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How the Light Gets In by Katy Upperman Blog Tour – Author Interview

About the Book

Since her sister’s tragic death, seventeen-year-old Callie Ryan has basically given up. Her grades have plummeted, she’s quit her swim team, and she barely recognizes the people her parents have become.

When she returns to her aunt’s run-down coastal Victorian one year after Chloe’s death, Callie resigns herself to a summer of guilt and home renovations. She doesn’t expect to be charmed by the tiny coastal town or by Tucker Morgan, a local boy brimming with sunshine.

But even as her days begin to brighten, Callie’s nights are crowded with chilling dreams, unanswered questions, and eerie phenomenon that have her convinced she’s being haunted. Will Callie be able to figure out what her sister is trying to communicate before it’s too late?

Interview

What authors/books inspired your writing?

Judy Blume, first and foremost. I’ve been reading (and loving!) her books since I was around eight. Also, The Baby-Sitters Club books, and the Sweet Valley High books; I devoured those series growing up. And, now, many of the current contemporary YA greats: Gayle Forman, Jessi Kirby, Miranda Kenneally, Stephanie Perkins, Jandy Nelson, Jenny Han, Sara Zarr, Lisa Schroeder, Katie Cotugno, Robin Benway, Emery Lord, Sarah Dessen, and Morgan Matson.

What is your ideal writing setting (outside, at a desk, etc.)?

I have a lovely desk that I never use. I like coffee shops okay for chatting with friends, but they’re too distracting for writing. Our local library is too cold. I wish I could write outside, but the sun creates a glare on my laptop’s screen – ha! I’m such a homebody. Ideally, I like to write on my couch or in my bed. I like it to be very quiet. I like to be warm, wearing cozy clothes. I like to have a candle burning, and a hot beverage nearby. Under those conditions, I do my best work. 

Do you have any writing exercises or habits?

When I’m drafting, I always start by reading and editing what I wrote the day before. That lets me reacclimate to the story, while limiting the time I spend going backward instead of forward. I’m also a die-hard Scrivener user. It has so many amazing outlining, drafting, and organizational features; I can’t imagine going back to Word.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

When I have writer’s block, it’s almost always because I’ve made a misstep somewhere earlier in the process. When the words just won’t come, I give myself a break. I take a walk or pull weeds or play with my girls, all the while letting the story stew in the back of my mind. Some distance, not forcing it, usually allows me the space to see where I’ve gone wrong. Once I’ve identified the problem I backtrack and fix it, and then I’m free to move forward.

Do you have a special connection to any of your characters?

I have a connection with all of my main characters (Jillian from Kissing Max Holden, Elise from The Impossibility of Us, and Callie from How the Light Gets In). To write from their first-person perspective, I’ve had to learn them inside and out. I’ve given them each one of my own character traits: I share Jillian’s fierce sense of loyalty, Elise’s desire to find the best in everyone, and Callie’s empathic nature. All three are rather stubborn, so we have that in common, too. I’ve also found that sharing a common interest with my protagonists—Jillian loves to bake, Elise loves photography, and Callie loves to swim—helps me connect with them all the more.

What does literary success mean to you?

For me, literary success comes in two parts. First, I hope to find joy in the project I’m drafting/editing/promoting. Not all the time—there are always frustrating and disenchanting moments in writing and publishing—but most of the time. Second, I hope my books will make readers feel. I hope they’ll become so invested in my stories that their emotions mirror my characters’ emotions. I think that’s the most exciting part of reading.

What can we hope to see from you in the future?

It’s kind of a mystery at the moment. I have a couple of projects brewing, both contemporary YA romances that have me inspired and excited. I can’t imagine writing anything other than contemporary YA romance, so I hope to be able to publish more books that are similar to Kissing Max Holden, The Impossibility of Us, and How the Light Gets In. Also, one of my favorite writer friends and I are in the earliest stages of planning something collaborative, which has been so much fun so far!

Any advice for aspiring authors?

Read as much as you can, both in the category/genre you write, and widely. Pay attention to your strong reactions, both positive and negative. Identify what the author did to invoke that reaction in you. Was it a fantastic twist? A super satisfying character arch? A line of beautiful dialogue? Studying and absorbing the practiced, polished writing in published books will do wonders for your own writing. 

About the Author – Katy Upperman

KatyKaty Upperman is a wife, mama, author, reader, baker, and wanderer. She writes novels for teens and teens at heart. She’s a Washington State University alum (go Cougs!), a country music fanatic, and a makeup stockpiler. She loves the ocean, pedicures, sunshine, Instagram, Dirty Dancing and The Princess Bride, Jelly Bellies, true crime documentaries, and Friday Night Lights.

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Just My Luck by Jennifer Honeybourn Blog Tour – Author Interview

About the Book

Marty has terrible luck and she knows exactly why. While working as a housekeeper at the ritzy Grand Palms hotel in Maui, Marty made it a habit to steal small items from the guests. What better way to stick it to the rich snobs they have to clean up after? Marty knows how to turn her luck around — she just has to return all of the items she stole.

When Marty meets Will, a new guest who is staying for the summer, she does the one thing she always promised herself she’d never do — fall for an out-of-towner. But Will’s special, different from the other guests at the hotel. Maybe Marty’s luck is finally turning around.

After a string of misunderstandings and accidents threaten Will and Marty’s relationship, Marty has to find a way to fix her luck for good — or say goodbye to Will forever.

Interview

What authors/books inspired your writing?

So many authors have inspired me — and continue to inspire me: Susin Nielson, Stephanie Perkins, Sandy Hall, Becky Albertalli, Emma Mills, Jenn Bennett, Lily Anderson, Rebecca Stead…just to name a few.

Did you always know you wanted to write Young Adult? Do you see yourself writing New Adult or Adult sometime?

I’ve always loved young adult books, so it felt like a natural fit for me when I started writing seriously about ten years ago. Over the past year, I’ve branched into middle grade and I’m really having a lot of fun writing those stories and hope to see them on the shelves one day. I do have an adult book that’s been kicking around in my head for ages that I plan to tackle someday.

Do you have any writing exercises or habits?

Writing is now my job, so I’m at my desk around nine in the morning on weekdays and I work until about three, unless I’m on a deadline, then I’ll sometimes work evenings and weekends, too.  I used to write in coffee shops before I had a home office.  

How do you deal with writer’s block?

If I’m feeling blocked, it usually means that I’m going in the wrong direction with a scene. I’ll take a short break and let my mind work out the problem, then I’ll take on the scene from a different angle. That usually works. I’ve also used the pomodoro method — just writing whatever for 25 minutes, see what comes out — and that has helped, too.

Do you have a special connection to any of your characters?

