Book Blitz: Hiro Loves Kite by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

 

Hiro Loves Kite
Lauren Nicolle Taylor
(Paper Stars #2)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: August 27th 2018
Genres: Historical, Young Adult

We offer our wounds and scars. Understanding that’s part of what makes us beautiful.

Nora finally has her beloved sister Frankie back but that’s just the beginning of their struggles. She must now become Kite. A stronger, more independent version of herself. A King. A guardian.

And Kettle has Kite’s heart. She gives it freely. But as he holds it, dear and close like a lost treasure, something holds him back: A feeling that he doesn’t deserve good things. A looming shadow that threatens to separate them. Kettle must accept that he is also Hiro: A Japanese American with every right to happiness and freedom.

Because Hiro loves Kite. And Kite won’t wait forever for him to tell her.

But they’re standing on icy ground. As the leverage they had on Kite’s abusive father wavers and life on the street affects Frankie’s health, the challenges threaten to break their bond.

Snow is gathering at the station doors and doubts are piling high. They must rely on each other. Believe in the magic that got them this far. If they don’t, it’s not just their future in jeopardy but the fates of all the street kids in their care. All the Kings.

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EXCERPT:

Frankie Comes Home…

Paying for a hot dog in pennies and dimes is embarrassing. Being two pennies short and having the hot dog stand guy take pity on us was completely humiliating. We’re skinny. I just hope the Kings haven’t eaten everything we had stored away.

Without Kin and Keeps, there’s been a little more to go around. My shoulders sag. Now there are more mouths to feed. My fingers scrape the insides of my pockets, searching for a coin that maybe got snagged in the seams. If I turn them inside out, I really will look like a street urchin. I’m the pirate who opens the treasure chest, finds he’s been beat, and opens it again just to rub it in. I snort.

We wait for a large crowd to head for the subway and melt in. Frankie’s eyes are as wide as a sliced moon as we weave and duck. Eyes on each other, hands gripped tightly.

Kite pushes Frankie’s head under the turnstile as I pay with our last coin. She presses her back into me. The smell of faint perfume, the last of her old life, and salt, the new, coming from her hair. As I reach around her to push the stile, a two for one, her breath catches. I let my hand rest on her waist for a second. Let myself imagine we’re a couple on our way home from a shopping trip, and then it falls like so many un-granted wishes into a fountain.

Leaning close to her ear so she can hear me, I hold my breath, thinking inhaling any more of her sweetness may actually kill me. “Ready?”

She nods. Her cheek brushing my lips.

We take our route to the secret door. To the home we now share like kids playing house, only far too real.

Frankie, to her credit, rolls with the punches. Punch one: Hot dogs instead of roast beef and gravy for dinner. Punch Two: Cheating our way through the subway. Punch Three… I knock on the King’s door, and Krow answers. He looks us up and down, slick and distrustful for a moment, then breaks into a grin. “Kettle! Kite!” he shouts. “Kettle and Kite are home.” He stares at my hands. When he sees there’s no food—only a suitcase—he quickly looks away. But there’s no hiding his disappointment.

Frankie squeezes her way through the doorway into the vast, abandoned subway tunnel. My home. My refuge. And now hers. Blinking, she stands on her tiptoes. Lip in teeth. “Holy hell!” she shouts, and several Kings look her way.

Kite flushes pink, then taps her sister’s shoulder. “Frankie!” she chastises. “Language.”

We step inside, and Frankie swings her head from side to side. “I mean tank you, holy hell.”

We both chuckle, eyes connecting over the top of her head.

Punch three: “This is where we’re going to be staying for a while,” Kite’s voice chases after a galloping Frankie as she jumps from bed to bed. She is the spokes of a traveling star. She is the light you can’t catch.

Frankie doesn’t hear her, and Kite runs to catch her sister. I drag the case inside, plonk it on Kin’s bed. Now Kite’s to share with her sister.

Finally, Frankie stops running and presses a palm to her chest as she wheezes. Kite rushes to her, and she puts both hands on her sister’s shoulders. “Are you okay?”

Punch four is for me, and I feel it sock me right in the guts. As I watch them, I know. Like really know that I would do anything to help them. They are instantly and permanently part of this family. And it scares me.

Author Bio:

Lauren is the bestselling author of THE WOODLANDS SERIES and the award-winning YA novel NORA & KETTLE (Gold medal Winner for Multicultural fiction, Independent Publishers Book Awards 2017).

She has a Health Science degree and an honors degree in Obstetrics and Gynecology. A full time writer, hapa and artist, Lauren lives in the tucked away, Adelaide hills with her husband and three children.

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Author Spotlight: Rebecca Carpenter

Name: Rebecca Carpenter  

Author of: The Metamorphosis Series: Butterfly Bones (Book 1), Butterfly Blood (Book 2, Available 8/28/18, Lakewater Press)

From: Fruita, Colorado

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

I began writing as soon as I could form a sentence on paper. But the first piece that brought attention to my writing was a poem I wrote in the third grade entitled, “Love Is…” My poem won a contest, and I was placed in a creative writing course with other winners. That’s when I knew my words had power.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

I think I have always wanted to pursue writing as a profession, but until my kids were raised, I just didn’t have the time. But I didn’t begin with novels. After watching one-too-many poorly written movies, I told my husband I could write a better script than that, and so I did. I bought the software needed for screenwriting and went to town. My first two screenplays won Honorable Mention in the Colorado Screenplay Awards. But after realizing how hard it is to break into screenwriting, I decided to switch to novels.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

My SCBWI critique group was amazing. And after I used a professional editor, she hooked me up with a local writer to help me learn the “craft” of writing. We have been weekly critique partners ever since, and she has taught me a wealth of writing tips.

Do you exclusively write young adult or have you written in other genres?

I write screenplays, drama and Rom-coms, and I also dabble in picture books and middle grade.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

I write any chance I can: at work during rest time for the children in my prekindergarten class; in the evenings after supper; early mornings on weekends, and sometimes all day in my pajamas on weekends.  It is quite difficult to balance my writing and family time. My husband complains often of my lack on involvement with him. So I try to shut off the computer and give him quality time as much as possible. This is a challenge when I work sixty hours a week, copyedit part time, and copyedit for Lakewater Press as well.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

A first draft can take me anywhere from six months to a year, depending on how much time I have to devote to writing and how much research I have to perform.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

I use a general plotline, as well as write my premise and goals for my point-of-view characters. I use characterization sheets in the beginning to make sure I stay true to facts and personality traits unique to each character. I typically research as it comes up in the script. This way I can be writing and putting my ideas onto paper as they come to me instead of finding myself bogged down in research.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

Not that I know of. I do have to be surrounded with noise, so I write in the front room with the television on. And if I talk to my hubby on occasion, I can usually get away with it.

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

I wouldn’t call it a pilgrimage since I only traveled a few miles. But I visited our local butterfly house and asked lots of questions about raising butterflies and the laws surrounding that. Interesting to find out butterflies are categorized by the government as a pest, and special permits must be obtained to keep and breed them.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

Inspiration comes in spurts for me. Either feast or famine. So I’ll be flooded with fifty ideas, and I write them all down, or I can go months with nothing. But Butterfly Bones came from a song by The Cure, called “Caterpillar Girl.” It started as a horror, but ended up being a soft science fiction. Darn characters think they know the story better than the writer. J

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

I love to read thrillers, but I also will read anything that’s well-written. Don’t care the genre. Since I work with children, I also love picture books.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? I use family names as well lots of foreshadowing, but nothing all “cloak and daggery.”

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

Sometimes, but not always. I try to give each one a distinct personality by drawing off people I know, but sometimes they are purely made up from my imagination.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

I loved Defending Jacob by William Landay. The twists and turns in that book and then the climax were so unexpected that I still think about them, even after years of reading the story. I hope to see it made into a major motion picture someday.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Twilight series.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Nope. But my hubby does.

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

A butterfly, of course.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

Promotion. Promotion. Promotion.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Never. Give. Up. Keep reading. Keep writing. Join a critique group.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? It takes time to write the story, and it takes time to build your audience. Keep at it. Keep at it. Keep at it.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

I offer free critiques, Beta reading, and give as much advice as I can on my blog. I am always open for questions or general writing advice.

Do you want more information on Rebecca and her books?

 

 Butterfly Bones (Metamorphosis, Book 1)

HER BONES. HER FUTURE. HER SACRIFICE.

“I wish I was a normal fifteen-year-old. I have dreams that I am.”

Fifteen-year-old Bethany Keatley’s life is anything but perfect. Yet despite a rare bone disorder cursing her with the body of a ten year old, a dead mom, and being a target for the school bullies, things could be worse.

She owes her life to her scientist father and the butterfly hormone racing through her blood.

But the discovery of unexpected and horrifying side effects means her dreams of leaving the small-minded town of Springs, Georgia to become a scientist have all but shattered.

Her world becomes a prison and her existence a life sentence.

The only thing keeping Bethany fighting is her true love, football star Jeremiah Wright—if only he felt the same way. And now, with the clock ticking and her future uncertain, courage and the determination to survive must drive her decisions.

But nature has other plans, a sacrifice for Bethany’s life.

In this award-winning incredible debut, Rebecca Carpenter brings to life the “haunting and twisted story” of one girl and an ending that will blow your mind.

 

Get Butterfly Bones on Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

 

 

 Butterfly Blood (Metamorphosis, Book 2)

HER BLOOD. HER LOVE. HER FREEDOM.

“How many of my sins will have to be paid for in blood?”

Sixteen-year-old Bethany Keatley finally has the healthy body and looks she’s always desired. But the price she’s had to pay has left her traumatized.

The only thing making her battle on is the memory of that kiss with Jeremiah.

Now miles from him and living in Florida with an aunt she’s never met, shocking revelations about her parents are too much to bear. After collapsing from exhaustion and shock, Bethany wakes in a hospital bed awaiting test results—results that might lead to the discovery of her unusual butterfly blood.

But that’s the least of Bethany’s concerns when the doctor informs her she’s infected with a parasite and without immediate treatment she’ll die.

Too young to refuse and too weak to fight back, Bethany’s life once again hangs in the balance. Yet her scientific knowledge and suspicious nature lead her to unravel a horrifying web of lies.

Will nature intervene again, demanding another payment?

In this stunning sequel to the award-winning BUTTERFLY BONES, Rebecca Carpenter raises the stakes and offers up an intense and heartbreaking ride that will leave you shocked to the core.

 

Get Butterfly Blood from Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

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Book Review: Butterfly Blood by Rebecca Carpenter

“Nature demands payment. And nature demands balance.”

