REVIEW: CRACKED by ELIZA CREWE (#1 Soul Eater Series)


Meet Meda. She eats people.

Well, technically, she eats their soul. But she totally promises to only go for people who deserve it. She’s special. It’s not her fault she enjoys it. She can’t help being a bad guy. Besides, what else can she do? Her mother was killed and it’s not like there are any other “soul-eaters” around to show her how to be different. That is, until the three men in suits show up.
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  1. Each book can be read as a standalone. It absolutely does not matter where you start in this series. Each book follows a different couple, and although the characters overlap, their stories do not. The exception to this is the novella EVER ALWAYS, whose couple also appears in WANTING FOREVER. But some readers read the novella first, while others read the full length WANTING FOREVER first. Either way, you’re going to get to know the characters and their stories!
  2. Nelson Island, South Carolina is a fictional town. I totally made it up, but it is based off of a town off the coast of Charleston called Daniel Island. I love the Charleston area with all my heart, and it was inevitable that one of my series would be based there. It’s probably inevitable that more than one of my series will be based there, at some point! J
  3. I decided to write the series in third person after reading WAIT FOR ME by Elisabeth Naughton. I loved the way her characters developed even though she was writing third person, and I had never read a New Adult book written this way. I wanted my series to stand out, and it was a welcome challenge to bring my characters to life and put their emotions out there while using third person. It was super hard, but really, really fun!
  4. My publisher would have loved for me to change the name of the town from Nelson Island to something else. I politely declined.
  5. The men of Nelson Island are not sex-crazed, alpha males. They are strong, sexy, and independent, true. But they know how to treat a woman. Really treat a woman. They’re all guys raised in the South, and that means something to me. It means guys who know how to take care of a woman’s needs without making her feel less than or used. I adore my Nelson Island heroes, and I hope readers do, too!
  6. I never planned for the novella to be book 1.5. Originally, before I had a publisher for the series, I imagined that Ever’s novella wouldn’t come until the very end of the series. I thought readers would need time to recover from what happened with her character in Book 1: WANTING FOREVER. But my publisher had other ideas, and I went with it. It worked out great, but I’m not sure if I would put it right after WANTING FOREVER if I had it to do over again. What do you guys think?
  7. I don’t want the Nelson Island series to be over. One way or another there will by more books, because there are more characters whose stories need to be told. Namely, Tamara, Tate, and Blaze. I can’t wait to write these books, and I hope more than anything that this dream will come to fruition sometime in 2016!

Wanting Forever Cover Ever Always CoverFalling Deep cover


I’m a Virginia girl living In South Carolina, and my beloved home in the South is the backdrop for all of my novels. I adore writing about Southern girls and boys finding their way in and out of love. I’m married to the love of my life, and we have two fabulous/crazy children and an equally crazy boxer doggie. Life is a fun roller-coaster, and I wouldn’t trade it! Now that I’m a stay-at-home-mom and have recently added author to my list of things to do, I’m busy ALL THE TIME!

Diana’s Web Page




Amazon Author Page


As humans we often use labels to categorize and understand the world around us. We use numbers in competition to define excellence, education to inform the credibility of one’s opinion, weight to determine a person’s physical fitness. But as we all know, nothing is that black and white. The world just simply isn’t that one dimensional.  There are exceptions to every rule. Regardless, we tend to place labels and compare data, often pigeon-holing people into neat little categories.

For the purposes of this post, I’m sticking with disability labels. I have both anxiety and ADD. I also teach special education where we place disability labels on IEP documents, with the intentions of helping design an educational plan that is created for that specific student’s learning needs. The problem with labels though, is that people can allow labels to create the definition of who they are.

I’ve had ADD and anxiety as long as I can remember. There are many times during a day when my ADD or anxiety affects my behaviors, ways of thinking, and attitude. Once, I was having a spastic moment where I forgot, yet again, to grab something from my desk that I needed. One of my co-workers turned to another and jokingly said, “She’s ADHD.”

In the moment, I didn’t think much about it. I’m very aware that my ADD affects many aspect of my personality, but I also embrace it because it makes me who I am. Later, after my brain had settled down, I thought about it. Is this something, that in the eyes of others, defines who I am? Do they see the disability, more than they see me?

I use this example because I’ve witnessed this happen with characters in novels as well – the characters are defined by their disabilities rather than having them as just one facet of their personality. They become the ADHD character or the OCD character, where the disability dictates all the other personality traits – not the other way around. There’s a big difference between being OCD and organized or being organized and OCD. However; that difference says a lot about both the character and society’s mentality as a whole.

I’ve written two novels with disabled characters in order to help break this representation in literature. The most recent young adult novel that I’ve written, addresses just this issue. Sydney has to come to terms not just with the disability of anxiety but also the label. She has to find a way to deal with it and not allow her anxiety to define who she is.

Unfortunately, I don’t think society is going to stop using labels to categorize things. But as writers, we have the power to change the perception of how disabled characters are constructed in our stories. We possess the ability to empower them and make them bigger than their disability – creating them as complex as anyone with a disability really is.


Caitlin LaRue is the author of several young adult novels and picture books. You can connect with her on Twitter at @CaitlinLaRue or through her blog.


How old were you when you realized Big Bird was a guy in a costume?

Three? Five? Six (the perpetual age of the bird, himself)? Or did I just ruin your childhood by telling you that Big Bird is, in fact, an adult in a costume speaking in the voice of a child?

I don’t know when it dawned on me. Maybe it never did. Maybe I still think Big Bird sleeps in a nest, and Kermit really was playing that banjo and riding that bike.

Nowadays, I sit next to my three year old and watch Big Bird stomp across Sesame Street alongside Snuffy while Oscar shouts, “Turkey!” from his trash can. And I believe in the deepest pit of my heart that that big yellow thing is actually a six year old child.

Now that is an artist that speaks to kids… and their immature adult counterparts.

I saw Carroll Spinney, the Muppeteer behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, many years ago on Chicago Tonight. He said something that has stuck with me ever since – all you need to do is talk to kids at their level.

That’s true for my day job as an elementary school teacher, and it’s true for my super hero alter-ego as a middle grade writer. It’s easier in the writer role, but the idea is the same. A switch flips, and I become an alternate character with one sole purpose – convince the kids that something interesting is happening, and it will be worth their time. I don’t even realize it’s happening, and I don’t have much control over it. And when it doesn’t work, it can feel your heart is going to collapse.

All of this came to a head when I finally got my son to sleep at a reasonable hour and spent my hard-earned adult time watching I AM BIG BIRD, a documentary that’s been on my radar ever since its successful Kickstarter campaign.

Chances are you’ve heard of Big Bird and Oscar, but nobody knows Carroll, despite his work being an unsung miracle of puppetry. He connects with kids the way every middle grade writer wants to. And he loves his work. He has no intention of retiring.

And what’s odd is I’ve built two careers on a philosophy I didn’t even realize he’d planted in my head when I saw him on Chicago Tonight.

Kids do a lot of silly things, but they’re smart enough to know when a writer is talking (or writing) down to them. They know when the writer is preaching. They lose interest in a story written by an adult who dumbed their characters down until they seemed absurd enough to be kids. Big Bird is proof that that’s not the way an artist effectively interacts with kids.

The documentary wasn’t all wonder and nostalgia, of course. It’s not easy to hear anecdotes about the man in the suit facing a severe bout of depression and looking down from a window and wondering if that is the answer. Or about his abusive relationship with his father when he was a kid.

And the story of how Big Bird almost went into space? I’ll let you experience that one yourself.

But despite all of that, Carroll is a happy man. He enjoys his work and his life. And he taught me a lot about middle grade writing without saying a thing about it.

BIO: Mike Grosso Author Headshot

Mike Grosso is the author of I AM DRUMS, a debut contemporary middle grade for musicians of all ages. It was orphaned due to the closing of Egmont USA, but has found a new home at Clarion Books and an updated release date of September 16, 2016.


1. Can you tell us about your comic books?
I’m the writer, creator, and publisher of Split Lip, a horror comics anthology. The series exists both online and in print. The stories are first serialized on our website——and then published as print collections.
I write all the stories in the series, but all the stories are drawn by different artists from around the world. I’ve worked with artists who are just getting their start, people who are well-established in indie comics, and some who are now drawing series for major publishers like Image and IDW. I find my artists as nearby as my neighbor across the street and as far away as Hungary, Finland, and Brazil (I’m based in Rhode Island).
Split Lip is a true anthology—all the stories are self-contained and there are no recurring characters, just recurring themes and topics. Some of the things that I find scariest, and thus find myself writing the most about, include: the essential unknowability of other people, even our closest loved ones; doppelgangers; the horror of living in an indifferent universe.
Split Lip is often compared to series like Rod Serling’s Night Gallery and Twilight Zone, as well as comics anthologies like Tales from the Crypt. While I’m flattered by the Tales from the Crypt comparison, my models are a little different. Those stories were often humorous and tended to disrupt and then re-establish a moral order to the world. I don’t believe the world has an inherent moral order (the only one that’s present is the one that humans create) and I don’t like the mix humor with my horror. To that end, I look more to comics anthologies like Taboo as models.
Mostly I’m interested in psychological suspense, eerie ideas, and creepy scenarios.
2. How many have been published?
We’re currently serializing the 43rd short story on the website. In print, we’ve got 6 collections—each book is 144 pages, contains 6-8 stories, and retails for $15 in print and $3.99 in digital—and 6 or 7 single-story minicomics.
I’ve published the entire series myself. Self-publishing is a venerable part of the comics-making tradition and has been where some of the greatest comics makers have gotten their start or turned to create their most personal stories. I’m happy to be part of that tradition.
3. What made you want to create comic books?
For me, creating comics is the result of two impulses coming together.
First, I’ve been reading comics since I was a kid. I drifted away from them in high school and through college, but was re-introduced to the more mature, more sophisticated books being published by DC’s Vertigo imprint by a friend at the end of college. Finding those stories—100 Bullets, Preacher, Sandman—rekindled my love for the form.
The other impulse was to write. I’ve long wanted to be a writer or editor—one of my first childhood dreams for an adult job was to be a comics editor—and had been writing short fiction throughout high school and college. Once I was reading comics again, it seemed a pretty natural direction to try creating own.
4. Do you do all the illustrations or do you have a partner?
I’m stick to the writing—I’m a terrible artist! My collaborators include people like Kyle Strahm (Spread, Image Comics), John Bivens (Dark Engine, Image Comics), Sami Makkonen (Deadworld, IDW), and David Hitchcock (Springheel Jack, Titan Books), along with many others.
5. How long have you been creating comic books?
I wrote my first comic script 14 or 15 years ago, though that script—and some of the other early ones—were never produced. They sit in folders on my hard drive as interesting first efforts—interesting to me, at least—but that’s all. I started Split Lip in October 2006, so we’ll be hitting our 10-year anniversary next year!
If your readers would like to see what we’ve bene up to in that time, I invite them to come check out


  1. Can you tell us a little about your debut novel?BetweenTheNotesCover

BETWEEN THE NOTES is a story of friendship, first love, family, music, and what happens when life as you know it turns completely upside down. Sixteen-year-old Ivy Emerson’s family loses their home due to financial hardship caused in part by the cost of therapy for her disabled little brother. In moving from her affluent neighborhood to a small apartment, she must give up her most prized and necessary possession—her piano. Ivy’s music is a private outlet for her emotions (she suffers from a paralyzing stage fright, so never performs in public), and now it’s gone. Adapting to these changes—and trying to pretend that nothing has changed at all—proves difficult! Especially when a frustrating new boy next door tries to ruin everything…

  1. Is it a standalone book or part of a series?

It is a standalone, though I have an idea for a companion novel that would pick up the characters a year or two later as Ivy is going off to college. I don’t know if that will ever be written but I will certainly let you know if it is!

  1. Who inspired your main character?

Nobody inspired Ivy. She just gradually formed in my head. I did get some inspiration for the situation she faces from stories of people facing foreclosure on their houses. I imagined it happening to someone who had never really struggled financially before, though struggled with other things… and Ivy was born.

  1. Are you a plotter or do you just write whatever is in your head?

In the past I have written whatever is in my head, or have done so until I got stuck and had to plot out the rest. On the novel I am currently writing, which is on a fairly short deadline, I haven’t had that luxury so I outlined before writing. I do, however, let inspiration lead me astray. Characters have a wonderful habit of behaving in unexpected ways and I usually follow where they lead me, at least for a little while!

  1. Do you require silence when writing or do you need background noise?

I prefer silence. I did, however, listen to some of the music that is mentioned in BETWEEN THE NOTES while I was revising that novel. And sometimes I put on a white noise soundtrack of a thunderstorm.

  1. Are you writing your next book?

Yes, I am! I’m working on my second novel for HarperTeen. It’s called HOW TO DISAPPEAR. I’m just finishing up my first draft, and hope to share more about this book soon! It is scheduled for Winter 2017 publication.


Sharon Huss Roat lives in Delaware with her husband and two children. Her debut novel, BETWEEN THE NOTES was published by HarperCollins/HarperTeen in June 2016. When she’s not writing (or reading) books for young adults, you might find her planting vegetables in her backyard garden or sewing costumes for a school musical. Visit her online at or on Twitter @sharonwrote.


The cure for anything is saltwater –
sweat, tears, or the sea.
~Isak Dinesen

I love the sea. I’ve always loved it, although I haven’t always lived near it. I once thought I’d grow up to be an oceanographer or a marine biologist, but fate had other plans for me. And truth be told, the ocean can be a frightening thing. I’m always in awe of the men and women who are brave enough to sail it. I enjoy riding in boats, but I’m always glad to get back to dry land. I’m truly happiest on a beach.

My latest southern gothic novella, The Color of Water, was inspired by a trip to the North Carolina coast a few years back and a visit to the historic town of Beaufort. Beaufort is just about as old as a town gets in North America, founded in 1709. It’s seen the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and everything since. With all that history, you can imagine what a great graveyard it had. And ghosts. Lots of places in North Carolina have ghosts, but Beaufort has the best in my opinion. Pirates, merchants, soldiers, and little girls – there’s just about any type of ghost you might want there.

So Beaufort combines two things I adore – the ocean and history. When I visited, I knew immediately it would be the setting for my next book. The Color of Water is a novella, so it’s the perfect length for a rainy, fall afternoon, cozying up on the couch with a ghost story. Fans of love triangles and super sweet teen romance may be disappointed. The story is very much about the ebbs and flows of life and death, about holding on and letting go. It’s also about the connection of a parent to a child, so while there are some elements of a first love, it’s also about much more. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

~About the Book~

Life is unpredictable. Why would death be any different?

Sixteen year old Samantha’s Dad died in a sailing accident and her Mom’s moving them to the sleepy, backwater town of Beaufort, North Carolina, so they can make a new start. Afraid to sail again, Samantha takes her mind off the past by trying to solve the mystery of who’s killing young women on the island, only the killer is way more than your ordinary psychopath.

Turns out, the blood-thirsty ghost of Blackbeard returns to Beaufort on the high tide to collect the souls of beautiful young women and now he wants her mom. With only the help of a two-bit psychic and the ghost of a young, drowned sailor she might be falling in love with, Samantha struggles to save her mother. But Sam has some demons of her own to conquer first.

  ~ From Chapter One ~

   It’s funny what you notice when you’re dying. It’s not your breath or your heartbeat, or the ripple of your mind slowly coming undone. It’s what you love. For me, it’s the color of the water. First, it’s green like bottle glass. Then it’s deep, dark blue-black, like a midnight sky.

   The water seeps into my ears blocking everything else out. It creeps into my clothes, through the strands of my hair. It invades my nose, my mouth, and slides into my lungs, into my stomach. It envelopes me, claims me as its own. I’m going with it.

   And then something jerks me back. In the murky water, I can barely see what it is through my salt-blinded eyes. It’s Dad. He’s got me. He’s tugging on my vest, trying to unhitch the tether and I wonder why. Something breaks free and he pulls me up with him. The vest I’m wearing pops me up to the surface like a cork.

   On the surface, my lungs vomit out searing salt water, even as more angry waves bash us against the hull of the sloop. She’s completely upside down. Dad’s pushing my limp arms up on The Tempest, trying to make me grab a hold of something, anything to keep my head above water.


To celebrate the release, two lucky winners will win a free copy of the print book or e-book – your choice! Be sure to enter 🙂

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You can always find The Color of Water on Amazon 🙂 and Goodreads! and if you’d like to learn more about me, Lisa Cresswell, please visit my web site. Enjoy!


When I started writing CHICKEN it felt like I was doing something no one else was doing. I browsed the shelves at Barnes & Noble and saw the same few LGBTQ-themed novels I’d been seeing for ages. By the time I finished writing CHICKEN three years later, I couldn’t sign in to Twitter without seeing someone announce that the need for coming out novels was over, that they were sick of seeing novels about characters wrestling with being gay, and that it was time to enter a new era where characters who “just happen to be gay” could star in novels that had nothing to do with being gay.

Twitter is an amazing place to connect with fellow readers and writers, but things like that can make you crazy when you’ve got a WIP that lands within a hundred-yard radius of whatever “trend” has recently fallen out of favor. But after the initial reactionary panic stage—in which I wondered if I should scrap my story about two Arkansas boys falling in love in a Pentecostal church as it gears it up to celebrate National Wings of Glory Appreciation Day, and replace it with a story about a teenage astronaut stranded on Jupiter who gets to be casually gay because he’s on Jupiter, alone, 365 million miles away from Earth’s ever-growing population of evangelical Christians who believe it’s their God-appointed duty to terrorize children into choosing to be straight—I noticed something…

The vast majority of the people declaring themselves over YA novels where kids come to terms with being queer… were not kids struggling to come to terms with being queer. They were adults. They lived in big cities. They could run down to Barnes & Noble and snag a copy of Two Boys Kissing with their own money and leave it sitting face-up on their bedside table when they leave for work the next morning with absolute certainty that they won’t come home and find their mother sobbing and their father throwing their clothes into a trash bag.

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from, the ability to do that? Is still a privilege.

And until everyone can “just happen to be” reading a book with two boys (or girls) kissing on the cover without fear of repercussions at home or on the street, then there’s going to be a need for novels that tell queer kids, “I see you where you are.”

In the end, I reached a sort of compromise. I backed off In Space, No One Can Hear You Come Out Because You Don’t Have To, You Can Just Casually Be Gay Inside Your Head Until You Die In That Big Red Storm Spot Thingie, but I also decided to make my boy Casper’s coming out secondary to his falling wildly in love… and having that love wildly returned.

Listen, I’m a married-to-a-woman kind of man. I can walk into the bookstore blindfolded and dizzy and still manage to pin the tail on a book about a boy who falls in love (or a middle-aged English professor having inappropriate sex)with a girl. In the YA section, I can choose from dozens of books about boys and girls falling in love in a cancer ward, a dozen more about falling in love in a mental institution. I can choose from books where a boy and girl fall in love while fighting to the death and books where a boy and girl fall in love even though one of them is already dead. Any possible scenario that a boy and a girl could experience, no matter how tragic or disturbing, has been not only tackled but romanticized. But if you’re not a boy and a girl…


CHICKEN is my attempt to romanticize the hell out of kids like Casper and Brant who—to paraphrase Rihanna— “fall in love in a hopeless place.” I wrote it to say I see you. I see your Sunday morning poker face. I see you ripping up love notes instead of tucking them between the pages of your favorite book. I see you dancing with the wrong person at the prom. I see you pretending you’ve never been kissed. I see your heart skip when you realize you forgot to delete that text message. I see you, and as hard as it is, I won’t tell you it gets better, I will tell you it is good right now, however many moments you carve out. The way you laugh, the way you kiss, the way you touch whenever you get the chance is every bit as romantic as Katniss and Peeta or Hazel and Gus.

So listen, you don’t have to read my book, and you don’t have to like it if you do, but if you’re reading this right now, I want you to know that there are plenty of grown-ups out here who understand that no one ever “just happens to be” in love.


Chase Night was born and raised in Arkansas, which he claims is both far better and worse than everything that has been said. He graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a B.A. in Creative Writing, a mere thirteen years after first enrolling. He lives in Arkansas with his wife, three dogs, one cat, and an immortal garden snail. CHICKEN, a YA southern gothic romance, is his first novel.


Twitter: @thechasenight



  1. Can you tell us a little about your debut novel?10329018_10203807170168929_5467871160474347545_n

The Distant Shore was my debut novel. Released in January 2012 by Buddhapuss Ink, it’s the story of Jon Stone, a rock star who is getting on in life. On the brink of depression of alcoholism, he realizes that all his fame and money will never fill his lonely days. Enter the long lost love, Naomi, by way of a letter from a teenage son he never existed. Jon flies halfway round the world to find Naomi and the boy and finds much more than he expected.

It’s a very romantic story, but I wouldn’t call it a romance, really. It’s a novel about loss, regret, yearning, honesty, love, and trust. And it’s definitely about music, and creativity. Oh, and pretty dresses.

  1. Is it a standalone book or part of a series?

The Distant Shore is part of the Stone Series which consists of: a trilogy—The Distant Shore, Under the Same Sun, Song of the Storm, and two prequels—The Rosewood Guitar, Waiting for a Song.

  1. Who inspired your main character?

Oh dear… there’s a lot of Bruce Springsteen and Neil Diamond, a dash of  Bon Jovi, some David Grohl… but really, Jon Stone is his own man. Talented, bright, full of passion, with a good business head, an amazing composer and songwriter; he’s also a romantic who believes in true love, and that everything can be all right if you only try hard enough.

His wife Naomi isn’t based on any person at all. I made her up, but let’s just say that she lives the life I’d have loved to live myself. Please take this with a grain of salt, of course I’d kill to own her handbag collection!

  1. Are you a plotter or do you just write whatever is in your head?

You know, this is such a difficult question. A couple of years ago I’d have said “pantster” and been proud of it. Now, five books later, I realize that you can never, ever write a book without a certain amount of plotting. But there are many ways of plotting: some authors use huge spreadsheets, some use Scrivener or other writing apps, and some use their head. I’m in that last group. The story spins out in my mind, in those hours when I lie awake at night and listen and watch the story unfold. Sometimes I have entire conversations going on in my head!

I don’t plot on paper. I tried, and it so didn’t work for me. Writing down what I possibly want to have in the story… that process alone leaches all the joy of writing out of me. Why even bother with writing the novel anymore? It’s all there in the plot outline, isn’t it? There’s nothing to discover, no surprises–it has all been said already.

So–I’m a mental plotter, yes. But that’s as far I will go, no further.

  1. Do you require silence when writing or do you need background noise?

Both ways work for me. I wrote my first two novels in our living room while the kids were playing on the Playstation, and it never bothered me. Now I have an office of my own, and sometimes I write while I listen to music on my headphones, and sometimes it’s silent.

  1. Are you writing your next book?

Yes, I am!

I’ve written five books—the entire Stone Series—during the past three years. Then I took a six month break so I could step away from those beloved characters. That was a hard thing to do!

Now I’ve started working on a romance/mystery series called Sunset Bay which is set on Vancouver Island. A young woman, Liese Winter, arrives in the small town of Sunset Bay. She’s gone there to claim a cabin in the woods that she inherited from an aunt she’d never met.

Step by step she discovers a secret… I’m stopping here!

I will say, it’s a huge change from the high society, celebrity lifestyle of Jon and Naomi Stone to banking fireplaces in a stormy winter night, on the wild shores of the northern Pacific.

BIO: 10593167_10202423414815910_9188164231618883564_n

Growing up with a German mother and Indian father was sometimes more interesting than I could stand, but the food was always great. We moved around a lot while I was a kid. We lived in Saudi Arabia, then Germany, Brazil, and then Germany again, where we finally settled down. Eventually I married a Bavarian: the food is still great, but life is a lot calmer.


I started writing when I was fifty-three, after years of being a soccer mom with a basket full of volunteer jobs. What started as an impulsive thing became a burning passion, and then a profession.


We have two sons, two cats, but only one TV, and live in beautiful Hamburg, Germany.