Thursday, June 26, 2014


This past weekend I read ALWAYS CAMBRIDGE, the first book in a six book saga by HK Carlton, (you can read my review HERE) that follows Holly Cambridge from age 9 into her early forties. 

This unique saga has a new book releasing on the first of the month. If you're like me, and got a late start to this party, you have time to catch up before book four releases in July!

Book One Always Cambridge - April 1
Book Two Running - May 1
Book Three Misfortune of Birth - June 1
Book Four Law & Order : Crime & Chaos - July 1
Book Five Afterlife - August 1
Book Six Always Holly - September 1

After reading Always Cambridge I sent a few questions off to HK Carlton, and she was wonderful enough to send me her answers to share with you.

MW: What made you decide to write about a mob family?

HK: I didn’t make a conscious decision to write about a mob family. It was one of those plots that chose me. 

MW: Ah, I'm finding those are the best plots to write. They always seem to suck me in as a writer. 

This saga covers a long period of time in Holly's life. Why did you choose to start with her so young?

HK: When I started Always Cambridge, I wanted it to be one of those, I loved him forever kind of love stories. But Always Cambridge began life as a standalone story, and you know what they say about the best laid plots. Once I got to what I thought was THE END, I found out it was only the beginning. I’d go to bed at night and more and more of the story would be revealed to me. This saga has taken me on a journey of a lifetime as a writer. It has been a honour to tell Holly’s story. 

MW: I'm so glad this story took hold and you wrote it and put it out there for all of us to enjoy. I really loved meeting Holly, and can't wait to see what happens in her life next.

The mob is a big part of this book, at the very least in the way it effects Holly and her decisions in life. What special research did you have to do about the mob to make it so realistic feeling?

HK: I didn’t really do much research on the mob part of the story at all. I guess whatever I knew about how the mob works came from other books, the Godfather and Goodfellas. :D 

But truly, this story poured out and told itself. I did more research for Running, Book Two, and also installment five (for very different reasons) but I don’t want to give too much away.

MW: You are so great with the teasers- even in the answers to questions. I can't wait to see what you had to research for books 2 and 5!

Speaking of teasers, there's a part in Always Cambridge where Randy is injured. Will we ever learn what really happened there?

HK: Readers will find out who was behind the attack on Randy, but not really too much about the specifics of the beating itself, only the aftermath.

MW: In another section, Patrick mentioned Randy having special training. Will we have long to wait to learn about that?

HK: The training will be revealed in the next installments, Running and Misfortune of Birth

MW: Some authors have problems killing off characters, even when it makes sense in the storyline. Was it hard for you to kill off some of your characters?

HK: The deaths in book one were not difficult for me as an author because I wasn’t really attached to them. But I also thought for the authenticity of the mob life, it had to be believable and violence and death is a part of it. But some of the decisions that come later in the series were rough but that’s all I’m saying for now.

MW: The loss Holly felt brought tears to my eyes. I'm sure I'll be shedding a few more in future books based on that answer!

OK, I have to confess that when I started reading I really wanted Holly and Randy to make it as a couple (once she was older and the age difference wouldn't mean so much). But then I met Victor and I wondered what the two would be like together. Do you have a preferred love interest for Holly? And if so, who?

HK: I do have a preference. But I’d rather not reveal that right now.

MW: Guess I'll have to wheedle that out of you another time!

If you love coming of age tales, the mob, or a root for the underdog story, be sure to check out this saga. I'm sure you won't be disappointed!

Book Blurb:
He is her guardian, but she'll do anything within her power, to protect him.

His only duty is to keep her safe, but he can’t save her.

Holly Cambridge is just a typical kid, or so she thinks, until one day, she takes a good look around and realizes her friends don’t have bodyguards dogging their every step.

At the age of sixteen, Holly is assigned a new bodyguard, Randy Phillips. He is a tall, muscular, God-like force in the young, impressionable and lonely girl’s life. He is her friend, her confident, her conscience, and the older man she adores beyond reason.

Randy Phillips is fully aware of his young charge’s adolescent crush on him. Although he is flattered by the adulation, he maintains a safe distance and professional demeanour until Holly is wounded in a rival family blood feud, and the course of both their lives is changed forever.

Book Links:
Barnes and Noble

About the Author:
H K Carlton is a multi-published Canadian author of romance and it’s varied sub-genres, including contemporary, paranormal, historical, family saga and erotica.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Blog Hop and Serials

Kim Cresswell asked me if I'd participate in a blog tour with only 4 questions to answer, so of course I said, sure thing! Thanks, Kim!!

Please be sure to go HERE to read her answers (and check out her amazing thrillers!) Thanks to Laurel O’Donnell who started this weeks ago.

1) What am I working on?
Believe it or not, all the projects I thought I would be working on are on hold as I play with something brand new- a serial. At the end of X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, a few names in the credits jumped out at me, so I jotted them on a note in my phone. Then came the little teaser at the very end with Apocalypse and the Four Horsemen, and my mind was off and running with characters and ideas. First, I thought I might try a four book series, but the more I thought about it and played with it, the more I realized this would be the perfect idea to try a serial with.

While there are several storylines I want to explore, the basic idea is this:

Every century, the apocalypse looms. Keeping the humans safe is the job of four siblings- the four horsemen. To prevent the apocalypse, these four must accomplish special tasks. Given that they are Nephilim it should be easy. But, they have an enemy, the Rephaim, who want the apocalypse to come. Will the brothers and sister be successful this time?

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Being new to the world of serials, I'm not entirely sure yet how this will be different, other than the obvious "because I wrote it and someone else didn't".

Serials are daily/weekly/bi-monthly/monthly installments of a story. How frequently they are released depends on the author. In a way, they are kind of like comics, manga, anime, or weekly television shows.The length of each episode as well as how many episodes are in a season varies from author to author.

Right now, I'm not far enough into my idea to know how often I'll be releasing episodes, but I'd like to aim for at least bi-monthly.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I am really led by the character that jumps out at me and demand I tell their story. And, as you can see from above, sometimes they come from odd places: a name, a picture, an event. Any one of these things can set my muse off, and I'm along for the ride as my mind plots and plans and tosses ideas around.

4) How does your writing process work?

I'm normally a pantster, which from what I've read is a great way to approach writing a serial. Ironically, this is the time my mind wants to plan a bit more- to see how to lay things out, where to set the clues, how to structure each episode to entice the reader back for more. So, I've been researching story and plot arcs, screen writing structure, and a whole bunch of other things I need to know about to be realistic with the story I want to tell.

Now that I'm more familiar with the style, I am ready to sit and write and see where the story takes me.

Here's the part where I'm supposed to tell you who to go visit next week, except, I forgot to set that up. So, if you want to be tagged, let me know in the comments (with a link to your blog) and I'll update this post to reflect that. (And, unlike The Highlander, there can be more than one!)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cover Reveal: UNTAINTED by Sarah Robinson

Today I am excited to be part of the cover reveal for Sarah Robinson's UNTAINTED. Doesn't this sound like an amazing read?

Derrick Kane just walked in on a scene that will drastically alter his life forever, thanks to the work of the infamous serial killer, The Photographer. Someone is dead, someone is missing. Kate Jackson, the love of his life and his fiancé, is one of those two.

Unwilling to wait for the slow pace of the detectives at the crime scene, Derrick must work with Kate’s sister, Annie Jackson, to find the clues that will lead them to the answers they so desperately need. 

Will these two catch The Photographer? Can they bring a broken family back together? Will Kate and Derrick ever be able to have their happily ever after? 

Find the answer to all these questions and more in the final installment of The Photographer Trilogy.

NOTE: Due to violent and dark subject matter, this book is intended for readers over the age of 18 years old.

Sarah Robinson is the four-time Amazon Bestselling Romance and Crime Thriller Author of Sand & Clay, Logan’s Story, Tainted Bodies, and Tainted Pictures. Her very popular trilogy, The Photographer Trilogy, includes Tainted Bodies, Tainted Pictures, and the not yet released Untainted. Her latest publications include Sand & Clay and Logan’s Story, both in the Sand & Clay Series. All of her novels have reached Amazon’s Bestseller Rank in Crime, Crime, Thriller, Contemporary Romance, and/or Romantic Suspense. She also has a very large social media following, including over ten thousand
Facebook fans.

Her writing often concentrates on the complexity of love in emotions,
combining psychological complexities and human flaws to create very real characters that readers can relate with. Her work focuses on redemption and forgiveness, learning to build on what has been broken. Her characters are often in conflicting situations, leaving the reader to decide what is right and what is wrong. She uses her stories to hold a mirror up to the reader and ask them to see things they never knew, or had forgotten, about themselves.

Sarah Robinson is a native of the Washington, DC area and has both her Bachelors and Masters Degrees in criminal psychology. She is newly married to her soul mate, Justin, who is just as much of an animal rescue enthusiasts as she is.  Together, they own a zoo of rescues including 2 dogs, 7 cats, and 5 turtles, as well as volunteering and fostering for multiple animal shelters. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

How Authors Write- Susan Bernhardt

Today I'm excited to host fellow MuseItUp author Susan Bernhardt. Welcome Susan!

Thank you, Mary for giving me the opportunity to be on your blog today. 

Happy to have you come and visit. So, tell us a bit about what you write.

I write cozy mysteries. I am the author of The Ginseng Conspiracy which was published this year by MuseItUp Publishing. It is the first in the Kay Driscoll Mystery series. The second novel in this series, Murder Under the Tree has been accepted and will be out in autumn of this year. I am presently writing the third cozy.

