July 13, 2016

Three Times a Charm with SMW Claw

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to the people involved in children’s publishing. Today we welcome middle grade author, Sunshine Claw. Sunshine, we’d love for you to tell us a little about you.

I lived a miserable and unfulfilling existence* until the day I was invited to play Ultimate Frisbee by one boy, and left madly in love with another (my husband).

We Claws live with a hoard of ordinary, run-of-the-mill children, whom we believe to be spectacular and exceptional, and for whom we would gladly dash into a burning building to save.

Or just make the mundane, daily sacrifices required over a lifetime.

*5.775% accurate

Let’s hear more about Goggles Gone Strong.  

Goggles Gone Strong is my debut children's novel for ages 9+. In the book Calypso Blue finds herself on a strange island with a strange family, wearing an absurd pair of goggles, but has to save the dad from a giant saltwater crocodile, the mom from a sacrificial ritual, herself from mauling by the evil guy's vicious tigers (oh, and a shark!) before she can figure out those danged goggles and nab the treasure to bring it home.

I recommend my book to readers who like…well, I'm not aware of any books similar to mine and I've asked many people (readers) and none of them have ever been able to come up with anything either. So, I'd have to say it's about the same reading level as The Mysterious Benedict Society, the same suspense level as The False Prince, and the same adventure level as The Swiss Family Robinson.

Sounds fun! I’m totally curious what those goggles are all about. Okay, let’s move on to the threes. Give us your top 3 responses to the following to help us get to know you better.

Top 3 books you recommend reading and why you recommend them.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I know you've all read this, but have you read it keeping in mind that Harry Potter is the greatest Christian allegory written in our time? And no, I'm not talking about the series as a whole, which it is, but each and every book, every chapter.


Here are just a few examples off the top of my head from Sorcerer’s Stone: Ron sacrificing himself in the chess game so Harry and Hermione can progress, Harry "dying" for three days until he comes to in the infirmary, Harry is a "seeker," etc. There are many, many more.

Naturally, I've always loved The Chronicles of Narnia for the same reasons. The Voyage of the Dawntreader narrowly beats out The Horse and His Boy as my favorite. Mostly because I love the imagery of the beautiful ship sailing to the ends of the earth and all the magical islands they visit on their way.

And just for fun, I recommend The Incorrible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood. I think the tag line is: It's said of some ill-behaved children that they must have been raised by wolves; these children actually were. 

The series is pretty adorable.

Top 3 leisure activities.

Writing is actually my top leisure activity. For a couple years I unwound at night (after the kids were in bed) by vegging out on Facebook, and design and political blogs. One day I realized I had nothing to show for it. I wasn't a better person (some might argue I was a worse person :); I wasn't better friends with anyone; I hadn't acquired any new skills or talents.

I decided to do something that over time would add up to something, something that would last, something I could hand over to my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I decided to write a book. And it turns out it works great to help me unwind.

I also like to run and search the State Regional Archives in Prague for ancestors.

Top 3 professions you wanted to be when you grew up.

The fondest ambition of my heart was (and always has been) to be one heckuva mother. It is the place *almost* all of my study, energy and time goes. I think it goes without saying, I'm not a perfect mother. I make mistakes just like any mother does. But it's something I'm always working on and improving. Right, Claw kids? Right???

Beyond that I had secondary dreams of being an architect. I have way more floor plan drawings from when I was a kid than essays.

Then in college I had vague ambitions of becoming a Botanist. Taxonomy was the area I was most interested in, with visions of me in tropical rain forests collecting and cataloging specimens in the back of my head. But studying Botany turned out to be one of the biggest regrets of my life. I sure wish I'd studied something I loved. Or heck, found even moderately interesting.

Finally, please share with us where our tech savvy readers can find out more about you and your book.




Thanks for joining us today, Sunshine. It was great to get to know more about you and Goggles Gone Strong.

THANKS!


July 8, 2016

Building Character with William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins

Yippee – it’s Friday! Friday’s begin the weekend and weekends offer all sorts of READING time! So to help you make your reading decisions, I’d like to introduce you to William from his book William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins by Arthur Daigle. First a little about the book:

            Hello, my name is William Bradshaw, and through no fault of my own I am King of the Goblins.  I made the mistake of applying for a management position advertised by the law firm of Cickam, Wender and Downe.  Thing is, they didn’t say the job was to ‘manage’ the goblins on the world of Other Place as their king.  Goblins don’t really want a king, and it’s a rare day when they do what I say.  They’d rather cause trouble, set traps and generally annoy everyone.

Okay. So, you like to cause conflict, but what conflict are you up against?

Conflicts, plural.  I have two big problems as King of the Goblins.  The first is my goblins.  They’re not as bad as everyone makes them out to be, most of the time, but they like causing trouble.  Pit traps, pie throwers, putting skunks in your underwear drawer, they can do all that and more before breakfast.  I’m trying to get them to be a little less idiotic, and just as importantly I’m trying to get them to believe in themselves.

That leads into the second conflict.  You see, goblins are the smallest and weakest race on Other Place.  They’ve been pushed around throughout recorded history.  Men, elves, dwarfs, ogres and others think nothing of robbing goblins.  That includes stealing their land.  Many goblins live in wastelands, dumps and other ruined places because those are the only locations where no one will try to drive them off.

What are some of the biggest stumbling blocks you’ve encountered trying to resolve all of this?

My biggest problem is that the goblins have no interest in winning.  With all the losses they’ve taken over the centuries they figure why bother trying when they’ll get beaten anyway.  It’s taken a lot of effort to get them to believe that they’re better than anyone thinks they are, and that their enemies aren’t nearly as tough as it seems.

Problem number two is that just about everyone on Other Place hates goblins.  Goblins are looked down on by most of the people on this world.  This means when a big problem comes up, I have a really hard time getting help from anyone but goblins.  Okay, goblins don’t go out of their way to be friendly, but the different races aren’t model citizens, either.

Tell us about your best friend or side kick.

I have a crew of loyal followers I can count on, which makes it hard to pick one as best.  I figure I’ll go with Domo.  He’s the closest the goblins ever came to having their own leader, and while we didn’t get along too well to start with, we’re good friends now.  He knows a lot about Other Place and he understands goblins more than anyone else.  I can turn to him for help, and he hasn’t run off  no matter how much trouble I find myself in.

Loyalty is awesome, isn’t it? What is your strongest personality trait?

I think fast in tough situations.  Being King of the Goblins means being one step away from disaster, with a fifty-fifty chance of it being caused by outsiders or my own goblins.  You have to react fast when trouble comes up.

Wow! Challenging. Is there anything about you that people are always giving you a hard time about? How do you feel about it?

Nobody on Other Place likes goblins, and since I’m their king nobody much likes me.  They figure I’m responsible for their pranks and traps, or that I’m as bad as they are.  I thought that would change after I helped them out by destroying the Staff of Skulls, but instead it made me more despised than ever.  You see, there are goblins just about everywhere on Other Place, and people are used to ignoring them or pushing them around.  When I proved goblins are capable of doing amazing things, it made those people scared, because they wondered what would happen if their local goblins started standing up for themselves.

How do I feel about an entire world looking down on me?  Most days it’s not that big of a deal.  I see the goblins improving and that’s what matters.  I’ve also run into a few people who appreciate what I’ve done.  It’s rare, but it happens.  That gives me hope that things are going to get better.

Let’s get to know you a bit better with some personal questions. What are your three favorite leisure activities?

#1 People not trying to kill me.  That’s so rare it feels like a leisure activity.
#2 Gardening.  This one is hard since the Kingdom of the Goblins used to be a dwarf strip mine.  Getting weeds to grow here is a challenge.
#3 Looking for ways out of my king contract.  Cickam, Wender and Downe gave me a contract when I became King, a nightmare of legal jargon, doublespeak and  outright lies.  If I can find a loophole in the contract I can go home.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Grown up?  Hey, I graduated college!  As for what I want to be, I’d say anything besides King of the Goblins looks really good.  I like these guys, I do, but I’d go back to Earth in a minute if I could.

If you could change one thing in this world, what would you change?

Besides going home?  I would love it if everyone on Other Place realized that goblins deserve the same rights and respect as anyone else.  I think half the goblin pranks and trap making would disappear right there and then if they were treated better.  I wish I could say all of it would vanish, but I know goblins well enough to say that’s not going to happen.

And finally, Williams, what words of wisdom would you like to share with our readers?

First, don’t look down on people.  They may be doing worse than you, and they may have done something to bring bad luck down on themselves, but no one deserves to suffer.  Second, have faith in yourself and your friends.  The goblins could have won more often over the years if they’d believed in themselves and really made the effort.  Third and last, avoid the legal profession at all costs.  Trust me on this one.

Now that you’ve enticed our readers with your story, share with us how they can acquire your book.

I am including the book blurb for my first book and the buy links for all three books.

William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins:

There's a new King in Town! That's the good news. The bad news is that Will Bradshaw has problems. He's new on the job but he's already made enemies with a fire-breathing dragon. His friends are not much better: goblins whose favorite pastime is messing things up, trolls with anger management issues, an over-achieving fire scepter, and an un-cooportative magic mirror. Aside from all that, all he has to worry about is a war. And that's the trouble. Throughout recorded history the goblins have never won a battle, much less a war. But things are going to be different this time around. William Bradshaw is determined to win, using every means at his disposal, including stealth, subterfuge and exploding outhouses.

Links: William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins:
            William Bradshaw and a Faint Hope:
            William Bradshaw and War Unending:

Readers, here is some information on William’s author:

Arthur Daigle was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.  He attended the University of Illinois Urbana Chapmaign and received a degree in Biology, which seemed like a good idea at the time.  He has worked in such diverse jobs as zoo intern, research assistant, grading essay tests, water quality tester and garden associate.  It was pretty much inevitable that Arthur would take up writing since he has been a fan of fantasy and science fiction since he was old enough to walk.  Arthur has written three novels, William Bradshaw King of the Goblins, William Bradshaw and a Faint Hope, and William Bradshaw and War Unending.  Readers should expect more books in the future, as all attempts to stop him have failed.

Contact (or cyber stalk) Arthur Daigle:


Thanks for visiting, William!

July 6, 2016

Rare Free Series Opportunity

Worth the Effort - Ayden's Story turns two years old this month and I'm celebrating by offering it free of charge to subscribers of my newsletter. Ayden's Story has never been offered for free, so this is a big deal! Since Ella's Story is always free to download, this means you can get the entire novella series for absolutely nothing.


Seventeen-year-old Ayden Worth shouldn’t have to seek peace of mind in the streets. But as family pressures mount, his anxieties increase, and he turns his back on comfort for a life in homeless camps and back alleys.

Then one fateful day he runs into the only person he ever wanted to know better. Ella Jones. His memories paint her as kind and undemanding, and it seems the years haven’t changed her. Her simple expectations draw him to her. Against all odds, a relationship buds and grows.

Yet, as Ayden repairs his life, Ella suggests he help others who also struggle. Will Ella turn out to be just like his dad, expecting more from him than he can give? Or will he prove that he is worth the effort?

Wow. The emotion in this book surpasses the first, and I was blown away. This book is so much more than teen romance. It's about self-discovery and self-acceptance. It was a beautiful and encouraging story. Kristen, Pretty Little Pages

Ayden himself has got to be one of my all-time favorite characters. He's so...real. He has issues and insecurities and deals with them in such a real way that makes you think that he could just walk off the pages of the book (I wish! He sounds so handsome!). I really love how this story tackles harder issues of life, even in a numbered of pages. The reader goes through so many emotions with Ayden that you can't help but feel for him the entire time. – Paige M.

Why would I do this? For many reasons, actually. To introduce new readers to my work in the hopes the interest will carry over to my other titles. To rekindle interest in the Worth the Effort series by increasing sales ranks and number of reviews for the book on retail sites. To grow my mailing list - especially since I will release a contemporary romance soon that should appeal to readers who enjoy Worth the Effort. But heck - does it matter, because - FREE READS!

I'm also offering a bonus giveaway. Those fabulous readers who follow through and post a review of Ayden's Story will be able to choose another free ebook from my backlist! Any ole book they want of my published works.

But this offer is only good in the month of July.

So sign up for my monthly mailer to claim your free book and to stay in touch with my new releases, book events, and other exclusive subscriber giveaways.

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July 4, 2016

July #InkRipples – Inspiration


inspiration

noun  in·spi·ra·tion \ˌin(t)-spə-ˈrā-shən, -(ˌ)spi-\

- something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone
- a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something
- a good idea

If you’ve read an interview or three of an author, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that I find inspiration for my writing in my kids, husband, nature, and in living life. But since we are talking about inspiration in this month’s Ink Ripples, I thought I’d talk about some of the less common circumstances that provide inspiration.

Deadlines. A powerful motivator and a source of “forced” inspiration. I can think about a story or blog post (such as our monthly Ink Ripples post) for months before I put fingertips to keyboard and force myself to write something that is due in the morning. Or I might not be able to think of anything to do with a topic until that deadline looms and suddenly my mind is a whirl of ideas. This is how I wrote Super Bad.

Books on Craft. It’s funny how reading a book about how to write well inspires me to go out and try to write well. I’m sorry to admit it is most likely because I’m thinking, “Sheesh, I can do better than that!” while reading. I'm pretty cocky about my skill - when I'm not writing. Then all that swagger goes out the window.

Reading. There is nothing more inspiring than reading a really great book. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Forgive Me Leonard Peacock, Throne of Glass. Reading those made my mind itch. Made me want to create something readers would get lost in.

Believe it or not – a name. Yes, sometimes it is as simple as hearing/reading/coming up with a really good name. For a person or a town. For a coffee shop or a game. I came up with the title Save the Lemmings and HAD to write a story to go along with it.

Dreams – of course. I suspect this might be one of the most common forms of inspiration for writers. The problem is what was epic in a dream can’t always be fleshed out into a fully formed idea that is long enough for a book. My paranormal romance, Ghost Touch – published under the name LA Dragoni – was a dream. It took me years to be able to make a story out of it.

What inspires you in your job?

Ripples in the Inkwell is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the second Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.

June 29, 2016

Three Times A Charm with Deborah Baldwin and Bumbling Bea

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to the people involved in children’s publishing. Today we welcome middle grade author, Deborah Baldwin. Deborah, we’d love for you to tell us a little about you.

I am an award winning drama teacher and director, professional actress and youth theatre administrator. I graduated from Stephens College with a BFA in theatre performance and a MED from Lesley College certified to teach drama, speech and English/language arts in Colorado and Missouri. I have created seven youth theatre programs and serve as a consultant to several theatre companies in the mid-west. Many years ago I co-developed a national playwriting contest for youth theatre plays which is still in existence today. I have directed over 250 full length productions, plays and musicals alike and have inspired many of my students to become professional actors, dancers, directors, playwrights and teachers. My husband and I have recently retired from our teaching positions and reside in Kansas to be nearer to our family. I have two daughters who are the best of friends, a wonderful step son and two quirky cats, Spats and Lala.  

Let’s hear more about Bumbling Bea.  

Purple Dragonfly Award Winner for Excellence in Writing and Publishing:  

Beatrice thinks she has no acting talent but that doesn't stop her from auditioning for the annual middle school play. Easy! Except Michiko, a new girl from Japan, shows up and ruins everything. So begins Beatrice's diabolical plan to scare away Michiko. But Michiko has goals of her own with no plans to leave soon. And then there’s that “other” girl—what a blabbermouth.  What’s a girl to do?  Plenty.   

“Hilarious! Entertaining! Extremely true! A great read for anyone who enjoys theater!” RM Amazon reviewer  

“In addition to being a fun read, this book does what so much fine literature does— helps us to see we are not alone.” MM Amazon reviewer  

“Bumbling Bea by Deborah Baldwin cannot fail to become a favorite with pre-teen readers, and very likely teenagers too, because the mixture of pathos and humor is so realistic.”  SS Readers Favorite reviewer  

I recommend my book to readers who like:  

5,6,7, Nate by Tim Federle 
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
 Wonder by R.J. Palacio  

Now let’s move on to the threes. Give us your top 3 responses to the following to help us get to know you better.

· Top 3 books you recommend reading and why you recommend them.  

To Kill a Mockingbird  by Harper Lee I have beloved this book for many years as have many other readers.  The plot is terrific and I enjoy that the story is told from a girl’s point of view.   

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrick Backman I picked up Backman’s book earlier this year and appreciated every part of it. If you haven’t read any of Backman’s books, I’d suggest you do so.   I enjoy stories that are heavy on characterization, because my background is in theatre and when I direct plays, I help actors create characters all the time.    

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  Hmmm.  I’m seeing a trend here—I’ve chosen all books about girls told from their point of view. Ha! This book writing is poetic and it’s a wonderful story.  It’s an interesting perspective to read a story about the average German citizen living through WWII.    

· Top 3 tools of the trade you couldn’t live without.  

