Wednesday, April 17, 2019

NELIEM by Clare Di Liscia

I first fell in love with the premise and cover of Clare Di Liscia's upcoming book, NELIEM, set to release on May 21, 2019. Judging from the interviews she's done online, she's also a wealth of knowledge about writing. Have a look:

Half the population of the island of Madera are dead, killed by an unforgiving and indiscriminate plague. Oriana dreams of escaping her life of ruthless cruelty from the people who now rule over those who remain. No telling whom the plague will strike next, Oriana means to find freedom for herself and her people. Drawing strength from ancient tales of her enemy, young Oriana transforms herself from victim to warrior with the help of a mysterious and powerful dagger given to her by a kind and dying boy.

Years later, during her enemy’s betrothal ritual, Ezra, a boy she has never before seen, selects her as his mate. With servitude her only option, Oriana accepts the offer. Whisked away to a seemingly perfect world, Oriana discovers sinister secrets at every turn, including the identity of Tristan, a boy with whom she shares an undeniable but impossible connection.

Why would a boy she doesn’t know wish her to be his betrothed? Why does she feel such a strong pull toward a stranger? Someone in Ezra’s family not only knows the answer to both those questions, but also about the dagger Oriana possesses. He will do anything to stop the union. Now, with everything on the line, Oriana turns inward to find the strength she needs to seize the full power of the dagger so that she may protect herself and save her people.

In your interview with Author Turf, you talked about the dangers of works that are "dismissed as derivative." Can you explain what it means to be derivative, and what, if anything, that writers can do about it?

Early on, one thing I kept hearing was that my work was original with a distinct voice. It was what made me stand out. What had editors coming up to me after a reading at the conference. Regardless of the initial pass, my work always earned me a follow-up, 'please send further works when ready.' I encourage my fellow writers, whether it’s your first query, or third agent, to always use your unique experiences and voice to tell your story. Trying to write the next TWILIGHT or HUNGER GAMES is a waste of time. The world doesn’t need another Stephanie Meyer or Suzanne Collins, they need you. Your heart, your fears, likes, pain and joy. Put yourself in the story.

Ask yourself this question: What is the story I’m too scared to write because it’s too personal? The story that’s just for me. The story that changed my life?

That’s the story agents and editors are dying to read.

Excellent advice. NELIEM deals with the deceptive nature of perfection. How did you know this needed to be a part of Oriana's story?  

In Oriana’s world there are two classes: The people who rule, who seem perfect, and those who are ruled, scattered people who have persevered, only to live in destitute. Oriana falls into the later category. Her people's lives are controlled, their futures pre-selected. While she’s forging for her food, her rulers are wasteful, taking for granted their elevated position. Because of this, she views everything as the glass empty, envying and hateful towards her oppressors.

But as the story unravels, her vision starts clearing. She begins to understand the truth behind the fake smiles and pretty dresses. How many of them are merely broken pawns. And their beauty but a mask. And that she has more in common with people she regarded as enemies, who also have suffered unspeakable horrors. With her newfound empathy, she’s able to do what she previously thought impossible: rise above her circumstances to become the person she was always meant to be.

Such a great story. And I love NELIEM's cover! What do you think are the necessary elements of a good book cover?

A great cover captures the essence of the book, drawing you in. It’s as if you’re compelled to pick up the book and read the first page. Luckily for me, my publisher Georgia McBride, knew exactly who could combine the elements of fantasy, girl-empowerment, and intrigue to draw in my readers.

Wonderful. What are some of your current projects? 

Currently, I’m finishing the 4th draft of an older contemporary YA romance. It deals with themes of self-worth and prejudice, telling the story of a girl who’s recently escaped abuse to accidentally find true love. It’s nearly done. I also have a finished MG modern day version of Huck Finn. Both have been workshopped with positive feedback, so hopefully soon they'll find the right editors.


Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound

This post can also be viewed here

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Happy Release Day to BEYOND THE WILD WOOD, the final book in the OF THE TREES series by E.M. Fitch

Recently, I featured E.M. Fitch and her fascinating shape-shifter series. The final book, BEYOND THE WILD WOOD, is out now!

The faery queen has forbidden Aidan from stalking his prey, but Cassie should have known that nothing would keep him from what he wants: to steal her away forever into the realm of the Fae.

Cassie struggles to pick up what’s left of her life, keeping true to her promise to watch over her best friend’s son. But despite the faery queen’s promise of safety, the shadow of Aidan is ever present in her mind, haunting her dreams and turning forest shadows into nightmares. The rest of her friends are getting ready for college, but not her. The Fae haven’t left yet. Cassie knows because Laney lingers still, drawn to the son she gave up, the foliage at his window sill bright green and flourishing at her touch.

Laney’s son is safe in the arms of his adoptive parents, and the babe has Cassie to watch over him from afar. That should have been enough for the new faery, but it wasn’t. She couldn’t let her son go. Laney watches him from afar, motionless, ageless, addicted to his tiny movements and contented sighs. The thought of leaving him is unbearable, even if she knows leaving is the only way to keep her best friend safe from Aidan’s grasp.

When the faery queen’s threat of departure becomes all too real, Aidan takes matters into his own hands, throwing the Fae into a battle that risks their very existence. His action impels Laney to choose which side she really belongs on—human or faery—and forces Cassie to decide just who she can trust, at last, with the truth.


Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound



Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Dragonrider Legacy series and the Dragonrider Chronicles series by Nicole Conway

I am a sucker for dragons. In anything. So, suffice to say, when I found out about Nicole Conway's The Dragonrider Chronicles series (by way of The Dragonrider Legacy series), I was done for.

The Dragonrider Chronicles:

Jaevid Broadfeather has grown up as a wartime refugee, hiding from the world because of his mixed racial heritage. He feels his future is hopeless, until a chance encounter with a wild dragon lands him in Blybrig Academy—a place usually forbidden to anyone but the rich and royal. But Jaevid’s case is special; no dragon has voluntarily chosen a rider in decades, so the proud riders of Blybrig must begrudgingly let him join their brotherhood despite his bloodline. Lieutenant Sile Derrick, a sternly tempered man with a mysterious past, becomes his instructor and immediately takes a peculiar interest in Jaevid’s future.

While struggling through the rigorous physical demands of training, things begin to go awry. Jaevid witnesses the king’s private guards kidnapping Sile in the dead of night. When none of the elder riders are willing to help him, Jaevid begins a dangerous adventure to save his instructor.


Jaevid wants to pass his Avian year of training . . . but will he even survive it?

What kind of power is lurking inside him? After a year of training to become a dragonrider, Jaevid Broadfeather has been sent home to rest during a three-month interlude. But when he returns to find the king drake has chosen Beckah Derrick as his new rider, Jaevid realizes something big is about to happen. Every fiber of his being is pushed to the breaking point as Jaevid battles through his avian year, preparing for the final graduation test of the battle scenario. But there is more standing in his way than a few pushups and fancy sword moves. Jaevid must face a new fear as he is tormented by a gruesome nightmare of a mysterious gray elf warrior murdering the royal family of Maldobar. It seems obvious to him that this is some kind of message about how the war started long ago—until Felix assures him the king is very much alive. With his strange powers growing stronger by the day, and that violent dream replaying in his mind every night, Jaevid no longer wonders if he will pass his avian year or not—he wonders if he will even survive it.

The truth will soon be set loose.


Can anyone survive being lost in Luntharda?

No amount of training has prepared Jaevid Broadfeather for the frontlines of battle. Now facing the true horrors of war, with Luntharda looming on the horizon, Jaevid has begun to question everything he thought about his heritage. The only thing keeping him going is his oath to protect his dragonrider brothers. But in an instant, even that slips through Jaevid’s fingers as he steps from the safety of his dragon’s saddle into the depths of his mother’s wild homeland—the kingdom of the gray elves.

Stranded in Luntharda with his partner, Lieutenant Jace Rordin, Jaevid must finally confront the demons of his own past as he uncovers the truth about a war that began before he was ever born. Armed with a new appreciation for destiny, and flanked by his trusted friends, Jaevid moves to make the final strike against an enemy that has hidden in plain sight for far too long.

One kingdom’s traitor will become the world’s last hope.


Destiny has called.

With Jaevid Broadfeather forever lost to the depths of Luntharda, Felix Farrow struggles to stand on his own. He begins a violent downward spiral which causes him to abandon his post as a dragonrider, hiding in the halls of his family estate. His one hope for redemption lies within the heart of someone from his past—and the very last person he ever wanted to see again.

And now the time has finally come.

Hovrid, who has ruled Maldobar as a tyrannical imposter, is preparing to make a decisive assault against Luntharda that will destroy what remains of the elven race. Only Jaevid, Felix, and their trusted friends are able to stand in his way. They have only one chance to end the war, and only one hope to absolve the curse that threatens to destroy their world. The stage is set. The plan is in motion.

What began as one boy’s adventure will now end in blood.



The Dragonrider Legacy:

Never send a hero to do a monster’s job.

Forty years have passed since Jaevid Broadfeather brought peace to Maldobar and Luntharda. But that fragile truce will be tested as darkness gathers on the horizon. The vicious armies of the Tibran Empire have crossed the far seas and are threatening to destroy Maldobar completely. Not even the dragonriders can match the Tibran war machines. And after an attempt to awaken Jaevid from his divine sleep fails, the fate of Maldobar is looking grim.

Reigh has never known what it means to be a normal human. Raised amongst the gray elves in the wild jungle of Luntharda, he’s tried everything to fit in. But the dark power within him is bursting at the seams—refusing to be silenced. And while his adoptive father, Kiran, insists this power must be kept secret, Reigh knows he’s running out of time.

As Maldobar burns, the world is desperate for a new hero. Destiny has called, and one boy will rise to answer.



Victory is written in the blood of the brave.

As the armies of the Tibran Empire continue to march across Maldobar, a path of scorched destruction and despair is left in their wake. Even with the formidable princess, Jenna Farrow, leading the charge, the strength of the dragonriders is waning. Tibran victory appears inevitable — especially after Princess Jenna and Prince Aubren are taken hostage by the infamous Lord Argonox. Separated from her brother and tortured for information, Princess Jenna refuses to bend to the iron will of Argonox. But her strength and resolve may only last so long.Held prisoner in his dark tower, it would take a miracle to set her free — or perhaps a pair of demigods and their dragons.

With revived dragonrider legend, Jaevid Broadfeather, at his side, Reigh must now make a choice: face the truth about the origin of his dark powers,or turn his back on world in need. But throwing off a lifetime of shame and self-doubt is not so easily done — especially when the cost of failure means the destruction of the world. The long-awaited hero has awakened. The ancient spirits are stirring. The dark goddess has chosen her champion. But is he ready to embrace that rite and become the Harbinger Maldobar needs him to be?



In a war of gods and tyrants, the will of the dragonrider must never falter.

Captured and tortured by the brutal tyrant, Argonox, Reigh’s worst fears have now been realized. Argonox has successfully twisted his mysterious dark power for a truly evil purpose—reanimating the long-deceased legendary dragonrider, Beckah Derrick, and her monstrous king drake. But Argonox’s cruelty won’t end there, and Reigh fears the worst is yet to come. Rescue is unlikely as the Tibrans prepare to make their final strike, poised to break Maldobar’s ranks of proud dragonriders once and for all.

With many of its cities already captured by the Tibran Empire, all hope now rests with Jaevid, Princess Jenna, Phillip, and their mismatched band of dragonrider allies to lead the last stand and save their kingdom. Even in such frightful times, Jaevid may find he still has a few old friends ready to take up their weapons and stand at his side again. But facing down Beckah is perhaps the one thing that might break Jaevid’s resolve. Can he really strike down the woman he used to love in order to save the kingdom?

One final battle will decide the fate of our heroes. Can the strength dragonrider prevail once again? Or will the Tibran Empire become Maldobar’s new legacy?

According to your website bio, you are represented by Frances Black of Literary Counsel. How did you know that Fran was the right agent for you?

Fran and I wound up together sort of by accident. I was working with another agent within the agency previously, but that agent quit very suddenly and intended to drop her entire client list. Fran approached me and wanted me to continue to work with her instead, and I agreed. Turns out, we get along and work together much better than I ever did with my previous agent! We are kindred souls in that we are both enthusiastic, driven, and a little bit stubborn. I truly appreciate Fran’s honesty. She will tell me when I can do better with a story, and pushes me to be a better writer. In my opinion, that’s what makes a good agent great — not just wanting to snag new contracts but also working to shape their client into a better author with each new story.

Well said! LEGEND, the third book in The Dragonrider Legacy series, is set to release on May 7, 2019. How did you know that there was more of this world to expand on after The Dragonrider Chronicles finished?

In my head, Jaevid’s story had always continued past Chronicles. I just wasn’t sure I’d ever get to tell it. But thanks to the continued support from Georgia McBride and the lovely folks at Month9Books, I have gotten the opportunity to finish out his tale through the Dragonrider Legacy and now through Dragonrider Trials and give him the ending he deserves. It’s been a blast from beginning to end, and it will be super hard to say goodbye.

I bet it will! I love how you offer additional activities and materials for students on your website. How did this idea originate? 

I come from a background of educators and homeschooling, and I also get to meet a lot of parents, teachers, and librarians during signings and tours. They are always hungry for a way to make reading fun and also educational. I agree with them wholeheartedly and love to support the public, private, and homeschooling communities any way I can. Providing discussion questions, puzzles, and activities a way to get students and young readers thinking about the story in new ways.

It's helpful for us part-time tutors too! What are some of your current projects?

Oh dear. So I am notorious for having a million irons in the fire when it comes to writing. Currently, I’m finishing up the second in my Spirits of Chaos series, have just handed in the second in my Mad Magic series, am doing edits on the first Dragonrider Trials book, drafting a new fantasy series, and writing a fun teen scifi adventure! One of these days, maybe I’ll learn to scale it back a little haha!

The Dragonrider Chronicles


Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound




Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound




Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound




Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound




The Dragonrider Legacy


Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound




Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound




Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound

This post can also be viewed here.







Wednesday, April 3, 2019

BEYOND THE WILD WOOD, the final book in the OF THE TREES series by E.M. Fitch

When I saw the cover for BEYOND THE WILD WOOD by E.M. Fitch, set to release on April 16, 2019, I knew I had to feature it. I even found out that it's the final book in an amazing series which offers an interesting twist on shape-shifters:

Cassie and Laney fancy themselves amateur ghost hunters. When a carnival comes to town, Cassie embraces the chance to try something new.

Carnival workers watch the girls with a collective gaze that ignites in Laney a dark and dangerous fascination, leaving Cassie unnerved.

It's not just their age or the unsettling way they stare. There is something in the shifting of their skin and the way their features seem to change in the shadows.

Cassie can't shake this sickening feeling that there's more to the carnival than meets the eye.

When townspeople suddenly start dying and bloody warnings appear around town, Cassie is lured into a nightmare where trees whisper and strange, shape-shifting men haunt the backwoods she once hunted for ghosts with her best friend.

Then Laney goes missing, and only Cassie can get her back. But the creatures of the trees aren't simply going to hand Laney over to Cassie without getting something in return.

It’s only a matter of time before he gets what he’s come for.


Cassie Harris has turned her back on best friend Laney Blake. She had no other choice. Laney is one of them now, a creature of the trees. As Cassie’s senior year wears on, the woods grow quiet, snow blankets the ground, and the murderous beings who once taunted her have drifted away like the brittle leaves of Fall. Though the woods no longer stir with rushed whispers and wind-blown laughter, the fear remains.

No one understands this fear better than Cassie. She wishes she could tell them not to worry. After all, the shape-shifting men of the trees and the women who travel with them, seeking out girls to abduct from carnivals, are gone. And the one that stayed behind? He isn’t interested in anyone but her.

Now, Aidan’s interest in Cassie is a chilling reminder of the what lurks at woods edge. He stalks her home, her school, her bedroom. He won’t stop until he can find a way to lure Cassie into the forest to become one with him forever.



The faery queen has forbidden Aidan from stalking his prey, but Cassie should have known that nothing would keep him from what he wants: to steal her away forever into the realm of the Fae.

Cassie struggles to pick up what’s left of her life, keeping true to her promise to watch over her best friend’s son. But despite the faery queen’s promise of safety, the shadow of Aidan is ever present in her mind, haunting her dreams and turning forest shadows into nightmares. The rest of her friends are getting ready for college, but not her. The Fae haven’t left yet. Cassie knows because Laney lingers still, drawn to the son she gave up, the foliage at his window sill bright green and flourishing at her touch.

Laney’s son is safe in the arms of his adoptive parents, and the babe has Cassie to watch over him from afar. That should have been enough for the new faery, but it wasn’t. She couldn’t let her son go. Laney watches him from afar, motionless, ageless, addicted to his tiny movements and contented sighs. The thought of leaving him is unbearable, even if she knows leaving is the only way to keep her best friend safe from Aidan’s grasp.

When the faery queen’s threat of departure becomes all too real, Aidan takes matters into his own hands, throwing the Fae into a battle that risks their very existence. His action impels Laney to choose which side she really belongs on—human or faery—and forces Cassie to decide just who she can trust, at last, with the truth.

Where did your fascination with zombies begin? 

I can’t remember a time in which I wasn’t fascinated with zombies! What I love most about the zombie genre is how both writers and readers can explore moral and ethical dilemmas in a black and white world. Everyone is pretty much on board that it’s totally fine to kill a zombie! (Me included.) So creating a world in which this is questioned, or a world in which you can use that assumption to explore dark themes is, for me, pure fun.

I can't argue with that! BEYOND THE WILD WOOD is the final installment of the Of The Trees Series. In what ways, if any, did Cassie's journey develop in ways you didn't expect? 

Cassie surprised me toward the end of this series. She became way more badass than I ever thought she would. I began this journey with a terrified teen, and in the end, she became a young adult—full of doubt and fear and uncertainty—but owning her actions and thriving in the face of her fears. I’m so proud of Cassie, and I’m proud of her best friend, Laney, too. Sometimes the journey is about letting go, about knowing when it’s time to move on, and about realizing at the same time that those we love can never truly be lost. These are hard lessons, and both girls came full circle in a way that surprised and delighted me. These characters will forever hold a fond place in my heart.

And it proves that hard lessons can often be the best ones. You've also published short stories. What do you like most about writing shorter fiction, and what do you like least about it? 

Publishing short fiction is hard! I truly believe that the shorter something has to be (like a blurb or a title) the harder it is to write. Short fiction is a wonderful outlet for the strange thoughts that filter through my brain, and they take a lot of dedication to get out and onto that paper. I love writing short fiction. But novel writing is my favorite. I love breathing life into these bizarre worlds I find myself in, and I love having the space of a novel to do so.

Indeed! What are some of your current projects? 

I’m working on several projects, but I’m most excited about my novel tentatively titled The Monsters We Hide. It’s a Dark Fantasy YA novel that explores the topic of suicide, depression, and the feelings of worthlessness that can unfortunately overwhelm a person. Mental Health Awareness is a passion of mine. I feel it’s so important to feel seen, really seen, and complex books and characters can do that for a reader. For me, good books make me feel less alone.


Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound




Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound




Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound

This post can also be viewed here





Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The MRS. SMITH'S SPY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS series by Beth McMullen

I had the pleasure of meeting Beth McMullen at Kepler's Bookstore last fall for their "Mighty Middle Grade" event. I love stories that take place in boarding schools, and the voice in this story is extremely engaging. I was sucked right in!


After a botched escape plan from her boarding school, Abigail is stunned to discover the school is actually a cover for an elite spy ring called The Center, along with being training grounds for future spies. Even more shocking? Abigail’s mother is a top agent for The Center and she has gone MIA, with valuable information that many people would like to have—at any cost. Along with a former nemesis and charming boy from her grade, Abigail goes through a crash course in Spy Training 101, often with hilarious—and sometimes painful—results. But Abigail realizes she might be a better spy-in-training than she thought—and the answers to her mother’s whereabouts are a lot closer than she thinks…




Abby and the rest of her friends go international as they embark on their first “official” Center mission in this second book in the Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls series.

After discovering the truth about her spy school/boarding school—and her super-spy mom—Abby Hunter is ready for her next adventure, but what’s about to happen is something she never would have guessed…

Everyone at The Smith School is obsessed with Monster Mayhem, the latest reality video game craze. But when Drexel Caine, the mastermind behind the game is suddenly kidnapped, it becomes clear that the kidnappers are playing for more than just special badges.

After Drexel’s son—who is Abby’s friend, Toby—receives a cryptic message, Abby and her friends discover the kidnapping is part of a bigger scheme that could take down The Center for good.

With the help of Abby’s frenemy (and reluctant mentor), Veronica Brooks, the group tackles their first official Center Mission. They tangle with the world’s most notorious hacker, get in trouble for the possible theft of the Mona Lisa, and prepare for the ultimate showdown in London. But not before they have to contend with one more hurdle: the agonizing Smith School Spring Formal. Along the way, they discover they are much stronger as a team they can ever be alone.

And with a little luck, they might just save the world.


Coming August 6, 2019!

Abby and her classmates have all been invited to Briar Academy to participate in The Challenge, a prep school competition where teams compete for prizes and the glory of being the best of the best. While there, they figure out their nemesis, The Ghost, is using Briar as headquarters to plan a devastating attack on his enemies (a.k.a.: pretty much everyone) using a brand-new invention Toby developed. And this time, The Center and Mrs. Smith will be of no help as Abby suspects there is someone working for The Ghost on the inside—and they can trust no one.




You have a parakeet named Zeus. (What a great name for a bird!). How did you end up with a parakeet for a pet? 

We had just lost our 20 year old cat and everyone was really missing her. My son had seen the parakeets in PetCo as a little kid and always wanted one. We were pet free so I figured why not? My son’s best friend had Poseidon so naturally…Zeus. Zeus is the loudest 2 ounce creature on the planet. He hates action movies so much we have to cover his cage in order to hear. About six months after we got Zeus, we somehow ended up with 2 kittens. Cats and birds living together. Yes, it’s exactly as it sounds.

Ha! Somehow I'm reminded of that Bill Murray line from Ghostbusters. In MRS. SMITH'S SPY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS, Abigail is faced with some difficult choices. Did her story come to you right away, or did it gradually shape itself? 

I went to boarding school as a kid and I always loved the idea of using that setting in a book but I couldn’t figure out how. I tried with an adult thriller but it was awful and I ditched it. Later, I made another pass with something more YA but that too was missing something. It wasn’t until I brought the age of the main character way down to twelve, which was completely new terrain for me, that the story started to work. I wrote a draft of that and let it sit for more than a year because I wasn’t sure what I was doing writing middle grade fiction. When I eventually came back to it, I was surprised that it wasn’t terrible. A few drafts later and I managed to sell it as a series.

That makes sense. I've also heard that it's tough to get an authentic voice in Middle Grade. In what ways did Abigail's voice feel right to you?  

I like to describe Abby as the kid I wish I had been. She is bold, fearless, a little reckless, loyal and smart. She will run straight at trouble and figure how how to manage it when she gets there. I think the key to writing authentic middle grade characters is not to dumb them down or try to force them to sound young. Abby and her friends sound not unlike adults but the subject matter and the situations are different. It’s also important to find a way to listen to actual kids. When my teenaged kids have friends over, I blatantly eavesdrop, just to pick up the cadence of their speech and what topics have got their attention!

Sounds like a great method, as long as your kids don't mind! What are some of your current projects?  

Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls wraps up this summer, when DOUBLE CROSS comes out on August 6th. I’m also working on How to Find Lost Things, a new Middle Grade series from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin, coming summer 2020. In it, twelve year old Lola Benko is desperate to find her missing father, a famous archaeologist who was last seen in hot pursuit of the magical Stone of Istenanya, which is not supposed to exist. But Lola quickly discovers finding a missing person is no easy thing. She will have to go to extraordinary lengths if she ever wants to see her father again and accept things she never thought possible. Like Mrs. Smith’s, this series has action, adventure, friendship and humor.


Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound




Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound




Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound

This post can also be viewed here

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Release Feature: IRON CIRCLE by Justin Joschko

Happy release day to IRON CIRCLE, by Justin Joschko. The book was also featured here.


The path west is long, but despite Selena’s progress, New Canaan is never far enough behind her. It was there that her parents were killed, forcing her and her little brother Simon to flee the tyrannical state. Now, New Canaan wants control over every last inch of America-That-Was. Only the Republic of California can stand against it—but not without the data stick in Selena’s pocket, rumored to contain vital information about New Canaan’s deadly new weapon.

As winter closes in, Selena races south in search of an open passage to the coast. She must pass through Nuevo Juarez, where a ruthless leader named Thorin has seized power. Selena runs afoul of Thorin’s men and is separated from her brother, captured, and auctioned off at the city’s thriving slave market.

Her only way out is through the Iron Circle, a fighting ring where the city’s most fearsome warriors pit their skills against one another. As the populace and Thorin watch Selena rise through the ranks, Selena earns a reputation she doesn’t want and the attention of man with the power to destroy her and what’s left of America-That-Was.


Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

IMMERSE, the final book in the Mer Chronicles series, by Tobie Easton

I was delighted to feature the first and second books of the Mer Chronicles series, EMERGE and SUBMERGE here. The third installment, IMMERSE, debuted yesterday. Check out the cover:

Lia can’t wait for her parents’ coronation. Now living in the sparkling palace beneath the waves, she sneaks off to Malibu whenever possible to see Clay. Tucked away in an abandoned seaside mansion, Lia and Clay devise a plan to ensure they can stay together forever.

But when an old enemy resurfaces and Lia is restricted to the palace for the safety of all Merkind, she and Clay are ripped apart once more.

She fears not only for Clay, but for her best friend Caspian, who seems to be swimming down a dangerous path. He has invited the conniving Melusine to the coronation ball, convinced she’s capable of change. And no matter how hard Lia fights it, showing up on Caspian’s arm is just the start of Melusine’s insidious return to her life.

With threats Below growing more ominous by the day and a powerful ancient ritual looming, soon the two girls can’t escape each other. As their fates grow increasingly intertwined, Melusine might be the only one who can help Lia find the answers she desperately needs to save everyone she loves and to achieve her happily ever after. But can Lia trust her?


Now that Lia and Clay’s love has broken the Little Mermaid’s curse, everything has changed. Will Lia’s family remain on land, leading the only life she and her sisters have ever known, or will they move below the waves, to the sparkling new capital city? Lia is adamant about staying on land with Clay for her senior year. But at Melusine and her father’s trial, new revelations threaten what Lia holds most dear.

The verdict will shake Lia’s whole world, calling into question her future with Clay, her feelings for Caspian, and the fate of all Merkind. As she wonders who to trust, Lia sets out on a treacherous path that will lead her away from her sheltered Malibu home to a remote and mysterious school for Mermaids—Mermaids who may hold the secret to ancient magic Lia can use to either get back all she’s lost or to embark on a thrilling and dangerous journey.





Lia Nautilus may be a Mermaid but she’s never lived in the ocean. Ever since the infamous Little Mermaid unleashed a curse that stripped Mer of their immortality, war has ravaged the Seven Seas. Now Lia lives in a secret community of land-dwelling Mer hidden among Malibu’s seaside mansions and attends high school with humans. To protect everyone around her, she must limit her contact with non-Mer. No exceptions. But when the new girl sets her sights on Lia's crush, she will risk exposing her deadly secret to stop Clay from falling in love with the wrong girl.



Recently, you posted on Instagram about a recent writing retreat you went to. What do you love most about writing retreats, and in what ways, if any, do they help your writing process? 

 I’ve gone on two writing retreats this year, and I’ve really loved both of them.  Any change of environment can really help spark new ideas for me, but when you pair that with being in the company of other writers, the experience becomes even more valuable.  Writing is usually so solitary, but on a writing retreat, you’re surrounded by people who understand the process and who are all choosing to take time away from their day-to-day lives with the specific goal in mind of fostering creativity.  That creates a really amazing dynamic!  We all worked during the days (it’s really motivating to be in a room with everyone working away on books all around you!), then spent the evenings eating dinner together and socializing.  My favorite night was when we all bundled up (it was winter) and made a fire outside.  We sat around it eating s’mores and each reading a chapter from our current work in progress, then discussing it.  It was so immensely helpful and fun—and so different from sitting at home by myself on any given day, wondering how people will respond to what I’m writing.  I feel really lucky to have shared that experience with other writers.


What a great experience! And it's true; being around other writers is one of the best forms of inspiration. In our last interview, when talking about IMMERSE, you said, "The series was always meant to be a trilogy; it’s exciting to finally get to write storylines I’ve been planning for these characters for several years." Now that IMMERSE is out, what will you miss most about writing this series? 

Spending time with the characters!  I already do.  It’s strange, but I miss them as if they were real people who I’d spent nearly every day with for years and now don’t get to see anymore.  When I first started my new book with a whole new cast of characters, every time I’d get in the mindset to start writing, I’d start picking up conversations from my Mer Chronicles characters instead—almost like I was tuned into the wrong radio frequency.  Slowly but surely, I’ve transitioned to hearing my new characters, but I definitely miss Lia, Clay, Melusine, and Caspian.  Sometimes, I still find myself writing scenes for them in my head as I’m falling asleep at night.  I’m so excited for readers to see where these characters’ stories go in Immerse—I hope they stay with you after you’re done reading, too!


I'm sure they will! What do you think are the necessary elements of a good story?

There are so many!  As a writer, details are really important to me.  My favorite fictional worlds are the ones in which every detail is thought through, and some that seem insignificant end up mattering in unexpected ways.  Vivid worldbuilding goes hand-in-hand with that because it’s the details that make a world feel real.  I also find character arcs essential (and fascinating) because a story only matters if living through it has had an impact on the characters we care about.


Well said. If you could tell your younger writer self one thing, what would it be and why?

That’s a cool question!  I’d say, “Go for it!”  Writing and the road to publication can be full of self-doubt, but if you don’t go for it, you’ll never get to experience anything that comes next.  You know, I should still tell myself this every day.



Buy: BookPassage ~ Amazon.com Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound





Buy: BookPassage ~ Amazon.com Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound





Buy: BookPassage ~ Amazon.com Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

This post can also be viewed here