Tag Archives: YA

Contest Alert: YA Paperback Giveaway Extravaganza!

Giveaway

Hey folks, a fellow CMP author, Heather Topham Wood, is having a huge YA giveaway with six other authors.  It is worth a look!

Click this link:

YA Paperback Giveaway Extravaganza!

Enter for a chance to win one of these amazing books! Giveaway ends February 4 and open to US and Canada. Good luck!

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Author Open MIC: Welcomes Shawna Romkey + Lily from Speak of the Devil

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Welcome!

Hi folks!  We are switching gears today and I have the great honor of interviewing Lily, the heroine, from Speak of the Devil by Shawna Romkey.  Shawna’s new book is releasing in 11 days and counting.  This will be Shawna’s debut novel and I am so excited for her.  Her talent doesn’t stop there, as she also writes plays and manages Trindie Books – News, Reviews and Free e-Books for your Kobo .  Before we introduce Lily from Speak of the Devil, let me tell you a little more about Shawna…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shawna Romkey

Fall into fantasy:  fall in love, fall to pieces, fall from grace

SR (83)

Shawna grew up in around farms in the heart of Missouri but went to the University of Kansas, was raised in the US but now lives on the ocean in Nova Scotia with her husband, two sons, two rescue dogs and one overgrown puppy from hell. She’s a non-conformist who follows her heart.

She has her BA in creative writing from the University of Kansas where one of her plays was chosen by her creative writing professor to be produced locally, and two of her short stories were published in a university creative arts handbook.  She earned her MA in English from Central Missouri State University where she wrote a novel as her thesis.

She’s taught English at the university and secondary levels for close to twenty years and can’t quite fathom how all of her students have grown up, yet she’s managed to stay the same.  She’s a huge geek and fan of Xena, Buffy and all kick ass women, and loves to write stories that have strong female characters.

www.shawnaromkey.com

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shawna-Romkey-Author/137998326331706?ref=hl

https://twitter.com/sromkey

http://pinterest.com/shawnarp/

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6869437.Shawna_Romkey

typewriter News Headlines

CHARACTER INTERVIEW

Hi, Shawna.  Welcome to Wicked Romance and a spotlight we call Author Open MIC.  I understand you have brought Lily with you and she has agreed to answer some questions for our readers.

Thank you for having me here today, Jean.

I want to welcome Lily to the Wicked Romance.  First off, let me tell you I love your name.  Tell us a little about yourself and the town you live in.

Well I was living in a small town with my mom before the accident. There wasn’t much there but the school, the church and a corner store. It was in rural Missouri. After the accident I moved away to live with my dad in Kansas City. The school itself was bigger than the population of the town I came from, and there was a lot more to do, but I haven’t been feeling very social lately.

How would you describe your best friends in five words or less?

Dead unfortunately, but before that…. Fun, happy, nerdy cool.

What is the biggest challenge being a teenager in high school?

For a regular teenager, there’s school stress and peer pressure and drinking at parties. If that were all I had to worry about.  For me I’ve had to deal with tragedy, and then there’s this thing with falling angels that somehow I’m wrapped up in.

You are only one year from graduation/senior year.  What are your favorite things about school?  What do you hate most about it?

I like the routine of school. Getting out of the house and getting my mind off things I don’t want to obsess over. I hate math class, but my teacher is cool. Sometimes I hate having to deal with people.

What do/did you want to be when you grow up?

I hadn’t thought about it a whole lot, but I like writing for the newspaper and investigating things. I think I’d be a good reporter.

Where do you go when things get tough?  Do you run and hide?  Fight?  Or just shrug and move on?

I hate to say it but I guess I run. When the accident happened, I ran away to my dad’s to escape. I often go for walks in the fields by my dad’s house when I need to be alone and think.

What was your biggest worry before the accident?

Whether Mike and I would finally get together or if I’d pass a math test.

Do you have a boyfriend?  What is he like?

Before the car accident, I had a crush on Mike.  Now there’s Mo who seems really into me, and Luc who is crazy amazing, but I’m not sure if either will work out.  They’re best friends, so…it’s complicated.

What do you want to tell us about Shawna?  Where can readers find her?

Shawna can do an awesome Xena battle cry. I think that’s about it.  Oh, she loves dogs and helps with animal rescues in our area.  She hangs out here most days….

www.shawnaromkey.com

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shawna-Romkey-Author/137998326331706?ref=hl

https://twitter.com/sromkey

http://pinterest.com/shawnarp/

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6869437.Shawna_Romkey

Open MIC fav five for Shawna:

  1. Favorite hero or heroine -Xena Warrior Princess :p
  2. Favorite author– George RR Martin
  3. Favorite music to write by– depends on the story and mood, usually silence
  4. Favorite inspiration- images… I like finding pics of characters and creating a story around them
  5. Most memorable writing moment– getting the email when Steph offered me the contract for SotD

BOOK INFORMATION

RELEASES MARCH 15, 2013

Speak of the Devil (young adult paranormal romance novel), in production with Crescent Moon Press.

SpeakOfTheDevilWhat happens when falling in love and falling from grace collide?

After dying in a car accident with her two best friends, Lily miraculously awakens to grief and guilt. She escapes to her dad’s to come to terms with the event and meets some people at her new school who seem all too eager to help her heal. Sliding deeper into sorrow and trying to fight her feelings for two of them, she finds out who…what they really are and that they are falling too.

Can she find the strength to move on from the past, reconcile her feelings for Luc, find a way to stop a divine war with fallen angels, and still pass the eleventh grade?

BOOK TRAILER

typewriter true love

BOOK EXCERPT

Rain fell, not uncommon for late spring in Missouri. “If you don’t like the weather here,” my grandfather would say, “wait five minutes.” Of course, I’d visited distant relatives in Maine once before, and they said the same thing.

Julie fumbled with the wipers while I pulled the sun visor down to check my face in its little rectangular mirror, even though I’d only left my vanity like five minutes ago. The lights on either side lit up the interior of the car. I reached into my tiny party purse to find my lip gloss, which was easy to locate since I’d only packed the essentials in my bag: phone, some cash, and make-up. As I glanced at myself, I saw Mike in the reflection, smiling at me from the back seat. I stuck my tongue out at him, making him laugh, and put on the lip-gloss, fully aware of how flirty I acted.

The windshield wipers couldn’t keep up with the sudden downpour. The pitter-patter turned to thumping. Hail came down in gumball-sized pellets. “Damn.” Julie jerked the steering wheel to keep The Whale off the curb.

“Slow down, Jules.” Mike gripped Julie’s headrest. “We can pull over until it passes.”

“Yeah.” She squinted to see the road before her.

I pressed my lips together to smooth out the gloss. “Damn is right. I didn’t bring a jacket.”

The Whale swerved to the right crunching along the gravel on the side of the road. I braced myself in my seat. Julie leaned up to the steering wheel and peered over it as my grandmother sometimes did when she drove. I squinted because of the stupid light up visor mirror. I slammed it shut, but Julie panicked and over corrected, pulling The Whale to the left and careening over the yellow dotted line in the middle of the street.

“Julie!” Mike shouted.

Time slowed and ticked out in heartbeats.

Ba bum.

Julie cringed, her hands moving up to shield her face. Her head turned away from the highway.

Ba bum.

Mike reached protectively from the back seat.

Ba bum.

The headlights illuminated the rail of the overpass.

Ba bum.

The car hit the rail on the opposite side of the road with a hard thud.

Ba bum.

Crap. We’re going over the bridge.

Ba bum.

The Whale’s nose pointed down toward the water.

Ba bum.

