Tag Archives: YA

Celebrate the release of Tamara Branch’s new YA/self-esteem book ITGIRL4LIFE!

ITGIRL4LIFE Release Day Blitz banner

We welcome Tamara Branch as she celebrates the release day of her YA/Self-Esteem book, ITGIRL4LIFE!


Author: Tamara Branch
Publisher: Heart Project Publishing
Pages: 98
Genre: YA/Self-Esteem
Format: Paperback/Kindle


ITGIRL4LIFE is available at Amazon. 

Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.

Book Summary: 

Writer, artist and speaker, Tamara Branch serves up 40 bite-sized chapters on how to build unshakable self-confidence, honor your life, and shine bright in the world, in ITGIRL4LIFE: How to bring out your special something and so much more. Packed with sage advice, life-changing insights and affirmations to help you soar, ITGIRL4LIFE offers ideas, tools and principles that you can reference and build upon, supporting you in becoming your best. Get ready to fall in love with your own wisdom, beauty and strength.


YOU have IT. IT is the GREATNESS you were born with. IT is that unique special something that is all yours. Nothing and nobody can take IT away from you. IT is not something that you have one day and lose the next. IT is not fleeting. IT is not temporary. IT does not depend on the judgment or approval of others. IT is here to stay. Your job is to tap into IT. Your ITGIRL4LIFE adventure starts NOW. It’s about loving yourself, being authentic, taking charge and making a difference. You will need a great attitude, an open mind, the desire to grow and expand, the courage to create the life you want and the willingness to be your best self.

Are you ready? Your special something and so much more is right this way.

About the Author: 

“I believe in the power, beauty, strength and amazing potential of girls. I believe girls deserve to feel extraordinary. I believe that when girls shine their light, they are unstoppable!” – ITGIRL4LIFE by Tamara Branch

Tamara Branch is from New York, born and raised in the Bronx. She is thrilled to share her first book release, ITGIRL4LIFE, kicking off the ITGIRL4LIFE self-esteem movement to empower girls to stand up, stand out and shine bright in the world.

Tamara has worked as a professional model and actor for almost two decades. She strutted down the runway for designers Calvin Klein, Donna Karen and Christian Dior, acted in a few independent films, co-hosted PBS New York’s education series, “What’s up in Technology” and appeared T.V. commercials and print ads for Levi’s, Old Navy, Hershey’s, Colgate, Kellogg’s Special K, Revlon, Hanes, Nike and many others. A Penn State alumnus and lifelong student of personal development, Tamara is deeply passionate about uplifting the human spirit.

After graduating from Institute for Integrative Nutrition, studying under Deepak Chopra, Dr. Andrew Weil and some of the top health and wellness experts in the world, she was inspired to raise the bar on her own ‘self care’ and support others in living more vibrantly. She is an abstract artist and teaches a dynamic dance class, where she gets to fuse her varied background, having trained in everything from jazz, ballet and modern to Afro-Caribbean and Salsa.

Tamara was recently asked to become a Female Visionary Author guest blogger for The Brave Heart Women Global Community.  She’s a SAG/AFTRA member since 1998, a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and is represented by Abrams Artists Agency.

Tamara currently lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband of seven years and offers ITGIRL4LIFE workshops to assist girls on their self empowerment journey.

Her latest book is the YA/self-esteem book, ITGIRL4LIFE.

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Excerpt Reveal of Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet by Jenny Ruden



Camp Utopia and The Forgiveness DietTitle: Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet
Genre: Young Adult
Author: Jenny Ruden
Publisher: Koehler Books
Language: English
Pages: 300
Format: Paperback

Sixteen-year-old Baltimore teen Bethany Stern knows the only way out of spending her summer at Camp Utopia, a fat camp in Northern California, is weight-loss. Desperate, she tries The Forgiveness Diet, the latest fad whose infomercial promises that all she has to do is forgive her deadbeat dad, her scandalous sister, and the teenage magician next door and (unrequited) love of her life. But when the diet fails and her camp nemesis delivers the ultimate blow, Bee bids sayonara to Camp-not-Utopian-at-all to begin what she believes will be her “real” summer adventure, only to learn that running away isn’t as easy—or as healing—as it seems.

Her wry and honest voice bring humor and poignancy for anyone, fat or thin, tired of hearing “you’d be so pretty if…[insert unwelcome judgment about your appearance from loved one or perfect stranger].”




“A funny, poignant, emotionally intelligent and beautifully written novel that takes the reader on a journey that is by turns heartbreaking and inspiring. I highly recommend it.”


-Alisa Valdes, New York Times and

USA Today bestselling author



“Ruden’s debut novel is more than merely funny. It skewers our cultural obsession with the superficial, lampooning everything from fad diets to reality television and self-help gurus. And Bethany’s inner journey from bitterness to forgiveness is one that will resonate with all readers.


Read it for the laughs, reread it for Ruden’s profound insight into the transformative power of forgiveness.”


-Mike Mullen, author of Ashfall


“Anarchic slapstick laced with timely truths make this wry, occasionally raunchy debut a standout.”

– Kirkus Reviews



AMERICAN ENVY ENDED without a miracle. No boulder. No cannibal either. There was only an infomercial TJ and I were obligated to view because the couch had sucked the remote under one of its cushions.

The commercial featured a giant fishbowl filled with multicolored scraps of paper. Xylophone sounds tinkled in the background. At first, I thought the commercial was for some kind of craft, like moonsand or a Chia Pet. Then a voice blasted out from the TV:


I was lifting scratchy cushions, rummaging for the remote. When I heard the voice, I turned around.