Do you use 1st person, 3rd person, multiple POVs?
I write in first person, past tense.

How did you get started with your book- was it an idea, a character?
First I came up with the idea of writing about ginseng. Ninety-five percent of American cultivated ginseng is grown in Wisconsin where I live. Living close to a college, I decided that a professor who was researching the local ginseng crop, would discover some alarming findings in the analysis of the ginseng samples resulting in his murder. [I had no idea ginseng was grown in Wisconsin. I always thought they did cheese there :-) What a great setting for a murder mystery!]

Do you draft quickly or are you more detailed in your draft?
I wrote the draft for The Ginseng Conspiracy using free writing. I sat down and wrote it from start to finish. It was probably about fifty pages long and took a couple of weeks. At the time, I wrote anything and everything I could think of for the story. Then it took years of revision to change it into a 300+ page manuscript.

I've done this with each of my novels, first getting the story down or what I think is the story at that time. It always changes. I don't worry about making it detailed, or having it be in perfect English. I just want to put the story down on paper. Something that I can revise. My goal is to write one novel in a year and that is when I am writing almost daily. [Great point- that first draft doesn't have to be perfect, you can always edit it once it's down, but if you don't get it down, there's nothing to edit!]

Do you do research before your first draft, during?
I don't do any research until after the first draft is complete. When writing a first draft, I'll make notes to myself in capital letters along the way as to what needs to be done or researched later in a revision, etc. But the first draft is all raw material, my gut feeling about everything.

Do you outline?
I don't outline. I have a timeline, in that each chapter in my novels are a day. [That's a neat tool, too!]

Do you name everything up front when you are drafting or do you leave comments for yourself to go back and fill in later so you don't lose the flow of what you are working on?
I usually have a name ready for many things, the characters etc., but I can always change anything. The whole idea of my writing a draft is to get everything down loosely on paper. I don't want to stop and do research, etc. I want to get the story down. Details can come later. [Great reminder!]

Do you work with CP's or Beta's? How soon into your draft do you let them see your work?
With The Ginseng Conspiracy, after I went through five revisions, I then gave my manuscript to two editors, my son and a friend. Then the novel went through additional revisions before submitting the manuscript to MuseItUp Publishing.

What books/websites have you found most helpful to helping you write your best?
When I decided to indeed write a cozy mystery series, I took several writing courses over two years and joined writing groups. I've read numerous books on how to write over the years and the one that comes to mind is "Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel" by Hallie Ephron. I usually get my "how to" writing books from the library and this one was so good, that I bought it. [I've read a few from the library too, and bought ones that I wanted to refer back to.]

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing?
Probably If I had known how much time it took to do marketing, I may never have started writing. Just kidding! Right now I can't think of anything that I would rather do, then to write, outside of travelling, being with family and friends.

What do you have out now, or coming out? Any upcoming events? A website we can find you and your books at? An author photo? A booktrailer? Anything else you want to share?
The Ginseng Conspiracy is out. My second cozy in this Kay Driscoll Mystery series Murder Under the Tree will be published this autumn 2014. I am currently writing the third cozy in the series.

Book Blurb:
On her way to attend a Halloween Ball, Kay Driscoll, a newcomer to town, witnesses the murder of a local professor. When the official coroner's report rules the cause of death to be accidental and the community accepts the judgement, Kay decides to uncover the truth for herself. Through her personal investigations, Kay exposes a complex conspiracy, woven deep within the thriving local ginseng industry, that involves some of the more prominent figures and families of Sudbury Falls.

With her new friends, the free-spirited herbalist Deirdre and the untamed modern woman Elizabeth, Kay discusses new clues over tea and pastries at Sweet Marissa's Patisserie, their crime-fighting headquarters. As Kay gets closer to the heart of the conspiracy, additional murders happen in quick succession. Before long, Kay learns that the villains are gunning for her, too. Phil, her musically talented but preoccupied husband, determined to keep her safe, withholds from her the one thing she needs most: the truth.

Purchase Information:
The Ginseng Conspiracy by Susan Bernhardt can be purchased at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, MuseItUp PublishingiTunes, Kobo.

You can find Susan here:

Thursday, June 12, 2014

How Authors Write- Jen McConnel

Today I'm excited to welcome Jen McConnel to the blog. I met Jen through BookFish Books when she signed up to help us spread the word about our upcoming releases. If you don't follow her already, you can find her blog HERE.

Now, a little about Jen.

Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. A graduate of Western Michigan University, she also holds a MS in Library Science from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. When she isn't crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches college writing composition and yoga. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time. 

Visit to learn more.

Welcome,  Jen. Please tell us what you write.
I write Young Adult and New Adult fiction, and I also write a bit of nonfiction. My YA tends to be paranormal, while my NA is mostly contemporary. [I love paranormal!]

Do you use 1st person, 3rd person, multiple POVs?
It depends on the story, although I’m most comfortable writing in 1st person. In BEAUTIFUL CURSE, my upcoming YA retelling of Cupid and Psyche, I went from 3rd person on the first draft to 1st person, which is the first (and hopefully only) time I’ve ever made a complete change like that in the middle of a project. My NA series, Isobel Key, is written in 3rd person, and I’ve learned that every project will be different. Flexibility and trusting the story is key! [So true! I never know what POV I'll be in until I start writing, and like you, have switched in the middle of a project because the voice felt wrong in the POV I was in.]

How do you get started with a book- is it an idea, a character, vary from story to story?
Sometimes, it’s the character, while other times it’s an image or an idea that I can’t quite let go of. I’ve found that even when I get an idea for a fun story or a character I’d like to explore, that doesn’t always translate to writing it down immediately. Some ideas need a longer gestation period, while others seem to spring into my mind Athena-like, nearly fully formed. It’s never boring, that’s for sure! [I totally get this. I let my mind play out story lines with the characters until I find something that gels. Not always, but usually ;-)]

Do you draft quickly or are you more detailed in your draft?
Yes. I’m a sloppy, speedy drafter (I love both Anne Lamott and NaNoWriMo), and if I’ve got enough caffeine, I can pound out the first draft of a book in one to two months. My revision process is picky and precise, however, so it usually takes me at least a year before a book is “done”. [Nice! I'm working at learning to draft quicker and a bit cleaner so my revisions don't look like completely different tales.]

Do you do research before your first draft, during?
I try not to slow down my drafting with research, although for some stories (like the Isobel Key series), I couldn’t help it. If I don’t complete the research before I start drafting, I’ll try to wait until I have the rough bones of the story down before I fall down any rabbit holes, but again, each story is different, and I’ve learned not to get stuck in my process. [This is a great piece of advice. Not every story is approached the same way, and we do need to be flexible about this.]

Do you outline? How?
Not in the traditional sense; I tend to be a pantser when it comes to drafting, but once the first draft is done, then I’ll often outline to see where my story peaks and falls. When I’m writing YA paranormal, I’ll take this opportunity to apply Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey to the plot, which helps me clarify areas that still need work or components that are missing. It’s a messy, wonderful process, but the analytical part of me really enjoys some structured outlining...after I get the story down. [Hmm. I've never heard of the Hero Journey before. Jotting down notes here.]

Do you name everything up front when you are drafting or do you leave comments for yourself to go back and fill in later so you don't lose the flow of what you are working on?
I tend to write straight through, and that means there’s a lot of filling in that comes in the later drafts. For the first draft, though, I just let the flow of the story take me, and I don’t make notes to myself in the text at this stage.

Do you work with CP's or Beta's? How soon into your draft do you let them see your work?
Yes! My CPs and Betas are amazing, and I’m so thankful to have their support (and their eyes). I usually wait to send the draft out to anyone until I’ve finished the first draft and gone through at least one round of revisions (sometimes more). I wait until I feel solid about the story and the world before sending it out (which means some projects have still never had anybody’s eyes but mine on them). [I don't know what I'd do without my CP's and Beta's either!]

What books/websites have you found most helpful to helping you write your best?
I love Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD, and Stephen King’s ON WRITING is a fabulous resource, too. I’m always looking for writing resources and memoirs, and I think reading about writing and connecting with other writers is a powerful part of the creative process.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing?
I wish I’d realized how much more there is to being an author than just writing. The writing (and even the revising) are the fun parts, but making this my career has been a lot of work, and sometimes I get bogged down with all the “other” parts of it. As long as I keep coming back to the writing, however, I’m happy and whole.

What do you have out now, or coming out? Any upcoming events? A website we can find you and your books at? An author photo? A booktrailer? Anything else you want to share?
I’ve got a busy year ahead of me! The sequel to ISOBEL KEY, HER SECRET INHERITANCE, just released this June from Bloomsbury Spark. I’m also working on the rest of the RED MAGIC series, my YA paranormal trilogy from Month9Books that kicked off with DAUGHTER OF CHAOS in March, and I’m also gearing up for the release of BEAUTIFUL CURSE, a YA retelling of Cupid and Psyche, coming in December from Swoon Romance. So many books; I’m so happy to keep doing what I love! [That is a busy year.]


Lou is in the middle of a quarter-life crisis. Fresh out of college, she’s unemployed and unsure of herself. But when she gets the chance to escape to Scotland with her best friend, it could be the answer to her quest for self-discovery. The trip is not at all what she expected, especially when her tour guide turns out to be the dreamy historian Brian, and together they embark on a hunt for information about Isobel Key, a woman accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century.

They set out to learn the truth of the condemned witch, but Lou isn’t prepared for the knowledge that awaits her. She must face her own demons if she has any hope of righting the wrongs of the past.

Flashing between seventeenth century Scotland and a contemporary romance, THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY is a mystery that will please readers of all ages.

Learn More
Bloomsbury | Website| Goodreads | Bloomsbury Spark |

Amazon | B&N | Google | iTunes | Kobo | Audible |


Five years after the trip to Scotland that changed her life, Lou is back in the misty, magical country. But this time, she’s not on vacation.

When Brian, her old Highland fling, turns up at the scene of some depressing family business, tension mounts between the former lovers. But dealing with Brian is only part of the problem; something wicked is stirring in Scotland. Lou must use all her strength to handle the increasingly desperate situation, but will she be strong enough to battle both a vengeful ghost and her heart?

Lou may have thought that she was finished with the witch Isobel Key, but some secrets can’t stay buried forever.

Learn More

Bloomsbury | Website| Goodreads | Bloomsbury Spark |


Amazon | B&N | Kobo |

Connect With Jen

| Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Facebook | Blog | Website |

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

SILO by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie

Today I'm playing Fairy Godauthor over at Melissa Petreshock's blog. Be sure to head over there after you read this AWESOME announcement from my amazing CP, Trisha Leaver and her co-author Lindsay Currie.

With the release date of CREED rapidly approaching, Lindsay and I have been fielding questions about what our co-authored voice sounds like, how psychologically twisted our collective mind is, and do I need to read all of your co-authored pieces with the lights on?

Rather than simply answer those questions, we thought we’d take it one step further and actually show you! We toyed with writing a prequel-type novella to set the stage for CREED, but you know us…why write a novella to CREED when you can give them an entirely different book to enjoy!

After much discussion with our agents and an enthusiastic ‘go for it’ from our publisher, we have decided to utilize Wattpad to give the world a sneak peek at what they can expect from our co-authored voice. So here it is, a new, psychologically twisted, co-authored YA Thriller.

“The darkness would’ve scared me years ago, but not anymore—if you couldn’t see it, then you didn’t know it was there to be afraid of.”
~Jake Holloway, SILO

Starting today, we will be sharing a chapter a week of our co-authored book, SILO, on Wattpad for the world to enjoy, hate, question our sanity, run screaming from… The last chapter of the book will drop the week of November 8th, the same week CREED releases!

So, go forth and be appropriately frightened as you realize just what our twisted minds of capable of. Spread the word, leave a comment on Wattpad or simply enjoy the book in the dark confines of your own home.

Link to SILO on Wattpad:

Trust me- you do not want to miss out on this read!!!

Trisha Leaver lives on Cape Cod with her husband, three children, and one rather irreverent dog. Her co-authored, YA Psychological Horror drops November 8, 2014 from FLUX. Her solo YA Contemporary, THE SECRETS WE KEEP, releases April, 28th 2015 from FSG/ Macmillan

Lindsay lives in Chicago, Illinois with one incredibly patient hubby, three amazing kids and one adorable, but irreverent Bullmastiff named Sam. She graduated from Knox College in the heart of the Midwest and has been writing for as long as she can remember.

Today, Lindsay is an author, as well as a freelance editor for young adult, new adult and middle grade fiction. She is a proud member of SCBWI, The YA Scream Queens and OneFourKidLit.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Kai Strand Talks Balance

Today I'm visiting with my friend and CP Trisha Leaver and with Becky Wallace while Kai Strand stops by here to visit. So, once you've finished reading Kai's awesome guest post, swing by Trisha's blog and see what I really think about my CP's, and stop by Becky's Blog to hear my take on Small Presses vs Self Publishing. Take it away, Kai!!

All About Balance by Kai Strand

Balance- noun 1. state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc. 

In general, people strive for a sense of balance in their lives. Though it is great when the good outweighs the bad, ideally we hope for at least balance.

But there is a hidden danger in balance. Let’s imagine a teeter-totter, one large enough that when sitting on it you can’t reach the ground, unless you are the heavier occupant. What happens when you and the person on the other side weigh the same? You’ll sit, neither teetering nor tottering. Equal and stagnant.

Now let’s pretend you are a super hero and the other occupant is a super villain and you are balanced. Again, it seems like this should be a good situation, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want heroes and villains to suddenly have equal parts good and bad in them?

What happens when those supers are sitting – perfectly balanced on their teeter-totter and someone gets kidnapped? Hmmm…it seems neither of them care to do anything about it but to sit – perfectly balance on their teeter-totter.

Uh oh, this might be a problem. Find out exactly how big a problem in POLAR OPPOSITES: Super Villain Academy Bk 2

NOW: play along. I’m surveying readers to find out Hero or Villain? 

