Friday, December 31, 2010

Giveaway - Win a signed copy of ALMOST HUMAN ~ The First Trilogy

January 1-7
Melanie Nowak has agreed to donate a signed copy of ALMOST HUMAN.  The winner can choose from either the 3-in-1 edition of ALMOST HUMAN or the three separate books plus some bookmarks. 
One entry per person so everyone has an equal chance and because I don't like to count up multiple entries. :)
Rules to enter:
1.) Just leave a comment with your name and email address.  If you don't want to leave your email address leave your Twitter, or Facebook details.  Just make sure I'm able to contact you if you win so I can get get your information to Melanie Nowak so she can contact you and mail your prize.
2.) You don't have to follow the blog to win, but feel free to follow if you like what you see and leave any comments on reviews or posts that you find interesting.  :)
3.) Giveaway will end on January 7th at 11:59 PM. (Central Time) 

*I'll pick the name of the winner out of a hat/box or whatever jar is convenient. 
Winner will be posted January 8th.

***You will be receiving your prize from the author.  Prizes will only be mailed within the U.S., International residents can enter, but have to pay their own shipping if they're the winner.***

Interview - Melanie Nowak, author of "ALMOST HUMAN"

Today at Bibliognome we have author Melanie Nowak who wrote the great trilogy Almost Human that I've been featuring here all week.  Melanie was nice enough to answer my questions and agreed to have a giveaway which will start tomorrow, so don't forget to come back tomorrow and read all about it.


Bibliognome:  Which of your characters has been your favorite to write about?

Melanie: Being asked to choose a favorite character, is like trying to pick a favorite child! I can’t choose one among the others. Honestly, I really am all of the characters in this book! It may sound strange because my characters are pretty diverse, but it’s true. Each of these characters has been taken from the seed of something within myself. I have been lucky enough in my life never to have been sexually abused or addicted to drugs - but everything that goes into making up the personalities for my characters, how they feel and react to things, has come from some little grain of dealing with something in my own life - magnified. At some point in my life I have totally identified with and "been" these people. Even if it didn't outwardly show - this is how I felt and wanted to react.

I wondered a little at first, whether I would be able to write a believable ‘guy’, but when you come down to it, we are all just people. I take care to really examine motives throughout each scene, and to try and observe and notice things the way I think a man would when writing from their perspective. It’s actually rather fun writing for my guys Cain and Ben, and stepping into the male point of view.

Outwardly I’m sure my friends and family would say I am most like Felicity. Physically, I have modeled her after myself; intellectually and emotionally she is very much the girl that I was at that age. I was usually pretty quiet and shy, constantly reading my fantasies rather than trying to live them out. Because of that, I identify very closely with Felicity, but I have to admit that it’s often more fun to write for my other ladies, Allie and Sindy. Allie is much more sassy and daring than I have ever been in life, and Sindy… well let’s just say it; She can be an evil bitch – and who wouldn’t think that was fun to write?

Bibliognome: Where did you get the idea to have your vampire's be venomous/be addictive?

Melanie: A few things came together to bring ALMOST HUMAN’s venomous vampires to life (or undead death, if you will). I’ve always been interested in bats. Vampire bats have a anticoagulant in their saliva called “draculin” (named after Count Dracula!) that keeps blood from clotting. I had the idea that such a thing would be useful for vampires as well. It would also be useful if they had something to keep the victim calm, like a drug.

I always wondered about a vampire’s ability to put victims in thrall. In old movies, vampires are always able to hypnotize people, and it’s never really explained. People are just ‘under their power’. I always wondered – why? How does it work? I put those questions together with the anticoagulant/drug idea, and took it further. What if vampires could inject their victims with venom – like a snake? Only the venom would not be deadly poison, but a combination of drugs that kept blood from clotting, kept the victim calm and even willing, and also could mark territory for the vampire – leaving a mark that other vampires could see. The vampire could then use the existence of this ‘drug’ in their victim’s system, to put them in thrall as well. 

The idea of venomous vampires seemed so logical to me, that I assumed for sure that someone else had done it already. I began searching my library for a book like that, so I could read it! This was probably in the late 80’s and there weren’t very many vampire books around at that time. I never found what I was looking for, and I filed the idea away. It never occurred to me to write it myself, LOL.

