Another Release For Sue Searles

You’ll remember Sue Searles from her last Path to Publication post on the blog, and now she’s celebrating another release!

FindingFreedom_500x750

Action, intrigue, and deception make up this intensely human story.

Naïve Emily Garrett discovers that her safe, secure upbringing has been a devastating lie. Snatched on the day she was born, apparently by the same people she calls her parents, she is forced to learn the reasons for their desperate actions.

Ifetayo Ayassou finally finds the courage to escape her hellish existence as a trafficking victim and, coupled with the difficult healing process, she begins a search for the child she was forced to give away eighteen years ago.

Two women plunged into the underworld of human trafficking, both in search of freedom and truth—and each other. But, will their paths collide?

EXCERPT

Her plan was set in motion. Lea would take her usual long walk to the market as if nothing was different. But then instead of returning to the house at the end of the day, she’d go in the opposite direction. Destination Togo—wherever that might be.

A wave of terrifying exhilaration washed over Lea as she stepped out of her mistress’s house for the last time. A collection of painful memories was contained under that roof, each room telling its own horrific story. The idea of living alone on the street was beyond frightening. She’d done the unthinkable, and while the idea made her panic she had a plan, up to a point.

But, she was free.

For the first time in her life she had a purpose—to find her mother and see for herself if the woman still remembered her or cared about her. Until then, Lea would have to watch her back and find a way to survive. She bit back tears, too afraid to let them fall. For now, the sweet taste of freedom would be her main concern, and it was more gratifying than she could ever have imagined.

The congested marketplace drew her in with its roadside bukas, each stall taunting her with its enticing smells of smoked fish and snacks sizzling in palm oil. Despite the comfort of the familiar surroundings, Lea felt unusually restless today, second-guessing her decision for the hundredth time. She was still in familiar territory and it wasn’t too late to turn back. She took comfort in the busyness of the jostling vendors and the colorful stalls, a sight she knew so well. It would be tempting to return to a life that was at least predictable, even if it was horrendous. No! She had made up her mind. Perhaps there was still a trace of the spirited girl she once was, after all.

The unforgiving Nigerian sun sliced through a thick, gray blanket of cloud, enveloping the village in a shroud of dreary smog. Lea made sure she’d sold about half her quota of loaves, before immersing herself in the crowd and taking her first steps of freedom. The sense of exhilaration mingled with pure terror, but she had to keep going. Freedom must be foremost in her mind. She tried to picture her mother’s face, even though the memory was hazy. Perhaps that would keep her calm and help her to press on. She thought of Mother’s arms around her and wondered if she’d ever see her again. Lea swatted away angry tears. This was no time for pipe dreams; she had to be strong.

Soon Lea was in unfamiliar territory. The crowds thinned and she was alone in a labyrinth of back streets with old, neglected buildings and overgrown gardens. Obeche trees drooped overhead, pinning her with dense overgrowth. She felt claustrophobic and trapped in this strange, lonely world. She kept going, the early stage of blisters searing her swollen feet. She rounded a corner and was thankful for the bustling activity up ahead. An elderly man buzzed past on a whining scooter and a pair of stray dogs chased each other across the street. A family of six sat on the side of the road sharing an afternoon meal. Lea had never been this far down the end of town and she started to panic. It was too late to turn back now. In a few hours it would be dark and Alina would know she wasn’t coming back. She determined in herself that she could not—would not—get caught.

As the crowds thickened, she clutched the baskets carrying the remaining loaves of bread. They were her only possessions, apart from the threadbare notebook wedged deep in her waistband. She kept checking to make sure it hadn’t fallen out along the way, and walked until her feet ached.

Before long, buildings cast elongated shadows across the narrow street and darkness wrapped its arms around her. Lea’s anxiety multiplied as her mind wandered to Auntie Alina. Did the woman know yet that she wasn’t coming back? The thought choked her with fear.

Sue Searles pic 1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sue Searles has written several books, ranging from women’s fiction and short stories to poetry and children’s books. Having worked on various forms of storytelling since childhood, writing has been a lifelong passion.

Now somewhat older and wiser, she is passionate about thinking outside the conventional box, and conveys messages that are thought-provoking and life-changing.

Her inspiration comes mainly from studying people, reading, and daily life.

Sue is happily married and lives in sunny South Africa with her husband and son.

PRAISE FOR FINDING FREEDOM

  • I found this book while searching for something to read. I was actually in the middle of another book but thought I would read the beginning of this book to see if it would interest me. I could not put the book down once I started and ended up reading into the wee hours of the next morning. My heart goes out to the victims described in Sue’s book. Be ready to have an emotional rollercoaster ride. I would love to read more from Sue Searles!!!! (H. Smith)
  • This is a story that I recommend that everyone reads as I couldn’t put this book down. This is one of those books that will forever change the way I think of abuse and living conditions in other parts of the world to include human trafficking and slavery – that still goes on today! This story really makes me analyze and appreciate my own life and gives me some motivation to reach out and try to help others – even more than I already do. As an avid reader of at least five books a week, this is the first time I felt compelled to write a review. I highly recommend this book! (Leah Raeon)
  • Sad but true story of child trafficking, children being used as sex slaves children
    being abducted from one country and send to another. Please read this book, this is
    the story of so many young children who are being enslaved. (DeeDon)
  • This is a book that is difficult if not impossible to put down! You find yourself grieving with and rooting for Ifetayo and also wanting Emily to get with it! Emily is a very sheltered young woman who doesn’t really understand what human trafficking means. Because of this, she is quite put out with her parents for rescuing her (kidnapping her) from human traffickers and wants to return to Nigeria to “find herself”. Along the way the author includes quite a bit of information about human trafficking, etc. and it is appalling that this is such a grave concern still today. One piece from the book that I really liked was the following “If you look at a tapestry and turn it over, the back looks like a mess — you’ll see little knots and bits of frayed wool and strange colours splashed all over the place. Then turn it over and it becomes a masterpiece. And that is how God the Father sees you. You are His masterpiece…” The story is well written and all the threads are woven together in the end — I thought the ending was wonderful! I believe that this book showed that despite the darkness of what people can do to other people (especially women and children) — God uses other people to bring the enslaved out of darkness into the light. (J. Kingon)
  • Kudos to Sue Searles for taking the reader on a beautifully written roller coaster ride. This author weaved these two parallel tales together seamlessly. We were taken on Emily’s ride and Ifetayo’s journey with such detail. As one looking for my own birth mother I was able to feel the pain in this book. I will never look at another working child the same after learning about child trafficking. This is one of those books I couldn’t put down and a book all should read. (Rosa L. Ferguson)
  • This book was well written. It kept your interest and left you wanting to read more. (Bymari Bartleyon)

AUTHOR’S SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

www.suesearlesbooks.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/Sue-Searles-Author-1505707636405524/

https://twitter.com/sue_searles

https://www.pinterest.com/searles0490/

Instagram – Sue Searles

BUY LINKS

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Freedom-Sue-Searles-ebook/dp/B01B6KGYMA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1454176897&sr=8-2&keywords=sue+searles

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/finding-freedom-sue-searles/1108817778?ean=2940157883904

Kobo Books: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/finding-freedom-6

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/611198

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Jane McGarry’s Path to Publication Story

Hello everyone! Today I’m featuring the Path to Publication story of fellow Clean Reads author, Jane McGarry…

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JaneMcGarryFirst off, I would like to thank Christi for the chance to share my path to publication.

My journey was not the typical “major in English, then attain an MFA” route many writers take. In fact, if someone had told me a decade ago I would now be a published author, I would never have believed it.

Growing up, I loved to read and the passion only increased with age.  While I have a soft spot for the classics, I explored just about every genre of fiction I could get my hands on.  There was something about the themes in Young Adult books—the countless possibilities of life at this age—that spoke to me.  The more YA I read, the more ideas for stories I had.

The problem was I wasn’t a writer. My whole life, I had made up stories, but always kept them to myself. While reading was encouraged in my home, the arts were not mentioned as a possible career path. No one ever told me I couldn’t pursue a career as a writer, but the obvious undertone was one could not actually make a living in any artistic endeavor. As expected, I majored in business, and upon graduating from college, I worked in the pharmaceutical industry for a decade.  My job was interesting and allowed me many wonderful opportunities, but I cannot honestly say I was passionate about it.

When my first son was born, I left work to become a full-time mom.  A few years later, son number two came along.  While I was passionate about this job, it was exhausting on every level. In the rare quiet moments I found, writing became an escape. Never did I feel as authentic as when I was putting words on paper. The idea for Not Every Girl was formed and I would jot down notes on random scraps, napkins, whatever I could find. Still, the thought of sitting down to pen a full novel seemed too overwhelming, especially while chasing after two kids all day long.

But then, I had a milestone birthday and did an inventory of my life to that point. Finally, I asked myself the questions I should have asked way back when—Why not give it a try? What is the worst that could happen? And so, I wrote and wrote some more, squeezing it in at naptime, in the car at school pick-up, at sports practice, and after bedtime. If I had a free minute, I used it to write.  Then miraculously one day, it was finished—a horrible mess of a first draft, but hey, finished nonetheless.  While I worked on editing the manuscript, I learned everything I could about the publishing industry.  My revisions and research took me literally over a year to complete, but by the time the story was ready, I felt prepared to send it out into the world.

