December 29, 2014

Lexi's Pathetic Fictional Love Life Book Blast & Giveaway

Lexi's Pathetic Fictional Love Life
   Lexi's Pathetic Fictional Love Life 


 Lexi Middleton has been socially invisible to her classmates, but starting her junior year, that’s going to change. First, she’s determined to hook a boyfriend, ensuring dates with flowers and possible kisses on the doorstep. Second, she wants to be a writer for the school paper, even though it freaks her out to think of everyone judging her by her punctuation and metaphors. High school is difficult enough—keeping up her grades, dealing with increasing sibling rivalry, and trying to stay out of the way of her personal nemesis, Amberlee—but when Lexi catches the eye of her long-time crush, she also becomes the focus of mean-girl tactics. Caught between who she was and who she wants to be, Lexi must decide how to confront a bully, and choose who to let into her heart.

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  Lexis


Jo Noelle  Author Jo Noelle Jo Noelle grew up in Colorado and Utah but also spent time in Idaho and California. She has two adult children and three small kids. She teaches teachers and students about reading and writing, grows freakishly large tomatoes, enjoys cooking especially for desserts, builds furniture, sews beautiful dresses, and likes to go hiking in the nearby mountains. Oh, and by the way, she’s two people— Canda Mortensen and Deanna Henderson, a mother/daughter writing team. They began writing separately several years ago but found the process much more fun when they started collaborating. They are debut authors, with Lexi’s Pathetic Fictional Love Life as their first completed work. Other titles include Newbie and Damnation. Deanna attended college before marrying and starting her family. Canda received a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a Reading Specialist endorsement, and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership. Her day job focuses on teaching teachers and children about literacy.


50_Amazon_Paypal    Book Blast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 1/18/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
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December 19, 2014

Building Character with Reece from Faery Marked

It’s Friday! Time for my blog feature, Building Character in which you get to meet characters from a book. Talking to a character outside of their book is fun! Huge. Amounts. Of fun. 

This week Strands of Thought plays host to Reece from Faery Marked. Reece, I reviewed your story earlier this week, but for the sake of this interview, let’s pretend I’m a clean slate. Why don’t you start by telling our readers a little about your swoony self.

Hi, I’m Reece Michaels and I’m a Guardian. I know what you’re thinking. I’m some kind of bodyguard. And you’d be right. But, you’d also be wrong. See, a Guardian is a role, but it’s also a race of Fae. So, what do I do? Right now, I’m charged with watching Callie Rycroft to see if she is the chosen Champion. That means I hang with her as much as possible watching for a sign that she has magical powers. Definitely not the worst assignment I’ve ever had.

You’re right, that doesn’t sound too tough. So, what kind of conflict are you up against?

Prince Lorcan, the vile leader of the Adhair Fae, wants the barrier between the human and Fae realms to fall. It’s my duty, as Guardian, to keep the Champion safe while she finds the Cordial needed to keep the Ash Dance-the portal between the realms-closed to humans.

What are some of the biggest stumbling blocks you’ve encountered trying to find the Cordial?

Gwen and my brother Kale. They’re both here working for Lorcan. Kale is Gwen’s Guardian and a formidable foe. And Gwen is no weakling. She’s a Faery princess and wields some powerful time manipulation spells.

What have you learned while trying to resolve your conflict?

Be careful who you trust. Even with family. Sometimes the person you think you can count on turns out to be the one who stabs you in the back.

Ah, that is a heartbreaking lesson to learn. Thanks for visiting Reece. I hope you and Callie accomplish your huge task and keep us all safe. Readers, here is more info on Reece’s book, Faery Marked:

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?

Don't miss my review of FAERY MARKED and then hop on over to  AMAZON for your own copy!

Win a signed copy of Faery Marked and other swag. Details HERE. Don’t miss out on this LIMITED TIME OFFER!!!

Readers, here is more about Reece’s lovely author:

YA author Mary Waibel’s love for fairytales and happy-ever fill the pages of her works. Whether penning stories in a medieval setting or a modern day school, magic and romance weave their way inside every tale.

