Saturday, December 21, 2013
Midwinter's Giveaway Hop 2013
Welcome to the Midwinter's Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Bookhounds.
Thanks for visiting my blog! As you can see, we love juvenile fiction books in all shapes, sizes, lengths and genres and post reviews, giveaways, interviews and guest blogs, contests and more.
To win my Midwinter's Giveaway Hop giveaway, all I ask is that you follow my blog. There's a Rafflecopter right at the end of the post. Earn a second entry by suggestion some of the YA/Middle Grade books you'd choose if you win (I always need help building my TBR pile)!
One winner will receive their choice of a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC!
It's so easy to enter! Just FOLLOW ME! And a comment with a book suggestion earns you another entry.
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Good luck! And check out the other participants for more great prizes.
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Initiation by Rayna Noire - Virtual Book tour and Giveaway
Today we're visiting with author Rayna Noire on her tour with Bewitching Book Tours for Initiation. She'll be giving away 5 print copies of her book (US only), and a $50 Amazon GC via the rafflecopter at the end of this post.
PAGAN EYES CHARACTERS INTERVIEW/Esmeralda Hare
Today, we are talking with Esmeralda Hare. She’s the family matriarch of the Carpenter Family, an integral part of the Pagan Eyes series.
(Esmeralda clears her throat.) Esmeralda: Excuse me; I am the matriarch of the Hare family, not the Carpenter family. My daughter happened to marry a Carpenter, but that does not change who she is or who I am. The matriarch of the Carpenter family took off with a visiting evangelist. You could try tracking her down, but I doubt you’d have any luck with that.
(Interviewer is flustered.) Well now, Mrs. Hare. Tell me about your family.
Esmeralda: You can call me Madame Esmeralda, like my clients. Since you are so young, I might even let you call me Nana like my grandchildren do. My husband Buell and I only have one child, Maura. She’s exceptionally precious to me. Family is everything to the Romany. With Buell disappearing, I held my daughter and her family very close.
Interviewer: Your husband disappeared?
Esmeralda: Yes, he did. Left me a note about having to do something. Don’t get the wrong idea. He’s didn’t take up with some traveling evangelist like some. If he had to do something, then I believe it. Still, it’s been hard on me. Having the love of your life blink out of existence is a shock.
Interviewer: Did you search for him?
(Esmeralda glares at the interviewer.) Esmeralda: Do you think I would not look for my soul mate? I did. We did. Brought in the police, the ceremonial magicians, even a psychic who knew him well attempted astral projection, but no sign of Buell anywhere. There was no sense of his essence.
(Interviewer covers heart.) Interviewer: Do you think he might be…
Esmeralda: Dead. I thought of it. Even got my friend, Trisha, to do a séance. The spirits have not seen him, which means he isn’t dead. My only explanation is he has slipped into another dimension or time.
(Interviewer looks doubtful.)
Esmeralda: I recognize that expression. You think the old woman has gone around the bend due to grief over her loss. Think again, missy. There is a lot that goes on in this world that you miss because you refuse to believe. Ever wonder about people who mysteriously disappear?
Interviewer: I always assumed they were a crime victim or simply ran away.
Esmeralda: Some do, that’s true enough. Others stumble into time portals that are scattered throughout the planet. Maybe you heard of Einstein.
Interviewer: What does Einstein have to do with your husband?
Esmeralda: Buell met him once, but that’s beside the point. He described time as being folded on itself as opposed to being linear as most people believe. With that in mind, there are times when we can experience other times or even slip into them. I believe people leave emotional imprints. Have you ever visited a place of suffering like Alcatraz prison or a Nazi death camp? (Interviewer nods.)
Esmeralda: You probably felt a sense of oppression or hopelessness pulling at you. Some are more sensitive than others. I believe that need often pulls people in. That might have happened to Buell, but unfortunately, I don’t where he went. Interviewer: That must be rough on you.
Esmeralda: It is. More so now.
Interviewer: Why is that?
Esmeralda: My youngest granddaughter, Leah, is being pulled back in the past.
(Interviewer looks shocked.) Interviewer: What are you going to do?
Esmeralda: I’m not sure there is much we can do if it is her destiny. I bestowed protective amulets upon her. Amelia, another talented friend, is creating her an enchanted garment, but other than that, there is no alternative. All we can do is pool all our intentions and focus on a successful conclusion.
Interviewer: It seems like so little.
Esmeralda: It is more help than most get. In the end, everyone has to walk their own path, no matter their age.
Leah Carpenter thought being the only witch in her local high school was hard. That was until she inexplicably found herself in the past running from an angry mob, which turned out to be much harder. Lionel, the man in charge of the mob, holds a grudge against a girl he calls Arabella. He thinks she’s Arabella.
Luckily, just about the time it looks as if she’s done for she pops back into her century. This causes trouble at school, but at least she has an understanding family. What happens in the past can hurt her. The whiplashes covering her body are proof enough. Her Nana believes she has to right a wrong in the past to stay in the present and go out with her crush, Dylan. What she discovers in the past is an evil so pure that it makes her blood run cold. She might not ever make it back for geometry class or more importantly a possible date with Dylan.
About the author: Rayna Noire is an author and a historian. The desire to uncover the truth behind the original fear of witches led her to the surprising discovery that people believed in magick in some form up to 150 years ago. A world that believed the impossible could happen and often did must have been amazing. With this in mind, Ms. Noire taps into this dimension, shapes it into stories about Pagan families who really aren’t that different from most people. They do go on the occasional time travel adventures and magick happens.
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Monday, December 16, 2013
The Courtyard Series: Sworn to Raise by Terah Edun - Review and Giveaway
This review is posted as part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a $25 Amazon or BN Giftcard + Swag Pack of Bookmarks, Posters & Magnets to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
Young Adult Fantasy
Seventeen-year-old Ciardis has grown up in poverty, a cleaner in a small vale on the outskirts of the empire. But beneath her empire’s seemingly idyllic surface lies a hidden secret. Whispers of an inept crown Prince are growing ever louder—intensified by the five year anniversary of the soulbond initiations.
Amidst scandalous whispers, Ciardis finds herself chosen to train for the Companion’s Guild. She leaves her home and sets off on a personal journey to become a Court Companion. A position she’d never thought possible for a lowly servant to obtain, she must prove that she has the skills to attract a Patron.
But she must master those skills quickly. If the legends are true, only Ciardis can harness the power to raise a Prince in an Imperial Court sworn to bring him down.
This sensational series debut melds intricate storylines with remarkable characters and unforgettable magic. Sworn To Raise is ideal for fans of Kristin Cashore, Michelle Sagara, and Maria Snyder.
Ciardia, an orphan and laundress, win the figurative lottery. She is spotted by one of the Companions and chosen to join the ranks of the Companion's Guild. Her sponsor, Serena, has a feeling that there is more to Ciardia than meets the eye and, boy, is she ever right.
I enjoyed this book--and I really like the character of Ciardia. I only wish there had been more character development and a fuller view of the friendships that Ciardia makes within the guild (as well as a little more depth as to why the rest of the people at the guild dislike her so much). With a little more depth to the story, this could have easily been a 5 star book.
Even with that, the book is very interesting. I like the relationship that is developing between Ciardia and Sebastian. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series to find out what else is in store for these characters.
Read an excerpt:
She stared at the longbow arrow jutting from the animal’s ribs. However, it wasn't enough to bring him down. Only a blade or magical blast to the heart could do that. In pain and fury, the white hart elk whirled around to face his tormentor. He saw the general a dozen feet away and charged. Ciardis watched as the elk raced toward the general, who now clutched a sword in his hands. The elk lowered his rack to spear the invader.
The general knew that he would have one chance to slay the beast. He just needed to get underneath its jaw and pierce straight through to the heart. Ciardis scrambled up and dashed toward the two combatants. She couldn't do anything from here; the elk's magical protection was already going down, thanks to the verbane-laced arrow, and there was no way she'd get a heart-shot in from behind.
Barnaren glanced at her. His concentration had been broken by Ciardis's movement, and he quickly looked away. The elk reached him in that moment and Barnaren had to dodge to the side and under its angry hooves. It wasn't quite enough. His sword stroke missed, but as the stag raced past, it managed to spear the general's thigh with a tine. The tine snapped off in a clean break, but another immediately grew in its place.
The blood poison of the tines did its work within seconds. General Barnaren collapsed, unable to move his leg. His sword lay a few feet to one side.
About the Author: Terah Edun is a young adult fantasy writer born and raised in the Atlanta metropolitan area, who transplanted to the Northeast region for college, and has spent years living abroad in South Sudan and Morocco. She writes the stories that she always loved to read as a young girl.
Connect with Terah:
Author Site: http://teedun.com/
Buy Sworn to Raise at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Dragon Fire by Dina von Lowenkraft - Virtual Tour and Giveaway
Today we're visiting with author Dina von Lowenkraft on his tour with Bewitching Book Tours for Dragon Fire. She'll be giving away 10 eBooks and 2 print books via the rafflecopter at the end of this post.
Why YA fiction? What draws you to it?
I love the themes of self-discovery, of first (true?) love, of questioning everything you have ever known, of knowing you have the power to change the world and that feeling of endless possibility that we all had/have as teenagers but that all too often people forget as they move on to their 20’s and 30’s and get caught up in their jobs, families, responsibilities etc. I never sat down and asked myself what I should write - it just came naturally that the themes I always write about are all YA whether I write fantasy or sci-fi.
What’s your favorite sweet treat?
One? only one? I have too many to choose one... basically I love desserts, especially ones with chocolate like a ‘mi-cuit’ or a ‘fondant’ (think brownie but even better - a little lighter, but just as chocolatey) or with cream (think tiramisu or creme brulee - or even just a good scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam) or anything with butter and sugar, preferably melted together (think crepes beurre sucre)... oh my, I’m getting hungry just thinking about all these things, hmm... which one should I make first?
Favorite hot beverage. Why?
One? Seriously? Or maybe I’m the only one who does multiple kinds of hot drinks, all day long? Since I get too wired on caffeine, I usually limit (real) coffee and tea to the morning - but will have decaf (one or the other) in the afternoon. And I love herbal teas in the evening - right now I’m having one of my favorites, a loose leaf herbal blend from Germany.
Ideal summer vacation.
By myself with lots of time to write on a snow-covered mountain by the ocean with my family enjoying the sun and surf. No? Doesn’t work? Why not? OK, OK - some of my (real) ideal/dream places are Cape Cod, anywhere in Norway, or right here in the fields of Belgium with our horses. With time to write and my family, cocktails in the lingering light of sunset with friends, dinner by a campfire on the beach, a hike in the woods or across a glacier, and a bunch of good books to read.
You’re stranded on a desert island—which character from your book do you want with you? Why?
1. He’s hot (my husband had better not be reading this!)
2. He’s resourceful
3. He could just shift us elsewhere - but we can pretend he can’t because, well, you know... answer number 1 still applies.
4. He’s a shapeshifting dragon and he takes care of the people he cares about
5. He can manipulate matter and create fire - could come in handy, don’t you think?
6. He’s hot. I already said that? OK, um... he’s kind and generous and I’m sure he’ll figure out how to either get us off the island or make the island a very nice place to be. And he’s... never mind... you know what I mean!
Favorite pizza toppings.
Cheese. Any kind of cheese. I love cheese. Lots of it. I don’t eat meat and here in Belgium there isn’t a huge veggie choice in pizza toppings, but in the US I love grilled vegetables. With extra cheese, of course!
Create an ice cream flavor. What’s it called?
One? why one? why always only ONE? so two, at least two... first one that popped up in my mind is YUM - a dessert I made up based on a Tiramisu recipe, but without the coffee dipped lady fingers. It is a creamy mascarpone and egg base that I top with raspberries. The ice cream version would be a creamy, rich vanilla base laced with raspberry coulis (a smooth, strained raspberry sauce). YUM.
The other one would be Matcha with pistachio (called Matcha Crunch?) - don’t ask, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just the color... but I’d try it - and if it’s no good, well, I’ll just have to get another YUM!
