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Procrastination is NOT Your Friend by RJ Blain @RJ_Blain #writetip #fantasy #amwriting

I think deadlines are the one thing every adult alive has in common with each other. At some point or another, we have to deal with them. Some of us embrace our deadlines. Others run away, find a corner, and curl into a little ball, weeping at its approach, all the while fearing the consequences of missing it. Some of us sit off to the side, watching it zip by our heads, joining the pile of other missed deadlines, numb to the fact that yet another one has flown by.
I deal with deadlines on a daily basis. When I’m not novel writing, I work as a freelance developmental editor. My clients expect me to get my work done so they can get their work done. Sometimes, all I want to do is run away from an encroaching deadline and weep. Most of the time, I stare it in the eye and face it with all of the determination I can muster. And yes, there are times I watch it zip by my head and shrug it off because there was just nothing I could do about it.
So, how do I deal with deadlines and stay sane? There are days where I’m convinced I don’t deal with them and stay sane. The simple truth is that once a deadline approaches, I have to sometimes go to extreme measures to get it done. Sanity is optional. So is sleep. Sometimes, so is eating. When it takes a certain amount of time to get things done, that amount of time isn’t going to change just because the deadline approaches.
Procrastination is not your friend.
The first tip to succeeding at deadlines is to learn not to procrastinate. It won’t help you. Spending an hour a day on a project is much easier than trying to cram 20 hours of work in a 24 hour day. I’ve done days like that, and they’re hard. They hurt. They can often be avoided. If I goof off instead of work, I only have myself to blame when the deadline comes up and I’m running out of precious time.
Procrastination is a habit, and it is one that can be beaten. But, if you have to procrastinate, do things that are useful. You aren’t writing? Clean your house. Don’t want to clean your house? Well, consider writing instead. I’ve beaten many a deadline by procrastinating on other projects. It’s a vicious circle of productivity if you learn to harness procrastination as a benefit instead of a disadvantage.
Plan your Time
Planning your time is a great way to avoid the worst of the edge of a deadline. The longer the deadline, the more the buffer you should give yourself. If you have a project you anticipate taking you three months, plan your time to finish three weeks early. That should give you enough time to address any of the problems and hiccups that will happen in a project of that scale.
I recommend a week of buffer time for every month of time you’re investing in a project. Then, if you need a day off, you can take one.
Understand your Limitations 
We all have limitations. Some of us can’t work more than an hour or two on a project at a time. Some of us like working one long day a week on a project. Understand how you work best, and understand your limitations. That way, when you’re planning your time and estimating the project, you can be realistic about how you’ll accomplish it.
Rise to the Challenge
When you go into a project, have the attitude of being challenged. Have an attitude that lets you strive to do better and reach your deadline. Have the attitude that you want to accomplish your goal. Some people say mind over matter is a cliché, but it really does make a huge difference. Your perception of your deadlines makes a big difference on your ability to accomplish your goals.
Have a Little Fun with it 
The last thing I’ll leave you with is the idea that accomplishing goals and meeting deadlines can be fun and rewarding. Find a friend who will challenge you. Find a friend who also has deadlines to cope with. Tie your deadlines to a small reward, be it a handcrafted present or a prized journal. Sure, it’s a reward system, but when you and your friends do it together, it’s a lot of fun, too.
One of my friends bribes me with a journal if I have a particularly crazy month full of deadlines. If I accomplish everything I need to do, I get a reward. There is that little extra of a reward at the end of it, which makes me work harder to get it done.
Have fun with your work whenever you can. It makes beating deadlines a lot easier.
Kalen’s throne is his saddle, his crown is the dirt on his brow, and his right to rule is sealed in the blood that stains his hand. Few know the truth about the one-armed Rift King, and he prefers it that way. When people get too close to him, they either betray him or die. The Rift he rules cares nothing for the weak. More often than not, even the strong fail to survive.
When he’s abducted, his disappearance threatens to destroy his home, his people, and start a hopeless and bloody war. There are many who desire his death, and few who hope for his survival. With peace in the Six Kingdoms quickly crumbling, it falls on him to try to stop the conflict swiftly taking the entire continent by storm.
But something even more terrifying than the machinations of men has returned to the lands: The skreed. They haven’t been seen for a thousand years, and even the true power of the Rift King might not be enough to save his people — and the world — from destruction.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Fantasy
Rating – PG - 13
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#Fantasy Author Joshua Silverman on Writing Fiction & Research @jg_silverman #writetip

