Who needs a partridge in a pear tree when you’ve got Ten Zany Birds?

Forget about partridges in a pear tree, turtle doves, and French hens… What the holidays really need are Ten Zany Birds, the charming picture book by author and musician Sherry Ellis.

TenZanyBirdsSo I’m thrilled that Sherry stopped by for an interview to talk about her work–from inspiration and favorite books to superpowers and travel destinations.

And now here’s Sherry…

Tell me a little about the title–how did you come up with it? 

I knew the book would be a counting book about birds, so “Ten” and “Birds” were no-brainers. The question was what adjective should be used to describe the birds. I made a list – “silly,” “little,” “funny,”… and finally came up with “zany.” I like the word because it’s different and sounds fun. I realize it’s not a word most preschoolers are familiar with, but after discussing it with my critique group, I decided if kids didn’t know it, they could ask an adult and learn a new word. (Zany means funny, in a crazy or silly way.)

If you had to choose only one writer as a mentor, who would that be?

Diana Jenkins, author of Stepping Stones: The Comic Collection, Now You’re Cooking, and several other books, has literally been my mentor. She was part of my critique group when I lived in Ohio. She has this great ability to see plot holes and generate helpful ideas for polishing manuscripts. I have learned so much from her, and I am extremely grateful for what she has taught me.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I have always been an avid reader with a vivid imagination. My first stories were written when I was eight years old. I still have a few of those manuscripts. Writing was one of the ways I entertained myself.

Where did your love of books come from? And what were some of your favorite books when you were a child?

My mom always read to me when I was little. That’s where it started. We didn’t have computers and video games when I was growing up, so I read books to keep myself busy.

I enjoyed the Nancy Drew mysteries. I couldn’t get enough of them! One of my first favorite books was James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. The imagination of the author captivated me.

What did you enjoy most about writing Ten Zany Birds?

Coming up with things that would distract the birds and make them leave the party, was the most fun. I imagined what the illustrations would look like as I came up with the various scenarios. Illustrator, Charu Jain, did a great job bringing it all to life.

What are some of your interests outside of writing?

I am a professional musician, so I enjoy playing the violin, viola, and piano. Outside of that, I like exploring the great outdoors – hiking, SCUBA diving – and seeing new places.

And now for a few goofy questions…

If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be?

A peacock. Not because they’re pretty – female peacocks aren’t – but because they get to roam around wherever they want, and aren’t stuck in an enclosure. Being stuck in one place would drive me crazy!

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?

It’s on my bucket list. I hope to get there in about five years. I’d like to dive the Great Barrier Reef, attend a concert at the Sydney Opera House, and hold a koala bear (because they’re cute!).

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

The ability to teleport anywhere at will. I’d be able to see and do so much more if I could!

~~~~~

And that’s a superpower I think everyone can relate to… Continue reading for more information about Ten Zany Birds and Sherry Ellis.

Synopsis

Ten zany birds have a party in a tree, singing and dancing. Five have stripes, three have spots, and one has purple polka dots. They’re all having fun, but one by one, they become distracted.

One is frightened by a loud plane. One gets hungry. One wants to race and another needs a bath. Only one stays to sing in the tree, but who will it be?

Ten Zany Birds is a fun, beautifully illustrated picture book. As parents and teachers read, children are introduced to counting and basic subtraction skills. Whenever a bird leaves, the number of striped, spotted, and polka-dotted birds changes, teaching the application of simple classification rules.

Whimsical and entertaining, Sherry Ellis’s tale of ten silly, distractible little birds is an excellent choice for both pre-reader storybook time and early readers.

SherryEllisAbout the author

As an author, Sherry has written children’s books as well as articles for parenting publications.  Her book, That Mama is a Grouch, was honored as a finalist in the Parenting/Family category of the 2010 USA Book News Awards and as a finalist in the Parenting/General category of the 2011 International Book Awards.  Other awards include first place in the Parenting category of the 2011 Pinnacle Book Awards, the silver award in the 2013 Mom’s Choice Awards, and first place in the Family Matters category of the 2015 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards.

ThatMamaisaGrouchSherry is also a professional musician who plays and teaches violin, viola, and piano.  She has appeared as a soloist in Germany, and was a semi-finalist in the 2004 International Viola Competition held in Paris, France.  She is actively involved in the American String Teacher’ s Association, and has served terms as Secretary and Vice President of the Ohio String Teacher’s Association.  Sherry is the principal violist of the Georgia Philharmonic.

Additionally, Sherry is a lifetime member of Cambridge Who’s Who and was honored as a 2010 VIP of the year.  In 2012, she was honored as a Woman of the Year by the American Biographical Institute for her contributions in the field of music education. Sherry was the recipient of the 2013 Top Professional of the Year award given by Worldwide Who’s Who and has been recognized as a Top 100 Professional by the International Biographical ThatBabyWokeMeUpInstitute.

Find Sherry on the web

Website

Facebook

Amazon author page

Blog

Magical Christmas Novella: Review and Visit from the Author

Food for Poe Final 2Snow fell in well-defined flakes, delicate as lace, while I read Food for Poe, a charming Christmas novella, whose title takes on a whole new—and mischievous—meaning once the book is consumed.

The story unfolds as a blizzard engulfs the characters, embracing them in a magical tale of miracles, love, renewal, and romance. With Mae Claire‘s unique ability to weave romantic suspense with an ample serving of the fantastical, this novella makes the perfect companion for a wintry afternoon, curled up next to the fireplace, sipping on hot chocolate.

Full of the wonder of the season, it transports the reader to a place where anything is possible, even a cat capable of an extraordinary miracle.

And, now, here’s Mae, talking about inspiration and her favorite season…

Cats, Christmas, and Romance by Mae Clair

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is looming just around the corner. I have no complaints though, because Christmas is my favorite holiday. Not only do I enjoy December 25th and Christmas Eve, but I love the entire month of December. It’s like one long holiday with all the merriment, festivities, and spirit of goodwill that leads up to that very special day. I’m a Christmas sap.

So it stands to reason I’d eventually get around to writing a Christmas story.

Those who know me also know there are two things (other than writing) I’m passionate about: folklore and cats. When it came time to dream up a Christmas story, I decided to weave both elements into the tale. The result is Food for Poe, a short Christmas novella that is also a tale of sweet romance, twined with the paranormal, and even a wee smidgen of horror (just a smidge, I promise!).

Blurb

When a blizzard strands Quinn Easterly at a handsome stranger’s house on Christmas Eve, she doesn’t realize her newly adopted cat, Poe, is the catalyst responsible for bringing them together.

Breck Lansing gave up on relationships after his wife, unable to cope with their daughter’s illness, left him. But the pretty blonde he rescues from a snowstorm has him rethinking his stance—especially when Quinn’s arrival coincides with a dramatic change in Sophie’s health.

Unfortunately, that change also attracts something only whispered about in folklore. Together, Quinn and Breck must defeat a sinister creature intent on claiming the ultimate payment.

Warning: A clever black cat, Christmas magic and paranormal trouble

On sale now

