Winter Reading Challenge: Navigating Life by Margaux Bergen (spotlight)

Navigating Life: Things I Wish My Mother Had Told MeNavigating Life
written by Margaux Bergen
published by Penguin Press, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, TargetBook DepositoryGoodreads

About the book – from Amazon: An inspiring, piercingly honest user’s guide to life, written for the author’s daughter and given to her on her first day of college, reflecting tough lessons about family, work, and marriage.

You learn a few useful things at school–the three Rs come in handy, and it’s good to know how to perform under pressure and wait your turn–but most of what matters, what makes you into a functioning human being, able to hold your own in conversation, find your path, know what to avoid in relationships and secure a meaningful job, no teacher will ever tell you. This diamond-sharp, gut-punchingly honest book of hard-earned wisdom is one mother’s effort to equip her daughter for survival in the real world.

Margaux Bergen began writing this book when her daughter Charlotte turned nine and gave it to her right after graduation from high school, when she was setting off for her first day of college. “I am not writing this to groom or guide you to professional or academic success,” she writes. “My goal is rather to give you tools that might help you engage with the world and flourish. . . . Think of this as a kind of developing bath-time wisdom.”

Wise, heartbreakingly funny, and resonantly true, Navigating Life has invaluable lessons for students of life of all ages. It will challenge you to lead a more meaningful life and to tackle the bumps along the way with grace, grit, style, and ingenuity. What The Blessings of a Skinned Knee did for the early years of parenting, Navigating Life does for the next, far more perilous chapter, when new graduates are cast out on the high seas and have to learn to swim and find their way by themselves.

 

Margaux Bergen

About the author: Born in Paris and raised in London, educated at Edinburgh University and living in Washington D.C., Margaux Bergen is the mother of three Millennials. She has worked in international development and women’s leadership. And is still learning the extreme sports of raising three children.

Find Ms. Bergen here: webFacebookTwitterGoodreads

 

 

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Blog Tour: Playing House by Laura Chapman (spotlight, guest post, giveaway)

Playing House
written by Laura Chapman
published by Laura Chapman, 2017

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Goodreads

About the book – from the author: She’s a work in progress . . .

Bailey Meredith has had it. As an assistant at a prestigious interior design firm, she’s tired of making coffee and filing invoices. She’ll do just about anything to get out from under the paperwork and into the field for real experience. Then she sees an ad for a job that seems too good to be true.

He’s a fixer upper . . .

Wilder Aldrich knew she would be perfect for the crew the moment he saw her. His hit home improvement show only hired the best, and Bailey had potential written all over her. It isn’t just her imaginative creativity and unmatched work ethic that grabs his attention. There’s just something about her.

With chemistry on screen, it’s only a matter of time before sparks fly behind the scenes as well. But with Bailey’s jaded views on romance and a big secret that could destroy Wilder and everyone he cares about are either of them willing to risk it all for love?

 

Guest Post
Music plays an important part in my writing process.

Before and during the writing process, I tend to create a playlist of songs that fit the story, a character, or a particular scene. While I don’t always listen when I write (sometimes I need total silence or light background noise), I tend to listen to the same songs over and over and over when I’m in my car, on the treadmill, at my day job. The music helps keep the story in my mind even when I am not working on it. The songs also help me get back into the story when I return for revisions.

My playlist for Playing House is a little out of control. I typically go back and revise it, along with the story, but I just can’t bring myself to remove any of the songs.

But because I don’t want to make you sit down and listen to each of those songs right now (though you’re welcome to follow my playlist on Spotify), I thought I’d share the five songs I played most while writing this story.

1. Out of the Woods by Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams dropped his cover album of Taylor Swift’s 1989 while I was planning and plotting out Playing House. I kind of became obsessed with it, and as a result, pretty much the whole album is on my playlist. This song was my favorite, though. With the beautiful instrumentals blending with Ryan’s sad, whimsical voice, this song really spoke to me when writing some of the more serious scenes. Plus, the line “We were built to fall apart, then fall back together” really seemed to ring true for the story I was telling.