Thus began the dreaded cycle of query, rejection, revision, repeat—and believe me there was a whole lot of rejection.  But, the advice I constantly came across was to not give up, to believe in your work and eventually the right fit would present itself. When I discovered Clean Reads (formerly Astraea Press), I was impressed with their philosophy. So once again, I sent out a query. A few weeks later I was thrilled to be offered a contract and I was on my way. Despite the detours and bumps in the road, I am both humbled and grateful my path has led here. Now, I look forward to the journey that awaits.

noteverygirlcoverOlivia Davenport’s plan is destined to fail.

She is going through with it anyway, of course. After all, it is the chance of a lifetime. The unreasonable rules of others should not stand in her way.

In her small kingdom of Stewartsland, Olivia trains with the squires and harbors a secret dream. She longs to become a knight under the command of the Master-of–Arms, who just happens to be her father. He has indulged her passion so far, but they both know a simple fact – girls may not attain knighthood. Dismayed by the constant discouragement of her ambitions, she makes an impetuous decision to disguise herself as a boy in order to sneak on a mission. The consequences are not at all what she anticipated.

When her deception is revealed, she is sent home in disgrace; however, an unexpected turn of events puts her at the center of a dangerous plot against the King. The ensuing adventure finds her grappling with mercenaries and outlaws, yet these pale in comparison to her newly awakened emotions. She finds not only her life at risk, but also her heart, when the aloof Prince Liam begins to affect her in ways she never thought possible. In the end, it is her courage and unique spirit which must guide her through the challenges she encounters both physical and emotional.

Buy Links: 

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

About Jane: Reading was always a big part of Jane’s life. Over the years, creating stories developed out of this love. Finally, she decided to try her hand at writing a novel and that was when Not Every Girl was conceived.

She lives in New Jersey in a house full of boys, including one over-indulged cat. When she is not running around with her family or writing, she can be found curled up with a good book and said cat. It is her belief that a good book, a loyal pet and anything made of chocolate can brighten just about any day.

You can visit her online at: www.janemcgarrybooks.com

Connect with Jane:

Author website:

http://www.janemcgarrybooks.com/

You Tube Book Trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgI3NW02qgk

Facebook link:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jane-McGarry-Author/712005068914626

Twitter link:

https://twitter.com/JMcGarryauthor

Instagram link:

https://instagram.com/janemcgarryauthor/

Pinterest link:

https://www.pinterest.com/janem0378/

My Critique Partner, Margo Kelly, Shares her Path To Publication Story

I fully admit I’m bawling as I type this. Why? Because I’m so incredibly happy!!!

Margo and I met way back in mid-2010, through an online critique partner meet up board that I cannot recall the name of. I’d posted a “I desperately need a critique partner” post, she replied, and the rest is history.

I’ve been with her during everything she describes in her Path to Publication story below, and you can find her name on the list of the people I thank in the acknowledgements section of Along the Way Home.

She’s a fantastic writer, a brilliant critique partner, and I’m thrilled to see her dream of publication finally come true!

Without further ado, I’m proud to present my critique partner, Margo Kelly…

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margo_kelly_photoIn January, 2009, I decided I wanted to change careers and pursue a long forgotten dream of becoming a published author. Sound familiar? I purchased Janet Evanovich’s HOW I WRITE and Writer’s Digest’s GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS, and I began my research into the industry.

Six months later, I finished my first manuscript, MANIFESTED, and I started sending out query letters. The rejections flooded in. I had tough skin. I knew rejections were part of the process, but one of the form letters pushed me over the edge. I struck a match and sent the rejection up in flames. (Yes, that was back in the days of snail mail.) Then I took a deep breath and went back to querying.

I also started writing my next manuscript. I read more books on the craft of writing, subscribed to magazines and journals that would help me better my skills, wrote flash fiction to tighten my story telling, and connected with two great critique partners that I met through online communities.

A year later, in August, 2010, I had finished my second manuscript, THE EDUCATION OF THIA, and began to send out query letters. The requests for partials and fulls came in right away! I was so excited! But then rejections followed. I paid attention to the agents’ feedback, because I wanted to improve the story and make it saleable, but it was tricky, because while one said, “The main character is too naive” another said, “The main character sounds too adult.” I revised none-the-less.

With a bright and shiny polished version of the story, I headed off to my first writer’s conference. I met up with my critique partner, Melissa, and we had an absolute blast. Plus, two agents at the conference requested my full manuscript, and I just knew one of these fabulous agents was going to offer me a contract. Yes-sir-ee!! I went home too excited to work on any writing. I was waiting to hear from the agents.

