Cover Reveal: Circus of Lost Souls, by Riley J Ford and Rebecca Hamilton

CIRCUS OF LOST SOULS

horror ebookCirque du Lune is killing off teenagers, but it’s all part of the act.

Or is it?
As the body count rises with each performance, one girl at this infamous theater-based summer camp finds herself contemplating what’s real and what’s not.
What if it’s not just a horror show, but a live snuff performance? What if the murders . . . are real?
* * *
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Excerpt of The Forever Girl, by Rebecca Hamilton #bbf

SHERIFF LOCUMB AND I sat in a small room with a table and two chairs and a cheap light embedded into the suspended ceiling overhead. I wiped my palms on my pants, but the sweat kept coming.

He pulled up a picture on his cell phone. “Look familiar?”

Maybe he should’ve gotten an eight-by-twelve print. What was the picture of? Wood? A reddish-orange figure eight and a cross? I frowned and shook my head. “Should this look familiar?”

“Someone spray-painted this on the abandoned grain elevator,” he said coolly. “Why don’t you tell me what you know?”

“What I know about spray-paint?”

“Look.” He leveled his gaze at me. “Mrs. Franklin said one of the women in her congregation—well, her daughter got sick. They think you had something to do with it.”

“Mrs. Franklin thinks I have something to do with everything.”

“Well?” he asked.

“Well, what? I didn’t get anyone sick.”

He puffed his cheeks and blew out a breath. “I’m not saying you got anyone sick, Sophia. They think you hexed their child by spray-painting this satanic symbol.”

“You think I hexed someone? You’re kidding.”

Belle Meadow might be a small town, but surely it wasn’t so dull that they needed to call me down to the station for this.

“You’re here because Mrs. Franklin suggested you might be the one who vandalized the abandoned grain elevator, not because you ‘cursed’ someone.”

“And?” I asked.

“Well, did you?”

“I’m Wiccan.”

He stared blankly. “What’s that have to do with the case?”

“Wiccans don’t believe in Satan.”

“Listen, lady. I don’t care what you believe in. Why don’t you just tell me where you were when the offense took place?”

“Which was when?”

“May tenth.”

“At Colorado State, taking my senior year finals.” Something a few minutes of research would have told him without dragging me down here. Besides, how did Mrs. Franklin know the date? Did she take daily drives around town with her calendar and journal, looking for signs of demonic worship?

Sheriff Locumb leaned back in his chair, slapping his hands against his knees before standing. “I’m sure you wouldn’t mind waiting here while I check with the school?”

I gestured toward the door. “Go ahead.”

I would like to say I enjoyed the silence while he was gone, but the constant hushing in my brain made that impossible.

Sheriff Locumb returned with a cup of coffee and an apology. I didn’t drink the coffee, but I did ask him about the sick kid, and he told me it’d just been a case of chicken pox. Not a demonic plague or anything like that.

After squaring everything away, I returned outside to my Jeep and gripped the steering wheel. I couldn’t deal with Mrs. Franklin’s crazy accusations and the damn hissing. Something had to give.

Taking three deep breaths, I pushed the hissing as far into the back of my skull as possible. I wasn’t about to go back to work. Someone was bound to interrupt my relaxation efforts with a request for a drink refill or a complaint that their jalapeno loaf was too spicy or their ginger-lime chicken wasn’t chickeny enough.

As I drove home, I concentrated on the road—on one mailbox after another, on the way tree branches laced overhead, even on the glare of traffic lights, counting the seconds until they turned green. Anything to distract me from the noise.

My Jeep shushed along the pavement, but the roll of the road didn’t do me any good. The quieter the world around me, the louder the buzzing in my brain. Coping was no longer a viable option.

At the last major cross street before my neighborhood, the noise in my head roared. I slammed my palm against the steering wheel, gritting my teeth.

Enough was enough. I flicked my turn signal in the other direction and veered onto the highway before my courage fled. It was time to turn away from caution and toward Sparrow’s Grotto. Toward something that might silence the hissing forever.

For more information, view Rebecca Hamilton’s Book Blogger Fair – Summer 2013 page.

January Black Release Week

januaryblackcover_smallWelcome to my little corner of the internet! I’m so glad you’re here. I’m celebrating the release of JANUARY BLACK by giving away brand coffee cups or $10 Amazon gift cards to a few lucky readers. There will be two winners every day.

PLUS, each of the blog posts hosting JANUARY BLACK between January 15-21 will have a link to a hidden post on my blog. (Password = matty). Commenters on this hidden post will be entered into a drawing for a free, signed copy of JANUARY BLACK.

Here’s the tour! Have fun and leave comments!


January 15

Kelly Seguin
SM Boyce
Tara Fuller

January 16

Christine Ashworth
Marie Sexton (18+)

January 17

Katie O’Sullivan
Constance Phillips
Maer Wilson
Avery Olive
Jody A. Kessler

January 18

Melissa Robitille
Colette Gardner
Kary Rader

January 19

Krystal Wade
Rebecca Hamilton
Adriana Ryan

January 20

Shawna Romkey
Lindsey Loucks
Cindy Young Turner

January 21

Sarah Wesson
Susan Gourley
Louann Carroll
Sherry Soule

Liebster Award

So, a while back on a Six Sentence Sunday post, I mentioned a snag with the publication of January Black. Well, that snag may have been sorted out with the help of Melissa Robitille, a writer/freelance editor. (You can follow her on Twitter.) I’m all sorts of amazed by her, not least of all by the fact that she gave me an award. The Liebster Award. For blogging. Which, if it weren’t for SSS, I’d be totally failing at.

Liebster is an award bloggers give to introduce blogs you might not have found already that we think are completely awesome. Here’s how it works. You post the picture of the award to your blog:

Liebster Award

You give 11 random facts about yourself and answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you. Then you think up 11 new questions and nominate 11 new blogs – and you can’t nominate the blogger who nominated you.

Eleven Random Facts About Wendy S. Russo

  1. I was a premie. I was born 8 weeks early in an air force hospital and spent 11 days in an incubator. As the story goes, there were three pre-term babies born that week at that hospital, but I was the only one who went home.
  2. I love sarcasm, but it’s sometimes lost on me.
  3. I’m fascinated by machinery. I once picked up a cam shaft from a friend’s dining table and said, “It’s so pretty.” Half-a-dozen people looked at me like I had two heads.
  4. It took me 2 1/2 years to read Umberto Eco’s “Foucault’s Pendulum,” the first time. The second read took 10 days. (The secret is accepting that most of the details are important to world, but not the plot.)
  5. My husband and I were THIS close to naming our son “Hiro Protagonist.” We thought his English teachers would get a kick out of it. But, Hiro Russo is hard to say.
  6. I can engage myself in a repetitive task for months on end. My boss doesn’t get it but seems to appreciate it.
  7. I don’t understand “cute shoes” or “cute bags.” My husband picks out my outfits because I’m that fashion impaired.
  8. I do get “mean cars,” though. I’m partial to American muscle cars, particularly ’60’s Camaros.
  9. I’m bad at math, but I rock at Geometry proofs…which I’ve found practically useless in my adult life. Go figure.
  10. My favorite way to eat mashed potatoes is fried.
  11. I can’t golf. At all.

Answers to Melissa’s Questions

  1. What motivates you to write when you don’t really feel like writing?
    Music. For example, NIN “The Hand that Feeds” invokes a pretty, slender girl in a muay thai-esque street fight. (That WIP was shelved.) Skid Row’s “Breakin’ Down” gave birth to a scene where a young boy is pleading with a father figure not to leave. (A scene from that WIP became January Black.)
  2. Do you prefer being alone, in a group of people you know, or anonymous in a crowd?
    I don’t like being the center of attention. I like being in small groups, or anonymous in crowds. And I do alright alone.
  3. Do you ‘people watch’, and if so what’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen other people do?
    I think the thing that grabs my attention is when people wear something that defies explanation. Like…who wears flesh colored spandex pants to the mall? Who wears sparkly letters across the seat of their yoga pants? I’m not a fashionista, or even qualified to judge most outfits, but there’s some surprising stuff out there.
  4. How many books (a rough estimate, don’t go count them) do you have in your house, and what kind of books are they (yes, eBooks count as books)?
    A few hundred, I guess.
  5. What are your hobbies?
    Baking, jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, gardening (none of which I’m particularly good at.)
  6. What are your three favorite songs?
    Queensryche “Someone Else”, Lee Ann Womack “I Hope You Dance”, and Tori Amos “Winter.”
  7. What’s the biggest, best, and shiniest dream you have for your writing career?
    I got published! Everything after January Black’s release is a bonus.
  8. If you could take someone’s place for a day (modern or in history), who would you be and why?
    I would like to be Joseph Smith on a particular afternoon in April 1820.
  9. If you could have a re-do of some point in your life, what would it be and what would you do or say differently?
    I am where I am today because of life as it’s been. I wouldn’t change a thing.
  10. Which family member has been most supportive of your writing and in what way?
    My husband. I respect his opinion so much, I’m almost too embarrassed to let him read anything. *facepalm*
  11. What part of the writing process (writing, editing, querying, submissions, etc.) is the hardest for you?
    Blurbs. OMG, I hate writing blurbs.

And My 11 Questions

  1. What is your oldest memory?
  2. What did you want to be when you grew up? (Assuming that you ever actually did.)
  3. What’s the image on your computer desktop?
  4. Do you exercise?
  5. Which actor is ‘James Bond’ to you?
  6. Who was your favorite teacher in high school and why?
  7. Do you prefer books, or ebooks?
  8. White walls? Or do you need color on your walls?
  9. What character do you think you are most like?
  10. Which character would you like to be more like?
  11. How long did it take you to put together this blog post?

For the Liebster Award, I am nominating:

Evolution Thursday: Rebecca Hamilton

Rebecca Hamilton writes Paranormal Fantasy, Horror, and Literary Fiction. She lives in Florida with her husband and three kids, along with multiple writing personalities that range from morbid to literary. She enjoys dancing with her kids to television show theme songs and would love the beach if it weren’t for the sand. Having a child diagnosed with autism has inspired her to illuminate the world through the eyes of characters who see things differently.

To learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder, please visit the website below.

http://www.autisticadvocacy.org

You can stalk her blog, follow her on Twitter and Like her on Facebook.

Rebecca, what gave you the idea for The Forever Girl?

I wanted to write a book and I had this idea about a Wiccan girl who would perform a ritual to get rid of her curse. I also knew that she might have to kill her lover in order to save him. I guess I expected it to be more paranormal romance when I started, but instead it’s more paranormal fantasy with some romance in it. And the big “problem” ended up being bumped into book 4 of the series instead because one of the side characters took over my general plot idea.

Do you recall the first scene you wrote?

A scene with Sophia and her three friends in the wood performing a Wiccan ritual. It was the opening scene initially. There was also a seance in several early drafts of the book. It was a bit “Now and Then” meets “The Craft”. Boy, how things have changed since then. I almost miss those early drafts.

Did you have a scene that you loved but ended up cutting?

See above! There was also a scene with Sophia and her Dad discussing her ancestry and the document Sophia found in the attic. I loved that scene and I miss it tons.

I usually have an a-ha moment, where an insignificant detail becomes something really important. Did you have a moment like that? Will it spoil the plot to tell me what it was?

For me the detail was character who had a secret I wasn’t expecting that entirely changed the direction of the novel.

Are you surprised where the story took you? Or if ended up where you planned, were you surprised how you got there?

I’m extremely surprised. The original story was nothing like the final product. And the version of the story now is nothing like the first draft. Truth be told, the first draft of this novel was almost entirely a different story.

What story idea is sitting in the class right now, raising his hand madly, begging you to call on him?

Book 2. I am most excited about book 2 and every day new little details pop in my mind, demanding I hurry up and finish and make use of all the great ideas being given to me. But I have to finish the project I’m working on now. Also, in my heart, there are a couple literary fiction novels that want me to return to them. And in my email box, there a few people demanding I finish the disgusting horror novel I started last year, but I think it’s too gross to sell, so I haven’t been able to finish it.

I would like to thank Rebecca for being Evolution Thursday’s very first guest. Please check out the trailer and blurb for The Forever Girl.

Solving the mystery of an ancestor’s hanging might silence the clashing whispers in Sophia’s mind, but the cult in her town and the supernaturals who secretly reside there are determined to silence her first.

As Sophia unknowingly crosses the line into an elemental world full of vampire-like creatures, shapeshifters, and supernatural grim reapers, she meets Charles, a man who becomes both lover and ally.

But can she trust him?

It’s not until someone nearly kills Sophia that she realizes the only way to unveil the source of her family’s curse: abandon her faith or abandon her humanity. If she wants to survive, she must accept who she is, perform dark magic, and fight to the death for her freedom.

The Forever Girl is available just about anywhere you can buy a book.

Next week, I’ll have Krystal Wade’s answers for Wilde’s Fire.

Book Review: "The Forever Girl" by Rebecca Hamilton

*Sophia Parsons’ family has skeletons, but they aren’t in their graves…*

Isn’t that catchy? I love it!

I’ve mentioned before that I met Rebecca Hamilton on Authonomy. That means that I’ve been waiting for 16 months to read her book. You may wonder why I didn’t run out and buy it the moment it was released. Happy to explain.

My husband told me that getting books from Amazon to my iPad was a little tricky, and I took his word for it. A thing you have to understand about Robert is that he’s *that* guy with all things hardware/software. It’s not just me; most people take what he says about technical things at face value. (Some take it as gospel and still live by it years later, which is a great way of getting my husband to dislike you if you wanted such a thing.)

I should know well by now that when he says it’s tricky, he means that it will be tricky *right now*…for *me*. (He knows me very well.) However, it won’t still be tricky later, not even for me, because he’ll resolve what’s tricky in between reading Jalopnik and ogling pool cues and guns. Our conversation will turn to cars, then politics, then why I don’t like making chocolate chip cookie balls, and then how Nicki Minaj makes me want to stab something just by opening her mouth, and well…. A few weeks later I actually won The Forever Girl in a game of Twitter hangman shortly after remembering that I still haven’t bought it.

What’s your excuse?

blogger-image--2013152152

The Forever Girl. First thing…Look at that cover! Seriously, look at it. I’m not just fan-girl squealing here. Covers sell books, and this one is killer. It’s pretty and edgy. And sharp. I’m referring to pixels here…so many images are soft these days, and not in a pleasant romantic way. The model is dainty, and projects the self-consciousness and troubled soul of a woman caught between worlds. She is lovely inside as she is misunderstood without. The cover captures Sophia, so the book is off to a great start!

Cover: ★★★★★

Flip the virtual book over and read The Blurb:

Solving the mystery of an ancestor’s hanging might silence the clashing whispers in Sophia’s mind, but the cult in her town and the supernaturals who secretly reside there are determined to silence her first.

As Sophia unknowingly crosses the line into an elemental world full of vampire-like creatures, shapeshifters, and supernatural grim reapers, she meets Charles, a man who becomes both lover and ally.

But can she trust him?

It’s not until someone nearly kills Sophia that she realizes the only way to unveil the source of her family’s curse: abandon her faith or abandon her humanity. If she wants to survive, she must accept who she is, perform dark magic, and fight to the death for her freedom.

The blurb is…meh. It describes the book, but unlike the cover, it doesn’t capture either Sophia or her plight. For example, the noise in Sophia’s head is the catalyst for everything that follows in the book. “An ever-present static” are the first words of the first chapter. But the blurb mentions the hanging of an ancestor first thing. I think it undercuts the severity of the problem that the reader will encounter first. I’d have moved her desire to solve the mystery to the second paragraph, as what throws her into harm’s way.

Also, there’s nothing in the blurb that indicates she performs spells at all until the 4th paragraph, when it’s clear that dark magic is what will resolve her conflicts. The book introduces her Wiccan practice very early, so the progression towards dark magic is very organic in the story. But in the blurb, it feels very sudden.

Blurb: ★★

First Page:

Ms. Hamilton starts us off in a small town near Denver, Colorado. Sophia is on shift at a local diner, trying to drown out the buzz in her head with Pink Floyd. The effort is thwarted when a Christian cult leader demands to pay her check and leave before the secular music corrupts her.

There’s already so much world building here. The buzz is a hook, and Mrs. Franklin’s audacity sweetens the deal. There’s no way I’d put this book down, so the first page is a winner. And the rest of the chapter has a lot to offer the New Adult audience.

Sophia is a college graduate with a BA in History, looking for a job teaching that she can’t find. She needs experience to get a job and needs a job for experience. It’s THE catch-22 of Generations X, Y, and Z (or whatever they’re called). There is a missing piece here, and I applaud Ms. Hamilton for leaving it out. Many liberal arts fields…history included…are stepping stones toward graduate degrees. Most students don’t know when they declare these majors that they will need additional schooling to put their education to work. Even teaching will require certification, which involves more school. Many, like Sophia, will find themselves back home four years later, waiting tables or something. I find Sophia’s frustration at not being able to find a job, and ignorance of what her education has actually qualified her to do in the workforce, to be incredibly realistic.

In addition, doing something rash to put an end to something you just can’t take anymore, that’s a very relatable, too.

First Page/Chapter: ★★★★1/2

Story:

The Forever Girl spans six months of Sophia’s life, during which she battles a family curse, loses a dear friend, picks up a hot guy that she resists committing to, and wrestles with issues that most of us would need a therapist, (or a grandmother), to untangle. But, that’s really just the window dressing. Sophia’s story is an exhaustive exploration of acceptance. Innocents are hung for witchcraft to calm fears and satiate jealousy. Grudges and wishes are carried for desperate centuries in vain. A ruling council of immortals lay down a strict law that on its surface protects humans, but underneath designed to upset the balance of universe. And Sophia herself, who bristles at the persecution of her neighbors for her Wiccan faith, must learn to trust things she doesn’t understand and embrace herself for who she really is.

Ms. Hamilton illustrates this evolution by having Sophia make foreshadowing observations about herself. My favorite is when the young woman realizes that she wants nothing to do with Charles’ world, but everything to do with him, and that she can’t have both. But that world wants her, for a lot of reasons good and bad, to the same degree that our world, which she holds onto for months, wants her gone. Ms. Hamilton threads the supernatural through every page, every subplot, so when she pulls that string toward the end, Sophia’s life turns completely inside out. Sophia leaves our world behind, and the supernatural world becomes home. It’s ironic, then, that this transition actually has less to do with Charles than with her. Without giving away too much, the supernatural world has been hers longer than it has been his, so I find the fact that she wanted nothing to do with it rather poignant.

Story: ★★★★

The Ending

There are twists and turns in this book, and many of them in the final chapters. With the progression of reveals at the end…and my personal affection for snowballing climaxes…I enjoyed the pace. Things about the world that weren’t quite settled for me fell in to place. Charles, who had some flat spots until the end, finally rounded out for me. Most important for the first book in a series, it ended in a place that resolves the first set of conflicts while setting up the story and major players of book two nicely. All in all, it was a very satisfying ending to a fresh, creative story.

Ending: ★★★★

So, how do I grade The Forever Girl, by Rebecca Hamilton? It’s a solid 4 of 5…on her scale.