Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Shadowgirl by Kate Ristau

I write because…

I write because I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in grade school. I would read books and wonder who the authors were. How did they come up with such amazing stories? Then one day, I realized that I could write stories too — that I had my own stories to tell. The moment I realized that, my life suddenly made so much more sense. I started to see the world, the past, the future, as a series of stories to tell.
2. If I were your favorite cookie, what would I be?
If you were my favorite cookie, you would be eaten. You would have been snickerdoodle, or, if I was really lucky, you would have been a chai cookie made by my friend Jenna.
3. Plotter or pantster?
I tend to be a pantser in my first drafts. I have an idea of where the story will go, but the story inevitably takes me somewhere else entirely. Then, when I finish the draft, I immediately write a reverse outline, thinking about the story and what happened. I consider what I wrote, what makes sense, and what was just a distraction. Then, I start revising.
4. What is your favorite type of character to write about and why?
My favorite type of character has depth and drive and a fair amount of magic. I love fantasy stories and the idea that we are more than we think we are: that there is magic and joy and possibility in our world (or in another).
I try to write stories in the “real” world, with “real” characters. Then, I slip up, give them magic, or superpowers, and make them awesome. I do not feel sad about this.
5. Hamburgers or sushi?
Cookies. Is that still a choice? Because forget about dinner: I’m just in it for the cookies.
6. Name three things on your desk.
Plant. Statue. Peacock lamp.
The plant is a beautiful succulent that refuses to stay contained. The statue came from the middle of a king cake. The lamp was a gift from my husband that appeared on my desk one night.
7. What books have influenced your writing style?
I could go on and on. But I’ll limit it to two particular books that I love. The first is The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. It is a gorgeously beautiful, yet deceptively simple fantasy novel about a unicorn’s quest to discover what happened to the rest of her kind. Beagle tells this story in such a straightforward manner, and I fell in love with the unicorn’s perspective and language. I also love how Robin Hobb approaches animals in the Assassin’s Apprentice. Hobb’s books draw me in and make me think of the possibilities of a good fantasy book. Both of these authors take their time and build their worlds with beautiful scenes and complex characters. Each time I go back to their books, I find something new and unexpected that challenges me in my own worldbuilding. 
8. Tell us a little about your book. 
Shadowgirl is a young adult novel, but it is not a fairy tale. Áine lives in the light, but she is haunted by darkness, and when her fey powers blaze out of control, she escapes into the Shadowlands. But she cannot outrun her past. Fire fey and a rising darkness threaten the light, burning a path across the veil. Her fiery dreams come to life, and with the help of Hennessy, an uninhibited Irish girl, Áine dives into the flames to discover who she truly is. Her mother burned to keep her secret safe, and now Áine wields the deadly Eta. She must learn to fight in the shadows — or die in the flames.
9. What advice do you have for new and aspiring authors?
I used to be a writing instructor, and my students heard this phrase over and over again: Just write. Write when it’s easy; write when it’s hard. Write when you hate your pen; write when you can’t imagine doing anything else. Writing is a joy and a delight, but it is also hard work. Get in that chair, and get to work. Just write.
10. What is next on your writerly horizon?
I have quite a few books up my sleeve and on my laptop. The one I am currently working on is the follow-up to Shadowgirl. No plot spoilers, but…it is awesome. 
Top 5 favorite (pick one) desserts, movies, things to eat, ice cream flavors, books.
Five good books I read so far this year: 
1. The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, Neil Gaiman
2. Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel
3. The Ice Dragon, George R.R. Martin
4. Red Rising, Pierce Brown
5. The Slow Regard of Silent Things, Patrick Rothfuss


Kate Ristau is an author and folklorist. She writes young adult and middle grade fiction, along with grammar primers that won’t make you cringe. In her ideal world, magic and myth combine to create memorable stories with unforgettable characters. Until she finds that world, she'll live in Portland, Oregon with her husband, her son, and her dog. If you can’t find her there, you can find her at kateristau.com.

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Áine lives in the light, but she is haunted by darkness, and when her fey powers blaze out of control, she escapes into the Shadowlands. But she cannot outrun her past. Fire fey and a rising darkness threaten the light, burning a path across the veil. Her fiery dreams come to life, and with the help of Hennessy, an uninhibited Irish girl, Áine dives into the flames to discover who she truly is. Her mother burned to keep her secret safe, and now Áine wields the deadly Eta. She must learn to fight in the shadows — or die in the flames. This is not a fairy tale.


Áine dug her feet into the ground, gathered her strength, and then burst through the undergrowth. She tore through the tree line and dashed toward the back door of the building. A light suddenly flashed in front of her, and before she could stop her- self, she crashed into a short girl holding the flame. They fell to the ground, and Áine wrestled the fire out of her hands, afraid they were both going to get burned. She rolled off the girl, then grabbed the edge of her cloak and beat down the flames. 
“You idiot!” the girl yelled. “What are you doing to my phone?” 
The girl reached over and tapped the blazing light, mumbling anxiously, and the color of the fire shifted under her fingers. 
Aunt Eri had warned Áine about this strange magic. Eri said that the Shadows had harnessed the power of the sun. No one re- ally knew for sure, as few fey had made the Crossing since then. But now Áine saw this girl—her own age—holding cold fire in her hands, and her heart raced, afraid of what other magic the girl might know, and of what she could do. 
“What’s wrong with you, freak show?” the girl asked. “Why are you attacking my phone?” 
Áine could barely understand what the girl was saying. Her accent was thick and blended, mixed with phrases Áine had never heard before. 
“Hello?” she shouted, waving her hands in front of Áine’s face. “Earth to weird girl. Seriously, what’s wrong with you?” 
“Nothing,” Áine said. “I’m sorry—I didn’t mean to attack your...phone. I have never seen—” 
“You’ve never seen a phone before? Oh my God, where are you even from? Mars or something? Seriously, you run out of the woods like David Beckham and clobber me and then you’re all like you’ve never even seen a phone before?” 
When the girl stopped for a breath, Áine said, “I didn’t mean I’ve never seen one before. I just meant I have never seen one like that before—” 
“An iPhone? God, you must be from Mars. Or maybe Cork or something.” The girl suddenly lightened up and smiled. “My name’s Hennessy, by the way. Yes, like the cognac; my da thought it was sooo funny. What’s your name?” 
“No, Áine.”
“On-ya. Good. That’s so much better than Tonya. How awful 
would it be to be stuck with that name? I like Hennessy myself, and Áine’s good too.” Hennessy smiled, grabbed a tie out of her back pocket, and pulled her jet-black hair back into a ponytail. She wore a tight, short black shirt that said “The Eolian” on it. She wasn’t wearing a cloak, and she wore strange pantaloons with lots of pockets. “Where the hell is Tom?” she said. “He was sup- posed to meet me here after my shift. I’ve already been outside for like twenty minutes. He probably forgot. He always does this. You going in?” 
“Yes, inside, dimwit. Into the pub. You don’t have to. You can stay out here with me. If you want to. I’m kind of starting to like you. Can’t imagine why. Maybe it’s the cloak. So vintage. But the scarf—or whatever that is—has got to go. You’re cute, though. Quiet, but nice. Except for when you tackled me.” She laughed hard, and Áine couldn’t help but smile. The girl’s energy rubbed off on her. 
After a moment, Hennessy quieted down and stared into the blazing light of her phone again. Áine glanced back toward the edge of the forest, looking for any sign of the Guardian. The forest was dark and quiet. 
“Do you know how to get to the ferry?” Áine asked. 
“Those are the most words you’ve ever said to me.” Hennessy laughed and put her phone in her pocket. “And talk about ran- dom. You mean the Aran Islands?” 
“I’m going to Inis Thiar.” 
“You mean Inisheer. It’s one of the Aran Islands. Only old people call it Inis Thiar. And you’re not old. The ferry’s over in Rossaveel by my house.” She pulled out her phone again, tapped it, then suddenly shoved it back in her pocket. “Screw Tom. I can take you there if you want. It’s only about ten minutes away, but it would take you a couple of hours to walk it. I’ll give you a ride.” 
Áine remembered what Ciaran had said: Shadows can’t be trusted. They’re liars. Thieves. Murderers. She shook her head no. “Oh, shut up. It’s not that big of a deal. And Tom’s pissing me off. Come on. I don’t wanna go back in there, and I really don’t want him to think I’ve got nothing better to do than sit around the 
pub and wait on him all night.”
Áine heard a tree branch snap, and her head whipped back 
toward the forest. Branches rustled, and she caught the gleam of an eye. Two eyes. Had Ciaran followed her? She told him not to— wait—four eyes. Six. No—eight. 
“What is that?” Áine whispered.
“Nothing. I really have to go. Thank you for the help.” “What? You’re leaving now? Like, right now?”
A loud crash sounded through the forest, and then a scream, 
like the very trees were being torn apart. A crow burst out of the darkness, and then another. Áine had only ever seen crows in her schoolbooks, with their long black feathers and sharp pointed beaks, but she knew what they were. Traitors. Come back from the Hetherlands. 
“We need to go!” Áine yelled as she grabbed Hennessy’s hand and pulled her toward the side of the building. “Now!” 
“What’s going on?” Hennessy asked as she stumbled after Áine. “What’s with those birds?” 
Áine turned back and saw a dark swarm crashing through the forest. The light from the tavern gleamed on their sleek feathers; they barreled toward her with unnatural speed. Áine yanked on Hennessy, trying to get her to run faster. “Come on! We have to get out of here!” 
Áine’s words jolted Hennessy back to life, and she let go of Áine’s hand and broke into a full sprint. “Come on—I’ll take you!” Hennessy yelled over her shoulder. 
The crow’s wings beat against her back as she ran after Hen- nessy. It clawed at her sleeve, tearing her shirt, and a wave of pain rolled through her as she whacked it into a tree. She glanced down at her arm and her stomach churned. The crow had scratched its way down her arm in a fury of pain and red. 
Red. Blood. Everywhere. 
Her foot stuck something hard. She stumbled, but caught her- self before she hit the ground. Blood. Blood. Dripping down her fingers. She shook her head and jumped back to her feet, running toward the front of the tavern, trying to not even think about— 
She ground to a halt, her breath catching in her throat. Beasts. Everywhere.
“Why are you stopping?” Hennessy grabbed Áine’s arm and 
pulled her toward a bright white beast. Its eyes flashed red, and then it cheeped loudly. 
Áine recoiled, but Hennessy wasn’t afraid: she shoved Áine toward the beast and yelled, “Get in the car!” 
“No!” Áine yelled. She turned to run from the beast just as several crows swooped down, ripping at Hennessy’s hair with their long black claws. Áine swung her heavysack at the incom- ing birds, knocking several to the ground. Hennessy flailed wildly at the crows, pushing them out of the way as she ran around the beast. She jerked on the beast’s arm and, without stopping, she jumped inside it. 
“Stop!” Áine screamed. “Let her go!” She pounded on the beast with her fists, but it was hard as iron, and she left smears of blood with every punch. The beast roared in response, but that didn’t stop her. She had to get Hennessy back. She slammed her body into the beast and a beam of light suddenly lit up the night. Áine turned to see a man, dressed in a long black cloak with a hood, standing by the tavern door. The ground turned to ash around his feet and smoke poured from his fingertips. She could almost taste his repulsive sulfur smell. His piercing red eyes glowed from beneath the shadow of his hood and the moment she caught sight of them, she was transfixed. 
Fire. Flames. His pale white hands wrapping around her throat, his long nails scraping away at her skin— 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Awakening the Fire


