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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Karen King Returns With a New Magical Book

Two days until Halloween/Samhain! 
What better way to celebrate than with Witch Angel, The Sceptre of Truth
a new book for middle grade readers by Karen King.

Karen King has had over one hundred and twenty children’s books published by mainstream publishers such as Walker, Scholastic, Harper Collins and Macmillan. She’s written for many children's magazines too including Sindy, Barbie, Winnie the Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine. She writes for all ages and in all genres; story books, picture books, plays, joke books, non-fiction and YA.

So nice to have you back on my blog, Karen! 
How did you get started writing?
I've always written. I had my first poem published when I was 11. I started my writing career with Jackie magazine, writing articles and photo stories.

Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?
It depends whether I'm writing to a commission or not. If I'm commissioned I have to plot as I have to send a synopsis and the first couple of chapters to my editor. If I'm not writing to a commission I work out the basic outline of my story then write 'by the seat of my pants.'

Are you most productive in the morning or evening?
Morning. Often I get out of bed and start writing straight away. I'm full of ideas in the morning.

Connect with Karen King
Twitter: @karen_king

Should Aluna betray her father to save the world?

Aluna’s father is the Master Wizard of the Katalan. On her thirteenth birthday she is initiated into the coven and swears allegiance to her clan. Then she has a vision about the mother she has never known and a gold sceptre with an eagle’s head handle.

She discovers that the mysterious new girl, Raffie, who appeared out of nowhere is looking for the same sceptre. Aluna hopes the sceptre will lead her to her mother so swears an oath of friendship with Raffie, pledging to find it together only to discover that Raffie is Angleyt. They are sworn enemies.

Aluna’s father is looking for the sceptre too, as are the evil Bygnorim.  Will Aluna really betray her father? What dreadful secret is he hiding about her mother? Aluna and Raffie face terrible danger in their quest. Are their combined powers strong enough or will Darke Magyck win?

Something caught her eye. A sphere of brilliant light was shooting down through the sky. She stared at it, butterflies of excitement fluttering in her stomach. It must be a shooting star. She could make a wish. Jumbled thoughts of the things she could wish for raced across her mind, but only one stood out. It always did. “I wish I could find my mother,” she whispered.

The glowing star continued plunging, plummeting down towards the bushes just ahead of her. It wasn’t a shooting star. It was a falling star! Aluna ran towards the bushes, eager to get a glimpse of this wonder. What would a star look like? Would she be able to take it back and show the others?

The star disappeared behind the bushes. Panting now, Aluna raced towards it, her feet barely touching the ground beneath her. Thankfully, she had always been nimble-footed. Many a time she had crept softly behind Sariah, the housekeeper, and had made her almost jump out of her skin. Once, Sariah had been so shocked she’d dropped the pie she’d just taken out of the oven. 

Be quick but quiet, she told herself as she ran. Could you scare a star?

She was at the bush. She could still see the light glowing behind it, so bright it dazzled her. Using her hands to shield her eyes from the glow she peered around the bush.

The light was fading. Aluna moved her hands from her eyes so she could see better and pushed her hood back. Where was the star? The light flickered, then a shape started to form in it. She watched, transfixed as the shape turned into a girl about Aluna’s age, slim with long hair tumbling over her shoulders. The girl stretched up her arms as if embracing the heavens. Aluna let out a gasp of astonishment and the girl spun around, her eyes widening with shock as they rested on Aluna.
For a moment they both stared at each other. The star girl’s eyes locked with Aluna’s, and a lightness filled her mind. It was as if the girl could read her mind, her soul. In a panic, Aluna tore her eyes away, grabbed her basket and fled, muttering the protection spell under her breath.

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Ghosts on My Mind

Ghosts are often on my mind, not just around Halloween and Samhain. So it is no wonder ghosts appear throughout the Teen Wytche Saga. One of my favorites, Bayou, a teen Louisiana ghost from the seventies, pops up in Spell For Sophia:

"Well, look who is here." The ghost bugged her eyes at Yemaya. "Gal, I thought I'd seen the last of y'all." She scanned our faces, latched onto me last, and waved.

Without thinking, I waved back.

"Oh, great," Yemaya muttered under her breath.

The ghost said to Yemaya, "Far out! One of your friends can see me." She gave me a head-to-toe appraisal. "I like your threads."

"Um, thanks."

"What's going on?" Salem demanded.

"She's not my friend," Yemaya said. "I just met her."

"You two okay?" Evie asked.

"Fine," Yemaya and I said in unison.

"Jinx!" The ghost smiled, revealing teeth in need of braces. The word hurtled me back to a sleepover with Sophia and a memorable zombie movie.

While Bayou inserts some levity into the story, other ghosts in the novel reflect the Big Easy's painful past:

1920 painting of Marie Laveau (1794–1881) by Frank Schneider, 
based on an 1835 painting (now lost?) by George Catlin.
Dawn broke, casting a soft glow. The street now teemed with ghosts. Two Creole women dressed in wide-tiered gowns swished past. A monk hurried to the church. A yellow fever victim slumped against the side of a building and vomited what looked like coffee grounds. I swallowed hard and gave him a wide berth, flying while I stared.

