Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Almost Over!

There are only  few short hours left on this silent auction, featuring a signed book and other swag products based on Fat Chance, the first book in the Kingsley Series! Get your silent bid in before it's too late!
So far? The highest bid is currently $34.50 US, payable by paypal. This auction is open to anyone and is international. Shipping is included in your bid, and 25% of the proceeds go to fight bullying by way of a donation to Pacer's National Bullying Prevention Center.
Get in on this before the time runs out!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Review: Amanda Heath's 'Norma Jean'

Lately I've been adding things here and there to my regular schedule. I've been adding things to Facebook, such updating all of you on my weekly word count progess on Wednesdays, and recognizing a Fan of the Week every Saturday. Here on the blog, I've been doing weekly (except for a week or two I missed) PicPrompts. I've also been adding reviews and taking part in a few blog tours for other authors. It's been really fun, expanding my little world in this way, reaching out and meeting other authors and bloggers.

One of those bloggers brought a certain book to my attention last week, asking if I'd be interested in reading and reviewing the book here for you to see, and of course, I agreed because I love books and I love blogging, so why not blog about some books, hmmm?

And without further ado,


The Book Blurb Says:
*****
The night Chance Duncan drunkenly kissed me on his couch, I vowed my revenge. I finally had something over his head, something that would bring him to his knees. It only served him right. He bullied me for years and turned me into this messed up person I am now.


Though I didn't know at the time he wasn't that mean little boy anymore. He was almost a man and easily stole my breath away. I just wanted to make him fall in love with me, then break his heart into a million pieces. Just the way mine was. Instead he put the pieces back together and I started to feel whole again.

Good things never last. He did what I was supposed to do. Broke my already fragile heart all over again. Betrayed and alone I fled my home town and started a new life where I wasn't in the shadow of what I did. 

Now he is back and trying to worm his way into my heart, again. Though he will never know it will always belong to him. He hurt me and I want nothing to do with him. Life has other plans. Doesn't it always?

He doesn’t know though. Doesn’t know what I’m hiding or who I’m hiding from. I never thought I would see Chance again and I’m afraid that he’ll get hurt getting mixed up in my mess. Though he is right in the middle of it, without even knowing it. I have to find a way for us to get out, before somebody dies.


My name is Norma Jean and this isn't a fairytale.


My Review of Norma Jean
*****
Norma Jean is your average angsty teenager, with a personal history of pain. She suffered from horrific acne in her younger years and at the hands of a guy named Chance, she suffered some serious emotional scarring. Obviously, Norma and Chance don't get along well. But throughout the book, you watch Norma and Chance grow closer to each other, eventually beginning to date and maybe even fall in love ... but is it all a sham? Norma has set her heart on revenge, but will her plan backfire? She gets her way, and Chance falls in love with her. This would be great, if she hadn't fallen in love with him too, if her plan hadn't blown up in her face.

There's a lot going on in this book, with tons of supporting characters (some have said too many), and each one has their own personal backstory. As a writer myself, I can't imagine how Ms. Heath manages all these characters without getting them confused!! Still, if you can keep your focus on the main characters, it's a story with a lot of meat to it. This book touches on bullying, domestic violence and rape. For those of you who need even more than that, there's also a touch of suspense, in the form of an unexpected psycho who tosses the story into chaos and forces Norma to stand on her own, facing the difficulties from her past, the horror in her present, and the fear that she may have messed up her future.

This book has a lot of drama, and there's a ton going on, but as I said before, if you can keep your focus on the main characters and the sugary-sweet romantic lines sprinkled throughout the story, you'll find a decent few hours between the covers of Norma Jean.


A Message From Amanda:
*****
I love that Ms. Heath takes the time in her Acknowledgements to thank her readers, whether they are lasting fans or not. She says, "I can't thank y'all enough for buying this book and reading. Whether you enjoy it or not. You took a chance on me and I'm so honored that you did."


Isn't that sweet???
Doesn't it make you just wanna follow her
all over the web and be her biggest new fan?
If it does, you're in luck.
She's on:
Facebook / Blogger / Goodreads / Twitter

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Release The Beast, A PicPrompt

Please be aware that ALL of this writing is copyright protected as my own creative content, and NO PART of any post/story may be reproduced, copied or used in 
ANY WAY, ANYWHERE, at ANY TIME.


Photo courtesy of  nixxphotography | freedigitialphotos.net
Release The Beast
copyright 2013, Brandi Kennedy

*****

He'd done it for the last time. He'd taken from me for the last time. He'd hurt me for the last time. And I was
FINISHED
with hurting over the lies and the loss.
I was over it, in a way I'd never felt before.


I stalked him quietly as he walked. We'd been at my house, talking for hours. Fighting for hours. I'd confronted him again, asking him about the other girl, about the parties and all the lies. And he'd lied to me again, looking plainly into my face, as if that could save him. He'd disrespected me for the last time, treating me like a blind fool who couldn't see the truth in the black abyss of his lies. I'd sent him away, screaming for him to leave, afraid of what might happen to him if he denied it again.

I'd given him an escape, sending him away.

And seeing the smirk as he strutted down my driveway, I changed my mind. I changed. I watched him walk as I stood in my living room and stripped away the clothes that helped me appear human. Closing my eyes, I allowed the beast within me to take me over, to come to the forefront. My fingers grew longer, claws ripping through my fingertips. My skin trembled, hair springing forth as the change came over me, as the beast was released. And then I followed him.

He turned, feeling the heat of my anger burning into him. The fire was a warning to him, as it would be to all humans; when they felt it, they'd walk faster, stop talking, and try to disappear. He did it too, walking a little faster and tucking his neck down into his shoulders, his instinct to protect himself, to look out for his own back.

He didn't know what was coming.

He didn't know I was coming.