It's her first murder case...
Twenty-three-year-old Ari Calin has sworn to keep the peace in the Olde Town district of Riverdale, and most of the time the Otherworlders cooperate. The vampires, werewolves and other magical creatures go about their business, living side by side with humans, until the foreign wolves arrive and a virtual reality drug hits the streets. Violence erupts, and Ari needs more than her witch fire, weapons, and potions to stop the madness.
Joining forces with a human police officer, Lt. Ryan Foster, and a way-too-sexy vampire singer, Andreas De Luca, Ari hunts for the enemy—from the vampire strip clubs to the caverns under the city. Every step draws Ari and her companions deeper into an old feud and closer to the brink of a supernatural war.

Excerpt :

(Despite the friction and mistrust between them, Ari has come to Andreas's supper club to ask for his help on her murder case.)

The vampire's coal-black eyes found her and silken threads of magic wrapped her in a soft web. The room faded away. She floated as in a dream, warm and safe. A place to linger forever. Her witch magic began to sing in concert with his, and Ari called it back to her. The effort brought her out of his web with a jolt.

Damn, how strong was he? She wrapped her magical aura around her. As long as she kept it in place, his magic was held at bay. Then, mercifully, the song was over. Andreas bowed to a wildly applauding audience and left the stage.

“Good evening.” Startled, she stared at him.

“Uh, hello.” How did he move so fast? He produced a polite smile.

“If you will come this way.” He waved a hand toward a hallway on the left.

Ari hesitated. A meeting in private? She hadn’t anticipated that.

His brows rose. “We have twenty minutes.”

Swallowing her doubts, Ari preceded him down the hall. It was better this way, she told herself. Fewer interruptions. At least she knew her time parameters. He ushered her past four closed doors, not stopping until they reached an exit door at the end. He touched a security panel, the door opened, and they stepped into a paved lane leading to the rear parking lot. Dense trees lined the opposite side of the lane. Total privacy.

The night was pleasantly cool. The crisp cleanness of fall filled the air. Ari hung back and watched her companion as he stopped in the middle of the lane. Andreas arched his shoulders and threw back his head, breathing deeply. For a moment all Ari could think about was how sexy he looked.

“I hope you don’t mind talking out here. It has been a long evening, and I needed the fresh air.”

“Not at all. It’s nice.” She looked up at the stars, pinpoints in an uncluttered sky, to keep from looking at him. “What was that last song you sang?”

“An Italian love song. Did you enjoy it?”


He turned to look at her. “It was, or I was?” His voice invited a broader interpretation.

 She smiled. “Both,” she said, not bothering to hedge. “But who’s fishing for compliments now?”

“Touché.” His familiar laugh came then, rich and intimate, strangely companionable.

  1. April 25th
Where Books Lead Us

2.      April 27th
Taking it One Book At A Time

3.      April 28th
Dana Wright

4.      April 29th
Apocalipstick the Book

5.      April 30th
My Tangled Skein Reviews

6.      May 1st
Kelly Smith Reviews

Happy Tails and Tales

7.      May 5th
The Reading Pile

8.      May 6th
Books by Centeno

9.      May 8th
Lovely Paranormal Books


I love Ally Shield's voice and this book kept me reading long into the night. I am clutching my e-reader with sheer happiness at the character development, wit and and potential for this series. It's hot and smexy and I can't wait for more!



Ally Shields grew up in the Midwest, taught school on the East Coast, has visited forty-two of our states, and currently resides near Des Moines, Iowa, with her miniature pinscher, Ranger. Writing has always been a part of her life, and in late 2008, after  a career in law and juvenile justice, she turned to full-time fiction writing. Her first urban fantasy novel, Awakening the Fire, was published in 2012, followed by six additional books in the series. She loves to travel in the US and abroad and incorporates many of those settings into her books. Ally enjoys talking with readers and is active in social media.

Author links

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Zombie Girl: Dead Awakened

Imagine waking up to find the world has ended, but unfortunately you're not alone...

For Connor Innis, awakening from a year-long coma with no memories, no ability to move, and unable to speak was bad enough. Then he learns that a bioweapon set off a zombie apocalypse—for real—while he was sleeping, and the world he can't even remember no longer exists.
Rehabilitation might be torture, but far worse awaits him outside. All too soon, the hospital Mentor declares him fit to leave but with nothing to go home to except a city full of mindless, flesh-eating monsters. That is, until he forms a strange relationship with the one he nicknames Zombie Girl.



There was a zombie outside the window, staring in. Every last fragment of hope that he'd had curled up and died. Not a person. Just a zombie at the door, setting off the buzzer probably by pure chance. He might as well have thrown himself off the balcony.
Heart pounding hard enough to make his chest ache, Connor stood very still. He stared into the misted grey orbs of her eyes. She stared right back. Not at him, but through him, as though something infinitely more desirable lay far beyond anything she could see. He read a kind of dull desperation in her blank face. A longing. Even if that longing was just to tear him apart and devour him. Or maybe that was his imagination.
"Hello?" His voice came out as a dry croak and he wet his lips. He had to try something. He couldn't spend the rest of his life in silence and alone. Even this poor shell of a human was better than that. And maybe—just maybe—he could reach her. Maybe even help her find a fragment of her lost humanity. "Can you hear me?"
No sound or movement. No response at all.
Despair squeezed his throat. The hospital Monitor said the victims didn't suffer brain damage. The virus just stopped all the normal responses, isolating higher functions from their basic animal instincts. Even animals could react to a voice.
"Hey!" He banged on the glass, but even that didn't break her hungry stare. Perhaps she couldn't hear him, let alone understand or respond. Losing those higher functions must have included any communication ability.
Connor sighed, then placed his palm flat on the glass. "I wish you understood me. I wish you hadn't all got sick when I didn't." He rested his forehead on the glass and closed his eyes. "I really wish I could help you."
A moment later a dull thud and a vibration in the glass drew his attention. He raised his head.
She hadn't moved from staring. But her hand pressed against his, separated only by the glass.

After spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 21 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.
Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, blogging at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. Her works include YA and adult stories crossing a multitude of subgenres from scifi to the paranormal and often with romance, and she’s one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade. She’s also a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), the EPIC eBook awards, and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place).
You can stalk her at her website, or at her blog, but without doubt her favorite place to hang around and chat is on Twitter as @pippajaygreen.
Website – http://www.pippajay.co.uk
Blogs –
Adventures in Scifi - http://www.pippajay.blogspot.co.uk
Spacefreighters Lounge - http://www.spacefreighters.blogspot.com
Romancing the Genres - http://www.romancingthegenres.blogspot.co.uk/
SFR Brigade - http://www.sfrcontests.blogspot.co.uk/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/pippajaygreen
Goodreads - http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5054558.Pippa_Jay
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Pippa-Jay-Adventures-in-Scifi/114058821953752
Pinterest - http://www.pinterest.com/pippajaygreen/
Google+ - https://plus.google.com/u/0/101080630877126516448/posts
Wattpad - http://www.wattpad.com/user/PippaJay
Amazon page - http://author.to/PippaJay

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

Shortly after her sixteenth birthday, Sunshine Griffith and her mother Kat move from sunny Austin, Texas, to the rain-drenched town of Ridgemont, Washington. Though Sunshine is adopted, she and her mother have always been close, sharing a special bond filled with laughter and inside jokes. But from the moment they arrive, Sunshine feels her world darken with an eeriness she cannot place. And even if Kat doesn’t recognize it, Sunshine knows that something about their new house is just ... creepy.

In the days that follow, things only get stranger. Sunshine is followed around the house by an icy breeze, phantom wind slams her bedroom door shut, and eventually, the laughter Sunshine hears on her first night evolves into sobs. She can hardly believe it, but as the spirits haunting her house become more frightening—and it becomes clear that Kat is in danger—Sunshine must accept what she is, pass the test before her, and save her mother from a fate worse than death.

Buy link:



The Haunting of Sunshine Girl was a book I couldn't put down. I received the book as an arc from work (bookstore) and was thrilled. I watched the Youtube video and loved the creativity behind it and was not disappointed in the book.

Sunshine has just moved from sunny Texas to the Pacific Northwest and isn't really happy about it. Her mom has a new job and she struggles to fit in. The house they move into is creepy (her words) to the extreme and the uber pink bedroom resembles an exploding pepto bismal bottle. When things start to go bump in the night, Sunshine realizes there is a lot going on with her new house. She is changing too. But that is only the start of her problems. Her mother may be possessed, her new friend is creating some romantic tension and the odd teacher at school may know more than she is letting on about the goings on at her house.

If you love haunted house tales, this is one for you!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Truth: Diary of a Gutsy Tween

The Truth, Diary of a Gutsy Tween
by Barbara Becker Holstein



"I hate Angela and I wish she would move away tomorrow!" "I get so worried when I hear my parents fighting at night." "My mother thinks my crush is silly. I know I am in love!" "I have so many questions about growing up. Who will answer them?" "I feel so awful when Jake makes fun of me." "When I grow up I going to remember how to have fun with my kids and never look away." Growing up is tough. Adults don't always understand you (even though they were once kids), and children today face increasing pressure to be, look, or act a certain way. Written in the voice of a girl on the cusp of becoming a teenager, The Truth provides young girls with an opportunity to see how a girl, who is in many ways like themselves, handles her toughest problems and most personal thoughts. Each new page brings forth a discussion to help girls handle everyday problems: How do you survive a bully? How do you handle a crush on a boy? What can you do about relentless teasing by your peers? What really matters as you grow older?

In a positive and supportive diary-entry format, Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein encourages tween girls to carry the most precious parts of themselves into adulthood. A great book for mothers and daughters to read together, The Truth is aimed to improve communication, understanding, and self-esteem for young girls as they enter the rocky road of teenager-dom.


Excerpt Three:

Date: December 2

Dear Diary,

I have a secret and it’s been eating me up inside, so I have to tell you. I lied to Angela. I told her I had a terrible sore throat and couldn’t come for the weekend. She said she was sorry and that she would invite me again. I felt terrible, and then my throat really began to hurt. But I just couldn’t go to Springport for a whole weekend_even though I miss being around Angela.

Now that I have best friends here, I don’t feel the same way I used to about going back to visit. And I didn’t know how to tell Angela that. I could tell when we talked on the phone that she really wanted me to come. And she sent me a new selfie, holding a sign that reads I Miss You! She even told me that she doesn’t have a new best friend since I left. She really misses me. She also told me that Paul is in lots of her classes and he asks if she’s talked to me. How could I tell her I’m in love with Rob and don’t care about Paul anymore? How could I tell her that I have new best friends and want to stay here with them?

I did go to Sally’s instead, and we had the best time. Her mother ordered pizza for us and we drank Coke. We watched television and made popcorn and did each other’s hair with all of Sally’s older sister’s hair products we found in the bathroom. I look silly with curly hair. We kept laughing and falling on the floor and giggling, and we played this fun game that Jackie learned in camp last summer. We all lay down on the floor and we each put our head on someone else’s belly. Someone says, “Ha-ha,” and then the next person says, “Haha- ha,” until everyone is laughing. Then you can’t stop laughing because the belly you are on is bouncing all around under your head. Sally’s mom got really angry at all the noise we were making, and we had to turn off the lights and pretend to go to sleep. I hardly slept a wink, though. I was so excited and having so much fun with my new friends. I was tired the next morning and really did have a sore throat when I went home, but I didn’t care. It was worth it to have so much fun.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

I have been a positive psychologist in private practice for the past thirty years. In the course of working with my clients, I originated the idea of THE ENCHANTED SELF(R), a positive psychology therapy where I teach people how to recognize and utilize their strengths, talents, skills and even lost potential. I have developed a number of methods, including using our memories to rediscover what is right about ourselves and our lives, rather than what went wrong, helping people to overcome adversity, experience positive emotions and live the good life!

