Blog Tour: I Do Not Trust You by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

 

Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, authors of Sanctuary Bay and the Edgar-nominated mystery series Wright and Wong, are back with a story that features their signature plot twists and uneasy ever-changing alliances. I DO NOT TRUST YOU (Wednesday Books; September 11, 2018) is a thrilling journey at every turn that asks – what would you do to save the
ones you love?
Memphis “M” Engel is stubborn to a fault, graced with an almost absurd knowledge of long lost languages and cultures, and a heck of an opponent in a fight. In short: she’s awesome.
Ashwin “Ash” Sood is a little too posh for M’s tastes, a little too good looking, and has way too many secrets. He desperately wants the ancient map M inherited from her archeologist father, believing it will lead him to a relic with the power to destroy the world. M obviously can’t trust
him.
Equally desperate to find the relic for reasons of her own, M forms an uneasy partnership with Ash. From the catacombs of Paris, to a sacred forest in Norway, to the ruins of a submerged temple in Egypt, together they crisscross the globe in their search. But through it all, M can never be sure: Is she
traveling with a friend or enemy?

In their latest collaboration, Burns and Metz prove once again the magic that happens when two talented mystery authors work together. Going on M’s journey will have readers’ hearts race with every page. With its dangerous secrets and dark mythology, I DO NOT TRUST YOU is irresistible to any fan of YA thrillers.

Excerpt from I Do Not Trust You:

“You should’ve seen Miss Memphis here get into it with Nick last period,” Brianna said, squeezing in between M and Inez at their usual spot in the cafeteria. “She shut him down with her crazy ancient cultures voodoo.”

“He’s an ass. He’s lucky he’s hot,” their friend Ayana commented, waving her spork in Nick’s direction.

M shrugged. “I wouldn’t try to debate him in Physics. I just know more about Rome than he does.”

“What about AP Chem? Would you debate him in that?” Inez asked in a fake-serious voice. “Would you debate him in German class?”

“She’d debate him in German, in German,” Brianna joked. “And if he tried to fight back, she’d switch to Greek.”

M threw a French fry at her. “I can’t help it. I grew up speaking different languages.”

“And learning about pharaohs. And becoming well versed in the history of the Etruscan people,” Ayana said, putting on a fake accent that was probably supposed to be British. “Oh, and setting broken bones in the bush.”

“That only happened once,” M muttered. Her friends laughed.

“Anyway, it was epic. Thanks,” Brianna said. “I can’t stand fighting with people, and Nick always goes after me.”

“He knows you hate it,” M pointed out. “That’s why he does it.”

“An ass, like I said.” Ayana shrugged.

“You think he’s coming to the party tonight?” Brianna asked.

“Probably. Everyone else is,” Inez replied. “Even Memphis.” M made a face. “Anything to get out of the house. Bob and Liza would expect me to play board games with them otherwise.” Her friends exchanged a glance. M winced. “No offense.”

“Oh, were you offending someone?” Nick piped up from behind her. “Good girl.”

Immediately Bri looked down, while Ayana rolled her eyes. Inez just smirked, glancing back and forth between M and Nick.

“I was not offending anyone. I only meant I don’t like parties,” M said. She didn’t bother to turn toward him. It didn’t matter; he inserted himself onto the bench next to her anyway. A little tingle ran up her spine as the scent of his co- logne hit her nostrils, spicy and warm.

“Mmm, they’re boring. Everyone talking about the prom or the senior trip or whatever. I’m over it,” Nick said.

Me too, thought M, wishing she didn’t agree with him. She loved her friends, but even they were all about high school. M just didn’t care. High school was nothing more than what she had to get through before she could leave. After the crash, after the shock of Bob and Liza becoming her guardians, she’d asked if she could go off to college early, either Boston University or the University of Sheffield in England. Both had the kind of archeology program she wanted and would’ve let her in with no questions. They knew her father. They knew high school was a waste of time for someone like her.

But her guardians said no. They said she needed stabil- ity and normalcy after losing her dad. Never mind that traveling the world and taking care of herself was normal for her. While she and Dad technically lived in Boston, she’d never spent more than a few months there during the school year. They traveled. Half the year spent on digs. She missed it.

“What’s with this thing, anyway? Is it to fight off bad guys?” Nick teased, finding an excuse to touch her. He reached for M’s collapsible bo staff, tucked in the inside pocket of her jacket like always. But before he touched it, be- fore his flirty smile registered in her mind, M had already grabbed his hand, twisted it back to the breaking point, and used the pain to push him off the cafeteria bench and onto the floor. With her other hand, she whipped out the stick and shoved it up against his throat.

M froze. Hes just hitting on you. Her friends were aghast, and everyone nearby watched, openmouthed. Nick’s eyes were wide with panic.

“Sorry.” M stood up, leaving Nick on the floor. “I’m really sorry.”

“Freak,” he muttered, climbing to his feet. He glanced around, noticing the barely concealed laughter from onlook- ers. “Jeez, I just wanted a fry,” he joked, as if he hadn’t been humiliated, then hurried out of the cafeteria.

“What. The. Hell?” Inez asked. “He was flirting with you and you beat him up!”

