Friday, May 30, 2014

Outage: Guest Post from Ellisa Barr

One week from today, I will release the fourth installment in The Collapse Series - State of Pursuit. I'm very excited to share the continuation of Cassidy Hart's story, and Ellisa Barr is one of those people who understand my fascination with building a world centered around survival. On May 13th, 2014, Ellisa released her debut novel, Outage - a YA novel that follows the story of one girl's survival after a technological attack takes out society as we know it. The premise is a popular one - and Ellisa had fun putting her own spin on it. Today, she's guest-posting at Writing Belle, talking about the importance of being prepared for the (potential) end of the world! 

Hi all, thanks to Summer for letting me introduce myself here.  I just released a YA post-apocalyptic fiction novel about what happens to a city girl in a small town when an EMP knocks out phones and electricity, and sends life as we know it back to the Dark Ages.

As I was writing Outage, I became painfully aware of how unprepared I would be for a local or national disaster.  What’s surprising is the more people I talk to about it, the more I’m finding out I’m not alone. 

Imagine if your power went out right now.  How would you entertain yourself for the rest of the day?  What would you eat and drink?  What would you do when it got dark?  What if the power was off for a week?  A month?

A few days ago our power went off for a couple of hours.  No more magic fridge fairy dispensing filtered water and ice cubes.  We didn’t have any bottled water or batteries, and we were low on toilet paper too (heaven forbid!)  If there had been a real emergency we would have been in pretty bad shape. 

I hope if you’ve been procrastinating your preparedness, you’ll try and think of at least one small thing you can do this week to be better.  Buy a flashlight or some candles if you don’t have any, talk to your family about a basic emergency plan, check to see if anything in your first aid kit needs replacing.  You never know when you might need it.

I also hope you’ll check out my new book, Outage.  Dee, the main character, is even less prepared than I am.  She’s a city girl visiting her grandpa on his farm in rural Washington when the power goes out for good and her grandpa has a medical crisis.  She meets a cute guy and discovers some helpful neighbors, gets chased by cows and bad guys, saves a little boy and his big brother, and even gets saved a little bit herself.

I had fun including some survival tips because I love to read those, but the story is primarily a fast-paced adventure.  Dee and her friends have to confront wild animals, sickness, personal loss, and ultimately, the corrupt man who has taken over the nearby town.

Thanks again, Summer, for letting me share a few thoughts here.  I love EMP stories (which is why I wrote one!) and was so excited to discover the State of Emergency series.  I wish you the best of luck on your upcoming release of State of Pursuit.

About the Author 
Ellisa lives with her husband, two children, a dog and a cat in southern California, where she thinks she should do more to be ready for earthquakes.  She teaches music and homeschools her children in the winter, and in the summer she hides out from the heat with a stack of books. 

Connect with Ellisa: 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Marie O'Byrne on Being Irish...And Being An Author (Kingsburg Author)

I live in the Central Valley of California, so it's really no surprise that I love to use the local setting as a backdrop for my books. Marie O'Byrne lives in Kingsburg, California - just a hop, skip and a jump away from my own hometown. I read about her books, The Cart Full of Holly, Lavender Fields, and Evening Rose, in The Fresno Bee. I thought it would be fun to feature a local author on Writing Belle, so I contacted Marie and set up an interview. 

Marie's books are heavily steeped in Irish goodness. Born in Ireland herself, she carries a deep appreciation for all things Irish - and it makes her stories even richer. I took some time to catch up with Marie and ask her some questions about her writing, her background and her love for the Central Valley of California.

Hello, Marie! You live in Kingsburg, CA - but your original birthplace was overseas. Can you tell us a little about yourself - where you're from and how you came to live in Kingsburg? 
Marie: I began writing about six years ago after the last of my four children left home for college. At that time my husband travelled extensively to China for his job and I thought it was the perfect time to write the novel that I had always dreamed about. It sure was a great way to deal with the empty nest syndrome!
One day as I read the Fresno Bee I saw an article on a class that was to be held in Fresno, it was titled, “How to write your first book”. I looked upon that as a sign and I enrolled immediately. I am now at the beginning stage of writing my forth book.

How did you begin writing? 
Marie: All my books are Irish Novels, set in Co. Wicklow, Ireland in the 1970 to 1980 time frame. They tell stories of hardship and pain growing up in rural Ireland at that time. I do however like happy endings, triumph over adversity and some form of justice! I have many fond memories from my childhood and I try to weave them into each novel, of course I change the names and places but some parts of all the stories have actual events in them that are true.

Describe your books for new readers. What kind of stories do you tell? 
Marie: I love Ireland and everything Irish. I am one of eleven children, my mother and father worked incredibly hard to provide for us and they managed to give us all a great childhood. The wonderful memories I have of my time in Ireland inspires me.

