Beginning January 1, 2013

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Monday, December 31, 2012

We've Moved!

Beginning January 1, 2013

Stop by the new site and take a look around.

Happy New Year! 

Friday, December 21, 2012



Kamikaze Gift Exchange

Most people are surprised to hear that I’m a big ‘ole Scrooge when it comes to Christmas. It hasn’t always been so. When my son was little, I was very much into decorating the house, baking cookies, belting out carols, and wrapping gift and gift after gift in pretty paper with shiny bows. But now that I’m older and my son is grown, I find myself very put off by the whole idea of exchanging Christmas presents. I sit down each year and make a list of the people I have to buy for, and it feels like a chore, an obligation. And I never know what to buy, so I end up wandering around the mall looking for gifts to buy just for the sake of buying something. Surely that’s not what the spirit of Christmas is about. Try as I may to choose thoughtful gifts, I never know what to get. No one I know needs more stuff. It got to the point where we were just trading gift cards, many of which would sit in a drawer and home for months before being regifted at various times throughout the year. Ugh. After some deliberation with extended family members (many of whom, as it turned out, felt the same way), we’ve started a new tradition. This will mark our third year of the Kamikaze Gift Exchange.

The Kamikaze Gift Exchange is a variation of what I’ve heard others call Yankee Swap, Black Santa, Chinese Gift Exchange, or White Elephant Gift Exchange. Here are the rules:

  1. Each person brings a wrapped gift. It need not be something purchased. In fact, we encourage rummaging through the attic or basement to find the most hideous, unwanted item possible.
  2. All wrapped gifts are placed in a pile.
  3. Each person draws a number to determine the order of his turn.
  4. When it’s your turn, you may either select a wrapped gift from the pile, or steal a gift that has previously been unwrapped by someone who has already had his turn. (If someone steals your gift, you have the option of choosing another unwrapped gift or stealing a different unwrapped gift.)
  5. Whatever you end up with must be displayed in your home for one year.

This was such a huge success the first year we tried it, that it’s now the highlight of our holiday celebration every year. We laugh and laugh at the outrageous gifts people end up with. Our first year, I received a life-size painted ceramic bust of Elvis. It was gloriously gaudy, and a great conversation piece.

One significant advantage of this type of exchange (aside from not having to spend money on gifts) is that last minute guests aren’t left out. If someone brings a girlfriend/boyfriend, as long as he/she arrives with one wrapped gift (or if the host has a spare gift available), they can participate too. Not only that, but if someone isn’t able to make the gathering, there’s no worry about how to deliver the gifts to/from the missing person.

Of course, I still buy something special for my son and my husband, but our new tradition greatly eases the stress of holiday shopping and allows us all to focus on what matters most: spending time with family, laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

To celebrate the holidays and the spirit of giving, I am offering a free e-copy of my new release, Sock it to Me, Santa! To enter the drawing, please leave a comment below and tell me something you enjoy about the holidays.

About the Author: Madison Parker adores romance in all shapes, forms, and sizes (from beefy bottoms to tiny tops), but she loves her sweet, sexy boys best. She credits fanfiction for introducing her to the world of hot, humorous, and heartwarming manlove. Although Madison is extremely left-brained (logical, rational, orderly), her artistic, creative side never ceases to flail around in a desperate attempt to be noticed. She spends her days reading, writing, solving math problems, and playing with her feisty German Pinscher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, her pup, and her troop of sock monkeys.

Find her online at


New Release: Sock it to Me, Santa!
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult GLBT Romance

Ryan is assigned to Jamie Peterson for his class's secret gift exchange. If word gets out that he has to make a handcrafted gift for flamboyant and openly gay Jamie, Ryan will be the laughing stock of the school. It's a good thing no self-respecting boy would be caught dead in a craft store, because otherwise he'd be at risk of being spotted when his mom drags him to her weekly craft workshops. He hopes Jamie will appreciate all the trouble he's going to for this assignment. Finding the perfect gift is gonna be tricky. Jamie deserves something good, though, after all the crap he has to put up with at school. At least, Ryan tells himself that's the reason he's putting so much thought into the gift. It couldn't be that he has feelings for Jamie, could it?
Purchase Links:

Thursday, December 20, 2012



“I’ll be back in an hour,” my dad announced, dropping me off at the outdoor ice rink—a flooded frozen field—adjacent to a shopping center plaza. “Are you sure you’ll be OK by yourself?”

I slid out of the pickup, hugging my brand new white figure skates to my chest. “I can do this, Dad. Go shop before the stores close.”

Floodlights winked on over the black ice as I headed for the lean-to strung with multicolored Christmas lights. The place was empty except for a mom strapping double-runners on her toddler’s boots. I sat on a bench and ran my finger down one skate’s razor-edged blade. A moment of doubt skittered across my mind. Me, gliding gracefully over ice? Balanced on two dinner knives? I looked longingly at the kid’s double-runners and swallowed hard.

I dipped my feet into the stiff skates, laced up and knotted bows. I’d never ice-skated before but I was 15 and roller-skated since third grade, so how hard could it be to translate this simple balancing skill to ice?

I stood up, ankles bound and locked. I didn’t fall over. So far, so good. I took a few wobbly steps. Piece of cake. I robot-walked to the rink’s edge and stepped out.

I glided a few feet. A few more. I could breathe now. I was getting the hang of it. One foot in front of the other, step-glide, step-glide. I made it around the rink’s perimeter without once bouncing on my butt. I pulled off my knit cap and shook out my hair, confident.

Until they came. A group of high school seniors, guys and girls, clomping into the lean-to, laughing loud. They bladed out on the ice, spun, skated backwards. I kept to an empty corner, practicing a figure-eight, trying not to get bumped into.

A girl skated up to me. “Hey, c’mon over. Want to play Crack the Whip?”

I didn’t know what cracking a whip was in skating terms, but she seemed friendly enough. And since I was feeling supremely poised and self-assured, why not be bold and try something new?

“You’re the tail,” she called over her shoulder, heading for a line of skaters holding hands. The end skater grasped my hand and we moved in a snaky undulating line, slowly at first, then speeding up. Faster, faster. The Head skater was practically motionless, but me, the Tail, shot around the ice, breaking the sound barrier, hair whipping, fear frozen on my face like a death mask from the gathering momentum. Now I knew what cracking the whip meant: whiplash!

I let go. Arms flailing, legs akimbo, mouth gaped open in a soundless scream. I hit a snow bank full force, launched forward, and plowed down the backside on my face. Snow in my mouth, my hair. I was paralyzed, too shocked to cry. That sensation lasted only five seconds because in the next moment I was drenched in humiliation, mortified. I wanted to belly-crawl behind the snow bank, hunch behind the lean-to and lick my wounds until Dad came to scrape my remains off the parking lot.

No chance. Someone grasped my arms and lifted me to my feet. “Jeez, you OK?” he soothed in a luscious deep voice, placing a warm hand on either side of my face, tipping my head from side to side, dark eyes full of concern.

I was on the verge of tears, mucous coating my upper lip. I would not cry, wouldn’t pretend, act all girly because a knight in shining blades came to my rescue. I was red-hot smoking mad.

“You tricked me!” I raged at him, beat my hands against his chest. I turned on the others, furious. “You all tricked me into being the Tail. You knew I’d wipe out.”

“No!” He placed his hands on my shoulders and gave me a little shake. “Honest, we didn’t. We saw you doing figure-eights and thought you were a pro.”

I studied his face. He was serious. I felt like an idiot. “Oh,” I said, looking down, fishing in my pocket for a tissue. Snot on lip was all I could think.

“Skate with me?” he whispered in my ear. He boosted me back to the ice, took my hand, and we stepped out gliding. Together.

Any figure skaters out there? If you enjoyed this true personal story, I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. The Best of the Best will win a free print copy of my YA novel For the Love of Strangers, with an autographed bookplate and personal note from yours truly. About the Author: Jackie is the author of 200+ stories and articles for children’s magazines, and 20 fiction and nonfiction books ranging from joke series and nature activities to YA fiction, most recently For the Love of Strangers (Leap Books 2010) and First Girl Last (KDP Publishing 2012). She lives in the upstate New York woods and writes in an office overlooking a herd of tame deer and a flock of scrawny wild turkeys.

Facebook: Jacqueline Horsfall
Twitter: @jackiehorsfall
Amazon URL:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012



As a loyal anti-American communioanarchitheist, I have celebrated Christmas the same way for the past twenty years or so: My family all gets together at my parents’ house, where we exchange gifts, eat cheese and crackers, and then disperse to play with our new toys. The only real change over the years was the excitement and waiting as presents became less important and the joy of family became more and more pronounced.

Oh, and I learned to not shoot myself in the face.

The exact year and date is lost to my admittedly terrible memory, but I distinctly remember the shape of the present: a tall, smashy robot toy. I remember it being a freaking giant of a toy, easily coming up to my young hips, and loaded with enough cool gizmos that I could play with it for hours. But one of the most potent gizmos attached to the robot was its Deathsphere launcher.

The Deathspheres were, by themselves, not that impressive: orange foam balls that were loaded into a tube on the back of the robot. But when you activated the launcher, the robot's left arm would whirr and groan, lurching to life. A buzzing sound would fill the air, announcing to my cats that a rain of slow-moving projectiles was about to slightly disturb their naps.

But despite the wonders of the Deathspheres, I found myself unable to simply enjoy the toy. I had to know HOW the Deathsphere launcher worked. And so, while it whirred and growled, I looked down the barrel. To my delight, I saw that the launcher had, a few inches behind the barrel, a whirring gear. Suddenly, my young mind was able to piece together the parts: The Deathspheres drop down the tube when you push the second button on the side, then touch the spinning gear...and vroom!

I had to see this in action!

I pushed the button.

Needless to say, the whole enterprise ended well: I got to wear an eyepatch while lying on my parent's big comfy bed in a darkened room for the rest of Christmas. My eye got better, Christmas became less and less materialistic every year, and the robot toy slowly fell apart. The last thing I remember is using the thing's left leg as a makeshift building in a Warhammer 40,000 wargame.

But even that leg is gone, and now I find myself thinking that it's odd...I barely remember any of my gifts. I don't remember the toys or the books or the video games. I do remember the immaterial things, the stuff that didn't cost a thing. And you know what that tells me about myself?

It says that I'm the Worst. American. Ever.

Leave a comment for a chnace to win a download of Debris Dreams. Happy Holidays!

About the Author: Heavily influenced by George Romero movies and bad, poorly dubbed anime, David Colby decided to start writing almost twelve years ago. It went poorly. But despite these early setbacks, David continued to work and write and send out submissions until someone was mad enough to accept him. Currently living in California, having just finished his Bachelor of Arts in English, David continues to be fascinated by George Romero movies and has finally realized that animes have subtitles.

Debris Dreams is David’s first published novel. After a terrorist attack, Spacer teen Drusilla Xao is drafted into a war fought in the cold of space, with no hope of relief or reinforcements. The only thing that keeps her sane is her correspondence with her earthbound girlfriend Sarah, and the dream of one day setting foot on Earth.

Follow the author:

Twitter: @therealzoombie

To purchase:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012



Twelve Days of Christmas

I don't see the charm of sitting on an old man's lap to get what I want. On any other day of the year outside of Europe this would be considered creepy and would be cause for alarm. OK, maybe I'm just bitter because I'm clearly on Santa's Naughty List this year.

If I believed in sharing my wishes with an old man who would respond with "ho, ho, ho", I'd make them good. I'd have just a few simple requests:

1) I wish that chocolate were a cure for hangovers.

2) I wish that, sober, I could be as witty and clever as I think I am after a couple glasses of wine.

3) I wish I could target weight gain only to my boobs.

4) I wish that karma actually were instant. Only then could I take the high road.

5) I wish that chocolate could regenerate lost brain cells. I know, I'm asking a lot of chocolate but I give it so much love. It needs to love me back.

6) I wish that excessive Type A behaviour were attractive to men.

7) I wish that cellulite were a sign of wisdom, beauty and power.

8) I wish that The Secret actually worked. I have a lofty vision board waiting for realization.

9) I wish I could go back in time to slam someone with the best comeback ever.

10) I wish that a Victoria's Secret bra could have the same effect on me as on a Victoria Secret model.

11) I wish that Oprah or Heather be more responsive to my stalking. Why won't they answer their doorbells? Or their cell phones, work phones, pagers and home phones?

12) I wish that the Twelve Days of Christmas be modernized to a list as logical and reasonable as mine.

Why wish for material things when super powers are so much more appropriate? Who's with me on this? I'm giving away a free copy of my novel "Why I Love My Gay Boyfriend". Any takers?

About the Author:
Sabrina Zollo is a marketer and author who lives in Toronto, Canada. She has been compulsively writing stories since childhood. She graduated with an MBA from York University and has worked in brand management for almost ten years. Sabrina is a consummate lover of Pinot Grigio, dark chocolate, shoes and spin class.




