July 22, 2015

Cover Reveal for Hot Pink in the City by Medeia Sharif

I'm excited to help talented young adult author, Medeia Sharif with the cover reveal for her upcoming book, Hot Pink in the City.  Be sure to add it to your to-read list and follow Medeia so you don't miss all her exciting news.


Author: Medeia Sharif
Release date: August 19, 2015

Asma Bashir wants two things: a summer fling and her favorite '80s songs. During a trip to New York City to stay with relatives, she messes up in her pursuit of both. She loses track of the hunk she met on her airplane ride, and she does the most terrible thing she could possibly do to her strict uncle…ruin his most prized possession, a rare cassette tape. A wild goose chase around Manhattan and Brooklyn to find a replacement tape yields many adventures—blackmail, theft, a chance to be a TV star, and so much more. Amid all this turmoil, Asma just might be able to find her crush in the busiest, most exciting city in the world.

Find Medeia – YA and MG Author

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

Doesn't it look and sound like fun? Congrats, Medeia!

July 20, 2015

Abandoning Your Best Friend

Writing is a funny thing. I spend months inside a story—creating, revising, refining—and then it’s published and I don’t see it again. It’s like having a really close friend for a year and then abandoning her.

Sure, I have to spend time promoting each story. Most unfortunately, that never stops, but it isn’t the same as when I’m truly inside that story working it. Trying to find the absolute best order for the words so the story creates a physical reaction in the reader. Tears, laughter, racing pulse, gutted emotions, cheers—something, anything, or all of it at one point or the other between the covers.

Most recently, I’m missing Cara and Nik from FindingThor. Their relationship isn’t quite as emotional as Ella and Ayden’s from Worth the Effort, but they have a lot more suspense and certainly more humor in their lives and I really miss working with them. Is this why stand alone books become series? The author simply misses her characters and has to discover the next adventure in their lives? NO, I’m not planning on writing more of Cara and Nik at this point. I don’t even have time to re-read their story. I just miss them.

So, dear readers, do me a favor and you read their story and then contact me here or on Facebook or via email and tell me all the things you loved about them and the things that made you want to strangle them and share gifs of the actors you would pick to play them in the movie adaptation. Let me re-live Cara and Nik vicariously through you!

Pleeeease and thank you!

July 13, 2015

July #InkRipples #Giveaway – Patriotism

I’ve always considered myself a patriotic person. I love my country. Naturally, American patriotism makes me think of Independence Day and I.D. makes me think of fireworks. Oh my gosh, I love fireworks. To me sitting under a summer sky filled with the pop and burst of fireworks is one of the most romantic scenes I can imagine. Seriously, if my husband would just figure this out, he could totally exploit it.

For this month’s #Inkripples giveaway, we are going visual! I want you to post a picture or pictures representing your patriotism. It can be of your country’s flag or mascot, your military or a famous Olympian. Post the picture on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter. Wherever you post, be sure you:

1) follow me
2) tag me
3) use #inkripples
4) fill out the rafflecopter to claim your entry/ies. Not too difficult.

Post your picture(s) and claim your entry via rafflecopter before 11:59 pm on July 26th. One randomly chosen entry will win a $5.00 Amazon gift card. I will notify the winner via email the week of July 27th. Be sure to visit  Mary Waibel, and Katie L. Carroll's Ripples in the Inkwell posts. And do a search on the hastag #inkripples to see who else has joined us this month.

Photo credit: Nancy Burton

Okay all you amateur photogs, let’s show some pride in our countries!

Photo copyright is the poster's responsibility. Make sure you have the proper permission and give credit where credit is due!

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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.

July 6, 2015

Cover Reveal - Travelers by Meradeth Houston

I'm so excited to be helping Meradeth Houston show off the gorgeous cover for her upcoming release, Travelers. Meradeth is a great author. If YA and/or sci-fi is your thing, be sure to add this to your to-read list.

Travelers Blurb:

Sienna Crenshaw knows the rules: 1) no time traveling beyond your natural lifetime, 2) no screwing with death, and 3) no changing the past. Ever. Sienna doesn’t love being stuck in the present, but she’s not the type to break the rules. That is, she wasn’t the type until her best friend broke every one of those rules to keep Henry, her twin brother and Sienna’s ex-boyfriend, alive.

Suddenly, Sienna is caught in an unfamiliar reality. The upside? Henry is still alive. The downside? Sienna’s old life, including the people in it, has been erased. Now, Sienna and Henry must untangle the giant knot in time, or her parents and all the rest of the Travelers, will be lost forever. One problem: the only way to be successful is for Henry to die.

Release Date: August 4th, 2015

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25815070-travelers?from_search=true&search_version=service_impr 

Author Bio:

I’ve never been a big fan of talking about myself, but if you really want to know, here are some random tidbits about me:

>I'm a California girl. This generally means I talk too fast and use "like" a lot. Since I now live in Montana, sometimes this is a problem.

>I have my doctorate in molecular anthropology. Translation: I sequence dead people's DNA and spend a whole lot of time in a lab, which I love.

>I've been writing since I was 11 years old. It's my hobby, my passion, and I'm so happy to get to share my work!

>My other passion is teaching. There's nothing more fun than getting a classroom of college kids fired up about anthropology! This is probably a good thing, since my day job requires me to teach at the local university.

>If I could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because I'm terrified of heights.

Find Meradeth Houston online at:

FacebookTwitterInstagramTumblrAmazonGoodreads, and of course her blog!
Goodreads authorpage: 

Website: www.MeradethHouston.com    

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June 17, 2015

Three Times A Charm with Marie C Collins

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to people involved in children’s publishing. Today we have middle grade author, Marie C. Collins joining us. She’s going to talk a little about her book. But first tell us a little about yourself.

I’ll share a few pieces of me that relate to my Secrets of Farbookonia series. First, I am guilty of extreme house envy. I covet big old Victorian homes. They call to me with their turrets and window seats and attics. They intrigue me and comfort me. Their paneled walls, old portraits, and butterfly collections reek of stories. Since I was a child, it’s been clear to me that life is just better inside these houses. And so book 2 of my series – my work-in-progress – is set in one.

Second, like my character Anne, I have a very active dream life. I have had several dreams set in the same Victorian house of my own design. I don’t know what it would look like on the outside, because inside, its corridors seem to go on forever. In my dreams, only I know where to find its false walls and other secret places. And knowing these things saves my hide!

Finally, I know this is a bit of a tease, but it has to be because of spoilers: One dream Anne has in A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp is a dream I had when I was her age. And one character in the book came to me in a dream years before I even thought about writing A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp. Readers who want to guess at these things after reading the book are welcome to do so on my website.

I believe you are the first author to use the 3’s theme when talking about yourself. I tip my hat to you! Now, tell us more about your book.

Once you find out your mother is an alien, what ISN’T possible?!

That’s what 12-year-old Anne and 10-year-old Atticus Reade want to know. Minutes after learning that their mother is from the planet Farbookonia and that their parents’ secret project has put them all in danger, the children are wrenched from their sheltered existence in the Midwest and whisked off to a safe sleep-away camp in New Jersey — each with a tiny, protective “Globot” on one shoulder.

Painfully aware they’re not like the others at camp, Anne and Atticus do their best to fit in while concealing their alien background and the “special talents” that go with it. But everything is so new to them, they have a hard time sorting reality from fiction. Quirky campers, campfire ghost stories, a bizarre camp director, Anne’s mysterious dreams, and Atticus’s unusual animal encounters are all equally disturbing.

Just as they start getting the hang of life among young Earth humans, a broadcast on the Rec Hall TV shakes things up, and things that are truly strange emerge from normal newness. It turns out Anne and Atticus — and their new friends — may not be safe at camp after all. A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp soon thrusts them into a reality they wish was fiction.