Creeping along behind him, I waited until he crossed the sidewalk and stepped into the street. Growling softly, I padded closer, watching him as he turned to look at me. I smelled the fear and as I approached, I smelled the urine. Pulling my lips back in what would have been my human smile, I bared my teeth, loving the scent of his racing blood. He froze, and my chest rumbled, a vicious snarl tumbling out of me while the human inside me laughed at his cowardice.

And then I let go of my inner beast completely.

I lunged forward, my claws scrambling for purchase on the asphalt as he turned clumsily to run, falling into the street and trying to scoot away from me in an awkward crab-walk. There was no hope for him, there was no escape. He'd been offered his final chance, and humankind could do without his vicious disrespect.

Landing heavily on his chest, I threw him back, snarling again as his head his the pavement. He grunted, turning his head against the pain, not realizing that in doing so he bared his throat to me. So many times as a human, I'd kissed that same throat, loving the rumble of pleasure that would flow out of him like liquid sex. So many times I'd grazed him with my teeth, loving the way he trembled under my touch. Not this time.

This time, I dug my claws into him, holding him with the weight of my beast and the strength of my paws. I licked his face, tasting the tears of his pathetic fear. And when I nuzzled his throat for the last time, I growled a soft goodbye.

When my jaws clenched tight, sinking teeth into the tender flesh of his throat, he finally screamed, and I silenced his cry as he had silenced all of mine, with a quick and final shake of my head. He gurgled as the blood flowed into the street, puddling around him. His eyes watched me, confused as I crept along the length of his struggling body, biting and clawing deliberately, opening his flesh and spilling his blood.

Before it was over, I crept over and sat beside him, whining softy to bring his eyes to mine. I commanded the beast back, allowing the change to touch my eyes, bringing out the green he would recognize even in the face of the beast. He knew me; he shuddered and gurgled, reaching one hand weakly out to me. Snapping viciously, I ripped his hand open, and as he jerked it back to his chest, crying desperately, I turned and left him.

Alone.
Like me.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Interview? Yes, Please.

I recently celebrated my four-month "anniversary" as a published author, and tomorrow makes one week since Prescription For Love, my third novel, went live on Amazon Kindle. I still can't believe how much my life has been impacted by this journey.

Thus far, my most successful effort in writing has been the publication of Fat Chance. Cass began her journey as a woman devastated by suicidal self-hatred, and Fat Chance follows Cass as she learns to be strong and confident. We watch her grow confident enough to allow herself to be loved. We watch her learn to stand on her own two feet, we watch her gain the confidence to stand up to people who are determined to take her down. We watch her learn to be who she is, and then we watch her learn to genuinely love who she is.

I'm not sure I'll ever forget the first time someone reached out to me to tell me how much Cass meant to her. It wasn't even a fat girl!! She was actually very thin and had struggled with her own small size all her life. Even with the typical "extra" pounds that stick around once we have our babies, this woman is still small. Two children later, she may actually be able to buy something in the adult women's section instead of the teenager department. She's a stunning woman and a spectacular person, but she related to the body and confidence issues in Fat Chance because body issues are universal. Fat or small, short or tall, we all have our doubts. We all have our insecurities, and she was no exception. She said:

"I don't think you realize the powerful book you wrote. I never struggled with being overweight, but I did struggled with being extremely thin. I was made fun of and had cruel jokes thrown my way. Like if I went to the restroom people joked that I was probably going to throw my food up. It was bad. I was very self conscious about the way I looked, the clothes I wore. So I had some of the same struggles just opposite and it (Fat Chance) was so hard to read at times because it reminded me of my struggle. My saving grace was my husband ... He saw beauty in me like no other."

It's strange, in the most perfectly perfect way, to be having people reach out to me in that way. It's strange to feel like I have something that's valuable in that way, something that other women would want a piece of. But it's also one of the most emotional and amazing experiences of my life. I can remember times when I just knew I'd never be "a writer," though I realize now that I have always been a writer. I can remember times, as recently as a year ago, when I was terrified, scared to death ... because I knew by then, knew with all of my heart that I wanted needed to be "an author." But then I release To Love A Selkie, just over four months ago, and I'd done it. Finally, at 28-almost-29 years old, I was an author.

And then there was the fear.
"Would it be okay?"
"Would everyone love it, or hate it?"
"Would anyone like it?"
And then,
"Was that all I had?"

I was terrified that I'd be one of those people who really didn't have "it," one of those people who'd written a book just so that they could say they had. Even lower than a "one hit wonder," because that would have required To Love A Selkie to be an instant success, and it wasn't. Not to mention the tragic romance in To Love A Selkie gave me a good healthy terror of the review process, and it made me nearly paralyzed with fear as it came time to release Fat Chance to the public. But it went so much better than I ever dreamed. Comments like the one quoted above mean the world to me, they are things that I actually save to look back on, things that I keep in the little places of my heart. Still, I didn't ever picture them coming in regularly,
but they are. Another woman said:

"I can tell you unabashedly. Fat Chance moved me in a way you will never know. Reading Cass's story was like reading parts of myself, so so many of her thoughts resonated with me deep into my soul. Although I am married and have two kids and my health, I still feel like Cass some days on the inside."

I can't even express how much all of this means to me. But (through my blog posts and my characters) I can try. I can tell you about my personal journey with self-confidence, and I can share little bits of who I am with the people who reach out to me. I can be open and honest about my experiences, and I can keep myself accessible (even if I am a little slow on the email replies).