Your turn. Take the survey!

Visit my YouTube channel to see other Supers on the Streets videos. Share your favorites.

Sign up for my newsletter. (Hint: Soon I’ll be having a special giveaway for newsletter subscribers only. The more subscribers, the better the giveaway!)

The supers are balanced. All’s well in the super world. Right? When dogs drag Oceanus away, Jeff learns the supers are so balanced, they no longer care to get involved. The only one who seems to care is Oci’s ex-villain, ex-boyfriend, Set. With Jeff’s own powers unbalanced and spiraling out of control, he wonders if they will find Oci before he looses control completely, and if they’ll find her alive.

Polar Opposites: Super Villain Academy, Book 2 available now:


Barnes & Noble

Whiskey Creek Press

Add on Goodreads

Need to catch up? Here is where you can pick up your copy of King of Bad: Super Villain Academy, Book 1 

About the author:

When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and short stories for the younger ones, Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Learn more about Kai and her books on her website,

Monday, June 9, 2014

**UPDATE 2** THE MYSTERY PRINCE is available

The Mystery Prince is now available for purchase at Amazon. You can find it HERE if you're interested in checking it out.

I'll be bopping around the blogosphere this week talking about my choice to self-publish, sharing random facts about the novella, and lots of other things.

I'll be updating this post today once the links go live!!

**Morning Update**

I'm over at Katie Carroll's blog talking about twisting fairy tales.
At Zara Hoffman's blog I share my path to publication.

**Afternoon Update**

I'm doing a Q&A with Suzanne de Montigny

Michael di Gesu writes an intriguing introduction for The Mystery Prince.

Kai Strand share her review here.

Friday, June 6, 2014


The Mystery Prince
Chapter One

Of all the times for the prince to become ill.

Tristan pulled at the silk cloth looped around his neck, loosening the tightly wrapped cravat, and gulped a breath of air. With a curse, he tore the neck cloth off and retied it, yet the sense of choking still plagued him as he paced the unfamiliar guest room in Astrella.

“This isn't going to work, Nor.”

“Now, Tristan, everything will be fine,” the old man said, his silver eyes twinkling under gray brows.

“Fine? How can impersonating the prince be fine? What if I'm discovered?”

This masquerade was a fool's errand. Though his sandy-blond hair, sea-green eyes, and lanky body vaguely resembled Prince Rand's, Tristan refused to believe he could pass for the royal heir.

Rand possessed dance expertise and etiquette techniques Tristan could never hope to mimic. Not that he didn't know the skills. As the prince's bodyguard, the king demanded Tristan possess these abilities. In fact, he had studied with the prince as a child. And since being appointed to his post last year, he'd spent months observing Rand in a variety of social settings in an effort to hone his decorum further. Even so, no one would mistake him for Rand.

“You worry too much. Besides, the king has given his blessing.”

Nor looked up from the contraption he tinkered with and rubbed a hand over his neatly trimmed beard. Short and stocky, with pin-straight gray hair that fell to his shoulders, Nor brought to mind a dwarf. Not that Tristan would ever tell him so.

An inventor, Nor always toyed with strange items that did fantastical things. He'd tried to pass his love for these oddities on to both Rand and Tristan as they spent time with him in lieu of punishment, but neither boy showed interest in creating new gadgets and proved more a hindrance than a help.

Tristan's lips twisted into a smirk. “When I was younger you said I didn't worry enough.”

The old man laughed, the sound rumbling around the room like rocks tumbling down the mountainside. “True. From one extreme to the other. You need to find the happy medium.”

Sighing, Tristan stared at the king's adviser, waiting for him to come up with a plan to extricate them from this mess like he had all the other times Rand put Tristan into a questionable predicament.

The first day they met, Nor saved Tristan from a certain beating. Rand had wanted to hunt in the woods and had ordered Tristan to take his place in his afternoon studies. Tristan balked at the idea, worried for the prince's safety, but Rand just laughed his concern away. Begrudgingly, Tristan agreed to switch places and headed off to the workroom. He thought the guards would realize he impersonated Rand, but they just walked beside him without saying a word.

Tristan had stepped through the door and stopped, giving his eyes a moment to adjust to the dimness of the room. In that moment, Nor looked up, and instantly knew he wasn't the prince.

Guards searched the woods for Prince Rand. After his safe return, both boys were brought before King Rolf. Rather than the twenty lashes of the whip Tristan expected, the king ordered them to assist Nor with his contraptions as penance for their deed.

Ever since that escapade, Tristan never traded places with the prince again without talking to Nor first. And Rand wanted to trade places often, to head in the opposite direction from where his father wanted him. But Tristan always refused. Just as Nor said.

Until tonight.

