Aug 20, 2014

Author Isla Grey Release Party and $50.00 Amazon Gift Card Contest LIVE Here!

Isla Grey Release Party

A big Thank You to Rachel for letting me hang out at Bitten By Books today. I’m usually in my comfort zone when I’m lurking in the shadows, so this is a little different for me. I’ll try not to act like a skittish cat!

I am excited about my debut, A Voice in the Dark. This is the first story from my Dark Plots Series that tells the story of Abigail Farmer who meets her match in the form of the flirtatious, bad boy Hasten Holmes. But don’t let that fool you. It’s not your typical “boy meets girl, they fall in love at first sight, and ride off into the sunset together” story. (Well, maybe the “boy meets girl” part.)
The strong-willed, no nonsense Abigail works and lives in a funeral home. Once Hasten arrives on the scene, murder and mayhem, along with some body parts get thrown into the mix.
I know, some people get squeamish at the thought of anything related to funeral homes, morgues, cemeteries, etc. (OK –you can go ahead and yell “Ewww” now.) True, most people don’t want to pass by one at any time during the day and it’s definitely not a popular pick for the most ideal place to live or even visit.
So where did the idea come from? I always found stories about old, family funeral homes interesting. Usually they’re mentioned on an old unsolved mystery/crime show or a TV episode about ghost stories. There was also a creepy, decrepit funeral home that was next door to a place I was working. As if getting off at midnight wasn’t bad enough, when I would walk to my car, I swear the door would creak open on occasion even though the place was vacant. (I learned to run pretty quick too!)
As you can see, I tend to ramble a bit too which is another reason I usually confine myself to lurking. I mentioned that Abigail works at a funeral home. Are there some creepy places you like or don’t like to visit? What about jobs you would absolutely NOT want to do? I’d love to hear about them.
Thanks again for letting me stop by today. I hope you enjoy A Voice in the Dark. I am excited to chat with you today!

Excerpt from A Voice in the Dark:

“Abigail puckered her lips and applied a light coating of peach flavored lip gloss. She cringed at the sight of her tired reflection staring back at her in the mirror. Picking up a tortoiseshell compact, she dabbed a bit of concealer on the circles under here steel-gray eyes. There was nothing worse than visitations and the constant barrage of people who came out for them.
Just as she reached the bottom step, a swift tug at her arm threw her off balance. Her left knee buckled, but the firmness of the grip refused to let her fall.
“Make sure no one goes on a sight-seeing tour tonight,” Stu growled in her ear.
“Why on earth would you care what people do?” Abigail sneered through gritted teeth while trying to pry her arm away.
“They come in the door, down the hall, look at the dead guy, tell the old crone they’re sorry, then leave. We don’t want anyone staying longer than they need to.”
Buy a print copy of A Voice in the Dark from Amazon by clicking here.
Buy a Kindle copy of A Voice in the Dark from Amazon by clicking here. – ONLY $3.99!

About Isla Grey

Author Isla Grey
Author Bio:

Isla Grey grew up in Central Virginia. She likes to write a variety of stories, especially those that bring out the darker side of things. When she’s not being called Mom, Mama, Mommy (you get the picture), by her daughter who constantly keeps her on her toes, she enjoys good music, walking, reading, go-carts and is addicted to “The Walking Dead” and Panera Bread. She’s also a pet human to a plethora of cats that have taken up residence at her home. Isla also loves movies and is the Movie Mistakes Editor for one of the top women’s sites on the web.

Connect with Isla

CONTEST INFO: Open to readers worldwide. 
Prize: A $50.00 Amazon Gift Card

Poetry time !

We've become a
civilization of diseases
we build
thinking death won't ever find
us here.

Our minds are scrambled
our bodies are damaged
our food is poisoned
our skies are toxic
our vices
are forces of processes
beyond our

When we are not humbled
by nature's power
we inflict our wounds
upon ourselves in
the names of greed
and self protection
and no one knows
what it really means.

Fearful of the silence
we fill our skies with
endless noise
babbling on in endless
monotones, droning
while traffic stalls
at a hot stand still
idling engines
idling souls
depletion of every last glimpse
of the past.
Jam packed
in the stench
I am lost today
this vitriol
as anxiety, death and desperation
from every corner
screams my name.

That's why I came
to these woods
where the illusion of
peace remains
wild fires burn
just down the lane
as you know
as you say
its always been this way
when bodies hung
at every cross-roads
hunger, power, ignorance
and strength
all ran
the show.

