Thursday, February 1, 2018
This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Peter Wilson will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
Something has changed at Gregson Manor. An evil force from the family's past has returned to upheave their lives. Jack and his cousins explore the family secrets as they are pulled through a portal into a universe of endless worlds and possibilities. Together, they race to escape and destroy the evil Theorden and his followers who strive to unlock the power of the Forgotten Portal and wreak havoc on Gregson Manor and the World.
Read an Excerpt
They continued down the mud track until reaching a junction where three paths met and the Warden Statue stood before them.
“The Monk,” David said as they looked up at it. Over the years the three of them had named all twenty-three statues of Gregson manor, based purely on what the person looked like. While they knew each represented important Gregson family members from different generations, that hadn’t stopped them inventing some of the more childish names such as The Fat Dwarf, Big Butt Betty and Jack’s personal favorite The Constipated General.
The Monk stood on a small pedestal, the total height of the statue being around two meters. He had bare feet, with long flowing robes closed by a rope tied around his waist. His hands were pressed together at chest height as if praying and his shaved head was bowed with eyes closed.
“What do we do now? There’s no blue emerald here that I can see.” Rosie asked, examining the statue from all angles.
“Don’t know, that nutty woman didn’t say.” David replied, referring to the curator. “She did tell us to the bring the book though, maybe that will tell us something.”
Rosie pulled it out, then dropped the bag to the ground and sat on it. She went to the contents page and read down the list until she came to the chapter on the Rear Garden.
She started to read: The Rear Gardens are situated at the rear of the Gregson Manor…
“Whoever wrote this really spells things out, don’t they? Does it mention that the grass is green and the trees point upwards in a tree like fashion?” David asked sarcastically. “It’s like it’s written by a moron, for morons.”
About the Author: Peter Wilson has been writing for years. He started with short stories (many of them just 55 words long). The storylines and genres he chooses to write in are fantasy, horror & fast paced thrillers, as that is what he enjoys reading.
A number of years ago Peter sat down to write another short story, based on a prompt given in an online writing competition. As the word count rose, he realized that it wasn’t so short and it had turned into a novel: Jack Gregson & the Forgotten Portal, which recently won a Moonbeam award. He’s currently working on the sequel to the book, in what he plans to be a trilogy.
Peter lives in Sydney Australia. When he’s not writing, he works in the digital world, creating content for games, music and movie companies.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jgregsonportal/
Buy the book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thursday, January 25, 2018
This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Tonya Duncan Ellis will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Why do you write juvenile fiction? What draws you to it?
I like kids better than adults! LOL. Seriously, somehow I draw energy from being around children. I find them very insightful and so funny and interesting. I’ve taught Sunday school at my church for years and sometimes with my busy schedule and all I have to do with my own family and work I feel like I don’t have time to volunteer with the kids. Once I’m back with them in the class again I experience so much joy that I know I can’t give it up. There’s something about being with children that just gives me life.
What books were your favorite as a youth and why?
My favorites were Otherwise Known As Sheila the Great, Blubber, Ramona the Brave, Little House on the Prairie, all these books had girl main characters overcoming struggle and growing from them. They are realistic stories about everyday life and growing up, which I guess appealed to me. These themes run through my Sophie Washington book series as well. I’m glad I’m able to bring in some more diversity with the characters in my books than I had growing up.
What’s your favorite sweet treat?
I’m a chocaholic to the core. Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, fruit covered with chocolate, it’s all good to me! Give me a rich piece of chocolate mousse cake or chocolate truffles and we’ll be best buddies.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?
It’s cliché but I wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. My nose was constantly stuck in a book as a kid and once my English teachers told me I had a way with words and encouraged me in my storytelling, that was all she wrote. Even as a teenager the library was one of my favorite hangouts. I worked there, for free. I’ve always liked the feeling I get from writing down my thoughts and having other people read and appreciate them.
What superpower would you love to have? Why?
Endless energy. Would that make me the Flash? It seems like I have a never-ending list of things I want or need to do each day and never enough time to do them all. If I had endless energy I wouldn’t have to sleep and could zip through my to-do list lightning quick. I’d still want to be able to lounge or take naps when I wanted to though.
Sum up your books for Twitter: 140 characters or less.
Ten-year-old heroine and diverse friends deal with bullies, gaming, fitting in, peer pressure and that first crush, with a Texas twist.
Which of your characters would you most like to meet IRL? Why?
I’d most like to meet the bully Lanie Mitchell in real life and give her a big hug. She seems like she needs one. Maybe then she wouldn’t be so mean to the other kids.
You’re stranded on a desert island. Which character would you want with you and why?
Definitely Nathan Jones. Sophie doesn’t call him Mr. Know It All in the first book of my series for nothing. He’s super responsible and I’m sure he would remember to bring matches and maybe even a flare gun to signal for help. I haven’t mentioned it in the books but he is the character most likely to become an Eagle Scout.
9. Playlist for your current book.
“Mean” by Taylor Smith could be played when Lanie is taking Sophie and Chloe’s lunch money. “Mama Said Knock You Out” by L.L. Cool J when Lanie knocks Nathan Jones down at his locker. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor to be played when Sophie and friends gather at their lockers to plan revenge.
10. Favorite class in high school. Why?
English, of course. It’s the place where I got to read and write and do all the things I love and get good grades for it.
That’s what 10-year-old Sophie Washington thinks until she runs into Lanie Mitchell, a new girl at school. Lanie pushes Sophie and her friends around at their lockers, and even takes their lunch money. If they tell, they are scared the other kids in their class will call them snitches, and won’t be their friends. And when you’re in the fifth grade, nothing seems worse than that.
Excitement at home keeps Sophie’s mind off the trouble with Lanie. She takes a fishing trip to the Gulf of Mexico with her parents and little brother, Cole, and discovers a mysterious creature in the attic above her room. For a while, Sophie is able to keep her parents from knowing what is going on at school. But Lanie’s bullying goes too far, and a classmate gets seriously hurt. Sophie needs to make a decision. Should she stand up to the bully, or become a snitch?
Read an excerpt:
“Nice glasses,” smiles Mariama, one of my other good friends in our class. Mariama’s family moved to our neighborhood from Nigeria last year. Some people make fun of her because she dresses different sometimes and talks with an African accent, but she’s really nice.
“Thanks, this is my first time wearing them,” I say. “I was a little nervous this morning.”
“Well, you shouldn’t be because they look really good,” she assures me. A few of our other classmates come through the hall, and no one seems to pay too much attention to me wearing glasses. Seems like it’s not a big deal after all.
“Hey Soph,” calls Chloe, rushing over to join us at the lockers, “those are some cute specs. I may get some with red frames to match my uniform logo.”
“You’re supposed to wear glasses to see, Chloe,” Mariama and I laugh.
“Well, they can be used for fashion, too,” she informs us.
We compare notes on last night’s science homework and grumble about the many review packets Mr. Simpson assigns.
“He must really want us to become astronauts,” Chloe complains.
“Yeah, it took me over an hour to get mine done,” I say.
Suddenly, I hear Mariama whistle under her breath.
“What’s wrong?” I ask.
I see Lanie moving in our direction.
You mean she bothers Mariama, too? I think to myself.
“Hey, Miss Tarzan,” Lanie says, turning toward our friend. “I see you’re wearing that necklace from Africa that you promised me,” she says, pointing at the string of colorful wooden beads my friend is wearing.
Mariama, who is at least a foot shorter than Lanie and probably 15 pounds lighter, starts to shake.
“My mother gave me this necklace,” she says, “and it was a gift from her mother to her.”
“Well, it’s going to be my gift now,” Lanie snarls, reaching out to grab it.
“Why don’t you give it a rest?” says Chloe, moving to block her.
“And who’s going to make me?” Lanie smirks.
I feel my face getting hot under my new glasses. I am so tired of Lanie bothering everybody and spoiling all our fun. If I wasn’t so scared of people calling me a snitch, I would march right down to the principal’s office and tell on this bully.
“Leave her alone, Lanie,” I say through gritted teeth.
“And who’s going to stop me?” she asks.
Lanie laughs and shoves me against the locker.
“You couldn’t stop a flea.”
“Come on, Sophie, let’s just go,” Chloe urges.
But I’ve had enough.
I shove the bully back.
“I said, leave her alone.”
Lanie looks surprised for a second.
“Fine, if she won’t give me her necklace, then I’ll take yours.”
She yanks my precious silver friendship chain from my neck and knocks me to the floor so quickly that my new glasses fall off. “Sophie!” Chloe and Mariama rush over to help me as the bully hurries off down the hall.
“I hate her!” I reach on the floor for my new glasses and see that the glass is cracked in one of the lenses.
What am I going to do now?
About the Author:
Buy the book at Amazon.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Katie L. Oslin will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
Life soon shows Amy that it has other plans. She’s suddenly thrust into a world full of difficult circumstances and even more difficult decisions.
Read an excerpt from the book:
He hugged me tightly for so long I wondered if he’d ever let me go. Our cigarettes developed the longest ashes I ever saw. As mine finally fell to the ground, I was reminded of how quickly I fell for Johnny and how our relationship had been burning for the last three years. Eventually, we, too, like that ash, would fall. We would end up a memory of something that burned so deeply into our souls and it too would eventually turn to ash.
Such thoughts swirled through my mind, as I drove without a destination. Eventually, I found myself at the park where Johnny and I went that fateful night when he showed me the secret overlook and took my virginity and my innocence. I decided to park the car, then I grabbed my emergency blanket, flashlight, and cigarettes and walked toward the precipice where it all began.
A tear fell down my cold wet cheek. I sighed and gave him my heartbreaking answer. “Honestly?” I held back my tears as best I could. “I want you to leave me alone, Johnny. I want you to love me enough to let me go. I want you to help me finally get over you by staying the hell away from me. I want you to stay out of my life and let me be. Please, Johnny, I’m begging you.
“I want to be happy. I deserve that, and you of all people know it. Since I can’t have it with you,” I said, crying a little harder, then I deserve to have it with someone else. So, please, Johnny, if you love me like you say you do, you’ll let me go.”
About the Author:
She is also a wife, mother and bachelor’s prepared registered nurse. Living on the coast of North Carolina, she frequents the beach and finds inspiration in the sound of the waves and the solitude of her surroundings.
Buy the book at Amazon.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Friday, December 15, 2017
This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. J.R. Becker will be awarding 2 personally-signed Annabelle & Aiden books, along with 3 limited-edition Annabelle & Aiden bookmarks (US ONLY) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Why do you write juvenile fiction? What draws you to it? My inspiration for this book, and in fact, the entire Annabelle & Aiden series, is to show children that our actual reality can be just as exciting as fiction, or more, and can help us change the world.
What’s your favorite sweet treat? Pecan pie, (or “pecan bars”), by far. Then, some sort of salty caramel bar.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Architect. Why? Love design.
What would you write in a letter to your teen self? Don't listen to anyone unless it makes sense to yourself. Make your own decisions. You know better. Think about it, but in the end, do what you think will be best for you. You know best. Trust me.
What superpower would you love to have? As a busy parent and hobbyist with never enough time, honestly, nothing would be better than, every night at 11pm, to be able to make the clock go back to 8pm.
What book is on your nightstand currently? Righteous Minds by Jonathan Haight.
Hunger Games or Twilight? Hunger Games.
Sum up your book for Twitter: 140 characters or less. This gorgeously-illustrated book takes children on an adventure through the earliest stages of our universe. “How did our universe form?" Annabelle wonders to Aiden. Luckily, the friendly Tardigrade Tom answers by taking the children on their biggest adventure yet! Soaring through space and time, they marvel at the big bang, and learn how each and every one of us is literally made of the same stardust. This book empowers children, who learn how we each hold a part of the universe inside us, and are far more special, interconnected, and 'larger' than we may think. #science #childrensbooks #bigbang #wearemadeofstars
Favorite hot beverage. Chai Latte. Why? Soothing, comforting, filling.
Ideal summer vacation. Backpacking through Iceland or the Swiss Alps!
Favorite pizza toppings. Fried, breaded eggplant. It's all about that. Mushrooms too.
Create an ice cream flavor. What’s it called? It's called SPACELUST and it’s purple.
You’ve just won a million dollars and you’re not allowed to save any of it. What do you spend it on? I’d give about half to charity to environmental causes, and the rest I’d invest. And sure, I’d take a week snowboarding trip.
Who was your teenage crush? SHIRLEY MANSON. Why? Because she was/is an amazing redhead rocker. Why not?
Did you know you hold the strength
of hydrogen bombs?
Or that there’s parts of different stars
in each of your palms?
You’re made of pieces
that used to be part
of dinosaurs, Shakespeare,
or Amelia Earhart.
You are the world
So do not feel small,
or left on a shelf.
We’re made of our world,
its mountains and wells.
So the way that we treat it,
is how we treat ourselves.
There's worlds within us
you would not believe:
Everyone that was
and that ever will be...
are all within you,
and came from the stars.
And that's just how big
and amazing you are.
After publishing his first (philosophical, dystopian) novel The Spider & the Ant, and later becoming a father, Joseph was inspired to found the Annabelle & Aiden series to foster curiosity and scientific awareness in the next generation.
Joseph lives in New Jersey with his wife Leah, and two children, Annabelle & Aiden.
ILLUSTRATOR: Max lives in a small town just outside Venice, Italy. As an illustrator, she is proficient with multiple mediums (from physical to digital) and can draw in multiple styles, as seen in her portfolio below. Max is especially fond of cats, Game Of Thrones, and Lindsey Stirling. After wandering the cosmos in search of the perfect illustrator, we're lucky to have found her, just on the other side of our blue planet.
Check out Max's site HERE (http://www.maxrambaldi.com).
See Max at work on her YouTube page HERE. (https://www.youtube.com/user/DigitalMakeup)
Amazon Listing: https://www.amazon.com/Annabelle-Aiden-Worlds-Within-Us/dp/0997806656
This book raised over $18,500 in preorders on Kickstarter. View the campaign here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1269876999/annabelle-and-aiden-worlds-within-us
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Monday, November 6, 2017
This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Libby will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour. The book is currently FREE on kindle, nook and at Smashwords. The buy links are at the end of this post.
Read an Excerpt:
Grape Meets the Models
Grape’s entire body stiffened as she looked up from her phone. Five of the most beautiful people to ever walk the earth stood scattered around two Porsches. Did I walk into a photo shoot?
“I mean, gross.”
The words came from an impossibly beautiful girl. Loose, raven-black locks fell over her shoulders, the tips lingering above her full bosom. Grape could almost hear the sizzle and static of her electric blue eyes. The sun had kissed the girl’s skin lightly, leaving a glow that made the air around her shimmer. Her pouty, pink, full lips begged to be kissed, though the guy standing behind her, his arm draped over her shoulder protectively, warned off all who would be so bold.
The boy behind her, if anything, was even more handsome than she was beautiful. Muscle stacked upon muscle until his clothes had no choice but to hug every inch of his body. His dark eyebrows and strong jaw lent him a tough look, one that was backed up by the playful anger in his eyes.
The raven-haired goddess turned and embraced her beau, her face tucked away into the heat of his chest. He sat propped up on the hood of a yellow Porsche, the sleek lines of the car offset by the disdain on his face. They were so incredibly, delightfully gorgeous that even though he looked as if he had seen a cockroach instead of a human being, Grape’s heart still melted at the sight of them.
“I think she’s in love.”
Grape snapped her gaze away from the Adonis with the nasty temperament and turned toward the twin boys standing in front of a black Porsche. Her eyes bounced between the two, taking in every perfect feature. Flawless, rich, dark brown skin. Sparkling hazel eyes. Muscles so tight that you could bounce a quarter off their abs, or arms, or anywhere on their bodies, really. They looked as perfectly engineered as the cars they stood by. But it was their lusciously long eyelashes that sent Grape swooning. Men were not meant to be this pretty.
“Leave her alone, guys.”
Grape’s head spun. Each person she saw was more beautiful than the last, and the redheaded girl standing off to the side was no exception. The baggy jeans and generic T-shirt she wore did not detract from her creamy skin and full lips. Her large brown eyes fascinated Grape—red flakes glimmered from inside each caramel-colored orb.
The air felt charged with a million volts. Her thinking grew cloudy. Were these angels? Was she daydreaming? How did anyone get to be this beautiful? She could sense their hostility, but something inside her felt warm and gooey. Snap to, Grape, she told herself. They want to hurt you.
“Awww, look. It likes us,” the twin with the goatee said. The clean-shaven twin’s face softened. Was that pity she saw in his hazel eyes?
“Stop being mean,” the redhead said, sounding more bored than angry.
“I’m not being mean. Where’d you buy that shirt?” Goatee asked. His quiet tone was laced with thorny edges.
Grape swallowed hard. The fuzz inside her head abated. Focus, she told herself, feeling like an idiot. “I don’t know. Kohl’s maybe.” She glanced down at her blouse. The shirt was a birthday present from her mother, and she wasn’t sure where it came from, but since her mother did most of her own shopping at Kohl’s, it seemed like a pretty safe guess.
Goatee turned toward his brother and smiled. “Pay up.”
Clean-Shaven shook his head at her as if she’d named the wrong store on purpose. He pulled a thick wad of cash from his pocket, peeled off a twenty, and handed it to Goatee. “I was sure it came from Kmart.”
“Why does it matter where I bought my shirt?”
The raven-haired girl glanced out from her hiding place in her boyfriend’s embrace. “It just looked familiar. I wore the same shirt. Three years ago.” She smiled, but there was no kindness when she bared her teeth. “Before it was a knockoff.” The girl hid her face against her boyfriend’s pecs. Their chests rose and fell at the same time, breathing as one.
“Okay. Well, I don’t really buy designer clothes.” Grape wanted to have a witty comeback, but she still wasn’t sure where the insult lay. Did they or did they not like the shirt?
What the hell is wrong with me? Of course they’re making fun of me. Why aren’t I angrier?
“She means she modeled the design,” the redheaded girl said, cutting her eyes to the couple.
“You’re a model?”
The brothers snickered. “Pretending she doesn’t know who we are, that’s so cute. Is that the new fad amongst the Normals?” Clean-Shaven asked.
“I don’t understand anything you just said.” Grape felt completely out of her depth. This was the school parking lot, but she might as well have been on Jupiter.
The redhead took a step toward Grape, shooting a nasty glance to the others crowded around the cars. “Don’t worry about it. They’re just teasing.”
“I thought about modeling.” Grape hadn’t meant to say that, but no one else spoke, and she felt like she had to say something. Her skin grew hot. She knew she was was blushing beyond red and into crimson mode. She’d practiced runway shows off and on in her bedroom since she was twelve, but she had never told anyone she wanted to be a model. Ever.
“Ow,” Grape cried, only then noticing that she had twisted her ring so hard it was actually cutting into her finger. A tiny drop of blood oozed out and fell to the pavement below.
“Aren’t you a little fat to be a model?” the boyfriend asked. His voice sounded like pure honey even when he spoke acid.
“You think I’m fat?” Grape stared down at her flat tummy. No one had ever called her fat before. There was still a bit of room in the waistband of her size four skirt.
“I’m just saying you could stand to lose a few pounds, unless you want the runway to collapse.”
“Ouch, Adam.” Clean-Shaven punched the boyfriend playfully on the arm.
Goatee winked at Adam. “My boy calls it like he sees it, and he sees a chunky monkey.”
“I’m well within my weight range.” She could feel her voice growing high-pitched. Damn nerves. These people were jerks.
“Of course you are, you look great,” the redhead told her. “These guys just don’t how to joke around without being completely mean.”
“We aren’t joking,” Adam said, giving his girlfriend a quick kiss on the top of her head.
Goatee pulled out his car keys. He turned his back on Grape, tired of their new toy.
“Whatever. Class is about to start. Are we skipping or staying?”
“Skipping,” the raven-haired girl peeked out to say.
Adam looked Grape over and made a face as if he’d smelled something terrible. “Yeah, I think I’m done for the day, too. I feel the need to hit the gym.”
She rubbed her hands over her stomach but it still felt flat like normal. What were they seeing that she wasn’t?
“The shirt looks nice on you,” Clean-Shaven said before climbing into the driver’s seat of the black Porsche.
“Like a muumuu on a water buffalo,” Goatee added and hopped into the driver’s seat of the yellow Porsche. The couple got into the back of his car and huddled close together.
“Mandy, you coming?” Goatee asked.
“No, I have a test,” Mandy, the redhead, said. “I’ll see you later.”
Grape waved stupidly at the drivers as the engines revved. You look like a goober, she told herself, but she could not stop waving.
“Move.” Mandy grabbed Grape by the arm and pulled her toward the sidewalk.
Grape tried to shake her arm free, but Mandy’s grip was surprisingly strong. “Let go of me.”
Mandy stared at her with an I-told-you-so look as the Porsches sped off, right through where Grape had been standing.
“Oh my God, were they going to run me over?”
Mandy shook her head. She stared after the Porsches as they pulled into traffic and sped away. Finally, she turned back to Grape and offered her an apologetic smile. “Sorry about that.”
“All of it, I guess.”
Behind the Scenes Info:“Welcome to Sortilege Falls” is my second novel. My first, “Tough Girl” was about an eleven-year-old who is slowly starving to death and loses herself in an imaginary world to combat the misery of her life. I wanted to write something happy after that and WTSF is about as “happy” as my writing gets. The idea was to come up with a main character whose very name sounds like a smile, thus Grape Merriweather was born. Stories grow and writers hardly ever end up writing the book they intended. That is definitely true with WTSF. My “happy” story grew to encompass the themes of beauty worship, celebrity, as well as delving into the mysterious relationships between child stars and their parents. In the beginning of the novel, Grape is new at school and eager to impress. She was popular back home and has never had trouble making friends. She spends over an hour the night before trying on outfits and picking the perfect one for her first day. But she is ignored by students and teachers alike. Everyone is too caught up with the beyond gorgeous models to bother with one new student. We discover this weird world along with Grape and I tried to stay true to her voice. It was very important to me that Grape wasn’t perfect, that she partially fell under the Models’ spell as well.
About the Author:
I’m a writer and improviser. I studied acting in college but spent more time rewriting lines than memorizing them. My first play, Fourth Wall, was produced my junior year. Since then, I’ve written several full length plays, one acts and screenplays. I started writing fiction in my late twenties. Now, I focus mainly on novels but still dabble in theater.
Fun facts about me: There are none. I’m sorry to disappoint you so soon. But, I do love to read, write, and run. My hubby is my favorite person on earth. Dogs are my second favorite. All dogs. I love orange juice, especially when it’s mixed with club soda. Carbonation is better than alcohol. Jaws is my favorite movie. Everything I’ve said so far is true.
Puschcart Prize Nomination for “Grow Your Own Dad” – Published by Mixer Publishing
Semi-finalist Eugene O'Neill Playwrights Conference – “STUFF”
Honorable Mention The Ohio State Newark New Play Contest – “The Last Day”
Contacting Libby: Email: email@example.com
Snail Mail: PO Box 58251/ Raleigh, NC 27616
Buy the book (currently free) at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, or in print at Lulu.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Andrew Anzur Clement will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
Pretend your protagonist is at school and opens his/her locker – what will we see inside?
A blood-red sash. A dagger. And an Ax. With any of them, Malka can take down anyone who gives her the slightest milligram of crap.
Before you ask: No. None of these items are permitted by school authorities. And no. She couldn’t care less.
What would you write in a letter to your teen self?
Lighten up at bit. You don’t have to do everything. Or be the absolute best there is at it out there. Trying to do so isn’t going to guarantee that your future is going to be perfect in every way. Take the time to poke your head up. Enjoy what’s going on around you. The expectations of others aren’t nearly as important as what you want from life. That’s really the question you need to think about answering first.
What reality show would you love to be on? Why?
I must admit. I can’t stand most reality TV. The one exception to this is the Amazing Race. I enjoyed watching it while I still lived in the US, because of the worldwide destinations they send the contestants to. And the intercultural nature of the issues they face. Maybe it’s little wonder that I wrote three books about a group of youths who are unwittingly sent on a quest that spans the globe. Where the stakes are high. The destination unknown. And the challenges to completion hard to surmount.
Ideal summer vacation.
The summer before I was about to enter my final year of high school, my family went on a trip to Spain, Portugal and France. But that was only the beginning. Two days after my return I shipped out again. This time to Male. The capital of Maldives. The country was in the process of democratizing. My job there was to teach the best practices of reporting in a democratic society to the journalists working for the national broadcaster, by working with them as a correspondent in the field. Before this process, the profession consisted mainly of reading the government press releases over the air; the job of journalist wasn’t that highly regarded. Most of them were my age (I was seventeen at the time). It was my first time in a Muslim country. I was a bit nervous, at first. But, I had a blast. The best few months I’ve spent in my life.
In Keepers of the Stone, you may notice that the names of most of the inhabitants in Malka’s camp aren’t Tamil. They’re Maldivian. The names of the friends and co-workers I met while there (To the ‘real’ Zaima, I’m sorry. It wasn’t intentional). It was a sort of homage to a time spent doing the news, with great friends and a unique sort of purpose. That, and to this day I can still swear fluently in Divehi. Best summer ever.
You’re stranded on a desert island—which character from your book do you want with you? Why?
Stas. He clearly has the most advanced survival skills of any in the bunch. Before we meet him, he’s already survived – and even thrived – for months in the wilds of Africa and India. This kind of thing would totally be in his comfort zone. He’d probably even welcome the opportunity, given the ‘civilized’ world I make him face in Keepers. Stas would probably know enough to fashion a raft from driftwood, get us the hell away from the damn place and save the day again.
You’ve just won a million dollars and you’re not allowed to save any of it. What do you spend it on?
A really nice apartment in Poland or Slovenia. (Or both! It is a million dollars, after all. Poland can get a bit chilly in the winter). They’re two of my favorite countries in the world. I’d want someplace with a suitably nice view, from which I can put my feet up and write.
Playlist for your current book.
I’m the kind of person who craves silence while drafting. But, most ideas for new plot lines come to me while listening to my favorite genre of music: Opera. An entire plot line of Voyages of Fortune, the sequel trilogy I’m penning to Keepers of the Stone, was inspired by the Royal Opera of Wallonia’s stagings of Turandot (my favorite) and Nabucco. Music from those works is often somewhere in the background of my head as I’m writing.
Who was your teenaged crush? Why?
A Pakistani girl, whose family moved from Karachi to the US. We bantered back and forth a lot, each having similar sarcastic senses of humor; I think that was how it got started. The only problem was that she came from a rather conservative Muslim family. We had to sneak around – sometimes even at school – so that none of her cousins, aunts or uncles would see us hanging out together.
Favorite class in high school. Why?
Weekend Polish language school. Yes, that’s right. I volunteered my time on the weekends to learn Polish during high school, in addition to taking every AP class you could think of during the week. It was here that my teacher first introduced me to Henryk Sienkiewicz’s In Desert and Wilderness. It quickly became my favorite novel. That work now serves as the partial back story for a plot arc in Keepers of the Stone. Yes. I think it was time well spent.
In a far corner of the British Empire, a mysterious girl gallops away on a horse, fleeing for her life. Malka has sacrificed everything to protect an all-powerful stone from falling into the hands of the malevolent Urumi. The last in a Sect of thieves, the girl is a trained killer. But will her lethal skills be enough to defeat the Shadow Warriors and their superhuman abilities?
The fate of the stone may depend on Stas, a courageous youth born into exile from a country that is not on any map. Nell, his friend since childhood, has been caught up in the Dark Order's evil designs. The young outcasts must confront demons, real and imagined, with the help of mystical new allies. Their journey will take them to distant lands and change their lives forever.
Stranded on the American frontier, Malka must stop at nothing to safeguard the all-powerful stone. She has come under the protection of a snarky felinoid – a shape-shifting girl who traces her lineage back to the court of Vlad Dracula. They must rescue with Henry, the American orphan whose thirst for knowledge could help decipher the clues to the next leg of their journey – if the Urumi don’t kill them first.
Alone in yet another strange land, Stas mourns the unthinkable loss of his friend, Nell. Cryptic messages offer new hope. But the Dark Order has devised another strategy to outwit the band of misfits. Plans are betrayed and alliances are formed as history points to the final objective of their quest.
Stas and his companions have made their way to the partitioned homeland he has never visited. He dares to hope that Nell may be alive. The doomed princess Bozhena vows revenge on the Shadow Warriors, who have enlisted Malka’s most bitter enemy in their latest plot to control the powerful stone.
With the help of a streetwise gypsy girl, the unlikely travelers must outwit the Urumi and deliver the stone to its final destination. All they have to do is put aside the differences that threaten to tear them apart. The secrets of the past hold the key to the history of the future.
Read an Excerpt from Book Three:
“Who are you?” the man asked, looking behind himself in surprise. Inside the kitchen, some of the other staff were moving to see what was going on in the lobby. That could not be allowed. The kitchen employee turned back to find himself looking down the barrel of a six-shot revolver.
“I’m the one who’s pointing a gun in your face. Let me in. Now,” Stas demanded.
The man seemed to hesitate for only a second before stepping aside, placing his frame against the open door. Holding the weapon with both hands, Stas edged forward. In front of him, he could see the kitchen. It was a rather dark space. Various dishes sat on the stone counters in different stages of preparation. Most of the staff looked at him with stares of fear and shock. When Stas used to dream of coming to his family’s home city, this was just one more way in which it had not at all been the experience he’d had in mind.
There was a sudden yowl, followed by the sound of a foot impacting with flesh and a body crumpling to the floor. Stas glanced back just long enough to see that Liza – now in her human form – had taken down a younger man, about Stas’s age, with a side kick. He had been waiting beside the doorframe, apparently intending to attack the Slav from behind with a butcher’s knife. Kneeling quickly, Liza retrieved the cutting tool, which was smeared with blood from some kind of beef or pork meat. Standing in the doorway, she raised it up to a point beside her head. The felinoid turned the blade towards herself as she inspected it briefly, before allowing the ends of her lips to curl slightly upwards, while jutting out her lower jaw. Concurrently she nodded twice, as if deciding that this would do nicely.
“Let’s move!” the felinoid barked at Stas.
About the Author:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Andrew-Anzur-Clement/e/B071RRWN6B
Buy the book at Amazon, Amazon UK, iBook, Kobo, or Barnes and Noble.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Friday, November 3, 2017
This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Val Muller will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC and a download code for The Girl Who Flew Away, a download code for The Scarred Letter, a print copy (US only) of The Man with the Crystal Ankh, and an ebook of Corgi Capers: Deceit on Dorset Drive, to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
Thanks for stopping by, Val. Why do you write juvenile fiction? What draws you to it?
A publisher told me that I must have either graduated from high school or be surrounded by teenagers all day since my characters act modern and realistic. As a high school teacher, I see teenagers every day, and as a writer, I observe them—their goals, their problems, their milestones.
For me, knowing that young adults are my primary audience means that I have a chance to influence them in their formative years. Books have had a significant impact on me, as growing up I would often ask myself what my favorite character might tell me in a given situation. I realize I have that same opportunity. In The Girl Who Flew Away, I wanted to address the heroin epidemic that seems to be overtaking many in this nation, examining it in terms of how it affects the families of the victims. I also wanted to show readers that while our pasts necessarily have an impact on us, they alone do not write our future.
I know it’s cheesy, but Doc Brown’s quote from Back to the Future III has always stayed with me: “Your future hasn’t been written yet… so make it a good one.” Through my novels, I hope to inspire and provide hope.
What books were your favorite as a youth and why?
I must have read every book in the Fear Street series. I always loved horror because it forced me to think beyond the limits of everyday life. In America, we tend to believe we are immune from so much, but all it takes is one major earthquake, one wildfire, one hurricane, to make us realize otherwise. The horror books forced me to think about ways my ordinary life might be turned upside down.
On a similar note, I loved Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. In it, a boy is the sole survivor of a small plane crash. It’s a survival story, and what I liked was its ability to strip down the character to his bare essentials. Situations that push us like that show our true character. I’m reminded of a time in grad school when, leaving an evening class, a large fawn charged me and a friend in the parking lot. At least, we thought it was charging us. And we thought it was a huge dog. We were alone, and there was nowhere to run with only a few cars left in the parking lot. We had no time to think, only to act. By the time the “dog” passed us (and we realized it was a deer, and much more terrified than we were as it searched for its missing mother), we had let our instincts take over. I found myself standing with my backpack raised above my head ready to strike down if attacked. My friend found herself standing behind me, her hands on my shoulders using me as a shield. After the adrenaline wore off, we laughed about it. But it made me realize I am stronger than I thought. And that’s what we take away from books: characters are challenged to their breaking points and come back stronger.
I read voraciously as a kid, everything from The Witch of Blackbird Pond to The Lord of the Rings. Anything in which characters are tested beyond the ordinary.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?
I always wanted to be a writer. As a kid, I forced my younger sister to be in my “club” (which had various iterations, such as “The Totally Tubular Two’s Treehouse Club.”) Our required meeting activities involved writing and sharing stories. My sister was a good sport—I could tell she had no interest in writing stories. Perhaps she channeled her irritation at me into her stories themselves. In every one of them, nearly every character died in the end…including bears, girls, flowers, anything! And she was only in grade school.
Several teachers in elementary school encouraged my writing, including my first grade teacher (probably my most influential teacher even though she passed away early in the school year), who had me read a poem I wrote to the fifth grade class, and several other teachers whose end-of-year notes to me involved plans to look for my work in books and magazines in the future.
What would you write in a letter to your teen self?
Although I’d be tempted to answer all of my problems and explain what is important and what is not, what I should have freaked out about and what I should have left alone, I would say instead simply this:
It’s all a process. The human condition is such that wisdom and happiness only comes as the result of struggle and pain. If some deus ex machina came and gave us all the answers, we would be empty inside. The closest thing we have to The Answer is stories—stories in books, on television, stories we tell our children. We can use these stories to shape our understanding of our own journeys, but there is no replacement for the wisdom of experience. It’s the paradox captured in Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” We are human. We are flawed. Things are sweetest when we have known loss or know it is coming. We can only appreciate wisdom when we earn it through experience and the suffering that is part of it.
What candy do you give out at Halloween?
Funny story. I do buy a bag of candy at Halloween, but it’s for myself. I live in the middle of nowhere, and (as I was informed by kids in my neighborhood), it’s “too much like a hike” to trick-or-treat in my neighborhood. In four years, we had only one trick-or-treater, and that was the neighbors, coming back and seeing our jack-o-lantern lit the first year we moved in. It was a “pity visit,” and their daughter left with the entire bag of candy. All the kids get dropped off at the development a few miles down the road, where houses are much closer together and candy bags get filled much more easily. As for the candy I’m buying myself this year, probably Kit Kats.
What book is on your nightstand currently?
Dante’s Inferno. I have never read the entire thing, and I thought it was time. It’s such a cornerstone of our literature and culture, even if indirectly, that I thought I’d kick it off my bucket list. Ever since I was left for days without power after Hurricane Isabel (during which time I had countless hours to ponder), I have wanted to write something in a classical tradition, such as the Inferno or Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. I have several ideas, but I haven’t quite had the time to digest my life experiences yet.
Favorite TV show from your childhood?
Excuse the geekiness, but it was Star Trek: The Next Generation. My family and I made it part of our weekly ritual during which we broke practically every household rule: we got to eat pizza and soda (soda was not generally allowed in our house) on TV trays while sitting on the couch.
My favorite thing about Star Trek: TNG is that it helped me question my own humanity. Here were humans from the future, light years from home, and yet they were confronted with the same questions we ask ourselves today. What makes us human? What is our purpose? What are the essentials that make us human?
The scariest scene from the show, which I still fear today and which likely inspired my darker works, such as The Man with the Crystal Ankh, is when the crew of the starship is not getting REM sleep. As a result, everyone is flipping out. The ship’s doctor at one point hallucinates, and in her vision, a room full of shrouded corpses on exam tables actually sit up in unison. Completely terrifying.
What four literary characters would you most like to have over for dinner?
Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter. She is an inspiration to me (and the reason I wrote The Scarred Letter as a way to bring Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tale to the modern teen reader).
Aragorn from Lord of the Rings. I was always fascinated with the pressure he dealt with. Although I’d much rather talk to Gandalf (the wizard), I would probably end up geeking out and not be able to say anything at all if he were there.
Odysseus for sure. Who else would be able to give me first-hand accounts of mythological creatures and struggles?
I don’t know if this counts as literary, but The Doctor from Doctor Who. I would convince him to let me be his (or her, now!) companion for a little while. What a way to travel through space and time! If The Doctor doesn’t count, then Piscine from The Life of Pi. He is all about stories, and I would love to hear some of his.
Create an ice cream flavor. What’s it called?
It’s called “Snow Melter.” It’s dark chocolate with fudge swirled in along with pieces of marshmallow-soaked chocolate poke cake and mini dark chocolate chips. I know, I know.
It’s based on an actual experience I had: there was a snowstorm that started just before rush hour. As a teacher, I was home safe and sound (because schools had been dismissed), but my husband was stuck in the city. Rather than taking the commuter bus home (which we both knew would be a disaster, and it was: the bus returned home at 4 a.m. the next day!), I decided I would pick him up from the metro station. I grew up in New England and knew how to drive in snow, so I was not worried. But Virginia drivers do not know how to deal with even a few flakes. It ended up taking me from 2 in the afternoon until 11:45 at night to go less than 30 miles to pick him up. Other commuters were in the same situation waiting for rides, and they had planted themselves in the lobby of a hotel like urban refugees. I had not eaten dinner, so after running to the bathroom of the lobby, the first thing I did was raid the hotel convenience store, which featured an ice cream pint not dissimilar to what I described above. I am not an emotional person, but I did consume that entire pint as my husband drove us home—and it was therapeutic. (I blogged about the experience: http://www.valmuller.com/2012/01/07/the-great-snow-nightmare-part-1, if you want to know more).
Sarah Durante awakens to find herself haunted by the spirit of her high school’s late custodian. After the death of his granddaughter, Custodian Carlton Gray is not at peace. He suspects a sanguisuga is involved—an ancient force that prolongs its own life by consuming the spirits of others. Now, the sanguisuga needs another life to feed its rotten existence, and Carlton wants to spare others from the suffering his granddaughter endured. That’s where Sarah comes in. Carlton helps her understand that she comes from a lineage of ancestors with the ability to communicate with the dead. As Sarah hones her skill through music, she discovers that the bloodlines of Hollow Oak run deep. The sanguisuga is someone close, and only she has the power to stop it.
Already in trouble for a speeding ticket, Ali insists that Steffie say nothing about Madison’s disappearance. Even when Madison’s mother comes looking for her. Even when the police question them.
Some secrets are hard to hide, though—especially with Madison’s life on the line. As she struggles between coming clean or going along with her manipulative sister’s plan, Steffie begins to question if she or anyone else is really who she thought they were. After all, the Steffie she used to know would never lie about being the last person to see Madison alive—nor would she abandon a friend in the woods: alone, cold, injured, or even worse.
But when Steffie learns an even deeper secret about her own past, a missing person seems like the least of her worries…
Excerpt from The Man with the Crystal Ankh:
She picked up the instrument and set it onto her shoulder. A calmness passed into her, as if the violin exuded energy—as if it had a soul. The varnish had faded and dulled. Its life force did not come from its appearance. She brought the bow to the strings, which was still rosined and ready to play. Dragging the bow across the four strings, she found the instrument perfectly in tune.
Sarah took a deep breath and imagined the song, the way the notes melted into each other in nostalgic slides, the way her spirit seemed to pour from her soul that day.
And then it was happening again.
She had started playing without realizing it. Warm, resonant notes poured from the instrument and spilled into the room. They were stronger, and much more powerful, than those she was used to. This instrument was different than the factory-made one her parents had bought for her. Rosemary’s violin was singing to the world from its very soul. And it was happening just as before. Sarah’s energy flowed from her body, causing her to lose consciousness and gain perspective all at once. She rode the air on a lofty run of eighth notes. She echoed off the ceiling with a rich and resonant vibrato. She flew past the guests, who had all quieted to listen to her music; flew past the table of cold cuts and appetizers and up the darkened staircase, where she resonated against the walls and found her way into the guest room. There, she crept along a whole note and slid into the closet.
As the song repeated, she twirled around in the closet, spinning in a torrent of passionate notes. She searched through the notebooks and books on the floor and on the shelves, searched for an open notebook, for something she could read, something that might make her feel tied to the place. Otherwise, she might spin out of control and evaporate out the window and into the sky. She found her anchor on the floor in the darkest corner of the closet, a large parchment—maybe a poster. The notes spun around her in a dizzying way as she tried to stay still enough to read what was on the paper. It was a difficult task; now, with every beat her body downstairs tried to reclaim its energy.
About the Author: Teacher, writer, and editor, Val Muller grew up in haunted New England but now lives in the warmer climes of Virginia, where she lives with her husband. She is owned by two rambunctious corgis and a toddler. The corgis have their own page and book series at www.CorgiCapers.com.
Val’s young adult works include The Scarred Letter, The Man with the Crystal Ankh, and The Girl Who Flew Away and feature her observations as a high school teacher as well as her own haunted New England past. She blogs weekly at www.ValMuller.com.
The Girl Who Flew Away:
Free preview + discount code: http://barkingrainpress.org/girl-who-flew-away/
The Man with the Crystal Ankh:
a Rafflecopter giveaway