Guest Post & Giveaway: Venturess by Betsy Cornwell

VENTURESS9780544319271_hresAmazon/Barnes&Noble/iBooks/TBD/Goodreads

synYoung inventor Nicolette Lampton is living her own fairy tale happy ending. She’s free of her horrible step-family, running a successful business, and is uninterested in marrying the handsome prince, Fin. Instead, she, Fin, and their friend Caro venture to the lush land of Faerie, where they seek to put an end to the bloody war their kingdom is waging. Mechanical armies and dark magic await them as they uncover devastating secrets about the past and fight for a real, lasting happily-ever-after for two troubled countries—and for themselves.

guestYABM: From the blurb, Venturess seems a little less steampunk and a lot more fantasy driven. What inspired you to first write this steampunk twist on the classic Cinderella fairytale?

BETSY: I suppose Venturess is technically gaslight fantasy because it includes magical elements, while pure steampunk is strictly science fiction. But this book actually includes more ‘typical’ steampunk elements than its prequel Mechanica did: there are airships, steampunk-style submarines, and automaton soldiers all over the place in Venturess.

As for inspiration, I learned about steampunk while I was studying fairy tales as an English major in college. I thought that Cinderella was a perfect example of how strict and machine-like the progression to a happy ending is in fairy tales: tortured young girl + dream + magic = marry the prince. I wanted to write a steampunk Cinderella who was an inventor, who could reach into her own story like the chassis of a car and pull it apart and reinvent her own kind of happy ending.

YABM: What is Nicolette’s biggest challenge in the story?

BETSY: Nicolette has achieved her dream of becoming a successful inventor, so one of the central challenges of Venturess is how she’s going to use her success, both personally and ethically. At the beginning of the book, she’s asked to use her position to help the Fey, who the people of her own country are oppressing. Once she’s actually in Faerie, she and her friends meet with several bigger challenges, but I’m afraid most of them are spoilers!

YABM: Mechanica had a strong focus on friendship and discovery, what themes are central in this sequel?

BETSY: Friends making a family together is even more central to Venturess: Nick, Fin, and Caro love each other and face the challenges of changing relationships and priorities together, and you’ll see them becoming even closer and more intimate with each other’s lives. Discovery comes into play again too, especially when they travel to Faerie, and I try to work with themes of colonialism and human rights to the best of my ability.

YABM: If Venturess were set in modern times, what music would Nicolette be listening to during her free time?

BETSY: Ooh, that’s a great question! I think she’d really like Ingrid Michaelson and The Decemberists.

YABM: Tell me about your writing process.

BETSY: I drafted my first novel in the high-output/low-expectations environment of National Novel Writing Month (a program that I recommend to anyone dreaming of writing or finishing their first book). I still use a lot of the skills I learned from NaNoWriMo: mostly to push any perfectionism aside as aggressively as possible in order to get that horrible first draft finished. I try to write at least 1,000 to 1,500 words per day when I’m drafting, and to work as early in the day as possible. I enjoy editing much more, so it’s really getting to that complete first draft that’s the biggest challenge.

authorWebsite|Twitter|Facebook|Goodreads|Tumblr

Hi! I’m Betsy Cornwell, an American writer and teacher living in a stove-heated cottage in west Ireland, together with my horse trainer spouse, a small herd of dairy goats, and an increasing number of other animals. I write fiction and nonfiction and blog about Irish folklore, travel, wild food, goats (of course!), homesteading, and growing up.

giveaway3 winners will receive a finished copy of VENTURESS. US Only.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy reading, 

Jordan

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Guest Post & Giveaway: The Special Ones by Em Bailey

THE SPECIAL ONES9780544912298_hresGoodreads | Amazon | B&N | iBooks | TBD

Release Date: July 18, 2017

synEsther is one of the Special Ones: four young spiritual guides who live in a remote farmhouse under the protection of a mysterious cult leader. He watches them around the clock, ready to punish them if they forget who they are—and all the while, broadcasting their lives to eager followers on the outside. Esther knows that if she stops being Special, he will “renew” her. Nobody knows what happens to the Special Ones who are taken away from the farm for renewal, but Esther fears the worst. Like an actor caught up in an endless play, she must keep up the performance if she wants to survive long enough to escape.

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Book Playlist for The Special Ones by Em Bailey

Every Breath You Take (The Police)

Under the Milky Way Tonight (The Church)

Special Ones (George)

Helter Skelter (The Beatles)

Candle in the Wind (Elton John)

Bird Set Free (Sia)

A Message to You Rudy (the Specials)

authorEmGoodreads

Em Bailey is an Australian living in Germany where, despite having been a vegetarian for many years, she now enjoys the occasional Wurst. Em used to be a new-media designer for a children’s television production house and is now a full-time author. Shift is her first YA novel, although she has written a number of books for children under the name Meredith Badger.

When she’s not writing, Em is generally getting lost, losing stuff, reading, hanging out with her friends and family, and listening to Radiolab podcasts. Like Olive, she doesn’t like leggings that look like jeans, but has no problem with tofu schnitzels.

giveaway3 winners will receive a hardcover of THE SPECIAL ONES! US Only.

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TOUR SCHEDULE 

Week One:
7/10/2017- YA Books Central- Interview
7/11/2017- Here’s to Happy Endings- Review
7/12/2017- YA Book Madness- Guest Post
7/13/2017- A Dream Within A Dream- Review
7/14/2017- Novel Novice- Interview

Week Two:
7/17/2017- The Best Books Ever – Review
7/18/2017- Literary Meanderings- Excerpt
7/19/2017- Book Sniffers Anonymous- Excerpt
7/20/2017- YA and Wine- Review
7/21/2017- A Gingerly Review- Review

Keep reading, 

Jordan

Blog Tour, Guest Post, & Giveaway: The Revenge by Hannah Jayne

9781492647362-300.jpgAmazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | Chapters | Indiebound

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From the author of Truly, Madly, Deadly, The Escape, and Twisted, comes another edge of your seat thriller sure to keep you guessing until the last page.

After a bad breakup, Tony’s ex-girlfriend Hope embarrasses him in front of the whole school and spreads vicious rumors. Tony is devastated and in a moment of revenge, he makes the location on her phone public. But a week later, when Hope calls Tony and begs him to stop the prank, he hears a shriek and a car door slamming. Then the call is dropped.

Too late, Tony realizes that he may have put Hope’s life in danger. Can he trace Hope’s movements and save her before times runs out?

author

Hannah Schwartz lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and writes cozy mysteries, young adult fiction, chick lit, and grocery lists that she never seems to remember to bring to the grocery store. Hannah shares a house with two neurotic, feet-attacking cats and has Kryptonite-like weakness for donuts. Visit www.hannahjschwartz.com.

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Top Five Favorite Thrillers

My top five favorite thrillers are never the same, although there are a few that make the list and never go away! Here are my current faves (and a few oldie but goodies!).

THE NIGHT SHE DISAPPEARED by April Henry

Disclaimer: April Henry and I are great friends. Once you’ve been duct taped, hooded, and thrown in the back of a van with someone, you really bond (note: this was a research project). That aside, this is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s quick paced but heart pounding and April does an amazing job of delivering a great, creepily detailed story without bogging down the mystery and thrill. You really get a sense of the characters and root for them the whole time.

GAME by Barry Lyga

This was the first book I’d ever read by Barry and after I finished it, I wrote him an inappropriate tweet about wanting to have his book babies and went back and read everything he’d ever written. The idea of a teen being brought up by a serial killer—and theoretically molded to become one—was one of the creepiest things I’d ever considered.

CHAIN LETTER by Christopher Pike

This was my first foray into teen thrillers in about the 5th grade. I immediately fell in love with the genre and wrote my own version later that year. It was a terrible mash-up of two things I was obsessed with that summer: teen thrillers and teen dance movies so yes, there was a gruesome kill that ended with a romantic dance scene on the beach. So. Bad.

TEN LITTLE INDIANS by Agatha Christie

I found a copy of this wedged into a cubbyhole of a boat we rented one summer. I had already read everything I had brought so I devoured this and loved the deliciousness of picking off characters and the subtle—but scary—way that Christie turned the screws.

NEVER KNOWING by Chevy Stevens

I love almost everything about this book. I guess I’m a little obsessed with criminals in one’s family tree (a la my own last book, TWISTED) but this is such a brilliantly and beautifully written story that you forget how truly twisted it is until the reaches out and grabs you. Read with the lights on!

giveaway

If you’d like to win a paperback copy of THE REVENGE, just comment on this post to be entered.

US or CANADA ONLY. Entries open until July 11, 2017.

Keep reading and check back on July 8th for my ARC review!!!

Jordan

 

Guest Post & Giveaway: What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard

WHAT I LOSTWhat I Lost (1)Amazon/B&N/TBD/iBooks/Goodreads

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What sixteen-year-old Elizabeth has lost so far: forty pounds, four jean sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. As a result, she’s finally a size zero. She’s also the newest resident at Wallingfield, a treatment center for girls like her—girls with eating disorders. Elizabeth is determined to endure the program so she can go back home, where she plans to start restricting her food intake again.She’s pretty sure her mom, who has her own size-zero obsession, needs treatment as much as she does. Maybe even more. Then Elizabeth begins receiving mysterious packages. Are they from her ex-boyfriend, a secret admirer, or someone playing a cruel trick?

This eloquent debut novel rings with authenticity as it follows Elizabeth’s journey to taking an active role in her recovery, hoping to get back all that she lost.

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EXCLUSIVE DELETED SCENE

We had a new therapist for music therapy on Thursday. Her name was Sunny and she wore a long, drapey skirt made from a blue tapestry and smelled like incense. She didn’t look much older than me and wore at least ten silver bracelets on her right arm that clinked together whenever she moved.

We sat on the carpeted floor as classical music played. I think it was supposed to calm us.

“Okay, guys. Close your eyes and feel the music,” Sunny said, her eyes wide. “What does it bring up? What do you see? What do you remember? Write down anything that comes to you.”  

I looked over at Willa. She was drawing big huge scribbles. She grinned at me and scrawled “Suck suck suck suck suck this sucks” in big angry letters. She giggled. I drew flowers. Perfectly symmetrical flowers. If one wasn’t perfect, I scribbled it out.

 Sunny had turned and was scrolling through iTunes, her back to us. Right when I thought Willa was going to rip a hole in her paper, Madonna blasted through the speakers hanging from all four corners of the room. I jumped.

The music was old, some song from the eighties or nineties where Madonna kept singing “celebrate! It will be all right!” It was the sort of song Mom would squeal over and sing along to. The girls and I just sat there confused. Sunny couldn’t want us to dance, could she?

Sunny spun around, skirt twirling, and saw us sitting there like statues. “Well, move, guys!”

Was this a trap? A way to get us all to drink an Ensure? No one budged. We weren’t supposed to “move.” Anything beyond necessary walking was strictly prohibited.

“Come on guys! Listen to the beat! Move with the music!” She swayed in the front of the room, and every time she waved her arms we could smell patchouli.

I stared at the floor, willing someone else to go first. I did not want to have to drink an Ensure. That’s what happened if they caught you running or exercising around here.

Still, my toes bumped to the beat. Madonna was sort of contagious.

Celebra-ate! It will be all right!

Finally, Jean, who everyone called a “lifer” because she’d already been at the hospital for nine months, stood up and started to wiggle her butt, just a little. Willa jumped up next, and I followed. Soon all eight of us were on our feet, laughing, moving, wiggling, jumping, dancing like—what is that cheesy quote that is always showing up on cards and magnets? —oh yeah, like nobody was watching.  Ally, a girl from Manhattan whose parents visited every week, started to moonwalk. We hooted and cheered. I laughed and felt something inside me crack open. For the first time in a long time, I felt normal, like I could be in my basement dancing with my friends Katrina, Priya, and Shay, like the last few months had never happened.  

And then, without warning, the music disappeared, like a needle ripped from a record. We froze. A disapproving Nurse Jill stood next to Sunny, who looked ashamed, like a kid caught playing in her mother’s closet. We stood there, panting, Ally’s face red from her crazy moves.

“Lunch time,” Nurse Jill said. The frown lines in her already wrinkled cheeks deepened.

giveaway

3 winners will receive a finished copy of WHAT I LOST, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

author0001-alexandraballard-headshots

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

Alexandra Ballard has worked as a magazine editor, middle-school English teacher, freelance writer, and cake maker. She holds master’s from both Columbia (journalism) and Fordham (education) and spent ten years in the classroom, beginning in the Bronx and ending up in the hills of California. Today she writes full time and lives in the Bay Area with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs. What I Lost is Alexandra’s first novel.

OTHER STOPS ON THE TOUR 

Week Two:

6/5/2017- Lisa Loves Literature- Review

6/6/2017- YA Book Madness- Guest Post

6/7/2017- The Cover Contessa- Interview

6/8/2017- Book Briefs- Review

6/9/2017- A Gingerly Review- Review

Keep reading, 

Jordan

Guest Post: On Writing Strong Female Characters and Other Musings by Jennifer Siddoway

2 - Author Logo

As Rory Gilmore once said, “I live in two worlds, one is a world of books.” I have never felt more connected to a character than in that moment, because I too, have lived a hundred different lives through the beautifully crafted pages of a novel. An author’s ability to paint a world with words is something that amazes me to this day, and will continue to do so for years to come.

I never thought that I would become an author, not even in my wildest dreams. Sometimes it still feels like I’m an imposter who has infiltrated this community and has not yet been discovered for the fraud she is. Yet, here I am about to release book two in the Earthwalker Trillogy and it finally feels like I’m treading water.

The heroine in this series, Wynn Hendricks, is a headstrong, fiery redhead who desperately wants to finish high school when a Demon Lord shows up in her bedroom and declares her soul his property. To regain her freedom, she must conquer the seven deadly sins. In doing so, she finds herself caught between the realms of Heaven, Hell, and Earth, with the angel Caleb as her only ally.

Cover 1.1
I’m a big fan of strong female characters, and in Wynn’s story I really wanted to show her rising above this terrible situation and coming out on top. She doesn’t need a knight in shining armor to protect her, but would rather have someone love and support her while she rescues herself. Her journey covers a three-book arc that I’m hoping will show growth and depth of character over time. Each of the Demon Lords are unique and come at her in different ways, which I found fascinating to write about. I didn’t want the straightforward, hand over fist, showdown that you’d expect. They’re clever and come at her sideways, hoping that Wynn will become overconfident or make some fatal mistake. One of the things I like about them is that they do not make idle threats. Aidan and the other Demon Lords follow through on what they promise and that is terrifying, especially when they don’t play by the rules – nothing is off the table.

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After tragedy strikes the Hendricks family, Wynn leaves for college, hoping the Demon Lords follow her. She is reunited with Caleb after his fall from grace. Now, they no longer have to hide their feelings for one another. Together, they prepare for Wynn’s three remaining trials and encounter another demon who has infiltrated the Mortal Realm. Charlene is strong and beautiful, with complete control of her demonic powers – everything Wynn hopes to achieve one day.

The Demon Lords aren’t holding back, but they’re not the only ones who are conspiring against her. Maya is on the warpath and blames Wynn for Caleb’s decision to leave. Wynn learns that to defeat Aidan once and for all will come at a terrible price, taking her away from the ones she loves most.

With the help of some unlikely allies, can Wynn defeat the Demon Lords and finally make Aidan pay?

ExcerptHis lips broke from mine and left a trail of kisses down my neck, sending a jolt of hot confusion coursing through my body. Electric tingles ran up and down along my spine in a delicious need to hold him and have his body pressed against me. I tilted my head to give him better access and let out an involuntary sigh. “Caleb …” l breathed out dreamily.

“I love you.”

He cradled my face in his hands and pulled away briefly so that he could whisper, “You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to hear you say that.”

I breathed out a ragged laugh before kissing him again and losing myself completely in his touch. My body ignited beneath his hands and I all I could think about was this magnificent creature had pledged himself to me. His lips were on me once again, and I wrapped myself around him like a snake in another one of his passionate kisses. A moment later, I felt myself being lifted off the ground as he carried me back into the apartment.

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authorJennifer SiddowayWebsite/Facebook/Instagram/Twitter

Jennifer is an author from Tallahassee, Florida who writes paranormal romance and fantasy novels for young adults. She is a member of both Gulf Coast Authors and the Florida Writers Association.

After receiving a degree in theatre and working as a scenic artist for twelve years, she changed careers to do what she really loves—writing. Jennifer believes that part of her job as an artist and story teller is to create a narrative that explores a fresh perspective and leaves the audience thinking.

Even as a child, she has always been intrigued by Grimm’s Fairy Tales and particularly enjoys a twist on an established plot. When she’s not busy writing or burying her nose in a book, Jennifer enjoys doing medieval reenactment with her husband and two children.

 

 

Guest Post: Querying for Dummies by V.E. Hust

They say (although who they are exactly is a mystery) that everyone has a novel in them. Recently I’ve been informed by a fairly trusted source that some of those books should not in fact come out. However, for the brave few who do put fingers to keyboard and finish a novel there will come a time that you must query.

Now, there are a few hard and fast rules of the query:

  • It should be three paragraphs in length and not over 300 words.
  • It should be written in the third person.
  • It should cover the first half of your story arc and end with your mid-plot inciting incident and STAKES.
  • It should be professional, proof read, and contain more information about the plot than your credentials.
  • Please, dear god, spell the agent’s name right.

magikarp-169-envia Pokemon.com

Querying is kind of like being the best magikarp jumper in Magikarp Jump. You have to write(catch) a query(magikarp) and send it on its rounds to your beta readers (train it) all the while stressing over it’s perfect name something punchy and eye-catching (like dinosaur erotica).

Magikarp-Jump-is-the-addictive-new-Pokemon-mobile-game-thats-sweeping-the-globevia Daily Mirror

Once you’ve edited (leveled up) your query (magikarp) by taking criticism and applying it (feeding it berries) you have to send it out to your first round of agents (aka to battle.)

magikarp-jump-4via Time Magazine

Now, on the way your query (magikarp) might get destroyed by a critique (pidgeotto) this just means it wasn’t ready for agents to see (to battle) and you need to start fresh with a new query (magikarp) and maybe a new name (like plz no die).

trainingvia Google Play

Once you have a successful query you should make a list of agents who represent your genre and with whom you would like to be signed. Querytracker.com and Absolutewrite.com are super useful when building your list. Then you send your query, make sure to personalize it to the specific agent’s specifications. READ the entire submission page twice before sending so as not to miss anything important.

It’s generally considered prudent to send your queries out in batches of no more than ten but no less than five. If you have a particularly well received query you could perhaps stretch that to fifteen. A well-received query is one that garners a request rate of more than twenty percent. A good query will garner fifteen, a serviceable one will bring in ten and anything under ten should be sent back to training.

I’m going to go in depth here for a moment about query structure. Technically there are no hard and fast rules about where most information should be, but in general your query should look something like this:

1st paragraph – Includes pertinent background and setting information, includes the main character’s name and their first problem – in YA it includes the character’s age.

2nd paragraph – Includes love interest and inciting incident, keep this fast paced and don’t bog it down with adjectives.

3rd paragraph – make us feel for the main character what is going to happen to her if she isn’t accepted to college/ doesn’t escape from her magical prison/can’t be with her true love. Make it personal and relatable.

After that there should be a small paragraph about the manuscript stats; word count (not page count), genre, comp titles, and sub-genre. Followed by a sentence or two about who you are and any credits you might have.

Close it out with a thank you for your time and attention, your name, e-mail address and any social media that’s applicable.

That’s it, don’t try to wow them with presents, don’t rave out how your book is the next Harry Potter, DON’T threaten/harass/be mean to the agent. I know most people would never but apparently there are enough crazies out there that this is becoming a trend.

So now there’s another how to query article out there, filled with tried and true approaches and some awesome Pokémon references. Hopefully it was helpful and at least a little amusing. Go, query, you are amazing!

magikarp-jump3via Forbes

Happy query writing and if you have questions, feel free to ask!

Guest Post: On Writing & Doing What You Love by Megan Cutler

iolf-current-1000Goodreads/Amazon

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When a mysterious island appears off the coast of San Francisco, two intrepid academics risk everything to discover its secrets. Literature professor Catilen Taylor has struggled all her life with the ability to sense others’ emotions. The only person comfortable with her eccentricities is Damian Cooke, who studies an ancient art he calls ‘magic.’

Beyond the military barricade they discover a paradise unspoiled by modern advances, ruled by the enigmatic Sentomoru, who invites them to share the wonders of his bathhouse. But as the travelers strive to unravel the island’s secrets, Catilen senses danger stalking their every step.

Neither Catilen nor Damian can guess how long the island will remain on Earth. If they can’t solve its riddles, and untangle themselves from a growing web of strife quickly, they may be trapped wherever the island goes when it vanishes. Is the island the paradise it promises? Or does a nightmare lurk beneath the surface?

guest

People always want to know when you discovered you were a writer. Maybe some people have a giant ah-ha moment where it all clicks for them, but for me it was a slow process of discovery. In a way, writing was always a part of my life. People used to talk constantly about how much I wrote for assignments in elementary school. Like it was an expectation that any story I wrote would be twice as long as the rest – and, of course, I was eager to deliver.

Sometime in middle school, I was invited to partake in a special class centered around writing. It got me out of other classes I liked less, which was the main reason I liked it at the time. That and the teacher was incredibly laid back. He encouraged us to do whatever made us comfortable during writing time, which meant lying on the floor, sitting under tables, and sometimes being able to sit in the hall if we were quiet. All the things usually forbidden to school kids that age. Sometimes he would sit at the front of the room, play his guitar and sing us his songs while we wrote. Some of my fondest school memories came from that class.

I learned many of the basic principles of writing in that class. Always write in pen, our teacher told us, so that the words are permanent, concrete. Never cross them out so darkly you can’t see what you originally wrote (a single line through will do). Never delete, always save. Always date your work. Our teacher encouraged us to let words flow without judgment, to write whatever we felt like that day, whatever came into our minds or felt right. We didn’t talk much about editing in that class – those were lessons I learned later – but I did learn to let go, to write words without worrying about who would be looking over my shoulder in the days to come (a lesson I would have to re-learn in my adult years).

We shared our stories with the class. Mine was about a girl named V (or perhaps her name only started with a V and I can no longer remember it). She built a time machine. I can’t remember why she wanted to travel through time, but I do remember her parents were totally cool with it. As each person read their story aloud, we wrote comments on little slips of paper to share what we thought. I kept all the ones people wrote for me. I still have them tucked away in a folder.

By high school I was hiding writing notebooks underneath the notebooks I took my class notes in (not that it stopped me from getting into trouble). I had characters I turned to when I was angry and characters who comforted me when I was sad. Snow days were a great boon; a chance to write all day without interruption. I had grand plans by then, dreams of being a bestselling author by the time I was twenty-five.

Of course, life never works out the way you plan. I was closer to thirty when I published my first novel in 2015. But no matter what else I did with my life (college, working in IT), writing was always lurking in the background. Always the ultimate goal.

My first book, Island of Lost Forevers, is a tale about two college professors exploring a mysterious island that appears off the coast of San Francisco. They want to know where it came from and where it will go when it leaves. But though the island appears to be paradise, a nightmare may be lurking just beneath the surface. It has nothing to do with my high school scribbles but, without them, I never would have made it this far.

author

meganprofilecircle

You can find my work at megancutler.net. I post random musings every Monday and free short fiction every Friday. You can also hang out with me on Twitter and on Facebook. Island of Lost Forevers, and its two sequels, are available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited; plus Island of Lost Forevers is getting a paperback in July!

Exciting reading, 

Jordan