Author Interview – HL Burke

If your reading tastes include fantasy, dragons and romance HL’s books might be for you! [Make sure to reach the end and enter HL’s Rafflecopter giveaway.]

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HLBurkeWhat genre(s) do you write? Fantasy for the most part. I do play around with the YA category and a lot of my books have a strong romantic element, so I usually classify them fantasy/romance. I am currently working on a piece that is meant for children, though it still contains fantasy elements, just in a funnier, lighthearted way.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I’m a talker so it is hard to tell a “little bit” about anything. I get carried away. I have been writing seriously since I was a teenager, but my “day job” is being a mom and a wife. I have two little girls who I am raising to be my minions and we cos-play together from time to time. My husband’s a Marine so we move around a lot, and I kind of like that. It keeps life from getting stale.

How long have you been writing and what inspired you to begin writing? No idea. I started really early. I’ve just always had a head that wanted play time to involve elaborate stories, and when it was too difficult to get my friends and siblings to act out my scenarios for me, I fell back on dictating them to my mom. Then I learned how to actually write (I mean, use a pencil and paper and spell words) and started writing down my ideas. Most of my early stories starred me and my friends, but when I got into Lord of the Rings and Star Wars I started experimenting with more fantastic genres.

What is the last book you read? It was actually a really short book about things that have names that we don’t usually know, like aglet being the plastic part at the end of a shoelace and zarf being a decorative holder for a handle-less coffee cup: The Whatchamacallit. It would be a great book for a writing prompt exercise, actually, like “Can you incorporate ‘aglet’ into a piece of flash fiction?”

Which writers inspire you? It’s funny because I have a short list of favorite writers and I don’t write like any of them. A big influence on me was George MacDonald. I love Tolkien, Kate DiCamillo, and Dostoevsky. I probably owe the most to Gail Carson Levine who introduced me to the full length fairy tale (though other authors do it well too, she was the first I read).

Where did you get the idea from for your novel, Dragon’s Curse? I was playingcoverdesign2 around with various fairy tale ideas like, “What if the princess didn’t want to be rescued because she liked the dragon better than the knight?” The earliest versions of this story involved a knight making a deal with a dragon to kidnap a disinterested lady so the knight could impress her by “rescuing” her only to have the lady side with the dragon. It obviously got stretched from that point by quite a bit and there were other elements at play, but I fear discussing them would give away plot points.

Can you tell us something about the story? As mentioned above, it is about a woman, in this case a scholar, who travels to a new kingdom to heal a king wounded by a dragon. Then a dragon with an agenda moves into the area and starts taunting the king. Shannon, my healer/heroine, takes it upon herself to negotiate with the dragon and ends up liking him better than the majority of the humans hanging around the castle.

Who do you think will like reading your book and what other novels do you think are similar to it? In tone, the first book (or movie) that comes to mind is The Princess Bride. I see my audience as primarily female, but guys have liked it to. It is a clean story, safe for teens. If you like fairy tales and fun adventure with a little bit of tongue and cheek humor, I think you’ll like Dragon’s Curse.

Are you working on a new book or story at the moment? A few weeks ago a friend sent me a picture of a cat rubbing up against a statue of a dragon, and I sent her back a one page story about a cat who moves in with a dragon, but the more I played with the idea, the more I realized there was potential for a middle grade chapter book. I’m enjoying writing a kitten as a main character. The dragon assumes the kitten is his pet, and the kitten assumes the dragon is his pet, so it is a fun dynamic.

Where can people go to read your work and when will it be available? I have four novels currently available for purchase on Amazon, three in the same series as Dragon’s Curse (It is a four part series. I’m currently doing edits on book four and hope to have it available in December of this year) http://www.hlburkeauthor.com/h-l-burkes-novels.html.

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors? Don’t worry about being original or good or publishable or anything. Just write. Honestly, most ideas have been done before, most first drafts are sandpaper rough, and publishing is something to think about on final drafts. Especially now with self-publishing being so easy, you don’t really have to write to a market if you don’t want to. If your goal is simply, like mine was, to have someone read and enjoy your book, there is probably someone out there who will read and enjoy it the way you want to write it, not the way market trends tell you to write it.

