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Book Review: Byronic by Sandi B Jones @SandiBJones

(While I did receive this book for free, the review is honest)

You can find Byronic on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles.
ByronicWhen the creatures in her dark drawings come to life, Chelsea finds that the mysterious Geoff is the only person she can confide in. But she can’t help wondering who she’s kissing: her tender confidant or the dangerous Byronic rebel bent on shocking his detached father.

Starting over in the South Carolina Lowcountry is just what sixteen-year-old Chelsea needs. Unfortunately, moving also means living with her mom’s snobbish British novelist employer and his moody son Geoffrey. Knowing that her new home likely used to be a slave holding plantation doesn’t make her feel any more at home.

Troubled and reckless after his brother’s mysterious death, Geoff often mimics his father’s literary favorite, Lord Byron, acting “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” She’s determined to keep her distance and buries herself in her art, though the darkness of her drawings troubles her and others who see them. When people in the Gullah and Geechee community point out that she has been drawing Boo Hags and haints -powerful and terrifying creatures of local legend and superstition- she starts to wonder about her own heritage and her connection to the Sea Islands. She begins to question her own grasp on reality when it seems those creatures start making their way out of her drawings and into real life.

It’s clear that Geoff has some secrets of his own, but he might be the only person she can confide in. Chelsea must decide who she can trust, when nothing in the Lowcountry is what it seems.

When I read the summary of the book, I somehow missed the “Boo Hags and haints and terrifying creatures” line, focusing only on the connection to Lord Byron. So when the book started to take a turn for the creepy, I practically shrieked and shivered. I turned on all the lights and made sure my husband was in the room every time I cracked open the book.

Definitely a winner to read this Halloween time of year.

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Blog Tour and Guest Post: Holly Hearts Hollywood by Kenley Conrad @kenleyconrad @swoonromance @NereydaG1003

I don’t have a great singing voice, but I love to crank up somebody else’s and be swept away. Three of my siblings sing, one hopes to make music her career. And that’s not even mentioning my extended family. When I heard about a book about a singer in the be-thin-or-else industry, I knew I wanted to be a part of this tour!
HollyHeartsHollywoodSeventeen-year-old Holly Hart wants to be a star. She moves to Los Angeles from the small town of Cedar Junction, only to hear she’s too fat and ugly to be a famous singer.

But when Shell Shocked Records looks past Holly’s plus-size and less-than-graceful-personality to offer her a recording contract, Holly cannot believe her good fortune. On closer inspection, however, the record execs want Holly to do all the singing, and a thinner and more beautiful girl, Lacey, would lip-sync and get all the credit. Holly goes for it because after all, she wanted to sing.

Contractually bound to secrecy, Holly is more than happy to sit backstage while Lacey shimmies in the limelight and basks in the fame. Before she knows it, Holly is friends with Serena, the pop-star daughter of a music-mogul, flirting with an intern, and developing a strange half-friendship with Lacey.

When Grayson Frost, the biggest country star in America, and coincidentally, a former school bully begins dating Lacey, Holly hopes that he won’t recognize or torment her.

Through a series of embarrassing and weird events, Holly gets to know Grayson and learns that he is much nicer and more mature than he was four years ago. Holly is horrified when she starts falling for him. When Grayson admits he fell for Lacey’s voice, what is a girl to do when she can’t legally tell the truth at the moment when the truth matters the most?

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens are some of Julie Andrews’ favorite things, but what about the cast of characters in Holly Hearts Hollywood? Author Kenley Conrad was kind enough to stop by to tell us!

1. Favorite TV Show?

Holly—I’ve seen every episode of Criminal Minds there is. Twice.

Grayson—Have you seen The Walking Dead? Man, that show’s the best!

Lacey—Project Runway is my go-to show if I have some free time.

Serena—Oh jeez, that’s a hard question. It’s an even tie for me between The X-Files and Twin Peaks. I obviously love 90’s television.

2. Favorite color?

Holly—I guess pink. I mean, it seems like a clichéd answer but it is such a cute color. Everything looks good in pink.

Grayson—Have you seen my Escalade? It’s parked right outside. Yeah, that pearl white paint job is my favorite color.

Lacey—I prefer scarlet reds or corals since they don’t wash me out.

Serena—Wow, that’s an uninspired question. I guess I’d have to go with tangerine orange or maybe vermillion.

3. Favorite fashion designer?

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Book Blitz and GIVEAWAY: Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner @tianawarner

Ice_Massacre_bannerNot only can you enter a rafflecopter giveaway for a signed copy here, but during this week Ice Massacre is FREE on Amazon. Major cheering over here.
Ice_Massacre(Instead of giving the official synopsis, I thought I’d give this instead 🙂 )

Give us the tweet-sized version of what Ice Massacre is about.

A teenage girl is sent to battle the hostile mermaids that are driving her people into poverty. A story of love, secrets, and ass-kicking.

What makes Ice Massacre unique?

First, I haven’t seen a lot out there that portrays mermaids for what they really are: flesh-eating sea demons. But I think what also sets it apart is its almost entirely female cast. This island decides to send female warriors to kill the mermaids that plague them, because women don’t fall victim to a mermaid’s supernatural allure. We end up with an all-female war on a ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Meela, an aboriginal girl who’s never been away from the tiny island she calls home, also has a pretty unique journey of self-discovery. I don’t want to reveal too much. But I think a lot of aspects make this story unconventional.

What’s your favorite thing about the book?

I love Meela’s antagonists. Meela’s a tough chick and she has a lot coming at her from all directions. Writing those opposing forces was so much fun.

 What’s next for you as a writer?

The sequel! This is the first in a trilogy, and I’m hard at work on book two: Ice Crypt.

Doesn’t this sound awesome? I love fantastic mermaid books, but I love how it’s not-your-average beauty with a tail. Warner also gave us some creativity-boosting tips:

Have you ever sat up in the middle of the night to write down a sudden stroke of inspiration? Or made a quick voice memo to yourself? Maybe jotted down a plot twist idea while you’re supposed to be working or studying?

For a lot of writers, creativity comes in waves. This is great if those waves are thrashing around like stormy seas, but at some point a writer is bound to hit a flat spot. And not the kind of flat spot that’s great for water skiing. This is the kind that leaves you stuck in the middle of the lake wondering how the heck you’re ever going to get back to shore.

Here are three tips to keep those creativity waves coming:

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Book Blitz and GIVEAWAY!: Vision by Lisa Amowitz @lisa_amowitz @spencerhillp

I’ve wrestled with migraines my entire life. I have a distinct memory from when I was 11: I walked around my junior high campus, frantically checking every corner of my vision for the dreaded auras that announced the next hellish hours. “The blurries” (as I called them then) were what I feared most.

Now that I wrestle with chronic migraine, my vision is constantly flashing with color and bits of auras and blind spots–my brain’s neurons overloading.

When I read Vision‘s main character, Bobby, got migraines and hallucinations, I thought–shoot! Can I relate. I wanted to see how his migraines enabled him to do something amazing 🙂 Just a small example of how stories can give us hope in the everyday.

Want a signed first edition of Vision, book swag, and signed poster of Lisa’s book designs? (She designed her own cover! How cool is that?) Enter the GIVEAWAY here.

Or you can buy the book here:
Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Kobo Books * The Book Depository
Vision_bookblitzVision_coverThe light is darker than you think…

High school student Bobby Pendell already has his hands full—he works almost every night to support his disabled-vet father and gifted little brother. Then he meets the beautiful new girl in town, who just happens to be his boss’s daughter. Bobby has rules about that kind of thing. Nothing matters more than keeping his job.

When Bobby starts to get blinding migraines that come with scary, violent hallucinations, his livelihood is on the line. Soon, he must face the stunning possibility that the visions of murder are actually real. With his world going dark, Bobby is set on the trail of the serial killer terrorizing his small town. With everyone else convinced he’s the prime suspect, Bobby realizes that he, or the girl he loves, might be killer’s next victim.

EXCERPT:

Bobby stared at the evergreens reflected in the silvery water. He’d offered to bring Dad down here and carry him into the boat. He was certainly big enough to carry him now.

“Nope,” Dad had said flatly. “My fishing days are over. My ass is never getting in a boat again.”

With his work schedule, Bobby had never found time to teach his eleven-year old brother Aaron to swim, so that left him out.

Whatever. Dad drowned his troubles in beer and guitars. Bobby could never tell if people came to the Woods Café to see the wheelchair-bound vet strum his heart out because they
enjoyed the music or to honor his sacrifice. Didn’t matter. At least it got Dad out of the house,
and drummed up some business for Dad’s best friend, Jerry Woods.

Dealing with Dad wasn’t easy, but self-pity was a luxury Bobby couldn’t afford. Someone had to work, and bussing tables at the newly reopened Graxton Grill six nights a week left Bobby little time for anything else.

A loud splash from beside the boat jarred him from his drifting thoughts. He peered into the green depths, hoping to spot Mongo, Dad’s name for the legendary bass he had been trying to catch ever since he could hook a worm.

The dark waters stirred, pulling the boat slightly backward. Bobby dipped the oars into the water to paddle away from the disturbance, but the gently insistent pull kept him from making progress. The boat was being slowly dragged into some kind of current and had begun to pick up speed.

In his whole life, Bobby had never seen more than windblown ripples on Scratch Lake. Mongo was rumored to be huge, but he doubted striped bass grew large enough to churn up the waters like that.

Bobby thrust the oars into the water, paddling harder. The back of his head hurt. And the harder he rowed, the more his head throbbed like a dull drumbeat. A whirlpool was forming. No fish could ever disturb Scratch Lake like that.

Unnerved, Bobby yanked at the engine cord, but the motor only coughed, sputtered, and went quiet. The boat was captive to the steadily spinning water and Bobby could only squint helplessly into the depths as the headache hammered behind his eyes.

The lake’s center was rumored to be fifty feet deep. No one really knew, but as the boat sped in dizzying circles, Bobby could see clear down to the lake bottom inside the whirlpool’s tapered funnel. He gasped. Spread-eagled on the slimy rocks, on a bed of pond weeds, lay a pile of bones, a split, unmistakably human skull resting on the top.

Bobby swallowed hard, breathing fast and shallow.

It can’t be real. I’m not seeing this.

He’d been so eager to get on the lake that morning he’d forgotten to eat. And he should have. The headache was creeping to his eyes, and now he was seeing things. Feeling and experiencing things that couldn’t be happening.

The pile of bones at the bottom of the lake was as sharp and clear as a photo.

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The Makings of a Book Cover: The Undead: Playing for Keeps Blog Tour by Elsie Elmore

Want a FREE copy? Not only can you enter the Goodreads GIVEAWAY here, enter the RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY here. Or–leave a comment below to win a ereader copy (courtesy of Xpresso Book Tours). I will use a random number generator next Sunday at 11:59 EST to select this winner.

You can also buy the book on Amazon and at Barns and Nobles.
The_Undead_tourThe_UndeadI’m excited to be here on Abby J. Reed’s blog to talk about my new release,

The Undead: Playing for Keeps. I’ve known Abby for two years, but it seems much longer. We started as classmates in an online class, then became CPs. She’s an awesome writer and artist, which makes her blog the perfect places to share the journey to make my cover.

Step 1 : Complete the info sheet

Curiosity Quills, my publisher, has created an awesome information sheet for their authors. The goal is to think about the cover in a visceral way: what colors should be present? What emotions should the image evoke? What feeling should resonate with the reader? Bottom line.. What gut reaction do you want? The immediate answer has “buy me” somewhere buried in there, but that is not the focus. Your cover needs to reflect some element of the story.

I turned to my CP’s and beta readers to poll their thoughts as well. This worksheet was first completed in December, less than a month after I signed the contract with CQ, and then again in March. Looking back, my December ideas were a little vague. But after working with an editor for a few months, my cover ideas became more clear and better represented the story the second time around.

Colors and feelings were two components I needed to address during this process. For colors, I thought of reds and blacks (this probably had a lot to do with the fact that red is my favorite color.) And feelings… I wanted the reader to feel a sense of mystery and maybe a touch of foreboding when they looked at the cover.

Step 2 : Sketch out a few ideas.

The Undead is told through two different POVs (thanks to the editing process). Part of the story comes from Eric, a grim reaper. Since there were so many YA books with pictures of girls on the front, I decided I’d rather focus on Eric than Lyla. I sketched out a few ideas that might represent the story line. Eric’s music was always a key element I wanted to highlight.Undead1

Step 3 : Meet the artist

I was introduced to Alexandria Thompson from GothicFate.com in the beginning of April. She was the graphic artist I was assigned by CQ. (Go now, check out her work here and see why I was thrilled with the match-up.)

But a few days before we made contact, a new idea came to me… a male hand holding a set of keys. I can’t deny that the idea felt brilliant. Especially if the tokens on the key chain represented different facets of the story. So when Alexandria and I started exchanging emails, I shared my thoughts.Undead2

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