Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Catherine Stine's Heart in a Box Blog Tour - My Road to Publication


Please wave hello to one of my favourite YA writers, Catherine Stine. I'm thrilled to have her guesting here as part of her Heart in a Box Blog Tour. You can follow the rest of her tour by clicking on the banner above. Don't forget to enter the giveaway found at the end of this post.

Over to Catherine!


I’m a hybrid author. I’ve published with big companies such as Random House and Scholastic, and also with great digital first companies like Inkspell and Evernight Teen. I’ve also indie published with my Konjur Road Press label. It’s all good! I love the freedom and power that comes with indie publishing: choosing my dream team, cover artist, editor and setting my own deadlines and launch dates. But the distribution strength of a large established press is also quite alluring. Each writing project is unique and there’s no one right way.

It took me a while to get published because I was a visual artist first, showing my work in galleries, and I had a serious career underway. But I had a compelling desire to tell stories and I was always writing, even when I was doing art. In 2003 I decided to stop painting, in order to focus only on writing. It’s hard when you have more than one craft that compels you, but very worth it to focus on your one greatest passion.

In a writing class, someone announced that a publisher was looking for middle grade series ideas. I sent an animal-related novel to American Girl. They thought it was charming but not exactly what they were looking for. A year later, I got a call from them, saying that they needed a writer for a series about kids who volunteer at a vet clinic, and since they knew I was good at “animal stories”, they thought of me.

Bam! This was my first job, first real contract, and I had to write a chapter a day because those work-for-hire deadlines are manic. This proved that I could plot and write fast, and it fired up my confidence and passion.

Next, I earned an MFA in creative writing and sold my thesis, a YA called Refugees, to Random House. Skipping ahead a few years, I published more middle-grade stories and some YA novels. I decided I like writing dark fantasy and futuristic thrillers when I wrote my Amazon bestselling Fireseed series, and Dorianna, a new twist on Dorian Grey. I have also branched out into romance, using a pen name, Kitsy Clare. Heart in a Box is YA romance, yet for that I used Catherine Stine. You don’t have to stick to one genre, but you certainly can. Only do what you have a true passion and feel for.

In 2016, I have at least two novels launching, one is a historical romantic suspense, Witch of the Cards. I also have a romance out in June called Girl and the Gamer. There will both be under my pen name, Kitsy Clare. A likely third novel will be YA—the third in my Fireseed trilogy. You are welcome to subscribe to my newsletter for all the launch details (at catherinestine.com).

That’s my path. I’m curious to know about yours!

Thanks, Catherine Stine aka Kitsy Clare


Each heartbeat leads Joss closer a shocking truth that will change everything.

Joss Olstad wins the fight to switch from her private school to a public high to “find her pieces” she lost when the Indian artist father she never knew died. There, Joss struggles with a slutty friend, who flirts with her new love; Indian Culture Club girls who press her on her past, as well as her stoner mother’s lies back at home.  Armed only with her handmade heart boxes that hold private messages, Joss’s search for identity leads her to a scary industrial section of Queens, and a shocking family secret that changes everything.



Purchase Links:


Catherine Stine writes YA and romance. Her novels span the range from futuristic to supernatural to contemporary. Her YA sci-fi thrillers Fireseed One and Ruby’s Fire are Amazon bestsellers and indie award winners. Her YA, Dorianna won Best Horror Book in the Kindle Hub Awards. She also writes romance as Kitsy Clare. Her Art of Love series includes Model Position and Private Internship. She suspects her love of dark fantasy came from her father reading Edgar Allen Poe to her as a child, and her love of contemporary fiction comes from being a jubilant realist. Visit her at catherinestine.com and subscribe to her newsletter for news of releases, workshops and appearances.


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Wednesday, 20 January 2016

And the stars look very different today: facing our own mortality

TRIGGER WARNING: This post deals with issues surrounding death.

It's taken over a week to write this post. Over a week to process the fact that the greatest creative influence in my life, David Bowie, has died.



At first reading, you might think it's crazy that someone I never met could have evoked such an emotional response I shed tears on the morning I learned of his death. That only now am I able to write this post. You might ask, why?

There is of course the obvious answer. He's been a part of my life for 33 years. I first discovered Bowie as an 11-year old girl, when I was banned from watching the video for China Girl on Top of the Pops because there was nudity at the end. I hid around the corner and watched it anyway, mesmerizedFast forward three or four years and I discovered my older brother's cassette copy of Heroes. I'd never heard anything like it. It was so different. Unique. Yet it felt like it had been written for me. 

Over the next few years I discovered and endlessly played everything I could get my hands on, from cassettes to LPs to CDs, his early work cementing my fascination with space and science fiction. My best friend at the time loved him equally, and we saw him in concert for the first time in either '89 or '90. I can't remember the exact year, but seeing Bowie live was everything I'd hoped it would be.

I never found Bowie attractive in a sexual way. There was no girl mad about boy crush. It was the music and the artistry I loved first and foremost, though I will admit he did look hot around the time of Let's Dance. 

My love for Bowie never diminished over the years, and I was fortunate enough to attend his Meltdown concert the day before my thirtieth birthday, in June 2002. What a performance. The Low and Heathen albums played in their entirety. A few of his greatest hits. Bowie not wanting to end the concert and the organisers telling him he had to stop. I'll never forget that night.

