Friday, October 30, 2015

New Release Alert: Witch Angel The Sceptre of Truth by Karen King - Author Q & A + Excerpt

New release, perfect for Halloween :) Witch Angel The Sceptre of Truth by Karen King.

Q & A with Karen King

How did you get started writing?
I've always written. I had my first poem published when I was 11. I started my writing career with Jackie magazine, writing articles and photo stories.

Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?
It depends whether I'm writing to a commission or not. If I'm commissioned I have to plot as I have to send a synopsis and the first couple of chapters to my editor. If I'm not writing to a commission I work out the basic outline of my story then write 'by the seat of my pants.'

Are you most productive in the morning or evening?
Morning. Often I get out of bed and start writing straight away. I'm full of ideas in the morning.

Witch Angel
The Sceptre of Truth

Karen King

YA Fantasy
Clean Reads
October 27, 2015

Should Aluna betray her father to save the world?

Aluna’s father is the Master Wizard of the Katalan. On her thirteenth birthday she is initiated into the coven and swears allegiance to her clan. Then she has a vision about the mother she has never known and a gold sceptre with an eagle’s head handle.

She discovers that the mysterious new girl, Raffie, who appeared out of nowhere is looking for the same sceptre. Aluna hopes the sceptre will lead her to her mother so swears an oath of friendship with Raffie, pledging to find it together only to discover that Raffie is Angleyt. They are sworn enemies.

Aluna’s father is looking for the sceptre too, as are the evil Bygnorim.  Will Aluna really betray her father? What dreadful secret is he hiding about her mother? Aluna and Raffie face terrible danger in their quest. Are their combined powers strong enough or will Darke Magyck win?


Outside, the moon shone brightly in an almost starless sky. The incense was already burning, and a cauldron of herbs was bubbling away near the altar. Aluna could smell the bitter aroma of the mudreef. The circle hadn’t been drawn yet, her father wouldn’t do that until the coven were all standing together. Witches, dressed in black, and wizards with their brightly coloured gowns of purple, red, and blue were already gathering for the ceremony. Sometimes, two or more would be initiated at the same time, but tonight there was only Aluna. The daughter of the Master Wizard had to have her own ceremony.

Aluna recited the oath and spells under her breath as everyone gathered together and held hands, forming a circle around her. Mirassa, the head witch, dipped a goblet in the bubbling liquid, leaving it on the altar stone to cool.

Aluna’s father picked up the white chalk and drew a circle around them all before stepping inside and closing it. 

“A circle around us to bind us together,

Let no one break it or be banished forever.” 

They all repeated the oath. Her father said a loyalty spell over the goblet, took a sip of the herbal drink and passed it to Aluna. She braced herself for the sour taste of the mudreef and swallowed quickly. Her throat burned and she wished she’d been able to find the sweeter tasting fissleshoot.  

The goblet was passed around the rest of the group so they could all take a sip. The ritual bound them all together. If anyone left or betrayed the coven, then no Katalan would ever speak to them again. 

When you joined, you joined for life.

Aluna’s father called her forward to test her on her spells. First, the three most important spells: the protection, the prevention, and the returning spell—spells to protect you from harm, to stop bad magic, and to help you get back home. Other spells followed: the lost and found spell, the vanishing spell, and the shrinking spell. Aluna remembered them all. Although her father’s face was solemn, she knew from the look in his eyes that she had pleased him. 

Now, it was time for the oath. The coven fell silent as Aluna’s father held out his left hand. Aluna linked the little finger on her left hand with his as she repeated the oath:  

“Earth, water, air, and fire,

This oath I solemnly swear,

Joining this coven is my desire

I never will its secrets share.” 

Mirassa stepped forward, holding a red cushion. Nestled on the cushion was a clear crystal sphere on a silver chain–the symbol of the Katalan coven. All the crystals were clear to begin with then changed colour according to the aura of the witch. What colour would Aluna’s become?

Her father lifted the pendant off the chain and put it around her neck, reciting the ancient blessing. As the sphere touched her skin, Aluna felt her body tingle. Was her special power coming to her already? 

The crystal started to glow, changing colour. Aluna watched as it went through a rainbow of colours before settling into a silvery blue.

There was a gasp from the coven. Aluna looked over at her father and saw that he was staring at her, his eyes narrowed. What was wrong?

“It’s blue,” said Milav, one of the older witches. “We haven’t had a blue crystal for many years.”

“Not since Kristen,” someone else whispered.

Kristen. That was her mother’s name. Aluna shot a look at her father’s rigid face and steely eyes. He was angry, she realised, her stomach tightening. Was it because she had the same colour crystal as her mother? Maybe she had the same power as well.

Although she had no idea what her mother’s power was. Or anything about her mother at all. Neither her father or Sariah would talk about her. The power could manifest almost immediately, though it often took several days. 

Oh, I hope I get it soon!

About the Author

Karen King has had over one hundred and twenty children’s books published by mainstream publishers such as Walker, Scholastic, Harper Collins and Macmillan. She’s written for many children's magazines too including Sindy, Barbie, Winnie the Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine. She writes for all ages and in all genres; story books, picture books, plays, joke books, non-fiction and YA.

Twitter: @karen_king

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Favorite Halloween Movies by Bridie Blake, Author of A Distant Voice + Excerpt & Giveaway

Welcome to Bridie Blake, author of the contemporary YA novel, A Distant Voice. Looking for a movie to watch this Halloween? Bridie Blake shares her favorites along with her favorite magical literary characters.

Top 10 Movies to Watch on Halloween

With Halloween approaching it got me thinking about scary movies. And then I quickly stopped thinking about scary movies because I can’t handle anything scary. At all. Some people love the thrill of watching something that terrifies the life out of them. Not me. The scariest I can go is Scream or I Know What You Did Last Summer, and as most people tell me, they’re not scary. Yes, I’m a wimp. And I embrace that. So I’ve put together a list of movies with magical elements (and the one scary movie I’d ever re-watch) that you’d likely find me watching on Halloween.

10. Scream – as I said, this movie did scare me when I watched it as a teenager. I’m sorry, but that opening sequence with Drew Barrymore still freaks me out. And I’ll only ever watch it now during the day. And never alone.

9. The Craft – a somewhat strange choice and while I admit it’s not the greatest movie ever made, I enjoy watching it.

8. The Chronicles of Narnia  - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – oh boy I love this movie. The White Witch is perfectly terrifying and I never tire of watching her.

7. Casper – such a fun movie. I took my little brother to the movies to see this and he was so scared we had to leave about halfway through. See, I can watch scary movies:) I eventually got to watch it when it came out at the video store and it was worth it to see Devon Sawa appear at the end. I wonder what ever happened to Devon Sawa.

6. The Witches – I spent my childhood terrified of Anjelica Huston after seeing this. I’m proud to say I’ve overcome that fear and can now watch her on screen without breaking into a sweat.

5. Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban – the first two Harry Potter movies were light and fun, but The Prisoner of Azkaban shed that image and took a darker turn. One of my favorite scenes is when the choir sings ‘Double Trouble’. It sets the mood perfectly.

4. Return To Oz – I don’t care what anyone says, this movie is scary. Electro-shock treatment for Dorothy? The Wheelers? The witch that takes off her own head? Terrifying! But I love it!

3. Practical Magic – yes, I love this movie! The gathering of women to break the spell cast on the family is my favorite part. And Aidan Quinn coming to his senses at the end? Swoon!

2. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Parts 1 and 2 – I tried separating the two but they’re a packaged deal. These go onto my Halloween viewing list for one reason, and one reason only. The magic. Both good and bad. A great conclusion to a fantastic series. And while I wasn’t overly happy with how the final battle strayed from the book, I can still appreciate it for what it was.

1. Hocus Pocus – this has to be number one, right? Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy as witches? Yes, please! Loved this movie as a kid, and still love it today.

Five Favorite Magical Literary Characters

5. Adesina, The Threshold Trilogy by Callie Kanno - she is driven, passionate and still able to remain level headed despite the power she can yield. There is a huge amount of responsibility placed on her shoulders, as the queen of the L'avan and also as the Threshold Child, but she never lets it overwhelm her. Sure she has moments of fear and doubt, but that only makes her more relatable.

4. Daine, The Immortal Series by Tamora Pierce – Her love of animals and the sadness she feels for them when they are injured or killed is one of the reasons I love her so much. And I loved watching her come into her powers and harness her wild magic.

3. Hermione Granger, Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – smart, driven, passionate (remember SPEW), and the friend you want on your side. She’s awesome!

2. Alanna of Trebond, The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce – disguises herself as a boy so she can fulfill her dream of being a knight and ends up kicking butt. She not only wins her shield, but goes on to become the most powerful sorceress of the realm.

1. Harry Potter, Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – was there really another option? What I love most about Harry is that he grapples with self-doubt and uncertainty. He doesn’t think he’s all-knowing and he leans on and learns from the people around him. A humble character who can do some pretty cool magic.

A Distant Voice

Bridie Blake

YA Contemporary
Evernight Teen
October 2015

Add A Distant Voice to your Goodreads page HERE

Follow along with the tour HERE

Book Trailer:

In life you don’t find your voice. It finds you. 

Violet Hayes knows how to survive the year living with her grandmother in the small town of Wandorah, Tennessee. 

• Make Rose happy 
• Don’t sing or play guitar 
• Avoid Sally Shaw 
• Ignore Carter Jenkins 

It seems simple enough, right? Wrong. 

• How do you keep a depressed sister happy? 
• How do you deny yourself your dream? 
• How do you avoid a friendship? 
• And how do you ignore a boy when he’s everywhere you turn? 

Violet’s to-do list just became a whole lot harder.

14+ due to adult situations


He smiled and reached out to pull the guitar toward him. He strummed his fingers over the strings and played a few chords before glancing over at me proudly.


He offered me the guitar. “Your turn.”

“And what makes you think I can play?”

“Your bloodlines.”

I snorted out a laugh and clapped my hand over my mouth in horror.
“Play away,” he said, ignoring my snort, and pushed the guitar into my hands.

I stared down at it with my mouth hanging open. The way my heart raced you’d think he’d pulled the pin on a grenade and handed it to me. Relax Violet. It’s an instrument. It can’t hurt you. Unless I tripped over it and broke my neck. And that could happen. Probably not entirely realistic while I’m holding it, but if I dropped it and then got up and tripped, it … oh dear god, what is wrong with me?

His mom called out his name and he gave me an apologetic shrug. “I’ll be right back.”

He left the room and I remained where I was, the guitar still burning my hands. It had been months since I’d played. Months since I’d felt that wave of joy I got whenever my fingers ran over the strings.

A yearning, so strong it sent butterflies fluttering in my stomach, washed over me and my fingers moved. They ran over the strings, playing whatever came to mind. I closed my eyes and let myself be swallowed up by it all. I allowed myself to forget and be something else. Someone else.

I didn’t know how long I stayed like that but a shuffle behind me forced me back to reality. I opened my eyes and twisted around. Carter stood in the doorway, a look of wonder on his face and it made me squirm. I dropped my hands, rested the guitar on his bed, and scrambled to my feet. “I should go.”

He moved toward me slowly, as though scared a sudden movement would startle me. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” I mumbled and folded my arms across my chest, tucking my hands into my armpits where they’d be safe and wouldn’t stray towards anymore strings.

His brow creased and I saw him trying to work out what had happened but I didn’t want to talk about it. I tried to duck out of his room before he asked me anything. He gripped my arm, stopping my quick exit. “It’s okay,” he said. “You’re allowed to enjoy things. You’re not betraying your sister by having fun or doing the things you want to do.” His voice, filled with sincerity and kindness, caused a lump to take up residence in my throat.

His hand ran along my arm and towards my hidden hand. He tugged on it until he freed it and he squeezed my fingers gently. I shook my head because he’s right, but he’s wrong at the same time. It was guilt over Rose that stopped me doing things but when it came to music, there was so much more to it.

Music destroyed Gran’s life. It ruined Mom’s childhood. I couldn’t love something like that because if I did, I’d open myself up to the same hurt. And I’m not anywhere near as strong as Gran. It would destroy me. It would be my trigger.

I wanted to tell him that. I wanted him to understand. But the words wouldn’t come out of me.

About the Author

Bridie lives, daydreams and writes in Melbourne, Australia. She’s happiest at her computer, coffee in hand, Tim Tams on standby and her furry companion Poppy at her feet. When not writing she’s usually found with a book in her hand or playing with her tribe of nieces and nephews.

Discover more about her at www.bridieblake.com or @BridieBlake on Twitter!

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

New Release Alert: Life After the Undead by Pembroke Sinclair - Guest Post + Giveaway

I'd like to welcome Pembroke Sinclair to the blog today to talk about her new novel, Life After the Undead.

Behind the Story: Life After the Undead
By Pembroke Sinclair

I am fascinated with zombies—obsessed, if you will—and I have been since the first time I watched Night of the Living Dead many, many years ago. When I get really stressed out, I often dream of the undead and have to find ways to fight against them. That is where the inspiration for Life After the Undead came from.

The dream occurred several years ago, and while I don’t remember the exact details, I recall that my spouse and I were hiding in a small town while all of the zombies were migrating through. They were heading West so the humidity didn’t cause them to deteriorate faster. I woke up and thought, “Hey, that’s a great idea!”  So I fleshed out the story.

It started out as a short story focusing on one small snippet in time. That story was published somewhere (I can’t remember and it’s no longer linked on my blog), and then I decided to expand it into a novel.

The first attempt was an adult novel. I’m fairly certain there were some cuss words in it and a bit more carnage. I decided to send out queries for the story to agents. For the first round, I sent it to 31 agents, all of which rejected it, except one who suggested I turn it into a young adult novel and then resubmit.

So I did. This required me to clean up the language a bit, take out some of the gore (although it still has its fair share), and make my main character a bit more na├»ve. I believe I also changed it from third person to first person. I sent it back in, feeling pretty good, and then she rejected it. But that didn’t discourage me. I sent it out again as a young adult novel.

For the second round, I queried 28 agents, all of whom rejected it. After that, I sent it to a few indie publishers, and one of them picked it up. I met a book cover designer online who painted (honest to goodness painted!) covers, so I commissioned him to create the cover.

The way the deal worked was that he would send the cover idea, then it was up to the publishing company to put on the title and my byline, which they did. The artist was then free to sell the original painting, which he did. However, I decided that I liked it so much I wanted one for my collection, so I asked him to create me another with my title and byline on it. It wasn’t something he normally did, but he did it for me. The painting proudly hangs in my house.

Life After the Undead is one of my favorite stories. One of the things I like so much about zombies is that they allow me to explore the question of what it means to be human. That’s a theme that runs through a lot of my books. Plus, I just really like zombies.

As the years went by, I wanted to breathe some life back into the story (pun intended), so I decided to republish with another publishing house. This allowed me to go back and make edits, expand the story and take out some things that bothered me, and I got a new cover.

It was a lot of fun to go back and reread the story and make changes. I’m feeling pretty good about the story, and I think it’s closer to my vision of how I originally imagined it. Every time I reread it, I find a new aspect that makes me enjoy the story all over again. I would have imagined that after all this time and changes the story would get old, but it hasn’t. It’s still one of my favorites.

 Life After the Undead

Pembroke Sinclair

YA Post-Apocalyptic Zombies
Booktrope Publishing
October 27, 2015

Amazon | Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Krista must quickly figure out how she’s going to survive in the zombie-destroyed world. The one advantage humans have is that the zombies hate humid environments, so they’re migrating west to escape its deteriorating effects. The survivors plan to construct a wall at North Platte to keep the undead out, and Krista has come to Nebraska to start a new life.

Zombies aren’t the only creatures she has to be cautious of—the other survivors have a dark side. Krista must fight not only to live but also to defend everything she holds dear—her country, her freedom, and ultimately, those she loves.

Join Krista in her quest to survive in this thrilling apocalyptic novel by Pembroke Sinclair.

About the Author

Jessica Robinson is an editor by day and a zombie-killer by night (at least in her books). Since the first time she watched Night of the Living Dead, she has been obsessed with zombies and often thinks of ways to survive the uprising. In addition to her nonfiction book, under the pen name Pembroke Sinclair, she has written YA novels about zombies and the tough teens who survive the apocalyptic world. She has also written nonfiction stories for Serial Killer Magazine and published a book about slasher films called Life Lessons from Slasher Films.

You can learn more about Pembroke Sinclair by visiting her at:

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Review: 13 Most Haunted in Massachusetts by Sam Baltrusis

13 Most Haunted in Massachusetts

Sam Baltrusis

Genre: Paranormal/Historical

Date of Publication: Oct. 13, 2015

Number of pages: 130
Word Count: 30,000

Cover Artist: Frank C. Grace

Book Description:

Paranormal journalist and "Ghosts of Boston" author Sam Baltrusis has traveled all over Massachusetts in search of New England's 13 most haunted. From the oldest continuously operating hotel the Omni Parker House in Boston to the beautiful but extremely active Haunted Victorian in Gardner, Baltrusis breathes new life into the long departed.

 Available at Amazon 

The 13 Most Haunted in Massachusetts 

1.   S.K. Pierce Mansion, Gardner
2.   Freetown State Forest, Bridgewater Triangle
3.   Hammond Castle, Gloucester
4.   Lizzie Borden's House, Fall River
5.   Houghton Mansion, North Adams
6.   Joshua Ward House, Salem
7.   Longfellow's Wayside Inn, Sudbury
8.   USS Salem, Quincy
9.   Spider Gates Cemetery, Leicester
10. Boston Light, Little Brewster Island
11. Witch House, Salem
12. Victoria House, Provincetown
13. Boston Common, Downtown Boston

Review: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review

I eat up just about anything I can find about the paranormal-- hauntings being my favorite. So you can imagine that I've read about lots of different haunted places. What I loved about this book is that it concentrated on a small, very haunted state. While I am quite familiar with some of the locations, others I don't know well at all. Fresh information presented in an entertaining fashion, 13 Most Haunted in Massachusetts is a great paranormal reference.

What I liked:
Locations that haven't been hashed to death. I enjoyed reading about places that I've heard of but not in depth. New material makes for interesting reading.

Personal experience mixed with history. Mr. Baltrusis didn't just rehash the history of the haunted locations. He drew me in with personal experiences and interviews with others in the field.

The writing itself. This book flows in a conversational manner, making for enjoyable reading. Sure the subject matter is interesting, but it's the author's presentation that truly made this book great.

Pictures. Yes, I loved the pictures included in the book. They helped me picture the scenes in my mind and brought everything to life.

I confess, there really wasn't much I didn't like-- at least nothing worth noting. When I head to Massachusetts, I'll be using this book for my tours. If you love the paranormal, this is a must-read.

About the Author

Sam Baltrusis, author of Ghosts of Boston: Haunts of the Hub and Ghosts of Salem: Haunts of the Witch City, is the former editor-in-chief of Spare Change News and teaches journalism classes at Malden Access TV (MATV). He has been featured as Boston's paranormal expert on the Biography Channel's Haunted Encounters and Paranormal State's Ryan Buell's Paranormal Insider Radio. As a side gig, Baltrusis moonlights as a guide and launched the successful ghost tours, Boston Haunts and Cambridge Haunts. In October 2014, he spearheaded a boat tour called Haunted Boston Harbor. Baltrusis is also a sought-after lecturer who speaks at dozens of paranormal-related events scattered throughout New England. In the past, he's worked for VH1,, Newsweek, ABC Radio and as a regional stringer for The New York Times.

Twitter: @LoadedGun