Easter Monday Musings: Do you love to talk about books?

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Do you love to talk about books? One thing I’d like to do is drink a cup of coffee and talk about books with readers and writers.

I love chatting with readers, but I want more than the usual “Where do you get your ideas from?” I’d like to hear about more specific aspects of the reading experience.

What do you like to talk about when it comes to your favorite books or favorite writers?

What about characters? Do you want the stock heroes and heroines, the Jack Reachers and Jets, the ones who can defeat any foe without question? Or do you prefer the kind of protagonist with weaknesses, flaws, who isn’t certain to win every contest?

What about stories? Many romances today follow the arc of 50 you-know-what: smart, educated but poor young woman meets gorgeous but damaged billionaire. After overcoming several barriers, their love blooms. Does that still have you flipping pages (or swiping left on your e-reader)? Or are you yearning for something different.

Personally, I find the boundaries between genres annoying. In recent years, there has been a profusion of books that combine, or cross, the paranormal or fantasy and romance genres. Do you like that? Are there genres that you’d like to see combined? How about horror and steampunk?

Or what about creating a new genre? What are the books that you’d like to read, but haven’t been written yet?

I also want to know what you want to hear from authors. Are there specific questions, like “Why does the heroine go into that room when she knows the axe murderer is hiding in there?” Or “Why doesn’t he just ask her out, already?”

So tell me what appeals to you in your favourite books, and ask me—or any BestSelling Reads member author—what you’d like to know.

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Thursday Teaser: Once Upon a [Stolen] Time

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By Samreen Ahsan

Once Upon A [Stolen\ TimeShe is standing in my courtyard. Everything in nature surrounds her—hugs her and is dazzled by her…including me.

Beautiful flowers of every hue and aroma are grown in this majestic garden. My eyes are burning; I’m simultaneously overwhelmed and awed by the colorful oasis. Never have I been so close to nature, to growing things. Her alchemy drives me mad.

She’s gifted me with all the colors, but I painted her with darkness.

As much as I crave feeling the sunlight and the flowers against my skin, I want her touch too. I am cursed and doomed to never experience the beauty of the natural world, for all eternity.

She watches me with extreme hatred in her eyes—her gaze throwing fireballs at me. She doesn’t know I’m already burning, but since she despises me so much, I can’t even dare to come close to her. I want to end this tortuous distance between us—but I was the one who created this hatred in her.

She was a beautiful tender rose—I stole her fragrance, crushed her petals and burned her in hell. If I knew the fire with which I was conflagrating her would come to engulf me—I swear I wouldn’t have done it. Her spell is too strong for me not to fall; her curse is too mighty for me to run away.

Her deadly yet magical existence haunts me, excites me and has thrown me into a pit of deep lust. She is my prisoner, but she doesn’t realize that I’m the one who’s already submitted to her slavery, when I first touched her.

Despite being her captor, I am still her captive.

About Once Upon a [Stolen] Time

2015…

GiftedMeAll her life, Myra Farrow has been obsessed with medieval castles—and the kings and princes who once inhabited them. Now, wealthy videogame designer Steve Bernard wants her to model for a princess character in his new game. Myra can’t resist his offer, especially when she learns that Steve plans to film inside the mysterious Hue Castle—a cursed, barren, colorless place forbidden to visitors for centuries. But unknown to Myra, her soul is bound to Hue Castle by blood and sorcery. When she enters its doors, she awakens dark powers that will reach through time—stealing her past, torturing her present, and rewriting her future.

1415…

Edward Hue, the last of the Hue royal bloodline, has never stood in the sunshine or held a living flower. Cursed from birth to live in darkness and bring death to all he touches, he is at the mercy of his cruel, tyrannical father, who will not rest until he shatters Edward’s soul and makes his son into a diabolical copy of himself. Edward’s one hope is the mysterious woman who haunts his dreams—who will either break his curse and bring him out of the darkness, or destroy him utterly.

For Myra and Edward, past and future collide in a tale of love, obsession, betrayal, and the hope for redemption.

Once Upon A [Stolen] Time is available at:

About the author

History, art and literature are Samreen Ahsan’s passions. She loves digging out information about prophecies, divine miracles and paranormal events that are mentioned in history and holy books, but don’t sound possible in today’s modern world.

