Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Hexborn Playlist: Music to Read By

Hexborn is out today!  To celebrate, and to enhance your reading experience, I'm sharing with you some music to read by.

I love all kinds of music.  I'm a singer, and while I'm in the process of writing and editing a book, I often run across songs that touch me and speak to a particular aspect of the story I'm in the midst of creating.  Gradually, I accumulate a list of songs that go along with the novel in some way.

This time, the list was also influenced by the sudden death of my father last fall.  Since he died, I've been listening to a lot of blues and bluegrass, two genres he exposed me to as a child.  You'll see that this Hexborn list is heavily composed of bluegrass and alternative country with a few Blues songs and a couple of more pop tunes.  The bluegrass emphasis is appropriate to the story, since Shiloh, my main character, comes from a small mountain community.

I'll highlight just a few songs for you here.

I chose "Grinnin' in Your Face" by Son House because I adore Son House and because Shiloh, my main character, is the victim of a lot of insults and gossip.  She is bullied because she was born with a medical condition that renders her unclean in the eyes of her neighbors.  She does her best not to allow it to get to her, as advised by Son House in this tune, and she is comforted by the steadfast support of a few treasured loved ones.

"The Water" always makes me cry these days.  To me, it is a song about death and dying.  Shiloh is mourning both her father and her mentor when the book begins, and as I am mourning my own dad, it really speaks to me.

"Love is All" always brings to my mind the character of Silas Hatch, aka "the Hatchet."  He's a man who has hardened his heart in order to be able to fulfill what he sees as his duty, but there is enough of that heart left to contain some very strong loyalties and sentimental ties.

You can listen to the whole playlist on Spotify, but if you don't have Spotify, here is a list of songs and artists:

  • "Jolene" by Rhoda Vincent
  • "Dance Upon Your Grave" by The Brothers Comatose
  • "Troubles" by Anne and Elizabeth
  • "Heaven's Gate" by Dawn Landes & Piers Faccini
  • "Twitch and Tug" by Hugo
  • "Once Was Lost" by Old Bear Mountain
  • "Sing to the Mountain" by Elephant Revival
  • "Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor" by Mississippi John Hurt
  • "Blue Ridge Mountain" by Hurray for the Riff Raff
  • "The Body Electric" by Hooray for the Ridd Raff
  • "Love is All" by The Tallest Man on Earth
  • "The Captain and the Hourglass" by Laura Marling
  • "Wrong Black Mare" by Brown Bird
  • "Little Sadie" by Doc Watson
  • "From Finner" by Of Monsters and Men
  • "Hit 'Em Up Style" by Carolina Chocolate Drops
  • "The Water" by Johnny Flynn & Laura Marling
  • "Spirits" by The Strumbellas
  • "The River Song" by Old Bear Mountain
  • "Grinnin' in Your Face" by Son House
  • "Tusk" by Fleetwood Mac
  • "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes
  • "Can't Catch Me" by Avicii
I hope you enjoy listening as you read!  Grab your copy today, in either ebook or paperback.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


Since Hexborn releases tomorrow (!), I thought I'd do a round-up of some of the early reviews.  I hope their reactions make you excited to get your hands on this story.  Happy reading!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Coloring for Mental Health

I've become a big fan of adult coloring books since my Dad died last fall.  I've been dealing with a fair amount of anxiety and grief since then, and coloring has been one of my coping mechanisms.  I find it meditative, and it keeps my hands busy.  I find it helps me focus during church services as well.  I thought I'd share some of my fave products with you guys so you can benefits from my hard-won shopping expertise in this area.

Sharpie Ultra Fine on Color Cute by DesignOriginals

For the coloring books, paper quality is important.  You want smooth, thick paper.  I prefer those with the design on only one side, as I like to use markers, and you can have problems with bleedthrough.  With colored pencils, it isn't such an important issue, unless you like to hang, frame, or otherwise use your finished pages.  I prefer perforated pages, as I like to remove the page I'm working on.  It prevents bleedthrough to the next design, and it's easier to position and rotate your work.  It also avoids having to hold the book open. Two brands I've been mostly happy with are Design Originals and Paige TateDesignOriginals books have the added convenience of being purse-sized.  Here's a peek at some of my favorite coloring books.

DesignOriginals, Paige Tate, Unity &Fellowship

As for markers, I have tried many brands.  My favorite water-based markers are the Ohuhu Dual-tipped markers, though the fine side runs out pretty quickly if you use them a lot like I do.  This leads to streaking.  The brush strokes are very visible with the brush end and sometimes streaky on both ends, as you can see in the photo below. 

Ohuhu Markers on Paige Tate pages

For the alcohol-based markers, Colorona is great for coloring larger areas, with zero streaking and rich color as seen in the photo below.  They are nice and chunky, so easy on the hands.  The caps don't match the ink very well, however, and the "fine tip" isn't very fine.  Good old Sharpie Ultra Fine are excellent for more detailed work, but they can be expensive.  The color quality is great, though.  If you see them on discount, grab them.

Colorona Markers on pages from Color Cute by DesignOriginals.

My current recommendation for markers is that you go alcohol based (if you can keep them away from your kids, as they are permanent).  They bleed more, but I prefer that to streaking.  If you have a light touch with the markers, you can limit the bleeding of the link.  My current favorites are Colorona and Sharpie Ultra Fine as seen below.

Happy coloring!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

RRBC Spotlight Author Joyce Shaughnessy

I'm so pleased to welcome today Joyce Shaughnessy, July's Rave Reviews Book Club Spotlight Author.  Be sure to check out her book, A Healing Place.  Take it away, Joyce!

Writing 101

I am always looking for ways in which to educate myself about the process of writing. I highly recommend Writers Digest, which I devour every month it comes out. There are great articles written by famous authors, educators, and occasionally publishers. There also write about agents and include a list of agents who are looking for clients. It’s a great magazine for new writers as well as everyone else. Also included are articles about self-publishing. I think that’s so important because there are more and more self-published authors. I have gone to writers conferences from Dallas, Texas, to Los Angeles, to New York. The only downside is the cost. On the other hand, RRBC Writers Conference is held online so is available for authors everywhere.

It can be found at: It offers a variety of subjects about the art of writing and publishing, and the cost is very minimal. I believe that every writer owes it to himself to check it out. You won’t be sorry!

Author Bio

Joyce Shaughnessy has published five books in the last seventeen years. The first three, A Healing Place, Blessed Are the Merciful, and The Unsurrendered, are romantic historical fiction based upon the Dust Bowl in the Great Depression and WWII in the Pacific. They reflect her love of history and historical fiction. She is also a certified editor, and has edited four anthologies and several novels. She loves editing almost as much as writing.
She has two finished manuscripts on her desk. She hasn’t found the proper home for them yet, but will hopefully soon. She has lived with her husband in Midland, Texas for the last twenty-six years. They share a love of reading and own a very large collection gathered over the years.

Connect with Joyce online!

Twitter: @AuthorJoyceS

Facebook: @joyceshaughnessy1


Book Blurb

A Healing Place is based on the Thirties and Forties and emphasizes the power of love, sacrifice, courage and prayer. The Millers move to Texas from Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression. Their son-in-law, Jed, is sent to the Philippines during WWII where he walks the Death March.

Friday, June 22, 2018

New Release: The Alternative by S. Burke

Today, I'm pleased as punch to be hosting fellow Rave Reviews Book Club Member Suzanne Burke  who is promoting her new release, The Atlernative. Take it away, Soooz!

Welcome to Day 6 of my Choose "THE ALTERNATIVE" Blog Tour, with my grateful thanks to my marvelous host. Thank you for joining me here.

Book Blurb

There are those that cling unreservedly to the lifeboat that believing in Karma hands them so willingly.
They work, they live, and they function in a world that allows them the option of unreservedly trusting that Karma has no deadline.
Until they are handed the spark that ignites them into becoming the instrument of Karma itself.
There are others who have had all they once held to be truths, everything they once stood for and took pride in, torn apart and ripped from them by the hand of a cruel fate.
Then, of course, there are those who believed in nothing and no one, to begin with ...
These are their stories.
The stories of people both good and bad, who made the choice to exact "The Alternative."


Join me today as I share a brief glimpse into Chapter 6 of "The Alternative."

"Eternally Yours."

The Mayor of NEW YORK is in love. It IS love ... isn't it? He's the man the pundits view as a likely candidate for the Highest Office in the Land. Highly respected and well connected. Of course ... it just has to be love.
A brief extract.

Chapter 4. Eternally Yours.

Saturday 09/15/09. 9. 30 am. New York City. Penthouse Trump Towers.

The man hung up the phone and smiled at his reflection in the large mirror.
Finally, after all this time spent waiting, tomorrow will be ours. All of our tomorrows, forever more. Just us, together at last, the way it was meant to be. You smile back at me from the framed photograph that takes pride of place on my bedside table.
It’s an older picture and I have so many others, but this one…this one is my all-time favorite…that smile is just for me, and not meant to be shared with your millions of fans worldwide. 
Tonight it is your hometown crowd… and New York does love its favorite girl.  
Another sellout concert my darling, no mean feat at Madison Square Garden. I will as always be front row center, cheering and bellowing just like the rest of them, yet nursing happily my own special secret, our secret.  
When you send me our little signal, my heart will swell with pride, as it always does. 
I have waited too long for this night…way-way too long. 
No matter. I understood your need to do this last world tour. You had to say your farewells to all the people that adore you on a global scale. You enslaved them as always, leaving them begging and screaming for more.
That is the way to do it my sweet one … always leave them wanting more. 
I glance around at all the memories, the wonderful photographs of you at every stage of your astronomical rise  We have so much time to catch up on …, and finally, our together time will begin. 
I will spend today completing all the myriad arrangements; I still have much to do. I couldn’t possibly leave this to my staff to attend to.  
Everything must go perfectly, and the best way to ensure that of course, is to do it myself.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Again my sincere thanks to my host, and to the great crew at 4 Wills Publishing for organizing my blog tour.

Author Bio:
Suzanne Burke resides with her daughter and grandson in a small country town located hundreds- of miles to the west of her previous home in Sydney Australia.

Suzanne had long wanted to write, life interrupted and she didn’t begin her journey into the world of writing until she was in her early fifties.

Suzanne has written her memoirs under the author name of Stacey Danson, both her non-fiction books have ranked in the top 100 paid in Kindle on Amazon. “Empty Chairs” and “Faint Echoes of Laughter” continue to earn wonderful reviews.

Suzanne writes her powerful Thrillers “Acts Beyond Redemption” and “Acts of Betrayal” and her Paranormal anthology “Mind-Shaft” as S. Burke.

"This tour sponsored by"

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Five-Star Review for Hexborn from Readers' Favorite

I'm thrilled to share this early, 5-star review for Hexborn, courtesy of Carol Beth Anderson from Readers' Favorite.

Hexborn: The Hexborn Chronicles Book 1 by A.M. Manay tells the riveting story of Shiloh Teethborn, a sixteen-year-old orphan. Shiloh is hexborn, accustomed to being an outcast due to the physical evidence of curses she received before birth. But not everyone rejects Shiloh. She has magical abilities, and the chief minister of the kingdom, Silas Hatch, thinks she will be of value to the king. Silas takes Shiloh from her small-town life and brings her to the capital to live in the palace, attend classes in magic, and serve the royal family. It doesn’t take long for Shiloh to attract attention, thanks to her considerable power. She must quickly learn to navigate the rocky paths of politics, relationships, and society. At every step, Silas is there to help her—but can she trust the man known as “the king’s hatchet”?

It’s been some time since I’ve found myself so intrigued by a new fantasy realm. The magical setting of Hexborn is drawn with vivid color and depth, and it’s populated by nuanced, fascinating characters. Shiloh’s vulnerability and strength join to make her immensely likeable, a character worth rooting for. Beneath the stories of intrigue and relationships, Hexborn presents deeper messages about prejudice, both societal and personal. I’m already eagerly anticipating the release of the second book of the series. When I’m lucky enough to discover an independent author with such storytelling prowess, I get a thrill out of it. This was one of those times. Discovering A.M. Manay’s writing was a delight, and I’m looking forward to reading her other novels.
Go ahead and grab that pre-order if you haven't already.  Hexborn is going places!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wednesday Work-In-Progress: Plotting wtih Silas

With Hexborn about to drop in a few short weeks, here is a peek at the untitled sequel currently in progress . . .


“I don’t know. Tunneling is inherently dangerous work,” Shiloh replied, worrying at her bottom lip. “And this would be a really long tunnel.”

“So is an attack on a superior force,” Silas pointed out. “And we don’t know how much they know about what happened at the Citadel. They could be ready for us, expecting us to show up here for Loor. Hell, they could have already moved Mosspeak, Penn, and the princess somewhere else. And I don’t think you’ll be able to catch them by surprise like you did the priests.”

She nodded. “It only worked because none of them bothered with wards inside the walls. Their arrogance was the key. But these men will be expecting me, most likely.”

“Agreed,” her husband replied.

“We need some information before we act, don’t we? Before we break everyone out and make a run for it?” Shiloh argued. “The Gernish troops need to think everything is fine for a few days at least, if we’re to have any hope of getting away clean. They might have some people inside the castle, too. We need to know how many, how often they report in.”

“Fair enough,” Silas replied. “We do need to know their patterns, how much information they have about what is going on in Fountain Bluff and in the kingdom at large.”

“We need a spy,” Shiloh concluded. Her eyes ran over the company until they landed on Jivan.

“You really think so?” Silas asked, following her gaze. “You trust him? He could walk in there and give us up in the first five minutes.”

“He’s a good boy. Kind. I saved his mother’s life. She almost died of Red Fever up at Northgate. And he’s got it pretty bad for Hana,” Shiloh countered.

“I killed his father,” Silas pointed out.

“I don’t get the impression that they were close,” Shiloh replied. Silas eyed her skeptically. “I know, it is a risk,” Shiloh acknowledged. “But he grew up in Gerne, and he wore the gray. They’ll be predisposed to trust him. He can tell them he barely got away with his life, ask them for help. Keep his ears open for a few days, then slip away. If he is willing. I feel bad about sending someone so young into danger.”

“I don’t like the idea of sending him in alone,” Silas argued. “I don’t know him enough to trust him. I do know him enough to be worried about what they’ll do to him if they make him. He’s still a boy.”

“I agree with you on the latter point,” Shiloh acknowledged. “I could use a concealment spell, go in myself, invisible.”

“No,” Hatch pushed back. “You haven’t regained much strength since your display of force last week. You’re liable to fall ill any day. And if it overtakes you while you are among those pigs . . .”

“Well, your concealment spell is rubbish, so what are we supposed to do?” Shiloh countered.


Don't forget to order your copy of Hexborn and to sign up for my mailing list for the latest info and sneak peaks.