April 29, 2015

Author Interview & Review of Zombie Rapture by Stuart R. West

Zombies spouting scripture – yeah, you heard me.

Today I'd like to step up a few years from my usual young adult (and many years from my frequent middle grade) fair to share Stuart West's newest book, Zombie Rapture with you.

About the book: 

Life is good for Hunter Wright. He's just about to graduate from high school and he's found true love. Just in time to lose her. Because the Rapture's begun and those in his path, living and dead, stand in his way of finding her. And it's not the Rapture the faithful have been expecting either. Someone failed to tell the dead they’re not in Heaven.

My review: 

The incident that creates the zombies happens early on in the book, but we don’t learn the how behind it for a while. When our main character, Hunter, discovers his parents and his neighbors have been turned into crazy scripture spewing zombies he heads to his girlfriend, Jordan’s, house in the hopes that – like him – she’s been spared from the transformation. Instead he finds her little sister, Scout, who is dealing with zombie parents of her own. Together, they rescue Hunter’s grandfather and the search for Jordan commences.

The book keeps us intrigued along the way with harrowing encounters with zombies and humans alike, the quest for Jordan, the question of how it all came about. In the end we get a satisfying ending (even if it isn’t all rosy) that ties up the loose ends, even while leaving us with character motivation for a second book.

Zombie Rapture is written for a more mature audience. If I were to classify it, I’d put it in the New Adult category because of mature themes and a lot of cussing. But if a foul mouthed kid don’t bother you, then I recommend you pick up your own copy of Zombie Rapture.

5 questions for Stuart R. West, author of Zombie Rapture

What inspired Zombie Rapture?

Besides my love for schlocky horror films and TV shows (hello, Walking Dead!), I suppose I wanted to see if there was a new wrinkle (not the icky rotting flesh kind) in the zombie genre. It was sorta a challenge, I suppose. Also it's somewhat of a tribute to Joss Whedon, the man who created snarkiness mixed with horror, chased with topical issues as metaphors. And (like it or not, I'm just realizing this) there appears to be a theme running through many of my books: hypocrisy, religion, family--blood related or not. And really, after all the wacky living dead antics is written and done in the book, the story's about love, loyalty, friendship. 

Why did you choose a wholesome, Midwest setting like Kansas?

Oh, Kai, I didn't choose Kansas. Dang state CHOSE me! Sigh. Life-long inmate. Not by choice. Fate's just been very unkind. And who says the Midwest is wholesome? Hello! Y'all need to read my books. Part of my mission is to rip away the Norman Rockwell pretty exterior of Kansas to expose what lies beneath. 
Hey, I grew up in Wisconsin and I stand by it's wholesomeness! Who was your favorite character to develop in ZR & why?

That's tough because I like them all. But two characters stand out. And apparently they're becoming fan favorites. That'd be Grandpa and Scout. I'd rather not say too much about them--keep a little mystique and surprise--but, let's put it this way: one's a senior citizen, the other's a 14 year old girl and it's hard to say who'd win in a fight. Both extremely fun, exhilarating and vicarious to live through characters. Wish I had some of their gusto.
What kind of reader are you targeting with this story?

Good question. The lead characters are teens. But it's definitely not a YA book, much too strong for that, I think. It's not a gory flesh-eating zombie book, not by a long shot. Even though "zombies" of a sort are crucial. I wouldn't call it horror; there's a lot of humor and heart. Crap, no idea who I'm targeting (methinks you don't either, Kai, hence the question. LOL). As usual, I guess I just write books I'd enjoy. The three "H's": humor, heart, horror. Unlikely combo, but hey that's the way I roll. Can we poll your readers as to what they think?

 Will there be a sequel to ZR?

Honestly, I hadn't even considered it. Until my mother-in-law said I had to write one. Then my publisher (hello Lea!). Then readers...

Now I'm considering it.

Thanks for visiting, Stuart and sharing some insight on Zombie Rapture.

