Fantasy

Digitarum

Digitarum - Derek Bailey

This was a book unlike anything I've ever read. Watching a world being built from nothing was exciting and enjoyable. I was fascinated to see how the gods would learn to interact with one another and with their creations. 

The characters are well developed, regardless of whether they were one of the five gods, or one of the creations that routinely interacted with the gods. 

The plot was detailed, intricate, and overall well put together. With so many twists and turns,  I can appreciate all the time and effort it must have taken to keep the timeline straight. 

In addition, I really liked that this was a book that you could led the author lead you through, not bothering to read between the lines, and just enjoy the journey that you're taken on,  or alternatively, you could really dig in and read between the lines. I could see myself rereading this book down the road and making realizations that I had missed during my first reading. 

Bailey's writing style is one that is easy to read and holds you captive until the final page. If you're looking for something new and unique to enjoy, I recommend this. 


Some Bio Information

Derek Bailey is a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University’s Game Design and Development Program (BA) where he also completed minor in Creative Writing. He is a graduate of the four year Honors Program, was President of the Game Design and Development Club, served as a Peer  Educator, and frequently acted as a Lector during Sunday Mass on campus. He has a passion for storytelling in all forms and across a number of genres. He has ghostwritten a science fiction novel and submitted other pieces of work to various publishers. He’s happily employed as a Business Systems Analyst, but enjoys writing on the side as a means of expressing himself and sharing his thoughts on life.  


Q&A

1) What inspired you to write this book? 

Digitarum is inspired by my love for world mythologies and religions. Myths, legends, folklore, parables, and fables were some of the first types of stories that mankind cherished so I thought it would be appropriate to try out indie authorship with a sort of mythology of my own.

2) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

It involves a lot of thinking. I try to be very thorough in mapping everything out very carefully with the understanding that stuff will shift around once I actually dive into the writing phase and the story begins to take a life of its own. I also always try to start off my process with both a beginning and an ending then fill in the space in between, though I generally still actually write the story from beginning to end.

3) What types of readers would most enjoy your work? 

I think this question will be very different for what I'm working on right now, but for Digitarum, I'd say that you definitely have to love myths and folklore in order to fully appreciate it. The distant sort of tone that marks this style of fiction is employed heavily here so if you don't like it, then my book definitely won't resonate well with you. I think you also have to have a decent amount of interest in world-building since the book is really about a world/culture as opposed to a single character which has thrown some readers off a little since most science fiction and fantasy centers around a well developed character or set of characters.

4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?

First of all, I hope they have fun reading it, because it was great fun to write it. I also hope it makes them think about things in their life and the world around them. I touch upon some relatively serious topics in this book, but I hope that readers take them more as questions than an expression of any particular opinion. I think fiction should make us ponder existence as we know it and my favorite books tend to be the ones that leave me wondering about something so that's the kind of experience I'd love for my readers to have too.

5) Who is your favorite fictional character? 

That would have to be Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby. I love that he's kind of a bait-and-switch character in some respects. He's everything that's bright and beautiful and bold about a man living in the twenties while simultaneously also being the embodiment of everything that's dark and depressing. I think it's quite masterful the way that he's first introduced as this extraordinary man of great wealth and flare, but as we read on we realize he's got more than his fair share of personal issues, yet he's still likable somehow. There's just a lot of depth to him and I think he serves as a rather provocative statement about both the era he exists in as well as about wealth and status itself. 

6) How would you describe your writing style? 

It's a little old-timey in a way. I tend to write with long, sloping sentences and like to use somewhat irregular words (I blame my high school English teachers for drilling so many words into me with the relentless vocab quizzes). I'm also very visual in how I depict any piece of fiction I write. I'm visually oriented in general and really love movies with flashy action sequences or sharp imagery so I try to take some of that magic and translate it into a literary context.

7) What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

I'm sorry to say that my goals are actually rather boring. I don't really have ambitions to be the next J.R.R. Tolkein or anything like that. I just want to share my fiction with others, hopefully have some people read and enjoy it, and maybe build up a small, but loyal following along the way. If my work was to be considered a cult classic at some point, I would feel very proud for sure. 

Call of Kythshire

Call of Kythshire - Missy Sheldrake

I always get excited about a good fairy tale, and Call of Kythshire did not disappoint.

I loved all of the characters and had no trouble getting caught up in the plot. But be forewarned, this is definitely a story that focuses on a lot of world building. It's easy to miss part of the plot if you're not reading carefully. But the plot moves at such a pace that it's easy to maintain a steady reading flow and catch all of the excitement that the author throws your way. 

The writing is excellent and the dialogue is smooth and easy to follow. I had a lot of fun learning about all of the characters and found this new world that they were exploring just as exciting as they did. 

Very very enjoyable. 


Some Bio Information

Missy Sheldrake grew up in rural Connecticut (yes, there is such a place!), the daughter of a blue collar dad and homemaker mom. Together they taught her to follow her dreams, and that true love is real.

She attended Western Connecticut State University to study Illustration and painting, and earned a BS in both. She was halfway through her Masters in Painting when she met her true love in an online video game and moved down the coast to the suburbs of Washington D. C. for her happily ever after. 

Missy, her husband, and their now elementary-aged son forge bravely ahead as a family through the traffic-congested adventure of life in Northern Virginia.

In addition to being an author, mom, wife, and pop-culture fan, Missy is an illustrator, mural painter, and art doll sculptor. The scope of her creations can be viewed at www.missysheldrake.com


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

Several years ago, I played an online role-playing video game, and my friends and I acted out the characters we played in game. One of my characters was Azaeli Hammerfel, a Paladin. I spent a lot of time writing out of game with friends, mostly stories for message boards. I wrote a long backstory for Azaeli, the paladin who was cursed and had to relinquish her sword in favor of becoming a Mage.  Azi’s story eventually turned into a novel, which won first place in its category in a state-wide contest. 

With the help of a writing group I had joined for a children’s book I was writing and illustrating, I polished up my manuscript and sent it to the publisher who had judged the contest. Months later I received my very first rejection letter (the story wasn’t as epic as she had hoped). 

At the time I was studying for my Masters in Painting, so I filed the story away in a drawer and forgot about it. 

2. Was there a deciding point in your life that made you want to become an author?

To be perfectly honest, even with two novels published, I still don’t think of myself as primarily an author! I’m also an illustrator, a freelance artist, a mural painter, and a doll sculptor.  I enjoy telling stories through a variety of media. Words are just one of the storytelling tools available to me, and we’re just beginning our adventures together.

I started seriously thinking about rehashing Azi’s old story when my freelance art opportunities were in a slump and I was looking for other ways to keep the creative juices flowing. A few of my friends had written during NaNoWriMo and later published independently, so I had a lot of support, guidance, and inspiration from them.

3. Are there any authors who influence your writing?

There are so many authors that have influenced my decision to start writing the Keepers of the Wellsprings series. Aside from my author friends, J.K. Rowling was a huge influence. I love her flowing narrative style and the depth of her characters and plotlines. I love how her stories are categorized for a younger audience but appeal to generations of readers. I was also influenced in some ways by Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth and many of the current popular YA authors. I was in the middle of reading Divergent when I thought to myself, “Hey, I have a story to tell, too, and I can do this.”

4. Can you tell me a little bit about your writing process?

I’m going to steal from Roth here and use a term I read at the end of her book: Word vomit. I write it all out and edit later. 

Usually I have a sweeping idea for the plot and I just sit down and write what comes to me.  I try to do outlines, I really do. I try to make a plan. I have a whole notebook full of plans. I have the best intentions to stick with them, too, until the fairies get into my head. The characters have their own ideas, and I just kind of let them take over. It’s more fun that way. It makes it an adventure for me, too.

5. Who is your favorite character in your work?

How can you even ask that question? You should know better! If you had to twist my arm I’d say Tib. He doesn’t come in until the second book, but currently he’s my favorite. He’s 12, and a former slave with lots of anger issues. He gets pulled into a plot he doesn’t want to have anything to do with. He hates magic and fairies, but the situation he’s thrust into earns him some seriously cool abilities.

But then there’s Azi, the aspiring Knight, and Rian, her adorably cheeky Mage Apprentice boyfriend, and all of the members of His Majesty’s Elite, and Saesa, and the princess, and the Sorceress Viala, and creepy Prince Eron, and the fairies! OH MY GOSH! How could I forget the fairies? I mean, Flit! FLIT! Please don’t tell her I forgot her. I can hear her now. Typical, she’d say. 

Okay, honestly, how can you ask me that question?

6. How would you describe your writing style?

Fun, narrative, flowing, easy to read, appealing to all audiences. I write in the first person present perspective because it allows me to really get into my characters’ heads and I hope it really gets the reader into their heads, too. 

I try hard to have a good balance between descriptive passages and dialogue, and while I make an effort not to be repetitive in my phrasing and vocabulary, I avoid overly flowery prose. As a reader, I find it distracting when the author gets overly zealous with pretentious wording. I prefer straightforward, quick-to-read storytelling. I don’t take myself too seriously.

It’s supposed to be fun, right?

7. What is your ultimate writing goal?

My biggest goal is to reach a wide audience and create a rapport with my fans. I don’t want to be a famous millionaire, but I want my stories and characters to be loved as much as I love them, and it’d be great to get some fan mail! Find me on Twitter and Facebook and drop me a line.

My ultimate dream is to have Call of Kythshire and the rest of the Keepers of the Wellsprings series turned into a major motion picture.

The Unrevealed

The Unrevealed - Jason Porter and Lara Marie Collinsworth

As the cover of this book would suggest (along with the title), The Unrevealed is a bit of a whirlwind plot. 

You're immediately thrown into the life of Haze as he's thrown a curve ball of his own. And despite his less than legal actions in retaliation, I felt for him and immediately took a liking to him. 

The plot moves so fast to begin with that I had a hard time keeping up, but at the same time, it was near impossible to stop turning the pages (electronically speaking). 

By the end of the book I was left with more questions than answers, but the great dialogue, realistic and in depth characters, and great action sequences made the journey a fun one. 

If you're looking for something a little unique and out of your ordinary reading realm, then The Unrevealed is worth your time. 


Some Bio Information

After discovering that cannabis was the only treatment for his rare illness, long-time poet Jason Porter Collinsworth became an ardent advocate for medical marijuana.  He founded and became head breeder of Love Genetics, an innovative boutique cannabis breeding organization in California that focuses on high CBD and THC strains. He has written an extensive amount of poetry, some of which is published in his anthology, Tearing Apart a Whisper. Jason also co-authored The Unrevealed, the first cannabis superhero adventure novel of its kind, with his wife, Lara Marie Collinsworth. In his free time, Jason enjoys photographing life, composing poetry, growing, making soap, and creating interesting recipes. He lives with his two beautiful children and his lovely wife in California.

Lara Marie Collinsworth began writing fantasy stories at the early age of seven.  Her passion for writing only grew from there.  She worked as an editor for a literary magazine, earned her BA in English, and became a high school English teacher.  After developing a serious medical condition, Lara left teaching and now focuses exclusively on writing and studying yoga.  She published her first novel, The Unrevealed, as a collaboration piece with her husband, Jason Porter Collinsworth.  She and Jason are currently working on their second novel, The Convergence, and several short stories.  They live in California with their two children and three cats.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

Our own lives and stories inspired us to write The Unrevealed series and to spread the word about the healing and curative nature of cannabis in an entertaining package. We hope that we can potentially reach mainstream society with such an important message.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

First, Jason and I created the universe for the series and the main character descriptions and plot lines.  Next, we outlined and brainstormed the chapters one at a time, and then Jason composed the text orally like telling a story.  I directly transcribed what he said, and later we went back over the chapters together.  When we finished, we spent about a year editing and revising the novel in its entirety.

3. Who is your favorite character within The Unrevealed?

Haze.  He’s got this sexy, charming bad boy thing goin’ on, while at the same time truly caring about people and doing whatever he can to help them.  Plus, you never know what he’ll do or say next.  He’s exciting.

4. How long did it take you to complete this book?

We wrote the first draft in 5 months, and then it took about a year to edit and revise.

5. How would you describe your writing style?

Our style is edgy, poetic personal narrative like if Hunter S. Thompson and Sylvia Path collaborated to write a superhero novel based on their real lives.

6. What would you like your readers to take away from your work?

We hope our readers find high times on the wild ride and leave with a greater appreciation and understanding of the benefits of cannabis.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

Jason:  I hope to someday write a piece of literature that becomes so much more than a book in somebody’s life, something that actually becomes a life event that they remember, a piece of art they celebrate forever because of how much the language or wisdom impacted their soul like The Alchemist and Stone Junction did for me.

Lara:  My goal is just to write, and then see what happens.

School of Deaths

School of Deaths - Christopher Mannino

To start with, I absolutely adored this book. Not only was the main character a wonderful and well written (did I mention STRONG) young woman, but the plot is wonderfully thought out and well paced. 

I completely fell for Suzie, empathized with her struggle, and appreciated her growth throughout the book. Not knowing who to trust is enough to drive anyone insane, but she handles it wonderfully and learns to trust her own instincts throughout her journey. 

I enjoyed reading about grim reapers as it was a nice and refreshing take on the paranormal genre for me. I particularly love that the author chooses to break one of the common rules of young adult literature. And that's all I can say without giving away too much of the plot. 

Great work. Highly recommended. I'm anxious to read more. 


Some Bio Information

Christopher Mannino’s life is best described as an unending creative outlet.  He teaches high school theatre in Greenbelt, Maryland.  In addition to his daily drama classes, he runs several after-school performance/production drama groups.  He spends his summers writing and singing.  Mannino holds a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Catholic University, and has studied mythology and literature both in America and at Oxford University.  His work with young people helped inspire him to write young adult fantasy, although it was his love of reading that truly brought his writing to life.  

Mannino is currently completing The Scythe Wielder's Secret series and is working on several adult novels.


Q&A

1. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

Ideas for new novels come all the time, at the least likely moments. Generally when I have an idea for a totally new book, I jot it down in a journal where I keep book ideas- I currently have about twenty novel ideas, spanning many genres, planned.

Once I move from an idea to drafting, I start by creating sort of a “visual outline.” This is basically a set of images or specific pictures that I see happening at various points in the novel. I don’t always know exactly how they’ll connect at this stage.

I draft mostly on the spot. As a full-time teacher, this usually happens during the summer months. Each summer I try to draft one new novel. I usually start at the beginning, and write until I reach the end. Then, during free time in the school year, I start to re-read and edit, before sending it to the publisher for the professional editing stages to begin.

2. What inspired you to write this book? 

In 2011, I spent my final semester of graduate school studying abroad at Oxford. As part of my experience in England, I decided to travel at least once a week to somewhere I’d never visited before. On one such trip, I became stranded in Tintagel, a castle ruin and supposed birthplace of King Arthur. Tintagel lies on the northern coast of Cornwall, in a poor, rural part of the country. I had no car, and the next bus didn’t come for another day. I walked pub to pub, asking to rent a room for the night, so I’d have a place to sleep. One pub said yes, but it turned out to be a noisy place.

The next morning, having slept little, I climbed out to Barras Nose, a promontory of sheer rock cliffs with few paths, overlooking the castle ruins down the coast. It was before dawn, there were no people anywhere in sight, and no railings at the sides of the fifty foot cliffs. Fierce winds blew from every direction, and I had to crawl on all fours across the rocks, to watch the dawn from the edge. I feared I might get blown into the sea. I imagined a character, completely alone in a foreign environment, attacked fiercely from every direction. This eventually became the character of Susan Sarnio. In the initial draft, Susan was actually a boy, but I changed the character to a girl, the only girl, to increase her isolation.

3. Who is your favorite fictional character? 

Probably “Wesley” from “The Princess Bride”

4. Describe Suzie in three words. 

persistent, curious, resilient

5. How would you describe your writing style?

This is honestly a tough question, as just in the three books in this series, my style has evolved and grown. I feel that describing visual and imaginative imagery tends to be my biggest strength. 

6. Do you have a favorite author? If so, who?

Tolkien

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

Just like other writers, I’d love to come to a point where I could write full-time, and fully share all the stories I want to tell. On a note more personal to me, as a theatre person, it’d be wonderful to be involved with creating a stage adaptation of one of my novels. I think I’d enjoy that process even more than if a book was made into a movie.

Blade's Edge

Blade's Edge - Virginia McClain

I was not prepared for the depth that this book presented me with. I tend to make it a habit to not reread a book's brief summary/synopsis/teaser before I dive into it, and with a reading list of 200 books, I don't always have a recollection of what each individual book was about. 

So as I began reading Blade's Edge by McClain, I was caught off guard by the genre and the overall plot. Both Taka and Mishi are strong female leads who I quickly grew attached to. Throughout the book they overcome obstacle after obstacle, learning to take care of themselves and to think outside of the world they were brought into. 

This book is well written, the plot flows smoothly, and the characters are exceptionally well developed. I look forward to (hopefully???) the follow up of this book. 


Some Bio Information

Virginia thinks dangling from the tops of hundred foot cliffs is a good time. She also enjoys hauling a fifty pound backpack all over the Grand Canyon and sleeping under the stars. Sometimes she likes running for miles through the desert, mountains, or wooded flatlands, and she always loves getting lost in new places where she may or may not speak the language.

From surviving earthquakes in Japan, to putting out a small forest fire in Montana, Virginia has been collecting stories from a very young age. She works hard to make her fiction as adventurous as her life and her life as adventurous as her fiction. Both take a lot of imagination.

She recently moved to Winnipeg with her husband and their dog.

website: http://www.virginiamcclain.com
twitter: http://twitter.com/gwendamned
facebook: http://facebook.com/virginiamcclainauthor


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

As I was living in Japan and spending a lot of time hiking to secluded mountain shrines and temples, I started to wonder what it would be like if all of the shinto spirits were actually real and able to influence the world. Then I started to wonder what magic would be like if it were based on certain zen meditation practices. Ultimately, the book became something very different than a simple answer to those questions, but it was how the initial spark for the story started. 

2. How much research did you complete for this plot?

In some ways years and years worth and in other ways none. The world I created is entirely fictional and only inspired by feudal Japan so I didn't do the kind of fact checking I would have done if the story had been historical fiction. However, the inspiration taken from feudal Japanese samurai culture came from years of interest in the topic and unofficial study. I've been interested in feudal Japan since I was about 12 years old, and between training in Japanese martial arts, reading history and historical fiction, and living in Japan, I spent about 20 years "researching" this book. 

3. What well known author would you compare yourself to?

That's a difficult one... I'm not sure I can answer it objectively, and I hesitate to compare myself to anyone well known. What I will say is that I think that people who enjoy the writing of Tamora Pierce, RA Salvatore, and Anne Bishop might like my work. 

4. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

I write first drafts very quickly and without much planning. Then I do a ton of planning for my revisions and complete them much more slowly. I used to hate revision until I learned to treat it like a giant puzzle wherein you figure out how to take the pieces of what you actually wrote and turn them into what you meant to write.

5. Describe the perfect writing environment. 

For me this varies. The times when I am most productive are either: a. when I am at my standing desk, listening to instrumental music via headphones and rocking out while writing, or b. when I am in the park with my laptop on a sunny day lounging on a blanket with my dog and no internet. Either one of those tends to get me churning out new words. 

6. What would you like readers to take away from your work?

I like to think that every reader will take away something different from any piece of my writing, and I don't feel the need to dictate what that is. However, a common theme in all my writing is women kicking ass and taking names. Make of that what you will. 

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

For my writing to pay the bills. Don't get me wrong, I'm not in this for the money, but I would love for my writing to sustain me financially the way it sustains me emotionally/mentally. I can't live without writing as it is, so it would be lovely if it could also pay to put food in my belly and a roof overhead.

A Heart of Black Fire

A Heart of Black Fire - Seth Frederiksen

There is something about an anthology of well put together short stories that reminds me of my childhood. Most likely because I grew up reading Bradbury as I sat in front of my window fan in the middle of the hot summer. I don't even know what Dandelion Wine tastes like, but every summer I think about making some!

With A Heart of Black Fire, Frederiksen has taken a dark and gruesome subject and turned it into a haunting series of tales and poems, with some qualities of some of my favorite fantasies. 

While with some short story anthologies, I begin to feel disconnected when reading them and have to take a break between each individual piece in order to clear my head, in this one, the pieces blended smoothly together with lovely descriptions and a dark atmosphere. I felt almost a little lulled into a peaceful state, despite the dark subject matter. 

I definitely recommended setting some time aside to read this anthology. 


Some Bio Information

Currently living in North Carolina, this California native is working on breaking into the writing world outside of making a name for himself in the historical field. Focusing on fantasy, science fiction, and horror, he uses his historical training to bring life to his characters and stories. Having published over a dozen pieces and an anthology of many of his works, he aims to make his writing aspirations into a reality.


Q&A

1. Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book?

Most of the stories were inspired by historical events and people who I felt needed to have their stories told in a new way. Other stories like I Am the Hunter and The Lord of Nights were inspired by dreams. And The Sword and The Squire were inspired by a scene I was writing when I was working on a King Arthur novel. 

2. What’s your favorite piece in it?

You know, I'd have to say the The Pursuit of Cheerless Toil was the work that I am particularly proud of. It was first inspired by the poem To No End But Death, and I felt that the short story carried that feeling over quite well.  

3. What well-known author would you compare yourself to?

Wow, that is a tough question. There are two major writers I would hope to be compared to; J.R.R. Tolkien and William Shakespeare. Both took great strides in literature and giving their audience stories that are still talked about to this day.

4. Can you share a little bit about your writing process with us?

Hmm, I wished I have a set process, since that would be a lot easier to say. But in all honesty, it has a very on the go way to it. Usually I'll get an idea by reading about historical events and situations, plus I've gotten a couple from current events. Once the story is in I'll start working the plot out roughly until I start writing it. And while I'm working on the story I'll sometimes add a few changes here and there to keep the story interesting 

5. What’s your lease favorite part of the writing process?

Editing, hands down. Though I admit it is very critical in the writing process. It's just that while I'm editing I start second guessing myself...and that leads to internal discussions and debates inside my head. And that's rarely a pleasant experience.

6. What would you like your readers to take away from your book?

At the very least I'd like the reader to finish each story with a feeling that they were on an adventure they've never been on before. I know fantasy and science fiction have been somewhat lacking in originality and I am hoping to help change that. 

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

Honestly, I'd love to have a bust or a plaque in the Poet's Corner. I've always felt that was the truest honor bestowed on to a writer. I know it's a bit romantic and a tad outlandish, but that would really make my life worth everything I've gone through to think of having my name associated with the greats. 

The Lament of Sky

The Lament of Sky - Bb Wynter

This review is going to be slightly different than the ones I've done previously. And I'm probably going to embarrass the poor girl, but since she's one of my SIA moderators, I feel that I'm within my rights. 

The Lament of Sky by Bb Wynter is the beginning of an epic journey that open minded readers won't be able to let go of. Not only does the main character go through a fun transformation as she comes to remember who she is and what she's gone through, but her innocent nature and beautiful naivety and wonder about the world around her is so much fun to watch. 

That being said, people who have not had a chance to speak with Ms. Wynter are missing out on an aspect of the story, and that is the author herself. I have never met her, but in getting to know her over the past five months through our Goodreads group, I can tell you that this book speaks loudly as to her own sweet personality, creative amusement, and hilarious sense of humor.

Ms. Wynter is an artist and that in itself places an entirely different spin on the book. She's able to manipulate words and twist scenarios to come to life in a way that many authors can't. I'm finding it hard to explain myself. But there is something quite magical about the way she combines the author side of herself and the artist side of herself to create this new fantasy world. 

Her writing is unique. It's not your normal fantasy, but if you sit back and enjoy the ride, I'm sure you'll find it well worth it.  


Some Bio Information

I’m an author and illustrator residing under the grey, morose skies of England. Being shy and quiet, I found solace and passion in the endless worlds of Fantasy.

At the moment, I’m immersing myself within paintings and sketches that give life to the realm of The Lament of Sky. I like to drink all kinds of tea and have a constant craving for honey.

I also like to spend my time reading the wonderful books of indie authors.


Q&A

1. Tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a writer and artist. 

When I discovered they were professions that encouraged you to lose all your marbles. 

2. Who is your favorite character you’ve created so far? 

The real question is, which creation of mine is not the epitome of genius? They’re all special snowflakes. (But between you and I, there is one in particular who rubs me the wrong way. Just don’t tell him I told you).

3. Where do you draw your inspiration?

I attempted to think of a deep philosophical reply to this, but all that’s on my mind is whether I want to eat something chocolately or something spongey.  Sorry about that.

4. Who is your favorite author?

How can I name one? All the others will feel unloved.

5. What’s your least favorite part of the writing process? 

All the editing and organizing required. That’s when you discover what insanity you decided to partake in and question the meaning of your life. Wow that took a dark turn. 

6. What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you?

I’ll save those stories for when I’m famous. I’ll be sending them into magazines myself. 

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

To have a huge series! And also a base of readers’ crazy enough to write obscene fan fiction that I will secretly enjoy and participate in myself under an obvious nickname.


Fun Questions

8. Can you tell us a bit about your love of Fabio?

How can someone not love the masterpiece which are those glistening nipples?  

9. You’re stranded on an island. Would you rather have tea or honey? You can’t have both. 

Is there a pistol nearby? 

10. You've been accredited with the invention of the phrase "Muffle Duffle." What inspired you to create the phrase? Will you be trademarking it?

I fear the secret society of Muffle Duffles might corner me in a dark alley if I were to speak of this. That’s right, I know nothing. 

The False Titanbringer: Complete Trilogy

The False Titanbringer - Riley and Sara Lynn Westbrook 

What do you think of when you hear the word dragon? 

Big scaly beast with an attitude right? Yeah. Me too. So when I started The Westbrook's Trilogy, I struggled to wrap my head around a reptilian human looking figure who could sprout wings and take off. But it was this determination to truly visualize and understand this character that brought this series to life for me. 

This trilogy included a lot of elements that reminded me of several other series. Sure you've got a little Terry Brooks and perhaps even Tolkien, but then there's some Frank Herbert and all the personal drama of Game of Thrones, Spartacus, and/or Rome. 

I love when authors put all their books together into one unified trilogy for readers. This makes it easy for me to keep track of where I'm at and (don't ever quote me on this because I'll deny it) knowing how much longer I have before the end of a book helps me control my anxiety level regarding the characters' hurdles and crises. 

Overall, The False Titanbringer is a vastly enjoyable and creative work. I can honestly say that I've never read anything quite like it. Looking forward to reading more by The Talented Westbrooks. 


Some Bio Information

Riley is an ex-CNA who found himself unable to do the job he loved. Injured, out of work, and stumbling through life, he happened to start writing down his thoughts. Once that happened, he fell in love and has been writing since.

Sara is Riley's companion. She doesn't understand the persistent need to write that her husband has, but she is a good wife who loves her husband. She supports him by making sure the drivel that leaves his mouth isn't completely full of idiocy.


Q&A

1. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

Well, unlike most writers I don't drink very often at all. But we all have our poisons of choice, our vices that we just can't give up. Mine just so happens to be marijuana. I find it very relaxing to enjoy a puff or two, or sometimes a laced brownie, just to help ease the pain I have in my back. Couple that with the imagination I've had ever since I was a child, and a determination to not go insane in my struggles to get back to a good weight (Seriously folks, I'll be happy when I hit 300 pounds, that'll put me at 325 lost, and I will be writing a weight loss book, so keep your eyes out!).

The process is quite simple, I think of how I want something to end. Then I ask, what started it? And from there I just let my mind flow. I once attempted to write a true “outlined, snowflake method, you should do this when you write” book and it just does not work for me. The same site I found the Snowflake method on though, did give me the best advice. Whatever works for you, works.

After I pour my heart upon the page, leaving a scattered wasteland of broken grammar and incoherent ramblings...My wife comes through and translates the Rilenese into English. I freely admit that without her, these books wouldn't be half of what they are. She gives me ideas while I'm writing, she translates the first draft so I can start to edit it, and she's what I call “quality control” because otherwise....I'll just leave it at that.

2. Describe your favorite place.

...I thought you wanted me to keep this PG? All joking aside, it really doesn't matter to me as long as I have my beautiful wife by my side. She may drive me insane with her rage, she may not be the most social of individuals, but there's no one in the world (Not even my own mom.) that understands me like she does.

Her answer would be Ocean Shores, WA on a cloudy day with a cold wind rolling off the waves, so that's good enough for me.

3. What inspired you to write this story?

Breath of the Titans is something that's been rattling around inside my head for years, I just never wrote it down until I did. It's a conglomeration of years as a Dungeon Master, spending time traveling through lands and conquering dragons with my friends since a young age. Running around with sticks, playing with pen, paper, and dice, all of it was amazing and inspiring for this story.

4. How would you describe your writing style?

Riley: The acronym of my name.
Sara: I piece it together, making it coherent. So others may understand it.

5. What is your favorite part of your book?

Honestly, the fire breathing chicken. I admit, the creature doesn't add a lot to the story. And it came to me on a whim, watching the intro to Good Mythical Morning on Youtube. It features a fire breathing chicken, and I needed a creature to fit the role. It slid perfectly into place, I think before that I was going to bring another ooze monster in, but I don't think the Tuthan priests would stoop low enough to attack Jaxon as he is a small bit player in their minds.

6. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

I accept nothing less than world domination.
Sara: ALL SHALL LOVE ME AND DESPAIR! (Had to throw in a LotR reference, of course.)

7. What’s the most important piece of advice for someone who is considering becoming an indie author?

Sara: Don't be afraid to write what you want to write, it must come from within.

Riley: Where to begin. First, quit looking at other authors as competition. Guess what, I am a consumer. I am also a writer. As a writer, I still consume. Consuming feeds the beast within me that goes on to add to my own exposure, which adds to others. Look at your fellow authors as a resource, not a rival.

Don't expect your book to be a best seller right out of the gate. I'm not saying it can't happen, it can, there are many stories where it does. But for everyone of those, there are hundreds, if not thousands, that amount to nothing.

DON'T BE AFRAID TO GIVE AWAY YOUR BOOK! Especially in an ebook format, I know you wrote it to make money. We get that, everyone wants to make money. But the only way your book is going to catch on is through word of mouth.

I honestly hate to say it, I wish I  could say differently, but if your friends and family buy your book and only your friends and family buy your book, unless it drives you to bestseller ranking or top of the charts, doesn't mean anything.

Some people just aren't going to like your book. Learn which ones are being bullies, and which are honestly trying to help improve you as a writer. Shift through the trash.

Either have thick skin, or be prepared to develop it quick. While some authors are amazing support, some will do nothing but tear you down. Read above instructions.

And last, don't be afraid to be shameless! How do you think Lady Gaga, Miley the virus, all these other stars keep their names in the headlines? Shameless self promotion.

Demon in the Window

Demon in the Window - Judah Swann

I remember the first time I ever read a book about angels fighting demons. Frank Peretti was the author and I was completely fascinated by the subject. It was exhilarating and overwhelming to think of some unseen battle taking place right next to you. 

Needless to say, I was pretty excited to read Demon in the Window. 

The opening chapter is heartbreaking. Having a young son myself, my heartstrings were definitely pulled by young Jericho and all that he was forced to endure. This gives the reader an immediate opinion of Mavado -- Jericho's protector. I liked him and was grateful for him, unlike Jericho who wasn't sure what to make of him. 

As the story progresses, Mavado's intentions seem to get a little fuzzy, but I was bound and determined to fight for his honor (at least in my head). 

The plot moves fairly quickly and a couple of times I found myself a little lost and unsure how the characters had gotten where they were. But a quick glance backwards was usually all I needed for everything to make sense again. 

In closing, it's an interesting and well written story with a unique perspective on the idea of the forces of good battling the evil. I'm interested to see if this is a series that will continue and, if it does, how the characters will mature throughout the series. 


Some Bio Information

Having earned a Master's Degree in Arts and Humanities at the age of sixteen, Judah Swann has always carried a passion for literature, philosophy, and the study of the human experience. He believes that, in order to better understand our world, we must dive deeper into the exploration of our own humanity; for it is through our own unique experiences that we form the basis of our beliefs, morals, and even our religious allegiances. 

On a more personal note: Judah is a sports fanatic, news junkie and loves a good hearty debate. When he isn't busy working or writing, he's spends time on physical fitness and enjoys weightlifting, boxing and MMA. He enjoys reading graphic novels, fantasy and science fiction.


Q&A

1.    What would you like your readers to take away from your book? 

For me, the most important thing a reader could take away from my book would be a fresh perspective.  I want my readers to look at the world from a different viewpoint, to question why they believe whatever it is that they believe, and to see if their beliefs hold up under the questioning.  Too often have I had conversations with others about their beliefs which ended with some variation of “that’s just the way it is”, or “I don’t know why, I’ll have to ask God when I get to heaven.”  Blind faith is sometimes necessary, but it shouldn’t make up the entire foundation of what you live your life for. 

2.    What does your writing say about you? 

I think it says that I’m a realist, and that I recognize that the heroes and villains of life aren’t as clearly divided as we pretend they are.  In reality, the hero is the person you relate to the most, and most heroes are one poor decision away from becoming the villain. 

3.    Which character do you identify with the most? 

I think I can relate to most of my characters in one way or another, but I think the character I cheer for the most would be Mavado.  From a personality standpoint, Reggie is probably the most closely aligned to my own sense of humor.

4.    Describe the perfect writing environment. 

The perfect writing environment is anywhere quiet, where coffee is readily available and in abundant supply.

5.    Who’s your favorite author? 

This might sound ludicrous, but I can’t say that I truly have a favorite author.  I admire J.K. Rowling for her limitless creativity and unique imagination. 

6.    Where do you draw your inspiration?

Quite simply, from life; from my friends and family, from the people I meet every day.  Inspiration is everywhere.
   
7.    What’s your favorite part of the writing process? 

Getting the story out of my mind and into print is the best part of the process.  Stories which mean something to you will tend to grow and grow inside you until you can no longer contain them.  
  

The Story in the Stars

The Story in the Stars - Yvonne Anderson

Adding religion into a book, especially a science fiction book, is a bold move for any author to make. Not only does it seem like spirituality is taking a back seat these days, but fewer and fewer people are willing to openly talk about it for fear of offending someone or drawing unwanted and controversial attention to their work or posts. 

I was not aware of the Christian subtext when I began this book, but it very quickly made a strong and intriguing appearance. But unlike some reviewers, I didn't have an issue with it being woven into the plot. I enjoy seeing various adaptations of religion, especially differing perspectives on Christianity, brought into fictional works. 

Yvonne does so in a way that did not offend me, did not detract from the plot (in my opinion), and further enhanced the strong character of Dassa. She is a determine woman on a mission and her deep faith enhanced those points. 

I thought this book was very well written. I enjoyed the progress of the plot. The one drawback, for me, was the character of Pik. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that he was poorly written. I'd argue the exact opposite actually. He brought out emotion in me, which I feel is the very definition of a well written character. I simply didn't like him. He was too volatile and rash in his decisions. And his angry outbursts would have scared me a lot, had I been a character in the story. 

But this did not make me dislike the book. I enjoyed reading it and am interested to see where she takes Pik and Dassa in the rest of the series. 


Some Bio Information

Yvonne Anderson writes fiction that takes you out of this world.

The Story in the Stars, the first in the Gateway to Gannah series as well as her debut novel, was a Carol Award finalist in 2012. The adventure continues with Words in the Wind and Ransom in the Rock and concludes with The Last Toqeph.

She lives in Western Maryland with her husband of almost forty years and shares the occasional wise word on her personal site, YsWords. She’s been with The Borrowed Book blog for a couple of years now and coordinated Novel Rocket’s Launch Pad Contest for unpublished novelists since the beginning of time. (Or at least, since the contest’s inception.)

Oh, yeah: she also does freelance editing.


Q&A

1. Who is your favorite author? 

You would ask that question, wouldn’t you? Here’s the problem: I don’t have a favorite author – nor a favorite color, food, movie, song, or anything else. I don’t know if I’m terribly wishy-washy, or if I simply enjoy too many things. But I find it impossible to pick a favorite among so many great choices.

That said, here is an alphabetical list of some of the authors whose books I’ve enjoyed: Maeve Binchy, Athol Dickson, Ken Follett, Neil Gaiman, Graham Greene, Khaled Hosseini, Stephen King, Wally Lamb, Ann LaMott, C. S. Lewis, Chaim Potok, Salman Rushdie, Amy Tan, James Alexander Thomp, J. R. R. Tolkein, and Kurt Vonnegut, among others.

2. What would you like readers to take away from your book? 

Other than an enjoyable read? A clearer understanding of the Christian gospel. 

There seem to be a number of misconceptions about that, even among people whose belief system falls under the heading of “Christian.” So when I wrote about the gospel message that some say God told in the stars, I wanted to be unambiguous as to what that story is. Certainly the reader is free to reject it, but at least she’ll know what she’s turning her back on.

3. What does this book say about you? 

I hope it shows the object of my faith. It might also be evident that I’m not a big fan of science fiction. Quite a few readers say they’ve never read anything quite like this, that it doesn’t seem to be derivative of anything. Not having read much in the genre, I haven’t been influenced by things I’ve read.

4. Describe your favorite place. 

Home. Wherever that happens to be.

5. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

I think about a story for quite a while before I write it, but I don’t do any “pre-writing” (outlining, character sketches, that sort of thing). I generally have a beginning and a destination in mind, and I know a couple of the high points that will have to occur along the way. I also know my main character inside and out before I write the first word. For the most part, though, I don’t know what’s going to happen until I start writing. 

In the case of The Story in the Stars, it all started when I read about the theory that when God created the heavens and the earth, He put the constellations in skies to write the gospel message for early man to “read.” (Kind of like the original graphic novel, once you think about it!) I thought it would be fun to write a book in which the characters discovered this story in the stars. I started with creating the planet on which the story would take place, and it all took off from there.

6. What’s your dream vacation?

If you’re paying, I’d enjoy going just about anywhere. 

Seriously, I don’t dream about any sort of vacation; I like my life and don’t usually feel a hankering to get away from it. However, I’m working with a lady in Tasmania to help her with a nonfiction book she’s writing, to get it ready for publication. We’ve been communicating via email and in real-time on Skype, but it would be wonderful to visit Tasmania and meet her face-to-face. While I’m in that part of the world, I’d also like to visit other regions of Australia and also Middle-Earth – I mean, New Zealand.

 7. Is the story over for Pik and Dassa? 

The Story in the Stars is the first in a four-book series. It was originally published in 2011 by a small publisher, Risen Books. They also published the second title, Words in the Wind, in 2012. I self-published the last two titles, Ransom in the Rock and The Last Toqeph, in 2014. Risen Books has now released me from my contract, and I’m republishing the first two titles myself with a few minor tweaks – and more importantly, new cover art. I was never wild about the original covers.

Readers who want to know what happens next for Pik and Dassa can follow all their adventures in the Gateway to Gannah series. Each title can stand alone, but put together, they tell one epic tale. All four are currently available in both print and e-book formats.

The Circle of Six: Emily's Quest

The Circle of Six - Emily's Quest - Dan Sanders

There are fantasy books, and then there are EPIC fantasy books. The Circle of Six definitely qualifies, in my opinion, as an epic. It's a book that requires your undivided attention as you follow Emily and her companions on their quest. 

I thought the plot of this work was excellent. It's well thought out, detailed, and woven together beautifully. Each character is portrayed very realistically with admirable characteristics as well as human flaws. 

I had a little bit of trouble visualizing Emily as a bird and then as a rabbit. I kept seeing her as a human, which disrupted the story for me a bit. I don't blame Dan Sanders at all for that -- it was my own perception of the character. I have a more difficult time identifying with animal characters, so I think that I pictured her as a human in order to better relate to her. 

I could definitely see this turning into an animated children's story. Although there are some dark and scary scenes, I think it would translate well to the screen. 

Overall it was an excellent read. But if you're a skimmer like me, you need to remember to FOCUS on this book as you read it. I know that I missed several important parts because I wasn't focused enough on what I was reading (hard to do with a 2 year old). 

Even so, I enjoyed the author's voice and storytelling skills. 


Some Bio Information

Following a 20 year corporate career, Dan Sanders is now a writer, speaker and activist.

Sanders is associated with the humanist movement, an advocate for the mental health organisation, the BlackDog Institute, as well as a proponent for ethics, science based scepticism and the humanities in education and recently set up The Activist Parent website. 

He lives in Sydney, Australia with his piano teacher wife and the huge imaginations of their five children.


Q&A

1. What inspires you to write?

This is a broad question so will try to explain some of the dimensions of that inspiration. At the broadest level, I’m inspired to write to articulate or create meaning. Part of that meaning is a hope to leave a legacy, a legacy that breaths insight and perspective into the unseen generations who follow, to give them a vision that the creative life can have deep and lasting meaning. At this level, I feel it’s more than an inspiration, it’s as though I am compelled to write, a force that I can’t ignore for very long, lurking at the edge of my consciousness, to give voice to my life, or the lives of those who don’t have a voice. I think at some level artists, movie directors, actors, and musicians all create to give an artistic voice, a fresh perspective, to a concept or a theme where they might have an insight that’s important to them. That’s writing to me.

But I’m inspired to write by other things. I love language, it moves me, like music. When I hear a cliche or poorly used words I cringe like nails down a blackboard. When words are tossed together in fresh bundles, or crafted with cadence and tempered tones I have been known to shed a tear. 

What about daily inspiration? Some things grab me and I feel compelled to write it down, to observe it and to capture it for later. But the rush and context of daily life when I’m not in the act of writing can be a distraction to the creative process, limiting the type of thunderbolt inspiration people sometimes think about when referring to inspiration. 

2. Can you describe your writing process a little? 

My leadership background in the corporate world has forced me to set goals and targets for everything. I set myself monthly word targets, working back from the goal of the project or projects I’m working on. I then break this down further into a weekly guide, not too fixed. I find daily targets too easy to be broken by the vicissitudes of daily life.

Writing requires a deep introspection (something I haven’t found in any other activity in my life), a separation from the surrounding world. But with five children and a piano studio our house is a buzzing metropolis. So I put on my noise cancelling headphones (Parrot Zik II’s)–usually to Bach Cantatas (the simple tonal rhythms still my noisy thoughts), close my eyes and drift into the world I am writing about. I write the scene in my head, write the outline , and then jump in, all in my app of choice, in Ulysses. 

3. What character from The Circle of Six do you identify with the most? 

Characters in some way are expressions of parts of ourselves. And for that reason I connect with parts of each of them. But if I had to pick one, it would be Xavier. We sometimes find situations, especially as children, that make us unwitting accomplices in dangerous acts that can affect the path of our lives. His pure heart, his desire to please, his loyalty and his ultimate courage resonate with me. 

4. What is your least favorite part of the writing process? 

Again, broadly, it has to be the marketing process (if that can be considered part of the writing process), the act of finding readers. Marketing moves what is an intensely internal activity and shares it with complete strangers. I, like most writers, fear rejection, humiliation, and judgement. But having been through the process now and the wonderful joy my writing has given I’m constantly amazed and humbled by the unintended consequences of my life as a writer. What started out as a drive for expression and family legacy is now touching and inspiring complete strangers. That said, I’m still not used to the role of my mediated self in public–TV and Radio were some of the most nerve wracking moments in my life.

5. Who is your favorite author? 

Too many to tell but Fantasy and Sci-Fi writers; J.R. Tolkien, Raymond E. Feist, David Eddings, Julian May, Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein, all of whom have given me instruction in the genre and permission to be bold.

This might seem strange but I have been most affected by a range of literary authors who in their own way have instructed me on the craft: Martin Amis, Hemingway, Nabokov, John Cheever, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut, Alice Munro… 

6. What’s your dream vacation? (Or have you already been there?)

Now you’ve done it. It’s got me planning again. To retrace the footsteps of Hemingway, Stein, Fitzgerald through their haunts in Spain and France. I can even picture getting stuck along the way and never returning.

7. Is Emily’s story over? 

I miss her so very much. Imagine losing your home, your family, your body, and having to save a world so grand and immense you can hardly breath. Yes, her journey and that of some of her friends from the Circle of Six will continue, for at least four books as part of the Legends of Eostra Series.

The Sound Catcher

The Sound Catcher - Graham Garrity

The Sound Catcher is a delightful children's story that has a good mix of drama/conflict and childish fun and delight. 

Chloe is a sweet and curious protagonist who finds courage and determination as she journeys through a bizarre subset of our world. I really enjoyed watching her interact and get to know The Sound Catcher. 

The Sound Catcher is a thoroughly entertaining character who is both colorful and hilarious. His mannerisms come across so vividly through the pages that even if there were illustrations (which they are and they're great!) there would be no issue in picturing this lovable character. 

While Chloe loves this new world, and enjoys the challenges and adventures she faces while traveling with the Sound Catcher, there does come a time when she needs to return home. And just like a good young adult story should, she has matured through her experience and has a new outlook on life. 


Some Bio Information

I was the kid at school who never paid attention. In English my grades were always D or E and I once received a report from a Geography teacher that said, 'This lad does well to find his way home.'

I left school with few qualifications and began work in a local factory as a maintenance engineer. After ten years of building and repairing machines I applied to join the police. One of my better decisions. I spent several years as a detective and worked on numerous burglary, robbery and murder investigations. I retired in 2011.

I began writing some years ago when I realised that everything I said to my children went in one ear and straight out the other. When I wrote them stories at least they paid attention.

My first novel, The Sound Catcher, a children's fantasy/adventure was released on Kindle in January 2015. 


Q&A

1. Can you tell us where you go the idea for your book? 

One day my kids were being extremely noisy and I thought how great it would be if I could build a machine that could gather up all the noise. I knew that if it could be done parents everywhere would be forever grateful. That night when the kids were in bed I started putting a few ideas down on paper. A week later I had completed the outline of The Sound Catcher. As I started to put flesh on the bones, however, the story seemed to take on a life of its own. The finished book is a lot different from the story I had envisioned.

2. Who is your favorite author?

My favorite author is Michael Connelly. Being an ex-detective myself I think his portrayal of LA detective Harry Bosch is brilliant. 

3. Describe the perfect writing environment. 

For me it is a small room where everything is within easy reach. Next to my computer I have a radio, purely for background noise, a coffee machine, (I need lots of coffee), printer, paper, pens, a dictionary and a thesaurus. Above my computer there are three shelves full of history books. Behind me, four shelves crammed with fictional novels. Outside my window is a large expanse of grass and mature trees. Every time I walk into my room and see all those books and that view it gives me a buzz and puts me in the mood to write.

4. Can you describe your writing process?

My wring begins with an A4 ruled notebook and a pen. I think of things that amused me as a child and make a few random notes. I also try to recall conversations that I've had with others. What they've said may ignite a spark. I also try to recall all the amusing stories I've heard concerning family or friends or people I know. Once I've made my notes I read through them to see if I can find anything that may form the basis of a story. Sometimes I'll come up with a very basic idea for a story. Other times I'll see nothing at all. If I do see the possibility of a story I'll work at it until it begins to take shape. Once I have a basic storyline I transfer my notes onto computer, where the majority of my work is done. I try to write at least 500 words per day. I do my first edit once a chapter is complete. Once the story is complete I put it to one side for three to four weeks. Then I go back and edit the complete story. I usually edit three or four times with a week or two between each edit. Once I'm happy with the story I'll have someone else read it and, depending on their findings, do a final edit. At that stage I send my book to a professional company that does free book critiques. Based on their comments I'll either make the necessary changes to the story or put it to one side and consider a complete re-write.

5. What is your ultimate writing goal?

Like most authors I'd like to top the bestseller list for my genre. Having said that I once posted on Twitter that if my books can make one kid smile that would be enough for me. I know from the feedback I've received from friends and family that I've made quite a few kids smile, so I'm quite happy with my achievements so far.

6. Where do you draw inspiration?

As I've outlined above, personal experience and the experiences of others. Good ideas seldom surprise you. You have to work at them.

7. Describe your favorite place. 

I love America and have been there quite a few times. But one place that stands out is Santa Barbara. It was a beautiful sunny day the sea was nice and calm and I sat at a table on the pier eating calamari. It felt like paradise.

The Last Sanctuary

The Last Sanctuary - PS Mokha

In all honesty, I struggled through the first chapter of this book. I made the mistake of checking the page count and when I saw the large number, I panicked. Typically with long books like this, the author has a difficult time holding my interest. There are usually some boring filler chapters that I feel aren't really needed. 

P.S. Mohka does not have this problem. 

Once I reached the second or third chapter, I faced a new problem -- knowing that I couldn't put the book down until I was finished reading it. Lily, Rose, and Olivia are fantastic characters who, though they are young, are strong, hilarious, and realistically written. 

I love the background to this book. The world is unique and well put together. I can honestly say that this is unlike any fantasy book I've ever read. 

P.S. Mokha also deserves a standing ovation, in my opinion, for his dialogue. The dialogue of three not-yet-teenage girls is difficult to tackle. But it's fantastic. I had no trouble following and no instances where I thought to myself, "well that's not what they'd say" or "ick, that was a bit dull." It flows smoothly and is easy to read. Fantastic job!


Some Bio Information

P S Mokha was born and raised in London. Like millions of others, he spent his early working life commuting into the city and reading books on trains. 

The books often transported him further and to more interesting places than the trains. 

The author is currently living in the timeless and rugged beauty of the New Zealand wilds. He is miles away from mains water, street lighting and other distractions so he can concentrate on completing book two of the series. 


Q&A

1. Can you tell us a little bit about how you created the world of Lily, Rose, and Olivia? 

The world stems from a desire to meld the landscape of traditional European mythology with today’s city life. I had to do so in a way that was plausible within a fantasy framework, hence the hints at a single world that became split into parallel realities, one filled with humans (our earth) and the other inhabited by magical folk (Ammasaya).
Lily, Rose and Olivia might seem like ordinary girls on the surface, but scratch a little deeper and they have all been moulded by their environments with their prophesised destinies in mind. 

2. Who is your favourite author? 

I like a wide range of authors but Ken Follett and C.S. Lewis really stand out for me. Although the former found success by weaving stories around historical events, while the latter found success through writing fantasy, both novelists think big and play out their epic stories on a grand stage, something I seek to emulate. 

3. Can you describe your writing process? 

Until recently I was getting up at 5am, then writing when the kids were in bed. I found the intervening period to be a perfect way for my unconscious to digest the content of the previous writing session, as well as forming thoughts on the best way to progress.

Once the first draft is completed, it gets re-written twice before going to close family for critiquing. It then goes to a hand-picked group of students (I’m an assistant principal at a girls’ high school) for feedback to ensure my target audience are hooked by what’s been created.

It then gets redrafted following their feedback. Next it gets passed through a group of writer friends as part of the Master Class I belong to. Finally, it goes to my mentor – a former president of the NZSA – before the copy editor gets hold of it. 

4. Who is your favourite character?

Well that’s tricky! I think at different times I enjoyed writing different elements of the characters’ stories, for example in book two, The Fall of Refuge, I thoroughly revelled in the creation of Jacques and Flaim’s adventures. 

5. What is your ultimate writing goal? 

For my work to be loved by more and more readers. For my writing to go from strength to strength and I guess to write full time one day, but for now, I am loving my role as an assistant principal.

6. If your book had a soundtrack, what would be on it? 

Brilliant question. No idea what the answer is though ;-)

7. Describe your favourite place. 

Other than home with my wife and daughters? Well somewhere warm and beautiful, not too unlike parts of Ammasaya. Either way, it would have to be somewhere my family could join me. I guess what I’m saying is that my favourite place is wherever my family are. 

The Universes Inside the Lighthouse

The Universes Inside the Lighthouse - Pam Stucky

This was a charming and entertaining story about a brother and sister and the adventure they find themselves stuck in the middle of.

I loved that while this book fits into the science fiction genre, it felt a little like a fantasy as well. There were some whimsical qualities and overall good feelings instead of the typical edgy feel of science fiction. 

It was also heart warming to read a story about siblings who are very close and aren't constantly bickering. I loved the dynamic between Emma and Charlie and enjoyed watching them mature throughout the plot as they faced challenge after challenge. They stand as strong role models for younger readers. 

I also really enjoyed the deviation from the typical plot point that I expected. When the twins go running to tell the adults about their story, THE ADULTS BELIEVE THEM. It's fantastic! That leaves so much more room for adventure instead of spending half the book trying to convince their family that they're not making the story up. 

It's a fantastic young adult science fiction story and I hope to see more adventures of Emma and Charlie.


Some Bio Information

Pam Stucky, a native of the Pacific Northwest, is the author of the Wishing Rock series (novels with recipes), starting with Letters from Wishing Rock, and the Pam on the Map travelogue series, books that take readers along on Pam's journeys and adventures around the world.The Universes Inside the Lighthouse, Pam's eighth book, is Pam's first foray into both YA and sci-fi. 


Q&A

1. What (or who) gives you inspiration?

Curiosity is one of my strongest traits, and I'd say my curiosity gives me inspiration. I write, in general, to explore ideas, and see where they take me. For example, in my latest book, The Universes Inside the Lighthouse. I've always been fascinated with the idea that there must—absolutely must—be intelligent life on other planets. But I'm pretty certain that we'll never meet them (and fairly certain they're not here on Earth, but who knows?!). Nonetheless, I'm curious. What is life on other planets like? What would it be like to travel and meet those other beings? What might their worlds be like? In writing a book about this topic, I got to make up the answers for myself. It's not the same as finding out the "truth," but still I had a great time imagining the possibilities. 


2. Who’s your favorite author? 

I admire so many authors for so many reasons! Barbara Kingsolver is an amazing writer. Jodi Picoult is a fascinating storyteller. But as far as Best In Show, I'd have to go with J.K. Rowling. I love the Harry Potter books—but the thing is, they're not just books. Do you know what I mean? It's a world, a world that Rowling gave us a window into. It feels so unbelievably real ... like it must actually be real somewhere in the multiverse. Her ability to create something so magical (no pun intended) and vivid and engaging, that struck a chord with millions of people—or is it billions yet?—is amazing. Plus, I've heard and read some of her talks, and I really appreciate a lot of what she has to say in her speeches as well, of course, as in her books. For example:

“Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”

"It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

 “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” 

3. Do you have a long term series planned for Charlie and Emma? 

I do! I'm working on the next book right now. I absolutely love this series and these characters. They're still a little new to me yet, so they still surprise me from time to time, and I'm not quite sure where we're going. When everything is possible, that opens things up to pretty much everything! But I am working to create some sort of arc. At first I had in mind a series sort of like Nancy Drew, where every book is standalone. The more I work on ideas for the story, though, the more I'm not sure that's feasible. Because of the nature of exploring the universes, the characters learn more and more all the time. I can't just take them back to not knowing how to travel through space and time, at the beginning of every book. So, a more cohesive storyline is becoming more likely, though it'll probably have elements both of continuing plot, and standalone plot in each book.

4. The elevator between worlds is a unique and fascinating concept. Can you share, at least a hint, of what led you to this idea? 

The elevator was one of those ideas that just come just fully formed, actually. I suppose the part of my brain that has watched a lot of Doctor Who got involved somehow, the idea that you step in something box-like and it transports you to anywhere and everywhere. And as I thought about the idea of universes being "layered" on one another, the idea that you could travel through them like an elevator, at a thin spot, just seemed to make sense. Note, however, that in the next book we'll discover that there's more to universes than we just thought. ;) It's all quite complex. And since the scientists don't all agree—every other day, it seems, there's a new hypothesis out there about the universes—who's to say I'm not right?

5. Describe the perfect writing environment. 

I wish I could say I can listen to music when I'm writing, but I can't. My brain is very single-task. Music, even instrumental, is too dynamic for me to listen to while I'm trying to create new ideas. So, when I write, the music is off. Other than that, I'm pretty flexible. Right now I'm on the couch with my laptop on my lap. Often I'll wake up in the morning and just pull my laptop right onto my bed and start writing before I even turn the light on. (I do not recommend any of these methods ergonomically!) I also love to go to my favorite Happy Hour place, where they know me very well, and sit at my favorite table in the corner, looking out over the Puget Sound, sip a lemon drop, and let the creative juices flow. In fact, when I'm really stuck, that's one of my best and favorite methods to get unstuck. Although when I go there, I don't take my laptop—the lemon drop would get the keys sticky. :) Anyway, for me, the main ingredient is quiet. Beyond that, writing really is just a matter of sitting down and writing. As they say, you can't edit a blank page. Even if what you write is complete rubbish, you still can edit rubbish better than you can edit a blank page. So just write something, start there!

6. What’s your favorite part of writing? 

There are so many things I love about writing, but one of my favorite things is probably figuring out the backstory of the characters. When I sit with pen and paper (I always create new ideas with pen and paper, and then do the actual writing on the computer), and think about the characters, it really does feel sometimes like they're speaking to me, opening up their lives to me, introducing themselves to me. So much of the backstory never makes it into the book, but knowing the little things about the characters makes me happy. Like, for Universes (all my books have way-too-long titles, so I have to shorten them!), I know how all the main characters' parents met, where they went to school, and so on. Knowing these things makes the characters so real that I just feel like I'm telling stories someone else told me, not creating something entirely new.

Having said that, I also love creating something entirely new. I love that when I'm done, I have a story that I would love to read. I do wish there were some way I could go back and read my own stories objectively, for the first time, to see if I'd actually like them. The more books I write, the better I like them, I think. It's fun to create whole worlds and have them feel real to me, and more fun when people tell me the worlds are real to them. I ran into someone the other day who told me she reads my Wishing Rock books over and over. That's insane! And amazing! To know I've created something that is meaningful in some way to other people is the most fantastic feeling. 

I could go on, really. So much I love about writing. What I don't love: naming characters. They won't let me rest until I have the right names for them, but at the same time they don't tell me their names easily. And everyone needs to have a name, even if I don't use it in the book. First name, middle name, last name, and then there's also all the place names—which has become exponentially more difficult now that I'm writing about other planets and universes. I don't want the names to be so weird that they throw the reader out of the story, but I want them to have some alien flavor. Thank goodness for parallel Earths, where I can give people Earth names! 

7. What is your ultimate writing goal/dream?

I have a lot of goals ... which is the ultimate goal? Well, I'd love to make a good living as a writer. I'm sure that will happen. Fingers crossed it's soon! I would love to see my Wishing Rock series made into a TV show. I think it would do better for TV than a movie. It's very Northern Exposure-esque, or a little like the current show Cedar Cove, with maybe a little more spice. I could see the Balky Point Adventures (my current YA sci-fi series, which starts with Universes) becoming something bigger in some way. But mostly, finances aside, I'd love to just have the opportunity to continue to explore ideas through writing. It makes me come alive. When I'm not writing, I get edgy. Writing keeps me sane. Well, as sane as I get, anyway.

Herbert's Hat

Herbert's Hat - Cobus Vermeulen

Young adult literature is a difficult genre to write. Finding a happy medium between a main character who is human and capable of erring and a main character who helps teach a valuable lesson to young readers is vitally important. 

In Herbert's Hat, you have two (at least to begin with) strong characters in Timmy and Herbert. While they find themselves in a new situation that doesn't make sense, they both rise to the occasion and face the danger and confusion boldly. 

While I enjoyed seeing the comparison of Timmy's reaction to that of his parents, I found the parents' reactions irritating at times. In fantastic stories like this, parents tend to be "too grown up," which I completely understand. As we grow up, we lose our childish imagination. 

Regardless, I enjoyed this cute young adult story. It had excitement, beautiful elements of fantasy, and a tinge of sweet innocent romance. Very adorable!


Some Bio Information

Cobus had been Dreaming a verity of Strange, Weird and Crazy things since Childhood.
Only when he reached the last Year of High School, did he actively started to write down all the ideas OR rather, the various which he’d been fast enough to write down.
 
He took his Mother’s Old Typewriter hostage and for the first time used a mechanical “Pen” in writing his stories down. Now since then he’d finished a mired of Short Stories in Afrikaans and English as well as a good volume of Book. Herbert’s Hat is only the Frist Book in the six book series. At the tender age of 40, Cobus has still a great deal more to Write AND even more so to learn about life as well as the various people in it around him…


Q&A

1.    When did you decide you wanted to become an author?

Writing is a Life-Long passion. It’s not something that I choose to do. The only thing was, getting to the point of Understanding how best in getting my Ideas, Thoughts and Stories out of my Mind. Having started on plain paper, then Progressed in Annexed my Mother’s Typewriter and then Many Years later, working on the Computer. But there’s FAR too many Ideas running around in my Mind not to have Ever Not have become a Writer, Author, Novelist…

2.    Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Inspiration comes to me. I’m like many other people I suspect, struggling to sleep at night. This as far as the comparison goes, Seeing that my Sub-conscious work Constantly. Not saying that Other’s don’t do the same, BUT the difference is this – I have in the past heard, seen or read something interesting. Later on, my Mind makes the Connection between Possibly three or so, Totally Unrelated items, thoughts, facts and before I know it – Boom, there’s something really Cool which hits me… Not My inspiration, My blessing!

3.    Would you rather live in Timmy’s world or Herbert’s world?

As I have created OR wondered through the world of Herbert – I live in Timmy’s World and thus, Have a connection between the World of Reality and Imagination… I actually Live and Dream in both of them. It is IMPOSSIBLE to have the Inspiration for whatever I’m a Witness in creating, if I’d ONLY lived in one world AND not Enjoy the Brilliance of this World of Imagination. I cannot Ever hope to bring Forth the Ideas, Thoughts and Stories from One to the Other, If they do not walk hand-in-hand together and With me included.

4.    Describe the perfect writing environment.

There’s Absolutely no such thing. As with Writer’s Block, which I do not believe in either.
The Perfect environment, would be the Writer’s willingness in working. I will say, the Less distractions, the better. But then, if You’ve got none – the writer’s Own thoughts or lack of Preparation to the work to be written can Also be the hampering effect for work not be done.
Einstein’s theory of Relativity, You can be in the Worst place, Problems, Life and whichever – if you KNOW what you need be doing; You would do what you can in getting that done.

Then as well, if you can get the Environment as best possible. Music to listen to in the background, no matter what plays, As soon as it’s horrible I will change the song. No One around me, asking or requiring my time will be Great! Something to drink, OR making myself some Coffee – as a break can be as helpful. Part of a Movie to help the mind into another gear.
BUT most Importantly between all of this, Having the TIME to actually work on the Specific Project in even more Important! 

5.    Can you tell us a little bit about your writing procedure?

When as I mentioned above, get the Idea – I’ve ONLY gotten the Main Character. I know who that is. I know what the Mission or Idea or the Story is about. I also Know who the main Opposing Character is. On a scale from A to Z, there’s TWO characters – if I’m lucky more than two. The Ending as to who the Story or Book or whichever Concludes.

Between all of that, I’ve got no idea. I do not even have a Story-Line; which I’ve only used THREE times in getting my work done OR Lost work, caught-up with again. Every Other part of the Book, Story or Process I have to get along the way. Depends on what I write about, I have a General idea what Direction of Research I have to do as well. Going through this process is the PROCESS in which I work. Very Hard at most times and Yet, as I mentioned; I literarily go on the Ride, Journey, Adventure with the Characters to see what will happen along the way…

6.    Is Timmy’s adventure over?

No, Timmy’s Adventures with the books, World Of Imagination Series had ONLY begun.
At the time while I was working on Editing Book ONE, I have the Idea and Thought for books Five and Six come to me. And Yet, after Six, I suspect that the Series would be finished…
I’ve got a Great Deal more to do.

7.    What is your ultimate writing goal?

Working at it Full-time. Not worried about a Paycheck because of the Books. A movie or Two… Then as well, Traveling the World here and there would Also be Right Up There…