Thursday, November 21, 2013

Write Smart For Kids

Adam Sear is a full-time primary school teacher and part-time writer. He is currently working on a sci-fi series for 8-11 year-olds. He lives in Northamptonshire, England with his wife, two kids and a cat called Monty.

Write Smart For Kids

We have all done it: walked around the local book shop or library perusing the children’s fiction, wondering how in blazes some of this stuff made it to publication.

Or maybe it’s just me.

I write for kids, I have two children of my own and I teach 9 and 10 year-olds, so I care about what youngsters read. Sometimes I glance across the tables at reading time in my classroom, and try to work out what made a child choose a particular book. Humour, excitement, escapism, information – we all read for different reasons at different times, and - of course -there is nothing wrong with that. There are some absolutely cracking books for children out there, and kids have a bigger and better choice of reading matter than ever before.

However, there are two kinds of book that make me roll my eyes – maybe even despair a little bit. The first are those that seem determined to talk down to kids, to reinforce the idea that the pinnacle of literary ambition should be jokes about farting and other toilet-related matters. The second are those that seem to have been dreamt-up in a marketing meeting, you know the ones, they have titles like Mutant Vampire Meerkat School, or Zombie Pirate Ninja Babysitters of Doom. As a teacher I know that children write in response to what they read. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the kids who read beyond the lavatorial and the crushingly formulaic tend to be better writers. They seem to care about what they are committing to paper, and expresses themselves more clearly.

Children are smart, too. Much smarter than some of these titles seem to suggest. It’s weird isn’t it? I’m sure that your average publisher knows this full-well. We are talking down to you, thanks for your money. Well, it’s a business isn’t it? Why should children be immune from being patronized? We are all treated like dummies on a daily basis – take a look the newspapers and TV, listen to a pop-music station for half an hour – it’s amazing anything gets done at all since we are – apparently - so collectively dim-witted. But, you know what? Children should be immune from being patronized.

Children should be challenged, inspired and perhaps even a little perplexed by what they read. Yes, of course, we all like an easy read from time to time, and reluctant readers (including children with special educational needs) need to have access to books which will open the door to reading for them. As a teacher I actively approve of this, and know that there are many different kinds of readers with differing levels of skill. Opening the door to reading is crucial and this can be done through comics, picture books, and chapter books with a small amount of text per page (for example Andy Stanton’s excellently surreal Mr. Gum series).

But… think of all those times you have reached for a dictionary whilst reading and learned a new word, or encountered a new idea that led you to an encyclopedia or a web search – children need to develop those skills too. I recently read Michael Morpurgo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom to my class, and almost every page features a word that many of them did not know the meaning of. We build word-power through reading.

I was once taken to task by a literary agent over the use of the word granola in a book I wrote for 7 year-olds. I was told that they wouldn’t know what it was… but how are you ever going to know what something is without reading about it for the first time? (I admit that knowing the word granola is maybe not that useful… but the point still stands.)

The same agent – an expert in children’s literature - advised me to include more fart gags in my manuscript. This worries me, the tendency towards low humour. Don’t misunderstand me, I love a good bodily-function joke as much as the next 43 year-old man, but they are seemingly everywhere. Farts, poos, stinky nappies, underpants, missing underpants… In an infinitely large and expanding cosmos, can’t we come up with something else? To aspiring writers I say this: if your story does not demand more farts, then hold them in. Give your reader some credit: she is a smart kid with a dictionary and access to Wikipedia. She can look stuff up.

There is a danger here that I might appear to be a po-faced killjoy, and if you think I am then I can live with that. However, the greater and more urgent danger is that what I am saying might be construed as a recipe for dull-but-worthy fiction for children. I am not in any way advocating this. Writing for children should be worthy – sure – why not?; a little bit educational; engaging; fun; but most of all thrilling.

Resist the farts and the formulas; instead take note of the successes of Michael Morpurgo, Phillip Pullman, Eoin Colfer, and good old J K Rowling. Remember that today’s children still tackle Tolkein, and C S Lewis quite happily. Find high quality models of literature to inspire you as a writer, and challenge yourself to take your reader on a voyage of discovery. Books should open windows on the world, not show the reader what they already know. Farts are funny. OK. Time to move on.

Amanda Lance - Conviction Blog Tour

Wanted (Book 2)
By: Amanda Lance
Publication Date: October 4, 2013
Publisher: Limitless Publishing, LLC


Falling in love with each other was unlikely.
Surviving their adventure was doubtful.
Living without each other: impossible.

For Addie Battes and Charlie Hays, a couple who defied all odds, life on land should be a breeze—except, for the fact that their newest challenge may include life, without each other…

To everyone else it looks like she’s leaving for college, but for Addie Battes, it’s much more. She and her kidnapper Charlie Hays have found a way to be together and elude authorities. Yet fairytale romances aside; life isn’t easy with schoolwork, roommates, and meddling FBI agents. And balancing acts threaten to fall when violent competitors rise up to put Charlie and the guys out of business.

Addie soon realizes that keeping her relationship with Charlie a secret is the least of her problems, especially with Charlie’s unfounded suspicions and jealousies. When misunderstandings surface, Addie’s worst fears come to fruition.

Desperate and alone, she is faced with a choice: try to find her own happy ending, or fight to make Charlie a part of hers.

About the Author

A native of New Jersey and lifelong nerd, Amanda Lance recently completed her Master in Liberal Arts at Thomas Edison State College after her BA in English Literature and AFA in creative writing. As an avid reader of all genres, some of her favorite authors include Hemingway, Marquis de Sade, Stevenson, Bukowski and Radcliffe.
When she isn’t writing or reading, Amanda can found indulging in film noir or hiking with her other half and their extremely spoiled dog. She is obsessively working on her next book and trying to tame her caffeine addiction."


Blog Tour Questionnaire
1.     Do you see writing as a career?
2.     Who or what is your inspiration?
Mostly music and whatever I happen to be reading at the time.
3.     Do you have any pets?
A bluetick coonhound named Chance (he is a BIG, spoiled baby)
4.     Early bird or night owl?
A little bit of both depending on the time of year.
5.     Any tips for new writers?
Obsession is the only way to get anything done.
6.     If you were a shoe, what kind would you be and why?
A pink fuzzy slipper.
7.     If you could live in any movie, which would it be?
Reservoir Dogs I love the soundtrack and anything Tarantino!
8.     Guilty Pleasure?
Mac n’ Cheese…yummy
9.     Are there scenes or people in your book that you took from your real life?
Conviction is inspired by Shakespeare’s Othello, but there is nothing in there that is non-fiction.
10.  Which character in your book would you most like to hang out with?
Probably Reid. I think he’s wonderfully interesting. (I’d love to hand out with Charlie…but then nothing would get done.) hehe
11.  Are you working on anything new? How is it going?
       I’m in the middle of another new adult romance series. *swoon*

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bad Land - By Jonathan Yanez - Blog Tour Stop!


At only twenty-three Marshall Montgomery is the youngest reporter to have ever worked at his newspaper in Los Angeles County...

His life has been his job. But something is about to happen that will force him to confront the painful memory of his sister's death and open him to a world very much apart from his own.

A young girl has been found dead on Wakan Canyon. A place Marshall will find that has a past filled with violence and bloodshed. Hundreds of years ago Native American's fought over the land and even today lives are being taken to protect a secret.

Deep within the canyon there is a secret that has been hidden by generations of the area's inhabitants. There is a secret power that has corrupted every single one of its owners since the beginning of time.

Now, trying to find the truth, Marshall finds himself caught in a web of lies, manipulation, secrecy and even death.


Amazon Kindle:


Jonathan Yanez was born and raised in a Christian household in Oxnard, CA. He was involved in everything from piano and saxophone lessons to swimming and track.

Growing up his parents encouraged him to read, and he did - anything he could get his hands on. Soon he developed a fascination with storytelling and characters that would follow him the rest of his life.

Graduating from BIOLA University with his BA in English Literature he never lost his love for writing and creating. He now works part-time as a personal trainer and hopes to one day make the move to writing full-time.

Other than reading and writing, his passion is living life to the fullest. He loves; spending time with his wife and pets, watching movies, participating in mud runs, traveling, going to the gym and pushing his limits in everything. This desire takes him anywhere from skydiving and motorcycle riding, to surfing in Hawaii and various types of martial arts. He has his eyes set next on archery and running with the bulls in Spain.

He is married to the love of his life and resides in Southern California with his husky, Daphne and cat, Helen.





Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Kindle Fire Giveaway!

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The Bone Room Blog Tour!

Blog Tour

Title: The Bone Room
Series: None
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction
Publisher: Limitless Publishing LLC
Publication Date: September 18, 2013
Author: Shane Scollins


Roman Stone is a cop who has spent the last few years of his life trying to rebuild the career he nearly destroyed.

He gets called to Alexandria Bay, NY to help the small town police force find a popular missing teenager. While investigating the case, random human bones start washing up on the shores of the St. Lawrence River and two major cases collide.

Looking for help on the case, Roman asks local historian Becca Quinn to show him around one of the local castles in the area. Becca works for the Thousand Island Preservation Society and spends her days working to restore some of the old abandoned mansions in the area for a new tourism initiative.

But what they find is more than anyone expects…

Something strange is lurking under the surface of the murky waters of the river.


Shane Scollins is a freelance writer and Amazon best selling author. Originally from New Jersey, he now resides in Upstate New York with his wife, Heather. He has a degree in computer science and has worked as an automotive service manager, a website developer and a computer network engineer. In his spare time he enjoys playing ice hockey, riding his mountain bike, and strumming on his guitar. Primarily a SciFi and paranormal novelist, Shane enjoys taking readers on surprising and unexpected journeys that twist reality. He is currently working on his next book

Blog Tour Questionnaire

1.     Do you see writing as a career? – I do see writing as a career. I’ve always been a creative person, and for some reason I’ve never quite fit into the regular 9-to-5 life. I’ve had a lot of different jobs over the years, but I’ve never been able to put together a sustained career. I got a degree in computer and worked as a network engineer but for various reasons that didn’t work out either. I always end up coming back to writing. It’s always been there for me whether writing books or articles, writing has always been what I go back to when nothing else seems to work. I take it serious and it is my focus right now.  I love getting into my stories and developing my characters.  Sure, I could make more money doing something else, but at this stage in my life, money is not the most important thing. I’ve never had a lot of money growing up so I’m kind of used to it anyway. I learned the hard way that if you don’t have your health and mental wellness you don’t have anything. We are a very reward-driven society but sometimes we forget what the real rewards in life are. I’m grateful to be in the position to do what I love doing. The rewards come from my fans enjoying my stories. When I get a good review or a special message from a fan saying how much they enjoyed reading my work, that’s a payment that no amount of money can buy. That’s what a career should be about, it should be about doing what you love. I know it’s hard because people need to put a roof over their heads and sometimes that means holding a job or career you don’t necessarily like doing. My wish is for everyone to be able to do something they love doing. The world would be a much happier and healthier place. But if you asked people if they would give up a substantial amount of income in their careers to do what they loved doing, very few would give up the money even if they could. I saw a woman on television who burned out in her high octane corporate career. She threw it all away and started baking cupcakes. Her friends and family thought she was nuts but she was so happy to be doing what she loved she no longer needed to take her anxiety medication or high blood pressure medication. It made me wonder how many people would benefit from chasing their dreams even if they never caught them.

2.     Who or what is your inspiration? – My inspiration comes from so many different places. I never really know where it’s going to originate. The people in my life inspire me daily. Friends in the flesh and on social media inspire me to create great characters and to be a better person. My fans inspire me to be a better writer. But I’m constantly inspired by the world around us. I watch the news and I’m inspired by the stories I see. Sometimes the roots of my story are taken straight from the headlines, sometimes they come from a story someone tells me from their life. Sometime the pure rawness of nature and the mysteries of the world around us all day long inspire me. The main thing that inspires me, if life. Life is a wonder. In simple terms, the human experience is so amazing and diverse that it can’t be ignored. The things we create and discover as we amble along through our lives can be infinitely inspiring if we choose to look at them in the right way. We’re all in need of inspiration and we find it where we can. The world is both awesome and awful at the same time, and that stark difference is what inspires me. There are people every day that overcome seemingly impossible odds and that’s inspiring.

3.     Do you have any pets? - I’ve always had pets since I was a kid. Growing up I had a dog, a malamute/shepherd mix.  We had him for 14 years. We also had ferrets over the years, many of them. My wife and I like to rescue animals when we can. We currently have 4 cats. We have Aikido, a gray and black tiger cat, we have Rascal and gray/black and white tiger. We have Phantom, an all black Bombay with orange eyes, and we have Smorca a black and white cat that someone dropped off at my mother’s house in the middle of winter a few years ago.  We had a dog, Yukon, a 110-pound malamute we got in 2003 but he was older at the time, and we had to put him to sleep in 2010. It took us a while to get over the loss of him, but about a year ago, we started to get puppy fever. Then this summer was tough for our family. My mother spent time in the hospital and then my wife’s mother passed away after a long battle with Multiple Sclerosis, so we were both feeling down. We just felt like it was time to bring a little joy into our lives. So, in the first week of July we came across a local dog on We found him at the Cortland County SPCA as a surrender. His first owner apparently couldn’t afford to feed him, he was undernourished and needed a home. We went for a visit after seeing his picture and story on the internet. Almost right away, we knew he was the dog for us. The craziest part is that his name was (and still is) Buddy. Which as some of you may know was the name of the dog in my romantic/thriller LEGACY RISING. It was one of those odd life coincidences that was almost too perfect to believe. We took him home the weekend of July 4th, he’s one year old as of September and he’s almost 60 pounds. He’s a shepherd/husky mix and he’s very energetic and very smart. He’s pretty good with the cats, he wants to play with them but they do not want to play with him. They just think he’s a big, panting, unrefined nuisance who has invaded their space. But a couple of them are starting to warm up to him a bit more. I can see them all getting along in the not to distant future. As Bill Murray’s character said in Ghostbusters: “Dogs and cats, living together, mass hysteria!”

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Stolen Cover Reveal - Keren Hughes

Stolen Cover Reveal

EEK! I am so excited to share this with everyone! Keren and I go way back and I'm so incredibly proud of her! Congrats!

Coming November 2013…


Roshanna O'Dare wakes up in her own home in shock when she discovers part of her memory is missing and her parents are dead…

With no clues of any kind as to what happened to her parents, and no other close family, Roshanna must move to Texas, Austin, to live with her last living relative, Uncle Joe after the funeral. But this means leaving her best friend, Marissa Mason behind.

That’s when she meets Bodhi Vincent, her uncle’s chauffeur, who seems to understand Roshanna in a way no one else has…

Bodhi is her rock after the death of her parents and the longer she stays with her uncle, the closer they become.

But before moving away, Roshanna was confronted with a shocking secret that Marissa had kept from her, a secret that changes how she sees life and the people in it—Marissa is a pure soul and her foster parents are soul drainers who need her pure energy to survive.

More shockingly, her parents’ souls were stolen by their murderer.

When Roshanna and Bodhi try and track down Marissa’s father, Leith Mason, in order to retrieve her parents’ souls back, they find themselves held hostage at gunpoint.

Will Roshanna and Bodhi survive? Will she ever find her parents souls? Or will their souls be the next ones to be taken?


Keren lives in the UK and is an avid bookworm; she has been since she read things like Black Beauty, What Katy Did and The Hobbit as a child. Her first real memories of reading are the summers she used to lie on her bed and re-read What Katy Did and What Katy Did Next.

Over the years she has come to realise that she is a bit OCD about books. They have to be in perfect condition without the slightest bit of damage.

She is a book reviewer and has been for the past 18 months or so.

The idea for Stolen came to her one day but she never thought she’d actually write it let alone publish it. If it wasn’t for her author friend Kira Saito, the idea would still be stuck in her head not on paper. But constant love and support from Kira is why you are now able to read Stolen.

Stolen is her first novel but now that she’s written one, she knows she needs to write more. There will be one sequel, called Freed which will be from Bodhi’s POV. This will be set a couple of years on.

Then, the plan is for her to write either NA or Adult Contemporary Romances. She has a big crush on Lady Antebellum’s music at the moment and their songs have inspired a few book ideas.