Saturday, March 28, 2015

#CoverReveal for The Black Oracle by @MCristianoWrite

Congratulations to Michael Cristiano on his upcoming debut!


THE BLACK ORACLE
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Release Date: May 11, 2015
Cover Art: Alexandria N. Thompson

On a post-apocalyptic Earth, humans are not alone.
Joachim is a hunter. Though generations have passed since the Great Death, something has evolved in the trees beyond the giant glowing mushrooms, mutants that want to see human entrails spread along the jungle floor.
And now they've taken Joachim’s wife.
To get her back, Joachim will have to give the leader of these demons something in return: immortality. A creature knows when he is going to die, after all. Plunged into a world of magic and darkness, Joachim must find the only woman in who knows where the ingredients are. She is a prophetess known as the Black Oracle living in the realm of Zalm, but she’s a little preoccupied at the moment. She leads a rebellion against the ruthless High Council, and when Joachim seeks her out, he too finds himself consumed by her struggle.
In a story of betrayal, prophecy, and bloodshed, Joachim has ten days to retrieve the ingredients and return to Earth all while evading the High Council’s army, one that wants the Black Oracle and her associates killed — Joachim included.
Add it to your to-read list on Goodreads!

-------

Michael Cristiano is a Canadian writer. His relentless obsession with fiction began long before he could even spell the words 'relentless obsession'. Growing up in endless suburban sprawl, he spent most of his childhood getting lost in fantastical masterpieces and attempting to be published by the age of thirteen.
When he isn’t writing or reading, he can be found planning his next backpacking trip around the world. He is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto with studies in Foreign Language and Linguistics. Previously, he attended a Regional Arts high school where he majored in drama. He is fond of all things dramatic.
Michael currently resides in the Greater Toronto Area and he is using his years as a twenty-something to establish what he hopes will be a long career in writing. The Black Oracle, his debut novel, is due for publication on May 11, 2015.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A first look at the TITLE and FIRST PAGES of book 3 in The #DecemberPeople Series!

I bought this image from Shutterstock, it's not cover art or anything like that. But cool, right?

If anyone is keeping track, this post went live on March 20th at 5:45pm CDT, which is the exact moment of the vernal equinox--the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator. So...happy spring everyone!

At this magically important moment, I'd like to share your first taste of book 3 in The December People Series. Introducing...A TASTE OF DEATH AND HONEY.

(unedited)


Wind moaned through the greenbelt, whipping and twisting the plastic shopping bags stuck in the trees. Samantha Carthage played with Imogene's long black curls, relishing the warmth and weight of Imogene's head resting on her stomach. Samantha's own hair had grown long and intermingled with Imogene's. The blackest black and lightest blonde looked so perfect together. She wanted to braid their hair together into one strand.


Another gust of stubborn winter air caused an army of discarded fast food containers to tumble across their patch of fresh green clover. Samantha ran her fingers along the goose bumps that erupted on Imogene’s brown skin.


"You don't have to pretend it's not cold," Samantha said. "We can go inside."


"Inside?" Imogene sat up and widened her amber eyes in a look of mock horror.


Samantha laughed. "Okay, you're right.”


Imogene held her hair back with one hand to keep it from whipping wildly in the breeze, and leaned down to kiss Samantha. Samantha thought Imogene always tasted like honey. Imogene would roll her eyes and say that on her best days she might taste like toothpaste or cinnamon gum, but no, she tasted like honey. Always.


"It's not cold," Imogene said. "It’s the most beautiful day of the year."


Samantha knew Imogene meant this as a compliment for her, and not the day. Despite the fact that wizard spring had long since begun—spanning 45 days before and after the equinox--and despite the fact that they defiantly wore sandals, no one could call the cold, gray day beautiful.


However, Samantha could not imagine a day better than that particular March 4th. Over a year ago, when the summer wizards had determined her magical date to as March 4th, they labeled her as ‘too cold’…on the wrong side of the equinox they had explained. So, at first, she didn't like her date. Too warm for the winter. Too cold for the summer. She didn't have a home anywhere.


But, she didn't feel that way anymore. March 4th hovered in the gray area between winter and spring, but that's why she loved it. March 4th breaks the winter. The first flowers began to raise their heads. She first felt sun on her face and knew winter would end soon. And that beautiful moment was her moment.


Though much of the grass remained dead from winter, they had found a spot where the ground had erupted in a lush carpet of clover. Samantha could almost smell the life bursting from the earth, ready to replace every touch of gray with green after green after green.


Imogene stood up and pulled Samantha up with her. "Lets not go inside. Lets just go. Further and further away until they drag us back."


"Yes."


Imogene ran deeper into the greenbelt surrounding the neighborhood that contained Metarie Parrish Children's Shelter. Discarded syringes, condom wrappers, and other filth littered the thin, trashed-out greenbelt. But spring didn't care. Spring seemed to blossom around Imogene as she half walked, half skipped along. Greens glowed a little brighter. Flowers opened a little wider.


"I can't believe that Officer Pike didn't see us leave campus. I thought for sure, he would catch us," Samantha said.


"I guess the gods wanted us to have a happy day," Imogene said.


Imogene always looked happy. Samantha saw the weariness of a hard life in Imogene’s amber eyes, but her lips always lingered on the edge of a smile. She seemed to know something no one else did, about how it would all turn out okay in the end. Around Imogene, Samantha felt that way, too.


Samantha would never forgive her mother for neglecting her and leaving her, but she took her last words to her to heart. Dance then, wherever you may be. That described Imogene perfectly. She could find beauty anywhere. She could make the trashed out greenbelt with graffiti covered rocks feel like Eden.


"Oh, no," Imogene said.


Imogene kneeled and her long black curls fell to the ground covering whatever she cradled in her hands.


Samantha also kneeled in the carpet of dense green moss that seemed to have erupted from nowhere, and gently pulled Imogene's hair to the side so she could see what she held. Imogene had a baby bird in her hands. The poor bird looked crushed on one side, and Samantha could see some reddish purple guts spilling out. Ants feasting on the creature now walked up Imogene's forearms. Samantha tried to brush them off.


"Put it down," she said gently, trying not to swat the disgusting thing about her hands. "It's already dead."


"I'm not sure."


"It's definitely dead." Samantha pulled Imogene's hair away from the dead thing. She wanted to jump up and down going 'ewewewewewew' and then drag Imogene to a vat of hand sanitizer. But Samantha knew Imogene wouldn't appreciate her finding the "beautiful" cycle of life and death icky.


"I feel more powerful when I'm with you," Imogene said simply. Despite the tenderness of the statement, Imogene didn’t look at Samantha as she spoke. She never took her eyes off the bird. "I wonder…"


"What?"


Imogene closed her hands around the bird and closed her eyes. She looked like a child praying at the edge of her bed. Samantha watched flyaway strands of Imogene's hair twist and twirl in the breeze and listened to the sound of wind and cars on the nearby highway, wondering how long Imogene planned on kneeling there in silence.


Then Samantha heard chirping.


Imogene laughed breathlessly, and opened her hands to reveal a whole, living baby bird, shaking the ants off of its wings. She held it up to Samantha in her cupped hands as if offering a present. Samantha didn’t know if Imogene wanted her to take it, but she didn’t dare touch the thing. When Samantha didn’t respond, Imogene set the bird on the ground and watched it hop away. Her usual smile looked pale in comparison to the beaming white-toothed smile she sported now. Imogene stood up and threw herself into Samantha's arms, giggling like a small child on Christmas.


Samantha squeezed her back, but now she felt a chill even with Imogene pressed against her.


"Imogene…," she said.


Imogene pulled back a little and looked ready to do a cartwheel. "I did it. I finally did it. I've gotten close before."


