Saturday, June 29, 2013

0 S.S.O. Summer soup by Abigail Reynolds

  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
  • 2 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh gingerroot
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced thin (about 4 cups)
  • 2 1/2 cups broth (chicken or vegetarian)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice 
  • ice water for thinning soup
  • trimmed scallions for garnish (optional)

In a large heavy saucepan cook chopped scallion, onion, and gingerroot in butter with curry powder and salt and pepper to taste over moderately low heat until softened and add carrots and broth. Simmer mixture, covered, 20 minutes, or until carrots are very soft.
In a blender purée mixture in batches with coconut milk until very smooth, transferring as puréed to a bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon lime juice and chill soup at least 6 hour or overnight.
Thin soup with ice water and season with additional lime juice and salt and pepper.
Garnish soup with trimmed scallions.

Abigail Reynold's latest book, Mr. Darcy's Noble Connections is available in stores. I've read it, and it's fabulous! She's also written quite a few books featuring the beloved Elizabeth Bennett and the heart-stopping Mr. Darcy. Check out her website for more information.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

1 Review: Catherine by April Lindner

Title: Catherine
Author: April Lindner
Publisher: Poppy
Published: January 2, 2013
ISBN13: 9780316196925
Genre: Young Adult
Source: NetGalley

Goodreads Summary:
Catherine is tired of struggling musicians befriending her just so they can get a gig at her Dad’s famous Manhattan club, The Underground. Then she meets mysterious Hence, an unbelievably passionate and talented musician on the brink of success. As their relationship grows, both are swept away in a fiery romance. But when their love is tested by a cruel whim of fate, will pride keep them apart?

Chelsea has always believed that her mom died of a sudden illness, until she finds a letter her dad has kept from her for years—a letter from her mom, Catherine, who didn’t die: She disappeared. Driven by unanswered questions, Chelsea sets out to look for her—starting with the return address on the letter: The Underground.

Told in two voices, twenty years apart, Catherine interweaves a timeless forbidden romance with a compelling modern mystery.

My thoughts:
Two years ago, I read Jane by April Lindner. Though I thought it was good, it wasn't my favorite book. So I thought I'd take a chance and read Catherine, a re-telling of Wuthering Heights. Catherine is set in modern times with music being a heavy influence and theme in the book. Music lovers will definitely like that aspect. 
The story is told from two different points-of-view: Catherine, who is the main character of the book. She meets Hense, who she's immediately taken with. They form an unbreakable bond that has a rocky exterior. Chelsea is Catherine's daughter. You might think Hense is the dad, but you're wrong. Chelsea doesn't meet Hense until she goes looking for her mom who disappeared years before. Chelsea finds out her dad had been lying to her about past events, so she runs away to try to find her mom. During which she finds out her mom wasn't exactly who she thought she was.
If you're familiar with Wuthering Heights the characters will be a familiar to you. Even the setting will have a similar feeling. Although a nightclub is a lot different from the moors. I definitely liked this book a lot more than Jane. I thought the author did a great job capturing the ambiance of Wuthering Heights  and giving it a modern twist. I love how the author let the story be told through Catherine as well as Chelsea. It helps the audience to see parallels between mother and daughter as well as their differences. I was thoroughly captivated while reading this story. I'm so glad I decided to give this book a try. If you like Wuthering Heights, you'll like this book. Even if you don't, you should give this book a try. I think you'll like it!

My rating:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

0 On Simplicity and Writing Your First Book by Shane Michael Murray

On Simplicity and Writing Your First Book

by Shane Michael Murray.

I recently published my first novel, and thought it best to give a little idea of the process I used while it is all still fresh. What I learned more than anything is that it is best to start simple and do that simple thing well. Writing is an art, and learning an art takes time. Start simple; your masterpiece can come later. 

While this information is probably most useful to new writers, I am sure experienced writers will find this interesting as well, if only to remind them of a few fundamentals.

0. Read

If you don’t read much, you probably don’t have much business writing; it’s like trying to join a team football game without going to practice to learn the rules. No matter how great the story you want to tell is, you will need to learn some skills to back it up. Monkey see, monkey do. No see, no do.

1. Write What You Know

Write in the genre you read the most. This will be the one with which you have the most absorbed experience from your years of reading. It will there be the genre where you are mostly likely able to meet the expectations that the reader will have, as different genres generally need to meet different criteria as books to succeed. 

Creating something you are familiar with also means you are less likely to make glaring errors, such as those regarding machines (guns, spaceships, nuclear reactors), magic (yes, it has certain rules), or living things (riding horses, having sex, etc.). Even for experienced writers, writing what you know makes it easier to get things right. If you have no experience with doing or reading about the things your characters are doing, then you are more likely to screw things up, so why not set the game up in your favor from the beginning?

2. Limit World Building

World builders disease is rampant among fantasy authors like myself. I was aware of this, and I deliberately set to bypass this problem by using a familiar place (a mountain), and creatures (orcs, elves, humans, ogres, giants, dwarves, dragons). Now, this does not mean I couldn't put my own spin on the location and creatures, which I very much enjoyed doing, however it did vastly reduce the amount of time I had to devote to the setting of the story. 

With all this extra time (and focus, focus is so important), I could to devote myself to the most important thing that any author, new or old, should be devoting their time to, and that is writing a story (the word count for your setting and character and plot description does not count, sorry).

2. Keep the Plot Simple.

Have you ever told a friend or family member about this amazing story that you just had to write? It had dragons, and wizards, and flying carnivorous chinaware all fighting for world domination and you get to see it all through their eyes. Only the triple split-personality hero in his thirty-two dimensional spaceship full of busty maidens named A to Z could save everyone. And then the world exploded, and they had to time travel to meet Merlin to undo it, and then he turned them into frogs, but all the while this other thing is going on and it is really awesome, you’ll love it!

Stop. Please. Just stop.

So many people we tell you “write the story you want to write”, and I won't disagree entirely with that, but I will say limit yourself to something that is manageable. I tried to write an 250,000 word epic fantasy with half a dozen POVs as my first book. It was a mess. I had too much back story, my characters were all too similar, and it went in so many directions at once that is was difficult for the reader to understand what the plot was really about, despite some interesting content in the chapters. No matter how pretty your prose, your book will be broken. It may look pretty broken, but it will still be broken.

My first book is essentially about a boy and his father, with the boy asking too many questions and his father getting angry. The story got bigger of course, introducing a dragon who wants to eat him in a few years, however I did my best to keep the story simple. Letting the story grow as it went on meant that the story got bigger while my skills were also improving, meaning I could handle it, even if by the end the plot was more complicated than it started out as (I had a draft ending in mind from the beginning though). If you cannot say what the story is about in one sentence it is probably too unclear and or too complicated. 

In my case, my story was about “one little orc with far too many questions”. 

Having this kind of pitch/mission statement will help you maintain the focus of your book. Consistency in plot and character behavior is important.

3. One POV.

Just one. No more. No less.

The POV can be in first or third, limited or omnipotent, or any other list of odd POVs, however it is probably best to stick to the POV that you are most familiar with (most likely the most common one in the genre you write). There are expectations though, I wrote first person whereas most fantasy is third limited. First person suits more personal stories better I find, so it might be something to try with your first book.

One POV will help with points 1 and 2 as well. It is hard to spend time world building from one POV, since one POV is probably not going to need as big a setting to support them, and the POV character (and therefore the reader) is probably not going to spend all their time noticing all the world building stuff, so why overkill it? Additionally, you cannot have a plot that is too complicated if they story only revolves around one person; only so much can happen in the vicinity of one POV.

4. Use a Small Number of non-POV characters

Limit the number of non-POV characters, and introduce them slowly to the POV character so you actually spend some time developing the non-POV characters. If you aren't willing to spend some time (say a chapter), developing a non-POV character, they probably do not really need to be in the story, and are likely to be pretty boring. It is better to have a small group of memorable characters, than a stack of forgettable ones. 

Using cliché characters is fine, as long as you give them a bit of flavor. A cliché can actually help the reader get into the story, since they can easily place that character in their mind. In my case I had the give-you-beatings father, the quiet mother, the fire-breathing dragon, the fat bully, the best friends, the wise grandma, and the angry blacksmith among others. Just make sure you give the cliché characters personality, and make them good at something, and you will be fine.

5. Get into the Characters Head

Books do one thing better than almost any other media, and that is thoughts. Use them. It will make your characters feel more like real people. Real people tend to focus on certain things, like a fireman noticing the fire escapes or that there is no smoke alarm. Use thoughts and focus to give your characters character, and make your readers care about them.

6. Summary

It is better to do something simple well, than something complex poorly.

A sample of The Orc of Many Questiolns can be found on my website or on the Amazon page, though my website sample is longer.

Thanks to Shane Michael Murray I have 3 to give away to a lucky reader. To enter fill out the rafflecopter form below. You must be at least 13 years old to enter. If possible, the author would love the winners to review his book on Amazon when finished reading.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

0 Cover Reveal for Wrath by Kristie Cook

I'm so excited to participate in the cover reveal of Kristie Cook's next installment in the Soul Savers Series. But first – Kristie, Tristan (the major HOTTIE!!!! From the Soul Savers Series) and Tristan's advocate Lisa need your help!

Right this very minute Tristan is participating in his first match in the NA Crush Tourney!

Then go threaten everyone you know to vote for him … or ask nicely. Whatever works. If WHEN Tristan wins, Kristie will share "A never-before-seen scene written from Tristan's point-of-view that I promise you will love. And if he wins the whole tourney? You'll get to read about their wedding night from Tristan's POV.".

Okay, now on to the gorgeous cover and title for Soul Savers Book 5:

Isn't it amazing? I can't wait for this book! It comes out later this summer and don't forget to follow Kristie for up-to-date news. Now don't forget to go vote for Tristan! Want to know why you should? Visit Lisa's blog - A Life Bound By Books for her advocate post – you'll LOVE it and while you're there VOTE for Tristan!!!

Voting starts on Monday, June 24th at 11:59 PM EST and closes Tuesday, June 25th 2013 at 11:59 PM (EST)

(Opens Monday at 8:59 PM PST and closes Tuesday at 8:59 PM PST)

Here's the link:

Tweet like crazy! Be sure to include the following hashtags and the link in your tweets so we can find you and others know where they can vote for Tristan too!

#NACrushTourney - #KnightRiders -

And don't forget to grab an eBook copy of the first book Soul Savers Series, Promise! It's FREE!!! On all platforms! Here's the links:

Order the FREE eBook Online here: AmazonBarnes and NobleiBooksKoboSmashwords

In the UK: AmazoniBooks

Monday, June 24, 2013

0 The Week Before The Wedding

Title: The Week Before the Wedding
Author: Beth Kendrick
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Paperback, 337 pages
ISBN: 978-0-451-41573-8
Genre: Romance
Source: Publisher

Goodreads Summary:
After enduring a chaotic childhood, Emily McKellips yearns for a drama-free life, complete with a white picket fence. Her dreams are about to come true: She has a stellar career, a gorgeous house, and a fiancé any woman would die for. But as friends and family arrive in picturesque Valentine, Vermont, for her wedding, an uninvited guest shows up.

Ryan is Emily’s first husband from a disastrous starter marriage. They wed on a whim, only to discover that combustible chemistry couldn’t ensure a happily ever after. But Ryan is no longer the headstrong boy she left behind. He’s now a successful film producer who just happens to be scouting a resort in Valentine with his adorable retriever in tow.

As the bridesmaids revolt and the mothers of the bride and groom do battle, Emily is surprised to discover new sides of both her ex and her fiancé. She thought she had life and love all figured out, but the next seven days might change her mind—and her heart.

My thoughts:
This is a great book to read during the summer. The Week Before The Wedding is an endearing story about a girl, a boy, and a dog. Emily McKellips has always been a non-traditionalist. However something happened in her life that changed all that. Now she's getting ready to marry a neurosurgeon who is as straitlaced as they come. She's also getting married in the picturesque town of Valentine, Vermont. Emily is trying her hardest to keep everything and everyone in check as the biggest day of her life slowly approaches. However Emily is blindsided when her ex-husband shows up at the inn where she's staying. Now Emily isn't so sure she's marring the right man.
I loved this book from start to finish. The only flaw is that it's predictable. However the book is so much fun that you don't care. Emily is trying to so hard to be what she's not it's kind of comical. Her mom and best friend aren't quite conventional, and they remind Emily of who she really is. Eric is a guy who could star in most women's fantasies. He's not quite what Emily remembers him being. This book has humor, romance, and the theme of be true to yourself. It's a great, entertaining read that you will enjoy.
My rating:

Saturday, June 22, 2013

1 teaser of the cover for the fifth book in the Soul Saver Series

I'm thrilled to share with you a teaser of the cover for the fifth book in the Soul Saver Series By: Kristie Cook that I LOVE! Take a look and see what you think, and keep an eye out for the FULL cover reveal coming this Tuesday!

Title: TBA on Tuesday!
Author: Kristie Cook
Publisher: Ang'dora Productions, LLC (Coming SUMMER 2013)
Find Kristie and her books on: Goodreads

Synopsis to follow!

Haven't read the series? How about a FREE eBook copy of Promise? It's FREE on ALL platforms! Yes it is! Here's links where you can get YOUR FREE COPY TODAY!

Order the FREE eBook Online here: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords

In the UK: Amazon, iBooks

Okay, Lisa at A Life Bound By Books is still looking for HELP with the #NACrushTourney for none other than Tristan Knight himself! She's created a Street Team called #KnightRiders and would LOVE to have YOU help Tristan make his way to VICTORY!! The first round is coming up quick. Here's all the info you need to know so far.

Oh and EVERYONE who helps with the Tourney by joining the Street Team and doing tasks will be ENTERED TO WIN PRIZES!!! YES! PRIZES!!! More from Lisa about that later.

Now... Lisa can't do this on her own, so this is where you guys come in.

First and most important, Tristan has his first round coming up, so we all have to act fast! Voting opens for the first round on ****Monday, June 25th at 11:59PM EST (or for us on the west coast, Monday at 8:59PM PST)**** Once the post is up, the voting can begin and will only be open for 24 HOURS! You'll be able to VOTE both at A Life Bound By Books and at the NA ALLY! (During the 24 hour voting period I believe you'll be able to vote from multiple devices so everyone should keep that in mind.)

Wondering what we'll ALL win when Tristan WINS? Straight from Kristie herself -

And here's my reward if he wins Round 1 (please put in both posts): "A never-before-seen scene written from Tristan's point-of-view that I promise you will love. And if he wins the whole tourney? You'll get to read about their wedding night from Tristan's POV."

Looking to sign up for #KnightRiders Street TeamHere's the quick form to fill out. Every thing will happen in a few emails so not to worry about having your inbox bogging down. Also, all info, emails, etc will be deleted at the end of the tournament.

Grab the button below, add it to blogs, Facebook, change your twitter pic, etc! Put it up everywhere you can!!


Tweet like crazy! Be sure to include the following hashtags so we can find you on twitter -

#NACrushTourney #KnightRiders

Here's some other important links to follow and watch for -

Find on Twitter: A Life Bound By Books, Tristan, Kristie Cook

Find on Facebook: A Life Bound By Books, Tristan, Kristie Cook

Title: Promise (Soul Savers #1)

Author: Kristie Cook

Publisher: Ang'dora Productions, 369 Pages (August 11, 2011)

Add to: Goodreads

Order the FREE eBook Online here: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords

Synopsis: New Adult Paranormal Romance ** Mature Content ** Recommended for ages 16+ due to sexual situations and language.

First installment of award-winning author Kristie Cook's bestselling Soul Savers Series

Alexis Ames has a life full of promise...but not all promises can be kept.

When Alexis Ames is attacked by creatures that can't be real, she decides it's time she learns who she really is, with or without the help of her mother, who guards their family's secrets closely. After meeting the inhumanly attractive, multi-talented Tristan Knight, however, Alexis retreats behind her façade of normalcy...until she discovers he's not exactly normal either. Then their secrets begin to unravel.

Their union brings hope and promise to her family's secret society, the Angels' army, and to the future of mankind. But it also incites a dangerous pursuit by the enemy - Satan's minions and Tristan's creators. After all, Alexis and Tristan are a match made in Heaven and in Hell.

1st Place - 2010 Royal Palm Literary Award - Fantasy (Published) by Florida Writers Association.

Keep an eye out on A Life Bound By Books on all platforms for more info coming soon including - News, Giveaways and other Exciting things for the tourney!

About the Author
Kristie Cook is a lifelong, award-winning writer in various genres, from marketing communications to fantasy fiction. She continues to write the Soul Savers Series, a New Adult paranormal romance/contemporary fantasy, with the first four books, Promise, Purpose, Devotion and Power available now and the next book coming in June 2013. She’s also written a companion novella, Genesis: A Soul Savers Novella, currently available. Over 160,000 Soul Savers books have been sold, with Promise peaking at #54 on the Amazon Top 100 Paid list and at #1 in the Amazon Fantasy category.
The Space Between, which releases April 2013, kicks off her second New Adult paranormal series, The Book of Phoenix.
Besides writing, Kristie enjoys reading, cooking, traveling and riding on the back of a motorcycle. She has lived in ten states, but currently calls Southwest Florida home with her husband, three teenage sons, a beagle and a puggle. She can be found at:

Author's Website & Blog:
Soul Savers Series Website:

0 How Lauren Baratz-Logsted likes to chill during the summer.

I'm afraid to say, you don't get over 30 books published in 10 years by worrying yourself overmuch with domestic issues. My motto? "If the microwave still works, we're eating tonight; and if nothing is actively crawling, this place is clean enough." So how do I keep cool in the summer? Very nicely. I open a bottle of Prosecco, fill the big wineglass so I don't have to waste too much time on extra trips to the fridge, and then I take it and a good book and go to sit on the bench out front. As of this writing, it's not officially summer yet, but it is a gorgeous day out, which means that tonight you can find me... 

Lauren Baratz-Logsted, author of The Bro-Magnet and Pursuing the Times  

Friday, June 21, 2013

1 The Bookman's Tale Giveaway

Hay-on-Wye, 1995. Peter Byerly isn’t sure what drew him into this particular bookshop. Nine months earlier, the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, had left him shattered. The young antiquarian bookseller relocated from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping to rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books. But upon opening an eighteenth-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, Peter is shocked when a portrait of Amanda tumbles out of its pages. Of course, it isn’t really her. The watercolor is clearly Victorian. Yet the resemblance is uncanny, and Peter becomes obsessed with learning the picture’s origins.

As he follows the trail back first to the Victorian era and then to Shakespeare’s time, Peter communes with Amanda’s spirit, learns the truth about his own past, and discovers a book that might definitively prove Shakespeare was, indeed, the author of all his plays.

Thanks to Viking, I have one copy of The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession to give away to a lucky reader. This giveaway is restricted to the US. You must be at least 13 years old to enter. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 The Look of Love by Bella Andre feature


Bella Andre
$5.99 U.S./$5.99 CAN.
ISBN-13: 978-0-7783-1556-8
Available at Amazon
Chloe Peterson is having a bad night. A really bad night. The large bruise on her cheek can attest to that. When her car skids off the side of a wet country road and into a ditch, she’s convinced even the gorgeous guy who rescues her in the middle of the rain storm must be too good to be true. Or is he?

A successful photographer who frequently travels around the world, Chase Sullivan has his pick of beautiful women. Chase thinks his life is great just as it is—until the night he finds Chloe and her totaled car on the side of the road in Napa Valley. Not only has Chase never met anyone so lovely, both inside and out, he realizes Chloe has much bigger problems than her damaged car. Soon, Chase is willing to move mountains to love—and protect—her, but will she let him?
Chloe vows never to make the mistake of trusting a man again. Only she can’t help but wonder if she’s met the only exception with every loving look Chase gives her, the attraction between them sparks and sizzles.
Chase didn’t realize his life was going to change forever in an instant, and he isn’t the least bit interested in fighting that change. Instead, he’s gearing up for a different fight altogether—for Chloe’s heart.
Bella Andre is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, and has sold more than 1.5 million books.  Her books have appeared on Top 5 lists at Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. After signing a groundbreaking seven-figure print only deal with Harlequin MIRA, Bella’s Sullivan series will be released in paperback in a major global English language launch in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia in continuous back-to-back releases from June 2013 through April 2014.
Known for “sensual, empowered stories enveloped in heady romance” (Publishers Weekly), her books have been Cosmopolitan Magazine “Red Hot Reads” twice and have been translated into nine languages, and her Sullivan books are already Top 20 sellers in Brazil. Winner of the Award of Excellence, The Washington Post has called her “One of the top digital writers in America” and she has been featured by NPR, USA Today, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and most recently in TIME Magazine. She has given keynote speeches at publishing conferences from Copenhagen to Berlin to San Francisco.
If not behind her computer, you can find her reading her favorite authors, hiking, swimming or laughing. Married with two children, Bella splits her time between the Northern California wine country and a 100-year-old log cabin in the Adirondacks.

Praise for Bella Andre
“Bella Andre writes warm, sexy, contemporary romance that always gives me a much needed pick me up. Reading one of her books is truly a pleasure.”
--New York Times bestselling author Maya Banks
The Look of Love is an emotionally compelling, thoroughly sexy, lovely read. I can’t wait for more Sullivan brothers!”

--New York Times bestselling author Carly Phillips
“Sensual, empowered stories enveloped in heady romance.”
-- Publishers Weekly
“Don’t miss a single one of Bella’s titles”
--Affaire de Coeur magazine

Thursday, June 20, 2013

0 Win A Trip To The Set of Vampire Academy

The Weinstein Company (the producers of Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters) is sending one lucky fan (and a traveling companion) to London to hang with the cast of Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters!

All you have to do is visit in order to enter. No contests, no hoops to jump through, just your information and your Vampire Academy fan fervor! 

The movie set to release February 14, 2014. It's directed by Mark Waters and starring  Zoey DeutchDanila Kozlovsky and Lucy Fry. And most importantly Danila Valerievich Kozlovsky will be playing Dimitri:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

0 The Rockin’ Chair excerpt

The Rockin’ Chair excerpt

Alice could feel the sun on her eyelids before she dared opening them. Beginning with a squint, she was blinded by the light that engulfed the room. Taking a second to adjust, she shook off the two quilts that restrained her, and then grabbed for her flowered housecoat at the foot of the massive bed. Throwing it on, she steadied her tiny feet into a pair of worn moccasins, all-the-while wondering, Why didn’t Ma let me sleep in? It don’t make no sense. It’s Saturday…with no responsibilities to school or church. She felt tired, more exhausted than usual, but waking to a fire burning into her pupils was certainly not the way to start such a pretty day. Making the mental note, I’ll have to talk to Ma about the rude awakening, she stumbled and had to brace herself at the doorway. Her mind had sent some message that her body could not interpret. Brushing it off as fatigue, she started again toward the kitchen, thinking, Maybe Ma will let me help with breakfast?
Grabbing the dented copper kettle off the stove, she turned to the sink and let the water flow like one of the fresh mountain springs that ran out in the backyard. She lit all four burners, placed the kettle back on the stove and began humming a childish tune. The last embers in the wood stove made her nostrils flare at the distinct scent of burnt oak. Smells like the remnants of a late night’s chill, she thought, one of my chores to remove. But she couldn’t recall bringing in the wood, or lighting a fire. Shrugging it off, she snugged down on the robe’s cotton belt, folded her arms across her chest and continued to hum.
She wandered toward the kitchen window and, though she could not have fought it off, nor even detected it, her mind was suddenly exposed to a different reality. Like a child discovering a new world through ancient eyes, she peered out the window and her jaw went slack.
A stranger was busy at work and the sight of him made Alice’s mouth go dry. Her heart began to race and her breathing became shallow. Yet, though the man’s presence absolutely terrified her, his every movement was hypnotizing. Trembling, she stood paralyzed and watched.
He was a large fellow, maybe six feet or better, with shoulders as broad as his smile. In his fists, he held cracked corn, scattering it in a pattern so that every chicken had its fair chance. He was an old-timer, his face wrinkled and weathered like his callused hands. In the middle of that chiseled face sat the biggest nose. Curiously—as if she’d thought it a million times before—she decided that it showed great character. For a cruel second, he turned toward the window, making her squirm with anxiety. She relaxed, though, when she was sure that his liquid blue eyes had not found her. He returned to working slow, his every move filled with purpose and kindness.
But that moment of peace only lasted one single sigh of relief. As if caught in an inescapable nightmare, she watched the man’s three-legged dog limp straight to the window, glance up and tilt his head—cynically. Though she could not manage the words from her constricted throat, her eyes begged for the animal’s silence. Please don’t, she pleaded in her mind. Please…please…please… But it was not to be. The crippled mutt barked out his wailing alarm, calling his master’s attention to her. In an instant, she felt her knees buckle, as the room spun slowly—in a cruel sort of way. She tried desperately to hold on, but the last thing she saw was a red cap and green overcoat rushing for the house.
“Oh!” she screamed, but the stranger kept coming. He’s comin’ to get me, she feared, and though her mind pleaded for her legs to flee, they would not budge. She collapsed to the cold linoleum floor and awaited the worse.

With no more than a stern look, Three Speed lay down on the porch, the storm door slamming in his silver-haired face. John raced through the parlor and could hear the teakettle screaming for help. Breaking the kitchen threshold, his worried eyes caught Alice lying near the bottom cupboard. Her frail body was rolled up in the fetal position and her thumb was stuck in her mouth. As if he were approaching a wounded bird, he slowly kneeled down beside her and held out his hand. She swayed back and forth, humming louder with each movement. For what seemed a lifetime, she avoided his stare. And then finally, courageously, she glanced into his eyes. For a moment, she looked as if she was going to accept his hand but, in the last glimmer of such a hope, she pulled back, retreating deeper into her tortured mind.
“It’s me, darlin’,” John whispered. “It’s John…your husband.”
“You do look some familiar,” she mumbled. But still, her eyes betrayed her lack of trust.
Again, he whispered, “Come on, Alice. I’m not gonna hurt ya. You’re just sick, ol’ girl.” He opened his hand even wider and watched as her horrified eyes gradually registered his words as truth.
Like an abandoned child who had lost all hope only to find that her parents had not meant to leave her behind, Alice raised her arms and began to weep mournfully. “I’m sorry…” she whimpered.
In one easy motion, John scooped his tiny wife into his arms and kissed her frightened face. Turning off all four burners—the majority that did nothing but lick at air—he carried Alice like an infant to their bedroom. All the way, he could taste the salt of her tears on his tongue. It was a bitter taste and he hated it, yet he knew all-too-well that it was only a small taste of what was still to come.
On the way up the stairs, Alice sobbed, “I’m so stupid now…so dumb.”
“You shoosh now,” John whispered. “That just ain’t true.”
He placed her back into their four-poster bed and, conforming to their daily ritual, gave her the two white pills and a small glass of water to wash them down. He talked slow and gentle to her, trying to remove her fears and keep her mind in the present. “Time to rest, Alice,” he whispered. “You just need to get some rest, is all.”
For a moment, she smiled—as if she believed him. But in the next moment, her eyes filled with panic and she pushed herself toward the headboard, scrambling desperately to create a safe distance between them. “Don’t you touch me, mister!” she screamed. “Don’t you dare lay a finger on me!”
She’s getting’ worse, he thought, and began humming a lullaby.
“Mama! Mama…help me!” she screamed out, but as she called out in a panic for her mother the pills began to take effect. He stroked her hair until her mind eventually removed itself from the harsh reality of now and found a more pleasant place to dwell. When John was sure that Alice would need nothing more, he kissed her and returned the cap back onto his throbbing head.

Brief Synopsis:
Memories are the ultimate contradiction. They can warm us on our coldest days – or they can freeze a loved one out of our lives forever. The McCarthy family has a trove of warm memories. Of innocent first kisses. Of sumptuous family meals. Of wondrous lessons learned at the foot of a rocking chair. But they also have had their share of icy ones. Of words that can never be unsaid. Of choices that can never be unmade. Of actions that can never be undone.

Following the death of his beloved wife, John McCarthy – Grandpa John – calls his family back home. It is time for them to face the memories they have made, both warm and cold. Only then can they move beyond them and into the future.

A rich portrait of a family at a crossroad, THE ROCKIN' CHAIR is Steven Manchester’s most heartfelt and emotionally engaging novel to date. If family matters to you, it is a story you must read.

Author Bio:  Steven Manchester is the published author of the #1 best seller, Twelve Months, as well as A Christmas Wish (the holiday prequel to Goodnight, Brian) and Goodnight, Brian. He is also the Pressed Pennies, The Unexpected Storm: The Gulf War Legacy and Jacob Evans, as well as several books under the pseudonym, Steven Herberts. His work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning and BET’s Nightly News. Recently, three of his short stories were selected "101 Best" for Chicken Soup for the Soul series.!/AuthorStevenManchester 

Paperback & Kindle: 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

1 Dark Innocence Blog Tour: Rahima Warren Guest Post and Giveaway

 My Unusual Writer’s Journey

Once upon a time, I was a psychotherapist, minding my own business, and seeing my clients. I never thought I’d write a fantasy story, let alone a trilogy! Then one day, I wrote a little story in my journal. The idea was to write down my inner fantasy/dream character’s story so he’d stop bugging me. Big mistake!
That little story ignited a bonfire! Over a decade later, I’ve retired from my practice, and have written a dark, deep, spiritual and healing fantasy trilogy, entitled THE STAR-SEER’S PROPHECY. So far the first book in the trilogy, DARK INNOCENCE, has been published.
How’d this happen, you ask? It wasn’t my idea! The hero—his name is Kyr, by the way—had quite a journey to go on. The only way he could do it was to take over my life and turn me into a writer. Of course, I could have told him “no” and kept on ignoring him. But one thing I had learned on my journey was to honor whatever emerges from the unconscious/dreaming mind, no matter how uncomfortable; to give it artistic expression; and discover its message. At this point in my life, I was finally ready to listen to Kyr. I just had no idea what a long, deep journey I was getting myself into!
In fact, from one angle, it seems like my whole life was preparation to write Kyr’s story. I had to go on my own healing journey, which started during my first marriage in my 20s. I found myself spending hours contemplating homicide, but decided getting into therapy was a better idea. (LOL!) Having derived much healing and peace from my inner work, I wanted to help others in this way. So I went back to school in my late 30s, earned M.A.s in counseling psychology and transpersonal counseling, and my MFT license, and become a guide for others on their healing journeys. I was stunned by how much suffering and abuse people endure, and totally amazed by our ability to recover and heal ourselves with the right help.
Another part of my unwitting preparation to write Kyr’s story was learning to trust the messages of the unconscious mind. First, I learned to work with dreams through creative imagination. (You can see some of my dreamwork and expressive art on my site here: Then I delved deeper into working with the dreaming mind through sandplay therapy. Next, I become an expressive arts therapist, in which the creative process is focused on freely expressing whatever you are feeling or envisioning without any regard for art techniques or for producing ’fine art’ and/or pieces to sell. No critiques or even positive comments allowed! In all of these ways, I learned to ignore the inner critic/judge, go with the creative flow, and follow it to its natural conclusion.
After all this trusting creative play, I was finally ready. Kyr’s story blazed forth in a passionate, creative inferno. It was so much fun to write whatever came--no matter how dark--that I snuck off to write whenever I could, staying up late, neglecting the housework, and the marketing for my practice, etc. I wrote from my heart with no plan or outline. Being a psychotherapist, I did my best to imagine what Kyr would be feeling as he evolved from a cold, obedient slave of evil to a human, vulnerable man. In some sense, he was my alter-ego. I had to imagine being him, to see with his eyes, and write down whatever he showed me. It was an intimate relationship, a sort of thrilling, literary affair, and quite a lot of fun! If it had been work, such as outlining and plotting, etc., I never would have stuck with him and written his whole story.
After three years, I finished writing Kyr’s story, and realized that it is a powerful story with an important gift to offer, one of healing and “guidance through suffering,” as one reader has said. Finally, Dark Innocence, Book 1 of the Star-Seer’s Prophecy, was published by Rose Press in 2011, and now the e-book versions are available in all formats!
About the story, I’ll just say that Kyr’s dark and difficult journey brings him healing, redemption, and love. Yes, he does eventually fall in love – with Jolanya, a Priestess-Healer of the Banished Goddess. But to find out more, you’ll have to read the book. J

ABOUT Dark Innocence: Book One of the Star-Seer's Prophecy by Rahima Warren
The “twin-souled dark innocent,” Kyr, is a youth born and raised to blindly carry out the Soul-Drinker’s brutal commands. At first, Kyr’s one desire is death, the only escape from the Soul-Drinker’s hellish rule. Just when he is about to get his wish, the secret Circle rescues him. Now he has to choose between the familiar easy path of despair and death, or the hard path of healing, living, and a greater destiny, about which he knows nothing. How can a slave who has known only evil, pain and obedience choose to become a man of courage and compassion, and fulfill the Star Seer's Prophecy?

Giveaway Info
Rahima is giving away prizes, including an e-copy of her book at each blog stop on her tour AND a Grand Prize Giveaway of a Custom Jumbo Tote Bag with your choice of fan art, chosen from here:, plus other goodies, including a signed copy of Dark Innocence for one lucky winner, shipped to anywhere in the world!

1)      To win a book: Leave a comment on this blog post about what is your favorite fantasy trilogy to be entered to win a book. Be sure to leave your email address in the comments so we can contact you if you’re the lucky winner. This giveaway ends five days after the post goes live.

2)      To win the Custom Jumbo Tote Bag with Rahima’s fan art of your choice, or a signed copy of Dark Innocence, or other goodies, click the link to go to Rahima’s website here: and enter the Rafflecopter at the bottom of the page. A winner will be selected on June 21st.

Enter for the Grand Prize on Rahima’s website here:

Rahima Warren’s Bio:
Rahima Warren is the author of Dark Innocence: Book One of the Star-Seer's Prophecy, a deep, rich novel of the healing journey. With Master's degrees in Clinical and Transpersonal Psychology, she was in private practice as a licensed psychotherapist for over 20 years. In 2006, Rahima retired to focus on her expressive painting, creative writing, and spiritual studies.
In her work with clients recovering from abuse, she was awed by the human capacity to heal, and to reach new levels of forgiveness, wholeness and happiness. She also learned to trust the psyche's own process. This enabled her to allow a dark and mysterious story to flood forth unhindered: Dark Innocence: Book One of the Star-Seer's Prophecy
Rahima is a third-generation native of California and resides with her husband in Northern California, where she periodically chases squirrels off the wild bird feeders, and deer away from her roses. Her life-long love of fantasy is her parents' fault: they left sci-fi & fantasy magazines with fascinating cover art lying around the house.

Rahima Warren’s website-
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Dark Innocence: Book One of the Star-Seer's Prophecy on Amazon:
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