Runaway Train by Lee Matthew Goldberg
Publication date: April 29th 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
They told me I was an out-of-control train about to crash…
Everything changed when the police officer knocked on the door to tell me – a 16-year-old – that my older sister Kristen had died of a brain aneurysm. Cue the start of my parents neglecting me and my whole life spiraling out of control.
I decided now was the perfect time to skip town. It’s the early 90’s, Kurt Cobain runs the grunge music scene and I just experienced some serious trauma. What’s a girl supposed to do? I didn’t want to end up like Kristen, so I grabbed my bucket list, turned up my mixtape of the greatest 90’s hits and fled L.A.. The goal was to end up at Kurt Cobain’s house in Seattle, but I never could have guessed what would happen along the way.
At turns heartbreaking, inspiring, and laugh out loud funny, Runaway Train is a wild journey of a bygone era and a portrait of a one-of-a-kind teenage girl trying to find herself again the only way she knows how.
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What Inspired Me to Write My Book? Lee Matthew Goldberg
RUNAWAY TRAIN is the first Young Adult novel I’ve written. I’ve published five other novels including THE MENTOR and THE ANCESTOR that have all been thrillers, so writing Young Adult would be going out of my comfort zone. But I never want to be bored with this career. I want to challenge myself. Because I was a teenager in the 90s, I felt more comfortable writing about a teenager from that era, instead of right now. I wanted to remove cell phones, and the internet, and social media from the book and capture a time that has been forgotten.
I was into grunge music when I was a teenager so I came up with the idea of sixteen-year-old girl who runs away from home to become a singer. Because Nirvana was big at the time, it made sense for her to be a big Kurt Cobain fan and ultimately want to meet him on her journey. The book begins with her sister dying, and I was going through my father dying when I wrote it, so the novel became a way to deal with that death. So, it was a catharsis to write it, since the main character and myself were both dealing with different losses in our lives.
The research for the book was mostly watching a lot of 90s movies and listening to a lot of 90s music. I immersed myself in the era so it became as real as possible on the page. A lot I remembered, but friends were also a big help. Since the book in narrated by a girl, I needed suggestions about fashion and who her crushes would be and just how different it was to be a girl in the 90s rather than a boy. So, the book was very challenging in that way to create, but I feel like I embodied the character really and brought her to life. My publisher liked the book so much that is now will be a three-book series. I’m finishing the second right now and it will be out in Augus
Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels:
THE ANCESTOR, THE MENTOR, THE DESIRE CARD and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the Prix du Polar.
His first YA series RUNAWAY TRAIN is forthcoming in 2021 along with a sci-fi novel ORANGE CITY.
After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in The Millions, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, LitReactor, Monkeybicycle, Fiction Writers Review, Cagibi, Necessary Fiction, the anthology Dirty Boulevard, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. He is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box.
His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Follow him at LeeMatthewGoldberg.com
Author links:Website ~Goodreads ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~
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Black in Time (Synesthesia Shift #2) By Brynn Chapman
YA Historical Urban Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 143 Pages
April 6, 2021 by Burns and Lea Books
Patient Twenty-Nine, or Jane, is within reach of her heart's desire: a home outside of Soothing Hills Asylum, where she has been raised.
Her sister Jules wants to take her in, and a man, Mason, is deeply in love with her and wants to care for her. But before Jane can leave, she must be examined by the Board of Lunacy. Jane is still hearing voices and songs from the cornfield outside the asylum, voices and songs that tell her what she must do, and that no one else can hear. So the Board may not allow her to leave.
But the asylum is becoming more and more dangerous. Its lead alienist, Dr. Frost, has disappeared, there have been frightening sightings of a woman in white, running through the corn at night, and perhaps worst of all: lobotomized women from the asylum are turning up pregnant.
Jane is desperate to get away and go to her new home. Mason and Jules only want to rescue Jane from the asylum.
But there is a complication: for Jane, the voice in the corn calls. And she must obey.
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“Mason,” I whisper, leaning close to his ear. “It is I. Your nefelibata. Won’t you please wake? Return to me.”