“I know.” M groaned, shoving her staff back into her pocket. “I didn’t mean to. It was just reflex.”

Her friends were silent. She’d freaked them out. Should she explain the years of self-defense and martial arts training? That she and Dad ended up in some rough places? Her friends lived in a city, they understood danger. Sort of. In a nice, upscale Boston kind of way.

M sighed. There was no point in trying to explain. No- body understood her life.

“You kinda push all the guys away,” Brianna pointed out quietly. “Maybe not like that, but still . . .”

“I don’t do romance,” M replied. She was done with love, period. She’d loved her parents, and they were both gone. Love hurt too much. It was better to steer clear of it.

They all ate in silence for a minute.

“I mean, he is an ass,” Ayana said finally. And everybody laughed.

M: You up?

MIKE: It’s a 12 hr time difference. Of course I’m up.

M: Like you never sleep in on weekends.

MIKE: Fine, your text woke me.

M: I don’t think that glyph is a lotus. It’s bending the wrong way.

MIKE: It has to be a lotus. If it’s not, the whole phrase is wrong.

M: The rest of the phrase never sat well with Nefertum anyway.

MIKE: Your dad said it was a lotus.

 

About the Authors
LAURA J. BURNS and MELINDA METZ have written many books for teens and middle-grade readers, including Sanctuary
Bay, Crave, and Sacrifice, as well as the Edgar-nominated mystery series Wright and Wong. They have also written for
the TV shows ROSWELL, 1-800-MISSING, and THE DEAD ZONE. Laura lives in New York and Melinda lives in North
Carolina, but really they mostly live on email, where they do most of their work together.

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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: Sonia Hartl

 

 

Name: Sonia Hartl

Author of: Have a Little Faith in Me (Coming from Page Street, Fall 2019)

From: Grand Rapids, MI

 

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

The first thing I wrote was a book about penguins in the first grade for a school project, but I began writing more frequently in junior high, mostly poetry and short ghost stories.

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

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I started out majoring in creative writing in college and had a huge stash of poetry and short stories I’d written over the years. I didn’t write my first novel until 2005 though (I was 25) because a lot of fear and self-doubt kept me back. My first novel started as a short story, but it begged to be longer, and one day I just sat down and forced myself to try.

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

So many people. The writing community is amazingly supportive and helpful to newer writers just starting to find their way. Dannie Morin picked my manuscript for Pitch Wars in 2013 and changed everything for me. She taught me so much about plot, character arcs, organic dialogue, evocative narrative, all the things I needed to take my writing to the next level. I also met my long-time CP Jen Hawkins on the Pitch Wars Twitter feed while we were both hopefuls and she has been a constant source of support and wisdom over the years. And my agent Rebecca Podos is the best. She’s always encouraged me while pushing my writing to the next level, she’s truly my partner in this business in every sense of the word.

Do you exclusively write contemporary YA (young adult) or have you written in other genres?

I mostly write contemporary YA, but I’ve written in a few other genres and categories. My first manuscript was an adult dystopian, my second a YA ghost story, my third a NA romantic suspense, fourth and fifth were YA contemporary, sixth was a YA mystery, and seventh was HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME, which is a YA contemporary.

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

When I’m drafting I try to squeeze at least two hours of writing time in a night, and if I’m really into what I’m drafting, I’ll write up to ten hours a day on the weekend. The work, life, write balance is tricky, but I’m fortunate to work at a job that gives me a reasonable amount of vacation and my family is really supportive. Most of my writing time is crammed into the two hours I have free at the end of the night though, usually from ten to midnight.

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

That varies so widely from manuscript to manuscript. I had one take six months to draft and a year and a half to revise, and I had another that took a week to draft and two weeks to revise. Both of those are the exceptions though. I’d say average, it takes me about one to two months to draft and about two to three months to revise.

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

It definitely depends on how knowledgeable I am about the story I’m going to tell. I’m a big fan of immersive settings that tend to have their own set of rules and norms, so that requires a certain amount of research to write well. I’ve done everything from spending hours reading blogs on certain subjects, to hiring experts to read over my manuscripts for accuracy.

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

I don’t know if this is quirky or not, but I have dozens of first chapters for different stories in my Dropbox. I’ll sometimes write five first chapters for five different premises before I find one I want to progress to chapter two with.

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 have an excuse to visit Ireland or Italy. I did set one manuscript on a remote island off the coast of Boston, and I’ve been to Boston, but I’m not sure if that counts. I’d really love to visit a small town with a quirky festival that the whole town puts their hearts into and write a story based on that.

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

A lot of my inspiration comes from things I’m feeling strongly about at a particular time. I tend to create stories based around settings I’m curious about or obsessed with researching, and pair them with themes I’m passionate about diving into and subverting. I wouldn’t say there is an exact moment I’m hit with inspiration, but it’s more a slow growing interest that I need to write when I get to the point where I can’t stop thinking about it

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

I mostly read YA contemporary, because that’s what I write, but I’m also a huge fan of YA thrillers/mysteries. I also occasionally enjoy contemporary fantasy, romance, and sci-fi, and historical. I’ll read across all genres and categories, as long as it’s a good story and can hold my attention.

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

Absolutely. I think all writers do.

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

No, all my characters exist solely in my head.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

LUCKY FEW by Kathryn Ormsbee is so criminally underappreciated. It was such a fun, warm contemporary, and it’s one of those books that just makes you feel happy while reading it.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

I’d say maybe any book in Nora Roberts’ trilogies, but I don’t feel guilty about it, lol.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Not right now, there probably isn’t much to Google, but I might after my book is released. Just out of curiosity.

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

Probably a penguin, for no other reason than I really like them.

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

Pacing. I’m constantly second-guessing and doubting my plot points and if they have enough impact to keep the reader turning the pages.

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

Keep going. It feels like the climb is so uphill and the odds are so long, but if you keep going, keep learning, and improving your craft, you will get where you need to be in your own time.

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

I’m in the same boat, but maybe try to enjoy the ride. There is a lot about publishing that is completely out of our hands, so try to enjoy the things you can control.

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

I would say the biggest way is being a Pitch Wars mentor. I’ve been a mentor since 2015, and it is absolutely the most rewarding way to give back to the writing community. As a former mentee, I know how much it meant to me to be given the opportunity to learn from someone who was a few steps ahead of me on the journey. Being able to do that for someone else means the world to me.

Would you like to find out more about Sonia?

 

Have a Little Faith in Me

(Coming Fall 2019 from Page Street)

When CeCe’s born-again boyfriend dumps her after they have sex, she follows him to Jesus camp to win him back, though she knows nothing about Christianity. But when he shows up with a new girlfriend—a True Believer—she must face the truth about her feelings, and about the night she lost her virginity. Publication is set for fall 2019

Add Have  A Little Faith in Me to your Goodreads list  

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Author Spotlight: Laurie Bell

Name: Laurie Bell  

Author of: The Butterfly Stone (Wyvern’s Peak Publishing)

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing? I think it was a Choose Your Own Adventure story, about a female Doctor Who. I wrote it with a writer friend after school, (I still have it too). But I know I was writing stories well before then, this is just the one that sticks in my memory. I probably wrote fan fiction too… I loved the book The BFG when I was little so I would not be surprised if I wrote something along those lines.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession? Seriously? About 5 years ago, but I have been writing since I was a little kid and then when the internet came along I was writing online in various chats, message boards and blogs all the time. A lot of fan fiction stuff and a lot of my own musings, bits and bobs and things that made me happy. LOL I was an angsty teenager, so probably a heap of that too.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author? I did a lot of research online and I have a really good friend, who was also going through the author journey at the same time. We helped and still help each other a lot. Once I got onto the online writer community on Twitter things really took off. I have met some wonderful and supportive writers online, met some fabulous CPs (Critique Partners) and editors and friends. You sort of learn things together and help each other out. One person who really was fabulous was a fellow writer (who is also with my publisher). Lauren is an amazing writer and super supportive of her fellow authors.

Do you exclusively Sci-fi/fantasy or have you written in other genres? I mostly write Sci Fi and Fantasy. I’ve also dabbled in Supernatural Contemporary, but I am certainly more comfortable amongst spaceships and magic. It’s my one true love so to speak. When I was little my Poppa read me a book of short stories over and over about knights, witches, dragons and trolls… I got my first taste of fantasy sitting on his knee listening to him read.

 What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance? HA! Work life balance? What’s that? I work full time, so I mostly write on the train, at lunchtime and in coffee shops on the weekend. I aim for a chapter a week… sometimes I get more, sometimes less. Depends on the stage of the book I’m at, and, if I’m at the beginning, middle or end or if I am editing.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions? First draft usually takes about 6 to 8 months. Then up to a year of edits, depending on if I actually like the first draft or if I end up doing a major rewrite. I also send it to my CP’s for things I miss. My CP’s are the best in the world!

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book? As my books tend to be sci fi or fantasy, it’s not so much research as it is worldbuilding. But I do google a lot, read as much as I can, A lot of non-fiction science mags and books too. I enjoy learning and sort of absorb a lot as I read. It finds its way into my stories. In the end, my stories are about the people. Families and friends, so I also look around me at the way people interact with each other. The world is research if you sit back and look. (and a lot of TV and movies… As far as I am concerned… everything is research).

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)? Hmmmmm do I want to tell you? Haha, I don’t know that they are embarrassing, but yes quirky perhaps? I hand write my first draft (and I have awful handwriting… when I’m in a flow it’s hard to actually read my draft back. When I type it all up I can stare at the page for a good ten minutes trying to figure out what it was that I wrote!

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’d love to go to NASA one day. There is also a space array in WA, Australia that I would love to visit… or Hawaii, when there is not an eruption taking place (Mind you…. How amazing are the pictures? Mother nature at her most violent and beautiful.)

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects? Oh…. It’s funny. Sometimes it is a view, or an overheard phrase. With The Butterfly Stone it was actually a prompt. I wrote a short story based on a random prompt I read and loved the character so much I wanted to tell the rest of her story.

For Blood Fever (my upcoming novel) I can remember writing parts of it in my little rental on my recliner but I can’t remember the prompt. I know I wanted a female James Bond in space. Secret Agents and spaceships, who wouldn’t want that.

