Transcendent Giveaway

*drumroll* *trumpet fanfare* *shouts from a cheering crowd*

Robot Playground Inc is happy to announce the Great and Marvelous Transcendent Giveaway

  • Post your name and email address
    format: name[at]wherever[dot]com
  • To be eligible, sing Jingle Bells backwards. Okay, we won't require that, but it sure would be fun to try. Don't you think? Just one little try? I dare you to make a you-tube video of it. Tell me about it, and I'll post the best rendition here on Rita's World
  • Deadline: midnight EST January 15, 2012
  • Drawing will be held the following week. Winners will be announced by January 22, 2012.
  • Each winner will receive one of the many prizes listed below.
  • For other chances to win prizes, visit the blog Goddess of the Corn or the Unlocking Books Discussion Group

No Purchase Necessary. But purchases of Transcendent: Tales of the Paranormal (eBook on Kindle & Nook is only 99c) and HONEST reviews and postings on Facebook & Twitter will be appreciated. Karma, luck, and blessings will follow you wherever you go...along with little blue birds who sing your praises. And furry woodland creatures will love you.

Purchase Information:
Paperback on Amazon: Purchase Now for $10.99!
Paperback on Barnes and Noble: Coming Soon for $10.99!
eBook on Kindle: Purchase today for 99c!
eBook on Nook: Purchase today for 99c!

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Book Club Discussion

Grand Prize Paranormal Survival Package:
  • the movie Beastly in DVD or Blu-Ray (winner's choice)
  • candy & popcorn (can't watch a movie without snacks)
  • paperback copy of Transcendent
  • eBook copy of Tears

OKAY, so that is the grand prize; now on to the rest of the prizes. And more prizes will be added before the giveaway is over.

Second Prize:  paperback Transcendent: Tales of the Paranormal

Third Prize:  paperback Tears by Rita J Webb

Fourth Prize:  paperback anthology Unlocked: Ten "Key" Tales edited by Wendy Swore and Rita J Webb

Fifth Prize: eBook Intrinsical by Lani Woodland

Sixth Prize: eBook When Kyle Comes Back by Melanie Marks

Seventh Prize: eBook Possession by Elana Johnson

Eighth Prize: eBook Sapphire Flute and eBook The Armor of Light by Karen E Hoover


Ninth Prize: eBook The Misadventures of a Teenage Wizard: Two Souls are Better Than One by Karen E Hoover

Tenth Prize: eBook Blank Slate by Heather Justesen

Eleventh Prize: eBook Bound by C. K. Bryant

Twelfth Prize: eBook Season of Sacrifice by Tristi Pinkston

Thirteenth Prize: paperback Watched by Cindy M Hogan

Fourteenth Prize: eBook Watched by Cindy M Hogan

Fifteenth Prize: eBook Wings of Light by Laura Bingham

Sixteenth Prize: paperback The Peasant Queen by Cheri Chesley

Seventeenth Prize: eBook The Wild Queen by Cheri Chesley

Eighteenth Prize: eBook Exiled by Rachelle Workman

Nineteenth Prize: eBook Become by Ali Cross

Twentieth Prize: ANOTHER eBook copy of Become by Ali Cross

Twenty-first Prize: eBook copy of Totally Cliché by Kasey Tross, Debra Erfert, Cathy Witbeck, & More

Twenty-second Prize: eBook copy of Four Houses by Tori Scott

Twenty-third Prize: eBook copy of Darkspell by Elizabeth Mueller

Twenty-fourth Prize: eBook copy of Vampire Rules by K.C. Blake

Purchase Information:
Paperback on Amazon: Purchase Now for $10.99!
Kindle: Purchase today for $2.99!
Nook: Purchase today for $2.99!

Transcendent: Tales of the Paranormal

Discover the secrets of a siren, fly with a hawk girl over the mountains of Montana, and flee supernatural party-crashers as the décor comes to life in this magical journey through paranormal stories.

Along the way, watch for ghosts in a haunted house, or ride through the moonlight with a stranger. Save a comatose boy who has lost his soul, and don’t forget to bring your garlic and wolfsbane—you never know when the shadows will snag you.

