Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Book Signing w/Sarah J. Schmitt!

A week ago Sunday was the perfect day to load the kidlet up and head to Indianapolis to Kids Ink (an independent children's bookstore) for a book signing. I've wanted to visit Kids Ink for awhile, and it did not disappoint. There were books and toys galore! Sarah was so nice to talk to, and I loved getting my hands on her gorgeous book, It's A Wonderful Death.

There's also this really neat thing that Kids Ink does: having visiting authors sign/doodle on the bathroom wall (Sarah said she had her markers ready!).

Yup, Shannon Hale and Rainbow Rowell, folks. 

 Now, this one probably excited me the most. Steven Kellogg!!! I loved checking out his books from the library as a kid. So full of wild-eyed wonder and playful illustrations.

Oh, and then there's this one. Just a crayon from The Day the Crayons Quit. You know, that not-very popular picture book...*wink*

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Sarah Schmitt has bachelor's degrees in political science and psychology as well as a master's degree in higher education administration, but she has always loved writing fiction. She is a K-8 school librarian part-time and youth service professional for teens at her public library. Sarah currently lives with her husband and two kidlets near Indianapolis, Indiana.

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Seventeen-year-old RJ always gets what she wants. So when her soul is accidentally collected by a distracted Grim Reaper, somebody in the afterlife better figure out a way to send her back from the dead or heads will roll. But in her quest for mortality, she becomes a pawn in a power struggle between an overzealous archangel and Death Himself. The tribunal presents her with two options: she can remain in the lobby, where souls wait to be processed, until her original lifeline expires, or she can replay three moments in her life in an effort to make choices that will result in a future deemed worthy of being saved. It sounds like a no-brainer. She’ll take a walk down memory lane. How hard can changing her future be?

But with each changing moment, RJ’s life begins to unravel, until this self-proclaimed queen bee is a social pariah. She begins to wonder if walking among the living is worth it if she has to spend the next sixty years as an outcast. Too quickly, RJ finds herself back in limbo, her time on Earth once again up for debate.

RJ is a snarky, unapologetic, almost unredeemable, very real girl. Her story is funny and moving, and teens will easily connect with her plight. Prepare to meet the Grim Reaper, who’s cuter than you’d expect; Hawaiian shirt–wearing Death Himself; Saint Peter (who likes to play Cornhole); and Al, the handler for the three-headed hound that guards the gates of Hell. This cast of characters accompanies RJ through her time in the afterlife and will do their best to gently shove her in the right direction.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Guest Post by Martina Boone: The Importance of a Ticking Clock

Literary Agent Jill Corcoran once blogged about ways to activate a story, using Gayle Forman's novel, If I Stay, as an example of a great beginning. She wrote:

Gayle does not start the book at the moment of the car crash. We first see the family together, we actually fall in love with the main character and her family so when the car crash happens, we are devastated along with the main character. Gayle starts the first line of the book with an intriguing sentence… a sentence that activates us to pay attention to this first meeting with the main character’s family. That foreshadows the doom and gloom to come:

     Everyone thinks it is because of the snow. And in a way, I suppose that’s true.

But there’s another reason that first sentence of Gayle Forman’s works, really works. It’s a tiny little piece that comes before that first sentence. Here's how the novel really starts:

7:09 A.M.      

     Everyone thinks it was because of the snow. And in a way, I suppose that’s true.

Do you see it? It's there in bold letters. The ticking clock.

Because that clock is there, the reader knows to combine Gayle’s "it" with a timeline. We know something is going to happen soon. We know "it" is bad, because why bother with a clock that precise if it isn't a countdown of sorts. And we know it has to do with the snow. Sort of. So now, we're hooked. We have to know what "it" is, and why it wasn't completely to do with the snow. And we have an implied promise that it isn't going to take the author long to get there.

As readers, we haven't thought through any of this. It's simply there, in the back kitchen of our consciousness, if I may borrow the phrase from Kipling. And once it's there, it has a hold on us.

Even a reader who wouldn't normally read a book about bow-tie-wearing dads, or little brothers who let out war whoops, or mothers who work in travel agent's offices--who cares about all that stuff at the beginning of a book, right?--is going to be curious enough to read a little further. Sure enough, Forman delivers on the promise. At 8:17 a.m., a dad who isn't great at driving gets behind the wheel of a rusting Buick and.... Well, we know we only have a few more pages.

