Wow! I finished reading this book last week and the story and characters remain with me. If you like suspense... I'm talking edge of your seat, page turning, high action suspense...get this book! You will not be disappointed.
Take a peek---
Terrorists have invaded Sydney, and Allison King barely escapes her brother’s wedding reception alive. She and her siblings flee, but their parents are killed by firing squad.
Now Ali’s on the run and terrified. While searching for other survivors, she is captured by the General who leads the invasion. He’s smitten by Ali, and when she refuses to submit to his whims, he brands her for death. In a wild act of defiance, she snatches the branding rod and sears the mark onto his face. Marking not only him but also sealing her fate. Ali manages to escape and flees into the bush once more where she finds a group in hiding. Even with the scars left by the General, Ali learns to love and falls in love with the young man who found her—Damien Rogers.
But the General is hunting her. When he discovers their location, and finds her with another man—Damien—his wrath is kindled and his obsession is inflamed. Ali must put herself on the line or the General could kill her family, those who help her, and most significantly, the man she loves.
Click on the cover above to check out Branded on Amazon. You can read the first four chapters for free if you click on the cover at the Amazon site.
I asked Katie if she could share a little something extra about her book and she gave me Five Secrets to share!
Branded was first born in my 11th grade English class. In its rawest form, it was a single scene short story. We were asked to write something about five pictures our teacher put up on the board. All of them would be considered bright and happy, but a picture of a field of bright yellow flowers with a mountain behind them struck my attention. This scene is the scene where Ali and Nick set up an ambush against the enemy in a canola field. Although this isn't the picture used in my high school class, it's similar.
Sunflowers are one of my favorite to grow in my garden...A field of them is lovely!
The contract for Branded was a total fluke. Although I was querying it, I wasn't really pushing hard for a contract. Due to its controversial content, I knew it would need someone special to love it. I guess Debby at Soul Mate was that special someone. Anyway, I entered it into a query comp to go in the running to win a $10 Amazon gift card. Hey, I want books! To my surprise, I got a full request for it as well as the $10 GC. The contract came to me on the day of my debut novel's release (Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh.) It was a pretty good day all around.
Wow! Double score on that day!
Branded is the second version of this story based on these characters. The original was written in a school notebook. I let a friend borrow it to read it, and never got it back! Heart breaking! But with it in mind still, I rebuilt it for NaNoWriMo of Nov 2012. This version is a much stronger version anyway.
I see where Ali gets her strength and determination!
Ali went to the same high school I did! It really is an academically selective high school, and so since she's very smart, it fit, even if she's more cunning smart than book smart. So the description of the area and the school is first hand and a real place.
When I read Branded, I felt as if I were right there. From the wedding reception, to the 'bush', to the school---all the settings came to life through your descriptions, even though I've never been to Australia.
The Blue Mountains is also something else Ali and I have in common. In fact, her home is based on my home. She grew up in my hometown, and raids the grocery store we rushed to when we needed a last minute something or another. It's such a beautiful place I really wanted to showcase it.
Gorgeous! Now I really want to visit!
Thanks Katie for sharing Five Behind the Scenes Secrets from Branded today!
About Katie Hamstead---
Born and raised in Australia, Katie’s early years of day dreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.
After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dog.
She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing. She currently works as an Acquisitions Editor with Curiosity Quills Press to help support her family.
Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports and be a good wife and mother. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.
Here's how you can follow Katie--she has written other novels too, including the very popular Kiya Trilogy.
Like conspiracy books with a touch of romance? Check this one out!
The Phoenix Blade: Project Justice by Andrew Hess.
What would you do if everything you said and did was monitored and used to force you into working covertly for the government?
College student Andrew Lancaster has had enough of corrupt politicians and corporate greed, but his anger filled rants may have gone too far. When Lancaster is contacted by a government official calling himself “The Benefactor,” he learns his private communications have been monitored. And there will be consequences.
Lancaster is given a choice; join forces with the government he distrusts, or face a treason indictment. As an added incentive, he’ll receive the answer to a question that has plagued him since childhood-who killed his mother.
It is something Lancaster cannot live without knowing and enlists as an undercover operative in Project Justice. At first the mission seems ideally suited for his do-gooder attitude. But Lancaster soon discovers the tactics he’ll be using are not only dishonest; they’re deadly.
Lancaster learns he will be an assassin; eliminating targets the Benefactor and other high ranking officials deem to be evil.
I’m thrilled to have Andrew Hess with me today.
What inspired you to write this novel?
