Monday, December 31, 2012

Guest Post: Monster Inspiration by Brian Rowe, author of The Grisly High Series

Today we have an exciting guest post from Brian Rowe, author of The Grisly High Series! Brian's talking about what inspired him to create the monster's in his books. Check out the synopsis for Brian's latest, The Monster Apocalypse:

Do you like ghosts? Or witches? Or aliens? Or werewolves? They're all here... just in time... for the Monster Apocalypse!

Brin Skar thought she defeated the vampires, and she thought she escaped the zombies, but as it turns out... the horrors have just begun.

When Brin learns that Droz has kidnapped Paul, as well as her own mother, she decides her only choice is to return to Bodie Ghost Town. Joined by Ash, Anaya, Mr. Barker, and others, she sets out to destroy the evil clan leader... in the grisliest showdown of all.

Here it is... the final epic chapter of the Grisly High trilogy!

Monster Inspiration by Brian Rowe:

So why spend a year of my life writing a YA trilogy about monsters, of all things? My first YA trilogy — the three Happy Birthday to Me books — took my readers into strange and daring places, but still mostly resembled real life, with a strong and tragic romance at the center of it all. My second YA trilogy is a different beast altogether, one that takes a group of film geeks and pits them against every monster known to man. I think my switch in genre for the second trilogy has perplexed some of my readers; the Grisly High books are definitely the evil little stepchildren to Happy Birthday to Me. Both are YA, both have strong, capable teenagers who find themselves in extraordinary situations, but the tone is different in my new trilogy. The Vampire Underground (Book 1), The Zombie Playground (Book 2), and The Monster Apocalypse (Book 3) are meant to be pure entertainment. There is romance in the three books, complete with a romantic finale in Book 3 that I hope will be unexpected. But the real focus I put into these three books was making them scary. Who doesn’t love to be scared?

I grew up on horror, immersing myself in the work of R.L. Stine as early as age eight. While the Goosebumps and Fear Street books are not great literature, they kept me up many a late night, and I was partly inspired by Stine’s books to craft a new trilogy of teen horror novels for the twenty-first century. Another experience that played into the formation of these books was my visit to Bodie Ghost Town back in 2002, when I spent half a day traipsing around a forgotten city of decrepit buildings and eerie silences, and I couldn’t stop thinking that day that I needed to set one of my stories there. When some found out I was writing a “vampire” novel, they told me I was just trying to hop onto the Twilight craze, but that wasn’t the case at all. I had the idea for Book 1, The Vampire Underground, for ten years, and had always imagined vampires living underneath the ghost town. It’s how, from the beginning, I wanted to tell this story. With famous, iconic monsters!

But the biggest influence on the Grisly High trilogy is my love for horror movies. The maincharacters of the trilogy — Brin, Ash, Anaya, and Mr. Barker — love movies, but not even Ash loves movies as much as I do. My dad introduced me to horror movies at a young age, and by the time I was eleven I had seen all the classics, from Frankenstein to Psycho, from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Halloween, from The Evil Dead to A Nightmare on Elm Street, I’d seen them all. While I was finishing writing Happy Birthday to You and planning The Vampire Underground, I was trying to find who my main characters were. Making them film buffs just made perfect sense to me. What’s more ironic than a group of horror film nuts who go to a strange town to make a horror movie, who then come incontact with real deal horror movie villains themselves? I was intrigued bythis idea and decided to run with it.

When I finished The Vampire Underground, I initially outlined six more books in the Grisly High series. The second book, The Zombie Playground, is still what it would’ve been in that seven-book series, but the others were going to revolve around one single creature each. Book 3 was to be demons, Book 4 was to be ghosts, Book 5 was to be werewolves, Book 6 was to be aliens, and Book 7 was going to feature all of these monsters fighting each other in the most epic, giant battle in all of literature history! But when I reached the end of The Zombie Playground, I realized that these books lived or died based on the relationships of the core characters, and that I only needed one more book to say everything I wanted to say about Brin and Ash and Anaya and Mr. Barker, and bring this Grisly Highstory full-circle.

The Zombie Playground was a blast to write because I’d always wanted to blend two things that I’d never seen blended together before, in a book, or a film: the horror genre, with the sport of golf. It was so much fun to devise a story that would bring these two elements together in a way that makes sense, and I loved expanding on the mythology of the Grisly town to bring zombies into the forefront, after focusing on vampires in the first book.

Finally, The Monster Apocalypse, let’s face it, throws in everything but the kitchen sink. I really upped the stakes in Happy Birthday to You, the third and final book of my Birthday trilogy, and such is the case with this third book of the Grisly High trilogy. In this final chapter I set out to craft the most surprising,action-packed book I’ve written yet. All of the subplots are wrapped up, both old and new characters discover their fates, and every monster, from aliens to witches to werewolves, is finally accounted for. The first two books are fun, but they’re mere samples to the chaos and craziness of The Monster Apocalypse!

For more about The Monster Apocalypse check out these sites!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Look For 2013!

So you can probably tell that we've redesigned our banner. I was just sort of bored with the old one and wanted to try something new. I wanted to lighten up the color scheme just a little bit. I'm still messing around with things so you might see some more changes in the future or you might not. I'm not quite sure yet ;)

Old Banner

New Banner

Which do you like better?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Shuffle Saturday: Tightrope

Every Saturday I'll be posting a random song off of my iPod. This week's song is:

Tightrope by Walk The Moon

I have no idea what is up with this band's music videos, but I absolutely love their songs!

