Thursday, January 12, 2017

Chameleon by Author Zoe Kalo

~ Cover Reveal ~
Chameleon by Zoe Kalo

Genre: YA/Gothic/Ghost/Multicultural
Word Count: 55,000 
Release Date: February 2017

Kicked out of school, 17-year old Paloma finds herself in an isolated convent in the tropical forests of 1970s Puerto Rico, where she must overcome her psychosis in order to help a spirit and unveil a killer.

An isolated convent, a supernatural presence, a dark secret…

17-year-old Paloma only wanted to hold a séance to contact her dead father. She never thought she would be kicked out of school and end up in an isolated convent. Now, all she wants is to be left alone. But slowly, she develops a bond with a group of girls: kind-hearted Maria, insolent Silvy, pathological liar Adelita, and their charismatic leader Rubia. When, yet again, Paloma holds a séance in the hope of contacting her father, she awakens an entity that has been dormant for years. And then, the body count begins. Someone doesn’t want the secret out…

Are the ghost and Paloma’s suspicions real—or only part of her growing paranoia and delusions?

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

Connect with Zoe Kalo on the web: / Facebook / Twitter

Sunday, January 1, 2017

LEAVING THE HALL LIGHT ON by Author Madeline Sharples

Interview with Madeline Sharples
Author bio: During her 30-year professional career, Madeline Sharples worked as a technical writer/editor and proposal manager in the aerospace business and wrote grant proposals in the nonprofit arena. She started to fulfill her dream to work as a creative writer in the last few years. Her memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicidewas released in a hardback edition in 2011 and re-released in paperback and eBook editions by Dream of Things in 2012. 
She also co-authored Blue-Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take on Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press, 1994), co-edited the poetry anthology, The Great American Poetry Show, Volumes 1, 2, and 3, and wrote the poems for two photography books, The Emerging Goddess and Intimacy (Paul Blieden, photographer). Her poems appear online and in print magazines, recently in the Story Circle Network True Words series, the 2016 Porter Gulch Review, and the Yellow Chair Review’s 2016 ITWOW (In the Words of Womyn) anthology.
Madeline’s articles have appeared in the Huffington Post, Naturally Savvy, Aging Bodies, and PsychAlive. She also posts at her blog, Choices and is currently writing a novel. In addition, she produced a CD of her son’s music called Paul Sharples at the Piano, as a fundraiser to help erase the stigma of mental illness and prevent suicide. It was released on the fifthteenth anniversary of his death in September 2014.
Madeline studied journalism in high school, wrote for the high school newspaper, studied journalism at the University of Wisconsin, and received a B.A. degree in English from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Brief synopsis of your book: Leaving the Hall Light On is about living after loss: first and foremost that she chose to live and go on with life and take care of herself as a woman, wife, mother, writer. It is about the steps Sharples took in living with the loss of her son, including making use of diversions to help ease her grief and the milestones she met toward living a full life without him. She says, “to let ourselves grieve is to feel the depth of our love. For those whose children have died, that may take the rest of our lives, but we will discover the gifts of our loss in the process.”

Leaving the Hall Light On shares several aspects of her son's illness and how she and her husband, and their other son, Ben, survived Paul's suicide, as it:
·      Describes the frustration, anger, and guilt of trying to care for an adult child with mental illness
·      Gives mothers and fathers who have experienced a child's death ways to get out of the deep dark hole they are in
·      Tells people the realities of mental illness
·      Describes the steps Sharples took in living with this loss; the first and foremost that she chose to live and go on with life and take care of herself as a woman, wife, mother, writer
·      Shows readers that grief is love in action. To let ourselves grieve is to feel the depth of our love for as long as it takes. For those of us whose children have died, that may take the rest of our lives, but we will discover the gifts of our loss in the process.

Book title: Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide

What moment or event sparked the inspiration for your memoir?
My son’s bipolar disorder that resulted in his suicide at age twenty-seven. I journaled about my experience of losing my son to suicide and wrote about it ad nauseum in a workshop I started attending shortly after his death. The encouragement I received from my instructor and other workshop attendees finally convinced me that I needed to get my story out to the public.

What would you say are three things that you found to be the most difficult part of writing a memoir.
1) Writing about the other characters in the book: my husband and surviving son and my deceased son’s girlfriend
2) Being respectful of my son’s memory
3) Writing our story about my son’s mental illness and the mental illness that ran rampant in my family in the most honest way I could

Were there any issues you dealt with in real life that you hesitated to discuss in your memoir?
My memoir is pretty raw. I told the whole story in vivid detail.  That’s what I think is important about memoir. It shouldn’t be a glossed over account like so many celebrities write these days.

What if any lessons did you learn writing this book?
No matter how much advice and editing help I had throughout the process, I realized in the end that this was my book and I could accept or reject the help as I saw fit.

What is probably the most difficult thing you overcame as you grew up?
I was very chubby from the ages of four to twelve. Fortunately my baby fat disappeared naturally during my puberty.

Was there any warning signals that you or family learned to be alerted to?
I would say no. My father and brother ridiculed me and called me names, and my mother didn’t buy me clothes that looked good on me.
What main words of support would you offer to those dealing with emotional illness in their family?
Don’t tell people who are grieving how or how long to grieve. Everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time. For some the grieving is never over.

Genre/Author/Reader and the process:
What genre and age group does your book fall into?
Memoir for teenage and up.

What was the most difficult part of sharing such an emotional experience and loss?
It was hard for me to even read what I wrote. When my second publisher asked me to review it one last time for typos, I did it kicking and screaming. It was one of the hardest assignments of my life.
However, I felt if my book helps just one family get through what my family has been through, it was worth it.

Could you recommend three places or links where people could go to look for help?
1) Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services—transforms lives by providing quality mental health and substance abuse services in communities where stigma or poverty limits access
4760 S. Sepulveda Boulevard Culver City, CA 90230
2) National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)—dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness
3803 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 100, Arlington VA 22203 
3) The Compassionate Friends—for bereaved families and the people who care about them, following the death of a child
900 Jorie Boulevard P.O. Box 3696 Oak Brook, IL 60522-3696
Suicide Prevention and Stigma Prevention Blogs
Active Minds
Never Lose Hope: Keep Holding On, Love
Sources of Strength
Connecting Peers and Caring Adults
We All Want to Help
Time to Change

How many books have you written?
See bio.

What would you tell others about acceptance instead of blame?
I felt a lot of guilt after my son died. I couldn’t help blaming myself for not doing something to prevent his suicide. But looking back – and I think people will see this in my book – I really did help him as much as he would let me. It just takes a lot of time to accept what is. Even now after over seventeen years, I still blame myself. I know for sure this and my grief will never go away.

Are there any precautions you must take in writing a memoir, such as sharing too much or sharing not enough?
Be careful about writing about other people beside yourself, especially if you’re going to use their real names. I changed names for some people I wrote about in my memoir and gave others drafts to look at and approve.
I am also an advocate of sharing a lot of the details. It certainly wouldn’t have been worthwhile to write my memoir with less. However, my niece remarked after reading my book that there was too much information for her – she probably was referring to the intimate material I wrote about my husband and me.
I had other issues as well since I chose to include quotes from others. It’s important to get permission to use them, and that takes a lot of time. And in one instance I had to pay to use a quote.

If you were to recommend anything to someone planning on writing a memoir, what would it be?
It Takes a Village to Write a Book: Even though writing is a lonely business, a village of resources helped and nurtured me from the time I started writing my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. I started with journaling, at first sporadically and later, after reading and doing the exercises in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (Putnam’s Sons, 1992), I wrote my morning pages, not missing a day of keeping my fingers moving across the pages of my journal.
After amassing about three years worth of journal entries I began to think about turning them into a book. But, I was not a creative writer. My writing experience consisted of writing, editing, and training engineers on reports and proposals in the aerospace industry. So I went back to school to learn.
I took fiction, essay, and memoir writing classes through UCLA Extension Writer’s Program. The people from my first fiction class formed a writing group, meeting monthly, sharing and gently critiquing each other’s writing. 
A member of that group spoke lovingly about Jack Grapes of the Los Angeles Poet’s and Writer’s Collective, who taught classes in the living room of his family home. Three months after Paul died I enrolled in Jack’s level one method writing class, and for five years I worked my way up the level ladder, ending with a poetry editing class. Many of the poems I wrote in the Grapes class are also in my memoir.
When I finally amassed enough material, I had no idea how to put it together. Luckily my son Ben introduced me to a former literary agent who reviewed my work, gave me writing prompts, and suggested I structure my book based on the sequence of poems in my poetry manuscript. Though the book went through several changes later on, her suggestions formed my book’s organization. Because I based my book on my list of poems I was adamant that my poems appear in the book, and fortunately my publisher agreed and even asked me to add more.
Once I had a draft manuscript – edited by a woman referred to me by one of my memoir-writing instructors – I started querying. Again through an introduction from Ben, a CEO of a small press critiqued and advised me on my query letter and book proposal – I used How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen (Writer’s Digest Books, 1997). And once I found my dream publisher, I spent months revising my book. I relied on techniques I learned while working on proposals and a group of readers, editors, and reviewers who worked with me until my book was published.
My village generously helped me write my book.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned, either in the self-publishing or traditional publisher, route?
Be perseverant. Don’t give up. I sent out 68 query letters before I found my publisher – a small press. Also be confident in your writing. You are the last red pen. You have the last say about its content. You’ll know when you’re finished and ready to market it. Good luck.

What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most?
I like the organizing and the actual writing. Revision and marketing are much harder to do and take more time.

What are your thoughts about the decline of the printed novel?
It makes me sad. I love reading real books – either hardback or paperback. And I regularly buy books at our local independent bookstore, Pages. Even though I have an eBook version of my memoir for sale for $2.99, I still would rather go to book signings and sell printed copies of my book. That said, I do buy eBooks as well. Especially when I’m asked to review books for virtual blog tours of my fellow authors.

Do you have any ideas for your book and Hollywood? Actors, directors, music.
Jane Fonda as the main character (me), and my son Ben, who is an actor, playing himself. My deceased son Paul was a very talented jazz composer and pianist. I would want his music as the theme song with sprinkles of John Lennon, Miles Davis, and J.S. Bach throughout the film.

Which book to movie conversion is your favorite?
Gone with the Wind

What do you hope readers will come away with, after reading your story?
I think these few testimonials will answer this question:
“Anyone who wants to learn how to live with children or adults with bipolar disorder, must read this book.”
“I could imagine that this book might be helpful for those dealing with bipolar disease or suicide in the family, but for those of us fortunate enough not to have yet experienced those problems, it also provides a very real look into how good but human people deal with the cruelty of fate.”
“I am still struggling with the passing of my son, Justin, 34 weeks ago and this book offered me hope that my grief can soften and my life can continue on.”
“As the mother of a suicide I can relate to so many of her comments. I hope her book will become a source for others who are attempting to cope with bipolar disorder and what suicide does to the family left behind….”
“I highly recommend this to anyone who is ready to explore their deepest feelings.”
“The book is incredibly moving and has much to teach anyone grieving the loss of a loved one. Or suffering any kind of losswhat she learns along the way can be applied to so much that people go through.”

What lesson do you think we can all learn about love?
Love doesn’t die when a loved one dies. My memories and writing them down have helped keep my son and my love for him alive.

If you had one do over in life, what would it be?
That I had given Paul a big hug the last night I saw him alive. Maybe that would have produced the serotonin he needed to bounce out of his depression and not kill himself.

What and who first inspired you to write?
I’ve been a writer of some sort since grade school (inspired by my seventh grade teacher), although I only began concentrating on creative writing in the mid 1990s. I wrote for my high school newspaper, studied journalism in college, and worked for years and years as a writer and editor on reports, brochures, and proposals, and most recently websites in the aerospace industry. I also have written many funded grant proposals. But creative writing is my love – especially poetry. That began almost spontaneously during a writing workshop at Esalen in Big Sur, CA, in the late 1990s, and I’ve been writing poetry ever since.

Current book or project you’re working on:
I’m working on a historical novel. An editor is currently reviewing it. I’m hoping to get some good constructive advice on how to proceed with it or else be told I should shelve it and start something else.
And recently I put together a poetry manuscript and a chapbook to submit to contests.
I always have articles to write for my own blog and the Naturally Savvy website where I’m the Over 60 editor.

