Monday, July 27, 2015

Katie Cross on Atomic Words podcast

The brilliant Katie Cross joined me for a episode of Atomic Words. Her Network Series is a must-read for fans of all things witchy. The books are fantastic for teen readers. Loads of girl power going on (and nary a boyfriend "rescue" in site).

Here's the description for book one in the series, Miss Mabel's School for Girls:

Never Underestimate the Power of a Determined Witch.
Letum Wood is a forest of fog and deadfall, home to the quietly famous Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, a place where young witches learn the art of magic.
Sixteen-year-old Bianca Monroe has inherited a deadly curse. Determined to break free before it kills her, she enrolls in the respected school to confront the cunning witch who cast the curse: Miss Mabel.  Bianca finds herself faced with dark magic she didn’t expect, with lessons more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. Will Bianca have the courage to save herself from the curse, or will Miss Mabel’s sinister plan be too powerful?
Miss Mabel’s School for Girls is the first novel in The Network Series, an exciting new fantasy collection. A gripping tale about the struggle to survive, it will take you to a new place and time, one you’ll never want to leave.

And Antebellum Awakening:
Never underestimate the power of a volatile witch.
Still reeling in the wake of her mother’s death, sixteen-year-old Bianca Monroe is forced to move to Chatham Castle. Not even the sudden appearance of ancient dragons in haunted Letum Wood nor her two best friends can distract her from the strength of her deep, dark rage.  Her grief puts her magical powers into chaos, endangering any witch around her. She has six months left to destroy the curse that will kill her and fulfill her contract with the most cunning enemy of all: her former teacher Miss Mabel.  Bianca must make a choice: learn to control her restless powers, or let the powers control her.
Antebellum Awakening is the second book in the thrilling new fantasy collection The Network Series. It’s a haunting tale about tragedy, loss, and the power of moving on.

And The Isadora Interviews:

Isadora is a quiet, old witch living alone in the fog-strewn forest of Letum Wood. Her magical power is great, but her foresight is even greater.As a Watcher, Isadora has the ability to see into the heart of every witch she meets, a talent that makes her the perfect guardian of the prestigious Miss Mabel’s School for Girls.Any witch that wants to enter the school must first pass an interview with Isadora. No secret insecurity or sinister motivation can be hidden from a Watcher, as four teenage girls will soon find out.Join Leda, Camille, Michelle, and Priscilla, as they each encounter Isadora in their quest to join Miss Mabel’s School for Girls. It’s a collection of short stories that fans of Miss Mabel’s School for Girls can’t afford to miss.

Head on over and give the podcast a listen!

Katie's in the midst of a blog tour, so can you can enter to win a $30 Visa gift card!

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Book Review: Teresa of the New World (Sharman Apt Russell)

Sharman Apt Russell's striking new book Teresa of the New World is part coming of age tale, part historical fiction, part magical realism. Our heroine is Teresa, the daughter of a Native American mother and a Conquistador father. She has one foot in the old world and one in the new. A series of misfortunes splits her from her family, taking her on several journeys—starting as a young child and continuing through her teen years. 

The book is written in the rich tradition of Native American story-telling. Readers unaccustomed to this style may find the it a bit jarring at first. But go with it. You will be rewarded with a beautiful story—full of rugged South Western American terrain and unusual magic—that has you rooting for Teresa as she battles The Plague. While dystopian in theme, Teresa's inner strength shines through.

Perfect for those who love mystical worlds, coming of age tales, and Native American folklore.

Russell is giving away four (4) signed copies of Teresa of the New World (US) to the winners of the below Rafflecopter.  The giveaway ends July 28th.

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Connect with Sharman online via her website or on Facebook.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Author Interview: Kary Rader (A Taylor Made Love)

Phew! It’s been busy, so I haven’t had a author interview in a while. So I am psyched to end my dry spell with an interview with contemporary romance author Kary Rader! Her book A Taylor Made Life won the 2014 RomCon Reader’s Choice Award. A Taylor Made Love is the second book in that series.

Kary’s Taylor Made series was her way of coping with her husband’s cancer diagnoses, making these books all the more poignant. 

Here's the official blurb for A Taylor Made Love:
Twenty-year-old widow and cancer survivor Taylor Smith-Taylor is running her late husband’s billion-dollar gaming business because she’s made a vow to keep TME—and Gavin’s memory—alive. But she’s falling hard for her sexy attorney Brad Richards, and it’s not just their professional connection that has her tied in knots.When Taylor’s new idea takes off, she relies on Brad to help. Using company funds to back the innovative project, they begin a tumultuous affair and a multi-million dollar negotiation that could dominate the market or put the company in jeopardy.As the corporate dealings escalate, their volatile relationship leaves their priorities more tangled than their bed sheets, and a fatal accounting error divides them, putting the company on the brink of bankruptcy. Brad pushes Taylor to embrace her idea, and him, by selling TME—a decision that, for her, goes deeper than money. When she refuses, it seems easier for both to walk away, and only a perspective from the grave can help her realize her future comes down to one choice: the love she’ll lose or the love she’ll make.
And there is a Rafflecopy giveaway at the end of the post, so scroll down!

Tell me about Taylor Made Love.

Seven years ago while I was pregnant with my youngest child, my husband was diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma cancer. He went through surgery, chemo and was pronounced cancer-free two weeks before my son Brady was born. I never dealt with those emotions I experienced while he was sick. There wasn’t time. But three years ago when a friend's daughter was diagnosed with cancer, all of them came flooding back. As a result, I wrote A Taylor-Made Life. A Taylor-Made Love is the continuation of that story.

What do you love about writing romance?  

The intimacy between the characters. Watching them grow and fall in love with each other, seeing them open their hearts and change their minds is a gratifying experience.

What do you find difficult with the genre?  

Finding new and innovative ways to show how love between two people can grow.

You are writing about a very difficult topic—the C Word—what is it about these really tough topics that appeal to readers? 

Every good writer allows their reader to take a journey with their characters, to feel, experience and live. Love and romance are deep emotions, but it’s in the pain and heart break where a reader can experience depth and truth, and perhaps even healing.

The inspiration for the Taylor Made series came from your brush with cancer? How is your husband feeling now? And your friend? How did going through these experiences inform your writing?  

My experiences and by extension those journeys of the ones I love, were critical to the writing of this series. The story is born from the well of emotions never dealt with, and if you read Chapter 20 of the first book, you will experience those emotions with me and the characters.

My husband is cancer free and has been for seven years. And I’m excited to say that the treatment for melanoma has come a long way since his battle with the disease. Thank you for asking.

Now that Taylor Made Love is released, what is next for you?

I have another emotional Romantic Comedy coming this summer. It’s a full-length romance, titled Killing Casanova and is about an executive assistant addicted to romance novels, her playboy boss and his mother who is dying of cancer.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Only Coffee. (Ed. note: I love that it’s only Coffee and with a capital C! Oh me too, girlfriend!

Where is your favorite place to write?

Either in my bedroom or in the living room next to the window.

What inspires you to write? 

Life, death, music, art, words. Sometimes even the grocery story. Part of my essence is to write, so everything is inspiration.

What 5 books are on your bookshelf right now?

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James
Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers

What do you recommend people see/read/hear?

Read: If you love romance, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers 

Hear: Faith comes by hearing. Listen to the beautiful voice of Amy Noelck.

You can connect with Kary on her website, Twitter or Facebook

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Author Interview: Allie Burke (Nowhere Train)

Malibu is pretty much the last place you’d expect a zombie 
apocalypse to happen, but that’s ground zero in Nowhere Train by Allie Burke.  

Here’s the description: 

Two-years post end-of-the-world, all Jetilyn Fournier wants to do is learn to navigate a world that is no longer her own. Surviving zombies feels easy, though, compared to dealing with her rocky relationship with her best friend, the death of her mother, her sister’s faux happiness, and her father’s sudden desire to speak, after decades of silence. Saving herself is not even something she can fit in at the moment. Enter Devlin Shea: for all intents and purposes, a mortal enemy. Though she should hate him instantly upon contact, she doesn’t, and before she knows it, Jett has another life to save. Told in the surreal prose that Allie Burke has come to be known for, Nowhere Train is the first zombie novel of its kind. At two parts hippie and one part magic, it is as deadly as it is beautiful; as dark as it is hopeful, baring the question in mind: who–and what–are Jett and her family really fighting for?
Allie is hanging out today to tell us all about this kick-ass book.

Tell me about Nowhere Train.

Nowhere Train is the first in a dystopian trilogy about the zombie apocalypse in Malibu Beach, California.

What inspired you to tell Jetilyn’s story?

Jetilyn’s story is very unique because I felt she was caught in between two (or three) worlds. She is the way she is because her family brought her up that way, but she has been exposed to so much through her friendship with Chris that I thought she could tell the story of zombies like no one else could. 

What drew you to writing in the zombie genre?  

I didn’t used to be into zombie fiction, but I’ve had a bit more exposure to it due to my brother being absolutely obsessed with it. My brother is very supportive of my work, so I wanted to write something he would truly enjoy. I really wrote it for him. Beyond that, it’s always my goal to write something that stands out from the genre, and so far, readers have confirmed that is the case with Nowhere Train.

The world you’ve created is divided into factions, The Holies, The Gunners, and The Enders. Can you explain those a bit? What inspired you to create these factions? 

It is really about The Holies versus The Gunners, and both of them versus The Enders. The Holies have adapted a holistic lifestyle wherein they don’t speak (most of the time) and The Gunners believe in living by force, which often involves weapons. The Enders are the zombies. My inspiration to write this series this way derived from my fascination with physical energy and auras.  

Now that Nowhere Train is released, what is next for you?

I’m working on Prius, the sequel (or prequel) to Nowhere Train.

Do you have any writing rituals?

No, I don’t. I’m always writing, no matter where I am or what I’m doing.

Where is your favorite place to write?

In independent coffee shops.

What inspires you to write? 


What 5 books are on your bookshelf right now?

Five books? Haha. I have an entire to-be-read-bookshelf. I’ll tell you what’s on my immediate list, ie what’s in my car and my purse: The Red Queen, First Frost, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, The Untouchables, and Unblocked.

What do you recommend people see/read/hear?

I recommend anything by John Green: books, videos, anything. He is my hero

You can connect with Allie online at her website.  

Friday, May 8, 2015

Kickstarter for When They Come Calling (plus giveaway!)

Atthis Arts is a small independent publisher that uses crowdfunding in its partnership-publishing model to market and pre-sell upcoming titles. With Kickstarter rewards, you can get unique book items that won't be available with the published book. Rewards offered include naming a character in the book, a one-of-a kind hardcover edition containing an illustration of you with the book's protagonist. There is even a reward for self-published authors to get a finished manuscript professionally typeset for print and ebook! Pretty cool stuff, right?

Check out the awesome terrific book trailer/Kickstarter video for their upcoming title, When They Come Calling by author Sarah Fleming Mountford.

When They Come Calling is a modern ghost story, a suspenseful weaving of urban battles, romance, and supernatural intrigue.
Anna is a physician from Kansas City. She’s spent her life giving and caring to others while trying to hide how different she is. Anna has lost everyone she’s ever loved: her relationships, her family, and her hope for something more.
Jed is a warrior from another era, haunted by the horrors of a brutal family feud three thousand years in the making, and inspired by his own secret quest. Relentless and driven, Jed’s determination radiates to everyone around him.

If you pre-order a copy through Kickstarter, you receive a first edition.

Giveaway Time!

Atthis Arts is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card, along with a signed Advanced Reader Copy of Atthis Arts founder E.D.E. Bell's upcoming release, The Banished Craft. A quirky and modern take on dragons and wizards, The Banished Craft follows the adventures of Cor, a woman caught in a dying world that does not accept her, and Atesh, a dragon scientist who’s been asked to violate his own ethics or put the lives of his family at risk. Follow their trials as they deal with a shattered world, mired in political upheaval, while they try to rediscover a lost magic. (signed paperback U.S. only, international winner will receive ebook in epub/mobi format)

Too good to enter just once? Share the Kickstarter video and link, and you will receive 4 additional entries into the giveaway.

Here is the link:, or simply visit the Kickstarter page and click "Share This Project" under the main video and fill out the rafflecopter below!
(Ends May 26)

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This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Author Interview: Kendall Talbot (Treasured Secrets)

Author Kendall Talbot joins us today to talk about her book Treasured Secrets

So, this is not a typical book that I usually promote. Where are the vampires? The ghosts? Zombies?

But, I loved the locations. And I was drawn to the idea that these characters were modern-day treasure hunters searching for riches. Swoon!

Kendall is a Romantic Book of the Year winner, and she totally does her own stunts! (Seriously, read on! Plus there’s a Rafflecopter giveaway at the end!) 

Here’s the description:

Some secrets should remain hidden forever…
The last place Rosalina expected the clue to a 700-year-old mystery to lead her was back into the arms of Archer, the man who broke her heart. When neither can solve the puzzle without the  other, they set off on a new adventure. They’re forced to ignore the sparks that still fly unhindered between them as their search for the golden riches weaves from Tuscany’s underbelly to Archer’s luxurious yacht in the Greek Islands.
Archer desperately wants to salvage his shattered relationship with Rosalina but fighting for her love soon takes a back seat to fighting for their lives. Ruthless competition is hot on their heels and will do anything to get his hands on the treasure. With evil close on their trail, and Archer wrestling with the remnants of a childhood tragedy, Rosalina begins to wonder if some secrets were never meant to be revealed.

This book is such an adventure, taking readers from Tuscany to a yacht off the coast of Greece. Where did you come up with the plot idea?

There were two instances that inspired my Treasured series of books. The first came from a friend of mine. She was dating a guy who wore an unusual necklace and whenever she asked him about it, he refused to elaborate on it. And he never took it off, even when she told him that it nearly knocked her teeth out when they had sex. Of course she became obsessed about it and eventually, after 8 months, he told her it belonged to his previous girlfriend who had died. Not long afterwards they broke up. My character in Treasured Secrets, Archer, wears an unusual gold pendant around his neck that he too refuses to talk about or take off. The story behind the necklace is central to the entire treasure hunt. 
The other inspiration for the story stemmed from my 20th anniversary a trip to Tuscany. We went to a little church in Florence that was very insignificant compared to the other beautiful churches around it. Inside, inlaid in the mosaic floor tiles, was an oval pattern. Our tour guide told us it was the trap door where they threw the bodies during the 13th century plague that killed 50 million people in Europe. My mind went crazy thinking about entire families being wiped out by that horrible disease. Then I began to wonder what happened to all the precious things those families left behind. On the plane flight home, I began plotting my Treasured Secrets action adventure romance.

Do you find it hard to weave the romance into all the action? 
Not at all, love is one of the most incredible emotions to delve into. My stories are full of action and adventure. Especially this series. It was brilliant unveiling clues to a 13th century missing treasure and all the while exploring an emotionally satisfying romantic journey for my hero and heroine. Despite the tumultuous ride, my characters truly do find love.

You’ve traveled extensively and are up for adventure yourself! What locations have inspired you the most as a writer? 
My stories are as much about the location as the thrill of the adventures I’ve done. For example Treasured Secrets is inspired by a couple of wonderful tours we did in Florence and a cruise I did around the Greek Islands. But the scuba diving in my story comes from a diving holiday we did at the Solomon Islands. The shark scenes come from scuba diving at Christmas Island. There are several scenes in Treasured Secrets that were inspired by the Underground Tour we did in Seattle, USA. The helicopter scenes come from my visit to the Grand Canyon. There’s a plot theme in Treasured Lies, book two in this series, that comes from a deserted beach we went to in Brazil. Much of my inspiration for my debut novel, Lost in Kakadu, came from hiking in the Milford Track in New Zealand. And I already have plans to use places I visited in Brazil, Egypt and Russia in my future books. I live to travel and I always have a holiday on the horizon. This year’s holiday is to Mexico, New York and Las Vegas… I wonder what stories they will bring on?

The way you research the books is kind of off the charts! (Witchetty grubs? You are a braver woman than I!) What type of research did you do for Treasured Secrets
I was really lucky with those witchetty grubs as I just happened to find them in my garden. How else was I going to get the texture and flavor right in my scene? I like to draw on my actual experiences to get the details right. Obviously much of my work is pure fabrication, and thank goodness too, some of my characters go to hell and back. Treasured Secrets is as much a treasure hunt as it is a culinary adventure. Rosalina, my Italian heroine in Treasured Secrets is a talented chef, so food and flavors abound as much as the treasure hunt action. Every one of the meals she makes in my books I made for myself. In fact, recipes from “Treasured Secrets” debut in their own book “Rosalina’s Treasured Treats” you can find this on my website and cook along as you read the book if you like. In addition to the cooking, Rosalina’s home in Treasured Secrets is a 700 year old villa that I holiday in in Tuscany. Villa Pandolfini is in Signa, a little village just a fifteen minute train ride from Florence. This spectacular historic villa with extremely high ceilings, magnificent frescoes and original antique furniture was surrounded by vineyards and olive-groves and offered an extensive view of Arno Valley… perfect for a romance set in Tuscany.

What are you working on now? Any new books on the horizon?

I used to daydream about robbing a bank that I worked at in 1992. So guess what? I robbed that bank. In a book of course. Double Take my first crime novel, is a gritty Quinten Tarantino meets Nora Roberts story set in that bank I worked in. I also chose to set the story in 1992 too. It was a time before the internet, mobile phones and electric windows. It was also a time of Cheers, Cagney and Lacey, boom boxes and Carrington Blush champagne. It was so much fun writing in that era.

Also, book two in my Treasured series, Treasured Lies will be out in October 2015 and book three, Treasured Love, will be released April 2016.

Do you have any writing rituals? 
My husband works interstate 3 to 4 nights each week, so that’s my writing time. I don’t watch any television, instead I write about 4 hours each night and usually at least ½ a day on the weekend. I also restrict my social media to 45 minutes each morning and 1 hour each night. The social media aspect of writing can be a real time sap if you’re not careful.

Where is your favorite place to write? 
I love writing by my pool in the afternoons, which overlooks virgin Australian bush. Kookaburras and cockatoos usually give me company. Along with my fluffy little dog, Josie McLuvin. I especially like sitting out there with a glass of wine to get my creative brain flowing.

What inspires you to write? 
The story. Once I get an idea for a story in my head it won’t leave me alone. I dream about it. I think about it constantly, even at work when I’m trying to do my boring bookkeeping job. It’s like I’m possessed and the only way to rid it from my brain is to write about it. My bank robbery stayed in there for 22 years, so when I finally sat down to write it, it took just 3 months.

What 5 books are on your bookshelf right now? 
Cherry Adair - Gideon
J.D Robb - Obsession in Death 
Matthew Reilly - The Great Zoo of China
Mandy Magro - Driftwood
Paula Hawkins - The Girl on the Train

What do you recommend people see/read/hear? I recommend you watch Game of Thrones - twice. The first time because you will get so caught up in it. The second time I recommend really listening to the dialogue and concentrating on how each character ‘owns’ their voice.

Another recommendation is Friends. An oldie but a goodie. Each one of those actors stay so true to their character it’s almost predictable how each one would react in a situation. They have good, strong, unique roles and by watching and analyzing you’ll learn ways to improve your voice.

Grab a copy of Treasured Secrets on Amazon, Booktopia, iTunes, Kobo or Google Play.

Stalk Kendall on the web at her site, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest

Enter for a chance to win an ebook bundle of Treasured Secrets and Rosalina's Treasured Treats, the companion cookbook (yes! cookbook! witchetty grubs!). Ends 5/6

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Book review: Zombie-saurus Rex

Being a teenager is tough as it is. Now imagine you are a zombie. That's the premise of the wildly imaginative young adult novel Zombie-saurusRex by Mark Souza.

Here's the description:

Rex Morton, a seventeen year-old zombie, has arrived in the small farming town of Plain View, Nebraska; just another stop in a long string of small towns left behind in their rear view mirror. Unlike the zombie stereotype, Rex is bright and friendly - as long as he doesn't get hungry. He hopes this time he can manage to stick around long enough to get his diploma. Rex’s fiercely protective mother has strong-armed yet another school district into accepting her son by threatening a discrimination lawsuit. At Plain View High, a dismal pattern of fear, prejudice, and bullying steers Rex down a familiar path toward expulsion. The difference this time is that Rex has fallen for fiery Goth girl, Ariella Klopenstein, the daughter of the Police Chief, and decided he will make his stand in Plain View. As the Z-virus spreads west and the country panics, Rex and Ariella must find a way to overcome Rex’s mother who wants to break them apart and flee town, a school principal who wants Rex expelled, Ariella’s father, the Police Chief, who thinks Rex is dangerous, and a government zombie round-up aimed at solving the zombie problem once and for all. 
Zombie-saurus Rex is a story about perseverance, overcoming prejudice, stereotypes and adversity. What it isn't is a story about dinosaurs. The title is inspired by a nickname a school bully hangs on Rex due to his size, posture, and slow plodding gate. 
Since I am not the target audience, I gave it to my 11 year-old daughter. Here's her 5- star review.
I enjoyed the book very much it kept me interested the whole time. It was a great mix of action and comedy, and the style of the writing wasn't confusing or unclear, which is very good for me. I loved the personality of the characters and how different and interesting they are.
I was kind of bummed that Rex's dad didn't show up somewhere to get Rex and his mom to forgive him.
I was apprehensive to give her this one, because she's still at that anti-romance age (and that cover makes the book look steamier than it actually is).  One of her school assignments is to read 20 minutes a day. Every time she picked up this book, she went well over her 20 minutes. (And no calls from the other room: "Mom, has it been 20 minutes yet?") So although she wasn't terribly verbose with this review, but I know she really loved it.

You can find out more about Mark's really interesting (and not-just-for-kids) books on his website, Tweet at him,  and find him on Facebook.

Mark is hosting an awesome $50 Amazon gift card giveaway. Be sure to enter!
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