Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mojo Queen blog tour

Two weeks, twenty-four stops, and prizes! The Mojo Queen virtual book tour kicks off next week. Here's the schedule of dates and blogs:

August 2

Fang-tastic Books
Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews
Tyra's Book Addiction

August 3

Jacqueline Paige

August 4

Theresa Stillwagon
Ravencraft's Romance Realm
Reading Between the Wines

August 5

Paranormal Opinion
Books to the Sky

August 8

My Need to Read

August 9

Isabel Roman

August 10

Book Flame
Romancing the Darkside
Bite Club

August 11

Authors by Authors
Getting Naughty Between the Stacks

August 12

One Day at a Time
I Smell Sheep
Book Lover's Hideaway

August 13

Everyone Loves a Sinner
Nicki J. Markus

August 15

All Things Books
Roxanne's Realm

The tour is hosted by Bewitching Book Tours. There will be interviews, guest posts, reviews, and at the end of the tour a bunch of giveaways - free copies of Mojo Queen, signed cover flats, and this grand prize:

Get your hoodoo on with this Mojo prize pack! It includes a signed cover flat, a CD of the Mojo Queen playlist, a voodoo doll, a protective mojo hand, Spirit of Good Luck incense, a seven day spell candle, and a bag of graveyard dirt. There will be a chance to enter at each tour stop and winners will be announced here a few days after the tour.

This will be the biggest promotion I've done so far and I'm really excited about it. I'll be posting links to the stops here as well as social networks and I hope y'all will join me as I get my mojo workin'.

UPDATE: I've created events to let people know about the blog tour on both Facebook and Goodreads! The events are public so even if you're not on my friends list you can attend.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Radio Free Sonya: 27 Club edition

I should have been a dee jay. Seriously. Over the years I have made some awesome mixed tapes, compilation CDs, and digital playlists. Once in a while I'd label them Radio Free Sonya, with a more specific subtitle. (Title cribbed from Radio Free Europe, of course.) One night last week RFS was spontaneously resurrected on Facebook, then I did it again last night. Since it seems like there's never enough music posts here to suit me, I'm bringing RFS to the blog. Here's the 27 Club edition ->

Robert Johnson, the big bad voodoo daddy of the blues. Legend has it he sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads at midnight to play guitar, but the reality is he spent hours practicing at night in graveyards. A true journeyman blues player, he never stayed in one place long. He left behind 29 songs and an enduring myth when he died, most likely poisoned by a jealous husband, in 1938. He was 27 years old.

Rolling Stones founding member Brian Jones played the sitar on this song. Like the rest of the Stones and many other English musicians of the era, Jones was a fan of American blues. Also like many of his contemporaries, Jones suffered from drug and alcohol addiction. Eventually he left the Stones - less than a month later he was dead, drowned in his own pool. He was 27 years old.

Little Wing is not only my favorite Jimi Hendrix song, it's one of my all time favorite songs, period. Little known fact about Jimi - he was an Army veteran. While stationed at Fort Campbell in the sixties he would frequently come down to Nashville and play in the R&B clubs on Jefferson. He died in 1970. He was 27 years old.

Port Arthur, Texas native Janis Joplin had one of the most distinctive voices of her generation. This recording of Me & Bobby McGee, a song written by her lover and friend and fellow Texan Kris Kristofferson, is one of her best known hits. Heroin took her life in 1970. She was 27 years old.

Jim Morrison and the Doors - LA Woman, because we need a little sex with our drugs and rock and roll. Morrison's grave in a cemetery in Paris, France is a popular tourist destination. He died in 1971. He was 27 years old.

Sometimes its too hard to talk about Kurt. Last night was one of those times. He was 27 years old.

The Back to Black album blew me away. I loved Amy's voice and her updated brand of soul. The toll addiction took on her was sad to see but I always hoped she'd be able to come out on top - she had such an amazing voice to share with the world. I think that self-destructive people who seek oblivion are really seeking peace in the only way they know how. Amy found oblivion, I hope peace follows. She was 27 years old.

Russell Brand contributed a sad, heartbreaking article to the Guardian about the loss of Amy Winehouse. It's beautifully written and he makes excellent points about the need to treat addiction like a disease instead of a choice. Why anyone would think someone would choose to live that way is beyond me, and I can't help but wonder if the insistence that it's a choice is an excuse to give up on someone. An excuse to treat them like they're less than human.

And I would like to add this: I know there are other things going on in the world. Terrible, serious things. Because I choose to talk about one thing rather than another does not mean I'm not aware, or that I don't care. All it means is this is what I'm talking about right now. I have no use for judging who is "deserving" of notice, of compassion and grief. That is also an excuse, something people do because they themselves don't have a big enough heart to feel more than one thing at a time and it's too hard for them to understand that sometimes the ones they deem "undeserving" are the ones who need our compassion the most. Compassion is not a finite resource, or at least it shouldn't be. I'm saying this because there's been some ugly stuff said online about Amy and her addiction problems, and there's been a lot of really stupid stuff said by self-appointed Tragedy Police who want to scold anyone who expresses grief over the "wrong" tragedy. About all I've got for those people is a big steaming cup of STFU.

But let's get back to music, shall we? As I was posting these videos on Facebook late last night one of my friends was still up and posted a good one of her own. I shared it as the coda to my playlist and I'll do the same here - K's Choice, I'm Not An Addict. But I am an addict of a sorts - to late night rock and roll.

This has been the 27 Club edition of Radio Free Sonya. RFS will return, at some undetermined time, possibly with some light-hearted crappy boy band tunes. (kidding) Show's over, last call, you don't have to go home but you can't stay here. Until next time!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Surprise reviews

I found three reviews for Mojo Queen I didn't know about. Even with Google Alerts set up, I guess sometimes you have to do your own search. Searching my name and title found these reviews for me. (Authors - even if you feel ridiculous doing it, Googling your name and titles is something you should do once in a while. It helps you find both good and bad stuff you need to know about. Good being surprise reviews, bad being things like piracy. Like promo, it's just something we have to do.) So without further ado, here are links and snippets.

The Pen and Muse Book Reviews:
"With a solid lead character, Clark’s writing is well-paced with strong intrigue and a balance of introspective dialog and compelling narration."

Sizzling Hot Book Reviews:
"A fast paced, action packed story."

Livin' Life Through Books:
"An intriguing and addicting novel."

Awesome! My day, nay, my entire week is made!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Author Spotlight: Nerine Dorman

I haven't been doing any Author Spotlight posts lately because, well, I'm lazy. And I'm trying to do too much at once and blah blah blah. But I miss having friends over. I decided I wanted to get back into shining a spotlight on other authors and their awesome work and I'm going to start today.

Today's unsuspecting victim is Nerine Dorman. Nerine is from Cape Town, South Africa, and she never sleeps. Well, sometimes on Twitter she claims she's going to go get some sleep, but I don't believe her. She is far too busy with her day job and her editing obligations and too prolific a writer to ever sleep.

Nerine's latest release is called The Namaqualand Book of the Dead.

How far will you travel to lay your dead to rest?

Struggling to come to terms with her boyfriend Aidan’s death, ChloĆ« is ill prepared to deal with the violent murder of his best friend. When tantalizing evidence suggests there is more to Aidan’s apparent death than meets the eye, ChloĆ« will not let her lack of material resources keep her from uncovering the truth, even if the truth proves far more dangerous and with a far more sinister nature than she bargained for.

Here's what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

This is a darkly romantic and moody take on love and grief and how far a person can be driven by the combination of those two overwhelming emotions. The writing itself is evocative and downright beautiful in places. Chloe is a character that inspires a lot of sympathy and I was torn between wanting to see her find what she wanted or find what was best for her. The South African setting is so fully realized it's almost another character. All in all, a good read that left me wanting more.

Highly recommended, y'all. Go pick this up.

She's also got a couple of free reads that are available. Just My Blood Type is a terrific short story Nerine co-wrote with Carrie Clevenger.

Romance author Therese von Willegen is bored out of her mind in her motel room. When she receives a mysterious text message telling her to meet a stranger at a bar called Pale Rider, she isn't at all prepared for the hunk of tall, dark and looming who's waiting for her.

Xan Marcelles thinks it's quite amusing when a literary agent asks him to interview her author. After all, he is pretty darn sure he is obscure as hell in Pinecliffe, Colorado. What appeal could the bassist in the band, Crooked Fang, have to an author?

But then again, mind you, he's also a vampire.

Just My Blood Type is available as a free download here.

And just today Nerine started posting a serial on her blog called On An Empty Shore. A "monster mash-up" horror story about what happens to vampires after the zombie apocalypse, the first installment made me want to hide. So of course I can't wait until next Tuesday when she releases the next chapter!

Nerine Dorman is definitely an author to keep your eye on as she plays with the boundaries of genre fiction. You can follow her on her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and various other social networks. Nerine is everywhere, because she never sleeps.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

U2 360 in Nashville

We had our tickets since the day they went on sale back in October but somehow it didn't seem real until we were walking toward the stadium at Vanderbilt and I got my first glimpse of the top of The Claw reaching toward the sky. That was the first of many OMG! moments of the night.

The Claw

The temperature was somewhere above ninety and the only thing between us and the hot sun was a layer of Nashville smog. Didn't matter a bit. Normally I am extremely nervous in crowds but it didn't bother me we were in a throng of forty-five thousand people (the show was sold out). But oh the wait ... finally Florence and the Machine took the stage as the opening act. I like Florence and figured she would put on a good show, and I was right. That's one lady who doesn't need AutoTune. I was especially glad she did my favorite of her songs, Howl. After a forty-five minute set Florence said goodbye to the audience and to U2 - this was their last night with the 360 tour. Then we had about another forty-five minutes of the crew changing out the set and waiting for dark. Canned music played during that time of course and as the minutes ticked by it got louder. Finally - FINALLY! - the canned music reached full volume and played David Bowie's Space Oddity. They could not have picked a more appropriate song to go with that amazing stage. Partway through smoke began to billow out and the giant screen came back to life with the image of Bono, Adam, Larry, and Edge walking toward the stage.

Here, go watch this awesome video of the band's entrance and part of their first song.

They opened with Even Better Than the Real Thing, which set the pattern for a set heavily drawn from the nineties albums Achtung Baby and Zooropa. Which are my two favorite U2 albums, so I was thrilled. Real Thing was followed by The Fly, which was so freaking awesome I can't even tell you! Next was a fantastically sexy version of Mysterious Ways which included some cool pre-filmed footage on the giant screen of a beautiful naked dancer. It was shot in a way that looked very reminiscent of the old main title sequences of James Bond movies.

Mysterious Ways

Next up: Until the End of the World, I Will Follow, and Get On Your Boots. Sadly I must report that even an energetic live performance cannot save that hot mess of a song Get On Your Boots. But I like my heroes full of flaws and contradictions, so it's all good.

The best of the night shots I got with my crappy phone.

The first Joshua Tree track of the night was I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. This led into one of the most amazing moments of the night, and probably the entire tour. Here's a little background for those not as versed in U2 lore as I am: for their early nineties album Zooropa they wrote a song called The Wanderer with Johnny Cash in mind, and Cash performed the vocals on the album. It is a mesmerizing, atmospheric song about faith in a post-apocalyptic world. And Saturday U2 performed it live for the very first time, in honor of Johnny Cash. Bono even did his best to channel Cash's deep rumbling voice. It was a lovely way to pay tribute to both Cash and Nashville, Music City USA and the home of country music.

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For & The Wanderer

After that was a beautiful acoustic version of one of my all time favorites, Stay (Faraway, So Close). "It's just the bang and the clatter / as an angel runs to ground." I've always loved that line and it was wonderful to hear the song performed live, especially such a delicate acoustic arrangement.

At recent tour dates they're been dedicating Beautiful Day to Congresswoman Gabby Giffords as she recovers from being shot in the head by a madman at a Tucson campaign event. Her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, filmed a bit for the band while aboard the International Space Station on his final trip to space for NASA. Hearing Kelly say the lines from Space Oddity "tell my wife I love her very much / she knows" and thinking of the hell that couple have been through made for a powerful moment. One of these days I'm going to write an insanely long post about how U2 is not only one of the biggest rock bands in the world but also the biggest Christian band in the world. The hope and optimism in songs like this will be part of my thesis.

Beautiful Day 

Next up were Elevation, Pride, and a stirring version of Miss Sarajevo with Bono singing the Italian verses performed by Pavarotti in the original studio recording. And then Zooropa! Aah, I so love their pseudo German techno phase! City of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, I'll Go Crazy, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Scarlet, and Walk On finished out the main part of the performance. Then it was time for the first of two encores. One, a song that always brings me to a standstill, followed by part of Amazing Grace. Y'all, this being Nashville everyone knew the words to that one and sang along. Forty-five thousand people singing Amazing Grace! Another really lovely moment.

