Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Author Interview: Christiana Miller

This week, we have paranormal author Christiana Miller for our author interview. Her books include:

Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead (paranormal)
A Tale of 3 Witches (paranormal novelette)
Every Witch Way But Wicked (paranormal anthology)

You can find her on:

Her website

Her books are available on Amazon.

Fill in the blanks: Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead is like [book/movie/TV show] meets [a different book/movie/TV show].
It's really not like anything else I've read. It would be like... Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie meets The Witches Bible by Janet and Stewart Ferrar.

Do you remember the first story you ever finished? If so, tell us about it.
Yes. It was a Christmas story about an old man and his horse. The man was alone in life, he had lost his entire family, and now he was out in the snow with his horse, while a blizzard swirled around them. It was a happy story as far as the man was concerned -- he died in the snow storm, and was reunited with his loved ones. I was 10 at the time and it was for a Christmas story contest in one of the equine newspapers.

What's your favorite part about the writing process?
Having written! I have the hardest time with the rough draft, but once it's down I love rewriting. I can happily rewrite for years. My favorite part of the writing, however, is creating the characters and writing their dialogue.

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received?
It takes 10,000 hours to master your craft. So, you can either write a little bit here and there and spread that 10,000 hours over the course of your lifetime, or you can sit your butt in a chair and put the work in now.

You're stranded on a deserted island, and you can only bring one person with you. It can be someone dead or alive, but it has to be a real person (no fictional characters!). Who is it and why?
Dang. I was going to bring MacGyver, so he could get us off the dang island! I'd bring someone who could build a boat out of trees and a radio out of coconuts, navigate by stars and spear predatory sharks. So I'd look through NASA's scientist database for the strongest/smartest scientist I could find. But if you're asking who I could happily spend the rest of my life talking to, it would be my daughter. She's pretty awesome.

You get to go to Disneyworld with one of your characters. Who do you choose and why?
Hmmm. Well, Gus would be the most fun, but he'd probably get me arrested, or at the very least, banned from Disneyland. Tillie could scare our way to the front of all the lines, but that wouldn't be fun for anyone else. So, I'd probably go with Mara. She'd be fun and less likely to cause a major ruckus.

You get to travel to the country of your choice for one week with any fictional character of your choice (not your own). Who do you choose, where do you go, and why?
Indiana Jones. We go to Greece or England and have an archeological adventure in either the Parthenon or Stonehenge. Or maybe I'll go with the Ghostbusters team (the movie, not the TV show) to New Orleans, where we have a comic paranormal adventure.

The world's scientists have just released the first time machine, and you've been chosen to get a free ride (with assurance that you'll be able to come back, of course ;). To when do you go and why?
Late 1800s to meet Emma Goldman. She's a pretty awesome character. I've written a play about her and she features pretty strongly in one of my historical scripts.

Recommend a self-published book to the readers. Not your own ;)
J.R. Rain's Samantha Moon series. Barbra Annino's Opal Fire series. Bonnie Turner's brilliant book "Down the Memory Hole." There's so much good work right now in the in indy-published world!

It's Saturday night. Where are you most likely to be?
At home, curled up on the couch with my baby girl. Unless I'm out and about, doing research!

If you weren't writing, what would you be doing with your time instead?
Looking for a day job while wishing I could be a stay-at-home mom. Actually, even if I wasn't a writer, I'd probably be working on behalf of writers.

What do you want readers to come away with after reading your books?
The desire to read more about Gus and Mara and their wacky world!

Christiana, your books sound very fun! Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

In My Mailbox

I don't do these that often, but I've been getting some crazy good books lately, so here we go!

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee -- one of those books that you hear so much about and have somehow never read. Hoping to read it before I get back from California. This is the actual edition I got, too. I love the cover. Wish she'd put it on Kindle, but let's be honest, I probably wouldn't buy it if it was over seven bucks.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See -- got this for $3 at the bookstore today! I liked Amy Tan's books, and it seems like they're similar. The movie looked neat, though the trailer was cheesy.

Scorched Skies by Samantha Young -- second in her Smokeless Fire series. Really unique fantasy! Heh, I may or may not have signed up for a free trial with Amazon Prime to get free shipping on something I bought and looked through the Prime Lending Library and saw this book and nearly died.

Shades of Blood by Samantha Young -- last in the Warriors of Ankh series :( If you haven't checked out this author yet and you like YA or fantasy or paranormal, what are you waiting for? GO!

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (seriously, what kind of name is that) -- I got this for only TWENTY-FIVE CENTS!

Tortured by Caragh M. O'Brien -- a bridge story between Birthmarked and Prized.

On Little Wings by Regina Sirois -- a free download. Contemporary/literary. Such a pretty cover!

Rex Rising by Chrystalla Thoma -- YA fantasy/science fiction with a male protagonist. Looks good! The only time I will allow the use of Bleeding Cowboys font: when it's used for ONE letter rather than the whole thing.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Books This Far into 2012

Okay, I haven't been very good about posting book reviews this year. I've been reading like a madwoman, but for some reason the thought of sitting down and writing a long review is tiring! So I thought I'd sum up pretty quickly what I've read so far this year.

My favorites so far have been:

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: Very creative fantasy debut. I haven't yet been able to get into the sequel, and that thing is huge so I didn't have a chance to finish before returning it to the library. This reminds me that I need to see if it's in paperback yet. . .

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand: GREAT sequel to Unearthly! I was up all one night reading it. I cannot wait for the third one, but I'm going to be really sad because I don't want this series to end.

Intangible by J. Meyers: A self-published urban fantasy, also by a debut author. It sucked me in. I loved the characters, loved the storyline. It was like Cassandra Claire without the caricatures that remind me too much of her fanfiction. Love, love, loved it!

Blood Will Tell
by Samantha Young: The beginning of the Warriors of Ankh story. A dark fantasy for upper-YA. Strong female protagonist, unique fantasy world building. I'm off to buy the third book in the series right now! (the second is Blood Past, the third Shades of Blood)

Out of the Norm
Genres or formats I don't typically read

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves: This is a mainstream novel with strong hints of romance. I really liked the characters and seeing how they survived in what seemed like impossible situations. 

Numbers by Rachel Ward: I listened to this as an audio book, and the voice actress (is that was you call her?) was awesome. It was a really neat concept. I might read the second one, but I think it's a different main character, so we'll see.

Untraceable by SR Johannes: A thriller/adventure novel that reminded of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins or The Calling by Kelley Armstrong sans scifi or fantasy. Great mix of action, mystery, and romance. 

Increasingly becoming one of my favorite genres!

The Maze Runner by James Dashner: Wow, this guy can tell a story that puts you on the edge of your seat! About halfway through, I was tired of all the questions and little answers. Looks like the next book will be like that, too, but he's a great storyteller. 

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien: Beautiful prose, great characters, romance that developed over time, a great weaving of flashback and present day -- just a great book all around! Loved Gaia and Leon and can't wait to read the next one. 

Across the Universe by Beth Revis: Not sure if this really fits here, but I wanted to mention it. Fascinating murder mystery mixed with science fiction and dystopian-like society on an isolated spaceship. The next one is out and begging for me to read it!

Currently Reading

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa: Why isn't it as good as the first one? :( I think it's because I feel like this romance is being forced on me when I just don't feel it. Still, this writer really has amazing world building and detailed, beautiful settings.

Glimpse by Stacey Wallace Benefiel: Sadly another YA example of romance I feel jumps from "crush" to "twoo wuv" too quickly. But Zellie's voice is hilarious and I like reading about her and her life. 

To see all my reviews (lately they've only been a paragraph or so long), you can visit me on Goodreads

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Author Interview: Adam M. Johnson

The author I'm interviewing today has a unique novel out called Loud, Disorderly & Boisterous.  It's currently available on Amazon.

Adam M. Johnson, ladies and gentlemen!

Fill in the blanks: [My book above] is like [book/movie/TV show] meets [a different book/movie/TV show].
Loud, Disorderly & Boisterous is like A Princess Bride meets The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

What's the first sentence of this book?
New tutors came on Tuesdays.

What's the last?
“I can’t think of a reason in the world.”

Do you remember the first story you ever finished? If so, tell us about it.
If memory serves a first grader's idea of a sword and sorcery epic that I wound up giving to my first grade teacher.

How has your writing changed since you first started writing?
It has ceased to be utterly dreadful. (Or at least I hope that it's ceased to be utterly dreadful.) I think I'm slowly sauntering towards a more overtly literary style than was the case a few years ago. At any rate the paragraphs have been getting longer.

What's your favorite part about the writing process?
Those moments when a really clever solution to an otherwise intractable problem suddenly falls out of the jumbled assortment of neurons in my head. Also when you go back and really enjoy something that you've written it's one of the finer feelings in the world.

Did you ever write fanfiction? If so, for what fandoms?
Sigh. When I was ten the first really earnest stab I took at writing a novel may have been 'Star Wars' related. It was still better than 'The Phantom Menace' though.

You get to travel to the country of your choice for one week with any fictional character of your choice (not your own). Who do you choose, where do you go, and why?
Japan, with Chewbacca the Wookie. I'm just guessing that wandering around with a Wookie in tow would make any situation awesome.

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received?
From Cormac McCarthy (not, alas, in person): "Anything that doesn't take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing."

For better or worse, writing a novel is often a long, hard slog--sometimes you have to remind yourself that this is simply the price you must pay to produce something worthwhile.

You get to go to Disneyworld with one of your characters. Who do you choose and why?
Why the charming and delightful title character/heroine of course. In terms of being good amusement park company, many of the book's other characters suffer from the slight handicap of being at least slightly evil and coming from a century when regular bathing was frowned upon.

The world's scientists have just released the first time machine, and you've been chosen to get a free ride (with assurance that you'll be able to come back, of course ;). To when do you go and why?
Being an optimist I'd much prefer to head into the future... Let's see what craziness is happening by 2112... Alternately though it might make more sense to just head back a decade and tell some family members to bet the ranch on Apple stock...

What's your favorite book, whether self-published or traditionally published?
Probably my two favorite books would be Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie.

It's Saturday night. Where are you most likely to be?
In a bookstore.

Thanks, Adam! Go on and check out his book, people! It sure looks like a fun one!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Russian Tour: Shield the Heart by TK Richardson

Yay, I am excited to host TK Richardson during her blog tour for her book, Shield the Heart! Check out this unique setting in Russia, and enjoy all the stops along the way! There's even a chance to win a Kindle Fire!

Here's TK!


Hi Emily, thanks for hosting this stop on the blog tour for Shield the Heart!

The theme for this blog tour is a little different and I hope all of you will enjoy it. It’s titled ‘A Russian Tour’ because each day during the blog tour we’ll explore the Russian cities and historical sites that are the backdrop for my new YA novel Shield the Heart.

Sometimes the setting of a novel is so interesting and unique that it deserves a closer look, and that’s why I thought this blog tour would be so much fun. ‘A Russian Tour’ will give my readers a chance to get a better view of where everything in Shield the Heart takes place.

After all, these are the places that have inspired me, and I hope they inspire all of you, too.

Today on our itinerary we’re visiting Optina Monastery!

To follow along each day and visit some of the places found in Shield the Heart, be sure to follow the blog tour.

Okay, onto our destination!

Оптина пустынь

Optina Monastery is situated near Kozelsk Russia and this hermitage has been a huge inspiration to me while writing Shield the Heart. In fact, what I discovered was amazing! Not only did it fit perfectly in Shield the Heart, but I feel like it was meant to be in the story. Originally introduced in the first book, Return the Heart, this monastery is revealed more in depth in Shield the Heart.

“Optina Monastery is an Eastern Orthodox Monastery for men. In the 19th century, the Optina was the most important spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and served as the model for several other monasteries. It was particularly renowned as the centre of Russian staretsdom.”

The images alone are enough to inspire someone to look deeper at it and draw from it. In fact, Optina Monastery was visited by people of renown for spiritual guidance. Writers, philosophers, and even heads of state traveled here in search of spiritual answers and in search of the ‘Russian Soul’.

“Most of the monastery buildings were erected at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, when the monastery was being renovated as a centre of Russian staretsdom. In 1821, a hermitage for startsy was established 1,300 ft away from the monastery. The startsy attracted crowds of devout Christians to Kozelsk. Among others, Optina Pustyn was visited by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Vasily Zhukovsky, Nikolai Gogol, Ivan Turgenev, and Leo Tolstoy.”

You may wonder how an old, Russian monastery fits into a young adult novel that centers around a girl with a special gift, an ancient Russian prophecy, and one life changing choice. Although I can’t tell you how it fits into the story, I can tell you the main character, Lilly, is drawn to Optina Monastery in ways that surprise even her.

To find out more I hope you’ll read the story!

Character quote~
The almost too beautiful and seemingly intangible monastery hidden in the trees was surrounded by police officers. The one place that pulled me in was crawling with people who would pull me away. ~Lilly Paige, Shield the Heart

I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini tour of Optina Monastery. Be sure to follow us to our next destination. Tomorrow on the blog tour we’ll visit Moskovsky Train Station!

Emily, thanks again for hosting me on the blog tour. I hope you and your blog followers enjoy my new release!

One Gift, One Prophecy, One Choice

Shield the Heart

(Note: This book is part of a series. Book #1 Return the Heart. Book #2 Shield the Heart.)

What if the battle was in your heart?

Lilly’s gift of reading the heart seemed like a curse, but when she discovered her gift was linked to an old, Russian prophecy it changed everything. What she never questioned, though, was her own heart.

When the prophecy pulls Lilly back to Russia and demands to be fulfilled she is torn between love and loyalty. She must make the most difficult decision of her life and choose between the two. But Lilly’s decision is farther reaching than even she is willing to acknowledge. It stretches from East to West - from the past to the future.

Lilly discovers there’s more to the old prophecy than she realized and enemy forces are bent on stopping it from unfolding.

One thing is certain - there will be casualties. And sparing those closest to her may be impossible. While Seth attempts to shield Lilly from the truth, Nikolai reveals secrets that could change everything.

As Lilly falls into the arms of Russia she must decide: will love or loyalty reign? And can she live with the consequences? Two sides compete for Lilly’s heart and she must find the answers she needs before her enemies find her.

Shield the Heart, by T.K. Richardson, is the riveting second book in the series and takes Lilly deeper into Russia’s mysterious past… and her future.

Available in paperback and ebook (click the cover to go to Amazon).

About the author~

T.K. Richardson is the author of YA books Return the Heart, Shield the Heart, Simmer: Recipes for the Teen Palate, and Love, Me: Anthology of Short Stories. She is the founder of Partners In, a program that donates books to children in the foster care system. She also hosts Compass eBooks and runs The Writers Resource Directory, a great site for writers filled with publishing and writing links, tips and advice. Her next books are due out later this year. Find out more at

[note: all images are from google ]

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Announcing the release of Shifting Light!

The first prequel novella for The Protectors series is now available!

When a new boy moves to town, Sashe realizes how suddenly her life is about to change. Though non-magic themselves, she and her sister have grown up with shape changers, and now a deadly foe is out to banish the shape changing magic from the country. The Protectors have the ear of the king and they've cast a curse on the shape changers designed to slowly kill them off.

Sashe is forced to consider her survival when a friend of hers is killed because her father refused to help the Protectors. She's slowly falling for the new boy, but she must choose whether she and her sister can stay with the shape changers with their dangerous future. Should they decide to stay, how will they protect themselves against such powerful enemies?

First novella (nearly 22,000 words or 75 pages) in the Protectors prequels. Set ten years before Promising Light and two years before Fire and Light.

Currently available on Amazon for $1.99.

If you haven't read Promising Light, you can read the prequel novellas first. The next prequel novellas, Fire and Light and The End of Light, will be available before the end of March. I recommending reading all three before Promising Light, or reading Promising Light first. If you read Shifting Light, then jump ahead to Promising Light, you'll be spoiled about the events in the other two novellas and the sudden shift in time may be jarring (Promising Light is ten years later, but together the novellas elapse over eight years). Of course, you're the reader, so you can choose!

So, if you've liked any of the excerpts across the blog or if the synopsis snags your eye, please check out Shifting Light for only $1.99.

The Protectors: O for Outstanding

O for Outstanding
Grace and Prince William meet Childress, the owner of Childress' Traveling Circus. 

Childress paused. “Perhaps I can give you a short tour, introduce you to some of the performers. Everyone’s busy packing up, but I’m sure they wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to meet the prince.” He looked at Grace. “And his lovely escort.”

“Lady Grace,” Grace said, curtsying. 

“And you enjoyed yourself?”

“Oh, yes, it was wonderful!” 

“Well, follow me. I’m sure we can find some of those performers around here.” Childress led them into the activity of the crew and took them first to the snake charmer. He did a trick for them with his boa constrictor, and Grace positioned herself behind William warily. 

Childress found the acrobats lounging and smoking by the stables. They seemed impossibly thin and graceful even with the pipes and smell of tobacco lingering in the air. 

~Promising Light, Book One of the series

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Protectors: N for Never

N for Never
Grace asks her father if he believes in magic.

“Father, you’ve traveled more than I,” Grace said. “Does true magic exist?”

Father’s eyebrows knitted together, and he stared at her. His hesitant pause told her much more than his words. “What do you mean?”

She shrugged, dropping some seed into the birdcage. “I stopped by a booth today, and the woman there told me tall tales of healers and shape changers.”

His hands clenched into fists, and she held her breath. “That’s all they were,” he said. “Tall tales.”

Grace glanced at Kyler. “Remember when Lady Phoresa saw that man at the circus who made his hand invisible?” 

“They just trick your eyes,” Father said, waving his hand.

“She said shape changers were from Shyra,” Grace said, trying to sound casual. “You’ve visited to Shyra a lot. You’ve never seen anything like that?”

Father shook his head. “No, Grace. It doesn’t exist.” He patted her on her shoulder. “Don’t worry about things like that. You’ll be with the prince on his trip in a week.” 

“To Nyad.” Grace smiled. “I remember when you used to tell us about magical creatures who lived in Mumbar Jungle.” 

Father chuckled, but his smile didn’t reach his eyes. “Stories to get you to sleep. Which is exactly what I need right now. Goodnight, Grace.” He kissed her on the forehead, a surprisingly gentle gesture for her father. “I’m proud of you.”

~Promising Light, Book One of the series