Laura Howard: March 2013


Six Questions with Anne Michaud

Today we have Anne Michaud on Six Question Saturday. Anne is getting ready to publish her collection of five Young Adult novellas, Girls & Monsters.

She's been published in several Magazines and Anthologies, and it's a pleasure to have her to answer my famous Six Questions!

What authors have influenced you the most?

So many have left strong impressions on me through the years, it's hard to recall. Still, my favorites are: Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Neil Gaiman, Suzanne Collins, Michael Grant, Jean-Christophe Rufin, Scott Westerfeld, and Edgar Allan Poe.

When did you decide you wanted to have your writing published?
At the first sell of my short story Visitors – the first thing I ever wrote after years of screenwriting, on the first magazine I sent it to. I was lucky and thought it would be that easy to get an agent and then published traditionally. What a fool.

What is your editing process and have you hired a professional editor?

Well, I have a few good beta readers who point out obvious problems, one of my friend whose English is better than mine passes through everything, and then DarkFuse's editor finished it off with two rounds of edits, polishing with final copyedits.

What are the most important things you've done to market your books?

This blog tour is pretty major, more than 30 blogs spreading the word through reviews, interviews and guest posts. The hardest is trying to find intelligent/interesting things to say and make it sound like I'm not repeating yourself. Oh, and my handcrafted collection of Skellies, each representing the monsters in my collection are pretty cute, too.

How long should an author work on building a presence online before publishing?

I have no idea!! I've been quite active on Twitter for the past two years, my blog Musings and Little Obsessions has been up for just as long, and before that I had an online journal for the main character of my novel Rebel. That was so cool, getting to explore her day to day life, until I rewrote the whole book and changed her world completely. I still read it when I miss her, though.

What lesson have you learned along the way that you would hope others could avoid?

Get out there, make friends, don't be afraid to approach people, even big writers who are so easily accessible, these days. You never know what could happen, how your moment will finally arrive and who you'll meet.

As I get closer to my own publication date, I find myself asking more and more: what do you think is the best way to get your name out there?


Cover Reveal: Made to Forget by Samantha LaFantansie & Giveaway!

Made to Forget by Samantha LaFantasie
Genre: Adult  Sci-Fi/Fantasy

MADE TO FORGET by Samantha LaFantasie

There’s something that lies within my memory. Hidden in the dark. Something that can kill me and those that I love. But I was in an accident, covered in mystery and deception. And my memory…was lost. There are those who want me to remember. I don’t trust them. And those I do trust…are fighting for me to forget.

Elsabetha Ellery wants to get her memory back, even if it kills her.

After waking up in a hospital with no memory, Elsabetha quickly learns those who claim to be her friend are anything but. And those who are her true friends keep themselves unseen.

Stuck with piecing together her broken memories alone, Elsa struggles with having faith in those she trusts and heeding the warnings of the dangers in recovering her memory. Ignoring them, she faces heavy consequences. Ones she doesn’t see until it’s too late, and a life is lost.

If you'd like to be updated on the release of MADE TO FORGET -- sign up HERE.

A Kansas native, Samantha spends her free time with her husband and three kids. Writing has always been a passion of hers but she only took up writing seriously a few years ago. Among her writing credentials, she’s a board member of the Kansas Writer’s Association and has founded her own critique group lovingly named The Fighting Hamsters.

You can find her presence on...
Facebook † Twitter † WebsiteGoodReads

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Chapter One, The Forgotten Ones

To celebrate sending The Forgotten Ones to my editor for proofreading this weekend, I'd like to share the first chapter for you all to see! I've shared it with a few people, in bits and pieces, but this is it in it's entirety!

This is my own work, please don't steal it. Do I really have to say that?

Chapter 1

I rounded the corner of our farmers’ porch, and caught a glimpse of my mother staring out the den window. She held her violin loosely under her chin and the bow dangled from her fingertips. Her jaw was slack. Her eyes locked on something in the trees beyond me. I froze. I knew that haunted expression.

I swallowed as her eyes shifted to me. The violin fell from her chin and I could see the trembling in her bottom lip. 
I should have been used to her haunted expression when she saw me during an episode.

But I wasn’t.

I flew into the house as fast as my feet would carry me. The screen door crashed behind me as I came to a halt outside the den. My mother clutched fistfuls of her blonde hair, garbled words spilling from her lips.

I have to. I have to go out there,” she said. “He’s waiting for me.”

The lights were off and the only other sound was the hum of the ceiling fan. I squeezed the door jamb as I watched my grandmother approach her. She placed her hands on my mother’s shoulders. On contact, my mother’s body stopped quaking. Gram crooned, rocking her back and forth as she pulled her into her arms.

Gram led Mom away from the window. My stomach tightened, and I backed away to leave them alone.

My mother had just started to calm down when the floor under me creaked. She jerked her head in my direction. Her eyes widened and she began shaking again when she saw me. Breaking away from my grandmother, she stumbled back toward the window.

She raked her fingers down her face and hair as she moaned, “Liam.” Tears streamed down her cheeks, causing thick strands of hair to stick to her face.

I entered the room slowly, desperate not to step on another squeaky floorboard. Her green eyes burned into mine, but I would not look away. No matter how many times she fought my attempts to soothe her, I had to keep trying.

I reached for her shoulders.


She flinched. I knew she recognized me. I’d never met my father, but under my mattress I hid the only scrap I could find with his image. The picture, a strip of them really, was taken before I was born in a photo booth in Ireland. My gut told me that when she was like this, she saw my father in me.

She resumed writhing and clawing at my hands. Gurgling sounds came from somewhere deep in her throat, but I knew she was still saying my father's name.

I placed my hands gently over hers, my gaze steady, as though approaching a wounded animal. I took deep, soothing breaths the way Gram had shown me.

I could feel the weight of Gram's stare, watching for my mother’s reaction. I had to prove that I could do this. To Gram and to myself.

Shh, you’re okay,” I repeated over and over, until her breathing became even, more normal. “You’re okay.”

It felt like hours, but at last the tension in her fingers loosened as she stopped trying to resist me.

My grandmother walked slowly out of the room. I continued to make shushing sounds until the panic in my mother's eyes faded.

I exhaled and led her to sit on the couch. The same woman who had just been in the throes of a schizophrenic episode was now completely unresponsive.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Gram standing just outside the doorway. I released my mother's hands and got up to follow Gram down the hallway to the kitchen. She smelled like oranges and cloves – familiar and comforting.

I opened the refrigerator to find a bottle of water and slouched down at the kitchen table.

“You did good, Allie-girl,” Gram said, leaning back against the counter and wiping the back of her hand across her eyes.

I tried to smile as I unscrewed the cap of my water bottle. Inside I was struggling with the gratification of being able to bring my mother down from her episode, sideswiped with the usual pang of guilt for being the one who caused her condition in the first place. Before I was born, she’d been a bright, happy college student. I blamed myself for her spiral into schizophrenia, whether it was rational or not.

My parents met during my mother’s final year of college. She had traveled to Ireland for her last semester to study music at Trinity College in Dublin. She came back heartbroken and pregnant. She’d never been the same since.

“Have you eaten, honey?” Gram asked, nailing me in place with her eyes.

I flipped the bottle cap in my fingers. “No, but I'm fine.”

“Oh, no you don't. We had a nice steak for supper, cooked just the way you like. You'll have some, won't you?”

I had to laugh, because with Gram there was no choice. I sat down at the table while she whirled around the kitchen with the force of a tornado. In minutes I had a steak dinner complete with steaming mashed potatoes and green beans in front of me.

“You spoil me, you know,” I said between bites. “I'm never going to be able to take care of myself if you keep this up.”

Gram smiled at me. “You'll have plenty of time to take care of yourself. Let me spoil you while I still can.”

I swallowed down the guilt, knowing she didn't see raising me for the past almost twenty-two years as a burden. But, I couldn't help the feeling.

As I ate, my mother walked into the kitchen. She sat quietly down at the table without looking at either of us.

“Hi, Mom.” I spoke as softly as I could, so I didn't alarm her.

“Hello.” She spoke in barely more than a whisper, chewing on her fingernail and staring absently out the window. Even with her hair framing her face in knots, my mother looked lovely. Her eyes were sage green and her skin was flawless. She didn't look a day over thirty.

“That was a beautiful tune you played earlier, Beth.” Gram said as she took my mother's hands in her own. “I could practically smell the Irish sea.”

“Mm hmm,” my mother answered, mostly detached, but a tiny smile lifted the corner of her mouth. I could only hope that she would smile like that for me one day.

My cell phone buzzed in my pocket. I opened it to find a message from my cousin, Nicole.
I need ice cream tonight

I laughed as I put my phone back into my pocket. I’d worked all afternoon at my grandfather’s hardware store. But it was Friday night – I should’ve known I wouldn’t be able to just relax with a good book. Nicole was one year younger than me and we were as close as sisters, but our ideas of a perfect Friday night were very different.

I glanced out the window to Nicole’s driveway. When I’d gotten home, it had been full of the cars of her friends. I was grateful to only see her little Jetta. Hanging out with Nicole I could handle.

Her friends were a different story. Especially when that included Ethan Magliaro.


We chose a table on the patio. Nicole and I sat down with two of the biggest sundaes on the menu at DeeDee's. I normally tried to eat healthy, but I couldn't help myself when it came to ice cream.

The sun was hanging low in the evening sky, and the heat from earlier had settled into a pleasant warmth on my skin. The last fingers of golden light caused the pink and blue umbrellas to cast a glow across Nicole's pale blonde hair. She licked a puff of whipped cream off her spoon and eyed me, considering.

“What?” I said around a mouth full of ice cream.

“We're going to the beach tomorrow,” she said before taking her own bite.

“Have fun,” I mumbled, still eating.

She wiped her lips with a napkin and narrowed her eyes at me. “You're coming.”

I opened my mouth to argue, but she held a slender finger up at me and pursed her lips.

“It’s the first Saturday you’ve had off in months. School’s over, at least for the summer. You're coming.”

I sighed and looked up at the pattern of our umbrella. “You really know how to ruin a perfectly good sundae.”

She shot daggers at me. “We'll have a great time, Al.” Her expression changed and she seemed to change tactics. Her green eyes widened and her lip stuck out just the tiniest bit.

Cranky Nicole was a challenge, but pouting Nicole was impossible.

“Fine, we're going to the beach.” I looked at my sundae, which had made me so happy a minute earlier and a thought came to me. She hadn’t said anyone else was coming, but Nicole and her boyfriend Jeff were practically inseparable. “Who's going?”

Nicole grinned, smelling her victory. “The usual: Jeff, Rachel, Sean and,” her eyebrows shot up. “...Ethan.”

I nodded, trying to keep the stupid smile off my face. I hated the way my pulse spiked at just the mention of his name.
Handsome, cocky Ethan. His smile had the power to break down every one of my defenses. But, I didn’t have space in my life for that. I had a plan – to focus on taking care of my mom. My grandparents had done it by themselves for long enough.

Knowing Nicole, she probably planned the trip to the beach and told everyone I was going before she even asked me. Just as that thought came to me, Jeff sneaked up behind Nicole. He held his finger to his lips and planted a kiss on Nicole's cheek.

She jumped and smacked him, but smiled when she realized who it was.

“Hey, babe.” Jeff took the seat next to her and looked over at me. “Hey Al.”

The chair next to mine scraped the patio and it was my turn to jump. Ethan dropped into the seat and grinned at me, his dimples out in full force. I concentrated on my sundae.

“Hey,” he said, nodding at me. A brown curl slipped down his forehead, adding to his annoying charm.

“Hi,” I muttered and shoved a glob of half-melted ice cream in my mouth, hoping to avoid conversation.

Ethan was easily the best-looking guy in Stoneville. Tall, olive-skinned with dark, messy curls. He was also the biggest player in town. He knew the effect he had on girls, and he used it.

“So, we're all set for the beach tomorrow,” Nicole told them. She sounded a little too smug, and I rolled my eyes.

“Something in your eye, Allison?” Ethan was still amused at my attempt at indifference.

I clenched my jaw and almost rolled my eyes again. “That must be it, Ethan.”

“Oh, come on. I know how bad you want to see me with my shirt off.”

I didn't think that warranted a response, but I never could keep my mouth shut when Ethan provoked me. “The entire female population of this town has seen you without a shirt on. Not that exciting.”
A slow smile spread across his face. He saw through me. I really needed to work on my sarcasm.

He turned back to Nicole and Jeff who were debating whether to head northeast to Hampton Beach or southeast to Horseneck Beach.

Nicole's petite nose was scrunched up.“Hampton is full of screaming kids. Horseneck is better.”

“What do you think, Ethan?” Jeff asked.

Ethan stretched, raising his arms over his head so that his sleeves fell and showed off his toned arms. His eyes darted to me before answering. “The girls wear skimpier bikinis at Hampton.”

A gagging sound escaped my mouth before I could stop it.

Ethan grinned, obviously delighted to get another rise out of me. “I'll go wherever Al wants to go. I don't want her to have any reasons to bail on us.”
He would twist anything I said, so this time I managed to stay quiet. Nicole met my eyes and I nodded.

“Horseneck it is.”


Nicole left with Ethan and Jeff, all three of them excited about the band playing tonight at The Bean Counter. Ethan had made an impressive effort to convince me to come along. Going to the packed coffee house sounded horrible to me, and I was glad that I had my own car and could use the need of getting food for the beach as a way of opting out.

“I'll be over at seven thirty sharp!” Nicole hollered from Jeff's jeep as he pulled away.

I chuckled as I drove home from the grocery store, knowing that I would be up and ready at seven thirty, but doubting she would. All of our lives I'd had to drag her, kicking and screaming, out the door to get her to school on time.

When I got home I grabbed my bags and headed up the stairs of the front porch. Twigs snapping in the woods broke through the quiet night. As I looked around to see what might have made the noise, a shiver ran down my spine. The yard was dark, and the porch light didn't reach more than five feet off the steps.

I shook my head, irritated by my paranoia, and walked through the front door.

Gram sat on the couch with a crossword book on her lap. My mother was watching a game show on TV. Pop was slouched in his chair, eyes closed under his half-moon glasses which had slid down low on his nose.

I smiled at them as I dropped my keys on the sideboard.

At that moment, it wasn't hard to believe that my mother was the happy, normal girl everyone claimed she was before I was born. The glow from the lamp lightened her partially damp hair. A stranger would think she was not much older than me. Even staring at the TV with her mouth slightly open, she was incredibly beautiful.

“What time will you be heading to the beach tomorrow?” Gram asked.

“Nicole says she'll be here at seven thirty. ” I sighed, pulling a cooler out of the closet. “What do you think the odds are of that happening?”

“No comment, Allie-girl,” Gram replied with a twinkle in her eye.


Sunlight assaulted my eyelids, and I pulled the blanket up over my head with a groan. I'd been dreaming of cloudy, rain-soaked skies. Judging from the intensity of the sun, I didn't see any ominous thunderstorms getting me out of going to the beach today. It was only six o'clock so I climbed out of bed, threw on shorts and a tank top and headed out for a run.

When I walked back in the house, my mother was sitting on the couch watching TV. Pop sat at the table reading the Saturday paper. I didn't see Gram anywhere, she was probably out watering her garden before it got too hot.

“Good morning, Allison,” Pop said, folding down the corner of his paper.

“Mornin' Pop.”

The smell of fresh coffee drew me into the kitchen where my favorite mug already sat on the counter waiting for me.

“I hear you kids are heading out to the beach today,” Pop said, his face hidden behind the newspaper again. My mother glanced over at him, but quickly looked back to the talk show she was watching.

“That's right, can't wait,” I dropped down on the couch with my coffee.

Pop folded down the corner of his paper again, peering at me over his reading glasses. “It's okay to have some fun once in a while, Al.”

I snorted in response – going to the beach with Nicole and her friends didn't really count as fun in my book. Other than Nicole, I didn't feel comfortable around anyone my own age. I'd rather just be alone or sit in the backyard with a book while Gram worked in her garden.

“When Beth was a girl, she and Joanne went to the beach just about every weekend during the summer.” Joanne was my mother's best friend growing up. She stopped by to visit at least once a week. She was also Jeff and Ethan's mother.

I raised my eyebrow. “Are you trying to tell me something, Pop?” I asked with a smirk.

“Nah, sweetheart. Just thinking life is too short, you know? I wouldn't want you to miss out on your share of fun before life gets in the way.”

“You know my idea of fun isn't like everybody else. I'm perfectly happy with a good book and a bowl of Double Fudge ice cream.” I grinned widely, trying to show my sincerity.

“Sure isn't that you're not pretty enough. Those eyes of yours are about the bluest I've ever seen. I think all the boys around here are just scared off by your sharp tongue.”

“Think so?” I couldn't help laughing as I stood up and went upstairs to change into my bathing suit.

Back downstairs, I glanced at my watch. It was seven forty-five. If Nicole didn't show up by eight, I'd go back to bed.

No sooner than those thoughts passed through my mind, the screen door slammed. Nicole burst in wearing a hot-pink terry coverall and flip-flops. Her shoulder-length blonde hair was pulled up in a high ponytail.

“We're burning daylight here, Al. Let's go!”

“Good morning to you, too. You're practically on time,” I teased.

“It'll be a good morning if you have some coffee left. Mom and Dad aren't even up yet.” She whipped open the cabinet and pulled down a mug.

I chuckled. “When was the last time you were up at this hour? I haven't seen you leave the house before nine thirty since high school.” Nicole was a hairdresser and the salon she worked at opened at ten o'clock.

Nicole ignored me and took a long drink of her coffee. “Whatcha watching Aunt Beth?”

“My shows,” my mother answered quietly.

“Grab the cooler, Nic. I'm going to grab the umbrella and we're outta here.” I kissed Pop on the cheek and walked over to kiss my mother on the head. She didn't move, and I gave her a tiny smile before heading out.

When the trunk was packed, I slammed it shut just as Nicole's friend Rachel pulled into the driveway in her tiny red coupe. She was dressed just like Nicole, only in a turquoise coverall. Her curly dark hair was twisted up in an artfully messy bun.

“Hey, girly,” she greeted Nicole, not even looking at me. She raised a perfectly shaped brow at Nicole as she held up her beach tote.

“You'll drive, right Allison?” Rachel said airily as she tossed her bag into my backseat.

You bet!” I said through clenched teeth.

Jeff pulled his Jeep in behind Rachel's car. Her attention was quickly diverted to sticking her chest out for maximum cleavage exposure to the three guys in the Jeep.

Nicole glanced at me with a silly grin, “We're gonna have an awesome day, don't be a grouch!”


I inhaled the salty ocean air, and the lingering scent of suntan lotion filled my nose. The sun was searing my legs and I decided it was time for a break. My skin burned easily and although I had sunscreen on, they were already looking a little pink. I put my bookmark between the pages and attempted to brush some of the sand off of my legs as I stood. I lifted my arms and stretched before retreating to the chair under my umbrella.

Down at the water, I could see Rachel with her arms wrapped around her middle, the wind whipping strands of dark hair into her face. She kept jumping and shrieking when Sean or Ethan stumbled on their boogie boards and splashed her. Ethan caught my gaze and motioned for me to come in. I laughed and shook my head.

As I took off my sunglasses, the sound of the gulls was broken up by a loud cawing. I looked over at the spot next to us where some kids were building a sand castle. There was a crow standing a few feet away, watching me. I'd never seen a crow at the beach before. There was probably a beached seal nearby.

I started to open my book up, but the hairs along the back of my neck stood up. A funny feeling came over me, like I was being watched. I glanced around, and locked eyes with the crow again.
Something about its beady eyes bothered me and I turned away quickly.

On my other side, Nicole buried Jeff in the sand. All that was visible was his spiky brown hair and his Red Sox visor.

"Just stay still for one more second, Jeff. I've got to get a picture," Nicole begged as she grabbed her camera from the blanket by my feet.

She clicked a few times before the sand started to crack and crumble around him.

"That's it, let me out of here!" Jeff shouted. The sand broke apart around him and he jumped up. Nicole yelped in surprise as he took off chasing her down to the water.

"Come swim with us Al!" Nicole yelled over her shoulder as she ran.

I shook my head with a smile. "I don't think so," I called out before reopening my book.

A few minutes later, I heard a quiet thud as Ethan dropped down to his knees on the blanket by my feet. He dug around the cooler and pulled out a soda.

"Aren't you having fun?" he asked breathlessly between gulps.

"As a matter of fact, I am," I replied, gesturing to the umbrella and my book.

"Yeah? Whatcha reading?"

I felt a blush rise on my cheeks as I held the book out for him to see. I was reading
Gone With The Wind.

Ethan started laughing, nearly choking on his soda. "I imagined you up here reading
The Guide to Modern Physics. I would've never guessed you were reading a romance novel!" He stretched himself out on the blanket and closed his eyes, his lips curved up in that mocking little smile.

I looked down at him. His dark hair was slicked back with water, and he was perfectly tanned. I couldn't help noticing that his lashes were a thick and dark fringe. He was gorgeous. I forced myself to look away.

When I glanced back down, Rachel had sneaked up onto the blanket and gestured with her finger to her lips. She flopped down onto her stomach and began running a piece of ice that had fallen out of the cooler along Ethan's chest, causing him to shout in surprise.

"You're going down!" he yelled before scooping Rachel up over his shoulder and running down to toss her screaming into the ocean.

I looked down to the water, wondering how Sean felt about Rachel flirting with Ethan. They had one of those on-again-off-again relationships that made no sense to me.

When it was time to leave, I walked up the old wooden steps to the parking lot with my arms full of beach gear. The others were lagging behind, but I could still hear the sound of their laughter and teasing.

“If you're going with Jeff, I am too,” I heard Rachel say to Nicole in her nasally voice.

“Sweet! Shotgun in Al's car,” Ethan yelled. Rachel would be disappointed that she didn't get a chance to cozy up to him in the backseat.

“Damn man, I was just going to say that!” Sean said before I heard a thump. I could only imagine from Ethan's grunt that Sean had whacked him upside the head. I laughed to myself that both guys were so desperate to stay away from Rachel.

I opened the hatch and started loading it when Ethan gently pushed me aside.

“I got this,” he said, winking at me as he hefted the cooler in.

“Yeah, I wouldn't want to break a nail,” I muttered, placing my bag in the back.

Ethan just laughed and shook his head.

“Meet us at Nic's!” Jeff shouted out his window before tearing out of the parking lot.

I started the car as Ethan and Sean piled in. As usual, Sean reached up front and ruffled my hair before settling in his seat. He grew up in the house next door to Nicole, and he'd always been nice to me, even if his sometimes girlfriend was a jerk.

“You coming over tonight?” Ethan asked as he flipped through the CD's in my case.

“Me?” I stuttered, and tried to swallow down my nerves. “Are you kidding? My bed is calling my name early tonight,” I replied, trying to keep an aloof tone.

Ethan shook his head, smirking down at the CDs . “We're just going to be watching a movie.”

“Didn't your mother teach you not to beg, dude?” Sean asked, teasing. “You probably have a hot date, right Allie-O?” He shook my shoulder lightly. I smiled at his use of that old nickname from the days we used to play hide-and-seek in our neighborhood.

“Yeah, a hot date with Rhett Butler,” Ethan said. I kept my eyes on the road, but I couldn't help the smile that played on my lips.

“Poor Ethan,” Sean said. “I think Rachel wants to snuggle with you tonight, pal.” He was laughing, but I could hear the edge in his voice. The idea of Rachel and Ethan together made my chest squeeze, too.

Ethan chuckled. “No thanks, Rachel is
all yours. She's not my type.”

“What? Since when do
you have a type?” Sean asked, the tension lifting.

“I'm twenty-three years old, man. Time to start thinking of the future.”

I nearly snorted soda out of my nose, until he slung his arm around the back of my chair. Then it was all I could do to keep the car on the road.

He had to know the way he affected me, how he got under my skin. Four years ago, in one of my weaker moments, I'd fallen for his charm. I couldn't let that happen again. But, the memory of that kiss still left me breathless.

I pulled my car into the driveway, thanking the universe for getting me through the trip without too much trouble.

The guys grabbed the umbrella and cooler to carry into the house. I shut the trunk and was about to scoop my bag and chair up when a raucous of caws and screeches broke out in the woods.

Startled, I grabbed my things and walked toward the house. I watched the treeline where a handful of large black birds were swooping up and down in the side yard, knocking leaves and small branches all over the place.

I had almost reached the porch steps when I walked right into Ethan, who was squinting at the scene the birds were making. I stumbled back, nearly falling. He grabbed my elbow and steadied me, sending electricity shooting through my body.

I yanked my arm back, as if he'd burned me. He held his hands up, palms facing forward.

“Easy. You all right?” He laughed, and I felt my cheeks flare.

I pushed past him, embarrassed that I'd practically fallen over backwards and annoyed that he had laughed at me.


I stopped with my hand on the screen door. I didn't know why I was overreacting like this, and it made me even more flustered.

I heard his footsteps as he climbed onto the porch behind me. My hand dropped from the door, and I turned around.

Ethan looked at me, his warm brown eyes searching mine. “Don't be mad.”

I took a deep breath and looked away.

“I'm not mad,” I said. “I was just sort of freaked out by the birds.”

I looked at the spot they'd been tearing up just seconds ago. They were nowhere to be found.

He opened his mouth to speak just as Sean appeared at the screen door. I stood aside to let him out and internally thanked him for saving me from the awkward moment.

“You sure you can't come over?” Ethan asked, his usual wry expression back in place.

Sean just snorted and gave my shoulder a squeeze as he walked by. “Later, Allie O.”

I shook my head at Ethan, “I'm sure, but thanks for the help carrying this stuff.”

He grinned and followed after Sean to Nicole's house. “Have fun with Rhett tonight.”

“Did you have a good time today, honey?” Gram said as she pushed the door open and held it for me.

Tearing my gaze away from Ethan, I made myself smile. “Yeah, it was okay.”


I brought the bag up to my room, and headed back out to my car. Once I confirmed that there was nobody around, I made my way to the spot where the birds had been. I expected to see a raccoon or opossum lying dead in the woods. But, other than scattered leaves and twigs, there was no sign that the birds had even been there.

The entire backyard was clear, not even a squirrel in sight. I walked all the way around the tree line until I was satisfied that I was just worrying over nothing.

I rubbed my hands over my face. Of course nothing was out here. I couldn't help wondering if this was how it had started for my mother. Paranoid over every little sound.

I walked past the fence next to Nicole's yard, and froze when I heard a hushed conversation on the other side.

“Obviously he wants to get with Allison because she's like,
no-man's land. Once he gets in her pants, he'll lose interest.” Rachel said my name like it was acid on her tongue.

“Give me a break, Rach.” Nicole replied, and I could just imagine her dramatic eye roll.

“What? Isn't she still like, a virgin or something?” Rachel said, snickering. “She's probably a lesbian anyway.”

“I think you need to back off my cousin, okay?”

I realized what I was doing, and hurried inside. I did not want to hear any more of that conversation. I decided I would take a quick shower and read for awhile.

My mother was perched in her usual spot on the couch, with Gram and Pop in their seats. The television was on, but when I glanced at my mother, I noticed she wasn't watching it. She was looking out the window. Her expression was blank, but a tear trickled down her cheek.

My mother is walking through an endless stretch of green forest. There is a man by her side, with big blue eyes and wavy caramel hair. She beams up at him. He has his hand on her back, steadying her as she steps over fallen branches and stones. His eyes are constantly moving. He seems restless.
From nowhere black birds surround them. One swoops down on my mother. Red eyes glare at her as it drags its talons across her chest. As quickly as it came, it flies off with the rest. Her shirt is torn and streaked with blood. The man's eyes are wild, searching the forest. He is yelling words I don't understand as he pulls my mother toward him.

I woke up panting, covered in sweat. It was just another dream.

Muffled sobs came from my mother's bedroom across the hall.

I climbed out of my bed and hurried to my mother's room. The first thing I noticed was that she wasn't in her bed. My chest seized, but when I spun around I saw her in her window seat, staring out at the woods.

“Mom,” I whispered, but she wouldn't look at me.

“Mom, please look at me,” I tried again, sitting down on the seat beside her. She turned to face me then. Tears lined her cheeks like silver rivers down her moonlit face.

“Allison,” she murmured. I shivered at the clarity in her voice. I hadn't heard her say my name since I was six years old.

“It's okay, Mom.” I wiped her tears away with a tissue from the nightstand. Her eyes shone bright and burned holes into mine.

“You look... so much like him.” She didn't have to say who she meant, I knew she meant my father.

“I'm sorry if that hurts you,” I said, trying to hang on to the moment of lucidity.

“No,” she whispered, staring back into my eyes. “Your father was beautiful, just like you.”

“Did he hurt you?” I immediately regretted my words – I knew how easy it was to push her over the over the edge.

My mother shuddered, and just like that, she was gone. Her eyes glazed over, completely void of any recognition. She turned her head slowly and stared back out at the woods.


Six Questions with Tyffani Clark Kemp

It's that crazy time of the week again, Six Question Saturday! Today  author Tyffani Clark Kemp steps up to the plate to answer my infamous Six Questions as part of her Beasty Blog Tour.

Welcome Tyffani!

Was there a certain book or author that inspired you to write?

I started writing in the sixth grade. I was in love with Ryan Gosling on Young Hercules and thought if I could just write my own episode and meet him we could get married and live happily ever after. I now know, that's not the case, but I still love to write.
Do you plan out your novel or just fly by the seat of your pants?

I fly by the seat of my pants, but I usually know in my head the three or four main points of the story. Then I just connect the dots.
How do you edit?

With much trepidation and complaining. lol I hate editing. It just makes me want to poke my eyes out. I do a read through, then I send it off to betas. When I get it back I scroll through their comments and make changes as I see fit. Then I do a final read through.
Did you build a platform before releasing a book?

I am starting to learn exactly what that means. I haven't really in the past, but I am with my newer works. I see how important it is to get the word out first. Build that anticipation so people know what's coming.
How have you found the right readers for you?

I don't know. I just put my stuff out there in every way I know how and hope it gets into the right hands. I'm not sure exactly how to find the right reader since reading is so subjective.
If you could start all over, what would you do differently?

I'm not sure...I don't know if, at this point, I would do anything differently. Maybe a little more research and try to understand the importance of building a platform prior to release. Other than that, I'm having too much fun to want to do things differently. And with this industry, you kind of get a chance to do that with each new release anyway.


Boost Book Sales with a Blog Tour or Blast

Happy Hump Day! 

Here today is author of The Kings series, Tawdra Kandle.

Tawdra also runs Promotional Book Tours, a public relations firm that creates buzz for your book with Virtual Book tours.

Once upon a time, writers who published their work went on multi-city tours to promote their books. They traveled on planes and trains, visited book stores in major cities and sat for hours signing books and posing for pictures with their fans.

Those tours are, by and large, a thing of the past. Nowadays only the most famous best-selling authors are treated to real-life tours.

Self-published and small press writers have discovered that in this brave new world, it is more efficient and effective to do cyber tours. The advantages are numerous: the promotion can reach thousands of readers without the author leaving home.

A typical tour includes stops on a variety of blogs over the course of several weeks. A stop can be a review, an interview, an excerpt of the book or a guest post from the author. All these options give the book and its author tremendous exposure.
A smaller investment is a book blast, which is a one day promotion, often on release day, carried on a number of blogs. There are no reviews, excerpts or interviews, just your book info and links, cover pics and author follow information. It’s a short-term publicity play that can help boost your book’s visibility.

Any author can book a tour or blast through a book promo company, but the impact this publicity has on sales and branding is largely dependent on the author. How can you maximize your time in the cyber sun?

First, always be clear about expectations. Find out how many blogs will carry your book and a general idea of their followings. Make sure the promotion company running your tour or blast has a plan to cover non-posting blogs. Be clear about the time posts will be up and what kind of complementary promotion will accompany each stop. (For instance, most bloggers promote their posts on Facebook and Twitter; find out if the promotion company itself also posts and tweets.)

Before the tour or blast, provide the touring company with all the material requested, including all of your social media links, your website, buying links for your book and the cover image. Also provide any excerpts of your book, guest posts and answers to interview questions that are requested by the bloggers.

Frequently, these tours and blasts are accompanied by giveaways, which both draw an audience and give the bloggers an incentive to complete their posts. Find out what kind of prize the company prefers you to offer; the prize is almost always the responsibility of the author. Send a picture or accurate description of your giveaway goodies!

Once the tour is underway, you can provide the best support by following along and commenting on the stops. Thanking the blogger for posting is always appreciated!

Being responsive and accessible is the best way to make the most of your tour or blast. It’s a fabulous way to build your name visibility and boost book sales. . .all without getting out of your pajamas.


Have you done a virtual book tour of any kind?


Spotlight on The Empire by Elizabeth Lang

Also on: 
The Empire (The Empire series)


“It will be interesting to discover which will make you beg. Will it be the pain or the pleasure?”

How do you tame a man without breaking his spirit?

The galaxy is under siege from alien invaders. The Empire is the only force that stands in the gap, trading the freedom of its citizens for a tenuous security.

Amidst this chaos, Lt. Adrian Stannis is a brilliant scientist trying to stay out of the limelight. He hides on a research vessel plying the Outer Rim and finds peace of a sort with Kali Mirren, a psi-enabled humanoid. But his days of anonymity may be coming to an end. Someone has discovered his secret and is determined to make him pay for his treachery. He must finish the project he abandoned years ago, one the Council deems essential in its fight against the aliens, but things are never that simple where Adrian is concerned.

Is he more man than machine, or have years hiding behind a mountain of logic eroded his humanity? Can he learn to love and will he be able to survive the tangled web of political expediency and psychological manipulation that surrounds him?

Will Kali be able to save him from himself, or is there a mystery surrounding him that may explode in their faces?

Everyone wants to know the truth, but will it set them free?

About Elizabeth Lang:

I’m a science fiction writer who started off life as a computer programmer with a love for reading, especially science fiction, fantasy and mystery.
Being in computers, I found my writing skills deteriorating so I decided to take up writing. It became a joy to create characters, stories and worlds and writing soon became a passion I couldn’t put down. As a writer, I like to explore, not only the complexity of characters but the human condition from differing points of view. That is at the heart of the Empire series, of which ‘The Empire’ and ‘The Rebels’ are the first two of a four books series.

You can connect with Elizabeth Lang at the following places:

Author Page on FaceBook





Six Questions with Teresa Mummert

Happy Saturday! I am at the Omni Parker House in Boston, MA this weekend mixing and mingling with some of the brightest authors in both self-publishing and traditional publishing today!

If you're reading this, chances are you're not here with me... BUT I have a fantastic treat for you! Teresa Mummert, author of the wildly successful White Trash Beautiful and recently released Suicide Note (among others) is here for Six Question Saturday!

What authors have influenced you the most?

I think I take something from every book I read. It's important to keep learning and growing as an author.

How many drafts do you typically go through before your book is ready to go?

I write out my rough draft and send it off to my editing team who helps me figure out where I need to add more and if anything needs changed up.

What has your road to publication been like?

Crazy! I write as often as I can. I am always working on future projects. After I was published by Simon & Schuster I realized that I know longer had to do it all alone. That has been amazing. It is great to have someone else to bounce ideas off of.

What would you do differently if you could start all over again?

I wish I could go back and rewrite my first couple of books with what I have learned. I didn't really know what I was doing when I started out. I just knew I wanted to tell a story. I think my work has evolved a lot from those first couple of books.

What marketing tools have been the most effective for you?

Marketing for an indie revolves around social networking. When I am not writing I am working on promotional material or chatting with readers. I always have access to the internet no matter what I am doing.

How do you stay in touch with your readers?

Mostly through Facebook. I love being able to chat with them about characters and what they did or did not like about a book. I try to apply that information to my next book. I try to respond to every comment and post. It still amazes me that there are people reading my books. It blows me away.

I'll be back Monday with some pics and stories from the Boston Author Event! Until then, have a great weekend!


Cover Reveal: Seal Island Trilogy

Upcoming Release: The Selkie Sorceress (Seal Island Trilogy, Book Three)

Author: Sophie Moss

Genre: Irish Fairy Tale/Fantasy Romance

Release Date: April 25, 2013

Book Designers: Blue Harvest Creative

The Seal Island Trilogy has a brand new look!

Book Description:
American detective, Sam Holt, has a knack for finding people who shouldn't be found. When his last case almost killed an innocent woman, he swore off detective work forever. But when that same woman asks him for one last investigation--to find her husband's long lost mother--Sam cannot refuse. Sam hopes this case will prove to everyone on Seal Island, especially clairvoyant artist Glenna McClure, that he has changed. But what Sam doesn't realize is that the closer he gets to the truth, the more danger Glenna is in.
Glenna will do anything to stop Sam from finding this woman, even if it means teaming up with a powerful sorceress she knows she cannot trust. But when the petals of a mysterious night-blooming rose begin to turn black, Glenna realizes an even darker force is at work. To protect the island and the people she loves, Glenna will have to face a terrible curse that has haunted her all her life before the final petal fades to ash.

To celebrate The Selkie Sorceress being almost here, Sophie is offering a HUGE giveaway this weekend! In addition to reducing the prices of The Selkie Spell (FREE) and The Selkie Enchantress (99cents) from March 15-19th, she is giving away a $50 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner!

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Book Blast: Unbroken by Melody Grace

Sneak Peek...
“So, you own the bar now?” I say, “That’s great. Why didn’t you say?”

Emerson gives me a measured look. “You didn’t ask.”

I stop. How is this my fault? “Yeah, well I didn’t exactly have time, what with you pummeling a guy, pretending like you were going to make out with me, then judging every one of my life choices.”

My reply whips out before I can stop it. I clamp my hand over my mouth, and stare at the shocked expression on Emerson’s face. He so wasn’t expecting that! But why the hell shouldn’t I say it? It’s the truth, after all. I let out a giggle, unable to stop myself.

His expression changes.

“You’re drunk.” He says shortly.

I shrug, defensive. “So what if I am?”

“You never could hold your liquor.” He shakes his head, and takes another gulp of his beer. “I wonder, what else has changed…?” Emerson’s mouth curves into a lascivious smile. “You still make that breathy noise when you come?”

I gasp, shocked. “Fuck you!”

“Already been there, darlin’.”

About Melody Grace
Melody is a small-town girl turned SoCal beach-lover. After spending her life with her nose in a book, she decided it was time to try writing one for herself. She loves bad boys, steamy romances, and (of course) happily-ever-afters.

Find Melody Grace
Twitter: @melody_grace_

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You Have Pacing Issues, My Friend.

Rebecca Ethington is taking over Finding Bliss today as part of her Kiss of Fire Blog Tour.

I asked her to write about her tips for pacing a novel. And, man she delivered!

So, you've got a wonderful idea for a great story and you are going to write it down. So you sit down, you write and before you know it you are done. Book over, the end. But, what happened? And how and when and why and with who. Did your readers get to know your characters; did they love them, could they keep track of where they were and who was talking? 

Did your story have good build up and keep your readers engaged? 

No? Maybe? You’re not sure?

You have pacing issues, my friend.

Pacing ultimately begins with the plot of your story. Plot is more than story; it’s the meat, the actual step by step road map of your story. Plot is the in-depth, the long term and the hidden bits of story that make up your amazing novel. Does your plot have lots of conflict, and good development? Without both your pacing is going to suffer. A lot of action goes by too quick, too much inner monologue and not much conflict tends to be slower. So where do you want to be? Somewhere in the middle. You want to manage your readers with your pacing. Give them a break with slower bits, and hold them on the edge of their seats with the rest. 

But finding the sweet spot right in the middle can be tricky.

In case you don’t know my literary background begins in dark theatres and padlocked notebooks hidden under my bed. The first thing I openly sent out into the world was a co-written script about a bunch of kids who get trapped in a cave only to be systematically murdered. Which means that theatre scripts are where I get most of my pacing experience from, so most of my personal tips are going to bleed over from that. 

Some of my personal little tricks (Bring on the theatre baby!)
  • Mood – You are sitting in a darkened theatre and the lights begin to dim, the music melds into the low whisper of wind, and a lone woman steps onto the stage. In the theatre mood is set with lighting, music, and ultimately with dialog. The same can be done in writing; lots of emotional descriptions and a detailed set of the scene automatically sets a mellow mood and in turn slows the pace. The same is true for faster paced scenes, brighter lights, powerful music, quick paced dialog creates an intense mood the drags your reader or audience forward. The mood of your writing dictates your pacing. By making the mood clear for each scene as well for your entire novel from the beginning you are able to set a strong expectation of pacing, and prepare you reader for what is to come.
  • Cliff hangers – I LOVE cliff hangers, I also HATE cliffhangers. I write a lot of them, but I think every good story teller does, they are crucial for keeping your reader engaged and building a solid plot. Cliffhangers are one of the best ways to speed up pacing, they draw the reader forward from one chapter to another, from one paragraph forward. Fights, trauma, new information; they all lead to different levels of tension and pacing. In theatre the most common cliffhanger is the one placed right before intermission – the climax.  
  • Jump cuts – A quick scene change from one place to another is another way to help improve pacing. This is a common technique on stage, and easy to follow as actors appear on different sides of the stage, or on different set levels. In written literature it is also a very effective technique – as long as you readers can follow. If it only creates confusion, it will actually have the opposite effect and slow the pacing down. 
  • Rapid Fire! A great example of rapid fire pacing is the final fight in Harry Potter. Chapters upon chapters of fight in the battle of Hogwarts. You are moving from one section of the castle to another, different battles, death, from one character group to another. It draws you in, and keeps you there as the pacing keeps its level high. Those are the books that keep you up late at night.Now, obviously you can’t have a novel that’s quick paced the entire time. The pacing needs to fit the setting of the scene, let the love scenes move slower, the fights move quickly. 

 Thanks so much Laura for having me, and for hosting the tour!

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