Sunday, January 24, 2016

My very first Young Adult Fantasy story!

I'm very happy to announce that my very first YA Fantasy story has been released!!

I'm also very nervous. This is the first time I went out on a limb and wrote this kind of book. Thanks to my niece, Dusti Miller, she helped me turn this story into one that readers of all ages will love. (grins)



I thought I'd tease you with the prologue. ENJOY!


PROLOGUE
Salem, Massachusetts 1720

Jasper King dashed across the field, ducked under the wooden gate, and ran as fast as his fourteen-year-old legs would carry him. Fear of the unknown spread through him like wildfire. With each step, his buckled shoes slipped on the damp grass and he struggled to stay upright. Afraid he might drop the black, leather-bound book, he clutched it tighter and hurried toward the house as though the devil himself was on his heels.
As he came closer to the two-story A-framed house, tears stung his eyes. Ma’s laundry hung on the clothesline, and the aroma of baked bread and freshly churned butter filled the air. When he reached home, he would feel safe and secure. He hoped. But then he must find a way to get his brother back and destroy the book—Satan’s own tool—once and for all.
Jasper’s mind reeled with fear. How had he allowed this to happen? As he sped past the well, his toe caught a stone. He stumbled and flailed to the ground. The book flew from his hands and bounced open in front of him. Sharp rocks bit into his knees and palms and he cried out. The pages, like wicked eyes, pierced his soul. Panic grew inside him, overshadowing the pain of his wounds.
Jasper scooted away from the book. He dared not touch it for fear its vileness would sink into his skin like venom from a snakebite.
“Let me be,” he shouted at the book. “You will not take me!”
Above him, thick, dark clouds gathered in the sky, and the air turned chilly. The wind whipped violently around him, tearing at his clothes and hair. Jasper’s heart sank in despair. He knew what was coming. He swallowed hard and clenched his fists. Not matter what, he couldn’t allow the book to weave its magic spell around him as it had David.
Only a short time ago, he’d watched helplessly as the book had taken his brother. Taken him! David’s screams still echoed in Jasper’s head. He covered his ears, closed his eyes, and prayed the memory would quickly disappear.
There was only one logical explanation. Jasper’s grandmother had been hung for witchcraft, and although the family believed she’d been judged wrongly, Jasper now had a different opinion. Obviously, the book held some kind of power. Had his grandmother truly practiced witchcraft and cast a spell on its pages?
A high pitched whistle emanated from the book. In the distance David’s voice called out to him.
“David? Where are you?” Jasper cried.
“Please…help…me…” Each word of David’s plea grew softer until it silenced completely.
Tears spilled down Jasper’s face. He wiped the back of his cuffed sleeve across his cheeks as helplessness expanded in his chest. What would he tell his ma and pa? He was certain they would never believe what happened. Even now, Jasper wondered if he was dreaming. But he’d watched how the pictures on the pages shifted and grew…
He shivered. Nay, this was not a dream. Something evil had settled inside the book and was after him, even after snatching his brother.
A white mist swirled from the pages, rising up like smoke from a chimney. Within seconds, the mist had transformed into hands…their beastly claws reaching toward him.
Jasper cried out. He scrambled to stand, but slipped and slammed to his knees once again. Perhaps he would meet his brother’s fate after all. Who would tell his family what happened to them? Who would destroy the vile book so it never devoured another soul?
Warm tears slid down his cheeks. He blinked them back and looked toward the house. He saw his ma running through the tall grass toward him. She called out, but the bitter wind kept her words from reaching his ears.
The white mist thickened around him. Jasper’s body froze, as did his mind.

Perhaps this was a dream after all…


Click to purchase on Amazon


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Astounding Review!

I absolutely love it when I stumble upon a review of one of my stories on the internet. After reading this review, I knew I had to share it. I'm grinning so wide right now and bursting with pride. Yeah, go figure, right?  Thanks so much to Eva Lucia for this FIVE STAR awesome review and for making my day brighter!



Title: “Haunting Secrets” – author: Marie Higgins – pages: 232 (Kindle Edition) – published: 2014
”Victoria Fawson desperately needs answers about her father’s death. When she visits the Maitland Manor to discover those answers, she finds only secrets…haunting secrets that leave her wondering who she can trust. Should she trust her feelings for the one man who hides from the world—the man who might put her in danger?
Justin Maitland hasn’t been human for over a year. He knows things about his family—things that could destroy Victoria. The only way to help her is to send her back home without learning anything. Yet, how can he let her go when he’s given her his heart?”
Where to begin?Do you know the feeling when you open a book, read the first pages and quickly realize that the book will haunt you, both awake and asleep, of wanting to know more about its characters and its plot?
This is feeling that I felt while reading “Haunted Secrets”. It is one of the best books that I have read for a very long time. I didn’t know of the author, Marie Higgins, but luckily, I downloaded it as a coincidence as a Kindle version and started reading one sleepless night. Once I started to read, I was intrigued from the beginning and I really didn’t want to finish it, so I forced myself to take breaks once in a while and put it away – just to save it for a bit longer.
I have always been extremely fascinated and intrigued when an author mixes historical and socio-cultural facts with fiction, and that’s what Marie Higgins achieves. The story is set in mid-1900th Century in Cornwall, England; a time when high status and marriage were some of the most important factors. The story is filled with family traditions, relations, secrets and intrigues. I love the idea of old myths and traditions influencing the plot and the characters of it. The story was well-written and the clear descriptions of the characters made it so easy to get under their skin.
The main character, Victoria Fawson, comes to Maitland Manor to solve the riddle about her father’s death and along the way, you learn more and more about the Maitland family and what they really are capable of. “Haunting Secrets” is a mix of Victorian history, romance, fantasy and there’s a riddle to solve.
Already from the beginning, when Victoria comes to Maitland Manor, you know as a reader that there are things left untold and when Victoria walks around in the big house with the many corridors, it’s easy to get the feeling that you are there yourself – and this is because to Marie Higgins’ interesting visual writing.
“Northanger Abbey”-vibe
While reading the book, I got a feeling of mystery and gothic elements. The atmosphere of the book was brilliant and I can easily imagine myself walking around in Maitland Manor, opening every closet to find secrets left behind. It is never possible to compare literature, but personally, I thought a bit of “Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen while reading this. Especially concerning the gothic elements, but also the fact that the female heroine wishes to be independent and only marry for love, not social status. I have always liked when authors have shown women as independent and strong, like Jane Austen, even though it would have been criticized during the time it was written.
Another thing that intrigued me was the classic love story; the theme of star-crossed lovers (known from Shakespeare), but it indeed works in this story. But I will not reveal everything about the story because as a reader it was fantastic to slowly sink deep into the world of Maitland Manor, and everyone should have that experience with this book.
My opinion on the book:
As told earlier, it is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I was lucky that I found this book because I felt that with the use of different genres, it was made for me. Of course, it is very subjective depending what people like, but as for me, it was definitely a great book and hopefully I will get the chance to purchase it for my book shelf one day (sadly, it can only be bought as an Ebook right now). Marie Higgins is a very talented author and I’m so happy that I by accident found her book. Now I can’t imagine the fact of never reading it!
This book truly haunted me and in the end, it finally revealed its secrets to me…
I will look forward to reading more of Marie Higgins’ works because she has a certain way of intriguing and inviting the reader into her magical and literary universe.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I'm Dreaming of a ROMANCE Christmas...

I can hear Bing Crosby singing White Christmas now...except I'm dreaming of a ROMANCE Christmas. Hey, what can I say? I love watching those cheesy Christmas romances movies on Netflix or other TV stations. 

So that got me to thinking - what about my Christmas stories? (And why can't I find someone to turn my stories into movies???) Do my readers know how many Christmas romance stories I have?

For one week only (Dec 8th - Dec 15th), all of my Christmas stories will be priced at 99 cents!!!!!

Here is my Christmas story list:



Katelyn Palmer never believed any harm could come from using her college crush as the hero in her first romance novel—the novel that jumpstarted her writing career.  However, when Shane Hunter storms into town, demanding to meet the writer who used his identity Katelyn is confronted with more than her long, silent emotions.  If Shane takes her to court for invasion of privacy, her career would be over.

Shane doesn’t know how to act when his ex sister-in-law accuses him of having an affair while he was married—and then shows him the romance book as proof.  Now he wants to know who this author really is and why she used his name, and most of the events in his life for her story.  Desperate to know the truth Shane befriends Katelyn but he does not expect to be attracted to her, even more unexpected is the joy he finds watching his twins fall in love with the woman who is stealing his heart, too...

Buy Kindle for 99 cents regular price $1.99
Buy Paperback for only $10.79
Buy Audiobook for FREE (leave me a comment and ask me for the free code!)



Dorothy Paxton is not pleased when a handsome Englishman walks into her inn and announces he's taking her to England to reunite her with the grandfather who turned his back on her years ago. Her escort, Calvin Seton, bribes her by paying her brother's doctor's bills, and soon she's on the ship sailing for London. Little by little, Calvin's charm softens her heart. While her lady's companion teaches her to become a lady, Dorothy is secretly wondering if the price of love is worth it. Especially when she knows Calvin will walk out of her life as soon as they reach England.


Can she afford the cost of love?

Buy Kindle for 99 cents!
Buy Paperback for only $7.85!


In a desperate attempt to keep a man from her past who was wanted by the police from noticing her, Kelsey Manning makes a good-looking stranger an offer. She’ll pay Rick Jarmin if he pretends to know her. That mere request lead into a dangerous kiss . . . An unforgettable kiss through following the bad guy and putting their lives in danger.

Buy Kindle for 99 cents!


Unwilling to let another man control her life, Dr. Jordan Reed hires Brock Hamill to portray her new love interest to satisfy her nagging stepmother. Part of the bargain is that the new man convinces her ex-boyfriend that Jordan has happily moved on. Unfortunately, it’s hard to prove when Brock blames Jordan for his sister’s suicide and embarks on a mission to destroy her psychiatric credibility. Acting the part of a patient, his mission is deterred by the doctor’s sweetness and giving heart, and when he discovers her life is in jeopardy, he’s willing to reveal his true identity to save her. Will Jordan forgive his deceit when she learns the truth?

Buy Kindle for 99 cents
Buy Paperback for only $8.49

Charlene Randall's neighbor is all wrong for her. Rich and handsome, Damien Giovanni's love 'em and leave 'em lifestyle isn't a fit for her. Charley wants it all—the love, the romance, the white picket fence, and someday children. When the new Channel Nine Anchorman shows up at her station, Charley sets her sights on her old high school crush, Maxwell Harrington. Of course, he doesn't remember her, but thanks to the Internet, Charley is armed and ready to make him her boyfriend—an easy no-fail method "Ten Ways to Win your Man". 
Damien knows Max plays fast and loose, and Damien refuses to let Charley's heart be broken again. He offers to help her—to be her own fairy godmother. He does this to get closer to her and win her heart. He's never been one who wanted to marry and have a family, but with Charley he'll consider settling down and becoming a family man.
But which man will Charley want? It's easy to lose track of who's wrong or right.

Buy Kindle for 99 cents, regular price $2.99



Andrew Merrick was whisked from his home in England, 1848 to another time, the very day a mob had attacked his family. Wondering why he remains in this strange place, all he wants is to find the treasure his father had hidden, hoping this might take Andrew back home. But he’s running out of time. When he meets a lovely woman in this new century, he feels she is the one who will help him.


Halle Chapman has come to England to find her missing father. What she finds instead is a nice man who claims he’s from the past. Although she doesn’t believe in time-travel, deep in her heart, she knows she must help Andrew. What she finds instead is that discovering the key to her future lies in the past. Now, to return to her own time, she needs to solve the mystery surrounding Andrew Merrick and his family’s murder.

Buy Kindle for 99 cents, regular price $2.99
Buy Paperback for only $10.92



When a man flees danger to protect himself in a mountain hideaway, will he be able to protect his heart from the woman he discovers in the back seat of his Jeep? Looking for someone who really understands her, she dares give her heart and trust to a stranger.

Justin Monroe's future father-in-law wants him dead. Running for his life, Justin escapes his wedding rehearsal and head for the hills. A December snowstorm and a stowaway are the last things he needs.


When Brooke Cavanaugh wakes in the back seat of the wrong car, she is confronted with more than a blizzard. Although leery of men, Justin captures her interest ... and her heart. It must have been the mistletoe.

Buy Kindle for 99 cents!
Buy Paperback for only $6.95


Humility is a hard emotion to swallow, but Jace Corbett must relook at his faults if he wants to keep from freezing his what's-it off. Literally. In the middle of the Colorado mountains at a family lodge, his date kicks him out of the cabin. The lady in the next cabin is his angel of mercy and rescues him...in more ways than one.
Buy Kindle for 99 cents!!


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Interview with audio narrator Paula Slade

I'm very excited to interview the narrator for my book "Waiting for You". I was thoroughly delighted in the way she played my characters in the story. And I'm very happy she agreed to do this interview!

REVIEW on Audible.com
Overall
Performance
Story
"Lovely Story!"
I have both the ebook and paperback copy for this story...the audiobook copy just made it complete. A 
lovely paranormal story! Beautifully written and narrated. Will definitely be re-listening! :)

Listen to a sample of the audiobook - click here




Me:
Briefly tell me about yourself. What makes Paula Slade tick?
Paula:
My family, my friends, a house full of pets, and the day-to-day pleasure of enjoying a life filled with creative possibilities!

Me:
What made you want to become a narrator?
Paula:
Audiobook narration has been a natural evolution for me. Most of my working life has been involved in the entertainment industry. Before beginning my career on radio, I majored in music at the American Conservatory in Chicago, studying voice and opera performance. Over the years, I’ve done everything from on-camera television and film, to theatre, plus behind the microphone, recording voice-overs for commercials and industrial training modules.  I was also fortunate to be able to create programming (writing/producing/directing) for radio/crossover television. And, along the way there were reporting stints for newspapers, magazines and online sites. Seeing the burgeoning audiobook market take hold in the last few years was the impetus

Me:
I'm so impressed with your credentials! Do you always enjoy narrating stories? Was there ever a time you became frustrated with this career?
Paula:
For the most part I love it!  I get to exercise my acting and storytelling skills, plus learn something new almost every day.  The only frustrating part is finding the right book, that is well written and is a good fit as far as marketability and personal interests. 

Me:
I think it would be hard to narrate a book that wasn't well written. I'm very happy you agreed to do mine! So tell me of a fun experience you had narrating a story.
Paula:
Actually, it was when we were recording your wonderful book “Waiting for You.”  I love ghost stories, and I also love comedy. (Some of my theatrical training was at Second City in Chicago, and I don’t often have much of a chance to use comedic timing.) Your character “Vanessa” was so much fun to interpret! Her comedic interludes interspersed with a beautifully moving love story made it fun.  Also, there was one scene in particular (possible spoiler here) where Nick is embracing Abigail (who is a ghost), and a policeman comes along and knocks on their car window to find out what he’s doing.  I laughed so hard and had so many retakes on that scene, but it was fun, fun, fun!

Me:
I'm thrilled that you enjoyed the humor in my story!! And I'm glad you laughed at that part. When a reader climbs into my characters shoes, they need to know how they are feeling, and I'm glad you did.
How do you create such compelling voices? What goes through your mind when you’re recording different characters?
Paula:
Before I begin recording, I do a total read-through, and along the way I find myself getting in sync with the author’s style, character development, and intent of sub text in the dialogue.  Once the reading process is done, I have a full mental image of each of the characters as well as the storyteller.  When it comes time to say, or act out a line, I envision (in my mind’s eye) myself as the character or the storyteller.  This is quite a fascinating process, as sometimes it takes several days to shed different personas.  (Last year, I had to come up with the voice for a talking Chihuahua in Jeff T. Bauer’s “Sadie Sapiens,” and I still anthropomorphize one of our dogs.) 

Me:
I would imagine doing this very thing, too! When you narrated, “Waiting for You”, there was a special trick you did in the story when my hero was on the phone. Can you explain how you did that?
Paula:
Ah, we thought it would be fun to try something new for “Waiting for You.” We loved the first comedic scene so much we were looking for something unexpected that would draw the listener in even further.  Our company’s senior engineer and all around techie, Barry Gillogly (who is also my husband) came up with the idea of using an FFT filter with customized settings.  It worked out so well that we’ve employed a similar technique in later books and the authors seem to love it!  It was a fun creative choice that worked. 

Me:
I feel so privileged that you tried this on my story first. It was amazing!
Do you have a website where other writers can find you if they want to hire you as their narrator?
Paula:
Yes, through our company, Artistic Media Associates, Inc. in the greater Boston area and online at www.artisticmediaassociates.com. , Or, through my personal website Paula Slade: Audiobooks at www.paulaslade.com , which has links to all my social media sites. Well, this has been so much fun Marie. Thank you so much! 


Me:
Paula, thank you so much for the interview. I feel as though I know you better now. I hope you'll consider recording another one of my stories in the future. I would be one lucky author if you agreed.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Interview with audiobook narrator, Stevie Zimmerman

I thought it might be fun to get to know the awesome narrators of my audiobooks. So today, I've intereviewed Stevie Zimmerman who narrated "Falling in Love Again".

1st review for audiobook:

"Romance par excellence"
All the elements of a complete romance. Pirates, spies, highwaymen, period detail. Fantastic.
The narration Stevie Zimmerman delivers is amazing. All the characters come to like - even the hero who is TWO people. Sexy and fun and enticing performance.



Me:
Briefly tell me about yourself. What makes Stevie Zimmerman tick?

Stevie:
Other than family (two almost grown kids and an almost grown husband) my first love is the theatre. I wanted to be an actor but didn’t have ‘it’, so I tried directing and loved it. That’s where I feel most at home. I direct whenever I’m asked pretty much, and have had some real successes in the DC area. I’m from England originally but have been living here for almost 23 years. Both my children were born here. But I must admit, my heart is still in England and I get back whenever I can, although I try to travel as widely as possible and have a bucket list of places way longer than I have years left to live.  My other great love is our perfect puppy Charlie who is reminding me it is past supper o’clock so I better get a move on!



Me:
Well, that's probably why you've done such a great job with the British accents in this story - you're from England!  So, what made you want to become a narrator?

Stevie:
I guess it is a bit of a return to acting in a way. A few years ago someone suggested that my British English accent might have a niche in the voiceover world and I started doing some local commercials. That developed into a little business doing some longer narrations for companies, e-learning and such. And then I thought I’d see if I could get into the audiobook world. The ebook self publishing boom has been a boon for narrators too as there are so many more books on the market.

Me:
I agree with you on the self-publishing boom. There are a lot of ebooks now. Do you always enjoy narrating stories? Was there ever a time when you became frustrated with this career?
Stevie:
I do really enjoy it, even when the book itself isn’t one I might pick up and read myself. I love finding different voices for different characters, and even though most of the books I have voiced have been period romances of one sort or another, it is always fascinating the way different authors develop the characters and spin the tales out.


Me: 
You are really good at what you do!  Tell me of a fun experience you had narrating a story.

Stevie:
Well, one of my earliest books was not quite as ‘romantic’ as I had thought when I took it on. It was rather more risqué than lovey dovey. I found myself a little shocked, and also shocked that I was shocked -  I’m not a prude! I ended up putting it out under a different name, not because I was embarrassed to have done it but I didn’t want it to damage any of my ‘cleaner’ authors’ sales by association.  But of all the books I’ve done, that’s the one my husband likes to tell people about!


Me:
That's funny about your husband! How do you create such compelling voices? What goes through your mind when you’re recording different characters?

Stevie:
Well, firstly – thank you! I try to have a picture in my mind, usually helped by the authors’ descriptions. And I try to imagine them on the stage, if I were directing. I don’t read the books ahead of time, so I have to hope that I’m not going to give them a voice that turns out to be inappropriate later. I did have a situation recently when an author didn’t give me any notes going into the narration and it wasn’t until the fourth chapter that she mentioned that the main male character was Australian, so I had to go back and get that accent in there. But generally, I don’t want to know if someone is going to turn out to be the bad guy, and give that away in my voice too early. I want to go on the same journey as the listeners.


Me:
That's a good way to do it, I think. Do you have a website where other writers can find you if they want to hire you as their narrator?

Stevie:
I do. Although I’ve been so busy narrating recently that I haven’t got it up to date. Which is a nice problem to have. You’re not on there yet for example.
Anyway it is:
http://steviezim.wix.com/stevie-zim-voice


Me: 
I really hope you get my book on there soon, though (winks), but I'm happy to know you are kept busy. You are very good at what you do, and I'm glad this has been successful for you!

Thanks so much letting me interview you, Stevie.  I know I told you this before, but "Falling in Love Again" is one of my personal favorites, and it was awesome listening to your voice make my characters come to life!