TRAILER REVEAL: Whatever Life Throws at You by Julie Cross

Life loves a good curveball…

Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas is too young to remember her dad’s glory days as a pitcher for the Yankees. So when her father is offered a coaching position with the Kansas City Royals, Annie is intrigued to see the baseball side of her dad. Of course, knowing he’ll be a mentor to hot young rookie pitcher, Jason Brody, certainly makes it more enticing.

After an awkward first meeting with “Brody” involving very little clothing and a much-too-personal locker room interview, Annie’s convinced she knows Brody’s type: arrogant, self-involved, bossy. As her dad grows closer to the pitching phenom, the friction between Brody and Annie increases. But when opening day arrives and it looks like both her dad and Brody may lose their dream jobs, Annie steps up and offers support. She and Brody call a truce that grows into friendship—and beyond. Falling for a rising star who’s quickly reaching a level that involves rabid female fans is not what Annie would call smart, except suddenly she’s getting hints that maybe this crush isn’t one-sided after all. Could someone like Brody actually fall for a girl like her?

Buy Links:

Amazon ** Amazon UK ** Barnes & Noble ** iBooks ** Powell’s Books

About the Author:

Julie Cross lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast and longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former gymnastics program director with the YMCA. She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres. Outside of her reading and writing credentials, Julie is a committed—but not talented—long-distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar-weather survivor, and expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym-shoe addict.

Links:

Blog http://www.juliecrossbooks.com/p/home-page.html

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/FansOfJulieCross

Twitter  https://twitter.com/Juliecross1980

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3429117.Julie_Cross

WHATEVER LIFE THROWS AT YOU Goodreads  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20757528-whatever-life-throws-at-you

REVIEW: How we Deal with Gravity by Ginger Scott

How we Deal with Gravity by Ginger Scott

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

When her son Max was diagnosed with autism, Avery Abbot’s life changed forever. Her husband left, and her own dreams became a distant fantasy—always second to fighting never-ending battles to make sure Max was given opportunity, love and respect. Finding someone to fight along her side wasn’t even on her list, and she’d come to terms with the fact that she could never be her own priority again.

But a familiar face walking into her life in the form of 25-year-old Mason Street had Avery’s heart waging a war within. Mason was a failure. When he left his hometown five years ago, he was never coming back—it was only a matter of time before his records hit the billboard charts. Women, booze and rock-n-roll—that was it for him. But it seemed fate had a different plan in mind, and with a dropped record contract, little money and nowhere to go, Mason turned to the only family that ever made him feel home—the Abbots.

Avery loved Mason silently for years—until he broke her heart…completely. But time and life have a funny way of changing people, and sometimes second chances are there for a reason. Could this one save them both?

*

This book is about love. It’s not so much a romance novel, but it has tons of heart.

Avery is a girl with a heavy load to carry. Her husband skipped out on her right after their son was diagnosed with autism. She’s a girl stuck in perpetual motion, trying to move on with her life, go to school, take care of Max, hold down a job, but life is hard. In turn, Avery has had to become strong, for Max, for herself, for her father whom she lives with, because if she breaks down even a little, everything will crumble.

When Mason Street stumbles back into her life after years of being on the road, Avery sees it for what it is—a disaster that must be avoided at all costs. After all, she doesn’t have time for a relationship, not with Max’s constant demand for attention. What unfolds is a beautiful story of imperfect things that when put together, seem perfect.

Avery is a balanced combination of momma bear and fragile girl. I liked her fierce loyalty and patience with her son. I liked how hard she worked to make Max’s life easier. I felt every tear she cried, because they were earned, and they were justified. I appreciated her dedication not only to Max, but also to her father, Ray. Like I said before, this story is all about love, and I saw it in the way Avery loved the people in her life.

Mason took a little while to grow on me, and I’m certain this was the author’s intent. When he rolls back into town, dejected, fired from his music label, he’s every inch the downtrodden rock star. A bit of a dick. A bit of a player. And he used the word “tits”. I loathed him for a good while.

When Mason started interacting with Ray, my shell cracked. I have a soft spot for father/child relationships, and even though Ray wasn’t Mason’s biological father, he was his dad in every sense of the word.

Avery and Mason collide like fire and brimstone. She’s carting around a broken heart from their high school days when Mason didn’t SEE her for who she truly is, and Mason, well, he’s finally SEEING Avery. He knows he’s far from perfect. He knows that he screwed up with his band, with his life, and it’s a little like watching an ugly mound of clay worked into a glorious sculpture.

Then he meets Max, who latches on to Mason immediately, picking up on Mason’s knowledge of music. Max is extremely gifted and is soon teaching Mason things. I loved learning about Max and autism little by little throughout the book. I think it is something that’s so misunderstood by society. Ginger Scott did an excellent, gentle job of explaining autism, the highs and lows, the struggles, and the beauty of something that’s considered (perhaps wrongfully) a disability.

Between Max and Ray, Mason Street worked his right past my defenses—and Avery’s.

There were so many things I liked about this story. Nothing was easy. Choices were difficult and realistic. I loved the “small town” bar feel, as well as the close knit community. I loved how music and references to gravity wove through the words. I loved the imperfect relationships, and how it was okay to be family with people who weren’t actually your family by blood. I liked how it took a look at mistakes and made them livable—forgivable. I appreciated the selflessness of the characters.

How We Deal with Gravity is a wonderful look at what it means to be a family, and who – however flawed – makes life worth living.

I will definitely be picking up more of Ginger Scott’s books.

5 STARS

REVIEW – Allies and Assassins by Justin Somper

ALLIES AND ASSASSINS BY JUSTIN SOMPER

Prince Anders, the ruler of Archenfield, has been murdered, leaving his younger brother, Jared, to ascend the throne. Sixteen-year-old Jared feels unprepared to rule the kingdom and its powerful and dangerous court, yet he knows he can rely on the twelve officers of the court to advise him. He also knows he can just as easily be at their mercy-especially when it appears that one of them may be responsible for his brother’s death. Unable to trust anyone, Jared takes it upon himself to hunt down his brother’s killer-but the killer may be hunting him, as well. Murder, betrayal, and intrigue abound in Justin Somper’s thrilling YA series debut. Exploring the political machinations of the medieval court and the lives that hang in the balance, Allies & Assassins is a gripping tale of a teen torn between duty and revenge.

**

Allies and Assassins by Justin Somper

 

I received a copy of this book through a Library Thing giveaway. All opinions are my own. Thank you to Hachette Book Group.

 

This is a difficult review for me due to my conflicting feelings regarding this book as a whole. I think, for sake of my sanity, that I will split it into two parts, starting with my comments on the story.

 

Allies and Assassins is carefully plotted. The characters, though many, each have a specific duty to the kingdom as well as the storyline. Let’s start with the prince and the twelve, who serve at advisors to the prince, and correlate to the bell tolls in Archenfield. I’m not going to comment on all of them because that’s too much, but a few were memorable characters.

 

The Prince: Jared

Prince Jared becomes Prince of All Archenfield after his older brother, Prince Anders, is murdered. At sixteen, Jared knows that he is young and far too inexperienced to fill his late brother’s shoes. I think out of everyone, Jared is my favorite character. I found his struggles relatable and realistic. He’s a teenage boy thrown into a situation he doesn’t fully comprehend, who often makes adult decisions and has childish reactions. I empathized with him as he struggled to become a leader over the twelve, who seem to run the kingdom without much input (or interest) from the prince. As the story unfolded, Jared grew into a prince, learning how to be authoritative when the situation warranted, though he never lost his open-mindedness. Politically, he always had someone whispering in his ear. While I found some of his decisions frustrating, I understood the internal battle to make the right choices while giving the impression that he knew what he was doing.

 

The Beekeeper: Emelie

Emelie is a bit of an enigma to me. She has a scathing attitude though I don’t fully understand why. I’m hoping that, as the story was left open-ended, we will learn more of her story in upcoming novels.

 

The Bodyguard: Hal

The story sets the reader up to distrust Hal, who serves as bodyguard of the prince. In the opening scenes, we see Hal conspiring with Axel to murder the princes. I get the impression that Hal is a bit simple-minded, a “do what you’re told” kind of man. Though I knew I should distrust him, by the end of the story, I found myself warring between liking and disliking him as a character. He is very obedient to Jared and we never see him conspire with Axel again.

 

The Captain of the Guard: Axel

Axel is a well thought out character. As captain, Axel has access to the inner workings of the kingdom. He conducts all the investigations into the murders, and as I stated with Hal, we see him plotting early on to kill Jared. No matter what happened, I distrusted Axel, even when he had his redeeming moments. We know all along that he wants to be prince and is power hungry, no matter the consequences. I kept expecting him to make his move.

 

The Cook: Vera

Vera was not an exceptionally important character to the story. I didn’t get a good feeling for her guilt/innocence as it relates to twelve. She could go either way, I think.

 

The Executioner: Morgan

Morgan is an interesting character. As executioner, he’s a bit macabre. However, he has a close relationship with Jared’s mother, the queen. I get the impression that he is an honorable man, however his relationship with Elin (the queen) makes me question his loyalties.

 

The Falconer: Nova

The story starts with Nova. I found her mysterious and suspicious. She has strong opinions and for a while, I didn’t understand why. I enjoyed the imagery of her in the mews with her falcons. I hope to see more of her in future novels. There is one point I didn’t like regarding Nova, and that was her fast recovery. It felt too convenient.

 

The Groom: Lucas

The Huntsman: Kai

The Physician: Elias

The Priest: Father Simeon

 

The Poet: Logan

Early on, I found Logan untrustworthy. He seemed too smooth, too calculating, and he knew far too much. He had his hands in everyone’s business and constantly “advised” Jared as to what decisions to make. It frustrated me that he was a know it all, even when he seemed informed and conscientious.

 

The Woodsman: Jonas

I don’t remember Jonas. Not even a little.

 

The last character I want to talk about is Asta, who is the physician’s apprentice. She’s a fiery girl from the country who doesn’t know how to act appropriate at court. I found her endearing and feisty. Whenever there was a disaster (or a murder) Asta was all about it. She seemed to be a catalyst for a lot of the murders, even if she wasn’t directly involved. She left a trail of unintentional destruction with her inquiries into everyone’s lives.

 

I particularly enjoyed Asta’s relationship with Jared, as they were on the same level emotionally, even though their statuses are markedly different. They worked well as a team, and I think Asta kept Jared on the level when the princedom threatened to ruin his unjaded personality.

 

The Storyline:

The storytelling was intricate and detailed, woven together in ways I didn’t always expect. With so many characters that were fairly easy to keep straight, I think Somper did an excellent job of making everyone memorable with some degree of importance to the plot. Obviously, not all of the twelve were fully developed, and I hope there will be a sequel.

 

The mystery of who killed Prince Anders kept the story moving along. There wasn’t much fluff or detours from important information. There’s enough room to suspect everyone as guilty, and still enough of an open ending for me to STILL suspect some of the characters, despite the Clue-like ending. (It’s Miss Scarlet in the conservatory with the candlestick!) The ending was satisfying without being obvious, even if the execution was a bit forced.

 

I liked the shifting points of view, but at times felt there were too many and the story should’ve only been told from Jared and Asta’s points of view.

 

I’m left curious about Jared’s mother, the queen. She seems a bit shady, especially where Axel, Morgan, Silva, and Jared’s family history are involved. I want to know more about Morgan, Kai, Koel (cool name, by the way!), and the Priest. Also, we never find out HOW the murderer actually gets the poison to kill the prince.

 

The story is what’s getting this book 3.5 stars. It could’ve been 4 or even 4.5 if not for what’s below.

 

I almost quit reading Allies and Assassins within the first ten pages. I am by no means and expert, but I think the editor might’ve let down the author on several points. The first 50 or so pages contain so much passive voice that I spent most of my time editing them as I read. There were enough “could feel” “could see” and “could hears” to fill an entire notebook. Far too much telling and not enough showing. The extra words were annoying to get through, especially when clear, concise writing is so lauded these days. The passive voice made Jared seem disconnected from his body and distracted me. The story, at the beginning, wasn’t strong enough for me to overlook the writing, and had I not agreed to review this book, I would’ve put it down and never picked it back up. Had I done that, I would’ve missed out on Somper’s enjoyable storytelling.

 

In addition to the distracting passive voice, Somper used several “cliché” and modern phrases that didn’t fit his time period. “Plan A” “Precious cargo” “Automaton” “Brain cells” “Running on empty” “Jury’s out on that” just to name a few. These pulled me right out of the story and should’ve been flagged by an editor.

 

So really, I’m of two minds with Allies and Assassins. After the story caught my interest, it became easier for me to ignore the passive voice, and I think it tapered off farther into the story. However, it’s hard for me to recommend something, even when the storytelling is great, when the writing (mostly the editing) was subpar.

 

Bottom line? I will read the sequel if there is one, but I hope more care is taken to give Somper’s story the editing it deserves.

 

3.5 Stars

 

 

REVIEW – Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Making Face by Amy Harmon

405 Pages

Digital copies: 99 cents!!!

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Goodreads

Ambrose Young was beautiful. He was tall and muscular, with hair that touched his shoulders and eyes that burned right through you. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She’d been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have…until he wasn’t beautiful anymore.

Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl’s love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior’s love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast, where we discover that there is a little beauty and a little beast in all of us.

First of all, let me say WOW. This book is incredible. I couldn’t put it down. I know it has over 10,000 ratings on Goodreads, but I wonder if the author knows that she created a truly special story.

I laughed, I cried, I giggled. When I picked up this ebook for 99 cents, (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!) I had no idea how much would affect me. Sale or no sale, Making Faces is worth your money and every second of the time you spend reading it.

What a beautiful story. I think Amy Harmon might be my hero. I haven’t felt this invested in a story since I read The Fault in our Stars. So, way to go, Amy! You’re awesome!

The Characters

FERN – I loved Fern. She was nerdy and uncertain, yet so altruistic that it was impossible not to root for her. With red hair and freckles, and shorter than a fifth grader, she was a loveable, believable character from the start. I enjoyed watching her grow from her Ugly Girl Syndrome into someone confident and strong.

BAILEY – Bailey is Fern’s cousin and best friend. He’s wheel chair bound since the age of 11 due to Muscular Dystrophy. He and Fern are inseparable, but Bailey is unforgettable. With a fresh outlook on life and a killer sense of humor, he often stole the show.

AMBROSE – I have a thing for tortured souls, and Ambrose Young is the ultimate tortured male lead. (In fact, when I bought the book, I worried I wouldn’t like it just because it had a hot, half-naked guy on the cover. It drew me in, and then I was SO GLAD it wasn’t a smutty romance!)

Ambrose…where do I begin? He’s an all-star wrestler in high school. He’s the champ of the town (and did I mention hot?). Everyone knows and loves Ambrose, but he always feels at risk of letting them down. So when the army recruiter comes to their school, Ambrose finally sees his way out.

This has somehow veered from Ambrose to the plot—try to keep up. A lot of the book takes place in 2001 and Ambrose’s decision revolves around the World Trade Center bombings. The author’s description of the students watching the news in class? Spot on. I was a sophomore in high school when this happened and it took me back to watching in horror as the second plane crashed into the tower and then their inevitable collapse.

This event, along with Ambrose’s increasing anxiety over pleasing the town prompts him to join the military.

At this point, he’s had a little contact with Fern and it wasn’t too pleasant. Suffice it to say that they both left the situation a bit mortified. Still—he can’t stop thinking about Fern while he’s in Iraq.

Then the unthinkable happens. Beautiful Ambrose Young gets half his face blown off by an IED in Iraq. An IED that takes the life of four of his friends.

I’m going to stop the book report there because watching the story unfold is lovely. Every character has a purpose – even the tiny secondary characters were developed enough to make me cry. This book was like ripping off someone’s skin and seeing inside.

I. Loved. Every. Second.

Another thing that did me in was the innocence. It was a stripped down, raw kind of innocent, but so true in its observations. I don’t even know if that statement made sense.

I believed it, though. The heartache, the hope, the impossible grief of losing someone you love and the gaping hole that’ll never be filled.

Getting back to the innocence thing – Amy is a very clean writer. I don’t know how she manages to fill her books with so much honesty when they’re so inoffensive!

Amy Harmon. Amy, Amy, Amy…what have you done to me??

I guess I could list some of the things I liked, instead of just rambling incoherently.

Things I Liked:
*The gentle use of religion throughout the book.
*The beach scene with Ambrose, Fern, and Bailey.
*Ambrose working in a bakery. There is something so adorable about a big, sexy, sexy man making cupcakes.
*Fern writing romance novels.
*Ambrose’s stepfather. This man—I felt so awful and so inspired by him.
*Fern’s father, the pastor. If I could imagine a perfect pastor, it was this guy. Too bad there’s none around here like him.
*Bailey and everything about Bailey. He reminded me a lot of Owen Meany, except a bit older.
*Fern and Ambrose’s question game.
*The honesty and patience it took for Fern and Ambrose to fall in love.

You need this book in your life. It’s a masterpiece.

5 STARS

GUEST POST – T. Michelle Nelson Author of the Lily Drake Series

Today on RMDB we have the fabulous T. Michelle Nelson celebrating the release of the 3rd book in her Lily Drake series, Death Warmed Over.
*
Death Warmed Over by T. Michelle Nelson
Available June 20, 2014 from Inkspell Publishing
234 Pages
*
*
In the conclusion of the Lily Drake series, Lily must choose not only what is best for herself and her son, but for her people. Her sword will be stained with blood through her efforts to preserve the lives of the people she loves, but she won’t be able to save them all.When a devastating loss crushes her will to live, can Lily go on and be the leader she has to be? What is she willing to sacrifice to save others?Death comes to everyone…even the Queen’s house…What doesn’t kill you will make you wish it did…

GUEST POST
The Fascination We Have with Vampires

Last year I spoke at a conference about the fascination so many of us have with vampires and the evolution of the vampire in literature.  Vampires are incredibly easy to glamorize and romanticize.

Of course, there’s that sense of danger.  No woman wants to be bored, and vampires don’t have mortal vulnerabilities.  However, in my opinion, the vampire is the paranormal creature of choice for one reason alone.  Eternal youth.

As I get older, this concept becomes more and more attractive.  I went out last week to one of my favorite restaurants, which is owned by a friend, and my waiter appeared to be around 17.  I asked the owner how old my server was, and to my dismay he was actually a year older than the fake age I use.  I apparently have forgotten completely what 22 actually looks like.

What I would give to be eternally 25 years old, healthy and have that twenty-something metabolism.  Yet another huge reason I’d love to be vampire – I could eat without the guilt.  I love food.  Tasty food.  You know, with fat, carbs and calories.  Unfortunately I rarely enjoy that type of food because my almost forty year old body renders fat faster than a sauté pan full of bacon on high heat.

I’d make a great vampire.  I’d appreciate so much – the halting of the cruel aging process, good health, and immortality.  But should vampires turn out to be real and are actually reading this… give me a couple weeks before you turn me.  I’ve got five pounds of winter weight I’d like to get rid of before I’m stuck with it throughout eternity.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

T. Michelle Nelson Author PhotoT. Michelle Nelson became enamored with vampires at an early age when she watched George Hamilton in “Love at First Bite.” As she got older, her tastes leaned more toward the dark and morose, but her love of all things vampire never wavered.  Little has changed over the years, except now T.  makes up her own macabre stories of the undead… mixed with a splash of romance, tough heroines and tons of dark humor.

T. Michelle Nelson is a native of Benton, Kentucky and a graduate of Murray State University.  Currently she resides in a small town in Ohio, which is also the setting of her Lily Drake series.  The first two books in the series, Life and Death of Lily Drake and ‘Til Death Do Us Part, are currently available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any of your other favorite online bookstores. A short story prequel The First Time is also available. Death Warmed Over, the third and final book of the series will release in late June.

When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her spending time with her son, singing out of key, watching B-Horror movies or discussing world problems with her little dog, Toadie.

Website: www.tmichellenelson.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tmichellenelson

Twitter: www.twitter.com/TMichelleNelson

SALE! and EXCERPT Reflection Pond by Kacey Vanderkarr

Time to celebrate America’s independence with an awesome book. The ebook for the YA fantasy Reflection Pond is on sale for 99 cents from now until Sunday. See below for an excerpt from Chapter One!

Amazon Kindle

B&N Nook

Kobo

Sometimes you find home, sometimes it comes looking for you.

Callie knows a lot more about pain than she does about family. She’s never belonged, at least, not until she falls through a portal into her true home. The beautiful faerie city of Eirensae doesn’t come free. Callie must find her amulet and bind herself to the city, and most importantly, avoid the Fallen fae who seek her life. Seems like a small price to pay for the family she’s always wanted.

Then she meets cynical and gorgeous Rowan, who reads the darkness of her past in her eyes. He becomes Callie’s part-time protector and full-time pain in the ass. He has secrets of his own for Callie to unravel. What they don’t know is that the future of Eirensae lies with them, and the once peaceful city is about to become a battleground for power.

CHAPTER ONE

His hand slid under Callie’s shirt, branded skin, slipped into places she tried to keep hidden.
“No,” she said, shoving his fingers away. “No.”

Nate froze and made a disgusted sound. “Callie…”

She tugged her shirt down.

He sighed. “This has to stop. Do you expect me to wait forever?”

Callie climbed off the bed and curled her trembling hands into fists. She hated the wash of his breath on her neck, the smell of his skin, soap and cheap cologne. She’d never loved him, only hoped that if she tried hard enough, she’d miraculously transform into a puzzle that still had all its pieces. Fake it until you make it, she thought bitterly.

“Callie…” He stood now, came two steps closer as she shrank away. “We can work this out.”

Behind Nate, the bed lay disheveled and made a mockery of her inadequacy. She added to the list of things she hated—the ten by eight foot space of Nate’s room, the bed, the way he said her name, his refusal to give up.

“I said I can’t, Nate.” His name slid between clenched teeth. Callie backed up further, until the cold roundness of the doorknob pressed into her back. Her heartbeat thundered everywhere, chest, fingertips, and scalp.

Nate scraped his hands through unruly curls. He was attractive enough, she supposed, muscular from playing football. But he was right; she couldn’t expect him to wait forever, just as he couldn’t expect her to ever be ready.

The hard ball of the doorknob filled her hand. She bolted, leaving Nate standing dumbfounded, surrounded by the dirty clothes that lined his floor and the sparkling football trophies on his shelves.

She didn’t stop to see if he was chasing her. It didn’t matter if he was because every part of her body screamed to run faster. Out the front door, across the patchy lawn, past her foster home next door where the screen gaped open and the shutters hung crooked.

Callie pushed harder, wondering if she could run fast enough to dissipate like smoke, to un-become.

She couldn’t go home—if she could call it home—where the stench of her foster mother’s cancer seeped into the walls, where she was expected to play parent to the younger foster kids. She couldn’t return to Nate—not ever—not with the humiliation clawing at her chest. Callie knew she’d never be ready. Not in a week, a month…a year.

Never.

The thought of Nate’s skin on hers made Callie gag as she steered her legs toward the park. She gasped for air around the bile burning her throat. She knew she looked crazy but couldn’t bring herself to care. She blew past the old man walking his dog and the girl drawing a hopscotch board on broken concrete. It was as though seventeen years of needing to escape had finally caught up with her.

The sun shone bright, but to Callie, it was shadows.

Struggling trees surrounding a mucky pond came into view—the park. She registered the change from hard, unforgiving sidewalk to scratchy, dry grass, and didn’t slow. She ran around empty benches where bums slept at night, under the swing set, clattering the chains that dangled without seats. She ran with a singular vision—freedom.

Callie didn’t see the motorbike or hear the shouts that intruded upon the desolate wasteland of her life. She didn’t see the man as he fell from his bike or the look of horror on his face. She saw the sky, impossibly blue, as she flew into the air. Callie saw the dank, clouded surface of the reflection pond, too dirty to have ever served as a mirror, and she saw her life—a short, inconsequential blip on the grand map of existence.

And then, she broke the surface.

The blue sky smudged gray like a painting and the splash echoed in her ears, muffled by the suffocating sound of being underwater. The reflection pond felt wrong—warm, silky, like the lining of a winter coat—and it made her remember.

She opened her mouth to scream, tasting imaginary, pink bubbles, but nothing happened. No stagnant pond water rushed into her throat.

She didn’t drown. She didn’t even choke.

Callie fell through the water and hit a solid, freezing cold floor with the force of a two-story drop. Her lungs paralyzed from the impact and she rolled onto her back, eyes widening. Above her, floating as though suspended by magic, was the pond. She could make out the bottom, clogged with weeds. Sand swirled around the spot she’d fallen through, hitting an invisible barrier and bouncing back. Humid, floral scented air rushed into her lungs and she sat up, surprised to find her clothes and hair dry.

Heart hammering, she dragged herself to her feet and rubbed the sore spots on her elbows. The fear of suffocation faded, replaced with curiosity and the unmistakable relief of escaping Nate.

Pale light filtered through the pond and cast dancing beams onto the walls. The only other illumination came from small rocks that lined the floor. There was a word for that in the back of her mind—bioluminescent. Dark stone walls dripped with humidity. In the distance, water gurgled. Bright flowers in blues, purples, and pinks hung from vines, their heavy heads as large as dinner plates, bowed to the ground.

It was like something from a painting, too beautiful to be real.

“We have stairs you know,” a male voice said.

Callie whirled to find two guys.

They were as alike as they were different, around her age or a little older. They held an identical posture as they stood staring at her, arms crossed over their chests, legs wide, feet bare and dirty. There was a lightness about them and Callie imagined they could move very fast if they wanted. The taller one had wavy, jet black hair that hung to his shoulders, and intense, light blue eyes. His lips twisted into a smirk. The second boy was shorter than the first, very pale, with green eyes and ginger hair that bordered on strawberry blond. His features were small and fine, pretty for a boy; and he smiled, amused.

“What message have you brought us?” the dark-haired boy asked, smirk turning into a grimace.

Callie stared, wondering if she’d hit her head and this was just a wacky, concussion-induced vision. The boy’s eyes narrowed. She looked up; the pond was still there, swirling with absolute benevolence. She searched for an exit. Stone walls. Stone floor. The pond. The three of them with no doors. A new fear fizzled in her stomach.

“I don’t—” she started, voice breathy and uncertain. Her gaze returned to the pond. “How?”

The dark haired boy snorted, drawing her gaze. “This is the antechamber; you know your charms are stripped here.”

“Don’t be rude,” the redhead spoke up. He took a step forward, holding his forearm out. “I’m Ash,” he nodded his head towards the other boy, “this is Rowan.”

“How—did I just…how did I get here?” Despite falling through the pond, Callie’s mouth was dry. She stared at his offered arm, confused. Where did he intend to escort her? “Did you fall through too? Are we trapped?”

The dark-haired one, Rowan, took a step closer, a curious expression on his face. “She doesn’t know,” he said, fascinated, glancing at Ash. “She has no idea.”

Ash looked between Rowan and Callie, his face a question mark. “That’s not possible.”

“It is,” Rowan insisted. He pushed the ends of Callie’s sweaty hair off of her chest, and she was too frozen with terror to stop him. “Look,” he pointed to her pale skin, “she doesn’t have an imprint.” Rowan glowered furiously at Callie, as though she had any idea what he meant.

She glanced down at the purple tank top she wore. Loose strands of hair clung to her skin. She backed away, gasping when her shoulders hit the warm foliage that covered the walls. “What is going on?” She gestured to the ceiling. “I just fell through…” Callie cleared her throat, voice hoarse and high with borderline hysteria. “I just fell through the pond.” She shook her arms. “I’m not even wet.” When Ash didn’t answer, she turned to Rowan. “Please. What’s going on?”

Ash glanced at Rowan, incredulous, ignoring Callie. “You don’t have an imprint yet.”

Rowan’s dark eyebrows lowered. “Like I could forget. So nice of you to remind me.” He shook his head and jabbed his finger at Callie again. “Look at her, Ash. She could be related to Sapphire’s line. Look at her eyes. They’re the same blue.” He took another step closer, which she reciprocated by pressing her spine into the wall.

“I think you’re freaking her out,” Ash said.

Callie lifted her chin in a last-ditch effort not to cry. She was trapped. Her hands curled into stubborn fists. “How did I fall through there?” Something moved in the pond now, something big and solid, wearing a red t-shirt—the guy who’d caused her to plunge into the water.

“Hey!” She waved her arms and followed him from one end of the pond to the other on shaky legs. “I’m right here. Hey!” Panic bubbled in Callie’s chest as she watched his head whip from side to side, looking for her.

“Hey!” Rowan said, raising his voice to match hers.

“I’m here.” She flailed her arms around some more. The guy kicked his feet, traveling from one end of the small pond to the other. Tears leaked onto Callie’s cheeks.

She wiped them away. “Why can’t you hear me?”

“Knock that off.” Rowan batted her arms down. “He’s not gonna answer. What’s your name, anyway?”

“Rowan!” Ash admonished.

They’d cornered her against a wall and stood before her, expressions perplexed. She’d have to get through both of them if she wanted to run. If she could evade them in a room with no doors. Think, she ordered herself.

“It’s Cal—” she started to answer, searching over their shoulders for a way out. The panic in her chest was rising, an ocean constricted to a jar. She would burst under the pressure.

Ash covered her mouth with his hand. “Shh!”

She tried to bite his palm. His hand tasted sweet, floral.

Ash pulled away and grinned. “You don’t need to tell us your name,” he said, wiping his hand on his pants. “You can’t just ask people that, Row. You know better.”

“She’s not really one of us,” Rowan said.

“She came through the ward. She is.”

“I am what?” Callie asked, realizing the only way out was to be the way she came in—the pond. But how was she supposed to get herself back up through it? Even if she jumped, her fingertips would be several feet away from the water. It would have to work. Maybe she could climb on one of their shoulders. She eyed the taller one.

“Maybe we should take her to Hazel. She’ll know what to do,” Rowan said.

“That’s probably a good idea,” Ash hesitated, “but…”

“But what?” Irritation tinged Rowan’s words. “You want to keep her trapped here as a plaything?”

“No. You’re right.” Ash held out his arm again. “Come along then.”

Callie didn’t move. Did he think she would go with them without a fight? Above her, the guy had climbed out of the pond. He’d probably already given up on finding her. What would they tell her foster family? She fell into the pond and just disappeared. I swear.

Typical.

“Clearly there’s been some kind of misunderstanding,” Callie said, forcing her voice to remain reasonable. “I just need to get back up there, and we can forget this ever happened.” She nodded. She’d read somewhere that nodding helped convince people to agree with you.

Rowan sighed. “You can come on your own, or we can force you. I’m trained in torture techniques that make ax murderers cringe.”

“You don’t have to be dramatic,” Ash said. He pushed his arm closer to Callie, insistent, it nearly touched her nose. “Once Hazel sees you, we can figure out what you’re doing here and get you on your way.” He waited. “Come on. Don’t be rude.”

Callie didn’t get it and she didn’t like it—she’d somehow fallen through water and remained dry. These two guys were weird. She especially didn’t like that the guy had left her for dead in the pond.

Ass.

She lifted her arms to shove the guys away and make a run for it—to where, she didn’t know—but Rowan caught her wrists.

“Don’t bother. Ash—get the rope.”

Callie couldn’t tell if he was joking. Fear stabbed at her throat.

“For the love—. Row, shut up.” Ash tried to pry Rowan’s hands off, but he held tight.

“Let me go.” Callie jabbed her elbow at his face and missed by a lot. Being a foster for most of her life had given her street smarts, but Callie didn’t know the first thing about fighting, unless she counted evading Nate’s advances, which she didn’t. Callie didn’t count on Nate for much. Rowan’s fingers tightened on the soft inside of her wrist and she flinched, not because it hurt, but because it tingled, as if it’d fallen asleep.

“Be nice,” Ash said, knocking Rowan’s hand away. “It’s okay.” He smiled and presented his arm again like a father waiting to accompany his daughter down the aisle.

The gesture made Callie slightly nauseous. She rubbed her wrist. Her fear gave way to annoyance. Maybe this Hazel person could get her back…up? She had to get out of this room. If there was one thing Callie couldn’t stand, it was being trapped, caged in like an animal, held down. She needed doors. She needed windows. She needed a sky above her.

“And I can’t leave until I meet Hazel?” she asked. Her instincts said to humor them until she could escape.

“You can’t leave,” Rowan said. “Ever.” A slow, irritating smile spread across his mouth.

“If you don’t shut up, I’m going to set you on fire,” Ash said, but he was smiling at the other boy. Maybe here, under the pond, setting people on fire was a normal thing to do.

“Hazel will help you,” Ash said to Callie. “Besides, it’s not like we can just throw you up through the pond.” He made a dismissive gesture as if it was a ridiculous notion.

“You can leave if you die,” Rowan said thoughtfully.

“Fire,” Ash reminded.

Rowan made a gesture that said lead the way.

“Fine,” Callie conceded, looping her arm through Ash’s, cringing once again at the strange sensation she got when they touched her. “Take me to Hazel.” Get me out of this room.

Ash beamed and pulled her toward the wall. Rowan trailed behind, muttering something about the “idiocy of mere mortals.”

“Wait,” she said as Ash tried to drag her into the stone, “that’s a rock wall.” The room had no exits, no doors, not even a hole large enough to crawl through.

Rowan snickered. “Well, of course it is.” He gave her a hard shove and she shut her eyes as her face careened toward the stone, knowing that she’d made a terrible mistake.

GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY – Fallen for Rock by Nicky Wells

Today on RMDB we have a hot guy with a guitar! Oh wait…that’s Fallen for Rock by Nicky Wells! I’ve only been in contact with Nicky for a couple of weeks, and let me tell you, she is chipper and a lot fun! Let’s get to the details of what’s behind that sexy, sexy cover.

Fallen for Rock by Nicky Wells

Available June 30, 2014

324 pages

Goodreads

Amazon

‘A thrilling and delicious story of love and self-discovery woven around a broken romance that will make you turn page after page and cheer to the end.’

Love, life, loyalties. Nothing stays the same when Emily gets drawn into the world of rock.

Glossy and sophisticated professional high-flyer Emily has no time for nonsense such as the rock music her ex-boyfriend Nate adored so much. Yet when she unexpectedly comes into possession of VIP tickets—access all areas—for new rock band phenomenon, MonX, she can’t resist the temptation.

The fateful gig turns into more than one night, and Emily finds herself strangely drawn to this new and unfamiliar glittery world. However, only weeks later, MonX and her own universe fall apart with devastating consequences for all. When MonX lead singer Mike appeals for her help, she reluctantly embraces a new opportunity. But she soon discovers that while she may be a rock chick after all, a groupie she is not… Or is she?

Just exactly where do her loyalties lie? And what direction will her life take now that she’s left behind everything she treasured?

Warning! Fallen For Rock contains some explicit content and strong language that may not be suitable for readers under eighteen years of age.

Fallen for Rock SWAG Giveaway!

To celebrate the launch of Fallen for Rock and to spread some joy, I’m giving away the following items:

One Large Signed Poster of “Fallen for Rock”
Three Sets of Signed “Fallen for Rock” Swag (Postcards and Bookmarks)
Three Sets of Signed “Fallen for Rock SWAG SPECIAL” including 2 bookmarks, 2 postcards and 2 guitar picks
Five Sets of Signed “Fallen for Rock” Guitar Picks (two picks per set)
One Set of “The Complete Nicky Wells Swag” (signed): Bookmarks and postcards for Sophie’s Turn, Sophie’s Run, Sophie’s Encore, Spirits of Christmas and Fallen for Rock
One Audio CD: Bon Jovi “Greatest Hits” (2010)
One Amazon Gift Certificate for £5/$7 or equivalent

ENTER HERE

The Small Print:
Giveaway is open internationally. Giveaway entrants must be aged 18 or over. Giveaway closes at midnight on 14 August 2014. Winners will be notified by email.

GUEST POST

Ten things you didn’t know about the rock star life — by Mike Loud

1) You’re never alone. Ever. Not even on the toilet. Once you make it big, there’s always someone lurking somewhere, quite possibly with a camera.

2) Rock stars work the most unsociable hours imaginable. When we’re recording, we’ll quite often start at two or three pm and then work through until four or five in the morning. No kidding. It’s intense!

3) Temptation is everywhere, in every sense of the word, in every way you can imagine. The biggest temptation of all is to think you’ve made it big, and to let go of reality. I call that falling ‘off the cliff.’ Sadly, it happened to my lead guitarist, and the band was never the same.

4) Contrary to popular belief, you don’t just get free upgrades to first class by airline staff, at least not anymore. I’ve tried.

5) However, you can be certain to walk into almost any restaurant and be given a table at a moment’s notice. That’s got something to be said for it if you can’t be bothered to cook and the label is picking up the tab!

6) The rock star life is actually pretty boring when we’re not touring or recording. They call it ‘resting’ but it drives me mad. I don’t do resting.

7) We do have to pay rent and/or mortgages. That’s why most of us live in fairly ‘normal’ places unless the millions are literally rolling in.

8) Self-doubt is an occupational hazard. Every song I write is ‘shite’ at some point. In fact, only the songs that don’t go through the ‘shite’ cycle turn out to be really crap. Sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder what my life wouldn’t have been easier if I’d stayed an architect. NOT!

9) We’re hell to live with. Ladies, if you have visions of living in blissful harmony with your resident rock star idol, think again. We’re notoriously bad-tempered in the morning. Actually, we’re notoriously bad-tempered in the afternoon too. We hate being interrupted when we’re working. Ask Emily, she’ll tell you a story or three. We’re not proud of the fact but… we can’t help it.

10) Being a rock star is like being a vicar. You don’t decide to be a rock star. It’s a calling and a vocation and an addiction. Once you know what you’ve got to do, you’re done for and there’s no way out. Bing a rock star totally rocks. Being on stage and seeing all of you cheer and clap and sing along gives me a high like nothing else. I’m totally addicted to it and wouldn’t do anything else, ever, not even in the darkest moments of point 8 above. It’s who I am and what I do.

About the Author

Nicky Wells: Romance that Rocks Your World!

Ultimate rock chick author Nicky Wells writes romance with rock stars—because there’s no better romantic hero than a golden-voiced bad boy with a secret soft heart and a magical stage presence!

Nicky’s books offer glitzy, glamorous romance with rock stars—imagine Bridget Jones ROCKS Notting Hill! If you’ve ever had a crush on any kind of celebrity, you’ll connect with Nicky’s heroes and their leading ladies.

Born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993 and currently lives in Lincoln with her husband and their two boys. Nicky loves listening to rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters. When she’s not writing, she’s a wife, mother, occasional knitter, and regular contributor at Siren 107.3 FM with her own monthly show. Rock on!

Nicky’s books: Sophie’s Turn | Sophie’s Run | Sophie’s Encore | Spirits of Christmas

Join Nicky:Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Romantic Novelists’ Association |Sapphire Star Publishing | Amazon | Goodreads| Pinterest

Did you know? There’s a single out now by Nicky’s fictional rock band Tuscq come to life! “Love Me Better” is available for download from Amazon, iTunes and many other places.

 

INTERVIEW AND GUEST POST – June Hyjek Author of Unexpected Grace

Unexpected Grace: A Discovery of Healing through Surrender by June Hyjek

Available from New Shelves Publishing Services

240 pages

Goodreads

Amazon

A journey to find physical, emotional and spiritual healing, Unexpected Grace will inspire you to discover the courage to handle life-changing challenges with ease and grace. Facing illness and disability, as well as the loss of dreams and expectations, each phase of the journey unfolds, bringing new truths, lessons and perspectives. True acceptance, center and balance are revealed through ultimate surrender and a strong connection to loving, supportive friends. And at the end of the journey, we come – quite unexpectedly – to a place of grace.

GUEST POST by June Hyjek

FEAR OR TRUST. YOU CHOOSE.

Many things have happened lately to make me fearful of others and of life itself. My world seems to be filled with people who hold unfounded, grudges that baffle me and choose to say vindictive things for no other reason than spite. We’ve had deaths and serious illnesses, difficult medical prognoses. Family members whose actions are more about greed than family values. Job losses and insecurity. It’s been difficult to hold on to the trust and acceptance that got me through past challenges. I see fear peeking out of every corner, tugging at me, knocking on the door, enticing me to believe that the world is full of anger, resentment, greed and struggles. Fear is ready to haunt me, settle into my stomach and my bones. In fact, I can already feel it in my body, aching and throbbing.

We all have these times. Life is a string of good things and bad things. But we tend to notice the bad things more because discomfort gets our attention more than comfort, and when fear and anger take us over, we are definitely uncomfortable. It takes an effort to reject the fear, to refuse to believe that negativity in the world is the norm. The option of being fearful is always there, sitting on the sidelines, waiting. But it is always our choice to focus instead on the love and support we have. It takes work to seek out and surround ourselves with this support. It is a choice to believe and have trust in the goodness that exists in our everyday world.

So in the middle of these challenges, I look outside at the beauty of the budding spring. And I am grateful. I revel in the comfort of my home. And I am grateful. I hear music in the air, and feel the softness of the breeze. And I am grateful. I hear the words of my friends in support. And I am grateful. I see their eyes filled with love and kindness. And I am grateful. I feel the love and protection in my husband’s embrace. And I am grateful.

And with all this love I experience, this comfort and beauty that surrounds me, this life filled with gratitude, how can I possibly let fear fill my body and control me? How can I not trust and believe that all these challenges are temporary and don’t make up the substance of my life? Fear may be close by, but I can choose not to let it come any closer. I can choose to live in abundance, trust and faith. I can choose to believe.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

As a MindBody Coach, Certified Hypnotherapist, Meditation Teacher and Reiki Master, June Hyjek offers extensive experience in pain and stress management, working with clients to help them move through life’s transitions with grace and peace. Her practice emphasizes techniques that work to create physical, emotional and spiritual fitness. June is a graduate of the Advanced Training Program at the Center for MindBody Medicine, with a focus on mindbody therapies for pain and stress. In addition to her training at the Center, she is a Certified Hypnotherapist with the American Alliance of Hypnotists. June has also studied and continues to practice a wide variety of meditation techniques, including mindfulness, transcendental, Chi Kung, chanting and mantras, as well as many Buddhist and Hindu practices. Personally, June has struggled with the debilitating condition of Scoliosis for more than half her life. She has overcome the pain and emotional issues from six surgeries, finding healing through mindbody approaches and the loving support of others. As a motivational speaker, she uses her personal experience and her expertise to share her insights on handling emotional and physical pain with grace.

http://www.junehyjek.com

http://AAandPG.org

INTERVIEW with June Hyjek

1. Think back to high school. Were you good at English?

Yes, I’ve always loved reading and loved my English classes. In fact, I doubled up and took six years of English in high school, and was exempted from Freshmen English in college. My Dad had a unique philosophy about education. He would say the world revolves around Science, Math and English. Science will teach you to be curious about the world around you. Math will teach you to reason logically and solve problems. But it was all useless if you couldn’t communicate it.

2. Which writers inspire you?

I’m not sure there’s a writer that inspires me, although I am a huge fan of Rowling’s Harry Potter Series. (The imagination and incredible detail in this entire world she created is amazing!) But there are two individuals whose work inspires me, and they are also authors. Dr. James Gordon (Manifesto for a New Medicine) and Dr. Bernie Siegel (Love, Medicine and Miracles, and Faith, Hope and Healing) work tirelessly to bring holistic concepts and practices into today’s health care and offer a compassionate approach to medicine. I was fortunate to have Dr. Siegel endorse my book, Unexpected Grace: A Discovery of Healing through Surrender.

3. So. . .what have you written?

I’ve been writing my entire life, starting with some pretty embarrassing poems and journals in grade school! I then spent about 25 years in corporate news services and marketing, and my days were filled with writing news briefs, newsletter articles, marketing plans, business plans and promotional material. Through it all, though, I continued to dabble with writing, and eventually wrote for Examiner.com as the Hartford Holistic Health Editor. But I never really considered writing a book until I became “medically retired” after complications from a total of seven spine surgeries. (I think “medically retired” sounds better than disabled, don’t you?!!!) My book, Unexpected Grace: A Discovery of Healing through Surrender, came out of that experience and shares the journey of my recovery. The book is sold at many local bookstores and mindbody retailers, and is also readily available online in a number of sites, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Shelfari, The Google Store and more.
4. What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Right now, my main focus is on promoting Unexpected Grace. I am also one of the founding officers of a new organization, the American Authors & Publishers Guild, so much of my efforts have been on helping my fellow authors to be successful. At some point in the not-so-distant future, I would like to publish another book, and I have a number concepts and outlines I’ve been working on and considering. But, today, what’s most important to me is sharing the story of Unexpected Grace, along with maintaining my health and being present for my family and clients.

5. Who is your main character? What makes him/her so special?

That’s a tough one because my main character is me! I would say what makes the BOOK so special is the honesty, openness and humor with which I share the story. Vanity and ego went out the window! Since much of it was actually written while I was going through the experience, the reader goes through my journey with me, and makes each discovery and learns each lesson along with me.

6. What genre do you write and what draws you to it?

I’m definitely a non-fiction writer. I like sharing experiences (mine or others) that have meaning, and every-day observations and lessons. I believe there is real value in sharing our stores – for the reader and the author. I learned a long time ago that I wasn’t that good with writing dialogue, and if I wrote a children’s book, the characters would probably sound like adults!

7. Do you outline or fly by the seat of your pants? Any horror stores related to the other way?

I do both, and yes, there have been rewrites and trash can fillers from both methods. I choose the process that best suits where I am in the story and how I’m feeling. But I think my best writing comes from flashes of creative inspiration when the story just comes out – often at 3:00 in the morning!

8. How have you evolved as a writer? Compare yourself to when you wrote that first page and now.

Over the years, my writing went from business-speak to people-speak. Now, I write more conversationally. If you read my book, you’ll be able to see my “evolution,” both as a writer and a person, from the time I wrote that first page. The biggest difference, though, is probably in acceptance and confidence. I’m less judgmental about my writing or myself. I feel more comfortable and accepting about the process and less attached to the outcome. Sometimes, you just have to surrender to the words and let them lead you.
9. What is the easiest thing about writing?

Back in my former corporate life, I was the editor of the company’s newsletter. One morning, after laboring over the latest edition, I went into my boss’ office to give it to him for his approval. I plunked the copy down on his desk, stood there in my most defiant stance with my arms folded, and asked him, “Does anyone LIKE to write???” At the time, I didn’t think anything about writing was easy! My boss said to me, “No. We just decide the end result is worth the effort.” I never really understood that until Unexpected Grace came out. It was definitely worth the effort! And, the writing is the easy part; it’s the work after the book is published that’s hard!

10. Do you read ebooks or are you a traditional paperback/hardback reader?

I read both. I still love the feel of an actual book, turning the page, the smell of the paper, and will generally buy the physical book if I am planning on keeping it – some sort of reference, a classic, something I might re-read, or a signed copy. But my tablet definitely comes in handy while traveling, or if I need the book quickly, or if it’s just a fun book I probably won’t re-read.

The day I broke down and got an e-reader was the day I got back from a business trip during which I had lugged the hard-cover, newly-released, 900-page Order of the Phoenix (JK Rowling) half way across the country and back!

11. What books are you reading right now?

I always have stacks of books to read – both in my tablet and on my end tables – and I’m usually reading several at a time. I also try to read as many books as possible from authors I personally know. I just finished a book by Fred Swan, Parentheses, and have started The Art of Being Rebekkah by Karoline Barrett. Under the Skin by Nick Hahn is on deck.

12. Who designed your book cover?

My cover was created by 1106 Design, which is owned by Michele DeFelippo. 1106 designed the layout, as well, and really handled the entire project for me. The staff was outstanding, and walked me carefully through each step of the process and guided me with each decision!

13. How important is it to judge a book by its cover?

Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life in the book business. I’m sure there are plenty of great stories that never get read because the reader wasn’t attracted to the cover. If a present is wrapped beautifully, we tend to believe it has more value. With so many books now in the market, a fantastic cover can give you a real advantage. I also look at it this way. . . if you’re really proud of and believe in your story and your writing, then doesn’t it deserve the effort of creating a beautiful package?

14. How do you feel about good/bad reviews?

Since my book is so personal, the potential for bad reviews was something I had to come to terms with before I decided to get it published. With so much of me on every page, I was concerned about taking it personally. Of course, good reviews bring a sigh of relief and a big smile. Bad reviews give me knots in my stomach, but I try to take what I can from them to do better next time.

15. What phrase or quote motivates you?

There are lots of them, and I generally post one each week on my website (www.junehyjek.com). One of my favorites is by Abraham Lincoln, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

16. At what moment did you finally consider yourself a writer?

I was an advertising major in college, but my advisor kept pushing me into public relations classes and internships. When I questioned it, she told me it was because I was a good writer. It was then I realized I could really write. But it wasn’t until I made the decision to get my story published that I began to consider myself an Author, not just a writer. The first time my husband introduced me as his “author wife” was the moment it became real – and what an incredible moment!

17. Is there an underlying message in your story?

My key message in Unexpected Grace is the concept that surrender can bring incredible healing. Surrender doesn’t mean giving in or giving up or giving my power over to anyone. These are negative concepts. It’s about letting go – letting go of the negative emotions of fear and anger about whatever challenge you’re facing. Letting go of the ego, getting out of your own way. It’s about coming to terms with your situation and allowing yourself to be okay with being vulnerable. Okay with reaching out, okay with asking for help, trusting that others will be there to support you. And when you do that, you create a connection. It’s like that teambuilding exercise in which you’re asked to fall backwards blindly, trusting that the person behind you will be there to catch you. You surrender, you let go. With practice, it becomes easier. Learning how to surrender, trust and connect was the source of my healing, and I believe this same perspective will help others to do so as well.
18. What books have most influenced your life?

Several books have inspired me – Le Petit Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery), Siddhartha (Hermann Hesse), Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand), Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (Shunryu Suzuki) and The Laws of Spirit (Dan Millman). We’ve probably all read the first three in school, but if it’s been a while, I would encourage everyone to read these books as an adult. It’s a completely different experience! These books guided me to examine my perspectives and beliefs, and were part of my personal growth. (Read Le Petit Prince in French, if you can. While the translation is also wonderful with the same insights and messages, you lose a little of the beauty of the prose in the English version.)

19. What is your current project? And can you share a little of it with us?

I haven’t had much time to write these days, but I do have a couple projects I’m working on slowly. One is a cookbook that will focus on foods that reduce pain and stress, providing recipes on how to incorporate those foods into your daily menu. The other project is the story of how my family evolved and coped (or didn’t cope) with the tragic death of my younger brother when he was just seven years old. Sometimes families learn to be a family again; sometimes they don’t. With my brother’s story, I’d like to explore what happens and what we can take away from the experience.

20. What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Writing is a tool to communicate a message – like speaking, music, art, film. And communication is all about getting your audience to hear your message. The best advice I ever got was that, before writing a single word, know what that message is and who your audience is. Then communicate to that audience in the way in which they like. Write like your audience likes to listen. Write to them as you would talk to them, in a format that would appeal to them. If you can’t get the people into your church, they will never hear your sermon. If you can’t get your readers to open your book, and if your writing style doesn’t resonate with them, they will never hear your message.

21. Do you find inspiration organically or do you seek it out?

Both. Ideas just come to me – conversations with friends, observations and experiences, dreams – and I try to let go (surrender), get out of my own way, and let the creativity flow. These ideas come easiest when I am most present and mindful with friends and as I go through my daily activities. I also use meditation to bring out that inspiration and fine tune it. When the body is relaxed, the mind can be still, open and clear, ready to receive inspiration and creativity.
22. What is your biggest writing weakness and biggest writing strength?

I don’t enjoy being a production writer. I have trouble writing if I don’t have anything to say and prefer to write when it can be meaningful. Some of the best feedback I’ve gotten about my writing is that the reader feels as though I’m sitting right next to them, telling them the story. I believe my strength is in that ability to connect to my readers and make them feel comfortable with me and my story. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

23. What emotions/ideas/purpose do you hope readers will take away from your writing?

Hope and comfort. Unexpected Grace isn’t self-help or preachy. It simply shares my story in a way that allows the reader to apply the words and the messages to their own story. It offers hope and the possibility that they, too, can find the source of their healing – that place of deep comfort, acceptance and peace. A place of unexpected grace.

24. What is the hardest thing about finishing a piece and how do you overcome it?

I think most authors are closet perfectionists. Well, maybe we’re the only ones who think we’re hiding it! We struggle with getting it absolutely right. In my first “real” job out of college, I did research for speech writers in a major corporation. One of the writers had a framed quote on his wall which read, “The greatest desire among mankind is the need to change another one’s copy.” Desire was crossed out and changed to wish. Mankind was crossed out and changed to people, which was then crossed out and changed to writers and then back to mankind. You get the idea! Not only do we as authors feel the need to edit others, we also over-edit ourselves in the struggle for perfection.

Yes, I want my writing to be great. But I also understand that perfection in writing is much too subjective to be a viable goal. To one person, “mankind” was perfect. To another, “people” was better. So I don’t get worked up about that desire (I mean wish) to change my copy. When I’ve got a piece the way I think I want it, I read it out loud. I listen as my audience, not as the writer. If it flows well in speech, if I like how it sounds and the message comes through, I’m happy. I realize that it’s not about creating some idealistic, subjective notion of perfection. It’s about communicating my message, my story, in the best possible way that will reach my audience.
25. Why should someone read your work?

In the Prologue of Unexpected Grace, I say “I believe that in the act of simply sharing our stories (both telling and listening), we can somehow reduce the pain in each of our lives, resting in the knowledge that we are completely and utterly supported in this world – and that gives us the courage to find our center, where we can accept and surrender to that peace.”

If you want to find a different perspective on dealing with life’s challenges, if you are looking for a way to move through your pains and stresses, if you want to know that you are not alone in your challenges, if you want to see that it’s possible to live in peace and grace – you should read this book.

26. What do you do OTHER than write?

Unfortunately, being “medically retired” means I have to take the time for self-care, and maintaining my health and functionality is important to me. I also try to spend as much time as I can with my father-in-law who is 92 and in a nursing home. He has been a source of inspiration and growth for me as well. And, as a Founding Officer of AAPG, I spend time running the organization and producing events and programs.

My practice outside of writing is my work as a MindBody Wellness Coach. Prior to my “retirement,” I combined this practice with work as a Personal Trainer, specializing in spinal stabilization, orthopedic disabilities and chronic diseases. Although no longer able to do fitness training, I have retained the mindbody portion of my practice, offering workshops, motivational speaking and private sessions. Combining mindbody techniques, energy therapies and traditional fitness concepts, I help my clients create physical and emotional healing as they move through the pains and stresses of life’s challenges. My own experience has truly helped to enhance my work with my clients!

27. If you could do it over again, would you change anything in your book?

Unexpected Grace is a conversation with my friends that took place through email over the course of my year-long recovery from the surgeries. It includes the actual letters I wrote to my friends at that time, their responses to me, and narrative that connects the experience to the present time of writing the book. In this way, it offers a perspective from three voices – the honesty of mine as I go through the actual experience, the “wisdom” of mine in hindsight, and the comfort, insights and support of the more than 40 friends who participated in the conversation. If I rewrote the book, I would include fewer of my friends’ responses – not because they aren’t important, but because feedback indicated there were too many of them and they distracted the reader from the messages. That said, as readers got further into the book, they also indicated they began to understand the importance of those responses and looked forward to seeing the interaction and what my friends would say about my latest letter. So, I would probably include fewer responses, particularly in the beginning, but I would still be careful not to diminish that third voice that communicates so much love and support.

28. Who are your favorite NEW authors?

I really enjoy reading books by my fellow authors in AAPG or those I know from other groups. As I mentioned earlier, Fred Swan’s book, Parentheses, is incredible and I am thoroughly enjoying Karoline Barrett’s The Art of Being Rebekkah. Chuck Miceli’s Amanda’s Room is a paranormal thriller that kept me on edge and increased my electric bill! (I had to keep the lights on in the house for three days!) Catherine Gibson has beautiful children’s books that deliver messages about acceptance, kindness and compassion (Through Sophie’s Eyes, Sophie Learns Synchronized Swimming, and Coach Bob & Me). And there are so many more talented authors in our group who deserve to be recognized and their stories told!

29. How did you come up with your title?

I had the help of a title consultant for Unexpected Grace. A few years before the book was published, I had produced a guided meditation CD, which I titled Moving into Grace, The meditations on the CD use the imagery of gentle movement to bring the listener to a place of release, comfort and peace. The title consultant did not know about the CD, so when she came up with Unexpected Grace, continuing this concept of grace, I just knew it was right!

30. Give us three words to describe the type of writer you want to be.

Honest. Inspiring. Connected.

 

PROMO – The Watcher by Lisa Voisin ebook 99cents

Today The Watcher by Lisa Voisin goes on sale! Just 99cents for the ebook. Get all the details for this YA Romance below!

The Watcher by Lisa Voisin

556 pages

Available from Inkspell Publishing

Goodreads

Amazon

Millennia ago, he fell from heaven for her. Can he face her without falling again?

Fascinated with ancient civilizations, seventeen-year-old Mia Crawford dreams of becoming an archaeologist. She also
dreams of wings–soft and silent like snow–and somebody trying to steal them.

When a horrible creature appears out of thin air and attacks her,
she knows Michael Fontaine is involved, though he claims to know nothing about it. Secretive and aloof, Michael evokes feelings in Mia that she doesn’t understand. Images of another time and place haunt her. She recognizes them—but not from any textbook.

In search of the truth, Mia discovers a past life of forbidden love, jealousy and revenge that tore an angel from Heaven and sent her to an early grave. Now that her soul has returned, does she
have a chance at loving that angel again? Or will an age-old nemesis destroy them both?

Ancient history is only the beginning.

Praise for The Watcher:

Voisin’s story builds in strength, easing readers into Mia’s first encounter with another realm and drawing them on, inescapably, to the shocking discovery at the novel’s heart. Inventive, romantic, and filled with tension, this is a great start to an intriguing series. –A.M. Dellamonica, author of INDIGO SPRINGS and BLUE MAGIC.—winner of the Sunburst Award for Indigo Springs.

“Perfect for fans of angels and demons, Lisa Voisin has created an uplifting tale of redemption, love, and spirituality that gives hope. Never preachy, The Watcher is the perfect answer to critics who claim Young Adult literature is too dark.”–Stephanie Lawton, author of Want and Shrapnel

“Voisin’s THE WATCHER blends paranormal mystery and romance into a book that is sure to keep readers turning the pages late into the night.”–Eileen Cook, author of THE ALMOST TRUTH

“Filled with forbidden love and a war between good and evil. If you are a fan of the Twilight Saga and The Mortal Instrument series, you will love this book.”–Selena Lost in Thought

“This book was amazing and grabbed me from the very first chapter.”–Angie Stanton-Johnson at Twinsie Talk Book Reviews

“[A] deliciously captivating story, that definitely earned FIVE STARS! “–Iris, from Booksessions

REVIEW – The Art of Being Rebekkah by Karoline Barrett

The Art of Being Rebekkah by Karoline Barrett

424 Pages

Genre: Women’s fiction

AMAZON PAPERBACK

AMAZON KINDLE

B&N NOOK

KOBO

When talented Jewish artist, Rebekkah Gelles finds out her husband has a frightening dark side, she wants out of her marriage; but her life gets complicated when she moves back to her parents’ home in Park Slope, Brooklyn and falls for the charming Italian detective who’s investigating her estranged husband. Convinced he’s all wrong for her—he’s not Jewish for one thing—Rebekkah struggles with love, faith, family, and a surprise pregnancy.

Read RMDB’s interview with the author HERE.

My Review-

The Art of Being Rebekkah

I initially agreed to review The Art of Being Rebekkah (Thanks to the author and her publicist for snagging me a copy!) because the storyline revolved around a strongly religious Jewish girl. Anytime that I can learn about religion in a story setting, I usually snap up a book. Fortunately, The Art delivered a heavy dose of Jewish culture beside a wonderful story line.

There was something special about this book that kept me turning the pages. I think it was the anticipation that something terrible was going to happen.

Rebekkah begins the book married to Avram, who is the owner of a funeral home business. He’s a stifling sort of husband. Always lavishing Rebekkah with gifts and money and things she doesn’t want, everything except for the one thing she truly wants: a child. As the story unfolds, Avram becomes more and more unstable. He’s jealous. He’s possessive, and eventually, he’s abusive. Rebekkah finds out their marriage—and her life—is based on a lie.

When the art gallery where Rebekkah shows her work is vandalized and only Rebekkah’s art is stolen, she knows who’s done it. Avram. And that’s not all he’s done. He’s been funding their elaborate lifestyle with money he’s embezzled from his business.

As Rebekkah’s life unravels before he eyes, she meets Detective Rossi, who is investigating the art gallery break in. Nick is unlike anyone Rebekkah has ever met. He’s sweet and patient and kind…and not Jewish. While Rebekkah fully intends to divorce Avram, what is the point of dating someone she could never marry?

Have a mentioned that I’m having a hard time reviewing this book? There is just so much going on and I feel like I’m leaving all kinds of important things out. I think maybe that was one of the downsides of this book. The story was so jammed that there was no room to breathe. While things connected well, there were too many characters, and at times, I couldn’t remember who the people were.

What I really liked was Rebekkah. She was strong and assertive without coming off as bitchy. She was also loyal, even when people had faults. I liked that she didn’t immediately jump into a relationship with the “hot police officer hero”. I would’ve respected her less. She was very dedicated to her religion and staying true to what she believed in. With that being said, while this book IS about religion, it’s also not. I think that I learned a lot about the Jewish community, but it never came off as preachy, not even when Catholicism and Christianity were brought up. The book was very respectful to Rebekkah’s beliefs and religion in general. More than religion, The Art was about figuring out who you are, and what you’re willing to give up to have the life you’ve always wanted. While I was frustrated by Rebekkah’s stubbornness at times, I also appreciated that she truly understood who she was as a person and wasn’t willing to compromise that for a man.

I did enjoy this book. Like I said earlier, it was special. The writing was smooth, not distracting, making it the kind of book where the words disappear and all you see is the story.

I’d recommend it to people who like clean books. The romance was tactfully done and the book covered A LOT of ground in the space of 400 pages.

4 STARS