Blitz: ‘How to Save a Life’ by the wonderful Lauren K. McKellar

I am super-excited to be taking part in the blitz for How to Save a Life by Lauren K. McKellar. This woman is one of my rocks in the writing community; she’s also incredibly, incredibly talented and has made me cry on more than one occasion. (Because of her writing, not because she’s been mean or whatever. I don’t think she has a mean bone in her body.) I’ve read a couple of excerpts from How to Save a Life now, and I’ve already laid in a stock of tissues in preparation for when I get my grabby hands on this book. Which, by the time this post goes live, I will have.

I’M NOT JOKING.

If that’s not enough of a recommendation, then there’s also a giveaway if you scroll to the bottom of the post. :)

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Title: How To Save A Life
Series: Emerald Cove #1
Author: Lauren K. McKellar
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Release Date: 21 July 2015

Life is not a love song …

I learnt the hard way that labels stick. Laura took “lovely”, and the teacher branded me “lady-like”.

It stuck with me, even through my high school years. It felt like that was all I’d ever be.

Until everything changed.

Lonely Lia.
Little Lia.
Lia the liar.
Lia the lost …

Now the choices are endless. But I don’t want to be any of those either.

My name is Lia Stanton. And this is my story.

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How to Save a Life

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Excerpt

She walks up the stairs, and straight away my heart leaps from my chest, beating a staccato that raps into my throat, the pulse point at my wrist, all throughout my body. I go from steady to strung-out in the blink of an eye.

“Mum,” I call, and this time on the staircase, she spins around.

“Yes?” She frowns.

Don’t go up there,

I try to say the words, but my stupid voice won’t work. My mouth moves, but no sound comes out, and Mum tilts her head to the side. “Lia …”

Don’t!

I try to scream so loud my lungs hurt, and still, nothing.

Don’t go into your bedroom.

You can’t see that.

It will ruin you.

“Lia, you’re normally such a sensible girl.” She sighs and turns her back, then walks up the stairs again.

My voice mightn’t work but my feet do, and I charge after her, leaping up those stairs two at a time. She floats down the hall toward their room, and I run, run as fast as I can, and grab onto her shoulder just as she tightens her grip on the door.

“Lia, will you drop it?” She turns to face me. “I’m just going to see if your father is home. What harm could I possibly do?”

My stupid voice is without once again, and as I try to yell at her, to tell her that no, she shouldn’t go in there, that seeing what’s behind that door will destroy her—

She twists the handle.

She opens the door.

And she screams.

And straight away I’m back on the couch, hearing that blood-curdling noise that chills me to my very bones, that signifies the start of the end of life as I know it. I race up the stairs to try help her, to try and make it stop, but when I get there she has collapsed in the hall.

She’s broken.

And nothing I try to do will fix that.

Giveaway

Enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

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Author bio

Lauren K. McKellar is the author of romance reads that make you feel. She lives by the beach in Australia with her husband and their two dogs. Most of the time, all three of them are well behaved.

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Lauren McKellar


I finished writing a book, you guys

I had an amazingly productive week last week. It turns out all I need to have happen in order for me to get things done is:

a) have a medical treatment that means I feel fine but can’t be around people because I am slightly radioactive, and

b) send my son to his father’s place interstate for a week (see a, above).

Lead container

This is what a lead container holding a radioactive tablet looks like. Note the gloves. #TwoByTwoHandsOfBlue

I had my expensive tablet on Tuesday of last week and went home to my silent house. There, I spent all day continuing to work on my edits for Lucid Dreaming, finishing them by dinnertime. (If you need an editor for an indie project, I can strongly recommend Lauren K. McKellar.)

The next day, I cracked open my work in progress, the fantasy inspired by Ancient Greece, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned here before. I was only a few chapters from the end, so I wrote … and wrote … and wrote… By the weekend, when I collected my son, I had 12k words down, with only a couple thousand left needed to finish the book.

I wrote those couple thousand on Monday night this week.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you’ll have seen me getting all giddy about it. Because although the draft is — like all first drafts — as rough as guts, and there are a couple of niggling plot holes I have to fix before I do anything else, it’s DONE! And that is the best feeling, because you can’t edit nothing. And because I am a super-slow writer, and the fact I’ve managed to finish five novels is just OMG wow, you guys.

Happy pointing

This was me, basically. Only with more glasses and less bow tie. #BowTiesAreCool

I started this project in October last year, around the same time Isla’s Inheritance came out. It was always a challenging project for me, because I’ve only ever written urban fantasy before, and I found fantasy a lot more difficult due to the world-building required. (That’s why I put off writing it for over a year.) But I attribute more of the delay to the fact I released two books after I started drafting — editing and promotion are time-consuming — and wrote two novellas for different projects as well.

