Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sleeper by S. M. Johnston - Blog Tour: Dream Cast and Giveaway

Today is my stop for the Sleeper tour and I'd like to welcome author S. M. Johnston to the blog. Sharon is one of the Aussie Owned and Read girls, and a great friend. Today she's going to tell us about her Sleeper dream cast...

Main Character, Mishca: 
Amandla Stenberg or Keenan Macwilliam: Amandla is a little young at the moment, but in a few years time she’d be perfect. It’d be whether she could do the Aussie accent. My other choice would be Kenan from The Saddle Club, but I don’t think she’s still acting.

Love interest, Ryder: 
Robert Sheehan, but only with his Mortal Instruments haircut and he’d need to beef up just a little and be able to lose the accent.

Second love interest, Colin: 
Ryan Gosling *drools* Originally I had a younger Colin Firth in my mind, but to have him playing the role would be a bit creepy now, too big of an age gap. Ryan Gosling, however, has the right amount of vulnerability and charm. But if I went with an Aussie it would be Joel Edgerton.

The best friend, Nerissa: 
Indiana Evans. She’s got the perfect baby blues and has that sweet, innocent look about her. And by book three, this choice will make a lot more sense.

Ryder’s best friend, Finlay: 
Brenton Thwaites. Finlay is a bit dark and broody, but at the same time he has a wicked sense of humour. I think Brenton’s looks are a good match.

Mishca’s Mum, Alicia Richardson: 
Naomi Watts. It was a tough swap up here between Naomi, Cate Blanchet and Nicole Kidman. Elle McPherson is also a good match.

Mishca's Dad, Tom Richardson: 
Eric Bana. Tom is still in good shape for his age. So while Eric is a bit younger, it can still work.

Ryder’s hot chick friend, Sophitia: 
Abbie Cornish . Sophitia actually has green hair, but I think Abbie can pull it off. She’s also a very sensual being with just a touch of snark.

Ryder’s side-kick, Connor: 
Callan McAuliffe. Not trying to stereotype Callan as a side-kick after I-Am-Number-Four, but he has this innocent nerdy look that is so Connor.

Mysterious hot priest, Markus: 
Chris Hemsworth. He can even keep the long hair to fit in to his Thor filming commitments!

So that’s my wish-list cast for the main characters and supporting characters in Sleeper. A girl can dream.

To check out Sharon's celeb cast picks click the logo to go to her Pinterest board.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the book:

A new heart should mean new life, not a living nightmare.

Mishca Richardson’s life is at an all-time high after her heart transplant. With new boyfriend, Ryder, the two of them have the perfect summer romance. Even the nightmares that have been plaguing her sleep since her operation can’t dull the high she’s on.

Things start to unravel as Mishca develops superhuman abilities. She does her best to hide them so as not to end up a science experiment in a lab. But she can’t ignore the instant attraction she experiences when she meets her university professor, Colin Reed.

Torn between the blossoming love and the obsession, Mishca must decide if she wants Ryder or Colin. But the organization responsible for her changes and her connection to Colin, is moving to secure Mishca for himself so that she can be the weapon he always intended her to be. If Mishca can’t resist her programming she’ll have a lot more to worry about than romance.
About S.M. Johnston:

Sharon is a writer from Mackay in Queensland, Australia who has short stories published in anthologies and was also runner-up in the Australian Literary Review's Young Adult short story contest with KARMA.

By day she is a public relations executive and by night she writes weird fiction and soulful contemporaries while her husband, two sons and cat are fast asleep.

You can stalk Sharon at the following links:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

K x

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

COVER REVEAL: True Fate by Shayna Varadeaux

Today I have a very special cover reveal for you because this is a cover that I designed. Yay!

Shayna and I have become good friends over the past few months. She is a very sweet and supportive person, and I am so grateful for everything she has done for me along my self-publishing journey.

Check out the awesome... (but I might be biased).

Title: True Fate
Author: Shayna Varadeaux
Publication Date: January 6th 2014
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy

Book Blurb:
Strange things have always happened to Nia, and until now she’s written them off as flukes. At nineteen she has seen her fair share of odd occurrences and just feels lucky.

When Nia unknowingly spoke a prophecy on her eighteenth birthday she freaked out her best friend, Rhea. Nia realizes she needs to find some answers. Rhea makes her promise to go and see her Great Aunt Amarie, but she isn’t sure if her crazy aunt could really help.

Nia finds herself unexpectedly drawn to a stranger and begins dreaming of people who seem to know everything about her. They offer little in the way of information as to how and why. It all feels too real but Nia is unsure, at least until she wakes up with a trinket from the encounter.

When dreams and reality collide Nia will have to face dangers she never knew existed. Ready or not she will have to discover her True Fate.

Author Bio:
Shayna is a happily married mom of three teenagers and a native Texan. She is a highly addicted reader and an avid reviewer with a love for generating buzz for other authors.

“Life is chaos and reading is my relaxation. Writing comes second only to my family and my music. I love playing the bass and singing backup vocals for my husband. A tattoo artist turned author, following my dream and loving it!”

“I am currently writing True Fate, my first YA Paranormal Fiction! I hope to publish by the end of the year or the beginning of next year. Luckily I have my best friend who is also my supportive husband to cheer me on. I'm definitely looking forward to the painful journey of becoming a self-published author!”

Author Links:
Blog | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

K x

Monday, December 16, 2013

COVER REVEAL: Stakeout by Nikki Jefford

I love the Aurora Sky Vampire Hunter series, and Nikki Jefford is one awesome girl. We've become good friends over the past year, even though we're on opposite sides of the world. So when I get a chance to support Nikki, I jump at it.

Now feast your eyes on this totally awesome cover! I think this is my favourite in the series so far.

Stakeout (Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter #2.5)

Publication date: January 14th 2014
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

Book Blurb:
Noel Harper got a second chance at life when the government recruited her as an undercover vampire informant. Since the day they brought her back from the good-as-dead, she has wanted to prove herself worthy.

