Wednesday, September 30, 2015

#Excerpt from Minotaur by @phillipwsimpson #mythology @month9books @chapterxchapter #giveaway

Tour Date:
September 28-October 11, 2015

Link to Goodreads:

Purchase Links:
Amazon | B&N | BAM | Chapters | Indiebound | Kobo | TBD | Google Play

Link to Tour Schedule:


Minotaur by Phillip W. Simpson
Publication Date:  September 29, 2015
Publisher:  Month9books

“Where shall I start?” asked Minotaur.

Ovid made an expansive gesture with both hands. “Where else but the beginning of course.”

Minotaur nodded his huge head. “Yes,” he said. “Yes,” his eyes already glazing over with the weight of thousand year old memories. And then he began.

So begins the story of Asterion, later known as Minotaur, the supposed half bull creature of Greek legend. Recorded by the famous Roman poet, Ovid, Asterion tells of his boyhood in Crete under the cruel hand of his stepfather Minos, his adventures with his friend, Theseus, and his growing love for the beautiful Phaedra.And of course what really happened in the labyrinth.

This is the true story of the Minotaur.

I was bored, lonely, and cold, wallowing in my own guilt and sadness. I gathered the darkness to me and wrapped myself in it like a blanket. I tried to remember the light of the sun, the wind on my face, but the memories were fleeting. After a time, I gave up trying to chase them. It was like I had always been in this place.
I did try to mark the passage of time. At first, I did it as a matter of necessity, a way to keep me sane, my only connection to the world above. On a wall near the trapdoor, I used my horns to scrape marks, one for each day. I really didn’t know for sure. I suspect that I might’ve slept and missed a few but I did my best.
Later, it became a game. Something to do. I started to toy with the marks, embellishing and changing them. In my growing insanity, I thought that I was creating fabulous works of art. Much later, when I was able to examine them properly, I saw them for what they really were. Random marks and scratches. The work of a madman. Or a beast.
As a result, I really had no idea how long the first part of my imprisonment was. At the time, I believed it might have been weeks or months, even years.
I did other things to try and keep me sane and occupied. I exercised, wrestling imaginary opponents. I tried to climb the walls. Sometimes, in utter rage and despair, I attacked the limestone, knowing the feeling of wetness on my knuckles was blood but not caring.
I assumed that food and water came once a day, but perhaps it was every second, lowered down in a basket from above. There wasn’t much of it—sometimes a bit of broth or soup, occasionally a chunk of stale bread. The water tasted sour, but I always drank it.
I only caught glimpses of my guards. At first, I yelled at them, pleading, begging. Later, my pleas turned into rants. They threw rocks at me and I swiftly got the message.

It was at this time I discovered the second of my animal friends. I would’ve preferred the companionship of another dog like Kyon, but dogs were in short supply in the labyrinth. It was a rat.


Phillip W. Simpson is the author of many novels, chapter books and other stories for children. His publishers include Macmillan, Penguin, Pearson, Cengage, Raintree and Oxford University Press.
He received both his undergraduate degree in Ancient History and Archaeology and his Masters (Hons) degree in Archaeology from the University of Auckland.
Before embarking on his writing career, he joined the army as an officer cadet, owned a comic shop and worked in recruitment in both the UK and Australia.
His first young adult novel, Rapture (Rapture Trilogy #1), was shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards for best Youth novel in 2012.

He is represented by Vicki Marsdon at Wordlink literary agency.

When not writing, he works as a school teacher.
Phillip lives and writes in Auckland, New Zealand with his wife Rose, their son, Jack and their two border terriers, Whiskey and Raffles. He loves fishing, reading, movies, football (soccer) and single malt Whiskeys.

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway Information:  Contest ends October 23, 2015

·        Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of Minotaur by Phillip W. Simpson (INT)

Brought to you by:

Castle of Sighs by @JenniferMurgia @SpencerHillP #ya #paranormal

 photo NewWoW_zpsd30de423.jpg

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly awaiting!



Title: Castle of Sighs (Forest of Whispers #2)
Author: Jennifer Murgia
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Expected Publication Date: April 27, 2016

Some secrets cannot be kept—in life or in death. 
Months have passed since Rune has heard a single whisper from her long-dead mother, the great witch of Bavaria. But the absence of one evil has only made room for another. 
After rightfully inheriting her ancestral home, Pyrmont Castle, Rune settles into a quiet life taking care of two orphans left in the wake of the terrible witch hunt that claimed dozens of lives in the nearby village. As the days grow colder, the castle’s secrets beckon and Rune finds herself roaming where no one has set foot in a long time. In the bowels of the fortress is a locked room full of memories that hang like cobwebs—shelves stacked with jars, strange specimens, putrid liquids, and scrolls of spells. Rune is undeniably drawn to what she finds there, and she begins to dabble in the possibilities of magic, hoping to find a cure for the strangeness overwhelming the castle. 
As secrets unspool, the delicate thread of Rune’s world is threatened when she realizes the key may lie in the dark forest she once called home and the boy she thought she knew.

Barnes and Noble

12047339_10204925037027853_275710381_n.jpgJennifer Murgia writes moody fiction for teens—from paranormal fantasy (ANGEL STAR, LEMNISCATE, THE BLISS), to contemporary gut-punchers (BETWEEN THESE LINES). Her latest, FOREST OF WHISPERS, a 17th century historical mystery (about witches!) was a School Library Journal Fall 2014 HOT TITLE, and a 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Literature Award Winner. The sequel, CASTLE OF SIGHS, releases October 27, 2015 from Spencer Hill Press. She is the co-founder and coordinator of YA FEST and currently resides in Pennsylvania.

Literary Representation:
Amanda Luedeke of MacGregor Literary Agency ~

Connect with Jennifer:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Trailer and #giveaway for LINK by Summer Weir #ya #sci-fi #fantasy

Today we're celebrating the release of Link by Summer Weir. In a couple weeks, my turn on the blog tour will share my review. In the mean time, check out the book blurb and trailer, author info, and a giveaway!

About LINK:
For seventeen-year-old Kira, there’s no better way to celebrate a birthday than being surrounded by friends and huddled beside a campfire deep in the woods. And with a birthday in the peak of summer, that includes late night swims under the stars.

Or at least, it used to.

Kira’s relaxing contemplation of the universe is interrupted when a piece of it falls, colliding with her and starting a chain of events that could unexpectedly lead to the one thing in her life that's missing—her father.

Tossed into a pieced-together world of carnivals and gypsies, an old-fashioned farmhouse, and the alluring presence of a boy from another planet, Kira discovers she’s been transported to the center of a black hole, and there’s more to the story than science can explain. She’s now linked by starlight to the world inside the darkness. And her star is dying.

If she doesn’t return home before the star’s light disappears and her link breaks, she’ll be trapped forever. But she’s not the only one ensnared, and with time running out, she’ll have to find a way to save a part of her past and a part of her future, or risk losing everything she loves.

Dreamy, fluid, and beautiful, Link pairs the mystery of science fiction with the minor-key melody of a dark fantasy, creating a tale that is as human as it is out of this world. 
Available now from Amazon, and other retailers.

Enjoy the trailer:

About Summer Wier:
Summer Wier is an MBA toting accountant, undercover writer, and all around jack-of-all-trades.  Link is her debut novel and the first in The Shadow of Light series. She has three short stories appearing in Fairly Twisted Tales For A Horribly Ever After and co-authors the Splinter web serial. When she’s not digging through spreadsheets or playing mom, you can find her reading/writing, cooking, or dreaming of the mountains in Montana.

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Best in Blogs September 19-25 #amwriting #amreading

Here's some great blog posts from this past week.

Janice Hardy's awesome take on overused tropes
"My husband and I recently watched a movie that was doing everything right, but still fell flat, because it didn’t offer anything we hadn’t seen dozens of times before. "

Writers in the Storm
I ask this question all the time!
"We’ve all seen the examples: Wizard School, Dinosaur Park, Titanic. Don’t shudder everyone, high concept is back. Whether it was ever “out” is somewhat debatable. "

Marcy Kennedy
Very good list of dialogue problems, with clear examples
"Awkward or boring dialogue can make readers cringe and toss our books aside to find something better.
So today I’m sharing the top 10 dialogue mistakes that kill your story (in no particular order)..."
Janet Reid, Literary Agent
A post we all should save!
"1. Ask to see the boilerplate contract.

A. Lloyd Jassin has a list of things that should be in a contract. 
B. Morse, Barnes-Brown, Pendleton also has one"
Writers in the Storm
Write a whole book in a day? Join the fun!
"During our first event on April 20th, we wrote a whole book! The final word count for our first Write Up a Storm was 79,591 words."

Friday, September 25, 2015

Author spotlight - Vanessa Barger #mg SUPER FREAK #giveaway #M9BFridayReveals

Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!
This week, we are spotlighting
Vanessa Barger
author of
Super Freak
a Middle Grade title from Tantrum Books, coming October 2015!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

Twitter or Facebook?
Can I say both? I like Twitter for instant gratification, but I like Facebook for posting fun things too!
Favorite Superhero?
This is hard. I'm not a huge superhero person. But if I had to pick? Wonder Woman. I dressed up as Wonder Woman one year when I was little. Somewhere, I still have my golden lasso of truth!
Favorite TV show?
Okay, most TV shows I actually like get cancelled, but I have three. I love the first 3-4 seasons of Supernatural, I LOVE the Vicar of Dibley, and the Two Fat Ladies. If I'm having a stressful day, I pop the Two Fat Ladies in to relax. I'm weird, I know.
Sweet or Salty?
Sweet. But not too sweet. :)
Coke or Pepsi?
Root Beer (But def coke, Pepsi is ICK)
Any Phobias?
I don't care for spiders, and anything to do with Jack the Ripper seriously freaks me out. Like, I won't watch a TV show about it, read about it, or even read fiction about it!
Song you can’t get enough of right now?
There isn't just one, but let’s go with Fight Song by Rachel Platten. The others on my playlist are a lot more....weird? Lots of instrumental music, and oddball things.
Who is your ultimate Book Boyfriend?
Oh, man, just one?! That's not even fair.
What are you reading right now or what's on your TBR?
I have several books in the TBR pile, but the top three are Namesless by Lili St. Crow, The City of Ember, and Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff. Oh, and I'm dying to read The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
Fall Movie you’re most looking forward to?
Goosebumps! I can't wait to see that one. Jack Black as RL Stine? YES, please!
Vanessa Barger was born in West Virginia, and through several moves ended up spending the majority of her life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a graduate of George Mason University and Old Dominion University, and has degrees in Graphic Design, a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and a Masters in Technology Education. She has had articles published in Altered Arts Magazine, has had some artwork displayed in galleries in Ohio and online, and currently teaches engineering, practical physics, drafting and other technological things to high school students in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), the Virginia Writer’s Club, and the Hampton Roads Writers. When not writing or teaching, she’s a bookaholic, movie fanatic, and loves to travel. She is married to a fabulous man, and has one cat, who believes Vanessa lives only to open cat food cans, and can often be found baking when she should be editing.
Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest |YouTube
Thirteen-year-old Caroline is a freak. Her parents have uprooted her to a town full of Supernaturals. You’d think she’d be thrilled. But, with someone without a magical bone in her body, this daughter of tree sprites feels like even more of an outcast than she has ever before.
To make matters worse, her new home is cursed. But when Caroline takes to investigating the mysterious and strange happenings of Harridan House, her BFF goes missing. Seems someone doesn’t want Caroline sticking her non-magical nose where it most certainly does not belong. Determined to prove herself, Caroline uncovers a plot to destroy her new hometown.
Undeterred, Caroline can’t give up. But what’s a human without magical powers to do? Caroline better figure it out fast, before she loses everything she has ever loved and the whispers she’s heard all her life prove true: Caroline is a useless superfreak.
add to goodreads

