"Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not Book 1" by D. S. McKnight

INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY
Of Dreams and Shadow:
Forget Me Not Book 1
by D. S. McKnight
Of Dreams and Shadow is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an interview with the author. You can also enter the giveaway for your chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card or a $10 Starbucks gift card. Be sure to visit all of the other tour stops as well.
Description
We live. We die. Is there anything more?
Jenna Barton is about to find out. After moving to the coastal North Carolina town of Parson’s Cove, Jenna has unwittingly stepped into the middle of a mystery involving a missing child. Unfortunately, the predator is still on the loose and Jenna has become his new obsession.
With a little luck and a bit of paranormal help, Jenna might survive.
Excerpt
         The day was almost over and not a moment too soon.  A brisk wind moved through the treetops as Jenna strolled to the large stone at the back of her yard.  Sitting down, she leaned against the boulder and closed her eyes.  The oyster roast would have been nice, if not for Chase.  It seemed as though the shadow of his disapproval loomed over her entire day.  Not for the first time, she wished she could go back home.  Charlotte was familiar and safe.  She didn’t have to worry about why an angry neighbor didn’t like her.
         Jenna looked back at her house.  Her mom was inside going over reports.  It wasn’t like she could talk to her about Chase anyway.  Karen was one of those people who took the bull by the horns.  She would be knocking on the Williams’ door wanting to talk about “the problem” between their children.
         Chase.  She didn’t understand him and wasn’t sure she wanted to.  But time and again, she found herself thinking about him, wondering why they didn’t get along.  She tried to put him out of her mind but he was always there – at school, with her friends, even at home.  Part of her wished she had never met him, but the other part of her was intrigued.  She would never admit tin, not to anyone, but she found herself comparing Chase to Ethan.  Ethan, with his dark hair and blue eyes made her laugh.  Chase, whose light brown hair looked as though it had been kissed by the sun, more often than not made her want to cry.
         The sun had set in the western sky and as the shadows of the eventide crept close, bringing with it the frosty night air, Jenna’s solitary vigil came to an end.  It was as though her thoughts had conjured him.
         “Got it, Mom,” Chase called as he walked out the back door carrying a garbage bag.  He rounded the corner of the house and dropped the bag into the trash can.  Jenna debated on whether to run to her house or to stay hidden in the darkness.  Instead, she forced herself to walk.  She refused to act as though she had done something wrong.
         “Good night,” Jenna said as Chase secured the gate.
         Chase whirled around.  “What are you doing out here?”
         “Nothing illegal.”  Jenna shrugged.  “Forget I said anything.”
         “Wait.”  Chase walked to the fence that separated their yards.  “That didn’t come out right.  I just meant to say you should be careful.”
         “Right – because we know how rampant crime is in Parson’s Cove.”  Jenna rolled her eyes.  “Tell you what, why don’t you come up with a schedule of when I can be outside and then you won’t have to see me.”
         “How about this, why don’t you go back to Charlotte?  That should take care of the problem,” Chase snarled.
         “You’re a real jerk.”  Jenna walked the last few steps to her house, refusing to give into the urge to scream.  She had to admit it.  Chase was right.  Moving back to Charlotte would take care of the problem.  She’d never have to see his face again.
Book Trailer
Review
This book was recommended to me by a friend. I usually do not have much interest in fiction, but I found this book different. The characters are awesome, and once I started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down. I hope the author continues this story, and I would seriously love to see this as a movie as well. I have recommended this book to a few family members and friends. So far, those who have read it have found it very entertaining. For me this was a great find at a good price.
Interview With the Author
Hi Deb (D. S. McKnight), thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
I think Robert Cormier had quite an influence. His novel Tenderness really struck a chord with me. It dealt with very broken people and I think it liberated my writing – I felt like I could tell my story without worrying that it was too dark. 
What age group do you recommend your book for? 
It’s classified as Young Adult – I don’t think anyone under 14 should read it. When I wrote the book, I had older teens and adults in mind.
What sparked the idea for this book?
When I was little, my mother found me in a state of panic – I was upset because I thought my shadow was going to get me … I had to ask myself “What if it had been trying to get me?” And Of Dreams and Shadow was born.
Which comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?
For me, the idea for the novel comes first and then the characters start showing up.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
There’s a scene when Liza finds out the truth about her missing child. That scene was really difficult to write. I had to go to places emotionally that I didn’t want to visit.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
Obviously, I hope the readers enjoy the story. If I have done my job than the readers will be looking over their shoulder making sure nothing is after them.
How long did it take you to write this book?
It took me about three years – but I had very limited writing time during that period.
What is your writing routine?
I wish I was one of those people who can write after work. Unfortunately, my brain won’t shut off if I’m writing at night. This leads to insomnia – not a good thing when I have a full-time job. So, I write on the weekends.
How did you get your book published?
I self-published.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Hire an editor. You only get one chance to make an impression. Most people will be forgiving of an error or two but too many and you’re toast.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I enjoy going to the beach in search of sea glass, taking pictures, and hanging with my family.
What does your family think of your writing?
They are very supportive but I know if I’ve been locked away too long – they start finding excuses to interrupt me. 
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I grew up in a very small town. When I think back, I was really lucky. I played in the woods, floated on inner tubes in the river, and worked at a fish house “heading” shrimp. 
Did you enjoy school?
I enjoyed school with the exception of math. I hated classes like algebra and geometry.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
I loved reading. 
What was your favorite book as a child?
My second grade teacher, Mrs. Hardison, would read to us each day. She introduced me to my favorite story – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Who were your favorite authors as a child? 
S. E. Hinton (The Outsiders), Jim Kjelgaard (Big Red), William H. Armstrong (Sounder)
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 
When I was in high school, I wanted to be a reporter.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
I think so – probably in more ways than I am aware. 
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I tend to hear more from people who are familiar with the North Carolina coast. They identify with Parson’s Cove.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’m working on the sequel – as yet unnamed. I’m really excited about it. When I initially wrote Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not, I intentionally left it with an ending that a reader wouldn’t see coming. I hadn’t decided whether or not, I wanted to continue the story. But – there was a character that just kept popping into my thoughts … I can’t wait to get finished telling her part of the story because I have another brewing in the back of my mind.
Thanks so much for stopping by today, Deb.
Thanks for inviting me to your blog and for participating with my tour! 
From the Author

When I was a little girl, I was afraid of my shadow – seriously afraid – running and screaming afraid. Perhaps I’ve always been a victim of an over-active imagination and maybe that explains the monsters hiding under my bed, the ghosts lurking in my closet, and the Shadow that inspired my first novel –  Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not.  I have always loved to write.  While in school, I dreamed of being a reporter, parachuting into war-torn places and getting “the story.”  In reality I’m afraid of heights and would never jump out of a perfectly good flying machine. I have been fortunate enough to have had a varied career – from working as a DJ for a small radio station to serving as the president and part owner of a marina. I am married, have three sons and live in coastal North Carolina.

Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card or a $10 Starbucks gift card.