Not that he had much choice given the king's order, but he questioned Nor's ready acceptance of it. Tristan wondered if the old man had a trinket or device to get him through the evening with his true identity concealed. One tiny slip up could land him in the dungeons. King Rolf's orders may be acceptable in Merlette, but in Astrella, the dungeon would be the least of his worries if caught impersonating a royal.

“How am I going to keep from being discovered? If they look too closely it will be evident I am not Rand.”

“You'll be wearing a mask, and the fact that your mannerisms are slightly off from Prince Rand's will only work to our advantage. The purpose of the masquerade is to make people wonder who's behind the mask.” Nor chuckled. “It's no fun when they guess correctly the first time.”

Tristan clenched and unclenched his hand, his thoughts churning. If only Prince Rand hadn't come down with a fever, Tristan would be worrying about familiar matters like keeping the prince safe. Instead, King Rolf insisted he stand in for Rand, knowing this subterfuge was the only chance to form an alliance between the kingdoms of Astrella and Merlette.

Having no choice but to accept the order phrased as a request, Tristan acquiesced. He couldn't say no, not if he wanted to live in the manner to which he'd become accustomed. No, he had to stand in for Rand, to ensure the princess considered Merlette in her choices.

Praying his ruse wouldn't be discovered, Tristan tied his mask in place. His stomach roiled more than last summer when his and Rand’s sailing vessel became caught in a fierce storm. Yet another time Rand's wild ideas led to danger, followed by weeks spent being Nor's lackey. Hopefully things would turn out different this time, as the king ordered the deception and not Rand.


“Perfect. Just one more thing.” Nor pulled something out of his pocket and held it out to Tristan. “Take this with you.”

Tristan took hold of the strange gold object. At first glance it reminded him of a compass with an intricate yet beautiful windrose drawn inside. Letters drawn in calligraphy marked the four points of the earth, their curlicues twisting into delicate flowers and hearts. A gold filigree sundial flowed upward from the center of the compass rose, more hearts and flowers twisting their way through the delicate metal lace. Two heart shaped knobs jutted from the sides. It was quite lovely and not likely one of Nor's creations. The craftsmanship seemed too complicated and feminine for one of the old man's devices.

“What's this?” Tristan asked, spinning one of the knobs.

A smile curved the old man's lips, creating creases in his cheeks. “A navigation device.”

Brows drawn together, Tristan looked from the golden object to the old man. “I'm going to be dancing in a ballroom, not traversing the seas or the plains. Why would I need this?” He spun the knob again. His lips twitched, and his eyes glittered with mirth as an idea formed. “I know. It will navigate me through the dance without injuring the princess.”

The old man shook his head, a chuckle rumbling out. “No, it won't help your dancing, but you will need it.” He grew serious, his tone low and gruff. “Listen to your heart. You'll know when to use the device.”

Tristan tucked the warm golden gadget into his pocket.

“Good luck, Your Highness.” Nor's eyes sparkled with merriment, and a wide smile curved his lips. “Our people are counting on you.”

With a regal nod worthy of Rand, Tristan left the room and headed down the sweeping staircase to the overcrowded ballroom. He wondered how anyone could move in the crush of people spanning from wall to wall. Men, in formal black, twirled women in brightly colored gowns, the patterns shifting across the room like bits of worn glass turning in a kaleidoscope. Clearly King Aleksander hadn't just invited princes to the ball, but their parents and siblings and other nobles as well.

A queue of almost twenty eligible bachelors twisted and turned around the edges of the dance floor where the rest of their entourages danced. Tristan scanned the crowd as he took up his place at the end of the line. After spending hours studying the princes of the neighboring realms, and their guards, he could easily identify each person waiting with him. He could also name every dignitary standing, sitting, and dancing in the main ballroom. After all, his job required him to know everyone Prince Rand would come in contact with.

Of the nine kingdoms, Astrella had no prince, and Merlette had only Rand. The remaining kingdoms had at minimum two princes and at maximum four. More than enough for Princess Zoe to choose from.

Tristan's gaze drifted up the line to where a herald stood waiting to escort each suitor over for his dance with the princess. A familiar black-haired man waited at the front. From the stiff, ramrod like stance and the occasional twitch of his left shoulder, he easily recognized Prince Tynen of Durna.

Following the servant to the private dance floor, Tynen bowed to the princess before sweeping her into his arms and spinning her around in a complicated dance that fit the lively tune.

Princess Zoe easily kept pace with the quick steps of the dance. Blonde hair, so pale it looked almost white, flared as she spun round and round, guided by Tynen's hand. She appeared fragile and delicate, bringing Tristan's protective instincts to life.

Unlike the other revelers, she wore no mask. A simple disguise could never hide the princess' identity, not with hair like hers. No one in the nine kingdoms had locks as fair. Nor did any have eyes like hers—aquamarines bathed in sunlight.

