Book Review: Sinners and Saints, by Elaine Dryer

Sinners and SaintsSinners and Saints by Eileen Dreyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Digital books are wonderful. Wander into a Web site, browse through a screen or two, stumble across a title I haven’t read by an author I admire, and – presto, it’s on my ereader.

Sinners and Saints is classic Eileen Dreyer, with a plot that twists through multiple layers and secrets, and arrives breathlessly at a very satisfying ending amid a New Orleans hurricane.

This book has Eileen Dreyer’s signature on it, which is just as distinctive as Johnny Cash’s voice singing The Man in Black.  No spoilers here. For those of you who are fans of Dryer’s dark mysteries, you’ll recognize her touch in the heroine – a forensic trauma nurse; the setting, evocative and danger filled in a perfect-for-the-story stormy, darkly magical New Orleans; and a damaged hero who is darkly perfect.

Read Saints and Sinners yourself – if you like mysterious tales with memorable characters and dark twists, you’ll be glad you did!

I’m an Eileen Dreyer fan from years back. Now that I’ve finished this book, I’m about to start reading my new copy of her If Looks Could Kill. I read this shadowy, pulse-pounding Elaine Dreyer years ago, and can’t wait to revisit Dryer’s Pyrite, Missouri, and the heroine of If Looks Could Kill.

Vanessa

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THE HIT – by David Baldacci

The Hit (Will Robie #2)The Hit by David Baldacci
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a definite fan of David Baldacci’s Will Robie series. I read this book on the heels of Baldacci’s first Will Robie book. The Innocent. Both are excellent, although I connected more deeply with The Innocent, and loved its character-driven plot.

The Hit is an exciting read, and I will be watching for the third in the Will Robie series. Baldacci is a skilled craftsman when it comes to writing thrillers peopled with vibrant, believable characters. My favorites are some of his early titles, particularly Absolute Power and Absolute Power The Winner The Winner.

Vanessa

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A very enjoyable read! NO ROLE FOR A GENTLEMAN

No Role for a GentlemanNo Role for a Gentleman by Gail Whitiker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a pleasure to read!

I just finished reading friend and fellow writer Gail Whitiker’s new historical, NO ROLE FOR A GENTLEMAN. The author’s prose is beautiful and evocative, but the true beauty of her novel lies in the creation of characters with warmth, integrity, vulnerability, and a passion for life that brings them vibrantly alive.

Thank you for a warmly enjoyable visit to the past, and the companionship of Lawrence, Lady Joanna, their families, and the colorful world of Regency theatre and archeology, which is woven seamlessly and intriguingly throughout the story.

NO ROLE FOR A GENTLEMAN features characters from its predecessor, NO OCCUPATION FOR A LADY – also a very enjoyable read. No Occupation for a Lady

Vanessa

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Wool places author Hugh Howey among Science Fiction’s greatest authors!

Wool Omnibus, by Hugh Howey
I just finished reading the Wool Omnibus, and I’m floating. WOOL is everything a great Science Fiction should be – amazing, visceral, delightful story filled with powerful characters caught up in an epic search for meaning!

The birth of a great science fiction author is a very special event, and WOOL puts its author up there with the greatest Science Fiction writers – those who write (and wrote) books about real characters, searching for meaning, searching for their own truth, fighting and losing and winning and – above all – grabbing readers by the throat and carrying them on an amazing journey.

Wool goes up on my electronic bookshelf, along with a few select read-them-again-and-again-over-the-years Science Fiction novels, right between Alexai Panshin’s RITE OF PASSAGE and Robert Hienlien’s STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND.

Thank you, Hugh Howey!   (and thank you @versoe for recommending this book!)

Vanessa Grant

If You Loved Me – Kindle version free Dec 8 and 9

Cover art by AngieOCreations.com – I love this cover

I’ve always been fascinated by the power of certain settings to wield control over so much of our lives. When the universal themes of survival, love, and the dreams that drive human men and women interact with extreme environments, lives can be transformed in unexpected ways.

In IF YOU LOVED ME, I plunged a busy Seattle doctor into a remote wilderness in a desperate search for her son.

When the setting is remote – like the northern waters where my heroine Emma’s son Chris and his friend have disappeared, and men and women are stressed by life and death issues, there’s not a lot of room for pretence or hesitation.  And when people go missing in the remote, largely unpopulated coastal forests of the North Pacific shores, everyone knows it’s a matter of life and death.

And sometimes, love.

This weekend, join me in an journey of love and adventure, in the Pacific Northwest that I love.

