Thursday, August 21, 2014

New Release Winner

The winner of the $20 Amazon Giftcard in the New Release - Angels Club Giveaway was Courtney Kay. Congrats! Thanks for participating.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book Blast: Angels Club and $50 Amazon GC Giveaway

NEW RELEASE -  Angels Club
Authors - Courtney Vail and Sandra J. Howell
Genre - Middle Grade General Fiction
Word Count - 55,000 words

  angels club 

Hola, Cuties! I’m Jacinda Gonzalez, almost twelve. Although I think I’m pretty nice, not to mention way cool and one of the most knowledgeable people in all things horse, I just can’t make any friends in my new school. The only things flying my way are totally rude insults. The horseback riding therapy farm where I volunteer becomes my perfect escape from mean bullies. And when Angel, a scrawny, muddy American Curly, shows up as rescue, no one but me can see her potential and lovableness, so I take her on as a project horse to get her ready for sale. But, the thing is, I don’t want them to sell her. She’d be so perfect for therapy. So perfect. Now, if only I could prove it. Anyway, Angel’s sugar-candy personality inspires me to be sweet in spite of bad things happening to me. So, of course, I can’t resist the urge to make the world a whole lot brighter. Come on in and see how I do it!   


Angels Club Website
CourtneyAuthor Courtney Vail In addition to writing quirky, twisty books for teens and adults, Courtney works from home as a graphic designer and book formatter. She's married to a should-be-famous comedian and has three kids who make her house LOUD and messy and do things like turn her veggie garden into Jurassic Park, but she thoroughly loves her life. She's a member of Authors Selling Books in Western Mass. Courtney is a major sports junky and loves to run, visit amusement parks (and ride all the roller coasters first), skate, cook, and watch standup or anything that cracks her up or makes her heart race or neck tingle. Angels Club is her first novel for kids. It was a blast to write, so maybe her crazy brain and fancy purple pen will find a grand adventure next time.

Sandra Author Sandra J. Howell Sandy is an avid horse enthusiast and was the first breeder in Massachusetts of the rare American Bashkir Curly horse. Her lifelong passion for Curly horses led her to write two Equine novels, Spirit of a Rare Breed and Saving GiGi. Howell, a college professor, has been a contributing writer, featuring the American Bashkir Curly horse, for Equine journals and magazines. She has been featured on television, radio talk shows and news media, and has received numerous letters from Native Americans thanking her for promoting and advocating for their favored steed. Howell is a founding member of Authors Selling Books of Western Mass and is a member of the Independent Publishers of New England. Her novels are showcased at the New England Equine Affaire and promoted through many Equine organizations.

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Book Blast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 9/15/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an 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 and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Blog Tour - Kissed by Kimberly Loth

Egypt ~ A Guest post by Kimberly Loth
Thank you for having me today. The last few months have been crazy busy with the launch of my first book, Kissed, and I’m so pleased with the way things are going. There are a lot of different things that I could talk about today, but I thought I’d let you in a secret. One that even my mother doesn’t believe.

I live in Egypt (nope, not the secret, everyone already knows that.) I moved here last August. If you follow the news at all you know that in August of last year the military got sick of protesters camping out in the street, warned them a dozen times to get out, and they didn’t listen. They forcibly removed them. Over five hundred people died. A curfew was instated. No one was allowed of the house after 7 pm. This all happened two days before my flight was scheduled to leave for Egypt.

I called my mother from the plane.

“You’re really going?” she asked.

“Yep, you want to talk to the kids?”

She did talk to the kids and I kept my conversation short with her. I didn’t want to hear “You’re crazy” again. Off I went on a two-year adventure with my husband and two middle schoolers. I’m a teacher and decided to try my hat at teaching in an American school in a different country. Was it hard when I arrived? Absolutely. But I’ve loved every single crazy minute of it. And in spite of what my family thought would befall me when I arrived, everyone is still alive.

You want to know the secret? In spite of everything you might’ve have heard on the media, Egypt is safe. Never once have I felt threatened. (Okay so every time I get into a cab I think the driver is going to kill me with his driving, but I’ve grown used to that.)

The curfew passed, the streets calmed, and life is normal. We’ve seen the pyramids, cave churches, and swam in the Red Sea. These are experiences of a lifetime for my family. If you’ve ever thought of visiting Egypt, now is the time. There are no tourists. You get whole pyramids and beaches to yourself.

Living in a foreign country has been an amazing experience. True, I have to go to four different grocery stores to find everything I need for dinner, but I can walk to all of them. My commute is 45 minutes in stop and go traffic everyday, but I use that time to write. One thing I didn’t expect in Egypt was all the green. I thought I was coming to a desert. But I look off my balcony window and all I see is green and a multitude of floral colors. Every month a different tree is blooming a different color. Right now it’s bright red. Last month it was purple.

When my two years are up here, I’m not going back to the states. I’m heading to another new and exciting country. We asked the kids last night during dinner if we could extend our contract if they wanted to stay. At first they said “yes,” but as dinner wore on I could tell they were both faltering. Finally, my daughter said, “But that means we won’t get to go someplace new.” Then they both shook their heads. We wont’ be staying more than two years. I highly recommend overseas living. The experience is worth it.

Kissed (The Thorn Chronicles)
by Kimberly Loth
Trapped in a dark cult, sixteen-year-old Naomi Aren has lived a quiet, albeit unhappy, life nestled deep in the hills of the Ozarks. With uncut hair, denim skirts, and only roses for friends, Naomi seldom questions why her life is different from other kids at school. Until the day her abusive father, who is also the cult’s leader, announces her wedding. Naomi must marry Dwayne Yerdin, a bully who reeks of sweat and manure and is the only one person who scares her worse than her father. Then she meets Kai, the mysterious boy who brings her exotic new roses and stolen midnight kisses. Kisses that bring her a supernatural strength she never knew she had. As the big day approaches, Naomi unearths more secrets of about her father’s cult. She learns she has power of her own and while Kai may have awakened that power, Naomi must find a way to use it to escape Dwayne and her father—without destroying herself.

Buy the book:  Only 99 cents.

About the Author Kimberly Loth can’t decide where she wants to settle down. She’s lived in Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Utah, California, Oregon, and South Carolina. She finally decided to make the leap and leave the U.S. behind for a few years. Currently, she lives in Cairo, Egypt with her husband and two kids. She is a high school math teacher by day (please don’t hold that against her) and YA author by night. She loves romantic movies, chocolate, roses, and crazy adventures. Kissed is her first novel.

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Book Blast: New Release and Giveaway - Angels Club by Courtney Vail and Sandra J. Howell

NEW RELEASE -  Angels Club
Authors - Courtney Vail and Sandra J. Howell
Genre - Middle Grade General Fiction
Word Count - 55,000 words

Synopsis: Nearly twelve, Jacinda Gonzalez collects insults rather than friends in her new school, but she finds escape from her bullies at the therapeutic riding farm where she volunteers. When a malnourished horse shows up as a rescue, she takes it on as a project horse, and the horse's sweet nature inspires her to spread kindness around to make a positive difference in the world. Appropriate for horse lovers of all ages.

Excerpt:  The tacked-on chores made it a long day of work for Kat and me. Emily helped out with some too. She especially loved opening the gate to let some of the horses out to play and graze.

After brushing Ginger and giving her the shiny apple I promised her, which she thanked me for with a sweet nuzzle, I dashed back to the barn holding the disheveled mare that was now my very own big project. Under all that dirt, I was pretty sure she was all white, but she could have some special markings too, which would be cool.

Kat and Em were still with her, talking about her current state of yuck. Man, I really wished they’d give her a break. She couldn’t help it, and this condition was only temporary.

“Awww,” I whined, rubbing her between the ears on her matted head. “Poor thing. Besides neglect, I wonder what other nightmares she’s been through. It’ll be dark soon. We don’t have time to beautify her today. We’ll have to tackle that huge task tomorrow.”

“Beautify her? Humph. Doubt that’s even possible,” Kat said, punctuated by a sneer.

“Sure it is. Have some faith, in her and in us. With a good wash, or a couple, and some grooming, she’ll at least look halfway decent, and definitely smell way better.”

Kat said, “I don’t know. She’s a walking disaster.”

The horse drooped her head low again and slowly munched up a blade of hay.

My heart ached for her. I really think she knows exactly what we’re saying. Or most of it. “She may be a walking disaster right now, but she has the most beautiful eyes ever. Did ya see ’em? They’re so gorgeous, they pull me right in. Not only do they hold so much emotion, look at those curly lashes. They’re like dainty butterflies.”

“What, do they speeeeak to you?” Kat mocked with a wiggly dance.

“Yes, they do, as a matter of fact. And they say, ‘I’m better than this. Don’t judge me.’”

“Hey, can I help you clean her up tomorrow? Please?” Emily cried with one clap and pleading eyes.

I looked at Kat for her opinion and she shrugged that she didn’t care. “Yeah, sure,” I said, “if your mom doesn’t mind you being here all day. Giving her a bath’ll be a lofty job. We’ll want to see if she’s been handled too. We can definitely use more helping hands.”

“No, my mom’ll be thrilled I found something to do on my own. She’s always wanting me to make more friends.”

I cringed with a lop-sided sneer because my mom was always nagging me about the same thing, but Emily’s frown and head droop said she’d read my expression all wrong.

“You don’t want to be friends?” she creaked. “I thought ... I thought...” Two giant tears rapidly formed and rolled down her cheeks in uneven streams. I didn’t think tears could form and melt that fast. “You two are the only kids who’ve looked me in the eye all week. Whether I’m on my crutches or in a wheelchair, people ignore me and act like they don’t see me at all.” Her voice started breaking like glass. “So, I was hoping, I mean, I just assumed ...”

“No! We’re friends, we’re friends!” I cried, cutting her off and waving my hands. “Oh my gosh. Please don’t cry. Of course we can be friends. I don’t have a single friend in school, not one. So when I did that whole face scrunch thing, I was thinking about how my mom’s always badgering me too, not that I didn’t want to be your friend. Sorry.” I looked at Kat with insistent eyes and a finger wave to back me up.

Kat nodded and rubbed Emily’s shoulder. “Yeah, of course we can be friends. We’re always looking for more friends, Em. So don’t flip.”

“Never. Trust me. You wouldn’t wanna see my cartwheels,” Emily said, smiling big at her own joke and wiping her eyelids.

We all fell into a fit of laughter at that. I was glad she had a sense of humor about her condition.

“Why would people not wanna look at you though?” Kat asked. “I don’t get it. You’re so crazy-adorable. Wish my curls were glossy like yours. All I have is a pompom.”

Emily bit her lip and her eyes got shinier. “Well, my mom says people feel sad or awkward when they see me in a wheelchair, or my funny walk, and they don’t want to offend me by staring or saying the wrong thing. But I’d much rather get a stare or a blunt question than the pretending-I-don’t-see-you thing I usually get.”

“That’s so awful,” I said, rubbing her upper arm. “Not to mention rude.”

“It so is!” Kat cried. “See? That’s why I like to be loud and sarcastic. Being short puts me below the eye level of most, but my big mouth makes me impossible to miss or ignore. You should try talking to people first, to break the ice and show off your inner sparkle. Jacinda and I can help you with that.”

“I’d love that. Thanks. Uh, I’m so relieved.” Emily patted her chest with both hands. “I thought I was getting ditched again.”

“Nah. We squabble sometimes, but we never ditch. Right, Kat?”


Emily wiped the lingering wet ribbons off her face, and the white mare, with her head turned, saw that and circled around and moseyed up to her. She rubbed against Emily’s face and licked her.

“Oh my goodness! What a lovey-dovey girl we have here,” I cried, patting our new equine friend. “She’s so sweet like Ginger and Sassy. Even after all the neglect and whatever else she’s been through, she’s trying to cheer you up and comfort you, Em. See? I told you there are some special horses who are just naturally angels.”

Emily curled her fingers under her nose. “Uck, although she stinks like she’s lived with a gang of wild hogs, that’s what you should call her.” She giggled at the horse’s eyelash tickle. She stroked the horse’s head. But, not ready for a slimy face-to-face smooch, she tried to shoo it back with her fingers.

Kat nudged the horse away from Em’s face.

“Call her what?” I said.


“Nah, I was thinking, Dirt Digger myself,” Kat said with a sneer, brushing the mare’s filth off her fingers. “It’s so much more fitting.”

“We are not calling her Dirt Digger,” I spat.

Kat cracked up. “How about Toad then?”

“No,” I growled. “I really like Angel. It’s a good name for her. Thanks for suggesting it, Em. I bet if we can get her looking up to her natural glory, she really will look like an angel, or the swift-footed carrier of one. Maybe she’ll even look like a unicorn.” I scratched the mare under the chin and neck, and she lifted her head, telling me, more, more, more.

“Doubt that, but you can call her whatever you want,” Kat said. “She’s your horse.”

“She’s not mine … just my sweet-as-candy project horse.”

“I really like ‘Angel’ as her name. It’s perfect.” Emily beamed.

“Perfect? Ha,” Kat shrilled. “She’s so far from heavenly, even demons are pinching their noses and are racing away to find some sulfur to sniff. I’m not even lying when I say that’s the ugliest, most wretched horse I’ve ever seen in my twelve years of existence.”

“She’s not ugly,” I said, rubbing her back. “She just … needs some sprucing and primping.”

“Or a lit match.”

“Hey, cut it out!” I whacked Kat’s arm. “That’s not even funny.”

“You know I’m kidding! I hate to see any creatures in distress.”

“You’re twelve?” Emily cried. “Never would’a guessed that. You look younger than me.”

“Yeah, tell me about it,” Kat groaned, crossing her arms. “I was asked to play Baby Jesus in the church play last Christmas, but they changed their minds when they saw my tinsel teeth.” She grinned wide and goofy to show them off.

Emily bowled over, laughing and clutching her stomach.

“Apparently, Jesus doesn’t really sparkle.”

Emily kept on laughing.

“Shut up,” I bellowed. “She’s exaggerating. She does that. Like, constantly.”

Emily looked at Kat and then at me with a crinkled nose of confusion. “Last week, Jacinda, you said you were almost twelve and live right down the road. You don’t go to the same school?”

I shook my head with my lips curled in. “Nope. Annoyingly, I was held back in third, so I’m only in fifth now, which puts me embarrassingly in the same new school as my six-year-old sister, Tia. Being in a sea of mostly ten-year-olds, and younger, only makes me stand out like a freakish, lumbering giant.”

“You’re not that tall.”

“I’m 5'4", and most of the kids stand beneath my shoulders.”

“We’re all pretty much freaks then,” Emily said. “We’ve got a gimp, a tree, a shortcake and a smelly disaster of a horse.”

“Hey! Don’t call yourself a gimp!” I yelled.

“Oh joy,” Kat muttered. “We’re like the Island of Misfit Toys. We should form our own club.”

I could tell by her sarcastic tone she was joking, but I nodded, loving the idea. “Yeah. We should.”

“I was joking!” she screeched with laughter.

“I know. But it’s a fab idea. I’m just not sure what our club should be about, but we’re all unique and talented in some way. So, I’m sure, combined, we can all put our hashtagable awesomeness to good use. Once we get Angel looking parade-worthy, we should, at the very least, try to find Angel’s previous owner. It’s not his fault he was hospitalized or whatever. We can send him pictures and some ‘Hope You Are Feeling Better’ cards. I really do hope he’s doing much better.”

“Me too. You have a really big heart, Jacinda,” Emily said with a smile. “I like that. It’s a great idea, one I should have thought of because I’ve certainly seen my share of hospitals. I know, just know, that man will love it. You were very patient with me, waiting for me to get up on the horse. You pushed me in exactly the way I needed without making me feel like a baby chicken. Hey! Maybe we should just do nice things for people and try to help whoever we can, especially other freaks like us.”

“Exactly.” I nodded with my smile sliding into an even bigger crescent moon. “The world is full of meanies. Each one of us here has been beaten down or ignored, so let’s be the opposite and try to make the world a little brighter. Instead of being more monsters in the mix, we can be angels instead.”

Emily’s bright smile said she adored the concept we came up with, and I took Kat’s nod of approval and shoulder shrug as good enough to be in too.

“Awesome!” I crossed my arms with a bounce of pride and elation. It was as ragtag and pitiful as this horse, and very tiny, but I had myself a club! An Angels Club.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Circle of Five

Circle of Five by Jan Raymond

Circle of Five is the first book in the Pha Yul trilogy.

After a sudden lightning storm, Sam, Cassie, Ryan, Maya and Seb find that they’ve acquired strange and amazing powers. Confused and scared, they turn to Mr. Harris, a teacher in their school, who offers to help them control their powers.

But is there more to Mr. Harris than meets the eye? His cryptic explanations about their powers, how and why they manifested, leaves the five kids with more questions than answers. Can they trust Mr. Harris? Is he telling them the truth, or does he have his own reasons for helping them? What is the truth behind the secret society that he belongs to? The children try to figure out the answers as they work towards gaining control over their powers.

Unknown to them, danger lingers near. They have to face the threat and put their lives at risk. They must learn to trust one another and combine their powers to survive…will they make it? Are their powers strong enough? And will they finally find the answers they seek?

Circle of Five begins a little choppy as it's bouncing you from character to character while only giving you a sliver of who they are, but don't worry. The perspectives of Sam, Sabastian, Ryan, Cassy and Maya, are expertly woven together as the story unfolds to give you an adventure that all starts with a Breakfast Club-like detention. Only, the new perceptions the students in Circle of Five gain also come along with special powers that first start appearing after a strange electrical storm. Their teacher Mr. Harris, also one with special powers, mentors them and helps them learn to control and harness their powers. Supernatural elements and mixed perfectly with the ordinary, everyday, teen experience to ground readers with the truth that these are just kids, who now bear a huge responsibility and must be forced to see the world differently. This was a fantastic and fun read.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Win Kiss My Math by Danica McKellar

This wonderful giveaway for Kiss My Math by Danika McKellar is hosted by Angela Fristoe, author of Songbird and A Touched Trilogy.

A note from Angela: So with Danica McKellar starring on Dancing With The Stars, I began feeling a bit nostalgic. I loved watching The Wonder Years when I was growing up and the romance between Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper had me wishing for my own childhood romance :) That Danica went on to become an author and math guru made her a even cooler in my dorky opinion. In celebrating the re-emergence of Danica McKellar, I've joined together with a few other YA authors to host a giveaway! Two lucky winners will receive a paperback copy of Kiss My Math by Danica McKellar! The giveaway begins today and continues until Danica wins or is eliminated from Dancing With the Stars.

 From the author of the runaway bestseller Math Doesn?t Suck, the next step in the math curriculum-- pre-Algebra. Last year, actress and math genius Danica McKellar made waves nationwide, challenging the "math nerd" stereotype and giving girls the tools to ace tests and homework in her unique just-us-girls style. Now, in Kiss My Math, McKellar empowers a new crop of girls, 7th to 9th graders, taking on the next level of mathematics: pre-Algebra. Stepping up not only the math, but also the sass and style, Kiss My Math will help math-phobic teenagers everywhere chill out about math, and finally "get" negative numbers, variables, absolute values, exponents, and more. Each chapter features:   - Step-by-step instruction - Time-saving tips and tricks - Illuminating practice problems with detailed solutions - Real-world examples - True stories from Danica's own life as a student and actress Kiss My Math also includes more fun extras--including personality quizzes, reader polls, and real-life testimonials-- ultimately revealing why pre-Algebra is easier, more relevant, and more glamorous than girls think. There are multiple ways to enter including the option to tweet daily. The listed end date is subject to change and winner will be announced within 48 hours of Danica's win or elimination from DWTS. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Cover Reveal: Waken by Angela Fristoe

I read this Young Adult novel online, and it is totally awesome and unique. I'm so excited it's finally coming out into the world with a gorgeous cover to boot. I'm excited to share it!

Waken (The Woods of Everod, #1)
by Angela Fristoe
Expected Release: January 2014

Moving to her parents’ hometown of Everod is the last thing Janie Lyndon wants. After years of abuse and eventual abandonment, she’d rather forget they ever existed. Haunted by nightmares of her mother killing her, Janie just wants to be normal.

The gorgeous Davin Andersen is out of her league, but for some reason he seems to actually like her. The emotions he draws from her are almost enough to make her ignore all of the weird things he says. Almost enough to ignore the way the entire town seems ready to pounce on her as if she were fresh meat.

Almost, though, isn’t enough when Janie finally discovers what the town is hiding. The town of Everod has been waiting for Janie and if she hopes to survive, she’ll need to confront the truth of who and what she really is.

About the Author
Born in Northern Canada, Angela grew up on the Canadian prairies amid dreams of becoming the next Dian Fossey or a world famous flight attendant. Those, however, were never meant to be. Instead she moved to the United States where she divides her time between her family, writing, and her day job as an instruction coach.

Angela was the winner and double finalist in the Romance category of The Strongest Start Contest 2010 hosted by She currently has three young adult novels published through Little Prince Publishing and her fourth novel, Waken, has an anticipated release of January 2014.

Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter

Other Books by Angela Fristoe



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Ghost Files Blog Tour: Excerpt

  The Ghost Files, Volume I
by Apryl Baker

Published: August 13, 2013
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Cherry blossom lipstick: check
Smokey eyes: check
Skinny jeans: check
Dead kid in the mirror: check

For sixteen year old Mattie Hathaway, this is her normal everyday routine. She’s been able to see ghosts since her mother tried to murder her when she was five years old. No way does she want anyone to know she can talk to spooks. Being a foster kid is hard enough without being labeled a freak too.

Normally, she just ignores the ghosts and they go away. That is until she see’s the ghost of her foster sister… Sally.

Everyone thinks Sally’s just another runaway, but Mattie knows the truth—she’s dead. Murdered. Mattie feels like she has to help Sally, but she can’t do it alone. Against her better judgment, she teams up with a young policeman, Officer Dan, and together they set out to discover the real truth behind Sally’s disappearance.

Only to find out she’s dealing with a much bigger problem, a serial killer, and she may be the next victim…

Will Mattie be able to find out the truth before the killer finds her?


The party is in full swing by the time we get there. Everyone is milling around, laughing, talking and drinking. Jake lays an arm around my shoulders and I snuggle close. It’s freezing! Why Meg decided to have a party outside in the dead of winter is beyond me. We make a beeline for the bonfire raging out back. Jake grabs a beer, but I decline.

I never, ever drink at parties. The only thing I’ll drink is water I run from the tap myself. I’m not stupid enough to set myself up to get drugged and raped. Jake is a pretty decent guy, but I’ve only known him a couple of weeks, and have no idea what he’s like when drunk. I’m a smart cookie. I never take chances like that.

“Mattie!” Meg waves her beer bottle at me. She’s already buzzed; her eyes are a bit glassy. See? Not a smart cookie. She’d be an SVU nightmare. Don’t get me wrong. I really, really like Meg. She’s one of the first people who accepted me when I got here last month. That girl’s got a closet full of clothes I’d sell an organ for, but her personal choices are not always the best ones. She’s the town’s sweetheart, the golden girl expected to do great things. I guess she doesn’t think anything bad could ever happen to her.

“Hey.” I smile and shake my head when Tommy offers me a beer.

“Aw, come on Mattie, have a drink, loosen up a bit,” Tommy wheedles. His eyes are on my chest. Such a jerk. Meg hasn’t noticed and I’m grateful. I’d hate for her to get mad at me because of her idiot boyfriend.

“Leave off, Tommy,” Jake glares. He has noticed where Tommy’s eyes are. “You know Mattie doesn’t drink.”

“Chill, man. I’m only trying…”

I roll my eyes at the rising testosterone. Change the subject. “Meg, didn’t I see Ava over there wearing knock-offs?”

“I know! Can’t believe she thought she could pass those boots off as designer. I mean, really.” Meg nods. “And that handbag… O-M-G!” Nothing upsets her more than a knock-off. She is a fashionista in the worst sense of the word. She plans on going to a New York design school after graduation.

“The stitching is all wrong on the bag, too.” I am not a fashionista, but I’ve heard that stitching can prove if something is original or not.

“It’s atrocious!” Meg laughs. “I can’t believe she thinks anybody will buy that nonsense.”

“Maybe her folks aren’t rich and it’s all she can afford?” Jake asks, voice dripping with sarcasm. Jake’s parents are pretty close to poor. His dad is often out of work and his mom’s a housekeeper for the local hotel. Jake will work part time this summer to pay the bills. It’s one of the reasons I liked him to begin with. He’s not like the usual high school boy. He understands that life is hard, and you do what you have to do.

Meg’s catty remark did sound a little snarky, I must admit. Not everyone’s father is the mayor and can afford to dress in high fashion. Look at me. I wear Wal-Mart clothes. I don’t pretend to be anything I’m not. That’s probably why Meg and I get along so well.

Meg sighs. “That sounded really bitchy, huh?” She’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever known, but when she’s drunk, the girl can get a little mean.

“Just a little,” I tell her, “but I started it.” I’d tried to stop a potential fight between Tommy and Jake, but ended up dissing someone else. I felt bad. It’s a new feeling for me. I typically don’t let myself get attached enough to people to feel anything for them, but being around Jake and his family made me start rethinking my whole me-myself-and-I mentality. Not that I don’t have reason to keep people at arm’s length, but Jake is thawing me just a bit. I don’t know if I like it or not.

“Know what you’re gonna do for your public speech on Friday, Mattie?” someone asks behind me. I turn around. Oh, joy. Sam Jenson. She and I are competing for the only junior spot on the debate team. I need it for scholarship purposes; she wants it only because I do.

Since day one, Sam and I disliked each other. She’s a snob and I’m a smartass. Put us in a ring and I’d knock her on her snotty arse in 2.5 seconds. Does she honestly think I’m gonna tell her what I’m doing? But… considering that I’m standing with people who are nearly drunk or well past that state, she probably assumes I am, too.

“Sure I do,” I tell her, “but you’ll have to wait until Friday to hear it.” I smile sweetly at her and snuggle under Jake’s arm. Sam has a huge crush on Jake. This I discovered from her friend Mimi. The snuggling only makes her mad and she stomps off. Good riddance. I so don’t want to get into a cat fight tonight.

“You know that spot is yours,” Jake whispers in my ear. “I’ve heard you practicing. Don’t worry about it.”

“Do I look worried?” I breathe in Jake’s rich scent. He smells clean and woodsy. I’m not sure what kind of cologne he uses, but it’s addictive. I could stand here forever basking in the warmth of the fire, enjoying Jake’s arms around me. This is as close as I’ve ever come to being well, maybe not so much happy, but I guess maybe content is the right word. It’s another new feeling for me, but it’s one I sorta like.

