Wednesday, August 29, 2012

GLADIATOR: A Steamy Romance by Kate Lynd

My guest today is the author of the adult romance novel GLADIATOR, which was inspired by the 2000 Hollywood movie by the same name (and who didn't love that movie?) But Kate Lynd puts a twist on this tale with its post apocalyptic setting. Welcome, Kate!

Tell us a little about your background and how you became an author.

In some ways I had a good childhood but in others it was really bad and I had to find a way to survive it, so I turned to the movies, books, and television. My stepdad was a really huge positive influence on me in that respect. He would tell us bedtime stories and encouraged us to read. I started writing my own stories when I was five years old.

What is one of your favorite books and why?

Too many to mention! I think as a kid there were two books, one was Jacob Have I Loved about a girl who is constantly looked over for her twin. And Bridge to Terrabithia, which when I read the scene where the little girl died I should’ve been watching a science filmstrip. (I hated that teacher by the way.) When I was older I would say Kurt Vonnegut and Ray Bradbury were huge influences on me. Mother Night by Vonnegut remains my favorite by him, although Slaughterhouse Five was just a revelation for me.

What inspired you to write this book series?

Wow. I think it may go back seeing Gladiator during the summer of 2000. But what got this series started was a book cover, a blurb about a futuristic tale by a YA author, and the music from the film. And of course imagining Daniel Craig in a loin cloth.

How would you describe your writing process?

Throw everything against the wall and see what sticks—a total pantster.

What has proven to be your most successful marketing tool?

I don’t really know. I operate with the core four—Twitter, FB, Website, and Blog. But I have tons of other stuff too, including a street team, which I highly recommend.

What advice would you give to other authors?

Work hard, build your brand, and be persistent. If you build the story success will come to you.

Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.


“What is it you want, Veronica?”
She leaned in close and whispered seductively, “Why, you know I only want you, Tristan.”
He snatched her up by her throat, pinned her against the wall and kissed her passionately, brutally, and without clemency. When he pulled away she was smiling with a darkness that made him angry. She was a power-hungry mongrel who played on her husband’s weaknesses and jealousies. Tristan hated her. And he hated himself for [sleeping with] her. But this was his life. He let go of her and walked away.
“Is my poor Gladiator jealous? There’s really no need for that, is there? You know you’re my favorite.”
“What is it you really want, Veronica?”
She came up behind him and seductively began to ease off his armor. He was covered in sweat and blood and he felt her shiver against his body. And as always there was a twinge of nausea that would precede the raw animal aggression.
She turned him around. He looked at her. There was no doubt about it; she was beautiful. But she was poisonous—a rattlesnake with crystal green eyes and flaming red hair. Her father had promised peace and a return to normalcy and democracy in the wake of economic and nuclear disaster, and instead this was what had become of the world. And she was no doubt always enjoining her father to maintain her life in this fashion. He loathed her. He detested her. And every time he had sex with her his intense hatred for himself deepened a little bit more.
“My dear, sweet Gladiator, as much as I’d like to celebrate your victory with you tonight, my husband wishes me to share his bed. But fear not—I do have a consolation prize for you.”
His skin began to crawl. Veronica had a twisted way of looking at what constituted a consolation prize; it was usually just a groupie who wanted to watch what the queen did with the equivalent of rock stars of the former United States of America. And he usually did the dog and pony show. But sometimes Veronica required something to prove his loyalty to her. That would be more complicated.
“What is it this time?”
She smiled. His response had given her the mistaken impression that he cared.
“The rebels have been restless. And it seems there is a young woman we have in our prison whom they want terribly. Well, frankly, they are in two minds as to what to believe. It is rumored she is the mythical Healer. The one meant to find her soul mate, so together they will lead our Nation out of the so-called darkness into which it has plunged itself.”
“And what do you want me to do?”
“Oh Tristan, why are you being so defensive? I just want you to find out whether she really is the Healer, and report to me if she is.”
“And then, what?”
“And then you let me handle it,” Veronica said, sliding back into the evil skin that was her natural state. “The rebels have no idea what it takes to run a country.”
The image of his wife being raped and murdered flooded him and it was all he could do not to throttle the queen right then and there.
“So can I count on you to do this for me or do I need to find someone else who can?”
He was no one’s hero. But she had said young woman. And he couldn’t just allow his wife’s fate to be visited upon some other unsuspecting girl. “I’ll do what I can.”
Veronica ran her index finger down his cheek and whispered, “Good boy, Tristan,” she purred. “Guard! She’ll be delivered before the night is over. I don’t know when I’ll be able to return to you, but I expect that you’ll have had enough time to gain her trust by then.”
Tristan’s stomach churned. The Healer? In the beginning there had been whispers of it. But he had never believed in such a thing. It had been years since the crown had feared anything. And now this. He said nothing as the queen was escorted away. He was left to think about the young woman he might be forced to turn over in the end.

