Archive for May, 2014

Conclave Cover Ebook Hi-Res

Four science fiction and fantasy novellas for young adults.

At Conclave Manor, land-trapped Mermaid Thala Tellurian struggles to accept her privileged life while battling her self-obsessed Uncle in any petty way she can. Isolated and forbidden to delve into her family’s bloody past, Thala longs for change. So, when visitors from a rival pod reveal a hidden agenda, Thala dives straight in. But it’s not until she’s face to face with her family’s lifelong enemy that she realises she’s in terrifyingly unfamiliar waters.

Rowan knew nothing about the secret in his DNA until he found himself on the Terrean team bound for Conclave Seven, the universal Games held every millennia. But on the eve of the Games, knowing he’s a direct descendant of the warrior Spartacus is looking less like a gift and more like a death sentence…

Born into captivity, Doze has spent his life behind the Fence, so when staying there is no longer an option, he takes a chance to see if another life is possible. An experiment on the loose from ConClave Corporation, Doze helps his travelling companions to avoid capture, and discovers that there is no sacrifice too great for freedom.

On the Conclave Pacifica, a spaceship in a fleet heading to a new world, Peach forges an online friendship with Araxi, who is travelling on another ship. But, wildly off course and under pressure for resources, the future of the Conclave Pacifica looks uncertain. Could Peach’s new friend be the answer to her survival?

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Writing undersea worlds – channel your inner Mermaid

Want to write an undersea story that submerges your readers in a Mermaidian world? Or perhaps you’re an Ariel-wannabe who can’t wait to create the next epic marine adventure?

Either way, dive into your story with confidence using these 5 top techniques for channelling your inner Mermaid:

  1. Know your underwater characters

If you can’t visualise your characters, then how will your readers? Put your comfy pants on, you’re about to be glued to your seat for some serious research time! Think fish. Think deep sea mystery. Search through pictures of marine creatures, watch documentaries about underwater life, mine the likes of Flickr, Instagram and Pinterest for #mermaids and more. The better your understanding of what your character looks like, moves like, how she breathes, eats, communicates and lives, the better your internal image will be and the clearer your written descriptions of her behaviour.

  1. Discover the world she lives in

Immerse yourself in underwater scenes. Building on your understanding of your character, try to get a fix on what it’s like to live beneath the waves. If you can, dust off the scuba diving equipment or mask and snorkel and revisit the exquisite feeling of actually being there. Otherwise, visit an aquarium, watch videos, talk to people who’ve spent time working under the sea (marine biologists, ichthyologists etc) and get a feel for how the underwater world behaves. Use your senses. What does it smell like, can you taste it? What do you hear under the water? How do you see and communicate? How would the pressure of all that water affect something as simple as body language – a nod, a wave, shaking your head?

  1. Explore her motivation

We’re all aware of the ‘Hollywood’ mermaid stereotypes, from sucrose long haired beauties to toothy underwater witches. So your job is to come up with something unique. One way to beat the stereotype is to provide your Mermaid with a strong motivation, one the reader will relate to. What does your character need? What is she prepared to do to get it? How will this change her? For example, if your Mermaid needs to find her long lost Mother, how far is she prepared to travel? Who will she betray to get the information she needs? What aspects of her upbringing and which members of her family is she willing to abandon to get her Mother back?

  1. Activate your character

A lethargic, unmotivated, aimless character does not a good mermaid story make. Ensure your mermaid is active in pursuing her needs. If she starts sounding or looking like a purposeless bottom-dweller, who isn’t interested in moving from her comfortable sandy status quo, it’s unlikely the story can move forward. Strong motivations and real needs should drive your character to make active decisions, not wait for solutions to come her way.

  1. Keep it ‘real’

Bring your mermaid to life with relevant dialogue that’s right for her. There’s no need to keep referring to the way bubbles pour out of her mouth when she talks, establish this (or some other form of undersea communication) once, then let the reader be swept away by engaging dialogue that gives meaning to her situation. But keep it real, any language references need to reflect the world she lives in. For example, you probably wouldn’t use the phrase ‘What on earth are you talking about?’ when your character lives under the sea.

Jan Goldie is the co-author of Conclave, a collection of science fiction and fantasy novellas for young adult readers. Her story ‘A Mer-tale’ is the first in the collection and you can read a free excerpt from it by downloading a sample from Amazon or Smashwords. Find out more about Jan by connecting with her on twitter @shellbewrite or liking her facebook page


Author Bios:

Jan Goldie. I’m a working writer, creating content for websites, print media and social media. I have a BA in English literature and a Graduate Diploma in Journalism. Interestingly, I used very few of these skills in the creation of A Mer-tale, relying instead on my over-active imagination. When I’m not slaving over the computer for my day job or imagining myself 30 metres beneath the waves, I’m writing short stories, picture books and YA fantasy novels. My most recent claims to fame are the publication of a story in the crowd-funded collection of short horror fiction Baby Teeth: Bite-sized Tales of Terror, and my YA fantasy novel Brave’s Journey being short listed for the 2014 Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award.

Piper Mejia is a prolific writer, but only recently had her first story, Lockdown, published in Baby Teeth: Bite-sized tales of Terror. A high school English teacher, she is co-editor of student writing collections Write Off Line 2012, 2013, Beyond This Age and Beyond This Story, and is currently working on a young adult fantasy trilogy in both novel and graphic novel formats.

Celine Murray is 19 years old and has had her fiction published in magazines such as WriteOn, Easy Going, and Breeze, and in the horror anthology Baby Teeth: Bite-sized Tales of Terror. She has also published a solo collection of prize winning fiction entitled Seven to Seventeen.

Lee Murray used to be a scientist, but now she writes fiction for adults and children. Lee has twice won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for science fiction and fantasy writing, most notably for Best Youth Novel for her children’s title Battle of the Birds, and her short fiction has achieved international recognition. She is the co-editor of five collected works.



Cover ~ Dream On

Love is dangerous for Emily, even in her dreams.

Seventeen-year-old dreamwalker, Em, might have to choose—leave her mother forever in the dreamworld or save the life of hot, rebel Gabe.

Emily Dal Monte and her mother, Lily, are special. They’re humans with a glitch in their genetic code that allows them to explore the fantastic, and often terrifying, world of their dreams for as long as they choose to remain asleep. But when Em’s father is killed in a tragic accident and her distraught mother loses herself more and more in the dreams of her crumbling mind, Em is forced to support the two of them the only way she knows how, by writing down her mother’s amazing dreams and selling them as books. Enter Gabriel Sobel, the handsome punk newcomer at Em’s high school who realizes Em is the daughter of his favorite, reclusive author. Gabe can’t figure out why Em keeps brushing him off and makes it his mission to find out what’s really going at the Dal Monte household. He stumbles upon their shocking family secret just as Lily takes a turn for the worse. It’s up to Em, Gabe, and one very nosy book editor to hop from one

extraordinary dream to the next to find Lily and convince her to wake up before she loses her mind…and before Em loses her first chance at love.


Tiny shafts of sunlight stream down from the treetops above us, forming small rings that illuminate the red pine-covered ground below. It’s weird how quiet it is here. There are none of the sounds you’d normally associate with a forest, like the scurrying tread of small animals or the soft breeze rustling through the trees. Everything is completely still.

I rest my forehead against the warm bark of the tree and try to calm my racing thoughts. How do I get us out of this mess? Mom and Evan aren’t here with Gabe and me. At least, as far as I can tell, they aren’t here, and we don’t have any time to find them. Evan and Gabe need to wake up now, or they could die. It’s so simple, yet so complicated. Do I save Gabe’s life? Or do I continue to risk killing him and try to save everyone? If I pull Gabe out, I could risk losing both Mom and Evan inside this dream. I have no idea if Mom’s recognition of me was a moment’s clarity, or something more lasting. I might never be able to locate her and Evan again.

A sob rises in my throat. I can’t help it. I’m so tired and overwhelmed, and we’re all so deeply in trouble. Despite my best efforts, the sob escapes, and then I can’t seem to stop another one from bursting out of my mouth. And then another one. Huge, wrenching cries tear through me, and I double over, my face in my hands, as the tears stream through my fingertips.

It’s all just too much.

I hear Gabe come to stand beside me, and before I can protest, he draws me back into his arms. I can’t seem to stop crying. I’m so embarrassed, but I just can’t stop.

His rough fingers catch the bottom of my chin, and slowly he tilts my face up toward his, so we’re gazing into each other’s eyes. My breath hitches, and it’s not just from all the crying.

“I’m sorry, Em,” Gabe whispers, his soft words loud in the silence surrounding us. “But there’s no one I’d rather be with right now than you.”


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Guest Post

Five Words to describe “Dream On”

  1. Fantastical – Em and her mother Lily are dreamwalkers, people with a glitch in their DNA who have the power to control their dreams and stay asleep for as long as they desire. Em, Lily, Gabe, and Evan (the main characters in the story) spend a good deal of their time hopping from one fantastical dream to the next. They explore worlds that are completely white, with ghost-filled castles and curious owls, desert marketplaces run by monsters, rooms that explode into swarms of bees, deep caves made entirely of diamonds and abandoned tunnels with giant snakes. Some of the dreams are fantasies and some are nightmares…now all they have to do is figure a way out!
  1. Fragile – To the rest of the world, Emily Dal Monte appears to be a strong teenage girl. After all, she’s had to take care of herself and half-insane mother since she was twelve years old. It isn’t until Gabe comes into Em’s life, and discovers that she’s a dreamwalker, that Em begins to realize how hurt and angry she really is. Gabe helps Em to let her guard down and begin to repair her relationship with her even more fragile mother, Lily. But will Lily find the strength to put herself back together and save them all?
  1. Passion – Em and Gabe start out having a tempestuous relationship. He invades her privacy and learns her closely guarded secret and she can’t stand how arrogant he is—and how much his good looks make her go all fluttery inside. But as a serious of dangerous events unfold; Em and Gabe discover a fiery love that only death has the power to quench.
  1. Terror – A nightmare is something most of us of try to forget, but for Em, nightmares are a way of life. Sure, she can control how long she stays in the dreamworld, but she must first complete whatever dream she’s in so that she can leave. So if Em falls asleep and finds herself face-to-face with her dead father and a mother who’s trying to drown her, she must suffer through every terrifying second until it’s time to wake up.
  1. Vibrant – The dreamworld enhances a person’s senses. Food tastes richer, smells are more intoxicating, colors are so bright that they sometimes hurt your eyes. Dreams can be so sharply beautiful you almost want to stay in them forever, but what if their vibrancy made you forget about your life out in the real world?

About the Author


M. KIRCHER graduated with a B.A. in Fine Arts from Gordon College. She devours YA, science fiction, fantasy, and romance on a regular basis and is immensely happy to pour her time and energy into creating stories for other people to enjoy. Bob Ross and J.R.R. Tolkien tie for her two favorite people of all time.

M. Kircher lives in Connecticut with her husband, energetic son, and new baby girl.

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Dream On Banner

a single swim
Kristina Circelli has written a non-fiction book called A Single Swim.  This 24,000 word novella is based on the true events of her cousin Courtney:

On August 13th, 2011, sixteen-year-old Courtney Nash passed away after contracting Naegleria fowleri, a brain-eating amoeba that lurks in warm waters. This is her story. 

A Single Swim follows Courtney’s life and death, while taking a closer look into an amoebic infection very few people ever hear about – until it’s too late. Tracing as far back as 1960s, Naegleria fowleri and the resulting infection of this parasite have taken more than a dozen lives, with a fatality rate of nearly 100%. 

Through an examination of Courtney’s case along with stories of other victims across the United States, A Single Swim offers a glimpse into our waters’ rare silent killer. From ecology to symptoms, hospital care to awareness, find out what can happen … after a single swim.
Kristina has spent time with other families who have lost loved ones to the same parasite.  They gave permission to use their stories and images.
A percntage of the profits from the book sales will be donated back to the Courtney Nash Amoeba Awareness Foundation.

Through an examination of Courtney’s case along with stories of other victims across the United States, A Single Swim offers a glimpse into our waters’ rare silent killer. From ecology to symptoms, hospital care to awareness, find out what can happen … after a single swim.

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a single

unlucky 13

Lindsey Boxer and her partner Rich Conklin are called to investigate two dead bodies in a car accident on the Golden Gate Bridge. It quickly becomes obvious this was a homicide and the coroner, Clare Washburn, quickly confirms this and finds the cause of death – belly bombs. The hunt to find out how they were ingested by the victims is on and is shocking.

Meanwhile Lindsey receives a photo of the-one-that-got-away, Mackie Morales, the girlfriend of a serial killer who blames Lindsey for his death. After she lets it slip during a girls’ night out, her friend Cindy sets out to track Mackie down for an exclusive story, but Mackie has already begun her murderous rampage to San Francisco and Lindsey. During this, Yuki is on her honeymoon on a cruise ship in Alaska, which is taken over by pirates.

I was new to this series but quickly picked it up. There was a lot of action but the endings felt unfinished and rushed; the belly bomb case ended abruptly and the cruise ship hijacking was never explained, it just ……. ended. I really would have liked to learn more; like who they were; what the exit strategy was; who controlled them. An ok read but not enough detail given.


Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

Set Me Free Cover

Lucy Tate has spent the last 5 years on the run. That is, until she met Zach, the one guy she couldn’t bear to leave even though it could cost both of them their lives.

Hunted by a crooked FBI agent who killed her parents, L has taken on one disguise after the next. But Zach knows exactly who she is and in spite of mounting evidence indicating her guilt in her parents’ death, he knows she’s innocent.

Convinced that it’s time to put her years on the run behind her, Zach and Lucy vow to fight back, clear her name, and take down the real killer.

With support from Zach’s loyal friends and his uncle, an investigative reporter, they set out on a dangerous mission hoping that the truth…will set them free.

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About the Author

ilovelucy uthor

Melissa Pearl was born in Auckland, New Zealand, but has spent much of her life abroad, living in countries such as Jordan, Cyprus and Pakistan… not to mention a nine month road trip around North America with her husband. “Best. Year. Ever!!” She now lives in China with her husband and two sons. She is a trained elementary teacher, but writing is her passion. Since becoming a full time mother she has had the opportunity to pursue this dream and her debut novel hit the internet in November 2011. Since then she has continued to produce a steady stream of books. Recently she signed with Evatopia Press and her first Evatopia book is coming out in February 2014 – True Colors, The Masks Series #1. She is very excited to be trying out new things this year while continuing to publish under her own name as well. She has six books planned for 2014 and is excited about writing each and every one of them.

“I am passionate about writing. It stirs a fire in my soul that I never knew I had. I want to be the best writer I can possibly be and transport my readers into another world where they can laugh, cry and fall in love.”

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the queen of the tearling

Raised in an isolated cottage by foster parents, Kelsea is the future Queen of Tearling. Hidden from enemies to her throne, the Queen’s Guard come for her on her 19th birthday to escort her to her city to be crowned. A lot of people want her dead and she is pursued by assassins on the journey, causing the Guard to split up so their trails are divided and harder to pursue. Kelsea then is kidnapped by a masked group who may or may not kill her. Striking a deal with the leader, Fetch, she makes her way to the city.

Tearling is poor, its people starving while the aristocracy grow richer, and they live with the threat of the neighbouring country , Mortmense, and its tyrant–ruler, The Red Queen. Tearling has to provide tribute to Mortmense to  stop it invading it again and Kelsea, horrified when she finds out what the tribute is, has to decide whether to do the right thing or turn a blind eye for   the sake of her country.

The world building is interesting, you think it’s a medieval setting then a mention of modern technology is dropped in and you gradually realise its set in the future after an apocalypse and these people had left to build a new land. Having all the drs and nurses travelling in one ship, which sunk during the Crossing, seems really stupid though.

The characters engage your sympathies and are likeable, except The Red Queen and bad guys like Thorne, and as with Javel, you see why good men do bad things. Kelsea grows up quickly and has to make some hard choices, but does what she feels is right. I was puzzled why the elite Queen’s Guard, being hunted by assassins, would build a huge fire in the woods and get drunk though.

There was a lot of exciting action, and a mystery about the magical necklace that guides Kelsea. I look forward to finding out more about its powers and why it has a twin. I want to learn who The Red Queen is an see if my theories about the identity of Kelsea’s father and who Fetch really is are correct. I was captivated with this book from page one and eagerly awaiting the rest of the trilogy. A great debut novel from an author who is now on my must-read list.

The film rights have been optioned by Warner Bros. Emma Watson will star and the producer worked on the Harry Potter films. Not sure if the beautiful Emma Watson can pull off playing the plain Kelsea though.

Bantam Press

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

blod rose Cover (2) (1)

“Margie Orford has nailed it…wonderfully crafted and fully engrossing.” – Michael Connelly

Walvis Bay is a depressed and isolated port on the edge of the Namib Desert. Corrupt and claustrophobic, its shifting population is made of transients and vagabonds-people with no future and no past. When it seems a methodical serial killer may be working undetected in this pit of darkness and desperation, police profiler Dr. Clare Hart is brought in to investigate. With her personal life in shambles, Clare is initially happy for the distraction, until it becomes clear that her own life – and the lives of others – are at stake.

This enthralling procedural is perfect for fans of Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs.

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More about the book

The gruesome murder of a homeless teenage boy suggests a methodical serial killer is at work in Walvis Bay, a depressed port, isolated in the vast sweep of the Namib Desert. It is a corrupt, claustrophobic place with a shifting population of people who came here only because they had to. Sent to profile the possible killer is police profiler and investigative journalist Dr Clare Hart. Working with Tamar Damases, the woman who heads up the town’s Murder Unit, Clare is glad for the distraction. Until a few days ago, her budding relationship with Captain Riedwaan Faizal seemed to be going very well indeed – but she knows she is not the only woman in his life – As the two women trace older crimes that may be related to the recent killings, they soon realise that nothing is as it seems. And as Riedwaan comes to join Clare, to help with the investigation and to try to salvage their relationship, it soon becomes clear that it is more than just their feelings that is in danger. In fact their lives – and the lives of others – are now at stake.

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About the Author

Margie Orford Author Pic

MARGIE ORFORD is an award-winning journalist who has been dubbed the Queen of South African Crime Fiction. Her novels have been translated into nine languages. She was born in London and grew up in Namibia. A Fulbright Scholar, she was educated in South Africa and the United States. She is Executive Vice-President of South African PEN, the patron of Rape Crisis and of the children’s book charity, the Little Hands Trust. She lives in Cape Town. The entire Clare Hart series is forthcoming from Witness.

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