Our July Featured Author–Kari Sayers

It’s July and time for our latest Featured Author. This month, we are featuring a very talented writer named Kari Sayers. We had the privilege to work with her on her novella The Gifted Souls, the first book in the Seventhdust Novella Series, earlier this year.

Kari Sayers Pic 2
Kari lives in Simpsonville, South Carolina, with her husband of six years, Colwyn—a man Kari readily describes as one of her best friends and having the sexiest accent ever—and their twin three-year-old sons (Thing 1 and Thing 2, as Kari lightheartedly puts it). She considers herself a Midwest girl stuck in the South, but she enjoys the sunny weather and the overabundance of sweet tea.

Kari and Colwyn
Kari is an avid reader, and she loves a good love story, particularly romantic comedies. One of her guilty pleasures has always been young adult books. She also enjoys books about vampires, angels, and other supernatural creatures. Despite her fear of zombies, Kari can’t stop reading articles about the impending “zombie apocalypse” and watching zombie movies—even if she has to watch scary movies in the daytime, with someone else in the house, and then follow them up with a comedy in hopes of laughing until she forgets how scared she just was.


Kari was first published at age 17 in a local paper. Her first published book, A Toast to the Dummies Who Lost Us, is a break-up survival guide that was released when she was 25. The Gifted Souls was released in April, 2014.

kari sayers
We had the good fortune to catch up with Kari and ask her a few questions to get to know her a little better. She shared with us the poignant tale of when she started writing, her loves in life, and a little about the great stories she is currently working on.
When did you first start writing?

My uncle passed away when I was a kid in the early 90s. I wrote a poem as a way to express my grief. It’s the first meaningful piece of work that I can remember writing. I still remember the feeling of relief after I wrote out my emotions. I was hooked after that.


Where did you grow up, and how did it influence your writing?

I grew up in a small industrial city in northwest Indiana with my two sisters, my police officer father, and my bubbly mother. I get my sense of humor from my mom, a characteristic that is very evident in the self-improvement books I write. My love for science fiction was influenced by my dad. Growing up, I would sit with him and watch episodes of Star Trek. I was totally fascinated by the story lines. Today, I have an irreversible addiction to watching the SyFy channel and lots of science fiction movies. My husband thinks I watch way too many “low-budget” SyFy channel movies—I can’t help it… they’re interesting.


Where do you write? Describe this area for us.

Give me a cup of coffee with French vanilla creamer (hold the sugar), a little bit of sunshine, the low chatter of other people having interesting conversations, and POW! that’s my perfect writing spot. This often ends up being a local coffee spot, but sometimes it’s my own breakfast table at home.


When you aren’t writing, how do you spend your time?

I have two extremely active twin boys. They are three years old and quite possibly believe it’s their life mission to wear Mommy out each day. So when I’m not writing, I’m listening to my animated toddlers tell stories about purple monsters, forest trolls, lost princesses, and Power Rangers. According to one of them, I’m the troll (can’t argue with a three-year-old). My husband and I also like to think of ourselves as movie connoisseurs. We are the king and queen of matinee movies on Friday afternoons before we pick up the kids.

Boat Trip_Lake Hartwell

I also love WINE. I spend a good deal of time drinking it on the weekends.


What inspires you to get out of bed each morning?

Most mornings I wake up with one or both of my sons sleeping in our bed. As much as I would love no kids in my bed, there is a part of me that loves cuddling up next to them in the wee hours of the morning. Like a lot of parents, my children inspire me. My parents worked hard to provide a great life for my siblings and me. I want to do the same for my boys. I want to show them the importance of realizing your passions and life goals, then creating a plan to accomplish them.



What are your five favorite books, and why?

The Once and Future King by T.H. White—I’m totally fascinated by Merlin and the explanation that he lived his life backwards. I’ve read this book three times.

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne—this book is just really positive and encouraging. I truly believe in the power of positive thinking and the law of attraction. The Secret really speaks to me.

Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella—I own this book on audio, and, no matter how many times I listen to it (which is at least once a year), I still find the main character Lexi extremely hilarious with her foul mouth and good intentions.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer—I don’t care what any of the critics may say, the first time I read Twilight, I fell in love with the writing style and the characters. Of course, I’m totally infatuated with vampires anyway, so this book and the other books in the series were pretty darn amazing to me.

A Divine Revelation of Hell —I read this book when I was a teenager. I don’t remember who the author was or where I even got the book from, but it has influenced some of the stories in my Seventhdust Novella Series. The book was supposedly based on the true story of a person who experienced visiting hell—kind of like Dante’s Inferno. The book gave me the creeps, but it had a huge impact on me as a teenager.


What is the best writing advice you can give another writer?

Just write. If you have a story inside you, get it out. Write it out. Don’t get all caught up in trying to perfect your story or editing each line you write two seconds after writing it. Just write. Point blank.


Tell our readers about your novella The Gifted Souls and the Seventhdust Novella Series.

The Seventhdust Novella Series was inspired by dreams I had when I was a teenager. I would dream (both at night and during daydreams) that something invisible was holding me down, trying to take control of me. These dreams helped build the storyline for this series.

The Gifted Souls is the first book in the series, and it introduces Liora, a teenager with a special gift that she keeps hidden, a white light that pools beneath her skin. She spends her summers at an academy in Ohio for gifted students. She and a few other students discover that the world is on the brink of a supernatural war and that reincarnated souls have returned to fulfill a task that was millennia in the making. The next book in the series will uncover the origins of these reincarnated souls and what sparked the war that actually began millennia ago.

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What are you working on now?

In addition to working on Book II of the Seventhdust Novella Series, I’m also working on launching a wine blog. I hope to share my love of wine and books through this project. WineandBabble.com is the name of it.

I’m also working on a variety of other writing projects, including a marriage guide with my friend Dr. Nicole Ausmer, as well as my first fantasy novel that outlines the second life of a character who must attempt to live and learn the Karmic Laws in order to maintain the balance of good vs. evil.



You can catch up with Kari online:

Website: http://www.karisayersbooks.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/karisayersbooks

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/karisayers

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/karisayers

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/karisayers



You can also grab your own copy of The Gifted Souls:



Thanks to Kari for sharing with us and working with us. We can’t wait to see what happens next in the Seventhdust Series. We know that once you read The Gifted Souls that you will be waiting as anxiously as we are. We have no doubt that you, too, will fall in love with this gifted writer and the wonderful stories she crafts.

Summer Shorts II Book Trailers

We are pleased to share the book trailers for our latest anthology, Summer Shorts II: Best Kept Secrets. This collection features short stories from 21 writers from around the world. We are excited about the variety of pieces included and feel like this is going to be our most diverse collection yet.  We hope you enjoy the trailers and the upcoming book, available online June 21, 2014.


Summer Shorts II Cover Image

Nicola J McDonagh: Our June Featured Author

Our featured writer this month is Nicola J McDonagh. She is a writer of contemporary fiction and poetry who hails from Syleham, Suffolk, UK. Nicola was the winner of the Suffolk Book League’s Short Story Competition in 2011, and she was short-listed for the Escalator Genre Fiction Competition in 2012. Her works include Echoes from the Lost Ones, A Silence Heard (books in the YA dystopian/sci-fi series The Song of Forgetfulness published by Fable Press), and Glimmer and other stories, an adult anthology of short stories. She is also featured in two of our DEE anthologies, Aspiring to Inspire and Words of Fire and Ice. She is a reviewer on The Review Board and a resident article writer for All Authors Magazine.

