Wednesday, April 27, 2016

This week, find me on Operation Awesome...

A farewell post I created for Operation Awesome  is now live. Here is the link.

I'm also battling a cold this week, so once I post here I'm going to bury myself under some covers and continually inundate my body with fluids.

Stay tuned for more author interviews  in May!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

MR. FAHRENHEIT by T. Michael Martin

I last featured T. Michael Martin with the debut of his zombie novel The End Games. His newest book, MR. FAHRENHEIT, takes an interesting look at moments, and how they unfold in unexpected ways. I was fortunate to read a small excerpt of MR. FAHRENHEIT in its beginning stages, and I'm happy to announce that the book debuted yesterday!

Benji’s lived his whole life in the same sleepy midwestern town—the same town his father grew up in, and his grandfather. But he wants nothing more than to put his past in the rearview mirror as soon as he graduates high school. Benji yearns for a Moment—the Moment that will redeem and transform his ordinary life. The Moment that will propel him into a new, star-bright future.

Then one night, the Moment happens: Benji and his tight group of friends—CR, Ellie, and Zeeko—accidentally shoot down a flying saucer in the local quarry. At Benji’s urging, they decide to keep it a secret and solve its mysteries on their own. But as they face threats both earthly and alien, and old tensions among the friends surface, Benji begins to question whether this Moment is the miracle he’s always dreamed of—or a curse that could destroy them all.

In your interview with Booklist, you mentioned that WarGames was one of your favorite films. I loved your depiction of Matthew Broderick's character as a "light man," and its relation to your own protagonist, Benji Lightman. Did Benji come to you fully formed, or did he develop as you wrote him?

The most important part of Benji -- his emotional motivation -- was definitely there from the beginning. I knew I wanted to tell a story about a teenager on the verge of adulthood who desperately wants something wondrous to happen to his dull life. It took a long time, though, for the quirks of Benji's personality to emerge. Indeed, even though I knew he wanted to keep the fallen saucer a secret, at first I didn't know how he would do so, and of course all the different scenarios considered would shade his character in different ways.

I have a theory that I'm sure other writers subscribe to as well: Your protagonist should be, in some ways, the darker mirror image of your antagonist. Remember the scene in The Empire Strikes Back, when Luke goes under that tree on Dagobah, defeats a hallucination of Darth Vader, and then finds his own face hidden behind Vader's mask? That's because, in Empire, Luke (impatient, headstrong) had the potential to become the villainous Vader.

All of this to say, Mr. Fahrenheit's antagonist and protagonist developed together, in a kind of dance: I built up one a bit, realized what that meant to the other, and so on, until I finally felt the characters' three-dimensional shapes in my mind.

And so there is my very long answer to your very short question. :]

Definitely worth it, especially for a Star Wars reference! I first heard about MR. FAHRENHEIT in 2012, when you were still drafting it. How has the plot developed since, and did it expand in ways you didn't expect?

Oh gosh, the plot back in 2012 was SO different! The premise (high schoolers shoot down flying saucer, try to keep it a secret, to deadly consequences) was there, as were a few key scenes; in fact, the scene we workshopped together is in the published version, with much of the 2012 writing intact. But aside from that, I really had little notion of where the plot was headed. From 2012-2015, particularly in 2014, the plot developed through a slow series of revelations on my part, primarily having to do with the motivation and methods of the antagonist of the book. Similarly, as I grew to understand the antagonist, the themes of the book -- particularly having to do with ideas of memory and time -- came together, and definitely did so in ways I didn't expect.

My favorite antagonists are the ones that drive themes in the way you describe, and it makes me excited to read more. In our last interview, your vlog series, How to Adult, was just getting started--since then, the channel has grown to 159,000 followers. What do you find most rewarding about How to Adult, and in what ways do you think it will continue to develop?

By far the most rewarding part of doing How to Adult is knowing that the show genuinely helps people. For instance, we once received an email from a young man who had been trying for months to find work in a women's shelter, which he described as his dream job. His efforts had yet to bear fruit until he watched our "employment series" of videos on resumes and job interviews. He then tweaked his approach according to our advice, and within a couple weeks he had landed exactly the kind of work he wanted. It makes me feel wonderful to know that not only did we improve his life, but he is also now going to go on to improve other people's lives, too.

The future, both short-term and long, of How to Adult should be really interesting, I think. Our growth rate has accelerated this year, which is exciting, and there's a ton of work going on behind the scenes make the show even better. Change can be hard, even good change, but I feel great about what's coming down the pike for How to Adult, and we hope that it will enable us to help as many people as we possibly can.

I have no doubt you will! Thanks again for such wonderfully thought-out answers.
MR. FAHRENHEIT (out now!)  

Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound


Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

POSSESSED BY A DARK WARRIOR by Felicity Heaton + Giveaway!

Possessed by a Dark Warrior by Felicity Heaton

Possessed by a Dark Warrior, the ninth book in New York Times best-seller Felicity Heaton’s hot paranormal romance series, Eternal Mates, is now available in ebook and paperback. To celebrate the release of Bleu and Taryn’s long romance novel, she’s holding a FANTASTIC GIVEAWAY and sharing sneak peeks of the book.

Enter the Possessed by a Dark Warrior international giveaway (ends April 24th) and be in with a shot of winning a $75, $50 or $25 gift certificate by using the Rafflecopter form at the end of this post or at her website, where you can also download a 4 chapter sample of the novel:

Here’s more about Possessed by a Dark Warrior, including an excerpt: 

Possessed by a Dark Warrior
A powerful warrior and commander of the dark elf legions, Bleu is a loyal and devoted male, and one who has never failed in anything—except one thing. Love. When an elusive female dragon shifter surfaces in Hell again, giving him a mission to hurl himself into, he gladly returns to his hunt for her and the deadly blade she stole from his prince seven centuries ago, but as he closes in on his prey, fate reveals she is far more than his enemy?

Having escaped from the black market arena and her life as a slave, Taryn sets her sights back on the task she began seven hundred years ago when her brother stole a precious sword, but in the three centuries she’s been a captive, everything has changed. Corrupted by a craving for power, her brother has become dangerously obsessed with finding the blade and using it to claim the ultimate treasure—the position of King of Hell.

Faced with having to end her beloved twin to stop him from bringing all of Hell to its knees before him, will Taryn be strong enough to use the very blade he seeks against him? And when Bleu finally catches his elusive prey, will he listen to his head as it demands he complete his mission or his heart as it demands he claim his eternal mate?

The valley seemed larger from the floor of it, the mountains taller and more forbidding as they loomed over her. She felt small and vulnerable, her step uneasy as she walked forwards despite the voice in her heart that told her to turn back.
To leave before he realised she was here.
Taryn pulled down a deep breath, wishing it would steady her even though she knew it wouldn’t. The last thirty breaths she had sucked in to calm herself had had no effect, so it was ridiculous to expect the thirty first to succeed where they had failed. There would be no settling of her fears, not until she had faced them.
Her eyes locked on the distant citadel where it rose from the black rock of the mountains at the opposite end of the valley as if they had birthed it, the sheer spires as pointed and cragged as the peaks beyond it, causing it to blend into the range. It sent a chill through her just to look at it, a place fit for a king but also for a killer.
Distant howls of Hell beasts mingled with the thunderous boom of rock splitting open in the valleys beyond the one she traversed, but down in the basin of the Valley of the Dark Edge, it was quiet.
Ominously quiet.
No sign of life stirred in the black land, but the shadows that crawled outwards from the gnarled black trees still made her jittery, causing her to jump at times when a flash of amber light shot up from one of the jagged fault lines she had seen in the other valleys and made them dance across the obsidian earth, reaching towards her like smoky claws.
There was only death in this valley.
It surrounded her, always there wherever her gaze fell.
The evidence that her brother killed anything that roamed into his domain.
Taryn slowed as she passed another set of bones, picked clean and startlingly bright in the dim light that passed for day. This one was the skeleton of a Hell beast, enormous and canine-like, with broken horns that protruded from its broad skull. She had fought enough of its kind to recognise one without its flesh.
She pulled her gaze away from it and continued walking on a direct path to the castle. It was closer now, but she had been walking for hours and had crossed only a tiny fraction of the valley floor.
Another flash of light leaped across the land as lava spewed high in a valley beyond the mountains to her right, and she stopped dead, her heart lodged in her throat and her eyes fixed on the empty pits in the skull just metres ahead of her.
Tears filled her eyes as she walked towards it, shaking her head as her heart ached. Her eyebrows furrowed as she neared it and she reached a hand out. It trembled in the air and her instincts told her to turn away, to not look at the skull of one of her kind, the damning evidence that her brother had truly lost his mind.
He had killed a dragon.
Taryn swallowed hard and laid her shaking hand on the beaked snout. The bone was cool beneath her palm and her senses stretched along it, mapping the shape of the skull, from its enormous teeth to the ridged bone above the eye sockets, to the four horns that flared back from the top of the skull.
Still gold in colour.
She dashed away the tears in her eyes with her free hand as she tried not to picture the dragon as it would have been, a beautiful and majestic gold, its scales shimmering and reflecting what little light pierced the dragon realm.
Tenak had killed it.
He had destroyed its beauty.
Gods, she felt sick.
She covered her mouth and looked beyond the skull, to the shattered bones of its spine and ribs, and the scattered wing bones that lay around it. It had been big. A male. Ancient.
She turned away, screwed her eyes shut and fought for air. Her fingers clasped the leather strap across her chest, the power of the magic humming beneath her fierce grip, drawing her focus to the weapon she carried.
A sword capable of ending her brother with one blow.
She swore to the dragon gods that she would avenge her kin. She would stop her brother.
Taryn marched forwards, pinning her gaze on the citadel again, her steps steadier and stronger than they had been in centuries. She knew her purpose, and she wouldn’t falter. Her brother had gone mad, and she would stop him before he turned that madness on anyone else.
She closed her eyes briefly as she passed the barbed tip of the dragon’s tail and prayed to the gods and her ancestors that she didn’t end up like the poor soul. Her step faltered but she forced herself to keep marching, refused to slow her pace or allow her fear to get the better of her. She had a plan, and she believed in it.
Her brother had lost his mind, and to win his trust, she would act as if she had lost hers.
She lost herself in going over her plan as she walked, her feet growing sore again in her boots as the miles stacked up. The light in the valley began to fade. Night was falling. The dragon realm was so far from the elf kingdom that the light the fae brought into their world from the mortal one was weak when it reached it, barely able to drive the darkness back in the day, and leaving the world pitch black at night.
Her mind filled with images of what that fae kingdom had looked like and her bones warmed with the memory of how the light had felt on her skin. It had been so bright that her eyes had hurt and the land so colourful that it had been like a fantasy. A dream.
Did the mortal world look like the elf kingdom?
Was it lush and green, threaded with blue rivers, spotted with all the colours possible?
Gods, she could imagine that it was, and it made her ache to see it, to fly there as her ancestors had, long ago before they had been banished to Hell.
Her shoulders itched, her wings aching for freedom, the urge to shift rushing through her once more and pushing at her control.
A roar shattered the silence and robbed her of her breath.
Taryn stiffened.
He was coming.
A black shadow loomed above the castle, wrapped around it for a heartbeat before it spread enormous wings and took flight.
Her fingers shook so hard she struggled to tear the leather cuffs off her wrists, her breath trembling across her lips as she tore at the thick material.
“Hurry, hurry, hurry,” she chanted as she ripped at the leather and one finally gave way, falling to the earth at her feet. She began to work on the other, her eyes darting between it and the shadowy dragon racing towards her. She had to get the cuffs off to break the spell. It was her only chance of getting him to recognise her.
Or at least, she hoped he would recognise her.
She ripped the second cuff off just as he landed hard only metres from her, causing the ground to shake and sending a blast of grit at her on a gust of wind that knocked her onto her backside. Pain bolted up her spine from the impact and she ground her teeth.
Out of the gloom, a rich deep violet head emerged, gigantic compared with her in her mortal form.
Bright violet eyes focused on her and the short spines that followed the ridge of bone above them rippled as he snorted, blowing hot air at her and the scent of ash. He growled, a strange disjointed sound that undulated around her, and bared his fangs. They gleamed in the low light, each as long as her arm, as sharp as a blade.
Taryn didn’t dare move.

Possessed by a Dark Warrior is available from Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iBooks stores and other retailers. Also available in paperback.

Find all the links, a fantastic 4 chapter downloadable sample of the book, and also enter the giveaway and be in with a shot of winning a $75, $50 or $25 gift certificate at her website:

Books in the Eternal Mates paranormal romance series:
Author Bio
Felicity Heaton
Felicity Heaton is a New York Times and USA Today international best-selling author writing passionate paranormal romance books. In her books, she creates detailed worlds, twisting plots, mind-blowing action, intense emotion and heart-stopping romances with leading men that vary from dark deadly vampires to sexy shape-shifters and wicked werewolves, to sinful angels and hot demons! If you're a fan of paranormal romance authors Lara Adrian, J R Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter and Christine Feehan then you will enjoy her books too.
If you love your angels a little dark and wicked, the best-selling Her Angel series is for you. If you like strong, powerful, and dark vampires then try the Vampires Realm series or any of her stand-alone vampire romance books. If you’re looking for vampire romances that are sinful, passionate and erotic then try the best-selling Vampire Erotic Theatre series. Or if you prefer huge detailed worlds filled with hot-blooded alpha males in every species, from elves to demons to dragons to shifters and angels, then take a look at the new Eternal Mates series.
If you want to know more about Felicity, or want to get in touch, you can find her at the following places:


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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

MEET ME HERE by Bryan Bliss

Last year, I featured No Parking at the End Times by Bryan Bliss, and I'm happy to announce his new book, MEET ME HERE is getting tons of buzz, including a starred review in Booklist.

In a single night—graduation night—Thomas has to decide: Do what everyone has always expected of him? Or forge an entirely new path? Bryan Bliss’s absorbing examination of one boy struggling with expectations and realities will appeal to readers of Sara Zarr and Chris Crutcher.

Thomas is supposed to leave for the army in the morning. His father was Army. His brother, Jake, is Army—is a hero, even, with the medals to prove it. Everyone expects Thomas to follow in that fine tradition. But Jake came back from overseas a completely different person, and that has shaken Thomas’s certainty about his own future. And so when his long-estranged friend Mallory suggests one last night of adventure, Thomas takes her up on the distraction. Over the course of this single night, Thomas will lose, find, resolve, doubt, drive, explore, and leap off a bridge. He’ll also face the truth of his brother’s post-traumatic stress disorder and of his own courage. In Bryan Bliss’s deft hands, graduation night becomes a night to find yourself, find each other, find a path, and know that you always have a place—and people—to come back to.

Since our last interview, you and your family moved to Minnesota. What advice, if any, do you have on re-filling the creative well during life transitions like this one?

Well, I think part of it is actually letting the well be re-filled. I see so much "advice" out there that seems to be written in stone. Write a 1000 words a day, etc. And while I definitely think that can be good practice in certain situations...I'm not sure it's gospel. I think you need to be able to take a break, to write a few good words instead of a thousand forced words. When we moved to Minneapolis, I was suddenly surrounded by a huge community of kid lit writers. It was amazing and inspiring and I constantly felt like I should be writing something. But I was tired. Moving across the country, starting a new job, figuring out schools for my kids. I didn't have anything to say. So I gave myself permission to not write for the summer. Instead, I focused on revising my next book (MEET ME HERE) and trying to really think deeply about what I wanted book #3 to be whenever I got to the actual writing.

Giving yourself permission...definitely a great way to make your own expectations. MEET ME HERE addresses the challenges and choices that come with negotiating expectations against reality. How did Thomas's story develop as you wrote it, and what do you hope teens will glean from his story?

I think we expect teenagers to know exactly what they want when they're 18 years old. That's insane. I'm pretty sure I didn't know what I wanted out of life until just a few years ago. And if I'm being honest, I still have moments when I think, "Maybe I could be a paramedic..." From a parenting perspective, I think it's the fear that you'll stand by and watch as your children waste their lives, whatever that means. But at the end of the day, I firmly believe there aren't many decisions that are irreversible. I guess that's what I'd want teenagers to glean. You can take chances. You don't have to follow the path everybody follows. Of course, that's easy for me to say. But I think I've lived it, too. Even though it's hard, it's almost always been worth it.

As far as Thomas goes, his story has been pretty solid from the beginning. I think the biggest change would be his relationship with his friend Mallory. As I kept working on the book, I realize that--while important--his friendship with Mallory wasn't his ultimate concern. Instead it was his brother, Jake. Once I figured that out, it was fun to explore the depths of family and brotherhood.

Wonderful advice for teens, and adults alike--and something I wish I'd realized as a teen too. In our last interview, you mentioned that MEET ME HERE was in its editorial stages, and you were working on a third book. Can you tell us more about book three, or is it still under wraps?

Book number three is called We'll Fly Away. It's a book I've been wanting to write for five years, but it never felt like the right time. I just couldn't put any words down on it. But I knew I was going to write it, so it kind of lived in the back of my head like a trapped bird. It's the story of Luke and Toby, best friends. The main narrative of the book is their friendship, broken up by letters from Luke to Toby written from death row. So, you know, really upbeat stuff! Like everything I seem to write, it's really focused on family and friendship and the implications of being poor. More specifically it deals with the question of redemption. How do we forgive somebody who has done something unforgivable? What does it mean for the people who love them? It's a heavy topic and I hope I'm able to do it justice.

I'm sure you will! Thank you so much for such thoughtful answers, and I'm so glad your stories are reaching the readers that need them.

Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound