Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Charge Scavenger Hunt in Texas

I am excited to announce a fun summer contest for central Texas The Charge fans! Take a photo of The Charge at The Book Spot, Book People, or various Texas landmarks for a chance to win a Go Local Austin discount card, a $20 Book People gift card, or a $20 The Book Spot gift certificate.

ALL of the first 30 entrants will get a swag pack with a Keep Waterloo Weird bumper sticker and other The Charge themed goodies.

If I get at least 50 entries, I'll also giveaway two tickets to Five Flags San Antonio...oh, I mean Six Flags, sorry. :)


Here's how to play:

1) Go to The Book Spot in Round Rock or Book People in Austin, find The Charge on the shelf, and snap a photo.


2) Take your copy of The Charge to a Texas landmark like the Texas Capitol, The Alamo, or any other interesting Texas place and snap a photo. NEW: Photos of The Charge in ANY interesting place worldwide are eligible. Take it on vacation with you!

Send the photo using the form at the bottom of this post. You're welcome to send more than one photo and/or fill out the form more than one time. You get one entry for every unique photo you send. You also get an extra entry for posting your photo on social media!

On June 27th & July 25th, I'll randomly select three winners from the entries and award the prizes. If I get 50 unique entries, I'll also draw a grand prize winner on July 25th for the Six Flags tickets.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Interview With Katie Hamstead, Author of Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh

Today I'm happy to welcome Katie Hamstead, the author of Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh. Born in Australia, and now living in Arizona, Katie is an all-around interesting person and I enjoyed getting to ask her some questions!

Why did you decide to write a story set in ancient Egypt? What makes the setting compelling for you?
I've always had an interest in Egypt, and have studied it on and off throughout the years. When I first heard of Kiya in high school I was intrigued by how little is known about her, so I decided to write about her. It took me a few years to do it, but when I did, I found that not only was she extremely interesting, but so many other personalities from the period too. It really took a life all of its own.

What advice do you have for writers who weave real history into their fiction? What challenges does this present?
Expect critism. You can't please everyone, but as long as you do your research and stand by the choices you make for your story, it's worth it.

What do you like best about your main character, Kiya? What are her flaws?
I love that Kiya doesn't back down. She compromises when needed so she can keep herself and her family alive, but ultimately she stands by her beliefs. Her biggest flaw is how much she loves, which is also one of her greatest strengths. But sometimes her love puts her at risk when she forgets herself to protect others.

If you had been born in ancient Egypt instead of today, what would your life have been like?
It probably would have sucked ha ha ha! If I'd managed to stay alive to adulthood despite malaria, crocodiles, and a myriad of diseases which are now either extinct or treatable, I'd face working on a farm, maybe weaving, trading, cooking... as a woman I'd be expected to have lots of children, if I survived childbirth. I'm glad I live today. :-)

I hear that you have another book coming out soon! Please tell us about it.
Book 2 in the trilogy (25th Oct 2013) or the other one? :-) The other one is called Branded and is being released through Soul Mate Publishing. It's set in Australia, in the Sydney/Blue Mountains/Central New South Wales area, and a terrorist infiltration has killed most of the population. The story follows a survivor, Ali, who become the target of the General who led the attack when she escapes being executed after he brands her for death. She falls in love while on the run, and after a whirlwind romance, marries Damien. When the General finds out, his obsessive hunt for Ali intensifies, which could kill Damien and break Ali, who has become a symbol of the resistance.

Thank you for visiting, Katie!

About KIYA:

When Naomi’s sisters are snatched up to be taken to be wives of the erratic Pharaoh, Akhenaten, she knows they won’t survive the palace, so she offers herself in their place. The fearsome Commander Horemheb sees her courage, and knows she is exactly what he is looking for…

The Great Queen Nefertiti despises Naomi instantly, and strips her of her Hebrew lineage, including her name, which is changed to Kiya. Kiya allies herself with Horemheb, who pushes her to greatness and encourages her to make the Pharaoh fall in love with her. When Akhenaten declares Kiya will be the mother of his heir, Nefertiti, furious with jealousy, schemes to destroy Kiya.

