Monday, January 15, 2018

COVER REVEAL - FROZEN

Another Monday in this new year, and I have a treat for you today. Christine Amsden's latest book will soon be out and here is the gorgeous cover.





Part of Chapter I for your enjoyment.

Frozen: a ParaNormal Mystery
by: Christine Amsden



Chapter 1

            Apparently, life doesn’t end when you get married. I suppose that’s obvious, but it’s hard to tell from the way Happily Ever After stories dominate our culture. At any rate, marriage seemed like such a solid conclusion to the stories I had to tell that I ended my first four memoirs the day I married Evan Blackwood.
            If only I’d known then that all hell was about to break loose.
            My name is Cassandra Morgan Ursula Margaret Blackwood, and if you think that’s a mouthful, go ahead and call me Cassie. Most of my friends still do, although I no longer feel unworthy of the full appellation.
            To be fair to my younger self, eager to share her journey of self-discovery with the world in the wake of some powerful events, things were quiet for almost two years. More happened to my two best friends than to me during that time. Oh sure, I consulted with the sheriff’s department here and there on cases that mystified them. I also worked with my husband and a dozen others to form and support the White Guard, an organization attempting to unify and protect the magical world. We made some big gains when Matthew was able to convince most of the magical world that his nemesis was using blood magic to control people’s minds – including mine and my husband’s.
            It was a sobering moment for us.
            But mostly during that time, I grew a baby and took care of her. I always wanted children, maybe because I’m the oldest of nine and having kids around seemed natural.
            Anastasia Blackwood turned one in mid-December, right around the time my youngest siblings, Michael and Maya, both turned two. Honestly, I would have preferred to have two separate parties – or even three – to give each child his or her due attention, but my mom wasn’t up to it. She wasn’t up to much anymore, including party planning, so it fell to me and Juliana, seventeen now and pretty much already an adult. The last two years had aged her, as the responsibility for raising Michael and Maya fell heavily upon her shoulders.
            The day started normally enough. Juliana, with Michael and Maya in tow, arrived at my place several hours before the party to decorate. My two best friends, Madison and Kaitlin, came to help too, the latter with a one-year-old son of her own. Madison, pregnant but not showing just yet, volunteered to keep the toddlers out of trouble. “For practice,” she said, although we all knew she was doing us a favor. I’d return that favor as soon as she realized how badly moms need breaks sometimes.
            Yeah, I know, babies and birthday parties and maybe life really does end when you get married. Or at least loses its sex appeal. Although for the record, I still found Evan as sexy as ever. I mean, the man could drive me to orgasm with a single, magical kiss.
            Damn, but it was addictive.
            Speaking of Evan, he wasn’t invited to the setup party. Officially, because it was a ladies’ only event, but unofficially, because he wanted a Star Wars theme and I didn’t. I humored him by hanging a banner reading “May the Force Be With You” under the banner reading “Happy Birthday” in bright, colorful letters.
            Once our large living room was more or less ready for the party, I left Kaitlin and Madison blowing up balloons while Juliana and I disappeared into the kitchen to finish decorating the cakes. Yes, cakes. If they couldn’t each have their own party, they would at least get their own cake.
            Anastasia’s cake was done already – a three-dimensional fairy tale castle complete with turrets and flags and a fire-breathing dragon wrapped around one of the towers. The fire breath was an illusion, compliments of Scott Lee, Evan’s cousin and Madison’s soon-to-be husband. Real fire would have melted the icing.
            “You put a moat monster in!” Juliana exclaimed when she saw it. The moat, constructed of blue jello, did indeed contain a gummy worm “monster.”
            I nodded, then glanced guiltily at the two undecorated sheet cakes I had baked “just in case.” Mom had sworn she would make cakes for the twins, but I couldn’t trust her these days.
            “Did Mom bake a cake?” I asked.
            “I don’t know.” Juliana bit her lip. “She said she would; I reminded her when I left that she needed to make the cakes, but it was a bad morning.”
            “What happened?” I asked, almost afraid of hearing the answer.
            “She was drunk.”
            “I thought you threw out all the alcohol!”
            “We did. We either missed some, or she’s brewing it in her potions lab.”
            “Damn.” I stared at the plain sheet cakes, then looked at the castle that had taken me many, many hours to complete. Compared to the works of art my mom had created for us on our birthdays growing up, it probably looked pathetic, but it would be awe-inspiring next to a flat rectangle with icing.
            “Do you have more icing prepared?” Juliana asked.
            “I bought plenty of extra ingredients, so I can make more. That’ll give us a chance to think up decorating schemes.” I moved toward my oversized stainless-steel refrigerator as I spoke and pulled out three bowls of icing, each topped with a cold, damp towel. Then I started pulling bags and tips out of the decorating drawer.
            “Do you think–” I started, then stopped myself. It was a horrible thought, one I couldn’t possibly give voice to.
            “Do I think she’s coming at all?” Juliana asked, apparently reading my mind. Some sorcerers can do that, but not Juliana. Her gift is healing. “The thought crossed my mind. But Nicolas and Isaac said they’d drag her here if they had to.”
            Nicolas was my next youngest sibling, currently twenty, and Isaac was just after Juliana, currently fourteen. With Nicolas and me out of the house – me married with a child of my own and Nicolas neck-deep in an intense apprenticeship – a lot of responsibility had fallen on both Juliana’s and Isaac’s shoulders. For that matter, Elena, eleven, Adam, eight, and Christina, five, were all growing up faster than they should have to. But as the two oldest at home, it was worst for Juliana and Isaac. My understanding was that Juliana took care of the kids, while Isaac took care of Mom.
            Mom had simply never recovered from the blow of losing her husband, my father, almost two years earlier. His death had profoundly impacted all of us; I still thought about him and missed him. Making things particularly hard was the fact that we had unfinished business between us. What would he say if he knew I had married Evan, for instance? But the worst thing for me was knowing that the last words I said to my father were, “I hate you.”
            I didn’t mean it. I wanted to tell him that, desperately.
            “I swear she was getting better for a while,” Juliana said, tucking a long strand of dark hair behind an ear. She looked more like Dad, while I resembled Mom, but nobody had trouble believing we were sisters.
            “You mentioned that.” I didn’t want to talk about Mom anymore, though. The day would be hard enough without churning up all the old hurt and betrayal. At one point, I thought I’d forgiven my mom, but sometime during her decline I’d changed my mind. Somehow, her refusal to pull herself together for the sake of two helpless babies was worse than anything she’d ever done to me – and she’d once magically disowned me.
            Dad had gone along with her plans; that was part of the unfinished business. But for now, I had to focus on those he left behind.
            “So Maya and Michael,” I said, eager to change the subject. “What are they into?” I’m afraid I didn’t spend much time with my youngest brother and sister, not even when I visited the rest of the family. I usually spent those visits dealing with Mom.
            “Well, Maya’s a summoner and Michael’s a fire starter,” Juliana said.
            “We did gifts for their first birthday,” I pointed out. “And we’ve known Michael was a fire starter since before he was born.”
            Technically, we didn’t know for sure Michael was the fire starter until after he was born – we didn’t even know there were twins – but the fact that Mom had set things on fire while she was pregnant confirmed the existence of a fire starter in her womb. Pregnant moms often channel their unborn baby’s gifts. Anastasia had saved my life before I even knew she was there.
            “Believe me, I still know Michael’s a fire starter every day. His gift keeps slipping its binding; it used to be every few months, but lately it’s just about weekly. I’m terrified the house is going to burn down around us.”
            “Have you asked Nicolas for help?”
            “He did the last binding himself. Clark Eagle even helped, although Nicolas is getting really good after two years of study.”
            “We might need to call a full circle,” I said. “I know Evan would help.”
            Juliana shook her head. She never said it outright, but I often got the impression she didn’t approve of Evan. Almost two years after the feud between our families had officially ended, was it possible she still harbored some kind of resentment for them? Of course, they had cursed her bald – apparently permanently. Months of research and experiments had failed to undo that nasty bit of magic, compliments of Amanda Lee, who had never shared her secret. Juliana currently wore an excellent wig that matched her old hair so perfectly it was hard to remember it wasn’t real. At least for me. Might be easier for her, all things considered.
            I glanced at my watch. We had about an hour and a half to get the two cakes ready. “Okay, gifts it is. But we need to come up with a better concept for summoning than Mom did last year. Most people thought the girl surrounded by toys represented greed.”
            “And then they thought the fire was wrath.” Juliana chuckled. “Okay, let’s just do Dora and Diego.”
            “Are you sure?”
            “Yeah. It’s their favorite show. They watch it every day.”
            We set to work, using pictures from the Internet, skills honed from years of cake decorating, and a bit of magic – provided by Juliana. I still didn’t have a drop of magic, although I channeled some of Anastasia’s because she was nursing. I didn’t use it, though. That had been a hard decision, but Mom’s breakdown had made it easier. She’d spent her life having child after child, making sure she was either pregnant or nursing, so she could continue to channel the magic that had been stolen from her as a teen. While she hadn’t been a bad mom until recently, she had always chosen to have children for the wrong reasons.
            I would not become my mother. Not on this. So I didn’t use magic, even when I had it available. I did some ritual meditation to keep it from building up and overpowering me, and that was it.
            As we worked, I kept sensing Juliana wanted to say something. After the third time she paused, opened her mouth slightly, then shook her head, I asked her what was going on.
            “Nothing,” she mumbled.
            “Juliana. Something’s going on. You can tell me anything.”
            She bit her lip and looked up from her work. For a moment, I wasn’t sure she would tell me, and I felt a pang somewhere in the region of my heart. Had I been such a bad big sister that she couldn’t even talk to me? I knew I wasn’t around as much as I used to be, but I was married and had a baby of my own. And she never asked for more. Never. If she did … well, I’d find a way.

###

I've read the other books in the series and am looking forward to this one. Stay tuned for more information, coming soon.

Happy Reading!






Monday, January 8, 2018

WHAT I'VE LEARNED!

Quote for the week:  “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Benjamin Franklin

You've likely heard the old saying: "You can't teach an old dog new tricks.



I happen to disagree with this saying. In fact, there's another one I like better. 

"You're never too old to learn."

So, where am I going with this, you're probably wondering.

Let me explain.

I've been writing for a long time, and I never planned a series or even a sequel. Well, you know how that goes. Never say never, right? So one day, this idea popped into my head. Just Breeze, the tween story published in 2009, was a fun story and I still liked the characters. And Breeze started talking to me that she had another adventure planned. So, I thought, Why not, and wrote Princess Breeze, the sequel to Just Breeze. It was published the summer of 2017.

So, in spite of the fact that I'd never written a sequel or a series, I'm not too old to learn how. In fact, I've been working on another sequel to a YA novel published in 2010. I'm not saying much about it because it may not work, the publisher may not want it, and dozens of other things can happen.

The lesson here, for me, is to try new things. Sequels, a series, new types of stories. Because, I'm never too old to learn, and neither are you.

Now, off to see what those chatty characters are trying to tell me now.

Happy Writing.




How about a trip to a tropical isle?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

FLAMING CRIMES BLOGFEST and INSECURE WRITER'S SUPPORT GROUP

For the first Wednesday of the New Year 2018 we have a lot going on, so let's get started and have some fun. First is a new book out by the talented Chrys Fey. Take a look.



Flaming Crimes Blogfest



Prompt: What is something ridiculous you would save if there was a fire?

I would save my American Girl Doll Molly.




Series: Disaster Crimes #4
Page Count: 304 
Digital Price: 4.99 
Print Price: 16.99
Rating: Spicy (PG13) 

BUY LINKS:


BLURB: Beth and Donovan are now happily married, and what Beth wants more than anything is a baby. Her dream of starting a family is put on hold as fires burn dangerously close and Donovan becomes a victim of sabotage.

Donovan escapes what could've been a deadly wreck. Their past enemies have been eliminated, so who is cutting brake lines and leaving bloody messages? He vows to find out, for the sake of the woman he loves and the life they're trying to build.

Amidst a criminal mind game, a fire ignites next to their home. They battle the flames and fight to keep their house safe from the blaze pressing in on all sides, but neither of them expects to confront a psychotic adversary in the middle of the inferno.

Their lives may just go up in flames…




About the Author: Chrys Fey is the author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept blending romance, crimes, and disasters. She’s partnered with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and runs their Goodreads book club. She’s also an editor for Dancing Lemur Press.

Author Links:


Congratulations, Chrys.  


Wait! Wait! Don't go away. Besides the debut of what sounds like a very interesting novel, it's also INSECURE WRITER'S SUPPORT GROUP. 



Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time. Link to this page to learn more. 

Ninja Alex J Cavanaugh is the founder of IWSG.  His co-hosts this month are Tyrean Martinson, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Megan Morgan, Jennifer Lane, and Rachna Chhabria!

Every month we have a question to answer. Optional. Here's the one for January 3rd.

What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

I'm still working on it, but definitely need some changes. 2017 was not a productive year for my writing or publishing. 

Have a great 2018 and much success with whatever your plans are.






Monday, January 1, 2018

HAPPY 2018

What in the world happened? I went to sleep in 2017 and woke up in 2018. Time sure does fly by.


Monday, December 25, 2017

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Some of you may have seen this Christmas tree before, but I love its uniqueness. Of course, here in Texas we have tumbleweeds. Do you in your state. Anyhow, sending love to all of you dear friends and patient readers. This beautiful tree is Chandler, Arizona's tumbleweed Christmas tree. 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!



Friday, December 15, 2017

I'll Be Back, I Hope!

Long story. Boring. Briefly, both my computers decided to take a holiday at the same time. I called a few places for repairs, but then decided why spend money when most of the people I talked with did not sound very encouraging. So, I went and bought a cheap computer. Figure it will last as long as the others. Now, I'm a slow learner. Haven't figured this one out yet, but working on it. Back sometimes this year. :) Trying to get my mail set up. Sigh.

Monday, December 11, 2017

PIRATE ISLAND REVIEW

Ahoy there, mateys. Are you in the mood for an adventure? You are? Great! Here's one you might enjoy. And be sure to add it to your Christmas list for the tween readers you know.


The cover sure makes me wonder what the boy is looking at. And the ship in the distance is perfect.
Lovely, colorful, and intriguing, especially the treasure chest.

Here are my thoughts!


PIRATE ISLAND

By Katie L. Carroll



A legend, buried treasure, and danger. The perfect adventure for two daring 13-year-old boys. Right? And so, the middle grade/tween novel PIRATE ISLAND, by Katie L. Carroll, begins with William Bonny, 13, who is possessed (meaning the pirate takes control of his body at times) by the pirate Captain William Kidd, thinking about how he came to be on the beach, looking at Pirate Island, and dreaming of finding Captain William Kidd’s buried treasure. Then he goes on to tell his story.


Katie L. Carroll got it just right. William Bonny and his sometimes friend, Andy, talk like and act like kids you probably know. They have their disagreements. Who doesn’t? William also has trouble understanding his teenage sister, Kristina, and her boyfriend. Give him a few more years and he will.


When William, Kristina, her boyfriend, and Andy finally set out to see if the treasure really exists, William discovers more than just the truth about the treasure. He also discovers the truth about himself.


PIRATE ISLAND is a sweet, fun, story about dreams and truth and what really counts in life. Recommended for middle school libraries and classrooms, and public libraries. Would make great gifts for the tween readers you know.

Available at AMAZON and other places where books are sold.

Congratulations, Katie L. Carroll. 


Happy Reading!