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If Landry can do it, maybe I can too

best friends forever coverIn Best Friends Forever, Landry’s about to enter into grade 9. She’s an aspiring model, has a few good friends, and a boy is interested in her. So why is life so tough? No matter what she may have going for her, Landry must deal with the same petty jealousy, new school anxiety, and boy problems any other teenage girl faces. It’s not until she is reinstated as a contestant in the modeling competition that she meets someone, an older contestant, that helps her put her life into perspective. Will Landry reunite with her estranged friends? Will she ever work it out with Vladi, her on-again-off-again “boyfriend”? How will she fare in the competition?

I read a lot of YA fiction, most of it rife with abuses I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies. It was refreshing to read a novel dealing with the trials and tribulations of an ordinary, everyday teen. Rather than grapple with questions of life or death, the author, Krysten Lindsay Hager, hands the grappling over to the reader. Landry has everything going for her and she is still dealing with the same trivial issues blown to mammoth proportions. If Landry is experiencing the same thing as the reader and still manages to come out on top, maybe the reader can, too.

Best Friends Forever is a charming peek into the life of a normal teen. Rather than depict an ordinary teen in extraordinary circumstances so she can emerge extraordinary in the end, Hager’s book shows an ordinary teen in ordinary circumstances who emerges extraordinary, nevertheless. Though Landry possesses beauty, emerging fame, and popularity—all the makings of a “mean girl”—she faces every challenge she meets with aplomb, never giving up on wanting to do what’s right for everyone around her.

Landry is the perfect protagonist around which to base a series. I wish Hager all the best with this series, and hope to check in with Landry later on, to see how she fares in high school.

Mamabear gives this book:

Note: I was gifted an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Excerpt from “Breathe” by Christine Grey

Breathe-Final Cover (1)

About Breathe by Christine Grey (from Amazon.com):

Dearra comes into possession of the magical Sword of Cyrus just as the evil Breken attack her island home. Though her people succeed in driving their enemy back to the sea, one of the invaders remains behind, left for dead by his cruel kin. Now, Dearra doesn’t know what to be more surprised by, the fact that her sword can speak to her, or that it has imperiously informed her that the handsome Breken warrior is her destiny. The two are bound together by a chain of events that was set into motion a thousand years earlier, and everything they thought they knew about themselves, their history, and their future is about to change.

Buy Breathe on Amazon.

Excerpt from Breathe

Dearra bolted upright at the voice that seemed to come from all around her and inside her head at the same time.

“Who is it? Who’s there?” She meant to speak with authoritative calm, but the words came out in a pitiful squeak.

You really aren’t very bright, are you? came the response, the voice flowing around her and through her.

She leapt from the bed, dropped to the floor, and looked beneath it.

Not even warm, taunted the voice.

Dearra sprang to the window and tore aside the heavy drapery…nothing.

It will come to you. I know you can do this. Connect the dots, girl.

Dearra’s gaze drifted back to her bed and the sword that waited for her on top of the soft coverlet. But it couldn’t be, could it? It was impossible, wasn’t it? Dearra took a small, tentative step back toward the sword. What else could it be? She took another step.

Ah, success! There may be hope for you after all, girl.

Coming to a stop at the bedside, Dearra let her weak knees have their way, and she sank to the floor in shock.

“How are you…? I mean…what are you…? I mean…Wow! You can talk!” The words tumbled from her in a confused jumble.

Yes, yes, very good, girl. You’ve not only managed to grasp the obvious, but you almost succeeded in completing a coherent sentence. Very, very impressive. I can see we’re going to get on famously.

It was impressive, when you considered it, Dearra thought, that without facial expression to assist, one could convey that level of sarcasm.

Thank you; I try.

“Have you always been able to talk?”

Certainly. I am incredibly intelligent, even for my kind.

Your kind? Are there other swords like you?”

Of course not; I am quite unique. And as to ‘my kind’, well, that is a story for another day, if I decide I can tolerate you well enough to share that kind of personal information with you.

Dearra sniffed lightly. “Not too full of yourself, are you?”

The sword paused, as if considering the question seriously before responding. No, I should think I am full of myself just the right amount.

Dearra wrapped her arms around herself as a fit of giggles shook her from head to toe. She slowly regained control, as the events of only an hour ago came flooding back, and a frown creased her brow.

The deep sadness was about to take hold again when the sword spoke brusquely. Now, now, none of that. We have much to discuss and much to do, and curling yourself back into a useless ball on the bed won’t get us anywhere. Unless, of course, you wish to reconsider the whole notion of death by cliff. That would certainly save me a fair bit of trouble.

Dearra scowled at the sword and snapped, “No, I have myself quite under control now, thank you.”

Good. Now, what else would you like to know before we save Darius?

“Well, I guess I would like to know…Wait—who’s Darius?”

Excellent, girl! You grasped that one much more quickly. You’re improving.

Exasperation dripping from Dearra’s tongue as she fought to control her simmering temper, she said, “Could you please just answer the question?”

Darius is the Breken warrior I saved from you earlier today. The one that little man so thoughtlessly clubbed on the head.

Dearra was stunned. “Wait! He lives?” she said.

Wouldn’t make much sense to save him if he were already dead, would it?

Dearra was overwhelmed. The image of the handsome Breken warrior shimmered in her mind. Questions came in a steady stream and her pulse quickened. How had he managed to survive such a vicious blow to the head? How did the sword know he was alive, and why was it so important she save him?

Are you quite finished?

It was amazing how quickly Dearra had gotten used to someone responding to the thoughts she hadn’t spoken out loud. Strangely, it felt like remembering a skill she had been born with and forgotten from lack of use.

Firstly, I have no idea. The Breken have hard heads, what can I say? Secondly, I know a lot of things you don’t and do not feel the need to share the whys and hows of it with you, and lastly, because we need him to get back that little brother of yours so you won’t spend the rest of your life in a useless catatonic state. Oh, and he’s your destiny, which I suppose you may find an interesting piece of trivia, though hardly useful.

Dearra nearly choked. “My what?”

He’s not going to be your anything if we don’t get moving. They’re about to find him. You may want to hurry things along a bit, girl.

Scooping the sword from the bed, Dearra raced from her room and down the winding staircase, past the shocked faces of Daniel and Hugh, and out into the courtyard.

Not knowing what else to do, the men followed behind her. The look they shared clearly conveyed their fear that Dearra had lost her mind, perhaps as a side effect to the terrible loss of Pip. They were not really trying to catch her, just follow her to make sure she wouldn’t hurt herself in her mad dash to Cyrus only new where.

Coming to a skidding halt at the gate, she asked out loud, “Where now? I can’t remember where I was.”

Take the path east out of the castle, cross the stream, and you should hear them. Hurry, girl!

As she sprinted over the bridge, familiar voices came to her. The hatred and anger in their tone made her feet slow to a gentle trot so she could make out what they were saying more clearly.

“Run him through!”

“He’s half dead already.”

“Evil spawn doesn’t deserve to live.”

Dearra felt shock cross her features as she came around the small clump of bushes that had hidden the scene from view. This was not the behavior she expected from the people of Maj. Certainly, they had a right to be angry; their home had been invaded, their lives put in jeopardy, friends and family injured, and dear Pip had been taken from them. This last thought sent a shiver through her. But to speak with such bitter hatred and eager anticipation of the death of another, even a Breken, made Dearra’s blood run cold. Then she saw him and it all clicked together.