More than a month later, I sent very polite follow-up emails to the two agents from the conference. Both responded, explaining how busy they were (of course, I understood, I wanted them to take care of their current clients first, that made sense). But I was demoralized. I couldn’t seem to start a new manuscript. So I pulled out MANIFESTED and dusted it off. I figured I could work on rewriting it and improving it until I found my writing mojo again.

Three months later, one of the conference agents emailed to tell me she’d decided to shelve my manuscript, unread. She was no longer looking for new clients. By the summer of 2011, the second conference agent emailed and apologized for the delay in reading my manuscript. She said the writing was great, but it didn’t excite her enough to offer me representation.

My tough skin had been broken, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue down this publishing path. Then I was diagnosed with a rare 12mm lesion in the middle of my brain. After a lot of time and money, the specialists decided there was nothing they could do about it. I had to reevaluate my life, my priorities, and my goals. What if my time was limited here on earth? How would I want to spend it? Through self-evaluation, I realized writing was still important to me, and as a result I refocused my efforts with great fervor.

On November 11, 2011, I sent out eleven queries for BUT HE LOVES ME (formerly known as The Education of Thia). A dream agent from my dream agency requested a partial the same day (it was a Friday). Monday, she requested the full. Wednesday, she requested a phone call. Thursday, we discussed ideas for revisions. I loved all of her suggestions, and my mojo exploded! She said if I could accomplish these revisions, she’d offer me formal representation. I wanted it! I got to work, and I was on fire!  I sent her the revised manuscript about a week and a half later (I know, it sounds like I rushed it, but I’m telling you: I was ON FIRE!!). She read it right away and requested more revisions. I got right back to work. I was still excited about the process, and I was thrilled to think that someone had caught the “vision” of my story. While I was busy working on more revisions, she surprised me and mailed me a contract! YES! Not to mention, in the time I was working with her on revisions, other agents had requested partials and fulls. Out of respect, I contacted them to let them know I’d received an offer. One of the agents told me I’d be nuts to not accept the offer from this great agency.

On December 12, 2011, I signed with Brianne Johnson of Writers House. I’ve been smiling ever since, because I have the best agent from the best agency.

From there, we finalized revisions and made another title change before sending the manuscript out on submission. It took a while to sell, partly because the main character’s age put the story on the fence between middle-grade and young adult. However, Jacquelyn Mitchard of Merit Press (an imprint of F+W Media) saw the “merit” in the story and made an offer. With another title change and more revisions, the book, WHO R U REALLY?, was finally published on September 18, 2014.

Now I’m polishing my next manuscript, and I’ve already started writing another. The publishing process certainly requires persistence and patience, but the future is so exciting.

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Adobe Photoshop PDFWho R U Really?

When Thea discovers a new role-playing game online, she breaks her parents’ rules to play. And in the world of the game, Thea falls for an older boy named Kit whose smarts and savvy can’t defeat his near-suicidal despair. Soon, he’s texting her, asking her to meet him, and talking in vague ways about how they can be together forever. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit’s allure, and hurtles toward the very fate her parents feared most. Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea’s life spins out of control.

“Kelly has painted a realistic picture of how a smart girl can get caught up in something dangerous online. … Guaranteed to give readers goosebumps.” — School Library Journal.  (http://www.bookverdict.com)

“Thea’s mistakes, while frustrating to encounter, are frighteningly plausible, and the relationships among characters are well–fleshed out, especially between mother and daughter. Kelly’s first novel is a suspenseful page-turner.” — Kirkus Reviews (www.kirkusreviews.com)

Who R U Really? is available in hardcover and e-book versions by Merit Press (F+W Media).

Buy online:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Merit Press

Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, she is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Who R U Really? is her first novel. Margo welcomes the opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.

Follow her online:

Website: www.margokelly.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MargoKelly.author

Twitter: @MargoWKelly

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/margokelly

Scheduled Appearances:

September 26, 2014 – 5pm – Book Signing at Hastings in Meridian, Idaho

September 27, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Hastings on Overland in Boise, Idaho

October 3, 2014 – 7pm – Book Launch Party at Hyde Park Books in Boise, Idaho

October 11, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Barnes & Noble in Boise, Idaho

 

 

Another Book Release for Heather Gray!

Today I’m thrilled to announce fellow Astraea Press author Heather Gray has agreed to host today!

CLICK HERE for her Path to Publication story

She’s one of the first authors I connected with upon joining Astraea and she is very supportive and kind, so I’m very excited to see her releasing yet another book!

Without further ado, here’s Heather’s latest release…

Back Cover Blurb:

Jackal 1400_2100Hiding in the shadows just got harder. 

When tragedy strikes, Juliana and her family must flee their home. Can they persuade a virtual stranger to help them? Juliana isn’t so sure, especially after their chaperone threatens to cane him. Even as Juliana struggles to trust him, she finds herself drawn to this mysterious man. Surely all she wants from him is refuge…

Rupert is a man whose life depends on his ability to remain unnoticed. What, then, is he supposed to do with this family he’s inherited?  His life is overrun with an ancient chaperone who would terrify a lesser man, two spirited girls, and the secretive Juliana – someone he comes to think of as his own precious jewel.

With this new responsibility thrust upon him, Rupert will have to make sacrifices – but will God ask him to sacrifice everything?

Excerpt:

1810

A duke had been cut down in the prime of his life. According to the War Department, The Hunter was to blame.

Jackal had been put onto The Hunter’s scent and told to ferret him out at all cost. It was his job, his duty to the crown, and he treated it with the seriousness it demanded. Evil could not be allowed to go unpunished, and people who took pleasure in destroying the lives of others would not walk away with impunity, not on his watch.

Jackal met with his contacts in the Austrian government and found no gratification in revealing they had a traitor in their midst. It had been a necessary move, and now the problem would be dealt with. The Austrians would put The Hunter down, and England’s hands would remain clean of the mess, exactly as the minister wanted.

Grim foreboding furrowed his brow as he left the meeting with the Austrians. His lack of evidence mocked him. He’d done as ordered, and they’d believed him, but had it been his choice, he’d have gathered more proof first.

Jackal climbed into his carriage and slapped his hand against the roof, signaling the driver with his readiness to depart. A lengthy ride awaited him. He would leave the carriage and his current identity behind in Munich once he arrived there. New papers and fresh horses were waiting for him. The same would happen again when he crossed over into Stuttgart, and then again in Brussels. His task was clear: remain alive long enough to claim each of the new identities and return safely to his homeland.

Sitting back on the roughly cushioned seat, he accepted what he’d begun to suspect. This would be his last assignment for the crown. He was getting too old for the job. The time to retire was upon him. The younger bucks were willing – if not entirely ready – to take their place among the ranks of the unseen, unknown, and unnamed heroes of war. Jackal shook his head. Not too long ago, he’d been one of those young bucks. Ready for retirement at age thirty-two? The thought would be laughable in any other career. In his line of work, though, only those who retired young lived to be old and grey.

Lost in melancholy, Jackal barely noted the change from the raucous noise of a bustling merchant district to the quiet pastoral sounds that would accompany him on most of this journey. Europe was a large land with rich cities interspersed with vast emptiness dotted with small hamlets. Traveling by carriage would take weeks, but as long as he could report back that he’d done as ordered, it would be worth the time.

He settled into his seat. They were still days from their first sanctioned stop. As always, the best defense was to keep moving.

****

A change in the carriage’s soothing methodical movement woke Jackal from his doze and alerted him that something was amiss. Awareness coursed through his veins, pushing away the remnant of sleep. A quick glance at the curtained window told him it was late morning. They’d ridden through the night to put as much distance as possible between them and Vienna – the current hub of Austrian government.

The carriage was moving with a wildness he’d felt only one other time in his life. Dread snaked through his middle as he accepted the truth. There was no longer a driver in control of his conveyance. Jackal crouched low on the floor for balance as he prepared to throw open the door and jump. Perhaps he should have sought retirement one assignment sooner.

Before his hand could touch the door, a jarring force threw Jackal against the seat to his left, shooting pain up his arm. They’d been boarded, then, and his driver – an agent he’d worked with for years – had likely not been alive to sound the alarm. Emotion would come later. For now, Jackal needed to focus on one thing: Survival.

The carriage gained speed under the skillful hand of whoever now sat in the driver’s seat. I should have jumped when I had the chance. Jackal shook his head as he calculated the odds of survival.

Palming his gun, he pounded on the roof of the carriage, commanding the driver to stop. Surprise flared to life as his conveyance did indeed come to a standstill. Rather than slow to a gentle stop, the carriage halted its forward momentum in a skidding bone-shaking fashion. It was the kind of stop that guaranteed no beast would be able to walk away from it afterward.

Jackal jumped before the dust could settle. His best chance would be to go on the offence and catch the driver off-guard. Though he’d assumed the driver had a partner, nothing could have prepared him for the vicious attack awaiting him on the other side of the door.

Jackal no sooner touched the ground than he was trampled under the anxious feet of a high-stepping horse. He’d not even had a chance to gain his footing. As he lay on the ground, Jackal both heard and felt the breaking of bone in his left leg. A couple of his ribs surrendered to the heavy hooves as well. Rolling onto his side, he took aim at the perpetrator. The sun blinded him, and he could distinguish no features on the man whose gun dared him to move. In the split second it took for him to reassure himself he was not aiming at an innocent bystander – for they were indeed in one of the numerous modest hamlets that dotted the continent’s countryside – the rider pulled the trigger, and pain seared through Jackal’s already throbbing leg. It felt as if the lead had burrowed its way into his very bone.

He pulled the trigger of his flintlock pistol, and the man on the horse recoiled. Even as Jackal reached for the gun concealed at the ankle of his wounded leg, he knew it was futile. The rider had a second gun in-hand before his own fingers even brushed against the grip of his hidden weapon. Pain tore through his shoulder, immobilizing his shooting arm. Another ball of lead ripped into his middle. He felt his blood seeping out onto the street.

Accepting his fate, he asked only one thing. “At whose hand am I to die this day?”

Laughter vile enough to sour port met his question. “Today the Jackal shall meet his end at the hands of The Hunter.”

The Hunter? The Austrians were supposed to have him by now.

“Your plan failed, and I am free. Prepare to die.”

Blackness closing in around him, Jackal released the last thought held captive in his mind.

Why God?

Cold claimed his body as he slipped into darkness. He neither heard nor felt the next shot.

Buy Links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Smashwords

iTunes

Author Bio:

Heather Gray is the author of the Ladies of Larkspur inspirational western romance series, including Mail Order man, Just Dessert, and Redemption.  She also writes the Regency Refuge series with titles His Saving Grace, Jackal, and the soon-to-be-released Queen.  But that’s not all!  Interested in contemporary Christian romance?  Take a look at Ten Million Reasons and Nowhere for Christmas.

Heather loves coffee, God, her family, and laughter – not necessarily in that order!  She writes approachable and flawed characters who, through the highs and lows of life, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.  And, yeah, her books almost always have someone who’s a coffee addict.  Some things just can’t be helped.

Where to Find Heather:

My Website – http://www.heathergraywriting.com

My Blog – http://www.heathergraywriting.com/blog

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/heathergraywriting

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/+Heathergraywritingnow

Twitter – http://twitter.com/LaughDreamWrite

Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/LaughDreamWrite

Elizabeth Belyeu’s Path to Publication Story

Today’s Path to Publication story comes fellow Astraea Press author, Elizabeth Belyeu.

Without further ado, here’s Elizabeth…

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I write at work, at my desk, on my bed, at the kitchen table – in my head before I go to sleep, on scraps of paper in my pocket, in emails sent to myself. Writing, the masochistic pursuit; how sad the cries of the writer trying to outline! How savage the tearing of hair when characters refuse to cooperate! And yet I would never want to stop. Something inside me would have to die before I could even consider stopping.

I published my first book in kindergarten, and by “published” I mean “stapled pages together and colored on them.” My first novel came at age 9, when I bought a blank journal with two cats on the cover and wrote their adventures on the inside. (Pitter and Patter, my first real characters. Ahhh, good times.) In grade school there was a collaboration with my best friend about two girls who find their way to a fantasy world; in junior high came the series (scribbled in notebooks during gym class) about the group of teens with psychic powers; through most of high school I labored over a novel that I never could figure out how to end. By then I definitely knew I wanted to Be A Writer.

I did my research. I learned about agents and editors, royalties and cover art and slush piles, and I’m glad I did. I’m glad that, by the time publication became any sort of option for me, I had no rose-colored glasses about how it works.

I read book after book after book on How To Write. I took a correspondence course in high school; in college, I took Creative Writing classes, even when I no longer got credit for them. Later I joined a local critique group. All of those things were helpful, and I recommend them. But I think now that the two most valuable things for building my writing skills were first, writing – writing all the time, figuring it out as I went – and second, reading. I read just as ceaselessly as I wrote, absorbing stories and storytelling, learning the tricks of the trade on a bone-deep subconscious level. I was the kid that mispronounced words because I’d read them a hundred times before I heard them spoken, and I think there’s no better way to master language than to let it just saturate your brain like that.

In 2008 I started a new story because I was bored and alone at my sister’s house. I took the first chapter to my Creative Writing class and learned it was crap. Writers have to be thick-skinned; you have to understand that a criticism of the work is not a criticism of the writer. The work can be fixed, and that fixing process is what makes you a better writer, however much it stings. That crappy chapter was nothing worse than a false start. I did it again, and did it better. I kept writing. The crappy chapter became Secondhand Shadow.

My older sister, Misty, has long been my First Reader, the one whose feedback leads to the second version that others see. Tired of investing herself in things I didn’t finish, she demanded a new chapter of Secondhand Shadow every week. That was exactly the nudge I needed, and inside of a year I had a finished novel manuscript for the first time since junior high.

Several rounds of revision later, I started searching for an agent. There are a lot of websites out there that can advise you on that subject; one I particularly recommend, even if some of its advice might be a touch dated now, is Miss Snark (http://misssnark.blogspot.com), an anonymous literary agent who blogged for several years about the querying and agenting process. I read her entire archive, and came out the other side able to piece together a decent query letter. I queried about 40 agents before my letter caught the eye of Lindsay Ribar at Greenburger Associates, and she requested some pretty intense revisions before she would take me on – but in the end I had a stronger book, and a real live agent!