2. Beautiful Disaster by Jon McLaughlin
Winning the prize for artist with the second-most amount of songs on the playlist . . . If Bailey Madison, the heroine of Playing House, had to pick a song to describe herself, I think this would be it. I have been a big fan of listening to Jon McLaughlin while writing since my friend and fellow author Brea Brown introduced me to his music a few years ago. I also had the chance to hear him perform—and meet him after the concert—the month before I started writing this story. Here’s a super dark photo of us:

3. Something by The Beatles
If our hero Wilder Aldrich was to pick a song to describe Bailey, this would be it. (Notice how different they are??) Because when it comes to Bailey, for Wilder, there’s just something about her.

4. Love Should Be A Crime by O-Town
So, I unapologetically love and celebrate the boy bands of the ‘90s and ‘00s, including O-Town. This was one of my favorites back in my high school days, but I admit, I’d kind of forgotten about it. Until I created Bailey. She’s someone who really doesn’t want to fall in love, because she doesn’t want to deal with heartache. I was more than halfway through my first draft when this song popped into my head and I had to add it.

5. Piece by Piece by Kelly Clarkson
I think if you read the book, this one becomes pretty clear. But as a quick shout-out to my girl Kelly, she’s one of my favorite artists to listen to while writing. I was actually listening to Breakaway in the car when I came up with the idea for the first book I wrote to completion. She’s amazing.

And okay, I know I said I was only going to do five, but I just remember a sixth one I listened to on repeat, so consider this a bonus track . . .

Bonus: Perfect – Stripped by One Direction
See my previous note about boy bands and amend it to include the bands of the ‘10s. If Wilder Aldrich was to pick a song that could best summarize himself, this would probably be it. I actually pretty much summarized a line of this song in a bit of dialogue I wrote for Wilder. :/ Thanks, boys. Plus, with the reality TV/celebrity element and the “together for now” themes of the story, this seemed to fit.

What are your favorite songs to listen to right now? Feel free to leave it in the comments below.

And if you’re curious, here’s the playlist:

 

About the author: Laura Chapman is the author of First & Goal, Going for Two, Three & Out, The Marrying Type, and Playing House. A native Nebraskan, she loves football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. She loves talking to readers. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also get the latest news from her website, blog, and monthly newsletter.

 

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This month, during the Playing House blog tour, you can enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win one of 1 free Audible copy each of The Marrying Type, First & Goal, Going for Two or 1 $20 Amazon gift card.

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Winter Reading Challenge: It Happens All the Time by Amy Hatvany (spotlight)

It Happens All the TimeIt Happens All the Time
written by Amy Hatvany
published by Atria Books, 2017

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, TargetBook Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: From master storyteller Amy Hatvany—whose writing has been hailed as “gripping and emotionally honest” (Stephanie Evanovich, New York Times betselling author)—comes a provocative and compelling novel about two friends whose lives are changed by a drunken kiss.

I want to rewind the clock, take back the night when the world shattered. I want to erase everything that went wrong.

Amber Bryant and Tyler Hicks have been best friends since they were teenagers—trusting and depending on each other through some of the darkest periods of their young lives. And while Amber has always felt that their relationship is strictly platonic, Tyler has long harbored the secret desire that they might one day become more than friends.

Returning home for the summer after her college graduation, Amber begins spending more time with Tyler than she has in years. Despite the fact that Amber is engaged to her college sweetheart, a flirtation begins to grow between them. One night, fueled by alcohol and concerns about whether she’s getting married too young, Amber kisses Tyler.

What happens next will change them forever.

In alternating points of view, It Happens All the Time examines the complexity of sexual dynamics between men and women and offers an incisive exploration of gender roles, expectations, and the ever-timely issue of consent.