With the events of Butterfly Bones barely behind her, Bethany Keatley has just begun to settle into her new life when mother nature rears her ugly head again.

Cured of her bone disease and still reeling from her father’s last act, Bethany is now living with her aunt Denise in Florida and trying to adjust to a “normal” life. But the secrets from her past are threatening to rise up and destroy her chance for a new life.

First Bethany discovers a dark truth about her father. And then her miraculous cure, provided by the butterfly DNA that now courses through her veins, may actually prove fatal. But is the danger in the cure, or in the doctors who seem far too invested in studying her further?

In a parallel story line, Jeremiah is also dealing with the events of that last night at the Keatley house. He is not only grieving Bethany, but with losing everything he knows about himself. And there’s also that dark monster in the corner of his mind that’s demanding to be set free.

Butterfly Blood (book 2 in the Metamorphosis series) is an intense, action and emotion packed follow up to a truly unique novel and I couldn’t out it down.

 

*I received a copy of Butterfly Blood from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Butterfly Blood (Metamorphosis, Book 2) 

HER BLOOD. HER LOVE. HER FREEDOM.

“How many of my sins will have to be paid for in blood?”

Sixteen-year-old Bethany Keatley finally has the healthy body and looks she’s always desired. But the price she’s had to pay has left her traumatized.

The only thing making her battle on is the memory of that kiss with Jeremiah.

Now miles from him and living in Florida with an aunt she’s never met, shocking revelations about her parents are too much to bear. After collapsing from exhaustion and shock, Bethany wakes in a hospital bed awaiting test results—results that might lead to the discovery of her unusual butterfly blood.

But that’s the least of Bethany’s concerns when the doctor informs her she’s infected with a parasite and without immediate treatment she’ll die.

Too young to refuse and too weak to fight back, Bethany’s life once again hangs in the balance. Yet her scientific knowledge and suspicious nature lead her to unravel a horrifying web of lies.

Will nature intervene again, demanding another payment?

In this stunning sequel to the award-winning BUTTERFLY BONES, Rebecca Carpenter raises the stakes and offers up an intense and heartbreaking ride that will leave you shocked to the core.

Get Butterfly Blood from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

About Rebecca Carpenter

Rebecca Carpenter is a native of western Colorado. She is married with two grown children and has been blessed with five amazing grandchildren. She owns and directs a large childcare center where she shares her love for books. She also works as a part time freelance copy editor and interns as an assistant to the editor for a small press, helping others attain their writing dreams.

 

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Author Spotlight: Barbara Quinn

Name: Barbara Quinn

Author of: The Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me (Lakewater Press)

Speed of Dark; Hard Head (Eternal Press)

36C; Slings and Arrows (DiskUs Publishing)

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

I started writing early; at five or six years old. I remember my brother and I put plays on for my parents and the rest of the family. The first piece I wrote that was “produced” was for my Girl Scout Troop.

It was a “fractured fairy tale” in which Evil Red Riding Hood tormented the sensitive Big Wolf. It was a musical. I wrote the songs and directed too! Much polite parental applause made me feel wonderful.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

I’ve never stopped writing. For a number of years I practiced law which paid the bills. I drafted laws and briefs and contracts but even then in the mornings I’d carve out a little time to work on a short story. I also worked for a few local papers covering trials and writing a legal column for laymen.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

The author Noel Hynd encouraged me to keep at my writing. He discovered a piece I had written in a writing area I used to manage and we became friends. I learned to write the parts I know from him and not worry about the rest, and to up the emotional impact of my story.

Do you exclusively write contemporary women’s fiction or have you written in other genres?

I’ve written in several genres: Fantasy, paranormal, romantic suspense, chick lit. I’m currently working on a steampunk novella. And a big women’s fiction that’s eating me alive.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

It’s very hard for me to find time to write, but I do set aside time in the late afternoons to sit down and let out whatever it is that is pent up. I’m not working full-time any longer, but life and family do occupy a lot of time. As does procrastination.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

A first draft usually takes me a year to complete, sometimes more. I can spend another year revising.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

I do a lot of research as I hate to be inaccurate. I recently spent hours learning about hot air balloons. And for my Springsteen book I spent hours poring over his lyrics and listening to songs to find the right match to what my main character, Sofia, was experiencing.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

I need quiet to write. And not much life chaos spinning in my brain to distract me. Once I start rolling, I lose track of time and place. I used to set an alarm when my son was in school so I’d remember to pick him up. I began using an alarm after I did once get lost in a writing fog and forget the time. I rushed to school to find him waiting alone outside his classroom. Never again!

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

One of my books, Hard Head, has a scene set at the Palio in Siena, a fascinating horse race around the town square filled with intrigue and pageantry.. They bring in dirt to cover the square to make a track. I devoured every article I could about this ancient race. After publication, I visited Siena and enjoyed walking around the square. I didn’t see the Palio as it’s held only twice a year, but I did get to imagine it right there.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

For me inspiration is an amorphous fog that’s always with me and I never know what’s going to pop out or when. At some point everything starts to gel.  I can’t control it but I have to sit down and trust the process  can happen.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

I read mostly fiction. I love anything by Anne Tyler, T Coraghessan Boyle, Christopher Moore.I also loved Enders Game by Orson Scott Card. My favorite books of late are the Elena Ferrante Neapolitan trilogy. What a consummate body of complex but entertaining fiction she’s written.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

I tend to name characters after people who have helped me out along the way. I do try to make those characters nice ones and not kill them off!