Then came the awful part – waiting for the book to sell. I told Lindsay not to tell me about rejections, I didn’t see any reason to put myself through that. But as time ticks away, you know your agent is out there working and that means you’re getting rejected. It took two solid years for Lindsay to find a publisher for Secondhand Shadow, but the moment she told me about Astraea Press I knew it was going to be a good fit. They offered me a contract just a couple days before my 29th birthday, which was perfect timing – I’d been feeling very down about turning 29 (29! The last frontier of early adulthood! How is this possible!) still unpublished. Lindsay and Astraea gave me the best birthday present ever!

The work didn’t stop there; more revisions followed, mostly to make my book conform to Astraea’s exacting standards, and to fix some structural difficulties. I spent 12 solid hours at my desk, getting it done before the deadline. And after that came galley corrections. At this point I’m actually unsettled by the idea that I can’t change the book anymore. It’s out there. It’s published. It is set in stone, for good or ill.

Book Blurb

SecondhandShadow1400X2100It’s supposed to be a symbiotic relationship: the Shadow serves and protects the human Lumi, the Lumi feeds and cares for the Shadow. But when Damon’s Lumi died young and severed the bond between them, he declined to go with her like a good little Shadow. Yes, it hurts. Yes, he’s cold and hungry all the time. And yes, his own people call him an abomination. But for the first time, Damon’s life is his own, and he’s never going back.

Or so he thinks, until he meets Naomi, a pregnant college student… and bonds to her as his new Lumi. Which has never happened to a Shadow before.

Naomi has enough problems on her plate, juggling college and a crappy survival job, preparing for a baby, and getting over her cheating ex-husband. The last thing she needs is a dark, brooding fellow like Damon depending on her physically and emotionally, and hating her for it. But a vigilante among Damon’s people has his sights set on Naomi – and they both know Damon is her only chance for survival.

Buy Links: 

Amazon            Barnes & Noble

Author Bio:

Elizabeth Belyeuis 29 years old and lives in Alabama, where she supports herself, her cat, and her steadily growing TBR pile as a library assistant. She graduated from Troy University in 2008 with a bachelorʹs in English (Creative Writing minor). This is her first novel, but she has been writing since she could hold a pencil, and plans to continue until she is too senile to type.

Connect with Elizabeth

Blog           Facebook

Violet Ingram’s Path to Publication Story

Today’s Path to Publication Post is by Violet Ingram.

Without further ado, here’s Violet…

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I think the beginning of my Path to Publication really started when I was a kid. My mom and I would spend Saturday mornings in the library. We would walk in the front door and she would head off towards adult fiction while I headed off to the kid’s section.

Mysteries were my first love. I fell for the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Encyclopedia Brown. I always imagined myself off solving the mysteries with them. I would come up with new cases and act them out.

Fast forward a lot of years and a ton of books read later to 2001. I had just given birth to my fourth child and I decided that the stories in my head needed to be put down on paper. My mom believed in me when I dared say it out loud. She brought me pages and pages of websites for research.

It took years for me to finish that first book – a book that shall remain tucked away. After finishing the next book my husband encouraged me to join a critique group at one of our local bookstores. It was the best decision I could have made. Next up, I started reading and researching agents, publishers, and submission processes. I also entered lots of contests and got lots of helpful input. The most important thing I did was keep writing.

Fast forward again, this time to 2014. I got my first publishing contract. I admit I squealed and jumped around the living room.

Death by High Heels will be available July 28, 2014 from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

DeathbyHighHeels_Draft.

Book Blurb:

Spending time with a dead guy, being interrogated by the cops and getting stitched up by a cute ER doc aren’t exactly the evening plans private investigator Kimberly Murphy envisioned. Especially the getting caught standing over a dead body, again, part. Only this time it wasn’t her fault. Just once she’d like it if homicide detective Grant Tompkins didn’t assume she was guilty.

To clear her slightly tarnished name, Kim goes after the clever killer while avoiding a certain hot homicide detective determined to put her in handcuffs – and not the pink, fuzzy kind – not that she’d mind. Too bad Kim’s efforts lead to dead ends and even more dead bodies. Kim will need all her skills and a bit of luck to outwit a killer who’d like to put an end to Kim’s meddling permanently.

About Violet:

Violet Ingram is a wife, mother, and author. She and her husband have been married for over 24 years and they have 5 children.

Violet’s love of books was the direct result of having spent Saturday mornings going to libraries with her mom. Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Encyclopedia Brown were the first books she fell in love with.

Death by High Heels releases with Secret Cravings Publishing on July 28, 2014.

Violet is busy at work on her next book.

Contact Violet:  http://violetingram.blogspot.com/

 

Krysten Lindsay Hager’s Path to Publication Story

Today fellow Astraea Press author, Krysten Lindsay Hager, is sharing her Path to Publication Story.

Without further ado, here’s Krysten…

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twiI’m really excited that Christi Corbett is having me here to discuss my “Path to Publication.”

I started making up stories as a little kid and my mom always brings up how I “won” my first writing contest in the first grade. It was a “Name the Teddy Bear” contest that was open from kindergarten through the eighth grade and somehow my essay won. I still remember I started the piece with, “We should name the bear Taffy because he’s sweet like candy.” I know, take a moment to bask in that brilliance, right? But I won a little stuffed clown for that and my love of writing grew.

I wrote stories all through grade school, but it was my fifth grade teacher who told my parents that she thought I’d become an author. Mrs. Bostwick continued to tell me about writing contests even after I finished the fifth grade. My character in True Colors, Landry, has her teacher, Mrs. Kharazzi, enter one of her stories into a writing contest and I was thinking about my experience when I wrote that.

When I enrolled in the University of Michigan-Flint, I was lucky to have great professors that were very encouraging of my writing. I took extra literature classes even after I had fulfilled my English degree requirements because I learned so much about writing from studying the authors. I was nervous to take my first creative writing class and be critiqued each week in front of the class, but it helped me so much. One of my creative writing buddies, David, passed away a few years ago. He was a great supporter to me. He would always share my columns with people and encourage me when I was stuck on a story we were working on in class. Being around people who were as passionate about writing helped me a lot.

I started writing for the university’s newspaper and the editor, Keith, let us write a test column and I almost passed out when mine was published. After that, I started writing columns regularly for the paper and I enjoyed that. It also prepared me for public response to my writing as well.

I had always started novels, but had issues finishing them. Taking writing courses in college helped, but it was when I went on to do an independent writing course that I finally finished a book. That is the hurdle a lot of writers have trouble with—finishing. After that I began working on a YA/MG book idea that eventually became True Colors.

I took the first chapter to a conference and had a professional critique of it. Then, I got a request to see the whole story, so I began working on the book. I ended up rewriting it and changed a few major parts of it over time. It was a challenge balancing writing and submitting with everyday life and I learned my experience in journalism was key in helping me deal with rejection. You have to have a very thick skin to be in this business and it’s hard to get so close time after time and still be waiting.

I actually stopped submitting the story  for a long time because I was doing more journalism work and then I moved twice—once overseas. When I finally moved back to the U.S. I was working on another project and I happened to go to a book signing in town with a football player, Tim Green. I was just there as a football fan, but I mentioned I wrote and he asked if I wrote middle grade/YA, too. I thought, you know it has been a long time since I sent True Colors out, so I submitted it to three places and it got picked up.

I really don’t think the book would have come to be had it not been for all the experience I got from college (and grad school) lit courses and the many critique groups I’ve been in over the years. You can never learn enough about literature or this business.

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TrueColors453X680Book Blurb:

Every day I walked down the sidewalk to school and wished I were one of the interesting popular girls who ran up with exciting news. Just once I’d like to be one of those girls instead of the being the one who didn’t get invited to things because people “forgot” about me.

Landry Albright gets pushed into trying out for the American Ingénue reality show modeling competition with her two best friends. She doesn’t think she stands a chance, but she advances to the next level in the competition and her friends ignore her when they get cut.

Enter the gorgeous Devon, who also makes the first cut and includes Landry in her clique. Devon becomes the perfect best friend, but can their friendship survive the competition?

Landry hopes her big break could come at any moment, but soon sees there’s much more to modeling than getting your hair done and looking pretty. She begins missing out on being with new friends like Ashanti, a girl who truly has Landry’s back. Landry also has the chance to have a boyfriend when she meets a boy named Vladi from another school.

Part of Landry wants to be famous (and have her hair look good for once), but part of her just wants to be accepted. She learns about friendships, being true to yourself, and that a good hair conditioner doesn’t hurt.

Buy Links:

Amazon                  Barnesandnoble                 Amazon UK

Smashwords          Itunes                                 Kobo

About Krysten:

Krysten Lindsay Hager is an author and book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and also writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. TRUE COLORS is her bestselling debut novel from Astraea Press. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows.

Connect with Krysten:

Website: http://www.krystenlindsay.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KrystenLindsayHagerAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KrystenLindsay

Instagram: http://instagram.com/krystenlindsay

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22444090-true-colors

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96jxcUH54hU

Amazon author profile: http://www.amazon.com/Krysten-Lindsay-Hager/e/B00L2JC9P2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1