Kiya must play the deadly game carefully. She is in a silent battle of wills, and a struggle for who will one day inherit the crown. If she does bear an heir, she knows she will need to fight to protect him, as well as herself, from Nefertiti who is out for blood.

Buy it now!

Visit Katie Here:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

YAB Fest 2013 and The Book Spot

This Saturday was my best day as an author so far. I met so many amazing authors and dedicated readers and librarians. I was impressed with the young people I met in the panels and at the signing. They asked awesome questions and showed great passion for the written word. If you don't already know, this was at the Young Adult Book Festival (YAB Fest) in Round Rock, Texas.
Copyright Ernest Cline

I learned lots of interesting things, such as:

  • Ernest Cline has a DeLorean. He says that the downside is that when he shows up in his Camry, people are "disgusted."
  • Dinosaurs don't pee. Greg Leitich Smith, author of the dinosaur time-travel novel Chronal Engine, shared this fascinating fact during the Out of This World Panel.
  • Camp Fusion from the Phantom Island series by Krissi Dallas is a real place. Krissi Dallas is also afraid of fish just like her main character. I suspect that the magic portal is real too.
  • The authors on the Out of This World Panel are dangerously sexy. Here we are doing Blue Steel. Try not to look directly at the photo, the hotness might burn your eyes. 
    Ernest Cline, Sharon Bayliss, Krissi Dallas, Rachel Harris, Greg Leitich Smith, & Cory Putman Oakes

The only photo that circulated social media more than "Blue Steel" was the photo of the guy in the T-shirt that said "I like big books and I cannot lie."

I was star struck by everyone, but I especially want to brag about meeting David Levithan and Andrea Cremer.

I was sitting down eating lunch in the author's room when they sat down across from me. I played it cool until I tweeted about the fact that I was eating lunch with them. Then I told them I tweeted about it, making me even less cool. :)

But they are very friendly. And I enjoyed getting to hear them read from their joint work, Invisibility. They said that they wrote it by alternating sending each other chapters and didn't even really sit down to plot the story together. It was written as a natural back-in-forth between two people. I can't wait to read this one.

I also really enjoyed getting to know some incredible authors including (but not limited to) Krissi Dallas, Cory Putman Oakes, Rachel Harris, P.J. Hoover, Mari Mancusi, and Jessica Lee Anderson. It was so exciting to get to know these awesome Texas authors and hear their advice on writing, publishing, and marketing.

Mari Mancusi
Rachel Harris
Krissi Dallas
Cory Putman Oakes

Finally, I want to thank Danny & Julie from The Book Spot. The Book Spot is a local, family-owned bookstore in Round Rock, Texas with a great selection of new and used books. They are also becoming a major hub for literary events in the area, including the very successful YAB Fest. 

If you haven't already heard me shouting it from the rooftops, The Charge is available for purchase at The Book Spot, and now you can buy signed copies there! If you live in the area, I strongly encourage you to support this local business by buying The Charge at The Book Spot. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

James Wymore on His Upcoming Release, Exacting Essence

Today I interview James Wymore, author of Theocracide, on his new YA novel, Exacting Essence, coming out 5/15!

Megan’s nightmares aren’t normal; normal nightmares don’t leave cuts and bruises on waking. Desperate, Megan’s mother accepts a referral to a new therapist; a doctor dealing with the business of dreams—real dreams. The carnival of terrors that torments Megan nightly is all just a part of the Dreamworld, a separate reality experienced only by those aware enough to realize it.

On her quest to destroy the Nightmares feeding from her fear, Megan encounters Intershroud, the governing entity of the Dreamworld, and must work with her new friends to stop the agency from continuing its evil agenda, and to destroy her own Nightmares for good.

In Exacting Essence, Megan struggles with dreams that are all-too-real. Are you a vivid dreamer yourself? Do you have any especially interesting or recurring dreams you feel comfortable sharing?

I have had some amazing dreams. I don't know if I dream more vividly than anybody else. Certainly less than some people I know. But I have always enjoyed my dreams, even when they turn dark.

