Friday, January 30, 2015

Hope for a Better World by Monique Mitchell Book Feature

Hope For a Better World Title: Hope for a Better World
Author: Monique Mitchell
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 244
Genre: Biography/Autobiography
Format: Ebook/Paperback
 Purchase at AMAZON

 The book is basically my memoir; however, there are some fictitious characters but all is based on real events. Flashback to my childhood in Madagascar: country with a fascinating history and a unique population, with ethnic characteristics in my own family.

 Recollecting past personal tragedies in childhood and situating myself in the present where loving people( my family and church friends) are surrounding me, motivating me to be a good person and see life in a happy perspective. In particular, feeling as a great privilege to be part of the melting pot in the USA.

 Recollection of the life at the Faculty of Medicine (Angers), France and the following years in Paris, graduating in social studies. Identifying the influence of the French culture as a pivotal factor in my life and grateful to Bon Papa (grandfather)who, by becoming a naturalized French citizen enabled his descendants to benefit from their French education, while identifying their difference and /or alienation, could also choose individually, how to find a balance between a dual culture they were./are exposed to (their own native and the acquired one).

 An interesting trip to the Champagne region through the wine road and to the east of France (Alsace), rich in war (WWI) memories. And there also, exhilarating history about the Statute of Liberty: designed and constructed (before being brought to the USA) by the French architect, Frédéric August Bartholdi.

 Marriage to an American business man and birth of son in 1965 but early on, had to raise her child as a single mother due insurmountable challenges in the marriage.

 Worked for 20years for the UN in 9 countries in Africa and Asia, all called hardship posts, including those for peace-keeping missions located in politically challenged and/or war-torn countries. For each country, there is a description, besides my administrative work, of history, culture, population etc…

 Farewell trip to Madagascar visiting the tomb of my grand parents with great sadness, fond memories and gratefulness for having raised me as a Christian child with the moral values I still carry with me at this day. Joining my American family on a permanent basis to be with my beloved son.

 Birth of granddaughter, Jade, who is now a teenager and praying for all members of my family to be blessed by God in the country where I am now conveying my message for love and tolerance in my book “Hope For a Better Work”.
 Born in Madagascar and now living in the USA where I joined my family following a long search for what the Creator of the Universe meant me to be, and that search is now well defined. It started to emerge gradually from my childhood and my adolescent years in France, and became more discerning during my 20 years as a UN staff member in various countries of Africa and Asia. As a result of that search, I wrote a book in order to convey the well defined message from the “We the peoples” of the UN Charter: peoples are different, have differences, but all should “hope for a better world”,with love and tolerance.

Monique is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins December 8 and ends on December 19.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, December 22.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


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Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Dream of a Child by Morgan Straughan Comnick, author of A Sweet Little Dream

A Sweet Little Dream Title: A Sweet Little Dream
Author: Morgan Straughan Comnick
Publisher: Paper Crane Books
Pages: 210
Genre: Short Stories
Format: Kindle

 This collection was born thanks to adventures to magical places that my youthful imagination crafted, a royal decree that henceforth let me be known as "The Queen of Details," and a very energetic "role model for today's youth." Writing had always been a comfort, a way of expressing myself since my voice was locked tight due to shyness. But because of these events, gifts, professors, and people in my life, light was shed on a pathway to writing as a career. In this collection, you will find works mostly from my high school years, exploring an array of genres. You'll learn about my younger self--both child and teen--who made me the woman I am today. It all started with a notebook, a pencil, words of encouragement, and a sweet, little dream.

For More Information

  • A Sweet Little Dream  is available at Amazon.
The Dream of a Child
            I have a degree in early childhood education (although I currently work at middle school; go figure), so I have had experiences with inside the classroom of the land of crayons, snotty noses, and shoe tying.  I vividly recall one day when I was in a kindergarten classroom, sitting crisscross applesauce on the reading carpet observing as the kind teacher showed projects, the topic being “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  We tell kids they can do anything, and when they are young, they take this quote by the string and soar to the sky with it!  Their imaginations know no bounds and as I sat there, viewing their colorful doddles of themselves at their dream job at age five, my heart warmed, transporting me to happier, innocent times.  Most kids, I noticed, wanted to be firefighters, superheroes, ballerinas, or princesses. You always have some kids who want to be doctors and that class happened to have tons of future vets. All the choices are darling and attainable to a sweet mind.
Perhaps, I was an odd child.  I take that back; I know I was an odd person, but I was too shy to let it show until I was in my late teens.  I did not want to be any of the normal or unimaginable careers back when we dressed up as our future occupation. I wanted to be a paleontologist.  I loved dinosaurs. Granted, I cannot really recall how I got into them (Land Before Time may be a part of it, but the first one is too sad), but I know I had many children’s resource books about the topic that I still consider precious to me today.  I borrowed a white lab coat from my mom with a name tag that said “paleontologist” in navy marker letters.  I always brought props: I had a red plastic sand shifter, sand, one of my books, dinosaur bones I found at a local museum, and a tan plush mastodon.  One of the doctors at the hospital my mom worked at could not even pronounce my career! I have a picture of a curly hair, grinny me, hugging a plush mastodon, ready to discover dinosaurs.  From age five to eight, this was my dream, my life, my way to change the world.  However, when I read in a book about how most paleontologists have to travel to desert lands to dig up their findings, my first grown up choice was squished, buried as deep as the dinosaur bones.  I hate heat and dry along with the texture of sand. I remembered telling my dad at age eight about my choice to change my career choice in the kitchen, and he stared at me and tried to suppress a laugh.
In third grade, I watched a six-hour special with my mom on QVC that sold teddy bears from six different companies. Stuffed animals have always been a passion of mine, but there was something about this schedule, the hosts, the company owners, and the history of the bear. This was my first introduction to Teddy Roosevelt as well.  My mom recorded this special for me and got me six of those bears and I do not know how many times I watched that tape in my elementary life!  From that moment on, I collected teddy bears, having over three-hundred before I donated many after I got married and I found my new dream: a teddy bear designer.  Writing that down in fourth grade cocked many heads, but I enjoyed drawing teddy bears in cute clothing, with a story I wrote for each bear.  Huh…I wrote earlier than I thought…Getting off track!  Teddy bears still have made a huge impact on my life with their cute fluffiness!
In fifth grade, I was introduced to my favorite teacher, Ms. Mahan.  That made my year special to begin with.  I made some lifelong friends there as well (all boys oddly).  Even though I was still shy and got picked on for it among other things, Ms. Mahan was the first one to tell me I could sing well (I sang a song from the Pokemon: the First Movie soundtrack to her! HA!) and that she admired my imagination, how I dressed up, and liked to act.  Dress-up was one of my favorite past times as a child and I incorporate that into my life still. I was timid to be myself, but I loved being someone different, expressing myself in this way. So, I figured, why not get paid to dress-up and perform?  I had this dream for about two weeks, but my shyness would be a huge hindrance to my time in the spotlight.
Ms. Mahan did not give up on me though.  I had to take a career placement test in fifth grade and the first result I got was teacher.  I was baffled, scratching my head at the thought. My father was a high school teacher, so I knew the ins and outs of education, the behind-the-scenes of grading, meetings, and curriculum.  One of my most beloved past times growing up was playing school with my younger cousins, with me as the instructor.  The light that danced in their eyes when a subject clicked or I engaged them in something new fueled a fire inside my soul. However, I never considered it for me.  I did not want to copy my dad’s path. However, Ms. Mahan had other plans for me, her next sentence changing my life: “Oh, a teacher?  I know you would make a great teacher Morgan; you have the compassion to be one.” And it was like the universe aligned.  I decided to become an early childhood/elementary teacher right then and there and never looked back.  I still am seeking full employment as an educator, but I did get my requirements down, so blessed I get to show compassion and teach the next generations.
There is one career down, but you are probably wondering about writing?
To be frank, I never considered being an author or writing as a job. I wrote to express my timid, locked away voice, to vent, to be creative in my own world of non-judgment.   I began writing Spirit Vision, my first published work, when I was fifteen because my communication arts teacher boldly said he was going to write a book at random one day.  Then he told me I would be a grand character in his, sparking a desire to share a story with the world.  Thanks to my on-going imagination, this inspiration, my high school setting, and my love for the spiritual world, I was able to start the book.  It took me four years to finish the book and four years to get a contract with Paper Crane books after I had forty nos from other companies.  The works in A Sweet, Little Dream are from my public education days. The fact I get to share them, thank them for all they have done for me, is grander than treasure. It thrills me to no end to have my beloved characters and ideas loved by other people, to have my imagination explode, become almost tangible on a page, to inspire others to make their dreams come true.
My occupation is very different from the five-year-old who wanted to assemble pre-historical creatures.  I am not digging in the sand or deciding what color fur would look best for the Japanese kimono bear, but, I think all through my life, I wanted to piece things together to tell a story, create my own thing for others to love, to inspire and interact with others. What is better than writing and teaching to do this?  I grew up, but the colorful world of a kindergartener is still in my heart, fueling, pulling, driving me daily.  So, in a way, I did follow my childhood dream.
Thank you for reading my guest post and joining me for my collection’s blog tour.  

Morgan Morgan was born and raised in the small, yet big enough town of Farmington, Missouri which has magic hidden within it along with bipolar weather. Before she found her path to teaching and the bridge that connects her to writing, she wanted to be a paleontologist, a teddy bear designer, an actor (which she still dreams about, but in anime voice acting form), and an American J-Pop idol. She had been writing since she was six, but never pondered it until her 6th grade Communication Arts teacher gave her the title “The Queen of Details” and her 9th grade Communication Arts teacher informed her she would make a fantastic book character for HIS future book, where she laughed, but it triggered the question within her “Why can’t I write one?”

 When she is not writing, daydreaming, snuggling with her hubby, or trying to educate and inspire young minds at her local school district, Morgan enjoys singing, acting, drawing, playing video games, organizing things, doing goofy voices, confusing people by making them smile with her cute, but unique fashion choices, engaging in social interaction with her friends, family, co-workers, love of her life, and church family, smiling and laughing to burn calories, having ‘me’ time by listening to music and walking, watching awesome TV shows and movies, and collecting adorable plushies, and geeky buttons and keychains along with buying way too many books, graphic tees, and dresses. She is in love with reading as well. Her guilty pleasure, however, is being a full otaku. Anime, manga, cosplay, Japanese culture and more help identify and inspire her every day, giving her confidence and happiness.

Morgan’s first book, Spirit Vision, fuses Morgan’s love for her hometown and the people close in life, the world beyond life, finding the magic only you can have inside yourself, the power of love and friendship, and of writing in general. She hopes to make Spirit Vision a series and write many more books, sharing her always on imagination with the world.

  For More Information

The Angels without Wings Series by Chris Smith ~ Book Blast / Contest Giveaway

AWOW Series Twitter Pic
AWOW Series - Website Banner

AWOW Series - Scepter of Faith - Book 1

Title:  Angels without Wings: Scepter of Faith
Series: The Angels without Wings Series - Book 1
Author: Chris Smith
Genre: YA Christian Fantasy
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
ISBN: 978-1622956319

For God, we fight; all angels have heard the command. Troy Decker has heard it from his parents countless times. All he wants in life is a chance to prove himself and be granted his scepter - the first gift angels receive from God in their war against Lucifer. Standing in his way is fallen angel Kyle Downey, who used to be best friends with Troy’s parents but is now on a quest to destroy all that is good in the world.

Will Troy ever earn the scepter that God has prepared for him? And what happened between Kyle and Troy’s parents? As the War for Sins rises to heights not seen in generations, Troy must find the strength to hold his faith when demons target his friends and family. In this war, there is only one winner. Will the world fall to demons or be saved by angels?

Book Excerpt: 

Chapter 1, Page 1:

Not for the first time in his life, Troy Decker woke from a dream of howling demons. He paused for a moment and reflected on the scene, wishing for what had to be the thousandth time that the dream had been real. He’d prayed for the chance to go on a demon hunt with his dad so many times he’d lost count. He closed his eyes and saw the black claws slashing toward him and heard the fangs snapping at his legs. He could almost feel a sword in his hands, ready to strike the monsters down.

Hunting demons was what he’d been born to do. Most of his prayers to God included a begging request for the chance to stand before the beasts of hell and send them screaming back to the darkness. But as it was, he rubbed sleep from his eyes on the morning of May the 1st knowing he wouldn’t have the opportunity anytime soon. He’d heard so many stories from his parents about the adventures they’d had with his Grandpa John almost twenty years before, but for Troy, only his normal, dreary life lay before him, as usual.

From the look of the sun streaming through the blinds of his bedroom window, it was going to be a glorious day—or should have been, except that it happened to be Troy’s fourteenth birthday. He rolled onto his side and brought his empty hands in front of his face. Only the disappointing emptiness of his skinny fingers and creased palms was present. He closed his hands with one more wish (added to the tally of millions of prayers) that a sword or some other cool weapon was there instead. The lowest of sighs brushed from his lips before he could stop its escape.

“Good morning Troy,” his mom called as she swung open his bedroom door. “Happy Birthday! Fourteen years old… you’ll be driving before you know it.” Her smile welcomed him into the new day better than any ray of sunshine could ever hope to do. “I’m pretty sure you grew an inch last night,” she continued when Troy rolled out of bed to throw on his Nike t-shirt.

Purchase Book:

AWOW Series - The Path To Sacrifice - Book 2

Title:  Angels without Wings: The Path to Sacrifice
Series: The Angels without Wings Series - Book 2
Author: Chris Smith
Genre: YA Christian Fantasy
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Publication Date: August 4, 2013
ISBN: 978-1491022399

For Troy Decker, the world of angels has always been a familiar mystery. Robes, halos, and wings have filled his dreams since he was old enough to crawl. But it wasn’t until the last year that he truly felt like he was one of God’s chosen angels.

He’d thought only a miracle would allow him to receive his scepter. And he was one hundred percent correct. When God granted Troy his scepter, he never dreamed it would be for saving ones of his closest friends. But with many things in his angel life, Troy had to sit back and trust in his faith. Not only in God, but in himself and his family and friends.

Unfortunately, peace rarely finds Troy. With his first gift from God in hand, he must concentrate on the second gift; the robes of an angel - granted for an act of sacrifice. Hindering his progress is a former friend of his parents, Kyle Downey. Kyle is the leader of a group of fallen angels and his sinister plans for Troy bring howling demons and monsters stampeding into the War for Sins.

Can Troy follow the path God has set in front of him? How will he know what to sacrifice to receive the precious gift? And why, more than anything else in the world, does Kyle Downey want Troy to fall?

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1, page 1:

For the first time in his life, Troy Decker was on a demon hunt with his dad. Not that it looked to be particularly exciting or dangerous, but it was better than mowing the yard or picking up his room. All they were doing at the moment was staring at an abandoned warehouse near a neighborhood of small, shabby houses on the southwest side of Oklahoma City.

Troy had been shook awake on the fine spring morning to his dad hovering over his bed with a look of confused determination on his almost always calm face. The normal, perfectly straight part, on the right side, split his brown hair. Barely a sparkle of the yet risen sun filtered through the blinds of Troy’s bedroom.

“Get ready,” his dad had whispered. “You’re coming with me today. Don’t wake up your mom. Bring your dagger. You may need it.”

“It’s Saturday,” Troy had responded as he swiped sleep residue from his eyes and stifled a yawn while he pulled the small sheath, which held a dagger sharp enough to slice paper without trying, from under his pillow. “Where are we going?”

“Have a job to do,” his dad had given as a cryptic response.

So Troy had rolled out of bed, wolfed down an energy bar, offered by his dad, and shot out the door. Not until they were five minutes down the road did he find out where they were headed.

“Nylla?” Troy scrunched his face. “How big of an infestation is it?”

“Big enough to warrant our attention,” his dad had answered never taking his piercing eyes off the road. “We’ve been noticing some activity in the area for the past month. Demon numbers have been increasing all over the place.”

Purchase Book:

AWOW Series - Love's Sweet Sword - Book 3

Title:  Angels without Wings: Love's Sweet Sword
Series: The Angels without Wings Series - Book 3
Author: Chris Smith
Genre: YA Christian Fantasy
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Publication Date: February 21, 2014
ISBN: 978-1494324575

A ghostly smile haunts Troy Decker’s dreams. A smile of love and sacrifice. A smile that brings heart wrenching waves of guilt. For God, we fight. Troy has long heard the ancient command to God’s angels. His parents have whispered it in his ears with each step. But the last five months have taken a toll on his faith. The War for Sins has raged from one bloody battle to another at the hands of fallen angel, Kyle Downey. Angels have been killed and hordes of demons torn from the depths of hell.

With the help of his friends, Troy struggles to fight the nightmares of the past. Lurking behind a wall of agonizing blame, his dad stresses the importance of the gifts granted to angels by God. Troy has his scepter and robes, but an act of love stands in the way of his sword – the third gift. His eyes often land on his friend, Angela. On her blonde hair and pink angel marks. On the way her smile leaves him breathless with delight. Each heartbeat brings a vision of drawing her slowly into his arms and softly kissing her lips.

Can Troy put the past behind him? What will he need to prove to God in order to be granted his sword? Or will Kyle Downey ravage the world and bring an end to the War for Sins?

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1, Page 1:

For the first time in his life, Troy Decker was on a demon hunt alone. He’d walked and jogged over four hours to find the street where he was standing. Dark houses lined the neighborhood with only a few overhead lights sparking any hope in the gloom. Troy pressed with the Spirit and approached his target with a determined grin on his narrow face.

It was the eve of his sixteenth birthday, but the normal time of celebration for most teenagers was only another shadowy day to Troy. The last five months had been the worst of his life. Demons filled his dreams whether he was awake or asleep. Howling and cursing, the monsters ate tiny chunks of his soul with each passing minute. Troy shook his head as the memory of the lion-like beast threatened to creep into his thoughts and send a quiver of pain shooting through his chest.

Quickly, he reached into the pocket of his Nike athletic shorts and withdrew the picture he always had stored somewhere close.

On it was a chubby, white haired baby with a giant toothless grin. Holding the laughing boy was the prettiest woman in the history of the planet.

Dirty blonde hair hung past her shoulders and fell perfectly across her thin back. A pointy chin was nuzzling the baby’s cheek, but everything paled in comparison to the smile.

The love of the Lord thrived in the lifting of her mouth.

Troy swallowed an unbidden sob as he peered at his mom. She’d been dead now for over five months. Killed by the poison of a sinna demon’s barb. And it was his fault. Every time he looked at his dad, that fact screamed into his face with thundering certainty.

Purchase Book:

AWOW Series - Hunting Halos - Book 4

Title:  Angels without Wings: Hunting Halos
Series: The Angels without Wings Series - Book 4
Author: Chris Smith
Genre: YA Christian Fantasy
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Publication Date: October 2, 2014
ISBN: 978-1500750237

The past lingers on Troy Decker’s every thought. Losses have piled into the shadows at his heels. The War for Sins has taken a devastating toll on his life. And now, Lucifer has his eyes set on Troy’s very soul. With his chief fallen angel, Kyle Downey, spreading violence and discord around the globe, Lucifer has set plans in motion to end the War and bring a reign of terror upon the Earth.

For Troy, that means he must rush to receive his final two gifts from God. Gifts that will make him a fully-fledged angel and give him the power to resist Lucifer and all his demons. The granting of his fourth gift – a halo – looms as he struggles to stay one step ahead of Kyle and his Dark Hearts. A simple act of redemption stands in Troy’s way for this blessed sign of an angel. In a race against time, Troy must find the correct path to follow, not only in the eyes of his loved ones, but also for himself… or risk losing everything he knows and loves.

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1, Page 1:

For the first time in his life, Troy Decker was hunting a human. Or a man who appeared to be human, at least. He’d been dogging the man’s trail on and off for two weeks. Watching and waiting while reading all the news on the mid-term Senate race in northern California.

Mrs. Chelsie Elliott was the front running Democrat in the Senate race, but her aide and assistant was Troy’s true target. The man was tall and thick. Broad shoulders stretched the expensive three piece suit flashing in the California sunlight. A blood red tie tucked crisply behind the shiny buttons. Neatly cropped hair was parted on the left. Soft grey eyes smiled warmly wherever he happened to look. But a menace resided under the glitzy exterior.
“We can’t do this alone,” Mrs. Elliott chanted into a microphone behind a wooden podium. “Each of us has a responsibility to turn this country in the right direction. And I’m here to make sure we steer this great ship back on the correct path.”

Troy shook his head as a gust of hot wind brushed across his face. He was mixed with a crowd of eager voters, but without trying he picked out several staged crew members of the candidate who had been placed to start the cheers and rousing ovations at the right spots of her speech.

For twenty minutes, Mrs. Elliott blared from one wrong doing of her opponent to the next – never actually discussing any plans to truly help her future constituents’ lives. Troy lingered at the edges of the crowd after she finished and kept his eyes on the man who was constantly scribbling notes to hand to the soon-to-be State Senator.

As Troy walked to the rented car, a half a block down the street of the small town he’d driven to that morning, his scepter glowed to life in a peaceful hum against his chest. The foot and a half long golden rod had been gifted to him by the very hand of God nearly three years ago. The memory made a smile lift instantly.

Purchase Book:

Chris Smith

Chris Smith ignited his love of stories on his sixteenth birthday when his parents gave him a leather bound copy of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Every year since, he has picked up the book and fallen into the world of hobbits, wizards, warriors, and orcs. To him, it’s a birthday present that will continue to be given each and every year for the rest of his life.

He began writing at the age of nineteen as a way to purge his mind of cascading plots and reveal the untold stories of characters who follow him around in his day-to-day life. To date, he has written fifteen novels falling mostly into the young adult, fantasy genre; but he has delved into suspense, crime drama, and post-apocalyptic categories as well.

Currently, Chris is in the middle of writing the Angels without Wings series. The books are young adult fantasy with Christian themes of faith, sacrifice, love, redemption, and forgiveness. Being the father of three young boys is the most important aspect of his life. Worlds of fun and adventure revolve constantly under the roof of their home in Mustang, Oklahoma.

Contact Chris at:

Divider 9

Contest Giveaway

Pump Up Your Book and Author Chris Smith are teaming up to give away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive the prize.
  • This giveaway begins December 3 and ends on January 30, 2015.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on February 1, 2015.
  • Winner has 72 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Book Spotlight: Rise by D.U. Okonkwo


Author: D.U. Okonkwo
Publisher: A Few Words Press
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Pages: 292
ISBN:   978-0993161711 (Paperback) /  978-0993161704 (eBook)
Genre: Literary Fiction
Format: eBook (.mobi / Kindle), ePub, PDF

Buy The Book:

The extraordinary story of how a facially-scarred and reclusive sculptress breaks free upon discovering the true source of self-esteem.

Riana “Ria” Ofor is a gifted sculptress whose beautiful creations could draw crowds. But due to the childhood accident that left her facially-scarred, she avoids selling her work publicly, instead scraping a living through online sales. But when a home repossession notice arrives, both her love for sculpting, a well as her home, suddenly come under threat.

Now she is forced to step out of her comfort zone and enter the very public world of gallery showings. When she does land a gallery contract however, she finds herself the target of a rival artist after the very same contract. And with malicious lies, he intends make her regret taking what should have been his. Now, for the first time, Ria must look to find a truth that conquers all lies.

Book Excerpt:


Ria appreciated the beauty of the headless female sculpture standing before her. A sculpture without its head has its own particular beauty. Strong sculpted legs, intricately crafted torso and powerful shoulders; the beauty of creation.

She squatted in front of the sculpture and ran a slender hand over its flanks. The modeling clay she had chosen had done its job; its durability ensuring the legs of the sculpture came out strong and smooth, the hips gently curved. Six weeks into the making, this piece would be larger than any piece she had previously sculpted, and certainly more challenging.

Here in her art studio which spanned the basement of her small house in London’s Bermondsey, clay statues of ancient kings and queens graced the long wooden shelves resting against the studio’s ivory walls. A small sink sat at the far end against the wall beside her large white storage cupboard, and two years ago she had bought a two-seater sofa and tucked it in the far left corner. Her small stereo, which she only put on when sketching, rested on a table beside it.

Time to begin its head, she decided, and her firm full lips curved into a smile of anticipation. Creating the head was her favorite part. If the legs, shoulders and torso possessed their own particular beauty, then how she created the sculpture’s eyes, slanted its mouth, and molded the chin brought out not just beauty, but the sculpture’s personality.

Ria got to her feet. A slim young woman with close cropped tightly curled black hair; she had a delicate oval face with a beautiful dark chocolate complexion that the faded pink burn scars that ran from the apples of her cheekbones to her collarbone couldn’t mar.

She reached for her apron and tied it around the long-sleeved white t-shirt and soft faded blue jeans she’d pulled on that morning. Sculpting was arduous and messy work, but for her, one of the perks of being a full-time sculptress was that she went to work in her most comfortable clothes.

She moved to where the armature waited atop the worktable. Shaped like an egg, an armature’s rigid metal framework ensured effective structuring of a sculpture’s head.

Collecting an armful of old newspapers from the white storage cupboard in the corner she rolled them into balls then began to fill the armature with them. Once thoroughly packed she secured it in place with a small plastic bag. Next the clay. She took a moment to relish the solid yet light weight in her hand. Then, detail by detail, piece by piece, she began adding more and more clay to the stuffed plastic bag, melding and smoothing it against the bag’s slippery surface. She hummed as she worked; following the measurements she had set out when the idea had first flown into her mind. Her deft and skilful fingers, armed with her trusted sculpting chisel, manipulated the clay.

The sharp slap of the letterbox upstairs stopped her. She stretched her arms high over her head, working out the stiffness in her shoulders caused from bending over the armature. After cleaning her hands she left the studio, heading up the pink carpeted stairs to the ground floor.

She plucked the white envelope lying on the doormat. June sunlight shone through the glass panel in the front door, and the click of women’s heels sounded on the pavement outside as they made their way to work. Once the morning rush was over and it was quiet outside she’d go for her daily morning walk and think over the next steps to completing the sculpture.

Breaking the seal of the envelope, she pulled out the letter.

Dear Ms. Ofor,

Account No: 17032007-55GM    Property: 55 Garden Mews

Please be informed that payment due on the above-referenced account has not been met.

We have made several unsuccessful attempts to contact you.

Our records show that your account is in arrears of £11,509.

Please make arrangements to clear the outstanding amount within 28 days or the case will be escalated to our solicitors, whereupon they may be forced to take legal action, resulting in the repossession of the property.

If you have since made arrangements to clear the aforementioned amount, please ignore this letter.

Ria’s stomach dropped somewhere below ground level, and the noose of the repossession notice, the one she had tried to loosen over the last six months, only tightened further around her neck, almost choking her.

She had failed.

The knowledge brought a bitter and sour taste to her mouth, salty tears to her cheeks. She had tried everything to sell her art; special offers, first buyer discounts. Everything except what you really should, she acknowledged silently, and squeezed her eyes shut. The scars have faded, she reminded herself. They’re not as disfiguring as they once were. No one will stare if you go out; no one will point or grimace. 

Face damp with tears she’d been unable to keep at bay, she looked around desperately. Her heart pounded. How would she sculpt? Where would she sculpt?

She groped her way back down to the studio, went to the storage cupboard, and then pulled out the lowest drawer. The pile of threatening letters she had received over the last nine months stared up at her like hungry wolves. A shudder raked through her.

She needed to be strong and think, she told herself. Wiping her eyes she moved to the teak filing cabinet beside the storage cupboard and placed the letter atop it, then on a deep breath then opened the bottom drawer. Art magazines and industry journals were stacked neatly inside. Please, she begged silently as she rifled through the drawer. Please still be here.

Her trembling fingers hit a cool glossy cover. Sculpting Magazine – last month’s issue. She held it to her chest for a moment, closed her eyes and attempted to steady her racing heart. Then, opening it, she flipped through page after page until she found what she was looking for: the monthly snapshot of an art agent. This issue profiled Meg Fuller, president of a boutique art agency called The Art Room. As an art agent, Meg Fuller placed artists with art galleries throughout London.

Only in Ria’s most private moments did she allow herself to imagine what it would be like to be a commercially successful artist. Then she thought of people’s stares, comments, the rejection, and she shrank into herself.

Now she looked up at the portrait of her deceased Uncle Jonas that took pride of place on the wall. After she had graduated from Rayners Art Academy six years ago he had helped arrange the financing on the flat. Located in Island Gardens, the Docklands area of East London, she had loved the small compact house on first sight.

“You helped me buy this place,” she whispered to his smiling face, still holding the art magazine. “You encouraged my love of art. You started me on this journey.”