I'm sick with
every disease I

I float upon these tranquil
blue waters
we are reminded of the peace we all
really can know.

The burden of all
these lives
is bringing me down to
buried in the
sorrows of others
I must confide, my dear
My dreams are
filled with
dread of another day
But my work is never
done - the walking wounded
an endless line,
a samba line
dancing to a thousand
individual tunes
all of which
wind up echoing
in my mind as I listen
for those common themes
search for any magic words
I can bring back to
you, my dear
as you sit in that
four white walled
Speaking to a
random sound
and I with all
those questions
all that experience
all those answers
helpless in
my divide
the professional
the personal
both in total heartbreak, my dear
both only left with that
long lost loving sigh.

The dawn was no longer coming
The earth was no longer spinning
The horizon frozen.
We had moved into the deep chill
of our lives
The deep chill of our love.
Stone cold granite silence
Dancing around each other in
slow motion rotation
eyes like arrows
eyes like mirrors
words silent daggers
breath like icicles
held and panting,
volcanic eruptions seething
beneath the surface,
hurt and rage
covering up,
boiling blood
this frozen silence

civil, constrained, polite.

We turned around
walked away again,
with nothing changed
nothing said.

There’s a place up the avenue
Where lovers come to fail
Look at each other with dispute
And hate is all they feel.

When they check in they always say
“I tried so hard, where do I sign my name.”
They always complain about the investment they have made
Does the room, have a place to change?
The credit card’s declined
The Hotel never seems to mind
The key is in the shape of a broken arrow
right to the heart.
The desk clerk smirks
Gets your name exactly right,
Even though you’ve never met
until this night.

The concierge will give you directions to the local graveyards
The bell hop only dances and never says a word
When you give him a tip, he’ll only throw out your words
The elevator only goes down
The only music heard is the sound
Of a solitary heart beating in rhyme
Singing the song
“You will never be mine”.

The hall way corridor goes on forever backwards in time
The lonesome sounds of whales singing
Echoes through the halls, coming through the walls
And from beneath every door.

The rooms offer amenities
The devil dancing in the pain
On the head of a pin
The walls have one function
That’s to close on in.

The ribbon of blood
That seeps through the mirror
Dances in inkblots all the way
To the sink
Which drips tears of

The bathtub waters
Only run too hot
Too cold.

There is a bed of nails
Inviting ruminations
The images of her with him
Him with her
Strobes on the ceiling in endless loops
Of anguish’s fatal tunes.

Room service offers a variety of suicide utensils
The mini-bar contains a row of empty bottles
and a syringe without a needle.

The garbage men are always out side
Garbage cans crashing through the endless night sky
The windows open to brick walls
While couples in bliss dance cheek to cheek
In the bar across the street
Sometimes they look up at you and smile
That smile.

This nightly room has become a weekly
The weekly a monthly
And if you are not careful
Stay too long
Once you check in
The check out will always be closed
At the Hotel Heartbreak
Just down the road.

There's a full moon risin'
in a blackened sky
there's a full moon
sittin' huge
on the horizon sky.

There's someone standin'
on top of that hill
could it be I?
Hearin' music coming thru the trees
an old soft shoe
arms held high
that big full moon sky.

There's a shadow bein' cast
long thin and lean
stretchin' out creating darkness,
while illuminating light
all around
the shadow movin' ahead
a thin strip of darkness
and callin' it my life.

a small pin light
all­ those
exquisite present moments
the poetry
our flash light lightenin'

And of course
there's a soul
could it be I?
Dancin' that old soft shoe
on top of that hill
a moment's delighting
in a full moon's night sky risin'...

Eleven Author's are giving away an Amazon giftcard~ Summer Fun!

What would you do with a 
$175 Amazon Gift Card?

11 authors have come together
to give you some SUMMER FUN READING
and a $175 AMAZON GIFT CARD!

Click on the image to read a summary of each book :)

GIVEAWAY ends 8/31/14 

No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older and legally able to receive and use an Gift Code. This giveaway is not associated with Rafflecopter, Facebook, Twitter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

This giveaway was organized by I Love to Read and Review Books :) 

and sponsored by the participating authors.
A.L. Sowards
Christy Monson
Ashley Lavering
In This Together Media
J. C. Whyte
Debbie Peterson
Rebecca Belliston
Rebecca H Jamison
Rachelle J. Christensen
Alivia Anderson

Julie Coulter Bellon

August's $229 Kindle Giveaway

Win a Kindle Fire HDX, Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash ($229 value)

The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HDX (US Only - $229 Value)

Or $229 Gift Card (International)

Or $229 in Paypal Cash (International)

Sponsor List

Sign up to sponsor the next Kindle Giveaway here:

Giveaway Details

1 winner will receive their choice of a Kindle Fire 7" HDX (US Only - $229 value), $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash (International).

