Thursday, June 27, 2013

White Chalk #Book #blitz and #Giveaway

WHITE CHALK by Pavarti K. Tyler coming July 22, 2013

Literary Fiction/Coming of Age Novel with a brave look at teenage life, containing some strong adult themes to generate honest and frank conversation.

About the Book

Chelle isn’t a typical 13-year-old girl—she doesn’t laugh with friends, play sports, or hang out at the mall after school. Instead, she navigates a world well beyond her years.

Life in Dawson, ND spins on as she grasps at people, pleading for someone to save her—to return her to the simple childhood of unicorns on her bedroom wall and stories on her father’s knee.

When Troy Christiansen walks into her life, Chelle is desperate to believe his arrival will be her salvation. So much so, she forgets to save herself. After experiencing a tragedy at school, her world begins to crack, causing a deeper scar in her already fragile psyche.

Follow Chelle’s twisted tale of modern adolescence, as she travels down the rabbit hole into a reality none of us wants to admit actually exists.
  • Publisher: Evolved Publishing
  • Publication Date: July 22, 2013
  • Genre: Literary Fiction
  • SubGenre: Coming of Age
  • Audience: Adult
  • Pages: 250
Excerpt from White Chalk:

Class oozed by. The assignment proved easy, but waiting for the inevitable knock on the door, or ring of the teacher’s phone, made the seconds expand exponentially. By the end of the period, I’d half convinced myself I should just go to the office and surrender, admit everything that happened and beg for leniency.
When the bell rang and the frenzy began to herd ourselves into the cattle drives called hallways, I had mostly regained control of myself. Except I never realized that the computer room was in the same hallway as high school English, and I didn’t know that Xiu and Troy were in the same class for fourth period. I certainly didn’t have any clue about what greeted me when I walked out of my classroom.
Xiu leaned against the wall, its puce green tile doing nothing to diminish her exotic beauty. A languid smile played on the corners of her lips as she tilted her head up, listening to whatever perfectly fascinating thing Troy said.
He had one hand on the wall next to her head, his backpack dangling without fear from his shoulder. He reached up with his other hand and grazed her cheek with the back of his fingers.
Her deep red lips parted in anticipation. Soft almond eyes drifted closed as she stretched her neck to meet his incoming kiss. His hair, pulled back in a dark stripe along the top of his head, shone in the florescent light as he took her lips in his.
I dropped my bag and stumbled back, almost tripping over it. I fell along the linoleum floor until my back leaned against the cool tile. Speckles of light shone in my eyes, while bile rose in my throat and a wrenching aching heartbreak shook through me, threatening to knock me down and steal my kidneys, selling them on the black market. They weren’t any good to me anymore. Who needs kidneys when your heart’s been removed with a grapefruit spoon?


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White Chalk (Evolved Publishing) marks Tyler’s third full length novel and promises readers familiar with her work the same mind bending experience.  Her other projects include: Shadow on the Wall (Fighting Monkey Press) and Two Moons of Sera (Fighting Monkey Press).  Shadow on the Wall has been received many awards: Winner of the General Fiction/Novel Category of the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Winner in the Fiction: Multicultural category for The 2012 USA Best Book Awards, and Finalist in the Multicultural Fiction category for the 2012 International Book Awards.

White Chalk has been hailed as “brave”, “raw”, and “destroyingly beautiful”.  In line with novels such as White Oleander, Thirteen Reasons Why and Gemma, White Chalk invites you to witness one girl’s heartrending story of confusion and desperation.

Award winning author of multi-cultural and transgressive literature, Pavarti K Tyler is an artist, wife, mother and number cruncher. She graduated Smith College in 1999 with a degree in Theatre. After graduation, she moved to New York, where she worked as a Dramaturge, Assistant Director and Production Manager on productions both on and off Broadway. Later, Pavarti went to work in the finance industry several international law firms. She now lives with her husband, two daughters and one very large, very terrible dog. She keeps busy working with fabulous authors as the Director of Marketing at Novel Publicity and penning her next genre bending novel.

Find her around the web:

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ruby's Fire - A Dystopian Giveaway

Announcing Ruby's Fire (plus giveaway!)

Join the giveaway of a signed print edition or Kindle copy by signing up for Catherine Stine's newsletter at this link and stating you have done so in the comments below. Don't forget to leave me your contact email as well! I'll choose one winner by random drawing and announce it on my blog. 

You can also enter Catherine's own Rafflecopter drawing on the sidebar. 

When I read Fireseed One, I was blown away by the concepts and worldbuilding, handled expertly by my friend and fellow author, Catherine Stine. I couldn't wait to read the sequel, and at last it is here in my hot little hands: Ruby's Fire is available for purchase as e-book and print. 
I'm a fiend for dystopian books: Hunger Games, Wool, and now this series. The scorched earth is described and illustrated perfectly, but more importantly the characters are living, breathing beings. I deeply cared what happened to Varik and Marisa, and now I know I'm going to love Ruby.
Author's illustration from Fireseed One

Here, then, is an excerpt from Ruby's Fire:
This excerpt comes shortly after Ruby escapes a dangerous desert cult armed only with a pouch of her handmade elixir, Oblivion, and her little brother Thorn. They land in a boarding school for nomadic teens, where she’s ensconced in classmate, Bea’s room.

I crawl into bed exhausted in a good way. I’ve eaten, I’ve gotten exercise, and I’ve managed to fend off Blane. I’ve checked on Thorn and Radius seems to be leaving him alone. Bea hasn’t said anything truly nasty to me today, though she’s rolled toward the wall again without a word. Now she’s breathing steadily with a soft snore.

Progress, I may not even need Oblivion tonight.
But as I lay there, staring out at the orange-streaked sky and the distant, blinking stars, my mind sinks to a dreadful reverie. I’m standing in front of the garden shelf where the red leaves are trapped under those wide stones. The Fireseed seems to be emitting a high-pitched wail. Blane is there too and he’s pressing his face into mine, his lips biting at my own lips. His meaty arms trap me. He shoves me down on top of Fireseed stalks that crack and split, sending out more high-pitched whees. As Blane’s weight pushes hard against my chest, his face becomes Stiles’—the flared nostrils, bloodshot eyes and accusing stare. “You are mine,” Stiles says. “How dare you…”
I bolt upright, sending such a flurry of fearful energy into the air that Bea chokes in her sleep. Coughing, she turns my way and returns to her steady breathing.
Her eyes could snap open at any second. She could steal my bag of Oblivion or knock it from my hands, scattering the powder over the floor. It would be lost forever. I hold my breath as I pad across the room, reach for the velvety sack in my cloak and feel the reassuring give of the powder. It’s diminishing with every dose, and I won’t be able to make more here. I need to ration it carefully. My heart hammering, I flutter into the bathroom, inch open the drawstring and shake a line onto my wrist. I inhale greedily, desperately.
Stumbling back to bed, there’s only enough time to thrust the precious bag inside my pillowcase before sweat erupts on my upper lip and my eyes roll up.
Then I bump off swollen ridges of pain as I fall deeply into never.
The author

 If everything about you changes, what remains?

Seventeen year-old Ruby, long-pledged to the much older Stiles from the Fireseed desert cult, escapes with only a change of clothes, a pouch of Oblivion Powder and her mute little brother, Thorn. Arriving at The Greening, a boarding school for orphaned teens, she can finally stop running. Or can she? The Greening is not what it seems. Students are rampaging out of control and as she cares for the secret Fireseed crop, she experiences frightening physical changes. She’s ashamed of her attraction to burly, hard-talking Blane, the resident bodyguard, and wonders why she can’t be happy with the gentler Armonk. She’s long considered her great beauty a liability, a thing she’s misused in order to survive. And how is she to stop her dependence on Oblivion to find a real beauty within, using her talent as a maker of salves, when she has nightmares of Stiles without it?

When George Axiom, wealthy mogul of Vegas-by-the-Sea offers a huge cash prize for the winner of a student contest, Ruby is hopeful she might collect the prize to rescue her family and friends from what she now knows is a dangerous cult. But when Stiles comes to reclaim her, and Thorn sickens after creating the most astonishing contest project of all, the world Ruby knows is changed forever. This romantic fantasy set in 2099 on earth has a crafty heroine in Ruby, and a swoonworthy cast, which will surely appeal to the YA and new adult audience.

Catherine Stine writes YA, New Adult and middle grade fiction. Her YA futuristic thriller, Fireseed One, illustrated by the author won finalist spots in both YA and Science Fiction in the 2013 USA Book News International Book Awards. It was also granted a 2013 Bronze Wishing Shelf Book Award and a 2013 Indie Reader Approved notable stamp. Her YA Refugees, earned a New York Public Library Best Book. Middle grade novels include A Girl’s Best Friend.

Fireseed One sequel, Ruby’s Fire is earning advance praise from reviewers and authors:
Ruby's Fire returns to the sun-scorched earth of Fireseed One. In this long-awaited sequel, Stine delivers a thrilling adventure led by a new and exciting cast of characters. Ruby, Armonk, Thorn and Blane are memorable, and the romance is really well handled. Favorite quote: " It feels wrong to lean on Armonk right now with Blane staring at me, a hungry, lonely look in his eye. It’s as if he’s never been hugged, never been fed, never been loved..." ”  -YAs the Word

More and more, Catherine enjoys writing speculative tales where her imagination has wild and free reign. She has taught creative writing workshops at the Philadelphia Writing Conference, Missouri University Summer Abroad, The New School and in her own ongoing NYC writing workshop. She loves her readers, and enjoys blogging.

You can also find Ruby's Fire on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and as an illustrated paperback.

For All Things "Stine:"

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Shark Tankers

Anyone else into Shark Tank? It's the new addiction at my house. We put the kid to bed on Friday nights and relax on the sofa, couch vegetables that we are, and watch prospective entrepreneurs haggle for investment backers.

And here is the group of financial wizards:

Mr. Wonderful - Blam! I have to mention Kevin O'Leary right up front. He always makes us laugh as we sit safely shielded in our family room, far away from the shark tank as Mr. Wonderful picks holes in "The Next Big Thing" presentation. I've noticed his style is to offer financial backing but for a piece of the profit with each item sold - Kevin seems to enjoy those weekly royalty checks coming in.

Daymond John - The cutest of the bunch, his smile is infectious and he seems to gravitate towards presenters who are in the clothing or household goods industries. Makes sense, since his company, FUBU, started with sales of hats on the street and grew to a billion-dollar enterprise. 

Barbara Corcoran - Not the largest personality in the tank, but I love Barbara. She seems to zero in on personality as a win/lose aspect of grabbing her as an investor. Plus, anyone who writes a book called "If You Don't Have Big Breasts, Put Ribbons on Your Pigtails" is cool.

Robert Herjavec - Oh, those blue eyes. Robert doesn't offer many deals, so when he does, you know the presenter has something special. 

Lori Greiner - The new addition, and the "Queen of QVC" as well as the "warm-blooded shark." She's too cute - my husband likes her. It's all good.

And then there's Mark Cuban, who just seems to have been in the right place at the right time when he sold for several billion during the dot com boom - and shorted the stock afterwards. Now that's a sharky thing to do. Still, on the show you can't deny that he hones in on weakness - and strength - right away. We loved when he declared he was out in two seconds during a "motorcycle movie deal" presentation; yes, it was pretty lame.
A successful deal! Love it.

And as for those presenters? We love the great ones, who know their business inside and out, have the financial answers and obvious energy, as well as great products. So far, my favorite has been Coffee Joulies, which are like the opposite of ice cubes - they keep your coffee from burning your tongue off by absorbing heat and then release it to keep it hot. I need some of those bad boys.

We love the bad ones as well - the scientist dude who came on to present his "energy device" which made as much physics sense as perpetual motion (time crystals aside.) The sharks' response to his device? Yeah, they ripped him a new one.

Shark Tank may be a strange obsession for a sci-fi, fantasy geek like me, but I'm also fascinated by economics and possibilities. The show offers a glimpse of both.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Lifeboat, by A.B. Shepherd

Lifeboat - a fantastic sci-fi mystery...

Cass Carmichael has lost everything; her husband, her son, and her will to live. She walks the streets and paddocks when she can't sleep. One night she sees a UFO. She can't stop thinking about it. She becomes obsessed.

When natural disasters destroy the earth she is rescued by extra-terrestrials and taken to a new world where the human race can rebuild.

But something is wrong here. This may not be the Utopia she expects. Survivors are vanishing without a trace.

Can Cass unravel the riddle in time to save herself?


Present Day – Dreaming

Rural South Australia

Rain lashed down and the wind howled. Lightning flashed across Mick’s scowling face, as the booming thunder made me jump in my seat. At least Michael slept through the storm.

Mick, four year old Michael, and I were on the road, driving home from Adelaide. We’d gone down for the day to the Royal Adelaide Show.

It had been a wonderful day. Almost perfect. We had so much fun checking out stock, and trade stalls, viewing all the entries in the various competitions, eating scrumptious show food, and buying show bags.

It was a long day though. As it grew late the three of us grew overly-tired, and cranky. Although I usually handled Michael’s rare tantrums like a pro, this time I threw my own tantrum. “Mick, would you please handle your son,” I groused, as Michael shifted from whinging to a full-fledged fit. He threw himself to the ground, kicking and screaming.

“Why is it he’s always my son when he behaves like this?” Mick retorted, obviously annoyed by my nasty tone of voice, as well as my comment. He leaned down to pick up our child. Michael resisted, throwing his body back, and continued to scream loud enough to break an average person’s eardrum.

“Because my son doesn’t act like that,” I yelled. I stomped away, ready to go home. I headed toward the car park, assuming Mick would follow. When we reached our car, Mick buckled Michael, who still screamed, into the safety seat behind Mick’s. I climbed in the front seat on the passenger side, slamming the door in my own fit of temper.

Mick got in the driver’s side, closing the door before he growled, “What the hell Cass?”

“I’m tired Mick. My feet hurt, and I’m sunburned, and I just want to go home now.”

“And that means you’re just going to leave our son in the middle of the Show?”

“I didn’t just leave him. I left him with you. It’s about time you dealt with his tantrums. You’re never there when he throws them. I’m tired of it.”

It was completely unfair of me to say that. Michael’s tantrums only occurred when he was over-tired, which didn’t happen often. Mick was a good dad. In truth, he did handle Michael’s tantrums with a great deal of patience. Much more patience than I was showing. But who is ever fair in an argument?
A.B. Shepherd

“Just take me home. I don’t want to argue anymore.” I sulked.

“Whatever you say your majesty,” he sarcastically replied.

Michael soon quieted as he fell asleep, but I continued to pout as Mick drove.

The weather all day had been unseasonably warm and sunny, but as night set in so did the storm clouds. The drive back to the farm was long. The wind picked up, and the rain slashed down. Visibility on the roads was diminished and the glare of the oncoming headlights didn’t help. I was glad Mick was behind the wheel, and not me. I couldn’t see ten metres in front of us.

Several cars had pulled over on the side of the road. We could only see their tail lights when we were nearly on top of them. The pavement was slicker than a greased pig. Twice I felt the car hydroplane, but Mick managed to keep it under control. Even so, I held my breath each time I felt the tires hit a puddle or the car jolted from the rushing of the wind as another car passed us by. My pulse raced, and my knuckles glowed white in the light from the dashboard where I squeezed my fingers together.

“Mick, maybe we should stop somewhere. Wait out the storm,” I ventured.

Mick, still annoyed with me, said, “I know how to drive, Cass. Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it.”

Not usually so stubborn, or so condescending, it was obvious I’d really ticked him off and he hadn’t forgiven me yet. We were about ten kilometres from home, nearly there, when it happened. The crash.

The b-double driver going too fast for road conditions hadn’t a hope of stopping. Mick didn’t see the oncoming headlights until far too late.


I woke, shaking, drenched in sweat. Even after five years I still frequently relived this nightmare while I slept.

I dragged myself out of bed and threw on some clothes. My hands still trembled as I grabbed my camera on the way out the door.

I walked the streets and paddocks, hoping they would work their magic and calm my nerves.

Buy Lifeboat on Amazon

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I'm Twelve

My child is far more mature than I am:

ParaNorman is on Netflix and I'm uber excited to watch it, but she's all, "Nah, let's check out Top Model."

I want to get cute tutu skirts to twirl in, but she's checking out the bootie shorts section.

She just asked when she can get her first phone. Hello - what happened to walkie talkies? Tin cans and string?

Also, she has decided that at fourteen she's gonna "get herself a boyfriend." Mama expired upon hearing that news; send chocolate in lieu of flowers.

I begged her to watch the newest episode of Gravity Falls because I wanted to find out what was going to happen.

Also, Good Luck Charlie is my favorite show on TV. I can't pass up a sitcom with the phrase "Has anyone seen my left shoe?" in the theme song. "There it is, up on the roof!"

There were rumblings of getting rid of the Barbies for a while, but that seems to have blown over. Whew! Dodged a bullet there! However, the not-so-good news is the Barbies are re-enacting Top Model.

All-day marathon of Avatar, the Last Airbender? I'm so in, with iced coffee and smores. But no.

I do see some hopeful signs:

When I offer to give helicopter rides - the kind where you pick up a kid with one arm, one leg, and spin them like mad - she still goes for it.
image courtesy of

She and her friends still enjoy making mud.