“No,” Jake grins down at me, “but you do look very, very kissable.”

I smile as he lowers his head and kisses me until my toes curl. Jake kisses better than any boy I’ve ever met. Not that I’m a slut, mind you; I don’t sleep around. I’m still a virgin, but do enjoy the whole kissing aspect of dating. Jake’s kisses make me want to rethink the whole not-sleeping-around thing, which worries me. Not that he’s even said anything, but if he did, I’d have to think really, really hard and I don’t know what my answer would be. It’s always been ‘no’ before, but I’ve never met a guy I liked this much, either.

“Get a room,” Tommy grouches, breaking up our little interlude.

Jake and I both laugh at Tommy’s obvious disgust. He’d hit on me not more than an hour after I’d arrived at school my first day. Tommy has never understood why I didn’t jump at the chance to let him in my pants. Why does Meg put up with his crap? Again, not my business.

The joke rattling on my tongue dies as a girl steps into the firelight. She’s turned away from me, dressed in a bummy-looking gray nightshirt, hands bound behind her back. Long, stringy brown hair is matted with a dark sticky substance.

Not here. Oh, please, oh please, oh please, not here.

I want to avert my eyes, but can’t. She’s turned to face me; her eyes are so lost and scared. There’s a small bullet hole in her head, almost exactly where it was on the other dead kid I saw earlier. Her mouth is covered in duct tape, so she can’t speak, but I don’t need her to. I know her.

It’s Sally.

So who am I? Well, I'm the crazy girl with an imagination that never shuts up. I LOVE scary movies. My friends laugh at me when I scare myself watching them and tell me to stop watching them, but who doesn't love to get scared? I grew up in a small town nestled in the southern mountains of West Virginia where I spent days roaming around in the woods, climbing trees, and causing general mayhem. Nights I would stay up reading Nancy Drew by flashlight under the covers until my parents yelled at me to go to sleep.

Growing up in a small town, I learned a lot of values and morals, I also learned parents have spies everywhere and there's always someone to tell your mama on you. So when you get grounded, what is there left to do? Read! My Aunt Jo gave me my first real romance novel. It was a romance titled "Lord Margrave's Deception." I remember it fondly. But I also learned I had a deep and abiding love of mysteries and anything paranormal. As I grew up, I started to write just that and would entertain my friends with stories featuring them as main characters.

Now, I live Huntersville, NC where I entertain my family and watch the cats get teased by the birds and laugh myself silly when they swoop down and then dive back up just out of reach. The cats start yelling something

I love books, I love writing books, and I love entertaining people with my silly stories.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Book Review: In the Winds of Danger

In the Winds of Danger by Linda Ulleseit


In this second book in the flying horses series, Ms. Ulleseit does an excellent job of pulling readers into the Welsh countryside and soaring skies. While readers still touch base with familiar characters, the focus is on new faces and minds, like Nia, who comes to us in an exhilarating joist. She is strong-willed, skilled, determined and playful.

The First and Second Barns are separate and operational factions, and, despite her limited experience, Nia is invited to be leader of Third Barn, that, up until this point, has just been a rumor. Nia has full confidence she could do the job for real, though everyone wants to use her as a pawn for another’s demise.

And Owain, who ran away from home eight years prior to the story’s opening, is on a mission to find out what happened to his parents. Although it leads to initial bad news, it opens up to an unexpected surprise for the young man, but also a potential murder and a pending marriage he becomes aware of and despises. The threads for Nia and Owain took a little while to get going, but the interesting characters and descriptive details pull you along. Once tensions and mysteries kick in, the reader is left flying through pages. Definitely a unique and lushly written book. BUY IT NOW.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

In the Winds of Danger Blog Tour. Interview: Linda Ulleseit

Hi. I'm so glad to have Linda stop by at my blog for her tour with Turning the Pages for her sequel to On a Wing and a Dare, In the Winds of Danger, a lovely flying horses YA series set in medieval Wales. She took time out for a little chat, and today, I will share all the goodies.

Nineteen year old Nia is shocked when she is secretly offered the leadership of Third  Barn. This new barn full of flying horses will need someone confident, experienced, and innovative, so why are both warring factions pursuing an untried girl? Suspicious that both sides want a puppet instead of a leader, Nia races to discover their secrets before making the biggest decision of her life.

