Monday, May 22, 2017

Marked Beauty Cover Reveal

Marked Beauty
S.A. Larsen

Ellysian Press, due October 2017

Uncovering hidden secrets can sometimes kill you . . . or worse, steal your soul.

Anastasia Tate has a secret. She can feel the emotions of others through their life energy auras. Not a welcome gift for a teenager. Especially when a sinister presence begins stalking her.

Viktor Castle also has a secret. He’s tasked with protecting humanity yet cursed by an ancient evil to destroy it.

After Viktor saves Ana’s life, her abilities grow stronger. Drawn together, she senses Viktor has answers to lifelong questions. Only he shuns her at every turn, knowing he has saved her only to put her in more danger.

As Ana struggles with her attraction to Viktor, he tries everything to bury his unexpected feelings for her. But they must find a middle ground. For only together can they combat the dark forces threatening both their lives . . . and their souls.

About the Author:
S.A. LARSEN is the author of the award-winning novel Motley Education, the first book in a fantasy-adventure series for middle grade readers. Her work has appeared in numerous local publications and young adult anthologies Gears of Brass and Under A Brass Moon by Curiosity Quills Press. Marked Beauty is her debut young adult novel. Find her in the land of snowy winters and the occasional Eh’ya with her husband of over twenty-five years, four children, a playful pooch, and three kittens. Visit her cyber home anytime at
Connect with her on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Blog | Goodreads
On the weekend, I went into Brisbane CBD to take skyscraper type shots with my new camera. So what ends up being my favourite shot? The creeping shoots of a clump of violets. Typical.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Best and Worst Hot Chocolate

Disclaimer: Contrary to popular belief, I don't have a sweet tooth. I like my chocolate dark and bitter. Consequently, if you have a taste for sugar, you may not agree with my list.

The Best
Overall, Brisbane makes a better hot chocolate than Sydney, which surprised and delighted me, having moved to Brisbane recently. However, Sydney does feature in my top four.

The Shack: This is an organic wholefood market and cafe with a few locations around Sydney. The one I frequented was in Gymea. This one is all about the chocolate. Rich, thick and heavenly. And not sugary. It had the perfect balance of yum. A true standout.

Murray Street Vineyards:  Located in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. This hot chocolate was made by a resident chocolatier who loved what he did. He made the hot chocolate in layers of silky goodness. A real treat. This is my one exception of having a hot chocolate in a glass. Unfortunately I doubt he is still there after all these years.

Swich Espresso: A little cafe in Holland Park, Brisbane. It's an unassuming cafe on a main street but offers seating on a deck out the back away from traffic noise. The hot chocolate arrives in a large low cup. With not too much froth on top, the chocolatey goodness underneath is a glorious treat. And their hot chocolate is consistently good, unlike so many places.

Oliver Brown: While this Belgium Chocolate Cafe is a chain, it's a good chain. You can order your hot chocolate in dark, milk or white. You have other choices too: mint, coconut etc. I always order the dark hot chocolate with mint. Oh my gosh it's yum. It is sweet, but it's also rich and delicious.

The Worst
The absolute worst hot chocolate I ever tasted came from the small island of Capris, Italy. This one wasn't about the chocolate or the sugar. It was about the sludge. I could literally stand my spoon up in it. I had to order extra milk to make it palatable.

Gloria Jeans: This is a franchise chain that has lowered its standards over the years. The hot chocolate is watery and the froth takes up half the mug a lot of the time. Hugely disappointing.

Some Sydney cafe: Their hot chocolate was so sugary that it tasted like marshmallows, even though it had no marshmallows in it. Not good.

Chocolat Cafe: Found in Westfield, Garden City, Mount Gravatt, Brisbane. Oddly enough, this is a cafe that prides itself on its chocolate. Unfortunately they gave me a cool, watery 'hot' chocolate in a glass when I specifically asked them to put it in a mug, pointing to the mugs.

What is with this trend of serving hot chocolates in a glass? It might look great when presented in a tall glass, but there's no comfort in a glass. To be able to pick up a glass to drink from it means the hot chocolate has to be cooler than it should, and if served hot then it loses its temperature way too fast in a glass, so you're forced to scoff it down before it gets cold. So when you order a hot chocolate, always ask for it in a mug!

Are you a hot chocolate drinker? What was your best experience of a hot chocolate? What was your worst?

Special Note:
The IWSG is now partnering with Reedsy on some upcoming events, and today, May 8, is a big one!
Through the #IWriteBecause project, we want to raise awareness about the power of writing. Above all, writing is not just a vocation or a hobby; it’s one of the greatest ways to express our thoughts and get our message out.

At Reedsy, we believe that every child, regardless of geography, gender or economics, should have access to education and the freedom to raise their voice and share their message with the world. That’s why, for every writer who shares their story, Reedsy will donate $10 to Room to Read — a non-profit organization that seeks to provide girls in Africa and Asia with access to education.

The IWSG asks members to Tweet and re-Tweet #IWriteBecause Monday, May 8!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Zen and the Art of Research #IWSG

This month's IWSG question is about research: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story? I've done so much research for writing that it's hard to name the weirdest or coolest.

I've researched where pippies grow, the atmosphere on Venus, the make up of the sun, how to  artificially make rain, the guns used by detectives in the early twentieth century, what goes into creating artificial intelligence, natural remedies to clear acne, and various backgrounds of martial arts, among other things. Then there is the endless searches for names for my characters, ensuring they fit not only the character's personality, but also the year they were born.

Now for the zen part of this post: A poorly researched story can disturb a reader's calm. I've read stories where it was painfully obvious the author's only research came from watching movies. Anachronisms, falsehoods and inaccuracies can destroy an otherwise enjoyable story.

So my advice is this: Never bank on your readers to care little about the details, to be ignorant of the facts, or to lack an understanding of how physics works. The more accurate your story world is, the more immersed your readers will become--even if it's a fantasy. Don't mimic something you might've heard at a barbecue, or seen at the movies, or glanced across on the internet. Check your facts. Besides, your research might lead your story to a completely different, yet serendipitous, direction.

What do you love or dislike about research? What are some of the things you've had to research?
Hero Lost:
Mysteries of Death and Life
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Can a lost hero find redemption?

What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero’s redemption!

Website - Goodreads 
Amazon ebook - Amazon Paperback
Barnes & Noble - Nook
Books-A-Million - iTunes - Kobo

If you haven't already, pick up your free copy of "Finding Satisfaction in Christ" by joining my mailing list. With your free copy, you will also receive the occasional devotional from me and a free Christian wallpaper.

And don't forget my daily devotional, Cling to God available in the usual places.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Finding Satisfaction and Insecurities #IWSG

Finding Satisfaction in Christ
by Lynda R. Young

Today I'm releasing a gift for anyone who is interested, anyone looking to find renewal in their faith, anyone looking for revitalization. You can pick up your FREE copy from HERE.

Please help me spread the word.

I used to think I got tired a lot. When life got difficult, I'd get weary. When a project became overwhelming, I'd get spent.

Stress equaled weariness.

This month, I discovered a new kind of tired. It was a bone-weighing, energy-sapping exhaustion that wiped out the whole month. Such was the joys of glandular fever. And just when I thought I was over it, it came creeping back. Consequently I've attempted to take things a little easier than usual. Not always simple for me when I have multiple projects vying for my much needed attention.

And then there's that writer's guilt: I should be writing!

Insecure? Just a tad. Good thing I have a husband who brings me things that sparkle. Chocolate and sparkles fix most ails.

How about you? What have you been up to while I was away?

Every first Wednesday of the month the members of the IWSG post on their blogs about their writing insecurities or offer some encouragement to others. If you are new to the IWSG, then please go HERE to find out more and join up.

Looking for a Book Club? We have a great one at the IWSG. You'll find it on HERE on Goodreads. If you haven't already, please check it out! You won't be disappointed.

And don't forget our Twitter Pitch party in July. Now is the time to get your pitches in order. Don't wait last minute! To find out everything you need to know about the party, go HERE.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Reworking Old Stories #IWSG

IWSG Question of the month: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out? I have. No it didn't work out. It was too easy to stick with what was already there and reshape that, rather than completely pull it apart to bring it back together again. I may try again another time, but the characters need a major overhaul, which in turn will change the story dramatically.

Big announcement: The IWSG Twitter Pitch Party!
 Hashtag #IWSGPit

July 27, 2017, 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Time

All writers and authors are invited to participate in our very first Twitter Pitch. Create a Twitter-length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript and leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. On July 27, Tweet your pitch. If your pitch receives a favorite/heart from a publisher/agent check their submission guidelines and send your requested query. Many writers have seen their books published from a Twitter pitch - it’s a quick and easy way to put your manuscript in front of publishers and agents.

We invite all of you to join us that day! Authors with a publisher or agent, please ask if they would like to participate or pass along their contact information to the IWSG. We intend for this to be a twice yearly event, July and January, giving our members a great opportunity for publication. Help us spread the word!

Also: We have two new items on the IWSG swag page, including a cool eraser. Check them out and support the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

And lastly, I'd like to leave you with a pic of a sunrise I caught one morning.
Happy writing everyone!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Travel Pictures and Book Cover Creation

After posting a brief account of my recent cruise from Singapore to Thailand to Vietnam and back to Singapore, I got a lot of requests to see more pics of my trip. Okay, if you insist (I always love sharing my travel pics).

If, however, you are more interested in How to Create Book Covers that Sell Books, then pop on over to the Insecure Writer's Support Group website to check out my article there.

I don't have many great photos of Singapore, though it's a beautiful city. It was a humid, raining day. I did get to the Singapore Flyer, a massive Ferris wheel and below is probably my best shot with it in the background (if you look closely).
Leaving Singapore:
Travel advice: Don't go on a cruise if you want to stay on your diet:
Dining in opulence on the Mariner of the Seas, Royal Caribbean:
Just outside Bangkok, Thailand:
Reckon I could sneak one of these onto the balcony of my new place? Every good balcony needs a dragon fountain...
I love all ancient ruins and/or intricate workmanship. It's great when I get both in the one place.
The Sanctuary of Truth, Pattaya, Thailand:
Floating market, Pattaya, Thailand:
Vietnam wasn't as pretty, but I still enjoyed it.
Okay, I have a gazillion more pics, but that's enough for now.
Don't forget to check out my article on the IWSG website: How to Create Book Covers that Sell Books

Where have you travelled to recently? What's your favourite travel destination?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Writing, Reading and Travel #IWSG

I've just come back from a cruise from Singapore to Thailand, then Vietnam and back to Singapore. I took a book with me (The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu) but didn't open it once. I kinda felt guilty about that when I chose to watch the in-flight movies instead. I squeezed in three and a half of them each way. Think how much reading I could've done! It's not like I'm not enjoying the book. Nope, I'm loving it. It's quite an exceptional science fiction with great ideas and concepts. But the truth was, my brain just needed to switch off. You see, the problem with being a writer is when I read I analyse ... or, if the book is really good, I feel super inspired to write, or I mope and wish I could write like that--which is ridiculous since we all have our own way of writing and our own unique stories. But I still mope on the occasion. Just because.

How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

I'm not quite back into the swing of things yet as I had expected. The world continues to shift and rock as if I'm still on the boat. Hopefully my weary brain will land on shore soon.

In the meantime, I'd like to welcome into the IWSG fold, two new admins:
Heather Gardner will be running the conferences page at the IWSG site.
C. Lee McKenzie will be our media relations expert.

Also, check out the cover of  our upcoming IWSG anthology, Hero Lost, if you haven't already.

And, we have an IWSG swag now. You can get your own IWSG pen, magnet or t-shirt. Check it out HERE.

Every first Wednesday of the month the members of the IWSG post on their blogs about their writing insecurities or offer some encouragement to others. If you are new to the IWSG, then please go HERE to find out more and join up.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The IWSG Short Story Contest Winners

Wishing everyone a happy New Year! I'm hoping this year will be far better than the last one. Above is a quick snap I took in Brisbane's Botanic Gardens.

And now on to good news: The much awaited results for the IWSG short story contest have come in. Below are the winners in no particular order:
Erika Beebe - The Wheat Witch
L. Nahay – Breath Between Seconds
Tyrean Martinson - Of Words and Swords
Elizabeth Seckman - Mind Body Soul
Olga Godim - Captain Bulat
Ellen Jacobson - The Silvering
Roland Yeomans - Sometimes They Come Back
Yvonne Ventresca – The Art of Remaining Bitter
Sean McLachlan - The Witch Bottle
Sarah Foster - The Last Dragon
Renee Cheung - Memoirs of a Forgotten Knight

And the grand prize winner:

Jen Stanton Chandler - The Mysteries of Death and Life

Congrats to everyone who took part! The stories were all fabulous and it was a difficult task for the judges to pick their favourites.

What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?
Can I say all of them? When people treat these rules as absolutes and take great joy in picking apart published works that break the rules, then I must admit I get a little upset. No rule is absolute. Every rule can be broken. If you want to head hop through the story, then head hop! If you want fractured sentences, then fracture them! Shatter them if that's your desire! Have a field day with backstory, tell to your heart's content. But ask yourself, does it work? Are you doing it out of laziness or ignorance or stubbornness, or is it part of your master plan? In other words, does it have the full impact you intended for the story? Yes? Then go for it!

 How about you? What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?