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Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Five Facts about Hard Hats and Doormats

Laura Chapman

1. I wrote the first 50,000 words of the first draft during National Novel Writing Month 2010.
NaNoWriMo is an annual writing competition that happens every November. While I’d heard about the contest before, I didn’t decide to participate until sometime on the evening of Nov. 1. This story had been brewing in my mind for a couple of years before I started the first draft, but I still had to quickly hash out an outline.

I reached the 50,000-word deadline just under the wire at 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 30. My Internet wouldn't properly connect to the website, and I had to send the manuscript to a friend who uploaded it for verification on my behalf. I sat on the phone with her while she went through the steps. Once she gave me the confirmation that everything went through, I simultaneously fist-pumped the air and cried. I've successfully participated in NaNoWriMo every year since, but that was the most emotional I ever got.

2. I wrote more than half of the first-draft in notebooks on airplanes and transcribed them into my computer in airport terminals between flights.
At the time, I traveled seven to twelve days a month and I had to sneak in writing whenever I could. My job – a corporate journalist who wrote employee publications for industrial customers – provided me with lots of reporter notebooks and pens, which I kept handy for note taking if inspiration ever struck while I was out and about.

3. Excluding the Lexi Burke and her family, all of the characters' last names in this book are the cities and work sites I traveled to for work at that time.
I’m not even sure why I decided to do this, but once the idea popped in my head, I was sold. Jason Beaumont, Lexi's love interest, has his last name, because Beaumont, Texas, was one of the most complicated places I visited for work. I had some of my best employee encounters there and some of my worst. While I tended to cry on almost every trip (usually on the last day or two, because I was exhausted, hungry and dirty), it was the only location where someone was so mean to me, I sat in my car and cried for five minutes. I also had a couple of my best interviews in that town.  

I figured it was a fitting name for a man who might force my character to go through a roller coaster of feelings, because of the wide range of emotions I experienced.

4. I named Lexi's smartphone after my company-issued GPS device.
Harriet and Harriet 2 (the first one passed away from old age in San Antonio, Texas), accompanied me on every trip I took during my four years of professionally traveling.

5. The restaurant Lexi and a co-worker go to for dinner in New Orleans’ French Quarter is based on a place I ate at in fall 2009.
The story goes that the Napoleon House Bar & Café was offered up to Napoleon as a place of refuge, but he never made it. Now, they serve amazing Cajun fare. I ate the shrimp remoulade stuffed avocado and my dining partner had a poor boy. We were both equally satisfied with our orders.
Hard Hats and Doormats
Lexi Burke has always been a stickler for following rules and procedures. As a human resources manager for a leading Gulf Coast chemical company, it’s her job to make sure everyone else falls in line, too.

Buy NOW!
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But after losing out on a big promotion–-because her boss sees her as too much of a yes-woman––Lexi adopts a new policy of following her heart instead of the fine print. And her heart knows what it wants: Jason Beaumont, a workplace crush who is off limits based on her previous protocol.

While navigating a new romance and interoffice politics, Lexi must find the confidence to stand on her own or face a lifetime of following someone else’s orders.

Laura Chapman
Laura Chapman found a way to mix her love of romance and humor as a women’s fiction author and blogger. Her debut novel, Hard Hats and Doormats, was released in December with Marching Ink.

A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Laura studied journalism, English and history. She spent several years traveling the country as a writer/photographer, and currently works in communications.

Born and raised in Nebraska – in a city, not on a farm – she is a devoted fan of football, British period drama, writing in bars and her cats, Jane and Bingley.

Excerpt from Hard Hats and Doormats Alexis Burke @theLexiBurke Can a person refer to employees as Jackass 1 & 2 in an official report? Asking for a friend. #HRProblems #ThisIsMyLife The universe keeps telling jokes and I’m the punch line. #IHaveProof Okay, seriously. When did this become my life? Can I get a mulligan? #ObscureGolfAnalogyForLife In kindergarten Sunday school, Lexi Burke imagined Hell as a fire-ridden, hate-filled pit below Earth’s surface. On a mighty throne of blackened steel and skulls, Satan preyed on the souls of the damned for eternity. Twenty years later, she discovered a new version of Hell. It was a windowless conference room on an oil platform off the coast of God-only-knew-where Texas in the middle of May. The devil took form in two men, both middle-aged and madder than a hornets nest. Despite the sweat building on her neck, she shivered. When did babysitting old guys become my job? How mad do hornets get, and what does their nest have to do with it? Where did I come up with that analogy? Solving those mysteries had to wait. Casting a glance at the figures gathered around the badly chipped table, she considered the situation at hand. The two men, their union reps, and a team of local managers were going yet another round in their verbal sparring without a semblance of resolution. The representatives wanted the men to go back to work. The managers wanted to give them pink slips. As the HR manager assigned – albeit at last-minute – to the investigation, she wanted to keep everyone from killing each other. Not an easy task, considering the two men under investigation already gave murder their best shot.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Five Facts about Eden and Hunted

Louise Wise
  1. Eden began when I was a teen. I had a dream of being abandoned on the moon (that bastard Neil Armstrong and Buzz!) but I didn't do anything about it until much, much later. Eden took many, many rewrites before I was happy. From that dream you could say it took ten years to write, but the first draft is very different from how it is today. Romance prevails over the sci-fi element.
  2. I didn't do well at school and was always told I'd never amount to anything, and when I left and joined a creative writing group I was told the old favorite 'write what you know'. I didn't know anything (or so I was told)! But I wanted to write, so I thought the easiest genre would be science fiction, my thought process was that I could make everything up and not have to 'know everything'. Of course, I soon found out I was wrong, every genre needs research and sci-fi has to be based on fact. I discovered a love of astronomy during my research.
  3. Eden was accepted by Darley Anderson but dropped at the last hurdle because publishers thought it was too niche.
  4. Eden is in a 'trademark' battle with another book of the same name. There are many Eden books out there and we've all existed without problem for many years, but then a new indie author decided to bombard us with letters from his attorney to 'cease and decease' from using the title Eden. 
  5. I had a 'what if' moment while on holiday and wrote the sequel, Hunted, (in my head) whilst on the beach in sunny Spain. Once I was home I typed out the first draft (50,000 words) in three weeks! I should have entered NaNoWriMo!

How would you cope being abandoned on a planet you and your crew set out to explore?

You're from the 23rd century where everything you want and need is there at the end of a button, but now you're back where civilization began. 

There is no chance of escape or rescue.

But then you discover you aren't alone, and you realise your nightmare has only just began.

Welcome to Jenny's world on Eden.

Snippet from Eden

Jenny was hurled to the floor. Winded, but managing to crawl out of the spaceship, she glimpsed Bodie turning to look and calling for her to run. Matt picked up a rock and threw it at the alien as it ran towards them.
She began to stand, but dizziness swamped her. Trying to ignore the sensation, she staggered away from the spacecraft, but the ground shifted under her feet. Time was measured for Jenny, yet around her things were moving fast.
‘Jen! Move!’ yelled Bodie. The alien was in between her and the two men who, by now, were at the top of the crater. She couldn’t see them anymore, but only heard Bodie yelling for her.
‘Go! Go! GO!’ she yelled, the movement making her eyesight pixilate. She gritted her teeth against the dizziness. ‘I’m coming!’
‘She’s behind us,’ yelled Matt from somewhere in the distance. ‘Get in your buggy, Bo. Get the fuck in!’
Then, the ground rose up and her head struck a lump of metal debris protruding from the ground.
There was no more shouting. All was quiet and peaceful. Jenny opened her eyes and, in a sudden moment of realisation, she flipped to her side and looked to the top of the hill. With a sick feeling of dread, she rose and scrambled to the top of the crater. It felt like a mountain, and she slipped several times. Expecting to find Bodie and Matt dead; their bodies torn in frenzy under the clawed hands of the alien, she was relieved to find the men and the buggies were gone.
A glint of sunlight reflecting on something in the sky caught her eye. The buggies, now small space shuttles, were on their journey back to Taurus as if being hauled back up by an invisible string.
Jenny climbed into the buggy. With shaking hands, she pressed the controls; nothing happened. She spoke into the transmitter, but remembered that Kate was malfunctioning. Her buggy was immobilised.
‘No, no, no,’ she said. She pressed more buttons on the screen display. She pumped the accelerator, but nothing happened. She couldn’t even close the buggy up; instead, it remained open-topped.
She climbed back out, her hands in her hair as panic momentary claimed her.
‘It’s OK,’ she repeated to herself. ‘It’s OK. It’s OK. Breathe.’
Her forehead hurt; she touched it, expecting her fingers to come away bloody, but they were dry. A lump was beginning to protrude, though, and she suspected she had alien finger-marks around her throat.
She glanced around her, as if afraid the alien was close by. Might it be possible that it had gained access to one of the buggies and was inside Taurus? Kate was programmed to destroy an intruder immediately, but…
She closed her eyes briefly. She couldn’t think that way. She climbed back inside the buggy. She’d be OK. Bodie would realise she’d been left behind. He’d override Kate to get her buggy operational. She’d wait.
She looked upward at the now empty blue sky.
Won’t be long, she thought. Around her, all she could hear was the pounding of her heart. It was a lonely sound. She sat for a long time with her head tilted back, looking up at the vastness, the emptiness, of the sky.
As one of the suns set, she finally acknowledged that she may have to spend a night alone on a strange planet. Feeling vulnerable and highly visible in the buggy, she climbed out and slipped beneath it. With the protection of its thick tracks either side of her, she felt safer, plus she was sheltered from the icy wind that had sprung up.
She huddled in a ball, trying to get comfortable and remain optimistic; however, as the eerie silence stretched and played on her imagination, it was difficult to keep hold of her positivity. As the shadows lengthened and faded, and the remaining seven moons rose and twilight fell, her confidence had all but gone.
Shock and the long voyage through space had exhausted her body. She slept, unaware, and, for a sweet moment, her nightmare of being left on a desolate planet did not present itself in her dreams.