What are you listening to?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cover Reveal: Sworn to Raise by Terah Edun

Today we're excited to reveal the cover of Sworn to Raise by Terah Edun. Sworn to Raise doesn't release until March 15th, 2013 so be sure to mark it To-Read on your Goodreads! There's also a giveaway so make sure to enter! Check out the synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Ciardis has grown up in poverty, a cleaner in a small vale on the outskirts of the kingdom. But beneath her kingdom’s seemingly idyllic surface lies a hidden secret. Whispers of an inept crown Prince are growing ever louder—intensified by the five year anniversary of the soulbond initiations.

Amidst scandalous whispers, Ciardis finds herself chosen to train for the Companion’s Guild. She leaves her home and sets off on a personal journey to become a Court Companion. A position she’d never thought possible for a lowly servant to obtain, she must prove that she has the skills to attract a Patron.

But she must master those skills quickly. If the legends are true, only Ciardis can harness the power to raise a Prince in an Imperial Court sworn to bring him down.

This sensational series debut melds intricate storylines with remarkable characters and unforgettable magic. Sworn To Raise is ideal for fans of Kristin Cashore, Michelle Sagara, and Maria Snyder.

I love the colors on this cover! And the red dress the model is wearing is so pretty.

What do you think of the cover?


a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Terah Edun is an international development professional and author/lover of all things Young Adult Fantasy fiction. She is a native Georgian, adoptive Washingtonian, unrepentant expat currently living in South Sudan, brilliant dreamer, lover of dogs and not-so-closet geek. Her first novel, Red Madrassa, was released on November 8th and her second novel, Sworn to Raise, comes out in March 2013.

For more about Sworn to Raise check it out on Goodreads!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Trailer Reveal: Eternal Hope by Frankie Rose

This post is a little late, but I still wanted to post it. It's the trailer reveal for Frankie Rose's novel, Eternal Hope. It's awesome so check out the synopsis and the trailer below!

He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me

When your friends go missing and you don’t know if they’re dead or alive; when you tie your soul to the one you love; when you kill to protect and your family suffers, there’s only one thing you can do:

Move to Montana.

Farley Hope is special. She was prophesied to kill the forebears of her bloodline- a race of cold-blooded Reavers, men who steal the souls of the living to gain power. The Quorum had counted on Farley ending her own life in the process, but when Kayden came to her aid and helped save both her and Daniel, he undid their plans. Now the Quorum are displeased, not only with Kayden, but with Farley and Daniel too. Though her father is now dead, Farley’s troubles with the Reavers are far from over. An ancient Immortal, trapped for a thousand years, wants Farley for himself, and he will stop at nothing to claim her.

With secrets that lead to anger and pain, that turn friendship to dust, the group must overcome the problems within their own circle before they have a hope of fighting off the powers that threaten their lives.

For more about Eternal Hope check it out on Goodreads!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

FREE for Kindle: Burning by J.M. Gregoire

Just wanted to let everyone know that Burning, the short story prequel to J.M. Gregoire's Demon Legacy series, is FREE today on Amazon! Check out the synopsis:

Lucas was a typical playboy - lots of alcohol and a different girl every night. One woman brought his emotional walls and the beliefs he used to build them crumbling to the ground. Now, an unexpected visitor is going to change both their worlds forever.

Burning is the short story lead-in to the upcoming Demon Legacy series by J.M. Gregoire.

For more about Burning check out these sites!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Best Books of 2012!

First Read of 2012:

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight was the first book I read in 2012. My sister, Taylor, and I have this tradition. On New Year's Day we both start reading the same book and spend the entire day lounging and reading, forgetting that there's a whole world going on around us. So, naturally, we put a lot of thought into which book will be our first of the new year. And let me tell you, TSPoLaFS was definitely New Year's Day material! It's such a perfect little love story, keeping its characters real and flawed, yet totally lovable. I also recommend this one to anyone about to hop on an airplane. You'll wish you met your own Oliver on the flight!

Anyone have any suggestions for my First Read of 2013?


Funniest Book of 2012:

Well, I'd say the funniest book I've read in 2012 is Also Known As by Robin Benway, which I just finished reading a couple of weeks ago. It was laugh out loud funny on every page! But since that doesn't actually release until February 2013, I'm going to go with Body and Soul by Stacey Kade. Her Ghost and the Goth is one of the funniest I've read and it's somehow completely adorable at the same time. And Body and Soul was the perfect ending to that series. Alona was back in ghost form for most of the book and there's nothing funnier than a mean girl ghost popping in and out. Then there was Will, chasing Alona's, sort of, body around while trying to not get arrested for being a stalker and kidnapper. It was just a fantastically hysterical end to one of my favorite series of all time.


Most "Uggghhhhh!" Book of 2012:

We all have that book we want to hurl against the wall because its just so frustrating, that character that just grates on your nerves, but the book is just too fascinating to put down, so we don't hurl it out the window. We stay seated, turning page after page, desperately seeking our answers, our resolutions, our justifications. Blind Spot by Laura Ellen was that book for me. I was infuriated by the way the secondary characters, namely a teacher, treated the main character Roz just because she had an eye disease. They called it a handicap, they told her she couldn't do the things she wanted to do, yet they still expected her to do them and punished her or made fun of her of she wasn't able to. That is not okay! Being fair though, Roz was no peach herself. She had a hard time accepting help and made a lot of bad decisions. My favorite part of Blind Spot was that Roz was forced to deal with the consequences of her mistakes. This was no teenager-runs-around-solving-a-murder-and-her-parents-and-the-police-have-no-idea story. This was a Roz-gets-arrested-and-loses-all-her-friends-because-she-was-too-pigheaded-to-ask-for-help story. And as frustrating as it was to read, it was totally worth it!


Best "I Wish I Could Live In This Book" of 2012:

Wanderlove just so was not what I was expecting. I thought "Hey. Another contemporary teen novel about a girl trying to find herself." What I got was Rowan. I mean, no, I got a book about a girl who really does find herself. But she also finds Rowan. And Starling. And now I really, really want to go backpacking! It is such a beautifully written book. It fully immerses you in Bria's story, taking you on a tour of Central America that makes you feel like you're really there. And that was the biggest draw I had to it. I wanted to live in Wanderlove and never come back!


Best Retelling of 2012:

Scarlet is a retelling of Robin Hood. Do I need to say more? Okay. How about I tell you about what a kick-ass heroine Scarlet is? Or about how utterly swoon-worthy Robin is? What about the love triangle between Rob, Scarlet, and Little John? Yeah, A.C. Gaughen takes the Robin Hood you know and love and makes it all kinds of more awesome!


Scariest Book of 2012:

This is a hard one. I've read quite a few good ones this year: The Hallowed Ones, The Farm, This Is Not a Test. But I'm going to have to say the hands down scariest book I've read since the beginning of 2012 was The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa. There were more than a couple scenes in this book that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. And it also might win the title of most badass book of 2012 for its insanely cool heroine and her awesome katana skills!


Best Zombie Book of 2012:

There were so many zombie books released this past year. Some were awesome, some were not so awesome, but if I'm choosing my favorite it would have to be This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers. Zombies and a group of teenagers trapped in a school. What more could you want? Well, how about a main character who isn't sure if she wants to live through the zombie apocalypse? Puts a neat little spin on normal zombie novels, doesn't it? Summers geniusly makes us fear for Sloane's safety by making her depression her enemy. It's written in such a haunting way that you'll be sure to keep thinking about it long after you turn the last page. Also, the terrifying zombies will totally keep you up at night!


2012 Book That Stuck With Me The Most:

In the beginning of 2012 I read a book called Interrupted: Life Beyond Words by Rachel Coker. Rachel is a high school student and this was her debut novel. It's about World War II and what happens to the women who were left behind in America while their husbands and boyfriends and friends all went to war in Europe. When I first read this book I enjoyed it. It was something different that I probably wouldn't have read if I hadn't gotten it for review. It's a Christian book, but besides a few spiritual themes there isn't much religion flung at you in Interrupted, which is good because I hate preachy books.

I don't know why this book stuck with me. The main character Allie, isn't out of the ordinary for a contemporary. She's cynical, jaded, pigheaded, moody and at times she can be a little needy. Sam, the love interest, wasn't a stand out either. He is sweet, handsome, smart, brave and persistent even though the main character shoots him down over and over again because she's too scared to make a commitment. But for whatever reason, these characters, their emotions, have stuck with me throughout the year. Sometimes I'll see the beach in Maine where both characters lived pop into my head randomly, or I'll picture the scene where the pickup truck they were driving broke down on the side of the road. I feel Allie's fear when she realizes Sam is leaving her to go to war and her anguish when she thinks she'll never see him again. Interrupted just struck a chord in me, I guess, even though I didn't realize it until months after initially reading it.


Best Swoon of 2012:

The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead wins the awad of most swoony book of 2012. Adrian Ivashkov. Need I say more? Probably not, but I will anyone. There is a reason Adrian won the YA Sisterhood Crush Tourney this year. And if you've ever read the Vampire Academy or Bloodlines series, then you know what that reason is. Adrian thinks he's God's gift and I'm just gonna go ahead and agree with him. Richelle Mead cooked up one swoon worthy dude when she thought up Adrian. And thank god she gave him his own set of books. Honestly, I liked Vampire Academy. It was good, Rose and Dimitri were awesome and all, but Adrian and Sydney are where it's at. The end of TGL had my heart racing and then breaking in half. How can anyone put so much swoon and heartbreak into one flipping page?! I can't wait until February 11th, 2013 just to get a copy of The Indigo Spell in my hands.


Must Read of 2012:

Poison Princess was my MUST READ of 2012. I wanted this book like no one has ever wanted a book before ever! I needed it. I was sure I would love it the same was I'm sure I need air to breathe. It was going to be the BEST BOOK EVER. And my God, it was. It really, really was.

Two words. Jackson Deveoux. He is the hottest hottie of all hotties. He's bad, but oh so good! He's protective. He's a jerk (I know I'm not the only one who finds that an attractive quality). And he's surprisingly sweet underneath it all. Throw in a strong, witty main character with secrets of her own and some zombies and you've got yourself MY TOP FAVORITE BOOK OF 2012.

There was just something about Poison Princess. It was fun, scary, adventurous, and hot. Evie and Jack's apocalyptic road trip is filled with action and romance and had me flipping pages as fast as I could. Unfortunately for me, I read Poison Princess during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. 244 hours of no power seriously hurts your ability to read after the sun goes down. So I was trying to cram in as many pages as possible which led to me squinting at the pages in the dark, but it was totally worth it. In fact, I want nothing more that to go get the book off of my shelf and read it again!


Fun Fact of 2012:

Megan Duncan, author of many awesome independent books such as the Agents of Evil series, the Warm Delicacy series and Falling From Eternity, was holding a contest over the summer and I won. You want to know what the prize was? My name. In the third Agents of Evil book! Oh, yeah! There will be a character named after me in one of my favorite series! How freaking cool is that?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Excerpt: Louder Than Words by Laurie Plissner

Today we're excited to share chapter one from Louder Than Words by Laurie Plissner! It's a paranormal romance sure to pull you in. Check out the synopsis:

The debut novel of an American original, Laurie Plissner's is both medical thriller and lyric love story in the tradition of magical realism.

Since the snowy night when her family's car slammed into a tree, killing her parents and little sister, Sasha has been unable to speak except through a computer with a robotic voice. Nothing is wrong with her body; that's healed. But, after four years, Sasha's memory, and her spirit, are still broken. Then one day, she's silently cussing out the heavy book she dropped at the library when a gorgeous, dark-haired boy, the kind of boy who considers Sasha a freak or at least invisible, "answers" Sasha's hidden thoughts -- out loud. Yes, Ben can read minds; it's no big deal. He's part of a family with a host of unusual, almost-but-not-quite-supernatural talents. Through Ben's love, Sasha makes greater progress than she has with a host of therapists and a prominent psychiatrist. With him to defend her, bullies keep the world from ever understanding Sasha, he pulls away. Determined to win him and prove her courage by facing her past, Sasha confronts her past -- only to learn that her family's death was no accident and that a similar fate may wait for her, in the unlikeliest of disguises.

Chapter One:

by Laurie Plissner,
Author of Louder Than Words (Merit Press)
Every night it's the same thing. Screeching brakes. Crunching steel. A rush of cold, wet air as the glass crumbles, letting in the snowy night. The chorus of screams and then nothing -- just the slow drip of fluids from the mangled wreck and the hiss of steam escaping the crushed radiator. And the stench -- scorched rubber, gasoline, the metallic smell of blood, burning electrical wiring -- all mingled with a sweet, flowery smell I couldn't identify. Was I dead? Did God work behind the perfume counter at Bloomingdale's? 
Why couldn't I dream about something else? The accident was four years ago, and the dream never faded, never changed. If only I could remember more, then maybe I could figure out what really happened. Waking up exhausted every morning, my sheets in a tangle, my nightgown drenched in sweat, I was stuck. More than once I'd wished that I wasn't the one who "miraculously escaped death," as the newspapers put it, "pulled dazed and bleeding from the wreckage." Reliving my family's last moments night after night was not my idea of living, and if I had the guts, I probably would've figured out a way to join them, wherever they were, instead of staying here, in a sort of no-man's-land. But that wasn't going to happen anytime soon. I was a coward and a big talker. Well, actually, I wasn't a talker at all anymore. 
When I woke up in the hospital on that Christmas Eve, three days after the accident, my Aunt Charlotte was sitting next to my bed, wringing her hands as I rubbed my eyes, a fluffy mountain of her crumpled tissues on the bedside table. 
"Sasha, you're awake. Oh darling, are you okay? Are you in pain?" 
I opened my mouth to answer her, to tell her that I felt fine, a little sore, but none the worse for wear. And I wanted to ask her what had happened, why I was in a hospital, judging by the mechanical bed, the IV in my arm, and that horrible antiseptic smell. But nothing came out. Like a fish out of water, gasping for air, my mouth opened and closed, but there was no sound. It was as if someone had pressed my mute button. 
Desperately needing to communicate, I mimed a pencil and paper, and when Charlotte handed me a pad and pen, I wrote furiously. What happened? Why can't I talk? Where are Mom and Dad and Liz? Why am I in the hospital? 
At that point I hadn't yet started having the dream and had no recollection of the accident. My mind was a jumble, and my lost voice and the panicked expression on Charlotte's face terrified me more than I thought possible. 
"You can't talk? I don't know what's wrong." Jumping up, knocking over the plastic water pitcher on the table next to the bed, Charlotte ran to find a nurse, while I tried to rouse my vocal cords. 
Hours later, after what seemed like a dozen doctors had looked down my throat with exotic instruments that looked more suited to medieval torture than medical diagnostics, a young man, who barely looked old enough to drive let alone practice medicine, appeared in the doorway. Before he could produce a flashlight or a tongue depressor I was shaking my head and covering my mouth with my hand. No more doctors. Whatever was wrong with me, this wasn't helping. 
"Sasha, Mrs. Thompson, I'm Dr. Klein. Don't worry, I'm a different kind of doctor. I won't be putting anything down your throat." 
He smiled reassuringly at us both and took my aunt out into the hallway, leaving me to visualize the worst that a kid could imagine. The doctor only left the room when there was bad news. By the time they returned I had decided that I was dying. Tears gushed down my cheeks, my shoulders shook, but even then, not so much as a whimper. 
"Sasha, it's okay. You're going to be fine. I promise." 
Charlotte didn't look as convincing as she sounded, but my parents were nowhere to be seen, and I needed to believe in someone. I bit my lip, blinked back my tears and tried to suck it up. If she could be brave, then so could I. We both looked at Dr. Klein, who just stood with his arms folded, a sympathetic thin-lipped smile on his face. 
"Sasha, your aunt's right. You will be just fine. Miraculously, you suffered virtually no injuries in the accident -- no physical injuries that is. Your inability to speak is a phenomenon called hysterical mutism, a rare but not unheard of manifestation of post-traumatic stress. As an adolescent -- how old are you?" 
What accident? I wanted to scream. What is this weirdo talking about? 
"She's thirteen today," my aunt said softly. 
I hadn't known what day it was myself. So this was what it felt like to be a teenager. Not at all what I'd imagined. 
"Oh, dear. Wishing you a happy birthday doesn't seem particularly appropriate. Anyway, as I was saying, the adolescent brain is in a state of flux and is especially vulnerable to psychic trauma. But the good thing is that the pubescent brain is also very elastic, capable of healing itself in ways that an adult brain cannot." He paused to let this sink in, but when he noticed my bewildered expression, he suddenly seemed to realize that he wasn't talking only to adults, and that I hadn't understood a word he'd said, other than the part about my birthday. "I'm sorry, sweetheart. What I'm trying to say, and not doing a very good job, is that although your body was not seriously injured in the accident, your mind was. In response to this terrible thing that has happened to you, your brain has reacted by taking away your ability to speak. Your vocal cords are perfectly fine. While you may remember very little of what happened the night of the accident in your conscious mind, the deepest part of your brain remembers everything and is very upset by it." 
Dr. Klein, overcompensating for his initial, convoluted explanation, was speaking incredibly slowly, enunciating every syllable, as if my inability to speak had somehow affected my ability to understand English. Unbelievable. Who knew my brain was that powerful, and that stupid? How could it shut down my voice box like that? What for? I couldn't even remember what happened that night, or much of the rest of my life, for that matter. I nodded at Dr. Klein. What else was there to do? Why couldn't I have a broken leg or a ruptured spleen, something run-of-the-mill that could be healed with a cast or some stitches? 
"I'm a general psychiatrist, but I think Sasha would benefit most if she worked with someone who specializes in the area of posttraumatic stress. Dr. Colleen O'Rourke, who is at the forefront of this field, recently moved here from Boston. She works primarily at New York General, but she does see a few patients locally. She's eager to take your case." Dr. Klein patted my feet through the blankets and handed Charlotte a business card. "I wish you a speedy recovery, Sasha, and I'm so sorry for your loss." 
Charlotte glared up at him, shaking her head violently from side to side. "I hadn't . . . " She didn't finish the sentence. 
"I'm so sorry. I didn't realize." Dr. Klein reddened, realizing that he had let the cat, the dead cat, out of the bag. But it didn't matter -- I already knew. 
There was a knock at the door, and a woman peeked in. Unable to face another doctor, I yanked the sheet over my head. 
"I hope I'm not interrupting." 
"Perfect timing," said Dr. Klein. "Mrs. Thompson, Sasha, this is Dr. O'Rourke." 
"Hello. Please accept my condolences for your terrible loss." 
Charlotte gently pulled the sheet from my face. "So nice to meet you, Dr. O'Rourke. Thank you for taking us on." 
The two women shook hands, and Dr. O'Rourke nodded at me. 
"I very much look forward to helping Sasha cope with what has happened. You are a brave little girl." 
Brave was the last thing I was, but she didn't know me yet. 
"She is," Charlotte sniffed. 
"I actually knew your father many, many years ago. We went to high school together in Boston. He was the captain of the football team, the quarterback." 
Three pairs of eyes stared at my mouth, as if waiting for me to have a breakthrough right there, as if a famous doctor standing at the foot of my hospital bed would be enough to jog my memory and cure my voice. I didn't remember that my father had grown up in Boston or played football in high school. It was like they were talking about a complete stranger. Not knowing what else to do, I nodded. Maybe if I agreed with this person, she would leave. 
"That should make things easier, shouldn't it?" Charlotte said, sounding desperate for something positive to grab onto. 
"Absolutely," said Dr. Klein, and Dr. O'Rourke nodded. "The fact that Dr. O'Rourke knew Sasha's father, even so long ago, gives her insight into the entire dynamic." 
Since when did my dead family become a dynamic? What did that even mean? I closed my eyes. I couldn't make them stop talking, but at least I didn't have to look at them. 
Dr. O' Rourke whispered, "You need to rest, Sasha. I will see you very soon. Mrs. Thompson, call me in a few days and we'll set something up. Goodbye." 
"I'm going to go, too," Dr. Klein said. 
The door clicked shut and I opened my eyes. For a few minutes, Charlotte and I just looked at each other. Then I tapped the pad of paper where I had earlier scrawled my questions. My parents and my sister were gone forever. There was no denying it. At the moment it didn't really matter how it had happened, but I might as well get it over with. 
Haltingly, Charlotte began telling me her version of events, still dancing around the fact that my entire family was dead. My mother and Charlotte were sisters, only a year apart, and had been as close as twins. 
"You were driving with Liz and your folks to the church for the holiday concert when the accident happened. It was snowing, but the roads looked okay, and your dad had just put the snow tires on the car. I spoke to your mom right before you left, at about seven o'clock. She wanted to know if Stuart and I wanted to join you, but we both had court in the morning and had work to do. Do you remember any of this?" 
Charlotte seemed more comfortable now that she could be helpful, using her lawyerly skills to remind the witness of what had happened. The color was slowly returning to her cheeks. 
I shook my head. Church? Christmas concert? I remembered I had two parents, a sister named Liz, and Aunt Charlotte, but not much else before waking up in a hospital bed. My brain was wrapped in thick fog, and no matter how hard I concentrated, the haze wasn't lifting. 
"Do you remember the car ride?" she coaxed. 
Charlotte leaned forward, her hands clutching the thin, white cotton blanket, as if she were physically trying to pull the memories from wherever they were trapped inside of me. I squeezed my eyes shut tight, trying to picture what had happened in the car, during what had been my family's last few minutes alive. What was I wearing? How hard was it snowing? What was playing on the car radio? 
Nothing, just a thudding pain behind my eyes and sudden, overwhelming fatigue. Turning my head away from Charlotte, I slipped into blackness. 
Two days later I was released from the hospital and moved into Charlotte's house. Although I knew I had lived elsewhere before the accident, I had no conscious memory of that place and no desire to remember. If I could have made time stop, made myself disappear, I would have. Like a robot, I sat where I was told to sit, ate what I was told to eat, and settled into a new life with my aunt and uncle, which unfortunately started with my family's funeral. When I woke up that morning, for a glorious second I thought I had dreamed it all, that my dad was going to march past my bedroom humming Beethoven's Ninth Symphony to himself, just as he did every morning at exactly 7:03, and a few minutes later, the smell of coffee brewing would float up the stairs and under my bedroom door. But then, like a lens coming into focus, my real life emerged from the shadows inside my head. 
I don't want to go, I wrote. A yellow legal pad and a pile of Ticonderoga pencils were my only link to the outside world. I was still in my pajamas, and we were due at the cemetery in less than an hour. You can't make me. I stomped my foot on the wood floor, but my socks muffled the sound, undermining the fury that I was so desperate to express. 
Charlotte said, "Darling, I know it's hard, but I think -- and Dr. O'Rourke agrees -- that it's important for you to go." 
I had met the storied Dr. O'Rourke exactly once, and here she was, making decisions for me, giving unwanted advice, issuing orders. 
But I know they're all dead . . . I get it. My pencil dug into the paper as I wrote the word dead. Why do I have to see it? Why can't everybody just leave me alone? 
I closed my eyes, imagining three coffins lined up next to three perfectly rectangular holes in the ground. Why wasn't there a fourth for me? It would be so much easier. In the days after the accident I spent much of my time fantasizing about an accident that took four lives instead of three. Charlotte blathered on about my life being spared because I must have some special purpose. Total bullshit. At this point I was just taking up space. Opening my swollen and bloodshot eyes, I stared out the window at the snow-covered trees. By now I should have run out of tears, but I seemed to have an endless supply. 
"It's closure. You need to say goodbye to them." She could barely get the words out, turning her back to me so I wouldn't see her cry. 
I knew she must be as devastated as I was, but I had no room in my heart for empathy. Feeling sorry for myself was taking up all my energy. 
What's the point of saying goodbye to three wooden boxes? Like that's going to help me get over it? They're already gone. The tip of my pencil snapped with the force of my words. 
Charlotte gave Stuart a pleading look. Standing at the island in the kitchen, he stirred his tea and looked on helplessly. I felt bad for him. This wasn't supposed to be his life either. Putting down his spoon, he came and sat down next to me on the sofa. 
"Sash, funerals suck, and going to your family's funeral is an unthinkable task, but it's just something you have to do. It's not right, but it's what everybody's expecting. If you don't show up, they'll never leave you alone. So let's get this over with, and then you can come home and I won't let anyone bother you. I promise." He held up three fingers like a Boy Scout salute. 
That made sense. If I knew my public misery was limited to an hour or two, I could manage. I nodded. No wonder Stuart was so good at his job: he knew how to get things done. As horrible as I felt, I wasn't immune to logic, and Stuart's plan was reasonable and finite. 
"But Stu, what about the reception afterward?" 
Charlotte stood in front of us, filing her fingernails furiously. She was a taut guitar string, ready to snap at the slightest touch, but Stuart maintained his cool. 
"Sasha and I are coming straight home after the funeral. No reception. You can go, and you should, to represent the family, but I don't think any good is going to come of standing around talking about the good old days. It's too soon." Stuart kissed me on the forehead and patted my knee. "She's just a baby," he whispered into my hair. "She needs time." 
Charlotte sighed and wiped her eyes, inspecting her hands for mascara. "I suppose you're right. Of course that makes sense. I was so busy thinking about what we were supposed to do that I wasn't thinking about what was the right thing for Sasha. I'm so sorry, kiddo. This is all new for me. We'll figure this out. It's just going to take time to get used to everything." 
My tears dripped on the yellow paper, smudging my words. It's okay. I love you guys. Thank you for taking me in. I know you didn't want to have a baby, and now you have me. It must be hard. 
"Don't ever say thank you for this. It's a privilege to have you in this house. No more discussing it -- let's get this over with. Go get dressed, Sasha," Stuart ordered. Everything about Stuart made me feel safe. 
It was a graveside ceremony, and all three coffins were lined up, just as I had pictured. Shiny dark wood, they looked like giant cigar boxes. Two of the caskets were blanketed with pink roses -- my mother, sister and I had all loved pale pink roses. Not anymore. Although it was bitterly cold, there must have been close to a hundred people huddled around the trio of holes in the ground. I didn't recognize most of them -- amnesia or shock, I didn't know which -- so I sat between my aunt and uncle, surrounded by a crowd of strangers, staring at my muddy shoes, trying not to think about my parents and sister being dropped into those pits and covered with dirt. 
The worms crawl in . . . I remembered that Liz hated bugs. When there was a spider in the bathroom, she would holler until someone came in to kill it for her. And although she didn't like to admit it, she was a little afraid of the dark. I used to make fun of her, because even though she was two years older, she was the scaredy cat in the family. Now she was alone in the dark, with the bugs, and I couldn't help her. Jamming my fists into my eyes, wishing I could scream out loud, I tried to erase the image of three dead bodies, maggots crawling in and out of their ears. 
The minister rambled on about lives cut short, some heavenly grand plan and the duty of the living to carry on the memories of those no longer here. It sounded like a load of crap to me, but I couldn't speak and I don't think the words I wanted to say would have been very well received. What kind of fucking higher power would let this happen? And if He/She/It were going to let this happen, then the least He/She/It could do would be to wipe out the whole family at once. I didn't even have any grandparents: two cancers, one heart attack and a stroke had decimated my family tree long before the crash. Leaving one person behind, a child no less, smacked of poor judgment and bad planning. Where was the mercy in that? Somehow I knew I wouldn't be finding comfort in religion. 
Twenty minutes later, it was all over. Three hunchbacked men in black raincoats and rubber boots lowered the caskets into the holes with some cranking device. Charlotte, Stuart and I stood like a tiny receiving line at a vampire wedding, while people said horrible, well-meaning things. "We're so sorry." "If there's anything we can do . . . " "Are you all right?" "How do you feel?" Stupid, obvious, unanswerable questions. And then, as they walked away, I could still hear them, talking about me instead of to me. "How will she survive?" "Did you hear that she may never be able to speak again?" "She looks terrible." 
"Come on, sweetie, let's get you home," Stuart said, wrapping his arm protectively around my shoulders. "You're frozen solid." 
I nodded and leaned against him, comforted by the feel of his rough wool coat against my cheek. His other arm was around Charlotte. If not for Stuart, we would probably both keel over. 
"Honey, are you all right? You don't have to go to the reception, either." 
Charlotte sniffled. "I have to go." 
"There is no such thing as 'have to' in this situation." 
"No, I want to go. I won't stay long." We stopped in front of the black Lincoln Town Car that had brought us to the cemetery. "I'll see you at home." The three of us stood with our arms around each other for a long minute. 
My life was at the bottom of three holes in the Riverside Cemetery, but I had to keep on living. How was I supposed to do that?
The above is an excerpt from the book Louder Than Words by Laurie Plissner. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

© 2012 Laurie Plissner, author of Louder Than Words

About the Author:

Laurie Plissner, author of Louder Than Words, is a Princeton- and UCLA-educated litigator. She gave up the courtroom for life as a full-time mom, although she could not overrule her love of literature. She lives with her husband and two teenagers. This is her first novel.

For more about Louder Than Words check out these sites!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Shuffle Saturday (13): Underdog

Every Saturday I'll be posting a random song off of my iPod. This week's song is:

Underdog by Imagine Dragons

This song is so catchy and upbeat. To be honest, I haven't heard one song by Imagine Dragons that I don't love!

What are you listening to?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Spotlight: Double Star by Cindy Saunders

Today we have an excerpt from Double Star by Cindy Saunders. This is definitely one for lovers of mythology! Check out the synopsis:

When Cepheus, a dark god, forces seventeen-year-old Ally Ashworth off an isolated overlook, she has no idea she's falling into his world, or that the necklace she’s wearing is actually a key - one with the power to ignite the next world war. But she’s carried beyond his reach and into the one place where he’s powerless ... the forest of Gilgamesh.

Ally’s never been Miss Popularity, but her outsider status takes on new meaning when she’s rescued by Liam Cheveyo and his peculiar friends. After seeing them shape-shift into their freaky humanimal counterparts, Ally smacks hard into a few truths: magic really does exist and, although getting here took no effort, finding her way back might be impossible. Feelings between her and Liam begin to grow along with the realization that, in this world, she’s stronger, better ... until she’s caught in a trap set by the creepy spider-boy Cepheus sends to retrieve her. But Ally’s not going down without a fight, not after learning the horrible truth about the passageways.

The survival of both worlds depends on it.

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Double Star by Cindy Saunders:

Where she was going didn’t matter. Where she was, she didn’t know. In this run for her life, her focus was to simply get someplace else. Above, the limbs of the great pines held the stars hostage. The only light came from the two moons in the sky. Despite her silent pleas they continued to fall, barely visible through the thick cover of the forest. She knew the darkness concealed many secrets and, from that fact, there was no escape.
Snap. The sound from behind stopped her heart. She dared to turn around. Two glowing rubies, only feet away, rode up and down as the creature advanced on four legs.
Beware the red eyes. The boy’s whisper broke through. They are the eyes of death for you and the ones you love. They will not rest until yours are closed forever. His image played in her head for only a millisecond, but it filled her with courage. Her heart picked up pace and, with arms out at her sides, hands moving in frantic rhythm, she managed to stay on her feet.
She sensed each passing second could be her last when she heard the creature’s rhythmic breathing roll up from her heels. Just then, the red moon revealed an abrupt end to the forest a short distance ahead. In a few steps, her fate would be in the hands of gravity. Trust! That was her grappling hook as she threw herself over the edge and tumbled into the darkness below.
The beast followed down the steep embankment and stopped a few feet away. She got to her feet and allowed the wolf-like creature another step. Its red eyes stared up at her. The head dropped between its shoulders. Its weight shifted to its hindquarters. The muscles of hunter and prey simultaneously tensed. The animal growled and exposed a set of long, yellow teeth. Saliva fell in strings from razor-sharp incisors. Unable to move, she watched as it lunged, jaws open wide. She put her hands in front of her and took a step back. Her left foot fell upon air, and then ... she plummeted into emptiness.

For more about Double Star check out these sites!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Guest Post: The Difference Between Writing For Boy and For Girls Brenda Sellers

Today we have a guest post from B.L. Sellers, author of the children's book Mighty Meat Head. Mighty Meat Head is a short read, but it's filled with humor and adventure that's sure to appeal to many! Check out the synopsis:

One boy and his extraordinary body part, Humperdink Smitz is a normal preteen, loves the ladies, hates gym, and can't even catch a break with the cool kids. This all changes with one biographical comic in his town's paper, that catapults this comic drawing meat head into the spotlight. Will he get a big head or play it cool as he ventures into popularity and will the girl of his dreams ever give him a passing glance?

The Difference Between Writing For Boys And For Girls by Brenda Sellers:

Young girls

Beginning of story. . .

Once upon a time a lovely maiden found a slimey green frog, squeezed her eyes shut – puckered – kissed the frog?????

Poof! A handsome prince.

And they lived happily everafter . . .

The ending of the story.

Young boys

Once upon “the same time” the lovely maiden’s annoying next door neighbor Eddy found a frog and thought it was the coolest thing in the world! Chased it around the meadow, named it, took it to make mud pies, and had many adventures with it.

To describe the difference of writing for girls and what they want to read, in one word it would be – daydream. Eventually a setting of opportunity is established, and the invited, heightened anticipation by lacing chapter to chapter to its peak of, boy falls in love with girl, sweetly close the book. . . . more daydreams.

And for the boys – BOING! Boys seem to respond to continual occurrence. Concise chapters of rise and fall, stories in and of themselves. And humor. A great example is the classic Captain Underpants series.

Writing for either is a delight! (Truth be told, Eddy starts to look “not so bad”. The frog dies. The prince wasn’t all that he was hyped up to be, the maiden loses interest, and they walk hand- in-hand into the local bookshop for their first date.)

For more about Mighty Meat Head check it out on Amazon!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Promo Blitz: The Silver Sphere by Michael Dadich

We're excited to be a part of The Silver Sphere Promo Blitz! This book looks awesome and I really love the cover. Check out the synopsis:

Shelby Pardow never imagined she could kill someone. All she wants to do is hide from her troubled father... when she is teleported to awaiting soldiers on the planet Azimuth. Here she is not a child, but Kin to one of the six Aulic Assembly members whom Malefic Cacoethes has drugged and imprisoned. He seeks to become dictator of this world (and then Earth by proxy). His father, Biskara, is an evil celestial entity, tracked by the Assembly with an armillary device, The Silver Sphere.

With the Assembly now deposed, Biskara directs Malefic and the Nightlanders to their strategic targets. Unless.... Can Shelby find the other Kin, and develop courage and combat skills? Can the Kin reassemble in time to release or replace the Assembly, overthrowing Malefic and restraining Biskara?

About the Author:

I’ve been writing since first setting pencil to steno pad at age 8. A year later, I began developing the world of my current series-in-progress, and even created its title, The Silver Sphere. Now, with the support of years of experience, those early maps and back stories have progressed into what I hope is a fresh and entertaining take on the classic young adult fantasy adventure.

Despite my frequent escapes into parallel worlds, I root myself firmly in my very real family and community. When not pacing the yard maniacally after every few pages of writing, I spend as much time as possible hanging out with my studly 9-year-old son, and my inspirational wife Jenna. I also coach several local youth sports teams in Beverly Hills, and alternate between yelling at my two crazy Corgis and hiking with my trained German Shepherd.

For more, join me in my favorite fantasy worlds, from Lord of the Rings to the creations of C.S. Lewis, Anne McCaffrey and Terry Brooks. Even more importantly, stop by and say hello on my Facebook page at AuthorMichaelDadich, tweet me at @MichaelDadich, and stalk my website at

For more about The Silver Sphere check out these sites!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Blog Tour Excerpt: Fang Girl by Helen Keeble

Today we're excited to have a hilarious excerpt from Fang Girl by Helen Keeble! If you haven't heard of this one you need to check it out. It was released on Sept. 11th, 2012 by HarperTeen. Also, while your here, make sure to enter the giveaway in order to win a signed copy of Fang Girl and an ARC of Helen's next book! Here's a synopsis:

Things That Are Destroying Jane Greene’s Undead Social Life Before It Can Even Begin:

1) A twelve-year-old brother who’s convinced she’s a zombie.

2) Parents who are begging her to turn them into vampires.

3) The pet goldfish she accidentally turns instead.

4) Weird superpowers that let her rip the heads off of every other vampire she meets. (Sounds cool, but it doesn’t win you many friends.)

5) A pyschotic vampire creator who’s using her to carry out a plan for world domination.

And finally:

6) A seriously ripped vampire hunter who either wants to stake her or make out with her. Not sure which.

Being an undead, eternally pasty fifteen-year-old isn’t quite the sexy, brooding, angst-fest Jane always imagined....

Helen Keeble’s riotous debut novel combines the humor of Vladimir Tod with Ally Carter’s spot-on teen voice. With a one-of-a-kind vampire mythology and an irresistibly relatable undead heroine, this uproarious page-turner will leave readers bloodthirsty for more.

Excerpt from Fang Girl by Helen Keeble:

In which Our Heroine, Xanthe Jane Greene (unexpectedly undead vampire fangirl) makes some resolutions for her new unlife…
As a vampire, I solemnly swear I will not: 
1) Angst 
2) Suck 
3) Summon a dark goddess 
4) Fall in love with a vampire hunter
   a) Or a werewolf
   b) Or anyone evil, no matter how hot. 
   c) Or anyone of species not approved of by my vampire elders, because no one is worth that sort of stress 
5) Accept any gifts, give any gifts, carry any messages, take part in any mysterious rituals, etc. etc. 
“Here’s another one,” said Mum, sticking a Post-It into the massive tome in her lap. “Running backward while carrying a lit candle in one hand and a live tortoise in the other. Makes vampires flee in terror.” 
“Thanks, Mum.” I didn’t bother to look up from my laptop. I’d given up making notes on any of her findings over an hour ago—Eastern European vampire folklore was turning out to be utterly cracktastic. “Can I remind you that we’re looking for ways to stop vampire hunters, not vampires?” 
When Mum had said she’d gone to work to get research materials, she wasn’t kidding. Every surface in the living room was piled high with books. This was not unusual, but the familiar physics journals and academic monographs had vanished. In their place: Interview with a Vampire, Dracula, The Vampire in Romanian Legend, Vampire Nation. The Encyclopedia of the Undead, Love Bites, Fourteen Essays on Vampirism, Twilight, Undead and Unwed, Vampires of Stage and Screen, In Search of Dracula . . . everything from huge, leather-bound library reference volumes with cracked spines to shiny new paperbacks with luridly embossed covers. Mum must have checked out every book about vampirism from every library in a thirty-mile radius. I wasn’t quite sure what she was expecting to learn from texts like Marxism and the Vampire, but at least it was keeping her occupied.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Helen Keeble is not, and never has been, a vampire. She has however been a teenager. She grew up partly in America and partly in England, which has left her with an unidentifiable accent and a fondness for peanut butter crackers washed down with a nice cup of tea. She now lives in West Sussex, England, with her husband, daughter, two cats, and a variable number of fish. To the best of her knowledge, none of the fish are undead.

Her first novel, a YA vampire comedy called FANG GIRL, is out 11th Sept 2012, from HarperTeen.

She also has another YA paranormal comedy novel (provisionally titled NO ANGEL) scheduled for Sept 2013.

For more about Fang Girl check out these sites!

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