My Favorite Scary Story by Talia Aikens-Nunez – Guest Blog

Welcome to Talia Aikens-Nunez, whose OMG… Am I a Witch, a Benjamin Franklin Silver Award-winning early chapter book, was released this summer.

My Favorite Scary Story
I do not have a particularly favorite Halloween story, per se. As a child, I was told stories about the Headless Horseman and numerous ghost stories. It was not until I went to high school that I truly read a scary story.

I remember reading my English class syllabus for the year. There was an author on there I never heard of before. And for the first time, I read the best scary story writer ever, in my opinion, Edgar Allen Poe. It was that year that I found my favorite scary story—The Tell-Tale Heart.

The Tell-Tale Heart is so scary, to me, because you really feel like you are in the mind of a deranged killer. The killer’s painstaking detail and thought coupled with their excitement about the possibility of getting away with the murder really submerse the reader into the killer’s disturbed personality. And, once there, Poe, gently then forcefully pushes the reader into the killer’s psychotic break.

Whenever I finish a story my heart is always thumping and my eyes are racing down the page. Poe’s short stories can be scary and suspenseful while others are down-right horror stories. Stories by Poe spook me out and scare me more than any horror movie.

omg am i a witchApril Appleton is so annoyed at her older brother that she searches the Internet for a spell to turn him into a dog. When the spell works, April realizes she has more powers than she ever dreamed of! Now she has to figure out how to turn him back to normal before her parents find out.

She has little time, but with help from her friends Grace and Eve she finds a book of magic that will hopefully reverse the spell. Will it work, and will April’s newfound magic save the day?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Bio: Talia Aikens-Nunez wanted to be a meteorologist, a politician and a lawyer. It was raising her bilingual children that inspired Talia to write multicultural children’s books. Her family loves nature so much that she and her husband vowed that they will always try to live close to water, so now they live on a river in Connecticut.
Links:

Ten Things Most People Don’t Know About Kaizen Love – Guest Blog and Giveaway

VBT My Name Is Thank You Tour Banner copy

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Kaizen Love will be awarding a $15 BN/Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on your tour.

10 things most people don’t know about Kaizen Love

1. Well, for starters I have a phobia of clowns and large crowds, or large clowns and crowds. That sentence really works either way. It all began in my early childhood; my dad had the job most kids would have loved. He worked for a local flea market on weekends as a handy man of sorts, that flea market had a circus! Of course, my dad was great, and he thought he was doing me a favor by leaving me at the circus every weekend for a couple of hours. Needless to say, my phobia worsened.

2. I have 6 older brothers and many people assume that automatically they treated me as if I were princess. They definitely did not. They treated me like I was a cross between a crash test dummy and a lab rat. It was a fun childhood nonetheless, but I still have bruises.

3. I love cold-ish weather. I live in Florida, so that means anything below 73 and above 65!

4. I love the numbers 3 and 7. I’m always grateful when I see them pop up.

5. I wish I were taller (and thinner…).

6. I have pigeon toes. For some odd reason my feet turn inward. It made it really difficult playing sports in high school. There are no penalties in basketball for tripping yourself.

7. I love the smell of old books.

8. I used to have a really bad stuttering problem when I was a kid. Now that I’m older it’s a lot better, but when I get really nervous it happens unexpectedly.

9. I don’t like spaghetti sauce from the jar or green peas. I love just about anything else you put in front of me.

10. My greatest desire is to write books that have the ability to change lives, or at least perspectives.

MEDIA KIT My Name Is Thank-You Cover RevisedMy Name Is Thank-You allows us into the worlds of two very different thirteen-year-old girls. Each girl’s voice carries its own unique tone, as the girls beckon us to follow magically into their lives. One is a joyous story of hope against all odds, the search for acceptance, and the longing for unconditional love; the other a sad tale of unspeakable abuse, constant rejection, and an overwhelming sense of loneliness. Thank-You and Josephine create around us a world rich with emotion, one that will leave you inspired, breathless, and yearning for more words.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“They say that a child’s imagination is one of the most powerful forces on this planet. As children we are able to tap into the mystery that exists outside of the walls of our minds. We are free from the cage of reasoning and ignorance. We are able to look beyond what is directly in front of us and see the path that lies ahead. As we grow, we begin to lose sight of these things. The mystery becomes overshadowed by the wall that grows bigger with each human experience. Eventually, we forget the magic and wonder that we once found in the belief that anything was possible, and the word impossible becomes the box that we use to shove God into.”

About the Author:MEDIA KIT Author PhotoKaizen Love is an up and coming writer, spinning words into a beautiful web that should enrich the lives of all who read them. She has a positive and fresh take on life, and has mastered the art of storytelling. She grew up reading books by authors from every style, race, nationality, culture, and religious perspective; drawing inspiration from each one. Her greatest mission is to share love.

Amazon ~ Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads

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Project Firebird by Nick Green – Spotlight and Giveaway



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

Don’t ask Leo Lloyd-Jones. Ask him how to steal a car, or why he got excluded from every school in Salford, but don’t come to him for help. This whole thing must be a daft mistake – and if anyone finds out, he’s done for.

Earth is on a deadly collision course that nothing can prevent. The only real hope is Project Firebird, deep inside a blast-proof bunker that shelters the brightest and bravest young people. Leo has got mixed up with the likes of Rhys Carnarvon, the celebrated teenage polar explorer, and other child prodigies chosen to keep the flame of civilisation.

Among them is the streetwise Paige Harris, a girl Leo likes a lot (but not in that way). Paige is desperate to rescue her little sister from London before the catastrophe strikes. But no-one is crazy enough to try that. Almost no-one.

Enjoy an excerpt:

‘Some of the brightest young people on the planet. Yet not one of you can make a cup of tea.’

Paige twitched into life.

‘That ain’t true! We’re not all useless around the house. I’ll do it.’