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

For sure! I often reach back in time to my own childhood and to the advice given by my parents and grandparents. The grandfather in Hard Head is a blending of my father and my grandfather. They were from Calabria and the Calabrese who are known for their stubborness and hard heads, literally and figuratively ,are called Testa Dura, which translates as hard head. The Summer Springstgeen’s Songs Saved Me is a tribute to the healing power of Bruce Springsteen’s music and I’ve always been a Bruce fan. My book 36C is a story of a gal who sells lingerie. I did that for a summer job once.  And Speed of Dark opens with a scene of kids pedaling their bikes behind a DDT truck that’s spreading it’s poisonous gas to kill mosquitos. Amazingly, the kids in the neighborhood, incuding me, used to do that.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

A Confederacy of Dunces. It’s the funniest novel. It’s received many awards,but I think it deserves more widespread acclaim.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Nope. Don’t have one. I’m a picky guilt-free reader.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Haw! I have a Google alert set for my name in case it’s ever mentioned. But there are other Barbara Quinns out there so I get more of those than about me!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

The dolphin! I see them quite a lot in Florida and at the Jersey shore. Recently I took a boat ride with a dog that knew where to find them and manatees. It was  fascinating and magical to see the interaction of these different caring and protective species.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

I wish I were more productive. I work very slowly.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Persist. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Enjoy! It’s real.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

For many years I published an online literary ezine called The Rose and Thorn. It was staffed by volunteer writers and we gave many, many, writers their start in fiction and poetry publication. I enjoyed that venture. Now, aspiring writers write to me asking for advice and I’m happy to help them along the path.

Interested in learning more about Barbara?

 

The Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me 

Catching her husband with his face between the long, silky legs of another woman is the last thing Sofia expects–and on today of all days.

So, after scratching an expletive into his Porsche and setting the cheating bastard’s clothes on fire, she cranks up her beloved Bruce and flees, vowing never to look back.

Seeking solace in the peaceful beachside town of Bradley Beach, NJ, Sof is determined to divorce and start over. And, with the help of best friends, new acquaintances, a sexy neighbor, and the powerful songs of Springsteen, this may be the place where her wounds can heal. But, as if she hasn’t faced her share of life’s challenges, a final flurry of obstacles awaits.

In order to head courageously toward the future, Sofia must first let go of her past, find freedom, and mend her broken soul.

 

Get The Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

Speed of Dark

There are some people you never forget. In the summer of 1964, Luke D’Angelo falls for one of them–a mysterious girl named Celeste. Like Luke, Celeste is an outsider struggling to find her identity, but unlike Luke, Celeste has special powers that have the potential to destroy everything Luke and his friends believe in.

Luke and his mentally challenged sister become fast friends with this curious girl. Set in upstate New York, in a town that is home to a shrimp cocktail plant that belches a foul-smelling tomato and fish fog, this coming of age tale about a girl with a dream and the teens who want to help her fulfill it, is a balance between the comic and the profound. The story resonates with the message that inside each of us is a light that burns so bright no dark can extinguish it. But at what cost?

 

Get Speed of Dark on Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

 

Hard Head 

A mother and daughter discover some things can be more deadly than the Mafia…

Rosanna Sweeney defies her father’s deathbed order that she never go to Italy. She and her teenage daughter journey across Italy to the Calabrian town of her father’s birth. In their quest, they find romance, learn about one another, and uncover a past that links them to secret societies far worse than the Mafia. Can they survive their dark legacy?

 

Get Hard Head on Amazon or from Barnes and Noble

 

 

 

36C 

Tressa Connell dreams of finding the right fellow, of putting her graphics art degree to work, and of traveling to Venice. The reality is that she’s stuck in a dead-end job selling lingerie to rail-thin women who prowl the high-end Manhattan boutique where she works. Hounded by a helmet-haired boss, befriended by a troubled Latina makeup artist, and wooed by a Jewish cop, Tressa also has a giant grandfather clock strapped to her back, a bushel of eggs in her arms, and her mother cracking a Pampers whip over her head.

 

Get 36C from Amazon 

 

 

 

Slings and Arrows 

When massage therapist Ellen D’Este separates from her husband her life begins to unravel. In an attempt to reinvent herself, she encounters a female spiritualist and a handsome stranger who turn her world upside down. Can she find love, faith and meaning in life or will she be the unwitting pawn of a charlatan?

 

Get Slings and Arrows from Amazon

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Author Spotlight: Jeri Baird

 

Name: Jeri Baird

Author of: Tokens and Omens; Curses and Warfare (Jolly Fish Press)

Upcoming:  Barnabas and Bird Run Away From the Circus

 

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

In grade school, I was obsessed with writing stories where I flew to Mars. But my first attempt at writing as an adult was a chapter book called Brother Rabbit, Brother Skunk where a skunk was adopted into a family of rabbits.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

I’ve always loved reading, but I was in my 40’s before it occurred to me that I could write. I was in a group setting where the ice-breaker question was “What is your secret dream?” It surprised me that what came out was “I want to be a published children’s author”. It was few more years before I actually started writing.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

Lots of people helped me become a better writer through workshops and critique groups. SCBWI has been instrumental in my writing journey.

