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  1. A big welcome to Ashley Stambaugh whose debut novel, Collide, has just been published by Astraea Press. Congratulations, Ashley!

    collide cover art

     

     Back cover blurb

    Melina Rowe never thought her quiet, simple life could change to one full of fear and confusion just by accidentally bumping into someone. But after she collides with an elderly man named Walter, she starts to hear people’s thoughts and have unsettling visions.

    Walter reveals himself as a guiding angel and explains to Melina that she’s a rare type of human who can absorb angel powers. But her special ability is more of a problem for her than a gift.

    The powers are too strong for humans and will eventually kill Melina unless she can successfully use them to help a select individual who’s in need of guidance. Her chances are slim, though, seeing that the handful of other humans this has happened to before didn't survive.

    Scared for her life, Melina desperately tries to help a young man named Lee, but his continual resistance and her struggle with the powers make it almost impossible. Her situation only grows worse when a trio of soul-snatching demons is sent by an unknown entity to take her soul and kill her.

    As a determined Walter sets out to discover who sent the demons and why, Melina must defend herself from their relentless attacks all while trying to use powers she doesn’t fully understand to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. If she can’t figure out how to break through to Lee, the powers will ultimately destroy her. But if the powers don’t kill her first, the demons will.

    Tag line

    Absorbing angel powers that could possibly kill you is bad, but being hunted by ruthless demons who want your soul might be worse.

     

    Book excerpt

    Chapter One

     

    Melina Rowe peered out of her bedroom window and wrinkled her nose. It was late October, so she knew it was cold outside, but it also appeared to be windy. These weather conditions weren’t her favorite, but she was determined to continue with her morning runs until snow prevented her from doing otherwise. She pulled her long brown hair up into a ponytail, slid a fleece headband on over her ears, and zipped up her coat before heading out her apartment door and down the stairwell to her bookstore below. The store didn’t open for another hour, so she had plenty of time. She took a quick look around and then turned to exit through the back.

    Starting off in a slight jog, she followed her normal path toward the park, taking in the city in its early morning state as she went. Traffic was light, and there was only a handful of people out and about. The sky was a dull gray, and brown, dried up leaves swirled and danced around her, giving the city an even gloomier feeling. She hoped the blustery wind didn’t mean rain was on its way.

    After only a few short blocks, the wrought iron gates that surrounded the park appeared alongside her. She picked up her pace and rounded a corner to her right, making her way toward the entrance, when she came upon an elderly man walking from the opposite direction. They met each other so suddenly that neither of them had a chance to move out of the way. Melina collided with the man, and it was in that moment that it happened.

    As soon as their bodies made contact, she felt a powerful surge of energy pass through her and then a bright white light exploded between them, knocking them both away from each other. Melina, who had been knocked to the ground, pushed herself up to her feet, wondering what had just happened. The sensation that went through her body was like nothing she had ever felt before. It was very sharp and intense, like an electric shock, but at the same time it was soothing and warm. The feeling still lingered in her body as she finally looked over at the man.

    After catching his balance, he looked over at her, and she noticed his expression of confusion and shock. His mouth opened as if to say something, but nothing came out. He stared at her for a moment and then finally he spoke to her.

    “You,” he muttered.

    “Excuse me?” she asked, returning his confused look.

    “You’re one of them.”

    Buy links:

     Astraea Press

    Amazon

     

    About Ashley

    I asked Ashley to tell us a bit about herself.

    How did you get started writing?

     I’ve loved to read and write since I was a young girl, but I guess I never took it seriously until I was older.  It was always more of a hobby for me until after I graduated from college.  That’s when I realized that I wanted to be one of those people who could truly say that they did what they loved for a living, so I set out to make it come true.

     

    Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?

     I can curl my tongue!

     What’s your top writing tip for new writers?

     Don’t ever give up.  I know a lot of authors say that, but there’s a reason why a lot of authors say that.  Because it’s true.  Don’t ever give up on your writing.  That doesn’t mean that you may not have to rewrite your manuscript a couple of times, or maybe even put that one aside and move on to your next piece of work, but you’ll eventually find success if you don’t ever give up.

     Great advice, Ashley!

    author picture - ashley stambaugh

     

    About the author

    Ashley Stambaugh grew up in a small town in Illinois where she and her two siblings created some of the best memories playing on their family’s farm. She stayed in the southern region of the state to attend college where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and also met her husband.

    Now, she and her husband live in central Illinois and spend their time creating new memories with their two rambunctious boys and their comical black Pug. She also enjoys reading, taking long walks, and finding great bargains. When her sons are a little bit older, she has a great desire to travel with her family. Oh, and she also has a slight obsession with chocolate.

    When she’s not busy chasing after her two young children or losing herself in a good book, you can find her curled up on her couch with her laptop, writing.

    Social media links

    Website
    Facebook author page
    Twitter

    Goodreads

     Thanks for dropping by, Ashley. :)

     

     

  2. I'm pleased to welcome fellow Astraea Author, Sandy Green, to my blog today. Sandy's latest book is called No One's Watching.

     nooneswatching highres

    In No One’s Watching, the classical romanticism of Swan Lake meets the raw energy of Riverdance. High school freshman Kitri Othersen is expected to follow in her mom’s and grandmother’s turned-out footsteps - dance in a ballet company and then teach at the family dance studio. And she loves the idea. Right? Not exactly. 

    At summer dance camp, Kitri isn't chosen for a ballet role at the end-of-camp performance. Ironically, she’s placed in an Irish dance duet, a form of dance her mother, for some inexplicable reason, hates. Soon Kitri realizes that she’s falling in love with everything about Irish dance, including her partner Blake. When her archrival is injured, Kitri is offered the coveted ballet piece in place of Irish dance. Kitri has to decide whether to crush her mom’s hopes or tie a Celtic knot to her new passion and hang on. 

    After all, if you aren’t following your dreams, whose dreams are you following?

     Amazon

    Amazon UK

    B&N: 

     About Sandy

     

    sandy

    I asked Sandy to tell us a bit about herself:

    How did you get started writing?

     

     I was in the kitchen after my children had gone to school about ten years ago. William Shatner was being interviewed on the radio about all the technology from Star Trek that had become a reality. What would be the next bit of science fiction to become fact? I had an idea about a personal hologram and had to write the story.

     

     Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?

     

     I can wiggle my ears!

     

     What’s your top writing tip for new writers?

     

     Join the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators or another writing organization, which offers information and support. 

    Good tip, writing can be a lonely business so it's great to have an organisation like this to fall back on.

    Author Bio:

     

     

    Sandy Green is a children's author and poet from the USA. She trained as a classical ballet dancer, earned a BFA in dance from Florida State University, and has several years of experience with her daughter in the popular world of competitive Irish dance. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband and two children.

     

    Author Links

    Website:

    Goodreads:  

    Twitter:  @SandyDGreen

     

    Thanks for dropping by and telling us about your book, Sandy. It sounds a great read!

     

     

     

     

  3. Today I'm delighted to welcome back to my blog fellow Astraea author, Ariella Moon to talk about Spell Fire,  the third book in her popular Teen Wytche Saga series.

    SpellFire2_500x750

    Can two people forge a future when their secret pasts collide?

     

    Blurb

    New school. New friends. New reputation. High school sophomore Ainslie Avalon-Bennett works hard to hide her Crazy Girl past. But as long as her best friend’s disappearance remains unsolved, she can’t shake the depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder that once landed her in a mental ward.

    Ainslie’s tenuous control over her life shatters when her warring parents ditch her at Christmas. While they take a cruise to “work things out,” Ainslie must spend the holiday in Palm Springs with her aunt and uncle, owners of a struggling Mystery School and occult store. Plunged into the world of fire fortunes, dragons, entity eaters, and an ailing spell book, Ainslie is well beyond her comfort zone. Then she meets a boy who spikes her pulse and calms her OCD.  But will she lose him once he discovers her past? Or will his deadly secret, hidden in plain view, be their undoing? 

    Excerpt

    I found a patch of sunlight where I could sit with my back against the wall and pulled out The Scarlet Letter. I kept my head down while Uncle Esmun arrived and took his seat. Years before Sophia's disappearance and my descent into the rabbit hole, I had sat in on a few of Dad's business meetings. I knew the protocol. Be quiet and inconspicuous. Don't interrupt the adults; they have important business matters to discuss. Only these adults were discussing the tarot cards they had drawn from a deck in the center of the table.

    I tried to concentrate on Hawthorne's book, on Hester's vengeful husband who'd practiced medicine under an assumed name. But Hazel was telling the rest of the group she had just returned from Cornwall, England and had brought each of them a gift. I wondered what it could be. Seashells? Photos of quaint cottages?

    ʺI have a pixie for each of you.ʺ

    Right. Like you could get those past customs.

    ʺHow nice of you, Hazel,ʺ Aunt Terra said.

    I thought back to what I knew about pixies. Weren't they supposed to be a) extremely troublesome and b) not real?

    Hazel sashayed up to each Board member, starting with Cerelia, and acted like she was putting a pixie in their hands or on their shoulder. As she progressed around the table, some members oohed and aahed as if she was a three-year-old showing off a crayon drawing. When she approached Evie's grandmother, the tote vibrated, rattling the glass table. Hazel faltered, her expression uncertain. She dropped back, and the rattling stopped. Brimstone smells hissed through the closed zipper. Cerelia shrank back.

    Evie's grandmother pointed a warning finger at the tote. ʺStop it. Don't be rude.ʺ

    My jaw dropped. Thor glanced at me, then flicked his gaze back to the tote. It stopped emitting smoke.

    Uncle Esmun rubbed his nose. Hazelʹs head wobbled as if she were figuring out her next course of action. She still cupped her hand as if she carried an invisible pixie.

    Hello! Did you not notice the real magical object in the room?

    Seemingly unable to drop the pretense, Hazel advanced toward the alientologist. He ignored her and scribbled in his little notebook. Thor politely rebuffed her. Both rose at least twenty degrees on my Guy Approval Meter.

    I checked my watch. The meeting had started forty minutes ago. Nothing had been accomplished. No one had addressed the tote situation. My face warmed again. I shifted position. Instead of sitting against the wall with my legs straight in front of me, I sat cross‑legged and hunched over my book. A tugging sensation rippled between my shoulder blades.

    Thor glanced my way.

    The more I thought about how much Aunt Terra and Uncle Esmun must need every cent the store and mystery school could generate, the more energy swelled behind me. Warmth radiated from my face. My whole body felt as if it was glowing. I tried to distract myself by flitting back to my book and my lengthy homework assignment list.

    I couldn't concentrate.

    Hazel had reached Aunt Terra and delivered what I hoped was the last pixie. She pivoted and spied me. The energy behind me compacted. It crackled with huge warrior/ninja/dragon chi — alert and ready to strike. The thought of straightening up and backing into it set the fine hairs on my forearms and nape on end.

    Thor's eyes met mine. Our gazes locked, and I swear he did a Zen mind meld. Soothing waves of chi — energy — flowed through me. The brimstone stink evaporated, replaced by the calming scent of lavender and sage.

    Hazel's gaze swiveled from me to Thor, then back to me. Looking buffeted by an unseen wind, she silently returned to her seat.

    The corners of Thor's full lips curved upward. Two urges warred within me — the desire to leap across the room and kiss him, and the urge to arch my neck and breathe fire.

    Thor's smile widened.

    The Teen Wytche Saga by Ariella Moon

    Spell Check

    Spell Struck

    Spell Fire

    Buy Links

    Amazon

    Barnes and Noble

    Astraea Press

     Ariella Moon author photo

     I asked Ariella to tell us a bit about herself.

    How did you get started in writing?

    I won a national essay contest in the sixth grade. From that point on, I started thinking I can do this!

    Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?

    As a shaman, my work is full of surprises. Once I was hired to clear the bad energy from a large medical building. On the appointed day, the owner drove me to the site. As we approached the complex she said, “Oh, and there is a ghost in the surgery.” Minor detail! It sounds fascinating, Ariella.