Nikki MacDonagh

Born in Liverpool, Nicola was the youngest of six children who, as she states, “grew up in a chaotic household full of stray animals, musical instruments, and lots of books.” She has spent most of her adult life performing on the stage, gaining an Honors Degree in Drama and English Literature. After working as an actor, scriptwriter, and workshop leader, she moved to Suffolk and was drawn into writing again by the surroundings of her summer home. Nicola went back to college and received a Diploma in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. She is an author, creative writing tutor, and photographer, now living in rural Suffolk with her musician husband and, as she describes, “several feral/rescue cats.” She is learning to play the flute and piano accordion and is part of the band The Swamp Kittens. Nicola enjoys cooking, growing vegetables and fruit, and relaxing in a hammock—weather permitting. Nicola continues to experiment with words and photographs and has a website dedicated to her experimental photography: www.tracerlight.co.uk.


Future projects include: Marauders of the Missing Mummies,a children’s action adventure novel, and an audio book of Glimmer and other stories. Nicola is also engaged in a top secret writing collaboration on a book with the working title Spicasso. To celebrate six months of Glimmer and other stories being published, Nicola is giving away a signed paperback copy. The Kindle version will be on KDP select during the month of June.


Nicola shared her thoughts with us on writing, her favorite books, the influence of her hometown of Liverpool, and the inspiration she draws from her surroundings.


When did you first start writing?

I started writing when I was about nine or ten. I used to write short poems to the weather to make it sunny if it was raining. Sometimes it worked, too. Then I stopped because growing up became more important to me. I do remember, whenever we changed the wallpaper, I would leave some short stories on the walls before the new wallpaper went up. All in pencil so that it would fade quickly. I didn’t write anything for a long time after the age of twelve. When I did go back to writing, it was in the form of scripts for theatre. I started doing prose seriously about eight years ago.


Where did you grow up, and how did it influence your writing?

I grew up on a council estate in a place called Kirkby—a suburb of Liverpool. It was rough, and I became quite good at running away from bullies. I also became good at defending myself. Being the youngest of six children, I quickly learned how to fight back. I think having such a turbulent childhood influenced my writing in that I tend not to sentimentalise characters or plotlines. I lived in a city known for its rich cultural heritage and multi-cultural influences. I loved visiting the docks, and seeing the huge ships, but I also loved the beautiful museum and art gallery and, of course, going to the theatre. I think that’s where I learned what a good story should be like—full of drama and interesting plotline.


Where do you write? Describe this area for us.

I mainly write in my small living room. It has a low, oak-beamed ceiling and fireplace, which makes it very cosy in the winter months. I always sit in my battered old armchair. It is so comfortable, although its original cover has long since melted away. I drape it in a dark red cover and prop myself up with plenty of cushions.


When you aren’t writing, how do you spend your time?

I have a huge garden, about an acre, and that takes up a lot of time with weeding and trimming and planting and all things gardening. I also have a lot of cats to feed and groom. I also love to cook and make big batches of soup and curry. I also take photographs. I love to experiment with light and create unusual images influenced by artists that I admire. Oh, and I teach a variety of arts-based workshops such as creative writing and photography at the local high school.


What inspires you to get out of bed each morning?

 The promise of fresh coffee and a new day to soak up the beauty of the countryside that surrounds me.


What are your five favourite books, and why?

 Difficult to choose just five, but here goes. In no particular order:

 Ray Bradbury – The Martian Chronicles. This book is so much more than a simple science fiction novel. Bradbury’s writing is beautiful. He creates an alien world using imagery and imaginative descriptions that make you believe it is real. He always has some sort of message in his works, and, in this book, he is showing how mankind destroys all that is good and beautiful through greed and selfishness. It is a profound book and also full of humour.

 Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar. This book is touching, harrowing, and funny. Sylvia Plath was a great writer, and she knew how to touch the reader with her rich, yet sparse, use of language. Her soul-bearing narrative is so poignant and honest that you empathise but never feel sorry for her.

Theodore Sturgeon – More than Human. This is another science fiction book, but one that deals with the human condition and the potential of the human brain and mankind to become better than they are now. It is at once a gothic horror/romance and a startling examination of what power can do to the individual, and how those with enormous power need to be humbled in order to use it wisely.

John Kennedy Toole – A Confederacy of Dunces. This is a wonderfully funny book by a hugely talented author, who sadly killed himself before the book was published. His use of language and colloquial dialogue is superb. The central character is a complete anti-hero, and we love to see him get caught up in his imaginary conspiracy theory.

Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol. This is truly one of my all-time favourite books. Moralistic, condemnatory, and just so evocative, the transformation of Scrooge from a miser to a philanthropist is utterly believable and heart-warming. The narrative is wonderful, skilful, and has you laughing and crying in equal measure. He knew how to tell a tale, all right.


Since you are both a photographer and a writer, how do these two forms of artistic expression come together in your work?

I suppose I use my photographer’s eye to help me with descriptions. I tend to write visually and often use some of my photographs as triggers for short stories, or to help me to describe locations.



Tell us about your YA novel that was released in May, A Silence Heard.

 A Silence Heard is a follow up to Echoes from the Lost Ones. They are part of a YA dystopian/sci-fi series called The Song of Forgetfulness. The books are an unsettling and mysterious vision of the future where animals are almost extinct, humans are subjugated by the sinister and secretive Agros, and gifted children, known as Meeks, are going missing.

A Silnce Heard cover sml

In the books, I deal with issues that are of concern to us today: overpopulation, rapid advances in technology, and global warming. Both books are set in Scotland because oceans have risen, and that is all the land that is left in Great Britain. There are no animals because of viral infection, except for the elusive birdybirds, and they never land. In A Silence Heard, I am trying to suggest that if mankind continues to abuse this beautiful planet, then a world like the one I have created might happen. But I am also trying to say that we are all connected somehow, and that we all have something special inside us, even if we aren’t sure what it is. That we are all capable of doing something amazing if put to the test.

 The books came about after some pupils that I teach in my afterschool clubs suggested that I write a futuristic novel for them, incorporating issues and concerns that they wanted to address, such as global warming, cloning, and the threat of widespread disease. They also wanted a heroine they could identify with, who did ordinary things like going to the toilet, as well as having supernatural powers

I wanted to use a slang-based language as a way of getting instantly into the character’s personality and unfamiliar world. As the narrative is from Adara’s point of view, it made sense to have her talk to the reader in her “own” voice. The characters and futuristic setting become more credible and believable, when the vocabulary reflects this by being different to today’s spoken or written word.

 Link to book trailer for The Song of Forgetfulness: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoh9FB_bNO4rQdNvJ5AWA5Q


[important]                                                  Echoes from the Lost Ones is free on Amazon until June 2, 2014.[/important]


You also have a short story collection, Glimmer and other stories, that will have been out for six months in June. Can you share a little about the collection and its June promotion?

Glimmer is a collection of darkly humorous stories that tell of mysterious liaisons, supernatural intrigue, deathly hauntings, disturbing fixations, hidden secrets, forbidden urges, necromancy, and a rebellious housewife. Phew!

I decided to publish this anthology to step away from the genre that I was writing in with the Song of Forgetfulness books. I wanted to reach an adult audience and chose a varied selection of tales from my stash of shorts. I have included stories from a few years ago and a couple of new ones written in a variety of genres. I enjoy writing and reading all kinds of stories and wanted to reflect that in this anthology, so there should be something of interest to almost any reader. They range from horror to humour to mystery and to speculative fiction. I wanted to create atmospheric tales as well as stories about ordinary people who want to break free. I am giving away a signed paperback copy of the collection (see details on my Facebook Page). The Kindle version will be available mid-June on Amazon countdown deal starting at $0.99 to celebrate six months of its publication (go to my website for details of this promotion in June).



What are you working on next?     

I am working on a children’s action adventure book called Marauders of the Missing Mummies. It is about a young girl and her archaeologist mother who are trying to recover a couple of important mummies to take back to the British Museum. But their archenemy and rival, Van Clutch, has other ideas and steals them. The mummies are cursed, and when Van Clutch unleashes the Egyptian god of chaos, Seth, to bring about the destruction of mankind, it is up to Cleo and her friends to travel to the Land of the Dead to bring back Ma-at, the only goddess who can destroy Seth and return order. It is also about coping with loss and understanding what belief means to us all, and how delicate the balance is between what is good and what is evil.


You can find out more about Nicola and her works by visiting any of the sites below.


The Song of Forgetfulness website: http://www.thesongofforgetfulness.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thesongofforgetfulness?ref=hl

Twitter: @McDonaghNikki

Website photography: http://www.tracerlight.co.uk

Blog:   http://nicolajmcdonagh.wordpress.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17986040-echoes-from-the-lost-one


Amazon links:













Thirty Days of Thankfulness Release

April J. Durham, of Durham Editing and E-books, has released her first Christian life book entitled Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Finding Reasons to Be Thankful in Everyday Life. We hope that you will check it out!


30 Days Final


About the Book:

Every day it’s the same old routine, day in and day out. Bills fill the mailbox, violence floods the news, and money gets tighter as prices steadily increase. In a world where you are constantly bombarded with the negative, it is often hard to find something to be thankful for in your everyday life. Yet, sometimes, all it takes is that one little glimmer of hope to make even a bad day feel like it was worth all of the headache and the heartbreak, and all it takes is a little inspiration to help you start a journey that could change your life forever.

Join April J. Durham on her thirty-day journey of discovery as she looks for reasons to be thankful in everyday life. Read along day-by-day as she tells tales of her ordinary life and the things that she encounters that offer her a chance to reflect on her own thankfulness. Even more, challenge yourself to take a few minutes each day to write down what you are thankful for in your own life, and put the Thankfulness Challenge to work for you!

It’s never too late to make a change, and adding thankfulness to your everyday life can add a new, positive, outlook that you never realized you were missing. You will never be sorry that you took the chance to experience…

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Finding Reasons to Be Thankful in Everyday Life.


Print Version with included space for readers to take the 30-Day Thankfulness Challenge:


Amazon print: http://www.amazon.com/Thirty-Days-Thankfulness-Thankful-Everyday/dp/1499597754/


Digital Editions:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KNL094I

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/443093




Get your FREE digital copy on Smashwords.com with the following coupon code:

Promotional price: $0.00

Coupon Code: QZ59L

Expires: June 29, 2014




 Download your own FREE printable Thankfulness Journal to accompany your digital version of the book:




Getting Started in E-Publishing

After three years in the e-publishing world, we know one thing for certain: everyone has to start somewhere. While this seems pretty straightforward, it doesn’t make it any less bewildering to those just starting out. Entering the world of e-publishing can be scary and overwhelming, and the ins and outs can feel more like learning a new language than learning additional skills. The good news is that this doesn’t have to be your experience. With a little help and guidance, e-publishing can become the rewarding and exciting experience that you deserve as a writer.

free writing contests 2014

The first thing to keep in mind is that you do not have to write 50,000 words to get started. These days, authors can publish short stories (750-5000 words) and flash fiction (500-1000 words), so you don’t have to wait until you have written a novel to get started. Even small (or large) collections of poetry, short stories, or a combination of both can be helpful in getting your voice out there into the fray.


The next thing you need to do is to revise and edit your work. This means that you need to read the piece, reread it, adjust it, touch it up, polish it, and be sure it shines. While some writers feel fine editing their own work, it is always a good idea to let someone else (who has good grammar and writing skills to offer) to go over your work. While some writers do not think they can afford editing, this isn’t always the case. Shorter pieces cost less to edit, and the return of having a second set of eyes going over your piece truly outweighs the option of publishing a book that isn’t ready for readers. A great story can’t go anywhere if no one can piece together what you are trying to say in a sea of typos and grammar mistakes. Everyone makes them, and so everyone needs someone else to take a look at the piece. Be it a neighbor or teacher or a hired editor you can build a relationship with, an editor is something that every writer needs.


The next step in entering the e-publishing world is choosing which site you would like to use to publish your story. As far as self-publishing, there are numerous sites that offer this type of service at no fee to set-up or sell, although they do take a portion of royalties. This means they do take a percentage of the sale price once the book (or e-book) sales, but they do not charge you upfront. Our suggestion is to always visit each site and check out the pluses and minuses and how they apply to you. Take some time and consider whether or not you feel comfortable moving forward on your own or whether or not you might prefer someone else to do the technical stuff for you. You will also want to take a look at the pros and cons of publishing with each site.


The four easiest and most popular sites to use are Smashwords, Amazon, Apple, and Barnes and Noble. There are pluses and minuses about using each site, and the easiest way to discover these is to create your own free account and take a look for yourself. These sites want you to use them to get your book out there, so they will help you as much as they can to get things up and running. Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble offer free guides to help you format your story to their specifications. While these are not necessarily the easiest guides to follow and every site has different rules and requirements, they are a starting place. There are also plenty of companies like ours that offer these formatting services for a reasonable fee.


One thing to consider when making the decision on which site to use is to look at the broad scope and see which site might help you the most. While Amazon offers some marketing help if you choose their Kindle Select program, they also do not allow you to publish elsewhere for three months (or longer if you do not un-enroll at the end of the three months). Smashwords, on the other hand, offer a very wide distribution if your book makes their Premium Selection, including Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, Diesel, Sony, Flipkart, Oyster, Baker and Taylor, and Scribd. They also offer a “pre-release” program that helps you promote your book as a pre-release sale before it comes available. The problem with this is that you need to understand a little about marketing to use this to your full advantage. You can also use a combination of both which will help you with marketing, but that is something to save for later.


Another thing to consider as a self-publisher is whether or not you would like to have print books, as well. Createspace is a great place to publish your book in print. With Createspace, you do not have to pay to upload your book or for them to sell the book. Again, they do take a portion of each sell as payment. The best things about Createspace is that you do not have to purchase a bulk of print books upfront and fork out a lot of money right at the start. Books are printed only as they are ordered, by you or shoppers on Amazon or any other company that chooses to sell your book. That way it cuts costs for you dramatically.


With print-on-demand, whether through Createspace or other sites such as Lightning Source or Lulu, you will need to have your book formatted for print. You can do this on your own or hire someone to do this for you. We also offer this service at a reasonable price, as well as other companies online. Even Createspace offers this service, though their price is substantially higher than ours or most other independent services. You can even do this formatting on your own if you feel comfortable using some of the more advanced features of Microsoft Word or Adobe InDesign.


The last thing to consider is a cover. While covers are truly important, there are a few options available. Amazon and Createspace have form covers you can use if you do not feel comfortable creating your own cover or cannot afford to hire someone to do it for you. You can also hire someone to create a cover for you, with many covers costing as little as $35 or $45 dollars (this is the price range ours start at). Any way you choose (stock cover from the site, creating your own, or buying one), be sure that the cover fits your needs. No one knows these but you, and, in the end, self-publishing is a personal journey. If you need a cover to attract sells, spend a little money on it. If you only want to publish for family and friends, sometimes a stock cover will do just fine.


If we can be of help along the way, please let us know. We offer editing, formatting, and cover design, and we would be happy to help you as you move forward in your e-publishing journey. Hopefully this article will help you get started. It is a good bit of information, but don’t get overwhelmed. Take it a little at a time, and stay positive. We’re here if you need us.



Helpful Links:

Smashwords: http://www/smashwords.com

Amazon: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/landing

Barnes and Noble: https://www.nookpress.com/login

Apple: http://www.apple.com/ibooks-author/