Tears hung from Imogene’s eyelashes like crystals. Samantha could guess the time she had "gotten close". However, Imogene had never told Samantha that part of the story. Meddling with life and death was forbidden. And there wasn’t much sense in trying. Wizards couldn’t raise the dead. They just couldn’t. Everyone knew that.


"You can't do that," Samantha said lamely. "It's not possible."


"You just saw me do it."


"God. What are you?"


"Please don't look at me like that."


"I'm just…surprised."


Imogene wrapped her arms around Samantha and whispered close to Samantha's ear. "You're the reason I could finally do it. Because you make me happy," she said simply.


"Me too," Samantha said. The two words didn't seem like enough. "I love you," she added.


They hadn't said 'I love you' before, and with every silent second that passed, Samantha's stomach turned into a tighter ball. Why doesn't she say something? In fact, Imogene had grown so still and quiet in Samantha's arms she wondered if she had stopped breathing. Samantha wished she could reach back and grab those three words back, go back to a place before she had ruined that perfect moment. Samantha took a deep breath of Imogene's hair, hair that somehow always smelled like rain.


When Imogene finally moved she pulled back just enough to look Samantha in the eye. Samantha didn’t know what expression she expected, maybe pity, maybe embarrassment, maybe happy speechlessness, but Imogene just looked distracted. She looked through Samantha instead of at her. Her perpetually happy face, that overflowed with job a moment ago, now seemed cast in shadow.


"Are you okay?"


When Samantha spoke, Imogene directed her gaze back to her and she smiled sadly. As always, her smile had that faint hint of a secret, but a darker one this time.


Samantha shivered. Clouds must have rolled in because it seemed so much darker and colder than it had a moment ago. Samantha looked up automatically, but didn’t see any new clouds or even a low flying plane blocking the sun, just the same white sky. She couldn’t stop herself from shivering now. The air felt cold, but also painfully dry. Even with a deep breath, she didn’t seem to get enough oxygen. The air, once filled with the smells of new grass and the sounds of the highway, had emptied as if a pocket of deep space had passed over them.


“What is going on?” Samantha asked, rubbing her arms, which seemed to burn from the cold. Imogene continued to stare blankly, her eyes not focused on anything. “Are you okay?” She asked again.


"Yes. I'm okay. I'm wonderful." Imogene blinked and seemed to snap out of her reverie. She looked at Samantha now as if she had just now noticed her presence. She smiled and then kissed her, in a gentle, lingering way, far slower than usual.


Then, Imogene turned and ran. Punchdrunk form the kiss, it took Samantha a moment to follow.


"Imogene," she cried.


Imogene followed all sorts of strange things. Butterflies. Rainbows. Sunsets. Thunderstorms. She might run toward anything at any moment. But something about this felt different. It felt wrong.

Tribute to Spring Wizards 2015 #firstdayofspring #springequinox


Happy first day of spring! Today is one of the most important days of the year because of the hopeful, enduring symbolism of spring. Spring is a promise that winter always ends and life always returns. Every year, since the beginning of time, warmth and life have returned to the earth. No matter how cold or long the winter, flowers bloom again in the spring.

Working with the spring theme in book three has been powerful for me. It's hopeful, but also frightening. Despite the resilience of spring's return, spring is also fleeting. Each year, the flowers have to die, and you have to trust that new flowers will return again. Spring is just a handful of beautiful days. Blink and it's gone.

Last year, I wrote a Tribute to Spring Wizards, and everything I said then was true, but in writing book 3, I learned so much more. In book one and two I focused on solstice wizards--winter and summer. All those wizards were rather unpredictable, and had a way of surprising me, but spring wizards have surprised me even more. With winter and summer, I felt like I was always calling those wizards back to the side of good. They always wanted to tend toward evil. 

Spring wizards are not like that at all. No matter what I throw at them, it's very hard to turn them evil. They have trouble turning evil even if they want to. Their deepest essence is all about life and hope--so powerful that it can't be tainted. They are far braver than I ever expected, living life with much less fear than other types of wizards.

