on Dec 17, 2013

Today we're happy to host author Suzanna Linton as part of a blog tour for her fantasy novel "Clara." Without further ado...

One day, my husband rearranged our study, where I do my writing, to make room for some new bookcases.  He wedged my desk between two bookcases, despite my suggestion that it be moved so that it faced the window.  I had imagined looking out at the trees lining the drive whenever I got stuck on a scene, as if the sway of river birches could dislodge an idea.  It seemed ideal.  However, now I faced a beige wall.

I made a face.  I complained.  But my darling spouse insisted that this was the better choice.

“You won’t get distracted, like you would at a window,” he said.

As I thought about it, I realized I could only agree.  If I sat in front of a window, I’d spend more time watching birds and butterflies than actually writing.  And I decided to put the space into good use, taping little sayings on the wall for me to read whenever I felt lost or needed a kick in the rear to get going.  I thought I’d share a few with you, along with my thoughts on them.

Write drunk, edit sober. – Ernest Hemingway

I don’t think Mr. Hemingway meant this literally.  Though, this is Hemingway, so maybe he did.  But since I don’t want to take it literally, I’d like to think that he’s saying, “Write with lowered inhibitions.  Disgorge your subconscious onto the paper.  A drunk comes up with an idea and does it without first checking for any warning labels.  Writers should do the same.  In fact, writers don’t write for anyone other than themselves and they certainly don’t write to please everyone.  Politicians do.”  It’s when everything is out and the first draft is completed that we should then go over it with a critical eye.

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.  – Jack London

Every time I hear someone say, “I can’t write today because I don’t have the muse”, I want to throw something, preferably something heavy and preferably at the speaker.  However, that’s a bit hypocritical because I’ve said the same thing.  At the same time, though, I know I’m saying it because I just don’t want to write.  As Chuck Wendig once said, the only way to survive as a novelist is “by spot-welding one’s ass to the office chair every day and putting the words to screen and paper no matter what.”   It doesn’t matter if you want to or whether you feel “inspired”.  Inspiration is not to be waited upon but gone after or just done without entirely.  Writing is hard.  It’s a job.  The sooner you accept this, the happier you’ll be.  Well, as happy as any writer can expect to be.

You need a certain amount of nerve to be a writer. – Margaret Atwood

Writing is not for the weak of heart.  It’s more than telling a story.  It’s sharing an important part of your mind and heart.  These characters aren’t just abstract ideas to a writer but real people.  It’s natural to feel some protectiveness.  Also, there’s the fact that you’re opening yourself up to criticism.  So, yes, it does take a good bit of nerve and gumption.  This isn’t a quality that can be had right away, though.  It takes time to develop that nerve.  It takes time to build up those callouses that keep us safe from the barbs of critics.  But once that courage, that nerve, has been attained, then it’s easier to plow ahead.  It's easier to write drunk and edit sober.

The first draft of everything is shit. – Ernest Hemingway

This has to be my favorite quote from Hemingway.  We writers are known for our OCD ways.  I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak to my own desire to get everything right on the first go.  As Hemingway so succinctly puts it, that’s not going to happen.  The point of the first draft is to get everything out onto paper.  Once you’ve done that, then you can worry about smoothing over the rough spots, cutting away the dead wood, or whatever metaphor you prefer.  The point is, don’t despair if it isn’t Nobel Prize-worthy material right away, and don’t have the arrogance to think that it already is.  The former will tempt you to give up and the latter will bar you from any improvement.

And improvement is the lifeblood of the author.  You never stop getting better.  You should never stop trying to get better.  Finally, it's important to realize that there will always be someone better than you.

I hope these little quotes give you the push you may need to get to writing or perhaps the wisdom to pull out of a rut, if you’ve fallen into one.  However, I think I’ll close with one more.  One that isn’t on my wall but which I think I will add:

Don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously. – Lev Grossman

About the Book

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To save a nation, Clara will have to see through both the fog of war, and the fog of her own heart...

Sold into slavery as a child, and rendered mute by the horrors she suffered, Clara's life extends no further than the castle kitchens and their garden. Those who know about her just think of her as the dull mute girl who may be a little soft in the head, not knowing that she carries within herself a precious gift: the ability to see the future. This is a gift she keeps secret, though, for fear of persecution.

