Friday, June 29, 2012

Interview with Marissa Carmel, author of iFeel

Today I would like to introduce you to author, Marissa Carmel, and her novel, iFeel. Let's get to know the author a little before moving on to the novel (I really love the cover).

Tell us a bit about yourself

By day, I work for the U.S army doing logistics, by night I am mother of two, and wife to an amazing man.  Somewhere in between I’m a writer. My busy lifestyle definitely keeps me on my toes and allows inspiration to keep churning. 

What keeps you writing?
The fact that everyday I come up with a new idea, and the storis in my head just keep expanding.  I’m compelled to put them on paper, my imagination is it’s own jugernaut. 

Can you tell us a little more about your novel?
iFeel follows Liv, a very emotionally tormented girl, who has basically become a shut in.  She feels the emotions of everyone around her, which in turn hinders her ability live.  She is trapped, until one-day fate steps in and puts her in the path of a sadistic Spirit Stalker and a demon-hunting angel.   This starts Liv on a journey to explore her true self and the chance to rise from the ashes to be the person she was always meant to be. 

What inspired you to write this novel?
It was born out of boredom really, I was tired of reading about vampires and werewolves and the alike, so this idea of Liv came to me and I just ran with it.  She has been renting space in my subconscious ever since. 

How did you come up with the title?
I was actually reading my horoscope, and it said cancer’s catch phrase is ‘I Feel’ and I thought what a great name for a novel.  I never gave it a second thought until I started writing iFeel a few months later. 

How long did it take you to research and write the novel?
About three years, it was a labor of love, but I’m really happy with the final outcome. 

Is there a certain message you would like readers to get out of this novel?
The underlying message is that you have to find the courage inside yourself and accepting who you are will give you the ultimate power. I’m a strong believer self confidence is the key to success in life, career and relationships.  

Do you experience writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
Yes all the time, I just wait for it to pass. Sometimes it takes a few days and sometimes it takes a few weeks.  I look at like my brain telling me it needs a moment. I don’t over think it and I try not to stress about it. I just trust in my ability and my love of writing. 

Are you a full time writer?
If not, how do you make time to write? No, i wish i could, but it’s not paying the bills just yet.  I’m still optimistic.  I would say somewhere in the ballpark of 25% of my time is spent writing.

How does your daily writing schedule look like?
I squeeze it in whenever I can.  

How does your marketing schedule look like?
If I had the resources I would go no holds barred. I really believe in fast and furious marketing.  Luckily, my publisher does a lot of marketing for me, but I like to network as well; lots if giveaways, blog tours and Q&A’s. 

Which avenues do you use to market your books?
Goodreads, Facebook, my publisher, twitter. 

What books can we expect from you in the future?
I’m working on the sequel to iFeel, Gravitational Pull, and then the third and final installment of the Vis Vires trilogy, Constellation is next.  Then hopefully I can pursue some other ideas I have rattling around in my head.

What was your best ever moment as a published author?
I received an email from a fan wanting to know when my next book release is, and how she couldn’t wait to read it. There are few greater feelings than knowing someone is enjoying your writing. 

Do you have a message for your readers?
Just that I hope they enjoy my novels, and I strive to give them a quality story they want to tell their friends about. 

Thank you so much for telling us a little more about you and your novel. I appreciate it. I wish you all the best of luck with the book. I'm sure readers will love it.


Lust. Anger. Hate. Desire. Love. Happiness. Joy. iFeel.

What happens when an unknowing empath meets a pixie who wears leather, a snitch who is repulsive and a brethren of burning angels who can literally light your soul on fire? A whole lot of emotional turmoil and one love story ignited. But love doesn’t come easy to this reluctant empath, according to her, falling in love would be like pointing the Patriot Missile right at her head. But when she meets Justice, a fiery Seraph who adopts the task of protecting her, the one most terrifying emotion she has always run away from, suddenly becomes the most powerful in her life.

Marissa Carmel has been writing since a young age and although it has always been for personal enjoyment, she finally decided breakout and share her imagination with the world. She hopes that her universe is as fun and intriguing to her readers as it is to her.
Marissa Carmel is originally from NJ but moved to Maryland several years ago, she enjoys reading, writing, and catching up on her DVR library. She is currently working on the sequel to iFeel, Gravitational Pull, which she hopes to release sometime in 2012.

To learn more about Marissa, please visit the following links.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Moon Over Alcatraz: BOOK TOUR (Review & GC Giveaway)

Today I would like to introduce you to a wonderful novel, Moon Over Alcatraz by Patricia Yager Delagrange. Before you read my review, let’s get to know the author a little bit. Patricia, welcome to Novel Moments.

Patricia, tell us a bit about yourself
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically in the small city of Alameda (80,000 people).  I studied at the University of Madrid for my junior year abroad, transferred to U.C. Santa Barbara where I received my B.A. in Spanish then I went on to acquire my Master’s degree in Education at Oregon State University. 
I returned to Alameda where I live with my husband and two children - ages 13 and 17 - and two large 95-pound Chocolate Labs.  My horse lives in the Oakland hills with a million dollar view I wish we had here in Alameda.

What keeps you writing?
I love writing.  I love creating worlds peopled with characters I’ve created.  I never dreamed I’d be an author or that I’d even be able to write an 80,000-word book, but here I am and I’ve done it!  After writing my first book I also never thought it would ever be read by anyone other than my daughter and sister.  But the editor at Musa Publishing read it and offered me a contract.  I will forever be grateful for Musa and their fantastic team of uber-knowledgeable staff, headed by the indomitable Celina Summers.  I think what keeps me writing is the hope that I will stir the emotions of those who read my books.  When someone tells me they cried or laughed after reading something I’ve written, I know it was all worth it.

Can you tell us a little more about your novel?
Moon Over Alcatraz is a women’s fiction novel about a couple, Brandy and Weston, who lose their child at birth.  It centers around Brandy and how she overcomes her depression, struggles with a deteriorating marriage, and other life hurdles.  She manages to find happiness because she’s a strong woman who never gives up.

What inspired you to write this novel?
I wanted to explore the experience of losing a child.  We’re constantly bombarded with Amber Alerts and news stories about children who are kidnapped and murdered.  I cannot imagine going through that and wanted to write about it.  But, although it’s never happened to me, I am a mother.  I know what it feels like to love a child so much you would die for them.  So, I dug very deep to examine just how it would feel if it did happen to me. 

How did you come up with the title?
There is a scene at the beginning of the novel where Brandy recalls a night when she and Weston are in their home in San Francisco and they look out the window at the moon over the island of Alcatraz.  She’s reminiscing about a time when they were both so in love and happy.

How long did it take you to research and write the novel?
I wrote Moon Over Alcatraz in about three or four months and then the editing (by myself as well as with my personal editor) took another 3 to 4 months.

Is there a certain message you would like readers to get out of this novel?
The message I hope people get out of Moon Over Alcatraz is that no matter what life throws at you, you’re strong enough to break through to the other side and find happiness again.  Attitude is everything.  If you believe in yourself, you can do anything.

Do you experience writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
Oh, I was so arrogant at first because writing three books just flew out of me.  The ideas flowed and I felt I could write forever.  Suddenly, after the third book, I was idea-less.  I had no clue what to write about.  That went on for months.  So, I had a long conversation with my personal editor who reads and critiques all my work, and we threw out a bunch of ideas.  But, what did it for me was her suggestion that I write a synopsis and chapter outlines after I came up with an idea for the book’s theme.  That helped me immensely.  I didn’t have to completely stick to the outline but it guided me from start to finish.
Are you a full time writer? If not, how do you make time to write?
I do not work outside of the home.  After I got pregnant with my son in 1993 I quit my day job and have been a full-time mom ever since.  Then my daughter came home from school one day in 2009 and said her friend asked her why her mommy didn’t have a job.  It got me to thinking how I had more time because both of my kids were more independent and in school most of the day.  So I went to the Apple store, bought a MacBook, and told myself I was going to write a book.

