Elektra Chaos by Deanna Roy – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Deanna Roy will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Elektra never wanted to be the good guy.

She’s a troublemaker and a clever Loki magic thief. Nobody gets in her way. All she has to do is zap people with her electric-magnetic power, and they forget where they are or what they are doing.

But a few days ago in the desert, a magnetic sandstorm did more than blow everyone backward. It switched the polarity of the magic world. The good guys turned bad. And the bad guys like Elektra, well, now their magic only works if they are doing good in the world.

Now the Vor are out to steal more power, making the thieves look like chumps. Elektra will have to fight every bad guy code she’s ever stood for to take down the good guys and save the day.

Elektra Chaos is the final book in the Magic Mayhem trilogy.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Elektra’s classmates always backed away when they saw her in the halls.

This didn’t bother her in the least.

She knew why they did it. People who annoyed her sometimes got blinding headaches. Or felt confused, like their thoughts were scrambled. Every once in a while, they lost all memory of the last few minutes.

Elektra could do these things to them.

And she often did.

Today was no different. Everyone moved aside as she passed. Even the eighth graders got out of her way, intimidated by a short, blond ten-year-old. She had to laugh.

Nobody was the boss of her.

Elektra twirled the pink feather fastened in her hair as she walked by the door to her math class. The bell would ring any second, but she didn’t care about being late.

If the hall monitor stopped her, Elektra would simply make the woman forget what she was doing until Elektra was out of sight. Of all the magical kids in school, Elektra was sure she had the best powers.

And now she had a new one.

About the Author:

Deanna Roy is the six-time USA Today bestselling author of middle grade books, women’s fiction, and college romance. She wrote Elektra Chaos for her daughter Elizabeth, who was diagnosed with epilepsy at age six.

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If I’d Never Heard of Me Would I Read My Book? by Teymour Shahabi – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Teymour Shahabi will be awarding a print copy of “The Secret Billionaire” with a personal message (International Giveaway) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

If I’d Never Heard of Me Would I Read my Book?

I studied both comparative literature and math in college—please forgive me if I seem to start on the wrong side here. One of the mathematical concepts that have inspired me the most (by which I mean, outside the realm of homework) is proof by induction. It’s used to prove that a certain statement holds true for all natural numbers. You start by proving that, if the statement is true for a given value n, then it’s true for the next natural number, n + 1. Then you prove that the statement is true for the number 1. Based on the first proof, if the statement is true for 1, then it must also be true for the number 2. Which means it must also be true for the number 3. And so on and so on, showing that the statement is true for all the natural numbers. (Aren’t you picturing glass dominoes knocking one another down into infinity? If only life were as clean as math…)

This principle of proof by induction perfectly encapsulates, in my mind, what a book should do. (And I promise I’m not just trying to justify my college degree as more than randomness and indecision.) In a good book, if you pick up the story on any given page—let’s call it page n—you should feel compelled to turn over to page n + 1. Different authors may compel you with different tricks: with a gripping mystery, with snappy dialogue, with a mesmerizing character, with the beauty of the writing… What matters is that any page you read will make you want to read another. Now, ideally, this statement holds true for page 1 of the book—or even page 0: anyone who sees the book cover and the description on the back should feel the urge to turn open the first page.

Therefore, I measure my own book by the answer to this question: if someone sees the book, glances at the book cover (designed by the brilliant Kelly Ellis), and reads the description, would that person then want to start reading—and go all the way to the end? Success, for me, would be to answer the question with a confident yes.

And so, if I’ve done my job correctly, then, if I’d never heard of me, I wholeheartedly wish to believe that I’d still read The Secret Billionaire.

March 24. Billionaire Lyndon Surway takes off in his private plane and never returns.

His will leaves the entirety of his wealth—one of the largest fortunes in history—to his “dear friend Lucian Baker.” Only there is no trace of anyone by that name. And the fortune itself is nowhere to be found.

Andrew Day knows nothing of wealth and privilege, but he won a scholarship to study at the most exclusive school in the country, in the town where the mystery, decades later, remains unsolved. There he discovers friendship and danger with the aristocratic Cameron and the beautiful Olivia. But watchful eyes follow him everywhere… Until, one night, he comes across a secret that will change his life. As he begins to unravel what really happened to the Surway fortune, the question remains: who is Lucian Baker?

Winner: Northern California Book Festival, Best Young Adult Book, 2016
Winner: Great Midwest Book Festival, Best Young Adult Book, 2016
Winner: Florida Book Festival, Best Young Adult Book, 2016

Enjoy an Excerpt

THE METROPOLITAN TIMES
June 24, 196…

At nine o’clock yesterday morning, following ninety days of fruitless searching, billionaire industrialist and businessman Lyndon Surway was officially pronounced dead. Mr. Surway was last seen by members of his staff departing from the main airplane hangar of his estate a few minutes past eight in the morning, flying alone aboard one of his aircraft. His last recorded words to the command center crew of his hangar were: “Clear skies and mild winds. Perfect visibility, or as perfect as I could hope, for as long as I can tell. Gentlemen, I wish you a thorough enjoyment of this fine day.” Nothing unusual was noted in his language or behavior.

The late Mr. Surway often took his plane out with no stated destination. But this time, he failed to return at the customary hour of six in the evening. As no word had been received from him, the kitchens were advised that he would likely dine outside.

At ten o’clock on the following morning, when there was still no news of Mr. Surway or his aircraft, the Steward of the House alerted the municipal, state, and federal authorities, and a search began for the missing magnate. But no airport, hotel, hospital or inn within fuel’s range of the estate could provide any information. Dozens of interviews bore no result. Countless journalists and detectives rushed in from every corner of the country, but none of them could unearth a single clue regarding Mr. Surway’s whereabouts. Not even the Steward could guess where Mr. Surway had gone. On the morning of his disappearance, Mr. Surway had only told him: “My day is free and so am I.”

Fifteen infantry troops were dispatched, with over a hundred hound dogs, across more than two hundred miles of hills and valleys surrounding the town of Spring Forge, where Mr. Surway lived. The infantry and the dogs found nothing. The Air Force then loaned eighteen jet-powered aircraft to continue the search. The Navy joined the effort with five ships, sixteen helicopters, and four submarines to scour the coastal regions, islands, and ocean floor within flying range of the Eastern Seaboard. Again nothing was found. Finally then, a large-scale search was conducted through the grounds and the buildings of Surway House itself, led by seven hundred volunteers from Spring Forge and other towns throughout the valley. Still they found nothing. Yesterday marked three months since Mr. Surway’s disappearance. The aircraft was legally declared lost, and its owner deceased. Mr. Surway, estimated for each of the past twelve years to be the wealthiest man in the Western Hemisphere, leaves behind no known relatives.

About the Author: Teymour Shahabi was born in Paris of Persian parents in 1985. He moved to the United States to study Comparative Literature and Mathematics at Harvard University. He lives in New York City where he’s spent the last few years among serious professionals, many of whom probably prefer to read nonfiction. The Secret Billionaire is his first published book.

You can watch him try to figure out writing and life at Facebook.

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Into Shadow by T.D. Shields – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding the first book (ebook) in three YA series: Into Shadow by TD Shields; Awaken by Michelle Bryan; and The Other Inheritance by Rebecca Jaycox to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

She’s nineteen. The President’s daughter. They want her dead.

Poppy’s father may be the President of the North American Alliance, but that just makes her a target for those wishing to topple the regime.

Barely escaping with her life, she must travel across a country ravaged by war and climate change to seek safety amongst a people who only recently opposed her. There she must use every skill learned from her military upbringing to survive terrifying beasts, deadly plant life, and lawless gangs before finally finding a group willing to accept her.

But her peace soon proves to be illusory. It’s not only the government that wants her dead now.

Enjoy an Excerpt:
We sped through the streets, taking turns recklessly fast as we tried to lose the bikes on our tails. As we flew around yet another corner, one of the bikes caught up to me and slapped into the back of my bike. It wasn’t a particularly hard collision, but it popped my bike loose from the mag-lev rail, and I went skidding sideways across the pavement. When the base of the bike hit the curb at the edge of the road, I was flung over the handlebars to land in a crumpled heap on the cracked sidewalk.

All I could do was lie there, staring blankly at a weed growing inches from my nose as I tried to catch my breath. From the corner of my eye I saw Sharra slow and look back, trying to decide if she could help me. Then she leaned low over the handlebars and shot off into the dark streets, leaving me behind.

A million small aches and pains made themselves known as I rolled slowly to my knees. I didn’t bother to get up any further than that. I was completely surrounded, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to move fast enough to break loose from all of these people and retrieve my downed bike. Instead, I waited in silence to see what would happen next and watched for an opportunity to escape.

About the Author:

After writing stories in her head for the last 30+ years, Tara finally decided to take a stab at writing them down to share them with others.

Tara has a husband, 4 kids, and 5 cats to care for along with a full-time job and contract work on the side, so finding time to write is the biggest challenge. Since her most productive hours are from 12-5 a.m. anyway, Tara usually gives up sleep in favor of writing.

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Researching Glimmer by Rayna Noire – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Rayna Noire will be awarding a Kindle Fire (US only) or $50 Amazon GC (international) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Researching Glimmer

When I decided to research 1915, I assumed everything would be the same only earlier versions. I found out if something has been invented doesn’t mean it is in common use.

Strange Things I Didn’t Know About 1915

1. Electricity wasn’t a given in homes. Most people in rural areas didn’t have electricity.
2. Even though automobiles were in existence, few people owned one.
3. Printed fabric was an extreme luxury. Most people would embroider designs on the dresses. Stripes could be woven into material, but it would be a long process.
4. Women conspired to marry well since being a wife and mother was the general expectation.
5. Aluminum foil was brand new on the scene.
6. Most people didn’t have a phone, television, or radio in their homes.
7. Women who became pregnant outside of marriage often ended up in the nunnery.
8. During the war, women were allowed to work outside the home.
9. England voluntarily started its own rationing system, which meant people limited their consumption of meat, sugar, and gasoline to help the soldiers.
10. Early bombers carried the bomb in their laps and dropped it over the side of the aircraft when they reached their target.

Everything I take for granted was not there in 1915. Even the language was more formal than it is today. It’s harder to write about a time I’m unfamiliar with, but it’s important to be accurate. Research takes longer, which explains why it is quicker to write in the current time. Research also functions as a great learning experience.

For seventeen years, the convent walls kept Meara Cleary from the secret of her own parentage. A bearded stranger claims she’s his niece and promises to take her home. Before he can, a cataclysmic event thrusts her into a war-torn world.

Meara vows to journey to Ireland to find her uncle, unaware of how perilous a journey it will be. Her Druidic father guides her through dreams, explaining her magical heritage. Her dead parent can’t help her with the intricacies of village life, especially when she catches the eye of the very engaged Braeden.

A whirlwind composed of equal parts menace, romance, and revelation sweep Meara across the continent while gathering allies and enemies with equal speed. Her intent to return to her family turns into a fight to survive her own destiny.




Read an Excerpt:

Meara glanced back the way she had come realizing nothing looked familiar. How far had she’d wandered from the path. The rustle of movement and the snapping of nearby sticks sped up her heartbeat. A week ago, she’d panicked, sure, someone had followed her only to have a deer wander into the clearing, but this time two large shadows grew out of a nearby underbrush. People. She hadn’t expected this. Could they see her? One gestured in her direction and said something in a guttural language she couldn’t comprehend. The other answered in the same tongue. By the time, it took her to realize the men were after her, one had slipped behind her and grabbed her arm, pinning it painfully behind her back.

He spoke, as his companion reached out for her hair. “Kriegsbeute“

Meara twisted, knowing at an instinctual level she needed to get away from these strangers. The man holding her captive laughed, then muttered something before releasing her arm. She stumbled away recognizing an opportunity. A quick glance back showed the two of them being attacked by the bobbing lights. An occasional yelp assured her the attack was painful. They must be some type of glowing bees.

One hovered in front of her. Follow me. The musical voice sounded in her head. Besides the strangers behind her, there was no one else here. Certainly, no one with a voice as clear and bell-like that it reminded her of a raindrop or dew glistening on a flower. Somehow, this bobbing light placed the voice inside her own head. Her impulsive foray into the woods had landed her into a situation she didn‘t know how to handle. The shimmering light blinked, indicating a need to hurry.

About the Author:

Rayna Noire is an author and a historian. The desire to uncover the truth behind the original fear of witches led her to the surprising discovery that people believed in magick in some form up to 150 years ago. A world that believed the impossible could happen and often did must have been amazing. With this in mind, Ms. Noire taps into this dimension, shapes it into stories about Pagan families who really aren’t that different from most people. They do go on the occasional adventures and magick happens.

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Critique Groups by Julian North – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Julian North will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Critique groups

I don’t have a formal critique group. I’ve never attended a writing workshop. I doubt I ever will. That mostly has to do with my introverted personality. Also, I don’t particularly enjoy writing short stories or specific works for critique purposes. I don’t like criticizing other people (or “critiquing” them). Oh, and writing isn’t my day job either.

So, how do I improve my craft?

Mostly by making mistakes and having them pointed out to me. For my recent dystopian novel, Age of Order, I relied on a core group of beta readers who suffered through multiple drafts. Each one of my readers has their particular strengths and quirks. My wife is actually my most brutal critic. She gets everything first. She reads painfully slow (English isn’t her first language). She doesn’t even need to tell me when she doesn’t like something. I know because she falls asleep. Which she did reading the first chapter of Age of Order. Twice. It’s been substantially revised since then, I promise!

Another of my readers is a native Spanish speaker who helps me with my use of Spanish—although he’s rather disappointed in my efforts. I recently read the Brief Wonderful Life of Oscar Wao at his insistence so that I might gain a better understanding of how to use Spanish slang to communicate cultural flavor. I’ve got some ideas for the next book, but mostly I’m still in awe of Junot Diaz’s writing. I’ll never be able to do what he did in those pages.

Finally, there is my editor. She’s simply awesome. She’s was the most enthusiastic reader of the story; she questions the characters, thinks about the narrative, story arcs, dialogue. She sends me spreadsheets that I don’t understand. But each time I take her advice on something, it’s better afterwards, and I’ve learned something new.

So, I guess you could say I don’t belong to a critique group, but I’m surrounded by one.

What if the people who thought they were better than you… really were?

In this world, inequality is a science. Giant machines maintain order. And all people are not created equal.

Daniela Machado is offered a chance to escape the deprivation of Bronx City through a coveted slot at the elite Tuck School. There, among the highborn of Manhattan, she discovers an unimaginable world of splendor and greed. But her opportunity is part of a darker plan, and Daniela soon learns that those at society’s apex will stop at nothing to keep power for themselves. She may have a chance to change the world, if it doesn’t change her first.

Age of Order is a novel that explores the meaning of merit and inequality. Fans of the Hunger Games, Red Rising, and Divergent will enjoy this world of deception and intrigue, where the downtrodden must fight for a better future.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

I dashed towards the dilapidated collection of storefronts hugging the fringes of the worn avenue, the rusted metal gates firmly closed, lean-to homes piled on their concrete roofs. Makeshift cardboard dwellings crowded the sidewalk. I ran for one of the lightless alleys between the buildings. Lurkers lived in those narrow corridors as surely as rats lived in the sewer, but I’d rather face them than the machines. I leaped towards the darkness.

A finder beam latched onto me as I sailed through the air, the comparative safety of the alley as tantalizingly close as candy in a shop window. I imagined the tight little dot on my leg, hot and hungry. I could almost touch the alley wall. But not quite. The hulking metal slave fired.

A correction pellet sliced through the fabricated leather of my sneaker and bit into my flesh. The force of the impact was enough to screw up my balance too. I landed on one foot instead of two, falling forward. Chewed-up concrete surged towards me. I sacrificed my right palm and left elbow to protect my head, and the viser strapped to my left forearm.

I scrambled to my feet and ran down the alley, my jaws clenched, but the pain wasn’t what was bothering me. I told myself that my shoe had blocked a lot of the pellet. That I probably hadn’t gotten hit with a full dose. That what was coming wouldn’t be that bad.

Liar.

About the Author: I’ve been writing since I could grab a pencil (remember those?). Then I had kids. Not much time for writing anymore. Until they started school… in New York City. I’m not from here, and the tumult of that experience inspired me. AGE OF ORDER grew from a diary of injustice. Now I write what I’m feeling, and let the rest flow from there. I hope you enjoy it.

Please visit my website at www.juliannorth.com and join my book club to receive a free short story set in the same world as AGE OF ORDER.

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An Epiphany in Lilacs by Iris Dorbian – Spotlight and Giveaway



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Iris will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

An Epiphany In Lilacs is a young adult novel set in a DP camp outside Hamburg, Germany following the end of World War II. The author, Iris Dorbian, captures in this story a unique glimpse into the period after the Holocaust when survivors had to deal with their new realities for living, based on her father’s personal experience.

After liberation in May 1945, Daniel, a 14-year-old Latvian Jew, is treated in a field hospital in the British zone of partitioned Germany. A survivor of various concentration camps, Daniel fights to recover from starvation and disease. Racked by nightmares, a nearly nightly occurrence, Daniel finds sleep almost impossible. Through his love of nature, and pre-war memories, Daniel struggles to find comfort. He forms an intriguing bond with an older German gentile, another survivor. Later on, as he joins a theater troupe, Daniel tries to move on with his life, yet still searching for the whereabouts of his mother and two sisters. Poised on the cusp of a new life, young Daniel makes his way to the country that will become his new home.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

The July heat could sometimes get clammy and oppressive under the glare of the morning sun, but Daniel didn’t care about peripheral meteorological considerations. What he cared about as he traipsed and traversed the grounds, the meticulously mowed lawns, the proliferating lilacs always in bloom, was an sensation that rippled throughout his body, the entire network of valves and veins constituting his inner being, the framework of his soul and flesh, a feeling so powerful and ineffable, it always bubbled up inside his head, manifesting in three simple words – “I am alive.”

Sometimes he would say these words aloud, sometimes within the earshot of other patients, some ambulatory, others not, yet all who heard would faintly acknowledge Daniel’s prosaic but freighted affirmation of being with their own gesture of recognition and affinity, be it an askew nod, a wry smile or a knowing wink.

Like other survivors, Daniel was plagued with guilt, confusion, disorientation and shock – the symptoms of post-traumatic stress that sometimes felt more terminal than transitory. But there was another emotion he shared with them, or rather a byproduct of an emotion, as he wasn’t ever sure he could qualify it as one, and that was gratitude. And it was this thankfulness, this visceral appreciation of just how lucky he was when far worthier beings like Tante Masha and Cousin David had not been, which instilled him with awe and wonder during his outdoor digressions. “I am alive.”

About the Author:

Iris Dorbian is a business and arts journalist whose articles have appeared in a wide number of outlets that include the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Venture Capital Journal, Buyouts, Investopedia, DMNews, Jerusalem Report, the Forward, Playbill, Backstage, Theatermania, Live Design, Media Industry Newsletter and PR News. From 1999 to 2007, Iris was the editor-in-chief of Stage Directions. She is the author of “Great Producers: Visionaries of the American Theater,” which was published by Allworth Press in August 2008. Her personal essays have been published in Blue Lyra Review, B O D Y, Embodied Effigies, Jewish Literary Journal, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Adanna Literary Journal, ThisSpace.org, Skirt! and Gothesque Magazine. A New Jersey native, Iris has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.


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Things I Wish I Knew Before I Was Published by Amanda Meuwissen – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Amanda Meuwissen will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Things I wished I knew before I was published

1. You can’t please everyone

This is something we all struggle to learn, not because we don’t already know, but because it affects us anyway and it is such a tough thing to slough off. You’re a published author, you’ve had the book professionally edited, typeset, with a cover you love, promoting it as best you can…and you still get negative reviews. It’s not that you don’t know to expect this, it’s that it feels like a blow every time and you have to remind yourself of this fact – you can’t please everyone. There’s a fine line between constructive criticism that you can internalize to improve for your next book, and people who just don’t like your work and never will. Separating those and moving on to the next positive review is so important. As an author, you have to grow a tougher skin, especially at the start.

2. You are your own marketer

I think people who have yet to be published have this idea in their heads that as long as they get accepted by a publisher, at that point their hard work has paid off and they can sit back and let the publisher do the work to make them successful. NOT TRUE. Some people might think that, well, maybe not for smaller publishers, but surely with the Big 5—NOPE. Still not true. Unless you magically become the next JK Rowling and are already famous, books do not sell themselves, and publishers do not market for you. You are your own marketer and you need to do the work to get your name and your titles out there. Have a website, have social media, engage, write things other than your books, look for where your audience hangs out, do signings and conventions, do everything, and don’t expect for one second that anyone else will do it for you.

3. You have to spend money to make money

This sort of ties into being your own marketer, but successful marketing costs money. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, but you need to be aware that some budget should be spent on blog tours, conventions, purchasing books you might want on hand not provided by the publishers (as most don’t give you more than a single copy). You will spend money on a release and you need to plan for that, but if done right, you should make that money back on the first month of sales. There are exceptions, like buying the URL for your website adds additional cost, certain conventions you try won’t pan out, buying boxes of books might not always sell initially, but it’s a learning curve. You just need to be ready to spend a little no matter who you published with.

4. Be ready with your next book immediately.

Maybe most of you are like me, where as soon as you get one idea out of you, you likely already had the next one percolating, and the one after THAT. So moving from one book release to already being in the midst of writing your next one should be easy. If you want to be a successful writer, this is important because it keeps you top of mind with your readers. It means they’ll constantly be looking forward to your next book. If you’re forgotten, it’s easy for people to miss that next release, and you want to gain momentum over time, not lose it. If you just have one or two books in you and that’s all you plan to produce, fair enough, but if you want to write and write and write, DO IT, and always be ready with that next idea. One book a year is entirely doable.

5. Participate in NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month saved me as a writer. As someone who has regularly written stories for close to two decades, it may surprise you that I hadn’t heard of or participated in NaNo until very recently (I’ve done it twice now). If you don’t know, it’s the month of November each year where writers dedicate themselves to writing 50k words. It might be the entirety of a novel, or maybe just the start if you write lengthier pieces, but it is still a grand undertaking, because it translates to over 1600 words a day. That’s easy when you think of one day, but doing it every day for 30 days straight is a challenge. When I first participated in 2015, it rejuvenated my passion to write every day, because for that month I had to, and when it was over, I didn’t want to stop. You don’t have to write 1600 words every day forever, but write something, and NaNo is a great way to get started. It’s also how I’ve kickstarted my last two novels, this release I’m promoting today, and the one I’m currently editing. If you worry about being able to get a novel written a year, try NaNo next November. It is a lifesaver.

Emery Mavus just wants to survive his senior year of high school. Becoming a vampire complicates things. So does a bizarre mentor, a group of vampire hunters, and an unexpected, new attraction for his openly gay best friend, Connor. An occasional uncontrollable hunger for blood might be the least of his worries.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

It was a trick. Emery had made it all up, knowing that the details would lead Connor to vampires. These were just Halloween fangs. Connor wasn’t really hypnotized into submission; he was just stunned, believing his own crazy imagination. He’d longed for years to have Emery this close, after all, crowding him into a corner, lips descending. He’d just imagined them descending a little closer to his mouth, though his neck wouldn’t be so bad…

…if not for the sharp sting, the breaking of the skin and rush of blood sucked out of him so fast he felt dizzy, and then—wow.

It didn’t hurt at all. It felt like Emery was tucked into his shoulder intimately, fully aware of the pleasant buzzing he caused in Connor’s gut every time they touched. Connor had dreamed of this, imagined it just like this, and felt lulled by Emery’s body being so close, and the way he shivered feeling those lips on his skin. He almost thought he heard Emery’s soothing voice whispering affirmations he’d always wanted to hear.

“Em…” Connor breathed out, barely audible.

The room was dimming, but he felt cozy where he was. His arms were limp and heavy as he lifted them to pull Emery closer, feeling the soft fabric of the sweater against his somewhat numb right palm. He pulled tighter, twisting flesh and plastic fingers alike in the fabric, pulling…with the faint sense that he should be pushing instead.

“Em…” he choked out like a whimper, like he was crying. Why was he crying? This was everything he’d ever wanted…

About the Author:Amanda has a Bachelor of Arts in a personally designed major from St. Olaf College in Creative Writing, and has been posting content online for many years, including maintaining the blog for the digital marketing company Outsell. She spent a summer writing screenplay script coverages for a company in L.A., and is an avid consumer of fiction through film, prose, and video games. Amanda lives in Minneapolis, MN, with her husband, John, and their cats, Helga and Sasha (no connection to the incubus of the same name).

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Interview: Laurie B. Levine

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Laurie B. Levine. Now I Know It’s Not My Fault is her first novel.

Laurie started writing this story several years ago, but then put it down. She was inspired to pick it back up after a female teacher in her town was accused of sexually abusing several male students.

“There were two objectives for me in writing this book,” she explained. “The first was to shed some light on the fact that women can be abusers too—there’s a lot written in abuse and trauma literature addressing men as abusers, but very little about women. I wanted to write a story that depicts an attractive, charming woman in that role. The second objective was to draw attention to a subtle form of abuse. When most people think about child sexual abuse, they think about an adult engaging in direct sexual contact with a child. Now I Know It’s Not My Fault highlights a kind of abuse that occurs under the radar, but can be just as damaging.”

She got her first opportunity to publish in 1990 as the second author of an article entitled “Axe Murders, Spiders and Webs: The therapeutic use of metaphors in couples therapy.”

“It’s mind-blowing if you’re one of the few who are interested in couples therapy or metaphors. I was just 23-years-old and it was a great opportunity for me. I later wrote several other articles and book chapters.”

In Now I Know It’s Not My Fault, Laurie told me that the plot and characters came to her together. Since it’s a story about a subtle kind of abuse, she knew immediately what some of the characteristics of Paula and Alex would be. The idiosyncrasies of their personalities came later as they developed into full-blown people in her mind.

She’s not writing now, but she is percolating on a story that picks up with Alex ten years down the line.

“I really like her character and think it would be interesting to see where she is after college, and how her experiences with Paula affect her life into adulthood,” she told me.

Currently, she’s reading Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo, one of her favorite authors.

“I do a ten-mile bike ride several times a week, and I recently started listening to books instead of music on my rides,” she said. “I’m currently listening to Postcards From The Edge by Carrie Fisher. Her death is such a loss for many. I loved Star Wars and Princess Leia, and I saw the film version of Postcards From the Edge but I never read the book—I’m really enjoying her writing.”

“When did you first consider yourself a writer?”> I asked.

“I published my first article when I was a 23-year-old graduate student so I guess I’ve technically been a writer since then! I’ve been a therapist for more twenty years, and it’s hard to think of myself as anything other than that professionally. But I think publishing my debut novel means I’m now a writer also!”

Laurie has a few different writing spaces depending on her mood and the weather.

“In the winter, and on other bad weather days, I write sitting at my kitchen island if no one is home. The kitchen is sort of in the center of the house, so I feel connected to things in there. My office is on the second floor of the house and overlooks the street but I feel very tucked away up there. My favorite place to write is on my front porch. We live on the shady side of the street, and I have a small table and chairs out there for when I’m in serious writing mode. When I’m proofreading, or playing around with different ideas about characters or plot, I sit on the outdoor love seat with my feet up on the wrought iron table. Sometimes, my dog, who is of considerable size, will curl up next to me.”

She’s a Marriage and Family Therapist and has a private practice in the town where she lives. She told me that it’s the perfect balance to writing.

“I see clients everyday but Fridays. I almost always have gaps in my schedule which is perfect for writing. I also have three teenage kids, a husband, and a giant dog who require rides (the kids and occasionally, the dog, not the husband),” she said.
“I love movies, running and riding my bike. Every year, I try to see all the movies nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.”

She loves seeing teenagers in her practice. Laurie explains why.

“There’s a lot of pressure during that time in a kid’s life. It’s great to be a part of the process of them figuring out who they want to be. Some kids just need an adult, who’s not their parent, to talk to. I can say the same kinds of things their parents say about friends, school, boy/girlfriends. It’s easier to hear it from me because I’m not their mom. I also enjoy helping them find their voices and talk their parents about who they are or what’s important to them. Sometimes, parents’ anxiety about raising kids makes it hard to accept the ways their kids may be different from them. Writing for teenagers is the same process for me. I can raise issues about parents, friends, school, and other challenges without preaching to them. My hope with Now I Know It’s Not My Fault is to show kids abusive adults aren’t just creepy old men. Charming, attractive adults can be creepy too. I want kids to know that something big and scary doesn’t have to happen for them to be affected badly. They should trust their intuition. If something feels wrong, it probably is.”

“What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book?” I wondered.

“The relationship between what’s terrifying and thrilling is interesting as they are often flip sides of the same coin. Some level of risk is inherent in both. I’m generally a shy person, and I’m more comfortable not being the center of attention. Once my book became available on Amazon and I posted that announcement on Facebook, the reality that people were going to read it hit me. Until that point, only my husband and close friends had read the entire thing. It is scary for me to have my work out there for people to comment on or even judge—that doesn’t surprise me at all. What I didn’t expect was that I also like the attention that comes from the book.”

Finally, I asked her what challenges teens face today that she did not.

“Social media and smart phones are great, and I enjoy mine. But as a teenager, the social interactions never stop. There’s always someone posting something or texting in a group chat. Kids are rarely alone with their thoughts. That was one of the reasons I set my book in the 1980’s (in addition to the awesome music). I wanted Alex, the main character, to be alone, at times. I wanted her sadness and anxiety to rise to the top of her experience rather than being chased away by a series of snapchats or tweets.

“School pressure is also a huge thing for teenagers. There’s so much more expected of them in terms of AP classes, extra-curricular activities, pressure to get into college, etc, than when I was young. I see that with my kids and with the kids that come into my office.”

Alexandra Geller is a bright, underachieving fourteen-year-old coming of age in the big hair 1980’s. The sudden death of her mother five years ago, and her relationship with her well-meaning but emotionally unavailable father, leaves her unmoored and vulnerable as she tries to figure out who she is. Early in her freshman year, she’s befriended by Paula Hanover, a young, attractive science teacher at her high school. Paula’s irreverence and charm attracts the attention of the girls, who look up to her, and the boys, who have crushes on her. Alex is thrilled to be chosen by this woman and relishes the feeling of finally “belonging” to a mother figure. Paula’s intentions aren’t so benevolent, as she slowly and carefully draws Alex into a relationship designed to meet her own needs, not Alex’s. Desperate for maternal attention, Alex finds ways to ignore the vague sense that something is wrong. Her compelling story sheds light on a common, but rarely talked about kind of trauma which is subtle and occurs under the radar.

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The Three Month Plan by Kimberley Patterson – Spotlight and Giveaway

The Three Month Plan
by Kimberley Patterson
Genre: YA, Teen Romance
Kelly Callahan had everything going for her. Everything that is, except for
a relationship. It wasn’t for the lack of trying, it just seemed
like she was a magnet for all the wrong ones. But all of that was
about to change the minute she laid eyes on Jake.
On a dare from her close friend, Michelle, Kelly accepts a challenge to
date and become Jake’s girlfriend within three months. The
consequence of losing is global humiliation, and she refuses to lose.
Enlisting the help of her childhood friend and confidant, Brian, Kelly manages
to catch Jakes attention. She also unknowingly hooks Brian who tries
to sabotage the plan. Kelly finds herself with a dilemma; take the
final step with Jake and win the plan or follow her heart and reveal
her feelings for Brian.
Horses were one of my first loves, and writing soon followed. As a child, I
spent hours writing poems, and short stories (about horses). My
parents realized that I was horse-obsessed and decided to buy me one
after taking riding lessons for two years. I think they hoped that
all of the hard work, and hours spent mucking stalls would help me
give up this expensive hobby. They were wrong. Writing is still a
passion of mine, although now I primarily write fiction. My first
novel, Red Rock, was published in 2010, and big surprise, there are
horses in it. My second novel, The Three Month Plan was released
August 2013.
Other Loves: My family, yoga, skincare and makeup, sushi, and raising money
for pediatric cancer. I have two rescue dogs and would have more if
there weren’t zoning restrictions. I’m always trying something
new, as I tend to get bored very easily. Thankfully, my love of
driving around with the gas light on fuels some excitement. I love
novels with happy endings, and am a hopeful romantic. My latest
obsession is browsing Netflix, and I can name all 50 states in
alphabetical order in under 30 seconds. Do I feel a wager coming on?

Light in My Dark by Jean Gilbert and William Dresden – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. William & Jean will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Sixteen-year-old Harper Deveraux has longed for an adventure ever since her mother died of cancer four years ago. Much to her dismay, she is stuck in Glen Eden, a small mountain town in upstate New York that does little to fuel her hopes and dreams.

Another year of high school has begun, and with the Moon Dance only a few weeks away, Harper suddenly finds herself torn between the affections of two boys: her best friend Jack, and a new boy from the City named Knes who might not be from this world.

Strange things begin to happen in Glen Eden when Harper uncovers a mystery that involved her mother and a realm shrouded in darkness that lies beyond the wall… A realm that Knes intends to take her to. Only Jack stands in his way.

Light In My Dark, is an action-packed modern YA fantasy, filled with dark forces, love, and self-discovery.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

The heat under Harper’s sweater disappeared the longer she stared at the house. Goose bumps tickled her flesh. She wrapped her arms around her body, but the chill remained. Even so, her eyes refused to look away from the house.

“Well,” she said,” in the real world it is said that she fell through the floor in a part of the house that was still under construction at the time. No mystery there. Just an accident.”

Jack raised an eyebrow at her. “In the middle of the night? Who goes walking around a construction site in the middle of the night? That’s just stupid. What gets me is that’s what all the tourists come to see, not the lake or the mountains or anything else that Glen Eden has to offer. Give the house a ghost, and they come running.”

“Maybe it deserves a ghost. At least then it would be lived in.”

Neither one said anything for a moment as they stared at the mansion.

Finally, Jack spoke again. “There must be over a hundred rooms in there. It’d take days to explore them all.”

“It’d be an adventure.”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

About the Author: William Dresden is an author and award-winning screenwriting. He spent several years as a script doctor and pursued the dream of writing hollywood blockbusters. Now he mostly writes fiction and enjoys spending time with his family and friends. William currently lives in Virginia with his wife and two children.

Jean Gilbert is an award winning speculative fiction writer from New Zealand. She is a Core member of SpecFicNZ, and is also the coordinator for SpecFicNZ Central. Jean’s novels include the Vault Agency Series: Shifters, Ardus, and The Vault. You can find her short stories Blonde Obsession in Baby Teeth: Bite Size Tales of Terror, and Pride in the Contact Light Anthology.

William Dresden Website | Jean Gilbert Website | William Dresden Twitter | Jean Gilber | William Dresden Facebook | Jean Gilbert Facebook | Publisher Website | Publisher Facebook | Publisher Twitter
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