Do you exclusively write young adult or have you written in other genres?

I write young adult and middle grade.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

It’s hard to achieve any kind of balance when writing a first draft. I’m either obsessed or too tired from work to do anything but think about it! I can revise in short time frames, but first drafts, for me, require time and energy. And I frequently have to go somewhere else to write, as home distractions keep me from being productive. I don’t want to know how much I’ve invested in local coffee shops!

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

Each book is different. I wrote and revised Tokens over a few years. Curses was done in a year (I had a contract to fulfill). Barnabas and Bird was written in two months and didn’t take much revising.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

With Tokens, I read a lot about the middle ages and the Romani people. Eventually, I abandoned that setting in favor of a tribal one. I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time on researching names!

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

Not a big secret – I always write by hand with a pencil and notebook. I don’t plot, so I seldom know ahead of time what’s going to happen. I usually “get” the end about 25% of the way in, and I write toward that. I’m often surprised at what happens. Sometimes I’m appalled at a plot twist, but I leave it in, thinking I can always take it out later. I’ve never taken one out. Poor Zephyr in Curses had one of those.

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

No, but I’d love to see England, Scotland, and Ireland in person!

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

When I’m close to finishing a novel, I always get an idea for my next book. Who knows where those come from? Not me. My novels have varied from contemporary to fantasy.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

Fantasy is always my favorite, but I also read contemporary, especially in middle grade. You can check out my Goodreads bookshelf to see all the books I’ve read in the last few years. I often re-read my favorites. And here’s a quirk – I almost always read the end before I get there. Especially in a tense section, I need to know that things are going to turn out all right. It never spoils the book for me to know how it ends.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

Yes.  🙂  What? You think I’m going to tell?

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

Nope, but there are parts of myself in each character I write.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

Stoner by John Williams. I loved it so much, I’ve read it twice. No one I’ve recommended it to has had anything good to say about it.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Fifty Shades of Gray

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Of course! I want to know what other people will see if they look me up.

As a writer, what animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

A spider. Metaphysically, the spider is the guardian of language and the magic of writing.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

Setting is something I struggle with – finding a balance between too much and too little.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Read.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Write the next book. (couldn’t do it in one word!)

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

I share my story of becoming a “published author”. It wasn’t quick or easy, and I hope I encourage other writers to never give up. I remain a part of my critique group, letting the others know that I still need help, and I’m always happy to meet with aspiring authors.

Where can people find more about you?

 

Tokens and Omens 

In Puck’s Gulch, sixteen-year-olds undergo a dangerous trial known as the Quest. During a time of magic, Fate hands out tokens and omens based on their behavior. Zander trusts Fate. Alexa only trusts herself. Now, Fate has given them each a special gift—Zander sees secrets he doesn’t want, and Alexa’s thrilled to find she can control events through her embroidery scenes. After Zander and Alexa each earn a omen that makes surviving the quest nearly impossible, they must break the rules and challenge Fate together. If they don’t, one will die. And Fate has made it clear—she won’t be cheated.

 

Get Tokens and Omens on Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

 

 

Curses and Warfare

The day twins Zander and Alexa became adults, Moira, the embodiment of fate, revealed that Zander would become a leader of warriors and Alexa would be a fortuneteller of great power. Moira instructed the twins to use their talents to prepare their village, Puck’s Gulch, to fend off an imminent invasion.

Now, six months later, Zander is struggling to convince the quarrelsome villagers of the impending danger and unite them in a single cause to protect the village. Meanwhile, Alexa struggles to get along with her mentor, the fortuneteller Melina Odella. As the battle draws near, the twins and their few allies are further than ever from their goals, and all the while traitors lurk in the shadows, taking every opportunity to bring Puck’s Gulch to its knees.

Get Curses and Warfare on Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

Barnabas and Bird Run Away From the Circus

In the tradition of timeless stories, BARNABAS AND BIRD RUN AWAY FROM THE CIRCUS blends humor and poignancy to create a story of friendship and loss.

Barnabas is self-centered and a bit too verbose. His best friend, Bird, loves him anyway. Devastated to learn he’ll never grow big enough to join his family in the world’s largest elephant act, Barnabas struggles to show Papa he can be big in other ways. Challenged by his older brother, Barnabas embarks on a quest to prove he’s brave. Of course, his tiny canary friend joins him.

With top hat, goggles, a map, and a lucky peanut, the duo fly across the country on a raft guided by a wind that whispers destiny, destiny. Barnabas encounters a whale, a herd of bison, crows, and cows, but they aren’t enough to make him feel brave. The duck, duck, and goose confuse him with their questions. And those s-s-s-snakes on the island in the Great Lakes! Shudder!

Then, Barnabas discovers Bird’s big secret. It’s almost too late before Barnabas learns that becoming a true friend might be the bravest thing he could do.

(coming soon)

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Author Spotlight: Victoria Gilbert

Name: Victoria Gilbert 

Author of: The Blue Ridge Library Mystery series

Book One: A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS (out now) Book Two: SHELVED UNDER MURDER (July 2018), Book Three: PAST DUE FOR MURDER (early 2019)

From: Crooked Lane Books

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

As soon as I realized that those marks on paper made words, I was writing little stories and poems. I don’t really remember the first one, but a short story about a girl who gets a black kitten as a Halloween gift sticks in my mind.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

Even though I continued to write poetry and stories throughout my life – and I always wanted to complete a novel, although not necessarily for publication – I didn’t decide to pursue writing professionally until about six years ago.

I actually had a long career as a librarian before pursuing writing professionally.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

I can’t list one person, but I will acknowledge my two wonderful critique partners, who have offered friendship and support along with advice. Both are published (or soon to be published) authors: Richard Taylor Pearson and Lindsey Duga.

I also received a lot of information and support from the other authors over on the writing website, Agent Query Connect. http://agentqueryconnect.com/

Do you exclusively write mystery or have you written in other genres?

As Victoria Gilbert I write only mysteries. However, under my other penname (Vicki L. Weavil) I have also written and published YA and adult Fantasy and Scifi

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

It was definitely difficult while I was still working full-time as a library director at a small university. However, I have been fortunate enough to retire a little early so now I am writing full-time.

I write for several hours a day. The rest of the day is devoted to maintaining my author social media presence and undertaking writerly promotional activities, as well as walking, cooking, and keeping up my house and garden. Once I meet my current deadline (on book three of my series) I hope to also add in some volunteer work at my local food bank.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

Although I prefer a six month window, I can write a 80,000 to 85,000 draft in approximately four months – sometimes I’ve done it in three! I then spend about a month on revisions, although for my current book I’ll need to cram that into two weeks. (Life got in the way and put me behind schedule this time).

Of course, that’s just my original revisions. My publisher is great about doing extensive editing passes, so I often do much more revision later, based on my (very talented) editor’s suggestions. Then there are copy edits, proofing, etc. So the book undergoes a lot more editing and revision than just my initial pass.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

It depends upon the book. As a former librarian, I am pretty well versed in research (and actually enjoy it). I do some preliminary research before I begin writing the first draft, but there’s always stuff that crops up while I’m writing so I never say my research is done until the book is complete.

I use a mix of resources – library books, online sources, and even original source material in archives.

I am a planner – I create character lists, family trees, age charts, and so on, and I outline each book fairly extensively. (However, I do adjust the outline as I write the actual book).

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

Not really. (But then, if I don’t want anyone to know them, why would I share them here, ha-ha?)

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

My current series is based in the area where I spent a large portion of my life – rural northern Virginia, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I have gathered some information when visiting family in that area to add to what I already know.

As for a dream destination – I have planned a future book in this series that (partially) takes place in the Tuscany region of Italy…

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

Yes, but for most of them it was just one little thing I saw or heard or read that formed the kernel of an idea. I tend to do a lot “what if?” thinking and that’s often how I take the kernel and grow it into a book.

Now, there was a very specific situation that inspired an important component of A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS but I can’t tell you what that was, because that would actually be a spoiler!

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

I love mysteries and thrillers – I enjoy everything in that genre, from hard-boiled detective novels to psychological thrillers, to cozies. I also enjoy some fantasy and science fiction, and literary fiction. Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll basically read anything if it is well-written!

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

Yes. There is a word I include in every book at least once. Only my husband and I know what it is. It’s our private joke. (And no, I’m not telling).

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

Not really. I do draw inspiration for characteristics, appearance, and behavior from people I know or have known. They are not necessarily people I’ve known well, though. I also collect information from simply “people watching” or other observations of strangers.

But none of my characters are ever specifically based on a real person. They are always their own unique selves!

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

Anything by John Crowley, but especially LITTLE, BIG and his latest, KA: DAR OAKLEY IN THE RUINS OF YMR. I mean, he IS acknowledged as a master by many people in the writing world, but I think he should be more well known by the general public too.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE by Anne Rice. I really am not much into vampire stories (and don’t enjoy some of the later books in that series) but I do love that one.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Rarely. I did that more when I started out, but I have learned (the hard way) that sometimes, especially when it comes to online comments and/or reviews, ignorance truly is bliss!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

It would have to be a wolf. First – because I admire them and believe they are majestic, wonderful, but often misunderstood creatures. And second – in honor of Luki, my snow queen’s beloved wolf companion in my first published book (written as Vicki L. Weavil) – CROWN OF ICE

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

Promotion, promotion, promotion. I really dislike dealing with the “advertising” side of publishing, which is why – although I have tried it – I have not been very successful with self-publishing. Honestly, I do NOT look down on self-publishing and truly admire people who do it. Well. But I’ve found that I am happier – and more successful — when I’m simply assisting my publisher with their publicity efforts rather than doing it all myself.

Also – waiting. There is a LOT of waiting in this business, and sometimes I really struggle with my need for patience!

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Experiment – don’t close your mind to other genres, ideas, age categories, or opportunities. Maybe you love speculative fiction and want to write in that genre, but for some reason your work keeps being rejected or ignored. Well, maybe it’s time to try something different. Write that picture book or middle grade contemporary idea that you think is just something you doodle on “for fun.” Jump into a new genre, or switch from YA to adult (or vice versa). Don’t think you’re funny? Try to write a humorous story anyway. Think you’re too cynical to write Romance? Throw aside all those doubts and spin the most romantic yarn possible. There is no penalty for experimenting with new things, and you never have to show your creations to anyone if you don’t want to.

But you know what? You may find that your true niche is quite different than you imagined. Your humorous middle grade contemporary may garner you the agent and incredible deal you couldn’t get with another genre. Expand your horizons and allow yourself the freedom to “play” a little. You may be pleasantly surprised!