Good reviews, mixed reviews, bad reviews – what are your thoughts on each of those? I’ve been fortunate so far not to have gotten a truly bad review. The closest I’ve come is someone recently gave a short story I wrote a two star rating on Goodreads (which on Goodreads means “it was okay” so you could argue that’s not a “bad” rating), but since there was no review attached, I’ll never know why. I don’t mind mixed reviews so much. They do sometimes give me ideas of where I can improve in the future, but I never was under the impression that my book was for everyone. As long as it is a five star book to some readers, I’m happy.

If you review other’s books, what is your approach to reviewing those? I have a hard time reviewing books. I never feel I have anything particularly useful to add. I personally try to tell what I would want to know picking up the book as a reader. Like, is it funny? Does it have a message? Is the tone dark or light (which is important because sometimes I want a book to suit my current mood)? Is it overall entertaining? Does it read quickly? I’m one of those readers who just gives a star rating without a written review 90% of the time though.

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Blurb: On her first assignment out of the Academy, young healer and scholar, Shannon Macaulay is summoned to the struggling kingdom of Regone to see to the wounds of a young but crippled king. When the unwanted attentions of an aggressive knight and the sudden appearance of a hated dragon turn her world upside down, she decides to take matters into her own hands even if doing so proves dangerous. Finding herself strangely drawn to the company of the dragon, Gnaw, Shannon must force herself out of her safe world of books and botany to come to the aid of her unexpected ally in a strange kingdom, cursed by a fateful encounter with a dragon and the loss of a beloved prince. Can she learn to put aside her fears, and perhaps sacrifice her deepest desires, to help a friend and restore a family?

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Author Interview – Karin Gastreich

If you enjoy epic fantasy, you might enjoy reading this author’s books. [Scroll to the bottom for a sample of the audio book AND a Rafflecopter giveaway.]

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Karin Rita GastreichWhat genre(s) do your write? I write epic fantasy, in the tradition of J.R.R Tolkien, centered on complex and realistic women characters.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I grew up near Kansas City. Both my parents have a strong German heritage. One of my favorite memories from my childhood are the trips we took to visit family in Germany. That’s where I fell in love with castles and medieval-style towns.

In college, I studied ecology and went on to get a PhD in this field. As a graduate student, I did my research in the tropical forests of Costa Rica, where I eventually met my husband. Right now, I am an associate professor of biology at Avila University in my home town of Kansas City. I live between two countries, the United States and Costa Rica.

How long have you been writing and what inspired you to begin writing? I have been writing ever since I can remember. The first story I wrote was based on a dream I had when I was a little girl. It was a sort of dark fairy tale, with knights and ladies and much danger, all set in a medieval town. My mother woke me up for breakfast before I finished the dream, so I decided to write the ending. I’ve been making up stories ever since.

What is the last book you read? The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson. It is an extraordinary novel based on a Japanese legend about a fox who falls in love with a man.

Which writers inspire you? It’d be impossible to list them all. J.R.R. Tolkien andEolyn_Audio Cover compressed T.H. White provided the seeds of inspiration for my own journey in fantasy. I’m also a great admirer of Gioconda Belli and other Latin American authors, such as Mario Benedetti, Isabel Allende, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. There are many authors of history and historical fiction on my list of favorites, including Elaine Pagels, Richard Holmes, Philippa Gregory, and C.W. Gortner.

Where did you get the idea from for your novel, “Eolyn”? Many people, places, and events inspired Eolyn, but I think at the heart what most motivated me was a desire to write epic fantasy in which women played meaningful roles without having to wield a sword. (That’s not to say women don’t wield swords in this world; it’s just that they don’t always need to in order to play hardball with the guys.)

Can you tell us something about the story? Sole heiress to a forbidden craft, Eolyn lives in a world where women of her kind are tortured and burned. When she meets the mysterious boy Akmael, destined to assume the throne of this violent realm, she embarks on a path of friendship, love, betrayal, and war. Bound by magic, driven apart by destiny, Eolyn and the Mage King confront each other in an epic struggle that will determine the fate of a millennial tradition of magic.

Eolyn is a stand-alone novel, and the first of three companion books. The second novel, High Maga, was released this past spring in print and ebook format. High Maga will also be available as an audiobook this fall. The third and final novel of the series, Daughter of Aithne, is in progress, with a release scheduled in 2015.

