Thursday, May 30, 2013

Blog Tour: Siren's Secret, by Heather Ostler

My friend Heather Ostler's book, Siren's Secret, the sequel to Shapeshifter's Secret, is coming out on June 15th, 2013. I'm happy to get to host her book tour. She'll be having a book launch at the Orem, Utah Barnes and Nobel on June 15th at 6:00 p.m. She's planned a fun party and will be giving away lots of prizes. 

Book Blurb

Julia’s life has gone from complicated to nearly impossible! When Julia loses her shapeshifting powers and her appearance changes in alarming ways, she flees to Sirenity, where she learns an incredible secret about her mother. In this thrilling sequel, Julia must take greater risks and make bigger sacrifices as she discovers who she really is and what she can really become

Siren’s Secret Review

Julia’s transformation from a shape shifting werecat to a siren in Siren’s Secret, the sequel to Shape Shifter’s Secret, brings with it all kinds of surprises that stretch Julia in different directions and kept me reading to find out what would happen next and how she would deal with these unexpected challenges. 

She is forced to change and grow in new ways and try to figure out who she is as she grapples with a curse and a prophecy concerning her that contradict each other. Julia starts out doubting and fearing this strange person she sees in the mirror and this darker side of her. At first, she almost gives up on herself and others and on her former life and future happiness due to the curse and the bad image people have of sirens.

I found myself wishing she would try harder to fight the curse or find a way to break it rather than believing it and letting it discourage her so easily, but I like how, when the lives of her loved ones are threatened, she makes decisions, takes action, and sacrifices herself—whether right or wrong—to fight against the evil that threatens to destroy them. In the end she is able to use her siren abilities to help herself and those she loves and turn it into an advantage.

This is a great book for young readers (preteen on up). It has nothing too frightening or graphic and has  lots of suspense and danger, and just enough romance. Throughout the story Julia is transported to exotic locations that would make great vacation spots or theme park rides. An enjoyable read that kept me turning the pages all the way to the end, though I was left with some nagging questions that I hope are answered in the next book. 

Heather's Blog:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Review: Entwined

Book description: 

Come and mend your broken hearts here.
Just when Azalea should feel that everything is before her—beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing—it’s taken away. All of it. And Azalea is trapped. The Keeper understands. He’s trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. So he extends an invitation.
Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest, but there is a cost. The Keeper likes to keep things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.


I just read Entwined by Heather Dixon and loved it. It's a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. And of course I love fairytale retellings. The characters, including all the sisters, are endearing, and the writing is excellent. I recommend it to anyone and give it a PG rating.

Princess Azalea's mother dies and the girls, who love to dance, are in mourning and not allowed to dance. Every night they sneak through a secret passage in their room to dance in an enchanted forest, but Keeper, who is trapped in the forest, wants Azalea to find and destroy a magic object in the palace that will free him from his prison and allow him to kill the king. He holds her mother's soul hostage until Azalea helps him.

This is a charming story with lots of magic, action, suspense, and romance. My favorite parts are the relationships that develop between the sisters, and between the girls and their father, and between the oldest girls and their suiters.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Writing the Dreaded Synopsis

 I’m at the point in my writing where I have several novels polished and queries ready to go to agents. The only thing that stands in the way of me sending them off is writing the dreaded synopsis. No big deal, right? It’s just a summary of my book. I wrote a whole novel. I can sum it up in a few double-spaced pages. Easier said than done.

A synopsis is not just a play by play of the main events of your story, ie: this happened, then that happened. Yes, the most important plot points need to be there, but so does characterization, emotion, and voice. The synopsis needs to convey the mood or tone of your book. Is it light and funny or scary and dark? You must show, not tell the important highlights of the story, using active, not passive voice.

As far as length and line-spacing go, guidelines for structuring a short synopsis vary. A good rule of thumb is to keep it to 2-3 double-spaced pages. Write it in third person, present tense. Make sure everything connects and makes sense. Clarity is key. The tricky part is knowing what to leave in and what to leave out. Include only scenes that move the story forward as well as the ending of the story. Leave out dialogue, description, editorializing, and any information about yourself.

The formula for a synopsis is similar to an outline. Start with the opening hook and setting. What sets your book a part from others and makes it special? Does it take place in some exotic location or in another world or time period?

After that, introduce the main character and his/her motivation. What is your character’s biggest goal, the thing he/she wants more than anything else in the world? Is it being with the one he/she loves? Getting into Harvard? Saving the world? What does he/she need to do to accomplish this goal? What will happen if they don’t accomplish it? What is the consequence? Will someone die? Will the world end?

Next comes the inciting incident. What happens to set the story in motion? Does someone die? Does the character move to a new place? Is there a disaster that occurs? Is your character injured? Do they lose their job or break up with their significant other? Is your character robbed? Do they lose their life savings? Do aliens attack?

Then comes the turning point. What action or decision does your character take or make that changes the course of the story? Does your character change jobs? Move to a different city? Break up with someone? Do they go off to school? Do they leave on a journey or quest?

Now begin introducing other important characters. Only name a few main characters (ie: the antagonist, love interest, or sidekick). Use titles for other important side characters (mother, brother, waitress, captain, teacher, etc). Don’t include all the characters. How do these relationships start out and evolve as the story progresses?

Be sure to include the major conflict of your story in your synopsis. What is standing in the way of your character reaching their goal? How do they feel about or react to this opposition? This can be inner or outer conflict. Self doubt or fear that holds them back or a dragon that guards the treasure.

Now your character reaches the point of no return: What does your character do to resolve the problem? What do they have to sacrifice or give up to achieve their goal? How does this affect them? What is the consequence of this action? Do they risk their life to save a friend?

The point of no return leads to the lowest point: This is where the character reaches rock bottom, where the odds of succeeding seem impossible. They have to fight to find strength to face the final confrontation. Maybe they are locked in a dungeon or sentenced to death.

The final confrontation or battle must be shown in the synopsis. So does the resolution. What are the rewards and payoffs. Does your character get the guy or girl? Do they save the world and their love ones? Do they accomplish their goal? How does your character change from the beginning to the end of the story?

I used this formula to create my synopsis and it worked. I hope it helps others struggling with writing a synopsis and makes the experience less dreadful. Good luck!

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Forgotten One Book Blitz and Giveaway

The Forgotten Ones

The Danaan Trilogy

Book One

is now available exclusively on Amazon!

And until May 19 it's only 99 cents!

Allison O'Malley's plan is to go to grad school so she can get a good job and take care of her schizophrenic mother. She has carefully closed herself off from everything else, including a relationship with Ethan, who she's been in love with for as long as she can remember.

What is definitely not part of the plan is the return of her long-lost father, who claims he can bring Allison's mother back from the dark place her mind has gone. Allison doesn't trust her father, so why would she believe his stories about a long forgotten Irish people, the Tuatha de Danaan? But truths have a way of revealing themselves. Secrets will eventually surface. And Allison must learn to set aside her plan and work with her father if there is even a small chance it could restore her mother's sanity.

About Laura Howard

Laura Howard lives in New Hampshire with her husband and four children. Her obsession with books began at the age of 6 when she got her first library card. Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High and other girly novels were routinely devoured in single sittings. Books took a backseat to diapers when she had her first child. It wasn’t until the release of a little novel called Twilight, 8 years later, that she rediscovered her love of fiction. Soon after, her own characters began to make themselves known. The Forgotten Ones is her first published novel.

Connect with Laura:

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Storm Prophet Promo

Storm (Swipe #3)
by Evan Angler
Release Date: 05/07/13
Thomas Nelson Publishers
288 pages
Summary from Goodreads: 
In a future United States under the power of a charismatic leader, everyone gets the Mark at age thirteen. The Mark allows citizen to shop, go to school, and even get medical care--without it, you are on your own. Few refuse to get the Mark. Those who do . . . disappear.

Logan Langly went in to get his Mark, but he backed out at the last minute. Ever since, he's been on the run from government agents and on a quest to find his sister Lily, who disappeared when she went to get her Mark five years earlier. His journey leads him to befriend the Dust, a vast network of Markless individuals who dissent against the iron-grip rule of the government. Along the way to the capital to find Lily, the Dust receive some startling information from the Markless community, opening their eyes to the message of Christianity and warning that humanity is now entering the End of Days.