She has been into reading and writing since childhood — it cannot happen without imagination, which luckily has no boundaries. Dance and music are also pastimes she enjoys, as well as reading romance fiction. I love to travel and explore historical cities.

Samreen Ahsan lives in Toronto, Canada. A Silent Prayer (A Prayer Series) is her first story about paranormal events based on Islamic concepts.

Visit her

Follow Samreen on

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Monday musings: My literary evolution

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By Elise Stokes

How have I evolved as a writer over the last five years, Scott Bury asked me. It’s a timely question, as I’m about to publish my fifth book YA book, Cassidy Jones & the Eternal Flame. So I’ve decided to answer his questions here.

How many books have you written?

Five—all in Cassidy Jones Adventures. The first installment, Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula, was published in 2010.

Written for a young adult audience, the series follows the life of teenage superhero Cassidy Jones. Each installment introduces a new mystery with plenty of pulse-pounding action, while continuing ongoing storylines.

How have the main characters developed or changed over the course of the series?

Cassidy has become more comfortable in her own skin and a powerful force to be reckoned with, though she has retained her naïve charm. She is fierce and loyal to a fault.

Emery Phillips’s “human-ness” leaks out more. He is still a Junior James Bond, but the reader is allowed glimpses behind his self-possessed veneer. As Cassidy sums Emery up in Eternal Flame: “Standing before me was a kid who didn’t have anything figured out any better than I did.”

How has your style changed over that same period?

As with any creative endeavor, the more you do it, the better you get. I don’t know if my writing style has changed per se. My skill has improved.

Has the way you write, or your process, evolved? For example, do you use outlines more or less now? What about the way you create characters or build worlds?

My writing process is as it has always been: chaotic. I don’t outline, or even think deeply about my stories. I just write and see what happens. Ideas and characters leap into my head as I’m writing, and sometimes I need to hit reverse and back way up, and sometimes something truly awesome develops because I wasn’t set on a particular course. I wouldn’t recommend this “free-spirited” approach. It isn’t efficient or productive, and it’s rather stressful to be frank, but for whatever reason it works for me.

When do you write? Is there a time of day, or a period during the week? A particular place you like to be to write?

I write when I have free time, which there never seems enough of. My brain is rendered to mush in the evenings, so I have to carve out time to write in the early morning or throughout the day between work and household tasks.

How do you create new characters?

I don’t know. They’re just suddenly there, and I learn more about their complexities with time.

Where do your ideas for plots originate?

Usually from an interesting conversation with my husband. In fact, he planted the seed for Cassidy Jones. Around eight years ago, we were brainstorming different story concepts, and he said, “You know what would be cool? A boy with enhanced senses.” I responded, “You know what would be even cooler? A girl with enhanced senses.”

Cassidy Jones’ and Emery Phillips’s latest adventure, Cassidy Jones & the Eternal Flame, will be out this spring. In the meantime, visit my website to find out more about this exciting series.

Elise Stokes lives with her husband and four children. She was an elementary school teacher before becoming a full-time mom. With a daughter in middle school and two in high school, Elise’s understanding of the challenges facing girls in that age range inspired her to create a series that will motivate girls to value individualism, courage, integrity, and intelligence.

The stories in Cassidy Jones Adventures are fun and relatable, and a bit edgy without taking the reader uncomfortably out of bounds. Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula, Cassidy Jones and Vulcan’s Gift, Cassidy Jones and the Seventh Attendant, Cassidy Jones and the Luminous, and Cassidy Jones and the Eternal Flame are the first five books in the series.

Visit her:

And follow her on Twitter @CassidyJonesAdv.

 

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Writer’s Block? Ask your readers for help!

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By DelSheree Gladden

CollegeDegrees360 / Creative Commons

CollegeDegrees360 / Creative Commons

One of my biggest pet peeves as a reader is a lackluster ending to a series I’ve put hours upon hours into. Because of that, in my own writing, I struggle to write those final few chapters to end a series. I want it to be perfect. I don’t want to forget something important or leave unanswered questions. I don’t want to disappoint my readers.

So, I freeze up.

Wicked Revenge GOLD FRONTWickedHungerwickedglorywickedpowerNormally, I’m a pretty fast writer. Not so much when it came to finishing my Someone Wicked This Way Comes Series. Originally intended to be a three-book series, I couldn’t wrap everything up at the end of book three and extended the series to four books. I knew the path I needed to take to the ending. It was the details and fear that were holding me up. For over a year.

My poor readers messaged, tweeted, emailed, and tagged me to ask when book four was coming. They tried to be patient, but they weren’t used to waiting on me so long. I just couldn’t get over the fear of disappointing them to get any substantial writing done.

After months of agonizing over whether I had everything straight, and even rereading the first three books to refresh my memory, I still wasn’t getting anything done. A few more messages came in, asking if I had a release date yet, if there was any news … gently prompting me to get a move on.

Suddenly it hit me: If I didn’t want to disappoint readers, why didn’t I just ask them what they wanted?

I don’t mean what ending they wanted. I needed to know what questions they needed answers to. What were they still wondering about after three books? What essential information would they be upset over if they didn’t get all the details? So, that’s exactly what I did.

I posted on my various social media accounts asking readers what questions they wanted answered in Wicked Revenge and what information absolutely had to have.

They told me. I ended up with two pages of notes from readers. Their questions. Their guesses. Things they had wondered about. Details they needed. What they hoped would happen to the characters even after the story ended. My readers are pretty awesome, so I wasn’t surprised that they were willing to respond and help me out. I was surprised by the effect of their responses.

Seeing how much they cared about the characters and story motivated me just as much as getting their lists of questions that still needed to be answered. I had my checklist of what needed to be wrapped up, and I had a crew of readers I knew were eagerly waiting to find out how the characters they loved were going to fare in their final battle against destiny, lies and inner demons. They gave me everything I needed to finally stop being afraid of disappointing them and actually give them the story they wanted and needed to read.

The relationship writers develop with their readers is so important. Yes, on some level I write for myself, but I write for my readers just as much. Publishing today isn’t what it used to be. A big change is the ability to easily interact with readers, to learn about them and from them. Writing has become more symbiotic, and it’s amazing to be able to ask a reader what they need out of a story and then be able to give it to them. It’s not always that simple, but if you’re stuck and unsure of where to take your writing, don’t be shy about asking your readers for help. They love being a part of the process just as much as they love finally getting their hands on the final product.

DelShereeGladden4DelSheree Gladden wrote her first novel when she was sixteen years old, but spent ten years rewriting and perfecting it before having it published. Native to New Mexico, DelSheree and her husband spent several years in Colorado for college and work before moving back home to be near family again. Their two children love having their seventeen cousins close by. When not writing, you can find DelSheree reading, painting, sewing and trying not to get bitten by small children in her work as a dental hygienist.
Check out her latest books, get updates and sneak peeks of new projects at

 

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Thursday teaser: Once Upon a [Stolen] Time

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Once Upon A [Stolen\ TimeThe Stolen Series I

By Samreen Ahsan

She is standing in my courtyard. Everything in nature surrounds her—hugs her and is dazzled by her…including me.

Beautiful flowers of every hue and aroma are grown in this majestic garden. My eyes are burning; I’m simultaneously overwhelmed and awed by the colorful oasis. Never have I been so close to nature, to growing things. Her alchemy drives me mad.

She’s gifted me with all the colors, but I painted her with darkness.

As much as I crave feeling the sunlight and the flowers against my skin, I want her touch too. I am cursed and doomed to never experience the beauty of the natural world, for all eternity.

She watches me with extreme hatred in her eyes—her gaze throwing fireballs at me. She doesn’t know I’m already burning, but since she despises me so much, I can’t even dare to come close to her. I want to end this tortuous distance between us—but I was the one who created this hatred in her.

She was a beautiful tender rose—I stole her fragrance, crushed her petals and burned her in hell. If I knew the fire with which I was conflagrating her would come to engulf me—I swear I wouldn’t have done it. Her spell is too strong for me not to fall; her curse is too mighty for me to run away.

Her deadly yet magical existence haunts me, excites me and has thrown me into a pit of deep lust. She is my prisoner, but she doesn’t realize that I’m the one who’s already submitted to her slavery, when I first touched her.oust-graphic2

Despite being her captor, I am still her captive.

She walks toward me, enthralling me with her grace and beauty, altering and accelerating my heartbeat. She has the power to throw me into hell as well as show me heaven. I’ve never been able to understand her witchcraft. I was warned to stay away from her sorcery—she was born and cursed with it—yet my heart kept running after her.

Now…there’s nothing left for me to survive on. She has my heart and my soul. Why is she here? What does she want from me now? Perhaps she wants to cut my heart from my body…just to see if it’s beating for her or not.

The distance between us closes and I lean my back against the giant tree trunk—the same tree where I tried to write her fate. She is holding my sword—my only weapon of protection—but it doesn’t matter now. She wants my life for her eternal peace—I will give it to her.

Her steel-grey eyes are much stronger than any armor or shield I’m wearing. She doesn’t need my sword to kill me…all she needs to do is place her hand on my heart. I will be undone…forever.

About Once Upon a [Stolen] Time

2015…

All her life, Myra Farrow has been obsessed with medieval castles—and the kings and princes who once inhabited them. Now, wealthy videogame designer Steve Bernard wants her to model for a princess character in his new game. Myra can’t resist his offer, especially when she learns that Steve plans to film inside the mysterious Hue Castle—a cursed, barren, colorless place forbidden to visitors for centuries. But unknown to Myra, her soul is bound to Hue Castle by blood and sorcery. When she enters its doors, she awakens dark powers that will reach through time—stealing her past, torturing her present, and rewriting her future.

1415…

Edward Hue, the last of the Hue royal bloodline, has never stood in the sunshine or held a living flower. Cursed from birth to live in darkness and bring death to all he touches, he is at the mercy of his cruel, tyrannical father, who will not rest until he shatters Edward’s soul and makes his son into a diabolical copy of himself. Edward’s one hope is the mysterious woman who haunts his dreams—who will either break his curse and bring him out of the darkness, or destroy him utterly.oust-graphic3

For Myra and Edward, past and future collide in a tale of love, obsession, betrayal, and the hope for redemption.

Read Once Upon a [Stolen] Time on WATTPAD

Praise for the book:

“At the outset, I’d like to say I just love the premise of this book and think it would make an awesome movie; producers and film makers please check out this interesting novel.” – Kristin Ravelle (Author of The Everlasting Spell)

This book was hard to turn away from once you start reading it, it’s that good. It should be made into a movie or tv series 5-Stars!” – Country Girl Bookaholic Book Blog

“It’s impossible you will not love Once Upon A [Stolen] Time. 5-stars!” – Tine’s Review Book Blog

“Author’s style is magical in itself as she sets the past and present onto a direct collision course. 5-stars!” – Tome Tender Book Blog

“This book is amazing!!! This is the first Fantasy novel I’ve read in a while and I loved it.” – ‎NerdGirlLola’s Review

“If you are a fan of fantasy, romance and a hint of classic rewrite, this series should be on your radar.” – Penny for My Thoughts Blog

“The story is intense with dramatic moments, and suspense. Overall I felt Once Upon A Stolen Time was an enjoyable read and highly recommend to those who love Adult-Romantic-Fantasy. A definite five-star read!” – Amazon Reviewer

“This is a mesmerizing story that keeps you swiping your e-reader to get to the next page. It’s well worth a read.” – Scott Bury (Author of Army of Worn Soles)

“The plot is really good. The author thought of every detail and the story has no flaws or holes. 4.5 Stars!” – Reading…Dreaming Book Blog

“Heartwarming read that will make you realize that true love holds no bounds.” – Ms. Me28 Book Blog

Where to buy it

About the author

History, art and literature are my passions. I love digging out information about prophecies, divine miracles and paranormal events that are mentioned in history and holy books, that don’t sound possible in today’s modern world.

Since childhood, I have been into reading and writing—and yes, it can’t happen without imagination, which luckily has no boundaries. Dance and music are also pastimes I enjoy, as well as reading romance fiction. I love to travel and explore historical cities.

A Prayer Series” is my first Multi-Award-Winning Series sabout paranormal events based on Islamic concepts.

Find me on:

And follow my on Twitter @SamAuthorCanada.

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Thursday teaser: Awakening

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Book 1 of The Redeemer Chronicles

NEW from Julie C. Gilbert

Awakening“Blueberries!” I might have squeaked a little. They’re my favorite, and they never grow in the bushes around my home.

“Are you sure they are not baydonberries again?” Katrina inquires. “It is not exactly the right season for blueberries.”

The thought quenches some of my enthusiasm.

“I’m never going to live that one down, am I?” Tellen groans.

“Nope,” I answer, forcing a weak smile. My stomach clenches at the thought of the disastrous surprise he’d given us about a year ago. Baydonberries look almost exactly like blueberries, except that they have tiny white flecks in the fleshy part. They taste almost the same too. Unfortunately, they have amazingly thorough cleansing abilities. I think I puked up everything but my intestines and then had other unpleasant side effects for two days.

“People tend to remember when you almost kill them,” Katrina points out.

“These are the real thing,” Tellen insists. “Look.” He reaches into his pocket and draws forth a fat, luscious berry. “I’ll prove it.” With a flick of his wrist, Tellen flings the berry up into the air and moves to catch it in his mouth.

Faster than I can track, Katrina turns into a snake, coils, and springs, intercepting the berry mid-flight. She spits it at the fire where it explodes with a force strong enough to knock Tellen back a step.

“Whoa!” Even in the flickering firelight, Tellen’s skin looks paler now.

Back in human form, Katrina frowns, looking both surprised and annoyed with herself for intervening.

“You really should leave the berry hunting to Vic.”

I agree, but I’m too stunned to speak. My mouth just opens and closes for a while. Normal baydonberries will briefly turn a flame a deep purple color, but I’ve never heard of one exploding.

“Perhaps you should remove the rest from your pockets,” Katrina suggests.

Tellen fumbles in his right pocket, only too eager to comply. In his haste, he drops another one into the fire. It bursts into flames, causing a shower of sparks to fly out at us. I duck instinctively, dunking my chin into my stew bowl. Setting the bowl aside, I brush my chin with the back of my hand, hoping nobody saw that.

While I recover my dignity, Katrina assumes her snake form and curls into a defensive coil. She stays like that for three heartbeats beyond the last spark’s death before returning to normal.

“Where did you find them?” I ask.

“Just over there,” Tellen says, pointing back up the way we’d come this afternoon. “Behind that outcropping. There must be hundreds of them up there.”

“Show me,” orders Katrina. The next instant she’s a dog on high alert. Her ears perk up and her muscles tense. She barks and nips at Tellen’s heels to let him know she means business.

Tellen looks like he wants to protest, but the cold glint in Katrina’s eyes convinces him resistance would be futile—and possibly painful.

“Stay here,” he orders me, before taking off at a sprint.

Stay here by myself with a dying fire. Uh, no, not a chance.

About Awakening

Victoria Saveron knows two things for certain. Dark forces want to kill her, and her friends have cooler powers than she does. Katrina can shapeshift and Tellen can tap into destructive magic currents.

Everything else is uncertain and rumors abound.

Victoria might be the Chosen One, whatever that means. Her father might be able to help them, but only if they can find him. Coldhaven’s villagers might be able to offer them food and shelter. Some fool might be running around unlocking Darkland portals to raise an undead army.

The further Victoria and her companions get on their journey, the more dangers and betrayals they face. The must awaken Vic’s true powers or forfeit the world.

Get it on Amazon.

About the author

Julie Gilbert 2013Teaching and writing make up about 90% of my life. The other smidgen would probably be split between Legos, Star Wars collecting, and drinking decaf coffee or a strong peppermint tea. I might also be a candy addict. I occasionally do puzzles, but crossword puzzles bore me. I’m more of a word search gal because there’s always a chance of winning those.

Visit me on:

And follow me on Twitter: @authorgilbert or @jilliananddeli.

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Teaser Thursday: Ashlynn’s Dreams

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By Julie Gilbert

AshLynnsDreamsCoverI had another one of those weird dreams where I can hear a conversation I know I shouldn’t be able to. Sometimes I fight these dreams by pushing ’em back and pretending I never heard ’em. It ain’t normal to hear things while you’re sleeping. Only Nana and Dr. S. know it ever happens, but I trust ’em both not to blab it across the world. If we told most doctors, they’d probably wanna study me or something. It’s our secret. I had to tell someone, so this ought to do the trick.

Oh, I suppose Danielle knows, too, but she wouldn’t say nothing to the wrong people. Daddy Three knows, too. Well, I’ll be a monkey’s kid cousin; a lot of people know my secret.

Don’t fret. Don’t fret. No threat means don’t worry yet. Nana said that so it must be true.

“Darren—”

“Shut up; no names!” snapped another man, obviously Darren.

I recognized his voice as that of the first man who kidnapped me.

“You want the little freak to wake up and come hunting you down someday?” demanded Darren.

“You’ve been watching way too many movies, man. That stuff I gave her would take down an angry pit bull.”

“You don’t know these kids like I do,” Darren muttered. “Freaks, all of them.”

“I thought you said we only wanted the little kid. I don’t like this complication. The—”

“You saw how the kid reacted,” Darren replied. His voice sounded quiet but mean, like a coiled spring fixing to take someone’s eye out. “Besides, kidnapping and murder will draw just as much attention as a double kidnapping. This way, at least the boss can put his own spin on it. He can kill the other girl later if he wants, but it’s a lot harder to undo a murder.”

The two men fell quiet.

“Aw, stop it. You’re like an old, worrying woman,” Darren said, breaking the brief silence. “We’re getting paid well enough, aren’t we?”

“Money’s one thing, but I didn’t sign on to snatch kids.”

“Think of her as an overgrown lab rat,” Darren said soothingly. “The experiment failed, and we’re here to clean up the mess.”

“Clean up? As in kill?”

That’s all of the conversation I remember. Only hearing part of the conversation is probably the most frustrating part of the dreams. Overall, it’s a pretty useless skill to have, though I must say I’ve probably overhead more Christmas and birthday gifts than anyone else in the world. The downside is that anytime I say something I’m not supposed to know Momma just thinks I’ve been eavesdropping on her. I guess she’s right, but subconscious eavesdropping don’t count. Dr. S. says I ought to tell Momma about the dreams, but she don’t know Momma like I do. Momma would probably bust a button if she knew.

Win a copy!

Answer this question in the Comments section (link at top) to be eligible for a draw for a free e-copy of Ashlynn’s Dreams:

What are the names of Devya’s Children and what are their Gifts?

About Ashlynn’s Dreams (Devya’s Children Book 1)

Twelve-year-old Jillian Blairington is just an ordinary girl—bright, brave, and sometimes a bit too headstrong for her own good. She never thought she was particularly special or different than anybody else.

She was wrong.

Everything changes the day she and her babysitter, Danielle, are kidnapped and taken to a secret scientific facility. There Jillian learns she has a new name, Ashlynn, and a strange connection to the other children at the lab. They each have powerful abilities, Gifts that Jillian doesn’t quite understand. As if that wasn’t enough to absorb, Jillian discovers she has a Gift of her own—the power to enter other people’s dreams.

Jillian’s task seems simple enough: the scientists want her to use her ability to find another Gifted child who has disappeared. But the longer Jillian stays in the facility, the more she realizes that nothing is as it seems … and everybody has secrets. Besides, the boy’s life is not the only one at stake. The scientists will stop at nothing to force Jillian’s cooperation, even if that means threatening Danielle.

Jillian knows they have to get free. But after all they’ve seen, will they ever truly escape?

About the author

Julie Gilbert 2013Teaching and writing make up about 90% of my life. The other smidgen would probably be split between Legos, Star Wars collecting, and drinking decaf coffee or a strong peppermint tea. I might also be a candy addict. I occasionally do puzzles, but crossword puzzles bore me. I’m more of a word search gal because there’s always a chance of winning those.

Visit Julie on:

And follow her on Twitter: @authorgilbert or @jilliananddeli.

 

 

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Focus Friday: Becoming

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Becoming_coverBy Raine Thomas

“Gabriel.”

Jerking away from the railing at the sound of Amber’s voice, Gabriel  turned and saw her in the driveway. A grin pulled at his mouth despite the awkwardness of the situation. Then he noticed that she wasn’t moving and her arms were stiff at her sides. The plastic bags in her hands shook.

Instantly alert, he hurried to her side and took the bags from her. “Hey, Am. You okay?”

She took a deep breath. He couldn’t see her eyes behind her sunglasses, but he feared they were more gold than her usual brown. Like last time.

Then she whispered, “I just had a surge.”

“You mean…a surge?” His voice was equally soft and intense. They hadn’t discussed this at all in the past three years. Since the last one.

“Not a full one. Maybe a, um, prelude.”

His jaw tightening briefly, he nodded. “Okay. We’ll both be on alert. You’re okay now?”

“I think so. Yeah.”

Michelle stepped off the porch and approached them. “Trying to fit in better, loser?” she said in a snarky voice, staring at Amber. “Well it’s a little late now. Four years of high school with frizzy hair, no makeup and unpolished nails, and now this? Please.”

Taking a closer look, Gabriel realized what Michelle meant. Amber’s hair had been tamed and trimmed, and was styled around her face in a way that drew attention to her features. Her full, heart-shaped lips were coated in light pink gloss. And when he glanced at her long, lovely fingers, he saw the polish Michelle mentioned.

Feeling like an ass for not noticing, he turned to Michelle. “You need to move your car.”

With a huff of disgust, she flounced past them and climbed into her car. Then she started the engine and tore out of the driveway, almost getting creamed by a car on Highway 29 in the process. They watched her departure in silence.

“There are more bags in Mrs. B’s car,” Amber said at last. Her tone clearly indicated that she didn’t want to discuss the surge. He would certainly respect that.

“Okay.” He couldn’t seem to stop staring at her.

“Mrs. B took me to her salon after karate,” she explained. She sounded as though it had been quite a trial for her. “It was my graduation present.”

“Ah.”

“Don’t you dare laugh,” she ordered. Then she sighed, lifted her sunglasses and looked at him.

“I’m not going to laugh,” he managed, hoping he wasn’t gawking like a total dweeb. “You look—” Gorgeous. Amazing. So beautiful you make my chest hurt. “Very nice.”

“Yeah, right. Well, come on. Let’s move Mrs. B’s car and get the rest of the bags.”

“Sure.”

But rather than move, they both looked again where Michelle’s car had been. Amber lifted an eyebrow and glanced at him sideways.

“You know if we had a pet rabbit that Michelle would probably end up boiling it on our stove Fatal Attraction-style after all that, right?”

“Shut up,” he said.

About Becoming:

“Here’s a book that will rock your world, make you smile, and keep you guessing.”
—Bestselling author Chelsea Fine

Every three years, Amber Hopkins explodes. Okay, not a blown-to-smithereens explosion, but whatever it is always hurts like hell and leaves her life a shambles. She’s already worked her way through five foster placements, and she’s doing whatever she can to avoid getting blasted into a sixth.

As her eighteenth birthday approaches and she feels the strange and powerful energy building, disaster looms. When the inevitable explosion occurs, her life gets its biggest shakeup yet. She’ll not only learn how her fellow foster and best friend, Gabriel, really feels about her, but she’ll discover that she isn’t really without family.

To top it all off, she’ll finally find out why she’s having the power surges: she isn’t entirely human.

Amber must Become, transitioning to another plane of existence and risking the loss of the most important relationship she’s ever had. Her choice will impact the future of an entire race of beings, and will pit her against an enemy that will prey upon her doubt to try and take her very life.

Kind of makes the explosions now seem like a cakewalk.

Where to get Becoming

About the author

Raine Thomas Headshot (small)Raine Thomas is the award-winning author of bestselling young adult and new adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine recently signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen. She’s a proud indie author who is living the dream. 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.

Where to find Raine online:

And follow her on Twitter @Raine_Thomas.

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Focus Friday: Once Upon a [Stolen] Time

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By Samreen Ahsan

OneUponAStolenTimeShe is standing in my courtyard. Everything in nature surrounds her—hugs her and is dazzled by her…including me.

Beautiful flowers of every hue and aroma are grown in this majestic garden. My eyes are burning; I’m simultaneously overwhelmed and awed by the colorful oasis. Never have I been so close to nature, to growing things. Her alchemy drives me mad.

She’s gifted me with all the colors, but I painted her with darkness.

As much as I crave feeling the sunlight and the flowers against my skin, I want her touch too. I am cursed and doomed to never experience the beauty of the natural world, for all eternity.

She watches me with extreme hatred in her eyes—her gaze throwing fireballs at me. She doesn’t know I’m already burning, but since she despises me so much, I can’t even dare to come close to her. I want to end this tortuous distance between us—but I was the one who created this hatred in her.

She was a beautiful tender rose—I stole her fragrance, crushed her petals and burned her in hell. If I knew the fire with which I was conflagrating her would come to engulf me—I swear I wouldn’t have done it. Her spell is too strong for me not to fall; her curse is too mighty for me to run away.

Her deadly yet magical existence haunts me, excites me and has thrown me into a pit of deep lust. She is my prisoner, but she doesn’t realize that I’m the one who’s already submitted to her slavery, when I first touched her.

Despite being her captor, I am still her captive.

About Once Upon a [Stolen] Time

All her life, Myra Farrow has been obsessed with medieval castles—and the kings and princes who once inhabited them. Now, wealthy videogame designer Steve Bernard wants her to model for a princess character in his new game. Myra can’t resist his offer, especially when she learns that Steve plans to film inside the mysterious Hue Castle—a cursed, barren, colorless place forbidden to visitors for centuries. But unknown to Myra, her soul is bound to Hue Castle by blood and sorcery. When she enters its doors, she awakens dark powers that will reach through time—stealing her past, torturing her present, and rewriting her future.

1415…

Edward Hue, the last of the Hue royal bloodline, has never stood in the sunshine or held a living flower. Cursed from birth to live in darkness and bring death to all he touches, he is at the mercy of his cruel, tyrannical father, who will not rest until he shatters Edward’s soul and makes his son into a diabolical copy of himself. Edward’s one hope is the mysterious woman who haunts his dreams—who will either break his curse and bring him out of the darkness, or destroy him utterly.

For Myra and Edward, past and future collide in a tale of love, obsession, betrayal, and the hope for redemption.

Once Upon a [Stolen] Time publishes on December 1, 2015.

About the author

samreen-ahsanHistory, art and literature are Samreen Ahsan’s passions. She loves digging out information about prophecies, divine miracles and paranormal events that are mentioned in history and holy books, but don’t sound possible in today’s modern world.

She has been into reading and writing since childhood — it cannot happen without imagination, which luckily has no boundaries. Dance and music are also pastimes she enjoys, as well as reading romance fiction. I love to travel and explore historical cities.

Samreen Ahsan lives in Toronto, Canada. A Prayer Series, incorporating A Silent Prayer and A Prayer Heeded, was her first story about paranormal events based on Islamic concepts. Her new work, Once Upon a [Stolen] Time, is her third published novel.

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Win-a-Book Wednesday: The Bones of the Earth

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By Scott Bury

Bones Cover 3

Win a copy of bestselling The Bones of the Earth. Just name the major world city that the hero, Javor, travels to.

About the book

The Dark Age, eastern Europe: the earth has decided to rid itself of humanity with earthquakes, volcanoes and new plagues. Civilizations, even the mighty Roman Empire, crumble under the pressure of barbarian waves that are fleeing worse terrors.

Rejected by his own people, pursued by a dragon, young Javor heads for Constantinople, the centre of civilization, looking for answers to the puzzle of his great-grandfather’s dagger and the murder of his family.

On the ancient, crumbling Roman highway across haunted, deserted Dacia, Javor rescues the beautiful Danisa from a human sacrifice. He cannot help falling in love with her. But Danisa has her own plans, and when she is kidnapped again, Javor has to wonder: what is the connection between his dagger, his lover and his enemies?

Read a sample chapter.

You can find the book on

About the author

Scott Bury is a journalist, editor and writer living in Ottawa, Canada. His articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia, including Macworld, the Ottawa Citizen, the Financial Post, Marketing, Canadian Printer, Applied Arts, PEM, Workplace, Advanced Manufacturing and others.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He holds a BA from Carleton University’s School of Journalism. He has two sons, an orange cat and a loving wife who puts up with a lot.

Read his full bio on his BestSelling Reads Author page.

And visit his:

And follow him on Twitter @ScottTheWriter.

 

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