Who do you think will like reading your book and what other novels do you think are similar to it? Anyone who enjoys Tolkien or George R.R. Martin will like Eolyn. It will also appeal to readers of T.H. White and Patricia McKillip, and to all fans of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Although Eolyn is a fantasy, it reads like a historical fiction novel, so followers of that genre will probably also enjoy the book.

While Eolyn shares elements in common with these works and authors, I am really hard pressed to identify a novel that is “similar”. Eolyn’s journey is unique. Her story stands apart from much of the fantasy I have read, in that it is woman-centered and features a large cadre of women characters, without sacrificing the complexity and humanity of its men.

Think in the tradition of historical fiction author Philippa Gregory, who has made an effort to paint history from the perspective of women. This is what I am trying to do with respect to the genre of fantasy. Eolyn is a woman navigating a medieval-style world that is largely ruled by men. She confronts extraordinary challenges in this context, and she puts her unique talents to work in order to make a positive difference in the history of her people.

Are you working on a new book or story at the moment? I am currently hard at work on the third and final novel of this series, entitled Daughter of Aithne. If everything goes well, we will be releasing this novel toward the end of next year.

Where can people go to read your work and when will it be available? Eolyn and its companion novel High Maga are both available from Hadley Rille Books, [hrbpress.com]. They can be purchased in Kindle, Nook, or epub format, and are also available in paperback editions. The audio edition of Eolyn can be purchased through Amazon or itunes. We are in production for the audio edition of High Maga, and are looking forward to its release this fall.

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors? Enjoy the journey. Be authentic. Take care of yourself and live life to the fullest. Write from the heart and your stories will always be unique.

Good reviews, mixed reviews, bad reviews – what are your thoughts on each of those? All reviews are good reviews, whether the reader had a positive or negative experience. I appreciate every single review I get, because that says someone has read and thought about my books.

I wish more readers were aware that the number one way to support an author is by writing a review, either on Amazon, Goodreads, or through some other venue. Having a variety of reviews helps prospective readers find the novels that are right for them. With a range of reviews, we are better able to sell books to precisely the people who will most enjoy them. This creates a ripple effect as new (and happy) readers share their discovery with friends and fellow book enthusiasts.

If you review other’s books, what is your approach to reviewing those? First of all, I do not review books I don’t enjoy because I rarely finish them. Life is too short to read a bad book.

On the flip side, I always review books I read and enjoy, for the same reason I mentioned before: it’s the number one way to support an author.

I try to be honest and complete in my reviews, but also brief. I identify elements of the book that I really enjoyed, and also details that didn’t quite work for me. At the end of my reviews, I try to identify exactly what kind of reader(s) would enjoy this particular novel.

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Author Interview – William Hahn

The Kalieri don’t threaten with dungeoms (we have truth potions AND the ability to tell if someone lies). One of the Guardian Clans’ mages has determined that If you enjoy fantasy, you might want to take a peak at Will Hahn’s world. [Rafflecopter giveaway below]

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LoHI_JT_front_coverWhat genre(s) do your write? My tales are all set in the Lands of Hope, a world of epic and heroic fantasy. And I’m not trying to wiggle out of your first question, but I sincerely believe that if you write about another world, you’ll probably venture into all genres- there are already touches of horror, mystery, thriller, and maybe even a hint of erotica in the tales I have out there. After all, these are stories about people!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? A little bit, probably not! After all, I write “epic”. But a friend threw down the six-word-bio challenge, and I came up with this: Born Vermont, five sisters, survived both.

How long have you been writing and what inspired you to begin writing? I was blessed to have a very literate and thoughtful environment as a child, and was always writing something- comedy routines, a radio play, and probably some of the longest and worst love letters ever to meet the alphabet. But the Lands of Hope, that’s a bit easier. I had a revelation on a weekend with friends, June 22nd 2008 and came home at last determined to take the three decades of notes I had compiled about the Lands and chronicle them. Or at least start to! The good die young, so I think I still have some time.

What is the last book you read? In the past year most of what I’ve read has been the online offerings of fellow authors. But at the moment I’m nearing the end of a most remarkable book, written in 1941 by an American who had served in the US Embassy in Berlin for years under the early Nazi regime. His book is entitled “You Can’t Do Business with Hitler” which seems like a laugh-line now but was a serious argument that needed to be made at the time. A truly remarkable piece of history written just before we entered the war ourselves.

Which writers inspire you? Tolkein, Lewis and LeGuin because, duh. Mary Renault and Ariana Franklin for mastering the art of historical fiction and making it seem as exciting as fantasy. Barbara Tuchmann for writing about history in such detail that it seemed… as exciting as fantasy. Stephen R. Donaldson who wrote the Mirrors of Mordant, probably the single most enjoyable read I’ve ever had. And I must also include the great pulp authors like Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft and the Marvel Comics bullpen.

Where did you get the idea from for your novel, “Games of Chance”? This is going to be a little tricky- confession incoming. I’m not a writer, you see, but a chronicler. I don’t get ideas, and I certainly have no control over these heroes. The Lands of Hope are visible to me- I cannot explain it any better than that- and when I’ve watched them long enough I describe what I’ve seen and heard to the reader.

Can you tell us something about the story? It’s all a question of where I direct my attention, you know? In the Lands of Hope, a small number of people choose to break with the customs and traditions of their ancestors, and go on adventures in direct imitation of their ancient heroes. Adventurers are usually despised by “right-thinking” folk but they certainly have interesting lives. Ever since I first started looking in on the Lands, though, there was one in particular, named Solemn Judgement but known as The Man in Grey. Even for an outcast he was different- and whereas adventurers usually went around in small groups, Judgement could not find a home even with them. I saw this about him, saw the terrible aloneness he endured, his driven nature and the great, miraculous deeds he took part in- but I had no idea where he came from. I suddenly realized as I watched him, Solemn is not nearly as old as everyone takes him to be… This story, Judgement’s Tale, is a result of my efforts to view those early days in the career of The Man in Grey. In Part One, Games of Chance, you can see how he first came to the Lands and the crucial events he was drawn to play a part in, while still just fifteen years old.

Who do you think will like reading your book and what other novels do you think are similar to it? Judgement’s Tale is definitely epic fantasy fare- there are multiple venues, some deep mysteries and characters that I hope will stir the reader to empathize. As for similarities, naturally I bristle madam! Don’t you know everything that’s ever been written is utterly unique? No? Well, it has the I-don’t-belong-here idea you see in stories like Donaldson’s White Gold Wielder cycle. I notice several of the main characters are quite young, but it’s not much like T.H. White’s Once and Future King- this is a tale of folks who have to act grown up, quick. Certainly with the number of characters and the shifting points-of-view it may remind readers of the blockbusters of GRR Martin and Tad Williams. But I want to be clear- this is a tale of heroes, not “The Godfather in Chainmail” (my slightly-jealous nickname for Game of Thrones). The divide between Hope and Despair is sharp and visible.

Are you working on a new book or story at the moment? I have two WiPs, and asWill 3 you might imagine that doubles the rate at which I get almost nothing done. The sequel to Judgement’s Tale, The Eye of Kog, is about a quarter-drafted. But the immediate task remains, as it has for nearly two years, the third novella in the Shards of Light series, a tale called “Perilous Embraces”. It’s about half-done at 35,000 words and is without question the most difficult work I’ve ever attempted in the Lands of Hope. The main character is a beautiful female who can see the future- which is to say, I have almost no comprehension of her character. I mean, my lovely wife said “yes” when I asked her to marry me and I don’t even understand THAT.

Where can people go to read your work and when will it be available? Games of Chance will be available July 4th at all the major online retailers. I regard Smashwords as my “home” platform and encourage anyone interested in the Lands to check out my current books there (links below). If you search for me at Amazon/Apple/B&N, try spelling my name as “Wm. L. Hahn” and the results should score.

Which writers inspire you? All the ones I mentioned above. I would also like to name Katharina Gerlach, for what she writes as well as the sheer volume and energy with which she tackles the job of being an indie author today. She’s an inspiration and it’s a pleasure to work with her, as she has been so much help to me.

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors? Keep at it. I live in a combined home-office/home-school with no walls, piccolo lessons, Disney Channel and three cats. Tic, tac, nudge goes the writing, pressed nearly flat between layers of life like that last squidge of toothpaste in the tube. And it took years but I have over a quarter-million words in publication, plus blog posts and more. If you write something, you are a writer! The rest is just a question of degree.

Good reviews, mixed reviews, bad reviews – what are your thoughts on each of those? I am very pleased and almost inordinately proud of the reviews I’ve received on the Tales of Hope. The online world has a problem with reviews right now: not just the sock-puppet one-stars, but the ghost-written/Uncle Jim pandering/ you-scratch-my-back five-stars too. Somehow we need to throttle it back, and accept that four of five is REALLY good, and even three stars should mean you liked the book and recommend it. This five-stars-or-bust mentality is grade inflation at its worst. I urge folks who’d like to know more to check out a site that’s trying a novel way to produce honest, high- quality reviews- it’s called BookVetter and the demos alone are well worth a visit.

If you review other’s books, what is your approach to reviewing those? I give peer reviews at my day job all the time- technology writing, very businesslike and rather colorless- so it’s a joy to review a book read for pleasure. I definitely lean towards the positive side, despite what I said above. But when I see a problem, I mention it- I try to clarify what this would mean for the audience (for example, that the writing level is not poor at all, but probably better for younger readers or something like that). A lot of blurbs try to make a book sound like you couldn’t possibly dislike it regardless of age, and that’s seldom true.

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Links: Will Hahn is the chronicler of the Lands of Hope tales. Will Hahn at Smashwords:ThePlane of Dreams– A band of adventuring companions finds their greatest challenge comes when the quest has ended. See the trailer!The Ring and the Flag–  Captain Justin races to save a rebellious barony from itself, with men who think he isn’t worthy to lead. Shards of Light Part One Fencing Reputation– The renowned stealthic Feldspar tries to unearth a dangerous artifact, and still keep his identity hidden, perhaps even from himself. Shards of Light Part Two Three Minutes to Midnight– If Trekelny is to steal the temple’s greatest treasure, he must take the love of its High Priestess with him. A brief tale of the early days. The Book of Tales– A short illustrated tome of legends from the distant past of the Lands, featuring magical beasts and heroes. The Lands of Hope Facebook Page (shows the chronology of the Lands and has news about publications)

Website: Will shares time with other indie authors at the Independent BookwormThe Compendium of the Lands and the Maps of Hope are freely available there. You can also find Will’s Blog Thoughts – Including tales of a happy childhood (which continues), hopes for a writer’s journey, and analysis of Classics You’ve Never Read.

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Author Interview – Douglas Owen

If you enjoy reading fast paced fantasy or science fiction, Douglas Owen may be the author for you.

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DO_A_Sharp_Spear_PointWhat genre(s) do your write? That’s really a hard one. Generally my writing genre of choice is Fantasy and Science Fiction, but currently I have a series of books called “Spear” that are Young Adult Fantasy novels. My short stories cover anything from Fantasy, Science Fiction, Memoir, Suspense and Romance. You can basically say my writing can be well rounded. Generally speaking, the only difference between the Genres is only when and where they happen.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I’m a techno geek (is that really a word). If you saw the house you’d understand why. Literally tons of electronics placed strategically all over. Oh, that’s just my hobby? Okay. Well to start things off I was born in 1964 to Joan and Art Owen. I was a surprise, for their doctor had informed them they could not have another child. One brother, Gary, was my nemesis in my childhood years. We fought constantly much to my parent’s heartaches. Our relationship has changed, but every once in a while our heads butt and sparks fly.

My father loves music, and in the 1960’s he fell in love with Drum Corps. It was nothing for us to be dragged off to a stadium to watch the competitions as they took place. Unfortunately, the whole field has changed. No longer are the musicians playing the same songs. So he fell out of love of them around the time I took up music. His influence on part of my life led me to pursue music as a hobby. In the early 70’s I joined the Sparky’s Drum Corp in Scarborough. The late 70’s saw my interest in flying take off and I joined Air Cadets. They quickly indoctrinated me into the band where I was promoted to lead trumpet and soloist for several years. My musical interest took me to the Guelph Royal Airs Drum Corp for a year before I was tired of the drive. In the early 80’s I joined the Toronto Signals Trumpet Band and became their lead trumpet and soloist until the late 90’s.

I fell out of love of marching in the late 90’s and hung up my horn. I still somewhat miss the old marching bands of yesterday, and would join back in if one formed with the old music. It’s interesting how nostalgia runs through your mind.

I’m also an avid fisherman and reader. When I was young I used to devour books in a few days. We’re not talking the usual books here. The Hardy Boys Mysteries my parents purchased did not last long. I finished them in just a few hours. After looking around for things to read, my grandmother handed me an old “Fantastic Tales” that she had laying around the home and that is when my love of Science Fiction took off. My grandmother fed my interest in such like a kid asked if they wanted candy.

Later on in life, I was able to discern the good from the bad. I steamed through the Lord Fouls Bane series and realized Fantasy was also an amazing genre. The Hobbit was all but memorized and The Lord of the Rings trilogy disappeared into my mind in two weeks. All this while I moved from general studies to advanced in school. It didn’t take them long to realize my lack of high scores was not due to low intelligence, just boredom. A teacher put a physics text book under my nose and I finished all chapters and questions in just over a month, leaving my classmates behind. My final score in the course was 94% (for context, I usually scored 68% in all my classes. Like I said, boredom).

When I entered the workforce my employers found my style of writing well rounded and engaged me to create advertisements as well as manuals. I made my way through the car industry as a sales person, financial adviser and manager. But it grew tiring for the dealerships I had been employed with didn’t like paying such high commissions. So I left the car industry and joined the collection field. I left a huge mark there, as well as a manual labeled “The Fundamentals of Collections”. To this day the company I wrote that manual for is still using it. The doctrines outlined changed the companies collection style and made them a force to be reckoned with. One day I may just have to rewrite it and publish the work.

The collection field turned out to be just as flaky as the car industry. In 1995 industrial sabotage and a desire to stop writing bonus cheques of $6,000 a month pushed me out of the field. I joined the banking industry.

My career with Scotiabank has been a reliable income as I test my authoring abilities. Now I deal with multi-national companies and help direct billions of dollars around the world every week. The numerous characters I am exposed to everyday fuels my novels with believable villains and heroes. It is my hope that, one day, writing will be the only job I have to look forward to when I awaken in the morning.

How long have you been writing and what inspired you to begin writing? I began writing in the early 1980’s. Nothing really fancy, just elaborate back stories to the adventures I created for the game Dungeons and Dragons. From there, short stories surfaced and finally, in 2010, a friend told me to write a novel, and I did.

What is the last book you read? Chris Longknife – Deserter

It is an interesting Science Fiction book, third in the series. Still think the author needs a better editor but then again, don’t we all?

Which writers inspire you? There are so many. I think Stephen Donaldson with his never say die approach to getting the Lord Fouls Bane series published is a good example. Then there is Steven King and his never stop writing attitude. Another inspiring writer is the late Frederick Pohl, who did it all for his writing.

Where did you get the idea from for your novel, “Spear”? I was wondering what to write about, having just finished my first novel and banging my head against the wall with the start of a bunch of others. The NaNoWriMo surfaced and I headed toward that like a long lost lover. It was not until two weeks before the start that the idea hit me. The outline came easy and I chewed at the bit waiting for the start, the first chapter already in my head.

Can you tell us something about the story? The story centres around three children as they are being trained as Spears, the protectors of an island continent called The Realm. It is a medieval society under constant political pressure from the dwarven society and threat of war from the elves. The first book covers the training each of the children go through. The second book picks up right after the first, and our main characters must deal with a hobs invasion. Each character deals with issues throughout the second book and deals with growing up as a Spear, with no family, just their companions. You will see definite in each character as they develop through the novel. Jealousy, rage, pride, madness, it is all covered in the book as well as betrayal. Several very interesting themes are discovered, and of course it is not a perfect world.

Who do you think will like reading your book and what other novels do you thinkDO_InsideMyMind are similar to it? Young Adults love the series. I’ve been told that some of the readers picked up the book, started reading and would not put it down until they were finished. Others have reported that some have read it multiple times in a month. I was shocked and humbled that the first book made such an impact on the readers. The second book will be even more intense as the children are maturing over the course of the second novel.

Are you working on a new book or story at the moment? Yes. Many. I have four books currently in rewrite. The first two books of my Zero-G series, and the first book of my Bloodcells series. I am just finishing off a collection of short stories and flash fiction called Inside My Mind, which I hope to turn into a recurring theme.

On the back burner are the first book of Assassins of Tomorrow, China Girl, Rejuvenation, Installing Dogma – Please Stand By, and I Time Travel.

Where can people go to read your work and when will it be available? My books will always be available through Amazon and several book stores. If you check online you’ll see links to the sales sites in each book or series link. Doug’s Website

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors? Read! The more you read the better writer you will become.