One of the most overlooked areas of writing fiction is research. Most writers I’ve come across don’t think of themselves as “researchers”. They just want to tell the best story they can. And that’s admirable, but I believe that to make a story convincing it has to be realistic. To be realistic, it has to be researched. Here are some things that I’ve found in other people’s books which a simple internet search could have avoided.
  1. A man hears a shot from a gun then sees the victim fall. The author should have known most modern day ammunition travels twice the speed of sound so the action would have happened in reverse. The man would have fallen and then the witness would have heard the gunshot.
  2. If you’re writing about the military or soldiers, do not confuse military ranks. The US Army has no rank called “Admiral” and the Navy does not have “Generals.” It’s a five minute Google search to figure this one out.
  3. If you’re writing any type of historical fiction, you better do some serious research. Don’t say George Washington pulled out his iPhone to Google Map the road to Trenton if cell phones didn’t exist in the 1700’s!
  4. If you’re doing any type of setting or environment work. Don’t tell me about the earthquakes in Florida because Florida doesn’t have earthquakes, they have hurricanes. You should know the weather patterns of your environment, the produce, the politics, the immigration, you should know everything.
  5. Don’t write a book about robots and androids without researching cybernetics! Readers are smart, we’ll know.
  6. If you’re writing suspense/murder mystery then you should know a lot about police procedures and the legal system. Don’t tell me the CSI guys do the interviews like on one show I know but they don’t in real life.
  7. Don’t tell me your horse galloped 200 miles in a day. Your horse would be dead.
  8. If you’re writing a sci-fi novel about time travel, you better damn well research quantum physics and current time travel theories because it can get very confusing.
These are just some examples. But I want to stress balance. A writer can spend quite literally years in research if they want. At that time, it might be an exercise in procrastination rather than writing.
I believe in a one to one ratio. For every hour or writing, you probably needed to do an hour of research. Since the Emerald Tablet is based in Greek and Egyptian mythology and culture, I read over 20 non-fiction history books and spent countless hours trying to capture the feel of these ancient societies. Even so, it was easy for me to say “I need to do more research”. Even today, as I’m writing book 3, I’m still researching. Don’t go overboard but make it realistic and believable for your readers. They’ll appreciate it and get lost in the story.
The ancient powers lost to Potara have returned. The Brotherhood of the Black Rose rises to bring Thoth into disorder. And, while the Brotherhood reclaims their power, chaos reigns among the survivors. Six individuals have emerged from the aftermath struggling for control over their lives and a divided land. Kem and Shirin, who abolished the five thousand year reign of the Amun Priests, rule from the golden throne of the Oracle’s Chair in the Hall of the Nine. Dio and Axios struggle to piece together a resistance worthy to challenge the ancient magic which resides in the Great Temple of Amun, and Leoros and Atlantia try to remain true to their hearts and their cause despite tragedy.
But when the Book of Breathings is discovered, the path to immortality is revealed. Leoros and Kem race to capture the Soul of the World unaware of the challenges awaiting them. This time, the gods themselves will intervene.
In a tale where boys become men and girls become women, where treachery and deception are around every corner, and where primeval mysticism finds its way back from the grave, victory is reserved for neither the good nor the evil, but the powerful.
Buy Here
Genre – Science fiction, Fantasy
Rating – PG-13+
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10 Things You Didn't Know About #Thriller #Author Brian Bloom - Beyond Neanderthal

10 things you didn’t know about author, Brian Bloom
Brian Bloom grew up in a loving environment and with a fiercely independent streak that enabled him to straddle both sides of the financial divide (1% & 99%) with equal comfort. This gave him a balanced view of life and the courage as an author to say what needs to be said in his writing without his worrying unduly about “peer pressure” and/or “political correctness”.  The following 10 things are illustrative of his upbringing:
  1. When Brian was born his parents were dirt poor and when he was 1 the family moved into a tiny cottage at the bottom of his mother’s aunt’s garden. On good weather days his mother would put the +- 15 month old Brian on a blanket out in the fresh air, where he would play for hours. His only toy was a makeshift rattle made out of an old glass Vaseline jar that had an empty wooden cotton reel inside. He would make music, chanting “digga, digga , digga” in time to the rattle and, having not yet learned to walk, he would sway his little body rhythmically as if in mesmerised prayer. He was comfortable in his own company and in natural surroundings.
  2. At age 2, his mother taught him to say “many happy returns” in anticipation the arrival of his 8 year-old girl cousin who was to visit with a friend on her birthday. Brian flubbed the words, saying “many happily turns” and was mortified with shame when the two girls guffawed in merriment.  The positive side was it taught him empathy, and he has looked at the world from the other guy’s perspective ever since.
  3. At around 4, the family moved to their own home in a much poorer suburb than his great aunt’s. With curiosity and no sense of intimidation, he experimented with fire. The Fire Brigade had to be called out twice to douse the voracious blazes. He learned to fear consequences.
  4. When Brian was 5, his great aunt’s son – about 9 months older – came to play but went home much earlier than was expected. Angry and frustrated, Brian decided to walk to their home 20 kilometers away. He walked down the main thoroughfare in peak hour traffic, got lost towards the end, but was offered help by a kindly gentleman who gave him a lift. Brian arrived well after dark at his destination; tearless, unrepentant but anxious.  He was severely punished by his relieved, but even more anxious, parents. He learned to look ahead and differentiate between “smart” and “stupid” behaviour.
  5. At 8 he was effectively a latch-key kid. Both parents worked and the maid was preoccupied with daily chores. He roamed the immediate vicinity, largely unsupervised, and made friends with a couple of kid neighbours. One of these kids lived in a violent home where the mother was routinely beaten by her husband. Brian learned that observation and inoffensive participation were more important than ego and a competitive spirit in a no-win situation.
  6. Also to keep himself occupied, he would travel by tram to a local pool hall, paying the fare with school-bus coupons. He had been attracted by the raucous antics of a group of leather jacketed bikies who adopted him as a mascot because they took a shine to him. It transpired that Brian had a good eye for angles and distances and was able to pot the snooker balls even though he could barely reach over the table top.
  7. At around 10 or 11, he discovered that he also had great ball sense. He was chosen to represent his junior school at both soccer and cricket, and he played first team cricket and hockey at high school. This boosted his inner sense of self confidence and enabled him to socialise unselfconsciously with both peers and those in higher stations of life. But he was always a quiet child, partly because his parents had drummed good manners into him and partly because he had learned not to draw attention to himself when in any situation that might become unmanageably combative.
  8. Another reason he was quiet child was that he was a year younger than the average of his classmates. His parents wanted him to start school at the same time as his three boy cousins, all of whom were around 9 months older. When kids are 20% older than you they are typically much bigger than you. Brian learned that brains trumps muscles under those circumstances.
  9. He finished high school at 16 and had a B.Com Degree when he was 19, at which age he spent 3 months in the South African Air Force under conscription. The barracks had about 40 beds in it, with most occupied by the 99%. Brian blended in just fine and no one resented the fact that he was allowed/encouraged to play golf on week-ends by the CO.
  10. When he was still at school, the family moved to a small holding and was supplied fresh, unpasteurised milk from the cow next door. Brian was shocked when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. By a stroke of good fortune, his uncle (a doctor) had detected it in its very early stages. TB is usually a disease of the working classes or the unemployed, and there was no “private” treatment available.  At 21, Brian was admitted to a public ward in a public TB hospital where the patients were at various terminal stages of wheezing, coughing blood and/or drowning in their own mucus. Even though the other patients regarded the middle class young man as “Richie Rich”, they spoke to him with quiet dignity. Brian expected no preferential treatment from the nurses and the dying men with calloused hands respected him for that.
Beyond Neanderthal
There is an energy force in the world—known to the Ancients—that has largely escaped the interest of the modern day world. Why? There are allusions to this energy in the Chinese I-Ching, in the Hebrew Torah, in the Christian Bible, in the Hindu Sanskrit Ramayana and in the Muslim Holy Qur'an. Its force is strongest within the Earth's magnetic triangles.
Near one of these--the Bermuda Triangle--circumstances bring together four very different people. Patrick Gallagher is a mining engineer searching for a viable alternative to fossil fuels; Tara Geoffrey, an airline pilot on holidays in the Caribbean; Yehuda Rosenberg, a physicist preoccupied with ancient history; and Mehmet Kuhl, a minerals broker, a Sufi Muslim with an unusual past. Can they unravel the secrets of the Ancients that may also hold the answer to the future of civilization?
About the Author:
In 1987, Brian and his young family migrated from South Africa to Australia where he was employed in Citicorp’s Venture Capital division. He was expecting that Natural Gas would become the world’s next energy paradigm but, surprisingly, it was slow in coming. He then became conscious of the raw power of self-serving vested interests to trump what – from an ethical perspective – should have been society’s greater interests.
Eventually, in 2005, with encouragement from his long suffering wife, Denise, he decided to do something about what he was witnessing: Beyond Neanderthal was the result; The Last Finesse is the prequel.
The Last Finesse is Brian’s second factional novel. Both were written for the simultaneous entertainment and invigoration of the thinking element of society. It is a prequel to Beyond Neanderthal, which takes a visionary view of humanity’s future, provided we can sublimate our Neanderthal drive to entrench pecking orders in society. The Last Finesse is more “now” oriented. Together, these two books reflect a holistic, right brain/left brain view of the challenges faced by humanity; and how we might meet them. All our problems – including the mountain of debt that casts its shadow over the world’s wallowing economy – are soluble.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Thriller
Rating – MA (15+)
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#Author Lorhainne Eckhart Shares Her Thoughts on How #Autism Affects Families @LEckhart #AmReading

Can you imagine your child who you love more than your next breath—a child who doesn’t fit in with other children. Has meltdowns in public, doesn’t talk, plays alone doing the oddest repetitive movements. Makes odd squeaky noises over and over, and instead of playing appropriately when your friends or acquaintances come to visit, climbs all over the adults latching onto their legs and hoots like an elephant.
You can’t reason with your child, and he/or she doesn’t appear to understand. And you’re at a loss as to how to how to communicate with him.
Of course it’s frustrating, but so are obtaining services for your autistic child. And if you’ve persevered and were lucky enough to get your child diagnosed, and if you were connected with a parents group in your area with autistic children. Then you’ll have valuable information for resources that the highest percentages of parents with autistic children don’t have.
Ask yourself what this does to families? Did you know the divorce rate is upwards of 85%? Ever wonder why? Take a look at the community programs and parent groups, and what you’ll find is they’re mostly driven and led by mothers.
For most mothers their children’s welfare is in the forefront of their mind, along with caring for the needs of other siblings, balancing a job, paying the bills etc. And what happens is Dad checks out--emotionally, and in many cases he’s unable to get with the program.
Take a look at what Mom’s dealing with and you’ll understand maybe Dad’s feeling left out, helpless, emotionally cut off. But who’s the one beating every bush to find therapy for their child and resources? The highest percentage of the time it’s Mom. And what she doesn’t have time to do is hand hold, or make things easier for Dad. That’s not up to her. Frankly she’s exhausted and doing everything imaginable to keep her family together.
But let’s be fair. Do all men check out? No. In fact there are a few strong amazing men who have stepped up to the plate to advocate, pound on doors, and fight for help for their child. As well as a few strong men, who come together in harmony with their spouse to share the emotional strain that the early stages of autism takes on families.
Ever asked yourself why so many Dads of special needs children are not in the picture, or have any part of advocating for their child?
 Lorhainne Eckhart
How do you tell a man there is something wrong with his child?
This is by far one of the best books I have read. Lorhainne Eckhart proved herself yet again  by pulling you in with a heartfelt story and keeping your attention with the passion that fills   the pages. ROMANCE JUNKIES
A Real Tear Jerker: Omg, I loved this book. I stayed up all night trying to finish it. I cried,  My heart broke, I have an 18 year old with autism. This would make a fabulous movie...  Tammy
He wasn't looking to love again. But what he got was a woman who shook his lonely bitter world upside down, and touched him in a way no other woman could.
Emily Nelson, a courageous young mother, ends a loveless, bitter marriage and strikes out on her own. She answers an ad as a cook and live-in caregiver to a three-year-old boy on a local ranch. Ranch owner Brad Friessen hires and moves in Emily and her daughter. But Emily soon discovers something's seriously wrong with the boy, and the reclusive, difficult man who hired her can't see the behavior and how delayed his son is. So Emily researches until she stumbles across what she suspects are the soft signs of autism. Now she must tell him, give him hope, and help him come to terms with this neurological disorder--to take the necessary steps to get his child the help he needs.
As their lives become intertwined, their attraction is unavoidable--a connection sparks between them. But just as they're getting close, Brad's estranged wife, Crystal, returns after abandoning the family two years earlier. Among the shock and confusion is one disturbing question Brad can't shake: How does Crystal know so much of his personal business, the inner working of the ranch, and Emily's relationship with his son?
Crystal must've had a plan, as she somehow gains the upper hand, driving a wedge in the emotional bond forged between Brad, Emily, and the children. The primary focus for care and therapy of three-year-old Trevor is diverted. The lengths to which Crystal will go, the lies, the greed, just to keep what's hers, are nothing short of cold and calculating. Emily's forced out of the house. Brad fights to save his boy, to protect what's his, and struggles over his greatest sacrifice--Emily, and the haunting question: Has he lost her forever?
More Praise for THE FORGOTTEN CHILD...
"Brilliant, there is no other word for it, heart grabbing, heart warming, gut wrenching, well written well researched, wanted to read it over & over again." Amazon Reviewer – Maureen
BLACK RAVEN'S REVIEWS - Ms. Eckhart has crafted a delightful story with engaging  characters, enough drama for a Hallmark movie, and enough unconditional love to last a lifetime.  ~Rated 5 Ravens and a Recommended Read by AJ!~ 
READERS FAVORITE *5 Star Review A real page turner ~ fast moving plot ~ a must read!
Reviewed by Brenda C. For Readers Favorite
I didn't expect I'd fall for the four main characters as hard as I did, but The Forgotten Child is an amazing book, not just for a romance fan like myself, but for single parents who may or  may not have a child with autism. ~ Reviewer ~ Adria
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Contemporary Western Romance
Rating – PG
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#Romance #Excerpt #AmReading - Ever Hopeful by Lori Ryan

Laura watched the clock on the microwave and willed the phone to ring. Patrick would be home within the hour. If “John Smith” didn’t call soon, she’d… Well, she didn’t know what she’d do. If he called after six o’clock, she’d have to try to convince Patrick it was a wrong number.

He wouldn’t fall for that. Even genuine wrong numbers had gotten her into trouble before.

“Please,” she whispered aloud to the phone. “Just ring, please.”

The numbers on the microwave stared back at her, blank and unfeeling. Twelve minutes past five. The clock apparently didn’t care that time was running out, that she was cutting this much too close.

Forty-eight minutes left. Laura’s heart felt like it would jump out of her chest as she cradled her head in her hands. The phone rang causing Laura to jump a foot in the air at the sound. How was it that a sound she was waiting for—hoping for—sent her into a panic?

“Hello,” she said breathlessly into the phone.

“Mrs. Kensington?” came Smith’s voice on the other end. She had talked to him before, but hadn’t met with him in person. He sounded kind, even though she knew he was a man who spent a lot of time with unsavory people. But, that was to be expected given his profession. Despite that, she’d been told he often worked with women who needed to leave a spouse and who wished not to be found again. Maybe there was an empathetic side to him.

“Yes, speaking.”

“Can you talk now?” he asked and she knew right away what he meant. He had never asked why she was leaving and she certainly hadn’t volunteered the information, but it seemed as if he knew without having to ask. Just the thought that he knew her secret made her uncomfortable.

“Yes, my husband is still at work, but I don’t have long.”

“Did you get the first package?” he asked. He had mailed it to a post office box she’d set up two towns over from her and Patrick’s home in Windsor, Connecticut.

“Yes, the temporary license and birth certificate.”

“Good. You’ll be able to use that for a little while, but I need to get you a real birth certificate and social security card if you want to be able to find a job that doesn’t pay under the table. That’s going to take time.”

“How much time?” Laura asked, wanting the answer to be days, not weeks or months, but she knew that was unlikely.

“Not for another few weeks. It takes time to get a real birth certificate and once that’s in place, it takes a little longer for your social security number to come through,” he said with the tone of a man who had explained this to her all before. He had. She was partly just nervous and partly hoping for a different answer this time. This just had to work. There wasn’t any other option.

Before Laura could answer, he continued with instructions. “Save this phone number. I’ll need you to call me in three weeks and let me know where you are. I’ll need a mailing address.” There was no talk of payment. She’d already paid in full just to get him started on the new identity for her. He also didn’t ask her when she was leaving and she didn’t tell him. He seemed to assume she wouldn’t be in town in three weeks’ time and he was right. Laura would be running next week, as soon as Patrick left on his business trip.

The sound of car tires crunching up the drive sent panic churning through Laura’s stomach. So much so that she thought she’d be sick, but that wasn’t unusual nowadays. She was nauseated for several hours every day and often had to run to the bathroom to be sick.

“I have to go,” Laura whispered and didn’t wait for a response. She tucked the phone in her pocket and turned to the stove, focusing on making her breathing normal, making sure nothing seemed out of place.
Buy Now @ Amazon US | Amazon UK | Print | Barnes&Noble | Goodreads
Genre - Romance
Rating –  R
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A Simple Soul by Vadim Babenko

A Simple Soul

His crafty plan results in a deadly threat. Her hopes keep her locked in a vicious circle. They parted ways, supposedly forever. But will they be able to live apart?

Elizaveta, an attractive Muscovite, experiences a series of odd events: she is followed; she receives anonymous calls, flowers, and gifts. The culprit is her former lover, Timofey. He now lives far from Moscow and has a flourishing business, but a serious threat emerges when the daughter of a local mafia boss wants to marry him. Timofey knows his life is at risk if he says no. He creates a cunning scheme to save himself by staging a sham marriage with Elizaveta playing a primary role. Masterfully manipulating her feelings, Timofey persuades her to come visit him in his small town, but things soon take a dramatic turn.

A seemingly romantic journey becomes a struggle for survival. Timofey and Elizaveta confront real danger when they least expect it. Love and deception reveal their essence when the best of intentions come into conflict with each other. The protagonists try hard to achieve their goals, but, in the end, each of them finds something much different instead. Illusion, ultimately, proves stronger than reality. And coincidences are often not so random after all.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Literary Fiction

Rating – PG13

More details about the author and the book

Website http://www.vadimbabenko.com/

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David Litwack on Partnership Between Writer & Reader @DavidLitwack #amwriting #amreading

Why genres exist
Did you ever stand in an art gallery, look at a painting and think,” it’s a girl squatting beside a bird’s nest.” Then the guy next to you says, “It’s a man walking a dog.” The two of you step closer to see who’s right, and the illusion dissolves into brushstrokes.
Books are like that. Why should a bunch of letters crawling across a page evoke so much emotion? “I loved that book. It changed my life.” Or “I couldn’t stand it. I hated the main character.”
The reason? A novel is a partnership between the writer and the reader. The writer tosses out a few details, a dicey situation and a compelling character. The reader fills in enough to suspend their disbelief and accept what they’re reading as real. How they feel about a character depends on what their imagination has added to the words on the page. Every reader brings to the table all their biases, good and bad, to create a story uniquely their own. That’s why no two readers’ perception of a book is the same.
So why genres? Genres exist to give us a convenient tag to place on a story, a marker that tells us whether the partnership is likely to work or not.  They help readers find what they want.
Does that mean we should be restricted to our chosen genre? Not at all. In fact, many best sellers are read far beyond their selected devotees. A Publisher’s Weekly survey recently found that 55% of YA books are bought by adults. YA Fantasy? How many of us have caught Grandpa George with his nose in Harry Potter? Teens in a burnt out dystopia, scrabbling for food? How many of us have seen Great Aunt Agnes reading The Hunger Games?
Why? Because any genre will evoke powerful emotions if the characters are well drawn and believable, the writing strong, the premise and plot compelling. And if these are wrapped in universal themes, the book will grab your heart.
Fans of dystopian fiction like a story about a world gone awry where a character fights to survive. But what if the author adds to that character the longing to be loved or accepted as he or she struggles to find the line between right and wrong? And what if through all their pain, they learn that some things are worth dying for?
Then you have a good story, well told. And that will always transcend genre.
WINNER: Readers' Favorite Book 2013 Bronze Award Winner, Drama Category -Fiction
A Tragic Warrior Lost in Two Worlds...
The war in Iraq ended for Lieutenant Freddie Williams when an IED explosion left his mind and body shattered. Once he was a skilled gamer and expert in virtual warfare. Now he's a broken warrior, emerging from a medically induced coma to discover he's inhabiting two separate realities. The first is his waking world of pain, family trials, and remorse--and slow rehabilitation through the tender care of Becky, his physical therapist. The second is a dark fantasy realm of quests, demons, and magic that Freddie enters when he sleeps.
In his dreams he is Frederick, Prince of Stormwind, who must make sense of his horrific visions in order to save his embattled kingdom from the monstrous Horde. His only solace awaits him in the royal gardens, where the gentle words of the beautiful gardener, Rebecca, calm the storms in his soul. While in the conscious world, the severely wounded vet faces a strangely similar and equally perilous mission--a journey along a dark road haunted by demons of guilt and memory--and letting patient, loving Becky into his damaged and shuttered heart may be his only way back from Hell.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy
Rating – PG
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Birth of an Assassin by Rik Stone @stone_rik

Chapter 42

Jez let his mind dwell on the ceiling’s dull paint rather than think about his recent nightmares. But those thoughts wouldn’t stay down: whatever happened, he would achieve justice for Viktor.

Anna came out of the bathroom, hair wrapped in a towel, turban style. “We still have time to travel south,” she said. He sighed. She looked desperate again. “Please think about it. I promise this isn’t a test. No tricks. I’m telling you what’s in my heart, and I think we should run.”

Vertical tracks forged between his eyebrows. “We’ve already been through this, Anna. I do trust you, but I’ve made my decision.”

“But I don’t think you’ve thought it out properly. From what I can see, Mitrokhin has high-ranking contacts everywhere and I don’t think even Petrichova can save you. The captain has the guile of a fox and his cunning outwits us all. Please, Jez,” she implored, “go with me now.”

He got off the bed and embraced her. “I don’t know why you’ve become so worried. I’d never imagined you like this, but whether what you say is true or not, I won’t run. I must win justice for Viktor – and for me, come to that. Viktor has been murdered and I’ve been set up to look like his killer.”

Anna wept against his chest, and he couldn’t figure why. Of what he knew about her, it was totally out of character.

“I want you to remember this,” she sobbed. “And I’m speaking from the heart. No matter what happens, this is what is real and this is the memory I want you to hold onto. I love you, Jez, I love you.”

Baffled, he realized that having a real relationship with a woman was an enigma. Her declaration seemed distressed rather than tender. The only way he could think of handling this was to let it go straight over his head.

“And I love you, Anna, but I must go back.”


Outside the hotel the snow lay thick, and despite the best efforts of a heavy blanket of cloud, the cold had worked its way through.

“I’m glad I packed the ski jacket. Cold or not, this suitcase has me overheating. I know you’ve put my stuff in with yours, but what a weight.”

“Just girl things,” she smiled, and stepped out ahead.

“That’s right, don’t wait for me. Oh…” he said, almost stopping, “I forgot to pay for my lodgings at the hotel.”

She turned and raised an eyebrow. He grinned.

“You’re right, all the troubles I’ve got and I should worry about paying for a room. I’ll let the state sort it out.”

She laughed.

They trudged through the snow until they came to Railway Station Square – part of Stalin’s rebuild of the city. Anna wore the same azure coat with fur trimmings and fur hat as on the second day of their reunion, and he wondered how such a beautiful woman could really be interested in him.

“You look like a film star dressed like that, but aren’t you worried someone might be following?”

She tutted. “You seem to be worrying enough for both of us.”

She was so avant-garde, maybe she hadn’t carried out as many missions as she’d suggested. “Oh well, nearly there,” he said.

She smiled sadly.

He stopped to cross an avenue near a trolley rank. Six or seven people queued closely together, ankle-deep in snow, exhaling frosted breath as they waited for their ride. At last, a lull in the traffic. Anna went ahead. Jez kept a half metre behind, but something jarred his senses. Above the din of the city an explosion rang out. He turned to the direction of the noise and then looked at Anna. A hole had opened and blossomed in the back of her coat. His heart seemed to stop beating. She’d been shot and he couldn’t move. The force of the bullet had arched her back. She spun to face him, stumbled, eyes widened in shock.

The crowd at the trolley rank scattered in panic and shrill screams pierced his ears. But still, he couldn’t move – Anna.

Birth of an Assassin

Buy Now @ Amazon, B&N, Kobo & Waterstones

Genre - Thriller, Crime, Suspense

Rating – R

More details about the author and the book

Connect with Rik Stone on Facebook & Twitter


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Lethal Journey by Kim Cresswell @kimcresswell

Chapter Three

Detective Eric Brennan sat at his usual table and sipped the night’s beverage of choice—a cola. In Chunkers Bar and Grill loud pointless chatter overpowered the ‘80s rock and roll band on stage.

The last week was a blur. Every waking hour he pounded the streets in search of his father’s killer.

Eric knew every detail of the shooters face, but not the kid’s name. He’d heard from one of his informant’s, the kid was a young tough-guy looking to be made—a “cugine” ready to make his mark into New York’s most influential crime network, the Valdina family. As part of his induction into the mob family, the asshole had already killed a low-life rival family member and Eric and his father were working the homicide case when they got a tip.

That steamy June evening had started like any typical bust. Within minutes after Eric and his father arrived at the warehouse, dozens of DEA agents secured the perimeter. Eric entered the warehouse first, his father followed. Amid the stench of mildew and dust, the first pop of an automatic echoed within the barren walls.

They were ambushed.

His father, a veteran with twenty-three years on the force never saw the shots coming. Eric threw his body against his father in hopes of shielding him. It was too late. Instead Eric witnessed his father’s face, the sickening whitish blue tint that came with death...

While Pete checked in with the precinct, Eric shifted in the chair. His left knee still burned where the bullet had grazed his leg. He rubbed the scar, a permanent reminder of a drug bust gone bad. Very bad.

“Hey, Brennan.” Pete threw a twenty-dollar bill on the table and downed the last swallow of his beer. “Come on. I think we got a lead.”

Outside on West 35th Street, a full moon peeked through the clouds. Jagged streaks of lightning ignited the sky as rain sprinkled against Eric’s leather jacket. He lit a cigarette and leaned against his white pick-up truck parked in front of Chunkers.

Pete smirked. “Man, I thought you quit.”

Lethal Journey333x500

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Genre – Thriller

Rating – PG-18

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Connect with Kim Cresswell on Facebook and Twitter

Website http://kimberleycresswell.wordpress.com/

Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.

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Yves Fey on Breaking Elmore Leonard's Rule #3 @YvesFey #amwriting #amreading #writetip

Breaking Elmore Leonard’s Rule #3
“Rule #3—Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue,” he said.
“Well, how boring is that?” she said.
“Unobtrusive,” he said.
“Tedious,” she said.
“Concise,” he said.  “Invisible.”
“Ha!” she said.
“Did you just use an exclamation point?” he said.
“Should I have exclaimed?” she said.
“Please don’t,” he said.
“Shouldn’t my last “said” be an “ask”?” she said, wondering about placement of internal quote marks.
“Just drop the tag,” he said. “Why ask at all?”
“What about rhythm?”
“You know,” she said, “all the words together form a rhythm.”
“Ummm,” he said.
“And tags can be used to vary rhythm,” she said.
“Ummm,” he said again.
“How annoying!” she said, wishing he’d just repeat himself. “What about whispering?  What about demanding? Cajoling?  Yelling and yelping?”
“Tone and emotion should all be clear from context,” he said.
“Ha!” she said.
“That’s two. You get three every 100,000 words.  Rule #5,” he said.
“You missed 4,” she said.
“Adverbs.”  He shuddered visibly.
She could see that if he shuddered, it would probably be visibly.  Refusing to be distracted, she stuck to her guns, though using a cliché might break rule #6. “Scolding? Reproving? Admonishing?”
“Only Victorians admonish,” he said.
“So you say,” she said.
“And academics,” he said.
“So dialogue tags can be used to characterize,” she said.  It was not a question.
“Ummm,” he said.
“Muttering? Mumbling? Murmuring? Musing?  Subtle differences all clear from context? Coaxing? Wheedling? Enticing?”
“Distracting,” he said.  “Why clutter the sentence with ornate verbs?”
“Why not clarify the sentence with the exact verb?” she had to ask.
“It should all be clear from context,” he said.  Again.
“What about sudden changes—all clear from context?”
“Really, all you need is said,” he said.  “Simple.  Clean.  Unpretentious.  All but imperceptible.”
“Years before I read Elmore Leonard’s rules,” she said, “I read a page and a half of a different bestselling author’s short terse dialogue, that ended with “he said” after every sentence.”
“Every sentence?”
“I mean ghastly,” she said. “Gruesome.”
“You exaggerate,” he said.
“Chinese water torture,” she said.  “No, too subtle,” she said. “Sledge hammer!” she said – using another forbidden exclamation point.
“You used “said” too many times,” he said.
“Have I made my point?” she said.
Young American painter Theodora Faraday struggles to become an artist in Belle Époque Paris. She’s tasted the champagne of success, illustrating poems for the Revenants, a group of poets led by her adored cousin, Averill. When children she knows vanish mysteriously, Theo confronts Inspecteur Michel Devaux who suspects the Revenants are involved. Theo refuses to believe the killer could be a friend—could be the man she loves. Classic detection and occult revelation lead Michel and Theo through the dark underbelly of Paris, from catacombs to asylums, to the obscene ritual of a Black Mass. 
Following the maze of clues they discover the murderer believes he is the reincarnation of the most evil serial killer in the history of France—Gilles de Rais. Once Joan of Arc’s lieutenant, after her death he plunged into an orgy of evil. The Church burned him at the stake for heresy, sorcery, and the depraved murder of hundreds of peasant children. Whether deranged mind or demonic passion incite him, the killer must be found before he strikes again.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Historical Mystery
Rating – R
More details about the author
Connect with Yves Fey on Facebook & Twitter

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