B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

Mind Static

Although life has been pretty good to Keyanna Sanders, the day she turns eighteen she’s about to get everything she could ever wish for—a hot guy who’s really into her, a sporty car she’s always dreamed of owning, and the party of a lifetime that no one will forget any time soon.

But before long, she’ll understand these wishes are more than a coincidence, and that they come at a steep price. Keyanna is more than just an average high school senior, her best friend is more than the innocent boy next door, and her sudden good fortune isn’t just by chance. When her estranged father suddenly re-enters her life, she’ll have to decide who to trust, and whether or not the man she loves has become the enemy.

Genre: Young Adult

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Review: A Matter of Grave Concern by Brenda Novak

A Matter of Grave Concern

Bestselling author Brenda Novak unearths love in the darkest of places.

When Maximillian Wilder hides his noble identity and joins the notorious body snatchers known as the London Supply Company, the last thing on his mind is love. He’s worried about Madeline, his vanished half-sister, who was last seen in the company of Jack Hurtsill, the gang’s conscienceless leader. Raiding graveyards, stealing corpses, and selling them to medical colleges as dissection material is dirty work, but Max knows he must gain Jack’s trust. He’s determined to find out what happened to Madeline—and to bring Jack to justice if she was murdered for the coin her body could earn.

Beautiful, spirited Abigail Hale, daughter of the surgeon at Aldersgate School of Medicine, detests the challenging, hard-bargaining Max almost as much as Jack. But she must procure the necessary specimens if she is to save the college and her father’s career. She believes she is going to be successful—until Jack double-crosses her. Then she’s swept into a plot of danger and intrigue, one where Max must intervene to protect her, no matter the risk to his plan…or his heart.

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I had so much fun reading this story! I absolutely enjoyed the interaction between Max and Abigail. They have a meaningful connection in a particular way. They are both educated, intelligent, opinionated and strong. They complement each other very much which makes the story all the better. However, they come from two different words. I have to say that even the unsavory characters were entertaining to read and added much to the story. Jack in particular. One loves to really dislike him.

I have to say I haven’t quite read a premise like this one before and I found it to be creative and as I mentioned, fun reading. Raiding graveyards to sell corpse to medical colleges is something I did not know was done and I’m curious to find out if this really went on. It certainly does seem like it would. The title is perfect for this story, the story flows beautifully and the characters are lively. I will be on the lookout for more books by this author and highly recommend this story.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

Self Same

A stillborn child revived.

The past and the future intertwined.

One girl lives two very different lives.

By all appearances, Sorcha Sloane is a typical small-town teen taking twenty-first century life for granted. While two centuries in the past, Enid Thompson is a poor farmer’s daughter in colonial New England. But Enid and Sorcha are the selfsame girl – one soul split between two bodies in a link that stretches across time. Every night while Enid’s body is sleeping, she wakes in the future as Sorcha, just as the old medicine man prophesied at her birth. And every night when Sorcha sleeps, she wakes in the past as Enid, in a frontier world on the brink of war. She only trusts a chosen few with the truth, until Ben Webster comes into Sorcha’s life and tells her his family has been desperately searching for her for over two hundred years…

Genre: Young Adult

Author Website

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Spotlight: Nixon and Dovey by Jay W Curry

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Publication Date: November 14, 2014 Smashwords eBook: 369p ISBN: 978-1-3117280-3-6

Genre: Historical Fiction

Before he met Dovey, it was just a heated feud. Now, in the backdrop of southern antebellum slavery, it’s a deadly game of passion, murder, and revenge.

Facts: In 1818 Nixon Curry became entangled in one of the most sensationalized murder/love stories in early American history. As a result, Nixon Curry became arguably the most notorious and widely publicized criminal in America’s first half century. His fame derived not from the brutality or number of his crimes but from the determination of the Charlotte aristocracy to hang him. His remarkable talents, undying love for Dovey Caldwell, and the outright audacity of his exploits made him an early American legend.

Story: Set in the antebellum south of North Carolina, Nixon Curry, a talented son of poor Scot-Irish immigrants, accepts a job at a racing stable. Soon, his riding skills rival those of his mentor, Ben Wilson. The fierce rivalry becomes confrontational when Ben frames Nixon’s childhood, slave friend, Cyrus, for the Caldwell plantation fire. When both Nixon and Ben win invitations to the 1816 Race of Champions, the stage is set for an explosive faceoff. During prerace festivities, the dashing, young Nixon meets the beautiful Dovey Caldwell, daughter of the state’s wealthiest and most influential senator. Finding Nixon unworthy of Dovey’s affection, Senator Caldwell betroths his daughter to Nixon’s nemesis, Ben. The announcement sets in motion a clash of cultures, talents, and passions leading to murder, mayhem, and revenge.

How far will Nixon go to have his love? What price is he willing to pay and what will be the consequences?

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About the Author

Jay Curry Author Photo

Jay W Curry is a former Big-4 consulting partner, business coach, and award-winning author. When he is not coaching, fly-fishing or writing he facilitates a Vistage CEO roundtable in Houston. Jay has co-authored three internationally successful books and has won honors for both his short fiction and non-fiction work. When the heat of Texas summer arrives, Jay and his wife, Nancy, head to their Colorado home (http:/CurryBarn.com) or visit their three children and seven grandchildren. Nixon and Dovey is the first of a three-book passion to bring the 200-year-old story of Jay’s relative, Nixon Curry, back to light.

For more information, please visit Jay W. Curry’s website. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Nixon and Dovey Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 1 Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary

Friday, December 5 Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Monday, December 8 Guest Post at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, December 9 Review at Deal Sharing Aunt

Monday, December 15 Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes

Tuesday, December 16 Review at Flashlight Commentary Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Wednesday, December 17 Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Thursday, December 18 Spotlight at Boom Baby Reviews

Tuesday, December 23 Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, December 26 Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Saturday, December 27 Spotlight at Layered Pages

Monday, December 29 Review at Forever Ashley

Tuesday, December 30 Review at Book Nerd

Wednesday, December 31 Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

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Spotlight: The Unquiet Bones by Mel Starr

The Unquiet Bones book cover

Publication Date: November 27, 2014 Lion Fiction Paperback; 256p ISBN: 978-1-78264-030-1

Series: The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton Genre: Historical Mystery

Hugh of Singleton, fourth son of a minor knight, has been educated as a clerk, usually a prelude to taking holy orders. However, he feels no real calling-despite his lively faith-and he turns to the profession of surgeon, training in Paris and then hanging his sign in Oxford. Soon after, a local lord asks Hugh de Singleton to track the killer of a young woman whose bones have been found in the castle cesspool. Through his medical knowledge, Singleton identifies her as the impetuous missing daughter of a local blacksmith. The young man she loved-whom she had provoked very publicly-is quickly arrested and sentenced at Oxford. But this is just the beginning of the tale. The story of Singleton’s adventure unfolds with realistic medical procedures, droll medieval wit, romantic distractions, and a consistent underlying sense of Christian compassion.

Praise for The Unquiet Bones

“This skillfully woven story is a delight to read. The setting is exceptionally well crafted. Highly recommended.” —Davis Bunn, best-selling author

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About the Author

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Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. After graduating with a MA in history from Western Michigan University in 1970, he taught history in Michigan public schools for thirty-nine years, thirty-five of those in Portage, where he retired in 2003 as chairman of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School. Mel and his wife, Susan, have two daughters and seven grandchildren.

For more information please visit Mel Starr’s website.

The Unquiet Bones Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 1 Review at Carpe Librum

Wednesday, December 10 Spotlight & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Thursday, December 18 Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession

Friday, December 19 Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Saturday, December 20 Review at Book Nerd

Monday, December 22 Review at Flashlight Commentary

Friday, December 26 Spotlight at Layered Pages

Monday, December 29 Review at A Book Geek Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, December 30 Review at My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace

Wednesday, December 31 Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Friday, January 2 Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

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My Guest Author Prue Batten

I would like to welcome Author Prue Batten to Layered Pages today to take part in my writer’s series. Today I have asked her three important questions about her writing. I would also like to mention that that Prue is a B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

Why do you write?

I write because I have to. Don’t get me wrong. No one forces me to. But like an artist must paint, a sculptor must sculpt or a gardener must garden, then so must I write. It’s a kind of compulsion that has been with me since I was in primary school.

I had a wonderful teacher in Grade 3 who would place pictures on the board and ask us to write a ‘composition’. The images were often illustrations from children’s’ books but I didn’t know that at the time. I only knew that as I wrote my little composition I wandered into a world and characters of my own creation and I felt immensely happy.

In high school, I loved creative writing and in fact wrote a short story about an English woman who fell in love with a German officer during WWII. It wasn’t a love story but an examination of a difficult relationship in worse times. I often wonder where that story is now…

In matriculation, creative writing got me into trouble during term English exams when I would get lost in the story-writing part of an examination paper. Time would drift by and I would look up at the clock to find I had an hour to answer the rest of the paper in a three-hour exam! But during that time, my writing won an award, a State story-writing prize. I do still have that story and hope that it will be the foundation for a new historical fiction in one or two books’ time.

I only dabbled in writing from university days till my children left home – time was chock-full of family activities. But once the children had left the nest, I really hit the keyboard. I wrote day and night like the Devil Possessed and loved every minute of it. Still do … it’s like a chocolate high and I would be lost without it.

How has writing impacted your life?

Hugely.

I took an enormous leap of faith when I wrote the first book in The Chronicles of Eirie (The Stumpwork Robe) and had it published in the UK.

Book 1
Book 1

Like most independent writers I had been submitting to the mainstream system for some time. The final straw was a close call with an agent in the UK, an agent who loved my work and wanted to take me on … but after a week of ‘umm-ing’ and ‘ahh-ing’, decided my home of Tasmania was just too far away from the nuts and bolts of the publishing trade (wonder what she thinks of Richard Flanagan, a Tasmanian, winning this year’s Man-Booker Prize?). The fact she admitted to me that she would regret her decision was like an electric goad. In that same week, I received an email from a UK peer review site to which I belonged. They were funded by the UK Arts Council and were entering the POD publishing field and was I interested in publishing with them?

I thought about it for only one hour.

The leap of faith was done and I was on my way.

Since then, I have written a further six books and am writing my latest – that makes a total of eight novels to date. I have a bespoke publisher, Darlington Press. And I’ve met the most wonderful people you can imagine … readers! People who have taken the time to review me, to email me privately, even to send me things they think I would like. Generous to a fault.

Gisborne 1

The journey has led me to combine with others, in my endeavours. A book doesn’t reach the public without a team and mine is a strong one – an award winning Australian graphic designer for my covers and print formatting (Salt Studio), a published writer in Scotland who is my e-formatter (Danny Gillan), and two beta readers who give me the benefit of their objective wisdom. Most importantly, the most intuitive editor (and published writer – John Hudspith) that one could wish for. He is a man who knows exactly what i’s to dot and t’s to cross in order to maximize dramatic tension but he never interferes with the authorial voice. In addition, he has a wit that drags me right to the end of a book successfully. These five people, along with my publisher and business manager, have helped the books achieve recognition, winning me awards and notoriety. For example, every one of those books – all seven – have ranked in Amazon.co.uk’s e-book Top 100’s in various categories for over 15 months continuously!

And of course, I must mention the unique partnership with a miniature book press, Bopressminiaturebooks.com in the USA. I think we might have the most original pairing in the world. The press commissions me to write short stories and then illustrates, binds and publishes the result in miniature limited editions which are snapped up by voracious collectors. An international star of stage and screen even has one of our books!

Gisborne 2

So you see, a huge effect. In addition, I have become worldly – learning the trade, so to speak. I have had to refine my computer literacy and become unafraid of the online world. This has led to a plethora of friends that I will have forever. The most wonderful time of my life!

What advice would you give to beginner writers?

There is the old cliché – read, read, read and read some more. Soak it up like a sponge. See how writers achieve, see how what they write affects you, find out why you might like a book. Or not like it.

And then write. Write a lot. Hone it, de-bone it, re-build it. It really comes down to those very basic points. And NEVER publish the first story you write. There always has to be a first one that begins the journey and it must stay in your writing files on your computer forever. I have a trilogy that sits in a box and gathers dust, and there it will stay. Forever.

G3 Prue Batton

If you want your characters to be believable, experience what you want them to experience. Eat stale bread, ride a horse, draw a bow and loose an arrow, wear long gowns and cloaks in a fierce wind, use a sword, climb a mountain, dive into freezing water fully-clothed. Whatever it takes. And feel. Feel it through to your very marrow.

And then soon, if you write enough, you will have the story that deserves to be read widely. When you get to that point, send it to beta-readers, have it edited professionally, re-write it, have it read and edited again. And research the industry, both indie and mainstream because knowledge is power.

Eventually you will be ready and like me, you can take that leap of faith. One other thing I would say is never have expectations of the novel and the industry. Go into it with eyes wide open and be joyful about what might come your way.

Have fun and goodluck!

About Author

PrueBatten_ProfilePic

A former journalist from Australia who graduated with majors in history and politics, I’m now a cross genre writer who is also a farmer, dog owner, gardener and embroiderer.

I didn’t plan to be a writer in those early days, I was far more a reader. But like most writers, I’ve always written – seeing the world through the medium of the word. It was inevitable that I become an independent writer simply because I love being at the cutting edge of something and together with many other ‘indies’, being at the forefront of the New Age of Writing and Publishing is like being a sea captain in the Age of Exploration. And I’ve been fortunate – winning silver medals and honourable mentions for my work and to have them ranking unbroken in the UK for the last year.

I try to make time for other things in life. I love wine, chocolate and cooking delectable cakes and biscuits. I mess about in my gardens, dirt under the fingernails and a plant catalogue alongside a cup of tea. I stitch (I love needle and silks) – to wind down. I walk (a lot) with the Jack Russells, but more than anything I like being on beaches, boats or the water – being by the sea is implicit for my writing to sing.

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Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Author Steven A. McKay

Today I am chatting with Steven A. McKay about his award winning book!

Hello, Steven! Thank you for chatting with me today and congrats on the B.R.A.G. Medallion for your story, The Wolf and the Raven. Praise indeed! Please tell me about your book.

Hi Stephanie, thank you, I’m very pleased to have been awarded TWO B.R.A.G. Medallions! This one is for the sequel to Wolf’s Head, which was the first in my Forest Lord series. Basically, The Wolf and the Raven picks up where the first novel left off, with Robin Hood and his mates about to fight against the king’s forces in the rebellion. Added to that backdrop is the introduction of Sir Guy of Gisbourne, who’s been sent to Yorkshire to hunt down Robin and his mates. The reviews have been really positive so I’m very pleased with it.

The Wolf and the Raven

Tell me a little about Sir Guy of Gosbourne.

Well, everyone has heard of Sir Guy – he appeared in the original ballads (unlike some of the other well-known characters like Maid Marian) as a man who had a fierce rivalry with Hood. I’ve kept that aspect of it alive and made him a charismatic, dangerous swordsman who’s vowed to bring about our hero’s destruction. In the original stories from hundreds of years ago there was a very violent clash between Sir Guy and Robin, where Robin actually killed him and mutilated his dead opponent’s face quite sadistically! I didn’t quite go as far as that, but, as always I do like to stick as close to the old tales as much as possible while adding a few new elements of my own…

Robin faces many dangers and he needs the support of his friends. But what is one of the challenges his friends face?

There’s quite a few challenges for his friends to face – in the book I have more than one main strand running throughout the plot so guys like Friar Tuck, Will Scaflock, Sir Richard-at-Lee and his sergeant Stephen all have some pretty hard times to deal with. I particularly enjoyed writing Stephen’s arc although some readers might be surprised at the things he does. What people need to realise is just how brutal medieval times were – they certainly were much closer to death than we are today and Stephen’s story in particular reflects that.

Could you please share an excerpt from your story?

This is from near the start of the book, when Robin and his men find themselves sharing the forest with a lot of NEW outlaws…

“These other outlaws have no respect for anyone. Someone should stop them.”

“It’s nothing to do with us,” Robin replied, glancing up from his log by the fire, where he sat stirring a big cauldron of pottage.

The men muttered in agreement, but Tuck fixed his young leader with a glare. “Will you still be saying that when they rape someone in Wakefield?”

Robin shook his head, looking away from the clergyman. “What would you have us do, Tuck? We’re oulaws ourselves. We can’t go around Barnsdale hunting down others. All we can do is hope we meet these lads and they join up with us.”

The men shouted agreement at that, but Tuck shook his head. “These outlaws aren’t like us. They’re desperate – starving.”

Matt Groves snorted. “Desperate? I’ve been a wolf’s head for years, friar! Men don’t get much more desperate than me.”

“What’s that in your hand then, Matt?” the portly friar demanded, gesturing towards the bowl of pottage in Groves’ right hand. “All of us here have food, money, warm clothing and a friend at our side to defend us if the foresters find us.”

Matt waved a dismissive hand and turned his back on the friar with a scowl.

“You might think you’re desperate,” Tuck stated, looking around at the other men, his eyes finally meeting Robin’s. “But I fear we’re going to find out all too soon what truly desperate men will do when they’re trapped in these woods with nowhere to run.”

What is one of the differences between your stories of Robin Hood verses the other stories that have been told?

Well, mine are set in the time of King Edward II and in Yorkshire rather than Nottingham. I haven’t seen ANY other Robin Hood stories that explore those areas. In general terms though, a lot of reviewers make the point that my books are quite brutal, reflecting the violent nature of the time period, rather than the syrupy romantic style that the likes of the old Disney or Errol Flynn movies played up. It’s not all blood and thunder, but hopefully my Robin is more realistic than previous versions while still being a good read.

What are some of the other praises you have received about your story?

A lot of people really enjoyed the characters like Sir Richard, so much so I decided to write a novella based around his time prior to The Wolf and the Raven when he was a Hospitaller Knight in Rhodes. It’s called Knight of the Cross and came out in the summer. Other than that, I’ve just received my 100th review for The Wolf and the Raven on Amazon.co.uk and they’ve been overwhelmingly positive – even more so than they were with my debut Wolf’s Head so it’s been really great.

What draws you in the most about the medieval times?

I just love the idea of being in small community, surrounded by nature, with good people, working hard during the day and enjoying a few ales and sing-alongs by the fire in the evening! Obviously life wasn’t really like that for most people back then but it certainly seems a simpler, more wholesome life than what we see around us on the news and in the papers these days…

If here was an audience you have yet to reach out to about your books and you haven’t yet. Who would it be and what would you say to get them to read your story?

I’m honestly not sure. Men and women alike seem to enjoy them and they sell well enough in various countries around the world. I suppose the hardest people to sell to might be the ones that have a particular idea in their head of what Robin Hood should be like – some people don’t enjoy their treasured myths and legends being messed with! To those people I would just ask them to give my books a try – I tried to stick as closely to the source material as possible and all the favourite characters are there – you might find you enjoy what I’ve done!

What are you currently working on now?

Book three in the series. It’s called Rise of the Wolf and is about a third complete. Again, it carries on where the previous book left off but this one is going to bring about some serious changes for the characters so I hope I can do them justice and meet the expectations of everyone who enjoyed the other novels.

Where can readers buy your book?

You can get all of the books in various formats: paperback from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, Kindle version from Amazon and audiobook from Amazon, Audible or iTunes. I really loved listening to the audio versions, my narrator, Nick Ellsworth did a fantastic job! If you have an Audible membership, give them a try!

There’s links to buy, or just to find out a little bit more about my writing, on my website

or the Facebook Page

Thank you, Steven!

Thank you Stephanie for having me again, and thanks to everyone who supports Indie B.R.A.G.!

About Author

Steven McKay

Steven A. McKay was born in 1977, near Glasgow in Scotland. He lives in Old Kilpatrick with his wife and two young children.

His second book, The Wolf and the Raven was released on April 7th, at the London Book Fair where he was part of the Amazon stand. His début novel, Wolf’s Head, was also released the same day as an audiobook.

Wolf’s Head is a Kindle top 20 best-seller and The Wolf and the Raven was the “War” chart number 1.

He plays lead guitar and sings in a heavy metal band when they can find the time to meet up.

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Steven A. McKay, who is the author of, The Wolf and the Raven, our medallion honorees at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, The Wolf and the Raven, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.