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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Indie Author Spotlight with Michelle Muto

Today I'm welcoming Michelle Muto to the blog.  Michelle is a fellow Indelible author and the very first guinea pig for my Indie Author Spotlight feature.

Michelle has written the haunting novel, Don't Fear the Reaper, and has graciously offered to share a teaser from the first chapter. But first, you probably want to know what the story is about, eh?

Grief-stricken by the murder of her twin, Keely Morrison is convinced suicide is her ticket to eternal peace and a chance to reunite with her sister. When Keely succeeds in taking her own life, she discovers death isn’t at all what she expected. Instead, she’s trapped in a netherworld on Earth and her only hope for reconnecting with her sister and navigating the afterlife is a bounty-hunting reaper and a sardonic, possibly unscrupulous, demon. But when the demon offers Keely her greatest temptation—revenge on her sister's murderer—she must uncover his motives and determine who she can trust. Because, as Keely soon learns, both reaper and demon are keeping secrets and she fears the worst is true—that her every decision will change how, and with whom, she spends eternity.
First Chapter Teaser:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for they are with me. 
I repeated my version of the psalm as I watched the ribbon of blood drift from my wrist. I’d hoped it would be a distraction—something to stop me from wondering what my sister’s dying thoughts had been. Exhaling slowly, I let the emptiness consume me. 
Jordan had kept my secrets and I had kept hers. In the end, it came down to just one secret between us that took her life. Now, it would take mine. I should have said something, but nothing I said or did now could bring her back or make anyone understand what she meant to me.
Are you here, Jordan? Are you with me? Tell me about heaven...
I told myself Jordan was gone, never coming back, but her memories continued to haunt me. I had no idea if there even was an afterlife. If God existed, I was convinced he had given up on me. Not once did I sense he’d heard a single one of my prayers. I wasn’t asking for the world—I only wanted to know if my sister was safe and at peace. What was so hard about that? 
She should still be here. It wasn’t fair. 
I’d been the difficult one—much more than Jordan. For a while, I’d even gotten into drugs. Mom and Dad had worried I’d get Jordan into drugs, too. But I wouldn’t. Not ever. Besides, that part of my life had been over long before Jordan’s death. A small gargoyle tattoo on my left shoulder was all that remained of my previous lifestyle.
Mom and Dad started treating me differently after Jordan’s funeral two months ago. She and I were twins, so I understood how hard it was for them to look at me and not see her. Sometimes, they wouldn’t look at me at all. Mom went to the psychiatrist, but no one asked if I needed to talk to someone about what happened. No one asked if I needed sleeping pills or antidepressants. Yeah, sure. Don’t give the former addict pills of any sort. 
Not one person saw the all-consuming suffering that gnawed at my soul. Why couldn’t anyone see? Jordan had been more than my sister—she’d been my Samson, my strength. I would have done anything for her, and yet, I’d failed her. I wasn’t the one who’d killed her, but I might as well have been. How could I ever live with that? My heart had a stillness to it since her death. 
I shall fear no evil.
I couldn’t very well recite the first part of Psalm 23 because it said I shall not want, and I did want. I wanted to go back in time. I wanted my sister back. Clearly, goodness and mercy were never going to be part of my life ever again. In my mind, I saw myself walking through the iron gates of hell with demons cackling gleefully all around.
I didn’t want to die. Not really. I was just tired and didn’t know of another way to stop the pain. Doctors removed a bad appendix. Dentists pulled rotten teeth. What was I supposed to do when my very essence hurt, when the cancer I’d come to call depression made every decent memory agonizingly unbearable? 
Before I’d gotten down to cutting my wrist (I managed to only cut one), I’d taken a few swigs of Dad’s tequila—the good kind he kept in the basement freezer. I’d used another swig or two to chase down the remainder of Mom’s sleeping pills in the event I failed to hit an artery or vein. Then I’d set the bottle on the ledge of the tub in case I needed further liquid encouragement. Instead of using a knife or a razor, I attached a cutting blade to my Dad’s Dremel. The Dremel was faster, I reasoned. More efficient. 
It would have been easier to OD, I suppose. But I felt closer to my sister this way, to suffer as she’d suffered.
I recited the line from Psalms 23 again. It had become my personal mantra. 
The words resonated in my parents’ oversized bathroom. I’d chosen theirs because the Jacuzzi tub was larger than the tub in the hall bathroom. Jordan and I used to take bubble baths together in this same tub when we were little.
Innocence felt like a lifetime ago. I searched the bathroom for bubble bath but came up short. Soap might have made the laceration hurt more so it was probably just as well. Besides, the crimson streaming from my wrist like watercolor on silk was oddly mesmerizing. 
The loneliness inside proved unrelenting, and the line from the psalms made me feel better. I prayed for the agony inside me to stop. I argued with God. Pleaded. But after all was said and done, I just wanted the darkness to call me home.
I tried not to think of who would find my body or who’d read the note I’d left. I blamed myself not only for failing Jordan, but for failing my parents, too. 
My lifeline to this existence continued to bleed out into the warm water. Killing myself had been harder than I’d imagined. I hadn’t anticipated the searing fire racing through my veins. I reached for the tequila with my good arm but couldn’t quite manage. Tears welled in my eyes. 
Part of me foolishly felt Jordan was here. The other part feared she wasn’t.
Give me a sign, Sis. Just one.
I imagined seeing my parents at my funeral—their gaunt faces, red-eyed and sleepless. How could I do this to them? Wasn’t the devastation of losing one child enough? 
No. Stop. A voice in my head screamed. Don’t do this. Don’t. Please...
I shifted my body, attempted to get my uncooperative legs under me. I could see the phone on my parents’ nightstand. I could make it that far. Had to. The voice was right. I didn’t want to do this. I felt disorientated, dizzy. Darkness crept along the edges of my vision. Focusing became difficult. A sweeping shadow of black caught my attention. Someone stood in the bathroom—not my sister. A man. Had I managed to call 911? I couldn’t remember getting out of the tub. And why’d I get back in? Did I use a towel? 
Mom is going to be pissed when she sees the blood I’ve tracked all over the bedroom carpet. 
“I’m sorry,” I told the man in black. 
“It’s okay, Keely. Don’t be afraid.” Not my father’s voice. It was softer, with a hint of sorrow. Distant. Fleeting. Later, I’d feel embarrassed about this, but for now I was safe from the nothing I’d almost become. My teeth clattered from the chill. My eyelids fluttered in time with my breaths. The tub water had turned the color of port wine. The ribbons, the pretty, red watercolor ribbons were gone.
Dull gray clouded my sight.
A voice whispered to me, and my consciousness floated to the surface again. 
“—okay, Keely.”
Cold. So cold.
“I’m right here.”
There was no fear in me as the man bent forward, his face inches from mine. He was my father’s age, and yet strangely older. His eyes were, almost iridescent. The irises were rimmed in a fine line of black, and the creases etched at the corners reminded me of sunbeams as he gave me a weak smile. The oddly. Dressed. Paramedic. A warm hand reached into the water and cradled mine. My fingers clutched his. I sighed, feeling myself floating, drifting. Light—high and intense exploded before me. No! Too much. Too much! I shuddered and labored to catch my breath, but it wouldn’t come. 
Finally, the comfort of darkness rose to greet me.
Thank you so much, Michelle, for sharing this chilling teaser.  If you want to pick up your own copy of Don't Fear the Reaper, you can find it at these vendors: 
And to connect with Michelle, you can find her here:

Leap Into Books Giveaway Hop

I couldn't resist the frog emblem, so here I am, giving away more books. Well, e-books, to be precise.  (So International entries are welcome!)  Thanks to I am a Reader, Not a Writer and Jinky is Reading for organizing this event.
Here's what's up for grabs ~ for slow readers like me, this is a month's worth of books!
Anew by Chelsea Fine
Destined by *me*
Forbidden (The Guardian Chronicles) by Megan Curd
The Willows: Haven by Hope Collier

I will gift these books to you through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords.  Just fill out the form below and enter to win.  Then, hop on to the next blog for more great chances.  Thanks for coming by.  ((HUGS))

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Happy Debut YA Book Birthdaybu

So, well, I goofed last week and it turns out that When the Sea is Rising Red, Shooting Stars, and Oppression by Jessica Theiron actually didn't release until this week. Oh well... you should check the out again, if you haven't already.  They look awesome - especially Oppression.

There's also: Freshman Year and Other Natural Disasters by Meredith Zeilin
Laugh-out-loud funny high school drama - perfect for fans of Lauren Myracle and Meg Cabot

Let's say you're fourteen and live in New York City. You'd think your life would be like a glamorous TV show, right? And yet . . . You don't have a checking account, much less a personal Black American Express card. You've never been to a club, and the only couture in your closet is a Halloween costume your mom made from an old laundry bag.

In other words? You're Kelsey Finkelstein - fourteen and frustrated. Every time she tries to live up to her awesome potential, her plans are foiled. Kelsey wants to rebrand herself for high school to make the kind of mark she knows is her destiny. But just because Kelsey has a plan for greatness . . . it doesn't mean the rest of the world is in on it.

Kelsey's hilarious commentary and sardonic narration of her freshman year will have readers laughing out loud - while being thankful that they're not in her shoes, of course.

Repeat from last week that actually debuts this week ~
Elyse knows what it means to keep a secret. She's been keeping secrets her whole life. Two, actually. First, that she ages five times slower than average people, so that while she looks eighteen years old, she's closer to eighty. Second, that her blood has a mysterious power to heal. For Elyse, these things don't make her special. They make life dangerous. After the death of her parents, she's been careful to keep her secret as closely guarded as possible. Now, only one other person in the world knows about her age and ability. Or so she thinks. Elyse is not the only one keeping secrets. There are others like her all over the world, descendants of the very people the Greeks considered gods. She is one of them, and they have been waiting for her for a long time. Some are waiting for her to put an end to centuries of traditions that have oppressed their people under the guise of safeguarding them. Others are determined to keep her from doing just that. But for Elyse, the game is just beginning - and she's not entirely willing to play by their rules.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Amy Lignor Guest Posts on Until Next Time

Today, I'm welcoming Amy Lignor, whose debut YA novel, Until Next Time: The Angel Chronicles, debuted on February 1st. Amy's going to talk to us about who she envisions playing her characters on the silver screen. But before that, it'd probably help to know what the book is about, huh?

How does a girl choose between the one who steals her heart and the one who owns her soul? 

Matt and Emily were created for a specific job. Raised and trained as the ultimate angel/warrior team, they are sent down to save, defend, judge and forgive, depending on the 'life' they've been assigned. What they don't realize is that the power of human emotions, such as love, anger, passion and fear can take over even the best of souls, causing them to make mistakes and follow paths that lead to confusion and heartache. 

When the reason for their training is finally revealed, the angel/warrior team find themselves thrust into a world they know nothing about. Matt takes over the life of Daniel, a young man with a great deal of baggage. Emily becomes Liz, a girl living in a remote village who relies on nothing more than her own strength to survive. A violent storm erupts one night, and framed in the window of Liz's establishment is a frightening face. Let in by the soul of a Good Samaritan, the two visitors bring with them a past full of secrets that could literally change an angel's path and a warrior's plans. 

From murder to redemption, this angel/warrior team must find a way to keep the faith they have in each other in a world that's ripping them apart.

The ‘Angels’ in Lights!
When I think about seeing Matt and Emily up on the big screen I always make sure to look into my dog’s eyes so he can roll them and bring me back to reality , although that is a killer dream.
I have to say this is the most difficult question thus far that I’ve been asked because I actually want the girl who is on the cover of Until Next Time.  But unless one of the graphic artists at the publishing company also moonlights as Dr. Frankenstein, I suppose that’s out. 
There are many out there who automatically would shout out that Taylor Lautner should be Matt, my warrior.  Problem is, I need his muscles, Shia Labeouf’s sense of humor, the startlingly blue eyes that Daniel Radcliffe owns, and dirty-blond hair.  And they do have to be the right age.  I just can’t have a twenty-four-year-old play a seventeen-year-old.  As things stand in the industry right now, Callan McAuliffe would be my choice for Matt.  I say this because of his acting ability as well as the long, lean form he has.  I’ve seen him look into the camera and laugh, tear up, stay strong, get angry - so he most definitely has the acting chops to carry Matt off. And he has that innocent face still that looks unharmed by the rest of the world.  I’m looking forward to his turn as young Gatsby in the film adaptation of The Great Gatsby that‘s coming in our future.  This, I believe, will really show his range.  He’s truly a face to watch, and being from Australia he adds that little added-extra kick of the ‘unknown foreigner’ factor.

The female is even more difficult; I wish that Emma Stone could be ten years younger.  I need Emily to be able to come across with so many emotions.  She needs that anger (without a pout, preferably), and she needs to be able to roll her eyes and fall very hard in love, almost at the same time.  The actresses in the age range are lean.  I like Nina Dobrev and Abigail Breslin, but I would have to go with India Eisley.  (The Secret Life of the American Teenager).