‘Thank you,’ said David. ‘One cup of tea, please. But you must make it all by yourself. No-one can help.’

Paige rolled her eyes – as if! David called after her.

‘I do mean no-one, Paige. No-one at all. Anywhere or anywhen.’

She turned. ‘You what?’

‘Tea,’ said David. ‘Let’s go. First you’ll need water. Clean water. I don’t want to get diarrhoea. So find some. Remember, no help. Not from water companies, or plumbers, or bottle manufacturers. Just you. There’s a lake a few miles away, but streams might be safer. Either way, you’d better start walking now. Maybe take some food along.’

A few uneasy sniggers trailed off. Paige stopped halfway to the door, her face daring David to make fun of her. He continued, counting on his fingers.

‘Something to carry the water in, you’ll need that. A sturdy vessel to boil it in. Pottery is good. Hunt for some clay while you’re out. Enough for a water pot, a teapot and a cup. Plus fuel of course. Wood for the fire. A bow-and-drill, or some other way of lighting it –’

‘This ain’t fair!’ Paige exploded. David held up a hand. Now his smile was kind.

‘It’s all right, Paige. You can sit down. Sorry to put you on the spot.’

About the Author: Nick Green lives in the UK. He is the author of seven fiction books to date, including the middle-grade CAT KIN trilogy published by Strident. His other books include THE STORM BOTTLE, a fantasy adventure about the dolphins of Bermuda, and most recently the FIREBIRD trilogy, a YA science fiction epic.

www.nickgreenbooks.com

https://www.goodreads.com/nickgreen_catkin

Buy the book at Amazon.

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Vanished from Dust by Shea Norwood – Spotlight and Giveaway



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions Shea Norwood will be awarding a $25 PayPal, Amazon or BN GC via rafflecopter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour

A CHILL RUNS THROUGH HIS SKIN AS THE PHANTOM APPEARS.

HE SEES THEM EVERYWHERE . . .

Eric Stark is not insane. Or at least he doesn’t think so. He wishes everyone in Dust, Texas, felt the same way. But that’s not going to happen since the whole town thinks he’s crazy. Why didn’t he keep his mouth shut?

No one understands. Eric is alone as he battles his sanity in a town of tormenters. Suddenly a new friendship emerges after the new kid, Kyle Barrett, moves to town.

Eric reluctantly reveals his secret. Is it a curse or a gift? He isn’t certain, but with Kyle by his side he finds the courage to seek the truth.

They soon realize that something sinister is descending on the residents of Dust.

Is it caused by Eric’s phantoms or is it something else? Is it connected to the mysterious death of hundreds of townspeople over sixty years ago? One thing is certain—only Eric and Kyle can save them.

They set out on a heart-pounding adventure and find themselves transported to a disturbed and deserted version of their small southern town. They quickly discover that this new world has mysteries of its own to uncover. What they find could prove more than they bargained for, and it only leads to more questions. Eric and Kyle must face a horrifying fact—they may never get out alive.

“We’re gonna die here,” Kyle muttered.

“I don’t believe that,” Eric said. “And neither do you.”

Will they survive their encounter with these dark and mysterious beings?

Will they find a way back home?

Or will they be lost forever?

The Vanished from Dust series is perfect for anyone who craves a hair-raising thriller packed with mystery and suspense. This paranormal story for young adults can be compared to Stand by Me, mixed with Odd Thomas, and a twist of The Dark Tower.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Where’s Katie?” Kyle asked. “Tell me.”

The sparkling view into another world, his world, reminded Eric of when he used to swim underwater on his back in the public pool. At moments, the portal was still providing a clear picture. At other times, it was blurry. Was it his concentration that brought the image into focus? He took a deep breath and tried to calm his mind.

Katie was now playing with red blush and laughing about something only third grade girls would find funny. Her side of the portal looked nearly identical to the world Eric and Kyle were in. He noticed subtle differences like blue versus leafy-green towels next to the sink. But, otherwise it was the same.

Eric touched the mirror, sending a shockwave of ripples as if he’d just tossed a stone into a still lake. A tingle of electricity passed through his hand and up his arm. He pulled his finger back sharply as the tingle became more intense.

“What are you doing?” Kyle asked.

This time, Eric put his entire hand on this mirror. A much larger ripple spread, blurring the image. His hand felt like it was asleep. He closed his eyes again, trying to calm his mind. The inside of his head felt like a violent ocean near the eye of a hurricane with monster waves that surged against the shore.

Katie, Eric said in his mind, can you hear me?

In the portal, Katie picked up the eye shadow and leaned in closer to apply it. She looked like a clown with all the make-up she had already smeared across her face.

Eric focused all his mental energy: Katie!

She dropped the eye shadow and looked directly at him, but it wasn’t like before. They locked eyes for a moment, and then she screamed and ran out of the room. Amanda looked bewildered and turned to watch her leave. She looked back into the mirror. Her jaw dropped. She ran.

Eric pulled his hand from the mirror and backed away.

The circle was shrinking. The image of Porky Pig saying, ‘That’s all folks,’ at the end of a Looney Tunes’ cartoon flashed through Eric’s mind.

A few seconds later all he could see was the blue dot. When he blinked it vanished.

About the Author:

Shea Norwood is a West Texas native that currently lives in the DFW area with his wife and son. He’s an avid reader and enjoys the craft of writing. The fictional town of Dust is loosely based on a small town south of Odessa, TX.


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If I’d Never Heard of Me Would I Read My Book by Marian Cheatham – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Marian will be awarding an eBook copy of Ruined to a randomly drawn commenter at each stop during the tour. A Grand Prize of a signed paperback copy of Ruined plus a new DVD of Much Ado About Nothing starring Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson will be awarded to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour (US ONLY). 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?

Here I am asking you to do just that – read the book of an unknown-to-you author. Seems rather presumptuous, I know. Maybe you’d feel better if you knew a little something about me.