Jacob stood back and a little away from the others, but there was no doubt in her mind as to who had stirred the people into this angry mob. Jacob was not born to the isle but had joined them three seasons ago. He seemed a quiet and unassuming addition to their group, but wherever trouble was, so too would be Jacob, usually whispering in someone’s ear. Her father tolerated Jacob, hoping that, eventually, the people of Maj would rub off on him, making him into a useful and productive part of the community. Dearra had her doubts as to their potential for success, but it seemed important to her father so she held her tongue.

Sitting part way up, his back propped against a large stone, Darius held his sword out in front of him. It was a futile gesture; his arm shook so badly from the effort it took simply to hold the sword, there would be no force behind any swing he could manage. His black hair was matted from the head wound he had received from Daniel, and the blood that had run so freely had dried to form a gruesome mask covering the left side of his face. Dearra’s eyes met his for just a moment, but it was long enough to see recognition flitter across his features.

“What’s going on here?” she said evenly, meeting each pair of eyes that looked to her own.

Hugh and Daniel walked around the same cluster of bushes Dearra had passed and moved to stand behind her.

“I said, what’s going on here?” her tone became sharper.

Several of the people dropped their heads. Shame washed over them as they realized what they had been about to do.

Jacob stepped forward, and with no hint of remorse in his voice as he addressed Dearra, said, “We were about to exterminate a pest, Dearra. You’ve been through enough today. Return to the castle, and let us deal with this unpleasant business.”

“No,” she stated simply.

Oh, that’s wonderful, girl. I am sure everything will be fine now.

“You be quiet,” she mumbled. “I can handle this.”

Concerned glances flitted about the assembled group at what appeared to be Dearra speaking to herself. But one set of eyes widened almost imperceptibly as Darius, from his prone position, looked first at Dearra and then to the sword she held.

“I don’t understand, Dearra,” Jacob said, speaking as if to a half-wit. “No? You wish to kill him yourself, then?”

“There has been enough pain today, Jacob. Are you so eager to bloody your hands against this defenseless man? Besides, he may prove useful in restoring my brother to us.”

Very nice, what an excellent notion, girl. Did you think of that all by yourself?

I’m trying to diffuse the situation, Dearra thought. Be still, and let me try to fix this. That is what you wanted isn’t it?

Humph, came the reply.

“Be reasonable, Dearra,” Jacob whined like a child who was not getting his way. “He’s dangerous. Let us put an end to him quickly. It will be more merciful than his kind would be for any of us.”

Hugh stepped forward and put his hand upon Dearra’s shoulder, silencing the sharp retort he knew was coming. “Dearra speaks wisely. This Breken may indeed prove useful in returning Phillip to us. In any case, I will not make a decision that could affect us all in haste. Take him to the keep and lock him in the lower store room. The apples have not yet been harvested; use that room. Bar the door, and put two guards outside.”

Disarming him with ease, they picked the young man roughly from the ground, and half dragged, half carried him toward the castle. Dearra trailed a short way behind to make sure they did not get too enthusiastic in their efforts to hurry him along.

Darius’s eyes were everywhere at once. He surveyed his surroundings anxiously, trying to commit to memory any opportunity for escape. What he could do to escape an island, with no boat, and no one looking for him, was a detail he ignored for the moment. At that instant, he was simply grateful to be breathing; he would work the rest out later.

They took him to a room one level below the main keep. It was cool and dry and held the faintest aroma of fruit. He leaned against the dirt wall and slid less than gracefully to the smooth, plank floor. Empty baskets of varying sizes were strewn about in haphazard stacks, waiting to be needed again.

Dearra took one last, long, lingering look, and then firmly shut the door. Jacob volunteered to be one of the guards, and since she could think of no reason to object, she let him have his way. She was comforted, however, when the much milder tempered Bryan stepped forward as the second volunteer.

Dearra’s footsteps echoed through the deserted corridors as she made her way back to her personal chamber. Her thoughts were a twisted mass as she relived, over and over, the moment she saw her brother on the Breken ship, his innocent face pale, and his eyes wide in fear. The cold black, eyes of his captor were too far away to really be visible, yet she knew they had been filled with triumph at his victory over the people of Maj. Then her mind remembered the eyes of another, golden brown, holding her captive and refusing to let her look away, and she shook her head trying to rid herself of the image. Dearra swept up the stairs into her room and dropped the sword onto her bed, unceremoniously. She scanned her room until she found what she was looking for, and made her way to the jumbled pile of objects near the fireplace.

Where do you think you’re going?

“To my father and Daniel, and then back to our strange…um…guest. His wound needs attention,” Dearra explained. She pushed aside a pair of mud-caked pants and a torn vest she kept meaning to repair, and scooped up the bag in which she kept her supply of healing medicines, assorted bandages, and basic medical instruments.

Fine. Leave me here, then. Abandon me. I’ll just wait until you are content to give me your attention once more.

“Yeah,” Dearra responded, distracted. “That would be great, thanks.” Turning back toward the bed, she asked, “Hey, what’s your name?” almost casually.

My name, girl, is ancient. I am descended from… well, never mind that. My name is a thing of power and awe. I am called Brin’du Drak’Tir, the sword said brimming with pride.

Dearra absorbed the name, briefly, finding it cumbersome and awkward in her mouth. “Ok, I’ll just call you Brin,” she responded, pleased with her solution to the problem of the funny name.

Decidedly offended, taken aback that anyone could be so casual about a thing of such monumental importance, the sword shot back, Fine! And I shall call you Big Fuzzy Animal with Antlers.

“Yeah, yeah. Deal,” Dearra said, as she whisked from the room.

***

Forgetting her plans to speak to her father and Daniel first, Dearra flew through the halls and down the short set of stairs leading to the storerooms. Heart pounding, she came to a stop in front of Bryan and Jacob. They looked at Dearra, and then at one another in confusion.

“Well? What are you waiting for?” Dearra demanded. “Open the door!”

“But, Dearra,” Bryan stammered, clearly at a loss for words.

“Absolutely not!” Jacob stated. “Lord Hugh ordered us to keep watch over the prisoner!”

“So? Keep watch. No one’s stopping you.” Dearra took a step forward and placed a hand on the heavy board barring the door. As she braced herself to lift the board up and out of her way, Jacob’s hand clamped down on her upper arm.

“I said, no, Dearra.”

“Let go of me immediately.” Dearra’s voice was calm and cool, but a bolt of panic swept through her as the grip tightened painfully around her arm. Her temper flared to life. She saw Bryan take a step back, recognizing the golden flames that sprang to life in Dearra’s eyes. Bryan had always been a friend to Dearra, and the look of fear on his face unsettled her where nothing else would have. Though the pain in her arm increased along with the pressure of Jacob’s grip, Dearra took a slow deep breath before speaking in as calm a voice as she could muster under the circumstances, “You’re hurting me.” Dearra’s voice shook with the effort it was costing her to remain in control, but only slightly so.

Bryan’s eyes popped wide open, and his jaw dropped as far as it could go as he stared at the scene in front of him in disbelief.

Two sounds came to Dearra almost simultaneously, one in her head, the other clearly coming from the other side of the door. The first was easily recognizable.

I’ll bet you wish I was there now, don’t you, Fuzzy? Her sword spoke in an ‘I told you so’ manner that grated on her nerves. And that nickname was going to wear quickly thin.

Who knew the blasted thing could hear her thoughts even when it wasn’t with her?

The second sound was indistinguishable at first, but as it grew in intensity, there could be no doubt the prisoner behind the heavy door was…no, he couldn’t be…but he was. Dearra could clearly hear that the fierce Breken warrior was…growling a low, throaty sound. Jacob hastily loosened his hold, though he did not let go completely.

Things could have gone badly had Daniel not chosen that exact moment to make an appearance at the base of the stairs.

Daniel spoke, and the fierce growl coming from behind the door ceased abruptly.

“Is everything alright here, Dearra?” Daniel’s eyes (and ears for that matter), had assessed the situation rapidly, and if he were to be honest with himself, he had to say that, in this circumstance, he was completely with the Breken.

Jacob took a wise step away from Dearra before speaking again. “Of course, Daniel.” A simpering smile appeared on Jacob’s face as he continued. “Dearra was…confused. She thought to enter the room with the Breken dog, and so, naturally, I had to protect her.”

“Protect her from what, exactly? One injured man against Dearra with the two of you standing guard just feet away? Open the door, Jacob,” Daniel said, daring Jacob to contradict his instructions, “and when you’ve finished with that, please fetch Serah to take your place at watch. You’ve clearly had a busy day and are deserving of some rest.”

“You want Serah, Daniel? Wouldn’t one of the men be better suited to…?”

Daniel raised one brow at the now tongue tied Jacob, who went at once to remove the board barring the way to the prisoner, then turned and left without another word.

“I’ll be right here for you, Dearra. Until Serah arrives.”

“Thank you, Daniel.” Dearra reached out, patted Daniel’s arm in gratitude, and walked into the storeroom turned cell.

A scowl grew on Dearra’s face as she saw no blankets, nor food, nor even water, for that matter, had been brought to the prisoner. She quickly stuck her head back through the door and instructed Bryan to bring some of each to her immediately. Having witnessed Daniel’s ire with Jacob, Bryan didn’t need to be told twice, and was gone almost before Dearra was done speaking. Dearra closed the door before turning back to her patient and lowered herself beside him on the wooden floor. He was large, of course, but seemed smaller than many of the Breken she had seen earlier that day. He was, maybe, only six and a half feet tall. His skin was the beautiful, copper color she remembered from their earlier encounter, though it was harder to see now, with only one small torch lighting the room. His thick, black hair looked even blacker, if that was possible, with the blood matted and dried in the strands. And then there were his eyes, made even more glorious by the flickering light of the torch, that deep, rich brown with flashes of gold. They looked right into Dearra, and her breath quickened, and she had to look away. She busied herself opening her bag, and laying out all of the contents before her to better evaluate what she would need. The young Breken watched her intently as she worked; she could feel his eyes on her as she arranged and rearranged bandages, unguents and salves in a neat row.

Bryan returned with the water, two blankets, and some fresh bread and soft cheese. Dearra handed the young warrior a chunk of bread and some of the chilled water, and dipped a soft cloth in the bowl of steaming water Bryan had brought in anticipation of her needs. He shied away as she reached to begin cleaning his head wound, but then held himself still as she worked. Dearra noticed the pained look on his face and paused.

“What is it?” she asked hesitantly. “Am I hurting you? You can tell me if I am. Please, you look so…strange.”

He didn’t speak, but raised a hand, ever so slowly, and traced the bruise just beginning to show on her upper arm.

Dearra froze at his touch and the jolt running down her arm as his fingers brushed, feather light over the red bloom making itself evident on her pale skin.

“Why?” he asked softly, the deep timbre to his voice strong and menacing in the small room.

“Well…” Dearra spoke the word and had to swallow to begin again, the feel of his hand on her arm making her mouth go suddenly dry. “I have always bruised easily. It’s a terrible nuisance, but I’ve gotten used to it.”

“That’s not what I meant,” he said, and though his hand had dropped back to his side, his eyes never left the mark marring her porcelain skin. “I meant, why did you do it? Why did you challenge him just to come in here?”

“Oh! Well, you needed attention. Your wounds aren’t going to clean themselves, you know.” She was relieved to have such a simple answer to give, though he seemed genuinely startled by her response.

Dearra dipped the cloth in the water again and continued to do what she could to clean the nasty lump at the back of the Breken’s head. She leaned in close in the dim light, to get a closer look, probing as gently as she could to make sure the injury wasn’t more serious than it seemed.

The silence of the room enveloped her, and she couldn’t, at first, identify what had changed. She looked down at the Breken sitting placidly before her, and realized that, in her effort to get a better view, she had provided the Breken with a view of his own—her chest was directly in front of his face. His jaw was clenched tightly, and his eyes stared straight ahead, as though he were completely unaware of what was right before him, but Dearra noticed that the silence she had sensed had been due to the fact that the fierce warrior was no longer breathing in his efforts to remain completely still. She eased back from him and returned to her bag of supplies pretending to not have noticed the awkward moment, but she couldn’t stop the grin that spread across her face when she heard him exhale loudly behind her.

She finished with her task, and after gently covering him in one of the blankets, turned to leave.

“Wait!”

Dearra turned back to face him as he spoke. “Yes?”

“Thank you…Dearra.”

His voice was rough and the words were spoken haltingly as if they words he was not used to speaking. She had not introduced herself, but it was not surprising that he knew her name, as at least a dozen people must have used it around him today. Still, it was presumptuous of him to speak to her with such familiarity without her consent.

A small smile lit her face and she said, “You are truly welcome…Darius.”

His eyes flew open wide, as he knew he had definitely not given his name to anyone.

Dearra left the room with a grin on her face. Let him ponder that for a while, she thought.

About the author:

BookChristine Grey lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Dan, and their seven children, three dogs, and two cats. With a family like that, she knows how important it is to escape from reality from time to time! She and her husband have grown their family through foster care adoption and are advocates for helping children find the permanency and support they all deserve. When she isn’t busy chasing children, running a household, or savoring a hot cup of tea, Christine spends her free time creating worlds of magic, romance, and humor.

Here’s how readers can learn more about Christine and her work.

| Facebook | Amazon Author Page | Email | 

WICKED CRIES by Michelle Areaux

Wicked Cries full coverFor 16-year-old Sadie Sanders, dealing with the dead is growing tiresome, especially when they expect her to play messenger to the afterlife. Her constant struggle to mend teenage broken relationships and translate last wishes seemed to be her biggest problem.

Up until recently, Sadie had been able to juggle her double life without anyone detecting she was not only an average high school student, but a messenger to the dead as well. Even after a close call at the local teen night club, Sadie was able to keep her secret hidden.  But when her father decided to move her family clear across the country from sunny Los Angeles, California to gloomy Salem, Massachusetts, Sadie wondered if the move would be the fresh new start she needed to leave her old, wicked life behind and become a normal high school girl.

Only Sadie was wrong, dead wrong.  Once in Salem, Sadie finds a hidden journal from Elizabeth, a once persecuted witch who documented the last few days of her terrifying life. Desperately wanting to push the journal aside and begin her new life, Sadie finds herself haunted by Elizabeth, but this time is different.

Elizabeth desperately needs Sadie’s help to clear her name, but one man attempts to destroy Sadie’s journey to uncovering Elizabeth’s truth.

Sadie’s only goal, to make it through high schpol without another deadly adventure.

She may be in for a rude awaking her senior year.

