Friday, June 29, 2012

Setting the Scene for Blood Guilt by Guest Author Marie Treanor

Hello! Lovely to be here on your intriguingly named blog J. As I come close to the end of my book tour - celebrating the release this month of Blood Guilt, the first of my new Blood Hunters vampire romance series – I realize I’m waiting for something too. My holiday J. In less than a week now, my family and I are leaving the damp and windy coast of Scotland for three weeks under the Turkish sun, and I’m so looking forward to the break, and spending time with my husband and three kids, all together for once!

As you might guess, I love my travels! In fact, I often use them as background – or even inspiration – for my writing. For example, Turkey, which we’ve visited several times now, is the setting for part of Blood Eternal, the finale of the Awakened by Blood trilogy – which is a prequel series to my new book, Blood Guilt.
Blood Guilt opens in Scotland, moves to Hungary and closes in Malta. Why? It’s a vampire romance - isn’t the paranormal world exotic enough??

Well, not for me J. I like to contrast my fantasy with reality, and for me, in this particular world, ancient and gothic settings work best. I have been to all three countries, and all have made a profound impression on me in very different ways.

At first glance, you might think there’s no reason to choose Scotland – there are, sadly, no wild, kilted Highlanders running through this story! – except that I was born there! It’s second nature for me to write about Scottish characters and/or Scottish settings, and in the Awakened by Blood trilogy, my heroine Elizabeth is a Scottish academic. It’s also established in the earlier books that Maximilian, the vampire hero of Blood Guilt, isolates himself on an unknown Scottish island.

So, in Blood Guilt, Mihaela, my Romanian heroine, is staying in Elizabeth’s flat to get away from her problems in eastern Europe. She chases vampires through the dark, narrow streets of Edinburgh’s atmospheric old town, where once Victorian body snatchers Burke and Hare, and infamous murderer Deacon Brodie committed their crimes. Trust me, it’s a natural setting for vampires J. As is the cathedral ruin in St. Andrews and the damp, misty west coast island where Mihaela beards Maximilian in his lair and gets rather more than she bargained for.

So, why then move things to Budapest? Well, again this is partly the fault of the previous story told in the Awakened by Blood books. Budapest is the location of the headquarters of the east European vampire hunters. And being a traditionalist, I made this region the most densely populated with vampires, making up the most powerful undead community in the world. Back at the beginning of Blood on Silk, I had Elizabeth waken Saloman in an isolated Romanian village, but Budapest is the biggest city in the region, where the vampires congregate for the biggest choice of human blood.

Again, I chose Budapest because I’d been there. Many years ago, now, but it made a wonderful impression on me as a place of great beauty and contrasts. It has an appealing amount of Gothic charm, including a huge castle on the hill, plus all the vibrancy of a big city, and a long, varied history celebrated in various large squares and monuments. It’s also an incredibly picturesque city, perched on either side of the River Danube – although with its fair share of ugly high-rise flats in the suburbs. It seemed a perfect setting for my vampire overlord to make his power base, and for my hunters to run their organization.

Then, on to Malta for the story’s climax. Why? Well, I wanted somewhere in the middle of the Mediterranean and – guess what? I’d been there J – twice. Malta is another fascinating place: a group of three small islands closer to Africa than Europe and historically of huge strategic importance. Everyone and his father seems to have invaded the islands at one time or another and the influence of all these cultures has left a wonderful mix. The island of Malta itself has the most spectacular harbour you will ever see, guarded by fortresses built originally in the sixteenth century to protect the island from Turkish invasion. My family and I stayed in the same Valetta hotel where Mihaela and Maximilian stay in Blood Guilt. The view is so beautiful it could make you cry; and it was amazing to watch huge cruise liners sail into the harbour almost as if they were gliding up the street outside our window.

The final fight scene of Blood Guilt takes place among the ruins of a prehistoric temple. The islands have several of these, but I chose Ggantija on the second biggest island of Gozo. It’s an amazing place, eerie and ancient – older even than the more famous Stonehenge in England - with panoramic views around the island. The stones – of vital importance to the story of Blood Guilt - seemed to me to exude a mixture of peace and threat and a magic long lost to humanity. In other words, this was the perfect place for my evil vampires to work their terrible enchantments and be opposed by my hero and heroine.

So, these are the main settings for Blood Guilt, which I chose from a mixture of familiarity and fascination, a sense of what was fitting and of what had gone before in my story. I hope I’ve managed to convey some of my love of these places to you. Have you ever been there? If not, which would you most like to visit?
For myself, I’m counting the days until Turkey J.

About the Author:

Marie Treanor lives in Scotland with her eccentric husband and three much-too-smart children. Having grown bored with city life, she resides these days in a picturesque village by the sea where she is lucky enough to enjoy herself avoiding housework and writing sensual stories of paranormal romance and fantasy.

Marie Treanor has published more than twenty ebooks with small presses, (Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, Changeling Press and The Wild Rose Press), including a former Kindle bestseller, Killing Joe. Blood on Silk: an Awakened by Blood novel, was her New York debut with NAL.


