Monday, July 31, 2017

The End of Ordinary by Edward Ashton (VBT, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY)

It is my pleasure to share a guest post by author Edward Ashton who muses...

Writing a book is easy. Getting it published is hard.

by Edward Ashton

I started work on my first novel, Three Days in April, in the spring of 2013. I finished the first draft six months later. It was at that point that I realized that I’d given exactly zero thought to getting what I’d written published. So, I did a little digging, and quickly came to the conclusion that submitting a manuscript directly to publishers is an agonizingly slow and painful process at best, and in most cases a complete waste of time. Most major publishers will not review a book unless it comes from an agent. Those that will, generally require you to submit exclusively, and they take anywhere from six months to two years to get an answer back to you —that is, if they ever do at all.

So, I skipped that step entirely, and started querying agents.

The process of trying to find someone to represent your work is painful in its own way, in that you wind up collecting a lot of rejection letters, but it’s a much more streamlined experience than direct submission to publishers. The vast majority of agents permit simultaneous submissions, so you can query several of them at once, and their response times tend more toward days or weeks rather than months or years.

The process for querying is pretty simple. You write a query letter, which is basically the copy you’d see on the back of a paperback at the bookstore with a bit of boilerplate around it, and a synopsis, which is a two page document summarizing every character and plot point in your four hundred page book. Then, you send them out in whatever format each particular agent requires, and you wait for a response.

There are a number of print and online databases that will help you find agents who are willing to take on new authors, and who work in whatever genre you prefer. I used, as well as Writer’s Market. I sent queries to what I thought were six reasonable agents. I also made a prioritized list of which agencies I would reach out to next, and as each rejection came in, I sent a fresh query to whoever was at the top of the list.

After ten rejections, I re-tooled my query letter. After ten more, I re-tooled it again. The first one, I would describe as workmanlike. With the second, I tried to be a bit more creative. The third one was just sassy. That’s the one that got results. I queried ten agencies with letter #3. Of those, I got five form rejections, three personal rejections, two requests to read the full manuscript, and finally, in September of 2014, an offer of representation.

From there, needless to say, everything was smooth sailing. My new agent had me re-write a major chunk of the book before he’d even show it to publishers. It then took four months for him to land an offer from HarperCollins–an offer that came with the requirement to cut an entire POV character and almost thirty thousand words of text, and re-distribute all those words (and all the critical plot information those words conveyed) among the remaining characters. Then there were structural edits and line edits, cover designs and jacket copy, blog posts and interviews and a lengthy lecture from my new publicist about establishing an online presence (still working on that one). At the end of the day, it took just about four times as long to get from finished first draft to book release as it did to get from first word to first draft.

Does it get easier? Well, my second book, The End of Ordinary, was just released in June, only ten months after I sent it in to my agent. Baby steps, right?


by Edward Ashton


GENRE: Science Fiction



Drew Bergen is an Engineer. He builds living things, one gene at a time. He's also kind of a doofus. Six years after the Stupid War -- a bloody, inconclusive clash between the Engineered and the UnAltered -- that's a dangerous combination. Hannah is Drew's greatest project, modified in utero to be just a bit better at running than most humans. She’s also his daughter. Her plan for high school is simple: lay low and run fast. Unfortunately for Hannah, her cross-country team has other plans.

Jordan is just an ordinary Homo-Sap. But don’t let that fool you -- he’s also one of the richest kids at Briarwood, and even though there isn’t a single part of him that’s been engineered, someone has it out for him.

Drew thinks he’s working to develop a spiffy new strain of corn, but Hannah and her classmates disagree. They think he's cooking up the end of the world. When one of Drew's team members disappears, he begins to suspect that they might be right. Soon they're all in far over their heads, with corporate goons and government operatives hunting them, and millions of lives in the balance.



“Okay,” he said. “Let’s take this one step at a time. Why do you need accomplices?”

“I already told you,” Micah said. “We are like ninety percent fully opposed to your plans to murder Jordan. Ninety-five percent, even.”

“Quiet,” Bob said. “Grownups are talking now.”

“Micah’s an idiot,” Marta said, “but believe it or not, he’s mostly right. We know about Project Snitch, Daddy.”

Bob’s eyebrows came together at the bridge of his nose.

“Project what?”

Marta rolled her eyes.

“Give it up, Dad. I don’t have anything else to do around here, so I snoop. I’ve heard you and Marco talking about Project Snitch more than once.”

“Actually,” I said, “I think Hannah said that the real name for it was Project Dragon-Corn.”

Bob’s face went blank.

“Oh,” he said, after a long, silent pause. “Oh. Oh, honey. You mean project Sneetch.”

I looked at Marta. Marta looked at me. Micah finished his smoothie, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and smiled.

“Uh,” Marta said. “What?”

Bob sighed.

“Sneetch, honey. Not Snitch. Sneetch.”

“Oh,” Marta said. “I thought you were just making fun of Marco’s accent when you said it that way.”

We all turned to stare at her.

“Anyway,” I said. “Confusion-wise, I’m not sure that’s…”

I slapped my palm to my forehead and let out a long, low groan.

“What?” Micah asked. “Are you having a stroke?”

“Sneetch,” I said. “Project Sneetch. Holy shit, dude. You think you’re Sylvester McMonkey McBean.”

“Right,” Bob said. He leaned back, and crossed his arms over his chest. “See, honey? Your gay boyfriend gets me.”


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Edward Ashton lives with his adorably mopey dog, his inordinately patient wife, and a steadily diminishing number of daughters in Rochester, New York, where he studies new cancer therapies by day, and writes about the awful things his research may lead to by night. He is the author of Three Days in April, as well as several dozen short stories which have appeared in venues ranging from the newsletter of an Italian sausage company to Louisiana Literature and Escape Pod.

You can find him online at his website.
Twitter: @edashtonwriting
Facebook: Edward Ashton Writing
Tumblr: Smart-as-as-bee



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The tour dates can be found here

Friday, July 28, 2017

Kiss my Boots by Harper Sloan (spotlight and GIVEAWAY) ADULT title

Kiss My Boots 
by  Harper Sloan
 ADULT title

Book 2 in The Coming Home Series
Pocket Books
July 18, 2017

About the book:
Hang on to your Stetsons this summer, because you’re in for one wild ride! Get lost in the second installment of New York Times bestselling author Harper Sloan’s Coming Home series, KISS MY BOOTS. In the second installment, the wildest Davis of them all is looking for love…maybe.
Quinn Davis prefers to live her life quietly. She’s the stereotypical tomboy with two overprotective big brothers who have always looked out for her. Of course, it doesn’t help that her heart has already been hardened when it comes to devilishly handsome cowboys with silver tongues. That is, until Tate Montgomery comes riding back into town. Their first meeting, however, is far from something out of a fairy tale and only further convinces Quinn that men aren’t worth her time.
Growing up, the one time Tate ever truly felt at home was during the long, sweltering summer months he spent at his gram and paw’s farm in Pine Oak, Texas. Now, Tate has returned to his childhood sanctuary seeking a fresh start—but if he’s being entirely honest, he’s not just back for the Wranglers and Stetsons. During those summers, Quinn was a friend turned young love who Tate lost when life threw him a curveball and he cut all ties to his past, but all it takes is one glance at the raven-haired beauty, who he did his best to forget, for him to realize just how much he’s been missing…
Can two people who have stopped believing in love take a chance to find it in each other again? Or will the pain of the past prove too great a hurdle to conquer?
KISS MY BOOTS is the second go-round in this Texas-set series filled with sizzle, heart, and plenty of cowboys!