Personal info:
Drink – red zinfandel wine
Food – avocado
Vacation – African safari
TV show – Downton Abbey
Movie – The Red Shoes
Animal – None
Sport – Tennis
Song – Unchained Melody
Comedy – Veep
Struggle – erasing the stigma of mental illness and helping to prevent suicide

How can people connect with you?
Twitter: @madeline40

Where can readers find your book?
Pages a bookstore (Manhattan Beach)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Becoming A Legend by Author Sarah Robinson

Becoming A Legend by Sarah Robinson

Contemporary Romance, Standalone (but part of a series)
Release Date: December 13, 2016

From the author of Saving a Legend (“A deep and moving story about family, acceptance, and love.”—Katy Evans) comes another smoldering MMA romance featuring the Kavanagh brothers, the chiseled alpha males whose real legacy is love.

Kane Kavanagh has always had one goal: being the best mixed martial arts fighter alive. With the MMA National Championships in Las Vegas fast approaching, the man they call “Killer” has no intention of letting anyone or anything get in his way. Somehow, though, a feisty opponent has slipped beneath his guard—and stolen his heart. Fiery and passionate, Nora Hannigan is harder to pin down than any rival Kane has faced in the ring. And she isn’t afraid to tell Kane that she wants nothing to do with him.
With her best friend about to marry into the Kavanagh family, Nora has been resisting Kane’s shameless attempts at flirting for months. But after their undeniable chemistry finally takes over, leading to the hottest night of Nora’s life, she’s running scared. There’s a lot about her life Kane doesn’t know, and she won’t be responsible for ending his career. Now Kane’s out to prove that he’s ready for a commitment by winning her heart—and he’s never lost a fight.

BECOMING A LEGEND by Sarah Robinson:
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》Amazon UK:
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Sunday, December 11, 2016

A REBEL AMONG US by Author J.D.R. Hawkins

About the Book:

After David Summers enlists with the Confederate cavalry, his delusion of chivalry is soon crushed when he witnesses the horrors of battle. Shot by a Union picket, he winds up at a stranger’s farm. Four girls compassionately nurse him back to health. David learns his comrades have deserted him in Pennsylvania following the Battle of Gettysburg, but his dilemma becomes much worse. He falls in love with the older sister, Anna, who entices him with a proposition. To his dismay, he must make a decision. Should he stay and help Anna with her underhanded plan, or return to the army and risk capture?

Buy Links:
Goodreads * Amazon


Chapter One


She dropped the darning in her lap. Her sister called her name again, this time with more urgency. Springing from the rocker, Anna ran from the room and scurried down the wooden staircase.

Maggie clung to the newel post. “There’s someone in the barn!”

“Who is it?” Anna asked, but her younger sister was already racing from the house with a lantern in her hand.

Anna followed her out the back door, lifted her ankle-length skirt, and hurried across the dark barnyard. She entered the warm, musty building.

The lantern’s glow illuminated the barn’s interior. A saddled, spotted steed stood nearby, its eyes an eerie, glowing, brownish-green. The horse snorted and stomped. Something in the corner moaned.

Anna’s heart skipped a beat. Stifling a scream, she clamped her hand over her mouth to suffocate the sound.

“He’s over there,” Maggie said and pointed at a heap in the corner.

Anna squinted in the dim, flickering light. She cautiously made her way over. Her sisters and Claudia, the little girl they were in charge of, followed so closely behind they all seemed to be attached.

“Stay back, Abigail,” Anna commanded. “You too, Claudia.”

“Who is he, Anna?” Abigail asked.

“I don’t know,” she replied. “But he’s bleeding.” Anna drew closer.

The stranger’s horse snorted threateningly, but allowed her to advance.

The interloper moaned. He opened his eyes and gazed around at them, either confused, delirious, or both. “Please,” he groaned, nearly in a whisper, “please, can y’all help me?”

The girls stood frozen, looking down at their quandary.

Anna came to her senses. “Come on, Maggie,” She kneeled down beside the young man. “Help me get him inside.”

Maggie failed to react. “I don’t think we should touch him.”

Anna glared at her, forcing Maggie to give in under her stare and pull him up. Anna reached around his other side. The soldier cried out in pain. Balancing the young man between them, they made their way out of the barn and past the sentry steed.

“Girls,” Anna called out over her shoulder, “give that horse some hay, lock him in, and bring the lantern.”

Staggering toward the house in the dark, Anna and Maggie dragged the weak man across the barnyard toward the house. Two dogs, one a black-and-white sheepdog, the other a sable collie, approached to sniff at the stranger.

“Colby,” Maggie hollered in annoyance. “Floyd! Go lay down.”

The dogs scurried off into the dark.

Entering through the back door, Maggie asked, “Where are we going with him?”

“Upstairs to Father’s bedchamber,” Anna replied.

Maggie’s eyes widened, but she complied.

The sisters made their way through the kitchen and struggled to hoist the man up the long wooden flight of stairs. Abigail and Claudia ran into the kitchen and followed the others upstairs. At the top, Anna opened a bedroom door. Its hinges squeaked loudly. They led the wounded stranger over to the four-poster bed. Carefully, they eased him down, lifted his legs, and gently swung him up onto it. The young man moaned in agony.

“He’s too long for the bed,” Claudia commented.

Anna noticed his feet hung over the end. She quickly turned to light a kerosene lamp on the bedside table while Maggie pulled the windows open to let out the hot, stale air. Flickering lamplight illuminated the soldier’s condition. The front of his shirt and his right trouser leg were soaked with blood. Anna’s heart clenched.

“Oh,” Claudia exclaimed at the sight. “He’s all leaky.”

Abigail pulled her long, blonde hair back from her face and drew closer to him. “Eew!” She pinched her nose shut with her thumb and forefinger. “He smells like a horse!”

Claudia giggled at the sound of her friend’s voice.

“Abigail,” Anna said. “Go downstairs and boil some water. Claudia, please fill that pitcher on the dresser and bring it back up with the prongs, a long knife, and some clean towels. Go quickly!”

The two girls scampered off downstairs. Their feet thumped like sticks on a snare drum.

“Maggie, help me remove these filthy clothes from him,” Anna said.

“Do we have to?”

“Yes.” Anna was reminded of how she had tended to their ailing father not so very long ago. The recollection made her shudder.

Both sisters gingerly lifted him. They pulled off his shirt, boots, socks, and belt. Anna noticed the letters “CSA” embossed on his belt buckle.

“Anna.” Maggie’s voice caught on her breath. “He’s a…Rebel soldier.”

Pursing her lips, Anna nodded. “He must have come from the battle at Gettysburg. “But that’s over ten miles away. How could he have made it this far in his condition?”

The girls exchanged cautionary glances. They carefully set his gun and holster on the floor and removed his trousers, but left him with his drawers for modesty’s sake. Anna passed the limp, frail soldier to her sister, and thought he felt like an oblong sack of potatoes. He fell back onto the bed and moaned again.

Anna’s heart ached at the sound of his agony. Stifling a sob, she covered him with a sheet. “Fetch two large needles and some heavy thread.”

Maggie winced but did as she was told.

Looking down at the failing soldier, Anna summoned her strength. It was all too sudden and overwhelming, but she had to be strong—for herself and her sisters. “You’re going to be all right, sir,” she comforted him.

The soldier opened his eyes and tried to speak. She understood he was asking for water.

Claudia returned with the supplies. Anna took them from her and laid them on top of the dresser. She poured the pitcher’s cold well-water into the glass and porcelain bowl. After dipping a towel into the bowl, she placed it across the suffering soldier’s brow and helped him take a sip of water. He faintly smiled at her.

About the Author:
J.D.R. Hawkins is an award-winning author who has written for newspapers, magazines, newsletters, e-zines, and blogs. She is one of a few female Civil War authors, uniquely describing the front lines from a Confederate perspective.
Her Renegade Series includes A Beautiful Glittering Lie, A Beckoning Hellfire, and A Rebel Among Us. All three novels are award winners, and tell the story of a family from north Alabama who experience immeasurable pain when their lives are dramatically changed by the war. Ms. Hawkins is a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the International Women’s Writing Guild, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and Pikes Peak Writers. She is also an artist and singer/songwriter. Ms. Hawkins is currently working on a nonfiction book about the War Between the States, as well as another sequel to her series.
Contact the Author: 
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest * Goodreads * Amazon

Other Books in the Series:
(Click on the Cover for more details)