I recommend A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp to readers who like:

I myself struggle with these comparisons, but a friend who works in a library has told me she recommends A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp to readers who like:

         The Kane Chronicles, The Lightning Thief, “and everything else Percy Jackson-related,” all by Rick Riordan; and the Seven Wonders series by Peter Lerangis.

I haven’t read these, but to me they look a little more adventure-driven than A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp. I would love any reader feedback on how A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp compares with other books they’ve read.

Now it’s time for The 3’s. Or rather, it’s time to carry on with The 3’s. Give us the top three answers to the following questions to help us know you better.

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

What writer can resist this question? The challenge is limiting it to three ... I chose these for their strong female characters, because I believe we still need more of them.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is my all-time favorite novel. It is so many stories, rolled into one: The horrid family situation Jane deals with as an orphan; the boarding school story in which her friend dies of consumption with only Jane to ease her suffering; the 5-alarm romance between Jane and Mr. Rochester; and the mysterious mad woman in the attic! What’s not to like?! Jane is a smart, confident, plucky underdog with immense presence in spite of being tiny and lacking social stature. And Thornfield is a one of the great houses of literary fiction.

With Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery gave literary fiction one its most unique, loveable, and memorable heroines. As readers of my book know, I named one of my two main characters “Anne” in honor of Montgomery’s famous redhead. I didn’t try to model my Anne on hers, but it’s possible they share a characteristic or two. In Green Gables, Anne Cuthbert’s determination to be true to her values and intelligence make the series what it is — with some help from three equally memorable characters: Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert and Gilbert Blythe.

Elizabeth Bennet of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is strong but flawed. Like many contemporary YA heroines, she has a hard time seeing past her own perspective, and that gets her into trouble. But another reason to love Pride and Prejudice (as if Mr. Darcy is not enough) is the strong, clear voice of Jane Austen as the ironic narrator who neatly skewers her society with her long, sharp sentences and descriptions.

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

As someone whose schooling straddled the typewriter and the Mac SE — and who *cough!* had to drop typing in high school or face failing it — number one, hands-down, is my computer.

Standing again in the brink between two eras is number two: The Internet. Remember when fact-finding required an hours-long trip to the library? No? Consider yourself lucky. I know I do. Almost all of my research — and there was a lot of it — was done online.

Number three involves tools of my own making. I am very visual, so I use a 2-foot-by-3-foot pad of sticky notes to design my settings. I refer to these drawings constantly while writing (the camp maps I include in A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp started out on this pad). I also use other visual tools, like tables to track the threads of my stories (e.g., a column for each day at camp) and concept maps to visualize plot elements (e.g., how events converge at the end of the book).

Top 3 personal mantras or inspirational phrases.

I chant “Don’t think, just do,” to wake myself out indecision and procrastination. It’s not that I resist thinking — quite the contrary: It’s that I can over-think things.

Continuing the old house theme, in the Doctor Who episode, “Blink” (which first introduces the weeping angels), Sally Sparrow enters a musty old house and says, “I love old things. They make me feel sad.” Her friend, Kathy Nightingale, looks at her strangely and says: “What’s good about sad?” To which Sally replies: “It’s ‘happy’ for deep people.” (The sentimental side of me feels vindicated by that statement! I often find myself having to explain why I prefer drama over comedy — and I do not lack a sense of humor!)

To me, this quote, by the poet Nikki Giovanni, is an antidote for apathy and a prescription for living mindfully:

“There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don't expect you to save the world I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect.”

Marie, where can our tech savvy readers find you and your book online?

Thank you for visiting with us today, Marie. Continued good fortune to you and your book!

GUESTS WELCOME!  I’m always looking for guests for Three Times A Charm. If you are an author, illustrator or book reviewer, an agent or an editor. If you have something related to children’s publishing that you’d like people to know about, feel free to contact me about a future appearance.

June 15, 2015

Amazon's Awesome Series Pages

I don't know about you, but one of my pet peeves as a reader is when it isn't clear that a book is 1) part of a series and 2) what order to read the series in. I have stopped reading a series because I've had to work to hard to figure out which book is next.

Amazon is making it much easier to find that information.

