on Oct 31, 2013
There's more fun to be had at the Awesome Indies Halloween Party! They also have a great giveaway, so be sure to click over and check it out...


Happy Halloween

The hosts of our party have some mean bad guys hiding among their pages. Today, some of our authors open their books and let their monsters take a peek outside. Click on over to the Awesome Indies, read the descriptions and vote for the monster you think is the creepiest.    

Don't forget to visit the Monster Sale.

on Oct 30, 2013
Today I'm excited to share a post about the Awesome Indies Halloween Party. My novella, Sunbolt, is part of the party, so be sure to check it out!


Watch out! There's demons, ghouls, ghosts and other nasties over at Awesome Indies and they're escaping their books on Halloween to host a party for all the gentle souls from the less frightening stories. The spread is amazing, a smorgasbord of genres, over 40 books on sale at 99c from the 30th of October to the 1st November, plus a fun quiz, a meet the monster day and a goody-bag of give-aways. The party starts today with a fun quiz. Click over to the Awesome Indies blog to find out what you didn't know about Halloween.

The Awesome Indies only lists books that have been carefully reviewed and held to the same standard as mainstream fiction. You can click on any of the books in the slide show above to find out mroe about them or view all the books together on the Awesome Indies Monster Sale page.

on Oct 15, 2013
Today we're happy to welcome Majanka Verstraete to the Runaway Pen to discuss the making of a picture book.

Making picture books takes a lot of work. Most of that work is on the shoulders of the illustrator. As an author of a picture book, “Valentina and the Haunted Mansion”, I could see the process for making a picture book first hand.

When my publisher accepted my manuscript and told me they wanted to publish it, of course I was over the roof. But I had no idea how it actually worked to go from manuscript to complete picture book. My manuscript had no illustration descriptions, because I’d read somewhere that some publishers don’t like those. But the first thing my publisher had me do, was insert descriptions of what I’d wanted in the illustrations.

Then the publisher put me in touch with Noelle Giffin, my illustrator. Noelle did an amazing job translating my not-so-detailed descriptions into character designs. She made a character design for Valentina, the main character, and I was amazed by how well the design matched the picture I had in my mind for the character.

Once I’d approved the character designs, she started working on the cover. First I got to see a sketch, and then we discussed some things I wanted to change. Then she sent me the inked version, and once that was approved, the colored version. I didn’t have a lot to say to improve the cover – I absolutely loved it. Last step was adding shading, and then the cover looked even more beautiful.

As soon as the cover was finished, we started work on the other illustrations. Noelle has this amazing talent that she knows what I want in an illustration, even if I don’t know it myself. She made thumbnail illustrations for each page. Next up was the inking process. The thumbnails didn’t convince me, because they were hard to see, but as soon as the pictures were inked, I was sold. She’d done an amazing job.

Then came the coloring, and then the shading. It’s amazing how much shading adds to the pictures. If they’re just colored, it’s kind of dull, but as soon as the picture is shaded, it turns into a vibrant, lively picture.

When all the illustrations were done, we also worked on some small illustrations to add a little detail to the book. For instance, Noelle made chapter headings – a smaller replica of the haunted mansion Valentina lives in. She also made a design for a small bat, which we used on every page above and below the text.

Then all that was left to do was the formatting. The end result was a beautiful book I’m very proud of, and I hope Noelle is proud of it as well.

About the Author

Majanka Verstraete begged her Mom to teach her how to read while she was still in kindergarten. By the time she finished fifth grade, she had read through the entire children’s section of her hometown library.

She wrote her first story when she was seven years old, and hasn’t stopped writing since. With an imagination that never sleeps, and hundreds of possible book characters screaming for her attention, writing is more than a passion for her.

She writes about all things supernatural for children of all ages. She’s tried to write contemporary novels before, but something paranormal always manages to crawl in.

Majanka is currently studying for her Master of Laws degree, and hopes one day to be able to combine her passions for law and writing. When she’s not writing, reading or studying, she likes watching “The Vampire Diaries” and “Game of Thrones,” spending time with her friends, or playing “World of Warcraft.”

Her debut picture book, “Valentina and the Haunted Mansion” released in May 2013, and was published by Evolved Publishing. She is now working on her second picture book, “Valentina and the Whackadoodle Witch”, which will be published in December 2013. 

She has a lower grade chapter book, “The Doll Maker” coming out in September 2013. This is the first book in the Weirdville series, a series of scary books for kids. The second and third book will be released in December 2013, along with an audio book for “The Doll Maker”. 

Her debut young adult novel, “Fractured”, the first book in the Mirrorland series, released in September 2013 by InkSpell Publishing.