Thursday, September 24, 2015

#T4G Scott Craven's Dead Jed series #giveaway #mg #adventure #paranormal

Welcome to this week’s Two for Thursday Book Blitz #T4T presented by Month9books/Tantrum Books!
Today, we will be showcasing two titles that may tickle your fancy, and we’ll share what readers have to say about these titles!
You just might find your next read!
This week, #T4T presents to you the:
Dead Jed series by Scott Craven!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
Dead Jed is Shaun of the Dead meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Jed's not your typical junior high geek. He is, to use the politically-correct term, cardiovascularly-challenged. And while his parents have attempted to shield him from the implications of being 'different' for as long as they could (Jed was 8 and at a friend's sister's birthday party when he blew his lips off onto the cake in front of everyone, finally prompting the “Big Talk” from his parents and an emergency SuperGlue repair by his dad), 7th grade at Pine Hollow Middle School as a target of Robbie the supreme school bully and his pack of moronic toadies is rapidly becoming unbearable.
From being stuffed in a filled trash can as “dead meat” and into a trophy case as the bully's “prize,” to literally having his hand pulled off in the boys' room (Jed's always losing body parts. Luckily, a good stapler and some duct tape and he's back in the action) and a cigarette put in it and try to frame him for the recent reports of smoking in the school, Jed's had enough and is ready to plan his revenge. Besides, it's awesome what you can do when you're already dead!
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DEAD JED is amazing. It takes true talent to write a book that's witty and has such clever humor. That's exactly what DEAD JED has.” – Courtney, Author
I’m entirely convinced this series is going to be as big and popular as the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, if not more. It might be aimed at middle grade readers, but I will highly and happily recommend it to readers aged 9 to 99!”Angie, Books4Tomorrow
“Middle Grade humor at its finest.” – S.A. Larsen, Author
The first part of seventh grade was rough on Jed, but things are looking up now that Christmas is almost here. As with past Christmases, Jed asks for the one thing he’s always wanted–a dog–and again, his parents tell him they’re not ready. But fate has a different plan when Jed sees a dog get run over by a car. Then, it happens. Jed suddenly has a pet, Tread, a zombie dog bearing his namesake–a tire tread down his back. Jed may have gained a dog, but he loses his best friend Luke, who fears the way Jed created his undead pet.
When Jed returns to school, he finds a mysterious group called the No Zombies Now Network spreading rumors of the dangers the undead pose to normal people. Forced to disprove Hollywood stereotypes, Jed has his work cut out for him as stories of a zombie dog begin to circulate. Jed could be expelled if he can’t expose the NZN Network as a fraud. Jed needs help from his kind of girlfriend Anna, especially after he discovers Luke has joined the shadowy group.
Once again navigating the treacherous waters of middle school, Jed does his best to stay in one piece. Only this time he’ll need even more duct tape and staples than usual.
add to goodreads
“Like its predecessor Dead Jed, Dead Jed 2: Dawn of the Jed is an incredibly cute and fun read!”Angie, Books4Tomorrow
“This is a fun story, which was written very well for the age group. I can imagine the series being a huge hit, especially with zombies being so popular at the moment.”Bri, Natural Bri - Pursuits of Life
“…just read it, you will love it and it sooooo funny” – Michelle, Because Reading
Proud graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, have one son who will turn 18 in March 2013, now a features writer for The Arizona Republic.
Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A milestone reached! #amreading #horses #endurance #weekendwarrior

This past weekend I completed a goal I'd set for me and my horse Ava at the beginning of the year - a 75 mile ride. She did three 50's in a row back in July, so I figured she was ready.

We had to work out some shoeing issues as her feet changed with different ground here in Oregon vs Colorado, So last week, one final test ride, 20 miles over fairly rocky ground over steep terrain, no problem.

This ride, the Oregon 100, is held near the town of Brothers Oregon - which none of you will have heard of! It's just a speck with a gas station for sale and a diner. This is the high-desert, no trees. Sage brush, rabbit brush - and very few rabbits since we're in a nasty drought.

