Gretel is alive and well! Spotlight on P.J. Brackston

Hi all! Long time no see!

Today I have a special treat–a full-on spotlight of an author who is outstanding, in my personal opinion. We have an interview AND a book review–a twofer!

I would like to introduce you to P.J. Brackston, a prolific and talented author, who has granted me some time today to let you get to know more about her. So, without further ado, let’s get down to the interview, shall we?

~~INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR~~

I am so glad to have you here with us today. I don’t often have writers stop by my lair on their own…please excuse the spiders…

Oh, don’t sit there–that’s Fluffy’s chair. You wouldn’t want to make him mad. I’ll just move these dusty old tomes off the settee…

So…first question:  What motivates you to write?

I long ago discovered that it is the writing itself that compels me. Years ago, when I was what I like to think of as pre-published and after yet another rejection letter (yes, they were actual letters in those days) I seriously wondered if I would ever get my books into print. That’s when it struck me; I would always write. Of course it mattered to me that my books be published – not least because I needed to earn a living – but either way, I couldn’t stop.

I think that is quite a liberating moment for a writer, discovering that it is the act of thinking up the story and setting it down, that creative act, that is the real motivation. I honestly think if you haven’t got that, if writing is a means to an end, you will be disappointed.

I could not agree more. Writing is an art, more than a business. Compulsion–definitely. That being said, what was the biggest challenge in creating your books?

I used to say it was time. Managing time. I’m a working mum, I have a partner, a home, pets, family, friends – I am a lucky girl. But of course what that means is writing has to be fitted in around everything else. Of course, if and when your work begins to pay some bills it gets moved higher up the priority list, but still, working from home, being responsible for other little humans, well, there are times when you have to shut that laptop and walk away. And rightly so.

Lately, however, I’ve come to see the finite resource is not time but energy. Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older! Somehow, I think, you can always find the time. When my babies were small I would write while they were out for a walk with their dad, while I was breastfeeding, while we were playing together in the garden. And no, they didn’t even notice such inattentiveness, I’ve asked them! Then later, when I had deadlines to meet and the family were a little older, I’d write during school hours, try to be a mum when they came home, have family dinners, put them to bed, and then start a late shift that would go past midnight.

So, I had/have systems, but I realise now that all this fitting in and snatching time requires huge amounts of energy – mental, physical and emotional. That is what you have to be careful with.

I can’t even imagine trying to write when my kids were small. Funny how, as they grow older, other things take up the time they once used. Making time for writing is a challenge!

OK–getting more specific: Do you have a favorite character or theme?

In the Gretel books of course I strongly identify with the woman herself. That is, with all her flaws – she is slothful, vain, greedy, and an intellectual snob. Luckily for her she is also tremendously clever, brave, resourceful, and loyal. You’d have to ask someone else if I’ve got these traits too!

I like to explore different themes in each book, though I hope I manage to do so subtly. I think that the recurring theme for me in all my books is identity. What makes us what we are? What happens when we are not perceived by others in the way we think of ourselves? What happens when the ‘me’ I need to be is not the person you need me to be? And so on.

Wow–that’s quite philosophical. When I think about it, I can see that in the Gretel books, most definitely.

Do you have any other books in progress, or that you plan to write?

We are just putting the finishing touches to the edits of the next Gretel adventure – The Case of the Fickle Mermaid. This one is due out in January, and sees Gretel and Hans go on a cruise in order to solve the case. I’m also beginning work on the next title in the series, but I don’t want to tell you too much about that one before I’ve written it.

Oh wow–I can hardly wait! Actually, I still need to read the first book in the series too. Well, good–that gives me something to read while waiting.

You have two very different book series, the Brothers Grimm Mysteries and the Witches books. Which came first?

I wrote my first witch book in 2008, several years before Gretel showed up in my imagination. The Witchs Daughter was my take on a historical novel, with a fantasy element, of course. It is quite a dark book in many ways, and the main character lives through tumultuous and tragic events. I then wrote The Winter Witch which is (I hope!) one that pulls at the heartstrings quite a bit.

I shall have to take a look at those.

After that I really felt the need for a change of tone to recharge my creative batteries. I wanted to write something with a strongly comic element. The idea of having a grown up Gretel as a detective just came to me out of nowhere and I wrote the first book in four months flat.

That was fast!

Do you have to be in a particular mood to write for either series? What is the best physical and mental environment for you for each one?

I don’t believe most writers have the time to hang around for a muse who may or may not show up. We can’t mess about getting our pencils in alignment, listening to ambient music, chasing the right mood. I find that the story I am working on is constantly on my mind, whatever I’m doing (there’s that inattentive mother/friend again), so that the second I sit down to write it’s there, at my fingertips. I don’t care if I’m on a train, in the car at the school gate, in a cafe, at home with builders taking the roof off – the only distraction I can’t work through is my children arguing.

Of course, having said that, I would like a quiet little study lined with bookshelves, a beautiful daybed (Gretel has one, why can’t I?), birds singing softly outside the window, and some sort of room service available. I’m sure it would improve my word count no end. Actually no, it wouldn’t, I’d probably just sleep a lot and eat a lot. Good grief, I’d actually miss the interruptions!

I’ve often fantasized about that little study too–and I would have the same result. 

“Taking the roof off”? Okay, there’s a story in that. Perhaps another day.

How did you become an author for Pegasus Books? Do you have any advice for those who would like to follow in your footsteps?

I have a wonderful agent, Kate Hordern, who approached them with my work. They are such a good home for my Gretel books, as they have a brave and creative attitude to taking on writing that does not necessarily fit the norm. It is so important to have an editor who really gets what you’re trying to do, particularly if that is a character as far from the standard heroine of literature as Gretel!

Some publishing houses will accept submissions direct from the author, some won’t. If you don’t have an agent (and I didn’t for my witch books) you need to check the publisher’s policy of looking at manuscripts. Try to identify publishers you genuinely feel would suit you and your work.

Good advice. Such a lot to do when one is trying to get one’s work out there. Give us an idea of what we should both do and avoid in order to become successful.

Do keep going, and avoid giving up! Seriously, you have to have staying power. It took me nine years of writing before I had a novel accepted for publication. That was nine years of selling short stories, submitting work to publishers and agents, entering competitions, applying for grants, completing an MA in Creative Writing, getting pieces of non-fiction included in anthologies, and withstanding the relentless and seemingly endless rejections.

I had a policy (still have, in fact) of allowing myself to wail and moan and stamp my foot when my work was rejected for 24 hours. After that I wasn’t allowed to mention it or think about it again, but had to move on, look hard at the writing, rewrite if necessary, and send it out again. It’s brutal. I still get knocked back on projects, and it still hurts. All I can say is, success is definitely the best revenge. Good luck!

Exactly! Ask any successful author. No one ever got it done the first time. Or usually the second.

I love your website (www.pjbrackston.com). There are so many ways to explore all the offerings. Who was the mastermind behind it?