If You Loved Me – free on Amazon USA and Amazon UK

Vanessa

A Powerful Memoir of Healing and the Spirit of Survival

Tonight I finished reading one of the most inspiring books I’ve read in a long time – M. J. Adam’s Unforgiving – the Memoir of an Asperger Teen

I met the author at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference a few weeks ago, and talking with her was a pleasure from the first moment. How could it be otherwise when she told me that she’d once learned something very important about writing from a workshop I presented in Surrey – that when you’re writing about relationships, there must be personal growth for the characters.

Learning that I’d helped a developing writer made my day, and before the conference ended I had the pleasure of sharing the special kind of conversation that writers treasure. I went home with her memoir and promised myself I’d read it soon.

Well, I’ve  just finished reading Unforgiving, and I want to tell everyone what a great thing M. J. Adam has done.

Unforgiving – the Memoir of an Asperger Teen is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.

M. J. Adam has crafted an inspiring book, a definite must-read for anyone who has, knows, is, or was an Asperger’s teen. I highly recommend it for anyone who cares about child survivors of any kind of trauma, or for teens struggling to understand themselves and the world they live in.

The events that happened to Margaret Jean should never happen to any child. Yet they did happen, and each page of Margaret Jean’s memoir rings with love, the amazing power of healing, and the spirit of survival.

I cried. I laughed. I cheered Margaret Jean’s indomitable inner strength, and felt honoured that she had shared herself so deeply with this reader.

Buy this book. Read it. You’ll be glad you did.

Vanessa Grant

Thinking About Love

Today is a special day for me. Think About Love is now available as a Kindle book on Amazon!

This one is special for a couple of reasons.

Think About Love was the first of my books to be reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly. My editor at Kensington sent me the review before I saw a copy of the printed book. I was thrilled that to be mentioned in Publisher’s Weekly, and pleased that I got a pretty decent review. I hoped to see good sales for this title, but unfortunately, hardly anyone got to see the book because the publisher discontinued the Zebra Bouquet line, and Think About Love was published in one of the final months. The publisher printed so few copies in the line’s final month, that I didn’t even get the copies I’d ordered directly from the publisher for friends and family. I generally refer to this book as, “the one they printed 10 copies of,” although I admit that’s a (slight) exaggeration 🙂

Now, thanks to the marvels of Indie publishing, Think About Love is available in my own Indie edition. And, because independent authors get to choose their own cover artists, I’m lucky enough to have the perfect cover, designed by my daughter, Angela Oltmann of AngieOCreations.com.

And this is a marker day for another reason – I’ve now published all of my backlist (with the exception of Pacific Disturbance, my very first book. That one needs a lot of work, and I may never get to it. Just reading the first page, it’s obvious to me that this was a writer learning her craft.)

My next project is a new book, the story of a counselor named Kate, who makes a decision that throws her into a counselor’s worst nightmare and sets her on a collision path with disaster. I’m in final revisions for Kate’s book, and one of my challenges is finding a title. I love it when titles come to me while I’m writing the first few chapters of a new story.  These early titles provide a focal point for my writing, and I escape the nagging frustration of trying to find the perfect title. I know almost everything about Kate, except the name of her story.  Somewhere around chapter 6, I came up with the title Lifelines, but it feels too tame for the storm Kate finds herself sailing into. 

In any case, I hope to release Kate (AKA ????) before Christmas this year.

Have a great day

Vanessa Grant

Think About Love – available at
Amazon.com
* Amazon UK * Amazon DE

 

Author-friendly in spades – Kobo’s new WritingLife Rocks

The other day I received notice from KoboBooks that my new Writing Life account was ready.  I’d been excited by the recent news that Kobo would be rolling out a new, writer-friendly interface for authors wishing to publish eBook editions of their books, and eager to take a look.

I went right over to find out what Kobo meant by writer-friendly. Amazon’s interface is writer-friendly, as is Smashwords. Barnes and Noble’s, not so much , but I’m hoping for improvements there now that Microsoft has invested in B&N. If Writing Life made it as convenient to publish eBooks as Smashwords and Amazon, I’d be happy. More would definitely be a bonus.

I got much more!

Signup: The signup process was easy – it took me less than 5 minutes, and that included looking up my banking information.

Distribution: KoboBooks are distributed in over 170 countries!

Payment – Yes! I was hoping for payment through PayPal rather than checks by snail mail  – but I got even better. A bonus for Canadian (and I assume other non-USA) authors and publishers – Kobo pays by direct deposit to my Canadian bank account

Publishing my booksFast, Easy, and Smooth!

