Thursday, April 24, 2014

True Heroes A to Z: U=Zero

True heroes are all around us, in our every day lives, but some people stand out. During this A-Z Challenge I hope to share several of my real life heroes, and invite you to share yours in the comments.

huru Gonja Houston: A man who sought a better life.

This is a general tribute to all of the 71 police officers and 343 NYC Fire Department workers lost in the 2001 Trade Center collapse, each and everyone of them a true hero. Officer Houston was one.

Having lived in NYC, I adore anyone who really strives for a better future, something Uhuru worked toward. He grew up in Brooklyn (which is kind of a rough area), and through obtaining a great education and law enforcement job, was able to move his family to the nicer neighborhoods of New Jersey. Uhuru was assigned to work at the World Trade Centers, and was 32 years old when the they came down. He left behind a wife, a 5 year old son and 20 month old daughter.

There were a number of people lost that day, but I can't think about the tragedy without remembering the outpouring of love. Heroes came out of the woodwork. Men and women rushed into danger rather than away. An entire country mourned with the families for their loss, and the grounds that used to support two business buildings became a sacred memorial to the value of life, freedom and compassion.

Six more days to get MOONLESS at $1.99.

Jane Eyre meets Supernatural

An excerpt: 

“You know I worry about you, Alexia.” 
Yes, she knew it. He feared he’d raised a child too intelligent to settle on some dim-witted and wealthy noble.
“When Sarah was your age—”
“You had her promised to a fifty-one year old man.” Crossing her arms, she scowled.
“That is right.” He blinked back at her and cleared this throat.
She didn’t do him the justice of disbanding her anger. This was the one day she might actually get away with being willful.
He shifted in his seat. “Someone approached me near your last birthday with a proposal of marriage.”
 Alexia blinked. “For me? Was he mistaken?”
“He is a wealthy countryman from the North, older, intellectual, a good match.”
“How much older?” Smoothing the folds of her napkin, she held her breath.
He shrugged. “Enough. I was sorely tempted to accept his offer, and I would have if . . .”
She shuddered. If she hadn’t changed.
His head shook. “You have your pick of suitors, but I do expect you to make a choice before your next birthday.”
Her jaw tumbled.
He grinned, bumping her chin up with a knuckle. “Some young man will be very lucky to acquire you.”
She moaned.
“Do not start,” he purred. “You shall be happy—or I’ll not let you go.” His boyish dimple had surfaced. He meant it.
“I know.” She smiled back.
“One year, or I will accept that generous proposal on your behalf.”
“One year.”

Where were you on 9-11? Were there any stories you heard of heroes that day that touched your life? Have you been to see ground zero? What are your feelings about forced marriages?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Writerly Wednesday (AKA win a book) and True Heroes: T

True heroes are all around us, in our every day lives, but some people stand out. During this A-Z Challenge I hope to share several of my real life heroes, and invite you to share yours in the comments.

yndale, William. Many of my heroes throughout history stood against the powers that be, and several gave their life for a cause. Tyndale is one of those.

After Wycliffe's Bible got out, the "church" (AKA world wide government) basically put a death sentence on any "unauthorized" translations of the bible to English. In other words, they wanted to keep the people ignorant. Inspired by Martin Luther, Tyndale studied both Greek and Hebrew, and against church mandate, translated the Bible into English. One book he wrote, The Obedience of a Christian Man, ended up in King Henry VIII's hands, and became another stick on the bonfire that ended in King Henry declaring independence from the Roman Catholic church.

Because of his actions, Tyndale became a hunted man. After hiding for a time, he was betrayed, captured, and imprisoned. He spent a year in prison, then was sentence to be strangled to death and burned at the stake. His last words were: "Lord! Open the King of England's eyes."

Four different English versions of the Bible were translated in following years, at King Henry's mandate.

I can only imagine William Tyndale's constant fear of being caught, but I'm inspired by his courage. If he could give his life for such a worthy cause, surely I can live mine to support those same principals of freedom and truth.

Are you ready to meet a new author and enter to win an awesome book? 

Last week, Jay Noel shared Dragonfly Warrior with us, along with two truths and one lie. Those who guessed the lie correctly were entered into a random drawing for the chance to win one of these two AWESOME Steampunk bookmarks:

Jay's game:

1. In 2002, Jay had a near death experience. His heart stopped while in the hospital, and that's why he never takes anything for granted.
2. Jay's a big time extrovert, and spent a lot of time on stage. He participated in musicals, plays, speech and debate. He even got to the National Championships in humorous interpretation.
3. Jay had a strange encounter with a ghost when he was 13 years old and it radically changed him forever. He's been infatuated with the paranormal ever since.

And the lie is: 

#2. Jay really is a huge extrovert, but he never did do drama or speech and debate. He was too busy playing sports and chasing girls. BUT, when he was a high school English teacher, he did coach speech & debate.

Way to guess those of you who got it right! You are officially human lie detectors. And the winner is:


Michael Di Gesu!

Congrats Michael!

And now to today's feature, a book that fits right in with Tindale's time period:

Notorious pirate Barren Reed has one thing on his mind: Revenge against the man who killed his father. So kidnapping his enemy's fiancé seems a perfect plan…until he actually does it.

Larkin Lee is more than a pretty face and fiancé to a powerful man. Her fierce personality is enough to make any pirate want to push her overboard.

But when the King of the Orient comes to Barren with a task—to find the Bloodstone, a powerful gem thought only to exist in legend, Barren sees another opportunity to destroy his enemy. Together, Barren, Larkin and a crew of pirates set off to find the stone, only to discover it caused the death of Barren’s own mother and Larkin’s, too. As his strongest allies turn into his greatest enemies, and the life of the girl he kidnapped becomes more important than he ever dreamed, Barren’s quest for revenge becomes a fight to save the Orient.

Pick up your copy HERE.

Let me introduce you to the amazing author: 

Ashley Nixon was born and raised in Oklahoma, where the wind really does sweep down the plains, and horses and carriages aren't used as much as she'd like. When she's not writing, she's hard at work on her Master's degree in Library Science and Information Technology, working out, or pretending she's Sherlock Holmes. Her obsession with writing began after reading the Lord of the Rings in the eighth grade. Since then, she's loved everything Fantasy--resulting in an unhealthy obsession with the 'geek' tab on Pinterest, where all things awesome go.

Ashley can be found eating mozzarella balls while sitting at her desk, working on her books.

Ashley gave me two truths and one lie to test your "lie detector" skills. Those who figure out the lie will go into my magic hat for a chance to win your choice of an eBook of CutlassYou have until Tuesday, April 29, at 1 p.m. EDT to guess--and be sure to come back for the answer on April 30.


1. Ashley memorized all the lines to The Two Towers after watching the movie for about 30 days straight.
2. She has a really weird scar on her neck that looks like she was stabbed by a fork...or bitten by a vampire.
3. When she was little, she had an imaginary friend monster named Petie.

And you have a second chance to win today:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Seven more days to get MOONLESS at $1.99: Jane Eyre meets Supernatural

Is Ashley vampire bate--or which is the lie? How do you feel about freedom of speech? Is there a cause you feel strong enough about you'd be willing to give your life? Do you have any heroes from this religiously revolutionary era?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

True Heroes A to Z: S, a Martyr

True heroes are all around us, in our every day lives, but some people stand out. During this A-Z Challenge I hope to share several of my real life heroes, and invite you to share yours in the comments.

mith, Joseph. There has been good and evil spoken of this single individual throughout the world, a man who died at the age of 38, a man who should have proven so insignificant that no one bothered noticing him.

What is it that made Joseph stand out in history? The claim of having seen a vision? That wasn't uncommon. It should have been ignored. He was encouraged to deny it and people went out of their way to tease or mock him--a 14 year old boy who said he had seen God.

But Joseph didn't deny it. Ever.

When he was led by revelation to an ancient book written on metal pages (gold actually) and hidden in a hillside, people mocked him more, but made several attempts to steal the book. A professor in New York refused to verify the authenticity of reformed Egyptian script copied from the book, and the translation Joseph had produced, because he said angels did not appear to men. Other experts did verify both the characters and translation.

From a young man who had never obtained more than a 3rd grade education.

He started a church that has become one of the greatest charitable organizations in the world, and he was martyred at the age of 38 while being held on false accusations in a prison, in the "land of the free," for his beliefs. A mayor and church leader, murdered by a mob.

Joseph sealed his life's mission and testimony with his death.

And yet the church he started lives on. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, known as the Mormons (after the author of the ancient book Joseph translated), has thrived and become the fastest growing religion in American history. So I put this before you: Joseph was either one of the smartest men to ever walk the earth, or there's something more to the church for which he, and countless others, gave everything.

Learn more HERE.

Eight more days to get MOONLESS at $1.99.

Jane Eyre meets Supernatural

An excerpt: 

A body dangled from the rafters, several inches above the dirt floor.
Alexia’s scream froze in her throat.
Soft honeydew tresses spilled loosely over thin shoulders, the child’s eyes heavily-lashed and downturned. Her cheeks were blotched, wide, and white, contrasting with vibrant crimson lips. Scarlet skirts hung about the girl, like the bleeding petals of a rose, still as death.
Alexia swallowed. A child. She couldn’t be more than thirteen. Great wide irons looped her wrists, cutting wicked lines in the little one’s skin.
It wasn’t right. Disgust bubbled through her chest. She covered her mouth and hurried down the steps, anxious to rescue the body, or at least lay it to rest.
The girl’s eyes turned up. Brown, chocolate, swirling.
Alexia tumbled back. She thunked into the stairs and landed on her rump. Hard. She sucked in a breath. The little face watched her, expressionless, innocent, beautiful. Her stomach twisted. No one should be that perfect—not even in death.

