Rachel Thompson

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

#Excerpt from A LIFE LESS ORDINARY by Victoria Bernadine @VicBernadine #AmReading #ChickLit

Manny laid in bed, staring up at the ceiling and waiting for sleep. She plucked restlessly at the blanket and wished she could relax. Tomorrow was Steph’s first staff meeting. Today she’d reacquainted herself with everyone in the office then spent the rest of the day with Manny being briefed on the details of the work of the branch and any current issues she’d need to resolve within the next few days. That meant Manny’s own work had been delayed, and tomorrow it would be delayed again–and Manny would have to leave early in order to meet Rebecca and Daisy at the lounge for drinks before heading to the club.
Manny took a deep breath and slowly let it out. It wouldn’t be too bad, she staunchly told herself. Steph was young, energetic, and had a shrewd intelligence almost obscured by the cleavage-revealing shirts, short skirts and a figure that could stop traffic–and probably did. Manny wondered if Craig truly understood what he’d gotten himself in for by promoting Steph rather than Manny.
Cleavage and legs.
She mentally rolled her eyes at Harvey’s dry, cynical tones.
Maybe–but that’s not really fair to him, is it? He’s not a bad guy.
But he is just a guy.
She does bring a new perspective–a new way of thinking about things. She’s not a bad choice–and I can’t argue with Craig’s idea that shaking things up could make things better.
And where does that leave you?
No worse off than I was before.
And no better.
If you’re not going to be helpful…
Harvey glanced down at his suddenly ruffled shirt opened to the middle of his muscled chest and skin-tight breeches. He glanced back at her with a ruefully amused smile.
Watched the Ice Pirates again, did you?
Oh, shut up–it’s a classic no matter what anybody else thinks!
I’m just sayin’–if I was real and regularly wore pants this tight, I’m not sure I’d be of any use to you. If you know what I mean.
Manny groaned and shook her head, and Harvey blinked out of existence. She wondered when she’d managed to lose control of a figment of her imagination–one she’d eventually felt compelled to name after an invisible rabbit.
She groaned again, rolled over and pulled the covers over her head. It was going to be another long day tomorrow.
Complete with dancing.

For the last fifteen years, Rose “Manny” Mankowski has been a very good girl. She turned her back on her youthful fancies and focused on her career. But now, at the age of 45, she’s questioning her choices and feeling more and more disconnected from her own life. When she’s passed over for promotion and her much younger new boss implies Manny’s life will never change, something snaps. In the blink of an eye, she’s quit her job, sold her house and cashed in her pension, and she’s leaving town on a six month road trip.
After placing a personal ad for a travelling companion, she’s joined in her mid-life crisis by Zeke Powell, the cynical, satirical, most-read – and most controversial – blogger for the e-magazine, What Women Want. Zeke’s true goal is to expose Manny’s journey as a pitiful and desperate attempt to reclaim her lost youth – and increase his readership at the same time. Leaving it all behind for six months is just an added bonus.
Now, armed with a bagful of destinations, a fistful of maps, and an out-spoken imaginary friend named Harvey, Manny’s on a quest to rediscover herself – and taking Zeke along for the ride.
Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – ChickLit, Contemporary Fiction
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
 Connect with Victoria Bernadine on Twitter

Friday, October 24, 2014

WHAT FREEDOM SMELLS LIKE by Amy Lewis @AmyLewisAuthor #AmReading #Memoir

They have a special room on the ICU for people like me, so you don’t bother the other patients and visitors. Isolating the freshly widowed makes sense; I wouldn’t want to be around me either at that moment in time. You wouldn’t even know the room exists unless you need it. About a hundred square feet, a love seat sat on one side and two chairs on the other. There were two corner tables one holding a phone and on the other a small digital clock. The room had no magazines or TV as this wasn’t a waiting room. It was a mourning room, a breakdown room, a scream out to heaven because clearly God didn’t hear your prayers room. It was a break the news to the others room. It was a room for everything that everyone else didn’t want to witness – a parents losing child room, a children loosing parents room and in my case, it was a widow’s room.

I sat down onto the loveseat and tried to breathe. In and out. Innnn and Outttt. Innnn and Outttt. My head had a constant low level buzzing preventing me from holding a thought. Dad sat down next to me and held my hand tightly.

“Sweetheart” he whispered, “we need to make some calls.”

Calls. Calls. Calls. The word calls starting buzzing along with the noise in my head.

“Do it for me. Please. I just wanna sit here.”

He started by phoning Barbara. I had the awareness of him talking to her, but I don’t remember hearing the words. He hung up the phone. Decisions needed to be made. A young nurse walked into the room shutting the door behind her. I had never seen her before. She sat down next to me and put her arm around me.

“You know honey, in my experience with these things, it’s important for you to go in and see the body.”

The hair on my arm stood up as I heard her say the body. He was no longer a he. He was now just the body.


Diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder, Amy struggled with depression and an addiction to sharp objects. Even hospitalization didn't help to heal her destructive tendencies. It took a tumultuous relationship with a man named Truth to bring her back from the depths of her own self-made hell.Amy's marriage to dark, intriguing Truth was both passionate and stormy. She was a fair-skinned southern girl from New Orleans. He was a charming black man with tribal tattoos, piercings, and a mysterious past. They made an unlikely pair, but something clicked. During their early marriage, they pulled themselves out of abject poverty into wealth and financial security practically overnight. Then things began to fall apart.
 Passionate and protective, Truth also proved violent and abusive. Amy’s own self-destructive tendencies created a powerful symmetry. His sudden death left Amy with an intense and warring set of emotions: grief for the loss of the man she loved, relief she was no longer a target for his aggression.

Conflicted and grieving, Amy found herself at a spiritual and emotional crossroads, only to receive help from an unlikely source: Truth himself. Feeling his otherworldly presence in her dreams, Amy seeks help from a famous medium.

Her spiritual encounters change Amy forever. Through Truth, she learns her soul is eternal and indestructible, a knowledge that gives Amy the courage to pursue her own dreams and transform herself both physically and emotionally. Her supernatural encounters help Amy resolve the internal anger and self-destructive tendencies standing between her and happiness, culminating in a sense of spiritual fulfillment she never dreamed possible.

An amazing true story, What Freedom Smells Like is told with courage, honesty, and a devilishly dark sense of humor.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Amy Lewis through Twitter

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Implementing Realistic Style for Your Content & Branding by @KimberlyShursen #BookMarketing

Branding? What’s that have to do with me?
By Kimberly Shursen - Author of Itsy Bitsy Spider, Hush
If you’re familiar with branding, most of us relate this to logos or a clich├ęs such as “Have it your way,” or Coke’s “It’s the real thing,” or State Farm’s “Like a good neighbor.” So, what does that have to do with writing? In my opinion it has a lot to do with retaining and capturing the right reader base.

Now I’ve heard from time to time that authors should write several genres. I’m not a believer. I’m sure it has been done and done successfully, but most of us focus on one genre. Why? Because we know it’s where we will achieve our best writing.

If you take a look at my covers, you will notice that this is where I begin the branding process. I hope that one day readers will look at my covers, and without noticing my name, will say “That’s a Shursen book.” Now this may never happen, or may happen after I’m six feet under, but this is my hope. I use the same somewhat dark colors, and eerie fonts that are always in a blood red.. So, this is the beginning of branding my products. Okay, I don’t like to use the name “product” to describe my writing, but we’re working with the “other” side of the brain when we talk business here.

Now we move to the content of the book. Ya gotta have a style. Find it; implement it; and hang onto it. Don’t let editors tell that you have to use a complete sentence. How often do we greet someone with “Hello. How are you? I haven’t seen you in a very long time.” Really? Real, live people say, “Hey. How’s it goin’?” Characters need to be real. After a character murders someone would we say; “He ran down the street and through an alley. His heart was beating so fast, he thought he was going to pass out.” My words would be; “Racing between houses … through back yards … into a dark alley … his heart beating out of control, Caleb could taste the bile that rushed into his throat.”

There are three things readers will get to know about me; 1) no flowery, continual, ongoing verbiage about centerpieces, hairdos, or designer clothing, and 2) each chapter will be a cliff hanger, and lastly 3) there will be an unpredictable ending. There will always be those who claim they already knew the ending, but it would be highly unusual. Most readers say they read my novels in either one or two sittings, in spite of the fact they range anywhere from an 80,000 to a 92,000 word count. It makes me tingle all over when I know someone couldn’t put my novels down.