For White Fire (Jan 2019) well… I wrote that when I was 17 (way way way back in the past… and I wrote that because… well… Star Wars (originals). The Empire Strikes Back was my favorite movie. But I wanted Princess Leia to be Han Solo (In my head she was). So, I wrote the Star Wars movie I wanted to see when I was little. A kick ass hero who could rescue herself, defeat the bad guys and save the galaxy.

My newest WIP well… hahaha that came to me on the train.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites? Sci Fi and fantasy of course. Anything by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, Chuck Wendig. And fan fiction novels… you know, the novelisations that continue a TV show or move once it’s been cancelled? I LOVE those.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? Oh yeah, I have references all the way though, but mostly to amuse myself. IF people reading them find them and get the reference well, that’s like an added bonus!

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life? Yes and no, my characters – my main characters – are all based on who I wish I could be. (Brave, dangerous, awesome…)

Otherwise, mostly they are completely made up… though White Fire does have a few people in it that my friends know about 😊

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated. Do you have a couple of years? Hahahaha. Honestly, there are so many indie books that people just don’t know about. I am always giving friends recommendations of books I love. (For sci fi fans… you have to read The Illuminae Files) for Supernatural Noir (The Burned Man series)

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure. Oooooooo Pride and Prejudice. But I kinda wish Lizzy had told Darcy to go…. *rest of sentence deleted for inappropriate content*

Be honest: Do you Google yourself? Absolutely. Hahahah there is an American Footballer with my name so unless I put in “writer” or “author” in the search field I am always disappointed!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus? I like to believe it would be a wolf or eagle… Something about being a protector of the pack (but also a loner), but somehow I think it would probably be a house cat, like a Burmese 😊 (At least that’s what my partner would say)

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with? Grammar, OMG I’m not even trying to hide that one. And show… show show show *Sigh!*

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer? Don’t give up. Stick at it and ignore the people who tell you not to bother or that it is a waste of time and energy for little return. If you love it… do it anyway.

And to understand that rejections are not about YOU as a person. It’s a hard one to learn, but once you understand that, it’s a lot easier to accept a rejection and keep on keeping on.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? Don’t stop writing… ever.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers? I love reading, I will read anything anyone sends me (provided I have time). I love to read, so if you ask and if I have time, I will read anything for anyone and offer suggestions. I’m also happy to listen. It’s a tough business, sometimes just being there is enough.

Want to find more about Laurie?

The Butterfly Stone (The Stones of Power, Book 1)  

“DON’T LET THE SHADOW TOUCH YOU.”

Beware! Something is after Tracey Masters, a Mage-kind teen in a mostly non-magical world—a world where people like Tracey are often feared, and oppressed. Add to this stress a crazy family life, the schizo pressures of school, friends, and bullies, and working a boring job as an assistant at her uncle’s detective agency for magical types, and life isn’t just hard, it’s chaos! That is, until a mysterious woman walks through the door with a case about a missing necklace known as the Butterfly Stone.

The case seems to be the big break Tracey is looking for to prove herself and her abilities as Mage-kind. But she unexpectedly finds herself dangerously connected to it when the evidence takes a turn that reveals secrets from Tracey’s past, and places her friends and family in mortal danger.

She also discovers that she’s being hunted by a shadow that senses her magic is the key to unlocking the power it’s after.
The magic within the Butterfly Stone is too powerful to be contained, but if Tracey doesn’t learn how to control it, and escape the threat of the shadow that surrounds it, she could lose everything and everyone she cares about … beginning with her younger sister, Sarah.

Laurie Bell’s first young adult novel is fresh, fast-paced, and fun. It’s filled with what makes life interesting, hard, and yet, worth living. You’ll believe in magic again, but you’ll also remember that the magic of family and friendship is where life is best lived.

 

Get The Butterfly Stone from Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

 

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Book Release: Nocturne (Nightmusic Trilogy #2) by Heather McKenzie

 

NOW AVAILABLE IN PRINT!

Nocturne
Heather McKenzie
(Nightmusic Trilogy, #2)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Print Publication date: July 10, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Young Adult

I am hunted.
A pawn in a vicious game.
The only way I can protect the ones I love…
…is to disappear.

Finally free of her father, Kaya has the one thing that keeps her heart beating—Luke.

Blissfully content in his arms, everything seems perfect…until their world is shattered by a deadly invasion. When an old ally comes to the rescue, Kaya wants none of it. She is devastated to learn the identity of her attacker, and that she must do something truly heartbreaking if she wants to save the ones she loves. Sacrificing everything and sinking into bottomless sorrow, Kaya finds solace in an unlikely friend—one who shows her a different kind of love, and helps her discover an inner strength she never thought possible.