Where can readers find you and your book?

You can find me and my books at my blog or if you want to talk to me you can find me at

Kate's novel can also be found on the Muse It Up Publishing bookstore. Thanks for being a guest today!

--KSR Writer

Friday, August 24, 2012

New Children's Book Release: ANIMAL ANDY

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY to ANIMAL ANDY! My middle grade fantasy novella was officially released today by Muse It Up Publishing, and I couldn't be more excited! After more than a year of writing, revising, revising, revising, editing and more editing, it's a thrill to see the final product! Every birthday deserves at least a cupcake, and since my 5-year-old LOVES sprinkles, this cupcake seemed perfect!

Here is the book description:

Ten-year-old Andy Ohman is spending his summer working at the Aksarben City Zoo where his dad is curator. There are rumors the city might close the zoo due to budget cuts. An anonymous donor has given the zoo an antique animal carousel, and Andy’s dad is hopeful it will help boost attendance. Andy’s doubtful that an old kiddie ride will make a difference. He doesn’t see what’s so special about it. But when he takes it for a spin, he unlocks the magic that will help save the zoo.

This is a fun, magical story perfect for kids ages 6-10. (Check out the book trailer video on the right side of this page!) I encourage you to visit the Muse It Up Bookstore, where you can purchase the ebook in any format for all ereaders and it's currently at a 20% discount--only $2.80!! (The print version will be available soon from Amazon.) Book ratings/reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, etc. are always welcome, as that is what helps authors sell their work!

I will be doing lots of giveaways over the next few weeks, so check back, or better yet, become a Facebook fan (KSR Writer) or Twitter follower @kathyrygg  to keep up to date! Thanks for all your support!

--KSR Writer

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

ENTANGLED: A Wonderfully Written YA Novel

Today I am excited to introduce a wonderful author I recently discovered after reading her YA novel ENTANGLED, the first in a teen witch trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and thought it was so well-written, I had to invite Nikki Jefford to be a guest on my blog. Welcome, Nikki!

Tell us a little about your background and how you became an author.

I’ve been writing since I could hold a pen. I didn’t get serious about it until 1997 at the university level, but ultimately I went into journalism because I didn’t believe it was possible to earn a living off fiction.

From 2005 until 2010 I worked hard to find an agent for my historical romance novels and had some near hits, but no cigar. Last year I switched to young adult, self-published, and haven’t looked back. I feel like this is where my true voice is and I’m having the most fun writing paranormal YA.

What is one of your favorite books and why?

I love “Divergent” by Veronica Roth. I’d never read anything like it before and I like female leads who are tough and not overly emotional.  

What inspired you to write this book series?

This may sound silly, but it was after watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I loved the humor, action, danger, and colorful cast of characters.

How would you describe your writing process?

Anything from crazy awesome to tedious and torturous.

What has proven to be your most successful marketing tool?

Enrolling in the Amazon Prime program and doing free promo days. Only problem is now I’m off and it’s been a challenge getting the word out that I’m back on Barnes & Noble. I had decent Nook sales before Amazon Prime (which requires you to unpublish everywhere else for 90 days). Now I’m back on Barnes and sales are dormant.

What advice would you give to other authors?

Maybe they have advice for me. LOL

To self-published authors I’d say, don’t rush your work out. Let it sit awhile and look at it with fresh eyes. Get beta readers and professional proof readers and copy editors to fine tune your novel.