Buy Wicked Cries at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and on Black Rose Writing.  

About the Author:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMichelle Areaux  is a wife, mother, and seventh grade language arts teacher.  When she’s not playing with her boys or teaching, she writes. Her passion for writing stems from reading everything from The Babysitters Club series to The Outsiders. She strives to write fiction that her children, students, and grandmother would enjoy.

Michelle earned her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Kentucky and teaches in Lexington, Kentucky.

Follow Michelle Areaux on Twitter.

Interview with author Krysten Lindsay Hager

Please join Britbear Book Reviews in welcoming Krysten Lindsay Hager to today’s author spotlight.
Next Door to a Star FRONT COVER

Next Door to a Star by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Genre: Young Adult Romance

Publisher: Limitless Publishing

Release Date: September 1, 2015

Hadley Daniels is tired of feeling invisible.

After Hadley’s best friend moves away and she gets on the bad side of some girls at school, she goes to spend the summer with her grandparents in the Lake Michigan resort town of Grand Haven. Her next door neighbor is none other than teen TV star Simone Hendrickson, who is everything Hadley longs to be—pretty, popular, and famous—and she’s thrilled when Simone treats her like a friend.

Being popular is a lot harder than it looks.

It’s fun and flattering when Simone includes her in her circle, though Hadley is puzzled about why her new friend refuses to discuss her former Hollywood life. Caught up with Simone, Hadley finds herself ignoring her quiet, steadfast friend, Charlotte.

To make things even more complicated, along comes Nick Jenkins…

He’s sweet, good-looking, and Hadley can be herself around him without all the fake drama. However, the mean girls have other ideas and they fill Nick’s head with lies about Hadley, sending him running back to his ex-girlfriend and leaving Hadley heartbroken.

So when her parents decide to relocate to Grand Haven, Hadley hopes things will change when school starts…only to be disappointed once again.

Cliques.

Back-stabbing.

Love gone bad.

Is this really what it’s like to live…Next Door to a Star?

Buy Next Door to a Star on Amazon, Amazon Paperback, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, iTunes, and KoboBooks.

 

Welcome, Krysten. What inspired you to write the Landry’s True Colors series?
 
When I was in college, I heard the phrase that you should write the book you want to read. I had been wanting to write a YA novel and had several starts, but nothing that I really went the distance with until I heard that. I began writing the books I would have wanted to read at that age as I was dealing with my own insecurities about fitting in and comparing myself to images in magazines. I grew up in the era of the supermodels, which reminds me a lot of how teens and, really, people of all ages, compare themselves to what they see on social media sites. So I wrote from the point of view of a character who sees these perfect looking girls, with perfect looking lives and what seems like super tight-knit friendships, but begins to realize that the grass isn’t always greener. I also wanted to write with humor because that was something I found missing in the YA novels I read growing up.
 
I love having a character that grows throughout the series  although the books can be read as standalone novels as well. It’s fun for me to continue on with the Landry character as well as all her friends and develop them more as the series goes on.
 
You are a self-proclaimed book addict. What are the best books you’ve ever read? Why would you include those books in your list of best books?
 
I love to read and my to-be-read stack is growing all the time. One of my favorite books is The Great Gatsby. It was assigned to me in 7th grade and again in 9th, but I didn’t connect with it until I reread it the summer the movie with Leonardo came out. This time all the themes jumped out at me and I appreciated what Fitzgerald was doing. I love Fitzgerald’s essays and short stories as well. Growing up, I loved all the series books. I read everything from Nancy Drew to Sweet Valley High, The Babysitters Club, and fell in love with a book called Goodbye Glamour Girl by Erika Tamar. I also like reading books by Susan Shapiro, May Sarton, Sarah Mlyanowski, and Judy Blume as well.
 
There are some great and classic series in that list.
In your web site bio you say that when you’re not reading you are catching up on your favourite shows. What are a few of your favourite shows and why?
 
I am bad luck for shows, apparently, because so many of my favorites get canceled–like Hart of Dixie and Dallas, Freaks and Geeks. My current must see programs are: American Dad because I love the writing on it. I love how the writers have the characters of Stan and Roger play off each other. I watch The Simpson and Family Guy for fun, escapist humor and I love The Goldbergs. My friends and I are always talking about that show. Watching Adam Goldberg go through middle school is like going back in time to our own awkward experiences at that age.  I also like watching shows on the Disney Channel, like, Girl Meets World, and Austin and Ally. I started watching that show a few months ago when I realized the Austin character looked a bit like how I was imagining Vladi Yagudin in my series. I tune in to Switched at Birth and I also watch sports a lot: figure skating, basketball, football (both college level as well as the pros–the Detroit Lions), soccer (Real Madrid), and during the playoffs I watch the Detroit Tigers.
 
Your Amazon bio says you have worked as a journalist and humor essayist. What is the connection between writing in this style and writing fiction?
 
My favorite thing as a journalist was interviewing people. Human interest pieces were such a treat because I got to talk to people from all walks of life like politicians, athletes, teachers, priests and preachers, and a lot of people in the arts. It often brought a new perspective to how I viewed things and I’ve been inspired by many of the people I’ve interviewed over the years for my stories. I wrote an essay that was published in an anthology called, Patchwork Path: Friendship Star, about a woman I was sent to do a human interest piece on. She and I became close friends, but then she passed away from a heart condition and I wrote about her impact on my life. When it came to writing humor essays, it was a great way to get my foot in the door by showing a more creative side of my writing and people who liked the humor in those pieces get a taste of what I write in my fictional work as well.
 
You have a master’s degree in American Culture. How often do you use what you learned in school in your writing?
 
Daily! I have often said the most helpful thing in my writing career has been the classes I’ve taken over the years. The literature classes showed me how stories are put together and honestly, it’s like taking a class from the masters. With American Culture you’re covering everything from literature, communications, history, art history, and I also took pre-law classes. So many of these experiences helped me to become a better writer by teaching new things I can use in my novels or helping me to understand a subject better. As an undergrad, I took mostly European history and European lit classes, so moving on to American culture was great because I felt much more well-rounded and have a unique take on things having studied both.
 
My degree is in Cultural Anthropology and I feel the same way about those classes.
Back to writing and books, how did you find your publisher? Why did you decide to publish with Clean Reads?
 
A few years ago, I was living in Portugal and in a freelance writer group. I was mostly writing for newspapers, magazines, and online sites and one of the writers in the group mentioned she was happy with the company and then later I saw another writer from that group had signed with them as well.
 
What’s the best review you have received to date? Quote something from it and tell us why it meant so much to you.
 
The first one that comes to mind is from a high school student who reviewed both books on her blog, Indyia’s Reviews. Part of the review for the first book (True Colors) said, “I’m in love with this book because almost ANY middle school, or even high school teens can relate to this! …Through this journey she gets caught up in trying to be herself, but also wanting to be ‘perfect middle school girl’ to meet her new friend’s standards! Landry learns throughout the story how to deal with her new found enemies, a crush, and she figures out modeling isn’t this great big fairy tale world! In the end, she figures out that true friends will love you for you! I love the moral of this story because to me, it’s very self motivating! It’s okay to be yourself and a little quirky sometimes!”
 
I loved that review because that was exactly what I had hoped readers would walk away from the book thinking and feeling. I also loved hearing from a reading specialist about two of her students who appreciated the fact Landry deals with insecurities even as she is picking to go on in modeling competitions. One of the students said it made her feel better knowing even Landry dealt with self-esteem issues like she (the student) did.
 
