Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book Review: I'll Know You By Heart by Kimberly Job

First, let me apologize to Kimberly and Valor for being late in my review. I was at the LDStorymakers Writing Conference this past weekend and have been dealing with some physical challenges that have somehow made my brain turn to mush. But, better late than never, as they say, so here it is! My review of "I'll Know You by Heart" by Kimberly Job.

By way of disclaimer, I have known Kimberly for about 3 years and admired her writing from the very beginning, but that in no way influences my review of her book.


I'm not usually a reader of romance. It's not my genre. I write fantasy, for goodness sake, but I'll Know You By Heart was more than just a romance. It was the story of a woman's battle with abuse and lose all confidence in herself. It was about her coming to terms with her fear and standing up for what was important in the end.

It was about life.

And might I say, Kimberly has done a fantastic job of making it real. I was right there with our main character as she battled with her husband to protect her son. I was there when she first had to face the fact that not all men are like her ex. I was there as she fought the feelings she had for the new man in her life. Kimberly made me walk in this woman's shoes in a way most books rarely do, and though it ripped my heart out and shredded it at times, it also made me glow with happiness and pride when she made progress.

I'll be honest here. This book was so fantastically good that when I got toward the end, in particular, I could not put it down. I slowed down as I drove to hit every light red, then asked my kids to tell me when the light turned green and prayed it would stay red forever. Yes, it was just that good.

It is an LDS novel, but it's not one that hits you over the head with it, so it makes it a read that anyone can enjoy, and it's CLEAN.

I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars. Seriously. And I don't do that often. So, congratulations, Kimberly, for a fantastic debut novel. I look forward to the many yet to come.

Quote of the Day: "The only reason for being a professional writer is that you just can't help it."
Leo Rosten

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Not Again!

I hate doing this when I've just started the write-a-thon thing, but I made appointments before I set up the write-a-thon, so I won't be able to write from 10-2 tomorrow. I apologize most profusely! If you want to write with me during the day, let's make it Tuesday instead. It's the only other free day I've got this week, as Wednesday I co-teach a class, and Thursday I'm heading to Provo for the LDStorymakers annual writing conference. So, if you want to write with me during the day, remember, Tuesday, April 20th, from 10 am to 2 pm. See you then!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Write-a-thon TONIGHT!!!

Just a reminder, I'll be online for my first evening write-a-thon tonight. If any of you want to join me, post your starting time at the end of this blog, along with your starting word count. Then, no later than 12:15 tonight, post your finishing time and word count, then your total words written in those four hours. If you want to open up a chat window with me and any of our fellow writers, I'll be on MSN Live (Windows live messenger?) during that time (user name is writingpal AT Or, if you're on Yahoo, I'll open that one too (luv2writefantasy user name). Just remember, the chat window is for support purposes, not to talk the whole time. lol

Hope to see you tonight!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My First Podcast!

My interview with the ladies of LDS Women's Book Review posted today. It was a TON of fun being interviewed with my publisher and friend, Candace Salima. Go check it out!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Changes, Changes, Everywhere

Before I say anything else, let me apologize. I said I would be available for a write-a-thon tomorrow evening, but I was mistaken. I will not be home until well after the write-a-thon will have started, so for this week only, I am switching it to Friday night. For those of you who already made plans, I apologize I won't be able to join you, but go ahead and do it and feel free to comment on the end of this post what time you start and how much you write or even ask for someone else to write with. You can use me. I don't mind. :)

So, do you guys remember when I fell and killed my ankle just before Christmas? Did I blog about that? I can't remember. Anyway, I got a mega sprained ankle and fractured my fifth metatarsal (yes, I DO know what that is. Do you? lol) I've been in and out of a variety of ankle supports since. First an ankle brace made out of plastic and air pillows, then a compression bandage and splint, a Frankenstein sized boot, a store bought brace, and finally a big, black, velcro and metal boot that actually fits my foot.

Two weeks ago I went back to the podiatrist and told him my foot still hurt. I did this little tumble act three days before Christmas, so I should have been pain free by then, but no, I was still in pain. The doc told me to get an MRI so they could see what tissue damage may have been done since the x-ray showed the bone was all healed. So last Wednesday I went and had my very first MRI. It was interesting, to say the least. I thought they would put me all the way down the tube, but evidently they didn't need to, so I laid on the table for about forty minutes with this big machine vibrating and screaming at different frequencies, and I read Kimberly Job's book I'll Know You by Heart.

