Posts Tagged ‘Twilight Times Books’

The Life of a Writer

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

A Guest Post 


 Christine Amsden

StolenDreams_BannerSmall (1)

  I’m delighted to welcome Christine Amsden to my blog. She’s the talented author of the Cassie Scott series, a set of four fantasy novels that—as you may have noticed—I have often and gladly recommended on this blog. I’m thrilled to be a stop in her virtual book tour, as she celebrates the release of the fourth and final book of the series, Stolen Dreams. Today, she speaks to us from the heart. If you’ve ever wanted to be a writer, listen careful to what she has to say.




So …. you want to be a writer? Are you a dreamer? A story teller? Do you simply love the way words feel when they come together to create a picture? Climb on the crazy train then, and get ready for a long, bumpy ride.

Besides being a writer, I’m also a writing coach. I’m exceptionally good at it for one reason that has come as a surprise to me: I’m honest. Now, I always knew I was honest; what I didn’t realize was how rare this quality is, even in a coach. I tell the truth as I see it because only by reflecting both beauty and flaws can I inspire growth in a writer.

With that in mind, let me tell you the hard, cold truth about being a writer. It doesn’t pay. The handful of bestsellers out there cluttering up the pop culture notion of what a writer is represent less than one tenth of one percent of traditionally published authors (I’m not even talking self pub here). If anyone has said, “Don’t quit your day job,” they weren’t trying to be mean. They were trying to be honest.

I didn’t listen. :)

I quit my day job ten years ago when I got married, urged by my husband (who made enough for the both of us to live comfortably) to follow my dreams. I took the risk; one of the biggest of my life, and I have no regrets. Children came two years after marriage, filling my days with a combination of domestic and writerly activities that I found perfectly compatible. In a way, diluting my days with a wider variety of activities helped inspire me and make me more productive. I have written six complete novels in the eight-and-a-half years since my son was born (this doesn’t include a couple of dead-end projects that were, nevertheless, learning experiences).

Creative work isn’t like other types of work. It isn’t linear. It isn’t easy to quantify. Forty hours of creative work may be enough to write an entire novel draft (under extremely bizarre I-officially-hate-you circumstances), or it may only be enough to learn one important lesson before going back to the drawing board. An inspired writer can take a few stolen hours and create magic. An uninspired writer … well, that’s the problem with the ideal of the “full time writer,” aside from the paycheck thing. Sooner or later you run out of things to write *about*.

That’s why I started coaching. It’s also why I’m currently looking for creative new opportunities for part-time work. I’ve got a gig as a judge in a cooking competition coming up soon. Should be fun!

I know a lot of writers. Their stories are all different, their day jobs all unique, but one common theme rings true: We all long for the day when we can write full time, when our income from writing will support us in a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. I think knowing this story so well is one of the reasons why I’m a fan of TV talent shows like The Voice, America’s Got Talent, and (most recently) Rising Star. The acts all come on and say the same thing – that they dream of getting paid to perform. To do what they love.

You don’t want me to sing, but putting that aside, I understand. I really, really do.

And yet I understand one other thing, or at least, I am working towards understanding. (Self-actualization is more a journey than a destination.) I understand that I am a writer. Fame and fortune are not necessary for us to do what we love. We can do it just because we want to. Because, for whatever reason, these activities fulfill us.

One of the most common interview questions I get on tour is, “What advice would you give to aspiring writers?” I answer, “Only write if you love it.” The full answer is that if you’re writing for fame, or fortune, or for any external force, it’s not worth it. Writers write because the written word is our currency. It is an end in and of itself.

Between one thing and another, I lost track of that fact in the last year or two. I’ve taken the summer off from writing. I’m spending more time with my kids while they’re still young (6 and 8), working on promoting my Cassie Scot series, and still doing a little coaching. Writing will call to me again, sooner or later. It always does. I’ve already started to feel the pull of a project that would take me in a completely different direction from anything I’ve done before. It may pan out. It may not. Luckily, as an independent author I can write whatever I like. No one owns my time or my creativity.

