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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dora Machado Shares Top 10 Reasons Why She Loves Her #Writing Gig @DoraMachado #AmReading

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love My Writing Gig
By Dora Machado
People are always asking me why I write. The truest answer has something to do with the fact that I can't stop writing. But I love what I do, and just in case the benefits of my chosen profession aren't obvious to the rest of the world, here are the top ten reasons why I absolutely love my writing gig:
  1. My daily commute entails a thirty-second shuffle from bed to desk.
  2. It's nine p.m. to five a.m. and I like it that way.
  3. My supervisor is a cat.
  4. I can spend hours surfing the Internet, learning about ancient curses, medieval remedies, magical spells, curse givers and mythological goddesses, and nobody gives me grief about it.
  5. The water cooler is out back. If I really need cooling, I swim in it.
  6. I get to daydream and that's okay. My third grade teacher was so wrong about daydreaming!
  7. Business casual = yoga pants. Casual Friday may occasionally involve flannel pajamas.
  8. I have to read a lot to write a lot. Well, if someone must make the tough sacrifices….
  9. During work hours, I live in my own world. Literally.
  10. I get to share my work, life and passion with amazing readers like you.
Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She lives in Florida with her husband and three very opinionated cats.
To learn more about Dora Machado and her novels, visit her website at or contact her at
For a free excerpt of The Curse Giver, visit:  http://twilighttimesbooks.comthingsTheCurseGiver_ch1.html.
Curse Giver
Lusielle's bleak but orderly life as a remedy mixer is shattered when she is sentenced to die for a crime she didn't commit. She's on the pyre, about to be burned, when a stranger breaks through the crowd and rescues her from the flames. Brennus, Lord of Laonia is the last of his line. He is caught in the grip of a mysterious curse that has murdered his kin, doomed his people and embittered his life. To defeat the curse, he must hunt a birthmark and kill the woman who bears it in the foulest of ways. Lusielle bears such a mark. Stalked by intrigue and confounded by the forbidden passion flaring between them, predator and prey must come together to defeat not only the vile curse, but also the curse giver who has already conjured their demise.
Award-Winning Finalist in the fantasy category of The 2013 USA Best Book Awards, sponsored by USA Book News
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Fantasy/Dark Fantasy
Rating – PG-18
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Friday, April 25, 2014

"Delightful story with engaging characters" ... The Forgotten Child by @LEckhart #excerpt #romance

Today’s the day. When he comes down, I’ll say it. Her gut twisted, and she knew now it was nothing more than fear of the unknown. She couldn’t wait anymore; it had to be today. It was past time and she knew she’d ignored this decision for too long. The signs were all around her—they had been for months. Now, with no chance to think it to death or get cold feet, the floor squeaked as his heavy footsteps thumped down the hall toward her. Her skin chilled and she had a buzzing sensation in her ears, as if the floor were about to drop out from beneath her feet. Bob, her husband of twelve years, shuffled into the kitchen past her as she leaned against the counter. What made it worse was the way he looked away, as if to dismiss her, a woman of no importance.
“It’s over between us.” Wow, she said it. Her courage wavered, but she crossed her arms over her small breasts and stood her ground, feeling enormous in the bulky robe even though she kept her body slim with womanly curves.
Bob turned and, for the first time in months, he really looked at her. His dirty blond hair was gelled and impeccably groomed. His pale face flushed and his icy blue eyes appeared so dull and tiny in his round face. His body was ordinary, average height and build—a man who wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. She felt nothing for him, just a hardness; whatever love had been was now long dead and gone.
Time stretched out painfully; it took an eternity to pump the blood through her body, roaring louder and louder in her ears between breaths. Bob turned away. He poured himself a cup of the coffee she’d freshly brewed, dismissing her again. He’d mastered that skill long ago, hammering her pride down a little further each and every day. No wonder it took an act of sheer courage for Emily to look strangers in the eye. Hadn’t her dad done it to her own mom?
“You know we haven’t had a marriage for a long time, Bob. There are no feelings left between us. We don’t communicate, and Katy’s picking up on the tension in this house.”
He dropped his mug on the counter, and fired off his delusion. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I think you’re the one with the problem. Katy’s fine if you’re not around.” His words stung, even though Emily knew it wasn’t true. Why didn’t she expect this? Because her mind didn’t play those kinds of games, that’s why.
“No, Katy is not fine. You’re always yelling at her. You won’t spend time with her. When you’re home, you sit in front of the TV 24/7. You do nothing to help me.”
Shouting, he stepped toward her, “You know what I think this is really about? Money! Anyway, it’s your fault we have no money!”