I think indie publishing is a fabulous tool for any writer and it suits me perfectly. It isn’t necessary to have a publisher in order to be successful in this business. One can publish her book herself!   I’ve always been a trail blazer—the kind of person that takes matters in her own hands when she sees a need or problem. I noticed that we have a dearth of books on whatever subject is popular the time, but stories about the arts (especially theatre) are very few in number. When I share my story’s plot with readers of various ages, they were so appreciative. “Oh good.  Not another book about Zombies or wizards.  Bumbling Bea is something unique!” they say.    

There are countless sources writers can utilize to attract readers.  I particularly like Litpick.com which is a student book review website.  They give student readers an opportunity to learn how to review under the tutelage of an adult.  And the books are free to any student who would like to learn to review.  What a deal!  

Bookworks.com is an excellent, and very useful website for indie publishers.  They have a monthly newsletter with many helpful articles concerning self publishing, lists of book reviewers who are seeking books to peruse, etc.  If you complete your personal page and profile with Bookworks, you have the opportunity to be featured by them which is great exposure for you and your book.     

· Top 3 professions you wanted to be when you grew up.  

My aunts, mother and sister were teachers so becoming a teacher was a natural choice for me as well.  It’s one of my greatest gifts.  Kids energize me and fulfill my need to share my knowledge of the dramatic arts.  Even after thirty-eight years of teaching, my students continue to teach me something about myself that I didn’t know.  It’s very humbling.   

Early on in my life, I wanted to become a professional actress.  I didn’t really know what that meant at the time. When I graduated from college in the seventies, there weren’t as many opportunities for young actors to be employed as there are now.  My choices were pretty much limited to moving to New York or Los Angeles.  I wasn’t ready for that jump.  Over time, I found that I wasn’t willing to struggle as much as the occupation required.  I was just as happy acting or directing in community theatre, occasionally working as a voice over actress, etc.  I’m a doer—I like to “do” and not sit around waiting for life to happen to me.  Because of this particular gift, I have had opportunities to create many projects I don’t think I would have been able to otherwise.  I’ve formed youth theatre programs, co-developed a national playwriting contest, presided over the construction of a theater, written winning grants, introduced companies to radio theatre, directed just about any play or musical I wanted and guided  two programs concerning diversity for Martin Luther King celebrations.  And, I’m not even finished yet!   

I was created to be a theatre artist, period.  I knew it as a young girl when I’d play dress up on our east front porch of our home.  It took about ten years for me to admit my interest to my parents.  My father understood immediately.  Although he chose to be a physician, he acted in plays in college and loved it.  I think my mother and siblings thought I was crazy or at least “unusual”, but they tried their best to understand or merely tolerated me. However, my immediate family is heavily involved in the arts and appreciate my creativity.     

· Top 3 personal mantras or inspirational phrases.   

 “People of integrity expect to be believed.  When they are not, time proves them right.” --Unknown  

“Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”  ― Winston Churchill  

“Eighty percent of all choices are based on fear. Most people don't choose what they want; they choose what they think is safe.” --Phil McGraw    

Wow – that last one! Finally, please share with us where our tech savvy readers can find out more about you and your book.     


Thanks for joining us today, Deborah. It was great to get to know more about you and Bumbling Bea.

THANKS!

June 24, 2016

Building Character with Kira from A Town Bewitched by Suzanne de Montigny

Yay – it’s Friday! Friday’s begin the weekend and weekends offer all sorts of READING time! So to help you make your reading decisions, I’d like to introduce you to Kira from her book A Town Bewitched by Suzanne de Montigny. First a little about the book:

It’s tough for Kira, growing up in the small town of Hope as a child prodigy in classical violin, especially when her dad just died. And to make matters worse, Kate McDonough, the red-haired fiddler appears out of nowhere and bewitches the town with her mysterious Celtic music. Even Uncle Jack succumbs to her charms, forgetting his promise to look after Kira’s family. But when someone begins vandalizing the town leaving dead and gutted girds as a calling card, Kira knows without a doubt who’s behind it.




Welcome to Strands of Thoughts, Kira and congratulations on the publication of your very own story! Can you tell us a little about you, please?

Hi, my name’s Kira. I’m fourteen and my dad just died, and with his death, my dreams of the violin I need to further my studies. You probably wonder why I’d be worried about a stupid violin,  but you see, I’m a child prodigy, and I don’t mean that in a braggish way. It’s actually really tough being a child prodigy  because everyone thinks you’re a nerd. But I need that violin to do my final conservatory exam. However, there’s another  problem. Some strange red-haired woman has suddenly come to town who plays the fiddle. No big deal, right? But the whole town’s gone fiddle crazy. Yeah, that’s right. Fiddle crazy in a small town that likes rock. It’s like they’re bewitched. But the worst part is, my Uncle Jack who promised to take care of us now that Dad’s gone has fallen for her. And  not just that. Someone’s been vandalizing the town leaving dead birds that have had their organs removed. The police even found human teeth marks in part of an organ. I think it’s her – Kate McDonough. She’s not the angel everyone thinks she is. I mean, just look at her eyes. They’re pale blue like a wild animal’s. She’s not normal.

I’m sorry about your dad. Do you have anyone in your life that can help you through the grief as well as whatever crazy things are happening to the town?

My BFF is Charlotte, and oh, has she got problems too. She was adopted from China into a white family and she’s the only Asian in town except for the old couple who run the Golden Sun restaurant. And Travis, the biggest bully in our school takes every chance he gets to run her down for being Chinese. I hate that guy. Anyway, she and I stand together against Travis and the In-girls, the coolest clique in our school. The thing I love about Charlotte is that she’s going to help me get to the bottom of this fiddler problem. We’re trying to figure out who Kate McDonough really  is before it’s too late.

Anyway, you can hear my whole story right here:


Thanks for joining us today, Kira and sharing some inside info on your story, A Town Bewitched. Readers, here's a little about Kira’s author:

Suzanne de Montigny wrote her first novella when she was twelve. She is the author of award-winning the Shadow of the Unicorn series. Her third novel, A Town Bewitched, was awarded the Dante Rossetti Best Coming of Age Novel. She and her sons are avid fiddlers. She lives in Burnaby, B.C. with her two sons, husband, and Buddy the dog.




June 22, 2016

Three Times A Charm with Cindy Dorminy & Tuned Into You

Hey y’all! Welcome to 3x’s A Charm. I love, love, love to introduce readers to the people involved in children’s publishing. Today we welcome young adult author, Cindy Dorminy. Cindy, tell us a little about you, please.

Unlike most authors, I didn’t grow up wanting to be a writer. I wasn’t even an avid reader, but I had a vivid imagination and I loved movies. I still do. There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not quoting one of my favorite lines. When I’m not at my day job as a research coordinator, I love to write sweet love stories. I share my house with my musician husband, an awesome teenage daughter (my go-to person for teen-speak), and Daisy Mae, the sweetest pooch on the planet. I live in Nashville, Tennessee where live music really can be heard everywhere, even at the airport and grocery store.

The only live music you’ll find in my grocery store is me – singing in Latin as I browse the aisles. Not quite the same, though – huh? So, tell us all about your book.

Tuned Into You

A summer party is the last place Lydia Flowers wanted to be. Her toughest softball competitor would be more fun than Abe Fischer, the Nashville Teen Idol superstar. He’s a lip-syncing party animal with a short fuse; at least that’s what the tabloids say. Except Abe’s nothing like the guy Lydia’s read about online. He’s sweet and the way he talks to his horse could even make her go weak in the knees.

Life throws Lydia and Abe a curve ball when they are wrongfully arrested for destruction of property. Her choices? Work on the Fischer Farm beside Abe or the arrest goes on her record and ruins her shot at a softball scholarship. With few options, Lydia agrees to a summer working like a dog beside Abe and their initial dislike turns to attraction. If Lydia doesn’t watch out, she just might lose her heart to the dreamy-eyed singer.

When the press gets wind of the secret Abe’s family has been keeping from him, he’ll have to risk pushing Lydia away and striking out in the ultimate game of his life. Lydia will have to decide if Abe’s messed up life in the spotlight is worth risking her heart and the scholarship of her dreams.

I recommend my book to readers who like:

Tiffany King: Turtle Bay
Angie Stanton: Rock and a Hard Place

Now let’s move on to the threes. Give us your top 3 responses to the following to help us get to know you better.

       Top 3 most admired people and why you admire them.

1.      My husband Mark – He’s my best friend and he’s put up with a lot from me over the years and he still loves me. He makes me laugh every day and without him, there would be no Maddie Rose.
2.      Maddie Rose – Even though she’s only thirteen, she’s so cool, smart and funny. If I could go back in time and be a teen again, I’d want to be her best friend.
3.      Sylvester Stallone – I know that sounds odd after the other two very personal people I mentioned, but if you’ve read this far, you know I love movies. When Stallone was a nobody, he wrote a screenplay you might have heard about: Rocky. He believed in it so much that he wouldn’t sell the script unless he could be cast as the main character. And the rest is history. He believed in himself enough to take a chance at losing everything and look where he is today.

       Top 3 leisure activities.

1.      I lift weights. At 5 AM 3-4 days a week, my husband and I drag ourselves downstairs and lift weights. I’ve been slinging iron since the eighties and even was a competitive bodybuilder back in the day.
2.      Gardening – I’m not great at it, but there’s something about working with the earth that helps me figure out a frustrating scene.
3.      Movies – As I mentioned early, I love going to the movies. I’ll even go by myself. When I was a teen, I saw the movie Grease over thirty times in the theatre (of course, going to the movies was much cheaper back then). I own a projector and can show movies on a big screen any time I want!

       Top 3 personal mantras or inspirational phrases.

Of course, mine are movie quotes.
1.      Do, or do not. There is no try. (Yoda, Empire Strikes Back)
2.      There is no normal life, just life. (Doc Holliday, Tombstone)
3.      Just keep swimming. (Dory, Finding Nemo)

Cindy, where can our tech savvy readers find out more about you and your work? Especially that brand new book.

@cindydorminy Twitter and Facebook

Thanks for visiting with us today. It was great to get to know more about you and Tuned Into You.

THANKS!

June 17, 2016

New Release - A Love That Disturbs by Medeia Sharif

Happy release day to A LOVE THAT DISTURBS by Medeia Sharif! This sounds like an intense read. I'm really looking forward to it. Get your own copy now!

A LOVE THAT DISTURBS by Medeia Sharif
Evernight Teen, June 17, 2016
Purchase from Amazon (merchant sites will be updated on the author's site)

Maysa Mazari is alarmed by her mother’s talk about arranged marriage. As a hijab-wearing Pakistani-American, she wants to find love on her own. Her judgmental Muslim clique has protected her from racist taunts, although the leader is turning on her as Maysa strays from the group because of her attraction to Haydee.

Haydee Gomez is a former gang member and juvenile detention student. Now living with a clean-cut aunt, she wants to turn her life around, even though one person will never let her forget her roots—Rafe, her abusive pimp. Haydee attempts to pull away from a life of prostitution when she develops feelings for Maysa, although Rafe isn’t willing to give her up too easily.

Finding themselves in danger from Maysa’s friends and Haydee’s pimp, it’s apparent their love disturbs everyone around them as they fight to stay together.

Find Medeia – YA and MG Author

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

June 15, 2016

Small Town Setting - Ghostly Visions by Penny Lockwood

 Today, I welcome Penny Lockwood, author of the middle grade ghost stories, Ghost for Rent and Ghost for Lunch, which are now combined into one conveniet book, Ghostly Visions. Penny and her books are from small town Oregon and she's here to talk about why she chose these adorable little towns for her stories' settings. 

Take it away, Penny!

GHOSTLY VISIONS
A Tween Book Set in Rural Oregon

Ghostly Visions is a two-for-one book for grades four, five and six, containing Ghost for Rent, set in Scappoose, Oregon, a small rural community of about 6,700 people, and Ghost for Lunch, set in St. Helens, Oregon, the county seat for Columbia County, and home to about 13,000 people.

Why did I choose these small towns for my stories?  It’s simple.  I followed the basic rule of writing: write what you know.  In September 1978, my husband and I moved from California, where we met, to Scappoose, Oregon.  We fell in love with the rural area, the friendly people, and the beautiful countryside. I could have chosen Connecticut where I grew up or California where I lived for a year, but I chose Oregon since this is where my children were raised. 

When she was much younger, my daughter insisted I wasn’t a “real” writer since I had never published a book but published short stories and non-fiction articles instead.  As a challenge to myself, I wrote Ghost for Rent (first published in 2002 with Hard Shell Word Factory, now defunct, and revised for this edition). I enjoyed the characters so much I went on to write Ghost for Lunch.  My publisher, 4RV Publishing LLC wanted to present both books together and thus Ghostly Visions was born.

Scappoose is about 30 miles northwest of one of the major cities in Oregon—Portland. Wendy, the main character, begins her life in Portland and soon finds herself along with her brother and mother in Warren, a rural area between Scappoose and St. Helens. My husband and I lived in Scappoose when we arrived in Oregon for about five years before moving to six acres in Warren.  Our children both attended Scappoose Schools, including Otto Petersen Elementary School, where Wendy goes to school in Ghostly Visions. Since I’m quite familiar with the area, and not many books are set in Columbia County, Oregon, it made sense for me to place my characters here.

Whenever I needed inspiration for a scene, I just had to look out my office window at the fields outside our home, or drive along one of the many back roads.  In fact, the idea for Ghost for Rent came from a neighbor.  She mentioned hearing piano music playing in her rental home although no one was near the piano.  It was easy for me to find a house to use as inspiration since there are many older farm homes in need of repair in the area.

Scappoose is a very family-friendly town. It has grown quite a bit since we moved here 38 years ago.  While it didn’t have a pool or cinema when our kids were young, there has always been enormous support for sports activities such as soccer, baseball, and basketball both within the school and league teams.  Access to a pool and cinema were seven miles up the road in St. Helens. We are within sight of some of the major peaks of the Cascade Mountains such as Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood. We are reminded daily of how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful part of the country.

When my children started school, I found full-time work in St. Helens.  Once again, it was easy to place my characters there since I spent many hours traveling back and forth, working, shopping, eating, and walking around the area.  The second of the stories, Ghost for Lunch, is set more in St. Helens and centers around a former hotel that has been turned into a restaurant.  The inspiration for this story came from a news article about one of the local restaurants that is reported to be haunted.  Since I worked around the corner from this restaurant and have eaten there numerous times, it made sense to have Wendy’s adventures take place there.

St. Helens is a lovely area with both an “old” town and a new town.  Originally, it was two towns, Houlton and St. Helens. St. Helens was the area down by the river and was the major port city along the Columbia River until the docks burned down around 1853.  While repairs were made, the ships went further up the river and docked in Portland.  Soon Portland took over as the major shipping port along the river and St. Helens lost its hold on the shipping industry. There are many stone buildings in old town, including the original courthouse built in 1906 and City Hall that formerly housed a bank in the early1900s. St. Helens has been the location of a few movies including Halloween Town and Twilight.

Currently, both Scappoose and St. Helens are much different from the time period of the books, which are set in the 1990s. When Wendy and her family first move to Scappoose, it has no major shopping areas.  There is one area for a grocery store, a pharmacy, and a hardware store.  Now, the town boasts a Sears appliance store, Fred Meyer Shopping Center, a Goodwill Super Store, a Bi-Mart, numerous restaurants, banks, hair salons, a multi-plex cinema, and other essential stores for local residents to do their shopping.  Other changes are coming as Portland Community College expands to the area.  The closeness of Scappoose and St. Helens to Portland, make them ideal places for folks to leave city living and yet be within commuting distance of work, major restaurants, theatre and other entertainment.

St. Helens has also changed.  While it originally had a selection of local stores, many of those have closed down such as J.C. Penney, A &W, Tony’s Shoes, St. Helens Book Shoppe, and others.  Many of these closed when Wal*Mart moved in.  Others closed down when the economy failed. Still others, such as Dari Delish mentioned in Ghost for Lunch have survived over the years. The old town until recently housed mostly antique and thrift shops.  Now, there is a push on to renovate this area and bring in new businesses and develop the waterfront. I tried to maintain some accuracy to the time period, but again, I allowed myself some leeway.

While writing the stories, I did take some artistic liberties and added streets that aren’t in the area, such as Lockland where Wendy and her family reside.  Descriptions of the old Scappoose Library and the moon rising over the Columbia River, however, are accurate.  I did take a bit of liberty by stating the Columbia River is visible from the hotel/restaurant since it is actually a block away from the river.

Ghostly Visions is about ghosts, but it’s also about the importance of family and friends. Wendy Wiles attracts ghosts, first in Ghost for Rent, when her parents separate and she, her brother, and mother move into a haunted house. The story begins in Portland, Oregon and quickly moves to small town, Scappoose, Oregon. Miserable at leaving her friends and beloved Portland behind, Wendy meets her neighbor Jennifer who tells her the house Wendy’s mom rented is haunted. After two of them appear to Wendy, the girls find themselves tracking down the mystery of who the ghosts are and why they "live" in the Wiles' home.

In Ghost for Lunch, Wendy’s friend, Jennifer, moves away, leaving Wendy sad until new neighbors and their restaurant in St. Helens bring ghosts back into Wendy's life. She, her brother, and their new friend discover the two cases are connected. Once again, the young sleuths use clues and lots of brainstorming to figure out who is haunting the restaurant.

Ghostly Visions is available direct from the publisher 4RV Publishing LLC for $15.99 including shipping and handling: http://www.4rvpublishingcatalog.com/penny-lockwood.php.  It can also be ordered from your local bookstore with the following ISBN numbers: ISBN-10: 0982642326, ISBN-13: 978-0982642320, or through Amazon, for $18.99 http://www.amazon.com/Ghostly-Visions-Ghost-Rent-Lunch/dp/0982642326?ie=UTF8&keywords=ghostly visions&qid=1465503637&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1.

June 8, 2016

Bitter Envy by Kimber Leigh Wheaton on Kindle Scout

I'm excited to share Kimber Leigh Wheaton's Kindle Scout campaign. If you aren't familiar with Kindle Scout, it's an Amazon program that helps authors find an audience for their book before it's published. Kimber is an excellent author and it sounds like Bitter Envy is another winner. But don't take my word for it. Read the excerpt she's shared with us here, and then hop on over to her campaign on Amazon to read more and most importantly to nominate Bitter Envy for publication! Kimber explains it way better than I. Take it away, Kimber...



Bitter Envy, a YA urban fantasy romance, is on Kindle Scout!

Don't know what Kindle Scout is? It is, "reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books."

Readers nominate their favorite books, and those books may receive a publishing contract through Amazon. If a book scores a contract, everyone who nominated it receives a free Kindle copy!

I would be honored if you would consider nominating Bitter Envy! You can read the first chapter and a half on Kindle Scout. 


As a special thank you, please enter my giveaway. You don't have to nominate my novel to enter, but I do appreciate your support if you decide to.

~Kimber Leigh


Bitter Envy
Enchanted Underworld, Book One

Kimber Leigh Wheaton

YA Urban Fantasy Romance
Currently on Kindle Scout


Scarlet Angel—assassin, inquisitor, and overall bane to shifter existence.
Five years ago, my parents sold me to dark shifter lord Uriah Amstead in exchange for a house and a monthly stipend. He took my light magic powers, developed them, warping the light into something darker through means that would make a hardened criminal flinch.

Born an enchantress, I wield the light magic that is a natural constraint to shifter dark magic. But now I use my powers to help Uriah grow his criminal empire. I torture shifters with my light magic, and sometimes I’m forced to kill. Those who think it’s a choice don’t understand the atrocities that Uriah would commit to keep me in line. I always choose the lesser of evils. But even that doesn’t sit well with my conscience.

The faces of my victims haunt me every night. I’ve always coped by knowing the shifters I tortured and killed were evil people who thought they were above the law. Now Uriah has taken even that small comfort from me. Through his orders, I tortured and killed an innocent man. Sure I thought the man guilty at the time, but the damage is done.

In the shifter underworld of sunny San Diego, it can be hard to know whom to trust. But I have to take a chance… because this time Uriah has gone too far.

I am Envy Davis, the Scarlet Angel, and I am through being a pawn.


Excerpt

As I round the corner, my heart slams into an erratic beat. Donovan is leaning against my Camaro, and there’s no Jack in sight. Though the sky is overcast, I consider digging out my sunglasses. But that would be cowardly. I chased away one of Uriah’s hired goons with little more than a flare of magic and a scowl… I can certainly face Donovan head-on without getting lost in his eyes.
When I reach the car, I give him a bright smile. “Hi, Donovan. Something you want?”
“I heard you scared one of Uriah’s henchmen so badly he may have needed clean pants,” he says with a crooked grin. “Are we alone out here?”
“I assume you’re referring to spies?” I ask, not expecting an answer. “As far as I can tell.”
“Let’s get in the car so we can talk.” He walks to the passenger door. “Does Jack sweep for bugs?”
“Mmm-hmm, every morning.” I unlock the door, and slide into the driver’s seat. “Though, with that asinine thug here today… he could’ve planted something.”
Donovan nods but doesn’t say anything as he pulls out a small RF detector from his backpack. I watch in silence as he sweeps the interior of the car for electronic devices. After several minutes, he tosses it back into his bag before leaning back with a heavy sigh.
“It gets so old,” he says, shaking his head. “Can you believe I’ve been sweeping for bugs as long as I can remember?”
“I never really worry about it.” I run my fingers over the leather-wrapped steering wheel. “Jack was shifter special forces for a long time. He’s paranoid enough for both of us. I wonder where he is…”
“I asked for a few minutes alone with you,” Donovan says, pulling one of my hands from the wheel. “He’s lurking nearby, waiting to pounce if needed.”
“So, what’s up?”
“Well, I was planning to take you to see High Priestess Rowena this afternoon. Sound good?” he asks while caressing my knuckles with his thumb.
I bite back a sigh, unwilling to share just how good his thumb feels on my fingers. “Yeah, that’d be great.” My relief from his statement comes out in a slight giggle.
“Did I just hear the Scarlet Angel giggle?”
“I don’t giggle.” Of course another giggle belies that statement.
“I think it’s adorable.” He leans in to rest his forehead against mine. “I feel honored that you’re comfortable enough with me to share the side you hide from everyone.”
“What side?”
My question comes out in a breathy whisper. He’s close enough to kiss… all I have to do is lean forward an inch or two and close the distance. His hand moves to the back of my head, his fingers entwining in the hair at my nape.
“The softer side,” he says, brushing his lips across my cheekbone. “The vulnerable side.” His lips caress my temple. “The side that makes me want to hold you in my arms and protect you from everything… even if you don’t really need it.” He cups my face in both palms. “Why do I feel this way?”
“I don’t know,” I reply in a choked whisper. He just put into words everything I’d been feeling for the last two weeks.
“Since the moment our auras melded together, I can’t seem to stop thinking about you.” He shifts back so he can gaze at me. “At school, at night, my aura constantly searches for yours.”
“Our magic calls to each other… but it shouldn’t.”
“No, it shouldn’t,” he says with a strangled groan. “You’re light and I’m dark.”
“Sun and moon?”
He laughs. “Something like that. Our magic should seek to destroy the other… so why doesn’t it?”
“I’m not the light you claim me to be, and you aren’t the dark you claim to be.” When he continues staring at me like he expects some sage answer, I sigh. “Maybe your Wiccan will know.”
“You ready to go see her?”
The moment I nod, my cell rings—the opening riff to “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” by Judas Priest. Uriah’s ringtone. Jack programmed it in last week as a screw you to the spider shifter. It’s the last thing I want to hear at this moment.
“It’s Uriah,” I say, clenching the phone to the point of pain.
“I suppose it wouldn’t be good to ignore it.”
“Yeah, prob’ly not.” After swallowing around my dry throat, I answer the call. “Envy.”
“Ah, my precious Angel, I have wonderful news.” Uriah’s voice oozes syrupy saccharine.
I flinch from his words. Wonderful news for him is always devastating for me.
“What?”
“So impolite, little one,” he says with a dry chuckle. “All work and no play… well you know the rest.”
“I have tons of homework, Uriah.” The lie rolls off my tongue. Lying has become so easy, almost second nature. The realization makes me sad. “What do you want?”
“Someone has become too meddlesome for his own good,” Uriah says in a flippant tone, like he’s commenting on the weather rather than torture. “Not only that but this particular individual crossed a line last night when he raped Mickey’s fourteen-year-old daughter. No one crosses my people. An attack against them is an attack against me. Kill him.”
“I… uh—”
“That’s an order I expect to be obeyed,” he says in a much harder voice. “Don’t make me regret my decision to waive punishment for your earlier transgressions.”
“N-no. I-I mean yes,” I stammer as childhood traumas resurface at his words. “Please contact Jack with the info, and I’ll get right on it.”
“Tonight, darling Angel. I want Alfonse Dupree dead tonight. He’s one of Heinrich’s scientists. It shouldn’t be too hard for you. The man is closing in on the millennial mark, so I doubt he has much fight left in him.”
He disconnects the call. I stare at the phone clutched in my hand in silence. Another assassination. Is this one legit, or will I kill another innocent man? What choice do I have? It’s this criminal or something so much worse. Hot tears prick my eyes as the memories threaten to surface.
So many lost lives… all because I said no.
“Envy, are you okay?” Donovan asks, breaking my trance.
“Um, yeah. Fine.” My light sniffle betrays my true emotions.
“I’ll call my father. Maybe he can shed some light on this Alfonse Dupree.”
“I’d appreciate that.” Not that I have a choice either way. It’s him or… well I simply can’t deal with the alternative.
“Father, what do you know about one Alfonse Dupree, works for Heinrich?” Donovan puts the phone on speaker, and his father’s voice fills the car.
“Bottom feeder. Scientist willing to experiment on children,” Tiberius says in a booming voice. “Rapist, murderer, Nazi war criminal. He’s been a blight on our society for over nine hundred years… or so he says. In fact that lunatic claims to have created the Black Plague in his laboratory and unleashed it across Europe.”
I’m struck silent for a moment as I contemplate the atrocities this madman committed. How many innocent souls died at his hands? “What a relief,” I finally manage to blurt out.
“Who’s with you Donovan? No don’t answer that. Scarlet Angel—assassin, inquisitor, and bane to shifter existence.” His blunt words make me flinch. “You were supposed to go see our high priestess today… I suppose that’s off the table now.”
“No one is more disappointed than I am, my lord,” I reply, trying to control the rising anger. Yelling at Tiberius won’t help my situation at all.
“So I guess Uriah is having you play judge, jury, and executioner tonight then?”
“No, sir. Just executioner.”
“As you can imagine, based on what happened with Alexander, Envy is a tad reticent to follow Uriah’s orders without confirming the intel,” Donovan says, cutting through an awkward silence.
I close my eyes as a wave of nausea washes over me. Alexander was innocent, and I killed him. His poor family… how can I ever atone?
“Well, you can sleep easy tonight, Scarlet Angel,” Tiberius says, his voice mocking. “Dupree is a perfect target. Our government protected him after Germany fell in World War II. He’s as bad as they come.”
“I never sleep easy.” My voice is hard, grating. “I always choose the lesser of evils. But even that doesn’t sit well with my conscience.”
“Such the little philosopher.”
“Father, stop mocking her!” Donovan snaps at his father. “We’ll talk about this later.”
“You bet we will, son,” Tiberius replies in a deep baritone. “Now, Envy, I want you to meet with High Priestess Rowena tomorrow afternoon, no matter what… or I refuse to speak with you further. If you pass her tests, we’ll meet for dinner at Jake’s.”
He disconnects the call before I can comment. I really wish I didn’t need his help, but I can’t afford any pride right now.


About the Author

Kimber Leigh Wheaton is an award-winning, bestselling YA author with a soft spot for sweet romance. In addition to writing, she works as an editor for two publishers, as well as select indie authors. She is married to her soul mate, has a teenage son, and shares her home with three dogs and lots of dragons. Kimber Leigh is addicted to romance, video games, superheroes, villains, and chocolate—not necessarily in that order. (If she has to choose, she’ll take a chocolate covered superhero!) Winner of the 2014 Rising Star Award at the BTS Red Carpet Awards in NOLA & a Silver Medal for YA Mystery/Horror in the 2015 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards.

Author Links:
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