In 2005 I was enrolled at SUNY New Paltz where I studied psychology. I contemplated writing a book several times but couldn’t find a gripping plot that could grab someone’s attention. I don’t really remember what I saw on TV, but something caught my eye and I wondered what would happen if the government listened to everything we said and could see everything we did; namely our phone calls and emails (ironic that 8yrs later we found out they were).
When did you start writing this book? How long did it take you?
I initially started writing The Phoenix Blade in 2005. It took me about eight months to write up to the halfway point in the book before my computer crashed and was forced to shelf it for a while. In 2008 I finally found a way to access the files using a portable A Drive and picked up where I left off; finding I hated almost everything I wrote and spent another six months re-writing it to get the plot where I wanted and continued re-writing it sporadically for the next five years.
Are your characters or plots based on anyone or experiences in real life? Or are they completely fictitious?
Thankfully non of what happened in the book ever happened in real life, but some of the characters were loosely based off of friends, but mostly were fictitious.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
Obviously I would have to say the main character, Andrew Lancaster, is ultimately my favorite. He starts out naive and wants to do everything in his power to find out who killed his mother; he just didn’t realize he signed his life away to some unknown government agent. Lancaster struggles with the morality of killing others in the name of justice, wants to do everything to protect his friends and still hopes there is some way to walk away from everything with a potential future that didn’t end with his group being arrested.
If you stepped into Andrew Lancaster's shoes, would you react the same way he did to adversity?
What is your favorite time of day to write?
Morning, noon, night and late night.
Who is your favorite author?
I have two. Edgar Allen Poe has been my all time favorite due to his dark edgy words and stories. His tales are gripping and keep you on the edge of your seat. I especially love his stories like the Tell Tale Heart and Cask of Amontillado.
James Patterson has been my other favorite author. He has such attention to detail that whether you’re reading to his books or listening to the audio books, you can picture everything that happens; the settings; the characters; their movements.
What genre do you like to read the most?
I’m a big fan of mystery, suspense and thrillers. They keep me invested in the story and keeps me wanting to see what happens next.
Exactly what snagged me as I read your book.
When you pick up a book at the store or library, what makes you select it? What makes you put it down?
The first thing I notice about a book is the cover. If the cover doesn’t stick out, chances are I’m going to pass right over it. After I pick up a book, I read the synopsis on the back and see if the story is plausible and interesting enough before I crack open the first chapter.
I'm an avid reader so what is the last book you read or are currently reading?
Neighborly Complications by Anne Conley.
Ready for some Fast & Furious questions?
Favorite Ice Cream? A mix of chocolate chip cookie dough and cookies and crème ice crème
Favorite Movie? Boondock Saints
Favorite Super Hero? Batman
Favorite tv show when you were a kid? Boy Meets World
Food you can’t stand? Vegetables and Humus
What annoys you? People who drive too aggressively and think they own the road.
Jeans or Sweatpants? Jeans if I have to go out or a pair of shorts the moment I get home.
The day is not complete without… Writing and talking with my fiancé
One Word that best describes yourself… Unique
Now for my favorite part...here's an excerpt from The Phoenix Blade: Project Justice
Bright white lights. It was the first thing I noticed when I opened my eyes. My head was throbbing; everything was blurry.
“Just relax Mr. Lancaster,” a stern woman’s voice said as she laid a hand on my chest; forcing me back to the bed. “You’ve been through a major ordeal and need rest.”
I tried to push myself up on the bed, but found my arms tied down with thick leather restraints.
“What’s going on? Where am I?”
“Relax, you’re in good hands.”
I craned my neck to look through the window on a solid white door. I thought I saw a familiar face standing outside. She had short brown hair. I wanted nothing more than to get out of that room, but was remanded to the bed. My arms thrashed around; trying to fight the restraints, but couldn’t move them more than an inch from the plain white sheets. My claustrophobia was kicking in; making my heart beat faster; keeping in time with the loud beeps on the machines I was hooked up to.
“Mr. Lancaster, you need to relax.”
But I couldn’t. I didn’t like being held against my will. I was scared and alone; held hostage by some random woman in a white room.
Suddenly, I felt a calming sensation sweep over my body as if every muscle in my body was relaxed and numb.
“There, that should do it,” the woman said as she injected a syringe into my IV. She wiped my eyes; allowing me to see her large frame standing next to the bed. Her blue surgical mask covered her face; keeping her identity hidden.
“What did you do to me?” It was the only words I was able to speak before the room blurred and faded.
“He should be out any second.” The woman’s voice echoed as if she was talking down a long hallway.
“Good bring him downstairs,” a stern male voice said. I could hear a loud long beep as I was wheeled out of the room forcefully.
Here’s how you can contact Andrew Hess
Click on the Titles below for Buy links:
The Phoenix Blade: Project Justice
Chamber of Souls
Hall of the Forgotten
Thanks again, Andrew Hess for joining me here today!
Any Chocoholics out there?
Fans of gooey brownies? How about Oreos?
On a weekend trip to Pennsylvania to visit family, my sister-in-law made a pan of these. When my kids gave me the 'two thumbs up' signal, I snagged the recipe from her.
It is quick, easy, and oh so yummy! There is one catch though----cooling time is way over an hour!
My girls love to put a personal twist on recipes so for the brownies pictured above, they used a Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake mix instead of the Devil's Food Cake mix, AND they used Mint Oreo cookies instead of the regular ones. YUM!
Over an hour after they pulled them out of the oven, the brownies were still warm and gooey. The kids couldn't wait for the brownies to "cool completely" so they grabbed spoons...I did too!
Today my kids went back to school, and I was going to pack a brownie in their lunches...but like summer vacation, the brownies disappeared far too fast!
It is my pleasure to introduce poet, artist, and novelist,
When I saw the title of JoAnn's Poem Collection, I knew I had to have her on my blog: Reading Writing and Everything in Between!
“Poems About Life, Love, and Everything in Between” is a poetry collection that provides a glimpse into the heart, mind and soul, of its author. It is a heartwarming read, written with love and respect for others. Some poems were written in times of sorrow, other poems were written in times of joyous celebration. Life is like that.
Flowers bloom in rainy spring
after a winter cold.
To blanket the world in exquisiteness
of red, green and gold.
Bulbs glimmer in every yard,
through summer heat and breeze.
Bringing joy and beauty,
before the winter freeze.
Birds of many colors,
flying through the air.
Busy raising children,
like parents everywhere.
Cold winds blow,
and winter calls.
Anxiously awaiting buried spring seeds.
If only we accepted,
the seasons assuming change.
Accommodating the winter winds to come,
so life may continue on.
Beautiful! I LOVE flowers and the change in the seasons:)
Here's another poem by JoAnne---
Cast my eyes upon you.
The wonders of the night.
Let it be said, I admire you.
Magical! Mystical! Wonderful!
The words emanate from my lips,
as easy as butter melted from the sun.
Not even the atmosphere that sustains you,
is larger or more precious then my love.
Could I hold you for just a while,
to caress you and make me smile?
For no one would miss just one,
as you go on for miles and miles.
Held up by the wind.
To fill our mortal heads for when we dream.
Then in the morning you are gone.
Like the mist on a far away bog.
I call to you of many names.
Repeating them until I cannot.
Like a child lost in the dark.
My memories linger on, something never forgot.
Show me the way with your light.
Reaching outward until you are gone.
Watching you fade from sight.
The one who brightens the night.
* * * *
These poems were inspired by my love for nature, God, veterans, family and friendships, it is a heartwarming read written with love and respect for others.
Leave a comment today and you can win a print copy of this unique and page turning collection!
Poems About Life, Love and Everything in Between is available at http://outskirtspress.com/bookstore/1478734760.html.
AND will soon be available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble and other book distributors
You can also click on the Poems By JoAnne Myers button below.
Here's a bit on JoAnne! This woman is talented---Poet, Artist, and Novelist!
I have been a long-time resident of southeastern Ohio, and worked in the blue-collar industry most of my life. Besides having several novels under my belt, I canvas paint.
When not busy with hobbies or working outside the home, I spend time with relatives, my dog Jasmine, and volunteer my time within the community. I am a member of the International Women’s Writing Guild, Savvy Authors, Coffee Time Romance, Paranormal Romance Guild, True Romance Studios, National Writers Association, the Hocking Hill's Arts and Craftsmen Association, The Hocking County Historical Society and Museum, and the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center. I believe in family values and following your dreams. My original canvas paintings, can be found at: booksandpaintingsbyjoanne.com
Other books by JoAnne:
"WICKED INTENTIONS" a paranormal/mystery anthology
"LOVES', MYTHS' AND MONSTERS'," a fantasy anthology
“MURDER MOST FOUL” a detective/mystery
"TWISTED LOVE," a true-crime anthology available July
"THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY" a biography true crime from 1982
Another book soon available:
“FLAGITIOUS,” a detective/mystery anthology available August
Want to find out more about JoAnne's books, poems, and paintings?
Contact: Email: email@example.com
Anne B. Cole
Anne B. Cole is my pen name. In real life, I'm Becky Blystone, a preschool teacher, wife, and mother of three fast growing teenagers. In my spare time I like to run, garden, take pictures, and read books!
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