Blog Archives

Barbara Freethy Blog Tour & Giveaways hosted by Novel Publicity


All Callaway Book Covers

Check out this excerpt from #1 NY Times Bestselling Author Barbara Freethy’s first book in the Callaway family series… Then read on for more information about this blog tour and all its great prizes!

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco at sunset

Her father stared back at her, his eyes dark and unreadable. “Why are you here, Sara?”

“I wanted to be here for your birthday. It’s been a long time since we’ve shared more than an email. We should talk, catch up with each other.”

“Why on earth would you want to talk to me?”

The confusion in his eyes made her realize just how far apart they’d drifted. “Because you’re my father. You’re my family. We’re the only ones left.”

“Do you need money?”

“This isn’t about money. Mom would not have wanted us to end up like strangers. We need to improve our relationship.”

He stared back at her for a long moment, then said, “There’s nothing left for you here, Sara. I wish you well, but we both need to move on. If you stay, it won’t go well. We’ll only disappoint each other.”

Her chest tightened, the finality of his words bringing pain as well as anger. Her father was like a brick wall. She kept throwing herself at him, trying to break through his resistance, but all she ever achieved was a new batch of emotional bruises.

“You’re a grown woman now,” he added. “You don’t need a father.”

“Not that I ever really had one,” she countered, surprising herself a little with the words. She was used to holding her tongue when it came to her dad, because talking usually made things worse.

“I did my best.”

“Did you?”

A tickle caught at her throat and her eyes blurred with unwanted tears. She had not come here to cry. She sniffed, wondering why the air felt so thick. It took a minute to register that it was not her emotions that were making her eyes water, but smoke.

The same awareness flashed in her father’s eyes. “Damn,” he swore. “The kitchen—I was cooking—”

He ran out of the room, and she followed him down the stairs, shocked by how thick the smoke was in the entry.

She was on her dad’s heels when he entered the kitchen. The scene was unbelievable. Flames shot two feet in the air off a sizzling pot on the stove. The fire had found more fuel in a stack of newspapers on the counter that had been left too close to the burner, those sparks leaping to the nearby curtains.

Her father grabbed a towel and tried to beat out some of the flames, but his efforts only seemed to make things worse. Embers flew everywhere, finding new places to burn, the heat growing more and more intense. Moving to the sink, she turned on the faucet and filled up a pitcher, but it was taking too long to get enough water. She threw some of it at the fire, but it made no difference.

“Move aside,” her dad shouted, grabbing two hot pads.

“What are you doing?” she asked in confusion.

He tried to grab the pot and move it to the sink, but she was in the way, and he stumbled, dropping the pot in the garbage. She jumped back from an explosion of new fire.

“We have to call 911,” she said frantically. But there was no phone in the kitchen, and her cell phone was in her bag by the entry. “Let’s get out of here.”

Her father was still trying to put out the fire, but he was getting nowhere.

“Dad, please.”

“Get out, Sara,” he said forcefully, then ran into the adjacent laundry room.

“Wait! Where are you going?”

“I have to get something important,” he yelled back at her.

“Dad. We need to get out of the house.” She coughed out the words, but she might as well have remained silent because her dad had vanished through the laundry room and down the back stairs to the basement. She couldn’t imagine what he had to get. There was nothing but gardening tools and cleaning supplies down there.

She started to follow him, then jumped back as the fire caught the wallpaper next to her head, sizzling and leaping towards her clothing.

“Dad,” she screamed. “We need to get out of the house.”

A crash echoed through the house. Then all she could hear was the crackling of the fire.

Sara ran through the flames and down the stairs into the basement. A single light bulb dangled from a wire over the stairs, showing her father in a crumpled heap on the cement floor.

She dropped to her knees next to his still body. He was unconscious, blood under his head, and his right leg was twisted in an odd position. She put a hand on his chest. His heart was still beating.

“Dad,” she said. “Wake up.”

He blinked groggily. “Sara?” he asked in confusion. “What are you doing here?”

“The kitchen is on fire. We need to get out of the house.” A glance back over her shoulder revealed smoke pouring through the open door at the top of the stairs. There was no way out of the basement without going through the kitchen.

Her father tried to sit up, but quickly fell back, groaning with pain. “My leg is broken. You go.”

“I can’t leave you here. That’s not an option.”

“You can’t carry me. Go. Get help.”

“I’ll be right back,” she promised.

She ran up the stairs, shocked and terrified when she saw how much worse the fire had gotten in literally minutes. The heat was intense. She could barely breathe, and there was a wall of flames between her and the only way out. She couldn’t afford to be scared. Grabbing a towel off the top of the nearby washing machine, she covered her nose and mouth, and prepared to make a dash for it.

Before she could move, a figure appeared on the other side of the flames—a man.

A wave of relief swept through her. Help had arrived.

He barreled through the fire and smoke, batting away the flames as if they were troublesome bees. When he stopped in front of her, her heart jumped again.

“Aiden?” She lowered the towel from her face. He was the last Callaway she wanted to see.

About the Callaway Blog Tour & All Its Great Prizes!

Callaway Tour Badge

This is the week you finally meet the Callaways! Not only are they all over the web as part of their extraordinary blog tour, but they are also out and about in your neighborhood. That’s right; we’re celebrating the print launch with Ingram by throwing a party all over the world! Make sure to follow this tour closely for your chance to win gift cards, swag, autographed books, and other incredible prizes.

All the info you need to join the fun and enter to win amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment—easy to enter; easy to win!

To Win the Prizes:

  1. Purchase any of the Callaway novels by Barbara Freethy (optional)
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity (go here)
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event (that’s where the HUGE prizes are)

About The Callaways: The Callaways were born to serve and protect! In Barbara’s new connected family series, each of the eight siblings in this blended Irish-American family find love, mystery and adventure, often where they least expect it! Each book stands alone, but for the full enjoyment of the series, you might want to start at the beginning with On A Night Like This! Get the eBooks via AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks, or Kobo.

About the Author: Barbara Freethy has been making up stories most of her life. Growing up in a neighborhood with only boys and a big brother who was usually trying to ditch her, she spent a lot of time reading. When she wasn’t reading, she was imagining her own books. After college and several years in the P.R. field, she decided to try her hand at a novel. Now Barbara is a #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author loved by readers all over the world. Her novels range from contemporary romance to romantic suspense and women’s fiction. Learn more on her websiteFacebook page, or in her Street Team.

Advertisements

#1 NY Times Bestselling Author Barbara Freethy Interview & Blog Tour from Novel Publicity


#1 NY Times Bestselling Author Barbara Freethy talks inspiration, romance, and research, plus tells us about the Callaways and how their lives resemble her own… Check out what she has to say and then read on for more information about this blog tour and all its great prizes!

All Callaway Book Covers

 

What do you love most about being an author?

Being able to tell stories! I’ve been a voracious reader since I was a child, and having a job that allows me to create my own worlds, characters and plots is a dream come true.

What first inspired you to write the Callaways? Where did you get the initial idea for the series?

I had wanted to write a family series for a while, and I wanted the family to be blended, just to make the dynamics a little more interesting. Jack Callaway was a widower with four small boys when he met Lynda Kane, a divorcee with two small girls. They fell in love, got married and had twins. The eight siblings are now adults and range in age between 35 and 25. I also wanted the Callaways to stand for something. So there’s a family tradition of “serve and protect”. All the kids are raised with the idea that they need to serve the community, to help others and to always protect the family as well as anyone else in trouble. And the Callaways always seem to find trouble, even when they’re not looking for it.

Which of the Callaway siblings is the most like you? How are the two of you similar?

There is a piece of me in every character that I write, which makes it impossible for me to ever pick a favorite. I do like Emma a lot, because she’s the one person in the family who has a close relationship with every sibling. She’s also independent, brave and loving, which are all great traits.

Your characters all have such fascinating jobs, and, in reading your novels, it feels like I’m right there with them. How do you perform your research in order to make careers such as a smoke jumper, homicide detective, or Coast Guard rescue pilot so authentic?

I’ve read quite a few nonfiction books and articles written by smoke jumpers, firefighters, cops, etc. And I have a writer friend who is also a police detective, so I often ask her for help with the more technical aspects. But what’s really fun about writing is discovering new things—so I love to write about people in careers I don’t know that much about. In THAT SUMMER NIGHT, one of the characters is tied into the pharmaceutical industry, and I had never written a book that delved into that area. I found some of the true whistleblower stories that I read in preparation for writing that book to be fascinating. I think enjoying research is probably a big part of being a successful writer. I was born with a curiosity and an imagination. Writing is a great outlet!

The Callaways all have such beautiful, unique love stories. How do you get in the mindset for writing them? Are any of their stories inspired, at least in part, by your own real-life love story?

I have a wonderful husband who always takes credit for being my inspiration. And while that’s true, as a writer I do love to explore stories beyond my own personal experience. I like to bring together couples who complement each other but also drive each other a little crazy. I think love is about finding that one person who pushes you to be better, who challenges the way you think, supports you no matter what and gives you that heady, dizzy, wonderful feeling that comes when you fall in love.

I love that your novels are not only awesome romances but also have gripping suspense as a central part of the story line. How do you start planning your novels with the romance or with the suspense—or with something else altogether?

I enjoy writing romance that brings a little extra in terms of a plot. So every Callaway novel features a great love story, a puzzling mystery, some family drama and a little nerve-tingling suspense. I don’t outline in great detail, but I always have a general idea of the suspense plot points before I begin. The story takes shape and changes as I put myself into the characters’ heads. That’s part of the fun of writing!

Congrats on your groundbreaking, new partnership with Ingram to get the paperback editions of the Callaways out to the world. What about this opportunity has you most excited?

Since I formed my own publishing company and began independently publishing my books outside of the traditional New York publishing industry, it’s been a challenge to get my books into print and into physical bookstores across the country. Late last year, I entered into a groundbreaking partnership with Ingram Publisher Services to sell and distribute my books into retail outlets like Target, Barnes and Noble, airport bookstores and supermarkets, as well as other bookstore chains. I know there are lots of readers who still prefer to read in print, and I’m thrilled that they’ll now be able to read my bestselling digital series in their favorite format!

About the Callaway Blog Tour & All Its Great Prizes!

Callaway Tour Badge

This is the week you finally meet the Callaways! Not only are they all over the web as part of their extraordinary blog tour, but they are also out and about in your neighborhood. That’s right; we’re celebrating the print launch with Ingram by throwing a party all over the world! Make sure to follow this tour closely for your chance to win gift cards, swag, autographed books, and other incredible prizes.

All the info you need to join the fun and enter to win amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment—easy to enter; easy to win!

To Win the Prizes:

  1. Purchase any of the Callaway novels by Barbara Freethy (optional)
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity (go here)
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event (that’s where the HUGE prizes are)

About The Callaways: The Callaways were born to serve and protect! In Barbara’s new connected family series, each of the eight siblings in this blended Irish-American family find love, mystery and adventure, often where they least expect it! Each book stands alone, but for the full enjoyment of the series, you might want to start at the beginning with On A Night Like This! Get the eBooks via AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks, or Kobo.

