Thursday, January 29, 2015

Interview with Charity Bradford: Book Release-FADE INTO ME

I was fortunate enough to read this manuscript in its infancy, so I'm especially excited for the recent release of Charity Bradford's FADE INTO ME. To celebrate her book release, Charity was kind enough to stop on by and answer a few of my questions. And without further ado...

Charity, you recently decided to self-publish your YA urban fantasy romance, FADE INTO ME. What influenced that decision?

I guess there were lots of little things that brought me to this decision. After querying for 8 months and getting lots of requests, nothing was happening. Several agents read the story and told me they loved it, that it sucked them in and they couldn’t put it down but it just wasn’t a good fit for them. I’ve been in the game long enough to know what that meant. They didn’t know how or who to sell it to. Let’s face it, genre mash ups are a hard sell. Each rejection encouraged me though and I decided to give self publishing a try. I decided to hire an editor and typesetter to make sure I was putting out a great product.

What was the hardest thing about self-publishing?

Being patient. That’s always the hardest no matter how you publish. I had it in my head that self-publishing was faster, and it is, but you still have to wait. There were times when I was tempted to just push “complete”, but luckily I have some amazing people to remind me that it’s better to do one more pass through the book to catch whatever mistakes I can. It’s better to order 1 proof copy to see what the book really looks like. Let one more person check formatting on kindle, etc. All that takes time. Sometimes only a day, but when you just want to get your book into readers hands it feels like forever.

The cover for FADE INTO ME is absolutely gorgeous. What inspired you to write this novel?

I know! I fell in love with that cover the moment I saw it and had to have it. This story really took a life of its own. When I started I thought it was going to be a light-hearted romance between a faerie and a girl. Something along the lines of THE IRON KING. I was SO wrong! There are no faeries (don’t worry, I’ll explain the wings) but it is a romance. However, my main character has some deep emotional baggage.

As I got to know Ryanne, I recognized certain traits from myself and other women I knew. All of us have different stories, but we struggled with self-esteem, depression or co-dependent tendencies. That’s when the story changed for me. I didn’t want it to just be about a guy and a girl falling in love. I wanted it to be about learning to fall in love with yourself again. Learning to trust your own value and becoming strong enough to save yourself.

At first glance the girl in the cover looks sad, defeated. Her head is turned away, bowed with the weight of the world. Her wings are not perfect. There are spots and the center section is a bit jagged and seems out of place—like the scars on her back. However, there is only one mention of faerie wings in this book. It’s at the end and it’s a moment of triumph for Ryanne. To have both of them on the cover reminds me that none of us are perfect, but we all can do amazing things.

I gotta know…are you a pantser or plotter?

I am very much a pantser, or as I’ve begun to call it—a discovery writer. Before writing, I was a reader. For me, books are about the journey, the characters on that journey and how I feel as I travel with them. My best work has come from just sitting and writing until I figure out where the characters are taking me.

Last year I tried plotting. In fact I plotted out the next three books in my Sendek series (THE MAGIC WAKES, WiDo Publishing 2013). Unfortunately, I plotted so well that I have no desire to write them. I know what happens and every step along the way. It’s really making it hard to work on the second book.

What are you currently working on?

In spite of feeling like writing the sequel is drudgery, I’m trying to revise The Search for Knowledge, which comes after THE MAGIC WAKES. I’m terrified that because I’m not excited about the story my readers won’t be either. This is where I will become a real writer. Making myself sit and think about how to fall in love with these characters and their world again will make the story better. The good news is I have an amazing writer’s group that can be honest with me. They’ll make sure the final story is entertaining for others.

Now for some fun questions…

If you could plan your ultimate vacation, where would you go?

I want to go to Scotland and Ireland. Every photo I’ve ever seen is so pretty. The countryside looks calm and soothing, even the wet ones! Ryanne gets to go to Scotland in FADE INTO ME. I had some great friends read those sections and correct me on a few things. However, some things I left “incorrect” if you will because my male MC can control weather through tweaking the threads of magic. That means castles that aren’t damp and drafty, hot air balloons in Scotland (which I’m told is almost impossible), and other little idiosyncrasies.

After Scotland I’d go to Macchu Picchu, then to Prince Edward Island, Canada. You know to see Green Gables. ;)

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

This is so hard! There are so many things I wish I could do. I guess I’d stick with my alter-ego’s powers. Solstice can travel at the speed of sound to help get all those things done within the confines of a day, and she can shoot lazer beams from her hands. You never know when that might come in handy!

If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?

The Voices In My Head

What holiday would you invent to get a day off work?

National Avocado Day. I mean, come on, they go wonderfully with so many things. They’re great on sandwiches, in salads, in guacamole, all by themselves, in chili or other soups, mixed in with deviled eggs (seriously!), with pomegranates to make a delicious salsa. Who wouldn’t want a day to stay home and eat an avocado?

Name one thing that drives you crazy.

Slow drivers! Come on, at least drive the speed limit. See, Solstice really is my alter ego.

Author Bio:Charity Bradford has been a voracious reader ever since her 5th grade teacher introduced her to the world of books with the WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS and SUMMER OF THE MONKEYS. She soon lost herself in the worlds created by Card, Bova, Asimov, Bradbury, Nagata and Niven. She lives in Northwest Arkansas with her hubby and four kids that keep her on her toes.



Caeden Frey doesn’t believe humans will evolve to see the magic, much less control it. Even so, he has two months to marry a human or face the wrath of the High Council. Bitter about a responsibility he thinks prevents him marrying for love, he figures any human girl will do. He’s ready to propose when his soul mate stumbles into—and right out of—his arms.

Human, Ryanne Killian might be Caedan’s one shot at happiness while still fulfilling his duty. Unfortunately, she guards a dark secret. She’s determined to push Caedan away to protect him from her past.

Caedan must convince her she’s worthy of his love before a rival family puts an end to his wedding plans. If she can see her own worth, she just might save herself and his people.


Buy it in Print
Buy it for Kindle
Watch the Trailer
Read the first 2 chapters

And here's Charity's awesome book trailer. Trust me, after you watch this, you'll be running out to buy the book! 

Thanks, Charity! It’s been a blast having you on Swords and Stilettos! :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

LOVE, LUCY Release Day Blast

I am so excited that LOVE, LUCY by April Lindner releases today and that I get to spread the news, along with an awesome guest post from the author in which she shares “Some Rules of the Road” for traveling abroad, as Lucy did in the book.

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful new book by author April Linder, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blast also includes a giveaway for a copy of the book courtesy of Rockstar Book Tours and 3 signed JANE posters courtesy of the author. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.


Author: April Lindner
Release date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Poppy
Pages: 304
Formats: Hardcover, eBook


While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food...and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her "vacation flirtation." But just because summer is over doesn't mean Lucy and Jesse are over, too.

In this coming-of-age romance, April Lindner perfectly captures the highs and lows of a summer love that might just be meant to last beyond the season.


About April Lindner

April Lindner is the author of three novels: Catherine, a modernization of Wuthering Heights; Jane, an update of Jane Eyre; and Love, Lucy, releasing January 27, 2015. She also has published two poetry collections, Skin and This Bed Our Bodies Shaped. She plays acoustic guitar badly, sees more rock concerts than she’d care to admit, travels whenever she can, cooks Italian food, and lavishes attention on her pets—two Labrador retriever mixes and two excitable guinea pigs. A professor of English at Saint Joseph’s University, April lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons.

The Guest Post


Like Lucy Sommersworth, the heroine of Love, Lucy, my parents gave me the gift of a lifetime: a backpacking trip to Europe. I was a bit older than Lucy—22, and just out of college—but when I arrived in Milan, Italy with a Eurail pass, a copy of Let’s Go: Europe, and a seventy-pound backpack I could barely lift, I was a wee bit terrified. Like Lucy, I spoke only a little bit of Italian, just barely enough to get by, and I wasn’t particularly good at reading maps or train schedules. Unlike Lucy, I was travelling solo.

Luckily, my journey began with training wheels. I’d just taken a college Italian class, and my professor had offered a safe crash pad for the first few days of my trip—in her family home in the Alps. Less luckily, when I reached Malpensa airport, nobody was there to pick me up. Giddy with excitement and jet lag, I wandered around the airport, eavesdropping on Italians as they hugged each other hello and goodbye, and had noisy arguments. I’d never felt more alone in my life. Where would I sleep that night if my ride didn’t show up?

Luckily, my professor’s brother arrived at last to whisk me away to the family home in Domodossola. The extended family welcomed and fed me, gave me tours of their city with its charming medieval center, helped me practice my Italian, and, when the time was right, brought me to the train station where my solo travels began for real. It was time to take off the training wheels. 