On the screen that glass bowl glittered again, rainbow swirls of paper spinning around.

I WANT TO HELP YOU, the voice roared

No doubt I had heard various diet infomercials a million times, but never during prime time and never one quite as hypnotic. I couldn’t look away. TJ seemed rapt too. We studied the screen where the fish bowl overflowed with paper like jewels.


There was something about this voice. Like a magnet.

“It’s not about food,” a lady wearing a giant sunhat said. She lounged beside a pool, the glittery bowl positioned next to her sandaled feet.  “I weighed two hundred pounds and thought it was about food.”

Then the woman stood, dropped her towel, and twirled in a gold bikini. “But I discovered it’s about forgiveness,” she said.

“Hey!” TJ said. “My boss went on this diet.”

I shrugged. TJ’s boss at Rent-My-Ride went on every diet.

YES, the voice intoned, IT’S ABOUT FORGIVENESS.

That was when the room darkened a notch. It was dusk, and Baltimore had just breathed its last streak of sunlight against the pavement outside. The city’s gutter smells and sounds drifted past the open basement window. I should’ve told TJ to go home. It was getting late. And it was hot—too hot to even have the television on, which seemed to breathe fire. But I couldn’t talk or move. Even TJ didn’t get up to excuse himself and walk to his row house across the street.

Like my sofa had been slicked with paste, we watched this commercial as intently as we had American Envy. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen entire minutes. There were testimonials from people all over the country. Men and women held up size 20 pants, size 24 skirts, 3XL sweats. Then they pirouetted in something slinky, showed off their skinny jeans, patted their flat tummies.

“The Forgiveness Diet,” they all chimed, was how they did it. THAT’S  RIGHT,  said  the  voice.  WITH OUR  PROVEN THREE-PART SYSTEM YOU CAN DROP THAT UNWANTED WEIGHT.  INSTANTLY.

On the screen, a middle-aged guy stood before the ocean.

“Hi, I’m Michael Osbourne, and I invented The Forgiveness Diet. At twenty-seven years old and three hundred pounds, I was carrying too much weight and too many burdens. I decided to write everyone’s secrets on a piece of paper. All mine too. Then I put that paper inside a bucket. Enough, I said to myself. It’s time to forgive them.

“Before I knew it, the weight vanished. And yours will too. You can read about my innovative approach to mercy weight loss in my new book. If you call now, we’ll even throw in your very own Forgiveness Jar to get things started. For free. Free!

Call now to find out more about this amazing opportunity. Come on, what do you have to lose?” The corners of his mouth lifted as if attached to strings. “Except weight.”

He turned and ran out into frothy surf.

A phone number flashed across the screen. “Maybe you should buy the book,” TJ said shyly.

“Why?” I asked, still staring at the television.

“Because my boss lost mad weight. And fast!”

I rolled my eyes. TJ’s boss was always trying to thrust TJ onto better things. Like herself.

He nudged me gently. “If it worked you wouldn’t have to leave for camp tomorrow. You could see me graduate. Watch me audition.”

“You mean you don’t want me to go either?”

“I mean you could stay here. Just buy the book.” “I don’t have a credit card,” I said.

“What about PayPal? Order the e-book.”

“No e-reader.”

The fish bowl, on the screen again, brimmed with folded pa- pers. fat people walked up to the jar, kissed their papers, and dropped them inside. As they skipped off it appeared they lost the weight before our very eyes.

“You can do that,” said TJ. “Just write down the names of people who have pissed you off.”

“I’m sure the book has some kind of specific directions. There must be more to it than that.”

“Maybe not,” said TJ. “My boss said she just had to for- give her boyfriend for cheating on her and forgive her fingers for stealing change out of the rental cars, and she lost like ten pounds.” TJ stared at his Converse. “Bee, you have a lot of people to forgive. Maybe all that pissiness is stuck inside you making you big, like that voice said. It makes sense in a way.”

I bristled. “It makes absolutely no sense.”

TJ removed his glasses and rubbed them on his shirt, a ritual he only performed when something bothered him. “You could make it like a bucket list. Write everything down like in those long letters you used to write.”

“Those letters sucked. You’re crazy.”

“Your letters were amazing. Just write it true. Then put it in a Cool Whip container.” he replaced his glasses. “You could start with that night, you know. When we almost—”

“Shut up, TJ.”


“It will never work.”

TJ sighed. “It worked for all of them,” he said, nodding toward the television.

YOU CANNOT FAIL the voice bellowed. GUARANTEEDThen the commercial ended.

“I mean you don’t want to go to fat camp, right?” TJ asked. “This might be your only hope.”

“But it’s just an infomercial,” I said. I looked back to the television where a woman discussed a very absorbent paper towel. I dug around behind the sofa, felt the hard plastic of the remote, and pushed the rubber button. The television buzzed off. “How am I supposed to get thin by tomorrow?”

TJ walked to the basement stairs and sat on the third step. Behind him moonlight dripped in the window. It had to be one hundred degrees in my house, yet there was no sweat on his forehead. TJ never sweated. When he opened his mouth, he spoke slowly, as if I were retarded.

“Look, Bee. Remember that guy who levitated on American Envy last season?”

Here we go, I thought. “How could I forget when you bring it up every other day?”

TJ’s eyes darted around the room, and he lowered his voice, conspiratorially, “Well, I finally figured out his secret.”