Around that time, I discovered Anne Rice’s vampire chronicles and absolutely loved them. That was the first time I read something from the vampire’s point of view. The way that she captured emotions and described surroundings was mesmerizing to me, and I really connected with her story. I’m also a huge fan of the T.V. series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. Joss Whedon is a genius! That said – in 2003, towards the end of the show, I started disliking some decisions the writers made for the characters. I understood their vision, but I also saw missed opportunities. I would have done things differently.

That started me thinking of how I would write a story of my own, with my own characters, incorporating my venomous vampire idea. None of this was written down, just daydreamed during housework. Then one day I realized that a lot of the ideas I had were really good, and it depressed me to think that it would all just be forgotten. So, I sat down one night at the computer, to write out a few things so I wouldn’t forget, and could look back at them one day. The scenes just came pouring out and before I knew it, I’d been up writing almost the whole night! That’s when I realized that I had a real story to tell, and wanted to write it all out from beginning to end. That is how my ALMOST HUMAN vampires were born.

Bibliognome: Will Cain's specialness be explored more in future books?

Melanie: Most definitely! Each of my characters has special abilities and facets to their personalities, paranormal and human, that make them unique. They evolve throughout each book, being shaped by their experiences, learning more about themselves and showing us different sides of themselves. Their journeys are far from over! At the moment I have 12 books planned for the ALMOST HUMAN series, with a spin off novel to come after, that might begin a new series of its own!

Bibliognome: I love the ending of each book, so which one of the three books in this trilogy had your favorite ending?

Melanie: I’m glad you enjoyed the endings. To tell you the truth, when I wrote the first trilogy, I wasn’t writing it to be published, I was writing the story for myself. Originally it was one long story that was more like a screen play than a novel, and it was later broken into three parts for publishing. Luckily the story did lend itself well to the transition, because each section really does have its own ‘flavor’ and focus – it was always a three part story, but it was meant to be read together. The result is that the ‘ending’ of each book isn’t a clearly defined ending to the book per say – it’s more like the end of an act or scene in a play. You know there is more coming and things are not completely resolved. I think my favorite ending is probably that of EVOLVING ECSTASY, because although bittersweet, to me it is the natural end to that part of the story and what is meant to be for that chapter of the characters lives. It was also fun writing the little twist end of the epilogue!

Bibliognome: What are you writing about next?

Melanie: I have been thinking about my characters and their story for years, and have already planned their future for many books to come. I have decided to write my ALMOST HUMAN series as a succession of trilogies. The series will continue chronologically with the same characters throughout, but each trilogy will have a new focus and storyline that follows through its three books. Each trilogy is fairly self-contained, allowing those three books to be read separately from the rest of the series, but will be more enjoyable if the trilogies are read in order, illustrating the full history of the characters.

Writing the series as a succession of trilogies gives readers the opportunity to feel a sense of completion during points in the story, even though the series will still continue for many books to come. As I said earlier, I’ve planned 4 trilogies for the ALMOST HUMAN series, meaning 12 books in all, and then I have plans for a spin off novel, which may result in a series of its own.

Right now I am writing Volume 2 ~ ALMOST HUMAN ~ The Second Trilogy, which will be titled: DESCENDANT OF DARKNESS.

Bibliognome: Who is your favorite author and what do you enjoy reading the most?

Melanie: Before I had begun writing, my genres of choice were fantasy, sci/fi & horror. I was never interested in reading romance, because the first few I had read, had very undeveloped characters and more sex than I had felt necessary based on the emotional underdevelopment of the story. I don’t remember what I had read, and I’m sure not all romance is like that, but it turned me off to the genre. I was much happier reading sci/fi fantasy with more interesting characters, that really made me think. I had never heard of paranormal romance or urban fantasy at the time.

After I published my own books and began the laborous adventure of marketing and promotion, I was introduced to the wealth of new paranormal stories, in Urban Fantasy & Paranormal Romance, genres I didn’t even realize existed. However, difficult as it was, I decided that I would not read any of them. I had already written my first three books, being completely unaware of new popular series such as Anita Blake, Sookie Stackhouse, Vampire Academy & Twilight, and one thing many readers praised was my unique approach to the genre. Rather than risk unintentionally influencing my writing style, I made the decision not to read any PNR or Urban Fantasy books until I am finished with my series.

The only vampire books I have ever read, are Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Anne Rice’s wonderful Vampire Chronicles, and Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. These days, writing fulfills all of my fantasy needs, and if I do feel I want to escape for a short break, I’ll read a sci/fi fantasy book.

I love series! Once I get invested in a world, a premise, or certain characters, I am usually insatiable in my pursuit of more of their story. I also really like books that are a bit morally ambiguous; I like to be challenged to make my own decisions about the characters. I like imperfect heroes, and villains you can empathize with. I also tend to stick with authors that I like, and read almost everything they write. Some of my favorite authors and their ‘stand outs’ for me:

Anne Rice: Vampire Chronicles series
Jack L. Chalker: Well of Souls series, Dancing Gods series
Michael Crichton: Jurassic Park series, Congo
Piers Anthony: Apprentice Adept series, Xanth series
Douglas Adams: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series
Stephen King: Pet Semetary, The Shining
Pamela C. Dean: The Secret Country series
Steven R. Boyett: Ariel
Elizabeth Marie Pope: The Perilous Gard

Bibliognome: What is your favorite word to say or write?

Melanie: What an interestingly odd question! I don’t think anyone has ever asked me that, and I have never thought about it before. The word venomous has a very exciting feel to it for me. It carries connotations of danger; something you should stay far away from – but even as a child I was always drawn to creatures that most people were afraid of, so for me it’s very intriguing.

Bibliognome: What to you is the best part of the whole writing process?

Melanie: As much as I truly love interacting with readers, and having discussions of choices my characters make and things they go through that others can empathize with, that isn’t my favorite part.

My absolute favorite part of writing has to be living the story. I feel as though I completely transform myself into these characters and emotionally put myself through everything that they experience. I guess I’m a bit masochistic, because my characters are sometimes put through the wringer! Writing is so cathartic for me though. I can take every bit of hurt, anger, depression, laughter and love that I have inside me, and use it to take my characters through their experiences and fuel their emotions. Inside I feel like I am an overly emotional and sensitive person – though I don’t always let it show. Living out these things through my characters gives me an outlet for all of that pent up emotion. I need that in my life.

Bibliognome: What's your biggest goal for the upcoming year?

Melanie: My only goal for the upcoming year in terms of my series is to finish writing the next book: DESCENDANT OF DARKNESS, and have it translate to the page the way I currently see and feel it in my mind and heart. I want to take my characters further in their journey, and live and learn with them along the way.

I don’t really set materialistic goals for myself. Of course it would be nice if I could sell more books, get my novels carried in some stores they aren’t represented in yet, and reach out to readers who haven’t yet been introduced to my venomous vamps, but I can’t really focus on that kind of thing. (The bill collectors might think I should be focused on it, but I’m just not, LOL)

Bibliognome: Anything else that you would like to let people know?

Melanie: ALMOST HUMAN is an independently published series, meaning that I handle every single aspect of it completely by myself with no outside help. There are of course pros and cons to that: I don’t have financial backing for a large promotional campaign, and I’m called upon to do things for the books that I don’t have much experience with, but it has been an incredible journey for me, and I am extremely proud to be able to present my vision for the series to readers without it being changed to suit the ideas and formats of a publisher. This series is my raw emotional relation of these characters and their lives.

Like most of my readers, I am a working mom with humble ambitions. However, I have this story inside of me that is just burning to be told, so I am following my heart and putting it down on paper to share with others. My favorite part of reading is being able to connect with a character or idea and take it with me after I’ve finished the book. I hope that my story resonates with my readers, and gives them something to take with them in life – an interesting new idea, a comforting thought, or even just a friend to take off the shelf and visit when you need them.

My favorite quote that really sums up the part books have played for me in life:

 "Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." Charles W. Eliot

I hope that my characters are a ‘constant friend’ to others as they are to me.

Now some quick questions:
         1.) venomous vampire or regular vampire? 
Venomous of course! 
         2.) pop or soda?

         3.) silver or gold?
I like gold better with my skin tone – but the designs I am drawn to are always in silver
         4.) Starbursts or Skittles?
Skittles (but I’d rather have Bottle Caps!)

         5.) pen or pencil?
Pencil, it must be really sharp though!

I would sincerely like to thank Becky of Bibliognome for giving me the opportunity to introduce everyone to my venomous vamps!
Currently available books for the series are:

ALMOST HUMAN ~ The First Trilogy
Volume 1: Fatal Infatuation
Volume 2: Lost Reflections
Volume 3: Evolving Ecstasy

ALMOST HUMAN ~ The Second Trilogy
Volume 1: Born to Blood

I am now writing Volume 2: Descendant of Darkness, for the second trilogy, and hope to release that book in 2011.

ALMOST HUMAN ~ The First Trilogy was featured in the New Title Showcase of Book Expo America in May 2010. At that time, the series became available Internationally in ebook and paperback, online and in your local bookstore – if it’s not on the shelf – ask for it!

You can purchase ALMOST HUMAN through Amazon at:

Or at a discount through my website, where you can also read free sample chapters:

Thanks so much for having me & happy reading!
~ Melanie Nowak

Top Ten Books I Read in 2010

My Favorite Books of 2010

Evie is a fun character and I really love that she has a pink taser that she named Tasey.  This book has my favorite use of a fake curse word, bleep or bleeping.  The mystery in this book was well done and there were some surprisingly scary situations.  I can't wait to see what happens to Evie next.

A fast fun read where you really care about the characters.  It's great that her personal situations and school life are seen just as much as her superpowers.
I like Simon Canderous more and more with each new book.  The humor in these books is definitely my cup of tea.  Some great mysteries are solved in this book.
This series continues to surprise me.  Justine continues to grow as a character and there are some surprising secrets that are revealed.  The ending of this book was insane, I was cursing outload when I read it, not in a bad way though the ending just makes you yearn for the next book.
This book is a favorite because of the originality of a vampire wanting to be human.  It makes the reader look differently at everyday things that they may take for granted.
Loved so much about this book.  Calla a female alpha is so sure of herself and fights for what she believes in.  It was great to read a love triangle and see legitimate reasons why she would pick either Ren or Shay.  This book grabs you right from the first pages and just draws you right in.
Such an interesting take on changeling mythology.  This is a true story about trying to fit in but with plenty of paranormal twists along the way.
This was one of the most original books that I read this year.  Loved the whole time travel aspect and mysteries that have to be solved.  There are so many superb quotes and lines throughout this book, I had at least thirty pages bookmarked to go back to.

The book that introduces the world to Katherine "Kitty" Cat and the greatness that is Jeff Martini and the other A-Cs.  My favorite thing about this series besides the humor and intense situations is that you end up caring about every single character that you meet.
Such an awesome sequel, a definite 5 out of 5 gnomes (I'll post my review soon).  I don't think I've ever actually laughed out load so much during a book. 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Veritable Vampires

ALMOST HUMAN by Melanie Nowak
*Received this book from the author for review

Overall the whole trilogy gets a fantastic 4 out of 5 gnomes for having intriguing characters and vampires who have a lot of personality.  I really like how this trilogy is set up because each book leads right into the next and you never know what's going to happen next so you end up getting drawn right into the story.  Each chapter is set up in the beginning almost as if it's a play or on TV.  It can vary among the chapters but you learn everything from who's going to be narrating the chapter, what time it is, where this is happening, and what day of the week it is. 

The main character Felicity is the new girl at college and kind of has a whole country mouse turning into a city mouse kind of thing going on.  This country mouse is being introduced to the fact that vampires do indeed exist.  Unlike some other recent literary characters that seem fine about vampires existing, Felicity is not sure at first what to think about it.

There is plenty of relationship drama across all three books.  You see the beginning, middle and end of one relationship then the start of another.  Somehow though I don't think that these relationships may stay stable at all.  There are two love interests across the three books.  Ben is the first guy that Felicity meets, he goes to the same college, and works in the The DownTime Café and Bookstore (the same place that she works).  He lives in town with his Dad who's not home a lot.  The reader of course can tell that Ben really like Felicity but of course she has no clue for quite a while.
Cain, an extremely old vampire with a very literal name, ushers Felicity into the world of vampires when he saves her and later when she finds out that he is a vampire.  There interactions are great but he's almost more intriguing as a character when you see his actions and thoughts when he's not around Felicity.  I do like the fact that they both know that the relationship between them has a not so great chance of working out.  Cain has plenty of flaws but Felicity is slow to catch on to that fact.  In the second book the reader gets to see what Cain's life was like before he became a vampire, seeing this glimpse is enlightening to why he is the way he is today.  The relationship of Felicity and Cain is well done even though I did want to slap some sense into one or the both of them at different times.  They even have a whole Ross and Rachel moment thrown into the works which thankfully is brought up in the book.

I like that the author shows the flaws in the vampires that shes created.  It's not easy for a human to have a relationship with these vampires.  They have venom in their saliva and other body fluids so whether they bite someone or kiss them, they'll find themselves becoming addicted to venom and craving it just like a drug.  After being bitten the person is marked as well the property of whichever vampire bit them.  Their venom and bite lets them trace the location of the person they've bit and have some sway on their actions.  The one plus to this is that the human can also sense if the vampire is close.

There is more then one villain but Sindy is the main big bad that starts it all.  She was young when she was turned into a vampire but she has a real thirst for power.  Sindy and her group that she's made into vampires are not practicing the best vampire habits and are pretty noticeable.  Their hassling of people and making of poorly made vampires are the reasons that Cain comes to town in the first place.  He tries to teach vampires the ways that he lives by and if they don't agree he at least tells them to not kill the people that they take blood from.  Complications ensue because of Sindy's actions and that she also wants to be with Cain and Ben.  Because of these feelings of course she doesn't really like Felicity at all.  I have a feeling that Sindy's going to be an important character in the future and I really like that she's not just a one dimensional villain.

Each book ends at a great point but I would recommend reading it as a trilogy.  I love the endings of all three books because they either leave you laughing or contemplating what could happen next.  This is especially true with the end of the third book which shows a promising direction for the future and ends with Felicity finding out some very intriguing information.  These characters were fun to read about and there are still secrets and stories to explore so I'm really looking forward to reading more from Melanie Nowak.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sentence Sneak Peek - Volume 3: Evolving Ecstasy

Evolving Ecstasy: ALMOST HUMAN ~ The First Trilogy ~ (Volume 3) by Melanie NowakThe first sentence from each chapter of Evolving Ecstasy, it's a mini summary of what you can expect to read.

“Felicity felt as though she were on autopilot driving back to Cain’s house.”

“Cain paced the upstairs of his home, waiting to feel Felicity.

Felicity sat in the driveway at Alyson’s and beeped the horn for the third time.”

“Cain rode his motorcycle through the dark streets of the town, much as he had the evening before.”

“Felicity stared out onto the dance floor to try and get rid of that nagging guilty feeling she had over the uncertain future of her relationship with Cain.”

“Cain clicked Sindy’s motel room door shut behind him with a smile.”

“Felicity, Allie, Sindy and Ben headed to the exit on their side of the ballroom, with Ashley trailing behind them.”

“Cain was very relieved to pull Felicity’s car into his driveway and shut the engine.”

“Felicity stepped out into the cold morning air and squinted in the bright sun.”

“Cain sat staring out into the gloomy bar and tried to drown out the thoughts in his head with another swig of rum.”

“Felicity hadn’t worked tonight.”

“Cain left Felicity’s room, almost grateful to leave her presence for a moment to regain his composure.”

“Felicity awoke from her sleep with a comfortable and contented smile.”

“Cain slowed around the curve in the road, wondering again if he should stop for the rest of the night.”

“Felicity lay in bed trying to fall asleep.”

Epilogue: “Felicity awoke to a cardinal singing outside the window in the early morning sunlight.”

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sentence Sneak Peek - Volume 2: Lost Reflections

Lost Reflections: ALMOST HUMAN ~The First Trilogy~ (Volume 2) by Melanie Nowak

The first sentence from each chapter of Lost Reflections, it's a mini summary of what you can expect to read.

As the last blazing colors of sunset faded to deep violet in the sky, Felicity made her way up Alyson‟s front walk and knocked on the door.”

“Cain pulled into the lot at Tommy’s.”

Felicity awoke with a start as she heard Alyson come in the front door.”

“Cain was awakened from a deep sleep by a strong surge of hunger, the thirst for blood.”

“Felicity found herself singing as she got dressed for class.”

“Cain sat in the cafe, drinking his coffee and flipping through the art book he had bought the night before.”

“Felicity took Cain’s arm and they made their way out to the parking lot and his waiting motorcycle.”

“Cain put down his glass and stretched, breaking the narration.”

“Felicity was unsure just how long they sat that way, Felicity sitting on the tablecloth spread over the ground, with her legs curled under her and Cain lying stretched out, with his head in her lap.”

“Cain started up his Harley Davidson and rode out into the night.”

“She was speechless.”

“Cain awoke with the sunset, stretched and smiled as he remembered the comforts and pleasures of the day before.”

“Felicity had returned to school driving her own car (!) with her dad following behind, just in case.”

“Cain awoke from his restless sleep, to lie there in the dark of his room.”

“Felicity eagerly followed Cain downstairs, elated and amazed that she had been brave enough to say the things that she had practiced to herself earlier.”

“Cain and Felicity stood in the doorway of his home, arm in arm, and watched the sun’s brilliant rays dip below the horizon.”

“Felicity started the car and began her drive home.”

“Cain lay in bed with a book.”

“Morning was a welcome thing.”

“Cain lay in bed, waiting for Felicity to arrive.”

“Felicity stood at the register, waiting for Cain to arrive.”

“Cain had been very involved in a conversation with Alyson about false personas and hidden identity traits, when Ben ordered him to go and lock the door.”

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sentence Sneak Peek - ALMOST HUMAN ~ The First Trilogy. Volume 1: FATAL INFATUATION

Fatal Infatuation by Melanie Nowak

The first sentence from each chapter of Fatal Infatuation, it's a mini summary of what you can expect to read.

*I received  the whole trilogy for review from the author.  So tomorrow will be the Sneak Peek for the second book.

Prologue: “Cain surveyed the few patrons of the bar with a practiced eye.”

“Felicity approached the store with a stomach full of butterflies.”

“He had forgotten how good this could be, close physical contact with another person; even if he was letting her beat the hell out of him.”

“Felicity zipped her sweatshirt over her t-shirt, and sat down on the bed to put on her sneakers.”

“The campus was pretty deserted by this time of night.”

“Felicity finished ringing up her customer and stole a glance over at the café as he left.”

“Cain trembled as he fought to control his rage.”

“Felicity was lost.”

“The guy at the door stamped Cain‟s hand without asking for ID.”

“Felicity paused to catch her breath from running, and then opened the door to enter the bookstore.”

“Cain lay in his bed, drifting in and out of sleep.”

“Felicity looked out the window for the umpteenth time into empty darkness.”

“Cain tried to quell the eager anticipation he felt as he entered the bookstore.”

“Felicity sat in the living room with two other girls and Maggie, the R.A., watching television.”

“Cain awoke shortly after sunset.”

“Felicity followed Ben through the woods towards the cemetery, with Cain coming up behind her.”

“Cain was in a fierce mood.”

“Felicity sat at the café counter, as Ben finished straightening up so that they could leave.”

“It was done.”

“Felicity awoke to the blare of her alarm clock.”

“Cain took the last swig of his coffee and closed the book that he had been forcing himself to try and read.”

“Felicity tossed and turned in her bed until she finally awoke.”

“Cain paced his room like the caged beast he felt he was.”

“Felicity looked up from her register to see Allie enter the store.”

“Cain sat in the movie theater and tried to pay attention to the show, again.”

“It was almost time to close, and still no sign of Cain.”

“Tonight would be the night.”

“When Felicity arrived at work for her shift on Saturday, both Harold and Nadine were working in the café.”

“Cain stood aghast and took in the situation with mute horror.”

“When Felicity awoke, it was nearly two o‟clock in the afternoon.”

“Cain sat in the field next to the cemetery, playing with a blade of grass in his hand.”