What Bowie taught me through his music and art was that it was okay to be different. To be unique. To stand out. To believe in yourself and your passions, whatever they may be. He pushed the boundaries of social convention, which gave others the confidence to do the same. I admired the fact he'd beaten his addictions and turned his life around, unlike many of his contemporaries. So, my love for Bowie's music and artistry is the obvious answer for my emotional response. But the truth is so much more. 

When I heard the news I was devastated. Not for myself, but for his family. At what they'd gone through, from first diagnosis to those final moments. It brought back every painful moment of my own personal experiences of losing a father-in-law and father to cancer. 

I felt all of the pain Bowie's family had and will experience. I knew that everything in him would have fought until the end to stay. The need to continue to be there for his family, especially his young daughter. I'm sure he would have given anything to stay. I understand that pain.

But there is still another reason for the grief I feel, and that's a selfish one. It's to do with my own mortality. When we are in our teens, twenties, and sometimes even our thirties, we believe we'll live forever. Unless we're unfortunate enough to experience some devastating losses at a young age, time stretches out endlessly before us. It's only when we start to lose those closest to us that we start to truly understand that our lives will not go on forever. That we will die. 

David Bowie never fitted into the 'closet to' category in my life. In truth, he was never truly David Bowie. He was David Jones. A husband, a father and a friend. A man made of flesh and blood like any other. As mortal as the rest of us. But by dying, he reminded me of my own fragile hold on life. I'm convinced this is the answer to why so many of his fans say they still cannot accept he has died. They've been forced to face their own mortality.

At the moment, my mind does not want to believe what is undeniably true - David Bowie was never going to live forever and neither will I. But what a life he led. What a legacy he leaves. 

RIP, David Bowie. 

Monday, 4 January 2016

News from the Book Realm - Guardians of Telesma, Immortal Desires, & The Malachite Mine

Are you looking for some fabulous new year reads? I've got three to share with you this week. All have stunning covers created by Untethered Realms favourite, Erin Dameron-Hill. They draw you in, don't they?


Guardians of Telesma



An ancient prophecy. A doorway between realities. A woman destined to save a world—or destroy it.

When Kate Ryan discovers an ancient artifact at a dig site, her life is changed forever. Swept across the boundaries of dimension, she’s plunged into an alternate world of magic, shape-shifting cats—and a prophecy calling for her death at the hands of the Guardian. 

Draven, Guardian of Telesma, took an oath to kill the Outsider whom the legend warns will destroy his world. He hesitates as his attraction to this woman proves stronger than his sense of duty. Now he must protect his sworn enemy against his own people as he struggles to prove the prophecy wrong. 

Kate faces an impossible choice. Stay and try to save those who refuse to accept her, or turn her back on them and the man who’s captured her heart? If she makes the wrong decision, will it bring about their destruction?

Buy links:



Immortal Desires, Book 1 of the Well of Souls series



Dumped at the altar, Deanna Cameron seeks a fresh start in life. She gets more than she bargained for after accepting a new job, when an Immortal Guardian sends her five hundred years into the past. She can't return home and a magnificent highland warrior accuses her of being a spy.

Ian Mackay knows the beautiful woman who appears in his castle must be a spy. After all, she's a Cameron, a clan he despises. The powerful magic surrounding her obstructs his Druid senses, plus he finds he can't stay away from the temptress. But loving Deanna could come with a price too high to pay. Will she be the downfall of his clan—or its salvation?

Buy links:



The Malachite Mine


Horror two miles underground! 

Mary jumps at the chance for a birthday party in the surreal setting of an abandoned Russian mine. Until an uninvited guest turns it from a celebration to a living nightmare. Now all Mary wants for her birthday is for everyone to escape alive. 

A short story.

Buy Links:

Amazon / B&N / Apple / Kobo 


That's it for this week's News from the Book Realms. If you have any book news of your own, please share in the comments below. I'm always on the look-out for new reads.

Friday, 1 January 2016

2015: A Year in Pictures

If I haven't already said so, Happy Holidays and 2016! To end 2015, rather than reflect on the ups and downs of the year, I thought I'd share some personal highlights from the last 12 months. Instead of writing reams, I'm sharing pictures. I hope you enjoy them.

Lazy summer days. Perfect for inspiring the creative soul.


Discovering these two in Exmouth.


And this one at Budleigh Salterton.


Getting to see one of my top ten films at the cinema. Breathtaking.


Wedding day selfie. Congratulations to Andy and Dominae Heavens (far left and right).


Completing NaNoWriMo.


My nephew becoming an adult.


This just makes me laugh. My two brothers and I.


The annual birthday bash at Chez Morris (Can you guess who Jamie is dressed as?). Love these two. They're like family to me. Rachel blogs over at The Myasthenia Kid. Please pop by and wave hello.


Star Wars day at work.


Watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the cinema with friends, Andy and Dominae. I was too young to see the original films at the cinema, so I was like a kid again.


At 43 years of age, I finally have a Millennium Falcon.


Rachel and Jamie's Willow wearing her Christmas hat from Aunty Ellie.


The Christmas festivities were too much for Frankie.


On that note, time for the sofa and Sherlock.
Happy writing and blogging, my friends!