Five Mouth Watering Cookie Recipes
By Stephanie Campbell

With Christmas getting close, there is one thing I look forward to first and foremost. It is holiday cookies. The house smells of vanilla and cinnamon and there are trays of cookies on my counter. Since I look forward to my holiday cookies so much, I thought I would share the recipes of some of my favorite holiday cookies. Please note that I did not invent these recipes and that proper credit is given at the end of the blog.

Almond Raspberry Stars

  • •3/4 cup butter, softened
  • •1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • •1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • •1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • •1-3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • •2 tablespoons finely chopped almonds.
  • •1 tablespoon sugar
  • •1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • •1 egg white, beaten
  • •1/3 cup raspberry jam

  • •In a large bowl, cream butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in extracts. Stir in flour. Shape into a ball; cover and chill for 15 minutes.
  • • On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/4-in. thickness. With floured cookie cutters, cut dough into equal numbers of 2-1/2-in. and 1-1/2-in. stars. Combine the almonds, sugar and cinnamon. Brush small stars with egg white and immediately sprinkle with almond mixture. Leave large stars plain.
  • • Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake small stars at 350° for 10 minutes and large stars for 12 minutes or just until the tips begin to brown. Cool on wire racks.
  • • To assemble, spread enough jam over large star to cover the center. Top with a small star; press lightly (jam should show around edge of small star). Repeat. Let jam set before storing cookies in an airtight container.

Vanilla Crisps
  • •1/2 cup butter, softened
  • •1/2 cup shortening
  • •1/2 cup sugar
  • •1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • •1 egg
  • •1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • •2 cups all-purpose flour
  • •1 teaspoon baking soda
  • •1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • •1/2 teaspoon salt
  • •Water
  • •Additional sugar

In a bowl, cream butter, shortening, sugars, egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Sift together flour, soda, cream of tartar and salt. Add to creamed mixture; mix until blended. Shape into large marble-size balls. Dip half of ball into water, then in sugar. Place, sugared side up, on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 400° for 6 minutes or until done. Cool.

Ambrosia Bites

  • •1 cup butter, softened
  • •1 cup sugar
  • •1 cup packed brown sugar
  • •2 eggs
  • •1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • •1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • •1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • •2 cups all-purpose flour
  • •1-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • •1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • •1 teaspoon salt
  • •1 teaspoon baking powder
  • •1 cup chopped walnuts.
  • •1 cup raisins
  • •1 cup chopped dates
  • •1 cup flaked coconut

  • •In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, peels and vanilla. Combine the flour, oats, baking soda, salt and baking powder; gradually add to creamed mixture until well blended. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  • • Drop by heaping tablespoons 3 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Sugar Cookies

  • •1 cup butter, softened
  • •1-1/2 cups sugar
  • •2 eggs
  • •1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon anise extract
  • •3 cups all-purpose flour
  • •1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons aniseed
  • •1 teaspoon salt
  • •1 teaspoon baking powder
  • •1 teaspoon baking soda
  • •Frosting and coarse sugar, optional

  • •In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and extract. Combine the flour, aniseed, salt, baking powder and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
  • • Shape into 1-in. balls; place on greased baking sheets. Flatten with a glass dipped in sugar.
  • • Bake at 375° for 6-7 minutes or until set. Cool on wire racks. If desired, frost cookies and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Apricot Tea Cookies

  • •1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • •6 tablespoons sugar
  • •1/8 teaspoon salt
  • •4 ounces cream cheese
  • •1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
  • •1 tablespoon Daisy Brand Sour Cream

  • •1-1/4 cups chopped dried apricots
  • •1/2 cup sugar
  • •5 tablespoons orange juice

  • •1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • •4 teaspoons water

  • •In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Cut in cream cheese and butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add sour cream, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • • Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine the filling ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover; simmer 7-9 minutes longer or until most of the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Cool.
  • • Divide dough in half. On a well-floured surface, roll out each portion into a 10-in. square; cut each into 2-in. squares. Place about 1/2 teaspoon of filling in the center of each square. Bring two opposite corners of square to the center; pinch firmly to seal.
  • • Place on greased baking sheets. Bake at 325° for 18-20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Combine the glaze ingredients; drizzle over cooled cookies.

My Sources:

Food Network
Women's Day Magazine
Martha Stewart Living
Home and Gardens Magazine

Now that we're done with the recipes, it's time for the next fun item on my list—free books. Who doesn't love that? I will be giving away a free copy of my latest release, P.S. I Killed My Mother. In order to win, just leave a comment on my blog with your name and email address. I will select the winner by assigning each commenter a number and then using a random number generator to pick the winner.

About the author: I am the published author of The Willow Does Not Weep, Racing Death, Case Closed, Mirror of Darkness, Hot Wheels, Dragon Night, Poachers, Dragon Night, Tasting Silver, Late but not Never, Specimen X, Tales of Draga, E is for Eternity, and P.S. I Killed My Mother. I have written another screenplay, "His Name was Dan Jose". My short story, "The Beauty in Ugly", is being produced by Lower End Productions. I am represented by Sheri Williams of Red Writing Hood Ink.

About my newest release:

If you liked this blog, please come check out my newest release, P.S. I Killed My Mother, released on November 28th. Here is a little about this release. P.S. I Killed My Mother is about a girl who was abused as a child who finally fights back and ends up killing her mother by accident. Instead of facing up to what she has done, she runs away from her father and turns to the street. Though she tells herself she is emotionless, she feels so guilty about killing her mother that she ends up punishing herself by doing things she would have never done before. I wrote this story to explore the powers of the subconscious mind. While the concept is sad, it is also a story of forgiveness. My main character, Whitney, must learn to forgive herself for what was an accident, just as she must forgive her father who never stopped the abuse and her mother who abused her in the first place.

If you want to read more about my release(s) or just want to keep up with me, please feel free to join with me on any of the following websites.

My blog:!/
My website:
My Facebook:
My Twitter:
My agent's page:

You can also hear me talk on The Candy O'Donnell Show at

I have also spoken with Silver Star Media at

Monday, December 17, 2012



"Santa Claus is REAL--No Question About it"
By Larry Peterson

,br> My hair has grayed, I receive Medicare, I have grandchildren and I have a bad back. YES--I am a senior citizen. And YES, I believe in Santa Claus.

I do---I do, no ifs, ands, buts, or maybes, I believe. My secret is out and I do not care. However, you must understand, that I have reached this unmistakable conclusion through a pragmatic, practical analysis of the facts at hand and I am "hard-boiled," stone-sober, and perfectly logical in my conclusion. Santa Claus (or St. Nicholas or Kris Kringle or Father Christmas--it does not matter) lives and is real. Now I shall attempt to reason with you non-believers and all those that are sure that I am nothing more than a regressed senior dwelling back in time when I was age seven.

First of all, the concept of a jolly fat man in a red suit who flies around the world on Christmas Eve in a sled pulled by reindeer that can fly at Mach3 may seem, on the surface, to be a tad far-fetched. It is Not. He is NOT and he is REAL. The point that the practical, common sense world is missing is the fact that Santa has extraordinary miraculous powers and these powers were given to him by a Child (you know Who I am talking about) and what do children love? Why they love toys and candy and music and all sorts of silly things. They LOVE waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve.

They stand in awe on Christmas morning when they look under their tree and know that Santa has come. And it has all been orchestrated by a Child. Why else would toys being given to children be the prime focus of the Season? How can anyone NOT believe this is true. It happens every year.

You have to remember that Santa Claus has been empowered by the Most High so it follows that Santa does all things 'good'. It also follows that Santa knows that it is important for the big folks to teach the little folks about giving and sharing. So, about a month before Christmas, Santa stands at the North Pole, raises his arms and bellows these words, "Parate Venio", (which is Latin for "I am Coming")casting a spell over the entire world. This spell does not stick to everyone, only those that are wanting to embrace the Christmas Spirit. These folks, now spellbound, begin decorating their homes, buying presents that they cannot afford so they may GIVE to others and insisting to their children that Santa Claus is coming on Christmas Eve. Amazingly they never realize that it has been Santa all along using them as his helpers or elves. On Christmas Eve Santa must stay busy flying all around the globe allowing satellites to track him and weather forecasters to report his whereabouts.

There you go folks. I have proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that Santa Claus is real. Come on now, how else could all of this happen? I believe it. Merry Christmas!

Leave a comment for a chance to win a download of The Priest and the Peaches.

About the Author:
Larry Peterson was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. A former Metal Lather/Reinforcing Iron-worker, he left that business after coming down with MS. He, his wife and three kids moved to Florida 30 years ago. Larry began doing freelance newspaper commentary after graduating from Tampa College in 1984.

His first children's picture book, Slippery Willie's Stupid, Ugly Shoes was published in 2011. In 2012, his full length novel, The Priest and the Peaches was released and he is presently working on the sequel.

He also has a blog ( where he posts weekly commentary. He lives in Pinellas Park, Florida, and his kids and six grandchildren all live within three miles of each other.

Historical fiction novel set in the Bronx in the mid-1960s

Take a seven day journey with the five, newly orphaned Peach kids, as they begin their struggle to remain a family while planning their dad's funeral.

They find an ally in the local parish priest, Father Tim Sullivan, who tries his best to guide them through the strange, unchartered and turbulent waters of "grown-up world." A story that is sad, funny, and inspiring as it shows how the power of family love and faith can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Stuff Your Stockings Blogfest: Shannon Duffy


Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Spectral.

My Christmas wish to you

This week has been a blessing. Moments of reflection passing through my mind like a cloud floating across the blue sky on a windy day.

Having all my family visiting has been a lot of things. Chaotic, overwhelming at times, but mostly it has been like finding a valued treasure that has been lost awhile and now rediscovered.

You see many of my family live far away and when we all get together it feels like a child finding a precious lost toy—magical, with so many memories laced within its essence.

I soak up the flavours of each personality. Some are sugary, some spicy, others a blend of something in-between—perhaps like a fine wine, aged just right. Each a unique present just as though they themselves have been wrapped in sparkling gift wrap with bright red bows.

I listen to old stories and laugh as my sister calls to me by my childhood nickname; all the while making new memories to add to my library of golden moments. I burn them in place in memory like a tattoo on the brain—one that may fade slightly, yet always remain.

On days when the sun is faded and my mind wistful and melancholy, I can punch that library card of moments and savor the memories. It renews me like a crackling fire on a cold, wintry day.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. I wish for you the best present life has to offer. That is, to add to your precious collection of memories--the ones that will evoke an extraordinary smile across your cheeks and restore your spirit.

About the Author:
Shannon Duffy writes young adult and middle grade fiction. She grew up on the beautiful east coast of Canada and now lives in Ontario, Canada. She is the mom of one boy, Gabriel, her angel. She loves writing, reading, working out, soccer, and the sport of champions-shopping. She is the author of the young adult paranormal romance, SPECTRAL. Her upcoming middle grade fantasy novel, GABRIEL STONE AND THE DIVINITY OF VALTA is scheduled for a January 2013 release.

Shannon Duffy's Facebook:
Shannon Duffy's Twitter:!/ShannonDuffyLit
Shannon Duffy's Website:
Shannon Duffy's Blog:

Monday, December 10, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes Ciara Knight, who is giving away an e-copy of each of the first two books of the Battle for Souls series, Rise from Darkness and Fall from Grace. The third book, Ascension of Evil, is now out.

All of the characters from those two books return in Ascension of Evil for an epic battle of light versus darkness.

"By the end of the book, you’ll know why the war began, who side the characters are truly on, and who survives the final battle. It is an intense conclusion to the series that I hope everyone will enjoy," she told me.

She's currently working on Escapement, the first book of The Neumarian Chronicles, which is due to release in February 2013. A post-apocalyptic prequel novelette with Steampunk elements, Weighted, released earlier this year to glowing reviews.

"I’m so excited to announce that the cover for Escapement will be revealed soon," she said. "Book II, Pendulum will be out late 2013, and book III, Balance, will be out in early 2014."

In total, Ciara has written six novels, several short stories, and two novella/novelettes. Four books are currently published, with one due out in February, and both novellas. You can find all her work at her Amazon Author Central Page or on her website.

"I love Ascension of Evil because of the inspiration it gives people at the end of the story. There are some shocking facts provided about how everything came to pass during the first war and how it plays a part in what they are currently facing," she said. "Also, I absolutely love The Neumarian Chronicles. The alternate world is fascinating to me. I’ve enjoyed studying power sources and inventing technology. It’s a crazy and intense series that challenges all my writing abilities. I love a challenge!"

"What did you want to be when you grew up?" I asked.

"I wanted to be the first American women in space, but when Sally Ride beat me to it I decided to move on. At that point, I wanted to be an actress and took some classes. For a short time, after high school, I pursued the dream, but when I was injured dancing at Disney I was told not to return for final call-back for a Nickelodian show. They couldn’t have a host with a cast on her leg. I also wanted to be an archeologist so I could date Indian Jones."

Ciara is the only female in her house full of seven males: her husband, three sons, two male cats, and a male dog. One of her boys was diagnosed with PDD-NOS, a mild form of autism.

"It’s caused me to grow so much as a person and a mother. Someday I hope to write the fantasy, middle grade book where my son is the main character. He amazes me daily," she told me. "My eldest is lead singer and guitarist in a metal band. At only fourteen, he cut a demo, scheduled and played at various venues around town, and dominated social media in a way I’ll never be able to. I’ll never forget the day he opened his fan page and had 600 likes in two days. I’d just hit 550 after six months. The youngest is one of those kids that everyone knows. He’ll walk into class and every one stops and yells his name. He’s the Norm of the elementary school. My amazing husband is a great dad, and is totally binary. How a left brain and a right brain have a successful marriage is beyond my comprehension, but somehow we complement each other."

She told me that her first agent urged her to use a pen name.

"At the time we thought it best to protect my family, especially with a son who has sensory issues. My agent’s concern was that even if I only became a modest selling author, I could be recognized locally. If that did happen, I wanted to still be able to have successful trips out of the house without my son being overwhelmed," she explained. "Also, it’s been great because my real name was already taken by an author."

When she's not writing, Ciara likes to hike, play with her kids, read, knit, travel, and find trouble.

"I’m not kidding. Anyone who knows me will tell you that trouble can find me no matter where I hide. It is a gift for telling great stories, and a curse for living," she said with a smile.

"What was the scariest moment of your life?" I wondered.

"As I said, trouble always finds me. One incident happened while backpacking through Europe during college with two of my friends. We decided to head to Prague after someone had talked about how fabulous it was. This occurred shortly after the wall went down and there were still a lot of issues with travel. After checking with the proper ticket agent to make sure we had all necessary documentation, we boarded the overnight train. Sometime in the early morning hours we woke to someone pounding on our car door. I managed to crawl over my friend and unlock the door. Three men stood outside with automatic weapons. They start shouting at us. After several minutes I realize they work there and want to see our passports. We hand them over and the shouting continues. I’m pulled out of the car by my hair and we are marched off the train at gun point. After several scary hours, in a cold cell where no one spoke English, we were put on a train and sent back to Germany. Finally, we discovered that one of the girls needed a visa because she didn’t have an American passport. The ticket agent didn’t catch that she wasn’t American."

"What challenges do you think teens face today that you did not?" I asked.

"The most difficult thing for teenagers now is the instant blasts of failures, tragedies, break-ups, or poor decisions. Teens are meant to make mistakes as they grow up, but now one little mistake can be a life-sentence for some young adults. I’ve seen Facebook and Twitter cause some serious pain.

Ciara always thought she was an e-book person, but she shared with me an experience that changed her opinion.

"I was sitting in a restaurant waiting for a friend and I was reading a great book. It was in paper copy since I’d received it from the author in exchange for review. As I’m sitting there completely engrossed in the story, I hear someone arguing on their phone. I paused and looked at everyone with their phones, laptops, and tablets with solemn looks on their faces. I realized that I didn’t have email popping up as I read, or other electronic distractions. I felt like I was stuck in the dark ages, and loved it."

About the Author:
Ciara Knight writes to ‘Defy the Dark’ with her fantasy and paranormal books. Her debut novel, The Curse of Gremdon, was released to acclaimed reviews, securing a Night Owl Top Pick and five stars from the Paranormal Romance Guild. Also, released in 2012 is her young adult series, Battle for Souls. Book I, Rise From Darkness, won July Book of the Month at Long and Short Reviews.

When not writing, she enjoys reading all types of fiction. Some great literary influences in her life include Edgar Allen Poe, Shakespeare, Francine Rivers and J K Rowling.

Her first love, besides her family, reading, and writing, is travel. She’s backpacked through Europe, visited orphanages in China, and landed in a helicopter on a glacier in Alaska.

Ciara is extremely sociable and can be found at Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and her blog.

The final installment of the Battle for Souls series, Ascension of Evil.

Gaby Moore fails to stop a demonic war which released condemned ancient angels and Lucifer’s minions to Earth. When all hope is lost, Herak, an Ancient sentenced to eternal solitude for starting the first demonic war, pledges to save the world. But is he really reformed and ready to fight, or will he betray Gaby and Alexander forcing them to sacrifice their love and each other to save the world?