Last night I went to the book launch party for A Hand of Knaves, the short story anthology that features a story of mine called “The Best Heist Yet”. I confess I was feeling a little nervous — my imposter syndrome was registering off the charts, and I didn’t know anyone there (except my bestie, who came along for moral support and took some pics for me — thanks, mate!).
I felt better when we first arrived and found the dealers room, where people were selling books they had written. I picked up the third book in the Antipodean Queen series (I reviewed the first one here if you want to check it out) and another that the author described as a sci-fi murder mystery. Whee!
I didn’t have to worry about the launch either — it was a lot of fun and everyone was lovely. There were three readings (which were amazing and didn’t help with the imposter syndrome any), plus champagne (which offset the effect of the readings). And I got to sign ALL THE BOOKS.
It was a ton of fun, and made me wonder why I haven’t done this sooner — all of my book launches for my own books have been strictly online affairs. It also drove home that I really should join the local author community and, you know, get out of the house more. I’ll definitely look into that.
After I finish this next book I’m reading. 😉
Rogues, thieves, pirates and ne’er-do-wells abound in speculative fiction. Sometimes heroic, sometimes villainous, often somewhere in between, rogues are as likely to steal one’s heart as one’s purse, and show little remorse while helping themselves to either.
So why do we love them? Because they’re imperfect, fallible, and even vulnerable under that carefully-maintained, world-weary exterior.
Rogues represent something we rarely see in our daily lives: ordinary people prepared to take on the “powers that be” by way of guile and subterfuge. But are they only in it for the loot, or are they–deep down–romantic at heart?
It’s always exciting and nerve-racking (nervousciting?) releasing a book into the world — even a novella. For those that have missed me going on about it, Guardian Angel is an urban fantasy set in Sydney, featuring a handsome movie star lead, his friends, and his impossibly perfect new fiance. You can read an extract from the story here.
Guardian Angel is both a new project and an old one. It first began its life in about 2004, when I began to experiment with longer-form fiction — until that point, I hadn’t had the stamina for anything beyond a few thousand words. (The original draft was about 15,000 words, and I was incredibly proud of myself at the time; of course, when I sat down at the end of last year to revisit and re-draft the story, it ended up at around 20,000 without me even trying. What can I say? I talk a lot more than I used to!)
Even though Guardian Angel is shorter than one of my novels, I have sought to give it the same care and attention as one of them — which means …
My obligatory thank you speech
Thanks to those who read the original version of Guardian Angel what feels like a thousand years ago now. Becca, I’m still waiting to see you publish — or self-publish — something of your own. You can do it. I believe in you! And thanks to Craig, who read the revised version of this story and helped me make it even better. You’re the bestest bestie a girl could ever want.
Also, thank you, love and cupcakes to my wonderful editor, Lauren Clarke, who asks all the hardest questions, spots even the tiniest inconsistencies, and only made me cry a little bit. (Kidding!) You’re worth your weight in gold, lady. And the cover is brought to you by the very clever Kim from KILA Designs; if you’re looking for an ebook or paperback design, you can find her on Facebook.
Thank you, as always, to my friends and family for putting up with my frequent absences and blank stares, for feeding me coffee and Bad Chicken, and for playing board games and keeping me sane: Mum, Dad, Kristy, Ali, Craig, Karen and Cassandra.
And finally, thank you to my son, who is now almost nine (wut?!). You make me laugh when I’m sad, amaze me with your quick-wittedness, and fill our house with love and wonder. Also, just so you know, little in this world makes me happier — or more conflicted — than when you beg to read “just one more chapter” at bedtime. I hope you never lose that passion for reading.
To celebrate the release of Guardian Angel, I’m giving away a $20 Amazon voucher. To enter, click the link below and perform any (or all) of the actions to score entries. The competition closes on 25 May.
Can her light hold back the night?
There are two things actor Jordan Woodrow always swore were true: that there was no such thing as love at first sight, and that he could never love a fangirl. But after he met Brianna at a convention, everything changed.
Now, hallucinations creep at the edge of his days and nightmares scuttle through his sleep, and only Brianna can keep them at bay. When she is with him, everything is fine. No, it’s better than fine—it’s perfect.
Why can’t his family and friends see that?
P.S. A sneaky announcement
As well as working on Guardian Angel, I had another project on the go. Also a novella, this one comes out on 5 May — so next Saturday — and will be released under my Tammy Calder pen name. Please note that Tammy writes erotica*, so, unlike Guardian Angel, this link is for adults only. Not for kids. And definitely not for my mother. (Hi, Mum!)
Now that you’ve been warned, here is the link for more information on Tammy’s books. Possessed: His Ghostly Game, an urban fantasy ghost erotica, has been out for a few years, and Kiss of the Succubus, a high fantasy erotica, is now available for pre-order.
* Yes, I refer to my erotica pen name in the third person. Shush.
It’s here! It’s here! False Awakening, the second and final book in the Lucid Dreaming duology, releases today. The buzz of releasing a book never gets old, and I’m especially excited to be able to share this story with you as Melaina is my favourite leading lady so far (don’t tell Isla). I’m going to miss the sound of her not-so-delicate footfalls as she stomps her way through my imagination. She’s left some big boots to fill.
Before we get to the excerpt-y goodies, I’m going to be self-indulgent and say a few thank yous. Feel free to scroll right on past if the sight of an author blubbering on screen bothers you. :p
Firstly, let me fire the party cannon for my excellent support team. Stacey Nash, Kim Last and Craig Lawrie, who read the drafts in various states and gave me valuable advice and encouragement—thank you. I adore you all. Group hugs! Also, thank you to my wonderful editor, Lauren Clarke, who has an eye for plot holes, asks all the hardest questions and spots even the tiniest errors. Seriously, you guys—she noticed that an apostrophe was the wrong font. An apostrophe. She is truly my people.
The cover is brought to you by the aforementioned Kim. She has done all my book covers to date; her eye for design and her talent for turning my bumbling suggestions into something beautiful leave me constantly in awe. If you’re in need of a cover designer, look up ‘KILA Designs’ on Facebook.
Thank you to my friends and family for putting up with my inattention and vacant looks, for letting me rant over Messenger, and for waving pompoms most enthusiastically: Mum, Dad, Kristy, Ali, Craig, Karen, Cassandra, the BC09 girls (especially Nicole, Isla’s biggest fan!) and the AOR girls.
And finally, as always, thank you to my son, Nathaniel. There is more laughter in my life when you are with me.
Summary from Goodreads
How can you fight your nightmares when they’re real?
Melaina, half-human dream therapist, just wants her life to return to normal. Yes, her Oneiroi father is in prison and, yes, the place she worked burned down, but she has a cute boyfriend and a new house. She beat the bad guy. She’s earned a break. Right?
Unfortunately for Melaina, people are still getting possessed by nightmare spirits; the police are investigating her past; and the bad guy’s brother, the Morpheus himself, is coming to town to demand answers. When a deranged ex-nurse checks himself out of hospital on the same day her cousin runs away from home, Melaina is dragged into a fight not just for her life but for her soul.
Createspace | Amazon (coming soon)
Enter for a chance to win:
* A $20 Amazon gift card
* One of five ebooks of Lucid Dreaming (book one)
Leander studied me from the other side of the trolley. I could see the shadows of fatigue under his eyes, which shocked me. Leander never looked tired. Cocky and self-assured? Yes. But tired? No. Not even when Ikelos had bound him with barbed wire. Despite his relaxed manner, increasing the hold of Daniel’s memory over the dream and destroying so many blights was draining him. And he was too proud to admit it.
I clenched my jaw and took a breath. I’d wanted to look for matches and maybe some reams of paper, but we didn’t have time. Another blight was about to hatch. “Alright.” I pulled several packets of nails down and tossed them onto the top of the trolley with a sick feeling. I’d seen enough news stories to know real-world lunatics packed their bombs with shards, to cause additional damage. “Can you get this up there, and then explode it?” I glanced at the nails. “From a d—”
The floor erupted beneath us.
Tentacles, each as thick as one of Leander’s well-muscled thighs, smashed through the floor. The blight hadn’t been as helpless as I’d assumed … and corruption hadn’t been the only thing it had been spreading. My cheek burned as a shard of floor tile sliced it, blood welling. The trolley tipped and I ignored the pain, lunging forward to steady it before its contents spilled into the sticky darkness below. Leander leaned over and gripped the frame, placing one hand on either side, his fingers brushing against mine as I let go. His grim gaze held mine for a moment, and then his wings pumped. Air washed over me as he lifted the overstuffed trolley into the air, towards the central body mass of the blight.
For a second I felt relief as he carried the improvised bomb above the thrashing tentacles. Then one of those tentacles slid around my waist, barbs as long as my palm tearing through the scorched armour of my motorcycle leathers. I gasped and prised at them with bare hands, trying to wiggle free but succeeding only in cutting my palms. Above me, the muscles in Leander’s back worked as he strained to haul the trolley upwards, ignoring the now-free baby blight buzzing around him like an oversized mosquito. He was dragging the bomb up there with brute force. Pain caused my vision to blur, but not before I realised he was going to ignite the trolley’s contents while he was holding it. The damned fool Oneiroi had no idea what would happen.
The tentacle dragged me towards the jagged hole in the floor. I didn’t look down, not wanting to see what awaited me. The wet smacking sound and the putrid smell were bad enough. Sweat beaded on my brow and I set my jaw against the pain, blinking to clear my vision, staring up at Leander.
He drove the end of the trolley into the breeder blight’s wet mass, leaning against the handle to brace it there as he conjured a spark in one hand.
The spark descended towards the makeshift bomb.
I cried out, using the last of my energy to fling a shield, a wall of force, between Leander and the trolley.
Fire and exploding chunks of meat raining down around me. My vision blackened, and I tumbled out of the dream.
For another excerpt, see this post from May.
Today I was honoured to introduce Sharon M. Johnston, networking queen and fellow Aussie Owned book blogger, at the launch of her new release, Shattered.
Shattered is book two in Open Heart, a modern day sci-fi/superhero young adult series set in Brisbane, Australia. I originally reviewed the first book, Divided, when it was released under a different name. Still, I just re-read it this week and the review is still valid if you want to investigate.
Now, those who know me will know that I am kinda sorta terrified of public speaking. But I managed to squeak my way through introducing Sharon and didn’t faint or anything, so I call that a win. (She, on the other hand, did brilliantly!)
You can find Sharon’s books on Amazon if you want to investigate further. As part of a launch day deal, Shattered is currently 99 cents (US).
DIVIDED: AN OPEN HEART NOVEL
Sharon M. Johnston
Publication Date: November 24 2015
New Adult Science Fiction Romance
A new heart should mean new life, instead it’s a living nightmare.
Mishca Richardson’s life is at an all-time high after her heart transplant. With new boyfriend, Ryder, she has the perfect summer romance. Even the nightmares plaguing her sleep since her operation can’t dull her new dream world. Yet, life starts to unravel when Mishca develops superhuman abilities. She does her best to hide them so as not to end up a science experiment in a lab, but she can’t ignore the strange instant attraction she experiences when she meets her university professor, Colin Reed. Torn between love and the obsession, Mishca must decide between the two men. But as the organization responsible for her weird powers moves in, she’ll have a lot more to worry about than romance.
Find Divided on Goodreads
SOMEONE MUST DIE so I can live. I’ve come to terms with that. Before it turned my stomach, thinking about my donor’s death, but now I’m used to it. Most likely, it’ll be a car accident or a drunken fall. It won’t come from illness or any other natural causes that corrupt human organs and make the deceased ineligible to be a donor. A violent, painful death will be my savior. It’s the only way I’ll ever get my new heart.
I open my eyes and stare upward, hoping the white fluffy clouds splotched against the blue sky will distract me from my imaginings of people dying. I guess I’m not as used to the idea of getting someone else’s heart as I thought. The harsh Australian sun makes me squint.
I swing my legs around and hoist myself upright on the stadium bleacher, looking over the sports field. Readjusting my tank top strap that had slipped off my shoulder, I try to conjure up happier thoughts. At least I won’t be responsible for the person who dies, even if I get a new heart out of the mess.
Yeah, happier thoughts.
Sharon has one BIG prize bundle as part of the celebrations! You could win:
- Heart Marcasite Earrings
- $10 Amazon Gift Voucher
- Owl Christmas Decorations
- Dinosaur Christmas Decorations
- Owl Pen
- Heart Pen
About the Author
SHARON JOHNSTON is a New Adult author from sunny Queensland, Australia. She specializes in intriguing stories and soulful contemporaries across category boundaries. Working as a PR specialist by day, in her spare time she writes, blogs for YAtopia and Aussie Owned & Read, spends time with her fur babies, and plays computer games with her family. She’s also been trailed by women wanting to know where she buys her shoes.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
Buy it now
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 …”
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.
And nothing I try to do will fix that.
Enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card!
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.
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?
Enter to win a great bookish bundle!
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?”
“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
Born 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.