A heart-pounding journey of self-discovery, Nocturne is the transformative second installment of The Nightmusic Trilogy by Heather McKenzie.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

 

 

Author Bio:

Heather McKenzie is the Canadian author of The Nightmusic Trilogy. Also a professional singer/songwriter with five albums to date, she told stories through music for years before falling in love with novel writing. Heather pulls from her extraordinary experiences as a musician to fuel her passion for creating Young Adult fiction. She is a rocker at heart, a mom of three and an aspiring painter.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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Author Spotlight: Brenda Drake

 Name:  Brenda Drake

Author of: Analise Rising (coming January, 2019)

The Library Jumpers series: Thief of Lies; Guardian of Secrets; Assassin of Truths

The Fated series: Touching Fate; Cursing Fate; Seeking Fate (coming June, 2018)

Thunderstruck

 

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

I was eight, I believe, and it was a story about a rabbit looking for his lost carrots. It was horribly illustrated, but my grandmother loved it.

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

I always loved writing, but it wasn’t until I was home with the kids that I decided to give publishing my stories a try.

 

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

My journey to publishing started out without having anyone to talk to about writing. It wasn’t until I found Twitter and blogging did I find writer friends. I guess it’s been my many writer friends and my current editors who have read and critique my work that have helped and advised me on my publishing journey.

 

Do you exclusively write books with a  paranormal/fantasy twist  or have you written in other genres?

Currently, all my books have a paranormal/fantasy twist. I love being in the fantastical. I may try other genres one day, but for now I’m happy what I write. I think that’s the most important thing. You have to enjoy what you write because other parts of the publishing journey is difficult but writing should be enjoyable.

 

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

I’m so off balance when I’m writing a book. It’s all I concentrate on. I’ll write from morning to night, only stopping when I have to, when something needs to be taking care of. I keep trying to follow a schedule, but it never works. I’m just not good at being hemmed into a schedule. I write when the inspiration hits me.

 

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

It usually takes me four to six weeks to write a first draft and about a month for revisions. Then if I have time, I have a critique partner read it and revise it again.

 

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

Each book is different and has varying amounts of preparation and research. With fantasy, much of it is made up from your imagination and things come to me as I write. Mostly, I have to research real places that are in my books, maybe weapons and techniques for fighting and things like that. I do a plot graph of each book and it takes me several hours to only a few hours to plot out a story.

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

I have to have some sort of noise going while I write. Usually, it’s music. Sometimes it’s a movie that inspires me that I’ve seen so many times that I know what’s going on in it because I don’t pay attention to it while I’m writing. It’s weird, but I think it has to do with feeling lonely in the quiet.

 

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 done a pilgrimage. My dream is to do a tour of libraries around the world. That would be the best bucket list ever!

 

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

I can! With the Library Jumpers series it was in a book store and I came across a coffee table book on libraries. I thought how great it would be if I could jump into the photographs of each library to see them for real. For my Fated series, it was during a tarot card reading in New Orleans.

 

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

I prefer reading young adult fantasy. It’s my favorite, but I read in all categories and genres. For me, it’s about the story. If it interests me, I’ll read it.

 

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

Yes, I do. No one has pointed them out yet, so I may have hidden them too well. Ha!

 

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

They’re somewhat inspired by people I know in real life. I borrow traits and quirks from the people around me.

 

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

I can’t think of any one book. There are so many books I feel that don’t get enough marketing behind them that should.

 

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

I’ve thought and thought over this one and I don’t know if it’s a guilty pleasure or not, but I loved Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.

 

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Yes. And sometimes it’s sad. Ha!

 

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

I’d say an owl. They’re beautiful, quiet, and they look as if they’re always contemplating their next move.

 

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

Spelling and pronunciation. They’re my Kryptonite. After an accident, I had difficulties hearing sounds while growing up and it continues to this day. I’ll have my friends repeat a word several times so that I can get it. And I never mind being corrected because it helps me with it. I’m a little self-conscious speaking in front of large groups. I struggle, but I still do it.

 

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

Learn your craft. Read widely. The key to success is perseverance. If you give up, you’ll never accomplish your dreams.

 

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

Relax and enjoy the ride. Don’t spend too much on swag. And remember all authors get bad reviews.

 

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

I founded Pitch Wars and #PitMad as a way of paying it forward to others. I also mentor in Pitch Wars sometimes. Giving back to the community is rewarding and will make you life long friends.

 

Interested in learning more about Brenda or her books?

 

Thunderstruck

Stevie Moon is famous…at least to the subscribers on her comic review vlog. At school, she’s as plain as the gray painted walls in the cafeteria. So when Blake, the hot new guy at school, shows an interest in her, she knows trouble when she sees it. Been there. And never doing it again.

As the son of the god Thor, Blake Foster’s been given an important mission—to recover the Norse god Heimdall’s sacred and powerful horn before someone uses it to herald in the destruction of the entire universe. But while Blake is great in a fight, the battlefield that is a high school’s social scene is another matter.

Blake knows his only choice is to team up with the adorable Stevie, but she’s not willing to give him even the time of day. He’ll need to woo the girl and find the horn if he hopes to win this war. Who better to tackle Stevie’s defenses than the demi-god of thunder?

Get Thunderstruck from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 

The Library Jumpers Series:

 Thief of Lies

Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels-magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books-rescue them from a demonic hound.

Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik’s world and her own, before both are destroyed.

Get Thief of Lies from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

Guardian of Secrets

Being a Sentinel isn’t all fairytales and secret gardens.

Sure, jumping through books into the world’s most beautiful libraries to protect humans from mystical creatures is awesome. No one knows that better than Gia Kearns, but she could do without the part where people are always trying to kill her. Oh, and the fact that Pop and her had to move away from her friends and life as she knew it.

And if that isn’t enough, her boyfriend, Arik, is acting strangely. Like, maybe she should be calling him “ex,” since he’s so into another girl. But she doesn’t have time to be mad or even jealous, because someone has to save the world from the upcoming apocalypse, and it looks like that’s going to be Gia.

Maybe. If she survives.

Get Guardian of Secrets from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

Assassin of Truths

The gateways linking the great libraries of the world don’t require a library card, but they do harbor incredible dangers.

And it’s not your normal bump-in-the- night kind. The threats Gia Kearns faces are the kind with sharp teeth and knifelike claws. The kind that include an evil wizard hell-bent on taking her down.

Gia can end his devious plan, but only if she recovers seven keys hidden throughout the world’s most beautiful libraries. And then figures out exactly what to do with them.

The last thing she needs is a distraction in the form of falling in love. But when an impossible evil is unleashed, love might be the only thing left to help Gia save the world.

Get Assassin of Truths from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

The Fated Series:

Touching Fate

One touch is all it takes…

Aster Layne believes in physics, not psychics. A tarot card reading on the Ocean City Boardwalk should have been a ridiculous, just-for-fun thing. It wasn’t. Aster discovers she has a very unscientific gift-with a simple touch of the cards, she can change a person’s fate.

Reese Van Buren is cursed. Like the kind of old-school, centuries-old curse that runs in royal families. Every firstborn son is doomed to die on his eighteenth birthday-and Reese’s is coming up fast. Bummer. He tries to distract himself from his inevitable death…only to find the one person who can save him.

Aster doesn’t know that the hot Dutch guy she’s just met needs her help-or that he’s about to die.
But worst of all…she doesn’t know that her new gift comes with dark, dark consequences that can harm everyone she loves.

Get Touching Fate from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

Cursing Fate

There’s something strange about the Layne sisters, and Wade Diaz wants nothing to do with them. Especially the one who ripped his heart out and set it on fire before tossing it in the garbage several months ago. Iris. He can’t even think her name without unconsciously rubbing the spot in his chest where she left a gaping hole. But now her sisters are claiming some evil spirit is after his soul, and Iris is the only one who can save him. Well, at least his heart would stop hurting, right? Didn’t sound so bad.

Iris Layne has always been the sweet sister. She’s kind to everyone, including her best friend Wade… Until she makes a horrible mistake and breaks his heart. All she wants is to go back to before ‘the dumping’. Of course, Wade would rather see her in hell first. But then Iris touches her sister’s tarot cards and unleashes an evil curse intent on playing a deadly game where no one Iris loves is safe, especially Wade.

How do you convince someone they need your help when you’re the one who hurt them most?

Get Cursing Fate from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 

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Cover Reveal: The Aviary by Emily Shore

The Aviary
Emily Shore
(The Aviary Series, #1)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: March 5th 2019
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Young Adult

I am nobody’s Swan.

Beauty is now a corporate commodity, bought and sold on city streets and displayed in elite Museums.

Sixteen-year-old Serenity has spent her entire life in hiding, to keep safe from this decadent world. Overnight, her parents disappear, and Serenity is kidnapped, sold at auction, and thrust into the Aviary—an illustrious Museum where girls are displayed as living art by day and at night, cater to the lascivious whims of men who bid on their exhibits. Serenity has much to learn about this enthralling but competitive world where girls go by names like Raven and Nightingale and will stop at nothing to become top Bird.

The enigmatic and deadly Aviary Director, Luc, soon idolizes Serenity’s purity and aims to turn her into his grandest exhibit of all time—The Swan. In no time, she becomes the most coveted exhibit in the Aviary’s history.

Soon, Serenity learns that Luc holds the key to finding, and freeing, her parents. To save them, she must learn to play the Swan to perfection to win Luc’s heart, earn his trust, and save her parents. She doesn’t count on the fact that she’ll develop feelings for Luc in the process. Now, she’ll have to face an impossible decision: escape The Aviary and lose her only chance at finding her parents; or become Luc’s Swan for good, and lose her identity forever.

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Author Bio:

Emily Shore is a MN author with a B.A. in Creative Writing from Metro State University and was a grand prize winner of #PitchtoPublication, which led her to working with professionals in the publishing industry. Her anti-trafficking books Ruby in the Rough and Ruby in the Ruins are her first indie-published books with proceeds benefiting trafficking rescue organizations: Breaking Free and Women at Risk, International. This summer she will be debuting her first contemporary novel as well as re-releasing her paranormal series in the fall: Roseblood

Emily lives in Saint Paul with her husband and two little girls. In her free time, she enjoys connecting with rescue organizations and survivors of sex-trafficking, hearing their stories, and injecting their truths into her books for youth. She loves motivational speaking on the issue of sex-trafficking and is lining up more schools and libraries for the fall and winter, campaigning against sex-trafficking, baking, acrylic painting, interior decorating, and spending time with all the little girls in her life.