Getting reviews is one way to publicize. How else do you go about publicizing your book? How much time do you spend on publicity? What is the most helpful site(s) you have found to date?
 
I’ve done book tours and book blasts, but I think having other writers on my own blog/website has been helpful as you’re bringing in new readers to your site. I think Facebook pages are a great way to connect with people so that’s been the most helpful, but I’d suggest each writer pick one thing they feel comfortable with because if you feel awkward using it, it will show. I don’t know how much time to say I devote to it as I don’t keep track.
 
What is your next project about?
 
I have a new standalone YA novel called, Next Door to a Star, out now from Limitless Publishing. It’s about a high school student named Hadley Daniels who winds up moving to a lake resort town near a teen TV star for a summer that involves first love, true friendship, and realizing that what you see in the magazines isn’t always what you get.
 
I also finished the third book in the Landry’s True Colors Series, so I’m looking forward to the release of that and I’m working on book 4 of the series as well as another YA novel and an adult one.
 
Is there anything else you’d like to tell your readers that’s not covered by this interview?
 
I feel so fortunate to be able to connect with readers online, so drop me a line any time on my website.
Thanks, Krysten.
Here’s where you can learn more about Krysten Lindsay Hager and her writing:
About the Author 

Krysten Lindsay HagerKrysten Lindsay Hager is the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series, a clean reads young adult series. Krysten writes about  friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, middle school and high school, frenemies, modeling, crushes, values, and self-image in True Colors and Best Friends…Forever? as well as her upcoming release, Next Door to a Star.

Krysten is an Amazon international bestselling author and book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and  writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in Portugal, South Dakota, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Release Day Blitz: THE FOXGLOVE KILLINGS

the foxglove killings blitz bannerThe Foxglove Killings-500x750

The Foxglove Killings

by Tara Kelly

Release Date: 09/01/15

Entangled Teen

Summary from Goodreads:
Gramps always said that when the crickets were quiet, something bad was coming. And the crickets have been as silent as the dead. It started with the murdered deer in the playground with the unmistakable purple of a foxglove in its mouth. But in the dying boondock town of Emerald Cove, life goes on.

I work at Gramps’s diner, and the cakes―the entitled rich kids who vacation here―make our lives hell. My best friend, Alex Pace, is the one person who gets me. Only Alex has changed. He’s almost like a stranger now. I can’t figure it out…or why I’m having distinctly more-than-friend feelings for him. Ones I shouldn’t be having.

Then one of the cakes disappears.

When she turns up murdered, a foxglove in her mouth, a rumor goes around that Alex was the last person seen with her—and everyone but me believes it. Well, everyone except my worst enemy, Jenika Shaw. When Alex goes missing, it’s up to us to prove his innocence and uncover the true killer. But the truth will shatter everything I’ve ever known about myself—and Alex.

Buy The Foxglove Killings on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Kobo Books

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Excerpt:

Mondays at the diner were unpredictable. It was either chaos or a graveyard, no in between. But one thing was certain—Monday nights always brought in the worst kind of crazy.  Tonight that crazy came in the form of Paul Cross, town hermit. One of them, anyway. This was the Pacific Northwest.

About the Author

tara kellyTara Kelly adores variety in her life. She’s an author, one-girl-band, graphic designer, editor, and photographer. She lives in Sin City with her beloved guitars, sound design master husband, and a fluffy cat named Maestro.

 

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Interview with Kirby Howell

Britbear’s Book Reviews welcomes Kirby Howell to today’s author spotlight with an author interview.

autumninthecityofangelscoverFrom Goodreads:

What would you do if you lived through the apocalypse? The real fight to survive comes after everyone else is gone.

A plague of epic proportion sweeps the globe, leaving less than one percent of the world’s population immune. Among the living is Autumn Winters, the teenage daughter of a famous actress. When Autumn’s parents don’t come home and the city is overtaken by a dangerous faction, she goes into hiding with a small group of underground survivors. They’re led by a mysterious young man who harbors an unearthly secret, and with whom Autumn feels a deep connection.

Autumn in the City of Angels is the first novel in a series, followed by Autumn in the Dark Meadows and Autumn in the City of Lights.

Buy Autumn in the City of Angels and Autumn in the Dark Meadows at Amazon.

You are my first set of co-writers writing under a single pen-name. What’s your writing process like?

Open communication is the key when you have two people.  We like to joke that we have to be “on the same page” figuratively, but definitely not literally!

We usually spend a few weeks breaking the story, and after we’ve got a hold on the characters and the story we want to tell, we write an outline together, and try to make sure any tricky areas are well fleshed out.  Other areas are left thinner to allow for the individual writer’s creative process.  Then we divvy out sections.  Though we’re the best of friends, we have very different personalities, so usually the parts that are calling to one of us to write isn’t calling to the other, so we’ve never had a problem dividing up the scenes to write.  (Dana usually takes the scenes with heavy dialogue or politically driven scenes.  Jessica enjoys writing romantic stuff, or the scenes with lots of internal thinking.)  So we go away and write our sections, and then once we’re feeling good about what we have, we swap!  Then we make notes and trade back.  This allows the first person to take one more stab at their scenes before the other person begins their rewrites… which is the next phase.  After we’ve both taken passes on each other’s work and cleaned up any errors we find, we start a beta process, and get notes from a host of readers.  From there, we divvy up again, and the re-write/swapping process starts all over!

So basically we end up reading and re-writing each other a lot.  But we have constant open communication during this process so that there aren’t any hurt feelings, and so that we’re both comfortable with any changes in the next phase.  It’s a dance that breaks up most partnerships, but we both firmly believe that having each person’s input on every page makes the work stronger…and we’ve been writing this way together for 16 years.

The synergy between you sounds amazing. I read that both of you have degrees in Film and Scriptwriting. Why did you make the transition to writing fiction novels?

Most screenwriters are born of frustrated novelists, so there’s a lot of crossover between these worlds.  The creative process, while not the medium, is also the same.

We’d always had the pipe dream of becoming novelists in the backs of our mind, but for several years, we were focused on the more immediate goal of TV writing.  Then, during the recession, when over half of Hollywood was out of work, we found ourselves with more time than usual to write.  We’d had an idea that felt too big to be a pilot script or a feature script.  Jessica suggested we try our hand at prose, and from that the first Autumn novel was born.

I’ve often thought of marketing my novels as a screenplay to get the story out there, but never given it a try. Which of the two forms of writing do you enjoy most and why?

We enjoy both in their own ways.  With scripts, you get the supreme pleasure of watching other artists interpret your ideas… actors, directors, editors, etc… but with a novel, it’s very different.  It’s a direct conduit to your audience.  So everything has to come from you and “live on the page” as they say.  There won’t be actors coming in to bring words to life or editors to help pacing, etc… That’s intimidating, knowing that it all rests on your shoulders, but it’s also very rewarding when you feel like you’ve done your job.  So for now, we’d probably have to pick the novel world.

Let’s talk a bit about your novels. What is your inspiration behind your Autumn Winters series?

That’s a tricky question.  The seed of the idea came from one of Jessica’s dreams.  But the inspiration for what it became?  We’re not sure there’s a simple answer to that.  Maybe it had to do with all of the media in our lives, be it novels we’ve read, and movies and TV shows that we’d consumed that informed what kind of stories we wanted to tell.  Or maybe it was something within us the entire time, influenced by our close friends and family around us and our experiences as close friends for the past decade and a half.

