…maybe he knows it will be and doesn’t care for some reason because this is all part of his plan. Would you hire him?

Here’s some of the information CEO of Prime, Ethan Cromwell, has to ponder about…

BC1

*The STATE BY STATE criminal background check turned up a criminal history in four states: Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Offenses included Driving Under the Influence-DUI’s 3X, Aggravated Assault 2X, Driving With Suspended or Revoked License, and Disorderly Conduct.

*Educational background checked out with a Graduate Degree in Computer Science earned from Michigan State University in 1990. Military service in Marines from 1993-2005 ended with a dishonorable discharge, no other details provided.

As you can see Charlie’s life has been anything but ordinary, especially since the background check also brought to light he was buried in debt for over six years with four credit cards, a car loan, and a hefty mortgage. Then within a four month period, that debt was paid in full. Where did he get the money to pay off everything?

BC3A

Looking at the details about Charlie make shaping him into a memorable character much easier now because motivation for some of his actions can be instigated from his background. See! He is shaping up.

BC3C

  • He’s a loner, and does not play well with others.
  • Charlie is not an honest person.
  • Frequently, he was found where he should not have been at work…sneaky.
  • He is a dangerous man with a criminal past.
  • Is it possible he has a grudge against Prime somehow connected to his military service? Does he want to steal code to sell it?
  • According to this report, he was “Kind of a scary guy.”

Continue adding details to Charlie’s background check until he becomes so real you’ll feel like you could pick him out in a crowd. Use neighbor references, other social references, psychological workups found on him, anything to give this guy depth. It may be possible he has been undercover for years and is actually the good guy!

How do you make your characters interesting? Please feel free to share!

Good luck building strong characters, and thanks for visiting the Noracast.

‘Tis the Season to Read Giveaway

Smile! You’re visiting the Noracast on a good day, no—a great day. Why?

As luck would have it, today begins the ‘Tis the Season to Read Giveaway! Curling up on a frigid winter night in your favorite, old chair with hot tea and a treat or two by your side is only made better with the addition of a fabulous book. For me, this means the book is usually a paranormal adventure romance, a fantasy complete with breathtaking locations, or maybe a science fiction journey filled with enough horrific moments to keep the zzz’s away. Yes! I’d easily trade in sleep  for memorable moments conjured up by my imagination that were inspired by authors who know how to spark curiosity and the promise of a grand adventure if I keep turning the pages.

Prizes? One winner will receive my supernatural/thriller “The Twelfth Paladin,” plus a $25.00 dollar Amazon or Book Depository gift card to spread the joy of reading just a bit during the holiday season. The book is available in print, e-book, or Kindle. This is an international giveaway. Random.org will choose the winner from the total number of entries.

The Twelfth Paladin

In “The Twelfth Paladin,” good against evil battles as an angel, demons, and a temptress extraordinaire, named Rachel Darnell, vie for the soul of Jake Cottrell. Jake foolishly dares Hell to burn him. Hell agrees.

Scarred with angelfire by a rebellious angel, named Micah, Jake Cottrell is sanctioned to become the twelfth paladin in Micah’s supernatural unit of slayers. However, regret abounds as Micah is banished and ordered to protect what he now despises…a human he believes is unworthy of such an honor. Never fear, Jake is a seeker of mischief who soars on a blistering blacktop to escape the wrath of Hell while he transforms into the twelfth paladin.

How to ENTER? It’s easy! In “The Twelfth Paladin,” Jake Cottrell has a difficult time learning to count his blessings, like his family and friends…until they are placed in jeopardy because of his actions. This is the time of year many of us take pause to be extra thankful for our loved ones and for the opportunities we have to be productive. To enter: remind us all of something or someone to be thankful for. ‘Tis the season to celebrate and share our resources and time! This giveaway ENDS on December 7, 2012, so the gift card can be used in time for Christmas.

 Happy holidays, and thanks for visiting the Noracast!

