Interview with Kristi Helvig, Author of Burn Out

kristi

Writer Kristi Helvig makes her authorial debut with her young adult sci-fi novel “Burn Out” (Egmont USA) in spring 2014.

Helvig was born in North Carolina and grew up in Delaware. She holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla. She has spent her career in Colorado as a successful clinical psychologist and life coach. She regularly gives lectures
as a professional psychologist and visits schools where she talks with students about books and publishing.

Helvig has contributed as a guest blogger at LiteraryRambles.com and keeps her own blog updated with musings about “Star Trek,” space monkeys, books and other assorted topics.

The geek-for-science-fiction lives outside of Denver, Colo., with her husband of 17 years, two children and their behaviorally challenged dogs. In her spare time, Helvig practices yoga, hikes and loves trying new wines.

Visit Kristi online at http://www.kristihelvig.com/

How did you research the true science involved in “Burn Out?”

Google is a writer’s best friend and I always start there, but it can only take you so far. I watched a lot of documentaries on NatGeo, Science Channel, etc. and then contacted an astrophysics department at a large university. Nothing beats talking to experts in the field, and I was flattered that they took time out of their busy schedules to help me.

As you were learning about these scientific concepts, was there anything that surprised you?

I learned that sending all the world’s nuclear weapons into the sun wouldn’t cause it to burn out. Who knew? Finding a plausible way for the sun to burn out early was challenging, and where I definitely relied on assistance from astrophysicists.

Tell us about the themes you explored in the book and what you hope they mean to readers.

Trust is a huge theme throughout the book, as well as how to move forward after devastating losses. Weapons also play a big role in the book. New technology in my main character’s world has allowed for smarter, more lethal guns and she struggles with their impact on Earth’s remaining survivors.

Did your work as a clinical psychologist influence your writing?

Absolutely. I’ve seen hundreds of clients over the years and though everyone processes events according to their unique perspective, the experiences of love, fear, pain, and loss are common to humanity. It’s interesting to see how people interpret life events within their own personal construct.

What do you like about writing science fiction?burn out

That’s easy. I get to make up whole new worlds and then see what happens when I let characters loose in them. It’s creative and fun, and I get paid to do it. I couldn’t imagine anything better.

What advice do you have for other aspiring writers?

Never give up. Eat lots of chocolate. Drink lots of wine. Seriously though, the most important thing is to keep writing and find some good, honest critique partners…and then listen to them. Always strive to improve your craft. Read a lot. Reading is just as important to me as writing.

If your book were turned into a movie, who would you like to see play Tora, Markus and James?

What a fun question! I think Emily Browning would make a kick-ass Tora, and Skylar Astin as Markus would be awesome. James is tougher. Either Cam Gigandet or Alexander Ludwig is close to how I pictured James as I wrote him.

Who are some of your favorite science fiction and fantasy writers?

Lois Lowry, Madeleine L’Engle, Isaac Asimov, and Ray Bradbury to name a few. Additionally, though they’re not straight sci-fi writers, Neil Gaiman and Stephen King have had a huge influence on me.

What’s the best compliment you’ve received about your book so far?

My favorite so far was when a fellow author told me how much she loved my main character, Tora, and called her “the female Han Solo.” You can’t get a cooler compliment than that.

Is there a second “Burn Out” book in the works?

Yes, I’m hard at work on the second book, and I’m having a blast with it.

Hardcover, $17.99; eBook, $13.07
ISBN: 978-1606844793
Young Adult Science Fiction, 272 pages
Egmont USA, April 8, 2014

Purchase here!

Interview with Sallie Haws, Author of Quantum Spirit: Apocalypse

sallie haws

As the great-granddaughter of the inventor of the drinking fountain and founder of Haws Corporation, Sallie Haws put her UC Santa Barbara bachelor’s degree in organizational psychology to work to make a positive impact on her family’s business. Sallie held numerous jobs in the company over her 26-year tenure from file clerk to President and CEO.

At a young age, Sallie’s passion for writing was fed by taking creative writing classes in high school and college. It was nursed along throughout her adult years by a voracious reading habit of paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy novels.

After selling the family business in 2011, Sallie finally had the time and inspiration to write.

“Quantum Spirit – Apocalypse” (August 2013, Fedd Books) is the culmination of years of personal and professional life experience combined with the
desire to empower, entertain and inspire adults and teenagers.

Sallie lives in Reno, Nevada, with her husband, son, daughter and black kitty named Chubs.

Visit Sallie online at www.quantumspiritbooks.com 

 

Salena Hawthorne, the teen heroine in “Quantum Spirit: Apocalypse,” is incredibly smart, strong and courageous. What do you want readers to learn from her?

I would love for them to learn how to tap into their own innate power and abilities. After being a business leader and mentor for many years, I decided to take what I’ve learned and share that with eager and open-minded young women through an entertaining and non-threatening medium.

My personal reading genre of choice is paranormal urban fantasy. However, I didn’t want to write a book about vampires or were-creatures. There are some awesome authors out there who do that extremely well, and I didn’t think it needed to be done again. I also wanted to write a book with a positive outlook for humanity’s future. I’m a little tired of the dystopian genre. I wanted to create a state of wonder with my audience. Our world is so full of fear and discord; it’s time to imagine a world full of love and connectedness.

On the surface, “Quantum Spirit” is a fun, easy read about a young girl who has some amazing abilities and some fantastic adventures. But the deeper you get into the book, the more profound the story becomes. Can you expand on that?

For many, the quick surface read will be enough. For those with a little more curiosity, dropping down one level, the premise of the book is how deadly fear can be, and how love, gratitude and forgiveness is the antidote. The third level introduces some metaphysical and spiritual concepts that are currently being practiced and taught all over the world. In that regard, “Quantum Spirit – Apocalypse” could almost be considered realistic fiction.sallie

How did you come up with the idea of giving Salena all of these different gifts – clairvoyance, seeing auras and traveling between dimensions?

I actually had a dream about a young girl who could change her body’s vibrational resonance that allowed her to disappear in the Third Dimension and travel to the Fifth Dimension. So that gift was the first one I came up with, but then I needed to provide reasonable cause as to why she might develop such a talent. Being an exceptionally strong clairvoyant at a young age I felt would lead credence to the development of more advanced abilities at the onset of puberty. Being able to see auras just seemed to make the package complete.

If you could have any the abilities that Salena has in your book, which would you pick and why?

I think my first choice would definitely be the ability to transcend dimensions. Being able to teleport anywhere in the world would seriously cut down on my travel expenses! Not to mention the money I would save on new clothes and accessories that I could instantly manifest while in the Fifth Dimension. As distracting as I’m sure it would be, the ability to see auras would be my second choice.

Crystals play an important role in “Quantum Spirit.” Can you tell us a little about them?

The two main types of crystals that play a role in the book are Selenite and Quartz. The use of Selenite came about by pure synchronicity. It was completely coincidental that the majestic crystal caves in Niaca, Mexico where I chose to put the Akashic Records were made of selenite. Selenite was named after the Greek word for moon, and Selene is the name for the Greek Goddess of the Moon. (I had named my heroine Salena way before I discovered the crystal caves and what type of crystals were in them.) After researching all of the physical and metaphysical properties of selenite, I knew that if the Akashic Records were ever going to be located in a single place, they would definitely be stored in those crystal caves.

I chose quartz for the healing ceremony because that is the first choice for metaphysical practitioners who use crystals to augment their healing practice. Quartz crystals are able to structure, store, amplify, focus, transmit and transform energy, which includes matter, thought, emotion and other forms of information. They were the best tool I could give Salena to allow her to trap the negative energy of the Blue Flu.

Did you do a lot of research while writing “Quantum Spirit?”

Yes. While the story is fiction, all of the metaphysical, spiritual and scientific concepts in the book are based on theories and research done by many different people. I read and/or referenced at least 13 different books and I don’t know how many dozens of websites on the various different concepts that I weaved into my story. Links to the books are all listed on my website.

Do you believe in the paranormal?

Absolutely. In fact, I believe in every one of the metaphysical concepts I put into Quantum Spirit: Apocalypse, even the existence of the Fifth Dimension. That doesn’t mean I have the ability to do any of the “paranormal” things that Salena can do, but I do believe they are possible.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes, I’ve always wanted to write a novel my whole life. My first attempt was in seventh grade, and there were a couple of other ones after that. After selling the family business in 2011, I knew I wanted to take this opportunity to finally write, but I didn’t have what I felt was a compelling enough story. In June of 2011, while on a houseboat vacation on Lake Shasta, I dreamed about a young girl who could change her body’s vibrational level and travel back and forth from the third dimension to the fifth dimension. Upon awakening, I walked out to the living room where my husband, son and his friends were eating breakfast and announced to the group, “I have my story.”

Without any spoilers, can you give us a hint of what to expect in your next book, “Quantum Spirit: Redemption?”

Salena has a lot of work ahead of her. On top of staying one step ahead of the nefarious goons who are trying to kidnap her, she must also continue to find a solution to help the millions of souls who are still trapped in stasis. Keeping track of Jace and trying to find a way to save him will also keep her rather busy, and she still has to pass eighth grade algebra.

Paperback, $12.99; eBook, $7.95
ISBN: 978-0989493406
Young Adult/Sci Fi, 418 pages
Fedd Books, Aug. 13, 2013
Purchase here!

Interview with Amalie Howard, Author of Alpha Goddess

howardA rising star among young adult writers, Amalie Howard developed a loyal following after releasing her debut book, “Bloodspell,” in 2011. Now, she is returning with five new books that are sure to excite her devoted fans and catch the attention of new readers.

A bookworm from the beginning, Howard grew up on a small island in the Caribbean with her nose buried in books. When she was just 13 years old, her poem “The Candle” was published in a University of Warwick journal, marking a sign of great things to come. Howard immersed herself into other cultures, globetrotting through 22 countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. After moving to the United States, she earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies and French from Colby College in Maine. She also holds a certificate in French literature from the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, France. Traveling around the world, Howard has lent talents as a research assistant, marketing representative, freelance writer, teen speaker, blogger and global sales executive.

Howard is a recipient of a Royal Commonwealth Society award, an international youth writing competition. She is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. 

Howard’s first book, “Bloodspell” (June 2011, Langdon Street Press) earned rave reviews and was named a Seventeen Magazine Summer Beach Read. Readers will hear more from Howard as she releases a pair of two-book series, “Waterfell” (November 2013, Harlequin TEEN) and “The Almost Girl” (January 2014, Strange Chemistry), as well as “Alpha Goddess” (March 2014, Skyhorse/Sky Pony Press) over the next two years.

Howard lives in New York with her husband, three children and one willful feline that she is convinced may have been a witch’s cat in a past life.

You released your first book “Bloodspell” in 2011, which led to an impressive five book publishing deals. How the heck do you have time to write so much, and what does it feel like to have your work recognized in such a great way?

I am so incredibly grateful that my wonderful editors saw something they loved in my books and wanted to publish them. All three of my upcoming novels—WATERFELL, THE ALMOST GIRL, and ALPHA GODDESS—each brings something different and unique to the table, so I’m really excited that readers will get to sample such a diverse range of what I have to offer as an author.

As far as writing so much, I’m very lucky that I’m a fast writer, so once I get an idea in my head, I just go. I plot a basic outline of my expectations, and then I let the story take me on its journey. And as I always say to my teen creative writing classes, writing is like homework. You have to make time for it and be diligent about doing it.

What will fans of “Bloodspell” like best about your upcoming titles?

Fans of BLOODSPELL will enjoy meeting some very special new characters and being introduced to completely different worlds—figuratively and literally, especially in THE ALMOST GIRL. In WATERFELL, I was particularly excited to share my love of the ocean (I grew up on an island) and surfing! I also wanted to explore the myth of the sea monster and shift it from something terrifying into something beautiful … enter the mysterious world of the Aquarathi!

I’ve always been fascinated by quantum mechanics (even though I was hopeless at physics in high school) and the possibility of alternate universes. In THE ALMOST GIRL, I was able to explore that and more in this book, like the whole concept of nature versus nurture and whether we evolve differently based on harsher environments. I think this book will take readers on an interesting journey.

In ALPHA GODDESS, I wanted to explore some of the stories I’d been told as a child. I also wanted to share some of my experience with readers. My father comes from a long line of Hindu priests, so these myths were a large part of my childhood. The Ramayana is a particularly beautiful love story, and while my novel is a work of fiction, I really enjoyed crafting my version from such an inspiring mythology.

Your next release, “Waterfell,” departs from the world of vampires and witches but stays in the realm of fantasy and science fiction. What do you like about those genres?

Clearly, I love escaping reality. Fantasy and science fiction have always been my true loves. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great contemporary novel as much as anyone, but getting lost in a an epic fantasy world or meeting characters from other planets who have superhuman powers is icing on the cake for me. I like being able to push the boundaries of reality, to create mind-boggling ‘what if’ scenarios … for example, with WATERFELL, what if sea monsters really did exist? And what if they were a species from another planet hiding on ours? And what if they could shift into human form? With science fiction and fantasy, the possibilities are endless.

Like all of your books so far, “The Almost Girl” features a strong, independent female character as the protagonist. What do you hope readers learn from her?

I’m a huge fan of strong female protagonists (that said, I do have a novel with a strong male protagonist so I’m not gender-biased). I do like strong protagonists on the whole, but I also do think there has to be character growth that is transparent and meaningful to the reader. No one’s going to relate to a character who stays the same. With Riven from THE ALMOST GIRL, I love that she has to dig deep down to embrace her emotions. A soldier first, she’s so hard on the outside but still vulnerable on the inside—I really connected with her struggle to just let go of all her rules and be a girl. We build so many walls to keep from being hurt that we don’t allow ourselves to connect with others. I love that she was brave enough to trust her heart. In the end, I’m hopeful that readers will empathize with Riven and learn, as she does, that humans are born to feel, and that being open to life and love doesn’t make you weaker … it makes you stronger.

“Alpha Goddess” is your take on an Indian mythological tale. Where did you first hear about it?Alpha

Although ALPHA GODDESS is a work of fiction, a lot of my inspiration for the characters and the world-building in this novel is based on Hindu mythology. My father is a second generation Brahmin (priest class in traditional Hindu society), so Indian mythology was an integral part of my childhood and religious education. Fascinated by stories and legends of various Hindu gods who incarnated as avatars to avert human tragedy, I wanted to write an epic story that encompassed some of the Hindu mythology elements I enjoyed as a child, like the Ramayana, the story of Rama and Sita. Of course, ALPHA GODDESS is my own invented take on another reincarnated version of these characters, and does not actually exist in Indian scriptures.

You are quite the world traveler. How do you incorporate the cultures you come across into your writing?

I love meeting new people and exploring different cultures. I really believe that traveling the world has helped me to craft my characters, especially the ones that aren’t human (whom I have to invent). How do they evolve? How are they different from regular people? How are they the same? I enjoy using elements and facets from all the different cultures I’ve interacted with over the years to develop compelling scenarios and create robust characters in my writing.

I also like to include some of my favorite cities in my novels, for example, Paris and New York in BLOODSPELL, San Diego, California in WATERFELL, and Fort Collins, Colorado in THE ALMOST GIRL. Although a writer can research anything online, writing about a place I’ve actually been to helps me to picture scenes and places more vividly. It allows me to create more authentic descriptions, so that my readers can feel like they are there, too.

We can only imagine you’re working on something new. Can you give us any sneak peek into the mind of Amalie Howard and what’s to come?

I’m working on several different projects. I’ve just finished writing OCEANBORN, which is the sequel to WATERFELL, and I’ve also just completed a near-future, technological YA thriller/romance, which has a male protagonist that I’m very excited about. That one is now in the capable hands of my agent. In addition to that, I have outlined a companion novel to ALPHA GODDESS, and I am about to start writing the sequel to THE ALMOST GIRL. Lastly, I’m fleshing out a joint project with another YA writer that’s super secret and under wraps for now. So yes, I’m busy, but I’m embracing it all (with a lot of gratitude).

Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 6 and up
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Sky Pony Press (March 18, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626362084
ISBN-13: 978-1626362086
PURCHASE HERE!

Guest Blogger: Michaela MacColl, Author of Always Emily (Giveaway)

Always Emily_FC

Emily and Charlotte Brontë are about as opposite as two sisters can be. Charlotte is practical and cautious; Emily is headstrong and imaginative. But they do have one thing in common: a love of writing. This shared passion will lead them to be two of the first published female novelists and authors of several enduring works of classic literature. But they’re not there yet. First, they have to figure out if there is a connection between a string of local burglaries, rumors that a neighbor’s death may not have been accidental, and the appearance on the moors of a mysterious and handsome stranger. The girls have a lot of knots to untangle—before someone else gets killed.

What’s Up with That Title? by Michaela MacColl

This week my new book Always Emily comes out. It’s the next novel in my series of literary mysteries – this one is about the Bronte sisters.  Charlotte Bronte (who would write Jane Eyre) is 18 and her sister Emily (of Wuthering Heights fame) is 17. The sisters get involved in a mystery on their very own moors – a mystery that threatens their peace of mind, their brother and father and even their lives.

If my story is about two sisters, what’s up with that title? Always Emily? I’ve had lots of  people ask me (especially my husband who gets this book mixed up with my last one about Emily Dickinson).  The truth is this book was originally written in alternating chapters, first Charlotte then Emily. These sisters, despite having an identical upbringing, were completely different from one another.

Charlotte was the eldest sister and she assumed responsibility for the family. She’s the one with the plan – to keep the family solvent, to find employment and to get the sisters published.  Emily, on the other hand, had zero ambitions other than to wander the moors and write her wild, uninhibited poetry and stories. Naturally Charlotte wrote about the repressed and moral Jane Eyre, while Emily penned a gothic melodrama of illicit love and revenge.

Jane Eyrewuthering heights

 

Ultimately I found the alternating narration way too confining. It didn’t seem fair to the reader to leave Charlotte locked in a trunk about to suffocate and then shift to Emily doing the most mundane of chores.  So I switched to a third person, but let each sister own their own chapters.  It worked so much better but I had to answer that pressing question, who is the main character?

bronte

I’m the eldest in my family and I’m the one who likes to plan – so my preference was Charlotte of course. But Emily was so much more fun! And if there’s to be a romance (and in these literary mysteries there is always a hint of some love in the air) Emily seems the more likely candidate. So Emily won out by a hair – Charlotte has adventures, but Emily is the main player.

Charlotte quite reasonably resents her sister’s lack of responsibilities. And how aggravating that Emily is the sister that attracts the masculine attention that Charlotte craved. More than once Charlotte mutters, “Emily, it’s always Emily.”

My editor and I liked this as a title because it sounds so romantic – but really it’s the lament of the plainer, older, duller sister. It’s always Emily!

Thanks for reading. I’d love to have you visit at www.michaelamaccoll.com , or follow me on Twitter at @MichaelaMacColl or check out Author Michaela MacColl on Facebook.

 

Read an excerpt at http://www.scribd.com/doc/198642656/Always-Emily

CCSS-Aligned Discussion/Teacher’s Guide at http://www.chroniclebooks.com/landing-pages/pdfs/AlwaysEmily_DiscussionGuide_FINAL.pdf

Win a signed copy of Always Emily!

Leave a comment, including your email address, for a chance to win an autographed copy of Always Emily by Michaela MacColl!

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:

  • By entering, you confirm you are 18 years of age or older and reside in the U.S. or Canada.
  • Giveaway ends 11:59 PM EST on May 1, 2014.
  • Winner will be notified by email and have 72 hours to claim the prize.
  • Prize will be shipped directly to the winner by the author or her representative.
  • This blog is not responsible for items lost or damaged in shipment.
  • Void where prohibited.

 

Coming Soon!: Scan by Walter Jury and Sarah Fine

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Tate and his father don’t exactly get along. As Tate sees it, his father has unreasonably high expectations for Tate to be the best—at everything. Tate finally learns what he’s being prepared for when he steals one of his dad’s odd tech inventions and mercenaries ambush the school, killing his father in the process and sending Tate on the run from aliens who look just like humans.

All Tate knows–like how to make weapons out of oranges and lighter fluid–may not be enough to save him as he’s plunged into a secret inter-species conflict that’s been going on for centuries. Aided only by his girlfriend and his estranged mother, with powerful enemies closing in on all sides, Tate races to puzzle out the secret behind his father’s invention and why so many are willing to kill for it. A riveting, fast-paced adventure, Scan is a clever alien thriller with muscle and heart.

SCAN
By Walter Jury and Sarah Fine
Hardcover, $17.99
eBook, $10.99
ISBN: 978-0399160653
Science Fiction
336 pages
Penguin/G.P. Putnam’s Sons
May 1, 2014

Pre-order at Amazon and Barnes and Noble!

Walter Jury was born in London, has a background in the film industry, is a big fan of the New York Giants, and enthusiast of Jamba Juice’s Protein Berry Workout smoothie only with soy, never whey. “Scan” is his first book for teens. Oh, and under his real name, he’s a producer of one of 2014’s biggest blockbusters. Let’s just say he “diverges” in his career from film to literature quite well.

Sarah Fine was born on the West Coast, raised in the Midwest, and is now firmly entrenched on the East Coast, where she lives with her husband and two children. She is the author (as Sarah Fine) of several young adult books, and when she’s not writing, she’s working as a child psychologist. No, she is not psychoanalyzing you right now.

Kindle Freebie: Psyched by Juli Caldewell

psyched

Aisi Turay has it all under control.

At least, she thinks she does. Forget that the most popular girl in school hates her guts and will stop at nothing to embarrass her. Forget that her little brother is tormented by the ghosts and demons she sees all the time. Forget that her mom is a con artist who pretends to be psychic to make some cash. Forget that her dad is hiding a secret than can destroy everything she knows about herself. Nope, she’s got this one…until that one awful day when she nearly loses it all.

With ghost-hunting hottie Vance, a guy who stumbled into her life at the worst possible moment, Aisi must search for the messages hidden in visions and memories to protect her family. Maybe, just maybe, they can reclaim what she thought was lost forever.

File Size: 376 KB
Print Length: 255 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0615838650
Publisher: Julianne Hiatt Caldwell; 1 edition (May 30, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00D4C4HOQ

PURCHASE HERE!

Book Spotlight: Dragons of Jade by Jean Lauzier

There’s no such thing as dragons.

Of that, Jade Delaney was sure. She may not have known who she was or where she came from, but at least she had a plan for her future.

All that changes when a dragon summons her back to the world from which she came. There, she learns dragons are real, the truth of her birth, and just why she was abandoned as a toddler.

Now she must discover and stop whoever is killing the dragons, while avoiding the man who is hunting her.

File Size: 2547 KB
Print Length: 163 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: White Bird Publications, LLC (April 1, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00JD0VPJ8

The Secret Side of Empty by Marie E. Andreu

empty

A gripping, emotional story of a young woman’s journey to belong and be free to pursue her dreams is what you’ll find in The Secret Side of Empty by Marie E. Andreu.

A straight-A student on her way to becoming valedictorian, M.T. watches while her friends get their driver’s licenses and make college plans. As an undocumented immigrant, M.T. lives in constant fear of being found out, while coping with her domineering, paranoid father who believes her education is a waste of time. Not even her best friend, Chelsea, knows the truth.

Pressure mounts as the National Honor Society wants M.T. to plan their trip abroad and M.T. begins a relationship with Nate knowing she will never fit into his perfect, wealthy, all-American life. Can M.T. learn to trust herself and others to stake claim to the life she wants?

Drawing on her own experience as a formerly undocumented immigrant, Andreu creates a superbly told, thought-provoking story that tugs at every heart string. Readers will be captivated by this young woman’s plight of seeking dreams just outside of her grasp and diminished by her militant father whose only desire is to earn enough money to return to the country of his birth, ripping M.T. away from the only land she has ever called home.

While illegal immigration is a highly politicized topic, The Secret Side of Empty isn’t a story about undocumented immigrants. It’s the story of a girl growing up in America who has to hide a secret that can end life as she knows it. It’s the story of friendship and learning to trust others. It’s a story of family and how they shape us; how they can hold us back and often how they lift us up. While I definitely believe this novel will challenge beliefs about illegal immigration, in the end, readers will remember The Secret Side of Empty because of its believable and inspiring heroine.

Highly recommended!

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Running Press Kids (March 11, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0762451920
ISBN-13: 978-0762451920

I received a copy of this book from the author’s publicist. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Coming Soon!: Moonflower by Angela Townsend

moonflower

Natasha remembers little from her Russian childhood, other than the lingering nightmares of her mother’s tragic death. So when someone close to her hands her a one-way ticket to Russia, along with the deed to her family farm, and then is brutally murdered, she has little confidence about what awaits her in that distant land.

With doubt and uncertainty, Natasha has no choice but to leave her life in America for an unknown future. Once overseas, the terrifying facts as to why she was really summoned home come to light.

Fact one: Monsters do exist.
Fact two: The only thing keeping those monsters out of the world is an ancient mural hidden below her family’s farm.
Fact three: The mural that keeps the evil out of the world is falling apart.
The final fact: It’s up to Natasha to restore it and save the world from a horror unlike anything seen before.

Luckily, Natasha isn’t alone in her mission. Three Russian Knights are tasked with protecting her from the demons as she restores the mural. And leading the Knights is the handsome and strong Anatoly, who seems to be everything Natasha could hope for in a man. Unfortunately, there is one huge problem. Her Knights are forbidden from having relationships with the artists they protect, and Anatoly is a hardcore rule follower. But rules cannot stop the way she feels.

When a horrifying demon breaches the barrier and pulls Anatoly inside the mural, Natasha can’t help but charge, once again, into the unknown—this time to save the man she secretly loves. Now on the demons’ turf, she risks her own life to free the very one who is supposed to be protecting her. Little does she realize that if she should fail, it could mean the destruction of the very last barrier shielding mankind. Will Anatoly refuse Natasha’s help? Or will he finally realize, when love is at stake, the rules will be broken.

COMING MARCH 31, 2014!

 

You can add Moonflower to your list on GoodReads at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20924104-moonflower

Chasing Prophecy by James Moser with Giveaway

Title: Chasing Prophecy

Author: James Moser

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Thriller

Ebook available at: Kindle | Smashwords  




Book Description:

Mo is a shy teen who is just trying to survive high school. He has secretly fallen in love with a girl named Prophecy who lives with a group that some call a commune and others call a cult. When she disappears, Mo must find the courage to face the monster that her family has become. Chasing Prophecy is a contemporary coming of age story that is heartwarming, suspenseful, and beautifully written. This book chronicles the adolescence of one boy who must transform himself to save the girl of his dreams.

Kirkus Reviews:

“A stellar read for teens and adults, full of hilarious growing pains, tenderness and a few surprises. Moser’s debut is an unflinching young-adult novel that sees a group of friends tested by bigotry and the illegal machinations of a religious cult. The author serves up an irresistibly wisecracking narrator in Mo Kirkland. Every page ripples with a controlled cleverness. There’s also a rawness to this tale similar to that which many teens face in the real world. Moser can wax rhapsodic about young love, but he shows that he knows how to raise the tension in the second half of the novel.”


Excerpt:

Max leaned over and whispered, “They don’t have any gear.”I looked at their packs. He was right. No rolled-up tents, sleeping bags or cookware dangled from any of the straps or hooks. Just bulging backpacks. Their empty sports-drink bottles were the only clue that they’d known they were about to hike straight up a mountain.

I remember thinking how weird it was that they carried so much weight uphill and none of that weight was soap, clean clothes, or sleeping bags.

Max peeked inside one of their packs. He undid the top pull-cord and pulled out a giant freezer-bag of red crystals. I undid the top drawstring of one of the other backpacks. More bags of the same stuff. I held one up. A bright flash startled us, made us step back. After blinking away the spots, I saw Clean with one arm extended, centering us in another picture he was taking on his phone.

“What’s this?” I asked, holding up a bag of what looked like raspberry Sno-Kone.

“Drugs,” Max said softly.

“It is not ‘drugs,’” said Clean. “It is the salvation of our family. It is the sword we will use to fight off Big Brother, to beat him back from our land, to cut off his hand as it reaches for what is ours. Now put those bags of salvation back, please. I’m sending word of our salvation to my father.” He held the Blackberry closer to his face and I knew he was forwarding the picture to Able back at the ranch.

Big buckets of reality crashed down on me head. Huge bags of drugs brought in from Canada. Hiked over the border in the dense woodsy areas where the Mount Baker National Forest drops to the Canadian Border.

These guys are criminals, I thought.

Clean waved at our tents, sleeping bags, and the rest of the food. He said, “You guys should just chill for a day, catch your breath, eat, drink, and sleep. No fires. We’re way off the trail and we’re nowhere near the spot where people hang-glide, base-jump or wall-climb. I put all the dehydrated food pouches in the blue backpack—soups and chili and fruit. A whole bottle of water purifying tablets. It’s not tons but it’ll keep you fueled til you’re back home. Thanks to you, the hard work is done.”

“Thanks, bruh,” said the leader of the other team. The three of them were leaning into the rock and leaning into each other. They must have done that on the way up, at night, to stay warm.

Clean motioned us to the other end of the rock. He said, “We leave in half an hour. Drink all the water you can, then fill up one small water bottle each. Remember to add an iodine tablet. No one can get sick on the way down. And,” he said, pausing to reach into his pack. “We wear these on the way down.” He pulled out green and tan camouflage floppy hats and t-shirts that matched the backpacks our visitors had carried.

“What about . . .” I started to say.

Max took a deep breath, dropped his chin and stared at the ground. He understood before I did that the Vision-Quest was over. We’d come to exactly this spot because this was the mission Able and Clean had planned for us all along.

Clean said, “We’re carrying it back down to the trailhead. We’re taking no food. We ate less than 24 hours ago and will be able to eat again before we go to sleep, after we get home. We have water. It’s downhill for us so we should make the car before dark. I have a small thing of sunscreen. Other than that, all we need is some guts.”

Max’s face was angry. I was just plain numb. There was nothing else to say.

Half an hour later, Clean hugged his three companions goodbye. We stayed on the southern end of the ledge, teetering under the heavy packs, just nodding politely to the other crew. We started down and did not talk. The backpacks carried the same weight but since I’m smaller than Clean and Max, I struggled more. I panted and stumbled a few times. We reached the tree-line in a couple hours.

Max and I kept trading WTF looks.

I thought, What is Kazzy doing right now? Does she have backpack of drugs, too? Did she know about this? Of course she didn’t know. The day before she looked so lost and confused. As lost and confused as anyone in the dining hall. If she had drugs on her back, she was as surprised as we were.

God, I wanted to hold her and I wanted her to hold me back. I’ve never wanted to hold someone so much. I thought of the squeeze she’d given me as she left the school bus.

The school bus. Right. They’d chosen a special ed. school bus to bring us in and out because it would hide in plain sight. No cop would pull us over for a small reason.

Max suddenly said, “Shit.” He kicked a tree, nearly fell from being off-balance under the heavy pack, steadied himself, unstrapped, and dropped his pack on the ground. He looked at me, then at Clean. “This is illegal. It’s not what you said we’d be doing.”

Clean moved quickly toward Max. I dropped my pack to the ground and took a long step toward them–to break up the fight before it got started. Clean’s eyes darted to mine. He put his finger to his lips.

Max put up his fists but Clean was already past him.

Clean took two long steps down the path, to the bend in the next switchback. He looked back at us—eyes on fire. He pointed sharply at us and then up into the woods.

We pulled on our packs and labored up the rocky hillside, grabbing at pine trees and brush. Glancing to our right, I saw Clean doing the same. We reached a spot thirty feet off the trail, level and dense with ferns. From the trail we heard a rustling and the unmistakable clip-clopping of horseshoes. We dropped down in the ferns, shimmied out of our backpacks and kneeled down in the dense mossy soil.

A forest ranger on horseback came into view. As he brought the horse to a stop, it sniffed at the air, looked our way and froze. I knew it had smelled us. We turned to Clean. He put one finger to his lips and stared daggers at us.

The ranger wore an olive green, short-sleeved shirt and cargo shorts. He had a walkie talkie clipped to his belt and a satellite phone in his hand. The saddle held a canteen, knapsack, and a long leather sleeve with a shotgun handle sticking out. As he turned around, I saw a handgun holstered at his side. The guy looked straight ahead, spoke into his satellite phone, dismounted, whispered softly to the horse, and stroked its mane.

I looked back at Clean and what I saw told me that the Bethlehem family had changed forever. The fingers of one hand were spread toward us, commanding we remain still and silent. His other hand held a gun. The lines on his face were calm. He was not afraid.

The ranger turned his back to us, lowered his hands, undid his belt buckle, moved his legs apart, looked to the sky, began to whistle. Clean gently clicked off the safety. The horse heard it, darting its eyes in our direction, snuffled, pawed at the ground restlessly. The man turned back to the horse, whispered, went back to whistling.

After the ranger and horse were safely out of earshot, we stepped over to Clean.

Max said, “What are you doing with a GUN???”

I added, “Yeah, and what were you gonna do if he saw us?”

Clean looked calmly at me, snapped the safety back on, and returned the gun to the waist-band against his lower back. He clicked on his walkie talkie, adjusted the volume and channel, and said, “Redemption Team One to Redemption Team Two. Redemption Team One to Redemption Team Two. Anyone out there chillin’? Over.”

A long pause, and then the crackling response, “Chillin’ like Bob Dylan. Thought you guys were gone. Over.”

Clean said, “We just ran into Steve’s Big Brother. You remember Rick, right? Over.”

A longer, crackling pause.

“Copy that. Long time since we’ve seen Rick. He by himself? Over”

“Affirmative. Over.”

And the longest, crackling pause yet.

“How long til Rick arrives for dinner? Over.”

“He’s probably not coming to your house, but if he does go that way, it’ll be at least an hour. No more than two. Over.”

“Copy that. If you seen him again, tell him sorry we missed him and we’ll catch him next time. We’re running late and we’ll be gone in ten minutes. Over.”

“Sounds like a plan. Sorry about the fast turnaround. I know you guys are tired from the trip. From the long drive all the way from California, I mean. Over.”

“Copy that. Catch you guys next time. Over and out.”

“Copy that. Over and out.”

Clean switched off his walkie talkie and clipped it onto his belt.

“Look at me,” he said. “Everyone take a drink of water and pee if you have to. We are not stopping for a few hours, until we get to the parking lot. I will walk on point. That means I’ll be by myself about fifty feet ahead. There will be NO talking, so I can hear what’s ahead. You watch where you’re walking and you watch me. I put my hand up, that means stop. I point, and that means you have five seconds to go wherever I’m pointing.

“We run into someone and can’t hide in time, you just do exactly what I do. We’ll say hello all friendly-like, but you keep your heads down and you do not slow down no matter what. I will go first. I’ll pause, I’ll make some small talk for ten seconds while you pass me, and then I’ll bring up the rear after the two of you are down the trail a bit. I will catch up on my own so don’t look back. We don’t look back and we don’t stop no matter what.”

We nodded.

“Say it so I know you understand,” he said.

“Don’t look back,” Max said.

“Don’t stop, no matter what,” I said.

About the Author:
James Moser has always loved stories in all forms. He is in his fourteenth year of working with high school students. The author’s goal was to write a book that would inspire even his most reluctant readers. Young adults have always inspired him. As such, he wanted to show teenagers transforming themselves to overcome obstacles, which is what he watches them do, every day.

Moser has a B.A. in English and a Master’s degree in Secondary English Education. He lives in Seattle with his beautiful wife and eight year old son. When he’s not reading and writing, or thinking about reading and writing, he’s watching way too much television while snacking on frozen treats from Trader Joe’s. Man, those things are good.

Where to find James Moser:


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