Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Catch Fire! Blog Party

Woot and Double Woot! 

Here comes a super book and a super give away. You can't miss this one. From February 27 through March 9 anyone who comments on ALEX J. CAVANAUGH'S posts during that time can win a special package from his publisher: a copy of CassaFire and of CassaStar, a large tote bag, and a mug

The Catch Fire! sign up form will close 9 pm EST Monday night, February 27, and the five winners will be listed on Alex's blog post the following morning.

Be sure to join the Twitter Party, too. The Twitter hashtag for the party is #CatchFire . . . Make CassaFire Catch Fire!

And now . . . Drum Roll Please

by Alex J. Cavanaugh

CassaStar was just the beginning…

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan’s technology and strange mental abilities.

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

Available today!
Science fiction - space opera/adventure
Print ISBN 978-0-9827139-4-5, $15.95, 6x9 Trade paperback, 240 pages
EBook ISBN 978-0-9827139-6-9, $4.99, available in all formats

CassaFire is the sequel to Cavanaugh’s first book, CassaStar, an Amazon Top Ten Best Seller:
“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

You can visit Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog. 
Get his Book Trailer

Cassa Fire at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Amazon Kindle

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Moods

My mood today is EXCITED. We're at the end of February and one month closer to the A-Z Blogging Challenge. If you haven't signed up DO IT! The goal is 1,000 bloggers all slogging with grace through the alphabet. One post each day (except Sunday.) It should be wild with so many participating.
Here's the LINKY to see who's already signed up, so visit and join.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Young Adult Teen (almost) Tuesday-v

I've been posting about Young Adult writing for four weeks now, and I've focused on intercultural themes. Well, here's another book in a series of books that have intercultural relationships at their core--two of them are just for a slightly younger reader; one is an adult book. However, I'd like to feature them here anyway on this Tuesday because of their related theme.

I met the author, FREDDIE REMZA, a few years ago at the SCBWI conference in New York, and she impressed the heck out of me with her interest and full-throttle drive in this business of writing for young readers. And I think we connected because we both love to travel. She was also a great companion in the Big Apple, and we've kept in touch. So today I'd like for you to get to know Freddie and find out about her books.

 Hereeee's Freddie!

Okay, now that I have your attention…I’m Freddie Remza, author of the middle reader, The Journey to Mei, its YA sequel, Ride the Wave, and the recently published adult novel, The Orchid Bracelet

 I love traveling.  I love being taken out of my comfort zone and placed in a spot on the globe where I’ve never been, consuming things I never imagined could be eaten, and talking to people who dress differently than me and live in houses I’ve seen in the National Geographic.  I don’t want a replica, a simulation, the Disney version.  I want the real thing.  I’ve always been like that. 

When I was an elementary teacher, I noticed that kids from other countries knew more about us than our children knew about them.  That bothered me and so I set off on my own private mission to change that.  The world map had a prime location in the front center of the classroom.  I continuously pulled it down to perhaps explain the location of the recently erupted volcano or to compare the desert communities of the world.  One of my favorite quotes is by Rudyard Kipling.  He wrote, “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”  So after retirement, I came up with this excellent idea of joining the two…traveling and writing stories that will not only entertain, but also let kids know where a plane ride can take you.  My goal was to create a storyline where these settings could naturally unfold.  They would contain real, live-sounding people with everyday problems and situations to resolve. 

THE JOURNEY TO MEI is about an American family who decides to adopt a child from China.  Their 10-year-old birth child is not too keen on that; that is, not at first.  So off I went to China to learn about the country, visit an actual orphanage, talk to the people about the one child policy, and use what I learned in my writing.  As it turned out, there was a need for this type of story.  This middle reader not only became a teacher read-aloud, but was also used by adopting families.  They found it to be a sensitive vehicle that opened up conversation between family members and the adopted child. 

But my young readers were not satisfied.  They wanted to know what happened after the story ended.  Oh, the emails I received!  They loved the family and didn’t want them to disappear, and quite frankly, I also became a little attached.  So back to the laptop I went and the sequel, RIDE THE WAVE, was born.  This book has the family moving to Cape Town, South Africa.  Our 10-year-old birth child is now 15 and simply does not want to leave her friends, her activities, her comfortable life…not even for a year.  And so, the theme of a teen adjusting to change seemed pretty evident, as well as issues of bullying and harassment.  Halfway through the story I joined my pretend family as they made that long flight over the Atlantic.  What’s an author to do?  I learned first-hand about this country—the apartheid, effects of global warming, Cape of Good Hope—and used them as needed; much like a well-crafted jigsaw puzzle.

On the other hand, THE ORCHID BRACELET forced me to come up with a different set of people.  There I was in Vietnam running around snapping photos, filling two notebooks with observations that were insignificant to the average tourist.  You see, I wasn’t a tourist; I was a traveler.  There is a difference.  I made note of everything from the duct tape covering the slit on a vinyl couch inside a Vietnamese home, to the gravel on the pathway that a barefooted child walked upon as she carried her younger brother on her back.  But it wasn’t until an unexpected conversation I had with a young Vietnamese teen that I realized I needed to go in a different direction with my story.  That’s what experiencing the setting first hand will do.  And when that last page has been read, if the reader feels a little stirring inside that makes him sit and think about things…well, then my job was done correctly.

“The Orchid Bracelet” by Freddie Remza
Available on Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Kindle

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Moods-Tag, You're It!

On this Monday, I'm in the Mood to play and Kelly Hashway has provided the perfect game.  Here's how the game goes.

The Tag rules:
1. You must post the rules! OKAY CHECK.
2. Answer the questions and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged. YIKES!
3. Tag eleven people and link to them. SIMPLE TO FIND 11 GREAT BLOGGERS. HARD TO CHOOSE ONLY 11.
4. Let them know you’ve tagged them. WILL DO.

If you could live in a fictional world, where would that be?
I'd like to try Dune. I don't know why. I just know that the way Herbert described the waterless world intrigued me.
Do you read in noisy or quiet places?
I don't care where I read, but in general I prefer quiet places, so I'd opt for that.

What was the first book you ever read?
I don't have a clue.
If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
That would be a terrible fate. I can't imagine reading the same book over and over again. I'd wind up rewriting that thing no matter how much I loved it at the beginning.
Favorite author?
So many favorites: Faulkner, Asimov, Penn Warren . . . good grief I can't choose.
Do reviews influence your choice of reads?
Not really. Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion and tastes vary. This is what Kelly said. I say so, too.

Fiction or Non fiction?
I love both. Each has so much to offer.
Have you ever met your favourite author?
No. I think they're all dead. What does that say about me?
Audio books or Paperbacks?
Classic or Modern Novels?
I love the classics, but I always enjoy finding a new voice.
Book Groups or Solitary Reading?

Okay, now it's my turn. Here are my 11 questions.

1. What's the best part of reading a book you love?
2. What book(s) have stayed in your head?
3. If you could write one book only, what would the main character be like?
4. What book(s) do you love to read to your kids?
5. Do you ever read books aloud to others?
6. Do you like discussing books with others?
7. If you hate a book, do keep reading anyway or put it away?
8. What kind of books do you like best? Sci-fi, Realistic, Historical Fiction, Biography, other.
9. Are you transitioning into the digital age with a Kindle or a Nook or a I-Pad? Or are you sticking with those hard copies? Do you mix it up?
10. How much do covers influence your buying a book?
11. Any new books you'd recommend?

I'm tagging these peeps!

2. M. Pax 
3. Misha Gericke

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Young Adult Teen Tuesday-iv

Thanks to Sheri Larson for the YATT
Here I am at Young Adult Teen Tuesday-iv! I have more to say about this thing called culture, and this time it's about including it in our stories.

When we're writing stories that include people of other cultures than our own we have so many  opportunities to explore differences. We also have a chance to increase the depth of our stories and add tension between our characters if we understand some cultural rules, then break them.

I love to put two characters together who know nothing about the other's culture and let them interact. Here's one example. Say we have Paulo from South America and Kevin from Wisconsin in a hallway. They like each other and even want to ramp up their friendship, but something about each of them bothers the other. Here's a possible scene:

"So, about that movie." Kevin stepped back and ran his fingers through his hair. He wished Paulo would stay back a little and stop breathing on him.
Paulo stepped forward, smiling. "I can go, but not early. After four is good."
"Sure. That works." Kevin took another step back and bumped into the wall. Paulo was in his face and Kevin had no way to put more distance between him and this guy. "Can you back off, man? You're crowding me here."
At first Paulo didn't seem to understand, then hurt flashed across his face. "What? I don't smell good or something?"

These two may not go to the movies after all; they may not get to know each other better, and that's only because of a little cultural issue called "personal space." Personal space is an invisible area that members of different cultures find comfortable. In north America we tend to need more of this space than other cultures, and if someone invades that space who is not an intimate (a mom, a husband, a child) we don't like it. Usually we back up until we're in our "comfortable" zone again.

Poor Kevin. He's only trying to put the right distance between himself and Paulo, but then so is Paulo. In South America being close is comfortable.

Using this kind of cultural insight allows you to create a lot of different outcomes:

Paulo and Kevin could have a fight, so you have a dramatic scene.

They could back themselves up and down a hall, so you have a comic scene.

Have you tried any cultural clashes in your stories? If not, next time you have a chance, add a bit of cultural misunderstanding between your characters and see what you come up with. Next Tuesday I'll see what little cultural tidbit I can find to blog about.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Truth Teller by Kurt Chambers

Today I've set aside my Monday Moods to host a debut fantasy writer, K. CHAMBERS. I Hope you enjoy what he has to say about himself and his book. Also one of my awesome readers has a chance to win a free eBook. LEAVE A COMMENT, DO A FEW TWEETS AND/OR AN FB POST, WHATEVER YOU'D LIKE TO SPREAD THE WORD.  Here's what our author has to say about himself and his book.


I’m so excited to announce my debut novel, Truth Teller, is officially released. I never thought I would hear myself say those words. This series has been eight years in the making and one of the most amazing journeys I have ever undertaken in my whole life. Please let me indulge myself and tell you a bit about my story.

I was introduced to fantasy books by my mum at about the age of twelve. I instantly fell in love with them, but not being the best reader in the world, I struggled with some of the hard core classics. I wished there were books like these that were written especially for children like me. So, many years later when I started writing children’s novels, this seemed the perfect place to start. I wrote this series so children could enjoy the thrill of a traditional fantasy story without becoming overwhelmed. I’m very pleased with the results after finding my story was equally enjoyed by adults as well. The feedback I’ve received has been amazing from all age groups.

Here's the author who I'm sure is going to delight this grandson with his stories. 



Ten-year-old Charlotte stumbles upon a strange shop when searching for a present. The creepy shopkeeper gives her an enchanting antique snow dome, but refuses to accept payment. All he asks is she promises to always tell the truth. She accepts his strange request.

Woken in the night, Charlotte is drawn by the globe’s eerie light and hypnotic power. With a sudden jerk, she finds herself stranded and all alone in a dark forest where she is discovered by a sword-wielding maniac. He calls himself, Elderfield, and he turns out to be a kind and brave teenage elf. He offers to take Charlotte to his family farm on a promise that he will help her find a way home.

They embark on an epic journey to find out why Charlotte has been brought to this realm and to pursue the one person who might be able to help, but none of them realise just how much is at stake. Strange things start to happen; visions come to her in dreams. They are hunted by real life monsters that attack with terrifying fury, but a far greater threat shadows their every move.

Fleeing for their lives, they reach the safety of an ancient mountain fortress and find the shopkeeper who gave Charlotte the dome. Her hopes of returning home are dashed as she is abducted by a druid assassin. Charlotte thinks she is defenceless against such a powerful foe, but in this realm, she is not the vulnerable little girl she thought she was.


This is just the start of Charlotte’s action-packed adventures. There are currently two other books in the series,
The Wrath of Siren and Favian’s Law. Both books are complete and in the editing process. I hope to release these titles some time in the near future and make a compilation of all three books in a special hardback edition. In the meantime, I’m working on a fourth book in the series, Lost Magic.


*Dawne Domonique - Multi-published author and professional cover artist.

The Truth Teller is one of the best children's fantasy book I've read in a long while. Charlotte is so easy to picture in my mind, and the fantasy aspects are brilliant! There are underlying currents of "real life lessons" that are subtly included...ideal for parents looking for that perfect bedtime story to read to their children. I loved the entire premise of the novel and will definitely be purchasing the next ones in this series.

Kurt Chambers has captured the genre with a wonderful story that will delight many a child's (and adult's) imagination.

*Annie McMahon - Editor, published author and Novel Workshop moderator.

This book has everything a bestseller should have: compelling story, endearing characters, vivid descriptions, genuine emotions, and a lot of surprising twists and turns. This is a story about a friendship that transcends race, gender, age, and even realms, between Charlotte, a ten-year-old girl, and Elderfield, a teenage elf. Beautiful and heartwarming. I strongly recommend it and will be reviewing it on my blog. Dutch Hill News.

*Assistant Editor, Alicia Crouch

There is a lot of good humor in the Truth Teller, things that actually made me laugh out loud. I especially enjoyed watching the bond of friendship between Elder and Charlotte continually strengthen until they had become like family – that’s one of my favorite concepts in fantasy, and the author did a wonderful job of bringing it to life. He has got the skill to make the reader care about his characters, the most important and most difficult task an author must undertake. I really enjoyed the story, and look forward to working on the next book in the series.

Your chance to win a free copy of Truth Teller:
As part of my blog tour, I would like offer all you blog readers a chance to win a free copy of my story. Simply read the post here, leave a comment below and share this post on Facebook or Twitter, or both if you’re feeling generous. One lucky commenter will win a free copy of Truth Teller in e-book format via virtual dice. Please mention in your comment where you’ve shared this link, and include an email address where I can send you your prize if you win. Thank you!

TRUTH TELLER is now available in all e-book formats from: To BUY or read a SAMPLE, here are the links.

Amazon UK

Amazon US




You can connect with the KURT CHAMBERS at:

Author's Web page 
Author's Blog 


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Young Adult Teen Tuesday-iii

Ethnocentric Much?