To learn more about Emily’s work and the anti-trafficking movement, see her Facebook page where she regularly blogs: www.facebook.com/authoremilyshore and sign up for her newsletter through the Contact Me on her website: www.emilybethshore.com

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Author Spotlight: Gloria Chao

Name: Gloria Chao

Author of: American Panda (Simon Pulse) and Misaligned (coming fall 2019)

 

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

I remember writing and illustrating a lot of stories as a kid, and here’s a sneak peek at one of them involving a…dun dun dunnn…missing snowglobe!

 

 

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

My husband saw how passionate I was about writing and was the first to suggest I pursue it professionally. It had never occurred to me before that moment that it was an option for me, and his belief in my words was what set me on this path. There were years of doubts that followed, but there is no regret.

 

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

On a whim, I submitted my query to The Book Doctor’s NaNoWriMo Pitchapalooza, and The Book Doctors became an important part of my publishing journey. They gave me invaluable advice about where my book fit into the market, and it was their idea to age Mei down to seventeen and write the book as young adult. I am forever grateful to them for their expertise and for also being the first in the industry to believe in me.

 

Do you exclusively write contemporary YA or have you written in other genres?

Fantasy was my first YA love, and there will always be a special place for it even though contemporary is my main love now. Most of my future book ideas are YA contemporary, but sometimes I do have a fantasy idea that will pop in. For now, I want to continue exploring realistic fiction, Asian American characters, and struggles with identity, but perhaps I will write in another genre in the future.

 

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

Because I’m lucky enough to write full-time, I don’t find it too difficult to achieve a life/write balance. While drafting and revising, I tend to live and dream my book to the point where I’m always thinking about it, but it’s more because of passion than necessity. Sometimes I do have to work around the clock to meet deadlines, but it’s a privilege I’m grateful for.

 

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

American Panda was drafted in one month for NaNoWriMo. I revised for a year and a half on my own, two months with my agent, then another five months with my editor. Misaligned was drafted in spurts over a three-month period during which American Panda was released, and most likely I will be in revisions with my editor for five or six months. Misaligned feels like the speed of light compared to American Panda!

 

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

For me, the book doesn’t start flowing until I find the protagonist’s voice. Most of my preparation involves free writing to try to figure out exactly who they are and how they talk. For Misaligned, I also did some research on 19th Century China!

 

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

Hmmm…my writing habits are: cup of tea, music in the background, two screens (one for Word, one for research). Because I live in Chicago, I need fingerless typing gloves and a mug warmer in the winter (and sometimes spring because our cold season is way too long!).

 

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

Nothing interesting, but for Misaligned, my husband and I have explored Indiana farmland. I’m hoping one of my future books will be set someplace more tropical 😉

 

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects? For American Panda, it was my husband telling me I needed to tell my story combined with my desire to write the book I needed as a teen. For Misaligned, my mother told me about a newspaper article she’d read describing a phenomenon in China. I immediately thought, This needs to be in a book, and the idea formed from there. My third book idea actually also started from a newspaper article.

 

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites? YA contemporary is my main love. Some favorites: The Hate U Give, The Sun is Also a Star, Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, They Both Die at the End, Starfish, You’ll Miss Me When You’re Gone, Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, It’s Not Me, It’s You.

 

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? Yes! I leave a lot of inside jokes to my husband in my writing. I also have some jokes for my family in there.

 

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life? Yes, almost all of my characters are inspired at least in part by people I know well, people I’ve met in passing, and people I’ve heard about from others.

 

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated. Starfish. I know it was a William Morris finalist and is critically acclaimed, but I think it deserves even more attention.

 

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure. Twilight!

 

Be honest: Do you Google yourself? I don’t. I just don’t want to know.

 

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

 

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

Write your story and focus on what makes you unique!

 

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

Congratulations, you did it!!! Figure out what works for you, and it might be different from others (i.e. how much social media, whether or not to look at reviews, etc).

 

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?
When I have time, I offer critiques of queries, Twitter pitches, and opening pages to aspiring writers. I also have a blog where I give my tips and share my publishing journey: https://gloriachao.wordpress.com/blog/. All the resources I used during my journey can be found here: https://gloriachao.wordpress.com/writers-nook/.

 

Want to know more about Gloria?

 

American Panda 

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth—that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

From debut author Gloria Chao comes a hilarious, heartfelt tale of how unlike the panda, life isn’t always so black and white.

 

Get your copy of American Panda from Amazon or Barnes & Noble  

 

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Cover Reveal: Travel Diaries of the Dead and Delusional by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Travel Diaries of the Dead and Delusional
Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: February 18th 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Nineteen-year-old Langley is crazy…like get out the straight jacket and prepare the padded room kind of crazy. She knows it, and the kicker is—she’s choosing to stay that way. She clings to the persistent and intrusive hallucination of her dead sister by choice. Sure, it might be nice to live life in the real world. But not if it means she has to let Sarah go.

Tupper’s life is charmed. He has loving adoptive parents, and several athletic college scholarships on the table. But his passion is for the arts, for the beauty of solid ink lines on paper. His illustrations are eerily similar to a keepsake from his birth mother, Anna: comic-book-style drawings scrawled across an old map…her version of a travel diary. At eighteen, Tupper sidesteps his planned future and starts his journey where Anna’s ended—following her map from Kansas City to Canada. His travels will put him on a collision course with Langley, and their bond is palpable from the start. But secrets will push between them—Sarah and Anna, two ghosts who could sink their icy fingers into the teens and tear them apart.

