Monday 31 October 2016

YA Author Leigh Goff Works her Magic in the Kitchen and on the Pages...

Leigh Goff is here with a delicious Halloween treat that can be adapted for any special occasion. Work your magic, Leigh! I came across this fun recipe on the internet, tried it, and loved it. I hope you do, too.

Melted Witch Pudding Parfaits
Vanilla Snack Pack pudding cups
Green food coloring
Brownies, crumbled into smaller pieces
Oreos, crushed
Reddi Whip Whipped cream
Halloween sprinkles

Dye the vanilla Snack Pack pudding cups green. This can be done in each individual pudding container or transfer all of the pudding to a bowl and then add the green food coloring until you get your desired color. Set aside.

Assembling the Parfaits
Layer brownie pieces in the bottom of each glass. Divide the brownie pieces evenly among the parfaits.

Spoon on a layer of whipped cream.
Add the crushed Oreos.

Ladle the pudding on, filling each glass full.

Add Halloween sprinkles and top with the witch's legs.

For best results, enjoy these parfaits within a few minutes of making, otherwise the ingredients can become soggy.

Witch's Legs
paper straws
black paper

Cut paper straws desired length, about 4½ inches long. HINT - don’t cut them too short or you won’t have enough straw to stick into your parfait.

On one end of your paper straw, make two small slits across from each other, this is where will you put the shoe. Repeat this process until all the legs are assembled.

Draw shoes on the black paper, cut out, and then insert in the slits on the straws.

How about a glimpse into my witchy novel while you enjoy your parfait?

In Disenchanted, Sophie Goodchild is a sixteen-year-old witch living with her eccentric aunt in the small town of Wethersfield, Connecticut—the sight of the first American Witch Trials. She is descended from a powerful black witch, but struggles with her erratic white magic while dealing with a mean girl witch clique known as the Glitterati, who love to make Sophie feel like she is less than they are.

Sophie is beautiful with wild waves of sable-colored hair, eyes the color of dark blue sapphires, and heart-shaped pillowy lips. More importantly, she is beautiful on the inside, although she hides it well behind her impatience and impetuousness, which makes her very relatable.

It is those heart-strong characteristics that lead her into trouble, and since she is ruled by her heart, she’s all in once she finds trouble. She is fiercely loyal, determined, and fearless and there is nothing she wouldn’t do or sacrifice for the ones she loves, especially when she learns of the true love curse her ancestor cast on the Mather family.

When Judge Mather, a descendant of the reverend who condemned Sophie’s witch ancestor to hang, finds out his handsome son (who has recently returned to Wethersfield with a sexy British accent and a face that could melt a black witch’s heart) has fallen hard for Sophie, things get even more dangerous for her. Dark secrets come to light and impossible choices are made as Sophie sacrifices everything, including her soul to save her forbidden true love.

Buy Links: Mirror World Publishing - Amazon

Leigh Goff loves writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it's also what she liked to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area's great history and culture.

Leigh is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Maryland Writers' Association and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. Her debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Mirror World Publishing. Leigh is currently working on her next novel, The Witch's Ring which is set in Annapolis.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Monday 24 October 2016

Get Ready for Halloween with JoAnne Keltner's Goth Girl, Virgin Queen Book Blog Tour...

Welcome to the 2-week blog tour for Goth Girl, Virgin Queen by JoAnne Keltner.

Follow the tour and connect with bloggers, read reviews of the book, and meet the author.

How to Carve a Pumpkin that Will Scare (but not repulse) Trick or Treaters

What better way to invite Trick or Treaters to your doorstep than with a carved Halloween pumpkin. But if you’re like me—unable to draw a straight line with ruler and better skilled at carving a pumpkin for deer feed—you’ll benefit from this trick I discovered that can help you create a Jack-O-Lantern that’s horrific in a good Halloween way. The trick: use stencils! The treat: you’ll have a carved pumpkin to be proud of!

Where to Find Stencils

Free is always better...well, at least if you’re trying to go cheap. I discovered several sites from which you can download free stencils (patterns). Below are just a few of the sites I downloaded patterns from:
!         Pumpkin Masters:

Before downloading a file from any website, make sure it’s a reputable site and that you have virus detection software installed and running on your computer!