In one of my favorite dreams I had a small toy of a knight on horseback wielding a lance. It wore red and yellow heraldry and sat on a table with grass scenery around it. Then suddenly, I became that knight. I was still small and the horse beneath me was moving across the table. I had an urgent mission, but I didn't know how to get off the table. I rode around the edge, noticing the clock and walls, looking for a short enough distance to jump. Finding none and knowing my time grew short, I eventually just spurred the horse on and leaped lance first over the edge. Naturally I woke up at that moment. It was a complete rush!

Have you ever gotten a story idea from a dream?

Yes. In fact, some parts of Exacting Essence came about after I dreamed about them. Most often I dream an idea which is small. Then I expand on it when writing. I've heard of dreams which would make a great movie all by themselves. But most of mine are just small pieces I later make into something bigger.

One example is a dream where I needed to escape from a stone castle. I purposefully dreamed a gothic arched window. The pediment and frame appreared, but the stone remained inside it. So I punched through the hole where the window should be to find the stone there thin and weak. I easily knocked the rest of it away and escaped. One of the main characters in the sequel grew out of that dream.

Can you give us a taste of what lurks in Megan's nightmares?

Due to an unfortunate misunderstand when her parents went through a divorce and she was very young, Megan believed her father literally ran away to join a circus. She latched onto that idea and began dreaming of carnivals and clowns. Over time, however, they turned mean and began hurting her. Years later, at the end of her teens, Megan has been tormented by them for so long she can't sleep or stay awake. It's a kind of long term sleep deprivation which drives her to consider suicide if she can't get some real help. The help comes in the form of a psychiatrist who tells Megan the nightmares are real, living creatures. They will continue to hunt her until she finds a way to fight and destroy them.

What do you like most about Megan? What are her flaws?

I like that Megan has a strength to endure torment beyond most of us. Her opinions are strong and she holds on to them. She has an indominatable spirit which refuses to be put down despite long years of pain.

Megan isn't flexible. She has definite ideas which she holds onto against all advice or reason. She can't let go of something just because she knows she should. She has to see things through to the bitter end.

Exacting Essence is the first in a series. Without giving too much away, where will we see the series head?

There is a war coming. Most of humanity sleeps through their dreams. But the people controlling the dream world are working to increase their power and control. Despite their great advantage, a few powerful dreamers who refuse to bow to their tyrany will rise up against those trying to keep the human race in the dark. But how do you kill something so enigmatic as a dream?

Connect with James here!

Now enjoy an excerpt!

At first, the color gray dominated her mind. Then, details slowly began to fill in around her, and Megan found herself at school. Only a few of her friends came to class today. They were all wearing matching uniforms with white blouses and black skirts. Since her school didn’t have uniforms, this worried Megan. She started brushing chalk dust off the skirt and checking to see if the others thought it was strange. The desks littered the room chaotically in defiance of the usual order at school, so she had to push a few out of the way to join her friends. Only dim sunlight from one small window lit the room. Jessica gazed out longingly.

“What’s going on?” Megan asked. “Where’s everybody else?”

“They’re all outside,” Jessica said.

“Why?” Meg continued. “What are they doing? Aren’t they worried they’ll be late for class?”

“No,” said Erin, the dark-haired girl beside her. “The teacher’s out there, too. They all are.”

“Let’s go outside,” said Jessica, gazing intently out the tinted glass. “It looks fun.”

“Can I see?” Megan asked.

Erin crowded in, blocking the view. “Wow! It’s a whole carnival.” Turning from the window, she began to walk toward the door. “I wish I had more money.”

“Where are you going?” Megan asked. She didn’t want to go to the carnival. Something told her to stay away. Her hands began to shake a little.

“To have fun with the others,” the three girls said in unison.

“Let’s stay in here,” Megan suggested, her voice faltering.

They slowed their pace only a moment at the door. Jenny, the shortest, said, “And miss all the fun? No way. I love carnivals.”

“Please stay with me,” Megan begged.

“Forget it,” said Erin as they disappeared. She called down the hall, “If you’re going to stay, you’re going to do it by yourself.”

Darkness surrounded her. The fear of being alone in the dark propelled her out into the hall. She jogged to catch up. They were far ahead. She couldn’t lose her friends. She could feel the fear rising inside her as she edged closer to the door. Light was pouring in, the light at the end of a dark tunnel. She couldn’t make out any details until she reached the doorframe. She paused again, clinging desperately to it, hoping there was another choice—anything.

When her eyes adjusted, she could see a cotton-candy stand, a small roller coaster, a fishing game, a dunking machine, and other attractions all in red and orange booths. There were people all around, but she couldn’t see her friends anywhere. With her arms folded for comfort, she began to meander through the swarm. People bumped into her as if they couldn’t see her. Several times she found herself fenced in by groups in line or having conversations over top of her. The harder she pushed to break free, the more they backed into her and shifted to block her.

Suddenly she stopped. Her hands leaped to her mouth to catch a small gasp before it escaped. Before her was a huge carousel, taller even than the school. Dark paint covered the animals, which raced around in circles while sporting horrible sneers and eerie grimaces. Macabre fascination kept her from running in fear, just like the moment before jerking your fingers away from a hot stove.

One moment was all it took. Before she could bolt, she saw them. Erin rode on a black grizzly bear with huge claws. Behind the bear, a pine-green snake was bobbing up and down, carrying Jessica, who grinned widely.

They waved when they noticed her. The metal and boards creaked and popped as if the whole contraption was moments from implosion. Jenny motioned for her to come up.

Megan couldn’t step on the rotating platform. Nothing in the world would ever make her get on the merry- go-round; even if it meant losing her friends. Fear dragged her away. She turned to run but instead jumped back with a short scream. A short, fat clown blocked her retreat. Dressed in a puffy red suit with yellow dots, covered in dirt and oil, his horrifying face featured a large, red mouth painted into a sneer. She couldn’t look away from his two side-tufts of green hair.

She wanted to dart, but found herself paralyzed like a statue. She couldn’t even breathe. The clown reached up and touched her cheek. His sweaty finger left a line of white, greasy makeup, which itched. There were tears on her face, but she refused to scream. Some unvoiced wisdom told her it would make him even happier if she did.

The clown pulled out a floppy balloon. Sputtering globs of spit from the sides of his mouth, he blew air and rigidity into the rubbery blue line until it expanded into a long curve. Meg tried to look away as he began twisting it with a grating sound. She wanted to see or hear anything else, but the balloon drew her attention in a new way. It had shimmering patterns of yellow light. It seemed to be flickering in a familiar moiré pattern between parallel shadow lines. It was hypnotic. As he tied the balloon, his hands left smeared fingerprints of the same greasy makeup all over it. Only when the clown was done could she look away from the lights to see what he had made. It was the shape of a knife.

Instantly her hand shot up to hold back a scream. She turned on her heels and sprinted. She ran off the pavement with her hand still clenching her mouth. She hurdled over the rocks lining the perimeter of the parking lot, determined to escape. As she rushed away, she entered longer grass. Then she passed bushes and trees.

She stopped as soon as she realized she had sprinted into a dead forest. The bushes were dried sagebrush. The trees were black shadows with only a few dead leaves clinging to twisted branches. She stopped once the balding clown was out of sight. She tried to retrace her steps, only to discover she was lost. The lines on her cheeks from dried tears parted around the greasy paint on her cheek. Now those lines filled again with new tears.

The sun abandoned her and the wind began to whistle through the thin branches. Some small rustling sound drove her into a panic again. She chose a direction and ran blindly. It was hopeless, she knew. The ending was inevitable. She didn’t run to escape now; she ran because if she stood still she would go crazy. Soon the trees thinned and opened around a large tent with huge red-and-white stripes running up it to a single sharp point.

The circus. Out of the frying pan; into the fire. She remembered how this tent used to make her so happy. It had not made her happy for a long time. She knew there was no escape. She let the numbness of shock wash over her. It was too late to resist now. It had happened so many times. She didn’t try to fight it anymore. Next time she could try again to escape. She just stumbled slowly through the dirty front flaps of the tent door, dreading what waited for her.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Enter for a chance to win free books at the Young Adult Book Festival

I am beyond excited to host a giveaway to promote the Young Adult Book Festival in Round Rock, Texas on May 11th!