Well, today I went in to the podiatrist again and got the results of my MRI. Evidently I have a couple of bone bruises, a possible chipped bone, and two torn ligaments. Yeah, no wonder I've been hurting! The good news is, I finally know what's wrong. The bad news is, I'm going to have to have surgery, and depending on what the scoping tells them about the possible bone chip, I may be on crutches for six weeks. I'll definitely be in a cast for six weeks.

Thank goodness I'm waiting to have it done until after I come back from my book tour! Can you imagine being in and out of the airport every other day, doing school visits, book signings, firesides, and media interviews on CRUTCHES??? No, I don't think so. Well, I'm sure you can imagine it, but I'm not doing it!

So, if you happen to see me somewhere in June or July at a book signing, be sure and take a moment to sign my cast! It is certainly one way to make the experience memorable.

Quote of the Day: "If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it."
~Anais Nin

Monday, April 12, 2010

Regular Write-A-Thons

I participated in a write-a-thon sponsored by Precision Editing Group last Thursday and after a fitful start was able to finish with almost 5,500 words in 4 hours. It made me realize how valuable that writing time is, sharing it with other people and knowing you're not a lone. I did two things they didn't suggest, but I found helped a heck of a lot in the process. First, I found am MP3 of a person typing. I put it on repeat and let it play while I worked so every time I would stop I'd hear that keyboard typing away and it would remind me I wasn't alone and I needed to keep going. Second, I wrote with a friend. We opened up a chat window between us and updated each other on our progress. Simple things like, "Just hit 2,000 words" or "Just finished chapter 3." Occasionally we would stop and take a few minutes and say "I'm really struggling" or "This is really fun!" Whatever we did, we just kept on writing, and it made me excited to do it again.

Rather than wait for someone else to sponsor a write-a-thon, I'm going to sponsor my own. Unfortunately at this time I don't have any prizes to motivate people to participate, but perhaps eventually, or maybe quarterly, we can do something like that. In the meantime, you'll have the pleasure of knowing you're not only working on your books, but you are not alone.

So here's what I'm going to do. On Mondays from 10 am - 2 pm, and Thursdays from 8pm - 12 am I will be on Windows live messenger. My user name is writingpal AT (insert @ symbol) and I am available for any serious writer. If you just want to chat with a writer, save that for another time and keep it clean. But if you want to write and have a pal to write with, open a chat window with me and let me know you are there and we'll write together for a few hours.

The second thing I'm going to do is post the typing MP3 in a player in my sidebar separate from my usual writing music player. That way, if you need the audible reminder that you really aren't alone, you can play that like I do. It makes it feel like someone is in the room writing with you. It really helps, trust me!

I'll keep doing this weekly, even if I'm doing it alone, but I do hope that some of you will join me now and then. I can hardly wait to meet you and write with you. If, for some reason, I am unable to be there on those particular dates, say because I'm on book tour or something, I'll let you know ahead of time, so you won't log on looking for me.

Hope y'all will join me!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Finishing the Blog Tour Snippets

I'm a little behind in getting the rest of these up, but life has been a bit challenging as of late and family had to take precedence for a bit. Tonight I can finally grab a few moments and share with you my favorite bits of the last few reviews of The Sapphire Flute. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Tristi Pinkston: "Best of all, this book is clean. It demonstrates the importance of integrity and courage, and it shows how family relationships can mean the world to those who appreciate them and allow them to grow. The closing scenes of the book are particularly touching in this regard and left me feeling utterly at peace and covered in chills at the same time."

Karlene Browning:
"I wish I could have gotten my hands on back when Rosehaven was in its heyday. I love YA fantasy and I especially love it when there is a unique and believable world and strong female characters. This story had both."

Alison Palmer
: "I’ve read far too many books lately, some good reads, some not so much, that show the female characters as interesting and strong until the boy comes along, then suddenly she can’t be anything other than a swooning female moth dancing around the boy’s flame. Yes, there are a few elements of romance in The Sapphire Flute, but once again, it is reasonable and within the girl’s control. She has a definite say in the relationship. For me, Ember and Kayla are The Sapphire Flute’s strongest assets, as well they should be. It was a refreshing change and one I wish more authors would take note of."