Entertain me!

I’ve had to slog through quite a few books lately that take forever to get started and describe every emotion and background. My day job is rough, I want reading that’s fun and easy.

Don’t be afraid to cut. The delete key is your friend.

Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.

My favorite parts in Entangled are the interactions between Graylee Perez and Raj McKenna. I’m going to share their first (literal) run-in.

In this excerpt, Graylee Perez uses an invisibility spell to sneak into English class late. She thinks she’s in the clear until warlock Raj McKenna makes it clear at the end of class that he caught her in the act.

In the world of Entangled there are only a few witches and warlocks at McKinley High and “normals”, as they refer to the non-gifted, aren’t aware of their abilities.

See You Around
Just as she headed toward Sadie, Graylee was bumped from behind. The force of the body against hers sent her pack flying out of her hands onto the ground. Okay, now she was pissed. “What’s your…”
Graylee whipped around to find herself face-to-face with Raj McKenna.
“…problem,” Graylee finished, the word fading like bleached denim.
Raj flicked his Zippo open and closed in his left hand while studying Graylee.
Raj had the kind of bronze-toned skin the socialites of McKinley tried obsessively to replicate in tanning booths. The only thing they managed to enhance was their orangish glow. Raj’s was a hundred percent authentic. His mother was Indian—as in India Indian. He’d inherited her lush dark hair and exotic eyes, the color of which he got from his American father; green like a panther’s, which fit him well ’cause he looked ready to pounce if you made the mistake of turning your back to him. Case in point: ramming Graylee as he’d just done now.
The Zippo clicked shut again. Raj really shouldn’t be playing with a lighter considering he’d burnt down his last house.
“Sorry, didn’t see you.”
Graylee’s jaw dropped.
This time, Raj’s eyes met hers. There was a glint there, or maybe that was just the flash from Raj’s lighter as he flicked it open and closed again.

Where can readers find you and your book?

iTunes Apple Store in iBook (no direct link yet, but it’s there)

Thank you, Kathy!

It was my pleasure, Nikki! I highly recommend ENTANGLED and the next book in the series, DUPLICITY, is at the top of my to-read list!

--KSR Writer

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Meet the Characters from SLOANE WOLF

Today I'm happy to welcome back fellow Muse It Up author Margay Leah Justice. She has a real treat for us--an interview with three of the characters from her paranormal romance novel SLOANE WOLF--Raven Sloane, her brother Micah, and Shiloh Beck. Welcome, everyone!

Raven: Ha! This should be fun. I’ve finally got you exactly where I want you – in the hot seat! For once, the tables are turned. What do you think of that, big brother?

Micah: I think you should keep that in mind and try not to be so cocky. Just remember how easily I can turn this all back on you.

Raven: (With a pout) You’re always trying to spoil my fun. (To Shiloh) How do you deal with this mood killer all the time?

Shiloh: I guess you could say I have a gift.

Raven: About that gift. Tell me what it’s really like to be an empath – and not that watered down version you did for the PR department at the Institute.

Shiloh: Well…(shifts uneasily)…I wouldn’t exactly call it a ‘gift.’ Most of the time, it’s more of a curse. Always sensing what others sense, feeling what others feel…yeah, not so fun all the time.

Raven: Isn’t there a way to tone it down?

Micah: You don’t have to answer that, if you don’t want to. Anything that makes you feel uncomfortable – just ignore it.

Raven: Hey, I’m not trying to make her uncomfortable. I really just want to know.

Shiloh: No, it’s okay. It’s just – weird. Talking about it. At the Institute, everything’s so secretive. No one talks to anyone else unless they’re directly involved in a specific project. Well, that’s the rule anyway. Those of us with gifts always found a way around that.

Raven: So what about it, then? Is there a way to tone it down?

Shiloh: I’m sure there is – there always is. Every gift comes with some sort of, well – safety valve, I guess you’d call it. Some way to back out of it or – tone it down, for lack of a better word – before it can turn on the bearer and cause them to implode. But see, the thing is, the Institute wasn’t high on safety valves where I was concerned. They thought my discomfort with the empathy was a small price to pay for their ultimate goal – learning how to inflict it on others.

Micah: Let me get this straight. They thought you being tortured by the emotions of others was a ‘small price’ to pay for their goals?

Shiloh: Micah, it’s okay. Really. I’m here now and I don’t ever plan to go back, so there’s nothing stopping me from learning how to rein it in.

Raven: I hate to be a mood killer, but do you think it’s going to be that easy? I mean, they sent someone after you before. What’s to stop them from doing it again?

Shiloh: Nothing, actually. Until someone puts a stop to them – completely – they’ll always be a threat.

Raven: So basically, you’ll always be looking over your shoulder, waiting to see if they’re coming after you?

Micah: But she won’t be alone. She has us now. We’ll always protect her.

Raven: Speaking of ‘us’ – what’s going on with you two? You seem to be getting awfully close. Any news you want to share with the rest of ‘us’?

Micah: Raven…

Shiloh: I think it’s a little premature to say anything (turns to Micah), don’t you think? I mean, we hardly know each other, really.

Raven: Oh, I think you know each other in the most important way, don’t you?

Micah and Shiloh: Raven!

Micah: Seriously, little sister, watch your step. You’re crossing boundaries into dangerous territory here.

Raven: Oh, come on! You know I had to try. Everyone’s dying to know, it’s not just me, you know.

Micah: Well, then, ‘everyone’ is just going to have to wait and see how it all works out. Aren’t they?

Raven: You really are a killjoy, brother.

Micah: Glad I could help.

SLOANE WOLF is available from the Muse It Up Publishing bookstore, as well as from Amazon and on Smashwords. 

Margay Leah Justice can be found at the following links:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

An Inspiring Military Story from Veteran and Author S.S. Hampton, Sr.

Today I'm pleased to introduce my guest S.S. Hampton, Sr., who is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle and Iraqi Freedom. His short story BETTER THAN A RABBIT'S FOOT is currently available from Muse It Up Publishing. Welcome!

Tell us a little about your background and how you became an author.

Well, I’m a Native American, a Choctaw from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. I am a divorced grandfather to 13 grandchildren, a published photographer and photojournalist. I’ve wanted to be an author since the age of 15, because I’ve always had this desire to write, to tell stories. My writing never went anywhere though I tried and tried, until my first short story was published in 1992; it wasn’t until 2001 that I was published again, and then my writing finally started to take off in 2002. I’m not well off yet, but one can always hope!

What is one of your favorite books and why?

“Better Than a Rabbit’s Foot” is one of my favorites. First, it takes place in a location I am very familiar with – a Convoy Support Center in northern Kuwait. Second, it addresses the idea of lucky charms that many Soldiers “believed” in though they might not admit it. Finally, it addresses the idea, the hope, that there is someone back home waiting for the Soldier to return from the war.

What inspired you to write this book?

Due to my military background, and especially my service and deployment in support of the Global War On Terrorism, I have many thoughts and ideas. I suppose it’s also because the military world, especially one at war, is a world that many people don’t understand, and I’d like them to understand. For example, I remember how the Soldiers looked forward to mail. E-mail is great, and it’s virtually instantaneous, but there’s something special about holding a letter or card in hand, knowing that someone cared enough to take a moment out of a busy day to write something. To receive mail from a loved one, or even a stranger, whether card, letter, or care package, was always a special moment, especially when the tired, dusty, sweaty Soldiers returned from missions. Even if it was late at night and we Orderly Room personnel were off-duty, the Soldiers who returned to the CSC often asked if they had any mail. We always checked and if they had any, we gave it to them.

How would you describe your writing process?

It’s something of an idea that comes to mind, sometimes a title, followed by identifying and naming characters. Once those are in place, I write something of an outline, develop the characters more fully, and I research whatever I need to help bring the story alive. Once I’ve accomplished my first draft, which incorporates some editing at the same time, I’ll usually put the story away for a week or two before I go back and edit and polish, until I’m fairly happy with it. I’m never 100% happy, because I don’t think there is such a thing as perfection in writing. If you’re not careful, you could edit forever, agonizing over a comma, apostrophe, or even a word.

How have you marketed your book?

At this point, through “appearing” on blogs as a guest blogger, or being interviewed, followed by a promotion of providing a book cover, an excerpt, and a buy link. Once I’ve got this technique down pat, I’d like to move into creating “trailers” for my various stories.

What advice would you give to other authors?

Write. Write every day, whether 500 words or 1,000 words or more. And write from the heart. Don’t be afraid to express emotion in your writing. Without emotion, your writing is nothing more than a dry English report.

Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.

The setting is a CSC in northern Kuwait. A young soldier and gunner on a gun truck, Sergeant Jerry Stanton, is preparing to go on a convoy security escort mission into Iraq. Word has come down that a gunner from his unit on a mission up north, has been killed. As the soldiers prepare for the mission, a mail clerk delivers mail to them:

     With a thoughtful sigh, Jerry wandered out of the entrance to Conex City and past a lime-green Porta Potty with a white roof at the end of the four-foot high sandbag wall. He hopped onto the wall, pulled a small note card out of the dusty envelope and read, “I wore this just for you. And you weren’t around to take it off! It was all so unsatisfying! I miss you! Hurry back! I love you. Lucy. PS: More to come! A care package is on the way too! AND DON’T FORGET WHO YOU BELONG TO!”
     He grinned and chuckled as he pulled a black satin leg garter trimmed with yellow lace and matching yellow ribbon, out of the envelope. For a moment he almost sang the words to a famous song from the 1970s. The wind tried to snatch the memory-filled lingerie from his fingers. He lowered the bandanna, pressed the soft material against his nose and closed his eyes. It smelled of patchouli perfume, his favorite, and of Lucy’s loving and lusty, musky scent. He grinned again at the thought that it would be just like her if she deliberately scented it for him.
     Jerry continued to press the soft material against his face and kept his eyes closed…

Where can readers find you and your book?

“Better Than a Rabbit’s Foot” is available from MuseItUp Publishing. 

With your military background, this sounds like a great read! Thank you for being a guest today!!

--KSR Writer

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

GYPSY BLOOD--A Modern Tale about the Roma Culture

Today I'm pleased to host Lorrie Unites-Struiff, author of GYPSY BLOOD, a fantasy based on the Roma culture. Welcome, Lorrie!

Tell us a little about your background and how you became an author.

Hi Kathy, thank you so much for the invitation to your blog.  Hmm, where do I start without giving you folks my life story? I started in high school, I guess, where my teacher gave me much encouragement. After high school, I never wrote a word until I retired. I’ve been an avid reader all my life, and heck, you authors make it look so easy.
Quit laughing. What did I know?

Well, I began learning. This writing stuff was mind-boggling. Especially with no formal education in my background. But, if I’m anything, I’m determined. Plus I thought if I kept my brain exercised I might stave off senility as I got older. I’m not sure if it’s working or not.

What is one of your favorite books and why?

Oh, I loved Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. A classic, I know, but the dystopian society and how one man brought people back together to form a new society, well, the whole story just fascinated me and frightened me. Beautifully written.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always been interested in the Romany culture. The more I researched, the more I liked them. They are a wonderful people and their lore is so interesting. Their customs are so rich in the old ways, even today. So, I thought I’d write about the modern day Roma whose family was still affected and influenced by their past. Throw in a little romance, a serial killer, some magic and viola, the story was born.

How would you describe your writing process?

Pound and dash. Family matters are keeping very busy at this time in my life. I’m a panster. I’ve tried to follow outlines but my characters always step out of bounds. What’s a writer to do but to follow them? My best time for writing is early afternoon. After dinner, my brain turns to mush.

How have you marketed your book?

The usual, guest blogs like today. Facebook, blog tours, and many other sites on the web.

What advice would you give to other authors?

If your heart is really into writing, into entertaining readers, don’t give up. Be determined. If you make only two readers escape their problems for a while, it’s so worth it.

Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.

Rita’s family had been looked-down upon, considered an oddity by the town folk. But, she never let that intimidate her. She was damn proud of her Roma heritage.

Spotting Bobby, she made her way across the loose stones of the lot, her western half-boots sliding on the coarse pebbles. Rita took a long, slow breath trying to shake off those teenage memories. The smell of freshly mown grass, mingling with a damp earth scent, wafted from the small park across the alley. The leaves had turned to shades of mustard and pumpkin and magenta. Soon, all the vivid colors would wither, fall away, and strip the trees to a bare ugliness--much like the world in which she worked.

“Gypsy Girl, imagine running into you here at the station, of all places.” Bobby wedged his hands into his uniform pockets and snickered at his joke. He glanced over at his car. “What’s up?”

Rita bit the inside of her cheek to ignore the nickname. “I’m on the prosty murders. That part of town is your regular. Did you or Gus pick up on anything screwy?”

“Gus and me saw the vic. Told her to warn the other gals to be extra careful, what with the murders.” He looked down and kicked a stone. “Guess it didn’t help.”

“What time did you talk to her?”

“After eleven. When Gus ran into the Hobnob for some coffee.”

“Did you bother to check out any black vans? Or did Gus happen to see someone odd in the Hobnob?”

Bobby gave her a cold stare. “We know our job. It’s all in our report.” He wiped the sweat from his forehead, then spat on the ground. “Hey, maybe your Gypsy mother could look in her tea leaves and help us out again like she did when she found that ballsy car thief. You know the one I mean. The guy who ended up being a legit repo-man.” He let out a long, wheezing laugh.

Rita bristled. “Well, he was the one taking the cars.” She beetled her eyebrows and made a cross with her forefingers in front of his face. “Maybe I’ll put a hex on you for making fun of Ma’s help.” She smirked at the quick spark of fear in his eyes, spun on her heels and walked away.  

Where can readers find you and your book?

Being released within the next two weeks:

The COD club series with BTGN.

Story 1&2 will be included in the first book.
Come and meet Winnie Krapski who hugged a cherry tree during a lightning storm. The bolt slammed her, splitting the tree in half. The near-death experience bestowed her with a gift–one she’d rather not have.
Drafted into the C.O.D. Club (Call on the Dead) by Fat Phil Phillips, her mission is to grant the newly deceased’s ghost one last reasonable request. Can Winnie honor her oath?
Well, she tries, but not before she lands in humorous situations that almost get her killed. She’s one spunky broad.

I hope you try a copy and look forward to more of Winnie’s adventures.

Also coming this fall from MuseItUp:

A  Heap of Trouble.

      Cole Walker, Sheriff of Cold Creek, has more woes than he can handle.  He thought chasing rustlers would be the worst of his problems, until the newly arrived, Mattie Wells, jingles his spurs with a smile, and he falls head over heels for her.
 Cole's fear of critters comes to light when a runaway monkey named Beggar takes a liking to him. He remembers when his pa's hound dog left teeth marks on his butt when he was just a tyke.
         But, Mattie thinks Beggar’s adorable, so what’s a man supposed to do? Now, he’s forced to put up with the little fur ball...uh...ringtail monkey even when the furry thief starts stealing the townsfolk’s trinkets.
          The rustlers roaming the hills, stealing the Double J’s cattle are a mighty puzzling crew. JJ blames the farmers and an all out war is in the making.
      Trying to keep the peace between the farmers and the cattleman, Cole and his deputies, Wade and Sully, have their hands full. Mayor Farley gives them a month to find the thieves before calling for outside help.
Mattie has a dark secret and vows never to marry. While harboring a secret of his own, Cole pushes to pry out her secret in hopes of changing her mind.
       Cole chases Mattie, the rustlers, and Beggar in a town full of fun characters and chaos.         
Can he bring the rustlers to justice, peace and order to Cold Creek, the townsfolk’s loot back to their rightful owners, and win Mattie’s heart?
      Yep. Cole has a heap of trouble on his hands.

For more information on my stories, please go to

 Ya’ll have a great day now and thanks for reading.

Thanks, Lorrie! Be sure to check out GYPSY BLOOD  and Lorrie's new upcoming releases!

--KSR Writer