 Lorhainne Eckhart
How do you tell a man there is something wrong with his child?
This is by far one of the best books I have read. Lorhainne Eckhart proved herself yet again  by pulling you in with a heartfelt story and keeping your attention with the passion that fills   the pages. ROMANCE JUNKIES
A Real Tear Jerker: Omg, I loved this book. I stayed up all night trying to finish it. I cried,  My heart broke, I have an 18 year old with autism. This would make a fabulous movie...  Tammy
He wasn't looking to love again. But what he got was a woman who shook his lonely bitter world upside down, and touched him in a way no other woman could.
Emily Nelson, a courageous young mother, ends a loveless, bitter marriage and strikes out on her own. She answers an ad as a cook and live-in caregiver to a three-year-old boy on a local ranch. Ranch owner Brad Friessen hires and moves in Emily and her daughter. But Emily soon discovers something's seriously wrong with the boy, and the reclusive, difficult man who hired her can't see the behavior and how delayed his son is. So Emily researches until she stumbles across what she suspects are the soft signs of autism. Now she must tell him, give him hope, and help him come to terms with this neurological disorder--to take the necessary steps to get his child the help he needs.
As their lives become intertwined, their attraction is unavoidable--a connection sparks between them. But just as they're getting close, Brad's estranged wife, Crystal, returns after abandoning the family two years earlier. Among the shock and confusion is one disturbing question Brad can't shake: How does Crystal know so much of his personal business, the inner working of the ranch, and Emily's relationship with his son?
Crystal must've had a plan, as she somehow gains the upper hand, driving a wedge in the emotional bond forged between Brad, Emily, and the children. The primary focus for care and therapy of three-year-old Trevor is diverted. The lengths to which Crystal will go, the lies, the greed, just to keep what's hers, are nothing short of cold and calculating. Emily's forced out of the house. Brad fights to save his boy, to protect what's his, and struggles over his greatest sacrifice--Emily, and the haunting question: Has he lost her forever?
More Praise for THE FORGOTTEN CHILD...
"Brilliant, there is no other word for it, heart grabbing, heart warming, gut wrenching, well written well researched, wanted to read it over & over again." Amazon Reviewer – Maureen
BLACK RAVEN'S REVIEWS - Ms. Eckhart has crafted a delightful story with engaging  characters, enough drama for a Hallmark movie, and enough unconditional love to last a lifetime.  ~Rated 5 Ravens and a Recommended Read by AJ!~ 
READERS FAVORITE *5 Star Review A real page turner ~ fast moving plot ~ a must read!
Reviewed by Brenda C. For Readers Favorite
I didn't expect I'd fall for the four main characters as hard as I did, but The Forgotten Child is an amazing book, not just for a romance fan like myself, but for single parents who may or  may not have a child with autism. ~ Reviewer ~ Adria
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Contemporary Western Romance
Rating – PG
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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Best Foot Forward at Writer Conferences @JG_Silverman #SciFi #Fantasy #WriteTip

How to put your best foot forward at Conferences
Last year, I attended about five or six science-fiction, fantasy, horror, or pop culture conventions as an exhibitor. This year, I’ll probably double that number. Some of these are remarkably fun, some not so much. A lot of authors go to these shows, particularly if you write science-fiction or fantasy novels. But, how you prepare yourself and your booth makes a huge difference in sales.
At one show I was at, there was an author in the table next to me selling his fantasy book. On one Saturday (the most popular day typically), I sold over 100 books and he sold 9. He had a descent story too. There are many factors that lead to this dramatic difference in sales. First, his booth was empty. He stacked his books in a pile on the table and wrote $10 on a blank sheet of white paper. I told he needs what I call, “curb appeal.” The same basic concept as in real estate. People walking by want to stop by your booth because it’s interesting.
But I’m an author; all I have is my books. How can I make that interesting?
First, you need to think of yourself as more than an author, you’re in business. Conferences and conventions are typically not free and can cost up to $800 to attend (depending on distance and conference fees). If you’re spending that kind of money, you don’t want to go bankrupt supporting your art. You need to invest a bit more time, thought, and a bit of money into it (but not much).
Second, hire an artist/illustrator to do some drawings of your characters and get them printed on a pull up banner. This should cost no more than $200 and will attract attention to your table. Third, don’t just use the standard white cloth blanket that comes with the booth (or sometimes, shows don’t even provide any cloth). Get a few pieces of cloth of different colors. Get flyers printed to distribute, preferably ones with color and nice art that attracts attention. Do not make it boring. Lastly, do not just stack your books on your table. Prop them up and bring enough of them so that your table looks busy. I also vary the heights of the books by putting an old shoebox under the blanket to raise some and lower others. Anything you can do to make it more interesting and compete with more visual tables, you should be doing.
Finally, you have to actually stand up and talk to people. I know that’s a crazy concept because us authors just want to be left alone to write. But when you’re new, you’re a nobody and it’s rare that people will come to you. So uncross your arms, act like you want to be there, stand up and introduce yourself.
The ancient powers lost to Potara have returned. The Brotherhood of the Black Rose rises to bring Thoth into disorder. And, while the Brotherhood reclaims their power, chaos reigns among the survivors. Six individuals have emerged from the aftermath struggling for control over their lives and a divided land. Kem and Shirin, who abolished the five thousand year reign of the Amun Priests, rule from the golden throne of the Oracle’s Chair in the Hall of the Nine. Dio and Axios struggle to piece together a resistance worthy to challenge the ancient magic which resides in the Great Temple of Amun, and Leoros and Atlantia try to remain true to their hearts and their cause despite tragedy.
But when the Book of Breathings is discovered, the path to immortality is revealed. Leoros and Kem race to capture the Soul of the World unaware of the challenges awaiting them. This time, the gods themselves will intervene.
In a tale where boys become men and girls become women, where treachery and deception are around every corner, and where primeval mysticism finds its way back from the grave, victory is reserved for neither the good nor the evil, but the powerful.
Buy Here
Genre – Science fiction, Fantasy
Rating – PG-13+
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

#Author Deborah Hawkins & the Fascination that Created a Book @DeborahHawk3 #Romance

Like many of us, I was always fascinated by Diana, Princess of Wales.  Even after her death, I continued to read about her.  I was amazed to discover that in January 1997, she received a phone call telling her she would be assassinated. She recorded the information on a secret video tape, naming her killer and gave it to a trusted friend in America for safekeeping. It has never been found.  My fiction brain switched on and Dance for a Dead Princess was born.
Diana's close friend, Nicholas Carey, the 18th Duke of Burnham and second richest man in England, has vowed to find the tape and expose her killer. After years of searching, he discovers Diana gave the tape to British socialite Mari Cuniff, who died in New York under mysterious circumstances. He believes Wall Street attorney Taylor Collins, the executor of Mari's estate, has possession of it. He lures Taylor to England by promising to sell his ancestral home in Kent, Burnham Abbey, to one of her clients, a boarding school for American girls. Nicholas has dated actresses and models since the death of his wife, ten years earlier, and has no interest in falling in love again. But he is immediately and unexpectedly overwhelmed with feelings for Taylor at their first meeting.
Taylor, unaware that Diana's tape is in her long-time friend and client's estate and nursing her hurt over her broken engagement to a fellow attorney in her firm, brands Nicholas supremely spoiled and selfish. She is in a hurry to finish the sale of the Abbey and return to New York. But while working in the Abbey's library, Taylor uncovers the diary of Thomas Carey, a knight at the court of Henry VIII and the first Duke of Burnham. As she reads Thomas' agonizing struggle to save the love of his life and the mother of his child from being forced to become Henry's mistress, she begins to see Nicholas in a new light as he battles to save his sixteen-year-old ward Lucy, who is desperately unhappy and addicted to cocaine. But just as Taylor's feelings for Nicholas become clear and at the moment she realizes she is in possession of Diana's voice from the grave, she learns that Nicholas may be Lucy's father and responsible for his wife's death at the Abbey at the time of Lucy's birth. When Nicholas is arrested for Lucy's murder and taken to Wandsworth Prison, Taylor sets out to learn the truth about Nicholas, his late wife, and the death of the Princess of Wales.
In January 1997, Princess Diana received a phone call telling her she would be assassinated. She recorded the information on a secret video tape, naming her killer and gave it to a trusted friend in America for safekeeping. It has never been found.
Diana's close friend, Nicholas Carey, the 18th Duke of Burnham and second richest man in England, has vowed to find the tape and expose her killer. After years of searching, he discovers Diana gave the tape to British socialite Mari Cuniff, who died in New York under mysterious circumstances. He believes Wall Street attorney Taylor Collins, the executor of Mari's estate, has possession of it. He lures Taylor to England by promising to sell his ancestral home in Kent, Burnham Abbey, to one of her clients, a boarding school for American girls. Nicholas has dated actresses and models since the death of his wife, ten years earlier, and has no interest in falling in love again. But he is immediately and unexpectedly overwhelmed with feelings for Taylor at their first meeting.
Taylor, unaware that Diana's tape is in her long-time friend and client's estate and nursing her hurt over her broken engagement to a fellow attorney in her firm, brands Nicholas supremely spoiled and selfish. She is in a hurry to finish the sale of the Abbey and return to New York. But while working in the Abbey's library, Taylor uncovers the diary of Thomas Carey, a knight at the court of Henry VIII and the first Duke of Burnham.
As she reads Thomas' agonizing struggle to save the love of his life and the mother of his child from being forced to become Henry's mistress, she begins to see Nicholas in a new light as he battles to save his sixteen-year-old ward Lucy, who is desperately unhappy and addicted to cocaine. But just as Taylor's feelings for Nicholas become clear and at the moment she realizes she is in possession of Diana's voice from the grave, she learns that Nicholas may be Lucy's father and responsible for his wife's death at the Abbey at the time of Lucy's birth. When Nicholas is arrested for Lucy's murder and taken to Wandsworth Prison, Taylor sets out to learn the truth about Nicholas, his late wife, and the death of the Princess of Wales.
Dance for A Dead Princess is a the story of two great loves that created and preserved a family that has lasted for five hundred years.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Contemporary Romance,Mystery
Rating – G
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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Beyond Neanderthal by Brian Bloom @BrianB_Aust #Thriller #Excerpt

Visit to a Blue Amber Mine

As Tara alighted from the vehicle, she found herself facing a ghostly white haze of wispy, low-lying clouds that hung as if suspended in time above the undulating hilltops. The peaks rose from the variegated emerald and olive valley below and stretched into the distance amid a virginal mixture of lush equatorial undergrowth. She drew a deep, involuntary breath.

‘Wow!’ There were no other words to describe the feeling of awe-inspired privilege that washed over her. The vista was about as far removed from Central Park as a New York city skyscraper was from the little pastel coloured huts lining the Carretera Turística.

Aurelio smiled. Intuitively, he seemed to understand that the most appropriate response to this magnificent sight was silence. It was a full two minutes before Tara gathered her thoughts.

‘Let’s get going,’ she said.

They made their way carefully—gingerly climbing over dead logs, negotiating their way around rocky outcrops, and grabbing onto available plant life to steady themselves as they walked and stumbled their way towards the valley below. On either side of the track, a mixture of tall, fronded plants grew in an array of shapes and sizes beside stunted and gnarled old trees with deep green foliage. Tara thought of the trees like friendly bystanders, their leafy branches protectively shading Aurelio and her from much of the glaring sunshine above. They came across a trickling stream, which they followed for a while; Tara ever mindful and vigilant, watching for any sign of wildlife in the undergrowth. Except for the background humming of insects, the occasional noisy squawking of a flock of parrots flying past overhead and, once, the silent imprint of a shoe sole on the muddy banks of the stream, they seemed to be alone.

Then, in a clearing, they came across a group of young men standing seemingly relaxed and chatting. A few feet away, under a lean-to made of branches and palm fronds, one of them squatted while cooking something on a small paraffin or gas stove. Aurelio and Tara had arrived at the mine.
Again, there was a short conversation in Spanish. Again, there was a wrinkling of noses followed by broad smiles of understanding and agreement. There were also some side comments and laughter amongst the men. The word ‘gringa’—foreigner from America—came up a couple of times. Tara thought she also heard the words ‘bonita’, and ‘sexual’, but she couldn’t be sure. She decided to keep a slight distance for the time being. They were in the middle of nowhere, miles from the nearest civilization.

Aurelio walked back towards her. ‘They will be happy to show you around, but we should remember our time limitations. We cannot spend more that half an hour here if we are to return to Santo Domingo before dark.’

‘Are you trying to protect me from these guys?’ she asked with a smile. Aurelio looked embarrassed.
‘What’s he cooking?’ she asked to change the subject. ‘It smells great.’

‘That is called arroz con abichuelas, a mixture of rice and beans. He is probably cooking some small pieces of beef with it, but it could be any meat.’

‘Can one buy that in a restaurant in Santo Domingo?’

‘Of course, but not exactly the same. This is a local dish for locals. To sell food like this to tourists would be like offering leftovers to your guests. It would not be right. In the restaurants it is much more carefully presented and is usually served with salads.’

The word ‘dignity’ popped into Tara’s mind. Aurelio seemed to have it, and that was what she had seen on the faces of the fruit vendor and the amber polisher and, now, even the miners as she approached them. Other than their initial jocularity, they seemed to consider her as their guest and themselves as hosts who happily welcomed visitors into their world. The men were just being men.
As they approached the entrance to the mine, a happy looking miner wearing a backward facing baseball cap sat with a short-handled pick in one hand, a lump of soft rock in the other.

Hola, señorita,’ he said, grinning broadly.

She smiled back at him, lifted her hand in greeting, but continued to follow Aurelio to the mine entrance. It was like standing at the entrance to the burrow of a large animal.

Beyond Neanderthal

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Genre – Thriller
Rating – MA (15+)
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Friday, April 18, 2014

10 Things You Didn’t Know About #Author Sarah Krisch

  1. I am a mother of three boys.  They keep me very busy with their myriad of activities!
  2. My full-time job is a manager in a large corporation, where I am constantly challenged to be a better leader.  I am very fortunate to work with such a great team of people.
  3. My husband is a full-time writer, Glen Krisch.  He writes horror and supernatural thrillers, which is quite a departure from my light-hearted romance.
  4. We have a major case of role-reversal in my home.  My husband works from home full-time, while I work outside of the home.  I am very lucky to have his support in pursuit of my business career, as well as my fledgling writing career.
  5. I am a vegetarian, and have been for more than 20 years.  It’s definitely not for everyone.  One of our kids claims to be a vegetarian, aside from the occasional corn dog.  Another would chase a cow across a field with a knife and fork.
  6. My dream vacation always includes a quiet beach.
  7. I love to craft.  I enjoy sewing, knitting, and painting.  Our middle son tells me he is going to be an artist when he grows up, so now that I have a partner in crime, I can shamelessly spend money on fabric, paint and whatever else strikes our fancy.
  8. My favorite way to relax is with a cup of tea and my Kindle.
  9. My favorite memories always include my siblings.  We have such fun together.  In a few weeks, some of us are going on a research trip to a ghost town for Glen’s next horror novel.
  10. I enjoy the outdoors.  I love to hike in the local canyons, view the waterfalls, and spot the wildlife.

A failed actress, twenty-something Julia McCarthy begins writing a fictionalized blog as a form of self-therapy. Based on her carefree summers at her grandparents' farm, she never expects her little experiment to garner a viral following, but it does. Boy, does it ever.
Now, with thousands of loyal blog followers, and a syndication deal with the Chicago Herald, Julia is approached by GreenTV to adapt her blog into a TV show. The producers see her as a "Rachel Ray on the Prairie-type". She sees herself as a fraud.
In Julia's fictional world, she's successful. She can pay her bills on time. Heck, she even has a fictional gorgeous husband and charming little boy. Ready to realize her dreams, Julia returns to her grandparents' farm to shoot the TV pilot.
Brad Taylor is definitely not her type: he’s rugged, sensible, and oh-so smug about learning that Julia’s blog is a farce. As the manager of her grandparent’s farm, Brad doesn’t have time to deal with whimsical women who don’t even know how to cook.
Julia can't allow her attraction to Brad to distract her, not when her dreams are about to come true. But are these truly her dreams, her good life?
A fun, fast (150 pages) contemporary romance
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Contemporary Romance
Rating – PG-13
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Rayne Hall Shares Her Inspiration from Places @RayneHall #WriteTip #AmWriting #Horror

Inspiration from Places
by Rayne Hall 

“Where do you find your ideas?” people often ask me.

The truth is, I don’t find ideas. Ideas find me.

Like ghosts, they seek me out, haunt me, and don’t let go until the story is written.

My mind is like a revolving drum filled with hundreds of jigsaw pieces, each representing a story idea. Sometimes two or more pieces click together, and that’s when a story takes shape.

The location is often among the first jigsaw pieces to click. The setting lends atmosphere and determines the flavour of the story. Some of the places in my stories are real, others exist only in my imagination, while yet others are a blend of the real and the imagined.

Many of the stories in Thirty Scary Tales are inspired by the places where I have lived and travelled in Britain. I live in a small dilapidated town of former Victorian grandeur on the south coast of England, and if you know the region, you may recognise the landscapes that inspired some of the tales.

The southeast of England has many village churches from the Norman period and the Middle Ages, many of them in isolated locations, often surrounded by tilting, lichen-encrusted gravestones. To research Take Me To St. Roch’s I spent a night in one of those old cemeteries, taking notes about every flickering shadow and every creepy noise. I jotted down how the wooden gate creaked on unoiled hinges, how the gravel crunched under my steps, and how the twigs of the trees beckoned like skeleton fingers, withered and pale.

Locals know what a menace herring gulls can be, but well-meaning tourists always feed them leftovers from their fish&chips takeaway, and this encourages the birds to even more aggression. Like daring highwaymen, they swoop and rob anyone holding food. I live in a top floor flat near the seafront. Every morning, seagulls hammer their beaks on my windows as if trying to break the glass. Watching them gave me the idea for the Seagulls story.

Never Leave Me was the first horror story I ever wrote, a long time ago. Inspiration came from reading about the archaeological discovery of the mummified “Druid Prince” and from a visit to the wind-swept Yorkshire Moors.

When the tide is out, it’s possible to walk on the seabed below the chalk cliffs, across black boulders and rust-coloured shingle. The air smells of salt and seaweed. Waves swish and slurp across the shingle, and in the distance, seagulls squawk. On one side, the sea glints like a diamond-studded sheet, on the other, the steep cliffs tower like unassailable fortress walls, a sublime sight. But woe when the tide comes rolling in while you’re still on the seabed! With no accessible path for miles, you’ll be trapped between the rock face and the smashing waves. In Double Rainbows, I imagined this scenario. What happens if you realise you got the time wrong?

The ferocious force of wind and waves sometimes erodes the cliffs and breaks off whole sections. The first time I walked below Fairlight Cliffs, the sight made my throat constrict. A large chunk of the cliff had recently fallen, leaving houses half destroyed, half standing. From below, I could see the inside of living rooms and kitchens, still furnished, as if any moment the inhabitants would enter. For years, the sight haunted me, but I could not come up with a story. Then St Leonards Writers decided to write stories about a local area, the so-called America Ground. Around the same time, I revisited Hastings Castle, which was partially destroyed during a violent storm 1287 when part of the cliff on which it stood fell. The three places – Fairlight, Hastings Castle, America Ground – clicked together, and I placed my story Scruples during the 1287 storm.

I had long mulled over a ghost story idea, but could not bring it to life until the plot clicked with several places from my memory. I recalled the railway tunnel next to the station where I used to wait after school for the train home, its entrance gaping like a black, hungry mouth. This combined with memories of travels in Wales, of steep slopes, grey slate houses, and drizzling rain. The story Through the Tunnel is the result.

The Devil You Know started with the memory of a night I spent as a young woman on a platform at Richmond station, waiting for the morning train to take me home, trying to sleep while the cold from the metal bench seeped through my thin dress. I kept the bench but moved it to an imaginary railway station on the Kent-Sussex border. Many of the small railway stations these days are unstaffed most of the time, with the waiting rooms and toilets locked, and the help points are often out of order.
Many years ago, I joined a group of divers for a holiday in Dorset. I couldn’t dive – I still can’t – but I listened to them as they talked about their plans for the day, and discussed the adventures at the evening campfire. I wondered if a wreck could be haunted, and what would be the worst thing that could go wrong on a dive. The divers were eager to help me with their know-how. The resulting story was I Dived the Pandora, which has been published in several versions. The current version is set in Sussex.

The main idea for Four Bony Hands haunted me for many years. What if the events in a certain fairytale didn’t happen quite the way everyone believes? After several abandoned attempts, another jigsaw piece clicked: the place was a cosy interior, heated by a big oven, providing shelter from the cold weather, refuge from persecution, and sanctuary from evil. Although the story takes place indoors, you can imagine the pine and oak woods surrounding the cottage, snow-laden like the Scottish forests in winter.

Beltane was my entry for a contest where each writer has twenty-four hours to create a complete story about a given topic. The theme was something about a blind fruit vendor and a young female customer. It was the first of May – the date of the traditional Celtic Beltane festival – and fresh green leaves and white blooms covered the trees, so I decided to set the story in ancient England in Celtic times. What did the blind vendor know that the girl did not? The story didn’t win, but I liked it, and a year later I wrote a more polished version.

Stone circles hold a deep fascination for me, and there are many of them in Britain. I’ve visited many stone circles, from the big ones like Avebury and Stonehenge to the ones which are so small they’re hard to spot among the bracken, from the major tourist attractions to the unknown ones, accessible only after a long hike, climbing across stiles and squeezing through thorny brambles. My favourites are the stone circles of Cornwall: Tregeseal, Merry Maidens, Boscawen-Un and all the others. Sometimes I would reach an out-of-the way place and discover that a previous visitor had left an offering, such as a posy of wildflowers, which always delighted me. On one occasion, though, I was disconcerted to find the offering was the flattened, fire-parched body of a frog. Readers familiar with Cornwall will recognise the landscape in the story Druid Stones and may even guess which circle was the fictional inspiration for the Dredhek Stones.

Burning was one of the most difficult stories I’ve ever written, and I believe it’s one of my best. Several places combined in my mind to form the inspiration. The first was a house on fire in the neighbourhood. My father forced me to watch it burn, even though at the age of seven I was upset and terrified. The second was also a house that burned out. This time, I did not witness the inferno, but I heard afterwards that the Turkish family who lived there had not been able to get out. Their charred skeletons told how they had cowered in the corner as the flames devoured them, and the father had shielded his daughters with his own body for as long as he could. This moved me deeply, and then I heard someone say “They were only Turks. Good riddance to the vermin.”

Later, I learnt about the atrocities committed against Jews during the Nazi period. In the town of my birth, locals burnt the synagogue and then built a church on that spot. In a nearby town, the eager citizens went even further: they locked the Jewish population into the synagogue before they set it on fire. The fire brigade, instead of putting out the flames, fanned and fed them, and made sure none of the Jews could escape. Much later, after the al-Qaeda bombings in London, a wave of burning hatred against Arabs swept through England, and it frightened me. Burning houses, churches, racial hatred, hypocrisy, a scared child witnessing events she cannot understand… these elements clicked together into a disturbing tale of human evil.

The story Only a Fool started with a real incident. As a young woman, I lived in London. One night I walked home from the Tube station when a drunken man attacked me, and I was saved by my wits and vivid imagination. For the story, I added memories of the many places where I had been nervous to walk alone, the kind of alley where shattered windows wink in the sparse light and footsteps echo as loud as your thudding heart.

I enjoy evoking the atmosphere of a place with the senses of sound, touch and smell.

My stories involve little violence. They are horror, but not of the slash-and-gore type with chainsaw massacres and lakes of blood. My brand of horror is of the suspenseful, creepy kind. Where other horror writers shock their readers with graphically mangled corpses, I tantalise mine with with places that ooze creepy atmosphere.

Thirty Scary Tales
Thirty creepy, atmospheric stories by Rayne Hall.

The horror in these stories is spooky, creepy, unsettling and sometimes disturbing. It is not very violent or gory; however, the stories may not be suitable for young readers without parental guidance. PG 13.
This book is a compilation of volumes 1-5 of the Six Scary Tales books. It includes the acclaimed stories Burning and The Bridge Chamber.
All stories have been previously published in magazines, ezines, collections and anthologies. British English.

Stories in collection include:
The Devil You Know, Greywalker, Prophetess, Each Stone A Life, By Your Own Free Will, The Bridge Chamber, Only A Fool, Four Bony Hands, The Black Boar, Double Rainbows, Druid Stones, Burning, Scruples, Seagulls, Night Train, Through the Tunnel, Black Karma, Take Me To St. Roch’s, Turkish Night, Never Leave Me, The Colour of Dishonour, Beltane, The Painted Staircase, I Dived The Pandora, Terre Vert and Payne’s Grey, They Say, Tuppence Special, Disturbed Sleep, Normal Considering the Weather, Arete.

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Genre – Horror
Rating – PG-13
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Booksigning & Convention Tips from James Shipman @jshipman_author #AmReading #WriteTip

Booksigning& Convention Tips

Booksigning at an author convention/comicon, etc. can be a tough assignment for an unknown author.  I’ve attended five or six conventions in the past two years.  I have a little bit of an audience at this point so I have the periodic fan that just wants to run up and have their book signed or buy a book to sign. That is a gratifying, ego boosting event.  However most of the time the sales are hard work.

The first thing I would suggest is having quality presentation materials.  You don’t have to go overboard but at a minimum have a good sized poster board printed of your cover and display that on an easel behind your chair.  Also have a small easel to display a book (or books) on the table itself.  I also would suggest having quality business cards prepared that not only list your book but reference all of your various social media and an email address.

When you are sitting at the table you are going to have to cold sell to customers who know absolutely nothing about you.  I recommend you practice a fifteen second blurb about your book.  Ask people if they are interested in your genre first, and if there is a well known writer that you feel would have a similar audience, you may want to ask them if they like “so and so.”  Then hit them with your pitch of the book.  Also hand them a book to look through.  Once it’s in their hands you have a better chance that they will actually buy the book.  I also like to include any statistic you have about your book.  If you’ve hit the top 100 on Amazon even for thirty seconds for your genre, tell them about that.  You can often get your book into the top 100 on Amazon for free books if you’ve run a promotion, even if that is all you have to hold on to, tell them about it.  People react very well to the concept that your book is a bestseller or has sold well.  If they decide not to buy tell them about your less expensive kindle version and give them a card.

Every single sale is a victory.  If you are a new writer, when you make a sale, you are getting to sign a book and give it to a reader.  That is an amazing thing.  I’ve sold a few hundred books at a convention and also 25, the total number doesn’t matter.  Get out there and enjoy yourself.

In 1453 Constantinople is the impregnable jewel of the East. It has stood as the greatest Christian city for a millennium as hordes have crashed fruitlessly against its walls.

But Mehmet II, the youthful Sultan of the Ottoman Turks, has besieged the city. His opponent is Constantine XI, the wise and capable ruler of the crumbling Eastern Roman Empire. Mehmet, distrusted by his people and hated by his Grand Vizer, must accomplish what all those before him have failed to do: capture Constantinople. To prove that he deserves the throne that his father once took from him, Mehmet, against all advice, storms the city. If he fails, he will not only have failed himself and his people, but he will surely lose his life.

On the other side of the city walls, the emperor Constantine must find a way to stop the greatest army in the medieval world. To finance his defenses, he becomes a beggar to the Pope, the Italian city-states, and the Hungarians. But the price for aid is high: The Pope demands the Greeks reunite the Eastern and Western churches and accept the Latin faith. If Constantine wants aid for his people he must choose between their lives and their souls.

Two leaders, two peoples, two faiths battle for their future before the mighty walls of Constantinople.

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Genre – Historical Fiction
Rating – PG
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

10 Things You Need to Know About #SelfPub @SultanofSalem #WriteTip #AmWriting

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Becoming a Published Author
If you think you know everything about being a published author, think again. There might be some things that you wish you might have known the moment you’ve made those irrevocable mistakes of being an author. Don’t wait for these mistakes to come. Make the move now.
  1. Book publishing is still business.
Even if you think it’s just a hobby of yours, at the end of the day, being a successful published author means you have made sales on your books. What good of an author are you if there are only 2 people who bought your book- you and your mother?
  1. It pays to hire an editor.
Not that it is an insult to your flawless English grammar and composition; you still need to have professional editing done on your book. It is indeed an extremely hard work to both become a writer and an editor. Sometimes, you just have to need some help.
  1. Embrace feedback.
Don’t be too possessive of your writings. Of course, it should be your own intellectual property, but every author feeds on their readers’ feedback. That is where you will grow as a writer.
  1. Fiction needs embellishment.
Fiction writing isn’t only just writing an imaginary story. It also involves creative writing. And by creative writing, we mean the art of carefully describing into details some dialogues and scenes incorporated in the book.
  1. To be a writer, be a reader.
It helps to read on self help books especially about how to further enhance your skill in writing.
  1. Be involved.
Nope, no one has survived to becoming a long time successful published author without having attended various professional groups and associations related to writing. If you are not a member of any of these writing associations, it may also help that you attend some writing conferences.
  1. Self promoting is better than hiring marketing firms
It is a bad choice to hire a PR if you have started self publishing your book. Remember, marketing firms may help you make your book famous, but they don’t guarantee sales. Only you can make your books sale. Self promoting your books is the key.
  1. Book bloggers are your perfect advertisers.
Gone might be the days when you have to hire a PR for your book. With the technology in Internet, book bloggers can do the marketing for you. So invest on book blog advertisements.
  1. Reviews count.
Good reviews also help make your books sell.
  1. The joy of writing must remain
Apart from all these hype about book sales and marketing, you can’t go on any further if you don’t have the passion in writing.
Holy Ghost Writer
The Sovereign Order of Monte Cristo is a continuation of The Count of Monte Cristo (Book I), related through the voice of Sherlock Holmes and The Sultan of Monte Cristo (Book II). It includes exhilarating new adventures, characters, and ideas, carrying the reader past book I and II and into book III of an ever-expanding new series based on the classic.
Those who have already had the pleasure of reading The Sultan of Monte Cristo will certainly appreciate the unique way in which the Holy Ghost Writer has expanded the original story without the help of anyone (except perhaps from the ghosts of Dumas and Doyle).
In addition to comprising a 3rd sequel to The Count of Monte Cristo, The Sovereign Order of Monte Cristo serves as a prequel to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
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Genre – Action, Adventure
Rating – PG-15
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