First off, they've added the series information directly under the book information. See how when you are on The Weaver's page on Amazon, it shows all the books in the series? This is especially helpful when the author and publisher didn't expect the book to become a series (as in the case of The Weaver) so you didn't indicate anything about additional books in the first one.

The second very helpful information is when you click through to the series page. For example, I looked up my book, Polar Opposites. It shows that it's the second book in a series, so I click through to the series page and I'm provided with buy links for all three books and I'm allowed to leave a review of the entire series. So readers can say things like "satisfying ending," "Surprised where the twists and turns of the story line ended up," and "I really hope this isn't the end of these characters. I'm in love." Or - you know - things like that. (Insert big obvious winking emoticon here!)

Anyway, as a reader, I'm super excited that it will be easier to know when a book is part of a series. As an author, I'm excited that readers will know there are more Weaver Tales or the order to read SVA in. Authors, make sure your books are part of a series. If they aren't visit the book page in Amazon Central and then drop Amazon an email to let them know which of your books should be included as part of the series. You don't need your publisher to do it. You have the power!

Anyone else excited about this too?

June 12, 2015

Hidden Fire by Deirdra Eden Blog Tour and $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Today I welcome Deirdra Eden to Strands of Thought. She's here to talk a little about her new release, Hidden Fire. Take it away, Deirdra.

There are terrifying things in the world.

Perhaps there is truth behind the tales of the monster in the closet and under the bed. They are the creatures in the dark places that wait for us to let down our guard.

Stories and parallels have been used since the beginning of time to teach children and adults how to fight what they can’t always see, or worse, the big bad wolves who pretend to be grandma.

The Watchers is another tale of good vs. evil, with mythology based on supernatural beings from the Apocrypha.

Although it is a fantasy similar to the types of fantasies you would enjoy in a Tolkien or C.S. Lewis tale, The Watchers takes places in this world and weaves through historical events while remaining relatable for the modern reader.

The Watchers, like everyone on this planet, have been given gifts and unique talents to battle darkness. We must develop these gifts and not be afraid to do hard things.

We are all in a battle and facing something that is testing us. The monsters are real. They may not hide in our closets or under the bed, but we will face them in whatever form they come in.

The Watchers novels provide strong and virtuous role models who must prepare constantly to not only survive whatever life throws at them, but fight for their dreams.

Book Summary
Auriella’s new life as a royal protector is in shambles. The new king ignores her warnings of a Shadow Legion invasion and he is determined to marry her off. Ghosts from her past, the discovery of other Watchers, and a handsome Scottish warrior throw her off guard and weaken her emotional defenses. Caught in a web of secrecy and betrayal, Auriella struggles to control and protect the devastating power of Starfire. A terrible truth and a fateful choice will lead her to her destiny as the fabled Lady of Neviah, or could shroud the entire world in eternal darkness. 

Filled with action, romance, drama, and comedy, Hidden Fire is an addicting read that you won't want to put down. 

“Deirdra Eden has surpassed her earlier achievement in this daring tale of struggle between good and evil forces that exist in every universe.” Mark F. Cheney, author of MARK OF THE JAGUAR 

“Thought provoking and full of action, I didn’t want to put the book down! I really loved the symbolism and it was a fantastic read.” Mary G. – age 15

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June 10, 2015

Three Times A Charm with Melanie Hooyenga

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to people involved in children’s publishing. Today we welcome back YA author, Melanie Hooyenga. Melanie visited Strands of Thought before with a great guest post. (I’ll put the link at the bottom so you can re-visit it.) She’s going to share a little about her series. But first, Melanie, can tell us a little about yourself?

I first started writing as a teenager and find I still relate best to that age group. I’ve lived in Washington DC, Chicago, and Mexico, but have finally settled down in my home state of Michigan with my husband Jeremy. When I’m not at my day job as a graphic designer, you can usually find me attempting to wrangle my Miniature Schnauzer Owen and playing every sport imaginable with Jeremy.

