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Welcome! Books, movies, music, original stories, interviews, writing, libraries, literacy, humor –all with the YA reader in mind, are just a few of the topics you’ll find here. New to the blog? Say hi! Like it? Follow away! Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Book 2 updates

So, I've been journaling (yes, I realize that isn't a word) book 2 progress on my website.

For those interested, click HERE

I try to update it every day -try being the key word.

I usually tweet when I've written an entry so if you're not, follow me on TWITTER

and if you've followed the link here via twitter, follow my blog!

As always, find interviews, writing samples, videos, contests and more on my website.

In bookstores now

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Facilitating blogging laziness

If you're a blogger and you aren't using Google Reader and Google Alerts, you're crazy!

think of this:

All the content you want updated constantly in one place.
You put in the search parameters then sit back and revel in your own laziness.

 Set up a GMail account

Go to http://www.google.com/alerts

Lets say you blog about upcoming movies.  Google Alerts lets you base your alerts on the parameters you specify...like The Hobbit

             It can then add the alerts to either your feed (via Google Reader (another tool you NEED to use) or in your email. I HIGHLY suggest using Google Reader...just Google it for more info. Below is a screen shot of my Reader, which includes blogs I'm following along with the alerts I've set. All in one place so you can be up to date on the latest news on whatever topic you want!

It's insanely easy to set up, however be cautioned, it is very easy to get wrapped up in whatever you are following and forget that you need to WRITE.

As always, find interviews, writing samples, videos, contests and more on my website.

In bookstores now

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July Short Story Results

Every quarter I host a short-story contest to encourage writing and creativity.  Every quarter I am blessed with some truly amazing stories. This quarter was no different.  I've posted the rankings as well as the winning short story below.  To see the contest rules, which dictate your overall score. CLICK HERE


 Top Seven entries

Winner: Treachery Lies in Wait by Janae Keri

Prize: Exiled prize pack -signed copy of the book, signed poster, $30 winner's choice at The Never Chronicles store, $25 Amazon gift card
Runner up:  The Talisman of Power by David Green
Prize: Exiled prize pack -signed copy of the book, signed poster, $20 winner's choice at The Never Chronicles store
3rd place: Emily V (awarded Most Potential)
Most potential Prize:  Signed copy of Exiled
4th place    DARK BEGINNING by: Samuel López
5th place The Tracks by: Janelle Benny
6th place Melena by: Nina Fröström
7th place Schizo by: Nina Fröström

Treachery Lies in Wait
By Janae Keri

September 21, 1646

The servants have their own stories to tell. I listen to their tales as I work, doing odds and ends. I admit I feel pretty useless. I’m a klutz with the arm I have.

I was chopping firewood one-handed today. I need to strengthen my arm in case of an attack. I stole back my sword; it is hidden under my bed, along with this journal. I practice swinging it in my room at night. The sword is weighty; I previously wielded it with two hands. Since I don’t have two hands anymore, I will have to do it with one. It will take time.

September 25, 1646

The pieces of my old life are hidden under my bed. I remember the luxuries of my old life—the food, the clothing, the feather bed. Now I serve those that were my friends. I make their food, brew their ale, and heat their rooms. These luxuries are not to be mine.

Selene sits at her food, among the rest of my family. I feel no pain for what has happened to me, or at least that’s what I tell myself. I know, somewhere deep down it still hurts, but life goes on.

September 28, 1646

My arm is getting stronger; now I feel that I could defend myself, if need be. Today one of the other servants, William, discovered my practices. He offered to help.

The good side of being a servant is that you can hear everything that is going on about the palace. I heard that my beloved horse, Zephyr, was sold to a faraway king. Selene is to be married off this summer. I know I won’t be invited to the wedding. The people are worried about the King’s age and how inadequate my younger brother is. I should have been King instead of him. I knew that people had always liked me better, but now they thought me dead or captive. I don’t know what my father told the Englishmen. I know that I will never be King. I will serve Rathbourne, the King, at my father’s death.

October 12, 1646

Today at dinner, something interesting happened.

I was serving ale to my father’s men, and I overheard a plot to kill my father. I personally did not know the men. I came back a bit later to replenish their supply, and I heard the time and place of a future meeting. The two were going to meet in the church to plan the death of their King. They decided to meet at midnight tomorrow.