Even after the accident, the clock doesn't stop. It continues until 7:16 the next morning, because Mia is trying to make her decision, and all along, all through the twists and turns and intricately woven scraps of memory and medical magic, that clock keeps us focused on the fact that something life-changing is going to happen. Soon. Soon. So you can't stop reading.

Building Suspense with a Ticking Clock

Having an actual Jack Bauer 24-style ticking clock only works if something momentous is going to happen:

• An event, accident, or necessary meeting

• A deadline given to prevent consequences

• An opportunity that can, but shouldn't, be missed

• Elapsed time from a precipitating event

The Clock

The clock is mainly a metaphor. You can use any structural device that forces the protagonist to compress events. It can be the time before a bomb explodes or the air runs out for a kidnapped girl, but it can also be driven by an opponent after the same goal: only one child can survive the Hunger Games, supplies are running out in the City of Ember....

Only three things are required to make a ticking clock device work in a novel:

• Clear stakes (hopefully escalating)

• Increasing obstacles or demand for higher thresholds of competence

• Diminishing time in which to achieve the goal

Whether your clock is an actual countdown to a date or time of day, or some other method of event compression, it creates tension. It limits the time your characters have to think and act, forces them into decisions--perhaps rash ones--and, used skillfully, reinforces the consequences of failure. All of this creates urgency for your characters, and urges the reader to turn the pages.

A ticking clock doesn't make sense for every novel, but whatever novel you are writing now, consider whether your stakes could be further dramatized by adding a time limitation of some sort.

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Martina Boone is the author of SIBA Book Award nominated Compulsion, book one in the romantic Southern Gothic trilogy, the Heirs of Watson Island, from Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse, which was an Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Bookstores Alliance, a Goodreads Best Book of the Month and YA Best Book of the Month, and an RT Magazine Best of 2014 Editor’s Pick. The second book in the trilogy, Persuasion, will be published October 27, 2015. She is also the founder of as well as, the three-time Writers Digest "101 Best Websites for Writers" site providing craft, inspiration, workshops, agent-judged contests, and giveaways.

Cover Reveal for REAPING ANGEL

Welcome, everyone, to the cover reveal for S. L. Saboviec's Reaping Angel, Book #2 in the "Fallen Redemption" adult paranormal series.

The first book, Guarding Angel, was released in May 2014. Both covers were done by the super-fabulous Regina Wamba, of, who's done covers for Random House, Penguin Books, and multiple New York Times best-selling authors.

But a picture is worth a thousand words, so here's the blurb and cover for Guarding Angel, Fallen Redemption #1:

Guardian angel Enael can't seem to keep her human Wards in check. They're the ones who choose their paths before reincarnating--she's just there to help make sure they stay on track. But it's not as easy as it might look.

When she meets and falls in love with charismatic Kaspen, a fellow Guardian, Enael's feelings about Heaven, Hell, demons, and the life she's known are turned upside down. Worse, angel-turned-demon Yasva, Kaspen's former love, still holds him in her clutches. Even as Yasva works toward obtaining complete control of Earth, she taunts and haunts Kaspen's and Enael's lives.

Now Enael is forced to face her past (which is centuries long and bursting with secrets), her present (which is terribly unfulfilling and full of questions), and her future (which becomes more uncertain as time passes). Armed with a newfound love and fear of losing it all, she must figure out how to save the world--and the angel she loves. Which side will win? Who will Kaspen choose? Will Heaven and Earth continue to exist, or will everything go to Hell?

But you're not here for the first book, you're here for the second book. So without further ado, here it is:

After the battle at the Bastille, the Council of Seraphim offers reluctant demons Enael and Kaspen a chance to return to Heaven—but only after they’ve completed sufficient penance. Ready to move past the ugly chapter in their lives, they settle into their assignments.

Until Enael’s former lover, Voctic, a powerful demon, interferes.

Voctic seduces and demeans, taunts and entices Enael, stirring centuries-old longing in her while infuriating Kaspen. Caught up in the demands of their duties, Kaspen and Enael drift apart until she finds herself isolated.