The book doesn’t yet have a name; it’s working title was (wait for it) “Greek Fantasy”. I am a freaking legend at naming things! It’s currently 92k words, making it the longest first draft I’ve ever done.

The plan from here is to proofread Lucid Dreaming so I can give it to the formatter, and then I will read over Greek Fantasy and tidy it up for my critique partners. And then I will start the sequel to Lucid Dreaming, which also doesn’t have a name yet.

(send help)


The Last Six Books I Got my Grubby Mitts On

toptentuesday_recolour

It’s been a while since I did a Top Ten Tuesday, and since the last one I’ve changed my blog’s colour scheme. So I decided to recolour the logo to suit. I hope that’s okay, Broke and Bookish folks!

Just a reminder of what this is — Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish blog hop where book nerds get to blog about books! In lists! It’s totally awesome. :) This week’s theme is “Last Ten Books That Came Into My Possession (bought, library, review copies)”. With one exception, I bought these books … because I have a credit card and poor impulse control. But I’m only listing six books, because I can’t remember which ones were seven through ten and I’d hate to mislead you, dear reader.

One: Secret Garden by Johanna Basford

Okay, this one’s a colouring book, not a novel, but the question wasn’t specific. I actually bought it for a friend’s birthday, and then discovered she’d just ordered herself a copy. (Why do people do that?!) So I decided to keep it for myself. I’ve been home sick this last week, and I’ve spent a lot of time colouring. Lots of fun!

The Secret Garden

Two: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

The Book Depository sent me an email a few weeks ago, promoting some books they had on sale. I’ve been curious about this series, so I figured, why not? (I have a problem; I know!)

Throne of Glass

Three: Hit by Delilah S. Dawson

Bought it, read it, loved it. I also adore that cover. It’s a credit card with a very sensible piece of advice in the byline: “always read the fine print”.

Hit

Four & five: Atlanta Burns and Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig

I think I bought these on the same order as Throne of Glass (and they weren’t on sale … shh). I haven’t had a chance to read them yet, but based on the Wendig books I have read, I have no doubt that photographing them with a Tigger pillow is just about the most inappropriate combination ever. But I like the way he brings out the colours, so nyah!

Why do I own a Tigger pillow? It was a Christmas present from my then-four-year-old son.

Atlanta Burns Empyrian Sky Chuck Wendig

Six: Keir by Pippa Jay

The new copy of Keir is the one on the left; I already owned the one on the right. It was recently re-released with a new, even more gorgeous cover, and while I was chatting to Pippa on Twitter I expressed a little bit of cover envy. Her response was to send me a copy of the new edition as well. Isn’t she the best? (Seriously, go follow her. And if you like sci-fi romance, read her books too!)

Keir

So those are my six. Have you read/coloured any of them? And what’s the most recent book you acquired? Let me know in the comments!


Snazzy Snippets: Excerpts From My November Release

Copy-of-Snippets-image

Two wonderful bloggers, Emily and Alyssa, have started a new blog link-up where writers can share snippets from one of their works. To quote from Emily’s post, “It’s an opportunity for writers! Every two months, we post a prompt or question for you to share a snippet of less than 500 words. It’s designed to let you have fun, analyse your work on a smaller level, or just write something to join in.”

So because I finished the main edits on Lucid Dreaming on Tuesday, I’ve decided to share some of that with you. I love this story, you guys, and Melaina, the main character, is all kinds of awesome.

Snippet number one: A snippet that shows your MC’s personality

He spoke in a rush, as though that would make it less embarrassing. “I’ve been having these recurring nightmares, and I tried sleeping tablets but then I couldn’t wake up, which was worse, and the doctor referred me to a psychologist, but I rang them and they said it could be months before I get in.” The lamplight flashed off the lenses of his glasses, partially obscuring his bloodshot eyes. Fatigue lined his face. I guessed he was in his mid-twenties, a little older than my twenty-one, but it was hard to tell. “Honestly, I’m desperate.”

“I can see that,” I said. Despite my attempt to soften my tone, he bristled. I cringed inside. I didn’t have enough customers that I could afford to drive them off. “Look, Larry, I get it. You don’t really believe I can help you. You wouldn’t be the first customer to feel that way. So I’ll tell you what—if I can’t do anything for you, the appointment’s free.”

He blinked brown eyes that would have been nice, if the whites hadn’t been spider-webbed with veins. He was clearly trying to figure out the catch.

“Scout’s honour,” I added. Or Girl Scouts. Whatever. “What have you got to lose?”

“Nothing, I guess.” His fingers worried at the fringe of the orange throw rug where it hung over the arm of the chair. “Okay, what do I do?”

“The first thing I need you to do is relax. Would you like a cup of herbal tea?” He looked as if I’d offered him a ferret in a sock, eyebrows shooting towards his hairline. It was the most animated expression I’d seen from him yet. “It’s my own blend. Lavender and chamomile, and a few other things. Nothing illegal or dodgy. It’ll help you relax.”

“Okay. I guess.”

The pot was already brewing on top of the freestanding drawers in which I stored my minimal tools of the trade. Candles. Essential oils. A rainbow of small crystals Serenity had given me as a “rentiversary” present. A half-eaten bag of individually wrapped caramels. Herbs in little bags, neatly labelled with stickers. A few CDs of the sort you’d expect: rainforest noises, the ocean, whale song.

All flimflammery, of course. Except the caramels.

Snippet number two: A snippet featuring the villain

There are a few different options here, and some of them are spoiler-y, so I’ve elected to go with a non-spoiler-y one, from later in the same chapter as the above excerpt.

I closed my eyes and looked into Larry’s dreams.

I was expecting to find a tortured psyche, an aspect of his subconscious manifesting itself there. Daddy or mummy issues, arachnophobia, anxiety, even garden-variety stress: I’d seen them all at one point or another. I couldn’t fix his psychological issues, but I could put a temporary block on his dreams until his doctor’s referral came good.

That was what it usually was.

What I found was a thing.

It was an amorphous black cloud about the size of my torso. Greasy as a burger shop floor, it had yellowing eyes and writhing tentacles … if tentacles could be covered with fine hair and worm into your skin like something from a bad horror movie.

I’d seen manifestations of people’s nightmares before, more times than I could count. But this wasn’t part of Larry. It was an interloper — a blight.

“Hello,” I said.

The blight hissed like a feral cat over a broken-backed lizard that wasn’t quite dead. Around us, the dreamscape resolved into a rolling hillside, distinctly Australian in its gentle undulations. No sharp-edged peaks here. The grass underfoot was withered, not by the summer sun but by the blight’s corruption. A single eucalypt wept tears of black sap. Clouds loomed, obscuring the vast sky.

I wouldn’t have picked Larry for the rural landscape type. Sometimes you can never tell.

I stared. “You’re an ugly little grease-ball, aren’t you?”

The blight’s eyes were flat, uncomprehending and angry. I wasn’t going to be able to goad it into letting go. And I didn’t want to attack it while those tentacles were embedded in the reddish dirt beneath the tree. What if one of them tore off? That could result in residual badness for Larry, like leaving a bee sting under the skin to spit toxins long after the bee has died.

Still, the blight was only small. I could take it.

Snippet number three: A snippet that’s mostly dialogue

I don’t think I have any that are mostly dialogue, John Green-style, but this one at least has a decent amount. Context: It’s from the next chapter. Melaina’s mother is in a nursing home, and Ewan is one of the nurses that works there.

Ewan stepped back. When he spoke, his tone was reassuring. “She really is doing well.”

“Compared to what?” I asked, my voice sharp. If Mum were awake she’d chide me.

Ewan didn’t take my bad mood personally. “Compared to my other sleeper.”

There was an old man in the home who slept twenty-four hours a day. Was that technically a coma? I had no idea, but the nurse’s comment made me feel ungrateful. At least I got to talk to Mum sometimes. If I timed it right.

Oblivious to my thoughts, Ewan continued, “Her physical fitness is pretty good for someone as inactive as she is, although I admit she still gets exhausted easily. But she’s staying awake an hour or so longer a day than she was six months ago.”

“Really?” That surprised me.

He nodded, making a note on a chart that had been tucked discreetly underneath a small pile of magazines on the tiny table. “Yup. Doctor Willis didn’t mention it?”

“Nope. But he doesn’t work for me, does he?”

“Well, no, I guess he doesn’t,” Ewan said.

Something about his tone made me frown at him. “Is there anything else the doctor isn’t telling me?”

Glancing at me, Ewan put the chart down and crossed to the door, closing it. The jingling from the TV down the hall fell mercifully silent. He folded his arms across his chest, his gaze weighing me up. I tried to smile but nerves jangled in my stomach, making the expression feel forced. So I gave up and scowled. “Spill.”

“Doctor Willis has been talking to your uncle about drug treatments,” Ewan said slowly. “He was surprised they hadn’t been tried before. When I overheard them, they were talking about antidepressants.”

“They haven’t been tried because she doesn’t want them,” I said.

I know that and you know that.” Ewan pointed from himself to me and then shrugged.

“Uncle Ian has power of attorney over her.” I clenched and unclenched my fists, the beginning of a headache pinching at my temples. “Has he authorised it yet?”

“No. And he can’t, unless she grants him enduring power of attorney, which I understand she hasn’t. Her medical treatments are still her decision.”

“Good.”

“But he can put a lot of pressure on her to agree.”

I must have looked determined or pissed off—probably both—because Ewan shifted from foot to foot. “Uh, hey, you didn’t hear any of this from me, okay? I could lose my job if they find out I discussed confidential information with you.”

So those are my snippets. If you want to take part, you can link your post so others can see it — just scroll to the bottom of this post and you’ll find the linky list there. (Sorry, I’m not sure how to link to it independently.) You can also paste the link in the comments below so I can go check it out.

And if you liked the sound of these excerpts and are a Goodreads user, you can add Lucid Dreaming to your TBR shelf here.

You know, if you want to.

No pressure. :p

Lucid Dreaming banner


Writing prompts

Cassandra Page:

Today I’m over at Aussie Owned and Read, talking about writing prompts – two-to-three-sentence ideas to get your imagination firing and your fingers flying over the keyboard. (Or your pen waggling, if that’s more your thing.) Please drop by , say hi, and join in the conversation! :)

Originally posted on Aussie Writers:

As I blogged about a couple of months ago, I’m a big Pinterest user. I have almost 2000 pins, and Pinterest has started suggesting pins I might like based on my boards. I think it might also be based on what I’ve pinned recently, which can end up in a spiral of me pinning what they suggest, so they suggest more of it … but since most of that is either Doctor Who or Firefly, I don’t mind too much. ;)

Disclaimer: Loki belongs to the Marvel franchise and I make no claim to own him. Although, let's be honest, I would if I could. Disclaimer: Loki belongs to the Marvel franchise and I do not claim to own him. Although, let’s be honest, I would if I could.

One of my boards is on writing. Originally it was just funny writing quotes, including motivational posters, but recently I’ve expanded the definition to include the occasional inspirational quote.

But most of what Pinterest suggests for this particular board are actually writing prompts, which got me to…

View original 304 more words


Trailer, excerpt and giveaway: ‘Deceptive Cadence’ by Katie Hamstead

Deceptive Cadence Blog Tour

Cadence Anderson has the perfect definition of happily ever after . . .

Until she doesn’t. A freak earthquake shatters her life as surely as her home, taking away everything she holds dear. She wakes in a hospital to find that her beloved husband and infant daughter have been killed, crushed by the earthquake’s wrath. Disoriented, injured, and alone, Cadence refuses to accept the loss. So when a man claiming to be her guardian angel appears and offers her a chance to go back in time to save her family, she doesn’t need to give it a second thought. She accepts.

Thrust back eleven years, she now faces the ordeal of high school all over again. But this time, she’s armed with all the knowledge of her adult life and the determined to do everything better, from preventing the loss of her best friend to avoiding her original, drama-inducing boyfriends. She’s focused solely on Austin, her future husband, and is content to bide her time until she meets him again.

But then James Gordon crosses her path. Cadence wants to remain single, but James has his sights set. He is determined to win her over, and he’s very hard to resist. As Cadence starts to develop unwanted feelings for him, she realizes he threatens to disrupt everything, changing the future and distracting her from her original goal. Now, Cadence must choose: deny the unpredictable and exciting path James offers her, or stay true to the life she had and is trying desperately to resurrect. Second chances are more complicated than they seem.

Deceptive Cadence combines the soaring emotion of a heartfelt romance with the innovative storytelling of magical realism, crafting a uniquely moving, intricate tale about love and loss that asks: what would you do if given the chance to right all your wrongs?

Add on Goodreads

deceptive-cadence-reveal

Giveaway

Enter to win a great bookish bundle!


Excerpt

A steady beep brought me out of unconsciousness. My eyes felt heavy. I struggled to open them. The distinct aroma of cleaning products hung in the air. My brain switched on as I realized where I was and forced my eyes open. The beeping sped up. White walls encircled me in the hospital room; directly across from me was a closed bathroom door. I was completely alone. Where was my family? My husband? My baby daughter?

I tried to sit up, but my whole body writhed with pain. I moaned, and a second later, a nurse dressed in aqua scrubs burst into the room.

“It’s all right. Just don’t move,” she said in a soothing voice.

I wanted to ask a million questions, but I couldn’t form any words. She gently pressed me back onto the bed and checked me over. I watched her; she seemed to avoid looking directly into my eyes. As I followed her movements, I became aware of the cast on my arm. My right leg was bound and raised in a sling, and I appeared to have large bolts sticking out of my thigh.

“What happened?” I finally managed to utter.

The nurse slowed. “You have a fractured femur, ulna, and radius. You also sustained substantial head trauma, which is why you’ve been unconscious for the past few days.”

“Few days?” I groaned. “What day is it?”

“Thursday.”

“But how? The last thing I remember was . . . was . . .”

I didn’t actually know. Monday was a haze. I’d come home from university and found my husband, Austin, had cooked dinner, and our eighteen-month-old daughter, Melody, was bathed and in her pajamas. I’d been so surprised. I kissed him, his dark scruff tickling my nose, and felt as if I’d never be happier. We’d sat and eaten together, enjoying our family time. Our little Melody rambled about this and that, while Austin told me about his day.

“There was an earthquake,” the nurse said.

I snapped back into focus. “But we don’t live near a fault line.”

The nurse dropped her gaze. “It was an accident. Your leg was crushed under a ceiling beam, and your arm broke when you hit the floor.”

“When I hit the floor?”

“You were found wedged between your bed and the collapsed wall and roof.”

I tried to remember. Austin and I had put Melody to bed at her normal time, and a few hours later, we’d gone to bed. How had I ended up on the floor? I rubbed my forehead.

“Where’s my family?”

“Your parents arrived yesterday,” she answered.

“My parents?” I lived a long way from my parents, clear across the country, in Perth. For them to come last minute like that . . .

“Where’s my husband?”

The nurse didn’t answer.

“Where’s my daughter?” My voice rose.

Again, no answer.

The beeping sped up. “Where are they?”

A doctor—wearing a white coat and carrying a clipboard—entered the room, my parents right behind him. Mum rushed forward and grabbed my hand. I felt sick. Before the doctor even said it, I knew what had happened.

“Your husband was found holding your daughter in her room. We believe it was fast . . .”

I couldn’t hear any more. My ears buzzed. My heart ached.

“No.” I pulled my hand free. “No! I don’t believe it!”

“Cadence, honey,” Mum said as tears streamed down her face. “Austin is gone. He died trying to protect you and Melody.”

“Melody! Where’s Melody?”

Mum sobbed uncontrollably. Dad stepped forward to grab her shoulders.

“I’m sorry, Cadence.”

I gasped, feeling as if my heart had been ripped from my chest. “No! I don’t believe you! I’m dreaming. This has to be a dream. It can’t be real.” I closed my eyes tightly. “Wake up, Cadence, just wake up.”

Mum’s hand squeezed my arm as she continued to sob. But I couldn’t wake up from it. It was all real.

My eyes shot open, and I threw up. The nurse rushed to clean me, but I shoved her away. The beeping from the heart monitor increased.

“Cadence.” Mum grasped my shoulder. “Breathe, honey.”

“No, no!” I pushed her away, trying to pull free of my restraints. “I don’t believe it. I want to see them, now.”

“Nurse,” the doctor said firmly.

The nurse grabbed my drip, and the next thing I knew, the world became hazy.

About Katie Hamstead

Katie TellerBorn and raised in Australia, Katie’s early years of day dreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.

After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dogs.

She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing. Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports and be a good wife and mother. She now works as an Acquisitions Editor to help support her family. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.

Find Katie Hamstead on Twitter, Facebook, and her website.


The Anatomy of a Grammar Nerd

So when Grammarly emailed me about something called the Anatomy of a Grammar nerd, I thought they’d be talking about how we have dictionaries for brains or pain receptors triggered by dangling modifiers. But no, apparently that was me being literal.

Who’d have thought?

Anyway. I’m a little too old to be a grammar nerd, apparently — although the age range might have more to do with the fact these stats were derived from Facebook users’ profiles, and maybe those who aren’t in the 18-24 age range tend to hide their year of birth. ;)

As for the Oxford comma, I’m agnostic on the issue. I don’t think it’s necessary to use them all the time, but I will use one when to do otherwise would cause confusion. As for semicolons, they are my favourite and my best.

How do you compare to the infographic?

Anatomy of a Grammar Nerd Infographic

Posted with permission from Grammarly


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