If you want to be a writer, then write. It never even has to be something someone else sees. (Kind of like me singing in the shower where no one else can hear. :) ) If and when it grows to the point where you would like to share it, come seek us authors out on the Internet and join our circles of madness. But if you can, even then, try to keep it in perspective. There is always the dream; we are dreamers by nature, but don’t let the dream keep you from living your life now.


Stolen Dreams , Book 4 of The Cassie Scot Series


Edward Scot and Victor Blackwood have despised one another for nearly a quarter of a century, but now their simmering hatred is about to erupt.

When Cassie Scot returns home from her sojourn in Pennsylvania, she finds that her family has taken a hostage. Desperate to end the fighting before someone dies, Cassie seeks help from local seer Abigail Hastings, Evan Blackwood’s grandmother. But Abigail has seen her own death, and when it comes at the hand of Cassie’s father, Victor Blackwood kills Edward Scot.

But things may not be precisely as they appear.

Evan persuades Cassie to help him learn the truth, teaming them up once again in their darkest hour. New revelations about Evan and his family make it difficult for Cassie to cling to a shield of anger, but can Evan and Cassie stop a feud that has taken on a life of its own?

Don’t miss the amazing conclusion to the Cassie Scot series!


About The Cassie Scot Series:

Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.

Cassie Scott 1

Secret and Lies

Mind Games

About Christine Amsden

Christine Amsdem 200 by 300

Christine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that affects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.

In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work.

Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children.

Contact Christine at: or:














The Curse Giver by Dora Machado Wins the 2013 Silver IndieFab Book of the Year Award

Monday, June 30th, 2014

CurseGiver_Front Cover Final

Hello everybody!

I’m delighted to share the good news below with all of you.

Thanks for sharing this moment with me.

Best regards,



June 30, 2014—The Foreword Reviews’ IndieFab Book of the Year Awards, judged by a highly selective group of librarians and booksellers from around the country, were announced on June 27th, 2014 at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Las Vegas. The Curse Giver, written by Dora Machado and published by Twilight Times Books, won silver in the fantasy category. Ms. Machado, who lives Florida, is the author of the award-winning Stonewiser series. Her latest novel, The Curse Giver, is also a Finalist in the Fantasy category of the 2013 USA Best Book Awards.

Midwest Book Review praised The Curse Giver as follows:

“Lovers of dark romantic fantasy will relish The Curse Giver. This was a wonderfully entertaining, absorbing read. The stakes are high, the conflict compelling, and the sympathetic hero and heroine will make you fall in love with them. Lyric at times, Machado’s prose flows beautifully throughout the pages, bringing to life her fictional world in full, vivid detail.”

Ms. Machado adds the distinguished 2013 IndieFab Book of the Year Award to her growing list of credits, which also include the 2012 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Silver Medal for SF/F, the 2010 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Gold Medal for SF/F and the 2009 Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Debut Novel.

Foreword’s IndieFab Book of the Year Awards program was created to discover distinctive books from the indie publishing community across a number of genres. What sets the awards apart is that final selections are made by real judges—working librarians and booksellers—based on their experience with patrons and customers. Representing hundreds of independent and university presses of all sizes, IndieFab winners were selected after months of editorial deliberation over more than 1,500 entries in 60 categories.

The editors and staff at Foreword Reviews love indie books and the art of great storytelling. They discover, curate, critique, and share reviews and feature articles exclusively on indie-publishing trends. Foreword Reviews’ quarterly print magazine is distributed across the United States to librarians, booksellers, publishers, and avid readers, and is available at most Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, indie bookstores, and by subscription. Foreword’s website features a daily stream of reviews of indie books written by a team of professional, objective writers.

For a full list of the winners searchable by category, publisher, title, and author, visit Foreword Reviews online.


Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. When she is not writing fiction, Dora also writes features for Murder By Four, an award winning blog for readers and writers and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers. She lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.

Author Contact Information:






Publisher Contact Information:

Lida E. Quillen, Publisher

Email: – or –


ForeWord Contact Information:

Contact: Jennifer Szunko, Director of Marketing/Circulation

Foreword Reviews 231-933-3699

The Story Behind The Curse Giver

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Dear Readers.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions from you regarding how I came up with the original concept for The Curse Giver. In an effort to answer these questions, I’d like to share this essay that I wrote for The Curse Giver‘s release.




So, you’ve been wondering: How on earth did I come up with the concept for The Curse Giver?

The Curse Giver was an accident, a professional indiscretion, if you will, conceived during one of my little escapades, and born out of unchecked passion. Yep, I might as well come clean. Even the most disciplined writer can be unfaithful to her projects, and no matter how thoroughly taken one is with one’s current novel, the danger for a tangent is always there when venturing into the world of research.

So there I was, researching one book, working hard to finalize the Stonewiser series, when I came across this insidious little idea that kept disrupting my train of thought.

Now, to understand the story behind The Curse Giver, you must understand me and my writing habits. I’m not easily distracted. When I’m writing a novel, my brain goes into hyper mode. I’m disciplined, motivated and focused to the point of obsession, which is why The Curse Giver was such a surprise to me.

The subject of curses has always fascinated me, not only because curses are such a vital part of magic and fantasy, but also because they are so prevalent to the human experience. To be honest, I had always been intrigued by the subject, but didn’t delve into it, until one very late night—or was it very early morning?—when the wind rattled my window as a coastal storm blew in from the sea.

The clay tablets that popped up on my screen dated from 600 BC and were part of the library of Nineveh, also known as the library of Ashurbanipal, the oldest surviving library of cuneiform tablets. This is the same collection that gave us the famous Gilgamesh epic. Visually, the tablets weren’t much to look at, chicken scratches on clay. But the translated words had an impact on me.

May all these [gods] curse him with a curse that cannot be relieved, terrible and merciless, as long as he lives, may they let his name, his seed, be carried off from the land, may they put his flesh in a dog’s mouth.”

I know, hardly an inspiration for most. Me? I immediately thought of the man who had been thus cursed, of the pain and hardship such curse would bring upon him and his people, of the character that eventually became Bren, Lord of Laonia in The Curse Giver.

From there on, the curses flowed before my eyes, mysterious ones from ancient civilizations in Egypt, India and the Far East; thin lead tablets dating from the Greco-Roman world, judicial prayers, secret invocations, warnings and love spells that streamed into my consciousness. I knew I should get back to my original research, and yet I was smitten with the subject.

There were curses quoted from the Bible, medieval curses, real and forgeries, Viking, Celtic, Germanic, Visigoth, Mayan, Incan, Hopi, you name it. There were ancient curses but also modern curses, some associated with Santeria, voodoo and the 21 Divisions, religions that are common in the Dominican Republic where I grew up.

Who would cast these curses and why? What kind of creature could be capable of such powers? What would motivate a person to curse another one? As I explored these questions, a character profile began to emerge in my mind, someone whose understanding of good and evil was very different from my own.

Sorting through the research, I could see that some curses had practical applications to make sure people did what they were told. They served as alternate forms of law enforcement in lawless societies. Some were obviously malicious. They were meant to frighten and intimidate. Some were more like venting or wishful thinking. It turns out that mankind has been casting curses since the beginning of time and will probably continue for as long as we have the imagination and faith to do so.

A new question formed in my mind. Once cursed, what could a person do to defend himself? A third character emerged from this question, Lusielle, a common remedy mixer, a healer of hearts and bodies, someone who didn’t realize the scope of her own power until it began to transform her life.

Eventually, I wrestled myself out of the trance. I had a book to write and a series to complete. I had deadlines. But my little detour had made an impact. The concepts were at work in my subconscious, coalescing into a new novel, fashioning these powerful characters who demanded their own story. My encounter with curses had been but a slight detour from my research plan, a tiny deviation, an indiscretion to my schedule, but the seed had been planted and The Curse Giver thrived, even if I didn’t know it yet.

The Curse Giver from Amazon

Introducing Elfie

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

It’s my pleasure to introduce Barb Caffrey, my editor at Twilight Times Books, who has just published her first novel, a comic urban fantasy romance entitled An Elfie on the Loose. We’re doing a “book blast” to encourage folks who might like to buy the book to download it today to help the ratings soar! Here’s what one reviewer is saying about it:

“Barb Caffrey’s
An Elfy on the Loose is a fresh and unexpected take on the urban fantasy genre with a charming and original protagonist. You’ll want to read this one.” – Rosemary Edghill, author of Dead Reckoning, Music To My Sorrow and the Bast Mysteries.

So without further ado, here’s a little bit about this enchanting story.




One Elfy for an entire planet?

He’s supposed to be the Watcher for his people, the representative on Earth from his dimension, but the small being known to his enemies as “Jonny-Wonny” wakes up to big trouble — trapped in a bizarre house in Knightsville, California with humans straight out of reality TV. Jon knows that something has gone dreadfully wrong — he’s starving, lonely and dressed in funny clothes.

Enter the couple’s ten-year-old diminutive daughter, who is “Not Daisy!” but is brilliant, sweet…and using high level magic with ease. She’s also desperately in need of a friend.

Insisting her name is really Sarah, and christening him Bruno, his new friend asks him how they’re going to get out of there.

The only thing that comes to mind is for Bruno to ask his teacher, Roberto the Wise, for help. But Roberto’s attempt at help only enmeshes all three of them further in a web of deceit and treachery. Bruno finds out that, unfortunately, most of what he thought he knew about himself was very wrong…and much of what Sarah knows about herself is also wrong, including her age.

Worst of all, a Dark Elf is on the scene and is intent on corrupting the local Humans, including Sarah’s parents.

New names, new locations, a new mission–Bruno is going to get to the bottom of all the craziness, and Sarah will be there for him every step of the way.

Watch out, universe–an Elfy is on the loose!


Barb Caffrey is a writer, editor, musician, and composer. She holds two degrees, is an inveterate and omnivorous reader, and is the writer of the comic urban fantasy romance AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (book one of the ELFY duology), available now from Twilight Times Books. She follows politics, loves sports, watches far too much reality TV and is mystified by the “Maury” show.  What all this says about her is anyone’s guess.

Off to Japan: My Writer’s Packing List

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014


Dora Machado

Japan Rail Passes

If everything goes as planned, by this time you read this, I’ll be on a plane to Japan. Even though I’ve been to Asia Minor before, this will be my first trip to Asia proper. I’m so excited!

For this trip, I’ve had to make zero planning effort. That’s because I’m teaming up with one of my all-time favorite traveling companions, travel blogger Mariana Marshall of, with whom I walked the last 100 kilometers of the Camino of Santiago de Compostela. She is also my daughter.

The advantages of tagging along with a travel blogger can’t be understated. My traveling companion carefully researched and selected the itinerary and made all of the traveling arrangements, transportation and lodging reservations. I just get to come along for the ride!

We’ll be spending some time in Tokyo and then traveling on to explore Kyoto and its environs. We’ve got a very long list, but I’m looking forward to staying at a traditional Japanese guest house (ryokan), exploring the natural hot springs (onsens), and riding Japan’s fabulous bullet trains.

Packing for Japan in the winter had me asking a lot of questions, but travel bloggers are Girl Scouts at heart, and mine found this awesome packing list from a fellow blogger:

My writer’s packing list must, of course, include my computer, tablet and cell phone. We don’t speak the language, so we’ve uploaded some interesting apps that might help if all else fails. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Technology is a wonderful convenience, but I’ve learned that, when traveling, it isn’t always reliable. So in addition, I’m bringing a good, small, old-fashioned notebook to jot down my thoughts and observations, a few good pens, and my camera, all indispensable tools that will work with or without an Internet connection, and that are suitable to all environments.

But the most important elements for a successful trip are stowed not in my suitcase, but rather in my mind. They include flexibility, openness and imagination. Flexibility is key when traveling, the ability to roll with the punches, accept, adapt and adjust to the changes intrinsic to the traveling experience. From airports to hotels, from technology to people, traveling exposes us to new situations that test our comfort levels and push our boundaries.

An open mind is also vital to the traveling experience. It allows us to see the world for what it is, not for what we think it should be. It also teaches us to value the differences that make each place unique and each culture extraordinary.

And finally, I bring along my number-one writing tool, my imagination, to take in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes that I’ve never experienced before, to relish the emotions of the journey, to collect the odd, the common and the spectacular, to understand and process the experience of being human. For a gal into world building, the traveling experience is a rich trove indeed.

So, wish me luck.

Sayonara, kids!

Japan bound

Colorado Is For Writers

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Hello Everybody,

I just got back from beautiful Colorado. Here’s a post I wrote about my writing experience in the Rocky Mountains.



Copper Mountain, top of Union Peak, December 26 2013

Colorado has to be one of my favorite places in the world. The views of the Rocky Mountains are breathtaking. The people are friendly, fit and youthful, no matter their age. Nature indulges, facilitating so many of the activities for which the State is known, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, biking, hiking, fly-fishing, rafting and . . .  writing?

Yes, writing.

It’s easy to find inspiration among these mountains. It’s easy to keep the mind focused when surrounded by such stunning vistas. I find myself energized by the folks who tackled the slopes with the same energy and enthusiasm I feel when I tackle a story. It goes against the principles of oxygen deprivation, but I find that the mind flows effortlessly at ten thousand feet, especially after a few hours of skiing or snowshoeing, and a little nap.


We’ve had some epic snow dumps so far this year and the snow has been delicious. Those of us who frequent Copper Mountain, Colorado, on a regular basis, couldn’t be happier. I heard a few people complaining about the cold weather this year, but I’m not one of them. When the going gets tough on the mountain, when the wind picks up and you can’t see the chair lift in front of you, I head indoors. The way I see it, it’s time for some serious writing.

I’ve produced some of my best writing in Colorado. These mountains have inspired thousands of words out of me. I’m always grateful for the opportunity to come out to Colorado and share in the state of mind that makes it such a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts and, yes, for writers too.

Copper Mountain, Dec 26 2013

New Print Releases From Twilight Times Books

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Hello Everybody,

This is a big week for print book releases from my publisher, Twilight Times Books.  So today, I’d like to introduce you to some of my talented fellow authors and their new print novels, which are also available in ebook format, including Kindle and Nook. I hope you’ll find these titles as intriguing as I did. Join me in giving these wonderful authors a read.



MYTHOS by Heather McLaren

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True love was the last thing David Cooley expected to find in the Bahamas, But the moment he laid eyes on Faren Sands, he knew he had found the girl of his dreams. How could he know she was a mermaid from the lost island of Atlantis?

Because of the strict laws regarding human contact, the couple flees the consequences of their forbidden passion, struggling to survive a conflict that has been brewing between the mermaids and sea demons for the last eleven thousand years.

Once the epic battle begins, fate forces David to make a decision that will forever affect his young life. Should he stick by the woman he loves, risking his mortality for a civilization that hates him?

About Heather McLaren:

Heather McLaren is a Cherokee writer living in southern Illinois with her husband and four children. Mythos, the first of five books in the Mer Chronicles, is her debut novel. She is currently working on the second book in the series, Beyond Legend, and plans on bringing fantasy into the lives of young adults for years to come.


More about Heather McLaren at:

More about Mythos at:

Barnes and Noble


All Romance eBooks

Twilight Times Books

DRAGON FIRE by Dina Von Lowenkraft


Some choices are hard to live with.

But some choices will kill you.

When seventeen-year-old Anna first meets Rakan in her hometown north of the Arctic Circle, she is attracted to the pulsing energy that surrounds him. Unaware that he is a shapeshifting dragon, Anna is drawn into a murderous cycle of revenge that pits Rakan and his clan against her best friend June.

Torn between his forbidden relationship with Anna, that could cost them both their lives, and restoring his family’s honor by killing June, Rakan must decide what is right. And what is worth living – or dying – for.

About Dina Von Lowekraft

Born in the US, Dina has lived on 4 continents, worked as a graphic artist for television and as a consultant in the fashion industry. Somewhere between New York and Paris she picked up an MBA and a black belt – and still thinks the two are connected. Dina is currently the Regional Advisor for SCBWI Belgium, where she lives with her husband, two children, three horses and a cat.

Dina loves to create intricate worlds filled with conflict and passion. She builds her own myths while exploring issues of belonging, racism and the search for truth… after all, how can you find true love if you don’t know who you are and what you believe in? Dina’s key to developing characters is to figure out what they would be willing to die for. And then pushing them to that limit.

Dina von Lowenkraft


FaceBook page

Twilight Times YA; NA Books on FB





KNIGHT OF FLAME, by Scott Eder


Fire. The most chaotic of the primal elements. When wielded properly by the Knight of Flame, it burns like the sun. Otherwise, it slowly consumes the Knight, burning away his control, driving him towards dark deeds.

Stationed in Tampa, FL, Develor Quinteele, sixth Knight of Flame, waits impatiently for the predicted emergence of the last Gray Lord, his Order’s ancient enemy. Hampered by a centuries-old tragedy, Dev knows of only one way to control his elemental power—rage. It broils just below his surface, waiting for the slightest provocation to set it alight.

Anticipating Dev’s transition from asset to liability, his commander assigns a young guardian, Wren, to report on Dev’s actions. Torn between duty and love, Wren struggles to save her Knight; but, after a brutal attack by the Gray Lord’s minions for which Dev is wrongly blamed, he’s stripped of his freedom until he regains control.

With the help of his fellow Knights, can Dev regain his balance and unlock his full elemental potential in time to prevent the destruction of all life in Tampa?

About Scott Eder:

Since he was a kid, Scott wanted to be an author. Through the years, fantastic tales of nobility and strife, honor and chaos dominated his thoughts. After twenty years mired in the corporate machine, he broke free to bring those stories to life.
Scott lives with his wife and two children on the west coast of Florida.

Check out Knight of Flame at:

Barnes and Noble



Contact Scott Eder at:


Twitter: @Scotteder




Also from Twilight Times Books:

Aaron Lazar’s Don’t Let the Wind Catch You is also now available in print and audio book!

BANNER windcatchyou


Christine Amsden’s Secret and Lies, the sequel to Cassie Scott Paranormal Detective, is now available.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Thanksgiving always makes me feel lucky. Even if I have a tendency to stress over the stuffing, the seating arrangements and the lumps in the gravy, I love this fantastic holiday. It encompasses all of my favorites: family, friends, food and fun.  Every year, before we sit at the table, our family gives thanks for the blessings in our lives. So I thought we should do the same here, from my writer’s point of view.

In the spirit of the holiday and beginning with the obvious, I’m grateful for:

My family and friends, who support me and my writing with love, patience, grace and enthusiasm. Without them, even writing loses its meaning.

The craft of writing–gift, blessing, curse and obsession.  I’m thankful for every word, sentence, paragraph and chapter; for every story, novel and series; for every idea, image and dream; for the pure joy of writing.

My writer friends, whose flames light my way and brighten my nights.

The editors who help me become a better writer and who care enough to point out the obvious as well as the obscure.

The publishers who invest in our work and the talented teams that bring our books to market, including the cover artists, book designers, proof readers, line editors, support staff and everybody who contributes to the creation of something as unique and special as a book. Thank you for being part of our stories.

Those who help us promote our work: agents, public relations specialists and especially all those fantastic bloggers and reviewers who showcase our books.

Finally, I’m especially thankful for my readers, for their encouragement, enthusiasm and praise. They are the reason why authors like me keep writing.

Have a wonderful holiday!


Thanksgiving turkey

The Curse Giver is an Award-Winning Finalist in the 2013 USA Best Book Awards

Thursday, November 21st, 2013


Great news!

I am delighted to announce that The Curse Giver is now an award-winning finalist in the fantasy category of the 2013 USA Best Book Awards, sponsored by USA Book News. Now in its 11th year, the USA Best Book Awards is one of the largest mainstream book award competitions in the United States.

I’d like to congratulate all of the winners and finalists of the USA Best Book Awards. I’d also like to thank the judges for their hard work sifting through such a talented field and for awarding this distinction to The Curse Giver.  Huge thanks to all the folks who worked on The Curse Giver and especially to Lida Quillen of Twilight Times Books, for putting together a terrific book.

You all know that writing is an indulgence to me, a selfish, satisfying pursuit. I don’t write to win contests and I’m always amazed when I do, but every once in a while it’s nice to get a pat on the back from folks who know what they’re doing.



