Sunday, December 29, 2013

Book Review: INK: Fine Lines by Bella Roccaforte

With out a doubt, many of the best books I've ever had the pleasure of reading have come from book review blogs.  While I was reading INK: Fine Lines by Bella Roccaforte, I got to thinking what a shame it is that I've not heard of this book before stumbling on it while browsing on Amazon.  So to remedy, I'm going to do my own book review which will likely be followed by many more.  This is completely unsolicited, I just wanted to pass along a great story. 

INK: Fine Lines

Category/genre: NA/Paranormal Romance

My star rating: 4.5/5 (I rated this 5* on Goodreads because they don't allow for a half star, and this definitely deserved more than 4)

Good Reads blurb: Shay Baynes is a wanted woman: by the police for a double murder, by two rival suitors, and by the evil specter that haunts her dreams.
It’s her twenty-first birthday and she finally feels like she’s in charge, out on her own and about to hit it big with a new comic series. The ink's not dry on her breakout first issue but even Shay's twisted imagination can't predict what will happen when the fine line between reality and nightmare is crossed...
She walked away once from the men who want to control her and now they’re back. But can she break away from them and the specter who walks right off the pages of her comic committing gruesome murders.

THE RAVE-WORTHY:  Oh geeze, where to begin!  Bella does a wonderful job from page one at grabbing you.  The action starts right away... and never stops.  Never mind a roller coaster, this entire book is one giant minefield of awesome.  The character development is unreal, the writing is borderline flawless. The paranormal elements are scarce, but they are sprinkled appropriately.  The romance?  This is not a book that has sex on every page (I don't recall any actual intercourse going on)but the tension between Shay and her men (yes, I said MEN, not man) is almost palpable.  Shay has three love interests here, and her dynamic with each is distinct and unique.  Ladies, what's your pleasure?  Chances are, you'll find it in one of the three suitors in this book.  We have Gabriel: the mysterious, hunky dream guy (literally, he's a figment in her imagination).  We have Eli: the sweet, reliable, BFF type that is still flawed enough to keep you interested.  Then, of course, we have Aiden.  Oh, Aiden.  This is the bad boy that you know you'd be better off with out but just can't break yourself away from even though you just know it's going to end badly for you.  I'll confess, he was my favorite because their relationship reminds me so much of that of my husband and I for the first few years.  All of these men are after our protag.  Shay!  Share the wealth, girl!

THE GRUMBLE-WORTHY:  There was a lot of head hopping here.  Multiple POVs can be confusing, and in this book I counted six.  The big problem is that the changes don't necessarily always add to the storyline; often changing in the middle of scene (usually marked by a chapter change) which could have played out just as well staying with the original narrator.  That being said, Bella did make these changes smooth and seamless.  The first line in every chapter is the name of the person who is narrating so that you aren't left guessing.  And truth-be-told, usually I was so gripped by the story that I couldn't careless who was talking to me.

WHAT WILL STICK WITH ME:  The ending.  Or to be more accurate, the lack of.  Save her legal troubles, there is absolutely no closure.  You don't know who gets the girl, you don't know WTF the ghostie thing is, and actually the last two pages are by far the most exciting of the entire book.  Bella, I see what you did there.  And it worked.  I WILL be stalking your website waiting for the sequel.

If you would like me to review your book, feel free to use the contact form to the right or email me at

Saturday, December 21, 2013

MERRY (belated) PITCHMAS!!!

Hey ya'll! I thought I'd share my great results from the Pitchmas Twitter Party. 

If you aren't familiar with Pitchmas, you're definitely missing out.  It is a fabulous pitching event put on by Jessa Russo and Tamara Mataya where aspiring authors present their book concept to editors and agents in a very limited space.  You can learn more about it here. Both of these ladies deserve a standing ovation for their hard work and even though you can't see it, I'm giving them one!

First and foremost, I LOVED reading the pitches from my fellow aspiring authors.  There were some truly fantastic ideas, ones that I honestly can not wait to see in print so that I can enjoy the full story.  I made some great friends through retweets and compliments, and even if nothing comes out of this I'm eternally grateful for that much.

For me personally, Pitchmas was a great success!  I stuck with the same pitch through out the day, changing punctuation and spacing so that I could reuse it.  I had planned on changing it up, but this pitch got me some really good attention so I figured I wouldn't fix what wasn't broken. 

"24 yr old Eliza discovers her roots in Voodoo royalty, but claiming her throne means giving up her soul mate NA/PNR"

This pitch earned me a grand total of 8 requests.  5 from editors and 3 from agents.  I don't think I even need to say I was blown away, but I totally was.  I didn't end up sending to one of the editors, though, because I did abide by the warning given by the hosts and I checked out everyone I sent just didn't feel right, so I elected to not send to them.  So!  I am 7 requests closer to becoming a legit writer! *backflip*

How did Pitchmas go for you?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

PitchWars update!

I am so excited to tell you all that I have been selected as an alternate in PitchWars!!  The unimaginably talented Cora Carmack brought me onto her team and I couldn't be more honored!

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For me personally, this is a huge milestone and a much needed accomplishment.  I was beginning to doubt myself, so this came at just the right time.  The other mentors that I had submitted to have already sent me phenomenally helpful advice and even though I'm still waiting on Cora's response I thought I would share something that I have figured out based on what the others had to say:

I had written my query letter as if the person reading had already read the book.  Bad Mary!

None of them said this directly, but from their input it was clear as day.  SO!  What else to do but fix it, right?  I stayed up all night re-writing my query until I was totally satisfied with it and I'll also be sending it to a couple of beta-readers to double check that it makes sense out of context.  PitchWars is already paying off for me, personally, and I would like to extend my greatest thanks to Brenda Drake for making it possible.  And, of course it goes with out saying, I am eternally grateful to ALL of the mentors that gave their time to help the next generation of writers.  You're all awesome! 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Where it all began....

Long before I began writing actual full-length stories I was obsessed with reading.  One of my fondest memories growing up was hiding under my blanket with my flashlight trying to finish just one more chapter after bedtime before I was found out.  When I was in elementary school anything that introduced a new world would do, one of my all time favorites was THE BFG (a book I still have and read to my children at any opportunity).  As a teenager, racy romance novels were my go-to.  Now?  I don't have a neat little box of preferred genres anymore.  I read anything and everything; from spine chilling horrors, to feel good, mushy love stories, if the concept is fresh and the characters are raw, I can get into it.
I always wanted to ask Joanna Lindsey and my other favorites where their inspiration came from.  I don't remember a time where I wasn't writing poetry or short stories, but it wasn't until my mid-twenties that an idea hit me so hard I could actually pull a full novel length piece of work out of it.  My first novel (which I titled THE ROMAN MONGREL) was a historical fiction novel about a princess from Galatia that was captured by the Romans.  I came across her story on the web from an article called "Princesses Too Badass for Disney" and I fell in love with her at once.  There was so little information about her available and I was appalled to see that such a brave woman never had a book written to tell her story.  But then after thinking about it, women in literature have sadly been backed into a corner, you're hard-pressed to find a book with a truly strong woman without a man behind her doing the pushing.  That's when I started my mission:  I was going to write a series about women that history swept under the rug.
And so it began.  I wrote the novel and sat on it for a while before deciding to query agents about 6 months ago.  I only queried a few before an idea for a fantasy novel distracted me and I lost sight of my original goal.  I'm still in love with the book that started it all, but my other work is just as exciting for me.  
It should be noted that I just recently got a reply back from the first novel requesting a full (second full request out of the six queries that I sent, woohoo!), so there is still hope that it will see the light of day.  The fantasy book that I have titled HEALING THE BAYOU is also out on full request and it is this novel that I have entered in PitchWars.  
I would love to hear where my fellow PitchWars writers inspiration came from.  Tell me your story!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

First Post and Mentee bio!

I've been kicking around the idea of starting a blog for a long time and finally gave in because of #PitchWars.  Reading all of my fellow writer's bios got me thinking that perhaps now is as a good as time as any. So, let's kick off the awkward introductions!

My name is Mary Bernsen, and I'm the proud mother of two beautiful children.  I'm also an aspiring author that writes fantasy and historical fiction, both with strong romantic elements, and I currently have a couple of fulls out with agents (squeee!).

Outside of books and such, I'm an obsessive couponer (I'm that lady you really don't want to be stuck behind at the grocery store) and have made a hobby out of passing the savings knowledge along to others.  I have a wicked phobia of frogs and anything with wings, which is really strange considering I'm such a sucker for animals that my local vets have my number on speed dial for when they need a foster mom.

I'm starting this blog to sort of chronicle the inhumane process of becoming a legit writer and hope to make many friends along the way.  I'll post resources that I come across that I find helpful and interesting if I think you will, too.