I live in the suburbs of Chicago with my husband, our English bulldog, Spike, and our three cats, Ruby, Onnie, and Tobi. My cats are my assistants, keeping my laptop warm (by sleeping on top of it) and my cluttered desk free of all piles (by knocking them to the floor). Spike helps by keeping me from sitting too long. He makes sure I stay fit and get plenty of exercise. A half hour at my desk and then it’s time to catch and fetch his favorite ball, or hit the backyard for a potty break, or check his doggy stash for an afternoon treat. He’s a union guy who is big on breaks, and naps, and long lunches. But at least, he hasn’t asked for a raise.

As for my office, it’s official. After a decade of moving my desk from room to room, depending on what kid or whose aunt was living with us, I finally have my own, private sanctuary. My new home office is spacious and painted in a lovely, serene green. My desk sits in front of a large picture window that faces the woods where an occasional deer crosses my path. The cats keep check on the birds in the yard and Spike keeps track of the cats. It’s the perfect place in which to create.

An ideal writing day would be 10-12 hours of uninterrupted time in my new sanctuary, but that’s unrealistic. Most days I settle for 4-6 disruptive hours at my laptop. There’s always a mug of hot coffee or tea on my desk, along with a power snack of almonds. I switch around my cups, alternating between my cat-faced mug, my cup of Shakespeare quotes, my keep-sake from Yellowstone National Park, my Barnes & Noble cup of famous authors, and the souvenir mug from Arizona given to me by a friend from Dublin visiting the states.

My writing time is divided between my work-in-progress manuscript, my Chicago Now blog, and marketing my published books. Most of my inspiration for stories comes from real life – from family issues, or problems kids face at school, or personal dramas. But some inspiration is just divine intervention from Heaven above. I’m always dreaming of my next project, and looking forward to the future.

As for the past, before I began my writing career, I taught special education to primary-aged children and worked a few years in the business world. But now, I’m doing what I love best – writing.

When your life has been ruined by lies, do you seek justice … or revenge?

Blythe Messina spends her senior year focused on her studies and college, and not on
her ex, Stratford High’s lacrosse star, DB Whitmore. At least, that’s what Blythe keeps telling herself. But her younger cousin, Bonni, knows otherwise. Same goes for DB, who swears to be over Blythe and their breakup, but his teammates aren’t fooled.

When scandalous photos of Bonni and the team captain are texted around Stratford, Bonni’s virtuous reputation is ruined. She professes her innocence, but no one believes her. No one, except Blythe and DB, who come together to uncover the truth. But, will they stay together?

Ruined is a modern twist on a classic Shakespearean romance.

“Deceit, loyalty, honor, and romance–Ruined has it all! A teen version of Much Ado About Nothing that Shakespeare aficionados are sure to savor!” ~ Kym Brunner, Author of Wanted: Dead or in Love & One Smart Cookie

All books in the Stratford High series will be modern retellings of a Shakespeare classic. Ruined is inspired by Much Ado About Nothing.

Enjoy an excerpt:

I watched through the sliding glass doors as my baby brother disappeared into the depths of Mr. M.’s house with DB. I hoped Jon wasn’t getting sick. The Mai Tais at this party were kind of sweet. Or maybe the sun had gotten to him. No denying it was hot outside, and this deck didn’t
have a sheltered awning. Dad used to tell Jon to toughen up, and Jon had, once he’d started playing lacrosse. Wasn’t his fault, he was on the short side. Jon got that from his mother. She
was just a pale wisp of a thing. Maybe that was what Dad had liked about her. She was the polar opposite of my long-legged, big-boned Amazon mom.

Dad. What a player. He had the best of both worlds in women and sons.

A hand clamped down on my shoulder. “Don’t worry about your brother,” Mr. M. said. “Jon’s in capable hands. That DB is a good guy. I only wish my niece could see his better qualities.”

Bonni shook her head. “Blythe’s too hung up on the past. At least she pretends to be. She’s always DB did this and DB did that. Acting annoyed when she’s really in love with him.”

“Same with DB,” said Cory. “He say he hates Blythe, but I know he’s always plotting ways to run into her on the sly.”

“Me thinks they doth protest too much,” said Mr. M. “Too bad. Those two seem perfect for each other. If only they could find their way back together.”

“Maybe they just need a push.” A seed of something had taken root in my brain.

“Go on.” Mr. M. smiled at me. “What’re you thinking, Paolo?”

“Maybe we can trick them into admitting how they really feel. What if you and Bonni let it slip that DB wants to work things out? You know, have a conversation when Blythe’s not supposed to be around, but really she is. Let her overhear you talking.”

“We can do that, right, Daddy? We can make Blythe believe DB still cares.”

“Absolutely!” Mr. M. high-fived her.

“And you and I will do the same with DB,” I told Cory. “When we’re sure he’s listening, we’ll drop the bomb that Blythe is still into him. Then we stand back and let nature take its course.” I extended my hand. My three co-conspirators piled their hands on top of mine. “We’re all in?”

Bonni, Cory, and Mr. M. nodded.

“Good. Operation Cupid is a go.”

About the Author:

Marian is a full-time writer of contemporary and historical young adult fiction. A native Chicagoan and a graduate of Northern Illinois University, Marian taught special education and worked in the business world before pursuing her dream of becoming a writer. She would rather be at her desk than almost anywhere else, but of course, that isn’t always possible. So when she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, gardening, walking the dog, travelling with her husband, and researching new projects. Not necessarily in that order.

She adores anything Shakespeare. An avid reader of Shakespeare biographies, she has travelled the world to see his plays, visiting Stratford, Canada as well as Stratford-Upon-the-Avon, Great Britain, and the new Globe Theater in London. Her latest YA novel, Ruined, Book One in her new Stratford High series – modern retellings of Shakespeare’s plays – is inspired by the Bard’s classic romance, Much Ado About Nothing. Book Two, inspired by the Merchant of Venice, is due out fall 2014.