But in the meantime, I'm staying active, and I'm reaching back to people who have reached out to me.
Today, you can find a guest post that I wrote, expressing some of my own thoughts on every woman's journey to self-confidence, AND an extensive interview between myself and Jodie, one of two very fabulous lady bloggers over at Fab, Fun, & Tantalizing Reads. Jodie asked some really deep and meaningful questions, so go on over and check out our really fun conversation!
Also ... there's a giveaway. Because we love you.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Silent Auction

When I thought of this idea, it took me a while to decide what charity to attach it to. I wanted the auction for pay for itself (swag, book, shipping, etc) but I also hoped to use the auction as a chance to give something back to the people around me.

I spent days (literally) looking into charities that dealt with depression and mental health because the first thing I thought of, in conjunction with Fat Chance, was her depression due to her crushing lack of self confidence. Unfortunately, there just aren't a ton of charities specializing in teaching women to be more confident simply because we're worth it - and a sense of confidence and self worth isn't always attached as to the suffering of depression as it maybe should be.

So, even though Cass did suffer a suicidal degree of depression, it was only because she lacked a strong belief in her own self-worth, and that meant I couldn't really use a mental health charity. Not in good conscience, not knowing depression as well as I do, not knowing that it's so much more complicated than this post makes it sound.

Hmm. So, what to do??

Thinking back through Cass's story while on the phone with my cousin (and editor) really helped me. She said, "You know, Cass dealt with a lot of bullying too, even as an adult. She had several people in her life that took pleasure from taking her down. Maybe you can look at it from that angle."

That was a lightbulb moment for me. Later in that conversation she suggested a few other things, but honestly, the idea of bullying struck me so close to home that I can't remember any of the other suggestions.

The next step was to get online and have a look at what charities there are that actually take steps to fight bullying. There are lots of possibilities, including the WWE Be A STAR program, which is an amazing program that allows communities to pull together and help teach kids how much simple words can hurt. Often, WWE stars are involved with this also, speaking in schools and rallies across the country to remind kids that they can hurt each other in very real ways simply by speaking or acting in certain ways, and that bullying is wrong. They sometimes share their own experiences growing up to drive the point home.

There are other charities too, that help communities come together in their efforts to help fight the ugliness of bullying. But for this particular auction, Cass and I are going with the Pacer National Bullying Prevention Center, a 510(c)3 non-profit that helps to fight the overwhelming number of bullies in the world by helping the underdog to find his own power and learn to stand on his own. This is another company that reaches out into communities all over the country, speaking out against bullying through the efforts of community leaders, teenagers and even younger children. With an impressive history of strong outreach, donations to this charity will help to provide anti-bullying resources to the right places, and encouragement to those who can help the cause.

In that light, what I'm giving to this auction seems a little small. It's just a book.

But, it's a book about a girl weakened and broken by the hurtful things people have said to her. It's a book about a woman who (with some help) finds the inner strength to move on, to stand strong, to believe in her own worth, and eventually, to find love.

In addition to a signed copy of that book (Fat Chance, book one in the Kingsley Series) today's auction winner will receive a signed 4x8 Fat Chance bookmark, a 2x6 Fat Chance bookmark, and a bumper sticker for your car, to help you spread the word about Cass and her stuggles.

At the time of this posting, the top bid is $34.00 US, and 25% of what I make in this auction will be donated directly to the Pacer National Bullying Prevention Program. (The rest will go to shipping costs and such.)

Will you help? With assurance of your privacy, enter your silent bid below.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Hard At Work

With the release of Prescription For Love, I've crossed a project off my 'to-do' list. Now that she's out in the world, walking around with that gorgeous curly hair and her heart out for all the world to see, it's Cameron Kingsley's turn to fly.

Which leaves me with four active projects to work on.

That's right. Four.

I can't tell you about all of them yet, but you know I've been working on some extensions for To Love A Selkie, reading through to bring Annie and Malik back into the forefront of my mind and prepping the story for part two, which I'm currently writing. To Become A Selkie is set to release in the summer of 2013, but there's an extra special deal in it for all of you.

Both books will be "boxed" together and sold as one, under the title "Selkie". And I simply cannot wait to show you the rest of the story. I know that cliffhanger was, apparently, a killer.

Another project I'm working on is called Fighting For Freedom, and I haven't talked much about it here yet because I'm pretty sure Selkie is going to be my next release. However, Fighting For Freedom is moving along progressively, so I suppose we'll see which story speaks to me more urgently until one is finished.


Now, for the sake of disclosure, I will confess that I do still have two other projects in the works, one of which is the third book in the Kingsley Series, but it is in third place right now as far as progress goes, and therefore is not part of the race. I expect it to release in late summer or fall, but that's definitely flexible depending on how the characters speak to me. Also, I must take a minute to thank the fans who participated in naming the main man for Wrestling Harmony, book three in the Kingsley Series. Thanks to all your participation, you will be meeting a hottie named Xander Harrison later this year.

That other project? Number four? Yeah, it's still a secret.

Sorry.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Into The Light Blog Tour with HK Savage


Today I'm hanging out with HK Savage, the author of The Admiral's Elite. Book one was Second Sight (LOVED it), and book two is Into the Light. HK was kind enough to gift me with copies of both books, and only for my little opinion, isn't that the sweetest thing ever?!? Keep reading and you'll find a blurb, a review of Into The Light, an interview with HK, and a spotlight ... Not to mention, there's an awesome giveaway, so don't forget to enter!

And now, on to the fun stuff.

*****
Isn't this cover beautiful?
For those who haven't read Second Sight, you can find it for your Kindle here. Into The Light is book two in the Admiral's Elite series, and the series is Adult Paranormal.

About The Book:
A vicious serial killer is on the loose in Wisconsin and it's up to the Admiral's Elite to stop him. Admiral Black's second in command, Captain Michael Rossi, has been tasked with finding out who or what the killer is and put an end to his reign of bloodshed while avoiding some pitfalls of his own. Like hiding the fact that he's falling in love with Becca from the admiral who would be sure to use it against them. Ghosts from Gabrielle's past threaten her place with her unit and Ryan's bed.