I say this because it definitely happened to me. When I seriously started writing, I never thought I would end up as a cozy and light mystery author. But here I am, and very happy too!

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Persevere – there are a lot of ups and downs in this business, and things can change in the blink of an eye. You may think you’re headed down one path but encounter a roadblock that propels you onto another road. It’s okay – change is okay. Being up one day and down the next is normal. Go with the flow and plan to be in it for the long game. Your career isn’t over if your first book (or books) don’t do that well. Neither is it guaranteed if you have one “hit.” Continue to write, to experiment, to hone your craft, and to expand your horizons. Over time you will find YOUR way, and that is the career you want.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

I am a mentor for the Sun vs Snow writing contest; I offer presentations on query writing and finding the right agent to local writing groups; I beta read and critique manuscripts for a few people, including my critique partners; I share writing advice and support on social media; and I sometimes critique queries and first pages for aspiring authors who I’ve met via social media or in person at conferences and other events.

Where can people find more about you?

Find out more about Victoria on her website

Like Victoria and connect on her Facebook page

Follow Victoria on Twitter

Find out what Victoria is reading–and writing!– on her Goodreads page

See what has caught Victoria’s interest on her Pinterest page

 

A Murder For The Books

Fleeing a disastrous love affair, university librarian Amy Webber moves in with her aunt in a quiet, historic mountain 

town in Virginia. She quickly busies herself with managing a charming public library that requires all her attention with its severe lack of funds and overabundance of eccentric patrons. The last thing she needs is a new, available neighbor whose charm lures her into trouble.

Dancer-turned-teacher and choreographer Richard Muir inherited the farmhouse next door from his great-uncle, Paul Dassin. But town folklore claims the house’s original owner was poisoned by his wife, who was an outsider. It quickly became water under the bridge, until she vanished after her sensational 1925 murder trial. Determined to clear the name of the woman his great-uncle loved, Richard implores Amy to help him investigate the case. Amy is skeptical until their research raises questions about the culpability of the town’s leading families… including her own.

When inexplicable murders plunge the quiet town into chaos, Amy and Richard must crack open the books to reveal a cruel conspiracy and lay a turbulent past to rest in A Murder for the Books, the first installment of Victoria Gilbert’s Blue Ridge Library mysteries.

 

Buy Links for A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS

 

Shelved Under Murder

October in Taylorsford, Virginia means it’s leaf peeping season, with bright colorful foliage and a delightful fresh crew of  

tourists attending the annual Heritage Festival which celebrates local history and arts and crafts. Library director Amy Webber, though, is slightly dreading having to spend two days running a yard sale fundraiser for her library. But during these preparations, when she and her assistant Sunny stumble across a dead body, Amy finds a real reason to be worried.

The body belonged to a renowned artist who was murdered with her own pallet knife. A search of the artist’s studio uncovers a cache of forged paintings, and when the sheriff’s chief deputy Brad Tucker realizes Amy is skilled in art history research, she’s recruited to aid the investigation. It doesn’t seem to be an easy task, but when the state’s art expert uncovers a possible connection between Amy’s deceased uncle and the murder case, Amy must champion her Aunt Lydia to clear her late husband’s name.

That’s when another killing shakes the quiet town, and danger sweeps in like an autumn wind. Now, with her swoon-inducing neighbor Richard Muir, Amy must scour their resources to once again close the books on murder in Shelved Under Murder, the charming second installment in Victoria Gilbert’s Blue Ridge Library mysteries, perfect for fans of Jenn McKinlay and Miranda James.

Available July 10, 2018. Buy (preorder) Links for SHELVED UNDER MURDER 

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Author Spotlight: Stephanie Eding

Name: Stephanie Eding

Author of: Unanchored (April 17, 2018; Anaiah Press)

From: Convoy, OH

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

In high school, I spent quite a bit of time writing short stories, skits, or fan fiction. It wasn’t until about four years ago that I wrote my first book. It was a young adult fantasy about a group of teens that fought off nightmares in the dream world. I had a blast writing it and still love that world, but it didn’t go anywhere.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

I think I’ve always knew this was what I wanted to do—I just didn’t know how to do it. I began with writing for newspapers, and it just wasn’t for me. When I finally got brave enough to attempt a book, I truly thought that all you had to do was write it, proofread it, then send it off to a publishing company and it’d be on shelves within a few months! I have certainly learned a lot on this journey! This is definitely what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

You know, I truly don’t think I’d have kept going without my writing group. I met them a few years ago for Camp NaNoWriMo, and we became friends right away. They’ve always been the first to dive into my stories and help me work out the kinks. I’d also say the editors from Pitch to Publication/Revise and Resub have been invaluable to me. I am always learning from them, and they are some of the kindest people on earth!

Do you exclusively write historical fiction or have you written in other genres?

I always thought you had to pick a genre and stick to it. If that were the case, I’d be doomed! I began writing fantasy, then moved to historical fiction (UNANCHORED), dabbled in MG, and am currently polishing up a women’s fiction.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

This is such a tough one for me to balance. I’ve got two kids—ages 5 and 7—and I’m a freelance editor for a couple different outlets. My work time generally only happens while the kids are at school or in bed, which can make for a choppy workday. Most days, my editing takes up the entire time my kids are in school, and my only writing time happens at the tail end of the day when I have no energy left. It really is hard to balance, but oftentimes I find that diving into my created worlds gives me the most energy. Granted, there are also days when I can’t stand to stare at another word on the computer screen and have to just curl up with a bowl of ice cream and some Seinfeld. And that’s OK too. I’m slowly, slowly learning to allow myself some down time when my brain has had enough.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

My speed has significantly decreased over the years. I wrote UNANCHORED in about 40 days—but spent a couple years editing off and on prior to publication. For my women’s fiction (my latest work), I worked on it off and on for over a year.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

I definitely need an outline to write. Before I can begin a new story, I have to have at least my main plot points listed and a few chapters planned out. Particularly with pirates in UNANCHORED, and being a historical fiction, I had a lot more research involved than anything else I’ve written. I bought several books on the Golden Age of Piracy (which is soooo fascinating!), watched movies and documentaries, and, of course, Pinterest-ed all the things. I generally find the research phase to be one of the most fun parts of the journey. There’s not as much pressure to get it done, you learn so much, and you get to immerse fully in a world that you wouldn’t normally dive into.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

Hmmm. Well, I crush hard on my love interests to the point that I become a giggly mess. Finn in UNANCHORED is my favorite to date. I also have a ritual for finishing a draft or final edit: I grab a glass of wine, crank up “Whoomp (There It Is)” by Tag Team, and have a dance party of one.

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

I haven’t. But, oh, do I desperately want to! My husband and I keep saying that we’re going to head down to the Caribbean one of these days to hit up Barbados (which is the main setting in UNANCHORED’s sequel). I also desperately want to head up to Wales and Ireland and explore the coasts where my pirates have traveled. There are some trips where you get to sail on these old ships and they teach you the ropes of ship life. THAT WOULD BE AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE! It would be so much more fun than watching cheesy videos about it on You Tube. J

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

I think a lot of them grow steadily. Usually, I’ll start out with an idea for a character I can’t live without and develop the story around them. With UNANCHORED, I vividly remember lying in bed one night and seeing a girl pass a biscuit through the cell bars to a prisoner—someone she once hated but now wants to save. That scene made it all the way to the final draft and will always be one of my favorites!

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

I really don’t think I have a favorite anymore. If I had to pick, I’d say light fantasy.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

Ooooooooh yes! My favorite thing is when someone very close to me reads the book and finds a little nugget I hid in there that someone I don’t know would never catch. My contemporary stories have a whole lot more of those than the historicals, but I’ve got them in both.

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

Not usually. There are definitely instances of that in some places, though. My heroines are generally made up of characteristics I wish I had more of. For example, in my women’s fiction, Josie is quick-witted and sarcastic and not afraid to voice it. I think those things but never vocalize them. I wish I could!

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

I don’t hear nearly enough about Ann Aguirre’s RAZORLAND TRILOGY. I couldn’t put those books down!

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

I really don’t know what I’d say for this one. Maybe bios by comedians? I thoroughly enjoyed (and laughed super hard!) when I read books by Jim Gaffigan, Betty White, Neil Patrick Harris, and Ellen DeGeneres.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Occasionally—just to see what pops up first. I know there’s a science to Google searches and the internet, but my mind can’t wrap around it!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

That would be a cat. I have three of them in my house, and I fully support that they do completely nonsensical things at random, find their greatest joy in eating, and sleep 18 hours a day.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

Where to even begin??? For one thing, I’m a slow reader. You’d think after all these years I’d get faster—nope. I also struggle a lot of with making plots work. I had to shelve a young adult contemporary that I just LOVED and worked really hard on, because no matter how many times I edited it, I could not get my readers to connect with my plot.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Become a critique partner for as many other new writers as you can. The art of critiquing is one of the best things you can do to grow your own abilities.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Calm down. I spend so much of my day freaking out about what people will think of my book. It’s such a vulnerable thing to have it out there for the world to read! It makes it hard to enjoy the dream-come-true aspect. But it’ll be OK—I think. J

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

I feel like I’m cheating a little bit on this one. I’m also a freelance book editor, so I get to work with other writers all the time. One of my favorite things is to participate in Revise and Resub where I get to know hundreds of authors through interacting on Twitter and offer feedback on a variety of levels. I love working with fellow writers. It’s so great to be able to cheer each other on toward shared goals!

Where can people find more about you?

  • For more information about Stephanie please visit her website
  • You can keep up with Stephanie on Facebook
  • Follow Stephanie on Twitter
  • Get book updates, news, and ideas from Stephanie on Goodreads

 

Unanchored by Stephanie Eding

 

Cecily Hastings fails to escape her captor when he gambles her away in a game of dice. Now, instead of getting her first taste of freedom, she’s rotting in a cell on the Hellbound, a pirate ship under the command of Captain Finnigan Worley. Cecily, however, has no plans of sticking around with a captain known for his heartless deeds.

As soon as they make port, Cecily attempts to alert the Royal Navy. While trying to get away, she stumbles upon Captain Worley liberating people from a life of abuse and servitude, which makes her question everything she thought she knew about the infamous buccaneer.

Soon she’s recaptured and taken back to the ship, and Cecily vows to figure out the captain’s humanitarian angle. The more she learns, the more she believes in his benevolent mission. With the Royal Navy closing in, she must decide if she’s willing to fight beside Captain Worley or turn him over to the gallows for a chance at her own freedom.

Order your digital copy of Unanchored from Amazon

 

 

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