    What’s your top writing tip for new writers?

    Never give up! Make your writing as strong as possible. Do a word search for words ending in “ly” (adverbs). These often signal weak verb choices and create wordy sentences. Go for power verbs.

     

    Great tip, editors hate writers using too many adverbs.

     

    About Ariella Moon

     Ariella Moon writes about magic, friendship, secrets, and love in Spell Check, Spell Struck, and Spell Fire, the first three books in The Teen Wytche Saga from Astraea Press.After a childhood spent searching for a magical wardrobe that would transport her to Narnia, Ariella grew up to become a Reiki Master, author and shaman.Extreme math anxiety and taller students who mistook her for a leaning post marred Ariella’s youth. Despite these horrors, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Davis. She now lives a nearly normal life with her extraordinary daughter, two shamelessly spoiled dogs, and an enormous dragon.

     

    Connect with Ariella Moon

    http://www.ariellamoon.com

    http://ariellamoon.blogspot.com

    http://www.facebook.com/ariellamoon.author

    http://www.goodreads.com/AuthorAriellaMoon

    http://www.pinterest.com/ariellamoon/

     

     Thanks so much for dropping by, Ariella. Lovely to talk to you again. :)

  4. Last week I blogged about doing some KAT school visits with my friend, author Ann Evans, so today I thought I'd tell you a bit more about our KAT project. Ann and I both love to inspire children and adults to write so we've got together to run joint workshops both in and out of school. We came up with the name KAT - short for Kids and Authors together - for our creative writing workshops for children. Coincidentally, the initials could also stand for Karen and Ann together! Here's a picture of us both with some of our books. Some people say we look alike, we've even been mistaken for sisters.

     

    EVANS N KING smaller

    My illustrator daughter, Naomi, designed us this Kat Logo:

    Kat logo

    We've visited several schools under the KAT umbrella and really enjoy working together. For our solo visits both Ann and I work with any year but for the KAT visits I work with Nursery, Reception and KS1 while Ann works with KS2. That way all the children get to work with one of us.

    Our workshops for adults are called Write Now! because our aim is to get people writing. Again, Naomi designed the logo:

     

    Write Now logo

     

    We hold our workshops at Tysalls Photography Studio, Nuneaton, which Ann shares with photographer Rob Tysall. So far we're run workshops on writing the novel and writing romantic fiction. There's another one coming up on 27th March about putting the emotion in your writing. Drop in and join us if you can. Two authors, two writing tutors - it's double the value!

  5. logo-2014

    I won't be around much this week. I'm going to be working with mummies, witches, pirates and lots of other unusual characters.

    mum02                                   witch                      pirate

    You see, it's World Book Day on 6th March and the children - and often the teachers too - dress up as their favourite characters from books. I love looking at all the different costumes and seeing the children have so much fun. There's the usual Harry Potters and Winnie the Witches of course, princesses, knights, pirates and fairies as well as Wally from Where's Wally, Harry and the Dinosaurs and lots of  more unusual characters. And the festivities carry on all week, so I visit lots of different schools to talk to the children about my work and encourage them to write. I run all sorts of workshops on subjects such dragons, detectives, space and we all have a great time.

     

    Kat logo

    This year, I'll be doing some KAT school visits with my friend, Ann Evans, another children's author, so it will be double the fun. Hopefully we'll have some photos to post online but of course I can't take or post online photos of children without their parents permission so I'll have to see.

    I do have some photos from previous school visits I have got permission to use - no costumes I'm afraid:

               Blessed Edward Press photo           

    Visiting the children of Bishop Perowne CofE College, Worcester.

               Shining Stars nursery                                 

           Reading to the children of The Shining Stars Nursery, Plymouth.

     

    Straits School 1       

        

     

     

     

     

    Making up stories with the children of Straits Primary School, Dudley.

     

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    And look at these fantastic masks the children of  Alveston CofE Primary School, Stratford made.

     

    So I'm off now to pack my dragon, my magic bag and all the other things I need. Maybe I'll even get my witch costume out and join in the fun!