He had introduced her to art at age ten. A successful surgeon, he had children of his own, and had therefore spent a lot of time with her and her older brother Dominic One afternoon, he had taken her and her and her brother Dominic to visit the Canbury art gallery in central London. Stepping into that gallery had been like stepping into a warm, enveloping cloud. Light poured in from the huge wall-to-wall windows, paintings graced the white walls, and eclectic sculptures stood atop tall pedestals. Uncle Jonas spoke with the other gallery visitors about the displays, all of them speaking in awed whispers and hushed tones as they studied the different artwork. Dom had been bored though. Ria smiled at the memory of him impatiently hopping from one foot to the other; desperate to leave and see the car exhibition that Uncle Jonas had promised him they’d visit afterwards.

She had not been bored, but enthralled. Uncle Jonas had asked a member of the gallery staff to answer her questions and for the next half an hour she had learned about the process of bronze sculpting. After that day she had focused more attention on her art class at school and throughout college. Her father had been dismissive of it from the start. His blunt ‘Most artists can’t afford to feed themselves,’ had only added strain to their already fractured relationship.

And now, standing in her studio years later, her father’s words now kept going around her mind. But he was wrong, she decided. And she could prove him wrong. She looked across the room at her sculpture, then at the many other smaller pieces resting on the studio shelves on the walls. “I can fix this.” Her eyes narrowed on the sculpture again. “I have to.” With her free hand she pulled her phone from her handbag beside the worktable and looked down at the art agency’s number again, and then dialed it.

A young woman answered on the second ring. “Good morning, The Art Room; Layla speaking.” 

“Hello.” Be confident, Ria ordered herself, and sought to make her usual low calm voice strident. “Can I speak to Meg Fuller please?”

“Who can I say is calling?”

Ria drew a fortifying breath. “Ria Ofor.”

“Just a second.”

A moment later a different female voice spoke. “Ria Ofor?”

This was it. Throat tight with both fear and anxiety, Ria swallowed and then answered. “Yes.”

“This is Meg Fuller. I recognize your name, Ria.” The agent’s warm and enthusiastic voice eased Ria’s nerves a little. “I’ve seen several of your pieces on The Platform website but have never been able to find contact details for you. Are you calling for possible representation?”

“Yes I–” Ria had to blink back the image of the bank letter that threatened to shadow her vision. “Yes.” She cleared her throat and aimed to speak more firmly in an effort to exude confidence. “I’ve been working on a new piece for several weeks. I think it may be of commercial interest.” “I see. You have an up-to-date portfolio?”

“I do yes.”

“Good. Why don’t we set a date for you to come and meet me tomorrow afternoon? We’re in Covent Garden.”

Alarm speared through Ria. “M-meet? You mean…face-to-face?”

“That’s right.”

Ria’s hand grew clammy on the phone. “Can we…can we perhaps negotiate something over the phone…I mean instead of meeting? Maybe…maybe I can email you photos of some of my pieces?”  Please say yes.

“I’m afraid not. I always meet any new potential client face-to-face.”

Ria squeezed her eyes shut briefly.  How could she reveal her reasons for not wanting to meet face-to-face? She lifted her hand to her face, but caught herself at the last second and clenched her hands into fists.

Over eleven thousand pounds needed to be paid. She had to do what was necessary. She hoped that for once the chips fell in her favor. She drew a deep breath. "I'll be there, Meg."  

Covent Garden was the heart of London’s tourist district. Its cobbled streets attested to it being one of the oldest places in the city, and its bustling market, lively street performers and boutique designer shops drew both tourists and Londoners alike. It had been years since she had been here, Ria mused as she exited its tube station. A row of rickshaws lined the pavement just outside. Some riders bargained with enchanted tourists over hire rates while others sat back to take a rest between rides. Taking a right outside of the station Ria headed towards the main square. This place still possessed so much energy and vibrancy, she admitted. She wouldn’t admit she had missed both.

“My balloon!”  a young boy suddenly squealed. A royal blue balloon flew over Ria's head. “Mum, catch it quick.”

Startled into glancing up, Ria saw the bright blue balloon in question. She jumped up, catching its long, red string in her grasp. She held it out to the little boy.

“Thank the kind young lady, Jimmy,” his mother prompted.

Brushing his ginger fringe aside, Jimmy stared up at Ria, his large brown eyes wide. “What are those things on your face?” he asked instead.

Ria froze.

“Jimmy!” Grasping his free arm, Jimmy’s mother sent Ria a beseeching look of apology as she took the balloon from her. “Come on, Jimmy.”

Ria stood rooted in place, her body completely immobile like one of her own sculptures. Only when someone accidently bump into her did she realize she had been standing there for some time. Jimmy and his mother had long gone.

Heart pounding, she ran the back of her hand down her right cheek, over the rough texture of unforgiving burn scars. Letting her hand drop, she forced her fingers to relax. All thoughts of her impending meeting with Meg wiped clear from her mind, she spun on her heel and headed towards the tube station, thinking only of home.                  

Meg Fuller ran impatient fingers through shoulder-length black hair. She rose from her desk and walked out into the main reception area of The Art Room, her emerald eyes narrowing.

At the reception desk her summer intern, Layla Banes, glanced up. “Still nothing?”

“Not a dickey bird, and I’ve already left a message.” Annoyed, Meg grimaced. “I'll try her one more time.” Then she had cut her losses. Ria Ofor looked to be a special talent, Meg had seen that for herself while browsing The Platform website several months ago. But she liked artists who knew the importance of communication.

“I’d better head off or I’ll be late for the dentist.” Layla grimaced. “Wish me luck.”

“Always. See you in a couple of days.” Returning to her office, Meg picked up her phone and dialed Ria’s number for the second time. Six rings came and went before Ria answered.


“Ria, this is Meg Fuller from The Art Room.”

On the other end of the phone Meg heard Ria’s shocked gasp. “Meg…hi.”

“Where are you?”

A pause before Ria whispered back. “At home.”

Meg waited a beat. Well, don’t rush to apologize for standing me up will you? she thought with annoyance. “We were scheduled to meet today at twelve-thirty.”

A sniffle came through the line. “Meg. Oh. I - I’m so sorry for - I couldn’t make it.”

Meg’s brows drew together. Ria sounded like she had been crying. “Are you okay?”

Another sniffle. “Yes I – yes of course. I’m fine.”

Sure you are, Meg thought with concern, and hesitated before asking, “Do you still want to meet?”  

About The Author

          D.U. Okonkwo  

Born and raised in London, D. U. Okonkwo writes commercial literary fiction. She graduated from the University of Salford with a BSc in Business with Spanish which included an ERASMUS exchange living in Salamanca, Spain. RISE is her first novel.

To learn more about D. U. Okonkwo, visit her website at:  She is also on Twitter @duosays, and keeps a blog at

Connect with D.U.:
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The City Beneath by Melody Johnson Cover Reveal

The City Beneath
Title: The City Beneath (The Night Blood Series)
Author: Melody Johnson
Publisher: Kensington Books

 As a journalist, Cassidy DiRocco thought she had seen every depraved thing New York City’s underbelly had to offer. But while covering what appears to be a vicious animal attack, she finds herself drawn into a world she never knew existed. Her exposé makes her the target of the handsome yet brutal Dominic Lysander, the Master Vampire of New York City, who has no problem silencing her to keep his coven's secrets safe… But Dominic offers Cassidy another option: ally. He reveals she is a night blood, a being with powers of her own, including the ability to become a vampire. As the body count escalates, Cassidy is caught in the middle of a vampire rebellion. Dominic insists she can help him stop the coming war, but wary of his intentions, Cassidy enlists the help of the charming Ian Walker, a fellow night blood. As the battle between vampires takes over the city, Cassidy will have to tap into her newfound powers and decide where to place her trust...

  • The City Beneath is available at Amazon
Melody Johnson

Melody Johnson is the author of the Night Blood series. She graduated magna cum laude from Lycoming College with her B.A. in creative writing and psychology. While still earning her degree, she worked as an editing intern for Wahida Clark Presents Publishing. She was a copyeditor for several novels, including Cheetah by Missy Jackson; Trust No Man II by Cash; and Karma with a Vengeance by Tash Hawthorne. Book #1 of the Night Blood series, The City Beneath, is her debut novel. When she isn't writing, Melody can be found hiking the many woodsy trails in her Pennsylvania hometown or sunning and swimming at the beach. You can learn more about Melody and her work at and Twitter.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Interview with Felipe from Mike Hartner's historical fiction I, James

We’re thrilled to have here today Felipe from Mike Hartner’s historical fiction I, James.  He comes to us all the way from the town of Portsmouth, Englnd.  It is a pleasure to have him with us today at The Literary Nook!

Thank you so for this interview, Felipe.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?  

I believe that I’ve been fairly treated.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?   

My strongest trait is my devotion to family and friends.

Worst trait? 

My worst trait is being too vain. I mean, I’m good looking.  Why shouldn’t I be shared with everyone.. 

Do you have a love interest in the book? 

My only love interest was my fiancé in India, but by the time we got there, she’d already been betrothed to someone else.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out? 

I think my most nervous phase was when I was involved in the sword fight with James and his friends.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why? 

I really don’t want to be the Master at the Kilwa plantation.  I can’t understand that mentality.  And Kilwa is damn hot.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?  

 I think the ending is fitting for the story.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if he decided to write another book with you in it? 

Find me family.

Thank you for this interview.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future? 

I’m not sure, but it’s possible.
About the Author:

Mike Hartner was born in Miami in 1965. He's traveled much of the continental United States. He has several years post secondary education, and experience teaching and tutoring young adults. Hartner has owned and run a computer firm for more than twenty-five years. He now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife and child. They share the neighborhood and their son with his maternal grandparents.

Mike won first place blue ribbon for the 2013 Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction and first place blue ribbon for the 2013 Dante Rosetti Award in the YA category for I, Walter.

His latest book is the historical fiction/romance, I, James.
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About the Book:

James Crofter was ripped from his family at age 11. 

Within a year the prince was a pauper in a foreign land. 

Is nature stronger than nurture? And even if it is, can James find the happiness he so richly desires?  

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  • I, James is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.