The ride offered distances of 25, 50, 75, and 100 miles. I'd debated doing the 100, but my horse is close to finishing 10 rides in a row, which gets her an award, so while I wanted to push our boundaries, I didn't want to jump from 50 to 100 all at once.

But we still started at 6am with the 100 mile riders. And for those of you who live farther south - it's still dark at 6am around here! We would have 18 hours to complete, so done by midnight.  I was hoping to be done by 10pm, or just maybe, but 8pm and only ride for a few miles in the dark. (They do put glowsticks out for us to follow.)

I started riding with some very experienced riders. We trotted for 18 miles with only a couple short breaks for water troughs. Ava was drinking well and very happy to be going fast. The miles flew by. At 18 miles, we saw a vet to make sure our horses were still moving well, with an optional time to let them rest and eat. I let the other riders go ahead because I didn't want Ava to go fast only because the others were. But she didn't want to eat or drink after being left, so we took off on our own.

Before long we caught up with a couple 100-mile riders and rode with them for the 17 mile trip back to camp. There we had a 45 minute hold after another vet check. I stayed for about an hour to let her eat more, then took off alone again. Ava was very willing, but then we took a direction she didn't want to go and slowed down. A friend riding the 50 caught up to us, so we rode with her for the rest of that 15 mile loop.

Again, another 45 minute hold, but I stayed about an hour and a half. I later learn a couple of the original riders I'd started with stayed for 3 hours at one of their holds, just to make sure their horses were doing good. So we started out alone again and moved slower, but steady for about 7 miles. Then another 100 miler caught up to us and we rode with her for the remainder of the 14 mile loop.

Back in camp, we had a 30 minute hold, but I stayed an hour or so and figured out that we were in a window and wouldn't see another rider on the remaining 11 mile loop. I knew my horse wasn't tired, but she wasn't as motivated to go out alone and I was getting a bit sore. But we'd made such good time earlier in the day, we still had a chance to beat the sun.

I ended up getting off and walking for about 3 miles - my horse walks so slow, it's easier to walk myself! But the we turned toward camp at the halfway point, down a shaded ravine and Ava took off. She was ready to get home now! So she finished most of the last half of that loop trotting as fast as she'd started the ride 13 hours earlier.

We trotted into camp to cheers from friends, my husband, and the vets. My husband had started the 50 mile but his horse was acting a little funny (we think from eating waaaay too much the night before) so he pulled him and crewed for me the rest of the day. The sun had just set, but it wasn't dark, so I didn't get to see a single glowstick!

I was very impressed with my little horse. She wasn't tired, ate and drank well all day, didn't have a sore back or legs, and the next morning, she was trotting circles around me. I, on the other hand, wasn't trotting anywhere! I actually wasn't as sore as I thought I'd be, mostly only because I'd done the first 35 miles with my stirrups too far forward. I didn't get any more sore after I moved them back, so lesson learned - pay attention to yourself, not just the horse!

It was a fabulous ride, one I look forward to doing again next year. This time with my husband and on the 100 mile ride. I guess I'll end up in the dark for sure on that one!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Adam Gaylord's Sol of the Coliseum #fantasy #adventure

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Adam Gaylord's New Novel ~

Sol of the Coliseum

Follow Along to read an Excerpt and click on the buy links.

Survival is an act of defiance.

About Sol of the Coliseum:

Deep in the bowels of the Coliseum of the mighty Astrolian Empire, the orphan, Sol, is raised by a makeshift family of guards and fellow slaves to become the most famed Gladiator in all the land. Alongside K'nal, his giant Frorian fighting partner, Sol must battle cunning warriors and fantastic beasts to delight the crowd and stay alive. But when an oppressed populace transforms Sol into a revolutionary folk hero, the Empire sends its most ruthless assassin to put an end to the uprising. Sol’s only chance is to do what no slave has ever done: escape from the Coliseum and the only home he’s ever known.

Follow the Blog Tour:

Title: Sol of the Coliseum
Author Name:  Adam Gaylord
Genre(s): Epic Fantasy, Adventure
Tags: Fantasy, Adventure, Epic, Coliseum, Gladiator

Length: Approx. 259 pages
e-Book:  978-1-987976-10-6 
Paperback:  978-1-987976-09-0
Release Date: September 17, 2015
Publisher: Mirror World Publishing (

Read an Excerpt:

A baby’s cry.

Grall was sure that was what he’d heard. In the depths of the Coliseum a person became accustomed to various cries of pain or despair. Prisoners, men broken physically or mentally, called out in the night. Spoils, the women given to victorious fighters to do with whatever they saw fit, cried out often. The beasts, crazed by captivity and seclusion, howled and cackled. Even Grall, though the proud young guard would never admit it, sometimes fought back tears that came in the dark. Over time, one could learn to block out the sound completely.

But the cry of a child, an infant, a sound that had no place in this world, could not be ignored.

Grall made his way slowly down the roughly-carved stone hall, unenthusiastic in his search for the sound’s origin. He knew what was expected of him when he found the child. His stomach clenched at the thought.

“I don’t need this,” he thought aloud, his voice barely a whisper. “I should be in bed.” In truth, only minutes before he had lain wide awake, willing dawn to come and give him a reason to abandon his tossing and turning. With the day came his duties; blessed menial tasks he could lose himself in, briefly forgetting his loss.

