Thursday, May 24, 2012

VBTC: Mistakes of Beginner Writers - Guest Post with Deidre Havrelock

What are the mistakes you see in beginner writers?

Ha! I guess we should start with the ones I made: sending material out before it’s done, lack of proofreading, lack of patience. Patience is the big one, though. Writing takes time. You have to re-write and edit. You have to read things over and over. You have to be sure about what you’re trying to say.

I originally sold my book Saving Mary: The Possession (under a different title) to a large publishing house (back in 2002/03). Looking back, I see that I had originally sold a first draft; and as the publishing process chugged along, I became more and more uncomfortable about my book being released. It simply wasn’t finished, at least not in the way I meant for it to be done. My lack of focus (I personally think) transferred to the publishing house and I was soon faced with a problem: what I had meant to be a “personal memoir” had somehow turned into “Christian fiction.” Eventually I was allowed out of my contract so that I could rework the book as true memoir. You see, I had changed my name (and the names of most people in the book) simply because I was uncomfortable with being in a book (I figured other people might be just as uncomfortable). I didn’t think this would be a problem since “A rose is a rose, by any other name.” But it was. First of all, you simply can’t be uncomfortable with being in a book if you want to write a memoir. You just have to get over yourself. This is your life: your experiences, your friends, your view. You have to own it. The second problem was that the author of A Million Little Pieces had just been scolded by Oprah for not sticking to the rules of memoir. My publisher wanted to take no chances and so they switched my book to “fiction.” Without consulting me. So, with all this being said, make sure you finish your book, staying true to the vision you see and hear in your head.

The other big mistake I see writers making is showing their work to the wrong people. Not everyone should critique your work. Not everyone believes you can succeed as a writer. And too many opinions can confuse a new writer. Figure out what you want to say and then work at saying it as best you can.

Deidre D Havrelock grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where she eventually met her husband to be, DJ. It was DJ who initially noticed Deidre’s dark state and worked to seek out someone willing to perform her exorcism. Eventually, the newlyweds found their way to the southern hot spot of Brooks, AB where Deidre began writing. From there the family trekked across eastern Canada to Moncton, NB where they learned to love French fries with cheese curds and gravy. Currently nestled in the hills of Kennewick, Washington, Deidre has two horses, one dog, three cats and too many rabbits…and let’s not forget her wonderful husband and three energetic daughters. Her memoir, Saving Mary: The Possession chronicles her dark childhood and the path that led to her demonic possession. She is currently working to finish book two of her spiritual memoir, Saving Mary: The Deliverance. You can find her at

If you’re a fan of supernatural fiction then you will be captivated by this true story about a spiritually sensitive girl and the path that led to her possession. Part one of a two-part series, Saving Mary is the story of a modern-day Mary Magdalene—the woman from whom Jesus cast out seven demons.

Deidre Daily is drawn to anything seemingly spiritual, desperately seeking a spiritual existence. But inside this vibrant girl hides a terrified child who sincerely believes she has married the devil. Through a series of spiritual encounters her fear turns into reality, and she ends up possessed.

Deidre’s fascinating spiritual memoir relays her story from childhood to adolescence: invisible eyes leering at her from the corner of her bedroom, horrible nightmares tormenting her, and her desperate attempt to find God—only to end up possessed. It is a candid account of possession from a first-person perspective. This dark memoir brings to light an intricate world of deceitful spirits hell-bent on manipulating and damaging an innocent girl’s life, not only through her dreams, but also through seemingly every-day encounters.


Excerpt :

Chapter Four

Me and Kelly, we make plans for sleepovers all the time. We don’t ever sleep at my house. We sleep at her house. I sleep over at Kelly’s a lot ‘cause I know there’s no little eyes or ghosts creepin’ around at her house.
At Kelly’s house we play in her playhouse. We sit on neatly stacked bricks, pretending they’re chairs. She’s writing the rules for our new club. I’m colorin’ the membership cards, tellin’ her about the little eyes in my house. She calls me a freak. I then decide to tell her about a dream I had. The one she was in.
“It’s dark outside. And quiet. The leaves in the trees aren’t moving, that ugly ol’ Fort Road is empty and the street lights—they’re dim. Only the moon gives light. It all looks like one of those old pictures, you know, shadowy and still. The only sound comes from Angie’s shiny black tap shoes as she moves down the sidewalk. They’re all, clippity-clop, clippity-clop, CLIPpITY-CLOP, clippity-clop ’cause of the echo. Angie isn’t dancing though. She’s just walking, wishin’ her shoes would shut up. We’re all wishin’ her stupid shoes would shut up. You turn to Angie with your eyebrows pointing to your nose. The way you do when you’re mad … ”
I tell Kelly about the church and about the robbers and about how she hid and how I didn’t hide very good. She says, “That figures.” And we laugh. Then I say how I was pulled to the altar, how I was made to get married and how I was kicking and screamin’.
“But nobody even cared,” I say. I take a yellow crayon, start colorin’ a picture of a bee. Then I tell her how I pulled the robber’s mask off.
“It’s hanging from my hand, his mask. And I don’t know what to do now, and I’m wishin’ I hadn’t done it at all. I look around for you, hoping you might come out from hiding, but you don’t.”
“What’s he look like?” asks Kelly.
“He’s cute,” I say. “With short brown hair. He smiles at me, shaking his head a little like he’s saying, ‘You know, you shouldn’t have done that’—pulled his mask off he means. He feels weird.”
“Yeah,” I go. “Weird. Nothin’ about him feels right. He’s all wrong. And he’s got these black eyes that look and pull all at the same time, so I wanna run away but I can’t.”
“So what do you do?”
“I smile, just a little, to say sorry. But I don’t think he cares ’cause he doesn’t smile back. Then I spy around for you. I’m still hoping you might come out and do somethin’. That’s when he starts laughing.”
“Why’s he laughing?”
“’Cause he knows you aren’t coming, and even if someone did come—it’s too late. We’re already married. He laughs harder and harder ’til the laughing changes him.”
“Changes him?”
“Yeah, his hair—it starts going all creepy. It’s red now.”
“What’s creepy about red?”
So I tell her how his hair’s turned into red-hot flames. How he’s laughing with his head tilted back. His hair swishin’ and glowin’, all on fire.
“Does he do anything else?”
“He smiles at me—big, really big.”
“‘Cause he knows I’m scared and he thinks it’s funny. Then his face also starts changing. Like it’s made of Play-Doh.”
“Yeah, like when he smiles the smile changes. It keeps twistin’ itself up all screwy-like.”
“That’s more like Silly Putty,” says Kelly.
“Sure,” I say, “like Silly Putty.”
“Man, I wouldn’t’ve hid. I woulda beat the crap outta him.”
“I know you woulda.”
“Geez, Dede. You married the Devil.”
I nod. “I know,” I whisper. Then I say, “Kelly, can you divorce the Devil?”
“Don’t know,” says Kelly. “I guess you’d hafta find God for that.”
I put down the yellow crayon, pick up a black one and write ‘Busy Bee Club’ at the top of the membership card. I’ve got a heaviness on me now. Like when something’s gone wrong and it’s got to be made right. Just then Kelly goes, whack! hitting me right in the shoulder; she tells me to get up.
“Let’s walk to your house, so you can get some clothes for the sleepover,” she says. Down the alley we go where two big kids stop us and ask if we want a knuckle sandwich. Kelly pulls her eyebrows down, says, “No!”
I say, “Yes.”
They punch Kelly in the face.

Deidre will be giving away an ebook copy of Saving Mary during her tour, you can follow her tour HERE, and leave a comment for a chance to win.

Monday, May 21, 2012

VBTC Tour: Book Feature & Excerpt - When The Heart Falls by Kimberly Lewis

When The Heart Falls Excerpt

The smell of alcohol on her breath was enough to make him drunk. He leaned his head away from hers and took a breath of non-alcoholic air.
“Shoo, Misty! What did you do? Take a bath in Jack Daniels?” he asked, scrunching his face up a little.
“Dylan, that’s silly.” She giggled. “Where are we going?” she asked as he kept his arm around her waist and started to usher her to the door.
“I’m taking you home.” he said.
“But I haven’t finished my show!” she protested and waved her hand back toward the stage.
“I think your show is over for tonight. That poor mic needs a rest.” He chuckled.
“Dylan McCoy, are you telling me I can’t sing?” she asked and stumbled a little bit.
He helped her keep her balance and jokingly replied, “Misty, you couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. I sing like a bird,” she said proudly and lifted her chin.
“A dying bird,” he said under his breath. They walked past the bar and Dylan nodded to Paul. “See you in a little bit.”
“I’ll be there as soon as I get closed up,” Paul agreed.
What should have been an easy task of walking her out to her car proved different. She kept tripping in the loose stone and dramatically throwing her arm in the air as she kept trying to prove to Dylan that she could indeed sing like a bird. Dylan was annoyed but amused at the same time. At one point she took a tumble and landed flat on her behind. Dylan could barely contain his laughter when she whined that her butt was bruised and insisted that he kiss it and make it better. When he finally got her out to her car, he leaned her against the side long enough to open her purse and get her keys. He hit the unlock button and the cars lights blinked twice. He walked her around to the passenger side and opened the door for her.
“I don’t want to get in,” she said like a child getting ready to throw a temper tantrum.
“Misty, please get in the car,” he said softly.
“No!” she said as she stomped her boot on the ground. “Not until you tell me that I sing like a bird.”
Dylan sighed and shook his head. He knew it wasn’t worth arguing with her so he smiled and said, “Ok, you sing like a bird.”
“Thank you,” she said arrogantly with a smile. She went to push herself from the side of the car so she could take the passenger seat, but lost her balance and fell into Dylan’s chest. His arms firmly wrapped around her so she wouldn’t fall.
“Easy now,” he said. Dylan loosened his grip a little bit after she regained her balance, but he didn’t let go. He looked down at her just as she leaned her face up to see his and their eyes locked. For a moment, it seemed as if time was standing still. He could feel his heart rate quicken as she stared into his eyes. He wanted nothing more than to lean down and join his lips with hers. Caught up in the moment, he smiled a little and leaned in toward her. The scent of Jack Daniels on her breath brought him up short. He opened his eyes and pulled back from her. He could tell she was a little confused but she didn’t question him. If she hadn’t been so intoxicated Dylan would have taken advantage of that moment and kissed her.
“Um,” he said, clearing his throat. “You ready to go now?”
She nodded her head and allowed him to help her into the car. After she was settled, he closed her door and walked around to the driver’s side. Once in, he started the car and slowly pulled out of the parking lot. Misty stared out the windshield with a blank expression. She was slowly starting to sober up and the landscape flying by was making her feel a little nauseous. It felt like her head was spinning; not only from the effects of the alcohol but from the kiss that she and Dylan almost shared. Why had he pulled away from her? She was ready and willing for it to happen. So why didn’t it? She turned to look in his direction and saw a look of confusion and concern on his face. She opened her mouth to apologize for how she had acted tonight when she noticed that he kept checking the rearview mirror. Confused, she looked behind them and saw a set of headlights trailing fairly close behind them.
“What’s wrong?” she asked Dylan.
“I’m not sure but I think that car is following us,” he said with the sound of concern clear in his voice.
Misty looked out the back window again and asked, “What makes you say that?”
“They’ve been on our tail since we pulled out of the bar,” he explained. “Your seat belt on?”
“Yes. Why?” she asked confused.
“Hang on,” he told her as he pushed the gas pedal to go faster.
The car behind them kept up with the pace and began to tail them even closer now.
“Yep! Definitely following us,” he said out loud. She wasn’t sure if he was talking to her or to himself. Just then the car flipped on its bright lights and rammed into the back of Misty’s car. She let out a scream and clutched the dashboard.
“Hold on!” Dylan yelled as he floored it. Dylan drove Misty’s car as fast as it would go down the dark country road but he couldn’t seem to shake off the other car. The car rammed into the back of them once more and they lurched forward.
“Oh my God, Dylan. What’s going on?” Misty asked through frightened gasps.
“I have no idea,” Dylan told her as he continued to try and out run the aggressive car behind them.
Misty looked out the windshield and saw a sign for a sharp turn up ahead. “Dylan, you better slow down there’s a bad turn up here,” she quickly informed him.
“I can’t,” he said.
“What do you mean you can’t? Slow down. We’re not going to make the turn going this fast.”
“I can’t, Misty. Your brakes are out!”

