Faith Blum’s newest novella is available! This one is double trouble! Not only is it about twins, but these twins have reckless and adventurous spirits. When they go against their family, they run into more trouble than they bargained for.

About the Book

Just as I am, without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Eve and Evangeline Collins are adventurous twins who decide to take a risk and head west as mail order brides. Their parents are less than pleased, but do nothing to stop them. Eve and Eva don’t realize their danger until they stop just outside Cheyenne. Will they ever see their family again? 

Imagine with me a city. You’re almost there. It’s a city you’ve always wanted to go to. The [enter your favorite mode of transportation] that you’re in is creeping ever closer. Then it stops.

Almost there, but not quite. Laurel Garver is with us today to talk about her book, Almost There. Let’s see how many times we can use the title in different contexts.

About the Book

Paris, the City of Lights. To seventeen-year-old Dani Deane, it’s the Promised Land. There, her widowed mother’s depression will vanish and she will no longer fear losing her only parent, her arty New York life, or her devoted boyfriend.
But shortly before their Paris getaway, Dani’s tyrannical grandfather falls ill, pulling them to rural Pennsylvania to deal with his hoarder horror of a house. Among the piles, Dani finds disturbing truths that could make Mum completely unravel. Desperate to protect her from pain and escape to Paris, Dani hatches a plan with the flirtatious neighbor boy that only threatens the relationships she most wants to save.
Why would God block all paths to Paris? Could real hope for healing be as close as a box tucked in the rafters?

About the Author

Laurel Garver is a writer, editor, professor’s wife, and mom to an arty teenager. An indie

film enthusiast and incurable Anglophile, she enjoys geeking out about Harry Potter and Dr. Who, playing word games, singing in church choir, and hiking in Philly’s Fairmount Park.

Contact links:


David turns onto my grandfather’s driveway. We pass through towering brick gateposts and a grove of imposing oaks, then come into a clearing. Poppa’s ranch house sits on a small knoll like a beached warship with its gunmetal-gray siding and front porch sticking out like a prow. A cluster of cannons sits in the shorn grass and oversized toy soldiers guard the front door. Tall shrubs hunker around the house like evergreen sentinels.
“Welcome to the fortress, girls,” David says. “You impressed? You’re supposed to be.”
Heather gives me a sideways look.
“I didn’t know about the cannons. Holidays are always on our turf. Dad’s rules.”
As we park beside the equally imposing garage at the far curve of the driveway, Rhys runs alongside the truck, barking.
“How the heck did he get loose?” my uncle says. “I had him tied up out back. He must’ve jiggered the latch, little devil.”
We pile out of the truck into the muggy evening air, thick with the scent of grass clippings and musky, sticky-sweet flowers. A billion crickets chirp a threatening cacophony, reminding me that this is their crawly, leggy, wingy territory. I shudder.
David unloads our bags and we follow him up to the house and into the air-conditioned foyer. The cool air smells stale and attic-like. At first glimpse, I can’t tell why Mum was worried about social workers freaking about “the conditions he’s living in.” If anything, Poppa’s living room looks like a museum. Banks of shelves hold all kinds of trophies, medals, and ribbons. The walls are lined with framed newspaper clippings and photographs. Rhys sniffs around the white leather sectional sofa that faces a pale brick fireplace and a huge painted portrait hung over the mantel — Poppa in the dress uniform of a Navy officer.
“Wow,” Heather whispers in awe. “Your grandfather must have been quite the heroic guy back in the day.”
“Nope,” my uncle says. “He never served, just pretended with a re-enactment group. Bought that uniform at an estate sale and had Mama paint him in it.” 
My stomach twists. What else in this room is a lie?
The shelves, I notice, hold awards not only for breaststroke — Mum’s best swim team event — but also baseball, field hockey, track, wrestling. “Where’d all these come from?”
“Some are your mom’s for swimming and art. A few are mine from debate. You might say they started his passion for collecting.”
“You mean he boughtthem?”
David shrugs. “He likes flea markets. He likes success.”

“Could be worse,” Heather assures me. “My great uncle Vance collects taxidermy birds. Feels like you’re in that Hitchcock movie at his house.”


You’re almost there! Just a few clicks here and a few clicks there and you’ll arrive! Arrive where? Why, you’ll arrive at the rafflecopter page to enter the creative giveaway.

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Tour Schedule 

July 25
Bookish Orchestrations-Tour Introduction
Robyn Campbell-Review and Author Interview
July 26
July 27

July 28
July 29
Peggy’s Hope 4U-Author Interview
July 30
Bookish Orchestrations-Giveaway Winner


Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don’t forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 