During that song I heard a shimmering note that made my heart stop and I knew what was next. If you accept the idea that rock and roll is an ecstatic religion (and I do) then surely this was the moment that Brother Love and his traveling salvation show lifted a stadium full of people up to the mountaintop and showed them a glimpse of a place that has to be believed to be seen.

Amazing Grace & Where The Streets Have No Name

One more encore, beginning with - I kid you not - Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill, a song they did for a Batman movie years ago. Bono had changed into a jacket with red lights up the sleeve and swung around on a target-shaped microphone that had to have been at least the size of a steering wheel. This is another thing I love about U2 - they didn't leave their earnestness behind during their nineties era, they just ... finally accepted they were rock stars, is the best way I can think to put it as I write this at nearly two in the morning. They were used to standing in the light in those early albums where they wore their hearts on their sleeve and bared their souls to anyone who would listen. During the Zoo years they learned to dance with their own shadows, testing their limits as musicians and as people and ultimately crafting an amalgam of the two that's been evident in every album since the millennium. Which is why they can go from a gloriously cheesy number like this into one of their greatest classics.

With or Without You

The last song of the night was Moment of Surrender, one of only three songs they performed from their latest album, No Line on the Horizon. Horizon has not been as big a success as they're used to, although the 360 tour has been breaking records left and right. They have thirty years of material to pull from and that's why they can still sell out stadiums all over the world. More than just the rattle and hum and the bang and the clatter of great rock and roll, U2 have always stood for something more, for trying to do something positive with all that incredible energy. They don't always succeed, and sometimes they do truly stupid things. There's a story about Bono once leaving his hat somewhere and paying to have it flown to him - supposedly in its own airplane seat, not packed in a box and shipped. And I flatly refuse to speak of that Spider Man musical. As I said I like my heroes to be real people, flawed and contradictory. The point is they keep trying, both with their music and with their philanthropic work. As long as they keep trying, keep striving, they'll be a band worth listening to. For Moment of Surrender the house lights were turned off and Bono asked everyone to open their cell phones and light up the venue like the twinkling stars of the Milky Way. It was a lovely way to end the evening.

Except the evening wasn't quite over yet.

Bono has said good night, the band has waved goodbye and clearly the show is over, but then he stops and appears to be talking to someone in the audience just in front of the stage. You could hear him saying something that sounded like "what do you want to play?" Then stage hands are helping this guy onto the stage and Bono has his signature green guitar brought over for the guy to play. Bono asks what his wife's name is and the guy says Andrea. I will forever think of him as Andrea's Husband. Then he starts to play and Bono sings All I Want Is You, with Adam, Larry, and Edge having returned to their instruments. Andrea's Husband hands the guitar back to Bono, but Bono gives him his guitar! The guitar he's played for decades! OMG!

It wasn't until the next day that I read in two places the reason Andrea's Husband needed help getting to the stage and what attracted Bono's attention in the first place: he was holding up a sign that said "blind guitar player."

I've waited a long time to see U2. This was their first tour stop in Nashville in thirty years, the 100th show of the 360 tour with just nine more to go. After this, who knows. Their set list may seem like they're looking back but judging from their attitude they believe strongly in the future and I have no doubt there will be another album. They usually take a few years between albums now so the wait is on. The really big acts, the few that are left, so rarely come to Nashville or Memphis that I don't expect them to bring another tour here so I knew this would probably be my one chance to see them. They put on an amazing show and we had a great time. I love it that people posted so many great videos of the show to YouTube - every one I linked here is worth watching and there are plenty more. Isn't that incredible that people can take such high quality videos with their little handheld cell phones? And then share them online with pretty much the entire planet? We have quickly come to take that for granted but when you stop and think about it, it's really something. It kind of makes you wonder what else is possible, what seemingly simple yet amazing thing is on the horizon? And then I hear in the back of my head the future needs a big kiss.

Such is the power of Bono, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr, and the Edge - despite my better judgement they can even make me (almost) like that hot mess of a song Get On Your Boots.

Bravo, U2! 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

*incoherent fangirl squee here*

Big plans for tonight - four dodgy Irishmen await me in Nashville.

So. Very. Excited!