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  1. Today fellow Astraea author Krysten Lindsay Hagar is going to tell us all about her new release, True Colours.

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    Extract

    The competition was for girls between the ages of thirteen and seventeen, but it felt like Ericka, Tori, and I were the youngest ones there. I only saw a couple of girls from school, and the lineup looked more like something you’d see on a music video set. All the girls were gorgeous, and they had these curvy womanly bodies. I looked like a skinny little kid next to them. The first girl walked out, and I heard the judges say she “owned the runway,” and, “walked like a gazelle.” I was starting to feel ill. I wasn’t sure which way it was going to come, but I knew I had to find a bathroom — fast. I started to get out of line when Ericka grabbed my wrist.

    “It’s almost time,” she said. A tiny bit of spit flew out of her mouth and hit my cheek.

    I wasn’t sure why she was so intent on me going through with it, but she had a death grip on my arm, so I didn’t have much of a choice. Her number was called and she walked out to the stage. One of the other girls said she walked like a kid with sand bucket stilts on her feet, but she came back with a smirk on her face like she knew she’d get chosen.

    “They said they had never seen such long legs,” she said.

    Tori was next.

    “She walks like a gorilla at feeding time,” said the girl behind me. I went next, and I tried to focus on not tripping over my feet. My mom’s pumps had a rubber sole on the bottom, which probably wasn’t the brightest idea seeing as my shoes were making squeaking noises as I walked. I was so nervous I couldn’t stop smiling as I walked. I looked like the plastic clown who blows up balloons with its mouth at the Pizza Palace. When I got to the end of the runway, I tried to cross my feet to turn like the other girls had, but I over rotated and ended up doing a full spin which made my kilt fan out and gave the mall walkers a view of my blue underpants. I tried to act like it was intentional and did an extra turn. One of the judges put her hand up to stop me, and I held my breath as she started to speak.

    Buying links

    Amazon.com

    Amazon.co.uk

    Barnesandnoble.com

     

    It sounds a fascinating read, Krysten. :)

     

    About Krysten

    Krysten Lindsay Hager

    Krysten Lindsay Hager is an Amazon Bestselling author and book addict. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she's not catching up on her favorite shows (Hart of Dixie, The Goldbergs, Dallas, Switched at Birth and Devious Maids). She's worked as a journalist and humor writer, and writes middle grade, YA, and adult fiction.

    I asked Krysten to tell us a little about herself.

     How did you get started writing?

    My mom likes to remind me how I won my first writing contest in the first grade. It was a “Name the Teddy Bear” contest and for some reason it was open to all the grades. Somehow my essay won. I still remember my opening line was, “We should name the bear Taffy because he’s sweet like candy.” I know, my genius and originality just leaps off the page, doesn’t it? Ha ha!

    I used to make up storylines for my Barbie dolls when I was little. When I got a little older, I started writing little stories in school—always in math class. My character, Landry, says her math grades stink because she’s always daydreaming in math and I was the same way. I started taking literature and creative writing classes in college and I learned so much about how to write from studying the classics in school.

    Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?

    I lived on a Portuguese island for almost three years. I’m still a big Cristiano Ronaldo fan because he was and is such a big star there. His picture was everywhere. I never watched football/soccer in my life until I moved there and then it was on all the time.

    What’s your top writing tip for new writers?

    When I was starting out I heard that you should read at least one-hundred books in the genre you want to write before you get started. I also think taking a literature class is crucial and then get into a creative writing class and critique group to learn how to become a better writer.

     

    Reading a lot of books is a great tip for a writer, Krysten.

    Author links

    Website

    Facebook

    Twitter

    Instagram

    Goodreads

    Book Trailer

     

     

     

     

  2. I'm delighted to welcome Pippa Roberts to my blog today. Pippa writes stories, poems, scripts and articles for all ages.

     

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    Here's one of Pippa's poems

     

    The Blood Pact

    As little kids we cut our fingers

    Mixed the blood and let it lie:

    Said it was a pact of friendship,

    Vowed our friendship would not die.

    Now I am all old and hoary,

    You are withered like a stick;

    Still that pact holds true between us,

    Hey, that mix of blood was thick!

     

     (Published in the anthology My Best Friend from Oxford University Press, September 2004.)

    A lovely poem, Pippa. 

     

    Pippa has edited the following collections.

    The poetry anthologies by Effie M Roberts:

    A Wartime Poetry Journal (still available)

    Winter Jasmine  (still available)

    The Golden Glory has Fled (sold out)

     

    Buy Links

    To read more, or to order click onto this link.

    http://stargleam.wordpress.com/home/wartime-poetry-by-effie-m-roberts/

     

    About Pippa

    I asked Pippa to tell us a bit about herself.

     How did you get started writing?

    My mother tells me that I started writing stories the minute I could hold a pencil. I remember a moment of revelation, when I was about three, when I sat bolt upright in bed because I realised that writing books must be a job, and that it was the job I would do. (I obviously had a keen sense of the dramatic, even at that age. :D) I won a couple of competitions as a child, but my first published work was a poem, in ‘Ver Poets’. A bit after that I had a SF story accepted for ‘SFF Books’, and was very excited about it, but then the magazine closed down, before it was published. (This seemed to be a pattern, even with quite prestigious magazines in that part of my career!)

     

    Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?

    I am constantly in and out of water. A total water baby! If I was responsible for public transport we’d be swimming home along specially covered channels, with our bags coming through behind us on little motor boats.

     

    What’s your top writing tip for new writers?

    Don’t feel that writing novels is the only option available to new writers. Try your local Everyman and see if they have a lab for writers. If they do you should be able to hear your scripts read by professional actors, and receive feedback from them, and from directors and fellow writers. As your skill increases, you may have plays put on. You can be absolutely sure that your scripts are read, because they are read in front of you!

    This is so true, Pippa. Many new writers struggle to write a novel so think they're no good at writing when actually they're more suited to another genre that they haven't even tried yet.

     

    Author bio

    Pippa Roberts’s stories and poems have appeared in a wide range of publications, from children’s magazines, Horizon and Aquila, to Cadenza and Quality Womens’ Fiction. They have also appeared in anthologies from publishers such as Oxford University Press, Bridge House and Rebel Books. She is a member of Cheltenham Everyman Writers’ Lab, and wrote the play, Investigation: Haunted House, which toured schools in the north of England last year.

    Pippa has also done occasional free-lance journalism for The Western Daily Press, Writers’ Forum, Evergreen Magazine, and The Gloucestershire Echo - and she edited poetry anthologies by Effie M.Roberts for her own publishing company, Fractal Publishing.

    Author Links

    http://stargleam.wordpress.com

    http://stargleam.wordpress.com/home/pippa-roberts-plays-with-real-science-experiments/

     

    For details of Pippa’s talks and readings:

    http://stargleam.wordpress.com/home/talks-and-readings/

     

    Also find Pippa on Twitter (Stargleam), and Goodreads.

     

    Thanks for dropping by, Pippa!

     

  3. A warm welcome to my Guest Author Lorraine Hellier.  Lorraine's children's novel, The Curse of the Maze, was published December 2013 and launched at Samuel Johnson Birthplace/Bookshop.

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    About the book

    Serendipity Island is in another dimension, accessed through a Grandfather Clock. It has been cursed by Morinder, a descendant of an evil sorcerer. She wants revenge on Phineas and the inhabitants of Serendipity.

    I know that your most prized possessions are not gold and precious gems, but your children. I’ll take them all, unless you can find any other children brave enough to save yours.

    It’s up to Matthew, Alex, Zoe and Ellen – who form the Amazateers – to save the islander’s children. They face the cursed maze and a beast who the islanders and animals call the Guardian. Phineas tells them: ‘A huge hedge has grown around the island and the sun can’t shine through. The problem is, it’s spread into the island and now forms a maze and we can’t find the way to the centre.’

