Monday, January 31, 2011

Recap of January Sponsors

Thank you very to Terrence O'Brien, Margaret Lake and Sandra Edwards for supporting my blog this month.  Here is a recap of the their books.

The Templar Concordat

Book Blurb:
When the truth is your greatest danger, and the enemy knows the truth, things can only go downhill when the enemy finally gets the proof.  And that's the proof the Hashashin get when they steal what the Vatican doesn't even know it has. Now the infallible decrees of two Twelfth Century popes and three kings, stolen by the Hashashin, threaten to catapult the bigotry, bias, and religious blood baths of the Third Crusade straight into the Twenty-First Century.

When Templars Sean Callahan and Marie Curtis are drawn into the mess, they face an ancient enemy that has already nearly won the battle. A newly elected Mexican pope being undermined by entrenched Vatican powers, world class scholars who will sell their prestige to the highest bidder, and terrorists lingering over nutmeg lattes in sidewalk cafes.

Moving from Rome to London, Switzerland, and Saudi Arabia, Callahan and Curtis are desperate to find some way to stem the success the Hashashin are having enlisting the majority of moderate Muslims in their Jihad. Out maneuvered at each step by the Hashashin, only a last ditch roll of the dice has any chance of success. But it's the only chance they have.

Listen to Your Heart

Book Blurb:
World War I - Lena Manning is barely 20 years old and already a war widow with a baby on the way. Her church takes care of her, gives her employment and wraps her in its secure world. When the bishop appoints a new pastor, a young, handsome widower, she is forced to seek other employment to avoid any hint of scandal. 

Her new job as social secretary to the wife of a wealthy New York banker thrusts her into a seductive world of money and privilege. When the son of the house pursues her, he awakens feelings she thought long dead. 

Can she survive his secrets or will fear send her running back to the security of her church and the pastor who waits for her there?

Buy Links:

Incredible Dreams

Book Blurb:
Incredible Dreams is the story of a modern-day ghost whisperer who travels through time to save the life of a WWII fighter pilot and ends up jeopardizing her own existence.

Izzy Miller prefers to call herself a spiritual therapist because she thinks it makes her sound more professional than plain old ghost-whisperer. She expects her latest project to be quick and easy because exorcising military personnel is pretty routine.

But there's nothing easy or routine about Captain Jack Baker—he's a rather forgetful spirit and somewhat mischievous. And even though he's intrigued by the US Government's latest attempt to remove him from the only place he can ever remember being...he has no intentions of going anywhere.

Plans to exorcise Jack are quickly sidelined when Izzy discovers a portal into the past inside her dreams and sets out to change his fate. Trouble is...when she gets back there, she can't remember anything but her name. She still sees ghosts, but is far less accepting of her gift. And, to make matters worse, a demonic force pretending to be the forgetful heroine's sister has her own plans—to steal Izzy's soul.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

#SampleSunday - The Right Path

Today's sample sunday is from the novelette, THE RIGHT PATH.  It is the beginning of the story where we meet Abraham "Ham" Jones and tomboy Zia Slate as they struggle to survive in this post-apocalyptic world.

The sunset cast a surreal light over the city, hiding most of the visible scars and masking the violence that permeated daily life.  Most, but not all.  Partially collapsed and burnt-out husks, harsh reminders of the Great War, dotted the cityscape and no amount of darkness could hide devastation of that magnitude.
The old man stood on a rooftop looking over the gray and ravaged city.  He’d been looking for someone to carry on his work.  So far he had failed.
One mistake does not erase a lifetime of good, he thought miserably.  I will find the right one.  
I looked up to see a hand extended towards me.  I followed it up to the care-lined face of an elderly man.  He was old, but I swear he shone with more life than someone half his age.  I hesitated before accepting his outreached hand.  I had accepted help before much to my chagrin.  The humanity of people was all but gone, wiped away in the disgusting displays of greed and avarice that was pervasive in most aspects of life in this dismal city.  In my fifteen years of life, I learned that it was a dog eat dog world out there.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” the old man said.  “Only offering a helping hand.”
“Helping you is simply my way of helping me.”
“Take my hand and I’ll tell you about it.”
Seeing nothing to lose, I let the old man help me up.  I’d been beaten and robbed sometime in the last few hours.  It was hard to tell how long I had lain in the street, because my head was a bloody mass of hurt.  I half-heartedly brushed some of the dirt off my clothes and noticed a new rip in my pants at the knee.  I hopped on my good leg trying to keep my balance while I looked for my crutch.
“That’s mine over there,” I said, pointing to the crutch lying in a puddle of filthy water.
“I have something better than that,” the old man said, turning and rooting around in the shopping cart he’d been pushing along the street. 
He turned back to me with a cane in his hand.  It was gleaming wood with carvings along its length capped with a small silver-looking fist.   I didn’t recognize any of the words or pictograms.  Didn’t matter much, I figured I could sell it after the old man left me.  Food was scarce and I’d hobble along a lot better on a full stomach.
“Thanks, but why are you giving this to me?” I asked, taking the cane from him.  “What do you want?”
The old man looked me up and down and laughed.
“Boy, what’s a scrub like you possibly have that I’d want?”
“I don’t know, but everyone wants something.”
“You’ve already given me what I was looking for.”
I took a step back, glancing left and right.
“Don’t get all riled now.  I simply meant that you allowed me the chance to help you out, even if it was only to get you on your feet.”
“What are you talking about?  You crazy or something?”
“I’m talking about giving back, learning what it means to be truly alive.  You can only experience life to its fullest by extending a helping hand.”
“Yeah, sure and then watch as it gets bitten off.”
“Yes, sometimes that happens, but when a gesture of help is accepted for what it is, then you learn what life is all about and you can pass that learning on.” 
I rolled my eyes at the crazy old coot.  He must have escaped from the psycho ward.  From what I knew of people, they didn’t want a helping hand, they wanted what you had and you had better learn how to fight to keep what was yours.  That’s what I’d learned of life in the streets.
I looked at his cart crammed full of junk wondering how long it would be before someone hit him on the head and robbed him blind.  They had robbed me for nothing more than the few scraps of food I had begged for earlier in the day.
The old man turned and began to push his cart down the street.
“Wait, that’s it?  You don’t want nothing for this cane?” 
“Nope, it’s yours.  Use it well.”
I watched him shuffle down the street.  A little further along, he stopped and spoke to another drifter.  Within moments, he shook his head, said a few more words, and kept moving down the street.
The squeal of brakes caught my attention and made me look past the old man to the street corner.  A girl was being tossed out of sleek black car.  I should have turned and walked the other way leaving the little twerp to her own fate, but I have a perverse sense of curiosity.  I watched in morbid fascination.
The girl tumbled head over heels before coming to a painful stop on the uneven pavement.  Her face looked bruised and her lip was bleeding.
“Next time, don’t be so stupid.  You’re lucky that’s all I did to you,” a man said from inside the car before it sped away.
I saw her wipe her lip with her sleeve and stomp her foot in anger.  I knew a system cop car when I saw it and I guessed she had been soliciting sex for food.  Didn’t look like she would eat tonight.  Most men liked softness and curves and she was angles and tomboy muscles. 
The old man approached her.
“Can I help you up Miss?”
The girl jumped to her feet, pulling a stubby knife from her waistband.
“Stay away from me or I’ll slice you up good,” she said holding the knife up in front of her..
The old man laughed.
“Don’t think you’ll be doing much slicing with that puny blade.”
It looked like she was having the same trust issues I had earlier.  She took two steps closer and held the blade up closer to him. 
“Want to try your luck, old man?”
“I only wanted to help you to your feet.  No need to spill my blood over a kindness.”
She hesitated before lowering the blade.
“Kindness will get you killed old man.”
“That may be so, but kindness can also change the world.”
It was the girl’s turn to laugh.  It’s been a long time since I’ve heard anyone laugh like that and I grinned in spite of myself.
“You’re crazy.  You’d best be careful who you try to help next time or you’ll feel a blade slice through your neck.”
She turned and started to walk away from the old man.
“Wait.  I have something for you.”
“Don’t want nothing from you.”
“You might want this.”
I was shocked to see the old man holding a knife in his hand.  Where did he get this stuff?  The girl was looking over her shoulder at him.  He pulled the knife out of its sheath.  The blade shimmered in the light and she walked back to him.
The old man pushed the knife back into the sheath and held it out to her.  The hair on the back of my neck stood up.  My inner voice screamed that this couldn’t be good.  No one ever gave anyone a break in this city and they certainly didn’t give away a valuable weapon without strings, but I couldn’t turn away.
 “What’s your game old man?” she asked.
“No game, just want to help.  Here, the blade is yours.”
“What do you want for it?  Sex?”
“Nothing, Miss.  Thought you might need better protection, that’s all.  Here, take it.”
I inhaled sharply waiting to see what she would do.  In the next instant, she snatched the blade from the old man’s outstretched hand.
“Good.  Now you can take care of yourself,” he said.
He gave her a wink before turning away pushing his cart full of odds and ends down the street.
I was flabbergasted.  The old man helped the little twerp, like he helped me.  I began to wonder what he was up to.  Maybe he was being nice cause he was playing some kind of twisted game. 
Be nice, smile, help them, and then crush them like bugs. 
Well, I was born on a weekend, but it wasn’t this weekend. 
I took one final glance and found myself staring into the little twerp’s eyes.  She was sort of pretty with pale eyes and shoulder length brown hair, but I’d had enough trouble for one day, so I turned and hobbled away.  She would have to learn to survive like the rest of us.  Beg, borrow or steal, that’s the motto on the street if you want to eat. 


Saturday, January 29, 2011

And the winner is...

The winner of a digital copy of L.K. Rigel's SPIDERWORK is:


Congratulations!  L.K. will be in touch with you about getting the book to you.  Thank you to everyone who entered.

The winner was chosen using

Review of FOOL MOON by Jim Butcher

 4 of 5 stars

Fool Moon is the second in the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher. I'm a bit late to this series and there are numerous other detailed reviews for this book so I won't rehash the plot again, but if you like werewolves then you'll enjoy this book.

Suffice it to say, I love Harry Dresden. He's a great wizard, but the author allows him to make mistakes and do stupid things. That's what makes him so likeable. In this book, Harry gets beat up a lot - way more than the average person can stand in 24 hours and that's my only complaint about this book. I know Harry is a wizard and all, but he was shot and beat way too much for even him to be able to pull off what he did. 

I loved the internal dialogue and I especially love Bob, the skull. He's such a good sidekick. I hope Mr. Butcher includes him more in future books.

This is a fun and entertaining book and I definitely recommend it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Interview with Linda Acaster

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
I moved from writing long fiction as a hobby to writing short fiction for magazines, where I learned my craft by noting every alteration an editor made to my typescript prior to publication. I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association in the UK to submit a novel-length script for assessment – but instead of the assessment the script was forwarded to a publisher and suddenly I was a Historical Romance novelist, which hadn’t been my intention.

Did you query agents and traditional publishers?  How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract?
I started querying agents after my second novel had been published and my third turned down by the original publisher.  My writing had improved dramatically and I had a better understanding of the industry, and the very narrow interpretation of genre that each publisher targets as its niche. I wanted to spread my wings. Unfortunately I might have had a better understanding of publishing, but I was naïve as to an agent’s role. I was taken on by a respected London agency because I brought them a contract. Unfortunately it didn’t work out and I was left without a contract, a publisher or representation. Disillusioned, I spread my wings in other directions.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish?
When my two Historical Romances went out of print I had their rights returned immediately and I sat on them. That was the best decision I ever made, as I doubt I’d be allowed them back now. In 2008 started the first of the UK low-cost POD publishers – we are way behind the USA - and I watched with interest, deciding in 2009 to submit Torc of Moonlight, a time-slip thriller that gathered lots of positive comments from publishers while with the agent, but no contract. There were exasperating delays, and when there was a foul-up over the ebook, I took a long hard look and decided that I could do better myself. Then Amazon opened its DTP system to those outside of the USA, and the rest, as the saying goes, is my e-publishing backlist.

How did you feel when you got your first indie sale? Are you pleased with sales so far?
Ecstatic.  Writers in the UK are force-fed the notion that traditional publishing is everything and no writer can survive without it. My Romances are both historical and at the sweet end of the spectrum – hardly the current must-haves – yet from small beginnings sales in the USA are steadily rising. Torc of MoonlightSpecial Edition and a collection of Horror short fiction Contribution to Mankind and other stories of the Dark were launched in early December, and it’ll be interesting to see how sales do in the different genres.

Did you design your cover art?  If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?
Ho-ho! From having the graphic designer’s know-how of soggy lettuce I blindly embraced Photoshop and i-Stockphoto for the HistRoms. For a first attempt they’re not bad, but when I have time, or money for a professional makeover, they’ll be redone.  For Contribution to Mankind and other stories of the Dark I was pointed to and found a free photo that I cropped and tinted via Gimp, the free image manipulation software.  The publisher’s suggested cover of the POD version of Torc of Moonlight was appalling and my son produced what was used, thankfully meaning that I own the design, so could use it for the ebook Torc of Moonlight : Special Edition. It also means that the ensuing Torc trilogy can use the iconic layout for its brand look, an aspect that I hadn’t thought of at the time.

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey.
To have confidence in my own ability. The first attempt might not sparkle, but everything is a work-in-progress, not a done deal. If I can teach myself to write well, I can teach myself to use software. It is not a black art.

What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
This I am learning. I have a blog I’ve just revamped, and a friend and I bartered my copywriting / proofreading skills for his design / html skills to produce a website, but getting people to view them is up to my interacting with the world. I belong to a few Yahoo groups for the Romances, have a Facebook presence and a Twitter account, and venture onto the Amazon forums occasionally, but using all this effectively is a different matter. This is the next big learning curve. I particularly like, for the interaction with readers, but especially for the support and advice offered so willingly by writers. Can’t be beaten.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
I am using as my distribution to Sony, Nook, I-Pad, Diesel, etc, as for a non-USA citizen it is simply easier to negotiate the double taxation problems rather than publishing individually.

What’s next for you?
My work-in-progress is The Bull At The Gate, the second in the North York Moors Torc trilogy which is set in historic York and time-slips between the contemporary and 4th century Roman Eboracum as York was called at the time. I’ve also been asked to provide workshop facilities later in 2011, so I am bringing to fruition a non-fiction book exploring writing techniques used in the short story form. It’s been seen by a couple of print publishers that judged it “too niche”, but that hardly matters now, does it?

Thanks for inviting me.

Interview with Glenn Bullion

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
I’ve been writing for myself since I was a child.  I never had any plans to let anyone read anything I wrote outside of family.  To be honest, up until recently, I didn’t like my own stuff.  It was only after I finished Demonspawn, which was also my first book written in first person, that after proofreading, really felt that others might like it too.  After plenty of revisions and proofreading, I decided to send it off to different agents, and got no response.  I’ve seen how popular eReaders are becoming, so I decided to try my hand at publishing myself.

Did you query agents or traditional publishers before publishing on Amazon?
Yes I did, and got no response back.  I’m hearing more and more about some of the trouble that traditional publishers are in, because of eReading.  I definitely think it’s the future.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish?
Besides my lack of response, learning more about the Kindle, and eReaders in general, helped cement the decision for me. It seemed that as long as I just wrote a good book, and let people know it existed, I could possibly be successful (of course, I’ve learned there’s much more to it than that since then).

Will you try to garner a traditional publishing contract for any future books?
I don’t believe so.  I’m guessing my manuscript for Demonspawn (my first novel) is still floating in a few “to be read” piles on agents’ desks somewhere.  But for any future works, I don’t believe I’ll even try that route.

Did you design your cover art?  If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?
I did not design my own cover art.  I was browsing through when the illustration just jumped out at me as being a nice cover.  It was done by the user “dundanim”.

How did you feel when you got your first sale?  Are you pleased with sales so far?
I felt great when I got my first sale.  I’ll be honest, I’m not pleased with my own sales (I imagine everyone feels they can do better).  It seems to me a key factor to sales is getting reviews.  Of course, it’s hard to get those Amazon reviews without getting sales.  It’s a fun cycle.

What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
Even though I’m a technology nerd, social media is still a new thing for me.  I have my own website I’m trying to constantly add content to, and I try to keep up with Twitter as best I can.  I’m also active on the Kindleboards website.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
I also participate on Smashwords, a great site for sales.  I like the fact that on Smashwords, you can at least get an idea of who’s sampling you as well.

What’s next for you?
I have two things I’m working on now, and also ideas always coming from my wife.  Right now I’m about 2/3 done on a zombie novel that takes place in the future, after the undead have destroyed everything.  After that, I’m toying with the idea of a paranormal mystery type story, about a man who can see far away places in real time.  Hopefully both novels will be out in 2011.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Panel Discussion - How Do You Choose the Title of Your Book?

Debra L Martin
For The Crystal Façade my co-author Dave and I were toying with a number of titles, but finally settled on our title because crystals are important to Otharians.  Crystals are essential in helping to fuel their PSI powers of telepathy, empathy, telekinetic. This book is about solving the mystery of the crystal trade or diamonds as they are called on Earth.  Where do they crystals actually come from?  Are they mined in the Sharellians Mountains on Otharia or is there an illegal diamond smuggling ring from Earth?  

The definition of façade is “a superficial appearance or illusion of something” and that was the perfect description and thus The Crystal Façade was born.   

Cathy Wiley
For the Cassandra Ellis series, since my main character is a mystery author, I came up with the idea to use word plays with the word "write". I listed a number of phrases with "right" or "rite" in them and used that to brainstorm plot ideas. So upcoming books include "Two Wrongs Don't Make a Write", "Write of Passage", "Write Field", etc.

Outside of this particular series, I generally struggle with titles. The story is often completely written before I come up with an idea. I'll read through the work to see if there is anything that sums up the story or just sounds like a good title.

Ellen O’Connell
For my first book, the mystery Rottweiler Rescue, the title was the concept and was there from the beginning. I own and love Rottweilers, did rescue on my own for ten years and am still involved as a volunteer with a Rottweiler rescue group. My purpose in writing the book was (and will be with others in the series) to counter the media portrayal of Rottweilers as "killer dogs" with a story that didn't go to the other extreme but gave a realistic picture of the dogs and what they need in an owner.

Titles for my romances came to me only after the books were written through several drafts. In my opinion many romances have titles almost indistinguishable one from the other, and I wanted something different. One day, thinking about the importance eye color plays in many romances (eyes that are "emerald green" or "true violet"), it occurred to me how often gray and light brown eyes are described as silver and gold. I went back and changed the eye color on my hero and heroine so that I could use the title Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold. For my newest romance, I tried several titles and wasn't happy with any of them. Then in later drafts, as I worked on a scene where the heroine is noisy and the hero encourages it, I came up with "sing my name" as a bit of dialog and fell in love with it myself. There are reviews on Amazon that mention how much the reader likes the title of Eyes or Sing, and I've had emails saying the same. Those readers make me believe I succeeded in finding good titles.

Rachel Howzell
The first title for any manuscript I start is Untitled Novel about [insert subject]. I'm one of those crazy writers who must have something on the title page and computer file name to move forward. Then, I write -- longhand on a legal pad alternating between micro-black-Uniballs and micro-blue-Uniballs. At chapter three, I have no title. At chapter three, I usually don't really know what my story is really about. Around page 75, the fog of this new world starts to clear some. Themes and goals pop out more. That's when a possible title rears its head. I still don't know what it is yes, but I have a subject.

With that vague subject in mind, I go to one of my favorite sites, The Quotation Page. There, I will look at quotes by subject -- famous people are good at saying awesome things. Three words may strike me and I put it on a Post-It note, roll it around my mind for a time. If it's 'sticky', then, "Aha!" I have my title.

Rachel Howzell is the author of The View from Here and A Quiet Storm. Visit her at her blog, Writing in My Car at

Julie Ann Dawson
Once I get the concept fleshed out for a story, I normally start with a ‘working title’ for the sake of staying organized.  Since I often have multiple projects going simultaneously, I need some sort of title to maintain the semblance of order.  At the early stage the working title is just a place-holder.  As the story develops, some key element will grab my attention and help me develop the final title for the story.

The working title for A Game of Blood, for example, had originally been “Club Decadence.”  That working title was never going to fit as the book title, but it was the starting location of the novel so it was just as good an identifier as anything else.  At one point in the book, the protagonist, detective Mitch Grogan, accuses the vampire Darius of treating him like a pawn, and Darius quips that he doesn’t consider Mitch a pawn, but rather a well played rook.  The chess motif eventually led to the title (and also inspired the cover art choice). (A Game of Blood homepage) (Tales From the Sith Witch, Julie’s blog)

KC May
For The Kinshield Legacy, I struggled for a while trying to come up with the right title. I was constantly flipping through the thesaurus, looking for words similar in meaning to various words that hinted at significant moments in the story. It wasn't until the third draft was finished and I was doing revisions that it came to me. While I was working on one particular part of the story, the word Legacy popped into my head, and The Kinshield Legacy just felt right.

For The Venom of Vipers, I didn't worry too much about it, figuring the right title would come to me sooner or later. I was completely fine with calling it Rep Story for about a year (before I called the engineered people Saphers, I called them Reps because of their DNA). Because some of the bad guys were with an organization called Arizona Security and Policing, my main character called them ASPs (the members of the group preferred the acronym ASAP to suggest a quick response). I found myself using snake references now and then, and because the Sapher females have reproduction issues, I decided I needed to use the word Viper in the title. (Some vipers supposedly give live birth.) I also love the way George R.R. Martin titles his books in the Song of Fire and Ice series: A Storm of Swords, A Game of Thrones, etc. and I wanted to use that pattern. I really liked the sound of The Venom of Vipers. And there's not a single snake in the whole book!

For my novella, Sole Sacrifice, I started to call it Soul Sacrifice, but I liked the play on words I got by using the other spelling & meaning.

Julieanne Felicity
Inititally when writing The Kindness of Strangers, I wanted it to be called Sydney’s Story.  But after I kept writing, the POV changed in a few places so it wasn’t JUST about Sydney.  It was also about the individuals she met throughout the tale.  Then one night while I was at work, I thought about it; if it weren’t for the kindness of strangrs she met, she never would have such a positive outcome.

I create a title after I begin writing usually.  I get a better feel of what’s going to happen when I put the words to paper (or txt pad).  There are times I’ll have one idea for a title, but something will happen mid-story and it won’t feel right or fit any longer, so I’ll re-evaluate what the story has become about and decide on an appropriate title then.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Today's Sponsor: INCREDIBLE DREAMS by Sandra Edwards

Book Blurb:
Incredible Dreams is the story of a modern-day ghost whisperer who travels through time to save the life of a WWII fighter pilot and ends up jeopardizing her own existence.

Izzy Miller prefers to call herself a spiritual therapist because she thinks it makes her sound more professional than plain old ghost-whisperer. She expects her latest project to be quick and easy because exorcising military personnel is pretty routine.

But there's nothing easy or routine about Captain Jack Baker—he's a rather forgetful spirit and somewhat mischievous. And even though he's intrigued by the US Government's latest attempt to remove him from the only place he can ever remember being...he has no intentions of going anywhere.

Plans to exorcise Jack are quickly sidelined when Izzy discovers a portal into the past inside her dreams and sets out to change his fate. Trouble is...when she gets back there, she can't remember anything but her name. She still sees ghosts, but is far less accepting of her gift. And, to make matters worse, a demonic force pretending to be the forgetful heroine's sister has her own plans—to steal Izzy's soul.

Review Snippets:
From Readers Favorite Book Reviews ~ “This is one of those special books that will stay with long after you read the last page.”

From The Crazy Bookworm ~ “Incredible Dreams gives you the perfect dose of romance and suspense with some witty humour thrown in the mix.”

From The Romance Reviews ~ “Without a doubt one of the best paranormal romance novels of 2010.”

Author BioSandra is an award-winning author with eclectic tastes. She writes in a variety of genres such as paranormal (mostly time travel and reincarnation), contemporary, and suspense. Her books often push the envelope and step outside the boundaries of conventional romance. She lives in the U.S. (west coast) with her husband, two kids, four dogs and one very temperamental feline.  

Book Excerpt:

Bright lights blazed over her face. The smell of stale ale and cigarettes choked the space around her. She squinted, uncertain of anything but the stage she stood on. A blinding glare silhouetted the smoke-filled room and hid the identities of what she was slowly coming to recognize as an audience.

Music, the tune of a vaguely familiar song, filtered through the air. Lyrics came to her seconds before they poured from her mouth. Nervous at first, she worried the fountain of words would stop as fast as it had begun. When she realized it wouldn’t, a confidence joined the song and bolstered her voice.

When the song ended, Izzy panicked. What did she do now? Where did she go? She started walking, and even though her mind was unable to plot the course, her body knew where to exit the stage and how to get to the bar.

Confusion muddled her thoughts as she glided down the steps and followed a path alongside the audience.

Where the hell am I and what am I doing here? She leaned against the bar and attempted to gain her bearings. 

“Miss Miller, what’s your poison?” The bartender’s voice drifted into her thoughts, demanding attention.

My poison? She glanced up, greeted by the barkeep’s charming smile. Well, a drink might help. Couldn’t hurt. “You got any Ouzo?”

“No.” The bartender’s quick and calm reply suggested he knew what she was talking about.

Too bad Izzy didn’t. She had no idea what Ouzo was or where she got the notion to ask for the liquor with the curious name.

“Give me a shot of ta-kill-ya.” There it was again. Oh man... She was starting to get freaked out.

Freaked out?

Stop it!

“Tequila?” The bartender asked for clarification.

Izzy tried to hide her frustration. “Yeah.”

The bartender turned away and she tried to recall his name.  She studied him as he prepared her drink, thinking she should know him. He knew her.

Chattering voices from nearby conversations made her wonder if she knew anyone else. She canvassed the dimly-lit club. Finely dressed diners sipped on champagne and munched on caviar in candlelit booths. Izzy felt out of place and they seemed retro.

The seconds it took the barkeep to pour the shot and place it before her seemed like hours. “Bottoms up.” He coaxed her with a corrupting smile.

            “Ah, what the hell...” She wrapped her fingers around the shot glass. “I’m probably dead anyway.” Tilting her head back, she poured the liquid, warm and stimulating, into her mouth.

“That’s what you said the last time we met.” The voice, smooth and personal, drew her in and tempted her with thoughts of amorous pleasure.

“Excuse me?” The time it took to focus on the silhouetted figure felt like eons instead of seconds. When it did, an odd sense of familiarity rained down on Izzy.

She stared—no, ogled—at the flyer occupying a bar stool a couple of feet away. He was handsome in a rugged sort of way, and far from clean-shaven. The beginnings of a beard, which looked more like two-day stubble, added to his appeal. Eyes glistening like silvery pearls peered at her flirtatiously. When he smiled, Izzy was smitten.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Blog Tour Stop - Diane Nelson

With high school finished for the summer, Nick looks forward to visiting his aunt and uncle in New Jersey. What awaits him is a heat wave like no other - and the last two Greywings on the planet. Nick has an innate ability to train horses but will he be able to translate his amazing skill to these teenage dragons?

The steaming soup of mid-summer heats up tempers and tests resolve as Nick vies with fellow trainers, Keith and Maxie, for mastery over their new charges. The dragons, Nikita and Michael, typical teenagers themselves, have other ideas.

Nick treads a torturous path through a minefield of competing demands: the expectations of his aunt and uncle, recalcitrant horses, the Academy’s female students and the overwhelming egos of Nikita and Michael. One small mistake erupts into a conflagration that hurls everyone into a race against time and forces of nature.


Diane has a smooth writing style that blends fantasy and reality into a believable story. "Dragon Academy" would make a great film. It would also make a wonderful present for anyone who likes Harry Potter or Eragon...--Mandy Ward

It's one of those rare gems you come across and have to share. --SCAVOLA

As a teacher, I would definitely recommend my students read this book. --LM DeWalt

I finished reading Dragon Academy and sat smiling to myself for a while. It captured my imagination and took me on a marvelous journey. --Suzanna Burke

Action, humor, teenage angst, and, of course, plenty of dragons--this one has it all.  And, like a classic action yarn, Dragon Academy isn't just for teens; it will appeal just as much to adult readers.  --Mark Marker
Author Bio:

After a thirty-year career as an analytical chemist and technical writer, Diane turned to writing fiction full time. Her first YA novel, Dragon Academy, was released in June 2010 [ireadiwrite Publishing], with the print version launched in November 2010. She contributed a story, Dance Macabre, to Dancing in the Dark: An Anthology of Erotica that she edited under her pen name ‘Nya Rawlyns’ [Night Publishing]. Mounted Exercises launched in July 2010 [also Night Publishing]. She edited another anthology, Flashes Through Time, that debuted in August 2010. 
Diane has taken a particular fancy to flash fiction, narrative poetry and short stories. Several online WebZines, Ezines and blogs feature her work: Rammenas, Little Episodes, Wired Ruby, Welcome to Wherever and Short Stories for Women.