Her debut YA, Eastland, came out in February 2014. Based on the real-life story of the 1915 Eastland boat disaster in Chicago, Marian lectures about the Eastland to schools, libraries, and book clubs, as well as co-hosting haunted Chicago tours of Eastland disaster sites. She writes a post on the subject on the Tribune’s Chicago Now blog site.

Visit her at:

www.chicagonow.com/everyday-eastland/

www.facebook.com/mariancheatham.author

www.goodreads.com/book/photo/22542534-ruined

@CheathamMarian

www.amazon.com/Ruined-Stratford-High-Marian-Cheatham/dp/1500335444

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Ten Things You Wouldn’t Know About Laney McMann – Guest Blog and Giveaway

torn-button-7This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the author.  Laney is giving away signed paperbacks of TIED (Book 1) &TORN (Book 2) to ONE winner, and E-book copies of TIED & TORN to ONE winner and 5 signed bookmarks via Rafflecopter.

Ten Things You Wouldn’t Know About Laney McMann

 

Ten things you would never guess about me. Hm … I’ll have to think about this one.

10. I have a thing for papermate pens. Only papermate.

 

9. I love coffee ice cream, iced coffee, and mocha frappuccinos, but I don’t like hot coffee.

 

  1. I own around 15 pairs of flip flops and will only wear tennis shoes when I’m running, otherwise, hate them. And socks. Hate them too. Unless it’s freezing.

 

  1. Speaking of freezing, winter is a dreaded month for me. Once Christmas is over, I’m ready for summer again.

 

  1. I love it when it rains on the way home from the beach.

 

  1. I have THE BEST beta readers in the world. Love them.

 

  1. I’ve wanted to write novels for a living since I was nine years old, but I believed only ‘real writers’ wrote novels, so I didn’t follow that dream until much, much later, and even then, I was terrified to try.

 

  1. Besides writing, music is one of my first loves. So is dancing.

 

  1. I’m an introvert.

 

1. If I had the space, I would own lots of dogs. Lots. I have three. ;)

Torn, Book #2

TORN (Book #2)Find Max.

That’s all Layla cares about. Not healing from the Fomore attack. Not finding answers to how she survived a fall that nearly killed her. Nothing will stop her. She will find him. She’ll even pair up with an overbearing Fallen Angel who’s hell bent on making everything harder than it needs to be if she has to.

Protect Layla.

For Max, nothing else matters. Not the bruises covering his body. Not the pain radiating from his broken bones. Not even his hands tied behind his back. He will find a way to save Layla, and the Fomore will pay if they’ve hurt her.

Every. Single. One of them.

In the second installment of The Fire Born trilogy, a new breed of villain looms—one Layla and Max will never suspect, and this killer has nothing to lose. Better yet, with Max and Layla’s deaths, victory is in the grip of the enemy.

Will Max and Layla find each other in time, or is it already too late for them both?

For more info: J Taylor Publishing

Target Audience: Young Adult

Key Words: Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Mystery, Mythology

TIED, Book #1

perf5.250x8.000.inddBLURB:

Normal people don’t believe their nightmares stalk them. They don’t fall in love with boys who don’t exist, either.

Seventeen-year-old Layla Labelle, though, is far from normal. Her delusions walk the earth. Her hallucinations hunt her, and her skin heats to a burn every time her anger flares.

Or is that all in her head?

Layla doesn’t know what to believe any more because if none of that’s true, Max MacLarnon must be an illusion, and her heart must still be broken.

No matter how much she wants to believe Max is real, doing so would mean everything else is, too. How, then, is that possible?

The answers lie in an age-old legend the supernatural aren’t prepared to reveal, and with a curse that could tear Layla and Max apart forever—if it doesn’t kill them both first.

In TIED, book one in the Fire Born trilogy, learning the truth will mean fighting an arsenal of demons, and being with Max will put Layla on a path toward her own destruction.

Just how far will Layla go to protect the one she loves?

The answer may never be far enough … away.

539450_509065072469365_10911403_nAUTHOR:

With a passion for the supernatural and all things magical, Laney developed a voracious appetite for reading fantasy at a young age. A vivid imagination helped set the stage for creating her own worlds and placed her onto the writing path.

By the time she reached her teens, she’d accumulated notebooks full of poems, which led to short stories and finally novels. Young adult dark fantasy, paranormal romance, and mythology are among her favorite genres.

A former classical dancer and chef, she grew up in sultry Florida where she still resides with her family.

 

You can find her on:

Twitter.

goodreads.

Facebook Profile

Facebook Author Page

Pinterest.

Tumblr

Her new website: Laney McMann

And by email at: laneymcmannyaauthor(at)gmail(dot)com

 

GIVEAWAY!

Signed paperbacks of TIED (Book 1) &TORN (Book 2) to ONE winner, and E-book copies of TIED & TORN to ONE winner and 5 signed bookmarks.

Enter Rafflecopter:

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BUY LINKS:

Amazon-BuyNow

iBookstore

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GOODREADS:

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Balancing Life and Writing by Susan Soares – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Susan will be awarding a Life is all Good LOVE Tote to a randomly drawn winner (http://www.zappos.com/life-is-good-all-good-tote-soft-purple), a multi-heart turquoise charm bracelet (http://www.zappos.com/m-f-western-multi-heart-charm-turquoise-bracelet-silver) to another randomly drawn winner, a signed copy of Heart on a String to one more randomly drawn winner and finally, a signed bookmark of Heart on a String to three randomly drawn winners. All prizes will be awarded via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Balancing life and writing