Strong female characters use both brain and brawn to save the day and win the heart of their men. Mary enjoys connecting with her readers through her website: marywaibel.blogspot.com




December 17, 2014

Faery Marked - The Story That Almost Wasn't

The Story That Almost Wasn’t
Guest Post by Mary Waibel
marywaibel.blogspot.com





All authors work in a different way. Some write and edit their own drafts. Some send weekly chapters to a critique partner (CP) to get feedback while drafting. Others write a draft, edit it, then send it out to either CP’s or beta readers for feedback.

I’ve done a mix of all the above, but the thing that I’ve found most helpful is a group of CP’s who have different skill sets.

Kai is one of my CP’s. We trade chapters on a weekly basis (or try to!) or sometimes send a complete draft to each other. When I send my work to Kai, I know she’s going to call me on places where I haven’t been true to my characters, places where she doesn’t understand what I’m saying, or can’t picture what I’m describing. These are all great things I need to know, as I can’t always see them myself.

Another of my CP’s will point to areas lacking tension. Places to beef up the story so the reader has to keep turning the pages to get to the end.

And still another points out issues with grammar (something I’m working really hard to learn. Just ask my editor, Ellie (who’s a great teacher for this stuff, BTW)).

This process works for me. I can see where I wasn’t clear, where my language is off, and where my tension needs work. Do I always agree with what they point out? No, but I do look closely at those areas so that I can make my story the best it can be for my readers.

So, how does all this play into Faery Marked? Well, back in July, about a month before the book was supposed to release, I asked my publisher to pull it. Something about the story wasn’t working for me, and I needed time to get it right. And she graciously gave me that time.

I rewrote almost the entire book in a month and sent it out to my CP’s. They found my plot holes, the things that I’d left in that needed to be taken out. They were my fresh eyes after living in this story for over a year. And, thanks to them and their amazing comments, I was able to turn this story around into something I am super excited to release to the world.


Hi! It's Kai. It was a new experience for me working with Mary on Faery Marked. I've never been as involved inside the critique process with anyone who worked as hard on a book as she did on this one. She tore it apart and pieced it together again more times than I can count. It was very inspirational to see her perseverance and tenacity. I love working with Mary. I'm sorry she has to work so much harder on my work than I do on hers. I promise I try to improve - Mary (and my other critters) helps me immeasurably. 


Don't miss my review of FAERY MARKED


Book Blurb:

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?

Available at AMAZON

Win a signed copy of Faery Marked and other swag. Details HERE. Don’t miss out on this LIMITED TIME OFFER!!!



About the Author:
YA author Mary Waibel’s love for fairytales and happy-ever fill the pages of her works. Whether penning stories in a medieval setting or a modern day school, magic and romance weave their way inside every tale.

Strong female characters use both brain and brawn to save the day and win the heart of their men. Mary enjoys connecting with her readers through her website: marywaibel.blogspot.com



December 16, 2014

Release Day Review of Faery Marked by Mary Waibel

Oh my gosh! I think I might be as excited for this book release as the author Mary Waibel is. Okay, probably not, but I'm a very close second. Full disclosure: Mary is my critique partner and I've read this book many times while she sweated and toiled over the construction of it. Seriously, it has to say something about the quality of the story that I still LOVE it after having read it several times over.

I'm so excited about Faery Marked's release I'm devoting my blog to Mary this week. Today - RELEASE DAY - I'm posting my review. As the week progresses, we will also have a guest post from Mary and a character interview. Please be sure to visit for those as well. And since you'll be buying the book and reading it immediately, update us on your reading progress as the week goes along!

Congrats Mary Waibel on the release of FAERY MARKED.

About the book:

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?

My Review:

Faery Marked by Mary Waibel is a fun contemporary fairy tale. Our main character, Callie is dealing with some guilt from an accident that killed her parents, but she’s a strong-willed, smart girl who can think for herself, as well as take care of herself. She’s a character that readers can get behind and root for. Her love interest and the Guardian assigned to protect her is Reece. I admit, the care and attention he shows Callie is swoon-worthy, but for some reason I can’t really explain, my heart belongs to bad boy Ryan. I’m kind of excited to say I think Ryan will play a big part in the second book.

