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A literary journey through the writings of Michael Young. News, reviews, author interviews, and more.
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1. LDStorymakers Presentations

Thank you to all of you who came to my presentations at LDStorymakers this year. I always have a wonderful time presenting, especially when I have good audiences. For those of you who attended and wanted my notes, or who couldn’t attend and wanted to see them anyway, here you go! There first is about using music in your fiction, while the second is about creating your own audio books, much like I do for my work with BigWorldNetwork.com.

Weaving Threads of Song Presentation

Creating Audio Books

Please let me know if you have any questions!

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2. Mysteries of Cove, book 1: Fires of Invention by J. Scott Savage


Myteries of COVE_coverAuthor Note:

Like many of my books, the inspiration for my new series Fires of Invention came from the collision of two ideas. The first time the story occurred to me was while I was watching the musical Wicked with my wife. The moment I walked into the theater and saw the huge mechanical dragon above the stage, I thought, Wow! I have to write a story about that! A few weeks later, I was talking with my nephew, who is probably the most creative kid I know, but whose inventiveness often gets him into trouble, and I thought, What if a kid who had the talents of my nephew lived in a world where creativity was against the law? What if the kids were building . . . a steam-powered dragon? Bam! I had my story.

Powered by great feedback from my agent, Michael Bourret, my good friend and author James Dashner, my publisher, Chris Schoebinger, and the song “Warriors” by Imagine Dragons, I wrote the entire first draft of the first volume in the series, Mysteries of Cove in four weeks. This book is unlike anything I have ever written. There are elements of City of Ember, Dragon Riders, and Hugo in it all mashed up together in a world I fell in love with from the moment I started writing.

I think what’s most exciting to me about this book is that it’s about giving yourself the freedom to imagine. To take chances. Too often we limit ourselves by only trying things we’re confident we can succeed at when what we need to do is give ourselves permission to fail. Often it is when we attempt things with no idea of how we can possibly pull them off that we achieve our greatest successes.

Book Description:

STEAMPUNK! Plus Dragons!

Trenton Colman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city built inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and “invention” is a curse word. Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, whose father died in an explosion-an event the leaders of Cove point to as an example of the danger of creativity.

Working together, Trenton and Kallista learn that Leo Babbage was developing a secret project before he perished. Following clues he left behind, they begin to assemble a strange machine that is unlikely anything they’ve ever seen before. They soon discover that what they are building may threaten every truth their city is founded on-and quite possibly their very lives.

Author Bio:

savage, j. scott

Scott Savage is the author of the Farworld middle grade fantasy series and the Case File 13 middle grade monster series. He has been writing and publishing books for over ten years. He has visited over 400 elementary schools, dozens of writers conferences, and taught many writing classes. He has four children and lives with his wife Jennifer and their Border Collie, Pepper, in a windy valley of the Rocky Mountains.

FACEBOOK:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/J-Scott-Savage/55805743891
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/jscottsavage

INSTAGRAM: jscottsavage

WEBSITE: www.jscottsavage.com

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3. Sacramental Reflections


Purchase: http://amzn.com/1629720224

These devotional reflections from the heart of Truman G. Madsen can help bring you face to face with yourself as you prepare to meet Christ at the sacrament table each week. There is a feast awaiting the honest guest who accepts the Lord’s invitation to bring to the altar a “broken heart and a contrite
spirit.” Alma promises it will “begin to be delicious” (Alma 32:28) and that “ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled” (Alma 32:42). Find new meaning in the sacrament and new resolve as you participate in this sacred ordinance. A perfect Easter gift for adult children.

Truman G. Madsen received graduate degrees in philosophy and the philosophy of religion from the University of Utah and Harvard. He served as the director of the Judeo-Christian Studies Center at BYU and as director of the Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies. He is widely recognized as an expert
on the life and teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Brother Madsen, who passed away in the summer of 2009, was a prolific author who is also known for his memorable audio and video
presentations on a variety of gospel subjects.

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4. This is Jesus


Purchase: http://amzn.com/1629720186

With Artwork by J. Kirk Richards

The life of the Savior is portrayed in stunning fine art pieces by award-winning artist J. Kirk Richards. These striking new images were created by the artist exclusively for this book.

Accompanied by a harmonized account of the Savior’s ministry, Atonement, and Resurrection, these exquisite paintings reflect a deep reverence for Christ’s mission and sacrifice. Each page is beautifully designed to complement the unique style of the artist. A perfect reminder of the true reason we celebrate the Easter season, this handsome volume will be treasured by the entire family for years to come.

The award-winning artwork of J. Kirk Richards has been featured in galleries across the United States and in various exhibits, publications, and documentary films. His work is highly sought after by collectors (eleven of the seventeen original paintings for this book sold within 24 hours). He has studied with many notable artists, including an apprenticeship with Swiss-born symbolist Patrick Devonas. Kirk and his family reside in Woodland Hills, Utah.

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5. The Continuous Atonement for Teens


Purchase: http://amzn.com/162972016X

Brad Wilcox’s The Continuous Atonement  is a landmark work that helps to clarify what the Atonement is—and what it isn’t.

It corrects misperceptions and offers hope to those who struggle again and again.

This teen adaptation will help teenagers better understand and apply the Atonement in their lives and help them teach the nuances of the Atonement to others, whether on a mission, at home, or with friends. As they better understand and apply the Atonement, its transforming power will have a lasting effect in their lives.

Each chapter opens with a teen-appropriate question and includes subheadings to clarify content, new stories relevant to teens, and a Prepare to Teach section to help readers internalize and share what they’re learning. This shorter edition will be printed in paperback, perfect for teens to carry with them through their busy days.

Brad Wilcox is a professor of teacher education at Brigham Young University, where he also works with Especially for Youth and Education Week programs. He served a mission to Chile and later presided over the Chile Santiago East Mission. He and his wife, Debi, are the parents of four children. He is a popular speaker and the author of The Continuous Atonement and The Continuous Conversion, 52 Life-Changing Questions from the Book of Mormon, and a new children’s book, Practicing for Heaven.

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6. Exile (Book 1 in The Oneness Cycle)

Exile (1)
Book Title: Exile (Book 1 in The Oneness Cycle)

Author: Rachel Starr Thomson

Link: http://www.rachelstarrthomson.com/novels/#exile
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RachelStarrThomsonWriter

Purchase: http://amzn.com/B00D99V878


Rachel Starr Thomson is a writer, indie publisher, and editor. She’s the author of the Seventh World Trilogy, The Oneness Cycle, and other books published by Little Dozen Press.

Rachel is a homeschool graduate, a dweller in southern Canada, a lover of long walks, good books, and hot tea, and a counter-cultural revolutionary who thinks we’d all be much better off if we pitched our television sets out the nearest window.


When Tyler fishes the girl out of the bay, he thinks she’s dead.

She wishes she was.

For Reese, life ended when the supernatural entity called the Oneness threw her out. For Tyler, dredging Reese out of the water means life is nothing he thought.

In a world where the Oneness exists, nothing looks the same. Dead men walk. Demons prowl the air. Old friends peel back their mundane masks and prove as supernatural as angels.

The Oneness changes everything.

And getting Reese home, making her One again, will change Tyler–and his roommate, Chris, whose connections with the Oneness have been buried most of his life–forever.


Chapter 1

“There’s someone in the net—Tyler, haul the net in!”

Dark clouds were billowing over a choppy sea, the boat charging up and down the waves, when the words sank in. Through the spray and the looming storm Tyler saw it too—an arm, a flash of shoe. He braced himself and hauled, every muscle in his arms and back straining, and Chris joined him, still shouting:


The wind gusted and pushed them like a thing alive.

They got the net over the rail and dumped it on the deck, silver fish flapping, detritus, and the person—a girl—a woman, young. Alive.

Tyler’s eyes darted to the cliffs a mile off. “Did you fall?” he screamed over the wind.

She shook her head, hugging herself, gathering her feet beneath her. Long hair, water-dark, clung to her face and neck.

“I jumped,” she said.

“Why the—” he started to swear, but one look at her hollow, tormented grey eyes shut his mouth.

* * *

The rain had just begun to fall from black clouds when they finished tying up the boat safe in the cove and began the trudge up the cliff path to the cottage—not that it mattered much to the boys, spray soaked as they were, and their guest seemed to feel nothing, see nothing.

An hour later she sat cross-legged on the ratty plaid couch in the side room, surrounded on three sides by big, screened windows that showed the sweeping cliffs, sky, and clouds. The bay seemed far off and far below, farther than it really was. Stacks of ragged paperbacks and a few board games in cardboard boxes sat beneath the low windowsills, wearing permanent impressions in the brown shag carpet.

She wore jeans and a button-up shirt that belonged to Tyler—he was the smaller of the two—and had a fuzzy flannel blanket, dull green, wrapped around her shoulders.

The electric heater in the corner of the room creaked and seemed to settle its feet. Tyler pressed a steaming mug of tea into her hands.

As her fingers tightened around it, her eyes met his. The same pain that had punched his anger away on the boat was still there, making him wince, but this time there was an openness there too—and a reaching, a plea. For a moment. Then it switched off, and she retreated again behind the pain.

Like a film over her eyes, Tyler thought.

He cleared his throat. “Hope that’ll warm you—get the rest of the chill out.”

She nodded. She had showered, and with a plastic comb of Chris’s had patiently worked all the tangles out of her long, straight hair, which was drying to a dark blonde. Despite the shower and the blanket and the heater radiating too-strong electric heat, she still looked cold.

“Thank you,” she said.

Rain beat against the windows in a sudden assault. Tyler settled awkwardly on the ottoman across from the couch, displacing a couple of fishing magazines. He leaned forward with his elbows on his knees and clasped his hands in front of him.

You weren’t supposed to leave suicidal people alone, right? And Chris was doing the laundry.

“You’re, ah . . . you’re welcome.”

A click and more settling from the heater.

The question just jumped out. “You lose someone?”

Something flickered in her eyes. “I lost . . . yeah.”

“A husband?” Another flicker—deeper pain. He kicked himself inwardly. Idiot.

But she said, “No.”

Tyler took a deep breath and wished he’d made a second cup of tea. Not that she was drinking hers—she was just holding it while it steamed between her hands.

“Well, somebody must be looking out for you,” he charged in again. She shot him a look, but he just kept going. “To survive that fall in the first place . . . and then for us to pull you out like that, in the whole bay to be in just the right place, and with a storm comin’ in . . .”

He shook his shaggy head. “Somebody didn’t want you to die today.”

When he looked up from his speech, she had turned her head and was staring out the wall of windows toward the sea. One arm rested on the back of the couch, and she was covering her mouth with the heel of her hand. The tea sat nestled in her lap.

His heart did an awful sort of plunge, and he swallowed hard and stood up. His throat hurt. “I’ll come . . . check on you. Later.”

The room was an add-on. Tyler stepped through the old side door into what had once been a mudroom but now housed a washer and dryer, an old dog kennel, a pile of fishing nets, and lots of unclaimed clothing—coats, boots, old socks without partners. He concentrated, for a moment, on breathing.