Amy HatvanyAbout the author: Amy Hatvany was born in Seattle, WA in 1972, the youngest of three children. She graduated from Western Washington University in 1994 with a degree in Sociology only to discover most sociologists are unemployed. Soon followed a variety of jobs – some of which she loved, like decorating wedding cakes; others which she merely tolerated, like receptionist. In 1998, Amy finally decided to sell her car, quit her job, and take a chance on writing books.

The literary gods took kindly to her aspirations and THE KIND OF LOVE THAT SAVES YOU was published in 2000 by Bantam Doubleday. THE LANGUAGE OF SISTERS was picked up by NAL in 2002. (Both titles published under “Yurk.”)

Amy spends most of her time today with her second and final husband, Stephan. (Seriously, if this one doesn’t work out, she’s done.) She stays busy with her two children, Scarlett and Miles, and her “bonus child,” Anna. Their blended family also includes two four-legged hairy children, commonly known as Black Lab mutts, Kenda and Dolcé. When Amy’s not with friends or family, she is most likely reading, cooking or zoning out on certain reality television shows. Top Chef is a current favorite. She eagerly awaits auditions for the cast of “Top Author.” (“Quick Edit” instead of “Quick Fire” Challenge? C’mon, producers! That’s gripping television!)

Find Ms. Hatvany here: web, FacebookTwitter, Goodreads

 

 

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Winter Reading Challenge: Drop In by Sara Harvey Yao (spotlight)

 

 

Drop in: Lead with Clarity, Connection, and CourageDrop In
written by Sara Harvey Yao
published by She Writes Press, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Target, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: In a society that deeply values productivity, speed, and external rewards, we often find ourselves with less of what we really long for: space, clarity, connection with others, and a sense of well-being. Our attempts to improve our lives and bottom lines by adding more to our calendars, expanding our to-do lists, and constantly being plugged in to technology is backfiring. Instead of getting more done, our minds are spinning, leaving us stressed, disconnected, and unable to focus.

Drop In challenges our assumptions about the effectiveness of our busy lives and offers a compelling alternative approach to success by inviting people to learn how to drop in to the present moment. Deepening our awareness of the present moment, asserts Sara Harvey Yao, is the most efficient and sustainable way to navigate the complexities of work and life and to access our clarity, connection, and courage so we can lead more powerfully. Full of practical tools, Drop In will help busy professionals get out of the spin cycle of their minds and tune in to their already-existing wisdom and clarity”

 

 

Sara Harvey Yao

About the author: Sara Harvey Yao is the founder of Yao Consulting Group and has personally developed more than 4,000 leaders across the globe and specializes in the area of executive leadership and presence. Sara’s skills are favored by countless executives from leading companies – among them Microsoft, Brooks Athletics and Coinstar. Whether working one-on-one with clients, as a team facilitator or as an inspiring speaker, Sara is deeply committed to guiding clients to deeper awareness and clarity about unconscious behaviors, ego tactics and communication styles that hamper aware leadership.

Sara’s Background and Education: In 2002, Sara left her decade-long career as a Leadership Development Director for several technology and communications firms. During her role as an internal consultant and coach, she earned her frequent flyer gold status on dozens of trips to work with leaders in places as far-flung as London, Lubbock, Seoul and St. Paul. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communications and a master’s degree in Organizational Management.

Find Ms. Yao here: webFacebook, Twitter

 

 

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EFC Promotions Blog Tour Wrap-Up: The Wolf Mirror by Caroline Healy

 

The Wolf MirrorThe Wolf Mirror
written by Caroline Healy
expected publication February 2017

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooksGoodreads

 

About the book – from Goodreads: Changing places doesn’t always help you see things differently.

Cassie throws the first punch in a brawl at Winchester Abbey Girl’s School. Her subsequent suspension is a glitch in Cassie’s master plan; Finish School/Get Job/Leave Home (and never come back). As punishment her mother banishes her to Ludlow Park, their creepy ancestral home. In the dark of a stormy night Cassie finds herself transported to 1714, the beginning of the Georgian period.

With the help of a lady’s maid and an obnoxious gentleman, Mr Charles Stafford, Cassie must unravel the mysterious illness afflicting Lord Miller. If Lord Miller kicks the bucket the house goes to Reginald Huxley, the brainless cousin from London.

Cassie’s task is to figure out who is poisoning the Lord of Ludlow without exposing herself to the ridicule of her peers, getting herself committed to the asylum or worse, married off to the first man who will have her.

Cassie must learn to hold her tongue, keep her pride in check and reign in her rebellious nature – because the fate of her entire family, for generations, rests on her shoulders.

Meanwhile, Lady Cassandra Miller frantically searches for her smelling salts or her trusted governess Miss. Blythe, whose soothing advice she would dearly love. Instead Cassandra finds some woman and a boy squatting in the Ludlow mansion; her father, her lady’s maid and all the servants have magically disappeared.

Tell-a-vision, the In-her-net, horseless carriages and women wearing pantaloons; Cassandra is afraid that she might have inhaled fowl air causing her to temporarily lose her senses.

Only when both girls can get over their pride, societal prejudices and self-importance will they be able to return to their rightful century. Until then, they are free to wreak maximum damage on their respective centuries.

 

 

About the author: Caroline Healy is a writer and community arts facilitator. She recently completed her M.A. in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University. She alternates her time between procrastination and making art.

In 2012 her award winning short story collection A Stitch in Time was published by Doire Press. Fiction and commentary has been featured in publications across Ireland, the U.K. and more recently in the U.S. Caroline’s work can be found in journals such as Wordlegs,The BohemythShort Story IrelandShort Stop U.K., Five Stop StoryProle, Literary Orphans and the Irish Writers’ Centre Lonely Voice

Her debut Y.A. novel, Blood Entwines was published by Bloomsbury Spark in August 2014 and she is in the process of writing the second book in the series, Blood Betrayal, as well as a short story collection, The House of Water.

She has a fondness for dark chocolate, cups of tea and winter woollies.

(More details can be found on her website www.carolinehealy.com)

Find Ms. Healy here: Web, FacebookTwitterGoodreadsInstagramPinterest

 

We would like to thank everyone who participated in the blog tour! You can see the bloggers’ posts below.

 

Tour Stops

Feb 13: EFC Kickoff (review)

A Good Book Can Change Your View For Life (spotlight, interview)

Feb 14: The Desert Bibliophile (review)

Feb 16: Maureen’s Books (review)

Rainy Thursdays (review)

Feb 17: Glorious Panic (review)

Feb 18: CBY (spotlight)

Sip, Read, Love (review)

Feb 19: Bound4Escape (review)

Feb 20: Second Run Reviews (guest post)

 Daughter of Moonlight (review)

Feb 21: Romantic Escapes (review)

Feb 22: A Page to Turn (review)

Feb 23: Zerina Blossom’s Books (review)

Writing Pearls (spotlight)

Feb 24: Underneath the Covers (spotlight)

Feb 25: The Pages In-Between (review)

March 7: Yetstillshereads book blog (review)

 

Congratulations to at Heather at Romantic Escapes for winning our Host Incentive Reward!

 

 

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Winter Reading Challenge: Sweet Southern Hearts by Susan Schild (spotlight, giveaway)

 

Sweet Southern Hearts
written by Susan Schild
published by Lyrical Press, 2017

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: Susan Schild welcomes you back to the offbeat Southern town of Willow Hill, North Carolina, for a humorous, heartwarming story of new beginnings, do-overs, and self-discovery…

When it comes to marriage, third time’s the charm for Linny Taylor. She’s thrilled to be on her honeymoon with Jack Avery, Willow Hill’s handsome veterinarian. But just like the hair-raising white water rafting trip Jack persuades her to take, newlywed life has plenty of dips and bumps.