Author’s name:   Aimée Marie Bejarano
Title of book and/or series:  Aiden Jenson Presents, The Gateway (part one)
Brief summary of the story:  
A single mother’s world comes crashing down when a paranormal creature appears through a supernatural gateway in her home.  The creature kidnaps her eldest child then returns for another on the same day of the week. Meanwhile, a popular journalist, Aiden Jenson, on a new assignment will go toe to toe with this creature to get the story. But one thing he wasn’t expecting. He’s beginning to care for more than just his impending deadline. When all of Grace’s children are stolen, she and Aiden know they must enter the gateway.
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:  
The world is an alternate dimension, a realm belonging to the creature. The more you read, the more you realize it is in some part of hell. It is a blazing hot, rocky surfaced dome with an ambience of red throughout.
If we were to visit the gateway as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?  
I’d recommend you hide within the shadows so you’re not seen.
What dangers should we avoid in the gateway?  
You must avoid remaining in the creature’s realm too long as it is extremely hot. You must also avoid allowing the creature to know of your presence or you may wind up lost in his realm forever.
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in the gateway?  
No. Food and water is withheld in the gateway.
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in the gateway?  
You will see a good deal of fighting with double edged swords within the gateway.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to the gateway?  
It is far too hot for any sort of technology to last within the gateway. Anyone can enter but it doesn’t mean you can escape.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in that gateway that we don’t see on Earth?  
You will encounter a worm which dies not. It has no eyes and merely uses its senses to find fresh meat.
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in the gateway?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.   
There is a great deal of supernatural elements in this story. For instance, some question the existence of portals and this story explores what happens when one is opened. No one seems to know how or why at first, but when the gateway materializes, smoke arises and a paranormal creature steps through to earth, you will see all the supernatural details of the story.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?  
Just a dream. I fell asleep one evening and had a frightening dream.  That’s when Aiden Jenson Presents, The Gateway came to fruition.
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?  The existence of God, Jesus and Satan is a big topic. It is an ever growing controversial subject. Some have their own version or belief of God while others may not believe in Him or in Satan at all. That is spoken of in great detail.
Author Autobiography: Reverend Aimée Marie Bejarano is a Christian YA Author of inspirational, historical fiction and paranormal thriller/horror novels. She’s a country girl living in the great state of Texas. Aimée’s a musician and has worked with the youth for years. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, and gardening. Her inspiration comes from the Lord and delves into good books, movies and things of the supernatural and paranormal enlightening people to what God’s word says on the controversial subjects. On cool evenings, she loves taking leisure walks. Writing is not only a calling but a means to get away into the world of imagination. Aimée is an ordained Reverend and loves the youth, personal prayer and welcomes prayer requests.
Aimée began writing at the age of 16 when home schooled. A simple creative writing assignment turned into a book.
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book(s)?  Please include links.
My novel can be found not only in kindle but in paperback at a considerable discount.  My author link here the best way to find both the kindle and paperback.
Where can readers connect with you online? 
Author and Friend Page-
Book Page-
Twitter-  @Spokenamos

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to the gateway.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to another world, in Realm Explorers Part XCXIV!
-Annie Douglass Lima
Thank you so much for having me on your blog today! I’m delighted to reveal the cover for my upcoming release, Flare, Book Two of The Sunless World, an epic fantasy series with a steampunk flavor.


Rafe and Isabella are back

The mages of old saved their world, but left it in eternal darkness. Now it’s time to bring back the light. 

After two years of training his magical gifts, Rafe returns home to a land wracked by war. Desperate states struggle to protect their resources of luminous quartz. Magic pulses and earthquakes devastate a world on the brink of extinction. Rafe’s old enemy Karzov has gathered a band of prodigies obedient to his will. He seeks the power of the ancient mages for an audacious and sinister purpose. It’s up to Rafe and his ally, Isabella, to stop himóand undo the mistakes of the past to put their world right again.

Flare will be out in September 2016!

The Sunless World series

Quartz: The Sunless World introduces a rich and credible backdrop to the adventures of her characters, with a deadly political mire underlying the bright colours of high society.” – By Rite of Word Reviews

This story is fast, fascinating and highly recommended.” – review

The Sunless World series begins with Quartz (Book One) and Flux (A Sunless World Novel).

About the Author
I create weird worlds full of magic and machines, and write characters who are called on to be heroes. I’m fascinated by light and darkness, transformation, and things that fly. Giant squid and space dragons appear in my work – you have been warned! A native of Pakistan, I now reside in Northern Virginia, where I read, write, doodle, avoid housework, and homeschool my children.

Find me online at:

Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don’t forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 

Author’s name: A. J. Bakke

Title of book and/or series: Crashing the Game, 3rd in the Hidden Level Trifecta
Brief summary of the story:
Three friends are teleported into a dimension that was created based off of online video games. Unfortunately, the dimension was built with evil intentions so they have to find a way to shut it down.
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
There is a world called Deart that is hovering on a dimensional border, poised to crush Earth into oblivion if it ever falls through. A magical barrier currently keeps the worlds apart, but since they are so close, magical anomalies allow for cross over between both worlds. Some of the characters involved are from Earth, some are from Deart.
The main focus of the story is in the gaming dimension which I had a blast creating because I like playing World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2. It was fun referencing some of the different ‘cliche’ personalities and phrases one comes across in gaming. I liked putting my characters in clothes designed for aesthetics rather than practical use in a battle situation.
Since my imagination had no boundaries (not that I really let it have boundaries, anyway) I was able to make up some fantastical scenery for them to travel through like peacock palm trees.
Some of the characters had no experience with gaming at all, so they make some comical errors. And of course, there has to be a few glitches thrown in there! Ah, the frustrations of falling through the ground and getting stuck! Or lagging atrociously.  
If we were to visit the gaming dimension as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
Ride horses through the different zones and admire the scenery! Check out the local inn for each town to enjoy a delicious meal. Ride the dragrizzles across the Chasm of Fiery Wrath! Visit the puzzle maze that will put your courage to the test! (I highly recommend going in as an avatar rather than your own body due to many potential hazards)
What dangers should we avoid in the gaming dimension?
Stay on the roads if you don’t want to fight a lot of random monsters. It’s terribly annoying to have to waste time constantly fighting one monster, then another, then a whole mob of them.
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in the gaming dimension?
Not really, though the food and drink have funny names like a ‘Fizzy Bobble’ or a ‘Dancing Duck.’
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in the gaming dimension?
Magical spells and gaudily decorated weapons come with some awesome special effects, especially when players find the upgrades.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in the gaming dimension that we don’t see on Earth?

