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A New Chapter

Friends . . . It has been a while since I’ve blogged! I’ve missed you. We have some catching up to do!

A WISH MADE OF GLASS – AUDIOBOOK

First things first: A Wish Made of Glass has been made into an audio book!! If any of you follow my Facebook page, you will have seen my occasional posts on the exciting progress of the audiobook – what a fun process! I auditioned several narrators, and was absolutely thrilled with Keely, the lady I ended up choosing. Keely’s voice is mesmerizing and whimsical and just perfect for my little tale. I couldn’t be happier with her lovely rendition of it, and I think you’ll love it too.

I have several FREE audio books to give away, too (of course! You knew I would!). In order to receive one, you only have to do two little things for me: Write a review of it to post on Amazon, and share either your review or the link to the audio book on as many of your social media as you’re comfortable doing so. See . . . not so bad!

If you’d like to be considered for receiving a free code for the audio book, email me at ashleew@zoho.com and let me know why you’re interested, and what social media you’d plan on sharing the book through (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.). Preference will be given to those who also have blogs they plan to share on. If you’ve already read A Wish Made of Glass – no worries! You still qualify for receiving a free copy!

NEW CHAPTERS

Life has thrown some huge changes at me this past year or so. Some good and some bad, including two big moves, a change in schools for my almost-10-year-old son, and a brand new job for me. Needless to say, amidst all these changes, my writing has had to sit on the back burner. That doesn’t mean that everything that has been happening to me hasn’t been grist for the mill . . . when life gets complicated and sad and stressful and unexpectedly joyful, that’s where the real stories come from! So, story ideas abound, and you’ll often find me scribbling away on the back of a receipt or church bulletin, to capture the next idea or snippet of an idea before it floats away.

About 3 or 4 months ago, when my son was having a hard night, I lay in bed with him and told him a bedtime story (something I haven’t done in ages!). That story, which was for his own courage and comfort, sparked something in me, and I couldn’t let it go. A few weeks after telling it to him, I began writing it. And just a couple weeks ago, I finished the rough draft of what is now a 14,000-word children’s book. Yes, it’s different from what I’m used to writing. But still fantasy, still full of fun and whimsy and even some heartbreak. I’m so excited to be able to do my preliminary revisions and then gather a few beta readers to help me on the next step to publishing this story.

Tell me what this near year has been like for you so far . . .?

Cinderella Schemes #2: An Interview with Shantelle Mary Hannu

Here it is! Number Two in the Cinderella Schemes series of author interviews. (In case you missed it, last week I interviewed Cinderella’s Dress author Shonna Slayton.)

This week I’m speaking with the sweet Shantelle Mary Hannu, who released her debut novella quite recently, titled A Dream Not Imagined. She’s visiting my blog today to answer a few questions not only about her book, but about Cinderella and fairy tales in general.

First, here’s a little more about her new release.

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3 a A Dream Not Imagined (Paperback edition)A Maid, a Prince, and a Duke. A Gardener, a Stepmother, and a secret . . .

Ellie Abbington, a beautiful yet unassuming young woman, quietly longs for her life to change. Too privileged to associate with the servants—too underprivileged to associate with her own family; she dreams a dream of a prince and a happily ever after. 

But it could be that her own stepsisters, conniving Dezmarie and easily-influenced Adelaide, are dreaming the same dream . . . of the same prince. 

In the end, are dreams even all they’re made out to be? Especially with deep and long-hidden secrets about to be unearthed? 

A Dream Not Imagined is a non-magical fairytale novella based loosely on the classic tale of Cinderella.

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Name your top three fairy tales, and explain why you love them.

Well, I suppose I can pick three . . . but I love pretty much all of them!! ^_^ The Little Mermaid, because I’m fascinated with mermaids and the ocean depths! I don’t know; I just love the thought—so mystical! The Twelve Dancing Princesses, because of dancing and princesses, and gallant men to the rescue!! *grins* It’s charming and intriguing, and I simply love it! Rapunzel, because I just like the idea of a long, golden-haired maiden trapped up in a tower. The backstory. The prince. The terrible trickery; but then the oh-so-sweet ending!

