Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Middle Grade "The Shadow of the Unicorn" Book Blast Giveaway!

I'm happy to be participating in the book blast giveaway for THE SHADOW OF THE UNICORN by Suzanne de Montigny, hosted by Mother Daughter & Son Book Reviews. Read on and be sure to enter the giveaway below!

--KSR Writer

About the Book

The Shadow of the Unicorn

Title: The Shadow of the Unicorn: The Legacy (The Shadow of the Unicorn, Book #1)
Author: Suzanne de Montigny
Publication Date: December 4, 2012
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing 
Number of pages: 157
Recommended age: 9+    


A loud, hissing sound filled the air. The unicorns looked up, their eyes filled with horror. Azaria, a unicorn colt, is intrigued when the young clairvoyant dinosaur, Darius, foresees a terrifying change in the world. When a giant fireball smashes into the earth, the unicorns struggle to survive the hurricanes and starvation that follow. Danger of a more sinister nature threatens when the creatures-that-walk-on-two-legs settle in the valley and their leader, Ishmael, discovers the healing power of the unicorns’ horns. Azaria, now a young stallion, must use his wits to save the herd from complete extinction.

* #1 in the Animals in their World list on Goodreads Listopia *
* #1 in the Christmas Stocking Stuffers list on Goodreads Listopia *
Global gold
Winner of the 2013 Global E-book Award for Best Fantasy/Alternate History

Book Trailer

The Buzz

"Kudos to Ms. de Montigny for writing an original variation on the fantasy epic--unicorns intermingling with dinosaurs! The book's themes include the humane and environmental concerns that Watership Down and the films of Hayao Miyazaki have in common. If you have a middle grader or are just young at heart, pick up The Shadow Of The Unicorn." ~ 5 Star Review, Stuart W., Amazon

"The Shadow of the Unicorn is a must-read for all unicorn lovers, but even more so for the ones, like my self, who hadn't read anything about them yet. It is a thrilling and encouraging story about a young unicorn that has to save his herd after a meteor nearly destroyed their environment and killed the dinosaurs. Suzanne de Montigny created a compelling universe with believable characters and a great adventure story to challenge them with. While the story finishes in this book, I can't wait to read about the new adventures the unicorns will face.." ~ 5 Star Review, Antje H., Amazon

"This story pulled me in with a beautiful portrayal of a time and place where unicorns and dinosaurs live side by side. It moved me forward with unexpected twist and turns (a requirement in any good story). I found it hard to put the book down and was totally engaged in seeing the young characters (unicorns and dinosaurs) survive and grow because of the challenges they faced." ~ 5 Star Review, NW Harris, Amazon

"I just finished reading The Shadow of the Unicorn. What a story teller Suzanne de Montigny is. She combined unicorns with dinosaurs and spun a tail of magic that kept me turning the pages, not to mention throwing in an evil that came in the form of a human! What an enjoyable story - and here I thought these mystic animals were extinct. I just didn't know what to look for!" ~ 5 Star Review, Penny E., Amazon

"What a delightfully unique book. Unicorns and dinosaurs facing changing conditions. Darius is a young dinosaur capable of seeing the future. Azaria is a young unicorn who becomes a friend and learns from Darius. Yes, there are humans in this book. They are the villains of the story. Greedy beasts. I think both boys and girls will love this story. Very quick paced and easy to read. A delightful story, and I look forward to more from this author." ~ 5 Star Review, DM Lawrence, Amazon


*Half of all proceeds go to the Third World Eye Care Society, a group of eye specialists who travel to third world countries with thousands of pairs of glasses and perform eye surgery for free.*

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iTunes | MuseItUp


About the Author: Suzanne de Montigny

[caption id="attachment_15106" align="alignleft" width="167"]Suzanne de Montigny Suzanne de Montigny[/caption]   Suzanne de Montigny wrote her first unicorn story at the age of twelve. Several years later, she discovered it in an old box in the basement, thus reigniting her love affair with unicorns. The Shadow of the Unicorn: The Legacy, is her first novel. Suzanne lives in Burnaby, B.C. with the three loves of her life – her husband and two boys.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner's choice) Contest runs: December 2, 2013 to January 1, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Suzanne de Montigny and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions - feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. a Rafflecopter giveaway MDBR Kid Lit Book Promotion Services - Button FINAL

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Must Read Chapter Book for Kids!

Children's publisher Knowonder just released its FIRST chapter book and it's full of space zooming, moon cheese eating, pirate defeating fun! The book is available on Amazon. To learn more visit Knowonder. In the weeks ahead Knowonder will be doing giveaways, interviews, etc. so stay tuned!!

--KSR Writer

Book Blurb: 

Help! Great Uncle Raymond and his pet fire newt, Flamer, have been kidnapped by the smelliest space pirates in the universe. It’s up to Jake and his granny to rescue them, with a little help along the way from some burping green aliens. But first they’ll need to make it through the spaceship-crunching meteor shower in one piece... Will the contents of Moon Granny's favorite red handbag be enough to defeat Blackbeard and his beastly buccaneers? Or will she and Jake be forced to walk the plank...in space? Hold your noses and burp along with Jake and Moon Granny on their stinky, star-crossing adventure. But whatever you do, don't press the red button! Or was it the yellow one?!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Creating the Character Make-Over

Today I'm excited to have fellow Muse It Up author Karina Fabian tell how she gave one of her characters a complete make-over for her new paranormal fantasy MIND OVER PSYCHE. Welcome, Karina!

(If you’ve not read MIND OVER MIND, then caution: this post contains spoilers. Check out MIND OVER MIND, the first book in the Mind Over trilogy here.

I’ve mentioned in several interviews over the years that the Mind Over trilogy started out as a novel I wrote in college. Like many first works, it was pretty pale, and after not succeeding in selling it, I had put it aside for ten years. Coming back with much living and writing experience under my belt, I realized just how two-dimensional I’d made the characters. I still loved the general idea of the story, however, so I rethought the characters and they turned the story from good to amazing.

Other blogs have covered how I altered the main character, Deryl Stephens, a psychic teenager. In a nutshell, I gave him so many problems concerning his telepathic abilities, I had to commit him for half a decade before I could start the story! Seriously, who has psychic contact with aliens and ends up well-adjusted? Today, however, I want to talk about his cohort, Joshua.

Joshua started out as Deryl’s roommate in college, a real redneck with cowboy boots and accent and a bad attitude toward his new East Coast yuppie roomie. Obviously, the revised Deryl never made it to college, so I needed a different reason for Joshua to interact with him. Psychiatric intern worked well, and kept him around the same age, plus allowed him to help Deryl as well as befriend him much to the chagrin of Deryl’s lead psychiatrist). Joshua needed a special skill set, though; otherwise, why would his work be so much more effective than the counseling and drug therapy of five years at an expensive mental institution? Since I’d done some reading about neuro linguistic programming and think it a fascinating process, I made Joshua a natural at it, having learned it from his father growing up. However, my characters inevitably have minds of their own, so NLP was a fallback plan for Joshua, who really wants to be a singer and is only doing the summer internship to make money for college after having lost his scholarships.

In MIND OVER MIND, Joshua provided pockets of normalcy and balance to Deryl’s fantastical experiences. But what happens when normal gets plopped into the fantastical?

This is what we explore in Mind Over Psyche, when Deryl teleports them to the planet Kanaan. There they encounter psychic aliens, dragons and unicorns, trees that grow to the size of school buildings, and the Miscria, who can alter the weather and the shape of the land with her mind.
What fun for a science fiction/fantasy geek like Joshua. NOT. When they first arrive, Deryl’s unconscious. Joshua can’t communicate. The unicorns look dangerous. The aliens try to kill him, and even after they “accept” him and Deryl, they don’t trust them. Joshua is umpteenth-billion miles from his family, his fiancĂ©, his music…and before that summer, he’d never set foot out of Colorado. Worst of all, he’s not confident Deryl can get him home, ever.

All of Joshua’s self-assured manner from MIND OVER MIND vanishes. His first reaction upon seeing the aliens is to throw his hands over his head and cry, “We come in peace!” He panicks, despairs, and at one point in the book has an anxiety attack. In other words, he reacts the way most people who love their life would if suddenly kidnapped from their homes.

Of course, it’s not all bad. He makes friends and becomes a favorite of the unicorns, especially after he discovers they aren’t so unlike the horses he raises at home. (He’s not a cowboy, but does have a horse and was in 4-H.) He discovers he has a healing talent, though it seems limited and only works on Kanaan. More importantly, he’ll need to use his psychiatric and musical skills to save both Deryl and the Miscria. How? Go read MIND OVER PSYCHE and find out!

Very interesting post on character make-over, Karina. Thanks for sharing!!

--KSR Writer


Joshua returned to consciousness fully expecting to be in a hospital bed, his slashed throat swathed in bandages, his singing career over before it had started. His hands moved to his throat, found it bare and intact and breathed a prayer of thanks before opening his eyes.

He found himself on his back in a small, tree-lined meadow, but he didn’t recognize the trees.
He sat up slowly, more disoriented than dizzy. Had he had amnesia? “Sachiko?” he called. “Mom? Dad? Anyone?”

He saw Deryl lying on his side, unconscious. Not far from him, near a break in the treeline, stood—
Joshua gulped.

A unicorn!

…or something like a unicorn. Its rhinoceros-like horn and thick neck and shoulders made it a far scarier version than any Joshua had read about in fantasy novels. It stared straight at them.
Joshua licked dry lips. “Easy fella,” he soothed, and reached over to shake his friend. “Deryl, time to wake up.”

Part of Joshua’s mind gibbered that Deryl was really psychic, that he’d teleported them to an alien planet. Another part argued that he was dreaming or had gone insane himself. He told them both to shut up, but he couldn’t stop his breathing from accelerating or his hands from trembling as he shook his friend.

Deryl’s eyelids fluttered, then closed.

He’s drugged. Malachai’s zombiefied him again, and we’re stuck on another world!
He shook his friend harder. “Come on, man! Don’t do this to me. Wake up!”

Joshua heard hoof beats and turned in time to see several unicorns with red-clad riders approach from the trail. He vaguely noted they looked human, before his eyes focused on the swords they drew.
He did the only thing he could think of. He raised his arms, palms open, and said, “We come in peace!”

The warrior he faced, a scowling man with a narrow head, wide-set eyes, and a pocked and scarred face, didn’t understand him or didn’t care. He arched his sword toward Joshua.

Joshua covered his head with his arms and ducked.

Winner of the 2010 INDIE for best Fantasy (Magic, Mensa and Mayhem), Karina Fabian has plenty of voices in her head without being psychic. Fortunately, they fuel her many stories, like the Mind Over trilogy. Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars, but mostly is concerned with supporting her husband, Rob Fabian as he makes the exciting leap from military officer to civilian executive, getting her kids through high school and college, and surviving daily circuit torture…er, circuit training. Read about her adventures at http://fabianspace.com.

Find Karina at:

Website: http://fabianspace.com, http://dragoneyepi.net
Blog: http://fabianspace.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karina.fabian
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/KarinaFabian
Google +: https://plus.google.com/103660024891826015212

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Don't Miss This Kid Lit Giveaway Hop!

To celebrate the transition from Summer to Fall, I'm excited to be participating in the Best of Summer 2013 Kit Lit Giveaway Hop hosted by Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews.

I've decided to giveaway a whole package of reading content for kids ages 3-12. It will include ebook copies of the following:
 Nerissa's Celebration and Herman's Horrible DayTwo collections of fun, humorous short stories by children's publisher Knowonder!

My young middle grade novel, Animal Andy, by publisher Muse It Up, which is about a zoo keeper's son who discovers the carousel at his zoo is magic and must use it to save the zoo and it's animals.

My chapter book series, Tall Tales with Mr. K 
and its sequel Taller Tales with Mr. K, which are about a magical teacher who takes his students on fun, outrageous adventures in the teacher's lounge!

Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below and then hop on over to the other great blogs participating! Happy Summer!

--KSR Writer

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Author Kathryn Littlewood Puts "A Dash of Magic" in her Childrens Books!

I LOVE children's books that have an element of magic in them (which is why all of the children's books I write contain some magic). So when middle grade author Kathryn Littlewood approached me about her new book A DASH OF MAGIC I was thrilled to host her on my blog! 

A DASH OF MAGIC is the second book in the Bliss series published by HarperCollins Children's imprint Katherine Tegen books, which is about young Rosemary Bliss and her siblings' adventure to rescue their family's magic book of recipes from their conniving aunt Lily before it's too late. Welcome, Kathryn!

 When did you discover you had a “sense of fiction?”

Right from the crib, I loved a good fib. I can’t remember a time when storytelling wasn’t a part of my life. Like most kids, I had a wild imagination; but unlike most kids, in my family we were encouraged to write our imaginings down. I thank my mom for that.

What was your favorite book as a child? As an adult? How did those influence you as a writer?

Is it okay to admit that I was obsessed with a book? Okay: I was obsessed with a book. Specifically, with James and the Giant Peach. Later I read all of Dahl; he really is amazing, and everyone but everyone should read The B.F.G. and Boy, but first and foremost for me was James. It wasn’t that I longed to destroy anyone the way James Trotter’s peach smooshes Spiker and Sponge. It was more the sense of friendship and family he develops with the Centipede, Grasshopper, Ladybug, and the rest of the characters. (You can see some of that at work in the Bliss series.) Some girls carried around dolls; I carried around that book.

In my later, more vulnerable years, I’ve taken to everyone from Joseph Heller (is there a funnier book than Catch-22?), to Maria Semple (Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is a work of sneaky genius), to Kate Atkinson (who writes both mysteries and wildly original literary novels). And those are only a few adult writers. The kids writers are a whole ‘nother shelf, one I could write at great length about.

What inspired you to write this book?

As I’ve already hinted at above—I like large families, and I like people, and the best time to see them as they really are is when you put them around a table. Which is to say: the magic of good food. That’s what brings people together and reveals who they really are and what matters to them.

But I also like humor, and I have a sweet tooth the size of Delaware. All of these things I threw into the Cuisinart and out came the Bliss family.

How would you describe your writing process? What must you always have while writing?

Coffee is a necessary . . . not quite evil, because coffee is one of my great loves. But like so many great loves, it is pretty insistent that I give it my attention first.

So every writing day begins with that first cup of coffee. I generally write in the morning in a white heat, just piling up words. I banish the internal editor until afternoon, because first I have to get pages and ideas together in some kind of loose batter before anything will really cook. Otherwise there is nothing to edit later. You can’t fix what you haven’t drafted. I wish I could claim credit for this, but I can’t: Ray Bradbury talks about this exact same process in his invaluable Zen and the Art of Writing.

What has proven to be your most successful marketing tool?

Definitely social media. I imagine there was a time when word-of-mouth was spread by a bookseller to a reader, when a person would wander into a bookstore and the clerk would put exactly the right book into that reader’s hands. But those days, I fear, are mostly gone. Much as I love my local B&N, the people who work there have their hands full; and even my local booksellers (a shout-out to Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn and to Anderson’s near Chicago) are too busy to know every book that comes into their store.

So I rely on social media. Goodreads is wonderful, but even better than that are the blogs. The best book advocates—librarians and friends-of-books everywhere—are on the web, writing passionate reviews and becoming the heeded advocates that make the difference between a book finding its readership or not. I look to them to tell me what to read next, and I only hope that one or two of them take up my book and champion it.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?

Lots of great advice has come my way. Write a little bit every day. Don’t push yourself to write more than, say, a thousand words in a session. Stop before you’ve reached the end of what you have in your head, so that you’ll have a starting place the next morning. And revise. Revise revise revise. The best writing is rewriting.

Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book. (from A DASH OF MAGIC)

            While Purdy, Albert, Balthazar, and Gus waited outside, the four kids marched right in to search for the Mona Lisa.
            Everybody walking through the halls of the Louvre spoke in hushed tones, which was good, because the din coming from the portraits was deafening.
            It was impossible, for instance, to ignore the portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte crossing the Alps on horseback. 'I've grown weary of our journey,' he whined. 'My toes are frostbitten. I've changed my mind about Russia−I don't want to go anymore. I hear in Russia they put small dolls inside of larger dolls. I don't understand. I can no longer feel my fingers. Does anyone have a slice of quiche? Are we there yet?'
            Sage couldn't resist. He walked over to the portrait of Napoleon. 'I sympathize, Your Excellency.'
            Napoleon's eyes seemed to shift ever so slightly to Sage's face. While his mouth didn't move, the Bliss children could hear exactly what he was saying.
            'You can hear me?' the portrait asked Sage.
            'Yes, sir,' said Sage.
            'C'est beau.' whispered Napoleon. 'Bring me a croissant! And a carafe of my finest wine! This horse's hair is course and unpleasant. Bring me my donkey!'

Where can readers find you and your book?

The truly adventurous can find me at a local New York City bakery on any given day. Or they can visit my website at www.littlewoodbooks.com or my fresh-from-the-oven tumblr at www.kathrynlittlewood.tumblr.com. I am also on Facebook and Twitter as @littlewoodbooks.

Thank you for being here today, Kathryn! I cannot WAIT to read both BLISS and A DASH OF MAGIC!

--KSR Writer

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Get Swept Away with Susan A. Royal's Fantasy IN MY OWN SHADOW

Today I'm excited to participate in a blog swap with fellow Muse It Up fantasy author Susan A. Royal. Her latest novel, IN MY OWN SHADOW,  combines romance, adventure, and fantasy--all taking place in an alternate dimension. Welcome, Susan!

When did you discover you had a “sense of fiction?”

Storytellers and their stories have fascinated me since I was a small child. I grew up listening to my grandmother tell about life as a child on a farm in the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), or working as a telephone operator in San Antonio (think “number please”), my dad, telling us what it was like to grow up during the depression, living in a neighborhood where the children played out under the streetlights on hot summer nights while parents watched from cool, dark porches, and my mother shared what it was like to be a teenager during WWII. I had a cousin who told ‘ghost stories’ to a group of us as kids out under the scrub Oaks on her parents place in the country, where nighttime is always darker and spookier. I could think of nothing better than to be able to tell stories just like they did. When I got a little older it only seemed natural to make up my own, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

What was your favorite book as a child? As an adult? How did those influence you as a writer?

When I was growing up, one book that stands out is Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury. Anything by him was and is a painting with words. I found myself wanting to live in Green Town, Illinois or next door to Scout and Jem after reading To Kill a Mockingbird. Another book was Three Hearts and Three Lions, by Poul Anderson, about a quest in an alternate reality. As an adult, I loved reading Mary Stewart’s Merlin Series, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series, and more of the above, along with Robert McCammon, Jim Butcher and others. I still read young adult—things like Divergent and The Hunger Games.

What inspired you to write this book?

I actually began writing this book when I was in high school. The whole idea of a handsome stranger showing up from an alternate reality and rescuing the MC by taking her to his world just kept swirling around in my head. Travel through portals in another world full of strange creatures and even stranger places. What more could you want? Add in some colorful characters and a quest and you’ve got an adventure. 

How would you describe your writing process? What must you always have while writing?

I can write at any time of the day or night, but the best time for me is during the day. I try to set little goals and get up from the computer every 30 minutes to an hour. Even if I’m taking a break and doing something else, I’m still thinking about the story and sometimes taking a step away from it helps me focus better or decide where I’m going next. Sometimes I have the television going, sometimes I’m playing mood music.

What has proven to be your most successful marketing tool?

I’m pleasantly surprised about the hits I’ve gotten with the book trailer for my first book, Not Long Ago. We are working on the trailer for In My Own Shadow now and will have it up on youtube soon.  And the guest spots on blogs have been good as well. But I think word of mouth has to be my most successful marketing tool so far.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?

I was having a major meltdown over the plot of my WIP. A fellow writer on my critique group had this to say: If something needs to be fixed, you can fix it. This is your book, after all.

Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.

A frantic sprint down the hall from my office brought me skidding to a stop in front of the elevator doors just as they whispered shut. The clock on the wall read half past five. Damn. Too much time spent in the restroom trying to make myself presentable. All because Carrie had conned me into another one of her blind dates. And with her cousin, no less.  Why today of all days? I’d overslept and come to work resembling the undead from a zombie apocalypse movie. Tension knotted in my stomach. I punched the button beside the stainless steel doors and paced, remembering my conversation with her over lunch.
 “I know losing your dad has been awful,” she’d said. “But, maybe it’s time you started moving on with your life.” Carrie couldn’t possibly have understood the burden of guilt that seemed to grow heavier every day. Dad and I had a terrible argument just before he died, one we never had the chance to resolve, and it still ate at me. Carrie hadn’t given up until I’d agreed to meet her cousin in the lobby after work, a decision that plagued me for the rest of the afternoon.
What was the guy’s name again? I couldn’t even remember.
When the doors finally opened to an empty elevator, I hurried inside, pulled out my cell, and stared at the screen. Carrie hadn’t returned any of my calls. She probably didn’t want to give me the chance to back out. My friend knew me only too well. Unlike her, I was no good at small talk. What if her cousin wasn’t either? My stomach twisted even tighter. If that’s all we have in common, it’s going to be a long evening. By the time I got to the ground floor, I’d chewed my bottom lip raw.  
The lobby was empty, and my heels echoed against the marble tiles. Her cousin must have gotten tired of waiting and left. I squeezed my eyes shut and pinched the bridge of my nose. Carrie’s going to kill me. She’d never believe I hadn’t done this on purpose just so I wouldn’t have to go out with her cousin.
Someone coughed. I jerked my head around to see a man standing near the reception area, a canvas duffel bag at his feet.  That’s got to be him.
My heart thudded with relief. “Sorry I’m late. I hope you haven’t been waiting long.” I motioned toward the rain spattering against the windows. “This weather is awful, isn’t it?”
The man watched me with a self-assured air that left me feeling like an awkward teenager.
So much for witty conversation.  At least Carrie hadn’t exaggerated when she said he was good looking. His sensitive mouth held the only trace of softness in a finely chiseled face. Broad shoulders and powerful hands. He would have been right at home on the cover of a sports magazine. Was I drooling? “Umm…” His intense stare made me squirm. “I should introduce myself. I’m—”
 “Lara. My name is Rhys.” We shook hands briefly while his eyes flickered over me. My height intimidated some men, but it didn’t seem to bother him. “I never imagined you’d be so—”
“Don’t bother with flattery. Surely Carrie told you I’m immune.” The grin across my face was so he would know it was a joke, but his stern expression remained unchanged.
Doesn’t this guy know how to smile? “Umm…My car’s across the street. We really should go before it starts pouring again.”
Without a word, he grabbed his bag and followed me through the big glass doors. The wind had picked up, and thunder rumbled in the distance. Streetlights flickered on, a halo of light crowning each pole. We crossed the street and hurried toward my car parked beneath one of the lights in the middle of the empty lot.
  I stuck my umbrella under my arm and dug in my purse for the keys. “Do you like Italian food?”
Rhys drew his eyebrows together and frowned slightly.
Doesn’t he understand plain English? Funny how Carrie never mentioned he was the silent, brooding type.  I’d get even with her for this. “Okay, what about Chinese? There’s this great little place not too far from here…”
He jerked his gaze away from mine and stared into the darkness behind me.
A finger of cold traced its way along my spine. “Did you hear something?” We were alone in an empty city parking lot after dark. Not the safest place in the world.
  He grabbed my arm. “Quiet.”
I flinched in surprise and pulled away. Rhys was beginning to give me the creeps. “What is it? Did you hear something?”
  He pointed toward the back of the parking lot where lightning flashed, touched the ground and disappeared. Two dark shapes burst from the shadows and advanced across the asphalt without a sound.
Rhys dropped his bag and stepped in front of me. Chills raced across my arms. I backed into my car with a thud and gripped my umbrella so tight it made my hands hurt. No time to call for help. We’d have to defend ourselves. But how?
One of the men threw a punch at Rhys, who caught it with his open hand. He used the momentum to throw his attacker off balance and slammed him against the car beside me. Before the guy hit the ground, Rhys whirled to face ninja number two, who charged. With his left forearm, Rhys blocked and returned his kick. The man sidestepped, and Rhys’ foot missed the mark.
By this time the first guy had stumbled to his feet. He staggered over to Rhys and grabbed him from behind, pinning his arms to his sides. The other guy slammed his fists into Rhys’ stomach, making him double over and gasp for breath.
 It was up to me to do something fast, or Rhys was going down. With my heart pounding in my ears, I darted behind the guy holding him and kicked him in the back of the knees. He buckled and released his grip on Rhys. Before his attacker realized what had happened, Rhys had grabbed him by his collar and head butted him with a sickening crunch. The man howled, blood spurting from his nose.
Both men turned and fled back into the darkness. My umbrella slipped from my shaking hands and clattered to the pavement. Who were these men with strange tattoos covering their faces? Gang members? Muggers?
  This time it was me that grabbed Rhys’ arm. “Are you all right?”
  “Don’t worry about me. Let’s go.”
  After I fumbled with the keys and unlocked the car, he yanked the passenger door open, threw his bag in the back seat and jumped inside. The automatic locks clicked while the engine coughed and sputtered to a start. With my hands in a death grip on the steering wheel, I drove through the entrance and made a hard right, my rear tire rolling over the curb.
A few blocks away I tried to hand Rhys my cell phone, but he wouldn’t take it. “Didn’t you see those guys?” They had eyes like sharks, their pupils almost completely dilated. “They must have been on something. We need to call the police.”
He shook his head.
“What, then? Have you got a better idea?”
“Drive to your place.”
He didn’t get any argument −something totally out of character for me. Shock, maybe? Everything had happened so fast, it almost didn’t seem real. Accelerating, I switched lanes to pass a slow driver and watched my passenger from the corner of my eye. He should have been breathing hard after being punched in the stomach, but he wasn’t even winded. And he didn’t seem upset or surprised by anything that had happened. He only stared through the car windows, focusing on the darkness around us.
Carrie, you’ve got one strange cousin.
* * * *
We rushed inside my apartment. I slammed the front door and twisted the deadbolt, listening to its comforting click. The shadowy apartment was filled with normal noises like the hum of the refrigerator, water dripping from a faucet and the furnace running. I flattened a hand against my chest as my thudding heartbeat slowed to normal.
Home safe. Everything’s okay.
Someone pounded the front door three times, rattling the hinges. Every nerve in my body hummed with electricity. I tiptoed closer, placing a cautious eye against the peephole. A man well over six feet tall stared back, his pale skin a contrast to the wild, dark hair falling past his shoulders. Wide shoulders under black leather gave the man a lean look. He had classic features and a narrow face. Very handsome, except for eyes that glittered with something cold and unyielding. Shivers began at the nape of my neck and traveled over my entire body.
“Lara, let me in. I must speak with you,” he said, but the words didn’t come from his mouth. They came from within my own mind.
I gasped and turned to Rhys. “H-he’s talking to me…from inside my head.”
“Block him.” Rhys dug his fingers into my shoulder. “The longer you allow him access to your mind, the more dangerous it becomes.”
“Is that you, Guardian?” The man’s mouth split into an evil grin, revealing blinding, white teeth. “Are you taking up new duties these days?”
“Leave her alone.” Muscles bunched along Rhys’ jaw. “She doesn’t know anything.”
The man’s chuckle seemed to vibrate from somewhere deep inside his chest. “If that is true, then why are you protecting her?”
I narrowed my eyes at Rhys. “What the hell’s he talking about? Is he high on something?”
“Ignore him.” Rhys grabbed my arm and pulled me into the kitchen.
Inside my head, the oily voice took on a coaxing tone. “Rhys is being overprotective. He takes things far too seriously. I mean you no harm, Lara. All I need is a little information.”
Rhys stretched out his hand. An orange dot appeared and hovered above his palm. In an instant, it became a streaking light, burning into my refrigerator and creating a jagged hole. “My God, this can’t be real.” I gasped and moved closer, staring. “W-what’s going on?”
My visitor hammered at the door once again, so loud my temples throbbed with the sound. This time, the distraction was welcome, because it helped drive the sound of his voice from my mind and served another purpose as well. I lived in a quiet, respectable part of town. Surely one of my neighbors had already called the police. All we had to do was hold off a little longer.
  Only Rhys had other ideas. He shouldered his bag and made his way toward the gaping hole he’d somehow created. Just before he passed through, he turned. “Give me your hand.”
I hesitated and raised my eyes to his. Let’s face it. Just the idea of stepping through my refrigerator made my heart bounce like a yo-yo.
“Come on. He isn’t going to leave until he gets what he wants.”
What does he want?”
Rhys clamped his fingers around my wrist. He bent his head as though moving against a hurricane force wind and dragged me through the opening. I struggled for air, but none of it reached my lungs. This must be what it feels like to drown. My heart accelerated, one beat at a time, and my vision clouded with spots.
No more than a few seconds could have passed before we burst through to the other side and stumbled across a thick carpet of leaves. Behind me, my kitchen wavered like a mirage, its familiar colors fading to gray. The tear Rhys had made grew smaller, shrinking until it disappeared and left me staring at a dense wall of foliage.
With my first few gasps, my lungs had felt like they were on fire, but at least I could breathe again. After being deprived of oxygen, the fresh air made my vision swim. My knees buckled and I would have fallen if Rhys hadn’t grabbed my arm.
“Relax. It only makes things worse if you fight it.”
“You’ve done this before?”
“Do you ever get used to it?”
“Sooner or later.”
 Unsure whether to puke or pass out, I leaned over and braced my hands on my legs, waiting for the nausea to subside. After a few breaths, the dizziness cleared enough for me to raise my head. We were standing in a grassy clearing alongside a meandering gravel path that disappeared into shadows in both directions. Dense woods shrouded in darkness crowded the other side of the path.

We weren’t outside my apartment.  

Where can readers find you and your book?

Buy link for In My Own Shadow: http://tinyurl.com/bqbxm4l
Buy link for Not Long Ago: http://tinyurl.com/85vgye3
Also available on Amazon, B&N and Goodreads

Thanks for participating in the blog swap today, Susan! To see her interview with me, visit http://susanaroyal.wordpress.com. 

--KSR Writer

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tips for Writing Middle Grade Dialogue

We all know that kids say the darndest things! Stop by Muse It Up Publishing's blog where I share some tips on how to write authentic dialogue for the middle grade market and provide some easy exercises to help other authors practice. http://museituppublishing.blogspot.com/2013/06/kids-say-darndest-things.html

I promise it will be a fun!

--KSR Writer

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Influence of Alice in Wonderland: Guest Post by Jane Richardson

Today I'm pleased to have author Jane Richardson as my guest blogger. She has some wonderful insights into the world of Alice in Wonderland. Welcome, Jane!

Curiouser and curiouser! Is there a writer amongst us who doesn’t recognise that exclamation?  Of course, it’s from Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland.  That book, along with its follow-on, Alice Through The Looking Glass, was the book of my childhood, and it’s the one, after all these years of reading books, that I still think of as my favourite book ever.
Walk into any high-street bookshop and you’ll find it easily.  You might discover a version with the original Victorian illustrations by John Tenniel, showing Alice as she’s become imprinted on our minds with her white pinafore and neat shoes and stockings, or perhaps a later version, still with the same much-loved text but with updated illustrations bringing us a more contemporary Alice.   It’s a book that’s never out of print.  So why has it endured so well?

Alice was the first storybook character I ever truly identified with.  There’s something in the way she reacts to finding herself in the strangest of places that struck so many chords with me as a child.  Intrigued by the world one moment, confused and on the edge of tears the next, sometimes furious with her situation or alternatively resigned and pragmatic, I recognised ME in every aspect of Alice. 
You know something?  I still do!

Besides, Alice got to do so many of the things I dearly longed to do.  I mean, things I really wanted to do, but would never, ever have the chance, because they were so darn impossible.  Did you never, as a child, watch a rabbit run across the field and into his rabbit-hole, and wonder where it led him?  I did.  And what’s more, what if the rabbit could speak, and tell you about it?  That occurred to me, and I bet it did to you, too!  In a child’s imagination, it’s no great leap from a rabbit who can talk to one that wears a waistcoat with a pocket where he keeps his watch, and when he checks it, exclaims, ‘I’m late!  I’m late!’ 

 Alice easily captured my childhood imagination.  I still remember being absolutely enthralled by the stories, and I’ve seen both my children be exactly the same, with my childhood copy open on their laps.  It is that rare and wonderful thing, an eternal story, a tale for every generation. 

As I grow older, the fascination of the story is still with me, and if anything, I find I can identify so much more with it.  I often wish things could be the way they were at the Mad Hatter’s tea party, where no-one ever bothers to wash up, but simply moves on to the next set of cups and saucers when clean ones are needed!  How wonderful if I could just magic away household chores and care no more for them again. 

What about the dear old White Knight, who has a plan for everything, a scheme to cover every eventuality and tricks a-plenty up his armour-clad sleeves to deal with anything life might throw at him?  Yet we know that none of it will ever quite come right.  I’ve seen those White Knights so many times in my life.  I’ve been like him myself.  Here’s another thing I’m sure you’ll recognise, those infuriating times when household objects that are supposed to make our lives easier suddenly seem to have lives of their own and start to work against us?  I swear they’re somehow doing it on purpose, just like when Alice was invited to a croquet game by the Queen of Hearts, and the mallets turned out to be extremely alive and exceedingly naughty flamingos! 

So many situations, so many characters.  They’re not just mad ideas in a book, they’re part of life.
Alice’s story reflects so much of the confusions of childhood; the way children find their own ways of seeing the world and come up with explanations for the bizarre and the downright insane.  Even many of the questions we ask as adults, and the myriad number of ways we reason with ourselves and rationalise the absurdities of life in order to find a way to cope with the madness – it’s all there in Wonderland.  We all need some of Alice’s take on life, for sure.

 But you know, for me, that’s all just a teeny tiny part of it.  The main reason I love Alice so much is that she allows me to cling to those carefree days of childhood, those balmy summer days where all I had to do was lie on my back in the long grass and watch wispy clouds drift over an endless blue sky, and let my imagination go. Perhaps, like me, you remember those snowy winter days when you dream beside a toasty warm fire, gazing up at the mirror above the mantel-shelf and wonder about the land reflected in its glass....wonder who might be in there, what they do, and how they live....

‘.....She was up on the chimney-piece while she said this, though she hardly knew how she had got there. And certainly the glass was beginning to melt away, just like a bright silvery mist....’
Thank you, Alice, for allowing me to be ‘curiouser and curiouser’ all my life.

 Jane Richardson writes contemporary women’s fiction with a strong romantic element, and currently has two stories with Muse It Up Publishing.  You can find out more about her and her work at her blog, Home Is Where The Heart Is, http://janerichardsonhome.blogspot.co.uk/ and read excerpts from her work by clicking on the book covers.  The quotation at the end of this article is from ‘Alice Through The Looking Glass’ by Lewis Carroll.

Thank you, Jane, for that thoughtful post. As a writer and a reader I couldn't agree with you more!

--KSR Writer

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Review and Giveaway of Children's Short Story Collection

If you're looking for a collection of fun, well-written stories for kids a variety of ages, check out knowonder's short story collections. Mother Daughter Book Reviews just gave it five stars (read full review here) and is holding a giveaway now through June 17th. Enter and you could win a FREE print copy of the collection of your choice! (Four collections in all).

Knowonder will also be releasing its Princess and Dragon themed short story collection this summer as well as its first chapter book for kids ages 7-10 this fall. Lots of exciting things are happening at knowonder! Like them on Facebook to keep up with all the latest information, or visit the web site at www.knowonder.com!

--KSR Writer

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Celebrate Children's Book Week with Multiple Giveaways!

It's Children's Book Week and I'm celebrating by participating in TWO great blog hops! If you're interested in a fun, fantasy middle grade read, then click here.

If you're looking for humorous chapter books for beginning readers, then click here.

Be sure to check out all the participating blogs in both giveaway hops.  Enjoy and Happy Reading!!

--KSR Writer

Children's Book Week Giveaway Hop 2!

To celebrate Children's Book Week I'm participating in the Kid Lit Giveaway Hop hosted by Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews.

In this hop I'm giving away free pdf copies of my chapter book series, TALL TALES WITH MR. K and  TALLER TALES WITH MR. K. Both of these books are about a magical third grade teacher who takes his students on fun, crazy adventures in the teacher's lounge! They get to discover buried treasure, learn the flying trapeze at the circus, and even go on a mission in outer space! These humorous books are perfect for early readers!

To enter, simply fill out the form below then hop on over to the other participating blogs listed below. Happy reading!

--KSR Writer

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Children's Book Week Giveaway Hop!

This week is Children's Book Week and I'm celebrating by participating in a giveaway hop hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer, Kid Lit Frenzy, and Mymcbooks.

I am giving away an ebook copy (format of your choice) of my middle grade fantasy ANIMAL ANDY, which is about a zookeeper's son who discovers the menagerie carousel at his city zoo is magical. Each time he rides it, he turns into an animal and must use his magic to save the animals and the zoo. It's a perfect book for both boys and girls ages 7-10!

To enter, simply fill out the form below and be sure to hop over to the other blogs participating listed below.

Happy Children's Book Week!

--KSR Writer

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Is Your Story Submission-Ready? Find Out with "Rate Your Story!"

I recently discovered a great site I wanted to share with everyone. It's http://rateyourstory.blogspot.com/, and it's a great service for authors--plus it's FREE! They accept short stories (up to 2,000 words) and have a team of experienced writers who will read your story and rate it, providing a good indicator as to whether or not it's submission-ready.

If you'd like to have the story critiqued, they do provide that service too for a small fee. Rate Your Story is a great way to have another set of professional eyes look at your work. (Note: The site is currently closed to submissions but will open again soon, so familiarize yourself with their submissions guidelines and bookmark the site so you're ready to send them your story when they open up again!) http://rateyourstory.blogspot.com/p/submission-guidelines.html

Also, check out my interview featured today on the site discussing a publication that currently is OPEN to submissions--knowonder! Read the interview here: http://rateyourstory.blogspot.com/2013/04/submissions-wanted-interview-with.html

Happy Writing!

--KSR Writer

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

knowonder! Now Accepting Children's Chapter Book Submissions!

This week the children's publication knowonder! announced it is actively seeking submissions for children's chapter books!

"We are actively seeking imaginative, exciting, action-filled chapter book manuscripts for kids ages 7-9. These books are intended to be either read by kids themselves, or with an adult's help, so the story should keep a young child's attention and move quickly. Beginning level chapter books generally contain up to 10 short chapters. Examples include The Magic Treehouse series, Junie B. Jones, and Ivy and Bean.

Stories should be approximately 10,000-15,000 words in length and fall within a first to third grade reading level. (Please provide the readability statistics from Microsoft Word or another similar program.) Stories must be fiction but can be any genre—fantasy, mystery, sci-fi, adventure, historical fiction, etc.

Please submit a query letter and the first chapter of your work. Manuscripts should be double-spaced in a standard 12 point font such as Times New Roman. Allow up to 3 months to hear a response. We will contact you if we want to see the entire manuscript. Upon acceptance, you will receive a contract that explains in detail the terms of knowonder's royalty sharing program, which is competitive with industry standards. Chapter books will be published in both digital and print formats."

To submit, visit knowonder.com, or go to https://knowonder.submittable.com/submit.

Happy writing!!

--KSR Writer

Friday, March 29, 2013

Cover Reveal for Kai Strand's New MG Novel, BEWARE OF THE WHITE

Today I'm happy to share fellow author Kai Strand's new middle grade fantasy adventure, Beware of the White, which will be released by Muse It Up Publishing on May 17th! 

About the book: 

As is tradition, Terra learns on the Saturday past her twelfth birthday that she is a Natures Spirit. It is her legacy to serve in the peaceful underground city of Concord. Learning she is named in a prophecy and being threatened by the leader of the death tribe…that part breaks tradition.

The Trepidus are the death janitors of the Underworld, responsible for delivering fatalities with a smile and cleaning up after themselves, until Blanco, recent leader of the Trepidus, decides the day of reckoning for his species is coming. He begins organizing the creatures and leads them toward an uprising. The prophecy says there is one person who can stop him. Terra.

With Spirit of Security, Frank, protecting her, Terra attempts to complete her training and discover her Spirit talents. Together, they go on a rogue investigation to learn how to defeat Blanco. In the end, it comes down to a battle of the minds. The future of Concord is at stake. Will Blanco, the older, more experienced being win? Or will Terra, the young, new Spirit earn back the peace of the city?


Readers will lose themselves in the rich Underworld city of Concord with its exotic creatures and beautiful landscape. They’ll root for Terra to succeed against Blanco who threatens the peaceful society. But when death is your business, can you be defeated?

 Don’t miss teasers and release news. Sign up for the Strands of Thought Newsletter. 

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AND enjoy the beautiful COVER!!

--KSR Writer

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Win a Great Middle Grade Read for Boys!

Today I'm over visiting Suzanne de Montigny's blog, which features an interview with the main character from my middle grade novel ANIMAL ANDY, and if you leave a comment on her blog, you could win a free ebook copy! Stop on by!!  http://suzannesthoughtsfortheday.blogspot.com

--KSR Writer

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

THE MARK OF ABEL: A Truly Unique Paranormal Romance by Viola Ryan

If you're a fan of paranormal novels then you'll love the unique twist that author Viola Ryan writes into her book "The Mark of Abel," available from Muse It Up Publishing. Welcome, Viola!

When did you discover you had a “sense of fiction?”

I can’t remember when I started writing. I have piles of journals from when I was a kid, but my idea of a journal wasn’t just a diary. I wrote plays and short stories. I even wrote a movie script for a sequel to Indiana Jones. I was one of those kids who devoured the library. I could read well before I started school. The teachers didn’t know what to do with me.

What was your favorite book as a child? As an adult? How did those influence you as a writer?

As a child it was three books: The Wizard of Oz, which introduced me to fantasy; Alice and Wonderland, which introduced me to warped perspectives; and The Jungle Book, which introduced me to a wonderful world of language. As an adult, it’s super hard. Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten is at the top. I reread it when I need inspiration. So is Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I also loved Alice Seibold’s The Lovely Bones. There are series I adore, like Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mystery, Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden, Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark, Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter, Gena Showalters Lords of the Underwolrd and Rebecca Zanetti’s Dark Protectors.

What inspired you to write this book?

Fallen angels are demons. Vampires are demons. According to math, if A=B and C=B than A=C. It surprised me that no one had thought to make fallen angels into vampires. There is a lot in paranormal already. There are even fallen angels, but nothing really reimagined the Judeo-Christian stories many of us grew up with. Mine are generic fallen angels. They are actually the Watchers/Grigori from Genesis. Jesus appears and I often lifted his dialogue right from the Gospels. For the heroine, I was watching a show on the Roman extermination of the Dacians in present-day Romania. That cried to be in a vampire novel. I wrote her past lives so I could include this.

How would you describe your writing process? What must you always have while writing?

I loosely plot out the entire book, using a lot of mind maps and asking myself “then what.” I create an index card for each scene. On it I list what needs to happen in the scene. Each day I start out with an index card. I tell my muse, as long as these things happen, you can play all you want. She often surprises me, but as long as we stick to the general plot lines, things aren’t too disorganized. One quirk I have is I always need to be chewing gum when I write or I can’t concentrate. When I am in the zone, I don’t like music on.

What has proven to be your most successful marketing tool?

So far this tour is going great. I don’t have the sales figures yet, but I’m doing well enough that my publisher is taking my book to print. It will be out before the fall. I sunk the majority of my marketing money into bookmarks and an ad at Bitten By Books. I think the most successful tool has been the blurb and reviews. People are sharing these all over the place.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?

What connects the readers to the book is character and how s/he grows. Conflict is important, but only in that it is the vehicle that changes the character. Characters change through action, not  talking or thinking.

Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.

“What will happen to Eve?” Lucifer could still help her, somehow circumvent
God’s punishment or at least mitigate it. He would find a way to take it for her.

“They have been expelled from Eden. By the sweat of Adam’s brow shall he
get bread to eat. In pain shall Eve bring forth children.”

Eve in pain? He didn’t know what was worse. Eve in pain, or having Adam’s

“So because they expect it, Eve must suffer. That is wrong.” The words were
directed at himself as much as they were to God. If only he had left Eve alone.

“Wrong.” Another power word, one that tasted similar to justice.

“That is not for you to determine.” God’s eyes swirled gold, and a pulsing
white aura surrounded him.

Lucifer recoiled and shielded his eyes.

Not for him to determine? That’s exactly what he’d done. He turned his back
on God and scratched his head. Wrong. Justice. These were words that made no
sense yesterday. Now they were power words.

Justice. Friend. Wrong. Strong words demanding strong action, even if that
action was against God.

He froze. Against God. Abba. His heavenly father. A voice inside him cried. A
louder voice spurred him on. He was the only one who could protect Eve. His heart
beat strong and steady. At his feet the Sword of Justice glinted in the firelight.


Keeping Eve in Eden was definitely an act of justice.

In one smooth motion, he kicked up the sword, grabbed it, raised it above his
head, and plunged it through God’s back into his heart. He twisted the sword, and
God slid down into a crumpled heap at Lucifer’s feet.

“Now it is.” Lucifer held the sword above his head. It didn’t ignite. Who
cared? Justice had been served. Little did God know the sword he’d created would
be his death.

Eve appeared next to Lucifer. He couldn’t contain his joy. Now they would
fashion the universe how they wanted.

She touched the sword with one delicate finger. Blue flame consumed the hilt,
and he dropped it. Before it hit the ground, it disappeared.

“You are not ready for this.” Eve/God’s thoughts held a tinge of

Where can readers find you and your book?

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/violaryan 

Buy Links:
Holy Hell Tour 

Click here to enter the $50 Amazon gift card giveaway during Viola's book tour!

Thank you for sharing your fascinating journey and sense of fiction, Viola!! 

--KSR Writer