Perfect for fans of Colleen Hoover’s Hopeless and John Green’s Paper Towns, TRAVEL DIARY OF THE DEAD & DELUSIONAL is a unique and robust novel that explores themes of mental-illness and self-discovery from three distinct perspectives. Lauren Nicolle Taylor is the award-winning and best-selling author of Nora and Kettle and the beloved Woodlands series, among others.

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Author Bio:

Lauren Nicolle Taylor lives in the lush Adelaide Hills. The daughter of a Malaysian nuclear physicist and an Australian scientist, she was expected to follow a science career path, attending Adelaide University and completing a Health Science degree with Honours in obstetrics and gynaecology.
She then worked in health research for a short time before having her first child. Due to their extensive health issues, Lauren spent her twenties as a full-time mother/carer to her three children. When her family life settled down, she turned to writing.

She is a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist and a USA Best Book Awards Finalist.

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Book Release: Fading by Cindy Cipriano

Fading
Cindy Cipriano
(The Fading Series, #1)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: April 10th 2018
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult

Leath Elliott is a seventeen-year-old competitive shooter living with her mother in Woodvine, North Carolina. Leath’s father was killed in a tragic accident when she was fourteen, and her friend Victor Santana has been there for her every step of the way since. But the friendship starts to change when Victor develops deeper feelings for her. If that wasn’t complicated enough, newcomer James Turner, an emancipated minor with a dark past, wanders into her sights. Leath is captivated by him and wonders if he might be the boy of her dreams—literally.

Fading is the first book in an exciting new fantasy romance series by award-winning author Cindy Cipriano.

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GUEST POST BY CINDY CIPRIANO

Thanks for hosting me today. I’m thrilled to be here to talk about my new paranormal romance, Fading, and pass on some tips I’ve learned in my journey as an author. First, a little about Fading, which is the first book in The Fading Series.

Fading

Seventeen-year-old, Leath Elliott lives with her mother in the microscopic town of Woodvine, North Carolina. Leath’s father was killed in a tragic accident when she was fourteen, and her friend Victor Santana has been there for her every step of the way since. But the friendship starts to change when Victor develops deeper feelings for Leath. If that wasn’t complicated enough, newcomer James Turner, an emancipated minor with a dark past, wanders into her sights. Leath is captivated by him and wonders if he might be the boy of her dreams—literally.

Fading – Insider Info (or as much as I can tell you)

I often think of Fading as the VLJ story. As in Victor-Leath-James.

Being in love is wonderful, heartwarming, and can leave you breathless. But, sometimes, it is so confusing! If you have ever loved two people at the same time, you can relate to what Leath is going through in Fading. Although some readers have expressed their choice (Victor or James), many feel the way the same way Leath does; she loves them both.

As Leath soon learns, decisions of the heart are not always clear or easy to make. Thank goodness, she has best-friend, Anamae, to help her navigate the waters. On second thought, the word, “help,” might be a bit of a stretch

Feeling Extra? Readers are often surprised to learn that one of the settings in Fading is a real place. Judaculla Rock is a 2,000-3,000 year-old petroglyph located in western North Carolina. Several legends surround the origin of the rock as well as the images that are carved into its surface. I’ve had the opportunity to visit Judaculla Rock a few times and have really enjoyed incorporating this setting into Fading.

Which brings me to writing.

I’m often asked if I have any tips for new writers. The best suggestion I have is to join a critique group.

Now.

No, wait. Join one yesterday.

Learning how to give and receive thoughtful criticism will make your writing stronger. Writing is often an isolated endeavor. Being a part of a critique group helps foster a sense of community. It’s great having someone to turn to when you need to bounce ideas around. And, having a group discussion about your writing will help you see your story from a different perspective.

I’m also asked about the editing process. I’ll leave you with my best tip for editing.

Read your entire manuscript aloud. That really helps you notice mistakes and helps you smooth out the rough spots. If necessary, I suggest you record yourself as you read aloud the more difficult sections.

–Cindy Cipriano
–Please visit www.cindycipriano.com to learn more about Fading.

 

Author Bio:

Cindy Cipriano lives in North Carolina with her husband, son and their 27 pets.

Not really.

Just three dogs who think they are children and three cats who think they are raccoons. It only seems as if they make 27. When Cindy isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and the avoidance of cooking.

Cindy’s first novel, The Circle, Book One of The Sidhe won the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Silver Award for Pre-Teen Fiction – Fantasy. Other titles in the series include The Choice, Book Two of The Sidhe (2015) and The Lost, Book Three of The Sidhe (2017). This seven-book series is published by Odyssey Books.

Miller’s Island Mysteries #1 The Case of the Toxic River (2017) is the first in her eleven-book science mystery series (Vulpine Press). #2 The Case of the Catalyst will release in 2018.

Look for Fading, the first in her young adult series, in April 2018. (Clean Teen Publishing). Fading is the tale of first loves and the consequence of dreaming up Mr. Right.

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