However, a vision prompts her to prevent a murder, shoving her not only into the intrigues and gilded life of the nobility, but also into a civil war brewing in her country. As events unfold, and she is drawn deeper into the conflict, she meets an old friend, makes a new one, and begins to unearth secrets better left buried.

Driven to learn the truth about the war, and about her friends, Clara embarks on a journey that takes her from her beloved mountains to the very Capital itself, Bertrand, where she is confronted by an evil both ancient and twisted. The only problem is, her own anger and prejudices are the catalysts her enemy needs to complete its plans. If she is not careful, not only will the entire nation be lost, but her own soul as well.

About the Author

Suzanna Linton was born in South Carolina and grew up in Orangeburg County. In 2002, she attended the summer program in fiction and poetry for the SC Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities. After graduating high school, she went on to Francis Marion University, where she majored in English. In 2013, she received Honorable Mention in the Sidney Lanier Poetry Award Competition.

When she's not writing or working at the local library, Suzanna can be found either reading or gardening. She also loves to watch movies and television series. Right now, she's nose deep in The Walking Dead, White Collar, and Star Trek.

She lives with her husband and their two dogs, Benedict and Scholastica, in Florence, SC.

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on Dec 15, 2013
Rating: 4 stars

Genre: Fantasy / Epic Fantasy


Drawn into the schemes of an angry wizard, Carin glimpses the place she once called home. It lies upon a shore that seems unreachable. To learn where she belongs and how to get there, the teenage traveler must decipher the words of an alien book, follow the clues in a bewitched poem, conjure a dragon from a pool of magic -- and tread carefully around a seductive but volatile, emotionally scarred sorcerer who can't seem to decide whether to love her or kill her.

The Warlock


 This is the first book in what promises to be a fascinating fantasy trilogy. Carin is a foundling with a secret or two even she isn't aware of yet. Sent north by the wisewoman of her village, she stumbles into Lord Verek's domain--and into some serious trouble. Verek if is a warlock with a tragic past, and while he does do occasional nice things, the man has some serious emotional baggage resulting in verbal, emotional and borderline physical abuse. I was right there with Carin, ready to escape him whenever possible, and not trusting him farther than ... well, not trusting him, period. I kept waiting for him to come to his senses and redeem himself (he had to be the most frustratingly mean character I've ever met) but he hasn't yet. I'm hoping for a major epiphany to hit him in Book 2!

In addition to the tense power dynamics in the relationship between Carin and Verek, this book also intrigued me by the way "Alice's Adventures Through The Looking-Glass" was woven in. Yes, you read that right. There's a riddle here, and it's summed up in the appearance of that classical work in a fantastical land where it doesn't belong. Oh, and Carin's ability to read it. Let me stop there, before I say too much...

I did find the dialogue a little too formal for me. By this I mean that a character might state two or three thoughts, and then leave it open for another character to respond. So we end up with a series of mini-monologues rather than punchy or back-and-forth dialogue. This can work in some situations, but when people are angry (specifically, both people involved are angry), no one's going to wait for someone to wind through three different points before jumping in to address the first point. In this way, the dialogue often lost its force for me.

The only other aspect of this book that frustrated me was Carin's tendency to pick fights / say the wrong thing. Now, in general I wouldn't have a thing to say about this: it's a personality trait, and it's hers, and look what she gets for it! But ... but we're given to understand that Carin hasn't talked for most of her life--she started out completely silent after she was found as a child, not speaking a word for over a year. From that time till she left her town to head north, she stuck to silence as her best defense. So ... I was expecting silence to be her strength. I wanted her to know when to keep silent; and how to use silence as a weapon. But she didn't have that, and it puzzled me because it seemed inconsistent with her history.

Finally, The Warlock ends on a major cliffhanger--be warned. However, it's a cliffhanger that's cleared up within a few pages in the next book. (Yes, I immediately jumped in to find out!) I'm a little ambivalent on that score. As an author, I understand the need to draw readers into the next book. But as a reader, I hate cliffhangers, especially ones that could easily have been resolved in the book in question without adding on much more length. So judge that one for yourself :)

Overall, a fun and engaging read, with an intriguing premise and plenty of mystery.

About the Author

Deborah Lightfoot

Castles in the cornfield provided the setting for Deborah J. Lightfoot’s earliest flights of fancy. On her father’s farm in Texas, she grew up reading tales of adventure and reenacting them behind ramparts of sun-drenched grain. She left the farm to earn a degree in journalism and write award-winning books of history and biography. High on her Bucket List was the desire to try her hand at the genre she most admired. The result is WATERSPELL, a multi-layered fantasy about a girl and the wizard who suspects her of being so dangerous to his world, he believes he'll have to kill her ... which troubles him, since he's fallen in love with her. Waterspell Book 1: The Warlock; Waterspell Book 2: The Wysard; and Waterspell Book 3: The Wisewoman.
on Dec 14, 2013
Giveaway Alert!
Melissa Sasina is doing a giveaway for two signed copies of Defiance,
Book One of the Priestess Trilogy!

Shiovra has been named High Priestess of the village Tara, but she quickly finds herself hunted by the Milidh, a clan born of war and vengeance. With the safety of Tara at stake, it is decided that she is to seek aid from her betrothed, one she considers the enemy.

At her side is Odhrán, a Milidh warrior sworn to protect her and determined to gain her trust. But their journey is fraught with peril and Shiovra learns that darkness lurks in the hearts of her own kin.
Steeped in ancient Irish myth, this tale is spun of love, war, and DEFIANCE.

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on Dec 10, 2013

Today we're excited to share an interview with Mr. Hillel Cooperman, author of the Madrona Heroes Register, as part of his blog tour with Enchanted Book Promotions. Find out more about this fun middle grade fantasy story below the interview.

1. Hi, Mr. Cooperman! Thanks for accepting this interview. Can you tell us all a little about yourself and why you became a writer?

I’m 45 years old and live in Seattle, WA. I’m a single father of three children – ages 12, 10, and 7. Much like the three main characters in my book. :) I really never considered myself a writer even though I’ve written constantly over the last decade or more. Mostly I wrote non-fiction in the course of my job as a software designer, and as a restaurant blogger. But fiction was always something that I thought was likely more daunting than I could deal with. But my desire to tell this story and create this world eventually became more terrible than the fear of failing or creating something lousy. So a year and a half ago I started outlining the story that would become the broader arc of the Madrona Heroes Register.

2. Can you tell us a little about The Madrona Heroes Register series? 

The first book – The Madrona Heroes Register: Echoes of the Past – is actually book #4 in the series. (Because Star Wars.) And it goes like this:  Someone in ten-year-old Binny Jordan’s family has a super power – and it’s not her. Binny’s seven-year-old sister Cassie can turn herself invisible and now a strange man is keenly interested in what Cassie can do. Binny’s parents seem more distracted than ever, and her older brother Zach is hiding something of his own. Binny needs to find a way to protect her sister, but she’s never felt more alone.

The overall series is really about these three children (who resemble my own in only positive ways :) Zach, Binny, and Cassie – siblings – who have to deal with the introduction of a superpower into their family.  Eventually, over the course of the books I intend to create a new superhero universe along the lines of DC or Marvel. But more importantly I gravitate towards more realistic superhero stories, and that’s really what I’m striving for here. What would actually happen if a seven-year-old suddenly had a superpower?

4. Who is your favorite character in your books and why?

In this book there’s really no contest, my favorite character is Binny. She is smart, and honest, and resourceful. She’s sensitive too. She feels things deeply. But ultimately she always tries to do the right thing. I guess both in terms of how I am and how I hope to be I see a lot of myself in Binny.

5. Where do you write? (If you have a picture, we'd love to see it!)
I write mostly either in my home office or at Chocolati coffee house in Seattle, WA. I don’t drink coffee (or tea) so a coffeehouse that specializes in hot chocolate is just my speed. It gives me the sugar I need to function. And it also makes an appearance in the book under a different name. Here’s me in my favorite spot:


Note from Intisar: I go to coffeehouses for hot chocolate too! Can't stand coffee, and will only consume tea in situations of dire peer pressure. Good to know there's someone else out there like me!

6. What five books are on your "keeper shelf" of books? 

These are books also targeted at young adults and kids:

·         Danny the Champion of the World, by Roald Dahl

·         Drangonsinger by Anne McCafferey

·         Harry Potter by JK Rowling (duh)

·         The Stand by Stephen King

·         Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson

·         FTW by Cory Doctorow

7. If you could have one superpower, what would you choose?

·          Invisibility. Duh. :)

Thanks for the interview, Mr. Cooperman!

Part I  |  Part II  |  Part III  |  Part IV

Someone in ten-year-old Binny Jordan’s family has a super power – and it’s not her. Binny’s seven-year-old sister Cassie can turn herself invisible and now a strange man is keenly interested in what Cassie can do. Binny’s parents seem more distracted than ever, and her older brother Zach is hiding something of his own. Binny needs to find a way to protect her sister, but she’s never felt more alone.

About the Author

Hillel Cooperman has pretended to be a superhero since he was a small child. He conceived of the story of the Madrona Heroes in the summer of 2012 on a trip abroad with his family. By winter, he had started writing in earnest. He lives in the Madrona neighborhood of Seattle with his three children, their three cats, and thousands of Lego bricks. His superpower is procrastination. The Madrona Heroes Register is his first novel.

on Dec 7, 2013
Blurb: When Clary Fray heads out to Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder. Much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with odd markings. This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons-and keeping the odd werewolves and vampires in line. It's also her first meeting with gorgeous, golden-haired Jace. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in an ordinary mundane like Clary? And how did she suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know....

Genre(s): Young Adult / Paranormal / Romance

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Review: City of Bones has been gotten a good lot of attention recently, mostly in part to it's movie adaptation, but even before that the book and its sequels have been fan favorites. Which leads me to believe that mayhap I am missing something.

This novel is a good read, obviously aimed at younger teen girls, however, I fail to see what launched it into the Twilight/Hunger Games region. Then again I still don't understand how either of those books became so popular anyway.

Moving on...

Cassandra Clare seems to be a fan of having normal, unmagical people react surprisingly well to magical/supernatural creatures. This tends to be far too unrealistic to the reader. Honestly would any of us be any semblance of calm after learning that vampires and goblins are real, or after seeing a demon in your apartment.

My favorite character was actually Luke, the mystery and intrigue surrounding his loyalty and motives made for truly interesting reading. Clary was...alright. I feel that with her and other characters we only see the surface of their personalities. It would be nice to be given a little more insight into her, then again this is the first book of a six book series so I can give a little leeway. Jace wasn't attractive to me personally. I found him annoying and read through the scenes with him extra fast so I could move on to more compelling material.

*Spoilers* They are siblings!?! What the heck! I mean really, this is Luke and Leia all over again. And did any of us honestly need to relieve that? I mean I'm hoping and assuming that this isn't true. Mostly by the fact that there was no other male lead who could by Clary's romantic interest. Still it was one of the worst, possibly worst twists I've ever read. Ugh.

The ending just left me very confused. Everything felt sloppy rushed, nothing was really explained and it moved so fast I had no idea what was going on.

All in all if your looking for another teen, pop read this is an okay book.  

About the Reviewer: M. A. Bronson is a bookworm, book reviewer, and aspiring author. Since 2012, she has been reviewing indie and traditionally published books at runawaypen.com. She spends her time reading, drinking tea, writing, and ardently shipping RumBelle. M lives in Upstate New York and works at a library, happily surrounded by thousands of stories. Connect with her on twitter and instagram @theprincessmab
on Dec 5, 2013

Before he knew the Oracle...
Before he knew the Quad...
Before the Great Unknown threatened his world...
He was a hero, cursed forever.

Cover Designed by: Colin F. Barnes
Publication Date: March 18, 2014
Genre: YA Mythology
Series: Mythos: Stories from Olympus #2/Oracle of Delphi #3.5

*WARNING* To be read after Prophecy of Solstice's End (Oracle of Delphi #3)
Contains MAJOR spoilers!

Shunned by a family that doesn't understand him, demigod Lenka Tahile aka "Swindle" is a complete loner and he likes it that way. Then he meets the hero, Ace Remedy, the brother of an infamous demigod Prince, and his life goes from bad to worse. Ace is loud, rude, and disruptive to his peaceful existence in every way. He's also hilarious and daring, and Swindle ends up finding a friend just when he thought he'd never have another.

But little does he know, becoming friends with Ace was all part of the Fates' plan. Now his past is slowly coming back to haunt him and there's nothing he can do to stop it. Nothing but try not to bring to light the lost love, the failed hopes, and the cursed existence that he would kill to keep in the dark.

Five Facts about Hero, Cursed

1. Lenka Tahile is a South African name. The MC was born in South Africa.

2. "Swindle" is Lenka's celestial name. He is a son of Hermes. Figure it out.

3. The hawk on the cover is not a tattoo. His name is Bill and he's Swindle's Fauna Morph, an animal that morphs into a weapon on command.

4. Though it isn't showcased on the cover, Swindle has extremely curly hair. Out of control, I tell you.

5. Just like Solar, Defeated, this novella switches back and forth between the present and the past, and reveals what life was like for Swindle before the Oracle of Delphi came along.

Mythos: Stories from Olympus #1

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Diantha Jones was born the day thousands of turkeys sacrificed their lives to fill millions of American bellies on November 22 which also happened to be Thanksgiving Day (Her mother says she owes her a turkey). She is a Journalism graduate who wants to be a career novelist (of books, not Facebook posts). When not writing or working, she is reading on her Nook, being hypnotized by Netflix or on a mission to procure french fries.

The Oracle of Delphi fantasy series is her first series. She is also the author of Mythos: Stories from Olympus, a companion series, and there is another fantasy series in the works. She also writes (new) adult fantasy/paranormal romance under the name A. Star. Invasion (An Alien Romance) is her first title released under this pen name. Future releases under A. Star include, Mythos: Gods and Lovers series, the Love & Steampunk series, the Purr, Inc. stories, and more.

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on Dec 3, 2013

Rating: 4.5 / 5
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy


Amateur photographer Beth Ryder is in trouble. She's taking pictures of things she can't see, things that aren't human. Beth has her own dreams, but people like her don't get to go free. She's seized by a dangerous organization dedicated to keeping Earth's shadow world -- and its frightening inhabitants -- a secret. Forced into otherworldly politics and uncertain whom to trust, Beth must come to terms with a radically altered future -- one in which her own humanity seems to be draining away.

The Emanations Series

Of all the beings that have lived on Earth, what if just a few had the power to make new realities, according to their desires? What would they create? The Second Emanation: a shadow world where ancient creatures persist, where humanity's dominance is far less certain, where wonder competes with horror. A world like an autumn forest, its realities as multiple and layered as fallen leaves. The world that gives us our gods.

In Becca Mills's Emanations series, this strange and magical world crosses paths with a seemingly ordinary young woman from the American Midwest. It'll never be the same again.

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A fast moving and well paced story of a young woman who discovers she's more paranormal than normal...not the most unique premise, but I loved a few things about this story:

(a) The heroine. The heroine begins the story with panic disorder. I've never really understood what it might be like to have such a disorder, and it was both eye-opening and very clear that Ms. Mills has done a very good job researching this. Even better, as the story progresses so does character development.

(b) The romantic element. Guess what? It's not overpowering, and the first man, or two, that you meet after discovering all is not right in the world, is not necessarily your soul mate.

(c) The paranormal element. It's a new take on demons, and I've yet to meet any angels. I liked it a lot. (Maybe I'm tired of angels, but then, I'm also tired of demons, so it's saying something that I enjoyed this.)

(d) The writing itself is strong, fluid, and just descriptive enough. The only reason I dropped this story down half a point was because of the "Ghosteater" passages. They're from the perspective of "Ghosteater" but not--they're actually first person from our heroine's perspective, and it was just awkward and very odd to me that she could be inside Ghosteater's head, know everything he's thinking as strange as it might be to humans, and yet not (by the end of the book) reveal some sort of psychic connection with him. Really, though, the first person interjections in these passages just read awkwardly, and it felt like a misfiring of craft.

Overall, an enjoyable and adrenaline-packed ride. Recommended for readers of paranormal fantasy, epic fantasy, and demon-fans.

Note this is a new-adult read, not my typical YA fare. :)

About the Author

Becca Mills is an over-educated, under-exercised lover of good coffee, science, and fast cars. And books. Oh yes. She believes the world can be a rough place and that everyone deserves to leave it behind now and then. That pretty much makes books a human right, no?

Becca is currently completing Book 2 of the Emanations series. When not novelizing, she spends quite a bit of time on her "day job" as a college professor teaching literature and writing.