Theresa Sneed: "Ember has the power of a mage deep within her, and Kayla is the guardian of the sacred Sapphire Flute. At first, neither fully understands the great power they wield, or the impending destiny that they must fulfill, as they set out on different paths on a journey of discovery towards the same magical location. Karen has superbly woven their stories together in this enchanting new book that you will enjoy from the opening scene to the end. I recommend her book for all ages. I had the occasion to meet Karen at an ANWA Writer's Conference in Mesa, AZ, a few weeks ago. She is as delightful as her book"

Abel Keogh: "Ember, Kayla, and C’Tan are what keep the novel moving. Hoover does a good job making Ember and Kayla feel real and people you want to root for even though, like all great characters, they’re flawed and make mistakes. That alone made it me wanting to keep reading the book. Like all good, evil characters, C’Tan is fascinating and I wanted to see more of her. But since The Sapphire Flute is the first of seven books, I’m sure we’ll see more of her before too long.:

Michele Ashman Bell: " (It's hard to resist a book that grabs you up front, keeps you up late, and leaves you wanting more.) The Sapphire Flute literally did all of this for me. Author, Karen Hoover, has proven herself to be a first-rate storyteller. Her imagination is off the charts and I found myself thinking of the story at times when I wasn't reading it."

Margaret Turley:
"I am an avid reader in many genres – including children’s books – I read all the books I give to my nieces, nephews and now my granddaughters before I give then to them so I know what the quality is and that I’m not unknowingly passing them junk or worse. The Sapphire Flute – book one in the Wolfchild Saga by Karen E. Hoover is one I can heartily recommend. This novel engaged me from the first sentence all the way through the end and I’m drooling for the next one in the series. Karen – Please hurry! I don’t think my heart can stand the suspense."

Michelle Jeffries: "The story is rich in detail and plot. The characters are wonderfully deep and well rounded. The most amazing thing, is that almost every chapter is written as a story in itself. With a beginning middle and end all in a few pages. This reader found herself pleasantly surprised at the end of every chapter as she either turned the page or closed the book."

Rachel Nunes: "Two of my children snatched this book before I got to it, my sixteen-year-old daughter and my thirteen-year-old son. Both had it read with in a day so take what you may from that. As for myself, I admire the world Hoover has created and the unique magic of the characters."

Haley Hatch Freeman:
I've never been a huge fantasy fan but wow I was in love with The Sapphire Flute's characters and pulled into their adventure immediately. I enjoyed getting lost in Karen's words of cleaver imagination and recommend The Sapphire Flute to young and old."

Julie Wright: "Ember, Kayla, and C’Tan are all strong female leads who carry a very character driven story. The magic system is brilliant and something I never would have thought up, so now I have magic system envy. And the action is strong enough to pull along the reluctant reader.
When I first read this book, Mr.Wright asked what I was reading. I told him and then he asked, “Is it any good?”
“Of course, it’s good, or I wouldn’t be reading it.”
“You’re just saying that because she’s your friend and you love her,” he said.
“No. I’m saying it because it’s true.” At this point I’m ready to throw a boot at Mr. Wright’s head.
“Prove it. Read me the first page and if, when you get to the end, I want you to turn the page and read more, then we can safely say it’s a good book.”
So I read the first page and stopped.
“Hey!” He became indignant. “Why are you stopping?”
“The first page is over.”
Then a little sheepishly, because he was so caught up in the story that he’d already forgotten our deal, he said, “Fine. Turn the page.”
Turn the page indeed. Great job, Karen! Great book!"

Friday, April 9, 2010

Book Review: Secret Sisters by Tristi Pinkston

Disclaimer: Tristi Pinkston and I are both published by Valor Publishing Group and Trist and I have known each other for several years. She is also my editor. Believe it or not, this in no way affects my review of her book and I am giving my honest opinion of her work, editor or not.

Now on to the review!

Ida Mae Babbitt, president of the Omni 2nd ward Relief Society, didn't mean to become a spy. But when visiting teaching stats are low and she learns that one family under her care is in financial trouble, she'll do whatever it takes to make sure they have what they need. If that includes planting surveillance cameras in their home and watching them from a parked car in the woods, well, isn't that what any caring Relief Society president would do?

With the help of her counselors Arlette and Tansy, Ida Mae soon learns that there's more to the situation than meets the eye. It's all in a day's work for the Relief Society.

Tristi Pinkston has been compared to a meshing of Mary Higgins Clark and Erma Bombeck, and I couldn't agree more wholeheartedly. I've always been a huge fantasy reader, but my first love of books, and what continues to be my close second favorite, are mysteries, first in the Nancy Drew books, and now in writers like J.A. Jance.

Tristi not only writes one heck of a mystery, but her characters are laugh out loud in PUBLIC hilarious. I have more than once had strange looks directed my way as I was laughing so hard my face was planted in the book and I was doubled over laughing. I think my favorite line from Secret sisters was when Ren called the sisters "blue haired ladies" and Arlette took offense and said, "Would you like me to call you a muppet?" I don't know why, but that struck me as absolutely hilarious. And the final big scene in the book involved a cast iron frying pan and knitting needles being brandished as weapons . . . well, let's just say I had to find a restroom and fast, which is hard to do when you are nearly crawling because you're laughing so hard.

I've always known Tristi was a brilliant editor, but she has proven once more how good she is at the craft of writing. I won't spoil the book for you, but if you're looking for a good clean read, a great mystery, and a dose of laughter, pick up Secret Sisters. You won't regret it.

If you'd like to purchase Secret Sisters now while you're thinking about it, go HERE.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Results are In!!!

Well, the results are in, folks. Using I pulled a number for the grand prize, and that number had a name attached to it. I ended up with 93 entries in all, which is pretty darn good, I think. Before I announce the winner, I wanted to take a second to say thank you to everyone who participated, who read and reviewed my book, who commented on Goodreads and Amazon, who is spreading the word and spreading their love around. You guys totally rock. Thank you so much!

Now, on to the winner of the grand prize, but first off, let me recap what your winnings will be.

1) A personalized, limited edition copy of The Sapphire Flute

2) A lovely mug with the book cover of The Sapphire Flute emblazoned on one side

3 ) A box of miscellaneous writerly goodies

4) Dinner for two with me at the location of your choice

Are you ready for the announcement? I mean really, really ready???? Because I wish I could draw all of your names, but unfortunately it can't be so.

And so at last . . . the winner is . . . (Can I get a drumroll please?)



Bonnie, will you please contact me at karen AT with your address? I'll get your package out this week, and will let you know when I'll be in your home town next month for my book tour and we'll do the dinner thing. :)

Congratulations, Bonnie!


Today's the day, People. Your last chance to enter the drawing. If you want to know how, see the previous post. I'll be drawing the winner's name this evening, so get your entries in A.S.A.P!!!

Quote of the Day: "Have you ever stopped to think if you stop dreaming, you stop growing? Remember your dreams, make a plan and then implement that plan. That is how books are written, movies are made, degrees are obtained, homes are created, businesses are born, whatever your dream may be ... pick it up, dust it off and become reacquainted.... Let no one steal your dreams."
~Candace E. Salima

Monday, April 5, 2010

Upcoming Drawing!

Just a reminder, but you've only got TWO DAYS before I draw for the grand prize. If you haven't entered yet, and want to know how, look HERE and HERE for instructions on how to play and get as many entries as you can. The more times you enter, the better your chances!

On another note, I will catch up on the final blog reviews either tonight or tomorrow, so watch for those if you want to see my favorite bits from the reviews. It's been a fun, rather fulfilling journey. :)

Quote of the Day: "My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living. "
~Anais Nin

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Book Review: The Thorn by Daron Fraley

First off, let me apologize to Daron for being a day and a half late on posting this review. I have good reasons, but at the moment they sound like nothing but excuses, so I'll just say "I'm sorry" and leave it at that.

Second, the disclaimer: Daron and I are both published by Valor Publishing Group and I know and like the man, and though I received a free copy of his book for review purposes, that in no way affects my opinion of his book.

Now on to the review!

Three tribes are at war on the planet Gan, unaware that the sign of Christ’s birth on an unknown world – Earth – is about to appear in the heavens.

During a bloody skirmish with Gideonite troops, Jonathan of Daniel spares Pekah, a young enemy soldier, gaining his trust forever. These two distant brothers from estranged tribes covenant with each other to end the war being waged by a self-proclaimed emperor, and soon discover the intentions of a far more dangerous foe named Rezon – a sinister general bent on ruling those he can bring into subjection and destroying all others.

In the end, Pekah’s selfless bravery is the means by which all the tribes are united. But there are dissenters, and Rezon escapes a well-deserved fate. When the promised heavenly signs appear, will there be peace at last, or will the malefactors once again threaten the safety of them all?