That night, I took my findings to Rathbourne. I felt that this was a justifiable reason to break my secrecy. I told him everything I heard, including the meeting time and place. He told me that there was no threat to the King. He dismissed me in seconds, and threatened to tell Father about my presence. Contempt was barely masked on his face. I left, feeling absolutely crushed. My brother hated me.

I decided that something had to be done about the traitors.

October 13, 1646

I am ready; dressed in shadows and sword strapped to my side. I plan to spy on the two men, listening from the shadows of the church. Maybe Rathbourne will believe me then.

October 14, 1646

Last night, I stood in the shadows of the church, listening to the meeting. They prayed for wisdom and discussed their methods. They decided on silencing him with his favorite pillow and slitting his throat, after he went to bed. I knew that I couldn’t let this be done to my father.

October 15, 1646

I again approached Rathbourne. I told him the plot, all that I knew. He dismissed the thought of danger to the King once again. “Fine, if you don’t believe me, wait until you find him dead in his bed!” I said, stalking out. He yelled after me, more threats. I don’t understand how he can reject me that quickly. I’m still his brother!

I’m so alone.

October 16, 1646

The approaching conflict will be dangerous. No doubt about that. I feel, however, that I am prepared. I beat William today in practice, something I haven’t managed before. God be with me as I go to protect my King.

October 18, 1646

Tonight I go to face these traitors! It is my duty to protect the King. I lie on my bed worrying about the coming hours. I plan to hide in a shadowy corner within the servants’ quarters. They knew that this would be the easiest way into the palace. I will ambush them there.

October 20, 1646

I am glad to be alive. I faced the traitors in my black cloak and my sword. I waited in the shadows of a doorway, watching for movement.

The assassins stole away, silent like the shadow I wanted to be. They walked past my doorway, not pausing. I let out a breath and readied myself, drawing my sword, just a shadow. The traitors turned, hearing something. I was hard to miss, standing in the middle of the hallway.

They drew swords; lunging in unison. I dodged, hefting my blade. A few random thoughts run through my head: ‘Two armed men against one? That’s fair!’ Then I was battling them single-handedly.

I couldn’t strike, too many were the blows of my attackers. My arm tired quickly, blocking each stroke. Soon, my guard would slip; the end was near. I took an all-or-nothing shot, aiming for one man’s legs. I was hoping the other would see his accomplice fall and pause to help him. Nothing ever works out the way you think. Even as I swept my blade for one man’s feet, I saw the other’s sword singing toward mine. I feel the sharp burn as the blade cuts deep and I hope mine did the same. The pain comes over me in a wave as I topple backwards. I lay in a heap, staring up at my to-be killer. My sword is gone from my hand; his sword is resting over my frantically beating heart. I have no hope.

A new shadow emerges as I lose consciousness. It attacks my attacker; he crumples down…

I wake up the next morning in Selene’s rooms; my wounds are bound. She seems to have learned much of medicinal skills since she accidently shot me. I ask her what happened. She said she took a frying pan to the heads of my attackers. She called a servant to help carry me upstairs.

Selene told the servant to tie the two men to the doors of the Great Hall. The King would be the first to see them.

I slept.

October 23, 1646

Today I was called to my father’s courts, for the first time in two months. Several men carried me; my wounds still unhealed. I sat on a bench in front of my father. He was very blunt.

“Son, what you did a few nights ago appalled us. You put your sister’s life in danger and you murdered two men. Explain yourself!”

I replied, explaining how I had overheard the plot to kill the King. I told him how I warned my brother; how he had dismissed it.

Rathbourne denied it coldly.

“Son, you kill my men and claim it was in defense of me?! You are a murderer of innocent men!” To his servants, he explained the charges. I knew. Death.

I am writing this in the final moments of my life. Hopefully, Selene will convince people of my innocence with this journal. Thank you, sister, for everything.

October 31, 1646

Somehow, I am still alive. I am forever in debt to Selene. She rescued me from my cell, right before my execution. She fled with me to the forest; she showed me a cave where I could live. She promised to check up on me once in a while. She’d keep my ink flowing and my sword by my side.

I can’t see how my relationship will ever get better with Father. I’m a hermit in the forest, all alone. Now I truly have been banished from my home.

As always, find interviews, writing samples, videos, contests and more on my website.

In bookstores now

Friday, July 20, 2012

Top five youtube videos supporting my disdain for the Star Wars prequels

by J. R. Wagner

After some laborious hunting around youtube, I've managed to find five videos that do a rather comprehensive job at describing why the Star Wars prequels are simply downright offensive to a fan of the original films.

This first video takes a newly released song and spins it into a beautifully written diatribe about the prequels.

Video #2 (sorry about the title) gets down to the nitty-gritty. Lots of specific examples of why the films are terrible.

Video three takes a different approach. It asks the question, what if episode one was good? (grammatically, it should be were good...but whose counting?)

Video four is a funny comedy bit done by a die hard original film fan about what he would do if he could travel back in time. Very funny! **content warning, language is rough in this one.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fare thee well, Encyclopedia Brown

 by J. R. Wagner

While in my car yesterday, I was listening to NPR and heard that the author of the Encyclopedia Brown series, Donald Sobol passed away last week.

You can listen to the story HERE

I'm guessing at least half of you are wondering; who the heck is Encyclopedia Brown?

In THIS ARTICLE on Huffington Post.com,  Eva Glettner brilliantly described EB this way:

"Encyclopedia Brown Urges Children To Embrace Their Inner Nerd"

The first Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective, was published in 1963 -wayyyy before I was born.  Seriously.  The cover has no doubt gone through several modifications to appeal to the audience of the times. Below are a  few examples.

 My mom used to read these books to me as a child (No doubt to help improve my pathetic reasoning skills.) and I used to absolutely love them.  I wanted to be Encyclopedia Brown (except I wasn't nearly smart enough and had the focus of a meal worm).

I think part of the allure was Brown's ability to stick it to the adults.  Nothing earns you respect on the playground faster than the ability to make your teachers and parents look like idiots.  Encyclopedia Brown was a master of picking out the obscure clues and putting them together to solve a mystery.

Before even Scooby Doo (1976) and friends came riding along in their pimped out 1963 Ford Econoline ready to solve mysteries, EB was tearing it up.
Another point of interest was the bad-ass female character in the EB series.  Sally Kimball was not only the apple of every male EB reader's eye, but she was tough. Super tough. Tough a-la Uma Therman in Kill Bill. This modern view on being tough and female and acceptable was arguably ground breaking in children's literature.

Uma Therman -Kill Bill superstar

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Top ten reasons why you MUST read Exiled

Yes, I am well aware of the complete and total self-serving nature of this post...so humor me.

10. No vampires.

9. No werewolves.

8. George Lucas had nothing to do with the writing of this novel.

7. Because someone created a profile on Goodreads just to give Exiled a one-star rating. No other user activity whatsoever! 

6. Because you don't need completely unbelievable love triangles that take away from the plot progression to make good reading.

 5. Because Exiled isn't poorly written porn wrapped in a mainstream package.

4. Did I mention there isn't one effing Vampire in Exiled?

3. Exiled is NOT on Oprah's book club list. (although I secretly wish it was -for promotional purposes only, of course)

2. I'm working on optioning Exiled and future volumes from The Never Chronicles with a major Hollywood producer.

yep, I'm working on it

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Desire for an apocalypse: a psychological analysis Part 2

Part 2 -is it all in your mind?

Is there something diagnostically wrong with the people who wish for mass death and destruction in the form of an apocalyptic event? Is there something misfiring inside the neuron-filled superhighway that comprises their brain?

The word, apocalypticism (yup, there's a word for it) is defined (by my buddies at Dictionary.com) as any doctrine concerning the end of the temporal world, especially one based on the supposed prophetic passages in the Revelation of St. John the Divine.

So people have been secretly wishing for the end of times since...dare I say, the dawn of time (we're a morbid race, us humans, aren't we?). 

PBS even has a pictorial chronology of the 'Apocalyptic Worldview' a phrase coined by Lorenzo DiTommaso, a professor of religion at Concordia University in Montreal.

In the article from Psychology Today: Why the World Will End in 2012 by Howard Bloom, Bloom references a 60 year old experiment cited in his book, The Lucifer Principle. The experiment (described below) hints at the genetic need to thrive (and therefore wipe out your competition). Essentially, humans have a subconscious and primal need to destroy the competition so they can spread their own genes and thrive. 

"In the late 1940's, the German researcher F. Steiniger put fifteen brown rats who had never met each other into a cage. At first the creatures cowered in the corners, frightened and apprehensive. If they accidentally bumped into each other, they bared their teeth and snapped. Gradually, however, it dawned on some of the males that among this batch of strangers were attractive young females. The gentleman rodents became budding Don Juans and went a courting.

The first male and female to win each others' hearts now had something all the others lacked an ally. The pair took full advantage of the situation: they terrorized their cagemates. At first, the lovers simply chased their fellow rodents away from food, sending them scurrying to the safety of the far end of the enclosure. Later, the romantic duo hunted down their neighbors one by one. The female was a particularly quick killer. She would sneak up on a victim as it was quietly chewing a bit of chow, spring with a sudden speed, and bite the unfortunate in the side of the neck, often opening a wound in the carotid artery. Some of the attacked died of infection. Others, mauled and worn down by frantic efforts to escape, succumbed to exhaustion. When the happy couple had finished, they were the only survivors.

The rats had cleared the new territory of competitors, transforming the cage into a spacious land of milk and honey for themselves. A new promised land. Now, they could found a tribe that might if left to its own devices thrive for generations to come. A tribe that would carry the parental line of genes."

Unfortunately, Bloom concludes with what appears to be a politically motivated series of questions rather than speculating on the the possible demise of humanity as we know it.  I guess when you're publishing in Psychology Today, you aren't given the liberty of causing mass hysteria.

Fortunately, I'm bound by no such constraints.

So is apocalypticism some type of neurological disorder or simply a manifestation of the desire to spread our genes while destroying the competition?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Are you a social media butterfly?

A Guest post by Carlie M A Cullen

Are you a social media butterfly? 

Earlier this year, I wrote two guest posts for Josh’s blog called ‘Presenting A Professional
Image’. There were two parts to it; one dealt with being able to deal with constructive
criticism, and the other was about the little things you can do when meeting and networking
with people (like getting business cards printed). I hope you found both of those articles
informative and helpful.

I decided to follow on from those posts and talk about networking with people, especially on
social media platforms.

Now I’m not one of those butterflies that flit from one social media network to another;
there are so many on the internet now, it would be only too easy to get caught in the trap
of traipsing from one to another, and another. Before you realize it, you’ve spent several
precious hours being a social media butterfly and you’ve no time left to do the most
important thing of all – writing.

I’ve decided to pick just two platforms and concentrate my efforts there. I predominantly
use Twitter (http://twitter.com/carlie2011c) and pop in to Facebook (http://facebook.com/
carlie.cullen) on occasions.

I’m not a Twitter snob and only follow writers and readers; I follow all types (except those who speak in a language I don’t know/understand). Making connections on Twitter has not
only enriched my life, I’ve forged good friendships and strong links with people from other
countries (mainly those from across the pond). And here’s where some of the networking
comes into it.

I must be doing something right on Twitter as I’m attracting more and more followers each
day. At the beginning of 2012 I had less than 200 followers – now I have over 1640. So how
did I do it? There was no magic plan, no marketing strategy and no one guiding me.

I think it happened because I genuinely care about other people and have a passion for
supporting other authors.

I regularly Retweet authors who are publicising their own or other people’s books, I tweet
about other books and several weeks ago I started my own hashtag #SupportSunday. I pick
four authors who I follow and publicise their book(s), including a link to it/them on Amazon.
I try to rotate it so I don’t have the same four people every week, although I admit I do tend
to favour my two closest friends on Twitter and they get included regularly. BUT I have
one rule where this hashtag is concerned: if the author I’ve publicised doesn’t have the good
manners to show any appreciation or even acknowledge that I’ve tried to help them, they
never get included again. How long does it take to tweet someone with a simple ‘thank you’?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Desire for an apocalypse: a psychological analysis Part I

Part I

That's right, I said desire.  There are many, many people (mostly male) who have an innate desire for some world altering event that will ravage the population and leave them, in most cases, alone to battle the remnants of whatever caused this apocalypse or find other survivors and begin again.

The apocalypse,  the end of the world, the rapture -whatever you call it, the words bear the same meaning. Some event that violently and tragically alters the existence of humanity.

With December, 2012 right around the corner, what better time to delve into a topic that has captured the imaginations of readers, writers, filmmakers and fans for centuries.

There are loads of websites dedicated to the nonsensical notion that the world will end on December 21st of this year.  I've decided to delve into this subject from a more entertainment providing perspective so fear not, fun will be had by all!

Before the analysis of the mind that wishes for the end, lets take a look at some popular scenarios.

1. Meteor

2. Nuclear holocaust

3. The Rapture

4. A super-virus
5. Zombies

6. I'll throw in a geological disaster for S&G's

7. World War III

Friday, July 6, 2012

Desire for the apocalypse: a psychological analysis

Desire for the apocalypse: a psychological analysis

a series

-good ole fashion fun

coming soon!

If you'd like to be interviewed, please contact me!


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Reading and Writing: The Escape and The Outlet

Reading and writing. When written like that, they sound like an intolerably boring grade school class. I am a strong believer that both are for some and can be for others much, much more.

In fact, I tell you they are life-changing.  Both of them. I'm not talking about learning how to read and write, which is obviously necessary for reasons I care not to delve into. I'm talking about profound impact. They may have changed your life already and they could impact someone eases life and YOU could be the change wielder.

I'll start with reading.

Reading is The Escape. Escape from what? Well, that depends. What do you need to escape from?  A crappy job? An annoying sibling? A bad day at school? A bad home life? Abuse? 'Friends' who keep trying to talk you into doing drugs? The death of someone close? Life in general?

Everybody needs an escape. Everybody. Some need it more urgently than others but we all need it.  If you're reading this, you most likely have found The Escape that resides between the covers of a good book.  They take you away. They shut off the world around you.  They silence the voices that tell you you're not good enough or pretty enough or smart enough. You enter a place of blissful quiet.  A new world with new surroundings, new people, new challenges.  You get to be someone else -to share an adventure, a romance, a mystery or maybe even something so terrifying, it will keep you up at night.  But even the terror is better than that place from which you've escaped. You can be inspired, awed, amazed, excited and....educated???

NOOOOOOOOO! Don't ruin The Escape with education! It's true.  While you're off in the arena with Katness, your brain is working, learning, becoming a faster, better, more perceptive machine.  Sometimes, that perception is strong enough to bring something back from The Escape and apply it to your life in the real world.  Imagine...being able to reach into a book and pull something out from you're favorite stories (if your envisioning grabbing Edward Cullen by his hair and yanking him through the pages of Twilight, please stop).  It's true! You're constantly picking up things -most often subconsciously, that you will use in your real life.

So, not only are you provided with a refuge from whatever it is you need shelter from, but when you return to our world, you return better armed to deal with the challenges all around you.

Now, if you're brave enough, you will share this gift, The Escape, with others -especially those who really need it.  Don't worry, they're easy to spot.  Over-stressed, anxious, withdrawn, temperamental, rebellious, mean spirited -generally those people you don't want to come into contact with are the same people who need The Escape the most.  I challenge you to find one, just one of these people and show them 'the doorway' (a book that will pique their interest).  That may be all you can do -that also may be all it takes. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

If you're a writer and you don't use these resources...you're nuts!

Yes nuts! Insane, crazy, totally missing out.

So, here are my two FREE online resources that can change the way you play the game.

1.  Grammar Girl -quick and dirty tips for better writing.

Go ahead, bookmark it, pin it, tweet it.  I'll wait...


Grammar Girl is an excellent resource for anyone putting sentences together.  Lie versus lay.   Affect versus effectFurther versus farther.  These are just the tip of the iceberg. 

They also have a podcast and video blog if you need a break from reading computer based articles.

Whether you're Stephen King or my thirteen-year-old daughter (Hello, Iris), this website can be an invaluable tool. 

2. Goodreads

Think Facebook for readers.