Some of those secrets are unknowingly buried in the disconnected memories of a young groom named Owain. Terror and guilt haunt Owain’s dreams – and then a face from his nightmare arrives in High Meadow. Owain looks for answers in his past and uncovers a dangerous plot that could doom High Meadow's future. How can he foil the plot and save his people as well as the winged horses?


What inspired you to write your series, where did the idea come from?
I wanted to write about that time in a young person's life when they realize they need to grow up and take charge of their future. I've always loved the idea of flying horses, so I combined them.

What was your favorite thing about writing In the Winds of Danger, the sequel to On a Wing and a Dare?

I enjoyed exploring the world through different characters' eyes. We still see Emma, Davyd and Evan, from the first book, but the focus is on different characters.

Tell me about your main character(s)? What is/are he/she/they like at the core?
Owain is a good young man. He loves his work, and he works hard. He is troubled, though, by a lack of self-confidence. Nia, on the other hand, is super confident, almost condescending. She makes judgments about people's motivations and becomes flustered when she doesn't understand them.

What is/are the best and worst thing(s) about him/her/them?

Owain is loyal and sweet. He is a terrific friend. On the down side, he doesn't believe he is as important to his friends as they are to him. Nia is a very skilled rider of the winged horses. She is exactly what any barn leader needs to make his barn successful at the Aerial Games. Unfortunately, she knows it.

What’s your creative process like? Outliner or pantser?  How and why does it work for you?

I've done both. I find that when I just sit down and write without a plan I often go pretty far off track. Sometimes, though, there are wonderful bits I can use. When I outline, I tend to move too quickly through the plot and end up having to go back and slow it down with description, backstory, and explanation.

Do you have any go-to releases when you’re suffering from writer’s block or a sticky plot?

I play a lot of Candy Crush Saga. Oh, you mean to help me write? If I go back a few chapters and read what I've written, it usually gets me back into the story and I can pick it up and continue. Sometimes I force myself to continue the story even when I know I'm writing junk because eventually the muse wakes up and I'm in the flow again.

Where do you prefer to write?

At home I have a wonderful space. It's a desk that faces a window. I can see my beautiful yard and pool, and my dogs curl up on my feet. I can type away on my laptop for hours there.

What has worked in your marketing plan and what has flopped?

Using my free days to push the ebooks worked well. Being consistent about marketing is my epic fail. I have not had time to make a sustained effort to keep sales momentum going. I am a teacher, so days are hectic. I get caught up in marketing, and I have no time to write. If I am in the midst of a great writing streak, I have no time for marketing. I don't think I'm unusual in this.

What genres do you enjoy reading?

I love historical fiction, fantasy, and young adult, but I will read almost anything. I categorize my own novels as historical fantasy.

What totally kills a story in your mind while you’re reading?

With the abundance of self-published books available now, there is a lot of poorly edited books. I cannot get through a book that has grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting mistakes.

What do you like to do for fun or during your spare time?

I write! Oh, you mean besides that? I love to read, walk my dogs, swim, and spend time with my family.

Do you have any idiosyncrasies, super powers or other talents?

I am sure I have magnificent super powers lying dormant within me. I am so busy, though, I have not had the opportunity to discover them.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

As a teacher and as a writer I am very particular about grammar. I get very upset when I see poor grammar or spelling in public places. On my classroom website, I collect pictures of public signs that are incorrectly punctuated or spelled. Probably the most famous is an old tire billboard that said, "Something special is riding on your Michelin's." It should be plural, of course, not possessive.

What is your best quality?

I'm a good friend, willing to help however I can. I've been known to supply meals during a crisis, lend an ear when needed, and share moments of joy. I also have a good sense of humor.

Got any other books in the pipeline? If so, what?

I have just finished a historical fiction book for adults called Under the Almond Trees. It is set in California, beginning during the Gold Rush, and follows three of my female ancestors who were very independent women. I am also working on a novella, tentatively titled Tremeirchson, that will be a prequel to my flying horse trilogy. It will be a free ebook. And, of course, I am outlining my third flying horse book, Under a Wild and Darkening Sky. I have plenty to keep my busy for awhile!

Linda Ulleseit was born and raised in Saratoga, California, and has taught elementary school in San Jose since 1996. She enjoys cooking, cross-stitching, reading, and spending time with her family. Her favorite subject is writing, and her students get a lot of practice scribbling stories and essays. Someday Linda hopes to see books written by former students alongside hers in bookstores. Her first novel, ON A WING AND A DARE, was published in spring, 2012. It is a Young Adult fantasy set in medieval Wales, complete with flying horses, a love triangle, and treachery. The followup novel, IN THE WINDS OF DANGER, was published in February, 2013.

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