Grall had come to the Coliseum only a few months before. He had been a guard in the city of Astrolia, capital of the Astrolian Empire, until he refused to participate in a drill using live captives. His protests changed nothing. The captives had died regardless and he had yet again angered his captain, the man that controlled his fate. As punishment he had been transferred to the Coliseum, a post feared by guard and soldier alike. Far more than the danger and brutality, what inspired dread for the post was that for all intents and purposes the Coliseum was a closed system. Be you slave or guard, once you entered it you probably didn’t leave. He had begged his captain, promising him utter obedience. But for the Captain, Grall had made it personal. It mattered not at all that Grall’s young wife had just given birth to their first son. Neither did it matter that he would probably never see either of them again. Even if he managed to be one of the few to live long enough to see retirement, his son would be grown with children of his own.

He had been all for packing their meager belongings and making a run for it, but his wife’s cooler head had prevailed, as always. They lived in the middle of the Astrolian Empire, two week’s hard ride in any direction from free lands if they had a mount, which they didn’t. She was still weak and sore, not yet recovered from a difficult childbirth. Most importantly, they had a brand new baby. In the best of times the road was no place to raise a child, and they would be in hiding.

“No,” she had answered stoically through her tears, “you will go to the Coliseum. You will send us your pay. I will raise our son.”

He protested and argued to the point of exhaustion, vainly fighting the logic in her words. Eventually he conceded, packing his bag and leaving his family, barely started, standing at their doorstep.

He still grieved for the son he would never know.

And now there was this.

“I don’t need this,” he repeated to himself, stopping outside the door to the women’s barracks.

They had promised to take care of it.

He knew the mother. She was a slave in the luxury boxes. As sometimes happens, one of her wealthy male patrons had an eye for her and he raped her after she refused his advances. She’d hid the pregnancy well at first but eventually her condition became all too obvious. Grall had been sent to deal with it. The women of the barracks had assured him that though uncommon, such things were not unheard of. The baby would be disposed of in a quiet manner. He had relented.

An infant howling down the halls was not a quiet manner.

Grall took a deep breath and opened the door. His broad frame and barrel-chest filled the doorway while he let his eyes adjust to the dimly-lit barracks. Women were sitting awake in their bunks, eyeing him with considerable disdain. He made his way down the candlelit center aisle toward the source of the disturbance, avoiding the hostile glares and trying to keep his face passive. He didn’t want to be here any more than they wanted him here. The object of his quest lay wrapped in a blanket and was held by a rather large cook. He saw the mother lying in a bed off to the side, unmoving. The sheets were soaked with blood but it was her face that drew his gaze. She had obviously been beaten, badly.

“She panicked,” the cook said flatly to answer his unasked question. “She confronted the father. He did that and she gave the last of her strength giving birth to this boy. We’ve named him Sol.”

A heavy silence settled over the room; the baby was finally quiet, as if showing respect to his deceased mother. Grall’s gaze lingered on the dead slave, her many bruises contrasting with her pale skin and long blonde hair. In life she had been beautiful, a curse for a woman in the Coliseum. In the peace of death she still held her beauty, despite the violence she had encountered.

“And now you’re here,” the cook broke the silence accusingly.

“I’m sorry. Melina was well liked,” he said, attempting civility.

The cook nodded. “She never let this place get to her.”

He nodded, recognizing the compliment. There was a long pause.

“You can’t keep it,” he said plainly, surprised at the feeling he was able to keep out of his voice. Several hisses sounded behind him. The cook neither responded nor moved. She just sat holding the child.

“You know the rules as well as I.” He could feel the animosity radiating onto his back from the bunks.

“What life could he hope to have here?” he asked, almost pleading, bristling at the tone of his own voice. He was a guard of the Coliseum; he didn’t need to explain himself. Who were these women and this cook who sat unmoving? Had they taken care of things as they promised, he wouldn’t have to be down here at all.

He straightened up. “I’ll deal with it,” he said firmly. Moving the last few paces toward the cook, he felt the women stir behind him. The cook made to strike him and several cries of protest sounded as he reached for the baby. But something unexpected happened, something amazing. As Grall reached for the bundle, his hand was met by the child’s. Without fear and with a strong little grip, the baby grabbed one of Grall's fingers and held. He froze, as did the women.

Had it been any other guard, hard and embittered with years of service, nothing would have changed, but for Grall that tiny hand struck with the force of a blow. He shuddered visibly, staring wide-eyed at the child. All was still. Grall knew his duty, what was expected of him. The problem with duty was that it belonged in the Coliseum and he was no longer in the Coliseum. Looking at this tiny baby, feeling it holding his hand, the guard was home.

The little hand holding his finger melted Grall's resolve. The women saw it immediately and smiles passed around the bunks. Grall didn’t see them, he only saw the child. He sighed and then without a word he slowly straightened, turned, and walked back the way he had come.

From that moment on, Sol was a child of the Coliseum.

Purchase Links:


Mirror World Publishing

Meet the Author:

Adam Gaylord lives with his beautiful wife, daughter, and less beautiful dog in Loveland, CO. When not at work as a biologist he’s usually hiking, drinking craft beer, drawing comics, writing short stories, or some combination thereof. He’s had stories published in Penumbra eMag, Dark Futures Magazine, Silver Blade Magazine, and Plasma Frequency Magazine, among others.