What are your feelings on the original version(s) of Cinderella?

I usually love the more original versions of fairytales. Like, I adored the movie Cinderella (2015), and that one stuck pretty close with the original storyline I think. But it is fun to throw in something fresh and new. And maybe change things about a little so there’s not “love-at-first-sight”, ;P

Name one thing in your story which is completely new and unique from the original tale.

It has a little mystery twining throughout it, 🙂

Which character(s) in your retelling did you have the most fun writing?glass-slipper

I must say, the stepmother and Dezmarie (eldest stepsister) were pretty fun, and interesting, to write! 😄 I also enjoyed writing Ellie (Cinderella), and kind of delving into her character.

Why do you think fairy tales (and their various rehashings) are still so wildly popular today?

There’s just something about fairytales that captivate. I don’t even really know what it is—that mystical world. Those mysterious happenings. When true love reigns. Evil gets trounced. The lovely lady and the strong, handsome knight. And certain fairytales have truth and deep lessons to them, 🙂

Tell us about what you’re working on now.

I’m getting a fantasy novel ready for publication—it’s with beta readers right now. And I have about 20,000 words on its sequel, Diamond Dark! I adore fantasy, so this is exciting stuff!

Do you have plans for more retellings? If so, could you give us a hint as to which fairy tale(s) they may be based on?

I would love to write more retellings!! I actually have a Beauty and the Beast one that I haven’t decided if I’ll publish or not yet. I also started a Rapunzel retelling randomly . . . and I might just join the contest for writing a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Oh, and I’m also planning for the third book in my fantasy series to be a subtle retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. So much fun, ^_^

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Find Shantelle here:

Blog     Amazon     Facebook     Goodreads

Tidings of New Stories

2 + 2 = 4

For those of you who follow my Facebook page, you’ll have seen that I’ve finished revisions (at last!) on book 1 of my new fantasy series, and have passed it on to my first round of beta readers. This is the first time I’ve used betas, so I’m naturally a bit nervous. It’s one thing to finish a book and hand it to your husband or sister or mom, knowing they will gush with praise. It’s quite another to hand it to someone and say, “Please tear it apart.”

*Gulp*

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I originally planned for this book to be one of two. The first draft of the sequel has been written already, in fact, although it is awaiting much work! However, something has happened along the way. Rather inevitably, I suppose …

The characters … have come alive.

One or two of them are asking for their own stories. A couple others are wishing for more of their stories to be told. It’s all I can do to keep up with the ideas that are being flung at me, and in the process … two additional book outlines have taken shape. So it looks like this book duo has now become, officially, a series. A family of four books … two of which are only ideas thus far, yes, but rather strong and insistent ideas.

*Another gulp*

A bit scary. Quite challenging for someone who has never even considered writing a series. But what a delicious challenge! I think I’m willing to tackle it 🙂

BETA READERS

As I’ve said, the first round of my beta readers have copies of the book already. However, I will be announcing, at a future date, my need for a second round of 2-4 readers. Those who follow my newsletter will be the first to hear about this opportunity, and if the need is filled by them, I may not be announcing it again on my blog.

NEW FAIRY TALE

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Before I launch into revisions for book 2 of the fantasy series, I am working on a novella of a fairy tale retelling that I plan on indie-publishing sometime soon (eek!). As it was written a couple of years ago, I’ve got a lot of work to do on it yet. I began revisions on it today, and I must say they are going swimmingly so far! I basically read through it and marked down all the “homework” I’ll need to do. Several hefty changes, but I’m excited to get started on them.

My wonderful newsletter followers will also be the first to hear about beta reading opportunities for this book, plus fun things like participation in the cover reveal, etc., when the time comes. (Ooh, helping design another cover … I’m definitely looking forward to that part!)

READING

On a rather random note, I just finished the amazing His Dark Assassin trilogy by Robin LaFevers, and am in a bit of withdrawal. None of the books I pick up seem to be appealing to me, but I’m ready to dive into something. Any great suggestions?!