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"First World: A Walker Saga Book One" by Jaymin Eve

BOOK BLITZ
First World:
A Walker Saga Book One
by Jaymin Eve
First World is book one in the Walker Saga, a seven-book paranormal fantasy series. Also available: Spurn: A Walker Saga Book Two. Crais – the burning planet: A Walker Saga Book Three is due for release early 2014.
This book blitz is brought to you by Reading Addiction Book Tours. Please visit all of the other tour stops as well.
Description
A young adult paranormal romance series.
An epic journey.
If the Seventine are released, will anyone survive?
Abigail Swish might not love her life, living in gang-ridden New York in 2035 and training to fight and survive with Compound 23. But she is grateful for a few things, especially her no-filter-between-brain-and-mouth best friend Lucy and her escape each night into a dream world far different from her own.
In fact, sometimes she lives for the fleeting moments she spends at night with the man who fuels every romantic fantasy she’s ever had. But each morning reality returns. She could just cry. But she won’t of course; tears don’t change a damn thing.
Then without any warning, a month before her eighteenth birthday, everything does change. A guardian finds her. He explains, in a strangely familiar accent, that she was stashed on Earth for safekeeping and has been lost to her family ever since. And it is time to return home. To the First World; a land of unimagined beauty.
Abigail and Lucy find themselves escaping New York, ending up on another planet and traversing through an unforgiving wilderness. Yeah, because that sort of thing just happens every day. Luckily an unexpected saviour arrives; the man from her dream-world. Brace is six-and-a-half feet of gorgeous perfectness, wrapped in an arrogance like no other. Unable to trust his assistance, and unsure which of her instincts to follow – kiss him or punch him in the mouth – Abigail eventually accepts his help to find her family.
And what a family. Enter Josian, her father; larger than life and apparently not even human. He is Walker, a planet-less race revered as gods, causing mischief and mayhem through-out this star-system. Unfortunately, there is no time for a cosy reunion, since no one explained that by returning to First World her half-Walker genetics would act as a catalyst setting forth a chain of events which could spell disaster for not only her existence but that of all worlds.
Excerpt
Something close to worry – disbelief maybe – crossed his features. “You dreamed of home? How is that possible on Earth? It’s a dead zone.”
I shrugged. Dead zone?
“You should have gone to ‘dreamland’ many years ago, Aribella. It has other names, but once again I find myself with too many stories and not enough time.”
“Why …?” I looked around. “Why am I still here then?”
“Could someone speak in English? Just for five minutes.” Annoyance replaced Lucy’s usual cynicism.
“We need to get Aribella back now; the countdown is on for both of these worlds. And it is too dangerous to be roaming New York.” He sighed. “The reason you’ve been here for extra years is … I don’t have the power … and I lost contact.”
Lucy glanced at each of us in turn.
“I’m really hoping when you say Aribella needs to go to dreamland, you mean Lucy and Aribella, and you just forgot about me.” She turned to me. “He just forgot me, right, Aribella? Crap. Sorry …” She grinned. “It’s a catchy name.”
I shook my head and sighed. “I’m not leaving without Lucy, no matter how annoying she is.”
Quarn had paced a few steps away toward the alley entrance. He spoke over his shoulder. “You cannot go, Lucy Laurell; this is no place for an Earthling. You must stay here.” 
Did he just say –? Hell. NO.
“I’m going to ignore that. Implying I’m some type of alien … well, it’s just rude.”
“Are you kidding me? Don’t ignore it.” Lucy interrupted me to glare at Quarn. “What do you mean: Earthling?” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “Is Abby an alien?” 
I groaned. It was time for the conspiracy theories. 
“I knew it.” She was triumphant. “There is no way someone gets to be as gorgeous as Abigail and then is also tall. On top of that her lips are full and perfect and naturally red without one ounce of lipstick. Come on, it’s not natural.”
“You’re not natural,” I retorted weakly. 
Lucy was always harping on about how unusual my lips were. I was just happy they matched the blood-red of my hair and not the black. 
Lucy glared. “Oh, I’m sorry, Extraterrestrial. Where’s your other skin? Green not your color?”
Quarn interrupted. “Sorry to cut this short. As amusing as the pair of you are, we need to move before the Gangers regroup. I’m good, but even I have my limits.” He was standing near the entrance to the alley, scoping it out. 
“I’m. Going. Nowhere. Without. Lucy.” I had to spell it out.
He looked between us for a second before nodding. “It does not matter. I don’t have the power to send one of you there, let alone both of you.”
“How do we get more power?” Lucy looked around eagerly. “I’m ready – we digging for coal … oil?” 
I laughed. Fossil fuels. We’d have more chance of finding a magic wand. 
He shook his head. “Nothing on Earth. The dead zone is more encompassing than we’d ever anticipated. I’d need a storage amulet, which is rare; a sacred stone, even rarer; and, as a last resort, a power on the other side to assist.”
I smiled in delight. “Quarn, this may just be your lucky day.” 
Review
My first ever book review, but I was excited to find a book that is so different from the usual paranormal romance type AND written by a new, young author that I really wanted to encourage it – and selfishly because I want to make sure we get the rest of the series!
I think I have read books about every type of science fiction and fantasy scenario out there, but this is a refreshingly new approach. It mixes a gritty post-apocalyptic type earth with all the best features of a magical fantasy world, without becoming bogged down – it is a fast paced story, with well-developed, engaging characters and an intriguing story line.
This book is definitely suited to the ‘young adult’ target audience, and is a bit lighter then my usual reads (I’m 42 btw), but it crosses the boundaries by having such likeable characters with a lot of quite witty, tongue-in-cheek banter. Abby and Lucy are fun and have great attitude, bouncing quips off each other with a lot of pizzazz. For some fun escapism, I really enjoyed this book, and (as a guilty pleasure) I’m waiting eagerly for the rest of the series!!
About the Author
Jaymin Eve is 28 year old with a passion for reading, writing and arithmetic … okay maybe not the last one but definitely the first two.
Living on the beautiful Gold Coast, in Australia, the family loves spending lots of time on the beach. And travelling as frequently as possible.
When Jaymin isn’t trying to wrangle two daughters, a puppy and her husband, you will find her hiding in a corner trying desperately to write her stories (without little fingers pressing random keys). She asks forgiveness if you notice the occasional sskkkkssjs appearing in her book, her children are proud of their contribution.

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"Death of the Mad Hatter" by Sarah J. Pepper

NEW RELEASE and REVIEW
Death of the Mad Hatter
by Sarah J. Pepper
Death of the Mad Hatter by Sarah J. Pepper has just been released. You can read my review below. You can also join the Facebook online release party for your chance to win some great prizes.

Description
If the king loses his head, then the Queen with a Bleeding Heart would rule the Red Court until Time ceased to move forward. When a second carried on for infinity, every creature in Wonderland would tip their Hat to the misfit girl with a Boy’s name (or was it a boy with a Girl’s name?) who’d end the Reign of Terror. However, it all hinged on the One-Eyed Hare being able to convince an uninspirable Heir that the impossible was indeed possible – like stopping time – and that Love was worth a Beheading.
Heads would Roll…
Hearts would Break…
In the end, would it matter who Reigned?
Excerpt
The Queen of Hearts kissed the King one last time before the Joker ripped the King’s head from her hands and tossed it alongside the rest of his body. The queen’s personal guards picked up the pieces and clumsily carried the dead king out of sight.