Monday, September 21, 2015

#Interview Em & Em by Linda Budzinski #ya #giveaway @chapterxchapter @LindaBudz @swoonromance


Em and Em   by Linda Budzinski
Publication Date:  Sept 15, 2015
Publisher:  Swoon Romance
Genre:  YA, Contemporary

The last thing sixteen-year-old Emily Slovkowski wants is to move away from her home at the Jersey shore, gorgeous surfer boyfriend Zach, and her entire identity. But that’s kind of how Witness Protection works, and Em must prepare herself for an epic do-over as she starts a new life in the Midwest.

Even as she pines for sandy beaches and the night life of the shore, the newly-named Ember O’Malley finds herself making new friends, taking photos for the high school newspaper, and thinking an awful lot about the paper’s editor, an oddly cute cowboy named Charles.

When Em stumbles upon a shady beneath-the-bleachers exchange between one of the school’s football coaches and a student, she refuses to get involved. The last thing she needs is to be witness to another crime or call attention to herself. Besides, she finally has some real friends – well, real except for the fact that they don’t know a single thing about her – and she prefers to keep it that way until the trial.

But as her day in court approaches, Em begins piecing together what she saw that day beneath the bleachers. And, as her own past secrets start to catch up with her, Em needs to figure out who she really is – Em or Em.

Tour Date:
September 14-25, 2015

Link to the Tour Schedule:

Link to Goodreads:

Purchase Links:
BAM | Chapters | Amazon | B&N | TBD |

My interview 
1. Where/how did you come up with the idea for EM & EM? Did it suddenly pop into your head or were you brainstorming?
I was brainstorming for ideas. My first novel, THE FUNERAL SINGER, is about a girl who becomes famous quite accidentally and how that changes her identity and the way the rest of the world looks at her. The concept of identity—how we view ourselves, how others view us, and how some people can actually reinvent themselves—really interests me. When the concept of Witness Protection came up for this novel, I knew I wanted to go with it. What better way to explore the core elements of what really makes us who we are?

2. Did you start with the main character, the world or the overarching concept? 
I started with the concept of Witness Protection, and that drove the other two. Who would be a likely character to be placed into Witness Protection? Someone kind and courageous, but not entirely innocent. What type of world would give the story the most tension? Transplanting her from one setting (the Jersey Shore) to a very different setting (the Midwest).

3. Pantser or Plotter? Or in between?
I’m somewhere in between. I used to be much more of a pantser but am trying to become more of a plotter. The more I know where I’m going, the easier the writing becomes.

4. Are you a fan of writing contests?
Contests … yay! I’m a huge fan. See my response to question #5!

5. How did you find your agent? How many query letters did you send?
This is a funny story, and one I’ve never told publicly. My agent actually doesn’t even know the first part … she’ll probably be surprised when she reads this!

When I decided to send THE FUNERAL SINGER out, one of the first agents I targeted was Andrea Somberg at Harvey Klinger. I really liked everything I’d read online about her and her approach to agenting, and she represented some authors whose books I loved. I sent her a query and the first five pages … and received a very professional form rejection. I was disappointed, of course, but rejection is part of the business. This was one of maybe 20 I would eventually receive. I moved on.

A few months later, I entered the manuscript in an online contest called PitchWars. It made it to the agent round. One of the agents involved was Andrea. I of course wrote her off. That was one request I knew for certain I wouldn’t get. Except … I did. She requested a full. I figured once she started reading it, she would remember and toss it, but that didn’t happen.

Andrea read the whole thing. And then sent me the world’s nicest rejection. (Yes, if you’re counting, this makes two times that she rejected the manuscript.) She said that while she loved it, she had recently signed another project that was too similar and she felt it would be a conflict of interest to go out to publishers with both manuscripts at the same time. She was extremely encouraging and invited me to send future work and even offered to help me brainstorm for ideas if I wanted.

That type of rejection gives you so much hope, but it’s also heartbreaking because (a) you know you were so close and (b) you know the sweetest, most amazing agent in all of agentdom just turned your manuscript down.

Fast forward again a few months, and I saw a Tweet that Swoon Romance was accepting unagented manuscripts for a certain window of time. I sent mine in, and was thrilled (and slightly terrified) to receive an offer. I knew I wanted an agent to help with the contract, so I gathered up the nerve to contact Andrea again and ask her if she remembered me and if she still had any interest at all in working with me and if she might be willing to represent me on the contract now that there would be no conflict of interest. As they say, the third time was a charm!

6. What's the best marketing tool you've found so far?
My day job is in marketing, and by far the best (and easiest) way to be successful at marketing is to have a product people want to buy! I do try to get the word out about my books on social media, through press releases, etc., but I am learning that working on my craft so I can write stories people want to read is top priority. Also, being nice helps … karma is a thing.

7. What do you like best about your mc?
There’s a lot I like about Emily/Ember, but I think my personal favorite thing is how she relates to her little sister. I just love their dynamic. I have two sisters and a brother, and siblings are the best!

8. What do you like best about your main antagonist?
There are actually three antagonists in this novel: 1) Jimmy D’Angelo. I can’t think of a single thing I like about him (sorry). 2) Marissa Martin. She’s Ember’s rival on the school newspaper photography staff, and she’s really, really good at what she does. She seems shallow, but you know there has to be more to her since she’s able to take such insightful photos. 3) Tommy Walker. I actually love everything about Tommy … he’s a creepy, scheming, weasely guy—the kind we love to hate.

9. Anything else you’d like to share about your journey or your upcoming launch, including links to giveaways or ways people can help spread the word?
I am just so thankful to you for hosting me today and to everyone who has participated in my EM & EM release tour. The reading and writing community is filled with so many kind, caring people who are willing to help others succeed and then cheer for them when they do. It’s amazing to me. I know there are some giveaways coming up. The best way for your readers to find out about those as they happen would be to follow me on Facebook ( and/or on Twitter, where I’m @LindaBudz. Thank you!

Giveaway Information:  Contest ends October 2, 2015

·         One (1) winner will receive a digital copy of Em and Em by Linda Budzkinski and a $10 Amazon GC (INT)


Linda Acorn Budzinski decided in the second grade that she wanted to be a “Paperback Writer,” just like in the Beatles song. She majored in journalism in college and now works in marketing and communications. She spent 18 years at a trade association in the funeral service industry, where she discovered that funeral directors are some of the bravest and most compassionate people on earth. Linda lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, Joe, and their chihuahua, Demitria. She has two step-daughters, Eris and Sarah. THE FUNERAL SINGER is her debut novel. She is represented by Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger Inc.

THE FUNERAL SINGER is Linda Budzinski's first novel.

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Best in Blogs September 12-18 #amwriting #amreading

Writer Unboxed
Some lovely writing analogies that make great sense
"When Isaac Newton first came up with the theory of gravity, he presented what seemed like a simple problem.  If you have three bodies orbiting around each another, how do you come up with an equation that describes how they move?  Two hundred years or so later, mathematicians came up with the answer – you can’t."

YA Outside the Lines
Do we all do this?
"Do you guys do that thing where you avoid criticism by using weird mental tricks?

Yesterday I went to a hot yoga class, which was my first real exercise in over a year. I used to be a regular, but a couple of serious injuries kept me on the bench until April. "

Writers in the Storm
Great way to deepen your own character development
"In Back to the Future, Marty McFly’s mother’s kid brother asks “What’s a re-run?”
Marty replies, “You’ll find out.”"
Writer Unboxed
Featuring Flog a Pro - what's your vote?
"Trained by reading hundreds of submissions, editors and agents often make their read/not-read decision on the first page...

The challenge: would you pay good money for the rest of the chapter?"

Janet Reid, Agent
This one's hillarious!
"I spied "that guy" at the end of the line. After years in the publicity trenches, I can recognize him a mile away."