She will need those emerald green contacts, but she has the innocent face - like McAuliffe - that would really show the viewer she’s having a very hard time with all these human emotions, but still seem believable and strong to her soul mate.  And now that India has experienced the Underworld, she should be allowed to come from somewhere a little higher up .
For the older readers, I have to add this one thing.  Mike and Gabe are the teachers, the fire starters, friends, fathers, mentors, etc., so I have to say that Keifer Sutherland and Johnny Depp get those jobs hand down.  Certain types of ‘cool’ do NOT go out of style!

And there is a love interest in this one that Dan Radcliffe would be perfect for!  I hope I’ll see all of you at the movie!
Until Next Time, Everybody.

So, now that you're dying to get your hands on a copy, here are the links to buy, follow and generally stalk Amy and her novel.

The Angel Chronicles web site:

The Angel Chronicles Facebook page:!/pages/The-Angel-Chronicles/168932393209654

Until Next Time GoodReads page:

Amy Lignor's Facebook:

Amy Lignor's Twitter:!/HelloWritersAmy

Amy Lignor's Website:

Amy Lignor's Blog:

Amy Lignor's GoodReads:

Tribute Books website:

Tribute Books Facebook:

Tribute Books Twitter:

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Interview with Elle Strauss, Author of Clockwise and It's a Little Haywire

Today, I have the honor of hosting Elle Strauss on my blog. Elle is the author of the recently-released YA novel, Clockwise, and the just-released MG novel, It's a Little Haywire. She's going to be spending a little time answering with us answering questions about Haywire. But first, you need to know what this book is about!

Owen True is eleven and eleven twelfths and has been “exiled” to the small crazy town of Hayward, WA, aka Haywire, while his mother is on her honeymoon. All he has to whittle away the time is the company of Gramps, his black lab Daisy, and his Haywire friends, Mason and Mikala Sweet. They don’t look so hot this year, in fact the whole town has gone to pot since the mill shut down.

Owen has his first encounter with a real life homeless man who ends up needing Owen’s help in more ways than one. But how does a rich city kid help the small town’s suffering citizens?

And what is Owen to make of the fog train and its scary, otherworldy occupants that appears out of thin air on the old tracks behind Gramps’ house? Do they have the answer Owen is looking for?

Now ... on to the interview!
I love the concept here -- a rich kid getting some real world perspective meets paranormal.  What made you want to tell this story in particular?

I think we all get caught up in our own worlds. It's easy to miss or overlook what's going on around us and in the world, especially when you're a kid. This story collides the main character's reality, a well to do life style, with those who are struggling to get by on far less. It also collides his material world with the spiritual.

What was the coolest part about writing this book for you?

This book is by far the most personal book. The voice of the main character, Owen True, was inspired by letters I found recently that were written to my parents by my eldest son when he was ten. When I listen to Owen True speak, I hear my son Joel. Like Gramps in It's a Little Haywire, my father has a song for every moment. He was the one who helped me to collect the songs for Charlie True's playlist. My daughter Tasia drew the illustrations and I love this opportunity to collaborate on a project with her.

Did you do the illustrations for the book?  If not, who?
Oh, I answered this in the last question. My seventeen year old daughter did them. And no, it wasn't slave labor. She owed me money. We bartered :)

Do you think books "with more" will become the new standard in publishing? And by that I mean, books that have illustrations or a playlist or some other bonus material like you've done here?

I definitely do. I only touched the tip of the iceberg here. Once reading devices like Kindle Fire and the ipad become used widely, readers will grow accustomed to books including media that those types of devices can operate, like music, videos and interactive apps.

Do you have a song in particular that you think best catches the mood or personality of It's a Little Haywire?

There's a whole playlist included at the end of the book with hyperlinks to youtube so that kids who've never heard songs like, There's a Lonely Little Robin, or Sugar in the Morning, can have a listen. I'd say the one that represents It's a Little Haywire the most is Catch a Falling Star.

What can your reads expect next from you? We'd love some juicy insight into what you've got cooking up next.

I actually have quite a lot coming down the pike. The sequel to my time travel YA Clockwise called Clockwiser will be out in Apr/May, a companion book called Like Clockwork is set for June. I want to have my merfolk book called Seaweed out this summer and a historical drama about a boy who grows up in Hitler Youth called Playing with Matches out by the end of summer as well.

 And there you have it -- go forth and get Haywire. It's normally $2.99, but it will be FREE for Feb 22 and 23 only.  After after you've done that, be sure to follow Elle around on the interwebs.  :)
Twitter: @elle_strauss
Facebook : Elle Strauss - Author
Goodreads: Elle Strauss Goodreads Author 
Google+: Elle Strauss 
Wattpad: Elle Strauss