There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire HDX 7", $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash.

Ends 8/31/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Handpicked by Dani Oden Book Blitz


by Dani Oden

Publication date: August 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult


College freshman Jill Holloway takes one look at the stuck-up girls going through sorority rush and nearly returns her borrowed dress and heels. Against her best judgment, she ends up falling for the prestige and parties, and snagging a bid from a top house. After moving in, she quickly grows skeptical of her too-perfect sorority sisters. She tries to ask questions, though no one will take time from their busy social calendar to give her any real answers.
Jill wastes no time digging for everything she’s not supposed to find, and soon comes face-to-face with a big and bloody secret hidden in her sorority’s basement. She knows she’s in over her head, but taking off so soon would raise the perfectly-plucked eyebrows of her suspicious new sisters. She’s stuck until she can make a smooth exit.
But the closer she gets to leaving, the more it becomes clear that it won’t be as simple as she hoped. A tempting fraternity guy, a best friend who needs her, and new details about what has really been happening in the basement have her questioning what her next move should be, and whether or not it’ll be worth the risks.
HANDPICKED is a New Adult coming of age, with elements of suspense and romance.

Excerpt 1

 “We shouldn’t be talking out here,” Sister President said, and the three of them swiftly set their glasses down and disappeared through a doorway on the other side of the room.
Once the door had closed behind them, Hannah predicted, "Something's about to go down.”
"Where'd the pourers go?" Lindy asked, glancing around.
"You guys are weirding me out." I interjected. "Can't we just enjoy this? There's food and good drinks and we won't have hangovers. Maybe we should try to meet some of the other-"
I didn't get a chance to finish. All the lights in the room went out at once, and the tall curtains lining the wall of windows fell dramatically in front of the glass, blocking out the sunlight. Someone shrieked, and a frantic hush fell over our group.
A strong female voice grabbed our attention. "Get ready, bitches."
A candle flickered, illuminating a face I didn't recognize. "Your new life starts now."

Excerpt 2

Under a moonlit, starless sky, I joined the crowd of passing girls who’d just been released from preference parties at neighboring sororities. Recruitment counselors lined the sidewalks, forbidding us from talking and herding us toward the biggest lecture hall on campus to fill out our preference cards. If I wasn't in the middle of it, I would have thought that hundreds of dressed up young women walking silently in rows might seem a little creepy, but who was I to judge? I was one of them. One of us.
At the end of the block, below a streetlight, was a line of guys in dress pants and collared shirts. A couple of them were all disheveled and wrinkly, clearly out of their element in the nice clothes, though for the most part they were a hot bunch. I tried not to stare but one in particular, with grayish pants, a light blue shirt and a face that rivaled the boyband posters that hung in my old locker, was particularly difficult to look away from.
When the wave of girls I was with passed, they handed each of us a rose with a crookedly cut tag tied on with ribbon. My cheeks burned as the one in blue held his back as a few girls went by and then handed it directly to me, smiling.
I wanted to stop and say something, but the sea of girls behind me pushed me along, forcing me to keep walking. I settled for a smile, the best one I could muster through shaky lips and soggy eyes. Once I was down the block, I peeked at the tag hoping to see his name, but all it said was, Congratulations on completing rush, from the gentlemen of Nu Mu Chi. We hope to see you at our parties this year.
I made a mental note to go to every single one of them. 

Excerpt 3

The commotion in the center of the room seemed to grow, and I leaned my head back against the barrel behind us. "How are we going to keep up with these girls?" I asked.
"What?" Lindy leaned toward me, nearly tipping over.
"These girls! They drink hard!" I shouted.
"Yes," she said, and I wondered if she heard me.
"What's happening?" Hannah interjected, staring at the mob of colorful dresses directly in front of us.
Our pledge sisters had stopped dancing and were all crowded together. A handful of actives seemed to be trying to organize the group, and once they managed to get everyone to step back and give space, I could see a girl in a bright turquoise dress lying in a heap on the ground.
"Oh no," Hannah cringed, sensing the emergency.
"Someone hurt?" Lindy said.
Within seconds, actives swooped in and scooped the girl up. Whoever it was, she was completely limp. Her limbs dangled and swayed as they stealthily carried her away through a set of double doors in the back corner of the room.
The music never stopped, and the lights never came on.
"Who's that?" Hannah slurred.
"Was she okay?" I asked, knowing neither of them was actually going to answer.
Lindy scrunched her face in concentration. "Kimmy?"
"Kimmy?" I repeated.
"Her dress," Lindy said, as if it was an explanation.
"Cammie," Hannah mumbled, tilting her head against her barrel and closing her eyes. "Cammie ruined her dress."
"The Idaho girl from our lunch table?" I asked. She'd been with us in the limo, too.
Neither of them responded.
"Where'd they go?" Lindy wondered, staring at the closed set of double doors. The party had started up again, and girls were back on the dance floor, standing and swaying on the same spot where she'd just fallen.
"Away," Hannah mumbled. 
I wanted to get up to inspect, but I didn’t trust my jello-y legs to navigate through the pulsing crowd. "I think something's wrong, you guys," I said.


Dani OdenDani Oden, est. 1983, has the entertainment tastes of a twelve-year old. When she's not consuming content meant for people less than half her age and blogging about it while her baby sleeps on her lap, she can be found writing novels, road tripping, wine-tasting, and asking her husband to snuggle with her.

Author links: 


Guest Post: Deleted Scenes

Thank you so much for having me! I thought I’d offer readers a “behind-the-scenes” peek at some sections that were part of earlier drafts of HANDPICKED, and why they didn’t make the final cut.

This first one is part of an extended version of the opening scene. Our main character Jill is trying to get ready for her final night of sorority rush in her dorm bathroom…

The girl from the stall emerged, wearing a gold lacy number and looking movie-star perfect except for her red, watery eyes. She reached around me, grabbed a paper towel, and daintily dabbed her mouth. "I can't effing handle this," she said, squeezing into my mirror space and fluffing her wavy brown hair. "I haven't been able to eat for days."
Blond handed her a piece of gum. "Couple more hours, and it'll all be worth it. And that dress looks amazing on you now."
The brunette caught me staring at her reflection and raised her eyebrows. She sized me up, clearly not approving of how I was still in my yoga pants and a tank top, and how my long red hair was in a loose ponytail. "Where are you preffing?" she said casually, asking which sorority parties I was visiting for the final round of rush that night. Thankfully, I had just learned the jargon earlier that day.
I shrugged. "I can't remember, my list is back in my room."
She gaped at me. Her hand stopped not even an inch from her face, her lip gloss still pointed to her mouth. "You can't remember?"
Blond started to laugh as if I'd been joking.
I bristled. "Well, all their names sound the same, don't they?"
They stared at me. 
"I guess some do," the brunette said slowly, like she didn't really think so at all.
My cell phone started buzzing from my pocket, so I quickly grabbed it and scooped up my small make-up bag. "Excuse me," I said, glad to get away. They smelled like a Victoria's Secret store mixed with throw-up.

Ultimately, this exchange was cut simply for pacing. I wanted to speed up the time it takes Jill to get back to her room so we can get her out the door and to the sororities faster. 

This second one is from a scene when Jill dozes off next to her crush, Tad…

In my sleepy state, I was less guarded than I would have been under most circumstances. He started tugging at my sweatshirt, and instead of encouraging him to explore underneath it with his hands, I simply raised my arms up high. Obediently, he lifted it. The hood was tight over my head, but he managed to squeeze it off me, pulling out my ponytail holder. My long red hair fell loosely over my face and I imagined it looked quite sexy. Well, sexy for me, which is about as sexy as like, one of those live-action Disney movies that gets played on Sunday night cable.

This section was cut because of Jill’s reference to being less guarded because she was tired. I was concerned that her comment it made it seem like she wasn’t that into Tad, which was not at all what I was going for – the final version of the scene makes it *pretty* clear that she’s excited to be with him J

Thank you for giving me the chance to share these scenes!

Interview - On Writing

Where did your interest in writing come from?
My interest in writing goes wayyyy back. I have memories of dictating stories to my mom and then illustrating the pages she wrote with stick figures.  I was around four or five at the time. When I got older, my dad had a home office so I’d go in at the end of his work day and use his typewriter to type up my stories. It was only a matter of time before it turned into something bigger!