“Yes, TJ. It’s called Hollywood. It’s called camera tricks.” he stood up on the step and spread his arms wide. Then he brought them together in front of him like he was praying. He put his chin down near his collar and prepared himself for what looked like a swan dive directly into the coffee table.

“It’s called the Balducci levitation. You stand at an angle,” he said, rocking on the balls of his feet. “So from where you’re sitting it looks like I’m floating, but really, my foot is just on my ankle, see?”

We had that American Envy episode on DVR. For weeks TJ was over my house pausing it, flipping his head upside down in front of the television, trying to determine if the contestant had some sort of fan contraption crammed in his pants.

TJ stumbled off the step and landed, face down, on our shag carpet, which was the exact color of a tennis ball.

“Didn’t it look like I was floating a little?”

“No.” I said. Then, “Well, maybe slightly.”

He studied his shoes like they were to blame. “I’m still practicing,” he explained. “My point is that instead of trying to figure out how the Levitator couldn’t do it, I tried to work out how he did.”

“I don’t understand how writing down secrets and forgiving people will make me thin.”

“You don’t need to understand how it works.” TJ stood and stepped closer to me. “You only need to know that it’s possible.” When he reached behind my ear, I expected he would flick out a silvery coin or, if he was feeling mysterious, a gardenia. But he didn’t. He smoothed my hair back behind my ears and looked directly at me.

“You never believe what’s right in front of your face.”

“I believe in you,” I said.

He leaned in. “Don’t believe in me,” he whispered. I could see the red indentations his eyeglasses had pressed into his nose. “Believe in you.”

TJ dropped his hands from my face. When he brought them up again, they held a crumpled ball of paper. I started at it curiously, then I touched it with the tips of my fingers.

“Open it,” he said.

Once in a while, he could still surprise me with a magic trick. “Go on,” he urged.

I slowly uncrumpled the paper.

It read: I forgive my dad for not seeing me.

 “Where did you get this?” I asked, my voice tight.

He shrugged. “It was behind your ear.”


“You’re full of magic, Bethany.”

“Tell me how you did this. Seriously.”

But TJ had slipped into illusionist mode where every movement was choreographed and every smile insincere. He might explain later how he’d managed to write this on a restaurant napkin when I wasn’t looking. He might cop to how he’d found purple ink, my favorite, and how he’d made the handwriting look identical to mine. Exactly like mine. Maybe he’d admit to somehow crawling into my future ahead of me, but not now. Now he only kissed my forehead, lustlessly. The way you would kiss a cat.

“You could forgive him,” he said, referring to the slip of paper, “your dad, for ignoring you at Chuck E. Cheese’s.”

“Stop,” I said.

He plucked the paper from my fingers. “You could forgive me too,” he continued, “for everything. You know. Last year.”

I could, I thought, but I won’t. Leave it to TJ to present it like an option. An option about as viable as a diet based on forgiveness.

“So if you won’t try the diet then will you at least write to me every day you’re gone?” he asked as he readied himself to leave. “Not just texts, e-mails too. Long, epic ones.”

My phone vibrated in my pocket. I pulled it out and read the text he’d somehow sent when I wasn’t looking. you my girl.

He’d never told me how he’d managed that trick either.

Not that it mattered. Tonight, just like every other night, I’d fall for him all over again. I’d believe I was his girl. I’d accept that someone so extraordinary could have a thing for me—someone so ordinary.

And fat.

So fat.




Jenny Ruden has published short stories and essays in Nerve, Salon, Eclectica Magazine, Literary Mama and High Desert Journal. She won an Orlando award for creative nonfiction, was named a finalist in Glimmertrain’s short fiction contest, and has been nominated for the Pushcart prize two years in a row. She has worked with teenagers for over ten years as a teacher of Reading, Writing and GED, and has an MFA in Fiction from the University of Oregon. She lives with her husband, two daughters, two basset hounds and cat in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

She does a flawless impersonation of a normal person. Don’t be fooled. She’s a writer.




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Saving Superman by Kathleen Sales Book Blitz – Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!


Saving SupermanTitle: Saving Superman
Genre: Juvenile Fiction/Social Issues
Author: Kathleen Sales
Publisher: iUniverse
EBook: 178 pages
Release Date: November 21, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-49171-335-8

“Saving Superman…provides a fine psychological novel…a versatile, changing story that closely examines a child’s powers of survival and adaptation.”
D. Donovan, eBook Reviewer, MBR

It is 1956 when ten-year-old Pete Martin runs away from home—straight into a violent storm. As lightning and thunder crack all around him, Pete seeks shelter in a dilapidated shed. But as he approaches the dark building, he suddenly realizes he is not alone.

Jake, a homeless veteran who has carved out a meager existence in the shed, helps Pete warm up and soon discovers that the boy is facing many challenges. Pete’s baby brother died at birth, his father left home, his mother slashed her wrists, and he flunked his grade at school. As Pete confides in his new friend, he learns that Jake struggles with his own internal demons, memories that cause terrifying nightmares and continue to haunt his daily life. But Pete has no idea that he will, very soon, set out on a journey to uncover evil memories lurking in his own past—secrets with the power to either reunite or destroy his entire family.

Saving Superman is a tale about love, forgiveness, and the bond between a young boy and a troubled man as each bravely faces the inescapable cruelties of life.





Kathleen Sales is a retired psychiatrist who worked for nearly forty years in the rural counties around Knoxville, Tennessee. Since retiring, she writes, rides horses, gardens and visits nursing homes with her rescue dog, Chico.


Pump Up Your Book and Kathleen are teaming up to give away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • 1 winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive each of the prizes
  • This giveaway begins March 24 and ends on April 4.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on April 5, 2014.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Interview with Deborah Rix, author of ‘External Forces’

Deborah Rix 7Deborah Rix’s favourite position for reading a book is head almost hanging off the couch and feet up in the air with legs against the back of the couch. She’s been reading too much from Scientific American for research and ideas and needs to get back to some fiction. She has a long standing love of science fiction, some of her favourite authors include William Gibson, Philip K Dick, Kurt Vonnegut Jr, Douglas Adams, Iain M Banks. A bit old school.

Deborah enjoyed a successful career in entertainment publicity, live music promotion and event management. Which means she slogged through muddy fields for music festivals, was crammed into concert halls with too many sweaty teenage boys and got to go to Tuktoyaktuk (that’s in the Arctic Circle) for a Metallica concert. She lives with her family in Toronto, Canada, where she is the proprietor of The Lucky Penny, a neighborhood joint in Trinity-Bellwoods.

External Forces is her first novel.

Visit her website at www.DeborahRix.com.

Connect & Socialize with Deborah!


About the Book:

External Forces 7Treason, betrayal, and heartbreak.

A lot can happen to a girl between her first kiss and her first kill.

It’s 100 years since the Genetic Integrity Act was passed and America closed its borders to prevent genetic contamination. Now only the enemy, dysgenic Deviants, remain beyond the heavily guarded border. The Department of Evolution carefully guides the creation of each generation and deviations from the divine plan are not permitted.

When 16-year-old Jess begins to show signs of deviance she enlists in the Special Forces, with her best friend Jay, in a desperate bid to evade detection by the Devotees. Jess is good with data, not so good with a knife. So when the handsome and secretive Sergeant Matt Anderson selects her for his Black Ops squad, Jess is determined to figure out why.

As her deviance continues to change her, Jess is forced to decide who to trust with her deadly secret. Jess needs to know what’s really out there, in the Deviant wasteland over the border, if she has any hope of making it to her 17th birthday. Because if the enemy doesn’t kill her first, the Department of Evolution probably will.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Deborah. Can you tell us what your latest book, External Forces, is all about?

External Forces is about Jess and her group of friends and the challenges they face in a future where evolution is the new religion and deviations from the divine plan are not permitted. It’s about being a teenager and the choices you have to make as you decide who you are going to be and what you stand for. It’s also about racism and bigotry, ethics in biotechnology, eugenics, the corruption of science by religious belief, the loss of privacy. You know, all the fun stuff.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Jessica Grant is the MC, she is a 16-year-old girl who is at the beginning of her journey to discover who and what she is. She is considered different and has labels placed on her. She needs to decide what she will call herself. Her best friend is Jay. He is gay but pretends otherwise for his mother, although he has no shame or fear about it himself. He begins to explore who he really is as the adventure takes off. Sheree is Jess’ new friend and she doesn’t let anyone tell her who she is. Matt is Jess’ sergeant and the guy she falls for. He knows exactly who he is and he has lots of rules to prove it, until there are no more rules. They are all teenagers faced with a changing world and changing identities.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I’d say it’s 95% from my imagination. The physical aspect is something that I will rely on other people for. Sometimes I think of someone I know or I might scroll through images on a google search until I come across the vague person in my head. Then I can properly describe them and bring them to life. But, no, they are not based on people I know.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

I knew where to start and where I wanted to end up. I discovered a trilogy in between the beginning bit and the end part. I did not have an outline or synopsis or any sort of organizational chart when I started writing. I made all of it up as I went along. I was frequently surprised by what my characters did.

Q: Your book is set primarily on an army base.  Can you tell us why you chose this location in particular?

An army base, or any military setting, is a place where things can happen at an accelerated speed and intensity. Young people are forced to confront impossible situations outside of their scope of experience, and they are expected to make intelligent, rational decisions about life and death. They are also expected to surrender their identities and blindly follow orders. For any reasonably intelligent person this is going to be difficult and fraught with peril. An excellent setting for a book about teenagers discovering their own identities.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Yes. It provides the opportunity for constant conflict with authority. It is also a physical barrier between the inside world and the outside world. The inside world is familiar to the characters, but the border between is heavily fortified and guarded, so the outside world is mostly unknown. Geographically, it was necessary to set up a military base near the Hoover Dam to make the plot work. As it happens, there is a real military base in proximity to my imaginary one.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Jess, Sheree and Jay, the new squad members, are listening to a story told by Ramόn and Boyd, the ‘veteran’ squad members. It is about Matt, their sergeant, and Charlie, his second in command and the strangely symbiotic relationship they seem to have. It is also a story about loyalty and bravery and personal sacrifice and it explains the ethos of the squad.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

This is a scene with Jess and her sergeant, Matt. There is a romantic element developing in the scene and it’s tentative and sweet. But Jess is also discovering some things about herself, discovering that she has some power.

Matt has decided that my sparring skills need some work.

No kidding.

I never expected to be in a combat position, so I didn’t train for this very well. Sheree pointed out that Matt does not do private training with anyone else.

Training is in a small room with a padded floor. We’re standing a few feet apart, both barefoot in loose clothing. My hair is tied back, showing off the last remnants of my bruises beautifully. Matt takes a swing at me, I block it. He aims low, I block again. We’ve been doing this for a while; he is purposely going slow so I can get my technique down correctly.

“You don’t want to tire yourself out by kicking and punching way too hard from the outset,” he tells me. “And blocking is hard on your body, so evade or redirect the punch. The best block is not to be there.”

Now he instructs me to go on the offensive. I throw a few punches, I think I’m actually going to hit him, but the wind suddenly goes out of me. Matt punched me in the gut!

“You still need to protect yourself when you’re attacking,” he admonishes as I stagger back a few feet.

On impulse, I run at him and kick him as hard as I can in the shin. He wasn’t expecting it at all.

“Ow! What was that for?” he asks me indignantly.

“Just something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now,” I answer breezily, attempting not to show how much I hurt my big toe.

He straightens up and looks at me for a too-long moment.


“Let’s move on to some kicks then, shall we?” He sounds almost amused, which takes away any satisfaction I felt.

He demonstrates, and I attempt to duplicate his technique. Matt takes a forward step then spins into a back kick to the middle. I try it, but I can’t keep my momentum, and the kick is way too low. I try a few more times. Matt tells me to slow it down.

He stands right beside me, almost touching, and I follow his movements as he steps forward and shifts his weight to his front leg. Then he reaches over and lifts my back leg by gripping my thigh, and slowly turns me into the kick.

Holding me in the correct position, he leans over to my ear.

“When you do it, follow through all the way. You have to fully commit to it,” he says softly.

It almost sounds seductive. I draw in a wisp of his scent. My heart beats a lot faster. I can still feel his touch after he releases me. I try a kick in slow motion, and I know how to do it. I run through it again, using his hands as a target.

I think about muscle memory, and wonder if it only works with him.

“You don’t have the mass or upper body strength for most slams,” he says, looking me over.

Hand on my hip, I say, “You know, a girl could be made to feel inadequate with that kind of encouragement.”

“Don’t get cute,” he says.

“I’m not.”

“Yes, you are. You’re cute.” He grins.

I shut up.

“The double-leg takedown will be your best approach for getting someone to the ground.” He crosses his arms and gives me the once-over again. “It’s pretty straightforward. Using your forward momentum, you get your opponent off balance by grabbing him at the waist or upper thighs and falling on top of him.”

Without thinking too long, I lunge at Matt, wrap my arms around his waist, and we go down. One of my hands is trapped under his back as I sprawl awkwardly on top of him. Our faces are inches apart.

“So, J. Grant. Do you have me at an advantage or a disadvantage?” he asks quietly, as I stare at his mouth.

With my hand trapped, I can’t pull away, and he has an arm around me, so I can’t roll off. He pushes a stray strand of my hair behind my ear and my skin blazes so hot that he must notice it this time. His finger trails down my neck and stops on my hammering pulse.

He quickly rolls us, so he’s on top. He raises himself up and looks down into my eyes. My breath is quick and shallow.

“I think you have the advantage,” he says, his voice all low and husky.

We stare at each other for a long moment. Then Matt sinks to the mat beside me and gives my hand a squeeze.

“That was a good takedown, J. Grant. Well done,” he says.

I think he means the lunge, but I’m not entirely sure.

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

I haven’t had writer’s block, it’s maybe the opposite. I have had to delete 10,000 words at a time because I couldn’t stop the overflow of words. But each deletion resulted in a much better rewrite. Sometimes I think I need to get the idea out, however badly written, so that I can work with it and turn it into something decent.

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?


Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

Oh, man. I can’t answer this. There are any number of books that I love and can reread multiple times. There are books that I only want to read once, but they are still impactful and stay with me. But do I wish I had written any of them? No. I love those books written by other people but I wrote the book I was meant to write.

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

Oh, I’m the worst person to ask for this kind of advice. Against my own best advice I change my mind about how publishing works on an hourly basis. I guess that’s it, that’s the advice. You need to be flexible, you need to be able to adapt to an ever changing landscape without jumping on every new ‘must-do’ that is being spouted. A year ago ‘platform’ was the mantra, now I’m hearing agents and publishers say authors don’t even need their own website if facebook and Goodreads will do the job. The experts don’t necessarily know what they are doing either.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Deborah.  We wish you much success!

Thanks for hosting me.




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Read-a-Chapter: The PureLights of Ohm Totem, by Brandon Ellis

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the young adult fantasy, The PureLights of Ohm Totem, by Brandon Ellis. Enjoy!



Title: The PureLights of Ohm Totem

Genre: YA Fantasy

Author: Brandon Ellis

Website: www.thepurelights.com 

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It was nightfall. A snow leopard walked toward a split in the river. The wind howled against her body as fur clung to her skin. She leaned into heavy gusts, digging her claws deep into the earth, keeping herself upright. Her eyes were mere slits, protecting her from flying dirt and ash swirling violently in the air. The once lush, sacred land was now burnt to black cinder. Smoke rose from the ground, wildly spinning in harsh wind. The old dwellings, formed from earth and fallen branches, were mostly gone—turned to embers.

She stopped near the river’s edge, facing the mountain range to the west. The mountains stood like black silhouettes amidst dark gray clouds. She turned her head to the north, sensing a group of eyes hidden behind a shadow of trees. They were watching her.

The snow leopard closed her eyes, then took a deep breath. A flicker of light flashed above, casting shadows from clouds, trees, boulders, and smoke across the land.

Opening her eyes, she sat down on her hind legs, folding her long tail over her paws. She stared patiently ahead. More than just instinct had led her here.

Another strong gust of wind lashed against her body, making her grip the earth even deeper. She closed her eyes again. An instant later the wind calmed, allowing her to let go of the charred earth. She looked at the night sky as the gray clouds parted—one half flowed north, the other half south—revealing a star-filled canopy above.

Suddenly she winced. A large comet raced across the sky, painting a crystal-blue streak among the stars above the mountains. Her eyes intently followed the blue comet as it slowly vanished into the western horizon. Then she nodded to the sky, as if communicating with it in some mystical way.

The snow leopard dropped her gaze, eyeing the ground in front of her paws. A rolled up scroll, which wasn’t there a moment before, lay in front of her. Placing her paw on one end of the scroll, she nudged the opposite end toward the river with her nose. It rolled out, revealing gold paper thickly outlined in black.

She stared into it. A word formed, then more, until the scroll was filled with words. It read:


Two children from a forgotten land will purify the energies, bring back the old ways, and unite the PureLights once again, putting an end to the coming Shiver.


~ Windstorm Prophecy


She removed her paw from the scroll, nosing one end closer to the other, and rolled it up. She gently grasped it between sharp teeth, then stood on all fours. She sniffed the air. Danger was near.

A burst of wind buffeted against the snow leopard, slightly unbalancing her. Closing her eyes, the wind slowed to a slight breeze. Opening her eyes, she turned and slowly walked to the east, passing several mounds still smoldering from the fires that had once engulfed them.

She looked north, feeling a group of dim eyes burning deeply into her snowy pelt. She knew they’d killed before. She knew they wanted to kill again.

Continuing to walk eastward, she came to a large dwelling mound half-burnt to the ground. It gave off heat, but little smoke. She sniffed. It was empty of life. She glanced once more at the ruined land and a pain of sorrow sank deep within her. Everything around her was dead. Her friends. Her family. Everything.

Lifting her head, she stared to the north once more, narrowing her eyes as she studied a thick fog hovering in a stand of sparse trees in the distance. Still clutching the scroll, she gave a loud moan and watched the fog for several more moments, waiting for a reply.


Turning to leave, she noticed something on the ground. Something important. Fresh tracks. She sniffed intently—panther scent. Her head jerked, her eyes widened. He’s alive and he was here only moments ago. Why didn’t she sense him?

Just then she heard several yelps. She turned to face six white wolves walking cautiously toward her. Their fur bristled and their ears were pulled back. They advanced toward her with low growls. It was a display to induce fear, one that was wasted on the snow leopard.

Backing up slowly, the snow leopard moved her head from left to right, studying each wolf as the group began to surround her. The closer they came, the tighter she held the scroll. Suddenly she stopped, surprising and confusing the pack. Their usual slaughters involved a chase.

A flash of light appeared silently above. The pack looked up as the light changed from white to crystal blue, sending a hue of color against the land, then it slowly faded away. Something about this omen told the pack that tonight’s prey was different, something they’d never encountered before.

The pack leader glared at the snow leopard as he let out a loud, throaty growl, saliva dripping from both sides of his mouth. The wind from the north picked up just as the leader crouched and leaped at her with bared teeth.

She easily side-stepped the attack. The leader landed directly on the spot she’d just occupied, swiping in vain at empty air. Another wolf sprang. Her back was to him, but she spun out of the way and swatted his backside, sending him further along his planned course. His outstretched paws gripped the earth as he landed, stopping him just inches from a burnt tree.

The snow leopard sat down, calmly looking back at the leader, then exhaled as she placed the scroll on the ground. She licked her paw, wiped her forehead, and picked the scroll back up. She blinked softly, purring. She seemed content with the situation.

The leader pulsed with adrenaline as he jumped at her again, thrusting his feet outward, hoping to knock her over at the shoulders. She crouched, twisted toward him, deftly moving directly under his body just as he was at full height. She flipped on her back, facing her belly to his, briskly planting her feet on his stomach, pushing firmly in the direction he had jumped.

The wolf, surprised, landed much further away than intended, and lost balance, somersaulting head over heels as he yelped with pain. When he stopped tumbling across charred earth, he shook his head, flinging dirt and ash from his fur, then sprang to his feet. He gave a high-pitched growl, signaling the pack to form a line in front of the snow leopard. Growling in unison, they obeyed. The leader barked an order and one by one they attacked her.

And one by one they missed.

The snow leopard shook her body like a wet dog, then sat back down on her hind legs, waiting for the next attack.

The leader signaled for the pack to regroup. They formed another line, standing to the east of her, blocking a throng of trees that formed the outskirts of an enormous forest.

She stared longingly beyond the pack to the forest’s edge. They knew it was her only escape.

She looked up to the night sky as a thin set of clouds whisked by, uncovering a full moon. Her brow crinkled in worry. She must find the panther. The wolves crouched low, ready to attack. This time it was the whole pack all at once.

The snow leopard had had enough. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Instantly, the growls stopped and six thuds echoed through the air. She opened her eyes. In front of her, the wolves lay on their sides, breathing deeply, looking as if they were sleeping comfortably in their dens.

She bowed her head, and then with a flick of her tail sped off toward the wall of trees to the east. Just before entering the forest, she stopped and put down the scroll. She nudged it open, peering into it again. She glanced over her shoulder. The wolves were still asleep. She closed and picked up the scroll and looked up to the night sky. Blinking softly, she purred in gratitude for the scroll held in her jaws. A moment later she leaped forward into the thick forest, vanishing into shadow.




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Read-a-Chapter: Grand Theft Magic by Richard Blunt

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the YA fantasy, Lucas Trent 3: Grand Theft Magic, by Richard Blunt. Enjoy!