I swallow, feeling the sting of tears. “Your cloud walker.” My mind recalls his litany of pet names. “Your little bird... the pulse of your heart.” My throat thickens, the world closing in. “Your courage. I am not so courageous, my love. Please... do not leave me here alone, in this desolate world. Please, I cannot do this alone.”
I hold my breath, waiting. Hoping. But.
I watch my hand rise and fall on his chest. My fingertips emit a strange, stinging ache, and I give them a rough shake, but the feeling persists.
I return my head to his chest, listening to his heartbeat—still much too fast.
Like he has been running.
My own takes flight, trying to match his rhythm as hope flushes my cheeks. Perhaps he does hear me but cannot respond. “Do you hear me? Hear me.”
A CACKLE rips through the still asylum air like a tree struck by lightning.
I bolt upright, my fists balled, head cocked... listening. My palms go damp.
I flinch and cover my ears. The music blasts.
Black music. Notes bold and black. Embedded within, like a strange, harmonic whisper... Where are you? Where are you? in a barely audible, sing-song voice.
Chills explode on my scalp, resulting in a violent shudder.
I half fall from the plinth and struggle to stand on knees made of water as I fumble for my boots.
My grasping fingers find purchase on the leather, and I slip them on. I stand, hesitating, realizing my arms are wrapped protectively about my torso.
The sound narrows, from filling the room to a tight strand. An invisible, auditory ribbon, floating on the night wind.
The voice and music trail before me—I squint, can nearly see them in the air.
Invisible—but perceptible, as if the air has somehow densified. They become thicker to house the twisting, turning melody.
A living, sinuous ribbon of rhythm, notes, and voice.
I turn to Mason, laying my hand upon his shoulder, and believe I feel him shudder. But it comes and goes so quickly—I doubt my fingertips.
“It is she. She has come. She wants me to follow her. I shall return, mo chroi.”
I push the infirmary door wide and swallow down my dread as it clicks closed. Separating us.
Other Books in the Series
The Requiem Red (Synesthesia Shift #1) By Brynn Chapman
YA Historical Urban Fantasy
Hardcover, Paperback & ebook, 300 Pages
February 4, 2019 by Burns and Lea Books
Life for Patient 29 is full of medicated day dreams of a life outside the walls of Soothing Hills Asylum. But fantasies are not all that consume her. A monster roams the halls of the sanitarium she reluctantly calls home and three girls have been found dead. The dead girls share one common thread . . . each was 29's cell mate. As the investigation gets under way, she retreats into her mind, listening to the voices that call to her. She is endowed with the cursed gift of perception. Through it, she hears messages carried upon the notes of music, discerns words hidden among the strokes of paintings, and minds pleadings for help from the corn field outside.
Could the key to the murders lie within 29's broken mind? Mason, an orderly, does not see 29 as a lunatic and as his belief in her grows so does her self-confidence. The possibility of one day leaving the asylum seems less and less like a fantasy. But the monster has other plans for her. Leaving will not be so easy, at least not while she is alive.
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About the Author
Born and raised in western Pennsylvania, Brynn Chapman is the daughter of two teachers. Her writing reflects her passions: science, history and love—not necessarily in that order. In real life, the geek gene runs strong in her family, as does the Asperger’s syndrome. Her writing reflects her experience as a pediatric therapist and her interactions with society’s downtrodden. In fiction, she’s a strong believer in underdogs and happily-ever-afters. She also writes non-fiction and lectures on the subjects of autism and sensory integration and is a medical contributor to online journal The Age of Autism.
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- One winner will receive a $20 Amazon gift card and an audiobook of HERE WALK THE DEAD
- Ten winners will receive a print copy of REQUIEM RED
Ends May 5, 2021
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Reclaiming Ryda (Once Upon a Duchy, #2)
by Rachel Rossano
Publication date: April 20th 2021
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Romance
Synopsis: Rydaria lives as a prisoner in a tower library. Captured as a child, her past is a mystery. Maintaining the literary treasures within her care, she studies the world through books that give her a glimpse of the freedom she craves.
A scribe by trade, Crispin has devoted the last three years of his life seeking the lost heir of Avalene. He travels to Worthenave’s famed library in hopes of finding the key. Instead, he discovers a new mystery, a beautiful librarian who is locked in with her books every night.
As the days pass, Crispin must choose. Rydaria’s precarious situation is deteriorating. Meanwhile, his duty demands he leave before the Duke of Worthenave uncovers his quest. Still, the scribe can’t bring himself to abandon the captive in the library tower, even if it costs him his mission.
Inspired by Rapunzel and East of the Sun West of the Moon
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About the promised half hour later, Pip arrived at the gate. “Hey, Lady of Ink and Paper, is my master about?” He almost tripped over the bucket of dirty water still waiting for dumping. A bit of quick footwork saved me a mess to clear up. Once he was steady on his feet, he lifted his face and grinned at me. “He holing up here?”
“He is above stairs on the second floor,” I explained.
Crispin emerged from the stairwell and cleared his throat. “No, he is following his stomach’s commands to eat. Did they send a decent meal this time?” He flashed the lad a grin. “Welcome, Pip.” Straddling the chair at the end of the table, he pulled his covered tray over and began disassembling the contents beneath the napkin.
Crispin paused and regarded him for a moment. “If you are hungry, just say so.”
“I am not hungry. I have news.”
Crispin simply nodded as he returned to eating his meal. “Then have a seat and spill the news.”
Pip obediently sat, pulling off the felt cap on his head as he did so. “I spoke to that man on the side street about the horses.”
“Twenty. Each.” Pip watched Crispin’s face with the intensity of a cat watching a mousehole.
“Tell him five for both or no deal.”
“But I talked to all the other men selling horses, and they all gave me the same price.”
Crispin set down his knife, leaned back, and eyed Pip. “So, you think I should let this man scam me?” His gaze narrowed. “Why?”
Pip squirmed, wringing the life from his felt hat. “I really like that red one.”
Crispin’s features softened. “He is a handsome horse. But the more important question is, are you willing to give up a couple of months’ worth of meals to have him?”
Pip’s eyes widened. “No.”
“I thought not. I am not a rich man, Pip. There is a limit to my funds. Besides, we won’t want mounts that will attract attention.” Crispin returned to his meal.
“The red one isn’t that flashy,” the lad protested. “I will even refrain from brushing him too often to keep his hide from being too bright.”
Crispin smiled at this. “Very well, tell the man that your master is not pleased that he tried to cheat him. Then inform him we are giving him one more chance before we go to another horse dealer. Two gold is a more than generous price for two creatures of humble origins and limited use. Take it or leave it.”
As Pip mulled this over, I interrupted. “I can’t ride.”
I had done the math. Crispin had come with one horse. I knew he and Pip had spoken of seeing to its care. With an addition of two more to his party and the chance of pursuit increasing, he was trying to buy a horse each for the boy and me.
I explained. “I mean it. I have never even been near a horse. Please don’t buy one on my behalf.”
Crispin continued chewing before pausing to speak. “It doesn’t matter. You and Pip will learn.”
“I already know how,” the lad protested. “I have been practicing every day.”
Crispin leveled a measuring gaze on the boy. “You know how to stay on a horse, which is entirely different from riding one for any length of time.”
I had visions of him putting me on the back of a massive creature and me promptly falling off into the dirt. “What if I can’t even stay on a horse right away?” Panic began to tighten my chest. “I am very clumsy. I fall off ladders all the time, and downstairs, and—”
Crispin reached across the table and stopped my rambling by resting a fingertip on my top lip. Suddenly, I couldn’t focus on anything other than his dark-brown eyes calmly assessing me. An acute awareness of him flooded through me.
“I will take care of you.”
Rachel Rossano specializes in clean romantic fiction set in historical-feeling fantasy worlds. She also dabbles in straightforward historical romance and not-so-strict speculative fiction. A happily married mother of three children, she divides her time between mothering, teaching, and writing. She endeavors to enchant, thrill, entertain, and amuse through her work. A constant student, she seeks to improve her skills and loves to hear from readers.
Author links: Website ~ Facebook ~Pinterest ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads ~
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The Half-Orphan’s HandbookJoan F. Smith
Published by: Imprint/Macmillan
Publication date: April 6th 2021
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Young Adult
For fans of John Green and Emily X.R. Pan, The Half-Orphan’s Handbook by Joan F. Smith is a coming-of-age story and an empathetic, authentic exploration of grief with a sharp sense of humor and a big heart.
It’s been three months since Lila lost her father to suicide. Since then, she’s learned to protect herself from pain by following two unbreakable rules:
1. The only people who can truly hurt you are the ones you love. Therefore, love no one.
2. Stay away from liars. Liars are the worst. But when Lila’s mother sends her to a summer-long grief camp, it’s suddenly harder for Lila to follow these rules. Potential new friends and an unexpected crush threaten to drag her back into life for the first time since her dad’s death.
On top of everything, there’s more about what happened that Lila doesn’t know, and facing the truth about her family will be the hardest part of learning how a broken heart can love again.
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Why Choosing Your Setting is Important
Thank you for the opportunity to guest post!
While characters, plot, and surprise reversals are often most memorable parts of storytelling, one of my not-so-secret favorite elements is setting. Most stories can only take place where the author has chosen to set them, in ways that are societal, allegorical, cultural, and/or mood- or atmosphere-related. For example, the protagonist in Jennifer De Leon’s Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From is caught between two high school settings in present-day Boston; the juxtaposition in these settings plus their influences on her protagonist is expertly portrayed with cultural, racial, and socioeconomic grounding. Many settings help set the mood for a story—an eerie forest, a magical field, an isolated hotel or boarding school.
Using sensory details in setting is a great way to ground readers in space. I often pick one sense to make primary for my characters (such as someone who notices tactile sensations more often than others, or someone who is sensitive to sound), and use it to filter in their voice. In my debut novel, The Half-Orphan’s Handbook, my protagonist Lila goes to a grief camp in Maine. Before I knew what the arc of that novel would be, I read an article about the closure of a sum mer camp created for the children of 9/11 victims. The idea of a camp that was no longer needed (because all the campers had aged out) was striking. I decided to set my character Lila there as a place to heal and learn how to hope again following the loss of her father. I chose Maine as its setting because of its isolation, greenery, and the feeling that it was set apart from Lila’s home state.
When deciding where to set a story, it’s important to ask what your characters need, or what kinds of things could make a place interesting. Do your characters need to go somewhere new to discover something, or do they need to make peace with where they are? What kinds of traditions or customs happen in a particular place? Do you need to research it? Is it where you live or have lived already, where you have traveled, or where you want to go? Is it a place you’ve invented that has been inspired by somewhere? Is it something that we can gather greater meaning from, such as all the districts in the Hunger Games trilogy? Treating setting like a character—whether or not it truly becomes one—is a great way to explore story.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joan F. Smith lives with her family in Massachusetts, where she works as an associate dean, a creative writing professor, and a dance instructor. She received her MFA in creative writing from Emerson College, and has written articles for The Washington Post and Thought Catalog on destigmatizing discussions around mental health and suicide prevention. The Half-Orphan’s Handbook is her debut novel.
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Tour-wide giveaway (INT)
The Away by Cassandra DeJesus
Category: YA Fiction (Ages 13-17), 224
Genre: Young Adult ~ Tour dates: April 12 to Apr 23, 2021
Publisher: Mascot ~ Release date: April 2021
Content Rating: This book is rated PG.
Sonia Peterson can't help but be excited for the bright future ahead as she nears the end of her last year of high school. But she quickly discovers that things are not what they seem in the quiet community of Glendale. After her neighbor's suicide and a slew of disappearances, Sonia's friend Devon divulges one of the town's best-kept secrets: at eighteen, residents are required to receive a serum that takes away their immoral impulses and imperfections, or they are exiled to a place called the Away.