What are your feelings on religion? Do you believe in God, in prophets, in revelation? Do you think it's possible to receive personal "revelation" or guidance from a higher power?

Monday, April 21, 2014

True Heroes: R for Radical Red...

True heroes are all around us, in our every day lives, but some people stand out. During this A-Z Challenge I hope to share several of my real life heroes, and invite you to share yours in the comments.

andy Hicken, AKA, Radical Red Randal. I cringe when people are awkward around special needs kids. I've had the privilege to work with a number of them, and yes, it can be difficult to interpret their behavior initially, but these are the most loving, precious people you will meet.

One of them was my brother.

People ask me occasionally why I have such a love for CHEESE. Well, it's not all about food. Cheese is family culture primarily because of my older brother, whose grin was so huge it could only be described as the true definition of cheese. Oh, and cheese was his favorite food. We'd often catch him in the kitchen slicing a 1/2 lb wedge of cheese off the block to munch on.

Yes, Randy had special needs. He drooled most his growing up--like he should have worn a "beware of slobber" sign--and he was occasionally forceful, but the thing that set him apart was how much he loved everyone.

You were Randy's friend. You couldn't not be. He'd ask your name, shake your hand, and forever thereafter he'd introduce you like this: "This is Crystal, my friend."

Randy's natural optimism never got old--like Olaf the snowman. He was a ray of sunshine.

He passed away at the age of 30, and I can't go a single day without thinking of him, without wanting to be like him. The cheese is Randy's legacy, his reminder to me to be myself, to love everyone, and to see the good in life.

If you'd like to read a brief, and touching tribute to my brother with a few laughs and odd stories, you can read more HERE.

Nine more days to get MOONLESS at $1.99.

Jane Eyre meets Supernatural

An excerpt: 

Alexia lowered her eyelids to keep him from witnessing the forming tears.
Kiren stepped nearer, tucked a hand up under her jaw, and pressed his lips to her brow. Warmth radiated from the connection. She accepted it, trying to be grateful for the simple reassurance that—despite his reluctance toward romance—he did care for and would protect her, even from himself.
He sucked in a breath through his nose, and forced her chin upward. His lips crashed down over hers.
Shockwaves rolled through her, her knees going limp. His arm slipped around her back, pressing her to him. His fingers tugged through her hair. She surrendered entirely to the cataclysmic torrent tearing through her body.
The only things that existed were he, she, and the storm ripping through them. She clung to him. The only reality was this—this incredible connection. She wanted him, and nothing else. She wanted this, and nothing more. She wanted him, and he wanted her!
He pushed her back, holding her arms against her sides.
Eyes closed.
She reached for him.
He grimaced, released her, and stepped into the shadows, vanishing.

Have you been inspired by any special needs individuals? Who is the most optimistic person you know? Is there anyone in your life who has influenced you whole way of life?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

True Heroes A to Z: Yes, I do have a Q!

True heroes are all around us, in our every day lives, but some people stand out. During this A-Z Challenge I hope to share several of my real life heroes, and invite you to share yours in the comments.

uin Collier. Yes, we share a last name, because this is actually my son. Is it crazy that I could look up to my 13 year old? Well, I do.

My father was a doctor, and when he saw Quin's early development, he promised this kid was going to be very bored in school. It shouldn't have been any surprise that he came to me when he was 3 and said, "I want to learn how to read."

My response, "Uh, okay. We'll work on that."

And we did. In fact, we began homeschooling right then and never stopped. He burned through first and second grade in a matter of 4 months. He read the entire Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price by the age of 8. He has always had a way with words, and astonished people with his way premature wisdom.

Despite all this, I don't look up to my son because he's a quick learner. I adore him because he sees something good or worthy and goes after it. He weighs every decision against what he should do, what he wants to do, and what would be best for those around him. How can a 13 year old be that mature?

I look up to my Quin Monster because he wants to be good. He wants to do what's right. He wants others to know they're important and loved, even to self sacrifice. His desires motivate me to be a better person.

The end is nigh. MOONLESS will only be on sale at $1.99 a few more days. There is one character somewhat similar to my son in the book.


Miles sighed. A long silence stretched, light glinting off the peg in his hand. “I remember the butterfly, golden wings, black spots. That’s how I know it was summer in Wilhamshire.” He stilled, focusing on the bauble turning over in his fingers. “We were passing through, not staying, just passing, traveling late on foot.” The bolt twisted back and forth in his grasp, gaining momentum. “Dark overtook us. They cornered us on the outskirts, moments away from safety. We ran, but in the end . . .” He released the fastener and it twirled to a halt. “My parents didn’t make it. They fended them off while I escaped.”

Alexia hugged herself.

“But they left a scar.” He scowled. “And I’ve been running ever since.”

Do you know any young people who inspire you? Do you have any heroes who are children or teens? What have you learned from kids around you?

Oh, and Happy Easter!