Introducing the sequel...

Jenny found happiness from her extraordinary circumstances after being abandoned on stone-age Eden. With clans of wolf-like people, Neanderthals and a savage tribe of Owains roaming the planet, she and Fly retreat to a protected corner of the world.

But things evolve to remind Jenny that the man she's in love with is an alien, and the world they live on isn't Earth.

This time, it's Jenny's turn to fight for what she wants! It's that, or die.

Snippet from Hunted

Now that her eyes were accustomed to the gloom, Jenny could see a whole array of holes. She heard voices, childlike, and a baby crying. Another face peered out of the wall. Larger, older, than the others, but still a child. Jenny caught herself thinking the word. Child. Early and primitive but children all the same. All were bare of hair, had a small button nose and a wide mouth. But it was their eyes that enchanted Jenny the most. They were blue and humanlike.
There was strange chirping laughter as faces played peek-a-boo with her. It was surreal.
Jenny caught herself. Of course it was surreal. This was Eden, not Earth. She was living with an alien man, having his alien baby, running from giant birds and other alien men and now living with primitive creatures that’d probably rival both Jelvia and Human when they fully evolved.
The pregnant female was looking at her. Jenny stared back as Mum fussed around her with her maracas. The early pain-relief had a lot of catching up to do, Jenny thought, as a contraction made her gasp. As it passed she looked back at the others. They were so unlike wolves. She had only called them that because of the howling. It had been fitting, she thought. ‘But not now,’ she said aloud.
She’d finally seen it with Bo—up close up there was nothing wolf-like about them at all. The pregnant female was lying on her side and the other was rubbing her back as she whimpered and made small chep-chep-chep sounds. Mum made soft noises in return and bustled around her—patting the foliage and furs around her form as if making her comfortable.
Jenny watched them until a wave of pain descended on her so hard she threw back her head and screamed. The pain had no respite now, it was continuous and she no longer noticed her surroundings. Gentle, hairy hands moved around her and pulled off her lower clothes. Then she was lifted beneath the armpits into a half squatting, half-standing pose.
‘Fly-yyyyyyyyyyyy!’ Jenny yelled. A howl outside the cave answered her shout. ‘Oh, Fly,’ she said on a half cry.
There came the soft chep-chep-chep voices in her ear. She smells, was Jenny’s last coherent thought as her body took over from her brain, and the urge to push became so overwhelming it couldn’t be ignored.
Then the agony was forgotten as her baby fell into the soft nest below.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Five Facts for Gabby Angel of God: Guardian and Messenger

Gregory J. Sandora 

1. The first three heartbeats of the story are true. Seventeen years ago, when my son Canon was five years old, our family spent a weekend in Bar Harbor, Maine. The part about Bo lying on a picnic table looking over at his son is similar to what happened to me. Like Bo, I saw an angel staring back at me. Unlike the story, she didn't stay around to spend a couple of weeks on an exciting, unrequited love adventure with me. 

2. The angel in the story, Gabby (short for Gabriella) is so divinely beautiful that Bo worries that she may attract too much attention when he and Gabby enter a hell-hole bar to save a young girl held against her will, in fact, my daughter and wife are the models for Gabby.

3. The book only required four or five edits. I have an amazing editor that helped with the process of getting the book ready to publish.  

4. Friends read my stories and try to find things they recognize, and my family gives me the inspiration. 

5. My first two books Jack Canon's American Destiny: He's All In! and Jack Canon's Women of the House: Love, Lust and Loyalty is my answer to the fifty shades phenom. They are packed full of sexy scenes with powerful women.  I enjoy writing about the inner workings of the government, the plotting, romantic entanglements and corruption at the highest levels. Jack Canon is a hero that becomes president to fight the immorality of super-wealth damaging the United States. 

Gabby Angel of God: Guardian and Messenger
A Supernatural Romance Thriller

Gabby, Angel of God is a Supernatural Romance Thriller that feels like falling in love again! 
The story starts out with a young widower, Bo, raising two small children – in the time it takes for three heartbeats his life will change!
Ride along as stunningly beautiful Gabby, takes this human man on the no-holds barred adventure of a lifetime! 
If you've ever lost a loved one this story is for you! 
A story of Peace, Love, Hope, Charity, and the strength of Faith, you'll love Gabby, Angel of God. Gabby, is not only gorgeous, she’s powerful, and able to take on forces that would make powerful armies turn and run for their lives.


About Gregory J. Sandora's  in his own words...

'I graduated with a business degree; owning and operating an Award Winning Franchise Fitness Center. Currently, I'm a professional manager and living in Florida with my beautiful wife and children, and following my passion.

Some of my other projects include a children’s book called Sammy the Sea Turtle.'

Friday, 4 April 2014

Five Facts about Renegades


S.A. Mason

1. Renegades was actually inspired by the television show Firefly. The short-lived show was much different than other science fiction shows; it really broadened my traditional notions of science fiction and helped me think outside of the box to just combine the things I was interested in. I had always heard the advice to write the book you’d want to read, and Firefly really helped me do that. I wouldn’t call Renegades fanfiction because it takes place in a whole different universe with new characters, but the Firefly inspiration is definitely noticeable, if you’ve seen the show. (If you haven’t seen it, you should watch it immediately.)

2. I spent almost four months doing world creation and developing the characters before I even made an outline. I wanted to know every detail of the world and people I would be writing about. Once the outline was done, I wrote 1,000-1,500 words a day and finished the first draft in two months. Renegades wasn’t published until almost a year after that because I couldn’t stop editing.

3. I had originally named the protagonist Elena, but as I was doing my character development, I read the 50 Shades of Grey series, and one of the characters was named Elena, so I changed her name to Elora. Not only did I not like Elena’s character in 50 Shades of Grey, but since that series was so popular, I didn’t want any kind of association with it. In the end, I’m glad I went with Elora. It’s not a very common name, but still pronounceable, which was what I aimed for with all the character’s names.

4. Nigel is my least favorite character. I find him to be very needy, annoying, and immature. But I think his character is necessary for the book to unfold how I wanted it to. His skill set is obviously necessary, but for him to stick with Elora through everything, I felt like he had to be in love with her. His level of dedication had to be more than friendship.

5. I decided to forgo the traditional publishing route and self-publish Renegades mostly because I’m impatient. Querying agents and securing a publisher can take years, and I wanted my book available as soon as possible (and my mom wouldn’t quit asking me when she could read it). The actual writing, editing, and publishing part of self-publishing wasn’t as hard and time-consuming as I thought it would be. Marketing, on the other hand, takes up more time than expected.


Amazon | BN | Kobo Smashwords
Elora Pertin spent her life trying to please her father, an esteemed General for the Empire.

When he convinced her to leave her quiet life as a scientist to advance a secret project for the Emperor, she had no idea what she was getting into. The seemingly innocent projects she engineered were actually being used to develop a genocidal weapon. After uncovering the Emperor’s plot, Elora had no choice but to act.
Elora finds herself fighting for her life against the Empire she once served, abandoning everything with only a handful of friends and an unlikely ally—the Emperor’s deadliest assassin. Will he prove himself true as her protector, a loyal servant of the Empire, or a romantic distraction? With the law and assassins searching the star system for them, Elora and her team are determined to accomplish their mission . . . or die trying.
Sara Atherton Mason

Sara Atherton Mason was raised in Somerville, Massachusetts, with an amazing immediate and extended family. 