A jolt forward and my forehead slammed into the dashboard.

Ba bum.

The Whale flipped in the air. I’m upside down.

Ba bum.

Pain.

Ba bum.

Did my mom say good-bye when I left?

Ba bum.

Cold water rushed into the car.

Ba bum.

Is this it?

Ba bum.

I can’t breathe. Oh my God, I can’t breathe. I can’t see or breathe!

My heart quickened. It pounded. The Whale leaned on its side under the surface of the water which rushed in fast, and I couldn’t see a damn thing.

Calm, stay calm. Don’t panic. They say when you’re drowning not to panic because you use up your air faster.
Dammit, am I drowning?

I tried to get myself upright and jerked out of my seatbelt. Luckily, it gave way. I fought the latch to open the door facing up, but the pressure of the water from Black Water River held it closed, trapping me inside.

Jesus. I know this river. It’s more of a creek. It can’t be more than fifteen feet across and ten feet deep.
I pushed at the door. Opening my mouth to scream, I swallowed water.

I couldn’t see or hear Julie or Mike. My watch ticked. Or was it my heart beating?

Ba bum. Ba bum. Ba bum.

Darkness.

Silence.

Cold.

Wet.

Defying gravity.

Nothing.

The dreams came. Like a good sleep you don’t want to wake up from. I felt heavy and floaty. I wore this long white gauzy gown and the wind blew my dress and my hair like in some feminine hygiene commercial. I could breathe slowly and deeply. Completely relaxed and at peace, but I was alone.

I floated along in a white space for a while. Drifting. Breathing. Relaxing. Had I gone to a spa? After an immeasurable amount of time, others appeared. They wore white clothing, too, and they floated like me, reaching out. They opened their arms as if to welcome me to them.

I stopped and frowned. I heard no sound, and I didn’t know who these white floaty people were or why they welcomed me. They smiled, genuinely happy, and held their arms out to me. I panicked.

Where’s my mom? My family? Wait, Mike and Julie were just with me, where are they? Are those wings?
I noticed the others floating with me had white feathery wings.

“Lily,” one of them called out.

Holy hell. I’m dead.

Available at Amazon on MARCH 15, 2013.  PREORDER AVAILABLE NOW!!

Giveaway

JOIN the PARTY HEREMARCH 15, 2013, Book Release Details on Shawna’s Website

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Cover Reveal: January Black

Look what the New Year brought Author Wendy Russo…

Sixteen-year-old genius Matty Ducayn has never fit in on The Hill, an ordered place seriously lacking a sense of humor. After his school’s headmaster expels him for a small act of mischief, Matty’s future looks grim until King Hadrian comes to his rescue with a challenge: answer a question for a master’s diploma.

More than a second chance, this means freedom. Masters can choose where they work, a rarity among Regents, and the question is simple.

What was January Black?

It’s a ship. Everyone knows that. Hadrian rejects that answer, though, and Matty becomes compelled by curiosity and pride to solve the puzzle. When his search for an answer turns up long-buried state secrets, Matty’s journey becomes a collision course with a deadly royal decree. He’s been set up to fail, which forces him to choose. Run for his life with the challenge lost…or call the king’s bluff.

January Black

More Information Click HERE:

Cover Reveal: January Black.

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Author Open MIC Welcomes ~ Shannon Eckrich

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I am excited to introduce Shannon Eckrich to Wicked Romance.  Her novel Other Side of Forever just released in January.  The story has gotten great reviews and I can’t wait to read it. For a reader and writer of paranormal romance, it wasn’t until this last year I started to delve into Young Adult stories.  Now?  My TBR is 50/50.  The genre captures something that seems pure and real.  I think all of us can relate on some level.  Heck, we lived through those years and probably have our own story to tell.

Born and raised in Delaware, Shannon Eckrich lives with her husband, two children, and chocolate lab, Chewy. She has always had an interest in the paranormal. Ghosts, angels, vampires, aliens, it doesn’t matter, she loves it all. When she’s not writing, you can find her consuming young adult novels. When she discovers an awesome book, one that has a huge impact on her, she has a hard time letting it go, even to lend it to a friend.

Along with reading and writing, she enjoys planting flowers with her daughter, going to the beach, or just hanging out with her family.

So, let’s get started.

Host:  Welcome, Shannon. Tell us a little about yourself and what inspires/motivates you to write YA.  Why do you think it is so popular?

Shannon: Hi, Jean. Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog today. It’s such a pleasure to be here.

I guess I could start out by saying I’m a bookaholic. I absolutely love to read. And it really doesn’t have to be YA. I’m just as content reading my daughter first chapter books as I am reading YA and adult novels. When I’m not reading or writing, I’m volunteering at the firehouse with my husband and my son, spending time with the family, or helping serve lunch to a room full of high school students through the school year.

Yup, I work in a school cafeteria. And it’s the greatest job I ever had besides writing. Watching how the students interact with each other really helps me out when I’m writing, and the teens I come in contact with are pretty amazing.

I enjoy writing YA because it takes me back to my younger years. My husband and I were actually high school sweethearts. We’ve been together since we were fifteen years old, and there’s nothing I love more than reminiscing the mixed emotions I felt the first time our eyes met or the first time we kissed. It was a time of innocence back then, and truly romantic. I think that’s why it’s so popular today with adults. I also think young adults enjoy these novels because they can easily relate to the characters, their emotions, and their problems. Not to mention that a majority of the male characters in YA novels are so freaking hot.

Host:  What are the challenges that young adults face these days?  How do you capture that in your writing?  Are there limitations to what you can or cannot write?

Shannon: Young adults face just as many challenges as we did when we were at that age. Well . . . at least as many challenges as I did in school. They still have the bullies, the peer pressure, and the need to fit in, to be accepted. They’re at that point in their life where they are trying to define who they are and what their purpose is. It can be confusing to them. And I think I captured a majority of these issues when I created Allie in Other Side of Forever. I know we don’t have any special powers (even though it would be super awesome if we did) but that’s what set Allie apart from everyone else. Her powers made her different even though she wanted to be normal. And normal to her was being exactly like everyone else. But as the story progressed we realized that being different isn’t such a bad thing. You know, since she really kicked some major butt in the end. And that’s the message I’m trying to send out to young adults. Be different. Be true to yourself, and just be happy with who you are.

Another way I captured some of these issues is with Becca. Becca is the mean girl, the bully we all had to deal with in school. And even today we’re still dealing with bullies. You see commercials on TV about it and schools claiming to put a stop to it. But the truth is, instead of dealing with it, some schools tend to look away and find it better to ignore the subject. I know this first hand, because my daughter was dealing with it in kindergarten and first grade. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but they start out that young. And even though most bullies won’t go to the extent Becca did, they still make us feel like crap.

Unfortunately, there are some limitations on what I can write. Parents aren’t happy if they find that their child is reading material which contains drugs, alcohol, or any kind of sexual content, so I veered away from that subject as I wrote Other Side of Forever, even though these are some major issues concerning young adults. I wanted this novel to portray the innocence of falling in love for the first time, that first kiss, the excitement and anticipation you feel just by being near that perfect someone, taking in their scent, the electric charge in the air . . .

Oops, sorry. I guess I got a little carried away.

Host:  What are the challenges to writing YA compared to Adult?  Any words of advice for other YA writers?

Shannon: The only challenge I had writing Other Side of Forever versus After the Rain (my adult paranormal short story available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble) is that I had to change my way of thinking. In Other Side of Forever, I had to think like a young adult and ask myself how I would have reacted if I were in the same situation as Allie. After the Rain was fairly easy for me. The story is about a mother, Janie, who runs to the store in the middle of the night and leaves her son with her sister. When she returns, her house is engulfed in flames and her son is trapped inside. Sadly, the story is inspired by a true event, but when writing that piece, I went through all the emotions I would feel, as a mother, if I were to face the same problem as Janie.

I guess the only advice I can give YA writers is to make sure the pacing of their story is fast. And that they end and start a chapter with some kind of action taking place. Young adults are busy these days with cell phones and video games, so it’s our job to keep them reading. And the only way to do that is to give them a reason to keep turning the page.

And to those of you who are aspiring YA authors, my advice to you is to never give up.

Host:  How do you reach out to your audience?  How many of your readers do you think are adults?

Shannon: The fastest and easiest way for me to reach my audience has been the internet. I’m a member of many writing groups and websites and a few critique groups. I also have a Facebook author page and I do have a website. I’ve also been featured in the local paper, attended a book signing at my local library, and shared my novel with the schools.

I think a majority of my readers are adults. There are so many problems in the economy right now that I think adults are looking for a way to escape their everyday problems, and the best way to do that is to be taken back to our youth. Teens and tweens can’t seem to grow up fast enough to their standards. But adults, we want to go back to where we didn’t have to worry about whether or not we might go into work and lose our jobs, deal with those annoying bill collectors, or even worry about whether we bring in enough income to put food onto the table for our families.

It’s really hard out there right now, so we need something to take us away from reality. Even if it’s only temporary.

Host:  What do your kids think of their mom, the author?  Did they help you develop the characters?  What about Chewy? 🙂

Shannon: My daughter, who’s only seven, thinks it’s great. She made sure she told all of her first grade teachers, and I had to set up the computer so she could begin her own story. It’s actually pretty cute watching her type and think about what she wants to write. My son, on the other, could care less. He’s eighteen, so he’s out doing his own thing.

I actually developed the characters myself, but I did run the names by my daughter for approval. 🙂

Of course, Chewy helped me, too. I do a majority of my writing on my laptop while I sit in our recliner, and Chewy, who is about 65 to 70lbs and feels he should be a lap dog, jumps up and squeezes in next to me. He gives me that extra burst of inspiration, if you know what I mean.

Host:  Your cover is so powerful.  Can you tell us what the orb signifies?

Shannon: Thank you, Jean. I think CMP and Taria Reed did such an amazing job bringing Allie to life on the cover of my novel. The orb Allie is holding in her hand is her energy and the energy around her. Once she learns how to control her powers, she can draw in energy and form it into the shape of a ball. It’s really powerful stuff.

Back Cover Blurb

What if your life finally seemed to make sense? But, what if–in an instant–everything is taken away? How far would you go to get your life back?

Seventeen-year-old Allie Anderson’s telekinetic powers are anything but useful–she can’t bring her father back, can’t stop her mother’s downward spiral into alcohol, and can’t keep her from falling in love with Ethan Bradley. Loving Ethan is easy, but it comes with a hefty price: Ethan is prohibited by his people from interacting with mortals–because he isn’t mortal himself.

When Allie and Ethan’s love is discovered, there’s someone who will do anything to keep them apart. If Allie can’t learn to control her powers and fight to save Ethan, this dark entity will make every attempt to stop her beating heart. And if that happens, not even the energy of an immortal can bring her back.

Host:  There is nothing I love more than forbidden love.  Tell us about the world you created in Other Side of Forever and how does it affect Allie and Ethan.

Shannon:   The world I created in Other Side of Forever affects Ethan and Allie in several ways. They’re in the mortal dimension, so if a mortal happens to find out about Ethan, this could be potentially dangerous for him. He has powers that heal, powers that can manipulate objects, and powers that could actually kill a human instantly if he really wanted to. The scientific community would love to get their hands on someone like him. And he knows this, which is one of the reasons why he has to be secretive about his life. Of course, this is one of the things that really bugs Allie.

It’s bad enough she’s confused about the emotions sweeping through her every time Ethan is near, but to have him wanting to be with her one minute, and then completely pushing her away the next, gets pretty overwhelming for her. Ethan knows this, but he’s caught in a fine line. He views Allie as fragile, since she’s a mortal and can die so much easier than he can. And this frightens him. He’s afraid of not only what the other immortals would do to her if they found out about their relationship, but he also fears that the Darkness, or dark entity, the immortals have warned him about will discover Allie and harm her.

Allie, on the other hand, could care less about her safety. She’s used to taking care of herself, and she sometimes gets a little bothered when Ethan just pops up out of nowhere and saves the day, giving her some lame excuse as to how he managed to get there so fast. When she finally discovers what and who Ethan really is, she goes to every extent to protect his identity, including lying to her friends. This eventually leads to a few confrontations, but Allie and Ethan are determined to be together, no matter what the consequences may be.

Host:  What do you love most about Allie?  About Ethan?  Is there a Hollywood couple that would best represent them?

Shannon: Allie is strong and hardheaded, and I think that’s what I love the most about her. She’s been through a lot; being abandoned by her father, taking care of her alcoholic mother, putting up with Becca, and dealing with these strange powers that she can’t seem to control. But through all of this she continues chugging along. And I think pairing her with a sometimes overly protective immortal really highlighted these traits.

Ethan values Allie’s life over his and he will go to any extreme to make sure nothing happens to her, physically or emotionally. I know that’s definitely a plus on my list. Especially, since he’s so darn good looking.

As of right now I can’t think of a Hollywood couple that would be best to represent them. If something big comes up (which would be so freaking awesome) I would probably leave the casting to the professionals.

Host:  Your blurb makes me curious, (without spilling any secrets) what is the dark entity?

Shannon: Ooh, the dark entity. This is definitely going to be tricky to explain without spilling any secrets. All immortals, or Asterians, have come to believe that a Darkness, or dark entity, is roaming through the mortal world. And that this entity is the cause for war, pollution, and everything else that causes people or mortals, to lose their humanity. The Asterians were so terrified that this entity would make it into their world that they completely closed off the portals to the mortal dimension. The Asterians believe that the dark entity has the ability to jump from mind to mind, leaving nothing but death and destruction in its aftermath, and that it constantly searches for a way into the immortal realm. The only way for it to make it into the immortal realm, however, is for it to attach itself to a mortal who is close to an immortal, and use that mortal as a host to take it through the portal once an Asterian reopens it.

Sorry, guys, but that’s about all I can reveal about the dark entity without spilling any secrets.

Host:  Where can readers find you?

Shannon: I’m normally always online. My readers can find me on facebook, on my website (which I really need to update soon) shannoneckrich.weebly.com, or they can email me at shannoneckrich@gmail.com.

Host:  Where can they buy your book?

Shannon: Other Side of Forever is available at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, and at crescentmoonpress.com.

Other Side of Forever
by Shannon Eckrich

Purchase e-Book
Purchase Print
Genre: Paranormal
ISBN-10: 1937254372
ISBN-13: 978-1937254377
Length: Novel
Publication Date: January 23, 2012
Cover art by Taria Reed

Seventeen-year-old Allie Anderson’s telekinetic powers are anything but useful–she can’t bring her father back, can’t stop her mother’s downward spiral into alcohol, and can’t keep her from falling in love with Ethan Bradley. Loving Ethan is easy, but it comes with a hefty price: Ethan is prohibited by his people from interacting with mortals–because he isn’t mortal himself.

When Allie and Ethan’s love is discovered, there’s someone who will do anything to keep them apart. If Allie can’t learn to control her powers and fight to save Ethan, this dark entity will make every attempt to stop her beating heart. And if that happens, not even the energy of an immortal can bring her back.