This is the easiest process for uploading ebooks files, pricing, choosing sales channels, and entering the book’s meta-data that I’ve ever used. Not only was it fast to get the data up there, with easy to use forms and very little waiting – the books were available for sale almost immediately. It was easy to opt out of DRM (see my blog about digital rights management) so that my readers don’t need to worry about being locked into one format.

Information on sales – Writing Life has a beautiful “Dashboard” that allows writers and publishers to see sales numbers and estimated dollars earned at a glance, and a quick link to the publishing daqta for all books in the account.

Kudos to Kobo for a slick, convenient interface, and a system that makes authors books available in the ePUB format worldwide, on excellent terms (Kobo asks that the contract terms be kept confidential, but I found them very fair).

Kobo Rocks!

Vanessa Grant romance novels newly released on KoboBooks
– DRMfree, samples available at KoboBooks

If You Loved Me (#1 in the Emma and Jamie series)
The Colors of Love (#2 in the Emma and Jamie series)
Storm – the Author’s Cut

New on All Romance eBooks

I’ve been busy this week getting some of my titles up on All Romance Ebooks, and I’ll be putting more up over the next few weeks. Visit All Romance eBooks and search for Vanessa Grant.

For great romances, and people who own – or have owned – more than one format of ereader, All Romance eBooks offers a wide selection of quality romances in a variety of formats – Mobipocket, ePub, Palm, iSolo, and Rocket.

My books on All Romance eBooks are all DRMfree. Whenever I have the option, I prefer to sell my books through channels that make it possible to offer them without DRM (digital rights management). I’ve had several eReaders over the last two decades, and I always look for books that are DRM free when I buy, because then I know that – thanks to Calibre – I’ll have no trouble converting my purchase to another format if I need to.

Have a great week!

Vanessa Grant


Indie Authors Post Open Letter to Microsoft about Barnes and Noble

I wasn’t the only indie author to welcome the recent news that Microsoft had come to Barnes and Noble’s rescue. If you missed the news, see the Wall Street Journal article Microsoft Hooks Onto Nook: Software Maker’s $300 Million Deal Gives It a 17.6% Stake in Barnes & Noble Subsidiary

I started rereleasing my previously published books some years ago, when I applied to my print publisher for reversion of rights of some of my print-published titles. Back then I believed eBook adoption would be swift and enthusiastic, but it was actually over ten years before eReaders became a common sight.

The last few years have been filled with big changes in publishing, and where authors who chose to publish their own works were once looked down upon, so many big authors have joined the crowd of “indies” (independently published authors using the readily available vehicles for publishing their own eBooks and POD – AKA Print on Demand – books) that most traditionally published authors are at least considering applying for reversion of rights and independently ePublishing their backlist. It’s hard to argue that “real authors don’t self-publish” when J. K. Rowling is going the indie route for eBook releases of Harry Potter.

Amazon has taken the lead in making it easy and inexpensive for authors to publish independently with Kindle Digital Publishing and CreateSpace Print on Demand services, and supporting services and forums for indie authors. Authors wanting to make their books available on the Barnes & Noble Nook, the Kobo, and Apple devices can go direct to the online vendors like Barnes & Noble and Apple, or they can go through Smashwords.com which offers eBook publishing and sales, and  distribution services to other retail channels like Apple, Kobobooks, Sony, and Barnes and Noble.

When I learned that Microsoft was investing $300 million in Barnes and Noble’s digital book business, like many others, I hoped that this would give new life to Barnes and Noble’s digital book presence, and allow B&N to offer both authors and readers better service. Frankly, Barnes and Noble’s performance in this area has been disappointing.

Competition gives both readers and authors more choices, and creates a healthier industry.

Author Libby Fischer Hellman, publicist Rebecca Crowley, NYT bestselling author Ruth Harris, and thriller author CJ West have done more than wish good things for Microsoft’s investment in Barnes and Noble. They’ve taken the time to analyze their experience of digital publishing through Barnes and Noble and Amazon, and write an open letter to Microsoft sharing their view of how Microsoft can help make Barnes and Noble’s digital book presence better for readers, authors, and the publishing industry.

If you want to see healthy competition in the eBook world, pop over to Libby’s blog and read the Open Letter to Microsoft written by these four authors. While you’re there, take the time to use the share buttons at the top of the blog to spread the word, and make a comment yourself.

And have a good day!

Vanessa