Many of the “greats” write in different genres, with book covers that don’t use the same font or types of images. For me, I don’t feel I would do well writing other genres as I need the constant tension that writing thrillers offers. I leave that up to my peers, and enjoy reading their romance, cozy mysteries, historical, literary fiction, or biographies.

We all have a unique niche, and it’s up each of us to find it. With branding, you won’t lose readers; you’ll find readers who are interested in your style and genre who will become fans.


Soon after Ann Ferguson and Ben Grable marry, and Ben unseals his adoption papers, their perfect life together is torn apart, sending the couple to opposite sides of the courtroom.

Representing Ann, lawyer Michael J. McConaughey (Mac) feels this is the case that could have far-reaching, judicial effects -- the one he's been waiting for.

Opposing counsel knows this high profile case happens just once in a lifetime.

And when the silent protest known as HUSH sweeps the nation, making international news, the CEO of one of the top ten pharmaceutical companies in the world plots to derail the trial that could cost his company billions.

Critically acclaimed literary thriller HUSH not only questions one of the most controversial laws that has divided the nation for over four decades, but captures a story of the far-reaching ties of family that surpasses time and distance.

*** Hush does not have political or religious content. The story is built around the emotions and thoughts of two people who differ in their beliefs.

 EDITORIAL REVIEW: "Suspenseful and well-researched, this action-packed legal thriller will take readers on a journey through the trials and tribulations of one of the most controversial subjects in society today." - Katie French author of "The Breeders," "The Believer's," and "Eyes Ever To The Sky."

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Thriller
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Kimberly Shursen through Facebook and Twitter

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Craig Staufenberg on Commerce & Art Being Unnatural Bedfellows @YouMakeArtDumb #AmWriting

What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?
Getting published is not hard. Anyone can publish anything they write. At the moment I’ve been self-publishing, so publishing itself isn’t difficult for me. I do know people who are doing the shopping-query-letters thing. It seems miserable. I don’t think that suits most writers’ temperaments. I don’t think we should set it as a barrier to being a published writer, as the “willingness to beat your head against a wall” trait has nothing to do with producing good work. But then again, publishers need some sort of filtering mechanism. I get it. And I know people in publishing. They’re good people who mean well. Commerce and art have just always been unnatural bedfellows.
Some people have a lot of difficulty with writing. I can’t say I do. I certainly encounter resistance (or Resistance as Stephen Pressfield would have it). I have days where it’s more challenging than others. But let’s be clear—writing isn’t a pain, it’s a privilege.
And marketing isn’t challenging—it’s uncertain. No one knows how to guarantee it. Even the professionals who’ve worked on multiple best-selling book campaigns say there’s no surefire way to ensure success—even with a great book. So I try to only market in ways that are enjoyable, exciting and interesting to me on their own. Namely, outreach. Talking to people, writing about things that interest me, answering interesting questions, etc.
Net, net: I try to prevent anything in the writing and publishing process from becoming a big pain. If writing, marketing and publishing are all enjoyable activities, then it doesn’t matter how the book performs. To paraphrase my filmmaker friend Todd Bieber: if you do things you want to do, then they can’t be a failure. But if you do things you don’t want to do because you think they’ll make you a success, then you’re guaranteeing failure.
What marketing works for you?
In terms of book sales, I don’t have any magic formula for you. But the more social the marketing, the more I enjoy it and the less if feels like work. And by “social” I don’t mean spamming Facebook. I mean actual social activities—participating in interviews, meeting people, and—my favorite—talking personally with people who have read and connected with the work.

Do you find it hard to share your work?
Sometimes. It’s difficult at first when I have no clue what the reader response will be. But to combat this I send it out for feedback (from strangers) the second I’ve finished typing the last word of the first draft. I don’t leave time to let the fear start making decisions for me. After that first round of feedback I have a good idea of how people will respond to the work, so that makes it easier to solicit further rounds of feedback. The uncertainty is the worst.
It’s also difficult after I’ve gotten a severely negative response from someone. It’s like falling off the bike—you’re scared to get back on because you’re scared of falling again. Whenever someone hates the book I’m scared to share it again, because I’m worried the next person will dislike it as well. (And the next, and the next.) But it’s not optional. You just have to get back on the bike as quickly as possible.

Do you plan to publish more books?
I don’t have any plans to do anything. But I have projects I’m working on, some of which are books, most of which I assume I will publish. But I don’t make plans. I just make things I want to make, and a point comes where the next step in “making them” is turning them into a physical object. I understand this sounds obnoxious and like I’m splitting hairs. But the distinction is important. Making plans for your creative life will just lock you up. And if creative life demands anything, it’s softness.

What else do you do to make money, other than write? It is rare today for writers to be full time…
I don’t earn my primary income from my books, but do work full-time as a writer. I worked as a freelance writer for 3-4 years, then went full-time with one of my clients this January. I produce content for them—blogs, articles, newsletters, etc.—in addition to a myriad of other work including marketing, research, etc.
Contrary to popular belief I don’t find it difficult to write on my own, and on the job. Lots of people are scared of taking a job where they have to write, or to do creative work, under the misguided belief that they will somehow “use up” their creativity. I have never met a successful writer with this attitude—everyone who has parroted this myth, and who seems to live by it, has been a flake.
True, there have been some famous writers who held boring, totally uncreative jobs as they wrote their masterpieces. But saying “some famous writers held boring jobs while they wrote” is not the same thing as saying “holding a boring job is a prerequisite for becoming a famous writer.” By contrast, I’ve found writing professionally taught me the technical skills—and many of the emotional skills—I’ve needed to write creatively.

What other jobs have you had in your life?
Plenty. Janitor, a few box offices, tech in a performing arts center, counselor at a boys & girls club, retail selling glasses, dishwasher, front desk & phones at Planned Parenthood, etc. A laundry list of positions. I’ve stuck with writing the longest of anything, though.

If you could study any subject at university what would you pick?
I studied comparative religion and media studies at university, which is exactly what I wanted to study at the time. Thankfully I didn’t do anything “practical.” But I haven’t been enamored with university since finishing my first year. I ultimately finished my degree, but I did so at an accelerated pace to get out of the university setting quickly. I had some great professor and was exposed to some interesting work, but overall I found university too stuffy and disconnected from reality.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
I currently live in New York City, which I can’t really turn my nose up at. Being able to live here comfortably, with plenty of free time and control over my life, is an incredible privilege. So no complaints there.

How do you write – lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?
Pen and paper, in coffee shops. I used to write entirely by laptop, but I’ve converted to writing longhand. Over the last years I’ve written—no exaggeration here—millions upon millions of words. I’ve written many hours a day, just about every single day, for the past four years. And I can say, without a doubt, that there’s a huge difference between writing longhand and typing at the computer.
You think differently when you write longhand. You think better. Clearer. And you connect more with how you’re feeling than you do writing on the computer. You also move forward through the piece more writing longhand. You don’t keep rewriting the same paragraph a million times trying to get it perfect like you do on the computer. You don’t keep adding sentences and words, and paragraphs to your writing.
You also edit better longhand. It turns the very abstract act of writing into something physical. There’s less mediation between you and the paper than there is between you and the word processing software. So I write everything longhand on paper, transcribe onto the laptop, then print it out and edit by hand.

Where do you get support from? Do you have friends in the industry?
The support has to come from the writing itself. This isn’t quite the same thing as saying the support has to come from within. I’m skeptical of internal support. Doing it for yourself, that kind of thing. You need some sort of external driver as well.
For me that’s a feeling of love and obligation to the story itself, and its characters. If I focused just on myself I’d spend less time writing and a lot more time lying in bed. The story and the characters get me up and writing. Other people have other external forms of support. Whatever works for you. While I do know some people in the industry, I’m not motivated to write by knowing them.

The Girl Who Came Back to Life

When you die, your spirit wakes in the north, in the City of the Dead. There, you wander the cold until one of your living loved ones finds you, says "Goodbye," and Sends you to the next world. 

After her parents die, 12-year-old Sophie refuses to release their spirits. Instead, she resolves to travel to the City of the Dead to bring her mother and father’s spirits back home with her. 

Taking the long pilgrimage north with her gruff & distant grandmother—by train, by foot, by boat; over ruined mountains and plains and oceans—Sophie struggles to return what death stole from her. Yet the journey offers her many hard, unexpected lessons—what to hold on to, when to let go, and who she must truly bring back to life.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Middle Grade
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Craig Staufenberg through Facebook and Twitter