About the Author: Barbara Freethy has been making up stories most of her life. Growing up in a neighborhood with only boys and a big brother who was usually trying to ditch her, she spent a lot of time reading. When she wasn’t reading, she was imagining her own books. After college and several years in the P.R. field, she decided to try her hand at a novel. Now Barbara is a #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author loved by readers all over the world. Her novels range from contemporary romance to romantic suspense and women’s fiction. Learn more on her websiteFacebook page, or in her Street Team.

 

 

 

 

Sign Up For A Novel Publicity Blog Tour Featuring Barbara Freethy


Is there anything better than falling in love with a new book? How about falling in love with a whole new series?
Well, here’s an awesome opportunity for you! Now you can get to know the New York Times and USA Today bestselling contemporary romance series by #1 NY Times Bestselling Author Barbra Freethy as part of a fun publicity event. Each Callaway novel is filled with romance, suspense, and adventure. You can read all 8 books in the Callaway series for free (or, if you choose, you can give the series a try by reading just the first book, or you can host a guest post or interview instead—there’s lots of options). How cool is that?!
The event will run from April 6 to April 11 and will celebrate the strong women in our lives with guest posts and interviews from the author, Callaway excerpts, and–of course–your reviews! We’ll have lots of prizes to give away too, including Amazon gift cards, autographed books, and Callaway swag!
Don’t have time to read and review? That’s okay, you can still participate and compete for these awesome prizes by hosting a guest post, excerpt, or interview–but I hear you’re going to want to read all about the Callaways. Once you get started, it’s so hard to stop.
To sign up for this tour, visit www.novelpublicity.com/callaways. To learn more about the author and her bestselling series, keep reading J

About On A Night Like This, Book #1 of the Callaway Series

From #1 NY Times Bestselling Author, Barbara Freethy, comes a romantic new contemporary series about the Callaways, a big, blended Irish family born to serve and protect. 
The second oldest of the Callaway clan, Aiden Callaway veered from the family tradition of urban firefighting and became a smokejumper, never questioning his choice until the job took the life of his friend, Kyle, and left Aiden with injuries and fractured memories. Everyone blames Aiden for what happened, but he doesn’t remember, nor is he sure he wants to remember. The truth may clear Aiden of blame but destroy Kyle’s reputation and hurt the people he left behind.
Aiden seeks help from an unlikely ally …
Sara had always been untouchable, sweet, innocent, his sister’s best friend, and the girl next door. But one reckless night in their youth took their relationship to a new level. Sara has never forgiven or forgotten the way Aiden brought it crashing down, but she’s no longer that girl with the crazy crush. She’s a woman in search of her own truth.
The sparks between Aiden and Sara have been smoldering for a very long time. Sara is afraid to take another chance on a man who broke her heart, and Aiden knows better than anyone how dangerous an intense fire can be.
As teenagers they weren’t ready for each other. Are they ready now?
ON A NIGHT LIKE THIS is the first book in an eight book connected contemporary romance series featuring the intriguing Callaway family. Love, mystery, adventure — the Callaways have it all!

About the Author

Barbara Freethy is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of 40 novels. Traditionally published for many years, in 2011 Barbara began self-publishing her backlist and has sold over 5 million ebooks and as of today she is the bestselling KDP Author of ALL TIME! Nineteen of her titles have appeared on the NY Times and USA Today bestseller lists. Her book SUMMER SECRETS hit #1 on the New York Times and remained on the list for seven weeks.
Barbara writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense and women’s fiction. She is known for writing emotional and compelling stories about love and family, sometimes with a little suspense, sometimes with a little magic.

SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY (SHATTER POINT by JEFF ALTABEF)


3D-ShatterPointAbout the book: Maggie met Cooper at a young age, but even then she sensed something was wrong with him. His charm, good looks, and wealth could not hide the danger that burned in his sapphire eyes.
Some nightmares don’t go away. He’d been haunting her from a distance for as long as she could remember.

Now things have changed.

When her sons Jack and Tom discover she’s been taken, they set out to rescue her and uncover nefarious family secrets, explosive government conspiracies, and a series of horrific murders along the way. Only their colorful great aunt and a covert resistance group can help them navigate the dark underworld full of political subterfuge and class warfare.

All the while, Maggie struggles to outwit her tormentor in a life and death psychological battle of tense desperation. Will Jack and Tom arrive before Cooper reaches his shatter point?

Midwest Book Review has described Jeff Altabef as an “articulate and engaging story teller” and “a contemporary novelist of considerable merit and imagination.”

Amazon.comBarnes & NobleiTunes

Readers' Favorite 5-Star ReviewReader’s Favorite has given Shatter Point two 5 Star Reviews!

This is one of those books that no reader will be able to part with until they reach the end, I guarantee it. —Anne-Marie Reynolds, Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews and Awards

This book has myriad twists and turns that will keep you holding on and wondering what is coming next.—Kathryn Bennett, Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews and Awards

 

 

About the prizes: Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win a $15.00 gift cards to Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or an autographed copy of Shatter Point!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

HeadshotAbout the author: Jeff Altabef lives in New York with his wife, two daughters, and Charlie the dog. He spends time volunteering at the writing center in the local community college. After years of being accused of “telling stories,” he thought he would make it official. He writes in both the thriller and young adult genres. Fourteenth Colony, a political thriller, is his debut novel. Jeff has a blog designed to encourage writing by those that like telling stories. You can find his blog, The Accidental Writers Workshop, on The Patch.

Connect with Jeff on his website, Facebook, Twitter,or GoodReads.

 

Read an Exceprt!

I’m a killer. No better than a common murderer, and worse, really. More like a serial killer who can’t help himself as he takes life after life, unable to stop even if he wished he could.

Darian frowned at the corpse on the stainless steel autopsy table. “Damn it, Zeus, I thought you were going to make it.” His frown deepened until long lines etched into his face. Remorse wasn’t good enough. It was useless. Pointless, really. Remorse would not bring Zeus or any of the others back.
He glanced at the video projections of Zeus’s brain development. His original brain on the left screen appeared normally formed and perfectly functional. The one on the right showed Zeus’s brain after he had injected him. Misshapen and grotesque, it was so overdeveloped it strained against the skull.
Darian shook his head. “Not again. I can’t lose another batch of test subjects.”
“We’re making progress, Doctor Beck. This time, the brain enlargement slowed at the end. With some adjustments, next time it might stop before….” George attempted to smile, but only the tips of his lips responded. Twice Darian’s age, he was so optimistic he could see the silver lining in a hurricane, but this lethal turn of events left even him speechless.
“We’re missing something critical. We need to stop the brain development before it overwhelms the subject.” Darian peered through the glass wall that separated the autopsy room from the rest of the laboratory. The remaining five subjects sat perfectly straight and stared mournfully at the glass as if Darian and Zeus and the table with death hovering above it drew their gaze.
An icy chill tickled its way up his spine. The others had no idea Zeus had died. They were often separated. To them, the glass wall was a simple mirror. They had no idea—could have no idea—a laboratory sat beyond the glass, yet he suspected they knew the truth: that Zeus was dead and he the killer.
Darian nodded toward the remaining subjects. “It’s odd that they haven’t eaten their breakfast. It’s already past noon. They must be hungry.”
Color drained from George’s face. “It’s unnatural for them to stare at the mirror like that.”
Darian pressed a button on a keypad and the one-way glass window turned gray, blocking the other subjects from view. Led Zeppelin started playing. “It’s just our imagination. Hand me the circular saw. Let’s hope we can learn enough from Zeus to save his friends.”
George handed him the shiny autopsy tool, but before he switched it on, the lab door swung open and Brenda Callaghan darted into the room. The normally composed, rather attractive young researcher appeared ashen, her jaw clenched tight.
“What’s wrong, Brenda?”

Amazon.comBarnes & NobleiTunes

Interview, Cover Reveal & Giveaway with Fantasy Author, Melissa McPhail


Interview, Cover Reveal & Giveaway with Fantasy Author, Melissa McPhail

  1. How important do you think cover art is to selling your books?

I think cover art is essential to book sales. A well-crafted cover will tell the reader in which genre the book is classified, represent in some way the story’s theme, and give an overall impression of the world. Fantasy book covers are vital to presenting a sense and feeling of the world. In many cases, the cover is the only visual representation a reader gets.

And of course, we all know that a book cover done well will catch a potential reader’s attention. It’s your best and sometimes only chance to make that memorable first impression.

  1. For self-published and small house published authors, what do think is important to remember when deciding on the final cover for your work?

I stand firmly on the side advocating book covers that support the central themes of the story they contain. For literary fiction, you can get away with more creative (or minimalist) covers that don’t have much to do with the story itself but are artful and visually compelling.

But for fantasy and other genre fiction, covers should capture a particular feeling that’s prevalent in the story (loneliness, peril, mystery, love, longing…) and give the reader some sense of the world.

No matter your genre, ensure your cover communicates the things you need and want it to communicate, and don’t settle for anything less. The cover is your first communication to a potential reader. Make sure the communication you want is what gets across to them.

  1. Who did you choose to use for cover art, and why? What was your process for deciding on who to use?

With the original covers for Cephrael’s Hand and The Dagger of Adendigaeth, I used an independent digital artist, Kentaro Kanamoto, to create the artwork, and then I designed the covers around the artwork.

The new covers were produced by Damonza.com. I really liked their approach to cover design and was attracted to them originally when I saw a cover they produced for another independent author. They ask for a lot of information about the story and its central themes up front, and then they get busy creating. They worked with me through a number of revisions until I was happy with the covers.

  1. How does the new cover better relate to the book and its characters?

It was important to me to ensure that the new covers give a sense of the world as well as some of the story’s key thematic elements. All three of the new book covers give a visual representation of more themes that are central to their part of the story.

Cephrael’s Hand is the name of a constellation that features prominently in book one, so of course those stars are represented on the cover.

Patterning is the name of the magic system in the world, and some representation of Patterning is included on all of my new covers.

For the cover of Cephrael’s Hand, the most central character in the story is working a pattern. This was important to me, as I feel having that image there helps establish a visual concept of Patterning for the reader early on in the series. The new Cephrael’s Hand cover also gives a sense of the time period and setting of the story.

  1. Can we expect similar covers for the rest of the series?

Yes. I decided to rebrand the entire series with new covers. Having all of the books similarly branded as part of the same series is important for continuity and will help readers from becoming confused. The covers also help establish a growing concept of the world as the story grows.

Interestingly, I debated rebranding the earlier books, since ideally once your readers are heading into the second or third books, they’re already committed to your series. It brooked the question if book covers were still that important later in a series. But as I looked at this topic, I saw that you never know at what point a reader will come across your books. Too, it isn’t always the first book that grabs their attention. So great covers are a must for every book.

  1. Speaking of the series, when will books 2 and 3 be available?

Book two, The Dagger of Adendigaeth, was released in 2012, and book three, Paths of Alir, will be available in October 2014.

