Monday, May 22, 2017

Marked Beauty Cover Reveal

Marked Beauty
S.A. Larsen

Ellysian Press, due October 2017

Uncovering hidden secrets can sometimes kill you . . . or worse, steal your soul.

Anastasia Tate has a secret. She can feel the emotions of others through their life energy auras. Not a welcome gift for a teenager. Especially when a sinister presence begins stalking her.

Viktor Castle also has a secret. He’s tasked with protecting humanity yet cursed by an ancient evil to destroy it.

After Viktor saves Ana’s life, her abilities grow stronger. Drawn together, she senses Viktor has answers to lifelong questions. Only he shuns her at every turn, knowing he has saved her only to put her in more danger.

As Ana struggles with her attraction to Viktor, he tries everything to bury his unexpected feelings for her. But they must find a middle ground. For only together can they combat the dark forces threatening both their lives . . . and their souls.

About the Author:
S.A. LARSEN is the author of the award-winning novel Motley Education, the first book in a fantasy-adventure series for middle grade readers. Her work has appeared in numerous local publications and young adult anthologies Gears of Brass and Under A Brass Moon by Curiosity Quills Press. Marked Beauty is her debut young adult novel. Find her in the land of snowy winters and the occasional Eh’ya with her husband of over twenty-five years, four children, a playful pooch, and three kittens. Visit her cyber home anytime at
Connect with her on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Blog | Goodreads
On the weekend, I went into Brisbane CBD to take skyscraper type shots with my new camera. So what ends up being my favourite shot? The creeping shoots of a clump of violets. Typical.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Best and Worst Hot Chocolate

Disclaimer: Contrary to popular belief, I don't have a sweet tooth. I like my chocolate dark and bitter. Consequently, if you have a taste for sugar, you may not agree with my list.

The Best
Overall, Brisbane makes a better hot chocolate than Sydney, which surprised and delighted me, having moved to Brisbane recently. However, Sydney does feature in my top four.

The Shack: This is an organic wholefood market and cafe with a few locations around Sydney. The one I frequented was in Gymea. This one is all about the chocolate. Rich, thick and heavenly. And not sugary. It had the perfect balance of yum. A true standout.

Murray Street Vineyards:  Located in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. This hot chocolate was made by a resident chocolatier who loved what he did. He made the hot chocolate in layers of silky goodness. A real treat. This is my one exception of having a hot chocolate in a glass. Unfortunately I doubt he is still there after all these years.

Swich Espresso: A little cafe in Holland Park, Brisbane. It's an unassuming cafe on a main street but offers seating on a deck out the back away from traffic noise. The hot chocolate arrives in a large low cup. With not too much froth on top, the chocolatey goodness underneath is a glorious treat. And their hot chocolate is consistently good, unlike so many places.

Oliver Brown: While this Belgium Chocolate Cafe is a chain, it's a good chain. You can order your hot chocolate in dark, milk or white. You have other choices too: mint, coconut etc. I always order the dark hot chocolate with mint. Oh my gosh it's yum. It is sweet, but it's also rich and delicious.

The Worst
The absolute worst hot chocolate I ever tasted came from the small island of Capris, Italy. This one wasn't about the chocolate or the sugar. It was about the sludge. I could literally stand my spoon up in it. I had to order extra milk to make it palatable.

Gloria Jeans: This is a franchise chain that has lowered its standards over the years. The hot chocolate is watery and the froth takes up half the mug a lot of the time. Hugely disappointing.

Some Sydney cafe: Their hot chocolate was so sugary that it tasted like marshmallows, even though it had no marshmallows in it. Not good.

Chocolat Cafe: Found in Westfield, Garden City, Mount Gravatt, Brisbane. Oddly enough, this is a cafe that prides itself on its chocolate. Unfortunately they gave me a cool, watery 'hot' chocolate in a glass when I specifically asked them to put it in a mug, pointing to the mugs.

What is with this trend of serving hot chocolates in a glass? It might look great when presented in a tall glass, but there's no comfort in a glass. To be able to pick up a glass to drink from it means the hot chocolate has to be cooler than it should, and if served hot then it loses its temperature way too fast in a glass, so you're forced to scoff it down before it gets cold. So when you order a hot chocolate, always ask for it in a mug!

Are you a hot chocolate drinker? What was your best experience of a hot chocolate? What was your worst?

Special Note:
The IWSG is now partnering with Reedsy on some upcoming events, and today, May 8, is a big one!
Through the #IWriteBecause project, we want to raise awareness about the power of writing. Above all, writing is not just a vocation or a hobby; it’s one of the greatest ways to express our thoughts and get our message out.

At Reedsy, we believe that every child, regardless of geography, gender or economics, should have access to education and the freedom to raise their voice and share their message with the world. That’s why, for every writer who shares their story, Reedsy will donate $10 to Room to Read — a non-profit organization that seeks to provide girls in Africa and Asia with access to education.

The IWSG asks members to Tweet and re-Tweet #IWriteBecause Monday, May 8!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Zen and the Art of Research #IWSG

This month's IWSG question is about research: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story? I've done so much research for writing that it's hard to name the weirdest or coolest.

I've researched where pippies grow, the atmosphere on Venus, the make up of the sun, how to  artificially make rain, the guns used by detectives in the early twentieth century, what goes into creating artificial intelligence, natural remedies to clear acne, and various backgrounds of martial arts, among other things. Then there is the endless searches for names for my characters, ensuring they fit not only the character's personality, but also the year they were born.

Now for the zen part of this post: A poorly researched story can disturb a reader's calm. I've read stories where it was painfully obvious the author's only research came from watching movies. Anachronisms, falsehoods and inaccuracies can destroy an otherwise enjoyable story.

So my advice is this: Never bank on your readers to care little about the details, to be ignorant of the facts, or to lack an understanding of how physics works. The more accurate your story world is, the more immersed your readers will become--even if it's a fantasy. Don't mimic something you might've heard at a barbecue, or seen at the movies, or glanced across on the internet. Check your facts. Besides, your research might lead your story to a completely different, yet serendipitous, direction.

What do you love or dislike about research? What are some of the things you've had to research?
Hero Lost:
Mysteries of Death and Life
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Can a lost hero find redemption?

What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero’s redemption!

Website - Goodreads 
Amazon ebook - Amazon Paperback
Barnes & Noble - Nook
Books-A-Million - iTunes - Kobo

If you haven't already, pick up your free copy of "Finding Satisfaction in Christ" by joining my mailing list. With your free copy, you will also receive the occasional devotional from me and a free Christian wallpaper.

And don't forget my daily devotional, Cling to God available in the usual places.