Cripes. It wasn’t supposed to be this hard. Still.

Chris poked his head and big shoulders through the kitchen door. Unlike Tyler’s unruly head of long blond curls and ever-present scruff, Chris’s red hair was neat and short and his face clean shaven. At the moment he looked concerned.

“How’s the patient?”

“Warming up,” Tyler managed.

“You left her alone?”

“She needs space.”

“But what if she—”

“She’s not going to hurt herself. She just . . . it’s grief, Chris. She lost somebody. She needs space.”

Chris looked unconvinced. “I’m calling Mum.”

“Yeah, okay. Good idea.”

The kitchen door shut, and Tyler heard the sounds of Chris dialing from the other side. Trapped between worlds, suspended in the mudroom for a couple of minutes, Tyler waited.

Thunder rumbled, and the rain drummed on the roof.

* * *

With windows on three sides that covered nearly the whole wall from a foot above the floor to just below the low, sloping ceiling, Reese felt enveloped by the storm. Black, tumultuous clouds. Forked lightning; thunder that shook the walls. Pelting rain. It was a classic coastal storm, wind slamming the cliffs and churning the sea in a white frenzy she could just see from here, despite the darkness.

Bitter tears ran down her face, but she hardly noticed them. Her eyes were perpetually swollen and tender; light hurt them. Had ever since the . . . since the loss.

She stood by the window, placed a hand on the glass. Thunder cracked, and the glass strained against the wind howling up the cliff and battering the cottage.

Surrounded by the storm—except that she stood behind windows, in the warmth, smelling the faint burnt smell of an old heater, wrapped up and clean and dry except for her hair.

She was done with miracles. But perhaps they weren’t done with her.

She sighed and leaned her head against the window like it was too heavy to hold up on her own.

Something made her open her eyes.

She saw it coming and jumped back an instant before the huge, black thing shattered the window and went straight for her throat.

* * *

Diane Sawyer’s tea kettle was just starting to whistle, the high-pitched sound joining the thunder. She pinched the phone between her ear and shoulder, freeing both her hands to switch off the gas and lift the copper kettle off the burner.

“She what? I’m sorry, son, the thunder . . . yes. I heard you that time. Well, that’s a little hasty, don’t you think?” Steam wet her hand as she poured the water into the old ceramic pot, and she stuck her fingers sideways into her mouth to suck off the burn.

She frowned. “You don’t know that, Christopher.”

She switched the phone to her other ear, relieving the crick in her neck. “Mm-hmm. Yes, I’ll come. But you’d probably be best off just—”

A sound like mirrors smashing came from the other end of the line, Chris swore, and Diane said “Christopher? What’s going on?” just as an image loomed fully formed in her mind’s eye, blacking out all other vision and sound for an instant. When she came back to her kitchen, she realized Chris had hung up.

She grabbed her purse, tea forgotten. Storm or no storm, she had to get up to the cottage.

* * *

Reese stood in the midst of the shattered glass, breathing hard and staring at the object in her hand. Behind her, first Tyler and then Chris tumbled into the side room.

“What is that?” Tyler blurted, pointing at the corpse on the floor, at the same time that Chris demanded, “Why are you holding a sword?”

Why indeed? She’d not thought to hold one ever again.

“Didn’t think I . . . could,” she offered, aware that her trailing answer wouldn’t make sense to them. She nudged the thing on the floor with her toe and winced at the broken glass everywhere.

One more mess. The creature was only a renegade—thank God. But . . .

The sword disappeared, disintegrating into nothing, and she let her hand fall to her side. “I’m sorry about the mess.”

Tyler lurched forward and kicked at the body, turning it over. He blinked. “It’s a bat? But . . .”

Rain was blowing in through the broken window, spattering the piles of old books and quickly damping the carpet. Reese sprang into action, shuffling things aside and apologizing again. Night was falling, and it was dark. The wind through the window was cold.

Chris appeared at her side with a blue tarp, which he nailed over the windowsill with a few expert whacks of a hammer. With that little bit of a rain barrier in place, he stood back, regarded Reese with his arms folded over his chest, and said, “Who are you?”

She was still repositioning stacks of books, studiously avoiding looking at either of them. But she couldn’t just ignore the question. “My name is Reese,” she said.

“You have a last name?”

“No, we—I—we don’t use them,” she stammered. Why wouldn’t the words come out? His gaze was boring into her, and she dropped what she was doing and sat on the couch again, shoulders hunched, bone weary. Of course she needed a last name.

“Danby,” she let out in a whimper. “You can . . . Danby.”

She ventured a glance up. Chris was still staring at her, but although his gaze was stern, she could see now that it wasn’t angry. It was . . . protective, maybe.

The lump in her throat suddenly grew until all she wanted to do was curl up on the couch, cover herself with the flannel blanket, and give vent to all she felt until she had exhausted every tear and more, until every muscle ached and her skin burned with the emptiness inside.

His anger would have been hard to take. But protectiveness was a memory, too fresh and far, far too potent.

“A bat couldn’t have broken that window—and I could have sworn it was something else, something way bigger when I walked in here. So what was that?”

Tyler wasn’t paying attention to the exchange, and his question, to her relief, deflected the force of her grief. She considered lying, but she was too tired for that. She leaned back against the scratchy plaid upholstery.

“A renegade,” she said. “Just one . . . so you don’t need to worry that others will come.”

Outside, headlight beams came around a curve in the road just below the cottage, disappearing behind the tarp after only a brief flash.

“That’ll be Mum,” Chris said. He frowned. “I think I hung up on her.”

“A renegade?” Tyler pressed.

“Do you believe in demons?” Reese asked.

Chris shook his head. His forehead was creased with worry. “I’ll put tea on,” he said. “Wait this conversation. Until Mum’s in here.”

Tyler looked apologetically at Reese. “Diane is good for this kind of thing.”

Reese felt the slightest glimmer of humour. “For discerning crazy?”

Tyler gave her a wry smile. “For helping us know what to do.” He stood, leaving the bat he had been examining on the floor. “I don’t think it’s going to get any warmer and drier in here tonight. We’d better go to the living room.”

He escorted Reese through a cluttered laundry room and a small kitchen, equally cluttered but surprisingly clean, where Chris was putting another kettle on. On the other side of the kitchen counter was a tiny room almost entirely occupied by a couch and an easy chair. One wall was swallowed up by a fireplace, over which hung a massive sword—a claymore, Reese thought. A small fire was going, and the room was warm.

She closed her eyes for a second. That only two hours ago she had thrown herself off a cliff in a vain attempt to drown herself seemed about as far away and unreal as hope. Strange how life could hang on and continue even when she didn’t want it to—stranger that it could bring her somewhere like this, now.

And the sword. Why had the sword come to hand?

The rain nearly masked the sound of a car pulling up outside the cottage, and in a moment the front door pushed open and a woman stumbled in, wrapped in a sleek rain slicker and wearing a kerchief which she promptly pulled off and wrung out. She was short and comfortably built, and her pale hair was twisted in a French knot at the back of her head. Her sharp eyes fixed on Reese immediately.

“So you’re the girl,” she said. “I’m Diane. How are my boys treating you?”

Reese stammered something . . . even she wasn’t sure what words she was trying to say. Mercifully, Tyler and Chris both began to talk, telling this woman—Chris’s mother, Diane—what had happened, from the rescue right down to the demon that had turned into a bat and the sword that had appeared and then dematerialized in Reese’s hand. Getting out of her rain slicker and boots, Diane listened intently and nodded, without interrupting or appearing surprised at any point.

Finally she crossed the tiny room and took Reese’s arm. Her hands were weathered and heavy veined, older than the rest of her, and cold from the drive through the rain.

“Sit,” she said. “I think we should all sit.”

They did. Chris and Tyler looked uncomfortable, and after about half a second Chris stood up again and positioned himself in front of the fireplace. His mother didn’t chastise him.

“I saw it,” she said without any more preamble. “The demon. I see things sometimes—the boys know. That’s how I knew to get up here fast.”

She peered along her nose at Reese. Her eyes were blue. “And you,” she said. “You are a part of the Oneness.”

For an instant Reese thought she would not find her voice, or even the breath to say it. But she did—somehow she did.

“No,” she said. “No, I’m an exile.”

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7. Amazed by Grace

 9781629720395This book is based on an address given by Sheri Dew on the topic of Grace. You can view the address online here: http://www.byutv.org/watch/1d4f0f4e-ff51-4e38-b35b-8cdb6b4dd3ce/byu-womens-conference-sheri-l-dew-512014

Do we believe we are saved by grace? With access to sacred scripture and modern revelation, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ought to have special insight into the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the amazing power of grace in our individual lives. Yet how many of us truly understand grace and how to unlock the power it contains?

In Amazed by Grace , author Sheri Dew considers four questions: What is grace? What difference can grace make in our lives? How does the Savior make His power available to us? And what must we  do to gain access to the Savior’s power?

Expand your understanding of grace and broaden your gospel horizon with Sheri as she reminds us that “the central, most compelling, most life-changing message of all time is that Jesus Christ already triumphed over sin, death, hell and every kind of misery. Surely there is nothing our Father is more eager for us to understand than the breathtaking scope of the Atonement of His Son and the power the Atonement makes available to us.”

Sheri Dew is a native of Ulysses, Kansas, and a graduate of Brigham Young University. She has authored several books, including the biographies of two presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gordon B. Hinckley and Ezra Taft Benson. Her most recent books are Women and the Priesthood, God Wants a Powerful People, and Saying It Like It Is. Sheri is the CEO of Deseret Book and Executive Vice President of Deseret Management Corporation

Purchase the book here: http://amzn.com/1629720399

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8. Trifecta Book Promotion!

Welcome to the biggest book promotion event I’ve ever seen, let alone held! To celebrate the release of four new books in the Trifecta catalog on March 31st, we’re putting everything on sale. We’ve also asked several of our friends to join with us, making this an amazing event. Please scroll down through the entire post so you don’t miss anything!! Then, on March 31st, head on back to http://www.trifectabooks.com and check out the four new releases – their purchase links will be live. They are:

Captain Schnozzlebeard and the Singing Clam of Minnie Skewel Island 
by Rebecca Blevins
Fire Gate (Shinehah Saga #1) and Crystal Gate (Shinehah Saga #2)
by Pendragon Inman
Nemesis: Knight (the Chess Quest series #2)
by Michael D. Young
Let’s start with some Trifecta books!
Middle-grade Fiction

ten-year-old Andy moves from California to his new house in Colorado,
the last thing he expects is to meet a ghost named Annie.

has been living in that house for eighty years. Will Annie spook Andy
away? Or will the two find out that sometimes, the best of friends might
not be who you first expected?
Andy & Annie series by author Jenni James and illustrator BC
Sterrett is like Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets Junie B. Jones with a
paranormal twist. Your young reader will love getting to know these
characters and going with them on amazing adventures!

You can purchase A Ghost Story for Kindle here and print here. Special event price: .99!

Andy and Annie are back at it again. This time, they’ve decided to
conquer the bullies who like to tease Andy for wearing green shirts. 

Annie uses her magical ghostly powers for good in this funny early
reader story. She decides it’s time the school learns that wearing green isn’t mean—it’s cool! Join Annie and Andy on an adventure that will change even the toughest of hearts, and maybe even make the principal happy, too. 

You can purchase Greeny Meany for Kindle here. Special event price: .99!

When nerdy eighth-grader Rich Witz unwittingly becomes a paladin, a white knight in training, he is thrust into a world where flunking a test can change the course of history, and a mysterious bully is playing for keeps with his life.

Rich’s grandmother leaves him one thing before disappearing for
good—a white chess pawn with his initials engraved on it. The pawn marks him as the next in an ancient line of white knights. He must prove himself in a life-or-death contest against his nemesis, a dark knight in training. With the ghost of an ancestor for his guide, he has seven days to complete four tasks of valor before his nemesis does, or join his guide in the realm of the dead. 

You can purchase Paladin: Pawn for Kindle here or for Nook here. Special event price: .99!

Young Adult Contemporary Fiction
is Cami’s escape from her dark home life. It’s the only thing that
gives her hope – until she meets Adam Black. A talented dancer in his
own right, he asks Cami to be his partner, and she gains strength and
confidence as he unlocks whole new possibilities for her.
When Cami’s abusive mother overdoses and her already-broken family falls to
pieces around her, dancing with Adam helps Cami pull through. But he has
secrets of his own, and someone wants him found at any price. Cami gets
dragged into a web of danger and deceit. Now she must make a choice
between familiar darkness and uncertain light.
You can purchase Dancing with Black for Kindle here and in print here.   Special event price: .99!
Mattie’s smart and she’s in line for a college scholarship, but she’s
not exactly the most popular person in school. When the hot and hunky
guys at the women’s convention bread booth give out free samples to all
the cutest, trendiest girls in the room, they overlook her. It’s just
proof that she’s not worth their attention—she’s not a free bread girl.
What she really wants is to date Travis Banks, her high school’s
soccer king. But he just can’t see past her clumsiness and frizzy hair
to the real Mattie underneath, and sometimes, she can’t either. What’s
it going to take for Mattie to find the free bread girl within?
You can purchase Free Bread Girl for Kindle, Nook,  and print. Special event price: .99!
Does true love really prevail?All
Lilly Price has ever known is living in the shadow of her widely
successful foster family. But when a twist of fate deals Lilly the hand
of Harrison Crawford, the most popular guy in Bloomfield, NM, everything
flips upside down.Sean Benally is a hard worker, he’s funny,
he’s generous, and he’s kind.  He’s also the most amazing guy Lilly has
ever known. And she’s totally fallen in love with him. But he’s her
foster brother…Now she must choose between the unavailable love of her life—or the guy who promises to be available forever.
You can purchase Mansfield Ranch for Kindle here and print here. Special event price: .99!
Young Adult Fantasy
A black dragon hovered outside of Newtimber.
Sianna rubbed her eyes, but the dragon was still there, clutching a
round object that looked like a spotted egg. And then the egg fell,
hitting the ground like an atomic bomb, sending out waves of a
slow-moving fog that distorted everything it touched.
citizens of Newtimber change. Griffins. Vampires. Zombies.
Creatures from the myths of every culture come to life through the
people. Even Sianna changes, her skin becoming stone hard, and
she gains the ability to travel from the human realm into the dimension
of the fae to battle the evil bent on taking over the world.One person to
heal a family, a town, and save the world. It seems an impossible task,
but with the help of her new friends, it could happen. Right?You can purchase Newtimber: Fractured for Kindle here, Nook here, and print here. Special event price: .99!
lives her nightmares every night. While other teenagers are
dreaming of boys or traveling to exotic places, she must run a staircase
with no beginning or no end, or a terrible debt will never be paid.
Just before her seventeenth birthday, the dreams change. She is no
longer alone. 

But her nightmares don’t end when she wakes up. Her stepmother and
stepsisters threaten to ruin everything she holds dear. She must protect
the secret that both she and her father have magic or they will use it
to their advantage. 

As Sydney learns to control her magic, what seemed impossible
before—escaping her stepmother and those ever-present stairs—is now at
her fingertips. When she learns the ultimate plan of her evil captor,
Sydney must stop her at all costs, or she will forever be trapped inside
her nightmares. 
You can purchase Endless for Kindle here and for print here. Special event price: $3.99 – going to .99 on the 31st!
had it with her life. Six siblings in an overstuffed house are enough
to drive anyone crazy, and sometimes she dreams of escaping to some
fantasy world. When she suddenly wakes up to find herself being kissed
by a strange—but very handsome—prince, Jenny knows her life just got a
lot more exciting. Now stuck in a medieval land of castles and royalty,
when Jenny learns that the queen has agreed to marry her off to the
prince, it’s time to take matters into her own hands. She goes on a
quest to find out who dragged her to this time while trying to keep from
falling in love with either of the boys vying for her attention.

Genevieve has only known life under her mother’s rule. She wants to do
more than go to battle or deal with suitors. She wakes to find herself
in a new world filled with gadgets, electricity, and moving carriages.
She finally has the freedom to be who she wants to be with a family who
cares deeply for her and a boy worth any sacrifice. It’s more than
everything she always wanted. 
As Jenny and Genevieve settle into their new lives, they face an unknown
evil which threatens everything they care about and makes them face
tough questions—like who they are and what they really want their lives
to become.
You can now purchase The Princess and the Prom Queen for Kindle here and print here. Special event price: $2.99 – going to .99 on the 31st!

Realistic Women’s Fiction

only been a year since her divorce, so why would Jane Adamson do
something as stupid as attempt to date again? Wasn’t her marriage
scarring enough? The answer was simple—her kids. They worried about her
and wanted to see her happy again. 

She needed to be happy . She needed to learn to trust again and feel pretty again and human again. 

As a mom of five, it was too easy to hide herself away and focus just on her kids. Who needs men, anyway? 

Jane in part one of a six-part journey of self-discovery, conquering
the past, understanding love, and most importantly … healing, as she
finds the woman she once was.
You can purchase Drowning for Kindle here. Special event price: .99!

Sweet and Clean Romance Collection

Love Notes#1. Elahna Nezario gave up her musical dreams to help run the Queen of
Hearts, her mother’s chocolate shop, after her sister’s sudden death.
After an unfortunate run-in with Elahna’s childhood crush, owner of the
Dolce Theater, not only do her dreams surge back to life, but so does
her heart.
You can purchase Hearts in Harmony for Kindle here. Special event price: .99!

Love Notes #2. Meredith Aaron lost all hope for love after a car accident put her in a
wheelchair. Who would want her, broken as she is? After her brother
tells her to save a dance for him at his wedding, she decides to somehow
learn how to dance on the only legs she has left—her wheels.

You can purchase Waltzing on Wheels for Kindle here and Nook here. Special event price: .99!

Love Notes#3. Camille Clark spends her time bringing light to the memorable moments of
Dolce—playing her harp at weddings, anniversaries, and even funerals.
She can’t help but wonder if someone will ever play for her. Will the
dark secrets of her past come to Dolce and ruin her future? Or will she
find her soul mate and finally walk down that aisle?

You can purchase Healing a Broken Harp for Kindle here and Nook hereSpecial event price: .99!

Main Street Merchants #1. Bridal consultant Laurie Fletcher spends all her time helping others
prepare for the most special day of their lives. Logan Reese is easily
the most irritating man on the planet, and for some reason, he’s made
annoying Laurie his mission in life. Will true love ever come Laurie’s
way, or is she doomed to watch others get their happily ever after while
she sits on the sidelines?

You can purchase And Something Blue for Kindle hereSpecial event price: .99!
Main Street Merchants #2. Cynical Morgan learned at an early age that life is just plain hard.
She’s decided that no one could possibly fall in love with her – all the
good guys want perfect girls, and with her messed-up family, she’s
anything but perfect. But then along comes the guy who falls
head-over-heels in love with her just as she is and helps her find the
bright side of life – and a second chance for perfection.
You can purchase For Love or Money for Kindle here and Nook hereSpecial event price: .99!
Main Street Merchants #3. Even though Cara has lost her childhood weight and is now composing her
own music, she can’t see her own beauty and she has no confidence in her
talent. A bumpy relationship with her mother certainly hasn’t helped.
Only the right guy can help her see inside herself to the amazing person
who has always been there, and to mend her frayed family ties in the face of her greatest sorrow.
You can purchase Five Golden Rings for Kindle here and Nook hereSpecial event price: .99!
Main Street Merchants #4. Quinn spends all her time managing D’Angelo’s Bakery – so much time, in
fact, that she rarely does anything else. When things get tough for the
bakery’s owner and she’s needed more than ever, dreams of romance and a
family of her own fly out the window – but then along comes someone who
shows her just how sweet life can be.
You can purchase Just Desserts for Kindle here and Nook hereSpecial event price: .99!
Main Street Merchants #5. Regan spends her days working in a bookstore and her nights reading. She
goes on grand romantic adventures in her head . . . but not in real
life. That all changes when someone sweeps her off her feet and carries
her up a mountain.

You can purchase Between the Lines for Kindle here and Nook hereSpecial event price: .99!

And now for some books from our friends! Authors are listed alphabetically by last name.

Big dreams take strength and determination.

Cami Lockhart’s
dream is on the verge of becoming a reality. Lockhart Sanctuary, a
refuge for abused and confiscated cats, is what Cami has worked for her
entire life. But a dream that big requires a daily commitment. Cami
yearns for someone to share the dream with, and knows everyone in town
thinks Alex is the perfect man for the job. There’s one problem. She
wants fireworks with every kiss, not just friendship with a hint of
something more.

Sometimes what you wish for is closer than you think.

Alex Reynolds shares Cami’s passion for the sanctuary, and as the head
ranchhand, spends every day helping her dream come true. He longs to
tell Cami she’s held his heart since childhood, but losing a lifetime of
friendship is a big risk to take. Being by Cami’s side at the sanctuary
is better than letting go, but Alex knows someday he’ll want more.

Risk losing everything or fight for the dreams to come true.
The sanctuary is put in jeopardy when ignored threats take a deadly turn.
Cami and Alex must each choose to stand and fight, or lose everything
they dream of.  Purchase here. Special promotional price: .99!