When a member of her investigative unit is murdered, Noel is paired up with a vampire hunter named Dante to spy on a suspect in Fairbanks. The problem? They’re not the only ones on stakeout. Taking down murderous vampires is one thing. Dealing with the past is another. But this time, Noel isn’t letting fear win. She’s calling in help from the other side and learns a shocking secret along the way.

STAKEOUT is an Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter novella told from Noel Harper’s POV. Approximately 40,000 words.)

Click the covers to purchase
books 1 and 2 from Amazon.

About Nikki:
Nikki Jefford is a third generation Alaskan who found paradise in the not-so-tropical San Juan Islands (Wash.) where she is once more neighbors with Canada in a town without a single traffic light. She loves fictional bad boys and heroines who kick butt.

When she's not reading, writing, working, or out on a nature walk, she's out riding her Suzuki DRZ400SM.

You can stalk Nikki at the following links:
Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

K x

Friday, December 13, 2013

15 Days of Christmas Massive eBook GIVEAWAY!

I've joined a stack of Indie authors to bring you a fantastic Christmas giveaway. There are lots of eBooks to win from all of us. Go on! Enter now...

Good luck.

K x

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Indie Life - I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again

Welcome to my Indie Life post for December. This is a monthly feature posted on the second Wednesday of the month and hosted by the Indelibles. The aim is to promote, encourage, and support indie authors.

I actually missed my post for this month, but better late than never!

The past couple weeks have not been good for me for a long list of reasons. I was late to work two days in a row because of the wonderful Sydney traffic (notice the sarcasm there). Immagica was deleted from Goodreads the day before the map reveal and I lost all the adds, ratings and stats. Their answer was, oops sorry! I've emailed a complaint but I'm yet to hear back. I fractured my nose playing netball, so now my face hurts. And lastly, the A3 Immagica map for the giveaway I'm running got damaged in transit and had to be reprinted.

That's a lot of things gone wrong in a short space of time.

But when I sat down and took a deep breath, I realised that it's nothing in the scheme of things. I'm lucky I have a job to go to in the first place. I'm lucky I have supportive fans who banded together and helped spread the word about the mishap with Immagica. I haven't retrieved all the adds the book previously had, but it's getting there. My nose hurts, but at least it was just a crack and not a full-blown crooked break. It's still straight! Swollen and a little bruised, but straight. And my wonderful printer has reprinted the map at no charge.

Some really great things happened as well.

I had the Immagica map printed onto canvas, and it is totally awesome! My illustrator Lawrence Mann is totally awesome as well.

My seven-year-old daughter received a citizenship award at the end of year presentation day yesterday, and I'm so proud of her.

So, even when things go wrong, there is always a positive side.

Has anything happened to you lately that's forced you to look for the good in a bad situation?

Have a great month.

K x

Monday, December 09, 2013

Fantasy Map - Immagica - it's Here!

Over the past few months there have been numerous times when I've felt as if Immagica was never meant to be published. I've had quite a few set backs with this book, and on more than one occasion I've wanted to throw my hands in the air and just let it go. But then I stop and think about all the hard work I've put into this story, and how much I love it, and I can't let it go. I'll see it through even if it kills me.

Today I'm really excited because I'm releasing the Immagica map into the world. To celebrate I'm having a giveaway with some really great prizes. You have to be in it to win it so make sure you enter via the rafflecopter below.

The list of prizes includes:
• An A3 printed Immagica map (yay!)
• A signed paperback of Sacrifice
• $10 Amazon gift card
• Finding Home by Lauren McKellar (eBook)
• Sleeper by S.M.Johnston (eBook)
• Choice of KIYA 1 or KIYA 2 by Katie Hamstead (eBook)
• The Forgotten Ones by Laura Howard (eBook)
• Choice of any of Nikki Jefford's titles (eBook)
• What Kills Me by Wynne Channing

My totally awesome illustrator, Lawrence Mann, has once again wowed me with his talent (and patience). So, here it is...

Make sure you click the image to enlarge it.

Book Blurb:
Where anything is possible.
Enter at your own risk.

The night before her fifteenth birthday, Rosaline Clayton uncovers a deep family secret. She receives an amulet from her deranged father, and he tells her she must find the book in order to save him. Rosaline is used to her dad not making any sense, so she dismisses their conversation as another of his crazy rants.

When Rosaline’s brother, Elliot, drags her to their Nana’s attic to explore, they find the old leather-bound book tucked away in a chest. It sucks them into its pages, transporting them to a magical world. Along the way Rosaline and Elliot are separated, and the only thing she wants is to find her brother and go home.

The creatures of Immagica have other ideas. After years of war their land lies in ruin. Using the amulet’s power, they want Rosaline to defeat the dragon and restore Immagica to its former glory. But Rosaline is bound to Immagica in ways she doesn’t understand, and when she discovers the truth about her family, she must follow her heart to save them all.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck!

K x

Friday, December 06, 2013

eBook Piracy is stealing, just like shoplifting is stealing

WARNING: this post may spiral into a rant...

I don't usually talk about the negative things that go on behind the scenes of being an Indie author. Complaining about stuff (in public) is not really my style. I like to try and take everything with a grain of salt, move on through the rough patches, and see the good in any given situation. But I feel as if I need to say this...

I'm one of those people that would rather pay the $8 to hire a movie than watch some crappy rip-off for free. Better still, I'll pay the exuberant cinema price to see a movie on the big screen. I'm also the kind of person that loves to hold a CD in my hands, flick through the booklet and read the lyrics.

Most people would argue that there is nothing wrong with piracy. Everyone does it. It's just the way things are now with the internet and the digital age. But I think there is a lot wrong with piracy, and it has unfortunately become an acceptable practice.

The first time I found my book available as a free download, I wanted to cry. I think I actually did cry. Then I emailed a good author friend and asked her what to do. She basically told me that other than emailing them and asking them to remove my book from their website, there was nothing else I could do.


Which sucks.

Because I can't afford to hire a lawyer.

After a while I made peace with the fact that my book was available for free without my consent. On the upside people are reading my work. Maybe they'll like it so much they'll want to pay for a copy, or write a review.



I also figured that I was one little fish in a gigantic ocean of sharks, and fighting the sharks would get me eaten alive. So, I let it go. It was all good.


This week I discovered my book was available on another download website FOR SALE!

Now, having your hard work, blood, sweat, and tears distributed for free is one thing, but having someone use your work to make money—money that I will never see—is a totally different ocean.

I'm aware that some of these sites put items up for sale as a farce to steal your credit card details, so I'm asking you—pleading actually—don't buy from any site that isn't reputable. Authors don't distribute their books to dodgy sites that can't even spell or use basic grammar. Big corporations are big for a reason.

I posted on Facebook this week about my experience with eBook piracy. I know by far that I am not the only one affected. My heart breaks for every single author, musician, and artist out there that has, or ever will have, their work ripped off. I also said that if for any reason you can't afford to pay the few dollars to buy my work legitimately, I would gladly gift you a copy. I understand that not everyone is in the position to afford luxuries such as books and movies. Financially the world has been through some tough times. But I'd rather you ask me if you can read my book than use an illegal download website. I'm nice, I won't bite.

I'll finish my rant by saying, ask yourself this...

Would you walk into a bookstore and take a paperback without paying for it?

Would you stick a CD under your shirt and walk out of the store?

Would you take a DVD off the shelf in a department store and walk out without paying?

Piracy is stealing, just like shoplifting is stealing.

Please remember the people behind the work before you make the decision to steal from us.

K x

Monday, December 02, 2013

Giveaway - I'm Celebrating 1000 Facebook Likes and ... Immagica Has a Map!

A few weeks ago I promised my Facebook likers I'd give away a signed copy of Sacrifice when the page reached 1000 likes. Well, that happened on November 22nd, but I've held off until now because I knew I'd have something else really special to share with you all.

My wonderful illustrator, Lawrence Mann, has been working on a map for Immagica. He finished it last week, and I can tell you, it is so fantastic and full of awesomesauce that's bubbling over and running down the sides of the bottle that I wanted to cry tears of joy and happiness. He is so magical when it comes to deciphering the stuff that's in my head.

So, to celebrate both of these amazing events, I have put together a giveaway that is equally as awesome as the map. It will run for two weeks. One week to celebrate reaching 1000 likes, and a second week to celebrate the big map reveal which is happening on December 9th. If you want to be part of the reveal, you can sign up HERE.

Now, for the giveaway. There is a printed copy of the map up for grabs. Yes! I'm giving away the first ever print of this map. Yay! I'm really excited about that.

Plus, there's a heap of other prizes to be won.

Special thanks goes to Lawrence for donating the gift card, and the following authors for donating their awesome books: Lauren McKellar, Katie Hamstead, S. M. Johnston, Laura Howard and Nikki Jefford. Love you girls :)

Go, quick ... enter below.

K x

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Giveaway - Trust Me! It's HUGE

Here in AUS we don't celebrate Thanksgiving, but I couldn't miss the opportunity to be part of a massive, awesome Black Friday giveaway with a huge cast of Indie authors. We've all banded together to bring you...

We've all put in so you can have the chance to win one of five $50 Amazon vouchers. You'd be crazy not to enter!

You can also check out the event page on Facebook for some fun, and the chance to win some of our books.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

K x

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sun, Sand, Surf, and Dingoes

I've been back from my holiday for over three weeks now, and it feels like I never went away. But, I had an awesome time with my family. I did absolutely no work and spent the entire time relaxing on the beach, swimming, and having fun with my kids.

The last three weeks has flown by. I've been wrapped up in Immagica edits, work, uni, and other blogging stuff. Now I finally have the time to sit and look through the photos we took while we were away. If you want to know more about Fraser Island see this post.

Here's a taste of what we got to see.

Aussies, if you've never been to Fraser Island, go!

For my OS peeps, if you ever come down under, go to Fraser Island!

It's magic.

K x

Friday, November 22, 2013

COVER REVEAL - Forget Me Not by Stacey Nash

Today I have a very special cover reveal for you. Stacey is an AO&R girl and a fantastic friend. Her debut novel, Forget Me Not, is due for release in February 2014. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this one!

Title: Forget Me Not (Book I in the Collective series)
Author: Stacey Nash
Release Date: February 17, 2014
Publisher: Entranced Publishing, Rush
Genre: YA speculative fiction

Book Blurb
Since her mother vanished nine years ago, Anamae and her father have shared a quiet life. But when Anamae discovers a brooch identical to her mother's favorite pendant, she unknowingly invites a slew of trouble into their world. When the brooch and the pendant are worn together they're no longer pretty pieces of jewelrythey're part of a highly developed technology capable of cloaking the human form. Triggering the jewelry's power attracts the attention of a secret society determined to confiscate the deviceand silence everyone who is aware of its existence. Anamae knows too much, and now she's Enemy Number One.

She's forced to leave her father behind when she's taken in by a group determined to keep her safe. Here Anamae searches for answers about this hidden world. With her father kidnapped and her own life on the line, Anamae must decide if saving her dad is worth risking her new friends’ lives. No matter what she does, somebody is going to get hurt.

“Nash brings a secret world to life with these amazing characters.”

“I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys action, intrigue and romance.”

“It's an incredible story with great action, a swoon worthy romance, and twists you won't see coming!”

About the Author
Stacey grew up in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales. It is an area nestled between mountains and vineyards. Full of history and culture, it provides wonderful writing inspiration. After dabbling with poetry during her teen years, Stacey stopped writing until after university when she was married with young children. Now she loves nothing more than spending her days with her children and writing when inspiration strikes.

You can stalk Stacey at the following links
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Guest Post - Kate Belle - Look who’s talking: authorial point of view

Today I'd like to welcome the lovely Kate Belle to the blog...

Thanks K. A. for hosting me today and a big hello to your regular readers.

If there’s one thing I’m passionate about in literature it’s quality writing. By this I mean writing that sings, that moves, that creates a vivid picture in a readers mind, writing that transports us into the story world. Writing styles shift with genre and purpose but one thing is consistently true of all good quality writing – it holds the story so that the reader doesn’t notice they are being told a story.

‘The first draft of anything is shit.’ – Ernest Hemingway.

He’s right. Want to know why?

Because in the first draft authors tell themselves the story. We become familiar with events, characters, settings. First drafts often contain glittering inspired prose, captivating scenes and beautiful descriptions. It’s tempting to hold onto them in the subsequent drafts because the words sound wonderful, astonishing, amazing together. But...

... more often than not, this glorious writing must be sacrificed via deletion or rewriting because it’s all from the author’s point of view. The first draft is the author’s story, not yet fit for the reader’s eyes. The purpose of rewriting is to transition the narrative from the author’s story to the reader’s story. Let me show you an example. The following paragraph is from the first draft of my current work in progress (WIP). Pay attention to the sound of the voice as you read.

“Lissy took to playing outside to avoid being around her sister. She rode her bike up and down the gravel driveway listening to the crunch and hiss of her front tyre as she weaved back and forth. When she was little she remembered Cassy trying to take care of her and their Dad, but as they both got older Cassandra withdrew. Lissy learned it was pointless talking to her. Her sister was like their Mum, feisty and self contained, a force unto herself, and a lot less forgiving.”

Ostensibly, this is supposed to be from Lissy’s point of view, but it you listen to it you can hear me, the author, telling you, the reader, the story through Lissy’s eyes. What the paragraph lacks is Lissy’s authentic voice, her experience in her words. If Lissy was telling her story she wouldn’t say ‘Lissy took to’ or ‘when she was little she remembered’ or ‘Lissy learned it was pointless’. These phrases push the narrative away from the character toward the author as narrator. More simply, the paragraph is tainted by the author’s point of view. So how do you identify authorial point of view?

It’s easy for authorial point of view to sneak in, even after several redrafts. It can happen if the writer has difficulty relating to the character or isn’t certain about the purpose of a scene or if the author is still discovering parts of the story. Writers must read their work with sharp hawk eyes to ferret it out from the prose surrounding it. The moment you feel distant from the character, or become aware you are reading a story rather than being carried along by the character’s experience, it may be because it’s using authorial point of view. So once you’ve found it, what do you do?

Be ruthless! Only a handful of words from the above paragraph survived my redrafting process. Instead of telling the reader what Lissy remembered, I created a flashback scene of Lissy’s memories of her sister’s behaviour. I laced it with her feelings and brought the point of view close into Lissy’s head. I sat right behind her eyes and wrote as if I were her, replacing my words with hers.

The end result is a more intimate experience of the character’s world for the reader, which is what quality writing is all about. It’s not just about lining up the pretty ducks and getting the grammar right, although that’s important too. It’s about making another world, another human being so real in the readers mind their emotions and interest are hooked and they feel compelled to follow the character’s journey to the very end of the book. My aim as a writer is for a reader to become aware they’ve been reading a story only as they close the back cover of my book.

What books or writers have transported you to a character’s world?

The Yearning
It’s 1978 in a country town and a dreamy fifteen year old girl’s world is turned upside down by the arrival of the substitute English teacher. Solomon Andrews is beautiful, inspiring and she wants him like nothing else she’s wanted in her short life.

Charismatic and unconventional, Solomon easily wins the hearts and minds of his third form English class. He notices the attention of one girl, his new neighbour, who has taken to watching him from her upstairs window. He assumes it a harmless teenage crush, until the erotic love notes begin to arrive.

Solomon knows he must resist, but her sensual words stir him. He has longings of his own, although they have nothing to do with love, or so he believes. One afternoon, as he stands reading her latest offering in his driveway, she turns up unannounced. And what happens next will torment them forever – in ways neither can imagine.

Read an extract HERE

Buy The Yearning:
Ebook: Amazon | iTunes | Kobo
Print book: Target, Kmart, Myer, Collins, Dymocks, Big W, Eltham Bookshop and other independent bookshops and major airports. If not in stock just ask.

Reading group questions HERE

Author Bio:
Kate is a multi-published author who writes dark, sensual contemporary women’s fiction. She lives, writes and loves in Melbourne, juggling her strange, secret affairs with her male characters with her much loved partner and daughter and a menagerie of neurotic pets.

Kate holds a tertiary qualification in chemistry, half a diploma in naturopathy and a diploma in psychological astrology. Kate believes in living a passionate life and has ridden a camel through the Australian desert, fraternised with hippies in Nimbin, had a near birth experience and lived on nothing but porridge and a carrot for 3 days.

Blog/website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | The Reading Room

K x

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Indie Life: Indie Authors Down Under

Welcome to my Indie Life post for November. This is a monthly feature posted on the second Wednesday of the month and hosted by the Indelibles. The aim is to promote, encourage, and support indie authors.

There has been a lot going on this month, but today I wanted to focus on an event that is happening next year. It's one that I'm really excited about.

I'm part of the awesome line-up of authors attending Indie Authors Down Under on March 22nd 2014.

For more information about the event, and to see who will be there signing their books alongside me, check out the website.

This event is a great example of how wonderful the Indie author community really is. So many people have banded together to make this possible, and I can't wait to meet all the authors.

Have you attended a book signing as an author or a fan? I'd love to hear about your experience.

Have a great month.

K x

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Announcement - Publication of Immagica

I've been trying to think of a way to write this post without it upsetting me too much, and I guess I just have to dive in and say what needs to be said.

I was hoping to have Immagica published by the end of November. When I set that goal I thought it was quite realistic. I had a few months up my sleeve and things were going well. Then life happened and it hasn't quite turned out that way.

I love this book.

The original draft was completed in September 2011, so the story has been with me for a while. It's a little different now than it was back then, and I've put hours and hours of work (and a few tears) into it. I have a beautiful cover and some other really exciting things in the works. But I don't feel comfortable rushing the final stages to release within my original time target.

Therefore, I have decided to delay the release of Immagica until 2014.

I want to give you the best book I possibly can, and if I have to take some more time to do it then I won't regret this decision one bit.

My readers are awesome, and I hope you understand that I think this is the right decision for me and Immagica.

K x

Friday, November 08, 2013

COVER REVEAL - Branded by Katie Hamstead

Today I'm excited to show you the cover for Katie Hamstead's next book Branded. I love Katie and her writing, and being a fellow Aussie I can't wait to get my hands on this one! Check out the awesomeness and add it to your TBR on Goodreads.

Book Blurb:
Terrorists have invaded Sydney, and Allison King barely escapes her brother’s wedding reception alive. She and her siblings flee, but their parents are killed by firing squad.

Now Ali’s on the run and terrified. While searching for other survivors, she is captured by the General who leads the invasion. He’s smitten by Ali, and when she refuses to submit to his whims, he brands her for death. In a wild act of defiance, she snatches the branding rod and sears the mark onto his face. Marking not only him but also sealing her fate. Ali manages to escape and flees into the bush once more where she finds a group in hiding. Even with the scars left by the General, Ali learns to love and falls in love with the young man who found her—Damien Rogers.

But the General is hunting her. When he discovers their location, and finds her with another man—Damien—his wrath is kindled and his obsession is inflamed. Ali must put herself on the line or the General could kill her family, those who help her, and most significantly, the man she loves.

About the Author: 
Born and raised in Australia, Katie’s early years of day dreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.

After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dog.

She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing. She is currently at school studying English and Creative Writing.

Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports and be a good wife and mother. She now works as a Clerk with a lien company in Arizona to help support her family and her schooling. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.

Stalking Links:
Website | twitter | Facebook

K x

Monday, November 04, 2013

Review or not to review: the decision is yours

Most of you know I contribute to an Aussie blog called Aussie Owned and Read. I love the AOAR girls, and since we began back in January of this year they have become my closest writing family. If you don't follow us, head over and check out what we have to say. There's lots going on with advice, author interviews, book reviews and heaps more. We focus on anything to do with YA and NA writing and publishing.

Below is a post I wrote for AOAR in July about writing reviews. You can view the original post HERE.

There was a time when book reviews were only seen in reputable newspapers and magazines, and they were written by professional review writers. The internet has changed that in an enormous way, and now, anyone can voice their opinion about pretty much anything.

Writing a review is a very personal thing, and the outcome of the review is just that—one person’s opinion. There is no right or wrong way to write a review, but I’d like to give both authors and readers some tips that may help.

For Readers
  • I have to be in the right frame of mind to read. If I’m tired, or the kids are screaming around me, I’m obviously not going to enjoy reading as much as I should. Having no distractions is good!
  • My bookshelves (and iPad) are full of books that actually interest me. This may seem like a silly thing to say, but I’ve read countless reviews where people have said, “I don’t usually read sci-fi, but I thought I’d read this…” (Sci-fi was just an example.) Most of these go on to be bad reviews because the reader isn’t really interested in the subject matter. I’m not saying don’t try something new, but if you’re not into sci-fi, then that type of book may not be the best read for you.
  • I keep a notepad and pen next to me so I can jot down quotes, thoughts, and page references. One minute we may be happy, but the next we want to kick the MC for being so stupid, or something to that effect. This is where writing down a few words about a particular scene or chapter can be a big help when it comes to writing the review.
  • I always try to start and finish with something positive, even if I didn’t like the book. This can sometimes be hard, and if it’s not possible, I aim to be respectful with my word choices. Or, I simply don’t write a review. Personally, I find profanity very off putting, and it makes me disregard a review almost immediately.
  • Say why you liked or didn’t like the book, don’t just give a summary of the story. Potential readers want to know if the book will interest them, and your reasons for liking or disliking it will persuade them. Saying “I didn’t like it” doesn’t really help anyone. Neither does “I loved it”. Tell us why. Keep in mind; if you dislike a book, chances are you can still say something nice about it :-)
  • Be prepared for backlash. Let’s face it, not everyone is going to agree with your opinion, and we don’t love every book we read, but take it in your stride. We all need to learn to play nice.

For Authors

Reviews of your work
  • Read them, don’t read them, it’s up to you, but like I said before, a review is one person’s opinion. If it’s positive, dance around like a crazy person. If it’s negative, try not to take it personally. I know—it’s hard.
  • Don’t respond to negative reviews. In private: cry, scream, rant, rave, throw a pillow at your cat, but don’t engage the reviewer. If you do, you are likely to start an argument and make yourself look bad. Make sure your cat is okay, and then move on.
  • By all means interact with your fans, but someone once gave me a very good piece of advice. If you can’t, or wouldn’t, say something to someone’s face, don’t say it on-line.

Reviewing Other People’s Work
  • I’ve seen quite a few people say that authors shouldn’t review other author’s work. I don’t entirely agree with this. I’m an author, and if I love someone’s book, I want to shout it to everyone. The same is equally so if I’ve been strongly affected in any other way. Although I do tend to mainly write reviews for the books I’ve really liked.
  • As an Indie author, reviews are very important to me, and I figure if I want people to review my books, I should pay it back in kind.
  • If you are an author, and you do decide to review, be careful what you say. I’ve learnt this the hard way. I strive to be honest, and polite, but sometimes people can take negative feedback quite badly. It’s sometimes hard to decipher someone’s intended tone when it’s a bunch of words on a screen. If in doubt—don’t. But… you are entitled to your opinion just like any other reader.

Review or not to review: the decision is yours.

Obviously, this article is my personal opinion on the subject of book reviews. The tips I’ve explained and the points I’ve made are solely my own. If you agree, that’s great. If you disagree, even better! I’d love to hear your thoughts about reviews. Do you read them? Do you write them? Do they affect your reading decisions? Leave a comment below.

K x

Friday, November 01, 2013

What’s in a name? Naming your book and characters is like naming your child (PART 2)

Last Monday I talked about character names and some things to look out for when choosing a name for the new person in your life.

Today I want to talk about naming your book.

PART 2: Book Titles

The title of a book needs to encompass the essence of a story in just a few words, sometimes even one word. This is a really hard thing to do. Writing a synopsis is hard enough, so how do you sum up an entire story with one or two words? I don’t have an easy answer, but I have some ideas that might help.

Ask yourself what the underlying theme of your story is. Is there a moral to the story? Is there something the character does, or a huge event within the story, that would work as a title? What about the character’s name? Some really great books are named after their character(s). Carrie by Stephen King and Eragon by Christopher Paolini spring to mind. Oh! And how could I forget Percy Jackson and Harry Potter.

Sometimes a story will be drafted and still not have a title by the end, and sometimes the title will be the first thing that comes to you. In the case of Fall For Me it went through a few different titles before I made a final decision. Subsequently, the sequel will be called Fight For Me even though I haven’t finished writing it yet. And Immagica was always going to be Immagica, because I knew I wanted to write a story that combined imagination and magic.

Here are some more things to consider when choosing a title for your book:
  • If you think you have a title that will work for you, search for it and see how many other books have gotten there first. This doesn’t mean you can’t use it, but it’s a good idea to be aware of it.
  • Avoid really long words, and really long titles. Short words work best.
  • Make it memorable and interesting. You don’t want people forgetting the title of your book two seconds after you told them. One great example of this (which breaks my short title rule) is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Who could forget that!
  • Don’t make any words in your title hard to pronounce. I’m not sure about other people, but if I can’t say the title, I’m not going to want to read the book. And chances are if I can’t say it, I might also miss its meaning.
  • If you’re writing a series, think ahead. Do the titles work together, or complement each other?
  • Think about how the letters of the word(s) will look. Your designer will thank you for it. Lots of ascenders and descenders (the bits that go above and below the word’s base line) will make the title look messy.
Personally, I love naming my characters and my books. I have a folder full of ideas that have started from a name or a title. Now, I just need to find the time to write them all!

K x

Monday, October 28, 2013

What’s in a name? Naming your book and characters is like naming your child (PART 1)

I love the feeling of excitement I get when an idea for a story first pops into my head. It could begin with a word, a place, an emotion, or even a colour. But for me it more often than not starts with a person. Sometimes I know a lot about this particular person, and sometimes I don’t, and that’s where the fun starts. When I can visualise one person, I start to see what they are like when they meet other people, and then what those people are like, and before I know it I have a cast of characters jumping around in my head all vying for my attention.

Today I want to talk about names.

PART 1: Characters

I find naming my characters really fun, but there are a few basic things I take into consideration before making my choices.

Names shape personalities: certain names say certain things. I try to choose names that fit who I want my character to be. I love the name Oliver, but I would never use it for a bad-boy character. Maybe a kind hearted vigilante like Oliver Queen, but not someone who is really bad-ass evil.

Meanings: I always look up the meaning of each name and make sure it suits the personality I’ve imagined my character to have. For example, one of the meanings of Oliver is affectionate. See what I mean about the bad-boy thing?

It's not just one name: don’t forget about middle and last names, they are just as important. 

Pronunciation: there are so many great names, but some of them can be a little hard to pronounce if we’ve never heard them spoken before. I like to make sure my names can be pronounced easily, and if not I think a pronunciation guide at the beginning of the book is a good idea.

First isn't always best: sometimes my first choice for a name isn't quite right, and I don't discover it until I'm half way through the first draft. But that's what first drafts are all about, for a pantser like me anyway. I'm not scared to change a character's name if it isn't working.

Make a list: I have a notebook for names. Actually, I have a notebook for just about everything. Anyway, writing down a name I like when I hear it or see it, and making notes about that name really helps me when I come to naming my characters. There's only so much I can hold in my head at any one time. All the excess goes into notebooks.

Be unique: there are quite a few names that are overused in my opinion. I like to try and choose names that haven't been used often because I think it makes them more memorable.

Finding the perfect name for my characters is one of the best parts about writing a story. They become real people to me, and I find if I get the names right, the story comes more easily.

PART 2: Book Titles coming Friday November 1st, so stay tuned...

K x

Saturday, October 26, 2013

RELEASE DAY - Kiya: Mother of a King by Katie Hamstead

Today I have a special blog post for you. I don't usually post on a Saturday, but since it's Friday in the US I've made an exception. Because...

It's Release Day!

The second book in the KIYA series, Kiya: Mother of a King, is here! I loved the first book and you can read my review of Kiya: Hope of a Pharaoh HERE

 Purchase Kiya: Hope of a Pharaoh from Amazon.

To celebrate the release of Kiya: Mother of a King, Katie has opened up the comments on her blog for you to ask what you want to know about the series. And yes, book 3 is written and contracted so you will be seeing the final installment before you know it.

Book blurb:
Nefertiti has forced Naomi to flee Amarna with Malachi and the three children. But even under the protection of Naomi’s family in Thebes, Nefertiti still hunts her and Tut. Nefertiti sends assassins to kill them, and while Naomi fights to protect the children, Malachi fights to keep her safe.

With three children in tow, one of which isn’t her own, she is labeled the harlot outcast wife of the pharaoh and is shunned. She isn’t safe among her own people, and flees from being stoned to death. Although her family protects her, she must find a way to survive.

While Naomi struggles to keep herself and Tut alive, old adversaries return as Smenkhkare takes advantage of Akhenaten’s ailing health. Naomi must rely on Horemheb’s promise to protect Tut’s birthright, but her feelings for Malachi could cause more problems with Horemheb than she expects.

CQ is also hosting a giveaway for Kiya: Mother of a King on Goodreads! So jump in!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

KIYA by Katie Hamstead


by Katie Hamstead

Giveaway ends November 20, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.
Enter to win

K x

Friday, October 25, 2013

We're all Going on a Summer holiday...

The past couple of months have been very hectic, and I have no idea where the time has gone.

Today, I’m on my way here:

Fraser Island is off the east coast of Queensland from Hervey Bay. It is world heritage listed, along with Uluru, Kakadu and The Great Barrier Reef. The island is more than 123km long and 22km wide at its widest point. It is the largest sand island in the world.

And I'm going there. Yay!

We've been looking forward to this trip for the past two months. The kids, my son in particular, are so excited it's infectious.

Stay tuned for some holiday pics in about two weeks...

K x

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Words to Live by - Writing TO DO Lists

I try to live by a simple rule: do what I have to, so I can do what I want to.

Sometimes it doesn’t quite happen that way. Some days my hubby gets home from work and it looks like I’ve done nothing because the floor hasn’t been vacuumed, the breakfast dishes are still in the sink, and the ironing basket has suffocated my house fairy. But I made school lunches, got the kids to school looking mostly decent, wrote for two hours, did the groceries, went to the post office, scheduled some blog posts, picked the kids up from school—see, I did actually do something.

But the one thing I struggle with the most is finding time to do all the things I want to do. There never seems to be enough hours in the day, and I often get stressed or feel overwhelmed by it all. I’ve come to realise it’s not actually that there isn’t enough time, it’s more that I’m not organised or using my time wisely.

I have found that writing a list first thing in the morning of what I want to achieve that day is a huge help. I get some of the small and easy tasks out of the way first—things like paying bills or tidying the bench. That way, I feel like I’ve accomplished something, and that feeling of accomplishment grows each time I draw another line through an item on my list. If I feel this way I’m more likely to power through the list as well.

For someone who feels like I’m drowning pretty much 24/7 these are my tips to help me cope:

  • Write a daily list.
  • Write a weekly list as well. This is for things that need to be done over a longer period of time.
  • Don't make the list too long. The aim is for it to be achievable.
  • Do some of the easy things first so it feels like I’m getting somewhere. 
  • Balance what I have to do with what I want to do. For example, fold some washing and put it away, then sit down and write for half an hour. 
  • If something is really important don’t put it off. It will only cause more stress. I always feel relieved when I’ve done something that needed to be done but I didn’t actually want to do it. 
  • If I don’t cross everything off my list, it doesn’t matter. There is always tomorrow.

Another thing I find helps me with my writing is DEAR. The kids came home from school with this concept, and it actually stands for drop everything and read. I figured if it helps them to better their reading skills, why not use it to help with my writing? Even though DEAW is not a word, it doesn’t matter. The point is there are times when we need to just drop everything and do something we love. This especially applies to me and my children. Even though I should do what I have to first, I always take into consideration priorities, and what is most important.The housework can always wait.

How do you cope with getting everything done? Are you a list writer like me?

K x

Friday, October 18, 2013

Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter Series - Revamped Covers

Most of you know I love Nikki Jefford. She is full of awesomesauce. Today I have the cover reveal for the first two books in Nikki's Aurora Sky series. These books are bad-ass, and the revamped covers are totally fantastic. I love them! Check it out, and make sure you enter the giveaway at the end of the post.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

If there is one thing eighteen-year-old Aurora Sky wants, it's to get off the iceberg she calls home. Being kissed before she graduates wouldn't hurt either. Then a near-fatal car wreck changes everything. Government agents step in and save Aurora's life in exchange for her services as a vampire hunter in Alaska. Basically she's a glorified chew toy. All thanks to her rare blood type which sends a vampire into temporary paralysis before she has to finish the hand. Now Aurora's only friends are groupies of the undead and the only boy she can think about may very well be a vampire. And if he's a vampire, will she be forced to kill him?

is the first in a YA Mature/New Adult paranormal fantasy series.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Nook | Sony | Kobo | iTunes | Smashwords | Goodreads

Love Bites. Probation sucks. Thanks to Dante's recklessness, Aurora is now partners with Valerie: the redheaded, backstabbing vixen. Dante is in full flirt mode. Fane's tactics are more ruthless. Something carnal has awakened in Aurora and neither boy is helping tame her cravings. When a member of the unit's team is found dead, Aurora and Valerie are sent after a vampire in Sitka, but Aurora suspects the killer's much closer to home.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Nook | Sony | Kobo | iTunes | Smashwords | Goodreads

Cover Credits
Design and artwork: Claudia at Phatpuppy Art
Photos: Teresa Yeh Photography
Typography: Ashley at The Bookish Brunette
Models: Gabriella (Aurora) and Alyssa Dearest (Valerie)

Nikki Jefford is a third generation Alaskan with a degree in journalism from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She loves fantasy, magic, fictional bad boys, and heroines who kick butt.

Nikki married Sebastien, the love of her life, while working as a teaching assistant at a high school in Amiens, France during the 1999-2000 school year. They now reside in the not-so-tropical San Juan Islands, 70 miles northeast of Forks, Wash. in a town without a single traffic light.

Follow Nikki on Twitter
Connect with her on Facebook
Visit her website.

Win a Stay Strong / Aurora Sky Goodie Pack

Next week Nikki will be participating in the Strength Through Love and Books author event and fundraiser in Vancouver BC. The event benefits the Amanda Todd Foundation, raising awareness to protect teens against cyber bullying. (This giveaway is international.)

K x

Monday, October 14, 2013

BLOG TOUR - KIYA: Hope of the Pharaoh + GIVEAWAY

Today is my stop for the KIYA blog tour. This book has a special place in my heart because it was written by the very talented Katie Hamstead. I participated in the cover reveal for the sequal KIYA: Mother of a King at the beginning of the month. Check out the details for KIYA: Hope of the Pharaoh then read my review below.

To follow the rest of the blog tour go HERE.

Book Description:
To save her younger sisters from being taken to the cruel life of the palace, Naomi intervenes and gives herself to be a wife of the erratic Pharaoh Akhenaten.

In the palace, Naomi finds herself thrust into the intrigues of the royal family, and has her name changed to Kiya. She becomes beloved by the Pharaoh, who declares that she will bear him his heir. But the Great Queen Nefertiti, furious with jealousy, schemes to destroy Naomi and even brings her fidelity into question, which could cost Naomi her very life.

Naomi must play the deadly game carefully. She is in a silent battle of wills, and a struggle for who will one day inherit the crown. And if she does bear an heir, she will have to fight to protect him as well as herself from Nefertiti who is out for blood.

About the Author: 
Born and raised in Australia, Katie’s early years of day dreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.

After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dog.

She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing. She is currently at school studying English and Creative Writing.

Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports and be a good wife and mother. She now works as a Clerk with a lien company in Arizona to help support her family and her schooling. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.

Stalking Links:
Website | twitter | Facebook

My Review:
I’ve never been partial to historical fiction, romance or otherwise. From what I have read in the past, I find it tedious and a little boring, with too much emphasis on setting and explanation about historical events.

KIYA: Hope of the Pharaoh was neither tedious, nor boring!

Hamstead has effortlessly woven history into fiction, and I found myself enthralled from the very first page.

The character development in this novel is amazing. Kiya is a strong heroine. She is loyal, brave, and headstrong—which often gets her into trouble—and she follows a great journey of self-discovery and development. I found myself becoming sympathetic to Kiya’s situation, and admired her unwavering loyalty in her beliefs.

The world building is also equally amazing. I know very little about Egypt and I’ve never been there, but I had no trouble picturing ancient Egypt and what it may have been like at that time.

KIYA: Hope of the Pharaoh has everything: romance, intrigue, jealousy and betrayal. It is an immensely enjoyable read.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

K x

Friday, October 11, 2013

Blogging about Blogging: Dissecting the Blog Post – a Writer’s Idea on Writing

Like any piece of writing whether it be a novel, short story, news article or in the case of what I want to talk about today, a blog post, you need a hook. If you don’t create interest from the beginning, and maintain this interest for the rest of the post, your reader probably won’t get to the end of what you have to say.

Let’s break it down:
Like a novel, a blog post needs an introduction, main story, and a conclusion.

Begin with an interesting title. This little piece of information is often over looked, but it’s very important. It can be long or short, but it needs to give the reader an idea of what the post will be about.  Be careful not to have a misleading title as this will only annoy people.

Take my title for instance: Blogging about Blogging: Dissecting the Blog Post – a Writer’s Idea on Writing

Instantly the reader knows I’ll be talking about blogging, that I’m a writer, and I’m going to express my ideas. If the title is about a topic that the reader finds interesting, then they’ll continue reading.

The title is the beginning of the hook, but not the complete hook. The first paragraph is equally important. At the beginning of this post I stated what I was going to talk about, so the reader knows exactly what to expect. Then move on to the body of the post and make sure all ideas are expressed clearly.

Inject personality into the post. Write in a style that best suits you, and be genuine. It’s very important to stay on topic. As I said before, if the title says the post is about one thing, and it’s actually about another, readers will get annoyed and probably won’t come back.

The word count of the blog post is also another important thing to consider. Don’t make the post too long. Anywhere between 500 and 1000 words should be enough, sometimes even less than that. Of course, there are always exceptions, for example, an excerpt of a current WIP could be up to 2000 words.

Proof read the post. This may seem like a basic step, but let’s face it, blogging is quick writing. Mistakes slip through more often because a post can be written and published in around half an hour. My suggestion is to write the post, read over it and make any corrections, then walk away for a little while. I always pick up mistakes I missed the first time around, and I always end up adding more to the post.

The next point I want to talk about is being regular. Yes, it’s good to be regular. I need to follow this piece of advice, but the fact is I’m busy and blogging doesn’t always top the list of things to do. I can’t seem to find the time I want to dedicate to my blog, so I’ve decided to look at it like this: one post a week, two if I can. That’s only four posts a month at the least, which means I can write them and schedule them in a day. Sometimes it doesn’t always work, and I don’t know that far in advance what I want to write about, so I have a notebook that is dedicated entirely to my blog. When I have an idea I jot it down. Planning the post is also a good idea. This can be as simple as starting with a bullet point, then elaborating on the points to form each paragraph.

Be original! This is highly important. I like to talk about things I’m passionate about, and that I find interesting, or that I’ve learnt and think others will learn from, too. Make sure to mix it up. Don’t blog about the same thing all the time. The key is variety which leads me to my next point.

One mistake (I think) that some writers make is that they focus too much on self-promotion. Sure we need to promote ourselves and our work, but this shouldn’t be the focus of all blog posts. It will get old very quickly. There needs to be a balance between things like self-promotion, advice, topical or opinion posts, and life experiences.

Make sure to check blog statistics. This information is vital and will show what posts have done well, where hits are coming from, how many page views the blog gets etc.

Lastly, the blog post needs a conclusion. This could be as little as, I hope you’ve found this information useful, or thanks for stopping by today. Or sometimes I like to finish with a question and encourage readers to engage by leaving a comment.

Was this post helpful? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

K x

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Indie Life - Something Happy and Inspirational

Welcome to my Indie Life post for October. This is a monthly feature posted on the second Wednesday of the month and hosted by the Indelibles. The aim is to promote, encourage, and support indie authors.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about climbing back to the top of my happy. I’d been feeling a little low and overwhelmed by all the things on my to do list, so I took myself out and away from it all to get some retail therapy for an hour or so.

I came home with these:

Aren’t they pretty?

I purchased these from kikki. K.

Today I wanted to share some of the quotes with you, because sometimes we need something to inspire us to keep going. This is for all the Indies out there who may be feeling low and overwhelmed like I was.

From the INSPIRE book:

Courage is living each day of your life like it’s your last.

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

Inspiration is all around you.

From the HAPPY book:

Because when you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing.

Stay true to you and you will end up incredibly happy.

Happiness is a journey not a destination.

And my absolute favourite to remind myself exactly why I became an Indie author:

Have a great month.

K x