She attended Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, graduating with highest honors in Chemistry. She then graduated from the Florida State University College of Law with high honors. 

She lives in the Florida with her toy poodle, Melvin, and clerks for a United States District Court Judge. She enjoys coffee, wine, sports, and science fiction television shows.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Five Facts about A Fair Exchange

This month, Monique McDonell is the first author to reveal FIVE FACTS about her latest release (she is also offering prizes. Scroll down for details). During the FIVE FACTS month we'll  be discovering facts about books that their author would rather not be known.

Over to Monique...
1. Just like the main character in my novel, A Fair Exchange, I was an exchange student in Massachusetts as a teenager.

2. Of all my novels this one had the longest gestation period.

3. I had lots of fun researching this book doing road trips in Australia and eating out at places in the book.

4. The character of Stacey in the book is an amalgam of a few of my friends when I live in America. (Stacey is a very American name and was not common in Australia in the 1980s and yet I had several American friends by that name – all my Australian friends were called Jennifer, Emma or Kylie).

5. Of all the male characters I’ve written Matt is my favourite so far. If I wasn’t happily married he’d be welcome on my door-step anytime!

A Fair Exchange

Who hasn’t wondered about their first love? What happened? What went wrong? Where are they now?
What if you got a second chance?

Amelia Armstrong is about to find out!

It's just a shame her long-lost love, Matt, has returned (looking way too good and acting way too sweet) when her life is a shambles and she has finally decided once and for all to put herself, and not whichever man is currently in her life, first.

How do you balance that desire to recapture that loving feeling with the need to finally be the best version of yourself? What if this really is the one, how do you choose when to stand your ground and when to cut your losses? Amelia takes a journey from Sydney to New York and back again trying to find the answers while negotiating with pop-divas, ex-lovers, crazy teenagers, a well-meaning cousin and the tabloids.

A Fair Exchange is a story about being a grown up when, maybe, you’d much rather be sixteen again.
It was not as if he was the first one to mention it. In the past week everyone who had entered my apartment had commented on the shiny new Vespa parked in the middle of the otherwise empty living room. In fact, each and every one of them had imaginatively said “Amelia you have a red Vespa parked in your living room!”  And they all said it in a tone that implied I might not have noticed, as if it may have magically appeared there.How could I not notice a vehicle parked in what was otherwise an empty room?What amazed me was that the Vespa was what they chose to comment on.
 Not that Nick had dumped me, after ten years, for a twenty-one year-old. Nor that he had moved out, taking basically all the furniture and leaving me with a great view over the beach and an enormous mortgage.
 No one even commented about the fact that I, in turn, had quit the fabulous job that had always meant way too much to me. No, they commented on the Vespa. What I could not understand though was why it hadn’t bothered me until right then, when Matthew Blue commented. And when he did comment, why had I collapsed into this embarrassing sea of tears? How had this happened? How had I become this sobbing pathetic figure of womanhood?  And more importantly how had I ended up thirty-six and alone? Didn’t I used to have so much potential? Everyone had said so, hadn’t they?  “Amelia Armstrong is something special.”
 I was one of those shiny young girls who took risks and dreamed big. I was one of the smart ones who knew what she wanted and went after it. I was one to watch. If I hadn’t been that kind of a girl I would never have met Matthew all those years ago. A different girl would not have found herself, on the other side of the world, at sixteen, staring into his dark and dreamy eyes. So where was that girl right now, I wanted to know? And how had a girl with so much potential gotten it so horribly wrong?
About the author – Monique McDonell:

'I am an Australian author who writes contemporary women's fiction including chick lit and romance. I live on Sydney's Northern Beaches with my husband and daughter, and despite my dog phobia, with a dog called Skip.

I have written all my life especially as a child when I loved to write short stories and poetry. At University I studied Creative Writing as part of my Communication degree. Afterwards I was busy working in public relations I didn't write for pleasure for quite a few years although I wrote many media releases, brochures and newsletters. (And I still do in my day-job!)

When I began to write again I noticed a trend - writing dark unhappy stories made me unhappy. So I made a decision to write a novel with a happy ending and I have been writing happy stories ever since.

