Saturday, March 28, 2015

Cover Reveal: The Black Oracle: by Michael Cristiano


Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Release Date: May 25, 2015

Cover Art: Alexandria N. Thompson

On a post-apocalyptic Earth, humans are not alone.

Joachim is a hunter. Though generations have passed since the Great Death, something has evolved in the trees beyond the giant glowing mushrooms, mutants that want to see human entrails spread along the jungle floor.

And now they've taken Joachim’s wife.

To get her back, Joachim will have to give the leader of these demons something in return: immortality. A creature knows when he is going to die, after all. Plunged into a world of magic and darkness, Joachim must find the only woman in who knows where the ingredients are. She is a prophetess known as the Black Oracle living in the realm of Zalm, but she’s a little preoccupied at the moment. She leads a rebellion against the ruthless High Council, and when Joachim seeks her out, he too finds himself consumed by her struggle.

In a story of betrayal, prophecy, and bloodshed, Joachim has ten days to retrieve the ingredients and return to Earth all while evading the High Council’s army, one that wants the Black Oracle and her associates killed — Joachim included.
Add it to your to-read list on Goodreads!

Michael Cristiano is a Canadian writer. His relentless obsession with fiction began long before he could even spell the words 'relentless obsession'. Growing up in endless suburban sprawl, he spent most of his childhood getting lost in fantastical masterpieces and attempting to be published by the age of thirteen.

When he isn’t writing or reading, he can be found planning his next backpacking trip around the world. He is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto with studies in Foreign Language and Linguistics. Previously, he attended a Regional Arts high school where he majored in drama. He is fond of all things dramatic.

Michael currently resides in the Greater Toronto Area and he is using his years as a twenty-something to establish what he hopes will be a long career in writing. The Black Oracle, his debut novel, is due for publication on May 11, 2015.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Guest Post: Lia Mack, Author of Waiting for Paint to Dry

It's my pleasure to introduce you to Lia Mack. We're publishing twins: both of us have novels coming out in April! I met Lia through the Women's Fiction Writers Association and she's written a great book that you should check out!  So, dear reader, here's Lia Mack. -SB

To write a novel based on true life events, or not… That is a good question… guest post by Lia Mack, author of Waiting for Paint to Dry

While in the shower this morning, I had a thought. Years ago I wrote a snippy little blog post about whether or not one should write a novel based on true life events. In it I asked four of the best questions writers should ask themselves before even thinking about typing that first word....

But there’s an even more important question you should ask yourself. One I never thought to ask myself until today.

Of course by now, with my book only months away from being published, this question is too late. For me, that is.

But it’s not too late for you.

While you ask yourself those 4 solid Q’s I postulated long ago (you can find them here), you should also remember to pointedly ask yourself this:

Do you, dear writer, want to endure, dredge up and relive this event over and over and over again, while you write your book?

Then relive it again and again and again while you edit and re-edit your book?

And then again when you have to go through the edits from your editor/publisher?

And then again while you’re answering questions about your book in interviews?

And again and again and again????

I think you get the logic here.

Is this an event – from your life – that you want to relive over and over and over again?

My book is a Roman e’ clef. That means it’s a fictional novel with real life elements. My life elements. I wrote my novel Waiting for Paint to Dry as a cathartic movement of sorts. The fact that it turned into a novel worth publishing is a testament to years of sweat, tears and – most recently – blood. (Publishing is a laborious journey.) And I’m excited to see it finally come full circle. I’m overjoyed about my first step out into the publishing world. As an author. And at the opportunity for my characters to breathe their first breath…

Only, I wish I had somehow been aware of the effects of reliving something that I healed from over and over again, through the eyes and life of my character. No matter that by the end of the book she’s a healed, lovely woman, ready to take on the world. Going back over the beginning parts where she’s a bruised and battered wreck was painful for me. I’ll admit it. Sometimes I felt as though I was back there, unhealed and all.

But then again, my book is a Roman e’ clef.

Not all of what my character lives through is from that one event. Rather, 90% of my book is fictional and fun. It was an adventure to create characters and lives that will soon live on in my readers imaginations.

And that helped. By having to read through the entire book over and over again, no matter how down I felt from the hard parts, I was lifted up – again and again – as I went through the motions, dreams and passions of my character. It’s a hard ride at first, but it turns out to be one soothing smooth ride in the end.
And its effect reaffirms just why I wrote this book in the first place.

I wrote it a purpose: to help survivors of sexual abuse find life again. Find love again. Find themselves again.

And, after finding my way out of the darkness again and again with all the edits to make it a publishable piece of art, I’ve accomplished just that.

A way up and out, and into life.

Now, that’s an ‘event’ I can live through over and over, again and again.


As a born and raised military brat – Go Air Force! – I was born in Kansas and had the unique experience of growing up in many places such as Michigan, Texas, Colorado, Italy, and Maryland. I currently reside in Baltimore with my husband, two children and three American Rat Terriers. I graduated with a BS in Psychology from UMBC and have a severe passion/craving/need for real food. Good food. Local, organic, know-your-farmer kind of food.

And writing. I love writing.

A ceaseless cheerleader of the underdog, I write fiction that travels the line between everyday life and the extreme challenges we must face. I enjoy diving into the minutia of our human existence and finding those key moments when the turns of life can either make or break us.

That, and I’m a sucker for the ‘happily ever after.’ I’ll admit it. I’m a love junkie.

In addition to my debut novel Waiting for Paint to Dry, my creative non-fiction has been seen in such publications as The Washington Post, Nickelodeon Jr. Magazine, Advances in Bereavement Magazine and Nesting Magazine. I am also honored to be a guest blogger at author/activist Angela Shelton’s Survivor Manual, a blog dedicated to inspiring and empowering sexual abuse survivors.

Contact me anytime!

Monday, March 23, 2015

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Theme Reveal

If you haven't yet heard of the Blogging A to Z Challenge, you're missing out. The idea is that bloggers, all different kinds of bloggers, sign up to write 26 posts in the month of April, one per day (excepting Sundays), one for each letter of the alphabet.

It's not required that you have a theme, but having a theme is fun. Last year, I did evocative words. I know, I'm a word nerd (and I love it!). I read lots of others I really enjoyed, and made some blogging friends that I still visit online today.

I'm extra excited about Blogging A to Z this year because April is book launch month for me! My debut novel, Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel, comes out on April 23. So, this year, all my postings are going to be about my book and my journey writing and publishing it. I hope you'll come by and read about it.
You should also check out the other blogs participating. Bloggers bring creativity and passion to the posts they do during this time and you can find some great new writers to follow. In fact, here's the link to the list of other bloggers announcing their themes today. I hope you find something to spark your interest!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Guest Post: Developing the Winchester Brothers: Nat Hobson

I'm happy to bring you a guest post from Nat Hobson, author of Addy's Choice and the newly released Heart of Fire. During this blitz, Addy's Choice is free at Smashwords, with the code: TM47S. 

Developing the Winchester Brothers

I always knew I wanted to base my story in and around Winchester in the UK. It’s a beautiful place, one I visited often when I lived in the south. I never intended the story to become a series, but my characters influenced the decision, as they so often do.

The story began with Adrienne Baxter, and I had a strong image of her in my head. Sebastian’s appearance was unexpected. I approach a new project in a variety of ways, but it’s safe to say I’m a pantser. The level of planning varies. Sometimes I have an outline, and sometimes I don’t. In the case of Addy’s Choice, I knew Adrienne worked for a radio station, could hear her voice in my head as she presented the early morning breakfast show. But that’s the only planning I did. Initially. I let Addy tell me about her life, and introduce me to the other characters who would later shape her journey.

I was drawn to Sebastian Davies immediately, and spent a little time with him before I continued with the story. He shared his background, his family, and his friendship with Chris Martin. This piqued my interest, so I wrote a little dialogue between the two, allowing them to converse in a natural way and gaining an insight into their relationship. I was amused by their experiences at university, and discovered they earned a nickname from their peers – a name they later used when they opened their first (and subsequent) restaurants. That name, and the name of the series, is The Winchester Brothers.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Guest Post: Z.R. Southcombe

I'm pleased to introduce you to one of my writing friends: Z.R. Southcombe. Please enjoy this guest post from her and check out her newly released children's chapter book! -SB

Work-life balance is a (seemingly unattainable) term that’s tossed around a lot these days. It’s easy to understand why – we all need a roof on top of our heads, and we like to live comfortably so work is important; however, our family & friends are equally important, as is our own well-being.

But what does it mean? Are we trying to spend the same amount of time on each? Is it about leaving work at work and enjoying me-time or social-time in the evenings and during weekends? Is it about having our dream house?

In a chat with another writer friend, I expressed concern that I was becoming a workaholic – she said a better way of describing it is ‘driven and passionate’. I started seeing work-life balance in a whole new light.

For me, balance has become about my priorities and the things I love doing. My priorities are my own well-being, making a contribution and lifting up people around me. I love art-making, story writing, music and the outdoors (hm, maybe I should have been born a bit earlier!).

With this in mind, I choose to spend my time on the things I love doing, the things I don’t love doing, but enable me to do my art & writing (like bookkeeping enables me to publish my work independently) and healthy, restorative activities (like going for a walk, or listening to good music).

I choose to spend time the people I love and the people who get as excited about books and reading and art as I do. I especially love people who are enthusiastic, open to learning and give things a go, because just a little push in the right direction gets them going. It’s bread and butter for my soul to see people shine the way they were made to.

And so, balance might be working stupid hours on writing, marketing and *shudder* accounting, while making time to meet with friends old & new, but it’s all stuff I love, and stuff I believe in.

What does balance mean for you?  

Z.R. Southcombe is a children’s fantasy writer and surrealist painter, but no matter what project she is currently working on, Z. R. is usually accompanied by a cup of tea.

If you found this article interesting, you can read more about writing, marketing and life on her personal blog, Her children’s chapter book The Caretaker of Imagination will launch with fanfare on the 21st of March 2015. You can join the party at

Friday, March 20, 2015

Cover Reveal: A Shade for Every Season: Chad. A. Clark

Cover Art by D.S. George-Jones

I'm happy to announce the release of a new collection of short stories from my friend Chad A. Clark, releasing on March 27, 2015. I was a fan of Chad's first collection (here's a link to my review on Amazon), and I expect to enjoy this one, too!

Photo by Clymer Photography

Explore the confines of your imagination with this new collection from Chad A. Clark. A Shade for Every Season consists of over seventy tales, reaching into the horror and science fiction genres and beyond. The stories may be short, but the impact is not. Take a stroll through the dark and the macabre. Read of revenge, snatched back from beyond the grave, and monsters that will thrill and scare you. Travel into the furthest reaches and isolation of outer space. See what lies down inside the darkness, where sometimes doors are best left unopened. Experience the thrill of the narrative ­- in the time it takes to finish your morning coffee.

Storytelling has always been one of Chad A. Clark’s passions. Every week, he puts pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and spins a new yarn, which is then published on his blog, The Baked Scribe. This book collects the entire first year’s worth of these stories. For more on Chad’s work, go to This is his second book.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Spring Fever
Ah, spring fever. Time to fall in love, and walk hand in hand in the sunshine singing sweet songs. At least, that's how it should be in my mind.
Unfortunately, my spring fever has looked more like hay fever this year. Tree pollen is high in North Carolina, so this girl was low. I spent all of last week wheezing and coughing, exhausted by little things like climbing the stairs of my own home.

But, yesterday, I finally started to feel better. I guess my Claritin ramped up enough, or my body just started to deal with it.

Even through the haze of cold medicine and kleenex, I can't help but feel the poetry inherent in the season, though. Spring is undeniably a time of rebirth and growth, of beauty and wonder. It's something about the light returning and the excitement that elicits in the soul, something that whispers, "Almost."

Here, Emily Dickinson said it better:

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Game of Love cover reveal

Today we’re revealing the cover for Game of Love, a new sports romance from Ara Grigorian! Check out all the fun details about this sexy romance and enter his fantastic giveaway!!   Title: Game of Love Author: Ara Grigorian Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance Release Day: May 4TH GOL Cover About Game of Love: Game of Love is set in the high-stakes world of professional tennis where fortune and fame can be decided by a single point. Gemma Lennon has spent nearly all of her 21 years focused on one thing: Winning a Grand Slam. After a disastrous and very public scandal and subsequent loss at the Australian Open, Gemma is now laser-focused on winning the French Open. Nothing and no one will derail her shot at winning - until a heated chance encounter with brilliant and sexy Andre Reyes threatens to throw her off her game. Breaking her own rules, Gemma begins a whirlwind romance with Andre who shows her that love and a life off the court might be the real prize. With him, she learns to trust and love… at precisely the worst time in her career. The pressure from her home country, fans, and even the Prime Minister to be the first British woman to win in nearly four decades weighs heavily. As Wimbledon begins, fabricated and sensationalized news about them spreads, fueling the paparazzi, and hurting her performance. Now, she must reconsider everything, because in the high-stakes game of love, anyone can be the enemy within… even lovers and even friends. In the Game of Love, winner takes all. Preorder today!!!   Exclusive Excerpt: GOL teaser 2 “We are made strong by the difficulties we face, not by those we evade.” ~Author Unknown Gemma’s security flanked her, their grip tight on her arms. Bedric, her coach, rushed ahead, slamming open the hotel’s glass doors to the roar of the French paparazzi―a cacophony of questions, comments, and insults. Gemma moderated her breathing, prepared for another three-second spurt of chaos. Three... “―What happened in your hotel room?” They knew. Dozens of cameras from all directions chirped and flashed. She kept her eyes trained on her goal: the awaiting car. Two... “―Mademoiselle! Gemma! One smile.” The paparazzi bore in from her right. Only a few more steps. A knee rammed into her thigh. That one would leave a mark. A bruise that the papers would dissect and analyze gratuitously. One... “―Why were you hiding for four months? Were you going to quit tennis?” Don’t react. Say nothing. Bedric forced the car door open, giving Gemma the opening she needed to squeeze in. He followed. Zero. The door slammed behind them, and the sounds of commotion lowered to a gentle hush. Black tinted windows offered a veil of privacy. Bodies, camera lenses, and faces smashed against the glass. Only inches separated her from the paparazzi. There had been a time when she used to move to the center of the car, creating as much separation as possible. But now she knew better. Distance was a mere illusion of safety. The locks engaged, and the car accelerated away. She didn’t like surprises―particularly on game day―but in this case, her security lead’s demand to move her to another hotel had been spot- on. It was one thing for the paparazzi to gather outside. It was quite another when one found his way into her hotel suite... while she slept. The French paparazzi were setting a new standard. “This is not good,” Bedric said in stoic English. She eyed her superstitious coach, who was always concerned with deviations from routine. But the concern etched on his face wasn’t about superstition. He didn’t want a repeat performance of the Australian Open months earlier. “You have not rested,” he continued, “and you have yet to get breakfast.” “We’ll be fine. We are fine,” she said, nearly believing it herself. “As for breakfast, we’ll grab something at the new hotel.” The car swerved as the driver made a temporary effort to lose their tail. Memories of another car chase months earlier inched its way into her throat. “There will be people. You don’t need more distractions.” “More distractions?” She had woken to the sound of an intruder in her suite, and now she was rushing from one hotel to another on the morning of her quarterfinal match. How much worse could it get? “We’ll be discreet. Run in, eat, and we’ll be off.” The car’s tires screeched as the driver took another quick turn. It was happening again. Another chase just before a critical match. Only this time, the driver wasn’t drunk. From her bag, Gemma removed a tennis ball and twirled it in her hand. One point at a time. She focused on the soft texture. Familiar. Calming. Poking out from inside her bag, the newspaper article from the day before mocked her. Inch-tall letters above her picture: The Great HypeFive Years and Still Waiting. She squeezed the tennis ball over and over again until her fingers went numb. She dropped the ball back inside the bag, then closed her eyes, hoping to salvage some sleep. She crossed her arms and tried to control her shivering. No, she wasn’t cold. She just wanted five minutes alone with the bastard who had violated her space. Gemma almost wished the coward hadn’t bolted when she charged him, tennis racquet in hand.     About Ara Grigorian: 34019c_ecb294aa4a244d158202952d64580733.jpg_srz_p_165_150_75_22_0.50_1.20_0Armenian by heritage, born in Iran, lived in Barcelona, and escaped New York until he found his home in Los Angeles, Ara’s first eleven years were both busy and confusing. The fruit salad of languages would slow down his genetically encoded need to tell stories. Until then, an alter ego would be required… He received an engineering degree from California State University Northridge and earned his MBA from the University of Southern California. Today, he is a technology executive in the entertainment industry. True to the Hollywood life, Ara wrote for a children’s television pilot that could have made him rich (but didn’t) and nearly sold a video game to a major publisher (who closed shop days later). But something was amiss until his wife read him the riot act. “Will you stop talking about wanting to be a writer and just do it?” So with her support (and mandate), and their two boys serving as his muse, he wrote stories. Fascinated by the human species, Ara writes about choices, relationships, and second chances. Always a sucker for a hopeful ending, he writes contemporary romance stories. He is an alumnus of both the Santa Barbara Writers Conference and Southern California Writers’ Conference (where he also serves as a workshop leader). Ara is an active member of the Romance Writers of America and its Los Angeles chapter. Ara is represented by Stacey Donaghy. Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads   Enter Ara’s Giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My Daughter Will be Driving

My eldest daughter turned fifteen on me a few months ago. That means we're in the downhill slide into getting a license. It's no longer this "when she grows up" thing. In fact, she goes to the driver's ed part of things here in just a couple of weeks.
That's not her in the picture, but that's very much how it looks in my head when I imagine it. In reality, she's 5'9", that kind of fifteen-year-old who looks seventeen--so grown up and gorgeous that it's amazing to think that such a creature sprung from my loins. But, she is and always will be my little girl, too.

Like every parent who ever arrived at this moment (I suspect), I am both excited and terrified by the prospect of my girl behind the wheel. It's another one of those big moments, like when she learned to walk, or lost a baby tooth, or took off her training wheels, or performed her first solo, or got her braces off, or fell in love. In every one of these moments, I've reacted the same way. Part of me has wanted to cry and cling to the younger version of her and rail against the heavens for letting her grow up too fast. Part of me is proud of her, and anxious to see what this next phase of life brings us.

I know I'm lucky in that my daughter is an intelligent and capable young woman, with common sense and a good sense of self-preservation. I teach middle school, so I know a lot of teenagers. Some of them are complete flibberty-gibbets and I worry about them riding bicycles, let alone operating vehicles with engines. My girl is not one of those. She'll handle it well.

The question is, will I?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

IWSG: The Anxiety of Finishing Things

On the desktop of my computer is this picture of Neil Gaiman:

It's there because, well, Neil Gaiman. And because of that second bit. Finish Things. He's right about that, I know, but that doesn't mean it's easy to do.

Finishing things, really truly finishing them--not just abandoning them and hoping no one notices that you didn't really hone it into something beautiful as you should have--is difficult. It takes time and hard work. Deep brain and soul work.

It's not fun in the same way as starting things. After a while, you might not like what you're working on and wish you could just be done already. Even a potential masterpiece can lose its sheen for its creator when you've been staring down the barrel of it too long. But if you give up too soon, it's a near-miss. It's not what it should have been.

It's also sometimes difficult to know when you have, indeed, finished something. There is a time when your tinkering around and rearranging things is just you fussing about because you don't quite have the guts yet to send it out there into the world to be judged. You're lingering and procrastinating when the work is really already done.

I'm afraid that's where I am right now. I've got a book I first wrote as NaNoWriMo 2013…so that means I've already been working on it over a year. Moreso than other books I've written, I'm worried about getting this one right. So, I keep seeking one more beta reader, one more round of edits, one more…something. Anything that means I don't have to send her out there yet.

I'm fighting that impulse in myself by making a schedule. She's *done* as of the end of March. It will be done. It is known.

It's time to finish this, so I can move on to the other projects waiting in the wings.

How about you? How do you know when you have really finished something?

This posting is part of the Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop. To check out other posts by writers in a variety of places in their careers, check out the participant list. This group is one of the most open and supportive groups of people I have ever been associated with. You should check them out!