Samantha Carthage

Of course, like all types of wizards, spring wizards aren't all the same. Samantha's parents were so afraid of pain that they chose death instead, and abandoned their daughter. Samantha's aunt does the same--so interested in living in the present and doing whatever she wants, that she's not capable of taking care of a child. There are downsides to living in the now. Holding on to the past and future can hold you back, but ignoring them hurts you too. The past makes you strong. The future gives you hope. You need both to truly appreciate the present.

I'm dying to share more about some of the spring wizards in book 3, but I don't want to give out any spoilers, so I'll keep quiet. BUT I am releasing the first few pages of book 3 later today! Come back to the blog to get the first taste of book 3.

The December People Spring Celebration #Giveaway

Happy first day of spring! The December People may be pro-winter, but we think spring is pretty great too. I have four prizes to giveaway to my lovely readers! Imagination is great, but wouldn't it be nice to actually taste, smell, and feel book 3? Well, that's exactly what I'm giving away.

Due to the nature of the prizes, I'm afraid I have to make them U.S. only, but I do encourage international friends to enter. Any international winners will get their choice of a paperback of Destruction or Watch Me Burn in lieu of the other prize. Actual prizes may vary slightly due to availability at the time of purchase.

PRIZE #1 - A rosemary bath kit

PRIZE #2 - Springtime chocolate


PRIZE #3 - A bag of real lily bulbs for your garden



PRIZE #4 - A taste of honey via Burt's Bees
ENTER NOW!!







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Monday, March 16, 2015

#CoverReveal for Game of Love by @AraTHEWriter #sports #romance

Today we’re revealing the cover for Game of Love, a new sports romance from Ara Grigorian! Check out all the fun details about this sexy romance and enter his fantastic giveaway!!  

Title: Game of Love 
Author: Ara Grigorian
Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance
Release Day: May 4TH GOL Cover About Game of Love:


Game of Love is set in the high-stakes world of professional tennis where fortune and fame can be decided by a single point.

Gemma Lennon has spent nearly all of her 21 years focused on one thing: Winning a Grand Slam. After a disastrous and very public scandal and subsequent loss at the Australian Open, Gemma is now laser-focused on winning the French Open. Nothing and no one will derail her shot at winning - until a heated chance encounter with brilliant and sexy Andre Reyes threatens to throw her off her game.

Breaking her own rules, Gemma begins a whirlwind romance with Andre who shows her that love and a life off the court might be the real prize. With him, she learns to trust and love… at precisely the worst time in her career. The pressure from her home country, fans, and even the Prime Minister to be the first British woman to win in nearly four decades weighs heavily.

As Wimbledon begins, fabricated and sensationalized news about them spreads, fueling the paparazzi, and hurting her performance. Now, she must reconsider everything, because in the high-stakes game of love, anyone can be the enemy within… even lovers and even friends.

In the Game of Love, winner takes all.

Preorder today!!!  

Exclusive Excerpt: GOL teaser 2“We are made strong by the difficulties we face, not by those we evade.”
~Author Unknown
            Gemma’s security flanked her, their grip tight on her arms. Bedric, her coach, rushed ahead, slamming open the hotel’s glass doors to the roar of the French paparazzia cacophony of questions, comments, and insults.
Gemma moderated her breathing, prepared for another three-second spurt of chaos.
Three...
What happened in your hotel room?”
They knew. Dozens of cameras from all directions chirped and flashed. She kept her eyes trained on her goal: the awaiting car.
Two...
Mademoiselle! Gemma! One smile.”
The paparazzi bore in from her right. Only a few more steps. A knee rammed into her thigh. That one would leave a mark. A bruise that the papers would dissect and analyze gratuitously.
One...
Why were you hiding for four months? Were you going to quit tennis?”
Don’t react. Say nothing. Bedric forced the car door open, giving Gemma the opening she needed to squeeze in. He followed.
Zero.
The door slammed behind them, and the sounds of commotion lowered to a gentle hush. Black tinted windows offered a veil of privacy. Bodies, camera lenses, and faces smashed against the glass. Only inches separated her from the paparazzi. There had been a time when she used to move to the center of the car, creating as much separation as possible. But now she knew better. Distance was a mere illusion of safety.
The locks engaged, and the car accelerated away.
She didn’t like surprisesparticularly on game daybut in this case, her security lead’s demand to move her to another hotel had been spot- on. It was one thing for the paparazzi to gather outside. It was quite another when one found his way into her hotel suite... while she slept. The French paparazzi were setting a new standard.
“This is not good,” Bedric said in stoic English.
She eyed her superstitious coach, who was always concerned with deviations from routine. But the concern etched on his face wasn’t about superstition. He didn’t want a repeat performance of the Australian Open months earlier.
“You have not rested,” he continued, “and you have yet to get breakfast.”
“We’ll be fine. We are fine,” she said, nearly believing it herself. “As for breakfast, we’ll grab something at the new hotel.”
The car swerved as the driver made a temporary effort to lose their tail. Memories of another car chase months earlier inched its way into her throat.
“There will be people. You don’t need more distractions.”
“More distractions?” She had woken to the sound of an intruder in her suite, and now she was rushing from one hotel to another on the morning of her quarterfinal match. How much worse could it get? “We’ll be discreet. Run in, eat, and we’ll be off.”
The car’s tires screeched as the driver took another quick turn. It was happening again. Another chase just before a critical match. Only this time, the driver wasn’t drunk.
From her bag, Gemma removed a tennis ball and twirled it in her hand. One point at a time. She focused on the soft texture. Familiar. Calming. Poking out from inside her bag, the newspaper article from the day before mocked her. Inch-tall letters above her picture: The Great HypeFive Years and Still Waiting. She squeezed the tennis ball over and over again until her fingers went numb.
She dropped the ball back inside the bag, then closed her eyes, hoping to salvage some sleep. She crossed her arms and tried to control her shivering. No, she wasn’t cold. She just wanted five minutes alone with the bastard who had violated her space. Gemma almost wished the coward hadn’t bolted when she charged him, tennis racquet in hand.


34019c_ecb294aa4a244d158202952d64580733.jpg_srz_p_165_150_75_22_0.50_1.20_0About Ara Grigorian: Armenian by heritage, born in Iran, lived in Barcelona, and escaped New York until he found his home in Los Angeles, Ara’s first eleven years were both busy and confusing. The fruit salad of languages would slow down his genetically encoded need to tell stories. Until then, an alter ego would be required… He received an engineering degree from California State University Northridge and earned his MBA from the University of Southern California. Today, he is a technology executive in the entertainment industry. True to the Hollywood life, Ara wrote for a children’s television pilot that could have made him rich (but didn’t) and nearly sold a video game to a major publisher (who closed shop days later). But something was amiss until his wife read him the riot act. “Will you stop talking about wanting to be a writer and just do it?” So with her support (and mandate), and their two boys serving as his muse, he wrote stories. Fascinated by the human species, Ara writes about choices, relationships, and second chances. Always a sucker for a hopeful ending, he writes contemporary romance stories. He is an alumnus of both the Santa Barbara Writers Conference and Southern California Writers’ Conference (where he also serves as a workshop leader). Ara is an active member of the Romance Writers of America and its Los Angeles chapter. Ara is represented by Stacey Donaghy. Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads   Enter Ara’s Giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Celebrating #IndieFab with a #giveaway!


Destruction is a 2014 Foreword Reviews IndieFab Finalist! To celebrate, I'd like to share the book with as many new readers as possible. Enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post!

David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything.

Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn't a choice.

Eleven years ago, David's secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without.

Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David's wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children.

Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.








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