Thursday, May 31, 2012

EMERALD BARNES and Doing the Unexpected

Everyone please welcome Emerald Barnes to my blog. Above is the cover of her brand new release, READ ME DEAD. Without further ado, here's her wonderful post on the unexpected, with a great giveaway!

“When characters do the unexpected, people pay attention.”  Victorious – Sickowitz 
I was watching Victorious with my nieces the other day.  Okay – I lied.  I was watching it.  (That show is like a guilty pleasure.  It doesn’t hurt that my nieces love it too.)  And on the show while teaching his students acting the teacher, Sikowitz, said, “When characters do the unexpected, people pay attention.”
Although that’s true for acting, it’s equally true for writing.  No one wants to read about a character doing predictable things. 

“Oh well, that vampire is going to drink animal blood.”  Oh wait.  “Human blood!?  He just killed someone!”

See the difference?  

These days, people have these “good vampires.”  I say bring on the blood-sucking vamps who want to take over the world and kill anyone who gets in their way.  That’s not to say there aren’t vampires who don’t want to take over the world, but I think vampires should drink humans. * Back to topic now…

Even if a character grabs Cheerios instead of Apple Jacks when s/he always goes for the Apple Jacks.  That’s unexpected.  It means your character has changed.  But why do they change their cereal?  That’s when you keep your readers guessing. 

I know that’s kind of a mundane example…   
What if suddenly your main character pulls out a knife and stabs a random stranger while on a nature hike?  S/he has never done that before.  Shoot, s/he probably never thought about it before.  So what’s going on?  Have aliens taken over your main character’s brain?  Is s/he hypnotized?  These are the things that will grab your readers’ (or reader’s) attention. 

Keep your readers guessing!  And if they think they’ve figured it out, surprise ‘em with a huge twist at the end!  That’s what I did with my new release, Read Me Dead.  I’ve received a lot of feedback from reviewers, readers, etc saying they had no idea the ending was coming!  I loved it of course, because that was my intention! 

What unexpected thing has your character done?  Tell me and you could win a copy of both of my books! *Of course, this isn’t to be expected of All characters.  There are good vampires and there are evil vampires.  I’m not hating on either.  This is just my opinion. 
Buy Links:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Recipe from the cookbook

One of the recipes in THE MALL FAIRIES SWEET TOOTH COOKBOOK, which you can have a PDF of for free, see below!

 Through JUNE 3, I'm having a blog giveaway, details here:
THREE AMAZON GIFT CARDS, each worth $10 will be given away.
Plus, a copy of THE MALL FAIRIES: EXILE, which is available in all e-book formats.
AND for everyone: a PDF of THE MALL FAIRIES SWEET TOOTH COOKBOOK. All of the recipes are easy and my kitchen tested. I will send the PDF of the cookbook to anyone who requests it in the comments.
This giveaway is simple to enter. Just leave your name and e-mail address in the comments.These comments will  not be published. And your e-mail information will not be kept on a list, but deleted after the contest ends and the winners are selected. If you want a comment to be published, please send that comment separately. PLEASE NOTE: if you don't have some kind of account that allows you to comment under that account, you can comment anonymously and be entered that way. Just select anonymous at the end of the comment list.

Pout, the teenage fairy with the protruding lower lip, believes he is totally, awesomely Goth. He affects to wear all black, with usually a press on tattoo of a skull or a bat on his skinny pale white chest. No way would he ever want anyone to know that his favorite cookie is crispy rice cereal bars. He's loved them since he was a tiny Toddle Wing, marshmallows and rice cereal, yum! The only one who knows is his mom, and she won't tell, because she bribes him with a cookie to wash those silly tattoos off.
Basic Recipe:
4 tablespoons margarine or butter
6 cups crispy rice cereal
1 16 ounce bag of marshmallows (fresh mini marshmallows work best)
In a large saucepan, heat the butter on medium heat until it melts. Add marshmallows and stir constantly until marshmallows all melt. Remove from heat. Add crispy rice cereal and stir well. Using a greased spatula, spread mixture in a buttered 15 X 10 inch pan. Cut into bars when cooled.

Okay, now for the variations:
Add vanilla or rum or orange or lemon extract, a teaspoon or two.
Add a cup of nuts, or raisins or any dried fruit, or a cup of chocolate bits (or a third a cup of each!).
Add any spices you like, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cardamon.
Add 1/3 cup of cocoa.
Or be daring and trying a bit of pepper and hot sauce to the cocoa! Strange but good if you like it weird and spicy!

And tomorrow, May 31st, check back for Emerald Barnes fun blog post and her great giveaway!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Let's give a big welcome to my guest blogger today, H. M. Prevost, author of Desert Fire. I've read Desert Fire and it's a rip roarer of a read, so I'm very pleased to have the author and her words here today. Without further ado then here's a bit about Desert Fire an and excerpt ...

Nick stared at the mini-CD. It gleamed under the streetlights. Only the dying American pilot could have slipped it into his pocket. . . .
After running to the scene of a plane crash in Abu Dhabi, Nick Chevalier stumbles across classified military secrets. A ruthless terrorist will stop at nothing to get them. As Nick investigates the cover-up behind the downed plane, he crosses paths with an agent from a covert espionage agency and makes the leap from high school senior to teen spy. But he realizes too late that he put more than his own life at risk—his mother and sister are also in danger. Does he have what it takes to outwit a terrorist who wants him dead and save the two people he loves?

Here is an interview with Faris Al Muhairbi, one of the main characters in Desert Fire. The adventure begins in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (if you don’t know where that is, well, it’s 2 hours away from Dubai!). Nick (the main character and teen super spy)  is accompanied by his new friend, Faris Al Muhairbi, on his adventures. Faris lives in Abu Dhabi and is an entitled 17-year-old from a very wealthy Emirati family.
Q: How did you meet Nick?
My brother Mohammed and I were in our father’s Hummer, just driving around, and we saw this plane that was on fire. It looked like it was going to crash in the desert. We were headed towards it, and we saw Nick on the sidewalk, so we stopped to pick him up.
Q: How did things go from there?
We got to the desert where the plane crashed and we found the pilot. He died right in front of us. But he gave Nick a CD with all this classified information on it. Then we heard sirens, so we took off. When we found out what was on the CD, whoa, we knew we were in the middle of something big! The next thing I knew, we were on the hunt for a terrorist, and he was hunting us too!
Q: Tell us a bit about your country.
The UAE is rich. I mean rich because we export tons of oil. My family has five cars—Hummer, Lexus, Mercedes, and two BMWs. And we live in this huge villa that’s more like a hotel than a house. We even have an elevator so our Filipina maids, all four of them, can bring us our trays of food without climbing all the stairs. I’ve never had to make my bed in my life! Nick thinks I’m spoiled, but I really don’t get why.
Dubai is a beautiful city, and the architecture is amazing. We have spectacular landmarks, like Burj Al Arab, the world’s only 7-star hotel. Nick and I go to a meeting there, and it turns out to be a disaster. The terrorist identifies Nick and tries to kill him. It’s a miracle that we managed to get away.
Q: How well do you get along with Nick after all this? Are you still friends?
We’re like brothers after all we’ve been through. If you want to read about more of our adventures, the sequel to Desert Fire will be coming out in December, and it’s called Shadow Army. 

H.M. Prévost is a writer, photographer, teacher and avid reader of YA fiction. Thrillers, fantasy and paranormal romances (that’s right, pretty much anything with a vampire in it!) are her favorite genres. She also loves to paint and has covered her house with murals. For many years, she worked abroad in the United Arab Emirates, which provided an exotic setting for her debut YA thriller, Desert Fire. She lives in Québec with her husband, two rambunctious daughters, and Ginger the cat.

Desert Fire is now on sale for $1.99 on Amazon and MuseItUp Publishing.

Conda here again, I'm sure our guest writer would love to answer questions. I'll start with one--what inspired this series? Was it just your travels, or?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

GIVEAWAY! Amazon cards! Cookbook!


My first did so well, I'm doing another! This time I have even more giveaways, including one that's yours for the asking. THREE AMAZON GIFT CARDS, each worth $10 will be given away.

Plus, a copy of THE MALL FAIRIES: EXILE, which is available in all e-book formats.

AND FINALLY, my secret giveaway is a PDF of THE MALL FAIRIES SWEET TOOTH COOKBOOK.  My fairies possess enormous sweet tooths and this is a compilation of their favorite recipes. All of the recipes are easy and my kitchen tested. I will send the PDF of the cookbook to anyone who requests it.

This giveaway is simple to enter. Just leave your name and e-mail address in the comments. For security reasons, please write out your e-mail address, as in so-and-so at g mail dot com. These comments will also not be published. And your e-mail information will not be kept on a list, but deleted after the contest ends and the winners are selected. If you want a comment to be published, please send that comment separately. PLEASE NOTE: if you don't have some kind of account that allows you to comment under that account, you can comment anonymously and be entered that way. Just select anonymous at the end of the comment list.

Winners of previous giveaways are not eligible to enter. If you did not win, please feel free to enter again. And let me know if you want a copy of the cookbook in your comment.

AND I've decided to run this contest for a longer period, from today, May 26th all the way through June 3rd! That way you can also participate in Emerald Barnes fun blog post and giveaway here on May 31st!


Friday, May 25, 2012

On my blog today is Rebecca Ryals Russell, author of a delightful YA Series, Seraphym Wars. But I'll let Rebecca tell you all about her wonderful world. Be sure to check out her giveaway at the bottom of her post.

Harpies, Book Two of Seraphym Wars series by Rebecca Ryals Russell comes out soon. But you might wish to read the Prequel, Prophecy first. Here is Chapter One of Prophecy:
For centuries the residents of Solsyl lived in peace and harmony with the planet. Then the dragon-demons arrived, causing the Great Shuddering. Majikals from everywhere scurried to find shelter from the evil while humans hid. Laud regretted his rash decision of exiling the demons on Solsyl and asked one of his advisors, a member of The Conscientia, to protect his people. Jeremiah Holyfield agreed to leave the peaceful world of Revrum Natura for a life of constant strife and fear on the newly renamed planet of Dracwald. But Narciss, ruler of Tartarus and King of the demons, desperately wants what Jeremiah has sworn to protect—a Prophecy of Narciss’s future doom. And Narciss refuses to take no for an answer. But Jeremiah discovers allies along his path and even true love, which he never dreamed possible.
But forever is a long time to protect something without ever letting down one’s guard.

Journal of Reverend Jeremiah Holyfield
500 yl Toxicorru Epoch
Haazbul Village, Season of Torridaesta
Chapter Three
Day 2: Lightdo
Within moments, the purple night sky eased into a rosy glow that lightened by the second into a yellow halo over the Lucimons Mountains. Destined for another scorching walk across the blazing sands without food or water, I did not relish the fact. Besides, my burned face, neck, and hands ached. I spread another coating of aloe gel across them enjoying the cooling effect, but the grit from soot and sand scraped like sandpaper. I heaved a mighty sigh.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Lucy asked. “But you haven’t any water or food, have you? You seem to be injured, as well.”
I wondered how she knew before I realized I’d just been thinking about it. “You read minds?” The fact I was sanely conversing with a lizard while awaiting another miserable day and possibly my last, barely fazed me. Last night I had been a human heater for the desert crawlies. Why not have a cup o’ tea with a lizard? I decided I was probably going insane. My brains had cooked from dehydration.
Lucy’s soft laughter filled my head. “How do you think we’re talking?”
I’d been thinking the conversation without knowing it. Since my throat was too swollen and dry to use, I couldn’t talk. “Oh, yeah.”
 “I have an idea for food and water. Head due west. You’ll come to a cacti forest. I’ll tell you what to do when we reach it.”
With a lighter step, if it meant finding water, I took off across the soft sand, which sifted around each step. The sun had risen, but not donned its fierce face yet, when tall green structures appeared in the distance. Cresting the peak of a dune, I saw the cacti forest Lucy had mentioned. Stumbling through the sand, which pulled at every step, my heart danced with joy.
Finally, I stood gazing up at giant spine-covered plants wondering how they would supply the promised food and water. Towering well over my head, with spines the size of fingers, I touched the smooth green skin and shrugged. It felt dry.
“Carefully knock the small balls off the tops of the plants. Beware the millions of spines. Use something to scrape the needles off each ball then cut them in half,” Lucy explained.
Quickly I searched the nearby area.  A long narrow knife-like shard of rock with which to knock down and de-spine the balls protruded from the sand. Its tip edge also opened a crack in the fruit, which I further opened with a finger, cringing at the sharp pain it induced. Blackened skin on both palms cracked and bled despite the aloe gel.
What I found inside the cactus nearly made me giddy with joy. The pulp tasted bitter, but juicy. After scooping out the contents of three balls, I pushed one of the halves toward Lucy, sitting on a nearby rock, who demurely lapped at the juice.
“At least it is wet,” she said.
Once sated, I knocked down a dozen more balls, de-spined and debated where to store them. The thought of them splitting in the rucksack and despoiling the parchment was horrifying. The deep pockets of my trousers provided a perfect repository. However, it now felt as though bouncing tumors had grown on the fronts of my legs when I walked.
Although the sun’s effect had not changed, my outlook had.  The consumption of pulpy juice made all the difference in energy and attitude. My pace quickened. Dropping my hooded head, I strode purposefully west for several hours without stopping. The sun slid past its zenith before a lack of energy forced another stop. Looking up to see a large cluster of boulders merely paces ahead filled me with delight.
Panting, I plopped in the shade. Excruciating pain from both face and hands, lanced my brain. Lucy hopped onto the rock and ran down to stand in my lap. Having been starved when we stopped last, I hadn’t studied Lucy properly. She was beautiful. Red, purple, yellow, and blue stripes slid down her back, while still more curled along her sides. Wide, intelligent amber eyes watched my every move. Her lavender neck frill lay flat across her shoulders, but I imagined it would be quite intimidating when raised.
Thank you,” she said, demurely dropping her eyes for a moment. “I’m concerned about your burns. Have you nothing to help them heal?”
“Just the aloe plant I’ve been using.” I found it much easier speaking aloud now that my throat no longer burned and after so many years of solitude, talking aloud to myself in the chapel, I wasn’t comfortable hearing only thoughts.
Don’t look now, but a snake just poked its ugly head from the crevice beside you. Once it comes out a little further, drop a rock on it, and let’s have lunch,” Lucy said in hushed tones, as though the snake might hear her inside my head.
Rolling the opposite direction, I scanned the area for a large rock. From atop the boulder, I then waited for the warmth of the sun to entice the snake into our trap. It didn’t take long. In even less time, I had a blazing fire with roasting snake on a stick. Luckily there were matches in the bottom of the rucksack from a recent excursion.  But the dead tree in the middle of the boulder cluster was a sign from Laud. After winding the snake on a stick, I secured head and tale by spearing it then leaned the contraption over the fire.  While it roasted, I took a straight long branch and shaved a sharp point at one end to use as a spear.
Once the snake had blackened, and my stomach could stand the delicious cooking odors no longer, we ate a bit, the juice of a cactus ball washing it down. Any appetite for actual food had diminished significantly, perhaps due to the heat, but the cactus was a welcome sustenance. The remaining snake meat, I wrapped in its skin, which got tucked into a trouser pocket separate from the cacti.
Refreshed, it was time to resume our trek across the burning sands. By nightfall, Lucy pointed out sprigs of grasses and stunted tree growth.
“We must be nearing Negoc Woods,” I said. “Since I know nothing about them, remaining at the edge of the desert seems most prudent.”
Agreed,” Lucy murmured.
“Crossing the desert at such a narrow point was a gift from providence. I’m not sure I could have survived another day out there.”
“You did wonderfully, Jeremiah,” Lucy said.
Concerned about what creepy crawlies might find me in the night again, I tried to sleep sitting up, leaned against the rucksack. Still not hungry, we shared the bounty of another cactus ball. By the time the moon was on the rise, sleep had fogged my brain. Through fitful dreams, which startled me awake in a panic, over and over, I was sure to find myself covered with desert nightcrawlers.
During one of the startled jumps out of sleep, Lucy said, “You can settle down, now. The snake and spider carcasses are lying around you as a warning. No one else will bother you this night.”
I glanced around.  The glowing moon displayed the victims as described.
“Thank you, Lucy. You’re a Laud-send.” My soft whisper carried away on the cool night air.

Here are the links and topics detailing where I’ll be all month. Check them out and win PRIZES.
Comment on EACH of my postings (listed above with links) showing you read the posting. Commenters will acquire ONE point per comment. At the end, fill out the form on my blog, Under the Hat.
The prize? This lovely Phoenix medallion and a bag of swag including Odessa notepad, Seraphym Wars pen, Mind the Signs bookmark, coverart Postcards for each book in both series AND an eBook copy of my newest release: Harpies, Book Two Seraphym Wars Series.

Catch Rebecca at any of these links:

Rebecca Ryals Russell writes MG and YA Dark Fantasy while living with her family in a Victorian house on five acres of North Florida countryside. She also runs a Vacation Rental Log House on the property: Florida Black Bear Cabin.
She is a fourth generation Floridian having lived all over the state. The daughter of an Elementary-school principal and school secretary, she always knew she was bound for the classroom and for fourteen years she taught Middle Grades, preferring English and Creative Writing. She had several students’ works published in anthologies as well as her own poetry, photography and stories.
Her main interests are her four teenaged and young adult children and Irish hubby of many years. She enjoys spending her time writing, drawing, going to movies, reading, discussing philosophy and politics with her college-aged son.
Be sure to check out the special interactive Middle Grade Reader website Tween Word Quest for tons of information about Stardust Warriors as well as the other projects Rebecca has in the works and Under the Hat for all of her other works.

TAGS: Rebecca Ryals Russell, Seraphym Wars Series, YA books, YA Fiction Books, YA series, demons, Seraphym, dragons, Dracwald, Vigorios, Prophecy, Odessa, Harpies

Thursday, May 17, 2012



Here's a recipe from Grandma MacDougall, a character in my novel TheMall Fairies: Exile. She used to do at these delicious cookies at Christmas, to give out at her Christmas Fairyland store, until she stopped. For why she stopped and why she might start again, read The Mall Fairies: Exile.

Gingerbread Spiced cookies:
2 cups white flour
2 generous tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp ginger
1/2 tbsp cloves
1 tbsp vanilla
3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg or egg substitute
1/4 cup molasses
sugar in a bowl to roll cookies

Sift together dry ingredients. Beat butter and sugar until combined and add egg and molasses and beat until mixed well. Beat in dry ingredients. Roll dough into 1" balls and roll in sugar. Place on cookie sheets and press slightly. Bake at 350 degrees 10-12 minutes or until lightly brown around edges.

Like many of my recipes, you can play a little with this one. Try adding chopped nuts. Or a couple of different spices, allspice or cardamom perhaps? This is also good filled with whipped cream and frozen or vanilla ice cream. Or come up with your own version!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mom's Day and a recipe!


Just needed to pop in and thank all the moms--where would we be without them--nowhere! 

And here's a quick and easy carrot recipe from my mom, who always told me that if I didn't eat carrots, my naturally curly red hair wouldn't be red or curly anymore.

I've loved carrots ever since.

Peel several carrots into thick slices. Make lots as these are delicious.
Toss slices in olive oil and spices you like ( I like onion, garlic and pepper, and sometimes sage, be creative! Try different spices with different batches.) Some people like to add a little salt, but with the spices often the salt isn't missed.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 12 minutes depending on the thickness of the slices. Cool and Eat!

You can also do this with yams, turnips, potatoes or a combo of root veggies.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Congrats to the Winners: Cindy, Holand and Lynette! Woot! Please let me know if you don't receive an e-mail from me within 48 hours of this post, something has gone awry. Or you can also comment if you got it too!

To Everyone: thanks for entering my very first blog giveaway ever. I had quite a few entries and most of you let me know what you wanted as a giveaway. This was very useful for the next one during Memorial Day Weekend (May 26, 27 and 28)! I'll be giving away Amazon cards as that was the hands down winner for what you all wanted. Plus, I'll work to make it even easier to enter as a few submitters had a little trouble. AND, if you didn't win this time around, you can enter again! Plus, I'll be offering a secret treat to everyone who enters.

THANKS AGAIN for helping make the Summer Teen Reading Party a success!


Saturday, May 5, 2012

MY FIRST GIVEAWAY! Amazon and iTunes gift cards!

This Giveaway is part of the Summer Teen Reading Month Long Party, visit there for more fun!

Hi all, welcome to my first giveaway ever! There are three items. The Amazon and iTunes cards will be worth $20.00 each. The Book Fairy is 7” tall and shown below.

This giveaway is simple to enter. Just leave your name and e-mail address in the comments. For security reasons, please write out your e-mail address, as in so-and-so at g mail dot com. These comments will also not be published. And your e-mail information will not be kept on a list, but deleted after the contest ends and the winners are selected. If you want a comment to be published, please send that comment separately.

Also, please let me know in your comment which giveaway you want the most, the Amazon card, iTunes card, or the Fairy. Since this is my first giveaway and I’m seriously considering another at the end of the month, I want to know what “sells”. You can suggest what you would like in a giveaway as well.

One more minor thing, if you live outside of the U.S. or Canada, please let me know, as I can’t afford to ship the physical item (the Book Fairy) except to the U.S. or Canada. You will be entered in the gift card giveaways.

That’s it! Easy! AND you can enter today (May 5) and through tomorrow, Sunday, May 6 too! I’ll announce the winners on Tuesday, May 8.

 The Book Fairy