Website   |   Goodreads   |   Facebook   |   Twitter 

Preorder your copy of Fractured here. And purchase your copy of Valentina and the Haunted Mansion here

About the Illustrator

Noelle Giffin is an alumna of the Savannah College of Art and Design, equipped with a BFA in Sequential Art. She enjoys a good story and believes that it should always be accompanied by art that complements it, instead of overshadowing it. Her favorite part of creating artwork is working towards that feeling of “being in the zone,” where everything just fits together seamlessly and is difficult to distract from.

She likes to listen to music while she draws and, as a result, comes up with silly music video ideas for her characters. Her medium tends to be digital, but nothing beats drawing with pencil and paper. Lastly, she loves fat little birds like nothing else in the world (and now no one is surprised as to why she’s drawing Bird Brain Books).

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Valentina and the Haunted Mansion

Valentina isn’t thrilled with her parents’ decision to move into an ancient, gigantic mansion in the middle of nowhere—filled with dark, unsettling rooms, and far away from civilization, where they don’t have to worry about hiding who they are. Sure, it may be perfect for a vampire family like hers, but moving here meant leaving her best friends behind.

The new house has some perks, though. Valentina gets to choose her own room, and when she explores the mansion on her own, she discovers a trophy room, a museum room, a music room, and much more.

From the moment Valentina started exploring, however, she’s felt someone watching her. Strange things start to happen all around her: footprints appear in the dust, a disembodied voice sneezes....

...and just because Valentina is a vampire, doesn’t mean she doesn't get scared like any other little girl. 

on Oct 8, 2013
Today we're happy to host author Alisse Lee Goldberg as part of the Strings of the Violin Book Tour...

As a young adult fantasy writer, I’m often asked why I choose to write in this particular genre. For me, the answer has always been simple: I love reading this genre. These stories have always been the kind of stories that I will come back to time and again. As such, when I first began to put pen to paper, it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to write in this genre, and I have never looked back.

Young adult stories of any kind have always been stories of amazing change and growth. Characters at this age are a fascinating bunch. They are on the cusp of adulthood, of figuring out who they are and who they want to be. As a writer, this gives you so much to play with, to work with, to inspire you. Everything seems heightened, the stakes feel higher, if not for you, then for your character, and consequently for the reader. Then when you throw magic and mystery into the mix, the possibilities seem endless.

I remember growing up and longing for magic to be real. I remember playing make believe with my best friends long after it should have been considered “cool” for us to be doing so. As a young person, the idea that at any moment some mystical character could turn up in your life and tell you that you are “special” or “chosen” is an intoxicating idea. The notion that your world could be turned upside down, and you could be a hero, or an adventurer is one I am sure everyone has wished could truly happen. This is the core of so many young adult fantasies, and as such, it holds much power. Every generation’s children need these ideas, these escapes from reality, and as a writer I realize this, yet for me I also use these ideas to explore real world issues. My characters grapple with the troubles that accompany teenagers’ lives like: What will their future be like? What do they do about telling that person they have feelings for them? How do they handle friendships that seem to be troubled? How do they act like themselves, yet still have people like them? Are they good enough to be liked? Having questions like this tackled in a fantastical setting where the dangers are heightened, and the outcomes could be more severe seems to be a great way to offer readers that desperately needed escape with a hope that maybe things aren’t so bad. I believe that this is why these types of books have remained popular and relevant for so long, and why I intend to continue writing them for as long as I can.

About the Author

Alisse Lee Goldenberg is an author of Horror and Young Adult fantasy fiction. She has her Bachelors of Education and a Fine Arts degree, and has studied fantasy and folk lore since she was a child. Alisse lives in Toronto with her husband Brian, their triplets Joseph, Phillip, and Hailey, and their rambunctious Goldendoodle Sebastian.

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Seventeen-year-old Carrie is lying in her backyard ignoring all the looming responsibilities in her life, when a fox makes a mad dash across the grass in front of her. After she manages to keep her dog from attacking the frightened animal, the fox turns to Carrie and seems to bow in gratitude before he disappears into the bushes. All Carrie knows in that moment is that something has unexpectedly changed in her life.

Carrie has been best friends with Lindsay Smith and Rebecca Campbell for years. During a summer when they should focus on choosing colleges, the girls suddenly find themselves swept away on the adventure of their lives. The fox reappears three days later and reveals to Carrie that he is Adom, emissary to the king of Hadariah. With his land of music and magic in peril, Adom has been sent to seek help from Carrie and her friends. In the blink of an eye, the three teenage girls go from living an average suburban life to being the champions of a world where they must contend with giants, witches, and magical beings. Will they ever make it home once more?

Book Links: Prizm Books   |   Amazon Kindle   |    Amazon Print