Nora Weston

Twitter: almostsanelady

Website

Facebook

 

THANKS to everyone who entered. The 8th comment, SPAV, is the Winner…congrats!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas winner

 

Imagine Dragons

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Reality bites. It kills the highly sought-after sense of contentment we desire and strive for as monthly bills arrive, gas prices soar at the pump, and air-conditioning bills shock us making sure to deposit a feeling of dread within home sweet home. Stress from family, friends, and work-related issues can all have a way of sucking dry one of the most precious things in the world—our imagination. Whether you’re a writer, artist, musician, or a lover of books and of the many spellbinding options the arts have to offer, be mindful to feed your craving to escape reality with all things found in the realm of impossibility…your dreamscape that adds spice to life. The way I look at it, reality does bite, but I can sink my fangs right back into it while lost in new musical adventures and undertakings that explore the arts.

So, let’s go! Imagine Dragons…of the musical kind for an adventure in sound that may take you far away from the everyday, ordinary routines which smother to let you enjoy a talented band that definitely uses its imagination. Dan Reynolds, lead vocalist for this Las Vegas based indie band makes the job look easy, but from their bio, lots of hard work and a “near obsessive work ethic” went into the making of this band.

Ready for some fun? Listen to these songs from Imagine Dragons…

It’s Time: This song begins slowly…quite moody, and then it builds to sound mystical. My favorite line is “I’m never changing who I am,” and (for me) implies a person standing for what’s right, who will not give in to pressure, or the need to become what others think he/she should be. It’s time…time to live a good life. Love this song! It’s a very hypnotic, addictive song that gets “stuck” in your head, and since imagination is unique to each one of us—find out what it means to you.

Demons: Beautiful lyrics depicting the pain of inner demons, and how they affect this individual’s relationship with the one he loves is fantastic. Demons has a way of provoking the past while inciting wishes for a better future.

My Fault This song takes you into a melodic land where pondering about one’s fears and assigning blame for missing each other causes anguish.

Imagine Dragons explores the gamut of emotions that wreak havoc upon mankind, and for better or worse, cannot be ignored. Besides, who would want to ignore a dragon of any kind? They bring to mind power, and a fierce will to survive against all odds. For thousands of years, dragons have been part of our history, and the myths and legends about them still entertain and inspire us today. Animal Planet has a new film about them that may be of interest to you. It’s simply called Dragons.

Dragons in Books

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke- A dragon. A boy. A journey. Firedrake, a brave young dragon, his loyal brownie friend Sorrel and a lonely boy called Ben are united as if by destiny. Together, they embark on a magical journey to find the legendary place where silver dragons can live in peace for ever. With only a curious map and the whispered memories of an old dragon to guide them, they fly across moonlit lands and seas to reach the highest mountains in the world. Along the way, they discover extraordinary new friends in unlikely places and a courage they never knew they had. Just as well, for the greatest enemy of all is never far behind them – a heartless monster from the past who’s been waiting a very long time to destroy the last dragons on earth. (Amazon.com)

How to Train Your Dragon Book 1 (Heroic Misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III) By Cressida Cowell: Chronicles the adventures and misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III as he tries to pass the important initiation test of his Viking clan, the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans, by catching and training a dragon.

Osric’s Wand: The Wand-Maker’s Debate [Kindle Edition] By Jack D. Albrecht Jr. & Ashley Delay: While the world leaders of Archana gather, tragedy strikes, and rumors spread of war.  Osric is thrust into the chaos and must journey far to save his home.  His understanding of magic will be challenged, and each day will uncover more unanswerable questions to torment his mind.  Why was the signing attacked?  How do you read a book with no words?  What is so special about his wand?

Today, let your inhibitions go and do something…anything creative! Stress will dissipate as you marvel at the complexity of your imagination. Feel free to leave a comment or an interesting link about what you do to explore the arts.

Thanks for visiting the Noracast!

Accidental Hero/GIVEAWAY!

Danger—pain and suffering, mixed with excitement and enough adrenaline to kill an elephant is calling upon your sense of adventure. Let’s say, Jessie desperately needs your help, and if you fail to answer the calling…death will come her way. Are you ready to embrace this challenge and rush to sacrifice your life for another? Well, my all-time favorite heroes are the ones who’d do just that.

Ah, but things are never so simple. I love accidental heroes. These so-called ordinary men and women exist in their worlds doing what they are supposed to do, until a threat is unleashed that prompts a reaction from these people. Some folks reject the notion they could ever affect the outcome of a situation, others eagerly accept the new, completely risky endeavor dropped upon them.

Take a look at Jake Cottrell, the protagonist (and an accidental hero) in my latest release, The Twelfth Paladin. He’s a prime example of a person living a selfish existence, one who seeks out mischief and absolutely lives for adrenalines rushes, or as he calls them…smackdowns. Yes, Jake is a reckless character with a shady past and a family you would not desire, but he does have something special. Jake has courage and honor, yet they’ve been long ignored. After a death-defying Motocross accident, Jake is physically and mentally tested to see if he can rise above the wickedness around him and become the twelfth paladin in Micah’s (an angel) unit of supernatural warriors. He doesn’t seek out glory. No matter, it finds him anyway.

Another accidental hero I really like is Sam Deed (Vincent D’Onofrio) from the movie Happy Accidents (2000), which also stars Marisa Tomei. Sam is brave, determined, and a guy who never planned on having to endure such an adventure to find love. Although Happy Accidents is a science fiction movie, it’s actually more about the power each of us possess to change things.

From Moviefone: Is Ruby Weaver’s Mr. Right really an emissary from the year 2,470, or is he just a complete loon ball? This question is at the heart of Brad Anderson’s whimsical romantic comedy. The story opens with Ruby (Marisa Tomei) lamenting over her boyfriend Sam (Vincent D’Onofrio) to her shrink (Holland Taylor). In a series of flashbacks, the film quickly sketches Ruby as a neurotic with an unhappy track record concerning men and Sam as an oddball who is afraid of small dogs and has a barcode tattooed to his arm. But he’s nuts over Ruby, and at least initially, that is enough for her. Slowly, Sam begins to reveal his “past.” He tells her that he is from the Dubuque of the future and that he hails from a rare “anachronistic” family who believe that reproduction should occur the old-fashioned, fun way as opposed to the more popular cloning method. At first, Ruby is amused, until she realizes that he’s not kidding. After a series of arguments, he agrees to visit Ruby’s analyst, which yields unexpected results. This film premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival.

Great news—GIVEAWAY! Ends March 27, 2012

Win a copy (e-book, print, or Kindle) of The Twelfth Paladin AND the movie Happy Accidents. Simply answer this question: Are you the type of person who’d become an accidental hero? Since I spend way too much time in the laundry room and grocery shopping…I’d definitely go for it. A little adventure can entice me anytime!

Still not sure if this giveaway is for you? Here’s the latest review of The Twelfth Paladin from Michelle. Her blog is A Lil of Dis A Lil of Dat Chelle Style.

“In all of my years of reading, I can’t say I’ve ever read a book about Angels and Demons. I tend to stick more towards suspense and horror books. Therefore, I was very excited to review The Twelfth Paladin and give myself the opportunity to break out of my reading comfort zone.

We start with the main character, Jake Cottrell, who is a rebel of sorts, if you will. Abandoned by his mom at a young age, living with an angry alcoholic father, it’s no wonder Jake takes to drinking, wild women, and motorcycle racing. However, during one of his races, he becomes injured and things will never be quite the way they were before his accident.

Have you ever had the sensation that things weren’t right? That there was an unseen force working behind the curtains, responsible for strange things or events? Jake deals with these very things as he is reconnecting with a “friend”, Davis Travers, now a successful heart surgeon. Davis, by any standards isn’t a very likable person. It’s a mystery to Jake how Davis managed to become engaged to the beautiful and mysterious Angie Helms as well as the tremendous success Davis obviously enjoys.

In the meantime, as Jake is skirting dangerously along the depths of evil, Micah, an angel, who is not on God’s good side, is sent to help Jake from losing his soul to the darkness. Micah is a likable character who has lost his faith in mankind after thousands of years. He’s witnessed the decline of human kindness and goodness towards each other. He is less than thrilled to be helping Jake and does little to conceal this fact.

I found myself mentally willing Jake to stop his actions as he stepped further and further into the darkness ruled by evil. At the same time, I found myself as curious as Jake as he begins to realize Davis isn’t playing an imaginary game. I became caught up in the action as Jake finds himself being pulled in by temptations which would appear to be too delightful to resist.

Nora Weston captures her characters with a vivid imagination. As you read, you can visualize the scene exactly how she describes it. You will find yourself rooting for the good guys, holding your breath, your heart beating just bit quicker during some of the more intense scenes, and completely caught up in this book!

I can say after reading The Twelfth Paladin, Nora has a new fan. I will definitely be paying attention to when Nora has a new book in the works. Don’t just take my word. Visit Nora and let me know what you think!”

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I appreciate the review Michelle! Okay, ready for a supernatural adventure with Jake Cottrell and a science fiction mission with Sam Deed? Enter the GIVEAWAY!

Thanks for visiting the Noracast.

 

 

Color Them Gray

“It’s an art to live with pain… mix the light into gray.” Eddie Vedder

Edmond Dantès from Alexandre Dumas,’ The Count of Monte Cristo is a successful merchant sailor living in Marseille, France (in 1815) who is wrongly accused of being a Bonapartist traitor. Edmond is imprisoned for fourteen years in the Château d’If. Pain and suffering ruin his colorful outlook on life…he transforms into a protagonist determined to seek revenge upon the men who imprisoned him, and he does this, so beautifully. Once Edmond becomes the Count of Monte Cristo, anything and everything he has is used to manipulate the wickedness in his life for the sake of vengeance.

Edmond feels justified; his motives for becoming a “gray” character…one whose thoughts and actions are not entirely right or wrong, whose morals have blurred into the gray area, adds danger and excitement to Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo.

I love characters smothered in gray—who are torn between right and wrong, who ache to do what’s right, but have lost their way. In my science fiction adventure, Guardian 2632, Zane Grayson fights with his conscience about betraying the time monitoring facility he’s in charge of, called Guardian TMF, because a pastian from 1998 needs his help, or she will perish. He is forbidden to assist pastians without clearance from the Elite Guardians, yet Zane is drawn to this pastian, named Julia Emerson, like never before. His desire for Julia becomes incessant, secrets are revealed. Zane’s sense of belonging in 2632 is stolen by Julia, so he dives into the gray area where chaos rules. A murky, dark shade of gray envelopes Zane, while he plans the most important mission of his life, however, if caught…merciless Time Mercs will execute him. Yeah, Time Mercs are big, bad, and ugly.

Adding gray is good for character building! Why? Do you know anyone who is perfect? I do not, and that’s okay because the imperfections found in us all make us unique. Spicing up your characters with moral dilemmas where they will either rise to the occasion and do the right thing, or fall into an abyss of misery are ways to push a story forward. Perfect characters would always decide to do the safe and logical thing, which doesn’t make for much of a story. Oh, but when a character, like Edmond Dantès goes to the pits and back to finally see the light…ah, now there’s sweet satisfaction found in that!

Going Gray

Think about your characters. Are their personalities, desires, and goals so lovely…and absolutely dreamy that they come across as unbelievable people?

For example, Zane Grayson (protagonist in Guardian 263) is a mastermind in charge of fixing paradoxes throughout time. I even used his last name as a hint to show he’s a character splattered with gray traits. It would’ve been easy to make him a super techie with a personality similar to a robot. His looks, temperament, dialogue, and habits could’ve been the typical, calm genius who wears glasses, always has a white lab coat on, has no desire for anything other than knowledge, and his only hobby would have to be building computers. B-o-r-i-n-g!

Zane left that nonsense behind. Going gray meant this character had to…

  • Be at odds with his conscience-Zane is a good man, but flaws exist. He time surfs (looks for paradoxes throughout time in unauthorized time zones), refuses to follow Guardian TMF’s dress code for executives, is an adrenaline junkie…needs danger and risk too often, he’s stubborn to the point some would say he’s insane, has quite a temper, and Zane is willing to risk everything he has in 2632 to help a pastian (Julia Emerson) in 1998. His ancestry is a mix of Japanese and European, and he is quite sarcastic. Going gray made him more interesting!
  • Understand his definitions of right and wrong are not written on white paper with black ink-Zane comes to realize laws must be written to serve people…all people, and not be written as a means to justify helping only the history makers. The gray area is an uncomfortable one to be in, but it forces characters to do something…Zane decides to fight for change.
  • Finally make decisions about what he believes is right and wrong-Once Zane becomes aware of things that needed altered, his grayness fades a bit as he steps back toward the light. He chooses to set things right.

What characters come to mind who are painted with gray? Riddick, from The Chronicles of Riddick is one of my favorites! He has a whole lot of gray going on… If you’re an author, what have you done to your characters to make them a bit on the gray side?

Feel free to leave a comment, and thank you for visiting the Noracast!