I love the image I have in my head of you wrangling Owen. Those small dogs can be bossy! Now, can you tell us about your series, please? I LOVE the covers!

The Flicker Effect trilogy is contemporary YA with a sci-fi twist. The first book, FLICKER, tells the story of 17-year-old Biz, who uses sunlight to flicker—travel back to yesterday. Biz is a perfectly normal teenager except for one minor detail: she uses sunlight to jump back to yesterday. No one knows about her freakish ability and she’s content to keep it that way, until little girls in her town start disappearing. As the police grasp for clues, Biz photographs a strange man lurking in the shadows and realizes that her flickering can help more than just herself.

In book two, FRACTURE, Biz wakes up from surgery after helping catch a kidnapper and soon discovers that her ability is stronger than ever. But her newly-shaved head brings out the bullies, her boyfriend Cameron is getting a little too chummy with a girl from the kidnap support group, and Cameron’s formerly kidnapped sister is having some serious adjustment issues. When her dad’s health takes a turn for the worse, she turns to the neurosurgeon who operated on her. If she tells him the truth, he could figure out why she and her dad flicker and save her before her entire world—and her own health—crumbles. But can Biz trust him with her secret?

In FADED, the third book (which comes out today!), Biz didn’t think life could get worse after the tragic events that surrounded her last flicker, but when she accidentally flickers on her eighteenth birthday after doing shots of vodka—she’s forced to face the consequences of her actions in a way she never imagined. When an anonymous email threatens to reveal her secret, Biz must decide if flickering is all it’s cracked up to be, or if she needs to stop. Forever.

I recommend my books to readers who like:

The Wake trilogy and the Visions trilogy, by Lisa McMann. Both series are contemporary with a sci-fi twist (sound familiar?) where the main character has something a little off in her head. In Wake, Janie gets pulled inside people’s dreams, while in Visions, Jules sees visions of future tragedies. Both series stuck with me long after I read them I recommend them to everyone. Bonus: I had the honor of meeting Lisa at a book signing on my birthday last year.

Let’s get to know you a little better. Share with us your top three responses to the following questions.

Things you learned about the business after becoming a writer.

1 – It’s not as solitary as you think. Yes, you sit alone while you write, but there’s a whole world of writers out there to help you through the process. My best friends live all over the country and have very different lives, but they are always there for me, ready to help when I need them (with personal and professional advice).

2 – If you’re going to be an indie author, you need to write a lot. When I published Flicker, I received positive reviews but sales were abysmal. With Fracture, having a book already published really helped boost my credibility, so I cannot wait to see how the launch for Faded goes. My sales have increased every year and I know I have my backlist to thank for that.

3 – Every situation is an opportunity to make a connection (i.e. a sale). Despite the fact that I work in a marketing department, I am terrible at marketing myself. This has hit home for me a few times while chatting with a coworker who I’ve known for years but who had no idea that I am a writer, let alone have published novels. I’m trying to be better about working my books into conversations and – very important – I carry postcards with my book and contact info with me at all times. You never know when you’ll meet your next fan!

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

1 – Artist. I’m a graphic designer by day so I’d say I did well here. I also love doing DIY projects. I recently built the desk for my office and am planning to refinish our coffee tables later this summer.

2 – Writer. Again, I seem to have followed my dreams.

3 – Number three is a little fuzzier. I can’t remember anything specific beyond artist or writer, so we’ll go with professional athlete. In the past few years I’ve played: softball, volleyball, golf, soccer, dodgeball, kickboxing, and bowling, plus I played co-ed football in my 20s and basketball, field hockey, and lacrosse in high school. My husband and I regularly bike and hike, plus I really want a kayak and snowshoes now that we’re living on Lake Michigan. And of course the Schnauzer wrestling. (We also play a lot of “bar” sports: pool, darts, and bags/cornhole.) So perhaps I AM a professional athlete.

Top 3 personal mantras or inspirational phrases.

1 – “You’ll never get it if you don’t ask.” Sometimes people surprise you and what you want may not be as far-fetched as you think it is. I’d much rather be told no than always wonder what if.

