Saturday, October 19, 2013

Vendetta Nation-Now Available

The second book in the Enigma Black Trilogy - Vendetta Nation - is now available on Amazon here

                                                          And it has received its first five star review already:

I've been waiting on pins and needles for the this book after finishing the first, and it was definitely worth the wait! The storyline is just as compelling, and the characters so well-written, you can't help but love or hate them. Celaine and Ian's fight against the Man in Black continues but not-so-new foes take a big step forward in the plot of this story, which I can only imagine will lead to an epic clash in book 3. Relationships are changing at the same time, and I find myself unable to pick a side because I love all the characters involved, so I can't wait to find out how it all ends!

Here is the synopsis:

What if you gave up everything you knew and loved for a lie?

Nearly one year ago, Celaine Stevens made the choice to leave her life behind to join The Epicenter, an organization charged with bringing down The Man in Black - a terrorist and the one responsible for the murder of her entire family. Battling conflicting emotions and the pain her decision caused, Celaine tells herself that her sacrifices will all have been worth it when The Man in Black is finally apprehended.

But, instead of hunting the elusive entity, Celaine and her partner Ian Grant find themselves preparing for a war looming on the horizon. Angered by President Brook’s ever-tightening restrictions, a rebellion has formed, leading the charge against the President and anyone who stands in their way. Caught in the middle, Celaine and Ian are forced to choose sides, having to decide whether to align themselves with the rebellion, whose motives they question, or obey the orders given to them by an organization they are steadily growing to distrust.

A war is sparked by deceit, new alliances are formed, an unexpected love begins to blossom, and true identities are revealed in Vendetta Nation, the second installment of the Enigma Black trilogy.
Thank you all for your continued support!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Excerpts from Vendetta Nation

In just a few short weeks, Vendetta Nation will be released on Amazon.  In anticipation of its release -- as promised -- here are some quotes and excerpts from the sequel to Enigma Black:

“Immortality can only be achieved at the cost of humanity.” -Celaine Stevens

“We weren’t born to suffer, we were born to make a difference. Our pain is just an unfortunate consequence of becoming the people we were destined to be.”-Ian Grant

Every nightmare seems personal. That’s why they bother us so much.” -Ian Grant

“Ignorance is like a disease. If you don’t fight it, it will spread until we all succumb to it.”-Protester of President Brooks

Conversation between Celaine and Kara

“Happiness,” I sneered “I’m honestly beginning to believe that happiness is nothing more than a carrot dangled in front of our noses by a sadistic sociopath. We live our whole lives by the carrot holder’s rules, do everything we’re told, even get a nibble at it from time to time, only to have it yanked out of our reach before we can truly taste it.”

“Well,” Kara eyed me, “it’s my belief that happiness is a choice. Far too many people choose to allow their lives to become dictated by the whims of the carrot holder, never daring to do anything to change the hand they were dealt.”
“Something tells me we’re not talking about vegetables here.”

Celaine secretly visiting Chase

What I was doing wasn’t healthy. It was crazy and completely irrational, but such is love. No matter how hard you tried to make sense of it, love truly remained senseless.

“Every chain has a weak link,” Victor said, closing his yes, “one that threatens to rip it apart, ensuring that it’s never put back together properly again. All I have to do is locate Stevens’ one link, pull it slowly until it begins to distort, and then…just as it’s clinging for dear life to the rest of the chain, tear it away, and watch the remainder of the links crumble.”
Senator Delaney addressing the rebellion

“I know that many of you are still suspicious of me and my intentions,” Senator Delaney addressed the crowd. “You have no reason to trust me. And why should you? You don’t know me. All you know is that I’m a member of the administration you despise so much.” He glanced up at Marshall, who nodded his approval, before resuming again. “Rest assured, just because I swim with the sharks, it doesn’t mean that I am one. If anything, it’s made me understand how they tick.” He glanced back around the room, noticing that, even though they’d toned down a few notches, the looks he was receiving were still anything but relaxed. “I’m sticking my neck out here, too,” he began again. “If I were to be caught here, I’d be sentenced to death for treason the same as you. Except my death would be used as an example to anyone else in my position who dared to go against the grain. So as you can see, we both have good reasons to have our own trust issues. You know my name, I don’t know any of yours.”
Senator Delaney to the rebellion

“Tomorrow, you will be embarking on the single greatest coup this country has ever seen. Tomorrow, you’ll stand united in your defiance. You’ll approach the park on foot and by boat, surrounding Brooks and his misguided supporters in a show of bravery few have witnessed in our world in over a decade. Many of you will be killed, many more of you will be imprisoned, some of you may make it back here. But even if you do, you will be hunted down. In short, your lives will never be the same again.”

“Tomorrow,” I began, “we choose to either become the heroes they think we are, or we choose to be no better than Brooks, himself. Revenge is only worth the cost if the price isn’t paid with your soul. If we give away our humanity, then what? What kind of heroes would we be in their eyes? Is a hero driven by revenge or by doing what’s right even if their own desires are at stake?”-Celaine Stevens
Marshall Leitner to Chase Matthews

Revenge is a fire that can never be put out. It’s a burn that slowly consumes you until there’s nothing left of you but the dark thoughts it implants in your mind. It drives otherwise normal people mad. Hell, we’ve had people leave their lives to join us, removing themselves entirely from everyone they knew and loved.”

Marshall Leitner to President Brooks

“It’s not my men and women who’ve been committing the acts of violence that have ran rampant around this country. We’re peaceful people who want to see change and a true leader elected who has the country’s best interest in mind. Frankly, I find blowing up random objects to be counter productive to my cause. You, on the other hand, may find that to be more to your liking. After all, the more people fear, the more they hide. And the more they hide, the less they fight back.”


Senator Delaney to President Brooks

“Just because things are looking up for you, Carver, doesn’t mean you’ll always have the upper hand. You can imprison me and execute as many rebels as you want, but there will always be more to take our place. You’ll be putting up a fight for the rest of your life, and you’ll grow tired of it soon enough. It’ll beat you down until there’s nothing left of you, ending your reign.”

“Bold words, my dear friend. It’s too bad your hands are indisposed at the moment, or else I’d have you write them down to recite at your execution.”

“What happened to you, Carver? Were you always this evil or did it consume you the minute you gained the power you so desperately sought? We were brothers once, you and I. There was a time when we held the same ideals. I believed in your passion; in your dreams for our country. At what point in time did those dreams turn into nightmares?"

Maurice to Celaine

“Though painful, sometimes death has a way of bringing out the best in us…our own hidden superhero,” he whispered near my ear. I stiffened, stealing a glance at his knowing expression in the mirror, unsure of what to say. “Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me.” His eyes met mine in the mirror. “I have a feeling about you, Celaine. Since you appeared on the scene, it’s like the county’s eyes have been opened ever so slightly. You have a defiance in you, one with the capability of waking everyone up from the spell they’ve been under for the last few years."

Victor admonishing Celaine and Ian after a failed mission

Victor began to turn around as though preparing to walk out of the room, when another thought occurred to him, stopping him in his tracks. “I implore you both to remember what brought you here in the first place,” he said, making it a point to glance back at the both of us. “If Brooks cuts our funding, there will be no more Epicenter. The Man in Black will go on a rampage, making any attacks carried out by the rebels seem like mere child’s play. Everything and everyone you cared about in your former lives will be compromised. If you want a shot at peace, you will do exactly as you’re told, right down to the letter.” He stood for a moment, glaring at us, daring one of us to challenge him again, until he was satisfied that he’d finally gotten through to us and left the room.

Ian and I stood watching the doorway, waiting for him to come back, waiting for another point to be drilled into our heads. “Joke’s on him,” Ian finally spoke, “my former life was crap.”
Throughout my life, I never really knew what it meant to be brave. Sure, there was the generic version that involved facing imminent death head-on. But to me, that never truly defined the essence of bravery. Since the death of my family and my days at The Epicenter, bravery now meant facing adversity. It meant being insubordinate when subordination failed. Following that definition, I knew the woman looking back at me in the mirror was everything they said she was. She was rebellious, incorrigible, and defiant to the core. She was Celaine Stevens, and no one would strip her of her true identity.

For the first time since the bombing at The Lakes, I began to see the big picture. My focus had been set on The Man in Black, but he was just one piece to a much larger puzzle, and taking him out would only leave a small hole in the landscape, one that could easily be replaced by someone or something else.
“It’s show time,” Brooks said, patting my back. He headed out to the open door and motioned for Ian and I to join him. He would exit the boat first and we would follow closely behind him as though we were allies who’d come together in a show of solidarity.

Ian grabbed my hand, his voice came as a whisper in my ear piece. “I know we’re on the same page right now. Just remember what your family would have wanted and act on that because I know what my father would have expected from me.”
Then we heard them; the scrape of their boots against pavement, the sound of metal on metal, of guns bouncing against armor in time with each of their footsteps. Soldiers, decked out in personal body armor, complete with helmets, the likes of which I hadn’t seen before, were marching toward the protesters, guns drawn, aimed at anyone and no one.

The Man in Black leapt down onto the ground below, his heavy body sinking into the mangled concrete. He’d done what he’d come to do. It was now time for contemplation. Simple physical torture would not suffice when it came to her. He needed something more. Something that would rock her to her core; something that would make her long for physical assault; something that would break her.
I hadn’t worn a formal dress since Carol forced me to go to prom my junior year of high school with Mark, a sweet but ultra quirky boy in my neighborhood, whose mother happened to be a good friend of hers. Ever since donning the cotton candy pink, iron maiden-like nightmare that Carol had picked out for me that night, I vowed ‘never again’ and had stayed true to that vow ever since. Now, as I readied myself for my first bonafide ball, I couldn’t help but think that Carol was looking down upon me from some heavenly shoe store, laughing her ass off.

Ian contemplating the events of the night on the balcony of Celaine’s suite

In the bedroom behind him, he heard her breathing, a sound that would have been inaudible to those without the heightened senses he possessed. The sound of her breath was comforting. It meant that -- at that instant --she was at peace. Theoretically, it should have meant that he was at peace as well, but in reality, he was far from it. His head still swam, despite his best efforts to calm the seas. Events from the evening played and re-played as though on one continuous loop in his mind. Had he done something wrong? Was there something he should have done differently? Everything had been going so perfectly. It had been turning out to be one of the best nights of his life, and he thought that she was on the same page, too. Actually, she had been on the same page until something inside her closed the book and chucked it across the room.
Ian making a confession to Celaine while she sleeps

“No matter what happens tomorrow, I promise you that I’ll protect you,” he spoke in a whisper. “I won’t let anything happen to you.” Even now, he could feel his heart beating profoundly in his chest, though the beats had slowed somewhat. “I’ve never admitted this before,“ he began again, “and considering that you’re unconscious right now, it probably doesn’t even count as an admission of anything, but I’ve wasted my entire life. At least, it was a waste up until a year ago. Up until I met you. Since my dad died, I’ve been too afraid to let myself care about anyone. I thought I was protecting myself that way. I thought I would never feel pain again if I just stuck to a ‘I don’t give a shit’ mantra. But instead, all I’ve been doing is cheating myself. I didn’t realize that until just a few weeks ago. And now, I would rather die a thousand deaths than spend a day without your smile; a day without your laughter.” He cupped his hand over hers, easily overtaking it. “Clearly, I’ve become a sentimental idiot,” he said, his eyes growing heavy. “I’m not sure what that means exactly. Maybe I’ve completely lost my mind, or maybe it means something much deeper…”

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Getting Past a Negative Review Without Becoming a Raging Alcoholic


I wish I could be like Shaw who once read a bad review of one of his plays, called the critic and said: 'I have your review in front of me and soon it will be behind me. -Barbra Streisand


From my close observation of writers...they fall into two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.  -- Isaac Asimov

When I was in elementary school, I remember sitting in on a presentation about bullying and kindness. Although I can’t remember most of what was drilled into my young, impressionable mind that day -- or much of anything now that I’ve reached the third decade of my life, for that matter -- one thing did stick with me. In that presentation, an insult was labeled as a cold prickly, while a compliment was called a warm fuzzy (stick with me, I promise I have a point here). In short, it was reiterated repeatedly that when you present a person with one cold prickly (an insult) it takes approximately twenty or so warm fuzzies (compliments) to undo the damage your one cold prickly caused. Ever since learning this little tidbit, I’ve carried it with me, later finding it to have been the most important lesson I learned in the third grade. Years later, as a writer and recipient of not-always-so-wonderful reviews, that one lesson holds all the more meaning. For despite all the positive comments and reviews I’ve received, I find myself focusing on only the negative, allowing those words to define my work.

As writers, we have to separate our feelings from our work product. I know it’s easier said than done, but if we are to thrive in our chosen profession (or hobby), then we can’t allow our egos to become bruised or somehow believe that a negative review is at all related to who we are as people. In short, we must put on our big girl or boy pants and carry on.

And because negative reviews happen to literally EVERY writer at some point, I’ve assembled a list of ways that we can keep said pants on to cope when a less than awesome one comes in.

Never, Ever, Under Any Circumstance, Comment On It

It’s only natural to want retaliate when hurt feelings are involved. However, we writers must refrain from defending our honor and accept the fact that customers pay for our work and are entitled to voice their opinions on it, whether favorable or not. For someone to argue with or belittle a reviewer after they’ve taken the time to read and review their work is both unprofessional and guaranteed to land the offending author’s reputation in the toilet. Not to mention, it does nothing to help the cause of other indie authors, who only have their body of work and online reputation to build their readership.

Congratulate Yourself, You’re Officially An Author

No traditionally published or popular indie novel has all four and five star reviews. Every single one of them have one and two star reviews to go along with all the glowing ones. Don’t believe me? Do a search on Amazon and see for yourself. Because I can pretty much guarantee you that any novel with over 100 reviews has at least one or two less than stellar ones amid its heaps of praise. So wear your one and two stars proudly, authors. After all, you’re in good company.

You Can’t Make Everyone Happy

There has yet to be that one novel that everyone universally loves; one that’s so perfect that no one can criticize it. We can only do so much as writers. No matter how polished our writing may be, no matter how flawless the story, no matter how much editing we do, there will always be someone unaffected by our work. Everyone has different tastes, and two people can read the same thing and draw entirely different conclusions on it. Such is life. Suck it up and drive on.

Look For The Hidden Gem

Believe it or not, there is such a thi
ng as a good negative review. What’s so good about them, you ask? Well, for starters, for every one ‘this book sucks’ review, there are usually two or three negative ones of substantive value. If you can swallow your pride long enough to read them, of course. The truth is, no one’s perfect, and we all make mistakes. But it’s only those who learn from their mistakes, those who take the constructive criticisms in those reviews and use them to their advantage, who are able to improve upon their writing, and eventually turn their critics into fans. Take the time to take in every less than glowing comment about your book’s sentence structure, usage of adjectives, character development, plot, and dialogue, store them in a mental filing cabinet, and pull them back out when you’re writing your next book. I guarantee you won’t make the same mistakes again.

Quit Stalking Your Reviews

I have to say that this is one of the hardest pieces of advice for anyone, myself included, to take. In fact, I regularly stalk myself on Amazon and Goodreads to see whether I have a new review. If I see that I do, my pulse automatically quickens and I get a little sick to my stomach at the possibility of the review being a negative one. Thankfully, most of the time they have been pretty positive, but there have been a few times where I found myself reading something that completely ruined my day. In the beginning, they really bothered me, mostly because they affirmed all my insecurities about myself and my abilities as a writer. But then I realized that the only reason why they bothered me so much was because I’d become a victim of those insecurities, and that if I didn’t allow them to bother me, I could move on and get over myself. So, I got over it, knowing that although I’m nowhere near perfect, my insecurities are just that: MY insecurities. The reality is that I love writing. It provides me with release, and no amount of negativity, warranted or otherwise, is going to stop me from doing something that I love.

Use It As Incentive To Make Your Writing Better

If you’re stubborn and hardheaded like I am, when someone tells you something negative, you make it a point to do whatever you can to prove them wrong. This is especially true when applied to reviews. Whether helpful or not, use the review to improve upon your writing. Take the criticisms with you into your next book and think back on them. Were they warranted? Do you actually use too many adjectives? Is your dialogue really flat? If it was before, I’d be willing to bet that it won’t be anymore. Make it your goal to improve upon your writing with every book you write. Eventually, you’ll prove to your detractors that they were wrong about you.

Have a Good Cry, Laugh, Eat a Pint of Triple Chocolate Brownie Fudge Ice Cream (not necessarily in that order)

I’m a big fan of feeling sorry for myself for a few minutes, letting it get out of my system, and then moving on again. In my younger years, this would have required a glass -- oh, who am I kidding, a bottle -- of wine, or anything covered in chocolate. Today, I’m just a tad more health conscious and just stick with sulking around the house for a little bit before I force myself to pick up what I was doing before the offending review appeared, acting like it never happened at all.

Never Give Up

This is probably the most generic advice out there, but I’m going to include it here anyway. I know that I’ve personally read a few comments that have really stung; comments that have made me question why I write at all. Although it’s easy and only natural to want to shut yourself down and say that you’re done, you can’t let the opinion of a couple of people wipe away those of the rest of your reviewers (or that one cold prickly overshadow your mountain of warm fuzzies).

Writers, how do you get over a negative review? Do they bother you or do you allow them to just roll off your shoulders?




Sunday, July 21, 2013

Pros and Cons of Outlining

Most writers fall into two categories: those who outline before writing and those who just write. In my case, I tend to utilize both methods. I like knowing ahead of time where I’m going and how I’m going to get there. However, I also enjoy the freedom of taking a detour if the original road contains too many speed bumps. No matter what method you personally prefer, there are pros and cons that every writer experiences during the writing process.

Let’s examine the pros and cons of outlining first.

1. It’s too restrictive. There are those who stick to the game plan and avoid the unbeaten path altogether. If that makes you feel comfortable, then by all means stick with it, but there’s a certain sense of being shackled to an original thought that could potentially stall the formation of a better idea.

2. There are no surprises. Surprises in writing are always fun for the reader, but when they happen to the writer, they aren’t necessarily good things. An outline eliminates any unwanted surprises such as a hole in your plot, the introduction of any unnecessary characters, or a storyline that’s choppy and doesn’t flow the way it should.

3. They keep you on task. Just like a ‘To Do’ list, an outline tells you where you need to go and what you need to do. It allows you to plan out what you’re writing that day and helps make your storyline flow more seamlessly.

4. Outlines ensure flow and help make for a more structurally sound plot. An outline is structure. When you know exactly what events are going to transpire and when they’re going to transpire it makes for a better constructed plot and less of a chance of cracks in your overall foundation.

Although more spontaneous, writing by the seat of your pants isn’t for everyone, but for those who do it, the following positive and negative aspects may be encountered:

1. Your creativity is allowed to shine through. Like a kid in a candy store, the possibilities are both endless and exciting when you write unrestricted and let your mind take you to places and people it wouldn’t have had you stuck with the original plan.

2. More writing is accomplished in less time. I know when I write by the seat of my pants, I feel freer and the words just come to me more naturally than when I try to restrict them to the content of an outline. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes it’s more of a detriment, but I usually find that my word count for the day is higher and, for the most part, the content is solid when I write outline-free.

3 There’s more room for error. When you write without rules to go by, you’re more apt to break them. An outline lays out scene by scene instructions, ensuring a more fluid, relatively smoother writing experience without the standard errors that come without proper planning.

4. It can end up bogging you down. Even though you may write more when you let your mind take over, you may find that you end up doing a heck of a lot more editing. More words equal more filler and less meat to your story, subsequently leading to the trimming away of more fat.. You may find that this causes you to take more time with editing than you first anticipated, making this method of writing less productive in the long run.

At the end of the day, there really is no wrong way to write and no one manner of writing is better than the other. Different things work for different people. What matters is that it works for you and that you’re actually writing something as opposed to just staring at a blank sheet of paper.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Review: The Dim Realm Volume I- An Epic Horror/Fantasy Novel for our Generation

“Afraid goes away after a fright, but terror lingers. It gets into your head, builds a nest, continues to work on you. It pulls stuff out to feed its young.”

This quote from Matt Holgate’s epic horror/fantasy/action/thriller The Dim Realm Volume I, speaks volumes for the chilling and brilliantly written story Mr. Holgate has created. I’m not normally a fan of the horror genre, but this book is so much more than that. It’s also a mystery mixed with fantasy that felt a little Lord of the Rings like, and I can’t say enough about the writing. In my opinion, it’s one of the most well-written, gripping indie books I’ve read. The plot is unique and obviously well thought out with dialogue that is spot-on and quips that had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion. It’s also tense, a little gory at times (but not overly so), and left me wanting for more after finishing it as it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger (wherein I immediately purchased Volume II).

As far as the plot is concerned, The Dim Realm takes place in the small town of Arrow’s Flight where mysterious disappearances are occurring among the townsfolk as well as grisly slaughters, including those of many of the King’s men. What evil has possessed Arrow’s Flight? Who can be trusted? Where is the dark house of Kara Kinfolk’s (one of the main character’s) nightmares, and why has she been chosen to receive these visions? These are just some of the many questions plaguing the inhabitants and visitors of Arrow’s Flight, who find themselves trapped within its confines, unable to leave.

Although there are several very likeable, very well-written characters in The Dim Realm, the one who stands out the most for me is Kara Kinfolk. Kara, though only seventeen, is wise beyond her years, strong, and a complete smart ass -- in short, she’s my kind of girl. She also seems to be one of the more important characters in the book as it’s through her dreams that the rest of the characters, including ranger Tal Stormgren, who I also liked a great deal, are able to unravel the source of the evil that has invaded their town. Keeping in the fantasy genre, The Dim Realm also includes orcs, dwarves, and ogres interspersed with the main human characters. One of my favorite characters, the orc Rinn, was thoroughly entertaining, and I gained a newfound appreciation for the fantasy genre through Mr. Holgate‘s book.

In short, The Dim Realm Volume I is the start of an epic, edge of your seat, horror/fantasy with a solid, brilliantly constructed plot, well-written dialogue, and loveable (for the most part), well-written and unforgettable characters. It’s clear that Mr. Holgate put a lot of work into this book and it has surely paid off. In fact, I’m not much for highlighting passages in novels, but I found myself highlighting numerous quotes, thinking to myself that I’d wish I’d written them.

I highly recommend Mr. Holgate’s The Dim Realm Volume I and will be delving into Volume II soon.




Wednesday, May 8, 2013

5 Reasons to Write Dystopian Novels

I consider myself an eclectic writer in that the genres for the stories I’ve written tend to vary, from romance, science-fiction, dystopian, political thriller, paranormal, adult, young adult, and chick-it. In fact, my first novel, Enigma Black, is four of those aforementioned genres all rolled into one. But, if you were to hold me down, kicking and screaming, after careful thought, I would tell you that the increasingly-popular dystopian genre is by far my favorite type of novel to write. Why? I’m glad you asked because I just so happen to have five reasons why I prefer to write dystopian novels:
1.  Better world building. A dystopian setting offers a literal world of possibilities. Whether your literary world is governed by anarchy, oppression, a disease that forces its  inhabitants to live in seclusion, forced pairings, or generalized fear, the dystopian genre allows you more of a creative liberty (in my opinion) to multiply the darkest fears buried in the deepest recesses of your mind and bring them to life on paper.
2.  More kick-butt female protagonists. From Katniss in The Hunger Games to Tris in Divergent, dystopian novels are rife with strong female main characters who make wonderful role models for young women, and have more honorable traits for others to emulate, such fearlessness and strength (as opposed to selfishness and a dependence upon others to save the day).
3.  Because rainbows and sunshine get old. I, for one, don’t want to read a novel where everything is hunky-dory all of the time nor do I always want there to be a happy, sugar-coated ending. I want there to be tension; I want to feel a sense of impending doom amidst a world I can’t seem to figure out. And you get all of that in the dystopian genre, making it one of the more exciting genres to both read and write.
4.  You can stack other genres on top of it. There is so much more you can work into a dystopian novel. You can have an epic romance, an alien invasion, a political thriller, or even a horror story (think zombies), all set within a dystopian environment. Really, the world’s your oyster when it comes to the dystopian genre, allowing you to be a tad more creative with less restrictions than some of the other genres impose.
5.   Heroes rise from oppression. One of the things I love most about the dystopian genre is the ultimate banding together of those who oppose it. Alliances are made, heroes are born, and a darn good story usually ensues as a result.
 I recently took part in a blog tour with RABT Readers. The following are just some of the reviews that Enigma Black garnered during that tour:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Excerpt From Enigma Black

The automatic door was now more manual than automatic. I banged on it with my fists, attempting to do the job the explosion had been unable to accomplish. When that failed, I braced a leg on one side of the frame and, with my aching arms, attempted to pry the door open like a human crow-bar. No luck. After a couple more minutes of kicking, smacking and invariably flipping the door off, I realized that what I was doing was not going to work. Undeterred, I scanned the rubble for an idea. A piece of scaffolding stuck out like a sore thumb within the concrete. Lunging towards it, I prayed it would be suitable to pry the door open. Just as I bent down to grab it, I felt one hand on my shoulder and another one around my waist, attempting to pull me back.

“What in the hell do you think you’re doing?” A man whirled me around to face him. His eyes were wild, his hair gray from soot. He appeared to be a security guard or an officer of some sort. It was too hard to tell based on what was left of his tattered uniform. “There’s nothing left. Do you hear me? The ramp is gone. You’re going to get yourself killed trying to go out there.”

Even though I heard the words he spoke, they made absolutely no sense to me. What did he mean when he said the ramp was gone? It had been there just twenty minutes ago. Deciding that the good officer must be crazy, I broke away from him and proceeded onward in my quest to pry the door open, grabbing the piece of scaffolding from its concrete tomb.

“No!” he screamed at me again, lunging to restrain me.

I’d had enough. As much as I didn’t want to do it, I felt like I had no other option but to disable the officer, as reasoning with him was clearly not going to work. Raising my arm, I forcibly swung it back, striking him in the chest. The force of my elbow to his rib cage caused him to release his grip on me enough to where I was able to break away. Once free, I whirled around, swiftly kicking him in the legs as hard as I could in the hope that it would incapacitate him long enough for me to pry the door open.

Fetching the metallic bar from the rubble, I jammed it between the seal and the frame of the doorway, pushing it with all my strength. At first, it put up an admirable fight, but after several solid jabs it finally conceded defeat, slowly squeaking open. Smoke — thicker and black in color — poured into the store from the outside, sending me into another coughing fit. Holding my breath, I gave the bar a few more solid pushes until enough room opened up for me to squeeze my entire body through the door. Through the clouds of smoke, I took off down the crumpled concrete. In the suffocating fog, snowflakes stabbed my face like tiny daggers, grinding salt in my wounds.

My eyes worked to focus in the direction I’d left my parents’ vehicle. I walked carefully down the pavement, looking for the familiar sight of the garage. I should have been there by now; this walk was taking entirely too long. The smoky haze slowly became less and less dense the further out I walked until a wayward gust of wind blew past me, punching a hole into the unknown. What it revealed was a scene I hadn’t expected.

Instead of the familiar ramp, I found myself standing on the edge of a ledge with the rest of the city spread out before me. Sirens surrounded me. I shielded my ears with my bloodied hands. A strange sound approaching from above drew my attention to the helicopter that was circling the mall. The hurricane-force wind it generated pushed my broken body in all directions. Did I take a wrong turn? Was I that disoriented?

No, I wasn’t. This was where I’d left my parents and Jacob. They had been right here waiting for me. A thought occurred to me then; a thought that rendered my delicate stomach as fragile as an egg shell. Taking in a deep breath, I staggered to the edge of the cliff, peering over the edge to see what I had feared and somehow already knew would be there.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Tear Stained Beaches-Blog Tour

The wonderful and talented Courtney Giardina's debut novel Tear Stained Beaches is now available at Amazon! I just picked up my copy and am excited to begin reading it!

Here is the synopsis:

Haylie Julian wants nothing more than to put her crumbling marriage back together. Chase used to be a fun-loving, light hearted husband who had lately become an overworked attorney obsessed with climbing the corporate ladder. It isn’t long before Haylie starts waking up next to a man she barely knows. His secretive phone calls and late nights at the office leave her feeling alone and afraid of what he might be hiding. Ignoring his continuous pleas to just leave well enough alone, she continues to dig for answers and discovers a heartbreaking truth.

Struggling with what she has just learned, Haylie sets off to a quaint little North Carolina beach town to decide if her marriage can survive. It isn’t long after she arrives that her world is once again turned upside down as Chase’s secret stares her right in the face.

Tear Stained Beaches explores what happens when a marriage isn't the happily-ever-after you thought it was. Can trust be rebuilt? Can a wife forgive the ultimate betrayal?
As part of the blog tour, Courtney has generously provided me with an excerpt from Tear Stained Beaches.  Enjoy!

Tear Stained Beaches Excerpt

The sun was just about to set over the water. I took off my flip-flops and walked along the edge of the sand where it met the waves of the ocean. It was funny; the entire drive to Kettlewood Island I hadn’t cried a single tear. I was angrier than anything. Angry about how someone could throw their marriage away and hurt someone they claimed to love. During dinner, I was so focused on getting food in my stomach, it blocked out most of the pain, but now, now it was quiet. People were coming out of their hotels and beach-houses for some nightly entertainment, but the noise was reduced to a murmur as the sound of the ocean drowned them out.

I didn’t notice the chill of the water as it grazed over my feet, as I was lost in the scenery. I stopped and watched as the sun met the ocean, and the sky burned with hues of red and orange. As the sun lowered into the ocean, and I breathed in the salty air, my vision blurred. My tears flowed freely, wetting my cheeks as the ocean had my feet. I hated myself for still loving him. After everything he’d done; how could I still love him? I stood there and stared, engraining the image into my mind until the sun just about disappeared from the horizon. It left just enough light to guide me home.

That sunset confirmed that even though I couldn’t see it now, all the hope in life was not gone. There was still beauty left in this world, and even if I had to crawl, and be dragged on my knees for a while before I had the strength to stand, I would stand again. That is what I was here for. To find out who I was, what I wanted out of life, and what it would take for me to get there. I needed to understand what was happening to me, to my marriage, and whether or not it was worth fighting for.

Take Two Publishing is running a contest for anyone who leaves a review of Tear Stained Beaches on Amazon from now until Sunday, March 31. The prize is a Tear Stained Beaches themed gift basket! All you have to do is send an email to and let her know that you left a review.

Get your copy today for only $2.99!

Thursday, February 21, 2013



Hi everyone!  I'm running a free promotion for Enigma Black through Amazon KDP Select beginning February 22 through February 25.  The last time I did this, I received nearly 2,000 downloads.  I'm hoping to top that this time around.  Enigma Black has received 22 awesome reviews on  Hope you all check it out!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Putting on the Big Author Panties/My Favorite Review Thus Far

I posted this as a rant on my Facebook page, and decided to share it on my blog as well.
The following review came in this morning on Amazon and Goodreads and had me sweating bullets ever since I noticed that the blogger had marked Enigma Black as “currently reading” on Goodreads. Why was I so anxious? This blogger is known for her brutally honest reviews. In fact, her reviews are so honest that authors whose books she didn’t care for began seeking retribution against her on her we...bsite, giving her books (yes, she’s an author, too) negative reviews even though they’ve never read them. As an author, this behavior by fellow authors sickens me. For starters, you never, ever comment on a poor review (no matter how much it bothers you) and you most definitely never act like a middle schooler and take your frustrations out on someone purely because they were expressing their own opinion. After all, isn’t that what we indie authors are looking for, an honest, unbiased opinion of our work? It irritates me that this particular blogger has had to hide her identity from the public just so she can safely review the books that she PAID for. This just goes to show you that not everyone is ready to hear the truth. Heck, even traditionally published books receive poor reviews. Take any of the Harry Potter books, for example. Do a search on Amazon and I’ll guarantee you that you won’t find a single book in that series that doesn’t have at least one 1* review. “Well, that reviewer must be crazy,” you say. No. It’s just that the book didn’t resonate with them. And that’s completely okay. Just because someone goes against the grain and gives their honest opinion on how THEY feel about a book doesn’t give anyone the liberty to go batshit crazy on them. After all, as indies we have a hard enough time finding reviews and readers for our books. Let’s not taint that further by acting unprofessional.

And, yes, I would still have made this rant even if this blogger had hated Enigma Black.  And, no, I've never spoken to this blogger before, nor do I know who she is, but I'm going to take her up on her offer to contact her on her blog's FB page.

Here is the review from blogger evilicious whose blog is called The Good, The Bad and the Ugly:

"Obviously - given my rating - I love this book. I was torn between a 4 and a 5 star.

I am leaning toward a 5 star but there were a few issues for me that made it a 4 star. Mind you - I LOVED the story overall.


The plot was brilliant, and totally sucked me in. I love stories that are pure escapism - and this was one of those. There were plenty of twists and turns (which I love) . Some were predictable but others weren't. I was not expecting what happened in the last few chapters at all - well I kind of was - but I thought it would involve a different character.

The characters are well drawn, and relatable, the story flowed nicely and was well written. A few minor editing issues, but I have seen worse in traditionally published books.

BTW - ending was a cliff-hanger. You figure this out as you get toward the end of the book so it's not jarring, and it's not the sort of cliffhanger that annoys the crap out of you. Actually I started to worry the author was going to sell herself short (for purely selfish reasons) leading up to the climax, and that it would be a complete read.(Phew!)


Overall I loved the story but it took me a bit to get into for two reasons (but then BAM! Suddenly I was zooming through the pages like nothing else). The dialogue was overly lengthy at some points and was slightly 'off' character if that makes sense, at times. I guess it was sometimes a little formal compared to the narrative. I think there should have been a little more world building to help readers suspend disbelief *SPOILER ALERT (sort of) a nationwide curfew is imposed and I kind of went 'WTF - as if! It would take a lot more than that' , so strengthening this earlier in the story would help, though as I got further into the book there was more to back this up and strengthen it END (the-sort-of-spoiler) ALERT *

There were also a couple of areas where the wording didn't work. One that comes to mind is 'few' meaning three, but the author used it to mean two. Little things like that suck me out of a story.

