Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Q&A with Kai Strand

Thanks so much for having me. 2015 has been an exciting year in my writing career. In March, I released a YA romantic suspense, Finding Thor. Heart stopping action, heart palpitating romance, jewel thieves and royalty. Edge of your seat type stuff. In May, Super Bad, the final book in my Super Villain Academy series, released. It offers super charged emotion, super powered battles, and super big decisions to make. Then to add even more excitement to the SVA series, the second edition of King of Bad (SVA, book 1) released on September 17th, with bonus material!

Welcome to Books in the Hall, Kai. Push over a pile and tell us -- why YA fiction? What draws you to it?

I write it for the same reason I read it.


What would you write in a letter to your teen self?

I would love to have known then what I know now. Your status in the high school hierarchy, your hair/makeup/outfit being perfect everyday, the popularity factor of your friends – none of that matters the day after you step out of high school! So don’t turn your back on doing what you love just because it isn’t viewed as cool. Don’t turn your back on a person you like just because they aren’t cool (especially because they aren’t cool!) Spend all that time and energy discovering what you truly love and the person you really want to be.

What book is on your nightstand currently?

This is pretty horrible to admit, but I always have a Thoreau book on my nightstand. Usually a collection of his works. I love his voice, his views on life and nature, but his tendency to be verbose and endlessly speculative is great for lulling me to sleep if I’m keyed up when I crawl into bed.

Hunger Games or Twilight? Why?

I enjoyed both. Twilight has this strange addictive quality for me so that if I re-read one book, I must plow my way through the series. However, both Bella and Katniss drive me nuts. I can’t tell you how many times I yell OUT LOUD at them. But in the end, Hunger Games is a better story. I used to have a book rating system that I posted on my blog and HG was my first Rock Concert rating (equivalent to a 5 star).

Ideal summer vacation.

Somewhere warm, but not too hot, in a secluded cabin or beach house. Where we can explore the natural setting in the mornings (wander along the beach, hike the mountain trails, climb through lava fields, anything will do.) Relax with my feet up and a book in my hands in the afternoons, while the sun heats my skin and the breeze cools it down. And because we are without television, we’d enjoy family game time in the evenings and maybe tell a ghost story or two.

Favorite pizza toppings.

Pizza is my favorite food. One reason is because you can make it seem new everyday just by changing its toppings. Though I love a gourmet pizza with garlic white sauce, chicken, spinach and mushroom, or a seafood pizza with shrimp, scallops, and green onion, my all time favorite is pretty boring: pepperoni, Italian sausage, red onion, mushrooms and lots and lots of cheese. The greasier, the better.

You’ve just won a million dollars and you’re not allowed to save any of it. What do you spend it on?

My beautiful, brave sister is in the fight of her life battling cancer. She’s just begun what will be almost a full year of treatments; chemo/radiation, surgery, more chemo, and more surgery. Her prognosis is good and she’s got lots of emotional support. But even with insurance, it’s bloody expensive. It seems insulting that she should have to endure such pain AND financial strife at the same time. So I’d gladly give it all to her if it would ease her mind and allow her to concentrate on getting better.

Who was your teenaged crush? Why?

They were always real people. Not that celebrities aren’t real people, but I always had crushes and it was always on people I knew. It’s like my crushes gave me the incentive to show up – to school, to work, to the gym, wherever. Just to see him across the room, or maybe even exchange a greeting, my crush was often my reason to go. And though I’d pine for him when we were parted and my pulse would hammer and I’d end up with a full body flush whenever he was around, I was always too shy to do anything about it, so beyond my besties, no one ever knew. But I remember every single one of them. *Le sigh*

Favorite class in high school. Why?

Creative Writing of course! At the time I didn’t even have aspirations of becoming a writer. I just loved that the teacher liked my work and often used it as an example in her classes.

Cara Cassidy always envisioned love as Thor, slamming his hammer into the earth, and the vibration resonating within her for a lifetime. She never expected love would be a thousand tiny actions from a normal boy. When international intrigue hits small-town America, more than the car chases will get your blood pumping.

It’s hard to be good, when it’s so much fun to be bad.

About the author:
When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and a short story blog, Lightning Quick Reads, Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Learn more about Kai and her books on her website,

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mind over Bullies by D.K. Smith

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

Margo is pretty, popular and unsympathetic to just how intense bullying can get. As a counterfeiting plot sweeps through the city of Oak View, life for Margo will change dramatically.

With a mystery unfolding, an unlikely group of heroes emerges. Bullied teens love them, the police hate them and bullies fear them. Together they will try to get to the bottom of the counterfeiting mystery while ingeniously teaching a few bullies a lesson or two along the way… that is, if the police don’t catch them first.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Later that afternoon, Margo walked through the corridor at school with her camera in hand on her way to do an interview for the school paper. A man nearly ran into her as he backed out of the print shop pulling a large covered pallet. Margo stepped aside. The man hadn’t even noticed she was there as he faced forward and continued pulling a large pallet down the corridor. Hey, I’ve seen that somewhere before. Margo was fixated on the logo on the back of the man’s shirt. She raised her camera and took a few shots of the logo and followed behind the man at a distance.

About the Author: A native of Los Angeles, D.K. Smith began his writing career after getting news that he would soon become an uncle. Wanting to create stories and characters for his expected niece, he created the children's book series "Sock n Boots Adventures." The two characters (three year old Sock and five year old Boots) began to make names for themselves, generating downloads in countries around the world. From there, the love of storytelling blossomed into novels across multiple genres.

I've been asked many times how I came up with the concept for Mind Over Bullies. Well, I am a big fan of superhero type stories, especially movies. But of course, the bullying epidemic is real and in a horrifying way. For example, when doing research for the book I came across a story in the news about a young girl that jumped in front of a subway train after weeks of bullying. As I investigated further, I was shocked at the number of similar stories I encountered. Bullycide, the news was calling it. I thought, wow, what if these young people had been shown that the pain of bullying can be handled without hurting themselves or someone else.

So, the challenge became how to take such a terrible, real life experience like bullying, and merge it with my superhero gene. I wanted to make a story that was not only realistic so that victims of bullying could identify with it, but also one that had the superhero element that would make people stand up and cheer. Seeing people rave about a movie after it's over and even having intense feelings about a well-developed movie myself has always left me with a desire to tell stories and take people on mental journeys. I knew I would never have a career in film, so writing was the next best thing for me, and I went about writing Mind Over Bullies like a director creating a film. I wanted to create highs and lows to take the readers through a range of emotions. I crafted some portions to help readers feel for the characters and other scenes that create the moment of triumph for the underdog, the kind of scene that makes a movie audience applaud.

I wanted to have a multi-racial cast of characters with a wide variety of personalities in the hope that readers would connect with one of them. It was important to me that the main character be a strong teen female, being that teen girls make up the largest population of bullying victims per most reports. My goal was to let young women, and young men, see a teen battle bullying head-on and gain strength in the process as opposed to the more prevalent alternatives of victims hurting themselves or others.

I recognize that the characters and situations in the book may not represent every bullying situation and that realistically the book won't change the world, but I do sincerely hope that it sends a subtle message about there being life after bullying.
@A_MOB_Forms: Is media coverage of bullying counterproductive? Hear what author D.K. Smith says on the subject . Buy the book at Amazon.

Book previews: (English) Preview (Spanish)

Review from respected review service Kirkus Reviews:

Links to reviews on Amazon and Goodreads:

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Virtual Book Tour: The Blue Dragon by Yiola Damianou-Papadopoulou

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Yiola 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 Blue Dragon describes the terror of the catastrophic tsunami that hit Sri Lanka in December 2004. The novel focuses on a group of children—Hanseni, and her siblings Awade and Manori, and their friend Nishian—their individual experiences, and how they managed to pull through this horrendous event. Overcoming their fears the children struggle against the forces of nature, fighting against the odds to save themselves and their friends. Their stories portray courage and hope, and demonstrate the inner strength and determination that exists in the human spirit when faced with an unforgiving natural disaster. This emotive and heartfelt story shows how even, in the most terrifying of circumstances, the will to live triumphs.

Read an excerpt:

The coach was making its way, belching black exhaust. It went slowly, making short stops so that the children could admire the beautiful scenery along the way. No one was in any great hurry. They went through green tea and coffee plantations; through tiny villages where the inhabitants, barely awake, were setting off to their jobs. The children, in a fever of enthusiasm with their new found sense of adventure, excitedly danced and sang on the bus. Such excursions were rare. Without their families, they were going to experience a new freedom that would last two days!
About the Author: Yiola Damianou-Papadopoulou was born in Nicosia and spent her childhood in the Congo and Nigeria. She studied Journalism in Athens and has worked with a number of radio stations, magazines and newspapers in Cyprus. She has published short stories for adults as well as novels. She has also written children’s and young adult fiction. Read the begnning of the book at Amazon.

Check out Wattle Publishing:

Twitter: @wattlepub

Buy the ebook at Amazon US, Amazon UK, iBooks, Kobo.

Buy the print book at Amazon US, Amazon UK, or Wordery.

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Monday, September 7, 2015

Virtual Book Tour: A Hard Day's Night by Mia Kerrick

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Mia will be awarding a $20 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.

High school senior Kalin (Lennon) Macready knows several facts for certain: John Lennon is his hero. Beaumont Finley Danforth II (Fin) is his best friend. And—this is the complicated one—he feels more for Fin than mere friendship.

For weeks, Lennon pesters Fin, who like Lennon admits to questioning his sexual orientation, for a commitment to spend twenty-four hours together exploring “the gay side of life.” Fin reluctantly agrees. Each boy will seek to answer the daunting question, Am I gay? Lennon pre-plans the day, filling the hours with what he assumes “gay life” is all about: shopping for fashionable clothing, indulging in lavish dessert crepes, boogying to Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off”, and yes, listening to show tunes.

However, Lennon quickly realizes that in creating his plan he has succumbed to the most common and distorted of gay stereotypes. Can he be gay and not fit them? And more importantly, is it possible that spending one very hard day and night together will help Fin accept that he’s gay, too? If so, maybe Lennon has a shot at winning the heart of the boy of his dreams.

“A Hard Day’s Night” is an amusing young adult contemporary romance about two boys who seek to discover if they must fulfill stereotypes to be together.

In the end, maybe all you need is love.

Enjoy an excerpt: I park directly in front of the salon.

“The Best Little Hair House in Westfield?” Fin looks at me incredulously but doesn’t dish out a criticism. My dear friend Fin has great difficulty with that whole “calling it like he sees it” thing.

“I didn’t name the place,” I mutter as I jump out of the Jeep. After shaking his curly blond head a couple of times in what-did-I-get-myself-into disbelief, Fin does the same.

I’ll be sorry to see those pretty curls on the floor of the beauty salon, but we’re gonna endure our mutual makeover, one way or another.

In my opinion, having mutual makeovers spells togetherness as well as exploring our more feminine sides. “Come on. We have both of the salon’s haircutters booked for the next hour.” Then I mumble in a manner designed to be intentionally incoherent, “And we have a makeup artist for the following forty-five minutes....” Fin doesn’t hear this part and I think it’s for the best.

“Daaahlings, you must be Lennon and Fin....” Richard, I assume, since I recognize his sing-song voice from the phone call I made to set up our appointments, greets us at the door, air-kissing me and Fin, on both cheeks. I know immediately that if my goal is to immerse Fin and me in all things homosexual, we are in the right place. I find it hard to tear my eyes off Fin as he checks out the salon. I’ll sum up the salon’s décor like this: rainbow-glitter-velvet-jelly bean-explosion. And I’m pretty sure that Fin, coming from a lifestyle enhanced by the subtle shades of Williams-Sonoma and Restoration Hard- ware, has never laid eyes on anything quite this... this vibrant. And Richard’s lilting voice one more time sings out proudly, “Welcome to the Hair House!”

At this point, Fin, with extremely wide eyes, checks out the slick-haired narrow-eyed man who is going to beautify him. Not that Fin needs any enhancement in that department, whatsoever, because even if I weren’t gay, I’d recognize that Fin is a stunner. “I... um... thank you,” he says and offers his hand, which Richard grasps, lifts dramatically to his lips, and kisses very slowly.

“And I must insist that you call me Chard—all of my dearest friends do,” the stylist utters, a glimmer of hopefulness blatant in his sly, dark eyes.

Fin’s lips move but no sound comes out. He’s probably trying to formulate the words for what he is thinking: Are you kidding me—you call yourself Chard? Hahahaha!! But with no success, as Fin, like I mentioned before, has trouble with calling upside-down black heart shapes with tiny stems what they are—yeah, spades.

About the Author:
Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty-two years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships, and she believes that physical intimacy has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press, CoolDudes Publishing, and CreateSpace for providing her with alternate places to stash her stories.

Mia is a social liberal and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights, especially marital equality. Now marital equality is the law of the land!! WOOT!! Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

Stop by Mia’s Blog with questions or comments, or simply share what’s on your mind.


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