Transcendent includes eight stories of magic, love, death, and choice by some of the newest names in young adult fiction.

Purchase Information:
Paperback on Amazon: Coming Soon for $10.99!
Paperback on Barnes and Noble: Coming Soon!
eBook on Kindle: Purchase today for $0.99!
eBook on Nook: Coming Soon!

Contact Information:
Book Club Discussion

Meet the writers:


Reading Magic on the Storm by Devon Monk this weekend, I came across this passage about an elevator ride:

He opened his mouth, thought better of it, and instead stood there and whistled.

Whistled. Using up all the air in the tiny, tiny room, filling it up with sound so that there wasn't even room for me to hear my own thoughts. There wasn't enough room for me to breathe. I closed my eyes and tried to picture open fields, blue skies, oceans, deserts. Big horizons, big space, big air.

Character flaws and phobias add color to a story. That elevator ride would have been boring otherwise. Drab walls, whirring noises, an annoying friend whistling.

I have a flaw too. I'm terrified of heights, and I have no idea why I feel this way. In high school, I couldn't get any higher than the second bleacher. Rock climbing with my fiance (now husband) at a rock wall studio, I could only climb two-thirds up the wall before I froze. Clinging desperately to the wall, I couldn't repel down until I had slowly crept down to the halfway point.

Working in a downtown 100 story building in Cincinnati, I had to take the elevator to the 70th floor. But I couldn't go past the 65th in the elevator. Even without seeing out the windows, I felt too high. I'd get off on the 65th and walk the rest of the way. Crazy, huh?

Hiking with my husband in Red River Gorge in Kentucky, I loved the mountaintops.

But I couldn't get within 6 feet of the edge. Even being that close, I had to sit down. If no one was watching, I'd have been lying on my belly.

Look over the edge? No way.

Worst was some indoor hocky stadium. No problems climbing up the steep stairs. No problems sitting at the top of the concrete tiers. But when I had to walk down, the world tilted at odd angles. I almost scooted down on my butt.

Except then I would have been trampled by the exiting throngs.

What about you? What are your fears? What are your characters' fears?

Transcendent: Tales of the Paranormal

Transcendent: Tales of the ParanormalTranscendent: Tales of the Paranormal by Lani Woodland

This is a great collection of short stories by many great YA writers, including Lani Woodland, Melanie Marks, Wendy Swore, and...well, me! I am so excited about the pending release of this project. Stay tuned, and I'll give a release date in the next week or two.

One of my stories is co-authored with Wendy Swore. It was a lot of fun writing with her. She has a great style that meshes well with my own. So be sure to read about the boy struck by lightning in the story Strike.

The other story I have in this collection is called Feather. Here's one of my favorite passages from my story:

A rustle of wings and a hawk feather drifts down to me. Snatching it from the air, I look up into the trees, but nothing’s there. So I tuck the feather into my hair.

“What are you doing?”

My stomach leaps into my throat, and I jump up, stumbling backward, and fall on my butt in the middle of the path. In the tree above me, a teenage boy perches on a branch. He’s dressed in traditional deerskin breeches, a talon necklace around his neck, but rather than moccasins, his feet are bare. He is shirtless, and lean muscles cord his body.
His intense eyes capture my attention. They’re like golden fathomless pools. I could get lost in them.

“Don’t your feet get hurt, walking barefoot on the forest floor?” I ask.

“I rarely walk.” He drops down in front of me. His face is so close that I take a step back and thump into a tree. He leans toward me and sniffs. “You smell different. What are you?”

“I’m a girl.” I can’t take my gaze from his.

“No, humans stink. You smell…” He sniffs my hair and grins. “You smell good.”

“Is there a reason that you’re invading my space? I have somewhere to be.” My voice cracks.

He tugs one of my braids and winks at me. My pulse quickens, and my breath catches in my throat. His eyes study me with intensity, and he leans closer. Is he going to kiss me?

“I don’t know what’s up with you, but I don’t like it.”

“You have a feather in your hair. A hawk’s feather.”

My hand flies to the feather tucked into my hair. “So?”

“Nothing.” He shrugs, but a secretive smile spreads across his face.

View all my reviews

Short Story Giveaway: Four Houses by Tori Scott

YA author Tori Scott offers one free copy of her short story Four Houses.

Short Story Description:
A young girl faced with four choices, must make a decision that will forever haunt her.

The door in front of me is the ugliest shade of plum I’ve ever seen. It’s a prune Grandma would eat, a raisin on its last leg, a swollen bruise in the most inconvenient of places.

The waiting is the worst part, wondering who will open the door. But this time it’s killing me, tearing me down piece by piece and devouring me with its insatiable jaws.

I bite my lip and raise my hand to knock.

Giveaway Details:
Sign up for the drawing of a free copy of this eBook:
  • Leave a comment with your email address
  • Deadline: 11/11/11
  • Cross your fingers and do the hula dance

Or you can purchase it for yourself:
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Stephanie Dray chats about "Song of the Nile"

What a joy to read Song of the Nile. I was glued to the couch all weekend, lost to the world, exploring the rich textures of Ancient Rome and barbarous Africa, learning how to survive as a princess of Egypt and a war prisoner of Rome. This will be one of those special books that I share with my husband. I can't wait to discuss the finer points of Cleopatra Selene with him.

Stephanie Dray offered me an interview, and I jumped at the chance to learn more about this author and her writing. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I have.

To honor our guest, I'm hosting a giveaway of her book Song of the Nile. Giveaway details:

  • Leave a comment with your name and email address
  • Deadline:  November 11, 2011
  • U.S. Residents Only
  • To get your name in the drawing multiple times, post this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter. Leave a comment giving me the link to where you posted it.


Rita: What made you decide to become a writer?
Stephanie: It was some foolish notion that I had that it would be easier than being a lawyer. Boy was I wrong!

Rita: Where did you learn your love for history?
Stephanie: History is a rich story land filled with things that actually happened. Things that affect us still today. I love to unravel how we got where we are based on what went before us. I wish we’d read more historical fiction when we were in school, though, because textbooks really didn’t do it justice.

Rita: Why did you choose this particular figure and time period? Why not choose the more well known character Cleopatra rather than her daughter?
Stephanie: Cleopatra has had so many books written about her--and by far better writers. To me, it was Cleopatra Selene and her little known story that called out to be told. Selene was without a voice for most of her life and it was an honor for me to try to give her one.

Rita: How do you plan/plot your stories? Is it hard keeping track of the historical facts as you write?
Stephanie: I use a program called Scrivener and I keep a very detailed timeline. It is very important to keep track of it all and sometimes little things go awry. I recently discovered that I gave an incorrect name to a character in the book--it just slipped through the cracks. What should have been Cleopatra Antoniana was rendered Cleopatra Antonianus. I had to add it to the blooper file on my site.

Rita: How did you find your publisher? Was the road to becoming a published author easy or hard for you?
Stephanie: Berkley has been very good to me and I’m so happy that Cindy Hwang is always as excited about the dark and twisted things I do in my books as I am. The road was very hard for me. I spent ten years honing my craft, researching, writing, and learning to commit to being published. If I’d been smarter about it early on, I’d be farther along in my career than I am.

Rita: What advice would you give to would-be writers?
Stephanie: Don’t decide you want to become a writer unless you can bear spending most of your time doing stuff that has nothing to do with writing. Like social networking. Like marketing. Like talking up your work. It’s hard to get noticed, but I admit, it’s very uncomfortable talking about your own work all the time. It feels like, me me me me.

Rita: Is your story of Cleopatra Selene complete? Where will your writing go from here?
Stephanie: I have one last book to write. It will tell the story of how Selene built her kingdom and how Cleopatra’s grandchildren fared. I think it’s going to be very special, this book, and kind of makes me weepy to say goodbye to her after so long.