April 25, 2015

Laura Maisano Introduces Schism

I'm excited to welcome Laura Maisano to Strands of Thought. She's here to talk to us about her book, SCHISM, which is days from release. Tap those fingers on your keyboards and make some noise for Laura!

Author Interview

How did you come up with the title for your book?

I was playing with different concepts about dividing or separating. Since Illirin was separated from Earth, I felt I needed something to encompass that idea. SCHISM just popped out as the perfect word to describe that division.

Give us a three-sentence description of the book.

Since his tragic car accident, Gabe obsesses over getting his memory back. That’s until he meets Lea and her crazy theories about another dimension. Not only is her theory true, but neither of them could predict how this other world, that holds his past and her destiny, ties the future of both of their worlds together.

Is there anything in the book based on real-life experiences?

Yes, I’m glad you asked. Aside from the setting being my alma matter, there’s a scene that’s very similar to something that happened when I was in college. In the book, Lea suggests that she, Gabe, and his roommate Matt, drive to West, Texas for Kolachies…at three a.m. My friend Christina did this exact thing, and we did. We piled into her truck and drove for hours to get fresh, hot kolachies. It was amazing.

Sounds like fun! So, what does your writing process look like?

First, I have to relax a little to allow myself to get creative. This generally means I need to make some coffee or tea. After I relax, I get to work. If I already have a scene in mind, I just write. If I’m stuck, I may brainstorm and plot out a few scenes before I get started. Some projects I write outlines, and others I just fly by the seat of my pants. I guess I’m a hybrid writer that way.

I'm a total pantser! Where can readers find you online?

Twitter: @MaisanoLaura

SCHISM (Illirin Book One)

By Laura Maisano

Art therapy hasn’t done squat for Gabe Jones. A thousand sketches of his fiancée can’t bring his memory, or her, back to him. Nothing on Earth can. His past lies in another dimension, a world just out of sight.
Another student on campus, Lea Huckley, unknowingly shares Gabe’s obsession with the fourth dimension. The monsters from the other side attacked her parents and fled, getting her folks locked up in the loony bin. Proving this other world exists is the only way to free them. Lea and Gabe strike a deal to help each other, and together they manage to open a door to the world of Gabe’s true origin. She’d use him for proof—if she didn’t already care too much.
While Gabe tries to reconcile his feelings for Lea and his rediscovered memories of his fiancée, a much more sinister plot unravels. He uncovers his history just in time to become the unwilling lynchpin in a conspiracy to start a war. His memory holds the secret to the final riddle the would-be conqueror needs to get the upper hand. Gabe must protect the riddle at all costs, even if that means leaving Earth, and Lea, behind forever.

Available for pre-order:
Lea packed light. Other than her phone’s GPS and a flashlight, she kept a small notepad, her lucky pencil, and the thermometer in her cargo pocket. She didn’t need to find data, now she needed proof.
She led the way down the alley where skyscrapers blocked the glowing moon and the lamps from the highway. Yellowed fixtures above each back entrance threw faint cones of light onto the cement, like holes in Swiss cheese.
Lea checked the coordinates on her phone while she walked, and the little red arrow crept closer to the flag icon she placed to mark the interaction point.
Gabe spent his time surveying the area for anything that might be a danger. He kept fidgeting behind her and turning around every few seconds, a twitchy meerkat on patrol.
“We’re only between buildings. It’s not the end of the world.” Lea checked her phone again to make sure they were headed in the right direction.
He glanced over his shoulder. “I still don’t like it. It’s night, people do get mugged, you know.”
“The statistics of that are so low. We’re really not in any danger, considering the population and how many times that sorta thing happens.”
He shifted uneasily behind her. “Whatever, we’re raising the chances by being out here at night.”
Lea rolled her eyes. “I’m not missing this opportunity.”
“I know that. Neither am I.”
They came to a cross section behind two major offices where the loading docks and dumpsters sat for both of them. A stream of water trickled down the concave cement into the large sewer grate. Old garbage left a fume hanging around, and the humidity only made it worse.
Lea double- and triple-checked her coordinates, cross-checking with her notes. “This is it. Within I’d say, a fifteen foot diameter, low to the ground.” She shoved the phone in her cargo pocket. “Perfect.”
“How long?”
“Roughly ten minutes.”
Ten minutes may as well have been six hours. She paced back and forth, her sneakers scuffing the gritty pavement.
Gabe continued to keep a watchful eye out for muggers or vagrants. What a dork.
She snickered quietly. For someone who didn’t know his own experiences, he sure seemed paranoid. She watched him standing straight, darting his eyes to the entrance and even up to the windows above them. Watch out bad guys, Gabe’s on to you. She smiled and turned to see what looked like heat waves rising from the cold cement. Crap. The interaction had already started.
“Gabe…” She waved him over next to the loading dock.
This interaction provided no shining lights or obvious movement. Not much stood out visually, except maybe the air glistening like summer heat waves if she squinted hard enough, but her digital thermometer found the coldest point.
“Here,” she whispered, not wanting anyone or anything on the other side to hear. She stretched her arms forward, and Gabe did likewise.
“On the count of three.” She waited for him to nod. “One…two…three.”
They both reached through the interaction point and grabbed at the thicker air. Nothing. They tried again, pulling, grasping, and making any sort of motion to trigger a rip. Finally, Gabe leaned in and pulled out at just the right angle, because the light tore across like a jagged line. Lea grabbed the edge of it and tugged, opening the tear wider until they both fell through.

About the Author
Laura has an MA in Technical writing and is a Senior Editor at Anaiah Press for their YA/NA Christian Fiction. She’s excited to release her debut YA Urban Fantasy SCHISM, and she’s finishing up the sequel UNITY.

Her gamer husband and amazing daughter give support and inspiration every day. Their cats, Talyn and Moya, provide entertainment through living room battles and phantom-dust-mote hunting. Somehow, they all manage to survive living in Texas where it is hotter than any human being should have to endure. Check out her blog at LauraMaisano.blogspot.com.

Twitter: @MaisanoLaura
Google + https://plus.google.com/+LauraMaisano

April 22, 2015

Three Times A Charm with Kathleen Davis

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to people involved in children’s publishing. Today we have Kathleen Andrews Davis with us. She’s going to share a little about her books. But first tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Kathleen Andrews Davis and I live in the mountains of Central Pennsylvania with my husband and a horde of deer who insist on annihilating any attempts at gardening.   We are empty-nesters with two grown daughters and two beautiful grandchildren.

​During my long and varied working life I did business writing including everything from press releases to policy and procedure manuals.  I served as managing editor of an in-house newspaper where I enjoyed every aspect of production including writing, photography, and even dummy layout.  From there, I moved into marketing pieces and business plans.  

My favorite venture, however, was fourteen years in the Bed & Breakfast industry.  This was my passion.  When we left our lovely old Victorian it left a hole in my heart, and I found myself with an indistinguishable yearning to be more and do more.  The little wheels in my head started turning and it dawned on me, if I liked commercial writing, why won’t I like creative writing?

Becoming a grandmother was the fuel that fed the fire, and I decided to leave my grandchildren a legacy of words that would outlast any other inheritance I could give.  

The knitting needles have slowed, the flower beds (or what’s left of them) have weeds, my fishing rod leans lonely in a corner of the garage, and I can’t get enough of my grandchildren

Aw, that’s really sweet. I love that you have your priorities well ordered. Life is so much better when we focus on the people, not the tasks. Now, tell us more about your books.

My goal is to provide wholesome, entertaining, and educational reading for young people.  If they learn something new along the way, that's an added bonus.

Emerson's Attic, The Blue Velvet, introduces 14-year-old Emerson Amelia McBride, the heroine of this series. Emerson is a normal American Teenager.  Her life is just like any other 14-year-old’s until she is suddenly jerked back in time.  Where is she and why is she here?  Frightened and alone Emerson has to adjust to a new life in a new country and time.  How will she cope without modern electronics?   Adventure and intrigue force Emerson to prove her maturity and bravery as she solves an old family mystery.  Come along with Emerson as her beloved grandfather guides her on her journey.  A study guide is available for teachers to use in conjunction with The Blue Velvet. 

In the second book, Smoke and Mirrors, Emerson is joined by her best friend, Sarah, for a rollicking ride on a turn-of-the-century circus train as it heads west across the United States.  Exotic animals, exotic people, and danger are combined with recognizing and appreciating the differences in people and social issues. 

I recommend my book to readers who like Nancy Drew Mysteries, The Mysterious Benedict Society, and A Wrinkle in Time

Now it’s time for The 3’s. Give us the top three answers to the following questions to help us know you better.

Top 3 things you learned about the business after becoming a writer. 
  1. Selling books is harder than writing them.
  2. Authors must be stubbornly determined and organized when marketing.
  3. Meeting and engaging with other authors is the best part of marketing. 

Top 3 favorite ways to interact with readers. 
  1. Face-to-face conversation. I love learning from readers. 
  2. Group discussion after they have read the book.  "Kids say the darnest things!"  It's incredibly fun to hear how they interpret what they read.
  3. Kathleen in costurme
    @ a mother-daughter tea
  4. Presentation in costume as a character from The Blue Velvet for special events.  Speaking to grandmothers, mothers and daughters is so much fun because they all have different perspectives and great questions.

Top 3 favorite personality traits that appeal to you. 
  1. Honestly
  2. Loyalty
  3. Humor

Please include contact information; websites, blogs, social media here: 

FB:  Kathleen Andrews Davis

April 16, 2015

Finding Thor Book Blitz & #Giveaway

YA Bound is hosting a book blitz and giveaway for Finding Thor. You'll see posts crop up all around the Internet until the 22nd of April. The giveaway is open through the end of the month. I would GREATLY appreciate if you could participate by hopping over to several blog sites, leaving comments, tweeting, adding FT to your Goodreads shelf (or claim the entry if you already have), follow some of the fantastic blogs.

Bloggers who are kind enough to sign up to host for book blitzes are simply AWESOME. I want to thank each and every one and the best way to thank them is if you could take the time to visit a few of their sites and let them know you appreciate the opportunity to participate in the blitz.

(Sorry the formatting is off, but you can still click on the blog link to get to the blog.)

Book Lovers Lifehttp://bookloverslife.blogspot.ie/
Hungry for Goodieshttp://hungryforgoodies.blogspot.com
deal sharing aunthttp://dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/
Victoria Simcox's Bloghttp://victoriasimcox.blogspot.com/
CBY Book Clubhttp://cbybookclub.blogspot.co.uk
Pieces of Whimsyhttp://piecesofwhimsy.blogspot.com.au/
Word Menageriehttp://wordmenagerie.weebly.com/
Just Us Book Bloghttp://justusbookblog.blogspot.com/
Blogs and Coffeehttp://lynnstevensauthor.blogspot.com/
Bitches n Prosehttp://bitchesnprose.blogspot.com/
Musings In Fiction Alleyhttp://musingsinficitonalley.blogspot.com/
Book Lovers Lifehttp://bookloverslife.blogspot.ie/
Curls of Sunshinewww.curlsofsunshine.com
Musings of the Book-a-holic Fairies, inc.http://bookaholicfairies.blogspot.com/
The Phantom Paragrapherwww.thephantomparagrapher.blogspot.com
Mythical Bookshttp://www.mythicalbooks.blogspot.ro/
Book Butterfly in Dreamlandhttp://purpleshadowhunter.blogspot.com/
Desert Rose Reviewshttp://desertrosereviews.blogspot.com
The Eternal Writing Optimisthttp://trakenaprevost.blogspot.com
Adventures in Writinghttp://thhernandez.com/blog-3
The Page Unboundhttp://thepageunbound.com
Adventures in Booklandadventuresinbooklandblog.wordpress.com
3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!http://3partnersinshopping.blogspot.com
Mama Reads Hazel Readshttp://mamareniazen.wordpress.com
The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Clubhttp://theunofficialaddictionbookfanclub.blogspot.com
Zerina Blossom's Bookshttp://zerinablossom.blogspot.com/
The Page Unboundhttp://thepageunbound.com
Addicted Readershttp://addictreaders.blogspot.com/
Books and Iced Coffeebooksandicedcoffee.wordpress.com
Another World of Bookshttp://pagesofbooks.blogspot.com/
Vailia's Page Turnerhttp://vailiapageturner.blogspot.com/
Wicked Book Addict's Reviewswicked-book-addict.blogspot.com
3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!http://3partnersinshopping.blogspot.com
Fictional Realityhttp://livinginafictionalreality.blogspot.com
Book Freakhttp://reviewsofabookmaniac.blogspot.com
Lost in  Ever Afterlostineverafter.blogspot.ca
Christiney Readshttp://reader.christiney.com
Fictional Realityhttp://livinginafictionalreality.blogspot.com
As You Wish Reviewshttp://asyouwishreviews.blogspot.com
The Avid Readerhttp://the-avidreader.blogspot.com
My Tangled Skeins Book Reviewshttp://mytangledskeinsbookreviews.blogspot.com
2 friends, promote your books with ushttps://www.facebook.com/groups/301139446688226/
Kelly P's Bloghttp://kellyatx.blogspot.com/
Berds Flyhttp://www.hidateen.blogspot.com
My Nook, Books & Moremynookbooksnmore.com
lovely readshttp://serenityslovelyreads.blogspot.com/
Books, Coffee and WineBooks, Coffee and Wine
Magic Within the Pageshttp://magicwithinthepages.blogspot.com.au/
Becca Anne's Book Reviewshttp://beccaannesbookreviews.blogspot.com/
Books and Their Worldly Realmhttp://booksandtheirworldlyrealm.blogspot.com/
deal sharing auntwww.dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com
The Seraphine Musehttp://kasonndraleigh.blogspot.com
What the Cat Readhttp://whatthecatread.wordpress.com
Word to Dreamshttp://wordtodreams.blogspot.com
Just a Bookloverhttp://justabooklover.blogspot.com
Mythical Bookshttp://mythicalbooks.blogspot.ro/
Books, Books the Magical FruitHttp://booksbooksthemagicalfruit.blogspot.com
Bookloving HippoBooklovinghippo.wordpress.com
Paulette's Papershttp://paulettespapers.com/
I Heart YA Bookshttp://iheartyabooks.blogspot.com/
Nicole Sobon -- YA Author & Book Bloggerhttp://www.NicoleSobon.blogspot.com
3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!http://3partnersinshopping.blogspot.com
Book briefshttp://bookbriefs.blogspot.com
Renee Entress's Bloghttp://reneeentress.blogspot.com/
Crossroad ReviewsHttp://www.crossroadreviews.com

April 13, 2015

Most Important Announcement Ever!

But you must memorize the entire thing!
New (and used) authors – listen up. There is one thing you need each and every time you promote your work. If you're composing a guest post, book spotlight, or cover reveal they all must include one important thing.

Let me demonstrate:

You’ll get gooey, melted chocolate, over your choice of a blonde or chocolate brownie. A scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a swirl of whipped topping. Like nuts? I’m happy to sprinkle some on top. Of course I’ll top it all off with a sweet, maraschino cherry.

(insert picture of demonstrator whistling, or twiddling thumbs.)

(insert gif of reader shrugging)

(insert gif of demonstrator arching eyebrows)

Have you figured it out yet?

See how I got you all excited for that amazing brownie dessert? And then never told you how to get it?

Now you’re catching on. You need a call-to-action. Every single time you promote your work, be sure to include a way for the reader to either buy it or find out more about it. Include a link to your website, newsletter, the buy link, or Goodreads link.

Don’t get the person all excited about eating a blondie sundae and then NOT tell them how to get one from you! That’s just wrong. If your book isn’t out yet, then point them to the Goodreads page so they can add it to their to-read shelf. Better yet, encourage them to join your mailing list so you can alert them as soon as the book is released. Don’t make them root around for more information, because chances are they won’t work too hard. If you’re going to do the work of getting them interested – then hook them with a call-to-action. 

April 10, 2015

The Endless Possibilities of Paranormal - Guest Post by Bree Wolf

Blue skies, a brilliantly shining sun and a happily ever after; who doesn’t like that? And yet, what would a happily ever after be without a little thunder and lighting on the way?

Paranormal YA is a great genre with endless possibilities. While we are all familiar with most of what makes it paranormal (i.e. vampires, witches, werewolves, etc.), there are no rules that say you can’t re-invent the already-known, plus make up your own creatures on the way.

When writing ‘How to Live and Die in Crescent Rock’ (#1 Crescent Rock Series), my head was spinning with all the aspects I wanted to incorporate into this story. I enjoyed re-inventing my own breed of vampires as much as creating my very own paranormal beings, that have never before seen the light of day.
At the same time, I switched around attitudes and character traits to bring to life unique individuals that readers will enjoy getting to know. Some you will love; and some you will love to hate.

As the main character, high school senior Quinn McPherson is torn out of her everyday life and dumped into a paranormal mystery. As expected, she has a little trouble adjusting, but out of necessity catches on quickly. After all, would you be able to focus on trigonometry and calculus if you suddenly found yourself the target of a supernatural hunt? I take that as a ‘no’.

As far as I can tell right now, the Crescent Rock Series will encompass at least four books. ‘How to Live and Die in Crescent Rock’ (#1) is already available while I am currently dealing with a quite fickle muse, working on ‘How to Love and Hate in Crescent Rock’ (#2). If I don’t lose my mind, I hope to have it published sometime next year.

Blurb ‘How to Live and Die in Crescent Rock’ (YA):

In the small town of Crescent Rock, located in the most southern dip of North Carolina, high school senior and head of the cheerleading squad QUINN MCPHERSON leads a life … almost like the majority of her peers all over the country. Ruling her school with a firm hand, always followed by an entourage of personality-lacking wanna-bes dying to be just like her, Quinn takes the control she’s always had over her life and those in it as a given. Her word is obeyed, followed to the point and never challenged.
Until one night sends her perfectly structured life into a tailspin – literally.
As her car threatens to spin off the road, Quinn is saved in the last moment by a handsome new-comer who – as she soon discovers – is more than human, and his presence in town is not a coincidence. Although he’s never met her, ARNAUD DE LA ROCHE came to save her life. From that moment on, as one near-death situation pours into another, Quinn is constantly torn between feeling grateful for the safety of his presence and the almost desperate urge to claw his eyes out. Finding in Arnaud an equally strong mind, not used to backing down or taking orders, Quinn soon finds herself infuriated whenever she lays eyes on him. Not even when more and more supernaturals come pouring into Crescent Rock and dark secrets are dragged into the light of day are they able to set aside their differences.

With a deep love for literature, Bree Wolf became a writer early on when she discovered that many of the books she wanted to read hadn’t been written yet. While obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in English and Education and a Master of Arts in Specialized Translation, she followed her fancy across different genres, deciding on a whim what to write about. Although she herself is her own toughest critic, she is always on the lookout for inspirational assistance. Help her work out the bugs in her writing by leaving a comment or writing a review.
Okay, so much for the slightly weird, third-person perspective. On a more personal note …
… as a part-time English teacher I sometimes can’t seem to resist the urge to correct people’s grammar – so, beware!
… I’m hopelessly addicted to chocolate, which is why you generally don’t find any in my kitchen (not because I don’t buy it but because it never really makes it from the shopping bag to the shelf).
… while eight legs don’t bother me so much, six however accompanied by an annoying and insistent buzzing have me running for the hills (well, I don’t like things that sting).
… and last but not least I feel I should mention my inability to leave the volume control of the TV on anything but an even number (you’re thinking OCD? Yeah, that thought had occurred to me too).
Well, I guess that about sums it up!