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Guest Review: My Daughter Reviews YA Mystery/Suspense The Lying Woods

It’s Wacky Wednesday, so it’s my 15 year old daughter Emma’s turn in guest reviewing a YA novel of mystery of suspense from Hyperion called The Lying Woods from author Ashley Elston! She read this in one night over the summer (an advanced review copy), but it just hit the market November 13, 2018! It’s one of the favorite books she read this year, so it would make a great book gift for any teen in your life. I think it looks pretty good myself and I will most likely give it a read too in the near future.

The Lying Woods

The Lying Woods, Review –
by Emma Al-Mehairi

The Lying Woods is a story of love, loss, abandonment, and the realization that life may not always be what it seems. Owen is a very relatable teenage character. The way he expresses his emotions throughout the book is very similar to many other teenagers I know so it felt authentic. Elston also did a fantastic job of showing what any runner like myself would understand – running helps relieve stress. The way Elston wrote the novel helps to show the backstory that we have to understand, but without making those parts drag on, and the suspense was a page turner. I highly recommend this book to all teenagers, or even adults, who enjoy realistic fiction with a bit of mystery. It’s one of the best books I read this year.

Hardcover, 336 pages
Published November 13th 2018 by Disney-Hyperion

Find it on GoodReads!

About The Lying Woods

The truth won’t stay buried in this suspenseful, riveting mystery. THE LYING WOODS combines heart-pounding, high-stakes mystery with palpable tension between each character to create a menacing, gripping read.

Owen Foster has never wanted for anything. Then his mother shows up at his elite New Orleans boarding school cradling a bombshell: his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. After using the family business, the single largest employer in his small Louisiana town, to embezzle millions, Owen’s father vanished without a trace, leaving his family to deal with the fallout.

Owen returns to Lake Cane to finish his senior year, where people he hardly remembers despise him for his father’s crimes. When Owen and his mother receive increasingly frightening threats from someone out for revenge, he knows he must get to the bottom of what really happened at Louisiana Frac—and the cryptic note his father sent him days before disappearing. Owen’s only refuge is the isolated pecan orchard he works at after school, owned by a man named Gus who has his own secrets. As Owen uncovers a terrible injustice that looms over the same woods he’s claimed as his own, he must face a shocking truth about his own past.

Ashley Elston Biography –

aelston_headshot_sm_finalAshley Elston is the author of several novels including: The Rules for Disappearing (a finalist in the Best Young Adult Novel category of the International Thriller Writers Thriller Awards) and This Is Our Story.

She has a liberal arts degree from Louisiana State University in Shreveport and worked for many years as a wedding photographer before turning her hand to writing.

Ashley lives in Shreveport with her husband and three sons. For more information about Ashley and her books, please visit http://www.ashleyelston.com.

Praise for The Lying Woods –

“Fans who have come to expect Elston’s mastery of situational tension, double narratives, and enthralling mystery will not be disappointed with this newest tale that alternates between past and present perspectives as it barrels toward a stunning reveal… Readers won’t even notice the steady pull to the edges of their seats.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“This is a mystery that introduces characters slowly, with a thoughtful alternating story line and backstory that allows the plot to maintain its pace. Owen’s frustration and actions, along with the people whose futures were destroyed by his father, are understandable and build to a satisfying conclusion.” —School Library Journal (starred review)

“Elston… channels E. Lockhart as she overlays an eerie, mysterious atmosphere on top of a riveting family drama spanning decades… Family secrets and forgiveness drive this gorgeously plotted mystery. —Booklist

“The intergenerational plot complicates the adults in the story, resisting typical YA stereotypes and giving Owen some adults worthy of the trust and affection he invests in them. Readers who enjoy a realistic mystery based on contemporary family dynamics and small-town class conflicts are the audience for this.” —BCCB

“A blisteringly quick read, thanks to its compelling story and nonstop surprises.”
Culturess

“Elston has masterfully plotted this story out and the way everything wraps up is incredibly satisfying. The Lying Woods is an exciting novel perfect for fans of contemporary mystery…. Sure to keep you on your toes.”
The Young Folks

Accolades

BNTeen: Our Most Anticipated Contemporary YA Novels of 2018: July to December (selection)
Hypable: Fall 2018 movies, TV, and book release dates that need to be on your calendar (selection)
BookRiot: 125+ Upcoming YA Books You’ll Want on Your October to December Radar, selection (2018)
BNTeen: 21 of November’s Best New Young Adult Books, selection (2018)
Hypable: Our most-anticipated November 2018 YA book releases, selection
Bookish: November Book Club Picks: One-Child Policy, Embezzlement, and an Unlikely Serial Killer, selection (2018)
BNTeen: November’s Best New YA Books, selection (2018)
BookRiot: 3 on a YA Theme: Books for Your November Holds List, selection (2018)

 

Thanks again to Emma for reviewing this one!

Emma Al-Mehairi, Guest Reviewer

emma lake memorial 1Emma is a freshman in high school and besides her full schedule of honors and advanced courses, she also runs cross country, sings in the symphonic choir, and enjoys theater and art (especially painting – and is a huge Bob Ross fan!).

She loves being anywhere by the water and has plans to go to college for marine biology, but also one day hopes to write books on the environment to inspire people to continue a love the ocean and what resides within.

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Hook Introduction: Macabre Author Stephanie Ayers

Hey all, just in time for Halloween for all my readers of the scary variety, here is some information on a new set of short stories, The 13: Tales of Macabre by Stephanie Ayers. I don’t know Stephanie, but I am always willing to help a lady of horror fiction out. Please note I’ve yet to read her work myself, so consider this an introduction to us both. Check out her stories, her bio, and if you read all the way below about various “five fast things” she likes in certain categories, you may even be surprised she likes horror. I’m much the same way, very well-rounded! Might I suggest you at least consider adding her collections to your GoodReads? If killer watermelons don’t grab you I don’t know what will!!

Best of luck, Stephanie!

The 13 Duo DeskThe 13: Tales of Macabre

Killer watermelons, murderous jewelry boxes, centenarian sea whisperers, creatures of myth/legend, and more…

This supernatural story collection will make you reconsider everything you thought you knew. At night you’ll hover under your covers while looking over your shoulder in the day. Down, down in the depths they fell; bodies in the dark of a liquid hell.

Can you survive all 12?

From the thrilling author of Til Death Do Us Part and The 13: Tales of Illusory comes a second volume of twelve supernatural tales of ghosts, vampires, and things that go bump in the night.