If downloading files from the Internet frightens you, you can always buy the stencils from a store like Wal-Mart, Target, or Party City or from an online store like Amazon. Stencils are sold as part of pumpkin carving kits and are also sold separately.

Keep in mind that unlike downloadable stencils, which are just patterns, most purchased stencils have the image cut out or are perforated so you can cut the image out yourself; hence, they are actual stencils. This allows you to trace the features onto the pumpkin with a marker instead of having to poke tiny holes into the pattern and pumpkin to transfer the image.

Tools You’ll Need

!         Stencil or pattern
!         Small nail or poking tool (if using a pattern)
!        Marker (if using stencil)
!        Scraper
!        Pumpkin carving saw or small serrated knife
!        Tape
!        Newspaper

How to Apply Image and Carve the Pumpkin

1.) Cover your worktable with newspaper.

2.) With the pumpkin carving tool or small serrated knife, cut a circle around the stem of the pumpkin wide enough to fit your hand into. This circle, complete with stem, will later serve as a lid. So, when you cut out the circle, cut at a slight angle toward the stem as this will help keep the lid from falling into the pumpkin.

3.) Clean the seeds and goo out of the pumpkin using the scraper tool. You can use a big spoon to scrape the insides out or use the scraper tool that came with the kit. Dump the goo and seeds onto the newspaper for easy clean up or into a bowl if you plan on making pumpkin seeds.

4.) Tape the stencil or pattern onto the pumpkin. Be sure that the outside of the pumpkin is clean and dry so that the tape will stick to it, and be sure that the stencil or pattern lies flatly across the curved surface of the pumpkin.

5.) If using actual stencil, use the marker to trace the image onto the pumpkin. If using a pattern, use the poking tool by inserting the tool into the design to transfer the drawing. Holes should be spaced about 1/4" apart.

6.) Remove the stencil or pattern from the pumpkin.

7.) Use the carving saw or small serrated knife to cut along the drawn or perforated lines on the pumpkin.

8.) Proudly display your carved pumpkin!

Here’s a picture of my finished product. For the cat cutout, I used a kit, and for the Jack-O-Lantern cutout, I used a free pattern from The Pumpkin Lady website and a small nail to poke the holes for the image. Not too shabby, eh?

Book Information:

Title: Goth Girl, Virgin Queen

Author Name: JoAnne Keltner

Genre(s): Young Adult Paranormal

Length: Approx. 298 pages

Release Date: December 3, 2015

About Goth Girl, Virgin Queen:

Calling Jackie Turov psychic makes her cringe. But Jackie’s no normal seventeen-year-old. She picks up emotions from people and objects like a freak. The emotions make her sick, and the guilt she feels for lying to her church when she was twelve causes her to deny her psychic abilities.

So Jackie goes goth to make others stay away from her and forget her past. But her past is soon resurrected when her jealous friend Trish invites a demon, a persecutor of healers, to steal away Jason’s love for Jackie. The demon causes Jackie to be bullied for the lie she told and puts her best friend, Jason, in danger.

Jackie must learn how to use her gift to protect Jason and herself and to heal the negative energies of those around her. To do so means she must overcome her guilt and accept who she is before the demon claims her soul.

Enter the Goodreads Giveaway:

Read an Excerpt:

The medicine cabinet mirror—dotted with rust and turning gray—made the powder foundation on Jackie’s face look ashen and her jet-black hair, blurry. She looked like a shadow of a girl. She smeared black lipstick on her lips and shook out her shoulder-length hair. Her straight-cut bangs veiled her mascara-lined eyes, and the layered ends of her hair stuck out in defiant wisps.

Some of the kids at school—the ones she didn’t hang out with—called her Goth Girl. Some, whose memories wouldn’t die, called her VQ for Virgin Queen.

Jackie preferred Goth Girl, to be one of the living dead, to be numb to the emotions that plagued her. But this was what she wanted, not what she got.

Goth Girl or Virgin Queen, she was a freak, absorbing the emotions around her like a sponge. Sometimes the emotions made her sick. Sometimes they made her see things.

Because of this, she kept to a tight-knit group of goth friends—Jason, Zeta, and Trish—and avoided social activities. She attended high school only because Mom wouldn’t let her homeschool. Mom was afraid she’d hang with Babu all day, making piroshki and doing needlepoint instead of studying. Jackie, afraid of what life offered a freak like her beyond high school, had to admit that hanging with Babu all day was tempting.

Typically, Fridays were movie nights for Jason and her, but tonight would be different. Tonight, she’d subject herself to a hodgepodge of emotions from crowds and rides and the very ground she’d walk on to protect Jason. For this, she would need physical and spiritual strength, which she sought from Babu these days.

Babu’s door was cracked, and Jackie slowly pushed the door open. “Babu?”

The room smelled of beeswax and down. A candle burned on the shrine on the dresser. The flickering flame animated the icon of the Virgin of Vladimir and cast shadows across the picture of Babu, Grandma, Mom, and Jackie. Although Babu didn’t speak English, and Jackie didn’t understand much Russian, Jackie knew Babu kept that picture on her shrine to pray for Grandma, who passed away several years ago; for Mom, who divorced Dad; and for the girl who saw the Virgin when she was twelve—for the girl she had become as a teen.

Babu sat in bed, a country quilt spread over her legs, her thumb pressed against a knot of her prayer rope, her head bowed sleepily, and her lips wording prayers.

“I wanted to say goodbye,” Jackie whispered.

Babu crossed herself and then smiled at Jackie, her gold eyetooth shining from the light of the bed-stand lamp. She patted the empty space beside her. “Sadees.”

Jackie sat down beside Babu at the edge of the bed and took Babu’s hand in hers. Babu’s hand was warm and knotted with arthritis. Jackie rubbed her thumb over the bumps on Babu’s knuckles; her black fingernails were a sharp contrast to Babu’s flour-white skin.

She wasn’t afraid to touch Babu’s hands and absorb her emotions. Jackie got a good feeling from her. Babu filled Jackie’s inner vision with white light. She renewed her spirit. And this is what Jackie needed for the commitment she had made for tonight.

Kooda eedyosh?” Babu asked.

“I’m going out,” Jackie said as if Babu understood her. This is how they communicated: Babu telling her stuff she couldn’t understand, Jackie telling Babu stuff she couldn’t understand. Somehow they carried on fine this way.

Eedyosh sdroozyamee?”

“I’m going with Jason.”

Babu rubbed the top of Jackie’s hand and ran her thumb over black fingernails. “Fsyevo kharoshevuh,” she said in a comforting tone and gently squeezed Jackie’s hand. Then she cupped her hands around Jackie’s jaws and pulled her forehead to her lips. Jackie imagined Babu’s kiss imprinted on her forehead and carrying Babu’s blessings and love with her tonight.
Meet the Author:

JoAnne Keltner is the author of Goth Girl, Virgin Queen (Solstice Publishing, 2015) and Obsession (Musa Publishing, 2013 ed.). As an only child and avid daydreamer, she spent hours alone in her backyard on the South Side of Chicago, which she imagined to be everything from an alien planet to the Antarctic. She currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her husband, four dogs, cat, and three chickens. When she isn't writing or freelance editing, she's obsessively streaming popular TV shows.

Social Media Links:

Monday 17 October 2016

Fire up those Time Portals for The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret...

Well, it’s finally here! Book release day for The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret through Mirror World Publishing. There’s a Facebook Party happening today from 4-6 p.m., so if you get a chance, I’d love for you to surf by and get to know me, and even enter for a chance to win some awesome prizes. Plus, I’ve hooked up with Sapphyria’s Book Promotions for a virtual book blog tour starting today, October 17th to October 21st, so I’m pumped about that! And as an added bonus, I’ve got one signed first edition paperback up for grabs through my Goodreads Giveaway starting October 17 to November 11th.

I also want to include what I have written for the Dedication and Acknowledgements section in The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret because it’s so important to be grateful to those people who have supported me throughout this particular venture, and will most likely continue to do so in the future. So, without further ado, here’s the icing on my proverbial cake:

For my brother, Ian. I am truly grateful to have gotten to know you better during the last two years of your life. Until we meet again, please reserve a glass of scotch for me.

As always, life is a team effort, and nothing is done without the help and support of others. The following people are in some way connected to the fabric of this work, to which I am eternally grateful:

Thank you to Justine Alley Dowsett, my fabulous boss at Mirror World Publishing, editor extraordinaire, and now one kick-ass book cover artist! I applaud you for keeping the vision of my young adult time travel series intact and unique, and I truly appreciate your support, investment, and creative expertise. Also, a big high five to Robert Dowsett, our resident expert on anything Double-O-Seven. Cheers, mate!

Thank you to my mother Peggy, who experienced World War Two first hand as a young girl, and survived to pass down her many war stories. And always, thank you to my hubby Mike, who keeps me grounded, balanced, and most times sane.

A special shout out goes to my Authors Moving Forward group, especially to my cohort and our fearless leader, Sloane Taylor, and to author and friend, Christine Hayton. You’ve all shown me that it truly takes a virtual village to raise an author. Thank you all for your show of kindness, support, caring, solidarity, and teamwork. May your lives be blessed with many bestsellers!
Last but not least, I want to thank all the men and women who fought courageously in past wars, and continue to fight today to keep our country free and safe. I salute all of you. God Bless.

Follow the Tour:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret by Sharon Ledwith

The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret

by Sharon Ledwith

Giveaway ends November 11, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Monday 10 October 2016

Reaping what you Sow in Life and in Writing…

Have you ever stripped a piece of furniture to give it a new life and a fresh purpose? Recently, I finished a project that I’ve been dragging my feet on, and found the process actually refreshing and satisfying. I inherited my late brother’s trunk, which he in turn inherited from our late father. It was sooo dated that it would have made a great prop for a pirate movie. Yet, there was so much history and character to this trunk, I wanted it for a personal challenge, as well as to have a keepsake from my brother and father. So, after being ‘stuck’ as my hubby called it, in the garage since February, I began to seriously work on my trunk at the end of the August.

Honestly, I really, really hate the stripping process. It’s kind of like editing the first draft of your book. You know you have to grin and bear it to remove the gunk, and get to the bones of the story. So you do it. My elbows and hands are still screaming at me! Slowly, but surely, the old red and gold paint peeled off to reveal the trunk’s original color. The poor thing appeared so naked, so exposed, like a newborn baby with bits of after-birth stuck to it. Sorry for the visual, but it’s true.

Next came choosing the new paint color. I wanted to go with a dark brown—mostly to hide all the flaws in the trunk’s body caused by my scraper. Perhaps I used little too much elbow grease. Hubby helped me with this part, carefully spraying the sides, allowing the trunk time to dry, then giving it another coat. Covering the flaws reminded me of the care a writer takes in creating characters. Like the gouges and grooves in my trunk, your characters NEED flaws because readers must feel some sort of connection with them. Readers WANT to cheer on those flawed underdogs, see them scream, watch them change and grow. And when that connection happens, they wholeheartedly invest in your characters and the hell authors drag them through.

Once the paint was completely dry, it was on to varnishing the trunk. Boo-yah! This was a painstakingly long process, done by hand. But there was no turning back now! I did two coats and allowed the varnish time to dry and hardened. Like revising and polishing your book before submitting for publication (self or traditional), the varnishing step protects and gives a glossy finish to the trunk to give it life. This process reflects something every writer needs to do in order to get the best quality book in the hands of their readers.

Finally came the finishing, the piece de resistance. I wanted the trunk to be cedar-lined. Call me anal (hubby did), I don’t care. I wanted to be able to use the trunk to store bedding for guests, as well as double as a coffee table. I’d already invested quite a lot of time and money into this project—think how much time writers invest in their books, and you’ll understand me completely. So I went all in and did it the way I visualized the trunk that I wanted. This was hubby’s job, as he’s a skilled woodworker and finisher. And he didn’t disappoint. The trunk smelled of cedar (love the smell) and had a fresher, cleaner look to it. Truly an improvement my brother and father would have been proud of!

Speaking of improvements, Book #2 of the Last Timekeepers time travel series, The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret was originally written in 2001. There’s been so many revisions and rewrites to this novel that fifteen years later, I’m so proud of the final product. I do hope you get a chance to check it out when this Timekeeper mission is released on October 17th! So grab your spy gear and suit up, the Timekeepers are going undercover in their next time travel adventure! Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!

Monday 3 October 2016

Six Things Writers Can Learn from Harley-Davidson…

Harley-Davidson logo
Brand building. It’s the backbone of any company or person. It’s how consumers identify with you. Know you. Want you. Need you. What does this have to do with Harley-Davidson? Plenty.

Recently, hubby and I watched a three-part movie about how the Harley-Davidson company was born on the Discovery channel. Boy did I learn a lot about running a business and branding just by watching that movie! The story focused on three partners: William (Bill) Harley (the engineer/creator), Arthur Davidson (the salesman/marketer), and Walter Davidson (the risk-taker, promoter). Together, these entrepreneurs gave the world of motorcycling an experience that felt like ‘an explosion between your legs’. Bill Harley’s words, not mine! LOL!

Here are six things I learned from Harley-Davidson…

Create buzz. To build excitement and promote their product (think about this in terms of your book/books) Harley-Davidson sponsored a racing team named ‘The Wrecking Crew’ whose seat-in-their-pants racing style got the press the company needed to get on the map and stimulate sales. Okay, writers don’t need a Wrecking Crew. But what about a Street Team, or a legion of super fans waiting in the wings for your next book? Use your website, blog or email list to create the buzz your book(s) need to get them flying off the shelves.

1907 Harley-Davidson
Find your tribe. Arthur Davidson worked hard to generate sales. He started bike clubs, opened free beer tents at events to loyal customers, and had special offers/incentives to returning buyers. He was a trail-blazer of social media one hundred years before social media was even born. He engaged first, then sold. That’s what writers should be doing on social media—connect and engage with their target market first. If they trust you enough, they’ll ask about your book.

Look outside of the box. Always looking for ways to market his motorcycles, Arthur Davidson approached the U.S. Postal Service and convinced them to trade their bicycles for Harley-Davidsons. He followed through with the Fire and Police Departments and eventually won them over. When the three partners met with the military during WW1, Arthur suggested that they send mechanics (for FREE) to teach the soldiers how to fix their motorbikes in case they broke down while they were overseas. This strategy worked, and they shared the contract 50/50 with Indian Motorcycle, the number one motorcycle company at the time. BTW—Indian went bankrupt in 1953. Writers need to look outside the box too. There’s plenty of opportunity around, even if you have to offer your first book (or a short story) for free.

Focus on those little extras. Walter Davidson recognize the allure of the motorcycle look and culture, so he launched a campaign to sell Harley-Davidson accessories and clothing which remains a major part of the company’s success to this day. Writers can open a ‘store page’ on their website (you have a website, right?) and sell items that are connected to their books, like T-shirts, coffee mugs or water bottles imprinted with their book cover, or even jewelry.

Re-brand or face-lift when the unexpected happens. The stock market crash of 1929 hit Harley-Davidson hard. There was no disposable income, and barely any sales. Bill Harley decided to give his motorcycles a much needed face-lift during the Depression. He redesigned their block-letter logo, and added a stylized eagle. The company also started offering their motorbikes in an array of different color schemes too. So when book sales are down, this gives writers an opportunity to redesign their book covers, or pull books off the virtual shelves and re-edit them. After all, Harley-Davidson built their company on a quality product, so shouldn’t you?

Continue to develop. By the late 1930s, Bill Harley developed a new model that ended up being a breakthrough for the company. Sales soared with this bigger, badder, and more powerful machine. By the time WW2 began, Harley-Davidson had gained the respect of the military, and were asked to ship over 90,000 military-style motorbikes overseas to be used by the Allies. When the war ended, people returned to motorcycle riding with a deep respect and trust for the Harley-Davidson brand. So, while you may have one or more books out there for sale, it’s best to work on the next one, and continue to develop your brand and author platform. You never know. Your next book may be your ‘breakthrough’ book!

Is there a company out there that you’ve learned some tricks and techniques from to help build your writing career? How are you building your brand? Please leave a comment and share what you’ve learned. Cheers for reading my blog, I truly appreciate it!