Grand Theft Magic

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Blunt Publishing (September 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0985801107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0985801106

After a field trip suddenly turns into a near catastrophe Lucas and the others shift into high gear to avenge their injured friend. But when an unexpected foe arrives at the scene they quickly find themselves in a life or death situation that not even their extraordinary skills can solve. Realizing that they have bitten off more than they can chew Lucas desperately starts looking for trustworthy allies, just to find out once again that things are never as easy as they appear at first.

Can they survive the battles at hand? Will they be able to tell friend from foe? Or will the epic quest they have stumbled into be too much for them to handle?

Follow Lucas Trent and his friends through an action-paced story of mysteries, secrets and deceptions and find out…


Chapter One

It was a cold December day; the year was 2008. Within the corridors of a chemical plant near Luton, England, a teenage boy was running behind two security guards.

“I know that he is here somewhere,” the boy said after running around a corner. “I saw him go that way.”

“I saw him, too, but it seems that he is gone now,” one of the guards said. “Damn thief. Almost like a phantom.”

The guards walked around another corner, continuously looking. The boy continued down the corridor he was convinced he had seen the thief run into. He walked it up and down twice before he spotted the shadow behind a closet.

“Here he is!” he shouted.

Immediately a figure jumped out of the shadow, dressed in a black suit, looking like a modern day Ninja. He ran off through the corridor, the boy in pursuit. After having chased him through a number of hallways, they finally approached a dead end, with only office doors alongside and a small window almost two meters above ground level at the far end of the brick wall.

“Stop. You have nowhere else to go,” the boy yelled.

But the thief had no intention of complying. With an impressive jump, he plunged through the half-open window out into the yard.

“Damn it, what kind of circus clown is that?” the boy cursed. But he didn’t slow down and jumped through the windowalso, following the man in black.

“Base, Base, this is team four,” the security guard that followed a few meters behind yelled into his radio. “The thief has left the building through a window. He should be on the meadow, west of the main entrance.”

“Base copied,” a voice said. “We will send a team immediately.”

Another security team instantly raced out the front entrance to the described area. When they were halfway there they heard two gunshots and in response immediately drew their own weapons.

“Shots fired, shots fired,” the second man in the team yelled into the radio.

When they finally came around the corner, they saw someone lying in the grass.

“Man down, man down. Send an ambulance,” the guard yelled into his radio again.

The first guard continued on around the next corner, while the second one approached the body. It was the teenage boy, lying there unconscious, blood soaking his jacket and his jeans.

“They are gone.” The second guard now also approached the boy as well, holstering his weapon.

“Hold on, boy, hold on. Help is on the way.” The guard had taken the boys hand, pressing it firmly.

Only two minutes later, the ambulance arrived on scene, with three men jumping out of it immediately. The guards made a few steps back.

“Multiple gunshot wounds,” the medic commented. “One in the leg, one in the lower back.” He then started touching and tweaking the boy before continuing, “Patient is alive but unconscious. We need to get him to a hospital ASAP. Jimmy, get the spine board; Paul, see if you can get us a helicopter.”

The other two ran off while the first one started carefully cutting through the boy’s jacket. He had just started giving him fluids intravenously when Jimmy returned with the spine board.

“The bird can be here in 15 minutes at best,” Paul yelled from the car.

“Too long, by that time we can have him at Luton General ourselves,” the first one replied.

He and his colleague carefully moved the boy onto the board and carried him into the ambulance.

“We are heading for Luton General,” he then said to one of the guards. “Please inform the boy’s parents.”

He then jumped in, closed the door and signaled the driver to go. Then they started supplying the boy with oxygen and giving him medication.

“He is coming around,” the second man in the ambulance said.

The boy reached for him and pulled him down to his face.

“Guardian…,” he said with a very weak and shaky voice.

“Yes, your parents have already been informed. They will be with you at the hospital,” the medic replied, smiling at the boy. “Hold on, we are almost there.”

“No.” The boy weakly shook his head and pushed the oxygen mask aside. “Not parents… Guardian….” He coughed and closed his eyes in pain, tears running out of them. “Guardian…,” he then continued with an even weaker voice. “IT College… Lucas… Trent… Darien… Stance… Call them… Please…” With that, he faded out again.

Reprinted from Grand Theft Magic by Richard Blunt. © 2012 by Blunt Publishing

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YA Paranormal Blog Tour: Emlyn Chand Announces Farsighted Book Tour with Pump Up Your Book


Join Emlyn Chand, author of the YA paranormal novel, Farsighted (Blue Crown Press), as she virtually tours the blogosphere December 5 – 16 2011 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!

About Emlyn Chand

Emlyn ChandEmlyn Chand has always loved to hear and tell stories, having emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). When she’s not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm, Novel Publicity. Emlyn loves to connect with readers and is available throughout the social media interweb. Visit www.emlynchand.com for more info. Don’t forget to say “hi” to her sun conure Ducky!

Farsighted is her latest book.

Visit her at Facebook at www.facebook.com/emlynchand and Twitter at www.twitter.com/emlynchand!


About Farsighted

FarsightedAlex Kosmitoras’s life has never been easy. The only other student who will talk to him is the school bully, his parents are dead-broke and insanely overprotective, and to complicate matters even more, he’s blind. Just when he thinks he’ll never have a shot at a normal life, a new girl from India moves into town. Simmi is smart, nice, and actually wants to be friends with Alex. Plus she smells like an Almond Joy bar. Yes, sophomore year might not be so bad after all.