No one spoke. Only the sound of a ticking clock interrupted the stunned silence of the night. Standing next to the pool of blood, the queen let a love-letter the king had written slip through her fingers. It made no noise as it cascaded to the floor.
Appearing out of thin air, a Cheshire kitten, affectionately named Chez, who was distinguished by his white and blue stripes, playfully pawed at the letter. Extending his claws, he shredded it. The queen did nothing. When the Joker bent over and reached for the remaining pieces of the letter, the kitten bit him, drawing blood. Chez’s hair stood on end as he guarded the letter.
“If you want to play dirty, may I suggest a play date, Chez?” the Joker asked, inspecting the bite mark. His voice was as innocent as a child, but the look in his beady eyes was that of a psychopath’s. “I have all sorts of modified toys collecting dust in the dungeon.”
“Don’t antagonize the Joker, Chez. He is a bit of a schizoid,” Hearts said, picking up the kitten. She stared at the pieces of the love-letter for so long that her eye twitched. “Burn it so that no one finds out that the king loved a seamstress.”
The Joker picked up the pieces and fisted them. The recipient of the letter showed through his fingers. Dearest Genevine — He held his hand up to his mouth and blew. Pieces of the letter flew into the air and burst into flames. They flickered and fell to the floor in a pile of ash.
“I’m required to scold you for leaving your sharp toys scattered all over, Joker. It’s a pity the king had to pay for your untidiness,” Hearts said, glancing at the guillotine that was drenched in the king’s blood.
“Then I shall only take out my biggest toys when you order me to do so… again,” the Joker said and winked. “Since this is a hush-hush operation, I assume you don’t want me to kill the seamstress? Oh! Or perhaps she could have a misfortunate accident as well?”
“No, that would be far too coincidental,” the queen said, as a matter-of-fact. “Keep her alive. Isn’t it fitting that she must live, knowing her lover is dead? Oh, and see to it that she never leaves Wonderland. Everything considered, she is still the most talented seamstress in the court, and I’ll need someone sew me a black dress to wear at King Edward’s funeral.”
***
The Jack prophesied: If the king loses his head, then the Queen with a Bleeding Heart would rule the Red Court until Time ceased to move forward. When a second carried on for infinity, every creature in Wonderland would tip their Hat to the misfit girl with a Boy’s name (or was it a boy with a Girl’s name?) who’d end the Reign of Terror. However, it all hinged on the One-Eyed Hare being able to convince an uninspirable Heir that the impossible was indeed possible—like stopping time—and that Love was worth a Beheading.
Heads would Roll…
Hearts would Break…
In the end, would it matter who Reigned?
“Reign of Terror—everyone acts like it’s a bad thing,” the Queen of Hearts said, reading the script that Jack, the prophesier, had scribbled on an ingredients page of a violet book entitled, Sweets for the Rabbit Hole Voyager. The Mad Hatter’s crest, M.H. and a top hat, was printed on the top of every odd number page inside the book.
Hearts tore the last stanza from the Bleeding Hearts Prophecy, crumpled it into a ball, and smashed it between the pages of The Lazy Killer’s Poisons, another of the Mad Hatter’s works.
What a silly notion—dying for love. Ugh! (Cue eye-roll)
However, the faux love of her life did “misplace” his head, and he was king, until today. These two happenstances made Hearts believe that the Bleeding Heart Prophecy was about her and that her head would roll. And furthermore, it always mattered who reigned!
She pushed both of the Mad Hatter’s editions back onto the shelf, but made sure the one about poison was flipped upside-down, just to see if any of her feline servants would notice the disarray of her library. With her hands behind her back, Hearts stepped down from her golden step stool and paced around the library, which was filled with more books than anyone could read in a single lifetime.
“I have no heirs,” Hearts said, thinking out loud. “But Robby will make a fuss about sitting on the throne if I don’t act in haste. I’ve never been fond of hares. Hence, it would behoove me to damage the reputation of all the rabbits in my court, just in case this Bleeding Hearts Prophecy holds some weight.”
Wandering aimlessly around her library, she spotted a speck of dust on the third shelf. She walked over to the fainting couch and rang a silver-plated bell. Quickly, a glaring of cats raced through the door. They stood at attention on a glittering line that Hearts drew years prior, when she still loved the king.
But, that was a long time ago.
All of the cats toed the line, except for the little Cheshire kitten, Chez. His butt was high in the air as it got ready to pounce on a hopping bug near the king’s personal chambers.
“It’s filthy in here,” Hearts said as she walked past each cat, giving them a look of severe disapproval. She stopped in front of a black cat whose tail fluttered whenever she passed. “You have forty eight seconds to remove the dust I located in this room, or you’ll spend a week in solitary confinement with the Joker.”
In a panic, the cats raced around the polished library, frantic to locate the speck of dust that the queen spotted. The smaller cats flipped onto their backs and let the bigger cats use their furry bodies as dust rags. In the meantime, the queen collapsed onto a golden couch. The Cheshire kitten, who missed the formation on the glitter line, pounced on the cushion beside her. A feisty grasshopper wiggled in his mouth.
“What did you bring me, Chez?”
Chez dropped the grasshopper on the queen’s lap. The bug wore a tiny dress coat with the King’s initials and a torn heart on them: E.E. The bug wheezed, which made the kitty’s incisive purr grow louder.
Chez pawed at the grasshopper and said, “I found this creepy-crawly snooping around in rooms where it didn’t belong, like the king’s chamber.”
“Spare me from this vile kitten, my Queen! I did nothing wrong,” the grasshopper begged. He held up a miniature violin and a mangled rod. “I was only near the king’s chambers tonight because he enjoys my music before resting. I barely cracked his bedroom door when this feline attacked me! The king would never allow such behavior; so unbecoming!”
Hearts petted Chez behind his ears and talked in a baby voice when addressing the grasshopper. “Haven’t you heard? The king had a terrible misfortune earlier this evening.”
Every single cat in the library skidded to a halt. Their eyes glowed in the darkness of the night. The grasshopper swallowed noticeably hard.
“The Joker’s guillotine broke his fall,” Chez said.
“Accidental beheading,” the queen recited. “I was beside myself with horror as it happened. I’ve already spoken to the Joker about leaving his toys around. It shall never happen again.”
“Eddie, the King of Hearts, is not clumsy,” the grasshopper said and cleared his throat. He glanced at the other cats. One shook his head ‘no’ like it was a plea for the bug not to disagree with the queen, but the grasshopper didn’t listen. “Eddie would never have accidentally tripped on the weapon.”
“Are you calling me a liar, grasshopper?” Hearts spat.
“I’m saying that Eddie was not clumsy,” the grasshopper said, nervously.
Hearts’ cheeks were beat red. She was panicking.
“Edward, not Eddie,” Chez corrected, “tripped over me and fell onto the Joker’s big boy toy.”
“That’s right!” the queen said, giving Chez a quick pat on his head.
“That’s not what I saw when I was on my way to play for the king,” the grasshopper said and then slapped his hand over his mouth.