A Secret to Save Them All . . . 
It was whispered years ago that when a pirate cursed a Philippine village with langbuan, or flying undead, a boy received a secret that would protect him from certain death. But even armed with a secret, can anyone survive the undead for long? 
Seventeen-year-old Antonio Pulido has never known a time when the langbuan didn’t roam the streets every Ghost Moon Night, killing anyone in their path. He works hard to protect his family and the girl he loves from the deadly attacks, but he wants them stopped once and for all. Can Antonio uncover the decades-old secret and will it help him defeat the langbuan? Or will Ghost Moon Night come again and take someone he truly cares about? It falls on Antonio to save his village, but time is running out. The next Ghost Moon Night is nearly here and Antonio knows this is his last chance to destroy the undead and end their reign of terror — or die trying. Purchase here. Special promotional price: .99!
When she was
nine-years-old, Katie knew she wanted Chris to give her her first kiss. It
wasn’t because she was in love with him (no way, he was her best friend!
Besides, she was in love with his fourteen-year-old big brother), it was
because she could make him do anything she wanted. 
Besides, it
didn’t really mean anything. After all, it was only a kiss. 
But things
started to change. They grew up. They parted ways and went to different high
schools. Then other girls and other boys—well, just one particular boy—came
into the picture, throwing their lives upside down. 

Told from the alternating points of view of Katie and Chris, this love story between
two best friends will tug at your heartstrings and leave you thinking about how
the simplest things mean so much. Purchase here. Special promotional price: .99!

Parkview Manor has a secret, and
eighteen-year-old Cynthia is curious!
Cynthia Holt takes a job at a former sanitarium, now operating as an assisted
living center, she instantly discovers something more is occurring than simply
providing the elderly with housing and care. Something very strange is going on
behind the locked door of Room 913!
she is warned to stay away from the room and to not discuss it or the occupant
with her co-workers, she is even more intrigued – and suspicious! Letting her
curious nature guide her, she immediately begins asking questions. When she
finds that Room 913 has been closed off; locked and sealed for many years, her
curiosity turns to concern. Though rumors abound, no one seems inclined to talk
about it.
Not giving up so easily, Cynthia
persists in her pursuit until she finds out the truth – or does
Purchase here. Special promotional price: .99!

BFFs are matchmaking geniuses. They schemed to get Ginnie’s widowed dad to fall
in love with Tillie’s divorced mom. Then Ginnie stumbled upon her late mom’s
journals, making life totally awesome sauce … until her dad confiscated the

Ginnie is counting on Tillie’s help to make Dad change his mind, but Tillie’s
not sure the ghost of Ginnie’s mom will make a good addition to their new
family tree.  When a blast from the past shows up and makes Tillie go
nutburgers, Ginnie is torn between helping her BFF and having her questions
answered. Purchase here. Special promotional price: .99!

In The Darkest Hours of Addiction, A Light Shines 

one LDS woman’s husband flies off to Mexico to meet another woman, she
sells his stuff and starts a new life. To support her three children,
she guts part of her home to start a preschool and rents out another two

life is soon filled with new friends and activities, but the new
friends bring problems of their own. Is hope and healing possible as
they strengthen one another and rely on the Lord? And will romance
blossom again for Jessica? 

is a story of love and friendship loaded with drama, inspiration,
romance, and the tenacity of three young women who find their strength
in the Lord. Purchase here. Special promotional price: .99!

The only thing she stands to lose are her shoes.

Cinderella is an ordinary teenage girl, with an
extraordinary name.  But because of that
name, she and her cousins, Belle, Aurora, Ariel, and Snow White suffer years of
torment from their peers.  Then as the
girls enter high school and the enticing world of dating, a life-altering
decision must be made.  Is it finally
time to stop fighting, and surrender to the fairy tale clichés that have been
holding them back?  By embracing their
names, the girls discover an inner-strength they never knew existed. And by
putting everything they have on the line, maybe, just maybe they will discover there
really is such a thing as ‘happily ever after’. Purchase here. Special promotional price: .99!

Bracken is a
typical teenage boy, more interested in the angles of the girl’s exposed
back teasing him from the seat ahead of him than in anything the
geometry teacher could present. His life is filled with school, video
games, and thoughts of girls, not necessarily in that order. Life just
flows along uneventfully and unacknowledged, like the electricity that
courses through the power lines — until PF (Power Failure) Day. On PF
Day, the sun strikes Bracken’s world with an unseen surge of
electromagnetic fury, which cripples power stations and burns
transformers to crispy nuggets of regret. 

one in Bracken’s world had ever thought about how much they depended on
electrical power, but now, without it, they are plunged into survival
mode. Bracken soon realizes how lucky he is to live on a farm in the
Midwest. What seemed like a dull and backwards life before is now the
greatest chance for survival in what seems like a powerless world. Food,
water, and heat are readily available, although hard work is required
to make use of them. Bracken and his family must learn to survive like
their ancestors, who settled their land. Purchase here. Special promotional price: .99!

eight parade floats explode during the annual Fourth of July
celebrations, Agent Chris Harmer must find who planted the bombs before
the terrorists strike again. His troubles aren’t isolated to terrorism.
Chris falls in love with the FBI’s feisty psychiatrist, Alexis Osborne.
She won’t commit to someone who doesn’t share her religious values, and
Chris has no desire to convert. Purchase here. Special promotional price: $.99!

At forty years of age, I was impoverished and severely addicted to
tobacco cigarettes. I could not even afford a decent birthday gift for
my dear friend Cathy I had met online years earlier. In this book, I
tell the story of how my friend turned my makeshift present for her into
a gift of life for me. I tell how I overcame my addiction gradually. I
share tips, photos, and more! If you have ever said, “I wish I could
quit smoking,” or “I wish I could cut back,” I hope you will read this
book. Purchase here. Special promotional price: .99!


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9. Author Spotlight: Darren Simon and “Guardian’s Nightmare”

GN Cover

Here are some questions author Darren Simon responded to regarding his book, Guardian’s Nightmare.

Tell us a bit about your new book, Guardian’s Nightmare:
It’s a middle-grade young adult urban fantasy novel set in San Francisco. It’s meant to be a fun, exciting read—but one parents can feel comfortable allowing their children to read. The story centers around a thirteen-year-old girl, Charlee Smelton, who is going through a rough patch in her life after the family’s move to San Francisco. The move has left her feeling estranged from her father and like an outcast at her new school, where she finds herself bullied. Then one day she receives a gift of the ugliest bike she has ever seen, one she just can’t seem to get rid of no matter how hard she tries. And every time she touches the bike she suffers a painful electric jolt. Soon after receiving the bike, strange dreams come of a world across a dimensional divide where a princess is in danger from a dark knight. Little does Charlee know her life is about to take a frightening turn, one where she must discover the hero in herself—with the help of that hunk-of-junk-bike—to save her family, her city, the world from an evil only she can defeat. An evil she allows into this world.

What made you come up with the premise?
As seems to be a growing trend in my writing, I started with one incident from my own youth where I felt like something of an outcast at the school I attended after my family moved. It is kind of difficult to say whether I built the book around a character or an incident or both. Then, a key piece to the book is the bike, and I can tell you that I loved riding when I was a kid, and I always imagined what it would be like to have a bike with powers. It was just a natural fit into this story.

What inspired you to write the book?
I knew at some point I wanted to write a book. That’s why I focused my education and my career on writing. I also knew I wanted to write fantasy and even science fiction for younger readers to inspire them to read the way I was inspired when I was a boy and a teen to read. As a boy, I couldn’t wait to get enough money to go to the bookstore in the mall to purchase a book. I cannot say there was specific inspiration to write this book—just inspiration to write. Before this book, I built up about twenty fantasy and science fiction short stories. I even wrote half of a science fiction novel, which I may return to after other projects are complete, about pen pals across the universe. When I was in school pen pals across states were the big thing as a way to practice our writing. I imagined a story about pen pals light years away who decide to meet. My point is, I just wanted to write, and this particular story, Guardian’s Nightmare, just stuck with me for some reason. When I started it, I had to finish it. By the way, when I first wrote the novel, the lead was a boy named Charlie Smelton, but along the way a recommendation was made that perhaps the character might work better as a girl. I tried the switch for a few chapters and found I really did like the character as a girl, and so Charlee Smelton was created.

What was it that made you realize you wanted to be a writer?
There were a couple of pivotal moments in my life that led me down this path. First was when I was just a boy and my grandmother gave me a brown paper bag filled with old DC comic books. I don’t remember where she got them from, but those comic books turned me into a reader. I loved them, and I became a big comic book fan. And from comic books, I got into the Choose Your Own Adventure Dungeon and Dragon books, and from there I got into longer fantasy and sci-fi novels. But it was that first brown bag of comics that made me a reader and once I become a reader I also wanted to write. In school, when the teacher would give the class, a creative writing assignment, most kids wrote one page—I wrote several. I just really enjoyed it. The second moment in my life came in the summer of 1984 when the movie, Ghostbusters, was released. When I saw it, I was amazed at how funny it was and how it made people laugh. I wondered who the writers were because I wanted to create words to make people react the way they had. After seeing the movie, I went home and wrote the opening pages of my version of Ghostbusters II. More importantly, that year I started high school, and as an elective instead of taking wood shop or auto mechanics, I took a journalism class, so I could have a chance to write. My future was set because in college I majored in journalism and I became a newspaper journalist. I have been writing ever since.

DarrenAuthor Bio:

Darren Simon is a former longtime newspaper journalist who now works in government affairs on California water issues and teaches college English. In his spare time, he is a freelance magazine writer. Guardian’s Nightmare is his first novel. The second book in the series is also under contract with Divertir Publishing. He resides in California’s desert southwest with his wife, two sons and two crazy dogs.

Blurb for the book:

Charlee Smelton is an average thirteen-year-old girl struggling to adapt after her family moves to San Francisco. She thinks her biggest obstacle is facing the bullies who brand her a nerd and a dweeb. She’s wrong. Her life is about to change—for the worse.

First, she receives a gift of the ugliest, most old fashioned bike she has ever seen. Try as she might to ditch it in the city, she just can’t seem to escape that very mysterious two-wheeler. Then come the visions of a world across a dimensional divide, a princess in fear for her life and a dark knight pursuing her. Are they just dreams or something more?

For Charlee, everything she ever thought she knew about herself soon crumbles as she starts down a path to discover her true self, and she will need that hunk-of-junk bike more than she could ever imagine. Without it, she might not be able to find the hero in herself—the hero she must become to save her friends, family, her city—the world—from an evil only she can defeat. An evil she allows into this world.

Chapter 8

Okay, Bike. Now What?

Charlee stepped cautiously to the glowing two-wheeler. “Okay, bike. I’m here. What do you want?” The bike remained motionless, silent. Its pulsating glow surrounded Charlee.

“Hey bike, remember all those mean things I said about you? Can we forget about that? I didn’t mean it. Sorry for ditching you in the alley. Let’s just be friends. I’m about to put my hands on you. Please don’t hurt me.”

Teeth clenched in preparation of the jolt sure to come, she reached for the bike with both hands. She counted down—three… two… one—then her hands grasped the handlebars. Nothing! No lightning strike. No explosion. Nothing happened at all. The chrome felt warm, as if the bike had been left outside on a hot summer day. Other than that, life seemed unchanged.

Charlee glared at the bike. The glowing light had disappeared, and she stood in the garage, gripping the most hideous bike ever. “Did I imagine everything? Was I sleepwalking? Am I asleep right now in my bed? Is this part of a dream?”

She swung her leg over the frame and sat on the banana seat… maybe to tempt fate. More warmth rose throughout her body, but still no stinging burst of energy to signal the start of some momentous change. “Dumb bike. What a joke! You’re nothing but a pile of rusting—”

Her words vanished when the garage door slid open on its own, revealing a sleeping street in the dark hours of early morning. No, not again! Outside, a light breeze ruffled the leaves in the trees. From the distance came the screech of fighting cats. Except for these sounds, stillness filled the night.

“Okay. This is very weird and very wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong! This can’t be happening. There’s no way. I must be dreaming. That’s it. I’m dreaming—and now I’d like to wake up, please.” Charlee pinched herself. Nothing changed. She remained in the garage on the bike, staring at the street. “Listen, bike. This has been fun and all, but I think I’m going to go back inside now. Okay?”

But slowly, with Charlee still on the banana seat, the bike rolled out of the garage, down the driveway, and onto the sidewalk. She tried to lift her hands from the handlebars, but… they’re stuck! She braced her feet on the cement but the bike kept moving forward.

“Mom, Dad… help me!” she cried but her words echoed back at her as if they had bounced off some invisible force field. “Anyone, please help!” Again her words hit an unseen wall, like she was in some kind of box surrounding her and the bike.

Charlee wrestled to free her hands. “Bike, let me go! I promise I won’t say another mean thing about you. I’ll ride you to school every day. I’ll clean you. I’ll make sure your chain is greased. Just stop.”

The bike came to a stop in the street and finally she was able to let go. “All right, bike. I’m just going to get off slowly and then I’ll take you back into the garage. We’ll both get some sleep and tomorrow we can go to school together.” She smiled nervously. “Doesn’t that sound ni—”

Like a bullet the bike shot forward. Charlee strained against the G-forces, which were stronger than in any roller coaster she’d ever ridden. Her vision tunneled in on itself. She was blacking out.

“What’s happening?” The onrushing wind swallowed the words. The bike zipped down the street—past one block, then another and another. They raced up steep-hilled streets, jumping at the peaks, and flying down the other sides. She fought to keep her eyes open against the dizzying streaks of light rushing by. Queasiness set in. Charlee’s stomach rolled over and over. She was going to be sick.

“Stop!” she shouted. The bike heeded her command. Just as suddenly as the ride began, it ended. Charlee’s feet flew above her head as she flipped over the handlebars. Her body slammed against the cold, unforgiving pavement and rolled several times before coming to a stop.

“Owww!” She lay on the cement staring up at the night sky watching the stars spin. The vomit came in disgusting bursts. When it was over, she rolled back and closed her eyes. She didn’t open them again until the world stopped spinning. After the nausea subsided, Charlee stood on wobbly legs. When another bout of nausea returned she hunched over and spotted her glasses on the sidewalk.

She chuckled weakly. “They must have blown off my face.”

Charlee bent down to pick them up and placed them back atop her nose, but the lenses must have cracked or been scratched. Everything looked fuzzy. She checked her glasses for any breaks but other than a few spots of dirt they were fine. Placing them back on her face, the hazy vision returned.

“Wait a second.” She lifted away the glasses and the world around was clear. “Very weird.”

Charlee staggered to the bike. “Wh… what’s going on here? Are you trying to get back at me? Is that what this is? You know, you could have at least let me put on my clothes. You think I want the world to see me in my pajamas?”

The bike stared with its front reflector. Did she expect a response? Anything was possible. This was no ordinary bike. Maybe it could talk. Maybe it could explain for what purpose it had dragged her out here in the middle of the night.

Charlee’s eyes swept over the street. It was a more affluent neighborhood. The homes here were large, many gated. The neighborhood was asleep except for the pale glow cast by lamp posts. “What is it, bike? Why are we here?” The bike stood silent.

She placed a hand on the banana seat, triggering a new sensation. Instead of a painful zap, she felt invigorated—even powerful. She was more alert, her senses heightened. Placing the glasses in her pajama pocket, she surveyed the neighborhood with eyes that saw sharper than they ever did even with glasses. Staring down the street, Charlee could read the license plate number of a car parked eight houses away, make out the tiny lettering of a family’s last name over a doorway ten houses down and spot the yellow eyes of a cat peeking from underneath a pickup two blocks away.

Charlee gasped. More changes followed. She heard things—not just rustling leaves or dogs barking in the distance, but sounds no normal human ear would be able to detect from where she stood—a man snoring in his bed, a baby breathing deeply in its crib and a caterpillar inching up a tree.

Then… footsteps! Someone was slipping through the backyard of the house across the street.

“Bike, maybe it’s just someone locked out of their house.” She listened again and reached a different conclusion as she heard tools clanging in a bag slung across the intruder’s back.

Charlee removed her hand from the bike seat. The sounds disappeared, but the sense of trouble remained. “I think someone’s about to break into that house. But what if I’m wrong? I can’t just start shouting and wake up everybody on this street. They’d think I was a lunatic or something. I’d be in trouble for sure. Is this why you brought me here? What am I supposed to do?”

She reached for a cell phone but remembered she hadn’t brought it. “I could have made a call to the police if I had remembered my cell phone. See, bike, you should have let me get my head straight before bringing me out here.”

She paced back and forth. “What am I supposed to do? Can I trust my senses? Can I trust the bike? No! Before I do anything, I need proof.”

Charlee sprinted across the street to the house where she’d heard the suspicious noises. At the front yard, she slowed and tiptoed up to the fence that ran along the side of the house. What was she doing? She should turn around and walk home. Leave the bike here.

As if she were someone else—someone braver—Charlee opened the fence and slowly crept to the back of the house, body pressed up against the wall’s rough surface. Please don’t let a thief be here. Let me be wrong. Her heart sank when she spied the outlines of a large man kneeling at the back door of the house. It looked like he was trying to cut some kind of wire, perhaps to an alarm system. Any minute now, the unwanted night visitor would break in. She couldn’t let that happen.

But what could she do—scream? That would alert everyone inside of the danger. Sure, it wasn’t exactly what a hero would do, but maybe the man would be frightened and run away. She flattened against the wall and prepared to belt out the loudest scream she had. Unfortunately, at that moment something else caught her attention—something huge with eight spindly legs.

The spider crawled from the wall onto Charlee’s shoulder and then onto her neck. As the first spidery legs touched skin, she spun in a wild dance to shake off the creature. Mistake! Charlee jumped away from the wall and stood in full view.

She hoped the prowler’s attention had been focused elsewhere but it hadn’t. He rose to his feet then scrambled toward her, a long, silvery wrench clutched tightly in a black gloved hand. Scream now! But she couldn’t even swallow. She just stared.

The man, dressed in black, from his sweatpants to his sweatshirt all the way up to the ski mask over his face, stopped just a couple of steps away.

Think fast! “Uh, is this the Peterson house?” Charlee whispered. “I have a pizza delivery.” The masked man just stood there, his head tilted. “I guess not,” Charlee backed away. “I guess I got the wrong house. Sorry. I’ll be going now.”

“I don’t think so.” The man spoke in a throaty, threatening voice. He took a step forward, still clutching the wrench.

“I’ll yell,” Charlee warned. “Everyone will hear and come running.”

The man clearly had no fear of a thirteen-year-old girl in pajamas. He smiled through a hole cut in the ski mask, exposing yellow teeth that glowed in the night. “Do it, kid, and I’ll make sure it’s the last sound you ever make. I’ve killed before and I can do it again. Go ahead, scream.”

Shivering with fear, Charlee struggled just to breathe. How did she get herself into this? How would she get herself out of this? She tried to scream, “Help!” It came out as barely a squeak.

The would-be thief raised the wrench over his head. “Sorry, kid. I can’t have any witnesses.”

Charlee tripped over her own feet and toppled to the grass. At that moment she did the only thing she could think of. In a shaky voice, just above a whisper, she called to the two-wheeler. “Bike, I need your help—now!”

“Get up!” The man reached down with his free hand and clasped Charlee’s arm. “This will teach… wait, what the—”

The bike—that ugly scrap of metal—charged through the side gate and before the man had time to react crashed into him. The burglar was knocked off his feet, landing with a thud on his back.

Dazed, he lifted himself to his knees. “What… what happened?” Shaking off his confusion, he stood with the wrench still in hand. “I’m going to get you, kid!” Before reaching his full height, the bike rushed at him again. The burglar flew across the yard and smashed against the wooden fence before falling face down to the ground. A soft groan escaped his lips then he lay silent.

For a heartbeat, Charlee stared at the bike. It waited, supported by its kickstand. When she could finally move, she picked herself up and tiptoed over to the man and checked to see if he breathed. He did. The bike had knocked him unconscious.

“The bike just saved my life.” She contemplated the bike in disbelief.Thanks!”

A light went on inside the house then the light in the back porch blazed to life. The residents had heard the commotion and were coming out. Charlee ran to the bike and leaped on the banana seat just as the back door slid open and a heavy, balding man in a robe emerged. He held a baseball bat. “What in the world is going on here?” The bat was poised over his shoulder.

“Everything’s all right, sir. This man was going to break into your house.” Charlee toughened her voice and pointed at the unconscious thief. “But I… I mean… we… stopped him. You should call the police before he wakes up.”

A plump woman in curlers rushed out. “Harvey, what’s going on?”

“Nancy, go inside and call the police,” Harvey ordered.

“Who is this girl?” Nancy asked, her eyes fixed on Charlee.

“I don’t know, but I think she just stopped that man from robbing us.” Harvey pointed the bat at the unconscious man. For the first time, the woman looked at the dark lump lying motionless on the ground. “Oh, my!”

“Hon, please go call the police.”

She disappeared into the house.

Harvey continued to regard Charlee. “Well, who are you?”

Charlee thought about that for a moment. She wasn’t sure how to answer. She couldn’t give her name. She wanted to give a heroic response, but in the end simply said, “I’m just a friend.”

“Harvey, the police are on their way,” Nancy said from inside the house.

“Good,” Charlee responded. “I’ll be leaving now.”

With a nod to Harvey, she called, “Bike, let’s ride!” The bike scurried from the backyard through the side gate. They rushed to the end of the block and stopped. There, Charlee used her enhanced hearing to listen for sirens and a few minutes later, they were off in the distance. Charlee focused her hearing one more time on the burglar. He still hadn’t stirred. “Good, we can go,” Charlee told the bike. “Let’s not be around when the police get here. I’m not quite sure how to explain all this.”

Apparently, the bike agreed. It bolted away from the neighborhood at unnaturally high speeds, rocketing past homes and cars. Gripping the handlebar to hang on, Charlee leaned into the rushing wind. She sensed the night was just beginning.

Publisher website: http://www.divertirpublishing.com/books/gn.html

Author website: http://www.ivpressonline.info/sites/darrensimon/

Amazon listing: http://www.amazon.com/Guardians-Nightmare-Last-Princess-Latara-ebook/dp/B00K6ZLZEY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1425571042&sr=1-1&keywords=guardian%27s+nightmare+by+darren+simon

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10. Darkest Worlds: A Dystopian Anthology

darkest worlds

Darkest Worlds: A Dystopian Anthology An anthology that explores what humans are made of when society falls to its knees. Darkest Worlds includes six original novellas by award-winning authors and best sellers of Young Adult and New Adult Dystopia. All proceeds go to Girls Write Now, a charity that promotes literacy of inner-city girls.  

  Nessa: A Breeders Story by Katie French, author of The Breeders: Eighteen-year-old Nessa knows what it’s like to be an endangered species. Growing up in a dying world where nine out of ten babies are born male, she survives by trusting no one. When Marlin, the nineteen-year-old gunslinger, kills the man who has been keeping her enslaved, Nessa decides he might be her meal ticket. What she doesn’t realize is love is still possible, even in their decimated world.   MOON by S.K. Falls, author of World of Shell and Bone: Loyalty. Obedience. Patriotism. Moon Stewart has no doubt that the New Amanian way of life is the right way. The only way. But was there ever a time when she felt differently? In this companion novella to the dystopian bestseller World of Shell and Bone, the secrets of Moon's past are revealed, giving readers a glimpse into the mind of their favorite antagonist.   The First Unforgivable Thing by Zoe Cannon, author of The Torturer’s Daughter: When a dissident working undercover as an interrogator is ordered to torture a confession from the only girl he’s ever loved, he chooses to defy both the totalitarian regime and the resistance by helping her escape—but she has an agenda of her own...   The Keeper by A.G. Henley, author of The Scourge: a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Award. Peree knows his duty as the new Keeper of the Water Bearer, Fennel, is to make sure his people get every drop of their share of the water she collects when the flesh-eating Scourge roam the forest. He will motivate her, distract her, do anything he can to keep her working. He knows his duty is to his people and his people alone. What he doesn’t know is that he's falling in love with her.   Survival Lessons by Kate Avery Ellison, author of Frost: A young Farther prisoner named Eva escapes into the monster-filled wilderness of the Frost with a band of fellow inmates, all of whom are harboring secrets...but little do they know that Eva has secrets of her own. Set in the world of The Frost Chronicles.   clean slate complex by Megan Thomason, author of the daynight series: Homeless Alexa Knight agrees to help the do-gooder non-profit The Second Chance Institute in return for medical care for her sick mother. The SCI is wooing the poor and downtrodden into their Clean Slate Complexes--where "everything is provided" from jobs to food, shelter, clothing, and education. Unfortunately, as with all things that sound too good to be true, there's a catch...  
Katie French
S.K. Falls
Zoe Cannon
A.G. Henley
Kate Avery Ellison
Megan Thomason
Girls Write Now--charity
The Girls Write Now mission is to provide guidance, support, and opportunities for at-risk and underserved girls from New York City’s public high schools to develop their creative, independent voices, explore careers in professional writing, and learn how to make healthy school, career and life choices.


  BookBlast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 9/30/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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11. Know Your Genre

I recently created a course on prewriting for my Master's degree. I thought it would be a good thing to share with the rest of you. I'll spend the next six Wednesdays showing the course unit by unit, starting with a video, then an outline and finally some practice activities. The first part is about selecting a genre.


Know Your Genre Genre = the category your writing falls into. Bookstores, reviewers and sellers separate books by genre to help readers.
 A genre tells you what kind of conflict you will have and how it will likely be resolved.

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12. Four Questions from author Theresa Sneed

A few questions today from author Theresa Sneed. Check out her website here: http://theresasneed.com/

1. What are you working on right now?
I'm working on a few different novels at a time, that's generally what I do. I'm also working on a book that tackles bullying from an LDS perspective. My novels are all in the fantasy and science fiction genre, one about a society in which everyone votes about ever aspect of life, one about an alien whose two halves live in different worlds but have to soon come back together and choose one world to live in, and about a boy who can look at people in the moonlight and see how they will ultimately die. 

2. How does it differ from other works in its genre?
All of my books try to break away from cliches and explore characters, technology, magic systems and themes that don't feel worn and tired. I believe that speculative fiction needs to more creative in general, especially because you have the license to do so. 

3. Why do you write what you do?
I have an extremely overactive imagination. All of those ideas just don't fit in my head at once without spilling out.

4. How does your writing process work?
I do a general outline, chapter by chapter and a do a bit of prewriting on my characters. I then jump in with both feet. I wait until I'm done to edit in order to keep my momentum going and then read through it again and let others give me feedback until I'm satisfied with it. 

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13. A Wicked Kind of Dark Book Blast

A Wicked Kind of Dark Robert Duncan no longer believes in magic. A mysterious call about a blood moon, however, leads him back to the magical world of his childhood and to Luthien, the beautiful girl with flame-coloured hair, who he loved and lost. As Robert unravels the secrets of his childhood, darkness enters his life and an ancient evil awakens. To have any chance of defeating the dark forces that would destroy two worlds, Robert must find Luthien before the rise of the blood moon. He must, once more, believe in magic … A Wicked Kind of Dark mixes vast and spectacular fantasy landscapes with gritty urban reality. A must-read for people of all ages who believe in the power of imagination, and the importance of never losing touch with your inner child.
Author Jonathan K. Benton Jonathan Benton always wanted to write books, having won first place in a short story competition when he was ten. Inspired by writes such as Ray Bradbury and Stephen King, Jonathan first discovered the crossover genre of literary/fantasy while reading Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. Jonathan grew up in New Zealand, dreaming of travelling to London and finally making the pilgrimage in his mid-twenties. Returning from England, he settled in Australia, the country he now calls home, and decided to take his writing seriously.
BookBlast Giveaway $100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 9/22/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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14. Disemblance Book Blast

DiSemblance Jason Tanner’s life has always been different from the ordinary citizen’s. It started when he was an infant and his parents were only teenagers. A computer science prodigy, Lloyd attended MIT but left a pariah in the eyes of the school’s dean—but a computer physics genius in the eyes of his primary investor. Then his theories and ideas created a holographic machine and their world shrunk as contact with the outside world became less and less frequent. A computer prodigy now himself, Jason is about to learn that the world never waits for you if you have the ability to change it: it will come for you. Detective Bruce Durante has been handed the case of the Comfort Killer, a serial killer so named because he appears to abduct terminally ill patients before returning their corpses to their families in refrigerated coffins. When he picks up the trail, it leads straight to the home of Lloyd Tanner. Jason has been living life through the world of Lloyd’s invention and wishing he could carry on a relationship with Boston, the beautiful girl next door. When his father is murdered and framed as the Comfort Killer, he is brought back to reality in a hurry. He is forced to destroy all of the planted evidence—and finds he is being targeted as the killer’s new fall guy. But the secrets of his father’s invention run deep and Jason, his brother Isaac,Boston, the Comfort Killer, and Detective Durante hurtle towards one another on a deadly collision course that leaves everyone’s life hanging in the balance.
Author Shanae Branham I am a professional writer with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and a minor in grammar. I have also attended several years of classes and workshops in screenplay writing at the Los Angeles Screenplay writer’s Expo. I love suspense thrillers and am a master at plot and character development. I enjoy stories with happy endings. I promise all my readers that when they put one of my books down or walk away from one of my movies, they will be enthused with excitement and joy. This does not mean there will not be some sad parts, because you have to feel the bitter in order to understand the sweet. In fact, I have struggled with Dyslexia my whole life, so you can imagine how overjoyed I was when DiSemblance won a Silver metal in the fantasy/science fiction category at the eLit awards in 2012.  
disemblance tour

 BookBlast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 9/13/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.   a Rafflecopter giveaway

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15. Doing Dialogue Right, Part IV

Punctuation is a spice. Used in moderation, it enhances food. Used in excess, it ruins food.  Periods, commas and question marks are pretty mild spices. You’ll need these pretty often, though they can be overused as well.
Exclamation points are just one of the potent spices that can easily make your literary work less palatable.
Sometimes, people think that using more (!) makes things come home with even more force. The overwrought multiple (!!!) that you see on Facebook has no place in a serious manuscript. Use only one at a time and use them sparingly. Use the content of the words and the action to emphasize without relying only on punctuation to drive your point home.
“I’m so excited to see you!!!” screamed Becky.
“I’m so excited to see you!” screamed Becky, jumping up and down.
It is also not a good idea to use (!) with (?) If it is a question, simply use the (?) and then let context do the rest.
“What are you talking about!?” asked Mr. Jones.
“What are you talking about?” asked Mr. Jones, narrowing his eyes and flaring his nostrils.
In both instances, you are showing the emotion in a more concrete, interesting way without going overboard with (!).

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16. The Silver Strand Book Blast

silver strand

The Silver Strand Ever since twelve year old Isabelle Tresdon’s silver strand of hair sprouted, it’s been nothing but trouble: bleeding pink dust and sparking like a firecracker. Refusing to be known as the girl with the freaky, grandma hair, she wishes it never grew and the hair withers and tarnishes. The only problem is, the strand is Isabelle's source of magic, and she can transform particles of energy into matter. It's also her ticket into Mastermind Academy, a secret school inside the earth’s core. Five days remain before the strand drains her magic and life, forcing Isabelle to enter into a deal with two trickster Masterminds to save it. But what she doesn't count on is there is more at stake than just her life. The Silver Strand, a MG Fantasy Adventure for 9-12 year olds, is book 1 in the Mastermind Academy Series.

Author L.J. Clarkson One thing you need to know about LJ Clarkson is that she tells BIG lies. She tells everyone that she gave up her career as an Environmental Engineer and Project Manager to write full time. But that's not entirely true. Ten percent of the time she sleeps in. Fifteen percent of her day, she spends surfing the internet, researching for new books and her business. Ok, fine. Two percent is for research. But she's only admitting it so she doesn't end up like Boldrick. For eighteen point seven five percent of her day, she runs her promotional and support site for authors, called Indicated (www.indicated.com.au). The rest of her time involves writing, reading, watching movies and TV, walking her dogs and falling asleep whenever her boyfriend talks technical computer lingo. Truthfully, she hates early mornings, mondays, grammar (yuck! just ask her poor editor!), broccoli and cleaning. If you would like to drop her and line and let her know what you think of the book, she would love to hear from you. Just not before 8:30am in the morning.
  Excerpt “Did you know Isabelle has a silver, alien antenna?” Bimouth’s voice sang out over the shouts and chatter of the school bus, capturing everyone’s attention. “In science class, a magnet flew out of Mr. Higgins’ hand and stuck to her antenna. How freaky is that?” Isabelle’s back pressed against her seat. Bianca leapt up like a jack-in-a-box. Her voice came out as a hiss. “Shut your face horse mite or I’ll shut it for you.” Looked like the bus ride might end in death. Bigmouth turned to face Bianca. “What if Isabelle’s antenna, like, turns us into alien zombies?” A chorus of whispers broke out. Catching the bus was a very bad idea. Isabelle prayed again for that black hole to open up and suck her in. Better yet, she wished it would gobble up the bigmouth. Isabelle tugged on Bianca’s arm and said in a low voice, “Just cut it off.” Her friend’s eyes softened. “You sure, Boof?” “The hair’s caused nothing but trouble since it sprouted.” The little voice inside Isabelle’s mind begged her not to, but she didn’t listen. “Ok.” Something in Bianca’s school bag rattled as she riffled through it. She yanked a pair of scissors free. Isabelle’s gut clenched as her friend laid the strand between the blades. “Wait!” She suddenly felt unsure about whether to get rid of it. What if it were special and magical like Bianca had said? A magnetic hair, although cool, was hardly magical. Isabelle decided to test it. Closing her eyes, she willed her strand to turn Bigmouth into a toad. But Bigmouth’s voice still carried throughout the bus. “And in gym class, like, she bled this weird, pink dust.” “Definitely an alien,” someone nearby agreed. So much for Isabelle’s strand being magical. “Cut it,” she said, exchanging a sideways look with Bianca. Her friend squeezed the handles together. Fuchsia-colored sparks shot out and scalded Isabelle’s right cheek. The strand sizzled and hissed like a firecracker, drawing the attention of Bigmouth. She shrieked like a real girl. “Look! Isabelle’s antenna’s on fire.”  
silver strand tour
  BookBlast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 9/15/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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17. Writing Dialogue Tags