Unfortunately, Alex is in store for another new arrival—an unexpected and often embarrassing ability to “see” the future. Try as he may, Alex is unable to ignore his visions, especially when they begin to suggest that Simmi is in danger. With the help of the mysterious psychic next door and new friends who come bearing gifts of their own, Alex must embark on a journey to change his future.

Visit her official Pump Up Your Book tour page here! Don’t forget to join Emlyn and fifty other authors at the Pump Up Your Book 1st Annual Holiday Extravaganza Facebook Party on December 16th! Visit Emlyn’s tour page for more details!

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Guest Blogger: YA Christian Fantasy Horror Author Christine Schulze

One question I am often asked is how Bloodmaiden came into existence. One question I would like to answer today is: How did the four dynasties of Sulaimon come into existence?

To answer this, I must talk a little how the book came into being at all. I originally had an idea for a book where the heroes traveled to the four kingdoms of four corners of a land to collect parts of a powerful, magical song called the Aria. The book would be called The Quest for Aria. Later on, when I decided to incorporate other ideas, namely those in the opening chapters of Bloodmaiden, the book took on a darker, more serious feel and thus needed a darker, more serious title.

The four kingdoms in the four corners of the land needed to be unique, because I had done quest-related stories before and don’t want to ever make any two books too similar. I had never done a fantasy with dragons before, namely because I’d never really read any dragon fiction I really liked. So, I decided to write a book with dragons that I myself would enjoy reading.


It’s always hard to remember which concepts came first for each aspect of the story. In this case, I’m uncertain whether using dragons, having four Aria, having a dynasty where dark rituals were followed, came first. Eventually though, as things came together, I conjured the idea of there being four dynasties where humans and dragons lived in harmony. For each dynasty, the dragons protected the humans. In turn, the humans offered a yearly tribute, such as the best of their crops. For each dynasty, the tribute would be different. And for one dynasty, Tynan, the tribute would have turned corrupted and horrible over the years.

Next came naming the dynasties and creating them. The entire world in which the dynasties are set became “Sulaimon”, a name I made up because it was close to “Solomon”. In the Old Testament of the Bible, Solomon is the richest king to ever live. I wanted “Sulaimon” to reflect the land as a very rich, prosperous land.

The four dynasties were each meant to have their own type of dragon race, human race, and culture. I did a bit of online research for types of dragons and, as ever, added details to make the dragons and their dynasties my own. Here is a glimpse into the process that crafted these dynasties.

Zale is my favorite dynasty. It’s very oriental, from its structures to its dragons, with their long snaky bodies and wise, meditative character. Although, interestingly enough, the human race there is more Jamaican as far as looks and speech. The name Zale is actually a Greek name meaning “sea strength”, which is perfect considering the dynasty of Zale is set off the coast of Sulaimon. The dragons of Zale are a kind, patient breed, and it is here that Crisilin learns that not all dragons are vicious creatures to be feared.

Gauthier is a German name meaning “people of power” or “army of power.” This dynasty is meant to reflect a medieval European feel. These dragons are all about brute strength and bravery, as opposed to the quieter wisdom of Zale. Here Crisilin will learn that all dragons have weaknesses just like humans; they are not alway as all-powerful as meets the eye.

Varden has a more tropical feel. I was thinking South American when I created the dynasty, though others may imagine otherwise. They are a dynasty rich in art and culture and focus on the intellectual side of life, their great love being riddles of all kinds. Varden means “from the green hill”, reflecting Varden’s rich agriculture. It is set in a deep valley which is literally a tropical rain forest. In Varden, Crisilin and the others actually partake in the dragons’ riddling and, more than learning about their dragons, learn about their own, deepest desires and fears.

Finally, our heroes must return to Tynan. Tynan is a cold place. The dragons are icy white, reflecting the condition of their hearts. Their white can also represent a blankness, an ignorance though, which will come into play towards the end of the story. One could even think of their white as an ironic purity representing what they consider a purifying yearly ritual. Tynan comes from the Gaelic for “dark, dusky”. An appropriate name for a dynasty living in perpetual darkness, upon which dusk has fallen until it can be saved.

Crisilin does not necessarily expect to, but in returning to Tynan, she learns something about those dragons as well. However, I’ll not spoil that. I’ll leave my readers to join Crisilin on her adventure and discover the truth for themselves.

Christine E. Schulze has been creating books since she was too young to even write them in words. Her collection of YA fantasy books, The Amielian Legacy, is comprised of series and stand-alone books which can all be read separately but which weave together to create an amazing fantasy. She hopes to inspire readers throughout the world with these books by publishing in both traditional and electronic formats to make them available to all readers.
Christine has published several stories with Calliope and Kalkion magazines and is an active member of the WE book online writing community. She has also published several Christian/fantasy books which are available at various online retailers, as well as publishing several eBooks via Writers-Exchange.

Her latest and most exciting venture includes her publications with Old Line Publishing: Bloodmaiden and Tears of a Vampire Prince: the First Krystine. She also anticipates her upcoming publication with Old Line, Lily in the Snow, as well as releasing The Chronicles of the Mira with Writers-Exchange in both paperback and electronic forms.

Christine currently lives in Belleville, Illinois in her first and most thrilling apartment.

You can visit Schulze at Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3242087.Christine_E_Schulze or her blog at www.goldenhealeratwork.blogspot.com.  Connect with her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/Chasmira or Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/Chasmira.  Like her Fan Page at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Christine-E-Schulze/158265555890.


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