Anita's Haven

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Fantasy fans, time to rally!

Wonderful news for all fantasy fans, especially family fantasy, all clean text!

One of my favourite contemporary authors, Marc Secchia, whose writing truly reads like a movie, has co-written a book with his daughter! A phenomenal enterprise in a world with dwindling family values, don’t you think?

On top of everything, the book will be out in June, just in time for the end of the school year.

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It gives me great pleasure that Marc has agreed to share a sneak peek into this adventure. Furthermore, you may soon expect an interview right here with both Marc and his creative daughter, on the book itself and also how it was working in a father-daughter partnership. So stay tuned because the interview will be coming soon, along with the buy links for the book. Mmmmmm, The Horse Dreamer is certainly on my family to-be-read list!

(All materials used in the post with Marc Secchia’s permission.)

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Book blurb

Surprise! (5th June release) An epic fantasy co-authored with my eldest daughter.

Trapped in a car wreck, crushed by a train. In seconds, Zaranna’s world is torn apart and she must start life anew, as a survivor. A double amputee.

Yet why does this promising equestrienne remember a flash of sulphurous fire, and a crimson paw hurling her mother’s car onto the train tracks? Why does a tide of beguiling butterflies flood her increasingly chaotic dreams?

As Zaranna Inglewood adjusts to life minus legs, plus gorgeous Alex, the paramedic who cut her body from the wreckage, she learns the terror of being hunted. Relentless and inimical, the enemy lures her to a world where dreams shape reality. Equinox. A world of equinoctial storms; lashed by titanic forces of magic, dominated by the Pegasi and their centuries-old enmity with Human Wizards and the Dragons. This is a world where a girl can Dream her destiny. Where her soul can fly, or be chained forever.

She is Zaranna, the Horse Dreamer. Survivor. Fighter. A girl who doesn’t need legs to kick an evil fate in the teeth. All she needs is courage–the courage to Dream.

Sneak peek into ch.1

Chapter 1: Double Loss

THE CAR PLUNGED over the barrier.

A flurry of branches shattered the windscreen. Glass sprayed Zaranna’s face. She heard a shriek–but had it been the sound of the car’s roof peeling off, or the voice of her own terror? The seatbelt slashed her neck as the car careened along, rattling her teeth like beans in a gourd shaker.

Momentarily, something eclipsed the full moon. Leathery arches. A flash of furnace-hot fire, suddenly snuffed out. There came a horrendous, unending series of collisions. Her mother’s blue Ford Focus bucked like a wild horse fighting its first taste of the rope. Zaranna choked on a slurry of mud, bitter leaves and glass shards. She flung out an arm as the dark earth reared up, but the force of the final impact hammered her forehead against the dash nonetheless.

She blacked out.

* * * *

“Zaranna! Zara! Oh, God, someone please help!”

A hand slapped her cheek, twice. Zaranna moaned, “Uh … don’t hit …” Her eyelids fluttered. “Mom? Is it morning?”

“Come on, baby girl. We’ve got to get you out. Now!”

The urgency in her mother’s voice cut right past a most annoying habit, calling her sixteen year-old daughter ‘baby girl’. Talk about embarrassing her in front of friends. But she had never heard her mother roar like this, not even when six year-old Zaranna had tried to calm a rearing horse, only to be kicked clean across the stall. She still wore that scar just beneath her fringe, top-right of her heart-shaped face. Spitting out a bitter scrap of leaf, she tried to glance about. To understand. Only, reality was obscured by smoke and pain and a coppery tang of blood in her mouth. She heard a sibilant whistling of escaping gases somewhere nearby.

Her mother’s hands tore at the seatbelt, at the dash, at her clothes. Thoughts and impressions faded into and out of her head as if they were the ends of trailing rainbows. Why couldn’t she feel her legs? Why could she see the stars overhead? Unclipped, the seatbelt snaked past her left ear. Her mother wrenched at her shoulders; Zaranna screamed the piercing note of a hunting hawk. Her knees!

She had never known such agony, a sightless, white-hot tidal wave that sank her into oblivion. When awareness returned, her mother had a tree branch wedged down past her trapped legs. She heaved at it with all her strength.

“Move! Open, curse you …”

Susan Inglewood never swore. Not even when she had sliced the tip off the ring finger on her left hand while chopping carrots last year. She had stared at the offending flap of skin as though it belonged to an imposter. Her mother heaved at the crumpled dashboard so hard that the metal groaned; weeping, kicking the car’s twisted door as she leaned in through the passenger window–where was the window? Nor was there a roof, just cool evening air all the way to the stars.

Zaranna’s head lolled helplessly, as though her neck muscles had been severed.

Her mind rambled, confused. August skies. Leaving her grandmother’s home near the tiny village of Lacey Green to begin the long drive north up the M40 to Yorkshire, the late afternoon sunshine painting the forested Chiltern hills in vibrant autumnal hues. Later, she must have drifted off to sleep.
She remembered waking to a honking sound before the flying–the horn blasted again, a deep, animalistic groan that rattled her teeth. Closer. Lights dazzled. A low rumbling communicated through her spine to her dull awareness.
They were on train tracks! She gasped, “Train! Get me out! Get me–aaaaahhh …”

The tearing! Her legs felt like wet strands of spaghetti, curled under the crumpled dash–a lunchbox-sized space that could never have contained her limbs, Zaranna realised. Something was wrong. Badly wrong. She was imprisoned in the wreckage.
She heard herself begging, somehow, above the escalating roar of the onrushing train and the hissing and squealing of brakes as the great juggernaut tried to slow in time, but it loomed inexorably … and her mother still yanked at her arm, her face a stark mask lit by the train’s headlights … the Ford Focus quaked … it was too close. Too late.

“Mom, go.”

“Baby–”

“Go!” She tried to shove her mother away.

Even the train’s frantic honking succumbed to the thunder of thousands of tonnes of steel bearing down on their family car. All was light. All was terror, and the visceral knowledge of certain death.

Zaranna did not know from where she summoned the strength to swat her mother, but the last she saw of her was a flutter of white blouse beyond the dazzling beams. She saw the world in flashes of stop-motion, the prisms of light cast by the train’s powerful headlights seeming to yearn toward her upturned face, knowing that her body had, incongruously, fallen from muscular spasm into limpness. Curiously, her eyes tracked a luminous carmine-and-yellow butterfly as it flitted across her vision. Surely a dream; a fragment of beauty spawned by the expiring despair of her mind.

Just once, she sighed for all that was lost of her life.
The train plowed into the driver’s side door with monstrous force, caving it in like an eggshell, flipping the small car into the air as it charged onward without a care.

Now she was flying, too.

* * * *

The sensation of flying resolved into a horse’s smooth canter. Zaranna rode her favourite horse, Misty Dawn, along a vast curve of pristine beach, miles and miles of bone-white sand broken only by a rusty shipwreck jutting out of the stark expanse in the distance. Fierce African sunshine baked her cascade of sun-bleached blonde tresses. Snow-white gulls cawed softly overhead in a cloudless blue ocean. Misty Dawn’s hooves thundered across the hard-packed sand in the first wash of surf, kicking up clouds of sea-foam which matched the colour of her coat.

Noordhoek beach, near Grandfather’s farm in Cape Town, was her favourite haunt in the world. Five miles of uninterrupted sand, as lonely as the skies were wide and the day long, a place where a free-spirited mare could fill her lungs with salty goodness and run until her heart pounded for the joy of the gallop. Misty Dawn jawed at the reins as though aware of her rider’s thoughts. Bareback, they seemed clothed of one flesh, the communication so instinctive that it transcended the need for speech. Without warning, the handsome mare flicked the creamy length of her mane–brushed out before sunrise that morning–and made a prancing series of dance-steps, before pinning back her ears and shooting the breeze with an abandon that filched Zaranna’s breath right out of her throat.

“Faster, Misty!” she laughed.

Misty Dawn kicked up her heels and showed the watching gulls why she had been a fine racehorse in her day, before a drunken groom had permanently injured the thoroughbred. The stable had decided to put her down. Zaranna’s father, Peter, brought her home one afternoon in a padded horse trailer. They spent the next three years rehabilitating the mare. Gradually, Misty’s terror of humans lessened and she learned to gallop again, but not as before. Her gait exhibited a noticeable hitch and she tired easily, but that fiery champion’s blood demanded daily exercise. Now, Zaranna and the horse she called her own had developed an understanding her father called extraordinary.

Only, what was Misty Dawn doing on Noordhoek beach?

The thrill of speed faded into puzzlement. Misty had never been to South Africa. She belonged on her parents’ farm in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, half a mile northeast of Malham hamlet.

Then, she realised that Misty’s hooves were no longer kicking up joyous sprays of seawater. Crazy. This was some dream.

“Misty? Are you flying?”

Tossing her mane, Misty Dawn fixed her with burning gaze, one eye literally aflame … and when she spoke, her voice was a growl issuing between fangs that lengthened before her rider’s incredulous eyes. “So, you’re finally awake? Time to die properly, Zaranna, daughter of–”

Back in the car, helplessly belted in as it plunged down a sharp embankment toward the train tracks, Zaranna’s scream blotted out the remainder of the creature’s words. Branches lashed her face. She flung out an arm to brace herself, but the impact cracked her head against the dashboard regardless.

She drowned in endless darkness.

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Thank you, Marc. Can’t wait for the interview!

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When your kid loves your book♡

My 6-year-old daughter was watching TV this afternoon when she turned around and asked me: “Mum, do you remember that story we read about a little penguin who goes looking for colours and almost dies in an oil spill? I liked that one.”

So I said: “Yes, honey, it’s mummie’s story. I wrote it.”

And she raised her eyebrow and said: “Oh. Do we have it?”

Guess I do have to work on those paperbacks then. Good thing Winky’s Colours is both ebook and paperbook.

Key thing – she likes it! Yay!

Winky’s video

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Awesome teasers – THE SECRET by Karen J. Mossman

Introducing a fellow author’s new, free during promo, romance book, with a free sneak peek for you. Karen J. Mossman is one of the very diligent Awethors. Please, welcome her new book with a share, purchase and review.

All the book materials are used here with the author’s permission.

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The Secret

**Free**

25th-26th-27th May

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Book blurb

Kerry O’Brien has a secret so terrible it burns inside her. All she wants is to be part of a normal family, but with a stepfather like Bill, that is impossible.

Set in the 1970s when secrets like this were only ever whispered about, Kerry somehow keeps her humour by pretending everything is fine. Then she meets biker Tommy, and he has his own secret; one that impacts on her.
Kerry’s secret becomes harder to keep and the tell-tell signs harder to hide. Can she keep it together? Can Tommy and Kerry get it together?

Then the worst happens and Kerry’s secret is a secret no more.

Sneak peek

‘This is where I work,” he said, as we entered a joiner’s workshop. I could see half built furniture with lots of wood shavings on the floor and various types of cutting equipment. We walked over to one half built piece of furniture.

“This is mine,” he said. “I’m working on it at the moment.” It was wardrobe and it hadn’t got any doors.

“How on earth do you make these?” I asked running my finger through a pattern in the wood.

“With this, it’s called a router.” He held up some kind of tool. “Just look inside here,” he said, indicating inside of the wardrobe.

I peered just behind where the door would be, and saw he’d scraped TS 74 in the wood. “Oh yeah.”

“We all like to mark them somewhere. So should you ever buy a wardrobe, take a look inside, it might be one of mine.”

I grinned. “You’ll be famous.”

He laughed. “Come on, we’ll go into the tea room.”

We went up some stairs and into a big kitchen. There was a table in the centre and on it were mugs and some still contained tea that had gone cold and congealed. I pulled a face.

“I know,” he said as if reading my mind. “We’re a mucky lot.” He began clearing it piling it into a dirty looking sink.

Kitchen cupboards snaked around the sides of the room, both on the wall and beneath the counter. Some of the doors didn’t appear to fit properly and some didn’t even have doors. There was a fridge, but there was also a bottle of milk standing on the top, it’s contents half empty and I just had the feeling I wouldn’t want to drink it. In fact, everything looked grubby.

“I would offer you a brew…”

I laughed, “Not a chance, some of those cups look like they’ve never been washed.”

“Come over here,” he said, standing by the table.

“Why?” I asked a little dubiously.

“I want you to lie on it.”

I frowned, “Why?”

He looked at me with mischievous eyes and my pulse quickened. “I want to draw you.”

Draw me? I didn’t expect that. Was I disappointed? Did I think he was going to make mad passionate love to me right there on that table top?

I managed to giggle and stood on the chair, then onto the table and lay down, feeling a bit silly. I let him manoeuvre me into position and felt even sillier.

“Relax, Kerry.”

“Do you know how hard this table is?”

He pulled out a chair and sat down a little way from the me. Producing a sketchpad from somewhere, he began to draw.

“Well, this is nice,” I said, feeling the back of my head on the edge of the table as I peered at the ceiling and my hair hung down towards the floor.

“You’ve no idea,” he said, glancing up at me and then down to the sketchpad as his pencil moving quickly.

“Hmm, I wonder what’s for tea tonight. Wood chips? Or wardrobe sausage?” I pondered.

“Keep still.”

“I am still; in fact I’m so still you can hardly tell I’m breathing.”

“Your mouth is moving.”

“Can you draw an open mouth?” I puckered it.

“Not in the way you mean, shut up a minute.”

I mentally counted to 60 and then said, “My back is aching.”

“Okay,” he said, standing up and snapping the pad closed. “Finished.”

“Can I see it?”

“No, you can’t, I need to finish it first.”

“I thought you just said you’d finished.”

“Hmm,” I loved the rumble sound his voice made. “These are just the bare bones,” he said with a grin. “I’ve to fill it in yet.”

“God!” I huffed, feigning annoyance. “I’ve been called many things, but bare bones!”

He swatted my bum with his hand. “You’ll see it, eventually.”

We were laughing as we made our way back outside to his bike. Is this too soon to fall it love? Because I was falling right over!’

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What the readers are saying:

The story is gripping and interesting, the romance warm and simmering. I absolutely loved the ending, which gives the story an almost fairy tale-like feeling. All in all, it was a very enjoyable two hour read, and I whole heartedly recommend it to fans of the genre.
S Anderson

I really enjoyed this book and I was automatically drawn into the characters world, from the very first page. Tommy treats Kerry like a queen and it’s so refreshing to read a story where the man respects and truly loves the girl.
Jenna Hodge

The way this author wrote about one family’s life in 1970 Manchester was authentic and enjoyable. I enjoyed being lost in nostalgia for a short time and wallowing in the memories of that era’s music and singers. The well-developed characters seemed realistic and the places were vividly described.
Amazon Customer

About the author

Karen J Mossman lives in Anglesey in Wales with her husband. She had written 4 books, three themed short story collections, The Missing, Behind The Music, Heroes and Joanna’s Journey, a novel set in the 1980s.

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The Secret on Amazon
Amazon author page

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How to take piracy as something positive?

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Having stumbled upon all my books on a pirate website, and not just one, I became annoyed and frustrated. I emailed them to take it down, alerted other author friends to search for their books, mulling over the reason why someone would even want to pirate my little old stuff (which isn’t making any money anyway). And I also asked for advice from other authors. Among a multitude of replies (so grateful to know artists are so supportive), came this video. Although I AM still confused about it all, this gives me a positive outlook on things. It is a situation in oife where I hope one day to be, and I do love being inspired by people.
Gaiman on Copyright Piracy and the Web

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TO MUM, GIFTS FROM YOUR SOUL by Lexa Harpell – my review no.53

Pure love, with sugar and spice

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This is a book which is so simple, and has moved me so much. It is no fiction, it is no lecture, it is no poetry. It is pure love. It has made me smile, cry, think and feel. It gives hope and awakens kindness in its almost child-like honesty.

Moments like these, reading this book, are so rare in this hustle and bustle we all crawl through every day. It focuses on what matters most – selfless love and family, despite and because of life’s turmoil and misunderstandings. The language just flows, soothing and relaxing.

I do believe I will go back to it from time to time. It is short and succint, and carries within it enough music and heart to lift me up. It it not just about mothers and daughters. It is about what matters in life – the small seeds we plant in each other’s lives.

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MY T-REX HAS A TOOTHACHE by Elwyn Tate – my review no.52

This is a cute story in rhyme (hats off to anyone who rhymes – it helps kids read and pronounce words).

I’ve just read it with my 6-year-old who loves dinosaurs, and she loved the illustrations, which more than compliment the verse. The plot and the rhythm lend themselves to TPR teaching and role-play, so you might not be picky about historical and biological accuracy.

Dinosaurs make things fun for kids, and if this book helps your child learn to love reading, or at least makes it easier for them to wait for a loose tooth fall out, so be it. Warning;): kids who love a good T-Rex may roar the book, instead of reading it!

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Step over THE THRESHOLD with a video

Honoured to be featured in the book trailers section of Plaisted Publishing House!

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The Threshold is a paranormal novella with elements of horror, apparently. Well, so the reviews say. A small book with a big punch! I hope so. It came to me during a bedtime read, and was written and dreamt within a week. To me, it’s like a timeless urban legend about the curse of vanity in any form, with a myriad of characters, and a set of elegant villains who get… Ha-ha, better read it for yourself! It’s a short read, and takes about 2-3 hours to go through.
Daring you to try, grateful for reviews!

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The Threshold e-book availability:
Lulu
Amazon
Goodreads
iTunes
Barnes&Noble
Kobo

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Awesome Teasers – SHADOW STORM by Michael R. Stern

Time travelling rocks! From the initial idea of the time machine, through books and movies, the logic and paradox of time have fascinated people.
Think History teachers should time-travel? Well, join one in another Stern time journey through the book portal.

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Shadow Storm Release

Shadow Storm, a new book by Michael R. Stern, will release on Thursday, May 19. The third book of the Quantum Touch series, Shadow Storm continues the adventures of Fritz Russell, a New Jersey history teacher who has discovered that time travel is real.

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In book one, Storm Portal, Fritz discovered that his classroom door opened a portal in time and space, and he met Robert E. Lee in 1965 and the President of the United States in current times. In book two, Sand Storm, the president asks Fritz to help prevent a nuclear war in the Middle East, and to save an Israeli settlement attacked by the Eledorians. Except the Eledorians deny involvement.

In Shadow Storm, Fritz rescues the president from terrorists, visits with William Shakespeare, and becomes the target of a hidden enemy ready to use violence to destroy the portal and upend world affairs. 

Shadow Storm is available at Amazon and currently is on pre-order for Kindle.

Storm Portal and Sand Storm are on sale on Kindle for $0.99 until 5/19.
All books are also available in paperback at Amazon.com

To learn more about the author
Amazon author page
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Alphabio
And if you want, you can contact him at
sternmike52@gmail.com

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(All links provided by the author himself.)

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The Reviewer’s Curse

As some of you may have noticed, I read a lot and review a lot. Not as much as some people, but I have been approached by several authors and publishers for reviews, and am starting to refuse, simply because I am now swamped with books of all genres.

Writing a one line review is really easy to do, and need not be any proof the reviewer has actually read the text. I somehow believe I should do in-depth reviews whenever possible, out of respect for the author’s time and effort.

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As an author myself, I also know how much it takes out of you to put your story out there and wait for reactions. The wretched star system is no help either, as the fast-tracking brain of the modern customer processes the visuals and the maths, and then fails to read the review itself. I’ve gotten and read 3-star reviews which were far more complimentary than some higher ranking.

I have read some stories which had merit, but the editing was done so badly that it affected the enjoyment and even proper understanding of the story. If possible, I contacted the author and explained, not wishing to post a bad review for a good story, badly executed due to time or finances. In the process, I have also discovered some really unprofessional editing services and their money scams, feeding on the dreams of prospective writers.

Things are never that simple though. I have also read novels which had phenomenal first chapters, which entice you and are visible in kindle samples, after which the books follow through awfully, with typos, grammar issues, timeline glitches and overall sloppiness. Such authors obviously took the free first-chapter editing sample service, and then decided that was enough. This way the editor and reader both got cheated out of time and money.

Great covers, by the way, do not promise good stories. And vice versa.

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And then there are books which have so many issues you just can’t get past them. Mind you, don’t think I consider my own books perfect. Far from it. When I review, I review as a reader.

But when you read a simple children’s book, and by simple I mean the language level, which is swarming with basic grammar errors, approximately 5 of them on each page, you just don’t review. To be honest, you rarely read through. And I love children’s books.

What do you do when you read an adult novel which makes you leave it after three pages, because every single paragraph starts with ‘And then…’? Or a poetry book so badly formatted that there are no poem breaks and the titles are the same font and size as the verses, without any introduction or a note about the author? What would you do? Review or not to review?

I choose not to. Trashing people will not fix their books. Feeding on their failures will not improve anyone’s lives.

Would it be fair to warn potential readers? I learned it wouldn’t. There are readers who would go through the iffy children’s book not even noticing the mistakes, but loving the illustrations. Trust me – I’ve talked to them. There are readers who say poets can format their books any way they want, so who am I to say it’s bad. (I write poetry, too, by the way.) There are readers who believe novels using words longer than 4 syllables are too wordy and their authors arrogant. Go figure!

Ultimately, I review when I feel it is worth it. My 3 stars are rare, but mean the book is worth reading. My 4 stars mean the book is really good, with some tiny glitches. My 5 star reviews mean I was impressed with a character, setting, plot or language, or everything. Here, on the blog, I skip stars and just write what I think. After all, it is just what I think about a book.

What do YOU think about the books you read? Do you rate and review?

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PS: I am grateful to anyone who reviews a book. Even mine. Especially children’s books. It means a lot. Thank you.

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