If your character was alive right now in the modern, real-life, world…

Network your book!




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…what would their opinion be on the state of affairs of politics, life on other planets, single mothers, men who leave the toilet set up…

You get my drift.

Let’s hear it from fictional characters!

l want an article from the point of view of
a character from your book. Give your character a subject, any subject, and see how
they get on. If you haven’t a book to flog, use a favourite character from a book you’re read–what would Mr Darcy from
Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice think of modern women? The mind boggles!

Maybe you have a secondary character that wants a voice? Or
your villain wants to view his thoughts? Or maybe your main character
has a strong opinion on something? 

Get your writer hat on and entertain us all through April and May.

Make the posts funny, angry, controversial or sad. 

The floor is yours

Send me your posts, together with your author media (links, book cover and blurb (one book per one post), purchase links etc) to me  with April/March guest post in the subject heading and get you up on this blog (which shares to Goodreads and FB automatically) asap!

Please make sure articles are edited.

This blog is shared via Triberr by over 300K people.

Living the Chick-lit life

Haley Hill 

My other life is perfect. The one I lead in my head.

I know it’s there because I’m always accounting for it. The rows of dresses I own, ideal for weddings I don’t go to, sprayed-on jeans and leopard print stilettos for bars and clubs I no longer frequent. A bejewelled evening gown- because you never know- and a gold sequined bikini, in case I find myself ten years younger and sunbathing on a yacht in Puerto Banus.

On a recent shopping trip, I worked myself into frenzy scooping up inappropriate clothing and then barging into changing rooms. At one point, whilst brandishing an armful of white linen trousers, I imagined a scene at a Chateau in the south of France. Standing on tiptoes in front of the mirror, I pondered whether wedges or kitten heels would be more fitting for a holiday I had no plans to book. Of course, in my parallel life I was sipping Rosè on an 18th century terrace overlooking ancient vines. Sunglasses propped up on my head. Skin slightly flushed from the rays, lips glossed. My hair swept up into a chignon. However, in truth, I’m not entirely sure what a chignon is.

It’s not as though a holiday in France is an impossible endeavour. It’s just that my mind has somehow edited out twin toddlers and a disobedient dog. Throw them into the mix and instead of me personifying effortless chic, I’m wearing a deeply harangued expression, brow furrowed, temples pulsing. Instead of organic white cotton, my trousers are industry spec Kaki green. What they lack in elegance they make up for in their ability to camouflage the inevitable ominous brown smudges. My top might be less military standard, but there’s every chance I’ll have a label sticking out or my bra strap showing while attempting to block determined toddlers from nose-diving into the pool. And my hair won’t be swept into anything, more like plastered down with the cohesive aid of Weetabix.

It was only upon recent reflection that I realised it wasn’t simply that my life was less glamorous since I had acquired dependents. Instead, it dawned on me that my virtual reality had never come to fruition, since it had reared its perfectly groomed head twenty years ago when I was preparing for my first ever date. Following the counsel of Just Seventeen, style bible for any aspiring teenager at the time, I had thoroughly prepared for the occasion, and envisaged strolling hand-in-hand up Bromley high street, the birds tweeting, the sun shining. I would wear my Miss Selfridge paisley dress and platform boots. We never got that far though, because in reality, he didn’t turn up. I later discovered it was because he’d substituted me for a girl called Felicity who was in the year above. She had bigger boobs.

Since then, measured against the chick-lit fantasy that plays through my mind, real life has rarely measured up.

The one thing that remains constant though, in both scenarios as they play out simultaneously, is my hand tightly gripping the stem of a wine glass.

Therefore, I invite a toast: ‘To idealism and reality. Never the twain shall meet.’

And if they do, at least I’ve got the wardrobe covered.

It’s Got to Be Perfect
When Ellie Rigby hurls her three-carat engagement ring into the gutter, she is certain of only one thing, that she has yet to know true love.
Following months of disastrous internet dates and conflicting advice from her dysfunctional friends, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Although now, instead of just looking for a man for herself, she’s certain her life’s purpose is to find deep and meaningful love for all the singles in the world.
Five years on, running the UK’s biggest matchmaking agency, and with thousands of engagements to her name, she has all the answers she needs. She knows why eighty-five percent of relationships fail. She knows why twenty-eight is the most eligible age for a woman. She knows that by thirty-five she’ll have only a thirty-percent chance of marriage.
Most of all, she knows that no matter what, it has to be perfect. Or does it?

Haley Hill was born in London in 1977,
with a big heart, big feet and big ideals. In 2005, she set up what turned out
to be the UK’s biggest matchmaking agency. She has since sold it and drunk the

She lives in Battersea with her husband James, a wine merchant and
consequent enabler of her habit, their twin girls and a scruffy hound called
Rufus. She spends her days chasing her toddlers around the house, trying to
write but mostly just messing about on Twitter.

Chicken Broth for the Soul

Nicky Wells

Chicken Broth. What’s not to love? It’s
tasty and nourishing, easy to make and delicious. It fills you up and warms you
through, yet it’s not too heavy and it’s definitely not fattening. It’s
versatile, too. Add some sweetcorn (whole or mushed) or Chinese cabbage,
chillies or mushrooms for a different heat level and a different taste
sensation. Carb it up with noodles or croutons, or enjoy it clear. The taste universe
is yours to play with, but you’ll always walk away from a good bowl of chicken
broth feeling cheered and satisfied and all-round happy. (And smug, too,
because you’re extremely unlikely to overindulge on the calorie front).

Chick lit is just the same. Chick lit is
chicken broth for the soul.
It’s fun, and it warms you through, but it doesn’t
require any seriously heavy lifting. The skill of the chick lit author lies in
bringing you emotion in a light-hearted way, in making you laugh through the
tears and cheer through the despair. Contemporary chick lit tackles all manner
of hefty issues in addition to romance. I’ve read about bereavement and
illness, loss, despair and heartbreak, but it’s done in a positive way that
makes you feel better about life.
And, of course, there’s always the happy
ending that allows you to put down the book smiley and smug.

But there’s more, isn’t there? Everyone has
a bit of a chick lit heroine in her
. Well, okay, that’s a sweeping
overstatement, I agree. At the end of the day, I can’t speak for everyone. Really, I can only speak for
myself. But I know that I certainly have a bit of a chick lit heroine in me.
I’m ditzy, seductive, funny, sexy, clumsy, supportive, warm, caring—and
occasionally, I’m all of those things at the same time. Chick lit heroines help
me discover myself and encourage me to try new things. You know, you read a
scene and you think, wow, I wish I could have done that… I wish I could have
said that, or reacted like that. And a short while later, you find occasion to
do just that. Weekend mini-break with
unscheduled dip in the pond, anyone?

Of course, we’re not all turning into
imitation Bridget Joneses or Becky Bloomwoods. But don’t you think that reading
a cracking chick lit novel has the power, even just occasionally, to change how
you feel about things in your life?

Doesn’t it give you hope? And happiness? Isn’t that simply amazing? And isn’t it even more amazing that all of that happens in
a really fun, bubbly, cheerful way? The world is plenty gloomy, so we can all
do with some chicken broth for the soul.
Chick lit rules, I say! And now I have
to go and make some chicken broth. I think today I fancy the hot and spicy
version with chillies and noodles. How about you?

Favourite Chicken Broth Recipe

Throw any combination of the following
vegetables, roughly chopped, into a large pot and cover generously with water.
Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for two hours:

~Stick celery
~Brussels sprouts (uh-huh! Gives a
delicious taste and you get all the goodness without having to actually eat ‘a’
~Garlic (lots of it!)

If you’re really adventurous, you could add
a chicken carcass for the authentic taste. Me, frankly, I’m too lazy!


Drain the stock through a sieve into a new
pot and squeeze out every last drop of goodness. Place on the hob on a medium

In a separate frying pan, fry up as much or
little chicken meat as you’d like to put in your soup. I usually use three
chicken breasts to feed four people, or four thighs (boned and skinned) for

 “It’s really hard to photograph a soup and make
 it look good, but I assure you, it’s yummy. Even the
kids ate the lot,
Pak Choi and all.”

Meanwhile, finely chop one small Pak Choi
cabbage and throw into your now gently simmering soup. Add two or three
handfuls of noodles. I usually use two or three nests of dried Vermicelli,
which I crush roughly in my hand before adding to the pot.

Feel free to add a small handful of peas or
sweetcorn (although probably not both, because you don’t want turn your chicken
broth into a veg soup), or a few sliced mushrooms.

Now add the fried chicken and keep
simmering away. For extra taste, add one or two chicken stock cubes (depending
on the amount of liquid you got going there, check the stock cube
instructions). When the pasta is nearly done, crack an egg into the soup. Break
the yolk with a fork and stir round.

To finish, add soy sauce and pepper to
taste. Serve with prawn crackers or crusty white bread.

About Nicky Wells: Romance that
Rocks Your World!

Nicky Wells is your ultimate rock chick
author. Signed to US Publisher,
Sapphire Star Publishing, Nicky writes Romance That Rocks Your World,
featuring the rock star and the girl next door.
Nicky’s books offer glitzy, glamorous contemporary romance with a
rock theme
~ imagine Bridget Jones ROCKS Notting Hill!
Born in
Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993 and currently lives in
Lincoln. In a previous professional life, Nicky worked as a researcher and
project manager for an international Human Resources research firm based in
London and Washington, D.C. Like her leading lady, Sophie, Nicky loves
listening to rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters. When she’s not writing,
she’s a wife, mother, occasional knitter, and regular contributor to The
Midweek Drive show on Lincoln’s Siren 107.3 FM. Rock on!
Introducing the newest release in the Rock Star Romance Trilogy…
Sophie’s Encore
Her rock
star is waiting in the wings, but will he get a second chance?

It’s all
change for Sophie Jones—only this time, there is more at stake than just her

Rock star
extraordinaire, Dan Hunter, has been her patient and caring friend through the
highs and lows since her wedding day, but now he figures it is time for her to
start over. By stealth, the rock singer draws Sophie into the behind-the-scenes
work for his band’s latest album. Through the days and weeks spent together at
the mixing desk, Sophie discovers whole new horizons for her life, yet before
she can even begin to explore them, she faces the very real threat of losing
her rock star for good.

Join Sophie
and Dan in Sophie’s Encore to find
out how their journey will end…

Click to grab an excerpt

Step Away from the Cat!

Monique McDonell

I’m blogging today about a phenomenon that
I may be guilty of in my own fiction.  You’ll recognise it when I explain. It’s when a main character uses a pet as a
confidant and ally.
Let’s loosely call it ‘the animal as a literary device’.

Take a lonely
single girl who sits around talking to her cat (or dog or hamster) lamenting
her situation because nobody else understands her. Sure she might be a ditz and
she might be a bit flaky, but dammit if she isn’t home every night to feed Fido
or Whiskers and to lament her miserable life!

There’s a reason you see this in books and
that’s because when it’s done well, it works. Here are some very successful
examples that may spring to mind:

Janet Evanovich uses it in a lot of her traditional
romances, and in the Stephanie Plum series it seems Rex the Hamster is almost
the only thing Stephanie can keep track of (how one hamster has survived so
many explosions in one apartment with just a cage to protect him is quite the
mystery, but Stephanie needs Rex and so he has bravely powered on through
nineteen books so far!
Don’t let my cynicism throw you off, I’ve read all nineteen
of those books!).

A great example of this done well in the
chick lit genre is Must
Love dogs
by Claire Cook. I loved this book back in the day because at that
time it was a fresh angle….eight years later, hmm I’m not sure.

Meg Cabot did it in The Princess Diaries
(cat) and in The Boy
Next Door
(dog). If you can add pet-sitting into the story line you get
double points. Well, not that there are points but you get the dog as the
confidant and the fish out of water scenario as well. 
(In my first novel Mr Right and Other
Mongrels the main character has the opposite issue – a crippling dog phobia –
not much sitting around talking to the dogs in that one).

So what is my point you ask? People do have
pets and they do talk to them. People really will race home to feed their cat
rather than have a night of crazy sex
with a new love interest – either because
the cat really does need to eat or because it’s a nice way out when you’re
scared you like him too much or you don’t like him enough –  but either way it does happen. People do walk
their dogs and meet new friends at the dog park, absolutely. It’s real life and
that makes it realistic, sure.

I guess my point is that done well it is
just fine to have animals as confidants in books but done badly it’s just
another cliché. It’s another “here we go” moment for a reader and neither the
author nor the reader wants that.

That’s why I say “Step Away from the Cat”
unless he brings some unique energy or purpose that will have the readers
caring about that animal, not just as a literary device, but as a real life
character that they too would give up a wonderful romantic evening for.

Mr Right and Other Mongrels

Blissfully happy in her own universe Allegra (Ally) Johnson is the sweet best friend everyone wants to have. Quietly and independently wealthy she runs a charming second-hand bookshop in beachside Manly. Heck, sometimes she even goes downstairs from her flat to run the shop in her Chinese silk pyjamas. It sounds like bliss. But is it enough? 

When dog-phobic Allegra is rescued from an exuberant canine by the chivalrous Teddy Green, Australia’s hottest TV celebrity and garden make-over guru, her life begins to change. Dramatically!

Unaware of Teddy’s fame Allegra finds herself falling for him, despite her best attempts to resist his charm. Supported by her eccentric family and her fabulous gay friend Justin, Allegra embarks on an on-again off-again romance with Teddy, complicated by his jealous ex-girlfriend, fashionista Louisa and her own narcissistic hippy mother Moonbeam.

Will Ally be able to overcome her insecurities and find happiness with this possible Mr Right or will Teddy’s celebrity lifestyle prove to be too much?

Mr Right and Other Mongrels is a light-hearted story about how one chance encounter can change your life.

About author Monique McDonell is an Australian author who writes contemporary women’s fiction including chick lit and romance. She lives on Sydney’s Northern Beaches with husband and daughter, and despite her dog phobia, a dog called Skip.

At University she studied Creative Writing as part of of her Communication degree. Afterwards, she was busy working in public relations and didn’t write for pleasure for quite a few years although she wrote many media releases, brochures and newsletters – and still does in her day-job.

When she began to write again she noticed that writing dark unhappy stories made her unhappy, so she made a decision to write a novel with a happy ending, and has been writing happy stories ever since. 

Is chick lit intellectual enough for you?

Laura Barnard 

Often, when I tell people I’ve written a
book their face lights up.  

‘What kind of
book is it?’ they ask, surprised that I could write more than a post-it note.


Then their faces drop.

It grates on me that the minute they hear ‘chick-lit’ they dismiss it as if I’ve written nothing more than a diary entry. I’m proud to be a writer of chick-lit and also proud that I’m an avid reader of it.

considered to not be intellectual enough for some people.  Unless you’re reading something that is
ridiculously confusing and makes your head hurt you’re not smart enough to be
considered a book-worm.

Author Laura Barnard

I couldn’t disagree more.  Any book, regardless of genre, is good as
long as people enjoy it.  

Why do I read
chick lit?
ike most people I have a busy life, and at the end of the day I enjoy a cup of tea and to indulged in
someone else’s life. I don’t want to
read a horror and be scared someone is out there waiting to
kill me, neither do I want to read a thriller (after a long day I can barely remember my name let alone keep track of a
government agent double crossing another agent!).  

What I want is to read about a group of friends having fun. I want to hear about other women getting into
tricky, hilarious situations
. Most of
all I want to fall in love with a gorgeous man who I can dream about without
the guilt of them being a real person. I’ve
been known to utter a fictional character’s name in my sleep much to the horror
of my husband. I can reassure him he’s
not a real person.

What I’ve decided instead is that these
people who judge are pretentious idiots with nothing better to do with their
lives. But each to their own. I personally judge a book on
how it makes me feel by the end. If I
loved it and can’t get it out of my head it’s a winner.

Website | Facebook |Twitter


The Debt and the Doormat

Poppy and Jazz have been best friends from the first week of uni. Whenever these two get together trouble isn’t far away and things haven’t changed much. When Jazz gets herself into financial trouble Poppy, being a good friend, offers to help. She instead ends up being talked into swapping lives, with Jazz insisting it will be good and help her get over her broken heart. 

Poppy is thrown into a new life, full of crazy housemates; there’s fitness freak Izzy, horrendously beautiful bitch Grace and the slightly gorgeous, if not incredibly grumpy Ryan. Quickly, with the help of Jazz, her life is thrown upside down. Madness ensues and her need to please everyone gets her in more trouble than she could ever imagine.

Before she knows it she’s got a fake boyfriend and is hiding so many secrets she’s scared they’ll spill out any minute. With a bullying boss, a sex crazed colleague, a mental mother and three brothers each with their own dramas, life has gotten pretty difficult for Poppy. And all of this would be much easier, if she could just stop falling over. 

Will she get her life back to normal before her brother’s upcoming wedding? And will she want to?

At time of posting this book is FREE!

Social media isn’t important to an author…

… it’s CRUCIAL!
Angelina Rose

VBT Cafe

Social Media

Social media is probably the most
powerful marketing tool for writers. It gives you free access to millions of
potential readers. Business owners tend to dive head long into social media
expecting to see huge results in short periods of time. That is simply not the
case. It takes patience in order to build up a presence on social media. Here
are a couple of frequently asked questions.

How important is Social Media to Authors?

It’s not just important, it’s absolutely
essential for writers to establish themselves in the social media world. Here
are some of the reasons why:

Brand Building

Social media is perhaps the most
powerful brand building platform in the marketing world. You can use it to
decide the manner in which you want people to perceive you as a writer. If you
don’t find a way to make readers feel that your books are in demand, then you
will not sell very many copies.

Thriving Community of Readers

Social media brings with it a diverse
and cultivating community. It puts millions of potential readers right at your
fingertips. When you build a community, you are guaranteeing that future
opportunities will be more successful. 

Gives you Authority as an Author

Without being active through social
media, you will not be able to garner the authority needed to convince readers
to buy your books. Authority is especially important if you are a non-fiction

Competitive Advantage

truth is that a lot of individuals don’t do a good job with social media.
Therefore, keeping on top of it will give you a significant advantage. When
starting out as an author, you need all of the advantages you can get.

What is the Best Social Media Platform

are so many opinions as to the best platform to use that it’s a bit of a toss
up as to which one you should use. Here are the three you should be most
concerned about:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn


you don’t know what Facebook is then you must be living under a rock. It’s the
granddaddy of the social media world. You should definitely have an account
with an author page. Just be sure to make your profile and page come across as
professional. The trick to simplifying Facebook is to use your author fan page
to promote new books as opposed to creating pages for each book you release.
Only do that when you can afford to hire a team to manage your Facebook


great (and necessary) platform for writers is Twitter. Fans absolutely love to
be engaged by authors. Twitter lets you easily connect and sometimes reply to
readers in a more personal way. In addition, you can effectively get your fans
to advertise for you through retweets.


we come to LinkedIn. Many tend to skip over this ever-important platform of
social media. If you’re trying to get signed by a traditional publisher, a
LinkedIn account is necessary. Publishers are guaranteed to search through
LinkedIn once they read your query letter. If they don’t find you on, then you
will likely be ignored.

Final Tips for Social Media

end this article on a few quick tips of some things you should keep in mind
when using social media.

Don’t Spam your Fans

is the fastest way to scare off fans (or send them storming off in rage). In
the social media world, if you only ever post that people should buy your books
or products, then you are spamming. So most of your posts should be fun and
entertaining posts, with a few promotions scattered throughout. 

Be Consistent

can be as active with social media as you want but I do recommend that you at
least add one post a week. However, stay consistent. If you plan on posting
once a week, then make sure you do so. Don’t go weeks without posting.

Never bite off more than you can chew

other words, don’t try and do too much. Maintain a schedule and only spend a
limited time on social media.

The Eyes of Love

After a tragic
loss five years ago, Sally Overby becomes an Attorney in Atlanta. She convinces
herself that all she’ll ever need again is her young son, David, and her life
as an attorney. Until one day, Colin Dean barges back into her life and promptly
blows her safe world apart, driving her crazy as only a guy she’d had a
“school girl crush” on can.