I have been a member of the writing group The Writer’s Dozen for eight years. Our anthology Better Than Chocolate raised over $10,000 for the charity Room to Read and helped build a library in South East Asia. I am also a member of the Romance Writers of Australia.

A Fair Exchange is the fifth novel I have released in the last two years.'

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

A riveting political thriller

Spotlighting TALES OF M17
J.J Ward
When someone starts assassinating paparazzi in three countries, MI7 sits up. Apparently, the killer is none other than Dmitri Vassyli Kramski, retired SVR field-operative and former Kremlin protégé. 

True, the Cold War is long finished, but everyone knows Vladimir Putin is as unhappy for Russia to play second fiddle on the international stage as even the most strident of his Communist predecessors. In 2010 therefore, East-West relations remain as tortuous as ever. 

Kramski’s trail leads deep into London’s émigré community, forcing his pursuers into conflict with an unknown organisation bent on protecting him. Bit by bit, he begins to look less like a professional assassin and more like someone plotting to scupper the foundations of Western democracy itself. To compound matters, the Russians are as baffled by him as anyone.

Read the 4/5 review at http://bit.ly/L8JM3U

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

A truly modern love story told through emails

Click: An Online Love Story
Lisa Becker

Fast approaching her 30th birthday and finding herself not married, not dating, and without even a prospect or a house full of cats, Renee Greene, the heroine of Click: An Online Love Story, reluctantly joins her best guy pal on a journey to find love online in Los Angeles. 
The story unfolds through a series of emails between Renee and her best friends (anal-compulsive Mark, the overly-judgmental Ashley and the over-sexed Shelley) as well as the gentlemen suitors she meets online. 

From the guy who starts every story with "My buddies and I were out drinking one night," to the egotistical "B" celebrity looking for someone to stroke his ego, Renee endures her share of hilarious and heinous cyber dates. 
Fraught with BCC's, FWD's and inadvertent Reply to All's, readers will root for Renee to "click" with the right man.

Read the 4/5 review at http://bit.ly/1d7GUex

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Karen Duvall's sweet romance

'What a perfect night for a kidnapping.'

When Kelly Bancroft receives a suicide letter from her brother, she knows the star-worshipping cult he belongs to is to blame. She travels to the California desert to try talking him into leaving the deadly Star Mother cult, but he's nowhere to be found.

Cult intervention specialist—and ex-cultist—Sam Reed, aka The Arrow, has his work cut out for him when he teams up with Kelly to rescue her brother. Sam has good reason to avoid the cult that killed his mother, but he's made it his mission to save those who have fallen under Star Mother's spell.

Deluded by their fantasy beliefs, the cult's followers await a starship that will deliver them to utopia on another planet. The caveat? All passengers must leave their bodies behind.

Will Sam’s and Kelly’s romantic relationship help or hinder them in their struggle to stop a mass suicide? Or will they themselves fall victim to the cult’s fatal madness?

Read the 4/5 review at http://bit.ly/1b7oDhA

Friday, 7 March 2014

A chick lit novel with lots of depth

Spotlighting Marie Flanigan's début novel...
One Big Beautiful Thing
In this touching début novel, artist Kate Abernethy is trying to put her life back together after the death of her boyfriend. At first, moving back in with her mother seems like a good way to sort out her finances and re-evaluate her life—instead it proves to be a minefield of doubt and recrimination. Floundering, she pushes herself to take new opportunities so she can rebuild her life and have a second chance at happiness.

Read the 5/5 review at http://bit.ly/1iamy9D

Saturday, 1 March 2014

A powerful fantasy thriller from Stephen Holak

How far would you go to save your wife and child?

To another world?

When Jordan Parish's wife Melanie disappears shortly after the couple announce their pregnancy, everyone assumes the motive is ransom.

But six months pass with no demand, and when the FBI discovers the only clue to her disappearance, a missing family heirloom worn by Melanie the day she vanished--with Jordan's blood on it--the investigation turns to the temperamental and volatile Jordan.

Desperate to find his wife and clear his name, Jordan mounts an investigation of his own. What he discovers about his adopted wife's hidden past plunges him plunges him into the world of mystery and magic surrounding their families. And when Jordan and Melanie's brother Chase pursue strange assailants into a mysterious storm, Jordan is cast into a realm where he finds his child at the center of a struggle for power surrounding the culmination of a centuries-old prophecy.

The Winds of Heaven and Earth launches a new fantasy trilogy, blending epic and contemporary genres in the tradition of Stephen R. Donaldson's Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever and Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber.

Read the 4/5 review at http://bit.ly/1e709Ll

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Writing YA isn't about censoring but more about communication

Barbara Kloss

There has always been something magical to me about YA novels. It's not any one thing in particular, but if I had to focus on one, I'd say the main reason I love both reading and writing in that genre centers around the themes YA tends to deal with. Themes like discovering yourself and finding love for the first time or finding the strength to stand up for what you believe. It's during that period in life where we really find which platform to stand on. Where we truly begin the course that helps define the rest of our life. I love watching characters (and people) grow into who they were made to be and find the courage within themselves to become who they truly are, and YA, for the most part, tends to dwell there.

But what "can" and "can't" you write about for YA? I'm pretty sure anything goes, these days.

YA has changed so much over the years. The lines defining things we "can" and "can't" write about seem to have, well, gone, and more and more often I find myself reading something that surprises me, considering YA is "technically" ages 13+. YA has become more inclusive of what may have traditionally been referred to as "adult themes," because YA isn't just read by teens anymore; adults make up a large percentage of the YA readership. Twilight is proof of that.

For my own writing, however, I draw a line, but it's not because I don't think the YA readership "can" or "can't" handle certain subjects and situations. It has more to do with who I am as a person. Even as a reader, I tend to enjoy books that lean toward the "more censored" side. It's not that I like pretending certain aspects of the world don't exist. I know they do; I just don't like reading about them in great detail when I can get the idea in a few words or sentences. I also have a fairly happy disposition, so while I might appreciate darker novels, I don't typically enjoy reading books with a tone that dwells on the darker side of humanity, unless there is some great redemptive quality at the end.

Over the years, I've really had to think hard about the idea of what I "can" and "can't" write about in YA. But again – YA has changed so much, and I've realized it's more a question of what I "want" or "don't want to" write about, and the answer to that question is so different for every writer. Once I answered it for me, I realized that my answer would have been the same had I written for middle grade or new adult or adult.

It's less about censoring myself and more about what I'm trying to communicate. As much as I write for me, I also believe that I have a certain responsibility to those reading my stories, and now that I have a toddler, I’m feeling the responsibility of that even more. Do I want to write characters who learn the importance of forgiveness? Or do I want to write characters who desperately hold on to grudges and seek revenge? Do I want to show how important mercy is? Or write an emphasis on judgment prevailing? What kind of person is my hero or heroine? What lessons or sense of morality am I trying to convey? I mean really…what is the point of this, anyway?

There is such a rare and very beautiful relationship between author and reader; what am I REALLY saying to others about what I think is important in life? In relationships?

But how does that specifically apply to YA? I love the voice of YA. How raw and real and honest it is. I love its emotional potency and the focus on relational dynamics and personal growth, and I love that emotional connection I tend to feel more with YA than any other genre. Probably because there will always be a little teenager inside me, and I think that's true for most of us. Pretty much anything goes in YA fiction these days, and I think as a writer, deciding what you "can" and "can't" write about is more a matter of personal preference.

Breath of Dragons

After Prince Alaric's death, Daria and Alex set off in search of the legendary box of the Pandors'. The box is famed to hold a secret of power—one strong enough to overcome Lord Eris and the shield of power he stole from Valdon. Daria doesn't know where the box is hidden, but she can't ignore the silent urging, beckoning her to the land of Pendel—the land her mother, Aurora Pandor, was from
Time is running out. Lord Eris's army of shadowguard vastly outnumber Valdon's forces, and if Daria doesn't find the box in time, Valdon will need reinforcements from the other territories to survive. But those territories will not hand over their armies willingly, not without Daria's hand in marriage. 

And there is another, older power rising, one that hasn't been seen in centuries—one thought lost since the days of Galahad: the dragons.

Barbara Kloss studied biochemistry at California Polytechnic State University, and after she began working in a clinical lab, found herself daydreaming about far off lands and slightly deranged wizards. She, her husband, baby boy, and Lhasa currently live in Arizona, where she escapes the summer heat by writing about lush vegetation and moderate to cold climates. Author of the Pandoran Novels, a YA fantasy series.

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