I had an idea of how I wanted the thing to work, particularly with the Gretel section, but I can’t take all the credit, sadly. I have a very able web team at a company called Orphans, who exhibit saintly amounts of patience with me. I also have a hugely talented illustrator in Adam Fisher, who creates all the fabulous images for the site and for the trailer I put together. I love making book trailers! I’m a frustrated screenwriter really, so they are an indulgence. Maybe one day I’ll get to put Gretel on the silver screen – that would be something.

I could see that! Speaking of which–Gretel has her own twitter handle, @DetectiveGretel. What does she have to say to the world through this definitely un-18th-century Bavarian technology?

Gretel is a woefully fickle tweeter, and I mean to have severe words with her about it. She needs to up her game, but in her defence, she has been very busy with cases lately. When she does tweet, she gives her opinion on current affairs (a constant source of astonishment to her), food, fashion, Hans, Bavaria, fairytales, crime, and anything else that is sufficiently disturbing her to goad her into speaking out. She will also alert anyone who might be interested to reviews, promotions, giveaways, and so on.

Sounds like a very techno-savvy fraulein! I’m not surprised–she is about as modern as someone in her Timmy Chew shoes can be.

So how do ones such as us, your reading audience, catch up with one such as yourself?

I’ve got an author’s Facebook page, which is more active than my website, and I’m developing an interest in Pinterest! Gretel has her own board @paulabrackston. And I have a Goodreads page.

Website:  www.pjbrackston.com

Amazon (P.J. Brackston’s Brothers Grimm Mystery series): http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=P.+J.+Brackston&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=P.+J.+Brackston&sort=relevancerank (they’re in German too!)

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Amazon (Paula Brackston’s witch series):  http://www.amazon.com/Paula-Brackston/e/B004AN2ZVU/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1439954454&sr=1-1

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/worldofpaulabrackston?fref=ts

~~~Author Bio~~~

(taken from her Author page on Amazon)

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Paula Brackston lives in a wild, mountainous part of Wales. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, and is a Visiting Lecturer for the University of Wales, Newport. Before becoming a writer, Paula tried her hand at various career paths, with mixed success. These included working as a groom on a racing yard, a travel agent, a secretary, an English teacher, and a goat herd. Everyone involved (particularly the goats) is very relieved that she has now found a job she is actually able to do properly.
When not hunched over her keyboard in her tiny office under the stairs, Paula is dragged outside by her children to play Swedish tennis on the vertiginous slopes which surround them. She also enjoys being walked by the dog, hacking through weeds in the vegetable patch, or sitting by the pond with a glass of wine. Most of the inspiration for her writing comes from stomping about on the mountains being serenaded by skylarks and buzzards.
In 2007 Paula was shortlisted in the Creme de la Crime search for new writers. In 2010 her book ‘Nutters’ (writing as PJ Davy) was shortlisted for the Mind Book Award. Last year she was selected by the BBC under their New Welsh Writers scheme.

See, I told you she was terrific! And to close today, I would like to give you my opinion, posted on all significant booksites, of the book I decided to review:

~~~Review of “Once Upon a Crime”~~~

(Tah-dah!!)

Remember Gretel? Yes, THAT Gretel. She of the woods-walk-and-bread-crumb-trail. The girl who survived nearly being eaten by a witch. That one. Did you ever wonder what happened to her? After all, psychotherapy isn’t a big deal in 18th-century Bavaria. You got a smack upside the head and a “well, it’s over now so quit crying about it”.

Did she? Get over it, that is. Well, you be the judge. In this story, Gretel is all grown up and working as a detective. Well, she would if she could get the work. Seems the town’s police force and King’s Guard get all the juicy stuff.

She is left with…cats. More specifically, missing cats. If she had her way, the cats would remain missing, but their owner has more money than sense (to Gretel’s way of thinking). The money for all of Gretel’s fine (undersized) fashions, including her Timmy Chew shoes, has to come from somewhere. Not to mention having to pay the enormous tavern tab and the cigar bills for her brother Hans.

Gretel has no idea what she is getting into when she happily and hastily removes the client’s money from her hand. What follows takes her into and out of prison, endangers her life at the hands of a skanky and amorous troll, and puts her into embarrassing positions – usually in front of one of the dreamiest men she has ever seen.

 

Ms. Brackston’s second book in her “A Brothers Grimm Mystery” series is certainly a tribute to the genre. Very much like Jasper Fforde’s “Nursery Crimes” series, but with a twist all her own—in hers, the Grimm brothers’ characters come to life and come of age—and not in any fairy-tale way either. I love how Hansel and Gretel have evolved, and how their own particular hang-ups have shaped their lives.

The author’s writing is so much fun! I love how she has put this book together. In one scene, Gretel is hanging from a gargoyle, and she looks down to see handsome Ferdinand. She fervently believes that he has come racing to save her. But as the conversation continues, she is crestfallen at his words. Then “her crest (was) fallen further”. Later, her “crest (was) now completely fallen.” Writing like that—laugh-out-loud humor—really made this book worth every word.

If you’re looking for a fun mystery, this is definitely it.

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And there you have it. I hope you have enjoyed this Author Spotlight, and I hope you will join me again when I post, well, other things. If I could only find my day planner, I could tell you more…

Oops, Fluffy needs to be fed. Gotta go find something so he doesn’t get any ideas…

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“This Side of the Crypt” – which is better??

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The third installment of The Molly Maddison Series is available now.

From the book cover alone, I think I should like to read the other two as well. But I digress–this blog is about Book Three:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~This Side of The Crypt~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Molly Maddison stands in the arms of Death, at the mercy of those who understand her world far better than she does. A creature of the night has her brother, but Molly will never allow her brother’s captor to take away the only family she has left even if that means damning the universe in the process.

For Molly nothing ever goes as planned. As the enigmatic Levi and the sensual guardian Damon vie for her body and soul, another secret of her past is revealed that just may shed some light on who and what Molly is along the part she is expected to play in this new world.

As the future unfolds, Molly comes face-to-face with soul shattering truth—about herself, her family, her best friend Jewels and Levi.

Links –

Amazon US – http://amzn.to/1KuA5tt

Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/1KuA9JG

Barnes & Noble – http://bit.ly/1KuAewW

iBooks – http://apple.co/1GQcZpY

Nook UK – http://bit.ly/1H2I1yb

Kobo – http://bit.ly/1Hxw2tN

Smashwords – http://bit.ly/1LhhmSj

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Oh yeah–got my interest…

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Not started this Series yet? You can start for free with…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Crypt Keeper~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Molly Maddison grew up in a funeral home that unfortunately backed up to the largest Insane Asylum in the state. Very few understand what happens after death, Molly does. While other children were playing in the park with their living friends, Molly was in the cemetery playing with the dead. To say she is troubled is an understatement.

Now Molly has a new plan, to attempt to lead a normal life, and ban the contact with any of the dead. Realizing that she is madly in love with one of them was never part of that plan. However neither life or death ever go as planned and Molly is called upon to perform her role as the family Crypt Keeper…

Is she up for the task? Only time will tell.

