May 26, 2015

The Occasional Diamond Thief Tour: Guest Post, Excerpt + Giveaway

YA Bound Book Tours is organizing a Blog Tour for: The Occasional Diamond Thief by J.A. McLachlanThis tour will run from May 18th to May 29th. Check out the full blog tour schedule below:

The Occasional Diamond Thief
Author: J.A. McLachlan 
Release Date: May 15, 2015
Publisher: EDGE Publishing

Summary from Goodreads:

What if you learned your father was a thief? Would you follow in his footsteps, learn his "trade"? If you were the only one who knew, would you keep his secret?

When 16-yr-old Kia is training to be a universal translator, she is co-opted into traveling as a translator to Malem. This is the last place in the universe that Kia wants to be—it’s the planet where her father caught the terrible illness that killed him—but it’s also where he got the magnificent diamond that only she knows about. Kia is convinced he stole it, as it is illegal for any off-worlder to possess a Malemese diamond.

Using her skill in languages – and another skill she picked up, the skill of picking locks - Kia unravels the secret of the mysterious gem and learns what she must do to set things right: return the diamond to its original owner.

But how will she find out who that is when no one can know that she, an off-worlder, has a Malemese diamond? Can she trust the new friends she’s made on Malem, especially handsome but mysterious 17-year-old Jumal, to help her? And will she solve the puzzle in time to save Agatha, the last person she would have expected to become her closest friend?

Kia is quirky, with an ironic sense of humor, and a loner. Her sidekick, Agatha, is hopeless in languages and naive to the point of idiocy in Kia's opinion, but possesses the wisdom and compassion Kia needs.

Buy Links:

EDGE Publishing has a Thank you Gift for anyone who buys the print version of the book.  If they send an email to with their Amazon receipt, they will receive a copy of a short story that features Kia.

 Praise for The Occasional Diamond Thief by J. A. McLachlan
*** "J. A. McLachlan is a terrific writer -- wry and witty, with a keen eye
for detail. I've been following her work with interest and delight since
2003. In a world where young-adult fiction is booming, The Occasional
Diamond Thief propels McLachlan to the front of the pack." -- Robert J.
Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of FlashForward

"The story is full of humor, danger, fun, and adventure. This is Science
Fiction anyone would love." -- J. Jones, VINE VOICE

"Flawless--The Occasional Diamond Thief was one of those rare stories
where I found myself hanging onto every word. McLachlan delivers a
fast-paced, unpredictable story with perfectly-executed twists.
Descriptions were succinct and epigrammatic with no room for boredom. It
felt so real, it was almost like being in the theater with a surprise
treat at the end. Much like the theater, once the credits have started to
roll and the crowd starts to thin, there was a snippet at the end that you
do not want to miss." --

"Loved it! I haven't read a heroine I loved this much since Katniss
Everdeen. McLachlan's Kia is smart, tough and hilarious, and pairing her
with serene, forgiving Agatha left me laughing long after I finished the
story. The settings were vivid, the plot raced along, and the themes kept
me turning pages. McLachlan combines her love of science fiction, ethics
and good, old-fashioned storytelling in The Occasional Diamond Thief, and
the results couldn't be better. I loved every page." -- Amanda Darling,

"J. A. McLachlan is a remarkable creator of worlds, a remarkable creator
of character, a master of suspense. In short, a remarkable storyteller.
You don’t have to be a young adult to love this book." -- Sheryl Loeffler,
Writer, A Land in the Storytelling Sea

Hello, I’m J. A. McLachlan, the author of The Occasional Diamond Thief. I’m so pleased to be meeting you, and I’d like to thank Stephanie for having me here today on A Dream Within a Dream. On this blog tour of The Occasional Diamond Thief, I’ll have something different at each stop – book excerpts, author and character reveals, vlogs, reviews and blog posts – for you to enjoy. You can find The Occasional Diamond Thief in print: and in ebook form: And you can find me at: 

Guest Post: Writing and Dreaming

I love the name of this blog. It reminds me of the similarity between a dream and a story. In fact, the first novel I wrote came from a vivid dream, and I’ve written several short stories based on dreams. When you are asleep, your mind is relaxed, under no pressure, and free of distractions—the perfect atmosphere for creativity.