I love all my characters, but I have to say Wesley from WESLEY JAMES RUINED MY LIFE holds a special place in my heart. I love his optimism and sense of humor. I also love writing Shelby, my main character in WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU DEMONS.

What is your ideal spot for a summer vacation?

I love to travel and I love to go to different places. This year, we’re heading down the east coast, so I’m looking forward to exploring Washington, DC and Charleston, South Carolina. But in terms of destinations I’ve already been to, I’d have to pick Maui. I love Hawaii, it’s one of my favorite places in the world, which is why I set JUST MY LUCK there.     

What can we hope to see from you in the future?

I’ve written a few middle grade novels that I’m pretty excited about, so hopefully those will be published someday soon.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Keep writing! WESLEY JAMES RUINED MY LIFE, my debut novel, wasn’t published until I was forty. I truly believe talent is only part of it — the rest is hard work and perseverance, learning as much as you can about your craft, reading as much as you can in all genres, and a little bit of luck.

About the Author – Jennifer Honeybourn

JenniferJennifer Honeybourn works in corporate communications in Vancouver, British Columbia. She’s a fan of British accents, Broadway musicals, and epic, happily-ever-after love stories. If she could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, she’d have high tea with Walt Disney, JK Rowling, and her nana. She lives with her husband, daughter and cat in a house filled with books. Wesley James Ruined My Life is her first novel.

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Within Ash and Stardust by Chani Lynn Feener Blog Tour – Author Interview

About the Book

Having gone from kidnapped faux princess to the legitimate heir to an intergalactic throne, an impulsive, sarcastic teen must take charge of her own destiny in this epic YA novel.

On Earth, Delaney is a normal teenager who recently graduated high school with a fantastic best friend and a loving boyfriend.

But Delaney isn’t on Earth. She’s on Xenith, a war-torn planet half a galaxy away. Originally mistaken for an alien princess, Delaney has gone from kidnapped imposter to the recognized heir to an alien throne. Oh, and she’s engaged to the prince of an enemy nation whose ruthless father is on the warpath.

Torn between two planets, two fates, and two loves, Delaney is finally ready to choose her own destiny in Within Ash and Stardust, the stunning conclusion to Chani Lynn Feener’s Xenith Trilogy.



Praise for the Xenith Trilogy:
“A thoughtful, sexy adventure with winning characters just begging for a bedtime read.” —VOYA on Amid Stars and Darkness

“Feener’s world-building is excellent, and readers will feel engulfed in the culture, politics, and technology. The romance between Delaney and Ruckus develops slowly and satisfyingly. Give to fans of Melissa Landers’s Alienated and Ally Condie’s Matched.” —School Library Journal on Amid Stars and Darkness

“This debut makes for fun, fluffy reading.” —Booklist on Amid Stars and Darkness

“[A] pulse-pounding adventure.” —Booklist on Between Frost and Fury

Interview

What authors and/or books inspired your writing?

There are a lot of authors who inspire me, and keep me interested in writing. Whenever I read a good book I feel excited about the whole process and immediately want to go write something, so really I’d say most authors make that list. A few of my favorites, that are always instant buys for me, are Maggie Stiefvater and Marissa Marr.

What is your ideal writing setting (at a desk, outside, with tea/coffee, etc)?

I like to work at my desk with coffee. Always coffee. My desk is set up so that everything I might need last minute is in reaching distance—highlighters, extra pens, notebooks filled with notes on past projects, etc.—and I collaged the walls with pictures and stuff that I like and inspires me, so it’s the best place for me to work. When I’m surrounded by things I enjoy, it’s easier for me to focus. I also get easily distracted elsewhere; like if I tried working in the school library or the local coffee shop, I’d get so distracted by all of the people and people watching.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

I have two methods. The first is to take a break and let my mind wander to something else. A lot of the time this helps. Getting burned out happens to everyone, so it’s good to give yourself a break and try not to overthink it for a time. Typically I’ll watch a movie or a TV show, or maybe draw or listen to music. If it’s really bad, I’ll plan a trip to the bookstore or the aquarium to refresh and hopefully gain new inspiration. If this doesn’t work, I’ll switch to method two, which is attempting to power through it. Sometimes forcing myself to just sit and write despite not feeling inspired eventually leads to good material. I’ll almost always need to delete and rewrite the first few pages I get out, but eventually those bad pages lead to better writing and before I realize I’ve got my flow back.

Do you have a special connection to any of your characters?

Weirdly, I think I have a special connection with Gibus. I just…really love him? He’s always come off a bit “mad scientist” in my mind, quirky and over the top, and sometimes really annoying to have conversations with (I imagine). He’s also really loyal, and overly curious, and I’ve always loved how he lives in that gray area. I mean, he is part of the reason Delaney was in this mess in the first place—what kind of inventor doesn’t keep track of his super dangerous inventions?!—and that was after he’d already been told to scrap the project entirely. I’d love to just write a book about Gibus being Gibus. I feel like that would be a ton of fun.

How did you feel when AMID STARS AND DARKNESS was picked up by Swoon Reads?

I’m not sure elated is a strong enough word, but that’s what comes to mind first. I remember getting the email to set up the phone meeting, and not wanting to get my hopes up for what that might mean. After the conversation I literally jumped around my room like a child—it would have been super embarrassing if anyone else was home at the time. It’s a big deal, when someone comes to you and says “Hey, you know that dream you’ve had for most your life? It’s about to come true”. It was both surreal and exciting all at once.

Which book of the trilogy was the most difficult to write?

Probably the final book. There were just so many things I wanted to fit into it and wrap up, and it was difficult to do that and still keep a balance with everything. There were also a lot of major plot changes that took place between the first and final drafts, so the book was constantly morphing into something else as we worked through it—which isn’t a bad thing, it just took a lot of time. I enjoyed writing it a lot, and really like how it all ended up, but it definitely was the most difficult out of the entire trilogy.

What can we hope to see from you in the future?

So far, I have another trilogy releasing in October, this one about Unseelie Faeries. I’m still writing a lot and trying to put other projects out there, so hopefully in the years to come you’ll be seeing more of me!

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

To stick with it and write. It’s really easy to put off writing because life gets busy and you’re not sure if it’ll go anywhere anyway, but don’t focus on that. You’ll never know if you don’t try. Even if the final project isn’t what you hoped for, writing a book is a big accomplishment, and if that’s something you’ve always wanted to do, you should.

 

About the Author – Chani Lynn Feener

ChaniChani Lynn Feener has wanted to be a writer since the age of ten during fifth grade story time. She majored in Creative Writing at Johnson State College in Vermont, and graduated in 2012. To pay her bills, she has worked many odd jobs, including, but not limited to, telemarketing, order picking in a warehouse, and filling ink cartridges. When she isn’t writing, she’s binging TV shows, drawing, or frequenting zoos/aquariums. Chani is also the author of teen paranormal series, the Underworld Saga, originally written under the penname Tempest C. Avery. She currently resides in Connecticut, but lives on Goodreads.com.

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Who would you take with you to travel the stars? 

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Sky Parlor by Stephen Perkins – Book Blitz


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Sci-fi Fantasy Thriller
Date Published: June 2019
Publisher: Star Born Publishing


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From the dawn of mankind…

Through America’s Civil War and into the distant future…

Two ancient gods have made romance and waged war…

After the Great Rapture…

Will Sky Parlor become their final battlefield?



Do we ever really die? Or, do we return to live again with those we knew before? In the future, will man and machine learn to procreate?  For generations, the population of Sky Parlor has believed that, long ago, the lands beyond their domed city were made uninhabitable by the “Great Rapture”.

When young Desmond Starr is appointed Alderman for Sky Parlor’s borough of Columbia, he is guided by a benevolent spirit during a dream’s strange vision and learns a hidden truth, exposing a shocking lie that has persisted for centuries. As rumors of a vast deception spread among Sky Parlor’s population, the president and his governing “sustainability” council propose what appears to be the perfect but distracting solution: An inspiring journey to a mysterious and distant world!

But does this grand proposal mask an ulterior agenda? Will a rebellious young man discover his own fate is bound not only to Sky Parlor, but to the survival of humanity?


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About the author:

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NEW! The highly-anticipated kindle E-book release of science fiction/fantasy/supernatural/suspense/thriller Sky Parlor is now live on Amazon, with discounted print editions soon to follow later on this June! The new release promises to be a superlative edition to the growing popularity of author Stephen C. Perkins exciting, thrilling, and often controversial brand of literary fiction. After visiting amazon.com/author/stephenperkins for a complete list of his available titles, stop by for a visit and begin following the author on Twitter (Twitter.com@RAGEOFWORDS).



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See No More by Whitney Dineen – Book Blitz

See No More
W.B. Dineen
Publication date: July 2nd 2019
Genres: Adult, Thriller

Thirty-three-year-old music therapist, Kate Randolph, is at the top of her professional game. Her life is happily on track, until she receives a phone call announcing the death of the man who abounded her when she was eight-years-old. Kate has no interest in going to her father’s funeral, but soon realizes she must confront the past to move forward.

While in Oregon, Kate discovers why her scientist/father disappeared, and what she learns will set her on a path that will change her life forever.
With her father’s good friend, Jake, she uncovers conspiracies beyond imagination. She learns of secret societies, cover-ups, and that and the planet is in jeopardy from both terrestrial and extraterrestrial threats.

With the aid of a mysterious stranger, Kate must help save the world. Can she stay alive long enough to succeed?

“Dineen writes in a sharp, lively prose that is equally comfortable rendering emotional domestic moments, flashy action sequences, and humorous observations. The premise is wonderfully mysterious and immediately gripping. An expansive thriller that satisfies every absent-father fantasy.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A thriller filled with twists, turns, and many layers that unfold in the most wonderful, unexpected ways. This book is simply awesome.” —Readers’ Favorite, 5/5 Stars

“One of the year’s best thrillers, See No More is a near-perfect blend of sci-fi and spy fiction. Credit author W.B. Dineen with creating a powerful novel about personal identity wrapped within a breathtaking thriller. Sure to please fans of both Douglas E. Richards and Daniel Silva ” —BestThrillers.com

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EXCERPT:

Oregon is the greenest state I’ve ever seen. Abundant, lush foliage carpets gentle, rolling hills as far as the eye can see. Farmland abuts forested areas. It’s breathtakingly gorgeous, and I can definitely see how someone could get lost here.

The green landscape whizzes by and hypnotizes me as my brain begins to wander. I think of my childhood in Pasadena, just off the Caltech campus. We didn’t live in opulence, but we lived comfortably. Jen and I went to the private polytechnic school down the street from our house. It was where a lot of the professors’ kids went. I don’t know how my mom was able to afford to keep sending us there after Dad left, but we spent all twelve years of our education happily ensconced within its walls.

Caltech was my playground when I was very little. My dad taught aeronautics and applied physics. In the summer, I used to run through campus and meet him in the green space in front of Beckman Laboratories for picnics. I remember lying on a blanket next to him discussing the possibility of him shrinking me some day like in the movie Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

He used to look around all shifty-eyed before leaning toward me and whispering, “Can you keep a secret?” Of course, I always said I could. He’d respond, “I’m closing in on the technology and I should be able to do it by the end of the year! What do you think we should do with all the money we’ll make once I sell the patent to my people-shrinking machine?”

Then we’d plot what to do with our newfound riches. I wanted to spend a month at Disneyland before spending another month at Universal Studios in Orlando. Dad wanted to take my mom on a honeymoon, because they’d never gone on a real one. Then we tried to decide which house we’d buy. I had my eye on one we passed during our weekly walks to Huntington Gardens. It was a two-and-a-half story Spanish Colonial Revival with a pool. My dad joked that he wasn’t sure it would be big enough for the four of us, even though it had to be at least five times the size of our bungalow.

Memories burst through my subconscious like a storm-engorged river breaching a failing dam. As soon as one pops into my mind, at least thirty more push their way forward with unstoppable force. I’m sitting on the plaid blanket we always used for our picnics, and my dad says, “Katie, life is never what you perceive it to be.” Then I’m lying in bed and he whispers, “Believe the unbelievable. Things are never what you think they are.” Suddenly, I’m flying through the warm Southern California breeze on my bicycle, and he yells out, “Just because you think these are trees, doesn’t make them trees. Always be open to the truth. Believe in what you can’t see.”

In retrospect, it’s clear he was trying to prepare me for something. At the time I just remember thinking, Silly, Daddy, of course they’re trees. What else would they be? In my child’s eye, everything was exactly as it appeared. My dad was my rock, my mom and sister were ever-present love and comfort, the sky was blue, and life was good. Until it wasn’t.

Author Bio:

Whitney loves to laugh, play with her kids, bake, and eat french fries — not always in that order.

Whitney is a multi-award-winning author of romcoms, non-fiction humor, and middle reader fiction. Basically, she writes whatever the voices in her head tell her to.

She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband, Jimmy, where they raise children, chickens, and organic vegetables.

Gold Medal winner at the International Readers’ Favorite Awards, 2017.

Silver medal winner at the International Readers’ Favorite Awards, 2015, 2016.

Finalist RONE Awards, 2016.

Finalist at the IRFA 2016, 2017.

Finalist at the Book Excellence Awards, 2017

Finalist Top Shelf Indie Book Awards, 2017

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What You Did by Willow Rose – Blog Tour

About the Book

Former FBI-profiler Eva Rae Thomas faces the most personal case in her career, as bestselling author Willow Rose’s new hit-series continues.

Three girls disappear on prom night at the local high school. One of them is the prom queen.

FBI profiler Eva Rae Thomas is chasing her long-lost sister when detective— and boyfriend — Matt Miller asks her to join the investigation of the three girls’ disappearance. They were last seen walking home together after the dance.

When the body of a young girl shows up in her backyard, Eva Rae knows she can no longer watch from the sidelines, and soon she realizes not only is she involved in this investigation, she’s also this killer’s target.

About the Author

The Queen of Scream aka Willow Rose is a #1 Amazon Best-selling Author and an Amazon ALL-star Author of more than 60 novels.

She writes Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal, Romance, Suspense, Horror, Supernatural thrillers, and Fantasy.

Willow’s books are fast-paced, nail-biting pageturners with twists you won’t see coming. Several of her books have reached the Kindle top 10 of ALL books in the US, UK, and Canada. She has sold more than three million books.

Willow lives on Florida’s Space Coast with her husband and two daughters. When she is not writing or reading, you will find her surfing and watch the dolphins play in the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

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The Sum of All Tears by Kim Cresswell and M.K. Chester Blog Tour – Guest Post

About the Book

The Day after Tomorrow meets Mad Max, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Hunger Games in this enthralling post‑apocalyptic dystopian adventure with a paranormal twist.

In the near future, after her father’s climate change experiment goes terribly wrong, twenty-two-year-old environmental studies student, August Madison, finds herself resurrected in a frozen wasteland. With most of the world’s population and food sources annihilated, depraved nomadic gangs patrol the lawless landscape as outlasters claw for survival. Even old friends become unrecognizable.

Amid the chaos, Graysen Marx, iron-fisted leader of the domed settlement Liberty, emerges from the catastrophic event with his own agenda—collecting only those who exhibit unexplained abilities. When August crosses his path, he sees an opportunity he must exploit. She sees an evil she must destroy. In a treacherous new world where anyone could be a savior or savage, August discovers her true purpose. And only the strongest will survive.

Guest Post

Where were you born/grew up at?

Kim: I was born in Etobicoke (Toronto), Ontario Canada. When I was two, my parents divorced, and we moved to London, Ontario. I’ve been here ever since.

M.K.: I was born and raised in and around Columbus, Ohio, USA, with the brief excursion to Phoenix, Arizona when I was little. I’m not sure it counts since I barely remember it.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

Kim: I enjoy reading, taking long walks to clear my mind, and spending time with my adult kids and friends.

M.K.: I like to read, watch TV and movies, the usual. As a new homeowner, I’m also finding new things to enjoy, like redecorating, gardening and birdwatching.

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

Kim: Funny, kind, crazy, caring, and a loyal friend.

M.K.: Sarcastic, loyal, quiet, caring, and empathetic.

Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?

Kim: I have always envisioned my Whitney Steel series (Reflection, Retribution, Resurrect) as movies. They are high-octane romantic thrillers and would work well as movies.

M.K.:  When I write, I usually see the story unfolding in my mind as if it were a movie, but I can honestly say that Icehaven would be the most exciting to both create and view as a movie.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Kim: My spirit animal would be an Owl, emblematic of a deep connection with wisdom and intuitive knowledge.

M.K.: My spirit animal has always been a polar bear, which represents strength and endurance as well as acceptance and surrender. I have a tattoo to represent this connection.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Kim:  I’m presently working on Invisible Truth, the second book in the thrilling Assassin Chronicles series. M.K. Chester and I will be writing Liberty, the second book in the Sum of all Tears series beginning in July.

M.K: I’m working right now on polishing the second book in the New South series, titled Ten Days.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Icehaven? 

M.K.: We wanted the characters to be relatable—they could be someone you know—who are thrown into this new world and have to find the strength to survive. Strong heroines are a must, and August is a character who shows remarkable growth through her trials. Her love interest likewise has to be able to keep up with her, while handling his own responsibilities at the same time. I always think villains are the most fun to write, and we enjoyed making our antagonist both relatable and a worthy opponent.

Where did you come up with the names in the story?

Kim: I use a random name generator and with M.K.’s input, we were able to find interesting and unique names for our characters.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Kim: What I enjoyed most about writing Icehaven is the story was very different from my other books, a completely different genre. 

M.K.: It’s different than anything I’ve written and really enjoyed getting to jump outside the romance genre.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Kim: Not at all. Icehaven is exactly the way I envisioned the story.

M.K.: Nope. There is nothing I would do differently, as the entire process built me up as a writer.

Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book? 

Kim: I learned how how much I love writing dystopian fiction, and also how resilient characters can be. Very much like life, we adapt and come out stronger no matter what is thrown at us.

M.K.: I learned that mixing genres can be awesome! I loved getting a little taste of everything, from romance to post-apocalyptic fiction, very outside the box I’d been working in.

Anything specific you and M.K. Chester want to tell your readers?

We hope readers have a chance to read Icehaven. At the story’s core, the book is about duty, sacrifice, choices, and consequences. It’s an emotional blend that asks the basic questions, “What would you do?”

And thank you to our fans of the Sum of all Tears series. It’s because of you that we will continue to write new books in the series. We appreciate your support. 

If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?

The candle would smell like citrus, green bamboo, patchouli, and musk. Of course, we’d call it Icehaven.

How long have you both been writing?

Kim:  For many decades. I knew I wanted to be a professional writer while working at our public library at the age of seventeen. I remember reading Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls and from that moment I wanted to be an author. It seemed like a farfetched idea back then. Life, marriage, and kids put my dream on hold until 2012 when I decided it was time to take my writing seriously. It really was now or never. With my first book, Reflection, I landed two literary agents. Since then, I’ve published over 20+ works: novels, short stories, and anthologies.

M.K: I started writing stories for my own entertainment when I was ten but didn’t get serious about things until almost twenty years later. The Internet played a big role in my growth (and it’s how Kim and I met) and I know I’d be writing whether I ever published or not. As a history geek, historical romance was a natural fit and most of my published work fits that mold. After a layoff in 2017, I was also able to use my skills as a copywriter, a role I still enjoy.

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?

Kim:  I love reading! My favorite genres are dystopian, romantic and action thrillers.

M.K.: I was a reader first and will always be a reader. I read a lot of romance, but also enjoy military fiction and historical fiction and biographies.

Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?

Kim:  I usually only write one book at a time so I can focus on the characters and the story.

M.K.:  I have several projects at various stages of completion, but it’s best for me to focus on no more than two at any given time (one, if I’m being honest!).