"The Young Adult Book Festival (or YAB Fest) is a brand new book festival designed to promote reading among teens in the suburbs and surrounding areas of North Austin and northern Central Texas. Our goal is to provide students with a phenomenal experience to meet and interact with a wide variety of authors writing in different genres." - from

There are some amazing authors attending, and I'm still blown away that I get the chance to sit beside them.

If that wasn't exciting enough, I have partnered with some of these awesome authors to give away some free signed books exclusively to YAB fest attendees. Sign up on the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win. Signed paperbacks must be picked up from the authors at the festival! 

Since living far away from Austin, Texas is punishment enough (har har), there is a second Rafflecopter form where anyone anywhere can win digital copies and other goodies gifted by me. You're welcome to enter both giveaways.

Check back because I may add more prizes as the week goes on!



a Rafflecopter giveaway


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Appreciation Day: Fraction of Stone by Kelley Lynn #huganauthor

Happy Author Appreciation Day! Author Appreciation Day is about taking the time to spread the word and write reviews for books we read and enjoy. In my experience, the best marketing tool for an author really is just word-of-mouth, and I promise that authors (especially new and independent authors) really, really, really appreciate your reviews.

Today I am proud to feature my review for Fraction of Stone by Kelley Lynn.

Akara and Ryden are the only two of a kind, the only two that in the world that can wield magic. However, they're stuck on two sides of a war, each used as a weapon against the other. Ryden is treated like a prince by his people, whereas Akara is abused and kept as a slave. When the war ends and the two sides unite, neither side has use for magic anymore, and the two magical teens are nothing but threat.

Akara and Ryden must join together to escape a nation of people who wish to destroy them. Meanwhile, the world is literally breaking apart, and only Akara and Ryden have the magic needed to save the people who want them dead.

Fraction of Stone is extremely easy to get engrossed in. The pace is lightning-quick, and she flies right into the conflict without hesitation. The structure of the plot is strong - two teens against the world with everything stacked against them, makes for high stakes and a perfect YA story.

You can't help but root for them. Poor Akara has been so mistreated, she doesn't even understand what it means to be touched outside of abuse. You desperately want her to find hope again and safety with Rydan. And even though Rydan had a more privileged past, he is a classic hero. He wants to help save the world, and Akara, because it's the right thing to do. And though he wasn't abused, as the only one of his kind, there is a loneliness about him, and you really want him to find his other in Akara.

All in all, it was a beautiful and epic story that I enjoyed from page one. I look forward to the rest of the saga! Well done, Kelley. :)


Check out the other reviews in the hop!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Choose Your Own Adventure Blog Hop

If you’ve landed here during your adventure, skip all this and go below.
If you’re wondering what’s going on, go here to start your own adventure!
And may The Creator bless you on your journey.

I'm excited to be a part of Eliza Tilton's creative Choose Your Own Adventure Blog Hop to promote the release of Broken Forest!

Hopeless he'll never be more than the boy who didn't save his brother, 17-year-old Avikar accepts his life as the family stable boy, trying to forget the past. But when his sister, Jeslyn, is kidnapped, the thought of losing another sibling catapults him on a desperate quest. With his best friend by his side, and using the tracking skills he learned from his father, he discovers Jeslyn has been taken, kidnapped by one Lucino, the young lord of Daath, a mystical place thought only to exist in fables.

And Lucino has plans for Jeslyn.

Buy it here!

Eliza graduated from Dowling College with a BS in Visual Communications. When she’s not arguing with excel at her day job, or playing Dragon Age 2, again, she’s writing. Her stories hold a bit of the fantastical and there’s always a romance. She resides on Long Island with her husband, two kids and one very snuggly pit bull.


With a hand on your weapon, you charge through the forest, running as fast as your booted feet will let you. Visions of the large white beasts taunt your fleeting steps. Heart pounding, you zoom around the trees, heading back to where you started. You have enough flower nectar that even if you don’t win Jenzi, you’ll still have a large quantity for your family.

The edge of the forest is just ahead, but it’s too late. Your noisy trek through the forest has alerted the lone wolf who is now happily chasing you.


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Connect with Eliza here!

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