Stuffed animals are the most important thing in the entire world, so there's that.

She thinks it's funny to whack my butt cheeks and make a crashing cymbal sound. Mama's Junk Orchestra, y'all.

Yes, I'm twelve.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Threads, by Erin Latimer

Threads is a compelling, fun read, perfect for the beach or poolside. It is light as whipped cream or champagne bubbles, and just as delightful.

Alice is a 20-something whose boyfriend has just broken up with her. She lives with her parents and is shy; she also considers herself as a mousy, plain girl. When she gets a letter stating she has inherited Threads, she goes to visit it.

The store seems to be a boring shop that sells vacuums, until (SPOLER ALERT)

...Alice discovers  the Threads in the title are actually threads of magic she can manipulate, and the store sells magical items. Not vacuums. Yay! 

She and her staff, an elder witch, a tiger, and an elf, work in the shop (which moves to different cities depending on its whims.) I'm not usually an Elf type of person, but Latimer makes Demetri and the other characters very real. Their conversations and interactions are delightfully effortless. I adored Shakra, the tiger, as well as the friendship between Alice and the Azura, the older witch who teaches the girl magic and how to run the store.
Image courtesy of

The first section sets the scene, and enter two very different, enticing men: Alexie Ambrose, the popstar of the magic world, and Altair, a thief. Both are dangerous and exciting, and their interactions bring a round of adventures, complete with pretty clothes, limos, and more champagne.

I do see the Kindle version, at least, is immature in its formats. Formatting an ebook is an art unto itself, and the paragraph indents double up throughout the book. (I agree in advance I'm being uber-picky, but it is distracting.)

However, for 99 cents - NINETY NINE CENTS!!!! - this is a great choice. Latimer's characterization overcomes the format issues (as well as a need for another edit) and make this a wonderful book for the summer, if you like magic and adventure, plus a bit of romance. 

What I liked:

Demetri (not usually an elf gal, as I said, but he is well done.)

Alice herself - great main character.

The cover - Gorgeous.

Alice's friendships - I'm always up for a book that showcases female friendships. Alas, they are hard to find!

Altair - The thief is wickedly handsome, and the sparks between him and Alice fly.

The price - Again, 99 cents! For a week's entertainment! Unheard of.

The world - Latimer's creation is real. I can picture the shop and the characters.

The length - Chapters and chapters of magical reading.

Readability - Is that a word? In any case, Threads has that "elusive compulsive factor" I'm always on about. Latimer's style is effortless and breezy, and her chapter endings kept me reading far past my bedtime.

What I didn't like:

All the "A" names. I got a bit confused between Alexie, Altair, and Azura.

The formatting - A simple redo of the indent tabs would really improve the reading experience.

The main storyline - Latimer deftly creates her own living, breathing world, but the plot gets a bit lost in the result. However, it's not a huge deal, since there is excitement throughout. Things certainly pick up in the second half of the book, but I felt as though the author had to shuttle the characters to Altair's mansion to really get things going. (As an author, I sympathize. Moving characters around is exhausting.) 

I must add here: I was never bored, and I give this book a solid four stars for pure delightful fun and value.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Summer Reading

What's on my summer reading list:

Threads - Almost finished with this lovely, fun, light read from Erin Latimer. Expect a review soon. 

The Memory Keeper's Daughter - Actually, I just finished this one last night. I'll be writing a review for this book as well.

Shift - In the middle of the self-published Hugh Howey book. It's very compelling, although not quite as neatly done as Wool.

The Hope Store - I'm beta reading for the fabulous Dwight Okita, pictured above. Is that a face???!!! I just turn into my Great-Aunt Ada when I see him and want to pinch his cheeks!

Well,  the cover's beautiful.
A Discovery of Witches - I'm going to give it another try. Perhaps it will grab me this time round.

The Brothers Karamazov - I really need to read this. I never have, and it's time.

Poetry - I must feed my new poetry addiction. Not quite certain what I'm going to read yet; used to have a big collection inherited from my mom's English professor days. Would like something like that.

The Fault in Our Stars - I read the sample on Amazon, and it looks fantastic.

Black Numbers - I'm rereading this one. When it's done, I can then read Blood Numbers, the second Aleph Null book. Be warned - these are NOT for the faint of heart or readers under 21! However, the concepts, world-building, and the author's depth of feeling for his characters make these books wonderful.

...and just maybe all three Fringe books too. I can't get enough of Walter Bishop.