Wordless Wednesday: Return of the Ascendant, by Raine Thomas


Return of the Ascendant med

Expecting to enjoy another typical college night at a frat party with friends, Kyra Vaughn’s plans derail when she’s almost killed…twice. Her savior, a tall, sexy stranger who calls himself TaeDane, claims that he’s the personal bodyguard for the Ascendant of Alametria. She’s convinced he’s crazy.

Especially when he insists that she’s the Ascendant.

With dark enemies hunting her down, Kyra has no choice but to trust her supposed bodyguard. Ty vows to help her remember her past and return her safely to Alametria, but someone seems intent on interfering, challenging his abilities at every turn.

As Kyra’s memories emerge, she remembers that Ty is more to her than he’s let on…much more than he’s allowed to be. She’ll also discover that there are many things about her planet and herself that she’d rather forget. In the end, she’ll have to make a choice: cling to the life she knows, or risk it all to become the person she’s destined to be.

Get Return of the Ascendant on

About the author

Raine Thomas is the bestselling author of an award-winning series of YA fantasy/romance novels about the Estilorian plane. She became truly passionate about writing when one of her stories took an Honorable Mention in a fourth-grade writing competition (who would have thought a story about a dancing spider would garner so much attention?). Carrying that passion with her, she earned her bachelor’s degree in English with a focus in Creative Writing from Georgia State University, then her master’s degree in Humanities from Central Michigan University.

Residing in Orlando, Florida, Raine is a hopeless romantic with a background in the fields of mental health and wedding planning…two areas that intersect far more than one would think. Her years working with children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral challenges inspired her to create young protagonists who overcome their own conflicts. She’s a proud member of Romance Writers of America and a contributing blogger on The Writer’s Voice. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Visit her:

And follow her on Twitter @Raine_Thomas


Monday Musings: Style vs. Substance – An Old Debate


by Kathleen Valentine

It happens all the time in the writer’s forums that I haunt. Somebody starts a discussion about “what is more important good writing or good story-telling?” Then a whole bunch of people chime in with their opinions and, on a fairly predictable basis, the hyperbole runs amok. The Story-first people start complaining about writers whose “flowery” language and ten page of a woman “agonizing about her cat” or describing the curtains turns them off and the Style-first people start complaining about bumbling, inept writing that is so bad they can’t follow the story. Both are valid complaints and both – if they even exist – are books that I’d never read because my tolerance for bad writing is as low as it is for aimless writing.


That being said, when I think back on the books that I remember years after reading them, it is the style more than the substance that stays with me. I can still remember passages verbatim from Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, which I read at least a quarter century ago, but I’m not sure I could tell you the actual plot anymore. I remember the plot of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, one of the best books anybody ever wrote, but it is the writing that stays with me. The descriptions of the town and the people and, most of all, of Atticus, are still vivid in my memory.

I have often written that my most-often read book is Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast which really has no plot, but the images he paints with an economy of words are unforgettable.

The bottomline, of course, is that anything worth reading requires both – good writing and good story-telling – to have any longevity. Most people simply do not have enough time to read and we want to put that time to good use. I realize there are a lot of people who, once they start a book, feel obliged to finish it. I am not among them. Life’s too short to waste on mediocre writing and mediocre story-telling. The way I see it is “good writing” is defined as writing I don’t really notice, except for the fact that there is all this visual music going on in my head. Nobody is better at that than Ray Bradbury was. I can remember sitting down with a huge book that was a collection of his short stories and, after reading 2 or 3, stopping because my “mental movies,” my fictive dreams, were so delicious that I wanted to savor them awhile before piling on another one.

The fictive dream is what it is all about. More than anything, to me, it is about the characters, whether they are in pursuit of a bad guy and wrecking havoc as they go, or learning about their own strengths and weaknesses and coming to terms with that. Years ago I got into an argument discussion with someone who had just read Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and hated it. I love that book. My friend said it was a stupid book about a bunch of spoiled, miserable kids who were drunk all the time and decided to kill one of their friends. In actuality I couldn’t argue with that, BUT it was the unique and fascinating characters of the people involved that made the story so engrossing. On the surface maybe her assessment had merit, but every character in that story was so unique, so meticulously crafted, that I found them/find them unforgettable. Obnoxious, overbearing Bunny with all his issues from his ridiculously pretentious family. Effete, snobbish Francis with no emotional anchor. Lonely, striving Richard trying to hide his past. The wonderful twins, Charles and Camilla, sweet and yet totally amoral. And, of course, aloof, intellectually-gifted but socially-backward Henry with his intense longing. Who could not be mesmerized by them? When I was reading that book I was so deeply into  the fictive dream of their world that looking up from the page became nearly impossible.

I suppose arguing about style vs. substance really amounts to little more than writerly masturbation for people who should shut up and get back to work on their manuscripts, but I do find it interesting. A friend of mine, who has taught literature in a small college for thirty years, often talks about “Intellectual muscle.” Some readers have it and some don’t, and, mercifully, there are plenty of books for both kinds of people. What challenges one reader, bores another. One is not necessarily better than the other and provides opportunity for a vast range of writers.

Thanks for reading.

Focus Friday: The Bones of the Earth, by Scott Bury


“They’ll follow us, you know, to get the girls back. And to revenge their dead guard,” Hrech said. “You’re right. Well, we’ll have to kill all of them. First save the girls, take them someplace safe, then sneak back and cut their throats while … [Continue reading]

Win-a-Book Wednesday: A Silent Prayer by Samreen Ahsan

Win a FREE e-copy of Award Winning A Silent Prayer : A Prayer Series I "An intense, joltingly modern love story." —KIRKUS Set in the beautiful city of Toronto, this captivating and thrilling romance takes you to a romantic journey with Adam … [Continue reading]

Monday Musings: There’s A Dead Guy in My Cellar (Pass the Cookies)

knitting lady2

by Kathleen Valentine A few years ago I got this bright idea – yes, I know, I get a lot of them – for a story. There was this character knocking around in my brain. Her name was Cecelia McGill, called Cece for short, and she reminded me a lot of, … [Continue reading]

Focus Friday: Special Agent Francesca, by Mimi Barbour

“This airport facility ultimately convinced me to pursue the position here in Las Vegas—that and the wonderful weather which will enable me to get in more flying time.” A boulder lodged in his throat and it took a while before his voice broke free. … [Continue reading]

Win-a-Book Wednesday: Dark Lava, by Toby Neal


Win a free e-copy of Toby Neal's latest thriller, released July 2014:   Maui is sacred places, ancient artifacts, and the dark lava of the deepest passions. Nothing ever goes easy for detectives Lei Texeira and Michael Stevens. An … [Continue reading]

Monday Musings: Ten Books that I Can’t Forget


by Kathleen Valentine There is a game going around Facebook now in which people list ten books that they cannot forget and challenge other friends to do the same. It took me awhile to get around to making my list but it didn't take me any time at … [Continue reading]

Audio Focus Friday: Seb Kirby’s Take No More

This week, Focus Friday shifts into audible mode with an excerpt from Seb Kirby's new audiobook version of the bestselling thriller Take No More, narrated by Shiromi Arserio. Take No More is a captivating story of crime, corruption and duplicity. … [Continue reading]

Focus Friday: Arcadia’s Gift

Nine By Night-E-BOOK Cover2

By Jesi Lea Ryan “I better go—” “Are we ever going to talk about it?” We spoke at the same time, our eyes finally meeting, the pale green of his irises locked on mine like a trap. I couldn’t turn away. My breath caught in my throat. His hand … [Continue reading]