Friday, September 18, 2015

#M9BFridayReveals First chapter of Super Freak by Vanessa Barger #mg #giveaway

M9B-Friday-Reveal Banner
Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!
This week, we are revealing CHAPTER ONE of
Super Freak by Vanessa Barger
an MG title presented by Tantrum Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
Super Freak
Thirteen-year-old Caroline is a freak. Her parents have uprooted her to a town full of Supernaturals. You'd think she'd be thrilled. But, with someone without a magical bone in her body, this daughter of tree sprites feels like even more of an outcast than she has ever before.
To make matters worse, her new home is cursed. But when Caroline takes to investigating the mysterious and strange happenings of Harridan House, her BFF goes missing. Seems someone doesn't want Caroline sticking her non-magical nose where it most certainly does not belong. Determined to prove herself, Caroline uncovers a plot to destroy her new hometown.
Undeterred, Caroline can't give up. But what's a human without magical powers to do? Caroline better figure it out fast, before she loses everything she has ever loved and the whispers she's heard all her life prove true: Caroline is a useless superfreak.
add to goodreads
Super Freak by Vanessa Barger Publication Date: October 13, 2015 Publisher: Tantrum Books Genre: MG, Fantasy
Chapter One Twenty-five feet into town. That’s as far as we got before the first disaster happened. Dad turned onto Main Street, and just as we pulled up next to Greywolfe’s Spells and Supplies, a huge puff of smoke and flame burst from the front doors. Shattered glass and a large, hairy man shot into the path of our over-packed SUV. Dad slammed his foot down on the brakes and jerked the wheel to the left, throwing us around the inside of the car. In the back, I covered my head, expecting the piles of wedged boxes to topple over, burying me in an avalanche of dishes and teddy bears. “Caroline! Are you all right?” Mom reached into the back seat, her horn-rimmed glasses dangling from one ear. “I’m good. Did we hit him?” I craned my neck, looking to see out the front window. Dad unbuckled and leapt from the car to help the man who had flown in the road to his feet. “I think he’s fine. You’d think he’d at least have the decency to let out a warning before coming out like that. He could have been killed! We could have been hurt! Dishes might have fallen on you and broken!” I rolled my eyes. The dishes would be a high priority. Mom shook her head, letting loose a shower of tiny green leaves. It always happened when she was stressed. Dryads weren’t really known for their calm temperaments. You’d think, being tree spirits, they’d have that stoic thing going for them. Maybe it was because Mom was a weeping willow, but calm wasn’t really part of her vocabulary. Dad on the other hand, was solid as an oak. Because he was an oak. After unhooking my seatbelt, I slid from the car. Mom followed suit. Her lips compressed into a tight line and she shed another couple handfuls of leaves, but for the moment, she contained herself. Dad stood, tall and wiry, one arm hooked around a large, barrel-chested man with more facial hair than I’d seen in my life. Had to be a werewolf. He pulled away from my dad and brushed at the gravel and purple residue covering his gray suit. “Thank you, Mr. …” The stranger held out one hand to my dad. “George Bennings,” Dad said, shaking the stranger’s hand. “And this is my wife, Grace, and our daughter, Caroline. We just moved here from Lost Creek.” “My name is William Grouseman. I’m thrilled you’ve come to town, but glad you didn’t pull in a few moments sooner.” I wanted to warn him that sarcasm was lost on my parents, but he seemed to get the message when they didn’t share in his chuckle. They exchanged a confused glance and smiled blankly at him. He offered his hand to me and I shook it. “Nice to meet you, sir.” He frowned, looking between my parents and then back at me. Mom’s arm curved around my shoulder, nudging me forward. She sniffed. “She’s just a late bloomer. We’ve got great hopes for her future.” I sighed. She meant well, but it never failed. Supernatural people could sense the paranormal on each other. But when they got to me there was nothing. A void. A great, empty space where everyone expected some sort of natural magic. The supernatural had been the normal since 1978 when an explorer by the name of Albert Merriweather stumbled into a cave in Greece and found Pandora’s Box, and then opened it. Apparently the myths about the box were off a little. Instead of holding all the evils of the world, it held all the magic that had been pulled out of it. Releasing magic out into the world, well, now every person was a little bit paranormal. It didn’t mean everyone could cast a spell or levitate. But everyone had something. Kids were tested in elementary school. The ones with lots of magic were usually the popular crowd. The rest of the population lived with it, picking up what they could, where they could. You could ask to be retested anytime. Sometimes people really did make progress. Except me. I hadn’t just tested low, I’d flunked. So badly they brought in national analysts to make sure there wasn’t someone tampering with the tests. It was a relief really. I mean, my parents were powerful. Who wants to try and beat that? My lack of powers drove my parents batty. Most people figured I was adopted. Two dryads–tree spirits who could change shape, manipulate the natural world, and talk to trees–produced a normal child? Impossible. My parents were convinced I would show signs as I matured. I didn’t have the heart to tell them differently, but I really didn’t think it would ever happen. And that was fine by me. Magic was great–when it worked. Maybe when I turned forty my parents would figure it out. Until then, I’d smile and nod when they gave me their speech about reaching my potential and discovering hidden talents. I met Mr. Grouseman’s chocolate eyes and gave him a weak smile before he turned to my parents. “Ah, well, it happens sometimes. If anyone can draw out her gift, it’s our teaching staff at the school. I’m the principal at Stein Middle School.” His eyes moved from them to me. I wished I were small and hidden under a rock. “You look like you’re about middle-school age. What grade will you be in?” I swallowed. This was not how I planned to meet the school principal. “I’m supposed to start eighth this year.” “I thought so. You’ll love the school. Excellent courses and teachers, and the students are some of the best.” Just like every other school I’d been to. They always said that. It must be in a rulebook principals get when they start their jobs. Luckily, that was the end of his conversation with me. He told my parents where the school was, and what the summer office hours were, then waved at us as he headed back into the shop. Mom raised a tentative finger and cleared her throat. “Are you certain it’s safe to go back in?” Mr. Grouseman loosed a deep peal of laughter. “Of course! My nephew runs the store. What you saw was an accident when a new display tipped over. Have a great day!” I didn’t buy his story, and I didn’t think Mom and Dad did either. But clearly he wasn’t going to share family quarrels with the new people in town. With a shrug, I climbed back into the car, put my cryptogram book away, and watched the town unfold outside my windows. The buildings wound around a central park with huge old-growth trees and the county buildings were the same as they’d been when the town was founded in the seventeenth century. My Dad gave me tidbits about the history of Hecate Bay for the last two weeks, trying to pump up my anticipation. History was one passion Dad and I shared. Spell suppliers, voodoo parlors, psychic readers, and magical bookstores rubbed elbows with Food Lion, florists, and churches. The human and the paranormal had merged and become just like the country–an inseparable mix. We headed for our new house. As we turned away from town, the library caught my attention. A huge stone building that, based on the size, I knew held thousands of books. I started to drool at the prospect. As I watched the people wandering down the street, and we passed another spell shop and magical supply store, my excitement began to fade. I thought about what I’d seen so far, the encounter with my new principal, and the new school year approaching, and my stomach churned with dread. I knew that no matter what, Hecate Bay wasn’t the restful small town my parents told me about. I’d hoped for one of those rare towns populated with only a few magical creatures and big magical talents. This place, well, I could practically taste the magic in the air. I was doomed.

Vanessa Barger was born in West Virginia, and through several moves ended up spending the majority of her life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a graduate of George Mason University and Old Dominion University, and has degrees in Graphic Design, a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and a Masters in Technology Education. She has had articles published in Altered Arts Magazine, has had some artwork displayed in galleries in Ohio and online, and currently teaches engineering, practical physics, drafting and other technological things to high school students in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), the Virginia Writer's Club, and the Hampton Roads Writers. When not writing or teaching, she’s a bookaholic, movie fanatic, and loves to travel. She is married to a fabulous man, and has one cat, who believes Vanessa lives only to open cat food cans, and can often be found baking when she should be editing.
Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | YouTube
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