Praise for Kiss My Boots, Book 2:
“[A] steamy book for your summer reading list…Modern Cliterature...Enjoy [this] lusty [passage] adapted from summer’s raciest reads…”
Cosmopolitan, July 2017

Praise for Lost Rider, Book 1:
“Sloan hits it out of the park with her first Coming Home contemporary western romance…Maverick is a perfect hero: multilayered, complicated, deeply damaged, yet blooming with the new promise of love. Leighton is appealing and real, as are a strong supporting cast of characters whom readers will be glad to follow into sequels. Sloan enhances the gripping story with country songs that open each chapter. This absolutely spectacular effort catapults Sloan to the top of her genre.”
—Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)
“The first book in Sloan’s Coming Home series is a supersexy second-chance read with a handsome ex-rodeo cowboy hero and the girl he left behind. The characters are well written and the bedroom scenes are hot…Sloan does a wonderful job with portraying the secondary characters, and it looks like Quinn’s story, which is next up, is going to be a good one.”
RT VIP Salon
“Sloan brings plenty of heat to this otherwise very thoughtful, building love story, the first in her Coming Home series…Maverick’s pursuit of Leighton and her slow acceptance ignites the vivid ranch and small-town settings. Contemporary western romances are challenging to write, and Sloan makes it fun to read about realistic ways cowboys can fit into modern society. Readers will look forward to learning how the uncovered family secrets affect siblings Clay and Quinn in future books.”
“Sloan begins a new Western series with engaging characters and an appealing small-town setting; her second-chance-at-love romance resonates emotionally…Sloan knows her way around sexual tension and emotional intensity.”

About the author:

Harper Sloan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Corps Security and Hope Town series. She started writing as a way to unwind when the house went to sleep at night. Harper lives in Georgia with her family. Visit her at or



 One review copy of Book 1, Lost Rider is the giveaway prize! Be sure to check out all participating sites on the blog tour for more Giveaways. Please note, you can only win one giveaway and must have a U.S. address. 

To enter, please leave a comment about the best apology gift you have received or heard of someone receiving. Please remember to leave a valid e-mail address. A winner will be chosen using from those who have commented by August 4, 2017.


Kiss My Boots blog tour:

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Second Chance in Laguna by Claire Marti (VNBtM, guest post, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

I am delighted to be able to share a post from one of the writers from The Wild Rose Press (congrats on your debut and welcome to the Garden!), who answers my question...

ELF: What do you think is the strongest attraction about the genre(s) you like to write in?

CM: Readers love the romance genre for a variety of reasons. Romance novels impart a sense of hope in an uncertain world. In the genre, readers know they will receive a happy ending and a positive resolution of seemingly insurmountable odds. Who doesn’t need their faith in love renewed?

When choosing what book to pick up next, readers select based upon what experience they are seeking when they dive into the pages. Does romance provide an escape? Yes! A complex emotional challenge? Often! An opportunity to learn something new? Yes!

As a romance author, I love delving into emotionally rich stories where the characters learn and grow on their path to finding true love. I focus upon the personal evolution of the characters. Each one is like an onion and as the layers are peeled away, an individual’s truth emerges. When someone becomes more self-aware, they can discover how their own emotional patterns and habits limit their happiness.

Readers want to identify with a hero or heroine and hop on the ride with them. Navigate the twists and turns. When a fictional couple overcomes both individual challenges and joint obstacles together, the reader’s own faith in love and human nature can be renewed. A romantic story can transport the reader from the difficulties of his or her job, family, marriage, and the world in general. Despite any peril that may arise, there will be a happy ending for the couple. There’s comfort and hope.

If the character can overcome difficult odds and find true love, a reader will close the book with a sense of satisfaction.


by Claire Marti


GENRE: Contemporary Romance



When Sophie Barnes’s fiancé jilts her at the altar, her carefully planned life implodes. Considering her ex’s betrayal to be a rude wake-up call, she leaves everything she knows in San Diego and flees to Laguna Beach. She vows to transform her life by avoiding men for a year and by fulfilling her dream of writing a wildly successful novel. 

Sophie’s new landlord, Nicholas Morgan, is a gorgeous, successful architect with a player reputation. He makes it tough for Sophie to remember that she’s sworn to be single. Nick’s avoided the intimacy of a long-term relationship--until Sophie’s independence, courage, and beauty touch his guarded heart. Both Sophie and Nick are terrified of being hurt again, but can they resist the pull of true love?



Nick arrived right on time, looking gorgeous in faded jeans and a plain white t-shirt. How did he always manage to start the butterflies fluttering in her stomach? Just by standing there with the setting sun framing him? She was in trouble.

“Hi beautiful, ready to go?” He clasped her face in his hands and planted a soft kiss on her lips.

Returning his kiss, Sophie wound her arms around his neck and deepened it. She couldn’t resist. His strong arms wrapped around her waist, hugging her close to his broad chest.

“Mmmm, feel free to greet me like that every time I come over,” he said, lips curved up into a sweet smile.

Heat washed her cheeks and she returned his smile. “Let’s go. Prepare to be blown away by the movie snack of the century.”

Determined to keep things light and enjoy the movie before “the talk,” Sophie thrust down the lick of panic bubbling in her gut. She’d accomplished next to nothing all afternoon, instead wrestling with whether she needed to tell him about Doug.

The angel on her shoulder whispered to tell him because if they were going to have any kind of relationship, even a friends-with-benefits one, honesty and trust were vital. The devil urged her to zip it. They’d only known each other a few weeks. What if he lived up to his “Player of Laguna” reputation and expected only a fun fling? Even though he seemed deeper than that. What if she scared him off with a premature talk?

Buy Links:



AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Claire Marti started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress.

Finally, Claire followed her heart and now focuses on two of her true passions: writing romance and teaching yoga. Her debut releases from The Wild Rose Press on March 31, 2017 and is the first in the Finding Forever in Laguna series.

Twitter:  @clairepmarti



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The tour dates can be found here

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Parent Teacher Association by Jennifer Soosar (VBB, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

by Jennifer Soosar


GENRE:   Suspense, psychological



Fresh out of a mental hospital, Lizanne Demeter is thrilled to get a second chance at her career when she's hired to teach third grade in the backwater town of Splinter Wood, Pennsylvania. But hopes for a peaceful new life are ruined when demanding ‘helicopter mom’ Naomi Seabrook pushes Lizanne to the brink.

While struggling to maintain control of her classroom, Lizanne begins to unravel the secret behind Naomi’s hell-bent agenda. As deadly clues emerge, Lizanne suspects Naomi is guilty of more than just overindulging her child.

With her life teetering on chaos, Lizanne risks everything to expose the shocking truth. But first, she must race against her own spiraling sanity to prove herself a more dedicated teacher than anyone dared imagine—the kind of teacher who makes ALL the difference.




“See, here’s the problem with single female teachers,” Naomi said. “You got no life. You put an inappropriate amount of attention on insignificant things and work them up into a froth. There’s no perspective in your sad, one-dimensional world.”

Let that pass, Lizanne thought. You’re getting somewhere now.

“Don’t like me asking questions?”

“I don’t like you snooping around in areas that are none of your business,” Naomi said, eyeballs bulging. “Ruth made an error hiring you. You’re too weird, if that’s even possible. And know what else? You’re a lousy teacher! Sebastian is miserable in your class. I tried communicating that with you, but you’re clueless!”

The words stung—you’re a lousy teacher—and Lizanne labored to sweep it away.

“You’re easily the worst teacher in Battle Hill history and I’m including my own years spent there as a student.”

Sebastian appeared in the doorway.

“This so-called teacher of yours is useless,” Naomi said to him. “I’m amazed she dares to call herself a teacher at all.”

When he snickered, Lizanne felt crippled.

“Look how you allowed that poor child to climb that tree and fall to his death,” Naomi said, advancing with the box cutter. “That was all your fault, wasn’t it?”

Feeling tears come, Lizanne rushed to grab her coat.