This is a tough question, but one I think every writer faces especially if you’re not at the point where you can up and quit your paying job for a life of writing. For me it’s all about schedules and blocks of time. By nature I’m an all or nothing personality. I don’t like the feeling of a large task looming above my head. It makes me feel stressed. Yes, writing can make you stress! So I love the idea of block writing. Or even frenzy writing if you will. I learned about Nanowrimo a few years back and felt that it was the perfect vessel for me. You write a rough draft of a novel in a month. Minimum 50k words. This was what I was looking for. In addition to my all or nothingness I’m also very goal oriented. My quirks and Nanowrimo just seemed to fit hand in hand. Nano is held each November, but I create my own Nanos when I want to work on a rough draft. I set a goal and do my best to adhere to it. For a 50K draft to be done in a month this requires me to write about an hour to two hours a day. Balancing a family, work, and writing can be mind boggling. But once I found setting myself up for the 50K challenge I was able to better work it into place. I knew how much time I needed and I knew that the time set aside to write needed to be just for that- WRITING. Now that’s not say that maybe twenty to thirty minutes of that time is me procrastinating, but once I start banging those words out I don’t stop until the time’s done. My kids know that I’m working and unless someone is sick or bleeding they tend to leave me alone. It’s all about choices. Making the commitment and if you do that you’ll succeed.

The only thing harder than lying about your life? Facing it.

Marissa tells lies.

To herself, about the fact that her brother abandoned her.

To her grandmother, when she says “everything’s fine.”

To the world when she pretends her mother is at home or working late. When she doesn’t tell them her mother is dead.

She doesn’t even question the wisdom of living in a world built on lies anymore—until she meets Brandon. Unlike Marissa, Brandon faces his grief head-on. As their relationship sweetens, Marissa realizes the value of letting someone in and not letting her grief destroy her. But when her past filled with denial catches up with her, Marissa is forced to tell Brandon her darkest secrets, or risk losing him.

The only thing harder than lying about her life? Facing it.

Enjoy an excerpt:

I held my breath as I ran past the cemetery. Stupid, I know. Regardless, it’s one of those idiotic things that stick with you from your childhood. Like fragments of your being that imprint themselves on your chemical makeup. It was my older brother, Marc, who had told me that once when we were in the backseat of Mom’s old hatchback and were driving past the Sacred Path Cemetery.

Marc poked me in my side. “Quick, hold your breath,” he said before taking in a puff of air and holding it in.

“What? Why?” I looked around from side to side.

He didn’t answer me. Instead he just kept motioning with his hands, pointing out the window, putting his hands around his neck like he was choking or something. Finally, when we turned left onto Harper Street he let out a big exhale.

“Oh man, now you’re toast.” He pointed at me and laughed. That maniacal laugh only older brothers know how to do. I was seven at the time, and Marc was ten. “You probably have a ghost inside you now.” He grinned like a devious villain.

“A ghost?” I said.

“You didn’t hold your breath while we drove past the cemetery. Again I state — you’re toast.” He began drumming on his lap with his hands.

I didn’t comprehend what he was telling me, but I knew I didn’t like it. Tears started forming in my eyes, and I knew I had to rely on my failsafe. “Mooommm,” I cried out, and immediately I felt Marc’s sweaty hand over my mouth.

“Yes, Marissa?” Mom’s sweet voice carried from the front of the car to the backseat.

“She’s fine, Mom. I got it.” Marc’s tone was of the dutiful son. He unclamped his hand from my face. “Listen,” he began, talking kind of slow. “You’ve got to remember this. I’m going to give you a life lesson here. Are you ready?”

His green eyes were sparkling, and I nodded my head in agreement.

“Okay.” He crouched down a bit so he was eye-level with me. “You must always, and I mean always, hold your breath when you drive past a cemetery. And if you’re walking past one, you must run — run and hold your breath until you’re clear. Otherwise, the spirits of the undead could invade your body. And you don’t want that to happen. Do you?” I almost couldn’t tell if the last part was a question or a statement.

“But I didn’t hold my breath back there, and all the times before. What if one’s in me right now?” I began pawing at my body.

Marc threw his head back and laughed. “Nah, you’re fine. Just be careful. Now that you know you have to do it, always do it. Understand?”

Again I shook my head. Marc gave me a thumbs-up, and I begged Mom to take Chester Street instead of Maple because I knew there was a big cemetery on Maple. Luckily she agreed.

So now, here I was ten years later, holding my breath as I ran past Sacred Path Cemetery. While I ran, my new sneakers — the ones I had to work double shifts on Saturdays for three weeks to get — started rubbing the back of my left heel, and I knew I’d have a blister the size of a quarter later on. It’s hard to keep your pace when you’re holding your breath. Luckily Sacred Path Cemetery isn’t that big. Just big enough. It’s just big enough. That’s what my grandmother said anyway. I was almost halfway through when I heard the clicking of the tips of my shoelace on the ground. My thoughts concentrated on what those tip things were called, anything to get my mind off the cemetery. Aglets, I remembered! My aglets were hitting the pavement, and I knew if I didn’t stop and retie that lace, then I would land flat on my face. Grace has never been a character trait of mine. My mother, yes, but not me. Marissa No-Grace McDonald should have been my legal name. How my mother came up with Scranton for my middle name I’ll never know.

The last thing I wanted to happen was to fall face first in front of the cemetery. Complete body invasion for sure then. I couldn’t hold my breath that long. So I did what I had to do. I stopped, turned my face the opposite direction of the cemetery, and took one big breath in and held it. Next, I bent down and furiously retied that lace. Why is it that whenever you try doing something in a rush it never comes out right? Somehow I tied my finger into the knot. Then, I couldn’t get the loops to line up right. Just as I was finally conquering the over-under shoelace tying technique that Marc had taught me when I was five, I heard muffled sounds coming from inside the cemetery. I searched for the source of the sounds. As I looked near the line of big oak trees that lined the right-hand side of the cemetery, I saw the profiles of a family. What I assumed was a family, anyway. There was a woman, about my mom’s age, a guy about my age, and a younger boy, maybe six or seven. The little boy was holding a metallic balloon, which was red and in the shape of a heart. Bright sun caught the corner of it, creating a glare that momentarily impaired my vision. When my eyes refocused, I was suddenly aware of my body and extremely aware of the fact that I was watching this family’s private moment, in the cemetery, in this cemetery. My heart beat frantically, and I became aware that my forehead was covered in perspiration. I stood up, held my breath again, and ran the next half a block without stopping, my aglets clicking against the pavement all the way.

When I crossed over onto Brenton Street, I finally slowed down. I felt like I could breathe again. My pace was back to a more conservative speed, and after one more break to retie that shoelace-triple-knot, I was able to refocus. The spring air felt good on my skin. As the sun poured down on me, my face embraced its warmth. Lilacs were in full bloom everywhere, and I made a special detour down Hazel Street to run past the six lilac bushes Mr. Brockwell planted a few years ago. He said it was just because he wanted to add some color to his front yard, but I knew better. I knew they were for my mom.

Turning down Hazel Street, I inhaled the heavy floral scent of the freshly-bloomed lilac bushes, and I could picture my mom smiling. As I ran past the last bush, the little blue house finally came into view. I saw Mr. Brockwell picking up his newspaper from his front step. In that moment I wished I had magical powers to turn myself invisible.

“Marissa? Hey Marissa!” he shouted while making his way over to the fence.

Oh great. “Oh, hey, Mr. Brockwell.” I slowed down and began jogging in place, hoping the gesture would let him know I couldn’t stay to chat.

“It’s been a long time since you’ve run this route, hasn’t it?” He cinched his blue terrycloth robe a little tighter.

Trying to remain active, I kept jogging in place. “Yeah, I guess. I wanted to run past the lilacs.” I wasn’t sure if it was the sun or my nerves, but I felt like my body was going into heat shock or something.

Mr. Brockwell stared at me, and then I saw his eyes get glassy. He began to speak but then ran his hand over his mouth like he was muffling down what he wanted to say. His hands fumbled with his paper, and he cleared his throat.

“It’s good to see—” he paused; it was like the words were getting caught in his throat like tuna inside a fisherman’s net.

I realized I was standing still. My legs began to spasm. He caught my eye one more time, but just for a moment before he had to look away. I knew why. It was the reason I never ran past his house anymore. The reason why we couldn’t have a conversation anymore. Everyone used to tell me I was so lucky to look so much like my mom. She was gorgeous. High cheekbones, perfect heart-shaped mouth, sparkling blue eyes that sat perfectly on her oval face. Besides her hair being a stunning ash blond and mine being mouse brown, we did look quite similar. Except that while her features seemed to make her look like Grace Kelly, mine seemed to make me look like, well, not Grace Kelly.

But it was moments like this — Mr. Brockwell unable to look at me for more than a minute without having to look away — that I wished I looked less like her. I felt like my face was betraying him. Like my cheekbones and lips were baiting him with memories of him and my mom together. Although now, each memory was served with a side of sorrow instead of a side of joy.

I’ll never forget when I saw him two days after the funeral. We bumped into each other at Have Another Cup Coffee Shop on Main Street. First he hugged me and asked how I was doing; then he had to look away, and he told me why.

“It hurts to look at you, Marissa. You look so much like her.” I knew how much he loved my mom, and Marc and I enjoyed having him around, but after that moment I made sure to keep my distance. So he went from being Hank to back to being Mr. Brockwell.

Now, I stood there — uncomfortable from sweat that covered me head to toe — wondering how much longer I needed to stand there while he avoided my face. “So, I gotta go or my pace is gonna be all messed up.”

Hank, I mean, Mr. Brockwell took one final look at me. “Sure, sure.” He started to walk backward then stopped. “Marissa, just so you know. Any time you want to see the lilacs you can.”

The lump in my throat held back any words I could have gotten out, so I just waved and made a beeline for the next street so I could start my way back home. Seeing Mr. Brockwell had put me into a fog. My brain wasn’t able to concentrate on my pace or on my footing, and I began to get a shin splint pain on my left-hand side. Unfortunately, this was the same side as the blister. My run was only six miles, but my body was starting to feel like I was at mile thirteen. I couldn’t relax my breathing, and the back of my throat felt like it was on fire every time I inhaled. In my fog, I didn’t realize I forgot to cross Parker Street, and now the only way to get back was to take Fletcher Street again. And run past Sacred Path Cemetery, again. Now, I ran past that cemetery every day on my jog, but only once. Once was all I needed to let me get it out of my system. And it’s not like my mom’s grave is right where I run past. She’s way on the other side, the Cranville Street side. I never run that side. But now, in all the confusion, I have to go past it again. My hand scratched an itch at the back of my neck as the street sign came into view. Like always, I stopped for a moment, took a few deep breaths in and out, then grabbed one big breath of air and held it as I started my way past the cemetery.

My focus was way up ahead to the stop sign at the other end. I kept my eyes on that sign and kept my feet stepping under me, quick and steady. I wasn’t even halfway across when I caught sight of some sort of string frantically whipping in the wind, and I was running straight toward it. My gaze moved to follow the line of the string, trying to see what it was attached to, and that’s when I saw it, caught in the big tree right by the fence. The red, heart-shaped metallic balloon, and my heart hit the ground.

About the Author:

Susan Soares grew up in a small town in Massachusetts, always dreaming of one day being an author. After numerous short stories, poems and plays, those dreams finally became a reality when her first book, My Zombie Ex-Boyfriends was published. (Featherweight Press, 2013) Her second book Heart on a String was just released in June 2014 by Astraea Press.

Susan received her MA in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University, and will be pursuing teaching soon. When she isn’t writing Susan spends her time reading, experimenting with photography, planning her next Disney World vacation and chasing after her kids.

Susan loves to read YA fiction. Maybe it’s because her inner sixteen-year-old still wants to be prom queen.

Twitter ~ YouTube ~ Website ~ Blog ~ Goodreads ~ Wattpad

Buy the book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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Ten Things Most People Don’t Know About Rin Chupeco – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Welcome to Rin Chupeco as she visits with us as part of her virtual book tour organized by the publisher promoting her debut novel The Girl from the Well, a retelling of the legend that inspired The Ring, told from the point of view of the murdered spirit. Leave a comment for a chance to win a print copy of the book (US/Canada only)

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10 things most people don’t know about you
1. I have the weirdest fandoms. I’m a huge Phil Harris / Cornelia Marie fangirl, for instance. (bonus points if you know which fandom this is). I have an odd fascination with Louis XV of France, and I’m not sure why. And despite the popularity of the books, I’m having trouble finding a fellow Discworld fan (short anecdote: one of my friends from the UK wanted to meet up for teatime, and I said “It’s pronounced ‘teah-ti-meh’.” and giggled for a solid five minutes while everyone stared). Even harder to find: Dirk Gently fans. Mike Wolf and Frank Fritz fans. (I watch The Pickers all the time.) James Spader fans. Night Vale podcast fans. And is there an Anthony Bourdain or Gordon Ramsay fanclub that I can join? I like my fandoms eclectic, it seems.

2. I never had a Barbie doll. I had Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe, and Ghostbusters action figures instead. My love was so great that I had the Ectomobile, my very own lifesize photon pack, and a huge turtle lair. I was naturally upset when my parents bought me a dollhouse for staying on the honor roll back in elementary. (My sister, on the other hand, was thrilled – until I started moving my G. I. Joe dolls into the house and informed her that Flint and Shipwreck had declared martial law).

3. I can fold my hands length-wise, and it has grossed out a lot of people in the past, husband included. (Let’s just say that diving into the shallow end of community swimming pools is a Very Bad Idea.)

4. Recently, whenever I feel the need for inspiration, I take a break and play Cards Against Humanity for an hour or so.

5. I am an avid gamer. How avid? My three-month-old son is named after a fictional assassin from a ridiculously popular game. (It’s worth mentioning that hubby is also a gamer.) We go on gaming dates, because that is how we roll.

6. My first childhood memory was watching Remington Steele at two years old. My dad says I used to point at the TV screen whenever Pierce Brosnan was in a scene and screech, “THAT’S MY BOYFRIEND!” Even as a kid, I had pretty good taste.

7. In a lot of ways, TV was my babysitter growing up. I was fortunate to have a television set in my room, and I would wait until the house was quiet before sneakily turning it on and watching my favorite shows, which were for some reason always shown past my bedtime. I remember watching David Letterman and Conan O’Brien and not always getting their jokes given my age then, but those two eventually helped develop my sense of humor. And then there was the MTV Oddities series, back when MTV actually thought about the kind of programs they had instead of the crappy reality shows they’ve got on now. My love for the very weird started with Oddities, particularly Aeon Flux, The Head and The Maxx.

8. Several people have asked if I’d had any experience with the supernatural, given the subject matter I write. I can honestly say that despite my fascination with ghosts I’ve never actually believed in them, or seen any evidence for them – it’s just something I love to read about. That said, I’ve had a workmate who claimed that she’d seen a woman dressed in black looking over my shoulder once (it was early morning and I was the only one in the office when she’d arrived). She assumed it was another co-worker, until she saw said co-worker only just entering the premises. She was a bit more freaked out about this than I was, especially since I didn’t feel anything strange at that time. I’m happy to report though, that the alleged ghost never bothered me at that job aside from that incident.

9. I am also an avid crime junkie. I love Forensic Detectives and the Crime Investigation channel. I have a million books about serial killers, notable crimes, Mafia books, and the like. I have a large collection of detective fiction, from Doyle to Chandler to Akunin to Christie to Rankin. It’s a weird interest for a kid, but I think my main enjoyment was reading about how these criminals and get caught
– if I didn’t want to be a writer I would probably have seriously considered being a cop / homicide detective.

10. There are three kinds of food that I can’t turn down: crab, fresh raw salmon, and truffles. I once ate three plates of truffle-oil pasta once because I couldn’t bear to see it going to waste. My mother also claims my love for crab stems from her own craving for it when she was pregnant with me – it was about the only thing she ate.

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About the Author:9_17 rin Despite uncanny resemblances to Japanese revenants, Rin Chupeco has always maintained her sense of humor. Raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. She’s been a technical writer and travel blogger, but now makes things up for a living. The Girl from the Well is her debut novel. Connect with Rin at http://www.rinchupeco.com.

9_12 book coverThe Ring meets The Exorcist in this haunting and lyrical reimagining of the Japanese fable.

Okiku has wandered the world for hundreds of years, setting free the spirits of murdered children. Wherever there’s a monster hurting a child, her spirit is there to deliver punishment. Such is her existence, until the day she discovers a troubled American teenager named Tark and the dangerous demon that writhes beneath his skin, trapped by a series of intricate tattoos. Tark needs to be freed, but there is one problem—if the demon dies, so does its host.

With the vigilante spirit Okiku as his guide, Tark is drawn deep into a dark world of sinister doll rituals and Shinto exorcisms that will take him far from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Japan. Can Okiku protect him from the demon within or will her presence bring more harm? The answer lies in the depths of a long-forgotten well.

Writing as a Coping Skill by Lisa M. Cronkhite – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour promoting Lisa M. Cronkhite‘s Deep in the Meadow. Enter to win a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card, an ebook of Deep in the Meadow, and signed swag.

Writing as a Coping Skill

Confession. I only write to cope with my real life issues. Sure I love to write, but I mainly do it to live a healthy lifestyle. With so much crap in the world today, all you want to do is retreat in your mind and think of nicer, calmer things. Anything to get your mind off of what’s bothering you most, or that you’re bored and restless and want to escape just to pass the time. I think everyone can relate to that, at least. Writing can do that for you.

My first Bipolar episode started with a “do not enter” sign in my mind. Yet I was always ready to go through the EXIT ONLY doors. I still want to escape through those doors sometimes. We all have doors/walls we put up to defend ourselves from getting hurt.

But what if you keep hurting yourself over and over again just to NOT inflict pain on others? What if you were so picked on, hurt, called names that you didn’t like, chased down all the way home and had to fight no matter what? I got into a lot of fist fights when I was young. I had to, I was always being confronted.

I kept running though. I keep running from “her,” but in a different way. I write her down and chase after her like a dog with a bone, growling in her face, there! I’d give her a name like Katrina. I’d talk like her too, pretending I was someone else. I would really get into character!

Anyway, I was pushed and pulled into a million different directions in life. Writing is where I can twist the truth and change all the voices in my head and put all of them to good use. Writing a story can be amazingly fun if you put your mind to it. Write those feelings out into a story or poem or whatever you form it to be.

And you know what the coolest part is? You can go back and revise, add and subtract all you want, keep building it, make it go to the darkest alleys of New York, or the highest towers of whatever city you make it. It’s an underworld city? Oooohhh, now there’s a book to write!

Can you write about the facts and twist them into something it’s not? Sure! That’s what fiction is all about. Ideas are everywhere. Turn those ideas into something else, a story…or poem…or journal down one girl’s journey. I assure you, it will be worth it.

9_15 Meadows_final_webBianca “Bee” Thompson’s brother, Jimmy has been dead for ten months, yet she still feels his presence lingering. And one question haunts her: Was Jimmy’s death an accident?

Probing into the events on the night of Jimmy’s death, Bee hears strange voices. The voices lead her to a blood-splattered room, a terrifying threat, and a deadly trap. Is Bee on the trail of her brother’s murderer, or is she entangled in a totally different and much more diabolical plot?

About the Author:9_15 Lisa-CronkhiteMidwest Author Lisa M. Cronkhite’s love for writing started when she was a teen, journaling of her torrid romance with her first boyfriend then and now husband of over two decades. She picked up writing again after her first bipolar episode and psychotic break when her doctor recommended it as a coping skill. Once again, with pencil in hand, Lisa dove herself into crafting poetry. Through the years, Lisa has published her poems in print and online magazines such as Poetry Repairs, Grey Sparrow Press, Sacramento Poetry Center, Poetry Salzburg Review and many more. Lisa also has short stories in magazines like Suspense Magazine and YA Fiction magazine Suddenly Lost in Words.

Her novels include Dreaming a Reality, Demon Girl and Deep in the Meadows. Disconnected is her fourth novel. Lisa is currently working on her next novel, Purple Haze.

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Buy the book at Amazon or Leap Books.

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Release Day and Giveaway: Torn by Laney McMann

TORN, the second installment of the Fire Born Novels by Laney McMann, has launched.

PLUS, there’s a Giveaway!

TORN (Book #2)Find Max.

That’s all Layla cares about. Not healing from the Fomore attack. Not finding answers to how she survived a fall that nearly killed her. Nothing will stop her. She will find him. She’ll even pair up with an overbearing Fallen Angel who’s hell bent on making everything harder than it needs to be if she has to.

Protect Layla.

For Max, nothing else matters. Not the bruises covering his body. Not the pain radiating from his broken bones. Not even his hands tied behind his back. He will find a way to save Layla, and the Fomore will pay if they’ve hurt her.

Every. Single. One of them.

In the second installment of The Fire Born trilogy, a new breed of villain looms—one Layla and Max will never suspect, and this killer has nothing to lose. Better yet, with Max and Layla’s deaths, victory is in the grip of the enemy.

Will Max and Layla find each other in time, or is it already too late for them both?

Releasing September 8, 2014

For more info: J Taylor Publishing

Target Audience: Young Adult

Key Words: Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Mystery, Mythology

TIED, Book #1

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Normal people don’t believe their nightmares stalk them. They don’t fall in love with boys who don’t exist, either.

Seventeen-year-old Layla Labelle, though, is far from normal. Her delusions walk the earth. Her hallucinations hunt her, and her skin heats to a burn every time her anger flares.

Or is that all in her head?

Layla doesn’t know what to believe any more because if none of that’s true, Max MacLarnon must be an illusion, and her heart must still be broken.

No matter how much she wants to believe Max is real, doing so would mean everything else is, too. How, then, is that possible?

The answers lie in an age-old legend the supernatural aren’t prepared to reveal, and with a curse that could tear Layla and Max apart forever—if it doesn’t kill them both first.

In TIED, book one in the Fire Born trilogy, learning the truth will mean fighting an arsenal of demons, and being with Max will put Layla on a path toward her own destruction.

Just how far will Layla go to protect the one she loves?

The answer may never be far enough … away.

539450_509065072469365_10911403_nAUTHOR:

With a passion for the supernatural and all things magical, Laney developed a voracious appetite for reading fantasy at a young age. A vivid imagination helped set the stage for creating her own worlds and placed her onto the writing path.

By the time she reached her teens, she’d accumulated notebooks full of poems, which led to short stories and finally novels. Young adult dark fantasy, paranormal romance, and mythology are among her favorite genres.

A former classical dancer and chef, she grew up in sultry Florida where she still resides with her family.

 

You can find her on:

Twitter.

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Facebook Profile

Facebook Author Page

Pinterest.

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Her new website: Laney McMann

And by email at: laneymcmannyaauthor(at)gmail(dot)com

 

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GIVEAWAY!

Signed paperbacks of TIED (Book 1) &TORN (Book 2) to ONE winner, and E-book copies of TIED & TORN to ONE winner.

Enter Rafflecopter:

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BUY LINKS:

Amazon-BuyNow

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GOODREADS:

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And until September 15th, TIED will be on sale in honor of TORN’s launch.

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