Mainstream & Independent Titles Score Top Honors

in the 10th Annual USA Best Book Awards

St. Martin’s Press, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, John Wiley & Sons, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hay House, Llewellyn Worldwide, and hundreds of Independent Houses contribute to this year’s Outstanding Competition!

LOS ANGELES –, the premier online magazine featuring mainstream and independent publishing houses, announced the winners and finalists of THE 2013 USA BEST BOOKS AWARDS on November 14, 2013. Over 400 winners and finalists were announced in over 100 categories. Awards were presented for titles published in 2012 and 2013.

Jeffrey Keen, President and CEO of USA Book News, said this year’s contest yielded over 1500 entries from mainstream and independent publishers, which were then narrowed down to over 400 winners and finalists.

Keen says of the awards, now in their eleventh year, “The 2013 results represent a phenomenal mix of books from a wide array of publishers throughout the United States. With a full publicity and marketing campaign promoting the results of the USA Best Book Awards, this year’s winners and finalists will gain additional media coverage for the upcoming holiday retail season.”

Winners and finalists traversed the publishing landscape: St. Martin’s Press, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, John Wiley & Sons, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hay House, Llewellyn Worldwide, Thomas Dunne Books, Oxford University Press, American Cancer Society and hundreds of independent houses contributed to this year’s outstanding competition.

Keen adds, “Our success begins with the enthusiastic participation of authors and publishers and continues with our distinguished panel of industry judges who bring to the table their extensive editorial, PR, marketing, and design expertise.” is an online publication providing coverage for books from mainstream and independent publishers to the world online community.

The winners and finalist of the Fiction/Fantasy category include:

Collider by Chris Hejmanowski
Fisher Press

The Bane of Yoto by Joshua Viola with Nicholas Karpuk

The Curse Giver by Dora Machado
Twilight Times Books


The Silver Sphere by Michael Dadich
Evolved Publishing

A complete list of the winners and finalists of The 2013 USA Best Book Awards are available online at

CurseGiver_Front Cover Final

There’s No Place Like Home

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

The holidays are upon us and my guest blogger today is the talented author of The Coal Elf, Maria DeVivo.

The Coal Elf is about Ember Skye, a teenage Coal Elf with a big ashy chip on her shoulder. Having been torn away from a carefree life and forced into a world of dirt and darkness has started to get the best of her. And being the only girl-elf working as a coal miner at the North Pole doesn’t help much either. She wants to go home and yet she can’t.

When a mysterious illness threatens to decimate elves both Above and Underground, Ember is thrust into a journey that will see her confront the literal and figurative demons of her past and lead her to the head of the North Pole himself.  Yes! Santa is real. But this isn’t your childhood Christmas tale.

The Coal Elf is an original, dark and evocative tale with a different take on Christmas. Scroll to the bottom for a peek at this unique story and help us drive it up to the top of Amazon’s charts by buying The Coal Elf at a special holiday price of only $2.99!

And now find out why There’s No Place Like Home during the holidays.



There’s No Place Like Home


Maria DeVivo

Maria De Vivo

What’s the old saying?  “Home is where the heart is.”  It must be true because one of the prevalent themes in story-telling is the concept of Home – Having one, being a part of one, rejecting one, leaving one, desperately trying to find your way back to one.

Humans have an innate honing device that draws us to a nostalgic place of comfort and love. Some of the most influential stories of our time use HOME as a central theme.  After having experienced the wonder and glory of Oz, Dorothy said there was no place like it.  Her journey brought her to the realization that her black and white world of farm animals and twisters was really where she belonged.  Thrust onto an island while the war-torn world around them has no idea of their whereabouts, the children in The Lord of the Flies are in constant pursuit of returning home while in the process, create a home. And more recently, Katniss Everdeen initially strives to win The Hunger Games to go where?  Back Home.

In The Coal Elf, Ember Skye deals with this notion of Home from the moment she is called to her Life Job.  When she is sent to the Mines, her memories of her life Aboveground grip her so tightly that she is almost blinded by nostalgia.  The entire novel follows her path of dealing with those memories, confronting certain realities, and altering her own perceptions as to where she belongs, where she fits in, where she’s meant to be.

So what is HOME?  What defines it?  For me, it’s an unseen structure made up of memories.    Spring birds singing in the morning as I waited for the school bus.  Running outside on a cool summer night to flag down the ice cream truck.  Standing on tree stumps in my backyard as dead leaves fell from the autumn trees.  The smell of my father’s work boots in the hallway.  Cuddling with my sister on Christmas Eve.  Coming home from school and being so angry with my mother for cleaning up my room.  My uncle’s voice booming as he and my mother sang Kenny Rogers’s songs.  My concept of Home expands far beyond the actual dwelling itself, and now I’m making a Home for my daughter, hopefully helping to build those memories of love and comfort she will seek refuge in her future.


About Maria DeVivo

Maria DeVivo is a New York native who has had a lifelong love affair with “the pen.”  A graduate of St. John’s University, she has a passion for all things mystical and mythological.  She has taught 7th grade Language Arts since 2000, and in 2010, designed the curriculum for an academic elective course entitled Folklore, where she was able to share her passion and knowledge on concentrated topics such as folktales and mythology with her students.

Having grown up in a large Irish/Italian family (where Maria is the oldest child, and of course, the wisest) the mystery and wonder surrounding the holidays were a main staple of her upbringing.  At the age of seven, when her mother finally admitted “the truth” to her, she has become somewhat of a “Santa-phile”, an obsession that has rooted its way into every fiber of her being.  Maria is one of those people who cries when Santa makes His grand appearance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Coupled with an obsession for all things dark and demented, her debut novel, The Coal Elf, was born.

Maria now lives in Florida with her husband, Joe, and daughter, Morgan.  When not teaching or writing or running around after her daughter, she enjoys drinking iced coffee, watching horror movies, and playing video games.

Connect with DeVivo:




Ember Skye is a fed up teenage Coal Elf with a big ashy chip on her shoulder. Having been torn away from a carefree life and forced into a world of dirt and darkness has started to get the best of her. And being the only girl-elf working as a coal miner at the North Pole doesn’t help much either!

Then there’s Sturd: a power-hungry, twisted elf with a checkered past and a serious grudge against Ember. Slowly but surely, his maniacal tendencies are revealed, leaving Ember with the sacred “Naughty List” literally in her lap.

When a mysterious illness threatens to decimate elves both Above and Underground, Ember is thrust into a journey that will see her confront the literal and figurative demons of her past and lead her to the head of the North Pole himself.

Yes! Santa is real. But this isn’t your childhood Christmas tale!

coal elf pic for vid



“…A story with plenty of twists and turns, the reader is drawn into a world of dust and darkness with tension so strong it can be felt throughout. You will hold your breath at the challenges Ember must face and be pulled along as the plot thickens.” ~ Anne K. Edwards, author of The Last to Fall

“The teenage protagonist of Maria DeVivo’s debut novel, The Coal Elf, published by Twilight Times Books, November 2012, got screwed by “the Boss” of the North Pole. Imagine having your wonderful life and future destroyed when, instead of receiving the job assignment to make toys or bake cookies for a living, you were thrust into a gloomy, underground life of mining coal for the children on the naughty list. Ember Skye stole my heart from the first page as DeVivo describes her life as a Coal Elf and sets up the conflict and her epic battle with the antagonist, Sturd, a despicable, nasty elf who embodies evil.

Throw this conflict, these and a handful of other memorable characters into an incredibly creative North Pole setting, and you have a story that I could not put down. What I particularly enjoyed was DeVivo’s portrayal and extension of Christmas with her creation of a detailed fantasy world where we learn how the North Pole might actually work. This awesome setting is expertly woven into the story so that I was transported into this amazing world as I read.

Do yourself a favor and read The Coal Elf–I highly recommend it. This is one of those books that should be made into a movie (Tim Burton are you listening?). Great characters, engaging plot, believable dialog, wonderful setting and, above all, writing that compelled me to keep turning the pages (that’s what we all really want as readers, right?).” ~Daniel Springer, author of the award-winning The Wilco Project.

Don’t forget! The Coal Elf is now available at a special holiday price of only $2.99!