Oh, speaking of second books, I think Ms. Waibel did a stellar job wrapping up the storyline of this book and then laying the teaser for the next. I can’t wait to see what happens next. Faery Marked offers fantasy, magic, mystery, and the occasional heart flutter. 

Available at AMAZON

Win a signed copy of Faery Marked and other swag. Details HERE. Don’t miss out on this LIMITED TIME OFFER!!!

About the author:

YA author Mary Waibel’s love for fairytales and happy-ever fill the pages of her works. Whether penning stories in a medieval setting or a modern day school, magic and romance weave their way inside every tale.

Strong female characters use both brain and brawn to save the day and win the heart of their men. Mary enjoys connecting with her readers through her website: marywaibel.blogspot.com











December 15, 2014

Ayden's Christmas - The 12 Indies of Christmas Blog Hop & #Giveaway

I'm thrilled to participate in another fun group giveaway.


When considering what to share as part of the hop, I considered a story about one of my favorite-ever Christmas gifts--a 3 foot tall, stuffed Snoopy I received when I was four years old. I thought about sharing the story of my husband's and my engagement (during the Christmas holiday.) However, I decided the most fun for both me and you--the reader--would be for me to provide a BONUS WORTH THE EFFORT story. How would Ayden surprise Ella at Christmas? Now you'll know. If  you haven't read my WORTH THE EFFORT series, treat yourself this holiday season by starting with ELLA'S STORY. Can't beat it at less than a dollar! Then be sure to enter to win AYDEN'S STORY as part of the hop - entry below the story. Or just pick it up too from Amazon. Enjoy Ayden's Christmas!


AYDEN'S CHRISTMAS

     “Did the blindfold slip? Are you peeking?”
     A small smile tipped the ends of Ella’s mouth upward. “For the tenth time, Ayden, I’m not peeking. But I’m wondering if you should have clothes-pinned my nose too. I smell chocolate.”
            I chuckled. “Stand here and don’t move. What else do you smell?”
            I loved watching her nose twitch like a bunny’s as she sniffed the air. Tearing my attention away from her adorable, sightless exploration of our surroundings, I quickly unpacked the rest of the meal from the basket. Setting a dinner roll on each small plate. Uncovering the bowl of butter. Pouring cream soda—a favorite of hers—into the glasses.
            “Peppermint, maybe.” Ella tipped her nose toward the ceiling, the strands of the ice blue, silk blindfold hanging long on her back. “Bread. Fire.” She giggled. “Or maybe heat. Does that even make sense?”
            I smiled, but remained silent. She’d know soon enough. I pulled the plastic cover off a bowl and a groan rumbled in Ella’s throat. I eyed the pulse of skin over her coratid artery, suddenly hungry for something beside dinner. Can a boy live off the taste of a girl’s skin?
            “Whatever that is,” she said in a rumbling, wistful voice, “it smells amazing. Oh my god, I’m drooling. Are you almost finished?”
            I stepped in front of her and slid my hands onto her hips. She startled and her grin grew wider. How could I read both confusion and wonder in her smile?
            “Oh, hello,” she said.
            I couldn’t resist, I leaned forward and soaked the smile from her lips to my own. Though the action was tender and light, my desire was greedy and soon my lips, my grip on her arms, even my guarded internal thoughts demanded more of her than her sunny smile. I cooled the pressure when I felt her sway unsteadily. “Is the lack of sight making you off balance?”
            “No,” she said, dreamily. “You’re making me swoon.”
            I laughed. She always knew what to say to fortify me. I reached behind her, careful not to pull her hair as I untied her blindfold. “Okay, keep your eyes closed until I tell you.”
            “Alright.”
            Her voice and her smile were filled with anticipation. God, she was fun. Despite wanting to postpone her anticipation, I stepped to the side to clear her view of the room, but continued to face her. I wanted to see her reaction. “Okay. Open.”
            Ella’s lids fluttered like she was trying to savor the moment. Then her eyes widened and her mouth fell open. She sucked in a breath as if she was going to speak, but nothing came out. She spun a slow circle. The reflection of more than thirty licks of candlelight defined her delicate features and flickered in her tear filled eyes. “It’s beautiful, Ayden.”
            Suddenly I felt shy and awkward, even though she’d already expressed her approval. “Maria said beef stew is one of your favorites.”
            “Maria?” Clearly surprised by the mention of her family's housekeeper, Ella’s eyes swept across the table in the middle of the room, laid with fine china, crystal stemware, and silver flatware.
            I guided her toward her seat, pulled it out for her, and gestured for her to sit. It took her a beat longer than expected to fold into her chair, because she was busy taking in the atmosphere of the room.
“Who do you think helped me with all of this?” I smiled at the sudden arch of her eyebrows as I took my seat across from her. “I got all the candles and stuff, but she came in to light them all and set the table. Of course she made the meal. As soon as I asked what your favorite meal was, she offered her assistance.”
            Tears glimmered in Ella’s eyes. “No one’s ever done anything like this for me before.” Her voice choked on emotion. “And now my two favorite people…”
I grasped her hand across the table and squeezed. “Ella, I know this isn’t a grand gesture by any means, but…”
“But it is!” Ella interrupted. “The candles, my favorite meal, the private setting. Where are we anyway?” Even as her eyes scanned the rustic paneling of my dad’s “hunting” cabin, she didn’t wait for an answer. “Ayden, my parents have never surprised me with so much as a peck on the cheek. I’ve always been the one to plan things among my friends. I know how much thought went into this and I’m…” Her voice broke off and tears flooded her eyes again.
“I’d like to say we’re even then.” I gave her what I hoped was a snarky grin, but what probably looked desperate and needy. “You’ve saved me from myself, and I’ve shown you—I don’t know, a small measure of my…something—but truth is, I’ll never be able to repay what you’ve done for me.”
Ella laughed her tears away. “My motivations are strictly selfish. Who wouldn’t want to be your girlfriend? You’re handsome, rich, and very attentive.”
The spark in her eye made me want to wrap my arms around her and attend to her lips. Instead, I raised my glass and waited for her to do the same. “Merry Christmas, Ella.”
She clinked her glass against mine. “Merry Christmas, Ayden. Thank you for making me feel very, very special.”
     I took a sip and grasped her hand one more time, though I knew I should allow her free access to her stew. “This meal doesn’t quite show how special you are. I hope to have many more opportunities to show you exactly what you mean to me.”
I leaned forward and feathered my lips across the back of her knuckles. The mischief in her eyes was a promise of opportunities to come.
***
I hope that whets your appetite for more WORTH THE EFFORT. We have all sorts of fun posts and giveaways in celebration of the season. Visit these blogs to learn more:
The Schedule
Dec 12th - Zane Sachs
Dec 14th - Chess Desalls
Dec 15th - Kai Strand
Dec 16th - Zoe Dawson
Dec 17th - Amanda Porter
Dec 18th - Joy Penny
Dec 19th - Mary Waibel
Dec 20th - Cynthia Witherspoon
Dec 21st - K.K. Allen
Dec 22nd - Ann Everett
Dec 23rd - Erin Rhew and Deek Rhew

and enter to win here:

December 9, 2014

The Lumpy Duckling Blog Tour and #Giveaway

I'm excited to announce that Lumpy and Wheezy will be taking their story on tour!


Starting tomorrow, December 10th, THE LUMPY DUCKLING and I will be touring the blog-o-sphere with book spotlights, reviews and interviews. And though there will be fun galore, my tour host, I Am A Reader, and I are offering a giveaway of a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash as extra incentive to join the fun.

You'll find the tour schedule here. Please make your way through the stops and thank the hosts for their generous time and attention on THE LUMPY DUCKLING.

Help me spread the word. Click the bird to tweet about the tour:
  Tweet: Follow The Lumpy Duckling by @KaiStrand - Blog Tour and #Giveaway http://ctt.ec/O1s0l+

Join us December 10th through the 18th. See you around the blog-o-sphere!