When I’m writing, I need conditions as close to that dream-state as possible. I need quiet and no interruptions. I go into my writing room alone, and shut the door. That’s my signal not to talk to me unless the house is on fire. I often write late at night when everyone’s gone to bed. And I try to write every day. If I miss a few days, it takes a while to get back into the story, and besides, it makes me cranky. Not writing is like sleep deprivation for me.

I dream frequently, and I have what I call “loud” dreams: very vivid, memorable, emotionally-charged dreams. I always know what my dreams mean—after all, dreams work through symbols and metaphors, the tools of a writer’s trade. A dream is your unconscious telling you a story that will help you work through something in your life.

So it’s natural for me to use dreams in my novels—a dream within a dream—to show a variety of things. Story-dreams create atmosphere; they show the characters’ feelings toward a situation or toward other characters; they reveal truths that a character may have trouble consciously acknowledging; or give warnings the character either ignores or follows.

My main character, Kia, has several dreams in The Occasional Diamond Thief. They reveal character, advance plot, and contribute to the atmosphere and themes in the novel.

(A Select is a member of the Order of Universal Benevolence, which is an amalgamation of the major human religions of Old Earth. In this excerpt, Kia and Select Agatha, along with Hamza, the retiring Select whom Agatha is replacing, are first meeting the Queen of the planet Malem, shortly after their arrival. Hamza and Agatha switch between speaking Odoan, a language neither the Queen nor her guards understand, and speaking Malemese.) 

The Queen is seated on the middle chair, her back regally straight.

Our footsteps echo on the stone floor as we approach, our heads bowed. Out of the corner of my eye I see her tap her fingers lightly on the arm of her chair. A huge Malemese diamond sparkles on one of those fingers.

Agatha and I curtsey low in front of her, Hamza bowing beside us. Coming up, I glance quickly at the Queen. She is wearing a dark blue robe that follows the lines of her willowy figure, the wool fine and soft and embroidered at neck and bodice with intricate designs in gold thread. Her raven hair is tightly bound behind her head, revealing a heart-shaped face. Her dark eyes are large and wide-set, rimmed by long black lashes that make a striking contrast against her sand-brown skin. She looks only a little older than Agatha—early thirties, maybe—and I remember Hamza telling us the King assumed the throne at age sixteen, when his parents died in the plague, and married the Queen that year. She turns her head slightly, catches me looking at her and returns a gaze so cold and imperious I quickly look back down.

“Select,” the Queen nods stiffly to Hamza. “And this must be the new Select.” She looks at Agatha with even more disdain than she turned on Hamza.

“And your servant.”

Not sure what to do, I bob my head nervously and glance up again. The Queen is staring at me with an expression of animosity.

I can barely swallow. Now, too late, I believe everything Hamza said about this woman. Why has she called us here? And why did she include me, whom she believes to be a mere servant, in the invitation?

“The new Select’s language teacher, your Majesty, not a servant,” Hamza murmurs with another bow.

The Queen waves her hand, as though an insect has irritated her.

“Your name?”

I open my mouth, but nothing comes out. I swallow. “Kia, your Majesty.” Why is she interested in me? A feeling of dread settles in my gut.

She taps her fingers once against the arm of her chair. “Your full name.”

“Kia… Ugiagbe.”

“As I thought. Seize her!”

I freeze in a half-curtsey, disbelieving, while two guards rush forward and grab my arms.

“What’s happening?” Agatha gasps.

“Select!” I cry. Hamza does not move or speak but his eyes dart between the Queen and me.

“Take her to prison,” the Queen orders.

“No!” Agatha cries in Malemese. Then, in Edoan, “What are they doing—”

“Quiet!” Hamza hisses in Edoan.

“We can’t just let her be taken away!” Agatha appears about to throw herself in front of the guards as they start to drag me out, but Hamza grabs her and pulls her back.

“You are here to help the people of Malem, to bring them into the Alliance. Don’t sacrifice that for one insignificant girl.” They’re both speaking Edoan in tense undertones. A third guard stations himself beside them, his hand on his weapon.

They stand there watching as I’m dragged out of the room.
J. A. McLachlan was born in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of a short story collection, CONNECTIONS, and two College textbooks on Professional Ethics. But speculative fiction is her first love, a genre she has been reading all her life, and The Occasional Diamond Thief is her second in that genre, a young adult science fiction novel, published by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing. After over a decade as a college teacher, she is happy to work from home as a full-time author now.

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