2 – “What would you do if you couldn’t fail?” I’ve seen this phrase in different coworkers’ offices over the years and it’s always made me stop and think. The first time I saw it, I hadn’t written since I was a teen and it made me wonder what I could do, even though I didn’t envision myself as a writer at the time. I’ve learned that ignoring the fear of failure is very necessary if you want to finish anything, especially something as long as a novel.

3 – “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away.” This serves as a reminder to press pause and enjoy life. We all get caught up in the day to day, rushing from one thing to the next, then spend our downtime glued to a digital device. If you don’t consciously choose to set down your phone (sometimes I throw mine out of arm’s reach), the entire world will pass by without you noticing.

Melanie, now that the readers have fallen in crush with you and your books, where can they find you online?

Thank you so much for having me!

It has been lovely to have you back on SoT (10 Steps to Editing Your Novel). Best of luck on the release of Faded!

GUESTS WELCOME!  I’m always looking for guests for Three Times A Charm. If you are an author, illustrator or book reviewer, an agent or an editor. If you have something related to children’s publishing that you’d like people to know about, feel free to contact me about a future appearance.

June 8, 2015

June #InkRipples - Summer (#giveaway)

As a teenager in Southern California, one of my favorite summer past times was getting a tan. My friend and I would catch a ride with her sister to her sister's work early in the morning. She worked close to the beach. Then we'd hop on a bus for the rest of the trip. We'd get there so early in the morning, the fog hadn't burned off yet, but that was okay because we'd be able to pick out the ultimate spot on the still empty expanse of sand. While the seagulls cried and the waves shushed in and out, we'd get to work forming our beach beds for the day. The first bed, we scooped out a deep ditch into the sand where our bottoms would rest, building the sand we removed into a pile of high behind our heads, and a smaller swell under our knees. The second bed would be flat except for a "pillow" made from sand for when it was time to turn over and tan our backs.

We slathered on tanning oil, the distinctive coconut scent lifting into the constant wind. We'd carve out a cup holder for our drinks, and drape our towels over whichever bed we were going to start with. But the last and most important thing inside my beach bag was my book. If I was going to lay on the beach for eight hours until my friend's sister came to pick us up when she got off of work, I needed entertainment. A good book was crucial.

So this month, I want to provide you with a 'beach read.' Even if you don't have a beach nearby, I'm sure you can find a shade tree in a park, a picnic table next to a river, or a maybe a rocking chair on your front porch to make yourself comfortable in while you lose yourself in a good story.

I've listed a few of the books that I enjoyed reading. There's a cross section of fantasy, contemporary and historical fiction, so there should be something for everyone. Or, if you are like me, you're up for anything. You have your choice of a Kindle copy of one of the following:

Faery Marked by Mary Waibel

When Callie Rycroft wakes to find purple flames flickering on the ceiling, she believes she’s still dreaming. But soon she’s forced to accept that she has magic―a special magic that grants her entrance into the Faery Realm.

For centuries humans have been banned from Faery, but dangerous times call for dangerous measures. Declared Champion by the Faery Queen, Callie is assigned a Guardian, and tasked with finding the Cordial―a magical elixir needed to keep the portal to the Faery realm a secret from humans.

The upside? Reece Michaels, the boy she's been crushing on for years, is her Guardian. Callie hopes that, by spending time with Reece, he'll start to see her as more than just his best friend's sister.

The downside? She's in a race not only against time, but against another Champion, and a rogue Guardian―a Guardian who stands to threaten her developing relationship with Reece.

Magic, mistaken identities, and hidden agendas are the least of Callie's worries when she learns that the Cordial requires a sacrifice. Will Callie be willing to risk everything―even Reece―to complete her task as Champion? Or will she let the portal open, and doom both realms?

Elixir Bound by Katie Carroll

Katora Kase is next in line to take over as guardian to a secret and powerful healing Elixir. Now she must journey into the wilds of Faway Forest to find the ingredient that gives the Elixir its potency. Even though she has her sister and brother, an old family friend, and the handsome son of a mapmaker as companions, she feels alone. It is her decision alone whether or not to bind herself to the Elixir to serve and protect it until it chooses a new guardian. The forest hosts many dangers, including wicked beings that will stop at nothing to gain power, but the biggest danger Katora may face is whether or not to open up her heart to love.

An Absence of Light by Meradeth Houston

Leah’s always seen the shadow creatures. She thought she was immune to their evil—until now.

She’s walked into a massacre, stolen a BMW, and is running from the law for a crime she didn’t commit. Nineteen-year-old Leah’s life just went from mildly abnormal to totally crazy at lightning speed. But no one will believe that the shadow creatures are framing her for the murder, because she’s the only one that can see them. At least that’s what she thought.

When Leah stumbles across a group who share her ability, she discovers they have something she doesn’t: a way to fight back. When the group offers to teach her how to kill the shadow creatures, Leah jumps at the chance. But something is brewing with the creatures. They’re tracking down the hunters like there’s no tomorrow. Leah suspects that maybe there won’t be, and it’s up to her to make sure tomorrow comes. Because she’ll do anything to stop the shadows, including risking her life—and the life of the one she loves—to keep the world from being lost to darkness forever.

Caves, Canons, and Crinolines by Beverly Stowe McClure

In May of 1863, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth (Lizzie) Stamford decides to enlist in the Confederate Army. Two incidents trigger her decision. First, for months General Ulysses S. Grant and his Federal troops have been shelling Vicksburg, Mississippi. To control Vicksburg is to control the Mississippi River. Now, Vicksburg is under siege, cut off from the rest of the world.

Caves, Cannons and Crinolines is the story of Elizabeth (Lizzie) Stamford and her family's daily struggle to survive a changing way of life during the American Civil War. This is a story of fear, courage, and understanding that people, no matter where they live, have the same needs: love, peace and security.

Caves, Cannons and Crinolines by Beverly Stowe McClure is an Award-Winning Finalist in the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Award in the category Young Adult, an Award-Winning Finalist in the Novella category of the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and also an Award-Winning Finalist in the category of Teen Literature Fiction in the 2011 Global eBook Awards.

Vitamins and Death by Medeia Sharif

Deidra Battle wants nothing more than to be invisible. After her mother, a public school teacher, engages in an embarrassing teacher-student affair at Lincoln High, they relocate to a different neighborhood and school. Being her mother’s briefcase, Deidra joins her mother at her new workplace, Hodge High.

Since her mother has reverted to her maiden name and changed her appearance, Deidra thinks no one will figure out they’re the Battles from recent news and that they’re safe. Neither of them is. Hodge brings a fresh set of bullies who discover details about the scandal that changed her life.

Feeling trapped at home with an emotionally abusive, pill-addicted mother and at school with hostile classmates who attempt to assault and blackmail her, Deidra yearns for freedom, even if she has to act out of character and hurt others in the process. Freedom comes at a price.

Okay, I could keep going forever, but I have to stop somewhere. Which of the books would you like to read? Tweet about it to enter the rafflecopter (hint, the Twitter msgs below are in the same order as the books above, so tweet the book you'd like to win!) Or add the book on Goodreads. Or repin my Pinterest posts of the book(s) you are interested in. Share one or share them all, but only share if you want to win that book, because if your entry is chosen, you will win the book the entry was about. Don't worry, they're all good!

Enter before June 22nd. You can tweet every day, so feel free to come back again and again.

Good luck and happy summer reading!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

After you enter the contest, hop on over to Mary's InkRipples post and Katie's InkRipples post. 

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 5, 2015

Why YA? The Best Kept Secret Guest Post by Wendi Nunnery

I'm excited to have Wendi Nunnery visit Strands of Thought. She has a shiny new release, The Best Kept Secret, that she's here to talk about. Take it away, Wendi!

Thank you for having me on the blog today, Kai! I’m so excited to be here and share a few thoughts with you guys on The Best Kept Secret.