    Each of the Amazateers has a part to play in breaking the curse. Will they complete their mission and save the children of Serendipity Island?

    Buy Links

    Troubador

    Amazon

    Waterstones

    Signed copies are also available from Lorraine's website.

    About the Author 

     

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    I asked Lorraine to tell us a bit about herself:                 

    As a child I loved read and make believe I was either a character or living the story of a novel.        

    I like my readers to step into the footsteps of my characters and enjoy their adventures.  After finishing “The Complete Writer” course, attending various conferences, seminars, London Book Fair and joining the local writers group, I found ‘Writing for Children’ gave me the excuse to enter into a fantasy world where I could escape whenever I want to.

     My background working with children though the years has given me the confidence and experience of working closely with children of all ages. I now visit schools as a Children’s Author and offer Creative Writing Workshops. I also attend Author Events at local libraries.

    I joined a local Writers group and the SCBWI. Having the support and advice of writer friends is invaluable.

    Good advice, Lorraine!

    How did you get started writing?

    I was living and working in Guernsey, Channel Isles, when I was first inspired to write. The island is beautiful and, when I came back to the mainland, the places I had visited stayed with me. A popular tourist attraction is the little Chapel.  Next to it was a tourist shop and clockmakers, where a row of different styles of grandfather clocks stood to attention. Looking back I guess that’s why I imagined a fantasy world inside a grandfather clock and “The Other End of the Rainbow” was born. I hadn’t planned a series but I loved the characters and I didn’t want to let them go, so I continued and I have now completed the Serendipity Series of five fantasy novels for children 7 -10 years.

    Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?

    My Career path was Dentistry, mainly treating children. I was often told by parents and teachers that the children called me the Tooth Fairy! I even got letters when I left Guernsey from a family who still called me their Tooth Fairy years later.

    Maybe you'll write a story about the tooth fairy next, Lorraine!

    What's your Top Tip for new writers?

    The most beneficial advice I would offer new writers is to meet with other writers for support, encouragement and constructive critiques. Read, and write, write, write.                                                   

     

    Author Links

    Website

    Author Facebook Page

     

    Thanks for dropping by tell us about your book, Lorraine. :)

     

  4. I'm pleased to welcome Guest Author Misha Herwin to my blog today. Misha's children's novel, Dragonfire, for 8-12 year olds is out now.

    Cover 2

     

    Blurb

    Dragonfire” is aimed at the 8-12 market, it’s for all those who are missing a certain boy wizard. The first in the series it tells the story of Polly Miller and Courtleigh Jones. Polly sets fire to places, Courtleigh shoplifts. Taken into care they are sent to St. Savlons Care Home for Truly Disruptive Children. It is a place where children disappear, where ghosts walk and gateways into other realms can be opened.

    “Polly watched the flames licking the edge of the curtains. She was trapped. Her stomach flipped and her legs went weak, then Courtleigh’s hand was on her
    elbow.

    “This way,” he said pushing open the landing window.

    “It’s too high to jump,” she cried.

    But jump they must, out of the window and into the dangerous and mysterious world of The Edges…”

    CHAPTER ONE

    “There were dragons in the sky, the night the firework factory blew up,” Gran said. Courtleigh shuffled uncomfortably in his seat.  He looked up at the clock on the wall and wondered how much longer he would have to wait.  “It was a sign. I know it was. A sign of evil and change, but one good thing came out of it,” Gran smiled and patted his knee. “It brought me you.”

    Courtleigh looked at his little Gran with her black skin as wrinkled as a walnut, her bright coloured dress and the gold tooth, that flashed when she grinned, and wondered why she was telling him all this.  He knew the story of how the ground had opened up after the explosion and the block of flats, where he lived with his mum, had been swallowed up, never to be seen again.  Gran blamed the dragons fighting.  She said it was a terrible battle and he was lucky to have survived.