Although shocked
and thrilled by Colin’s attention, Sally is wary to love deeply. Only, with
every loving look Colin gives her plus every sweet kiss, as the attraction
between them sparks, she can’t help but wonder if she’s met the one she should
be with. And although Colin didn’t realize his life was going to change so
quickly, amazingly, he isn’t the least bit interested in fighting that change.
Instead, he’s gearing up for a different fight altogether… the one for Sally’s

Will Colin be able to convince her
that’s it safe to love him… and that forever isn’t really out of reach?

Romantic, amusing, and deeply moving,
Book 4 in the Mill Creek Crossing Romance Series, is a tale that will stay with

The Eyes of Love is a novella… you
will be able to enjoy it in just one day!

Join in the fun for prizes:

Angelina Rose
Author Angelina Rose is the first daughter of immigrant parents, and from childhood has had her head buried in books. It was a shocking experience that jump-started Angelina’s author career.

In 2010, Angelina had a long stint in hospital following a motor vehicle accident. It was then she took up pen and paper wrote four short fiction stories for young adults, entered them in several competitions, and managed to win three first prizes!

Angelina has now authored four books in a new “Mill Creek Crossing Romance” series… contemporary romance intended for adults.

The “Starting Over Series” is another contemporary romance series she wrote about a subject she knows well… nurses and their love life. At a recent reunion of her graduating class, she could not help but notice how the same girls would group together and laugh, chat, and even shed some tears over their lives since graduating. Many of the girls had divorced… so Angelina thought “what if a group of the nurses came up with a plan to meet in two years and have a new love story to share?” Then the first story in the series was born.

Angelina really loves to hear from her readers and she invites you to connect with her on Facebook as she interacts daily with her readers there!

 The Eyes of Love

“Well, if it isn’t the handsome Colin Dean,”
she said fanning herself and smiling. Gracie was older than he was, but he
remembered her younger sister, Eva, quite well. They’d all hung out together at
parties when they were younger, and Gracie had been a fixture at Stella’s for
years even though she recently came into some inheritance money.

“Hey, sweetie,” he said kissing her on the
cheek. Women loved Colin because he made them feel good, and he was always
kind. Stephanie hadn’t been able to take that away from him.

“I’ll never wash this cheek again,” she said
touching her face and smiling. “How are you, honey?” she asked with a

“Hanging in there.”

“I hate to see you so sad, Colin,” she said
sliding into the booth across from him.

“I’ll be fine, Gracie.”

“I know you will, but if you ever need to

“Thank you, but I don’t. Not yet anyway. The
divorce was finalized last week.”

“I’m so sorry about Stephanie, but she was never
good enough for you.”

“Gracie…” he said shaking his finger at

“It’s true. Ask anybody. That woman is trouble
with a capital T. Always has been,” Gracie said, refusing to mince her
words. She’d despised Stephanie since she first met her.

“Glad you’re always on my side, sweetie,” he
said rubbing her hand and laughing. “I sure wouldn’t want you on my bad

“Good thinking. Oh, crud, I’ve got a
customer,” she said as she slid out of the booth and headed back up to the

“Dean!” he heard a voice call from behind
him. It was one of his baseball buddies, Cal Erwin. “How are ya,

“Good. Where’ve you been lately?” Colin
asked as Cal dropped down into the seat.

“Well, I went out to California to visit my
brother for a few months. Played in a band out there and gathered up lots of
ladies along the way,” he said grinning.

“Glad you had a good time.”

“Where’s Steph?” Cal asked.

“I have no idea. We’re not married anymore,”
Colin said as he looked at his menu.

Cal’s mouth dropped open. “What?”

“We divorced, Cal. She screwed Jazz and I walked
in on them.” Cal’s mouth dropped open yet again.


“You know, we’re not sixteen anymore. You should
stop saying dude,” Colin said with a chuckle.

“I’m sorry, man. I had no idea.”

“No biggie,” he lied.

“I can’t believe Jazz…”

“Look, can we not talk about it? It’s kind of old
news, and I’m really done discussing it,” Colin said pointedly.

“Sorry. So, are you skipping the reunion

“Of course not. Why would I?

The challenges of writing YA romance explained

Naomi Rabinowitz

many, simply expressing the idea of love is difficult enough. Most of us
have said “I love you” to at least one person, but there’s no true
definition for what that means, and it’s the type of statement that has to
be backed by actions. Many turn to cards or poems for help. And I
know several guys who are still too scared to say the actual words to
their significant others.

could understand this frustration when crafting the romantic scenes
in my YA novel, REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD, because for me, these were the
most difficult to write.

starters, teens vary in sexual experience. When you write romantic sections for
an adult book, one can assume that the characters have had other partners, and
that even if someone is a virgin, he or she has at least done some
experimenting. However, you can’t assume this with younger characters. Sure,
teens have sex, but there are just as many 15-year-olds, like my narrator
Melinda, who’ve never even been kissed!

the challenge comes in not only writing about someone’s first kiss with a
particular person, but in writing about a  complete life-changing first for that
character. Writing about a character whose first introduction to romance and sex was, for
me, something that had to be handled gently.

inexperienced teen wouldn’t necessarily know what he or she’s doing, which
means that several things need to be questioned: Just how explicit should the
romantic scene be? Is it awkward or sweet, or both? What emotions is that
character feeling as the encounter ensues?

of these need to be addressed, as well as the fact that your young character’s first kiss — or first time — would be a VERY big deal. This is
why I didn’t have my main characters, Mel and Josh, share a smooch until the
latter half of my story. I wanted readers to savor that lead-up and excitement
to it, right along with my narrator.

said, the biggest challenge is in keeping those romance scenes
tasteful, as well as sensual, because you are, after all, writing for a younger
audience. You want them to be able to relate to the things that your characters
are going through and if the characters, and the sexual language, are
steps ahead of them, the scene might just come off as overwhelming. Of course,
you don’t want to patronize your readers, either; the trick is in finding that

YA books are quite sophisticated, but even the most experienced teens are still
learning about love and romance. In my opinion, the best YA stories capture
that awkward age that’s between childhood and adulthood, love scenes included.

Author Naomi Rabinowitz

Naomi Rabinowitz has always loved being
creative. Raised in Nesconset, NY — a suburb on Long Island — she was
introduced to the arts at an early age.

She had as much passion for music. Though she
began playing piano when she was three, she switched to her “true”
instrument, the flute, when she was nine and eventually added tenor sax and
clarinet to her list so that she could play in jazz band. She performed in
almost every musical group from wind ensemble to orchestra (but never marching
band!). In 2008, she released her jazz album FLUTE PATH.


Naomi received a B.A. in English from
Binghamton University and an M.A. in magazine journalism from Syracuse
University. From 1998-2012, she worked as a reporter/editor for national TV
magazine Soap Opera Digest.

These days, Naomi writes, plays jazz flute
and designs jewelry for her businesses Naomi’s Designs and MayaGirl Creations.
She lives in Queens, NY with her husband, Jonathan, and their cat, Maya.

One lucky *person who comments they will receive an eBook of REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD, a CD and earrings price pack. Sorry full prize is open to US only. International users will receive an eBook.
*The winner will be picked ‘out of a hat’ from all those who comments.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Revenge of a Band Geek Gone Bad

Shy, overweight sophomore Melinda Rhodes
thinks that her world is falling apart when she loses first chair flute in band
to her nemesis — the beautiful and popular, but nasty Kathy Meadows. Now
doomed to sit second chair, Mel is ready to accept the fact that some people
just aren’t meant to shine.

Her luck changes when she catches the eye of
Josh Kowalski, the rebellious trumpet prodigy and class clown. Josh has also
been hurt by Kathy and persuades Melinda to team up with him so they can take
Kathy down.

At first, the pair’s pranks are harmless, and
as they work together, Mel comes out of her shell. Even better, she finds
herself falling for Josh and it appears as if he might feel the same way about

However, their schemes become more and more
dangerous and Mel is surprised to discover her dark side. Just how far will she
go to get what she wants — and is Josh really worth the risk?

Something to whet your appetite
Josh followed me into the hallway and fell
into step beside me.  “How’d you
like to get your seat back?” he asked. 
Only he said it really quickly so it sounded more like “Howdylikegetaseatack?”
“How’d you like to get your seat back?” he said more slowly.  “How’d you like to knock Kathy back down
to second chair —- or even lower than that?”
sighed and kept walking.  “I’m not
really sure I’m the person you want.”
“The Hindemith Sonata,” he blurted, snapping his fingers.  “That’s what you played last year at the
band recital.  It was very good.”
stopped walking, surprised by the compliment. 
“Kathy played a Mozart piece and wasn’t nearly as good as
you,” he went on.  “I remember
that, too.  That’s how I know she
shouldn’t have beaten you today.”
was beginning to understand why Josh was so popular; he had this way of making
you feel at ease and like everything you say is important.  My initial nervousness at being around him
washed away.  Yet I wasn’t entirely
convinced that this guy was on my side. 
How could I trust someone who tormented Mr. Francis on almost a daily
bit his lip and was quiet for a moment. 
“Look, I have some issues with Kathy, too,” he admitted.  “I asked her out this summer at a party we
were both at.  And you know what she
did?  She didn’t just say no.  She spilled a large Coke on my head in front
of everyone and then posted photos of me online.  Can you believe that?”
missed seeing these photos, but couldn’t help laughing at the thought of him
dripping with Coke, his ego shattered.  I
covered my mouth so he couldn’t see me, but he did.  “Yeah, yeah, it was hilarious,” he
said, rolling his eyes.  “She
apparently had some boyfriend there with her who I didn’t know about so she was
mad at me for daring to approach her. 
But she didn’t have to be such a beyotch.”  He shook his head, obviously still pained by
the memory.  “My point is, she
messed with me and now she messed with you. 
If we don’t stop her, she’ll do it to someone else.”
“I guess.  But to be fair,
Kathy didn’t really do anything today,” I said.  “It was Mr. Francis who flipped out and
I should probably be thankful that he didn’t make me last chair.”
Josh’s blue eyes narrowed. 
“So you think Kathy’s innocent in this?  Oh, please. 
Who do you think snapped your spring out of place?
“What?”  This hadn’t
even crossed my mind.  Could Kathy have
done that to me?  No, there was no
way.  The spring was really small and she
would’ve had to have gotten really close to my instrument in order to do
that.  “She didn’t,” I
said.  “If she did, I would’ve felt
Josh held up the wallet which I kept in my purse.  “You didn’t feel me taking this.”
angrily snatched it out of his hand and stuffed it back into my bag.  I then realized I’d been so busy listening to
Josh  that I’d missed my bus.  “Damn it!”  I muttered.
“What?”  He held up his
hands.  “I swear, I didn’t take
anything from your wallet!”
“No, it’s not that,” I explained.  “I missed my bus.”
Josh smiled.  “Hey, no
problem.  I can give you a ride.”
“Really?  It’s no big
deal.  I can just walk…”
“Well, I don’t think you can really walk in those jeans.”
was right.  I didn’t need everyone else
to see my granny panties and I could be doing worse things than riding home
with a hot guy.  “Okay,
“But there’s just one condition,” he said, as we made our way
to the parking lot.  “In exchange
for this ride, you give me just one chance to help you get your seat back.  If it doesn’t work or you don’t like what I’m
doing, I’ll leave you alone.”
“I don’t know…”
“Oh, come on.  I gave you my
jacket.  I’m giving you a ride home…
it’s the least you can do.  Do it for the
guy who got a bucket of soda dumped over him?”
    I laughed despite myself.  “Okay, one chance.”
“Oh, good!”  he said,
clapping his hands.  “Let’s get
ready to bring Kathy down.”

Are you asking yourself the right questions when you write sci-fi?

The October Question
Peter Salisbury
I have been interested in science and science
fiction for as long as I can remember. The whys and hows of the world around me
have always been of great fascination. From the age of twelve, I have read science
fiction novels, short stories and ‘real science’ journals. My favourite author
is probably Larry Niven, especially his Ringworld books, and his Gil Hamilton
SF detective stories. A book I admire and have re-read many times is ‘Slaves of
the Klau’ by Jack Vance. If you want to look further afield another author I
would recommend is Stanislav Lem, who wrote the novel ‘Solaris’ which has twice
been made into a movie.
When I write my own science fiction, I ask
myself several questions:

  1. How will
    humans behave in a thousand years?
A study of the way humans lived two thousand
years ago shows us that they had remarkably similar needs, fears, frailties and
preoccupations. We also like to think of ourselves as no less courageous,
compassionate or loving than they were. The simple mention of biting into a
pungent citrus fruit, like a lemon, or the taste of roasted meat, or of food
cooked in spices, must have the same effect on us as it did thousands of years
in the past. So, when I write about the future, I assume that those human characteristics
will still be present a thousand years and more from now.

  1. What
    technology will be available in the future?
Readers with science backgrounds and those with
‘humanities’ backgrounds have commented on how realistic they find my stories
set in a future where space travel, cloning and being able to transfer
consciousness from one body to another are simply what people do.
If something doesn’t seem logical or plausible
to me, then it won’t to anyone else. I have ‘invented’ a number of futuristic
pieces of equipment, several processes and methods of travel. For me, they have
to be able to function the same way as they would today. People in the future
will need to use equipment in a way which is a natural and effective extension
of their everyday existence.

  1. What will
    aliens think of us?
In science fiction meeting aliens is easily
possible. It may never happen in reality, or it might happen next week. To
speculate about what aliens may be like and how they may behave are questions
which interest most of us, I believe.
It is possible there are aliens whose only
thought is conquest, their murderous nature making them thirsty for the blood
of humans. This isn’t a surprising thought, nor is it one which requires a
great leap of the imagination; we only have to look at our human past for
examples of such behaviour.

I made a conscious decision that the aliens
which crop up in a couple of my books are suspicious of humans. They shun
contact with us, believing themselves to have loftier ideals, a more equitable
society, and they avoid conflict where-ever possible. They see us as the
threat, rather than the reverse.
  1. If aliens
    exist, what do they look like?
The first aliens I wrote about are completely
naked, not that it’s easy to tell. Why? Because their skins are covered in
chromatic cells which disguise their exact shape, and which also form an
additional method of communication. My direct inspiration here was the
extraordinary abilities of cuttlefish to radically change their appearance in a
matter of seconds.
In General
When I’m writing, I almost never read anything
else. If I do, it is in a completely different genre. This has become slightly
complicated by my having written several short stories which could be described
as mild techno-horror. Another description might be what happens when science
goes wrong, or is used against us. I have also written a series of short
stories about humans escaping from zombies, and have a work in progress set in
an ancient and dying faery kingdom.
My books are based on the premise that there is
quite enough pain and suffering in the world already, without adding to it in
works of fiction. Consequently the lead characters in my books strive to
resolve conflict without bloodshed, using their wit, inquisitiveness and love
of life to achieve their goals.
My resources and my research include scientific
journals, my experiences as a technical writer abstracting from chemical
patents, and the internet. The resource I value most highly is my imagination,
although the only time that seems to operate is when I am actually writing.
Perhaps one day someone will discover where our minds find original ideas, how
we make up stories. Does our ability to tell stories come from the collective
unconscious, is it a gift which only humans possess, is it divine inspiration?

The answer, surely, must lie somewhere in the future…

Passengers to Zeta Nine

The second
of Peter Salisbury’s Passenger novels. Each book can be read in sequence or as
a standalone story.

electronic mind patterns and DNA records of Raife Harris and Doctor Nancy Zing
have been travelling for one hundred and twenty years. They will be the first
humans to see Zeta Nine.

The AI system aboard an Explorer ship is only interested in worlds habitable by
humans. Raife and Doctor Zing are naturally excited when they wake to find
Explorer 5017 in orbit. The viewscreen displays a beautiful Earth-class planet
covered in lush vegetation and warm seas. Even better, there is an apparent
absence of biohazards and predators. Everything looks perfect but is it too
good to be true?

Follow the pioneers’ journey as they fight to maintain their colony. Together
they battle against unseen dangers, explore a forest canopy which conceals an
ancient mystery, and discover a cache of curious metallic objects.

Amazon Author Page                Blog

Passengers to Zeta Nine is a best-selling sci-fi, selling more than fifteen hundred copies since its launch. Passengers to Zeta Nine is
the second novel in the Passengers Series. The books are set in the future where mankind have colonised many worlds. Expansion has
continued for many hundreds of years without encountering a single alien
species. When aliens are discovered it is realised that they have
been aware of humans for a very long time but have chosen to avoid all contact.
to Zeta Nine
, along with the first and third novels in the series, is available
in both Kindle and paperback editions. The fourth and fifth novels are in
progress. Peter Salisbury has also published several short
stories and a book named The Old Store, which contains twenty-six episodes
and is on its way to being republished next year as an extended episodic novel. Its theme is a mixed group of families struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.

Not Tech-Savvy? Four Easy Steps To Format Your Ebook For Smashwords And Amazon Kindle

King Samuel Benson

Before we talk about how you can format your ebook to
suit the various eReaders, I want to assume that you have already finished
writing and editing your book. That you already know and understand all the
pre-publishing tasks, and that you already have a publishing plan. Otherwise
you’ll only be reading this article for theorical knowledge.

While there’s nothing really wrong in that, you’re not
helping yourself. If you’re beginning to spend thinking energy on
pre-publication issues like editing and formatting, you’re sucking out your
creative energy. I advice you to save your energy and expend it on the actual
process of writing and finishing your book first.

That’s the hardest part. You can spend hours, days,
months or even years thinking about how you’ll be able to format your ebook so
it looks great when converted and read on an eReader but if you never actually
complete the writing process, none of your musing will blossom to fruition.

If you’re still reading this right now, I’m assuming you
have already completed the prerequisites. Just in case you’ve forgotten, I’m
listing them below:

1) You understand this whole publishing business.
2) You have a well-thought out
writing-publishing-marketing plan.
3) You have the whole concept of your book – fiction:
character development, plot, sequels (if there are going to be any);
nonfiction: lesson or general idea.
4) With your concept you’ve written and completed a
great, well-edited book.

Well done!

Now you’re ready to format, convert and distribute to
retail stores.

So back to the topic of this article, how do you format
your book if you’re not tech-savvy? I’m going to list and explain the process in four
easy-to-grasp steps.

1) Choose a Word Processor:
I could’ve said it doesn’t matter the kind of word
processor you use but it does matter. Since almost all ebook publishers demand
your manuscript must be in Microsoft Word, that is going to be the subject of
our discussion.

Now many experts insist that, before creating a new
document for your ebook, you make certain changes to your page setup like
adding indents, modifying your gutter positions, line spacing before and after
paragraphs, and lots of other actions that are enough to make the process seem
preposterous. While it is okay to make those changes, it is really unnecessary.

2) Remove All Formatting:
Maybe I should rather say, don’t add any formatting.

If you do not understand your Ms-Word page setup, then do
not tamper, I repeat, do not tamper with it. If you have already done that,
then go back and restore it to default.

No indents, no tabs, no page breaks, no page number, no
header and footer. No unusual font type, no text style, no beautifully flowing
characters. During conversion, many of those formats will be truncated or
modified and after conversion your ebook will contain jargons and look jumbled
and amateurish on an eReader. Reading experience will become poor. Readers who
paid money to buy your ebook or spent their precious time to read it will not
be happy. Don’t spoil your readers’ enjoyment in an attempt to make your ebook
look fanciful. You’ll lose potential fans and destroy any chance of future

Type your book like you would on a simple text editor.
Let your sentences fill a page and flow to the next page, and just continue
typing. Use fixed spaces – like three or four strikes on the Enter key – to
separate new chapters, copyright information, preface, acknowledgements or
something similar.

By default, every new page on Ms-Word is set to align
‘left’. Don’t change it unless you really have to.

3) Save Your New Document:
Of course that’s only normal!

That’s probably what you just thought. If you are
uploading your new ebook to Smashwords, then all you have to do is save your
work in the .doc extension and upload it! Yes, that’s only normal. Smashwords
will handle the task of converting your new ebook into all the major ebook

If you’re uploading to KDP, it’s a bit different. You’ll
need to save your work with the .html or .htm extension. The Kindle has a
different format for its books. Call it .mobi, .prc, .pcr, whatever you wish.
They are all different names for the same thing.

To get the best from your Kindle conversion, you need to
have a basic understanding of HTML coding. Why? Because Kindle books are
basically web pages. Once you understand that, you can do anything. You can
ignore the rules (No, I don’t mean the terms and conditions for publishing on
Kindle). You can add new formats and/or images because you know what will
display properly and what won’t.

After saving your work with the .html extension, you can
take it to an html editor and do further editing to remove several unnecessary
Word add-on codes. Then you can preview it to see how it would look like when

Usually I don’t write Kindle books on Word; I do them
directly on html editors. There are a number of free html editors. Two of which
I use – Kompozer and PageBreeze. Kompozer is completely free (as at this time).
PageBreeze is paid but also has a free version. They are both very good and
easy to use. It’s easy to download them. Just do a Google search of either of
both and you’ll come up with download links in the search results.

Wait! Wait! So you have no knowledge of HTMLs? Don’t
falter out yet; you can still publish a very good book on Kindle without
knowing html. Just save your ebook as .html/.htm and upload it. Or easier
still, use the same .doc file you uploaded to Smashwords. So long as you
followed my instructions and removed all formatting from your ebook, and as
long as your ebook does not contain spelling or punctuation errors, your ebook
will appear error-free and easy to read when converted for the Kindle.

4) After Publication, Download a Copy:
Your upload is successful. The interior design checker on
your publishing platform has not detected any error. Your ebook is now live.
But you’re not done yet. There’s still one more task. Go and download the first
copy of your ebook. Read it. Is it what you really wanted? If you followed my
instructions to the letter, there shouldn’t be any error. But not always. If
you do find errors, they’ll be mostly spelling and punctuation errors. In such
cases, go back to the original .doc file you uploaded. It should still be on
your computer. 
Check the section of the book where you found the error on your
eReader. You should also find the error on the .doc file. Correct it, and
upload again.

So there you go.

Use Microsoft Word to type your manuscript. Do nothing to
your page setup. Remove all formatting; just let your sentences flow. Tap the
Enter key multiple times to separate title, copyright information, chapters and
the rest. Depending on how you arrange your paragraphs and chapters, your ebook
will look attractive. When you finish your ebook, save and upload to your
preferred publishing platform. After conversion and publication, download/buy a
copy and read it to check for errors.

It’s really that simple.

If you found this article helpful, don’t forget to share
it with your friends. They may benefit from it as well.

King Samuel Benson is an ebook editor, a poet and a
freelance writer. He is featured as an expert author on EzineArticles.com, one
of the biggest article directory on the ‘net. 

He is the author of ‘Why You Are
Not Wealthy’ and he is currently working on a new fiction titled ‘2018’ which
will be released in September. 

Try out his editing and formatting services.
Find King Samuel Benson at: 
Blog    Twitter     Facebook    Facebook page

An alternative historic YA novel

The Shadow of Black Wings
James Calbraith
A dragon rider on his first overseas adventure. A girl warrior in search of her destiny. A shrine apprentice disturbed by portents of doom. Their fates entwine as an ancient empire stands on the brink of revolution in this steam-powered fantasy set in a mythical Japan.

  It is the sixteenth year of Queen Victoria’s enlightened rule and the world trembles before the might of her ironclad navy and the dreaded Dragon Corps. The young dragon rider Bran finishes his secondary education and joins his father – a soldier and a spy – on a journey to the mysterious lands of Orient.  

An ancient empire stands on the brink of a civil war.
His arrival may push it over the edge.
In the empire of Yamato, sealed from the rest of the world for the last two centuries, a wizard’s daughter Sato witnesses her father joining an anti-government conspiracy. 
Her friend Nagomi, training to be a priestess, is haunted by dark visions that she must keep secret. Neither of them is aware that a change is coming to Yamato… on the wings of a dragon.

A detailed and fast-paced historical fantasy based around the turbulent opening of Japan to the West in the middle of the 19th century, “The Shadow of the Black Wings” is the first volume in “The Year of the Dragon” saga. 
The second volume, “The Warrior’s Soul”, is expected in August.

About the author
James Calbraith is a 34 year old Poland-born writer, foodie
and traveller, currently residing in South London.

Growing up in communist Poland on a diet of powdered milk,
Lord of the Rings and soviet science-fiction, he had his first story published
at the ripe age of eight. After years of bouncing around university faculties,
he moved to London in 2007, found a decent IT job and started writing in
English. His debut historical fantasy novel, “The Shadow of Black
Wings”, has reached ABNA semi-finals and was published in July 2012.
Currently he’s working on the second volume in the cycle, “The Warrior’s

His volume of short stories, “Transmission”,
published on Amazon Kindle in June 2012, has reached the tops of Kindle
bestseller lists in USA, UK, France, Germany and Italy.

Contact James Calbraith via the following social media sites:

      Unchanging the river flows, and yet the
water is never the same.
      In the still pools the foam now gathers,
now vanishes, never staying for long.
      So in the world are men and their dwellings.                                                                                               Hōjōki

Click for more and read an excerpt of The Shadow of Black Wings:


A single gear
whirred and clicked into place. A valve opened, letting out a thin plume of
grey steam with a quiet hiss. A gold-plated dial moved by a notch. A tiny
mallet sprang from its compartment, striking the brass gong – one, two, three,
four, five, six times.
       Master Tanaka looked up in surprise – an
hour of the Hare already? He turned towards the window and the pink light of
dawn illuminated his face. The temple bell only now started to ring out the
time. He sighed then yawned, rubbing tired eyes. Another night had passed
without him noticing.
       The elementals inside the clock awoke
with a soft purr and the automatic brush began to move swiftly inside the glass
cloche. A slot opened in the mahogany pedestal and spat out a piece of paper
upon which was written the day’s divination. Hisashige reached for it
absentmindedly, his attention focused on the piece of complex clockwork on
which he had been working. He glanced briefly at the calligraphy – Oku, ‘a gift’. He smiled to himself and
nodded knowingly.
A higher-pitched
chime rang eight times – counting out the hours of the Western reckoning. The
door slid open and a small boy entered the workshop. With his long and angular
face, puffed lips and wide straight nose, he bore no resemblance to Master
       ‘It came from Kiyō this morning, Father,’
the boy said, presenting Hisashige with a large, ornately packed wooden box.
       ‘Excellent!’ the old master exclaimed.
       He put the box on the workbench beside
the clockwork and began to unwrap it eagerly.
       ‘Shūhan-sama was supposed to send me some Walcheren glass.’
       He stopped abruptly and his shoulders
sank when he saw the crest on the box, in golden leaf – three lines in a
circle. He lifted the lid without enthusiasm. Inside was what seemed like a
small human head, completely bald.
       ‘Some gift.’
Hisashige looked at the clock with reproach. ‘It’s just another of Zōzan’s
broken dolls.’
       He took out a small paper envelope
containing his fee, and gave it to the boy.
       ‘Put it in the treasure box later.’
       The old master opened a hatch in the top
of the doll’s head and studied the complex web of gears, cranks and pulleys for
a moment. With one swift twist of his fingers, he snapped a rubber band back
onto the hooked lever.
       ‘Hardly worth the effort,’ he murmured,
closing the head and the box. ‘I really need those divinations to be more
precise in the new clock.’
       ‘Is that the new year-plate?’
       The boy craned his neck to see over
Hisashige’s shoulder to view the mechanism sprawled all over the workbench.
       ‘Yes. You have a good eye, Daikichi,’ the
old master said with a gentle smile.
       ‘Still can’t get it to work?’
       Hisashige shook his white head.
       ‘Come, I will show you.’
       He put the loose screws and gears back
into place and lifted the plate gingerly. He moved across the workshop to a
tall sculpted cabinet of Western make, and opened the oaken door.
       There was another clock inside, similar
to the one standing in the corner of the room, but larger and with even more
dials, switches and levers.
       Hisashige inserted the clockwork plate
precisely into its slot and turned the key. The gentle warm hum of the
elemental engine filled the cabinet. Steam hissed from the valves.
       ‘I don’t understand. Everything seems
perfect,’ the old master commented as the dials turned to their desired
positions, showing exactly the same time and date as was visible on the old
clock. ‘I can’t find any fault within the mechanism. The minute hand is even
more precise than before. All the Major Trigrams match. But look at that zodiac
       A round ivory plate turned slowly.
Pictures of animals, encrusted in black lacquer, appeared in the glass lens one
by one – monkey, rooster, dog, boar, mouse, ox…
       ‘It should stop now,’ said Hisashige, and
the boy nodded.
       It had been the Year of the Ox for a few
months now – water ox, to be precise. But the plate continued to turn
inexplicably past the tiger and hare until, at last, it halted.
       The black lacquer silhouette of a coiled
sleeping dragon glinted mockingly from the lens.


The distance from
Llambed to Dinas Bran is computed at seventy miles, as the crow flies. The
prevailing wind is north-westerly, steady at fifteen knots along the entire
distance. Given an average velocity of an unladen Purple Swift equal to forty
knots, and allowing for the pressure pocket of Berwyn Hills… –
      Bran bumped into
someone and dropped the exercise book to the ground, his notes scattering all
over the freshly cut grass. Bran knew who it was just from looking at their
feet clad in thick leather boots. Only the Seaxe wore shoes on the sacred
meadow of the Scholars’ Grove.
Toadboy, it’s as if you wanted to be beaten up,’ a familiar vile voice mocked.
      Bran looked up
and sighed. Wulfhere of Warwick towered above him in his impeccable blue
uniform, his sky-blue eyes staring at Bran with a mixture of aversion and
      ‘Sorry, Wulf.’
Bran stooped to pick up his papers. ‘I’m in a hurry for the Octagonometry
      ‘Pah!’ snorted
the flaxen-haired Seaxe. ‘What’s the point? You and your Toad will never pass
the Aerobatics.’
      ‘Its name is
Emrys,’ Bran said coldly, ‘and it can outfly any dragon in this school,
including your fat thoroughbred.’
tightened his fists, tiny sparks crackling around his knuckles. He glanced
towards the red brick arches of the Southern cloister, where the house prefect
stood, watchful.
      ‘Out of my way,
serf, you’re lucky I’m not in the mood today,’ the Seaxe scoffed and pushed
Bran aside.
      The papers
scattered again. Gathering his notes, Bran mumbled a Prydain slur, loud enough
only for Wulfhere to hear. The Seaxe stopped and turned around slowly.
      ‘What did you just
      Bran looked
around helplessly. Nobody was coming to his aid, of course; this wasn’t a fight
worth joining in. Somebody was paying attention though. The red-haired Pictish
lass, Eithne, stood under a large oak tree with several giggling friends. Their
eyes met. He saw pity and embarrassment in hers, and something inside him sank.
      She wore the
robes of the Geomancers, although Bran knew her dream was to one day become a Derwydd – Druid at Mon Island. The
brown-green, plaid cloak suited her auburn hair and green eyes, which were
framed in a blue spiral tattoo. They liked each other but never went any
further than a few walks under the oak trees and an occasional awkward teenage
kiss. In the end their relationship had fizzled out.
      He repeated the
slur, suddenly feeling brave. Now everyone heard him. Several people stopped
curiously, waiting to see what would happen. Bran didn’t care. There were only
a few days left until the final tests. Wulfhere could bully him all he wanted
now, as long as he left Bran enough time for study. After the exams it would no
longer matter…
      ‘You’ve done it
now, Taffy. You’ll have to take your tests in the infirmary!’
      The Seaxe grabbed
Bran’s neck. With an electric crackle and sizzle, a cloud of painful sparks
appeared around Wulfhere’s hand. Bran made no sound, though his eyes welled up.
He could not move – one of Wulf’s associates held him in a Binding spell. He
could feel the sparks scorch his nerve endings. It felt as if his neck was on
fire, but he knew the electricity would leave no marks on the skin.
      Wulfhere’s mount
was a Highland Azure, a lightning dragon. Each rider could channel some of his
dragon’s power in combat, with proper training. The ability to tap into the
power of lightning made Wulfhere’s punishments both immensely painful and
perfectly undetectable.
      Just as Bran felt
he could no longer take the pain and would have to cry out for mercy, the
provost finally appeared, heading towards them. Wulfhere let go of Bran, who
fell to the ground, gasping.
      ‘I’ll get you
next time, Taffy,’ he hissed and shuffled off into the trees.
      ‘Are you alright?’
the provost asked, reaching his hand out to Bran, ‘did he hurt you?’
      ‘I’m fine,’ Bran
murmured with embarrassment and raised himself slowly. He glanced towards the
large oak tree. The girl was nowhere to be seen. Sighing, he retrieved his
papers from the grass for the third time and headed towards the dormitory
He tugged both sets of reins sharply and leaned back. The
dragon pulled up and rolled on its back in a tight half-loop. Ground whizzed
past the top of Bran’s head. He jerked the top leeward rein. A leather strap
fastened to the base of one of the dragon’s horns tightened, and the mount
turned upright. With one beat of its leathery wings it caught a strong waft of
the Ninth Wind and its flight stabilised. Bran breathed out.
      The series of
manoeuvres finished, Bran brushed an unruly fringe of black hair out of his
bright green eyes and bade his mount swoop down towards the target range. The
dragon needed no guidance here. They had been practising on the range for two
years and both knew exactly what to do. The beast turned confidently towards
the first objective, a large bale of straw. The dragon’s neck stretched in a
straight line, its jaws opened.
      It coughed to no
effect as the target dashed past. Shaking its head, the beast turned around to
try again. Again it merely coughed and spluttered with great effort. A thin
plume of smoke puffed from the dragon’s nostrils.
      ‘What’s wrong,
Emrys?’ Bran asked, distraught.
      The dragon
whimpered. It could not breathe fire. The boy quickly recognised the symptoms
and the acrid smell of the dragon’s breath. Somebody had fed it Iceberry water.
      Only one person
was capable of such a cruel prank on the day of the exam; but there was no time
to think of vengeance. Seconds were running out, the teachers below were no
doubt already frowning at his lack of performance. Not one of the targets had,
as yet, been set on fire.
      Fire… He didn’t
need Emrys’ breath. He could channel the power of flame himself. It would have
far shorter range and energy, but it could still work…
      Bran focused on
the Farlink. The mental connection enabled him to steer the dragon with much
greater precision than reins and spurs. The beast, following his unspoken
orders, dived once more towards the bale of straw. He only had a split second
as the mount sped past the target, whooshing a few feet above the grass at a
dazzling speed. He reached out with his fingers.
      ‘Rhew!’ he cried in Old Prydain, his
chosen spell-tongue.
      A blazing bluish spark
of dragon fire shot from his fingers. Its tip reached the straw and the bale
burst into flames. Elated, he repeated the exercise with the next target, a
wooden horse, then with yet another and another, five more times in total. With
each objective destroyed his exhaustion grew. Repeatedly channelling the dragon
flame drained his energy immensely. At last he managed to land before the
teachers’ observation tower, panting, sweating, too tired to even dismount.
Struggling to keep his eyes open, he listened to the Master of Aerobatics
assessing his trial.
      ‘That was
certainly… unorthodox,’ the teacher said, coughing nervously, ‘but you did hit
all your targets in time, so I have no choice but to pass you.’
      Bran sighed
deeply and closed his eyes. All thought of revenge on Wulf disappeared from his
mind. It didn’t matter anymore, he had passed his final exam – he was out of
the wretched place at last.
Bran’s fingers played with a fiery-coloured tassel on the
grip of his heavy cavalry backsword, a proud, solid pattern tested in the Mad
King’s wars. He regarded his weapon. The single-edged blade was broad and
slightly curved, three feet long, with rows of runes running along a deep
fuller. The quillon was curved in the shape of a rampant dragon, the brass
mountings and circular guard ornamented in the form of claws, flames and
leathery wings. The wyvern-hide grip culminated in a pommel sculpted into a
dragon’s head. Anyone looking at the sword would have little doubt as to its
owner’s profession.
      He sat among
thirty other similarly armed boys and girls, all excited and relieved at the
same time, all wearing the uniforms of the dragon cadet corps, steel blue with
golden stripes. They hailed from all over the Dracaland Empire. Most of them
were Prydain, like Bran, with black hair, Roman noses and olive complexion, or
the golden-haired, blue-eyed Seaxe from beyond the Dyke. A few black-eyed
Cruthin from Ériu across the sea and tattooed Picts from the northern realm of
Alba were keeping to themselves at the back.
      The headmaster was
nearing the end of his speech. Short and impish, he had to use an ornate
mahogany step to reach over the pulpit. His long red beard was forked neatly
and tucked under a gem-studded belt. Wind tore on the bushy tufts of his hair –
there was no roof above the ruined keep inside which they had all gathered. The
headmaster was a Corrie, a member of an ageless race of wrinkly-faced,
red-haired dwarves living among the dales and lakes of Rheged in the north.
Long pointed ears gave him a mischievous appearance, belying his position and
      The headmaster finished
the main part of his speech, waited until the din of whispers quietened and then
held up a sword in a trembling hand. The straight-edged, broad blade was rusted
and notched in a few places, although the hilt was new, gleaming gold and
encrusted with gems.
      ‘It was seven
hundred and ten years ago that Owain the Wyrmslayer established this
illustrious Academia for the purpose of studying the ways and lore of the
mighty Beast, soon after defeating the Norse dragons at Crug Mawr with this
very sword,’ the headmaster shook the old blade.
      He gestured
around and Bran’s eyes inadvertently followed towards the familiar thick walls
of the Great Auditorium, rising towards the sky like the crooked teeth of a
long dead giant. Tapestries of red and white dragons were brought to adorn the
cold stones of this vast ancient ruin during the ceremony. The heavy oaken
chairs upon which the teachers were sitting recalled the time of the War of
Three Thorns and the realm of Harri Two Crowns. Leaves rustled and sparrows
chirped on the branches of ancient oak and elm trees growing in a dense circle
around the keep. Far in the distance a booming sound of a siren announced lunch
break at the local elemental mine.
      ‘The graduates of
the Sixteenth Year of Victoria Alexandrina, the Queen on Dragon Throne! Today
you finish your four years at the Academy. The bards will now take my place on
this stage to tell tales of past glory much better than I can. Let me just put
a final touch on all of you before I release you into this dangerous
ever-changing world.’
      This was the
moment Bran had waited for the whole day – the entire four years since he had
first crossed the threshold of the Academy. The headmaster straightened
himself, suddenly full of youthful vigour. He raised Owain’s Sword towards the
blue sky and whirled it around in a complex pattern. The air sparkled and
buzzed with powerful magic, and the fresh scent of ozone spread throughout the
auditorium. A flash of radiant light flared above the heads of the gathered,
taking the form of a great white eagle hovering in the blue sky. The raptor
shrieked and a shower of stars rained down from under its spread wings, each
dazzling star landing upon a shoulder of an astonished student.
      ‘You have all
been marked with the Seal of Llambed,’ explained the headmaster after the spell
dissipated. ‘Those who know how to look will always see it upon you. Bear it
proudly. It is not only a sign of education – it is your talisman, a precious
gift. Three times in your life you will be able to call upon its power – and it
will deliver you from any danger.’
      A murmur spread
throughout the keep. For some of the students this was the first time they had
heard of the magic mark and its power, but not so for Bran.
      ‘You will use up your
Seal before you know it,’ his father, Dylan, had warned him. ‘Don’t worry,
everyone does that. It’s only there to help you through the first years of life
as a dragon rider outside the school walls.’
      ‘When did you use
yours for the first time?’ the boy had asked. ‘Was it in a battle?’
      He had been only
eleven then, just about to enter the Academy.
      ‘No, nothing as
glamorous as that,’ Dylan had replied, chuckling. ‘I was still in the Academy,
getting my baccalaureate. I was racing another boy, one of the Warwicks, along
the Dyfrdwy Valley and I broke my dragon’s wing under the Great Aqueduct. A
hundred feet drop, that is. I had no choice but to call on the White Eagle.’
      ‘And what
      ‘It brought me
straight into the Dean’s office!’ Dylan laughed. ‘I got a right telling off for
wasting a charge so recklessly. That’s how the Seal works – unexpectedly. You
never know where it will take you. Other schools have similar charms, but none
are that fidgety – or that powerful. It will save your life, always, one way or
Mages of Llambed! Arise!’
the headmaster announced in a strong voice.
      The school bard
entered the podium to lead the choir, and the crowd erupted into the Academy’s
anthem enthusiastically, as startled sparrows took off from the oak trees.
Men of Llambed, on to glory
Victory is hovering o’er ye,
Pride of Prydain stands before ye,
Hear ye not her call?
Rend the skies asunder,
Let the wyrm roar thunder!
Owain’s knights fill world with wonder,
Courage conquers all!

Dean Magnusdottir, head of dracology, a gentle-faced,
mousey-haired woman, browsed the piece of parchment unhappily.
      ‘Bran ap Dylan
gan Gwaelod. I can’t say I’m not disappointed,’ she said, tutting and shaking
her head, ‘your father was-’
      ‘The best student
this Academy ever had,’ muttered Bran, rolling his eyes. ‘I know, ma’am, but
aren’t you being a bit unfair? I did quite well where it matters.’
      ‘Where it
matters, boy? Where it matters? Every
single subject in this school matters. You have barely passed the athletics,
your history knowledge is non-existent and your alchemy score was the worst in
your class.’
      Bran looked down,
feigning embarrassment, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. He had
graduated, and nothing else was important right now. He did not wish to spend
anymore unnecessary minutes within the college walls.
      ‘You are a good
rider, certainly,’ continued Madam Magnusdottir, calming down. ‘One of our
best. Your Farlink quotient is frankly astonishing. That much of Dylan’s blood
shows, and you have his magic talent, of course. You could easily take up
wizardry as the second faculty. But it takes much more to achieve real
success in a dragon rider’s career. In truth, I would rather you stayed in
school for four more years. Catch up a bit on the old scientia vulgaris.’
      Bran looked up,
startled. Stay in school for four more years? That seemed like such a nightmare
right now. Besides, usually remaining for a baccalaureate was considered a
reward, not punishment for bad grades.
      ‘Think about it,
my boy,’ the dean insisted, ‘you have time until October, hmm? Will you
      ‘Er… I will,
ma’am.’ Bran hesitated. ‘Will there be anything else, ma’am?’ he asked,
reaching for his diploma.
      The teacher
stalled, still holding the parchment.
      ‘Son,’ she said,
looking earnest, ‘I don’t mean it in a bad way, but – we could get you a better
dragon if you remained with us.’
      Bran stood up,
barely concealing his anger.
      ‘There is nothing
wrong with Emrys!’ he exclaimed. ‘How many more times do I have to prove it to
you all?’ He grabbed the diploma from the teacher’s grasp, tearing off a bit in
the corner. ‘This is all my father’s doing, isn’t it?’
      ‘I assure you,
your father had nothing – ’
      ‘I’ve heard quite
enough, ma’am.’ Bran raised his hand. ‘I bid you farewell.’
      He turned around
and stormed outside.

Get blogging!


I started writing when I was twelve. (Pro tip for aspiring young writers: never mention that in your query letter.) By the time I joined the army a decade later, I had amassed quite a body of work.

When I look back on the musings of my thirteen year old self I sort of rip my hair out with despair. The stuff I wrote when I was fifteen merely makes me shake my head in chagrin. My first novel, which I completed at the tender young age of seventeen, shows what might charitably be called progress. With my twenty year old stuff, I can start to spot the diamonds in the rough, diamonds that might have been picked up, polished off, and kept for today. At twenty-two I was just about maybe on the verge of being ready to publish.

Then, as I mentioned earlier, I was commissioned as an officer in the army. (You may be wondering where I’m going with all this. Well, now, calm down there, speedy. I’m unraveling a yarn here.)

You might wonder why I refused to publish any of my work while I was serving in the armed forces. If you’ve ever perused the nonfiction section of your local, independently-owned bookstore (and I highly recommend you do!) you’ve probably noticed tons of books by Jack Gutmuncher, LTC (R) and his ilk. What you’ll notice about all of those books is the little (R) at the end of all those names. That’s short for “retired.” Because, believe it or not, the army has a pretty strict policy about officers not making the army look bad. And voicing one’s own opinions – good, bad, or indifferent, but especially PUBLICLY – is bad juju. So I put off publishing for ANOTHER five years. (Trust me, I’m going somewhere with this.) 

Finally, at the ripe old age of twenty-seven, I was free and clear of Uncle Sam, my work actually ran the gamut from middling to scintillating, and I realized that I had been putting off publishing so long that I had no idea how to actually do it. I was but a raw babe in the woods, and I did what all raw babes do, I looked to someone who had walked the path before me for guidance.

As it turned out, my high school valedictorian had recently been published. So I asked him what to do to be published. He answered me in three words:

“Start a blog.”

So I created Manuscripts Burn with a mission statement of putting some of my old, unpublishable work out there on the internet and seeing if I could make a name for myself. 
Then an incredible thing happened.

I discovered the blogging community. There were published authors trying to help amateurs like me. There were literary agents trying to make sure their slush piles weren’t so full of junk. There were old school publishers and brand new epublishers, and everything in between, all looking for the best work they could find. And it seemed like everybody wanted to make sure I got good enough to get published and knew exactly how to do it.

There’s someone specific I should mention, too, and that’s Louise Wise. I told her this but she’ll probably be too modest to mention it herself. Her website is the largest single traffic driver to my modest little blog. That’s the kind of support the blogging community offers.

I try to do my bit too, now. You’ll find plenty of my work on my blog, free to peruse, but you’ll also find advice on how to query, my thoughts (mostly neurotic) about writing and publishing, and a new segment called “YOU DECIDE!!!™” where I invite the readers to weigh in on the most important grammatical debates of the day. That’s called “Paying It Forward” according to that 2000 Haley Joel Osment movie whose name escapes me.

You want to hear the end of my yarn? I’d love to tell it to you. Stop on by and we’ll find out together if my journey has a happy ending.

 To get in contact with Redleg go to Manuscripts Burn or Twitter

All Things Writing: A Blog for Writer

Mary Ann Loesch

I love finding blogs that help other
writers, which is why am thrilled to be a guest today at Wise Words. I’m also
slightly jealous of the title of this blog site. It makes me wish I had
something cool to connect my last name to like Louise Wise does. True, I do
have my own blog called Loesch’s Muse, but it doesn’t roll off the tongue like
Wise Words.

Ah, well. That’s life! I’m saddled with a
last name that most people pronounce lush. Hmm…now that I think about it,
sometimes that is a pretty fitting title for me as well…

Anyway, as I was saying, blogs that help
other writers make me do a happy dance that would embarrass Madonna. They make
me feel like I’m learning some secret that no one else knows or often they get
me over the hump on a problem that I’ve encountered in my writing. Of course, a
few years ago when my writing group decided to start a blog, I thought they
were crazy.

Why would I ever want to write about
writing? I’m too busy…well, writing.

It took a while for me to get into the
swing of blogging, and as a group, we were kind of all over the place on topics.
But once we got the hang of it, we discovered that our blog could actually do
some good, and that’s how All Things Writing was born. Each week we strive to
write about topics that interest a particular group of special people: writers.
The  areas covered on the blog include
agents/editors, freelance writing, character development, writing prompts,
styles of publication,  genre
definitions, writing conferences, author interviews, and book reviews.

Being part of All Things Writing has helped
me in unexpected ways. Through it, I’ve learned how to review other’s works.
It’s actually harder to do that than I first thought! I’ve learned about how to
conduct interviews with authors and how important it is to them to be asked
questions about their specific book, rather than just the basic: Where do you
get your ideas from?

I’ve also learned how to handle those pesky
spammers and negative comments:

Tip 1: Be sure to have your admin settings set
so that all comments come to your email for review.

Tip 2: Try to be gracious
to the Negative Nellies because everyone has an opinion and we can all learn
something from each other.

Tip 3: Don’t be afraid to hit the delete button if
the Negative Nellies are out of line. It’s like giving them an on-line bitch
slap and makes you feel really good, too.

If you are a writer, then you already know
how important this next thing is: shameless self-promotion. Having your own
blog is a great way to talk about your latest novels and when my new young
adult novel, Bayou Myth, was released, I shouted it to from the blog’s rooftop.
However, if it’s all I talked about….well, meh. That gets boring and in our
case, constant self- promotion would defeat the spirit of our blog’s original
intentions–helping other writers.

I would love to have you drop by All Things Writing for a visit, and if you are
a writer searching for help on a specific topic, browse our extensive archives.
You’re bound to find something of interest! We are always looking for guest
bloggers, too, and I’m hoping to con Ms. Louise Wise into sharing some of her
wise words at our site.

By the way, since I can’t resist shameless self-promotion, here’s a bit about my latest book, Bayou Myth. It’s a tale of voodoo, teenage angst, Greek myths, and the legendary, Marie Laveau.

Bayou Myth

As a sixteen year old
voodoo queen in the making, Joan Renault just wants to be like all the other
girls in the small town of Monte Parish, Louisiana—obsessed with boys and
swamped with social lives. If the other kids would quit calling her “hoodoo
hag,” she might have a small shot at normality. It would also help if Joan’s
weekend outings with her secret crush, Dave, weren’t always being interrupted
by her dead Grandmere, the legendary Marie Laveau. After all, it’s hard to make
out with your best friend when your grandmother is watching! But when you come
from a long line of voodoo priestesses with dried gator heads decorating the
wall of their huts, normal doesn’t come easily. 

When Joan witnesses the brutal sacrifice of a child to a tree Druid, she learns
her Grandmere’s scandalous past has come back to haunt those living in the
present. Hera, a vengeful voodoo priestess is determined to use the residual
energy of Pandora’s Box to revive a sleeping voodoo god and declare war on the
descendants of Marie Laveau, especially Joan. Suddenly, Greek myths are being
re-enacted all over town, and Joan has her hands full trying to sort it all
out. With the approach of Samedi’s Day—the voodoo day of resurrection—Joan must
learn to accept her destiny in order to stop the approaching threat to her
family and friends.

A bit about the author Mary Ann Loesch.

Mary Ann Loesch is an award winning fiction
writer from Texas. Her urban fantasy, Nephilim, was published in July 2011
by Lyrical Press Inc.  And an avid blogger
for All Things Writing and Loesch’s Muse .

Mary Ann has also contributed stories in the horror anthology, All Things Dark and Dastardly. Her latest book, Bayou Myth, was released
in June 2012. While she loves dirty Martinis and cuddling with her dachshund,
she loves fan mail even more! 

Contact her through her website .

So you’re an author. What next?

My Kingdom for a Platform
article by
Liz Schulte

So you’re an author. What next? The general consensus is you need a platform. But what on earth is a platform, and how do you create/maintain one.

A platform is more than collecting as many nameless faceless followers as possible and trying to shove your book down their throats. Despite what my mother thinks, my book isn’t for everyone, no book is. The idea is to build a network of people who hold the same interests and reading tastes as you and then to get to know them. This is an excellent thought, but how does one do this?

Social networks, book festivals, conferences, blog hops, and pretty much anything you think of that allows you to connect with readers. But before I get into specific social networks this is how you determine your reach and the areas you will want to build on your platform. 

  • How many people are on your email list or subscribe to your blog? 
  • How many followers do you have on twitter? 
  • How many Facebook friends or fans do you have? 
  • How much monthly traffic do you get?

Pay close attention to this last bullet point. You can have tons of followers and friends, but if they aren’t checking out your stuff and participating then they really don’t count. You need people who are actually interested in you and what you do. So that begs the question, what do we have to do to interest them? Twitter is sort of like speed dating. You get 140 characters to find, talk to, and connect with complete strangers. While blindly following (something I am so guilty of) will get you followers it doesn’t get you connections. Those you have to forge on your own by participating. Talk to people. Respond to their tweets and tweet interesting or discussion provoking thoughts rather than buy my book links. 

Facebook is a little easier to get to know people. There is more information and an easier forum for a relaxed conversation. However, how many of us really talk a lot to the people we don’t already know well? Especially with fan pages it is important to interact and once again to post interesting and entertaining posts. Even your biggest fan doesn’t just want to hear about your book all the time. Let people see who you are and the loyalty will come.Goodreads is definitely a source I think I under use. The groups would be a great way to meet people who are into your genre and talk to them (not sell your book to them). I also under use Google +. Mostly because between writing, editing, blogging, Facebook, and Twitter, I don’t have a lot of time left for other networks. It is more important at the start to limit the number of networks you are on so you can do them right than it is to be everywhere. 

Now that you have made some connections and you are building a fan 

base, how do you keep them interested? This is where the content comes in. There seem to be two types of strategies people have taken.

The first is the author persona-centric platform. This is the idea that you should use your blog/web site/social media persona etc. to talk about your book, your writing, and things that have to do with you book.

The second is the human-centric platform. This is the idea that the reader wants to get to know the person behind the book. They want to feel like you could be their bff and hear about your daily life and struggles.

I don’t love either of these strategies. First off, no one will keep coming back to your blog to have your books shoved at them constantly. That is no fun. Second, no one wants to hear about what you had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner unless they are a stalker. I think the middle ground has to be the key here. You have to talk about your book, but not too much. You also have to talk about your life, but not too much. It is our job to find a middle ground that will be interesting and engaging. Is this an easy task? Absolutely not. But the easy things in life are rarely the ones worth working for. 

Choices by Liz Schulte

The Guardian Trilogy

Olivia Martin’s afterlife was more dangerous and confusing than her life ever was. She thought she was ready to come back, to forget about Holden and to let go of the rage consuming her. Fulfilling her destiny as a guardian was all that mattered—the past could stay hidden in the crevices of her mind. However, when guardians are murdered and the evidence points towards jinn, she has to do something. To save anyone’s future, Olivia will have to confront the one person from her past she is terrified to see.

Holden waited for Olivia with the hope he would see her one more time. But when she didn’t return, he found salvation in darkness. The black and twisted road made it easier to forget what he lost than to live with the memory of what he had. An unexpected promotion shoves him into a world of intoxicating power and influence. Holden will have to choose between his new life and the woman he thought was gone forever.

From the ashes of Secrets, Choices are born that will change everything.

While Olivia Martin observed life through her camera, the abyss gazed back at her. She discovers mysterious men follow her around, people close to her are dying, and her dreams are no longer her own as she falls head over heels for a perfect stranger. A chance encounter leads to an obsession that could destroy everything she has ever known or loved. Olivia is about to find out there is a lot she doesn’t know and sometimes what you don’t know can kill you.

About Liz Schulte

Many authors claim to have known their calling from a young age. Liz Schulte, however, didn’t always want to be an author. In fact, she had no clue. Liz wanted to be a veterinarian, then she wanted to be a lawyer, then she wanted to be a criminal profiler. In a valiant effort to keep from becoming Walter Mitty, Liz put pen to paper and began writing her first novel. It was at that moment she realized this is what she was meant to do. As a scribe she could be all of those things and so much more.

When Liz isn’t writing or on social networks she is inflicting movie quotes and trivia on people, reading, traveling, and hanging out with friends and family. Liz is a Midwest girl through and through, though she would be perfectly happy never having to shovel her driveway again. She has a love for all things spooky, supernatural, and snarky. Her favorite authors range from Edgar Allen Poe to Joseph Heller to Jane Austen to Jim Butcher and everything in between.

Liz would love to hear from you and what you thought of Dark Corners from The Ella Reynolds Series and of course thoughts for The Guardian Trilogy Secrets and Choices are also welcomed.

Please stop by and visit at any of the below mentioned networks:

Something to whet your appetite – excerpt from Choices by Liz Schulte

I don’t know what I expected—certainly not the pain that tore through me when I opened my eyes. Feeling Holden immediately saturate my mind nearly shattered me and made me want to scream—or go back. I struggled and finally managed to shove him into a closet deep in my subconscious, where hopefully he’d stay until he disappeared forever—forgotten which was still better than he deserved.

Why did I agree to this?

Better yet, why didn’t my heart understand what my brain so clearly explained? Holden didn’t want us. He … No, I wouldn’t let myself do that. I would not think about Holden. He was dead to me. It was the only way it could be, the only way I could do this.

Quintus was waiting for me, all dimples and kindness—the traitorous bastard. Where was he when I needed him? Why didn’t he save me? The accusations running through my mind fell aside, as I noticed how weird things were.

Everything looked different making me sad that my camera would never be able to capture what I now saw—not that I had a camera anymore. Lights and colors shimmered through the air and the trees, like I was inside a snow globe that someone was relentlessly shaking. How had I not seen all the things around me? It was incredible.

The more Quintus spoke, the more I realized I had a lot to learn and plenty to distract me from the person I wasn’t thinking about. I was also not thinking about the fact that I’d been running around the forest stark naked giving Quintus quite a show until he made a crack about what we needed to do first.

I didn’t think it could get worse until Quintus made some god awful dress appear on me.

“So what now? Do we walk?” I squished my bare toes into the soft leaves beneath my feet. All I wanted was to not think about the past. The past was where he was and where I was angry at Quintus. I could only look forward now, because hindsight offered no solace, no future.

“Do you know where we are?”

“I assumed you knew. I mean you came here. I just appeared.” I frowned at him.

“I was sent the same as you.”

“So we’re lost? Great! What kind of operation is this?”

“Guardians are never lost.” Quintus flashed me his ridiculously deep dimples, but I felt no appreciation for them. There was only one smile I wanted to see—

Needing to keep moving, I trudged through the woods in the direction I was facing. I heard Quintus walking behind me. How could he come to get me without a better plan than this? How did I get stuck with the person who’d abandoned me to a demon? My afterlife sucked.

Blogs, websites, Facebook pages and anything else that you can’t do without as an author

That’s what’s in store for August, folks! I’ve invited authors and bloggers to introduce their favourite website (or blog or FB page or Twitter hashtag…)

Maybe you, yes you reading this, have a blog or website or… and wants to spread the word?

Do ya? Do ya really?

Of course you do. Don’t be shy.

See the ‘contact me’ button up the top on the left? Click it and tell me all about your blog or website or…

I really, really wanna know.

So does everyone else.

July’s discussions will be…

social media

June over already? You sure? Crikey, I blinked and missed it, I reckon!

OK folks, the theme for July is social media.

Social media is important for writers,
but what’s your favourite?  Is it Twitter
that floats your boat? If it is, how on earth do you reach out to people when
you need followers? What about LinkedIn, has anyone fallen in love with that
seemingly lost tool? Is it lost?

Google Plus+ is new and seems a mix of Twitter and FB, and
what of Facebook itself? It’s full of people’s photos of their kids, isn’t it?
Have you tried Triberr? My Space? DevianArt? Live Journal, Tagged, Orkut,
Badoo, Ning… just how many are there? 

What about Pinterest? Pinning pictures to virtual boards? What’s the point of that? 

Just how do you juggle your time connecting and building the author platform?

These are just some of the questions we will be talking about. I have a few spare slots because of authors dropping out so if anyone wants to get in on the discussion…? Well, email me and let’s talk!

Among the social media chats I’d like to introduce you to a new paranormal author Fiona Mayne who will be spotlighting her new book – The Curse of Fin Milton – – A Spooky Ghost Story and Supernatural Romance. Sounds good, right? And I’ll be interviewing Serena Fairfax about her novel Where the Bulbul Sings and finding out about her writing routine.

See you then!