In "Storm," Logan and his friends are the leaders of the Markless revolution. But while some Markless are fighting Chancellor Cylis' army, the Dust is busy trying to find a cure for a horrible epidemic sweeping through the Marked. And it's difficult for them to know who to trust, especially when they aren't sure if Logan's sister Lily, one of the commanders in Cylis' army, is on their side or not. And all across the nation--and the world--the weather is become less stable, and a storm is brewing that bigger than any of them could have ever imagined....

STORM Blog Tour Promotion - Deleted Arbitors Scene

Dear Reader,
Can you keep a secret?
For the launch of my latest banned book, STORM, I am doing something that I’ve never done before: I am releasing a series of deleted scenes. Scenes that are cannon, that did happen, and that simply didn’t fit on the page. What follows here is an exclusive first look at one of my very favorites--a scene in which Erin’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Arbitor, run into some trouble on their journey out west, in their to attempt to bring Erin back home.
So why am I doing this, you ask? Why am I publishing this deleted moment?
Perhaps it is just one more way to stick it to DOME. As if a third Swipe novel weren’t enough to ruffle their feathers, now I’m insisting on sprinkling it with bonus material too. Take that, Chancellor Cylis! How do you like me now?
But no. That’s not the only reason. That’s not all.
Because the truth is, it’s my hope that the scene you are about to read will inform the story of STORM, will complement it, will add to it and enhance it once all is said and done.
Because one way or another, a storm is coming. And it threatens everything we’ve ever fought for, all this time. And the more we know before it hits, the better.
Because right now, we Markless need all the help we can get.

Evan Angler

The magnetrain arrived on time. It pulled into the Sierra City train station, right at the western edge of the Rocky Mountains, where a few dozen PODs were waiting and where more were landing all the time. One by one, they took group after group of the train’s disembarking passengers to their respective Sierra destinations, arcing into the distance like golf balls out of some great, giant’s driving range.
Mr. Arbitor and Dr. Arbitor stepped off the station’s platform and through what felt to them like a physical wall of heat. In direct sunlight, breathing itself practically burned at the nostrils, and Mr. Arbitor fanned himself impatiently as he and his wife made their way toward the POD line. 
“No wonder no one lives here,” Dr. Arbitor said, earning herself a scowl from a passing Sierranite. “What?” she asked him. To her eyes, the panorama ahead looked more like a landfill than a city. The PODs lobbing toward it might as well have been test missiles—there was nothing on the other end of their arcs to ruin.
“Hot, ugly, and forgotten,” Mr. Arbitor said. “Nowhere’s better if you’re looking to outrun DOME.”
Dr. Arbitor nodded, but her husband had spoken too soon. Halfway across the station’s POD lot, a team of Department officers were headed their way.
“Company,” Joan whispered, and Charles stopped short.
“They traced our Markscans,” he said. “They’ve been waiting for us ever since we boarded, three thousand miles away.”
“We haven’t broken any laws,” Joan said. “It wasn’t illegal for me to leave work. It’s not illegal to travel...”
Charles had to laugh “Joan,” he said. “We’re here to bring back and harbor a cyber terrorist. Just because Erin’s our daughter...” 
Dr. Arbitor gasped a little when he said it, as though she’d suddenly remembered she was holding a rattle snake. 
“Come on,” Charles said, and he took his wife’s hand. She shot him a look of surprise and a touch of anger when he did; it was the first time he’d taken Joan’s hand in over a year. “Sorry,” he said. “But whatever you do...stay with me.”
And with that, Charles ducked left, weaving into the crowd that funneled toward the PODs. All around him, travelers pushed and glared as he pulled Joan onward through the dense, unstructured line.
“Where do you think you’re going?” someone called, but it wasn’t an officer. Charles shrugged at the man. He just kept right on walking. 
When the Arbitors got to the front of the line, they saw a young Marked couple boarding the next POD out, along with two older men waiting to hop on after them. Charles pushed right past the men, taking, with Joan, the next two seats available.
“Hey, what gives?” the older man said, and in his anger he reached out to grab Mr. Arbitor and pull him back out of the POD and into the line. 
All the while, DOME encroached. The four officers were working their way through the crowd now, flashing badges and moving fast.
For a moment, Charles was sure a fight would break out. And after that...he had no idea. 
So this is how the Dust always felt, Charles thought fleetingly. His heart raced an awful rhythm as he tried to break free...and as DOME closed in on all sides.
But Joan had seen enough. And she was through waiting for results. In one strong motion, she held the glass vial of Project Trumpet test results straight out at arms length, wielding it like she might a knife or a gun.
“Do you see this?” Joan said. “This is a bio-weapon. I drop this right now—and everyone in this magnetrain lot is dead inside of two months. Do you hear me? Do you see it?” She shook the vial as she asked the last of her questions. The protein sloshed around inside.
The man let go of Charles before she’d even finished. The crowd outside the POD backed away with a sudden, panicked recoil. The young couple sitting behind the Arbitors shrank into their seats; the boy in the couple, twenty-something and baby-faced, squealed in horror.
DOME was running now, through the last few circles of the crowd, straight for the POD. Straight for the Arbitors.
“Much obliged,” Charles said. And he closed the POD doors. And he jabbed at the mapscreen in front of him for the farthest destination on the grid.
 “So, where to?” Joan joked to the couple sitting behind her. They were crying now, having no idea at all what to do about the hijackers in front of them. Their POD careened through the air. They had about forty-five seconds until landing. And at that point, Joan knew, DOME would land too. And she and her husband would be back to square one.
“We have to lose them,” Mr. Arbitor said, pounding with his fists at the dashboard in front of him. 
“How?” Joan asked. “This isn’t a plane. You can’t fly it.”
Charles shook his head. “On the contrary. This thing uses compressed air jets for landing and take off. That means it has course correction. And that means we can course correct it.”
Several more punches to the board in front of him, and Charles had exposed the circuitry underneath. Immediately, the advertisement displaying all around them—a happy jingle listing the intense whitening benefits of NanoGum Pearl—shut off with a crackle. Through the glass, all four passengers could suddenly see the sky, flying at them with a terrible certitude. The couple in back screamed and shrieked, but it did little to phase Charles. “Red wire, blue wire...connects to the yellow... He mumbled fast as he twisted and pulled...and another ten seconds later—just as the POD had crested in its arc and begun its descent—Charles had successfully hotwired the air jets.
“Hold on,” he told everyone, and for the first time ever in a public taxi ride, a PopHopper POD changed course, swerving hard to the left. 
Even Joan was yelling now. All four passenger’s stomachs were up in their throats. The POD fall hard toward the earth, spinning wildly from the force of the lopsided air jet, like a giant, deadly curveball. Above them and far to the right, the DOME POD flew helplessly off into the distance.
“This thing’ll still land, right?” Joan yelled, dizzier and more certain of imminent death than she’d ever been. 
“I think so,” Charles said. “If I remembered to reconnect the green wire, that is...”
But seconds later, the POD did land. It was rough, landing sideways and bouncing several times before rolling inelegantly to a stop...but it landed all the same. Charles hadn’t forgotten the green wire.
The POD door opened automatically, and the computer voice said something pleasant about having a nice day and being sure to “Hop again soon!” Charles, Joan, and the couple behind them all staggered out of the glass ball and fell immediately to the ground. 
“Where in the world did you learn to do that?” Joan asked.
“DOME,” Charles said. “I took a night course on hijacking a few years back. Most agents do. There isn’t a vehicle in this Union I can’t work with. I’m sure the guys following us could’ve done it too...if only they’d seen it coming.
“If there’s one thing the dust taught me this’s to never underestimate your opponents.”
Joan laughed. Euphoric relief flooded her brain. 
But it was several minutes before any of the four of them were done throwing up.

Buy Links:
AmazonBarnes & Noble

About the Author
Evan lives without the Mark, evading DOME and writing in the shadows of Beacon.
Swipe is his first book. But if anyone asks, you know nothing about it, and you didn't hear anything from him. Don't make eye contact if you see him. Don't call his name out loud. He's in enough trouble already.
And so are you, if you've read his book.


Print books 1-3 in the Swipe series, US only.

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