 

The Cover Reveal & Giveaway

Are you ready for the reveal of the new Cephrael’s Hand cover? Because here it is! What do you think? Does it do a good job conveying the fantasy genre? Is it a book you’d be attracted to in the store? Does it make you want to learn more?

Cephrael's Hand - NEW COVER

Thank you for helping us celebrate! If you’d like to see the new covers for books 2 and 3 in the series stop by www.MelissaMcPhail.com, and check them out.

Guess what else? The author is offering a special giveaway as part of this grand event. Check out the Rafflecopter form below (it’s also available at www.novelpublicity.com/cephrael-cover-reveal/) to find out how you can win a Kindle Fire. Hooray!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Oh, and don’t miss learning more about Cephrael’s Hand and where you can pick up a copy—that’s below too.

“All things are composed of patterns…” And within the pattern of the realm of Alorin, three strands must cross:

In Alorin… three hundred years after the genocidal Adept Wars, the realm is dying, and the blessed Adept race dies with it. One man holds the secret to reverting this decline: Bjorn van Gelderan, a dangerous and enigmatic man whose shocking betrayal three centuries past earned him a traitor’s brand. It is the Adept Vestal Raine D’Lacourte’s mission to learn what Bjorn knows in the hope of salvaging his race. But first he’ll have to find him.

In the kingdom of Dannym… the young Prince Ean val Lorian faces a tenuous future as the last living heir to the coveted Eagle Throne. When his blood-brother is slain during a failed assassination, Ean embarks on a desperate hunt for the man responsible. Yet his advisors have their own agendas, and his quest for vengeance leads him ever deeper into a sinuous plot masterminded by a mysterious and powerful man, the one they call First Lord.

In the Nadori desert…tormented by the missing pieces of his life, a soldier named Trell heads off to uncover the truth of his shadowed past. But when disaster places him in the debt of Wildlings sworn to the First Lord, Trell begins to suspect a deadlier, darker secret motivating them. Honor-bound to serve the First Lord in return for his life, Trell continues on his appointed path, yet each day unveils new and stranger secrets that eventually call into question everything he knows.

Get it on AmazonBarnes & Noble, or wherever awesome eBooks are sold!

 

A Guest Post & Cover Reveal by Melissa McPhail


One Often Overlooked Element of World-Building

A Guest Post & Cover Reveal by Melissa McPhail

Every author should understand world-building. Whether engaged in the writing of genre or literary fiction, an author crafts a unique world with each novel. Even when set in the present day, the novel’s events layer a new dimension upon our visible reality. It’s the dimension of those characters, of that story, but it should feel as real to the reader as his own tangible environment.

One overlooked element in world-building is religion. Often when religion isn’t factoring into the plot of the story, the author may fail to mention it. Yet when we take a look at how religion influences our daily lives—even when we ourselves may practice no particular faith—it’s clear that religion of some nature is part and parcel to nearly every culture that inhabits this earth.

Religion influences our daily interactions with others (moral codes, traditions) and for many, it determines at least in part the way they spend their mornings, nights or weekends. It even influences the words we swear (or curse) by.

Religious symbols and icons are prevalent in society, from cathedrals to dollar bills to the skylines of Earth’s most ancient cities. Sadly, in today’s culture, the subject of religion provides unending fodder for politicians, litigators, pundits and malcontents; yet these detractions aside, the belief in something greater than ourselves continues to offer spiritual succor for a majority of the world’s population.

Whether you as the author practice any faith, it’s impossible to escape the cultural foundations the world’s religions—from the pagan to the divine—have established through the centuries. Why would life be any different for other cultures, other worlds, other lands? Or for your magical vampire hunter detective?

Don’t overlook this valuable tool for making the world of your novel more real to the reader. The inclusion of some religious mention—whether mystical, magical or mythological—can bring greater depth to any story and create instant bonds of reality between the reader and your characters.

With that said, happy writing!

 

The Cover Reveal & Giveaway

Are you ready for the reveal of the new Cephrael’s Hand cover? Because here it is! What do you think? Does it do a good job conveying the fantasy genre? Is it a book you’d be attracted to in the store? Does it make you want to learn more?

Cephrael's Hand - NEW COVER

Thank you for helping us celebrate! If you’d like to see the new covers for books 2 and 3 in the series stop by www.MelissaMcPhail.com, and check them out.

Guess what else? The author is offering a special giveaway as part of this grand event. Check out the Rafflecopter form below (it’s also available at www.novelpublicity.com/cephrael-cover-reveal/) to find out how you can win a Kindle Fire. Hooray!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Oh, and don’t miss learning more about Cephrael’s Hand and where you can pick up a copy—that’s below too.

“All things are composed of patterns…” And within the pattern of the realm of Alorin, three strands must cross:

In Alorin… three hundred years after the genocidal Adept Wars, the realm is dying, and the blessed Adept race dies with it. One man holds the secret to reverting this decline: Bjorn van Gelderan, a dangerous and enigmatic man whose shocking betrayal three centuries past earned him a traitor’s brand. It is the Adept Vestal Raine D’Lacourte’s mission to learn what Bjorn knows in the hope of salvaging his race. But first he’ll have to find him.

In the kingdom of Dannym… the young Prince Ean val Lorian faces a tenuous future as the last living heir to the coveted Eagle Throne. When his blood-brother is slain during a failed assassination, Ean embarks on a desperate hunt for the man responsible. Yet his advisors have their own agendas, and his quest for vengeance leads him ever deeper into a sinuous plot masterminded by a mysterious and powerful man, the one they call First Lord.

In the Nadori desert…tormented by the missing pieces of his life, a soldier named Trell heads off to uncover the truth of his shadowed past. But when disaster places him in the debt of Wildlings sworn to the First Lord, Trell begins to suspect a deadlier, darker secret motivating them. Honor-bound to serve the First Lord in return for his life, Trell continues on his appointed path, yet each day unveils new and stranger secrets that eventually call into question everything he knows.

Get it on AmazonBarnes & Noble, or wherever awesome eBooks are sold!

 

(Novel Publicity) Render Blog Tour


Please enjoy this fun, playful excerpt from Render by Stephanie Fleshman. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

Render: An Excerpt

I spin around and pull her to me, sighing as her arms lock around my neck. I lower my face to her hair, turning it into the curve of her neck to breathe her in.

Her body molds to mine, lithe and boneless, and my arms swallow her as I tighten my hold. It softens all the hard points, the tension I’d been holding onto, smoothing the muscles in my shoulders and back.

“You have great problem-solving skills, by the way,” I tell her softly in her ear.

Keeping her arms around me, she leans back against the wall to look at me, a baffled expression on her face, whether in relation to the compliment or the unexpected direction in conversation, I don’t know.

“Do I?” Her voice lifts in a flirtatious pitch.

“Mmm. It’s why I asked you out,” I tease. “You solved most of my problems just by agreeing.” Looking back, I realize just how true this is, though I doubt she’ll take me seriously.

Her lips curl in an obliging smile, and her eyes say it all, disbelieving in their beauty, corroborating what I already knew. But she’s still smiling, and I alone am responsible for that.

She curls her hand around the side of my neck, and I feel her thumb glide over the scar behind my earlobe, one I incurred at fourteen, when Lukas slammed my head into the bathroom mirror. Then I broke his collarbone. Both of us ended up in the emergency room that morning, an incident that resulted in our father leaving for work a half hour later. It’s always quieter when our father is home.

“How are you doing?” she asks, looking up to search my eyes.

I slide my hands from the small of her back to her waist, as my gaze sweeps from shoulder to shoulder. I can already feel the ground of normalcy beneath me, her presence holding the pieces of my life together, when it seems everything can come apart at any moment. “Good now that you’re here.”

This seems to make her both happy and sad. A look of gloom passes over her face even as a small smile touches her lips. Then her eyes trail down the front of my body, taking in my suit jacket and pants. “You look like a lawyer,” she comments. “Straight from the courtroom.”

I can’t remember a time when she’s ever seen me in a suit. The closest is the tux I wore to her senior prom two months ago, which is not much different than what I wear now.

“It suits you.”

I raise my eyebrows in doubt. “What? Looking like a lawyer?”

“Not just a lawyer. You look…professional.” Then, with a full smile, she adds, “I like it.”

“Ah,” I say, mirroring her smile as I grasp her meaning. “I like that you’re my biggest fan.”

Her teeth shine bright against her tan skin. She drops her arms to her sides, and I lace my fingers through hers. She smells of honeysuckle, vanilla, and lavender all at once, with soft underlying notes I can’t name, a scent that swirls inside me, tantalizing every cell in my body.

I lean forward, canting my head slightly to fit my lips to hers. I have to fight to keep the rhythm slow, to savor every second. But when her mouth opens, urgency builds within me, and I press farther. Too soon, though, she’s pulling away, leaving my blood pumping in a hot stream and my heart pounding against my chest. I place a hand on the wall behind her and lean forward, closing the narrow space she’s put between us.

“I wasn’t finished,” I say.

I’m already tilting my head to kiss her again when she stops me with one word. “Wait.”

“Wait?” I mutter against her lips.

I feel her palms on my chest, easing me back. It’s hard to concentrate on anything but touching her, but I slowly resign myself to the conversation that is apparently inevitable, when my only instinct is to kiss her. I straighten and meet her eyes, which does nothing to tame my thoughts.

“I got your note,” she says.

When I started mowing Mrs. Whitney’s lawn, Elizabeth gave me a key, so I could let myself in when they weren’t home. In the beginning, I would leave Raya notes on her dresser, not knowing at the time that she’d actually keep them. When she showed me every note I’d ever written her, my first instinct was to laugh, because it seemed senseless. But then I saw how impressed she was and felt empowered that I could make her so happy. She probably has a shoebox full of notes by now.

I back her against the wall until we’re touching from hips to shoulders. Her eyes, as warm and green as summer leaves, meet mine. She’s looking at me as if I did something amazing, but just in case, I ask, “Is that all? Or is there something else you want to add, because I’d really like to kiss you right now?”

Her eyes dip momentarily to my mouth. “I was going to thank you for the note, but you distracted me.”

“You don’t need words for that.”

Render Tour BadgeAs part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, Render, the debut YA Paranormal novel by Stephanie Fleshman, is on sale for just 99 cents! What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.

The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Get Render at its discounted price of 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest below
  3. Visit the featured social media events
  4. Leave a comment on my blog for a chance at a $100 prize.

About Render: A betrayal born of blood. A curse for a gift. A love worth saving… Seventeen-year-old Raya Whitney thought she knew Koldan–until a sudden turn of events threatens both their lives. Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes.

Stephanie Fleshman graduated with a degree in psychology and has family throughout the United States as well as in Thessaloniki and Athens, Greece. Visit Stephanie on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

(Novel Publicity) Interview with Stephanie Fleshman (Render)


Please enjoy this interview with Stephanie Fleshman, author of the enticing Paranormal YA, Render. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

An Interview with Stephanie Fleshman

Author of YA Paranormal Novel, Render

1. How do your experiences traveling and growing up in a rural town help you to write?

Traveling has always stimulated the passion I have for learning other cultures. Render definitely depicts that, since I bring so many other cultures into the story.

2. You are among many new authors who went to a post-secondary school for something completely different from writing. How does your degree in psychology play a role in your writing?

Psychology is the study of human behavior, so that has definitely helped to create multi-dimensional characters.

3. Do you have any advice for others who have stuck to a career path, but find that writing is their true calling?

I don’t believe you have to choose. Experience and knowledge of different fields can benefit a writing career, depending on what you want to write.

4. Who are two of your favorite authors, and why do those authors speak to you?

Cormac McCarthy. I think he is a literary genius.

J.K. Rowling. She is a true storyteller, which I believe is different than telling a story.

5. You use some really unique names in Render like Koldan, Raya Whitney and “The Russian.” Where did you get the inspiration for the names? Secondly, when in the writing process do you name characters?

I start with names, but those names have a tendency to change throughout the story. For Render, most of the names had to do with origin.

6. “Koldan Holdt knows what he wants.” He knows, but his fate has been determined since before his birth. Can you discuss how people find their way around the obstacles of life as well as any suggestions you might have?

Recognizing there is no such thing as complete control–the control you do have is determined by different variables, one being the choices you make.

Render Tour BadgeAs part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, Render, the debut YA Paranormal novel by Stephanie Fleshman, is on sale for just 99 cents! What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.

The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Get Render at its discounted price of 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest below
  3. Visit the featured social media events
  4. Leave a comment on my blog for a chance at a $100 prize.

About Render: A betrayal born of blood. A curse for a gift. A love worth saving… Seventeen-year-old Raya Whitney thought she knew Koldan–until a sudden turn of events threatens both their lives. Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes.

Stephanie Fleshman graduated with a degree in psychology and has family throughout the United States as well as in Thessaloniki and Athens, Greece. Visit Stephanie on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Novel Publicity Tour Recruitment


Hey, blogger friends, listen up! I’ve got a chance for you to receive a free eBook and to compete for over $750 in prizes, and it’s so easy to participate. Read on for more…

Novel Publicity is currently recruiting for one of our gigantic whirlwind tours. YAY! Each whirlwind tour boasts hundreds of dollars in cash prizes and autographed books, sometimes even Kindle Fires. NP also provide eBook copies for all reviewers. This time, they’re touring the debut YA novel by Stephanie Fleshman, Render.

Choose to be one of the first to read this awesome new book, or, instead, host an excerpt, interview, or guest post. That’s right, you don’t even have to read the books to participate–although that’s definitely an option. Novel Publicity will provide your choice of a pre-formatted excerpt, interview, or guest post to make participation easy.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN-UP!

Render A Recompense 600x800Tour Dates: September 9 to 13, 2013

Genre: Paranormal YA

Page Count: 399

The Prizes:

* $100 Best/ most creative entry

* $100 Random commenter prize

* $50 Rafflecopter (2 prizes)

* $50 Random blogger award

* $50 GoodReads party prize

* $50 Facebook sharing contest

* $100 in the special author contest

* Kindle Fire in the special author contest

CLICK HERE TO SIGN-UP!

 

About Render

A betrayal born of blood

A curse for a gift

A love worth saving

Koldan Holdt knows what he wants. The problem is his future was decided the day he was born—a future void of everything he has ever known.

Days before summer vacation, Koldan’s grandfather suddenly dies, leaving the consequences that have followed him since he fled his country to fall to Koldan. As Koldan learns about his new fate, he must accept the terms to which he is bound and live without the one person he wants, or remain true to who he is and risk both their lives repeating the choices his grandfather made.

Seventeen-year-old Raya Whitney thought she knew Koldan…until a sudden turn of events threatens both their lives. While she is not willing to give up without a fight, she knows it is a deadly game to stay together.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN-UP!

(Novel Publicity) Excerpt from Along the Watchtower (David Litwack) GIVEAWAY!


Please enjoy this gripping excerpt from Along the Watchtower by David Litwack. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $650 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.

Becky

On the ground floor, the center of the hospital opened into a small courtyard, an insecure space with too many places for insurgents to hide. I took a quick breath and tensed.

“Wait up, Ralph.”

“It’s okay, Freddie. You’re safe here.”

“Give me a minute. It’s my first time out.”

I surveyed the perimeter. A few benches. A flower garden dominated by hydrangeas, but not like the softball-sized blossoms my mom used to grow. These were small and paler than the Cape Cod variety, which were a blue that could compete with the sky.

At once, I could see my mom, hands buried in the hydrangeas, grooming her flowers—one of the few memories I could bear to recall. Me and my brothers in the driveway shooting hoops. Mom telling us to keep the ball out of her garden. She was happy then, surrounded by her family, her garden, and the ocean.

I looked past the hydrangeas to find purple asters and some lilies too. But no roses. For some reason, I’d been hoping for roses.

Despite the nice day, the courtyard was deserted, except for a woman about my age who sat on a wooden bench, finishing up a brown-bag lunch. Her eyes were closed and her head tipped back to take in the sun, making her appear to be dreaming. Sitting alone on the bench, her face seemed framed by flowers.

When she heard us coming, she sat up, straightened her scrubs, and smiled.

“Hey, Ralph. What do you have there? Another victim for me?”

“Becky,” Ralph said. “What’s up? This is Freddie, Lt. Williams, our newest patient. We’re trying to bring him back from the dead. Freddie, meet Becky Marshall, one of our physical therapists.”

I nodded a greeting to her, not much in the mood for small talk. She tilted her head to one side as if evaluating me. Then she gave me the kind of look that said we’d met before, if not in this world than in another, and that she intended to make a difference in my life.

“Is he ready for me?”

“Soon. If he’s assigned to you.”

My attention was drawn to a soda can on the bench next to her. I’d seen too many IEDs in soda cans.

She caught me fixating on it and grinned.

“Just my diet Pepsi, Freddie. See?”

She chugged what was left and tossed the can into a nearby trash basket. Then she crumpled the bag into a ball and to show off, stepped off exactly five paces and shot the bag into the basket in a perfect arc.

“Nice shot,” I said.

“I make that shot every time.”

“Yeah, right.”

She came close enough that our knees were almost touching and hovered over me, sizing me up.

“You’ll be mine,” she said finally. “I can tell. I get all the hard cases.”

As she walked away, light on her feet like a dancer, I fumbled for the wheel of the chair, trying to spin it around so I could watch her go. But Ralph had set the brake.

The Gardener

The white butterfly fluttered before her face. When she saw it, she reached out a hand and at once it landed on the curve of her wrist.

“Now there’s a fine omen for you,” she said. “Light knows we need one these days.” She whispered some words and the butterfly flew off across the courtyard and out over the castle wall.

A fine omen? Perhaps. But I’d learned to be wary. I stepped forward, scuffling my boots to make noise. She ignored my presence. Not until I was a pace away did she turn.

It was hard to say if she was beautiful or even pretty. Soil from the garden had splattered her cheeks and marked her forehead with a splotch that looked like a raven. A muddied apron hid her shape. But I took note of a glint in her gray-green eyes, as if the flowers had conspired to lend their color. And her mouth was a crescent moon upturned on its side.

The corners of the crescent twitched when she saw me but only for an instant. Then she went back to her work as if I were invisible. Her hands cradled each bloom as she sliced off the heads with a small knife.

“Are you spirit or demon?” I demanded.

She made no answer.

I drew my sword, relieved it slipped so easily from its scabbard, and stretched it in her direction. She watched the point from the corner of her eye but kept her head down and continued to work. Finally, I nudged her with the tip.

She let out a yelp. Only then did I realize I’d thrust too hard, and the blade had slit her garment. I backed off at once, ready to apologize, but then recalled my encounter with the assassin. I poked again, more gently this time.

“Why do you keep doing that?” she said.

“To see if you’re real.”

She stood and faced me, feet set wide and planted squarely on the ground.

“Why shouldn’t I be real?”

She was tall for a girl, her head rising above my chin, and had a bearing unlike a servant. When I continued to challenge her, she reached out and eased the point of my sword to one side.

“Would you put that silly thing away?”

I began to back off, then remembered the circumstance and held firm. “Why didn’t you say anything when I first approached you?”

“Because we servants aren’t supposed to talk to you royals.” She lowered her gaze and turned back to the flowers. “I’m sorry . . . Milord.”

“What’s your name?”

“Rebecca.”

“Rebecca. My name is Frederick.”

She paled and then bent in a deep curtsy, her brashness collapsing into two whispered words. “The dauphin.” . . .

I wandered in a circle, hands folded behind my back, and inspected the flowers, unsure of what else to say. Then a thought occurred to me.

“Do you have roses in this garden?”

“No roses, Milord. I have asters and hydrangeas. Some fall crocus. And climbing the wall to the watchtower, sweet autumn clematis. A bit of monkshood underneath and tulips in the spring. But no roses.”

I must have looked disappointed. She came closer and reached out, but not enough to touch me.

“It must be lonely, Milord, a terrible burden. Every morning as I walk from my village to the gardens, I see the darkening clouds and wonder where my strength will come from. Then I remember. The dauphin will protect us. Save Him Oh Goddess, I pray. If only I could do something to help.”

I mumbled a thank you and turned to go, but stopped when I saw her examining her damaged apron.

“Are you here every day?”

“No, Milord, I have other gardens as well.”

“Come tomorrow, and I’ll bring you a new apron to replace the one I tore.”

She curtsied more deeply this time.

“I’d be so grateful, Milord, but I have nothing to give in return.”

“No need.”

“Ah, wait.” She took her small knife and clipped off a bulging blossom at the stem and handed it to me. “Now place it in water the first chance you get.”

I accepted the gift and admired her through its petals.

“Thank you,” I said. “Tomorrow at noon.”

As I walked away, I glanced over my shoulder to get one last look at the gardener. She was back at her work, resuming her song and snipping away, so light of hand and foot. As she blew away a curl that had drifted across her face, the summer dress rustled against her skin. I inhaled the scent of the flower and thought I caught the sun peeking through the clouds over Golgoreth.

And for the first time since my father died, goddesses seemed possible.

Watchtower Tour BadgeAs part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, both Along the Watchtower and There Comes a Prophet by David Litwack are on sale this week. What’s more, by purchasing either or both of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.

The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $650 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Pick up Along the Watchtower at its discounted price of $2.99 on Amazon
  2. Get There Comes a Prophet at its discounted price of 99 cents
  3. Enter the Rafflecopter contest below
  4. Visit the featured social media events
  5. Leave a comment on my blog for a chance at a $100 prize.

Along the Watchtower tells of a tragic warrior lost in two worlds; a woman who may be his only way back from Hell. Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes.

There Comes a Prophet A thousand years ago the Darkness came—a time of violence and social collapse. Nathaniel has grown up in their world of limits, longing for something more. For what are we without dreams? Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes.

David Litwack, the once and future writer, explores the blurry line between reality and the Visit David on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.