Since developing this concept, I've been able to use many tools to bring the Enchanted Self to everyone, particularly women and girls. I've written many books, starting with THE ENCHANTED SELF, A Positive Therapy, and then Recipes for Enchantment, The Secret Ingredient is YOU!  My books for girls are very popular, as they are great fictional reads and also help deal with many of the questions that trouble kids as they move into the tween and teen years.  The Truth, Diary of a Gutsy Tween and Secrets, Diary of a Gutsy Teen are the first two books in this series.

I really love to teach and educate about happiness and how to benefit from positive psychology in ways that let us lead lives of meaning and happiness. You can find me all over the place on the web. In particular, www.enchantedself.com, www.thetruthforgirls.com, on Facebook at Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein: Psychologist & Author, on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/barbarabeckerho/ and on You Tube. Just look for me on You Tube via Barbara Becker Holstein.

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Spark by Atthys J. Gage

1. I write because… it's cheaper than psychotherapy.

2. If I were your favorite cookie, what would I be?  
Well, last time I answered this question, I said oatmeal raisin, but I was mistaken. My wife's chocolate chip cookies are unparalleled. I don't know what I was thinking earlier.

3. Plotter or pantster?
I plot. Extensively. Before starting a new novel, I chart it out, chapter by chapter, scene by scene. For my current novel, I had nearly forty pages of notes. Then, when I'm actually writing, I mostly ignore them.

4. What is your favorite type of character to write about and why?
I favor strong women. In five books out of six, my protagonist has been female, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. I'm not sure why that is. I like it when women don't wait for men to save the day. I like it when the damsel rescues herself. Even if it's as simple as a girl not waiting for the boy she likes to ask her out, that takes real bravery.

5. Hamburgers or sushi?
I love both for different reasons. I like sushi for its delicacy and variety, all the scents and the flavors. I also like the ritual of preparing the little dish of soy and wasabi, using the chopsticks. I like burgers for the pure pleasure of eating high caloric, savory meat. I have nothing against vegetarianism, but there is something viscerally satisfying about eating, well, viscera.

6. Name three things on your desk.
Tax papers (still unfinished), a copy of Joanna Russ's Picnic on Paradise, a magnifying glass (it’s amazing how print keeps getting smaller and smaller as I age).

7. What books have influenced your writing style?
There are so many books to name. To Kill a Mockingbird. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The Book Thief. I'm a great admirer of Samuel R. Delany's many books. I love Jorge Borges. I've read every novel and story Nabokov wrote. They've all influenced me.  Directly or indirectly, every book I've ever read has influenced me.

8. Tell us a little about your book.
Spark is a tiny entity of uncertain origin. He's pure energy, like a sentient speck of stardust. He (pardon the use of the masculine pronoun) has psionic abilities. He can influence matter and link psychically with others. One night, he follows high school sophomore Francy MacMillan home from basketball practice...

9. What advice do you have for new and aspiring authors?
If you love the writing, write. If it becomes a chore, stop—because, really, the odds are heavily against writing ever becoming a career or even a significant source of income, even if you do get published (sad to say). But if that's reason enough to make you stop, then you probably shouldn't be writing anyway.

10. What is next on your writerly horizon?
Next up is to finish the editing on Flight of the Wren, which Lycaon will be publishing in the near future. I hope to be guest blogging about that very soon. It's another YA title, but very different from Spark, a much darker and more dangerous story. I think folks are going to like it.

Top 5 favorite movies

La Strada, Lawrence of Arabia, Citizen Kane, The Philadelphia Story, City Lights.  (Wow, is that random. All items subject to change without notice on any given day.)


Unexplained corpses? An unearthly visitor? One game between her team and the playoffs? Yeah, it’s been that kind of day for Francy Mac.

People are dying downtown, their bodies shriveled away to almost nothing. The police are mystified and outrageous rumors are flying. Fifteen year-old Francy Macmillan listens, but says nothing. It isn’t a comfort knowing that no matter how far-fetched the theories, the truth is even stranger. 
For Francy, the truth wasn’t very hard to find. It followed her home from basketball practice one night, a floating bauble of light that speaks inside her mind and shares her thoughts and her feelings. Is it an alien wanderer fallen from some distant star? Or a shard of some divine entity? Whatever it is, Spark seems to like her.
But as their friendship grows, a disturbing fact emerges: Spark knows who is responsible for those deaths. With Spark’s help, it is up to Francy to stop them. Spark leads Francy into a strange alternate reality, along with her friends: beautiful Echo with the dragon tattoo; moody Brooke with the wicked jaw; and Owen Owens, the boy with the fascinating eyes who may just get around to kissing her one of these days—assuming the world doesn’t end first.

Snap! The air cracked like a cap pistol. Something bright flew across the room.
I wheeled around with my hand still full of hair.
"What the..."
It flared orange then red—a bright floating fleck of light. I watched it swirl, slowly stirring the air, rising like an ember from a campfire.
I dropped my hairbrush. My hair was on fire! I grabbed my head with both hands, pawing through my hair. "No, no, no!"
But I couldn't feel anything burning. Everything was normal. I checked in the mirror. Nope. Not on fire. Not even a little.
I turned around again. The fleck hovered at eye-level now. It wasn't orange any more. It was blue. I leaned in a little closer. It blinked white, then blue again.
"Okay, this is..."
But really, I couldn't think of a word that fit. I circled it in slow, careful steps. It stayed still, dangling in the air. I reached out a finger. The fleck flashed silver and spiraled upward, before settling at eye level again. Reflected in the dresser mirror, a second fleck performed the same maneuver.
"What are you?" My voice quavered a little. I wasn't scared exactly, but I could feel my heart beating pretty fast. I leaned in closer. "What were you doing in my hair?"
It made a tight vertical loop, pulsing green, blue, and then green again.
"Why are you doing that?" I kept asking it questions like I thought it could answer. I guess I was really talking to myself. I pushed my lips out and blew, just gently. The fleck flickered in the tiny draft, but it didn't blow away. If anything, it drew a little closer. I had the sudden impulse to run downstairs and get a jar from the kitchen and see if I could catch it, but I didn't do that. Instead, I put my hand out. The fleck danced in until it was barely an inch above my open palm. I braced myself and watched it settle into my hand. It was cool and tiny on my skin.
"Hey," I whispered. "What are you?"
It glowed and I heard a sound, low and metallic. Bonk.
"Was that you?"
There was a chirp, and then a low warbling hoot like when you blow air over the top of a bottle. None of these sounds came in through my ears. They were just there, sounding inside my head.
Again, it went bonk. That seemed to be its favorite. A click, a whistle, a little wooden pop. Far-off thunder rumbled. Quiet at first, it rose up inside me, getting bigger and louder. The sound swooped up into a squeal then dropped even faster to a sub-woofer grumble and faded to silence.
"Is this supposed to mean something?"
It made a soft chugging noise, like a little toy train. The whole time, the thing just sat there glowing in my palm.
"I don't think we're getting anywhere."
It rose into the air until it hung just a few inches from my nose. I stared. It glowed blue, flashed silver, and then paled to dull violet.
"It's okay," I said, and this time I was totally talking to myself. "This isn't really happening. It's a dream. I'm dreaming. A dream about a little fleck of light that floats around, making strange noises..."
Then, it flared bright crimson and flew straight into my head.
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Atthys Gage is a writer and musician with a lifelong love for myth, magic, and books. His second real job was in a bookstore. As was his third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. Eventually, he stopped trying to sell books and started writing them. After studying classics at Haverford College, he developed an interest in the ways that ancient stories influence modern storytelling, and has always had a fascination for that cloudy borderline between the normal and the paranormal. He lives on the coast of Northern California with his long-suffering wife, strong-willed children, and several indifferent chickens.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Death's Melody

Author Interview Questions:

1. I write because… it sounds better than talking to my imaginary friends. 

2. If I were your favorite cookie, what would I be? oh totes chocolate chip. I am a sucker for the original.... but it doesn't have to be cooked, that's where my alliances end. chocolate chunks? yes? cooked? Naw!

3. Plotter or pantster? Panster. I can't plot out my day. Today, I planned on showering... lol it's 9 at night and I haven't gotten out of my jammies.

4. What is your favorite type of character to write about and why? OOOOH! I am such a sap for the misunderstood badboy. *Fans self* give me a man who shoots guns, takes names but answers to no one. 

5. Hamburgers or sushi? Hamburger!!! I was raised on a farm for gosh sakes!

6. Name three things on your desk. lol, well, i sort of don't write on a desk. I'm a couch potato kinda writer. So around me is an empty container of OREO's, a crusty coffee cup and my cell phone. (Which i check every five minutes thanks to Trivia Crack.

7. What books have influenced your writing style? Twilight, but let's be real; who hasn't that book influenced??

8. Tell us a little about your book. The Ringer Masquerade Series is all about falling in love when your out of time. The characters in these books have a stopwatch to their lives. They know when they will die and why. The trouble is when they find someone to live for.

9. What advice do you have for new and aspiring authors? Encase yourself in bubblewrap. There will be bad days, poor reviews, and some bla moments. 

10. What is next on your writerly horizon? I am currently working on the Twisted Fairytale Confessions. Death of the Mad Hatter (1) Locks: Rapunzel Unhinged (2) and soon Snow White Lies (3)

Top 5 favorite (pick one) desserts, movies, things to eat, ice cream flavors, books. Reese Peanut Butter Cup while watching Just Married after chomping down a Casey's Pizza= perfect night

“I was created to die. Death isn’t what scares me. What I’m afraid of is what they’ll do if I don’t play by their rules,” James said.
“You don’t have to do everything they want, James.”
The rage in James’ eyes fizzled into misery, but even as anguish threatened to overtake his soul, hope lingered. His familiar scent drew me closer. It reminded me of the young man he used to be. He towered over me, as if he could shelter me from the cruelty of life. It was tempting to let him, but I knew it would just be another lie. The Ringer made a game out of life and death. They created the rules and demanded everyone abide by them orsuffer the consequences. Nevertheless, I couldn’t ignore the truth any longer. I needed answers.
“Yes, I do. If I want to protect the ones I love…” James said. He leaned in close enough to steal a kiss. An agonized smile crept onto his face. “To protect you.”

A fate worse than death…
All of Catherine’s dreams ended with her progenitor’s sacrifice and the loss of her beloved. Surrounded by a scornful family and friendships built upon lies, she’s never felt more alone. The Ringer denies her plea to be an organ donor yet monitors her relentlessly. She is unable to live a life free of the hospital’s control. Her future unravels as disturbing questions arise and hidden lies surface. However, what’s even more troubling than the Ringer’s dangerous secrets are the torturous punishments they deliver to those who defy them.
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Sitting utterly still in front of the piano, Sebastian's dark eyes hinted at dangerous thoughts. He clenched his jaw. Every finger slammed down on the keys, creating a dreadful crashing echo throughout the room. His gaze never left mine as he stood, knocking over the bench. His chest didn't rise or fall as the rest of the world melted away until only he and I existed. When he finally breathed, it came out in a deep sharp exhale.
Desire paralyzed me. He walked haltingly across the room. His slow, calculated movements warned me that he was going out of his mind. The deranged look in his eyes stole the air from my lungs. Blinking wasn't an option. When he got within touching distance, he ran his hand through his hair.
Finally, he managed to speak, "If you keep looking at me like that I'll bloody—"
"Lose control," I finished for him while making my demand clear.
He closed his eyes as he dragged his fingers through the cowlick over his eyebrow. My impatience nearly drove me into his arms, but he opened his eyes seconds before I gave in. Taking the slightest step forward, he smirked, clearly enjoying the sight of me struggling. He leaned over me, his face close enough to kiss me. Instead he exhaled ever so slightly while a moan grew in his throat. It hit my neck, trickled down my chest, and stole my breath. Our bodies never touched. Every muscle flexed like it was painful for him not to wrap me in his arms.
I dug my fingernails into my palms as he tucked back a strand of my hair, careful not to touch my skin. I bit my lip as the warmth radiated off his hand. His mesmerizing blue eyes never looked as stunning—or consuming—as when he was frantic. Finally he slid his hand around the base of my neck and held me there. He teased me within an inch of my sanity. I hadn't even noticed his other hand venturing behind my back until he tightened his grip around my waist.
His lips barely grazed mine, but before he indulged in a kiss, he whispered hoarsely. "One day you'll admit the ironclad notion that I've already accepted."
"What am I in denial about?" I questioned.
"How much your soul yearns for mineI liI ," he said, and gently bit my lip.
Staring at my hands, I played the memory over and over. At the time it hadn't seemed like a turning point in our relationship. But it was. I'd let him see how frantic the mere sight of him made me, how his music lured me, how his charisma lit a fire in my soul. How his passion seized my heart. He gave me a taste of a life, of a world I never dreamed of yet had craved ever since. Thinking about it now I wished I had allowed myself to simply be with him—without distractions or limitations. Without a death sentence. Time was precious. I thought I'd understood it then.

Author bio:

I specialize in dark, paranormal romance - think "happy ever after" but with a twisted, dark chocolate center. Real-life romance isn't only filled with hugs, kisses, bunnies, and rainbows. True-love can be more thoroughly described in times of darkness and tribulation. It's in those harsh moments where you see what a person is truly capable of - both the good and bad. Sometimes prince-charming isn't always on time, and the glass slipper is a little snug. However, it doesn't mean Charming is not Mr. Right, and who says every shoe is the perfect fit?***