The tune ended and Prince Tynen bowed before walking over to the main ballroom where his entourage awaited him. Tristan trudged forward with the rest of the princes and sighed, wishing Rand were here, preferring to observe from the outskirts. Instead, he found himself being drawn in to small talk with men he really didn't care for as they watched and waited for their turn with the princess.

The line couldn't move fast enough for him.

When the music ended, the herald escorted the next prince over, and the cycle began again. Each dance with the princess lasted no more than fifteen minutes, hardly enough time to learn about anyone. Yet, it appeared the princess didn't need more time to make her choice. Tristan could tell by her stance she'd dismissed each partner before the dance ended. Somehow, the scant minutes she'd spent dancing revealed enough for her to check something off her list, making the man ineligible.

He shook his head, wondering what her reasons could be. Too short? Too tall? Too young? Too old? Too poor?

Tristan knew enough about each prince to dismiss them all as suitors for reasons having nothing to do with looks, age, or wealth. Tynen gambled too much and would be a weak ruler. Brandon had two mistresses, and rumors abounded that he sought a third. Jarod drank too much. Even Rand had faults, foremost his recklessness. Tristan wondered how King Aleksander could consider any of these men worthy of his daughter's hand.

Princess Zoe exchanged partners again, and Tristan shuffled forward once more. To him, this entire process seemed an odd way to select a husband. Rand had tried to explain it, but Tristan still didn't understand. How could it only take a few moments of a dance to find true love?

Tired of thinking of the men surrounding him, Tristan let his knowledge of the princess tumble through his mind. An only child, Princess Zoe lived a pampered life. Anything she wanted, her father supplied. In the last month alone, she'd ordered enough clothing to outfit an entire kingdom several times over.

His gaze drifted to her, watching as she danced, studying her for subtle things his reports couldn't reveal. The way her skin glowed in the candlelight. How her mouth curved so easily into a smile. The delicate chime of her laugh as she twirled across the floor.

With each dance, her smile dimmed a little more, and her steps slowed. It amazed him that none of the other men noticed she needed a break. Even the herald seemed ignorant of her growing distress.

The longer he watched, the more she tugged at his heart. He couldn't explain the urge to protect her at all costs, to have her smile only for him. The mere presence of Princess Zoe clouded his judgment, making him long for impossibilities. But his duty to the king did not make him a prince—something he needed to remember.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Obstacles, deceptions, and lies, oh my!

As with any romantic tale, obstacles lay in the path of the hero and heroine. Some are easily overcome, others, like deception, aren't as easy to forgive, as Trevor learns in this exchange with Zoe.


Tristan stopped and faced her. “Was there something you needed?”

“Yes.” She walked over and closed the door. 
“I'd like to speak with you in private.” 

“Your Highness, this is highly improper.”

An amused chuckle bubbled around him. “About as improper as our time spent in the gardens last night.”

“You were chaperoned.”

“True, but if they'd known you weren't a prince, things would have gone differently.”

Ashamed, Tristan hung his head. “I apologize, but I was only following my orders.”

A perfectly arched brow rose. “You were given orders to deceive me? To what end?”

“No. I mean…” Tristan ran a hand through his hair and tugged on the ends, hoping the pain would help him form a coherent thought. “I was asked to stand in for Prince Rand, as he was ill, so Merlette would still be considered among your choice for husband. No harm was meant by my actions.”

“No harm? I believed you to be a prince. A man I could ask to stand at my side for the rest of my life. A man to rule my people with me. And now I learn that not only are you not a prince, you aren't even a titled lord.”

Tristan's heart pounded in his chest, and each breath pained him. Tears glistened on her dark lashes. A single drop broke free, trailing down her pale cheek. Closing his eyes, hands clenched into fists, he forced himself not to reach out and brush away the tear, or worse, pull Zoe into his arms to comfort her.

“I didn't mean to hurt you.” He looked at her then. “I swear it. I didn't know―”

“You didn't know what?” Aquamarine eyes flashed as she cut him off.

A quiet sigh preceded his whispered, “I didn't know I could fall in love with someone in so short a time.”


Tristan enjoys being in the shadows as Prince Rand's bodyguard. Similar in looks, the two often exchanged places in their youth, but he never expected the king to order him to impersonate the heir to the throne in order to win the hand of a princess. 

Princess Zoe needs to find a husband. After a year of searching with no success, her father insists on hosting a masquerade ball for the eligible princes of the nine kingdoms. Not one prince piques her interest, until she meets the mysterious stranger who won't tell her his name.

When Tristan meets Zoe he finds the girl of his dreams. The only problem? She's a princess and he's impersonating a prince―a crime punishable by imprisonment and floggings.

Unable to tell Zoe his real name, he gives her a special navigation device. One that leads to the owner's true love. Will this magic device lead Zoe to Tristan, or will her true love forever remain a mystery prince?