Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Second on the right blog tour

Second on the Right By Elizabeth Los: Release Blitz

Second on Second on Second on The Right The Right The Right

Second on the Right

EditionEbook ISBN GenreScience Fiction_and_Fantasy From 2014-05-09 To 2014-05-19 Length60 000 to 70 000


Spawned from an ancient promise, treachery and intrigue follow the protagonists through our world and one lost to the waves. Bound by an invisible bond, they are thrust into a fantastical world of pirates and demons.

James Benedict is a just man haunted by evil. Pushed to the edge, everything stripped from him, a new man arises . . . a man whose name strikes fear into the hearts of all who hear it: "Captain Hook".

Eileen Davis was a timid woman. Through a fateful cruise she finds herself in the company of the Captain of the Mistral Thief. With his guidance, and the meddling of the local barista, she eventually finds her inner strength.

Will the two of them unite through time to fulfill the promise of their ancestors or will tempers ignite leading all to failure?

True love's magic is not to avoid changes, But to navigate them successfully.


Elizabeth uses writing as therapy, her release from everyday stress. At night, after work and once the children are finally tucked in bed, for the fifth time, she sits at her laptop and lets her imagination flow. Typing over eighty words per minute, her stories quickly form into full length novels.

Elizabeth has produced story stories, including Sherlock Holmes fan fiction. By July 2011, her first novel, Second on the Right, had been completed. She spent several years polishing the story in order to provide a high quality product to the public. Second on the Right is her first professional novel. Peter

Footsteps on cobblestones echoed down the alleyways of small shops and homes. Within the darkness, Robert huffed and strained from exertion. He ran as fast as his legs could move him. Once he was just outside of the small seafaring town, he stopped and collapsed onto the ground trying desperately to catch his breath. I’ve done it! he thought excitedly. Robert could hardly believe he had stolen the unique weapon. But now what? If he returned to the ship, he would certainly be blamed for the knife’s disappearance, especially since he had no way of hiding it. How could he avoid punishment? There was no question. He could not, would not, go back to the Swallow. While hunched over, the snap of a twig close by caused him to freeze. Had the crew caught up with him? He waited as a few seconds crept by. Eventually, a boy of about twelve years of age stepped out of the darkness. “Hullo,” the boy said nonchalantly. “H-hello,” Robert stuttered, unsure of how to respond to this newcomer. Did he look guilty? He tried not to appear so. The boy could not possibly know what had just happened. “Name’s Pete,” the street urchin said, scratching his face and, in the process, smudging more dirt across his cheek. Tufts of stiff and dirty blonde hair stuck out in all directions. “Robert,” he responded with trepidation, especially since he now noticed a group of boys standing just within the edge of the darkness, their eyes shining from the moonlight. “You alone?” the boy asked. Robert was suspicious of the question and so lied. “No.” His lie was not convincing. Pete smirked wickedly. “I think you are.” The tone in his voice was changing to something sweetly sinister. Robert blinked. This stranger was threatening him. “Pete, was it?” he asked. The young boy nodded. “Ye best be leaving me alone.” Pete’s laugh changed into a cackle. “Give me the bag, and I’ll consider it.” Robert snorted in defiance as he stood up. His hand instinctively tightened its grip around the handle. The boys standing within the darkness stepped forward. The circle closed in around him. He was trapped. Despite the grim outlook, he would not give up. “Ye’ve been warned,” he said coolly. He pulled out the long knife. In one fluid movement, Robert unsheathed his weapon and pointed the tip towards Pete. “’Ear that boys? We’ve been warned,” Pete said mockingly, staring with desire at the weapon before him. With a whistle, he commented, “That jewel looks to be worth the risk. Betcha it’ll take good care o’ me and tha boys. So be it!” he shouted as he pulled out a small dagger and lunged towards Robert, tapping the magic blade with his own. The two weapons would have made for an impressive fight, if not for the inexperience and weak muscles of the fighters. A quiet tick of metal sounded as each barely hit the other’s blade. Eventually, both boys grew tired from the exertion. Robert gained the advantage and the surrounding boys inched closer. Before he could do anything about it, they attacked, knocking him to the ground. The knife came to rest in front of Pete. Robert struggled to push the boys away and reclaim his prize, but Pete took advantage of the opportunity. Reaching for the knife, Pete’s hand hit the edge of the blade. It made a small cut into his palm. He pulled back for a moment, staring at the bleeding wound more from curiosity than pain. Robert froze. His prized possession was in the hands of a stranger. “The Captain's gonna kill me,” he mumbled. While Pete was distracted, Robert noticed the blood seemed to move along the blade and disappear into the hilt of the knife, trickling into the blue orb. His eyes widened in amazement. Had he just seen that, or was his mind playing tricks on him? Suddenly, a gust of strong wind and a chilling howl wrapped around Pete. Robert was startled, but it was the other boy who cried out in fear and pain. His body twisted and writhed as he fell to the ground. Maniacal laughter, all too familiar, filled the air. The remaining group of boys, having scattered from fear, let go of their prisoner. Robert scrambled back, putting some distance between himself and Pete. The disembodied laugh grew stronger. Pete’s eyes were now glowing red. He heaved in deeply, the sound akin to a death rattle. As the wind swirled around him, he stood. A wicked impish grin was on his face. He let out a crow of triumph. Robert stepped back in an attempt to leave. It could not get much worse than this, could it? I was wrong. The Captain isn't going to kill me. Daria is definitely going to kill me, he thought. Pete turned to Robert and smiled. “I must thank you for you have freed me.” His movements gave the impression he was stalking prey. “But I must ask for one favor more…your life.” Eyes wide, Robert did the only thing a young boy could do when faced with a vengeful god: he ran. He did not stop. He did not look back. He needed to leave, to hide, and to forget what had happened. He would never tell Captain Davis, Daria, or anyone else, what he had done.


"Peter," James said in a low growl. "Show yourself!" he shouted. “That crow. I’ve heard that before,” Benedict commented. Peter alighted onto the railing with such ease and grace it irritated James. He gave a slight bow, as if observing the niceties. Pulling one of two bags from his belt, he held it up in his hand. James held the sheath of his sword with his hook, struggling only momentarily to hurriedly unsheathe it. Peter laughed and shook his bag, "Need a hand?" He howled even more, causing chills to run through James. James advanced towards him, but stopped short. Peter had reached into the bag he had been holding and had removed a rotting hand, with fingers missing. It was all too familiar to James: his right hand. James and Benedict cringed, disgusted at the sight. Peter tossed it at James, who jumped back in disgusted. The splat of soft, decomposing flesh hit the wood. Peter spun up in flight, and landed back down on the deck, retrieving the hand. Pieces were left behind from its initial fall. "No? Much happier with a hook, are we? You're welcome," he sneered. "There’s one who would appreciate a hand. Yours, in fact." He floated to the railing to glance at the waters below. "Come, take a look. I promise I won't bite," he grinned, moving away to allow James to draw near. James and Benedict cautiously took a glimpse. What they saw was the silhouette of an enormous crocodile. James said to him, “Impossible. They can't grow that large, can they?” Benedict had no response. He had never seen one that large. In the water, the crocodile, nearly twenty meters long, ticked and hissed. The sounds were eerily similar to a clock. Benedict and James peered down again at the beast. The crocodile thrashed and clawed its way partially up the side of the Mistral Thief. Sweat dampened James’ brow. Benedict looked at Peter, who was now dangling the remaining portion of what he assumed was James' right hand over the side of the ship. The crocodile leapt from the water, greatly desiring either the hand of James or James himself. Both James and Benedict cringed, though it was James that moved away from the railing. The scratching of the crocodile's claws on the side of the ship seemed to make him tremble. Peter laughed maniacally, and tossed James’ hand to the crocodile. “You’ve been using it for bait?” James looked at Peter, horror and disgust evident on his face. “This is all a game to you.” Pan. He hasn’t aged. Should I tell James? Benedict thought. His eyes shifted in James’ direction. He needs to know. James pointed his sword at Peter. "What do you want?" He shouted. Peter unsheathed his knife, circling around the deck. James followed suit. Occasionally, Peter would tap the end of his sword. However, Benedict knew James was a man of indomitable courage. James held his sword steady, firmly in his left hand, his hook slightly hidden behind him. His eyes were cold as steel. At that moment, James appeared to be in complete control of his emotions and actions. Benedict couldn’t help but beam proudly at what he had done for James. "What do I want?" Peter asked himself thoughtfully. He looked back at James, his eyes glowing faintly red. "I want you to pay," but he stopped. "Then again, perhaps you are suffering a bit. After all, I'm finding your son to be a delicious addition to my lost boys." He ended this with a slight hiss. “I’ve done nothing to you,” James replied. “I believe you’re the one that will pay for taking my family.” Benedict subtly moved closer to James. He could see how the boy was manipulating James, using the loss of Eileen and Robbie to rile him to the point of pure rage. Benedict knew all too well how easy it was to make James angry. "Jas," he said in quiet warning, seeing James' shoulders rise and fall more frequently. James voice wavered, “What are you?" Benedict hesitated to offer his knowledge. What would it serve but to merely fan the flame the boy had started. Quietly he said to James, "Me thinks he's Pete, a boy I met years ago. Feeds off humans." "Explain, please," James murmured to Benedict, not taking his eyes off Peter. "Not quite o’ changeling. Thought ta be mere legend, but I’d seen it with me own eyes. A powerful creature, though from what world, I'm not sure. Feeds off tha young, slow and sure ta stay alive. No doubt, yer boy be one he's feedin' on," he explained. Peter held a penetrating gaze at Benedict. "Oooohh. You're a rather smart one, aren't you? But I am at a disadvantage. You seem to know me, but I do not recognize you." The boy’s face scrunched up in contemplation until he seemed to have an epiphany, “The one who set me free! You’re so…old!” James looked over at the captain. “You set him free?” he whispered angrily. “Why am I not surprised?” Benedict did his best to avoid eye contact. He knew he would have to explain all of this later. Perhaps he’ll forget. Not likely though. "It's true." Peter said with a grinned. "I did feed on her. The red hair had to go." He made a violent motion as he spoke. "Jas," Benedict warned, seeing James tense, the muscles in his jaw tightened. James waved him off, stepping forward. Peter continued. "Her white skin, so soft and supple. Her screams of terror and pain, delicious. Oh, she was wonderful!" He paused for a moment, then finished, "Particularly the chewy center within." With the last sentence, his wicked eyes fell on James. James screamed in anguish. He charged for Peter. Benedict reached out to stop him, but he was too slow. Peter flew up to the top of the mast. James, whose momentum had gotten the better of him, teetered at the rail. The crocodile waited eagerly below. James grunted in an effort to push himself back. Peter howled in laughter, pointing, mocking and pantomiming actions as if he were James falling over the railing. James ran to the ropes, set to climb. Benedict shouted, but James didn’t hear. Not being heeded, he and a few crewmen pounced on him, holding him down. "Take him ta me quarters!" he barked at the bo'sun. They held James, who thrashed violently. It took five men to drag James into the captain's quarters and slam the doors shut. Benedict addressed Peter, "Ye best be leavin' now, or ye be facin' my wrath." Peter shrugged off the threat. "I have no quarrel with you, old man." He jumped off the mast, floating high above. "Tell him I'll be waiting, in Neverland." And he flew off. Benedict rubbed his sore eyes. "I'm gettin' too old fer this." At his quarters, Benedict’s hand stopped at the door. James' screams of rage could be heard from within. Benedict opted to take his time. Making a course adjustment, he continued towards El Tiburón.

Author Interview

Tell us about your latest release and how we can find out more. I read Peter Pan and watched the Disney movie I felt Captain Hook needed more to his back story than was revealed. Fans around me cheered for Peter Pan. I thought it odd, considering this young boy had, prior to the start of the story, cut off Hook’s hand and fed it to the crocodile. That was no action of an innocent boy. My mind began to weave a story for Hook, one where he originally was the good guy, a family man. Following the events of his first encounter with Pan, perhaps he had changed not only physically but mentally as well. And that is where we see the captain when J.M. Barrie’s story begins. Are there any themes within the novel? I delve into a lot of psychological issues. How would a man react if the very thing he values or loves is taken from him? Would he seek revenge? In this story, he does and falls into a bitter depression, which begins to change him. I asked myself if such a man would be able to pull himself out of that pit of depression and self-loathing if he were disfigured in the process. One female character finds herself in a situation where she makes a rash decision based on passion and later regrets it. How does she handle the guilt and shame of such a decision? There are a lot of things going on in the book, including adventure, romance, and time travel. Did you have a favorite scene to write? It was the fight scene between James and Robert, but since then, I think it has changed to the scene where Pan is attempting to kill Captain Benedict and Eileen interrupts him. I like that she's able to handle herself in a crisis. What do you see as influences on your writing style? I've read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories, over and over and over. :) I'm also really fond of Preston/Child's Pendergast series. Ever since Relic, I've been hooked on reading any story with Special Agent Pendergast. Besides that, the writing style of Douglas Present and Lincoln Child always has me on the edge of my seat. That's something I'm striving for. What do you see as the biggest challenge for indie authors and what have you been doing to overcome that? Marketing! I've never much cared for it, but it is an integral part of the entire process. And, I think it is really difficult for some authors to tout their own work. We need to get of the idea that it is bragging. It isn't. You need to market not only the book, but you, the author. And that can be tough.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Turning Curse Blog Tour

Turning Curse Blog Tour

Turning curse


Irresponsible was one word used to describe Prince Liam. Liam preferred fun-loving. After years of pulling pranks on his fellow nobles and ruining balls, Liam’s prospects for a bride are looking dim. At his wits’ end, Liam’s father arranges a marriage between Liam and his best friend Cordelia. She is the last person in the world Liam wants to marry. When Liam confesses this to her, she transforms Liam with a curse.
Now Liam must escape her clutches while breaking her spell, but he is trapped in her castle with no way to escape. His only hope is to persuade Cordelia’s servant Gabrielle to help him. However, Gabrielle has a secret of her own, and helping Liam is something she cannot do.

Biography A.C. Harrah

A.C. Harrah has a B.A. with an Emphasis in Creative Writing and Japanese. Due to her love of writing, A.C. tends to chain herself to her computer, but when she does sneak out it's usually to frolic on the beach or see the latest super hero movie. Oh, and travel. She would happily live out of a backpack if it meant exploring the world.
One of her favorite authors is Lewis Carroll.


