August 30, 2017

Spotlight on The Lost Knight by Candy Atkins + #Giveaway


  The Lost Knight by Candy Atkins How am I supposed to save the world when I'm not strong, not brave, not smart, and not particularly good at most things? I ran away from home the day after my thirteenth birthday when Auntie and her weird friend attacked me. Now I'm on the run with the Grim Reaper and a scary soldier. And I'm no longer on Earth. They were expecting me to be a Knight. The savior that's supposed to stop a war and prevent the invasion of Earth. But I'm not. They grabbed the wrong girl. I just don’t know how to tell them.  
  Praise for the Book:

#2 on GoodReads Middle Grade Novels of 2016 5/5 Stars “Like Harry Potter meets The Labyrinth.” -Author Adan Ramie 5/5 Stars “Candy Atkins takes us on an epic adventure reminiscent of the novels of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien.” –GoodReads/Amazon Reviewer
5/5 Stars “For all you Potterheads or Harry Potter geeks, how can you not fall in love with this story and appreciate the fact that it is a female lead.” –Rising Indies United
 
Excerpts:
Three full chapters are free online: Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three
This is a partial excerpt from Chapter One:
I grab the box of midnight-purple hair dye from my book bag and squeeze my way down the narrow, overstuffed hall into the only bathroom in our apartment. The shower hasn’t worked since it was turned into a storage closet, so I clear the sink of the old cat food cans Auntie has stockpiled, turn on the cold water, and dream about the day when I’ll have my own apartment with a shower, hot water, and food. “Agatha, are you still pouting?” Auntie yells from her recliner. ”I told you, Uncle will pick something up when he’s done with work.” My foster parents, I call them Auntie and Uncle, are not what I would describe as parents, or even aunt and uncle, they’re more like babysitters. Uncle hasn’t been home for three days, and I doubt she believes he’ll be here tonight. She just wants me to tell her that I’m okay with her not picking up dinner. I’m not. Today is my thirteenth birthday. It’s not like I was expecting a cake, but something to eat would’ve been nice. After I dye my hair, I take a shirt from the pile of laundry I’m standing on, wrap it around my head, and carry the remaining hair dye back to my bedroom. I love my tiny room, mostly because I’ve been sketching and painting jumbled and disjointed art on these walls since I was old enough to grip a pencil. Part of the reason I chose what the box calls boysenberry for my hair is because the extra dye is the perfect hue for the raven I’m painting on my ceiling. Dipping the number-three flat brush into my dye calms me and all is forgiven. Auntie’s not a mean person, she’s just a bit off. Being angry with her is like being mad at one of the cats—pointless. I wrap a blanket around my shoulders and open the window. Queens is especially chatty tonight with the noise of cars, people fighting, dogs barking, and the laughter that only I can hear. I stand on the bed and fill in the gentle face of my birdie while humming along with the chorus of voices outside. Tonight, the singing is boldly wafting through my window. I can’t understand the words and don’t know the tune, but the music is sweet and peaceful. It’s sad that I can only hear my songs some of the time, when I’m tired and relaxed, and sadder still that no one else can listen with me. My dye runs out long before I’m satisfied with my raven so I give up and climb into bed. The song I’m listening to now is particularly soothing, a hymn or possibly an opera. Maybe one day I’ll be a great songwriter or something. A muffled thud near my window startles me from a sound sleep. There’s an eerie red glow casting moving shadows across my room. I blink a few times to make sure I’m not still dreaming and follow the source of the light. Just to the side of the foot of my bed kneels a tall, hooded figure with luminescent red eyes. It’s stroking the long ears of a much smaller creature that looks withered and dying. I’m not scared, which is weird, but it might be because I’m not sure I’m awake. I turn on the lamp to make the dream disappear and end up blinding myself. When my eyes adjust, I see the sickly green skin of a long-eared frog-boy lying on the floor and the tall cloaked being that’s cradling it. The tall black monster who closely resembles the Grim Reaper appears to be even more stunned than I am. We stare at each other while my brain struggles to figure out what I’m looking at. These things don’t exist, so how can I be seeing them so clearly? The black-hooded creature never takes its red eyes off me while it stands and lifts the small sickly frog-boy off the floor. “Agatha?” it whispers. This monster is actually in my room! My insides seize, trapping my scream. What is this thing and how does it know my name? I want to run, but I can’t move or look away. My fluttering heart stops when my door flies open with a crash. A scream unseals my lips, amplifying my terror. Auntie charges in, wielding a large kitchen knife. She’s yelling in her nutty made-up language, but it works. The creature jumps out my fifth-floor window, taking the frog-boy with him. She whips around toward me, still holding the knife, and looking like she means to use it. “What did you see! What was that? What were you doing!” Auntie has her kind moments, but she’s crazy. I mean, truly mental. Whatever just happened, she mustn’t know that I saw it too. She probably suspects I did, but if I confirm it, she’ll nail my window shut and my songs will disappear forever. “I had a nightmare. Was I yelling in my sleep? Did I wake you?” I’m trying to sound calm, but I’m failing. She takes a few deep breaths while she sizes me up. She pauses and tilts her head to the side. “There was something here. I saw it. Did you see it?” “What was here? What did you see? And what’s with the knife?” I want her to tell me if she saw the Grim Reaper and a dead rabbit-frog-boy at the foot of my bed. If she saw them too, then I’m not crazy. But then again, if I see the same thing as a crazy person, we’re probably both insane.  
 
 Author Candy Atkins

Candy Atkins is a full-time writer who lives with her husband and two kids in Orlando, Florida. She’s an avid reader and lover of all things fantasy and sci-fi. Her debut novel, The Lost Knight, is volume one of the six-part Lost Knight Series. Her life’s journey has taken her from dining with the President to being on food stamps to running her own company. And since all author bios end by naming and quantifying pets... she also enjoys spending time with her boxer, Butler, and Wynona the cat.
      amazon or paypal $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway Ends 9/24/17 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. a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 25, 2017

Perfectly You by Robin Daniels +Giveaway


  Perfectly You by Robin Daniels Ivy Nixon is the student body Vice President at Franklin High School. Each year, the school holds a date auction to raise funds for the senior class graduation party, and this year, Ivy’s in charge. Planning the event is a huge task and Ivy is determined to prove she can get the job done right. Unfortunately, she’s still one participant short and her deadline is looming. Andy Walker, her cute but socially reclusive art class table mate, is her last resort. He may not be popular, but he’s funny, talented, and full of surprises. With a makeover and some major social marketing, Ivy is sure he could fetch a decent price at the auction. Andy reluctantly agrees to help, but the more time Ivy spends with him, the more her feelings shift from professional to romantic in nature. To top it off, she’s done her marketing so well, that other girls are starting to notice Andy too. Come auction time, will Ivy be able to let him go to the highest bidder? Or will she find a way to keep him for herself… Content Description: This is a stand-alone YA contemporary romance with companion novels set at the same high school. It contains minor language, innuendo, and crude humor, some steamy kissing, a party scene where underage drinking is taking place, and a brief but tasteful conversation about sex. The author has attempted to write characters who make good choices in questionable situations, in effort to keep the content appropriate for teens. This book contains no sex, written or implied, and no explicit language. Recommended for ages 14 and up.



 EXCERPT: "Probably not," I conceded. "Looks like I can kiss my dreams of being on the PGA tour good-bye. What am I doing wrong?" "Now you're asking?" Andy laughed. "On the last hole?" "Better late than never." I shrugged and gave him a toothy grin. "Hang on a second." He sank his last ball in two, then waved me over. "Ok, come here. Let Lilly and Jake go while I show you what to do." I walked to the edge of the green, club in hand. He stood close behind me, wrapping his arms around mine. Then he gently positioned my hands on the handle of the club. I'd always thought it was cheesy in movies when a guy showed a girl how to do something rather than just explaining it. The move was so obvious. But now that I was in that very situation, Andy's body pressed against mine, his yummy cologne assaulting my nose, I didn't care if it was cheesy. "First of all, you're gripping the club too tightly. You need to relax." He leaned over my shoulder and spoke softly against my ear. His breath tickled my neck, and my brain got fuzzy. "Next, you need to stop swinging like you're trying to drive the green. You have to finesse a putter. Swing it more like a pendulum and less like a baseball bat." He chuckled, then started swaying my arms back and forth with his. "Like this, can you feel the difference?" "Mmm-hmm," I lied. I was trying to pay attention, honestly, I was. But his closeness was making it extremely difficult. I couldn't feel anything beyond the warmth of his body and the softness of his lips grazing my ear. Was he trying to help me or distract me? My mind wandered until he pulled away and walked around to face me. "Finally, you need to aim." He smiled. "That's when you look at the ball, then look at the hole, then try to put the ball in the hole."

  

 
Author Robin Daniels Robin Daniels is a wife, mother of five and avid consumer of books. She loves reading SO much that she was actually grounded from it as a twelve year old. No Joking! Her mom caught her reading when she was supposed to be cleaning, which was a common occurrence. At that point mom took the books and instructed her to go watch TV or play outside like a normal kid. Robin is a sucker for home design shows and magazines, watches way too much Netflix and has a very codependent relationship with with a certain diet soda who’s brand shall not be named. (Though anyone with a similar problem could probably guess which one.)
  amazon or paypal$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway Ends 9/15/17 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. a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 17, 2017

Change the Conversation. Embrace the Vulnerable.

Warning: Rare personal post

I’m not a political person. My mind doesn’t work that way. I know what I believe in and vote to support that, but if you ask me to explain it to you, my tongue ends up in some strange political knot. There is a political disconnect somewhere between my brain and my mouth.

But I know hate.

During the presidential campaign one of the things that worried me most about Trump was how his actions stirred up the haters. Bigots, racists, oppressors, those who feel they are somehow better than others were feeling empowered by the man’s actions. When the surprise of his win wore off, the dread settled deep in my gut. I knew a lot of things would go wrong with him in office, but my biggest concern was how he empowered mean spirited people.

A president can negate laws and policies meant to protect people. He can put laws and policies in place to further his own agenda and they will have an impact on our lives – but on a higher level. Plus in four years when he’s voted out, the next president can undo everything he did. Our system is a pendulum to protect us – on that higher level – from a president who swings too far to one side or another.

But empowering the bigots and the racists brings it to street level. It plops it right smack dab into our neighborhoods. When he was elected I know I wasn’t the only one who worried about that. So, what happened this weekend was, on the one hand, no surprise. Don’t get me wrong; it’s shocking that we live among a populous that vehemently believes anybody is inferior enough to deserve oppression. Though I truly don’t want to accept there are still so many people with narrow minded, warped, and truly mean thinking – Trump already exposed that during his campaign. So the violence this weekend was just a matter of time.

The thing that worries me is the inflammation. A huge gaping wound was torn open in America this weekend. It’s surrounded by tender, inflamed people who are more likely to become infected and make it worse rather than better. We know our leader is not going to step forward and strongly denounce these actions. So, without proper leadership, we must figure out how to take control ourselves. How do we reject the power given to the haters and create a society of tolerance and acceptance? With more hate and vitriol? No.

Lead by example. Speak up, but instead of shouting, speak with strength and conviction. Why point a finger at people who voted for Trump? That will only put them on the defense. Instead, share a personal experience of how the shift in our culture has impacted you, your family, or friends. Make it real. People react better to stories than to accusations.

We need to change the conversation. We need to protect the vulnerable. Reach out to those in your life who are especially vulnerable; people of color, lgbtq, Jewish, women, (who else, the list seems to grow daily anymore!) Reach out and let them know you love and support them. That you are a safe place for them when they feel threatened. Bullies give up when their target is well protected. As a community, we can warn the haters off.

I’m so sad that we are in this place again. Looking at the images and reading/watching the unabashed hate makes my heart hurt. But at the same time, the fact that we – as humans – continually repeat this repulsive behavior makes me realize that it will always, always be a fight we must wage. Maybe what we learn from our past isn’t not to oppress, but how to oppress the oppressors. It isn’t our leaders who do it. It is the people. It is US. Embrace the vulnerable and stand strong against the haters. Don’t even give our inept leader the time of day. Each time we rise to the bait, we reward his attention monger antics. He doesn’t deserve our anger. Put that energy into the street fight.

Peace.

August 10, 2017

Cover Reveal of This Life Isn't Mine by Dominique Laura + #Giveaway

I'm excited to share the cover for the upcoming #YAcontemporary, This Life Isn't Mine by Dominique Laura.
About the book:
Most nights, when I close my eyes, my dreams are filled with memories from my past life, the one I lived before this. I remember who I was and the people in that life, and I don't want any part of this one. Everly Hope Davis isn't who I want to be, but she's who I am. In the beginning I fought against her and everything in her world, but it's impossible to hate something when you're living it every day, when the people involved make it a life worth living. I'm trying to make the best of it now, but deep down I know this life isn't mine.


Preorder link: (PREORDER FOR 99 CENTS!): http://a.co/hObcR5P



Cover designer: Liv's Lovely Designs



Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dominiquelaurawrites
Twitter: @DomLauraWrites
Instagram: DominiqueLauraWrites
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/author/dominiquelaura

Giveaway HTML: a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 7, 2017

August #InkRipples: Author options in Publishing

A quick side note before I get into this month’s topic of author options in publishing. Several lovely bloggers helped my alter ego, LA Dragoni, celebrate the release of Guardian’s Touch with a blog tour and giveaway. Be sure to stop by their blogs TODAY to read my words of wisdom and enter to win one of three great prizes. Today, Monday, is the last day.
Katie Carroll http://bit.ly/2f12JKI
Meradeth Houston  
http://bit.ly/2hgUo6o
Beverly McClure  
http://bit.ly/2vbfZTF
Patricia Lynne  
http://bit.ly/2f1uHpU
Joan Curtis  
http://bit.ly/2uR2Ooj
Erin Rhew  
http://bit.ly/2wlC52M


I’m going to try and take a different approach to this month’s Ink Ripples topic and see if I can address how the expanded options for authors in publishing has impacted the reader. At least from my viewpoint.

Back in the day, not all that long ago, authors really only had one option to achieve successful sales in publishing. The big six (there used to be six, now there are…five?) Anyway, since Amazon paved the way to making self-publishing not only affordable and attainable and others like Smashwords, and Draft to Digital, etc, followed, it also opened the gates to achieve sales success, all sorts of possibilities have opened up, including many small press publishers, and as a result more books are published each month than ever before.

What does this mean to readers?

Selection. Just doing a generic search on Amazon for a few genres I come up with more books than a reader could browse in a lifetime, let alone read. Paranormal Romance: 122,765. Science Fiction & Fantasy: 382,555. Oh, here. I might have stumbled upon a niche market. Young Adult Contemporary only pulls a result of 43,446. Ooo – wait, even better is Time Travel Romance, which only returns 13,130.

I have books published/to be published in each of these categories. Let’s say a reader is interested in my Super Villain Academy books, but can’t remember the name of any of the books – or they heard someone talking about my time travel romance and can’t remember it’s title or the pen name I write under. How are they supposed to find it?! Sure there is a lot of selection, but how do readers narrow it down? Eenie meanie, miney, moe? Throw darts at the screen and see what they hit? Selection can be good and it can be overwhelming.

Price. Competition often drives prices down. Maybe not so good for the authors, who would like to get paid for all the work they poured into that book, but it’s great for the readers. 99¢ is the new black and readers are taking full advantage of it. It isn’t even too disappointing if they end up with a poorly written book or a one that wasn’t edited at that price. And it is a good way to see if you want to invest a whole $3.99 on one of the author’s other books. However, because authors aren't making money, they are more likely to stop publishing altogether, which will impact that author's fan directly.

Services. This is actually a pretty sweet deal for readers. There are now a ton of FREE newsletters readers can join where, when the reader signs up, they tell the newsletter what types of books they are most interested in and they get a daily/weekly email with a list of books in those categories. That helps the reader find new authors or even publishers who they can then stick with. The reader can weed out the newsletters that don’t send suggestions they are interested in and only continue to receive the ones they deem more reliable. Bloggers are also AWESOME. If readers take the time to try a few different bloggers who review books they are interested in, they’ll find one or two they can rely on to feel the same about a book as they do.

Quality. Back in the day it used to be that only quality books were found through publishers and self-published work was generally crap. The waters have been so stirred up now that you will find self-published crap, small press published crap and crap from the big five. But guess what – it also means you can find quality work across the board too.

The interesting thing is most of the time the reader isn’t really aware of how the book got into their hands. They just know that the cover or the blurb or a recommendation from a friend/bookseller/librarian caught their attention. Most readers don’t say, “Ah, but who published it?” before deciding to pick it up.

What do you think? How has the expansion of authors’ options in publishing changed life for the bookworms out there?

#Inkripples is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the first 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.