The Thorn has been an interesting read for me. I am a HUGE fantasy fan, but of a very specific type of fantasy. I hate to admit it, but I have never been able to finish J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, or Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, and these are two of the most well known and loved fantasy series of all time. So, if I'm such a fantasy lover, why can't I finish these books? Well, the answer lies not in the skill of the writer, or the beauty of their world, but in the depth of their details. You see, I'm a character writer. I would rather read a series of books that follows the same characters all the way through, so I know those people as well as I know myself, than read a stand alone book. I'd rather sit and watch a TV series, several episodes at a time, than watch a movie. I like the people.

Orson Scott Card wrote a book called Characters and Viewpoint, and in it he talked about the different types of books people can write. I believe he listed four, but at the moment I only remember two. One of them was a character driven story, like I write and enjoy reading. The other I remember is a world driven story, where the people are important to the plot, but the story is really about creating this magical place and reveling in the details. That, I believe, is part of what makes The Lord of the Rings and The Wheel of Time so loved. Their worlds are rich in detail, much as Daron Fraley's The Thorn.

Daron creates an interesting mix of the two types of story telling. I love his characters. They have depth and motives I understand and care about. But--he is also very good at all the worldbuilding skills exhibited by the prior mentioned authors. Details like the kind of wood and metal pins used in creating a portable home for an emperor. The color of the many suns and moons throughout the day and night and how they affect the light. It is a world made alive with his gift for detail.

There is one aspect of The Thorn that I had not expected to like, and I went into the reading of it with a bit of trepidation, in that he takes something mentioned briefly in the scriptures and bases a whole world and religion on it. I had thought it would bother me, but instead I have been delighted with the depth it brings to the characters and the world. When the characters prophecy, I feel it, clear to my bones. It brings something REAL to the table in this fantasy world and reminds me much of Orson Scott Card's Homecoming Saga, which was based on stories from The Book of Mormon. It has been an odd juncture for me, but one that has made me think, "what if," and that is always my favorite question to play with.

Order the book HERE.

Price: $16.95
Publisher: Valor Publishing Group, LLC (March 16, 2010)
Genre: Speculative Fiction
Binding: Trade Paperback
Pages: 300
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1-935546-11-5
Product Dimensions: 6 x 9 inches

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Contest Extension

I haven't had any entries for the last two weeks for my contest, so I didn't do any drawings the last two weeks. I thought I'd change it up for this last BIG drawing and make you do a little work. :) I'm mean like that.

First, I told you I'd announce the prize a while back and I never did, so here is the big announcement now. The winner of this final drawing to take place one week from today on April 7th, will receive the following prizes:

1) A personalized and signed copy of (the limited edition print run) of The Sapphire Flute
2) A lovely mug with the cover of The Sapphire Flute printed on one side
3) Dinner for two with ME (if you are local or at one of the places I'll be stopping on my tour, or will be in Utah in the near future) or a gift certificate for a restaurant near you if there is no way to connect.
4) Miscellaneous other objects I tend to throw in boxes, one of which is usually chocolate. :)

Now, what do you need to do to get in the running for this lovely prize, you might ask? Well, if you entered earlier, you're already in the drawing, or if you are just starting out, go HERE for the initial instructions. If you want ADDITIONAL entries, you have to peruse the blog tour reviewers listed to the right. Yeah, see it? That long list over there that says "BLOG TOUR"? Some of them have some information about me. I'm going to ask 7 questions (since the drawing will be April 7th), and you get an additional entry for EACH one you answer correctly. Now, for these, you don't want to leave the answers in the comment thread or EVERYONE WILL KNOW THE ANSWERS! No, for this one you want to e-mail me your answers directly at karen(AT)karen-e-hoover(DOT)com.

Question #1: What was my first vision of The Sapphire Flute?
Question #2: At the end of one review, I gave three pieces of advice to aspiring authors. What were they?

Question #3: What do I collect and according to the reviewer "have taken to a new level."
Question #4: What two women have most influenced my life?

Question #5: How many books will there be in The Wolfchild Saga?

Question #6: Which author has most influenced my writing?

Question #7: What special thing did I reveal about the cover that the artist did not know?

Okay, there you go then! Go off and read and have fun! There were some really great reviews in there, two of which gave me five stars. There were some others that were middlin', and a couple not so great, but you know, that's the nature of the business and the way of life. We're all different and have different things that resonate within each of us. That's a good thing.

I WAS going to list the last of the blog tour things, but I'll save that post for tomorrow and leave this one with just the contest information. Good luck to all of you! Now . . . ready . . . set . . . READ!

UPDATED NOTE: One of the reviews is a video blog or VLOG. You might find an answer in there. (hint, hint)