What does your daily writing schedule look like?
I wake up with my husband’s alarm clock at 5:30 in the morning and get out of bed at 6:30 when he leaves, feed the dogs, wake up the kids, eat breakfast, drive the two kids to school, return home and take a shower and get dressed then sit down and either write or edit or send out query letters in search of an agent.  I also spend a bit of time on Facebook and I write a blog every Wednesday, along with following many other writers’ blogs and commenting.

What does your marketing schedule look like?
I spent three months, from February through April of this year, on a blog tour for Moon Over Alcatraz, and I began a second tour on June 4th for three weeks.  The only way people can know my book exists is if they find out about me on the internet because Moon Over Alcatraz is in e-book form only.

Which avenues do you use to market your books?
Blog tours, connecting with people on Facebook, reading other people’s blogs and commenting, and I belong to four online writing groups.

What books can we expect from you in the future?
The very first book I wrote, Passing Through Brandiss, will be published sometime later this year by Wild Child Publishing in e-book form only.  It’s about a young woman whose husband dies and she takes her young son and leaves the San Francisco Bay Area to escape the haunting memories.  As they’re driving through Central California they stumble upon the (fictional) town of Brandiss, near Santa Barbara, and decide to make Brandiss their home.  The book has a “happily ever after” but they have to overcome quite a few of life’s hurdles before getting there.

What was your best ever moment as a published author?
My best ever moment I think was when I finished writing my first book.  I never truly believed I could do that.  I’d never believed in myself up until then.  When I finally wrote “The End” I was over the moon.

What other question are you dying to be asked? And the answer is?
A question I’m dying to be asked?  Umm...My favorite hobby in the whole world is riding my Friesian horse, Maximus.  He’s 1,425 pounds of very dramatic beauty and strength.  The most challenging experience of my life has been learning to ride him because I had to conquer a humungous fear of his strength and impulsion.  I’m still working on that.

Do you have a message for your readers?
My message would be: if you like romance with a bit more meat to it in terms of hurdles thrown in the main character’s life, women’s fiction is a genre you might want to read.  It doesn’t have to have a happy ending, but all my books have HEA’s.

Thank you so much for telling us a little more about you and your novel. I appreciate it.
                                                          MOON OVER ALCATRAZ
by Patricia Yager Delagrange
Following the death of their baby during a difficult birth, Brandy and Weston Chambers are grief-stricken and withdraw from each other, both seeking solace outside of their marriage; however, they vow to work through their painful disloyalty.  But when the man Brandy slept with moves back to their hometown, three lives are forever changed by his return.

Moon Over Alcatraz was a bittersweet read, in terms of the emotions one feels while reading it. The novel is about a married couple (Brandy and Weston) who were looking forward to a new baby only to discover they can never share the joy of having that baby in their lives. The baby dies and leaves Brandy and Weston crushed and their marriage crumbling. Instead of helping each other through the painful process, they push each other away. Then a great job opportunity for Weston causes them to spend time apart for a few months.
This pulls their hearts even further apart and when they have a chance to speak on the phone, all they do is argue. This causes their marriage to weaken to a point that leads both husband and wife to have an affair. But as secrets don’t stay hidden forever, Brandy and Weston are finally forced to confess what they did. At first they think they are strong enough to swallow what happened and move forward, to forgive and forget. But some things are easier said than done. Despite the deep love they still share and their determination to keep fighting, there are immovable obstacles in the way of their happiness. Can they circumvent those obstacles? Do they even want to? You have to read the book to find out.
I really loved this novel. The story was so deep and the people and settings so real that I felt as if I were watching a movie. I’m often drawn to novels which focus on issues that people deal with in the real world. I also appreciate novels that are more than just a story, they give the reader something to take away. Patricia Yager Delagrange gave me that and more. Patricia, you are a brilliant author and I look so much forward to reading more of your novels.
If you’re a reader debating whether to buy this novel, I encourage you to go ahead. You won’t be disappointed. 

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, I attended St. Mary’s College, studied my junior year at the University of Madrid, received my B.A. in Spanish at UC Santa Barbara then went on to get my Master’s degree in Education at Oregon State University.  I live with my husband and two teenage children in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco, along with our two very large chocolate labs, Annabella and her son Jack.  

My horse lives in the Oakland hills in a stall with a million dollar view.


Patricia will award a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I now design covers: My sample ebook covers

For a while now my husband and a few friends have been encouraging me to start designing book covers for other people.
I'm starting to really warm to the idea. Next to writing, my next passion is fiddling around in Photoshop, designing all kinds of things. I just celebrated my birthday yesterday and before my next birthday, I'd like to try something new.

Anyway, last week I designed a few sample covers that people can look at to see if I'm the right cover artist for them.
I want to take it slow. So, at the moment I'm looking for a few people (maybe 6) who want me to design an ebook cover for them for $35 (images are purchased separately by the author). After that, if I continue designing covers, the price would go up. I'll probably consider doing print covers as well.

 If you want to be one of my first clients, send me an email at I'll pick the authors randomly.

I'll only design covers I think I can be passionate about (I want to create the best possible product) so please send along a book description. For now I'm looking for romance, women's fiction, YA and thriller. I might consider other genres if the stories sound interesting. 

I'd really appreciate it if you tell your friends.

Here are some samples for you (click to enlarge). What do you think?
All the elements on the above cover were created by me in Photoshop.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Wings of Hope: Virtual Book Tour & Amazon GC Giveaway

As part of the book tour for Wings of Hope, I would like to welcome the author, Hillary E. Peak.

Welcome, Hillary. Please tell us a bit about yourself.  
I aspire to be a retired lawyer.  But currently, I am an attorney.  I work in education law for the District of Columbia.  I’m married.  We have a two year old girl who hung the moon and a badly behaved beagle.

What keeps you writing? 
It is my dream to make it as a novelist!  I know that the more I write, the better I get!

Can you tell us a little more about your novel?
 It is the journey of a father, who’s dying, and his daughter, who is learning how to live.  He reminisces about his life, while teaching her to reach for her own dreams and live life to the fullest.

What inspired you to write this novel?
Unfortunately, my father passed away before my daughter was born.  When I was pregnant, I wanted to write down his stories to share with her. From that, I ended up writing a novel.

How did you come up with the title? 
I changed the title more times than I can count.  In the end, I took my main theme:  hope.  I started researching quotes about hope and put them at the beginning of each chapter.  “The wings of hope carry us, soaring high above the driving winds of life,” by Ana Jacob, was my favorite, so I chose it as the title.

How long did it take you to research and write the novel? 
About three months.  There wasn’t much research involved.

Is there a certain message you would like readers to get out of this novel?
 It is worth it to try to live the life of your dreams rather than settle for only so-so.

Do you experience writer’s block? How do you deal with it? 
I don’t really.  I make myself write no matter what—even if days later I delete it all.

Are you a full time writer? If not, how do you make time to write? 
No, I am not yet a full time writer—but that is my goal.  I try to carve out an hour a day to write—even if I just eat my lunch at the computer.

How does your daily writing schedule look like? 
I don’t have one.

How does your marketing schedule look like? 
I’m trying a virtual book tour to see if I can get my novel out there.  At night, I spend half an hour or so marketing my novel.

Which avenues do you use to market your books?  I’m working with author platforms on goodreads and facebook as well.

What books can we expect from you in the future?
 I’ve just finished a legal thriller entitled, “Justice Scorned.”

What was your best ever moment as a published author? 
Holding a finished manuscript—even better when it came with a professional cover!

What other question are you dying to be asked? And the answer is? 
What is the hardest thing about writing?  Putting yourself into a novel and showing such a vulnerable part of you to the world.

Do you have a message for your readers?  
If you love my book, please leave feedback and share it with your friends!

Thank you so much, Hillary, for telling us a little more about you and your novel. I appreciate it.

Hillary E. Peak

The letter said he was dying, that’s all Jules Weinstein knows when she leaves her life in San Francisco and moves to New York City to be with her father.  She goes for the remarkable opportunity to really know her father. She never dreamed he had liberated a concentration camp, dealt cards to Bugsy Siegel or saved the life of a Black Panther. Wings of Hope is a road trip through the memories of a man making peace with his life.  Little does she know that by getting to know her father, she will find herself.  While her father struggles with whether his life was meaningful, Jules discovers that her father’s last gift to her is the ability to reach for her dreams.  Her journey teaches her that “the goodbye” is sometimes the most heartbreakingly beautiful part of life.  


“Jules, were you trying to beat your Dad in a friendly game of poker?” Jack teased.

 “You know,” Dad looked at me, “Jack only invited me to his poker game once.  He never let me come again.”  He was grinning slyly.

 “Right, we wanted a card shark to play with.  You know,” he turned to me again, “your Dad took home two grand the one night we let him play with us?”

 “Told you then, it was beginners luck.”

 “Hardly.  Bill Patterson told me that you killed some guy in a plane over a card game.”

Dad hooted and nearly doubled over.  “Did you think that was true?”

 “Well, no,” Jack responded glumly, but I could tell he might have believed it.

 “I do know what he’s talking about.  When Jules was about four, just before her mother and I divorced, we were on a plane coming to New York.  We’d flown from Lubbock to Dallas.  The weather was terrible—an ice storm if I remember correctly.  The plane from Dallas to New York had been boarded, but we were sitting on the tarmac.  Hours went by—literally.  After three or four hours, they started serving free booze, no food, just booze.  The plane got blitzed.  Those people were drunker than anyone I’ve ever seen, truly.
I’ll never forget; Jules was starving.  My ex was begging the stewardess for some food, crackers, anything.  Jules was crying and crying.  Eventually, she fell asleep.  Her mother and I were exhausted and angry—we were furious they won’t give us anything for our child to eat, wouldn’t let us off the plane and we felt terrible that our four year old had just cried herself to sleep hungry.

There was no end in sight, so I pulled out the deck of cards I used to entertain Jules.  The ex and I started to play gin rummy.  Usually, she wouldn’t play with me, but there was nothing else to do. 

A guy in the row in front of us starts getting really rowdy.  He was laughing, spilling alcohol everywhere.  I got up; I was on the aisle.  I can remember touching his shoulder, ‘Excuse me, can you keep it down, my little girl just fell asleep. ’

 ‘What’s your problem buddy? ’ He slurred all his words and talked at the top of his voice.  He reeked of alcohol and perspiration.

 ‘My child is tired and hungry, she’s finally asleep.  I’m asking you, keep it down so that you won’t wake her. ’

 ‘S’not my problem.  What the hell do I care if she wakes up? ’

That did it.  I grabbed the guy by his necktie, shoved him up into the ceiling of the plane, knocking him out and tossed him into a seat about three rows back.  My ex was so stunned, she jumped and all the cards went flying into the air, it looked like it was snowing because she had the full deck to shuffle. 

But I’ll tell you, the plane was silent after that—for two hours until we took off.  Also, the stewardess came and brought food for Jules.  Everyone apologized in hushed tones.  It was great.”


Hillary Peak is a recovering idealist. She became a lawyer to change the world and is still somewhat shocked that didn't occur. Now, her goal is to retire from practicing law and write novels that people love. She is currently a practicing attorney in the District of Columbia. She lives with her family in Alexandria, VA.


Hillary will award a $10 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:

Twitter: @hillaryepeak