How did you come up with the setting and plot for HANDPICKED?
HANDPICKED takes place in a university Greek system, with the majority of the action in a sorority house. I was a member of a sorority when I was in college and for me it was a fantastic experience. But, like everyone else, I’ve heard all the buzz about what people think happens behind their closed doors, so I wanted to explore the rumors, and both confirm and contradict some of the stereotypes.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Oh my gosh! This book was a great exercise in editing. The first draft was over 90,000 words, while the final version is just shy of 65,000.

Do you have any strange writing habits?
Building playlists for the project I’m working on! For HANDPICKED, I listened to a lot of Paramore, Alexz Johnson, Hey Monday and Marianas Trench. I try to find music that evokes the same moods I’m trying to create.

What was the toughest part about this process?
I had a few challenges with plotting HANDPICKED, but it was nothing compared to figuring out what I wanted to do after I finished it. I probably spent just as many hours writing it as I did researching independent publishing, traditional publishing, small presses, agents, etc. Ultimately, I’m happy with the decision I made to independently publish.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Unplug your modem J  

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
THANK YOU for reading! And, please don’t be strangers – I can’t wait to hear from you!


Is HANDPICKED based on events in your own life?
Yes and no. I had a sorority experience of my own in college, though it was nothing like what our main character goes through. She’s suspicious and skeptical and constantly questioning things, with good reason to. Though, I did tap into my memories of things like rush and pledge education and bid day to bring some realism to the story.  

How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
I wanted to play off the exclusivity stereotype in sororities and –spoiler alert!—there is a pretty big plot point involving a hand, so it was a natural choice. 

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
I feel closest to our narrator Jill, since we see everything through her eyes. But, I have to admit I liked writing Hannah, with all her f-bombs, snark, and fraternity connections.

If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?
I would have loved to have introduced more of the members of Jill’s sorority. I had to really hold back in that area since most weren’t necessary for this particular story, but I’m excited to explore more of their personalities in future books.

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
Hmm, let’s see. The girls are part of the Alpha Gamma chapter of Iota Beta, and each of those are Greek letters that stands for something important to me. I, B, A, G. That’s the fun part about using the Greek system as a setting, there’s lots of room for symbols and hidden meetings…

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
I can say that Jill is still our narrator, and the story picks up just a few months after HANDPICKED ends, still in her freshman year of college.  And, she has more responsibilities now so the stakes are much higher. I’m going to leave it at that! I’m also working on a prequel, which I’m pretty excited about. Readers will see that Jill mentions that she used to be a camp counselor, so I’m going to release some stories from that part of her life.

Anything else you want to add?
Thank you very much for having me!


 Getting to Know Dani Oden

Tell us three interesting facts about yourself
My dream vacation is an RV roadtrip across the USA, my favorite food is macaroni and cheese, and I’m a boyband enthusiast. 

What made you decide to sit down and write an NA novel?
It happened the other way around, actually. It was a couple years ago, when I was about mid-way through the first draft of HANDPICKED that I first heard of New Adult as its own category. The more I researched, the more I realized how much of a fit it was. I can still remember telling my husband that I’d heard of a new genre that I just happened to be writing already. It was good timing!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I had a baby this year, so snuggling him is pretty high on my list. I also love thrift shopping, reading, and anything involving coffee and/or wine. I’m a semi-ambitious DIY-er, I make a lot of my own jewelry. I also have a real-world career in educational outreach, so that takes up a lot of my time as well.

Who are your favorite writers?
All time favorites? Curtis Sittenfeld, Judy Blume, Rebecca Wells. I’m also getting into Jennifer Weiner lately, and I’m having a lot of fun discovering other NA authors, too. My to-read list is almost all NA since so much has come out since I’ve been in my writing bubble!

Where can you see yourself in 5 years time?
Probably still living with my family somewhere on the West Coast (where I’ve spent most of my life already), with more books out. Hopefully I’ll have traveled a bit more by then, too – I really want to see the southern states and the UK.

What is your favorite movie and why?
So many! I have the entertainment tastes of a teenager. My husband teaches film and just rolls his eye at the movies I love…Mean Girls, Pitch Perfect, all the Harry Potter Films, Wedding Crashers, Wet Hot American Summer. Though, if you twist my arm, I think I’d say Dirty Dancing. It’s such a classic New Adult story, and I love the soundtrack.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
Keep reading and don’t worry so much J
Hi Dani I love to host you too !!!
    Today is the day, my friends! The digital version Handpicked is live and AVAILABLE. To celebrate, I had to offer this fantastic 80s music video:


    Individual giveaways:

    One (1) ebook copy of 


    Open internationally. 
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