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 it to Allan Savory to continue his work on fighting desertification and reversing climate change. If you haven’t heard of his work, check out his Ted Talk on ted.com.
Favorite class in high school. Why?
A literature class in my junior year - it was a pilot class and we would read a book from Monday to Wednesday (including heavy hitters like Dostoevsky), discuss it on Thursday and then hand in a 10-15 page paper on Friday. And start all over again the next week. I loved the class because it was challenging and exciting. I learned how to analyze what I was reading, write a paper and defend my ideas - all with a dozen other people who were just as passionate about literature as I was. It also got me over the fear of deadlines and over-thinking what I was writing - there was just no time to worry about it!
Thank you so much for having me on your blog!
Genre: YA fantasy romance
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
BN * Amazon * ARe
Some choices are hard to live with.
But some choices will kill you.
When seventeen-year-old Anna first meets Rakan in her hometown north of the Arctic Circle, she is attracted to the pulsing energy that surrounds him. Unaware that he is a shapeshifting dragon, Anna is drawn into a murderous cycle of revenge that pits Rakan and his clan against her best friend June.
Torn between his forbidden relationship with Anna, punishable by death, and restoring his family’s honor by killing June, Rakan must decide what is right. And what is worth living – or dying – for.
Born in the US, Dina von Lowenkraft has lived on 4 continents, worked as a graphic artist for television and as a consultant in the fashion industry. Somewhere between New York and Paris she picked up an MBA and a black belt. Dina is currently the Regional Advisor for SCBWI Belgium, where she lives with her husband, two children and three horses.
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Monday, December 9, 2013
The Secret Diary of Sarah Chamberlain by Sarah Norkus - Review
This review is posted as part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sarah will award a $20 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
A week later, Em finishes the diary. Emotions well up inside her as she rereads the last page. The diary holds no clues to the location of the gold. But it is clear that Sarah believes that her husband, Robert, was murdered by the guards in charge of the Union prison where he was being held. Tears slide down Em’s cheeks as she thinks about the senseless murder of the man Sarah loved. She slips the diary back in her pocket planning to return it to the attic while helping her mother clean the old house in Petersburg.
While scrubbing black scuffmarks off the kitchen floor in the Petersburg house, Em has an emotional meltdown. She shouts her list of grievances, including Robert’s murder, before God. Em ends her tirade by saying that since God has done nothing to help her or Sarah she doesn’t believe he really exists. Almost immediately, she is overcome with vertigo and passes out.
Slowly regaining consciousness, Em looks around in confusion. The kitchen has been replaced by a nineteenth century parlor.
I found the story behind the Secret Diary of Sarah Chamberlain quite intriguing - I really like the development of the characters and how I can identify a trait within myself with one of theirs. I enjoyed how Em dealt with everyday life, and how she eventually bonds strongly with her mom. Being shown one world, then another when Em was whipped back into the Civil war was wonderful. I liked reading, then seeing the people come to life. I also like the positive impact that Em has on Sarah's life, completely changing the plot in the diary.
I did have a hard time keeping up with the pace. It was a little fast for my liking, with no time to register what happens before moving on to the next idea. However, it does keep the pages turning. I did enjoy the ideas behind the plot, and how nicely everything fit together in the story.
My favorite parts were the love that the characters had for each other, how one would sacrifice everything for another's well being. It was sweet, and it was caring.
Please continue to write excellent stories for those who like time travel, history, young adult, and love.
Enjoy this excerpt:
Em struggled her way back to consciousness. Moving her cheek on the floor, she puzzled at the sensation. Linoleum was supposed to be smooth and hard, not soft. She slowly opened her eyes and blinked at a table leg about a half an inch from her nose. Wiggling on her belly away from the table leg, Em placed her hands flat and prepared to push herself up. Her eyes widened. Her hands were on either side of a large, red rose embroidered into a rug. She jerked in shock, banging her head on the bottom of a wooden table.
“Ouch,” Em said, rubbing the top of her head.
After scooting backward so she wouldn’t hit her head again, Em sat up and looked around the room. Gone were the sink and the shiny, new chrome faucets. Gone, too, were the refrigerator and stove. In fact, the whole kitchen had disappeared, along with the worn linoleum. “That’s no great loss; in fact, that’s the best part of this crazy dream I’m having,” Em thought.
Em’s brows knitted together. She must be dreaming, although she couldn’t remember ever having the sensation of touch in a dream. Her fingers rubbed across the pile of the rug.
On the ledge over the fireplace, which was no longer bricked in, sat a clock. It ticked rhythmically and showed the time to be ten o’clock. To the right of the fireplace was a beautiful needlepoint chair. Two dark wood chairs faced each other, their cushions upholstered in a floral pattern. One rested to the left of the fireplace, the other was next to the doorway. Each chair had a walnut wooden table next to it, with an oil lamp on each. Against the far wall was a settee, the cushion a slightly worn dusty rose. The walls were painted a moss green. The heavy drapes on the windows next to the fireplace matched the settee. Chills ran down Em’s spine. It all looked so real.
Turning around to look behind her, Em saw the antique writing table that had been sent out to be restored. A small dark wooden chair perched between the drawers. Trembling, Em pushed herself up off the floor on shaky legs. She tentatively touched the smooth surface of the writing table.
“Mom!” Em screamed.
A door slammed and Em heard footsteps.
But instead of her mother, the biggest black man she had ever seen filled the doorway. He wore a stained and faded white shirt and calf-length brown work pants. His feet were bare and covered in dirt. His short cropped hair looked like a gray Brillo pad. He held a long-handled, curved knife. Em took a step backward, lost her balance, and fell, hitting her head on the mantle of the fireplace. Pain exploded in her head. She crumpled to the floor.
About the Author:
Getting a late start, Sarah didn’t pen her first book until she was forty-eight. “I was too busy globe-trotting with my army husband and raising two daughters.” But she is quickly making up for lost time with five manuscripts completed and three published books in the last eight years: the creative non-fiction, The Eleventh Summer, a general fiction, Until The Wind Changes, and a Christian historical fantasy, The Secret Diary Of Sarah Chamberlain. “I tend to be all over the map genre-wise, writing whatever sparks my imagination.”
Sarah is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the National Society Daughters of American Revolution, Toastmasters International and the American Red Cross. She grew up in Lexington, KY, but now resides in Colonial Heights, VA with her retired military officer husband, Michael.
Facebook author page
@snkusbooks Twitter handle
List of online stores to click on to buy book
Buy the book at Amazon
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Friday, December 6, 2013
King of Bad by Kai Strand - Review and Giveaway
This review is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Kai will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC plus a signed book mark to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour (International) via the Rafflecopter at the end of this post. You can see the rest of the stops by clicking the tour banner.
Contemporary Fantasy Young Adult
Jeff Mean would rather set fires than follow rules or observe curfew. He wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie; that is until he learns he has superpowers and is recruited by Super Villain Academy – where you learn to be good at being bad. In a school where one kid can evaporate all the water from your body and the girl you hang around with can perform psychic sex in your head, bad takes on a whole new meaning. Jeff wonders if he’s bad enough for SVA.
He may never find out. Classmates vilify him when he develops good manners. Then he’s kidnapped by those closest to him and left to wonder who is good and who is bad. His rescue is the climactic episode that balances good and evil in the super world. The catalyst – the girl he’s crushing on. A girlfriend and balancing the Supers is good, right? Or is it…bad?
My Review: King of Bad starts strong. The writer has a strong sense of characterization and did a fantastic job populating her story with distinct, unique people who were interesting and real (or as real as a school full of kids with super powers can be).
At first I struggled to like Jeff ... I'm just not an anti-hero fan. But once he gets to the SVA, it's clear he's not a bad kid and he started to grow on me (especially when we see how much he loves his fish, Pucker).
I enjoyed watching him struggle through his learning curve, make friends (and enemies) and basically find his way in this new life that seems to have chosen him. I admit to being a bit surprised at the sheer number of kids in these various schools, and had to really suspend my need for realism then, and I wasn't sure how I felt about his mom and dad once their secrets were shared. I had some trouble believing how neatly they were able to get along in life.
Still, I was a huge fan of this book right to the end, which mostly confused me. I read it three times, and I'm still not entirely certain what happened. However, it the fault might just lie with me and I will rave again at the overall plot and, most importantly, the author's skill with wordsmithing. That alone would be enough for me to seek out her next release and give it a try.
Enjoy an Excerpt:
“Source, who is she?”
Source followed Jeff’s line of vision. “Oh, that’s Oceanus. Don’t even think it, kid. She’s already found a match.”
“What do you mean?”
“See the guy next to her?”
“The skinny red head?” Jeff hoped.
“No, the other one.”
“Oh, the Adonis?” Jeff’s heart fell. He’d no hope to thwart the god-like S.V. seated next to Oceanus.
“Not far off. People call him Set. The God of chaos, storm, wind. He’s a great guy.” Sarcasm wrapped around Source’s words. “Descended from a long line of super villains Known he’s an S.V. his whole life so came to the school ready to rule from what I hear. Real nasty character, even for an S.V. You don’t want to piss him off.”
“Oh, I won’t piss him off. I don’t go looking for trouble.” Jeff considered his life before the academy and real-ized that looking for trouble was the only thing he used to do. He amended his statement, saying, “Much.”
His stomach knotted. Had the academy turned him into a coward?
Source chuckled. “Don’t worry. You’ll get a name and things will settle into some sort of normal. Once we figure out what your root ability is, I’ll help you develop it. Though, after your hulk impersonation, I doubt anyone will dare taunt you.”
Jeff felt the anxiety lift. Source was okay for a bad guy.
About the Author:
You can usually find Kai online at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KaiStrandAuthor or Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaiStrand
Barnes and Noble:
Add it to Goodreads:
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Thursday, December 5, 2013
Quen Nim by Steve Shilstone -- Review and Giveaway
This review is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions.
Steve will be awarding a $10 Wild Child Publishing GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
You can see the rest of the stops by clicking on the tour banner.
On the day the vows are to be exchanged, her startling violet eyes flash in disbelief when she learns that Zootch has fled Blossom in terror, saying he’s always been afraid of Nimble Missst.
Newly enraged, she sets off in hot pursuit of the Prince. It becomes a game of hide and seek, pitting the snapjaw mind of Nimble Missst against the surprising cleverness of Zootch.
Nimble Misst is a shapeshifting princess... but not the sort who turn into wolves or other creatures. She can turn into clouds--- after all, she's a princess from Cloud Castle City. And, there is an arranged marriage in store for her--with the Blossom Prince, Zooch.
She has a snapjaw brain and wants to escape the marriage until the tables are turned and she discovers that Zootch doesn't want the marriage any more than she does and... in fact, is afraid of her and has run away.
This series is so much fun--it's enjoyable discovering other facts about it through the different chronicles! This particular story takes place long before the material in the first book... and is, in fact, a story told by Bekka in her unique way. Nimble comes to realize that, instead of really running way, she is engaged in a battle of wits, because Zooch also has a "snapjaw brain" only he kept his hidden.
The story plays out as the Zooch tries to outsmart Nim by leaving clues.. but staying one step ahead of her. And, there's a hidden player in this game.
You don't need to read the other books in the series to enjoy this short volume, but be aware that the language and the way the stories are written have it's own rhythm and may take you awhile to get comfortable with if you aren't familiar with is. But, the stories are, as Nim would say, ridiculously good. And, I hope there are more stories about Nimble's family... I haven't read all the books in the series and need to double check on that.
About the Author:
His author website – www.SteveShilstone.com
His fantasy site – http://bekkaofthorns.com
His dada site, Anvil in a Lace Bootie – http://dochortonsloondiary.com
Publisher of his fantasy series – http://www.wildchildpublishing.com
Publisher of his print child of hippies novel, Vineyard’s Children, due out in December 2013 – www.livingstonpress.uwa.edu
Buy the book at Wild Child Publishing.
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