Ayers Creative Concepts is very excited to announce the publication of The 13: Tales of Macabre by Stephanie Ayers. Her words will jump from the page and haunt you once the lights go out. They will make you look over your shoulder during the day. This second volume in The 13 series released on Friday, October 26, 2018.

You can learn more about Stephanie Ayers and The 13 by following along with the book blog tour which began on the author’s website (Growing Up Stephanie) on October 2, 1018.

Purchase –

Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/895641

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07H7ND2J4/

Universal eBook link https://www.books2read.com/u/3R1lAD

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41940897-the-13

Barnes & Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-13-stephanie-ayers/1129510194?ean=2940156116027

Steph

Stephanie Ayers, Biography –

A published author with a knack for twisted tales, Stephanie Ayers is a coffee guzzling, word whispering, world building creative ninja and unicorn living in Ohio disguised as a human. She mothers her children, loves her husband, attends church, and avoids all things housework and zombies. When she isn’t doing any of these things, she can be found stretching her creative wings designing book covers, promotional graphics, logos and more.

To learn more about this author visit Growing Up Stephanie or her Amazon Author Page (https://goo.gl/1jEeXN). 

Newsletter https://www.subscribepage.com/o6e0l9

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Ayers/e/B00H1XOA50

Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/stephanie-ayers

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomauthor_sam

Facebook Author Page https://www.facebook.com/theauthorSAM

Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/ayersstreetteam

Twitter https://twitter.com/theauthorSAM

Instagram https://instagram.com/iwrite_idesign

Website https://stephanieayersauthor.com

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCjXrvFvcGEKXcIWqi–CkQ

All Author http://stephanieayers.allauthor.com

Google + https://plus.google.com/u/0/109584376406882925640

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephanieayersauthor

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/theauthorSAM

A Few of My Favorite Things (Fast Five) –

Favorite Books: The Stand, Divergent, Through the Looking Glass, The Forgotten Garden, and Inkheart.

Favorite Songs: Anyway by Martina McBride, Chasing Cars by Soul Patrol, Dream On by Aerosmith, Cotton Eyed Joe by Rednex, Cake by the Ocean by DNCE

Favorite Movies: Hope Floats, Divine Secrets of the Yaya Sisterhood, The Messengers, The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins

Favorite Foods: pizza, pasta, ice cream, chips, second breakfasts

Favorite TV Shows: Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Law & Order SVU, The Voice, This Is Us

#HookofaBookIntroductions

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BREATHE. BREATHE. News and Sale!

Hi readers,

I hope you all have had a FABULOUSLY divine Christmas or Holiday Season and are looking forward to ringing in the New Year in style. Besides working and managing my children’s busy schedules, my family and I have been able to spend some time together finally too. I plan to hang out with Tim and the kids over the New Year holiday eating, watching movies, and playing games. Beyond that, I’m busy making a TON of goals for 2018 from all things personal to business to writing. I’m demanding a lot of myself in many areas.

One of the best parts of 2017 was publishing my poetry and short story collection, BREATHE. BREATHE. via Unnerving. I am beyond thrilled and grateful at the reception it’s received. It’s part biographical and trauma-based poetry seeped in real life, half supernatural and folkloric in nature, and then the short stories are a mix of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and domestic revenge, to put it as succinctly as possible. However, there is so much for everyone in this collection whether you’re a contemporary reader, a historical reader, a horror or suspense reader, or just a reader who likes to feel deeply. I’ll be writing a longer year-end wrap-up later, but for now….

I just wanted to let readers know that as a thank you for this fine two months that BREATHE. BREATHE. has had, the publisher Unnerving, has put it on SALE for just .99 cents until Dec. 31!! I’d be honored if you’d give it a try. Maybe you have an Amazon gift card to spend and can buy it for your kindle or share the news with a friend. Very soon, if not already, the print version should go on sale as well from $14 to $9!

With an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars, you can find it on sale on Amazon HERE.

Breathe Sale Un

I’d appreciate your support in a purchase or sharing with a friend or on social media. Feel free to use the graphic below if you’d like. THANK YOU. Your support means everything to me right now. We’ve had a rough year, and this…well, it just makes more hopeful.

As always, look forward to your thoughts on my writing, and don’t forget, authors thrive on the reviews you can leave, no matter how short and sweet.

Always in friendship,

Erin

 

About BREATHE. BREATHE.

BreatheBreatheBreathe. Breathe. is a collection of dark poetry and short fiction exploring the surreal depths of humanity. It’s a representation of how life breaks us apart and words put us back together. Purged onto the pages, dark emotions flow, urging readers into murky seas and grim forests, to the fine line between breathing and death.

In Act One, readers are presented with a serial killer in Victorian London, a lighthouse keeper with an eerie legacy, a murderous spouse that seems to have walked right out of a mystery novel, and a treacherous Japanese lady who wants to stay immortal. The heightened fears in the twilight of your minds will seep into the blackest of your nights, where you have to breathe in rhythm to stay alive.

In Act Two, the poetry turns more internal and pierces through the wall of denial and pain, bringing visceral emotions to the surface unleashing traumas such as domestic abuse, violence, and illness.

In the short stories, you’ll meet residents of Valhalla Lane whose lives are on a violent parallel track to collision, a man who is driven mad by the sound of a woodpecker, a teenage girl who wakes up on the beach and can’t find another soul in sight, a woman caught in a time shift pitting her against the Egyptian goddess Anuket, and a little girl whose whole world changes when her favorite dandelion yellow crayon is discontinued.

Amid these pages the haunting themes of oppression, isolation, revenge, and madness unfold through folklore, nightmares, and often times, raw, impulsive passion crafted to sear from the inside out.

With a touching foreword by the Bram Stoker nominated author Brian Kirk, Breathe. Breathe. will at times unsettle you, and at times embrace you. Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, a veteran writer and editor of the written word, offers up a mixed set of pieces, identifying her as a strong, new voice in dark fiction that will tear the heart from your chest, all the while reminding you to breathe.

 

PRAISE for BREATHE. BREATHE.

“Erin paints scenes and evokes emotions with precision and skill. These are the kinds of stories and poems that tighten your chest and leave you holding your breath.” – The Scary Reviews

“Breathe. Breathe. is as honest and raw as writing gets. Erin bares her soul with these poems, particularly during Act 2 in which the verses take on a much more personal and reflective nature.” -The Grim Reader

“Breathe. Breathe. is a great collection of poetry and short fiction. The poems are dark and vivid. They touch at the core of the human condition. The poems are gritty and chilling. You can feel the doom and dread in each of the poems. Breathe. Breathe. is an emotional rollercoaster. The characters are troubled, and the author gives them just enough depth.” – Cedar Hollow Reviews

“I am certain many readers {and not only female} will find themselves breathing shallower, or holding their breath, as the vividness of these scenes awakens memories. Other readers who may not have these particular types of painful memories, will nonetheless wince in empathy. I am equally certain very few will walk away untouched, and very few will forget.” -The Haunted Reading Room

“Raw, risky, and brave.” – Selcouth Station

“I feel the poems are at their best when folkloric in nature – I particularly like “Ningyo’s Misfortune”, “The Driftwood of Wishes”, and “Offerings to Nang Tani”. The short stories “Destination: Valhalla Lane Loveless, Ohio” and “Life-Giver of the Nile” are both clever and brutal, and the standout.” – Julie K. Rose, author of Oleanna and Dido’s Crown

“Wow. This collection really leaves bruises on the soul. I’m not a huge fan of poetry, yet, I found myself glued to the words and emotions pouring out of this author. The short stories were great too. My favorite was “Lunch Served at Noon”, as it had a Twilight Zone-ish quality to it. To fans of dark literary fiction and poetry, I recommend giving Breathe. Breathe. a try.” – Tim Meyer, author of Sharkwater Beach

“At times sinister, definitely dark, atmospheric and heavy with foreboding, this collection of poetry and short stories from Erin Al Mehairi touches our deepest fears. Murder, domestic violence and even an ancient Egyptian goddess all move within these pages where nothing is ever simple or straightforward.” – Catherine Cavendish, author of Wrath of the Ancients

It’s full of the unexpected – bits of lace cut through with the odd and the horrible and the beautiful. Through it all I sense the power of a survivor!! And I love that!” —Sue Harrison, internationally bestselling author of Mother Earth Father Sky (Ivory Carver Trilogy) “Breathe. Breathe. is at times haunting, visceral, bittersweet, and tender. Erin Al Mehairi bares her soul and invites readers to devour it whole.” —Hunter Shea, author of We Are Always Watching “Erin Al-Mehairi weaves a web of narrative and poetry both beautiful and nightmare-inducing in Breathe. Breathe., invoking heartache and the need to see through the shining masks life presents us to confront the darkness it truly holds.” —Michelle Garza, co-author of Bram Stoker nominated Mayan Blue

“I loved Dandelion Yellow.  I was hyperventilating at the end, but it was such a beautiful, painful and artful tale. I’ll be saying that last line to myself for weeks at least. Just beautiful.  I’m re-reading the rest.  One read just isn’t enough because DAYUM.  Beautiful.” –  Somer Canon, author of Vicki Beautiful and The Killer Chronicles

“In Breathe. Breathe., Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi employs sharp, jagged words arranged in sparse, disturbingly visceral clusters to force readers to “breathe” through the fear and pain of abuse and personal terror. It’s a sense reinforced by the deceptively quiet but disquieting story, “Dandelion Yellow.” Filled with sharp sensory detail, the highlight is “Life-Giver of the Nile,” an evocative circular time-shift tale in which an Egyptologist’s soul is required by Anuket, ancient and modern goddess of the Nile, for a greater purpose. Whether in poetry or prose, dark kernels nestled within horror tropes indicate that Al-Mehairi writes from the gut and from the heart but with the fierceness of a survivor, the soul of a fearless champion. This mixed collection is a fine introduction to a strong, intriguing new voice in dark fiction.” -W.D. Gagliani, Bram Stoker Finalist, author of Wolf’sTrap (Nick Lupo Series)

Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, Biography –

Erin Al-Mehairi Bio Photo.jpgErin Sweet Al-Mehairi has Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Journalism, and History. She has 20 years of experience in the communication and marketing fields and is currently a writer, a journalist, a publicist, and an editor among many other things.

She writes fiction, essays, stories, and poetry and is an avid reader of many genres. She has edited poetry anthologies, novels, fiction pieces, and other various non-fiction and journalistic pieces. As a journalist, she’s written, interviewed, and edited for various newspapers, magazines, media outlets, and online news sources at both ends of the spectrum in media and public relations.

As an entrepreneur, she owns two businesses: Addison’s Compass Public Relations and Hook of a Book Media, in which she acts as a PR/Marketing Consultant, publicist, and editor for authors, publishers, and others. She also handles marketing and PR for Sinister Grin Press, where she is also an editor. Her third pursuit is writing her own works for publication. She volunteers her time in the community and is the chairwoman on the board of directors for a local mental health center and rape crisis and domestic violence safe haven.

She is the mother of three school-aged children and a cat. She lives with her family in rural Ohio nestled in the forest—a place just ripe for nightmares. Her passions are reading, writing, book hunting, hiking, and entertainment such as movies/film, television, and music. Oh, and she bakes, because you can’t do any of that without cookies.

Erin is a co-host with her Marketing Morsels segment on Project Entertainment Network’s The Mando Method, an award-winning weekly podcast for new and veteran writers.

Breathe. Breathe., published by Unnerving, is her debut collection and a mix of dark poetry and short stories and has been an Amazon best-selling paid title, debuting at #2 in Women’s Poetry. She is also featured in the anthology from Unnerving called Hardened Hearts, which published in December 2017. Her story “Dandelion Yellow,” from Breathe. Breathe. is also featured in the My Favorite Story anthology of the Project Entertainment Network, which published also in December of 2017.

You can e-mail her at hookofabook (at) hotmail (dot) com and find her easily at http://www.hookofabook.wordpress.com. You’ll also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest where she loves new friends.

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Review: The Enemies of Versailles Sweeps You Away

Today I have a review of Sally Christie’s The Enemies of Versailles, Book Three in her Mistresses of Versailles series. I love historical fiction based on French history. The more drama and intrigue, the better. Throw in the French Revolution and I start humming music from Les Miserables. Keep scrolling for my review and watch later this month for a guest article from Sally in my Women in History Month series.

02_The Enemies of Versailles

Review –

I love the descriptive writing of historical author Sally Christie! I missed out on reading book one in her Mistresses of Versailles series, but once I read book two last year I was hooked. You can see my past review of The Rivals of Versailles (book two) HERE. I really believe you can read each one as a stand alone, but it’s a great series to read together as well.

Yesterday, March 21, 2017, the third book in her lush French fiction series published. The Enemies of Versailles continued on a tradition of “being seeped in reading” for me last weekend, the sentences so smooth and delicate, yet filled with emotion and substance, that I breezed through it in no time. I needed swept away to another place, no matter how unconventional, for a short time and the novel certiainly gave me that escape. This is a hallmark of quality writing, the type of such I aspire to acheiving.

I love how Sally focuses her novel around protagonists that are female and fiesty, hustling in rags to decadent gowns sometimes to forward their life. The Enemies of Versailles sees Jeanne Becu go from back streets to the palace in eighteenth century France – a France not far from a Revolution.

Sally makes her female characters shine. If you didn’t think you could fall any more in love with the next mistress of the King, you do. Another steals your heart in a way that plausibly you don’t even think should happen. Somehow she endears us as readers to these women by giving them strong, vibrant personalities under a surface innocent-like quality. Sally created Jeanne in a manner in which she blazens up the page with her light-heartedness. It’s apparent Jeanne gave Louis XV a new sense of normalcy to readers that is genuinely lost otherwise, and especially after book two in my opinion, and she remains true to herself even as the people surrounding her at court are nothing less than monsters. However, the intrigue that the book displays as we see the drama unfold creates a desire to turn pages quickly.

Madame du Barry is the focus of the book, but this time around, Sally does juxtapose chapters between her and Adelaide, the daughter of King Louise XV. I suppose that Adelaide is the villan in that she persecutes du Barry in her mind as well as outwardly. We see a poor woman’s rise to court paralled with a woman who has known luxury throughout her life. We see the extravagent nature of this time, spiraling in increasing fashion out of control, and why it led to the horrific revolution. We even get to see Marie Antoinette in this book, and I was thrilled, as she’s one of my favorite historical people to read about. The reasons for the uprising, even though we all know them, are made evident in this novel, and we see the desecration of the royal family. However, this happens all the while as we still focus on the emotions and action of the female characters at the heart of the story.

In the spirit of author Juliet Grey/Leslie Carroll, Sally Christie has brought readers an excellent series of historical fiction sprinkled with beautiful sentences and scenes ripe with descriptions so as if you are living right there in the moment. The Enemies of Versailles is the best of the three. I can’t wait to see what else she writes in the future. I’ll be one of the first in line. Highly recommended!

02_The Enemies of VersaillesThe Enemies of Versailles by Sally Christie

Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Atria Books
eBook & Paperback; 416 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: The Mistresses of Versailles, Book Three

In the final installment of Sally Christie’s “tantalizing” (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress.

“That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute is quite another kettle of fish.”

After decades of suffering the King’s endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility’s concerns.

Told in Christie’s witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches irrevocable change.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Kobo

Praise for The Sisters of Versailles

“Such an extraordinary tale makes for compelling reading and, as the lead book in a planned trilogy, will draw in readers who are interested in royal lives before the French Revolution….historical fiction fans, unfamiliar with the history of the Nesle sisters, will be intrigued.” (Library Journal)

“Sally Christie’s The Sisters of Versailles is an intriguing romp through Louis XV’s France. Filled with lush backdrops, rich detail, and colorful characters, fans of historical fiction will enjoy this glimpse into the lost golden era of the French monarchy.” (Allison Pataki, author of THE ACCIDENTAL EMPRESS )

“A stunning breadth of period detail, offered in a fresh, contemporary voice.” (Juliet Grey, author of the acclaimed Marie Antoinette trilogy )

“Tantalizing descriptions and cliff-hangers will leave the reader rapidly turning the pages in anticipation… A wickedly delightful read.” (New York Daily News)

03_Sally Christie_AuthorSally Christie, Biography

Sally Christie is the author of The Sisters of VersaillesThe Rivals of Versailles, and The Enemies of Versailles. She was born in England and grew up around the world, attending eight schools in three different languages. She spent most of her career working in international development and currently lives in Toronto.

Visit SallyChristieAuthor.com to find out more about Sally and the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy.

You can also find her on FacebookGoodreads, and Amazon.

Giveaway!!!

Five copies of The Enemies of Versailles are up for grabs during the blog tour! To enter, please see the Gleam form below:

Direct Link: https://gleam.io/ZjDGW/enemies-of-versailles

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

04_The Enemies of Versailles_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

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Hashtags: #EnemiesofVersaillesBlogTour #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #Giveaway

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @AtriaBooks

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UK Book Blast: UK Release Of Nancy Bilyeau’s The Chalice!!

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For my readers in the UK, check out the details of Nancy Bilyeau’s paperback release!! If you missed it last year, get it now without delay. Nancy is a favorite of mine!! 🙂 US readers, watch for the news coming next month! Please note that the covers are different in the UK and the US!

The Chalice, Details and Synopsis~

Author: Nancy Bilyeau
Paperback Publication Date: February 13, 2014
Orion Publishing
Paperback; 432p
ISBN-13: 978-1409135807
Series: Joanna Stafford, Book Two
Genre: Historical Mystery

20140217-204824.jpgA curse to kill a king, a fight to save a nation. Follow young Joanna Stafford right into the dark heart of King Henry VIII’s court in this stunning Tudor thriller.
England, 1538. The nation is reeling after the ruthless dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII.

Cast out of Dartford Priory, Joanna Stafford – feisty, courageous, but scarred by her recent encounter with rebellion at court – is trying to live a quiet life with her five-year-old charge, Arthur. But family connections draw her dangerously close to a treasonous plot and, repelled by violence and the whispered conspiracies around her, Joanna seeks a life with a man who loves her. But, no matter how hard she tries, she cannot escape the spreading darkness of her destiny. She must make a choice between those she cares for most, and taking her part in a mysterious prophecy foretold by three compelling seers.
Joanna embarks upon a testing journey, and, as she deciphers the meaning at the core of the prophecy, she learns that the fate of a king and the freedom of a nation rest in her hands.

Praise for The Chalice
“Expect treason, treachery, martyrs and more.” — Choice magazine

“A time in which no one at all can be trusted and everyday life is laced with horror. Bilyeau paints this picture very, very well.” — Reviewing the Evidence

“Bilyeau creates the atmosphere of 1530s London superbly.” — Catholic Herald

“Bilyeau continues from her first novel the subtle, complex development of Joanna Stafford’s character and combines that with a fast-paced, unexpected plot to hold the reader’s interest on every page. — Historical Novel Society

“Joanna Stafford is a young novice caught up in power struggles familiar to readers of Hilary Mantel and C.J. Sansom, but with elements of magic that echo the historical thrillers of Kate Mosse.” — S.J. Parris, author of ‘Heresy,’ ‘Prophecy’ and ‘Sacrilege’

“Second in this compelling and highly readable Tudor thriller series following the 16th century adventures of (now cast out) nun Joanna Stafford. Treason, conspiracies and a dangerous prophecy draw Joanna back from the quiet life she had made for herself after being cast out of Dartford Priory – but she isn’t prepared for the gravity of the situation she finds herself in or the responsibility she now holds. Nancy Bilyeau has followed up her impressive debut with an accomplished historical thriller perfect for fans of C. J. Sansom, Philippa Gregory and S. J. Parris.” — Lovereading UK

“Sharply observed, cleverly paced and sympathetically written, this book more than fulfils the promise of THE CROWN, itself named as last year’s most impressive debut novel by the CWA Ellis Peters judges. If Joanna Stafford is to return to see out the final years of Henry’s tempestuous reign and the accession of his Catholic daughter Mary, I am sure I will not be alone in waiting eagerly for her.” — crimereview.co.uk

“A stunning debut. One of the best historical novels I have ever read — ALISON WEIR

THE CHALICE offers a fresh, dynamic look into Tudor England’s most powerful, volatile personalities: Henry VIII, the Duke of Norfolk, Stephen Gardiner and Bloody Mary Tudor. Heroine and former nun Joanna Stafford is beautiful, bold and in lethal danger. Bilyeau writes compellingly of people and places that demand your attention and don’t let you go even after the last exciting page” — KAREN HARPER, bestselling author of MISTRESS OF MOURNING

“Rarely have the terrors of Henry VIII’s reformation been so exciting. Court intrigue, bloody executions, and haunting emotional entanglements create a heady brew of mystery and adventure that sweeps us from the devastation of the ransacked cloisters to the dangerous spy centers of London and the Low Countries, as ex-novice Joanna Stafford fights to save her way of life and fulfill an ancient prophecy, before everything she loves is destroyed.” — C.W. GORTNER, author of THE QUEEN’S VOW

“Bilyeau paints a moving portrait of Catholicism during the Reformation and of reclusive, spiritual people adjusting to the world outside the cloister. This intriguing and suspenseful historical novel pairs well with C. J. Sansom’s Dissolution (2003) and has the insightful feminine perspective of Brenda Rickman Vantrease’s The Heretic’s Wife (2010).” — BOOKLIST

“As in The Crown, Bilyeau’s writing style means that the story reads almost flawlessly. The narrative really makes the reader throw themselves into the story, and makes it so the book is really difficult to put down. I was really very impressed with Bilyeau’s writing (As I was in The Crown), and honestly can’t recommend this book highly enough.” — LOYALTY BINDS ME

“THE CHALICE is a compelling and pacey time machine to the 16th Century. And when you’re returned to the present, you’ll have enjoyed an adventure and gained a new perspective on a past you’d wrongly thought to be a done deal.” — Andrew Pyper, author of THE DEMONOLOGIST

“The Chalice is a gripping, tightly-plotted mystery, with a beguiling heroine at its heart, that vividly conjures up the complex dangers of Reformation England. Bilyeau’s deftness of touch and complete control over her complex material make for a truly exciting and compelling read.”— ELIZABETH FREMANTLE author of QUEEN’S GAMBIT

“THE CHALICE is brimming with sinister portents, twisted allegiances, religious superstition and political intrigue. It’s a darkly fascinating Tudor brew that leaves you thirsting for more.” — PATRICIA BRACEWELL, author of SHADOW ON THE CROWN

Watch the Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oh3KzykQR0&feature=player_embedded

Buy the Book
Amazon UK
Book Depository
Orion Publishing
Waterstones

Nancy Bilyeau, Biography~

20140217-204317.jpgNancy Bilyeau has worked on staff at InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Ladies Home Journal. She is currently the executive editor of DuJour magazine. Her screenplays have placed in several prominent industry competitions. Two scripts reached the semi-finalist round of the Nicholl Fellowships of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Her screenplay “Zenobia” placed with the American Zoetrope competition, and “Loving Marys” reached the finalist stage of Scriptapalooza. A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. THE CROWN, her first novel, was published in 2012; the sequel, THE CHALICE, followed in 2013.

Some earlier milestones: In 1661, Nancy’s ancestor, Pierre Billiou, emigrated from France to what was then New Amsterdam when he and his family sailed on the St. Jean de Baptiste to escape persecution for their Protestant beliefs. Pierre built the first stone house on Staten Island and is considered the borough’s founder. His little white house is on the national register of historic homes and is still standing to this day.

Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

Author Links~

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Goodreads

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Happy New Year from Hook of a Book: Thoughts for 2014! #books

snoopy new yearReaders, Writers, Authors, Friends: Happy New Year 2014! I wish you all much love, peace, success, and plenty of reading for this new year. Always a fan of new beginnings, renewals, and starting fresh, the ushering in of January 1 always finds me reflecting on my past year and deciding what I can improve upon or work towards changing. What are you goals for this year for reading or writing? For your career or family? I’d love to hear.

In fact, one of my goals is to get you all conversing more with me here on my blog and on my Facebook pages. If you like to talk books, a great place to go other than my blog is www.facebook.com/HookofaBook or catch me on Twitter at @ErinAlMehairi.

I hope to finally get more head-way on the 4 books and 2 novellas or short stories I have in process so I can make time for the list of ideas for more novels and stories. I am obsessed with finding more time to write. So many of you have had plenty of advice on this, but when it comes down to it, with our life and family and my career and reading, I just haven’t made the time. And honestly, it takes me being a little more stress free to be able to write creatively. I envy the author friends I know who write productively, even better, while under stress. I do that in my marketing and journalism work as deadline writing is what I do, but not fiction. And honestly, for some of my books, the research does consume some of the free time.

At any rate, I’ve had the pleasure in my personal business, Addison’s Compass Public Relations, to work with many interesting people over the last four years. I’ve been working to take on more writing work to end out 2013, as well as add services for authors. My desire is for all authors to see that they are a BRAND, and therefore, must educate the public on their brand. I feel I need to go where my passions lie, so for me that is books, travel, photography, food, history, family, and health. It’s what I hope to write about and market for 2014.

With Hook of a Book, I have some great interviews coming up in the next couple months, a Facebook author party in the planning stages and to be announced, some pre-reading, editing, and marketing projects, and a whole bunch of reviews of books I’ve read but haven’t written about yet. Also, I’m super excited for some books to come out that I’ve had some sort of hand in, whether that be editing or pre-reading! You’re going to love them, I think! I LOVE to see a book come to life!

In addition, I’m looking for guest articles from authors, writers, and those in the business of books as well, so if you know anyone, spread the word! I also have some other plans that I am percolating in regards to Hook of a Book, so be sure to stay tuned.

This month of January, I’m going to try to write some Top Lists of 2013 posts. I’ve always wanted to make time to put some of those out and spread more love about the authors and books I enjoy!

My family had quite the year, with so many changes where at times it seemed nothing might go right. I am hoping that since I stayed positive most of the time, then 2014 will come out on the UP end! I am wishing the same for all of you!

It gives me great joy to read and talk about books and to be a part of many writing friendships. Drop me a line anytime at hookofabook(at)hotmail(dot)com if you have anything you’d like to discuss or just want to say hi!

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Merry Christmas and Joyous Season to Everyone: What Books Did You Get?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays (which includes if you are having a holiday such as a vacation)! I hope you have been enjoying the magic and love of the season, no matter what you have going on in your life, how you celebrate, or if you have to work.  Whatever you case is in life at the moment, I hope you have had or get to enjoy some time to relax. It’s the small moments that count and the memories that last.

Merry Christmas sign

I’ve been spending a lot of time with my kids while they are on break from school. We had a wonderful Christmas and we are enjoying our holiday time connecting with each other. To me, this is the most important thing in my life, so I’ve not blogged, put most work and writing aside, and limited my time to them. It’s why my holiday message to you, readers and friends, is somewhat delayed! I’ve been busy baking, reading, cuddling, making bracelets, coloring with Sharpies, and playing with Monster High dolls.

I do wish all of you much joy, happiness, and love during the hustle and bustle of this end of the year time. I hope you are taking precious moments to enjoy your kids or grandkids, give to those less fortunate, count your blessings and think on your positives. I hope you embrace the feelings that come from having a heart two sizes too big.

We have some special traditions that I look forward to every year. The kids and I have been busy baking sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies. The latter we make from my great-grandma Emma Bryan’s recipe, which is hundreds of years old. We talked about our ancestors and connected to our past as we rolled the dough. We talked of our past and of our futures together. We made wonderful memories. We recorded our cooking baking process on Instagram (Erin Al-Mehairi) and Twitter (@ErinAlMehairi). The pictures are really cute if you want to check them out.

We also have watched our Christmas favorites on Netflix and on DVD, such as The Muppet Christmas Carol, Rise of the Guardians, Peanuts All I Want for Christmas is a Dog to name a few, and some other movies for fun as well. We made homemade hot chocolate that simmered all day and then drank it while we watched The Polar Express. We’ve cooked together our favorite foods, decorated our tree and remembered each memory from almost each ornament we pulled out, and read books such as The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (Nassem read to his sisters and me in his best Grinch voice), The Nutcracker, and Madeline’s Christmas. We read of the birth of Jesus and set-up our Nativity scenes under the tree.

And not to be forgotten, we are excited each year to write letters to Santa and put them in the red Macy’s mailbox under the BELIEVE meter, pick out a Yes, Virginia ornament to hang on the tree, then hang our past Virginia ornaments while watching the Yes, Virginia animated story. Happily, Netflix streams this favorite version. Next year, I think I’ll splurge for the picture book.

We’ve had a great time carving out special minutes together. I know when they are older this will be what they will remember, not any high-priced gift that quits working or goes obsolete in a year. Listening to the Nutcracker Ballet while hanging ornaments and eating homemade cookies will be what they tell their own kids that they did each Christmas. I hope they even pass down our traditions to their families.

I hope that you are having a wonderful holiday as well. What are your Christmas traditions? Have you made time for reading like us? Did you get any good books for Christmas? Feel free to leave your comments below! I’d love to hear.

In the meantime, I’ll be reading and working on catching up on all the Fall reviews I owe (I really own a huge backlog), some great new ones for January, and some super interviews I have coming up!

Love to you and yours! And I’ll be back with more posts soon!

Kids making cookies

Baking and Frosting Gingerbread People!

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Wicked Read-a-Thon: Updates and Views

I got up late this morning, when everyone else went to church. I was up too late trying to beat this congestion and also reading. I didn’t mind too much staying up to read though, of course. This is my first update, even though it is only Sunday. I spent too much time on Twitter with lovely book friends and posting challenges!! It wouldn’t change it though, it was fun and we all had the best intentions of getting more read, right? But you know us, we’d read no matter what anyway and it was just the talking about reading and chatting about books on Twitter that was the important part!

As I stated in previous posts, we’ve been doing it as a family affair. I’m 100 pages into House of Vampires by Samantha Rendle, a new teenage author found by Silverwoods Press and I have a blog review, interview, and give-a-way on my site coming up next week for the book.  I am also 150 pages into Shauna and Shelby Kitt and the Dimensional Holes by P.H.C. Marchesi, which is a sci-fi adventure full of lots of fun with parallel existence and other races. This will be featured on my site soon too. I’m also a few chapters in to Vanished by Sheela Chari, another magical and mystery oriented YA book I picked up at the library. It’s newly published. All are good in different ways and for different reasons.

 

 

 

 

 

My son has read Jefferson’s Sons, an over 300 page YA book of historical fiction about Thomas Jefferson (a founding father of the US) who had many sons and daughters with one of his slaves after the death of his wife. He thought it was very good, for a boy of 12 who says he “only reads adult non-fiction.” I’ve gotten him motivated to finally read some of the great YAs out there, but of course it has to still be historical in nature.

My better half, Tim (www.timbusbey.wordpress.com) is most of the way through The Bone House by Stephen R. Lawhead. He loves this books with the coding and ciphers. It’s the second in the series. I’m sure he’ll review at some point on his blog. The other book he is reading is End-Time Visions: The Road to Armageddon by Richard Abanes. I’m sure he is reading this non-fiction for research, as Tim is halfway through writing the first draft of his own thriller novel.

Now about the girls, Emma (my 8-year-old)  has a post-it-note up on her wall and she is updating her reading. She’s got a list of picture book type books of all genres that she’s read, or read to her little 4-year-old sister Addie. We have more to read today together too. Emma has also made progress on some chapter and YA books. I’ll save those for the wrap-up because I’m running out of time typing this blog. 🙂

I’ll hopefully post the challenge about photos describing the books you’ve read during the RAT later today. Sounds like fun! If you want more information, go here: http://www.thebookmonsters.com/2011/10/wickedly-wonderful-readathon-mini.html and thanks to The Book Monsters for having the mini-challenge.

We are all having fun reading as we usually do, but I think I am having the most fun visiting the other blogs and meeting all these fabulous new book friends from around the world! Amazing how books can bring so many together. I’ve had lots of fun Tweeting (#WWReadathon) and getting to know everyone.

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Kate Mosse’s “The Winter Ghosts” is Book Made of Legend

One of my favorite writers is historical fiction author Kate Mosse. The review for this blog will be on her most recent book, “The Winter Ghosts,” but I’ll be talking about Kate too. I not only love to read and review books, I like to give you a glimpse into the authors as well. Maybe it is the journalist side of me still coming out, but I love to do features on people and authors are a great choice.

I first came across Mosse with her book “Sepulchre” and absolutely loved it (too bad I didn’t have the blog set-up then!). In fact it is one of my favorite books. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it highly. She became first well-known in 2005 with “Labryrinth” when it became an international bestseller and was the top selling book in the UK that year. It and “Sepulchre” are books in the Languedoc Trilogy. The final book in this series, “Citadel” will be published this year and I can’t tell you how excited I am for its debut!

Her writing style intrigues me. It is not only extraordinarily precise writing, with astounding historical details and fine tuned characters, but they leave you feeling an eerie haunting. Not really in a horror sort of way, but more like it delved into your soul and left part of itself there. She is a literary genius and should be commended for her work, which by the way she is. Besides winning numerous awards, she is also co-founder and honorary director of the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction.  She writes fiction, non-fiction (Becoming a Mother, The House: Behind the Scenes at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden), literary novels, short stories, articles, columns for many publications, and is a well-known British television and radio guest.  She is a friendly soul and lives in both England and southwest France.

Her latest book “The Winter Ghosts” is quite short compared to “The Labyrinth” and “The Sepulchre” but still delivers a superb story based on her own area of France and an ancient mystery surrounding the area. According to information about the book from her publisher (Putnam, Penguin Group) Mosse had come across a shocking, lesser known legend about the Cathar people in the Languedoc region in France circa 1328. Apparently involving entombment and mass execution of the last of these people, it lingered in her mind and she turned the history and tale into a mystery story that also includes her main character, Freddie Watson, as he lingers into the area in the last 1920s mourning the loss of his brother to World War 1.

World War 1 (1914-1918) took a toll on the people of Britain and France. Mosse entertwines this struggle for family and friends remained into her story by opening it with Freddie in 1928, who is still struggling over a brother lost to the war and his family’s turmoil stemming from it. As he is trying to find some solace from this mind struggle, he is traveling through the French Pyrenees. Mosse really takes time to build the character of Freddie and let’s us amble with him while he finds his way. Getting caught up in what seems to be another time period, we are unsure as to what is happening and if the people around him are truly real.  This creates the spooky element and gives the books its air of supernatural.

As he finds true love in a woman named Fabrissa who seems to be real to him, yet not exist to others, he follows the trail to another time, another people, and finds that her spirit was truly with him all along.  He most certainly redeems them from their loss and is overwhelmed by this redemption not only of these “ghosts,” but of himself and his life as well.

Great story that will surprise and touch you in the end. Definately worth a read. It didn’t propel me to frantically turn each page, and it is not suspenseful, but I did wish to finish it to find out how his confusion and turmoil come to have a life of their own. The book had great character development and historical detail.  After reading it once, I realized I would want to read it again based on the knowledge I had from reading it the first time. The folklore spun within this book is very inviting.

For more information, go to www.katemosse.com.

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Q and A with Authors, Starting with ME!

**Please note**This is from 2011! I can hardly believe it. Time to update!**

Since doing the Red River Writers BlogTalkRadio show, Dellani’s Tea Time yesterday, I decided to go ahead and post my questions and answers to inquiries about me and writing and about my book series. Some of these were talked about on the show. I think these answers will give great insight into me for anyone that is curious.

Introducing Erin Al-Mehairi, author of this blog and aspiring author:

I am a mother of 3 young children in mid-Ohio. My fiancé Tim Busbey and I own a writing and public relations business that we work out of our home called Addison’s Compass Public Relations and a fine art nature photography business called Breathe Beauty Art and Photography. We are both coming back to our dreams of being creative writers and I am working on my first children’s book series as well as my poetry, and he is halfway through his adult religious history thriller. If you want to know more about me, click on the tab at the top of the blog.

When did you start writing?

I remember writing all through childhood. I won a local children’s writing contest in my tween years; it was a Christmas essay contest in our local newspaper. I wrote stories, essays, lots of poetry and have always been an avid reader. I was mentored and encouraged by many of my English teachers from elementary on. I became engrossed in Journalism in high school and then obtained a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and English (as well as History) from Ashland University. I was mentored by many fabulous and distinguished English teachers and edited for the university group Poetry Press. I was encouraged in my writing by one of the most phenomenal Journalism and English professors ever, Dr. Daniel Lehman. I was always writing articles and essays, many times about children in my life or causes that laid on my heart. I continued this writing in various forms along with my newspaper articles for the college paper. During and directly after college, I kept up with my poetry. In 2002 I took a job in public relations and for the next 7 years wrote consistently technical and newsletter type articles, as well as copy writing for web and advertising. I was so busy working so many hours a week that I lost my time for creative writing, and in many ways lost myself. I was in an abusive marriage and trying to raise 2 children. In 2004, I left my marriage. Later on I met the man who is my world today. In 2007, I was pregnant with my third child and though a joy for us together, I was also very ill with both pulmonary and fighting several autoimmune diseases. Taking a risk in hopes of getting my life back, I quit my job. The last year and half at home with my children, while doing freelance article and copy writing and photography, has allowed me to take the long and healing journey back to writing creatively, reading, art, and photography. I’ve come back to myself and it feels really good. I think if I hadn’t done this, hadn’t rid myself of all that way tying me down, I would never have been quiet enough in my mind for my children’s book idea to percolate and summon me. I am so happy to be writing again!

How did you know you wanted to be a writer?

 I don’t know if there was ever really one special moment. I’ve always read and I’ve always written. If there was paper in front of me, and a little time, my pencil would move and create poetry without me even trying. It would move and create essays and stories on children and or nature. I’m excited to say that in the past 6 months, my pencil has been moving that way on paper again. I think it is something that possesses me without me even deciding to do it. Writing isn’t something I decided to do, it is just something that is me.

What gave you the idea for your first book?

I always knew I wanted to write a children’s book, but never had a specific idea. As I began turning my love for fine art nature and historical photography (and repurposing old wooden furniture) into a business while being home with my children, who are 11, 7 and 3, for the past almost 2 years, my creative juices seemed to start working. Before the winter (winter of 2010/2011) we went on many long walks around the older parts of the neighborhood, taking photo pieces of historic houses, an abandoned train depot, old barns and doors and windows. We wanted to know the history behind those places. As we had these mini-adventures and I watched the interactions of the kids, especially those between my two young daughters, my idea sprang to mind. My daughters are opposite personalities and that can become really hilarious at times. I saw using their personalities for humor in the book, while some of our adventures and photographs gave me ideas for the plot of the books.

What is your latest release?

Continuing on with my last answer, I’m just in the starting phase of my book series. I am writing a fiction novel for young first or second graders with two young girls as the main characters, slightly modeled after my own two girls. I had spent time listening to their conversations and I really saw how different their interests are and how unique it makes each of them. And it came to me, I could write a book stemming loosely from their relationship. A 7 to 9-year-old girl who is girly, yet likes sparkly skulls, black, jeans, art, mystery, pop songs, and is super subdued unless spiked by her sister compared to a girl age 3 to 5 who is the total princess package including pink and more pink, dresses, dance and ballet, classical music and song who is really confident. Stemming from their personalities, I’ve come up with the name Monster Princess and Little Diva. My rough outline of the entire series includes the girls having to move with their single mother to a new town and/or state in New England. Since Mom is very busy, the girls start to head-off for walks and in each book of the series, they end up at an old building or house or area. There they find a special item that transports them into an adventure or chaotic happening where they are able to help the people they encounter. For instance, when they find a paintbrush, they are transported into a world they enter that is all one color. They will be able to use the magic brush to show the people how to put color into their lives, embracing diversity. The moral of the story is to embrace the many different “colors” of life. Another story has them helping a cupcake store who has no sugar because a naughty squirrel has stolen and hoarded it. The moral is about sharing.

What age group are your books intended for?

I had wanted to write a hardcover picture book and I think that is because of my love for art as well. I’ve always been an avid collector of picture books for children. Finding a first printing of an old Madeline book in a used book store was so exciting for me! I see just how Monster Princess and Little Diva would look in a book and how cute they would be. However, for right now for my own books I’m trending toward doing the series first for about a first or second grade level. I may take the characters up in age a few years from my own in order to gain the first grade audience. I want to make a book for that age that takes the readers into a different type of adventure that is outside the box, outside of the normal school related adventures that seem to saturate the market. What made you decide to write books for children? As I mentioned before, I think just my own love for children’s books of any age and watching my own children grow up. When I see children’s books, I fall in love. I want to create one to make children’s happy about reading. My daughters are very excited about my series and when I see the gleam in their eyes, I hope that other children might get that too.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your work?

I think just learning what age my characters should be to relate to certain readers. Even children of the same age are at all different reading levels. For the first half of the school year I went every Tuesday for over 2 hours to listen and help the first graders in my daughter’s class read individually. The reading levels were all over the place. Beyond that, my main challenges are fitting the writing into my schedule with 3 kids and finding quiet time to write. I must have quiet to be able to think or I don’t even know what I’m typing!!

What experiences have inspired you?

Certainly, the experiences with my children and in my art and photography hobby and work have inspired me with the story. Sometimes when you look at art or a photograph you can either see it as a flat surface, a flat perception, or you can look FURTHER into the photograph and begin to think about might be behind the door, behind the scene, behind the history. I love to come up with stories that lead you from that first flat look. My illness and other life hardships have inspired me to remember that life is short and we must spend the time with those we love, doing what we love. Otherwise, why live?

What other authors/ artists have influenced you?

Dandi Daley Mackall (www.dandibooks.com) is a children’s author who has inspired me since I was young. She lives in my area and is a friend who I have always looked up to from the moment I met her. She has written over 400 books while living a simple life in rural Ohio. She writes because she loves to do it and she writes wonderful books with great moral guidelines for children. In my talks with her, I’ve really been encouraged to want to be a children’s writer myself. I’ve also always enjoyed the writing and art in Jan Brett’s books. Growing up, and even still, I enjoyed Madeline L’Engle, Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis, and all the Grimm Fairy Tales. Right now I really like Victoria Kann, who writes the Pinkalicious series.

Do you find that you “collect” people? In other words, you meet or see someone who eventually finds their way into a book?

I think we first learn about attributes people have from someone we may have encountered in our real lives. Of course with the main characters being molded after my daughters’, I suppose I’ve done that. Do you have any advice to aspiring authors/ illustrators? Don’t be afraid that you can’t write or don’t have the time. Give yourself some quiet time to discover your creative side. If you can only write 15 minutes most days, then that is at least a start. Just write for yourself first. Everyone should make their dreams a priority and not feel they are being selfish. There are many more opportunities out there today for anyone who wants to write.

Tell us about your publication journey.

I’ve just started so I haven’t found a publisher yet, or even looked that much into publishing. I want to get my story out on paper right now since my main motivation is to tell the story. Then I pray the publishing comes. I want to create a legacy for my children.

Please share with our listeners where they can purchase your book(s).

Of course I don’t have a book done yet, but you can follow my journey on writing and read my book reviews of books for all ages at http://www.hookofabook.wordpress.com and my group for children’s books on Facebook called Teaching Kids Through Books. I sell Kane/Miller and Usborne Books at www.ubah.com/z2837.

If you could ask your favorite author a question, who would it be & what question would you ask? How would you answer that question yourself?

I don’t know if it would be about asking just one, but to many authors in general I would ask first, how do you stay focused and secondly, how do you handle any rejection to something you present that is such a part of you? In answering this myself, again I say that you have to make writing a priority and schedule time for it. The only thing I can say about rejection is that you have to be strong enough to love your own story for what it brings you, even if someone else doesn’t agree.

To hear me, as well as mystery writer Beth Groundwater, children’s author Amanda Thrasher, and illustrator Wade Zahares on our BlogTalkRadio show, click on this link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/rrradio/2011/02/14/dellanis-tea and it will start playing. Put on your headphones and listen while you work, or just listen through the speakers.

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