The rain misted. Gabrielle held out her hand, letting the water kiss her palm. She looked up at the night sky and closed her eyes. The soft touch of the rain against her skin was refreshing. For a few moments there was nothing but Gabrielle and the cool night. She smiled then dropped to her knees. She buried in her hands in the moist earth as she hunted worms.
Something pink wiggled between her fingers, and she pinched it. The worm squirmed. She dropped it into her blue jar. She corked it as she continued to search for more. Liam hadn’t jumped higher than the ball, but after his collision and Cordelia’s temper, he deserved a little treat. She just wished the fireflies were out tonight. He never said it, but she had a feeling that he liked those best.
She found two more worms and pocketed the jar. She stood and looked around. Her eyes rested on the stable.
Liam’s words echoed in her head.
She knew she shouldn’t…but she couldn’t resist.
She hurriedly tiptoed toward the stables. She unlatched the front doors and pushed them aside. A horse neighed. Her shoulders pressed together. When no one jumped out to stop her, she went inside. She searched a wall for a sack and found one for feeding. She snatched it then entered one horse’s stall.
The horse shook its head, causing its mane swipe the air. It snorted and edged away as Gabrielle ventured into the back of the stall. The stall was clean, so she went to another. It wasn’t until her fourth try that she found a horse with a fresh deposit.
She pinched her nose and turned the sack inside out. She stuffed her hand into the bag and dove into the feces. A lump of disgust formed in her throat. Even through the sack she could feel that the waste was still warm. It broke apart easily in her hands. She shoved down her nausea and turned the sack inside out again, trapping the dung inside while keeping her hands clean. She tied a knot at the top of the bag and erased any sign that she had been in the stables before she left.
She entered the castle and took the left stairs to the servants’ quarters. Laughter escaped the common room where the servants went after work to relax and have fun. They shared stories and tips for cooking and cleaning with the occasional gossip. Excitement raced through her; she couldn’t wait to join them.
She went a little farther down the corridor to Lucinda’s room. There was nothing remarkable the door, so Gabrielle had to count off the plain, wooden doors to make sure she had the right one. She opened the door to Lucinda’s room; she knew the woman would either be cleaning up after supper or would be eating her own meal.
Lucinda’s room wasn’t very different from Gabrielle’s. Every servant had a small room with a cot. Some servants bought dressers, but others kept their things in baskets; she had learned the basket owners were the ones who didn’t stay long. Lucinda had a dresser with a straw doll and a bible on top.
Gabrielle picked up the doll. She would have never guessed Lucinda had such a toy. She returned it to the dresser.
She grabbed Lucinda’s pillowcase. With two vigorous shake pillow flopped out. She opened the bag of feces and gagged on the putrid smell. Lucinda would probably smell it before her head touched the fluffy head cushion. Even so, Gabrielle was certain Lucinda wouldn’t check the pillow; no one ever suspects the pillow. She shook the excrement into the pillowcase then stuffed the cushion inside.
She dashed out the bedroom and into the common room. The fireplace burned, casting shadows against the walls. Ronan, Albert, and Daniel laughed boisterously in front of the fire. Melinda and Warren chatted in the corner—lovebirds. Fiona, Isabella, and Mackenzie huddled together, drank ale, and sang a song about a man shipped off for a murder he did not commit. Thomas sat in a rickety, old chair, teaching Samuel how to read. Marina danced with Eric, and Oliver played a jaunty tune on his flute.
“Gabrielle!” Marina gasped and twirled out of Eric’s hold.
“Come join us.” She took Gabrielle’s hand and spun her into Eric.
Gabrielle laughed, laid her hands on Eric’s chest, and pushed away. She hiked up her skirts and jigged to the upbeat tune. Marina mimicked her.
“Now that isn’t very nice,” Eric chuckled, his cheeks flushed from dancing. “I thought you and I were having a wonderful time.”
“You’re being too sensitive, Eric,” Marina said as she pranced toward him, taking his hand in hers. He spun her around then latched their elbows together. They bounced and twirled.
Gabrielle hopped on the balls of her feet. She jumped into the air with a kick and clapped her hands. She spun, and Thomas was suddenly there. He linked his elbow wither hers. More of the servants joined, and she passed between them. The older ones lined the room and clapped out the beat. They laughed whenever someone fumbled, but then were quick to cheer the person on.
Gabrielle was breathless and hot. Sweat dripped down her forehead and armpits, but she loved the thrill of the dance too much to care. She brushed her bangs out her face as she was passed to Ronan.
A scream pierced the air.
Everyone stopped.
Lucinda burst into the room. Her plump cheeks were ruby with fury, and her brown strands whipped around her face like snakes. The thin, blue veins on her neck throbbed. She thrust her pillow up for all to see and pinched her nose.
“Who did this?” she shrieked.
“Did what?” asked Albert. He walked up to her and stopped two steps short of her. He covered his nose and waved his hand. “What is that stench?”
“Shit!” Lucinda screeched.
A few of the younger servants snickered, including Gabrielle.
“It’s not funny.” Lucinda stormed up to Eric and pinched his ear. “How would you like it if you just finished working, wanted to go to bed, and then found shit in your pillow?”
More snickers.
Eric yanked free of her and rubbed his ear. “Use your spare clothes as a pillow. You can wash it tomorrow.”
“I want it washed now!” Lucinda stomped her foot. “Now who did it?”
No one answered.
Lucinda scanned the room. She looked at them as if they were all murderers. Her gaze landed on Gabrielle and narrowed. She shoved her way to Gabrielle. She shook the putrid pillowcase in Gabrielle’s face. “You.” She seized Gabrielle’s arm. Sharp nails dug into Gabrielle’s skin.
Gabrielle winced.
Lucinda tugged her forward. “You clean this up now.”
“Stop it, Lucinda,” Marina pushed her way out of the crowd. “You’ve been picking on Gabrielle, and you are just using this as an excuse to do it again.”
“She’s the one who did this.”
Warren pulled himself away from Melinda. “What’s your evidence?”
“Who else would do it?”
“That’s not evidence,” Marina rebuked.
Lucinda looked between Gabrielle and the crowd of angry faces. She released Gabrielle. “Fine.” She spun, slamming the door behind her as she left.
Gabrielle rubbed her abused arm.
Murmurs about Lucinda’s pillowcase floated in the air. The older servants looked at her suspiciously. Some of the younger ones also eyed her with curiosity, but most chattered amicably with one another.
Marina approached Gabrielle. “Are you all right?” She reached to touch Gabrielle’s arm. Gabrielle jerked away.
Gabrielle forced a smile. “It’s a little sore, but should be fine by tomorrow.”
Marina frowned. “Are you sure?”
Gabrielle nodded.
Marina lowered her hand and tossed a glance at the servants eyeing Gabrielle. She stepped closer to Gabrielle and whispered, “If it was you, you should avoid doing anything else to Lucinda. She is not the most well liked, but some people are a little too high on their moral horse. You might get in trouble.”
Gabrielle nodded. “I think I’ll go to bed now.”
Marina stepped away. “Goodnight then.”
Gabrielle smiled and waved. “Goodnight to you too.” She ignored the stares of others and gently closed the door behind her as she left. Once outside, her knees felt weak. She gripped the doorknob for support. She collapsed against the door and raised her head to the ceiling. Giddiness danced through her veins. She grinned like a fool. Lucinda would make her life miserable for the next few days, but the look of absolute horror and disgust on her face had given Gabrielle a high she hadn’t felt in months. The rush and thrill was worth it.
She pranced down the hall and twirled.
She had to do it again.


"Those don't look like riding clothes." Lord Kenneth examined his horse's saddle and patted his steed's side. Cordelia hadn't changed out of her simple blue gown from breakfast. Her father would have preferred her to switch into a more regal dress, but even he acknowledged what a terrible idea that would be. She forced a smile on her face and giggled like a fairy, just as she had been instructed to do once she became eligible for marriage." I hope you don't mind, I wanted to look my best for you."
Lord Kenneth leered at her. His lips curved up. He stepped toward her. "I'm honored that you would try so hard to impress me."
"Who said it was difficult?" She grinned but then mentally kicked herself. It was comments like that one that had gotten her in trouble before.
Lord Kenneth blinked then shook his head. He was probably brushing aside her comment as the result of nerves.
She breathed a sigh of relief.
He held out his hand, and she took it. He led her to her horse. "I noticed your family's orchard as I rode in today. I thought we could explore it."
She nodded and kept her teeth pressed against her bottom lip. If she didn't speak then she couldn't insult him. He helped her onto her horse. She internally groaned at the prospect of riding sidesaddle. She was certain her father had specifically told the stable hands to put the sidesaddle on. She waited for him to climb onto his steed. He did so with ease.
He clicked his teeth and moved the reigns. The horse trotted away. Cordelia rubbed the neck of her horse and gave the reigns a tug; it pranced after its brethren. She rode up beside Lord Kenneth. He glanced at her and smiled. "I've heard that you are the adventurous sort. How about a race to the orchard?"
A race? Warm glee tickled Cordelia's insides like a feather. Other suitors had scoffed at the notion of racing against her. They became furious when she took off and left them behind. It was one of the first things her father had told her not do. Even the few who were willing to race got offended when she won. Lord Kenneth, however, Perhaps it was his face that still had its baby fat, or maybe it was his soft blue eyes, or even his brilliant grin, but something about him radiated the same aura that Liam gave off right before they raced. He didn't seem to care who won or lost; he just wanted to have fun.
She nodded and whipped her reigns.
Lord Kenneth mimicked her action.
They blasted around the corner toward the front gates. Guards rushed and stumbled to open the gate. They barely parted the doors in time for Cordelia and Lord Kenneth. The two were neck and neck.
< Cordelia pressed herself closer to her horse and kicked its side. She gritted her teeth as the horse rocked beneath her. She felt like she was sliding off her horse; this was why she hated sidesaddle.
They charged down the dirt path toward the orchards. An old man with a cane flung himself off the road as they rounded a corner near him.
< Cordelia peeked at Lord Kenneth. He kept his gaze focused on the orchard. It made Cordelia grin; it would have been upsetting if Lord Kenneth turned out to be one of those overly sensitive types that would stop their race just because they startled someone.
The wind slapped her hair in her face as they rounded the last bend. She shook her head and gave her horse one firm kick.
The horse jumped and flew over the orchard gate. It landed with a thump and ran a few more paces until she pulled on the reigns. Cordelia made soothing sounds and rubbed her horse's neck. "That's a good horse."
Lord Kenneth's horse snorted behind her.
Cordelia beamed and turned to face Lord Kenneth. Her smile toppled.
She could see it in his squinted eyes, his white-knuckle grip, and his clenched jaw: he was furious. Her heartstrings knotted, and her stomach churned. Was there any way to recover from this?
A strained smile formed on Lord Kenneth's lips. He chuckled drily. "Well, it seems you won. I should have expected your stable hands to give you the best of your horses."
"Actually, your horse is the better of ours." Internal cringe. She'd said too much again.
His smile looked so forced that it made her cheeks ache in sympathy. She sighed and shook her head. There was no making the situation better.
"Ah, well then, good for you. If my steed hadn't needed rest, I'm sure I would have won this match."
Cordelia's skin itched with irritation, and the hair on her arms bristled. "I'm sorry, but do you realize how silly you sound?" There was no point in playing the docile female anymore. She was ecstatic to rip off the uncomfortable facade. "If your horse didn't need rest? Ignoring the fact that every animal has its limitations, and that you're basing your assumption on a possibility that does not exist --and that you have no evidence to back up your assumption --the fact is, you lost. Nothing you say or do changes that."
"The fact is," he stressed his words, "I could have won."
"The fact is, you're an ass."
"How dare you? Do you know who I am?"
"Of course." She raised her head high. "You're a lord, and I am a princess."
His cheeks reddened then turned purple. His tongue tripped over half-formed words. He looked every which way, as if he could find a witty retort on the ground.
She snapped her reigns. The horse dashed toward the orchard's fence and jumped over it. She eased the horse into a trot and went home.
She hoped her father could forgive her.

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Monday, 10 March 2014

30 Days of No Gossip by Stephanie Faris:- Blog Tour!



Can a middle school gossip queen change her ways, or will she lose her BFF for good? Find out in this M!X original novel.
Maddie Evans prides herself on being the gossip queen of Troy Middle School. She is the first person her classmates go to when they need the latest news on the ins-and-outs of TMS—and Maddie never disappoints.
Her best friend since birth, Vi, isn’t crazy about Maddie’s penchant for passing on rumors, but it’s never been an issue in their friendship. Until the day Maddie lets slip who Vi is crushing on—in front of her crush.
Vi is furious, and she confronts Maddie with an ultimatum: no gossip for 30 days, or twelve years of sisterhood goes down the drain.

Biography Stephanie Faris

Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing. When she isn’t crafting fiction, Stephanie is indulging her gadget geek side by writing for online technology sites. She lives in Nashville with her husband.


The key to being a good gossip is timing. You have to get the story before anyone else and tell everyone you can before it becomes news.
I’m always the girl who knows first. As editor of The Troy Tattler, Troy Middle School’s unofficial gossip newsletter, I consider it my job. I get the scoop, write it up, and hand it out in front of the cafeteria before school. My BFF Vi—short for Vivienne—thinks I’m just asking for trouble. She prefers to stay to herself. But I can’t help but notice she always sticks around whenever I have news to report.
“Kelsey is mad,” I said at lunch. Sydney and Jessica were hanging on my every word. Vi was spooning applesauce into her mouth while pretending not to listen. “Kelsey told Emma in secret that she likes Aiden, but now everyone knows.”
“Wait,” Jessica said, setting down her roll. It landed on her tray with a thunk. “Who likes Aiden?”
“Emma,” Sydney interjected. She rolled her eyes and turned back to me. “Go on.”
“Actually, Kelsey likes Aiden,” I continued. “Emma told everyone. That’s why Kelsey’s mad.”
I didn’t add the words ‘keep up’ because that would be rude, but sheesh. Did I have to draw a road map for these people?
Ooh, what a great idea! I grabbed my pen, opened my notebook and hastily jotted an idea for a cute drawing in the next issue of The Troy Tattler. Maybe it could even become a regular thing. A gossip cycle. I could draw arrows and cartoon stick people to illustrate the whole ‘Kelsey likes Aiden who likes Sarah who likes Trevor’ thing. I wasn’t a very good artist so I might need to get someone to help—
That was Sydney, calling me back to earth. I slapped my notebook shut, set my pen on top, and turned my attention back to my tuna sandwich. We were only allowed thirty-five minutes for lunch so I had to make it count. That meant I had to squeeze at least one piece of gossip in between each bite of sandwich.
Today I’d have to take smaller bites.
“So what’s the deal with the field trip?” Sydney prompted.
Oh, that. I chewed as quickly as I could and swallowed. I needed a drink of water but I had to get this one little piece of info out first.
“It’s still on, but Kelsey’s sitting at the back of the bus.”
Vi shook her head. I saw it out of the corner of my eye. She had to do that, though. It was her job. I gossiped and she played the disapproving best friend. It had been like that since elementary school.
That, in a nutshell, was why Vi and I were so good together. Our moms were in the same room at the hospital when we were being born and we ended up in bassinets next to each other in the nursery. I guess the whole thing bonded our moms to each other because they became BFFs in the way moms become BFFs, which basically means they get together every weekend and talk about mom stuff while telling us to go outside and play so we can’t hear what they’re saying.
Anyway, Vi and I ended up being like sisters. So even though she’s quiet and shy and not at all into being part of the whole gossip thing, she’s still the best friend I’ve ever had. Besides, being friends with me means she gets to hear everything that’s going on before anyone else.
“How on earth do you find out all this stuff?” Jessica asked. I could hear the awe in her voice.
I shrugged. “I’m good” was all I said. That’s all they needed to know.
The truth was, all I did was listen. You’d be amazed what you can find out just by watching and listening. Most of the time, people were surprisingly unguarded about what they said, especially when they were upset. I could stand at my locker and overhear six juicy conversations without even trying.
“So,” Vi broke in, drawing everyone’s attention to her end of the table. “Is everyone ready for the math midterm?”
Midterms. The very subject I didn’t want to talk about right now. It was the biggest exam so far that year and I’d done my best to study. But I’d also been working on the Tattler, which meant splitting my attention between studying and writing gossip. So, the answer was no. I wasn’t ready.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Sydney said. “I want to know what Kelsey thinks sitting at the back of the bus on the way to Four Cedars Park will do. Aiden will be in the front with Sarah—”
“And Emma,” I broke in to say.
“But Aiden likes Sarah,” Sydney corrected.
“Sarah’s taken.”
Vi was the one who said that. We all turned to look at her.
She sighed and set her sandwich down. “Sarah’s going out with Trevor Finn.” She looked at me. “Remember?”
Of course, I remembered. It was the first piece of gossip I’d delivered to the school at large. It was the very thing that had given me the ‘queen of gossip’ title for which I was now unofficially known.
I’d found out about Sarah and Trevor the same way I found out about everything: I paid attention. It was at the spring social, where everyone was more interested in what kind of ice cream was being handed out than what was going on in the bleachers just a few feet away. But I was watching.
Toward the back of the bleachers, I saw Sarah and Trevor talking and holding hands when they thought no one was looking. By the next morning, thanks to me, Sarah Dooley and Trevor Finn were officially a couple.
I consider it a favor, really.
“Can we get back to the exam?” Vi asked, even though she had to know none of us would want to talk about math when the subject of Trevor Finn, the number one cutest guy in seventh grade, was so much more interesting.
“I say we get on the bus before Trevor does and get a seat near him,” Jessica suggested.
“How can we do that?” Sydney asked. “He’s not on there yet, so we won’t know where he’ll sit. Right?”
She looked at me for that last word. I should have an answer for that. They’d expect me to know some dirt on Trevor at this point. I didn’t have anything on him. I made a mental note to try to catch up with him after fifth period to see if I could overhear anything.
“Easy,” Vi said.
Again, we all turned to look at her. She was chattier than usual today. I figured this time she’d start talking about math again.
“Maddie and I have been riding the bus with him since first grade,” Vi began, frowning at her sandwich before setting it down, folding her hands in front of her, and looking at us. “Based on his past behavior, he’ll sit in the front two rows. We’ll be safe by staying in the third row. The second row would be too far forward.”
See? Math.
After a long, awkward silence, Jessica took a deep breath and continued. “So what’s the deal with Travis Fisher?”
That loud gulp we all heard came from Vi’s direction. Jess and Syd turned to look at her, but I kept my gaze firmly planted on the two of them. They weren’t supposed to know Vi liked Travis. It was the one secret I’d been pinky-sworn to since third grade, when he’d rescued her lunch sack from the hands of a couple of bullies and become her real-life superhero. I had a feeling Jessica and Sydney had figured it out, though. The way Vi was always staring at him all moony-eyed when he passed, they’d have to be blind not to have noticed.
“I don’t know anything about Travis Fisher.”
They both turned and looked at me. Hey, at least I’d taken their attention from Vi. Now I had to scramble to come up with something else to say.
“I heard he might be kicked off the football team.” Jessica shrugged. “He has to pick his grades up in history or he’s…”
“History,” Sydney added. They both giggled.
I glanced over at Vi. She was good at disguising what she was thinking, which was completely the opposite of me.
People could read my thoughts right on my face. Kimberly Browning had told me that about Travis in first period, but I’d been keeping it to myself. My goal had been to tell Vi at the right time, but I guess it was too late now. Jessica and Sydney had delivered the bad news in their own cutesy way.
At the end of lunch, Jessica and Sydney took off ahead of us out of the cafeteria, giving me a few much-needed minutes alone with Vi. I had to get a feel for how she was feeling before I rushed off to my next class, otherwise it would be bugging me for the next hour.
“You okay?” I asked as we tossed our trash into the nearby garbage and wove our way through the exiting crowd.
She broke out into a smile and nodded.
I stopped walking and turned to stare at her. “Wait, you’re happy?”
She nodded again, this time even more enthusiastically. Maybe there was some other piece of news I’d missed. I waited for her to clarify. In typical Vi style, though, she just kept walking with that big cheesecake-eating grin on her face. I’d have to dig it out of her.
I chased after her, following her through the cafeteria doors and out into the hallway. If there was one thing I could do well, it was dig information out of people. But Vi wasn’t like ordinary people. Vi was secretive.
All the way to her locker, I tried to get it out of her. She was still smiling, but not talking. I tried guessing, begging, and reminding her that I was her best friend in the whole wide world. Finally it became clear. I’d have to go for bribery.
“Fine,” I snapped, crossing my arms over my chest and leaning against the locker next to hers. “I’ll help you with your room.”
I knew that would do it. Vi lit up. She turned and looked at me, her eyes all sparkly.
“Really? You’d do that?”
She seemed to realize what she’d have to do to get me to do that and deflated a little. Not completely, though.
Decorating was important to Vi. You could say it was her hobby, like The Troy Tattler is my hobby. She somehow turned decorating into smart stuff, though, carefully calculating every square inch of her bedroom and drawing exactly what she’d be doing with that inch. It meant so much to Vi, helping her with her room would be like her writing a column for the Tattler.
I felt a little stab of guilt that I was only offering to help Vi to get some info out of her. But, seriously. We’re talking weeks of listing to words like “geometric design” and “optimized space.” Compared to other people, I was average, but compared to Vi and her ten-ton brain, I was completely clueless.
“Okay,” she agreed. “I’ll tell you. But you can’t tell anyone.”
There was a reason Vi said things like that. One of the downfalls of being the gossip queen of Troy Middle School was that sometimes I got the feeling people didn’t want to tell me things. Actually, it wasn’t even a feeling. People stopped talking when they saw me walking by and even my friends—the people who were supposed to trust me more than anything—would start to say something, look at me, and clamp their mouths shut.
Which is why I had to be extra-good at eavesdropping.
“I don’t tell anyone anything you tell me,” I told Vi. That wasn’t entirely true and she knew it. I just hoped she wouldn’t point out the time I let it slip that she still slept with her childhood teddy bear in front of everyone in gym class.
Luckily, she was too caught up in her excitement to worry about that. She closed her locker and leaned in close to tell me her secret.
“I figure it’s like this.” Vi‘s voice was barely above a whisper. “Travis is off the football team, right?”
I nodded, even though we weren’t sure about that. Sometimes you just had to go with a rumor.
“If he’s off the team, I might have a chance,” Vi said. From the look on my face, she probably got that I wasn’t following. “He might like me back.”
I looked around. The halls were crowded, reminding me just how hard it was to stand out around here. It didn't help that Vi was so shy. She barely talked to anyone but me. Any friends I had became friends of hers, too.
There was no way Travis would just start noticing her, even if he was off the football team.
Which was silly, because Vi was pretty. Even a popular guy like Travis Fisher would like her. If only he knew she existed. It was like a light bulb went off inside my head. That was my job. As her friend, it was my duty to get through to Travis for her.
I knew she'd freak out if I told her I planned to say something. But I could already imagine the look on her face when I told her he liked her too. At that point, she'd forgive me for giving her secret away.


  • Tell us a little about 30 Days of No Gossip. What makes Maddie's story so special?
  • I think gossip is a topic we all grapple with, no matter how old we are. We think it's something that will end once we reach adulthood, but then we find ourselves gathered around the water cooler at the office, talking about our co-workers or last night's episode of our favorite reality show.
  • Do you think reading 30 Days will cause young girls to stop and think about what they're saying about others?
  • I do. During the course of the book, Maddie is forced to face some harsh realities about the things she says about other people--and why she says them. When she has information no one else has, people like her. It makes her more popular. But her best friend gives her a real reality check about the things she's saying about other people.
  • What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
  • After nearly two decades of writing books and trying to get them published, I think I've become the poster child for perseverance! Every writer's journey is different, so I think it's important for a writer to follow her own heart and try not to pay too much attention to what other writers are doing. But it's also important to keep trying, no matter how many rejections pile up or how many editors and agents say, "no." It just takes one "yes!"
  • What advice do you give young readers who want to write someday?
  • Read, read, read. I know every writer says that, but it couldn't be more true. I'd tell adult authors the same thing! The more we read, the more we are able to learn the basic elements of a story. When you combine avid reading with daily writing, eventually the process of creating a novel becomes to feel natural.
  • Did you know you wanted to be a writer from a young age?
  • I always wanted to become a writer, but I wasn't sure I had the talent. Like acting, singing, or painting, natural talent is part of it. You can hone that talent by working hard, but it's important that the natural ability be there. Looking back, though, I was spending more time reading than doing anything else when I was in elementary school. I also began writing poetry when I was twelve. It was bad poetry, but I can look back now and see the passion behind the words I was writing.

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