Besides that, take any writing course you can, just don’t go to the ones offered at colleges or universities. You may wonder why. It is because they will shoe horn you into what they believe a good writer is, and believe me, most are wrong. A good writer is someone who puts themselves out there and bares their soul for others to read. You don’t need a college professor telling you that your story sucks and you shouldn’t write.

It reminds me of a short story I wrote last year, called Bone Digging. I back dropped the story in the bad lands of Alberta, in an archaeology dig. Lots of things went on about the work. The main character was cleaning around a bone with a toothbrush. I made sure all my research was correct and that everything would be perfect. The critiquing group I was with sat jaw dropped as I read it out. The workshop facilitator, Isobel Warren (you’ll have to look her up, fantastic writer), wanted to know how I came up with such an idea from the prompt. She was shocked. I had a friend of mine take it to her aunt, who teaches at Senica College. The aunt critiqued the work and told me not to write about things I knew nothing about. She told me the badlands in Alberta did not look the way I described them, little did she know I had visited them years ago. The professor also said that in an archaeological dig they do not use toothbrushes, they used bone brushes. It seems the professor did not do their research for the University of Alberta’s website tells potential archaeological students that they will use toothbrushes to do the detailed work around focalized bones.

There were other things, like saying the word I used from the aboriginal culture in the area was incorrect, even though I had pulled it from the band’s website.

I guess what I am trying to say is don’t get discouraged by those around you who say, “This is crap.” They are probably jealous of your accomplishment. Keep writing and keep at it. You can only get better. And also surround yourself with writers. Don’t listen to someone who tells you not to write a story, or a certain genre because they think it has been overdone. Write what you want and do it the way you want to. Get a good editor and have them correct the spelling and grammar as best they can. And keep at it. No one will know you unless you keep at it.

Good reviews, mixed reviews, bad reviews – what are your thoughts on each of those? Everyone loves a good review of their work. It is something that automatically brings a smile to your face. The good review justifies the existence of your writing, and charges up the old battery pack. I love good reviews.

But you can also get mixed reviews as well. And while they may not make you happy, they are a collection of positive as well as negative feedback that you should hold close to your heart. A mixed review tells me I did something good, but have improvements yet to be completed. I accept them for what they are – feedback on what I have written. They are accepted and changes are incorporated for the next release.

Bad reviews are welcome. They tell me there is more to learn, and that some people have not yet accepted what I have put out. I look at a bad review as a chance to learn what people expect of my writing. It is a chance to improve my art, and hone my skill.

If you review other’s books, what is your approach to reviewing those? I have only started to recently post reviews on the writing I have read. Usually it is work in progress that is reviewed in order to help the other writer. But that does not mean I haven’t posted book reviews. You will be able to find them by searching through my website when they are done.

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From my collection of short stories – Excerpt from Ark One:

“Yes, Alex?”

“Why do we need to get Parker back into cryo quickly?” Nice simple question.

“Because he’s a born.” Simple response but it makes no sense.

“I don’t understand. Why?”

“Because he’s a born. A natural. Not like you. His needs will overcome what can be given to him. Remember when you were awakened, Alex?” Her tone is nice and calm. “You were born the size you are now. You’ve never known the hardships of growing up, of becoming the man you are. This Parker grew up on Earth. Children on Earth are subject to problems. They are damaged psychologically no matter how you look at it.”

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Author Interview – C.J. Jessop

After reading her collection of short stories, I managed to snag an author interview with C.J. Jessop.

Find out a bit about C.J. and discover what other treats of reading pleasure this author is working on.

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Cheryl_CoverWhat genre(s) do your write? I write speculative fiction, under which banner comes fantasy, science fiction and horror. I don’t tend to write horror, although some of my fantasy can end up a little dark. And then, under fantasy, there are sword and sorcery, epic fantasy, contemporary fantasy, etc and I write all of those too.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I’m English, living in Colorado, USA with my American husband. I have two, wonderful grown-up children and when I’m not writing I love reading, exploring new places (especially up in the mountains) and playing video games. I studied creative writing as part of my English degree, but I learned most about writing from reading.

How long have you been writing and what inspired you to begin writing? I started writing stories for my friends when I was still at school, I wrote my first novel when I was in my twenties (it was awful), while my babies were napping and began writing more seriously when I hit my mid-thirties. I was inspired to write by all the wonderful stories I read—I was a voracious reader from an early age and every story I read inspired me to daydreaming my own stories. That’s why my blog is called ‘Off With the Fairies’ as

What is the last book you read? Aside from two of your Kalieri Tales, the last novel I read was Sacrifice by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. I’m currently reading The Undivided by J Fallon.

Which writers inspire you? Terry Pratchett inspires me the most. His characters come alive and stay with you long after you’ve finished reading. And the man is still writing, while suffering from Early Onset Alzheimers. David Gemmell inspired me to write characters who were human, flaws and all. Anne McCaffery inspired me to write my female characters strong and independent, without turning them into men.

Where did you get the idea from for your novel? My stories kind of develop as I CherylPicgo. For the novel series I’m currently writing, it started out with a scene in which a man wakes up with a hangover to find himself the prisoner of a woman bounty-hunter. That is not the first scene, but the whole of the first novel developed from that image. By the time I finished plotting the novel, I realized there was more of this story to tell and I’m now working on book two of three. But those aren’t published, yet. What I do have published is a collection of my previously published short stories, which are all very different. It was more of an exploration into the workings of self-publishing than anything else.

Can you tell us something about the story? Out of the Blue is several stories, some of which are quite bleak, some humorous, some hopeful. There’s no real connection between them, other than they’re all written by me, and all but two have been published in different publications in the past.

Who do you think will like reading your book? People who like short stories that give them pause for thought might enjoy Out of the Blue.

Are you working on a new book or story at the moment? I’m currently drafting the second novel in my sword and sorcery trilogy. And I just finished two short stories that wouldn’t be ignored.

Where can people go to read your work and when will it be available? Out of the Blue is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. It’s available now.

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors? Read. Read some more. Keep writing, and make friends with other writers.

Good reviews, mixed reviews, bad reviews – what are your thoughts on each of those? I think all reviews have their value. You just have to keep things in perspective. You can’t please everyone and you shouldn’t try. If your reviews are good on the whole, then a bad review won’t make a lot of difference, and maybe that reader is not your audience. That said, if you’re getting a lot of bad reviews then maybe look at your work again. You being anyone who happens to be reading this, of course (and me too!).

If you review other’s books, what is your approach to reviewing those? I’m honest, but not brutally so. I’ll always try to find something positive to say, and if I can’t then I won’t review.

Website: http://cjjessop.weebly.com

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Read an excerpt from Out of the Blue below.

An excerpt from Disintegration—the first story in Out of the Blue

Soft light invaded the bedroom, along with sounds of birdsong. Sal groaned. It would soon be time to get up. An edgy fluttering in her stomach had kept her awake for most of the night, and she had no idea why. Everything was as it should be. She had never been happier. Still, the feeling remained and even the familiar rhythm of Steve’s breathing beside her failed to bring reassurance.

She sat up, seeking comfort in her surroundings. The race-car alarm clock that the kids bought Steve last Christmas said six-thirty. Deep scratches in the oak closet door had been there since they moved in, six years ago. Flimsy curtains fluttered in the breeze from an open window. They were too short, but matched her favourite bedspread, so she had added lace to the bottom to make them reach the sill. She went on like that for some time, cataloguing every familiar item in her memory, but could not shake the dread.

Steve had pulled the covers tight around his neck, as he always did. Watching the rise and fall of his shoulders, Sal curled up against his back and tried to let the slow, almost hypnotic, rhythm soothe her. Perhaps she had been dreaming before she woke in the night. She could not dredge up any memory of a dream, but then she rarely remembered. Nothing else made sense; it had to be a dream—a nightmare—and only the anxiety had survived waking.

She pulled back the covers and swung her legs to the floor. Time to be up and about. The hour before she left for work was her alonetime, before Steve and the boys rose. No point in wasting it by lying in bed wide awake. Yawning, she crossed the room and reached to grab her robe from its hook on the back of the door. From the corner of her eye, she caught sight of her reflection in the mirror above the dresser, and she stopped, arm stilled in the act of reaching for the robe. Slowly, heart stuttering, she turned to face the mirror.

An attractive face stared back at her—lean and lightly tanned, with wide brown eyes and a full mouth. Short, dark, sleep-ruffled hair softened the angles. All in all, it was a pleasant face.

But it was the wrong face.

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