Friday, March 28, 2014

Seventeen by Mark Diehl - Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Enter the Rafflecopter below to win a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card. You can see the other stops on the tour by clicking the tour banner.

How I handled the research for the book

The premise of “Seventeen” is that, because of the way we live now, with bigger organizations being better able to provide insurance and other benefits and controlling an increasing share of the world’s resources, eventually non-corporate characteristics like individuality and creativity will be eliminated from the human genome.

That is, I believe we are evolving into a corporate species.

As I became increasingly obsessed with the idea, I followed whatever questions arose. Some I could just figure out, like the fact that Japan is clearly the world’s most corporate society. Corporations are at the heart of everything there. I studied some Japanese history, just trying to get a feel for how the culture developed over time, what made it the way it is.

I looked for other cultures that had similar trajectories, similar patterns of development, and I found some similarities in ancient Rome. I realized that there were patterns that endured, things that all of the world’s most efficient societies shared. It became clear that common to all was a rigid and often brutal hierarchy.

That made a certain degree of sense to me. Every army in the world became an extreme, top-down hierarchy in short order, because those that didn’t were wiped out by their neighbors, who through enforcement of blind obedience had transformed into more efficient killing machines. Murder has always been part of life among the humans, but organized, massive campaigns of murder are the result of mind control and a chain of command. True evil began when one man learned he could control the mind of another.

I saw that if I wanted to show how that trend is now continuing (i.e. how corporations and other entities are building militaristic hierarchies), I would need to write a book set in the future. I did research into food production and genetic engineering, to see how people would eat, and I discovered that it’s likely that all food will soon be engineered. That led me to think about other things that could come from biotech, like medicines and even tangible items like furniture. I read about biochemistry and decided that bacteria were the most likely sources of the future world’s food and medicine, and possibly for most everything else, because they’re easy to reprogram and have little else to them beyond protein manufacturing. Splice a few genes, a strain of bacteria starts producing a new substance, and the corporations profit from every bite you take, not by supplying you with the meal, but by owning your right to consume it.

From there I took the story step by step, imagining what would happen in a certain circumstance and then researching parts that I saw would change over time, then revising the original idea to match what the facts had helped me realize.

Most of the world's seventeen billion people are unconscious, perpetually serving their employers as part of massive brain trusts. The ecosystem has collapsed, and corporations control all of the world's resources and governments. A bedraggled alcoholic known as the Prophet predicts nineteen year-old waitress Eadie will lead a revolution, but how can she prevail when hunted by a giant corporation and the Federal Angels it directs?

About the Author:
Mark D. Diehl writes novels about power dynamics and the way people and organizations influence each other. He believes that obedience and conformity are becoming humanity’s most important survival skills, and that we are thus evolving into a corporate species.

Diehl has: been homeless in Japan, practiced law with a major multinational firm in Chicago, studied in Singapore, fled South Korea as a fugitive, and been stranded in Hong Kong.

After spending most of his youth running around with hoods and thugs, he eventually earned his doctorate in law at the University of Iowa and did graduate work in creative writing at the University of Chicago. He currently lives and writes in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

Author’s Website: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

REVIEW: The Purple Girl by Audrey Kane

This post is part of a review tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions.

Audrey will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Purple Girl by Audrey Kane
Middle Grade, Adventure/Magical Realism
4.0 rating
138 pages

CAUTION! Violet lives within the pages of this book. And her purple spreads to everything she touches…

Violet lives behind garden walls. Is she magical? Is she the devil’s child—or simply cursed? When the lonely thirteen-year-old embarks on a dangerous journey to find the one boy that dared to befriend her, she travels at the keep people from seeing her purple skin. But no one is more surprised than Violet when she unlocks her mysterious gift.

My Review

This is a sweet little story suitable for all ages, but would probably be enjoyed most by younger readers (10-13).

Violet, from birth, was different. She was purple and she shared that color with anything she touches. Needless to say, this definitely marked her. And, people fear what is different. Violet wishes she could change things, but comes to find out that maybe things aren't as bad as she thinks.

My only complaint about this story is that it was too short. I would have loved to see a little more about Violet and her life. There was another character in the story that Violet sees briefly in a vision. I would have liked to find out more about him and how he and Violet are connected.

I do like the character of Violet though. Even with all she's gone through in her short life, she has a sweet character. I was very glad to when she found a friend, and I was sad when he had to move away. I can really understand why she felt she needed to try to find him. After all, it's hard to lose a friend...especially when it's your only friend.

Here's hoping that Ms. Kane has more stories set in this world in store. I would really like to read more of them.

Now, enjoy an excerpt:

This is how the story was told to me.