In celebration of the holidays, you can grab a copy for $.99 at Amazon. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download a FREE Kindle Reading App for your PC, MAC, iPad, iPhone, Android or tablet here. Cats and Christmas. What could be better?

Merry Pre-Christmas and Happy Holidays!

About the author

Mae Clair opened a Pandora’s Box of characters when she was a child and never looked back. Her father, an artist who tinkered with writing, encouraged her to create make-believe worlds by spinning tales of far-off places on summer nights beneath the stars.

Mae ClairMae loves creating character-driven fiction in settings that vary from contemporary to mythical. Wherever her pen takes her, she flavors her stories with mystery and romance. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cryptozoology, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail and cats.

Discover more about Mae on her website and blog at MaeClair.net
Sign up for Mae’s newsletter here

Find Mae at the following haunts

Website

Blog

Twitter (@MaeClair1)

https://plus.google.com/+MaeClair/postsGoogle+

Facebook Author Page

Amazon Author Page

Kensington Books Author Page

Goodreads

Pinterest

Newsletter Sign-Up

Purchase FOOD FOR POE from Amazon

On Publishing: Tips from bestselling author Ellen Hopkins

traffick-9781442482876_hrBestselling author Ellen Hopkins joins me today, as she  travels through the webosphere on a blog tour, to offer helpful tips to writers while they navigate the road to publication.

Here’s Ellen…

  • First, please remember that the road to publication is rarely short. Often it takes years to start publishing well. Submission and rejection are both part of the process. Accept rejection and learn from it. Perseverance is crucial, and belief in yourself and your writing.
  • Start with smaller publications. Literary magazines are a great place to send poetry and short stories. Don’t expect payment here. You are building a writer’s bio, and that is priceless. Try writing articles. Even if you want to write fiction, you’ll learn to research and to finish projects under deadlines.
  • Join writers groups, especially critique groups, where you’ll have other eyes on your work. Often as writers we’re too close to our words to see when a story takes a wrong turn or that a character is flat.
  • Take classes at a local college or adult learning program. Spelling, grammar, etc. most definitely do count. An editor at a big publishing house will not look twice at a manuscript with glaring errors.
  • If you’re truly interested in writing for a living, DO NOT self-publish. While there are a few renowned exceptions to this rule, the fact is most big publishers will not pick up a self-published book and go on to publish it. Not only that, but self-publishing signals impatience on the writer’s part, something a big publisher won’t deal with. An exception to this is if your book has a definite niche within the marketplace, one you can fill on your own. For instance, a textbook for your own classroom. Marketing is the biggest issue with self-published books. And most bookstores won’t carry them.
  • Once a book length manuscript is ready to go, go to writers’ conferences where you can meet editors and agents face to face to discuss your work. Often, they will critique manuscripts at conferences, and this is the best possible feedback, not to mention a great connection. Much better than submitting to the “slushpile” (just mailing it off and waiting to see what happens, along with those thousands of other manuscripts in the slushpile). And today many publishers don’t accept over-the-transom submissions.

Check out Ellen’s most recent work

The sequel to Tricks, her latest book follows five teenage victims of sex trafficking — from all walks of life and gender orientations — as they try to extricate themselves from their current situations and find a new way of life.

In her bestselling novel, Tricks, Ellen Hopkins introduced us to five memorable characters tackling these enormous questions: Eden, the preacher’s daughter who turns tricks in Vegas and is helped into a child prostitution rescue; Seth, the gay farm boy disowned by his father who finds himself without money or resources other than his own body; Whitney, the privileged kid coaxed into the life by a pimp and whose dreams are ruined in a heroin haze; Ginger, who runs away from home with her girlfriend and is arrested for soliciting an undercover cop; and Cody, whose gambling habit forces him into the life, but who is shot and left for dead.

And now, in Traffick, these five are faced with the toughest question of all: Is there a way out? How these five teenagers face the aftermath of their decisions and experiences is the soul of this story that exposes the dark, ferocious underbelly of the child trafficking trade. Heart wrenching and hopeful, Traffick takes us on five separate but intertwined journeys through the painful challenges of recovery, rehabilitation, and renewal to forgiveness and love. All the way home.

Goodreads | IndieBound | B&N | Amazon | Powell’s |BAM |S&S

About the author

