The Emerald City by J A Beard

When her parents die, teenager Gail Dorjee retreats into an angry, sarcastic shell. She hopes it will ease her pain, but all it gets her is a one-way trip from Kansas to a Seattle boarding school, the elite Osland Academy.

As soon as she arrives, Gail clashes with Diana, the leader of the school’s most powerful clique. The Winged make Gail’s life hell until she find allies: her airhead roommate; a cowardly fellow victim of the Winged; and, bit by bit, Diana’s boyfriend–the seemingly heartless Nick.

But Gail soon has bigger problems than Diana. One of her teachers hates her. Glasses shatter and fountains erupt around her. She can’t swear no matter how hard she tries. An unseen force is keeping her on campus. Worst of all, she uncovers a plot that will give one person a precious gift at the cost of thousands of lives. Now Gail and her friends must stop the plot–not just to save lives, but to win a brain, the nerve, a heart and a home.


 Gimme 10 – Mini-Interview

Please answer each question in 10 words or less – that’s what makes it tough but fun! 🙂

Where do you find your inspiration? From my family and my life experiences.

 What is your favourite aspect of THE EMERALD CITY? The characters.

Who is your favourite character from THE EMERALD CITY and why? Gail. She’s tough and snarky, but she cares about others.

What are you working on now? A WOMAN OF PROPER ACCOMPLISHMENTS, a Regency paranormal romance

What do you love about most about writing? Being able to vent my built-up creativity.


About the Author: 

J.A. Beard likes to describe himself as a restless soul married to an equally restless soul. His two children are too young yet to discuss whether or not they are restless souls, but he’s betting on it. He likes to call himself the Pie Master, yet is too cowardly to prove his skills in an actual baking competition. So, really, he’s merely a Potential Pie Master.

While writing is one of his great passions, science is another, and when he’s not writing or worrying about baking, he’s working on the completion of his PhD in microbiology.


Want to know more? Check out the links!

Personal links:

I’m also on the net at:




Purchase links:


Barnes and Noble:



Zed by Stephen Herfst

The story revolves around a teenage girl’s promises to save Zed from the human hordes.

Zed is not your typical zombie. He is cursed with the affliction of thought … although he tries to make the best of a bad situation. The goals for his unrest are simple: to improve his stride, to taste a lightly-seared pork loin once again and avoid Activists at all costs.

His life was predictable, controlled and good until chaos crashed the party. In just one day his world is destroyed and his ability to survive is tested. Would he be able to get through this in one piece? And would he somehow be able to survive the unstoppable force that goes by the name of Chase?


***EVENT EXTRA*** First three people to visit Smashwords and enter code UJ48W will be able to pick up a free copy today!


Author Interview

Where do you find your inspiration?

The inspiration came to me while I was watching The Walking Dead. I was bored at the drama and the angst that unfolded so much so that I wanted something else – and then it hit me. I wondered what it would be like to write a zombie story from the perspective of a zombie. This snowballed into the basis of a story that would be humorous, touching and inspirational; not things that you usually associate with the average zombie story! I then spent the next month writing the story, followed by over two months editing and polishing.

What is your favourite aspect of Zed?

My favourite aspect was the interaction between Zed and Chase. It was interesting for me to see the way they interacted and to play their strengths and weaknesses against each other. I also enjoyed twisting the traditional horror aspects around so that normally mundane situations had a horror element from Zed’s perspective.

Who is your favourite character from Zed and why?

My favourite character is Zed, as he reflects a lot of the thoughts and musings that course through my mind. He served as a vehicle for pointing out the hypocrisies and contradictions of society. He also amused me most of the time, although my sense of humour is an acquired taste.

What are you working on now?

I am working on another novel which is not zombie-related. It’s about a manic-obsessive who is forced into a situation that is very much outside of his comfort zone. I am taking a more structured development process to building the story and characters, so I will see whether that pans out when I finally begin writing it. My first novel took just over a month to write, although I think if I get the planning done well, this one might even be quicker. I have established the story arc for the two remaining books in the Zed Trilogy, although I want to stagger the release.

What do you love about most about writing?

I think the thing I love most is being able to contribute to the literary world. I have read a good number of books in my time (I would estimate at least a thousand), and so, contributing my voice to the world is exciting and humbling. Hopefully others will gain enjoyment from the stories that I enjoy writing and reading.