“Did you see something to contradict my claim?” Hearts lowered her face so that she and the grasshopper were eye-level.
The grasshopper shook his head. The more visibly his legs trembled, the wider the queen’s smile grew.
“Leave us, my glaring,” Hearts demanded. “The grasshopper and I have much to discuss regarding this unfortunate accident.”
The cats scampered out of the library, leaving Chez behind. The grasshopper’s eyes darted to the exit when the last cat locked the door behind it.
“Well, the King might have tripped over an unsuspecting kitten right before the Joker lost his grip on the guillotine rope, but Edward took the risk of death when he broke my heart!” The queen blinked away a nonexistent tear. “Edward wanted to leave me and our so-called loveless marriage, for a seamstress! Leave me? For a seamstress? Can you imagine my humiliation?”
The grasshopper took off hopping toward a window that overlooked the room belonging Edward’s brother.“Robby! Robby! Help me!”
“Sic him, Chez!” the queen ordered.
Chez disappeared, only to reappear on the windowsill. The kitten flicked out his claws. He slashed the red drape, allowing the moon’s light to shine through. It glistened on Chez’s claws. After jumping off the windowsill, Chez circled the injured grasshopper. When he came to face with the grasshopper, he got down on all fours. His butt went up in the air as he fixated on the grasshopper with blood thirsty eyes.
The grasshopper gulped and with his last breath, he shouted, “Hearts killed him, Robby! She pushed him over Chez so he’d land on the guillotine! Long live the rightful king, Robby Edg—!”
Book Trailer
Review
The Queen of Hearts beheads her husband, King Edward, after finding out he has been having an affair with the Seamstress. Because of the Jack’s prophesy, the Queen is now on the lookout for a boy with a girl’s name (Ryley) or a girl with a boy’s name (Alice, also known as Al) who will bring about the end of her reign. Alternately told from Ryley’s and Alice’s points-of-view in the present and through Alice’s past visits to Wonderland, we slowly piece the story together. It’s a puzzle worth solving.
Even though it’s inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, this is a highly original story, full of dark humor, nonsense, quirky characters, and riddles. It is a fine tribute to Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The main character is even named after Lewis Carroll’s inspiration for his Alice, Alice Mae Liddell. There are a few minor editing errors but, overall, the author’s writing style makes this book a pleasure to read. I loved the dynamic between Ryley (a normal high school student) and the eccentric Alice, and I especially liked the description of Ryley’s and Alice’s first kiss. This is definitely an author to watch.
From the Author
I specialize in dark, paranormal romance – think “happy ever after” but with a twisted, dark chocolate center. Real-life romance isn’t only filled with hugs, kisses, unicorns, and rainbows. True-love can be more thoroughly described in times of darkness and tribulation. It’s in those harsh moments where you see what a person is truly capable of – both the good and bad. Sometimes prince-charming isn’t always on time, and the glass slipper is a little snug. However, it doesn’t mean Charming is not Mr. Right, and who says every shoe is the perfect fit?
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"The Fairies of Turtle Creek" by Jill K. Sayre

FREE on iTunes
NEW RELEASE
The Fairies of Turtle Creek
by Jill K. Sayre
The Fairies of Turtle Creek is Jill K. Sayre’s first novel. It is a fantasy suitable for young adults and children aged 9 and up.
The ebook will be FREE on iTunes on 29 November, 2 December, and 26 December. On those days, it will be ON SALE for $0.99 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It will be listed at the discounted price of $3.99 (save $4.00) from Thanksgiving Day (28 November) to Christmas Day (25 December) on iTunes, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble (excluding the days previously mentioned).
Description
Claire Collins is a scientifically-minded 8th grader living in Highland Park, Texas, near Dallas. Her home life changes dramatically when her brother leaves to fight in the Iraq war, and she fears her world will be even more disrupted when her estranged and eccentric grandmother comes to live with her. Grandma Faye begins telling about her own life as a 13 year old in the 1920s, through stories, diary entries, and old letters, including the fact that she believes in fairies of all things! At first, Claire is skeptical, but soon strange occurrences down by Turtle Creek make Claire question what she thought was impossible …Could fairies really exist?
Excerpt
Lacey and I walked along the creek bed on our way home every Friday, but on that particular day, strange things began hap­pening. As we hopped from rock to rock, our balance was thrown off by the heavy backpacks we carried, and our feet slipped into the water now and again. Splash! Splotches of sunlight broke through the greenery overhead, flashing across our faces. The warm air whispered reminders that summer vacation was just around the corner.
“I can’t wait ‘til we can do this all day long!” With my arms straight out, I spun around, my feet sloshing in an ankle-deep pool. I slid on the slimy creek bottom and almost fell, teetering over far to the right. But, finding my balance, I landed and struck a superhero pose. “Ta-da!”
“Easy there, Claire,” Lacey laughed. “Ya nearly wiped out!”
“Are you saying that wet school books wouldn’t be a very good thing?”
Lacey raised an eyebrow and tilted her head, a smile bursting on her lips. “No, it wouldn’t.” Standing there, her black hair gleaming in the sun, she looked so pretty and confident. It was no wonder that she had so many friends. I caught my own reflection in the water and sighed.
“I’ll try to be more careful, Lacey, but hurry up. We’re almost to the stone bridge.”
We continued along the wet, rocky creek, edged with trees that quietly cheered us on with their waving leaves.
“There it is.” I pointed at the great grey arch made of giant stones just as we came around the bend. As we got closer, the cement plaque in the middle got clearer: “1913.”
“Let’s sit on the bank and soak up a few rays,” I suggested, scram­bling up the vine-covered slope to sit atop a boulder.
Lacey climbed up the bank and sat on the rock next to me.
“All of this here goopy moss is getting on my new water shoes.” She frowned and began picking the green muck off of the toes of her pink spandex with a long stick. “And it smells so musty in these parts.”
“I told you to bring an old pair of tennis shoes for creek hiking.”
“Sorry, Claire, but the shoes you’re wearing are far from fashion­able,” Lacey replied, bobbing her head from side to side.
“Who cares about fashion when you’re in this mini-ecosystem? Down in this creek bed, creatures, plants, and lots of algae grow as if they’re in a cool forest. We are in a microclimate. They don’t real­ize they’re really in a hot, dry city.” I spotted a smooth stone on the ground next to me and stretched my arm down to pick it up. I studied it—all grey with a nature-made hole in the middle. Cool.
“I love how the hustle and bustle of the world passes overhead while we are down here in a calm, organic place. We’re in what they call a chasm.” I held up the stone and stuck my finger through the hole to illustrate.
“Chasm—really, Claire? You’re always using such big ol’ words.” Lacey examined the rubber soles of her shoes. They were caked with green mud. A gush of air came from her lips. “I give up,” she said, tossing her stick to the ground.
“Shh! Did you just hear someone say something?” I looked around for another person, slipping the holey stone into my pocket.
“Hear what? I was just saying that I give-”
“Just listen a sec.”
We sat there quietly. At first we heard only birds chirping and water trickling, but then it happened again.
She’s coming! She’s coming!
“Did you hear it that time, Lacey?”
“I did. Someone’s whispering.”
“Who’s here?” I called out, jumping to my feet, searching the banks.
“I think it came from under the bridge,” said Lacey.
“Come look with me.”
Lacey stayed seated on her rock, wide-eyed.
“Lacey, I need you for moral support. You wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to me, would you?” I gave her my best sad puppy look.
She rolled her eyes. “All right, but I’m bringing a weapon.”
Lacey got off her rock, picked up the stick she’d been using to clean her shoes, and hurried over to me.
I saw how tightly her hand was clenched around the stick. “Are you scared?”
“Maybe a little. The voice didn’t really sound human. It sounded strange.”
“It’ll be okay. I’m sure there’s a logical explanation for what we heard.” I grabbed her other hand. “I’ll show you.”
Wading through the water, with backpacks on, our shadows looked like two Ninja Turtles. Just when we’d reached the inside edge of the bridge bottom, we heard the hiss of She’s coming! She’s coming! again, but this time it was mixed with squeals of Soon! Soon!
“Goodness gracious!” Lacey quickly wrapped her arms around me, still clutching her stick. “There are many voices!”
We froze, standing just inside the arching blackness.
“Hello?” I called. “Who’s there?”
We waited, but there was no answer. “Let’s go in a little further.”
Lacey gulped really loudly and I could feel her body trembling. Huddled together, we cautiously took a few more steps into the dark.
Book Trailer
Review
Being a long time friend of the author’s, and having never read any of her writing, I opened her book for the first time with anticipation and curiosity about her ability to create a worthy story and to maintain the readers interest. I was completely impressed on many levels. First, as an artist myself, I found beauty starting with the soft, whimsical cover, continuing throughout the novel, with graceful lettering for each chapter title paired with charming drawings of impeccable detail. Second, the story has a perfect blend to appeal to a pre-teen and teen audience. It embraces family issues (brother leaves for war, grandmother moves in), mystery, romance, science and nature. Third, the author’s descriptive writing enables the reader to vividly imagine the characters and surroundings. I highly recommend this magical story!
About the Author
Born and raised in southern California where flowers bloom year-round, Jill K. Sayre loves plants and gardening. She grew up in a small town, just outside of Los Angeles, full of beautiful Arts & Crafts homes, with her antique-collecting parents. While attending UCLA, Jill modeled and received her degree in Art. She continued on to receive her Teaching Credentials in Elementary Education, specializing in gifted learners.
Her husband’s work moved them, and their three children, to Dallas … twice. She fell in love with the beauty found in Highland Park, Texas where she resides today. Her first book, The Fairies of Turtle Creek, is woven with the things she loves, like nature, science, art, folklore, and the early 1900s. Jill illustrated the beginning of every chapter and much of the story takes place along Turtle Creek, where she often walks her vizsla dog, Bella.
Jill currently works at an acting college, instructing teens in the areas of acting, modeling, and etiquette. She loves to help other writers and speaks on “Want to Write a Book? Let’s Get Started!”, and assists parents by sharing her educational strategies when she speaks about “How to Help Your Child Become a Better Reader”. She is active in her local chapter of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), is the founder of a Dallas writer’s salon, The Little Read Writing Hood, and is co-chair of the 18th annual Highland Park Literary Festival.
She is currently working on a different trilogy, the first book of which is called Grotesque, with gargoyles that come to life. There are also plans for a second book in the Fairies series, which is set in Maui, Hawaii, with sea sprites, mermaids, and the Hawaiian fairies called menehunes.
Links

"The Jammer and the Blade" by DJ Edwardson

NEW RELEASE
The Jammer and the Blade
by DJ Edwardson
The Jammer and the Blade is the latest release by DJ Edwardson. You can read an excerpt and my interview with the author below. You can also enter the Books Direct Christmas Giveaway for your chance to win an ebook copy of this book or DJ’s earlier novel, Into the Vast, of which you can find out more in another blog post.
Description
For Sun li the Code is more than a way of fighting; it’s a way of life. Truth, honor, faith: these are the true strengths of a warrior. But her beliefs are not enough to save her father from the wasting disease ravaging their planet.
The only hope for a cure lies in the hands of an underworld insider, whose price requires Sun li to follow him into a war between drone armies and cybernetically enhanced humans. There, she’ll need more than her energy blades and the Code to survive. Saving her father, and herself, may be a test of faith beyond anything she could have imagined. For, as the Code teaches, sometimes the most difficult battles are the ones we fight within.
Excerpt
Sun li stared at the freshly cut arcoiris flower. Its rainbow petals were still crisp and buoyant, their color undimmed even in the fading light of her father’s shop. It lay on the counter, a bright splash of nature amidst the brown, overcrowded shelves stuffed with tea boxes and packets of incense.
“So what’ll it be? Will you take the job or not?”
The man asking the question looked up at her from the other side of the counter. He wore a worn military vest that was black and gray with a silver diagonal stripe across the chest, but Sun li could tell he had never fought a day for the Delegation. Every soldier Sun li had ever seen was an auger, someone who had been physically augmented to be superior to ordinary humans. Some of them for speed, some for strength, some for other, darker purposes that only those high up in the Delegation knew about. Weapon implants, artificial limbs, enhanced senses, anything to give them an edge in the Delegation’s wars.
The man in front of her was no soldier. Her sister probably could have bested him without breaking one of her manicured nails. He was short, had bloodshot eyes and a nervous tick on the left side of his mouth. And as if there were any doubt, he reeked of gutrot, the undersider’s beverage of choice.
“I need some time to think it over,” Sun li replied, though she knew she didn’t have any time left.
She didn’t want to take this job. The man hadn’t given her many details, but he had said the job would take them to Silenia. That was at least a day’s journey away and her father was far too sick for her to be away from him that long. Besides, she told herself, she wasn’t qualified for infiltrating a military installation. Most of her jobs had been on the back streets of Bracken, chasing dishonest merchants or hunting down undersiders who the Delegation had posted a reward for.
However, none of that mattered when she looked at the arcoiris. On the humid world of Kess, these rainbow-colored flowers were rarer than a day without rain, but somehow this low-life had gotten his hands on one. He was either fabulously rich or as desperate as she was. And judging from his soiled clothes and rancid breath, she had little doubt as to which of those was the case.
He grabbed the flower off the counter and unfastened his satchel. “Well, I’m sure I could always buy the services of some other blade with this,” he said. “So I’ll just take my business -”
“Wait,” she said, her hand darting out over the top of his. “I’ll take the job.”
The man gave her a curt nod. “Excellent,” he said, flipping his hand and allowing her to take the stem. “I knew there was a high probability you would accept my offer. I look forward to working with you.” He turned to leave, but she moved to cut him off.
“On one condition,” she said, staring at him with her dark, narrow eyes. “I don’t kill innocents.”
The man shrugged, “You won’t be killing any innocents on this job. I can promise you that.” He smoothed down the silver stripe on his coat as if that were some sort of sign that he would honor his word.
“All right, then,” she said. “You’ve got yourself a blade.”
Review
GREAT work; and very nicely written. I’m not even totally done with it yet, and I’m finding it a great deal at $1 folks. Sun Li has it rough, and seeing her try to get through things is pretty tense at times. Hope to read more!
Interview with the Author
Hi DJ, thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, The Jammer and the Blade.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
I’d say principally the work of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. I think you might have heard of them? Tolkien was the first fantasy I’ve ever read, and though I didn’t stumble upon Lewis until later in life, he had a huge impact on me. And I’m a fan not just of their fiction, but I have a deep respect for their non-fiction, particularly that of Lewis who was one of the most clear thinking writers of the twentieth century. A couple of essays which they wrote had a huge impact on me: specifically, “On Stories”, by Lewis and, “On Fairy Stories”, by Tolkien. Both of them were masters in their own way and I can only hope that their influence shows through in my writing.
What age group do you recommend your book for?
I actually read this book aloud to my family and based on their response I’d say about nine and up. There are some scary, tense moments, some battle scenes, things younger kids would probably find frightening, but other than that, I think it reads well for older kids on up.
What sparked the idea for this book?
I’ve had the main character in my head for many years and then one day the idea for the “mission” she gets hired for at the beginning of the book popped into my head and I just felt she would be perfect for it.
Which comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?
I think for me the idea almost always comes first, though in this case it was the character. But as I said before, I didn’t really have her in this story or even know much about her until I got the idea for the basic plot of the book.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
The ending. I ended up re-writing it and I think it came out much better the second time. The original ending was shorter and too abrupt and I felt it just left too many questions unanswered. Going back and expanding it, I felt much better about it and hopefully the readers will as well!
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I hope this book causes readers to reflect on the importance of family and faith, on the need to not stray from what you know is true.
How long did it take you to write this book?
You know, I think it was about three months all told, including the editing. The first draft went down very fast, but then the editing took longer than I had anticipated. Overall though, it came together pretty quickly.
What is your writing routine?
Hmm … I guess I start out with and outline and then once that’s down, I jump right in. I do almost no editing during the first draft, I just plow through until it’s finished. Then it’s just edit, edit, edit. It usually takes me three or four drafts before it’s ready to be read by anyone and then it’s off to beta-readers, more editing, and then finally off to the content editor and finally the line editor and boom – instant book! Ha ha, not really.
How did you get your book published?
I was submitting to literary agents for about a year and getting only form letter rejections. No one was really interested in my book. And one day I realized that I didn’t really want to work with any of these agents I was submitting to anyway. I didn’t like the books their other clients were writing, I was just doing this because that was how I was told the system worked. Then I read a post by an independent author about how she had published her book on her own and I started to consider that possibility. It took me another six months or so after that, but finally, after doing a lot of research and setting up a website and making a trailer for the book I took the plunge and published directly. And I don’t regret my decision one bit. I really like the creative control that being independently published gives me.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Write. Just put words on paper as fast as you can. Don’t worry if it’s terrible, just write until you are finished and then read it out loud. That is one of the best things you can do as you are revising it. That’s when you’ll know how good it is. And don’t beat yourself up if it isn’t perfect, just keep writing. You’ll get there. Just don’t stop.
Great advice, DJ. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Spend time with my family, especially playing games. I try to exercise and stay in shape, but sometimes I let it slide and just write instead. I actually don’t have a whole lot of free time these days. Most of the time I’ve got soccer practice or little league games to go to, so life outside of writing doesn’t give me a whole lot of wiggle room for extracurricular activities.
What does your family think of your writing?
They’re pretty supportive. Although my daughters rag me whenever someone dies in my books. They really don’t like that and it’s something I’m actually trying to be more mindful of. Death is very traumatic for kids and I think we can sometimes get numb to that since we’re exposed to so much entertainment these days. But I really appreciate their input and feedback. They are by far my biggest fans.
That’s great! Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I grew up in Iowa. I’d say I had a fairly normal, pretty happy childhood. I loved playing in the snow in the winter and playing touch football in the spring and summer. Nothing terribly out of the ordinary. I loved riding my bike around the neighborhood, watching Saturday morning cartoons. Basically I was a pretty average kid. My biggest accomplishment was probably getting my Eagle Scout badge. That and I was the fifth grade checkers champion at my school. Woo hoo!
Great achievements! Did you enjoy school?
Absolutely. School was where I could be a rock star. For me, getting good grades, following the rules, that was all I cared about. I was really good at school and I took a lot of pride in that. The thrill of getting a hundred on a test, bringing home straight A’s, it didn’t get any better for me than that. I know, sounds weird, huh? But learning can be a lot of fun if you approach it the right way.
Doesn’t sound weird at all. Sounds like me – and my daughter as well! Did you like reading when you were a child?
Surprisingly, no. I was much more interested in picture books early on. I wasn’t a big reader. I didn’t really start to hit my stride until my teenage years. That’s when I started to be a more dedicated reader. These days I still don’t read as much as I’d like. I’m pretty slow, actually, so it takes me forever to read a book. But I really do enjoy them. I tell people, “I’m not well-read, but I read well.” Hopefully that counts for something.
What a great saying! What was your favorite book as a child?
As I said, I didn’t read a whole lot when I was younger, but as a teenager it would probably have been the Dragonlance Chronicles. I read both of the series and even bought some of the short stories. I was really enamored with it back then.
Who were your favorite authors as a child?
Probably Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. I was also a big fan of Terry Brooks’ Shannara series.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’m a late bloomer, I guess. I’d say it was about five or so years ago. I was in a literature club and reading all this great fiction and it really inspired me. And then another member of the group mentioned that he was working on a story and it got me thinking about this book I had written a few chapters for years ago. It was just sitting on my hard drive and I thought it would make a really great novel. And so we started sharing our work back and forth. It was pretty rough going at first, but I kept at it and finally finished about three years and a zillion drafts later.
Good for you! Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
I’d say so. I was always fighting dragons and exploring new solar systems back then! Well, in my mind, anyway. I actually started writing a Choose Your Own Adventure book with my best friend in fifth grade, but we never finished it. I think we had about fifty pages. I still remember one of the characters. His name was Freznef Barino. What a great name, eh?
Sure thing! Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
You know, I’ve only been at this for one year and to be honest I do not hear from my readers as much as I’d like. I realize that I’m still relatively unknown so it’s understandable. All the same, I would love to hear from people! I’ve got a website and that’s that best place to get in touch with me.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
Book 2 in the Chronotrace Sequence should be out within the next month or so. It’ll be out in paperback and ebook format so look for it coming soon!
Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, DJ. Best of luck with your upcoming release.
Thanks so much for having me.
About the Author
DJ Edwardson spent two years working in Latin America after college. It was during that time that the ideas for the Chronotrace Sequence first started percolating inside his mind. Much later, after encouragement from a friend in a reading group he had joined, he started writing in earnest, publishing the first book in the series in 2012.
His favorite authors are J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. He likes to think that authors who use their initials are better writers but he can’t actually prove it. Although much of what he writes falls in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres, he likes to call his work “imaginative” fiction and often incorporates elements from multiple genres.
Into the Vast, Part 1 of the Chronotrace Sequence, is DJ’s first novel. He is currently at work on the second book in the series, which is due out soon. His short story, The Spirit of Caledonia, is also currently FREE.
Links

"Untethered" by Katie Hayoz

INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY
Untethered
by Katie Hayoz
Untethered by Katie Hayoz is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an interview with the author. You can also enter the giveaway for your chance to win some awesome prizes. Make sure you visit all of the other tour stops as well.
Description
Sixteen-year-old Sylvie isn’t comfortable in her own skin. In fact, there are times she can’t even manage to stay inside it.  But if there is one thing she’s sure of, it’s her love for Kevin Phillips. She’s willing to stake everything on it –her family, her friends, and possibly her soul.
Sylvie has been best friends with Cassie forever.  But everything is turned around when the boy Sylvie’s loved since fifth grade falls for Cassie. Devastated, Sylvie intends to get Kevin by any means possible, even if it involves treachery, deceit, and the dark side of astral projection. She is positive her plans will give her what she wants, but she doesn’t count on it all spiraling out of control.
Runner-up in the 2012 Mslexia novel competition, Untethered by Katie Hayoz explores the intoxicating and dangerous world of jealousy and obsession when coupled with paranormal ability. It is a touching, sometimes funny, sometimes heart-breaking novel that speaks to the self-doubt lurking in us all. 
Excerpt
Chapter Nineteen
A Memory: Stupid Girls
The summer we were ten years old, Cassie and I held our fingers over my mother’s biggest, shiniest knife and looked into each other’s eyes.
“Ready?” Cassie asked. Her eyes shone. She dragged her front teeth across the plump cushion of her bottom lip.
The knife was her idea, not mine. I would have gone with a needle.
But a few hours earlier Cassie had come over to my place with tears in her eyes, upset about her parents drinking. As usual.
There was never any violence. Never anything to get too freaked out about. But sometimes it wore her out. Like this time. This time she wilted against the back of the couch and whispered, “They barely notice I’m there.”
I laced my fingers in hers. We sat a long time, dangling our flip-flops from our toes, the too-sweet smell of honeysuckle coming in from the open windows.
Suddenly, Cassie sat up straight. Her left flip-flop dropped to the floor. “You’re my best friend, right?”
“Yeah.”
“We’ve been through everything together.”
We had. From what everyone called my ‘fainting spells’, to getting our pants pulled down by the neighborhood boys, to an attempt at running away, to living through Sam’s practical jokes. And more.
“And we’ll be friends forever? We’ll always be able to count on each other, right?” Cassie spoke quickly now, her grip on my hand getting tighter.
Her intensity wasn’t exactly scaring me, but it did make me squirm just a little. “Forever.”
She narrowed her green eyes at me. “Prove it.”
So it came down to this: An extremely sharp knife and an oath to always be best friends. Which is why we were standing there, in my kitchen, my mom’s cutlery in our hands and why Cassie’s face was flushed with satisfaction and mine with fear.
“The oath,” Cassie prompted. We said it together, our two voices melding into one:
Blood Sisters, blood sisters as long as we live. Always together. We always forgive.
Best friends forever, best friends for life. As proof we share our blood with this knife.
“On the count of three,” Cassie said.
“Uhhh … ”
“You can’t hesitate, Sylvie. If you hesitate that means you don’t take it seriously.” She fixed me a look that managed to be both demanding and pleading at the same time.
Where we gripped the handle, my palm was slick with sweat.
She started to count: “One … two … three …”
Both of us slid the pad of our index fingers down the blade at the same time.
The blood came first. Bright, bright blood. And then the sharp, stinging bolt of pain. The knife dropped to the tile floor with a loud clang. Cassie sucked in a huge breath. I stared at the red dripping onto my feet and cried out.
We’d been intending to rub our blood into each other’s cut. But before we could, I felt a prickle of fear and then nothing. Nothing at all.
Dizziness seized me as I hovered near a cobweb in the corner, watching as my mom ran into the kitchen and took control, her voice strange and surreal from where I was.
“What are you girls thinking?” she shrieked. “Do you know what kind of infections and diseases you can get from doing this kind of thing? You’re lucky you didn’t cut your fingers off!” From above I saw my body go limp, my head pitching forward and my legs buckling. “Oh, my Lord, Sylvie! Don’t faint!” When Mom thrust our hands under cold water, I came back to my body with a jerk. “Stay with me!” pleaded Mom as she shoved my raw and aching finger further under the rushing tap.
Mom cleaned our cuts and wrapped them in Barbie Band-Aids. It was only then that Cassie and I touched fingers. We hooked them around each other and squeezed, the pain from the fresh cut throbbing up to our elbows. But no fluids were shared, so officially we were just two kids with deep cuts. Not blood sisters.
Even so, we took that oath — Band-Aids or not we took it. “We’re blood sisters,” Cassie says even now, six years later. “No matter how mad we get, we have to forgive.”
Or do we?
Review
Let me just start by saying that Untethered really took me by surprise. I was interested in reading it, sure, but I had no idea what kind of greatness I was in for. I am still blown away by the extent to which I LOVED this book! It is pure awesomeness. Period.
I’m not sure which moral I would apply to this story: be careful what you wish for, or you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. It’s actually a perfect blend of both, wrapped up in a superbly written paranormal twist. When I first started reading, throughout the first several chapters or so, I thought, “OK, this is a good book,” but there wasn’t any real WOW factor yet. But once this story ramped up there was no stopping it! I stayed up until four in the morning to finish it. It was so awesome, I didn’t even regret losing sleep. After three hours of blissful slumber, I grabbed myself two X-large coffees from Timmy Ho’s and kept moving right along. This has been the best book hangover ever. I didn’t even have the desire to start another book. I wasn’t ready to swim out of the Untethered world and dive into something else just yet.
Sylvie Sydell is your typical [paranormal tendency-sporting] awkward teenager with only one friend to her name – her neighbor and childhood friend, Cassie. Sylvie spends her days being tortured by the cool kids in school, and drooling over the boy she’s loved since he stuck up for her in fifth grade, Kevin Phillips. Unfortunately Kevin is one of the cool kids now and rarely looks in Sylvie’s direction. Between that horrific adolescent tragedy, and the fact that her parents have split up, which she thinks is her fault, Sylvie thinks her life sucks and would rather be anywhere, or anyone, else. As if that isn’t enough, Sylvie’s emotions are thrown into overdrive when her best friend, Cassie, blossoms into a beautiful girl over the summer and Kevin, the boy that Sylvie would do anything to be with, starts falling for her. Even Sylvie’s little brother, Sam – a freshman at their high school who is small and dorky – becomes popular in the “cool kids” circle. What other choice does Sylvie have but to go off the deep end?
She commandeers every weapon at the local K-mart and just starts hacking people up. It’s a bloody mess! They turn into zombies … No, I’m kidding! There are no zombies in this book. I don’t even recall there being a K-mart. But the plan she comes up with in order to gain control of her life will blow your freaking mind. Sylvie’s paranormal ability, added to her jealous rage and insecurity, makes her dangerous to everyone, including herself.
I read a lot of books that focus on badass heroines, so in the beginning of the book I remember thinking, “Jeez, this girl is so pathetic, and she’s doing it all wrong! Everything. She’s failing miserably at the game of life.” Sylvie had Nelson, a sweet blue-haired guy with black painted fingernails fawning all over her in Art class, but she was so obsessed with Kevin she couldn’t see it. I wanted to strangle her. I lost track of how many times I shouted at her during the course of this story. Her character development was incredible though. I quickly grew to love her, and was rooting her on as she made her transition to “the other side.” What that means, well… you’ll have to read it to find out. There are many sides to Sylvie Sydell and in the end I enjoyed every one of them.
Untethered is a book for everyone. This is a true YA novel that I will let my young teen read. It’s a coming of age story in a way I’ve never experienced before. It’s a no-brainer to give this book a five star rating. Katie Hayoz has made my list of favorite authors!
Interview With the Author
Hi Katie, thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, Untethered. Thank you for having me!
Which writers have influenced you the most? I’d have to start with Lois Duncan, since she was the author whose work I read religiously when I was a teen. Then there’s Margaret Atwood for the feminist literary lover in me, Stephen King for his ease at making anything scary, and Anne Rice for making the paranormal cool.
What age group do you recommend your book for? Thirteen on up. I think both teens and adults can enjoy it. Untethered isn’t just a story about astral projection; one of the main themes is self-acceptance. Many girls and women struggle with this. Learning to love ourselves for who we are, as we are, is not always easy.
What sparked the idea for this book? I read the book Stranger with My Face by Lois Duncan when I was in high school. It involved astral projection and that was the first I’d ever read about out-of-body experience, astral projection or the like. I was fascinated. I knew right away I had to write something involving astral projection.
Which comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel? For me, a novel starts out with an idea, but changes completely as I write it due to the character’s story. I never end up writing what I set out writing.
What was the hardest part to write in this book? The main character, Sylvie, is not your usual YA heroine. She’s not drop-dead gorgeous, isn’t a kick-ass warrior, doesn’t have some ancient supernatural secret to hide. She astral projects, but it makes her an outcast. She sees herself as a loser of sorts and is somewhat self-centered. All of these things add up to making it extremely difficult to write her as a character the reader wants to root for in the end, despite her flaws. Getting her to the point where we might begin to sympathize with her took me forever.
How do you hope this book affects its readers? Of course I want readers to enjoy it, have a good time. But I also hope it provokes thought on body image, friendship, self-acceptance and family.
How long did it take you to write this book? I wrote it on and off for about four years, focusing more on my family and job during that time. But the very first draft was written as a short story over twenty years ago.
What is your writing routine? I whine. I pout. I eat way too much. I write. Shred it. Rewrite. Rewrite again. I go in spurts. One day I’ll write for hours, then the next two I can barely get anything out.
How did you get your book published? When I send Untethered out to my agent, she loved the book and told me she thought it would be easy to sell. We had bad timing, though, and despite great comments on the story, 35 publishers decided they couldn’t sell it because according to them, the paranormal YA novel was dead. Even after it took 2nd place in the Mslexia novel competition, I couldn’t get Untethered traditionally published. So I decided to take the indie author route.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer? If it’s really what you want to do, never give up. Ever.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I eat popcorn, read, dance, watch home improvement shows on TV, and try my best to be a decent mom.
What does your family think of your writing? So far, they’ve been really supportive. But it’s not always easy to make writing a priority.
Please tell us a bit about your childhood. I grew up in Wisconsin, the youngest of six kids. My parents had thought they were done having kids when I showed up, so there’s a fairly large age gap between me and my siblings. For example, my oldest sister is 17 years older than I am. But I love that. It was like being both a sister and an only child at the same time. Plus, my parents were tired by the time I came along. I got away with everything. J
Did you enjoy school? For the most part, yeah, I did. I liked it because I knew exactly what was expected of me. I’m geeky like that.
Did you like reading when you were a child? As a child, somewhat. But as a teen, I adored reading. I think that’s where my love of young adult literature comes from.
What was your favorite book as a child? The Ice-Cream Cone Coot and Other Rare Birds by Arnold Lobel.
Who were your favorite authors as a child? As a young child, Dr. Seuss. But once I was a little older I loved Judy Blume, Lois Duncan, Beverly Cleary.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? I don’t know the exact moment when I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I remember going to the career counselor in high school and saying that’s what I wanted to do. She discouraged me and said, “You’d do wonderfully as a psychologist. Why don’t you think about that?” Good advice. All writers should spend their first year of college studying psychiatry. It shows you how insane you are to still want to be a writer.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing? I don’t know how my parents did it with six children. My mom worked non-stop around the house all day. But in the evenings, she would sit in her recliner with a bowl of popcorn and a book. No matter how much noise was around her, no matter what kind of chaos we’d create, she was lost to the world in her novel.  She always looked so interested – enraptured even – that I needed to try out reading novels for myself. The reading right away took me into writing. Authors were (and still are) my rock stars.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? I’d love to hear from them more often. What I get most is surprise – I think some readers picked up the book not thinking they would enjoy it as much as they did.
What can we look forward to from you in the future? I’ve sent my next novel out to beta readers to get some feedback for my final rewrite. It’s darker than Untethered, for a slightly older audience. I’d tell you the title but that is the part I’m having the hardest time with! Look for it in February. Anyone who signs up for my newsletter on my website, will receive the info as I have it, and maybe some extras, too.
Thanks so much for stopping by today, Katie. Best of luck with your new book.
About the Author
Katie Hayoz was born in Racine, Wisconsin, the youngest of six kids. Originally, she wanted to become Pope (for the awesome hat and fancy robes), but quickly realized reading was her true religion. Writing was always a hobby, but she decided to go at it seriously when she ended up in Geneva, Switzerland. Now she’s constantly at her laptop in the small apartment she shares with her husband, two daughters, and two fuzzy cats. She devours young adult novels like she does popcorn and black licorice: quickly and in large quantities.
Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of five ebook copies of Untethered, one paperback copy of Untethered (US only), one pendant (US only), or one charm (US only).
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"Fanged Outcast (Fanged Princess #2)" by Elisabeth Wheatley – Cover Reveal

COVER REVEAL and GIVEAWAY
Fanged Outcast
(Fanged Princess #2)
by Elisabeth Wheatley
Today I am proud to be taking part in this cover and title reveal for Elisabeth Wheatley’s Fanged Outcast, the second book in the Fanged Princess series. It is due to be released on 26 November. Also available: Fanged Princess.
Description
How much would you sacrifice for a love that wasn’t yours?
Hadassah managed to befriend her kind’s worst enemies and save her brother and the human girl he loves from the Vampiric King – once. After a month spent in quiet hiding under the protection of the Huntsmen, a surprise attack from a band of Kaiju shatters their brief reprieve. Faced with new challenges and new threats, Hadassah and the others must once more fight for her brother and the girl who stole his heart. And this time, the Vampiric King isn’t the only one they need fear…
Action, suspense, humor, and romance collide in this anticipated sequel from teen author, Elisabeth Wheatley.
About the Author
Elisabeth Wheatley  is a teen author of the Texas Hill Country. When she’s not daydreaming of elves, vampires, or hot guys in armor, she is wasting time on the internet, fangirling over indie books, and training her Jack Russell Terrier, Schnay.
Giveaway
Enter the giveaway for your chance to win some great Fanged Princess prizes.
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