It's hard to admit, but many of us view the world through a very narrow set of cultural norms--OURS. And it's totally understandable because we've known our culture from birth. Unless we're exposed to other world views through travel, contact with people from different parts of world who live near us or in books that open our minds to different ways of looking at the world we use our standards as the RIGHT ones.

Last week in Young Adult Teen Tuesday I applauded the multi-cultural books that revealed different cultural norms and held up stereotypes scrutiny. Today I'm welcoming a writer with a new book that does exactly that. I think you'll enjoy meeting STEPHANIE JEFFERSON and learning about her book, PRINCESS KANDRAKE.

Hello Lee, thank you for this opportunity to share some of my thoughts here on your blog. When asked, I usually tell people the story of how I came to write this book in the first place.

One afternoon my 3 year-old granddaughter who loves to play dress-up came to me saying, “Nana, I want to be a princess. Where are all of the beautiful brown princesses?” She was pointing to a Disney ad at the time. It was imperative that I find a ‘beautiful brown princess’, immediately. The research began and once that was complete I started writing PRINCESS KANDAKE.

Coming up with the story wasn’t that difficult, but getting the publishing world to accept it was another thing. Once the novel was complete I had to sell it. I shopped it everywhere! I got great feedback, but no takers. This manuscript even made it to the semi-finals of the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. It got an outstanding review from Publishers Weekly. I was told by editors and agents alike that the writing is perfect, but… 

Here were some of the controversial issues of this story:
  • The main character is considered an adult at age 14. Frankly, I boosted her age for the sensitivities of western culture.
  • I refused to remove the reference to the baring of breast as an indication of coming of age. This is a cultural norm.
  • The fact that the main character is female and training to become a warrior is not treated as an oddity, or anything special for that culture.
  • The idea that Kandake would not want to rule is not treated as an issue of immaturity.
  • The historical fact that a female can rule in her own right, not because she married the king.
  • The idea of a brown princess.
  • The fact that a girl can do anything if she is willing to work hard enough.
These are all thoughts that go counter to western culture, particularly American culture. 
This is a story with a message: Being born brown or female or brown female does not stop you from being able to go after whatever dream you have. You don’t need to wait for someone to rescue you or tell you that you can. You do the rescuing. Your hard work will open the doors.

The book, PRINCESS Kandake: Warrior by Choice…Appointed to Rule, tells the story of a young girl who dreams of being a warrior, but life dictates that she will rule the kingdom of Nubia. Kandake decides to do what is best for her and for the kingdom. To do this she must learn the value of both—become both, queen and warrior.
Given the way western culture struggles with accepting cultures different than their own, I have two questions for you.

If the publishers had their way and put a ‘less ethnic-looking’ Kandake on the cover, how would that affect the book’s attractiveness to you?

In ancient Nubia (and many other cultures) young women announce their coming of age by the baring of their breasts. Does including this as part of the story offend you?

Writing this novel brought me more joy than I can tell. Knowing that my granddaughter will read a story that speaks to her particular beauty and strength puts my soul at rest. But this story is not only for her. It is for EVERY girl who wonders if she can. The answer to that is a resounding YES!

PS. The cover model is one of my beta readers. She’s beautiful, bright, and has a heart full of “I CAN!” By the way, I made the costume she’s wearing.

Get your copy of PRINCESS KANDAKE. It’s available in print and digital formats.

www.smashwords.combooks/view/118541 (for many other digital formats such as Sony, iBook, etc.)

Visit Stephanie at her WEBSITE  and her BLOG.

Thanks for your wonderful post, Stephanie. I've already looked up Nubia and want to know more about the country and its people. I appreciate your opening this culture to me.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday Moods

This time last week had me in a CRANKY MOOD, but I soon recovered, and here I am with a spring in my step and a smile in my heart. Sorry about that cliche, but happiness tends to provoke that kind of thinking in me. I write better stuff with a bit of gloom hanging over my head.

I just subbed my short story for the YALitChat Charity Anthology, so that's one of the reasons for my joyful feeling. I love it when I've "finished" a project. There will be some buzz about this anthology soon and I'll post what's happening.

I really like  short stories because they are such a challenge to write. When they're good they really grab you fast and keep you involved with layered meanings and intriguing characters. They're great for the short read, too. When you don't want to take on a thick novel or biography, the short story is perfect.

Any favorite short stories? I have a few: A Rose for Emily, Lucky Jim and all of the ones in Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man. I'd love it if you'd give me more to add to my list for those evenings when I crave something quick, but meaningful to read.

Hope you'll stop by for my Young Adult Teen Tuesday post. I have a wonderful MULTI-CULTURAL book experience in store.

Then of course I hope you didn't miss my angsty stuff about writing and insecurity last Wednesday. Whew! So many posts. I'm in training for the A to Z Blog Challenge.