Vanquished Release

I’m excited today to introduce you to a new Christian series for teens published by Pelican Book Group. A novel set in a world where sickness is rampant and medication is limited, Vanquished was written by author Katie Clark. The entire series is available in paperback at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, and will be available in eBook form on November 22, 2014.

I myself had the privilege of being an early reader for this book, and if you like dystopian novels with a foundation of faith and hope, you’ll want to consider this one!

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Here is a little about Vanquished!

When Hana’s mom is diagnosed with the mutation, she is denied the medication that might save her life.  Fischer, a medic at the hospital, implies there are people who can help—except Hana’s not sure she can trust him; Fischer is involved in a religious group, and religion has been outlawed for the last hundred years.  Hana embarks on a dangerous journey, seeking the answers Fischer insists are available. When the truth is uncovered does Hana stick to what she knows?  Or does she join the rebellion, taking a stand against an untrustworthy society?

 

Author Katie ClarkKATIE CLARK writes young adult speculative fiction, including her dystopian Enslaved Series, made up of Vanquished, Deliverance, and Redeemer. You can connect with her at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

 

First Drafts and Dragons

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Well, my friends, I am feeling a strange mixture of utter relief and tension right now. It’s the feeling that comes when a first draft is finished (relief), and edits loom large (tension) ….

Yes, you heard me. Mere minutes ago I typed the last sentence of my book. It is the second of a series I am working on (I finished the first draft of the first book earlier this year). It’s a thrilling feeling, to say the least! Especially as this is a bigger undertaking than I’ve ever tackled before. From a girl who has written only standalones, a series is a daunting task. As of now I have written the first two books, and have many plans and ideas for the third book, although it may be a while before I begin officially working on it.

What, you ask, are these books about? Well, I’m always a bit reluctant to say much about my WIPs while they are still in first-draft form – even to my own family! But I will give you a few clues.

Firstly, there are dragons. And anyone who knows me knows how much I adore dragons. I’ve longed to put them in a book for many years, but dragon1hadn’t found the right story for them until now. And I’m so excited about them, although to be honest, a little nervous about how I’ve pulled it off …!

Secondly, and probably obviously, these books are of the Christian fantasy genre, just as The Word Changers was. There is an element of allegory, an element of mystery, a great deal of adventure and intrigue and danger, and a bit of romance.

Thirdly, these books are told from multiple points of view. There are two protagonists – one is a male and one is a female. The story is told alternately from their viewpoints, something else I’ve wanted to do for a long time but didn’t quite have the courage for. The male viewpoint was a difficult one, and when I’m editing I’m sure I will have to sharpen his voice and think many manly thoughts in order to get it just right …! Perhaps some of the men in my life will be willing to read the book and offer their wisdom! 😉 😉

I am giving myself a week or two off before I begin edits. And by “off,” I mean that I will probably just tackle another writing project while I wait.  A short story, perhaps … or maybe a brand new book. I’ve got ideas for both of those things rattling around in my brain right now, so we’ll see.

So thanks to those who prayed for me and encouraged me as I struggled through the ending of this book (you know who you are!), and to those of you who I pray get to read these labors sometime in the distant future. I truly couldn’t do it without you, or without God, the true Author of all our stories.

Have a blessed weekend!

Dystopian Book Review and Giveaway

It’s release day for Nadine Brande’s dystopian debut novel, A Time to Die!!  The eBook is available here, and the paperback version is available now, here, for pre-order (releases officially October 1st). Nadine is hosting a Facebook launch party tonight from 4-6 (Pacific Time). She’ll be posting some fun things every 10 minutes, and answering questions and comments throughout. You should definitely join us!!

Also in honor of this exciting new book, I’m giving away a clock notebook, which is pictured at the bottom of this post … so be sure to enter your name if you’d like a chance to win it! Click here to enter, or scroll to the bottom of the post to see the picture of the notebook; there’s a link for the giveaway, too 🙂

Here’s my review!

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“Eighteen dead years. Why didn’t I see them dying? Why didn’t I feel my time wilting? I spent so much of my time lounging in regrets and sipping bitterness that I abandoned any thought of creating happy memories; instead, I wasted. Just wasted.” (Nadine Brandes, A Time to Die)

Many times while reading A Time to Die I felt as if someone had taken me by the shoulders and shaken me until my teeth rattled, until my eyes focused in a different way and I was seeing not only the story I was reading, but the entire world around me, in a completely new way.

This Christian dystopian book is honestly, blatantly yet gently infiltrated with Bible verses, Parvin’s (the main character) growing relationship to God, and even God’s Voice as He speaks to her through the Holy Spirit. Parvin’s search for God’s will in her life as she lives out what she knows to be her last year is both desperately painful and wonderfully rewarding. Gutting, in other words.

The concept of the story itself is just utterly amazing. Everyone knows the exact moment they will die because they each have a clock from the moment they are born which tells them how long they’ve got to live. Science has delved into an area of knowledge meant only for God and – as when anything strays from God’s plan – things go horribly wrong. It was this concept that drew me to the book in the first place … as a writer myself I saw the tremendous potential of such a theme – knowing the exact moment you would die?! – and I wondered where Nadine would take it. I definitely wasn’t disappointed!

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The worldbuilding in this book is exceptionally well-developed and impressive. The landscapes are richly-detailed and varied, from forests to rivers to cities to primitive settlements. There are some truly creative fictional inventions in the book as well … my favorite of which is the emotigraph. The emotigraph is a device that takes a “picture” of the emotion you are having at a particular moment, and then you are free to go back and revisit – actually feel again – that emotion at a later time at the push of a button. Didn’t I say creative?!

There is a huge amount of adventure and action in this story, sometimes thrilling, sometimes terrifying. Without including spoilers, I will just say that Parvin must endure some terrible hardships before she gets to her journey’s end. And the book is written so starkly and so well that it’s hard not to feel as if her hardships are not your own … which leads me to another great thing about this book: the writing.

ATimetoDieCoverNadine’s style of writing is refreshing, descriptive, clean and polished. She has a way of making her words carry you in waves of emotion, drama and pain. More than once I found myself gasping aloud, or holding my breath with anticipation, ord wiping tears away. I normally read like a writer … critical, questioning, attentive to details and wording and structure. But Nadine’s storytelling caused me to throw most of that out the window. These days there’s not many books that grab me hard enough to do that – just FORCE me to read like a reader, and push aside that pesky writer-self. A Time to Die did.

Best about this book is Parvin’s journey toward God. She begins the book both physically and spiritually weak, unprepared for the hardships ahead. But she grows in a wonderfully realistic way, ever closer to God. And though the book ends with sadness and confusion and turmoil, hope is still shining, and it’s obvious that God’s will still reigns supreme. And as there are two more books in this series, I’m already anticipating where the rest of the story will go …

I dare you to read this book and not feel an invisible tug – a tug on your eyes to open wider, a tug on your sense of adventure, a tug on your heart to push past the world’s limits and live the life God meant for you alone.

“It’s time to take a step. God destined me for greatness.” (Nadine Brandes, A Time to Die)

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FIND THE BOOK HERE:

Amazon     Goodreads

AND THE AUTHOR HERE:

Blog     Facebook     Twitter     Newsletter

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CLICK HERE to help us spread the word about Nadine’s book, and for a chance to win this CLOCK JOURNAL (Open to US residents only … sorry!)

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Little notebook – just the right size to carry in your pocket for those moments of random inspiration!

Summer of Ups and Downs

Death …

The past weeks have included a lot of ups and downs around our house. For those of you who remember when we got our puppy, Pilot, a few months back, it pains me to say that we lost him just a couple of weeks ago. He died, we believe, of a disease young dogs sometimes get. Fine one day … horribly sick the next. My 7-year-old, my husband, and myself were (and are) heartbroken, to say the least. It’s a sad thing to lose your dog … and it’s a sadder thing to watch your child’s little heart break because of that loss. God certainly put a special place in people’s hearts for their pets, and Pilot will always be in ours.

Pilot and my little Bug were rarely apart.

Birth …

Several days after Pilot’s death, our cat, Princess Peach, had a kitten. Yes … just a single kitten! And this was, in fact, perfect. If there had been any more, we would have had to find homes for them. This way we get to keep our precious little kitty (named Toad). While the pain of Pilot’s death won’t end anytime soon, this new fluffy addition to our household has helped a small bit.

Our tiny Toad

 

First Drafts…

Having completed the first book of my new two-book project, I have been attempting to concentrate a bit more on finishing up the first draft of  Book 2. I’ve sent very, very rough synopses of both Book 1 and Book 2 to my agent, although I fear she may be a bit bewildered with the fractured and confusing way they were put together! These books are still in early stages, and they are the first books that aren’t stand-alones I have ever written – quite daunting! But the confusing synopses are only temporary … things will be ironed out during edits, as usual. It’s nothing some hard-core revisions and trusty beta readers won’t be able to handle!  My hope (fingers crossed!) is to have revisions completed, and finished drafts of both books in my agent’s hands, by the end of the year. Then I’ll be able to start talking a bit about them here on my blog! Can’t wait.

Introvert Overkill …

The past few weeks have been full of other things as well.

I got to visit for the day with a friend I hadn’t seen in more than four years.

One of my very close childhood friends got engaged!!

I spent a “girls” weekend with my cousins and sister (sans kiddos!), just shopping, watching movies, chatting, swimming and laughing ’til we cried.

And I am gearing up for my son to attend school. We home-schooled this past year, but decided a small local Christian school was the best choice this year. I’m sure my Bug will have no problems adapting … it’s Mom who will be the emotional mess during the first week of school!

So, yeah. A lot going on for this introverted girl 🙂  I’m just plain worn out.

How has your summer been going? What have you been up to? Relaxing in the sun … or something new and exciting?

Falling Into the Book

book portalIn books, characters can stumble into other worlds in many different ways. Sometimes it’s as simple as walking through a door or crossing a bridge. Other times it’s as unexpected as the door of a musty old wardrobe, falling down a rabbit hole, or flying out your window toward the second star on the right, straight on ‘til morning …

But those are fictional portals leading to fictional worlds.

Growing up I discovered a real-life portal.

A book.

Any book. Every book. Each one takes you to a different place. Each one has something different to show you, something new to reveal. It’s a never-ending adventure, a book. A rousing and irresistible adventure.

Is it any wonder that I grew up daydreaming how it would feel to fall straight into a book? Does it come as a surprise that my own debut novel features just such a theme?

Posy, my main character, is a 15-year-old girl who is much like I used to be at that age. Lacking in confidence, the child of a broken  home, older than her years in some ways, and younger than them in other ways. In short, she is made up of the perfect ingredients to find a sanctuary in books. An escape from the world around her.

But books, as we know, can take us places. Books can draw us in, and then both excite and wound us in the worst and best of ways. And the fairy tale Posy wanders into takes her to a world in turmoil. The very characters themselves are threatening to rebel against their Plot. They have forgotten who their Author wrote them to be … they have forgotten their Author altogether, in fact.magic book

That’s a recipe for trouble. And Posy’s journey is a long and difficult one.

As I wrote the book, I had to ask myself some questions:

What would happen if you actually stepped into a book and met its characters?

Would those characters be aware that they were characters following a Plot that controlled their every word and move?

Would they be capable of making their own decisions or – as in The Word Changers – actually rebelling against their Author?

As much as I’ve always dreamed of literally getting lost in a book, what would it truly be like, and how would I react? In other words, what would be the dark side of such a fantasy …?

That’s what I asked myself. And that’s how The Word Changers began, in part.

A lot of answers came from those questions as I began to write this tale. Some of them were surprising. Some were exciting. Some were mysterious. To find out what those answers were, and how Posy’s story unfolds, read The Word Changers for yourself!

But let me ask you now, how would you answer those questions? If you were dropped into a book, stumbled through its pages and straight into its story, how would you feel? What would you do? … Would your actions send waves across the Plot, changing the story’s very words?

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Don’t forget to click below and enter the giveaway going on this week. I’m giving away a signed paperback of The Word Changers, and a crocheted owl made by – you guessed it – me!

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The Journey Begins

IT’S HERE!

Well, dear readers, the day has finally come! A lifelong dream of mine has been realized, and my book has been released into the world today!

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WHAT HAPPENS NOW

In the coming week, I will be posting once a day with some insight into how The Word Changers began, introductions to some of the characters in the book, and other exciting things! Tomorrow, I’ll be talking about magical portals in fantasy and the reason I chose the one I did in my own story.

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Enter your name below to win both of these!

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GIVEAWAY

It will all end with a giveaway for a signed paperback of my book and a crocheted owl, handcrafted by my own two little hands 🙂 The giveaway begins today (as in right now!!), so don’t forget to scroll down and follow the link to enter your name! It will end on Friday, when my release week ends, after which I will email the winner for details.

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PLACES TO FIND The Word Changers

The Word Changers is available now in eBook, and releases today in paperback (although on some sites there may be a bit of a delay until it shows up). I myself am a “real” book girl. Nothing beats the smell of those pages, or the feel of a solid book in my hands. Ok, I’ll admit, part of it is just because I’m old-fashioned at heart and I’m like a cantankerous old lady when it comes to change!

But I digress …

Here are the places you can purchase The Word Changers!

Amazon          Barnes and Noble          Conquest          Smashwords

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PLACES YOU CAN FIND ME TODAY

I will be at the charming Tales of Goldstone Wood blog today, where fantasy author Anne Elisabeth Stengl is interviewing me.

The lovely Amber Stokes is hosting me in a book spotlight and fun character interview (meet King Melanthius!) over at The Borrowed Book.

Also the talented author Jenelle Schmidt is featuring The Word Changers today on her blog.

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NEW PAGES

I’ve set up three new pages if you’d like to check them out. All of them will be updated regularly.

The first one is under the “ABOUT ASHLEE” tab, and it’s got links to all my interviews and guest posts.

The second one is under the “BOOKS” tab, and it’s got quotes of what reviewers have to say about The Word Changers.

The third one is extra fun, and it’s under the “BOOKS” tab as well. It’s got fan art from The Word Changers … although right now the one picture I’ve got there is a bit lonely, so if you have read my book and feel inspired to draw, paint, or artistically express one of the ideas or characters within it, please feel free to send your illustration my way! I’d love to feature it!

Needless to say, it’s going to be a busy week around here! Hope you’re ready for some fun!

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THE WORD CHANGERS eBook Release and Call for Reviewers

The Word Changers eBook is now up on Amazon and Barnes and Noble!  TheWordChangers(Final)

Pass the word to your friends, share it on Facebook and Twitter!  And if you decide to purchase a copy, don’t forget to leave reviews (Amazon, Goodreads, blog, wherever!).  I will be holding giveaways (to be announced at a later time) for every several reviews posted on Amazon, so keep that in mind!  Probably something fun like a Starbucks gift card 😉

This leads me to my next announcement: A call for reviewers!

My publisher has eBook ARCs ready to be sent out, and I’d love to have you grab one. You must be an active blogger, and preference will be given to those who have Amazon and Goodreads accounts.

If you’re interested in reviewing an eBook ARC of The Word Changers, email me at ashleew(at)zoho(dot)com with links to all your social media and/or sites.

The eBook ARCs will only be available for a short time period, so if you’re interested, hurry! If you’re not interested, but know of someone who may be, please pass on the news! 

The paperback of The Word Changers is still set to release June 23, 2014 (just over a month!), and I’ve got plenty of other fun things planned for around that time, so be on the lookout!

Thanks for your support, lovely friends! I couldn’t do this without you.