Jack’s twelve-year-old son is resisting all Linny’s efforts to be the perfect stepmother, while her own mother, Dottie, begs her to tag along on the first week of a free-wheeling RV adventure. Who knew women “of a certain age” could drum up so much trouble? No sooner is Linny sighing with relief at being back home than she’s helping her frazzled sister with a new baby…and dealing with an unexpected legacy from her late ex. Life is fuller—and richer—than she ever imagined, but if there’s one thing Linny’s learned by now, it’s that there’s always room for another sweet surprise…

This charming and well observed novel about finding the courage to love after loss will make you smile as well as cry more than a few happy tears.  Be prepared for a story of true tenderness, humor, and sometimes nail biting tension. Sweet Southern Hearts delivers all this and more.” –Holly Chamberlin, author of Summer with my Sisters

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Cover Reveal: Plan Cee by Hilary Grossman (spotlight, giveaway)

I’m so excited to reveal the cover for Ms. Grossman’s upcoming release, Plan Cee. I loved Plan Bea (see my review here), and I can’t wait to read this one!

 

 

Plan Cee
written by Hilary Grossman
expected release date: April 10, 2017

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: Would you abandon your present for a second chance at your past?

Cecelia Reynolds has spent most of her life trying to forget the commitment-phobic man who broke her heart. It wasn’t easy, but eventually she did it, or so she thought…

As Cecelia and her husband gather for a friend’s wedding, her perfect world is thrown into complete turmoil. Even though it’s been twenty years since she last laid eyes on Keith Emerson, all it takes is one glance for her to feel emotions she thought were long gone. When Keith ends up officiating the ceremony, she quickly realizes his message of love is directed at her, not the happy couple. But can she believe him?

We live our entire lives thinking we know ourselves. But do we ever really?

As secrets and lies cause Cecelia’s world to spin completely out of control, she is forced to seek advice from the most unlikely ally. In the process, she must confront the demons of her past and the events that shaped her into the woman she is now. Will she finally learn the real meaning of love, friendship, and family?

While this book is a sequel to Plan Bea, it also reads as a standalone.

 

About the author: By day, Hilary Grossman works in the booze biz. By night she hangs out with her “characters.” She has an unhealthy addiction to denim and high heel shoes. She’s been known to walk into walls and fall up stairs. She only eats spicy foods and is obsessed with her cat, Lucy. She loves to find humor in everyday life. She likens life to a game of dodge ball – she tries to keep many balls in the air before they smack her in the face. She lives on Long Island.

Find Ms. Grossman here: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

 

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EFC Promotions Blog Tour Wrap-Up: Faith In Every Footstep by Wesley Banks

 

efc-promotions-blog-tourfaith-in-every-footstep-2

 

faith-in-every-footstep-cover-640x1024Faith in Every Footstep
written by Wesley Banks
published by Chasing Pace Publishing, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonGoodreads

If you would like to review this book, please email us at efcpromotions@gmail.com.

 

About the book – from Goodreads: On the eve of one of mankind’s toughest races, accompanied by thirteen of America’s rarest dog breed, rookie musher Kyle Walker only has one thought in mind: win. Discovered in the lowlands of South Carolina, the Carolina grays have traveled over five thousand miles to face off in the 2003 Yukon Quest. But one dog stands above the rest—King.

When an unexpected storm strikes, Kyle Walker and the reigning champion are forced to turn back. Stranded at the checkpoint, Kyle and his dogs find solace in a young veterinarian with auburn hair and keen green eyes—Jenna Maynor.

In this storm another race is forming, one of an Inuit man racing to save his family. Presented with the choice to help, but at the risk of his and his dogs’ lives, Kyle Walker ventures into the unknown in search of a mom and two young daughters.

The Yukon Quest was founded on the premise that a dog driver and his team should be a self-sufficient unit capable of challenging varied terrain and severe weather. But these conditions may prove to be too much, even for Kyle and King.

wesley-banks-600x800About the author: Wesley Banks was born in 1983 and grew up on the west coast of Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Civil Engineering.  After spending over 7 years building movable bridges from Florida to Washington he decided to focus on his true passion: writing.

Wesley recently moved from Florida to Oregon to get back to the great outdoors that he loves so much. He lives with his wife Lindsey, and his two dogs Linkin and Story. Most of his time these days is spent writing, with as much rock climbing, hiking, or skiing as he can fit in.

Find Mr. Banks here: webblogFacebookTwitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Instagram

 

blog-tourjanuary-9-14-2017

 

We would like to thank everyone who participated in the blog tour! You can see the bloggers’ posts below.

 

TOUR SCHEDULE

Jan 9: EFC Kickoff Post (review, spotlight)

Jan 10: The Pages In-Between (review)

Maureen’s Books (review)

Writing Pearls (spotlight)

Jan 11: Underneath the Covers (spotlight, excerpt)

Jan 12: Books, Dreams, Life (spotlight)

Jan 13: Girl of 1,000 Wonders (review)

Jan 14: Leels Loves Books (review)

CBY (spotlight)

Jan 15: Laura’s Reading (review)

Jan 16: Romantic Escapes (review)

Jan 17: Zerina Blossom’s Books (guest post)

Jan 18: NJKinny’s World of Books and Stuff (review, spotlight, author interview)

Second Run Reviews (guest post)

Jan 19: Book Lover in Florida (spotlight)

Jan 20: Sip, Read, Love (spotlight)

Jan 21: Always a Book to Read (spotlight)

Jan 22: Books, Dreams, Life (review)

Always a Book to Read (review)

Congratulations to at Alecia at CBY for winning our Host Incentive Reward!

 

 

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Blog Tour: Stack a Deck by Sue Duff (spotlight, interview, giveaway)

 

Stack a Deck (Book 4: The Weir Chronicles)
written by Sue Duff
published by Crosswinds Publishing, 2017

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: Ian’s alliance with the rebels brings the wrath of the Pur army crashing down on them, but he is forced to abandon his new allies and travels to Earth’s alternate universe to rescue Rayne.  As Ian combs the strange, desolate planet in search for her, he discovers the true story of the Weir and his connection to Earth’s imminent destruction.

Interview

We’re now on book four in the Weir Chronicles. Can you tell us where readers will find Ian Black in Stack a Deck?

Ian has been forced to turn his back on the Pur Weir and align himself with the rebels to rescue Rayne.  When he travels to Earth’s alternate universe, he finds himself powerless and struggles to survive the dangerous planet while staying one step ahead of Aeros.

Since there may be some readers that haven’t yet read Fade to Black, Masks and Mirrors and Sleight of Hand, can you catch them up on what they’ve missed?

In Fade to Black, the main protagonist and “superhero” is Ian Black. Born the last of the Weir, all hope rests on him to save the planet, but he doesn’t inherit the powers as predicted. Tortured in a last ditch effort to bring his supposed powers to the surface, he escapes and hides among the humans as an illusionist – until a nosy college reporter uncovers his secret. Together, they discover a malevolent Weir who is sucking Earth’s energy and depleting its resources at an alarming rate.

The Weir are a race of magical beings who have served as caretakers of Earth for thousands of years and it is their connection to the planet that keeps what roams above in harmony with the energies that churn below. Unfortunately, they are becoming extinct and as a result, there is an intense rise of natural disasters across the globe. Desperate to save the earth and prevent the end of their race, the Weir turn to modern science to perpetuate themselves. But this philosophy separates their kind into two warring factions – the Pur and the Duach. To keep them from killing each other, and all but guaranteeing their extinction, a Curse is created by the Ancient counsel as a means of keeping them apart. Of course, as you could predict, the Weir soon discover it’s not wise to mess with Mother Nature!

A band of rebels, committed to stopping their mutual enemy, come on the scene in Masks and Mirrors, and give Ian reason to be suspicious as he struggles to uncover what ulterior motive they have for saving Earth.

In the third book, Sleight of Hand, Ian pursues answers in order to stop Earth’s natural disasters and eminent self-destruction, but the rebels have their own agenda and poison him.  Patrick and Rayne search for a cure and in so doing, Rayne ends up on Thrae, Earth’s alternate universe, while Patrick confronts the rebel leaders and learns the truth about the Weir.

What are your initial thoughts when thinking about your book(s)?

I write the way I like to read – short chapters that end with a cliffhanger so you can’t help but turn the page and read just ‘one more chapter.’ I’ve received feedback from individuals, who don’t typically read my genre, but end up loving my books. Others that aren’t big readers have finished my novels in one, two or three sittings!

What kind of research did you have to do for your book / series?

The fourth book was the most challenging of all, because I had to consider the worst future for Earth and ask the “what if” questions.  What if the ozone layer decayed? What if asteroids weren’t destroyed by the outer atmosphere and impacted the early regularly? What if the Earth’s core slowed its rotation and what affect that would have on the planet and to the gravitational pull on the moon? These facts are the basis for how Aeros affected Thrae, and since it ‘used to be’ the mirror image of Earth, I had to apply those results in this novel.

Do any pieces of the book come from personal experience?

When I was a teenager, we took a road trip up the California Coast and spent time in the redwood forests. I thought it was the most breathtaking place on Earth, which is why I have Ian living there in my stories.

What do you hope readers most get out of your book (or the series as a whole)?

Regardless of the naysayers,  believe in yourself and follow your own strengths and path in the world. Ian didn’t develop his powers as the prophecy predicted, and Rayne wasn’t the firstborn male Sar that her father desired. The fact that Ian turned to illusions in order to do what he couldn’t naturally (lack of powers in a magical world) is key to his character.  Tortured for what he had no control over, he discovered and nurtured something that he could control.

I also hope that my readers can accept that science can’t explain everything and embrace the wonders and mysteries in the universe. My favorite line from the first book is, “There will always be magic in the world, as long as we believe in what we don’t understand.”

You also released TICK TOCK, an anthology with six other Colorado authors this past year. How did that come together, and do you have anything planned for 2017?

Our first anthology, TICK TOCK: Seven Tales of Time, was nominated as Best Anthology of 2016 by UTOPIA Con in June, and we also won the silver medal for Best Anthology of 2016 and the gold medal for Best Book Cover through Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards in August! Our next anthology is based on short stories inspired by our favorite song.  In addition, we opened the second book up to submissions and received more than 45 from all over the world! After the marathon readings and critiques, we chose two that stood out above the rest and we’re excited to include them in the second anthology, releasing this spring.

So after working both solo and in tandem with other authors on a project, do you have a favorite method of writing?

There are pros to doing both!  I love my Wicked Ink team and we do so much to support each other.  It can be daunting to self-publish a novel, but with having a team, the burden can be shared by all – which makes it easier.  But…I also love writing on my own, because the final decisions and content are solely mine and I don’t feel so stressed by deadlines – albeit the ones I put on myself.  But truly, I have the best of both worlds!

 

 

“A stunning debut with a thrilling mix of sci-fi and fantasy. Duff has a real hit on her hands.” ~ Roxanne Kade, blogger at Therian

“I recommend this to anyone who loves a good Sci-fi esque, fantasy, dystopian, secret-war-going-on-behind-the-human’s-backs-and-right-under-their-noses sort of book.” ~ Jaay V, blogger at Reckless Indulgence

“This is one series that I recommend to readers of fantasy and paranormal romances.  It just keeps getting better and better. Just when you think you might know what’s going on, there are new twists that get added in.” ~ Jessica Bronder, blogger at J Bronder Book Reviews

 

 

Catch up on the series by reading Fade to BlackMasks and Mirrors, and Sleight of Hand!

Love Audiobooks? You can also listen to Fade to Black through Audible.

 

 

Want more? Join The Weir Chronicles Fan List for exciting news and updates on special events, giveaways and upcoming books in the series!

 

 

About the author: Sue Duff has dreamed of dragons and spaceships before she could even read, so it’s only natural that she now combines both fantasy and science fiction as her favorite genre.  Having written since high school, Duff never took it seriously until a skiing accident laid her up for an entire summer and she turned on the word processor to combat the boredom.

A few years later, her first urban fantasy novel, Fade to Black, was one of five finalists in the RMFW Colorado Gold Writing Contest. Duff’s writing has also earned her a PEN Award, a nomination for 2015-2016 RMFW Independent Writer of the Year, three consecutive years as a featured panelist at Denver ComicCon and a coveted spot on the Denver Post Bestseller list.

She is the second oldest of six girls with an avid reader mom and her dad, the family’s single drop of testosterone in a sea of estrogen.

By day, Duff is a dedicated speech-language therapist at an inner city school district, a career she pursued much in part to her aunt who got her hooked on stories of the profession when Duff was younger. She is passionate about the work she does and regularly works to help those students that need it the most.

Sue is a member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and The Pikes Peak Writers. She calls Colorado home and when not saving the world one page at a time, she can be found walking her great dane, getting her hands dirty in her garden, or creating something delicious in her kitchen.

Check out her blog, A Cook’s Guide to Writing and other musings on her website.

 

Find Ms. Duff here: Official WebsiteFacebookTwitterGoodreadsInstagramLinkedInNewsletterAmazon

 

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Fall Reading Challenge: The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell (spotlight)

 

 

The Madwoman Upstairs
written by Catherine Lowell
published by Touchstone, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & NobleAmazoniBooks, TargetBook Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: In this smart and enthralling debut in the spirit of The Weird Sisters and Special Topics in Calamity Physics, the only remaining descendant of the Brontë family embarks on a modern-day literary scavenger hunt to find the family’s long-rumored secret estate, using clues her eccentric father left behind.

Samantha Whipple is used to stirring up speculation wherever she goes. As the last remaining descendant of the Brontë family, she’s rumored to have inherited a vital, mysterious portion of the Brontë’s literary estate; diaries, paintings, letters, and early novel drafts; a hidden fortune that’s never been shown outside of the family.

But Samantha has never seen this rumored estate, and as far as she knows, it doesn’t exist. She has no interest in acknowledging what the rest of the world has come to find so irresistible; namely, the sudden and untimely death of her eccentric father, or the cryptic estate he has bequeathed to her.

But everything changes when Samantha enrolls at Oxford University and bits and pieces of her past start mysteriously arriving at her doorstep, beginning with an old novel annotated in her father’s handwriting. As more and more bizarre clues arrive, Samantha soon realizes that her father has left her an elaborate scavenger hunt using the world’s greatest literature. With the aid of a handsome and elusive Oxford professor, Samantha must plunge into a vast literary mystery and an untold family legacy, one that can only be solved by decoding the clues hidden within the Brontë’s own writing.

A fast-paced adventure from start to finish, this vibrant and original novel is a moving exploration of what it means when the greatest truth is, in fact, fiction.

 

Catherine Lowell

About the author: Catherine Lowell is writer of novels, letters, and the occasional limerick. She received her degree in English literature from Stanford University, where her academic interests were inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s observation: “There is creative reading as well as creative writing.” The Madwoman Upstairs owes its existence to a fierce love of the Brontës, a terrible bout of insomnia, and the kind hospitality of many Manhattan coffee shops.

Catherine’s passions include reading obscure books about Ancient Greece and testing out hot chocolates. She’s a great believer in the power of stories to change history and if you have a few hours she will happily tell you far too much on the subject. She tries her best to live by the following two quotes:

” We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly.” (Aristotle) 

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” (Robin Williams)

Find Ms. Lowell here: Web, Goodreads

 

 

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