This Writer’s Space: Nik Vukoja

This Writer's Space

Today on This Writer’s Space we have Nik Vujoka, Nest Pitch‘s Chief Bunny. Nik has kindly offered to share an excerpt with us from her new Chapbook — you can find it at the bottom of this post.

Where I Write

Although I move around a bit, I mostly write in my bedroom, on the bed. I’ve got a TV/DVD in there, a big coffee table which works as my ‘bedside-table-come-mini-office-bookshelf’; and I can look straight into the back yard when I want to relax my eyes. As you can see, bed, laptop, notepad… and Feline Overlords!

Nik Write

Where I’m Inspired

Woo, this is a harder one to answer. Sometimes it’ll be something someone says or something I read or even something on TV. But usually it’ll come from practically nowhere. I am well known for waking at some ungodly hour with an idea that I simply must put to paper.

To Be Read

OK, that’s HUGE!

I was looking at my ‘want to read pile’ on my Goodreads page and then looked at my ‘to be read’ pile and it’s like, OMG, are there enough hours left in my life?

Right now I have a lot of fiction I’m hoping to get to this year and quite a lot of non-fiction. I’ve recently bought a few books at a local bookshop: some on Queen Elizabeth I, a few on the Romanovs, the Habsburgs and sister Marie Christine and Marie Antoinette. I also want to re-read a book on Catherine the Great, but that one runs at around 800 pages so I’m avoiding it.

As for fiction:

The Masked Songbird by Emmie Mears

The Kiya Series by Katie Hamstead

I’m holding out for the second in the December People series by Sharon Bayliss

I still need to read book #2 of the Ever Series by Jessa Russo

A Touch of Darkness by Tina Moss

Twelve Steps by Veronica Bartles

And Isla’s Inheritance by a certain Cass Page!

As well as a few others.


About Nikola

Nik VukojaBorn in Croatia, my family moved to Australia when I was two. Thirteen days after landing, mum gave birth to my twin brothers. A month after my youngest brother, Steve, was born, my maternal grandmother came from Croatia to live with us.

I started school without being able to speak English, so my first year of school wasn’t fun. But Nana was! Nana had wonderful stories to share with us about dragons and wizards and witches and warriors kings. She’d regale and often frighten us with scary stories with magical Slavic creatures, igniting in me a life long fascination in history and Slav mythology.

We didn’t own a TV for several years, but I don’t recall missing it. Winter evenings were spent on the veranda watching thunderstorms as Dad told us about The God of Thunder “Perun” while summer evenings were for star-gazing.

I’ve worn many hats, have several degrees and diplomas and have lived in Australia, Croatia, Germany and France. I don’t know if it’s because of the family’s nomadic start, but I tend to like new places and new adventures, and reinvention.

In the past 5-6 years I have learned a lot about the art of writing. I also learned I could not work fulltime and write. So I left my fulltime employment, took my life savings and decided to dedicate myself to my craft. And while there are times when the “cheque’s in the mail,” I have not regretted my decision.

I have just published a chapbook of poetry, sonnets and short stories, with illustrations and 25% from each sale will be going to AnimalsAsia. You can find out more and see a sample of the poems here. If you quote CODE:  RL33S (not case-sensitive), you’ll be entitled to a 30% discount if you buy the Chapbook.

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Excerpt: Perun & the Flaming-Winged Owl

Please do not copy, reproduce any part of the below without Nikola’s permission. 

Ivan knew what was coming. Charlene’s tightly crossed arms were the first signal, the second, how she unconsciously placed her feet when angry. This time she had them in the third ballet position, an auto-reflex after a childhood of lessons.

Ivan had come to recognise the strength of his wife’s emotions by her body-language. Strumming fingers over crossed arms equalled, Tabasco Chilli Pepper anger. Tapping foot was a little less angry, Jalapeño Chilli. And ballet position number three; tangy Bell-Peppers — in other words, he could make fun of her without fear until she’d hit Habañero Chilli heat — pretty damn close to She-Devil-Hell. How so much passion could burst free from her tiny frame was one of Charlene’s many mysteries. A reasonable mind would question how she managed to open a pickle bottle. Even after so many years together, she charmed him.

Charlene’s top lip crinkled. He braced himself. At least he knew the topic, he knew what he was about to do wrong. Not that he agreed. Charlene had a tendency to know she was right, even when she was completely illogical, irrational or simply emotional. He loved that about her. It should have been a turn-off, but damn if it didn’t make the gold flecks in her eyes dance! Ivan hid the smirk creeping over his face as best he could as she inhaled oxygen in preparation for a breathless rant.

Nik Chapbook“Seriously, Ivan, I don’t know how many times we have to have the very same conversation. It’s not like I, well, you know, how I…” She rolled her eyes. “I really don’t like your mother telling those stories.” Charlene’s hazel eyes stared at her husband with as much accusation as she could force through them.

“They’re creepy,” she added.

He tried to take her seriously. If she caught his smirk, he’d never win. “They’re only stories, and the kids love ’em,” said her husband.

“Until they begin to imagine one of her creatures is hiding in the bushes.” Charlene huffed before adding, “Some of them are just scary shit Ivan; you have to admit that.”

Ivan said nothing.

“I know you’re Croatian an ’all,” she demanded, “But when we got married I didn’t expect our children to have a grandmother who scared the crap out of them!” she demanded.

Ivan squinted his almond-shaped eyes, “Sorry, I should have added into our vows, and my wife agrees to allow Mama to tell tales of an ancient land to our future children, of witches called Jezi Babas who steal your soul, of Perun, God of Thunder riding his chariot, and of Vukodlak—”

You’re being an idiot,” Charlene interrupted, jerking her head as a curly ringlet hid eyes changing from hazel to steel-grey.

Ivan looked at his wife. Her cheeks flashed with a soft pink. She barely wore makeup. She didn’t need it, just a little mascara to highlight her eyes. Her cheeks flashed with a soft pink. Anger only made her look more attractive.

He knew she was angry, what tapping feet and ballet positions didn’t give away, her eye colour did, but this was about family pride and cultural history and for once Charlene would not get the last word.

“And you’re being unreasonable.” He rose from his seat and walked over to the percolator to pour himself a long black. After a deep breath, he lowered his voice. “How are Mama’s stories any less frightening than some of the stuff by the Brothers Grimm? How’s it okay for our kids to read Harry Potter, but it’s not okay for Mama to tell them the stories of their own Croatian mythology?”

“They’re only half Croatian,” she said, just indignant enough to wound.

“Okay, yes, my kids aren’t what, Aussie enough for you? If you didn’t want your kids to have Croatian blood you should never have said yes to me. They are only half Croatian, and my wife is Australian, and what is Australian anyway? Are they also one eighth Irish, a sixteenth Italian and what, one sixty-fourth Koori? And what else?”

Ivan took a sip of his coffee and turned his back on her. His voice softened a little. “I don’t want us to fight over something you should understand. It’s my heritage.”

He turned back to face her and put the mug down. “This is who I am and they are half me. You can’t love all of me and dismiss their half of me too.”

She felt her chest knot with guilt but didn’t know what to say to make that word disappear.

He wished she hand not said “half” anything. She knew how it cut him. How he considered it one of the cruelest words because it seemed so innocent, so harmless, so unsullied. Half-hearted, half-arsed, half-wit, half-cast, half of something, he’d often said was a subtle way of saying something wasn’t worthy of full value. Ivan loathed it in all its forms.

“I’m sorry babe, I didn’t mean…”

Ivan put his hand up as he almost spat, “Perhaps we could tell them true stories, Jack the Ripper or the Black Death? Or we could share the real meaning of ‘ring around the rosy’ or how the Hundred Years War began?”


“Well, what?”

“It’s just that.”

“Just what. Seriously, what is it? Is it that it’s Mama telling the stories, or is it that the stories weren’t recreated by Disney. Or is it that I don’t really see the issue?” She’d gone too far. He couldn’t let it go. She was sure she was right, but challenging his heritage was not the way to convince him–ever.

Charlene’s voice softened. “If she must tell them her stories, can she at least pick the nice ones?”

As she conceded, Ivan relaxed his face, took a sip of his coffee, and allowed a slight smile to settle. “So it’s agreed. Mama will mind the kids tonight?”

“And Mama will tell Adam and Katarina a nice story tonight,” Charlene said as she intentionally did a fake eyelash that made Ivan grin.

“Yes, Mama will tell a nice story tonight.”

He gave Charlene a hug as he whispered, “Are we friends again?”

Charlene shrugged, pretending anger, but her shoulders were loose. Still Ivan thought better than to salt her defensive wound. “One of the things I have always loved about you is that damn stubborn streak.”

By nightfall Adam, tall and lanky for nine, and six-year-old pixie-cute Katarina, were bundled into the family car along with their pyjama’s and Katarina’s favourite stuffed teddy.

As they pulled up in front of Grandma’s house, her porch light enticing them to enter, Charlene said, “Remember, you promised, no scary stuff.”

With the kids safely inside and his mother warned, Ivan and Charlene left their children with Mama and her wild fairytales.

“So, what will be do tonight?” asked their Grandma as two sets of eyes, one hazel like his mother’s and the other as green as an emerald, shone back with eager anticipation.

“Tell us a story, Grandma,” chirped Katarina. With a giggle she added, “Make it a scary one.”

Grandma chuckled. “All-right-ty then, let’s make some popcorn and I’ll tell you a story, but nothing too scary, we promised your mum.”

Katarina looked at her older brother. Adam shook his head and Katarina was satisfied Grandma was joking about the story not being scary. The scary kind was always the best.

Their Grandma thought for a moment as she patted a heavy purring Sir-Purrs-a-Lot. Adam renamed him when he was just a kitten, all grey fluff with his big eyes and pushed in nose. Every time Grandma picked him up, the kitten would purr loudly. His ‘real’ name was Ghost because of his grey fur, but once Adam started calling him Sir-Purrs-a-Lot, so did everyone else.

Fully five years old now and not nearly as playful as when he was a fuzz of kitten energy, he’d become Grandma’s best friend. She once said to Adam, “I keep him and he keeps me.” Adam pretended to understand.

“I’ll tell you the story of the Flaming-Winged Owl,” said their Grandma, her words breaking Adam’s trance on the cat as well as throwing both children into action.

They knew the routine. While their grandmother popped the corn, they had just enough time to dump their bags into the spare bedroom, prepare two large glasses of milk and nestle into the comfy sofa.

With the lights dimmed, Grandma in the middle, bowl of popcorn on her lap, a warm blanket covering all three of them and Sir-Purrs-a-lot taking advantage of the empty sofa-chair by the radiator, the children waited. There was no way of knowing what sort of marvellous creatures would be in one of Grandma’s stories. A shape-shifting monster, evil witches, battling Gods…

Grandma took a deep breath. “A long time ago, Perun, God of Thunder and Lightening became very angry with his brother Veles. Veles was the god of the Underworld and, like all Gods, had no place or business going to the world of man. But Veles had left the Underworld, and this made everything in the world of man unbalanced.

“Night fell in the middle of the day, only to return a moment later. The mountains grumbled and the sky shimmered bright red. Perun, furious at his younger brother’s mischievous behaviour, threatened his brother with bolts of lightening but Veles simply hid from the lightening spears.

“So Perun commanded the Goddess of Winter, the Princess Morana, to pelt Veles with rain, then hail and also with wind and snow blizzards, but Veles singed the rain with fireballs, turned the hail into snow, and the snow into waterfalls to feed rivers and oceans.

“Veles laughed at his niece, Morana, telling her, ‘Go, go back to your father and tell my brother I fear him not, and fear you even less, little niece. Tell him I like this world of man and think I will stay here.’

“By now the humans suffered. As night and day mixed unnaturally, nothing grew, crops failed, grass died and soon cows and sheep would have nothing to eat. Even the wild creatures of the forest suffered. Everything was dying, even hope.”

“Were even bunnies and birds dying?” asked Katarina.

“Yes,” said Grandma. “And this made Perun very sad and even angrier at his brother.”

“What did Perun do?” asked Adam.

“Well,” Grandma’s voice rose sharply. The children recognised this tone; the story was about to get good.

“Perun had no choice but to send his beloved Flaming-Winged Owl. This was no ordinary owl; this was a special owl, with magical powers!”

Adam reached over and poked Katarina. She giggled before saying, “Adam wants to know why the owl’s so special.”

“Oh, Adam wants to know, and you don’t?” teased Grandma. Katarina giggled again before nodding.

“Well. This is not just a magical owl; this owl is also Perun’s friend.”

Their Grandma looked at both children and lowered her voice a little as she added, “His only friend.”

Adam tried to pretend this didn’t surprise him but Katarina couldn’t keep her green eyes from turning into saucers.

“Gods have a lot of power, but they have few friends. That’s why this owl was special to Perun.”

“And was Perun afraid the owl would get lost?” asked Katarina.

“Oh, much worse. You see magical creatures are not supposed to live in the world of man, and the longer it stayed with humans, the more danger it was in. Why!” exclaimed Grandma, “It could even die!”

Katarina’s bottom lip trembled a little, “Is the owl going to die?” she asked.

Adam, always the protective big brother tried his best to make light of her fears. He rolled his eyes and threw his hands up in the air. “The owl’s not going to die!”

“But Grandma…” Katarina began.

“She said it might die… but I’ll die if you keep interrupting!”

With Katarina sufficiently satisfied that her big brother would not let the owl die, she snuggled deeper into her grandmother, took a handful of popcorn and smiled. “Please continue,” she said very properly, then giggled again.

The old woman smiled. “Perun tried one last time to convince his brother to return to the Underground, but Veles continued to ignore him. Even as Perun’s words rumbled around the world like thunder, Veles paid no attention, instead skipping across the world causing buildings to tumble down, mountains to crumble and rivers to bubble with hot poisonous water.

“Perun knew he had to save the human world, even if it cost him his friend. Good Friend, he said, ‘You must fly to the land of man and use your magic to return my brother to the Underworld. You must make this happen, even if this means we shall never see each other again. You must be willing to sacrifice everything if that is what is needed. Will you do this, my old friend?’

Adam jumped in excitement, “What did the owl do?”

“The owl turned to his friend, because Perun was also the owl’s only friend. They had been best friends for thousands and thousands of years, together protecting the world from high in the clouds, among the stars of heaven. They were so close, they were like family. And even though one was a great god and the other a magical bird, and really to look at them, they seemed so different, they were the same inside.

“The owl looked at her long-time companion and said, ‘We have been almost as one for these many years. If this is what I must do to bring order to the world, I do it not only the world, but because you ask this of me. As I know you would risk everything for me, so I happily risk everything for you.’

“And with that, Perun’s Flaming-Winged Owl flew from the heavens to search for and return Veles to the Underworld.”

Adam reached deep into the nearly empty bowl of popcorn as he asked, “So the owl’s a girl?”

Grandma nodded.

“What’s her name?”

“I’m not sure she had one,” said Grandma.

“Oh, Grandma, everyone has a name!”

“Well, I don’t know her name. Maybe she has one and I don’t know it, or maybe because there is only one Flaming-Winged Owl, she doesn’t need one… or maybe because it’s just she and Perun, she never thought she needed a name?”

Adam shrugged off further questions. “What happened next?”

“Well, Veles saw the owl and knew instantly it was his brother’s owl, because there is only one like her. He also knew the world of man was dangerous for her, but he didn’t care and ignored her request to return to his home. He was not yet finished having fun in the world of man.

“The owl plucked her feathers of pure magic from her tail and scattered them over Veles, hoping to bind him and them force him back to the Underworld. But this was not enough magic to make Veles return. Because he was magical and also a god, he was very powerful. And because he was from the Underworld, unlike Perun or the owl, Veles did not lose his powers in the world of humans.”

“Why not?” asked Adam.

“Because when you die, first you must go to the Underworld before you pass to the heavens, so Veles is linked to the world of man like no other magical being.

“It’s only after your soul passes the Underworld that it can enter the afterlife. And this permits Veles to live among people.

“When nothing Perun’s owl said or did, changed Veles’ mind, Perun knew he had no choice. Perun asked his friend to scatter her burning feathers through the air. If she plucked and lost too many, she would not be able to fly back to the heavens, and without the magic of the heavens, she would die.

“To the people looking up, it seemed like the sky was aflame and the end of the world had come. But to Veles the Flaming-Winged Owl’s feathers were like shackles, their power binding him and forcing him back to the Underworld.

“As Veles returned to the Underworld, Perun struck the opening to Veles’ Kingdom with three bolts of lightning, saying to his brother, you have frightened the people and the animals for the last time and though a mortal soul can enter your world, you can no longer leave it. Veles tried many times to escape, but Perun’s magic and power was greater than his younger brother’s.

Perun’s Flaming-Winged Owl had just enough feathers to return to her friend in the heavens. She was weakened, but she lived and as soon as she felt the power of the heavens enter her heart, she began to recover.

“Oh, that’s good,” said a satisfied Katarina.

“Yes, it was good, but that’s not the end of the story.”

“Did Veles find a way to get out again?” asked Adam.

“No, much worse,” said Grandma.

“What happened?” asked Adam.

“Well, there’s more to this story. Do you want to hear the rest?” she asked. The children both nodded.

“There’s still a little popcorn left in the packet. Shall we pop it too and then I’ll tell you the rest?”

Her grandchildren jumped off the sofa so quickly it woke Sir-Purrs-a-Lot. Before Grandma could say another word, the children were already in the kitchen, almost empty bowl of popcorn in Katarina’s hands.

This Writer’s Space: S. T. Bende

This Writer's Space
Hei hei y’all! I’m S.T. Bende, and I’m lucky enough to write about drop-dead-gorgeous Norse gods, and the girls they dote on. This means I have to stare at lots of pictures of Alexander Skarsgard for inspiration. Not a bad gig, right? Here’s a little bit about me.

Where I Write

Thanks to my MacBook Pro, and a lack of dedicated writing space, I write wherever I can.Sometimes it’s at my kitchen table, sometimes it’s in a corner of the couch, and sometimes it’s tucked away in my favorite coffee shop. But because my books are rooted in Norse mythology, I always end up writing somewhere near my Norsk pillow. It’s cute. It’s comfy. And I made it my own self. I’m a wretched sewer, but it’s pretty much straight, and hasn’t fallen apart yet!! *beams*

Where I’m Inspired

Nature totally gets my creative energy flowing. I love hiking on Endor . . . okay, through the regular forest. But don’t those trees look like an Ewok could jump right out of them?  They’re so mysterious, I always imagine what could be hiding around them . . . and a lot of what I imagine makes its way into a book. 🙂 
And I LOVE throwing on my favorite hoodie and walking barefoot on the beach. This one’s in Northern Oregon, a few miles from the hometown of my Elsker Saga heroine, Kristia. It’s super peaceful, and keeps inspiring new stories.
And then there’s the ski slopes. *sigh* It’s summer in my hemisphere, and I’m itching to get back out there. Would you Aussies pretty please hit the slopes for me, and tell me all about it?

To Be Read

I’m a total techno-dolt. I still use a flip phone. #Truth And if you’d told me a year ago I’d be a nearly exclusive e-reader reader, I’d have bit my thumb at you. (Not really. I would never fail Emily Post like that. But I definitely would have giggled demurely behind my fan.) But the truth is, I’m just not that into clutter. And I like being able to bring ten books on a trip without taking up any room in my suitcase. So here is my TBR pile. And my favorite Reading Hat. It also doubles as my Thinking Hat, and my Cleaning Hat. Tiaras make everything more fun. Dontcha think?

Connect with ST Bende

The Elsker Saga’s Inga Andersson on Pinterest

Connect with Elsker’s Norse God of Winter, Ull


About The Elsker Saga

You don’t win the heart of an immortal assassin without making a few enemies along the way. Kristia Tostenson prefers Earl Grey to Grey Goose and book clubs to nightclubs, but when she transfers from her one-stoplight town to Cardiff University in Wales she falls in love with Ull Myhr. Her new boyfriend isn’t exactly what she was expecting. He’s an honest to goodness Norse God – an immortal assassin fated to die at Ragnarok, the battle destined to destroy Asgard and Earth. Kristia’s crazy visions are the only thing that can save their realms. Her orderly life just got very messy.


This Writer’s Space: Julie Hutchings

This Writer's Space

Today I’m thrilled to have the fabulous Julie Hutchings here, one of the loveliest, bubbliest, most honest and most caffeinated people I’ve had the pleasure to meet on Twitter.

Where I Write

I cheated and sent two pics of my writer’s space. While that corner of my kitchen table is mine, all mine, and I love to write there, more often than not my actual writer’s space is one corner of the couch, with a four year old in my lap and my laptop nearly falling off the couch arm if not for part of that four year old holding it up with his shoulder or knee. Because I write where I can. Also, I’m sitting on about 6 pounds of graham cracker crumbs in this picture. Oh, the glamour!


photo 2

Where I’m Inspired

This is a spot where I grew up, amongst a bunch of summer cottages right on the beach. That smell of the ocean, the silence — whether it’s a warm summer day or a cold fall afternoon, walking in a hoodie with a cup of coffee — it’s always perfect. It always makes me smile and know that I’m on the right track somehow. This is where I go when I need a real breather.


To Be Read

Yeah, that’s most of my TBR pile. THE GIRL WHO FELL BENEATH FAIRYLAND by Catherynne Valente is screaming at me to read next. I freak out over the Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey. ON THE NATURE OF FAIRY TALES, a book from college I want to re-read for research. GREEN by Jay Lake again, because he was as wonderful a man as he was a writer, and I miss him. Kylie Chan, because of the awesome and she was a big influence on me writing the sequel to RUNNING HOME (which is looking at an August release!). THE WAITING by Joe Hart which has been waiting for me to read for too long. (Sorry to Joe, not sorry about the pun.)

photo 4

About Julie

Julie’s debut novel, Running Home, giving you vampires with a Japanese mythology pants kicking is available through Books of the Dead Press. (The sequel, Running Away, coming this summer!) Julie revels in all things Buffy, has a sick need for exotic reptiles, and drinks more coffee than Juan Valdez and his donkey combined, if that donkey is allowed to drink coffee. Julie’s a black belt with an almost inappropriate love for martial arts. And pizza. And Rob Zombie. Julie lives in Plymouth, MA, constantly awaiting thunderstorms with her wildly supportive husband and two magnificent boys.

How to connect with Julie:
Twitter: @hutchingsjulie
You can email Julie at undeadduo (at) hotmail (dot) com or follow her on Twitter.



This Writer’s Space: Veronica Bartles

This Writer's Space

Today’s guest is Veronica Bartles, whose debut, Twelve Steps, I reviewed earlier this year. It’s a fun story about sibling rivalry. Take it away, Veronica!

Where I Write

My writing space isn’t confined to just one area. We live in military housing, and our house is too small for me to have an office space of my very own. And even though I’m sometimes totally jealous of my writing friends who have desks and offices of their own, I think it’s probably better this way. I’m less creative when I try to write in the same spot every day, so I bounce between several writing spots. Sometimes, I curl up on the comfy couch in the living room with my notebook and story pencils or my laptop.


Sometimes, I relax in my massage chair in the corner of my bedroom. (This is where I like to go when I’m stuck on an idea. The massage helps me to relax enough to track down the plot bunnies hiding in the back of my mind.)


My favorite writing space in my house is my treadmill desk. I’ve discovered that I can’t write first drafts on the treadmill, because I get so involved in the creative process that I forget where I am, and I’m likely to fall off. But I love to work on edits and revisions on the treadmill. With my blood pumping, my mind is more alert, and I feel like it’s easier to see the problems and issues that need fixing.


At least a few times a week, I also like to pack up my notebook and pencil (or my laptop, if I’m revising) and go to the botanic gardens, the library, a park, or a restaurant for a change of pace.

Where I’m Inspired

I get my inspiration pretty much anywhere. (This is why my writing space is so mobile.) But the best inspiration usually hits when I’m in a place where I can shut down my mental to-do list and let my mind wander into the creative zone. I try to go worship at the LDS Temple each week, because it’s so peaceful there, and I can almost always shut off my crazy brain while I’m there.


To Be Read

My TBR list is huge, and it’s growing every single day. This picture is just a part of my list – the print books that I have on my shelves right now that I’m dying to read right away. My lists on my Kindle and Nook are almost as long, and then of course there are the fabulous, pre-published manuscripts I often get to read. I’m glad I’m a fast reader, because even though I often read several books each week, my TBR list grows twice as fast as I can read. I’ll never catch up, but at least I never have to search for something new to read. I always have several more options waiting in the wings when I finish a book and get ready for the next adventure.


About Twelve Steps

Sixteen-year-old Andi is tired of being a second-class sibling to perfect sister Laina. The only thing Andi’s sure she has going for her is her awesome hair. And even that is eclipsed by Laina’s perfect everything else.

When Andi’s crush asks her to fix him up with Laina, Andi decides enough is enough, and devises a twelve-step program to wrangle the spotlight away from Laina and get the guy.

Step 1: Admit she’s powerless to change her perfect sister, and accept that her life really, really sucks.

Step 4: Make a list of her good qualities. She MUST have more than just great hair, right?

Step 7: Demand attention for more than just the way she screws things up.

When a stolen kiss from her crush ends in disaster, Andi realizes that her twelve-step program isn’t working. Her prince isn’t as charming as she’d hoped, and the spotlight she’s been trying to steal isn’t the one she wants.

As Laina’s flawless façade begins to crumble, the sisters work together to find a spotlight big enough for both to shine.

About Veronica

As the second of eight children and the mother of four, Veronica Bartles is no stranger to the ups and downs of sibling relationships. (She was sandwiched between the gorgeous-and-insanely-popular older sister and the too-adorable-for-words younger sister.) She uses this insight to write stories about siblings who mostly love each other, even while they’re driving one another crazy.   When she isn’t writing or getting lost in the pages of her newest favorite book, Veronica enjoys knitting fabulous bags and jewelry out of recycled plastic bags and old VHS tapes, sky diving (though she hasn’t actually tried that yet), and inventing the world’s most delectable cookie recipes.  TWELVE STEPS is Veronica Bartles’s first novel.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Authorgraph


This Writer’s Space: Amber A. Bardan

This Writer's Space

Today’s guest is the lovely Amber A. Bardan, whose debut, For Her Protection, came out on 30 May; as I draft this post it is climbing the Amazon charts! And because it’s her release week this post also includes a fabulous giveaway! Prizes include a $100 Amazon Gift Card, Romantic Swag, and 3 eBook copies of For Her Protection.

Where I Write

It used to be the lounge room couch with my laptop balanced on my knee. For the first time I now have my very own work space. I’m more than a little in love with it. It contains everything I need to work—including a closable door!

Mum’s you get it.

My favourite thing about where I write is that I’m surrounded by things that boost my creativity and inspire me—colours, scented candles, writing awards, my wedding photo, favourite books, not to mention it overlooks the backyard where I can watch my children play as I work.


Where I’m Inspired

There really is no one place. I’m inspired by so many things, but if I had to choose one thing or place that inspires me it would have to be Pinterest. In the time sucking arms of Pinterest I can create boards and fill them with all kinds of inspiration—pictures of characters, places, quotes and anything that matches my theme for a plot or story.

Amber_Where I'm inspired

To Be Read

I mostly buy eBooks these days so I keep track of what I want to read on Goodreads. It’s really a mix, but romance and fantasy top my lists.

Amber_To be read

For Her Protection

You shouldn’t mix business with pleasure.

Yet pleasure seems to be the one and only thing on Charlize’s mind the moment Connor steamrolls into her life. Desperate to save her family company, prove she’s more than a pretty face and worthy of being CEO, pleasure is a distraction she can’t afford.

She doesn’t want a bodyguard, especially not one whose caveman heroics kick her libido into hyperdrive. But surrounded by enemies and an attacker on the loose, there’s only one man she can trust with her life.

Connor knows better than to get personal with clients. Yet there couldn’t be anything more personal about his feelings for Charlize. From the moment he clapped eyes on her he wanted nothing more than to throw her over his shoulder and really give her something to scream about. He’ll get his uptight she-cat to unwind, preferably one orgasm at a time.

With Connor in her office, her home, driving her to sweet, merciless distraction, there’s only so long Charlize can resist his sexy, dominant brand of protection

About Amber

Amber A Bardan

After spending years imagining fictional adventures, Amber finally found a way to turn daydreaming into a productive habit. She now spends her days as a graphic designer but her nights writing gritty, raw, erotic romance with heart.

She lives with her husband and children in semi-rural Australia, where if she peers outside at the right moment she might just see a kangaroo bounce by.

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This Writer’s Space: Melissa Petreshock

This Writer's Space

This week’s This Writer’s Space features new adult fantasy romance author, Melissa Petreshock, whose book Fire of Stars and Dragons came out in April.

Where I Write

Melissa Petreshock write

I don’t have an office to work in, so I most often make do at the dining room table. It’s a good space for me since I’m too OCD to like clutter, and an office/desk would tend to gather piles of junk since it’s stationary. By having to move my things around each night when we have dinner, I maintain a minimal amount of general ‘stuff’. The staple items you can guarantee will be with me wherever I end up writing are: my laptop (obviously), my iPod touch, my notebook, an additional notepad (yes, that is pink paper), and what I call my ‘pretty pretty princess pen’. The pen is hand-turned by my dad and made from sycamore with a big blingy rhinestone on the top. (The green dragon is a recent addition. He’s traveling to BEA with me this year.)

When I’m working, I always have the current Word document I’m writing in (BLOOD OF STARS AND GODS, book 2 in the Stars and Souls Trilogy at the moment), my character ‘inspiration’ photo (Taylor Kitsch as Theo Pendragon seen there), and the Google Hangouts chat box with my sister open on my screen. She’s my go-to source for sudden frustration over sentences or paragraphs that don’t sound quite right or anything I need to bounce off someone else. Jen is my 24/7 sounding board. I have to keep her there at my right hand at all times.

Where I’m Inspired

Melissa Petreshock inspired

I’m a music fanatic and always listen to music while I’m writing. Where am I inspired? Anywhere I am with my iPod touch. If I have it on my iHome stereo in the kitchen, hooked up in my car, or plugged to my retractable pink earbuds, I find inspiration when I’m with my music. Pictured above is part of the official playlist for FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS.

Melissa Petreshock inspired2

If I had to choose a physical location I find most inspiring, I would choose Boston, Massachusetts. I used to live in Massachusetts and spent a lot of time in the city. It’s full of history and amazing places to see. A future version of Boston is also the setting of FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS and the major hub location of the Stars and Souls Trilogy. I’ve been many places in the United States, including such interesting cities as Los Angles and the ever-fascinating New York, but Boston will always be my favorite.

To Be Read

I try to be careful about buying too many books ahead of myself, so my Goodreads TBR is the best idea of what I have on my list of what I want to read, but on the mobile Kindle app, I have a small assortment of books I am reading or will be reading soon.

Currently, I’m reading Running Home by Julie Hutchings and will begin Of Breakable Things by Amy Rolland as soon as I finish Julie’s book. They’re both friends of mine, and I want to read Amy’s book before I leave for BEA, especially since we’re sharing a hotel room in NYC, and I want to chat bookish stuff with her! (And her cover is epically gorgeous!)

Below is a screenshot of a small number of the books in my Kindle app.

Melissa Petreshock TBR

About Melissa

Melissa PetreshockMelissa A. Petreshock is a full-time writer and member of the Romance Writers of America with past experience in the medical and educational fields, though she has primarily devoted her adult life to raising a family. Born and raised in Kentucky, Melissa spent a number of years in Massachusetts, living outside Boston and in Springfield before returning to her home state where she now resides on a small farm. She enjoys quiet married life and the silliness of her three children, indulging hobbies of music, Zumba, and a minor television addiction in what little free time she finds. Melissa’s interests include causes demanding social change such as mental health awareness and teen suicide prevention. FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS is her debut NA Fantasy Romance novel. You can find her at her website, on Facebook, Goodreads, TwitterPinterest and Instagram.

Fire of Stars and Dragons

This Writer’s Space: Stacey Nash

This Writer's Space

Today on This Writer’s Space, we have one of my very favourite sci-fi, young adult and Aussie writers — ALL ROLLED INTO ONE PERSON! It’s Stacey Nash!

Where I Write

When you’re a writer, you need easy and fast access to your writing space and when you’re a mother it means you need to be all-seeing. So… my writing space is at the kitchen table. My laptop is set up on a corner where I can see through the bulk of the house and watch the kids when I’m not playing with them. It’s also nice and accessible for when a burning idea strikes me mid-jigsaw puzzle or Lightening McQueen reenactment.


Where I’m Inspired

I could give any number of photos for places where I find my inspiration, because I draw inspiration from all around me. Plot points and story ideas come to me in shower, when I’m driving, when I’m sleeping / dreaming, and even when I’m pegging the washing out. It seems nowhere is safe from the onslaught of plot bunnies. But I’ve decided to go with a photo of the view from my backyard, because really… it’s the beauty around me that I find most inspiring. There are snippets of scenery in all of my books from places I’ve seen, or lived or visited. This is where I call home, The Hunter Valley.


To Be Read

No one photograph is big enough to contain my to be read pile, so I’ve made you a pretty collage. This year I’ve vowed not to buy books until I’m ready to read them. So my Goodreads ‘to read’ list is the most accurate of the order I intend to read. But then there’s the unread folder on my kindle app, and the one on my iBooks app, oh and lets not forget the physical TBR. Enjoy my collage. 🙂


Stacey TBR

About Stacey

Stacey Nash writes adventure-filled stories for Young Adults in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. She calls the state of New South Wales in Australia home. Her debut novel, Forget Me Not, re-releases in August 2014 from HarperCollins Impulse and its sequel Remember Me release October 2014.

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Stacey Nash (3)