Links –

Amazon US – http://amzn.to/1Jz9JpS

Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/1gci9Hi

Barnes & Noble – http://bit.ly/1zPHQEs

iBooks – http://apple.co/1FUabHI

Nook UK – http://bit.ly/1v7LiIZ

Kobo – http://bit.ly/1T80GOz

Smashwords – http://bit.ly/ZAylcE

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Er…pardon me while I go and get myself another book…

Meanwhile, have a nice convo with the author…

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K.A. Young writes fantasy. Dark, edgy and sexy fantasy books with a strong female lead for adults and exciting adventurous fantasy books for teens. KA is a non-conformist with a coffee and dark chocolate addiction. She loves the ocean, the sun, traveling, reading and spending time with her kids and hubby.

 

 

(Is it just me, or does she look an awful lot like her Molly??)

Note from K.A. Young

If you enjoyed one of my books, I would be beyond grateful if you would take a moment to post a review somewhere online to help other readers discover it. There isn’t a right or wrong way to write a review, it can be as long or short as you like.

Thanks for reading,

Kate

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An additional note from your friendly neighborhood book blogger:

Book reviews are EXTREMELY important. Even if it’s only a couple of words.

 

Other FREE READS from K.A. Young

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~~~~~~~~Prophecy of The Female Warrior~~~~~~~~

Anna Wilkins is a prototypical housewife. She buys groceries, picks up the dry cleaning and hosts dinner parties.

Everything was picture perfect from the outside looking in until the life she was born to live collided with the life she was living. Her husband is murdered by a creature from another realm, a creature that is only visible to her. Through her pain, his death awakens a part of her she didn’t know existed. She is then thrust into a life of Vampires, Werewolves and Sexy Nephilim Warriors.

Drawn to her by a bond as old as their race, a Nephilim Warrior finds Anna at her darkest hour and seeks to arouse what lies dormant within her. The scorching sexual attraction she and the Warrior feel for one another may be beyond anything either of them can control…

Links

Amazon US – http://amzn.to/1FUsj4f

Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/1T82PtA

Barnes & Noble – http://bit.ly/1H2Vg1U

iBooks – http://apple.co/1IQKPwd

Nook UK – http://bit.ly/1CcSlVt

Kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/prophecy-of-the-female-warrior

Smashwords – http://bit.ly/1RTwYu5

 

~~~~~~~~Coven~~~~~~~~

Elise Michaels’ motto has always been: no guts, no glory. She is a thrill seeker, continually craving excitement and adventure. The idea of being tied down to a place or man never interested her, even though a betrothal spell was cast linking her and the Head of Council’s son when they were mere infants.

Being a distant third in succession to assume the Head Mistress role, she felt confident that her secret would remain in her past along with Coven life. Unfortunately, nothing in our fun loving heroine’s future is anything she or anyone from the supernatural realm is prepared for.

Now, she’s forced to return to the place and the Sorcerer she so desperately sought to forget.

Elise has no idea the power and gifts that await her. Can she let go of her own desires and embrace her new role? Or will she surrender to the faceless evil coming for them all?

Book one in the tantalizing Elise Michaels Series a spinoff of The Nephilim Warrior Series.

Links

Amazon US – http://amzn.to/1GPWcnO

Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/1CcDHxJ

Barnes & Noble – http://bit.ly/1C1C3yp

iBooks – http://apple.co/1CcDOt3

Nook UK – http://bit.ly/1KuBb8n

Smashwords – http://bit.ly/1IQBm8i

 

~~~~~~~~Awakening~~~~~~~~

*14+ Young Adult*

You know those times when you’ve just had a fight with your mom and behind closed doors you say horrible things like I hate you or I wish you were dead? Well, it really happened. Mom is dead, gone forever they all are; every single person in our entire town disappeared overnight, like some freaking nightmare. I’m Kylie Daniels and my brother and I are the only ones left and now we have to figure out how to survive…

When sixteen-year-old Kylie Daniels wakes one morning to the sound of her kid brother hysterically screaming, she soon discovers that life as she knew it, had changed forever…

Follow Kylie and her brother Mason as they discover that the veil that separated the human realm from that of the supernatural was compromised exposing them to shifters, slashers, demons and Valkyrie.

Links

Amazon US – http://tinyurl.com/US-Amazon-Awakening

Amazon UK – http://tinyurl.com/UK-Amazon-Awakening

Barnes & Noble – http://tinyurl.com/Nook-US-Awakening

Nook UK – http://tinyurl.com/Nook-UK-Awakening

iBooks – http://tinyurl.com/iBooks-Awakening

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Well, I think I’ve provided you with plenty of reading material–an entertaining ride all the way through September, at least. Happy reading–catch you later!

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Kitty Muse

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Another great offering from Shawn McGuire!

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Our dear author has been busy again. And this book cover–wonderful as always!

So what is this one about? Glad you asked:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~>>♥<<~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Everyone deserves happiness. Is Robin the exception?

A cross-country move to a new state offers Robin Westmore the chance to get away from the relentless bullies and reinvent himself. But on the first day at his new high school Robin finds himself in front of Zane, the school’s star pitcher and chief tormentor, at the exact wrong moment and right back into the role of victim. Hopeless, he wishes for it all to stop.

When Desiree, the new leader of the genies, grants Robin’s wish he’s sure things are finally going his way. But problems in the magical realm have made Desiree equally hopeless and too distracted to give Robin the attention he needs.

As Desiree hides from her responsibilities, Robin disappears into the video game he’s created. There he finds excitement, adventure, and control. When the game presents him with a real escape from his tortured life, will he take it?

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Sounds fascinating! And, just to make it a little more interesting, we have added an excerpt for your reading pleasure:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~>>♥<<~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

“You stayed up late again?” she asked as she took a box of tea from the back of the cabinet.

“Lots of homework,” I said. She knew I spent my summer developing the game. She didn’t know I spent at least two hours a night, after homework, still working on it.

She never protested when I said the dark circles under my eyes were studying related. Usually that was the case. Sometimes, though, Zane’s harassment got really intense and the circles came from lack of sleep due to nightmares.

There were days when he would stop in the middle of whatever he’d been doing and charge at me from across the lunchroom to slam into me or sneeze on my lunch. Once he even stood in front of me flapping his arms and making birdcalls. In the middle of the lunchroom. Why didn’t someone record that and put it up on the web? He looked ridiculous. Didn’t anyone else see that?

“Are you feeling all right?” Mom put the back of her hand to my forehead and I resisted the urge to swat it away. It was a caring touch. One of the few signs lately that someone gave a damn about me.

If I told her what was happening, would she do something? Maybe I could do online schooling. She knew I was a self-motivator and that she never had to check to see if I’d done my homework. Grades were everything to me. I’d never had less than a 3.8 GPA. The only reason it fell below a 4.0 was because of gym class. I could barely lift my backpack let alone do a pull-up. Maybe online school was the answer to my problems.

“Mom—”

Her phone rang just as I was about to ask.

“Hello… Oh, I’m so sorry.” She glanced at the clock on the microwave. “I was thinking there was a one hour time difference. Five months and I’m still adjusting to being in the Mountain Time Zone. Let me get to my office and I’ll call you right back.”

She was already heading out of the kitchen when I said, “Bye.”

“Oh, sweetie.” She came back and kissed my forehead. “If you’re not feeling well you can stay home. Or call if you need to come home early. I’ll give permission for you to leave.”

She knew I got motion sick on the bus. If I said I was nauseous, would she still make me ride the bus or would she take twenty minutes off of work to come and get me?

I toasted a piece of cinnamon-raisin bread and spread on a thick layer of butter. Then I tugged on my coat and headed out the door. With every step I thought of how Zane would be waiting for me and that single bite of toast turned into a little rock in my stomach. I paused at the garbage can next to the garage and lifted the lid to toss in the barely-eaten piece when someone came around the corner, making me jump.

“Are you Robin?” A girl with long dark hair that looked kind of like dreadlocks but kind of not stood at the corner of my garage. “Wait. You’re not throwing that out are you? That’s so wasteful. There are hungry people who would gladly eat that.”

I looked from her to the toast and then shoved it in my mouth. I couldn’t handle a lecture right then.

“Who are you?” I asked through the mouthful of bread-covered raisins.

She made a disgusted face. “Manners. Heard of them?”

I chewed, swallowed, and brushed the crumbs off my hand. “Sorry. Yes, I’m Robin. Who are you?”

She smiled then. She had a great smile, one that made her eyes crinkle at the corners. “I’m Dara.”

“Nice to meet you. Can I help you with something?”

“I don’t know. Possibly.” Dara put her hand to her mouth and tapped a navy blue-painted fingernail against her blindly-white teeth, like she was contemplating the question. “Teasing. Nothing you can do for me, thanks, but I can sure help you.”

I shook my head. “You’ve got the wrong person. I don’t need help.” At least none that she could give. I doubted she could take on Zane.

“You’re Robin Westmore.”

She knew my name. Whatever that meant.

“You just moved here from Wisconsin.”

“Five months ago. So not just but yes, I’m from Wisconsin.”

“You’re being bullied by some kid named Zane and you want it to stop.”

I stood there, next to my garbage can, wondering who this girl was and what she was up to. It was common knowledge that I was Zane’s favorite target. Of course I wanted his harassment to stop, anyone would, but what could she possibly do about it?

“Look, I don’t know who you are but if Zane sent you—”

“Zane didn’t send me.” She paused, just for a beat. “I guess you could say the universe did.”

I didn’t need this. I had enough drama in my life. I didn’t need this chick adding crazy to it as well. Marijuana was legal in Colorado. Maybe she’d been dining on pot gummies or something. The universe sent her. Yeah, right.

“I’ve got to get going,” I said. “I’m going to miss my bus.”

“Don’t worry about that,” Dara said. “I can take care of that.”

I started walking. I had to go six blocks in about two minutes. If I wasn’t there I’d have to either wait for the next bus, which wouldn’t be for half an hour, or beg my mom for a ride during which I’d have to listen to her chew me out about responsibility.

Dara followed, her arms wrapped tightly together. She wasn’t wearing a jacket.

“Let me try again,” she said. “This is my first time and I’m not sure how to do this.”

What was she saying? “Are you a prostitute?”

“What? God.” She made a face. “No, I’m not a prostitute. What kind of hooker comes up to someone by their garage first thing in the morning?”

“I wouldn’t know. I’m not privy to the methods of the, uh, working class.”

She said nothing for half a block and then started laughing. Probably at the thought of me soliciting a hooker.

“Let me try this again.” She cleared her throat and squared her shoulders. “Yesterday afternoon around three-forty-five you made a wish.”

“I did what?” Oh yeah, the dandelion. “Do you live next door or something? How could you know that?”

“I told you, the universe sent me. Your wish has been granted.”

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Wouldn’t that be great? I know where I could use that sort of thing in many places in my life.

Let’s have a peek at what makes Shawn McGuire tick:

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Shawn McGuire

Shawn McGuire is the author of young adult novels that blend contemporary settings and issues with a touch of fantasy and magic. She started writing after seeing the first Star Wars movie (that’s episode IV) as a kid. She couldn’t wait for the next movie to come out so wrote her own episodes. Sadly, those notebooks are long lost, but her desire to write is as strong now as it was then.

Her books deal with harder topics (death of a sibling, divorce, dating violence, bullying, and teen suicide) because she believes it is important to talk about these things. Those kinds of topics can be hard to handle and a bit overwhelming, so she infuses a bit of humor in her work as well because she also believes that a sense of humor can help you get through just about anything.

Shawn lives in Colorado with her family where she spends her time reading, cooking and baking, practicing yoga and meditation, and hiking and camping in the spectacular Rocky Mountains.

Author Links

Website – http://www.Shawn-McGuire.com

Facebook http://www.Facebook.com/ShawnMcGuireAuthor

Newsletter signup – http://eepurl.com/V21k1

Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/shawnmcguire1/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Shawn_McGuire

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3231214.Shawn_McGuire

Amazon Author – http://www.amazon.com/Shawn-McGuire/e/B00L0FJDFW/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1420552843&sr=1-2-ent

Buy Links

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Great-Fall-Wish-Makers-Book-ebook/dp/B00ZJ59BXS/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1435702353&sr=1-4&keywords=shawn+mcguire

CreateSpace – https://www.createspace.com/5548360

Author’s Other Works

The Wish Makers Series

Sticks and Stones

Free ebook with the following vendors

Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/445323

Google Play https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Shawn_McGuire_Sticks_and_Stones?id=m_m-AwAAQBAJ

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Sticks-Stones-Wish-Makers-Book-ebook/dp/B00KZ0D2TQ/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402700787&sr=1-2

iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id888318638

Kobo  https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/sticks-and-stones-28

Break My Bones

Free ebook until July 24th with newsletter signup

Never Hurt Me

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Busy lady! Ever think you might want ALL those books ALL at once? Well, here’s your chance!

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 IT’S RAFFLECOPTER TIME!!!

(hoping this works…)

<a class=”rcptr” href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/79d404fd40/&#8221; rel=”nofollow” data-raflid=”79d404fd40″ data-theme=”classic” data-template=”” id=”rcwidget_us4lv31t”>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>

<script src=”//widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js”></script>

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That’s it for now–tune back in another time, when I will have another fantastic book to blog about!

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Book Tour: “Center of Gravity” by Laura McNeill

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Hey all–yep, I’m still around. Busy beyond belief–I need to clone myself twice over. Life has this habit of really messing with your life.

Anyway–I have yet another great choice for your reading list. This sounds like an intriguing story, one about love and loss, and everything in between.

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The truth could cost her everything. 

Her whole life, Ava Carson has been sure of one thing: she doesn’t measure up to her mother’s expectations. So when Mitchell Carson sweeps into her life with his adorable son, the ready-made family seems like a dream come true. In the blink of an eye, she’s married, has a new baby, and life is grand.

Or is it?