Local police are puzzled and the town is terrified. The Admiral's Elite must find a killer, stop him without anyone finding out their true identities, and not be torn apart in the process.

*****
My Review of the Book:
I read Second Sight in just over two days, breezing through it effortlessly. I loved the characters, I loved the plot, I loved the story. Have I mentioned love? Because I loved it.

So of course, I was really looking forward to reading Into the Light, and I'll confess I was terribly disappointed in one thing. As soon as I opened the file to read it, I discovered that it's a bit shorter than the first book, which saddened me because I'd been looking forward to more of the characters. Still, that initial sadness was quickly forgotten as I dug into the plot and remembered my love for the characters. The vulnerability of both Michael and Becca was endearing, especially in light of Michael's impeccable strength. I loved watching him lose himself in Becca, and I loved the side story with Gabrielle and Ryan also.


Another confession: I hate the Admiral. He's really coming off as a giant ass, and is definitely not my favorite character. I think I may even have like the wendigo better than the Admiral, if that says anything.


Which it will, once you've read the book. And you have to, because it's A+ awesome. I loved it, and I love the obvious effort the author put into crafting the storyline. It's an amazing job, and now I'll be watching for the third book in the serious to come out. I can't wait to see what happens next with Ryan and Gabrielle, Michael and Becca, and yes, even the wretched Admiral.


I'm giving the book four stars, and you need to know that this is a very high four stars! Paranormal isn't usually my reading genre, but the brilliance of HK Savage is a part of my conversion, for sure. There's a certain unique special-ness that never fades from relationships like the ones in this book, no matter how many other books are doing it, because there's an entirely new level of effort required to relate to each other. And whether you read paranormal or not, I promise this series is well worth your time.


And there's my two cents.


*****

Now, an interview with the awesome author herself!

Brandi: HK, thank you so much for stopping by to chat with me!! But I have to ask, what made you want to write? Is there a specific moment or memory you want to tell us about?

HK: I've always loved making up stories. I'm not really sure why. When I was a kid we moved a lot and it left me to my own devices often. I guess that's why I got tight with my local librarians and when Mom couldn't get me to someone else's stories I made up my own.

Brandi: I know that feeling well! What inspired you to write your first book?

HK: Ah the recession. I worked in print advertising and our clients were banks. Yep, you guessed it. In 2008 I was laid off and I don't like to sit around so I thought I'd try to get a story out. I wrote 5 books that year, three were my Empath Trilogy, then Life Blood, and The Path. In 2011 I decided to open the doors to my own small publishing company to combine what I knew of the writing world with the advertising jungle I'd been in for 10 years.

Brandi: That must have been quite an experience for you. In your writing, do you have a specific writing style?

HK: Do you mean how do I come up with this stuff? I go for a walk, listen to music, then sit down to write. That's how I write for a few hours in the morning. At night, after everyone else is in bed, I hit it for a few more hours. Oddly I do my best dark scenes at night.

Brandi: Not so odd, maybe. Dark hours, dark writing. It fits. Do you use an outline when you're working, or do you just sort of go with the flow? And if you do use an outline, how strictly do you follow it?

HK: I've tried doing outlines but my characters don't listen to me any better than anyone else around here. At first I tried to map things out but I quickly learned that when you develop characters (I write up backstories for each main character to get to know them) then put them in a situation, they tend to take over. I've now gotten to where I write until the thought runs its course then I wait, mull over where everyone is, and come back the next day and they're off to the races again. Of course the first draft is always a little rough and when I go back through I layer in more detail, foreshadowing, etc. I'm always surprised when I think "oh, I should put something in there about this" and I look back and I did. It makes me feel brilliant (for a few minutes anyway until I see that I misspelled something basic like apple).

Brandi: I've had that happen myself! Tell me this: what books/authors have influenced your writing?

HK: I love Edgar Allen Poe. He was so dark and disturbed, I think it speaks to everyone's dark side. Also, as a Psychology and Religion major I am always interested in what motivates people so John Douglas (FBI's premiere profiler) has some amazing books that explain a lot about the human condition. Also Jack London because he was my favorite as a kid. Really I read almost anything you put in front of me except chick lit and even that my friend (a devoted chick lit fan) continues to expose me to once in a while if it's really good.

Brandi: What books/authors have most influenced you, not as a writer, but as a person?

HK: As a person? I think it's hard to separate these two questions because what we write is a lot of who we are. Sure, not that paranormal writers are or want to be fanged or furry, but the things we wonder about, talk about, and see every day do come out in our writing. The monsters I write about are characterizations of stories in the news outlining the cruelty we are capable of doing to one another. Also, the heroes I write about are the plain people who do great things because they have to and also those who modestly go on saving us but stay in the background while glory hounds jump in and point out how fabulous they are. That said, Dumas' The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask, The Tale of Two Cities speak to my love of political intrigue (I don't like politics but intrigue and deception are wonderful to untangle), Don Quixote was lovely for finding humor in the every day and making adventure of nothing, and The Scarlet Pimpernel I fell in love with in the 7th grade when I met a hero who hid behind a mask even from from his wife allowing her to think him a fool to keep safe the secrets of others. Those concepts fascinate me as a person so I guess they come out in my writing as well. 

Brandi: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

HK: I have some writers who I am finding myself going back to in my spare time and rereading their series' two and three times. Those would be Julie Ann Walker and Kristen Ashley. They're both contemporary romance and very adult. I guess what I love about them is the flow of their writing, I feel like I'm talking to a friend and having a laugh out loud good time. For me and where I'm at in my busy life I think that's essential. If I don't get some good laughs in, I'm a cranky bear so I love these two for what they give me.

Brandi: What book are you reading now, and what do you like or dislike about it so far?

HK: I am in the series by Camilla Chafer, the Lexi Graves Mysteries. They're hilarious, her observations and views on life as she goes along are phrased in such a way I'm having a fun time reading them. They're light, they're easy, and I find hours disappear for me when I'm reading them. I don't like how superficial the characters are. Even when the main character has something big happening for her she doesn't really feel it like most people would. In that way I find it hard to relate to her. Then again, some people are shallow so maybe that's how she is (character, not the writer. I'm sure the author is a hoot). I don't know.

Brandi: It's funny how characters differ in depth the same way actual people do. Can you name one person from your life that you feel has really supported you?

HK: My husband. I know that's cliche but when I got laid off he was in a position to tell me to take my time finding what I wanted to do and he's been willing to sacrifice things so that I could take this little adventure. He also likes for us to be together a lot and go to bed at the same time. After a few nights of my noisy typing in bed he was more than willing to give up bedtime together in favor of me staying up and coming to bed when I'm ready. Weekends are his though and we've been able to strike a pretty decent balance.

Brandi: Ah, the elusive "balance." I find that to be challenging sometimes as well. As an author myself, I can testify to how scary the review process can be, putting your work out there for others to critique. How you do deal with it, and have there been any reviews (good or bad) that still stick with you today?

HK: I'm actually a very shy person and don't like putting myself out there. Writing is great for an introvert like me. Signings? Marketing (other people are easy, my own work is very hard to talk about)? Opening up my guts enough to let my characters really explore the depths of their experience? That is very hard. I have to write thinking "no one will see this but me" or I find myself censoring my work. For example, when I wrote my new series, The Admiral's Elite, I'd decided to go adult. Now it's not erotica like every 5 pages they're getting down and dirty, but there are some graphic scenes in there and I've been told the sexual tension is "wow". When I wrote them I deleted them several times thinking I couldn't put that out there. It wasn't until a reviewer turned friend, Tif Olson from Paranormal Book Club, read the two books and laughingly helped me to type "those words" into my book I got the courage to do it. And if the feedback and sales are to be believed, I've done the right thing. These are my best sellers yet, but more importantly, I'm hearing it's my best work. Me, I don't know I love all of my characters like children. Even the bad guys I kind of feel bad for. Reviews that stick with me? Yes, I had someone say I was fabulous once and my husband called me "brilliant". Yes, brilliant. I've been known to use this in an argument a time or two with him as to why I should prevail. Oddly it doesn't carry much weight when I do. Oh well.

Brandi: I can relate to having issues with "those words" in writing. I seem to write everything under the knowledge that "my GRANDMOTHER is going to see this!" Can you tell me anything about your current project?

HK: I'm working on a follow up to The Path (adult PNR due out late 2014), book 3 of The Admiral's Elite (due out 2014), and Blood Bound (contemporary romance due out August 2013)

HK was kind enough to give an excerpt from the text of Blood Bound!
Find it here.

Brandi: Do you have any advice for other writers?

HK: Keep writing. Yep, we all say the same thing but it's true. You can't help but get better if you keep doing it. Also, listen to what people say (provided it's constructive criticism we can all learn from what others see in our work). And get a good editor. We get submissions all the time that are so hard to read we end up getting hired to edit the job, even when it's going to be sent off to another publisher or perspective agent after us. No one is perfect, even an editor, but trust me when I say you can't edit your own work. My early stuff was not edited nearly to the level my new stuff is and I credit that directly to my current staff of fantastic editors. Oh, and covers. Nothing says "I did this myself" like a photoshopped cover. Get a good cover designer. And not all of them are hundreds of dollars. We have some at Staccato and that I know personally who we freelance with when our staff is busy who are less than $100! 

Brandi: Thanks for the advice. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

HK: I love you. Really, I do. Because I love to write and talk about books and when I get fan mail or meet someone at a convention or signing and we get to talk about books (even if they're not mine which I kind of prefer) I love to do it. Readers love other readers and when we get together it's always fun. It doesn't hurt that when they buy my books I get to buy more tea which fuels my next book and I love that too. 

There you have it folks, the awesome HK Savage!!!!
Thanks, HK for sitting in with me and taking the time to answer my questions.

*****
More About HK Savage:

HK Savage has been a voracious reader of anything she could get her hands on going back to the second grade when she would set her alarm two hours early to read before school. Her passion for the written word has continued and flowed into writing going back nearly as far. Her books have fans in twenty countries on six continents with hopes of attracting attention on Antarctica if for no other reason than to check a box.
Currently, HK is a mother, wife and black belt in Karate as well as an avid dressage rider. Her three dogs: a Doberman puppy and two ancient Doxies keep her busy when she is not writing or working.
HK has been an editor for several newsletters over the years, her favorite being for Heifer International where her ideas were put into effect and complimented by those on high. Currently her editing skills, honed for nearly a decade in advertising media, have been focused on her peers and clients in the writing world as Founder and Editor in Chief of Staccato Publishing and new digital imprint, Darkest Night Publishing.
Paranormal is a favorite genre as well as science fiction and the possibilities we have not yet realized. Her favorite premise: "what if?"


*****
Wanna stalk her all over the web?
I've got the inside scoop.
You can find her on:

HK was also cool enough to offer a giveaway for all of you to enter!
So go on, enter!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Prescription For Love 'Kingsley Kraze' Finale!

Welcome to the Prescription For Love Kingsley Kraze Finale!
*****

*****
Released April 20, 2013

*****
Want to be the first to win brand new Prescription For Love swag?
Enter below.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Surreal

I'm just a little bit in shock this morning.
I woke up and realized,
"Oh my gosh, it's the nineteenth!!"

The nineteenth. Tomorrow is the day. Prescription For Love will go live, and Cameron Kingsley's story will be available for purchase. And I'll be an author. Again. That never gets old, I swear.

Releasing To Love A Selkie was a momentous occasion for me, a really huge moment in my life. I wrote it in about three weeks, spent two weeks in editing, and put it out into the world. During the month of November, during the writing of To Love A Selkie, my family was having a bit of a crisis, we'd just adopted our dog (Chance), and my mother was nearing the end of a pretty scary cancer scare. She is in ill health already, so the idea of adding cancer to the list was really horrifying and my family was definitely in disaster mode.

Writing brought me through it; it gave me a place to hide. And maybe everything going on gave me a reason to play with Fantasy/Legend for the first time. I think branching out into a genre I'd never tried is why I finally was able to finish something.

Don't get me wrong, all my life I've been a writer. I have pages and pages throughout our apartment in various notebooks of things that I wrote before, always telling myself, "This is the one. I'm going to write it for real this time, and I'm going to get it out there." And I never finished. Until To Love A Selkie, every story I ever wrote dried up and died in my hands. I have notebooks full of old poetry dating back to high school, and there are a few things here and there that are yet older than that. But I'm not sure I ever really believed until Annie Jacobs, until Malik. Finishing To Love A Selkie gave me something, a certain new level of belief in myself. I mean, I always believed in myself as a writer, otherwise the dream could not have survived - but there was something in me, some part of me that felt it was only a dream and that it could never be the reality of my life.

And then I finished it. And I published it. And people bought it. The cliffhanger threw people off, it infuriated them. And there were people who outright didn't like anything about it at all. And that's okay, because you can't please all the people all the time and neither can I. Some people will love me and what I put into my stories, and some will not. That's life, and I'm okay with it.

But swirled into the beautiful gift of confidence that I got from Annie and Malik was a heavy dose of fear. Was that it? Would I be a one-book wonder? Was that all I had inside of me, one book that was generally only succeeding in pissing people off??

Was I finished?

Apparently not.

To Love A Selkie was published December 18, 2012, and by the end of December I'd already made a lot of progress in the writing of Fat Chance, the first book in the Kingsley Series. Cass Keaton flowed right out of me, straight out of the heart of who I am and where I've been in my life. She's made up of the insecurities of women everywhere, but so much of her is simply me. She was so easy for me to relate to, and giving her a love that could help her grow into herself as a woman was easy too. Drew is an amazing guy, and he loved Cass so easily. No part of that story was hard for me, and when it went into the world on January 21, 2013, I was exhilarated. I knew it would do well, I just felt in in the depths of myself. I knew Cass would be okay.

And she is.

She is well-loved, and the reviews on that book have literally brought me to tears countless times. I can't even express how touched I am by the response to her story and the number of people who have reached out to me personally to tell me that she affected them.

Tomorrow, I'm releasing another story into the world. Tomorrow, Cameron Kingsley will take a deep breath, smooth her hands down over her shirt, and check to make sure she looks alright before she steps out into the world for the first time.

I hope you all love her the way I have.

(Edited to add: You can now purchase Prescription for Love! The links to the books in the Kingsley Series are here.)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Character Guest Post

Hey there, awesome readers!!
I've got a little surprise for you today!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Hi, I'm Cassaundra Keaton. You might know me from the pages of Fat Chance, where I got to tell the personal story of my journey as a woman (and I met a hottie, too). If you've read it, then you know a lot about me already. But if you haven't read it, let me tell you just a little about myself.

Growing up, my mother and grandparents slowly died away, leaving my father to raise me alone. He struggled a lot with the loss of my mother, and I think it made it hard for him to relate to me as his child. I'm pretty sure I was just a reminder of her for the longest time.

He used to make little "innocent" comments to me about my body, about my weight, my figure, or my love of certain junk foods and candies. I know he didn't mean any of it to be a bad thing, and I know now that he was just trying to reach out to me in the only way he felt he could.

But it left me HURTING.

Eventually he died too, and I was left with no one. No family, nothing. From there, I grew up in the foster system, passed from home to home and family to family. Some were nice and some were not so nice. But the onset of puberty and the effects of emotional eating and grief took a toll on me. Puberty is always an emotional time, but when you combine those hard years with the loneliness of grief, you have a very broken person.

And I was BROKEN.

But you know, broken people are so obvious, even when they don't mean to be. Emotional pain is just something that we wear on the outside of who we are, whether we advertise it or not. Still, having it out there means that others can see it, and it means that bullies can use it.

Our personal pain becomes the perfect ammunition.

I got bullied a lot when I was younger, especially once I entered the foster system, and that followed me into my adult life. I wasted years of my life worried about my body, hating my body.

HATING MYSELF.

The funny thing is, I didn't do anything wrong. I wasn't a bad person. I wasn't mean, I wasn't hateful. I wasn't even ugly. But I felt like I was wrong. I felt inferior. I was overweight, and it was something I could never hide from. It didn't help that I had people in my life pointing it out to me, either, using it as a weapon against me.

Isn't that sad? I let other people use my own body as a weapon against me? I allowed people to bully me because I believe what they were saying. I allowed them to treat me so terribly because of my body that I eventually forgot how great I can be as a person.

But I'm not a victim, not anymore, and I don't want anyone else to be a victim either. 
~Cass~
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Changes

It's funny, isn't it, how much one thing can change your life? When I was little and I would run my fingers lovingly over the books in my bedroom (I had sort of a personal "library" of books by the time I was in high school, and now have hundreds of books throughout our apartment), I just couldn't imagine I'd ever be where I am now.

It's not glamorous like I thought it might be, and I'm certainly not sleeping in a basket of $100 bills, but it really has changed so much of my life, and it's changed me in huge ways as a person.

I still have my days where I feel like this could never happen to me, like I'll never be able to build the kind of huge fan base some others (that I know of) have built. I have days where I wonder what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, if it will grow to the point where I can use it to support my kids in a better way. If I will buy a house, if I will buy cars for my daughters.

Will I??
Who knows.
None of us can know.
Everything can change in a day, or a moment.

So I wait. I watch the entries come in slowly but surely in my giveaways.
I watch the likes grow slowly but surely on my facebook author page.
I watch the following grow on my twitter account, slowly but surely.
And I watch the book sales go their way, slowly but surely.

With every new like, with every new follower, with every new sale and every review, my life is growing, changing in ways that I never thought possible. It's been such an adventure over these four short months
(today is my four-months-as-an-author-anniversary),
and I can't wait to see the rest of where I'm going.

In the meantime, I'm dropping over at
to share my Prescription For Love promo with Jessica! 
Head on over and check it out
and don't forget to enter that giveaway!!

"Quote" Giveaway Post

Several weeks ago, I did a thing on Facebook where I asked fans to give me a favorite quote. It could be a favorite quote, an especially inspirational quote, or a personal mantra, but I wanted one that I could use here as sort of a blog prompt. So I asked the fans for their quotes and promised I'd blog about the one with the most likes. And I did.

It was really fun to see the different things people put up for that, and it was a good exercise for me to sit with that particular quote, letting it rest and grow in my mind. I liked looking at it every so often, trying to connect it to my life personally. I loved writing about it, using it as a new chance for you as fans to get to know me as a person.

I liked it so much that I did it again with the same promise for the participants of the Kingsley Keeper Giveaway Party, but this time, I also added PRIZES!!
And our winner is ...
a Rafflecopter giveaway

* so Sarah, here's the quote you offered me *

"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me ... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” -- Shel Silverstein

* and here's my personal take *

The quote starts off talking about all the negative. "Listen to the mustn'ts. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves ..." Those statements speak out so much to me because I spent the better part of my young life listening to that negative.
Some of it paid off well.
Some of it didn't.

I listened to the mustn'ts and the don'ts and for the most part, I obeyed them. I generally followed rules; I kept my head down and my mouth shut, and I tried not to get into much trouble. As a result, I've never been in trouble, and I've never had any huge regrets because I generally prefer not to rock the boat. I don't get into trouble because I try to do what I'm supposed to do and not stir up trouble. On the other hand, the hard lessons sometimes learned from ignoring the mustn'ts and the don'ts often lead to adventure that I haven't had. Still, I'm not sorry for that, not at all. I may not have had a lot of wild adventures, but when I look in the mirror, I can respect that girl who listened to the mustn'ts and obeyed the don'ts.

I listened to the shouldn'ts and the impossibles though, too, and I am sometimes sorry for much of that. Maybe not for the shouldn'ts but for the impossibles. When I was a child, so many things were impossible to me. I grew up fairly poor in a rather small town, and there was so much that looked impossible to me back then. I remember loving everything I could hear about movie stars and music stars, the people who looked like they had it all. And I wanted the fancy clothes, and fifty dollar shirts, and the twenty dollar eye shadow.
IMPOSSIBLE. And I settled in that for a long time, forgetting how POSSIBLE
it is to change who you are and where you're going so that you don't have to stay where you came from.

And then there are the won'ts and the never haves, which go hand in hand for me. I have a good number of won'ts, simply because I'm still listening to the mustn'ts and the don'ts. This means I have a lot of never haves too, which explains my mile-long bucket list. There are so many things I haven't done, things I haven't seen, places I haven't been. That list of never haves sums up the results of my "impossibles". It's a list of things I'd have maybe done long ago ... if only those things had been "possible" to me.

But.
"Anything can happen, child. Anything can be."
Shel Silverstein shared a real wisdom with this quote, teaching us that no matter how negative we can be or how beaten down the world can leave us, we don't have to stay that way. It is infinitely possible to build yourself up, to make yourself anew and to try again.
And again.
And again.

And that's my plan. I'm going to build something strong of myself before I'm done, and before I leave this life behind me, I fully intend to do something great with what I'm given, regardless of the mustn'ts and the don'ts, the shouldn'ts and the won'ts. Because "Impossible" is really just trying to say "I'm Possible" anyway.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Because It Matters

One of the things authors treasure most is the reviews. They can be good or they can be bad, but they are important either way. They matter when it comes to whether or not you are successful, because word-of-mouth advertising is just as important in the writing business as it is in most others. When someone tells you they loved a certain movie, and if you trust their judgement, then it makes you curious. Then you are more likely maybe, to go and watch that movie. This works with books, too ... if your best friend just read a book and is raving about how awesome it is, you have a much greater chance of picking it up yourself, even if you would never have heard of it otherwise. I myself have recommended books to people knowing that it wasn't their preferred genre, simply because I so loved the book.

For indie authors, this is especially important because we depend on that word-of-mouth to help us advertise ourselves and our work. We don't have a publishing company working for us, and we don't have an agent working to help sell our books. Other than the obvious benefits garnered from simple networking and making friendships, many of us are quite literally on our own when it comes to marketing.

This means that getting people to read and publicly review our work
as much and as often as possible can make or break our dreams as writers.

It's why we tell everyone we know when there's a new review.
It's why we want it posted everywhere it can possibly be posted.
It's why they mean so very much to us that we often give our books away in exchange for a coveted review.

It's why people like this mean so much to the writing community.

Thanks, Penelope, for being the newest public reviewer of Fat Chance.
I found your words incredibly touching, and I am so moved that you
felt it was worth the elusive FIVE stars at

You're Invited ...

You loved Fat Chance, didn't you?

So far, the story of Cass Keaton has been wildly successful, with women everywhere loving the story of a troubled woman finding her place in the world and her confidence in life. Her story touches all of us personally as women, reaching into that dark place in all of our hearts where we believe that we're inherently lacking. We all have that one area in life where we believe that no matter what we do, whatever "it" is, we don't have it. It could be motherhood, money management, our jobs, even our ... wifeliness. There's some place in all of us, isn't there, where we all feel wrong, where we all feel lacking?

That's where Cass's story comes from too, from that place deep inside of her where she feels that nothing about her is as it should be. And throughout the book
we watch Cass grow a little stronger, a little wiser.
A little more confident.

Finally, she is as she wants to be, strong and confident, and most importantly,
always improving
in so many of the ways that mattered most to her.

Or at least, that's what people have been telling me. 
And for all of you who feel that way, who have finished the book but still love Cass's story,
for all of you who cried with her, laughed with her and grew with her, I'd like to invite you to participate in another little piece of Cass Keaton's story.
In Fat Chance, she found love and you got to watch her grow.

Now, with the coming release of
Prescription For Love,
you can watch the next step in Cass and Drew's story,
while also getting to know a fresh new Kingsley, Cameron.
The date is set, and the release is almost ready.
Will you be there?
You're invited.


For more Prescription For Love promo peeks, check out this post over at Reading Is My Time Out.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Counting Down

Each morning, I'm a little closer to being a three-time author.
Each afternoon, I'm a little closer to extending my "published" list.
Each evening, I go to bed anticipating the coming release.

And I'm counting down.
If Amazon were more precise with the publishing,
I'd probably have a countdown,
because I'm nerdy like that.

Or maybe that's because I'm still new enough to be giddy with each new release.

Either way.

In the meantime, I wanted to offer you a little something.
... so ...
The day before yesterday, I gave you the
Yesterday, I reminded you to check out the
Today, there's a promo post for you, over at

And right here, there's a little something to tide you over while you wait for those links to load.

* the blurb *
Cameron is the Kingsley's oldest child and first girl. Her romantic nature led her to a career as a wedding planner, but her troubled past keeps her
cynical, fearful and alone. 
Mackenzie Caswell is a widower with a young son to raise on his own. Mac is still healing from the loss of his wife, but his marriage was a happy one, which gives him a solid belief in the possibility and the power of love.
If only he can convince Cameron to see things his way.

Monday, April 15, 2013

It's Coming

The release of Prescription for Love is coming!
April 20 is closing in, and I am so excited!
Are you?

If you are, show your support for the Kingsley Series by following this link to a
and then leave me a comment to tell me what you think.

After that, if you want to know more and you can just wait any longer, check out this
Prescription For Love
promo post over at The Fantasy Junkie!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Journey, So Far

I can't believe how much my life has changed in the past 4-5 months.
In December, I was literally nauseated with terror as I clicked "publish" on Amazon's KDP.
It literally nauseated me to release To Love A Selkie into the world, knowing that by publishing, I'd put myself "out there" for all the world to see. For all the world to love, or despise. I'm not sure I'll ever forget the moment, that exhausting mixture of pride and terror.
In that moment, for better or worse, I became an author.

A published author.

And it was the most terrifying, exhilarating, happy, miserable moment of my life.
To Love A Selkie was not only my first novel, it was also my first touch on any sort of legendary/fantasy plot line. It was totally and completely new to me in every way, and I treasure that experience incredibly deeply.

I watched reviews come in on amazon, reviews from people that I knew, and ones from people that I didn't, both good and bad. Some people liked Annie, some didn't. Some people liked Malik, some didn't.
Some liked that I followed the traditional Selkie legends.
Some didn't.

What none of them knew, because I was a new author and didn't think to say so, was that To Love A Selkie is really Selkie Part I. And had I been more experienced, I'd have held onto it and done it as one book instead of a two-book thing.

I'm learning.

In the meantime, I was growing more and more terrified of the writing world. Reviews on a book with a cliffhanger aren't always sweet and cuddly. They are less so when there is virtually no mention of more to come. Still, I made new friends through me efforts to reach out. I met new people. I had new ideas. I met Cass Keaton, in the quiet place in the back of my imagination. And I plowed right into her story, letting her feelings and her thoughts flow out of me.

And she is loved.
I'm still learning.

Now I've tasted the bitterness of a work that is not (yet) widely loved, and felt the disappointment of a character whose story is not well understood. Annie will have her chance.
The rest of her story is yet to come.

But I've also tasted the sweet success of a great character, the success of a great story
(that actually happened somewhat by accident).

And now, I'm preparing to take another bite.
I sure hope it's sweet.

Prescription For Love,
Book Two of The Kingsley Series
coming to a Kindle near you.
April 20, 2013.


Beautiful, A PicPrompt


Please be aware that ALL of this writing is copyright protected as my own creative content, and NO PART of any post/story may be reproduced, copied or used in 
ANY WAY, ANYWHERE, at ANY TIME.


Photo courtesy of  CNaene  freedigitalphotos.net
Beautiful
copyright 2013, Brandi Kennedy
*****

Sometimes, it's too easy to look around the world and get caught up in the horrors. This world is full of pain. It's full of people who are sick and dying, broken and lost. It's full of poverty and wretchedness, crime and unpunished guilt.
It's full of evil.


Isn't that the saddest thing you've ever heard?
It doesn't have to be.
Because there's another way to look at it.
*****

Sometimes
you can look around the world
and see something that is truly
Beautiful

This world is full of love,
unending, dependable
passionate, crazy love that's
Beautiful

There are places,
in this world that
are pure and sweet and
Beautiful

There are people,
who are kind and caring
and generous and loving and
Beautiful

This world is full of shimmering jewels,
the bright faces of children, the fragile strength of flowers,
and other things that are
Beautiful

We just need
the right perspective
and only then can we see the world's
Beautiful.