Fed up with Voctic’s harassment, Enael prepares to fight back. When he targets the new human she’s responsible for protecting, she creates her own plan. His self-proclaimed “gala of the century” will be the perfect cover for her revenge. But will a hasty decision cost her Kaspen—or even her spot in Heaven?

Add it on Goodreads here.

Get up-to-date release information by subscribing to S. L. Saboviec's newsletter here.

About the Author

Samantha grew up in a small town in Iowa but became an expat for her Canadian husband, whom she met in the Massive Multi-player Online Role-Playing Game Star Wars: Galaxies (before the NGE, of course). She holds a B.S. in Physics, which qualifies her to B.S. about physics and occasionally do some math for the sci-fi stories she concocts. Her dark, thought-provoking science fiction & fantasy contains flawed, relatable characters and themes that challenge the status quo.

She contributes to Operation Awesome, including hosting a twice-monthly flash fiction contest. She tweets both more than she should and probably not enough @Saboviec. Her fiction is being included in the Realmwalker Publishing Group upcoming anthology The Legacy. You can find out more about her at

Friday, October 9, 2015

Cover Reveal for My CP's Latest Book!

Who doesn't love a good paranormal mystery? And who doesn't love one that's set in Key West? Are you ready to see a cover that really makes my heart happy? Well, then....scroll!!! 







(Almost there!)




Key West, Florida. Famous for Hemingway, non-stop partying, and ghosts. 

Despite living in Key West his whole life, 18-year-old Liam Breyer is a skeptic of the supernatural until a vengeful spirit, murdered fifty years ago, nearly drowns him a swimming pool. Luckily help arrives in the form of pretty — albeit homesick — ghost whisperer Autumn Abernathy, whose newly-divorced mom has dragged her to the island to live and work at the Cayo Hueso, a haunted bed and breakfast.

Despite their initial mistrust of each other, Autumn and Liam team up to solve the decades-old mystery. But on an island where every third resident is a ghost, dealing with an unstable spirit has deadly consequences. If Liam and Autumn don’t unmask the killer soon, they’re likely to become Key West’s latest haunted attraction.

Publication date: late Fall 2015.

Find Kimberly hereWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Thursday, October 8, 2015

This or That with Lea Nolan, author of ILLUSION

Thanks so much for having me, Leandra! I’m so happy to visit and introduce you to Illusion, the third and final book in my Hoodoo Apprentice trilogy, which is out nowI’ve also got a great blog tour giveaway for you, but first I’ve got a few questions to answer…

1. Morning writer or night writer?

Definitely night, or more accurately early afternoon-through-late evening. I’m not a morning anything! I’ve got rheumatoid arthritis so I need my sleep to keep flare up at bay. But I’m also a mom with school-aged kids so I have to accept the harsh cold reality of getting them to school on time and picking them up in the afternoons. Besides hauling my butt out of bed before the sun rises, it also means it’s often not possible to write at my preferred times. I do my best to cram in words as best as I can, and I also rely on my awesome husband to handle kid duties a few afternoons and evenings a week so I can catch up when necessary.

2. Pizza or cheeseburger?

Despite living in Maryland now, I’m a Long Island girl at heart. Pizza all the way, especially if it’s got a nice thin crust that cracks when you fold your slice in half. Oh, now you’ve got my mouth watering!

3. Ice skating or bowling?

Um…can I pass? LOL I’m not great at either, and usually embarrass myself when I try. Do you have any idea how humiliating it is to have your five year old throw fewer gutter balls that you do? Trust me, it’s not pretty. *sighs* Okay, since I have to pick one, I guess I’ll say ice skating, except my version is more like ice crawling or ice baby stepping.

4. Physical book or ebook?

I read both but I’ll admit I appreciate a physical book more, and seem to absorb it far better than an e-book.  There’s something about holding a book in my hand, and flipping the pages with my own fingers, that helps me connect more deeply with the story. It’s the same with taking notes or doing research. I find I grasp information more readily and have better retention if I handwrite my notes onto paper and use a highlighter on the most important passages instead of reading off a computer screen or typing it into a computer. 

5. First draft lover or revision lover?

I’m a revision lover for sure. For me, completing the first draft is just the first start of the book’s journey. The real story takes shape under the various revisions when you can get some distance from the work and begin to see the larger themes at play. And while my need for revision has reduced over time, I still go through at least two or three before the book is final. 

6. Romance or thriller?

This is a hard one because I actually really like both. So I guess I’ll hedge my bets and say it depends on my mood. Sometimes you’re in the mood for suspense, and other times you just need to be swept off your feet.

7. And because you've so graciously played This or That with us, put a This or That question here for the readers to answer!

Oh, that’s an easy one! Okay, French fries or potato chips? I myself am seriously addicted to Baked Ruffles cheddar and sour cream chips. I taste one chip and the next thing I know, I’ve downed the whole bag. 

Things aren't always as they appear…

New school. Cross-country move. Broken heart. If only these were Emma Guthrie's worst problems. Instead, she must battle a trio of enemies--human and spectral--who may or may not have joined forces against her and everyone she loves. All while pretending to be over Cooper Beaumont, her ex-boyfriend and true love, to shield him from her arch-nemesis's revenge.

Worse, when the fight escalates, Emma is tempted to use black magic, which will endanger her soul. As her enemies close in, join forces, and fight with new and dark magic she's never seen before, Emma must harness the power within her to fulfill an ancient prophecy, defeat a centuries-old evil, save her family, and reclaim the only boy she's ever loved.

Amazon: Barnes & Noble:

And here are the gorgeous new covers for the first two books in the series, Conjure and Allure:
And now for the giveaway, a super awesome Illusion Blog Tour Prize pack. The Grand Prize includes a $25 Amazon gift card, a custom Hoodoo Apprentice tote which features the gorgeous new covers, and six authentic hoodoo spells from the Lucky Mojo Curio Company. There’s also a second prize $15 Amazon gift card, and a third prize $10 Amazon gift card. So what are you waiting for? Enter below to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks so much for having me. This was a lot of fun! Best of luck to those who enter the giveaway!

Lea Nolan is a USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance and YA. Her books for young adults feature bright heroines, crazy-hot heroes, diabolical plot twists, plus a dose of magic, a draft of romance, and a sprinkle of history. She also pens smart, witty contemporary stories for adults filled with head-swooning, heart-throbbing, sweep-you-off your feet romance. Born and raised on Long Island, New York, she loves the water far too much to live inland. With her heroically supportive husband and three clever children, she resides in Maryland where she scarfs down crab cakes whenever she gets the chance. Learn more at her website, or follow her on FacebookTwitter, Instagram or Goodreads

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Author Stop: Jennifer Jenkins

I'm super happy today to have the lovely Jennifer Jenkins, author of Nameless, here to talk about things like chicken dinosaurs and healthy hot chocolate.

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1. Your bio on Goodreads says you're secretly afraid of your three chickens (which I completely get!). So let's do some therapy on the blog today: Name your top three chicken dishes! ;)

Have you seen those feet? It's like gathering eggs from velociraptors! I appreciate the opportunity for therapy, and will name Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Tortilla Soup, and Pesto Chicken as my three favorite chicken dishes.

2. When a book is currently in development for film like Nameless is, what does that look like on the author's end? 

Having a book under development for film has been a very surreal experience. You've probably heard about the limited role the author plays in the process. For me that has been true to a certain extent, but I was able to have several in-depth phone conversations with Ashleigh Powell (the screen writer) and others as they were putting together a script and pitch. I've been impressed with the level of enthusiasm they have for the project. From the beginning, they've been extremely invested in understanding character motivations, the grittiness of the world, and also the inspiration behind the book. I think the greatest part of the process, so far, has been seeing other people fall in love with a story that is the product of my imagination and hard work. Talk about gratifying!

3. Beach, mountains, or a day in the big city?

As much as I love the ocean, I have to say mountains take the cake. I'm a huge hiker/snow skier/mountain biker/horseback rider and live in the shadow of some beautiful mountains. I almost consider them extensions of my family. :)

4. Preferred drink (alcholic/non/or both!):

Easy: Crio Bru. It's a healthy alternative to hot chocolate. Combine that with a pair of fuzzy socks and yoga pants and you have my definition of a writing trifecta! I've pumped out several books with that mug by my side.

5. What is a fav line(s) from Nameless?

Wow. I don't know.

Maybe this little narrative from Gryphon's point of view regarding Zo.

"It didn’t make any sense, but somewhere beneath the pretty face of his enemy was a person he wanted to know. To understand.

Gryphon never realized treason could be so complicated."

I also like this little exchange between Gryphon and Zo because it shows the complexity of their situation:

(Gryphon talking to Zo about the Gate Master)

“He can’t touch you now, Zo. I won’t let him.”

Zo stopped walking. She peered at him from the corner of her eyes. Untrusting. “Why, because I belong to you?”

Gryphon winced. The suggestion made his cheeks warm. He looked away, grateful for the cover of night. “Despite what you think, I am not a monster.”

“No.” She picked up her kit from the ground and wiped blood from the corner of her mouth. “You are a Ram.”

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With her degree in History and Secondary Education, Jennifer Jenkins had every intention of teaching teens to love George Washington, the Napoleonic Wars, and Ancient Sparta . . . until the writing began. Author of Young Adult fantasy and co-founder of Teen Author Boot Camp, she divides her time between reading, writing music, taking spontaneous trips, and researching random events from the past. NAMELESS, a Young Adult tribal fantasy, releases October 6, 2015 with Month9Books.
Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

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Four clans have been at war for centuries: the Kodiak, the Raven, the Wolf and the Ram. Through brutal war tactics, the Ram have dominated the region, inflicting death and destruction on their neighbors.

Seventeen-year-old Zo is a Wolf and a Healer who volunteers to infiltrate the Ram as a spy on behalf of the allied clans. She offers herself as a Ram slave, joining the people who are called the “nameless.” Hers is a suicide mission – Zo’s despair after losing her parents in a Ram raid has left her seeking both revenge and an end to her own misery. But after her younger sister follows her into Rams Gate, Zo must find a way to survive her dangerous mission and keep her sister safe.

What she doesn’t expect to find is the friendship of a young Ram whose life she saves, the confusing feelings she develops for a Ram soldier, and an underground nameless insurrection. Zo learns that revenge, loyalty and love are more complicated than she ever imagined in the first installment of this two-book series.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

P.S. Remember, one lucky commenter will win a $5 Amazon gift card. Just remember to follow Jennifer at one or more of her social media sites! 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Creating Your Own Family

I just realized a bookish fact about me this morning. Right after I finished reading Lady Fortsecue Steps Out.

Image result for lady fortescue steps outImage result for lady fortescue steps out

I own the cover on the left, though I do like this newer silhouette one on the right. Anyhoo, what I realized: I like books where people create their own families. Either because there's are all gone, or are horrible. This excerpt from the end of Lady Fortescue Steps Out is what prompted me in my realization. 

The poor relations sat on a bench and watched their shadows growing longer in the setting sun. Somehow the old fears of what would become of them and whether they would continue to survive assailed all of them. 

A reaction to the wedding and to all the luxury they had recently enjoyed was setting in. 

Children's voices blown on a light breeze reached Lady Fortescue's ears and she thought of her dead children and unconsciously took the colonel's hand for comfort. 

Sir Philip scowled and took Lady Fortescue's other hand in his. Miss Tonks, suddenly frightened by the temerity of what she had promised, took the colonel's hand, the one not holding Lady Fortescue's, for reassurance, and Mrs. Budley's hand stole into Miss Tonks's. 

And so they sat like that for a long time, hand in hand, until the sun went down and candles began to twinkle in the windows of the houses across the Park. 

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I'm one of those people who created their own family over the years. First, there was an elderly lady who lived behind us growing up. She went to church where we went, and helped out my single mom so much. We loved hanging out at her house in the evenings, sitting on their back porch, and swinging on their porch swing. 

She was the one who came over in February, the first Christmas after my mom died, and gently, but lovingly, told me it was time to take down the Christmas tree (and helped me do it). She passed away this summer, and it was so sad to say good-bye to a lady who helped shape my childhood. But she left behind so many people that she touched with her smile and always, that hug. 

Then there's the couple who I call my adopted parents. They lived two doors down from my grandfather's, and didn't mind at all when I attached myself to their hip. They were such a huge support for me and my grandpa. I ate meals with them, celebrated the holidays with them, and became a permanent lump on their couch, reading in the evenings. 

So it's no surprise that I love books where I see my own actions reflected back. Where people--young or old--create their own families. There is something so strong and compelling about seeing these relationships form, seeing someone say by either words or actions: I choose you. 

It's a beautiful thing!