When her picture-perfect marriage begins unraveling at the seams, Ava convinces herself she can fix it. It’s temporary. It’s the stress. It’s Mitchell’s tragic history of loss.

If only Ava could believe her own excuses.

Mitchell is no longer the charming, thoughtful man she married. He grows more controlling by the day, revealing a violent jealous streak. His behavior is recklessly erratic, and the unanswered questions about his past now hint at something far more sinister than Ava can stomach. Before she can fit the pieces together, Mitchell files for divorce and demands full custody of their boys.

Fueled by fierce love for her children and aided by Graham Thomas, a new attorney in town —Ava takes matters into her own hands, digging deep into the past. But will finding the truth be enough to beat Mitchell at his own game? Center of Gravity weaves a chilling tale, revealing the unfailing and dangerous truth that things—and people—are not always what they seem.

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Pre-Order your copy today.

http://www.amazon.com/Center-Gravity-Laura-McNeill/dp/0718030907

 

 

 

 

 

It’s always good to hear about the author behind the book, and Ms. McNeill sounds like she has quite a lot of life adventures under her belt:

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After six years behind the anchor desk at two CBS affiliates, Laura moved to the Alabama Gulf Coast to raise her family. Her accolades in broadcasting include awards from the Associated Press, including Best News Anchor and Best Specialized Reporter.

Laura works at Spring Hill College as the school’s web content and social media manager and​ is active in her community—participating in fundraisers for the American Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald House, and Providence Hospital’s Festival of Flowers.

Laura was recently awarded a 2-book deal with Thomas Nelson Publishing, a division of HarperCollins. Her novel, Center of Gravity, set in Mobile, Ala., will be published in July of 2015 (meaning, NOW). Laura is represented by Elizabeth Winick Rubenstein, president of McIntosh and Otis literary agency in New York.​ Her writing awards include those from William Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, Writer’s Digest, RWA, and the Eric Hoffer competition.

She holds a master’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and a bachelor’s degree in English from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She is currently pursuing a second master’s degree in interactive technology from the University of Alabama. She is a native of Upstate New York and currently resides near the Alabama Gulf Coast with her two children.

http://lauramcneill.com/

http://lauramcneill.com/layouts/blog/

https://twitter.com/LauraMcNeillBks

https://www.pinterest.com/lauram0528/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5280308.Laura_McNeill

https://www.facebook.com/lauramcneillauthor?ref=hl

https://instagram.com/dixiegirlwriter/

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Yep, I would define that as “busy”…

My favorite part of blogging for another author is the ability to and privilege of sharing an excerpt from the book. So, without further ado:

~~~~~EXCERPT FROM “CENTER OF GRAVITY”~~~~~

Ava:

Life never quite turns out the way you plan. Take my first attempt at gourmet cooking.The twelve-week long class was a wedding gift from my husband, Mitchell. I think he secretly hoped the instruction would uncover my amazing talent and I’d be the next Giada De Laurentiis.

So armed with a new apron, thick, glossy new cookbooks, and dazzled by my new home’s professional kitchen—full of gleaming stainless steel utensils—I bounced fearlessly into the day of instruction.

I proceeded to set both oven mitts on fire, much to the horror of nearby students. The next week my crème brulee singed into a charcoal volcano. Week number three, the heady scent of cloves caused a wave of nausea so strong I had to run outside and gulp fresh air. I turned out to be pregnant, of course. So much for the Food Network and my budding career as a chef.

Since then we keep a fire extinguisher handy, and I work from a collection of stand-by, no-fail recipes. We’ve decided that I do excel at comfort food: chicken salad, tacos, and oatmeal cookies. Tonight’s plan: fresh vegetables and pasta.

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Wow, I can relate! My mom seemed to burn oven mitts on a regular basis. We always knew what to get her for Christmas as a result. (Hey, we were kids on a limited budget…)

Alrighty–time for the ol’ rafflecopter to land—

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Just click on this link:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And be sure to visit these other blogsites for further info on “Center of Gravity”:

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July 14

www.julkbearreads.wordpress.com

semishort.blogspot.com

July 15

http://sweet-n-sassy-book-a-holics.blogspot.com/

http://highlightedauthor.com/h-a-special-interest/

July 16

www.aealbert.com

www.facebook.com/melodyslove4books

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sarah-Kirstys-Book-Reviews/740671655951314

July 17

http://anovelkindofbliss.blogspot.com

July 18

http://nerdgirlofficial.com/

https://kathyree.wordpress.com/ (yep, I’m one day late…sorry)

July 19

http://cbybookclub.blogspot.co.uk

July 20

http://thewritersrevolution13.blogspot.com

http://fictionalrendezvousbookblog.blogspot.com/

July 21

roomwithbooks.com

July 22

http://www.bound2escape.com

July 23

http://lynnromanceenthusiast.blogspot.com

www.naturalbri.com

July 24

http://www.pinkypollock.blogspot.com

https://www.facebook.com/ShirleysBookshelf

July 25

http://vernadene.blogspot.com

July 26

http://ifeeltheneedtheneedtoread.com/

July 27

http://driftingintobooks.blogspot.com/

 

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“I Don’t Think We’re In Oregon Anymore” – a short walk through hell

My elderly neighbor thinks I’ve gone completely around the bend. She may be right.

Or it might be that I am trying to pretend that Oregon is NOT going through one of its hottest, driest summers ever.

Or, perhaps it’s because, when my legs tell me to walk, I must obey. Runners know what I’m talking about. They’re out there in sun, rain, snow, cyclones…simply doing what their exercise-conditioned bodies tell them.

MOVE. NOW. AT LEAST FIVE MILES.

So I will factor in all of these things while I decide if I’m on my way to Nutso-land, or just being physically fit.

It was a warmish afternoon, around 1:00pm, when I locked the door behind me and started on my route. I knew it was supposed to get warmer as the day progressed, but I didn’t realize it would zoom up quite as fast as it did.

The sky was a gorgeous, cloudless blue, and the sun beat down warmly as I stepped off the curb. The wind played with my hair, sashaying it across my upper arms and shoulders–just how I like it. I had opted to leave it down, letting it flow free, instead of putting it back in a pony tail.

Truth to tell, I don’t really mind the heat–as long as I’m not going in and out of air-conditioning. And as long as it isn’t humid. I was glad for the dryness of the air, because the virus I am currently carrying has shellacked my lungs, and I didn’t need more hindrance in breathing, thank you very much.

I passed a couple of girls sitting in the shade along the curb, smoking. Young things, their whole lives ahead of them. It blows my mind that, with what we know about lung cancer and cigarettes, that anyone would even start smoking. Yet they do.

I made the attempt myself, at age 15. Couldn’t inhale…tobacco.

I’m leaving that there.

But this is the observation I make, and I will say nothing more: Trying tobacco and hoping that you don’t get addicted is like kissing a rattlesnake on the nose and hoping you won’t get bit. That is all.

Now, I wasn’t entirely certain of where my feet were going to take me this day. There isn’t a main street in this town that I haven’t walked, and it’s figuring out new combinations that leaves me stumped at times. This day I decided to put in a new kink on an old trail–I would walk up to the middle school, and when I got to the nature trail behind it, I would go left, into Graham Oaks Nature Park, instead of right, which would merely take me into another neighborhood and back the way I came.

graham oaks

On a day like this one, there were few people out. I think I counted about five. One guy who passed me going the other way gave me an abashed smile as if to say, “Oh good, I’m not the only idiot out here in this heat.” Even the birds had pretty much given up singing about the day and were under cover, waiting for it to end.

There is no shade to speak of in the nature park. However, I was getting to where I was trying to avoid the shade anyway–it was too hard to get back out in the sun afterwards. Best to just stay cooking.

Halfway through my trek, which turned out to be 7 .5 miles, Nature changed. Or my perception of Her did. The sky was now a shade of merciless blue, out of which hammered the sun in all its fury–well, for Oregon standards, anyway. To you folks in 115+-degree weather who think I am a wimp, I say shut up. But in a most Christian way. Truly.

The wind was now a Pacific Northwest version of an Egyptian sirocco, which meant that its harlotry was over, and it had revealed itself for what it was: a dragon panting at my back, melting my once-carefree hair, which now hung like limp spaghetti down my back. At least that part of it which didn’t huddle wetly around my neck like cattle around a shade tree.

I passed schools, I passed parks, I passed many places where you would expect people to congregate. If there was no water involved, there was No. One. Around. Only people in their air-conditioned cars, driving past, wondering why anyone would be out there in the heat. I was beginning to wonder about that myself.

On my way home, I came across a young lady who was having car problems. I helped as much as I could, gave her moral support, talked with her for awhile, and cheered when her car started and she was on her way. Never a moment did I feel the heat while I was engaged in helping her. Funny how that works.

I was never so glad to see the park, with its water features, just a little over a mile from home. Not to mention the drinking fountain! I worked that fountain button as hard as I could–it was one of those set-ups where you’d have better luck lapping water up out of the basin–then surreptitiously stuck my leg in one of the cascading waterfalls in the water feature. There were a bazillion people there doing the same thing, so why not?

I started back on my last mile, and within three minutes, I kid you not, I was dry as a bone. This last distance I clung to the shade–I had had enough of the sun.

Passed the same two girls, on the same spot, with the ciggies.

It was at about this time that my neighbor spotted me.

“How many miles did you walk?” She knows me well.

“About 7.5.”

She rolls her eyes. “Where’s your water?”

“Didn’t take any. It gets warm and gross, and I finish it halfway anyway.”

The eye-roll again. “Well, get home and get some water in you.”

This I did. Some 60+ ounces. And I didn’t see the inside of a bathroom until 11:00pm that night. Guess I was a bit dehydrated…

I stayed in today. Tomorrow, at 7:30am, I will be joining a few others on another walk. Maybe I’ll take water this time. And my neighbor will have another eye-roll exercise, of this I am certain.

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What’s better than a steampunk story? Nine of them–in one book!

 

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I am such a fan of steampunk that I could not pass up the opportunity to be a part of this promotion. It just sounds fantastic!

 

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Shovel the coal and stoke the boilers as nine steam punk authors explore islands of mystery and adventure across the seven seas.

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The Clockwork Seer by Katherine Cowley: On an island of oddities, a young clairvoyant struggles for normalcy, but deadly automatons have other plans.

Sindisiwe by Scott E. Tarbet: A slave girl in Zanzibar escapes a beating when a stranger in the marketplace proves her past is more than just a fairy tale.

Stand and Deliver by TC Phillips: Neither shackles, slave labor, nor the island’s deadliest inhabitants will prevent these brothers from meting out justice to their father’s murderers.

Island Walker by C. R. Simper: Kit digs her treasures out of trash heaps, but the theft of her invention leads to discoveries money can’t buy.

A Mind Prone to Wander by Danielle E. Shipley: Beyond a locked door lies Rowan Charles’ death or his sanity, and the survival or extinction of his people.

Curio Cay by Sarah E. Seeley: The future of humanity rests in the hands of three time-traveling scientists battling biomechanical creatures in the Jurassic past.

The Mysterious Island of Chester Morrison by Kin Law: Dodging her chaperone, a debutante stumbles into adventure and romance at the World’s Fair.

Revolutionary by John M. Olsen: A dirigible captain goes down with his ship, and wakes to find himself a captive of a sky-dwelling civilization.

The Steel Inside by Gail B. Williams: Darkness lurks in Sarah’s forgotten past, kept hidden by those who claim to be her devoted husband and loyal servants.

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These all sound too good to pass up!

Purchase your copy here:

Amazon Kindle USA: http://www.amazon.com/Steel-Bone-Nine-Steampunk-Adventures-ebook/dp/B00YQRAIIC

Amazon Kindle UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Steel-Bone-Nine-Steampunk-Adventures-ebook/dp/B00YQRAIIC

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Time to meet the authors!

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Katherine Cowley  

Katherine Cowley wrote her first story at the age of five, a retelling of the Icarus myth titled “The Turtle That Got Too Close to the Sun.” She has worked as a documentary film producer, a radio producer, and a college professor. She now devotes herself to writing steampunk, fantasy, and science fiction. Cowley’s short stories and essays have been published and won awards in the Locutorium, the BYU Studies Personal Essay Contest, the Meeting of the Myths, Four Centuries of Mormon Stories, and the Mormon Lit Blitz. You can also read her stories online at katherinecowley.com.

Katherine loves European chocolate, the history of science, and steampunk fashion. She has lived in the United States, Brazil, and Finland, and currently resides in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.

Website | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

http://www.katherinecowley.com/
http://www.katherinecowley.com/
https://twitter.com/kathycowley
https://www.facebook.com/kathycowley
http://www.pinterest.com/kathycowley/
https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/1100427-kathy-cowley

Scott E. Tarbet  

Scott E. Tarbet writes what fires his imagination: the broad umbrella of speculative fiction. He is especially intrigued by how human beings react to and interact with science, technology, and other magics.

Educator, chef, professional opera singer, and Steampunk craftsman, with a long list of short stories and other works to his credit, he makes his home in the splendor of the Utah mountains with his wife and best friend, Jewels.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google + | Amazon | Goodreads | LinkedIn | Pinterest

scotttarbet.timp.net
scotttarbet.timp.net
https://twitter.com/setarbet
https://www.facebook.com/starbet
http://www.pinterest.com/scotttarbet/
https://plus.google.com/u/0/103022248044977989570/about
https://www.linkedin.com/pub/scott-tarbet/b/568/543
http://www.amazon.com/Scott-E.-Tarbet/e/B00FXSTPY6/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7337001.Scott_E_Tarbet
http://about.me/starbet

TC Phillips 

TC Phillips hails from tropical central Queensland in Australia, where he currently lives with his loving wife, three young children, a spoilt cat, and an overactive imagination. An avid reader from a young age, he has held a long-standing attraction for the written word and is excited to make his own contributions to the vibrant and ever shifting world of storytelling. Holding degrees in both Theatre Studies and Education, he is also currently completing his Master of Arts (writing) through Swinburne University of Technology.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

www.cobblestonescribe.com
https://twitter.com/T_C_Phillips
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTCPhillips
https://www.facebook.com/tc.phillips.980
http://www.amazon.com/TC-Phillips

R. Simper  

R. Simper is an Arizona native who graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Purchasing and Logistics Management. She married another Arizona native in 1991 and is now the stay-at-home mom of three daughters and one son.

Simper has written in multiple genres over the past three decades. She has found that writing maintains a sense of order in her life. Her first published story, “The Journey of Inspector Roux” appeared in Terra Mechanica: a Steampunk Anthology (2014), another Xchyler publication.

Other hobbies that she enjoys are playing volleyball, genealogical research, and indexing obituaries. She is a member of the American Night Writers Association (ANWA).

Facebook | Twitter | Google + | LinkedIn | Goodreads | Pinterest

https://twitter.com/crsimper
https://www.facebook.com/chanda.simper
https://www.pinterest.com/crsimper/
https://www.linkedin.com/pub/c-r-simper/94/b14/b69

Danielle E. Shipley

Danielle E. Shipley’s first novelettes told the everyday misadventures of wacky kids like herself. Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to them all, half of her characters were actually closeted elves, dwarves, fairies, or some combination thereof. When it all came to light, Danielle did the sensible thing: packed up and moved to Fantasy Land, where daily rent is the low, low price of her heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, firstborn child, sanity, and words; lots of them.

Shipley has also been known to spend short bursts of time in the real-life Chicago area with the parents who home-schooled her and the two little sisters who keep her humble. When she’s not living the highs and lows of writing, publishing, and all that authorial jazz, she’s probably blogging about it at EverOnWord.wordpress.com.

This is her third appearance in a Xchyler anthology, following the paranormal “Two Spoons” in Legends and Lore, and “Reality As We Know It” in fantasy collection The Toll of Another Bell. Other publications include Inspired (a novel), and a series of fairy-tale retelling mash-ups, The Wilderhark Tales.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

www.deshipley.com
www.everonword.wordpress.com
https://twitter.com/DEShipley
https://www.facebook.com/Danielle.E.Shipley.Author
https://www.facebook.com/danielle.e.shipley
https://www.pinterest.com/DEShipleyYo/?z=1
http://www.amazon.com/Danielle-E.-Shipley/e/B00HG4A0N0
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7021985.Danielle_E_Shipley

Sarah E. Seeley

Through two wonderful mentored research experiences, Sarah E. Seeley had the opportunity to work with dead sauropods and ancient odonates while acquiring her undergraduate degree in geology from Brigham Young University. She hopes to study more dead things in the future and contribute to scientific discussions about what makes life on Earth so amazing. In the meantime, she explores the bright side of being human by writing dark fiction.

Seeley’s independently published works include Maladaptive Bind and Blood Oath: An Orc Love Story. Sarah’s short story “Peradventure” appears in Xchyler Publishing’s Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions. Another short story, “Driveless,” appears in Leading Edge Magazine Issue #66. You can learn more about Sarah on her writing blog at www.SlithersOfThought.com

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads

www.slithersofthought.com
http://twitter.com/SarahESeeley
https://www.facebook.com/authorsaraheseeley
http://www.amazon.com/author/sarahseeley
http://www.goodreads.com/SarahESeeley

Kin Law

Living in the bustle of NYC, Kin is constantly reminded he is a child of two worlds. Originally from Hong Kong, he’s traveled both geographically and socially, working in many professions including movie projection and line cooking. He has degrees in Media and Culinary Arts, and a great love of Philosophy. As for fiction, his favorite authors are Douglas Adams, Hemmingway, and Chuck Pahlaniuk.

Today, Kin is a culinary copywriter, intent on furthering his novelist career. He loves his fiancée, his cat Zoe, Scotch, bacon and coffee. Addressing himself in the third person makes him chuckle.

Website | Twitter | Amazon | About.me

John M. Olsen

John M. Olsen has been creating things his whole life through a mixture of technical and creative processes, whether building family, stories, art, software, woodworking or anything else. He has dreams of becoming a Renaissance man and loves to learn new things to add to his store of randomly accessible information (otherwise known as irrelevant trivia). Writing is one of his loves, inspired by having read most of his father’s extensive fantasy and science fiction collection in his teen years.

He builds high-end simulation software, and has contributed chapters to several books on computer graphics and game design, as well as publishing fiction in multiple genres.

He lives in Utah with his wife and five children, some of whom are old enough to have moved out and back in. Together they have also raised three nieces and a nephew, and are minions of their benevolent cat overlord.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Amazon | Goodreads | About.me

http://johnmolsen.blogspot.com/
https://twitter.com/john_m_olsen
https://www.facebook.com/JohnsWritingStuff
https://www.facebook.com/JohnMarkOlsen
http://www.linkedin.com/in/johnmolsen
http://amazon.com/author/johnmolsen
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7567002.John_M_Olsen
http://about.me/john_m_olsen

Gail B. Williams

Gail Williams lives in her own private dungeon populated with all the weird and the wonderful she can imagine. Some of it’s very weird, and the odd bits and pieces are a bit wonderful. With a vivid imagination fuelled by a near death experience at the age of three, there was really no other choice for Gail than to write, something she’s been doing for as long as she can remember. She’s tried not doing it, but it never works for long, her brain gets itchy if she hasn’t written anything for a couple of days. Gail is English by birth, but lives in Swansea, Wales, married a Welshman and they have two fantastic children. They live with the world’s most imperious and demanding cat. An asset management specialist by day, a freelance editor and keen writer of an evening and weekend, she really needs to learn to sleep. To find out more see www.gailbwilliams.com

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Amazon | Goodreads

www.gailbwilliams.com
https://thewriteroute.wordpress.com/
https://twitter.com/GailBWilliams
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gail-Williams-Author/261748000603425
https://www.facebook.com/gail.williams.3745
https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=78298391
http://www.amazon.com/Gail-Williams/e/B00CX3TIHS
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7047260.Gail_Williams

James Ng

James Ng (pronounced Ing) was born in Hong Kong, where he spent most of his childhood drawing monsters and robots, making his own elaborate cardboard toys, and playing soccer. Ever since, he has been on the move between Hong Kong, Vancouver, Chicago and New York. His travels have greatly influenced him, allowing him to combine Eastern and Western cultures in his artwork.

Currently James is enjoying the freedom of being a freelance concept artist and illustrator. After a sunny summer in Vancouver, and traveling to London, and then to New York for an award show and exhibition, he is back in his home of Hong Kong to continue his career.

http://www.jamesngart.com/index.html

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Extras

This excerpt is the first few pages of “The Clockwork Seer.”

There were too many people, but once the music started Medina could ignore them well enough. Her private viewing box made it easier, giving her a little separation from the crowd. Well-dressed men and women pushed through the aisles of the concert hall, finding their seats. Medina tasted cinnamon, a product of her own excitement and the energy of those surrounding her. Today’s performer hailed from the mainland: the brilliant Lucio Adessi, the best musician to visit the island this year. It was Sunday, the one day of the week that offered midday concerts.

The muscles in Medina’s arms convulsed. She clenched her hands onto the sides of her chair. The vision came as it always did: a shaking of her muscles, and a flash of colors and emotions. This time a spattering of small black and brown shapes cavorted across her sight, the taste of sour grapes sat on her tongue, and the scent of burning coal invaded her nose with a touch of fear. The vision was mild though, not overwhelming, thanks to the clockwork in Medina’s body which translated her visions into words and actions. Medina was mostly human—only a small part clockwork—and she often wished the sight would stop afflicting her so she could live a normal life. But she couldn’t do anything to prevent her clairvoyance. She waited expectantly for the typewriter in her right hip to print out instructions.

Thud, thud, thud, went the type hammers as they swung, pressing the metal slugs of type onto a small piece of paper. Then the typing stopped.

Medina paused with her hand to her hip, hesitating to take the paper. She tasted pickles, as she often did when she felt uncertain. Even when not receiving precognition, Medina experienced tastes and smells related to her emotions. Fortunately, this medical condition only ever heightened those two senses, while the visions flooded her five senses and all the nerves in her body.

The island caused her extrasensory gifts—or curses. The visions in particular tended to trouble her at inconvenient times, such as now, with the concert about to start. She did not want to miss it.

But she could not ignore a vision. She dared not risk it. Especially since the experience tasted of sour grapes, which she generally associated with monsters.

Medina glanced around to make sure no one was watching her, then opened the metal compartment in her side, which jutted out about an inch from her hip. She removed the piece of paper.

Tell the hall master to put out the nets.

The nets had only one purpose: to catch mechanical spiders. The newspaper hadn’t mentioned mechanical spiders in today’s forecast, but that didn’t matter. Medina’s visions were much more limited (and incredibly less useful) than those of the seer who worked for the newspaper: Medina could only foretell things directly related to herself, and only in the immediate future. Unlike most of those gifted with clairvoyance, she didn’t actually view the future; rather, what specifically she should do about it. But Medina’s visions were always accurate, so even if life would be easier without them, when they came she had to act, because of the small chance it might be about something important.

Medina dashed out of her loge—her private viewing box—not caring that people noticed her exit. She ran to the lobby of the building and hailed Mr. Frederic Cunningham, who owned the concert hall.

“Mr. Cunningham!” she gasped. “You need to put out the nets.”

“Spiders only come in the evening,” Mr. Cunningham replied. “It’s midday.”

But Medina had not planned to be here this evening, which meant the spiders could come at any moment. “You must put the nets out now. It’s important. I swear it on my life.” Medina’s hands shook. She folded them in front of her body, trying to stabilize herself. Even when ameliorated by clockwork, visions made her body weak and fragile.

Mr. Cunningham looked at the metal compartment in her hip. He knew she was part clockwork, and a seer. He’d grown to like her, as she had come to every single performance in the hall for the last four years. He had noticed that she preferred to sit alone, so he had given her one of the private loges without extra charge. Yet he obviously did not want to look like a fool by putting out his nets in the middle of the day. And she had never had a vision while in the concert hall before—in fact, she had never told him specifics about any of her extrasensory experiences.

“Please,” Medina pleaded. “Do it right now.” She had her own nets at home, but she could not bring them back in time.

“Very well,” said Mr. Cunningham. “But it better not deter anyone who is late to the concert.”

He instructed his assistants to put out nets. They looked confused but did not argue with him as they turned the cranks to lower the nets outside of the entryways and windows.

And then they waited, staring expectantly outside. No one knew exactly where the mechanical monsters came from or why there were so many more of them on the island than on the mainland. Rumors spread constantly about their mysterious creators and their plans, but Medina did not know what to believe.

A few seconds later, Medina gagged on the taste of sour grapes. Mechanical spiders rained down from the sky. They were the size of large dogs. Normally they rained all over the island, injecting venom into anything that could move and then crushing them with their mechanical jaws. But today they rained only on the street of the concert hall.

Men, women, and children on the street screamed and dashed away from the spiders. But the spiders did not attack them: they scampered on their eight legs across the road’s concrete surface towards the music hall, as if drawn by a magnet. She’d never seen them act like this before.

Medina tasted blood: fear.

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Wow! What a fantastic excerpt. If the rest is that good, this book is destined to be a real winner.

Want to know more? Here’s a list of everyone who is giving this book a blog-boost:

BBB7

 

June 28

https://kathyree.wordpress.com/

http://nerdgirlofficial.com/

https://ellelainey.wordpress.com

June 29

Boymomlovesbooks.blogspot.com

http://lisaisabookworm.blogspot.com

June 30

www.joaniechevalier.com

http://hopetoread.com

www.aealbert.com

July 1

www.naturalbri.com

http://cbybookclub.blogspot.co.uk

http://semishort.blogspot.com/

July 2

www.Facebook.com/pages/triplettotstweensandteens

http://www.countrygalssexyreads.wordpress.com

http://www.thebookbeacon.com

July 3

http://thewritersrevolution13.blogspot.com

http://www.pinkypollock.blogspot.com

http://bknewsj.blogspot.com/

July 4

roomwithbooks.com

http://www.kimberleighwheaton.com

http://fictionalrendezvousbookblog.blogspot.com/

⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒ΘΘΘ⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐

And last, but not least:

 Tillie5

 

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/63a91ade18/

⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒ΘΘΘ⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐

Until next time–happy reading!

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Review of “The Unseen Promise (Tarkeenia Series Book 1)”, by Ellen Mae Franklin

unseen promise

“It had begun as a plaything to pass the time, an amusement for the petulant. A world created, a game of turbulence and beauty, untameable, most certainly volatile. A world made of wild magic, its lock and key the Patu Bata. Two halves of one whole sailed magestically around Tarkeenia’s bulk, chasing each other, as they cast rose and blue shadows across the fabric of the Known World. But this night was to be different.”

This world, this Tarkeenia, built and created by a family of gods and goddesses, populated by humans, elves, and assorted other creatures, was supposed to be a happy distraction, something for the gods to watch–much like a hamster in a cage. But what happens when there is discord in the family, and one or two of the members aren’t allowed into the plans? In other words–what if those outcast gods threw in their own deceptive magic, and said “hamster” grew into something that was unexpected?

And no one could do anything about it?

***********************************************

Ms. Franklin’s work is one of epic proportions. She has created a marvelous world, multi-layered and intricate in its design. Gods and humans, elves and dwarves–these are just some of the characters that populate Tarkeenia. To add to these, she has created two other races–the civilization of the Murrdocks, half-animal and half-human, and the underground, horrid Specks–eaters of flesh and the bane of all of the other races.

The descriptions and the very different personalities of the characters make this an exciting story to read. I highly recommend it. I also suggest getting “Heart of Secrets” as well, since it is the second book in the series, and I know you’ll want to continue reading this tale to its end.

 

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