Category Archives: guest post

BOOK TOUR GUEST POST: Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell

Summer on the Short Bus

by Bethany Crandell

YA Contemporary

Book Description

Cricket Montgomery has been thrown under the short bus. Shipped off to a summer camp by her father, Cricket is forced to play babysitter to a bunch of whiny kids—or so she thinks. When she realizes this camp is actually for teens with special needs, Cricket doubts she has what it takes to endure twenty-four hours, let alone two weeks.

Thanks to her dangerously cute co-counselor, Quinn, there may be a slim chance for survival. However, between the campers’ unpredictability and disregard for personal space, Cricket’s limits get pushed. She will have to decide if suffering through her own handicapped hell is worth a summer romance—and losing her sanity.

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MELVIN: THE MUSE BENEATH MY FRO
By Bethany Crandell
A muse, as defined by dictionary.com, is a goddess that inspires a creative artist. I’m not sure that I’d consider myself an “artist”, at least not in the traditional sense of the word, and I’m positive I wouldn’t consider my muse a “goddess”, in any sense of the word, but together my muse and I have concocted some pretty ridiculous awesome stories over the years, and it didn’t seem fair to celebrate the launch of SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS without giving some public recognition to the fuzzy little guy who inspires all the magic.
So, without further adieu, I’d like to introduce you to Melvin,
the
hamster who lives inside my brain.  
(Yes, there is a brain under all that
hair!)
Most of Melvin’s time is spent in a steady state of this: sloppy, hung
over,
and totally content to strive for uselessness.  
(The weapon is for
the protection of intellectual property, obviously). 
hamster photo: Gun Hamster hamsterguncute.jpg
But once I get him under the white noise of my beloved Revlon Ionic Pro hairdryer *pauses to receive product endorsement check* like I do every morning, well…that’s when the near-comatose behavior goes out the window and Melvin
actually proves himself as a hamster of worth.
His steps are slow and steady at first–it takes a minute to work the kinks out–but soon he’s at a full sprint and that’s when the magic happens, people.  
(Melvin was a stunt hamster in a former life. His sudden ejection from the wheel has nothing to do with the pints of Guinness he threw back at a St. Patty’s Day party the night before this video was taken)
hamster on wheel photo: Hamster hamster.gif
New characters take shape while old ones are revived with exciting new story lines.
Plot holes are miraculously filled and dead ends are rerouted into territory I never knew existed. It’s like he’s morphed from standard issue hamster into a rodent Jedi or something. The force is always with Melvin….
hamster photo: hamster hamster-1.jpg
 (I have no idea who Phil Steak is, but I thank him for this image)
Anyway, there’s so much activity going on in those ten minutes I spend under the dryer each morning, it’s no wonder Melvin has to gorge himself when he’s done.
(Carrying that much poundage on those teensy, tiny little toes isn’t easy, folks)hamster photo:  homyak_34.jpg

I could say that he’s awesome, talented, ambitious, inspiring, loyal…

but there really aren’t enough adjectives to accurately convey my love for this little guy.
Instead I’ll leave it with this:
MELVIN IS THE BEST MUSE
A WRITER COULD ASK FOR!
Quick side note: *whispers so Melvin can’t hear her*
 Hamsters only cost like $5, so coming up with replacement parts,
*coughs* three year life span *coughs*, should you need them,
won’t be a burden on your wallet.
About the Author

I wish I had some mysterious secret to reveal about myself in hopes that you’d find me interesting…but I don’t.  When it comes to me, what you see is what you get. And what you get is an irreverent, sarcastic and emotional girl who writes stories about characters with these same traits.

I live in San Diego with my husband, two kiddos, and a chocolate lab who has no regard for personal space. I’m slightly obsessed with John Hughes and the wonderful collection of films he left behind, and I’m confident that Jake Ryan will be showing up on my doorstep any day now…

I firmly believe that prayer solves problems, and that laughter is the best medicine. Along with avocados. Avocados make the world a better place.

I’m represented by Rachael Dugas of Talcott Notch Literary Agency.

Website |  Blog | Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

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PRIZES:
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2 Summer Camp Survival Packs and Signed copies of the book! US Only.
3 sets of signed swag! US ONLY

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

 

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RockStar Book Tours

GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: The Tallent & Lowery Series by Amy Lignor

Today I’m spotlighting the adventure/fantasy series by Amy Lignor, Tallent & Lowery!  Let me tell you about each of the books.

13–Book One

Description

In 1902, in a dark room on the fifth floor of Carnegie Hall, thirteen people came together to continue a tradition that had been set in stone thousands of years before.

In 2012, Leah Tallent is Head of Research at the New York Public Library. Stoic and stable, brilliant and cynical, she has forever enjoyed her existence among the book stacks. But even with her unparalleled intellect, there was no way to know that on the historic steps between America’s famous lions, she would become involved with a crazy man on a fanatical quest.

Gareth Lowery has spent his life searching for the ultimate artifact that he is certain exists. His life’s pursuit has been to retrieve twelve keys hidden by men whose job it was to protect the single biggest secret ever kept. To find the keys he must enlist the help of an unwilling guide who, unfortunately, knows much more than he bargained for.

From the first page to the last word, this fantastic duo become immersed in a whirlwind treasure hunt with historical and passionate repercussions. From the strange and eerie Winchester House to the blustery darkness of Loch Ness, Gareth and Leah will quickly learn that the theory of duality is correct: For every bad there is a good and, for Heaven, there most assuredly exists…Hell.

The Sapphire Storm–Book Two

Description

After going up against a man who believed he was the Devil, himself, the beloved characters from 13 – Leah Tallent and Gareth Lowery – are beyond exhausted. Now they are about to embark on the most terrifying journey imaginable…a trip to meet Leah’s parents.

When Leah arrives where the ‘home fires burn,’ her sarcasm burns even brighter, while Gareth Lowery – the handsome adventurer – uses his charm to sway the ‘odd’ Tallent clan. But when a frightening call from Gareth’s sister arrives telling him that her love has disappeared, the daring duo is soon running away from one horrific situation directly into another. A new puzzle from the past has come to life. Following clues left behind, the courageous couple becomes embedded in a world filled with liars, killers and greed.

And when the riddle of a famous ‘Bard’ is solved, a strange woman appears who has far more in common with Leah than she can possibly imagine! The heart-stopping suspense of this new quest takes them from Coptic Cairo to the magical world of Petra, in search of a cave deep underground that once housed a true ‘Illuminator.’

Yet again, they must find the answers and stay one step ahead of true villains who are determined to make sure that – this time – Tallent & Lowery do not survive.

The Hero’s Companion–Book Three

Description

With their second battle behind them, Leah Tallent and Gareth Lowery find themselves still knee-deep in hell. What should’ve ended with a celebration of passion wrapped in each other’s arms becomes a nightmare once more, as a mysterious man demands Leah to return home, or else her beloved father will be found at the bottom of the sea.

Scrambling to figure out what’s happened Tallent & Lowery walk in on a family that has literally gone insane: A mother filled with accusations, three sisters who wish them nothing but certain death, and a frightening story of a blood-red eye that leads to a puzzle with immense repercussions. The woman named Anippe who readers questioned in The Sapphire Storm is back, with an item in her possession that will have Tallent & Lowery heading out on an adventure based on pure emotion and ultimate fear – where victory may just depend on their willingness to sacrifice each other.

The time has come for Tallent & Lowery to go head-to-head with the mysterious voice from 13, as a villain is unveiled…and a war begins!

 

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Creating a Famous Duo in Fiction

by Amy Lignor

Personally, my own favorite duo out there in America is the same duo that brought about ‘Tallent & Lowery’ in the first place. Patience and Fortitude, the majestic lions that sit in front of the NYPL, not only greet millions everyday, but they also protect the home, so to speak, of Leah Tallent.

Sherlock and Watson are probably the most famous detective pair out there in the literary world; when it comes to other media venues, you have everything from Crockett and Tubbs to Scooby-Doo and Shaggy to Batman and Robin. Various daring duo’s have always graced the screens – big and small – and have always served up the perfect banter and wit in books we’ve come to love.

With Leah Tallent & Gareth Lowery, I wanted to draw on all of these pairs in very subtle ways. With Leah’s happy (sometimes not) sarcasm and dryness, mixed with Gareth’s easy-going manner and love for her – their combined passion for solving these puzzles have drawn readers to their sides. To me, no matter what unique web they find themselves trying to unravel, it’s their strength as a duo that makes the book a success.

When the partners happen to be male and female (Nick and Nora Charles, for example), they can also bring a true bond into the book, which adds to the power of the story. Leah Tallent has certainly gotten into some dire situations in books; 13, The Sapphire Storm and now, The Hero’s Companion. Yet, it’s not her intelligence or her way of reasoning things out that saves her – it is her partner, Gareth Lowery, who makes sure that Leah always has something worth fighting for.

Gareth, of course, is the one who basically ruined Leah’s quiet librarian life in the first place when, in 13, he appeared inside the basement of the NYPL to retrieve a frightening book that’d been buried in the cornerstone of the building. He expected to discover the next steps he had to take in order to complete a lifelong mission of his. What he never expected was to discover the hard-headed, smart-mouthed, warm-hearted librarian who would literally be the brain and soul he needed for the rest of this life.

Being able to take the detective aspects and combine them with the romantic aspects of literary partners (insert pretty much all of Jane Austen partners here), has allowed ‘Tallent & Lowery’ to become far more than just banter and wit. And…with the next four novels to come, readers will be more than surprised when they find out that this pair may just have to live with the fact that their adventures and puzzle-solving could lead to a break-up that neither saw coming.

When it comes down to duo’s, the literary world has offered more than its fair share. ‘Tallent & Lowery’, hopefully, will become one of those teams that will never be forgotten.

Until Next Time, Everybody,
Amy

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About the Author

Being the daughter of a Research Librarian, books and information were always a ‘gift,’ and there is nothing I like more. In fact, if the NYPL would let me live in their basement, that’s where I would be. I am very proud of my books – especially the ‘Tallent & Lowery’ series – which has been so well-received that I am beyond humbled. Being able to ‘link’ historical locations together and create puzzles that bestselling authors have called, “The Da Vinci Code With Heart”; “Action/Adventure Gold”; and “The Best of the 21st Century” has been beyond my wildest expectations. I am the Owner/Operator of The Write Companion; and I recently was beyond honored to be asked to take on the role of Editor-in-Chief of Hallowed Ink Press – an amazing traditional publisher that will break new ground in the industry. Life is busy…but it’s good. And I have a wealth of friends, family and fans to thank for allowing that to happen! My favorite advice? “While I live, let me LIVE!”

Goodreads

website

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Amy is offering one commenter an ebook collection of all three books in the Tallent & Lowery Series!

 

BOOK TOUR GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: Dead Dreams by Emma Right

Dead Dreams

by Emma Right

Dead Dreams Series, Book One

Book Description

Eighteen-year-old Brie O’Mara has so much going for her: a loving family in the sidelines, an heiress for a roommate, and dreams that might just come true. Big dreams–of going to acting school, finishing college and making a name for herself. She is about to be the envy of everyone she knew. What more could she hope for? Except her dreams are about to lead her down the road to nightmares. Nightmares that could turn into a deadly reality.

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On Being a Mom and a Writer

by Emma Right

“How do you find time to write with such a busy schedule and homeschooling?” or “How do you find time to write?” These are the two most common questions people have asked me time and again. And I always say, “you want the short answer, the true answer, or the practical one?”


So here goes:
Any which way i can make the time is the short, simple answer.

The more truthful answer would probably be: I pray for strength and motivation everyday, many times during the day, sometimes it feels every second of the day! Often I’ve thought if I were God (and I’m glad I’m not!) I’d say, “Not her again!”

For the in depth and more practical answer I’d say this:

As a busy mom I feel it’s important to carve out a small piece in my life for personal growth. To me being organized is the key. When life is a chaos it’s hard to be organized, but it is possible and in fact needful to arrange our lives, as busy moms, into manageable sizes to stay sane–at least for me it has been that way. I’m not saying it’s easy–my husband travels about 60% of the time, and it can be emotionally draining dealing with whiny kids–but if we can lay railroad tracks for our daily lives it’d be easier to function.

On a week to week basis I have my tracks laid down-I know which kid is doing what, when and what meals to be served throughout the entire week–this would cut down on unnecessary time making extra trips to the grocery store. I do most of my shopping on the internet–like books, supplies, clothes, and make-up, to save on time–and it’s less expensive too, with free shipping.

Also, on my site, I have some blogs on using free things to give the kids a great education (and I hope to input more of such things) but still give us, moms, some time to gather ourselves before we fall apart at the seams. One example is using Netflix movies to help in the homeschooling–make movie nights a meaningful and educational experience. And a mom can take a break as the kids watch something that would benefit them.

I’d advice young moms to audit their time–find out when or which time block they spend their time on doing meaningless tasks–it’s like budgeting with time as your currency.

Another advice I have, and this may seem unrelated, is to stay away from negative people as much as possible. There is something draining about being around negativity and this mental torture will translate to stress, illnesses (which will make us even busier and serves no purpose) and there is something about negative words that even suck out whatever little time and energy we have.

But having said that, about the homeschooling, it’s good to have a schedule but if things fall apart and some kid really didn’t finish up whatever task was given, I’d learned through almost 17 years of homeschooling that the best thing is to just move on and not fret. There will always be another day, and in every stormy cloud there truly is a silver lining.

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Chapter One
It started on a warm April afternoon. Gusts of wind blew against the oak tree right outside my kitchen balcony, in my tiny apartment in Atherton, California. Sometimes the branches that touched the side of the building made scraping noises. The yellow huckleberry flowers twining their way across my apartment balcony infused the air with sweetness.
My mother had insisted, as was her tendency on most things, I take the pot of wild huckleberry, her housewarming gift, to my new two-bedroom apartment. It wasn’t really new, just new to me, as was the entire experience of living separately, away from my family, and the prospect of having a roommate, someone who could be a best friend, something I’d dreamed of since I finished high school and debuted into adulthood.
“Wait for me by the curb,” my mother said, her voice blaring from the phone even though I didn’t set her on speaker. “You need to eat better.” Her usual punctuation at the end of her orders.
So, I skipped down three flights of steps and headed toward the side of the apartment building to await my mother’s gift of the evening, salad in an á la chicken style, her insistent recipe to cure me of bad eating habits. At least it wasn’t chicken soup double-boiled till the bones melted, I consoled myself.
I hadn’t waited long when a vehicle careened round the corner. I heard it first, that high-pitched screech of brakes wearing thin when the driver rammed his foot against it. From the corner of my eye, even before I turned to face it, I saw the blue truck. It rounded the bend where Emerson Street met Ravenswood, tottered before it righted itself and headed straight at me.
I took three steps back, fell and scrambled to get back up as the vehicle like a giant bullet struck the sidewalk I had only seconds ago stood on. The driver must have lost control, but when he hit the sidewalk it slowed the vehicle enough so he could bridle his speed and manage the truck as he continued to careen down the street.
My mother arrived a half minute later but she had seen it all. Like superwoman, she leaped out of her twenty-year-old Mercedes and rushed toward me, all breathless and blonde hair disheveled.
“Are you all right?” She reached out to help me up.
“Yes, yes,” I said, brushing the dirt off my yoga pants.
“Crazy driver. Brie, I just don’t know about this business of you staying alone here like this.” She walked back to her white Mercedes, leaned in the open window, and brought out a casserole dish piled high with something green. Make that several shades of green.
I followed her, admittedly winded.“Seriously, Mom. It’s just one of those things. Mad drivers could happen anywhere I live.”
She gave me no end of grief as to what a bad idea it was for me to live alone like this even though she knew I was going to get a roommate.
“Mom, stop worrying,” I said.
“You’re asking me to stop being your mother, I hope you realize this.”
“I’ll find someone dependable by the end of the week, I promise.” No way I was going back to live at home. Not that I came from a bad home environment. But I had my reasons.
I had advertised on Craig’s List, despite my mother’s protests that only scum would answer “those kinds of ads.”
Perhaps there was some truth to Mother’s biases, but I wouldn’t exactly call Sarah McIntyre scum. If she was, what would that make me?
Sarah’s father had inherited the family “coal” money. Their ancestors had emigrated from Scotland (where else, with a name like McIntyre, right?) in the early 1800s and bought an entire mountain (I kid you not) in West Virginia. It was a one-hit wonder in that the mountain hid a coal fortune under it, and hence the McIntyre Coal Rights Company was born. This was the McIntyre claim to wealth, and also a source of remorse and guilt for Sarah, for supposedly dozens of miners working for them had lost their lives due to the business, most to lung cancer or black lung, as it was commonly called. Hazards of the occupation.

 

About the Author

Emma Right is a happy wife and homeschool mother of five living in the Pacific West Coast. Besides running a busy home, and looking after too many pets, she also enjoys reading aloud to her children and often has her nose in a book. Right was a copywriter for a major advertising agency during her B.C. years. B.C.meaning “Before Children,” which may as well have been in the B.C.era, as she always says.

www.emmaright.com | twitter.com/emmbeliever

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Enter the tour wide giveaway to win a copy of the book or an Amazon gift card!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

 

 

 

BOOK TOUR GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: Letters to Nowhere by Julie Cross

Letters to Nowhere

by Julie Cross

Letters to Nowhere Series, Book One

Book Description

From the International Bestselling Author of the Tempest Series…

Set in the tough world of Elite Gymnastics…

I’ve gotten used to the dead parents face. I’ve gotten used to living with my gymnastics coach. I’ve even adjusted to sharing a bathroom with his way-too-hot son. Dealing with boys is not something that’s made it onto my list of experiences as of yet. But here I am, doing it. And something about Jordan–being around him, talking to him, thinking about him–makes me feel like I can finally breathe again. That’s something I haven’t been able to do lately. He knows what it feels like to be me right now. He knows what it’s like to wonder–what now? I think about it constantly. I need answers. I need to know how to get through this. In the gym, if you’re struggling, you train harder, you do drills and conditioning. How do I work hard at moving on? At being on my own? And what happens if I might be…maybe…probably falling for Jordan? I mean we live together now. That can’t happen, can it? But kissing him…well, let’s just say it’s not an easy activity to forget.

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Humiliation 101: a Letters to Nowhere excerpt
In Letters to Nowhere, my main character, Karen, goes from being an only child living with two loving parents in her isolated elite gymnastics world that trades high school for online home schooling—no dating or boy experience at all—to living with her male coach and his very cute and socially normal teenage son. Right from the start, she is caught in one embarrassing situation after another. Prior to her first night at her Coach’s place, Karen’s teammates plant some new concerns she hadn’t thought of until now.

As expected, right after practice, while my face was still as red as my hair and twice as sweaty, Blair turned back into “best friend Blair” and drilled me immediately with all her concerns. She had no internal censor whatsoever. “What if you’re, like, walking to the bathroom and Coach Bentley is coming out of the shower or whatever and you get a glimpse of him naked?” Blair had her head flipped upside down as she forcefully ran a brush through her long black hair. “Do you think that image will ever leave your head? How is he going to coach you after you’ve seen his bare ass or worse—”
“God, Blair!” Ellen groaned, “Ew.”
I rolled my eyes. “I’m not going to see him naked. Besides, I’m sure we’re both mature enough to deal with accidents that aren’t preventable.”
Okay, so I was totally not mature enough to deal with seeing Coach Bentley’s unexposed skin, but you could bet I’d do everything I could to prevent the incident from happening.
And then later on Karen’s reminded of Blair’s warning when she realizes who she’s sharing a bathroom with.

After finishing all the paperwork, I finally made myself walk up the stairs. Jordan’s bedroom door was open, his body stretched across the bed, textbooks and notebooks spread out in front of him as he scribbled on a page. Remembering Blair’s concerns, I knocked lightly on the door frame and he looked up right away. “Is it okay if…if I use the shower? You don’t need to go in there now…do you? Because I can totally wait or whatever.” He looked mildly amused with my obvious distress. “The bathroom’s all yours, Karen.” As I started to turn away, he added, “Just don’t mess with those magazines under the sink.” My eyes widened. Jordan laughed and looked down at his notebook again. “Kidding.” I let out a breath before walking away. “I removed all traces of porn this morning before you got here,” he said to my back. Being an only child had left me highly unprepared for a number of situations. I was clearly in over my head. Not something I felt often.

Hope you enjoyed the short excerpts and check out Letters to Nowhere if you’d like to read of Karen and Jordan’s story!

Thanks,
Julie Cross

About the Author

Julie Cross is the International Bestselling author of the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, and the final installment, Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press). She’s also the author of Letters to Nowhere (8/13), a mature young adult romance set in the world of elite gymnastics, as well as several forthcoming young adult and new adult novels with publishers like Entangled, Sourcebooks, HarperCollins, and St. Martin’s Press/Thomas Dunne Books.
Julie lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast, longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former Gymnastics Program Director with the YMCA. She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres. Outside of her reading and writing credibility’s, Julie Cross is a committed–but not talented–long distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar weather survivor, expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym shoe addict. You can find her online via twitter, her personal website, email, facebook, Goodreads, or co-moderating the YAwriters section of reddit.
FIND THE BOOK:
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There are two tour-wide giveaways.

–GRAND PRIZE PACKAGE GIVEAWAY to ONE Winner.

–An eBook of LETTERS TO NOWHERE to FIVE Winners.

The Grand Prize giveaway is open internationally, however international winners can only select five of the books listed due to shipping costs.

GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY:

AUTOGRAPHED FINISHED COPIES of…

- All 3 of Simone Elkeles’ HOW TO RUIN series

- TEETH by Hannah Moskowitz
- GONE GONE GONE by Hannah Moskowitz
- LET THE SKY FALL by Shannon Messenger
BITTERSWEET by Sara Zarr
ARCs of OCTOBER 2013 YA RELEASES

- UNBREAKABLE by Kami Garcia

- ANYWHERE BUT HERE by
- BANG by Lisa McMann
- REALITY BOY by A.S. King
- NEVER FADE by Alexandra Bracken
SIX MONTHS LATER by Natalie D. Richards

ARCs of NOV 2013 – FEB 2014 YA RELEASES

- ALIENATED by Melissa Landers (Feb 2014)
- ROOMIES by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando (Dec 2013)
- AFTER EDEN by Helen Douglas (Nov 2013)

OTHER BOOK PRIZES

- Personalized signed copies of TEMPEST + VORTEX (a foreign edition if available can be swapped for the U.S. edition)

- E-copy of LETTERS TO NOWHERE by Julie Cross (if print is available at time of shipping, a print copy will be sent, too)

WINNER’S CHOICE (ONE of Following BIG prizes)

- Basic US Kindle (valued at $69.00 USD) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007HCCNJU/ref=sa_menu_kdptq

OR

- $50 US Amazon Gift card

OR

- $50 US Barnes and Noble gift card

*As some prizes may not be redeemable by international participants, alternative suggestions are welcome but not guaranteed.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

 

RockStar Book Tours

BOOK TOUR GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: Welcome to the Darkness by L.M. Justus

Welcome to the Darkness

by LM Justus

Darkness Trilogy, Book One

Book Description

A typical teenager, seventeen-year-old Reed Hennessy doesn’t realize how lucky he is to lead a normal life until he loses everything, including his humanity. The attacker who slaughters his family and destroys their home turns out to be a vampire, a creature Reed had considered a myth.

Now a vampire himself, but with the unique ability to walk in sunlight, Reed struggles in the dark underworld he didn’t even know existed. His only two allies in his fight to stay alive are his reluctant mentor, Nathaniel, a vampire with over two hundred years’ worth of emotional baggage, and Sarah, a rookie cop with a secret ability of her own.

Together, Reed and his companions face a harrowing, cross-country journey before stumbling into a plot which could mean the end of everything for humans and vampires alike.

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My Journey to Becoming a Writer

by LM Justus

Around the age of eleven or so, I really started to love books. I was only allowed to borrow a maximum of twelve books at a time on my library card, so I would always take out exactly twelve books each time. Happy times!

By the age of thirteen, I had been reading the Choose Your Own Adventure series for a couple of years, and I decided to write one of my own. This took quite a bit of planning as the story branched off in many directions. I scribbled everything down on various pieces of paper, and gave up after completing only a small fraction of the book.

In grade 9, I wrote a short story for a school assignment, and my teacher called me in after class to have a serious talk. She asked me if I knew what plagiarism was. In retrospect, it’s flattering that she thought my story was so good it might have been copied from a real author, but at the time I was terrified. Luckily, I was wearing a necklace that I’d described in great detail in my story, and I showed the necklace to my teacher. Everything worked out – phew.

Despite my penchant for writing, I never considered a career in the field because I felt I was expected to do something that . . . made more money. My parents wanted me to be a doctor or a computer programmer. I attended the University of Waterloo to earn myself a Computer Science (CS) degree and graduated with a Bachelor of Mathematics – the Math faculty being the one offering CS degrees. I started working at a high-tech company testing software and . . . I hated it. After taking some aptitude tests, I discovered all the writing-related jobs at the top of the list. I was fortunate to make a sideways move within the same company to a documentation job, writing the manuals and online help files for the software I’d been testing.

In my spare time, I started writing various works of fiction, but never got much past the prologue and chapter one. Then, a friend of mine introduced me to NaNoWriMo, which is a challenge to write a short (50,000 word) novel in a single month. This was a pivotal moment for me, because I did it! I managed to write a novel to its completion. I’m not even sure how I managed it because I was sick with the worst cold of my entire life that month, and I had three kids under the age of six. I knew my novel was probably mediocre at best, but I self-published it anyway because I wanted a “real” copy of my book.

The next year, I wrote a book for my kids. I was having trouble finding early chapter books for them, so I wrote a book for them myself. It’s full of inside jokes and things they used to say, which they loved, but it wasn’t meant for mass consumption. I really wanted to write something that was aimed at the masses though, and I finally got the chance once my youngest daughter started grade 1, i.e., when all of my kids were in school full days.

I sent them off to school that September and sat down to write. I turned on some relaxing music, and quickly realized I can’t write anything with music playing. I bashed out the first few chapters feeling quite good about myself. I contacted a friend of a friend, whom I had actually worked with years earlier at my documentation job, and she invited me to join her writers’ group. That was another key moment for me, because I soon learned there was plenty of room for improvement in my writing. After nine months of writing, and another year’s worth of editing, revising, etc., . . . Welcome to the Darkness was released to the world. Only time will tell how the rest of my journey as a writer will continue!

About the Author

Lisa Justus’ path to becoming an author took a circuitous route through the University of Waterloo where she earned a Bachelor of Mathematics, followed by jobs in quality assurance and technical writing at a high-tech company. With a keen interest in creative fiction, she wrote her first fantasy novel as part of NaNoWriMo as well as an early chapter book for her kids when they were younger.  Her YA paranormal fantasy novel Welcome to the Darkness is the first book in the Darkness Trilogy.

These days Lisa is busy writing her fourth novel, reading, finishing her basement, doing volunteer work, and trying to stay in shape by running somewhat regularly. She, her husband, and their three children live in Ottawa, Ontario.

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BOOK TOUR GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: Inspire by Heather Buchine

Inspire 

by Heather Buchine

New Adult Contemporary

Book Description

18-year old Paige Rice, an exquisite beauty from East Hampton, NY, has just celebrated her high school graduation and is expecting to spend her summer living it up with all her socialite friends. But her parents have a different idea – she is being hauled away-literally- to the mountains of Vermont for the entire summer- in an RV!

Assuming she will be an outcast amongst the other teens at the campground still does not prepare her for the treatment she receives, which is far worse than she imagined. She also isn’t prepared for Travis, the campground owner’s son and the “Sexiest” guy she has ever laid eyes on. Travis is the only one who shows any interest in getting to know Paige. The only problem is that they have to explore what lies between them in secret. But once all the secrets are stripped away, the truth may be crushing.

***Intended for mature audiences due to language and sexual content***

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Summer Love

by Heather Buchine

Okay. So, I’m a total sucker for romance and falling in love, hence, my choice in careers: making love stories come to life on paper. And I have to say I truly believe there is something magical about the summertime. Like love just hangs in the air like a cloud, ready to pour out over two lonely hearts searching for a connection. Maybe it’s the long summer days, the blistering heat, the crickets chirping in the night, or the scantily clad bodies splashing around on the beach, but I feel like it’s the perfect setting to fall in love.

I admit, as a teenager, every summer I fell over and over again. Every camp I went to began with my heart becoming attached and ended with me being completely distraught over having to leave my “true love” behind. Every family vacation we would take, I managed to find some handsome guy, who was also enduring family time, and ended up tangled in a major crush. Looking back now, I’m not sure if it was because we were two strangers coming from different worlds meeting for the first time that made it so exciting, or whether the fact that we knew our time together was limited which caused the sparks to ignite as quickly as the strike of a match. But whatever the reason, it always ended up being fun, sensationally hot, and over before it ever truly began.

Although sometimes summer love is simply just that, love that lasts for a summer, in some cases (like in my book Inspire), it’s under the hot summer sun where true love begins and two hearts are melted together for life. Whether it happens by an old tire swing hanging in the front yard, or by a campfire roasting marshmallows under the stars, there is something truly romantic about falling in love in the summer!

About the Author

By no surprise my favorite hobbies are reading and writing. But beyond escaping into the written fantasy world, I love experiencing new things. Surfing, motorcycle riding, snow blading, glass blowing, parasailing, SUP boarding are just a few that I have checked off my bucket list, but there is still so much more to explore. Right now, being a mom is my biggest adventure and the best by far!! In the quiet calm hours of the night though, I can usually be found typing away creating a world of romance where drama still exists but love (hopefully!!) always prevails.

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Xpresso Book Tours

BOOK TOUR GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: Unteachable by Leah Raeder

Unteachable

by Leah Raeder

New Adult Contemporary

Book Description

I met him at a carnival, of all corny places. The summer I turned eighteen, in that chaos of neon lights and cheap thrills, I met a man so sweet, so beautiful, he seemed to come from another world. We had one night: intense, scary, real. Then I ran, like I always do. Because I didn’t want to be abandoned again.
But I couldn’t run far enough.
I knew him as Evan that night. When I walked into his classroom, he became Mr. Wilke.
My teacher.
I don’t know if what we’re doing is wrong. The law says one thing; my heart says screw the law. I can’t let him lose his job. And I can’t lose him.
In the movies, this would have a happy ending. I grow up. I love, I lose, I learn. And I move on. But this is life, and there’s no script. You make it up as you go along.
And you don’t pray for a happy ending. You pray for it to never end.
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What is New Adult all about?
by Leah Raeder

New Adult is a brand spanking new genre, so the definition is still a bit up in the air, but I think NA Alley nails it:

http://www.naalley.com/p/about.html

Protagonists generally fall between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six, though exceptions may apply. NA characters are often portrayed experiencing: college, living away from home for the first time, military deployment, apprenticeships, a first steady job, a first serious relationship, etc.

Other terms for NA include: Upper YA, Crossover Fiction, and Mature YA.

NA combines the rawness, intensity, and first-time experiences of YA with the grit, independence, and real-world experiences of adult fiction.
I did a guest post recently on what makes writing NA fun, so here I’m going to talk about why we need the New Adult genre.
“It’s just YA with sex.”
 
This is a common criticism of NA: that it’s just sexed-up YA. And the reason this stings is because there is some truth to it. Yes, NA as a whole has a ton of sex in it. But that’s because people ages 18-26 have a ton of sex. You’re out on your own for the first time, without your parents’ rules hanging over your head. You’re allowed to experiment and make your own choices. It’s all about trial and error, breaking free from your family’s expectations and finding out who you are on your own terms. And that typically includes—you guessed it—having sex.
When people say NA is “just YA with sex,” I think what they really mean is that it contains high school-ish drama, only with more sex. And that’s a fair criticism, too. Yes, NA is typically full of drama. So is real life. A first serious relationship, before you know what your needs and expectations are, is going to be messy and full of drama. You’re trying to figure out who you are at the same time as you’re learning what you want in a partner. That means lots of trial and error, fights, and flung dishes.
Growth is painful, and NA is about people who are still growing—in an emotional, rather than physical way.
“There’s already adult fiction. Why do we need NA?”
There were plenty of books about college-aged people before anyone came up with the New Adult tag. Why do we need it?
Because adult fiction is huge. It encompasses people in their teens, 30s, 50s, 70s, and beyond. The life experiences for each of these age groups are completely different. College is a little world unto itself, like high school, and that world is vastly different from that of a 30-year-old married person with a career, or a 50-year-old whose kids are leaving home for the first time.
New Adult isn’t about narrowing and limiting fiction to certain life experiences, though. In fact, it’s the opposite: NA gravitates toward controversy, bad decisions, messed-up people, and dysfunctional relationships. You can talk about these things with more grit and rawness than you could get away with in YA. NA is sort of a free-for-all right now, where some seriously dark and disturbed shit is dragged kicking and screaming into the light. And this has a lot to do with the self-publishing boom that’s been the driving force behind NA.
My novel Unteachable wouldn’t exist without the NA genre. It’s way too controversial and graphic for YA, but it’s also too focused on young adult issues and themes to really fit in with contemporary adult fiction. NA is the perfect—and only—category for it.
We need the New Adult tag to legitimize fiction that talks about the spaces in between adolescence and adulthood. Those often dark, gritty nooks and crannies that have been overlooked by traditional publishing. NA shines a bright, bold light into this space and says, “I dare you to look.”
And readers are doing just that. In droves.
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About the Author
Writes pretentiously lyrical YA and adult fiction of various genres. Loves zombies, velociraptors, and other world-ending things. Copies her bio from Twitter because she’s lazy.

twitter.com/leahraeder

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ARC REVIEW & GUEST POST: Flicker & Burn by T.M. Goeglein

Flicker & Burn

by T.M. Goeglein

Cold Fury, Book Two

EXPECTED PUBLICATION: AUGUST 20, 2013

Book Description

Sara Jane Rispoli is still searching for her missing family, but instead of fighting off a turncoat uncle and crooked cops, this time she finds herself on the run from creepy beings with red, pulsing eyes and pale white skin chasing her through the streets in ice cream trucks; they can only be described as Ice Cream Creatures. They’re terrifying and hell bent on killing her, but they’re also a link to her family, a clue to where they might be and who has them. While she battles these new pursuers, she’s also discovering more about her own cold fury and more about the Chicago Outfit, how the past misdeeds–old murders and vendettas–might just be connected to her present and the disappearance of her family. But connecting the dots is tough and time-consuming and may finally be the undoing of her relationship with the handsome Max–who’s now her boyfriend. But for his own safety, Sara Jane may have to end this relationship before it even really starts. Her pursuers who’ve shown her her mother’s amputated finger and the head of the Chicago Outfit who’s just whistled her in for a sit-down make a romance unthinkable. The only thing that matters is finding her family and keeping everyone she loves alive.

5fleur

MY THOUGHTS: 5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

***SPOILER ALERT: This review is of the second book in a series, and therefore will contain spoilers for the first book.  To See my review of the first book in the series, Cold Fury, CLICK HERE.***

Flicker & Burn by T.M. Goeglein

Sarah Jane Rispoli still hasn’t found her kidnapped family, but she has found herself a big player in the midst of Chicago’s mafia, the Outfit. While she’s busy running from pale, red eyed assailants she’s called Ice Cream Creatures, she’s easily forgotten that she’s still a sixteen year old girl, and one that has to start her school year like nothing is wrong in the world.

While balancing this, Sarah Jane also learns more about her family legacy, the ghiaccio furioso, or Cold Fury. Will she learn to take control of her power before it turns her into a person she doesn’t recognize?

I know I’ve mentioned it in my review of Cold Fury, but I’ll say it again. I LOVE SARAH JANE RISPOLI. Though she’s quickly becoming an integral part of the Outfit, she’s doing it begrudgingly and is trying so hard to stop herself from becoming like the killers she’s surrounded by. She doesn’t have many people she can lean on, and for those she does have, she must make the decision to keep them close for her own sanity or let them go for their own safety. Who could imagine a teenage girl having a weight like this on her shoulders?

While this sequel didn’t have as much fast-paced action as the first book, it was a page turner in a different way. Sarah Jane is still researching everything she’s found in the Rispoli Notebook, and uncovering horrific secrets about her family she wishes she’d never learned. But she’s also learning more about her Cold Fury, and why it just may be connected to her family’s disappearance. She is definitely next on the list, so she’s doing all she can to stay one step ahead of her enemies.

My favorite parts of this book are the stories about Prohibition-era Chicago. T.M. Goeglein makes the tales about seedy speakeasies so realistic, you can imagine yourself there drinking a glass of bootleg molasses rum. While some history buffs wish it was a time they could go back to, the author paints a different story, and the main color is red–for blood.

Sarah Jane has suffered so much, and just when she thinks she’s catching a break, something comes up to take a good thing away from her once again. She’s got some steely reserve, but I’m not oblivious to the little cracks in her coldly furious armor. I can’t wait to finish her journey with her.

View all my reviews

 

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Big, Mean, and Beautiful

by Ted Goeglein

Even before pen hit paper, the most important character in my COLD FURY trilogy asserted itself, demanding the spotlight in all three books.

Chicago – Windy City, My Kind of Town, City of Big Shoulders – whatever you want to call it, I call it home. The architecture and grime, art and crime, generosity and graft – I own all of it just like it owns my imagination and me. It’s a city where anything seems possible, maybe because its existence defies possibility. It’s built on spongy marshland and wet clay, the river runs the wrong way, and the weather can be so miserable that it seems like a personal spit in the eye.

In other words, Chicago has always attracted personality types that thrive in rough conditions. Tragedies present opportunities. Insane dreams seem logical. Loyalty to its institutions should require institutionalization.

Frankly, the joint makes people go a little crazy.

Example: the Fire of 1873. The entire place burned down, people shrugged, and blamed a cow. Example: the skyscrapers. Only an ego so enormous and ridiculous would put up buildings so enormous and ridiculous. Example: the Cubs. They’ve been consistent losers since before the invention of TV. And penicillin.

In FLICKER & BURN, Chicago looms over Sara Jane Rispoli, creeps up behind her, and provides cover from her pursuers. The city is an ally in her quest to find and save her family, but one that can’t be trusted, not completely. There are too many dark alleys; too many apartment buildings with eyes peeking through blinds; too many people offering a helping hand while using the other to punch her in the head.

Chicago’s enough to make a girl go a little crazy.

 

About the Author

T.M. Goeglein began his career as a writer of print and television ads for a host of advertising and media companies. As a screenwriter, he created both original scripts and worked as a script doctor for several production companies in Los Angeles. He was an original contributor to the Huffington Post ‘Living’ section, and continues to write for both the national edition and Huffington Post Chicago. Read T.M. Goeglein’s stories on the Huffington Post.

His debut young adult novel, COLD FURY, was published by Penguin/Putnam on July 24, 2012 and is the first in a trilogy. It will be available in paperback in June 2013. The second installment in the Cold Fury series, FLICKER & BURN, will hit the market in August 2013. The author is currently working on the third book. He lives in Chicago with his wife, Laura, and two young children.

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BOOK TOUR GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: Chaotic by C.A. Williams

Chaotic

by C.A. Williams

Imperfection Series, Book One

Book Description

Adelaide McGregor was spinning out of control, in a world of pain that no one knew anything about. She put up a front, displaying a picture perfect girl that everyone wanted to be, but no one was truly there for her. Then she was sent away to live near her grandparents due to bad behavior when her mother decided she just didn’t want to deal with her any longer. Without a penny to her name and no where else to go, her life was uprooted to North Carolina. Everything seems to be changing for the better with her fresh new start until she meets a guy who flips her world upside down all over again. Sometimes you have to make it through the struggles of imperfection in life for everything to come out as complete perfection, but Della hasn’t quite learned that lesson yet.

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First Loves

by C.A. Williams

First loves are something everyone’s going to experience at least once in their lives and it’s a different journey in each relationship. For me, I got lucky and my first love was my one true love. My husband and I started dating when I was 15 and he was 18, so we have now been together for 12 years and married for 6 of those. We have two boys and our expecting our third, a little girl, that we are so thankful for.

Not everyone is going to find their happily ever after with their first love, but I think if you do you’re pretty lucky, because you have even more time to spend with that person. I try to incorporate some of that into the books I write because, really, who doesn’t love a happily ever after? Now, I know that not everyone is going to fall for their first love and end up marrying them so I don’t want to use that same kind of storyline in each of my books.  I’ll warn everyone that Chaotic doesn’t end with a happily ever after, but sometimes that’s life and it doesn’t always work out at first. But Della will eventually get there in the sequel, Twisted Bliss, whether its with her real first love, Justin, or someone else.

About the Author

C.A. Williams lives in Michigan and is married to her high school sweetheart. While being a stay at home to her two boys she likes to read and write in between cleaning up messes and being a short order cook. Cori always had a love for books since the time she first started reading and started swapping books with her mom when she got a little older. Her love for reading turned into a love for writing and Cori has enjoyed every second of it. Thanks to all of her readers!
 
 
 
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BOOK TOUR GUEST POST: The Magic Crystals Series by Stephen Hayes

The Magic Crystals is a story of the greatest power in the world, a power so supreme that it can control most aspects of life. Amazing if used for good, terribly dangerous if in the wrong hands, the question throughout is exactly how this power should be used.

Should it be wielded to its fullest extent to benefit all of humankind, or tamed in order to protect others from it?

Follow a group of teenagers from out in the bush as they are forced to mature rapidly as the world they always knew unravels around them. Watch as romance blossoms and is then tested by circumstance; listen as the youngsters resort to ridiculous humour in the face of danger just to find something to smile about; and above all, enjoy an intense and somewhat controversial tale of how human society can become so horribly unstuck simply due to mankind’s own insidious nature in the face of power.

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Character Guest Post

They Call it “Doing a Playman”

by John Playman

 I’m not the most rational or logical person in the world, but being good mates with one James Thomas has taught me a bit about how the thing works. It’s also taught me that if you think too much, you can get yourself tied up in pointless knots. Not that he seems to mind; if I put it to him, he would probably tell me that it only looked more complicated than it was worth to the untrained eye—he’s always saying stuff like that.

And yet, it seems to happen to me from time to time as well, except in my case, it seems to be an excuse not to take action when something about it is frightening to me. I’ve become a braver guy in general thanks to my encounter with Bernard Moran, I suppose, so why is it so damn daunting to stand up, own my feelings and tell her that I think I’m in love with her?

Harry and Simon, two people who have no trouble whatsoever in owning their feelings, refer to it as “doing a Playman”, because my brother Peter seems to have much the same problem as me. It’s not a great reflection on either of us that we can knowingly sit back and take no action, all the while understanding that things will slip out of our control if we don’t.

Is it because I’m worried about what other people will think? Is it because I’m afraid to open myself up to possibly being hurt? Is it both? Whatever it is, I need to get over it, because nothing will happen if I don’t make it happen—nothing except, perhaps, Tommy stepping in and doing what I haven’t plucked up the courage to do.

The only good thing is that I’m fourteen years old—plenty of time for me to grow up and be a man, but will it be too late by then? Will I look back on this point and wonder what could have happened if only I’d had the guts to tell her? What could have been? Well, whatever else may be going on, whatever rationalisations I come up with, whatever fears I may have, whatever schemes Tommy may plot to win her over before I can: I will make her know my heart, and soon.

About the Author

Stephen Hayes lives and writes in Melbourne, Australia. Having been born partially blind in 1986 and lost his limited vision in 2000, he started writing stories at the age of eight, winning the Harold Dickinson Memorial Australian Literary Competition for a short story about a haunted house at the age of eleven. He completed his first novella in Braille at fourteen and by sixteen, had completed the first draft of ‘The Seventh Sorcerer’.

Since 2002, Stephen has allowed his imagination to run wild with The Magic Crystals saga; sometimes pushing boundaries that today’s somewhat moral society deem to sweep under the carpet. Although classified as fantasy genre due mainly to the prominent magic component, Stephen’s writing also includes a good balance of drama, mystery, romance, humour, and he isn’t afraid to address controversial moral issues.

His latest books are The Seventh Sorcerer and Rock Haulter from The Magic Crystals Series.

Visit his website at www.themagiccrystals.com.

Connect & Socialize with Stephen!

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Purchase your copy of The Seventh Sorcerer:

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Purchase your copy of Rock Haulter:

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

 

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