What game is complete without…DRAGONS?
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in the gaming dimension, Deart and Earth?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
Between all three dimensions, Earth isn’t particularly aware of magic. Deart relies more on magic than technology and is more of a medieval, old western, sword and sorcery setting.
The gaming dimension is made entirely of magic and happily defies many laws of physics. In that dimension, spells are cast by a certain set of motions as per the rules for that particular setting.
Regular magic on Deart and Earth prefers to be in the shape of a sphere somehow. However, the rules are very bendy and really, magic knows no bounds if someone has the fortitude to make it do what they want. Thankfully, there aren’t a lot of folks with that powerful of a gift.
There are mages, who use magic as an outside force to affect things.
There are radiants, who can use magic to affect minds.
And there are resonants, who can’t really use magic themselves, but they can be tied to and enhance a mage’s power. It requires a mage to tie a resonant to a radiant.
There is my little catch phrase “Cats are attracted to power.” Where there is magic, there are cats.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
The Ape Caves for part of it. I love horseback riding, so there are horses in there. And, of course, online gaming!
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
Much of the story encircles a character who suffered a lot of physical and emotional abuse in the recent past.
Author Autobiography:
I love writing books and riding horses! I have six cats who like to flop on the couch with me when I read, write, or watch stuff on Netflix. I have one awesome, human roommate, and I am a companion home provider for an individual with autism who also happens to be my cousin.
I like to read fantasy, mostly. And, as you may have guessed, I enjoy playing World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2.   
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your books?  Please include links.
You can find my books roaming the wilds of Amazon!
Where can readers connect with you online?

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to the gaming dimension.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to another world, in Realm Explorers Part XCXVIII!
-Annie Douglass Lima

Series Info: The Landry’s True Colors Series is a clean reads young adult humor series about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, middle school and high school, frenemies, crushes, and self-image. It’s a clean reads book so it’s suitable for ages 11 and up.

Blurb: Landry Albright just wants to be one of the interesting girls at school who always have exciting things going on in their lives. She wants to stand out, but also wants to fit in, so she gives in when her two best friends, Ericka and Tori, push her into trying out for a teen reality show modeling competition with them. Landry goes in nervous, but impresses the judges enough to make it to the next round.

However, Ericka and Tori get cut and basically “unfriend” her on Monday at school. Landry tries to make new friends, but gets caught up between wanting to be herself and conforming to who her new friends want her to be. Along the way she learns that modeling is nowhere as glamorous as it seems, how to deal with frenemies, a new crush, and that true friends see you for who you really are and like you because of it.

What people are saying about the Landry’s True Colors Series:
From Teenage Book Recommendations in the UK: “This is a fantastically relatable and real book which I feel captures all of the insecurities and troubles which haunt the modern teenage girl. It is about a young model who has to go through tough times when she is torn between a life as a model and managing her friendships. You learn which friends she can most trust and which will create the drama typical of teenage life. Follow the life of Landry and try to see if you can find out which are her true friends before their true colours are revealed. This book is all about relationships, hopes and truth. I loved this book!”

From Books & Authors Spot: “This book is such an inspiration for those who just care about their looks and are tensed about them. This thing is looks aren’t everything. This book is related to every teen’s problem. Hager has written a very inspiring novel.”

“Krysten captures the teenage girl today. The struggles are real, the issues are something children have been dealing with since before I was a teen, and oddly-Krysten captures the readers! I was prepared for another “Mean Girls” story. This is NOT that. This is the real story of teenage girls! You watch Landry flower into a young woman who finds out trust is an invaluable item to find, and friendships are hard to seek genuine realism in. You will learn about relationships with not just friends, but peers, boys, and others. The details put into the book will draw you, and make the story so much more realistic. Krysten expresses emotions beautifully through her writing, and the story flows flawlessly…” By Candice J. Conway Simpson

“True Colors, is just a dazzling story of how middle school kids show their true colors of jealousy, drama, loss and gains of friendship. However, the way Krysten wrote her story; she wrote it with passion, creativity and honesty that this story line could be placed in anyone’s life at any age.” Review by Double Decker Books

 “Krysten Lindsay Hager understands what it means to be a teen today, and she writes with an authentic voice. Landry, the main character, is funny, lively, and very real. Readers will relate to her struggles with friends and family, self-esteem and self-discovery, boys and school and life in general. It’s fun to read about Landry’s blossoming modeling career and the changes it brings.” Review by Author Diana Jenkins

The competition was for girls between the ages of thirteen and seventeen, but it felt like Ericka, Tori, and I were the youngest ones there. I only saw a couple of girls from school, and the lineup looked more like something you’d see on a music video set. All the girls were gorgeous, and they had these curvy womanly bodies. I looked like a skinny little kid next to them. The first girl walked out, and I heard the judges say she “owned the runway,” and, “walked like a gazelle.” I was starting to feel ill. I wasn’t sure which way it was going to come, but I knew I had to find a bathroom — fast. I started to get out of line when Ericka grabbed my wrist.

“It’s almost time,” she said. A tiny bit of spit flew out of her mouth and hit my cheek.

I wasn’t sure why she was so intent on me going through with it, but she had a death grip on my arm, so I didn’t have much of a choice. Her number was called and she walked out to the stage. One of the other girls said she walked like a kid with sand bucket stilts on her feet, but she came back with a smirk on her face like she knew she’d get chosen.

“They said they had never seen such long legs,” she said.

Tori was next.

“She walks like a gorilla at feeding time,” said the girl behind me. I went next, and I tried to focus on not tripping over my feet. My mom’s pumps had a rubber sole on the bottom, which probably wasn’t the brightest idea seeing as my shoes were making squeaking noises as I walked. I was so nervous I couldn’t stop smiling as I walked. I looked like the plastic clown who blows up balloons with its mouth at the Pizza Palace. When I got to the end of the runway, I tried to cross my feet to turn like the other girls had, but I over rotated and ended up doing a full spin which made my kilt fan out and gave the mall walkers a view of my blue underpants. I tried to act like it was intentional and did an extra turn. One of the judges put her hand up to stop me, and I held my breath as she started to speak.

Best Friends…Forever? (Book 2):
Landry Albright hopes the new year will start off in an amazing way—instead she has to deal with more frenemy issues, boy drama, and having most of her best friends make the cheerleading squad without her. Suddenly, it seems like all anyone can talk about is starting high school next year—something she finds terrifying.

Landry gets her first boyfriend (her crush, Vladi), but then gets dumped just as things come to a head with her friends. She feels lost and left out, but finds good advice about dealing with frenemies from what she considers an unlikely source. Landry faces having to speak up for what’s right, tell the truth (even when it hurts), and how to get past the fear of failure as she gets another shot at competing in the American Ingénue TV show modeling competition. Will she get a second chance with her friends, fame, and Vladi?

Landry in Like (Book 3):
Things seem to be going well in Landry Albright’s world—she’s getting invited to be on local talk shows to talk about her modeling career, her best friends have her back, and her boyfriend Vladi has becoming someone she can truly count on…and then everything changes.
Suddenly it seems like most of the girls in school are into hanging out at a new teen dance club, while Landry just wants to spend her weekends playing video games and baking cup-cakes at sleepovers. Then, Yasmin McCarty, the most popular girl in school, starts to come between Landry’s friendship with her best friend Ashanti. Things take a turn when Yasmin tells Vladi that Landry is interested in another boy. Can Landry get her relationships with Ashanti and Vladi back or will she be left out and left behind?

Author Bio:
Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, the celebrity world, values, and self-image in True Colors, Best Friends…Forever? Landry in Like, Next Door to a Star and Competing with the Star. Best Friends…Forever? was ranked at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values & Virtues Fiction and True Colors is an international bestseller. Her work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Bellbrook Times, the Grand Haven Tribune, and on the talk show Living Dayton.

Author social media links:
Amazon US paperback:
Amazon US ebook:
Amazon UK ebook:
Amazon AU ebook:
Amazon CA ebook:
Barnes and Noble:
Barnes and Noble Nook:

Book Blurb
When 9 year old Alice Carroll disappears during a school shooting she is left wondering if time travel is all it’s cracked up to be.
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Science Fiction, Time Travel, Girls & Women
Pages: 310
Release Date: 12 July 16  

Winner of the 2015 A Woman’s Write Competition for fiction!

When Alice Carroll is in grade three she narrowly escapes losing her life in a school shooting. All she remembers is the woman comforting her in the moments before the gunshot, and that one second she was there, the next she wasn’t. It’s bad enough coming to terms with surviving while others, including her favourite teacher, didn’t, let alone dealing with the fact that she might wink out of existence at any time. Alice spends the next few years seeing specialists about her Post Traumatic Stress as a result of VD–Voldemort Day–but it’s not until she has a nightmare about The Day That Shall Not Be Mentioned, disappears from her bed, is found by police, and taken home to meet her four-year-old self that she realizes she’s been time travelling. Alice is unsure if her getting unstuck in time should be considered an ability or a liability, until she disappears right in front of her high school at dismissal time, the busiest time of day. Worried that someone may find out about her problem before long, Alice enlists her best friend (and maybe boyfriend), Pete, to help her try to control her shifting through time with limited success. She’s just about ready to give up when the shooter is caught. Alice resolves to take control of her time travelling in order to go back to That Day, stop the shooting, and figure out the identity of the stranger who’d shielded Alice’s body with her own. Buy

Buy I Was, Am, Will Be Alice at Amazon, Google Play, iTunes and Kobo.

Excerpt from I Was, Am, Will Be Alice

Alice is 9

The first time it happens, it happens like this: I’m huddled beside the bench in the grade three cloakroom, head scrunched against my knees, hands clasped behind my head. I hear the shots, three of them, and I swear my heart stops pumping each time. There’s a woman next to me, kneeling, whispering in my ear, telling me it’s going to be okay, but I’m either too frightened or it was too long ago to remember exactly what she says. Her hand grips my shoulder firmly, and there’s a familiar quality to her voice that’s somewhat soothing. The man’s heels clack into the cloakroom and the gun cracks as he readies it for the next shot. The woman stands and I can tell by the air she moves with her that she’s taken a step toward him. Her lips make a wet sound as if she’s parted them, and she draws in a breath as if to speak, and then the gun booms─it’s deafening─and she goes down. I scream and I go away. When I come back the woman is gone. So is the man with the gun. The classroom door opens with a whoosh. My breath catches in my throat and my heart thumps in my chest and I hear shoe clacks again…