Twitter describes the Autumn Winters series as YA Sci Fi Romance. What draws you to these genres?

We’ve always liked a bit of the fantastical, be it sci fi or fantasy.  Dana grew up reading as much as she could get her hands on in that genre.  Jessica enjoyed the fantasy genre when she was younger, but got the sci fi bug in college when she met Dana.  And we realized that writing within this genre was just more fun for us!

As far as Young Adult goes… we genuinely love writing for teens.  It was an important time for us as young readers, and we love the fact that there’s even more YA out there now and that it isn’t perceived as “nerdy” the way it was when we were teens.  And if there’s anything we can do to contribute to that, we’re all in!  We also love trying to sneak in some real science, or classic book recommendations in our novels in the hopes that they might spark an interest in our readers in other areas that we feel passionate about.

And finally, why romance?  Why not!  We love mixing genres, and the heightened emotions derived from a romance plot only helps readers connect with what they’re reading.  And, besides, a little romance is fun to read!

Your Amazon bio says you work in television. Describe what you do in the television industry.

Well, between us both, we’ve held a lot of jobs on a number of different projects over the years, some you may have heard of and others you probably wouldn’t have!  They say that long term employment in Hollywood is 6 months (for one project).  As projects wrap, you move on to the next gig.  So you tend to rack up quite a list of projects the longer you stay in the business.  Instead of listing all the shows individually, how about we tell you where we began and where we are now?

Dana started out as a writers’ assistant on Desperate Housewives and Jessica used to work in casting for The Biggest Loser.  Currently, Dana’s a producer on a show for Discovery ID and Jessica is an accountant for various TV shows.

How did you decide which excerpts to share on your web page?

Ah!  Finally an easy question!  We just put the first chapter of each book up.  Easy peasy.

Who are your favourite authors and what attracts you to their work?

And now we’re back to the hard questions!  This list could be endless.  We’re both confessed book nerds and could happily spend months reading.  But if we HAD to pick favorites, we suppose it’d be the following.

Douglas Adams: One of Dana’s all-time favorites.  She’s read every word the man has ever written.  His satire about the world around us is both amazingly insightful and absolutely hysterical.  He was her father’s favorite author, and over the years, it became something they shared.  It doesn’t get better than Douglas Adams.

Laura Ingalls Wilder: Jessica’s first memory of loving books involves Little House in the Big Woods and summer thunderstorms in Virginia.  Her mom would read to her and her sister to distract them from being frightened of the thunder.  She’s reread the entire Little House series probably once a year since then.

Jane Austen: Another of Dana’s all-time favorites.  Her stories endure the test of time.  It’s been proven time and again with modern adaptations of Pride & Prejudice, Emma, etc…  The themes of personal freedom vs. restriction, what a woman’s place is within society, and women being true to themselves have always resonated with her.

Steven King: Jessica’s husband finally got her to read The Stand, which she’d been curious about for years, but hadn’t ever wanted to read because it was in the horror genre and “Jessica hates horror.”  She listened to The Stand as an audiobook over the course of a month on her hour-long commute to work and fell in love.  The characters, the extreme situations, and the fantastical elements lured her in and made her a fan instantly.  She followed it up with 11/22/63, which immediately replaced The Stand as her favorite reading experience ever.

Great choices!

What’s next on your writing agenda?

We’re NEARLY done with the last book in The Autumn Series and are getting ready to throw ourselves into our next YA project: The Wayfarer, which is a story about a teenage girl running away from a bad foster situation.  She stumbles through a hidden and magical passage and finds herself in a new and strange land.  It’s Alice in Wonderland meets The Wizard of Oz.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the world about your writing and your books?

We LOVE working with schools and libraries to promote reading and literacy.  If there are any teachers and/or librarians out there who’d like us to do a virtual Skype visit to talk about writing, our books, etc… don’t hesitate to reach out!  Contact us via email!  us@kirbyhowell.com

Here’s where you can read more about Kirby Howell and their (?) books:

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About Kirby Howell

Cover Reveal: Ward Against Destruction (Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer, #4)

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00032]Ward Against Destruction (Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer, #4)

by Melanie Card

Release Date: 10/05/15

Entangled Teen

Summary from Goodreads:

Ward de’Ath used to the think that nothing could be more terrible than death. Now he realizes there are worse things. Like his never-ending hunger for blood. Even if he conquers the unbearable cravings that drive him headlong toward destruction,he’s a wanted man with a bleak future.

Assassin Celia Carlyle learns she is the only one who can protect Ward from disaster. She loves him–she wants to help him, but no one can tell her how to save him from himself. And the confusing voices in her head scream to let him go.

But Ward’s dark trials keep mounting. A malevolent evil is rising in the land, threatening to unleash horror upon the world. The only way Ward can defeat it, and have the chance to marry Celia, is by accepting his fate and becoming the one thing he swore he would never become..

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Books in this series:

WardAgainstDarkness-500x750WardAgainstDeath-500x750

WardAgainstDisaster-500x750

 

 

 

│ Ward Against Darkness │ Ward Against Death  Ward Against Disaster |

melanie cardAbout the Author

I have always been drawn to story telling. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t telling a story in my head or on paper. In grade school, we had journal writing time which I turned into story telling time, weaving tales of magic and adventure that mimicked the fairy tales and myths that I loved to read. It was there, with the help of two very special teachers, that I nurtured this love and started my journey as a writer.
I write fantasy, paranormal romance, and everything in between, seasoned with a good dash of adventure and mystery. Join me on my tales of magic, adventure, and romance.

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Introducing The Thought Readers by Dima Zales

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The Thought ReadersThe Thought Readers

(Mind Dimensions #1)

by Dima Zales

Release Date: 3/5/14

Mozaika Publications

Summary from Goodreads:

 A new series about mind readers from USA Today bestselling authors… 

Everyone thinks I’m a genius.

Everyone is wrong.

Sure, I finished Harvard at eighteen and now make crazy money at a hedge fund. But that’s not because I’m unusually smart or hard-working.

It’s because I cheat.

You see, I have a unique ability. I can go outside time into my own personal version of reality—the place I call “the Quiet”—where I can explore my surroundings while the rest of the world stands still.

I thought I was the only one who could do this—until I met her.

My name is Darren, and this is how I became entangled with all the Russians and learned that I’m a Reader.

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Buy The Thought Readers on AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo Books, and in the iBookstore

Check out the short story novelette prologue for the Mind Dimensions series, The Time Stopper, for FREE!

Dima Zales’s Top Ten Inspirations for The Thought Readers:

1. My wife and collaborator Anna – she inspires everything that I do.

2. Mentalism – which is a type of entertainment meant to look like mind reading. This is something that I personally do (you can see examples on my Youtube channel).

3. “Bullet time” slow motion fight sequences that became famous in action movies.

4. Moving to Florida after living twenty-three years in NYC. In this novel, I re-visit my favorite and familiar spots, especially in Brooklyn.

5. Music by Enigma (in the book there’s even a mention of a song by them).

6. Sushi.

7. Card magic and gambling demonstrations – this is related to mentalism and something else that I personally do (for entertainment purposes).

8. For book three, I got some inspiration from the practice of meditation, which features prominently.

9. For book four, I was influenced by my obsession with longevity.

10. It’s not a coincidence that there are so many Russians in these books. I was born in Russia, and that fact clearly had an impact on the characters.

About the Author

Dima ZalesDima Zales is a full-time science fiction and fantasy author residing in Palm Coast, Florida. Prior to becoming a writer, he worked in the software development industry in New York as both a programmer and an executive. From high-frequency trading software for big banks to mobile apps for popular magazines, Dima has done it all. In 2013, he left the software industry in order to concentrate on his writing career.

Dima holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from NYU and a dual undergraduate degree in Computer Science/Psychology from Brooklyn College. He also has a number of hobbies and interests, the most unusual of which might be professional-level mentalism. He simulates mind-reading on stage and close-up, and has done shows for corporations, wealthy individuals, and friends.

He is also into healthy eating and fitness, so he should live long enough to finish all the book projects he starts. In fact, he very much hopes to catch the technological advancements that might let him live forever (biologically or otherwise). Aside from that, he also enjoys learning about current and future technologies that might enhance our lives, including artificial intelligence, biofeedback, brain-to-computer interfaces, and brain-enhancing implants.

In addition to his own works, Dima has collaborated on a number of romance novels with his wife, Anna Zaires. The Krinar Chronicles, an erotic science fiction series, has been a bestseller in its categories and has been recognized by the likes of Marie Claire and Woman’s Day. If you like erotic romance with a unique plot, please feel free to check it out, especially since the first book in the series, Close Liaisons, is available for free everywhere. Keep in mind, though, Dima Zales’s books are going to be much more PG 13 . . . at least that’s the plan for now.

Anna Zaires is the love of his life and a huge inspiration in every aspect of his writing. She definitely adds her magic touch to anything Dima creates, and the books would not be the same without her. Dima’s fans are strongly encouraged to learn more about Anna and her work at http://www.annazaires.com/

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Interview with author Kathryn Knight

Please join Britbbear’s Book Reviews in welcoming Kathryn Knight, author of Divine Fall, to today’s author spotlight.

DivineFall250

From Amazon:

After tragedy tears Jamie Brandt’s life apart, her only goal is to finish high school so she can leave her small hometown behind. In the meantime, riding her horse is her main source of solace, until a mysterious stable hand shows up at the barn. There’s something not quite right about the handsome new employee, and the more Jamie sees of him, the more determined she becomes to figure out what he’s hiding.

Dothan Reed came to historic Huntsville, Maryland, for one reason–revenge. But his plan can’t move forward until he finds the missing piece he needs to enhance his powers. As the only surviving Nephilim, Dothan is not only weaker than full-blooded angels; his forbidden lineage makes him an outcast in both worlds. When he discovers Jamie is the key to locating an ancient weapon, he’s forced to interact with a vulnerable human girl–a task that becomes more appealing with each encounter.

Jamie soon learns Dothan isn’t the only one with a dark secret. Each new revelation further threatens her safety, and Dothan’s betrayal shatters her heart. Forgiving him seems impossible, but the thought of turning her back on him is equally painful.

As their connection deepens, Dothan will have to make his own difficult choice: continue on his path of vengeance, or protect the girl he loves. And when Dothan’s actions thrust Jamie into an unforeseen danger, he must seek the help of his enemy…or risk losing her forever.

Buy Divine Fall on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes.

 

Kathryn – welcome to Britbear’s Book Reviews. Divine Fall is a paranormal romance. Why do you choose to write in this genre?

Romance allows me to capture all the emotions associated with falling in love—the exhilaration, the fear, the uncertainty, the vulnerability—as I take my characters on their journey.  I’ve always been one to root for star-crossed lovers to find happiness despite the obstacles in their path.  As a reader, I also like to see a lot of tension and suspense in books, and paranormal subplots allow me to create mystery and danger.  I’ve always been fascinated with the supernatural—there are a lot of things in this world that seem to defy explanation.  Combining the two elements, romance and paranormal, allows me to write about two themes I enjoy.

Gull Harbor and Silver Lake are ghost stories while Divine Fall is about nephilim. Why did you change the supernatural focus of this book?

After writing two ghost story romances, I wanted to try something different.  Both Gull Harbor and Silver Lake involve main characters who are human, with a haunting mystery as a subplot, and as a result, they aren’t considered traditional paranormal romance.  While thinking about writing a character who wasn’t completely human, I came up an idea for a story about a half-angel on a quest for revenge.  As I let my imagination run with it, the story developed into a Young Adult novel, another new direction for me.  From there, I decided to write it from the first person point-of-view, which is common in YA books but comes with a whole additional set of challenges.

Why did you decide to begin a Thunderclap campaign? What are you hoping to achieve from it?

Thunderclap is a great new tool I learned about from my author friends, and it’s a free way to increase the social media reach of an event or announcement if you can find 100 supporters.  The most recent campaign I’ve set up is due to send out news of a limited-time sale on one of my novels.  My hope is that the expanded connections will make the sale deal visible to more readers.

In your bio you say you live with rescued pets. How many pets have you rescued? Why rescue pets?

I’ve always had a great love for animals, and I grew up in a house full of pets.  There are so many unwanted/abandoned pets in the world, and I try to do my part to adopt from shelters and rescue organizations.  The earliest rescue I can remember is a St. Bernard named Three-fifty that my parents adopted when I was a baby.  His number at the “pound” was 350, and they paid $3.50 to take him home, so that’s how he got his name.

Since I’ve owned a home with my husband, we’ve rescued dogs from high-kill shelters in Alabama, New York City, and Ohio, as well as many cats from the local shelter.  The one I’ve had the longest is now almost 17 years old – I adopted him and his littermate as stray kittens when my older son was an infant, so we celebrate their birthdays together.

On your webpage you say you’ve been a voracious reader since you were a child. When did you know you wanted to be a writer and why?

I wrote my first “book” when I was in second grade, about a young girl who befriends a wild pony and eventually gets to keep it.  Of course, the girl in the book was supposed to be me, and that was more about my dream to own a pony than a dream to write.  However, my imagination was always working overtime, and I credit a lot of that to my passion for reading.  When I couldn’t be reading, I’d make up stories, characters, and plot twists to keep myself entertained.  Once I’d pretty much written an entire novel in my head, I decided it was time to finally write it down.  The characters essentially demanded it.  That book became Silver Lake, and since it was the type of book I like to read, my only goal was really to share it with other readers who might enjoy the story.

It’s so interesting that so many of us began our writing careers that way.

You are represented by Blue Ridge Literary Agency. How did you go about finding your agent?

One of my writer friends who is represented by BRLA let me know about a “First Page Contest” sponsored by the agency, and I entered my latest manuscript and won an exclusive submission.  I was invited to send in the first three chapters along with a synopsis, and from there I was offered representation.  My agent specializes in romance and mystery, so it’s a great fit for me.

If you could choose one author you would call a mentor, someone you learned from by reading his/her books, who would it be and why?

There are so many authors I admire, but if I had to choose one I’ve learned the most from in terms of writing romance, I think it would be Judith McNaught, the author of some of my favorite historical romance novels.  She is a master at creating character-driven conflict and building the sexual tension until the reader is desperate for the couple to finally get together!

Does you love for paranormal television and movies have influence on your writing? How so?

