Monday 25 May 2015

The Occasional Diamond Thief by J. A. McLachlan Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Welcome to the blog tour for The Occasional Diamond Thief. (isn't that an awesome title ;)) You can check out the full schedule HERE.

The Occasional Diamond Thief
Release Date: 05/15/15
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

"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,

Guest Post:

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 Natalie for having me here on Book Lover’s Life today. This blog tour is part of my online launch of The Occasional Diamond Thief, and 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: The Advice I Didn’t Want   
I have a couple of beta readers who are very tough on me. I don’t agree with everything they suggest, but most of it is spot on, and my novel is better for listening to them and making needed changes. It’s very hard to see the warts on your own story. You need an unbiased eye.
The advice I didn’t want to follow? The cover artist for The Occasional Diamond Thief send me three or four different covers. The one I liked had both main characters on the cover. I set up my three top choices for my launch team to comment and vote on, but I cheated a little. I had the cover artist add the real title etc. to the one I liked, so it looked finished and professional; but I had the artist just leave the words (title here) and (author here) on the other two covers. I loaded the dice, so to speak. Then I asked them to vote for their favorite.
One of the team members was one of my beta readers – she had already read the book and liked the same cover I liked, with both Kia and Agatha on it. We were both so excited to finally see the characters. But ALL the rest of the team, who had not read the book yet, liked this cover, with Kia in a sheet of blue hail. It was eye-catching, different, mysterious. It made them curious.
Nothing I could say swayed them. I set the whole thing up to listen to their advice and they weren’t telling what I wanted to hear. Finally, I realized that I would be selling this book to people who hadn’t read it yet. People like those in my launch team. So I took their advice and went with this cover. It was hard, but I’m so glad I did. Everyone who sees it likes it – I’ve had so many compliments on it.
I am determined, though, to use that cover with both characters on it for a future book about Kia and Agatha!

Short Story Excerpt:
(This excerpt is the beginning of a short story involving the MC of The Occasional Diamond Thief, Kia—it takes place immediately after The Occasional Diamond Thief.)
"You're different."
I take a bite of my chicken wrap, momentarily distracted by how good it tastes after four months of eating fish on Malem, and think about Jaro’s comment. If this was any other student at the College of Translators I would simply walk off. But this is Jaro, my friend. Which doesn’t mean I’m going to spill my guts to him about what happened on Malem.
I swallow, take a drink, and say, "Think I'll have trouble fitting in now?"
Jaro laughs. I feel ridiculously pleased. As if I ever did fit in, we’re both thinking, but I can joke about it now. To Jaro, anyway. I take another bite of my wrap to avoid ruining the moment by grinning.
"How's your Kandaran?"
I look at him, feeling my eyes narrow. Kandaran’s a sore spot with me. I’ve been working on that language for five months, and I’m still making stupid mistakes.
Jaro raises one eyebrow. “You know the Kandarans are hosting the Salarian nightgames this year, right?”
I focus on eating. “I’ve heard.”
He grins. “Looking forward to it?”
To hell with it, I think, ready to toss my earlier success and tell him where to stuff it as soon as I swallow my mouthful of tasteless chicken.
Jaro laughs, as though he knows exactly what I’m thinking. “No one knows Kandaran perfectly, Kia. Even the Kandaran’s can’t speak Kandaran.”
I’m familiar with the saying, but that’s no consolation. I hate translating before I feel I’ve got a language down perfect. I’m not crazy about going to the Salarian nightgames, either. Every five years the Salarians here on Seraffa open their gambling casino to the public, hoping to find new players. Their embassy is big enough for their regulars, who come on select dates by invitation only, but it’s not large enough to host an open house. The Kandarans are the only ones willing to rent them space, despite the huge payment they offer, so that’s where it’s held.
Of course, they need a duneful of translators. So half the students in my Kandaran class were signed up—the half who aren’t failing yet—as student translators for the event. No choice. We don’t make moral judgements, we just translate, our Kandaran teacher told us—which is about as strong a condemnation as you’ll ever hear from a translator.
“I have to go,” I mutter.
“Yeah, I’m going, too,” he says cheerfully.
I choke on the last of my chicken and have to grab my drink. “What do you mean you’re going? You don’t know Kandaran.”
“Maybe you want to rephrase that?”
There’s a reason Jaro’s popular and I’m not, I remind myself, as I try for a more diplomatic response. “You’re an asset anywhere, Jaro.” It’s true. Jaro’s social skills are a huge advantage to a translator. He has an intuitive understanding of people that crosses cultures and smooths away minor verbal misunderstandings. “But I’m surprised you’re going when you haven’t studied Kandaran.”
“Much better,” Jaro says.
“So why are you going?” I snap. When it comes to Kandarans and Salarians, there are no minor misunderstandings.
“I’ll be translating for the Coralese, the Edoans and everyone else wanting to risk their futures to line the Salarian gambling house with riches. If I get into any trouble, you can protect me. You’re taking that self-defence course, aren’t you?” Jaro isn’t a big guy but he’s fit, solid muscle, and even at average height, he towers over me. He’s smiling, though, and no one can resist Jaro’s smile. “We can get out back-to-back if we need to.”
I have to laugh at the image of us fighting our way out of the Kandaran embassy back-to-back. “Back-to-knees,” I correct him.
“I’d rather you had half my back than anyone else had all of it,” he says. Then, as I feel my face heating up, he adds, “you worries much. What possible go wrong?” in broken Kandaran.
The Kandaran embassy is as big as the Newtarion embassy, the two largest embassies on my home planet, Seraffa. By comparison, however, it’s almost shabby with its dull clay bricks, its unimaginative square design and minimal number of windows. Two burly Kandaran guards stand at the open door. They look at Jaro and me in our student translator’s uniforms like they’re disappointed and scan the guests arriving behind us hopefully. I assume they’re looking for someone who might be trouble.
I get a bad feeling just walking up to the door. I’ve met guards like these before, and there’ll be more Kandarans inside, a race in whose language fighting and breathing are homonyms.  Add to that the Salarians, as subtle as snakes and the most easily offended people in the galaxy. We’re expected to translate for them while our teachers circulate, watching and, more than likely, deciding right here whether to pass or fail us this semester. If I could, I’d turn and leave now. I almost envy my older brother and sister, both traders piloting our family ship, the Homestar. They don’t have to worry about a misplaced phoneme ending their career. You can see an asteroid coming, and dodge.   
Jaro smiles at the door guards. “Embassy beautiful,” he says, his Kandaran grammar as terrible as his accent. Their rough faces crease into welcoming smiles, as though mangling their language is a compliment. It probably is, and Jaro more than likely did it intentionally; he’s had plenty of time, and the talent, to get two words right even if he doesn’t speak the language.
There’s no air conditioning inside—Kandarans come from an even hotter world than Seraffa—which explains the open doors. Immediately, we’re in a huge open room—no foyer, no set of second doors, and no inside guards. There isn’t a Kandaran alive, male or female, who would admit to needing a guard to defend him- or herself.
There aren’t any Salarian guards, either, just the dealers and operators standing by their comps or tables, and those who are here as hostesses, greeting and evaluating their guests. The small, compact female Salarians believe that death is fated: if they didn’t see it coming in time to prevent it, it’s a justified culling.
I think I’m prepared for anything until I see the huge screen in the middle of the floor. Two young Salarians are standing on a ledge above a glass tub of water. The girls are naked and sweating and dirty—desert girls probably, who figured signing their waivers gave them a better chance of survival than death by dehydration. They’ve probably never seen so much precious water as this tub holds in all their lives. Of course, they’re not really here, they’re back on Salaria—even with waivers we’d never permit this on Seraffa—but the image is real-time. The girls stare into the screen looking as tough as two starving teenagers can make themselves look, while the raucous betting, both on Salaria and here in front of the screen, escalates. One of them snarls, thin-lipped, into the camera, trying to get her sponsor more bets; the other looks at us, her green eyes filled with silent contempt. She’s the one I’d bet on.
I look away, sickened by my thought, as they step off the ledge into the deep tub of water. Will they try to drown each other? Unless they drown together, one of them will be pulled out when the other dies, and win enough money to stake her in a position for life. That’s one way to survive. Both of them can survive if they manage to stay afloat all evening.  Five hours—that’s how long they have to last, girls who have never stepped foot in water before. There’s a bonus for them if they last that long, because the betting keeps going on all night. I know all this from the special lecture those of us who’d be coming as student translators had to attend—but it’s different actually seeing it, knowing it’s happening right now. And there’s no way I’ll be able to escape it. The screen is four-sided, visible everywhere in the room.

… to be continued soon on:

About the Author
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.

Author Links:
 photo iconwebsite-32x32_zps1f477f69.png  photo icongoodreads32_zps60f83491.png  photo icontwitter-32x32_zpsae13e2b2.png  photo iconfacebook-32x32_zps64a79d4a.png


a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I enjoyed the excerpt, thank you.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Michelle and Rita. I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpt, Natalie. The entire short story will unfold this week in 5 parts on various stops on the tour. Hope you enjoy it.

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to do the post. It is awesome.