    “I found you in the morning,” she continued.  “You came running to me out of the smoke and dust.  You and this baby were the only two left alive.  Your mama was gone and your daddy was on his travels, so it was up to me to bring you up.”

    “I know,” Courtleigh muttered.  His stomach was churning and his mouth was dry.

    “I did my best,” Gran said softly.  “Whatever happens, I want you to remember that.”

    “Courtleigh Jones.” The usher stood in the doorway. “They are ready for you now.”  His footsteps echoed on the marble floor, as he led the way into the gloomy courtroom.

    Mrs Whiteside, the magistrate, glared at the boy in front of her.  Her fat, white face looked as if it had been carved out of lard.  There was a long black hair growing out of the mole on her chin and a faint moustache over her top lip.  She hated teenagers especially jumped up lads who swaggered around thinking they knew everything.

    “If I had my way, Courtleigh Jones, I would have you locked up and the key thrown away,” she said.

    “Yes Ma’am,” he muttered.  He thrust his hands in his pockets and stared at the floor.

    Here she goes again, he thought, as Mrs Whiteside banged her fist on the desk and leaned towards him.

    “Look at me Courtleigh,” she snarled.

    She looks like a pig, he thought.  In a minute she’ll start snorting and grunting and she’ll get down on all fours and run out of the court and I can go home with Gran.  He bit the inside of his mouth, but it was too late, the grin spread over his face and Mrs Whiteside was turning purple with fury.

    “You find this funny, do you?” she screamed.  “Let me tell you this.  I have done everything possible to get you back onto the straight and narrow.  It’s typical of boys your age that nothing I do seems to make any difference.  I have tried fines; I have tried putting you on probation and still you go back to your thieving ways.  There is only one thing left and if that does not work, then it will be St. Savlons for you, young man.”

    “Oh not St. Savlons, please Ma’am. My Courtleigh is a good boy at heart,” Gran pleaded.  “He’s been brought up properly.  I’ve always told him not to take things from shops.”  She turned towards her grandson.  “You know that’s not how you do it, Courtleigh.”

    “I tried to put something back,” he muttered.

    “Excuse me!” Mrs Whiteside cried.  “I am not accustomed to being interrupted in my own court.  What is all this nonsense about putting things back?  He should never have taken anything in the first place!”

    Gran drew herself up to her full four foot ten and looked steadily at the magistrate.      “The way it goes Ma’am is this.  You never take but you also give.”

    “And what is that supposed to mean?” snapped Mrs Whiteside.

    “Let me explain,” Gran said softly.  “It’s like this…” and she began to talk in a low, dark voice, that was like treacle dripping off a spoon, so soothing and calming that Mrs Whiteside felt herself growing sleepy and finding it harder and harder to concentrate on  what was being said.  She had fully intended to send this criminally minded teenager straight into youth custody, but by the time Gran had finished, she was thinking of foster care with weekends home for good behaviour. 

    “Mr and Mrs Harris are very experienced, especially with the more difficult sort of child,” she said.  “But let me warn you Courtleigh, one step out of line and it will be straight to St. Savlons.”

    “Thank you Ma’am.  I am sure he will behave.  Won’t you Courtleigh?”

    Courtleigh said nothing.  He didn’t want to leave his Gran.  He didn’t want to live in a foster home.  But what could he do?

     

    Buy Links

     “Dragonfire” and the other in the series “Juggler of Shapes” and “Master of Trades” are available on Amazon.

    I asked Misha to tell us a bit about herself.

    Scribe

    About The Author

    I write books for kids and young adults. I’ve also had a number of short stories for adults published in anthologies. I live in Stoke-on-Trent with a husband who puts up with my crazy writing hours. I’ve been known to get up at 3am to work on a book. Our household is completed by a very demanding cat. The kids have grown up and have families of their own.

    I don’t know when I began writing. I know I was very young when I first started making up stories and certainly by the end of primary school I was planning my
    first book. By this time I’d written short stories and a play which I put on in a puppet theatre made from a cardboard box.