If I’d felt alone back in the airport, I was even more so on that train to Verona, a city where I didn’t know a soul. In those pre-internet days, I could disappear into thin air and nobody would even notice I was gone. The thought was chilling, but oddly exciting.

By nightfall, I’d made it to Verona. I’d figured out the public transportation, found a youth hostel, and booked myself a bed. Best of all, I had introduced myself to a handful of other backpackers. We hung out together in the hostel’s common area, sharing bread and cheese, exchanging stories, discussing the rules of the road—those bits of practical wisdom our travels were teaching us. Here are a few.

Time passes differently on the road.  Spend a few very intense hours seeing the sites with strangers and by the end of the day, those strangers have become a part of your story. Years later you’ll see their faces in your photo album and still remember stray details of the adventures you shared together, even if you can’t quite recall their names. 

Spontaneity is key.  There are few things as magical as showing up at a train station with no idea where you’re headed next, picking a random train, and hopping on. 

Janis Joplin said it best: Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.  When you’re carrying all your possessions on your back in a city where you don’t know a soul, you’re absolutely free. You can go anywhere, do anything. That freedom has its lonely moments—but it can be the doorway to all kinds of adventures.

Embrace misadventure.  As carefully as you plan there will be crazy mistakes: wrong turns, slept-through train stops, multilingual misunderstandings, and all kinds of other blunders—and these will make the best stories. My misadventures are some of my favorite memories. The time I missed curfew and had to climb into my hostel through a second-story window. The morning when, hanging out my recently washed clothes to dry, I dropped my wet underthings out the window, onto a stranger’s head. The night when, with no room to stay in, I slept on Venice’s train station steps with about a hundred other backpackers, the stars above us and the Grand Canal stretched out before us.

Would I trade that last memory for a safe, comfy night in an actual bed?  Not on your life.

The Giveaway

There is a blast-wide giveaway, ending February 6th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific, for:

  • 1 copy of LOVE, LUCY to be ordered from Amazon or The Book Depository – Int’l
  • 3 JANE posters (signed) – US only

Enter in the Rafflecopter below...

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Friday, January 23, 2015

This Writer Mom & a Call for Help

In an attempt to shake things up a bit and mesh three things I love—writing, being a mother, and design, I decided to create these posts titled "This Writer Mom." Based on color and style, I will match pictures of "mothers" to their ideal writing (and perhaps lounging or dining location). It's a fun way to incorporate design elements into my blog while still maintaining a focus on writing.

For this mother, I incorporated a farmhouse style with blues and whites. Hope you enjoy!

This Writer Mom...

Cooks here...
Picture info

Sleeps here...
Picture info

Writes here...

And a special call for help from my dear friend and CP, Leandra Wallace, who recently posted this flyer on her blog.

CJ Omololu is currently battling stage 4 cancer and with the release of her new book, The Third Twin, only a month away, we want to spread the word about the book and author. Wouldn't it be wonderful if this news spread like wildfire throughout the blogosphere and we all showed our support during this truly difficult time for CJ? If you feel so inclined, please spread the word on your own blogs, and feel free to use the above flier. And if you want to really show your support, you can pre-order her book and have it shipped to you the day it releases, February 24th. I just pre-ordered my copy! Here's more info about CJ's novel...

When they were little, Lexi and her identical twin, Ava, made up a third sister, Alicia. If something broke? Alicia did it. Cookies got eaten? Alicia’s guilty. Alicia was always to blame for everything.

The game is all grown up now that the girls are seniors. They use Alicia as their cover to go out with boys who are hot but not exactly dating material. Boys they’d never, ever be with in real life.

Now one of the guys Alicia went out with has turned up dead, and Lexi wants to stop the game for good. As coincidences start piling up, Ava insists that if they follow the rules for being Alicia, everything will be fine. But when another boy is killed, the DNA evidence and surveillance photos point to only one suspect—Alicia. The girl who doesn’t exist.

As she runs from the cops, Lexi has to find the truth before another boy is murdered. Because either Ava is a killer . . . or Alicia is real.
Amazon | B&N

Also, a BIG THANK YOU to all those who stopped by my Secret Agent Entry on Miss Snark's First Victim's website and left a comment/critique. You guys are awesome!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Disney Movies=Raging Romance

I realized recently that I've been primed since I was a small girl to become a romance writer. Every Disney movie I ever watched as a child has led me to where I am today—an aspiring published author of romantic fiction.

So how is it that Disney movies contributed to my knowledge of the romance genre?

It's simple. All of my favorite animated Disney movies have the elements of a great romance novel.

1) The meet cute

See the grin on her face? She knows she's working it. And talk about a
split up the side on that shower curtain skirt. WooWee!

Even though Ariel sees Prince Eric dancing around on his ship and rescues him when the ship goes down, they don't actually meet until she trades in her sea legs for land legs. When Ariel, wearing nothing more than a bedsheet (was this movie rated G?) looks up at Eric with those doey eyes and then collapses into his arms, he's smitten. He just doesn't know it yet.

2) The romance

Sure, this looks pretty romantic with the flower petals and twinkling stars, but what
about his hand on her bare midriff that's resting a little too close to, you know, "the girls."
 Didn't they just meet? Dang, Aladdin moves fast.

Who doesn't love the romance between Aladdin and Princess Jasmine. I mean, come on, flying around on a tassled carpet? That's a pretty sweet ride.

3) The conflict

Why does this look like she's his breakfast and not his date?

In Beauty and the Beast, there's a pretty clear conflict that's keeping them apart. Alas, he's a freakin' beastly creature and she's, well, a beauty.

4) The climax

I think I would give up, Prince Eric. This isn't looking good for you. Not good at all.

Every good story has to have a climax or else it would just fall flat. Sleeping Beauty has one of the most outstanding climaxes, and I know because when my oldest son was three, he wanted to watch this scene almost every day (I think it had something to do with a sword and a dragon? You know how boys are...)

5) The resolution

And of course, every young girls' fairytale...
What can compare to the love story between Cinderella and Prince Charming. I think this movie had every young girl wishing they had a glass slipper and a fairy godmother. And the resolution is divine—Cinderella gets the guy and her nasty stepmother and stepsisters get what they deserve. What could be better than sweet justice?

So, after years of Disney movie watching in which my tender girlie heart learned about the essence of falling in love, it's no wonder I now write romance. Because when you look at my role models (see above) I can only hope to live up to the bar they've created. Go Disney movies! Rock that romance!

What was your favorite Disney movie as a kid? Or adult? Or both...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Secret Agent Entry #36

I have a huge request for those of you who read my blog. Have any of you heard of the website Miss Snark's First Victim? Well, the first 250 words of my YA near future romantic thriller, Catalyst, was chosen for the Secret Agent contest. Basically, my excerpt is posted on the website and people can critique the entry in the comment section. Then a "secret agent" will come through and leave comments for the entries.

Anyhoo, my excerpt is posted RIGHT NOW as Secret Agent Entry #36 and if you have a moment, I'd love for you to stop by and offer your critique. You can check out my entry HERE. Thanks so much!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

IWSG January: Gotta Have Goals

Greetings, IWSG friends and followers! It's time for another group posting of the IWSG. Created by Alex Cavanaugh, this monthly blog hop is a way for writers to offer encouragement and support to one another while airing their own insecurities and sharing their successes. It's not too late to sign up if you want to join our group! Click HERE to join.

As part of our IWSG post for today, Alex has asked us to give a brief introduction about ourselves, so here goes...

First and foremost, I’m a mother to five amazing boys ages 13, 10, 8, 5, and 3. Needless to say, there is NEVER a dull (or quiet) moment in our house. I am also a writer/aspiring author. I write adult romance and young adult novels (both contemporary and a little sci-fi). I am currently querying my YA near future thriller Catalyst. I’ve had several requests and now I’m playing the waiting game. 

When I’m not writing or querying, I like to dabble in a little design (but only for my own home) and party planning (again, only for my own kids). I’m also the queen of Just Dance and dare anyone to challenge my high score. And lastly, I’m a firm believer that chocolate is one of the main food groups. And a staple to every diet. 

Now for my IWSG post: I don’t really have any insecurities to air today (other than the normal ones about wondering whether or not I’ll get an agent or questioning whether or not my novel will ever get published) so I decided to talk a little about my writing goals for this year. 
Photo from

Writing Goals for 2015

1) Get an agent for Catalyst: I’m doing everything I can, and I will continue to send out queries until I reach the 100 mark (okay, maybe 125 mark).

2) Finish my new YA contemporary Middle of Knowhere: This is a new project and I’m so excited about it. I haven’t even told my critique partner about it yet, but I was busy typing away during Christmas break. 

3) Send my adult romance to publishers: I have a few publishers in mind for this one, but if it doesn’t pan out, I may self-publish it. 

4) Write the sequel to Catalyst: I’ve started this but didn’t get very far before I decided to work on something else. I think Sienna (my MC) and I needed a bit of a break from each other…

Okay, so those are my goals. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? *sigh* Maybe I’m being a little ambitious, but that’s okay. Obviously I can’t force the first one—if it happens, then it happens. But the others I have more control over and I’m ready to rock 2015! Who’s with me?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

25 Roses Blog Tour: Guest Post by Stephanie Faris

I'm excited to have Stephanie Faris here today giving us some great tips on how to survive a writers' conference. Stephanie's latest book 25 Roses comes out TODAY! And don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card, an autographed copy of 25 Roses, and a chocolate long-stemmed rose!

Take it away, Stephanie!


4 Tips to Survive a Writers’ Conference

Writers’ conferences are a great way to meet other writers, learn about your craft, and pitch your manuscript to editors and agents. No matter what genre you choose, there’s likely a writing conference specific to your genre. There are even conferences specific to self-publishing and blogging. Once you’ve decided on the perfect conference for you, here are a few tips for not only surviving, but making it an experience to remember.

Register Early

Competition can be fierce for conferences, especially if editor/agent appointments are involved. Not only is registration limited to a set number of attendees, you’ll often find editor/agent spots are limited to an even lower number of registrants. First registrants also get the best pick of workshops and special events. For best results, make a date to be at your computer, ready to register, as soon as registration opens.

Don’t Be Afraid to Go Alone

Some of my best memories are from the conferences I attended with writing friends. Some of the best connections and learning experiences, however, came from the conferences I attended alone. In researching articles I’ve written for my entrepreneur and marketing clients, I’ve actually found that many experts advise attending conferences alone. Every time I go to a conference, I notice the large cliques of people who section themselves off, not speaking to anyone but the same writing friends they communicate with online every day. While this is great for them, they miss out on making new connections and learning new things.

Prepare Your Pitch

If editor/agent appointments are available, you should sign up if possible. Even if you don’t feel you’re ready, you’ll gain experience in pitching your book ideas, making it easier to pitch when you are ready. You may also find an editor or agent has valuable feedback about your idea that can improve it dramatically. In my Romance Writers of America conference days, I came close to being published twice from pitch meetings at conferences. I even landed the attention of a Harlequin editor who later used my manuscript as an example of what Harlequin was interested in buying. (Yet they didn’t buy it…don’t ask me why!)

Use Your Manners

There are things you should never, ever do at a writer’s conference and almost all of them involve the practice stalking editors. DON’T chase an agent or editor into the bathroom and shove your manuscript under the door. Don’t corner an agent at the Saturday night mingle to tell her all about your latest book. If you get a chance to talk to one of these professionals, have a friendly conversation. If he or she asks about your work, offer your elevator pitch and leave it at that. If there’s an interest, you’ll be asked to send it in.

Most of all, have fun. Conferences can be stressful but when you look back on them, you always remember the people you met and the things you learned. If you can somehow find a way to relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll get the most out of the experience.


This is such great advice. Thanks so much, Stephanie! And now, here's a sneak peek at 25 Roses!

Book Blurb:

Mia moves from the shadows to the spotlight when her matchmaking plans go awry in this contemporary M!X novel from the author of 30 Days of No Gossip.

Mia is used to feeling overlooked: her perfect older sister gets all the attention at home, and the popular clique at school are basically experts at ignoring her. So when it’s time for the annual Student Council chocolate rose sale, Mia is prepared to feel even worse. Because even though anyone can buy and send roses to their crushes and friends, the same (popular) people always end up with roses while everyone else gets left out.

Except a twist of fate puts Mia in charge of selling the roses this year—and that means things are going to change. With a little creativity, Mia makes sure the kids who usually leave empty-handed suddenly find themselves the object of someone’s affection. But her scheme starts to unravel when she realizes that being a secret matchmaker isn’t easy—and neither is being in the spotlight.

Author Bio:

Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in broadcast journalism, she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing.

Stephanie is the author of 30 Days of No Gossip and 25 Roses, both with Aladdin M!x. When she isn’t crafting fiction, she writes for a variety of online websites on the topics of business, technology, and her favorite subject of all—fashion. She lives in Nashville with her husband, a sales executive. 


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