Alice is 9

“Alice?” a man says when the clacking stops. It’s loud enough to snap me from my trance. “You’re covered in blood! Are you okay?” I blink at him. “I don’t think it’s mine.” The man, Principal Cotton, clucks his tongue and says, “For God’s sake, girl, why are you still here?” I shrug my shoulders. I have no idea. His shoes click away. When they click back he has a woolen blanket in his hands. I feel the warmth of his body as he nears and the wet warmth of his breath at the back of my neck as he drapes the blanket over me. He’s a smoker. I can tell. The blanket’s scratchy, like Daddy’s beard on a weekend morning. It starts to slide off me, but I grab as much of it as I can and pull it close. Mr. Cotton holds his hand out to me. I take it and let him lead me to the office.

* * *

It’s weird sitting in the Bad Kid Chairs, and I get A Case of the Nerves waiting for my parents to come. I have to breathe deeply and evenly; the last time I got A Case of the Nerves, I went away, and I don’t want to do that again. Not here. Not now. By the time my parents come for me, Mr. Cotton has let me get washed up. My clothes are sticky in places where the blood is still wet and hard where it’s dried in others. We sit in his office, the four of us around a small, round table. I try to picture us sitting this way in a coffee shop, waiting for the waitress to take our orders. Mom orders a latte, lactose free and with three sugars. Dad orders something slushy. Mr. Cotton looks like a tea man to me. I order something fruity and icy with lots of whipped cream. Mr. Cotton says, “She was curled into a ball when I found her,” spoiling the illusion. “She was just glued to the spot, huddled into a ball and holding her breath.” “Where did the blood come from?” Mom sniffles. I hate it when she cries. “We don’t know. She seems physically unharmed.” Mr. Cotton shuffles the papers on the table in front of him. “I want to give you this.” He hands her a pamphlet. “Grief councillors will be here for the foreseeable future to talk to the children who need it, but seeing as Alice was so close to…well, to the action, Post Traumatic Stress is a likely possibility.” Mom gasps. “Oh God!” Dad reaches for her hand. I sit in my chair taking long, deep breaths, willing myself to grow smaller and smaller until I disappear. “Call this number, Mrs. Carroll. There are councillors there to help you cope, too. Support groups and the like.” Mom reaches for a tissue from the box on the table. She blows her nose, looks at her lap, and continues to weep. “Thank you, Mr. Cotton,” Dad says. He stands up and shakes the principal’s hand. He touches Mom’s shoulder and she stands, too. She nods and forces a smile at Mr. Cotton. “Come, sweetie,” Dad says to me. He takes my hand and pulls me from my chair.

* * *

The drive home would be silent, but for Mom’s sniffles and snorts and gasps. When we get there, she announces, “I’m going to lie down for a bit.” She smiles at me and says, “You can lie with me if you like, Alice,” as an afterthought. I nod. I don’t feel like being comforted by my mother. I feel embarrassed at losing control. Ashamed at being found by Mr. Cotton of all people, just sitting there, crying like a baby. I want to eat chocolate cake till I puke and crawl into a hole somewhere and die. “Ice cream sundaes, kiddo?” Dad asks. I nod and smile in spite of myself and follow him into the kitchen.

About Elise Abram:
Elise Abram is high school teacher of English and Computer Studies, former archaeologist, editor, publisher, award winning author, avid reader of literary and science fiction, and student of the human condition. Everything she does, watches, reads and hears is fodder for her writing. She is passionate about writing and language, cooking, and ABC’s Once Upon A Time. In her spare time she experiments with paleo cookery, knits badly, and writes. She also bakes. Most of the time it doesn’t burn. Her family doesn’t seem to mind.

Social Media Links:
 Here’s where you can learn more about Elise and her writing:

| Blog | Facebook Author Page | Facebook Book Page | Twitter |
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Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don’t forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 

Author’s name: Gwen Dandridge
Title of book and/or series: The Dragons’ Chosen
Brief summary of the story:
The dragons came from beyond the Crystal Mountains, demanding a virgin sacrifice…and Princess Genevieve learns she’s it when she’s handed a golden token–the mark of the chosen. Genevieve accepts her fate. She must, in order to save her kingdom. But the journey to her final destiny is complicated by the arrival of Chris, a 1970s Berkeley co-ed. To Chris, the whole scenario reeks of deception. Where she comes from, corsets are for burning and virgins are hard to find. She’s sure the dragons are out for more than innocent blood, but the only way to find out what they really want is to accompany Genevieve on her journey. Not what she had planned for her freshman year of college. Genevieve is duty-bound–unless Chris is right. Then her sacrifice would mean nothing. Other than woe to those who duped her…
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
This story begins in the grassy hills and valleys of the medieval kingdom of Verdeux. Off to the west are the steep Fandrite mountains and within that–the Crystal caverns.

If we were to visit Verdeux as tourist, what would you recommend we see or do there?
It depends on your level of adventure. If you’re the adventurous type, head beyond the borders of Verdeux to the Crystal caves and explore the depths of these. There you can marvel at the curious rock formations that grow within. The Fens would also be interesting—if you have a high tolerance for midges and other biting insects. For those of you who are not so daring, the castles are wonderful, cool in the warm summers and fun to explore. For myself, I would be off horseback riding across the rolling hills of Verdeux!
What dangers should we avoid in Verdeux?  
Verdeux is a stable country without many predators. Once out in the wilderness, there are many dangers: fire boars, wolves and, of course, dragons!
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Verdeux?
Roasted fire boar if you are in the company of dragons! Otherwise, normal fair for that time: mead, ale and wine to drink; game to eat (venison, pheasant, grouse). It’s a heavy meat culture so you wouldn’t see many green vegetables. J
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Verdeux?
Swords, bows, trebuchets, lances are all incorporated in warfare in medieval Verdeux.
What type of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Verdeux?
Horses and horses pulling carts. Carriages haven’t been invented yet so riding in carts is pretty rough.
Tell us about any sports, games or activities that are available for entertainment in Verdeux.
Princess Genevieve and her father are both avid chess players. Most of the royals play card and board games to while away the hours. During the evenings troubadours are invited to sing and play during dinner. Storytelling is widely used as a way of passing time and socializing. You could join in at a country dance, it doesn’t take much talent, just a desire to have fun and enjoy the music. During evenings, skits are put on by the locals. Sit down and enjoy the show.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
I’ve traveled quite a lot in my life and lived in different cultures. I also read widely. These have strongly influenced my writing. Chris lives in a 1970’s Berkeley culture and I lived there during the 1980’s. Genevieve’s world is more medieval French. My stay in France for three months, climbing castle walls and scrambling over drawbridges, gave me a smattering of insight into what a medieval world might have looked like.
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
In the book I touch on a number of hot-button issues but in a gentle and subtle way. I want people to think.
1. What are the desirable traits for females in different societies?
In my book, Genevieve and Chris are both strong females in their worlds and both define strength differently. Is strength defiance or is there strength in sacrifice? Is standing up for yourself important or is submitting yourself to the greater good the better way. At any given time, how do you tell which way is best?
2. What does it mean to be human? What defines that?
3. What is most important in love?
Genevieve and Chris have to answer these questions. For each woman there are different  issues and different choices. How does one decide? What qualities would you want in a partner and why? What qualities would you willing to sacrifice for the perfect partner?
4. Who are you outside of the world that you are raised in?
Would you behave differently if transported across the world to a different culture? Would you change as a person or would you adhere to what you already know?
5. How do you react to adversity? Both Genevieve and Chris are presented with difficult situations. Each one reacts based on her understanding of how the world works. Could there have been another way?
Author Autobiography: Not so long ago, my life centered around Morris and Sword dancing, I started writing around the time I ended my fifty-bell habit. During the last fifteen years I have belonged to SCBWI and have been active within the group. My golden retriever and my husband keep me hiking and roaming the hills. I dabble in stained glass, baking and gardening. When opportunity arises, I also make weird piñatas and hang out in my tree-house.
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book?  The Dragons’ Chosen is available as a paperback or in epub, mobi, pdf, lrf, pdb, txt or html versions.
The paperback and kindle versions are available here:
The pdf version can be found at:
Where can readers connect with you online? 
I love to hear from readers. Contact me at my facebook account at
Or on my web page at

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Verdeux.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to another fantasy world, in Realm Explorers Part XCXVII!
-Annie Douglass Lima
Authors, have you ever given out links to your book on Amazon, and then wondered if someone would try clicking on them from, say, India – and not be able to purchase them from the Amazon US store?

The solution is to create a global URL that will take anyone, from any country in the world, to your book’s page in their own country’s Amazon store. Here’s how to do that in ten easy steps!

1.) Go to and log in or create a free account. (You can do this without an account, but I recommend creating one so that all your info will be there later for you to go back to. For example, the next time Amazon sets up a store in a new country, you’ll want to be able to just add that one to your list without having to do everything all over again.) Make sure you wait until you receive a confirmation email, and click on the link in the email to verify your account. Parts of the process below won’t work before your account is verified.

2.) Click on “Country”. Here’s what you’ll see (don’t be confused about how it says “music”; this really will work for books):

3.) Where it says “default URL”, paste in the link to where your book is available on Amazon. Even if you’re not in the US, you might want to use the link to the book on the Amazon US site, since that’s the most commonly used one. That’s where the global URL you’re about to make will take people if the system can’t figure out where they are in the world, or if their country doesn’t have its own Amazon store.

Be sure you know whether the link you’re using is to the paperback edition, or the ebook. Either will work, but you want to know what you’re directing people to. 🙂

4.) Open a new tab and go to, then sign in to access your KDP Bookshelf. Next to the title of your book, there’s a drop-down menu that says “view on Amazon”. There, it has links to all the different Amazon stores around the world where your book can be found (US, UK, etc.)

Click on the links to open each one in a new tab.

5.) Back at the Smart URL site, go to the section that says “Country Destinations”. Where it says “Country”, type in the name of one of the countries where Amazon has a store, e.g. India. Then go to the tab you opened where you can see your book in the Amazon India store. Copy the address from there and paste it into the bar that says “URL” next to “country” on the Smart URL site.

6.) It’s possible that the site will then automatically fill in the names of more countries and your book’s address in them. However, it may not include them all. Check back on your Bookshelf to make sure every country with an Amazon store is really represented in the list. If not, click on the orange circle with the + on it, to the right of the URL bar back on the Smart URL site. It will open up a spot for you to do fill in the information again with a new country. Keep doing it until you’ve entered the information for all the different Amazon stores.

If you want to test the links, you can copy them one by one and past them into your browser. You should see them take you to your book’s page in the other Amazon stores. However, I’ve never had a problem with the system filling in incorrect links.

Here’s how mine looked when I was done with this step (though depending when you read this, I may have gone back and added more countries as Amazon adds more stores):

7.) Below that, where it says “Organize (Optional)” you can create a custom alias using the name of your book, or part of the name. For example, I have for my book The Gladiator and the Guard.

8.) “Description” is just for your own reference. In mine, I wrote “The Gladiator and the Guard from any country.” If you plan to do this for multiple books, it’s helpful to have a description that will remind you which one is which.

9.) I don’t use anything below that in the online form. If you want to look into it, you’re on your own. 🙂 But the most important part is, make sure you click the orange “Save” button at the bottom!

10.) After that, you’ll see a button at the top right in the black bar that says “my smartURLs”. If you click on it, you’ll see the one you just created, with a “Create smartURL” button at the bottom that will let you create more. Here’s what my screen looks like, with all the smartURLs I’ve created for my various books:

If you hover your mouse over the word in the first column, you’ll see three little icons appear. The middle one, shaped like a clipboard, will let you copy the URL to your clipboard. You can then paste it into your email signature, a document of your own for offline reference, a form on a promo site where you’re submitting your book, etc. And anyone, anywhere, who clicks on it will then see your book in their own country’s Amazon store!

For the release of my YA action and adventure novel The Gladiator and the Guard, I put together a
huge blog tour, along with a giveaway. Some parts went better than others, so here’s what I did, how it went, and how it all worked. I hope this will benefit someone out there!

Several weeks before the release date, I used SignUpGenius to create a form where people could sign up to host my new book on their blog on certain dates. I love that site – it makes everything so convenient, and keeps track of all the information in a nice organized format! If you haven’t used it, I highly recommend checking it out. (Best of all, it’s free!)

I used Rafflecopter to set up my giveaway. In case you’re not familiar with how that works, it’s another great free site! It creates a form that can be embedded in or linked to from a blog or website, and the same form can be placed on multiple sites. People can enter the drawing for the giveaway – in this case, to win an Amazon gift card and a digital copy of my first book in the series, The Collar and the Cavvarach – through a number of means. I set it up so that those included retweeting a tweet about the giveaway, following me on Twitter, liking my author Facebook page, etc.

I set up the blog tour to last about six and a half weeks, which in retrospect was too long. At least, it was too long for me, what with my day job and other things going on in life. I just didn’t have the energy to keep up with everybody’s blog posts toward the end! For each day, I gave bloggers several options for different types of posts: author interview, excerpt, review, basic premade post, or “other” (with a place for them to fill in their suggestions). That meant that most days, four or five different people were featuring my book on their blog at once. Which was great for exposure, but it got to be a lot for me to keep up with in terms of sharing the links on my social media and visiting each one. And I think my Facebook friends got tired of me crowing over all the places The Gladiator and the Guard was being talked about every day!

How did I get bloggers to sign up? Well, I posted in four or five different author groups that I’m part of on Facebook, asking people to click on the link to sign up to host my book. Then I went through my records in my author email account and also on this blog, and made a list of every author who I had ever hosted or whose books I had helped to promote in any way. I typed up a form email describing my new book, explaining about the blog tour, and asking if they’d be willing to help. But I sent it out to one person at a time, personalizing each email by addressing them by name and sometimes making additional comments based on how well I know them or what interactions we’d had in the past. And for each participant, I offered to include one of their social media links in the Rafflecopter (so that following them on Twitter, for example, was one way for people to enter the drawing).

Although I included the link to the SignUpGenius form in my email and asked people to put their info there, it was amazing how many people did not click on it but instead just emailed me back to say that yes, they could help. With some, it took a few emails back and forth before they understood that SignUpGenius was the place to let me know what kind of post they wanted to do on what day. A few never did fill it out, so I just filled it out for them. (Besides keeping all the information in one place, the advantage to having it on SignUpGenius is that the system will automatically email participants a reminder about what they signed up for a couple of days beforehand.)

Responses came in thick and fast, several per day for the next couple of weeks before eventually fading off to a trickle. I didn’t want to lose track of who I had already communicated with about what, so I created an Excel spreadsheet with columns for the blogger’s name, their response (if they were willing to help or not), what I did in reply (e.g. sent them a review copy of the book if they requested it), what I still needed to do (e.g. send them the links for where to post their reviews, once the book was live). Unfortunately, SignUpGenius does not allow people to leave links anywhere on their form, so authors had to email me separately to tell me their Twitter handle or Facebook page to include in the Rafflecopter. So, I made another column in my spreadsheet to keep track of that information and whether or not I had added their link yet. Then I made a final column to fill in later, to indicate when I had sent all materials they had requested for their blog.

Many busy bloggers requested the premade post. I posted it on my own blog too; you can see it here. It included basic info about the first book in the series, plus the covers of both books. I also included The Gladiator and the Guard‘s back cover blurb, buy links, my own social media links, and a brief author bio and author pic (though I didn’t include those last two on my own blog, since my readers already know me and that info is available elsewhere on my blog). Of course the Rafflecopter giveaway was on there as well. I offered to send all this to bloggers in html, so that they wouldn’t have to format everything and put in all the pictures separately. Almost everyone enthusiastically took me up on the html offer, with only two or three people asking for the text and pictures separately so they could set it up themselves. I always prefer html when I’m hosting someone else’s post on my blog. It’s so much quicker and easier!

I know from my own experience in hosting others’ blog tours that I don’t always remember exactly what I’ve signed up to do, especially when I sign up far ahead of time. It helps when the author emails everyone a list of who is doing what kinds of posts on what dates, or when she sends me a specific email with the exact info I need. When she sends one email with fifteen attachments to everyone who signed up, saying, “Download and use the ones that apply to you,” it’s a lot more confusing. (But SignUpGenius makes it easier for everyone to check exactly what they signed up for.) Anyway, I sent out separate emails to people, giving them exactly (and only) the materials they had requested, which I think helped to avoid confusion and frustration. It did take me a little longer that way, but I’m glad I did.

As a blogger myself, I know that many bloggers host lots of authors’ books and help with various blog tours. When I emailed people about the event, I made sure to mention the name of my book each time. After all, I often get confused when someone sends me an email that just says something like, “Please add a note to the bottom of your post to tell readers my book will be free at the time,” with no mention of what their book is or when it’s scheduled to appear on my blog.

I asked every blogger involved if they would please tell me the permalink to their post once they got it set up. Only a small handful did (maybe 10%?) though a few others emailed me the day their post went live to let me know. In most cases, I had to simply search online to find that person’s blog in order to share the link on my social media. If you’re featuring someone, I suggest you let them know exactly where and when! You want them to help drive more traffic to your site, right? And it’s easy to set up a post ahead of time, at least on Blogger. (I can’t speak for WordPress, but I know people who do it there too, so I don’t think it can be too hard.) Just use the “schedule” button at the right to choose a date, and click on “permalink” to see the exact link to that exact post. (I’m editing this to add: someone who blogs on WordPress just told me it’s easy there too. You can do it through the calendar icon to the right of the “publish” button.)

When the book was live, I emailed everyone who had agreed to review it and gave them the links to several places to leave reviews: Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo. By the next day, there were 10 reviews up on Amazon, but only a few in any of the other places (though someone did point out that you can’t leave a review on Smashwords if you haven’t actually obtained the book from there). More reviews trickled in over the next few days and weeks from people who couldn’t quite make the deadline. I found I didn’t mind too much about the delay. I’m grateful for reviews any time I receive them! But I do wish more people had left reviews in more of the places I’d asked them to.

I have no way of knowing how many people visited each blog when my books were featured there. However, I definitely noticed that I had more entries in the giveaway when the title of the person’s blog post mentioned the giveaway. It makes sense. Not everyone cares to read every blog post, even by a blogger they like. But if they know beforehand that they could win something – well, who doesn’t like free stuff?

Each day, I made sure to visit each of the blogs that was hosting The Gladiator and the Guard that day and leave a comment thanking the blogger. I’ve always been told that’s good etiquette, and people seemed to appreciate it. I admit that I did get a little behind, especially toward the end of the blog tour when things got busier in my non-writing life, but I caught up on all of them eventually. I also made sure to share the links on my social media every day (though I didn’t do that for the ones who just posted the premade post, since I figure none of my friends wants to read the same description day after day). Each time, I tried to say something unique and interesting about it, such as a hint of what the excerpt was about, or a question or two from the interview, to get people curious and make them want to click on the link. I always tried to tag the blogger when I did so, so that their friends would see it too. I was surprised at how many of the bloggers did not say anything on their social media when the posts went live on their blogs. I’ve found that doing so is the best way to drive traffic to my blog. (Well, that and having other people share the links too.)

Anyway, here are a few of the main points that I took away from the whole blog tour experience. I intend to make sure I apply both the suggestions for authors and the ones for bloggers from now on!

Suggestions for Authors:
If you have a premade post for people to share on their blogs, get it formatted on your own blog first, and then give them the option of receiving it in html format. It saves bloggers time!
Only send each blogger what she really needs. Including lots of attachments that don’t apply to everyone just makes it confusing and makes more work for people who are doing you a favor.
Mention the name of the book being featured each time you communicate with a blogger.
When emailing bloggers individually, mention the date on which they will be featuring your book (at least if they have not sent you the permalink to the post. If they have, they’ve obviously got it scheduled and don’t need a reminder).
Visit each blog that is hosting you when the post is live, and leave a comment to thank the blogger.
When you do, check the box that says you’d like to receive email notifications when anyone else comments (so you’ll know if other people are talking about your book or the post).
Share about each blog stop on your social media to help direct more traffic there.
When you do, tag the bloggers involved.

Suggestions for Bloggers:
Even if an author sends you a pre-formated post in HTML, look through it after you paste it into your blog. It might still need minor adjustments to look right. (Yes, I speak from unfortunate experience.)
If you’re hosting a giveaway, mention it in the title of the post. (e.g. “The Gladiator and the Guard: an Exciting new Adventure Story with a Giveaway!”)
If you’re hosting a giveaway, say so when you share about your blog on social media.
If you share on social media about an author you’re featuring, tag her so she can easily share your post, retweet your tweet, etc. Plus, then her friends and followers will see it too.
Set up the post as soon as you have the necessary materials and schedule it for the day you agreed to post it, so you can’t forget closer to the time. 🙂 (I had several bloggers who forgot!) 
Then send the author the permalink right away. Why wait till the day it goes live?
If you agreed to review the book, post your review in all the places the author asked you to. If for some reason you can’t, or if you can’t do it by the agreed-upon date, email her and let her know so she doesn’t think you just can’t be bothered.

Authors and bloggers, do you have any suggestions of your own to add to these? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!