Naomi followed. “Go ahead, keep thinking it was an accident, if that makes your stark life more bearable. But we both know it wasn’t…”

Sensing a grim truth had just been spoken, Lizanne found a sudden poise. She turned to face Naomi. “No, it wasn’t an accident, was it?” she said. “It couldn’t have been.”


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Jennifer Soosar watched too much ‘America’s Most Wanted’ growing up and has been writing about shady characters ever since. She was born and raised in Toronto and has a degree in Anthropology from York University. Her short fiction has appeared in the Toronto Star and in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. She is a member of the Crime Writers of Canada, the International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime.

Her website



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The tour dates can be found here

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Blue Unicorn's Journey To Osm by Sybrina Durant (Spotlight, excerpt, review, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

by Sybrina Durant


GENRE: Teen Fantasy Book



The book is about a little blue unicorn who was born into a magical metal-horned tribe of unicorns.  He is expected to save the tribe from the evil sorcerer, Magh but how will he be able to do that with no metal and no magic?  Read the book to find out how a plain blue unicorn comes of age with the help of a brave stag and a loyal firebird.  The book is meant for teen readers and anyone else who love unicorn stories with lots of pictures.



“Why, would you take off alone, Ghel?” Alumna asked. “You know how dangerous it is out there.  You were almost a manticore’s dinner.”

It was obvious Alumna was angry.  She tried to control her voice but it came out in sharp, short tones.

 “Or worse,” Lauda exclaimed, “you might have been captured by Magh’s minions and had your hooves and horn taken.”  The hide on her back rippled fearfully.

Ghel shuddered, too.  She had thought she was doomed when she first saw the manticore.  She would have been if Nix had not arrived in the nick of time to save her. 

All the other unicorns put on brave faces but the thought scared them, also. 

The seriousness of their situation was fully revealed when Alumna said, “The entire tribe is going to have to make a journey all the way across MarBryn to Muzika Woods.” 

She showed them the map which she had wanted to show the entire tribe at the same time.  Unfortunately, Blue never saw it.  Even with the map, there was no way to know which direction he had taken. 

“All he knows is that he is supposed to get to Muzika Woods,” Alumna said sadly.  "The Numen told me Blue’s destiny is to ensure the safety of our tribe. He said it is time for Blue to join with the Moon-Star.” 

No one tried to hide the shock they felt.  They all spoke at once: “Join with the Moon-Star?”

"Corn feathers! Is he gonna sprout wings to do this trick?" Lauda exploded.    "The Moon-Star’s in the sky and Blue sure as heck can’t fly.” 

They all thought it sounded like nonsense. Unicorns cannot fly.

Buy links (pay attention, as some are for different variations!)


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

I am the author of the "Learn To Tie A Tie With The Rabbit and The Fox" series of instructional books for boys and girls. I also co-write, edit and publish children's books by other authors, Sandi Johnson (Children's books) and Britt Brundige (Tween graphic novel). For the older crowd, there's a little bit of romance by Historical Regency Romance author, Gina Rose.

I am also the publisher of the 4 volume set - Sybrina's Phrase Thesaurus.





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My review

4 stars

The Blue Unicorn’s Journey to Osm written by Sybrina Durant and illustrated by Dasguptarts is a lovely children’s story that blends fantasy and a bit of science fiction in a sweet tale. The gentle reminders of the importance of acceptance and maintaining a sense of self worth are artfully woven into this fun adventure tale. The brightly colored illustrations underscore the fantastical creatures that populate the tale while elements of science are slipped in through descriptions of the types of metal horns utilized by various unicorns and fun words such as didgeridoo are woven into the story. The story can be read on multiple levels, from very simple for a young child to an older individual who can appreciate the nuances and inside jokes such as where the ice cubes originate. Those who enjoy the story should make sure to pay attention to the author’s notes at the end which detail accessory items including a coloring book as well as provide an illustration of a unicorn’s parts and a fun activity.

A copy of this title was provided to me for review