About the Author

If I had to define myself in a few words, it would be:

“Quiet, outgoing, thinking, reflective, driven, lazy, observant, competitive, confident, doubtful”

Depending on my mood, the topic and the people around me, I can be many things. When I began life I wanted to be a programmer but now I just want to be independent. I am always open to trying new things and have always made it a habit of doing things I haven’t done before.

I was born in Germany, from Dutch-South African descent and currently live in Australia although I’m currently working in Philadelphia and my family lives in Malaysia. I don’t believe that I can define one country as my home and hope to travel for the rest of my life.


Want to know more? Check out the links!

Goodreads Author Page

Author Blog

Zed at Smashwords

Zed at

Shades of Grey by Michael Cargill

John is not a very nice man. He works for the government. So who has tied him to a chair and what do they want? James is a British soldier during WWII. Tom is a young boy with a terrible secret. Three stories. Three very different people. All of them battling to survive.


 Gimme 10 – Mini-Interview

Please answer each question in 10 words or less – that’s what makes it tough but fun! 🙂

Where do you find your inspiration? Imagine eating spaghetti with a knife.  Everything just falls out.

What is your favourite aspect of Shades of Grey? Hearing people say they enjoy it.

Who is your favourite character from Shades of Grey and why? John the Baptist.  He is the action-man’s Don Draper.

What are you working on now? A mixture of sleep, brain storming and exercise.

What do you love about most about writing? Turning ideas into words is the world’s greatest magic trick.


About the Author: Living in England, Surrey and about to break the 33-years old barrier.  I can honestly say that coming to terms with getting older is worse than puberty.  At 14 every extra hair was greeted with rapturous applause and a desire to show it off at school.  Every time a small breeze blew I would worry that it was going to blow away.

These days whenever I spot a new nasal hair I can hear it laughing at me.  I even have to make use of electronic devices to prune it back.

A profile picture? I am too shy.  I might pluck up the courage later though.


Want to know more? Check out the links!

Twitter – @MichaelCargill1

US Amazon –

UK Amazon –

Pretty Killers: Diamonds by Jordan McKinney

Book One: Diamonds – Life had not been too kind to little Tomika Drake. Other than growing up in one of the most ill-reputed cities in the state, at age 13, she lost her beloved mother and soon after, her father was incarcerated. For the next three years, she lived her life stuck in a suburban hell with her narcissistic half-sister and her equally evil mother, but on her 16th birthday, her life changed when she was forced to unwrap the powerful superhuman gift that was bestowed upon her at birth. Pretty Killers examines millennial American pop culture, politics, and society through a whirlwind week starting when a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with a famed fashion mogul brings the feuding family to the sparkling metropolis of Queen City. But the shine quickly fades when they learn that the neighbouring burg has been tackling an issue with humongous mutants and other terrors, including a gang that Tomika’s half-sister gets caught up in. When the fate of the city ends up on Tomika’s shoulders, will she find it in her heart to save her half-sister, or take the chance to finally do away with the scourge while saving the city from her gang’s tirades?

Remember…you could win a copy of Diamonds in the event giveaway, so make sure you’ve entered to win! Follow us on Facebook / Twitter and get vocal on the Indie Author Event comments to earn yourself additional entry points 🙂 


 Gimme 10 – Mini-Interview

Please answer each question in 10 words or less – that’s what makes it tough but fun! 🙂

Where do you find your inspiration? Strangely, I find my inspiration mostly in  music.

What is your favourite aspect of Pretty Killers:DiamondsI like the double meaning. How pretentious of me, right?

Who is your favourite character from Pretty Killers:Diamonds and why? Tomika. because she’s overtly sardonic, but still sensitive inside.

What are you working on now? Currently, working on the follow-up to Diamonds.

What do you love about most about writing? I love how you can stretch the limits of reality.


About the Author

Jordan McKinney is that quintessential ’90s kid. You know, the kind of person who repeats ad nauseum how cartoons and the economy and just everything was better up until the year 2000. But with growing up in a small city just outside of Detroit, Michigan, there isn’t much to do but observe, and analyse. Maybe that’s why he grew up to study Sociology in college and then, in turn, used that knowledge to scrutinize subjects in popular culture against sociological and psychological concepts in his writing. Maybe he likes to eat burgers and uses writing to pay for his habit. Who knows anything, but the fact that  he’s a writer who tries too hard to be funny. But, no, seriously, Jordan McKinney became a writer because books are such an important–or used to be an important–part of life. They pass on information, and create worlds that you thought could not exist. And to speak on life from a young Black kid’s perspective is Jordan’s goal.


Want to know more? Check out the links!






Blue Sky Days by Marie Landry

A year after graduating from high school, nineteen-year-old Emma Ward feels lost. She has spent most of her life trying to please her frigid, miserable mother – studying hard, getting good grades, avoiding the whole teenage rebellion thing – and now she feels she has no identity beyond that. Because she spent so many years working hard and planning every moment of her life, she doesn’t have any friends, has never had a boyfriend, and basically doesn’t know who she is or what she really wants from life. Working two part-time jobs to save money for college hasn’t helped her make decisions about her future, so she decides it’s time for a change. She leaves home to live with her free-spirited, slightly eccentric Aunt Daisy in a small town that makes Emma feel like she’s stepped back in time.

When Emma meets Nicholas Shaw, everything changes – he’s unlike anyone she’s ever met before, the kind of man she didn’t even know existed in the 21st century. Carefree and spirited like Daisy, Nicholas teaches Emma to appreciate life, the beauty around her, and to just let go and live. Between Daisy and Nicholas, Emma feels like she belongs somewhere for the first time in her life, and realizes that you don’t always need a plan – sometimes life steers you where you’re meant to be.

Life is wonderful, an endless string of blue sky days, until Nicholas is diagnosed with cancer, and life changes once again for Emma in ways she never thought possible. Now it’s time for her to help Nicholas the way he’s helped her. Emma will have to use her new-found strength, and discover along the way if love really is enough to get you through.

(Read the Aside from Writing review of Blue Sky Days)

Remember…you could win a copy of Blue Sky Days in the event giveaway, so make sure you’ve entered to win! Follow us on Facebook / Twitter and get vocal on the Indie Author Event comments to earn yourself additional entry points 🙂 


 Gimme 10 – Mini-Interview

Please answer each question in 10 words or less – that’s what makes it tough but fun! 🙂

Where do you find your inspiration? Life, love, art, family, music, travel, books.

What is your favourite aspect of Blue Sky DaysThe love story. Emma and Nicholas make my heart happy.

Who is your favourite character from Blue Sky Days and why? Emma. She learns and grows and changes so much.

What are you working on now? Chick-lit about lifelong best friends…and a hot guy! 😉

What do you love about most about writing? The creative outlet, freedom, and simply the act of writing.


About the Author

Marie Landry has always been a daydreamer. She has created imaginary worlds for as long as she can remember, so it only seemed natural that she would become a writer. With a passion for words that started in early childhood, Marie has written a varied range of works, and has been freelance writing since 2009. She resides in Ontario, Canada, and most days you can find her writing, reading, blogging about writing and reading, listening to U2, or having grand adventures with her two precious nephews.


Want to know more? Check out the links!

Facebook – Author Page

Facebook – Blue Sky Days – Book Page 

Twitter –

Book blog –

Author blog –

Buy Blue Sky Days…




Barnes & Noble

Welcome to Indie Author Month!


It’s finally arrived – forget about our usual features, reviews and guests…for the entire month of May we’re dedicating the blog to promoting a whole host of indepedent authors from the YA world, covering all genres and tastes to help you gear up your reading lists for summer with something a little different!

Of course, no event would be complete without a giveaway – which you’ll know that we don’t normally do – and one lucky reader will be chosen to win a whole host of hard copy and e-book lovelies. Not only that, but along the way you’ll be able to find free download vouchers and extra giveaways from the featured authors, so check in daily Won’t that be nice to take away on your summer jollies?

So without further ado we’ll get on with the event – visit the Facebook page (HERE!) or the giveaway page to enter for your chance to win anything up to THIRTY books donated by the authors featuring in our event and then check back with us each and every day this month to see some great books and mini-interviews with the people who’ve written them!

Our first book and author of the day will be up shortly! Enjoy!! 🙂

Guest Post…Where do you get your ideas?

Author Tony Talbot joins us today with a guest post on where writing ideas come from…


It’s a common enough question, and one I think every writer probably has a half-different answer to. Some of them say from their own life experiences, some of them say from dreams or something they’ve seen or heard that sticks.

For me, it’s anything and everything I see, and most of the stuff that I dream. There’s a school of thought that says everything a writer sees never leaves their heads, but sits in there, waiting to bounce off something else. I like to think of it as my own solar system, the important stuff close to the star…and out beyond where the heat and the life is…ahh, that’s the good stuff.

There are comets out there, innocuous balls of ice and rock, dark against infinity. But give them a nudge, and they hurtle towards the planets, sometimes leaving a trail across the sky of my imagination. Sometimes they hit things. Wipe out whole continents, reshape whole planets and civilisations. Sometimes you think they’re going to smash into a planet only burn up in the atmosphere.

Here’s an example of one of those comets, one that left a bright streak but didn’t do much damage:

A month or two ago, I was eating in McDonalds with my wife on a Friday night, and sitting at the other end of this very noisy and busy restaurant was a woman at a table for two. Nothing very odd or spectacular about that, you would think, but she was wearing a wedding ring, and she was alone on a Friday night eating in a cheap restaurant.

Instantly, the questions about her started in my head: Who was she? Where were her husband and family (if she had one)? Why was she alone on a Friday night?

By the time I got home, the woman had stuck, and I managed to get a decent story out of her. Not bad for someone I never spoke to. And one of the pleasures of writing is this: Give this little snapshot to a dozen writers and they’ll come up with a different answer. That woman gave my little writing group a surprise party mistaken for an affair, a ghost story and a secret daughter. Just from a woman sitting alone at a table in McDonalds.

So next time you’re out walking somewhere, when you glance at something, glance again. You’ll never know when an image will stick and what you’ll do with it. Take that image and nudge some comets. Maybe blow out some continents.

You know, just for fun.


About the Author: Tony Talbot was born in the 1970s and started writing in 2008 after a dream he had and couldn’t shake. American Girl was his third book, and he’s currently editing his next book and planning the book after, tentatively called, ‘Dome’.


Want to know more? Check out the links!


Twitter: @authortony



meme…TGIF Look Back – 1

TGIF Look Back is a weekly meme hosted by Mel at her author blog it just takes a few minutes: to play along, just answer the following questions with some Friday feeling…do one or all, whatever you feel like because it’s Friday :)

FUNNY – What made you laugh this week?

READING – What were you reading this week?

INSPIRED – What inspired you this week? 

DREAM – What were you dreaming about this week?

ANGEL – Who was your angel/star of the week?

YUCK – What made you go ‘ewwww’ this week?
My TGIF Look Back…

FUNNY – Crazy coke chugging guy on YouTube – courtesy of Michael Cargill 🙂 It’s kind of weird and he looks like he stepped out of LotR

READING – Stephen King, The Running Man for April’s book of the month – I’m way behind! 

INSPIRED – Four-day week! Extra days off work are truly inspirational…

DREAM – Random work stuff – nothing interesting

YUCK – Have been watching True Blood re-runs this week – love them, but ewwww they’re gory sometimes

Guest Post…An 18-Year Quest

The fire that ignited the fuel of my 18 year quest…

A recent reviewer for The Bridge of Deaths wrote, “Would you spend 18 years researching anything?”  I smiled and my first thought was, these are the words of someone young. They were indeed the words of a woman in her early 20s. Time is a matter of perspective and at 52 18 years does not seem like a very long time to work on fulfilling a dream or reaching for something as important as the image and love of a grandparent.

In many of my earliest memories as a little girl are thoughts and desires to sit on a grandfather’s lap and to get to know a person that inexplicably I loved and missed. He died 20 years before I was born, and not all the stories about him painted the image of a perfect wonderful man, but I felt an amazing affinity to my mom’s dad.

Do you know the scene in the movie The Parent Trap when the twin who has never met her grandfather gives him a big bear hug and tells him she is creating a memory with the smell of pipe tobacco and peppermint? Well it was that kind of fire that ignited the fuel of my 18 year quest, a fire of longing and loving for a grandfather.

That type of fire I refer to is motivated by two very strong forces all of us possess; love and curiosity.  These two strong elements combined with determination are bound to get anyone to the finish line. There were understandably some big hurdles and roadblocks and I am not shy to admit that amongst them one of the biggest was my absolutely limited knowledge in HISTORY and especially history of the era I had to work with.

This particular hurdle had a solution that can be useful to many with problems for variety of career goals. The solution was simply this, a willingness to learn, work hard and well yes, one could call it study. In my case it was the self-imposed story of historical data. Some of you may have goals where there might be a class you can take or a workshop, it can be training physically or making lifestyle changes.  I can tell you this from my personal experience, if something is important enough to you give yourself the gift of setting the goal and reaching it.

May all the Bridges you cross lead to happiness and great success!


About today’s guest: M.C.V. Egan is fluent in four languages, Spanish, English, French and Swedish. She lives in Delray Beach, Florida with her husband and teenage son. Author of The Bridge of Deaths, you can find out more about her work on the links below:

twitter: M_C_V_EGAN

Interview…with La-ren from Twin-Bred

Hi La-ren, welcome to Aside from Writing, thanks for joining us today. You are the second ‘outer space’ alien character we’ve interviewed for the blog – so can you start by introducing yourself to our readers? 

My name is La-ren. The hyphen represents a sound that humans usually compare to a hiccup. Any approximation will do. I am not easily offended.

How did you come to know any humans?

My species, the Tofa, is acquainted with humans because a small group of them came to my planet, Tofarn, approximately 85 Terran years ago and established a colony. I personally became acquainted with one human, my twin sister Judy, from the moment I can be said to have existed at all. Our host mother Laura carried us both. (Actually, Judy is Laura’s biological daughter as well, but I do not believe it has made much difference.) Judy and I lived with Laura, in a cottage on the grounds of the L.E.V.I. Project, until our early teens, when we moved into the main compound to share a room near other Twin-Bred pairs. We are very fond of our host mother, but it is more entertaining and less constricting to live near our peers — even with the constant oversight of Project staff.

What is the L.E.V.I. Project?

The initials stand for Long-term Emissary Viviparous Initiative. The acronym has a significance that I am not at liberty to explain.

The goal of the Project is to enable the human and Tofa communities to understand each other better. Before the Project was initiated, and even while it has been underway, our mutual inability to comprehend each other’s attitudes, motivations and behavior has led to many confrontations, any of which could have escalated into a major conflict.

What do you think of humans?

My experience of humans is somewhat limited so far. I cannot expect those humans who chose to join the Project to be typical. If I did make that assumption, I would believe humans to be dedicated, curious, hard-working, friendly, and relatively hard to startle. But if that were the general human profile, I doubt the Project — and Judy and I — would exist at all.

What is your role in the Project?

I am meant to serve multiple functions. From birth onward, I and the other Tofa Twin-Bred have been accessible for human observation and study. The difficulty is that we present a perhaps extreme example of the observer altering the phenomenon observed. We were altered in small ways at an embryonic stage in order that human women could carry us. We shared a womb with a human fetus, with results difficult to isolate. And we have been raised around more humans than Tofa. I wish I could tell you — I wish I could know — how much we differ from what you might call “normal” Tofa.

I hope to have the opportunity, before too long, to answer that question. We — all of us Twin-Bred, Tofa and human — have been trained to act as mediators between the human and Tofa communities. That is the second essential function we are meant to perform. There appear to be political obstacles. My friends and I are becoming impatient.


Thank-you for joining us for an interview La-ren – we wish you a safe journey home 🙂 

Buy the Book:   Amazon     B&N 

La-ren appears in Twin-Bred by Karen A. Wyle – a sci-fi novel which reviewers have recommended for all ages.


About the Author: Karen A. Wyle was born a Connecticut Yankee, but eventually settled in Bloomington,Indiana, home of Indiana University.  She now considers herself a Hoosier.  Wyle’s childhood ambition was to be the youngest ever published novelist.  While writing her first novel at age 10, she was mortified to learn that some British upstart had beaten her to the goal at age 9. 

Wyle is an lawyer, photographer, political junkie, and mother of two daughters.  Her voice is the product of many years of reading both literary and genre fiction.  Her personal history has led her to focus on themes of family, communication, the impossibility of controlling events, and the persistence of unfinished business.

Want to know more? Check out the links!

–My author page:

–My author Facebook page:

Twin-Bred’s Facebook page: (no hyphen)

–My blog, Looking Around: