Friday, May 31, 2013

#QUEENKIYA Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh by Katie Hamstead @KatieTeller1

By Katie Hamstead

I am thrilled to have Katie Hamstead on my blog, as she tours around telling the world about her amazing NA Historical Fiction, KIYA: HOPE OF THE PHARAOH! 

(A little back-story for you, I'm the lucky Acquisitions Editor who found Katie! WOOT!) 

When Naomi’s sisters are snatched up to be taken to be wives of the erratic Pharaoh, Akhenaten, she knows they won’t survive the palace, so she offers herself in their place. The fearsome Commander Horemheb sees her courage, and knows she is exactly what he is looking for…

The Great Queen Nefertiti despises Naomi instantly, and strips her of her Hebrew lineage, including her name, which is changed to Kiya. Kiya allies herself with Horemheb, who pushes her to greatness and encourages her to make the Pharaoh fall in love with her. When Akhenaten declares Kiya will be the mother of his heir, Nefertiti, furious with jealousy, schemes to destroy Kiya.

Kiya must play the deadly game carefully. She is in a silent battle of wills, and a struggle for who will one day inherit the crown. If she does bear an heir, she knows she will need to fight to protect him, as well as herself, from Nefertiti who is out for blood.

For this tour stop, I'm interviewing Mordad--a very supportive side character in KIYA: Hope of the Pharaoh.  

I've asked Katie to please first tell you guys a little bit about Mordad, and who she is to the story/to Naomi.

Katie: Mordad is one of the wives of the Pharaoh along with Naomi/Kiya. She is a Persian princess, and becomes Kiya’s best friend.

Jessa: Did you draw from any of the supporting women in your own life to create this character?

Katie: She’s a bit like my younger sister; fiery, a little inappropriate, and places a great deal of faith in Kiya.

    Jessa: Welcome to my blog, Mordad! Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed. 
 I’m really excited to share Naomi/Kiya’s story with my readers today, and you play such a huge role in her life once she’s inside the palace. What I don’t know much about, is what life was like for you before Naomi/Kiya came to live with you. Please share a little about your journey, before befriending Naomi/Kiya.

Mordad: I was born in Persia, the first daughter to the second wife of the king. My father offered me to Pharaoh Akhenaten as a treaty marriage when I was thirteen, as he saw I was his most beautiful daughter and knew I would please the great Pharaoh.
When I was first brought to Egypt, the city of Amarna was still being built, so I resided in Thebes for a short time. I liked Thebes, even if the Pharaoh frightened me, and Nefertiti seemed positively terrifying. I kept a low profile then as I was so young and struggled with the language.
During this time I met Smenkhkare. He developed an interest in me, so I had to hide myself whenever he was around. I was grateful when we moved to Amarna as he didn’t come with us and instead moved between Memphis and Abydos.
I had my first baby, little Hepsati when I was fourteen. She was so beautiful and I suddenly knew what love felt like. Hepsati became the light of my life, my reason for living when all I wanted to do was run back to Persia, especially when I received word that my mother had passed.
I hated my life most of the time, but I did become friends with Abi, one of the other wives, not long after I gave birth to Hepsati. Then not long before I lost my second child, my son, Gerlind was brought in and needed people to teach her the language, so Abi and I took her in.
Then Kiya came. I loved her right away, and my life took a turn for the better.

Jessa:  In reading Kiya’s story, we learn that Nefertiti is a very difficult woman to get along with. Was she always this way? Was there ever a time that the two of you were close?

Mordad: She definitely grew more difficult as her age set in. When she was still young and baring children regularly, she was so beautiful, and knew our husband’s favor for her was far above the rest of us. I think she felt safe then. But when she had six daughters and no sons, then ceased to conceive, she felt the pressure of her position. She started to talk about Queens inheriting the throne, which after Hatshepsut several generations ago, was not received well by the courts.
Akhenaten knew he needed a son too, and cast his eyes on his other wives for them to give him the heir he required.
I’d say Nefertiti felt her grasp slipping, especially as her beauty started to diminish with her age, especially compared to us younger wives. That was when she went from simply intimidating, to mean and spiteful.

Jessa: Kiya’s life would be much easier without Nefertiti in it, but since that isn’t likely to happen, do you have any plans to help Naomi along the way? Anything up your sleeve?

Mordad: I don’t know. I’m an in the moment kind of person. Kiya is the one who plans things, with that rotten Horemheb. Oh that man infuriates me! But, forgetting him, I will help her however I can and will stand by her to the end. If anyone can defy Nefertiti, it’s her. Already I see our husband’s attention turning to her and away from Nefertiti, and I will encourage that by singing her praises to our husband.

Jessa: Seeing what a great support you’ve been to Naomi as she’s taken on her role as Queen Kiya, I wonder if there are any people who have supported you in such a way?

Mordad: Abi and Gerlind have been my friends for some time. Although, hidden away among the harem we don’t get to see or get out much. I must say tough, things did get easier when Abi and I met. She is about a year older than me, but we have been wives for the same length of time. But she is clever and strong. Her father raised her to be a warrior queen after all, so she helped me learn how to defend myself and keep my head up.

The only friend I’ve made outside of the harem is Mehaleb, whom I believe Kiya calls Malachi. He is the only escort guard who never tried to touch me in some perverted way. He is kind, and easy to talk to, and even taught me some fighting moves for the times Smenkhkare comes to visit.

Katie's Links:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

COVER REVEAL! Malicious Mischief (Mischief and Mayhem, #1) by Marianne Harden

Malicious Mischief (Mischief and Mayhem, #1)
 by Marianne Harden

Giveaway Rafflecopter Code

Marianne is giving away a $25 gift card to the book retailer of the winner’s choice. The Rafflecopter code is below:


~When the chips are down, the buffalo is empty~
Am I a flake? Sort of. But I’m trying to change. My grandfather has property tax issues, and what troubles Granddad, troubles me. Good thing I’ve held down a steady job for months. A major big deal. Not the getting a job part—I’ve had lots—but the held down aspect. Somehow, I always end up unemployed, but not today.
Today, I am Rylie Tabitha Keyes, chauffeur to the seniors at Fountain of Youth Retirement Home (FoY.)
It was dawn Sunday as I eased my employer’s van from one freeway onto another. After that, I concentrated on the wet asphalt up ahead. I didn’t want to think about my job history or our financial woes. Instead I focused on the summery sunrise over the Cascade Mountains due east. I stared at it a moment, charmed by its contrast to the more typical Bellevue, Washington gloom brooding overhead.
I should’ve been asleep, but I needed to toss trash from a fundraiser rolling around in the back of the van. Leland Rosenberg, my boss at Fountain of Youth Retirement Home, had asked me to dump the bags at his second business, Rosenberg Laboratory, as FoY’s Dumpsters were full from a recent bathroom remodel. His mood had been edgy, kind of insistent I dispose of them last night. I confess, before I could carry out this task, a minor traffic accident and an all-important overnight obligation had waylaid me. I didn’t bother to sigh over how blunders always seemed to pepper my work performance. Some things were fated to be. After all, I slogged at my job for money not joy. It isn't that I don't like working at FoY, it just isn’t my dream gig. You see, I yearned to be a private detective, a Veronica Mars 2.0. Problem is, my grandfather is against the idea. Dead set against it.
So with the stench from the trash bags mounting, I steered FoY’s van onto the off-ramp and headed toward Rosenberg Laboratory just off the freeway exit. My mind was filled with thoughts of a steamy shower, maybe a few hours of shut-eye before punching the clock at nine. I stared forward, squinted. And iced over. Up ahead. Wrong-way traveling. A panel truck advanced, peeling rubber.
Zeroed in to hit me.
I whipped the van off the road, the red, white, and blue panel truck whizzing past. I slammed on the brakes, fighting to control the wheel. I wrestled with it, panicked, my mind flashing on one fortunate thing: no seniors were in the van.
Tons of hazards burst before my eyes. I struggled to absorb them. A mangled guardrail zigzagged up ahead; its many gaps from other out-of-control vehicles big as life. Worse was the wall of giant Douglas-firs growing beyond, lower trunks scarred, limbs low and swaying.
I was going to careen through the railing.
I was going to hit the trees.
I was going to die.

Book Summary

Career chameleon, Rylie Keyes, must keep her current job. If not, the tax assessor will evict her ailing grandfather and auction off their ancestral home. When a senior she shuttles for a Bellevue, Washington retirement home winds up dead in her minibus, sticky with a half-eaten s'more, head clad in a cellophane bag, and a pocketed complaint letter accusing her of driving by Braille, her goal to keep her job hits a road bump.

The deceased was thought to be a penniless Nazi concentration camp survivor with a silly grudge against Rylie. However, the victim has enemies who will stop at nothing to keep their part in the murder a secret.

Forced to dust off the PI training she's kept hidden from her ex-detective grandfather, Rylie must align with a circus-bike-wheeling Samoan to solve the murder, all while juggling the attentions of two very hot police officers.

Book Links

About Marianne Harden

Marianne Harden loves a good laugh. So much so, she cannot stop humor from spilling into her books. Over the years she has backpacked through the wilds of Australia, explored the exotics of Asia, soaked up the sun in the Caribbean, and delighted in the historic riches of Europe. Her goals in life are simple: do more good than harm and someday master the do-not-mess-with-me look. She divides her time between Switzerland and Washington State where she lives with her husband and two children.

Find Marianne Harden


Saturday, May 18, 2013

DESTINY GIFT is on SALE! Only $0.99!

Genre: NA paranormal romance
Word Count: 73,000
Release date: April 1st, 2013

Thirty years in the future, a sinister New York City exists in permanent darkness.
A student at the secured NYU, nineteen-year-old Nadine has visions of Victor Gianni, an imaginary guy she has real feelings for. Afraid of being truly insane, she explains the visions away as simple daydreams, but she can no longer deny them when she bumps into Victor in real life. But this Victor doesn’t know her, and turns her away. After the encounter, Nadine’s visions change to those of eerie fates, gods she’s never heard of, demons with sharp claws they are not too timid to use … and instructions.
To discover if she’s losing her mind, Nadine follows the vague directions—with the real, rude and reluctant Victor—leading to a man who knows it all: Nadine can restore an ancient creed by unveiling the clues on her visions, and bring sunlight and peace to the world again. But that’s only if the demons and the other evil forces behind the darkness don’t stop her first.

About the Author:
While Juliana Haygert dreams of being Wonder Woman, Buffy, or a blood elf shadow priest, she settles for the less exciting—but equally gratifying—life of a wife, mother, and author. Thousands of miles away from her former home in Brazil, she now resides in Connecticut and spends her days writing about kick-ass heroines and the heroes who drive them crazy.


I heard a heavy sigh and turned toward it. It was Victor. He was leaving the elevator down the hall and coming toward his grandma’s room. He had seen me and didn’t seem happy about it.
He wore faded jeans, a T-shirt, and a thin jacket. Too casual. I shook my head. The fact that my dream Victor and this real Victor were exactly the same physically, while their clothing styles and posture were the opposite of each other still boggled my mind.
He came to a stop before me. “You again.” There was disdain in his tone. I cringed.
“How are you?” I managed to ask and immediately felt silly. I had planted myself here in this hallway for over an hour waiting for him, and when he finally arrived, I didn’t know what to say. Though I really did want to know how he was. The last time I had seen him in the flesh, he’d been jerking on the floor of the hospital’s garage, in pain. “What was that … ah … before …?” I trailed off, hoping he would understand what I was referring to.
He shrugged, his sea-green eyes still staring at me with suspicion. “I don’t know. By the way, how do you know my name?”
I twirled a lock of my hair around my index finger as I considered my answer. I wanted to answer him. I wanted to be honest, but he would never believe me.
As if my answer would pop out of the walls, I scanned the hallway.
At the end of the corridor, a nurse left a room and entered another.
“The nurse,” I almost shouted, hoping he wouldn’t notice my sudden lie. I avoided his inquisitive eyes. “I heard a nurse calling you earlier that day.”
His deadpan expression hid his thoughts and didn’t let me know if he was buying it or not.
“What did you do to me last night?” he asked, crossing his arms. God, I hated how his voice and his posture were so guarded and mistrustful. I wasn’t used to it.
“What do you mean?”
“When you touched me, the shock and the pain went away. How did you do that?”
“I don’t know.” This time I wasn’t lying. I really didn’t know. He frowned, clearly still suspicious. “Seriously, I have no idea.”
His shoulders stiffened. “What are you doing here? What do you want?”
My eyes widened as I retreated a few steps, trying to avoid his toxic tone.
Yes, he looked like my Victor—the same voice, the same hair, the same face, the same mouth that had offered me smiles that had rendered me breathless many, many times. I wanted to touch him, to embrace him, to tell him everything was going to be okay. Maybe if I touched him, he would remember me and he would want to touch me too.
I came closer to him, looking deeply into those wary green eyes, my fingers itching to stroke his skin, to feel it smoldering under my caress. But I didn’t. He was like my Victor, but he wasn’t my Victor. The Victor from my visions would never speak to me like this. He would never snap at me. No, no. My Victor loved my company, loved to hear me sing, loved to embrace me and inhale my scent.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered, my voice croaking under the heavy pressure inside my chest.
Then, I walked away.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

You are now entering AGENT TOWN. Population: MEEEEEEEE!!!!!

YOU GUYS!!!!!!!!!

This. Is. Happening.


I just signed with Marisa Cleveland of The Seymour Agency!!!!!!!!!

Yes, this is a series of selfies--which I despise, BTW--but, alas, when hubs works late, I'm left to my own devices. So. Anyway, this is me, taking pictures of me, signing a contract for . . . wait for it . . .


For the past two weeks, the hook from Chiddy Bang's song, Happening, has been on repeat in my head. I sing it all the time. 

In my head. 

And sometimes not. (Sorry, hubs.)

♫ It's your choice, what are you waiting for?
Cause this is happening
Yeah, this is happening 

It still doesn't feel real. 

Here's the song, so you can all sing along with me. You know you want to:

So, yeah. Apparently, this is happening.

I can't even.

(Side note: As many of you know, DIVIDE is the second novel I've queried. If you'd like to refresh your memory with the very long, rejection-saturated journey I went on with EVER, you can do so HERE.) 

My road to Agent Town, simplified: 

When I began writing DIVIDE: 
November 1, 2012 
(Yes, DIVIDE was a NanoWrimo novel! I finished November with 41K--not quite enough to "win," but I'm still a winner. My mom says so.)

When I began querying DIVIDE (after three critique rounds and an in-depth edit)
April 1, 2013

Total Queries Sent to Agents:  23*
*Of those 23, 13 of them were regular queries. 10 of them were requests from contests . . . (WriteOnCon, Pitch Madness/PitMad and MSFV's February Secret Agent.) 

Total Rejections: 17

Total No-Reply-At-Alls: 4

Total FULL Requests: 6

My road to Agent Town, explained:
 (And in color! Because I want to.) 

Now, to go into the long story, I'll start by saying that this really is amazing on quite a few different levels.

First of all, my critique partner/friend, Tamara Mataya, and I used to talk about how cool it would be if we were agency sisters one day. Imagine us gushing about that a little over a year ago, but knowing deep down that the chances of that happening were very, very slim-to-none. I mean, we discussed it in the way that little girls dream of Prince Charming, right? It's a great, shiny idea, but reality usually has other plans. There are so many different agents, and so many different authors, and how on earth could we really expect to find an agent who wanted BOTH of us, and who we also BOTH wanted?

What are the odds of that happening, right?


Wrong. Take that, odds! Tam signed with Marisa back in the beginning of the year! o.O

Critique partners and agency sisters FTW, Tam!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3 

(You can read Tam's awesome agent success story HERE. And hey, while you're there, sign up for the blog so you can stay in the loop about PitchMAS! Our PitchMAS in July event is right around the corner!)

So, the second awesome thing about this, is that about a month ago, I pushed (literally strong-armed forced and threatened) my editor/friend, Krystal Wade, to enter Brenda Drake's Pitch Madness. When she didn't get through the blog rounds, she was discouraged and ready to skip querying all together. She's multi-published, and knows her way around the publishing world with her eyes closed, and I have NO DOUBT that she would have been successful with any route she chose . . . but something made me urge her to twitter pitch for #PitMad. I even went as far as coming up with pitch ideas for her, just trying to pique her interest. 

Well, it worked (*grin*), and Krystal received at least SEVEN requests that day!

Then you know what she did?

Go on, guess.



This brings us to the most awesome part of the story--as if having two very close friends as agency sisters isn't freaking RAD enough, right!?


Well, this time last year, almost exactly a year ago, I entered EVER into a contest Marisa was hosting on her blog. At the time, she was still an intern at The Seymour Agency, mentoring under Nicole Resciniti. To be honest, entering this contest (as well as the other one I entered around the same time) was a last ditch effort for me. I was beyond fried from losing so many contests with EVER, and receiving over 100 rejections--most of them form because I obviously wasn't even good enough to warrant feedback or a Dear Ms. Russo instead of a Dear Author. Basically, my negative inner voice was on a rampage. I was ready to shelve EVER and borderline ready to quit writing all together. I mean, I obviously wasn't any good.
(I know you other writers know the feeling. I still struggle with it now, even as a published author--maybe even more so at times when reviews are extra negative. I think the trick is to just keep going. Though that in itself can often be, well, tricky.) 

Anyway, when I entered Marisa's contest, I also entered a contest on Sharon Bayliss' blog. This is the contest that eventually led to my friendship with Krystal Wade, and the contract with Curiosity Quills for The EVER Trilogy.

Bck in the end of May 2012, as I was nudging agents and other publishers, letting them know about my offer from CQ, I completely overlooked the contest I'd entered on Marisa's blog.

Then I found out I was a finalist. O.o

So, in one hand I had an offer of publication from CQ (as well as another offer from another small house), and in the other hand I had the chance to possibly win Marisa's contest and have my work critiqued by Nicole Resciniti.