Prologue Excerpt

“There’s always a beginning and an end, Allie,” my mother told me, the poison slurring her words as it wrapped around her tongue. “Nothing lasts forever; not life, not even love.” She slammed her glass of vodka down on the table, venom sloshing up and raining down, beading into small puddles on the linoleum floor. “It all fades away in the end. That perfect little world everyone always dreams about—it never happens.”
Mom spooned this crap to me all the time after Dad left. Big heaping mounds of it. I never knew what it meant because at ten years old, everything seemed to go on forever. The ocean, rainbows, the sky—they never ended to me. They always went on and on with no end in sight.
I mean, really, has anyone ever found that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? I think not. And I already had my perfect world I’d made with my best friend Jeremy, a world constructed out of branches, logs, leaves, and anything else we could forage from the forest floor.
But as I grew older, I found meaning in her words. Mom wasn’t talking about what goes on inside a child’s head, inside that world they create where fire-breathing dragons are around every corner and fairy princesses wave their wands to tuck you into bed each night. She was referring to what it was we blossomed into when we reached adulthood. The stuff I would have to prepare myself for, even though some of them would never pertain to me. Marriage (which would never happen), divorce (can’t get ditched if you don’t get hitched), bills (well, yeah), the repo man (her problem, not mine). That kind of stuff.
But more than that, Mom was talking about love (yeah, okay, not a chance). An emotion that turned to dust and got sucked up into our vacuum cleaner a long time ago.
I hated my life. I hated Dad for abandoning me, hated Mom for drinking all the time, hated the fact Jeremy had to move away and leave me.
But most of all, I hated the fact that God had cursed me.

Share with us your thoughts:  Why do you think ADULTS read and/or write YA?

Have questions for Shannon?  Please post below!

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Author Open MIC ~ Welcomes Aaron Ritchey

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I’m so excited to introduce my next guest, Aaron Ritchey.  He is a newly discovered talent that I think is going to be a big hit with YA readers.  Not to mention he has a great sense of humor and always makes his posts entertaining.  So let me tell you a little about Aaron…

Aaron Michael Ritchey was born with Colorado thunderstorms in his soul.  He’s sought shelter as a world traveler, an endurance athlete, a story addict, and even gave serious thought to becoming a Roman Catholic priest.  After too brief a time in Paris, he moved back to the American West and lives semi-comfortably with three forces of nature: a little, blonde hurricane, an artistic tornado, and a beautiful, beautiful blizzard.

He is happiest dancing among the extremes, reading Twilight,  Atlas Shrugged , and A Case for God at the same time.  Like a playlist on shuffle: Fatboy Slim to Rammstein to George Strait to Katy Perry.   He loves the ambiguous and the incongruous.  The beauty of reality, as well as the tragedy.  From the basest evils to the most transcendent good.

So writing Young Adult novels is perfect for him because that is a time of extremes and firsts, and who doesn’t love firsts?    First time on our own, first kisses, first heartbreaks, first everything.  It’s an exciting, dramatic time, and that’s exactly what a good story needs, excitement and drama.

www.aaronmritchey.com

www.facebook.com/theneverprayer

www.twitter.com/aaronmritchey

So let’s get to it…  Aaron, you have the MIC!

********************

Thanks so much to Jean Murray for letting me take over the Open MIC night.  I’m here to rock the party, rock the party, right.  Since I think the first chapter of my book rocks, I figured I’d go over the anatomy of my first page.  Caution, my first page is anatomically correct.  Or at least I hope it is.

First, a little summary.  My debut novel, The Never Prayer, is a Young Adult Paranormal Romance about a teenage girl named Lena.  Shattered by the death of her parents, she will risk everything to keep her disintegrating family together.  In love with both a demon and an angel, Lena must unravel the mysteries of heaven’s fury and hell’s desire before she loses everything.  Who is the demon?  Who is the angel?  Lena can’t tell the difference, and every minute pushes her closer to the edge.

Here are the first 16 lines:

“I’m not going to do it again,” Lena Marquez whispered to the red purse across the hall from her nestle of blankets. “Never again.”

All of her other purses, scarves, and belts were just shadows hanging from hooks on both sides of the bathroom door, but in the glow of the cracked Thomas the Train nightlight, the red purse glittered. Each sequin like a teardrop of blood.

The heater chugged on sending lukewarm air into the basement apartment, as cold as an icebox. In October, at ten thousand feet, Avalon, Colorado had no pity for the weak or poor. It killed both.

Through anorexic walls, Lena could hear her aunt’s barking cough in the next room. But it wasn’t the coughing that had Lena awake at 4:46 on a Monday morning. It was her three-year-old brother, Joziah, who would wake up any minute.

He was like an alarm clock, same time, every morning. So regular Lena was awake before he asked the questions she couldn’t answer.

Already the work of the day felt like bricks on her chest. Her junior year homework continued to pile up among the dirty laundry around their mattress on the floor.

But first, Jozey, always Jozey, no matter what.

Now, in the opening, I have to do a number of things.  First, gotta hook the reader.  Hopefully, the first paragraph will get you.  I want the reader to wonder, what on earth is she not going to do again, and what does that have to do with her red purse?

In the first lines, I’m also trying to set the mood and setting.  I tried to use strong language here to give the reader a feeling of desperation and tragedy: the cracked nightlight, teardrop of blood, anorexic walls et cetera.

As for setting, I’m hoping the elevation of the town, her sleeping on a mattress on the floor, the thin walls, will tell you she’s poor and struggling.

Finally, I have to give you a sense of who Lena is and why you want to root for her.  I didn’t want to just say she was sixteen, so I described her Junior Year homework.  And the laundry shows she has a lot on her plate, and she is stressed out.

Now, I did a little telling, not showing, in that last line about Jozey but I would hope I did it in such a way as to emphasize it in the mind of the reader.  If you wanna read the rest of the opening, you can visit:  http://crescentmoonpress.com/books/TheNeverPrayer.html because the next paragraphs show Lena nurturing Jozey.  You gotta have a hero people can like, and Lena starts out troubled, alone, kind of bitchy, so I needed a strong sense of her as the hero, taking care of her little brother.

So that’s what I was trying to do with my opening.  One of my favorite moments in the life of this book was at a writers workshop, where my first chapter was being read aloud.  A woman at the workshop started to read it, but she had to stop because she started to cry.  I cried too.  Our eyes met, and we understood each other at that moment, that life can be hard, but there is hope.  Which is really the theme at the heart of my little book.

For more about me and The Never Prayer, you can visit us both at www.aaronmritchey.com.  And of course, I’m on Facebook, as is the book at http://www.facebook.com/TheNeverPrayer.  And I tweet – @aaronmritchey.   If you are at all curious about the novel, our friends at Amazon.com would love for you to visit them!

Thanks again, Jean Murray!

********************

Okay, Aaron.  You’re not out of the hot seat yet 🙂 snicker, snicker.

Host:  First, I want to say what beautiful writing you have.  It draws you deep into the story’s character and her plight.  I love to garner emotion from the readers, I write with that very goal.  What is your goal when you right?  What do you want readers to take away from your book?  (I know very deep, but you put me in the mood with your excerpt).

Aaron: You know, I find life very difficult.  Other people seem to skate through the existence as if they have the “how-to-be-a-human” manual in their back pocket.  But then, that’s me comparing my insides to other people’s outsides.  I think we all have our drama.  So in my books, I want to present life as it is, hard, brutal at times, gritty.  But then I bring in the paranormal to show that there is hope, there is joy, there is the impossible around us, to save us when we most need saving.  Life is full of miracles.  If you look for them. 

 

Host:  What is it that draws you to write Young Adult?  How do you get into the head of your teenage heroine?

Aaron: Funny, but I had a guy who wondered how I could channel at sixteen-year-old girl so well.  It’s like Dickens, being a teenager is the best of times and the worst of times.  It is a time of unimaginable growth, where children become adults.  For me, I found the whole thing traumatizing.  I wanted life to be like a sitcom, and it wasn’t, and poor me.  So I remember the angst.  I remember how hard just going to school felt.  I still feel like a teenager sometimes, awkward, afraid, yet courageous.  Immortal.  Yes, teens today face a different world than I faced, but it’s still the human experience.  Still, the same old drama.  As for the girl part, I’m part girl—I loved soap operas growing up, I cry at commercials, I find clothes interesting.  And though I think gender is important, being human is more important.

Host:  So what are readers saying about your book?  Yes, it is okay to brag 🙂

Aaron:  I have had some wonderful reviews on Amazon, some from very talented writers.  It humbles me.  Really.  I love it when someone picks up my book, thinking they are getting the same old, same old—the good versus evil, fallen angel versus evil demon, type of story, and then, it grabs them.  Even those that don’t like the paranormal.  I love it when I hook the skeptics because that means I’ve done my job.  My story isn’t about angels and demons, it’s about life!  The Universe!  Everything!  I’ve been compared to Ray flippin’ Bradbury by one reviewer.  Humbled.  And when I hear the words, “I couldn’t put it down”.  Hurray!

Host:  Now that you have teased us, tell us a little about the male hero of this story?  In your description of the book you mention two love interests—do tell.

Aaron: I can’t say much because part of the fun is that you don’t know who the villain is until about halfway through the book.  Both of Lena’s love interests are broken, one shows it, the other doesn’t.  One is an angel who wants the world to be perfect, and the other is a demon who revels in the despair, desire, and death he sees in people, though you wouldn’t know it at first.  Because of course, a good demon will seduce us before we know he’s a demon.  But I can’t give away too much.  Both are broken, but smoldering hot, ‘cause I love a good romance, and a good romance has to have the hunks.

Host:  As a debut novelist, out of all the milestone in your beginning career what one thing stands out?  Unfair question, I know.

Aaron: Two things.  I made my publicist cry.  Bree Ervin is one tough bird, but she cried when she read my book, and she cried when I signed her copy because without her, I wouldn’t have as many readers as I do now.  You can find her at ThinkBannedThoughts.Com.  The other thing was a night I spent with my friend and official Girl Friday assistant, Chris Devlin.  That Tuesday night, when I was overwhelmed with fear and desperation, Chris and our friend Angie Hodapp sat me down in a Village Inn restaurant and we talked about how everyone is afraid, how everyone is broken in some way.  That night, my life changed.  Writing is hard.  Getting published is hard.  But without Chris Devlin, dang, I don’t know here I’d be.  Prolly either at a methadone clinic or a soup kitchen. If you are looking for help with the administrative tasks of writing, or you need a cracker-jack copy editor, you can find Chris Devlin at http://chrisdevlinwrites.com.

Host:  Do you have any advice for new writers?  Words of wisdom to share?

Aaron:  I will now tell you the secret to life.  Get your pencils and paper ready.  Okay, the secret to life is this: enjoy what you are doing and where you are, right now.  I wish I had relished my pre-publication days.  I wish I had breathed those moments in deep.  Because before you know it, your writing time will be cannibalized by marketing your book, doing signings, et cetera.  And learn to love writing, so you’d rather write than eat ice cream, you’d rather write than watch T.V.  Hemingway has a great quote about when writing becoming your greatest joy, you will do it until you die.  Enjoy the creative process.  Laugh at the funny parts.  Cry at the sad parts.  Relish the stories you write.

Host:  What comes next?  I know you are busy promoting your book.  Where can readers find you?  Conferences, book signings, blogs….

Aaron: If you really wanna follow my madness, My News and Events page on my website has all of my doings.  I just got interviewed on Bookmark Radio, which was a great experience, and I have a book signing in San Jose, California at Hicklebee’s on May 12, 2012 followed by a California launch party on June 14, 2012.  The world is invited.  I’ll be speaking at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers in September, 2012, and of course, Mile-Hi Con in Denver, October, 2012.  Before the world ends in December.

As for projects, too many to count.  I am just finishing up another YA Paranormal about a broken girl who has to overcome her own limitations to help her dying grandmother travel to France to see the grandmother’s love from World War II. 

********************

Aaron, thank you for sharing your story.  I wish you the greatest success with The Never Prayer

It has found its place on my TBR and I can’t wait to read it.

To find out more about Aaron Ritchey….

For more about Author Aaron Ritchey and The Never Prayer, you can visit them both at www.aaronmritchey.com.  And of course, he is on Facebook, as is the book at http://www.facebook.com/TheNeverPrayerAnd his tweet handle– @aaronmritchey.   If you are at all curious about the novel, our friends at Amazon.com would love for you to visit them!

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NEW RELEASE: Awaited by Lynn Rush

The voice is a powerful thing. . .

Russell Leonard is a centuries-old Guardian who’s lost faith in his purpose. So when he’s charged with procuring the first female Guardian in over two centuries, he can only hope it’s the red-headed beauty who’s been haunting his dreams for months. And if it is, he intends to claim her as his. But when he finds his dream woman, Annabelle is mute and bears no Guardian’s Mark.  He soon realizes she’s been tainted by an ancient evil. Russell must somehow release the secrets trapped within this delicate soul to help her tap into the only weapon powerful enough to silence a millennia-old demon—her voice.

Awaited is now available in online stores: Amazon, B&N, ARe

ISBN: 9781937254216

Amazon: http://amzn.to/HTGzgR

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/JewjTX

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/AAxAz4

All Romance E-Book: http://bit.ly/HHTx2U

Kobo: http://bit.ly/JrPIDi

About the Author…

Driven to write, Lynn Rush often sees her characters by closing her eyes watching their story unfold in her mind. Lynn Rush is a pen name that is a combination of two sources – Lynn, the first name of her mother-in-law, who passed away and Rush – since the author is a former inline speed skater and mountain biker. All of Rush’s books are dedicated to Lynn, her namesake.

Rush holds a degree in psychology from Southwest Minnesota State University and a master’s degree from the University of Iowa. Originally from Minneapolis, Rush currently enjoys living in the Arizona sunshine by road biking nearly 100 miles per week with her husband of 15 years and jogging with her two loveable Shetland Sheep dogs.

Connected with Lynn online

Catch the Rush: www.LynnRush.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/LynnRushWrites

Twitter: www.twitter.com/LynnRush

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/lynnrushwrites/

~~~See you in the paranormal~~~

Reviews…

GraveTells 

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TASTE ~ Cover, Book Trailer & Excerpt

My favorite cover for 2012.  I’m so excited to bring you a little more taste of TASTE.

At Barinkoff Academy, there’s only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threaten to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Luka has other plans.

When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff Academy. Phoenix doesn’t realize until it is too late that the closer she gets to both Demitri and Luka the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud.


Song Credits: “Hunger” © Noelle Pico.
Full Download available at http://sheisnoelle.bandcamp.com

About the Author…

When Kate Evangelista was told she had a knack for writing stories, she did the next best thing: entered medical school. After realizing she wasn’t going to be the next Doogie Howser, M.D., Kate wandered into the Literature department of her university and never looked back. Today, she is in possession of a piece of paper that says to the world that she owns a Literature degree. To make matters worse, she took Master’s courses in creative writing. In the end, she realized that to be a writer, none of those things mattered. What really mattered? Writing. Plain and simple, honest to God, sitting in front of your computer, writing. For more information on Kate and her writing, you can visit her website: www.kateevangelista.com

EXCERPT…

I sat up and followed Calixta’s gaze upward. I rubbed my eyes. I didn’t know what I was seeing at first. A statue? ­My brain refused to snap together coherent thoughts.  I didn’t realize I’d fallen so close to one of the garden benches until I stared up at the boy that sat on one. He was strikingly beautiful. His tumble of blonde hair curled just above his sculpted cheekbones. He wore a silk shirt and a loosened cravat, like he’d become bored while dressing and decided to leave himself in disarray. His ivory skin and frozen position was what had me mistaking him for something carved from marble by Michelangelo. Then he sighed—a lonely, breathy proof of life. If I had to imagine what Lucifer looked like before he fell from heaven, the boy on the bench would certainly fulfill that image. My brain told me I had to look away, but I couldn’t.

“Luka,” Calixta said again, her voice unsure, almost nervous. It no longer contained the steel and bite she had threatened me with, which made me wonder who the boy was.

He leaned on his hands and crossed his legs, all the while keeping his eyes fixed on the night sky. His movements spoke of elegance and control. I’d encountered many people with breeding before, but his took on the air of arrogance and self-assuredness of someone used to getting what he wanted when he wanted it.

I only realized I’d been holding my breath when my lungs protested. I exhaled. My heart sputtered and restarted with a vengeance. Luka tore his gaze away from the stars and settled it on me. I’d expected pitch-black irises, like the other Night Students, but blue ice stared back at me.

“Human,” he whispered.

He reached out, and with a finger, followed an invisible trail down my cheek. I stiffened. His touch, cooler than Demitri’s, caused warm sparks to blossom on my face. He lifted his finger to his lips and licked its tip. He might as well have licked me from the way my body shivered.

Luka’s curious gaze held mine. “Leave us,” he said, but not to me.

“But—” Calixta protested like a spoiled child.

He spoke in a language I hadn’t heard before, remaining calm yet firm. The words had a rolling cadence I couldn’t quite follow, like rumbling thunder in the distance. They contained a harsh sensuality. The consonants were hard and the vowels were long and lilting.

Footsteps retreated behind me.

Luka reached out again.

It took me a minute to realize he wanted to help me up. I hesitated. He smiled. I smiled back timidly and took his hand, completely dazzled. Even with my uniform soaked from melted snow, I didn’t feel cold—all my attention was on him and the way his callused hand felt on mine. Without moving much from his seated position, he helped me stand.

“What’s your name?” he asked. He had a voice like a familiar lullaby. It filled my heart to the brim with comfort.

I swallowed and tried to stop gawking. “Phoenix.”

“The bird that rose from the ashes.” Luka bent his head and kissed the back of my hand. “It’s a pleasure meeting you.”

My cheeks warmed. My head reeled, not knowing what to think. I couldn’t understand why I felt drawn to him. And the strange connection frightened me.

From behind, someone gripped my arms and yanked me away before I could sort out the feelings Luka inspired in me. I found myself behind a towering figure yet again. Recognizing the blue-black silk for hair tied at the nape, relief washed over me. Calixta hadn’t come back to finish me off.

Demitri’s large hand wrapped around my wrist. Unlike the night before, no calm existed in his demeanor. He trembled like a junky in need of a fix. The coiled power in his tense muscles vibrated into me.

“What are you doing here?” Demitri asked.

I didn’t know he’d spoken to me until I saw his expressionless profile. I sighed.

“Phoenix.”

I flinched. The ruthless way he said my name punched all the air out of me. “You owe me answers,” I said with as much bravado as I could muster.

“I owe you nothing.” He glared. “In fact, you owe me your life.”

“I don’t think so.”

Ignoring my indignation, he faced Luka, who’d remained seated on the bench during my exchange with Demitri. “Why is she with you, Luka?”

“I wasn’t going to taste her, if that’s what you’re implying,” Luka said. “Although, she is simply delicious. I wouldn’t mind if you left us alone.”

There it was again. Taste. The word that kept coming up between these Night Students and I was connected to it in an increasingly uncomfortable way. To taste meant to sample, but what? My flesh? They had to be joking because the alternative wasn’t funny.

“The sins of the father …” Demitri left his sentence unfinished.

Luka’s smile shifted into a snarl. “Obey my command.” His chin lifted. “Kneel.”

Demitri’s stance went rigid. His grip tightened around my wrist.

Okay, weird just got weirder. Why would Luka want Demitri to kneel before him? I thought back to Eli and the others bowing to Demitri when he questioned them, but they didn’t kneel. Seriously? Were they all living on a different planet or something?

Kneel.” Luka’s detestable smirk made his features sinister rather than angelic. The real Lucifer: a fallen angel.

Without letting go of my wrist, Demitri knelt down on one knee and bowed his head, his free hand flat at the center of his chest. “Your command has been obeyed,” he said formally.

Luka nodded once.

Demitri stood up and pulled me toward the school without telling me where we were going. Not having the time to thank Luka for saving me from Calixta, I risked a glance back. Luka smiled at me. His smile spoke of whispers, secrets, and promises to be shared on a later date.

Links…

Author Website: www.kateevangelista.com

Twitter: @KateEvangelista

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kate-Evangelista/165693410143202

Find Taste on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13484226-taste

Crescent Moon Press page for Taste: http://crescentmoonpress.com/books/Taste.html

Happy Reading!!

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Ones to Watch ~ Small Press Treasures Blog Hop

Photobucket Photobucket

I want to thank Sam, Elena and Rhonda for hosting this fabulous blog hop.  I love Small Press for many reasons.  First, the stories they produce are truly hidden treasures.  They are the bread and butter of debut and experienced authors, alike.  Stories that would be classified as “not mainstream” enough have an opportunity to shine.  I am so grateful to my small press, Crescent Moon Press.  My editor for Soul Reborn, Heather Howland (now with another small press, Entangled Publishing) mentored me through my first publishing experience.  She cared about the stories and treated the authors with respect.  Small Press companies employ extremely talented artists, no matter what the genre.

So, what am I giving away?? 

An e-copy of Soul Reborn, Wicked Romance Organic Tote with Signed Cover Flats, Egyptian Tarot Cards

To Enter:  Answer one of these questions in a comment below…. 

What do you like best about Small Press Publishers?

What is your favorite Small Press Author or Story Hero or Heroine?? 

My Favorite Small Press Authors:

My Favorite Small Press Covers:

 

My favorite Cast of Key to the Cursed Series Heroes:

Asar, God of the Underworld, Dead and Afterlife.  He is most well-known for judging souls at the gates of the afterlife.  Do not cross him or he may just feed your soul to the beast.  Pass the test and receive everlasting life.

Bakari, son of Asar, and Protector of the Gates.  Holder of the key to the Underworld. You will recognize him by the scorpion carved tattoo on his back and arms.  Those daggers on his chest aren’t just for show.  One pierce to the heart will kill any god.

Bomani, Commander of the Underworld Legion.  You can’t miss him.  He wears his rank on his skin in the form of scarification tattoos that cover his entire body and the brand of the legion shield on his chest.  Don’t let his charismatic smile and jovial personality fool you.  Only the strongest and fiercest alpha warrior rises to the top.

Kamen, brother to Asar, and Soul Eater.  The largest of all the Underworld gods and the most dangerous.  Stay clear of this big fellow.  His stoicism is just a façade to the beast within.  But he has it under control, most of the time.

The Gods of the Underworld have graciously agreed to help me promote my book, Soul Reborn.

For more great small press supporters, see below and continue on the blog hop!!

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Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

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Cover Reveal: BREATHLESS by YA Author Cole Gibsen

Obituary-reading emo girl Edith Small is broken – the end result of forcing herself inside a mold that doesn’t fit. All she wants is to conform to her strict sergeant stepfather’s rules long enough to make it to graduation day. But a boat accident threatens to unravel the life Edith has worked so hard to keep. After waking up in a hospital with a lacerated shoulder, Edith fakes amnesia. Because admitting she received her injuries from a blue-haired girl who breathes underwater is all the reason Sir needs to send Edith on the first bus to military school.

Safe at home, Edith struggles to put the nightmare behind her. But the mysterious creatures that live in the ocean aren’t about to let her forget. After meeting Bastin – a strange boy with silver hair and black eyes – on a secluded dock, Edith learns about the war raging undersea to end human existence. A war that Edith, unwittingly, has become the key to winning.

In a world where death is an ever-present shadow and motives are as dark as the bottom of the ocean, Edith must decide if her life is worth risking for a love that can’t survive past the shore.

********************

Cole Gibson:  Cole Gibsen first realized she different when, in high school, she was still reading comic books while the other girls were reading fashion magazines.  It was her love of superheroes that first inspired her to pick up a pen. Her favorite things to write about are ordinary girls who find themselves in extraordinary situations.

When Cole Gibsen isn’t writing fiction for young adults she can be found shaking her booty in a zumba class, picking off her nail polish, or drinking straight from the jug (when no one is looking). Cole currently resides in the Greater St. Louis area with her husband, daughter, and one very cranky border collie.

Find her here:

Author Homepage

Goodreads

Facebook

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 This cover is incredible.  I think it captures the book’s title perfectly, not to mention the feeling each of us had when we were in high school– in over our heads, drowning in expectations, struggling to discover who we really were…

Cole’s novel is due out this spring.  Add it to your TBR on Goodreads.  You won’t want to miss this one!

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Author Open Mic ~ Welcomes Elizabeth Cheryl

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I am so excited to introduce Wicked Romance’s next guest for Author Open Mic, YA author Elizabeth Cheryl.  Her debut novel ,The Summerland, is due out any moment now.  I can’t wait.  Elizabeth has an amazing heartfelt story of love, courage and determination. I wouldn’t do her story justice so I am glad she is here today to share her journey to publication with you.  Above are some snapshots of Elizabeth in Salem, MA (the setting of her book) and the individual her book, The Summerland, is dedicated– her mother

Take a look at this beautiful cover…

When Abigail Parker moves to Salem, Massachusetts, with her Aunt Bridgette, nothing makes sense from the moment she arrives. A familiar but unknown voice whispers words of reassurance. Her aunt’s behavior is confusing at best.

When Bridgette’s gravely injured, Abigail desperately seeks help from a spell book she found in her closet. But something goes terribly wrong. Abbey is hurtled three centuries backward in time, landing in a vastly different Salem.

It’s summertime 1692 – the infamous witch trials are in full swing and Abigail’s sporting pink nail polish and a tattoo. Abigail finds William, the source of the familiar voice and something much more. However, she must return to modern Salem to retrieve the spell book.

Can she do so in time to save her family and without exposing herself to accusations of witchcraft? Most importantly, how does she leave when she’s just finding love?

*************************************

Before we get to the interview questions below, I want to give Elizabeth the opportunity to tell her story, and the journey that brought her to this moment and time.  Get your tissues out, because I don’t think there will be a virtual dry eye out there.  When I first heard it, my breath caught in my throat. The amount of love that went into the writing of her book is astounding. 

Elizabeth, thank you for coming today.  Can you please take a moment to tell us your story and the significance of your journey?

 Hi Jean…First of all I wanted to start off by thanking you for including me in such a wonderful blog. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to work with such talented authors like yourself at Crescent Moon Press. Second I would like to acknowledge the loss of one of our own at Crescent Moon Press on Saturday. I just sadly read the news of Judi McCoy and we all will experience her absence in some form or another.

As for my story about how I ended up in such a wonderful family of writers is an interesting journey.  About 2 years ago I had a dream about a couple in the Seventeenth Century. They were young and so in love. I wanted to create a world for them to belong to and a story that would touch hearts as they touched mine. I had decided to write about what life was like for them during Puritan Times and the torture endured during the Salem Witch Trials. What would one do if the man or woman you deeply loved were to be hung in front of you and your children. The thought gripped me. I began researching more about those times and the stories of the accused. During this process I had a notion to have my main character, Abigail live here during modern times and somehow time travel back to Salem, Massachusetts where the story takes place.

I had just recently learned that my mom was ill, possibly cancer but we were not sure of the severity back then. As I created Abigail’s story it took on a very similar spin as my mom’s life. My mom was born in raised just outside of Boston in a town called Millis, Massachusetts. She was about a half hour or 40 minute drive from Salem depending on traffic. I spent countless hours with my mom who needless to mention was also my very best friend. We would sit together in her office as I wrote each page picking her brain about Massachusetts and its scenery, smell, people and so on. Each page I wrote became a part of us. Her past, a history lesson for both of us and a bond of a story that we began to fall in love with. I would write a page and hand it to her in anticipation to see if she laughed at the right parts or cried where I had hoped she would.

So many times over that 8 month period of writing the book she shared that, “I was a wonderful writer” and I would crack up laughing because I had never written a damn thing in my life. I figured she just really loved me…

As the book came to an end, I had written an 85,000 word novel and she had edited her first book. We were so excited with what we had done together. But as life seems to have its own plans, my moms cancer had suddenly worsened. On January 31, 2011 I had just finished the last chapter of the novel when I received a phone call from my mom that she was having trouble breathing. My mom had been diagnosed with Non-Smoking Lung Cancer during our process of writing the book. I drove quickly to her house which was only 7 minutes from mine but seemed like 70 minutes knowing she was struggling to breathe. I had called 911 on the way to her house to make sure they would be there when I arrived. After viewing her CT Scans of her lung our worst nightmares had come to life. My mom was given 2 weeks to live.

I stood motionless in the hospital room with my brother and sister. We had decided to take my mom home with hospice to my bothers 5 acre house at the top of the El Dorado National Forest. There we cared for my mom until 13 days later she passed away in our arms on February 12, 2011. I had painted her toes that day and read to her the first three chapters of the book hoping it brought her some peace. You see Abigail, my main character ended up in Salem after losing her mother to cancer. Before I had any idea that I would lose my own mother to the same fate as the novel unraveled.

The Novel is called The Summerland because according to Pagan belief that is the place where  the soul goes to rest before it is reincarnated into another human body for another life again on this planet. My mom had been Pagan most of my life. So this was a familiar concept to me.The day before my mom passed she was able to whisper a few words to me, her last words were, “I will see you in The Summerland.”

Those words run circles in my head as every day passes but aside from the irony of Abigail in my book and my mom with cancer there was another undeniable coincidence. My mom was very into earthly and spiritual things. She studied many religions but felt a deep connection with the more Pagan beliefs. With that came her appreciation for the cosmic realms of life including the moon. Being that it is one of the most fascinating things in the night sky it can easily become a favorite amongst paintings and jewelry and so on. Her favorite moon was the Crescent. It was her earrings and her pictures and rings…

When I wrote out my submission letters for publishers I was unsure of writing ever again. I lost my desire because she was not sitting by my side reading every page anymore. I had no one to write for. I only sent out 6 submissions at midnight one night. A day later I received a request for my manuscript and 4 days later I was signed with an amazing publisher, none other than its name being, Crescent Moon Press.

Thanks mom 🙂

You mention that your heroine, Abigail has suffered a similar loss.  Was it difficult putting your experience into words? Do you think your story will help other young adults understand how to cope with loss?

Yes, Jean it was very difficult. But you have to understand that when I wrote the novel my mom was still with me. I had never imagined what that type of pain could feel like. It wasn’t until I lost her that I actually could really relate to Abigail’s loss of her mom to cancer. After about a two month period of time, a time when I thought I would never write again was when I had to go through the manuscript and rewrite many parts of the book. From an actual perspective that was so hauntingly familiar to Abigail’s. I can only hope that from reading this story that it would give some peace of the healing process. 

Your novel The Summerland is scheduled to release next month, March 2012 and what a beautiful cover.  Not every author gets input into their own cover, but at Crescent Moon Press the authors get to communicate to the cover artist, key elements from their book.  Themes, symbols etc…  What input did you have in its creation?  Tell us what you love best about your cover and how best it represents your story?

Well the cover was an interesting project. When I first wrote the book, and Summerland was in its baby stages I knew Abigail was young and blonde. I pictured her in a flowing white dress amongst a field of flowers. When you look up the definition of The Summerland on Google many images are described, many that sound similar to heaven. Warm and full of flowers and nature. I pictured that for the cover, but I also pictured an Oak Tree as well. The Oak Tree was a symbol in the book as the tree where the accused were hung on Gallows Hill. I pictured a beautiful strong tree with its mighty branches, but its once strong and magnificent arms had been turned into a killing machine to hang innocent people. That tree was not meant for those purposes and it took away from its pride and beauty. I felt that was significant as well for the cover. Crescent Moon Press created a cover that was beyond what my mind could had imagined. I could not be more proud, it was everything my mom and I had discussed. I can only hope she is looking down to see the beauty we had envisioned together. 

What inspired you to write a YA story?  What do you find most challenging and fulfilling about writing for this particular genre?

 Hmmmm… My inspiration to write this story was my yearning to share with our generation of teens what life was like three hundred years ago. I took Abigail who was immersed in Facebook and iphones as most teens are and I slammed her into the Seventeenth Century. I felt it was important to explore life then compared to the freedoms we seem to take for granted now a days. Our history books only scratch the surface of what life was really like during Puritan times. How far we have come with our civil rights and how far women have come from being dunked in chairs or beaten with sticks for mis-spoken words. It was a harsh time to be a woman or to just be alive then.

I found the most challenging part of writing a young adult novel was tactfulness. I wanted to throw in some swear words every once in a while and maybe a steamy love scene but that was out of the question. I had to stay in the mind of an eighteen year old and that was difficult to do sometimes.

I love that this book travels back in time.  What a shock it would be for a modern teenager to end up in Salem, MA.  Without giving away any secrets… How does Abigail manage?

Haha…That’s a good question! How does she manage? Not very well I guess. She faces a lot of challenges and witnesses a society that is un-accepting of anything that is different, and lets face it, Abigail is very different. But one thing I can say is that she grows on this journey. As we all do in life, we will grow with her in this book and the next three sequels to follow….

Describe Abigail in five words or less…   What about William?

 Abigail in 5 words or less…. Naive, Passionate, Awkward, Caring, and on her way to becoming very strong.

William is Handsome, Well Mannered, Humorous, Compassionate, Sheltered

Do you see a little of yourself or your own children in Abigail?

I see a lot of myself in Abigail as far as her will to try to make a difference. She wants to change history and save the ones she loves. She is absolutely a gluten for punishment as I believe I can be that way and she loves with reckless abandonment. I might have a little of that too….Maybe…

The story’s setting is in Salem, MA.  What inspired you to use this location?  Have you been to Salem and do you have a favorite location you have been or would love to visit?

Well this is a heavy hitter question for me…I had not been to Salem when I first wrote the book. All the information I had gotten about the area I had to research through the internet and see through my moms eyes and her stories. We had a trip planned for last October to go there to visit Gallows Hill and Salem itself. It would be my first trip to the East Coast and Boston. We were going to see where her little house was and her high school. We had bought our plane tickets and were both so excited to go when the leaves were changing. She was so proud to finally share with one of her kids her home town. We were going to stuff our backpacks with food and go on adventures back there for about a week. But my little 4-year-old had gotten sick and I had to cancel our very special trip. She was devastated, she must had known she didn’t have much longer to live but never shared that disappointment with me. She passed away a few months later.

When I was offered a contract with Crescent Moon Press it was around the same time as the NEC Conference in Salem, Massachusetts. Not only was this conference right after I was offered my first book deal but it was in Salem!!! I knew I had to go. I flew out to Boston by myself in May of 2011 on a trip that was supposed to be with my mom. This was our trip, our time and extremely bittersweet…I cried all the way there on the plane because beside me was her ashes. I wanted to bring her on the trip but I also wanted to bring her home. I spread her ashes in Salem Harbor and in the Atlantic Ocean. I went on to Gallows Hill and most places she and I had discussed and I knew she was with me, just not the way we had planned.

I did have a chance to go back again just this last October 2011 for Halloween! It was amazing. I did tons of research on Gallows Hill. Walked Abigail’s street on Belleview Dr and even visited her coffee shop and bookstore from the book. It’s all really there in Salem. And the crazy part is I wrote all of that before I had ever been there. I feel and so does my family and dear friends that as I wrote the book everything that was in it has happened and is real…even finding true love..

Care to share some interesting facts from your research?

I can say one fact that I have learned is that they have said that the exact location of the 1692 hangings is unknown on Gallows Hill. There is a lot of information out there and I have made a commitment to myself over the course of my journey with this series, to find or come close to that infamous oak tree…I know its wishful thinking but I will have many adventures trying to find it.

Do you have a favorite author you would like to emulate?  Or one that has influenced your writing?

Thats actually kind of funny because as a writer I am not exactly inspired by a specific author, I am inspired by history. 

So, what do you have planned for your big launch?  Where can readers find you next month and the weeks to come?

The big awaited launch??? I guess all over Northern California. I am going to RT in Chicago in April 2012 and I am very excited about that. I have many bookstores in Salem that want to do launches there and carry the books and a few things planned locally in Sacramento. I had Sacramento News and Review approach me a few weeks back about doing an article and interview. It will be out the first week in March so that is some great promo and I’m very humbled by the opportunity. I have a few other things up my sleeve over the next few months so I will keep you posted…I am just honored at this point to be able to breathe life into this story. It has so much meaning to me and my mom and I want to make her proud. Everything I do is in her light and its all dedicated to her. She was my everything.

Your social links:

http://thesummerlandnovel.blogspot.com

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I want to thank Elizabeth for sharing her story with us today. It  takes a lot of courage to be able to speak about something so painful, as the loss of her mother.  Her and her mother’s journey inspires me and I have no doubt that Elizabeth will be successful in her endeavors.  Her mom’s legacy will live on in her writing.

I can’t wait to read Abigail’s story.  March can’t get here quick enough.  The Summerland releases next month.  Look for it on Amazon, B&N, and Goodreads.

Also, I want to second Elizabeth’s acknowledgment of Judi McCoy.  She was a great mentor to those of us at Crescent Moon Press.  It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to Judi.  Crescent Moon Press & RT Book Reviews have posted a tribute to Judi’s long-standing career, not only as an author but an avid mentor and teacher.  May we all send our love and prayers to her and her family during this great time of loss.

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