Thursday, November 15, 2012

Guest Post: Riley Gray!

A dear friend of mine who helps critique the "English/British" aspects of my books, recently surprised me by saying she'd decided to self-publish one of her YA novels.  I haven't even had a chance to read it yet! I'm definitely going to, and I hope you will too.  I've read other works by Riley, and love her style.  I'm thrilled to see the awesome reviews LACED IN MALICE is already receiving. 


Why I chose to write LACED IN MALICE.
Do you know how much I wish I'd gone to boarding school when I was younger? Okay, do you know how much I wish I'd gone to HOGWARTS when I was younger? The creepy grounds and cold, but comfortable interior and the friends you make your family. I wanted it all. Alas, I had a simple and normal childhood with public schools and living at home and family meals.
Didn't mean I couldn't write about it, though!! That's what I wanted; to have that boarding school feeling. To have everything seem so much worse than it is because where most people could go home after school and get away from it, when you live at school, there is no getting away. It becomes everything you think about. Everything you do. Your peers are your family and if they hate you, then you have a problem.
I wanted to write something a little maturer too. For the mature reader who enjoyed reading YA. There are some sexual scenes in the book that stop just on the cusp of being explicit. But they are there. And so is the warning. The characters in Laced in Malice, go through a rollercoaster ride of emotions, and call me sick, but it was great fun writing it.
People have asked me why Zara was so naive and gulliable in the book. Why she believed her friends even though all the evidence was pointing towards a different answer. Well, think back to when you were in school. You're the new one. The one who is outcast right from the start. And somehow you manage to fall in with the popular crowd. You want to stay at the top, and that means letting go of your logic sometimes and ignoring the glaring warning signs. Zara isn't brave, or noble or perfect. And she will learn a good few lessons throughout the book.
But isn't that the point in growing up?
I really enjoyed writing this book. Describing the building and really delving into the evil that comes in the form of your peers. I hope you all enjoy reading it too.

Behind the creepy castle like exterior of Birchtree academy is the sound of gossip, back stabbing and malice. When Zara’s dad takes on the new principle job at the elite boarding school, Zara knows she’ll be an outsider. She dreams of true love and marriage instead of possible frenemies and secrets. Definitely not Birchtree material.

In the cusp of everything are the twins. Oliver and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Nixon are renowned for their different – yet equally effective – methods of torture. And both have their eyes set on goody, goody Zara. Oliver wants to date her and Lizzie wants to befriend her?

At first, Zara is caught in the Nixons spell, but it’s not long until cracks begin to show through their dazzling fa├žade. An anonymous email account, which targets students with their own secrets, has focused its energy on Zara using weapons only the Nixon’s could have provided. But have they turned on her? Is there a hidden agenda behind Lizzie’s interest in Zara? It’ll take four months, three warnings, two released sex tapes, and one dead body for Zara to                 finally learn the truth. And the truth can either destroy the boy she’s fallen for – and his twin sister – 
or save them both.

Add Laced in Malice to your Goodreads Shelf.
Buy Laced in Malice from Amazon.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sweet Evil Audiobook: Interview with Narrator

The SWEET EVIL audiobook is now available!  My copy is on its way, and I can't wait to hear it.  I adore the voice actress who narrated it, Erin Mallon.  We found each other right away when the process began, and we've kept in touch.  Erin won me over immediately when she began asking for my input about pronunciations and dialects. Her enthusiasm was catchy.  We decided to do an interview for release day so everyone could learn a bit about her, the narration process, and her thoughts on SWEET EVIL.  I'm so impressed by her, personally and professionally.

~ Hi Erin! Tell us a little about yourself and your career path.

I am a theater and voice actor working in NYC.  I work primarily on new plays and love being part of their development.  I am in awe of great writing, so to be able to work closely with playwrights and fantastic authors (such as YOU) and bring their stories to life, whether onstage or in the booth, is a real gift.  I love writers so much that I started a monthly new play-generating project called The Brooklyn Generator, where we gather 6 playwrights and 12 actors once a month to create and perform new plays in less than 2 days.  

~ Have you narrated any other audiobooks?

Yes indeed!  YA fiction is by far my favorite genre to narrate.  YA allows you to swim around in stories where characters are experiencing some of life’s big emotions and obstacles for the first time, which is such fun for an actor to revisit and explore.  Romance novels are also a ridiculously enjoyable experience.  Right now I’m narrating a 4-book romance series following the lives and loves of four angsty cowboy brothers on a ranch in Texas. 

~ What was it like being the voice of Anna?

I love this girl!  As someone who grew up rather religious and with an abundance of “good girl” qualities, I can relate to her in about a million ways.  It was a delicate balance capturing Anna’s voice.  When narrating accented characters, especially central characters, I find that less is usually more.  You have to keep in mind that someone will be listening to you talk for 12 hours in some instances, so if you go too far with the dialect the listener’s ears can tire of it quickly.  In Anna’s case, you helped me tremendously when you said “ I keep thinking Reese Witherspoon in ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ but softer.”

~ Did you have difficulty with any scenes or character voices?

You put a lot of accents in this story, my friend!  Lemme see… we touched on a variety of British and American Southern dialects, French, German, Italian, Australian, Malawian, the tried-and-true California “surfer guy” accent, and… have I missed any?  In all seriousness, this is the kind of challenge I really dig though!  Part of the magic of narrating audiobooks is you get to play as all sorts of characters that no casting director in their right mind would ever cast you in onstage.  For example, would I ever be considered to play a young man from Africa with a soft Malawian accent?  How about an imprisoned, gruff, raspy-voiced demon guy?  Probably not.  Speaking of gruff, raspy-voiced demons, Anna’s father was described as exactly that.  I had a blast voicing him, and yet I had to be conscious to not to go overboard and stress out my throat.  Male characters of the gruff variety can be harsh on the ‘ol vocal cords if one’s not careful.   

~ Which was your favorite character?

Is Kaidan too obvious an answer?  I mean who doesn’t love Kaidan? I also found myself very drawn to Kopano.  I found that the sharp contrast between how Kaidan and Kopano operate in the world felt so real and juicy.  It made a world of sense to me that (potential spoiler alert!) Anna would feel a pull in both their directions. 

As I was reading the book for the first time (I like to give books two solid reads before stepping into the booth), I was reminded of what a friend told me when she was reading a series she really loved.  “Ohmygod Erin,” she said. “It’s so good that when you’re not reading it, you’re wondering what the characters are up to!”  I’m not embarrassed to say I felt the same way with Sweet Evil.  You’ve created vibrant, fully fleshed-out people (each of whom have such a distinct way of expressing themselves) that my job felt incredibly easy!  Sometimes as a narrator you find yourself working hard to create character voices to ensure the listener can follow easily. But in the best possible scenarios, you can relax and trust that the writing will make the choices for you.  And when the characters start talking through you?  Oh man, that’s when the process becomes a real thrill - for the narrator for sure, and most importantly (we always hope) for the listener. 

Thank you so much for stopping by, Erin!  :-)

Purchase the Sweet Evil audiobook on Audible!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cover Reveal: WICKED FATE

Since I started this writing journey three years ago, I've met so many wonderful, talented people in different stages of the publication process. The author I'm featuring today is someone I met while on inkpop. I'm thrilled to introduce you to Tabatha Vargo and her book, Wicked Fate


Tabatha has been writing since she could pick up a pencil. Her first publication was a little poem in her elementary school paper, from that point on she was hooked. When she was a teenager, she traded in her girly magazines for personalized writing notebooks.

At nineteen, she met her own personal prince charming and writing took a back burner for a while. She is now married to that prince and the mother of a beautiful Six year old princess/rock star. Once her daughter was born, writing came back into her life, and she finished her very first novel in May of 2009.

She is pursuing a Bachelors in English and hopes to one day teach while continuing to write.

As a stay-at-home mom and full-time student, Tabatha enjoys the freedom of spending a good bit of her days doing what she loves the most…writing.


What if you lived in fear of yourself?

For Mage McPherson being afraid of herself is just the norm. Thanks to that fear, being a loner in a small town never bothered the mysterious Mage. Once she received her secret abilities, she figured being alone was the safest way to be. That all changes during her sophomore year at Summerville High when Adam, her equally mysterious secret crush, starts to notice her.

Afraid that she might harm Adam, Mage must learn to either control or deny herself. With Adam by her side she's more powerful than she’s ever been, but is she powerful enough to defeat her worst nightmare? She learns a hard lesson about love and magic when her destiny comes to collect.

I haven't had a chance to read this yet, but I read some of Tabby's other work on inkpop and she's a fab writer!  I wish her the best of luck, and I hope you'll check her out!  Here are some ways:

Find Tabatha on Twitter.  
Find Tabatha on Facebook.
Follow Tabatha's Blog at
Add Wicked Fate on Goodreads (and enter the giveaway for her book on there!)

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