    I haven’t stopped writing since. I view it as an addiction, a need to live in a different world. Hence the dragon sleeping by the pond in my garden and
    Palmerston, the big brown bear that sits on a chair in my bedroom and comes out with the most outrageous comments at the most inappropriate times.

    If I was going to give a new writer some advice, what I would say is keep going, and going and going. However many times your work is rejected, don’t stop. If you keep working and honing your skills you will get there in the end. Also, join a good writing group, one where the members are not afraid to give you honest, well considered feedback. Since being part of the Renegades Writing Group, my work has improved immeasurably. I’ve had to re-write the first 30,000 words of my latest YA novel, but it has been accepted by an American publisher so it was definitely worth the extra hours of editing and re-drafting.

    Author Links

    Blog

    Twitter

    Facebook


    Goodreads

    Thanks for dropping by to talk to us, Misha. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

  5. A huge welcome to my Guest Author and good friend, Ann Evans. Ann has had many children's book published and her first YA, Celeste, has just been released as an ebook by Astraea Press. It's a brilliant must read.

     

    Celeste

    BLURB

    When Megan Miller moves to a new city she is suddenly plagued by feelings of déjà vu.

    She starts to have dreams and memories of people and places – so real that it breaks her heart.

    She soon realises that she has lived – and died before.  Her name had been Celeste. Only now some ancient, ominous presence is following her, haunting her, whispering in  her ear... Where did you hide it?

     

    TAG LINE

    Your past can catch up with you, but can you catch up with your past – and survive?

     

    EXTRACT

    Megan was studying the panels of mosaic windows that sent a kaleidoscope of colours onto the stone floor. Then everything dimmed. She hadn't seen it coming. One second she was in the vast echoing new cathedral surrounded by tourists when suddenly the walls closed in around her and she was alone.

    The smell of incense hung heavily in the darkness. Lighted torches standing in niches in the brickwork sent flickering shadows across the rugged flagstones. The stone beneath her feet was rough and uneven. Narrow arched doorways were set along the passageway and from a darkened recess she felt the claustrophobic presence of a tall shrouded black figure. The evil was tangible, the air chilled and a feeling of nausea swamped her.

    A voice harsh and demonic whispered in her ear...

    Where did you hide it?”

     It's a fantastic read, Ann.

     

    BUY LINKS

    Amazon

     

    I asked Ann to tell us a bit about herself.

    How did you get started writing?

    From out of the blue I suddenly got the urge to write a story for children. I imagine it was because I was expecting my first child at the time.  Up till then I hadn't written stories since leaving school. I wrote in secret for a while, thinking that people would laugh at me, then took a home study writing course which was really helpful.  I started writing short articles and stories before ever attempting a novel. It began as a hobby and somehow took over and became a career and a way of life.

    Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?

    I once played the back end of a cow in a pantomime I'd written and directed at my children's school.  Another fun fact is when writing a celebrity article I got to have lunch with Darth Vader (Dave Prowse) and Leatherface from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie, Gunnar Hansen. Scary? Not at all, they were both lovely gentlemen!

     What’s your top writing tip for new writers?

    Absorb as much knowledge about writing skills as you can. Learn your craft. Let rejection make you more determined to succeed. And persevere!

    Good tip!

     AnnEvans

    Brief Author Bio.

    Ann Evans is an English author living in Coventry in the West Midlands.  She began writing just as a hobby when her children were small. That hobby became a career and a way of life. Ann has three grown up children and five young grandchildren. As well as writing fiction for children and adults, she also writes non-fiction for magazines and has over 1,000 articles published on a wide variety of topics. She worked at her local newspaper, the Coventry Telegraph for 13 years where she was a feature writer, writing about food, gardens, travel and pets. Ann says it took a lot of perseverance to get her first book published. Cry Danger came out in 1995. Her latest book, Celeste will be book number eighteen.

      

    Social network links

    Website 

    Facebook page

    Twitter

    Blog

     

    Thanks for dropping by, Ann.