Get to know Author, Melissa Woods

Melissa Woods AliveMelissa Woods is the author of Alive?, a young adult zombie adventure story, set for release on October 30th 2018.

Can you describe your book in one sentence?

It’s the story of a seventeen year old called Violet, who makes the unfortunate mistake of getting bitten by a zombie, and discovers that while she’s lucky enough not to die, she now has a couple of interesting quirks, making her an unwanted guest at most dinner parties!

How long on average, does it take you to write a book?

Averages are hard, because I wrote the first draft of Alive? when I was sixteen years old, which would suggest it takes me twelve years to go from first draft to publication! But if I look at when I went back to the book and made the major changes, and how long it’s taken me to draft the sequel, I’d say it’s about nine months to a year to go from a blank page, to something I’m ready to send to the editor for fresh eyes.

What is the first book that made you cry?

I think it was probably Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. You probably already know the part, but spoiler alert; Cedric Diggory dies! It was the first time I’d felt actually angry and upset about the death of a character; not angry at JK for writing it, of course, but angry with Pettigrew for killing him. I was angry at one fictional character for killing another, which is ridiculous really, but just shows how touched you can be by the written word.

Have you ever had reader’s block?

Absolutely. There have been times where I’ve picked up and put down six books in a row, because my mood changes. One minute I want to read a thriller, then I want sci-fi, then I get a craving for young adult diary-style humour. It drives my husband crazy, because he’s someone who picks up a book and doesn’t read anything else until it’s finished. I suppose that’s part of the reason that Alive? has a bit of horror, a bit of suspense, and a bit of humor, because I’m trying to keep myself happy as well as anything else!

Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym? Continue reading

Advertisements

Writing what you know with Erica Kiefer

Erica Kiefer iconInside my closet sits a large storage bin. It’s heavy enough that I claimed my work-out for the day after hauling it up a flight of stairs, completing squats and bicep curls as I transferred it from one location to another.

I’m no packrat by any means, but some of those items inside that bin have been hauled around since I was nine-years-old, traveling with me from country to country as I lived the “military brat” lifestyle of moving every two to four years while my dad served as a diplomat in the foreign service.

From Thailand to Indonesia, back to Thailand, and eventually returning to the United States, I’ve hauled these personal journals with me all over the world, accumulating a new one every year until I reached my mid-twenties and began capturing memories through a family blog.

The backaches and muscle burn of relocating those books has proved its worth though. Utilizing my plethora of journals, I’ve followed the advice to write what you know, turning reality into relatable fiction. Continue reading

Serenade By Heather McKenzie

Serenade book coverTitle: Serenade (The Nightmusic Trilogy #1) by Heather McKenzie
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: April 17th 2017
Genres: Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Young Adult

Synopsis

Kidnapped and held hostage in the Rockies, a teenage heiress falls for her abductor while her corrupt father and devoted bodyguard fight to get her back. The discovery of true love and dark family secrets turns deadly in this epic coming of age adventure.

Kaya Lowen dreams of living like a normal eighteen-year old, but being heiress to a billion-dollar company has put her life in constant danger. Fiercely guarded by her powerful and corrupt father, she develops close bonds with those who protect her, especially Oliver – a bodyguard who has proven his devotion to her time and again. He wins her heart – until a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning everything she believes in. Haunted by true love and reeling from a guilty conscience, Kaya’s world unravels when she’s kidnapped.

Held captive in a rugged wilderness fraught with raging storms, mystical caves and deadly predators, Kaya’s father scours the forest and her bodyguard fights to get her back. But, the discovery of a dark family secret makes Kaya wonder if staying in the arms of her blue-eyed abductor—a captivating stranger with dark secrets of his own – is a safer place to be. At least, that’s what her heart is telling her, her head is saying run…

An epic adventure centered on a smoldering love-triangle, Serenade sings a timeless tale of courage, self-discovery, and life-or-death love that will leave you breathless. Continue reading

Writing with Sandy Goldsworthy

Author Sandy GoldsworthyWhen did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I have enjoyed writing since I was in high school. I dabbled in fiction back then and took a creative writing class—which I loved—but I didn’t take it up seriously until about five years ago.

What motivated you to start writing?

I enjoyed writing ever since high school when my teacher challenged me to be more descriptive. She didn’t want to read that the front door was red; she wanted to see the shade. It was very motivating to me, to slow things down a bit and detail the setting.

What kept you going throughout the writing process?

Initially, writing was just a hobby I did it in my spare time. But after a friend invited me to join his writing group, I began to take it more seriously and set writing goals. That really helped me stay on track knowing I had to finish a set word count, by a certain date. I also had a lot of support from my family and friends. They encouraged me to keep going any time I felt like giving up.

What was the inspiration for your story?

The concept of Ben Parker’s character came to me a few years ago. I had a very visual dream about a train derailing. Railcars tumbled off a ridge, landing on top of each other in a ravine. There was a young man on the train that was untouched by the accident. Once everything settled, he pulled victims from the crash site and escorted them to heaven. I ended up writing a short story about this, and eventually, Ben’s character came to life.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a published author?

Great question!  I would highly recommend joining a writing group or a workshop. Getting feedback is critical to any author. I’d also suggest reading your story out loud. Trust me, it sounds completely different than what you think it says when you’re reading silently. Lastly, once you’ve reached the point of sending queries out to publishers or agents, be patient. You will get lots of rejections, so expect it and don’t take it personally. Don’t give up. When you get rejected, send out another query.

Who are some of the people that influenced your love of writing?

Honestly, I was a closet writer for years. Every time I read a good book, I thought, “I can do this.” So I guess other author’s stories influenced me. Once I told people I was writing, I had a great network of friends and family that encouraged me.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

To relax! Initially I plotted, but after a while, I found it difficult to write within the outline I created. It became unnatural and didn’t flow right. When I let loose and relax, the story takes on a life of its own.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

When it comes to writing, I’m really a creature of habit. I work best if I’m in the same room, same place, and even the same day or time of day. I’ve tried switching it up a bit, but I’ve found I wasn’t as creative.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.

It’s the ultimate love story that lasts more than one lifetime.

What projects do you have up and coming?

I am currently working on book three in the Afterworld Saga.

Sandy Goldsworthy book coverTitle: Afterlife (The Afterworld Saga #2) by Sandy Goldsworthy
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: August 29th 2016
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult

Synopsis:

Afterlife is the highly anticipated sequel to Aftermath by Sandy Goldsworthy. This exciting Young Adult mystery romance is a must-read.

Everything seems perfect for Emma Bennett—she has a new set of friends she adores and a boyfriend she is crazy about. But when Emma sees a picture of her hunky boyfriend kissing another girl, she begins to question if his love for her is real. As she searches for the truth, will Emma be exposed to the dangers of another world?

Ben Parker enjoys the role of high school student and boyfriend to the love of his existence. Juggling his social life with his job in the Afterworld’s Bureau of Investigation is supposed to be easy for the decorated undercover agent. But when some kid captures a photo of him in a precarious position, he’s faced with lying to his girlfriend or erasing her memory. Instead, Ben makes the worst decision of his career. Now, forced to face the consequences, he loses the only thing that matters to him—Emma.

When seemingly insurmountable obstacles separate the lovers, will the two soul mates be able find their way back to each other?

Click to add to your Goodreads shelf.

Purchase Afterlife on B&N | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

Aftermath is free at these e-tailers Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

About Sandy Goldsworthy

Sandy Goldsworthy was raised in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, blocks from the Author Sandy Goldsworthyrocky shores of Lake Michigan. As a child, she fantasized about becoming an author. She jotted story lines in spiral notebooks and drew images of characters that never came to life. Her passion for putting pen to paper began when her high school English teacher inspired her to be more descriptive in her work. Ever since, Sandy dabbled in creative writing, searching for that perfect shade of red and that character you want to get to know.

A graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Sandy is the YA author of the paranormal romance series, The Afterworld Saga. She spends her days managing corporate client programs, and her nights and weekends drafting new plot lines in spiral notebooks. She resides in southeastern Wisconsin with her husband, two children, and an energetic puppy. Learn more at www.sandygoldsworthy.com.

Connect: Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Four Truths and a Lie with Jennifer Derrick

Today we’re going to play a game: Four truths and a lie. I’m going to tell you five things about myself. Four of them are true and one is complete fiction. This is just a fun way of helping you get to know me.

Skip down below the image to read the answers and explanations after you make your guesses.

  1. I ran a half-marathon on Saturday followed by a full marathon on Sunday, making a weekend total of 39.3 miles.
  2. I had the honor of meeting Darth Vader.
  3. Growing up, I wanted to be a doctor and performed surgery on all my stuffed animals.
  4. I studied at Oxford University.
  5. When I got the email confirming that Broken Fate was going to be published, I was cleaning toilets.

Truth Lie icon

  1. True. Yep, I was stupid enough to do that. Even stupider, I did it before ever completing a half or a full marathon on their own. Disney introduced something called the “Goofy Challenge” which is a half marathon on Saturday and a full on Sunday. Being a Disney nut and the sort of person who likes a ridiculous challenge, I had to do it. Twice. The fact that the second was followed by a lot of physical therapy isn’t something I dwell on.
  2. True. No, I didn’t meet James Earl Jones, but I did get to meet the man who wore the Vader suit. His name is David Prowse and I met him when I was a kid, not long after the original Star Wars came out. He came by our mall and autographed pictures (and he wore the suit). I still have my picture, somewhere.
  3. Lie. Unlike a lot of kids, I never entertained the idea of being a doctor. I don’t like ick and being a doctor is an ick-heavy profession. My stuffed animals were never my patients. I did want to be an astronaut, though, and even went to Space Camp a few times and started college as an aerospace engineering major before changing to something else later on.
  4. True. I did a semester abroad at Oxford during college. Best experience of my life. I highly recommend that anyone who has the chance to study abroad do so. Side note: My professor gave everyone silly awards at the end of the term and mine was a mock Oscar for my portrayal of “The Invisible Woman.” Why? Because I spent so much time touring the country that I “forgot” to go to class a lot of the time. Still passed my classes, though.
  5. True. You want your publishing story to be something glamorous, but mine totally wasn’t. When Clean Teen Publishing emailed to tell me that they were accepting my book and offering me a contract, I was cleaning the toilet. My phone was on the counter next to me and I checked it when it dinged, thinking it would be spam. Fortunately, I had a place handy to sit down because I was shocked by the news.

Continue reading

Sandy Goldsworthy on her characters

Sandy Goldsworthy book tourEver since I can remember, I’ve been inspired to write. In high school, my English teacher didn’t love the assignment I turned in. I thought it was perfect—just what she was looking for. It wasn’t.

The assignment was to describe a house. I wrote that the door was red. My teacher didn’t like just red. She wanted to really “see” the red. It was a turning point for me. Instead of being a chore, writing was something I enjoyed. It was an art to me.

Every time I read a good book, I get inspired to write. Great characters and twisting plots motivate me to craft my story—to take it to the next level.

Aftermath started when the character of Ben Parker came to life. About five years ago, I had a very vivid dream of a train derailment. Railcars tumbled off a ridge, landing on top of each other in a ravine. In my dream, there was a young man that appeared untouched by the accident. Once everything settled, he pulled the victims from the crash site and escorted them to the afterworld. I still remember waking up, my heart pounding in my chest.

Who is your most meaningful character and why?

That’s a really tough question… like asking a mom to pick her favorite child!

I really enjoy all of my characters (even the dark ones), but if I had to pick just one, I’d choose Ben as the most meaningful. He spent decades searching for the love of his existence, so his dedication and perseverance is remarkable to me. As an agent in the Afterworld’s Bureau of Investigation, he proved himself loyal and committed. Overall, he’s just a good guy—someone you’d want on your side.

How has this story touched your life?

In Aftermath, Emma Bennett experiences the loss of a parent and is faced with moving to another state to finish high school. I had a similar experience growing up, although I was much younger than Emma. Nonetheless, I could relate to the feeling of abandonment and starting over that Emma faces.

What do you think makes a good story?

For me, a good story is about great characters and a good plot. Personally, I love twist in the storyline, to keep me on the edge of my seat. But having a character I can relate to is important.

If you could pick one actor to play a character in your book in the movie version, who would it be?

It’s interesting that you ask that question. I think many authors picture a model or actor for our characters as we write the story. In my case, I started writing a few years ago, and those actors are now too old to portray a high school student. But I always pictured Kelly Preston as Barb Carmichael—Emma’s aunt.

What song best describes your book and why?

Breakeven by The Script.  It doesn’t really describe the story, but it was on my playlist when I conceived the series, and it gave me the sense of what Ben was feeling, having lost his wife decades earlier.

What age group do you think best describes your reader and Why?

Since my characters are high school students, I would say the target age would be anyone 15 and up. When I wrote the series, I kept adults in mind, too. Ben has existed decades and has a more adult attitude compared to his peers, so I think anyone would enjoy it.

Where did you get ideas for your books?

That’s an excellent question. I’ve always believed in heaven—that there was something beyond the world we knew. The concept for character, Ben Parker, came to me in a dream several years ago. I had a very vivid image of a train derailment and one man that appeared untouched by the accident. In my dream, he pulled the victims from the wreckage and escorted them to heaven. I began to think, “What if there are angels among us… right beside us and we didn’t know it?” I ended up writing several short stories and eventually Ben and his agents came to life. Continue reading

Chatting with Lila Felix

Photo of Lila FelixAn interview with author Lila Felix.

What would you be doing right now if you were not an author?

If I were not an author, I would still be editing books for indie authors and loving every second of it.

5 years ago: what were you doing?

Five years ago, I was working nights at Wal-Mart in their cash office, counting tons of money every night.

Do you have a certain writing ritual?

My writing ritual is to listen to some inspiring music for about a half hour or read some before starting. After that, I try to write whenever I can, sneaking in the time gaps in our schedules.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

My toughest criticism has been that my endings aren’t always what the reader expected. I see this as a criticism and a compliment. I don’t really want to write what everyone expects.

Ever fangirled over another author? Who was it?

Absolutely! I’ve totally fan-girled over so many authors. I’m first and foremost a reader after all! It was actually Shelly Crane. I flew to Florida to see her and wigged out hard.

Is there an author you’d like to meet?

I would love to meet Jay Asher. 13 Reasons Why is a book that continues to impact my life every day. It makes me think about who I am and how I treat others in every situation. He’s a brilliant author. I’d probably faint.

Biggest writing pet peeve?

My biggest writing peeve is that horrible little word count box at the bottom of the page. Once I learned to make that sucker go away, I was in heaven.

Do you read other’s reviews of your books?

I read other’s reviews of my books in the first month of their release. After that, I check them every 6 months or so. It can be painful and humbling to see what others think of our books. Continue reading

10 Things to do in Houston

Michelle K. Pickett shares 10 things to do in Houston.

When I first saw the topic for this post, I immediately started writing about Michigan, which is an awesome place to visit. It’s where I was born and raised, so even though I’ve been in Texas for nearly nine years, I still think of it as home. So I can probably give you a handful of things to do without stopping to think… so if you want my take on Michigan, email me. ☺

Everything we do in Houston, or the area, is family oriented, so if you’re looking for fun, nightlife stuff… I got off that train a while ago. LOL.

So here are ten fun things, or places, in Houston or the surrounding area that my family enjoys…

  1. The downtown aquarium. It’s AWESOME. I put it first because I think it’s my favorite place to visit. I love going with my son, who plans to go to school for marine biology. He can narrate the different species of fish in each exhibit. Not only is the aquarium an incredible place for our family to visit (and eat. The dining room is beautiful), but it gives us an opportunity to connect with our son about something he loves… so that makes the aquarium amazing by itself.
  2. Okay, what list of fun things would be complete without visit to the zoo? We buy a yearly membership so we can visit whenever we’d like. We usually pack a picnic to eat on the lawn. Our zoo just opened a new Gorilla exhibit that’s really nice. It has a children’s zoo that is great. There’s a giraffe feeding area (love this!), and finally, the thing I love most, a bat habitat.
  3. Nasa! The Johnson Space center is located near Houston. We love visiting. You can walk into a real shuttle, feel a moon rock, and they always have some kind of exhibit that kids (and adults!) will love. There’s also a Tram ride through the grounds
  4. The Woodlands Waterway is a touristy thing to do. The Woodlands is just a little drive from Houston. It has shopping, restaurants, the boathouse, movies, there’s always something cool going on at the Pavilion and more.
  5. Sea World isn’t in Houston, but I couldn’t leave it off my list. It’s just cool. We don’t make it there often, but we have an awesome time when we do.
  6. Houston Museum of Natural Science has a little bit of everything, including a planetarium, and a butterfly exhibit, which is where you’ll find me hanging out and relaxing with the hundreds of butterflies and the awesomely cool praying mantis. The only thing that would make it better? Bats! Which brings me to number seven…
  7. Want to see 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats? Well, yeah! Every night bats fly from the Waugh Bridge near Buffalo Bayou to eat their fill of mosquitos. I love bats! Oh, and if you go early while people are still out and about, you can scare the crap out of them by making the bayou burp (Located in Buffalo Bayou, beneath the Preston Street Bridge.)
  8. The Children’s Museum is the first place my family visited when we moved to the Houston area. They loved getting to touch and use the exhibits. It’s a great interactive place to take your kids, they get the excitement of things like the robotic station, and you know you’ve taken them somewhere educational.
  9. Walk the Kemah Boardwalk. It has gorgeous views of the water, with awesome restaurants, gift shops, and rides. You can even see fireworks if you visit on a Friday night during the summer.
  10. Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is a great place to spend the day. You can even take your dog! It’s located on the western edge of Memorial Park. I like the birding classes they offer, too. This is a great place to go if you don’t want to spend a lot of money. The five miles of trails are free to walk, and include a pond, forest, wetland and meadow. The Discovery Center has hands on things to entertain the family, and is where my kids want to go. I like spending my time on the trails.

So there you go. My ten things to do while you’re in Houston. But I have one more thing that you need to visit: The Texas Book Festival, held in Austin each year. Yeah, I know it isn’t in Houston, but it’s an awesome thing to do if you’re a book lover, or author, or blogger, or kid, or… well, you know, everyone!

Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Gillian. I really enjoyed sharing the things my family loves to do, and it made me realize just how great my city, and state, is!

Meet Michelle in person

If you live in the Houston area, come see me! I’ll be signing the Milayna Series at the Spook-tacular Book Bash, October 24th from 11am – 3pm, the Grand Palace in Spring, TX.

Bring your own books, or buy them there. I’m scheduled to sign Milayna and Milayna’s Angel, but if you have other books of mine, bring them and I’ll sign them too. Oh, and I’ll be holding a drawing for a HUGH prize basket with books, SWAG, and more!

Milayna Angel book banner

Milayna's Angel book coverMilayna’s Angel (The Milayna Series, Book 2) by Michelle K. Pickett
Published: July 7th, 2015
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Genre: YAm Paranormal Romance
Content Warning: Adult language and violence
Recommended Age: 16+

Synopsis:

Now that the battle with Hell’s angel, Azazel, has ended, you’d think eighteen-year-old Milayna’s life would take a turn for the better. After all, what could be worse than having the angel of Hell trying to steal your soul? Plenty. Abaddon, the demon of destruction, is angry that Azazel failed to convert Milayna before her demi-angel powers matured. Now she’s untouchable… or so she thinks. It seems even in Hell, there are loopholes.

Not only is her life in danger, but her love life is crumbling, too. Just when Milayna and fellow demi-angel Chay get comfortable on their little cloud of bliss, Xavier comes to town. He’s one angel that’s as hot as the very embers of Hell, and he has his sights set on Milayna.

Now she has the demon of destruction out to kill her, Xavier out to steal her heart, and she still has to take final exams before she can graduate high school.

Sometimes life sucks, even if you are half angel.

Purchase on Amazon | Add to Goodreads

Sometimes life sucks, even if you are half angel. #YA #Paranormal #Romance #CleanTeen Milayna’s Angel by Michelle K. Pickett

About the Author

Author Michelle Pickett

Michelle is the bestselling author of the young adult novel “PODs.” She was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, but now lives in a sleepy suburb outside Houston with her extremely supportive husband, three school-aged children, a 125 pound “lap dog,” and a very snooty cat.

Red Bull or Monster Khaos are her coffee of choice, and she can’t write without peanut butter M&Ms and a hoodie. A hopeful romantic; she loves a swoon-worthy ending that will give her butterflies for days. She writes across genres in the young adult and new adult age groups. She loves to hear from her readers.

Michelle signed her new young adult contemporary novel— Unspeakable, with Clean Teen Publishing in 2014.

Connect with the Author: Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Blog

Giveaway

Enter to win a bookmark swag pack, winner’s choice of any Clean Teen Publishing eBook, and a $15 Amazon gift card.

Giveaway is International

 

100

 

 

Vanishing Act

Vanishing Act tour banner

Vanishing act Erica Kiefer book coverTitle:  Vanishing Act
Series:  Lingering Echoes #3 (Standalone) by Erica Kiefer
Published:  May 26th, 2015
Publisher:  Clean Teen Publishing
Genre:  NA Contemporary Romance
Content Warning:  Violence, drug usage, abuse
Recommended Age: 14+

Synopsis:

A fresh start at college is exactly what Kate needs to ease the burden of her family secrets. When she meets the confident and charming Aaron Jackson, she weaves a new history for herself to fit into his seemingly perfect life. But the past refuses to stay where it belongs, causing a rift between their contrasting worlds.

When Ben reappears in Kate’s life, she is only pulled deeper into the childhood that she’s tried to forget. Driven by the abuse and pain that still lingers within him, Ben seeks Kate’s help in making a change. But in this journey for retribution, lines blur between courage, justice, and revenge.

Bound by their shared and damaged youth, Kate is forced to choose sides, and fast. The final act is almost here, and time is running out.

Vanishing Act is a Lingering Echoes novel that can be read as part of the series or as a stand alone story. Fueled by the scars from an experience in foster care that no child should have to endure, Vanishing Act touches on serious issues that can continue to impact abuse victims well into their adult lives. Vanishing Act is an emotional drama with a sweet romance mixed in.

Read Erica’s take on keeping sane while maintaining a writing career.

Continue reading

Amanda Strong’s Top 10 Actors – The Awakener

Today’s top 10 is by Clean Teen Publishing author of The Awakener (Watchers of Men Book 1), Amanda Strong.

Amanda lists the top 10 dreamcast actors for The Awakener.

 

Awakener Liam Hemsworth

Liam Hemsworth as Micah Hawkins

Chris Hemsworth

 Chris Hemsworth  as Gabriel

The Awakener Eden Allie DeBerry as Eden

 Cam in the Awakener

Cam Gigandet as Trent

Cord Overstreet Chord Overstreet as Andrew

Shay Woodley Awakener

 Shailene Woodley as Caitlin

Awakener Willow

 Barbara Palvin as Willow

Drew Fuller in the Awakener

Drew Fuller as Damon

 Debbie Ryan The Awakener

Debby Ryan as Jessie

 Kellan Lutz

Kellan Lutz as Chase

The book cover for The Awakener

Cover courtesy Clean Teen Publishing

Synopsis for The Awakener (The Watchers of Men)

Seeing Micah for the first time in years, fifteen year old Eden wants nothing more than to run and hide, but instead in a moment of sheer embarrassment, she throws her arms around his neck; unaware she just changed her childhood friend forever.

With eyes’ opened to the realm of angels and demons, Micah discovers he has become the Seer, called to save the world from an impending fire.  Shy and awkward, Eden stumbles through high school clueless her guardian angel shadows her every move, keeping her safe while she unknowingly “awakens” others to their spiritual gifts.  Micah will need those Eden touched to complete his mission which began long ago in the ancient City of Enoch and its secret underground temple. 

With angels and demons fighting around them, both Eden and Micah must find their own personal courage and faith in order to know what to do for the battle that awaits them, one they must triumph or risk losing everyone they love.

 

Plain Talk Book Marketing