What to do!?

I could have rejected the publishing offers I'd received, or requested more time, but my doubt crept in, and I knew the kind of bad luck EVER had in contests, not to mention the absolute lack of success I'd had with literary agents.

So I listened to my self-doubt. Because I do that a lot.

I politely declined the finalist position in Marisa's contest, and withdrew my horse from the race. I signed with CQ last June, published EVER in the Fall of 2012, and the rest is history.

Well, my friendship with Marisa continued, and she's been very helpful over the last year when I've had questions about the industry, contract questions, etc, on top of being a friend in the writing community. Then, when she officially became an agent, she hinted to wanting to read DIVIDE, so I knew I'd eventually query her with the finished manuscript.

I just didn't actually think she'd offer representation.
(Remember that doubt I mentioned? Yeah. It's a pesky em-effer, and I HAZ A TON OF IT.) 

Anyway, bing bang boom, long story short . . . a year after Marisa picked me as a top three finalist in her contest, and I withdrew from the running, she is now my agent!

I HAVE AN AGENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, what's the lesson in all of this? 

People like colorful blog posts.  *grin*

No, no, I'm kidding. 

Things really do work out the way they are supposed to, don't they?

We just never know it at the time, but if we can be patient, the right thing will happen. So keep on keepin' on, you guys. Whether you're waiting for the ideal critique partner, or slugging through query hell, or even biting your nails on submission . . . the right thing WILL happen. When it is right. 

Marisa was destined to be stuck with me. And now she is. :-) 

A HUGE SQUEEZE and a shout-out to my irreplaceable critique partners Tamara Mataya and Laura Hughes, and my editor Krystal Wade . . . as well as my many betas . . . for helping me whip DIVIDE into shape. (And also for helping me in my down times, which are many.)

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Brenda Drake for her many, many contributions to the writing world. I received so much positive and priceless feedback from the agents who requested during Pitch Madness, but more importantly, something you said during that time has really stuck with me and helped me believe in myself just a little bit more. You're a writer's rock star. 

And lastly, thank you Marisa . . . for seeing in me and my writing what I often don't see in myself: something to believe in. I'm so excited to be part of the Seymour family!


Just Write. 

Write until the words come. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

It's time for the BROKEN FOREST Claim Your Own Adventure Hop!

If you've landed here during your adventure, skip all this and go below.
If you’re wondering what’s going on, go here to start your own adventure!
And may The Creator bless you on your journey.

Finding the black flower is important, but there’s something else you’d rather search for: Lena.

You head north. The trees in this area are spread out, and nothing but palms and small bush cover the forest floor. You’re busy thinking if Lena will be angry with you once you tag her when you realize you’ve veered more east than north.

“Argh, pig $#!@”

You’re about to turn and leave when someone grabs your pouch.

With your fist ready to wallop the fool who is stealing from you, you spin, right into Lena.

“You should be more careful,” she says. Her big eyes reflect the moonlight.

“You shouldn’t touch my things.” You grab her wrist. “Unless I give you permission.”

She yanks in an attempt to break your hold, but you twist her arm, pulling her into your chest.

Her tongue glides over her bottom lip, and it distracts you, giving her the opening she needs to sweep your leg.

You fall, but not without taking her with you. She lands on top of you and you roll, pushing her back to the forest floor.

Lena is a feisty girl. It’s one of the reasons you’re attracted to her.

A wolf howls.

“It sounds close,” she says. “We should move.”

The howl sounded far. You’re the better tracker, you should know.

You stand, helping her to her feet. “We’re safe.”

Another howl.  Lena presses against your chest.

The warmth of her body sends your mind into a haze, and when she looks at you with wanting eyes, you aren’t sure what you should do.

A)     Do you kiss her? Go here

B)      Continue north and search for the flower. Go here


Hopeless he'll never be more than the boy who didn't save his brother, 17-year-old Avikar accepts his life as the family stable boy, trying to forget the past. 

But when his sister, Jeslyn, is kidnapped, the thought of losing another sibling catapults him on a desperate quest. 

With his best friend by his side, and using the tracking skills he learned from his father, he discovers Jeslyn has been taken, kidnapped by one Lucino, the young lord of Daath, a mystical place thought only to exist in fables. 

And Lucino has plans for Jeslyn.


Eliza Tilton graduated from Dowling College with a BS in Visual Communications. When she’s not arguing with excel at her day job, or playing Dragon Age 2, again, she’s writing. Her stories hold a bit of the fantastical and there’s always a romance. She resides on Long Island with her husband, two kids and one very snuggly pit bull.


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