Thursday, June 30, 2016

Author Spotlight and Interview: THE ELECT by Laura Carter

Today I'll be spotlighting the awesome Laura Carter, who has an upcoming YA sci-fi/dystopian release called THE ELECT. Welcome, Laura, and thank you so much for being on the blog today!




Author Bio:
Laura Wadsworth Carter is a native of Oxford, Alabama, and is a graduate of the University of Montevallo. She received a Bachelor of Arts in History in 2008 and a Master of Education in 2009. When not teaching American history to teenagers, hunting for caffeine, or writing fiction, she spends her time with her musical husband, their hilarious toddler whose energy knows no bounds, and two ridiculous dogs. Together, they live in Huntsville, Alabama.


Contact Information:
Email: lauracarterwrites@gmail.com
Website: laurawcarter.wordpress.com
Twitter: @MrsCarterWrites













Summary of THE ELECT:
THE ELECT is a dystopian / sci-fi retelling of David and Goliath inspired by totalitarian governments (North Korea in particular). August, the main character (David) finds himself in a fight to overturn the rule of the Foundation, led by a giant dictator known only to the reader as the Man (Goliath).




Blurb for THE ELECT:
For the past thirteen years, the Foundation has ruled Belstrana with an iron fist and has protected its reign with an army of meticulously programmed child soldiers. As one of those soldiers, seventeen-year- old August has done terrible things to innumerable people, though he wasn’t aware of it at the time. But when one small accident leads to a major awakening for August and three other Young Ones, submission is the last thing on their agenda, and they soon find themselves at the front of a growing rebellion. Embroiled in a fight they have little chance of winning, they soon realize that deception hides behind the most unlikely faces and desperation leads to unthinkable acts. But all they need is a crack, and the Foundation will fall.


Tagline:
One small crack and the Foundation will crumble.


Genre:
Young Adult science fiction / dystopian


Word Count:
74,000


Release Date:


Excerpt:

Through no earnest intention of my own, I find myself awake and lying on my back. A network of gray, steel rafters weave across the ceiling above me, and a lacy netting of cobwebs and dust flutter against them from the cold draft in the room. To my right, a Man in Red grips a thick rope hanging from a bell, and he pulls downward with a huff, sending the bell into a fit of clanging to awaken us. Though I would like nothing more than to remain beneath the wool blanket that’s tucked around my chin, my body propels me into a sitting position as a groan escapes my lips. The cool grit on the floor bites into my bare feet, and my bunkmates, a few dozen boys around my age, mirror my movements with almost identical timing. But when they proceed to stand and straighten their bedding, I hesitate.
I’m caught up in a strange cycle that I know I’ve repeated thousands of times, but it feels new today. In this moment, something has changed. I stand up and run my fingers over my cropped hair and release a slow breath. I’ve spent years in this building, sleeping on this very cot, but the memories are wavy, like my mind has been flooded with fog. I press my palms over my eyes, squeezing them shut.
Most of the boys have now begun to change their clothes. None of them speak, and the silence leaves an eerie pall in the air. Across the room, my behavior has caught the attention of a middle-aged Man in Red. I lock eyes with him, and his expression narrows, folding his dark brows inward as he studies my face. It’s my first indication I’m doing something wrong, and I swoop down and tug the sheet and blanket over my cot, smoothing the wrinkles. I glimpse up and see him now speaking to another Man in Red, and they both watch me. The pistols on their hips and the menacing sneer on their faces remind me that they’re here to keep us in line. And right now, I am out of line.
Not wanting to draw more attention to myself, I hustle to the trunk at the end of my cot and withdraw my uniform. I shrug into the routine brown button-up shirt and matching pants and shove my feet into wool socks and a pair of black boots that pinch my heel. As I reach down to tie the laces, a black mark on my right wrist draws my attention from beneath the cuff of my sleeve. I tug the fabric back and see the thick outline of a triangle tattooed into the tender skin above the tendons and veins. The fingers of my left hand trace the symbol as I search my mind for its significance, but I find a murky void instead of a memory.
Annoyed, my fingers tie the laces, and I stand. I’m a few seconds behind everyone else now, and I scan the room to find them all clicking various weapons onto their belts. In the top of my trunk, beneath where my uniform had been placed, I find a sling and several perfectly smooth gray stones. The pad feels worn and familiar in my hands, and I stroke the braided leather handles. Beside me, a pale-skinned boy with dull eyes and a wild patch of freckles attaches his own sling to his waist.
The shrill screech of a whistle cuts through the room, and I flinch. The trunk lid slips from my fingers and slams shut. I suck in a breath and wait for a reaction from someone, but there is none, so I drop the stones in my pocket as though nothing is out of the ordinary. The boys around me are falling into line, and I step forward to join them as we prepare to leave the building, somewhat aware that we should be heading to retrieve our breakfast now.
Just as we begin to move forward, a firm hand grabs my right arm, and I’m jerked to the side. Panic snarls in my chest as a heavy arm pins me against a cool wall, and I struggle to not grimace as the back of my head smacks into the unforgiving cinder blocks. In front of me stands the same short, stocky Man in Red who had been staring at me earlier. His greasy, blond hair is slicked over to one side, and his deep-set eyes are dark and shifty as they bore into me. He wears a scarlet shirt and black pants, and a small golden triangle is pinned to the left side of his collar. As he opens his thin lips to speak, I inhale the scent of stale alcohol and tobacco, and my stomach clenches with nausea. He grabs my face with a calloused hand and squeezes my cheeks so my lips squish together, and I can’t help but feel like an animal being inspected for slaughter.
“What are you doing, boy?” he asks with a sniveling, high-pitched tone. My face drains of blood, and my heartrate picks up speed as the Red’s expression grows more furrowed. The surprise of the encounter has my mind reeling, but I know better than to reply. I feel awake for the first time since I can remember, and I intend to keep it that way. 
“What’s wrong with this one?” the Red mutters to himself. My heart pounds in my chest with such speed and voracity that I begin to worry the guard will hear it and my own body will betray me. All at once, the guard releases my face with an apathetic grunt and pushes me towards the door by my shoulder. I’m startled by my sudden propulsion, and I stumble forward into line as relief floods my body.


And now, onto the interview!


What are your favorite genres to read/write? I will read pretty much anything (except horror or erotica), but my favorite genre is still young adult. From contemporary authors like John Green to fantasy/sci-fi authors like Amy Bartol or Jennifer Armentrout, I'm just looking for a good story with lovable characters... and a little bit of romance doesn't hurt!

Besides writing, what are some of your other hobbies? I love to travel. Road trips are my favorite, because they allow for spontaneity, and my husband and I try to take one every summer. I also enjoy gardening. Working with seeds and soil and flowers and vegetables is very gratifying to me and is definitely an investment and lesson in patience.

I read on your site that The Elect was inspired by a dream. Would you like to tell us a little about that dream?  Sure! Without giving too much of the plot line away, the dream I had was of a young man running and taking refuge in an abandoned warehouse. He was being chased by someone and had these incredible abilities to jump and fight - superhuman strength, if you will. I knew when I woke up that there was something in that dream, a story that needed to be told, so I wrote down everything I could remember. That scene is now in the middle of the book and is one of my favorites.

Which character in The Elect is most like you, and why? I find that I share some similarities to each character, but the one I probably relate to most is Elisa (or at least that's what I hope). She's an optimist - hopeful, faithful, loving, and a little naive. But at the same time, she can take care of business when she needs to. These are all qualities that I strive to reflect in my personal life, even though I'm sure I fail often.

What project(s) are you currently working on? I'm currently working on two novels. The first is the sequel to The Elect. The other is a YA contemporary set in my home state of Alabama. I'm still not sure where either of them are going, but I'm excited to find out!

In your writing process, are you a plotter or a pantser? This actually relates to my last answer quite well. I think I'm a little of both, but I'm mostly a panster. I have a general idea of where I want my stories to go, but often my stories get hijacked by my characters, which is fine with me and often quite a surprise.

Share with us a favorite book quote! As strange as it probably sounds, I don't know that I have one. I'm not much of a quotes person, but if you're looking for a quotable book, one of my absolute favorites is All Over But The Shoutin' by Rick Bragg. His story-telling style is phenomenal, and his understanding of history and heritage in backwoods Alabama (my home state) is just excellent. I'll recommend this book to anyone I meet.

Any advice for other writers? Keep at it, but take breaks. I know you've probably heard it before, but that's what I'm sticking with. It took me 4 years to finish this novel and find a publisher, and I often wanted to give up. But I'd shelve the book for a while to clear my mind and then bring it out a month or two later. Fresh eyes are a necessity, especially when revising and editing. Also, don't be scared to let your friends read it and give you honest feedback - you'll need it.

Any tips for breaking through writer's block? It helps me to rewrite a scene further back in the book. I've found the problem is often not where I thought it was, so going back in the book (as terrifying as it is), opens up more possibilities for pushing past those moments where you want to set your computer on fire. Just make sure you save the first version in an alternate document in case you want to come back to it!

If you could choose anywhere in the world to visit, where would it be? Oh, this is a tough question. There are tons of places on my bucket list. BUT, assuming my budget was unlimited, I would visit the British Isles. Most of my family lineage is from Ireland and England, and I'm a bit of an Anglophile (I teach history for a living). It also doesn't hurt that Ireland and Scotland look absolutely beautiful from everything I've seen!


Great interview, and thanks again to Laura for stopping by the blog today! Your upcoming book sounds amazing! So, take note, people--check this book out on July 14th :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

New Release: DAUGHTER OF THE SUN (Cult of the Cat #1) by Zoe Kalo



Title: Daughter of the Sun (Cult of the Cat series, Book 1)

Author: Zoe Kalo Genre: YA mythological fantasy
Word count: 93,000 words
Release date: May 1, 2016 Daughter of the Sun, Book 1 -

Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Trinity was born during a solar eclipse and left at the doorsteps of a convent along with a torn piece of papyrus covered with ancient symbols. Raised by nuns in the English countryside, she leads a quiet life until she’s whisked away to the Island of Cats and a grandmother she never knew. But before they can get to know each other, her grandmother dies. All that Trinity has left is a mysterious eye-shaped ring. And a thousand grieving cats. As Trinity tries to solve the enigma of the torn papyrus, she discovers a world of bloody sacrifices and evil curses, and a prophecy that points to her and her new feline abilities. Unwilling to believe that any of the Egyptian gods could still be alive, Trinity turns to eighteen-year-old Seth and is instantly pulled into a vortex of sensations that forces her to confront her true self—and a horrifying destiny.

About the Author:

A certified bookworm, Zoe Kalo has always been obsessed with books and reading. Reading led to writing—compulsively. No surprise that at 16, she wrote her first novel, which her classmates read and passed around secretly. The pleasure of writing and sharing her fantasy worlds has stayed with her, so now she wants to pass her stories to you with no secrecy—but with lots of mystery… A daughter of adventurous expats, she’s had the good fortune of living on 3 continents, learning 4 languages, and experiencing a multicultural life. Currently, she’s working on a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature, which she balances between writing, taking care of her clowder of cats, and searching for the perfect bottle of pinot noir.

Connect with Zoe Kalo on the web: www.ZoeKalo.com / Facebook / Twitter

Here's the Amazon Purchase Link:

http://www.amazon.com/Daughter-Sun-Cult-Cat-Book-ebook/dp/B01DRDUQW8

My Review:  4 Stars

I had the pleasure of receiving this book in exchange for an honest review. Daughter of the Sun (Cult of the Cat #1) was a fun read about an orphan, Trinity, who has grown up in an orphanage run by nuns in the English countryside. From the beginning, there's an air of mystery about her. She was born the day of a solar eclipse. She seems to have subtle cat-like qualities, never gets sick, and has an ability to heal from injuries quickly as well as heal others--but nothing at first that's distinctive enough for her to pay much attention to.

Then, one day, she's claimed by a woman representing her very wealthy grandmother, who has been searching for her since her disappearance as a baby. Before she leaves for her grandmother's island summer home, the Mother Superior gives her a piece of parchment with strange symbols on it, something left with her when she arrived at the orphanage almost sixteen years before. 

The odd language isn't the only mystery Trinity encounters. There's her ever-strengthening cat-like qualities, like a preference for napping during the daytime, changing food preferences with a slight craving for raw meet, the ability to jump out a 3-story window without sustaining major injuries, and occasionally being overcome with predatory urges. Then there's the fact that awful things seem to have happened to all the men in the family, and there's an odd rotten-egg smell accompanied by an air of malevolence that sometimes emanates from the office of her grandmother's assistant. Trinity's search for answers leads her on a dangerous, exciting quest.

Trinity was easy to like. She stands up to bullies. She's tenacious and has the determination to do whatever it takes to get the answers she seeks. She has a soft spot for cats, which is a good thing, because the people on her new island home revere cats, and the Egyptian goddesses connected to them. I absolutely love the Egyptian mythology element interwoven through the story, and the author did a great job with her research and with bringing it to life in this novel. 

This Review is a part of the Blogger Outreach Program by b00k r3vi3w Tours

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Author Spotlight and Interview: CHASM by Lynette Kuhl

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Today I'd like to welcome the fabulous Lynette Kuhl, with an interview and a spotlight on her new novel, CHASM. Thanks so much, Lynette! It's great to have you on the blog today :)



Title: Chasm
Genre: Adult Suspense
Published by Clean Reads Publishing


Tag Line: What happens when you’re in love with your children’s abductor?