What inspires you as a writer? Who inspires you? 
Marie: My favorite author is Maeve Binchy, and when I moved to America at the age of 23 years I found great comfort in her books. We lived in Vermont for eighteen years and I remember sitting up at night by the woodstove looking out at the snow falling, a cup of tea in one hand and one of her books in the other. Her books were set in Ireland and it made the distance from home seem so much shorter. She brought Ireland closer to me. I felt like Maeve was sitting by the fire next to me telling me her stories in the gentle, easy way that she alone can do. She is still my inspiration today.

We both live in the Central Valley of California, so I'm curious: What is your favorite spot to visit here? Marie: Living in the central valley here in California we are very blessed to be so close to Yosemite. I love to go there as much as I can and when my family and visitors from Ireland come over, that is the place they all want to see. It is a different world up there; a beautiful serene world.

If you could only offer once piece of advice to an aspiring writer, what would it be? 
Marie: My best piece of advice for any aspiring writer is to stop talking about writing a book and just get started today! Keep at it. It will take time but it will all be worth it once it is complete.

What will you be working on in the future? 
Marie: I am working on my fourth Irish Novel, “Paddy Joe and His Sisters” I am also writing some short stories for online publications.

About the Author
My name is Marie O’ Byrne and I was born and reared in a small fishing village called Greystones, in County Wicklow, Ireland, the seventh child in a large family of thirteen. I had a fantastic childhood growing up with all my sister and brothers and all my memories are happy ones. We spent many nights sitting around the fire in our cottage with our parents and Aunts and Uncles telling stories.

I left Ireland in 1984 to move to Vermont, USA with my husband and two children. While in Vermont I had two more children and attended Vermont State College. We moved to California in 2003.
I have written three Irish Novels. The Cart Full of Holly, Lavender Fields and Evening Rose. They all take place in County Wicklow. All books are available as E-Books.

I love to receive feedback from my readers and there is a guestbook on my website.

To learn more about Marie and to buy her novels, visit her Official Website

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Congratulations, Ellen Mansoor Collier, on releasing the third installment in the Jazz Age Mystery Series - following the first two installments, Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play and Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets. I'm really looking forward to reading this one over the summer - and I know you guys will enjoy it, too. Here's all of the information on the book. Be sure to pick it up on Amazon today - it's a steal! 

During Prohibition in 1920s Galveston, the Island was called the "Free State of Galveston" due to its lax laws and laissez faire attitude toward gambling, girls and bootlegging. Young society reporter Jasmine (Jazz) Cross longs to cover hard news, but she's stuck between two clashing cultures: the world of gossip and glamour vs. gangsters and gamblers.

After Downtown Gang leader Johnny Jack Nounes is released from jail, all hell breaks loose: Prohibition Agent James Burton’s life is threatened and he must go into hiding for his own safety. But when he’s framed for murder, he and Jazz must work together to prove his innocence. Johnny Jack blames Jasmine’s half-brother Sammy Cook, owner of the Oasis speakeasy, for his arrest and forces him to work overtime in a variety of dangerous mob jobs as punishment.

When a bookie is murdered, Jazz looks for clues linking the two murders and delves deeper into the underworld of gambling: poker games, slot machines and horse-racing. Meanwhile, Jazz tries to keep both Burton and her brother safe, and alive, while they face off against a common enemy.

Check out the special excerpt from Gamblers, Gold-Diggers and Guns: 

At the Rusty Bucket, I followed close behind, pretending I was a real crime reporter, looking straight ahead so the police and newshounds wouldn’t try to shut me out.
Sure enough, a couple of cops tried to block my way but I simply replied, “I’m with the Gazette,” as if that explained everything. When we entered the bar, I noticed obvious signs of a struggle: tables and chairs knocked over, broken glasses, papers strewn about. Right by the front door, in all its gleaming glory, sat a brand-new nickel slot machine, a one-armed bandit displaying diamonds, spades, hearts, horseshoes and a cracked Liberty bell.  
A huddle of newshawks stared at the floor and I could see the figure of a man, lying by the new machine, arms at odd angles, but I was too far away to determine his cause of death.
“Coming through,” Nathan said, forcing his way into the circle . Edging closer, I could barely make out the victim’s face—a plain man in his mid-forties, sandy hair, freckled skin.
As I changed positions, I saw a huge gaping hole in his skull, hair caked with blood and bone. My stomach lurched and I covered my mouth with both hands, trying not to upchuck.
By the man’s side lay a bloodied baseball bat—the weapon of choice for thugs and cowards and enforcers who liked to use threats and intimidation to make their point. Why would the killers leave the bloody baseball bat in plain sight, next to the victim?
Across the room, Mack stared at me, stone-faced, with an “I told you so” glare. Feeling dizzy, I made my way across the room and sat down at a small table by the piano. No one seemed to notice as I went behind the counter, searching the ice-box for water. I gulped it down, then pressed the frosty glass against my perspiring face, enjoying the cool sensation.
Still shaky, I sat down at the table, observing the crime scene from a safe distance: the reporters taking notes, badgering the sheriff for information, an M.E. squatting by the body, taking samples of hair and blood. That’s when I saw it, half-hidden under the player piano bench: An almost-new Stetson, slightly scuffed, with a clean bullet hole in the crown.
Was I hallucinating or was that Agent Burton’s Stetson under the player piano? And what in hell was it doing at this murder scene?
Copyright 2014 Ellen Mansoor Collier 

Grab it on Kindle today! (And coming soon on B&N and Smashwords!)

About the Author 

Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer and editor whose articles and essays have been published in a variety of national magazines. Several of her short stories have appeared in Woman's World. During college summers, she worked as a reporter for a Houston community newspaper and as a cocktail waitress, both jobs providing background experience for her Jazz Age mysteries. A flapper at heart, she's worked as a magazine editor/writer, and in advertising and public relations (plus endured a hectic semester as a substitute teacher).
She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism and served on UTmost, the college magazine and as president of WICI (Women in Communications). FLAPPERS, FLASKS AND FOUL PLAY is her first novel, published in 2012, followed by the sequel, BATHING BEAUTIES, BOOZE AND BULLETS, released in May 2013. She lives in Houston with her husband and Chow mutts, and visits Galveston whenever possible. 

Author Links

Monday, May 19, 2014

Jessica Khoury discusses ORIGIN and VITRO

Jessica Khoury is on top of the world. Well, the world of Young Adult fiction, at least. Her novel, Origin, was released in 2012, and she has gained acclaim from both readers and critics. I originally came across this book on the shelf in Barnes & Noble, and I was so intrigued that I contacted Jessica to see if she would be willing to visit Writing Belle and discuss her work. Lucky for us - she was! She graciously took the time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions, and to give us the deets to the novel that she released this year, Vitro - a companion novel to Origin. 

Origin. From the cover design to the premise, I love the idea of this book. Where did your inspiration come from? 
Origin began as a bolt-of-lightning idea that struck me one day as I was taking a walk. An image came into my mind of a girl named Pia trapped by glass walls and surrounded by jungle, and I was so entranced by her that I asked myself questions about her until the entire story came together in my mind. Then I turned around, ran home, and began writing the first chapter that day.

Immortality. It's a popular dream! What is Pia's motivation? What makes her such a riveting heroine? 
At the beginning of the story, Pia's motivation is to create more immortals like herself, because her greatest fear is that one day everyone she loves will die while she lives on forever. But her motivation begins to shift when she starts to question how her immortality came about, and what the true cost of living forever is--especially when she falls in love with a mortal.

Pia's world changes when she meets Eio. Tell us a little about him - I'm sure he makes the story much more interesting! *wink* 
Eio is basically like a young Tarzan, who grew up running wild in the jungle. He's very energetic and loves to show off, and likes nothing more than to take Pia to new places in the jungle and share his world with her.

Now for some writing questions. What was your journey to publication like? How did you get interested in writing? 
I have wanted to be a writer since I was four years old, and it seems everything in my life has lead to writing. I wrote a few novels before Origin that did not sell, but which helped me learn to become a better writer. After I wrote Origin, I found a literary agent who sold it to Penguin, a process which took about a week after we spent a month editing the manuscript.

Who inspires you as a writer? What do you enjoy reading and watching? I really love everything sci-fi and fantasy, and am a huge fan of shows like Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, and Orphan Black. There are two writers whom I look up to as inspiration: Robin Hobb and Lois McMaster Bujold. Both are women who write incredibly complex, poignant books in the mostly male-dominated genre of sci-fi and fantasy, and whose books I read over and over again!

Advice! What tips can you offer novelists who write in your genre? 
When writing science fiction, it's important to do your research! Always assume your reader is smarter than you are (and believe me, many of them are!) So it pays to double check your sources, get your facts, and talk to experts.

Vitro - your most recent novel - released last October. Can you briefly summarize it for us? 
Vitro is the story of a girl named Sophie Crue, who dreams of reuniting with her mother. For most of Sophie's life, her mom has worked on a secret island in the South Pacific for Corpus, the same biotech company that created Pia in Origin. When Sophie gets an email from her mother telling her that there's been an emergency and she needs Sophie's help, Sophie risks everything to find her. But when she arrives on the island where her mother works, instead of finding her mom, she finds a scientifically enhanced twin of herself named Lux, whom she never knew existed. Now Sophie must discover who Lux is and why her mother has been lying to her all her life.

About the Author 

Jessica Khoury is 23 years old and was born and raised in Georgia. She attended public school followed by homeschooling, and earned her bachelor's degree in English from Toccoa Falls College. She lives in Toccoa, Georgia with her husband Benjamin, two terrible dogs, and an abundance of books, shoes, and sweet tea. When not writing, she's usually directing stageplays or coaching soccer. Origin is her first novel.

Author Links:

Monday, May 12, 2014

Relinquish by Amy Thompson (Upcoming New Adult Release)

Relinquish (Lost Souls #2) 
Author: Amy Thompson
Release: June 17th, 2014

Regan had a life in Georgia. She was going to school, managed to make some friends, and even found a new love interest in Colter. So what happens when she can’t hide what she is anymore? When do all the lies become too much to handle? And how much longer can she hold onto her sanity, when Agro pushes her closer and closer to the edge of no return, her ascension to Elite?
Colter is beautifully oblivious. Wanting so much to believe that Regan is safe and Agro was halted, he ignores Finn’s constant skepticism at the risk of their friendship. Ignoring what is so clearly right in front of him, Colter passes off Regan’s outbursts of emotion on her recent trauma. Colter can feel Regan, his one exception to his retribution, slipping out of his arms, but fighting her to stay with him may not be an option.
With Colter and Finn at odds, and the newly formed alliance between Kaiden and Exile Max, will this group of Collectors be enough to fight off the new enemies and old threats that emerge in the battle for souls when Regan is broken and their group is on the brink of self-destruction?
The lost will be found, the Collectors will be exiled, and the Elites will reign.

Author Bio
Amy Thompson graduated from Randolph-Macon College with her B.S. in Biology. She currently works as a high school mentor and has just earned her M.S. in Higher Education from Drexel University. Amy is a self-published author of Retribution, a new adult paranormal romance novel that is the first in the Lost Souls trilogy. She lives in Southern Virginia with her family and two lazy cats. Amy Thompson is currently working on the next book in the Lost Souls trilogy, Relinquish and continues to be an avid reader of all things books.
 Author/Book Pages

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

DEAD GIRL WALKING: New Release by Ruth Silver (And Giveaway)

a Young Adult Paranormal Adventure
published by Patchwork Press
Dead Girl Walking
Forget everything you know about grim reapers.
Princess Ophelia Dacre sneaks out of the castle to visit her boyfriend in secret. A perfect night cut short when she’s brutally murdered.
Ophelia is given the rare chance to become a grim reaper. She must become Leila Bele, cut ties with her old life, and follow the rules of the reapers. Her greatest adventure begins with death.
“Forget everything you know about grim reapers, Ophelia. Humans have it wrong. It’s easier to believe in angels and demons, than to see what’s right in front of you. Who wants to believe the undead walk among us with beating hearts? It would frighten humans. It would probably send many to their graves faster,” Edon said.
Ruth Silver author photo
About the Author: Ruth Silver is the best-selling author of ABERRANT, a young adult dystopian adventure series published by Patchwork Press and Lazy Day Publishing. Silver attended Northern Illinois University and graduated with a Bachelor's in Communication in the spring of 2005. While in college, she spent much of her free time writing with friends she met online and penning her first novel, Deuces are Wild, which she self-published in 2004. Her love of writing led her on an adventure in 2007 to Melbourne, Australia. Silver enjoys reading, photography, traveling and most of all writing. She loves dystopian, paranormal, and fantasy young adult stories. Ruth has been actively writing since she was a teenager. She currently resides in Plainfield, Illinois.
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads

Friday, May 2, 2014

State of Emergency - Revised Edition 99 Cent Sale!

On January 18th, 2013, State of Emergency was first released into the world. It became a bestseller, and so far has spawned three more installments in a hit series! To celebrate the upcoming release of State of Pursuit (Collapse Series #4), State of Emergency will be available on Kindle for 99 cents from May 2nd-May 9th. I rarely do promotions, but I thought, "Why not?" It's a way to say thank you to all of my readers - because I appreciate every single one of you!! 

The version that launched today is a newly revised, 2014 edition of the book. It wouldn't have been possible without the help of many wonderful people along the way, including Ellen Mansoor Collier, the author of the Jazz Age Mystery Series
If you're new to the series, here is the synopsis for State of Emergency
What would you do if the world as you know it ended in an instant? 
How far would you go to survive?
Cassidy Hart is your typical high school graduate: a little shy, a little sarcastic, and a little naive. But when an electromagnetic pulse takes down the United States, she's forced to kick into full survival mode when she gets separated from her father. 
Yeah. Things suck. 
But with the help of a handsome soldier named Chris, she just might find her father without getting into serious trouble. Emphasis on might. 
Oh. And there's the matter of avoiding getting killed in a world that's quickly turned into an active war zone. 
It's going to change Cassidy's life. 
It's going to be a major pain in the butt. 
Grab it on Kindle today!