About Stephanie…
Stephanie graduated with a degree in Government from Smith, a small women’s college in Massachusetts where–to the consternation of her devoted professors–she was unable to master Latin. However, her focus on Middle Eastern Studies gave her a deeper understanding of the consequences of Egypt’s ancient clash with Rome, both in terms of the still-extant tensions between East and West as well as the worldwide decline of female-oriented religion.

Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the transformative power of magic realism to illuminate the stories of women in history and inspire the young women of today. She remains fascinated by all things Roman or Egyptian and has–to the consternation of her devoted husband–collected a house full of cats and ancient artifacts.

*Sorceress. Seductress. Schemer. Cleopatra’s daughter has become the emperor’s most unlikely apprentice and the one woman who can destroy his empire…*

Having survived her perilous childhood as a royal captive of Rome, Selene pledged her loyalty to Augustus and swore she would become his very own Cleopatra. Now the young queen faces an uncertain destiny in a foreign land.

Forced to marry a man of the emperor’s choosing, Selene will not allow her new husband to rule in her name. She quickly establishes herself as a capable leader in her own right and as a religious icon. Beginning the hard work of building a new nation, she wins the love of her new subjects and makes herself vital to Rome by bringing forth bountiful harvests.

But it’s the magic of Isis flowing through her veins that makes her indispensable to the emperor. Against a backdrop of imperial politics and religious persecution, Cleopatra’s daughter beguiles her way to the very precipice of power. She has never forgotten her birthright, but will the price of her mother’s throne be more than she’s willing to pay?

*Berkley Trade *October 2011* *(Trade Paperback)
# ISBN-10: 0425243044
# ISBN-13: 9780425243046

Song of the Nile by Stephanie Dray

Song of the Nile by Stephanie Dray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dark and beautiful. From the moment this story began, I was gripped by Selene's pain and ambition, terrified the cost of earning the title of Queen of Egypt would be her soul.

Cleopatra has grown up at the age of 15. Married to Juba, an African king, she must prove her worth to the emperor--securing grain, building a new port and city, civilizing a "barbarous" people, promoting the emperor's agendas... But what the emperor wants most is a Cleopatra like Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony had before him.

The stakes are higher as she vies to win the emperor's approval in order to earn the title of Queen of Egypt. Nothing will stand in her way.

What I loved most...
I loved Selene. She's flawed in her obsession with her ambition to fulfill her roll as queen to her people, and yet she's passionate and caring and daring and lovable. I rooted for her and was scared for her and silently begged her not to follow her foolish plans to sell her body to the devil--er, I mean, emperor.

What I admired in Stephanie Dray's writing...
The disaster of a marriage between Juba and Selene was powerfully written. His pain as he watched his bride run away from him and into impending disaster was the thing that gripped me the most. On their wedding night, he asks if they could be friends. She says yes, she could forgive him his role in the demise of her parents and of Egypt. He says can we be more than friends. And when she rejects him, his pain drips from every word, and my heart bled for him.

My recommendation...
Read this powerful book. Personally, I can't wait to read more by Stephanie Dray.

*Purchase Info*

Constellation Books

Come back Friday for an interview and giveaway!

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

SHADOWS SWALLOW ME. I AM THE PERFECT ASSASSIN. LELEA: fourteen-year-old freak of nature.

Tears. One free copy to good home. Register to win by posting your email address, and I will contact the winner to arrange shipment.

No membership required. Shipping to U.S. only.

Deadline: October 31st

For other great giveaways, check out these blogs:

Winner of the Writer's Companion

The winner is ...


The Anonymous OfficeInmate!

I will contact you with the email address you posted and request your mailing address.

Thank you to all who participated.

Writer's Companion Giveaway

600 pages of writing information!

One copy, free to a good home!

How to win:
1. To be considered for the drawing, just post your name and email address.
2. To get your name in the pool twice, post information about the Writer's Companion on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog, and leave a link in the comments. More than 25 Tweeters/Bloggers/Facebookers and I'll give away two copies!

Deadline: October 21, 2011

For more information, read reviews on goodreads or an excerpt on my blog.

Good luck!

Writer's Companion excerpt

The Writer's Companion, helpful for both beginning and experienced writers, covers the writing process from plotting and planning through writing and editing to querying and finding a publisher. I've studied many great books on writing but nothing as comprehensive as this guide.

You will reference these 600 pages of material again and again, manuscript after manuscript, long after you've made millions and topped the best seller lists. I highly recommend this book for every writer and writing hobbyist.

Renée Miller, one of the authors, shares a modified excerpt. Together, Renée and Carlos share some interesting thoughts about the future of publishing.


Thanks for having me, Rita. I always love visiting your blog.

I considered posting an excerpt from the Writer’s Companion that discussed how to do this or that but decided that’s rather uninteresting and not very interactive. Then I recalled the Oracle. As an afterword and closing brooch for the Companion, we wanted to be reckless and play the game of prophesy.

Prophets engage in a risky business, in particular if they survive their prophecies. Most prophets we know of would have had to eat their words if they were still around, though it strikes us as crafty that most weighty prophecies entailed such a long time lapse that the prophet was safe from having to face the hordes of his peeved followers. Others—doomsday prophets in particular—weren’t so lucky and had to swallow a bitter pill (and often run for dear life) when the event didn’t pan out.

In writing the Companion, we researched the publishing industry’s history as well as recent changes. To say the foundations of what used to be are shaky would be an understatement. The question is, how will this pan out for writers? What will the new publishing model be when the dust settles? What’s the future of the publishing industry?

In our opinion, there’s a difference between a forecast that contravenes physics and scientific observation and a prediction founded on logic. Most of the conjectures in Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984 stem from logic. Naturally, with so many variables and unknowns, a logical prophecy doesn’t have more weight than an educated guess.

Our oracle, firmly grounded on state-of-the art resources (crystal ball, tealeaves, Ouija, I-ching and a deck of funny-looking cards), predicts that within the next ten years:

1. E-publishing will overtake traditional publishing.

2. E-publishing with reputable publishers will be as hard to access for new writers as

traditional publishing is at present times.

3. E-publishers will only accept submissions through literary agents.

4. E-books will be rated by an agency, as to their literary and editorial merits.

5. POD will shrink down to a tenth of its present size.

6. Two-thirds of traditional book retailers will have disappeared.

7. The number of readers will remain unchanged.

8. A large percentage of successful writers will issue from the East.

9. Most of the Internet free services to writers will be subscription only.

10. Traditional writers will be on the road to extinction.

We suppose that our readers might agree with some of these predictions and disagree with the rest, perhaps all. In our defense, we attempt to justify the logic behind each forecast in the Writer’s Companion. What do you think? Are we way off base? Share your predictions for the industry over the next decade. We should come back here in 2021 (as long as the doomsday prophets are wrong yet again) and see how close we all came.

I’ll be sharing the basis behind each prediction over on The Edge starting on Sunday. Come on over and share your thoughts. Yes, even if they’re negative ones.

And thank you, Rita, for allowing me to post my insanity.


Thank you, Renee!

Later next week, I will post a giveaway for a copy of the Writer's Companion.  So be sure to come back for more goodies.

Sex in YA Books

When you hit thirteen, you become an adult-in-training. Puberty is the waking of sexuality. We cripple our teenagers if we try to sweep adult issues under the rug. We do them no favors by controlling their thoughts or banning books that contains sexuality.

I can’t even remember how many books I read on the sly when I was a teenager, including Lord of the Rings, Lord of the Flies, and The Eye of the Dragon. None of them were racy or evil, but they were banned from the house all the same. So I kept them in my school locker and read them during study hall.

Rather than banning books, the smarter thing to do is to read the book as well and to keep an open dialog with your kids about issues that the book raises. When it comes to sexuality, there are many topics to discuss: making responsible decisions, knowing what true love is, dealing with making the wrong decision, facing consequences, surviving rape, feeling pressured... What better way is there to learn than to face the problems through the eyes of characters in a book and learn from their mistakes?

YA writers have a responsibility to address these issues. Using flawed characters and difficult situations, writers can help YA readers learn from the characters whose worlds they travel through.

In Going Bovine by Libba Bray, Cameron has sex with a girl from his high school, and when it is over, he feels hollow inside because he never loved her. A great opportunity to learn that sex without love is not satisfying.

In Beauty Queens, also by Libba Bray, one of the girls loses her virginity but discovers afterward that she was used. From the experience, she learns that she has value. How many girls out there make this same mistake? Reading this book and talking about it with an adult would be one of the best ways to avoid making this mistake or to learn how to recover from such an experience.

In White Cat (Curse Workers) and in Red Glove (Curse Workers, Book 2) by Holly Black, Cassel must turn down the girl he has loved since they were best friends as kids. Why? Because her emotions were magically altered to make her love him, and he loves her too much to use her. To protect her from himself, he goes so far as to tell her he doesn’t love her, even when it breaks her heart—and his. Heart wrenching and beautiful.

In Speak by Laura Halse Anderson, a freshman in high school crawls into a shell, refusing to speak, finding every opportunity to hide in the janitor’s closet, failing when she used to be a straight A student, skipping classes, wearing baggy clothes, fighting nightmares. Why? Because she made the mistake of drinking at a party that summer and got raped. Nobody knows. Not the parents or teachers who think that she has a discipline problem. Not the classmates or ex-friends who shun her. Not the art teacher who encourages her. The story carries you through her road to healing. A must read for mothers to share with teenage daughters.

It was hard to make the decisions I did about the content in my book Tears. One beta-reader told me that the detail was too graphic for a YA book. There actually is no on-scene sex in my book. Not even a foreplay scene that fades to black. There are a few kissing scenes that don’t lead anywhere. But the only way readers know that Jaak and Chester have sex is because Chester gets pregnant.

What my beta-reader referred to was Aren’s admiration of Lelea and his vivid imagination about what he would like to do with her:

He would choose a warrior woman to be his mate—like Lelea. Now there was a woman, strong and shapely. She could stalk her prey, wield a knife, shoot even better than he could—she had kicked his ass—and he liked how her nipples perked up under her skintight suit.
Tears by Rita J Webb, page 181

Aren stood behind the two girls in the doorway to the cargo bay. From his angle, he could see nothing but a gray wall and a corner of the metal door on the ceiling—and two perfect butts in tight jumpsuits. He liked Lelea’s better. Maybe because she was shorter; the right height for him to grab it.
Tears by Rita J Webb, page 199

A gun belted to her waist, Lelea strapped a rifle over her shoulder and a knife to her leg. Aren liked how she carried herself. The soft, weak girl he had first met was gone. Was this the real Lelea? A soldier like Jadon?

But then he had fought her in the cave back on Lantis. It had to have been her.

She wore a bodysuit, and her nipples stood out under the cloth. He should look away, he knew, but the perfect curve of her breast…

If only the shirt hung loose, then he could see the pink nipple hidden underneath as she bent over. He imagined it hard between his teeth.

Catching his gaze, she winked. Aren glanced away, his face burning.

Her hand on his shoulder. “Never be ashamed of the wildness that makes you a man.”

His gaze darted back to hers. Her smile ignited a fire within him.
Tears by Rita J Webb, pages 215-216

The last thing I want is to offend, so I almost cut it all out. However, I stopped to think about what it was I wanted to relate to my readers:

1) There’s no shame in healthy sexuality.

2) Fifteen-year-old men think about sex.

3) Men of all ages think about sex.

Ten years of marriage taught me that. A woman who tries to keep her husband’s balls in a jar by the bed will likely have a husband who can’t do much more than watch football and scream for the wench to bring his beer.

I really believe that if you cut away someone’s sexuality, you cut away part of their soul. You leave them crippled inside—man or woman. And so I left the offending passages as they were.

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

SHADOWS SWALLOW ME. I AM THE PERFECT ASSASSIN. LELEA: fourteen-year-old freak of nature.

Register to win a free copy of Tears. Just post an email address in the comments. I will contact the winner to collect a mailing address for shipping.

Region: Shipping in the U.S. only

Deadline: October 31st