At first, Sonia can't believe what she's heard, but when her turn for the appointment comes, all of her worst fears are confirmed. Now, she must decide who she can trust and discover who is really at the core of the plot to rob Glendale's residents of their elemental human nature. Her journey takes her deep into the heart of the Away in pursuit of freedom for herself, her friends, and her community. Can she unravel the conspiracy before it's too late?
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Meet the Author:
Cassandra DeJesus is a first-time author. The Away came to her in a dream so strongly that she felt she had to write it. Cassandra’s highest education is a high school diploma with some college credits. Cassandra has worked in many different fields but has never found her true calling. It was at Bay Shore High School where she met her high school sweetheart and now husband, John DeJesus. They have two beautiful children together. Today, Cassandra continues to remain a stay-at-home mother for her two children.
connect with the author: website (coming soon!) ~ facebook ~ instagram ~ goodreads
The Reclaimed Kingdom by Dana Claire
Publisher: Chamberlain Publishing House (February 14, 2021) ~
Tour dates: April 9-May 31, 2021
Category: Young Adult, Fantasy/Romance
ISBN: 978-1792361357 ~ Available in Print and ebook, 310 pages
The Legend is true. The Fear is real.
Under the cruel ministrations of its Queen, the Kingdom of D’Land is in peril. With King Harrison away in foreign lands and neighboring Kingdoms unwilling to intervene, there is no one to protect the people from poverty, harsh punishment, and unreasonable rules of law – except for the Band of Brothers. Struggling with the death of her mother and the legendary Syphon powers she inherited, seventeen year old Dru wants nothing more than to escape her old life and join the motley crew of ruffians, pilfering from the rich to feed the poor and pay their taxes.
She’s able to do just that disguised as a lad, and even when her nature is discovered, nothing changes – except for the way her friend Hawkin treats her. But Dru’s new world is overturned when she and the Brothers seize the treasures of a Prince who threatens to reveal her identity. Together, Dru and her chosen family must find a way to reclaim her destiny and bring balance to the Kingdom. If not, there may be no hope left for anyone.
Buy Links: Amazon ~ IndieBound ~
Reclaimed Kingdom by Dana Claire
“Ms. Claire has such a talent for imaginative magic systems. The Syphon in this series has abilities I have not encountered before. The ability to take emotions and how she deals with them are quite intriguing. In this story, Dru makes an interesting heroine with her contrasts of her life as a brigand and thief with her previous life. She is very much a Robin Hood character without falling into the tired tropes that can come with that. The male main characters are so different. Hawkin is intense and unrefined. Dodge is softer and somewhat of a dreamer. They are both fiercely loyal and capable. The progression of their relationships with each other and Dru has made this a fabulous and compelling story.”- Aizlynne, Goodreads
“Well Dana Claire did it again. Another captivating book in her new series that kept me up later than I should because I didn’t want to stop reading. I would tell myself “just one more chapter” before I knew it, I read 3 or 4 more. Dana Claire has a way of bringing her characters to life and the action and suspense adds to the magnetic pull of not wanting to put the book down. Hoping I won’t have to wait too long for the second book of “The Syphon Series” and looking forward to the second book in “The Blood-Light Trilogy”.
I truly enjoy reading these books and submersing myself into the action pack plots with the spice of romance. Thank you Dana Claire for both of your terrific series. Thank you for introducing these characters to me and allowing me to follow their adventures and lives.”-D, Berry, Amazon
“This was such a great book! Dana Claire did a wonderful job developing the characters in this story. The backstory paints such a great visual of the time period and the land where Dru and her Band of Brothers are living. You root for Dru right from the beginning and I looked forward to every twist along the way. I couldn’t wait to finish it. So far, Dana Claire’s books are knocking it out of the park for me…2 for 2!”- Craig Andrews, Amazon
About Dana Claire
Author, Dana Claire, believes that a good story is made through strong character development. When readers become attached to the characters’ emotional state and are invested in their objectives, the readers are there for the long haul backing the characters and their emotions. How cool is it to read a book and think about the characters long after you’ve read the last page? She believes that the beauty of reading is that one can live a hundred lives within the stories of books.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be a vampire, slay a dragon, or use a time machine, there’s a book for that.
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Tour-wide Giveaway for a $50 Amazon Gift Card. Giveaway is open to Canada and the U.S. only and ends on May 28, 2021 at midnight pacific. Entries are accepted via Rafflecopter only.
Unwritten by Alicia J. Novo
Publication date: May 8th 2021 ~ Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Synopsis: Books whisper to Beatrix Alba. But they aren’t the reason she has never fit in. Bullied at home and school, she keeps a secret—a power of violence and darkness.
When the spell that keeps her hidden fails, she’s catapulted into the Zweeshen, a realm where all tales live, and her dream of meeting her favorite characters comes true. But wishes are tricky, and behind its wonder and whimsy, the Zweeshen is under attack. A character is burning bookworlds in pursuit of a weapon to rule both stories and storytellers. To succeed, he needs a riddle in Beatrix’s possession.
Now he’s hunting her down.
Joining forces with William, a cursed conjurer, Beatrix must face an enemy who knows her every weakness in a realm where witches play with time, Egyptian gods roam, and Regency heroines lead covert operations. And with her darkness as the only weapon, she may have to sacrifice everything to save a world that rejects her.
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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Unwritten
Unwritten is a YA fantasy novel set in the Zweeshen, a realm where literary characters live after their stories end.
When I was offered this post, I was delighted. As a fantasy writer, worldbuilding is crucial to any story, so I spent many hours developing the world of Unwritten. Eventually, I had so much material that I organized it in an “encyclopedia” that includes locations and customs and rules and artifacts. I created a mini language for Beatrix’s (the main character’s) mom, and I paid special attention to naming. But a writer doesn’t get to share those thoughts in a book, so I’m thrilled to have the chance to highlight some of the things you might not know—or even get to know if you read Unwritten.
So here they are:
1. When I was offered this post, I was delighted. As a fantasy writer, world-building is crucial to any story, so I spent many hours developing the world of Unwritten.
2. In Unwritten, the Zweeshen is the realm where characters live and interact with each other after their stories end. The word Zweeshen is a close phonetical spelling for Zwischen (pronounced Zzzvishen), which “between” in German. The Zweeshen is the hub for all literary bookworlds, the in-between.
3. There are at least 40 references to specific characters, books, or authors in the Unwritten. Some are mentioned by name, some hinted at, and some hidden in plain sight.
4. A famous literary character speaks using only sentences from her/his book of origin.
5. Prologs are experts appointed by the Genre Guilds who help characters recently arrived in the Zweeshen learn the rules. They’re magically bound to answer any question asked.
6. The chapters in Unwritten are named after people or entities, while the part names are locations.
7. Eventually, I had so much material that I organized it in an “encyclopedia” that includes locations and customs and rules and artifacts. I created a mini language for Beatrix’s (the main character’s) mom, and I paid special attention to naming
8. There are rumored to be 1001 neighborhoods in the capital city of the Zweeshen, Læsting. Of those, one is invisible, and one hovers over the city, constantly changing location.
9. Neither time nor the seasons follow regular patterns in the Zweeshen.
10. In the Zweeshen, the moon is often a different color. It periodically collapses and is reborn in a different hue.
I had so much fun creating this world and playing with its contrasts: the fun and the serious, the dark and the light. I hope Unwritten readers will enjoy the journey as much as I did.
Alicia has a weak spot for happy endings and transformative journeys. She spent her teenage years
in Argentina and Europe, speaks several languages and loves to travel.
An eclectic reader, she grew up on a diet ranging from Lucy M. Montgomery and Jane Austen to Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Raymond Chandler, Hermann Hesse, Jorge Luis Borges, and many classics. She's never been cured of reading a bit of everything and is as likely to geek out about Mr. Darcy as Dr. Who.
She is a history and astronomy aficionado, who walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain, completed her Masters in the Netherlands and worked for Google in Ireland. She decided to become a writer at six but took a full, winding road here. Along the way, she learned if there’s one thing that cuts across cultures, one unifying thread that pulls everyone together, it's a good story.
A big-city girl, she now lives in the Midwest, where she occasionally picks apples and pretends witches exist.
Author links: Website ~ Instagram ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~
WoE Is Us By D.K. Doulos
Christian Dystopian, YA, Sci-Fi ~ Paperback & ebook, 267 Pages
March 30, 2021 by Ambassador International
Lyrian Wallace was only ten years old when the Malevolence struck on October 10, 2056. She thought the next decade had numbed her to the grief, the death, the bots, and the daily struggle for survival. She lost her parents when they became Sleepers, but like everyone else, she had pieced together a new family. Lyrian was almost content when the Alliance began taking them . . .
The world always took things away from her. She could only live for today and never dared to hope for any heaven. But when her circumstances change, Lyrian must choose how she might live for both this life and the next.
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She walked out of the church auditorium and down the hallway into one of the empty rooms. It had once been a classroom for children, as evidenced by the cartoonish posters hung on the walls. As she changed into the black uniform, she studied the images pictured: an old bearded man on a boat with animals, another old bearded man holding two stone tablets, a third man in a cave with lions, and finally a smiling man seated with children gathered around him.
The pictures meant nothing to her. Maybe these men were supposed to be gods? She didn’t know. She had never attended any church as a child. It wasn’t something her family ever talked much about. Her parents were always busy with work, and she had only been ten years old when the Malevolence struck. She remembered her mother had talked to her once about God and heaven when her grandfather died. She remembered her mother’s tears and the tight hugs from that day. Her mother didn’t usually have time for hugs like that. When she was younger, she had imagined that heaven was like those hugs, but forever.
Now she brushed those thoughts aside as simply the whimsical musings of a young child. She had cried many tears of her own since then, weeping helplessly for days after the Malevolence struck, consigned to watch her parents die as Sleepers. She had no hugs to comfort those tears, and so many painful, lonely days had followed. Long ago, she realized that this world was nowhere near any heaven.
Why Dystopias Need Jesus
Over the years, I’ve read and watched many dystopian books and movies. Most, if not all, of these stories take place in a broken future version of our own Earth. Sometimes, as in the Divergent series, the setting is explicitly described as someplace we recognize (Chicago). In other instances, like Hunger Games, the world is obscured, but still familiar enough to feel it’s a devolution of our own society (Panem). The entire dystopian genre is built upon a world that’s bleak and dark. As a Christian, I began to ask myself: Where is Jesus in these stories?
Let’s be honest. We hardly live in a utopia today, and Jesus is important to a billion people on the planet. The likelihood that all of these Christians and their descendants abandoning the faith is negligible. In fact, people often turn to God even more in difficult times. A dystopian future that lacks Jesus is simply unrealistic to me.
When I set out to write my own dystopian novel, WoE Is Us, I wanted to make Christianity a prominent aspect for some of the characters and story. Sure, not everyone would care about Jesus. Even characters the readers like might be of an ambiguous faith identity. But I wanted to write a story where Jesus still mattered to people because I’m confident that will be the case. Christian readers should be able to find encouragement and comfort that, no matter how dark or bleak the future might get, Jesus will be with us “always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b NASB). That’s a dystopia I can believe in.
About the Author
D.K. Doulos has written stories most of his life and is thankful he can use his talent in service to God. When he's not writing, he enjoys going camping, impersonating a grill master, and watching college football. Between epic cross-country family road trips, he lives in Texas with his wife and four children. Find out more about D.K. on his website (www.dkdoulos.com).
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Ends April 21, 2021
COMING TO THEATERS MAY 7
New Major Motion Picture, MISSION STORIES, Launches Ambitious New Media Franchise!
Message from the Director:
When I initially approached Mission Stories I thought I may not be the best choice to direct because I did not serve a mission. However, as I developed these stories I recognized how much missionary work has touched my life. In fact, in one of these stories a character is based on me. Through this experience I’ve learned just how powerful love, faith, and forgiveness are and that redemption is available to all of us no matter the circumstances of our lives. Everyone has a story to tell and I believe in the power of sharing stories. I hope that audiences will be touched by the themes of mercy and redemption in these stories.
- Bryce Clark
Salt Lake City – Excel Entertainment announced today the creation of a new media franchise, MISSION STORIES, focused entirely on telling stories of missionaries for The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints. The franchise launches with the theatrical release of MISSION STORIES, a moving retelling of three true stories of missionary work. The theatrical trailer for the film debuts on Wednesday, April 7 at missionstories.com and the feature film opens exclusively in theaters on Friday, May 7 distributed jointly with Purdie Distriution.
Assembled as an anthology of three stories told over four chapters, the project was created by the filmmaking team of Bryce Clark (writer, producer, director), Jason Allred (producer), Crystal Myler (writer) and Arthur Van Wagenen (executive producer) after meeting with a full room of former mission presidents and their companions. “We heard so many incredible stories -- story after story of events that cannot be simply coincidences,” explained Bryce Clark. “Every story shows that God has his hand in the work and people’s lives are being transformed and saved through this work.”
“People assume they know what a “mission story” depicted on the big screen will be like,” said Arthur Van Wagenen. “Our goal in this film and the entire MISSION STORIES franchise is to tell stories from not just the perspective of missionaries, but from the perspective of people who make the radical choice to become disciples of Jesus Christ.”
The film tells three true stories, including “Hermanos” that focuses on a father overcoming a crisis of faith so that he can baptize his family. “Chuck” tells the story of a man questioning whether God truly loves him and learning to see himself as God does. Finally, “Full Circle” is told in the opening and closing chapters of the film, and shows that the power of faith applied over years or even decades can ultimately bear fruit in overcoming spiritual issues as serious as depression and addiction.
“’Full Circle’ is an especially personal story for me because a character is based on me and the culmination of this story played out as we were developing this project,” explained Clark. “When people watch the film they’ll see when people struggle the Lord never gives up on them, and how the faith of others can help rescue them. I hope sharing this story may inspire others who are facing similar challenges.”
“The MISSION STORIES film is only the first step in creating a full Mission Stories brand and media franchise,” said Van Wagenen. “We are creating an avenue where people can submit their own mission stories which can be shared with the world to help increase people’s faith and sense of worth.”
Going forward, Mission Stories will become an incubator for up-and-coming writers and directors who will continue to tell these important stories for years to come.”
For more information and to see the film’s trailer, visit missionstories.com
# # #
Presented by Covenant Communications
Havoc (Haven #2) by Mary Lindsey
Tour Date: April 5-9, 2021
Publication Date: April 5, 2021
Publisher: Entangled Teen
For the first time in his life, Rain Ryland belongs. He’s found a home with the wolf shifters of New Wurzburg and is no-holds-barred in love with Friederike Burkhart, their soon-to-be alpha. But the ascension to power is never easy for a new alpha, and challengers will come from an unlikely source—and bring into jeopardy not just Freddie’s position as alpha but her blooming relationship with Rain. Rain has never shied away from a challenge—or a fight. And he’s ready to fight like hell for the woman he loves. But then a vision shows him that the biggest challenge of all to Freddie isn’t to her alpha status but against her life...and he’s the one who delivers the killing blow.
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OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES:
We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.
Rain Ryland has never belonged anywhere, He’s used to people judging him for his rough background, his intimidating size, and now, his orphan status. He’s always been on the outside, looking in, and he’s fine with that. Until he moves to New Wurzburg and meets Friederike Burkhart.
Freddie isn’t like normal teen girls, though. And someone wants her dead for it. Freddie warns he’d better stay far away if he wants to stay alive, but Rain’s never been good at running from trouble. For the first time, Rain has something worth fighting for, worth living for. Worth dying for.
ABOUT the AUTHOR:
Mary Lindsey is a multi award-winning, RITA® nominated author of romance for adults and teens. She lives on an island in the middle of a river. Seriously, she does. When not writing, she wrangles her rowdy pack of three teens, two Cairn Terriers, and one husband. Inexplicably, her favorite animal is the giant anteater and at one point, she had over 200 "pet" Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. The roaches are a long story involving three science-crazed kids and a soft spot for rescue animals. The good news is, the "pet" roaches found a home... somewhere else.
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