Blog: Marie Treanor's Romantic Theme Party:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Orphan, the Soulcatcher, and the Black Blizzard

Synopsis:  Most of his life, Charlie Reese has been surrounded by a loving family and all the comforts of home. But when a house fire claims them, he and his cousin, Jimmy are sent to an orphanage in the heart of ‘Depression Era’ Chicago. A year later, Charlie’s life is shaken by yet another tragedy and with it comes the mysterious introduction of a secretive runaway, named Bartholomew. As Charlie begins to discover more about his new companion, he unknowingly becomes a participant in a two-hundred year old secret. Come the morning of the Black Blizzard, Charlie finds he must make a choice - flee the destiny laden at his feet or take on his responsibility and follow a path full of supernatural wonders.

Review:  This story is different in nature than other books out there right now.  It's not about vampires, werewolves or faeries.  It also takes place in Depression Era Chicago.  I really enjoy books taking place in historic settings.  I really liked the character of Bartholomew.  The characters have a lot of depth and realism.  You get drawn into their story and feel what they feel.  The story is a magical adventure that is fun for younger readers as well as adults.  I definitely can't wait to read the next book in the series.

How to Make Your Characters Believable by Guest Author Nadia Scrieva

Fathoms of Forgiveness

To truly lift a two-dimensional depiction off the page and give it flesh in the mind’s eye, you will simply need magic. Sacrificing the farm’s prized pig to pagan gods is always a safe bet, but if you don’t have any innocent chubby animals lying around, you will instead need to pay utmost attention to detail.

Both your character’s physical carriage and spiritual demeanor need to be perfectly vivid in your own mind before another can believe they exist. You must spend endless hours dwelling in the psyche of your character as you write their dialogue and actions. Be them for a moment, and see what happens: do you find yourself hunching your shoulders forward shyly and using your hair to cover your face? Or are you clenching your fists until your nails dig into your palms? All of this is important. You can describe the character’s coyness or rage through showing its physical representation—pay attention to the specifics. Are you glancing furtively around the room through unkempt strands? Does your character have stringy, greasy hair from recent battles and distress? Are there little half-moon imprints on your palms from the force of your grip? Are your character’s nails long and manicured or stubby and broken?

Although the situation at hand might be much larger than fingernails or hair, these are human visuals that can help to connect the reader with the action. If you are writing scenes of suspense or horror, the essential element is not the environment but the lucidity and consistency of the character’s reaction to the stimulus. If your character feels nausea, your reader will experience the nausea through imagination. Many of my readers tell me that they often skip extensive descriptions of surroundings to get back to the character’s dilemma.

People read for a human connection. Going the extra mile to create intensity of sensation causes a deep bond to form between your reader and your character—like any two people going through a difficult situation together, it may cause them to grow closer and become friends. For if your character is real enough your reader will grow to see that person as either an extension of their own self or a close friend.

Much like children, you can guide the general upbringing of your creations, but they will often choose their own path. You might want to remember that just because a character is believable doesn’t mean your readers will consider him or her likeable! You will have to decide which is more important—it is realistic for readers to have feelings of extreme fondness and extreme distaste for the people you’ve created, regardless of your intentions.

If you treat your characters with the love and attention you would give to your own children, your readers will surely grow attached to them!

-Nadia Scrieva

About Nadia:
Nadia Scrieva was born in 1988 in Toronto, Canada. She studied English and Anthropology, graduating with a B.A. from the University of Toronto in 2011. Writing has been the most meaningful part of her life since she was a child. She was employed as a model for several years, and she has a fondness for knives. Nadia loves receiving feedback from readers, so do not hesitate to contact her with any of your comments, questions, ideas, or just to say hello.
You can visit her at
nadia scrieva

What’s in a Name? by Guest Author Kimberlee Ann Bastian

Author Kimberlee Ann Bastian has stopped by my blog today with a guest post for her blog tour. Check it out!

What’s in a Name?
By: Kimberlee Ann Bastian

A friend of mine asked me once what my favorite thing about writing is. It did not take me long to answer, because it was right there on the tip of my tongue. I told her, I like to name things. When naming my characters I savored the process until I found the right name. Some of them, like Bartholomew were named for a specific reason, where as someone like Father Damek Van Lewen or Grocer Sylvester Pawlak were given their names based on their national origin, while others were named after people I personally know. Of all the names, The Orphan, the Soulcatcher and the Black Blizzard, there are eight personal names.

Hanna (The Orphanage Assistant Caretaker) – Named after one of my swimmers on the swim team I coach. She is quite the bookworm and is always coming to practice talking about the latest book she read or asking me how writing is going. In earlier drafts, Hanna only identified by the peach day dress she wares, but as the story evolved so too did Hanna’s role in it.

Cletus Reese (Charlie’s Father) – Named after my great uncle Cletus on my dad’s side, Cletus Bastian, who was a real jokester back in the day. My dad told me stories about how he would go help on his uncle’s farm whether it was to bale hay, feed the cows, or carry milk.

Gert Reese (Charlie's Uncle) – Named after my late grandfather Gert "Bud" Ulrich, my mother’s father was a rather stoic man from what I can remember of my younger days. Grandpa Bud was born in 1926, so in 1934, he was eight, the same age roughly as Jimmy Reese is in the story. His parents John and Marie Ulrich owned a farm near Klossner, MN and had seven kids: Walter, Werner, Chester, Myrtle, Frances (Daisy), Johnny & Gert (Bud) being the baby.

Mrs. Hamerski – Named after my late next-door neighbor, Ceil Hamerski, who was just as much as a grandmother to me and my brother growing up as our blood grandparents. She was tall woman with deep roots in her Polish heritage. She loved to work in her garden, always had candy in her candy dish and hated it when we were cut through her back yard to get home.

Sister Margaret – Named after my late Great-Grandmother Bastian. She wasn't a nun, but the Bastian side of my family has deep devotional roots and two of her daughters at one point in their lives were nuns. It really only seemed fitting to call the Sister Margaret.

Mr. Herdina (The Barber) – Named after a family friend, Mrs. Herdina, who has cut my family's hair for as long as I can remember. This character was always loosely a part of the story, but in the final draft the barber was given a name to round out the scene.

Ziemba (The Speakeasy) – Named after my best friend's mother's maiden name. It only seemed appropriate that I use it as her family did once live in the Back of the Yards of Chicago. Side Note: They did not own a speakeasy.

Miss Schwarman (The Orphanage Warden) – Named after my mother’s 4-H leader back in the day who was a mean old bird. She was a traditionalist in the biggest sense of the word. She thought girls should wear white gloves and act properly like ladies. When my mom told me the story about how she was punished for forgetting her gloves one day, I knew Charlie’s warden could go by no other name.

Author’s Links:


Facebook Fan Page

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Drowning Mermaids by Nadia Scrieva

Fathoms of Forgiveness

Synopsis:  Deep under Arctic waters lies an ice kingdom carved into a glacier. Those who dwell within it possess magnificent biological secrets. Due to the dangers of impending war, the Princess of Adlivun is forced to flee her undersea utopia and regroup with her sisters in Alaska.
Captain Trevain Murphy is a successful king crab fisherman who has spent his life building his empire above the sea, and knows nothing of the empire beneath it. When he meets a mysterious dancer whose father has just died, he extends kindness towards her, unaware of her unique genetics and royal lineage.
Trevain’s attraction to the enigmatic Aazuria Vellamo will involve him in dangerous designs that will forever change his life, and his perspective on himself and his world. He embarks on perilous journeys in which he will need to release all of his insecurities and inhibitions in order to survive.
Review:  I really enjoyed that Drowning Mermaids isn't just another siren story - but looks at Mermaids in a more environmental/scientific kind of way.  I liked Nadia Scrieva's writing style and the pace of the story.  I enjoyed the mermaid characters and the attention to details the author uses to describe the mermaids' underwater home.  I found it interesting for once that the female in the relationship was the older one (as opposed to male vampires over 100 years old going after teenage females).  I didn't like that Trevain was violent towards Aazuria - I don't condone violence against women in anyway.  I did enjoy the book and will be looking to get the second in the series when it comes out.  Check back tomorrow for a guest post by the author.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Choices AND Secrets by Liz Schulte

Secrets (Guardian Trilogy #1)

Synopsis:  While Olivia Martin observed life through her camera, the abyss gazed back at her. She discovers mysterious men follow her around, people close to her are dying, and her dreams are no longer her own as she falls head over heels for a perfect stranger. A chance encounter leads to an obsession that could destroy everything she has ever known or loved. Olivia is about to find out there is a lot she doesn't know and sometimes what you don't know can kill you.

Review:  I really enjoyed Secrets  by Liz Schulte.  Olivia Martin is a genuinely good person - the kind of person that we all wish we could be.  She is a photographer and is excellent at reading people.  She meets Holden the yin to her yang - as dark as she is light as bad as she is good.  Though you can tell he is a dark character, he is very intriguing.  The paranormal aspect is different than the usual.  I enjoy reading books that have to do with dreams, and this one did so in a very interesting way.  I was really looking forward to book 2 which I review below.
Choices (Guardian Trilogy #2)

Synopsis:  Olivia Martin’s afterlife was more dangerous and confusing than her life ever was. She thought she was ready to come back, to forget about Holden and to let go of the rage consuming her. Fulfilling her destiny as a guardian was all that mattered—the past could stay hidden in the crevices of her mind. However, when guardians are murdered and the evidence points towards jinn, she has to do something. To save anyone’s future, Olivia will have to confront the one person from her past she is terrified to see.

Holden waited for Olivia with the hope he would see her one more time. But when she didn’t return, he found salvation in darkness. The black and twisted road made it easier to forget what he lost than to live with the memory of what he had. An unexpected promotion shoves him into a world of intoxicating power and influence. Holden will have to choose between his new life and the woman he thought was gone forever. 

From the ashes of Secrets, Choices are born that will change everything.

Review:  Choices picks up where Secrets left off.  Holden has been waiting for Olivia to come back, and hoping she will come back to him.  Olivia thinks Holden betrayed her.  Meanwhile, Olivia's mentor, Quintus, has fallen for Olivia - complicating things more.  Olivia has to come to grips with her feelings for Holden - a demonic jinn - while at the same time being trained as a Guardian - working for heaven.  

Liz Schulte captures the emotions of her characters.  She really has me rooting for Holden - even though he is "bad."  It was great to see Olivia grow further and start to realize her potential.  I cannot wait to read book 3 to see how the story ends.

About Liz Schulte:
Many authors claim to have known their calling from a young age. Liz Schulte, however, didn't always want to be an author. In fact, she had no clue. Liz wanted to be a veterinarian, then she wanted to be a lawyer, then she wanted to be a criminal profiler. In a valiant effort to keep from becoming Walter Mitty, Liz put pen to paper and began writing her first novel. It was at that moment she realized this is what she was meant to do. As a scribe she could be all of those things and so much more.

When Liz isn’t writing or on social networks she is inflicting movie quotes and trivia on people, reading, traveling, and hanging out with friends and family. Liz is a Midwest girl through and through, though she would be perfectly happy never having to shovel her driveway again. She has a love for all things spooky, supernatural, and snarky. Her favorite authors range from Edgar Allen Poe to Joseph Heller to Jane Austen to Jim Butcher and everything in between.

Liz would love to hear from you and what you thought of Dark Corners.

Please stop by and visit at any of the below mentioned networks:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Excerpt of MOA by Tricia Stewart

Please enjoy this excerpt from Moa, a paranormal YA novel with a literary bent by Tricia Stewart Shiu. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $6000 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, 5 autographed copies of Moa, and 5 autographed copies of its sequel, Statue of Ku.  

 Eighteen-year-old, Hillary Hause’s left thumb searches frantically to turn on the “I’m Okay to Fly” hypnotherapy recording. Her nerves on edge, fuchsia fingernails press into the blue pleather armrests of her airplane seat.

 “No spells can help you now,” she whispers to herself under her breath—then checks to see if anyone notices. Nope, they don’t.

 The plane lifts through the early morning, gray fog of California, “June Gloom” giving way to the azure sky, and Hillary covers her curly brown head and retreats beneath the questionably clean plane blanket cranking the volume to drown out the drone of the engines.

 “Outer shell close to breaking.” This time she doesn’t care if anyone hears.

 I hover just beyond her “outer shell”—a movement in the periphery, a faintly familiar scent, a fond memory just beyond recognition, a non-human observer. Before the week is up, Hillary will save my life, as I will hers. But, for now, more about Hillary.

 The drink cart rolls past the blanket, which has, by now become a moist steamy cave.  

 “Hey, freak. I hope your plane crashes.” The memory reverberates through her brain despite her attempts to distract herself with the hypnotherapy recording. She increases the volume, but the ugly conversation, which occurred just before school ended, still haunts her mind.

“I guess the only people they check on those flights are the suspicious ones,” Krystal Sykes, a bully from her home room, leans in as Hillary hastens to grab books for her next class. Krystal, also a senior, has hounded Hillary since the first day of freshman year and this is the final day during the final hour at this tiny high school of 376 students —where everyone knows everyone else’s business.

 “Look, Krystal.” Hillary turns her eyes toward the sneering blonde. “It’s the last day of school, we’ll never see each other again. Can you give it a rest?” These are the most words the two young women have exchanged in the entire four years of high school.

 A look of shock replaces Krystal’s smug snick, “Oh, so now you talk.” She leans in, so close that her spray tan becomes a patchy Impressionist painting. Her pores are blotched with cakey, two shades too dark powder, her unblended cream eyeshadow creases across the center of her lid and her tropical breeze flavored breath threatens to strangle the words right out of Hillary.

 “I know all about your witchcraft practices and have made a few spells of my own. Trust me. You’ll never make it to your sister’s house in Hawaii.” Krystal’s backpack jingles and Hillary watches her spin around and skip down the hall.  

 Hillary is not a witch. She has, however, carefully crafted a “shell” to protect herself from bullies like Krystal—who, as far as Hillary can tell—is not a witch either. She has watched Krystal throughout elementary, middle and high school and has not been able to discern whether or not she practices witchcraft. No matter what Krystal’s background, her intent is to harm. And there is nothing worse than a spell with an aim to hurt. Hillary has had no choice but to remain in a constant state of defensiveness.

The twenty-minute recording ends and Hillary falls into a troubled sleep—feeling every bump and hearing every creak of the plane.

 With about an hour left in the flight, Hillary awakens with a “turtle headache.” Hillary’s older sister Molly taught her this term which means a headache caused by sleeping too long underneath the covers of one’s bed.

Sadly, Molly lost her husband, Steve, last year in an unfortunate surfing accident. The throbbing pain in Hillary’s left temple could be the result of remaining submerged beneath an airplane blanket and wedged between the window and armrest, or it could be from worry about how Molly and her niece, Heidi are dealing with their devastating loss.

Disoriented, Hillary pokes her head out just in time to glimpse puffy clouds and sparkling sea below. A flood of excitement and sheer wonder flows through Hillary in the form of a tingle from her head to her toes. And then, a lovely thought:  “...And for an Everlasting Roof, The Gambrels of the Sky...” She will enjoy this plane ride, thanks in part to Emily Dickinson.
   As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Moa and Statue of Ku eBook editions have both been dropped to just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing either of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $600 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of each book. All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win! To win the prizes:
  1. Purchase your copies of Moa and Statue of Kufor just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event
About Moa: Eighteen-year-old, Hillary, anticipates adventure as she embarks for trip to Honolulu, but gets more than she bargained for when Moa, an ancient Hawaiian spirit, pays her an unexpected visit. Get it on Amazon. About Statue of Ku:  The second book in the Moa Book Series, "The Statue of Ku" follows Hillary and Moa as they jet to Egypt on the Prince’s private plane to reclaim Moa’s family heirloom, the inimitable statue of Ku. Get it on Amazon. About the author: Tricia Stewart Shiu combines her addiction to the written word with her avid interest in the healing arts and all things metaphysical in her novels Moa and Statue of Ku and looks forward to finding new ways to unite her two loves. Visit Tricia on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

RABT: Host Blog Hop: My Favorites

Reading Addiction Blog Tours

My Favorite Tour so far was:
Sophie Davis' Talented

Synopsis:  If you always knew what people were really thinking, would you consider it a gift or a curse?

Talia Lyons is Talented. Born after a nuclear spill, she is part of a new generation that possesses special abilities; Talia can read the minds of others and manipulate their thoughts. Whether Morphers, Light Manipulators or Telekinetics, the Talented are taught to control their abilities under the protective eye of the government- to use their Talents for good. But all Talia wants is revenge.

Talia joins the Hunters, an elite group of government operatives, hoping to one day kill Ian Crane - the man who ordered the execution of her parents. Ever since she witnessed their brutal deaths, Talia has spent her life honing her abilities, determined to settle the score. But she still has a lot to learn before she can ease the pain inside. Talia turns to a boy who can mimic her Talents, a boy who truly understands her inner turmoil. But even he can’t help Talia, when she’s forced to choose between saving herself and avenging the lives of her parents.

Talented is an action-packed adventure, about a group of teenagers who aren't afraid to embrace their fears and fight for what they believe in.

I loved this dystopian book about young people with superpowers as a result of a nuclear spill.  The writing was excellent and I loved Talia.  She is a kick butt female character.

You can see my review HERE.

Connecting with Readers by Guest Author Heather Huffman

Between blog tours and appearances, the act of connecting with readers has come up a lot. It gets a quick mention as one of my favorite aspects of being a writer, but the discussion seldom goes farther. So I want to take some time with this post to talk about some of my favorite people: readers.

I knew going into this writing gig that I would be nothing without my readers – what I wasn’t expecting was the chance to meet so many amazing people. The people I interact with daily online have come to be my friends, and I’m forever thankful for the chance to be even a small part of their lives. Every day, I’m overwhelmed by their acts of kindness. I never tire of hearing their stories.

It was my readers that first introduced me to groups like Project Liberty and The Covering House, groups I believe are making a real difference in the fight against human trafficking. My readers got me through some dark valleys in my own life by sharing their stories and telling me how my stories impacted their lives. It never fails that about the time I get wholly discouraged, I get an email from a reader who brightens my day and gives me the boost I need to keep moving forward.

Every well-thought out review and every reader who tells their friends about my books is more appreciated than words could ever express. I could spend a thousand hours marketing and it wouldn’t have the weight of one reader’s honest opinion. As a writer and as a person, there are few things as gratifying as realizing you’ve made a connection with someone.

In short, my readers are one of the main reasons I continue to write. As long as there are stories in my head waiting to be told and readers who want to hear them, I’ll keep putting finger to keyboard, and I’ll keep being thankful for my amazing readers.

About Heather

Heather Huffman writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense with strong female leads who refuse to lose hope. She sees her books as a way to not only entertain, but also to raise awareness of the realities of modern day slavery. She shares the passion of her resilient heroines to make a difference and so dedicates both her time and a portion of her book royalties to organizations that fight against human trafficking.

Heather was born and spent her early childhood in Florida, but now calls the beautiful state of Missouri home. Her greatest joy, aside from writing, is to hit the road with her three boys for adventures unknown.

She is the author of Throwaway, Ties that Bind, Jailbird, Suddenly a Spy, Ring of Fire, Tumbleweed and Devil in Disguise. You can find out more about her writing and charitable work on

About Jailbird - Heather's newest release:
A paradoxical blend of light and dark, Jailbird is a warm and humorous tale about the power of hope. Neena Allen has led a tough life. Born on the reservation, raped and unjustly convicted of murdering her attacker, she survives prison - barely. When an opportunity presents itself, she doesn't hesitate to escape. Presumed dead, she stumbles into a sleepy Arkansas town where she finds refuge with a kind family and glimpses the chance for a real home, a place to belong. But leading a double life isn't easy, especially when you fall in love with the town lawyer. To complicate matters further, a tenacious reporter gets too close to the truth and Neena finds herself on the run again. With a manhunt under way and her newfound happiness at risk, Neena is forced to face the painful memories of her past to decide on her future. Should she fight for her new life or give up those she loves to keep them safe?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

How I Got Started Writing & My Best Advice to New Writers by Guest Author K.L. Brady

Author K.L. Brady has stopped by today for the Soul Of The Band Blog Tour with a guest post!

I've been writing since I was about 7 years old. I used to keep diaries, you know the ones with the locks on them. I still keep journals to this day. I always knew I wanted to write but didn't know I wanted to be an author/novelist until very late in life. Once the bug hit, I couldn't stop. Literally. I have all these characters in my head who want out and I have to give them to my notebooks to find peace. I wrote my first book, The Bum Magnet (for adults), in just four months and I was ready for the big time (ha!!). Of course, I wanted what every author wants, you know. I wanted a six-figure multi-book deal. I wanted to be on Oprah and to make my rounds on the morning show circuit. I wanted to blow kisses to my beloved fans. All that stuff. But let me tell you, the publishing industry is nothing if not a sharp dose of stark reality for most authors.

After querying my book to literary agents all over the country and getting rejection after rejection after rejection, doubting myself and my writing ability, listening to people tell me, “You need to put this book in a drawer and start the next one,” I had a come-to-Jesus moment and I had to decide who was I writing for. Was I writing for the publishing industry? Was I writing for other authors? Or was I writing because I loved writing and had a story to share?

I realized I was writing because I love writing and telling stories and making people laugh. I do feel that was God’s plan for me. So, darn the book deal. I decided to publish my book myself. And if ONE reader’s day was brightened or if they were moved by this story, that would mean I was fulfilling my purpose and God’s purpose for my writing, and that has been my focus ever since. My first novel, first self published by yours truly, was acquired by Simon & Schuster in a two-book deal--my first published in 2011 and the second in 2012.

I didn't have as much luck with my young adult novels. An editor first suggested that I try YA and I thought why not? I have tons of stories teens could relate to. My first one, Worst Impressions, was a hilarious retelling of Pride & Prejudice with urban (or really suburban) teens. My only real reason for writing the book is that I love Jane Austen, particularly Pride & Prejudice (one of my favorite books EVER), and I wanted to introduce teens to her in a way that they wouldn't think she was a fuddy duddy old English lady who wrote stories they couldn't relate to. P&P is a very human story filled with situations and emotions people still experience today to some degree--even urban teens. My agent sent that out to some publishing houses and it didn't get picked up so I knew what to do--I published them on my own. So far, it's been getting a lot of great reviews. Jane Austen "snobs" (of which I consider myself one) are usually the harshest critics but it wasn't meant for them. It's meant for teens who've never read P&P in hopes that they will find interest. It's available in paperback and is currently free on all ebook formats. It will be a 3-book series.

Since I was so "successful" with Worst Impressions another story came to me and I decided to write it as a tribute to my mom and aunt, both of whom have passed away. Based on true events but fictionalized to protect the innocent and the guilty :), Soul of the Band deals with a topic that is often ignored in the African-American community--mental illness. We're kind of like Vegas in that what happens in the family, stays in the family. I wanted to address not only the issue of mental illness, but how teens can and do cope with and overcome the ill effects in their lives. The story is meant to entertain, help teens laugh through their pain, and also to tell a compelling, real, story especially for those who have adversities to overcome in their lives. What now looks like a mountain to climb will become a molehill as you grow and slowly put your past behind you. It doesn't have to define your present or dictate your future--you can make the choice, at any point, to change course.

If I could give writers just ONE single piece of advice it would be this: Write your truth! Don't write for trends or to get "sold," because readers can be finicky beings. They may love a genre one minute and despise it the next (can we say chick lit)? But if you write stories that matter to you and that express some version of yourself, you will connect with an audience because honesty in literature never goes out of style. If you can add some humor, even better.

Since I can give more than one piece of advice here is my last: Just write! Stop worrying about outlines and editing and finding a publishing company who will put you on Oprah. No, write your book! The hardest thing about writing your first book will be finishing. No question. After that, editing will suck too. But whatever you do, make sure you have a finished product FIRST! :)

If you'd like to get in touch with me to find out more about my novels, please visit my website at My YA novels can be found on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. My adult novels The Bum Magnet & Got a Right to Be Wrong (both hilarious chick lit titles for 18+) can be found wherever books are sold. Also please visit me on Facebook at KL-Brady and on Twitter @KarlaB27. I always respond to readers inquiries and stalk my book titles on Twitter, so if you mention me, I'll find you.

Thanks so much for having me!  

  Author Links:

Friday, June 22, 2012

Patchwork of Me by Gregory Allen

Synopsis:  A product of the foster care system, Sara Butler spends her early thirties hiding from her past while striving for a normal life with her small group of quirky friends in Arizona. Seeking treatment for an invisible rash and abnormal dreams, her therapist helps her unlock a heinous past that she is unsure she wants to open. To patch her life back together, she realizes she must travel across country to Maine to confront that past in order to plan for a future.

Review:  Thirty-three year old Sara Butler, who lives in Arizona (where I live), is a product of the New Mexico foster system.  Sara is having weird dreams, and is lying to her therapist.  After having her palm read she decides to be forthright with her therapist.  As she struggles to uncover a past she has buried deep, she travels to Maine with her best friends - Matty is my favorite - to face her past.

Gregory Allen weaves a story that draws you in and makes you feel strongly for the story and the characters.  The book was a page turner - and I read it in a day and a half.  I loved the writing style and the emotions portrayed.  This was my first book by Gregory Allen but if this book is any indication of what his other stories are like, i will be looking for more.

Summer Escapes by Guest Author Gregory Allen

People see these few months we get each year as a time to escape our usual daily lives and go on a vacation. They plan (sometimes for months) exactly where they want to go to create the best possible holiday/vacation they can. I’ll admit I’m always jealous of my friends that teach and get those months off. They will fight with me about how hard they work during the other months and they deserve to escape their classrooms; but secretly I am jealous I can’t spend every summer day in front of the television or immersed in a good book. But the rest of us must be happy with that one week we may get away or a long weekend to go to the beach.

Escapes don’t need to be held for those warm months when people like to shed their clothes and bake in the sun. There are so many ways one can turn off the daily routine and do something different throughout the year.

Watch a good movie. Turn off that phone, put in the latest DVD of a movie you missed when it was released and allow yourself to forget the world for a moment. Or actually get out of your house and go sit in that large dark room that smells of popcorn and be swept away by the latest blockbuster (or better yet – an indie film by an unknown filmmaker). Just do remember that silence is golden so for the sake of all: cell phones off!

Let yourself travel in a book. There is nothing like turning your back on the laundry piling up or the dishes in the sink to be transported somewhere else by the words of a well-loved author. Our minds are the best escape we have. We paint the pictures. We set the scene. We cast the characters. And we get to enjoy the moments inside those pages (or on your favorite digital reader) when it is just us and the book. Now more than ever, there are so many choices for excellent books out there. I personally love to discover a new author (thank God for social media sites) and try them out. See where they’ll take me and just let myself take a personal vacation for a few hours.

Live theater. I absolutely love it. I realize I have the luxury of living near New York and can get to a Broadway show (always with discounted seats, I might add), but that doesn’t mean others can’t do the same. Look in your local papers to see what the community theater in town is presenting. Or the high school. Or a touring company of a show. There is nothing like watching people perform live as you never know what may happen. And as you sense the audience around you and you all collective enjoy the experience, the escape you can get from it is well worth the price of admission.

So don’t always long for the good ol’ days of summer. Plan those escapes throughout the year so you allow yourself more chances to ‘get away’. 

Ordained by Devon Ashley

Synopsis:  Normally, the school creates the hunters - not the monsters.

Abby Sorrensten likes to play rough. Ripping the horns off the foreheads of demons, manipulating lightning and setting things on fire with the flick of your wrist can give you a serious rush. So she probably wasn’t the best choice for the Order’s experimental training program. Thirteen years of isolation, lack of affection and a bruised and broken body from horrendous training sessions creates more than just an exceptional fighter. It creates an evil within - an evil responsible for several deaths the night she left.

Two hundred years later Abby resurfaces as the very thing the Order trained her to kill: a vampire. A mythical demon has set his sights on the school and only the ordained hunter has the powers to face it. Unbeknownst to the Order, Abby’s their precious ordained one and their only chance for survival. As much as she would love to leave them hanging, she’s not willing to risk the life of Emily, a fellow friend and hunter also fed up with the organization. 

But for Abby, locking herself away in a fortress with angry descendents of those she killed causes suspicions and tensions to run high. Abby must learn the demon’s weaknesses for battle before the Order learns hers.

Review:  Ordained is the first book in the new Immortal Archives series by Devon Ashley.  The lead character, Abby, loses her mother tragically, and is then raised by the Order.  They train her to be a huntress, but also use her in experimental training - training that breaks her, and opening her up to an inner evil.  Abby is a bad-ass character who is gritty, and hard-core.  She doesn't take crap from anyone.  I also enjoyed the secondary characters Emily and Noel - Emily is my favorite character.  She has strength of character and is overall more likable than Abby.

Devon Ashley draws you in and hooks you, starting with the prologue.  I loved reading and learning about Abby's past.  I found Devon Ashley's spin on how vampires come to be, interesting and different from a lot of the other vampire books out there.  The story is intense and very emotional in places.  Ordained is fast paced and action packed.  I cannot wait for the sequel!

Slapstick and Sarcasm by Guest Author Leia Shaw

I wouldn’t call myself a comedy writer, but humor plays a big role in my books. In my life, actually. As a parent of a child with special needs, I often tell people if I wasn’t able to laugh at myself, and sometimes our situation, I’d have slit my wrists a long time ago. Ha ha, just kidding. A little dark humor for ya’. But for me, laughter is that important. It’s even got a healing quality to it. Having a good laugh releases endorphins that give us a bit of a high. Like a natural upper. Many times when I’m feeling down, I’ll say to my husband, “I need a good laugh, do something funny.” To which he blankly stares. Then I roll my eyes and call my best friend.  

So what does this have to do with writing? Well, I think for the upcoming generation of readers, humor is essential – even if you write deep, dark, and serious material. We live in an ADD society. The audience for long, flowery narration like Jane Eyre is, for the most part, dwindling. And new readers are picky. If they hit a dull spot, they put down the book. And if they put it down, it’s very hard to get them to pick it back up. This generation moves fast and they want their books to also. 

Again, where does writing humor fit into this? Well, one of the things I try to do is, when I have to inundate a reader with a long description or a backstory, I make it funny. That way it entertains the reader as well as giving necessary information without hitting a lull. 

Now I’m no expert, and admittedly I didn’t do much (or any) research before writing this post, but in my mind there are several types of humor. Some you’ll be great at, some not. In my opinion, it’s better to use what you got than try to be good at everything. Maybe you already know what suits you best or what comes most naturally to you – if so, awesome and run with it. If not, I’ve listed the types (which I just made up) below along with an example of each. Take a look at what you find most funny then experiment with how to add more of it in your writing. 

And I apologize that all the examples of humor are from my books. Number one, it’s my own material so I don’t have to worry about copyright infringement. And number two, I’m lazy. 

Dry humor: 

Marcelo knew from experience, human women did not like being ordered around by men. His queen had taught him that when she’d tried to kill him only a few months ago. And all because he’d forced her to drink blood and steal the throne from her twisted father. Women were so temperamental. 


“Your ego is legendary. It’s like its own entity. No, really. We should name it.” 

Dark humor: 

“We’re not so different, you and I. You believe your loose morals dictate the right people to kill. I don’t.” With the knife, he cut straight through her shirt. “That’s the only difference between the hunter and the hunted.” 

She rolled her eyes. “Is this how you’re going to torture me? Spewing philosophical bullshit? I prefer the knife.” 

Silly humor: 

“So? You made a good choice for once in your life,” James said. “Good on ya’. What do you want? A cookie?” 

Maddox grunted. “She wants an apology, dumbass.” 

She narrowed her eyes. “Now I want two apologies.” Folding her arms across her chest she added, “And a cookie.” 

Visual humor: 

When he crouched down into a fighter’s stance, he looked like a sexy tiger ready to pounce. When Sage did it, she looked like she was sitting sideways on an invisible toilet. 


“You’re a bossy little thing.” 

“Me bossy? Ha! That’s funny coming from you.” 

“Down here there’s a name for a creature that taunts a bigger one.” 

“What’s that?” 


Pop Culture humor: 

“Thanks for that, boy genius. Where’d you graduate from? Hogwarts School for the Mentally Unbalanced?” 


It had only been six days since she’d frozen in fear when the werewolves had attacked her and Marcelo. What a long way she’d come since then. Now…now she would have faced them with courage instead of cowering behind a man. Her head would be held high, bow in hand, strength down to her feet rooted on the ground. Yes, she was fae. She would never run and hide again. 

Just then a giant snarling ball of muscle, fur, and teeth lunged at her from the trees. Oh, the irony. 

Physical humor: 

The next stall over is decent but cramped. It’ll have to do. I lift my dress and begin the process of liberating my curves from the torture device called Spanx. I grab the waistband and yank. And yank and yank. Down, down my body. At my hips, I reach some resistance. I wriggle them back and forth but the stall is so narrow I knock into the walls. I widen my stance, hovering above the toilet. Balancing on my too small heels proves challenging. I grunt and curse under my breath. Sweat drips down my nose. But I am going to get these damn things off if it’s the last thing I do. 

Taking a more aggressive approach, I shove my hands under the waistband around my hips and pull down as hard as I can. Then I hear a loud rip and freeze. I look down. The lacy red underwear Nick got me is torn through at the side. 

“Shit!” I hiss. “Shit, shit, shit.” 

The sound of a throat clearing comes from the stall next to me. Double shit! Someone walked in between my grunts and thumping about? It probably sounds like I’m giving birth in here. 

Witty humor: 

Uhh…I don’t really specialize in this. I mainly use low brow and crass. 
So. What’s your favorite type of humor to read and to write? Do you have examples you’d like to share? Leave a comment below and we can all laugh at you…er, with you. 

Author Bio:
I began my writing journey while I was stranded at the airport waiting for my delayed flight. I browsed the Border’s kiosk and grew frustrated that I couldn’t find the “it factor” — the perfect combination of alpha male-ness, ass-kickery, strong females, magic, and sex.

So I spent the next four hours on an airplane writing my first book on scraps of paper and an airsick bag (which thankfully I didn't need to use).

Now I spend too much time in my head, plotting evil villains and the hot men (and women) who ruthlessly kill them. I think far too much about fae politics, dragon power games, and how fast werewolves can change forms. But writing my paranormal romance series has given me a productive place to express those dark places in my mind.

I live in New England with my husband and two kids. Though I will go to my grave denying it, my husband insists I would be thrilled if he suddenly sprouted fangs.



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