Pen or type writer or computer?

Kim: I write on a laptop and use pen and paper if I’m stuck on a scene. I find moving away from the computer always helps me get unstuck.

M.K.: I prefer to type. I have MS and it’s affected my hands, so it’s always easier to type. I have my desktop, laptop and iPad set up for typing.

Describe your writing style.

Kim: I would describe my writing style as cinematic. My books are like watching a movie.

M.K.:  My style reflects deep narratives with redemption themes, so it often seems like getting to peer over the character’s shoulder.

What makes a good story?

Kim: What makes a great story is a solid and interesting plot, lots of action, and emotion…emotion…emotion. If I don’t feel a story, I walk away from it.

MK: Definitely emotion—but if the events don’t make sense to me, I can walk away.

What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?

Kim: My writing process has always been the same. First, I write the draft back cover blurb. I can’t start a book unless I do. Then I select a title and begin plotting out each chapter, so I have a map to work with. After those are completed, I sit down and start writing the first chapter. Of course, things can change but generally, I stick with my plot outline quite closely.

M.K: The opposite of Kim’s! I often begin with a character. I know who they are and then find a situation in which they can learn and grow. I usually write straight through but will occasionally write out of sequence. I use Deb Dixon’s GMC to ensure conflict is working.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

Kim: I love coming up with unique plots and characters which I do believe readers want and expect.

M.K.: Both, if it’s possible. I like to take characters who may be questionable in one way or another and make readers love them.

 

About the Authors – Kim Cresswell and M.K. Chester

Kim CresswellKim Cresswell resides in Ontario, Canada and is the bestselling and award-winning author of the action-packed WHITNEY STEEL series.

Her romantic thriller, Reflection (A Whitney Steel Novel – Book One), has won numerous awards including RomCon®’s 2014 Readers’ Crown Finalist (Romantic Suspense), InD’tale Magazine 2014 Rone Award Finalist (Suspense/Thriller), UP Authors Fiction Challenge Winner, Silicon Valley’s Romance Writers of America (RWA) “Gotcha” contest. Kim also signed a 3-book German translation deal with LUZIFER Verlag for the first three books in the series: Reflection, Retribution and Resurrect. Lethal Journey won RomCon®’s 2014 Readers’ Crown (Thriller).

The Assassin Chronicles TV series was in development with Council Tree Productions. The TV series is based on Kim’s upcoming 4-book paranormal/supernatural thriller series: Deadly Shadow (May 2018), Invisible Truth, Assassin’s Prophecy, and Vision of Fire.

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MK ChesterM.K. Chester is an RWA award-winning author of historical and contemporary romance. Her first novel, Surrender to the Roman, is currently published with Carina Press. Her three-book historical series, Bryeton Books, focuses on love, loss and redemption in small town America at the turn of the 20th century, while her latest release, Crashed, is the first book in the contemporary New South Series. 

M.K. is a native Buckeye who lives in Tennessee. She’s married to a veteran, recently became a MoM (Mother of Marine), and will soon become a grandmother. She adores her Scottish Terriers and is fighting MS.

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Blog Tour – Silent River excerpt + Giveaway

About the Book

A gripping psychological thriller inspired by true events. 

Robert Collins is Portland’s best investigative detective. When the Stevens family goes missing, he goes to work. As he uncovers clues the family may have been targeted for a professional hit by organized crime, it gets personal. 

Too personal. Can he face down his inner demons before he loses himself? 

He confronts the mob and police bureaucracy to find the missing family. Jake, partner and friend, thinks he’s spiraling into obsession, when Robert’s taken off the case but refuses to give up the investigation. 

Can he get past this shameless tragedy and his own past to move on with his life? 

Silent River is a fictionalized version of a real investigation in the late 1950s in Portland, Oregon, a time when money and power ruled the city. This story will appeal to fans of true crime and detective fiction alike. Readers who enjoy Ann Rule, Rex Stout, and Mary Higgins Clark will love CM Weaver.

Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Detective Robert Collins absently swigged the lukewarm coffee that he’d bought on his way to work that morning. A few officers sat at their desks. Monday mornings usually weren’t this quiet.

He pushed open the door to his office. He detested the institutional green walls. His desk was falling apart, no matter how many times he nailed and glued the drawers back together. He threw his coat at the stand along with his hat. It slid on the curled wood and stayed. The hat twirled but remained in its place. Robert didn’t bother to watch as he sat the cup on the stained desk and gingerly sat in the wooden, rolling, office chair. It hated him and had dumped him on the floor a few times.

His inbox overflowed with reports for follow-up and notes on cases he needed to read. There were times when he wished he had a regular nine-to-five job, and this was one of those times. He’d pulled an all-nighter last night, and the subject of the stakeout had played him like a cat with a toy mouse.

The sound of taps on leather shoes echoed as it moved toward his office. The announcement of Nate Polentti was not a welcome sound to Robert. He cringed as the tapping stopped at his door.

“So, you and Jake got some “prime beef” last night.” Nate’s nasal tone grated on his nerves. “Why do you guys seem to get all the bribes? Oh, that’s right, you two passed through the cleanup with flying colors. Makes a person think now, doesn’t it? You made front page news. I wonder how my uncle, Chief Gilmore, is going to take this.” Nate gave a dry laugh as he slapped the newspaper down in front of Robert. The tapping seemed more pronounced as Nate walked away.

The paper unfolded, allowing Robert to see a large picture, above the fold, of an unmarked police car. The driver’s arm rested on the frame of the open window. Thankfully, it was just an arm, he thought. He looked closer at the grainy picture. The prime target of the photographer centered on the person in the background. A white-jacketed waiter walked away from the car, balancing a tray that bore the remains of two sumptuous dinners.

The headline read: Are There Still Cops on the Take? The article stated that two police officers were seen eating prime rib dinners provided by a known mob leader who had arrived in Portland to possibly open a casino in the area.

The phone rang. Robert fumbled around under the paper until he found the receiver. He answered, not taking his eyes from the article.

“Collins here.”

“Robert, we got a call for you to report to Stan.” The dispatcher gave the address. He pulled a pen and pad from his pocket and jotted down the information. As if it were one complete motion, he jammed his long arms into the sleeves of his coat, positioned his fedora over his dark blond crew cut, and hurried through the office.

In the car, he turned the key and pressed the gas pedal. He headed down Alder Street to Sandy. Following Sandy Boulevard, the traffic kept him to the speed limit, and the drive to Fifty-Seventh Avenue took a little longer than usual. He’d hit the end of the rush hour and everyone heading to work. He poked down the street, looking for the address he’d been given.

The houses were well kept. Robert saw people milling on the sidewalks ahead and parked behind a squad car. He looked at the situation and didn’t see anything that would need a gun drawn, so he got out and slid his hat in place, running his fingers along the brim. He made his way through the crowd of people the officers tried to keep on their front lawns.

“Hey, what’s happened?” a reporter called out. “Who’s missing?”

“Stan!” Robert called to a man just going up the front steps of the house.

“Took you long enough,” Stan taunted.

“Took you long enough to call. Couldn’t handle it on your own?”

“I thought you should earn some of those taxpayers’ dollars instead of just reading the sports pages at your desk on Monday morning.”

“Yeah, well, thanks. What have we got here?” He followed Stan into the living room. A man and a woman sat on the couch talking to one of the officers.

“This is Tom and Maggie Borman. She claims something happened to her brother and his family.” Stan consulted his black book, “A Karl and Debra Stevens and their three girls. Mrs. Borman, this is Detective Robert Collins. Would you tell him what you told me?”

Maggie Borman wore a beige sweater over a plaid shirt and pleated brown skirt. Her salt-and-pepper hair was pulled into a French roll at the back of her head. She was in her late forties; her brows were furrowed over her brown eyes.

She wrung her hands as she talked. “I called yesterday afternoon to talk to Debra, but they weren’t home. I kept calling until almost midnight. When I got up this morning, I tried again, but there was still no answer. We came over here and because I have a key for emergencies, we went in to check. I didn’t find anything missing or any reason they wouldn’t have come home last night.” Her voice broke, and she began to cry.

“Was the lock forced?” Robert asked Stan.

“No, and we couldn’t find any of the windows forced open either. Everything is locked up tight.”

“Can you give me their names, ages, and descriptions?” he turned to the woman.

“Karl Stevens is my brother; he is fifty-four. Debra, his wife, is forty-eight. Kelly is fourteen; Darla is twelve, and Sara is ten years old.” Tom spoke the names while Maggie filled in the ages.

“Do you have any idea what they might have been wearing?” Robert asked.

“No, I can only guess. I know that Debra would have been wearing a dress, and the girls were probably wearing pedal pushers, shirts, and maybe either a sweater or a jacket.”

“Is there anyone they might have gone to visit? Someone they spent the night with? There has been some snow up the Columbia River Gorge.” Robert directed the questions, while Stan stood to one side looking at his notepad and adding any details he hadn’t thought to ask.

Maggie shook her head. “They would have called me,” she muttered into her handkerchief.

When Maggie could not continue, Robert left them in Stan’s care and walked through the house. He watched a team of men search for any clues. The house was clean, but the Sunday paper lay on the side table, as if Mr. Stevens had just put the sections down after reading them. The comic pages had been divided, and some were on the floor while others were folded on the coffee table.

The kitchen had been used, for breakfast dishes soaked in oily water.

He opened the fridge, but there was no roast waiting to be put in the oven. His mom liked to have a roast cooking when they came home after church. He took a deep breath, remembering the smell that greeted the family as they all trooped through the door after the church service. This family either ate before going to church or didn’t go that Sunday. What would cause this family to skip church?

Taking a quick look in the bedrooms upstairs, he saw the parent’s bedroom. No clothes lying around; the items on the vanity were lined up on the runner. A quick check in the closet revealed no suitcases; he’d check the hall closet later. The next door down the short hall had the name “Kelly” written on a card tacked to the door. Inside, there wasn’t anything out of place—too neat for a teenager. He stepped inside. The bed had perfect hospital corners, the books so neat they were aligned by height. With his pen, he hooked the desk drawer and pulled it open. All the pens and pencils were in neat rows, small to large, sharpened to a point.

He looked for any notes she might have left, but the notepad was blank. He would have the guys bag it and bring it to him at the office, along with her schoolbag.

All the drawers held her clothes neatly folded in vertical stacks. Robert opened the closet door to see dresses, blouses, and skirts hanging in even spaces. She must have been obsessive about her room, which wasn’t normal in his book. He had no sisters, but he did have a brother who would sleep in and on his clothes. He backed out of the door, taking one more look at the dresser, small desk, bed, and night table with a single lamp.

Two cards with “Sara” and “Darla” printed on them were stuck to the next door. The beds were made, but not as neatly as Kelly’s. A wicker basket of folded clothes sat on each bed, ready to be put away. A bookshelf held books and games stuffed haphazardly on the shelves, some of the pieces falling out of the half-closed boxes. Schoolbags in this room peeked out from under the beds, nothing out of the ordinary.

He opened the last door in the hallway and found a stairway to the attic. A door at the top was closed but it opened when he turned the knob. A bedroom. He sniffed. A boy’s room. Perhaps a boarder? A single bed with a quilt over it, a short dresser, a chair, and an empty closet. He turned and went down the stairs. 6

 

Back on the main floor, he made a note that there was no sign of a struggle and no note left on the pad near the phone or on the refrigerator, where most people would leave one if they were going out of town.

In the basement, he touched the sawdust furnace. Still warm, even though the fire was out. It must have been going for quite a while before the fire died from lack of fuel. Robert judged it to have been out about four or five hours.

In the living room, the Christmas tree was decorated, a Santa suit lay neatly over a chair, and a bag of candy canes lay right next to it. A few Christmas decorations adorned the windows. Probably done by the girls, he thought. It was December 7, 1958, and Christmas was just around the corner. Not a time for a family to go missing. The Bormans remained on the couch, watching the officers.

“Mrs. Borman, who else might have a key to the house?”

“No one that I know of, but anyone could get in, the back door is never locked.”

Robert frowned; he turned and walked back to the kitchen. Maggie stood and followed him. He stood looking at the lock, a standard, turn knob with a button-slide, locking mechanism. Maggie reached past him toward the knob. Robert pushed her hand down, intercepting her reach.

“What!?” Maggie gasped.

“Fingerprints. If this door is normally unlocked, someone locked it. We will need to fingerprint the lock. We’ll need your prints to disqualify you, and we’ll have the others in the house. Anyone different, we will need to question them. I’m sorry I startled you.”

“That’s okay.”

He met Stan on the porch.

“What do you think?” Stan asked.

“Mrs. Borman said they never went anywhere overnight that they didn’t notify her first. It’s possible this might be the exception. Let’s question the neighbors and see what comes up.”

“I have a team already on it, though we are shorthanded if you want to help out.”

“Always ready to help, after all, this could be my department—homicide.”

Robert talked to the occupants in the house next to the Stevens and one person across the street. None had seen anything that morning or the day before. One family had been gone all day, and the other had sick children and hadn’t been outside.

~~~

“Hey, Robert, the chief wants you in his office right away.” Deputy Nate’s grin almost wrapped around his head as he made the announcement.

Robert ground his teeth and nodded at the young man. The kid must have his ear on the phone every moment.

At the office of Chief Arnold Gilmore, better known as Arnie, he rapped his knuckles firmly and waited for an answer.

“Come in,” the gruff voice called out.

Robert opened the door, but the chief was on the phone. The man waved him to a seat across from him and finished his conversation.

“Good to see you, Collins. What are you working on right now?” Chief Gilmore had a balding, round head with a few wisps of white hair that grew near his left ear and were pasted across the top of his head almost to his right ear. He had a barrel of a chest and a stomach that overshot his belt buckle if he had one on. He wore wide suspenders that crossed over at his shoulder blades.

“The usual, sir. Following mob bosses who show up in our city and have to submit to their haranguing the department to the media, who then make us look like fools.” He tried to keep the bitterness out of his voice, but he was sure the irony was not lost on the chief.

Arnie laughed. “Yes, I saw your picture in the paper this morning. Was that your arm or Jake’s?”

“Mine, sir.”

“Don’t worry about it. The hoopla’s over. The man you were watching was here to put a deal together to buy a plot of land on Sauvie Island. He planned to build a casino here. Wanted to build a little Las Vegas.” Robert frowned and leaned closer to ask if that had happened. Arnie continued. “No, it didn’t happen. It’s rained here for the past two weeks. The area he wanted to see is flooded with about a foot of water. He’d been heard to say, ‘Who would want to live in this godforsaken place, much less want to visit here?’ He had his dinner Sunday night with his boys and now is probably back in sunny Las Vegas.”

“For once, thank goodness for our rain.” Robert sighed.

“Yes, that might be true, but a casino would have brought in jobs and money to the community.”

Robert schooled his expression. He was against legalizing gambling. It was bad enough they had their own little organized crime gang running the city.

“Jobs. Yes, we would have had to hire more men, build bigger jails, and then you would have another corrupt department to clean up.”

This time Robert didn’t bother to hide his sarcasm. “Yes, we can be thankful that it isn’t going to happen. One cleanup was enough. I never want to go through that again.”

Robert had just become a deputy when someone sent large envelopes to the governor, the Oregonian, and the Journal. Inside were pictures, dates, and the names of cops who were on the take. The photos were so incriminating that there was nothing left for the governor to do but initiate a city-wide sweep. There were still officers and high officials who were on trial.

“Robert, I want you to work with Stan on this missing persons case. He specifically asked for you. You file a report regularly. That’s all.” Chief Gilmore dismissed Robert.

Walking down the hall to his office, Robert glanced at the men working. He wondered what they thought when they weren’t buried in police procedures. He’d felt some of their gazes as he passed them, conversations that suddenly stopped or seemed to change.

After the chief called them all in for a meeting and said there were going to be changes, he’d been apprehensive. He liked the chief and thought he did a good job. Then half the department disappeared. Older officers retired early or asked for a transfer. Some were indicted with criminal charges and the few left, like Jake Monroe, his friend, walked softly around some of those who remained. Not all of them agreed with the chief but knew their jobs were a thin line from being terminated.

About the Author – C.M. Weaver

I live and work in the Pacific Northwest. I’m married and take care of a challenged rescue dog, Ariel. I love writing, but don’t write in one particular genre. I do gravitate more to mysteries as I’m always asking “What if?”

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Blog Tour – Author Interview – Danielle Roux

About the Book

Katherine Garnet is a writer who has never cared much about much, making it awfully difficult to create new content. Despite the fact she has the “edge” of being trans (according to her cis male editor) she is not looking to capitalize on her own personal story. Garnet tries to sneak a peek at her rival, August Prather’s, latest fantasy manuscript about a quest for the elixir of life. While reading, Garnet gets accidentally dragged into a bizarre cross-country road trip that may or may not have a purpose and begins to see parallels in the story of the manuscript and the reality of their journey. Along the way, they encounter a parade of equally troubled individuals, including ghost-hunting priests, a robot magician, a discarded piece of furniture, a runaway teenager, and a Japanese rock star. As Garnet confronts her past, she begins to understand why someone might want to live forever.

Interview

What authors/books inspired your writing?

I’m inspired by so many authors and books, I try to read a lot of different genres both fiction and nonfiction. I was influenced to start writing fantasy by the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman that I read when I was in middle school which was so beautifully written and original. I love anything by Neil Gaiman, his use of mythology and fantasy elements in a contemporary setting and his sense of humor are unparalleled. Recently I’ve been inspired by so many of the other authors at The Parliament House Press, they are creative and supportive.    

What is your ideal writing setting (outside, at a desk, etc.)?

I like writing on my couch with pillows and a blanket, with coffee in some form depending on the season. I have a difficult time writing at a desk for some reason. I also prefer to draft with music or a TV show playing rather than silence.

Do you have any writing exercises or habits?

I like to write at night when everyone is asleep so I can get into a scene without getting interrupted. Before writing a novel, I outline some of the plot and then develop the characters with a profile. Sometimes things happen and the characters drive the story in another direction plot-wise.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

Usually I take a shower, take a drive, watch or read something completely different from what I’m writing. Once I take my mind off the scene, it’s easier to write.

What does literary success mean to you?

Literary success is having my work inspire other writers to tell their stories. Also, getting a Netflix series made out of one of my books would be amazing.

What can we hope to see from you in the future?

I have a book coming out later this year from The Parliament House Press that is the first book in a YA urban fantasy series called This Will Kill That. Set in a ruined city where rival Color factions fight for power and an ex-assassin girl falls for the daughter of her rival Color. Psychic powers, ghosts, secrets, and witty banter.

I am also working on a queer Rosemary’s Baby inspired novel about a nerdy introvert who finds out she’s been chosen to give birth to the Anti-Christ. It’s a dark comedy, with witches, demons, and warrior nuns. There’s a demon who looks like a corgi with wings, and a witch named Dave. Once I finish, I will be querying that one, so stay tuned.  

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write what you want to read. Try not to get bogged down by advice and just write your story, if something doesn’t work, it can always be changed in edits. Try not to get too worked up in whether or not your story is the most original or the most creative, if it’s your voice telling the story, then it’s new and it’s different.

About the Author – Danielle K. Roux

DKRoux_Headshot-1Danielle K. Roux is a writer, teacher, and historian. Her first novel August Prather is Not Dead Yet is currently available in e-book and paperback through Parliament House Press (and soon will be available in hardcover and audio book). Danielle has always loved reading and telling stories – especially stories with adventure, mystery, humor, romance and at least a little bit of spookiness. Not Dead Yet has all this covered, with a story-within-a-story structure and a quest for immortality in the early twentieth century paired with a present-day road trip. There’s a lot of existential crisis and a male/male romance that is sweet and steamy.

Danielle has been writing fiction since she was nine, after getting tired of reading from the perspective of white, straight male characters in fantasy novels. Her first written story involved a group of middle school girls who find necklaces used by a dead witch that give them supernatural powers. It was written in notebooks in purple and green gel pens that are currently housed in a box in her linen closet. She is inspired by travelling to new places and reading about the stories tied to landscapes. She has at least three novels building in her brain (or wherever novels come from) and wishes she was writing them all right now.

Danielle lives with her wife and two orange cats in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has added a lot of young adult fantasy fiction to her bookshelves recently, and regrets nothing. Her dream library would be accessed through a secret door and look something like the library in the animated Disney Beauty and the Beast, although it would also have a cute barista or sentient coffee machine that once was said barista.

When she isn’t writing or thinking about writing, Danielle is building houses in the Sims, listening to podcasts, or taking Buzzfeed quizzes to find out what kind of tree she is based on her hair color. She has recently been watching lots of old BBC period pieces, and some of them are good. She has begun to drink Diet Coke and is worried this might be a real problem. Coffee and tea are still her primary beverages of choice.

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Blog Tour – Switchback excerpt + Giveaway

About the Book

Ashton Hamid knows everything about gaming. His D&D battles are epic; the video game tournaments he organizes, multi-day tests of endurance with players around the world. Real life, however, is a different matter. So when he and his best friend—outspoken “A” student (and social outcast) Vale Shumway—head out on a camping trip to Waterton Lakes National Park with their Phys. Ed. class, Ash figures it’ll be two days of bug bites, bad food, and inside jokes.

Instead, the two friends find themselves in a fight for survival.

An unexpected October snowstorm separates Ash and Vale from the rest of their class. By the time the teens realize they’ve missed the trail, they have wandered deep into the Canadian Rockies. Lost in the wilderness and hunted by deadly predators, their only hope is to work together. But with Vale’s limited supplies and Ash’s inexperience, can the best friends stay alive long enough to find their way back to civilization?

Excerpt

Vale woke, heart pounding. Her eyes opened in the darkness of the shelter as she struggled to make sense of the strange sound that had woken her. What in the world was that?! Whatever she’d heard was nearby, but groggy from sleep, she couldn’t put a finger on its origin. Maybe it was just a dream. I could have—

“Maaa-a-a-am!”

The plaintive crying appeared a second time. It was high pitched, like a baby or perhaps a child, calling for its mother. Confused, Vale pushed herself up on one elbow. It was almost pitch black inside the lean-to—the light stick having faded into a dull green—but beyond the darkness, a circle of pre-dawn gloom appeared.

“Did you hear that, Ash?” she whispered. “Something outside in the…” She turned and her words faded as she caught sight of the bare patch behind her. She sat motionless, fear filling her like the cold that had spread through her limbs last night. “Ash?!”

He was gone.

Outside the shelter, something moved through the forest. The footsteps sounded like a person walking at a distance, or perhaps a dog moving through the snow. “Maaa-a-a-am!” the voice cried again.

“What the…?” Fighting panic, Vale struggled to pull on her coat, then crawled to the open entrance of the shelter. Her breath released as she stuck her head out the door. “Oh thank God,” she muttered.

A line of footprints headed away from the shelter, into the nearby woods. Though it wasn’t light enough to see yet, Vale suspected Ash had gone to relieve himself. Her eyes widened as she took in the scene beyond the shelter. In the hours since they’d fallen asleep, the seasons had changed. Outside the narrow opening was a winter wonderland; a heavy layer of snow covered every tree, bush, and mountain peak.

“Maaa-a-a-am!”

A branch broke and Vale jerked. From the far side of the forest, a flicker of movement drew her attention. A small shadow appeared, then another… and another. They came forward, appearing by degrees.

“Maaa-a-a-am!” the smallest called.

Vale grinned. It’s just a deer.

The fawn was half-grown. A yearling, at most, the spotted marking of babyhood half-faded on its flanks. Around it, other adult deer walked wraith-like through the trees, moving nervously away from the lean-to.

“Maaa-a-a-am!” the fawn cried again.

Vale watched, breath held, as the fawn passed directly in front of the opening of the hut. The deer held one leg up, its crooked three-legged walk causing her smile to falter. It can hardly keep up with the others. Vale leaned further out the open doorway, her gaze following the herd as they moved further into the trees, and the single fawn, trailing behind. She held her breath. Vale had never been this close to a wild animal before. She wished that Ash was here to see it too.

The fawn stumbled, then glanced back over its shoulder. Its gaze paused anxiously on the shelter, then lifted.

Vale smiled.

“Maaa-a—”

Everything happened at once: The branches directly above the lean-to shifted with a suddenness that shocked Vale into silence, a scream—like a woman’s voice melded with the roar of a lion—loud and near, broke through the wooded glade. Snow pellets smacked Vale’s face. The snow a few feet beyond the shelter exploded as a large golden animal—A cougar!—dropped from the trees straight above the lean-to and pounced on the fawn.

About the Author – Danika Stone

DanikaDanika Stone is an author, artist, and educator who discovered a passion for writing fiction while in the throes of her Masters thesis. A self-declared bibliophile, Danika now writes novels for both teens: INTERNET FAMOUS (Macmillan, 2017) and ALL THE FEELS (Macmillan, 2016); and adults THE DARK DIVIDE (Stonehouse, 2018) and EDGE OF WILD (Stonehouse, 2016). 

Ms. Stone’s work has received both recognition and literary praise. In 2017, Chapters included EDGE OF WILD in “Our Favourite Canadian Fiction”, and INTERNET FAMOUS was nominated for the R. Ross Annett Award for Children’s Literature (2018) as well as selected as one of Fierce Reads’ “9 Perfect Summertime Reads” (2017). EDGE OF WILD (previously entitled TATHAGATA) was a quarter-finalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award (2013), a finalist in the Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize (2015), and took second place in the Publish or Perish contest (2015). ALL THE FEELS was selected for Swoon Reads’ fourth list (2015) and was nominated for YALSA’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (2016), and for CYBILS’ Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards (2016). 

Ms. Stone’s books have been reviewed by VOYA, Teen Reads, and School Library Journal. Danika has also featured in the BN Teen Blog, Clash, Quillable, Fierce Reads, Lethbridge Living Magazine, CJSR’s Word, and on CBC’s Daybreak. 

When not writing, Danika can be found hiking in the Rockies, planning grand adventures, and spending far too much time online. She lives with her husband, three sons, and a houseful of imaginary characters in a windy corner of Alberta, Canada.

Ms. Stone is represented by Morty Mint of Mint Literary Agency.

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