When Misty Prescott moved back home to her parent’s ranch after catching her husband cheating on her, she couldn’t have possibly known that she’d fall for not one, but two cowboys at the same time. Nor could she have known that getting involved with both men would bring unwelcome excitement, turning her already messed up world completely upside down. As Misty’s relationship with Vance Kinney begins, she can’t help but develop an intense attraction to her best friend’s older brother, Dylan McCoy. But just as Misty makes her choice, she indirectly becomes the target of one horrific event after another. Now, Misty must fight the very obstacles that threaten to tear her apart from the man she loves, and survive the danger lurking around every corner that threatens their very lives.

In November of 2011, author Kimberly Lewis stepped into the writing world with her first original contemporary romance novel, When the Heart Falls. Born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, this country girl at heart caught the creative bug at an early age, doing everything from drawing to writing short stories. After the birth of her son, Kimberly found the inspiration to pick up a pen, or in this case a laptop, and began writing her first novel. Since then she has continued to write and credits her husband Rob and her wonderfully crazy family, who with their love and joking demeanor provide her with the ideas that inspire her novels. In her spare time she enjoys reading, horseback riding, and spending time with her amazing family.

Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: November 10, 2011

Giveaway: Kimberly will be offering a $15 Amazon Gift Card – one to a randomly drawn commenter during her tour, one to the host with the most comments, and 2 ebooks will be given away during her tour.

You can follow the tour HERE for more chances to win.

Friday, May 18, 2012

VBTC: Guest Post by Lyle Blake Smythers - Feasting With Panthers

We found the first one-eyed man at dawn...

So begins the highly original fantasy tale of warrior poet Catalan, when he and his band stumble upon a handsome acolyte near death in a mountain pass. But when the acolyte reveals his mystical vision, the poet finds himself at the center of a War Game between two mysterious
sorcerers. To unravel the mystery, Catalan and the agents of the War Game must seek the missing pieces of an enchanted chess set in a quest complicated by deceit and treachery, in which nothing is what it seems.

Ingeniously weaving together citations throughout the text from a variety of sources,  including Yeats, Milton, Joyce, Poe, Baudelaire, the King James Bible and many more, author Lyle Blake Smythers serves up a truly literary feast.


As a young child I lost my heart to horror movies, scary stories, and exotic tales of adventure.  When I was in the sixth grade I was a big fan of the adventure novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs, his Tarzan books, the John Carter stories set on Mars, and the Pellucidar books that took readers to a strange world at the Earth’s core. I started writing my own story,  EXPEDITION INTO THE UNKNOWN, a highly derivative work that took some men in a giant Devil Drill to the Earth’s core for adventures among strange people and monsters. It was not terribly good but I had fun with it. When I got to junior high school I took another look at it, said, “This is awful” and threw it out.

I immediately started a new novel, THE HIDDEN CITY, a highly derivative work that took some men into a secret African valley for adventures among strange people and monsters.  Sound familiar?  When I got to high school I took another look at it, said, “This is awful” and threw it out.

I immediately started a new novel, variously known as THE BURNING OF PENNE MANOR or THE SPECTERS or BIRDS OF A FEATHER, a small-houseparty-weekend-in-the-country murder mystery.  I had discovered Agatha Christie and felt that I had “moved on.”  The amateur detective was an egghead named Hermes Van Buren.  When I got to college I took another look at it, said, “This is awful” and threw it out.

Needless to say, I would give just about anything to have those stillborn masterpieces today.  Alas, they are gone.  But tinkering with them had gotten me started.

I was too busy doing other things in college and grad school to try to write another novel, but upon emerging with a Master’s in Library Science, a specialty in library service to children, and a job offer to be the children’s librarian in a public library, I started something different.  FEASTING WITH PANTHERS was a very short, realistic children’s novel for the middle grades, about a bright manipulative kid who talks his friends into launching a war against the local bully.  I had seen a documentary on Oscar Wilde with the same title (it’s one of Oscar’s quotes) and felt that I must use it for my next novel, even if it had to be shoehorned into the plot.

This was the first novel I actually finished writing.  I shopped it around for a while and was fortunate enough to receive some honest and useful feedback from a couple of editors about the tone or voice of the sixth-grade narrator, who sounded much too adult for his age.  I reluctantly concluded that such a problem could only be fixed by completely rewriting the entire book, which I was unwilling to do, so I put it away and it became a trunk novel.  This surrender did allow me to recycle that title for my next novel, which is the one now being published.  Where did it come from?

The original kernel that gave life to some of the multiple plotlines came from an old edition of the Arabian Nights I found as a child. My family was traveling through the mountains of southwest Virginia, on our way to visit relatives near Galax, and we stopped in a tiny hamlet called Fancy Gap. We wandered into a used furniture place that had a table of used books for sale. I picked up an old copy of the Andrew Lang retellings, one with terrific illustrations. Soon I was riveted by the great stories inside. I was already familiar with the well-known ones about Sinbad the Sailor, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, and Aladdin, but soon I got to lesser-known ones that were equally intriguing. One that really interested me described a porter in Baghdad who carried a package home for a customer and found himself mingling with strange visitors in her house, men who had missing eyes and shaved heads. Each had his own story to tell, and wondrous stories they were.

At some point after this incident, I started to write my own stories, as described above.  Somewhere along the way I resolved to find a way to retell some of these stories of one-eyed men and the dangers they had faced and overcome. Fast forward some thirty years.

I was visiting a friend in Baltimore and we went to a Star Trek convention. At this point I had started to tinker with an outline for the Arabian Knights novel, but was getting nowhere. I wanted a unifying thread more significant than just a chance encounter with strangers in a strange house. At the con they were showing a variety of fantasy/SF movies and I ended up in LADYHAWKE, the medieval fantasy story of two lovers trying to find each other again while under two very different shape-shifting curses. What caught my attention was the motivation behind the person who put them under their spells: They had been cursed out of REVENGE. I had it. My characters would be subjected to the horrible perils they faced because a powerful magician was wreaking revenge. On whom? And why? It didn’t take me long to work that out. And my book was born.

I wanted to work within the framework of standard heroic fantasy but add fresh elements to give the reader an experience never felt before. Not just sorcerers and a quest (they are there) but a hallucinogenic drug, green snow, a boy turned into a monkey, a convention of puppeteers, an outdoor festival where people come to see a magic trick only performed once a year. Also bloody revenge.  Please join me.

Right now Feasting can be pre-ordered on Amazon, from Barnes & Noble at and from my publisher at which is also how they can connect with me if they have comments or questions. I am also on Facebook.

We are going to be giving away a free copy of the novel, either a print edition or an e-book, to one of the readers of this blog. Interested readers should leave a comment here that includes their email address. I will select the most intriguing poster to be the winner.

Thank you so much for this opportunity to be here.

Lyle Blake Smythers is an actor, writer and librarian in the Washington, D.C., area. Since 1976 he has performed in over 100 stage productions, including three appearances at the National Theatre. He has published fiction, poetry, satire and literary criticism in Manscape, FirstHand, Playguy, The William and Mary Review, Insights, School Library Journal and Children?s Literature Review. He is a
former children?s librarian and is currently providing cataloging support for an ongoing project at the Library of Congress.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Excerpt & Giveaway: Mrs. Garcia's Class Visits the Hospital by Kristy K. Taylor

Eric introduced us to Michelle, the phlebotomist.  “What is a phlebotomist?” asked Haley.  “A phlebotomist is a person who specializes in drawing a patient’s blood for testing,” said Michelle.  Suddenly, Nathaniel got an interesting look on his face and raised his hand.  “Yessss,” said Michelle.  “Is your job sort of like being a vampire?”  Nathaniel asked.  The entire class laughed and turned to look at Michelle.  “No,” she chuckled.

I learned about all of the different areas that doctors could specialize in, for example, Dr Herrera was a podiatrist, and he specialized in treating patients with feet problems.  Dr. Osborn was a neurologists; she specialized in helping patients with nervous system disorders.  We also met Dr. Chadwick, the hospital’s pharmacist; she helped patients get the medicine that they needed in order to help them feel better.”

Mrs. Garcia's Class Visits the Hospital is the first book written by author and former elementary teacher, Kristy Taylor. The book is an exciting career day adventure with a diverse group of characters where the students in Mrs. Garcia's class visit the local hospital for their class field trip. While touring the hospital with Mrs. Garcia and Dr. Johnson as their guides, the students learn about over twenty different healthcare careers, and they have lots of fun along the way! 

Supplements: An additional student activity is also available for purchase. The activity guide features games, resources, quizzes, and worksheets that will challenge children to think critically about Health Science career options. This guide is a great resource for teachers and parents to teach children about careers in Health Science. The guide also includes a free PowerPoint presentation featuring glossary terms and pictures from the book.


For every person that purchases the book during the tour will receive a free activity guide.
Kristy will also be giving away a Swag Pack during her tour:

Swag Pack:
A KidMedic T-Shirt
KidMedic Coffee Mug
KidMedic Pen KidMedic Stickers

Follow the tour HERE for more chances to win and to learn more about this great childrens book.

Kristy K. Taylor is a fulltime Health Science Professor, author, and founder of Kid Medic, LLC.  She has over seven years of teaching experience in the field of health science education, and she spent two years as an elementary school teacher in Brackettville, Texas.  Prior to becoming an elementary school teacher and accepting her current position at Palm Beach State College in Florida, she spent six years on active duty in the United States Air Force as a Healthcare Administrator and teacher for the Community College of the Air Force.  Kristy holds an associate’s degree in Healthcare Management, a bachelor’s degree in Management and Human Resources, and a master’s degree in Health Science with a focus in Health Education.  Kristy is also currently pursuing her doctorate in Health Science with a focus in Global Health at A.T.  Still University located in Mesa, Arizona.  She holds several certifications to include: 

  • Texas EC-4 Generalist and EC-12 Health Teacher
  • Certified Wellness Coach
  • Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES)
  • Certified in Instructional Design (through the Community College of the Air Force)

In the past, Kristy has worked with students by providing them with career exploration tools and resume help.  She is also currently working on her Career Coaching Certification through the Professional Association of Career Coaches and Resume Writers.  Kristy enjoys teaching and working with students to help them achieve their goals.  She started Kid Medic because she believes that children can reach their potential only when they are properly taught, nurtured, and engaged in a manner that inspires them to expand their horizons through reading, thinking, exploring, and discovering the world around them.

Genere:  Children, YA, Career, Education, Health
Children’s Book:  Ages:  10-12, Grades: 4-7
Publisher:  Kid Medic, LLC
Website and Purchase Link:
Price:  $12.oo includes S&H

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