The paranormal TV shows and movies definitely give me ideas…thankfully, I’ve never lived with a poltergeist or experienced a haunting, so movies and shows—both reality ghost-hunting shows and fictional programs—help me understand what that might be like.  I can actually credit a ghost movie with providing a plot hole that evolved into the basis for Silver Lake.  While I can’t remember the movie title, a spirit kept writing these cryptic clues in places, hoping the protagonist would get the message.  And I sat there and wondered why, if the ghost could write, it wouldn’t just spell out exactly what it was trying to say: “look for the bodies in the barn”.  So my mind began spinning with ways to resolve that type of problem—barriers to communication between the living and the dead.  A desperate spirit might need to reveal something important, but a solid reason preventing that, with no loopholes, needs to serve as conflict.

What’s next on your writing agenda?

I recently finished my fourth novel, another ghost story/romance entitled Haunted Souls, and that is out on submission right now.  I tend to work ideas out in my head before I begin writing, and I’m currently playing with an idea for a romantic suspense novel, which would be a similar genre for me, but slightly different as no paranormal elements could be incorporated.

What’s the one question you’ve always wanted to be asked in an interview? Please ask it and answer it here.

Wow, that’s a tough one!  I guess I’ll elaborate on one of your above questions—why I wanted to be a writer—and ask myself why I continue to write in what has become a very flooded marketplace, where even newly released books tend to get lost in the millions of offerings.  While writing is my passion, some parts of the publishing process—writing the synopsis, waiting on submission news, receiving rejections—can be downright painful.  But for me, there’s no greater pleasure than finding a book I can get lost in—a book I can’t wait to pick up, and that I don’t want to put down.  That’s the kind of book I aspire to write, and if I can provide that type of enjoyment for other readers, then it’s all worth it.

Thank you so much for having me here!

Thank you so much for participating in this interview, Kathryn. How can readers discover more about you and you work?

| Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest |

About the author:

Author Photo 2Kathryn Knight spends a great deal of time in her fictional world, where mundane chores don’t exist and daily life involves steamy romance, dangerous secrets, and spooky suspense.  Kathryn writes contemporary romance spiked with mysterious hauntings as well as YA paranormal romance filled with forbidden love.  Her novels are award-winning #1 Kindle bestsellers and RomCon Reader Rated picks.  When she’s not reading or writing, Kathryn spends her time catching up on those mundane chores, driving kids around, and teaching fitness classes.  She lives on beautiful Cape Cod with her husband, their two sons, and a number of rescued pets.  Please visit her at www.kathrynknightbooks.blogspot.com.

 

 

 

 

Author Interview with Lisa Bilbrey

Please join Britbear’s Book Reviews in welcoming author Lisa Bilbrey in an interview about her writing, her books, and her writing process.

AH cover final (1)Hi, Lisa, and welcome to Britbear’s Book Reviews.

When preparing this interview, my research took me to your Goodreads page which lists your genres as romance, young adult, science fiction and fantasy. Which of these is your favourite genre to write in and why?

I don’t see myself as someone who writes multiple genres, even though I do. I simply write the story as I feel it should be told. All of my books have the basis of love overcoming all obstacles. I’m a believer in the power of love, but if I had to pick outside of romance, I would say I love Contemporary Adult books the best.

Your website displays a badge for your status as a 2014 NaNoWriMo winner. Which novel did you work on that year? What did you learn about the writing process by participating?

I actually [worked] on two different books during NaNoWriMo. The first was Forgotten Awakenings, and the second was a new series I’m working on called The Deck of Cards Killer: A Zoe Mack novel. I struggled with both, but somehow managed to snag my 50,000 words. For me, the most important part of NaNoWRiMo is just to keep writing. It doesn’t have to be pretty, and it’s most likely not going to be good, but just to sit down every day and write something. Editing comes after the end of the month.

 Great advice for all writers, Lisa, whether or not the participate in the contest. ASeasonOfChangeNewCover

Your bio says you spend much of your “time trying to improve as a storyteller.” What are some of the techniques you employ in this quest?

Well, I’m one of those authors who loves edits. I love getting a MS back that has been marked with red ink because I always learn something I didn’t know. For me, I find that so helpful in my future writing. When I was a young girl, I really struggled in school. I have a learning disorder and often felt I was too stupid to be able to write, but I always had a story inside of me. So, I finally decided to throw caution to the wind and started writing. And it was bad. Like really, really bad. There were simple spelling errors, punctuation errors, [and] plot holes the size of Texas, but I learned from my mistakes, and it’s made me a better writer. I still have a lot to learn, too. I hope I always will because it pushes me to work harder at my craft.

I think you may have already alluded to the answer to this question, but when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I don’t know that I ever sat down one say and said I want to be a writer. I’ve always had stories inside my head. I’d lay in bed and let them play out, or I’d be driving and think of the different plot ideas. One night, I had trouble sleeping, so I grabbed my laptop and started one. At first, it was just for fun. I didn’t really think it would lead to anything, but then I found myself with fifty stories written, or at least started, and I found that I couldn’t stop writing. Most of these were badly written Fanfiction, so then I started writing Angel’s Heart: The Keeper. I had half of it written when I pushed it aside and wrote Life’s Unexpected Gifts, which was my first novella. I fell even more in love with the idea of writing.

journey_collection_frontTalk a bit about your writing process. Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I used to be a [pantser], but I’ve found over the last couple years that I write better with an outline. It doesn’t have to be a lot, just the basic ideas for each chapter. I also have to have noise when I’m writing. Whether it’s my children, the television, or my music blasting, I cannot write when it is quiet.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively since your first novel?

I think my books have gotten deeper, more emotionally charged. I think as I’ve continued to perfect my craft, I’ve gotten better at writing the details that need to be included, while omitting the ones that don’t.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books and why?

I can read either, but I will always prefer paperbacks/hard copies. There is just something about the way they feel in my hands, turning each page that makes it so much better.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?

Honestly, I’d love to have written Harry Potter. The way J.K. Rowling wove all seven books together is masterful.

You have self-published through Amazon. The world of publishing has drastically changed LUG2over the past decade, with the advent of print-on-demand services, such as Amazon’s Digital Service. Where do you see publishing going in the future?

Well, I originally published out of a small publishing house that I co-owned, so I was able to learn the process from the ground up. When I made the decision to sever my ties from the house, I knew that I wanted to be able to fully control my books. I think there are good things, and horrible things, about self-publishing. Too many people take the easy way out by not having their books properly edited and formatted. But I think Amazon has opened a lot of doors for authors who would otherwise never get the chance to see their books in the hands of readers. I see big publishing houses having to change the way they do things in order to compete with the smaller houses that offer authors more control of their work.

Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t asked so far?

I can’t really think of anything. Just that all of my books are written from my heart.

Thanks for that amazing interview, Lisa.

Here’s where readers can discover more about Lisa Bilbrey and her work. 

| Blog | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads |

 

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 About Lisa Bilbrey (from GoodReads):

Obsessive, compulsive, slightly crazed, but enough about her personality. First and foremost, Lisa Bilbrey is a mom to three and a wife to one. She loves to write, and spends the majority of everyday writing. It’s who she is, and what she’s meant to be doing. Words are her life, the air she breathes, and the nutrients of her soul.

Finding a love in the written word, Lisa Bilbrey started writing as a way to express herself and let her voice be heard. From the first word she wrote, she’d found her heart and soul.Always willing to learn, she’s spends much of her time trying to improve as a storyteller.