Too late I sensed another presence and swiveled my head. I came eye to yellow eye with a trio of yellow fever victims. Blood streamed from their eyes, noses, and mouths. Unable to stop, I passed through them. Heebie jeebies! Heebie jeebies! The hysteria I had staved off in the Void unleashed. Shrieking, I batted at my face, certain their blood, their germs, their death clung to my auric field.

New Orleans is one of the three most haunted cities in the United States. In a way, every day is Halloween in the Big Easy.
Copyright 2015 Ariella Moon

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

New Adults, New Halloween Traditions

Updating a Halloween Tradition  

Maintaining family traditions can be a challenge as children grow up, move away, and form new families of their own. Young adults may make an effort to return home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and/or Kwanzaa, but Halloween? Not so much.

When my daughter was in elementary school, an October highlight was the annual trip to a working farm in Brentwood, California. We breathed in dust during the jostling mile-long hayride to the pumpkin fields. Then the treasure hunt commenced—the race to find just the right pumpkin out of a seemingly endless sea of orange. Afterward, we sipped apple cider under a brilliant blue sky before tackling a cornstalk maze.

Flash forward sixteen years.

My daughter lives with her boyfriend in a congested urban jungle. Not a pumpkin patch or corn maze in sight. But Brilliant Beautiful Daughter discovered a new type of pumpkin patch, one that combined our mutual love of art, philanthropy, and shopping. Instead of a farm, we visited the Glass Pumpkin Patch at Santana Row in San Jose.

Glass Pumpkins

The Glass Pumpkin Patch is the brainchild of the non-profit Bay Area Glass Institute. Money raised from the event helps cover the Institute’s operating costs so it can continue to offer affordable workspace for glass blowers, and offer classes to the public.

The weekend event attracted young families, twenty-something tech workers and college students, seniors, and art lovers of all ages.

Glass Pumpkins at Santana Row, San Jose

After browsing the artful pumpkins created by nine local artists, we sat outdoors and listened to live music while feasting on delicious cupcakes from nearby Kara’s Cupcakes.

If, and when, grandchildren come along, we will head back to the farm. In the meantime, I can’t think of a better way to update a great Halloween tradition than a visit to the Glass Pumpkin Patch.
Carrot Cake Cupcake from Kara's Cupcakes

Copyright 2015 Ariella Moon

Monday, October 12, 2015

Second Chance at Love

Rachel Jones is back with a new contemporary romance!


 A touchdown for the coach when the music teacher accepts his love

From childhood, Virginia Manning has planned for a career as a concert clarinetist. Blindsided by family circumstances, her plans are interrupted, taking her down a path she would never have chosen. As a music teacher, Virginia’s relationship with the football coach goes from problematic to romantic. After Blake’s brush with death, a scared Virginia runs away looking for the contentment music has always brought to her life.
Because Blake Oliver has experienced disappointment and pain, he opts for a fresh start in a small New England town. Accepting the position of football coach, he isn’t looking for love when it finds him. But when Virginia leaves to pursue a performance career, Blake realizes it’s not where you live but having someone to love that matters. His only problem is making her understand that as well.

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She pulled her arms across her chest in an attempt to calm her shivering. Bright lights reflected from her rearview mirror, the only headlights she had seen since she had stopped on the side of the ride. Releasing a sigh of relief, she waited for flashing blue lights to interrupt the blackness surrounding the car. No blue lights. Her heart began racing at hearing a car door slam. She was alone, on a deserted highway. Checking the locks on her doors, she thought about driving away, but how far could she go with a flat tire?
A tap on the passenger window made her jump. “Hey.”
The dark night made it impossible to see the face outside the passenger window. Fear made it impossible to move.
“Come on, Gin. It’s wet out here.”
No one else called her Gin. She hit the automatic button releasing the lock and Blake pulled the door open. Relief flooded her body and was replaced by anger.         
“Blake — you nearly scared me to death.”
“Not the best time for a flat tire. You’re soaked.”
“You’re not so very dry yourself.”
“Where are you headed?”
“I was on my way home. I had an early dinner with my family before they left for the weekend. Staying to play my piano wasn’t a bad idea — I just got caught up in my music.” She loved how her music could take her away from everything, but the downside was eventually she had to come back to reality. “Anyway, I was going through my options when you drove up.”
“Your spare is lying in the mud.”
“I was going to try changing it, but when the lightning started, I chickened out.”
“Well, you can’t drive all the way to Boston soaked to the skin. And I really don’t want to change a tire in this downpour.”
“So what do you suggest I do?”
“Let me take you back to your sister’s house. You can stay the night and deal with the tire in the morning.”
Virginia didn’t respond, didn’t want this moment to end. He was here, beside her and the intensity of how much she had missed him came crashing down upon her like tumultuous waves hitting a jagged rock wall along the seashore.
She looked up. “That sounds good.”
As he leaned over and pulled the keys from the ignition, it took all Virginia’s willpower to keep from pulling him close.
It was thoughts of what she would do after retirement from a twenty-eight-year career in healthcare that spurred Rachel to begin writing her first manuscript in March of 2012. Needing guidance and support with her new endeavor, she joined local and national writing groups.
Rachel signed her first contract in 2013 and her debut novel, To Dance One More Day was released in June of 2014. She is eagerly awaiting retirement to write full time.
A music enthusiast for decades, Rachel resides in Kennesaw, Georgia with her husband of thirty-seven years and a spoiled Labrador retriever. She is a member of Georgia Writers Association, Georgia Romance Writers and is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America.