Exclaimed, Declared, Trumpeted, Gushed, Enthused!
These are all different tags I’ve seen on manuscripts I’ve edited. Personally, I wouldn’t use any of them. I’m not saying that you couldn’t get away with using them, but the problem is that they draw attention to themselves in a way that you don’t want them to. They say to the reader “Look, this a novel! Look at my creative description of the dialogue!”
Dialogue tags are there just as nuts and bolts. They clear up confusion and hold things together. Let the way that the character’s speak, and what they do convey the tone of speech. For example:
“I’m so angry,” thundered Steve’s boss.
“Steve, how could you?” said Steve’s boss, grabbing him by the lapels.
It’s the old adage of showing not telling. Trust your readers to pick up on these cues. They will quickly get lost in your story rather than noticing how much a character “gushes and enthuses.”

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18. Keep of Reign Book Blast


Keeper of Reign Books written in blood. Most are lost, their Keepers with them. A curse that befell a people. A Kingdom with no King. Life couldn’t get more harrowing for the Elfies, a blend of Elves and Fairies. Or for sixteen-year-old Jules Blaze. Or could it? For Jules, the heir of a Keeper, no less, suspects his family hides a forgotten secret. It was bad enough that his people, the Elfies of Reign, triggered a curse which reduced the entire inhabitants to a mere inch centuries ago. All because of one Keeper who failed his purpose. Even the King’s Ancient Books, did not help ward off that anathema. Now, Gehzurolle, the evil lord, and his armies of Scorpents, seem bent on destroying Jules and his family. Why? Gehzurolle’s agents hunt for Jules as he journeys into enemy land to find the truth. Truth that could save him and his family, and possibly even reverse the age-long curse. Provided Jules doesn't get himself killed first.  

Author Emma Right Emma Right is a happy wife and homeschool mother of five living in the Pacific West Coast of the USA. Besides running a busy home, and looking after their five pets, which includes two cats, two bunnies and a Long-haired dachshund, she also writes stories for her children. She loves the Lord and His Word deeply, and when she doesn't have her nose in a book, she is telling her kids to get theirs in one. Right worked as a copywriter for two major advertising agencies and won several awards, including the prestigious Clio Award for her ads, before she settled down to have children.

Keeper of Reign copy
 BookBlast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 9/5/13 a Rafflecopter giveaway   Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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19. Helga: Out of the Hedgelands Blog Tour

Helga tour


Helga: Out of the Hedgelands
Twelve-year-old Helga has more danger in her life than most beasts her age—Wrackshee slavers after her, a vicious attack by bandits that nearly kills her, a race against dragons pursuing her, and leading a daring rebellion to save her life and rescue friends and family from the insidious WooZan. And that is just the beginning. But what do you expect when you are a young beast who just can’t see the stupid rules of the world making any sense? Helga can’t accept things as they are and ends up taking on not just one, but two all-powerful, supreme tyrants in two different realms. Helga never intended to lead a revolution. It just sort of happened because she wouldn’t go along with the “rules of normal” that keep tyrants in power and entire societies enslaved. Beginning on a dangerous quest to solve some mysteries in her own past, Helga leads her quirky comrades on a journey that will not only forever change them, but upset ancient civilizations. As an author, I’m drawn to eccentric, unexpected characters: those who surprise because they hear a distant galaxy, see a different music, create their own fragrance rather than get hooked on a soundtrack; the child who has her own ideas about how the emperor is dressed; the lunatics and rebels who tell stories on the boundaries. Helga’s unusual story will take readers to worlds they never imagined—definitely a whole new ride. Time and again, the unconventional heroine and her eccentric comrades overcome ominous tyrants and black-hearted slavers, not by battling to the last beast standing, but by being the first beast to think differently. Helga: Out of Hedgelands is divided into three books which introduce the epic saga of the Wood Cow clan and their role in overturning centuries of slavery and tyranny. This story will continue in additional volumes of the Wood Cow Chronicles now in development. Over the series of current and future volumes, the entire history of the Wood Cow clan, the fall of Maev Astuté, and the coming of Lord Farseeker to the Outer Rings, will be told.  
Book Trailer  
Author Rick Johnson I am a native of the Great Plains, having grown up on a farm in the Platte River Valley of western Nebraska. I love the wild beauty of the Plains and nearby Rocky Mountains--the too hot, too cold, too empty, too full of life extremes. Typically, the awesomely diverse and the awesomely stark are much the same, even as they are different. Although I have lived in Michigan, North Carolina, and British Columbia, the western plains, mountains, and desert are in my heart. As my day job, for over thirty years I have been a faculty member and administrator in higher education. Teaching broadly in the liberal arts, including creative writing, my professional publications include educational materials, poems, and 28 stories for young readers. During my spare hours, I have also collected and carefully studied the records of former times upon which the Wood Cow Chronicles are based. It is my privilege to bring this astonishing saga to light. The Wood Cow Chronicles have been researched and written with the irreplaceable assistance of Barbara, my beloved wife of more than thirty-five years, and our children. Indeed, the essential research into the history of the Wood Cows has been conducted during the odd hours of family reading and storytelling "around the campfire" as we say--even when there is no campfire! This research continues and grows richer as our family expands across generations and continents.  

Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 9/3/13   a Rafflecopter giveaway   Helga Excerpts Suddenly the kayaks slowed, pausing about twenty yards away—close enough that the Wrackshees’ awful stench covered the area with a suffocating blanket. Using only hand signals to communicate, the slavers silently peered here and there for any sign of their prey. The razor-sharp tips of dozens of small throwing lances, carried on bandoliers slung over the Wrackshees’ shoulders, shone red in the moonlight. Helbara knew that terrible things happened to beasts hit by those poisoned tips—going mad with thirst, eyes bugging, bleeding the color of grass. Each time the gaze of a Wrackshee seemed to fix on the spot where they were concealed, Helbara trembled on the edge of panicked flight. To do so, however, would mean certain capture or death. They were trapped. With every ounce of inner strength, Helbara held her panic in check. __________________ FoRoar-2036 gasped for breath, struggling to climb the steps in the biting cold. Every muscle in his body protested. He was too tired to go on. Every sense told him he was too weak to continue. Yet, still he went on, his breath shooting out in great white clouds. Gasps of moist breath, instantly shock-frozen into icy puffs, marked his progress. He clutched his sacred stone tightly to his chest. The heavy stone made it hard to keep his balance on the ice-covered stairway, worn to a slippery gloss by the constant pad of reed-boots passing over the ice. “Can’t walk...any...further...AIEEEIYAHHH!...” FoRoar-2036 hesitated in confusion, wondering in his semi-frozen stupor if the fearful scream was his own. Too late, he tried to grasp the cloak of the Hedgie walking in front of him. Clutching vainly after the flapping folds of his friend, he watched helplessly as SaRimm-2036 collapsed from cold and exhaustion, and pitched sideways off into the abyss. FoRoar-2036’s eyes filled with icy tears, but he kept walking. He had no choice. Barely inches separated one stair-climber from another in a line that stretched for miles in both directions. Step, step, step—the stair-climbers endlessly moved up the stairway toward the castle, Maev Astuté, each bearing his or her own sacred stone. To stop in such a line, on such a narrow and treacherous stair, with no guardrail or helper except one’s own courage, could mean that dozens might stumble and pitch off into the abyss. The line could not stop—no matter what. __________________ The key to a successful run of the dragons to the Hedgelands was speed. Once the monitor caravan was loaded and the monitors were fully awake again, the monitor train had to make the passage between Norder Crossings and the Hedgelands before the monitors grew ravenously hungry again. A skilled Dragon Boss knew precisely how to make the run to the Hedgelands with great speed. Mudpot was the best of them all. Stuff the monitors with shark, load while they dozed, then as they began to stir, set a swift—and tasty-smelling—runner at the front of the caravan. For the runners it was a chance to escape the fate of the slave works at Tilk Duraow. As the runner ran for life and freedom, the monitors raced after the scent of their next meal. The faster the runner, the faster the caravan traveled. If the runner was fast and strong enough to endure the grueling race, he or she might stay just ahead of the monitors all the way to the slave works and win freedom. Runners that faltered or stumbled became an impromptu snack for the monitors. A Dragon Boss wanted the fastest, strongest runner possible. A failed runner meant delay and other problems as the lead monitors snacked, and then turned sluggishly sleepy—while the rest grew dangerously restive. The delay could be even longer if replacement runners turned to “shakes and gibbers”—quivering piles of terrorized flesh unable to stand, let alone run. When “shakes and gibbers” struck it could hold up a Dragon Train for days while new runners were brought from Norder Crossings. __________________ “TEEA-CHT! YAHT! YAHT! TEEA-CHT! FLY YA SLITHER-BOBS! FLY! YAHT! YAHT” The long lash curled again and again, whistling through the air above the monitors before cracking loudly—just nicking the tail of each monitor on alternate lashes. The monitor train flew wildly down the road, rattling and clattering, careening around corners and sweeping through villages and towns—scattering beasts in the road to the right and left as they dived to safety. The noise of an approaching monitor train emptied the streets of villages long before the monitors actually ran through. Mothers pulled their wee beasts away from the windows and slammed the shutters tight. Mudpot’s constant cries of “TEEA-CHT! YAHT! YAHT! TEEA-CHT!” mingling with the fearsome hissing and blowing of the monitors at the runner’s heels could give wee ones nightmares for many a day. And no beast wanted to be bitten by a monitor or, worse, lunch for the monstrous lizards. “PASS AWAY YAS’T FLEA-PICKERS! YAS’T BE OUTTA THE WAY OR YA’LL BE DRAGON FOOD! TEEA-CHT! YAHT! YAHT!” Yet, as the monitors raced past, creating a terrifying spectacle with their hissing and Mudpot’s profane yells filling the air, even the mothers who frantically shielded their children peeked through cracks in the shutters. Frightened though they were, there was a fascinating attraction in the terrifying spectacle passing by. The only thing a runner was supposed to do was run for life itself—and Helga ran as she had never run before. Mile after mile she sped along as if in an unbroken series of all-out sprints. Gasping, flushed, pumping the air with her arms—swilling a little saliva around in her dry mouth as if it were water—the hot breath of the monitors just at her rear. She stumbled at times, but never broke stride. It was twenty-three miles to the Hedgelands and only a wild-beast’s dash could save her. ___________ “So, the gentle, humble WooZan is not so gentle and humble, eh?” Breister observed. “Some WooPeace!” he said with a hollow laugh. “Oh, it’s gentle and peaceful, all right,” Janty said speaking rapidly with excitement. “If the Council of Inquiry decides someone should die, they are simply blindfolded and conducted deep, deep into the uncharted, deepest parts of the cave system and left there. No one hears from those poor souls ever again. That’s exactly what she’s got in mind for you! We’ve got to get you out of here. This was not a good idea!” “No, Janty, not so fast,” Helga replied in a determined voice. “Let me think. We have until tomorrow at least. I have my flicker-pole for protection. If they try to take us, I’ll bring every bird within 20 miles in on her head. No, we’ll be O.K. We are not going to simply run away. That is probably what she most wants to happen. Either we change our minds and join the WooPeace, or we flee—that’s what she hopes. But she did not count on how determined a Wood Cow can be.”

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20. Midnight Masquerade Highlight

midnight masMidnight Masquerade Stavos Voronin was not as blind-eyed as many nobles and royals. Evony’s physical gestures—even the simplest movement of her hands—revealed that she had not always been destitute. The same was true of the children—of their polished manners and the boy’s knowledge of horses and tendency to be bold and fearless of strangers. Ah yes, Stavos enjoyed a good mystery. After all, interest in the inexplicable circumstances surrounding the royals of Abawyth was the very thing that had lured him to the kingdom—the enigma of Abawyth’s twelve sleepy princesses. And yet now—now his mind was all the more intrigued. Not only was the obscurity of what had caused the profound and baffling torpidity of Abawyth’s princesses laid out before him, but also he found his curiosity intensely piqued over the riddle surrounding the very lovely Evony and her siblings. As Stavos strode through the village resting on the outskirts of Abawyth Castle, his mind reeled with possibilities. His musings were drawn back to why he had come to Abawyth at all—to solve the conundrum surrounding the twelve beautiful princesses of Abawyth kingdom—to solve the seemingly impenetrable crux and thereby win the hand of one of Abawyth’s princesses, as his father, King Letholdus of Ethiarien, had commanded.
    marciaAuthor Marcia Lynn McClure Marcia Lynn McClure’s intoxicating succession of novels, novellas, and e-books, has established her as one of the most favored and engaging authors of true romance. Her unprecedented forte in weaving captivating stories of western, medieval, regency, and contemporary amour void of brusque intimacy has earned her the title “The Queen of Kissing.” Marcia, who was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has spent her life intrigued with people, history, love, and romance. A wife, mother, grandmother, family historian, poet, and author, Marcia Lynn McClure spins her tales of splendor for the sake of offering respite through the beauty, mirth, and delight of a worthwhile and wonderful story.
    Book Blast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 9/13/13 a Rafflecopter giveaway

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21. The Dreaded 'ly"

Beware the dreaded –ly.  Most of the times that it crops up in a dialogue tag, it has no business being there. Dialogue tags should be as inconspicuous as possible.  The thing about using adverbs with your dialogue tags, is that you can usually convey the information with a more precise word.  For example:
“I found the key!” he exclaimed triumphantly.
First, if you are using an exclamation point, it is redundant to say “exclaimed”.  Secondly, “triumphantly” is a long one that doesn’t add a lot of meaning. Picture something doing something triumphantly. That is not a concrete picture. People show triumph in many different ways. (Lifting the key in the air “Legend of Zelda” style, dancing around, grinning and giggling…)
How would you fix it? Think about the following example.
“I found the key!” he cried, hoisting it over his head.
This way gets rid of the adverb, makes a less conspicuous dialogue tag, and creates a more concrete picture.
Any other suggestions?

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22. Goddess GIrls Book Blast

Persephone the Daring (Goddess Girls #11)
Mortal rock star Orpheus steals the spotlight in this Goddess Girls tale of love and lyres!Orpheus is a mortal rock god, and the girls at Mount Olympus Academy are wild about him! With his lyre and singing voice, Orpheus can charm pretty much anything—even things like stones and trees. But Hades and the other MOA boys aren’t charmed. In fact, they are less than thrilled that the girls are so gaga over this guy. His fans are especially excited about his latest song about the girl he loved and lost, Eurydice. Orpheus was devastated when he lost Eurydice to the Underworld, so he asks Persephone to help get her back. Though it means breaking some very serious Underworld rules, Persephone pushes Hades to return Eurydice to the living world. But restoring Orpheus’s one true love might jeopardize Persephone’s own chances with her biggest crush...
Praise for The Goddess Girls
“…a clever take on Greek deities…” ~ Booklist "Readers familiar with Greek myths should get a kick out of this plucky restaging." ~Publisher's Weekly “…an enchanting mythological world with middle-school woes compounded by life as a deity…” ~ School Library Journal
The Goddess Girls Series
The Goddess Girls series, by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams puts a modern spin on classic Greek myths. Follow the ins and outs of divine social life where the most privileged godboys and goddessgirls in the Greek pantheon hone their mythical skills.
  • Athena the Brain Finding out she’s a goddess and being sent to Mount Olympus brings Athena new friends, a weird dad, and the meanest girl in mythology—Medusa!
  • Persephone the Phony Hiding her feelings works fine for Persephone until she meets a guy she can be herself with—Hades, the bad-boy of the Underworld.
  • Aphrodite the Beauty Sure Aphrodite is beautiful, but it’s not always easy being the goddessgirl of love.
  • Artemis the Brave She may be the goddess of the hunt, but that doesn’t mean Artemis always feels brave.
  • Athena the Wise Zeus says Heracles has to do twelve tasks or he'll get kicked out of MOA! Although she's not sure it's wise, Athena agrees to help out.
  • Aphrodite the Diva Isis claims she's the goddess of love? Ha! But to keep the title all to herself, Aphrodite has to find the perfect match for Pygmalion, the most annoying boy ever.
  • Artemis the Loyal It’s time for the annual Olympic Games, and Artemis and her friends are not happy. It’s boys only. Not fair!
  • Medusa the Mean Medusa wants to be more like her two sisters and the other kids at Mount Olympus Academy -- immortal. Is that too much to ask?
  • The Girl Games (Goddess Girls Super Special) Listen in on what all four goddess girls are thinking as Mount Olympus Academy hosts visitors from many lands--including an adorable kitten!The first-ever standalone superspecial in the Goddess Girls series!
  • Pandora the Curious Pandora is one of the few mortals at Mount Olympus Academy—and probably the most curious of all the students in school.
  • Pheme the Gossip As the goddess girl of rumor and gossip, Pheme prides herself on being “in the know” and having the most up-to-date info on anyone and everyone at Mount Olympus Academy.
Author Suzanne Williams Suzanne Williams is the award-winning author of nearly 40 books for children, from picture books and easy readers to chapter books and middle grade fiction series. A former elementary school librarian, she lives near Seattle. Her picture book Library Lil (illustrated by Steven Kellogg) won the New Mexico children's choice award in 2000 and was on several other state award lists. She is co-author (with Joan Holub) of the popular Goddess Girls series(for ages 8 - 12) and Heroes in Training (ages 6 - 11). Other series include Fairy Blossoms and Princess Power.
Author Joan Holub I graduated from college in Texas with a fine arts degree, and then freelanced as an art director at a graphic design firm for eight years. I dreamed of working in children's books, so I moved to New York City and became associate art director in Scholastic trade books, where I designed books for children and worked with editors and illustrators. It was a great job. I illustrated my first published children's book in 1992 and soon began illustrating full time. I began completing manuscripts and mailing them out to publishers in the early 1990s. In 1996, I sold my first two manuscripts -- Boo Who? A Spooky Lift-the-Flap Book (Scholastic) and Pen Pals (Grosset & Dunlap). Yippee! Now I write full time and have written and/or illustrated over 130 children's books. Creating books that entertain, inform, and interest children (and me) is a fabulous job that I truly love.
Book Blast Giveaway$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 8/22/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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23. Doing Dialogue Right Part I

First, how do you like the new version of the site? I think it looks a lot cleaner, and will be easier to navigate. The text space is wider and not white on black, which I think looks better. I'm open to any helpful suggestions. 
Here's my writing post for this week: 
One of the first things I notice about a writer’s style is their use of dialogue.  It is one of the hardest things to get right in writing, I find. The problem is, we don’t talk in full sentences. Take the following instance.
“Hello, James. It is very good to see you today.”
“You too, Emily. The weather today is perfect, don’t you think?”
“Yes. We should go on a picnic today.”
Though each one of these sentences is perfectly grammatically correct, the exchange sounds a bit stilted.  People rarely talk that way.  It would sound more like:
“Hey, James. Good to see ya.”
“You too. Nice weather, huh?”
“Yep. Picnic weather.”
If in doubt, it is usually a good enough test to read your dialogue out loud. Are there places where you stumble? Does anything sound awkward? That’s probably where you need to rework you dialogue. It also helps to have others read passages you are not sure about out loud to see what someone who didn’t write the dialogue thinks about it.

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24. Taking Care of Your (Writing) Pets

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because I got two writing genes and no editing genes. 

Taking Care of Your Pets
All of us have "pet words" or "pet phrases". Want to know what they are? Ask someone to read your manuscript, and they will probably be able to tell you. You may not even know that you are using them, but like a beloved pet, they come to you time and time again as long as you keep feeding them.

Pet words and phrases can be distracting. For example, I was listening to a book on tape once and noticed how many times the author used the word "commented" instead of "said" or something else. For fun, I picked up the sequel as an audio book and kept a running total of how many time the author used "commented" or one of its forms. Total: 70 times. Now, everyone has their different tastes, but I think "commented" is something that should show up in a novel once or twice, if at all. Those are a lot of syllables to talk about sound coming out of someone's mouth.

Now, I only point this out as a good example. I'm guilty of things like this as well. Here's my list of top offenders:

That and

Many of these words are filler words and should be used sparingly anyway.  I keep a document of these words and any others I find and do a search of them in my manuscripts. I then look and see if I can get the overall total down, which usually sharpens my writing. 

What words do you find yourself overusing? How else can you cut down on them? 

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25. What's On Your Wish List Event

What's On Your Wish List Event

Organized by: Mom Powered Media

Prizes: $1,000 {visa gift card, amazon gift certificate or select your favorite store}
Event dates: 11/1 - 12/1
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Requirement to join:
* No more than 2 blogs per person allowed
* Agree to post the giveaway html on the date the event begins and promote at least 3x a week

Bloggers: Sign Up HERE

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