When the midwife brought me into the world, she let out a scream. Hands trembling, she swaddled me in a white blanket, leaving only a small opening so I could breathe. She refused to let my mother see me until my father appeared and stood by her side. Purple mist seeped through the white blanket, staining the midwife’s fingers.

“God help us all. This baby is cursed!” the midwife cried, thrusting me into my father’s arms. She grabbed a rag and tried to scrub the stains off her hands.

As my father unwrapped me, the color drained from his face. My mother, weak from the delivery, reached toward him...or perhaps to me.

“What’s wrong?” After a moment, he held me up.

My mother wailed when she saw her purple baby.

My father turned away from her and laid me in the cradle, far from my mother, his fingers shaking as he bundled me in the plum-colored blanket. He remained silent, wiping his purple stained palms on his pants. The stains wouldn’t stay on him forever... only a few moments...but he didn’t know that then.

“Oh, Samuel,” my mother sobbed. “How did this happen?”

My father gazed into my eyes, and when he finally spoke, his voice broke.

“We’ll call her Violet.” He stroked a tuft of my lavender hair and sank to his knees.

About the Author

As a writer, and also a designer of tapestries with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Georgia, it is only natural for Audrey to weave visual stories. When she is not designing tapestries, she is busy conjuring up characters that find themselves in extraordinary situations. Between carpools and design work, she is plotting, scheming, writing, and revising. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, their three children, and her unruly dog, Rascals. Audrey's favorite time to write is in the early morning while her family sleeps. With Rascals sprawled out snoring beside her, it only takes one oversized cup of coffee to get her mind moving.

Audrey is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. She loves traveling, museums, and blackberry-apple pie. Actually, she loves all kinds of pie. And she especially loves her family. They have put up with Violet and Waxy for a long time. You can visit her at: or Facebook.
The Purple Girl can be bought at Amazon

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Five Corners: The Marked Ones by Cathi Shaw: Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions.

The author will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN gift card using the rafflecopter below.

Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Balancing Life and Writing

I have to admit that it has been difficult to balance my writing life with my every day life. It shouldn’t be because I have what would appear to be the perfect job for a writer: I teach writing at college.

But the thing with appearances is that they are so often false. And teaching writing is the PERFECT excuse for procrastinating. After all there is always another pile of marking to do, lectures to prepare, writing activities to come up with. Truthfully, even if you are a full-time writer, you really need to be disciplined with your craft.

I think it’s every writer’s dream to be able to write full-time but the truth is, writing full-time is hard work. Discipline is the key. And having a schedule that is carved out just for writing. I think this is doable, you just have to have a time and place where you write every day (or almost every day – I try for every day but I’ve been known to take a weekend off).

I find I do my best writing when the house is empty. When the kids and my husband are around I just can’t seem to write a word, even if they are leaving me alone. Editing is a completely different activity. I’m fine with editing almost everywhere but when the story is flowing out, I really do need silence.

My strategy this past year, when I’ve been teaching and writing, has been to really protect my writing time. If I say I’m going to write between 2 and 4 then I make sure I do write between 2 and 4. But even with a strict schedule like that, you can get side tracked.

For example, I was supposed to be working on Book 2 of the Marked One series in December but I had to finish the final copy edits on Book 1 as it was going to press. My writing time was all gobbled up but copyediting and marketing! And I probably got only one or two good writing days in over the whole month.

I’m super excited for next year because I will not be teaching. I’m taking the whole year off to write! That means I will have to be even more disciplined and treat my writing like a full-time job. I’m excited for it but at the same time, I need to make sure I stick to a plan and protect that writing time.

Growing up in a sleepy village untouched by distant wars and political conflicts, it was easy for Thia, Mina and Kiara to forget such horrors existed in the Five Corners. That is until the dead child is found; a child that bears the same strange birthmark that all three sisters possess. A Mark their mother had always told them was unique to the girls.

Kiara’s suspicions grow as their Inn is soon overrun with outsiders from all walks of life. Strangers, soldiers and Elders who all seem to know more about what is happening than the girls do.

After Mina barely survives an attack in the forest, the sisters are faced with a shattering secret their mother has kept from them for years. As danger closes in around them, the sisters are forced from their home and must put their trust in the hands of strangers. With more questions than answers, Kiara finds herself separated from everyone she loves and reliant on an Outlander who has spent too much time in army. She doesn’t trust Caedmon but she needs him if she has any hope of being reunited with her sisters and learning what the Mark might mean.

Now, enjoy an excerpt:

"It's not a dream this time, Thia."

"I know," she admitted in a whisper. "But how is this happening?"

Teague shook his head at her, his hair falling forward over his forehead. "I know you're shocked. I was, too, when I first saw you. Then I realized that what we thought were only dreams, were just forays into a different reality." Excitement lit up his features. "A reality that, at times, feels more real than this one, don't you agree?"

Thia opened her mouth to deny what he was saying, even as a dozen memories burst to life in her head. For the first time Thia noticed he was taller than in her dreams. Not as tall as her sisters but certainly taller than she.

He looked down at her, his eyes unreadable in the fading afternoon light.

And yet the essence of him was so familiar. Before she could stop herself Thia instinctively reached out to touch his forearm, wanted to feel the warm muscles above his gloves, to reassure herself that he was real.

Teague jerked away before she could reach him and Thia felt an inexplicable sense of hurt flood through her.

"I'm real, Thia," he whispered aloud, his breath stirring the hair on her forehead. "But you can't touch me. I can't explain right now but please don't try."
About the Author

Cathi Shaw lives in Summerland, BC with her husband and three children. She is often found wandering around her home, muttering in a seemingly incoherent manner, particularly when her characters have embarked on new adventure. In addition to writing fiction, she teaches rhetoric and professional writing in the Department of Communications at Okanagan College and is the co-author of the textbook Writing Today.

Twitter: @CathiShaw

Buy links for book:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

REVIEW: A Pair of Docks by Jennifer Ellis

This post is part of a review tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions.

Jennifer will be awarding a Print copy of A Pair of Docks to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour (US ONLY), and a Mobi or epub version of A Pair of Docks will be awarded to a randomly drawn commenter at each stop.

Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

A Pair of Docks by Jennifer Ellis
Middle Grade, Sci-Fi
4.0 rating
310 pages

Fourteen-year-old Abbey Sinclair likes to spend her afternoons in the physics lab learning about momentum and gravitational pull. But her practical scientific mind is put to the test when her older brother, Simon, discovers a mysterious path of stones that allows them, along with Abbey’s twin, Caleb, to travel back and forth between their world and what appears to be...the future.

Unfortunately, they’re not the only ones who know about the stones, and they soon realize their lives are in danger from a man known only as Mantis. Abbey, Caleb, and Simon must follow a twisting trail of clues that will lead them from their autistic neighbor, Mark, to a strange professor who claims to know the rules of the stones, and to multiple futures—some of whose inhabitants don’t want to stay put.

It will take all of Abbey’s analytical skills to unravel the secrets of the stones, uncover the threads that tie the futures together, thwart Mantis’s plan, and, most importantly, keep her family alive—now and in the future.

A Pair of Docks explores Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the meaning of time, the potential for parallel universes, and the boundary between science and witchcraft.

My Review:

This story is told by the main character-- Abbey, a science nerd, and revolves around an alternate world she and her brothers accidentally discover. It's a nice mixture of time travel, alternate realities, and mystery.

It's the first book in the series, which is very exciting to me as I really enjoyed getting to know these characters. Abbey can be a little aggravating at times, but for the most part I really identified with her. There's a hint of a possible romance coming, which is nice to look forward to. I also really liked her brothers, Simon and Caleb, and the dynamics between them all.

Her parents I didn't get such a good feel on, as they were virtually absent for most of the book, due to the mother's political campaign, but given the revelations at the end of the book, I expect them to play a bigger part in the next book. Hopefully not TOO big, though, because this is still a YA series.

I think this book would be good for all ages.

Now, enjoy an excerpt:

Abbey wanted to shake him. She expected this from Caleb, but not from Simon. “Oh yeah, let’s get on board the ship of someone who might be trying to deal with Sinclair.” She slashed quotation marks in the air around ‘deal with’. “Did you miss the lecture from Mom about not accepting rides from strangers? This is like the ultimate stranger danger. Has your adrenaline replaced your brains? You’ve spent too much time playing World of Warcraft. What about the fact that we have no idea how to fix his computer?” Even while she said all of this, a small part of her was feeling like she would hate herself forever if she bolted back to the stones and forced her brothers to come with her. A small part of her wanted to go on board. It was actually a rather large part of her, she decided, but her rational mind had it in a firm and unassailable stranglehold. Of course they’d all watched and read The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings, although she rather suspected that Caleb hadn’t made it through The Return of the King. Of course they’d all imagined being in one of those books, or at least she expected her brothers had, and judging from the twitchy animation of their faces, she was correct. But actually committing to the absolute, and likely unsafe, unknown—which she suspected wasn’t populated with elves as handsome as Orlando Bloom—when they had a clear and easy path to their safe, and not unpleasant, home was another thing altogether.

About the Author

Jennifer Ellis is the author of A Pair of Docks, and In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation (forthcoming). She writes contemporary action-adventure fiction with a dystopic edge for both adults and children.

She lives in a small ski town in Canada with her husband and two boys where she skis, does ballet, cooks, joins too many book clubs and works as environmental researcher.

She blogs randomly but regularly at and can be found on Twitter at @jenniferlellis.

A Pair of Docks, can be purchased on at: 1aytTKD