The Best Kept Secret, as you know, is a young adult novel, and I’ve received a few odd looks when I tell people this is the kind of book I wrote. Sometimes those who are unfamiliar with young adult novels tend to believe that the subject matter is light and fluffy, or perhaps even immature, because of the target demographic. They don’t seem to understand why I would want to write for this particular genre. At least not at first.

In recent years, young adult books have been making a dramatic shift from vampires and werewolves back to the daily struggles that teenagers face in an attempt to connect more personally with readers. Among the day-to-day issues like school, friendship, and love, authors are tackling really heavy issues, like bullying, sexual assault, death, teen suicide, eating disorders, sexual orientation and gender identity, and self-harm. And I think this is important because it helps people who might not usually read young adult novels remember that teenagers are real people, too. They aren’t one-dimensional. And sometimes they face incredibly difficult problems, just like anyone else.

The Best Kept Secret attempts to approach some of these issues - like bullying, sexual assault, and teen suicide - while still allowing the characters to live within a broad range of experiences where humor and love and friendship are still present. To give you a better idea of what I mean, I’d like to share a little bit about each character.


Emma is the narrator and protagonist of the novel. She’s a 15-year old sophomore at Cley High School, located in the fictional town of Cley, Georgia. She has a loving family and she was raised a Christian. This informs many of her beliefs, but she is struggling now that her friends are starting to differ in their views on issues like sex and relationships. Emma is strong and kind, but she often feels insecure. And this causes her some problems throughout the book.


Andy is Emma’s best friend, and he’s also a sophomore. He is 16, though, so he does all the driving. He’s popular, handsome, and very likeable. Andy is different from Emma in that most problems just roll off his back, but he’s loyal to her even when they start to face some big changes in their relationship.


Jesse is Andy’s older brother, and he’s an 18-year old senior. Jesse manages Andy’s band and he is incredibly smart. He’s also quiet and unassuming, so people usually like Jesse because they like Andy. Emma and Jesse have never been close, but they begin to build a relationship as Emma starts to question her other friendships. Jesse is my favorite character.

Elsie is a junior and she’s Emma’s closest girl friend. She’s very sweet, but Elsie wants to be liked and kind of follows along with everyone else. In the end, though, she proves herself to be much stronger than even she, or the reader, realized.


Georgia is what I like to call the “Regina George” of Cley High School. She’s popular and pretty and incredibly snarky. Georgia does what is best, or most entertaining, for Georgia. And she causes a few headaches for Emma along the way.


Deegan is the guy every girl wants to be with, but he has some pretty big secrets. He becomes Emma’s love interest early on and because of this relationship, Emma has to answer to herself in ways she had never imagined she would.

Thanks again, Kai, for having me on the blog today! I’m so grateful for the chance to tell you more about The Best Kept Secret and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Author Links/Bio:

Wendi Nunnery is the author of The Mayfield Family Story. She is also a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and The Simply Beloved, a lifestyle website for women of faith. She is a proud alumna of Georgia Southern University and, at any given time, you can find her with a cup of coffee and a book. She lives, loves, and mothers in Atlanta, Georgia. The Best Kept Secret is her first novel.

Find her online:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/wendinunneryauthor
Twitter: @ladynunnery
Instagram: @ladynunnery
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ladynunnery
Blog: www.wendinunnery.com      

About TBKS:

In high school, everyone has secrets. Even well-brought-up Emma Fraser.

Emmas sophomore year started out all wrong. First, her best friend Andy confessed to losing his virginity leaving Emma all alone in the V-Club. Then the rest of her friends got weird and suddenly Emma finds herself feeling like the people she knows best have become total strangers. And total strangers are becoming friends.

When Deegan Burke, a rich, gorgeous senior, asks Emm
a to be his date for the prom, Emma thinks her luck has begun to change. But rather than being able to bask in this newfound glory, her whole world starts to unravel. And when secrets that once seemed so innocent start to take a very dangerous turn, Emma discovers that true friends are friends no matter whatand some secrets arent worth keeping.


Amazon US:

Amazon UK: