Win a free paperback of CRUX by Julie Reece!

 She should have run. Now, she’ll have to fight.

Eighteen year old Birdie may be homeless, but she’s surviving, that is until a mysterious guy throws money in the air like a crazy game show host, and she grabs some with the idea she’ll be able to buy dinner that night.

In that singular moment, unassuming Birdie becomes the girl in everyone’s viewfinder. Thugs want to kill her. Money-guy wants to recruit her. The very hot, very rich, and very out of her league Grey Mathews wants to save her.

Birdie, though, wants nothing to do with any of them, until she realizes fate didn’t bring them all together.

Her heritage did.

Now, with only twenty-one days left, she’s got to decide whether to follow in the footsteps of those before her or risk her life for people she’s only just met.

What the reviews are saying:

“Julie Reece’s fantastic debut novel, Crux, is action-packed and has the sweetest romance I’ve read so far this summer! Birdie’s anything but a meek girl ready to back down when faced with a challenge. No, she’s the strong heroine readers dream of and she’s ready and willing to take on an impossible task.” ~ Candace, Lovey Dovey Books

Action-packed with a memorable cast of characters, Crux will easily appeal to teen and adult readers, whether or not they love urban fantasy. The short length and quick pace will appeal to reluctant readers without sacrificing plot or dumbing-down the story. “ ~ Mrs. Reader Pants (YA book reviewer)

So, what do you have to do to win your own paperback copy of Crux?

1.  You must follow this blog.

2.  You must live in the continental USA (sorry, I have to watch shipping expenses)

3.  You  must answer all the following questions correctly:

a.  Thor is the Norse god of what?

b.  Thor’s father is?

c.  Why was Thor banished to earth?

PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE YOUR ANSWERS HERE.  E-mail your responses to me at kford2007 (at) gmail (dot) com and leave your full name.  Everyone who answers all questions correctly and follows my blog, their names will be placed in a pot and the lucky winner will be announced on August 3!  Good luck!!

While YA Authors took over my blog…

Two lovely bloggers gave me a total of three blog awards.

From Susan at mywithershins, I got

And from Jennifer at


Thank you so, so much, ladies.  All were a complete surprise.

Now, what to do.  For The Booker Award, I have to list my top 5 favorite books of all time.  This is not hard for me as these are books I’ve read over and over again and never tire of.  Here they are in no particular order.

1.  Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
2.  Watership Down by Richard Adams
3.  1984 by George Orwell
4.  The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
5.  Animal Farm by George Orwell

Runner ups (because I HAVE to mention them):

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Heidi, by Johanna Spyri
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

Now onto the awards from Jennifer.  To accept, I have to:

1.  post the awards on my blog (check)
2.  thank the blogger for the nomination (done but will do again and again.  Thank you, thank you thank you!!!!)
3.  List seven things about myself.
4.  Nominate seven bloggers for the awards.

hmmm…7 things about me:

1.  I snore when I sleep (I don’t hear me, though)
2.  I love walks in the rain.
3.  Asti Spumanti is my sparkling wine of choice.
4.  I am very irritated by hypocritical people.
5.  I like hiking and camping out.
6.  My biggest regret is that I sold my 1966 Mustang to move to Florida in 1982.  I sold it for twice what I paid for it.
7.  In all my years, I have never broken a bone in my body.

Now, who to nominate.  I hate this part because I love all the blogs I visit and follow.

For the Booker Award, I nominate the following:

1. Katy Upperman
2. Jennifer Eaton
3. Robin Coyle
4. Be Not Afeard
5. Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy

For the Sisterhood of World Bloggers Award:

1.  Did Jesus Have a Facebook Page
2.  Amy M. Newman
3.  This Little Light
4.  Kourtney Heintz
5.  The View Outside

Last but not least, the Tell Me About Yourself Award:

1.  Jamie Ayres
2. Gloria Richard
3.  Wantoncreation
4.  Elvishjesusfreak
5.  Rantings of an Amateur Chef
6.  The Change Your Life blog

Meet YA author, Rachel Coker, wordsmith of Interrupted: Life Beyond Words and Chasing Jupiter

Wow, what a week it’s been.  We’ve met some amazing YA authors and been introduced to some really spectacular reads.  I hope you all have enjoyed meeting these fantastic authors and talking to them, and adding their books to your Must Read lists.  Please give a round of applause to everyone who participated.  It’s been loads of fun.

Today is the last day of the YA Author Blog Takeover and I have a wonderful surprise for you.  Rachel Coker is the author of the historical YA novel that is taking the world by storm:  Interrupted:  Life Beyond Words.  See what some reviewers are saying:

“A feel-good story for both heart and soul.” ~ Kirkus Review

” An unpredictable and engrossing tale of how grief, faith and romance collide within the heart of a girl, Interrupted: Life Beyond Words is quite an achievement – and teen novelist Rachel Coker is an author to watch.” ~ USA Today

“Coker writes an emotionally compelling and psychologically nuanced tale. The plot has some weak spots: Allie manages to overhear not one but two crucial incidents that give her unexpected information, and some of her character development late in the story is abrupt. But the historical context is an engaging narrative frame. Coker is one to watch.’ ~ Publishers Weekly Review

And what is even more amazing is the author is only sixteen years old.   *Gasp*  I know, right?

So, without any further introductions, I hand over my blog to the über-talented, awe-inspiring, Rachel Coker.  Be prepared to have your heart and soul touched by an angel.

I’ve always loved YA Fiction. Maybe that came from being an overly mature child, or maybe it was the result of the enormous pile of high-school reading list books I always plowed through during summer breaks. When I look back on the books that inspired me to write, it was always the YA literature that had the biggest impact. And, as a teenager, I still find myself relating to the stories of young people in my favorite books.

Yep, you read that right. I’m a teenager. Sixteen. And, believe it or not, I’m also a YA author. My first novel, Interrupted: Life Beyond Words, was published with Zondervan in March. It’s not easy to be a YA author, but it is honestly the funnest, most rewarding job I could ever imagine.

I never set out to be an author of any sort, though. Two years ago, my life pretty much matched that of any other fourteen-year-old girl. My world revolved around schoolwork and babysitting and, oh yeah ,I wrote. Being a writer was never a huge emphasis, actually. It was more of a secret hobby. A way to let out my feelings and thoughts in private. In my stories, I created characters that were just like me and that related to my life circumstances. They were teens, too, who struggled with the same emotions of excitement, fear, joy, and confusion.

I wish I had an amazing, motivational, inspiring publication story to share with you all, but the truth is I just don’t. I always joke that I sort of stumbled into the lap of Zondervan. I did my fair share of praying, obviously, and clumsily made my way through the querying process. I literally Googled “Christian literary agents” and sent emails to about fifteen well-respected individuals. It should come as no surprise to you that every single one of them flat-out rejected me—except for one. I have no idea what Bill Jensen saw in little fourteen-year-old me, but for some reason he decided to sign my book, and within a few weeks I had a publishing deal with Zondervan.

Sometimes I still feel overwhelmed when I think about the responsibility of being a signed author with an established publishing company. And there are definitely days when I want to pull my hair out and scream, “How am I supposed to survive getting my driver’s license and passing Spanish and writing another stupid novel before the end of the year???”

But then I sit back and think of what an amazing opportunity I have been given. To write to teens. These in-between years are so crazy and emotional and overwhelming, and we need good examples to ground us. I know that my own perspective has been very much shaped by the books I have read and characters I have loved.

As a teen myself, I see YA fiction as a God-given chance to make a difference in another teen’s life. I may never get to meet that reader personally, but I can still encourage them. Through the characters I create and the values I share through my writing, I may have an impact on someone’s life that I’ll never even know about.

My second novel, Chasing Jupiter, is coming out this December. The storyline revolves around a teenage girl growing up in 1969 who feels her family is misunderstood and thought of as freaks, just because they’re a little eclectic. How many teens feel the same way in real life and, just like Scarlett in Chasing Jupiter, are struggling to keep their family and life together in the midst of unbelievable turmoil and confusion? Or how many are suffering like Allie in my first novel, Interrupted, with the blow of losing a parent or loved one, or being thrust into an uncomfortable situation that they have no desire for?

The teen years are so confusing and sticky. Take it from someone who knows. 😉 But what we have to remember as YA authors is to write books that will give teens answers. That will give them hope. That will remind them that they’re not alone and that they have a voice.

To be an author is a huge responsibility. But it’s also something that should make you excited and eager. Every time I receive a letter or an email from a teen that was touched by my book or story, it brings a huge smile to my face. Because that is what we are here to do. To inspire, encourage, and give answers to teens. And I hope that the older I grow, I’ll just keep loving it even more!

Isn’t she lovely?  I can’t begin to tell you how thrilled I was when Rachel agreed to take part on my YA Blog Takeover.  She has inspired me in so many ways and I’m looking forward to reading even more books by this very talented young author.  She is going places.  Please take a moment to introduce yourself and leave a message for Rachel.  She’s such a sweet young lady and so easy to talk to.

You can find Rachel at the following links and don’t forget to add INTERRUPTED: life beyond words and her new novel, CHASING JUPITER, to your TBR lists.


Rachel’s bio:  Sixteen-year-old author Rachel Coker has a passion for great books, and has been surrounded by them all her life. Her first YA novel, Interrupted: Life Beyond Words, was published with Zondervan in March 2012, and her second book, Chasing Jupiter, is due to be released in December 2012. When she is not writing, playing the piano, or hiding behind a camera, Rachel enjoys spending time with her family and friends and serving her Lord and Savior. You can visit her at her blog.

Interrupted: A Life Beyond WordsDescription:  Can love really heal all things? If Sam Carroll hadn’t shown up, she might have been able to get to her mother in time. Instead, Allie Everly finds herself at a funeral, mourning the loss of her beloved mother. She is dealt another blow when, a few hours later, she is sent from Tennessee to Maine to become the daughter of Miss Beatrice Lovell, a prim woman with a faith Allie cannot accept. Poetry and letters written to her mother become the only things keeping Allie’s heart from hardening completely. But then Sam arrives for the summer, and with him comes many confusing emotions, both toward him and the people around her. As World War II looms, Allie will be forced to decide whether hanging on to the past is worth losing her chance to be loved.

Description (from Rachel’s blog):

Chasing Jupiter takes place in the summer of 1969, and it revolves around the story of sixteen-year-old Scarlett Blaine, who is growing up in small-town Georgia with her quirky and dysfunctional family. Scarlett has a younger brother named Cliff, who is definitely the oddball of the group. Strange, sometimes moody, and always entertaining, Cliff definitely keeps Scarlett on her toes. Adding even more color to the picture is her eccentric grandfather, Grandpop Barley, whose world revolves around red ties and peanut butter. And then there’s Juli, Scarlett’s beautiful and rebellious older sister, who is doing everything she can to cause strains in the family. Together, they make up quite the loony bunch, and stick out like sore thumbs in the community.

But what starts off as a bright, fun-loving summer quickly down spirals into one of Scarlett’s biggest challenges yet. As the pressures of life and the demands of the outside world start to have their toll on her family, she must learn that protecting and cherishing those she loves is the most important job she has. Scarlett finds herself tottering on the brink of childhood and adulthood, afraid and uncertain about family, love, and the future. But the events that unfold that summer are big enough to change her life forever.

Expected Release Date for Chasing Jupiter:  December, 2012

I want to give a special thank you and big hugs to all of you, my readers, for stopping by and taking the time to meet my guests.  It means a lot to me and to them.  I hope to see you around and stay tuned.  There might just be another blog takeover in December.  *wink*

Also, stay tuned for more author interviews/tours coming in August.  Until next time, keep your feet on the ground and never stop reaching for the stars.

Meet YA author, Jamie Ayres, ink-slinger of 18 Things

 Hi everyone! Thanks for dropping by the YA Blog Takeover.   Today we have the crazy, off-beat, simply irresistible, Jamie Ayres.  Yaaaayyyy!  If you’ve missed any of the previous YA author blog events, you can catch up here, here, here, here, here, here and here. (that’s a lot of catch up)!  🙂

Okay, Jamie, now that I got everyone’s attention, take it away!

Hi, ya’ll *waves* Big shout out to Jenny for hosting me! Let’s get this party started . . .

My name is Jamie, my closest friends call me Jaim-O, hubby calls me Sporty Spice, daughters call me Big Mama (I try to get them to change that to “Hot Mama” but they said nobody would believe that), my students call me Mrs. Ayres or Mrs. A—I’ll basically answer to anythingJ

I’ve been blogging for two years and made the transition from Wannabe YA Writer to Bona Fide Published Author just last month. It all happened through a contest at the end of May—so if you don’t think contests are worth it, pay close attention. The contest was a call to submit our query + first 500 words to YA acquisitions editor Krystal Wade of Curiosity Quills, whom blogger buddy Sharon Bayliss had just signed a contract with. I thought, what the heck? I’ll start my summer off right with a contest and hopefully gather some valuable feedback. Everyone rocked with their comments and I got a request for the first 3 chapters from Krystal. I was excited but also kinda disappointed I didn’t get a full request. *She later told me she wasn’t going to request it at all but liked the changes I’d made based on the comments* I sent Krystal the manuscript on a Saturday morning and when I checked my email on Monday, I had a message from her requesting my full!! I got one of those really good feelings but remained only cautiously optimistic until another 2 days later, I received an offer for a publishing contract!

My first novel, 18 Things, will be published later this year as part of the My So-Called Afterlife trilogy. I didn’t set out to write YA paranormal love stories, but I guess that’s what I enjoy reading the most so that’s what flowed out of me. I love coming-of-age stories . . . that time in our lives when we’re figuring out who we are and often falling in love for the first time and kinda getting away from the watchful eye of the parentals and the vulnerability that stems from all of that. Makes for great writing material!

It’s in high school when I really discovered I wanted to be a writer. Teaching was tugging on my heartstrings too so that’s what I majored in, with the intent to write in my ‘spare’ time. Well, that’s the thing. When you’re in college, you don’t realize you won’t have any spare time when you grow-up. So that’s why it took me until the summer of 2009 to start this journey. That’ s when my wonderful husband started snoring and keeping me up at night. Since I couldn’t sleep, I wrote! I penned two cringe worthy novels and received 55 rejections until I really honed what 18 Things is today . . . guess the saying is true: Third time’s a charm! Failure was never an option for me. I have two young daughters and students (past & present) looking up to me. If I give up on my dreams, how can I turn around and tell them, “Dream big or go home!”?

I’m supposed to leave you with some parting tidbits of wisdom (hmm . . . perhaps Jenny forgot who she was talking to, lol). I’ll keep this simple with my top 5; otherwise my convoluted thoughts will take over: Be yourself (variety is the spice of life, right?) Never give up (you never fail until you quit—some smart person said that—not me)! Trust your gut (instinct is untaught ability—another smart guy named anonymous said that—not me)! Don’t stress (your novel/blog will still be there after you take off a day, a week, or even a month—take care of you first. Thanks to Jenny for being a good example on this one). And believe every rejection in life just means God has something better planned for you down the road

J ~Cheers!

Aww, Jamie, thanks for the mention.  I love your upbeat voice and can’t wait to read 18 Things.  I have to say, your method of landing a publishing contract was a bit out of the ordinary.  It doesn’t happen to most authors, so big congrats for that!  It just goes to show that every aspiring author needs to explore every avenue in writing from contests to blogs.  Who knows.  You may end up in shoes similar to Jamie’s.  You just have to try.

I would love to post a picture of Jamie’s novel but because it is soooo new, the publisher hasn’t released one yet.  I can, however, give you a nice little exciting blurb.

Description for 18 Things:  

Can eighteen things save a life? Olga Gay Worontzoff thinks her biggest problems are an awful name (after her grandmothers of course) and not attending prom with Conner, her best friend and secret crush since kindergarten. Then Conner is killed in a freak accident and Olga feels responsible. The sarcastic, nerdy girl who never missed a day of school is suddenly lost and unable to deal with the emotional pain. When she downs an entire bottle of pain pills, her parents force her into counseling. There, her therapist writes a prescription in the form of a life list titled 18 Things. Eighteen quests to complete the year of her eighteenth birthday. Olga enlists the help of her friends and becomes a catalyst for healing in their own lives as they eagerly offer suggestions. Alls she has to do is fire-walk, try out for the cheerleading squad, break a world record, and err . . . go on her first date. Good thing Nate, a new hottie in town, enters her life with perfect timing. He brings the fun factor to her list and helps her discover the beauty and strength inside herself, then complicates things by falling in love with her. Maybe it’s time to put into practice the lessons her list has taught her. Just as she’s finally embracing the joys of YOLO, her therapist reveals a big secret and Olga’s world is shaken. In the past year it took eighteen remarkable things to change a life, but nothing she believed about her mission is true. Now she doesn’t just risk losing her true soul-mate forever, she risks losing her very soul. There’s only one thing she knows for certain. Her choice will affect their future for all eternity.

Doesn’t that sound like a great read!  Please free to leave a comment here for Jamie or at any one of the following links.  I’m sure she would love to hear from you and chat up her new book!


Meet YA author, Michael Conn, creator of Maxwell Huxley’s Demon

Today I have the fabulous, fantastic (and rather shy) Michael Conn, author of Maxwell Huxley’s Demon.  The premise of this book is mysterious and creepy, perfect for those who like a little scary in their reading library.  The cover got my heart pulsing.

So without further ado, give a round of applause to the talented Michael Conn!  *Star Wars Imperial March plays as author steps to the podium*


My name is Michael Conn. I am a married father of three. I have two dogs, and I live and write in Victoria, BC, Canada.

I’m not sure when the idea behind MAXWELL HUXLEY’S DEMON popped into my head, but I had been mulling it over for a couple of years before writing it. In the summer of 2011, I spent time at my family cottage in Ontario. My sister is a writer, and I read one of her latest books. Reading her book made me think that I should try this. I should write. I should write down Maxwell’s story.

I started with an outline – the complete story from beginning to end mapped out. I outlined all of the books planned in the series before I wrote the first book. In August, I started writing. I wrote the story from Maxwell’s point of view only, ignoring all the other characters. Then I wrote the story of each character in separate files. So I ended up with a short book for Maxwell, a book for Midge, a book for Kristina, a book for Catherine, and so on. With each of the books done, I weaved them together, taking scene from each point of view and layering them into the main novel.

Being my first book, I wasn’t sure that I could or would finish it. To help my chances of success I set myself a daily word count quota. 1000 words per day. I picked a thousand words because I was told a novel should be 80,000 words. So this will take me 80 days. I was optimistic.

Back in Victoria I treated the project like a job and wrote everyday with an eye on my quota. I found I could usually write 1000 words, but sometimes I also deleted 1000 words. There were days when it was hard to keep my net output up to 1000 words, but I usually did.

I don’t have a literary background. I worked as a software engineer for most of my career. My career started out providing me with a healthy creative outlet, but over the years this changed. Writing provided the creative outlet that I crave when work didn’t.

Eighty days wasn’t a bad guess. After 90 days I finished draft 1. After 9 months, I finished draft 31, the one I published.

Maxwell Huxley’s Demon is self-published for two reasons. One, I’m impatient and so have a hard time waiting on the traditional houses. Two, I’m impatient and wanted it out there. I felt that I could write the rest of the story until book #1 was published, so up on Amazon it went. Here is a favorite blog post of mine about the trials and tribulations of an Amazon book promotion weekend:

I wrote Maxwell’s story because I love action adventure stories, and I often find myself reading YA novels to satisfy this appetite. However, quite a few adventure books I have read over the last number of years seemed quite slow to me. My goal with Maxwell was to explore developing a character through action. I didn’t want to create a novel where the action stopped every time character development started. I wanted to see if I could do both simultaneously.

I am now partway through book two of Maxwell, but I have taken a break to write an unrelated novella with a working title of the Monster. My current plans have the Maxwell Huxley series finishing after five books.

Whoo Hoo!  Thank you, Michael.  Five books.  What an admirable goal.  And your story is so familiar among writers.  We have normal jobs but there is a story lying within us, screaming to be written.  Good luck with your books and will definitely add them to my TBR list.

Now everyone, here’s a bit about Maxwell Huxley’s Demon.

 Description: In MAXWELL HUXLEY’S DEMON, when nine-year-old Maxwell Huxley and three others break free from their mountain-top “school” for gifted children – a place where kids mysteriously vanish when they turn ten – a fantastical chase around the world begins. Pursuing answers and freedom, Max unintentionally creates a new world: a world where friends and family meet their demons, where artificial beings come to life, and where nanotechnology is indistinguishable from magic. Maxwell pays a heavy price to discover what he was bred for.

Isn’t that cover great!

After your order your book, don’t forget to pop over and say hello to Michael. You can find him at the following locations, usually with a pen and/or a laptop close by.

Twitter: @maxwellhuxley
Email: michael(at)maxwellhuxley(dot)com

Michael’s Bio: In addition to writing, I work as a senior software engineer and solution architect. I have always been intrigued by software security, artificial intelligence, and expert systems. From this acquired expertise came the idea to write MAXWELL HUXLEY’S DEMON.

Meet YA Author Jus Accardo, author of Touch

I am thrilled beyond belief to introduce all of you to Jus Accardo, author of TOUCH (available now) and TOXIC, coming out September 2012.  I can’t wait to sink my teeth into these novels.  And the covers are to die for gorgeous!  Yummers.

Anyhoo, enough drooling for now.  Everyone put your hands together for Jus Accardo!!!  *whistle*  *applause*  Take it away, Jus.  The stage is yours.

Being an author isn’t an easy career path. Everyone’s trip is different, so today I thought I’d share a little bit about my journey and some of the things I learned along the way.

I wrote my first full book when I was in high school. It was divided up between three notebooks, handwritten in various colored ink, and then hidden away in a box never to be seen again. From there I went on to write other things. Short stories, catchy lyrics, and, of course, more books.

The wisdom? Write. Write. Write. Every word gets you closer to your goal.

Five books. That’s how many I wrote before I queried my first agent. The first book I did query got no requests. Yep. You read that right. None. Zip. Zilch. Z.e.r.o. Okay. That’s not entirely true. I did get one request from an agent—almost two years after I’d sent the query. I kid you not. My point is, it sucked. It was hard and there was an ungodly amount of waiting. For someone who possesses no patience, this is truly the definition of hell. There were so many days that I woke up thinking, What the hell am I doing? This isn’t going to happen.

The wisdom? Don’t give up. You need to go into this profession wearing full body armor, armed with an arsenal of support and a slick back. It’s rough and tough and some days? It hurts. In the end though, it’s so worth it.

So I sat down and started working on another book. TOUCH. What I’m going to say up front is that there is no norm for getting published. It really is different for every author. Under eight months from the first word in the first draft, I had an agent and a 3 book contract. I’ve heard of people querying multiple books—some more than three years—with no success. I’ve also heard of people querying a few agents with their first book, and getting snapped up right away.

The wisdom? It’s different for everyone. Don’t measure your success—or timeline—by other people. All it will do is upset you/piss you off/make you want to quit. Keep at it. It only takes one person to pick you out of the slush and give you a home.

TOUCH had a lot of interest from New York. It went to the acquisition table at multiple houses, but in the end, most came back to us with the same answer. They’d recently picked up something that was similar. The kiss of death, that word. Similar. Obviously, I was disappointed. To get so close to where I wanted to be, only to have the door closed? An entirely new definition of hell (There are many in an authors world).

There were still more editors to submit to, but honestly, I was expecting them to come back with the same answers. I’ll admit I got a little discouraged. And then my agent and I found Entangled. They were new and enthusiastic and couldn’t wait to get their hands on Dez and Kale. But they were a small press, and at the time, only a few months old. Not one of the elite. I’ve lost track of how many people asked me why in the world I sold my book to a small press when I could have kept chasing New York. At the time, I defended my decision. Now? Well, the proof is in the pudding. Chocolate pudding. With strawberry. Mmmm…

The wisdom? Don’t look down your nose at self-pubbers and small presses. TOUCH has done extraordinarily well in the hands of a small press. Truthfully, I don’t look at them as small press/big press. They’re publishers. Each with their own good points and bad ones. The key is finding one that fits you personally. And self pubbers? Amanda Hocking, anyone? Granted that’s not going to happen for everyone, but, yanno, just sayin…

So now that I’ve got a young adult series underway (and another coming in 2013) people have been asking if I’ve ever thought of writing adult stories? The truth is, I’ve thought about it, and I’ll never say never, but for now I’m sticking with ya because it’s what I’m passionate about. Books got me through my teenage years. More than anything, I want to create stories that will do the same for others.

The wisdom? Write what you love. I read both adult (Darynda Jones and Rob Thurman are two of my all time faves) and YA (infinite list of faves). But I tend to gravitate more toward writing ya mostly (but not limited to—according to some it’s because I’ve never quite grown up) because I’m a sucker for firsts. There’s so much emotion in ya. So many firsts.

Fantastic insight and advice there, Jus, and you’re right. Each person’s journey is different.  The thrill is in taking the ride, not comparing it to someone else’s experience.

Now on to the good stuff.  Check out Jus’s novels below!


Touch (A Denazen Novel)

When a strange boy tumbles down a river embankment and lands at her feet, seventeen-year-old adrenaline junkie Deznee Cross snatches the opportunity to piss off her father by bringing the mysterious hottie with ice blue eyes home.

Except there’s something off with Kale. He wears her shoes in the shower, is overly fascinated with things like DVDs and vases, and acts like she’ll turn to dust if he touches her. It’s not until Dez’s father shows up, wielding a gun and knowing more about Kale than he should, that Dez realizes there’s more to this boy—and her father’s “law firm”—than she realized.

Kale has been a prisoner of Denazen Corporation—an organization devoted to collecting “special” kids known as Sixes and using them as weapons—his entire life. And, oh yeah, his touch? It kills. The two team up with a group of rogue Sixes hellbent on taking down Denazen before they’re caught and her father discovers the biggest secret of all. A secret Dez has spent her life keeping safe.

A secret Kale will kill to protect.

Add Touch to your TBR pile on Goodreads

Description:  When a Six saved Kale’s life the night of Sumrun, she warned there would be consequences. A trade-off. Something taken for the life they gained. But Dez never imagined she’d lose the one thing she’d give anything to keep… And as if it’s not enough Dez finds her immunity to Kale fading, the Six brought in to help Kale learn to control his killer touch starts drooling on him the moment they meet. Worse than that? Jade can touch Kale. But bimbo Barbie is the least of Dez’s problems.

After Dez and Kale got away at Sumrun, her father lost not only his most powerful weapon but an important piece of the Supremacy project. Forced by Denazen to remedy the situation, he poisons Dez and offers her a choice—surrender to Denazen for the cure…or die. Determined to find a solution that doesn’t involve being bagged and tagged—or losing someone she loves—Dez keeps the poison a secret. But when a rash of Denazen attacks hit a little too close to home, Dez is convinced there’s a traitor among them. Jade.

Sacrifices, broken promises, and secrets. Dez will have to lay it all on the line if there’s any hope of proving Jade’s guilt before they all end up Residents of Denazen. Or worse, dead…

Add this one to your TBR list at Goodreads.

And don’t forget to stop by the following links and say Hi to Jus!

Goodreads * Twitter * Facebook * Website

Interview with YA author, Kevin McGill, scribbler of Nikolas & Company: The Merman and the Moon Forgotten

Today I have a very, very special guest, Kevin McGill, the author of the Nikolas and Company series.  I met Kevin during the peak of a mega marketing campaign.  His goal?  Sign 1,000 paperbacks and send them to 1,000 lucky kids between 9 and 18.  Why?  To save them from summer boredom.  Ha!  I liked the guy right away and knew I had to have him for this blog takeover.  Anyone who wants to save kids from summer boredom by having them read instead of play video games scores BIG in my world.

Here’s a pic of Kevin and all his madness.

Of course it will all start over soon when his second book in the series releases in 10 days, but we’ll get to that later.  Right now, let’s get this party started.

{turns to Kevin}

Me:      Hey Kevin!  Good morning.  Wow, it’s great to have you here.  I’m sure you’re exhausted so I really appreciate you taking time to hang out here for a bit.  Maybe as an ice breaker, you can tell everyone a little about yourself.  Where you were born?  Are you married?  Do you have kids?  Where do you live now?  All those kinds of things.

Kevin:     My name is Kevin McGill and I’m the author of Nikolas and Company: The Merman and The Moon Forgotten. I hail from the great state of California. I was born at Merced Castle Air Force Base, and grew up deep in the recesses of the country. Woke up every morning to the sun rising above the Sierra Nevadas. Fast forward past High School, college, and all the way to grad school where I met and married my bride. The missus is a smart lady who works with international students at a local graduate school and is currently getting her PhD in London. She/we go there about twice a year for classes. It’s a tough life…

Me:     That sounds like it’s a tough life, but fun and full of new adventures.  Great fodder for stories.  Tell us, how old were you when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Kevin:     My first inkling was at the young age of seven. We were given fictional writing assignments. I wrote mine in record time, and it was pretty long if I remember. Later on some of my classmates asked me to write stories for them, and even paid me two bucks to do it! Gladly I accepted. But then I found out they turned my stories in as their own.

Me:     Ah, man, that sucks.  You know, Stephen King wrote in his On Writing about a similar experience. The things others will do to get a grade.  I hope you didn’t get in trouble.

{Kevin smiles}

So, how long did it take to write Nikolas & Co., The Merman and the Moon Forgotten?

Kevin:     It took about a year or so. I wrote the entire series over a five-year period.

Me:     Where did the idea come from?

Kevin:     Remember when I said I grew up in the country? Well, one amazing thing about a place with no city lights is the moon and the stars. My stepmom always encouraged creativity, so, lying out on our pool deck one night with my siblings, she asked us to come up with a story based upon what we saw. I remember looking up at the moon, and imagining that it was part of a long lost civilization. The craters were not from meteor strikes, rather an interplanetary battle between moon and earth. Then, back in 2006, the image of a boy standing on the bow of a deck as it flew toward a planet flashed across my mind…well, I can’t say more about that bit because I’ll be giving away Episode 2.

Me:     Well, we wouldn’t want to do that, would we?  Tell me.  I always love asking this question.  Are any characters based on anyone real?  Come on, you can tell us.  Inquiring minds want to know.

Kevin:     {he smiles and slightly chuckles}  Not consciously. But I’m almost certain subconsciously. Hey, I can’t be responsible for what lurks in the recesses of my subconscious mind {big smile}.  Grand felt like a man I worked for about five years back. He also felt like my impressions of Dad growing up. Not mean, but stern. And always marching forward, though looking at you in the corner of his eye. I will say, I think I accidentally ripped off the Last Unicorn when developing Yeri. Did you ever see that cartoon? Ah, don’t worry about it. Few have. Anyway, there is a wizard in it by the name of Schmendrick. I’m pretty sure I ripped off that character for Yeri, the stagecoach driver.

Me:     I liked Schmendrick.  He was such a shy, naïve and kind soul who didn’t really truly believe in his abilities until the end.  I feel like I know Grand already.

So, I’ve seen the book trailer for the novel and it’s really cool.  Did you come up with the storyboard and animation yourself?

Kevin:     I fleshed out the basic concept, but Carlyle McCullough did the artwork and Tim Pike did the animation. I and several others did the voices. My voice work was all the creepy English/Victorian characters closer to the end. It really took a small army to pull it off. Still one of the coolest things our little studio has done to-date.

Me:     Would you say there is a moral or lesson to be learned in The Merman and the Moon Forgotten or is it straight action with a great plot?

Kevin:     Merman and Moon Forgotten is an introduction to our hero, Nikolas, but it also sets up some themes for the next three books, specifically greed. Greed is just a financial form of a black hole. The greedy party sets up a system in which all money eventually heads toward them, while the rest are without. It’s interesting that plant life dies when the balance of input and output are disrupted, and some particular specie overtakes the others.

Me:     Who is your favorite character in the novel and why?

Kevin:     Ah. That’s tough. I like Nikolas, I even like Caroline, but at the moment Grand is my favorite. He is simple, but that simplicity is a thin shell covering up a good deal of complexity. Oh, and the crazy stunts he gets away with makes the teenage boy in me smile.

Me:     Ah, smiling teenage boys are a good thing, especially for parents and teenage girls.  Tell us, you mentioned sequels to The Merman and the Moon Forgotten.  Can you tell us a little bit about them?

Kevin:     There definitely are sequels. The next one will be published August 4th. It’s called Nikolas and Company: When Boats Breathe and Cities Speak. The four part series will introduce us to the fantastic world of Huron, the immensity of the evil Yeri, Nikolas and the Merrows will face, and what part Nikolas’ company will play in all of it. His friends aren’t along just for the ride ;).

Me {rubs hands together}:     Oooo, I do love a good mystery!  Okay, seeing how much you love to write, you must also love to read.  What’s your sweet elixir?  What do you prefer:  paper or e-books?

Kevin:     I don’t think I have a preference. The only time I do have a preference is when I read a sci-fi classic. Right now I’m reading Asimov’s Foundation series. It’s pretty cool to feel like it’s 1961 and I just picked up the book from some mom and pop bookstore. But that might mean it’s just a good antique.

Me:     What scares you the most?

Kevin:     Flash mobs. Oh, Jersey Shore. But mainly flash mobs.

Me:     LOL!  Jersey Shore scares me too. I kind of like flash mobs though.  Next:  ice cream or candy?   What kind?

Kevin:     Right now it would be ice cream. Dallas is nearing apocalyptic temperatures. Magnum double caramel.

Me:     Yummers.  What if you could have a super power.  What would it be and why?

Kevin:     Flying. Unequivocally it would be flying. You can go anywhere.

Me:     Okay, here’s a toughy.  If you had the power to stop time for five days, what would you do to make the world a better place?

Kevin:     Write a story. I know it sounds like a cop out, but I think the best thing I can do to make the world a better place is to write a story.

Me:     spoken like a true writer.  On that note, do you have any words of wisdom you’d like to share with your readers?

Kevin:     Hmm…I think this goes out to any writers out there. It’s a repost but it has been on my mind in light of the cynicism and slander that continues to plague our culture.

I find we artists have one of the more unique tasks. In a world bent on demeaning and destruction, terror and tragedy, we are tasked with addition – creation. Our art does not have to be tethered to the unending demotion that is the bread and butter of so many other professions. We do not have to tear down to build up. All we artists need to do is create, and good art will have been made…if we’re willing.

Me:     Beautiful sentiment and I couldn’t agree with you more.  {pauses for a drink of coffee}  Okay. folks, I think that wraps it up for today.  Kevin, thank you so much for stopping by and doing this interview with me  and sharing tidbits about you and your novels with all my readers.  I will certainly read this story soon as well as the others in the series.  Until we meet again my friend.  {shakes hand}.  Keep writing and keep us posted on all new events.  I’d love to have you back if you ever feel up to it.  Have a super day.

Okay folks, there you have it.  You can find links to Kevin below:






Kevin’s Bio:  Kevin McGill is the mad writer of the Nikolas & Company series where the Moon is much more than we think, mermen walk on automaton legs and 14-year-old boys talk to cities in their heads. When not spinning Lunar yarns, Kevin hosts a weekly books podcast Guys Can Read along with his college buddy and co-host, Luke Navarro. Contact him at and twitter @kevinonpaper.


Ohhh!!!  Before you go, Kevin wanted me let you know about a 500 book giveaway he’s doing for the Merman and the Moon Forgotten! Yep, another one! From Kevin:  “I have a print, signed copy for anyone between the ages of 9 and 18 that likes a fun fantasy adventure. If that’s you, or someone you know (hey, we all know a teenage reader), go ahead and order a copy for them. It ends Aug 6th. Also, adults get a free, ebook copy. Order it now!”  Sounds like a great deal, guys!  Go sign up!  What are you waiting for?  🙂

Why I read and write Young Adult fiction by YA author L.S. Murphy

Today’s guest is the wonderful L.S. Murphy, author of REAPER, a young adult urban fantasy coming out January 7, 2013.  You can find the details about her book at the end of the post.

This feisty YA author has agreed to hang around for a day or two so feel free to leave comments and ask her any questions you may have about her book, writing, etc.

On that note, Linda, take it away.

In the late 90s, a boy wizard burst onto the literary scene. Maybe you’ve heard of him. I refused to read them. They were “kiddie books” and I only read serious novels. Snob? Oh yeah, I was a complete literary snob.

When Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix came out, I’d heard there was a major death in the novel. As a lover of pop culture, I couldn’t be left in the dark so I succumbed to my usual “need to know” attitude. They weren’t bad.

For “kiddie books.”

During this time, I had returned to college to get my degree as a non-traditional evening student. My class choices were limited and I had no choice but to sign up for a course called “Adolescent Lit.” I figured it would be a blow off course and an easy A.

I was wrong.

Instead of taking a course to fulfill my academic requirements, I discovered what I was supposed to do with my life.

We read Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech first. It was … literature. I was shocked. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson came up next. I was blown away. These weren’t “kiddie books.” Along with our assigned reading, each class member had to choice a middle grade or young adult book to read and report on. I picked Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas.

I can honestly say that this book changed my life.

Rats Saw God is about high school senior Steve York who must complete a 100 page paper so he can graduate. He writes about how he ended up where he is. The brutal honesty of Steve’s journey struck a chord with me. But it was the relationship with his father that hit me the hardest. It mirrored mine more than I expected.

It tore at my heart.

My father and I spent three years not speaking. My choice, not his. At the time that I finally read this book, our relationship had been patched up, but still not healed. Even though I was not seventeen anymore, I knew how Steve felt. I understood his pain more than I could Harry Potter’s or Melinda Sordino’s.

As soon as I finished it, I knew what I wanted to do. Write for young adults.

Writing had always been my dream.

Thank you, Linda, for being a part of this week’s YA Blog Takeover!  I had tons of fun learning more about you.

Now all you peeps…check out Linda’s new novel, REAPER, and put it on your Must Read list today!

ReaperDescription:   There’s no way sixteen year old Quincy Amarante will become the fifth grim reaper. None. Not over her shiny blue Mustang. Her Jimmy Choos. Or her dead body.

She’s supposed to enjoy her sophomore year, not learn about some freaky future Destiny says she has no choice but to fulfill.

It doesn’t take long for Quincy to realize the only way out of the game is to play along especially since Death can find her anyway, anywhere, anytime. And does.

Like when she’s reassuring her friends she wants nothing to do with former best friend Ben Moorland, who’s returned from god-knows-where, and fails. Miserably.

Instead of maintaining her coveted popularity status, Quincy’s goes down like the Titanic.

Maybe … just maybe … that’s okay.

It seems, perhaps, becoming a grim reaper isn’t just about the dead but more about a much needed shift in Quincy’s priorities—from who she thinks she wants to be to who she really is.

Links to L.S. Murphy:


Meet Emi Gayle, YA author of After Dark

Welcome everyone to day 3 of my YA Author blog takeover.  What do guys think so far?  I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting Kim Richardson and Susan Rocan.  If you missed their posts, you can find them here and here.  Today you get a chance to meet the wonderfully delightful YA author, Emi Gayle, author of AFTER DARK which releases October 31, 2012!  Put your hands together for Emi!  *applause*  *woot woot*

Before I wrote my first YA novel (not-yet-to-be-published), I asked myself a few questions. Why write about a main character who’s a teenager? Did I have an agenda? A plan to somehow teach teenagers about something? Did I want to relive my own childhood? Or was it far simpler than that?

Did I just want a main character who wasn’t an adult, with adult problems, adult issues and adult situations?

It took no time for me to find my answer. I just wanted characters who found themselves in situations adults don’t anymore. Or don’t as much. Teenagers, people in the 16-21 age range-ish—they have lives that are far different than we adults.

Sometimes, it’s a lot of fun to go back into that, to imagine what seems to be a simpler life, yet for the person in it, life can be just as demanding, daunting, and full of fear, trepidation and of the unknown. We adults forget that sometimes as our younger years become ‘back in the day’—a time of no responsibilities, or at least less of them.

So after having written five adult romances, I decided I had to tempt fate. Some might say they have a preference for writing adults over teens. For me, it’s about falling in love with my character no matter how old they are. Thus, I wrote my first YA novel, which, to-date, has only been read by a few friends. Like, however, my progression of writing in the adult paranormal romance genre, I wrote a second, a third and a fourth story.

Mac, in After Dark, the first of The 19th Year Trilogy, debuts this October 31, 2012. She’s one of those last three stories I wrote, and she just so happens to be 18. Tada! YA!
I loved writing Mac, and with her came the problems, issues and situations of a high school senior—one with a pretty unique gift and one major life decision coming up.

Getting Mac out into the hands of the public though, has taken far more effort than writing her story in the first place. You see, from a publication standpoint, a book is a book. YA may be ‘the hot genre’ right now, but going through the submission, read, edit, review, edit, read again, edit, etc. process still had to happen. It’s not about the character, the age, the situation alone. It’s about the whole package in the story. From page one to page 300 or so.

For After Dark, I was just as determined to have it see the light of day as I was my adult novels. That meant all the pre-publication steps and all the marketing, too. WIll I do more, less or the same as for my adult novels? Depends!

Again, because YA is so ‘hot’ right now, I’m getting a wider, larger and more vocal audience. That doesn’t mean I get to sit back and let the audience grow. Quite the opposite in fact. I need to do more! I need to really focus on those who’re finding the cover and blurb; I need to engage with excited, potential readers and bring them into my fold.

Not only do I get to share with them the stories I write, but I share a lot of me, too. This is why I blog a lot about my own teenage years and about my son who’s in his early teens and will, in the future, embarass my girls the same way. Like learning a foreign language, it’s reimmersion into years gone by … with my intended audience.

But, and here is the big caveat … YA isn’t just for young adults. Nope. Did you know a huge portion of YA readers are in fact the Moms of the YA crowd? That means, I have the perfect cross-over marketing opportunity!

My graduate school professors would be so proud!

That isn’t, however, what pushed me to write for the YA crowd. It’s just a bonus that me, as a marketer, looks at and says, “Perfection! I’ve just won the marketing lottery!” When in reality, I’ve won the writer’s lottery. I get to write characters I love no matter their age.

To me, that’s the best part of the whole business.

I get to write.

I get to share.

Hopefully someone will love the story as much as I do.

Thus, to all writers out there, if you want to write for the younger generation, don’t let preconceived notions keep you away; don’t let the lack of publication or acceptance by an agent stop you. Write what you love, and if your character lives, breathes and acts like the younger generation, then … congrats!

You’ve become a YA author!

Wow, Emi, thank you for that amazing insight into your world and I’ll definitely check out AFTER DARK on Halloween.

Okay, guys, you know what to do.  Emi will be hanging around for a day or two to answer any questions or comments.  She’d love to hear from you so come on.  Join in the conversation.

You can also find Emi at any one of the following links:
Emi’s Bio:

Emi Gayle just wants to be young again. She lives vicariously through her youthful characters, while simultaneously acting as chief-Mom to her teenaged son and searching for a way to keep her two daughters from ever reaching the dreaded teen years.
Ironically, those years were some of Emi’s favorite times. She met the man of her dreams at 14, was engaged to him at 19, married him at 20 and she’s still in love with him to this day. She’ll never forget what it was like to fall in love at such a young age — emotions she wants everyone to feel.

After DarkWhat eighteen year old Mac Thorne doesn’t know will probably kill her.In exactly eight months, five days, three hours and thirteen minutes, Mac has to choose what she’ll be for the rest of her life.She has no choice but to pick. As a Changeling, it’s her birthright. To Mac, it’s a birthchore. Like going to school with humans, interacting with humans, and pretending to be human during the pesky daylight hours.Once darkness descends, Mac can change into any supernatural form that exists — which makes her as happy as she can be. That is, until Winn Thomas, the biggest geek in her senior class figures out there’s more to what hides in the dark than most are willing to acknowledge.In this first of the 19th Year Trilogy, Winn might know more about Mac than even she does, and that knowledge could end their lives, unless Mac ensures the powers-that-be have no choice but to keep him around.

Meet YA Author Susan Rocan, author of Withershins

Welcome back to day 2 of my YA Author Blog Takeover fest!  I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s post.  If you missed it, you can click here and read all about Kim Richardson, author of the Soul Guardian series.

Today, we have the lovely and talented Susan Rocan.   Give it up for Susan!  *applause*  *whistle*

To the questions, “What draws you to read and write YA? How did you get to where you are now?” here is my answer:

I began writing for children, and eventually YA, when my daughter’s 3rd grade teacher told me my daughter had mentioned I was a writer. She asked if I’d written anything for kids. I had to admit, up to that point, I hadn’t. She was disappointed and said if I ever did write any children’s stories she’d love to have me talk to the kids about creative writing. That got me thinking, what were kids reading? I went through my daughter’s library and found Goosebumps books. After reading a couple, I thought, I could do that, so I came up with some short ghost stories.

Later, when my writer’s group and I were brainstorming for chapbook ideas, I came up with the idea for ‘Withershins’. Originally, my character was older, but my writer’s group suggested that the way I had written her, she sounded much younger. I shifted her age down a few years and made it YA. In between research and writing ‘Withershins’, I read other YA books, especially those of local Canadian writers. I loved them all and got a good feel for the genre.

My writer’s group said that ‘Withershins’ was the best thing I’d ever written and pushed me to send it off to be published. After polishing it the best that I could, with the help of the group, I began to research publishers. I began locally, because the content was focused on the area where I live. One of the first places I inquired about was Great Plains Publications. They were not doing fiction, at that time. I went on to Turnstone Press. Although they were not doing YA, Carmen Diaz, who was the editor at the time, said she loved my story and sent it to her friend, a Children’s Lit professor at the University of Manitoba. Carmen then met with me and discussed some of the problems the professor had found with the book. Number one, it was too long. Number two, if I were to split it in two, the character’s situation had to come to a satisfactory conclusion at the end of the first book and a compelling reason to return in the second.

I took the manuscript home and tried to bring the page count down to 250 pages. It was impossible to pare it down that much. I would have had too many scenes to remove, so I made the decision to cut the book in half. The next problem was trying to decide when my character should return and figure out the why and the how. Once I was satisfied that it would work as a stand-alone, I started sending it to other publishers. I researched them on-line and sent the manuscript to places I thought would be a good fit, but only Canadian publishers. It kept being returned. If there was a comment attached, it was generally, “It’s too long”, or “It’s not what we’re looking for at this time.” The only publisher that was interested relied on government funding and that was only received if the author was Métis.

Ten years later, I was about to give up when I saw in the newsletter put out by the Manitoba Writers’ Guild that Great Plains Publications was looking for YA stories. The company always specialized in historical non-fiction and was looking for YA fiction with an historical theme. Perfect! I submitted ‘Withershins’ and it was accepted! I worked with their editor to get it ready for publication. It was a fairly painless process.

Withershins’ was published in 2008. Shortly after, I submitted the manuscript for the second half of the story, entitled ‘Spirit Quest’. Once it was accepted, I began working with Anita Daher, an author I admired for her YA and children’s stories. I was delighted and worried that it wouldn’t measure up to the standards she was used to. She liked my story, but was concerned that I did not have a compelling reason for my character to return to the past, which had been so challenging for her in the first book. It took several months of agony, and a lot of back and forth emails between Anita and me, trying to figure out what to do. In desperation, I turned to my writer’s group and asked the question, what would compel Michelle to return? One brilliant mind said, “a death.” Those two simple words got the wheels turning, and the rest is history.

The morals of this story are: Never give up on your dream and never underestimate the power of a writer’s group/critique partner/beta reader. Their help can be invaluable in helping you prepare a manuscript for publication.

WithershinsFrom Goodreads:   Most people have heard of Withershins- the ritual where one runs around a church three times at midnight. Some claim you will be transported to the Netherworld. What happens to Michelle is quite different. She finds herself trapped in the past, forced to survive without modern conveniences. A native shaman tells her she is the chosen one, but Michelle has no idea why. As she struggles with life in a primitive time, she learns more than just how to survive. Despite facing illness, death, and bigotry, she learns patience and even falls in love, as much as she tries to avoid it.

Spirit Quest

In this sequel to Withershins, Michelle returns to the past to save her friends. Michelle is happy to be home after her time-travel adventure. Then, while delving into a family secret, she discovers the terrible fate that befell her friends in the distant past. Desperate save them, she returns to 1846 to try to change history. There she struggles with hardships and racism, and learns more about her First Nations heritage.


Thank you so much, Susan, for taking the time to talk to my readers.  What an awesome post and an incredible story of perseverance.  I guess it just goes to show you, if you have patience and belief in your writing, you will be published.

Everyone, please feel free to leave your comments and questions below.  Susan will be popping in to answer whatever questions you may have for her so don’t be shy.

Also, you can find Susan at the following links:
and on Twitter