Blurb:
Taylor Vine thinks she can fight off the demons of her past when she moves back home to Estill Springs, Tennessee, but it doesn’t take long to see that things aren’t quite that easy. The bumps she hears in the night soon escalate, keeping her up at nights, and it isn’t long before her most precious possessions, her children, get abducted. She finds herself in a race against time to try to find them before it’s too late. One wrong move and the outcome could be disastrous.  


Excerpt:
Her heart picked up its pace, and she reached for the phone. She hesitated, unsure whether to even answer it. But she plucked it from its receiver. “Hello?” Her voice slid out rickety and unsure.
The male voice on the other end was dark and deeply plagued with distress. It broke, and she struggled to make out what he was saying.
What she heard next was unimaginable; it didn’t sound human. The grief penetrated through the voice—through the phone—flanking it with wretched wails and sobs. “I’ve killed the children. Heaven…help me…I’ve killed the children.” The phone went silent.
Taylor’s knees buckled. “What?” The hyper pitch in her voice strained out. “Goodness gracious, who is this? What happened? Whose children?” Her knees about took her down again. She caught the edge of the counter, catching herself before she fell. “Answer me, for crying out loud! Don’t hang up on me!”
She listened desperately, plastering the phone to her ear. But the phone was silent. “Hello, hello? Answer me!” Frantically clicking the telephone cradle button, she tried to bring him back, but there was only a dial tone.
She pounded the phone on the counter so forcefully that the plastic mouthpiece broke into a million tiny pieces. She let it fall, left it dangling by its cord. Swiftly making her way to the hall closet, she rummaged through the plastic totes for a flashlight. “There has to be one in here somewhere,” she mumbled to herself. Extension cords and old Christmas lights spilled over onto the floor.
Finally finding a flashlight, she clicked it on. It was dim, but it would do. She ran back to the hall, to the children’s rooms, feeling no pain in her swollen ankle.
Flinging Cody’s door wide, she flashed the light toward the wall where his bed sat. In slow motion, the lonely, empty, disheveled bed yanked a horrifying scream from her gut, reverberating through the house. The earth quit spinning, and she was lost to oblivion. “NO! Not my children! Please, God…not my children.” She needed life support, couldn’t breathe; the air was being sucked from her body in rapid swells. She dropped to the floor, her world going black—closing in—smothering.
Not knowing how long she’d been out, Taylor struggled to her feet, she was sure it wasn’t long; it was still black outside, flashes of lightning still cracking in through the window. She raced to check on Nora. Her room was the same: deserted, hollow, puncturing a bleeding, oozing hole in Taylor’s chest the size of a large, bottomless chasm.
“For crying out loud, no…please, no.” The tears coursed down her face. She staggered numbly to Nora’s empty bed, collapsing on it, her hand reaching, groping—trying to find the warmth of her baby girl. But the only thing the tangled blankets and sheets offered her was a bleak and disgusting coldness. It shocked her through her hand. How long had they been gone? Time couldn’t wait, she needed to find them.



Buy Links:


Author Bio:
L.K. Kuhl lives in Nebraska with her husband of twenty-nine years, young son, Nathan, and Greg, their Black Lab dog. She has two older daughters, Morgan and Brittani and son-in-law, Trevor. L.K. has been writing for over twenty years. She first began writing children’s books and poetry, moved on to writing music, and is now writing Young Adult and Adult novels. Her first book, Everlasting, a Young Adult Paranormal Romance, was published in February, 2016. She loves spending time with her family, vacationing, writing, reading, and taking long walks. It’s the characters who write their own stories in her novels, and she is just their messenger, sharing it with the world.


                                                                                                                      
Author Links:
Website: https://kuhlreads.com/     
Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/kuhlreads



And now, onto the interview! 

First of all I would like to thank Lora for having me on her blog today! She is awesome!! What inspired me to write Chasm was that it was basically based on a true story and I love to incorporate things that have happened in my life into my stories. 

I got the idea to write Chasm because my husband used to be an engineer for the railroad. Although my husband never worked with this gentleman directly, one of the engineers on the railroad hit and killed his wife and children with the train he was driving. It was no fault of the engineer. The wife did it deliberately to get back at her husband, the engineer. The engineer said the last thing he saw was his children looking up at him from the windows of the car.
Although this is a work of fiction, and this is just a story between two, make believe people, I felt compelled to tell his story about how utterly and completely devastating this would be. The engineer was never able to return to work after this. 
1. What are your favorite genres to read/write? My favorite genre to both read and write would have to be Young Adult. I love the growing up and learning process that young teens go through and I love being able to help them solve problems in everyday life. My next favorite genres to both read and write are romances and adult novels. I love the ups and downs in relationships and most of my adult novels are based on real life experiences.
2. Besides writing, what are some of your other hobbies? Family!! That is my biggest one yet! I love vacationing with family, playing games with family, sitting around chatting with family and just doing everything with them!! My next hobby is making candles. I make scented ones that I take to craft fairs in the fall. I love reading and going for walks, too.
3. Which Character in Chasm is most like you, and why? Hum, I would have to say the main character, Taylor. Taylor loves her children unconditionally and would do anything to protect them, just as I would mine. Taylor has her flaws and has made a ton of wrong decisions in her life. But in the end, she has learned from her mistakes and has turned her life around to become a better person, just as I feel I have.
4. What projects are you currently working on? I have just started the third and last book in The Everlasting Trilogy. It is called Finished Business and is moving much slower than the first two books. I don't know if it's just getting harder for me to continue it on, coming up with new adventures and such, or if I just don't want to say goodbye to my characters. It's a bittersweet feeling. I just finished up with the Pre-Edits to the second book in the series and am waiting for that to go through the editing phases. That book is the second book in The Everlasting Trilogy and is called The Decision.
5. In your writing process, are you a plotter or a pantser? I think I am a little bit of both. I get most of the story plotted out before I start on it, but pants a lot of it as I go along, filling in the parts I haven't plotted lol.
6. Share with us a favorite book quote! My favorite quote is from The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. Noah is telling Allie "It's not over...it'll never be over." Then they share a passionate kiss!! Love that part!
7. Any advice for other writers? My advice would be to never give up! Sometimes the fears and rejections can really get to you. You have to have tough skin in this business. But if you persevere, you will make it!
8. Any tips for breaking through writer's block? Writer's block does get hard for me, at times. The best thing I can do to try to combat it, is just take a break from writing for a while. Get up and take a break, go for a walk, or play with your children.
9. If you could choose anywhere in the world to visit, where would it be? I think I would have to say Australia. I have always loved wildlife and nature and I would love to take a safari tour to see some of the exotic animals out in the wild.

What a great interview! Thanks again, Lynette! This book sounds amazing, a definite must-read, and the story behind it is so heartbreaking and compelling. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

BookHounds Debut Author Blog Hop: THE MIRRORMASTERS




Thank you to BookHounds for organizing this blog hop! From June 10th to June 19th, debut authors are hosting some awesome giveaways, so stop by each of the links, check out the fabulous books, and enter to win!

So, for those of you who are just discovering this blog, here's a bit about my debut YA sci-fi/fantasy, THE MIRRORMASTERS, published 4.20.16 by Clean Reads. I'm offering a Rafflecoptor giveaway of the ebook, so don't forget to enter :).


Cover design by Cora of Cora Graphics


Ebook available through Cleanreads.com, Amazon, iTunes, Barnesandnoble.com, Smashwords, and Kobo


Leah Ellis never knew why she was found abandoned on the beach at two years old. Content with her adoptive family and small town life, she hadn't thought much about it over the years. That is, until her life takes a bizarre turn when she begins seeing images in mirrors she can’t explain--cloaked figures using powers that manifest like lightning bolts, or flash-frozen beaches on another world beneath a purple sky. 

She practices mirror-gazing, driven to understand these images and their possible connection to her forgotten past, and discovers that it’s kind of addictive with its wild, boundless power coursing through her veins. Soon, she learns to control what the mirror shows her.


When new neighbors move in, Leah is shocked that they're dead ringers for the people in her visions. According to Brian, with the gorgeous ice-blue eyes, and his father, she is a MirrorMaster--an alien with a gift that lets her travel through mirrors, even to worlds light years away. Her birth parents sent them to take her from Earth back to her homeworld of Jantyr, a planet she doesn’t remember. They’ve searched for her ever since she disappeared.  

But Leah’s long-lost birth sister, a sorceress, activated an ancient device to trigger a cataclysm on Jantyr as a bid to consolidate her own power. Leah must return to Jantyr, master her newfound ability in order to locate and wield crystals that will disable the device, and thwart her sister’s plans. Otherwise, the destruction will consume the entire galaxy, including Earth and everyone she loves.


Add MIRRORMASTERS to your Goodreads want to read list and connect with me there!
Read an excerpt

REVIEWS:
from author Carol Riggs at Amazon and GoodReads
from Sarah Wathen, Staff Reviewer at YABooksCentral