authorPhoto-e1315801199400Ellen Hopkins is a poet, freelance writer, and the award-winning author of twenty nonfiction titles and five NY Times Bestselling novels-in-verse. She has published hundreds of articles on subjects ranging from aviation to child abuse to winegrowing.

Ellen mentors other writers through her position as a regional adviser for the Nevada chapter of the Society of ChildrenÕs Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

She is a regular speaker at schools; book festivals and writers conferences across the US, and now throughout the world.

Find her on the Web

Goodreads | Website | Twitter |Facebook | Pinterest | Tumblr

IMG_1297 (2) tour bannerContinue on Ellen’s tour

November 13thHeather Harlen – Top 5 or 10 List

November 13thAlec John Belle – Review

November 13thConfessions of a Kid-lit Lover – Review

November 13thMelissa Martin’s Reading List – Review / Interview

November 13thThe Phantom Paragrapher – Review

November 13thTeen Librarian Toolbox – Review / Interview

November 13thMiranda’s Book Blog – Guest Post

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Halloween Tour: A week of stories and treats

Blood Stitches-highresEvery year on Halloween, the god of the Mayan underworld holds a demonic ball. Many attend; not everyone survives…

So begins my novella Blood Stitches–a story about magical knitting, fantastical creatures, sacrifice, and forgiveness–and to celebrate Halloween-when the story unfolds–the gang from Blood Stitches is going on a week-long tour, complete with spooky stories and prizes.

Scroll down to view the complete tour schedule, and I hope to see you during one of the stops–be sure to enter the giveaway (see below).

Reviews for Blood Stitches

“What a charming and delightful knitting fiction book… This book is refreshingly different in so many ways… The characters are interesting, with believable dialogue and and interesting plot. Great entertainment read. ” Read the rest here.

“Both technically and thematically, this short work was refreshing…. The main setting of the story was fun, as the characters travel to a fantastical underground… The plot was solid, the characters were interesting and quirky, and I really enjoyed the premise of magical knitting.” Read the rest here.

Giveaway

A Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour stops

You can also find the schedule here (a huge thank-you to NK Author Services for organizing the tour!).

10/25-Ebooks Galore– Spooky Short
10/25-Booklover Sue-Spooky Short
10/25-A Little Bit of R&R-Spooky Short
10/26-Wicked Women Book Blog-Spooky Short
10/26-Author Sandra Love-Spooky Short
10/26-Ebook Addicts
10/27-Eskimo Princess– Spooky Short
10/27-Midnight Angel Book Heaven
10/27-Spreading the Word
10/28-LBM Book Blog
10/28-Sapphyria’s Steamy Reads
10/28-Literature Litehouse
10/29-Dreamer Talks Books
10/29-Anything But Vanilla Books
10/29-Carly’s Cozy Corner
10/30-A Bit Bookish
10/30-Danielle’s Domain
10/30-We Read With A Glass of Wine
10/31-My Reading Reality-Spooky Short
10/31-Indy Book Fairy
10/31-One Book Boyfriend At A Time

HalloweenTourBanner

Leaving Lake Emma

lake_emma_sunset 010We left Lake Emma for the final time as homeowners under a gray sky, swollen with rain. Memories trailed behind us, mingling with falling leaves–a collage of years fused onto amber, pink, and burgundy tree bouquets. Sun pricked through the clouds and illuminated a cluster of yellow leaves, an autumn lantern, lit from within, fragile and temporary.

We arrived at Lake Emma on a similar day almost fifteen years ago, and settled into its rustic ways… Or rather Lake Emma settled into us.

Brilliant fall colors exploded like Vegas showgirls next to their Puritan evergreen cousins. And on that first night, the sun slipped along the horizon as a huge flaming ball, leaving behind pink cloud islands floating in the sky. A soft duskiness draped itself around us and never left, filling us with a quiet peacefulness, the solitude of Michigan’s remote inland lakes.

Through Lake Emma, I learned the seasons of the north woods. Spring brought fiddleheads, crouching low, readying themselves for their summer performance when they sprang into ferns, a musical collaboration with nature. Turkey vultures, like a coven of witches, hunched over roadkill or perched on treetops, observing passersby.

Loons dominated summer nights with their eerie call, and during a paddle up the Ocqueoc River—Lake Emma is its headwaters–clouds of ebony jewelwing damselflies erupted from beneath a cedar. KayakThe moment carved itself into my memory as the jewelwings—every bit as beautiful as their name—fluttered around me, creatures from a fairy tale, ethereal and illusive.

Doubletracks snaked into dark woods, and thick weeds, like sea-serpent tentacles, reached out from Lake E’s murky depths. Bears lumbered across dirt roads, and a bobcat, carrying a rodent, once bounded in front of me as I biked along.

Chalk-fronted corporals—a type of dragonfly–gathered on our sandy driveway by the dozens. They seemed to join me when I jogged, rising up next to me, like combat pilots, and fighting off deerflies—the nemesis of Lake Emma. Lake EmmaWinter occasionally snowed us in, leaving us forgotten by the outside world, and we’d ski along the roads, as if cars had never existed.

It’s the place where I rediscovered Jane Austen, reading Emma, appropriately enough, as the red pines shimmied with the wind and sunlight danced on the knotty pine walls. Lost between pages, only Ms. Austen as company, the day passed and shadows lengthened, keeping me embraced in Lake E’s perfect silence.

I might have left Lake Emma, but it will never leave me.

Places we love, like the people we’ve loved–to borrow from Proverbs 3:3–are bound around our necks, written on the tablets of our hearts. Their presence, even when we aren’t fully aware of it, influence our lives in countless ways.

SunsetKayakLake Emma resides deep inside me—a cloud of ebony jewelwings, forever fused to my soul.

When Monsters Became Real: Guest post from author Mae Clair

After reading two of Mae Clair‘s novels, I can honestly say that she’s quickly becoming my go-to author for romantic suspense (read my reviews here and here) with her touches of lyricism and ability to intertwine the perfect blend of the mysterious and paranormal into her writing. So I’m very happy to have her guest posting today…

Here’s Mae:

Myth And Magic-highresThe Spooky House

There’s one in every neighborhood. When I was a kid, the spooky house was two doors down, part of the urban tree-lined street where my family made their home. A brooding three-story structure of gray stone with a sprawling covered front porch, white columns, and side bump-outs, it oozed mystery. The adults might have been oblivious, but all the neighborhood kids knew it was haunted.

My friends and I were convinced a coven of witches met there, and that if you ventured too close to the sides where the shadows were thickest, you’d be sucked up into a coffin tucked under the eaves. No one would ever know, because an evil twin, capable of fooling everyone, would take your place.

The house also had a ghost who lived on the second floor. We knew this because the south facing room had a trio of beautiful stained glass windows and that was the perfect place for a ghost to languish.  Our phantom was female. She was a melancholy soul who’d been separated from her true love and imprisoned by the witches because they were jealous. She spent her time listening to an old-fashioned music box, weeping for her lost love, and looking romantically tragic in a flowing white dress.

Yes, it was silly, but those images stayed with me for a long time, particularly the woman in the flowing white gown. In Myth and Magic it isn’t a house that is rumored to be haunted, but an isolated lodge frequented by corporate employees. When one of them sees a ghostly apparition “in a flowing white gown,” it’s the start of a sequence of bizarre events that have guests checking out before they can check in. Enter my hero, Caith Breckwood, a private investigator, who has a turbulent history with the lodge’s manager, Veronica Kent. It certainly doesn’t help that Caith’s family owns the lodge, or that he’s been estranged from them for years due to a tragedy that occurred in the past.

I you like myth, mystery, and romance, I hope you’ll give Myth and Magic a looksee.

It’s presently on sale for just $.99 through 11/14 and is set during Halloween—perfect for this time of year

I’d also love to know if there were any “spooky houses” in your neighborhood—past or present!

Blurb

AS CHILDREN THEY PLAYED GAMES OF MYTH AND MAGIC…

Veronica Kent fell in love with Caith Breckwood when they were children. As a teenager, she was certain he was the man she was destined to marry. But a traumatic event from Caith’s past led him to fear a future together. He left Veronica, hoping to save her from a terrible fate. Twelve years later, Caith, now a P.I., is hired to investigate bizarre incidents at the secluded retreat Veronica manages. Returning to his hometown, Caith is forced to face his nightmares—and his feelings for the woman he’s always loved.

THEN ONE DAY THE MONSTERS BECAME REAL.

After the callous way Caith broke her heart, Veronica isn’t thrilled to see him again. But strange occurrences have taken a dangerous toll on business at Stone Willow Lodge. Forced to work together, Veronica discovers it isn’t ghostly apparitions that frighten her, but her passion for a man she has never forgotten. Or forgiven. Can two people with a tarnished past unearth a magical future?

Buy Myth and Magic… Just $.99 through 11/4/2015

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

iTunes

Kensington Publishing

Google

All Romance eBooks

Mae ClairAbout the author

Mae Clair opened a Pandora’s Box of characters when she was a child and never looked back.  Her father, an artist who tinkered with writing, encouraged her to create make-believe worlds by spinning tales of far-off places on summer nights beneath the stars.

Mae loves creating character-driven fiction in settings that vary from contemporary to mythical. Wherever her pen takes her, she flavors her stories with mystery and romance. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cryptozoology, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail and cats.

You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:

Website

Blog

Twitter (@MaeClair1)

Google+

Facebook Author Page

Amazon Author Page

Kensington Books Author Page

Goodreads

Pinterest

Read verse and make merry: Celebrating National Poetry Day with Janet Ruth Heller

“You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket,” John Adams once told his son.

I recently discovered this wonderful quote in David McCullough’s John Adams, but it was a lesson I learned at a young age and have carried with me my entire life.

A collection of Emily Dickinson’s poetry, along with a compilation of 100 great poems, sits on my bedside table. I thumb through the volumes from time to time, stopping at random and allowing the words to roll over my tongue, soothing my mind with their rhythm and imagery.

One day, Emily tells me, “hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul,” and on another William Carlos William says, “much depends on a red wheelbarrow glazed with rain water.”

So when I heard about National Poetry Day, I was ready for a celebration, despite the fact that it’s a British event and I’m very much located in middle-America.

And I couldn’t think of a better way to get the festivities rolling than a chat with an actual poet, the second part of my interview with my poet-friend Janet Ruth Heller.

Happy National Poetry Day everyone! Now read some verse and make merry!

Here’s Janet…

Tell me about your favorite author… What is it that really strikes you about his or her work?

I love the work of many authors. My earliest favorite author was Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I have loved his poetry since I was in seventh grade. He was one of the first writers to use colloquial language in poetry, especially in his “conversation poems.” He can also tell stories in magical ways in works like “Christabel” and “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Also, he can use sounds in enthralling ways in poems like “Kubla Khan.”

Most authors are usually introduced to writing at a young age. Where did your love for books come from?

My mother and my elementary school teachers read me many excellent books when I was a child. I liked the way that authors like Rudyard Kipling used words and sound patterns. I could listen to stories for hours.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

In 1972, I had a five-month love relationship with a man. I started writing poems about him every week. After he broke up with me, I was devastated. Writing poems helped me to cope with my feelings and heal. I started writing much more frequently than in the past. By the mid-1970s, I was publishing poems, literary criticism, and essays in journals with national distributions.

Where do you find inspiration?

Any unfairness in my society and in the world prompts me to write about it and to become involved in organizations to remedy the situation. For example, I started a union of nontenure-track faculty at Western Michigan University and have published scholarly essays about ways to improve conditions for adjuncts and better methods for evaluating adjuncts. I also love nature, sports, foreign languages, and words in general. I often write about these topics, too.

And now for a not-so-serious shift in the conversation…

What literary character is most like you?

When I was a child, I identified with Phoebe Jackstraw in Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Farm by Betty MacDonald because I shared many of Phoebe’s fears. As an adult, I am more like Elizabeth Bennett in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I’m smart, but I often misunderstand people, as Elizabeth does.

If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?

I love the beauty of the Spanish language. I double-majored in English and Spanish as an undergraduate, and I have about one-third of a master’s degree in Spanish literature. The language is very poetic and easy to rhyme.

Buying ghosts on ebay: Author Sandra Cox makes anything possible

800by433It’s been a September of new-book postings by authors whose specialties range from paranormal romance to horror to YA. And next up is my prolific author-friend Sandra Cox, who makes everything possible in her writing from mutant teenagers with dolphin DNA (read my reviews here and here) to buying ghosts on ebay, as in her new novel, Ghosts for Sale, from eKensington.

Blurb

Caitlin King can’t believe that her shopaholic cousin actually bought two ghosts off of eBay. But she can’t ignore the truth when she starts seeing sexy Liam O’Reilly, who’s been dead for over a hundred years. He’s a fascinating specter, and the more time Caitlin spends with him, the closer they become—sending them both spiraling into a star-crossed tailspin. No matter how desperately they long for each other, there’s just no future with a guy who’s already stopped breathing.

Buy

EKensington ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Kobo ~Apple ~ Google

About the author

Sandra2Multi-published author Sandra Cox writes YA Fantasy, Paranormal and Historical Romance, and Metaphysical Nonfiction. She lives in sunny North Carolina with her husband, a brood of critters and an occasional foster cat. Although shopping is high on the list, her greatest pleasure is sitting on her screened in porch, listening to the birds, sipping coffee and enjoying a good book. She’s a vegetarian and a Muay Thai enthusiast. Find Sandra on the web : Website ~ Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook .

Giveaway

49894

 

Next Door to a Star: Review and Tour

BT BANNER
Click here for the full tour schedule.

I love YA novels: from the drama and angst of high school to self-conscious protagonists longing to fit in to gossipy cliques and the always-present yearning to be loved and admired.

And even though it’s been years (decades!) since I negotiated a high-school hallway—eyes downcast, avoiding the mean kids—to the relative safety of my locker, YA books always bring back an onslaught of memories, some happy, some frustrating, and many totally cringe-worthy.

If you, like me, have a soft spot for young adult stories then author Krysten Lindsay Hager should have a place on your bookshelf.

Ms. Hager brings the teen years to life with absolute perfection in Next Door to a Star. Handling multiple plotlines with an expert touch, she’s crafted a young adult dramedy that on the top layer is a story about Hadley Daniels, an average teen whose only ambition is to fit in, have a few friends, and find her place in the world.

And when she finds herself vacationing, and eventually living, next to a former television actress, she thinks this is her opportunity to finally become part of the popular crowd. But beneath that top, superficial, layer rests a meatier story about acceptance and being true to oneself, regardless of the consequences.

I’d been wanting to read one of Ms. Hager’s novels for some time now, and Next Door to a Star certainly didn’t disappoint with characters that felt familiar, as if they were people I’d met before, and plot twists that kept the story moving at a brisk pace.

And, as with most YA novels, the ending will make you smile, satisfied to have spent several hours with Ms. Hager’s charming characters.

Next Door to a Star FRONT COVERBuy

Kindle copy
Amazon Paperback
itunes
Kobo
Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

Hadley Daniels is tired of feeling invisible.

After Hadley’s best friend moves away and she gets on the bad side of some girls at school, she goes to spend the summer with her grandparents in the Lake Michigan resort town of Grand Haven. Her next door neighbor is none other than teen TV star Simone Hendrickson, who is everything Hadley longs to be—pretty, popular, and famous—and she’s thrilled when Simone treats her like a friend.

Being popular is a lot harder than it looks.

It’s fun and flattering when Simone includes her in her circle, though Hadley is puzzled about why her new friend refuses to discuss her former Hollywood life. Caught up with Simone, Hadley finds herself ignoring her quiet, steadfast friend, Charlotte.

To make things even more complicated, along comes Nick Jenkins…

He’s sweet, good-looking, and Hadley can be herself around him without all the fake drama. However, the mean girls have other ideas and they fill Nick’s head with lies about Hadley, sending him running back to his ex-girlfriend and leaving Hadley heartbroken.

So when her parents decide to relocate to Grand Haven, Hadley hopes things will change when school starts…only to be disappointed once again.

Cliques.

Back-stabbing.

Love gone bad.

Is this really what it’s like to live…

Next Door To A Star?

Booktrailer

http://bit.ly/1F1KUCa

Excerpt

The school year should end right after spring break, because all anyone can focus on is summer vacation. You can’t learn anything new, because all you can think about is all the fun stuff you’re going to do once you don’t have to get up at the butt crack of dawn. Summer always seems full of possibilities.

Nothing exciting ever happens during the school year, but maybe, during summer vacation, you could run into a hot celebrity and he’d decide to put you in his next music video. Okay, it wasn’t like I knew anybody that happened to, but my grandparents did live next door to a former TV star, Simone Hendrickson, and Simone was discovered in an ice cream parlor one summer. Of course, she lived in L.A. at the time and was already doing plays and commercials, so the guy who discovered her had already seen her perform. But hey, it was summer, she got discovered, and that was all that mattered.

Amazing stuff didn’t happen to me. You know what happened to me last summer? I stepped on a bee and had to go to the emergency room. They’re not going to make an E! True Hollywood Story out of my life. I didn’t go on exotic vacations—like today, I was being dragged along with my parents to my cousin’s graduation party. Most people waited until at least the end of May before having a grad party, but Charisma was having hers early because she was leaving on a trip to Spain. I was dreading this party because I didn’t want to listen to everybody talk about how smart and talented Charisma was—making me feel like a blob in comparison—but my mom RSVP’d even though I said I’d rather die than go. My death threats meant nothing. But still, for some strange reason, I had a feeling this summer was going to be different.

About the author

Krysten Lindsay Hager is an obsessive reader and has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and humor essayist, and writes for teens, tweens, and adults. She is the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series and her work has been featured in USA Today and named as Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values and Virtues Fiction and Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Children’s Books on Values. She’s originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and southwestern Ohio. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Find Krysten on the Web

Publisher: http://www.limitlesspublishing.net/authors/krysten-lindsay-hager/

Website: http://www.krystenlindsay.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8298036.Krysten_Lindsay_Hager

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KrystenLindsay

Facedbook: https://www.facebook.com/KrystenLindsayHagerAuthor

Google +: https://plus.google.com/+KrystenLindsayHager/posts

Haunted by Shadows: Review

I’ve always had a hard time reading horror: it’s too real, too terrifying–my mind swallows the images and replays them in an endless obsessive-compulsive loop. So it wasn’t easy for me to agree to read a novel by horror author Brick Marlin, whose kind, friendly emails seem the antitheses of the wicked imagination behind his writing.

But read it I did… Surprising myself by actually enjoying the novel, even though I couldn’t sleep for several nights after finishing it.

And so I’m very pleased to share the following review with everyone, particularly now as Brick embarks on a blog tour to promote his writing.

Shadow Out of the Sky (Transitional Delusions #1)Shadow Out of the Sky by Brick Marlin*
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shadow Out of the Sky begins with a deceptively innocent scene: a young girl, looking for comfort after experiencing a bad dream, wakes her mother in the middle of the night. But what the girl wants is anything but innocent, and the reader is soon off on a journey of horror as author Brick Marlin reveals one terrifying event after another.

The suspense builds as the narration moves between characters, keeping the reader turning pages to see who will survive the demon possession that has consumed the children of Woodbury. Marlin also increases the tension by slowly revealing the backstory, providing just enough information to keep the reader grounded but still wondering why this particular town has been targeted. By the end, all loose ends are woven together, and a gun-toting 70-year-old is left to save the town–one of my favorite aspects of the story.

As with all good horror stories, this frightful tale will keep you up late into the night, and, like the little girl from the first chapter, will leave you with nightmares. Recommended… but definitely not for the fainthearted or squeamish.

Buy:

Amazon Print:  http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Out-Sky-Brick-Marlin/dp/1941706207

Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Out-Transitional-Delusions-Book-ebook/dp/B00RB2PISY

Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shadow-out-of-the-sky-brick-marlin/1120954039?ean=9781941706206

About the author:

Brick Marlin has been writing since he was a child. From an early age he was exposed to older horror movies. The great ones making their mark in history. He also tackled reading the likes of Stephen King, Clive Barker, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, Dean Koontz, Charles Dickens, Harper Lee, H.G. Wells, etc. Thus, he decided to engage himself and write horror, dark fantasy and dark sci-fi, scaring readers such as his parents, his friends, neighbors, and even leaving a few school teachers scratching their heads wondering if the boy should be committed or not with his gruesome tales of terror. Short story ideas continued to visit. A book idea or two sometimes stopped by for a sit.

In 2007 he decided to take a more professional approach with his work. Hence, as a member of the Horror Writers Association, already having nine books published by small presses – this you hold in your hand, constant reader, makes his tenth –  nearly thirty short stories published, adding to the few anthologies and collaborations with other authors, Brick Marlin trudges onward, hoping to achieve more creations, wallowing in the brain pans of his characters, giving them the choice whether to twist the knob and enter through the Red Door, or enter through the Blue Door where a group of servo monkey badgers are consuming packages of cinnamon-flavored Pop Rock Candy with a Kung Fu Punch of caffeine.

Find Brick on the web:

Website: http://www.brickmarlin.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Brick-Marlin-182914455094243

Twitter: @BrickMarlin

Follow the entire blog tour:

9/21 Erin Fanning Review
9/21 Beauty in Ruins Guest Post
9/21 Wag the Fox Guest Post
9/22 Novel-ties Review
9/23 Armand Rosamilia, Author Guest Post
9/23 Deal Sharing Aunt Interview
9/25 fuonlyknew Review
9/25 L. Andrew Cooper’s Horrific Scribblings Review
9/25 Bee’s Knees Reviews Guest Post
9/25 Azure Dwarf Guest Post
9/27 Sapphyria’s Book Reviews Top-Tens List

 

 

*The book was provided for an honest review and no compensation was provided.