Friday, December 21, 2012

FANTASTIC FRIDAY INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: The Adventures of Stanley Delacourt by Ilana Waters


THE ADVENTURES OF STANLEY DELACOURT
by Ilana Waters
2012
Middle Grade Fantasy
Grades 3-6
Review copy purchased.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Ten-year-old Stanley Delacourt loves his quiet life in the peaceful village of Meadowwood. At least, he does until his best friend is killed. Then the town library—where Stanley lives and works—is burned to the ground. The individuals responsible for both tragedies are a nasty group of soldiers. They work for the kingdom’s new leader, Christopher Siren. With the grown-ups too fearful to take action, Stanley vows to confront Siren. He plans to get answers and demand justice. Little does he know that his journey will involve sword-wielding knights, kidnapper fairies, and dark magic.

Stanley has only two allies back home: a witch named Meredith, and a young apothecary called Sophie. Can they help him discover the reason behind Siren’s crimes and end this terrible reign? Or is Stanley set to become the next victim in the tyrant’s evil plot?

If you enjoy the fantasy works of Rick Riordan, Lemony Snicket, or Philip Pullman, then explore the world of Stanley Delacourt today!


LINKS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I'm a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey. When not creating content for websites, I work on novels and short stories—as well as nibble string cheese. I once pet-sat an electric eel, and enjoy walking in circles around the park for no particular reason.

My first book—"The Adventures of Stanley Delacourt: Book I of Hartlandia"—is a middle-grade fantasy. It is available online NOW at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. I'm currently writing Book II of the Hartlandia trilogy, due out in 2013.


INTERVIEW 

What's the story behind the story of Stanley?

I know this sounds silly, but it came to me in a dream. Really--it did! I woke up and knew the basic plot and three of the main characters. The rest of it is loosely based on equal parts life experience and wish fulfillment.

What led you to become a writer?

I’ve wanted to be writer since I was six years old. My first grade teacher said I was good at writing, so I figured that’s what I should do (this really tells you something about the power of labels).

What is your favorite thing about writing? Least favorite?

I love so many things about being a writer, it’s hard to choose just one. I guess what I love most is living in a world of make-believe—at least until I finish the chapter! And to be honest, I don’t really have a “least favorite” thing about writing. I can’t think of anything bad about it.

Where's your favorite place to go to write?

Well, I only have one place to write at the moment. It’s at my bedroom desk, which faces a wall. Ideally, I’d love to have a separate office and a window with a nice view.

If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?

I would absolutely get into a time machine and travel to the Renaissance, or perhaps the Victorian Era. Wait—maybe you meant regular travel? ;-) In that case, I’ve always wanted to see Venice. I also have a special place in my heart for New Orleans.

Favorite ice cream or desert?

All of them. J But I am partial to anything chocolaty, nutty, or minty. A combination of the three is also acceptable.

Favorite book character?

Oh dear—there are far too many to choose from! Lyra Bellacqua from The Golden Compass, Klaus Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Matilda from Matilda . . . don’t make me go on. I love characters that are brave, resourceful, smart, and don’t take “no” for an answer. Oh, and if they’re a little bit magical, that works too. 

Something most people don't know about you.

I’m addicted to Cheetos. I have to have a little every day, or the next morning I disappear in a puff of orange smoke. ;-)

REVIEW

This book is a fun coming-of-age adventure perfect for middle grade readers.  I fell in love with Stanley from the first page. Maybe it's because he's a librarian like me, or maybe it's because he's had to grow up so fast (doing a man's work at the age of 10). I also loved the library that he runs.  His friends are great, Sophie, who's doing a woman's work with a very feisty spirit and Will, the cheerful, reckless adventurer. It's the kind of place that I would love to spend hours, it about broke my heart when the place was burned to the ground.  But it was the death of one of Stanley's best friends, Will, that really got to me. I was with Stanley all the way as he struggled with anger and confusion.  Like most of us when faced with tragedy, Stanley wanted to do something about it.  So he sets off on a self-imposed mission to see the Ruler of the lands, Christopher Siren, and find out what was going on with all the new ridiculous and dangerous new rules that led to Will's death.  Of course, along the way, he finds more than he could have ever dreamed, including friends, enemies, and more adventure than he ever wanted. I found this to be a pleasantly page-turning read and had to keep reading until I finished it. I appreciated that while it is part of a trilogy, the book actually has a solid ending, so many series books these days don't, so I found that refreshing. I am definitely looking forward to reading more about Stanley and Sophie. I recommend this to readers who enjoy a good quest story with some depth to it.

GIVEAWAY

Thanks to the author, I have three 3-copies to give away. This is open internationally. All you need to do to enter is fill out the form below. You do need to be 13 or older to enter.  The winner will be notified and have 48 hours to respond.


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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

BLOG TOUR and GIVEAWAY: For What it's Worth by Karey White

Tour Schedule

For What It's Worth by Karey White

Twenty-four year-old, Abby Benson has dreams of owning her own wedding cake shop. An inheritance from her aunt gives her the ability to make those dreams come true. She hires Dane, a handsome contractor, to help her get the bakery up and running and soon they’re moving toward their own happy ending.

Unsure what to charge for her cakes, Abby has a crazy idea to let the customer decide what they think their cake is worth. This plan has its ups and downs, but the novelty of the idea makes her a local celebrity. When she is interviewed on television about the unusual idea, business booms and Abby has cake adventures she never dreamed possible. But as her fame grows, Abby is swept up in a whirlwind that threatens everything she values. With the challenges that face her, will she be able to determine what is worth the most?

REVIEW

I find the premise of this book an interesting one. Running a business where the customers get to price the goods seems like a foolish thing to do, but for Abby it works. It works so well in fact that she is soon in over her head and has to decide where her priorities lie.  I think what I like best about this book is how easy it is to relate to Abby and her struggles to determine what matters most to her, her relationships with family and friends or her booming business. And when disaster strikes, what then? I enjoyed reading about Abby's and Dane's relationship and how they overcame the problems that came up, it seemed quite realistic and believable. I highly recommend this one to those who enjoy a fun, clean romance with an entertaining premise (and lots of yummy sounding recipes).

Purchase

Book Trailer


Author Karey White

Karey White grew up in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Missouri. She attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University. Her first novel, Gifted, was a Whitney Award Finalist.

She loves to travel, read, bake treats, and spend time with family and friends. She and her husband are the parents of four great children. She teaches summer creative writing courses to young people and is currently working on her next book.

Links

INTERVIEW

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and what would you do there?

There's so many places I'd like to go. I guess say The United Kingdom. That way I could see Scotland and England.

What is the best thing that has happened to you since being published? 

It was a thrill to have my first book, Gifted, nominated for a Whitney Award. 

How do you go about getting your book(s) published?

I sent my manuscript to Cedar Fort. They took Gifted and then asked for my next one, which was For What It's Worth.

Do you have a special place where you like to write?

I usually write in my living room on my laptop. I like working on the laptop because I can take it with me and write other places.

Tell us a little bit about your writing background.

I loved writing classes in junior high and high school and took writing classes in college, as well. As a young teenager, I wrote a column for our county newspaper. Once my children were in school, I decided to treat it like a real job and see what happened. So far, so good.

What led you to write For What it's Worth?

I made wedding cakes for about a dozen years. I always thought a story set in a bakery would be fun. When I got the idea for Abby's pricing plan, I was ready to go.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out? 
Take classes and workshops to improve your writing. Practice a lot. Don't be afraid.

What's something about yourself that might surprise people?
My parents renovated a schoolhouse when I was a child and for many years, the library was my bedroom. I had floor to ceiling bookshelves. I think it's fitting.

BLOG TOUR GIVEAWAY

$25 Amazon Gift Card + A Copy of For What It's Worth
Paperback available to US only, Ebook Available Internationally

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent's permission. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Monday, December 17, 2012

BLOG TOUR and GIVEAWAY: Jack Templar, Monster Hunter by Jeff Gunhus


ABOUT THE BOOK

Orphan Jack Templar has no memory of his parents and only the smallest details from his Aunt Sophie about how they died. The day before Jack's fourteenth birthday, things start to change for him. At first it's great: A sudden new strength helps him defend his nose-picking friend "T-Rex" from the school bully, and even his crush, Cindy Adams, takes notice. But then a mysterious girl named Eva arrives and tells him two facts that will change his life forever. First, that he's the descendent of a long line of monster hunters and he's destined to be in the family business. Second, that there's a truce between man and monster that children are off-limits...until their fourteenth birthday! Jack has only one day before hundreds of monsters will descend on his little town of Sunnyvale and try to kill him.

As if that weren't enough, things get even more complicated when Jack discovers that the Lord of the Creach (as the monsters are collectively known) holds a personal grudge against him and will do anything to see that Jack has a slow and painful death. To stay alive and save his friends, Jack will have to battle werewolves, vampires, harpies, trolls, zombies and more. But perhaps the most dangerous thing he must face is the truth about his past. Why do the other hunters call him the last Templar? Why do they whisper that he may be the "One?" Why do the monsters want him dead so badly? Even as these questions plague him, he quickly discovers survival is his new full-time job and that in the world of monster hunters, nothing is really what it seems.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeff Gunhus grew up in Cyprus, Greece, and Saudi Arabia where there was a distinct lack of television. He quickly found books were the gateway to incredible adventures, fascinating characters and unbelievable discoveries. Now, with five children of his own (all who watch too much television, in his opinion), he has enjoyed revisiting his old books and reliving those adventures all over again.

Social Media Links:

Website: www.jacktemplar.com
Twitter: @JTMonsterHunter

BOOK TRAILER



CHARACTER GUEST POST

Hi Everyone. Jack Templar here. This blog tour has been great so far. I’d like to thank everyone who has posted comments, especially those who have reported monsters in their area. I think you know from all my warnings that this is dangerous work. While reading the book will attract the attention of monsters, actively working to help us track down the Creach hoard will definitely put you on the monster hunting list.
So, thanks!

I’ve received a lot of questions about how best to react to a monster attack. I thought I’d share a few key points I’ve learned in my short monster hunter career.
  1. Create a protective perimeter. This is the first law of defense. You might be thinking of a fortress or a safe room, and these are obviously great to have, but it’s not feasible to lock yourself up for the next year until the Creach War is settled one way or the other. I’m talking about creating a defensive perimeter when you are out walking around. There shouldn’t be anything that gets within thirty feet of you that you aren’t scrutinizing for strange behavior. This includes teachers, family members, house pets, anything living. If you spot something odd, this gives you time to get ready. In order to survive the initial attack you should…  
  2. Learn hand-to-hand defense. You can’t very well walk around with a broadsword attached to your hip, now can you? You’d wind up in jail and then the Creach who have infiltrated the police would have you at their mercy. If you don’t have any experience, try signing up for a martial arts class in your area. Karate, boxing, wrestling, kickboxing, anything that’s going to get you in shape and teach you basic moves. The goal isn’t to win the fight at this point. The goal is to…
  3. Escape. If a Creach attacks you, it means they have sized up the situation and figured out they have an advantage. And they probably do since they have the chosen the place of the fight and have the element of surprise. Your job is to get the heck out of there in one piece and live to fight another day, preferably when you chose the circumstances. To do that, you must…
  4. Understand your enemy. Every Creach has a weakness. Even when you’re battling a twelve-foot tall mole monster with tusks like an elephant and claws the size of your arm, knowing they are basically blind but with an amazing sense of smell will give you the advantage you need. (Take off your clothes and leave them behind. The mole creature will be confused by the smell on the clothes and attack them, giving you time to get away.) How do you get to know all this? I have descriptions of the major Creach and their weaknesses on www.jacktemplar.com. But sometimes you just have to try to figure it out in the middle of the fight. Whatever you do…
  5. Don’t ask for help from non-hunters. There are a couple of problems with this. First, often the people you ask for help from will not believe you. You might find yourself talking to doctors trying to find out what’s wrong with you. Second, the people you ask for help might be Creach monsters themselves. Don’t forget that they are literally everywhere. Not only lurking in the shadows, but they can be police officers, firemen, teachers…even your parents! Sorry, you have to figure how to survive on your own. The one exception is that you should always…
  6. Band together with other hunters. There is safety in numbers. No way I would have survived my first night as a monster hunter without the help of T-Rex, Will, Eva and Hester. Find people who have either read my book or who have become hunters some other way. One simple way is to write “Do you duty,” in places where people might see it. If they finish the sentence with, “Come what may,” then you might have a good contact. Like everything else in this war though, approach everything cautiously. The Creach have been known to impersonate hunters to lure newbies in. Watch yourself.

I hope that helps. Even at the monster hunter academy, the first lesson we learn is that there’s no foolproof way to defeat all monsters. The life expectancy of a hunter is short. It’s rare to meet a hunter older than thirty. All you can do is try your best, be cautious, and fight the good fight.

Do your duty, come what may.

Jack Templar

REVIEW

Monsters, weapons, and a family mystery, what more do you need for a great adventure.  Jack Templar is a normal 13-year-old boy, until the day he finds out that a bunch of monsters are waiting for his 14th birthday to kill him.  With the help of friends, Jack manages to avoid death, but is left with many questions. But will he have time to find the answers when he is constantly trying to avoid death?  This book would be great for reluctant readers.  The plot moves along briskly with just enough detail to move the story along.  With lots of action and adventure with more sure to come, I recommend this book and look forward to future installments.
 

OTHER LINKS

Buy Links:
IndieBound: http://bit.ly/Si2MxE
Barnes&Noble: http://bit.ly/UEosDf

Tour's Pinterest Board:

GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY

In addition to the individual swag packs offered at the various blogs, there will be 1 grand prize winner. Enter below for a chance to win.

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SWAG GIVEAWAY

Open to anyone who can legally enter. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 13 or older to enter or have your parent's permission. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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BLOG TOUR: Spirals by Ruby Standing Deer

WELCOME to the Spirals Blog Tour. This is a wonderful historical fiction series. I hope you enjoy the post!


ABOUT THE BOOK

A Holy Man, who lives in both this world and the Spirit world, waits hidden in a cave in the canyons, as a newly made woman runs toward him. She flees her would-be suitor, who wants from her more than she can give.

The Holy Man and his constant companions, a colony of mice, accept the woman within the cave. She worries that he may be crazy, but given her fear of the man who desires her, maybe crazy is not so bad.

In this sequel to Ruby Standing Deer’s first novel, Circles, the main character of Shining Light is now grown and with family. He dreams of the woman and the Holy Man in the canyons, and knows that, after four seasons of calm and peace in the Forest of Trees, he must go to them.

He seeks guidance, but the Spirits tell him only that he must rescue these two people. Yet he need not go alone. Ever Shining Light’s faithful companion and Wolf Brother, White Paws senses he must follow his Human Brother. Thus, one Human, one Wolf, and their two families set out for the unknown.

The adventure exceeds all of Shining Light’s expectations, and he learns more about his place in this world than the Holy Peoples of his band could ever teach him.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author of Circles, Spirals and Courage Through Fear, a short story in a book called Evolution Book 1 Put out by my publishing Company, Evolved Publishing.

Life is a wondrous mystery that I still explore. I spent my youth "feeling" my way thought it. I traveled throughout the seventies, standing on one highway ramp or another, exploring the many corridors of our country, learning about life and what it had to offer.

In 1979, deep in winter, I settled down. I was lucky enough to become the first woman journeyman pressman of a major newspaper in Colorado. After ten years of working on printing presses, an injury forced me down another path.

I made and sold jewelry, cared (still do) for abandoned animals, volunteered for a horse rescue as well as a no kill shelter. I went to school for so many different careers that ended up combining my credits to get a degree in horticulture. Unfortunately, or so I thought back then, two car accidents during my last semester, my last class, prevented my pursuing it as a living.

I had no idea what my future held, but I was fortunate; my caring and understanding husband allowed me to explore other paths and I found one I knew I belong on--writing.

Back then, I had no idea "someone" was pushing me to become a writer.

I had taken creative writing classes off and on throughout my college years, because I always felt the need to write. Nothing came of it, except satisfying my own desires, until that special dream guided me to write my novel, Circles.

I joined a couple writing groups to improve my skills. I met David Lane (aka Lane Diamond), my editor, in a group. He taught me to keep going, not to get discouraged, to write and never give up. He stuck with me and gave me the confidence I needed in myself, to let go of doubt, to move forward.

My animals taught me about myself through their own lives. They showed me that I had the patience to push onward toward my destiny, that to give up meant the end. They helped me learn that if I willed myself to wade through all the murky waters, eventuality, I would see clearly enough to move forward.

I am currently working on Stones, the third in this series and a book of short stories of the paranormal that will have something for everyone even if you are not sure you believe. I might just change your mind!

My mixed bloodlines have shown me many things in life that I am truly grateful for. Thank you, Great Mystery, for the dreams, for the guidance, for the whispers in my mind.

ONLINE LINKS:

REVIEW

I love the way Ruby Standing Deer brings her characters and settings to life in such a natural way.  I found it easy to slip back into Feather/Shining Light's story as he once again follows the lead of the Spirits to help others.  I also really like the way the author integrates her themes as a natural part of the story, she makes her points so well that they slip in without much effort on the part of the reader.  And yet there is much here to think about.  Stories like this make me ponder on the wisdom of our society that is so busy running from one activity to another that we don't take the time to enjoy the beauties and joys that surround us.

I'm not sure what else to say or how to explain just why this book touched me the way it did.  The author has a talent and I very much look forward to reading the third book in the trilogy. If you enjoy historical fiction with a strong spiritual element to it, one that combines the love of nature with the best that people can offer, I strongly recommend this one. And be sure to check out the first in the series, Circles, see my review here.



CHAPTER ONE


Falling Rainbow's ceremony, a joyous celebration, turned sour when Night Hunter came to her parent's lodge with three mustangs as an offering for her. Elk Dreaming, her father, refused. Night Hunter could do nothing but walk away and promise to return with his last mustang, the prized male. He gave her father an angry glare as he left.

Falling Rainbow knew her father did not want his only daughter to go to a man whose face was etched in anger; he'd told her so days before when the man entered their camp. He'd told Night Hunter that his daughter was worth more than mustangs.

She hoped her father would come up with an impossible request for another gift.

She backed away into the darkness of their lodge and curled into her mother's arms. Her mother held her, cooing and rocking her as she had done since Falling Rainbow was a child.

Tears fell from both women, and the new woman pulled away. "Mother, I will never be Night Hunter's woman. I will leave the band first. Night Hunter is four winters older and I hold no desire in my heart for him. I do not understand why he wants me as his mate. I heard him speaking to his brother about Power. I do not understand."

"I know, Daughter, more that you think I do. But you must also know a man changes with the right woman, and four winters is not so much. Your father is eight winters older than I am. You must not judge a man by his age."

Her mother reached behind her for a pack. "Here. You will find food, a knife, and an extra humpback robe to keep you warm. I knew you would want to go into the canyons, after you ducked into on of the lodges of your friends when he showed up with his brother. Night Hunter will leave soon. I know your father will tell him you have other men who ask for you, and that he must allow each one to speak to him. It is not a lie, Daughter, not really. I have watched young men follow you with their eyes. Come back after maybe two sunrises. I smell snow even this late in the season, so you must walk with care. You know you can take one of your father's mustangs."

Her mother reached out and ran her hands over Falling Rainbow's face as if memorizing it. "Be safe. If the snow starts to fall, you turn around and come home, you understand?"
She nodded and hugged her mother. Taking a mustang would mean hoof prints to follow. She intended to walk where she would leave few footprints, but did not want her mother to worry, so she said nothing.

She slipped out under the lodge's edging, and disappeared into the coming darkness.
***
Falling Rainbow did not know which way to go. After two days of walking, the snow, a light fluff at sunrise, had turned into a fierce, howling blizzard. Sleeping on the ground with her robes would leave her shivering too much.

I should have listened to Mother about the mustang! The snow whisked around in deep circles, and her steps became more labored. Soon darkness would take the land.

Of all nights, this had to be the one when the moon chooses to hide. I am sure he waits for me still, and I have no more food! Shelter now became more important than finding the paintings in the canyons.

Many times, she had searched for the paintings in the canyons. Her parents knew, but no longer worried. The hairy faces had long ago stopped coming this way to hunt for the yellow stone. This is why her people had settled here this last time. The band moved to the new campsite four moons ago, just after the leaves fell, to escape the raids on their old camp.

Why do they steal our women when they have their own? And why my closest friend? Had I not gone home when I did, I would have been captured along with her.

She shook the memory from her mind and tightened her light ceremony robe, and the humpback one with the hair on the inside, around herself. She kept her arms inside, her fingers clinging to the outside edges. Neither robe did much to cover her ice-crusted hair.

"Why do these things happen?" She stared up searching for blue sky, but found only thick, grey clouds.

Are the Spirits angry with me? Do they wish me to be Night Hunter's woman? No, they sent me the dream vision! A vision of the paintings, so they must have plans for me that I do not yet understand.

"I am freezing! Why do you torment me?" she yelled, raising her fist to the darkening clouds, but quickly put her hands over her mouth and letting her robes fall.

Angry Spirits might make the storm worse. She just needed shelter, but had no idea where to go. Father Sun had already lowered, and she could not see that well.
She scooped up both her ceremony robe and the one her mother had made her, and flung them back over herself. Beautiful tinkling shells and quillwork across the bottom of the ceremonial elk hide did little for the new woman of fourteen winters. Every turn she took looked the same. With so much blowing snow, she could barely keep her eyes open. Her teeth hurt from chattering, and her fingers ached, burning from the cold. She blew into cupped hands, her breath barely warm, and touched her round face, but her numbed cold skin felt little. She shoved her hands back inside and pulled what robe she could over her head.

I am lost! Lost! How can this be? Many times, I have followed these canyons on one-day rides or two-day walks. Stupid! Why did you walk? Where was your mind?
And where was your mind when you let Night Hunter take you that night, moons ago? You were lucky a baby was not made. Did he use some kind of trick to draw me to him? Why did he take me knowing I was not yet a woman? Why did I allow him to dishonor me?" Teardrops froze in little balls on her cold face. "No other man will want me now.

Three moons ago, she heard his flute music as it floated past her lodge, soft on the cold night air. Her mother had told her every woman knew the sound of her future man's voice in the music. Not knowing who called, she followed the sound. Quiet footsteps led her to him. She could not see who it was, but went to him even though she should not have until her ceremony had passed. Hypnotized by the beautiful sound, she faced Night Hunter unafraid. The flute stopped, then their eyes met and he lowered her to the ground. It was wrong, very wrong. Even the cold and snow-covered ground did not stop her from lying with him, encased in the warm humpback robe.

Another blast of cold brought her back to the moment, reminding her she had yet to find safety, and that she did not have the warmth of another person. She started to drift in her mind, thoughts jumbled. Her body shivered uncontrollably, and her feet ached from the freezing water that had found its way through the sinew used to make her footwear. She rounded another curve in the canyon. Orange-red colors plastered in icy-white greeted her. Her eyes combed for caves, indents in the stone, even a curve that would get her out of the wind.

Nothing! There is no shelter anywhere!

She arched her neck toward the now nearly invisible clouds and cried out. "Creator, help me please. I am young and afraid. I am not brave. I fear loosing my life in such a way. Who would sing my Soul to the campfires in the sky? I would be lost in-between this land and the Spirit's land. Please, Great Mystery, help me to help myself. I know I am weak. I am sorry. I wish I was braver."

She pushed away her snow-covered hair that escaped from the robe, but it whipped around, slapping her face. Stupid! I smelled snow! Why did I not take my winter footwear? Her ceremonial footwear soaked up even more of the icy water. She'd hurried, and the air was warm when she'd left. Still, even after her parents had taught her about sudden cold, she had not listened. She had acted as a child, and now must pay for her haste. Would a woman act this way?

Cold and exposure started to claim her. Numb feet no longer ached. She could no longer feel the tips of her fingers. Sleepy.... If I could just rest.

Thunder rolled and lightening sparked in pink above her. Thunder snow. The old ones said it meant Nature herself was confused, and the cold season was always much worse. At every turn, she found only white ice that clung to jutting edges of stone—no shelter anywhere. She pushed on, head bent against the blasts of cold pelting her face. Ice concealed the uneven ground, and the tip of a hidden stone tripped her. Frozen ground rose up to meet her. She lost her grip on the robes, and gasped when the icy water splashed up her dress. With numb hands, she pushed herself into a sitting position, and laughed.
I finally feel warm. Am I seeing the last place of my life? I should have stayed and accepted Night Hunter's offer. He was not so bad to look at when he did not wrinkle his face in anger. He did smile at me the first time we saw each other. I did not see anger then.

Instead, I lay here freezing. So sleepy.... If I could rest but for a short span.

"No!"

She reached out for the pack her mother had given her, hoping she had missed extra clothing. She clung to the rocky face of the canyon wall, pulled herself up and reached her arm behind herself to pull the pack off her back. The canyon's snow crusted wall gave in and some hand-like thing pulled her through.

Her own hands touched fur, and she screamed.

EXCERPTS

"One Who Wanders—"

"Oh, call me Wanderer like my friends." He leaned over and offered to fill her bowl again. "Good thing I made extra. I see you are very hungry."

She looked up from her bowl and into eyes that stared right through her. They had a soft blue glow. He wore a worn, quilled yellow and white headband that reminded her of the zigzags on the canyon baskets that a trader brought occasionally. Her father had actually traded a good robe for one.

She guessed Wanderer had seen around fifty-five winters, maybe more. "Where are your friends?

"What friends?" He reached for another bowl and dipped it in into the warm food, then leaned back and blew on it. "Good this time! Much better with the dried root plants added in. I saved them for when you would come. My friends would have enjoyed this."

She squeezed her eyebrows together and smacked her head. "Your friends who call you Wanderer. Where are they?" She tried to show only respect for the elder, but he made her mind crazy.

He jabbed a finger above his head. "There. Not to worry, little one, I will do you no harm. I had two wonderful women in my lifetime and do not want for another... even if you are a pretty one."

                           ***
 "Shhh, no time for questions and whisper! Once we catch the mustangs, we need to keep them at a trot to get back here if we are to make it before Father Sun wakes. Sister Moon hides—just a sliver shows and this will help. When we get to the top, stay low to the ground, girl, no sense taking chances of someone being awake."

He pushed her forward and pointed up the boulders. "We climb here. It will take us right to your camp. It is just over these boulders. Seek the way with your hands, you will feel the way."

"I have never climbed down this way, too slippery for me and now you ask that I climb this?" She arched her neck up and saw not a path, but a good place from which to fall.

"I lived where your camp is. The hairy faces came in the night and only a few of us made it over these boulders to hide in the cave. Long ago, other Peoples made handholds on the boulders we will use to climb. Be careful, some are worn and shallow. I will follow behind you in case you fall. Feel for the handholds. They are spaced about an arm's stretch all in a row."

"I will not fall, I am strong."

"I hope so. I am not and if you fall, I too, will fall."

"Then why did you tell me to go ahead of you?"

"I told you, in case you fall. Whisper."

                  ***

She moved so close that he reached out to her. He gasped when she pulled him in. "I...I feel so warm, loved. Never before have had I such Power move all the way through me. I am one with all there is. I have no fears, no worries. I do not even feel the burden of a body! What is this place? Not even the center of the Circle has done this to me."

'Silly boy. You still ask questions. Feel where you are. You are deep within the Circle of Life, deeper than you will ever feel as long as you have a body. I see you have walked the Spiral. You have opened your mind, expanded your knowledge. There is yet another lesson for you, one of many that will come your way as you live to become a Great Elder yourself. You cannot teach what you have not experienced personally.'

Colors faded and Blue Night Sky vanished. White Paws lay beside his Human Brother as if neither had ever moved.

"Such peace! Were we really there with her?" He turned and extended his arms around him. "Are you real White Paws? I mean in my space, my people's lives? I feel you, see you, yet some how you know things before I do, react with a knowing I do not have. You truly are a living Spirit Guide. Not that Spirits are not alive...or...who are they?" He put his face in the wolf's fur and breathed in as one would after a clean rain.

White Paws Jumped up and ran a circle around him, grabbed his tunic and pulled until he rose to his feet. "What are you doing? Sweet Mother...something has happened in camp."

Friday, December 14, 2012

BLOG TOUR and GIVEAWAY: Eve Hallows by Robert Gray

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EVE HALLOWS AND THE BOOK OF SHRIEKS (BOOK 1)
For fourteen-year-old Eve Hallows, life can be summed up in one word—horrible.  She has the most horrible friends.  She lives in a horrible old castle.  Even her family is a bunch of horrible monsters.

However, in the monster-inhabited world of Gravesville—a world where messages are sent through Ouija boards, jack-o’-lanterns get facials to suit their moods, and the worst thing Eve has to deal with are those annoying zombie tourists who overrun her favorite graveyard during the Halloween season—horrible means wonderful.  And everything for Eve is perfectly horrible.

But her life is about to go head over heels when a mysterious group known as The Source starts terrorizing Gravesville.  Now she must move to the human world—where everything is opposite ... and for Eve, that's absolutely adorable!

REVIEW

An entertaining take on monsters, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  Unlike many monster-related books which involve monsters living in a human world or a human being abruptly introduced to the monster world, this one is about a human girl named Eva who has grown up in a monster family and monster world and knows little about the human world except that she doesn't want to live there.  When her parents announce that they will be moving to live with humans, Eva is more than a little upset.  But a series of monster murders seemingly perpetuated by humans has the monster world more than a little nervous and her father is going undercover to try to discover the guilty party.  

This is a good book for children who enjoy a good dose of humor with their monsters, things like fog surfing in a graveyard, or being afraid of the sun and dressing up in everything one own's for protection.  Lots to enjoy here, I recommend it.

 
Praise for Eve Hallows and the Book of Shrieks:

"Move over, Neil Gaiman’s CORALINE and THE GRAVEYARD BOOK … make room, Lemony Snicket’s A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS … you’ve got company and competition for shelf space!" -- THE HORROR FICTION REVIEW

"WOW! What an absolutely horrible book (horrible meaning fantastic!) ... This book was laugh out loud funny.  I loved when Mom accidentally turned people to stone.  Dad's crazy attempts at running a pizza store were just hysterical." -- KIDS 'N' BOOKS

"This is the perfect book to be read aloud, read at night under the covers or simply devoured in one sitting. Robert Gray’s Eve Hallows and the Book of Shrieks simply shines with all of its fun creepiness, compelling characters and stellar writing. A MUST read for any MG fan!" -- WORD SPELUNKING

 "Eve Hallows is highly imaginative without being too complex for its target audience. Fall in love with Eve, her friends and her family of adorable monsters. Lose yourself in a light read that will remind you of those days when your English teacher just want you to read something, anything. This book is it. The one that you wish you read when you were in grade school." -- JOYOUS READS

"Overall, this book was fantastic. It presents an admirable role model as well as a strong family unit which will benefit young readers. When so many books right now have presented teens in a not-so-flattering light, it is so wonderful to find a book like this one." -- BOOK COVER JUSTICE

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EVE HALLOWS AND THE BOOK OF SHADOWS (BOOK 2)

Ever since encountering The Source and its minions on Halloween, Eve Hallows has found life surprisingly quiet … not to mention adorably boring!  So when Dad receives a Ouija message that she must return to Gravesville, Eve couldn't be happier—at least until she discovers the Director of URNS, also known as the Grim Reaper, has a special job for Eve … one that will lead her to New York City and to the true identity of The Source.

With The Book of Shrieks offering zero help and a new URNS agent driving the school boys—and Eve!—crazy, Eve's beginning to realize this whole saving-the-world nonsense isn't what it's cracked up to be.

All this and she still has to find The Book of Shadows....

Praise for Eve Hallows and the Book of Shadows:

"This book was perfectly horrible! Horrible meaning amazingly awesome, of course. Eve's world once again sucked me in and would not let go until this part of Eve's story was finished" -- LILI LOST IN A BOOK

"This is a perfect combination of YA, Horror, Paranormal and Fun!" -- BOOK LOVERS PARADISE

Purchase

Author Robert Gray

Robert Gray is a writer.  If that job description doesn't impress you, how about fantasy writer? Too general? Well, he doesn't get insulted if you call him a horror writer. If horror's not your thing, then scratch out horror and replace it with suspense. And for the kiddies, you can slap on a YA or MG in front of that title.

Gray lives in Bushkill, Pennsylvania with his wife and two children.

Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads

Tour Giveaway
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 12/27/12

Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent's permission. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

BLOG TOUR: Cairo: Mother of the World by Herbert L. Smith


ABOUT THE BOOK

Cairo: The Mother Of The World explores the heart of a city that most tourists never see – an affectionate, humorous close-up of the aggregation that is Cairo, as well as an adventure among the streets, tombs, houses, and monuments that are the city yesterday, today, and tomorrow. 

Many have said that Cairo doesn’t change, but it does; sometimes very slowly, with a foot in the past and the other stepping toward the future.  At another time, it may explode with a sudden transformation that boggles the mind, as in the revolution of 2011-2012. Among all the confusion and noise and sand, it is still the same Cairo that many expatriates have come to love. 

For anyone who has longed to visit Cairo, but has not had opportunity or felt a tour was risky at this time, this little book provides an intimate glimpse into the city that is largely unchanged, even after the revolution, and is moving forward, bit by bit, into a better tomorrow.

Love it with us as we walk among the people of Cairo and share the joy and tumult of the life that only the true Cairene is capable of appreciating in the midst of the gigantic jumble we call home.  It will be an unexpected treat.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

It has been my good fortune to live and work in schools and universities around the world. I started teaching in the California State University system more than thirty years ago, after a time working in secondary schools, went on to Egypt and the Middle East, and finally to Argentina. It has been a fascinating series of events, from one adventure to another, and I loved nearly every minute of it. (A few of the minutes were not quite so lovable for various reasons.)

Life as an expat lecturer and instructor led me into some unique and sometimes difficult situations, but my appraisal of the whole was one of amazement that I was able to get to so many wonderful places and enjoy the life of the people there. I taught English courses to students who had already developed skills in the language and was always happy to tell them about life in the U.S., as well as my appreciation of the life I led in their home countries. I would
gladly do it all again with only slight changes here and there.

A sustaining hobby throughout my life is music. I am a pianist, organist and composer with
many years of experience in church music. I found that wherever I went in the world, with the
exception of Argentina, I was almost immediately working with a church, playing the services
(usually on Fridays in the Middle East) regularly. Music is one of my fondest dreams as well as
a ‘forever’ joy.

I now live in Oregon with my wife of fifty years, Glenda, and we love the beauties that surround
us here. I will never tire of reliving the past, of course, either in writing or actually traveling, and
any time I have an opportunity to return to Cairo or Doha or La Rioja, I am excited to go again.

INTERVIEW/GUEST POST


Inspiration


When someone asks me about my ‘muse,’ my writing inspiration, I can only tell them that my love of Cairo, all of Egypt in fact, is all I need to set my descriptive and poetic responses going.  Sometimes, people who have visited or lived in Egypt question my reasoning.  They found the place to be less than ideal – far, far less, and can’t understand my reasons for loving the city and the country.  I confess that I don’t understand fully, but am happily oblivious to many of the problems that confound everyone who visits, as well as a large portion of the population that lives in the country.  I am not unaware or insensible to these difficulties, it’s just they aren’t sufficient to cause for me to flee from the place and never go back.   Quite the opposite, I am magnetically drawn to Egypt and to Cairo, especially.



Cairo is a dirty, noisy, hot, distressed city.  It has been called the noisiest place in the world and may well be.  It has also been called the dirtiest, but I think that distinction best lies in Indian, or perhaps Chinese cities.  (Unquestionably, Cairo is also very dirty.)  The city is fraught with traffic nightmares and pollution, sand, relentless heat, an immense population scrunched together in a very small area, and a myriad of other things that create chaos, but it also has a vibrancy of spirit, colorful people, a wonderful sense of humor, and an attitude of survival against all the odds, that makes it scintillating in my eyes.  I became attuned to Cairo from the very first evening as I arrived amid the sprawl of traffic on what might have been a freeway in most countries, but had every kind of traffic – even camels in a long line - and pedestrians, along its lanes.  Cars and mule-carts went every direction, including the wrong way (obviously by choice), and I gaped in amazement at the staggering tableau that spread out around the Nile in all directions.  I had never seen anything like it, and haven’t found such a tumult anywhere since.

Native food is not exceptional, but is decent.  Hospitality, however, is beyond any reproach.  When you are a guest in an Egyptian home you are Honored.  There is an incredible display of concern for a guest’s comfort – genuine concern – and an interest in whatever information about your world you can bring to the conversation.  Egyptian people are delightful – almost always – and full of laughter despite the situation many are in.  They are indomitable.  As I watched the 2011 revolution through videos taken live at the scene, my heart was in my mouth, and I fell into the scenario as much as was possible from where I was at the time.  I empathized with the people and with the revolution and with the need they now have of securing a government that will serve the needs of the citizens rather than the desires and greed of men in power.  It is almost too much to comprehend, but the Egyptians handle it uniquely and heart-rendingly well.  They make me proud to have been among them, and one of my greatest desires is to return to Cairo for a lengthy visit.


Writing Process


Three words describe the way I work:  Trial And Error.  I could add ‘corrections’ but I want to make this simple and easy to follow.  Here are some of the ups and downs of my usual writing attempts.

I start tentatively, sometimes writing a sentence or two on a piece of scrap paper before putting it on the screen. (Somehow the screen intimidates me at first, especially when I am working on a book.)  I look at the paper and begin to add ideas to the few words I have written.  They soon crowd each other on the page, and I have to go to the screen to continue.  That’s the easy way.  No long, dry pauses, no frustration to get going, although I am usually as patient with myself as I am with other people.  (Sometimes too much patience isn’t a good thing.) I generally have to take myself in hand after an hour or so and insist that I write only what is effective in some way, and easily understood.  I also insist that I take myself seriously, trying to stand away and see things objectively. If that doesn’t work well, I have to rethink whatever it is I am trying to say – to find the best way to describe or tell readers what I want to tell them.  Then I may realize that I need levity and a bit of amusement for balance, so I try to think ‘lighter’ and get on with it.  I allow my head to roam through things that have interested me recently, and finally settle – with a suddenness that surprises – onto an idea that has promise, and begin again.




And that’s just for starters.  There is much more to the processes I go through, and I must learn to think while watching time pass and imagining that I am too slowed down to get anything worthwhile written.  I am always surprised when I get through a long session with several pages of sensible, connected words that have logical sequence and meaning.  And I am grateful that, once again, my mixed thoughts and often-confused brain has settled into something that has decent flow and credibility.  It seems almost like magic, although I know I’ve put in years of study and effort to get where I am now. Each sentence, paragraph, page, chapter, and book is the result of that kind of struggle, or so it seems to me, and I am pleased as well as surprised when people smile and tell me that I seem to organize my thoughts well.

REVIEW

A fascinating account of life in Cairo, Egypt, a city a world away in both location and way of life. I really enjoyed reading about a world so vastly different than my own. The author recounts his own experiences and observations gathered from living there for a few years.  I found it interesting to read about cultural traditions such as afternoon breaks from work, than work continuing until late at night, wedding parties that keep neighborhoods up all night, insults involving the giving of money (?!), a lack of building maintenance, as well as religious practices.  I found the details about daily life a great addition to making the city seem like a real place. At times I almost felt like I was there.  Except for some editorial errors, I loved this account of a part of the world that is very different than my own. I highly recommend this to those who enjoy reading about other places and cultures.


 


 
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