IN FACT - I think the author might want to do one final edit, taking some of my points into account, and those of other reviewers as I have a feeling this one will rocket up the Kindle charts as word gets out! And we all know how nasty some reviewers can be when a book suddenly gains popularity. (Note to author, feel free to contact me via my FB page if you would like more clarification - I really do think you are onto something here and you should be proud of your achievement. [...] Being an author myself (and no dear reader - I am not about to tastelessly link my books - or even my author name) I understand how easy it is for these things to slip through in the editing process.


Nothing - because despite my few issues (I like to show both sides) this is a brilliant story that sucked me in and the issues obviously weren't enough to stop me reading. In fact I couldn't read it fast enough. An absolute page turner that kept me up late into the - er - morning, and one I wouldn't be surprised to see snapped up by movie producers in the near future. First time I ever said THAT about an indie book!"

Brought to you by Evilicious Book Reviews: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Review of Enigma Black from K.A. Perkins


There has been a series of bombings across the USA, perpetrated by 'The Man in Black', and Celaine's family has been caught up in one of the most devastating, changing Celaine's life irrevocably. This is powerful and emotive storytelling and we are drawn into Celaine's world from the start as she tries to put her life back together.
The trauma to Celaine's life is mirrored in the changes to the USA as the country and all it stands broken by these relentless attacks and the USA descends into dictatorship. But who is 'The Man in Black'? How does he single-handedly bring down a democracy such as the US? And how can he be stopped? Celaine will have to work this out once she is 'selected' to join a secret government agency created to do just that.

This is exciting, fast-paced, action-packed and at times humorous and heart-breaking. The Science Fiction elements sound plausible and well thought through and Celaine is a great main character – resourceful, sarcastic, loyal and caring with a great wit and all the doubts any one of us entertain at one time or another. – and it is impossible not to empathise with her. I'm very much looking forward to the next book in the series.

Look out for an interview with the author, Sara Furlong-Burr, coming soon.

Enigma Black is available from:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Review-Growing Disenchantments by K.D. Berry

As a writer, it's also important to read as much as you can.  Not only is it entertaining, but you can also learn a few things from other author's writing styles.  I recently participated in a review swap with author Kevin Berry.  Mr. Berry co-writes medieval humor with Diane Berry.  The pair have two books available on Growing Disenchantments and Dragons Away.  For my review, I selected Growing Disenchantments, and am glad I did.  It is one of the most humorous, well-written stories I've read in a long time.  And the dialogue is pretty amazing as well. 

Here is my review posted on and Goodreads:

There is much to be said about Growing Disenchantments by K.D. Berry, but to sum it all up in one word, I would call it brilliant. Growing Disenchantments is a humorous medieval drama that follows several main and supporting characters, including Ragonnard, a sorcerer who has his sights set on obtaining an amulet worn by fellow sorcerer Syranax, whose soul has been trapped in a painting for the better part of five hundred years. Ragonnard believes he knows the spell to obtain the amulet from the painting without disturbing Syranax. To aid him in his pursuit, Ragonnard recruits the assistance of Ganfrey, a thief whom he catches after she breaks into his home. After successfully stealing the painting from the palace where it's kept, Ragonnard casts a spell to obtain the amulet. However, not only does his spell free the amulet he desires, it also freed Syranax, too. Syranax, arguably the most powerful sorcerer of his time, immediately traps Ragonnard in the painting and  proceeds on a quest for retribution from those who imprisoned him, using his magic to take over the kingdom from the unassuming, child-like King Credos.

An unlikely group of characters including Ragonnard, Ganfrey, Lautrec, the head of palace security; Dewdrop, King Credos' trusted sorcerer/advisor; Velasco, Dewdrop's family and constant thorn in his side; time traveler, Ned Merrivel; and Desquartz, a palace gargoyle who becomes animated by one of Syranax's spells rally together in a bid to regain control of the kingdom and banish Syranax once and for all.

Growing Disenchantments is chock full of action and drama, but it's the brilliant and witty humor that makes it a must read. It's a story that doesn't take itself too seriously with puns abound, especially at the expense of palace guards Fowid and Holt and numerous other instances including Ragonnard's animated windows being "paned" and the broom's "bristling". There's also a very humorous instance where, after having been animated, gargoyle Desquartz seeks the use of the facilities to wash away years' worth of bird poop that has accumulated on him.

In all, Growing Disenchantments is nicely paced with very unique and likeable characters who set aside their differences in the pursuit of righting wrong. There's also a bit of a love story for us women folk, too. I highly recommend this book to everyone as I believe it will appeal to a broad range of readers and am looking Fowid :-) to reading other works by K.D. Berry.

Growing Disenchantments can be purchased here: